Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Whirlwinds Return!

The Maelstroms are back at their old home!

And to celebrate a year of reviewing, they're having a really amazing contest, where, should you win, you get A LOT OF STUFF.
A lot of awesome stuff, including:

TWO books, which you pick from lists of each reviewer's favorites.
A mix of music compiled by the Maelstrom.
A random bookmark from Ireland
and a UK copy of Artemis Fowl.

So go! Contest! Rules here. (I mean, there------>)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lost It- Kristin Tracy

I could respond to what my dear cohort said in her last post, but since I am so delightfully selective about the reality I choose to accept, I'm doing a review instead.


At the start of her junior year, Tess Whistle is a fairly sheltered girl. Her parents are strict (she's not allowed to get a driver's license, even though she lives in Idaho, where permits are handed out at fourteen), she's got a portrait of (a mysteriously blond) Jesus hanging in her living room, and she's absolutely set on saving herself for Serious Engagement. Also, she's terrified of nature (or, more to the point, terrified of the unknown). Of course, this is all before her kitchen is set on fire, her mother becomes 'born again', and both of her parents take off for an Outward Bound-type camp in the desert. This is before her best friend becomes detirmined to blow up a neighborhood poodle. This is before Ben Easter. Sheltered is soon to be the last word that could describe Tess with any accuracy.

I think that anyone who has read any substantial amount of YA fiction has read plenty of books that, upon first inspection, seem very similar to this one. The "innocent girl loses her virginity to her first boyfriend and gets her heartbroken" storyline is a familiar one, to be sure. And I was kind of hesitant to read this for that reason. However, I was really pleasantly surprised. This book actually broke down a lot of cliches, and handled a common concept in a new, intriguing way. The relationship between Ben and Tess was done beautifully. One of my favorite things about it was the way Tess wasn't totally enchanted by Ben- she actually recognized when he said something cheesy, which almost never happens in books. It's such a nice thing to see, because it's realistic. He had faults; he seemed like an actual guy, not a perfect and beautiful and witty and never-lame-ever-at-all type that I read about most of the time, and I loved him all the more for it. Also, I was overjoyed that this book strayed away from making Ben the skeezy skirt chaser who bolts after getting to the girl's pants. That made me very happy.

This book would have been pretty good if it had stuck to the Ben and Tess storyline, but the subplots were what really made it great for me. I loved Tess's crazy grandmother (who gives Tess boy-wisdom she learned from her pet monkey) and adored Zena, Tess's best friend, who is blunt and crazy and weird and awesome. I love a book with a good best friend. The writing was really nice in this as well. I can't wait to read whatever Kristin Tracy puts out there next!

4.5 cups for this one.


PS: comments make me so so so so so so happy and i need all the happy i can get right now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

so tired of being the one

to tell you that I'm sorry. For not being active. The issue is, I'm, personally, not sure if I have the time to keep up with this blog anymore. I barely keep up with my personal blog, and that isn't as difficult. I'm thinking about reviewing a few more books this month (one for Discordia is actually in the process of being written) and then taking December off. I've been planning to take December off for a while, since I'll be gone for half of it, and I'm going to try to realize during Christmas break, maybe re-read some books that I really love and read a few more that aren't reviewing material. Some things I just want to get out of the way. After that--and I haven't even talked to Caroline about this-- I think I'll decide if I want to continue anymore. Probably not, since we are performing Emma for Drama Club next semester and that's going to be an insane amount of rehearsals, and long ones at that. So I'll be just as busy next semester (well, more probably) and that will make it harder. I'm sad that if I decide not to that I won't have even lasted a year.

And there are so many things about being in the YA reviewing world that I love. I love talking to authors and all of our readers. I love receiving books in the mail, which doesn't happen otherwise. I love the opportunities I receive by reviewing. And I love books and talking about them. But I don't love the work that I have to put into keeping this blog up-to-date, or pausing and writing a review between books, or ignoring school work so I can do this stuff. But if there's a reviewing team out there that I can join part-time coming January, I'll be perfectly happy with that. So if there's anyone out there that wouldn't mind me coming to their team in January, let me know, please.

Heather, your long lost reviewer