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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

Sixteen-year-old Violet is doing her best to juggle the academic, social, and extracurricular stresses of junior year at an elite prep school, in this fresh, funny debut novel.

 So this was a book I kind of avoided reading. I had heard good things about Leila Sales, and her second book Past Perfect has been lauded. But I guess I was nervous, mostly because the book seemed to fall under the category of "chick lit" and because I had seen similar stories like this before. 

The book isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but it's a fun, sweet read with a strong voice. 

The plot is nothing groundbreaking: a story about two girls, Katie and Violet, who are in Westfield Academy together and have always been BFF's. Katie starts to rebel, dating a burnout and trying to get drunk and take Ritalin, while the shier, more quiet Violet becomes terrified of her. I've seen this plot before, and the themes the book expresses aren't anything new either. The book is written in kind of a weird, meandering vignette style, and the first few chapters are mostly stories about teachers and girls' sexual activities. A lot of people might be let off by this strange style, since the chapters are more vignettes than chapters, and might give up on the book early on. The real plot doesn't begin for quite a few chapters, and when it does Katie's misadventures go full steam ahead. You become used to the style after a while but it is jarring at first. The plot in an essence is also a bit predictable; I wasn't surprised at what happened with Scott or Katie's choices. It is a cute, quick read, though, and the plot was interesting enough to hold my attention. 

The characters were pretty good, not a group of people that would particularly stick in my mind. There seemed to be a lot of people at the school introduced -- the people on the Wisdom literary magazine; the yearbook committee; Scott's friends, etc etc. It was a lot to keep track of. Violet had a very, very strong voice. She sounded like a real teenage girl, an impressive feat. She was very humorous and cracked jokes, swore, and had realistic responses to situations. The book is really quite funny, and that alone made me up a few stars -- I laughed out loud a few times. Katie was a good character, if I didn't completely understand her motivations. I did relate to her and understand her feelings for the school and the community. I didn't relate to her feelings to so desperately need a boyfriend, however. Scott I felt disinterested from, and I felt like I only was supposed to care for him because it was constantly pushed: OMG, OMG, Scott is so hot, OMG OMG. I did like the way the author ended his story and it made sense. The rest of the characters on the lit mag were good, though some of them seemed stereotypical "mean girls". As I stated before, it was also hard to keep track of them. 

Now, the writing. Sales has a very conversational style, and the book constantly reverts from the past to the present as Violet recalls vignettes and memories she shared with Violet, her classmates, and Scott. Her writing was very fluid if choppy at times, and the style of the vignettes didn't really start to take effect (and make me interested enough) until the middle of the book. Her writing was very good for a debut novel and it seems like she has lots of room to improve. 

Mostly Good Girls wasn't a lifechanger, and it didn't break any boundaries, but it was a cute, interesting read with a hilarious voice and a good read for anyone interested in friendship stories and contemporary/chick lit novels. I had more difficulty rating this one, as my issues with the plot were major, but because I did enjoy the novel and Violet's voice I've decided to mark it as 3.5 stars. 

Three point five stars (3.5).

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. 
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. 
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

 I've been a fan of Maggie Stiefvater for a while; I enjoyed her Shiver trilogy and her first two novels, Ballad and Lament . With The Scorpio Races I expected more of Maggie's wonderful writing and stories. 

I wasn't disapointed, and I certainly wasn't surprised when the book was announced as a 2012 Printz Honor. 

The story revolves around a legend, this one of the capall uisce or killer horses (and try spelling that). Every November groups of riders gather among the beaches riding the capall uisce and trying to survive riding the horses long enough to make it to the finish line and win a purse of money. The story revolves around two characters, Sean and Kate, nicknamed Puck, who take turns narrating the novel. Sean is an accomplished rider who has won the race four times on his horse, Corr. Still, as November approaches, he feels unsure. Puck has never entered, but when her brother threatens to leave the island, she decides to join the race -- becoming the first girl to enter -- and ride her old horse, Dove. 

I'll start first with the plot. The water horses idea is really unique, and I'd never heard of the mythology before. Maggie handles the idea well, creating a unique mythology that's fresh and interesting, and creepy at the same time. The plot moves very slowly, however, and readers who aren't as interested in reading slower-moving books may become disinterested. I was a little bored in the beginning but the pace quickens. I did think that the actual race was shorter than it could have been; with so much buildup it could have been expanded on. 

The characters are strong and well developed, their motivations clear and their personalities shining through. I did have an issue with the characters at the beginning of the novel -- they all were well developed but so many characters were being introduced I was becoming confused. The characters also often recall to one another by both last names and first names, a tendency that becomes annoying when you can't remember said character's last or first name. A lot of characters get introduced in the beginning, and while they all have purposes in the story as well as strong characteristics, I found it challenging at first. The many characters, however, do show the livings of the community and unnamed island. Puck and Sean were well developed with pasts, personalities, and both strengths and weaknesses, as well as their passion for their horses that showed. 

The writing was one would expect from Maggie, and something that has been lauded in many reviews: very beautiful and elegant. I wasn't surprised by this, and her writing is a pleasure to read, with its elegance and cadence. I honestly have nothing else to mention on the writing other than that it was beautiful and very nice to read. 

I did enjoy the book, if it wasn't as great as I thought it would be, but it was still a great read and deserving of the Printz Award. If you enjoyed Shiver , any of Maggie's other books, or books on horses this is a fantastic read. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where people post about the books they received this week.

Now, this week again all of my books are digital ARCs and there are a LOT. I requested a lot of these a few weeks ago and they were finally approved.

From Abrams Books:

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Welcome Caller, this is Chloe

From Bloomsbury


From HarperCollins



Invisible Sun

Houghton Mifflin:

Wonder Show


New Girl


Lexapros and Cons


Aliens on a Rampage

The Way We Fall

That's all for me! What did YOU get in your mailbox? Leave a link in the comments and I'll try to check it out. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

RSS Feed

You can now view Past the Ink in an RSS feed. There is a link to the feed at the bottom and you can view the feed here to subscribe:'

Hopefully this will help with your experience using the blog!

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind

Confession: I didn't finish this book. I read over half of it then decided, no, it wasn't for me.   
                        Sonia's entire village believes she has a gift, but it's only in leaving home that she finds out who she truly is. A compelling tale from a rich new voice in young adult fiction.
Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl's protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strongwilled, warmhearted girl who dares to face life's harsh truths as she finds her real power.


This wasn't what I expected. The writing was beautiful, the characters were beautiful, but it was really just okay. I expected magical realism and it ended up being something else, some strange mixture of romance and magic.

I've never DNF'd a book before. I read half of this book and realized it wasn't for me.

It might be for some, but this book....wasn't for me.

(I'm sorry this review is so short, but I honestly don't have anything else to say. :( )

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Open Letter

Dear world,

I'm not always pleased with the YA books coming out. They're too silly or romance-y for my tastes, I find there to be holes in the plot, I can't relate to the characters. There are thousands of complaints I could make -- and I've made some of them in my book reviews.

But behind every book is a person.

An editor, a copeyeditor, a person, a writer. Someone who truly loves the book they wrote and hopes the world likes it too.

And if they didn't exist, we wouldn't have awesome books. 

So let's be thankful for the editors, publishers, and authors, because even if we don't like the book, if they didn't exist there would be no YA book world. No YA online communities and reviewers and blogs and more.

And a world without YA is one that I would feel sadder living in.

So let's thank them for awesome books.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.
Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

This review is long over due. I read this book at the end of December and never got around to reviewing with the bustle of the holidays. Of course, it's only when I need to write a review that I remember that I still need to review Dark Inside. (I try to post a review about twice a week and so far my blog has been desolate and empty this week.) 

I have talked to the author of this book before and I was interested to read it, and I found it to be an interesting read if one that didn't answer many questions. 

The opening scenes are one that you might find in a classic science fiction movie: the Apocalypse is here. Gigantic tornadoes sweep the nation, people get killed in the brink of an eye, the hospitals are overcrowded and people swarm the streets simply looking for food and shelter and trying to avoid the deadly creatures. A group of teens work together to help each other and try to survive. 

Now, in the sense, that's something I might find at the movie theater. And there are other books (and movies) on Apocalypses. Sometimes these books that seem ripped from movies seem better fit to remain on the screen, and others (like Divergent ) are a nice popcorn read. I wasn't sure which way Dark Inside would fall. In the end, it seemed to be a nice popcorn read with a good deal of substance. 

The plot was interesting, and of course, adventurous. The scenes of horror were described nicely and as well as terrifying me. (Jeyn definitely knows how to write horror.) I did feel like I didn't know much about the Baggers, and so many questions were left unanswered. I know that this is the first book in the series, but at the end I was left fairly bewildered. 

The characters-- there are a LOT. Jeyn chose four teens to write third person viewpoints from (Aries, Clementine, Mason, Michael) but the teens meet plenty of other people along the way, some that they join with, others that they betray, some that betray them. It was hard to keep track of all the characters at times, and they would switch back and forth between "rescue groups" so often I got confused. But all the narration was very realistic and sounded how real teenagers speak, and I related to all of the characters and their predicaments. 

As for the writing, Jeyn is a very gifted writer. She wrote third person extremely well and made each character defined. Her writing was very fluid, and scary. As mentioned before she definitely can write horror. This book isn't really the paranormal/sci-fi hybrid one might make it out to be as much as a scary, horror-filled novel. She's a good writer to watch and I'll read the sequel. 

If you like horror, sci fi, or you just want to be scared, this is a good book and a strong start to the series.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Sayin' It Loud

Welcome to our 114th Road Trip Wednesday!
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.
This Week's Topic:  
Write a dialogue between two of your favorite YA characters

For this week's RTW I decided to write a dialogue between the two Sophies -- a Sophia and a Sophie. Yes, you heard that right. Two of my all-time favorite characters are both named Sophie. (Sophia's relatives call her Sophie sometimes).

Sophie is from Red Glass by Laura Resau:
and Sophia is from A Brief History of Montmaray and The FitzOsbornes In Exile by Michelle Cooper

(Please note Sophia is actually from  a historical fiction novel.)

Sophia: So tell me about yourself. It's nice to meet other Sophies and Sophias besides Sophia of Hanover.
Sophie: ...Uh, who?
Sophia: Some princess my cousin Veronica is related to.
Sophie: She must be nice.
Sophia: She is a princess.
Sophie: Man, nice. I just live in New Mexico with my mom, aunt, and my mom's boyfriend. Not too many princesses in New Mexico.
Sophia: I live with my Aunt Charlotte, my brother Toby, my sister Henry, and my cousin Veronica and my.....cousin Simon, and our dog Carlos...and Phoebe the maid and the servants.
Sophie: Lotta people. It's just me, my mom, and my aunt Dika but we used to foster a Spanish boy.
Sophia: Like in the war in Gurnica? Where the Germans fired?
Sophie: Yeah, from history class.
Sophia: Ahh. We helped a group of Basque refugees from the war for a while, but they ended up moving to the US with their relatives.
Sophie: Sweet. 
Sophia: I'm sorry, but I have to get ready for the ball. Phoebe needs to help me, darling thing.
Sophie: I understand. Pablo just called.

This was an awesome RTW! Go to to submit yours. Leave links to yours in the comments and I'll try and check your RTW out. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

I'd planned to post a review today but as I am in the middle of reading a book I'm posting in another meme. This one is Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's question was actually a freebie, so I'm doing my 
Top Ten Contemporary Novels. 

I'm sure this topic has been touched on before but I love contemp and want to discuss it again.

10. Anna and the French Kiss/Lola and the Boy Next Door 
I'm grouping these together because they are in a series but I loved their cute and charming dashes of humor, excitement, and of course romantic interests.

9. Eighth Grade Superzero
This book is really unknown, but essentially it's about a boy who decides to become a superhero through community service. The description is lame but the book really is fascinating, with hints of spiritualism and questions on romance, faith, family, and the community woven through the narrative. 

 8.  Please Ignore Vera Dietz
A Printz Honor book! This book is so strange and unusual, but it explains grief and death so well, with narratives from dead people and talking pagodas (pluses). 

7. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour 
Road trip stories certainly can become overused, but this book stays fresh with a great romance and awesome extra features like reciepts and bills woven into the narrative. This is a detour I love taking (sorry, bad pun). 

6. Stargirl/Love Stargirl
This is an older book known as a contemp classic, and one of my favorite older contemporaries. The book celebrates nonconformity and the people who fight against nonconformity. It doesn't seem too popular in the blogosphere but I still love it. 

5. The Fault in Our Stars

This has been lauded everywhere. I'm going to say one thing only: yes, it did make me cry. 

4 Like Mandarin
Another unappreciated gem about small towns, the people that live there, and a maniac pixie dream girl taken to the extreme. It's a brilliantly written book and one of my favorite contemp favorites though it is basically under-appreciated and tanked in the market. 

3. Jellicoe Road
Yes, yes, everyone loves this book and everyone says its awesome, blah blah blah we get it. It really is fantastic though. If you enjoy contemp, read this book for its fantastic characters, plot, and amazing writing. People don't blab it all over the planet for nothing. 

2.  If I Stay/Where She Went
This is a fantastic duology about a broken couple, in the essence, and it is so sweet and charming and sad and beautiful and aghhhh. I really don't know what to write. Both these books made me cry. (Yes, I'm a crier. Deal with it.) 

And finally, number one is a book that.......................not many people know. And it remains my favorite contemporary of all time.

1. Red Glass
This book came out in 2007. It's been critically acclaimed but very few people know it. The book is fantastic, a travel book weaving together the sights and sounds of Mexico as you journey with a heroine that really changes and her adorable love interest, a cute refugee boy, and their chaperones. If you love travel books this is a must read. If you love contemp this is a must read. The writing is goregous and the characters amazing. I could go on about this book forever. But here's the thing: just read it. 

What's in your Top Ten? Leave a link in the comments and I'll try to check it out. :D

Monday, January 23, 2012

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. 
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. 
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

I'm not a huge fantasy person. I love some fantasy books -- HP, Lord of the Rings, etc -- but I have a tendency to revert more towards contemporary fiction. But if I'm interested in a fantasy I will definitely read it. I foundSeraphina on Netgalley and snatched it up. 

In the kingdom of Goredd, humans and dragons are at odds with one another. Peace exists in the kingdom but hostilities remain. Dragons are able to live in the kingdom and work. Seraphina has reasons to distrust them all. She joins the court, since she is an unusually gifted musician, as a member of the royal family is killed -- in a fashion that suspects dragons. She partners up with Prince Lucian Kiggs, the captain of the Queen's Guard. They fight to find the answer as Seraphina struggles with the truth behind her unusual gift. 

First I would like to commend Rachel Hartman. Fantasy is a hard genre to write, and she successfully pulled off a fascinating story. Also, amazing concept: dragons and humans? YES. She is definitely an author to look forward in the future. 

One of the things I found most interesting about the novel was its swift changing of cliches. Seraphina has a magical gift of music. This concept is used in plenty of fantasy novels: characters have all kinds of musical gifts and powers. Seraphina's gifts easily could have become predictable. Lucian Kiggs is the captain of the Queen's Guard. I've seen that in high fantasy as well -- an instance that comes to mind quickly is Trevanion from Finnikin of the Rock . But she deftly changed the cliches into fascinating characters, and people you genuinely care about. I cared about Seraphina and her plight, about the dragons and the humans and Kiggs and the amazing secondary characters. 

The plot is the one thing where I quibbled and removed a star. The book takes a while to get into if you don't read or enjoy a lot of high fantasy. It takes a bit of time to get used to the story, to understand the characters and the situation of both the dragons and people of Goredd. But after a while you get engrossed into the world of the characters and want to spend time there. The amount of time it takes for you to get into the story differs from reader to reader, of course, and for one reader they may get into the story almost instantly while others take much longer. I personally removed a star because of the fact it took me about six or seven chapters to get engrossed into the story. 

Tangent aside, the plot is riveting and fascinating. Come on, dragons=amazing. I certainly haven't seen many dragon/people books in YA recently. I wanted to know more on every single page. I know this statement is vague but I didn't want to spoil anything in such a twisty, exciting plot. 

Another crucial aspect of fantasy is world building. I, as a reader, have to understand and know the world. I need details. What do the buildings look like? How do people act? What are their religions, hobbies, etc? A friend of mine wrote this fantastic post on world building: World building is something people mention and comment often on fantasy reviews, and one of the most common complaints I've found in my perusal of Goodreads and other reading-related sites is that the world building was too thin or not enough in a certain novel or story. Hartman did not skimp on the world building in her story. She told us Goredd's history, its religion, its people, their stories, their world in a book. Authors sometimes wait to develop world building or write too much world building in info dumps. Hartman did neither: she told us the story of her world and its past, present, and future while also leaving questions behind for the planned sequel (release date: sometime in 2013). 

I really enjoyed Seraphina and most of my qualms were more about the fact that I don't often read fantasy. If you enjoy and read fantasy you will definitly enjoy this book. Hartman is a strong author to be watching in the future and when 2013 rolls around I will pick up a copy of the sequel. If you're interested in reading the book now you can request a copy on Netgalley. A great fantasy read. 

Four stars. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. You post whatever books you have recieved in your mailbox -- from publishers, online, bought, or from the library.

From NetGalley
(thank you Candelwick Press and Random House!)

Froi of the Exiles -- E-ARC from Candelwick Press

I love Marchetta and can't wait to read this one.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind -- E-ARC from Candelwick Press

This one sounds very interesting and clever.

Lies Beneath -- E-ARC from Delacorte Press (a division of Random House Books for Young Readers)

Murderous mermaids=unique concept.

Master of Misrule -- E-ARC from Random House

Loved the first book in the duology. 

Starters -- E-ARC from Random House

This one has been buzzed everywhere, can't wait to read it.

From Library

The Scorpio Races 

This book came out a while ago but I just got a copy from the library.It's been buzzed like crazy and I loved Maggie's other works.

What did you get in your mailbox?

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I decided to mess around with my blog today and have since added gadgets. You can now view a button I created on  the left hand side. Below the button is a HTML code that can be posted in blogs, websites, and accounts like Facebook and Twitter.

Simply highlight the code and paste it wherever you would like to show that you read and view this blog.

I also added a word count meter. This shows the cover of my project, Building Houses, which one can view on the novels page, and its current word count. As I post this post, this is what the word count meter looks like:

You can see the cover of the book and the word count that it is currently at: 55,000 words, or 69% done. 80,000 words is how many words the book is expected to be complete at. I will regularly update this meter, so check the sidebar.

If you want to know how to add these gadgets just ask, and hopefully this will help complement your blogging experience on Past the Ink.

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

LOVE, STARGIRL picks up a year after Stargirl ends and reveals the new life of the beloved character who moved away so suddenly at the end ofStargirl. The novel takes the form of "the world's longest letter," in diary form, going from date to date through a little more than a year's time. In her writing, Stargirl mixes memories of her bittersweet time in Mica, Arizona, with involvements with new people in her life.
In Love, Stargirl, we hear the voice of Stargirl herself as she reflects on time, life, Leo, and - of course - love.

In my review of Stargirl , I mentioned that I had read this in an English class previously and then bought a physical copy of the book as well. When I bought my copy of Stargirl , I decided to get a copy of Love, Stargirl as well. 

The book is a companion novel to the events that happen after Stargirl , and the novel should be read after you finish reading the first book, as the companion novel does give away some major events from the first. About a year after leaving, Stargirl has moved to Pennsylvania. She has returned to homeschooling and soon makes friends with an abundance of quirky neighbors: sweet and mysterious Perry; tomboy Alvina; "human bean" Dootsie; and Betty Lou, the agoraphobic who hasn't left her home in nine years. Stargirl decides to put on a winter solstice celebration, welcoming the rising sun and the birth of summer, and wishes that Leo would answer the question she asks to the rising sun. 

This book is a lot different than the first. There isn't much plot, really. The novel focuses more on the characters, whereas the first novel was very plot-based. It was hard for me to write the description above because I honestly couldn't find much for me to describe without spoiling. 

So, the characters first. I grew to like Stargirl a lot more in this book. I liked her character in the first book, of course, but at times it was hard for me to relate to her. I grew to like her more as I discovered her feelings and thoughts and wishes and dreams -- from her own perspective. In the beginning of the book Stargirl is a bit mopey about losing Leo, etc etc. This put me off initially because I really hate girls that throw themselves at boys, and this "longing" seemed way out of Stargirl's character. But she matured past the longing, and it was a pleasure to read the book. 

All of Stargirl's friends were "quirky" and "unique". This annoyed me a bit because it essentially said that Stargirl could only have quirky and unique friends, when she had plenty of other "non-quirky" friends in the first book. Perry Delloplane was a good love interest though I liked Leo better for a match with Stargirl. Spinelli never really explains what happens with Perry and Stargirl's relationship, and that annoyed me because he plans to write no more sequels. I suppose he wanted to leave the readers hanging but there seemed to be no conclusion or even answers to how Perry felt. Dootsie and Alvina were both cute and funny and very well developed. Betty Lou was a really fascinating character, and I liked seeing how she developed and changed. She seemed like a character that could possibly hold up an entire novel. All of the characters were very well developed and sweet even if they were sometimes too "quirky" for their own good. 

Now, for the plot. This book is written in journal format and I think that made it more accessible. Stargirl is written in an almost detached tone, but this novel was much easier to read and I felt more engrossed in the story. It was easier to connect to the story. Like I mentioned before, the story is much more character based, but I liked the way the author drove the plot to the climax of the winter solstice ceremony. 

Love, Stargirl was a good read. It was interesting to see what happened to Stargirl and to see that she had matured and come to understand herself better. If you enjoyed Stargirl this would be an interesting read, but if you disliked the first novel this isn't a necessary read. 

Four stars.

Friday, January 20, 2012


This is a picture of me when I was little. This picture kind of goes along with Isabella's Roses, so I have chosen to post it here. It is of me when I was about two looking at roses in my grandma's garden.

edited version on Photoshop (this was just something I did for fun. This makes the picture look kind of like a painting.).

and here is a picture of my sister also in a rose garden when she was about the same age:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Isabella's Rose

Isabella's Rose is a short story that I am working on. It is the story of a girl and her cousin at a rose garden, and the thorns of life and the petals of life. I hope to submit this somewhere as soon as I can get the story edited and polished. The story is completed and in the editing process.

Isabella's Rose

“Lookit it’s the roses!” Isabella jumped up and down. I smiled as we walked along the winding pathway.

“There they are,” I said. I gestured a hand towards the other side of the path, which was filled with containers of carnations. “And there are the carnations.” Isabella turned to look at the red and yellow carnations. She stared at the rose for a moment then protruded her lips into a deep frown.

“Those are boring,” she announced. Her long blonde hair blew in the wind.

“Okay, okay.” I hid a giggle and kept walking. She certainly was a miracle four year old – already deciding her favorite flowers! Isabella ran a few feet ahead. I could still see her in the distance. Obviously I was supposed to follow her, but I lagged behind for a moment and watched her run.

My aunt, uncle, and their three daughters – Isabella and her two older sisters – had come to visit for the weekend. My parents were thrilled, but I wasn’t. Isabella was almost eight years younger than I was, and her two older sisters were seniors in high school and seemed disinterested in talking to a thirteen-year-old.
The rose gardens, at least, were interesting with just Isabella. Now I couldn’t see her in the distance. I retied my tennis shoe in a hurry and then ran up to chase her. Isabella had simply circled around. She’d passed the carnations and the roses, turned around, and walked back to the roses.

“You like the roses, don’t you?” I asked.

She looked up. Her face was buried in the roses as she sniffed the fragrance. “Yeah.” Isabella smiled. “They smell good.”

“But they’re prickly, too,” I said. I extended a finger and slowly pointed towards the thorns. The rose’s stem was covered in small, short thorns. If my finger grew any closer to the stem, my finger would prick against the thorn and create a wound.

“Like people,” Isabelle said. She ran her hands along the rose, gently feeling the curves and bends in each petal. “Sometimes people are nice and sometimes they’re mean.”

I stared at her in shock. “Yes, they are.” She was so smart it was beginning to scare me. She was right.
We all had our petals and our thorns. I had played “roses and thorns” at camp last summer, and while that game had been based on our experiences, it was the same idea. We all had flaws and good things about ourselves, just like roses. Roses were sweet and beautiful and gave off a wonderful fragrance, but at the same time the thorns along their stems were pointy and dangerous.

Isabella beamed. “Yay, I’m right!”

I laughed. “You are.” She smiled and sniffed the rose.

“It smells good,” Isabella announced.

“It does.” I leaned over and exhaled into the petals. The sweet, almost syrupy fragrance drifted through her nose.

“And it has your name!” Isabella grinned.

I felt my smile diminish. “Rose.” I’d heard every flower joke under the sun from my classmates. But Isabella seemed happy about the coincidence, unlike the angry taunts of my classmates and their constant cries for me to “grow a stem”.

“We should pick a rose, Rose,” Isabella said. “That way you could have a rose and it would be funny.”

“It would be funny.” I pictured hanging the rose in a vase in my bedroom. The poor flower would hang on, slowly dying in the vase of dirty water. It would be a sad ending for something so pretty. I shook off the thought and returned my attention to Isabella. “I’m sorry, but we can’t.”

Her expression returned to its exaggerated pout.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s the rose gardens,” I said, gesturing to the flowers all around us, “and if we take the rose than other people won’t get to see how pretty the roses are.”

“Aww, darn it,” Isabella said.

“I know.” I leaned over and gave her a small hug. “Should we have lunch?” Isabella nodded soundlessly. I grabbed the picnic basket that my mother had prepared. She had put the lunch in a wicker basket and lain a blanket across the basket so the food would be preserved. I pulled the blanket off and opened the basket to reveal the meal: sandwiches, chips, and cookies.

Isabella grabbed the cookies first but I swatted the bag away from her. We sat and ate our sandwiches, silent in contemplation. I wondered what Isabella was thinking about. My eyes darted over to her. She sat still and silent with her legs crossed in a lotus position. Her eyes were squeezed shut. My cousin seemed serene, eating her sandwich and thinking.

I shook my head in both pride and disbelief. People were roses and thorns. Isabella was definitely a rose.
I finished my sandwich and set the uneaten crusts aside. Isabella finished hers and set the remains beside my crusts. “Let’s go,” I said simply. Isabella nodded. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my camera.
This would be a good place to snap shots. Isabella jumped up, giggling. I grinned, feeling her infectious energy.

We walked along the path, smiling at each other. Every few minutes we would stop and stare at the flowers. The flowers were a colorful rainbow, it seemed: purple and blue and red and orange and yellow and green and every color nature had ever created.

Isabella paused in front of some lily of the valleys and said, “What’s your favorite flower?” I stopped to think. I wasn’t a botanist, after all.

“Carnations. What’s your favorite?”

“I already answered!” Isabella giggled. “Roses.”

I smiled. This had turned out to be the perfect day. I certainly would remember this day in the future. But would Isabella? She was four years old. She’d grow up and gain new experiences. This day might fall out of her mind, pushed back for newer memories.

I grabbed my camera and turned it to the video function. My hand shook slightly as the video turned on. A small box appeared in the corner of the camera screen, showing the seconds the video had been recording.
“Isabella,” I said.

“Yes?” She turned around.

“Can you say what your favorite flower is again?” I positioned the camera towards her. Isabella’s face seemed larger on screen; I could see every one of her freckles.

“Why do I have to say it again?” Isabella said. “I already said it twice.”

“Just say it again,” I said.

“Okay.” Isabella beamed and said proudly, “My favorite flower is a rose. Like my cousin Rose.”

“Perfect,” I said, switching the video camera off with one click. There. Now we had posterity. When I got home I would ask my mother to record the disk onto some kind of flash drive or blank CD. That way we could watch the video over and over again. My gaze drifted down to my watch.

Three thirty. My aunt expected us home in ten minutes.

“Isabella, we need to go,” I told her.

“Okay, okay.” She sighed dramatically. “But I wanna stay!”

“I’m sorry, but we really have to go. Your mommy needs you to come back to our house.”

Isabella seemed to accept this explanation and nodded. I grabbed the picnic basket and we started to walk towards home.

Another question popped into my mind. Would Isabella remember me? I was so much older than her. By the time she was old enough, I’d probably be in high school or even college. A sad frown crossed my face. I wanted to spend more time with her. She was cute and adorable and funny.

“Rose,” Isabella said.

“Yes?” I asked
“My favorite flower is a rose.”


“But…” Isabella stretched the word out. “My favorite person is you.”


“Yeah. I like both roses.”

And then I knew she would remember both roses: the rose garden and me, her cousin Rose.