Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Pathfinder

Rigg has spent his life training under his father.  Alone in the woods, they track animals and work math problems and practice accents.  When his father suddenly dies, Rigg quickly discovers the value of his training as he sets off across an unfamiliar land, searching for answers to questions he didn't know he had.

And then there's his powers: he can see path where people have walked.  That used to be the extent of his powers, but after his father's death he realizes that he can do so much more than see the past.  He can change it.  And that might just be the most dangerous thing of all.

Entertainment: ★★★★★

I'll be frank, some of the time-space physics stuff was a little mind-boggling.  Discussions of whether it's possible to change the past and what time means and other similar topics were a little deeper than I expected.  But I enjoy stuff like that, so I actually thought it was pretty cool.  And educational and thought-inspiring.

As for the story itself, I thought it was extremely enjoyable.  I liked Rigg's narration and although the story wasn't particularly suspenseful I was very curious to see how everything tied together in the end.  And the ending managed to provide closure while still leaving me really excited to read the next book.

Plot: ★★★★★

It's a really original premise and a really exciting plot, mixed with some absolutely fantastic worldbuilding. Enough said.

Characters: ★★★★

Pathfinder loses a couple points here because I never really connected with the characters, emotionally.  However, they were great fun to read about and quite interesting.

Writing: ★★★★★

I really do like Card's style.

End Result: five stars.  A really excellent book.  Read it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trailer Tuesday (17)

This week's trailer: The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby.  Okay, I'm a sucker for steampunk and I'm a sucker for violins.  Together?  Wow.  This video is a little creepy, a lot awesome, and makes me really, really want to read the book!  (For more info on the book and fun stuff like a sample chapter, check out the website)

What do you think about this trailer?  And what's your favorite trailer?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Review: The Maze Runner

This book counts towards the What's In A Name? Challenge.

Thomas has no idea who he is, where he is, or even how old he is.  All his knows is his name on the day he arrives in the Glade.  The Glade is full of boys like him with no memory of their past.  The Gladers have spent years trying to escape the Glade, but without success; for the Glade is surrounded by a gigantic, seemingly impossible maze filled with mysterious monsters.

Their lives have settled into a routine: every morning the doors open and Runners leave the Glade, searching for a way out of the maze.  Every night the doors close, and to be caught outside it night is to disappear forever.  Every thirty days, a new boy arrives to replace the dead and missing.  But with Thomas's arrival, things start to change quickly.  The endgame is coming.  The boys begin to wonder if they are finally going to solve the maze... or if none of them will ever leave the Glade alive...

Entertainment: ★★★★

I read The Maze Runner in only a few hours, eager to figure out what the "answers" were.  Honestly I would have given it five stars except that it was, at times, pretty confusing.

Plot: ★★★★★

Bonus points for being majorly unique, super interesting, and gripping.  I have to say, however, that I disliked the ending.  I felt like there was no closure.  Also, I felt like things moved a little too fast at some parts, like I was having to scramble to keep up with the runaway storyline.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but in a plot as complex and layered as this it did make things kind of confusing. 

Overall, a really excellent plot, if you're willing to put some effort into understanding it.

Characters: ★★

I have to say I didn't really like any of the characters.  Some of them apparently couldn't make up their minds on whether to be good guys or not, and were just erratic and hard to understand.  The main character, Thomas, was just bizarre.  He said and did things that made no sense, had more than a few sudden personality reversals, and failed to convey any realistic emotions.  I couldn't connect with any of the characters, at all, and couldn't understand most of them either.

Writing: ★★★★

Dashner does description well, although as I just mentioned I wasn't a huge fan of the characterization.  He's excellent at building suspense and giving just the right amount of clues - not enough to give anything away, but enough to keep the reader fascinated.  I enjoyed his writing style and will probably be reading more of his books.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Princess of Las Pulgas: The Winner!

The very first novapsych contest closed yesterday!  And the winner of their very own copy of The Princess of Las Pulgas is...



Congrats, Kati!  I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: I Will Save You


Kidd has escaped the group home.  He's sick of drugs and therapy and ready to have a life again.  He gets lucky at the Californian coast, where a kindly retired surfer takes him under his wing and gives him a summer job.  Kidd is just drifting, though, without a real reason to keep living - until he meets Olivia.  She's blond, beautiful, smart, and rich.  Common sense says that they'll never be together, but Kidd can't help but hope otherwise.

Devon is smart, cruel, and suicidal.  He's followed Kidd from the group home, and he's not leaving until he gets exactly what he wants.

Entertainment: ★★★★★


I read it in three hours and I'm already considering rereading it.

Plot: ★★★★★

I can't really discuss it without bringing up major spoilers, so suffice to say I loved it.  Literally loved it.

Characters: ★★★★

Out of the three main characters, I thought Olivia and Kidd were excellent, but I just couldn't get into Devon, I don't know why.  But Olivia and Kidd easily made up for that, and besides I loved most of the side characters.  Plus, Kidd's narrating voice was excellent.

Writing: ★★★★★

All I can really do is restate what I said about the other categories: I really, really enjoyed I Will Save You.

End Result: five stars.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trailer Tuesday

Today's trailer: Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck.  The book itself sounds interesting - you can check out the website if you want to know more.  The trailer is amazing!  I love the Indian art influences and (what sounds to my uneducated ear like) Indian music.  I actually watched this trailer over and over again at least four times because I liked it so much!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: Todd the Dreamer

Todd has a dead-end job, a dead-end relationship, and no particular goal in life.  So when he sees an ad for a lucid dreaming experiment, he figures it'll be an easy way to make some extra money and get away from his girlfriend for a while.

He doesn't expect to quickly become a talented lucid dreamer.  He doesn't expect weird, inexplicable out-of-body experiences.  He doesn't expect danger.  And he definitely doesn't expect the line between dreaming and reality to disappear.

Entertainment: ★★★

It was a nice quick read.

Plot: ★★★

It started off really well, had an unfortunate slump towards the middle where not much really happened, and then picked up again for an interesting ending.  I enjoyed learning about dreaming, too.


Frankly, Todd was kind of a wimp.  And not in a relatable way, more like a wait-I'm-supposed-to-care-about-this-character? way.  He makes efforts to cheat on his girlfriend/fiancee, in both dreams and real life; in fact, he generally behaves like a pig for much of the story.  He has absolutely no motivation, no respect for anyone, and on top of everything he smokes.  He was whiny.  In one telling quote, "Well, he didn't care.  He didn't care about anything.  Nothing seemed to be worth the effort.  Nobody paid any attention to him.  Nobody respected him.  Nobody loved him."

I was fed up and hoping for an unpleasant ending for him by a quarter of the way through the book.

The rest of the cast was just pretty... bland, I guess.  Nobody really stood out to me as interesting or unique.

Writing: ★★★

There were several grammar errors that I found a little distracting, and then there was once scene where a character started off as Michael but then was written in twice as "John."  I assume it was a typo but either way I think there were a couple of editing issues that bugged me.

That said, the writing was okay but I'd have preferred a little more description, of both the dreams and real life.

End Result: three stars.  A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Contest: Win a Copy of The Princess of Las Pulgas!

After her father's slow death from cancer, Carlie thought things couldn't get worse. But now, she is forced to confront the fact that her family in dire financial straits. To stay afloat, her mom has had to sell their cherished oceanfront home and move Carlie and her younger brother Keith to the other side of the tracks to dreaded Las Pulgas, or "the fleas" in Spanish. They must now attend a tough urban high school instead of their former elite school, and on Carlie's first day of school, she runs afoul of edgy K.T., the Latina tattoo girl who's always ready for a fight, even on crutches. Carlie fends off the attention of Latino and African American teen boys, and one, a handsome seventeen-year-old named Juan, nicknames her Princess when he detects her aloof attitude towards her new classmates. What they don't know is that Carlie isn't really aloof; she's just in mourning for her father and almost everything else that mattered to her. Mr. Smith, the revered English teacher who engages all his students, suggests she'll like her new classmates if she just gives them a chance; he cajoles her into taking over the role of Desdemona in the junior class production of Othello, opposite Juan, after K.T. gets sidelined. Keith, who becomes angrier and more sullen by the day, spray paints insults all over the gym as he acts out his anger over the family's situation and reduced circumstances. Even their cat Quicken goes missing, sending Carlie and Keith on a search into the orchard next to their seedy garden apartment complex. They're met by a cowboy toting a rifle who ejects them at gunpoint from his property. But when Carlie finds him amiably having coffee with their mom the next day -- when he's returned her cat -- she begins to realize that nothing is what it seems in Las Pulgas.

For more info, you can read my review, an interview with McKenzie, or check out the book on Amazon!

Now how about winning a copy of The Princess of Las Pulgas?

-Prize: one copy of The Princess of Las Pulgas
-How to Enter: Comment on this post with your name, your e-mail, and why you want to read this book!
-Extra Entries (not required, but one extra entry each if you leave a link): Spread the word! Link to this contest on your blog sidebar, write a blog post, tweet about the book, Facebook it - get creative!
-Dates: Contest runs from January 14th through January 21st at midnight EST.

US addresses only (sorry, overseas readers).

So there you go - enter away!  And if you like what you see here on novapsych, there's a little "follow" button over there on the sidebar and I love followers!

Author Interview: C. Lee McKenzie

For my review of The Princess of Las Pulgas, click here
For a chance to win a copy of the book, click here!
- - - - - - - - 

How did it feel when you first found out that you were going to be published? 

Before or after I fainted? I suppose like anyone first being accepted into the published world, I got very excited, then I pinched myself because I didn’t believe that email could be for real. I think I read that letter a hundred times and kept saying, “Really? They want to publish my book?”

Do you have a favorite character from Princess of Las Pulgas? Who and why? 

That’s hard, kind of like a Sophie’s Choice. They’re all my darlings, but if I had to choose one, I’d take Carlie. She’s a bit of a “princess,” but she’s really just tying to protect herself while she gets used to being in a strange place without friends. Also she’s still trying to recover from the loss of her dad. I like her because even when she makes mistakes, she learns from them and grows up quite a bit during her story.

What would you say is the "secret" of creating believable, realistic characters? 

Listen to them. They’ll tell you when you’re off base. I often read their dialog out loud too. That helps to keep their voices true to their character.

When the reader finishes Princess of Las Pulgas, what do you want them to take away from it?

I’d like for them to recognize the importance of family. When the Edmunds lose everything, they still have each other, and even though they’re at odds and have disagreements, in the end, they come together.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: The Princess of Las Pulgas

When Carlie's father dies, she is overwhelmed with grief and not at all ready to deal with life.  Life doesn't give her a choice, though, when Carlie's mother is forced to sell their beachside house and move the family to Las Pulgas, the poor side of town.  Carlie is horrified by their disgusting apartment and disgusted with the new school and its ghetto students who nickname her "Princess."  Las Pulgas is nothing like the privileged Channing where she grew up, and it seems to be tearing her family apart...

Entertainment: ★★★★

Although it's a little out of my usual genre, I enjoyed The Princess of Las Pulgas a lot more than I expected.

Plot: ★★★

It wasn't exactly the most original plot line I've ever read.  But it was sweet, at times even touching.  I enjoyed the story and I thought it ended well, with excellent closure on all fronts.

Characters: ★★★★★

Carlie started off, frankly, as a spoiled brat.  Her grief aside, she was so whiny about "Omg, I have to live with poor people??" that I was a little turned off.  However, I thought her personal growth and acceptance that poor people are people too, despite being a little expected, was well done and realistic.  I enjoyed seeing her mature and learn.  In addition, I thought her feelings of loss and her eventual acceptance of her father's death were excellently well-written and very touching.

The rest of the cast were also fairly well-written; I particularly enjoyed Sean, Lena, and K.T.  Lena, in particular, since I used to have a similar "friend" and so I could relate a lot to Carlie's relationship with her.

Writing: ★★★

There were some fairly egregious grammar errors, but since I was reading an uncorrected proof I won't factor them into my review.

I though Carlie's internal struggled was done excellently.  Her emotions were realistic and relatable, her grief remarkably well written.  Her external world, however, was less impressive. The description was a little lacking, the pacing a little rushed, and it was just generally less interesting.  So I enjoyed reading about Carlie, but I found her context a little less interesting.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trailer Tuesday

This trailer is super-suspenseful; the music is a little eerie and the "blurring" special effects were really cool.  To be honest this trailer freaks me out a little - but it also makes me really curious about the book!

More about Shadow Hills - sounds like a cool book, no?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review: Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is young, beautiful, wealthy, and happily married, and  she adores her son.  Her life is happy, if dull, until she meets the dashing Count Vronsky.  It's love at first sight... and he's not her husband. She finds herself relucantly turning to him, torn between loyalty and love.

Entertainment: ★★★★★

So, the name Tolstoy turned me off at first.  I mean, would I really want to read an 817-page book that practically exudes an aura of stuffiness?  That was what I asked myself as I checked out, but at the urging of pushy people who feel I need to "expand my literary horizons," I was going to force myself to suffer through this six-inch book that screamed "classic."

I was so completely, totally wrong I don't even know how to say it. I loved this book to death.

Plot: ★★★

It's pretty slow going.  Tolstoy is intense; you need to take a brain break every 15 pages or so.  Also, there's a few chapters of politics here and there which, to he honest, drag.  It's been a while since I've taken this long to get through a book.  But, wow, what a subtle, intricate, entrancing story.  And I could not guess the ending!

Characters: ★★★★★

The thing about Tolstoy's characters is that they aren't characters.  They're people.  Levin, Vronsky, Kitty, Anna, Alexei, and all the rest were just so solid, so flawed, so perfect, so real.  I don't know what to write here, except that this book contains some of the best characters I've read in a long time.

The relationships between the characters deserve a spotlight all of their own.  The One True Loves fight with each other, for example. Thank you, Tolstoy, for some real relationships.  Just because two people are Soul Mates does not mean they will never ever ever disagree, or get bored with each others' company, or exhibit any other all too human flaws.  The fact is, love takes work, and Tolstoy demonstrates that brilliantly.

I'd also like to note that I actually didn't like any of the characters.  Some of them at times disgusted me with their childishness, naivety, or plain obnoxious self-centered stupidity.  They weren't the airbrushed, Photoshopped version of humanity we find all too often in books; they were just plain people.  Now, I realize this might not appeal to some people.  In fact, maybe a lot of people prefer the airbrushed characters; I don't really know.  But for me, Tolstoy's characters were amazing.

Writing: ★★★★

See the above note: this writing is intense.  But it's such a masterpiece.  There are the classics you are forced to read, which produce a feeling similar to being force-fed cardboard.  And then there are the classics, books so utterly brilliant they will never go out of style, never get old, and never, ever disappoint.  Anna Karenina is far and away a star of the second group.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Hi, blog hoppers! I'm Nova, and I'm delighted to welcome you to novapsych!

Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday Question: What book(s) have you discovered lately from someone's book blog?

I just finished Tyger, Tyger, and although I can't remember whose blog I first noticed it on I remember seeing it pop up a lot on book blogs lately.  Oh, and Virals - I haven't started it yet but I'm sure I'll love it.

Blog Hop Question: What book influenced or changed your life? How did it influence/change you?

Wow, hard question.  I'm going to go with Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, because that book convinced me that I wanted to be a writer.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Front and Center

DJ Schwenk has made it onto the basketball team, but even there she's not happy.  The coach keeps trying to force her to speak up, and if there's anything DJ hates, it's expressing herself.  Which is why she's kind-of dating Beaner when she kind-of likes Brian, but can't tell either of them the truth.  It's why she's shoved college and college sports to the back of her mind, even when basketball scholarships start pouring in, and avoided making a decision.  It's why she feels like everything in her life is spinning out of her control...

Entertainment: ★★★

I'm a little biased here, having read Dairy Queen and The Off Season before.  And I have to say I enjoyed both of them a little more than Front and Center, for the reasons below.

Plot: ★★★

It was just a little windy... slow... tangled... it twisted around a lot without ever really getting anywhere, I felt.

Characters: ★★★★★

As always, I loved Murdock's characters.  She manages to have them grow and progress believably, which is a rare and wonderful thing, and also many of them are just interesting and fun to read.

Writing: ★★★★

For the same reason as the plot, the writing here didn't seem to have any direction.  It meandered around a lot, with a little too much introspection for my tastes, and just seemed a little confused and lost.  That said, though, DJ's voice is still coming through loud and clear and narrating excellently.

End Result: four stars.  A good book, definitely worth your time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Trailer Tuesday

Warning: this video may induce compulsive hand-washing.

It's a little eerie and a little icky, okay, but it also really piques my interest.  I'm actually a little fascinated.

Interested in Deadly?  Read more about it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Music Monday

This week's song suggestion is short - let the song speak for itself.  It's my new favorite.

We Are Young - 3oh!3