The Guardian – Joyce Sweeney

March 31, 2009

Thirteen-year-old Hunter has been shuffled around different foster homes for most of his life.  For the past few years, he has lived with his foster parents Stephanie and Mike and three siblings. Stephanie has always disliked Hunter, but she does not dare touch him with Mike around. Then, Mike dies, and Hunter must protect himself from Stephanie’s wrath. Luckily, there seems to be a mysterious force helping Hunter. The question is, do guardian angels truly exist?

I received this novel from Henry Holt’s In Group, and I was not sure what to expect. Overall, I was satisfied. The writing is straight forward, and the novel is told in first person which created a raw feeling throughout the novel. I liked Hunter as a character. While his choice not to call social services sometimes frustrated me, I understood it. Under Stephanie’s roof, Hunter had a family. If he called social services, not only would he put himself back into the system, but also his sisters. Also, he was delusional. All of a sudden his life was getting better. Who’s to say his life with Stephanie could not get better?

My least favorite part of the novel was right after the climax. I do not want to spoil anything, but Sweeney chose to skip details about one important detail in the book. It felt like the novel skipped a chapter. Another thing I disliked were all the foster families Hunter lived with. Hunter was shuffled around because his foster parents. It gives foster families a bad reputation. Mike was the only good foster parent, and I’m amazing at the control he had over Stephanie! It’s almost unbelievable, now that I look back at it.

From what I’ve written above, it seems like I disliked The Guardian more than I liked it, but that’s not true. I actually did enjoy it. The plot was exciting, and I liked the guardian angel stuff. I just wished Sweeney spent more time tweaking it.


Awards!

March 30, 2009

I recently won two awards from the blogosphere. 🙂

(Thanks Robbie!)

This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY -nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.

(Thanks again Robbie and Yan!)

The Rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award

I know I am supposed to pick more blogs to receive the awards, but there are so many deserving blogs that I do not know who to select! Please, forgive me. 😉


In My Mailbox March 23-28

March 29, 2009

In My Mailbox was created by The Story Siren. The summaries are from Barnes & Noble.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Series) – Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Land of the Blindfolded (Vol. 1) – Tsukuba Sakura

Get ready for Tsukuba Sakura’s symbolic tale LAND OF THE BLINDFOLDED, in which one character can only see the past, and another can only see the future! Originally presented in LaLa DX magazine from Hakusensha between 1998 to 2004, the 9-volume LAND OF THE BLINDFOLDED is the story of high school student Outsuka Kanade who can sometimes see a person’s future with a touch, and transfer student Naitou Arou, whose ESP is limited to past events. When Kanade glimpses an unfortunate incident coming, can she change it? She soon befriends Arou, who’s no novice — he can turn his ability on or off at will, even using it to see an object’s “memories.” Are these teenaged seers of the past and future made for each other? And who’s right: Arou with his “hands off” policy about meddling in people’s lives, or Kanade whose more proactive stance has already had unhappy consequences?

Highway to Hell (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil Series) – Rosemary Clement-Moore (ARC)

Maggie Quinn was expecting to find plenty of trouble with Lisa over Spring Break. Give a girl a bikini, a beachfront hotel, and an absent boyfriend, and it’s as good as a road map to the dark side. But Maggie doesn’t have to go looking for trouble. Trouble has started looking for her. One dead cow and a punctured gas tank later, she and Lisa are stuck in
Dulcina, Texas—a town so small that it has an owner. And lately life in this small town hasn’t been all that peaceful. An eerie predator is stalking the ranchland.

Everyone in town has a theory, but not even Maggie’s psychic mojo can provide any answers. And the longer the girls are stranded, the more obvious it becomes that something is seriously wrong. Only no one—not even Maggie’s closest ally—wants to admit that they could have been forced on a detour down the highway to hell.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins (Signed!)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth  – Carrie Ryan (Signed ARC)

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

I already have a hardcover of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and an ARC of The Hunger Games, which will mean a contest. I just don’t know when.


Soundtrack Saturday 5

March 28, 2009

Soundtrack Saturday was created by Adele of Persnickety Snark.

This week’s novel is Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger. At first I was going to use “Jai Ho” from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, but then I decided against it. I figured I would introduce you to another song. After all, most of you have probably heard of Jai Ho. Oh, and did you know that The Pussycat Dolls covered Jai Ho? Anyway, I decided on “Dola Re Dola” from the movie Devdas. I suggest you watch the HQ version. It is a lot more clear. Enjoy!


Shine, Coconut Moon – Neesha Meminger

March 25, 2009

The only thing Samar has ever known about her Indian heritage is that she is a Sikh, but that never made a difference to her. However, things change when a man wearing a turban is waiting outside her front door days after September 11. The man claims to be Samar’s uncle and wishes to reconcile with Samar’s mom, who cut off all ties with her family years ago, and get to know Sam. Now, Samar wants to learn as much as she can about her heritage.

Being Indian American myself made me especially excited when I received this book in the mail through Simon Pulse It (although I am not a Sikh like Sam). I have mixed feelings with Shine, Coconut Moon. First of all, the book is set in 2001, but Meminger made several references to things that did not exist back then. For example, I loved how she stated that Sam and her best friend Molly watched Project Runway on DVD when the show did not air until 2004. There were also references to MySpace and Facebook which were not created until 2003  and 2004 respectively. These are small details, but how hard is it to see when these things were created before including them in the novel? The references also made the 9/11 plotline seem forced at times. Throughout most of the novel, I felt that Meminger just added the 9/11 backdrop to give the story a bigger meaning. However, for the last 50 pages or so, the 9/11 backdrop actually worked! Unfortunately, it was too late for it too work completely.

Luckily, there were good things about the novel! I liked how the novel focused on a Sikh during 9/11. Not everyone realizes that Muslims were not the only ones tormented after 9/11. I also really enjoyed Meminger’s writing. She clearly expressed Samar’s thoughts. There were several quotes that I really liked. Here is one of them:

If we give them a chance, people could surprise us. Maybe if we didn’t make up our minds right way, based on a few familiar clues, we’d leave room for people to show us a bunch of little, important layers that we never would have expected to see.

Overall Shine, Coconut Moon was an average read, but Neesha Meminger has the potential to be an amazing author, and I look forward to her next novel.


Author Interview – Brent Hartinger

March 24, 2009
Photo Credit: Tim Cathersal

Brent Hartinger is the author of several novels including Grand & Humble, Geography Club, and the recently released Project Sweet Life. These questions mainly deal with Project Sweet Life which I reviewed here. Enjoy!

1. Where did you get the idea behind Project Sweet Life?

PROJECT SWEET LIFE is about three 15 year-olds who are forced to get summer jobs a year before they had expected to, or wanted to. They feel like, since they don’t have any of the privleges of being an adult, they shouldn’t have to take on the responsibilities. So they come up with a scheme to try to “fake” the jobs, then make the money they need to convince their fathers they’re working, so they can take the rest of the summer off.

Obviously things don’t go quite as planned.

How did I come up with the idea? It’s something I felt very strongly about when I was a teenager. I’d worked hard all year in school. The summer of my 15th year was special: my last summer of freedom when I wasn’t expected to have a job.

But some of my friends were so eager to get summer jobs, so they could have money to buy things. But in exchange, it seemed to me like they were giving up something so precious: their freedom, and that last special summer before true adulthood. As Dave and his friends say in the book, once you start working, you have to KEEP working, until you’re really old, or unless you die. My close buddies and I thought those others friends of ours were insane — we were going to go kicking and screaming into a world where people care more about having a new pair of shoes than they do freedom. But we never went as far as Dave and his friends!


2. What was your first summer job?

Like Dave, I was a lifeguard. Except unlike Dave, I had to be a lifeguard for real. I started when I was 16, but there had been pressure for me to start earlier. I resisted!

3. How did you spend your summers as a kid/teen?

I did exactly all the things that Dave and his friends do, or wanted to do: we rode around on our bikes, we hung out watching movies and playing games, we went exploring downtown, we set off fireworks (which you can’t really do any more, because it’s illegal where I live), we went swimming in the river, and went for hikes in the woods.

Basically, we had a really, really great time! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, especially not money. I believe there’s a time to work, and when you work, work hard. But there’s a time for play too, and you should play just as hard as you work.

4. What do you love about Tacoma?

Mostly, I love Tacoma because that’s where I grew up. When I was a kid, it was a pretty dirty, bigoted place. But it’s gotten a lot better over the years. And I do love that it’s a city that was once really rich and successful, but then fell on hard times. That means it’s a city with a history, and with lots of secrets — some of which I explore in the book

5. Do you any advice for anyone looking to get rich quick?

You know, I think the only way to get rich quick is blind luck. It happens to some people, sure — but only because they’re lucky (or because they’re unethical). The only way to guarantee getting rich is to do what Dave and his friends do: be clever, work hard, and never ever give up. That’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be successful, if not rich.

6. Are you in the process of writing any other novels? If so, is there anything you can share with us about it?

I’m writing a novel writing now called ROB HOOD, sort of a retelling of the ROBIN HOOD story, except in this case, Rob, my main character, doesn’t steal money — he steals “popularity” from the stuck-up popular kids in his high school, and gives it to the less popular, but deserving kids. Like PROJECT SWEET LIFE, it’s a comedy of errors. It’ll be out next year.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Ah, well, here we go again: be prepared to work really, really hard! The good thing is, it’s hard work at something you hopefully love and that’s pretty fun to do. That’s another secret in life: if you work hard at something you love to do, it doesn’t really feel like work!

8. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just that I hope people have as much fun reading my book as I had writing it!

Oh, and if anyone has any questions, check out my website: http://www.brenthartinger.com

And thanks!

Thank you for answering my questions, and if you have not read any of Brent Hartinger’s books, I strongly suggest you do. I’ve read and enjoyed both Grand & Humble and Project Sweet Life. 🙂


Manga Sale

March 23, 2009

I am not sure how many of you read manga, but if you do, you should check out Book Closeouts. They are having a HUGE manga sale. Each volume is only 99 cents! Hurry though because the sale ends March 26.