Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Bitter End

When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole -- a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her -- she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats.

As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose -- between her "true love" and herself.

Pages: 368 pages(Hardcover)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition
Released: May 10, 2011


Cole is the new boy in town and is Alex is assigned to tutor him. Alex is instantly taken by him and it seems Cole likes her two. As the days go by, both of them steal looks at each other while they work. When they start dating, everything is perfect. Cole is a true gentleman and Alex loves being with him. Ah young love, how sweet it is.

The only weird thing is that he hates how close Alex and Zack, one of her best friends, is. And he hates that Zack touches her all the time, so he wants that relationship to stop. Alex understands, I mean, what guy would want another guy touching his girlfriend? She's in a relationship now, so things should be different.

But Alex wants her friends and Cole to get along, so when she gathers the crew up to go to a party she only assumes the best will happen. Too bad things start to go downhill from there.

Alex believes that if a guy ever touched her she'd leave right away, but when the emotional and physical abuse starts to happen Alex finds herself drawing nearer to Cole despite herself.


The Bitter End is a tale of abuse, you pretty much get that idea from reading the synopsis, so when Alex first meets Cole you already know what's going to happen. It's a big hard to watch her get sucked in, when it's clear that he's a bad guy. I don't want to say she's stupid for what happened and letting herself get taken away, because she's not. Unless you're in that situation you never know what you'll do. Alex is a great character, but she's a great character that got sucked into a really bad and unhealthy relationship.

I did like reading about Cole's family though. His family life is pretty crummy and even though it's never really said, I did suspect that Cole's mother is being abused by his father.

One of the things that confused me, while reading the novel, was how long the abuse was going. At first, I thought this was going to be simply emotional abuse since it seemed to be going that way, but then he starts hitting her.

The book isn't as depressing as Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, but it does touch on some important points that teens should read about.

4 stars

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: wk3

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Bitter End
I felt even more blood rush to my face, and all of a sudden the room got very serious. I planted both palms on Zack's back and pushed.

~ page 85 of Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

I just started and I know what's to come, but was afraid of jumping in the middle for fear of spoiling myself. I enjoyed Hate List, so I have high hopes for Bitter End. Be sure to be on the look out since I'll be interviewing Jennifer Brown soon.

What's your teaser this week?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Orochi: Blood by Kazuo Umezu

Orochi: Blood

Two sisters. One perfect. The other... not. What begins as a dark tale of sibling rivalry turns into something all together different when a young girl named Orochi - who possesses a strange supernatural power - enters the picture. What is the secret of the Monzen family? It is only years later, when Orochi, in an unusual form, revisits the sisters in their adulthood that the secret is revealed, and along with it, the true nature of these blood sisters. Capturing both the wonder and terror of childhood with haunting and beautiful art, Orochi: Blood is a Gothic masterpiece from one of the all-time great manga storytellers, Kazuo Umezu.

Pages: 224 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; 1st edition
Released: September 5, 2002

Before this review starts, I have to mention that this is the only book that has been translated in the Orochi series. Sadly, this is also the last book in the series. Also, this manga is read from Left to Right, instead of the traditional manga format of Right to Left. This isn't that big of a deal, but I was thrown off a bit when I went to the back of the book and noticed that I was at the end instead of the beginning.

Anywho, here is the review. Orochi is an immortal being that is fascinated by the lives of Lisa and Kazusa Monzen. Kazusa, the older of the two sisters, is the clear favourite in the family and after years of Lisa being compared to her beautiful, intelligent, all round amazing sister, she becomes a recluse. Despite the difference in upbringing, the two are close and Lisa would do anything for her sister.

Even though Orochi is the main character in this series, it's clear that the story is about Lisa and her struggles as being the black sheep of the family. The story follows Lisa being cast aside as a child, to her awkward years as a teen, to her marriage life, to when she's an old woman. It isn't pretty and you quickly sympathize with her and want her to succeed in life, but of course things don't always work out in the end.

The artwork is great and I did enjoy the story, but I do have some issues that prevented me giving this a glowing review. Lisa is fleshed out and the reader gets a good sense of who she is and why she does what she does. Not much is known about Kazusa, but it works because the story is about Lisa.

However, the main character of this series and this volume is Orochi and we don't know very much about her. I'm guessing that this is due to the fact that this is the last volume in the series.



This isn't my first time reading Orochi, but I was disappointed in this collection. One of the things that I like about this series is that Orochi intends to do good and help people, but she's too naive in her thinking. She doesn't understand that people are complex and what she expects to happen sometimes back fires and leads to horrible consequences.

Another thing I like about her is her curious nature. She's interested in people's lives and becomes emotional invested in them, even though she may not watch everything that has happened she does wonder about them and eventually goes to check up on the humans she's been watching.

But because this is the last volume and the only one out in the Orochi series spanning 5 or 6 volumes, then you don’t really get a good sense of her character or her motivations. She’s just there, which really doesn’t do justice to her character.

I don’t know if putting out the final volume out first was the smartest thing to do, but this was a good story in its own right. I just wish the other volumes were released to so we can get a full sense of Orochi’s world.

3.5 stars

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

The Lying Game

I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

Pages: 320 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: December 7, 2010

I remember reading the Pretty Little Liars series and gobbling up each book, well not each book since I haven't finished the series yet, but from the books I had I gobbled them up. Each book had me hooked and I was hoping that the Lying Game would do the same.

Sutton is dead. She has no memory of what has happened and why she's now following her long lost twin sister, Emma, around. When Emma finds out about her sister, she decides to leave her foster family and meet her sister. Emma's life has been hard as she's been tossed from one foster family to another and never really fitting in with any of them. So when she finds that Sutton has lived a charmed life, she does feel a pang of jealously. When she finds out that Sutton has been murdered and the murderer wants Emma to act as Sutton and play along, Emma decides to find out what really happened before the killer goes after her next.

The writing does take some time in getting use to; it's mostly rewritten in third person as Shepard tells us about Emma and her struggles in portraying Sutton. But Sutton's thoughts and commentary are written in first person. So there are times when one paragraph is written in third person and the next is written in first, before going back into third person once again. It takes some getting used to, but it does ultimately work in the end.

I liked how Shepard didn't make this a supernatural novel. Yes Sutton's spirit is following Emma around, but Emma never notices. She does get Sutton's flashbacks, but that doesn't happen very much. Emma is pretty much left to her own devices as she tries to fit in and find out what happened.



There are similarities between The Lying Game and Pretty Little Liars, both deals with privileged teens who have someone watching their every move and making their lives miserable. Both are television shows (The Lying Game was recently picked up by ABC Family) and both are fun reads.

But I think that's where it ends. I do find that Pretty Little Liars had better characters. I think this is because it had more characters to focus on, so you knew the characters better. With The Lying Game you know about Emma and Sutton and a little bit about the others. I felt like some of Sutton's friends all meshed together, so I didn't know who was who.

I think that would be my only complaint about the novel though. Shepard's writing is still just as exciting and crisp and the mystery and suspense still keeps you at the edge of your seat. The mystery isn't revealed yet though; this is series after all, so I can't wait to read Never Have I Ever to find out more about Sutton's murder.

4 stars

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Pages: 432 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: October 5, 2010

Once upon a time, I did a project on bullying and the legal side behind it for my law class. Obviously, bullying is a horrible thing, but we never really hear about it until it's too late. Since that project, I've been fascinated by fictional books about bullying and seeing what the author does with that kind of story.

Jennifer Brown took a story about bullying, school shooting, and made it into something different. The story isn't about Nick, the one who was bullied and decided to shoot a bunch of people at school before turning the gun on himself. It's about Valerie, the shooters girlfriend who had no idea that this was going to happen and where everything went wrong.

Even though the shooting plays a huge role in the novel, I liked how it was also about Valerie trying to find herself too. She was the one who came up with the Hate List, the list that Nick and her spent time on writing about everything and everyone they hated. It was also the list that Nick used to target people. She struggles with the feeling of guilt over her part in the shooting and it doesn't help when your family and friends believe that it's partly her fault as well.



The story moves back and forth between what happened on that day and how Valerie moves on afterwards. It was nice watching her grow as a person and getting more in-tuned with herself. When it comes to her friends, Valerie is apprehensive about getting too close. She wants to be left alone, which is perfectly understandable. And even though her new friends are pushing her too move on, I kind of wish we saw some of her old friends doing the same thing. It does make sense that they wouldn't be as close anymore, but the selfish side of me wishes that there was some more scenes between them.

I was also interested in Nick and Valerie's relationship. I do believe that there was a strong love there, but you could also feel like Nick was pulling her down to his level of sadness. I liked how Valerie made a passing comment about how her friend moulds herself to fit in with others, because I felt like Valerie did the same thing when it came to Nick.

I enjoyed my time reading this. It made me tired, because I decided that the best time to read this would be before bed. This was a bad idea, since I slept really late, but it was worth it because this was a great little gem. Definitely check this one out!

4.5 stars

Teaser Tuesdays: wk2

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Lying Game
"Whatever Sutton was involved in, whatever the Lying Game was, it was scary and dangerous and way too intense. Just sitting here in the school hall made her feel like a target in a rifle range."

~ page 162 of The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Sara Shepard hasn't disappointed me yet, so I'm really excited about reading this.


So here's the first paragraph for The Lying Game
"I woke up in a dingy claw-foot bathtub in an unfamiliar pink-tiled bathroom. A stack of Maxims sat next to the toilet, green toothpaste globbed in the sink, and white drips streaked the mirror. The window showed a dark sky and a full moon. What day of the week was it? Where was I? A frat house at the U of A? Someone's apartment? I could barely remember that my name was Sutton Mercer, or that I lived in the foothills of Tucson, Arizona. I had no idea where my purse was, and I didn't have a clue where I'd parked my car. Actually, what kind of car did I drive? Had someone slipped me something?



I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Review: In Search of a Distant Voice by Taichi Yamada

In Search of a Distant Voice

Kazama Tsuneo is an immigration officer in Tokyo, struggling to live a 'normal' life after an event that happened eight years previously, on the other side of the world, in Portland, Oregon. When he is seized one day by a strange emotional fit, his life threatens to spiral out of control. With his arranged marriage looming, his problems worsen following the emergence of a strange voice - a woman who is trying to contact him, but without ever quite revealing herself. Imbued with a beautiful, melancholy sense of longing, the story becomes a quest narrative in which Tsuneo desperately chases this woman, and the mystery behind what happened eight years earlier.

Pages: 183 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Released: 2007

When I went to the library and came across this book, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It sounds like an interesting supernatural story, but I wanted Strangers to be the first book I read by Taichi Yamada.

Oh well.

I ended up getting the book in the end, but I do have some mixed feelings about it. The story is about Kasama Tsuneo and how he deals with his life as a immigrations officer. He struggles with feeling sorry for those he has to arrest, but goes through the motions because ultimately that is what you have to do.

When he starts hearing a voice in his head, it opens up feelings of what happened during his time in the States. Something that he feels responsible for and hasn't truly gotten over it.

The voice and Tsuneo begin conversing with each other and an awkward relationship starts to build. By the end of the novel, you do feel like something could happen between them, but alas the mystery woman who keeps talking to Tsuneo is never revealed.

Somehow, I expected this, but I still wish we found out.



This is a short book, only 188 pages so it won't take you long to read. It is very surreal and watching Tsuneo deal with this mysterious voice was entertaining to watch. He has a lot more patience that I do. I don't think I would have lasted that long with a voice that doesn't wish to be scene, or known, but wants to know all about you.

I also liked how Tsuneo and the reader wasn't sure if he was going crazy, or if the voice in his head was real. As we continue to read, we find out she's indeed real and does help him move on (in a sense) with his life and get over what happened in the States.

At the same time, Tsuneo helps the mystery woman not feel so lonely anymore. The more I think about this book, the more I feel like it was an interesting novel. I did feel annoyed by everyone at the end, but writing this review did help me make sense about what happened.

3.5 stars

Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

Bored with retirement, Mr. Ali sets up a desk, puts up a sign, and waits for customers for his new matchmaking business. Some clients are a mystery. Some are a challenge. Mr. Ali's assistant, Aruna, finds it a learning experience. But without a dowry, Aruna has no expectation of a match for herself. Then again, as people go about planning their lives, sometimes fate is making other arrangements.

Pages: 304 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Released: June 1, 2010

When I was at the library, I felt like this book jumped out at me. With it's brightly coloured cover and interesting synopsis, I thought that this would be a fun book to read. And it was.

I have a few Indian friends, so I've heard my fair share of the good, the bad, and everything in between about marriages that happen in their culture. Since this book deals with not only Muslim weddings but Hindu weddings as well, I felt like this would provide an interesting insight into the lives of Indians.

The book starts with Mr. Ali opening up a marriage bureau that soon becomes quite successful. Not only does he look for Muslim candidates, but Christian and Hindu as well. After taking down some information on them, he advertises it on their behalf and tries play match maker. Sometimes it works out in the end and sometimes it doesn't. Ultimately, what ever happens happens and he constantly tells his clients this.

With the success of his business, Mr. Ali needs help so his wife finds Aruna who seems to be a godsent for him. Together, they see the good, the bad, and everything in between when it comes to marriages in India.

What I liked best about this novel is how Farahad Zama shows us how different their culture is. He walks us through the caste system and the different marriage traditions that happen.



Even though this is a novel rich with information and it's fair share of drama, this is actually a quick and somewhat easy read. It's kind of like beach read, if that makes sense. Even though a bunch of stuff are thrown at you, everything works out in the end.

The beginning of the novel is the best part and I got through it quite quickly, but as the middle portion starts up I did find myself getting a little bored. The ending makes up for it, but this is a novel that shouldn't have taken me 3 days to read. I'm not quite sure what it was about the middle section, but it did feel like it was dragging on.

This is a good book though and if you want some insight on how Indians get married, then I think you might enjoy this.

3 stars

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Review: Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

Harvesting the Heart

Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence, and shameful memories of her past, make her doubt both her maternal ability and her sense of self worth. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts an absorbing novel peopled by richly drawn characters and explores issues and emotions readers can relate to.

Pages: 464 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Penguin
Released: April 1, 1995

I've read my fair share of Jodi Picoult books, so I usually know what to expect. There's an interesting plot with a twist that will affect the lives of everyone involved. There is a couple going through a hard time, but they will somehow make it work at the end. And of course, there will be many scenes that involve a court room. Depending on the novel, there will also be multiple narrators telling you what happened.

So imagine my shock when Harvesting the Heart didn't have the majority of the key features that I mentioned above. There's no court room, there's no twist, and the ending is vague so we don't know if the couple makes it or not. I was surprised. In fact, I was happy that I would finally get something different.

The only problem is that the characters are not that engaging or relatable. I felt like Jodi really wanted us to understand where Paige was coming from and I did, but it felt forced. I also didn't understand the purpose of letting us know that Paige can draw people's secrets, when this wasn't really used. It almost seemed like it was thrown in there to make her seem even more quirky, except it wasn't executed well enough for that to happen.

Nicholas was another narrator in the book and even though he's a major character in the novel, I didn't really get much out of him. Whereas Paige had some depth, Nicholas didn't. He was a miracle child to parents who were trying for many years. So he grew up spoiled. When he marries Paige, she spoils him. When she goes through her depression of their son is born, he isn't as spoiled so he gets angry at her. When she leaves him, he gets even angrier. Angry, because he's not getting spoiled and has to do more work around the house.

I think the main problem I had was how Paige and Nicholas almost assumed that the other person should know how they are feeling. Why they couldn't just talk it out, I dunno. We wouldn't have had a novel then, of course, but it was still annoying for me to read.


This is a character driven novel and because of that, I couldn't get into it. The characters, at least to me, were not fleshed out enough for them to carry a novel. I don't have to like the character, or even relate to them in order for me to like a book, but I do need to find them engaging and fleshed out. Paige has some depth, but Nicholas is very one dimensional.

This is the second book that Jodi ever published, so that could be the reason. Her books do get better (albeit a bit predictable), but her writing has always been smooth and crisp.

2.5 stars

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday Finds wk1

What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS! Friday Finds is weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

I thought it might be fun to have a theme each time I do this, instead of just posting all the books I find. So for this week, it's the spooky and suspense edition.


The Ones That Got Away
The Ones That Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones

These thirteen stories are our own lives, inside out. A boy's summer romance doesn't end in that good kind of heartbreak, but in blood. A girl on a fishing trip makes a friend in the woods who's exactly what she needs, except then that friend follows her back to the city. A father hears a voice through his baby monitor that shouldn't be possible, but now he can't stop listening. A woman finds out that the shipwreck wasn't the disaster, but who she's shipwrecked with. A big brother learns just what he will, and won't, trade for one night of sleep. From prison guards making unholy alliances to snake-oil men in the Old West doling out justice, these stories carve down into the body of the mind, into our most base fears and certainties, and there's no anesthetic. Turn the light on if you want, but that just makes for more shadows.

Now You See Me
Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

Lacey Flint is a London policewoman with a secret past, a morbid fascination with serial killers and a curiously empty flat. On the job she's quiet and plainly dressed. At night she has an unusual social life.

When Lacey returns to her car one evening to find a woman fatally stabbed right by it, she is taken in for questioning, but then a hand-delivered letter suggests the killer has a special interest in Lacey herself.

Suddenly she is at the centre of a terrifying murder hunt, working with the smart but damaged DI Dana Tulloch and the hostile DI Mark Joesbury, another person who seems curiously fascinated with Lacey.

Is Joesbury's interest in Lacey personal or professional? Will Lacey cope as the case pushes her into the limelight? And does the team have the skill to outwit one of the nastiest serial killers Londoners have fallen prey to since the killer's infamous role model... Jack the Ripper.

There Is No Year: A Novel
There Is No Year: A Novel by Blake Butler

A family of three: father, mother, son.

A house that gives them shelter but shapes their nightmares.

An illness that nearly arrested the past, and looms over the future.

A second family—a copy family. Mirror bodies.

Events on the horizon: a hole, a box, a light, a girl.

Holes in houses. Holes in speaking. Holes in flesh.

Memories that deceive and figures that tempt and lure and withdraw.

Warm Bodies: A Novel
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Stay by Deb Caletti

Clara's relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she's ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it's almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is--and what he's willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city - and Christian - behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won't let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....


So what did you find this week?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Interview: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

After reading The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted I was smitten. It had a lot of things that I love in a novel and it didn't disappoint me in any way. However, there was one thing that I needed to do. Interview Lauren Baratz-Logsted.

It's with great pleasure that I'd like to welcome Lauren..


Hello Lauren, thanks again for doing this!

My pleasure, Pdbkwm!

What made you decide to become a writer and do you have any advice to aspiring writers?

I was 12 years old when I first got the idea, from my 8th grade English teacher, that I might have some writing talent. But it was 20 years before I walked out on my day job to take a chance on myself as a writer and nearly eight years and seven novels passed after that before I made my first sale. I've since sold a total of 23 books. The advice I give aspiring writers is twofold: 1) read, read, read everything you can get your hands on, because you can't be a good writer without being a good reader first; and 2) always remember, the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

Not only are you a teen author, but you write books for children and adult as well. What is the most challenging aspect of writing for such a huge audience?

Crazy BeautifulI think the most challenging is deciding whether a new idea would work best as an adult novel or a teen novel; it's always obvious if something is a children's novel. The adult and teen audiences are so much closer these days than they've ever been before. So while teen novels like Crazy Beautiful and The Education of Bet are clearly teen novels, The Twin's Daughter could work just as easily as an adult novel without changing anything while the concept behind Little Women and Me could be adapted for an older audience simply by changing the age and attitude of the main character.

With Crazy Beautiful you wrote a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and with Little Women, Emily is transported into the world of Little Women. Do you see yourself continuing with this trend of retellings in the future? If so, what retelling would you want to do?

I love writing all kinds of different things - well, I guess you knew that! - but in terms of a retelling, the next one I'd be interested in doing would be A Separate Peace. I'd like to set it in a contemporary all-girls boarding school, exploring the topic of female jealousy and using the Iraq war as a backdrop.

As a reader, there are times when I want to go into a book and give my own brand of advice to the characters. So, if you could visit any of your characters and give them some words of wisdom, who would you visit, and why?

Angel's ChoiceI'd visit Angel Hansen, the main character of Angel's Choice, my first teen novel. I'd tell her not to get so drunk at that end-of-summer party in August. True, if she didn't, I'd have no novel, but she'd be saved a ton of grief - it's important to help people whenever you can, even at cost to yourself.

Any last words?

I know I don't make it easy on readers in that I'm not your typical author: even with books that have some similarities, they're still vastly different - for example, The Education of Bet and The Twin's Daughter are both set in Victorian England but one is a light novel about a girl who decides to cross-dress to get a boy's education while the other is a dark novel of suspense and murder. So I hope that those readers who follow me from book to book know how incredibly grateful I am to them for doing so.

Thanks again for doing this. I really enjoyed The Twin’s Daughter and plan on reading more of your books in the future. I wish you the best of luck and success in all your projects!

Thank you so much, Pdbkwm, and especially for helping spread the word about The Twin's Daughter - I could always use more great readers like you!



For more information about Lauren and her books, please visit her website: Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Review: Claymore Vol 1 by Norihiro Yagi

Claymore, Vol. 1 (Claymore) (v. 1)

A Claymore - a female warrior named for the sword she carries - travels from medieval village to village to destroy Yoma, monsters who disguise themselves as humans and who are almost impossible to kill. Claymores are half-humans, half-demons who willingly transformed themselves by mixing their blood with monster's blood. Claire, nicknamed silver-eyed killer, is such a powerful Claymore, she can slay a Yoma using only one hand. But she must constantly struggle to keep from becoming a monster herself.

Pages: 208 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition
Released: April 4, 2006

So this volume contains the first four chapters of the very successful series from Monthly Jump. The chapters are Silver-Eyed Slayer, Claws In the Sky, Memory of A Witch and The Black Card.

Claymore is a manga I've been wanting to read for awhile now. I'm a big fan of Jump and after catching up on some titles, I thought I'd give this a go.

Claire is a Claymore, a half human half monster whose sole mission in life is to kill the monsters. The monsters that Claymores hunt disguises themselves as regular people in order to infiltrate an unsuspecting town and eat the tasty, tasty humans there.

In the first chapter, she meets Raki a young boy whose family was killed by the monsters. Unlike the other villagers, he isn't afraid of Claire and tries to befriend her. In the third chapter, he ends up following her and becoming her cook.

The dynamic between the two so far is needed to show us how Claire's human side isn't really human. Raki is innocent. When he cares for others and acts human. Claire, on the other hand, is cold, distant, and efficient in her job. She looks human, but definitely doesn't act like it. This gives her a very lonely and sad aura. What's the point in getting close to others when she's a Claymore, who will eventually become a monster one day?

The artwork is okay. Usually the first volume isn't a true indication of the mangaka's abilities and as the series progresses, I'm sure the artwork will get better and better.



Volume 1 of Claymore is a great introduction so far. I already enjoy watching Claire and Raki and can't wait to see where the mangaka takes them. There is a lot of blood in this series, so if you are squeamish about that then perhaps this isn't for you. However, the characters and story is good so far so definitely check this out.

4 stars

note: mangaka is a manga author

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Review: The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Twin's Daughter

Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day…a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda?

Pages: 400 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher:Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Released: August 31, 2010

Back in August of last year, I heard about The Twin’s Daughter. I instantly loved the premise, the cover, and the promise of twists and turns. However, it wasn’t until just recently when I had the chance to finally read this novel.

Let me just start by saying that this exceed my expectations. The book starts with Lucy, the narrator of this novel, opening the door and finding her mom’s twin sister on the doorstep, the sister she never knew her mom had. Aunt Helen is quickly accepted inside the family, but there is something off about her. Unlike her sister, Aliese - who was raised in a wealthy household, Helen grew up in a rough orphanage and was constantly told that she was the unwanted child.

Even though we don’t see much of Helen’s past, you do feel some sadness over what happened to her. But I couldn’t help wonder if she also had some resentment towards her sister. Enough resentment to go single white female on her.

A lot more happens in the book, but I don’t want to ruin the fun of anyone planning to read this. Just know that there are some twists, with a second helping of turns, mixed in with some betrayal, and a dash of romance.



As I was reading this I had different feelings. There was excitement as the climax approached and I was trying to guess what happened. I also felt sadness, over the two twins and their lives. And I did have moments of happiness, as I read about Lucy and Kit. Their romance is both cute and endearing, a stark contrast to the rest of the book.

The Twin’s Daughter has to be one of my favourite reads of this year. When I was reading this I, and I imagine many others, probably thought this would be predictable, but boy was I wrong. There were times when Lucy would be oblivious to things that were happening around her house. As a reader, this usually frustrates me, especially, when it is something that is incredibly obvious, but in this case it didn’t. Whether it was due to innocence, grief, or whatnot, it made sense for Lucy to not really understand what was happening. I found myself making excuses for her, especially by the end when we were both wrong on so many levels.

I can’t say enough about this book. If you haven’t read this yet, do so immediately!

5 stars