Sunday, February 27, 2011

Melissa De La Cruz. BLOODY VALENTINE

BLOODY VALENTINE is a Blue Bloods book. It's not a new chapter in the saga, but more of an extra special set of stories about some of the characters. As the title suggests, all three stories are love stories.

We get to spend some time with Schuyler's mom, Allegra, to see how she fell in love with a human. Oliver is featured in his own story about meeting an intriguing woman, who may help him get over Schuyler. Lastly, we have a story about Schuyler and Jack's upcoming bonding that leaves me wanting more. In fact, the whole book leaves me wanting more! (Pausing to check with the next novel is coming out...looks like it may be a while, so enjoy this!).

I just adore this series! As I've said before in my many reviews past, this series gets better with each installment. I loved TWILIGHT, don't get me wrong, but this is the smarter, deeper, more fascinating vampire series, for sure.

If you haven't read them yet, go out & get them!

By the way, I scored an interview with the author a while back, check it out here.

Feast your eyes on the gorgeous trailer:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jordan Sonnenblick. AFTER EVER AFTER

Jeffrey isn't a little boy with cancer anymore. He's past all the treatments, the hospital stays, and the community support. He's in the next stage now, which he considers a life-sentence all on its own. Kids aren't sure how to treat him. The one lingering aspect of his cancer is his trouble with math. The chemicals messed with his brain and his ability to work with numbers. His dad is frustrated with Jeffrey, because he's a math whiz himself, so surely his son must be a disappointment. His best friend, Tad, is also a cancer survivor, although he was left with physical damage, rather than mental. He's in a wheelchair. His sharp wit and loyalty is just what Jeffrey needs.

Now in eighth grade, both boys wonder about having a normal life. When Lyndsay, from California, transfers to the school and befriends Jeffrey, he begins to think that maybe he will expeience some normalcy. Then a letter arrives in the mail explaining that all students must pass the state exam in eighth grade, before moving on to high school. It crushes him, until Tad comes up with a plan.

This book balances heavy issues with laughter and lighthearted typical middle school worries better than I've ever seen. During one moment, you're laughing hysterically, then the next moment, you're feeling the weight of events in Jeffrey's life.  But even with two kids and cancer, there is not one single depressing moment. You will be left feeling moved and uplifted. I really love it!

By the way, I listened to the audio version and it was spectacular! Nick Podehl is perfect at altering the voices for the character! At one point, I laughed so hard while on a run that I had to stop and catch my breath! I know I would've enjoyed reading the book also, but it would've been a way different experience.

Also, this book is sort of a sequel to DRUMS, GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE, but not really. DRUMS features Jeffrey's older brother, Steven, while he was in eighth grade. This one is several years later when Jeffrey is in eighth grade. I did not read DRUMS (yet), and I didn't feel I was missing anything at all. In fact, I didn't even know this tidbit until after I read it.

Click here for more on Jordan Sonnenblick and his fabulous books.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

John Green. PAPER TOWNS

What a novel! There is so much to say, I'm not sure where to start. How about a quick summary.

Quentin Jacobsen has been in love with his neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman pretty much all of his life. When they were young they spent a lot of time together, but now as seniors in high school - not so much. Margo is queen of the cool and beautiful. Quentin (people call him Q) and his friends Ben and Radar aren't exactly friends with her crowd. They do admire her from afar. Until one night when Margo shows up at Quentin's window in the middle of the night to telling him that he's in for the night of his life. She coerces him to drive her around to complete a mission. Begrudgingly, Q agrees to "borrow" his mom's van and drive her around on her mission, even though it is a school night. This is definitely the most action packed portion of the book. Q drives Margo to various houses, downtown high rises and a theme park to complete a task at each location.

Q ends up having a blast and figures that he and Margo have gotten close enough that perhaps things will be different at school the next day. But Margo throws a wrench in that plan by disappearing. No one knows where she went. She's gone for several days when Q begins to worry. He ponders some of the things she said that night, and he really begins to question her motives. Is she just playing the disappearing act she's done so many times in the past or is there something serious going on with Margo? Q, Radar and Ben begin to dissect some clues that were left for Q, and the mystery of locating Margo begins.

My summary here cannot even begin to describe how much more there is to this novel. The witty dialogue between Q and his friends and the array of unique characters alone make this a must read. But there is so much more. It's thoughtful, smart and just epic!

By the way, I listened to the audio version and it's fantastic! In fact, it turns out that the reader is Dan John Miller and he's won an award for this audio book. I'm not surprised at all!

I've read two others by Jon Green LOOKING FOR ALASKA and LET IT SNOW. I probably don't need to tell you how awesome he is. But in case you've been living under a rock, check him and his Nerdfighting crew out here.