Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Author(s): Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Author(s): Online: Rachel Twitter David Website Rachel Website
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Format: Hardback, 260 pages
My Rating: 5/5
Buy It:
Amazon Barns & Noble Book Depository
Summary:So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
My Review:
First Lines:
“Imagine this:
You're in your favorite bookstore, scanning the shelves. You get to the section where your favorite author's books reside, and there, nestled in comfortably between the incredibly familiar spines, sits a red notebook.”

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares has to be one of the best YA books I’ve read in a very long time, and that’s saying something!
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan are brilliant. There. I said it. I mean, they have to be to have come up with something this great, witty, funny, sweet, and very crazy, story.

It all started when Lily’s parents leave her and her older brother, Lanston, alone in Manhattan just a few days before Christmas, finally going on the honeymoon they never had when they first married. Lily plays it off as fine, but inside, she’s hurting. Christmas is her favorite time of the year, but what’s so great about it when your own family is so caught up in their own life that they completely forget about you? All Lily wants is to have a happy Christmas with her brother, walk some of the neighborhood dogs, and go Christmas caroling, but that’s easier said than done.
Her brother is completely ignoring her—too caught up in his new relationship with his new boyfriend to have time for Lily, so he comes to a simple conclusion: Lily needs a boyfriend. What sixteen year old girl doesn’t have a boyfriend? Lanston wonders. So, setting up the perfect way to find his little sister someone to call her own, he and his boyfriend put together a red notebook consisting of dares and instructions to the lucky finder of the book. He then leaves the notebook on a shelf in Lily’s favorite bookstore, the Strand, right in between her favorite author, J.D Salinger’s, famous novels.
Who else to find that very notebook but Dash?
Dash is a sly sixteen year old boy, and wanting to be alone this year for Christmas, he tells his mother that he will be staying at his father’s place, and tells his father he would like to stay at his mother’s this year. They’re divorced, they’ve both remarried, both out of town for the holiday and they refuse to speak to each other. Who would ever know?
Dash, feeling he has nothing to lose, takes Lily’s book up on it’s offer, and so begins the story of Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares.
I love this book! Simply just loved it! The characters were all so real and relatable, even though most of the time they were crazy out of their mind.
But that’s what makes characters in a book feel real, right? Because you know that in real life, people are just as crazy.
Lily, the female lead, was a great character to read about. She was funny, smart, quiet but loud, and very opinionated. She was a very strong character, granted that nothing too terrible ever happened, but you could still hear her fun-loving voice even in those few slightly darker times.
Dash was a great character. He was witty, a little bit of a loner (not to say he didn’t have any friends, because he did), a bit of a dreamer, and quite weird. Dash was a strange boy. But I liked him.

All of the characters in this book were so well written, and I loved when we got to see a little bit of each characters background. I truly loved every single character in this book, all but Dash’s father, but he wasn’t meant to be liked, was he?
I loved reading from both Dash and Lily’s perspective view, and I felt I could relate to the both of them in a way that really surprised me, since I haven’t connected to characters in a novel so well since Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Usually, authors either put in way too much detail in their story, or not enough, but I found with this one that both of the authors put in just enough. I felt like I was running around New York City with them! They let you see in your mind what Dash and Lily were seeing through their eyes, but in a way that only took a few words to explain, and not page upon page of meaningless detail that I’ve come across lately in the books I’ve been reading.

This book is laugh out loud worthy, and some of the situations Dash and Lily got themselves into had me laughing out loud. If you don't laugh while reading this book, all I've got to say is, there is something seriously wrong with you.
This book was such a fun read, and I’m so glad I ordered it online shortly after it came out. This was my first Rachel Cohn and David Levithan book, and it will not be my last! These two authors truly shine when they write together, and I cannot wait to see what they will come up with in the future!

Just to be clear, there is a bit of swearing in this book, and a few suggestive situations, but overall, this is very sweet book, and I highly recommend this book for anyone 13 and older.

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” -Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review: I Am Number Four by Pittaus Lore

Author: Pittaus Lore
Author Online: Website
Series: Lorien Legacies, #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: August 1st, 2010
Format: Hardback, 440 Pages
My Rating: 3.5/5

Buy It: Amazon Barns & Noble Book Depository
Summary: In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.

My Review:
I Am Number Four by Pittaus Lore was an interesting read.
And I say that in the most flattering way possible.
From the very first page, we meet the Mogadarian. Evil, bloodthirsty, alien creatures that are out to destroy the nine children who escaped their beautiful home planet of Lorien just before the Mogadarian destroyed all traces of life.
One boy, John Smith, as he is known as of late, was one of them.
He is more commonly known as Number Four.
This is where the story begins.

John Smith isn’t his real name. He isn’t really from Santa Fe, New Mexico, like he would have you believe. His father isn’t a writer, and that’s not why they’re moving to Paradise, Ohio, population 5,243. His father isn’t even his father. To put it simply: John Smith isn’t human.
John, (as he is known for the time being, having change his name every time he is forced to move to a new town,) isn’t a normal fifteen-year old boy. He’s an alien from the planet Lorien, brought to Earth ten years ago when the Mogadarian invaded the planet of Lorien and saw to it that everyone was destroyed. Too bad for them that nine children and their guardians (known as Keepers) narrowly escaped with their lives, and fled to Earth.
Each child was hidden with a charm, each given their own amulet that only their kind can wear. With this charm, they cannot be killed out of order of the numbers they have been given—one through nine—so long as they stay apart. It was supposed to keep them safe until they were old enough to develop their Legacies fully, powers that will let them rejoin the Grade, the guardians of Lorien—pretty much superheroes.
But every time one of them is found and killed, the few reminding are burned, their skin imbedded with Lorien symbols as warnings, to let them know that their time is almost up, and their chances of winning this battle are looking darker by the day.
It is up to the remaining six Lorien children to develop their powers, find each other, and defeat the Mogadarian’s once and for all.

I liked this novel. It was a fun, fast-pace book with many ups and downs, and the characters (most of them) were very likeable. But while they were likeable, they just didn’t seem real to me. They didn’t jump off the page and make me just have to turn to the next page to see what would happen, they didn’t force me to keep telling myself, “Just one more chapter, then I’ll go to sleep!” I didn’t feel for any of them. There were moments when I would laugh, smile, frown and even glare at some of the acts that took place in this novel, but overall, I didn’t care for any of the characters apart from Sam, John’s only other friend besides Sarah Hart, the love interest, and Henri, John’s Cépan (guardian, as us humans would call them).
Sam was a very likeable character, even though he was the biggest cliché of all: The nerd who’s very smart and loves anything and everything to do with space, NASA, and aliens.
He’s also the second person to befriend John, the first being Sarah Hart.
Sarah is a photographer and from the very first moment John lays eyes on her at school, she’s taking his picture.
Sarah wasn’t a very strong character in my opinion. She never really did anything too exciting, and I felt like the author almost just threw her in there because he felt that the story needed some romance. Which, I’m not at all against—I just wasn’t feeling it.
They get too close too fast, and never really learn anything at all about each other, except for the whole, “I’m an alien from another planet, but don’t worry, because I’m a good guy” speech.
I mean, they were saying their ‘I love you’s’ soon after just one date. Really, I was hoping that since John is an alien, it would at least took until the end of the book for them to get together.
But I should have known better since the promise of the book is of a fifth-teen year old alien boy who is on the run, and let still has to go to public school.

But I like these aliens of Lorien. They weren’t over done. They looked like humans, with the same needs as us, but they were faster, stronger, and some have powers. I really liked the background information that the author gives us, even though it is brief.

Number Six, who we get to meet at the end of the book seemed like she could very well be the best character in the series so far, but we didn’t get to see or learn much about her. I’m hoping that in the next book, we get to learn more about her and the other children.
Overall, the plot wasn’t very strong, but the writing was very easy and simple to keep up with, without the added feeling that the author was dumbing it down some for his younger audience. While it did get slow in some parts, there were many page-turning scenes, and the ending overall was bittersweet.

I will more than likely read the next instrument of this series, The Power of Six, which will be coming out very soon—August 23rd, to be exact, from Harper Collins.
I would recommend this book if you are a fan of some not so over the top science fiction fantasy.

So if you do read this book or you’ve already read it and didn’t like it—there’s always the movie version, staring Alex Pettyfer. Oh, Alex Rider... that alone should be reason to go see the movie.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.
I am Number Four.
I am next.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Being Frank With Anne by Phyllis Johnson

Author: Phyllis Johnson
Publisher: Community Press
Release Date: August 1, 2007
Format: Paperback, 181 Pages
Buy It: Amazon
My Rating: 5/5
My Review:
For her thirteenth birthday on 12 June 1942, Anne Frank received a book she had shown her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-green plaid cloth and with a small lock on the front, Anne decided she would use it as a diary.

In Being Frank with Anne Phyllis Johnson brings us new insight on Anne Frank and her short-lived life. Taking an entry from Anne Frank's personal diary "Kitty" Johnson gives us the poetic take on what happened on that day, in Anne Frank's life. Being a fifteen year old girl, myself, I can relate to Anne, and her feelings of being misunderstood and wanting to achieve the greater things that life has to offer.
In this beautifully written collection of poems, you will feel pain when Anne feels pain. You will feel longing when Anne is yearning for something that is not in her reach. And you will feel happiness in the moments that Anne felt any happiness at all. Phyllis Johnson gives us this book with over one hundred heartfelt poems that will touch you deep inside, and leave you with a new understanding and perspective on what emotion was behind that diary entry so many years ago. This book is a must have for any fan of Anne Frank, Phyllis Johnson, poetry, or just the love of an all-around great book. You will not be sorry you read this book. You will be grateful to have read about something as important and touching as Anne Frank's story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Anne Frank, Phyllis Johnson, or just poetry. I loved the way Phyllis was able to actually take something so horrible and turn each diary entry into such beautiful poetic words.
Phyllis Johnson is diffidently an author to watch. I cannot wait for her next book!

"I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that's what I want! I know I can write ..., but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent...
And if I don't have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can't imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! ... I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?"

Anne Frank wrote on Wednesday, 5 April 1944.

Yes, Anne. You did write something great. And Phyllis Johnson keeps your voice going for many years to come.
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