Mundie Moms

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Reviews: Under Dogs and iBoy

By: Markus Zusak
Published by: Scholastic
Released on: August 1st, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
3 stars: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

From the bestselling author of THE BOOK THIEF

Before THE BOOK THIEF, Markus Zusak wrote a trilogy of novels about the Wolfe Brothers: THE UNDERDOG, FIGHTING RUBEN WOLFE, and GETTING THE GIRL. Cameron and Ruben Wolfe are champions at getting into fights, coming up with half-baked schemes, and generally disappointing girls, their parents, and their much more motivated older siblings. They're intensely loyal to each other, brothers at their best and at their very worst. But when Cameron falls head over heels for Ruben's girlfriend, the strength of their bond is tested to its breaking point.

We're proud to present these novels together for the first time, and to be introducing American readers to THE UNDERDOG, never before published in the United States. Fans of THE BOOK THIEF won't want to miss reading the novels that launched Markus Zusak's stellar career. -quoted from Goodreads

I have yet to read The Book Thief, which has been highly recommended to me numerous times, so this is my first time reading Markus's work. Being that Underdogs, a collection of three stories following the Wolfe Brothers (The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Getting the Girl), is Markus's first writing, I can only imagine how brilliantly written The Book Thief is. It's not that these books were bad, because they weren't, they were good reads. Overall this collection show cases how Markus's writing improved with each story, which I loved.

The Underdogs- This was the hardest story for me to connect with. There wasn't an in-depth plot for me to fall in love with. Instead, Markus used his characters to connect me to the story. While he did a good job at that, I was still left with a feeling this story was missing something. Cameron is one of those characters I couldn't help but like. I felt he was portrayed in a very realistic, raw way. I liked his voice in this story, and I felt bad for him, as he just could not catch a break. He and his brother get into quite a bit of mischief, they're always disappointing their parents, and they don't measure up to their older siblings. But, at the heart of this story is a realistic portrayal of a teenager who wants to fall in love, and be loved, who has dreams and aspirations he wants to achieve.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe- The thing I enjoyed the most about this story, is feeling like I was reading the true story of Cameron. Markus's writing style and character development in this story created a feeling of reality. He took his character development from The Underdogs to a more detailed level, which I enjoyed. The family dynamic changes a bit, and Cameron and his bother Ruben's realistic love/hate relationship intensifies. In reading this book I felt like if I visited Cameron's neck of the woods in Australia I could knock on any neighbor's door and they'd have some story to tell me about the trouble Cameron and his brother caused.

Getting The Girl- Through out the first two books, Markus does a great job at bringing to light the similarities and differences between both Cameron and his brother Ruben. Whether it be with girls, sports or what have you. It's in this book that I felt I really got to see just how different the two really are. Aside from the love interests, brotherly love/brotherly fights, and the trouble they cause, is a witty, realistic portrayal of life, choices, consequences and finding our place in the world. Life isn't always about winning, or winning the girl. It's about being yourself, and never giving up, no matter how many times you get knocked down. In Cameron's case, it's a lot. It's those elements combined with Markus's writing prose that kept me reading Cameron's story.

By: Kevin Brooks
Published by: Scholastic
Released on: November 1st, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Rating: this book wasn't my cup of tea
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What can he do with his new powers -- and what are they doing to him?

Before the attack, Tom Harvey was just an average teen. But a head-on collision with high technology has turned him into an actualized App. Fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain. And they're having an extraordinary effect on his every thought.

Because now Tom knows, sees, and can do more than any normal boy ever could. But with his new powers comes a choice: To avenge Lucy, the girl he loves, will he hunt down the vicious gangsters who hurt her? Will he take the law into his own electric hands and exterminate them from the South London housing projects where, by fear and violence, they rule?

Not even his mental search engine can predict the shocking outcome of iBoy's actions. -quoted from Goodreads

Based on the premise alone I was looking forward to reading this book. Teenage boys gets impaled with iPhone and in turn gains extraordinary powers. For some reason as the story progressed I had a hard time buying into this plot line. It went from being intriguing to one that reminded me a bit of Iron Man. Where Tom lives isn't a pretty area, and with all the gang activity going on, he uses his powers to help others, as well as seeks revenge for some truly horrific things that happen to a good friend of his. I don't mind reading books that may have a bit of a darker tone to them, but I had a really hard time with the things that happen in iBoy. Mixed in with the cast of what some would deem truly troubled characters is a gang rape of a 16 yr old girl, Tom's friend. I couldn't blame him for wanting to get revenge, but wow, he knows how to get revenge with a vengeance. I'll just leave it at that.

Even though I struggled with liking the plot line of this book, I would have liked it a bit more if there wasn't an expletive on every page, or what felt like every page on the book. I get that living in the wrong part of town there's going to be language, heck even even Tom didn't live on the wrong side of town I could take a little bit of language, but the constant use of the f-bomb and over use of too many expletives took any desire I had to really enjoy reading this book. As I've said many times before, I don't mind a little bit of language, but I can't stand it when a YA book is inundated with it. This wasn't my cup of tea, but it's one Kevin Brooks fans and even older YA readers may enjoy.

2011 Mundie Moms Favorites: YA Historical Reads

It's day 7 of our 2011 MM Favorites and today we're sharing our favorite 2011 YA Historical's list. I had the privilliage of taking part in YA Bliss's 2011 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge this year, and I have to say, this was one of my favorite challenges. I'm such a sucker for a well written historical fiction. There's something about being whisked back in time that I absolutely love. Here's my top 10 favorite YA Historical Reads from this year:
  1. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
  2. Between The Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  3. The River of Time Series by Lisa T Bergren (Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent)
  4. This Dark Endeavor: The Apprentice of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel
  5. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
  6. Fateful by Claudia Gray
  7. The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
  8. Entwined by Heather Dixon
  9. The Eternal Sea by Angie Frazier
  10. Steel by Carrie Vaughn
There's more fabulous historical's I read this year, but these were the ones that stuck out the most to me. I'm looking forward to the upcoming 2012 YA historical releases. This year was a great year for this genre. What were some of your favorite YA historical's you read this year?

Book Review: Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Published by: Simon Pulse/MTV Books
Released on: July 19th, 2011
Source: Bought
3.5 stars: I Liked It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

She's writing about him. he's writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines..

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true

Writing, romance and two incredibly stubborn characters makes for one interesting love story. I have really come to admire Jennifer's realistic, raw and honest writing style. It makes her stories feel more relatable to me, and it's one of the things I love about each of her books that I've read. With this story I enjoyed the way the two characters, Erin and Hunter battled out their feelings for each other through out the entire story. It was obvious from the get go that they were in love with another, but their denial created some addicting tensions between the two of them. I loved the creative way we learn about both Erin & Hunter's past history together, which is through the stories they both write and share with their creative writing class in college. Each story seemed liked a jab to the two of them, but it was evident to me that this was the beginning of a love story that started taking place between them years before.

I admire Erin's character, even though she is incredibly stubborn. She had it all, but she's working her butt off to support herself as a freshman in college, in NYC. Some of us know how hard that is, and then throw in working and going to school in NYC on top of that, and you'll admire the drive Erin has. Her perfect match is Hunter, and he's just as stubborn as she is, though he can be a little more smooth about the things he does. Speaking of that, he does a few things that made me want to slap him like Erin does. She also does a few stupid things too, but that's one of the things I like about the two of them. They're imperfect and flawed and have a complicated history together, and somehow they figure out a way to work through all that. I enjoyed the way their complicated history together unravels, and getting to understand the two of them more.

Normally I'm totally impatient when it comes to swoon-worthy moments, and it's not often you'll hear me say this, but I love the fact that Jennifer has a way of making her readers wait for those moments. It makes the story seem more credible and it of course invests me as a reader even more so, because I want to know what happens between the two characters. That's one of the reasons I was hooked on this story. I also really liked that this story centers on two characters who are starting their freshman year in college. It's during this time in life things are exciting and complicated and I felt that factored into Erin's story well. This is a story that I think YA fans and fans who love a good cross over will enjoy. I feel fans of Jennifer Echols will really enjoy Love Story. This is a good read and one I enjoyed. There is some mild language in this story, and tastefully written sensual scenes that may not make this suitable for younger YA readers.

2011 Mundie Moms Favorites: Author Interviews #1

It's day 7 of our 2011 MM Favorites, and this series wouldn't be complete with out a few fun interviews with some of this year's favorite authors. I asked a variety of authors different questions, some correspond with our posts and some are more about about writing. Here's today's fun questions:

If you could have one paranormal power, what would it be and why?

Samantha Young (The Lunarmorte Series):

I think I’d love to be a shapeshifter. You can be anything you wanted, anytime you wanted. There’s so much freedom in that. Sounds awesome. If I couldn’t be a shapeshifter I’d be a mindreader because… well… I’m just really nosy.

Debbie Viguie (Unleashed):

I'm thinking eternal life (but preferably without the blood sucking!)

Nancy Holder (Unleashed):

Super speed so I get it all done and still have time read down my TRB pile AND watch all the TV shows I have seasons passes for!

Sophie Jordan (Vanish):

Oh, that's tough. In my Firelight series, every draki has a different talent. There are so many cool paranormal abilities to pick from ... but the one thing they all have in common is the ability to fly. So ... I guess I would pick that power. I can't tell you how many dreams I've had where I was flying. It's the ultimate freedom. When I was writing the first Firelight novel I had several "flying" dreams. I would actually tap into those dreams and recall the sensation of flying in order to write those flying scenes. It'd be cool to experience it for real.

Aprilynne Pike (Illusions):

I'm afraid my one paranormal power isn't very interesting. I would fly. I have always wished to be able to fly through the air. It is one of my very first childhood wishes! I used to pretend I was flying when I was swimming and just loved the feeling of being free and weightless! And, of course, heights thrill me!

Shannon Delany (Secrets & Shadow):

If I could have one paranormal power I think it would be the power to slow time down around me every once in a while without being impacted myself. I like being able to say the right thing at the right time or deliver a witty reply but there are days my caffeine-to-blood ratio is off and the words aren't flying. On those days I'd love to see the verbal opening, slow the world down so I could come up with my best reply, and then go!

Who's your favorite Hot Boy with Sword?

Carrie Harris (Bad Taste in Boys): This is a dangerous question. Dangerously AWESOME, that is. I've actually dated hot boys with swords. Some of those swords were even made out of metal instead of PVC. But anyway, I digress. I'm going to go with Tom Imura from ROT AND RUIN. He's sensitive. He's sweet. He can ginsu a zombie in five seconds or less. And he has his own collector's card. I'm a geek girl; I can't resist a guy that I can collect and trade with my friends. Which sounds a lot pervier than I intended, but you know what I mean, right? RIGHT? Buehler? Buehler with a sword?

This is what happens when I have too much caffeine.

Saundra Mitchell (The Vespertine): Hot Boy With Sword from TV is MERLIN. See attached. MUAHAHAHAHHA. And boy with accent so totally has to be James McAvoy as Professor X. I thought bad, bad, bad things about Professor X.

Myra McEntire (Hourglass): Ben Barnes. I mean ... Prince Caspian. Oh, come on, I really mean Ben Barnes. Unless it's Kit Harrington. I mean ... Jon Snow. Who are we kidding here? Kit Harrington.

(this is my Christmas present for Sophie & her viewing pleasure) *snickers*

Who's your favorite fictional character with an accent?

Tara Hudson (HEREAFTER): Oh, I love it!My favorite fictional character with an accent is Richard Mayhew from Neil Gaiman's NEVERWHERE, because even occasional wimpyness sounds better in a Scottish brogue!

Myra McEntire (Hourglass): Um ... It would have to be a tie between my boys! Michael has that softer, more drawl-y Georgia thing going on, whereas Kaleb just has a whole lot of Southern sexy going on. Wait. What was the question?

Thank you to Myra McEntire, Saundra Mitchell, Tara Hudson, Sophie Jordan, Shannon Delany, Samantha Young, Debbie Viguie, Nancy Holder, Aprilynne Pike & Carrie Harris for stopping by today!