Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pretty Little Liars ~ Sara Shepard book & TV review

Pretty Little Liars (#1)
Harper Teen
304 pages
June 8, 2010 (revised-TV cover edition)

Four years ago--seventh grade--they were five best friends: Emily, Aria, Spencer, Hanna, & Ali. But then Ali disappeared. Over time the girls drifted apart, each of course devastated about Ali's disappearance, but also a little bit relieved. Each of the girls, after all, had a secret--a secret that only Ali knew.

Now, it's junior year and Aria's just back after two years with her family in Iceland, formerly chubby Hanna is now the It Girl, Spence still has trouble keeping her hands off her sister's boyfriends, and Emily meets the new girl living in Ali's old house.

Because this is a super scandalous series, though, there's an affair with a new teacher (though it does actually start out somewhat innocently), shoplifting, drinking, and more. The girls are sure they'll be able to keep their images intact despite their missteps, but then they start receiving text messages from the mysterious 'A' who knows not only what they're up to now, but also their secrets from seventh grade. Secrets only Alison knows.

This book is a great start to this series (eight books so far, not sure if that's all). It introduces all of the characters very well and sets up a lot of the back story (with some flashbacks). Pretty Little Liars also leaves enough open ended to leave the reader wanting to read the second book--and probably the third, etc.

It's a pretty quick read as well; perfect for summer in so many ways.

The Pretty Little Liars TV show premiered last week on ABC Family and there's an encore of the pilot tonight at 7 EST before the second episode is on at 8 EST (and 9 & 10 EST). The first episode covered the first book. The general book storyline was followed from start to finish with the episode with a few events left out. The show seemed a little more PG (but with a TV-14 rating for language) than the books so I think some events were left out because of that.

The main thing that I noticed left out was the party and what happened there (and after as a result). I don't know how each subsequent episode is going to line up to the books, but it's looking like the second episode will cover at least part of the second book. (I'm hoping to finish the second book today--if I do, I'll try to do a review like this for the second book/episode).

(The first book is the yellow one-or the one with the cover like the pic I have to match the TV show images and the second is Flawless and it's orange.)

And since I actually got this book a long, long time ago from HarperTeen along with a First Look book, thank you to them for the book!


Crispin: End of Time ~ Avi review

Cripsin: End of Time
Balzer + Bray
240 pages
June 15, 2010

The third book in Avi's Cripsin trilogy, after Cross of Lead and Edge of the World takes up pretty much right where the second book left off (and quit reading now if you'd like to avoid spoilers and read the first two books first): Bear is dead, leaving Troth and Crispin to fend for themselves in France where they know no one (nor the language).

With the only real goal of finding Iceland (a land Bear spoke of being ruled by no kings or lords--one that was truly free), Crispin must make his way through danger and turmoil again.

Both Cross of Lead and Edge of the World were enjoyable books that brought in bits of the relevant 14th century history without being obvious or overbearing about it; End of Time does the same. It seemed, though, that it would be easier to understand the story and the characters if you'd already read the first two books. There wasn't a lot of recapping done and sometimes places, people or events from previous books were mentioned in passing. I don't think it was necessary, however to have read them-just helpful.

I was pleased with where this last book took the characters (and where they were left at the end. It seemed to fit with the first two books and the events that had transpired over the series.

Edge of the World held the same suspense as the other Crispin books, as well. While still being appropriate for younger readers, it's still something that will be worth reading to older readers--especially those who read Cross of Lead back in 2002 when it was originally released.

These books are fast, easy, enjoyable reads that I would recommend to anyone looking for books appropriate for younger readers, too (They're for ages 10+/grades 5+).


(Thank you to the publisher fot this book--it finally got me to read this series.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Insatiable ~ Meg Cabot review

William Morrow
464 pages
June 8, 2010
Buy @ Amazon

Meena Harper is a dialogue writer for Insatiable, TV's number two daytime soap--the she hopes to become head writer for the show she's loved for years (even before she worked on it). There's something else Meena Harper does, something she doesn't let everyone know about . . . she knows when people are going to die just by meeting them.

She knows from experience that people aren't quite open to receiving her news, so she's found ways to warn them without quite telling them why they need to keep her number around or avoid elevators or chicken wings.

Meena's life is about to get a whole lot more interesting because not only is Insatiable about to introduce a vampire storyline to compete with Lust the number one soap (which Meena hates because vampires are misogynistic monsters), but her talkative neighbor sends out an e-vite for a dinner party with her husband's cousin, a Romanian prince who's in town.

Lucien Antonescu, a history professor in Budapest is in town to catch a serial killer leaving exsanguinated girls in NYC parks--and, apparently, attend a dinner party.

Soon, his nemesis Alaric Wulf of the Palatine Guard-a group of vampire hunters headed by the Vatican--is also in Meena's life and a vampire war is under way. Not to mention her pregnant best friend or her laid off brother living with her trying to convince her best friend's also laid off husband to become a cop.

While it's true the summary makes it sound like there are about ten million things going on in Insatiable (and the Amazon one says some things that I'm pretty sure aren't revealed until later a good bit later on--or I missed them!), it's okay because it's 464 pages. And because it all works together.

The characters each have their own things going on and their own reason for being in the story; they're not just there to provide something another character needs. And a soap opera is a perfect backdrop for a vampire story if you think about it--the absurdity that's always in soaps and the suggestion of vampires to normal people being absurd if you're rational.

Meena hating vampires, being so sure they're fictional (and also kind of dumb), and also being so, so against having them on her soap made the story even more enjoyable. Really this is partially an anti-vampire book that is also the best vampire book I've read in ages.

The relationships between the characters are so real and compelling that I wanted more because I really just couldn't get enough of any of them--or this story.I think this is a series and I desperately, desperately hope it is because there are certain characters/relationships/storylines that I really just need more of--and soon.

I'm starting to think I do better with Meg Cabot's adult books than I do with her YA books (and wonder if that's true for anyone else?). I think this was her NaNoWriMo novel, too and that's just insanity to me.

It is above a YA content level--not like Jeaniene Frost's Halfway to the Grave (review) but a little more than Cabot's own Size 12 Is Not Fat (review). If you're good with that content level I very much suggest reading it!

The hugest of thank you's to the publisher for sending this book to me because I might not have read it very soon if I hadn't gotten it in the mail and I massively adored it.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Releasing Today

Some great books (and things based on books) are releasing today...

The Secret to Lying by Todd Mitchell (review coming in the next few days)
Insatiable by Meg Cabot (review coming either later today or in the next few days)

and the Pretty Little Liars TV show premieres on ABC Family tonight, too (I'm reading those books now, too)

and because I didn't post about it on the first, the super fabulous Everlasting by Angie Frazier released on June 1 & I missed In My Mailbox Monday because of a bunch of lightning so I'll included that book--And Another Thing... , Eoin Colfer's conclusion of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Series, here (the paperback cover is different but I couldn't find that except on Amazon).
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