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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin

Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin

Release Date: August 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Pages: 208

Sophie Blue is a goth and artist with a sharp tongue. About a year ago, her father disappeared and was never heard from again. When a creepy-looking ice cream car starts showing up everywhere Sophie goes, Sophie thinks she's going insane. As more bizarre events follow, Sophie's suspicions start to rise. Could this, and her father's disappearance, be related to the lab he used to work for?

Kenny Fade is popular and has it all--looks, unbeatable skill on the basketball court, and a hot girlfriend. Yet despite all this, unusual events keep occuring around him, and his thoughts are getting more and more twisted...could he be losing his mind too? And what is this lab that keeps popping up in his thoughts?!

Fade to Blue
is plenty confusing, but it's good! I got rather confused on whether it was real, just all in their heads, or who knows! It's unlike anything I've read before, but I found myself enjoying it. The rather cynical (and sinister, at times) humor kept me turning the pages. At times, I felt like I had no idea what was going on--there were so many twists and turns! In my opinion, it's a very bizarre book. But despite all that, and despite the book's dark humor, Fade to Blue is an enjoyable read. Though I might recommend it to slightly older readers--they might appreciate it more.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

Taken by Storm by Angela Morrison

Release Date: March 5, 2009
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 304

Lessie is a devout Mormon and since she lives in a small town, it's not that hard to follow her religion's rules. Her goal is to live a pure life and get into BYU. However, when Michael comes into town, her resolve starts to crumble.

Michael is a free diver and lives for his hobby. However, when his parents are killed by a hurricane, he is forced to move to a small town with a relative. His heart still aching for his parents and his past life, Michael slowly sinks into a depression.

Lessie is instantly drawn to Michael when he comes to town. Seeing his pain, she wants to comfort for him, but soon, she finds herself falling for him as well...
Can she still live a pure life? Or will she be unable to stay faithful to her religion and lose sight of her dreams?

Okay, where to start?
Let's start with the writing--it was fantastic, especially for a first novel! It is well written and I loved the switching view points and poems.

However, I was not exactly thrilled with the characters and what they stood for. While I admire Lessie's strong belief in her faith and desire to remain pure by her religion's standards, I was not too happy with Michael's character. Yes, he is not Mormon, yes, he's a teenage boy, and yes, he is grieving, but even under those circumstances, I find it hard to believe that a guy would be so cold towards a relationship and only be lustful the whole time.
The two extremes were a little too extreme. Lessie was pure and the ideal, while those who weren't Mormon were lustful, dark, vile people. Just because you aren't Mormon or religious, doesn't mean you're this horrid person who only ever wants and thinks of sex. I felt Michael was portrayed in a really unflattering and unfair light.

There was another small problem concerning characters for me as well; Lessie's character. Although it is good that she is caring and forgiving, sometimes she seemed like she wasn't really standing up for herself. She needn't take everything lying down, especially when she didn't want to be pushed.

Next, I am a fan of happy endings, as long as they're not too perfect and far fetched. But I felt everything tied up a little too nicely for Lessie at the end. I don't want to spoil anything, but it felt a wee bit convenient. At least it wasn't rushed.

So yes, I have conflicting feelings about this book. It is well written, but rather biased and a little too extreme for me. It's not exactly preachy, but it is still extreme. At times I felt like good vs evil (with Michael being the evil one) was being blatantly stated again and again. I have every respect for those who have a religion, as I am among that number, but a certain amount of tolerance and true understanding is necessary.

My enjoyment may have been a bit marred by these things, but overall, I think I still enjoyed reading this book. The writing, as I mentioned before, was excellent!
Before I end this review, I have two side notes; I love the title, Taken by Storm--it works perfectly! The cover is also wonderful and fits the book. To me, it looked like a notebook, and since Lessie is a poet and often expresses herself through her writing, this cover works nicely as well. I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I think the cover itself looks quite nice!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Release Date: June 2, 2009
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 336

Nick and his brother Alan have been on the run from magicians and magician's circles ever since they were young. They haven't stopped since their father was killed by magicians who were after their mother's charm, which happens to be keeping her alive.

Their mother has been disturbed ever since Nick can remember, but Alan insists on taking care of her. Nick is not entirely happy with their mother since she seems to hate him, but Alan has always cared for Nick and is very devoted to him. Just when their life got a bit more comfortable, Nick and Alan are attacked again. After defeating their ambush, Nick and Alan find that their battle with the magicians had an audience of two.

Already annoyed by all the trouble the pursuing magicians and the demons they command give them, Nick hardly wants to help Jamie and Mae, the pair who witnessed the latest attack Nick and Alan had to fend off. But the ever-compassionate Alan agrees to help them when he finds that Jamie has a third-tier demon mark on him. The mark condemns Jamie to death, but Alan agrees to take them to the Goblin Market to see if there is any help available.

With Jamie and Mae joining their party, Alan and Nick have more even more people to look out for, and the magician's circle are still relentlessly pursuing them. Can Alan and Nick continue to stay on step ahead of the magicians for the rest of their lives? Is there any way to end this eternal chase?

Nick hopes that Alan will be able to help them best the magicians as they have been doing for the past few years, but then the unthinkable happens--Alan sustains a first-tier mark during a magician and demon attack. Nick is desperate to get the mark of his brother, but Alan seems more concerned with helping Jamie and Mae. Why does his brother suddenly care so much for two strangers? Nick has always depended on Alan to guide him and help make decisions, but as his brother's behavior is getting more erratic, Nick is beginning to wonder if the one person he could always trust has been lying all along.

Will they ever be free of the attacks? Should Nick delve into the past and search for answers? Or should he just trust Alan as he has always done?

The Demon's Lexicon was amazing!! I loved the plot! It was quite well paced, well written, and captivating! I couldn't put it down--I had to know what would happen next! The story is well-spun and has great flow and detail. The twists and turns kept me turning the pages late into the night!

One thing that bothered me a bit was the fact that some of the characters seemed a bit flat. If Jamie and Mae got a little more of the lime-light and were better developed, I would enjoy the book even more. Quite a few of the characters, both protagonists and antagonists alike, weren't quite as developed as they could have been. There personalities seemed a bit shallow, and I would have really liked to learn more about them.
However, Nick's character was pretty strong, but his interaction with his brother was even better. It's realistic, even it's a bit cold sometimes. Alan's unceasing compassion and care for his brother tugs a few heart-strings and he is also a great character.

Although a few twists really surprised me and made me enjoy the book all the more, but it didn't quite work entirely for me. I don't want to spoil anything, but it was an interesting twist, but I find it hard to accept completely, since there was some parts in the book that made me believe otherwise. But other than that, I'd definitely recommend The Demon's Lexicon! I really enjoyed reading it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Simply Irresistible by Jennifer Banash

Simply Irresistible by Jennifer Banash

Release Date: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Pages: 336

Welcome back to the Upper East Side--and to the set of De-Luxe, the new reality TV show starring the Bram Clan! Now with their lives caught on tape, and soon to be broadcast on TV, Casey is feeling more self-conscious than ever! She may be dressed in designer clothes and sporting a newly straightened hair, but Casey still feels like the small-town girl from the midwest. And despite her new looks, her on/off boyfriend, Drew Van Allen, has been ignoring her lately.

Fashion queen Madison Macallister, on the other hand, has no qualms about being in the lime light! What better way for her to strut her stuff than on a reality TV show? There's no stopping Madison from becoming even more famous now! But fame has it's price, and will Madison become more infamous than famous? Her life is hardly a walk in the park--drama at home and issues with her ex, Drew Van Allen, has caused her to have more than one less-than-flattering outburst. But Mad hardly thinks she's to blame, after all, her hot, european, almost-boyfriend is now dating her mother, who is twice his age! And to top it all off, her frenemy, Casey, might just be stealing the spot light from her! As if stealing Mad's ex wasn't bad enough!

But the drama doesn't stop there--Sophie's sweet 16 did not go as she had hoped: her real mother, who turned out to be a movie star, all but crashed her party and used the event for publicity for herself! All Sophie's hopes for a perfect mother were dashed, but her mom still wants to get to know her--or at least that's what she claims. Could she just want Sophie for publicity?

Phoebe's best friend, Sophie, has turned her back on Phoebe ever since she discovered Phoebe and her brother, Jared, together. But how can Phoebe turn away from Jared when he's all she can think of? (not to mention their steamy make-out sessions!) But not giving him up might mean the end of her and Sophie's friendship!

While these leading ladies have their own issues to deal with, Drew Van Allen is hardly living the easy life right now. Recently, his own image of a perfect family was shattered when he found out his parents weren't faithful to each other. Drew's father has been having an affair with Phoebe's mom and he's expecting Drew to understand his 'open marriage.' In addition to his family woes, Drew's worried he may have ruined his chances with Casey forever, and he can't get past his own confusion over his relationship with Madison. Wishing to get away from it all, Drew invents a new life for himself when he meets Olivia, a college student, telling her he's a student from Princeton. But how long can Drew keep spinning these lies and running away from his problems? Sooner or later, it'll all catch up to him, and it could end badly...

The drama never stops in the third installment of Jennifer Banash's The Elite series! Fans of her first two books will enjoy Simply Irresitable. It was an entertaining read, though sometimes I thought Drew's tendancy to lust for every other girl he comes across, a little much. Still, the rest of the characters and their feelings were portrayed quite believably--and vividly! When Madison gets angry, you better get out of her way!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bookish Mentions (#7)

Bookish Mentions is my new weekly post where I'll be posting my thoughts on books I've read but not been able to review, upcoming books I'm looking forward to, general thoughts on genres or books I've encountered, thoughts on book-based movies, and the like. Enjoy!


The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Release date: April 6, 2010
Published by: Simon Pulse

New Elizabeth Scott book coming out in April! *squee!*

Who isn't looking forward to this book?! I'm so excited! :D
I don't think there's a blurb yet, but neat cover already and of course, it's by Elizabeth Scott...need I really say more? :)

If anyone doesn't know who Elizabeth Scott, she's the author of Perfect You, Stealing Heaven, Living Dead Girl, Bloom, and much, much more! Definitely check out her fantastic books!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Winners of Suite Scarlett

The winners of the Suite Scarlett giveaways are (chosen via random number generator):

- Eunbee
- Nadine
- etirv *

Please drop me a line at bookvault(at) with your mailing address so I can get your prize out to you! Please email me by 8/21 (midnight, EST) or I will have to give your prize to someone else.

Congrats! And thanks to everyone who entered! It was great hearing about all your favorite vacations--it's always nice to get some time to relax!!
If you didn't win, don't worry! I have another giveaway or two coming up soon, so keep your eyes open!

Thanks to Scholastic for generously donating the copies of Suite Scarlett for this giveaway!


*edit: I'm sorry, but a new winner was chosen in etirv's stead because she never emailed me back :(
At this point, all the winners have already been emailed. thank you for participating!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Release Date: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Pages: 336

Remember gladiators of the Roman times? Where gladiators fought each other, often to the death, as entertainment for others? Sometimes they fought each other, sometimes they fought wild animals and there were several different types of gladiators. The different types fought with different weapons (i.e. a trident and a net, or a shield and a short sword, etc) and different styles were often pitted against each other. But that brutal, bloody sport is a thing of the past--right?

Not for Lyn. In an alternate reality, this bloody and barbaric sport is not only accepted, but a popular hit with many people. There is a whole "Glad" culture with many young men signing contracts to be gladiators and young women training to be the perfect Glad wife. Lyn's mother, Allison, is a Glad wife. In fact, she's had 7 gladiator husbands, with Tommy being her current one. The previous 6 fathers Lyn has had have all died in the arena. Allison is on her last husband. If Tommy dies, she is forbidden by Glad law to marry again. But Allison is hoping to escape that fate, since Tommy only has a few more battles to complete before his contract runs out.

However, an optimistic outcome is not predicted by Thad, Lyn's brother. Excessive commotion and noise bother Thad, but he has an uncanny knack for predicting the future in his blunt, sometimes abrupt, statements. Thad prophecies Tommy's demise, which Allison desperately hopes will not come to fruition, since she will not be able to marry again, and Lyn will be fatherless.

But it all seemed fated to happen. Despite Tommy's skill, he is killed by a newer but promising fighter, Uber. Along with his victory, Uber takes Lyn's dowry bracelet from Tommy's body. Now according to Glad law, Lyn must marry Uber. Allison is sinking into depression with Tommy's death and Lyn's world has just exploded.

Those outside of the Glad world are outraged--since when did a girl have to marry her father's murderer? Unwilling to give up her life to the culture she had never fully accepted, Lyn is willing to fight for her freedom. But things start to get complicated when Lyn gets to know Uber better...

Girl in the Arena provides an interesting alternate reality where such a violent sport is a celebrated reality. I was rather disappointed with this book--some parts were hard to believe, and the story line was a bit slow. Sometimes things dragged and I lost sight of the plot. Pacing wasn't brilliant and I felt like the character introductions went on for too long. It was nice getting to know the charaters better, especially what was going on in their heads during their struggles, but after awhile, it seemed as if it was just dragging and it started sounding more like explanations rather than descriptions.

The explanation for why this alternate reality came true didn't really work for me. The reason for the rise of the gladiator sport was because it was a 'response to the violence in Vietnam.' I guess this part was just not explained well enough? It just didn't seem entirely believable for me. I dunno if I'd proclaim it 'far-fetched' but perhaps it just wasn't fleshed out properly, and if it was explained with a better description, perhaps it would have worked better. Sometimes it seemed like there were 'holes' in the story.

For those looking into this book for the fight scenes, gladiators, and violence, I will say that the fight scenes were shorter and fewer than I had anticipated. Since the title is "Girl in the Arena," I had expected more descriptive, extensive and frequent fight scenes. Gladiators and its culture play such a big role in this novel, but there are not that many actual gladiator fight scenes. Girl in the Arena concentrates more on Lyn's life and her struggles to live with the life her mother chose.

The blurb says it's for fans of The Hunger Games, but for me, this book didn't measure up to The Hunger Games. It didn't captivate me like The Hunger Games did, and it wasn't as well delivered and written as The Hunger Games.
I guess this writing style isn't really for me, but Girl in the Arena still provides some interesting alternate reality to consider in general. I would be pretty horrified if this alternate reality was actually our reality! I would hate seeing all that bloodshed so widely accepted!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Love, Lies and Texas Dips by Susan McBride

Love, Lies and Texas Dips by Susan McBride

Release Date: June 9, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304

The Debs are back--and so is all the drama! The Three Amigas, Laura, Ginger, and Mac are finally in and on their way to become debs, or rosebuds, in the Glass Slipper Club! Unfortunately, so is Jo Lynn and her cronies. But as they say, the hardest thing isn't getting in--it's staying in. And with Jo Lynn plotting to get ride of Laura (who she deems as too fat to be a deb) and her friends, retaining their statuses as upcoming debs will be no easy task!

Laura does not make things easier when she provokes Jo Lynn by begging Jo's hot, football player boyfriend, Dillon, to whip her into shape. Why? 3 words: "The Texas Dip"--a dreaded mandatory curtsy that's so low, debs all but sink into the ground! But is that really the only reason? Laura can't help but mess with Jo Lynn's head a bit...

But never underestimate Jo Lynn's maliciousness or ability to brew up a storm--especially when she's angry! Laura definitely went one step too far when she started messing around with Jo's boyfriend! Now with Jo Lynn working harder than ever to get Laura kicked out of the club, the Three Amigas must watch their backs since one misstep may take away their deb status!

Too bad Laura's woes don't stop there! Her on-and-off boyfriend Avery has been sending out mixed signals. While he seems to want to be close to Laura, he's still with Jo Lynn's evil friend, Cam. Why can't Avery just give her a strait answer?!

Laura isn't the only one with problems though; Mac is beginning to realize that she may just have stronger feelings for her best guy friend, Alex. But with Alex hanging out with new girl Cindy Chow more and more, is Mac too late? All the deb business isn't helping Mac's stress level either. She finds the whole ordeal rather shallow, but is trying to honor her late mother's memory, as her mother was a deb herself. Mac re-reads her mother's letters to her more than ever, hoping for some strength and guidance through her boy and rosebud struggles.

The third member of the Three Amigas, Ginger, just wants her friends to quit the drama and stop stirring up trouble (even if it's unintentional!). The last thing she wants to do is go through the deb process alone! But with an evil scheming rosebud like Jo Lynn, trouble will not be taking a break any time soon! Speaking of trouble, just when Ginger thought she got rid of her boy troubles, a new guy pops into her life. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem much better than Jared, who used her not too long ago, for his own cause. The whole event was hardly favorable in the eyes of the deb committee, yet Ginger can't help but feel attracted to this new bad boy! Can Ginger keep her friends together and make better choices when it comes to guys?

I definitely enjoyed Love, Lies and Texas Dips as much as I did The Debs! Susan McBride's series still has me hooked! With a lot of questions to be answered, I am definitely looking forward to finding out what happens next in the upcoming third installment of The Debs series! Although all the drama can be fascinating sometimes, I'm glad I'm not the one caught up in it! Laura definitely goes much farther than I would (as does Jo Lynn, of course) and I wish she wouldn't feed the fire so much...but then again, if she didn't, we wouldn't have a story, would we? That said, it's still not too far fetched, which helps in the believabilty department. I like the different charater's personas, and they're all strong, believable characters, which makes this novel very enjoyable! Fans of The Debs will not be disappointed with it's sequel!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thanks so much to Mari of MariReads for this new award!

I'm sooo sorry about the delay in getting this up. I'm also sorry that my updates have been a bit spotty. But lately, the library at which I work has been undergoing expansion, so I've been kept really really busy with all the reorganization, general running of the library, and the summer reading program for kids! The construction will probably go on for about another month or so, so my appologies in advance! I'm very excited about the expansion, though, since there'll be more room for new books, which is always good!!

But onto the award! I've been instructed to list 7 of my favorite things and 7 of my favorite blogs! So here it goes:

7 Favorite Things

1. family + friends
2. books
3. movies + music
4. my computer
5. sports
6. having a good time
7. reliability

7 of My Favorite Bloggers
(it's so hard to pick only 7! these are in no particular order)

Presenting Lenore
Reviewer X
Steph Su Reads
The Book Muncher
The Story Siren
Melissa Walker's Blog

Thanks to Mari again!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bookish Mentions (#6)

Bookish Mentions is my new weekly post where I'll be posting my thoughts on books I've read but not been able to review, upcoming books I'm looking forward to, general thoughts on genres or books I've encountered, thoughts on book-based movies, and the like. Enjoy!


This week, I'd like to welcome a new blog, The Three Musketeers Reviews! I'll be writing for The Three Musketeers Reviews now and then, but most of my reviews will remain here at The Book Vault.

The Three Musketeers Reviews is run by two other lovely bookworms, Bettina and Natalie. So please stop by their site and show some support!! :) They just opened their site today and will be posting reviews, interviews and hopefully hosting some contests soon!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Harry Potter Giveaway Annoucement

Just to clear things up for the Harry Potter giveaway:

the winners for this giveaway were:

Theodora (blog comment entry)
Eli (blog comment entry)
Lauren (blog comment entry)
Jennifer (blog comment entry)
Jessica (email entry)

One of the original winners had already won HP7 from another blog and another winner never emailed me nor did they answer the email I sent to them telling them they had won. That is why 2 new winners were chosen. All the current winners have already emailed me/emailed me back and your prizes should be shipped soon!

Sorry for any confusion that may have occured! Thanks to everyone who entered, and don't forget to enter my new contest if you're interested for a copy of Suite Scarlett!

Series I Like

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Divergent by Veronica Roth Firelight by Sophie Jordon Halo by Alexandra Adornetto Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Thanks to i'm loving books!


I receive review copies of books from publicists, authors and publishers for an honest review. I do not receive monetary or other compensations for posting reviews.