Posted by: jacstar | December 10, 2008

Stray by Rachel Vincent

strayStray is about a werecat named Faythe Sanders. Something like 10% of the werecat population are females and one by one these females are disappearing. Faythe doesn’t want to be part of the pride, she doesn’t want to conform to the standards that a werecat should. She just wants to live her own life and follow her own rules. Her dad is the Alpha male of the Pride and he doesn’t want to let Faythe go. He believes that she is capable of far more but he struggles to help her see that.

For Faythe’s safety, her dad calls her back and puts her on strict house arrest. Until the matter of the kidnappings is resolved, Faythe has to be escorted everywhere she goes. Naturally, this doesn’t hold well for her so she attempts to escape.

Without meaning to, she walks right into the hands of the enemy. Now she must put into practise everything she’s learned from her father, all of the things she had no interest in learning initially…

 

This one was very slow for me. I found myself getting so annoyed with Faythe as she rebelled against her family. I understand wanting to be independent but it was so obvious her family just wanted her safe and she was too stubborn to realize that. She thought she was invincible and it served her right that she was caught. But as soon as she was in the wrong hand’s I absolutely loved her. Because she was still stubborn and still cocky but it worked.

I recommend this story for those that like the female hero. This girl has got strength and attitude, so as long as you have the patience to read a 600+ page novel, I say go for it!

Posted by: jacstar | December 4, 2008

The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

39cluesThis book is considered to be for ages 9-13, but honestly, it’s a book everyone can enjoy.

The fate of the world is resting on young Dan and Amy Cahill as they travel the world on a quest to find the secrets of their family history. They are up against several other Cahill teams, and have a few enemies outside the family as well. There are 39 clues to solve, and they are only given the first. Each clue leads them to more hints and they struggle to identify what exactly is a clue, and what is just a clue to the next clue. It’s bad enough that they are the youngest team, with absolutely no money and no ideas on how to proceed, but it appears everyone in the family is against them. All want to find the most powerful treasure and they are all certain that Dan and Amy hold the answers.

They are told to trust no one. Amy has a phobia of crowds and she hides from people. She must gain strength and overcome her fears, and this is just the challenge to help her to do so. Her younger brother Dan, doesn’t always grasp what he’s supposed to be doing in this quest, but he’s great with numbers, puzzles and locks, he likes to collect things that seem useless but always come in handy later in the game.

The two siblings are able to read each other’s minds. Well not really, but they are able to read expressions and communicate with ease, never having to open their mouths. I wish they’d use this talent more often though, you’ll see why once you read the book.

The best part about this story, is how interactive it is. It comes with trading cards and a link to the website. Once you register, you are able to collect clues and solve the puzzle and ultimately have a chance to win a prize.

So read the book, get involved, and play the games! The fun is endless.

Posted by: jacstar | November 28, 2008

Banned Books

Alright so there is a very long list of books that are banned. I really don’t understand why this is necessary. It’s human nature to want the things we can’t have, and to do the things we’re not supposed to. So by telling us we can’t read something, well that’s just going to intrigue us all the more.

The link of banned books an be found here.

And just to peak some interest here are some of my favourites of the banished and the banned:

f451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (does anyone else see the irony in banning this book?)

d-code

Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

h-tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

sh5

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

 

 

james-peach

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

indian-cupboard

Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

blubber

Blubber by Judy Blume

fried-worms

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

 

 

g-compass

The Golden Compass (series) by Philip Pullman

 

 

 

The more books that are banned, the more I feel the need to read them – bring it on!

Posted by: jacstar | November 21, 2008

The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein

becomingThis is the first of the Anna Strong vampire series. Anna is a bounty hunter with her ex-football player David. While tracking down their newest skip, both are attacked and left for dead. David survives with nothing more than a concussion and some memory loss, while Anna slowly discovers her change. She’s ‘becoming’ a vampire.

It all goes down hill for Anna from here on in. First she’s pulled over by the cops for speeding. Then she’s almost attacked by a group of vampire-haters. Her house is burnt down and her partner is kidnapped.

This story has so many twists and turns, you don’t know who to trust, who is good, and who wants Anna dead. Your guess will likely be wrong. To be honest, I’m still not even sure who I can trust! There are things left unsolved, who plays Casper? Why is Anna the one? What will Culebra ask as a favour in return for his kindness? Will Max figure out what Anna really is? Will Anna move into Dr. Avery’s house? I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to find out the answers.

The flaw in this book for me was the use of the word vampire. It was used as both the singular and the plural, but it wasn’t consistent. If ‘vampire’ is plural then there should be no need for the word ‘vampires.’

Other than that, I found this book hard to put down! I had no idea it was about vampires either. It was recommended to me and it took me so long to find it in the book store due to the way it’s catalogued. The book is entitled The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein but it’s in the catalogue as Becoming by Jeanne Stein. You would be surprised what a difference this makes. Once I found the book, I purchased it and got the heck out of the store. I didn’t read the back of the book, nor the front – I just started right at chapter one. So after the attack I was actually wondering what she would become and when I found out it was a vampire, I decided to read the cover. Sure enough, it says in big, bold letters “AN ANNA STRONG, VAMPIRE NOVEL”

How did I miss that?

Posted by: jacstar | November 21, 2008

Chosen by P. C. and Kristin Cast

chosenThis is the third book in the House of Night series and I’m just going to say it. This is the worst book ever written. I read just over 100 pages, which is over one/third the book and here is what I learned. Zoey makes out with Professor Loren Blake and now has three boyfriends, yet denies being a tramp. Aphrodite replaces Stevie Rae as Earth in the circle.

OK so that might have been a spoiler, but really – this book spoils itself. If I only learned two new things in over 100 pages, then clearly you are just reiterating the same garbage from the first two stories.

The things that are repeated way too many times to count: Stevie Rae is both dead and undead. They can’t just say she’s undead apparently, that’s not enough. It has to be said as dead undead EVERY TIME. We know she died in the second book and we know Neferet changed her into some monster. We get it, but please feel free to tell us a few more times just to be sure. And while you’re at it, please tell us who Zoey’s best friend is. Because I may have forgotten the first 30 times it was stated.

We learned the Cherokee word for daughter, again. We know that Zoey is better off with her grandmother and has a better relationship with her. We know her mom is an idiot who married a religious cult guy AKA the “step-loser” but feel free to write about it all over again.

We know that Heath is a human boyfriend. Boyfriend #2. Zoey imprinted him in the first novel, and again in the second. But sure, I want to hear this story again so why not tell it to me again in the third?

We know there are 5 elements and what they are, but each time you tell us about one you feel the need to mention all the others as well.

Aphrodite fought with her parents in the second novel. You really didn’t need to retell the whole episode in the third novel. If people actually care, they might go back and read.

We know what the formers are. Third Former is the first high school grade (I believe this is Freshman in the states), Fourth Former is the second, etc. So if Eric is a Fifth former then he’s in his third year. If Eric’s roommate Jack is a third former, that means he’s two levels below Eric… I appreciate that you spelled that out though.

Honestly, it’s the most condescending crap I’ve ever read in my life and I had to stop before finishing because I felt I was becoming LESS intelligent. To the authors, here is some advice. The run on sentences, need to be broken down. The parentheses need to go. I started skipping over them entirely and missed nothing.

You can’t take the first novel and rename it – and then tell people it’s the third novel. You’re taking us for fools. Turns out, you don’t need to repeat everything from the previous novels, or the previous chapters for that matter. You’ve said it once, now let it go.

The twins? What the hell is that nonsense? You have two people with one character. That’s boring and uncreative. A side note here, actual twins don’t refer to each other as twins in every sentence, nor do they need to add the same thought to the first sentence. Example, Shaunee doesn’t have to say “agreed, twin” it can just be assumed that she does.

You don’t need to use the following words/phrases ever again – you’ve used them enough already “step-loser, ‘rentals, hag from hell, birthmas, twin”

Figure out your target audience. It says teen fiction but I’m not sure what teen would actually read this without being offended. Anyone above 16 would understand the repetition and likely move on without finishing and without looking back. Anyone under 14 should probably not be reading about blow jobs and sluttyness. So that leaves the 15 year olds. Or maybe those with a learning disability or memory problems. They might like things repeated ten-fold.

This book is so utterly terrible that I absolutely hate the main character. She lies, she cheats, and she treats her friends like dirt. She gets everything but deserves nothing.

I wanted to tear out every single page that annoyed me with repetition and stupidity but each page has so many things that create this wave of hatred, I think it would be physically impossible to tear the pieces to such a tiny degree. I wanted to get out my red pen and start editing but really, that would probably leave us with two pages of story, the rest would be deleted.

I didn’t even want to put my recently purchased book marks in the novel because I didn’t want my bookmarks tainted.

I’m listing all of the ways that this book might be improved in hopes that the authors read and learn for their next novel (or quit writing all together – see parentheses suck). I’ve never wanted to deface a novel so badly, until I picked up this crap.

 

Do yourself a favour – burn these books.

Posted by: jacstar | November 9, 2008

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

living-deadThis book is the second in the Southern Vampire Series – also known as the Sookie Stackhouse series.

Sookie Stackhouse now has a business agreement with Eric – the head vampire in her small little town. Eric loans her service out to the vampires in Texas and some new characters are introduced. There is a 1000 year old vampire who wants to commit suicide. He wants to take out as many vampires in the process.

There is a religious cult that goes by the name the Fellowship of the Sun (or something similar). This is a clan that wants to kill all vampires in the name of God. They also like to kill humans who associate with vampires – very ethical by religious standards (insert eye-roll here).

In Shreveport (which I believe is the small town where Sookie is from) there is a Maenad. I believe this is a mythical creature which appears as a naked woman in the woods. But she’s strong and vicious.

All I can say is that I sure hope the rest of the series is better. The one thing that I liked was that it didn’t dwell too much on the first book. It jumped right in, assuming you’ve already read the first adding a few sentences here and there as a refresher.

Honestly, by the end of the book I had forgotten half of the stuff that had happened in the beginning, and this is not a good sign given the book is less than 300 pages long. Often times, I couldn’t remember the title of the book so when people asked what I was currently reading I would have to fish it out of my purse to give an answer. Also, not a good sign.

This novel is not as sexual as the first. This can be good or bad depending on what you’re into. It still has some juicy sex scenes including an orgy, so for those that like it – it’s still there, it’s just lacking a bit.

It’s got some controversy – Harris flat out compares the Fellowship to the KKK. It’s a decent comparison from what I know (which to be honest, is not very much regarding the KKK). The whole issue turns my stomach and I prefer NOT to know what these cults get up to.

I found Sookie to be more annoying in this story. She’s clever, which I like, but she’s just so ridiculous to Bill – her loving boyfriend. She fights with him over things that should just be forgotten. Instead of buying her a sweater, Bill buys her an entire mall. Instead of saying “thank you” she explodes with rage and walks out on him.

There is another very powerful scene – a murderous shootout. Bill gets defensive, given that he just watched a bunch of his friends die, and he chases the shooters. This doesn’t seem to me like a very abnormal response. But instead, Sookie leaves Bill claiming that he is just too vampire for her and not human enough…. Um… Whatever.

If you’re judging the book soley on the cover, I wouldn’t waste my time reading this novel either. It’s horribly cartoonish and gives you the impression that coffins fly.

Anyways, everything works out for everyone – and I’m not so inclined to read the next book in the series. I’m sure I’ll get there but there are far better books on my list to be read first.

Posted by: jacstar | November 6, 2008

Moustache + November = MOVEMBER

movember1Hi there,

I just wanted to post a note about something that is very important to me. I would like to apologize in advance if you receive this more than once (in different groups) but I wanted to spread the word.

Here is my story.

My husband is partaking in what is now called ‘Movember’. For the month of November he will be growing a mustache. Unfortunately for me, due to his rugged Scottishness, I break out into hives when I kiss him, if he’s not clean-shaven.

Alas, it is for a good cause! His mustache is for prostate cancer awareness. Should you wish to donate money to his cause, please see the information below. If you would like to sponsor him, I believe there is another link but I can’t be too sure – email my husband for more details.

For those of you who support the cause, and want to see him bear his mustache – please feel free to check the links below… For those who feel sorry for me and my unkissable ways – I’ll take donations too – money or smooches, I won’t complain!

Jacki Star

——————————————————-
Hi All,

During Movember (the month formerly known as November) Danny Brown is growing a Moustache to help the fight against prostate cancer and I’m helping him raise funds and awareness because I’m into guys tackling their own health issues.

You can donate to his moustache by either:

1. Clicking this link and donating online using your credit card or PayPal account
2. Writing a cheque payable to the ‘Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada’, referencing his Registration Number 1810431 and mailing it to:

Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada
Attn: Movember
145 Front Street East
Suite 306
Toronto Ontario M5A 1E3

Donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The money raised by Movember is donated directly to the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada who will use the funds to create awareness and fund research across the country into prevention, detection and treatment, with a goal to ending the threat of prostate cancer.

For those that have supported Movember in previous years you can be very proud of the impact it has had and can check out the details at:
ca.movember.com/outcomes/content/Fundraising-Outcomes/

Did you know…
• Every year around 24,700 Canadian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 4,300 die of the disease, making it the number one cancer threat to Canadian men.
• 1 in 7 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.
• All men over the age of 40 are potentially at risk and should talk to their doctor about the disease and early detection. Prostate cancer is 95% curable if detected and treated early.
Movember culminates at the end of month Gala Partés. If you would like to be part of this great night you’ll need to purchase a ca.movember.com/galatickets/index.php

Thanks for your support.

More information is available at http://www.movember.com/.
——————————————————-

A note from my husband personally:

Hi everyone,

Thank you to my good lady wife who promoted me very nicely while hiding her peed-offedness at my impending hairiness 🙂

Indeed, the Movember event is to raise awareness of the importance for men to be checked regularly. The main focus is on Prostate Cancer awareness/prevention. Having lost a grandfather to this disease, it’s something close to my heart.

You can find more details at the following links:

* Remember, Remember, the Month of Movember

* My Movember donation page

Every little helps, and you can make donations in a variety of ways. Your name pops up as a donator and you receive a receipt so you know it’s all legit.

Anything you can donate will be gratefully accepted – it’s for a great cause and something all guys (and their partners) should take seriously throughout the whole year.

Cheers,

Danny Brown

Posted by: jacstar | October 31, 2008

Books into Movies and their creative fans

So this post is merely to vent out my frustrations on the Twilight phenomenon. I have to say that I fell victim (like many people out there) to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. It didn’t take me long to read all four books in the series, buy all the collectibles, and anticipate the up and coming motion picture. I find myself joining Twilight communities, meeting new Twilighters, googling new information, and youtubing new clips and trailers and things.

I am all for people making comic book scenes, drawings to music, or pictures in slide show format. I think it’s great that people are as passionate as I am, more creative, and are willing to share their work. But alas, here is where I start venting. If you put together a slide show of pictures of a movie (Twilight) to a song (any song of your choice, but say one that’s in Twilight also for argument sake) then please do NOT add pictures of other movies.

Rob Pattinson plays Edward Cullen in Twilight. Fabulous. He also played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter series. Equally fabulous. Putting a slide show together called “Twilight”, featuring music in Twilight, with clips of Edward and the other characters, is excellent… Throwing in random shots of Cedric – well now that is just a slap in the face.

Cedric Diggory does NOT equal Edward Cullen. Yes, they were both done by Rob Pattinson but really folks they’re different. If you want to put together a slide show of Harry Potter vs Twilight, by all means – but at least label it accordingly.

And another thing – amateur spoof films – they are not remotely funny and no one is interested. You want to make that on your spare time, go right on ahead – don’t waste my time by posting things like that on the Internet. They only get hits because of how it’s labelled and people are royally disappointed with what they see… disappointment followed by venomous rage.

Posted by: Samantha | October 27, 2008

Reviewed: All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz

All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz is the author’s second book, and one more reason that she is now among my favorite authors.  What do you do when you badly want to write a novel – one that will make all those people who ever thought you were ‘mediocre’ see you in a completely new light?  What if you have no great ideas…well, no ideas at all for that matter?

Well, you document the financial collapse of your best friend, that’s what.  That’s what Margaret does to Letty in this book.  To keep in touch, Letty sends her friend incredibly detailed, humorous at times and very vivid accounts of her own life.  Letty goes from a mother who is struggling to do everything to an almost wealthy, aspiring social sweetheart.  With her husband’s new job at the museum, she can afford the best in life.

Margaret, on the other hand, writes every purchase down in a ledger to keep track of finances.  She also made a bit of a mistake by announcing to everyone (her parents, her friends and the other teachers and administration at the school where she taught English) that she is going to write the next great American novel.  Having pushed herself toward greatness since she was a child, she has no reason to doubt her statements.

However, after several months pass without a great idea or even a pretty good one – she starts to doubt herself.  But then inspiration strikes – through Letty’s notes, she sees her friend struggling to achieve the social status she feels she deserves.  Designer furniture, a brand new house, a fancy car…and Margaret realizes that her friend’s detailed notes would make an exciting, interesting and fascinating novel.

Asking questions, prodding and even sometimes convincing Letty to continue down her disastrous path, Margaret fills the pages of her novel.  In the back of her mind, she sees her friend heading for trouble, but there’s always time to stop it later, right?  After a few more chapters, anyway.

Margaret continues until suddenly the finances catch up to Letty and she must make desperate moves to make ends meet.  This book starts out a little slow, but I’ve come to realize that this is Christina Schwarz’s way of giving us our appetizer before serving up the vivid, delicious full course.  I was provided a very deep and interesting look into human nature, once again, and although I enjoyed ‘Drowning Ruth’ by Christina Schwarz more – this book has a charm all it’s own.

I highly recommend this book and will certainly be getting her latest and third book, ‘So Long at the Fair’ right away!

Posted by: jacstar | October 24, 2008

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

This is the first book of the Southern Vampire series, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse series. It’s about this cute, little, blonde-hair, blue-eye, telepathic woman (Sookie) who has a fixation with vampires.

Sookie lives and works in a small southern town and hopes every day that a vampire will walk into the bar.

Vampires have a right to live in this town (in this world) and most places actually keep bottled synthetic blood on hand, in the event that a vampire ever decides to pay them a visit.

 The story says that one day a man gets infected with a virus which makes him pale-skinned, allergic to the sun and silver, ‘thirsty’ and basically undead. Even in this novel part of the story is myth but you’re left to make of that whatever you want.

One day Vampire Bill walks into the bar where Sookie works and her life is turned upside down. She soon learns that she is unable to read the minds of vampires and she feels much more relaxed around Bill.

Basically from here on out (this only brings us to the second chapter) the book is about sex and death. I would recommend it to anyone who can deal with that! It’s a light read and it’s pretty entertaining. It must be, considering it is now an HBO series called True Blood.

I have yet to see the TV show, but I will for sure be reading the rest of the series.

I cannot emphasize enough how sexual this book is. No one told me that when they recommended it. I heard “it’s a great read, fun, fresh and exciting” and “If you like vampire stories then this is the series for you” – why didn’t anyone say “oh and PS, it’s erotic and slightly pornographic?!”

I still would have read the book, but maybe not in public. I found myself at all shades of red and constantly paranoid that someone was lurking over my shoulder giving me the “tsk tsk” for bringing this book out into daylight.

 

It is a great read – but you’ve been warned.

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