Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Actual Until Midnight Reading! (A shocker)

As you may have noticed, the title says "The Until Midnight Reader." I think I may have surpassed that goal because last night I stayed up reading Pillars of the Earth until one thirty (yes, in the morning or night or whatever you call it). I really shouldn't be this excited about it but it has inspired me to start writing more reviews. So, check back in 2010 for more reviews! Even the clock is excited!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Author: Chris Crutcher

Copyright: 2007
Pages: 320

Rating: 9 out of 10
How the book got from the shelf into my (sorta) loving arms:

It was my turn to pick two books at Barnes and Noble. I already knew I wanted the new Sarah Dessen book, but all the other books didn't seem appealing because I had either already read it or it was some vampire book. (Are vampires the only thing people care about these days? Seriously, there are other things to read/write about.) I read the back of the book and the plot seemed fresh and inviting, so that's why I ended up buying it.

It's the summer before Ben Wolf's senior year when he receives the devastating news that he has a terminal illness. The doctor tells him has only one year left to live. If this were any other book, any other character the story would end here. Not in Ben's case. Legally, Ben has no obligation to alert anyone of his condition due to the fact that he's 18 and no longer a minor. Instead of grieving over his inevitable death, Ben decides to make the most of his last year on earth. From the very start, Ben proves to be a likable, witty character in the face of death. He decides to try out for the football team and woo the girl of his dreams, Dallas Suzuki (which is not a Car Dealership, to be clear).
This book, and Ben for that matter, could have been a tearjerker. What makes Deadline special and unique is the fact that it wasn't. Ben takes an optimistic look on the life that has never been perfect. He changes multiple people's lives, and if we let him, he changes ours. For me, this book had a slow start, but it was well worth continuing. Of course, this book may make you cry, but I guarantee you'll most likely be laughing by the next page.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Perfect Chemistry

Author: Simone Elkeles

Copyright: 2009

Pages: 357

Rating: 6 out of 10

Why I Picked This Up: Well, I had to buy books for a LONG plane ride and frankly, I was getting desperate. The back of the book made it seem interesting/exciting so this was one of the four books I bought. (More on those later)

Alejandro (better known as Alex) Fuentes is your classic "bad boy". He lives on the bad side of town and while he's not in school his life is devoted to his gang- the Latino Bloods. Brittany Ellis seems to be his polar opposite. All over the school she is known as the girl who has everything. The perfect boyfriend, the wealthiest parents, the best clothes. However, all is not as it looks on the surface. Alex witnessed his father's murder and Brittany is caretaker for her sister, who has cerebral palsy. These teens magically get paired up as lab partners in chemistry class, despite their resentment. They start out hating each other with passions. She thinks he's a dirty creep and he believes her to be a snobby rich kid. However, neither can deny the attraction they feel for each other. And voila... they fall in love! Unfortunately, others cannot accept their differences, and both have to overcome many obstacles together. Brittany's mom is disgusted with Alex. Whereas in Alex's world, Brittany is the outsider. Can their passionate love withstand all this?

When I started reading the book, I was looking for a fresh, fun love story. What I got was a piece of recycled, immature crap. There is no originality to this book. Obviously, Mrs. Elkeles has completed her reading in school, because in many points of the book, I felt myself getting angry at how she stole the plot from The Outsiders or Romeo and Juliet. The book was a double narrative, and both Alex and Brittany's voices seemed immature for their age. It wasn't a believable love story, it was pieced together from old stories in a way that wasn't satisfying nor appealing. I will give the author props for creating good love scenes, although the characters were superficial, you did root for them to feel happy. Overall, however, the book was a little short of mediocre. There are good romance novels out there, but this is not one of them.

From the back of the book:

"Miss Ellis?" Mrs. Peterson says. "It's your turn. Introduce Alex to the class."

"This is Alejandro Fuentes. When he wasn't hanging out on street corners and harassing innocent people this summer, he toured this inside of jails around our city, if you know what I mean. His secret desire is to go to college and become a chemistry teacher, like you, Mrs Peterson."

Brittany flashes me a triumphant smile, thinking she's won this round. Guess again, gringa.

"This is Brittany Ellis," I say, all eyes now focused on me. "This summer she went to the mall, bought new clothes so she could expand her wardrobe, and spent her daddy's money on plastic surgery to enhance her, ahem, assets. Her secret desire is to date a Mexicano before she graduates."

Game on...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Copyright: 2005

Pages: 160

Rating: 10 out of 10

Why I Picked This Up: There were rave reviews for this book in my Literature class, so when I saw this just sitting there on the library shelf, I did what I had to.

You probably don't know Millard Filmore's last words. Miles does. In fact, memorizing last words is not only a hobby for him, but a way of life. (In case you're wondering about those last words they were: "the nourishment is palatable".) Miles is pretty much invisible at his public high school. He lives a boring, friendless life and decides to follow his father's footsteps and go to Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama. Miles claims that the reason for this is that he goes "to seek a Great Perhaps", which were another set of last words, not surprisingly. There, he meets his roommate Chip, better known as the Colonel. The Colonel immediately accepts Miles into his social circle and introduces him to Takumi. Together, the three share hatred for the rich kids and and Miles even gets a knew nickname, Pudge (for irony). The Colonel and Takumi happened to be friends with Alaska. Drop-dead-gorgeous, smart, sassy, independent, fascinating, reckless, spontaneous Alaska. It didn't matter that she was everything Pudge wasn't, because he had completely fallen head-over-heels for her. Blindly, Alaska makes it her mission to get Pudge a girlfriend. He ends up finding a girlfriend, but he isn't over Alaska. Nevertheless, the five of them have great times together smoking, drinking and most importantly, pranking. But what happens when Alaska's drive to get out of the labryinth goes too far and ruins everything?
I have tried writing this paragraph many times. But every single time I try to think of words worthy enough to describe how amazing I thought this book was, my mind goes blank. Mere words can't describe the tangled mix of stirred feelings inside of me when I was forced to finish the book. Other reviewers (who have found the perfect words) have called Looking for Alaska "a masterpiece, powerful, brilliant and unforgettable." And I have to say, I won't ever forget this book. Looking for Alaska was unlike any book I have read, and it stands apart from many other books in the YA Fiction category. Looking for Alaska deserved The Printz Award one hundred percent and is a book that every single young adult should read. So, I am not just recommending that you read Looking for Alaska (if you haven't already), I am urging you to stop whatever you are doing this second and go read this book right now! Yes, it is that good. So go, and do yourself a favor by reading Looking for Alaska.

(*WARNING* some content in Looking for Alaska may be inappropriate for younger readers.)

Quote from the book:
"So this guy," I said, standing in the doorway of the living room. "Francois Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were 'I go to seek a Great Perhaps.' That's why I'm going. So I don't have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps."

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Copyright: 2008

Number of Pages: 374

Rating:9 out of 10

Why I Picked This Up: Well, my literature teacher sang high praises for this one so I guess I just had to try it!

Imagine a world where every year, there is a televised event called the Hunger Games, where two kids from each district across the country fight to death. Imagine having to enter in the lottery that decides the contestants a dangerous amount of extra times just to get food for your family. Imagine being forced to participate when you are the poorest and most untrained kid in the entire games. This is the life of sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen. And it's not an easy one. After her sister, Primrose, was chosen to participate in the Games, Katniss boldly volunteers to take her place. Suddenly, Katniss is whisked away from her poor lifestyle to having personal coaches and stylists. At first Katniss is the underdog. But struggling to survive isn't a new way of life for Katniss and all of a sudden she becomes competition. The Games begin and Katniss has transformed from a predicted loser to a major threat. To see if Katniss survives or not, you have to read the book, but trust me it is definitely worth it.

The Hunger Games has something for everyone. There is the fast-paced action that comes with the intense competition. There are tales of cunning tricks, raw fear and friendship in the most unlikely places. Moral dilemmas come into play. Political analogies are made. And what book would be complete without a juicy love triangle? The Hunger Games truly has it all.Suzanne Collins has taken a most interesting concept and turned it in to a revolutionary story that I believe will prosper for years to come. At first, the plot is seemingly outrageous, but as the book continues the story and characters become more and more real. I must warn you, the ending is a real cliffhanger that will leave every fan of the story wanting more. Luckily for us, this book is a trilogy, and I have no doubt in my mind that the other two will be just as worthwhile and epic as the first.

Katniss's description of the District she lives in:

Our part of District 12, nicknamed the Seam, is usually crawling with coal miners heading out to the morning shift at this hour. Men and women with hunched shoulders, swollen knuckles, many who have long since stopped trying to scrub the coal dust out of their broken nails, the lines of their sunken faces. But today the black cinder streets are empty. Shutters on the squat grey houses are closed. The reaping isn't until two. May as well sleep in. If you can.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

When it Happens

Author: Susane Colasanti

Copyright: 2006

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: 8 out of 10

Why I Picked This Up: Point number one, awesome cover. Point number two, I'm a sucker for romances. Call me cheesy or corny but it doesn't matter. I'll willingly prentend a fictional dream guy is real any day.

When it came to Sara, it was love at first sight for Tobey. It didn’t matter that they were polar opposites (he’s a rocker and she’s a braniac), or that he had never talked to her before. Tobey walked into his senior year of high school with only one thing on his mind: to make sure Sara fell in love with him. However, there was just one catch; Sara was dating Dave, a popular jock. Nevertheless, the chemistry between Tobey and Sara was undeniable and their love might just be “the real thing”. In any case, this love story makes perfect harmony. One quirk that makes this book extra-special is the alternating narration. Not only do we get inside Tobey’s head, but we know what Sara is thinking, too. When It Happens is the perfect combination of blissful young romance and witty dialogue, and will definitely make the readers fall in love - with this book!

Quote from the book:
The prospect of starting senior year next week without a boyfriend is the worst. Not some math geek or physics dork I end up liking just because he's there. I mean a boyfriend who's everything I want. The whole package.
"Sara," Maggie says. "Do you realize what this means?"
I decide to ignore her. Maggie has this idealistic image of romance that I don't think exists in real life. I mean I've been trying to believe it does all summer. But Dave never called.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Year of Secret Assignments

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Copyright: 2005

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 9 out of 10

Why I Picked This Up: Well, after reading The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (Hopefully I will do a review on that later!) , I really wanted to read another book by Jaclyn Moriatry. Luckily they had this book in my library, so I snatched this up as quick as possible!

It was a class assignment that seemed harmless enough. Write a few letters to pen pals at another school and get it over with for an easy A. If only it were that simple than there would not be a story. Lucky for us as readers, these "harmless" assignments led to much more. Pranking. Romance. Secrets. Evil. Revenge. All of these words can describe what goes on in The Year of Secret Assignments. The book revolves around three main characters, Lydia, Cass, and Emily. Although the girls are complete opposites, they have been best friends since they were young. Lydia is sarcastic and the darker one out of the three and when she grows up she wants to be a writer. Cass is shy and timid and has a secret talent of singing. Emily is young lawyer-to-be and is feisty and independent. At first, Lydia and Emily despise their pen pals, but as the book goes on, they end up meeting and dating their pen pals! Cass's pen pal is another story. His name is Matthew Dunlop and treats Cass like dirt. Cass tried to keep her interactions with him quiet, but her good friends can tell when something is wrong. What started as simple letter exchange ends up being an all-out-war between two high schools complete with pranks and good old fashioned revenge. Read this book and you won't be able to put it down!

The Year of Secret Assignments is a fun, intriguing read. It has a little bit of everything in it and will appeal to many readers. Personally, one of my favorite things about the book was the way it was styled. The entire book was written through letters, diaries, and transcripts, no regular dialogue involved. Since the story kept switching to different characters there was no way to get bored. Each character had a distinct voice that was well-displayed. Kudos to Ms Moriarty, The Year of Secret Assignments is a must-read!