Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano | Review

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Published: March 22, 2011
Number of Pages: 358
Rating: 3.5/5

Obviously, something went terribly wrong. Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters; but finding allies and a safe way out is a challenge she can only hope she will survive. A dystopian fantasy series starter with wings. Editor's recommendation. (

"Suddenly the clouds seem high above us. They’re moving over us in an arch, circling the planet. They have seen abysmal oceans and charred, scorched islands. They have seen how we destroyed the world. If I could see everything, as the clouds do, would I swirl around this remaining continent, still so full of color and life and seasons, wanting to protect it? Or would I just laugh at the futility of it all, and meander onward, down the earth’s sloping atmosphere?"

Wither...was a hard story for me to swallow. But I will say that I would like to have heterochromia because I'm ALL about the strange eye colors. :3 There were good and and bad aspects to the storyline. To me, what annoyed me the most was the accuracy of the ages. How would it ever be possible, regardless of the endless march of science, for there to be actual ages of which we die? We estimate the ages we die. We do not have specific ages. We are not scientific. We are everything.

Why would you kill all the girls who aren't chosen for polygamous marriages? Let them go back home, or send them to someone else searching for wives. Jesus. If you're trying to keep the human race from falling apart, or trying to be cruel, don't be unusual/strange about it.

However, DeStefano's writing is beautifully flowing throughout the entire novel. All the way through it continues with the same sense of anxiety Rhine feels, and the small tinkle of hope she has of escaping and going back home to her brother. She feels scared for her sister wives, sympathetic and wary for/of Linden, and terrified of Vaughn. It's all a very interesting setup, and I like the characters.

 Cecily and Jenna were the interesting sisters, because you didn't know as much about what happened in their heads. I know it's possible, but it still just seems wrong for someone as young as Cecily to be eager to throw away her virginity. Jenna is a rather depressing character, but for good reason. Rhine, to me, seems to be the most determined of them all when it comes to family. Cecily is content to stay, Jenna would rather die than assist Linden, Rhine is defiant.

Enter Gabriel. I'm not sure I cared for Gabriel—I mean, I suppose he's never been able to leave and an influence like that would never make him want to leave. But he still comes off, to me, as a rather weaker character. I feel like he was just in there for the sake of a love story; he didn't need to be in the story. There was nothing completely unique about him that made me wonder about him; only Rhine's curiosity.

Another thing that made the story hard for me to follow was the fact you hardly ever left this building she lives in. It seems like the story takes place in five rooms. I can take a story that happens in a day, or in a few hours; but I'm bothered when it takes place in only one place. It makes it hard to stay interested, because there isn't much variety in the scenery. Granted, there were plenty of times you left the 'villa', but you always had to come back. For the story, I understand, but...well, you get the idea.

Anyway, away from all the things I didn't like! I really loved Rhine's character, and I adored the scene where Gabriel showed her the river she is named after. When we met Rose's character early into the story, you had to feel sorry for her when you saw the virus' effects. I enjoyed all the symbology the story could offer with her wedding ring, the Rhine River, the window to freedom.

Oh, trust me, I enjoyed this book. I'm going to get the next one the minute it comes out! The characters were fun to decipher, the story was fun despite the little points of it that seem out-of-place to me, and I'm curious to find out what happens to them all. Especially Linden, when he discovers the truth of the women trafficking. Anyway, that's that. I think I'm going to wait and do the Sweep reviews later. (:

Divergent by Veronica Roth | Review

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: May 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 496
Rating: 5/5

Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.


"It is more important for you to be safe than right, for the time being. Understand? (...) But please, when you see an opportunity...ruin them."

"Fear doesn't shut you down. It wakes you up."


I could make a five-word review out of this, but I won't because I loved this book too much. But for the sake of it, I'll put those five words down:

I. Loved. This. Freaking. Book.

I loved every single aspect of this book, and I rambled about it to my parents, friends, and teachers until I was beating a dead horse. For the first few pages, I was confused/bored, but that was IT. After that I was flipping through the pages like there was no tomorrow, promise. This is probably the best book I've read all year. It was so exciting, mysterious, and action-packed.

Okay, I'll get off that now and get to the actual story. So, there are five factions in a future world, the story based in Chicago. Abnegation, for the selfless; Amity, for the peaceful; Erudite, for the intelligent; Dauntless, for the brave; and Candor, for the honest. Our protagonist, Beatrice, is from Abnegation—and her feelings are mixed. She wants to be selfless, but she just can't understand. So she has hit the age of sixteen, and she takes the test to decide which factions best fit her.

She is Divergent. This is dangerous. But that is all she is told. Beatrice decides to go into Dauntless, and takes up the name Tris [which I like much better]. Immediately she makes a few friends, and meets her future love interest, Four. Dauntless puts its newest members through a number of trials to decide who gets to stay, and who gets to be factionless. Tris vows not to let this happen.

Tris's character is very complex, very layered, and can be very selfish. I know a lot of people are put off by that fact, but look at it this way: would you really be selfless in a faction like Dauntless, whether you grew up selfless or not? I think not. It's just another layer of Tris you have to accept. Each character has their own goals driving them, whether they be righteous or not.

Travelling on through the events, Tris is antagonized, befriended, loved, and hated. She is uncertain, she is Dauntless, she is Divergent. Her family is a great source of uncertainty for her throughout the book, as is Four. There are just so many things going on at once in this book, and it makes it impossible to put down.

Before I make this review last four about seventy paragraphs, I think I'll just stop there by saying that the end is everything and more than what could have been expected. The only thing I could possibly criticize would be...the lack of explanation for how the world became the way it is, but I suppose that's for a later novel.  Veronica Roth has set the bar for anything dystopian in my eyes. Bravo, brava, keep it up, looking forward to the next novel. (;

Torment by Lauren Kate | Review

Title: Torment
Author: Lauren Kate
Published: January 9, 2010
Number of Pages: 452
Rating: 3.5/5

Hell on earth.
That’s what it’s like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel.

It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts—immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.
At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn’t told her everything. He’s hiding something—something dangerous.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies. (


"Well, as much as I love kicking asses and taking names, it's way past curfew for you three."- Arriane

"Would he find her?
Without question.
Would he save her?


Okay, let's get this out of the way first: I enjoyed Torment ten times more than I did Fallen. I felt an improvement in the characters, and I liked Luce's character a lot more than I did the first time. I think part of it had to do with the fact she actually decides to question Daniel's loyalty.

That's what a lot of this book is about. Luce is separated from Daniel, and it's killing her inside. She's been left in a place she's never been before, surrounded by Nephilim, and she doesn't know what to think. She hasn't even been told what's going on with Cam, or anything. I can actually relate to her distress in this book. In Fallen, it felt so unnecessary. Luce becomes a hero amidst a group of heroes and villains, angels and demons. She is also a target, further adding to the distress when she doesn't even understand why.

Daniel's loyalty is put into question when Luce suspects that he's keeping secrets from her, secrets that affect her very wellbeing. She makes a number of new friends and enemies while attending a Nephilim school in California, and her skills of summoning the Announcers are expanded on; making her a much stronger protagonist than she was in the previous book. She uses her skill at swimming to rescue a classmate, and her bravery to find out more about her past lives.

A few things that annoyed me about the book are here too, though: Daniel is an angel, yes? Then why the hell does he kiss her and make out with her in order just to make her forget what she wants to ask him? That doesn't seem right to me.

Why the hell would you describe an angel's wings as sexy? I don't know, maybe that's just me, but it seriously annoyed me. I also thought that for all of the things she's learning, she's still just so damn wimpy at points. Sorry for the language, but aaaugh. Those are the reasons for the lack of stars; and there are also some minor things like the fashion of the dialogue that annoy me for some reason. The fact that a lot of characters start out so vague and then all of a sudden they're blunter than anyone I've ever met gets on my nerves.

Hm...I like the new characters, especially Shelby and Miles. Shelby and her attitude issues [though it reminds me of Arriane sort of] and Miles with his nice little "I'm-a-good-boy" attitude make me giggle. And the fact Arriane and everyone else came back to meet at Luce's house was awesome!

My favorite aspect was the final battle at the end of the book. Lauren Kate's description of it had me on the edge of my seat, and I totally fell in love with Gabbe's earth-manipulation! The final battle was just epic, epic, epic; and Miles' trick even more so.

So, in the end, Torment ended up much better than Fallen. Congrats, Lauren Kate; you made me a fan. (; Now I'm just waiting for Passion to come out on paperback and for a release date on Rapture.

Friday Five (How Could I Have Missed Three?!?) [11]

I am SOOOOO sorry! School started up and it immediately got super-hectic; they have this new system of discipline and it's just sort of...irrelevant, and just kind of ticks everyone off. I wouldn't even call it a discipline system, just an annoyance system. ANYWAY, I'm not going to make a three-in-one; I'm just going to put main points from the last three weeks here and only one song. XD It'll be a different song than any you've seen me post! :3

1. My REAL Car. - The 2001 Sunfire just wasn't working; because the person with the title lived in Ohio and pretty much refused to search for it. So we settled for a different car, and it ended up being ten times better than the Sunfire. It's a white 1998 Pontiac Grand Am SE. :3 At first I was nervous about getting a white car; I really didn't want a white car. But once I saw it and drove it once, I fell in love.

2. Driving Alone - It really gives you an ethereal sense of independence and heightened confidence. I got to drive by myself for the first time to the closest city in order to pick up my mom and meet someone [next little thing I'll talk about (; ), and on the way there, it was just a complete sense of independence. I loved it. Cranking the music, singing along, owning the highway. It's amazing.

3. Roger Whitlow, author of The American Cell - So I met this man at McDonalds—not the greatest meeting place, but it was nice. He was a professor at a nearby college, and a friend of one of my teachers; so he arranged the meeting because he knows my goals of writing and such. Roger Whitlow was a very nice, helpful man; and I loved our conversation. He was an older gentleman, but it didn't diminish my excitement at meeting him whatsoever. I gave him the first eight chapters of my book, and he gave me an enormous writer's guide on writing contests, publishers, and agents. Very cool! ...Except for the fact he still hasn't given back my eight chapters.

4. Back to School - This year I have the following classes: U.S. History, Spanish III [lol I almost typed Snape at first], Physical Education, Algebra II, Biology II, English III, and Current Events. I have a job to work in the school library during study hall, and it's very fun! All the people at school have been getting along okay; usually within the first few days someone ends up with a bloody nose. Not this year. Our school is terrible with cell phones, and our teachers cracked down on that this year. Instant out of school suspension the second time you get caught with your phone! Jeez. Junior year's studies are enjoyable, but the teachers are just irritating. Except for history because my history teacher is just so funny.

5. Linked - A while back I gave a small interview with the protagonist of one of my novels, Linked. My mom read the first few chapters the other day because I felt bad for her long wait on my finished manuscript of the third book of the Flame Cycle. She loved it! This isn't much, but it's one of my highlights and I loved talking about it with her.

6. WaldenBooks' Final Weekend: Shopping Spree - I went over to WaldenBooks with my mom to salvage whatever books I could before they closed at the end of the month. I asked Audrey [holes In My brain] for some book suggestions, and unbelievably, only one of the books she recommended could be found! They've sold so many books in the time they have left! I feel awesome for that, but I wanted those other books. ): So in the end I grabbed about seven books, and after I finish all these reviews I have waiting, I'll start on those. (;

7. Song of the Week - All of the Lights by Kanye West / Rihanna / Kid Cudi

WARNING: This video can easily cause seizures for those with epilepsy.
Anyway, let me sum up the song this way: our class plans prom this year, and this is the theme we chose. I hate Kid Cudi. I don't like Fergie whatsoever, and she has a small part in this song [another version]. I wish Kanye West could just like, go jump off a cliff. But somehow, I fell in LOVE with this song! I prefer this censored version though.

On Writing by Stephen King | Review

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Published: January 1, 2000
Number of Pages: 297
Rating: 4.5/5


"Long live the King" hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. []


“Grab that book you were looking at off the shelf again, would you? The weight of it in your hands tells you the other stuff that you can take in without reading a single word. The commitment the writer shouldered in order to create the work.”

“You didn’t ask me. I never opened my mouth, and you never opened yours. We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room…except we are together. We’re close. We’re having a meeting of the minds.”

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”


On Writing is the first book I’ve ever read by Stephen King; but I’m not quite sure if the fact it was a sort of ‘guide’ should say much. However, I did enjoy this. I loved King’s raw writing style, how he throws the facts on the table and leaves you to decipher them as you will. I will say that his memoir section of the book did bore me a few times; I considered just leaving it unfinished once or twice, but came up with nothing to do one day and finished reading it.

It’s actually been a while since I read it; so bear with me if my details are sort of vague. I’m slacking. The book started to interest me more when I reached “On Writing”, the actual section. I enjoyed his tips, deciphering his language, and I liked that he trusted the reader to interpret what he was saying no matter what they thought of it. I adored the way he compared writing to telepathy—and you know what? It is very possible that’s what it is!

Stephen King takes us on a journey that leads us into his mind: the mind of an amazing, brilliant writer. I underestimated Mr. King greatly—his step-by-step through the writer’s toolbox, through the characters and the dialogue and the craft of story making. The whole experience was actually very beautiful.

Something I have always, always, always struggled in with my drafts is wordiness; and King takes us through a first draft, and then editing it. I think I squealed when I got to that section. Giving us examples of how to omit needless words; how to avoid the enormous words that will simply make us stop, stutter, and wonder what the heck it means. He shows us that symbology must come in early; and so many other tips I’ve taken to heart.

I wish I had the book longer. That way I could have taken more notes. Oh well, I will more than likely buy it if I ever get the chance! Another of my favorite analogies he uses, and something I’ve actually thought of before but never considered it, is thinking writing a story is like creating a forest and watching it grow into a sprawling ecosystem of life.

That is writing. That is its nature. Writing is life for those who harness it and wish to learn it from the inside out; who want to become it and be its lover. Writing is a lifesaver for some, and it is and always will be the greatest thing many people have stumbled upon. It has been for Stephen King, it has been for other countless authors like Roald Dahl, Markus Zusak, and other honorable writers. It has been for me, and maybe it has been for you.

Create your forest. But before you do, take a look at this book!


Listening to: Musique pour la Tristesse de Xion [piano] - Yoko Shimomura
Watching: National Treasure
Reading: I have six or seven books to pick from atm!
Quote: "It's because I'm a witch." — Morgan Rowlands | Sweep | Cate Tiernan

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday Five (Before School Starts...) [10]

Hah, basically I'm going to be spilling my to-do list for the whole Internet to see and not care. Yay!

1. Arts & Crafts - One friend wants me to make a profile for a character I've created made Desmond, a straight-on face profile and then one of the back of his head, that way she can have someone make a doll out of him. How cute? If only I could stop procrastinating. Also, those Wayfinders I talked about FOREVER ago [or maybe not that long ago...]? I have like, three more to make. One for myself, one for another friend, and I'm making one for my sister for fun.

...If I'd stop procrastinating.

2. Editing. Editing. Editing. - Chapter 23/25 AT LAST! Unfortunately 23 is easily the longest chapter out of the whole book and is going to be a b**** to edit. To put it simply, in my five drafts, this is how the word count has gone:

Draft 1 [handwritten] - Maybe 8000 words.
Draft 2 [typed for the first time] - 16,000 words - I'm serious! Can you BELIEVE THAT?!
Draft 3 ["edited"] - 14,000 words ["EDITED" right LOL.]
Draft 4 [rewrite] - 8,500 words
Draft 5 [HOPES?] - 6,000 words or less

24 is compromised of the final battle, 25 is wrapping everything up. After that I have to do the third draft of my second book and then start editing it. (:

3. Books - I'm hoping to complete all the books on my reading list before school. The list is as follows:

On Writing - Stephen King
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Torment - Lauren Kate
Sweep - Cate Tiernan

Once school starts I hope to begin the Lord of the Rings book series. (:

4. My computer is freezing, and I can't drive my car yet. AWESOME. Oh, and contests. - Those are the only downers lately. ): I think my computer was freezing because my friend made me download Skype though. It also seemed to happen only when I left the computer idle for a while. I ran scans but no dice, still froze ): And as for my car, it turns out my uncle [who we bought it from] didn't have the right licensing stuff for it. So he has to send it to this guy in Ohio, because he bought my car off of this guy in Ohio. Did I mention he has to SEND IT? Through...snail mail?! FFFFFFFF. Then he has to send it back, my uncle gets it, we sign it from him, and ONLY THEN IS THE CAR MINE.

...Sorry for all the caps.

Upside: My submission into the Dream Quest One contest was received and I finally got the confirmation letter yesterday. (: The person who sent the letter handwrote a note inside for me. Very cool! Contest results on September 16th.

5. Song of the Week - Under the Apple Tree - Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- by Takeharu Ishimoto

I got this video game later after my birthday and the minute I heard this song I fell in love. (: It's so calming and sort of sad at the same time. It's really mellow, and I don't have a lot of mellow :D

That's it for this week! Hopefully by next Friday I'll have my editing done! ...And then take another round at it. In the meanwhile, would anyone be willing to do a test-read through the entire draft? I'll put word count when it's complete, probably make a big blog post about it. Teehee! XD


Listening to: One Winged Angel - Final Fantasy VII
Watching: NCIS
Reading: On Writing - Stephen King
Quote: "Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." — John Gould/Stephen King

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak | Review

My format's back to normal! Thank God. ._.

Title: I Am the Messenger
Author: Markus Zusak
Published: May 9, 2006 (first published January 1, 2002)
Number of Pages: 357
Rating: 5/5

Meet Ed Kennedy—underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey.  His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. . . .

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

Winner of the 2003 Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia, I Am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists, and love. []


"No, I'm not a saint, Sophie. I'm just another stupid human." - Ed Kennedy
"I ask you: What would you do if you were me? Tell me. Please tell me!
But you're far from this. Your fingers turn the strangeness of these pages that somehow connect my life to yours. Your eyes are safe. The story is just another few hundred pages of your mind. For me, it's here. It's now. I have to go through with this, considering the cost at every turn. Nothing will be the same. I'll kill this man and also die myself, inside. I want to scream. I want to scream out, asking why. The scattered stars shower down like icicles tonight, but nothing soothes me. Nothing allows me to escape. The figure in front of me collapses, and I stand above him, waiting.
To reach a better answer than this." - Ed Kennedy 

"Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are." - Ed Kennedy


I want to say that it has been a privilege and an honor to revisit Zusak's wonderful world of words once again since reading The Book Thief. I remember underestimating that piece of magic last year, and being blown away. So I knew not to make the same mistake with another of his books!

I Am the Messenger is a completely unique book, completely different from any other book I've read in its own way. And I love Markus Zusak's work for that. Each character had a life far beyond the thoughts of Ed Kennedy, and it was ensured that you knew that. In 357 pages, you have learned about thirteen people.

Their troubles. Their problems. How they are resolved. How their lives improve. And how it's all thanks to the messenger. Or, in Ed's words, the message. In 357 pages, you have also learned about the entirety of Ed's life, how he aspires for more, and how much he loves the Doorman. Which is one of the cutest things to me in this entire book. :3

Even the smaller characters, such as Daryl and Keith, you learn so much about. Best friends, argue all the time, and only human. That is one of the greatest things in this book: despite Ed's duty to these people, you know he's only human. You learn something about every single person you meet through this entire work.

The story is raw and well-conceived to all. Once again I've been breathless from his beautiful use of metaphors. The sympathetic but raw writing, the story of all the receivers of the messages. I think my favorite message was the one to Marv. That message almost put me into tears, and it probably would have if I hadn't been trying to finish the book before 3 in the morning.

So much to say, so little words for it. I'll remember the messages to everyone for a long, long time to come. ...If I don't reread it as soon as I finish the other books on my reading list. There's not much need to put much else, I've put all that I feel I need to put. The book was amazing. The story, the characters, the messages, just...everything. Seriously. Markus Zusak, you have done it again.


Reading: On Writing - Stephen King
Listening to - Moving Mountains [no choir] - Two Steps from Hell
Watching: -
Quote: "You are the epitome of ordinariness." — I Am the Messenger