Monday, January 24, 2011

Mini Review Monday (1)

For those of you who don't know, my goal, when starting this blog, was to review 365 books in 365 days. But then I realized that was harder than it sounded, and I was this close to quitting. So I had to think of a way to make up all of those reviews I've missed and keep up with my review-a-day plan without going insane. And voila, Mini Review Monday was born. This'll be a weekly feature where I can do 3 smaller reviews of older reads of mine. The reviews will probably be more or less a couple of paragraphs long and be put up all in one post. This way I can review all of the old books I never reviewed and also allow me to have a break and not have to get a review up each day. I'm not sure how permanent this feature will be, but for now it seems like a quick fix for my over-ambitious goals. (And remember, I'm always open to feedback on whether or not you like this new additions/changes.)
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Published March 28, 2006
(544 pages, paperback)
Summary: Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, Pattyn Von Stratten starts asking questions -- about God, a woman's role, sex, love. She experiences the first stirrings of passion, but when her father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt in the wilds of Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance -- until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go.
My thoughts: Burned is gritty, raw, and shows the heart of an abused, damaged girl. Despite the sad, heavy material, Hopkins captures beautifully the sadness and joy of first passion and first love. Pattyn has been raised knowing that her place as a woman is to be abused and used. Due to her father's screwed-up morals and his habit of beating her mother, and occasionally her and her sisters, Pattyn is afraid of boys and doesn't really believe in love. But once she meets a boy that stirs something deep inside her, her father explodes and sends her far away, to her aunt's home. From there, she learns that love does exist and the beautiful prose that Hopkins writes her feelings in makes the story feel realistic and emotional.
While the tone is heavy and the meaning deep, Hopkins renders the reader senseless with the overwhelming emotions Pattyn feels for Ethan, the boy of her dreams and fantasies. The book was serious and definitely dark in a powerful, impacting way. Burned is one of my favorite Hopkins novels because of the raw emotion that Hopkins writes with and the honest, realistic account of true love and tragedy. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to just about anyone looking for a serious, heart-wrenching read.
Rating: 5 stars
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
Published May 25, 2010
Series: Faeriewalker #1
(294 pages, paperback)
Summary: It’s all she’s ever wanted to be, but it couldn’t be further from her grasp… 
Dana Hathaway doesn't know it yet, but she's in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, again, Dana decides she's had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl--she's a Feariewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.
Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Few politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she'll never have a chance with... until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn't sure where she'll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again...
My thoughts: I'm a huge fan of faerie books, and Glimmerglass is a promising, enchanting start to what looks to be an intriguing series. While it wasn't the strongest novel I've read and the characters were at times a little flat, the story line a little predictable, it was interesting and original. Dana sometimes seemed a little too naive and a little too trusting; I can forgive her for her flaws though, since I would be freaking out and more than a little dependent on others if I found out I was being hunted by the queen of Faerie and had magical powers. I didn't like Ethan from the start--he seemed like a bit of a user, but I'm not sure exactly where he and Dana stand anyways. The premise is definitely promising and I loved how the world Black created was described. Definitely looking forward to reading the second in the series, if just for more of the magical world Black writes.
Rating: 3 stars
The Pretty One by Cheryl Klam
Published April 8, 2008
(368 pages, paperback)
Summary: All Megan Fletcher had wanted was to be like her sister Lucy: a beautiful, thin girl whom everyone at the Chesapeake School for Performing Arts worshipped and adored. While Lucy was a star actress with lots of fans, Megan had always been hiding behind the set designs that she and her best friend Simon had created, hoping that no one would notice her.
And then one day, life as Megan knew it had changed forever. Megan was in an accident that disfigured her face and plastic surgeons had to restructure it very carefully. Only no one would have thought that when the bandages came off, Megan would be even more beautiful than Lucy . . .
My thoughts: I couldn't help but feel that The Pretty One was overly superficial and gave off a feeling of 'it's alright if the only reason he noticed you was for your looks' that made me uncomfortable. Megan is sweet and in love with a boy who only notices her slender sister. While I liked that Megan wasn't beautiful from the beginning, I though the whole transformation was unneeded and made me a little mad. The message came off as 'it's better to look good' and I was offended for Megan at the difference in everyone's response to her when she was skinny. The characters fell flat and were majorly static, and while it was an original concept, I couldn't help but feel like it could've been handled in a more delicate, meaningful way.
The novel had its bright spots: Megan does learn to love herself (albeit, her new, 'improved' self) and I did like that she got her happy ending. However, the characters that were superficial and just plain mean didn't get any sort of punishment or repurcussions for their cruel behavior. I know that life is sometimes unfair and mean people sometimes get away with their nastiness, but Klam's writing made the novel feel like it was saying, 'it's okay if people are superficial; it's just their nature.' Overall, not a great novel, and definitely not one I would recommend unless you were looking for a quick, easy, superficial read.
Rating: 1.5 stars


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