Notice for Review Requests

I receive review requests weekly. However, my personal schedule is hectic and I no longer review actively. (I also manage another blog called The Toronto Cafe and Food Blog). I do read every request sent but I apologize in advance that I do not reply to them all.

If I do take on a request, I will forewarn that it may take some time before I can review it. I am now looking to review adult fiction and self-help books instead of young adult fiction because I have grown out of it. If you are to request a review for either adult fiction or self-help, I will more likely to give it a shot.

In the meantime, Stop, Drop, and Read! serves as an archive book review blog. When I have the time, I may post a review. Thank you for understanding.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly

Title: The Brass Verdict
Author: Michael Connelly
Age Group: Adults
# of Pages: 422
My Rating: 3.5/5

In the world of law and courtrooms, there is one thing for certain: Everybody lies.

Mickey Haller finally comes back as a defense attorney after a couple of years of personal troubles. An old colleague of his, Jerry Vincent, has recently been murdered for unknown reasons. Jerry left behind all of his active cases to Mickey to handle if anything was to happen to him. Mickey lands on one of the biggest and most popular case yet: defending the Hollywood producer, Walter Elliot, who is accused of shooting both of his wife and her lover to death.

Come onto the scene is Harry Bosch, a detective who is ready to pounce the murderer. To do so, he needs information. Who better than to work with other than Mickey who has all of Jerry's case informations? Both of them have conflicting ideas when it comes to the law but would have to work together if they want to catch the killer. As time passes, the danger level increases. Will Mickey be next to be shot in the head?

There are a lots of law terms used but the writing language is quite easy to understand so if you are not a lawyer, you will still know what is going on. I never want to go into law because I hate to argue and having to memorize a hundred written rules. I am terrible when it comes to arguments, so I let the other person win all the time. But there are much more than just arguing for your client. This story reveals what happens behind the scenes within the courtrooms. Bribery, lies, and manipulation are used everywhere. So if you ever plan to become a big time criminal lawyer, be careful.

I didn't consider the story as a mystery genre. It lacks the suspense that makes it a mystery in my opinion. It is a good book but it goes at a slow pace and not much action until the end. Definitely interesting law facts though. You get to learn how dirty some lawyers and judges work.

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

School Rumble by Jin Kobayashi

Title: School Rumble
Jin Kobayashi
Age Group:
# of Pages: Approx. 170
# of Volumes:
My Rating:

Tenma Tsukamoto is madly in love with the simple Oji Karasuma but ever time she tries to confess, something foils her plans! Or she ends up messing it up herself!
Kenji Harima is a scary delinquent who likes Tenma very much. But every time he tries to get closer to her, something bad happens! As both of them try to score their love, many events happen in between. Unplanned situations, friends jump in, this and that, oh the drama!

This series setting is more or so goes on as a daily basis plot line. So everyday = new and random events. It evolves around every character within the manga, revealing a bit of their background each. It's very cute but I definitely recommend the anime. The anime is much funnier than the actual manga itself! Since the anime ended abruptly, I think the manga would be more suitable if you want to know what happens at the end (but I don't think the series have ended yet in Japan). There is a second season that recently came out so I would have to look that up also. So far what I've read, the manga and the anime stays close to each other. So no confusion whatsoever if you want to pick up one or the other.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The Devil Within by Ryo Takagi

Title: The Devil Within
Mangaka: Ryo Takagi
Age Group: Older Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 2
My Rating: 5/5

Rion stumbled onto an uncensored film when she was a young girl that belonged to her father. Being traumatized for life, she grows up to believe that all men are devils! She then grows to have a shota complex (meaning, she "likes" younger boys).

Rion is missing her childhood friend and first love, Ko-kun, when she accidentally bumps into an adorable boy who looks exactly like him! The new boy lives on the floor under her in her apartment by the name of Tenshi (also known as "angel" in Japanese") Kogi and Rion just have discover her newfound love!

All happy and giddy, she came home to find that her father have found three suitors for her! And she must choose one of these handsome teenage guys as her husband! What to do when all of your life you shun the older opposite sex?? Add a little twist with some supernatural causes and you have chaos!

This manga totally appealed to me by a long shot. In a sense, it is more of a pleasure manga where you get to oogle at the hot character drawings. Haha, which I say I love most in my mangas. The plot is quite simple so I don't suggest it if you are not into the quick stuff with a jam of random bishonen (beautiful boys). I am so happy that there are only two volumes in this series and I am totally getting the second one when I go to the anime store this weekend! I am also going to check out the mangaka yaoi (boy x boy) works also cause this one have convinced me to totally pick up the rest of her (his?) works!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Detective Jermain by Misako Rocks!

Title: Detective Jermain
Mangaka: Misako Rocks!
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 140
# of Volumes: Second in process
My Rating: 3.5/5

Jermain has a "detective" side of her, just like her father who died during a case when she was young. It is now the last year of high school, she and her two best guy friends, Andy and Travis, now have to look forward to what they want to do after.

Then things started to get strange around the school. First, Mike, the best player in the band quit without notice. When asked about it, the music teacher snaps at Jermain. She finds them together with the chemistry teacher after school and Mike does not remember her whatsoever. Right after Jermain comes home, Mike and the teacher died in a car crash that made the news!

Everything is becoming even more suspicious when most students in the school starts to daze out like Mike did. It is up to Jermain, Travis, and Andy to find out before everyone become zombie like!

This is the third comic by Misako Rocks! and the first time I've ever heard of her. Starting with the art. I have been a manga fan for about four years and when it comes to artwork, it usually tells me how much I would like the manga itself. Of course, it does not always happen but I'm usually more than 50% correct with my predictions. I can't help but say it looks a bit amateur-like to me. I did look up on Misako Rocks! site and see that her artwork is adorable but it seemed to me that she did not put a lot of time in Detective Jermain. Andy's hair makes me very mad. Sometimes you like the art, sometimes you don't. That is what I get when I read it. Misako Rocks! did post up some sample pages of the second volume and the artwork did improve. Plotwise, I find the ending predictable. Quite actually. It's a very light read. I may look into her second release of the series.

Review copy provided by Henry Holt and Company.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Savvy Girl by Lynn Messina

Title: Savvy Girl
Author: Lynn Messina
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 252
My Rating: 5/5

Christina (Chrissy) Gibbons is one of four lucky teens to be chosen to get an internship at her favourite magazine, Savvy. The goal is to complete an original article within a month to become Savvy's first teen columnist. Eager, she tries to work on it but nothing comes to mind. Instead, she gets to go to many posh parties along with her idol/fashion editor, Jessica. Not to mention she is trying to charm Mr. Handsome, Michael. With all some many glamourous places to attend, who could focus?

During the course of an thrilling month, Chrissy learns about the power of friendship, honesty, and personality. To be caught in between deadlines and invites, would she be able to pull through?

This book is defintitely a great teen girl's novel that involves the fashion industry. I have read a couple in the past but they weren't as strong as this one. I think the author balances out the story nicely with different elements, like character development and drama. She doesn't go overboard with anything and I really like that. Though I wish her relationship and Mr. X (better read to see who!) is a bit more emphasized. Definitely a recommended read for all girls who enjoys realistic stories with a glamour touch.

Won copy from Book Divas.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Author Interview: Alisa M. Libby

Author of The Blood Confession and soon to be published, The King's Rose, I present Alisa M. Libby! She is kind to give me a quick author interview! Thank you Ms. Libby! Please check her fabulous stories out!

First, when did you decide that being a writer was the perfect occupation for you?

Since childhood I felt the urge to write; it’s always been a part of who I am. As a kid I dreamed of being a writer, but I didn’t necessarily know what that meant or what a career in writing would be like.

Were there any other careers that you were planning to go into? What were your previous occupations?

Growing up I had other ideas (sometimes brief) for what I wanted to do as an adult: an actress, a professional trumpet player, an archaeologist (I definitely went through an Egyptian phase). While these and other obsessions came and went, writing was always something I did – either writing in a journal or writing poetry, short stories, or attempts at writing novels.

In the two novels that you have written so far, they are both based on historical events. What prompted you to write stories set in the 16th century?

I never imagined that I would write historical fiction, and at first didn’t make a conscious decision to do so. That said, I think all writers are heavily influenced by what we read, and as a pre-teen I read a book about Lady Jane Grey that enthralled me and moved me to tears. I’ve often been drawn to particular characters in history, or curious about what someone’s daily life was like in Medieval England or Renaissance Europe or ancient Greece…what did they do, wear, eat, read, think about?

When I was a teenager I came across the legend of Countess Bathory, a 16th century countess who believed that bathing in the blood of virgins would preserve her youth and beauty for eternity. I was terrified by this story, and even more so by the fact that the Countess actually existed and was imprisoned for her crimes. The Countess became the inspiration for my first novel, The Blood Confession. Though I fictionalized much of her story in order to create an inner “logic” (deranged though it may be) for committing the murders, I decided that the time, place, and circumstances for this character—the daughter of nobility in 16th century Hungary—was vital to the story.

Are you soon to release another novel? If so, can you give us a summary of your upcoming novel?

The King’s Rose is my second book, which will be published by Dutton Books in March 2009. It tells the story of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII of England. Catherine was a pretty, vivacious teenage girl when she caught the eye of one of the most powerful kings in history. But after just over a year of marriage Catherine was accused of having an affair with one of the king’s grooms—similar accusations had already cost Henry’s previous wife, Anne Boleyn, her life. As with my first book, the question of “what was she thinking?” inspired me; I was compelled to create a way to understand (if not condone or agree with) Catherine’s risky behavior.

If you were to enter the mind of anyone in the world at any time period, who would it be and why so?

I would love to visit the real people that I’ve written about, particularly Catherine Howard: Did she really have an affair while married to the King of England? Did she really think she wouldn’t be caught? As for Countess Bathory, I don’t think I want to enter her thoughts for fear that she really was the mass-murderess many historians claim her to be. She was fascinating to write about, but that’s as close to her as I want to get.

Lastly, give us an interesting fact about yourself! Maybe even a secret! (We won't tell!)

I lived in a castle in Holland for one semester in college—the castle was said to be haunted, but I never saw the resident ghost. I love ice cream (this isn’t really a secret) and consider it a part of my writing process. Also, for a while now I’ve struggled with some form of writer’s block, but I’m trying to claw my way out of it and back to inspiration. For more musings about the writing life, visit my blog:

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Title: Project 17
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 248
My Rating: 3.5/5

Danvers State Hospital is an asylum for the insane. It opened up more than a century ago and closed down in 1992. This asylum rumours to be haunted as of now it is abandoned for more than a decade. Within a week, it will be destroyed so new condos could be built upon the area.

Enter Derik LaPointe, an inspired director-to-be. He thinks this is the perfect time for him to jump at the chance, filming a reality document at Danvers. He plans on winning a film contest, a ticket out of taking over his parents' diner. Bring in five other classmates, all with their own reason to be in the film. They all sneak into the asylum at the dead of night. Except they got more than they bargained for.

Since this is a horror story, I expected it to be much more "horror-like". I started reading it last night at 11 PM, so I managed to read it in a scared mindset. There is this one part that really creeps me out and that is when Derik discovers a doll hanging from the noose in the middle a room that starts talking. But after that, it is not so creepy anymore, which isn't very fun because horror stories are supposed to scare you. I think that the author could be more descriptive in her writing. I'm sure it would be scarier if she describes the scenes more thoroughly. But indeed there are some "moments" where you get slight chills down your spine. What also could have been better is if she wrapped up the story more nicely. There are a few questions in my head that goes unanswered. Like, why did the place closed down? Or why did Christine Belle (a patient at the asylum who also has a similar name to my own character, Christie Bella Dang) ended up in there? This is more or so a fun read where you can speed through.

Won copy from Brooke Taylor Books.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools by Philip Caveney

Title: Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools
Author: Philip Caveney
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 338
My Rating: 4.5/5

Sebastian Darke is a half-breed. Son to an elven mother and human father. His father is a famous and successful jester that gave his family a life of luxury for many years. Those days now have gone when he died and Sebastian is out to seek employment as a jester in King Septimus's court. Sadly enough, he is the least comical guy around!

Sebastian takes his family buffalope, Max, to travel all the way to the King Septimus palace. He encounters Captain Cornelius, a dwarfish man but one of the strongest warrior you would ever find around. He accompanies with them, also seeking for employment since his last job had a height restriction.

Shortly after, they rescue Princess Kerin, niece of King Septimus and soon-to-be queen, from the rowdy Brigands. Except it wasn't an unexpected raid. Instead, it was a death plot planned by King Septimus to rid of Kerin who was in the way of his throne!

Though who would try to get in the way of a king with a powerful army? A fool maybe?

These days, you don't find a lot of damsel-in-distress, fairy tale styled stories. I enjoyed this one, can't wait to pick up the second one. It reminds me of those Disney movies I watched when I was a kid. Except now that I'm older, I don't watch them so much anymore. I really liked how Kerin's character developed towards the end. It was a bit disappointing but since there is a sequel, I don't mind so much about conclusion. I adore Sebastian's name. It's so simple, yet uncommon. I suggest this books to all fairy tale lovers and those who misses their youthful TV days. This book gives you a great bloody, Disney-seque story.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Captive Hearts by Matsuri Hino

Title: Captive Hearts
Mangaka: Matsuri Hino
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: Approx. 200
# of Volumes: 5
My Rating: 3.5/5

Megumi Kuroishi is a university student who have been living a luxurious life for the past two years. It was because for many generations, his family served the prosperous Kogami family and gained their trust. When the recent Kogami family left to China many years ago, they were proclaimed dead and Megumi's father receive their mansion because of the master's will. All is well until he found out their only daughter survived. Good-bye future fortune!

When Suzuka Kogami first appeared, Megumi is found kneeling in front of her to welcome her home and started calling her Princess! He is weirded out that he was acting like a servant when he have done nothing of that sort for the Kogami family who was gone fourteen years ago! He found out from his father that their ancestor, Kuronekomaru, tried to steal an heirloom scroll from the Kogami family. When he opened it up, him and his family (including descendants) was cursed to serve the Kogami family forever by the Dragon God guarding the scroll!

Suzuka is a sweet girl and does not wish for Megumi to follow her around like crazy due to the curse. Is there a way for Megumi to rid the curse? How would their relationship work out if they do?

In the beginning, I read it through it so quickly that I had to read it again slowly so I could do this review. It shows that this is one of the mangas were you have to pause to read. This is Matsuri Hino's debut manga and to say it wasn't as great as MeruPuri. I'm not sure if I would consider it better than Vampire Knight or the other way around. (One of her most recent series still in publishing. I may or may not do a review on it). There are cute parts within the manga but I think the storyline went a little to quickly for my liking. MeruPuri was the same but that was the start of the second volume, which is good because most of the time some series start to get boring after the first volume. Hence, since this first volume went by so fast, I don't think it the second volume need to be made at all! There are a couple of loose strands that the second volume may clear it but it is not the ones that bother the heck out of you. A cute read but you would have to catch your breath to read it or else you would get lost. The first volume contains two short stories at the end.

Review copy provided by Viz.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Skinned by Robin Wasserman

Title: Skinned
Author: Robin Wasserman
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 361
My Rating: 5/5

Advance to the future from now. How far ahead are you looking at? What do you think the world is like then?

The setting of the future for this story is when the world is polluted, nature ceases to exist, and you would always be hooked up to the network. Cities like Chicago does not exist and digital cameras are ancient history. Now you can genetically engineer what your future babies would look like and if you got enough credit, you can buy yourself anything in the world.

Life is completely fabulous for Lia Kahn. She is rich, beautiful, and popular. How typical huh? Another Gossip Girl story with a future twist? Oh no, definitely not.

Lia have agreed to her younger sister, Zoie, that she would take her place at the daycare she works at. Cars of the future drives on its own as long as you give them the right coordinates. With the fancy technology, they can avoid all other vehicles as long as they are programmed correctly. It usually isn't faulty... until now.

Lia's car read that the street was clear when a truck came the other way. She died in a fatal accident. Or so she thought. The next thing she knew she was in a mechanical body that is supposed to look human but is not. Every concept of her brain is mapped out into a virtual one that belongs to what people called the robotic body a "Skinner." Now she is trying to fit back into society. But how can you do so when everyone consider you only a fake human replica, not deserving to be treated as a real human?

In the beginning, it was a bit slow with Lia trying to adjust to her new life but after a few more chapters, it totally gripped me. There were many different topics that came to my mind when I was reading it. One that really bothered me the most: Designing your child. In the story, you can map out their entire appearance, all the way to certain abilities. You can make the children perfect or really intelligent, or even both if you have enough credit. In the story, everyone is very conceited and appearances is everything. Why would you do that? I would never want to have a child that I made up like a doll. I rather let natural causes come to play and I get what I get. Of course I would get rid of all possible diseases within their genes but other than that, I prefer things to flow naturally.

What else I took into mind: Unfair judgment. It is like racism all over again. People treated those who became skinners as objects. Of course this is a very controversial topic. Since the bodies are man-made, they are not considered people. Then again, the minds have been scanned into these bodies know that they were once human. Skinners does not have a "free will", so says the Faithers (religious people). They can't say that because what if the god they believe all so much in is pulling their strings?

This is an amazing book. Not only do you pity, hate, and love the characters but also it gives you some things to think about. Books that actually makes you question things are great ones. I think this is the first book I actually took some of the topics out of and thought a bit about it. It deals with trying to understand who you are and fighting between the reality and your own beliefs. Go read it. Which side would you be on?

Review copy provided by
Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Title: Into the Wild
Author: Jon Krakauer
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 207
My Rating: 3/5

This book is based on a true story of a man by the name of Chris McCandless. Chris is a young man who died around the age of twenty-four years old. He was very intelligent and excelled beyond his age when he was young. He came from a well-done family from the United States, with his father working for NASA.

Chris was always a bit different than other boys. He questioned about life and loved nature. He had a rebellious personality but yet, he charmed everyone who talked to him. He had a family problem but yet he loved his younger sister, Carine, very much. He lived life filled with knowledge, yearning to learn more about what the outside world was like.

Right after Chris graduated from university, he suddenly packed up his things and left home. He embarked a journey to Alaska, a way to fulfill his life. At the end, he died of starvation. This is the story of his life until the very end.

Personally, I found the book a bit boring. I'm not the type to read biographies of others unless I am really interested. (Yet to discover if it would ever happen). I read this for English because it is mandatory and I was hoping for a better read because the teacher commented that most of the students from last year loved it. In terms of writing style, I find it quite good; though I did not like the big words and complicated language that the author uses sometimes. Though in the end, I was moved by the last couple of pages when they talked about how Chris's parents visited his death place. I found it touching. If you like to view what a life of another person is or was like, you might like this novel.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

Title: The King's Rose
Author: Alisa M. Libby
Age Group: Teens
# of Pages: 299
My Rating: 4.5/5

Catherine Howard is just a regular fifteen years old girl, until her family placed her in front of King Henry VIII. They have molded her into a desirable girl for the king. He soon enough marries her, making her queen. The king was told things he wants to hear and believes he is marrying a pure girl. Without any freedom, Catherine does what is told of her, trying to maintain her ideal image. She is in desperate for an heir to keep herself on the throne. Afraid to be like her infamous cousin, Anne Boleyn, would she be able to lie her way out of death?

Catherine is one of the most interesting character I have encountered in a book. (The person herself was real, but the way the author created her in the story is compelling!) She is about my age but to see what she thinks makes you wonder if you would be the same in her position. So many different enemies around you and your head can be lopped off any second, it is extremely terrifying! The King's Rose brings you to a world full of lies and jewels, keeping you locked onto every word.

Review ARC copy provided by Book Divas.

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