Monday, December 31, 2012

Conning Harvard: Adam Wheeler, the Con Artist Who Faked His Way into the Ivy League by Julie Zauzmer and Xi Yu (

Frank W. Abagnale, author of Catch Me If You Can gave, Conning Harvard, high accolades, which meant I had to read it!

Adam Wheeler used modern technology, lies and cheating to garner a much coveted place at Harvard University. This book details exactly how, Wheeler forged documents, plagiarized and faked his way through college and scholarship deals.


The authors have fully investigated, Wheelers deceptions and put the ordeal in an easy to read format. This book is well crafted and well written. A must read.

Grade: A

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Speechless (Harlequin Teen) by Hannah Harrington


Chelsea is best friends with the "It" girl, which in turns makes her popular. She is a known gossip and when she spills the juicy details on something she witnessed, the results are devastating.

Chelsea takes a vow of silence and the reactions from her classmates, parents and teachers is mixed. She is quickly pushed out of the popular group and is harassed daily. She finds solace among a group of "outcasts".

She using texts, paper and a white board to communicate with others. Chelsea uses this time to reflect on what she has done and how she has harmed others in the past. Her character grows and develops. She becomes a better version of herself and learns many lessons along the way.

This is an excellent and entertaining read. You will easily breeze through this mesmerizing novel.

Grade: A

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dwarf: A Memoir by Tiffanie DiDonato and Rennie Dybal

I stand at 4'11 and I have always wondered what it would be like to be a bit taller. To be able to reach that top shelf at the grocery store --- to be able to reach things without the help of a step ladder and so forth.

When, I found out the Dwarf was being printed, I had to read it. I was intrigued. I can't possibly imagine the pain and bravery that Tiffanie had to endure in order to gain inches on her limbs so that she could lead a "normal" life.

Tiffanie was born with diastorphic dysplasia and stopped growing at 3'8. Simple things we take for granted like reaching our ears and being able to wash our hands in the sink without help, were impossible for Tiffanie.

With the help and encouragement of her mother, Tiffanie underwent a variety of surgeries to extend the length of her limbs. She was able to reach the height of 4'10. She grew an unprecedented 13 inches.

This is her story, her struggles and her life. She is one determined individual, who is an inspiration for many.

This book is well written and flows. You will devour it within hours and you just might learn something.

Grade: A

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Panem Companion: An Unofficial Guide to Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, From Mellark Bakery to Mockingjays by V. Arrow


The Panem Companion is fascinating! It is unlike any other companion book out there. It deals with a variety of issues, from the geographical layout of the Panem to the meaning of character's names.

This book gives such a deep analysis of, The Hunger Games trilogy that I've been inspired to re-read it. Arrow is brilliant and gives you such a radically different view of the trilogy that re-reading it is going to be like rediscovering a long forgotten favorite book.

This book explores issue such as race, sexuality, and culture within the districts. It is quite brilliant, go get your own copy today!

Grade: A+

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility will be released in paperback, June 4, 2013.  You can get it now in ebook format.



This book is exquisite. It is the very best YA book, I have read this year. I was hooked from page one.
The character's are superb. The storyline is fascinating and the writing is phenomenal. I haven't read anything quite like this before. Prepare yourself for an emotionally intense read.

Nastya Kashnikov is the new girl in town. She stands out, not because she's beautiful (she is) but because her self imposed muteness and the way she dresses. Dark, sultry and heavy handed in the makeup area.

Josh Bennett keeps to himself, his young life has been tragic. He has lost everyone he has ever loved to death and as a result has put up a hard shell.

Drew is, Josh's best friend. One could say his purpose is comic relief, however he is so much more than that --- he is an important, central character.

The story is told by both, Josh and Nastya. Nastya hasn't spoken a word since the day she remembered the horrific details of her life altering assault. Josh is a loner and has essentially isolated himself. Drew is the quintessential popular, good looking, party boy, who just happens to be Josh's best friend. These three character's immerse themselves in one another lives and essentially help one another in unexpected ways.

This story will haunt you. It is dark, emotional and beautiful. It is character driven and focus on major themes such as power, love and loss.

Grade: A+

Sunday, December 16, 2012

All Good Children by Catherine Austen

I wasn't overly impressed with, All Good Children. It is set in a dystopian future, where a teenager named Max lives inside of a gated city. The city is secluded --- you must have a place to live or you are not allowed to be a resident.

The city begins to administer a vaccination in school age children, that results in drastic personality changes. The children become eerily well behaved, calm and complacent. Max is set to receive his vaccination but thanks to quick thinking by his mother it only appears as though he has received it.

Max has to pretend to be like the other students -- show no emotion and be agreeable. This proves to be difficult and his actions arise suspicions by officials.

The book takes quite some time to get into --- it is rather slow and a few times, I almost gave up. I had a difficult time believing that a drug could get the majority to children to all act the same! It is also hard to fathom that parents would easily accept a new "robot" like child, essentially losing the characteristics that make us all unique.

The premise is good but I just couldn't fully immerse myself into it.

Grade: C






Friday, December 14, 2012

Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt


Revealing Eden is the first book in the Save the Pears trilogy. I know, I know --- another trilogy but trust me this book is pretty good and I expect a lot from this series. The concept is very interesting and the characters are well developed.

Like many books that are out there, this one takes place in a post apocalyptic society. In this society, being white or a "pearl" is an undesirable trait. Dark skinned people or "coals" are the ruling class.  Light skin makes one vulnerable to sunlight and radiation, so the darker you are the safer you are.

Pearls, including, Eden periodically get a coating so that they will appear dark skinned. Pearls father is a scientist and he conducts many experiments. The most radical one uses the characteristics of various animals in order to cause adaptations to the human race.

Like many experiments this one goes wrong ... and you are just going to have to read this fascinating book to find out what happens.

Grade: A

Monday, December 10, 2012

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan


I have been struggling for days on how exactly to go about reviewing this book. Not because it was bad, but because it was great.

Cahalan is a superb writer! I was fully engrossed --- This book was absolutely impossible for me to put down. Cahalan does an excellent job at painstakingly reconstructing every detail of her illness. Her descriptions of the paranoia, psychosis and delusions are vivid.

It is frightening to see how quickly one can be diagnosed with a mental illness, when the underlying problem is the result of something else. Brain on Fire --- is Cahalan's story about her month of madness.  She has very little recollection of what occurred during that month and uses her medical records and personal accounts from friends and family to tell her story.

Her profession as a reporter shines through. She is able to explain her disease with ease and never once leaves you wondering what the hell she is talking about. This is perhaps on of the most informative personal accounts I have read. I highly recommend this read.

Grade: A+


Overview

One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a “flight risk,” and her medical records—chronicling a monthlong hospital stay of which she had no memory at all—showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind?
In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. A team of doctors would spend a month—and more than a million dollars—trying desperately to pin down a medical explanation for what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, as the days passed and her family, boyfriend, and friends helplessly stood watch by her bed, she began to move inexorably through psychosis into catatonia and, ultimately, toward death. Yet even as this period nearly tore her family apart, it offered an extraordinary testament to their faith in Susannah and their refusal to let her go.
Then, at the last minute, celebrated neurologist Souhel Najjar joined her team and, with the help of a lucky, ingenious test, saved her life. He recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of “demonic possessions” throughout history.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban


The Tragedy Paper will be released on January 8, 2013


The Tragedy Paper is brilliant. It is well written and full of strong characters.  The story is told by two, characters and Laban, does an excellent job at transitioning the telling of the story.

Duncan starts his senior year at the prestigious, Irving High School and by tradition the previous occupant of his room leaves behind a "treasure."  He leaves behind a pile of cds for, Duncan to listen to. Tim's story about his senior year and what occurred is detailed fully in the cds. Despite his initially reservations, Duncan finds himself completely immersed in, Tim's story.

Tim is a 17 year old albino, who transferred to IHS during the second semester of his senior year. He befriends the "IT" girl, Vanessa but they have to keep their budding romance a secret. Vanessa has a boyfriend and if anyone knew about her and Tim, it would be social suicide.

This along with a few other consequential incidents, lead to an catastrophe at IHS that results in major life changing events for some characters.

I absolutely loves this book. It is among one of the best books, I've read this year! I was completely blown away and you will be too.


Synopsis:

Tim Macbeth is a 17-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” Tim does not expect to find a friend; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. Despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “it” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, and she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa enter into a clandestine relationship, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

The story unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the tragic, love-struck figure, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history

Grade: A+




Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hidden (House of Night) by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Hidden is the newest novel in the House of Night Series and as much, as I hate to say this ... it is time, way beyond time for this series to end.

The book starts off slowly and builds up, then just sort falls apart. I wasn't all that impressed with this book, there were some excellent ideas but they weren't executed well. It is almost as though the authors passion for this series has run dry.

They could have expanded on so many of their ideas and just sorta threw them out there and expected us to accept them, For example..why is, Erin suddenly turning her back agains the rest of the group and why do the red fledglings accept her into their group?

The rest of the story lines are pretty much the same stuff we have been reading about, nothing changes much... Neferet is evil, Kalona loves Nix, someone is in danger and blah blah blah.

I also have to admit that even though I didn't like this book --- I will be reading the next two because I do like the characters and want to see the final outcome.

Grade: D


Synopsis: [B&N]


Neferet’s true nature has been revealed to the Vampyre High Council, so Zoey and the gang might finally get some help in defending themselves and their beloved school against a gathering evil that grows stronger every day. And they’ll need it, because Neferet’s not going down without a fight. Chaos reigns at the House of Night.





The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The more time he spent around her, the more he realized how rarely he thought anybody else was actually good. Nice, maybe, but niceness was ...