Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Kid Who Never Slept and Never Had To: By D. C. Pierson

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To


When Darren Bennett meets Eric Lederer, there's an instant connection. They share a love of drawing, the bottom rung on the cruel high school social ladder, and a pathological fear of girls. Soon they're collaborating on a comic book that becomes a series of graphic novels that becomes a movie trilogy before they've actually put pen to paper. Then Eric reveals a secret: He doesn't sleep. Ever. When word leaks out about Eric's condition, he and Darren suddenly find themselves on the run from mysterious forces. Is it the government trying to tap into Eric's mind, or is there something else Eric hasn't told Darren? It could be that not sleeping is only part of what he's capable of, and the truth is both better and worse than they could ever imagine.


The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To was a much different book than I thought it was going to be. I thought this book was going to be a funny and poignant coming of age story with the possibility of some zany adventure, something along the lines of I Love You, Beth Cooper. And while it is a coming of age story and there are strange and mysterious adventures that occur in the story, the book really isn’t about that.

Instead The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To is the sad and heartbreaking story of a kid who, in the midst of teenage hormones and anger, revealed his best friends secret, exposing his friend forever to a life of pain and suffering. This is the story of their journey from friend, to enemy, to greatest regret. And how years later one boys actions changed the world.

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To is a young adult science fiction novel that contains an incredibly strong and moving story. The characters are interesting and the story moves at a pretty good pace, but what stuck me the most was the genuine sadness and strong emotions that emanated from the narrative. This emotion really strikes home with the reader making the short novel into so much more than it appears.

Of course The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To didn’t escape without a few faults. It has moments that are just plain boring, the brother and friend characters are poorly written, and the issue of materializing objects comes much to late in the story.

And yet this book was still a good read. While it may not win any awards, it certainly was emotionally charged and had its share of fun adventurous moments. And because of these I would recommend The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To to teenagers who want to read a good book with a sad ending.


6 out of 10



PUBLISHED: January 26, 2010

PRICE: $14.00

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Adamantine Palace By: Stephen Deas

The Adamantine Palace


The power of the Realms depends on its dragons. With their terrifying natures, they are ridden by the aristocracy and bred for hunting and war. But as dangerous political maneuverings threaten the complacency of the empire, a single dragon has gone missing. And even that one dragon-returned to its full intelligence and fury-could spell disaster for the Realms...


I’ve been excited to read The Adamantine Palace ever since I first read the synopsis on Amazon a few weeks ago. Now, after reading The Adamantine Palace I can say it doesn’t disappoint.

The Adamantine Palace’s plot contains an exhilarating mix between political subterfuge and the fantastical rebellion of both dragons and outlanders, the people that live outside the kingdoms. These two plot lines mixed seamlessly throughout the book, and the process of jumping back and forth between the different characters offers an interesting and insightful viewpoint into what the other characters are thinking, showing like real life people don’t know everything that is going on.

But what I like most about The Adamantine Palace was the level of excitement that accompanies each moment of the book. This excitement grows with each page causing the reader to literally sit at the edge of their seat waiting for the exciting conclusion.

In fact, the only thing I found a problem with was the immense number of characters that the book switches between in the first few chapters. I initially found this confusing and felt it detracted from the overall story. This is of course rectified as the book continues and as characters die off, but it can be a tad daunting for readers who have just started the book.

Of course for all its benefits and flaws, this book is part of a series and so the reader is left with more questions than answers at the end of The Adamantine Palace. But the foundation is set and the anticipation palpable, and I, myself can’t wait for the sequel The King of the Crags.


Publisher: Roc

Published: February 2, 2010

Price: $24.95

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors By: Francisco Stork

The Last Summer of
the Death Warriors


When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his last days fully--ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be;

and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life.


The Last Summer of the Death Warriors follows Pancho, a recently made orphan, who is determined to find and kill the man who killed his sister, Rosa. Because of this and his grief for his sister, Pancho is rage filled and hateful of life. Enter DQ, an intelligent and charismatic boy staying at St. Anthony’s orphanage who loves life more than anyone else Pancho has ever met. DQ also happens to be dying from cancer.

Through their forced friendship the two boys begin the healing process as they travel the state in search for a cure for DQ’s disease. Through this odyssey they encounter family members, murderers, and lovers. And it is through this journey that they both will learn the importance of striving for the life of a Death Warrior.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is a stunning work of genius. Through endearing characters, enchanting dialogue, and exhilarating plot lines, Francisco Stork has created a riveting tale of grief, life, love, and death, that will captivate readers worldwide.

But what most impressed me was Stork’s character development throughout The Last Summer of the Death Warriors. Both Pancho and DQ undergo realistic dramatic changes in personality throughout the story. From DQ’s innocent yet crushing realization that the Death Warrior Manifesto is an idealistic dream, to Pancho’s progression through grief and rage over his sister’s murder. This development while striking when looked at from beginning to end is done with a subtlety that only a master story tell such as Francisco Stork could achieve.

But Stork has taken the character development a step further than even this, as he shows the development of attraction between Pancho and Marisol from Pancho’s perspective. While this may not sound like much, it was truly awe inspiring how Stork slowly brought Marisol into focus through Pancho’s eyes. From when he first meets her, proclaiming “She’s nothing to write home about.” To the end of the transformation when they kiss and Pancho describes it as “just enough to taste the future.”

All in all this book was an amazing read, and I would recommend it to any fan of young adult literature, as this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long while.


PUBLISHER: Scholastic

PUBLISHED: March 1, 2010

PRICE: $17.99

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life By: Steve Almond

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life


Drooling fanatic, n. 1. One who drools in the presence of beloved rock stars. 2. Any of a genus of rock-and-roll wannabes/geeks who walk around with songs constantly ringing in their ears, own more than 3,000 albums, and fall in love with at least one record per week.

With a life that’s spanned the phonographic era and the digital age, Steve Almond lives to Rawk. Like you, he’s secretly longed to live the life of a rock star, complete with insane talent, famous friends, and hotel rooms to be trashed. Also like you, he’s content (sort of) to live the life of a rabid fan, one who has converted his unrequited desires into a (sort of) noble obsession.

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life traces Almond’s passion from his earliest (and most wretched) rock criticism to his eventual discovery of a music-crazed soul mate and their subsequent production of two little superfans. Along the way, Almond reflects on the delusional power of songs, the awkward mating habits of drooling fanatics, and why Depression Songs actually make us feel so much better. The book also includes:

• sometimes drunken interviews with America’s finest songwriters
• a recap of the author’s terrifying visit to Graceland while stoned
• a vigorous and credibility-shattering endorsement of Styx’s Paradise Theater
• recommendations you will often choose to ignore
• a reluctant exegesis of the Toto song “Africa”
• obnoxious lists sure to piss off rock critics

But wait, there’s more. Readers will also be able to listen to a special free mix designed by the author, available online at, for the express purpose of eliciting your drool. For those about to rock—we salute you! (


Just to be up front, I did not think Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life would be a good book. I thought it sounded like some obsessive fan rambling about their favorite tiny nuances of obscure bands throughout history. Now that I’ve read it, I can say Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life is nothing like that. While the book does contain numerous lists of bands and songs that Almond obviously spent considerable time contemplating, it also contains a heartfelt story of an endearing and lovable narrator who is willing to do anything to be involved in his dream industry. This engaging narration style makes this book into so much more, surprising readers with a depth rarely seen in these kinds of books.

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life is the story of an avid fan or a “Drooling Fanatic” as it’s referred to in the book, and his experiences in the world of music. But this book is so much more than random facts and questions such as “is Dave Grohl better than Kurt Cobain? (which Almond strongly feels he is.)”. Instead Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life details the story of a man’s journey of recognizing his dream, nurturing it in the only way he can, through fandom, and ultimately growing as a person through his experiences.

Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life contained a much more relatable story than I ever expected. The tone of the book was genuine yet humorous, the narrator introspective yet relatable, and the story ultimately interesting and fun to read.

That said, this book is not perfect, there are still countless lists that seem excessive, and numerous references to obscure bands that no longer exist, that make this book seem boring to a “non-drooling fanatic” But these problems are miniscule and easily to gloss over, leaving the true essence of the book easy to enjoy.

This book will appeal to anyone who has ever listened to a song on the radio and wished they were up there singing with the band, but it will also appeal to those who enjoy reading memoirs and reveling in the tales of others. Because of this and the interesting nature of the book, I believe many different types of people would enjoy this book, and so I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.


PUBLISHER: Random House

PUBLISHED: April 13, 2010

PRICE: $23.00

Unknown: Outcast Book 2 By: Rachel Caine

Unknown: Outcast Season Book 2


Living among mortals, the djinn Cassiel has developed a reluctant affection for them-especially for Warden Luis Rocha. As the mystery deepens around the kidnapping of innocent Warden children, Cassiel and Luis are the only ones who can investigate both the human and djinn realms. But the trail will lead them to a traitor who may be more powerful than they can handle...


Rachel Caine is a spectacular author. Not only is she incredibly prolific, but she gives each of her books the special attention needed to make them captivating and intriguing to audiences world wide. That said Caine did not disappoint with Unknown.

Unknown is set in the same universe as Caine’s Weather Warden series and is the second book in Outcast Season series. Because of this I would recommend readers read the first book in the Outcast series and possibly the Weather Warden series as well before reading Cain’s newest novel. While this seems like a considerable effort to read two series before reading this book, let me say it will be worth it. For while Caine does recap and give general descriptions of her characters and the situations they’re in, one of the best qualities about Cain’s books are their intricate plot lines which tend to build throughout entire series. These intricate plots also can’t be fully appreciated in a half page recap of the story presented in the beginning of the book.

As for Unknown itself, it’s full of passion, action, and memorable characters. And it’s these gripping characteristics will captivate the reader throughout the entire book. Until Caine resolves the end in her customary cliff hanger, forcing the reader to remain in a state of constant anticipation until the next book in the series, Unseen, is released.

Unknown and the Outcast series are great books that are a must read for any fan of urban fantasy.



PUBLISHED: February 2, 2010

PRICE: $7.99

Friday, February 5, 2010

Anne Hathaway Interview

One of my contacts emailed this interview to me. Enjoy!!!

Hathaway currently stars as the White Queen in Tim Burton's epic 3D fantasy adventure “ALICE IN WONDERLAND.”

Q: Is this an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s books?

A: This is “Alice in Wonderland” 10 years later. The story isn’t the same. And in re-reading the book in preparation for the film, I noticed that a lot of it is Alice trying to figure out who she isn’t by process of elimination. She knows that she isn’t all the things that people are saying that she is, and so, by going through all of them, she gets a better idea of what she is. And in the Tim Burton “ALICE IN WONDERLAND,” Alice is trying to name who she is without using the process of elimination in a similar way. There’s a great line in it, where someone says, “You seem like Alice, but you’ve lost your muchness.” That’s my favorite line. So I think if the book is about Alice exploring her imagination, this one is about Alice finding her soul.

Q: Why have his books been enjoyed for generations?

A: In my opinion, what makes a great book is something that is universally specific. I didn’t read the “Alice” books when I was a child. I read them when I was in college. I was really into Nabokov, and apparently, he was really into Lewis Carroll, so I thought it was a good idea. So I read it from the perspective of a young woman becoming a woman—and I really related to it, the idea that you’re never the right size, that you could drink something to make you feel smaller, or eat something to make you feel bigger. I remember that it just appealed to me because I understood it. On the surface, it’s kind of light and fantastical, but it actually does play into a lot of deep, psychological fears we have—inadequacies that we feel we have, insecurities, the way we relate to the world around us. And in Wonderland, the world is hyper-emotional. It doesn’t make sense. People don’t make logical, emotional sense, and people feel things very, very grandly, and it’s just full of contrarians. So then, you have this young girl—who’s quite sensible, especially for a young girl—navigating her way through it. Sometimes, you feel like you’re the supporting cast of characters, the Wonderland crew, and then other times, you feel like you’re Alice. Like I said, when something is that universally specific—universal enough that it’s just a great, entertaining story, but specific enough that you can find yourself in it and relate to it at different points in your life—I think that could possibly explain why people keep going back to it.

Q: Why are Carroll’s characters such great fodder for film?

A: One of the reasons why Lewis Carroll’s characters work so well in cinema is because they’re wildly imaginative and there’s no one way to interpret them. Because Lewis Carroll played around with words and concepts, and because the characters appeal to the imagination, I feel there are as many interpretations as there are imaginations in the world. It depends on what your take is.

Q: And why are the characters also great for a Tim Burton movie?

A: One of the reasons why “ALICE IN WONDERLAND” and Tim are such a great match is because nothing is exactly as it seems in Wonderland. Nothing is entirely good or entirely bad. There’s a mixture of life and texture and intention, and I think that’s something with which Tim is really comfortable. And if you look throughout his filmography, nothing is ever what it appears to be or should be. So, I think in that sense, living in the questions, the ambiguity, but also the specificity of the world—these are things in which Tim excels as filmmaker. I believe the filmmaker and the subject matter complement each other really beautifully in this film.

Q: Describe the character you play.

A: I play the White Queen. When I was trying to work her out, I kept saying to myself, ‘She is a punk-rock, vegan pacifist.’ So I listened to a lot of Blondie, I watched a lot of Greta Garbo movies, and I looked at a lot of the artwork of Dan Flavin. Then a little bit of Norma Desmond got thrown in there, too. And she just kind of emerged. And I really like her. When I first came onboard the project, Tim talked a lot about the relationship between the sisters, and that really opened the character up to me a lot. She comes from the same gene pool as the Red Queen. She really likes the dark side, but she’s so scared of going too far into it that she’s made everything appear very light and happy. But she’s living in that place out of fear that she won’t be able to control herself. There’s a lot to play around in. It was awesome. I had so much fun.

Q: Why did you want to be in this film and play this role?

A: I’m just going to be a gushy fan for a second. I love Tim Burton—he’s one of my all-time favorite filmmakers. For as long as he’s been making films, I’ve been going to them opening weekend. And I watch them again and again on DVD. I love his aesthetic. I love his ability to pace as a filmmaker, his comfort with things that are kind of odd—he also finds a way to ground them. I think it’s very unusual to find a filmmaker who isn’t trying to be different for the sake of being different, to show you something you’ve never seen, but is actually yearning to stretch the limits of his imagination. So everything Tim does comes from a very pure place. And I think that’s why his movies, in spite of the sometimes off-beat subject matter, have such heart. I love that. “Alice” itself is such a classic, amazing story, and it has been told so many times—but when I heard the combination Tim Burton/”ALICE IN WONDERLAND,” I knew it was going to be a very specific, very wonderful adventure. I love my character. I love that she seems to be the voice of reason—you’d think that she would be the good queen. But she didn’t have to be. I really had a lot of fun playing around with this idea, that what’s good in Wonderland is not necessarily good in the real world.

Q: Describe what she does with her hands, and the way that she walks.

A: That was absolutely derivative from the costume because, [costume designer] Colleen Atwood, who’s just such a genius, made this dress that has so much detail to it, that’s so complex, but it doesn’t look at all heavy. It looks like if you didn’t attach a weight to it, that it would float up into the air and spin around. And I noticed the way the dress moved when I was in it. It was never my intention to create a perfect light. I just wanted her to arrive in certain places, and in my head I just thought, the way she walks, she occasionally bumps into things and doesn’t know how she got there. And she’s a little dopey and kind of ditzy, but at the same time, very clued in. And so, the walk just happened. I took very, very fast footsteps, and I noticed the more languid I could make my arms, the more it looked like I was gliding. And that’s when the Norma Desmond thing happened. I remember being really nervous about the first take. And I did it and Tim smiled, so it was nice. That’s the feeling on set. ‘Show me your imagination. Show me how far you can take this.’ And I always had absolute trust that if it went too far, Tim would pull it back. He actually has a story in his head that he wants to tell. So usually what would happen, it would be some kind of combination of straightforward story and imaginary weirdness. And it was just nice the way it all fit together.

Q: What’s going on with the White Queen when we first meet her?

A: The White Queen has had her crown taken from her, and she’s basically powerless to stop her sister’s reign of tyranny. Her sister is the Red Queen. And so, she is waiting. She’s basically taken a vow of non-violence that she cannot break, and she’s waiting for her champion to arrive to help her reclaim her throne—the citizens of Underland would like to see that happen. They want to see her restored to power, because she’s kind.

Q: What is the relationship between the White Queen and the Red Queen?

A: The relationship between the White Queen and the Red Queen is not good. They are sisters, but I don’t think it was ever particularly good. I just think that my character would never admit that she doesn’t like her sister. I think she tries to make excuses for her. She tries to find little things to love about her, but she really doesn’t that much. I think, from her perspective, if the Red Queen were just a bit nicer to her—allow the possibility that they could be friends, allow the room for love—that she would be willing to give over to it. But the Red Queen just rubs her the wrong way. They’re not buddies—they’re just related.

Q: Who plays the Red Queen?

A: Helena Bonham Carter, in addition to being one of the most brilliant women I’ve ever had the pleasure to talk to, is so much fun as the Red Queen. She has so much energy that she gives to it. And her characterization is so lovely and demanding, not child-like but childish, and selfish and impossible to please. Then, at other times, she’s really vulnerable and sad, because this person is going to be lonely forever, because she’s just so darn selfish. She’s endlessly entertaining in the role. Her look and the dedication that it takes—three, four hours to get into that hair and makeup.

Q: Talk about the actor who plays The Mad Hatter.

A: The actor who plays the Mad Hatter, Johnny Depp—I have so much fun watching him in all of his movies as an audience member, so to actually get to watch him perform live is such a treat. He’s so inventive—and he’s kind, just a very kind, warm man. But to actually watch him in his element, in his zone, just acting, it’s a thrill. I want him to do theater so that everyone else can get in on it. He’s very powerful. I just felt very privileged to get to watch him.

Q: What does Mia Wasikowska bring to her role?

A: Mia Wasikowska is an absolute delight of a young woman. She’s so playful and natural and down-to-earth—but she also has this ethereal quality to her, she feels timeless. What she brings to Alice is very, very difficult to pull off. Every time I do a scene with her, I’m just amazed at what she’s doing with it and that a young actress can bring so much gravity to this world. It’s somewhat eerie, the way she’s able to communicate feeling and where Alice is at that moment. It was lovely to work with her, just to get to observe that.

Q: What is your impression about how this film is being made?

A: I took a very Zen approach to filmmaking on this one. It sounds silly, but I had no idea what was going on. I walked in and it was like being in a neon-green terrarium--green on all sides, and tons of empty space. Tim knew what was going on—he was the one that is in control of it. All I needed to do was hit my mark and say my lines, and wait for Tim to tell me that we’re ready to move on. And that was my approach to it. I didn’t put any other pressure on myself. I just showed up and acted.

Q: What are you wearing in this movie?

A: I’m wearing a dress designed by Colleen Atwood. It’s grand and the most fragile dress I’ve ever worn in my life. I love it so much. It’s beautiful. If you ever had a dream of being any kind of fairy princess, this is the dress you would wear. I love the idea that it’s this idealized, fairy-tale Queen, but it is in a Tim Burton movie, so there’s darkness mixed up with it as well.

Q: What do audiences have to look forward to with this film?

A: Because the world of this film begins and ends in the imagination of Tim Burton, you’re not seeing a movie that’s been shot on locations that you’ve seen a million times. Because this world has no rules, you’re seeing so many different and separate brushstrokes and colors and characterizations somehow getting combined through Tim. And what I think you’re getting is an absolute exploration of the imagination. I think that’s the essence of the book, and I think that’s the spirit Tim’s brought to the film. Everybody on the film was so clever, so creative, so imaginative—and I think that’s what the film is about—how can we tell a story that honors the imagination in the most imaginative way humanly possible? And that’s such a fantastic idea.