Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Slimed by Mathew Klickstein

SLIMED! An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age tells the surprisingly complex, wonderfully nostalgic, and impressively compelling story of how Nickelodeon -- the First Kids' Network -- began as a DIY startup in the late 70s, and forged ahead through the early eighties with a tiny band of young artists and filmmakers who would go on to change everything about cable television, television in general, animation, and children's entertainment, proving just what can be done if the indie spirit is kept alive in the corporate world of contemporary media... All from those who made it happen!

Best Bits: I'm a 90's kid, and I've got the nostalgia to prove it. When I saw that Slimed! was available on Netgalley I just about cried with joy. The book is compiled of interviews with stars, writers, creators, and producers of the shows that created Nickelodeon, and how they shaped the tone of the channel (a tone which, in my opinion, has since been lost). Each chapter focuses on a different topic and each person adds their input. I particularly liked reading about how thing weren't always perfect behind-the-scenes. For example, Michael Bower from Salute Your Shorts talks about what it was like to be known as 'Donkeylips', and to have that stick as a nickname for him. It made me identify with him a bit more. Amazingly, it didn't break any illusions for me, it just made me appreciate what some of these kids had to go through to create TV shows that made me feel ok about being weird. Even reading about the turmoil behind Rugrats, and how many people in the show had to fight to make Angelica mean (hello, she was the first character that I loved to hate!) was fascinating.

Nit Picks: I think that the setup was a bit difficult to deal with on my Kindle. At times I had to look up who people were if their stories didn't give it away. Sure, I know who Melissa Joan Hart is, but some of the other actors have only been in small roles, or quit completely after their time at Nick, and I needed to Google some of them (the Kindle doesn't have the most convenient system for accessing appendices). I do wish that I had learned a bit more about Hey Arnold!, but I think that's based on personal bias. Technically it's one of the last shows during Nick's animation golden era...but every time I saw Craig Bartlett's name (since he also worked on Rugrats) I hoped there would be some new tidbit of information.

Overall, it made me go back and watch the entirety of Pete & Pete, and appreciate every weird, amazing moment. I'm now re-watching Doug and just enjoyed the Hey Arnold! Halloween episode. Best thing ever.

By Mathew Klickstein
Published by Plume
320 Pages
Received via Netgalley

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (October 30)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Published by February 4, 2014
Release Date: Feiwel & Friends 

I literally cannot wait...I'm so impatient and I love the cover. Why is February so far away :(

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (October 29)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

"I can't REVERSE! I'll fall off, I think, as I start running backward, my calves sending out messages to the brain to cease and desist with this nonsense right now." 
-The Cinderella Pact, Page 56, by Sarah Strohmeyer

Her books are always feel good, and since I totally messed up my back this weekend I'm looking forward to spending my rest time reading this.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: Dead Girls Don't Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Rachel died at two a.m . . . Three hours after Skyler kissed me for the first time. Forty-five minutes after she sent me her last text.
Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. But that was before. . .before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. Then Rachel is found dead. The police blame a growing gang problem in their small town, but Jaycee is sure it has to do with that night at the old house. Rachel’s text is the first clue—starting Jaycee on a search that leads to a shocking secret. Rachel’s death was no random crime, and Jaycee must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth.
In the follow-up to her powerful debut, Jennifer Shaw Wolf keeps readers on their toes in another dark, romantic story of murder and secrets.

Best Bits: Jennifer Shaw Wolf is the master of misdirection. I suspected who the killer was more than once, but I kept second-guessing myself because all of the potential killers are so interesting. No one is grinning menacingly or anything, and each time a character shows a dark side, they soon display kindness. Characters who have moments of goodness can't be murderers...right? So, when the killer was finally revealed I had an "OMG WHAAAAT" moment, and then went back and connected the dots. Jaycee weren't speaking when Rachel died, but little things trigger memories and guilt. I appreciated that it was a complicated situation, and that despite what had happened to their friendship, Jaycee was still determined to get some closure for someone who had a big impact on what kind of person she was.

Nit Picks: Much like my experience with another Netgalley read, this one had random letters throughout the book. It meant that I had to guess at what characters were saying, and occasionally what was happening. I can't fault the author's writing for this, but it's really hard to be engaged in a mystery and know exactly what's going on when you can't read all portions of the book. So, it gets calculated into the overall experience. I also would have liked some of the background characters to share a bit more of their histories in the story (assuming that wasn't in some of those sentences that I missed).

Dead Girls Don't Lie
By Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Published by Walker Childrens
352 Pages
Received via Netgalley

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (October 23)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

 Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Published by HarperCollins
Release Date: March 4, 2014

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mini-Review: Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Thoughts: Cinder totally captivated me. If I were to look back, I would say that it, in combination with Scarlet, are my top two books of the year. I know I'm really behind on this one, since it was released in January of 2012. Oops. I was so involved in this book that it was pretty much all I talked about during the few breaks that I took (I'm sure that I annoyed a couple people). The story is great because, while it's a re-telling, the world-building is awesome. The characters are fresh, and surprisingly aren't frustrating. I never wanted to bonk anyone over the head for making idiotic choices. Yes, one of the major plot points is predictable, but it's a that's kind of how it works! 

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner

My Thoughts: Regular reads here will know how I usually see the second book in a series. I won't get into my cranky rant on that, but I will say that Scarlet really surprised me. We are introduced to new characters, the romance is reasonable (no eye-rolling over insta-love), and the plot becomes even more explosive. There were a lot of moments where I would read a paragraph, say "no" aloud, and I'm sure to the outside observer I looked like I had lost touch with reality. 

What I really appreciate about both of these books is the way that Meyer crafts strong female characters. Yes, they experience romance in the books, yet they aren't reliant upon their male leads to protect and save them. Does that mean that they don't occasionally step in and help? No, what it means is that Meyer has crafted a series where it's really equal. The characters help each other, betray each other, and learn about who they are. 

Seriously, so good! I can't even handle waiting for the third book. I'm going to go cry in a corner now.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Review: The Art of Disappearing by Elena Perez

Delia can see the future . . . but can she change it?

All Delia wants is to be popular. She has the perfect plan: join the cheerleading squad with her best friend, Ava, and rule the school from the coolest table in the cafeteria. But everything changes the day she watches a boy die—before it actually happens.

After dreaming about a classmate’s demise, she’s shocked when she witnesses his last breath—just like she dreamt it. Ava insists Delia stop acting so strange, but Delia worries her abilities are beyond her control.

Torn between who she is and who she wants to be, Delia wishes she could simply disappear. She doesn’t get her wish, but when someone close to her vanishes, Delia must use her gift to solve the mystery, before it’s too late.

Best Bits: I really liked how this one ended. It was a very understated, non-cliffhanger ending (so refreshing!). Even if this is the start to a series, I'm just so grateful that it didn't feel like 'Book 1 in the ______ series.' How often does that happen these day? It says quite a bit about Perez's style that after everything had basically wrapped itself up I was still interested how Delia is dealing with her abilities. I also liked that the mystery in the book was creepy without being too dramatic. I will say that the book focused more on friendships than it did on supernatural powers, but I didn't mind. It showed how hard it was for Delia when there was an adjustment to the hierarchy of the popular girls in school. Plus, it also has a great depiction about how jealousy and feelings of worthlessness can lead to bad friendships. It just takes Delia some time to figure out who her friends are, and what she really wants from them. 

Nit Picks: The reader doesn't get a lot of background on Delia's powers. I suppose that's realistic, but there were a couple of things that weren't explained enough for me to be fully satisfied. The book also uses the word "retarded." It's only used once, but it's a word that I really detest. So, that pulled me directly out of the story.

The Art of Disappearing
By Elena Perez
Published by Alloy Entertainment
391 Pages
Received for Review

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (October 9)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

Published by Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: March 21, 2014

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (October 8)

What is teaser tuesday?
It's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules: Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

"On Doug's wall, we had a poster that said i "heart" tofu because of the song "Killer Tofu." And we got a letter from a mom asking us why Doug had a poster on his wall that said i "heart" f-u." 
-Slimed, 27% on Kindle, by Mathew Klickstein

I finished this book tonight and really enjoyed learning about the history of the network. Nick shaped my childhood and validated the fact that I was a weird kid, and it was okay to be weird. All their character's were weird kids back then.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: Hover by Melissa West

On Earth, seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander was taught to never peek, but if she hopes to survive life on her new planet, Loge, her eyes must never shut. Because Zeus will do anything to save the Ancients from their dying planet, and he has a plan.

Thousands of humans crossed over to Loge after a poisonous neurotoxin released into Earth's atmosphere, nearly killing them. They sought refuge in hopes of finding a new life, but what they became were slaves, built to wage war against their home planet. That is, unless Ari and Jackson can stop them. But on Loge, nothing is as it seems...and no one can be trusted.

Best Bits: I liked the forward movement of the plot for Ari. She's now on Loge, and there is a lot that comes with that. She has to adjust to a new place, and come to terms with the choices that her family and friends are making on Earth. She's now accepting why people see her as a leader. She's basically been trained for it by her father. She also doesn't shy away from her responsibilities. That doesn't mean she has no "OMG why me?!" moments, but she handles them well. Plus, she also has to deal with the constant physical and emotional threat of Zeus. I appreciated getting to see more of how Zeus became a ruthless leader. Perhaps that's George R.R. Martin's influence on me, or my age, but lately I've really enjoyed feeling some empathy for the baddies.

Nit Picks: Okay, I can't fault the actual book for this, but my review copy had places where almost entire paragraphs were glitched and I couldn't read them. It was particularly frustrating because it felt like I was missing extremely crucial information. I'm not sure if this was a wide-spread problem, but I had to make guesses about the content of sentences that looked like this "XSOSIGH OSIRH SOSI." It made the reading process kind of a bummer. I do think that Hover was a bit of a victim to the middle book phenomenon. Yes, the characters were expanded upon, but I felt like I was waiting for more to happen.

By Melisa West
Published by Entangled Teen
352 pages
Received for Review

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (October 2)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

 Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

Published by Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: April 8, 2014

Copyright ©2009-2013 Cornucopia of Reviews. All Rights Reserved.