Saturday, July 31, 2010

Candy by Kevin Brooks : A

Title: Candy
Author: Kevin Brooks
Genre: Realistic Fiction (YA)
Publication: 2005 by The Chicken House
Pages: 384
Ages: 14+
Grade: A

When Joe Beck, a fifteen-year-old suburban kid, gets lost in a disreputable neighborhood on his way to an appointment in London, he is struck dumb by his first sight of beautiful and seemingly innocent Candy. She talks with him, teases him, but reveals nothing about herself except her phone number. Later they have a perfect day at the London Zoo, and soon Joe is as addicted to Candy as she is to heroin, in spite of the threats of her menacing pimp Iggy. Almost nothing matters except his desire to free her from her terrible life-- not his band's chance for a recording contract, not the song he has written for her that has become a hit without him.

But there is something that still matters to him, and when he rescues the young prostitute from her sordid rooming house and takes her into hiding to sweat out her addiction, Iggy finds and uses that one thing that is stronger than Joe's passion for Candy, in a heart-thumping, breathless conclusion.

General: I'll be honest. When I picked this book out at the library, I didn't read the summary too well. When I got home and picked it up to start reading it, well, let's say I was in for a little surprise. Being a high schooler, my parents are pretty strict about what I read. So when I realized what this book was REALLY about--heroin and prostitution...well, let's say I nearly put it down. But I decided to read it instead, and promised myself I would put it down if it got too bad. But I'm happy to say, it didn't. The author, Kevin Brooks, tackled this tough subject with skill. He didn't take advantage of the opportunity to throw in terribly foul language or a random sex scene, and I greatly admire and respect that. I mean seriously. Prostitution? But Brooks skillfully and masterfully opened my eyes to the horrors of that world--without horrifying my own parents.

Plot: So I began reading this and...I was immediately writing off this book as just a weird book. Because believe me, the beginning is really weird. At least, I found it to be so. The main character, Joe, meets the alternate main character, Candy, and he immediately becomes obsessed (to an unhealthy level) with this girl. All the while unaware that Candy is, in actuality, selling her body in exchange for drugs from her "pimp", Iggy, a controlling and violent man. Candy's history with this shocking "profession" is one of bullying and pain in her childhood. She met Iggy and he made her feel special and loved, telling her what she needed to hear. All too soon, he had her hooked on some pretty powerful drugs. But when Iggy ran out of money to purchase the drugs, he pressured Candy (real name, Candice) into selling the one thing she could for drugs--her body. She's ashamed and hurting...but Iggy turned out not to be the loving and kind guy she thought he was, and now she's trapped in this downward spiral she regrets to call her life.

After a few chapters the book certainly was looking much better, and less...um...odd. And then, in one chapter, with astonishing speed, the book picked up faster than I had time to think about it. And from then on, I was hooked on this book. Once it got, well, EXTRA INTENSE, I could NOT put it down.

Characters: I have to tell the truth. When we first learned about Candy and her secret life, I immediately decided I didn't like this girl, and that Joe needed to get himself away from her, quickly as possible, and as soon as possible. But then, when she tells her story, I realized. She's just a girl. She's a girl who made a few wrong decisions for a guy who manipulated her into feeling loved and special so he could get himself some cash, and some drugs. And she wants out. And you could feel it. I could feel the ache in Candy's heart to be free. I could feel her pangs of regret for getting with Iggy in the first place. And that was utterly heartbreaking and tremendously wonderful to be a part of, considering the skill Kevin Brooks has in his writing.

Joe is a harder character to figure out. He's complicated. Once he meets Candy, he loses his sense of loyalty. No longer does he sees things in black and white. He was kind of a naive boy before he met Candy. Now, his knowledge is more than he seems to know what to do with. But Candy means everything to him. He's willing to do anything to get her free. Free from Iggy, free from prostitution, and free from the grip heroin has on her. It's beautiful, honestly.

All in all, I can't even think of the right words to sum up this book. It's powerful, it's gripping, it's beautiful, it's thrilling. It's the promise of "forever". It's unstoppable love. It's danger. It's mistakes and plans, hopes and heartbreak. It's disturbing, it's provocative, it's enthralling, and it's awe-inspiring. This novel isn't an easy one to forget.


Plot: 18/20
Characters: 19/20
Ending: 18/20
Cover: 17/20
Style: 19/20
Overall: 91/100

Grade: A

2010 Debut Author Challenge!

Well, tomorrow's the first day of August...and I have some news! I decided to join in on the 2010 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. It looks like a contest that's gonna be a lot of fun. Even for people who don't win, it's a crazy awesome challenge.

Basically, the idea is to read at least 12 YA or Middle Grade novels published by debut authors in 2010. Anyone can join in the fun, and you can jump in whenever. It's a monthly thing, so you don't have to have been participating since January. When you read a book that qualifies to be on the list, you go ahead and write a review of it. When you're sure your review is finished, post it on your blog (or Goodreads, Amazon, etc. if you don't have your own blog), then post the link on this page here.

On that page, you will also find links for the sign-up page where you will type in your name and your blog URL to let them know you'll be participating in the contest. DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKE I DID! When I added my name to the list, I wrote my name, the blog's name, and my blog's URL. That is NOT what you're supposed to do. You are supposed to put in your name, your blog's name, and the link to your CHALLENGE POST (that would be this post right here). Ahem, oops. I fixed that...heheh.

Anyway, you'll also find a link to the page with the buttons you can grab. There's a whole bunch. You can choose your favorite. When you grab it, put it in your blog's sidebar to show your support!

There's also a page that has more detailed information about the challenge/contest. Check that out here for more information so you actually know what you're doing. Also on that page are some links you might find helpful in order to find some books for you to read. Not many of us can think of these things off the top of our heads, so those links are for sure gonna help ME, at least. Hopefully you, too. Anyway, the challenge begins tomorrow, the first day of August, and it will run to the very last day. Dude, check out this prize pack...

It's...pretty awesome! On this page you can find a list of what's exactly in there.

Here's my list of the books I plan to read for the challenge.

1. Split by Swati Avasthi
2. Wish by Alexandra Bullen
3. The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
4. The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones
5. Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White
6. Claire de Lune by Christie Johnson
7. The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
8. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
10. Sea by Heidi R. Kling
11. The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
12. The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone

and one for good luck... :)

13. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

So, I'll do the very best I can to read and review all those books. Hopefully I'll be able to get my hands on them one way or another.
So I'm pumped for this! Anybody gonna join me?? Comment below if you plan on participating!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Book Blogger Hop and Weekend Wrap-up

Well it's finally here! Today is Friday! And you know what that means...

Book Blogger Hop

For the second week in a row, I entered my name in the list on crazy-for-books.com. If you have your own book blog and have not yet done so, I highly recommend doing it. It's a great way to get people to come visit your blog and gain some followers!

Each week, there's a question that has to be answered. This week's question is...

Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?

Ok...this one takes some careful consideration. I've read tons of new authors in this year so far. But...I'd have to say I have to go with Deb Caletti. I read her book, The Nature of Jade and absolutely fell in love with her and her work. That book got a rave review from me and you can check it out here.

So! That's that for the Hop. If you are coming from the Hop, do these two things for me!

1) Comment below and lemme know that you found me on the Hop.
2) Follow, follow, follow!

So. If you're already a follower, you probably know that this a new kind of post I like to do on Fridays (this is my second time doing the post) called the Weekend Wrap-up. The first time I tried this, the two posts ended up being separate. Then someone pointed out to me that by condensing them into one post, the brand new readers from the Hop can see kinda what I do around here. So that's what I'm gonna try this week!

This week has been a rather calm week in the world of FMNS. I did two reviews this week. And here they are...

I reviewed the book To Be Mona by Kelly Easton. I had high expectations for this book, but unfortunately....the novel didn't live up to them. The story had a great set-up and fabulous potential...but it missed the mark a little. My review was not too great, and the book recieved the grade "D".

You can read that review here if you'd like.

Also reviewed this week was the book A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn. This one also looked fabulous--funny, entertaining, witty, and creative. And it certainly was all of these things! But in terms of characters development and the overall spark of the book...it just didn't beg to be read. That was a tough review to write, but it recieved the grade "C".

Check that out using this link.

I am currently reading a book called Candy by Kevin Brooks. When I started the book, I thought it was totally weird, and I was worried I'd have to read yet another book that disappointed me. But suddenly it picked right up! And now it's this extra intense book that I can't put down! I'm about 20 pages from the end and it's just...so good!

Well, there's my week! Now...for the part I just love. One of the parts (my favorite part) of the Weekend Wrap-up post is to feature a new book blog I discovered during the week and loved.

This week, I found a blog that's about a month old. Her blog has a cute background and plenty of promising posts. Looking around the site, this blog has potential and I can't wait to see what she does in the future. So far, in the course of about a month, she's gathered about 30 followers (which I'd say is pretty good!). I'd like you guys to go ahead and check out...

You can find her on the web at emiliebookworld.blogspot.com. I invite you to check her out and follow her to keep updated on all the new things she's cranking out. Plus, she's reading Shiver, which is like at the top of my TBR list, sooo... :)  Hahaa, well, Emilie, good luck in the blogosphere! Keep up the great work, girl!

Well, that's a wrap! There's our week here at From My Nightstand. For all you new folks, we hope you can keep on coming back. And if you are a new blogger with your blog less than a month old, send me an email at frommynightstand@gmail.com. I'll check out your blog and hopefully you'll be featured in the next few weeks! Thanks for reading, guys. Adios!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn : C

Title: A Kiss In Time
Author: Alex Flinn
Genre: YA
Publication: 2009 by HarperTeen
Pages: 384
Ages: 12+
Grade: C

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic...

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss.

I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!

Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

General: So far, I think this may be the hardest review I've had to write yet.

When I picked out this book at the library, I expected a hilarious, creative novel, a brilliant re-write of a classic fairy tale. And...I guess maybe that's kinda what I got. But...perhaps I should have lowered my expectations just a little. Don't get me wrong. I liked the book. It was very funny; I found myself laughing out loud many times. It just...left me just a little thirsty for more, as if it hadn't fully and totally satisfied me.

Plot: Ok, I can't credit Alex Flinn for the plot. That's...an oldie. But a goodie! He certainly did a good job of making it much more realistic and modern. I very much enjoyed all the scenes where the "Sleeping Beauty" character, Talia, was forced to adjust to the "real" world. For example, the scene where she learns what a bus is, what a cell phone is, a camera, and WHAT?! Girls in PANTS?! My personal favorite was when she talks on the cell phone for the first time and actually throws it away from her in terror :)

The book made you think about things from the classic Sleeping Beauty tale that you never would have thought of before. For example, what if the guy who woke you up (Jack, in this case) doesn't even WANT to marry you? What if your father hates him, and thinks you've ruined the whole country? What if, what if, what if?

But...this is a difficult review, because the book just wasn't...amazing. It wasn't bad, at all. There were things about it that I really did like! But it just didn't stand out. It wasn't hard to put down, and it was not a quick read. It definitely took me longer than usual to get through it. When I did read, it was a good reading experience. The book is cute and funny. It just doesn't beg to be read.

Characters: The characters were very funny. Not the most developed characters ever, but very entertaining. Talia's absolute cluelessness is hilarious, and Jack's utter horror at the fact that they expect him to marry Talia brings a chuckle. But...like most of the other things about this book, it's very...mediocre. It's, eh, okay.

Each chapter is told from a different point of view, either Jack's or Talia's. I did like how that author very noticeably changed the overall voice and tone of his writing depending on who he had written was narrating it. I admired that about his writing.

Overall, the book isn't stunning, but it's certainly not a boring book. The whole novel is just...lukewarm. Not fascinating, but not enough to make you drool. I certainly recommend it as a book to read on the side or something. It IS an entertaining read. Just not a spectacularly fascinating one.


Plot: 14/20
Characters: 15/20
Ending: 13/20
Cover: 10/20
Style: 18/20
Overall: 70/100

Grade: C

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday (3)

Another Wednesday comes around!! This spectacular weekly meme was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. Anyone can participate. Basically, all you have to do is choose a book that's coming out in the next few months that you're uber excited about! So...I've been doing my research...and here's what I found.

Matched by Ally Condie
Released November 30th, 2010

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

The summary reminds me of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield, which I enjoyed. So...this one looks to me like it could either be really good, or it could be AMAZING! So far on the reviews they've posted on bn.com, (the reviewers with advance copies...?), people really like it a lot. I guess we'll just have to see... I love the cover though. It portrays very well the idea of living trapped and totally controlled. Living in a bubble!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (3) : Waves

Well...I guess it's that time of the week, huh?

I'm currently reading a book called Waves by Sharon Dogar. I'm like...4 pages in. So...I think I'll do one of those "open-to-a-random-page-and-pick-two-sentences" things. So here's two random sentences from that book.

"We're back on the cliffs. We practically live here now, as though if we stay up here for long enough our lives might become as clear and spread out as the beaches below us."

Well I guess that was kinda fun! Picking out random sentences from random parts in the book that I haven't read yet. I wish I could tell you what I think of the book so far...but I can't. Not yet. Hopefully soon I'll put up a review (after I put up the one for A Kiss In Time, which I finished this morning). If not, you'll see what I think so far in my weekend wrap-up post. So...with that, I'll get going. Have an awesome Tuesday, guys :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

To Be Mona by Kelly Easton : D

Title: To Be Mona
Author: Kelly Easton
Genre: Realistic Fiction (YA)
Publication: 2008 by Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 213
Ages: 14-15+
Grade: D

Sage Priestly is seventeen, and she longs to reinvent herself -- to strip away the fat, the past, the crazy mom, the unpaid bills. She longs to be her own version of the gorgeous and popular Mona Simms.

Sage starts dieting and exercising. She gets blond highlights and throws away all of her black clothes. Bit by bit she transforms herself. This is deeply troubling to her best friend, Vern, who is secretly in love with Sage just the way she is. But the boyfriend Sage wants -- the popular jock Roger -- suddenly notices her. And when they start dating, Sage thinks her life is turning around.

So why isn't Sage happier? Yes, Roger is a little too controlling and pushy, but isn't that what boys are like when you date them? What is it about the image Sage has created that just doesn't fit?

Smart, honest, and tough, Sage is a teen with more going for her than she thinks, but she still has a lot to learn.

General: I took this book out hoping for a really good read. The book looked like it had the potential to be really good, really deep, thought-provoking, powerful, you know. But...I'm sorry to say, I was disappointed. I debated whether or not to actually write a review of it. But I read somewhere on one of those blogger advice lists or whatever, not to be afraid to write a bad review. So...here goes.

This was a strange book to write a review for. There were things I loved and things I absolutely hated. When I started the book, I absolutely fell in love with Kelly Easton's writing style. It was funny and very tasteful. I immediately expected to love this book. But I was let down more and more as I read on.

The book has a small number of pages, and rather large print. It certainly was an easy and quick read. During the whole book, there were a lot of hypothetical questions such as "If you were a color, what would you be?" or "If you were a country, which would you be?". Those the author really took into depth. I liked those a lot.

Plot: The plot seemed to go everywhere and nowhere at once. Things were happening, but it was just...boring. She developed a relationship with her new jock boyfriend but it was just...uneventful and weird. She fell away from her guy friend who secretly loved her but it was just...dumb. Things happened, definitely, but it was just terribly uninteresting.

Characters: Talking about the characters is more difficult to do. Some of the characters were really well developed. The main character, Sage, is very real and honest. She has a lot of depth to her, as a character. Other characters, though, were so lacking I can hardly even begin to describe it. They just had no substance to them! They were so surface-level. The author never really took it deeper, took it a step further.

Another thing that bothered me about the characters was that the author seemed to explore their "secret side", or it would seem like she was about to take it a step further...and then she just...stopped. She just left it there. She would go JUST in depth ENOUGH about one character and then...poof. We'd be moving on. It was really leaving me hanging.

Overall, this book wasn't too great. Sure, it offers a look at the pain of having a bipolar parent and the hurt of domestic abuse. And I absolutely adored Kelly Easton's writing style. Weirdly enough, her style was, dare I say, brilliant and humorous. It made it all the more confusing and disappointing, as the book itself was a letdown. I was expecting a spectacular, powerful book and I came away disappointed. The plot was slow and underdeveloped, as were the characters. The ending was painfully abrupt. The book barely ended! You had no clue in the world what was going to happen to Sage. It was just...over. That bugged me. Honestly, I didn't enjoy this book too much.


Plot: 11/20
Characters: 8/20
Ending: 10/20
Cover: 6/20
Style: 18/20
Overall: 53/100

Grade: D

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

Well here it is! I told you guys that this week would probably be a good one for IMM and...it was! Unfortunately, I went on vacation with a limited supply of money so I only bought three books. But that's okay, because they all look good! And here they are...

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

This is a book I heard about at school, actually... We did a series of book reports and one girl did hers on If I Stay. It looked super good so I tried for weeks and weeks and weeks to get it out of the library but I couldn't get my hands on it. So I finally bought it. It looks really promising and I will certainly have a review up, good or bad.


Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

You heard plenty about this one from me, since I did a review like two days after I got it. But...here's a summary in case you didn't read that one. Then once you read this, you can go ahead and read it. (Laurie Halse Anderson did, and thanked me on Twitter, btw!)

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background - average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn't believe.

His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his fathers boss's daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy and Tyler's secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world.

In Twisted, the acclaimed Laurie Halse Anderson tackles a very controversial subject: what it means to be a man today. Fans and new readers alike will be captured by Tyler's pitch perfect, funny voice, the surprising narrative arc, and the thoughtful moral dilemmas that are at the heart of all of the authors award-winning, widely read work.

No further comment... If you would like to read my review of that one, you can check it out here.


Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Miranda's disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

In her journal, Miranda records the events of each desperate day, while she and her family struggle to hold on to their most priceless resource--hope.

This one looked really cool... I thought it would be fun to read something a little different, as the novel is a sci-fi kind of novel. So I hold out a lot of hope for this one too. I'm excited about it!


So...those are the three books I bought this week on vacation. You should have seen the bookstore. It was awesome. They had all kinds of books there. Usually bookstores like that have an ok adult section, an awful young adult section, and an extensive non-fiction and current events section. But not this one. It had kids, young adult, adult fiction, and not to mention, that extensive non-fiction section :)

Also, in the back that had some sweet toys and stuff. They had some board games, puzzles, and my favorite, mad-libs. Not to mention their AMAZING selection of playing cards. I personally collect fun playing cards (what a nerd) with pictures including baseball, Van Gogh's "Starry Night", Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa", famous women authors, and lots more. I got all excited.

Anyway, since they had such a great selection of young adult books, I had trouble picking out what books to get that wouldn't spend all my money...so this is what I got. Personally, I'm happy with what I bought. Hopefully they'll make good reviews!

Header... FIXED!

Hey guys, I have really big news!! The header (in case you didn't notice when you came in) is totally FIXED! The text is sooo much better, the annoying "be trendy" part has been covered over, and the ad up top is less noticeable!! Exciting!!

See, I'm not super tech savvy. At least, not HTML savvy or anything like that. So I was kinda lost when it came to fixing it up. Soo... One of the blogs I follow, Pages, uses a template from the same website where I found mine (which, by the way, is pretty awesome. You can check out that website from the link over the header). I saw the template she uses on the actual website and I saw that she had managed to make some of the changes I needed to make. So I sent her an email desperately asking for her help and...VOILA! She totally helped me!

Kirthi, I am forever in your debt. Thank you so much :)


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