Saturday, May 29, 2010

Runaway - Meg Cabot

Runaway is the final novel in the Airhead trilogy, which revolves around Em Watts, a normal girl whose brain, after an "accident" at the Stark Megastore which leaves Em with her body broken but her brain intact, is transplanted into the body of supermodel Nikki Howard (who, incidentally, works for Stark Corporation). As the series progresses, Em begins to suspect that this surgery did not occur because Nikki was left brain dead by the accident, but because Nikki knew something Stark didn't want her to know. In Runaway, Em is on the run from school, work, and her family, trying to find out what Nikki knew.

I have enjoyed all three of the Airhead novels--Meg Cabot is one of my favorite "guilty pleasure" novelists--but I have to say that Runaway is my favorite of the three. By the third novel, all the characters are very well-developed and easier to relate to; also, the rising action of the entire series is coming to a point, and I found it very difficult to put Runaway down, even the very few times I absolutely had to. I especially like the title of this book, with it's sort of double meaning--runway, runaway--and the cover is absolutely gorgeous.

In comparison to Meg Cabot's other novels (I haven't read all of them; I've read neither the Mediator books nor the Size 12 is Not Fat series), Runaway and the Airhead books still stand out. Though I didn't like the characters as well as those in The Princess Diaries and its sequels, I found the plot to be much more interesting, though that could be just because it was slightly science fiction-y. While predictable in parts, the Mediator books are definitely worth a read (and it will be a quick read) if you enjoy "girly" books. ("Girly" is in quotation marks because while I don't really think Cabot's books are all that girly compared to some, they are definitely not "guy books.")

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Oh My Blog!

I have graciously been given the Oh My Blog! Award by Chris and Jess from Park Benches and Bookends. This actually happened on May 5, but I have been (and still am) studying for finals and AP exams and other such fun. Therefore, you probably won't see many reviews from me for a while. However, I do need to respond to the award and pass it on, so here goes. The way the award works is this:

"1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award EVER!
2. Choose ONE of the following options of accepting the OMB award:
(a) Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you can focus.
(b) Write about your most embarrassing moment.
(c) Write a "Soundtrack of your childhood" post.
(d) Make your next blog a 'vlog'/video blog. Basically, you're talking to the camera about whatever.
(e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, make up, etc) and post it.
3. Pass the award on to at least three, but preferably more, awesome bloggers. Don't forget to tell them."

Since I'm under 21 and in the U.S., (a) is out; because I'm self-conscious, (b), (d), and (e) are, childhood soundtrack! I'm a child of the 90s, so I grew up listening to Disney soundtracks, boy bands, and Britney Spears. I absolutely adored the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears in elementary school, and I'm pretty sure "Oops, I Did it Again" was the first pop song I ever knew by heart. *cringe* By the time I got into middle school, both Britney and the boy bands were no longer in favor; Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, and the Beatles were my singing idols of choice. (I was a very pop-oriented child.) And while I still like the Beatles to some extent, I also cringe at Hilary and Lindsay. Ick. However, I still love Disney movie soundtracks--Hercules, The Lion King, and Aladdin are my favorites--and know way more lyrics than I probably should. In this respect, I don't think I'll ever grow up, and I'm proud of that.

And my nominations are, (*drumroll*)
The Book Owl
Babbette's Book Blog
50 Books

Award completed! Now, I have to go study some more.

The Selfless Gene - Charles Foster

I really, fiercely hate the title of this book. While it is about religion and evolution, the book has nothing to do with the idea that there is a gene in our DNA that causes selflessness, which is what the title implies. However, The Selfless Gene is a good book despite its poorly-chosen title, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in science, religion, or both.

The Selfless Gene discusses the relationship between evolution and religion, and whether either is actually true. It's divided into ten chapters and examines religious and scientific points of view both separately and in relation to one another. On the book's Amazon page, the description reads, "In THE SELFLESS GENE, Charles Foster assesses the claims of Neo-Darwinists and Young Earth Creationists, demonstrating that orthodox Christianity is not incompatible with what evolutionary biology says about our world. The real issue, he argues, centres around the ethical implications of natural selection, and what such a system – based on selfishness, waste and death – might say about the loving creator God of the Christian faith. Intelligent, provocative and accessible, THE SELFLESS GENE offers the prospect of a reasoned dialogue between faith and scientific study, and a reconciliation of what are popularly seen as two opposing worldviews." While I apologize for quoting at such length, I couldn't think of any better way to summarize what the book is all about, and I quite agree that The Selfless Gene is "intelligent, provocative and accessible." One of the great things about The Selfless Gene (at least as far as I'm concerned) is that Charles Foster is neither a scientist nor a theologian, a fact he clearly acknowledges early in the book. This enables him to write clearly and in a manner that everyone, not just those most well-versed in scientific or religious study, can appreciate and understand.

On the front cover, a Cambridge professor is quoted as saying that The Selfless Gene is "difficult to put down." While I enjoy reading both fiction and nonfiction, I didn't really expect to get hooked on this book to the same extent that I would get hooked on a novel. Surprisingly, however, I could hardly put the book down. I've been carrying it in my purse and reading it whenever I have at least five free minutes, and while I've done this more often than not with fiction, I very rarely have the same experience with nonfiction--I typically enjoy such books at a slower pace. I could really not be more glad that I requested The Selfless Gene.*

*I got this book through BookSneeze, a program where publishers give books away in exchange for reviews. When I signed up for BookSneeze, The Selfless Gene was the most appealing book being offered, so I requested it. In hindsight, a very good choice.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I've had this book on hold every since I finished the first book in March (my review is here), and it finally came in last week. While I had mixed feelings about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, partly because it took me some time to figure out who all the characters were, I had no such reservations about The Girl Who Played with Fire.

After her guardian, Advokat Nils Bjurman, and two others are murdered with the same weapon within hours of each other, Lisbeth Salander is a murder suspect. While those who know her--journalist Mikael Blomkvist, among others--insist that she would not kill anyone without provocation, the police are insistent upon her guilt. However, she remains remarkably elusive, and even after three weeks, the girl with the dragon tattoo is yet to be found by the authorities. But did she really commit the murders? Though her fingerprints were on the gun, there is no evidence that Lisbeth Salander actually fired the gun at all, much less at the three victims. As more information surfaces about an unknown man named "Zala," even the police have their doubts.

The book is utterly captivating, suspenseful, terrific--I could go on. The best way I can think of to describe it is that it's one of those books where your face gradually gets closer and closer to the book until some outside thing distracts you and you realize you're nearly cross-eyed. Yes, it's that good. If you've heard of this book, it may be because the final book in the trio, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, was recently released, and the books have become more prominently displayed in stores. If this is the case, and you've been wondering whether or not to buy, I encourage you to go ahead and spend your money. In my opinion, it's well worth it.