Friday, May 28, 2010

Okapi is AMAZING

Hey guys!

So up until now I knew that Okapi was a great writer, but I didn't know how skilled she was in poetry too! Honestly, poetry is not my greatest strength and I knew that I could never be able to write something as awesomesauce as her poems. So please just take 1 minute of your life to allow your eyes to feast upon this lovely array of poems.

Lots of love,
Rica Eat World

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday x2!! (Not really, it's actually Thursday)

First of all, we are deeply sorry for not being able to post anything for so long! We've been bombarded with school assignments and such. Now, we are FINALLY able to get this teaser Tuesday out. Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading...So without further ado, we present you with two mind-boggling quotes from Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott and The Compound by S. A. Bodeen.

Rica Eat World is currently hypnotized by the intensity of Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. This haunting novel stars a young, abducted girl and her disturbing captor.

" I can see myself in the plastic and it waves me into a strange, distorted creature, the shadow of something or someone.
I look wrong.
I look dead.
I'm not, though. I'm only partway there, a living dead girl.
I have been for five years. "
- Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, page 7.

Okapi currently has her nose buried amidst the pages of The Compound by S.A. Bodeen. This gripping novel has held her attention without missing a beat!

" I practically shouted the words. 'A husband who breeds new kids to feed to his old ones."
Lexie's mouth dropped open.
I didn't even need to pause for effect. "There's a type of dinosaur that did the same thing.' "
- The Compound by S.A. Bodeen, page 95

There you have it! Enjoy the rest of your Thursday and happy reading!

-- Okapi & Rica Eat World

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blogger Hop!

Welcome to the Smarty Owl!
It's time for another Book Blogger Hop, a meme started by Crazy for Books used to connect readers and bloggers alike.

If you have a blog, or just want to see the list, click HERE!

Upcoming Contest!

Hello to all you lovely followers! So, we just want to thank you guys for following The Smarty Owl. It means a lot to us, for we just started about a week ago and we need all the support we can get. To show our excitement, we decided that once we get 50 followers, we'll have a contest to celebrate! Recruit all your friends so we can get up to 50 and possibly higher. Here's the fun part- every time the number of Smarty Owl followers increases by 50, we'll add another book. So, if we get 100 followers that would be 2 books. 150= 3 books and so on. We know you want a bunch of books and its easy to get them. Just spread the word about this blog. You can write in C-Boxes and like back to us, comment in other blogs, or whatever else you want to do that floats your boat.

More details will be available soon, and we'll officially set the contest dates and such when we get 50 followers. If you wish, leave a comment in the comment box to let us know what books you want to see in the contest and perhaps we'll be able to deliver what you want. Happy blogging and keep spreading the love :)

-- Okapi & Rica Eat World

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
Genre: YA Science-fiction
Target Audience: Teens - Adults
Number of Pages: Paperback - 216 pages

Just yesterday, I had concluded my adventure throughout the galaxy with Zaphod Beeblebrox- the president of the galaxy; Trillian- Zaphod’s girlfriend; Arthur Dent- your average earthling; Ford- a hitchhiker who came down to earth from his small home planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse; and Marvin- a highly intelligent yet clinically depressed robot. In a universe where bath towels are the most important aid one can own, you can expect many other crazy things in this book. The story begins with Arthur Dent and his little house in England, which is about to be demolished to make way for a new bypass. Abruptly and out of nowhere, Arthur’s friend Ford proclaims the end of the world. He is right. Right then, aliens blow up the Earth in to millions of pieces and disintegrate all its inhabitants. Fortunately since Ford knows about the demolition of the Earth in advance, he and Arthur are able to hitch a ride on the alien ship. Through a series of very improbable events, Arthur and Ford make their way into Zaphod and Trillian’s newly stolen ship, thus beginning their epic quest to the forgotten planet of Magrathea to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

First of all, let us not deceive you with misconceptions and false assumptions. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is not a so-called “guy book.” This is a whimsical novel for all to enjoy: boys, girls, and Magratheans alike.
Carrying on, I must say that I cannot give a solid confirmation on whether I like this book or not. We share a bit of a love-hate relationship.
An aspect that I truly marvel about in this novel is the real originality the story possesses. I honestly can’t name another title where you can find aliens who can’t read poetry, a pitiful sperm whale, a friendly and over-enthusiastic computer, and a crew of planet builders all jam-packed into this short, comical novel This leads us into another honorable aspect of the book.

The humor in which Adams presents actually made me chuckle, which is an accomplishment. I’m not saying that I rarely laugh, but merely noting how hard it is to try to crack successful jokes. Adams’ kind of humor is more suitable for more mature readers, for the large words that he tends to use might cause younger readers to get a little confused. The irony and randomness in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is what makes the book entertaining.

However, I feel like the author goes out of his way to try to make things funny and that causes him to get sidetracked. A lot of the times, he adds unnecessary segments that stir up confusion. In my perspective, the lengthy paragraphs he writes to make things funny causes the plot to become unorganized and sloppy and loses the reader’s focus. The book lacked a plot and combined with those excess portions, it became a bit difficult to read. Several times throughout my journey with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I found myself slumping more and slipping off into my own reveries.

Though the book is quite funny at some parts, and the ideas displayed are original, a real plot was absent and the book was story-deprived. I give this novel a 3.5/5 for originality and creativity, but I felt it could have been better. From seeing the film first, I expected the book to be quite funny. And yes, it did deliver that aspect yet the book was sloppily assembled. This is a light read for anyone who has an appetite for entertainment.

3/5 - I quite like the cover. I think it's cute and I would probably pick it up if i saw it in the bookstore. However, I'm not really sure what that green thing is on it. Is it a pea or what because I'm really not sure. It looks sort of like a vacationer with the whole camera and suitcase get-up so perhaps it is a hitchhiker? So basically, 3/5 for the attractive design, but I don't see how that pea thing connects to the story. I assure you that the book did not mention any peas.

On the contrary, the cover of the copy that I picked up from my local book sale was completely different. It was published by Ballatine Books and I give it 1.5 /5. The cover art is irrelevant, and frankly, it's just sort of ugly. The only reason I even picked it up was because I knew of the title from the movie. I know that you should never judge a book by its cover, but its just quite unappealing in my opinion. Have a look for yourself, to the right.

3.5 Hoots

Source: A small book sale held at my local library.

-Reviewed by Rica Eat World

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teaser Tuesday x 2

Rica Eat World and Okapi present you with another teaser packed Tuesday! Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading..

Rica Eat World is currently reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner, a fast paced page-turner starring a boy who wakes up in a maze with no memory of anything except his first name. Here's a little segment of it.

"Alby's arms stiffened, fist clenched. 'For all we know you were sent here to get us killed. Why should we trust you?' " - The Maze Runner by James Dashner, page 310

Okapi is currently reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, which she won from Erika's giveaway from her blog Moonlight Reviews. Thank you, Lauren and Erika!

"I read once that you get déjà vu when the two halves of your brain process things at different speeds: the right half a few seconds before the left, or vice versa. Science is probably my worst subject, so I didn't understand the whole article, but that would explain the weird double feeling that it leaves you with, like the world is splitting in half - or you are." - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, page 92

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Title: Fire
Genre: YA Fantasy
Target Audience: Older teens and adults (violence, sexual and dark themes)
Number of Pages: Hardcover - 480 pages

To the east of the lands in Graceling resides a kingdom called the Dells, a place where colorful monster animals roam among the normal ones. Monster animals can be distinguished by their vivid, dazzling colors; “A dappled gray horse in the Dells was a horse. A sunset orange horse was a monster.”  Though gifted with a terrible beauty, monsters are vicious and crave the flesh of both humans and other monsters, making them dangerous, feared foes of the citizens. Seventeen-year-old Fire, who has the ability to control minds and shock others with her impossible beauty, is the last human monster in the Dells. Easily identified by her flaming red hair, Fire experiences a tough childhood as a monster; she is equally loved and hated by the people, and her abilities terrify everyone.

Meanwhile, King Nash attempts to maintain his rickety rule over the Dells, while furtive rebel lords raise personal armies to unseat him and claim the throne. The land is teeming with bands of robbers and mysterious thieves, and nobody is safe. With war looming on the horizon, the royal family bestows Fire with the duty of uncovering a conspiracy to kill the king, by using her mental abilities to their advantage.  Along the way, Fire must face additional challenges including the quest for the approval and then heart of the prince, the problems that come with loving her late father, who was once the most hated man in the Dells, and facing the numerous people who believe that she is as cruel as he was.

Though this book is often called the prequel of Graceling, it's more of a companion novel, taking place in the same world though in a different land. Save for one important villain, Fire has an entirely different ensemble of characters than Graceling.  When I picked it up at the library, I expected to read some half-thought out prequel that would feed off the success and popularity of Graceling. However, instead of being a weak and watery novel, Fire is something else entirely; it would be extraordinary even if Graceling never existed. After a slow beginning, the pace speeds up as Cashore hurls readers into a fantastical world, where she spins an intricate story riddled with side plots. This book is marinated with medieval politics, and Cashore manages to portray the darker side of the court in an engaging manner.  It seems as though Cashore’s writing has improved since Graceling, though she still successfully manages to add tasteful details to the plot without tripping the fast-paced momentum.  

A vast array of characters, Cashore forgets about no one, giving personalities to a variety of people including the guards, maids, princes, soldiers, and even the horses. Fire, the protagonist with crimson hair, is extremely likeable; she is gentle, tough, independent, has good morals, and would never to flaunt her unwanted beauty. However, she seems ruled by her situations and her reactions rather than by her true personality; Cashore could have elaborated on her character a lot further. One of the most intriguing parts of this book was the relationship between Fire and her monster father Cansrel, who was once the most heartless person in the Dells before his death. Though Cansrel was a cruel, rabid murderer and rapist who basked in destruction, he truly loved his daughter. Fire loved and hated him at the same time, and her conflicting emotions fuel part of the story. Cashore exquisitely executes Fire’s haunting memories, using them to tell the tale of Cansrel, and though he is dead before the book begins, he is an artfully developed character. Later in the novel, a shocking secret about their relationship is revealed, thrusting Fire’s character and the reason for her motives into an entirely different light.

Leck, the only character also starring in Graceling, is an unnervingly creepy child, and as disturbed as I imagined him to be, complete with his two eerily different Graceling eyes. Fans of his role as king in Graceling may be disappointed to learn that he is not the main villain, though he does serve as a pivotal character for the plot. With such a cold demeanor, he mirrors a young Cansrel.

I was not partial to the romance between Fire and prince Brigan, since their relationship unfurled too quickly; they abruptly go from mortal enemies, to awkward, tentative friends, to lovers, without time to develop in between the stages. Prince Brigan was absent from the palace and the plot for the majority of the time, and I wish he could extended his stay in the pages.

Fire, though an individually strong novel, shares many aspects to its companion novel Graceling. For example, both books have similar female protagonists who yield an enormous amount of power; for Graceling’s Katsa, it is the ability to kill, and for Fire, it is ability to control minds. I often wonder which heroine would be victorious if the two ever battled, because they are both equally powerful in different ways and are weak where the other is strong. These two novels also focus on the humanizing of the protagonist and her inner journey on coming to terms with her own power, a hazardous journey, and a royal romance. Despite being similar, these books are very solid novels that will immerse you in their separate fantastical worlds. It should be kept in mind, that Fire is a lot darker than Graceling; it is full of rape, violance, and lust. Since these two novels are two similar, in my head, I can almost hear them demanding to be compared. Overall, though Fire is sensational, I prefer Graceling because its backbone consists of a strong, more character-driven plot, and it contains more action. I yearn for this duo on my bookshelf, along with Bitterblue, which is due in 2011. 

Overall, Fire is an astoundingly brilliant novel that is a seven course meal, since it consists of everything a book lover’s heart could desire: vexing mystery, romance, action, violence, intriguing characters, mythical places, and a layered plot that meanders into unexpected places. I would reccomend reading Graceling first, since that is the order it was published.

Cover (US Hardcover Edition): 4/5 - Though in fashion with Graceling, with the cover depicting a weapon and a gradient of one color, I prefer the cover of Fire. Though slightly mediocre amidst jungle of the bookstore, this cover is artfully designed, and pretty despite being a tad bit bland. There seems to be something sinister and mysterious lurking beneath the layers of crimson, caputuring the mood of this novel. My only complaint is that the bow on the cover pertains to Archer, Fire's friend, more than it pertains to Fire herself.

4 hoots

Source: School library and friendly librarian :).
 For a review of Graceling, click HERE

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Blogger Hop
Welcome to Book Blogger Hop!

It's a weekly event every Friday, where book bloggers from across the internet connect, allowing readers and writers alike to read new blogs.Go to Crazy for Books to enter your blog, connect with fellow bloggers, or just read whichever blogs your heart desires!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Genre: YA Fantasy
Target Audience: Teens and Adults (contains violence and mild sexual themes)
Number of Pages: Hardcover - 480 pages

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight--she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po's friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace--or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. Katsa and Po go on a dangerous quest to uncover one of the land’s most disturbing mysteries, and learn the truth of a twisted king. - Taken from

This book owes me pages of missing homework and three hours of lost sleep.

I stayed up into the wee hours of the night to finish Graceling. This vivid novel will always remain prominent in my mind; Graceling will never melt into the blur of YA fantasy. It is the type of book that I will be quite sorry to return to the library; I have the strong desire to place it on the prized section of my bookshelf. With a flawed yet likeable ensemble of characters, a fast-paced plot, and an original concept, Graceling is one of the top five YA novels of the year. The actual idea of Gracelings is amazing; it made me jealous that I didn’t think of it first. Gracelings are gifted with a supernatural power at birth, and the sign of this power is shown by eyes of two different colors. The Graces that Gracelings can be born with can be as useless as the ability to rotate one’s entire torso, or as powerful as the ability to read minds.

The characters are one of the strongest aspects of this book. Eighteen-year-old Katsa, the main character, is a fierce heroine who defies all weak women stereotypes. It’s quite refreshing to have a female protagonist who can protect herself and those around her, opposed those stereotypical, helpless women who never engage in a battle. Katsa’s character develops beautifully, and her mental journey is centered on her humanization and finding the ability to cope with love. In the early pages of the novel, Katsa reflects upon herself:

“She knew her nature. She would recognize it if she came face-to-face with it. It would be a blue-eyed, green-eyed monster, wolflike and snarling. A vicious beast that struck out at friends in uncontrollable anger, a killer that offered itself as a vessel of the king’s fury.” – page 137

Then we have Prince Po, who is a superb character. The only personal problem I have with him is his name – Whenever I read “Po”, two other people jump into my head: Po from Kung Fu Panda, which is sort of fitting since both characters are gifted in marshal art skills, and the more dissimilar one, Po from Teletubbies*. Besides that minuscule and forgivable downfall, the author executes the romance between Katsa and Po fantastically by letting their relationship develop naturally, not at all like the annoyingly unrealistic sudden-true-love-within-twenty-four-hours romance scenarios in Twilight.

Another aspect I like about this book is the villain. The author counters Katsa’s powerful ability to kill anybody she desires by gifting the villain with an equally powerful skill, causing the plot to take many extremely interesting turns. Surprising us with unsuspected movements of the storyline, this book is not as predictable as it may seem.

Though simple and clean, in some places, Cashore’s writing bothers me. It is slightly choppy, and I would not agree with the praise on the book's back that describes her writing as “elegant, evocative prose”. Fortunatly, the dazzling plot and characters outshine her mediocre writing. On the contrary, I noticed that Cashore manages to make her description, which is often the more boring part of a book, very exciting to read, sometimes by integrating it with the action. For example:

“She couldn’t believe the coldness of this passageway over the mountains. She couldn’t believe wind couldblow so hard and so insistently, without ever easing. Every breath of this air was a blade gouging into her lungs. Her arms, her legs, her torso, especially her hands – every part of her that was not covered with fur burned with cold, as if she had thrown herself into a fire.” – page 352

Cashore describes the freezing conditions while still engaging my attention, which is part of the reason why this book is such an addicting read!

In conclusion, this novel is a rich, well-blended medley of action-packed battles, violence, mystery, suspense, romance, heroism, snappy dialogue, and superpowers. If you have not read Graceling, go get it from your library, or even better: buy it! After finishing this book, fans will ravish down its prequel, Fire, and eagerly await the release of Bitterblue.

Cover Rating: 3.5/5 - I love the sword in the background and the color scheme, and the eye reflected in the sword adds more essence. Especially after reading the book, I realize that the pretty cover is quite well done, capturing the book's charm. Though it captures the feel of this novel, I wish it was more distinguished. Something about the cover reminds me of other fantasy novels, and I probably wouldn't pick it up if I was in a bookstore.

4.5 Hoots

Source: The school library and a friendly librarian who made me take the sequel Fire too. :) 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: Historical Fiction - 547 pages
Target Audience: Teens - Adults
Number of Pages: Paperback - 547 pages

Picture this, it is 1939 in Nazi Germany. A nine-year-old German girl is sitting on a train, on her way to 33 Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, to meet her new foster parents. While on the train, her six-year-old brother suddenly dies. By her brother's grave, she discovers a little black book, hidden among the piles of snow. She picks it up and holds it close. This was her first act of book thievery. Liesel Meminger is the book thief.
When she stole her first book, Liesel was illiterate. Thankfully, her accordion-playing foster father teaches her how to read and write. So begins Liesel's passion for books and words. Unable to buy books because of her poor state, she soon begins to steal any book she can get her hands on.
Life on Himmel Street ("Himmel" means heaven in German) proves to be a great place for Liesel. Her foster parents love her and so does her new best friend, Rudy Steiner. However, Germany was not a safe place in those days, and Liesel and her family are put into even greater danger when her German parents decide to shelter a Jew in their basement.

Narrated by Death himself, this is the story about friendship, war, love, thievery, guilt, and the power of words.

A vigorous page-turner, this book is one of the richest novels I have ever read. This thought-provoking novel was told masterfully and though tragic themes occur throughout the book, Zusak somehow manages to squeeze in little tidbits and segments of humor without masking the theme. The strong symbolism concealed behind simple words made me think, and looking back, the way he told the story was simply a work of brilliance and beauty. Zusak made real issues during the world war periods easier to comprehend. The voice expressed in this novel grasps the reader and causes them to read every word intently ( I sure did). Every so often when whisking away through the pages, I would stumble on some illustrations, and they captivated me and i was absorbed. They certainly added an extra element to the novel for they shake things up a little bit after reading hundreds of pages consisting of only words.

And I will congratulate Markus Zusak on a job well done when it comes to character development. The author's ability to make readers attached to the characters is definitely an accomplishment. My love for certain characters actually caused tiny tears to swell up in the corner of my eyes...and no worries, I won't give away any more about that :) As I had mentioned above, Death himself narrates the book and despite the stereotypes we have against him, in this novel, Death is more different and more complex than we think he is. Normally we assume he's a heartless being with no soul. Well, I'm not sure about the soul thing, but in this book, Zusak portrays him as a being who actually does feel pangs of sympathy for his 'clients' though he had been on the job for longer than anyone can imagine.

" Please, be calm, despite that previous threat.
I am bluster-
I am not violent.
I am not malicious.
I am a result."

From Liesel's foul mouthed foster mother, Rosa, to Hans the gentle foster father, and the lovable Rudy Steiner- who always made me smile to myself, and Max the courageous, honorable Jew, and finally Liesel, the mature, witty girl, all of The Book Thief's characters are something to smile, cry, and gasp in wonder at.

I rated this novel a 4/5 because it was truly amazing enough to deserve it. However, at parts, for me personally, the novel got a little bit slow especially towards the beginning. I understand that with almost all novels, the beginning is almost always a bit slower than the rest of the book, but i felt as though Zusak could have cut out some unnecessary parts. There were segments of the novel where upon finishing the book, I felt as though it was not needed and failed to really affect the story.

Overall, this compulsively readable book gets a big thumbs up. This is a great novel for people who, like Liesel Meminger, love books and words.

Cover: 3.5/5 - I personally enjoyed the cover. First of all I thought it was well designed artistically and second, this cover would have hooked me at the bookstore (if my mother hadn't bought my copy for me). Like the actual book, the cover has quite a bit of symbolism in it too. In our perspective (Okapi and I pondered about the symbolism in the cover for a bit), the dominoes represent the people, both Jewish and German, who are getting knocked down by the hand, who we think is a representation of Hitler using words to hurt people. Thus causing a whole chain reaction leading to death, violence, and hurt to many. Though such a strong message is portrayed in such a simple picture, we believe that the picture could relate to the book a bit more, and therefore our rating of a 3.5 out of 5.

4 hoots

Source: I read half the book using a borrowed copy from Okapi ( thanks by the way :]) and I read the other half using my own copy bought from T.J. Maxx.

--Reviewed by Rica Eat World

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesday x 2

Rica Eat World and Okapi present to you our first Teaser Tuesday, a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.. Since you're a lucky duck, you get two Teaser Tuesday excerpts; there's one from each of us.

Okapi is currently reading Fire by Kristin Cashore, the amazing prequel of Graceling. Here is her two-sentence tidbit:
Next, a team of hairdressers yanked and braided Fire's hair to distraction, exclaiming at the range of reds, oranges, and golds in her hair, its occasional astonishing strand of pink, its impossibly soft texture, its luminosity. It was Fire's first experience actually trying to improve her appearance. - Fire by Kristin Cashore, page 314

Look for a review of both Fire and Graceling in the coming week!

Rica Eat World is currently reading A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.. Her contribution:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. - A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, page 26

~ Love, Okapi and Rica Eat World ~

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Our Mailbox! ( What should we read first?)

In My Mailbox is a meme started by The Story Siren. We currently both have full mailboxes!

Okapi's Mailbox--

Yesterday, I attended a book sale, and managed to snag some cheap secondhand books! On top of that, I recently visited the library....and now I have a full mailbox!

Nearly Departed
When You Reach Me
Before I Fall
The Iron King
The Compound
The Other Boleyn Girl
The Alchemyst
The Devil's Paintbox
The Graveyard Book
The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Walking Backward
The Time Traveler's Wife
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Secret Life of Bees

Rica Eat World's Mailbox--

Hey! So I went to a book sale the other day ( in fact, i actually went with Okapi :]) and i too was able to "snag" some good reads. I'm currently reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so when that book gets checked off my list, i'll write a review for you guys :]

Paper Towns
A Prayer for Owen Meany
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Tender Morsels
The Maze Runner
Living Dead Girl
The Almost Moon
Lord of the Flies
The Reader

What should we we read first? Should we add anything next week to our mailboxes? Please post your comments! We won't bite ;)!

~ Love, Okapi and Rica Eat World ~