Saturday, June 27, 2009

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Title: Eyes Like Stars
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: July 7th, 2009
Number of Pages: 356

Amazon Page
Author Site

All her world’s a stage.

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.

She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents.

She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own.

That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right

NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Eyes Like Stars. The title alone holds so much promise, so much possibility. The beautiful cover painting of Bertie, our heroine, is absolutely breathtaking. You open the book to the first page, and the fancy font brings a smile to your face. The only question that remains is, "What about the actual content of the book? Was it as enchanting as you thought it would be?" Well . . . yes. No. Yes and no.

Let me start with the best part of this book first: the writing. Lisa Mantchev's writing is just astonishing. It's one of those things that you simply can not describe because it's so amazing and wow-ifying. It was an elegant butterfly fluttering in the breeze. It was a heart shattering in an infinite number of pieces. Mantchev's writing is so wonderful that I think you should read this book just to witness it's beauty.

However, even though I loved the writing, Eyes Like Stars also has it's weak points.

For example, the beginning is quite confusing at first so you have to re-read a few parts to understand what is happening. This novel is also a little slow and takes time reading (at least for me). It's one of those books that you just can't read in one sitting. I also feel that even though the twists in this story were clever, I'm sure they could have been delivered a little better.

Even then, the ending of this book left me feeling very satisfied and paved out a very promising Book Two in this series. Lisa Mantchev is a flower that will soon flourish - I'm sure of it. :) B+

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian

Title: Same Difference
Author: Siobhan Vivian

Publisher: Push

Publication Date: March 1st, 2009

Number of Pages: 287

Amazon Page
Author Site

Emily needs a change of scenery. She’s been pegged as the “arty girl” by the kids in her school —even her own friends. There’s some truth to that…but there’s also more to the way she sees the world than drawing or painting. Nobody seems to understand, and that’s not going to change any time soon. So when Emily gets the chance to go to an art program in Philadelphia for the summer, she jumps at it. A new cast of characters enters her life…and suddenly she has to figure out who she wants to be. She’s gone from the suburbs where everyone’s trying to be the same to a school where everyone is trying to be unique. The rules may have changed, but a lot of the pressures remain the same. With wit and empathy, Siobhan Vivian goes straight to the heart of a teen girl’s search for identity including the pain and heartache we have to go through to figure out who we are.

This book should be on the New York Times bestsellers list.

This book should be the next Twilight.

But it's not. This witty, wonderful and truly remarkable book isn't making more money then the Harry Potter series. *sigh* What is this world coming too?

Same Difference starts off with Emily spending the day with her best friend Meg, and Meg's boyfriend the day before Emily starts her summer art program. The first chapter is a tad uneventful which may make some people put this book down but I still think that Siobhan Vivian was smart to start off where she did. Even though the beginning was slightly boring, it speeds up and it's important that we get a glimpse of Emily's life before art becomes a large part of her life.

The characters in this book are wonderfully realistic and I loved them all. Even the people that you're kind of meant to dislike. They were all just so interesting to read about that I fell in love with them - especially the artists. Reading about the summer art program that Emily went to was also quite fascinating and it was refreshing to look at things from an artist's perspective. I even looked up "Art Classes" in the phone book after reading this book!

When a storm cloud passed over Emily's life, I still couldn't stop reading this novel. It wasn't necessarily because Same Difference is a real page turner, it was more to do with the fact that the writing really drew you in to the story. It was fun, humorous, dark and casual. It was . . . everything. I absolutely loved it.

Overall, this is a great, wonderful story that I can't imagine you not loving! Warning: will inspire you to pick up a pen or paintbrush. A+.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guess Who? Answer #14

A big applause to everyone who guessed last week's featured author! She was . . .

. . . Stephanie Meyer!

P.S. Sorry for not posting any posts other then my weekly memes lately - I've been super busy. However, expect a review of Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian tomorrow morning!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Guess Who? #14

As usual, here are the rules: this is an (educated) guessing game where every Friday I post five facts about an author, each one a little more revealing then the previous one. I'll give you the weekend to try and figure out who I'm talking about, and the Monday following, I post the answer:This author is female.
  1. This author is female
  2. She wrote a very popular series for teens.
  3. Author X also wrote a novel for adults.
  4. If you simply guess now, the first author that pops into your head is probably correct.
  5. Her whole best-selling series is being turned into a collection of movies.

This post maybe a little vague at first glance, but trust me when I say the author is quite obvious!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Between These Pages #13

Has a quote ever painted a smile onto your face? Or made you seriously think? Or even have made you see things in a different perspective? Well, that's what "In Between These Pages" is all about: Great, wonderful quotes from books. This meme was invented by Christina at "Insert Book Title Here" and a similar one by Karin at "Karin's Book Nook" but I have decided to rename it "In Between These Pages".

"Things change. Stuff happens. Life goes on."

" . . . once you figure something out, it's impossible to go backwards."

"You have to have courage. Real courage to explore, to fail and to pick yourself back up again."

"And partly . . . well, life wins. In the end, life always wins."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Guess Who? Answer #13 + Explanation(s)

The answer was . . .

. . . Elizabeth Scott! (Isn't the dog in the photo adorable?!)

P.S. I know I've been terrible at posting lately and I am really, really sorry! I still have school and my teachers have decided to do all of the tests last minute so I have quite some studying to do! It's also my birthday next week (yay!) so I'm busy this weekend as well since a bunch of my friends are coming over. I'll try my best to squeeze in a review, though!

P.P.S. Sorry about the background!! The wonderful Lena who created this template had some troubles with PayPal or something like that, but she's got it sorted out and things should return to normal.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Guess Who? #13

It's no big surprise that I'm late again with this post, but this time I have a good excuse: Yesterday at around 7 p.m. I was reading some of the blogs I follow and leaving comments, with the FULL intention of publishing this post. However, while I was reading Deltay's blog, I tried to leave a comment but my "Enter" key wasn't working. I tried pressing the "Publish Comment" button but that button didn't want to cooperate either. Finally, I decided to just re-do my comment all over again but once again, the comment didn't want to publish.

At this point I was panicking about posting my "Guess Who?" post on time, so I went to my dashboard only to find out I was somehow signed out. I tried logging back in but, like when I was trying to post a comment on Deltay's blog, it wasn't working. After a while I gave up and just decided to post this today. I asked my dad why the computer was acting funny, but he doesn't know for sure either. Anyways . . .

As usual, here are the rules: this is an (educated) guessing game where every Friday I post five facts about an author, each one a little more revealing then the previous one. I'll give you the weekend to try and figure out who I'm talking about, and the Monday following, I post the answer:

  1. This author is female.
  2. She has a dog (and a husband!).
  3. On her website, she writes.
  4. We definitely love her and we'd never hate her. ;)
  5. Author X's last name is also a common first name . . .
Who do YOU think it is?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Title: The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Author: Michael Scott
Publisher: Delacorte

Publication Date: May 22, 2007

Number of Pages: 400

Amazon Page
Author Site

He holds the secret that can end the world. The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty. The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I have seen quite a few bloggers get the third book in this series, The Sorceress, but I have not yet seen anyone review it. And let me tell you right now - you guys are missing out on something BIG. This might possibly be my favourite fantasy book ever, and I don't use the term "favourite" when it comes to books lightly.

Michael Scott starts off this book with a prologue that tells us just enough about the book without giving anything away and while at the same time leaving us eager to turn the page. Scott uses writing techniques like foreshadowing at exactly the right time and describes things in great detail without making us yawn and wonder when we'll finally be able to see some dialogue. In other words, this guy had some awesome writing skills!!

One of the things I especially liked about The Alchemyst was how it takes your perspective of legends, myths and historical events, then twists and molds them until they turn into something completely different . . . and even more exciting and enchanting than they were before. By the time you finish this book, you'll put vampires next to grass on your list of related things.

Another wow-ifying thing was that the author managed to pull off writing a book that occurred over a time span of - wait for it - only two (2!!) days. I have never seen this accomplished before so I think Michael Scoot definitely deserves some kind of award for this. I mean, come on! Have you ever read a book whose time span was less then a week?? If you have, please tell me! I'd bet you that it's nothing along the great lines of Michael Scott's writing.

I think that the only bad thing I have to say about this novel is that in the end, Josh has a very difficult time deciding whether to trust Dr. Dee (otherwise known as the bad guy) or Nicholas Flame (he screams good guy to me). I don't understand how Josh doesn't see that Dee is a vile person and that even though Flamel doesn't always give you a straight up answer, he means (and is!) well.

The Bottom Line: A very enjoyable read that leaves you begging for more. Even if you're not fond of fantasy, I'm sure you'd like this book! A+.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In A Month . . .

. . . I'm going to drive to Toronto with my family.

We will arrive at a very large and busy building.

My family and I will have our passports with us, and our suitcases.

If you haven't guessed it yet, I'm going on vacation!!! I am so excited!! My whole extended family lives in Ukraine (which is Poland's neighbour), and I'll finally be able to see them after three years! In case you're wondering, I don't usually do anything during Summer Vacation, so I feel like I'm going to burst with excitement! After watching my friends go to Chicago and Rome and Italy, it feels so cool knowing that it's my turn to do something exciting and new (sorry for all of the exclamation points here - I'm just super happy)!

The only thing is that my family and I will be going from July 11th, to August 25th so I don't know how many posts I'll be able to schedule ahead of time. However, I think I might be able to work something out.

You see, I'll be in Ukraine for approximately five weeks so my parents have agreed to set up an arrangement where they both get to spend an equal amount of time with their sides of the family. First, my brother and I will visit my moms side for 2.5 weeks, then we switch and visit my dads side for the remainder of the time. I remember from the last time I visited my mom's uncle that he does have (English) internet, but it is very, very slow so I don't know if I'll be able to use it. My dad's cousin also has internet but I don't know whether or not it's in the English language. I have a strong feeling it is though since he works with computers for a living. Anyways, if my relatives let me use their computers, I promise to post as often as I can!!

I'm already planning on what to bring and what places to visit. There are a lot of castles in the area where I'm going (from what I remember) so I plan on visiting many of those. My parents were born and raised in the city of Lviv, so that's obviously where I going. If you look on the map on the left, Lviv is way on the left somewhat near the border.

My mom and dad have already made it crystal clear to me that they don't want me bringing any more then two books (they claim that I should "give my eyes a break" from all of that reading and "enjoy the scenery" - sure thing), but I think they already know that that's not going to happen. I planning on hiding some of my paperbacks in between my clothes and bribing my younger brother into letting me stash some of my books in his suitcase.

Anyways, one of my main reason for this post is because I want to know what greatly fantastical books I should bring with me! If you have any suggestions, whether or not you read the book, all would be greatly appreciated.

A Note From Iryna

A just wanted to apologize for being MIA these past few days. Unlike some of you luckier people, I'm still in school and we are currently in the middle of huge test season. There should be a review of The Alchemyst by Michael Scott up soon, however!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Guess Who? Answer #12

Once again, a big thank-you to everyone who participated in last week's "Guess Who?"!! The mystery novelist is . . .

. . . John Green!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Guess Who? #12

As usual, here are the rules: this is an (educated) guessing game where every Friday I post five facts about an author, each one a little more revealing then the previous one. I'll give you the weekend to try and figure out who I'm talking about, and the Monday following, I post the answer:
  1. Author X writes contemporary fiction.
  2. For once, he is a male.
  3. This author has three published award-winning novels.
  4. He likes You Tube (and so does his brother).
  5. French: vert.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sisters In Sanity by Gayle Forman - EDITED

Title: Sisters In Sanity
Author: Gayle Forman

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: August 28th, 2007 (Reprint: April 21st, 2009)

Number of Pages: 290

Amazon Page
Author Site

Have you ever had the out-of-control dream? The one where you know you're not crazy, but no one around you—not your parents, not your teachers, not even the authorities—will listen to you?

For sixteen-year-old Brit Hemphill, the out-of-control dream comes true when her dad enrolls her at Red Rock, a bogus treatment center that claims to cure rebellious teen girls. At Red Rock, Brit is forced into therapy, and her only hope of getting her life back is in the hands of an underqualified staff of counselors. Brit's dad thinks Red Rock can save her, but the truth is it's doing more harm than good.

No girl could survive Red Rock alone—but at a treatment center where you earn privileges for ratting out your peers, it's hard to know who you can trust. For Brit, everything changes when she meets V, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie, four girls who keep her from going over the edge. Together they'll hold on to their sanity and their sisterhood while trying to keep their Red Rock reality from becoming a full-on nightmare.

Ever since the buzz of Gayle Forman's novel If I Stay started, I've been wanting to read it. Unfortunately when I asked for it at my library, a bunch of other people were on the waiting list to read it so I had to settle with Sisters in Sanity. I thought it would be a phenomenal novel . . . and it was, mostly, just not in the ways I expected.

First of all, I guess you could say I thought this novel would have a nice, easy beginning - yeah, right. This book starts off with Brit's dad "taking" Brit to the Grand Canyon - the trip that never happens. Instead, Brit is tricked and thrown into Red Rock. All in one short chapter.

Okay! Hold up and slow down. I had to re-read that part because I wasn't sure what was going on. It was a real blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment which I also noticed occurred when the sisters friendship was forming. This was the first difference that kind of made me lose some of my interest in Sisters In Sanity.

Another cupful was thrown out the window when I came across this sentence on page 113:

"This girl needs some cheering," said V , who, along with Cassie, Bebe and Martha was standing over me at lunch.

Um, did anyone notice the grammatical error? I expect, out of habit, that each and every novel I read will not have a single mistake. Silly, I know. *sigh* I should know that no one's perfect especially considering how true that rings for me. *

Even so, I think that was when I really didn't want to finish this book. The real climax hadn't made it's appearance yet so I was quite bored. I wanted to quickly read this book, review it on my blog and be done with it - once and for good. This might be the only reason I persisted on reading Sisters In Sanity - which I am ashamed of - but I am really glad I did continue to read. Why?

Gayle Forman's debut novel made me cry unlike any novel has done before (in a good way). There were times where I would read a page but then have to put it down again because I was crying so hard. I would pick the book up again after I had calmed down, but I'd simply have to put it down again because the water works were going faster then ever. This book is truly touching and deals with matters I don't think I've ever read about before.

Even though this novel's writing was a little bumpy, it speaks the truth which I think is the greatest gift you can ever have. We all think we know "the truth", but reality is that each and every one of us has a different, edited version. It takes a remarkable person to know it and then put it into words. It takes someone special to write a whole novel about the truth. One of these people is Gayle Forman.

And did you see who this novel is dedicated to?

To misunderstood girls everywhere.

I liked her from the start. :) B+.

* How ironic it is that I said "no one's perfect" right after I made a mistake myself! Laina has kindly pointed out to me that it is in fact supposed to be "was" - not "were". Thank-you very much Laina!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In Between These Pages #12

Has a quote ever painted a smile onto your face? Or made you seriously think? Or even have made you see things in a different perspective? Well, that's what "In Between These Pages" is all about! Great, wonderful quotes from books. This meme was invented by Christina at "Insert Book Title Here" and a similar one by Karin at "Karin's Book Nook" but I have decided to rename it "In Between These Pages".

"But that's a girl's right - isn't it? To cry sometimes for no reason? Really, when you think about it, that ought to be in the Constitution."

"Mr. Solomon was right - the worst kind of torture is watching someone you love get hurt."

"That's all we can do, Brit. Take steps. Take enough of them and suddenly, you're somewhere."

"'But what if I have it? Like a sickness. Inside of me.'

'Then you have it, and maybe one day it gets you. But you decide how you live life in the meantime. You can hide in fear. Or you can live life.'"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Guess Who? Answer #11

Last week's "Guess Who?" author was . . .

. . . Ally Carter!