Sunday, 31 January 2010

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a meme started by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

When it comes to buying books, I kind of fail at self restraint - no joke, I've been trying not to buy new books because I have a monstrous to read pile already (I'm talking 100+), but I saw one book I really wanted and promising myself I'd only get that one... of course I bought four. See, I fail.

Havana Nights (Dirty Dancing) by Amanda Bader
[Note: I could only find really small/unclear versions of the cover so this is the movie cover, but aside from having some movie nonsense instead of an authors name, the book & movie covers are the same]
Summary: When the Millers moved from St. Louis to Cuba, eighteen-year-old Katey left her friends, her school, and her life behind. In Havana, Katey looked wrong. She dressed wrong. She even danced wrong. More than anything, she wanted to return home.

Then Katey met Javier, a young waiter at the Oceana Hotel. She was instantly drawn to his intense brown eyes--and his smouldering moves on the dance floor. When Katey danced with Javier, she felt a connection with him, the kind of connection she had never had with a boy before.

Being with Javier wasn't familiar or easy, but learning about his life and dreams was something Katey needed to do. And as Javier showed her his Cuba, Katey discovered something surprising: a chance to fit in, a chance at love... and the chance to have the time of her life.

I adore the movie Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights (click for trailer), it's more of a prequel to DD, Patrick Swayze has a cameo in it and really, what I adore most about it is the fact it's based on a true story... Dirty Dancing is epic, but it's not based on truth, the sequel-but-prequel is, it's based on the childhood of the co-producer and choreographer of the movie. So, of course, I found out there was a book for the movie and had to have it. And I'll shut up now about that. Moving on...

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Summary: When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone.

How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?


A youtuber/blogger that I've been following (in the non-stalker sense, of course) for a few years has been consistently recommending the hell out of this series and I figured it's about time I listened, she seems to have decent taste in bookcrack (new word? No?).


You Had Me At Halo by Amanda Ashby

Summary: Holly Evans has just seen her own body laid to rest. Now she would like to move onto the afterlife. But apparently she has some mortal baggage to unload first, starting with the matter of how she died. Her heavenly shrink isn't buying that she didn't kill herself- and says she must return to earth to straighten things out. The thing is, she needs to borrow the body of computer geek Vince Murphy to do it. Oh, and although Vince was supposed to have vacated the premises, he apparently never got the memo.

Now, Holly has forty-eight hours to resolve her issues while sharing arms, legs, and...other things...with a guy she barely noticed while she was alive. But the real surprise is what life has to offer when you have only two days to live it.

Ohai there, pretty book! Allow me to judge you by your cover! - Yeah, the cover drew me in then I read the summary and it reminded me of this story I started years ago but never finished and I figure this author probably executes the idea a lot better than I ever did or could.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Summary: Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.

If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be
more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.


I've heard a lot of good things about this book and the author... so yeah.

Later.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Contest Winners

Well, we made it past the 250 followers mark so there are two winners of the Pick Your Poison Contest. The winners are:



I've sent you both an email. :]

Later.

Contest Closed

And the contest is closed guys (well, it's 11:58 now, so really in 2 minutes. But I need to restart my computer)! We had a LOT of entries and gained a lot of new followers (*waves to new followers*). So thank you all very much for participating and promoting us!

Lanna is the one who's picking the winners and sending the prizes but she's in the UK so she's sleeping now. But the contest winners WILL be up tomorrow. Good luck everyone!

--Julie

(P.S. New followers, we are on twitter. Feel free to join us!)

Friday, 29 January 2010

Raising Money For Haiti

Quick note before I get to the Haiti part of the post - I just wanted to apologize for being a little MIA as far as reviews go recently, Julie and Leah have really been the ones holding down the fort in that area for the past while. Busy + a bit of a reading funk = not fun, not fun at all. But I'm currently reading Crossing the Bridge by Michael Baron so expect a review for that, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey (next on my to read list).

Right, onto more important stuff.

I'm sure by now you've all heard about the earthquake in Haiti - if you haven't then you are either a) completely oblivious to the rest of the world or b) you have been hiding out in a cave for the past month or so... but anyway, Danielle from an organization called The Harry Potter Alliance emailed us and I thought I should make a post about it.

The people at The Harry Potter Alliance, along with a whole bunch of other websites for different fandoms, put together a massive online donation drive to assist efforts in Haiti.

If you donate at http://www.thehpalliance.org/haiti by January 30th, you are automatically entered to win one of more than 200 prizes, many of which are unique, rare, and highly valuable (example: Donate $30 by Jan. 30th and you could win an amazing prize pack of 35 signed YA novels)! So far, they have raised well over $40,000 in less than 48 hours.

Some of the other prizes include:

* A full set of Harry Potter novels signed and donated by J.K. Rowling.
* Signed copy of Harlequin Valentine donated by Neil Gaiman.
* Signed, dedicated, first edition novels by bestselling author Terry Pratchett.
Signed books from Time Magazine's Lev Grossman, NY Times bestselling author Melissa Anelli, Movies in 15 Minutes author Cleolinda Jones, and Urban fantasy novelist Lilith Saintcrow, as well as young adult authors John Green, Karen Healey, Aprilynne Pike, Pam Bachorz, Lisa Mantchev, and many more.
* Original, never before seen, concept art from the film Where the Wild Things Are, Spiderman II, and Bicentenial Man.
* Dexter bobbleheads donated by Showtime.
* Posters signed by Bon Jovi and The Guild cast and crew.

And these are just a few of the items you can win by donating. A complete list of prizes can be found at http://www.thehpalliance.org/haiti/prizes.

Even if you can't donate, you could still help by promoting the cause - blog about it, tell your friends about it, link to the website on your twitter or facebook or whatever other sites you use.

For more updates, you can follow the Helping Haiti Heal twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/tweetaha.

Later.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Some Book-Like Things

As I'm currently reading a semi-longish book and it's not really catching my interest, it'll be a bit longer till I can pump out a review. (Hopefully by Saturday for Historic Saturday). But in the meantime, I'm just BURSTING with excitement over book-like things.

1. The Iron King. I've seen this book EVERYWHERE. And I mean, EVERYWHERE. If you went to The Story Siren's blog, it was one of the first things you saw. I wasn't into it until about two days ago when I actually, REALLY looked at it. Then I decided I HAD to have it. So, I reserved it at one of my local Barnes and Nobles (one is already out of stock) and when I go to the mall tomorrow, I'll be picking it up. :) I'm insanely excited about this. Like, you don't even know.

2. I'm going SHOPPING tomorrow. While shopping in general isn't all that exciting, there is a REALLY BIG Barnes and Noble. The YA section is very small, but while I'm there I get to buy myself a gift card so I can get books online. So, those'll be here next week.

3. I found this book that's only available in the UK(in book form) and it sounds like it is epic. So, I'm ordering it from The Book Depository. But obviously there are no giftcards for less than $10 but more than $5 (that I know of). While exploring the site, I realized that the UK (where The Book Depository is based) releases some stories earlier than in the US. Which means I get to buy ANOTHER general gift card to preorder these books (one of which is not coming out in the US from what I can tell) and order the book and it will be here in two-ish weeks? We'll see what happens. But, I really wanted to let you all know that if you can order from The Book Depository, check there and see if any books that aren't out yet will be released sooner from there.

And that's my bookish news. Anybody else have anything interesting to tell? Or know of any other UK only books I can ogle at?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Breaking the Spine.

Everlasting
Angie Frazier

Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.

On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim he
r father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.

The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.

Beautifully written and feverishly paced, Everlasting is an unforgettable journey of passion, secrecy, and adventure.



I'd like to think a lot of you have gotten to know my tastes pretty well, yes? I just look at this and see '1855' 'handsome young sailor' (aka romance) and 'Australian' and go "GIMME GIMME GIMME!". I've never read anything based in Australia, so go new things! 1790's-1910 is my favorite time range to read about. 1855 is smack in the middle there. And there's ROMANCE. And ENCHANTED STONES. What's NOT to be excited about?

--Julie

Monday, 25 January 2010

Paper Towns by John Green

I know right? Where have I been? How have I JUST read this book? (In my defense, I've read the other John Green books).

Paper Towns
John Green

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

Printz medalist John Green returns with the brilliant wit and searing emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

Enigmatic Margo is dramatically captured in a unique dual-cover treatment.

So, I liked Looking for Alaska. And I really liked An Abundance of Katherines. But I LOVED Paper Towns.

I wish I could fully explain the awesomeness of this book...but I can't. But let's sum it up:

John Green = Funny, yes?

My bookmark = A Tablet of Brightly Colored Mini Post Its Meant for Tabbing

Goal = Tab Funny Things with Brightly Colored Mini Post Its

Book by Time I Finished Reading = A Rainbow

I'll try to get a picture, but basically there were SO many funny parts to this book, my copy now has a rainbow stick out of it. xD

I will say that Margo is insanely selfish. But, I don't blame her. We're all a little bit selfish at times and sometimes we just need to be selfish for a while.

But honestly, go read this book. Then go get his other books and read those too.

--Julie

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

I've been reading like crazy lately... but I haven't been posting. Nice going, self. Anyways, here's my review.



Title: Deadly Little Secret
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Summary (from Amazon): Some secrets shouldn't be kept...
Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.
Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help--but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.

I actually liked this book. It had been on my "to read" mental list for a while now ever since I saw it at a book store. So, when you first start reading Camelia talks about an almost-accident she had three months ago where she was almost hit by a car. A mysterious boy pushed her out of the way and he accidentally touched her bare stomach, freaked, and ran away.

So, I was like, "Um... what just happened?" Because that was kind of weird: a boy touches you and the runs away. But Camelia sort of forgets about the boy until he becomes a new kid at her school. She confronts him about it but he denies everything. She eventually learns that his name is Ben Carter.


...Oh and did I mention that he's a suspected murderer?

This makes him basically a social outcast at school. But then weird things start happening to Camelia - weird notes, photos, and other really creepy things. Naturally, her best friend Kimmie tells her that she suspects Ben. But, deep in Camelia's gut, she doesn't suspect Ben at all. Ben actually wants to help her with everything.

He's got a secret... but I won't tell you what it is, naturally. 

Oh, and you'll never guess who the creep is who's basically stalking her. Never. I'd bet a million dollars on it that you won't. I sure didn't. 

Rating: 5/5 stars

Would I recommend it: HELL YES!

I need the second book. Like now.

-Deanna 

Historic Saturday (4)

All day I've been reminding myself that I need to write my review for The Pale Assassin. Then about ten minutes ago I realized I need to review it for Historic Saturday. Way to fail, Julie.

The Pale Assassin
Patricia Elliott

Spoiled, beautiful, fourteen-year-old Eugenie de Boncoeur is accustomed to outrageous privilege. The French Revolution may rage around her, but Eugenie's luxurious lifestyle is only improved by visits from her brother, Armand, who is especially doting since the two were orphaned. What Eugenie doesn't know is that their guardian has promised her in marriage to the wealthy, vengeful Le Fantome, a revolutionary who is nursing a secret grudge against her family. As the Revolution becomes increasingly violent, Eugenie is shipped off to convent school. Finally, there is no place in France that is safe for her. Eugenie dusts off her lightly used brains and rises to the challenge of survival. Soon she is in the thick of turmoil and romance, confronting spies, secret agents, and double-crossing suitors in her quest to get out of France alive. Sympathies shift, and every choice can change--or end--a life.

For those who don't know, my National Novel Writing Month...novel was based in the French Revolution. To help me along with it, I read three books set in the time period (none of which I reviewed...maybe later though). From there, I discovered I LOVE the genre. So, I found this book late in November or early in December, put it on my wishlist, and bought it once I got my Christmas gift cards.

The book is just what I hoped it would be.

I loved how unexpected a lot of things were. Not EVERYTHING was a complete shock, but some things were.

The guys in this novel? Well, one is totally swoon worthy, another you kind of want to love but you also kind of want to hate, and the third you just kind of purse your lips when he shows up and hope he'll be gone soon.

Eugenie is as she's supposed to be. She starts out as the very spoiled noble she's meant to be and develops into a grown, intelligent woman. She still makes mistakes, but over all she becomes a very strong character. Her development was perfect.

Don't know a thing about the revolution? Well, lucky for you Patricia Elliott includes a character list naming all the fictional characters and all the characters that were real people before you even begin reading. At the end of the book, she also summarizes all the historical events that happen in the novel, as well as a time line, in case you want that background before jumping into the book.

The Pale Assassin is the first novel in the Pimpernelles triology. The second book, The Traitor's Smile, is coming out on May 6 and the third book, The Watching Eye, comes out on September 2. I'll be eagerly awaiting these two books!

--Julie

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (7)


Brightly Woven
Alexandra Bracken
3/23/10

Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely prote
ctive of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of W
ayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.


So, not only does this book sound amazing in it's fantasy/historical world, but Alexandra is a debut author. A debut author younger than my sister. And my sister's only 10 years older than I am. Does this not sound kick ass to anyone else?

So, what are you guys waiting on this odd Wednesday?

--Julie

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

CONTEST! - Closed

Contest is now closed. :]

Seeing as we've now passed the 200 followers mark, as promised, we're going to have another Pick Your Poison contest.

Here is how it works:

When I say it's a "pick your poison contest", what I mean is we provide a list of books and the winner will get to choose one book from that list as their prize (which I will have shipped to them from Amazon, it's just easier that way).

If we reach 250 followers before the contest ends, then there will be TWO winners - if not, then there will only be one.

This is the list of books that the winner(s) gets to choose from (all of the books on the list are favourites of the reviewers on this blog, so we recommend them all):

+ Need by Carrie Jones
+ The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
+ Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
+ Paper Towns by John Green
+ Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
+ Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
+ Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
+ Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
+ Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
+ Looking for Alaska by John Green
+ Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
+ The Host by Stephenie Meyer
+ Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
+ Going Bovine-Libba Bray
+ Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
+ Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenger
+ Fallen by Lauren Kate
+ The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby
+ Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
+ Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

How to Enter:

+Leave a comment on this post with your name, email address and mention whether you're in the US/UK/Canada/Australia etc.

For extra entries (tell me which of these you did in the comment - leave a link to your blog/post/tweet where necessary):

+2 entry if you follow this blog/if you're already following.
+1 entry for linking this in the sidebar of your blog.
+1 entry for tweeting about the contest, with a link to this post.
+2 entry for blogging about the contest.

This contest is open internationally (I'm Scottish, so I know how annoying those US/Canada only contests are) and will end on Friday the 29th of January.

Later.

Need by Carrie Jones


Title: Need
Author:
Carrie Jones
Summary:
Zara collects phobias the way other girls collect Facebook friends. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal. Wrong.

Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara. With suspense, romance, and paranormal themes, this exciting breakout novel has readers rapidly turning the pages.


Well, what can I say about this book other than I loved it?

Seriously, I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did - I blame that on the fact that some of the reviews I had read for it before I got the book said it was like Twilight. I do not agree with those reviews at all, I’m not saying there weren’t little similarities and parallels that could be drawn between the two stories, but those things weren’t original to Twilight, they’re basic things that have been around for ages and they’ll continue to be retold and spun in different ways by different authors for as long as people still like them.

If I’m forced to compare though, let me just say that Need is way better than Twilight is - it has a better plot, much, much better characters and I adore Carrie’s writing (which is also much, much better than the writing in Twilight).

I was hooked on the book from the very first page, which doesn’t happen often for me, usually it takes me at least a chapter to get into it and I also knew I would love it from the very first page too and so while I was reading it, I was looking out for some negative things that I might mention in the review so I wouldn’t seem like such a blatant Need fan girl, but, alas, I couldn’t find any.

There was only two things that I didn’t like; the first was something that only bothered me because I tend to think logically so I find it hard to believe that there’s people who would instantly jump to a supernatural conclusion, but that was explained later in the book so it no longer bothers me at all (and really, it had stopped bothering me about half a chapter after it happened, as Zara got used to it, so did I) and the second was the main character calling an animal “doggy”… yes, that was how difficult it was for me to find negatives about the story, silly things like that were literally all I could come up with.

Zara, the main character, is great - she’s funny and I like how Carrie wrote her emotions… sometimes in books I’m reading, it’s almost like the character can only feel one emotion at a time - they’re either sad or happy or angry, but with Zara, she displays a realistic mix of emotions from the very first page, her thoughts were interesting and she could be sad without that sadness consuming her thoughts making it annoying or depressing for the reader. She is a really strong character, she’s not always the damsel in distress and she’s not always the hero, she’s realistic, which in a fantasy world is a very good thing.

The other characters are awesome too, I adored Betty, Issie, Devyn and Nick - I even liked the “bad guys” in the story, but I won’t go into that further to avoid spoilers.

There was this little thing in the book that I loved too, Zara has this thing about phobias--you’ll know what I mean from the very first page of the book--it was subtly woven throughout the story and I just really liked that, each chapter started with a phobia name and definition and it was one of Zara’s little personality quirks.

At the risk of me getting even more fan girlish about this book, I’ll just wrap it up here; the book was awesome, Carrie Jones is a really good writer and I cannot wait to read the sequel. You should definitely go read the book.

Later.

P.s. Speaking of “later” - since we passed 200 followers, I’ll be posting up the contest later today (Need will probably be on the list of books for the winner to choose from).

Monday, 18 January 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick


Hush, Hush
Becca Fitzpatrick

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.


But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.


For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.


Again, I'm not sure how to explain this book.

I didn't love it as much as I loved Fallen. I suppose that's a good place to start.

Patch was almost too arrogant for me at times. In Fallen, I understood his behavior by the end of the book. Here, I feel like I never got a proper explanation.

The book was the slightest bit predictable. A couple times I found myself thinking one way, the author threw in a couple or curves, I changed my thinking, yet the end results was exactly what I originally thought.

Somethings were also kind of odd. I don't want to go into it, but there were a few things that just didn't make logical sense for the world of the story (which is very close to this world). But maybe I'm just picky.

Otherwise, it was a very good book. I liked Nora, though I didn't always understand her thought process. The mystery in the book was pretty fabulous. Vee was the perfect character to help throw in those curve balls. And I liked the first chapter. I've bookmarked a couple of passages and shown them off to my friends just because they make me giggle. And I really liked the prologue, it was very different from what you'd think.

Overall, this was a very good book and everyone should try reading it.

--Julie

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Sorry for lack of Historic Saturday or IMM this week. Yesterday was my grandma's birthday and I spent most of Saturday running errands and trying to finish this book in time to post a Historic Saturday review...I failed. But I have some other books lined up (or a lot) that I'll get to read this week so I'll have one next week. Though...there probably still won't be an IMM for me. I've already got plenty of books!

And there might be some things in this review you might consider spoiler-y. If you don't want ANY chance of spoilers, I'd advise not reading the post.

Magic Under Glass
Jaclyn Dolamore

Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

I don't know how to start this review.

I mean, I loved the book. I liked the romance, I liked how the good characters were genuinely good and the bad characters were bad. I liked how it ended and I loved Hollin and Erris. Beyond that, I can't think of what makes me love this story.

The ending seemed like a total cliffhanger, yet at the same time it seems like it could just end there (oh I hope not). The characters all had their flaws and didn't act all high and mighty (except for one, but he's not important to this point). I loved the author's very unique concept for how the automaton communicated. I never would have thought of that.

I certainly wish the book was longer (but really, I always do. Why do I bother throwing in this point?). But my only real complaint would be the fact that there wasn't a prologue introducing the world we were looking at. I began reading and was trying to figure out where exactly this was set and it took a while before these names of places I'd never seen before were thrown at me. Then it clicked that this wasn't really any place on Earth that we know. It would've been nice to know before I began reading because these kinds of things distract me.

US Cover:
I also need to say, that I love the US cover. Maybe to some people it doesn't accurately portray Nim, but to me it does. We all have different ideas of 'dark skin' and considering this story seems to take place in the equivalent of the 1800s, women were expected to have ghostly pale skin. Between the lighting on the cover, the different ideas of 'dark' skin tones in the past, and perception, I think the girl on the cover could be Nim. Whether you agree or not, please don't punish the author by not buying the book over this. Jaclyn most likely had very little say in the cover anyway. And it was a wonderful book no matter what!

--Julie

Sunday, 17 January 2010

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a meme started by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

For review:


Need by Carrie Jones
Summary: Zara collects phobias the way other girls collect Facebook friends. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal. Wrong.

Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara. With suspense, romance, and paranormal themes, this exciting breakout novel has readers rapidly turning the pages.


My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey
Summary: The Blakes are rather different to your usual neighbours. They are vampires and some of the members of the family date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange, is the only born female vampire known and, as such, she poses a direct threat to the vampire queen. Her best friend Lucy is human, and when Solange is kidnapped Lucy and Solange's brother, Nicholas, set out to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she would like to be more than just friends with Nicholas. But how does one go about dating a vampire? Meanwhile, Solange finds an unlikely ally in Kieran, a vampire slayer on the hunt for his father's killer.


No and Me by Delphine de Vigan
Summary: Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend in class rebel Lucas. At home her father puts a brave face on things but cries in secret in the bathroom, while her mother rarely speaks and hardly ever leaves the house. To escape this desolate world, Lou goes often to Gare d'Austerlitz to see the big emotions in the smiles and tears of arrival and departure. But there she also sees the homeless, meets a girl called No, only a few years older than herself, and decides to make homelessness the topic of her class presentation. Bit by bit, Lou and No become friends until, the project over, No disappears. Heartbroken, Lou asks her parents the unaskable question and her parents say: Yes, No can come to live with them. So Lou goes down into the underworld of Paris's street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks.


Drawing With Light by Julia Green
Summary: Kat and Emily have grown up without their mother for almost as long as they can remember. And now Dad is with Cassy and they all muddle along together well enough - even though they are living in a cramped caravan while their new house is being renovated. Then Cassy and Dad tell them that Cassy is pregnant, and everything seems to shift.

Emily feels a new urge to find her own mother. How could she have left them the way she did? Never writing to them? Not communicating with them? And as Emily begins her search, not knowing what she will find, she is at the same time embarking on a new relationship of her own, that of her romance with Seb. This is an evocative and finely drawn novel about family relationships, in particular that of mother and daughter, and the shifting emotions of a teenager trying to make sense of her family and her world.



(note: this isn't the version of the cover I have, but I like that one better)

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Summary: Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

I just thought I'd add this here, but you should expect reviews of the following from me soon (probably in this order - I'm already nearly finished the first two):
  • Need by Carrie Jones
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Crossing the Bridge by Michael Baron
  • Explorer X-Alpha by LM. Preston
  • My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey
After those, I haven't decided which book to read next. If you want, you can go to my Shelfari and suggest a book from my shelf for me to read and review (I own all the books on the shelf, I haven't read them all yet though).

Later.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

What Do I READ?

So many books, so little time. I have 11 books sitting here next to me (well, kind of diagonally) all waiting patiently to be read. Some have been here for a week, some just a few days. But they all want to be read.

Three of the books are parts of a series (two of them are the first book, one is the last book all for different series) so I'm saving them. I also want to read a historical fiction novel that I can finish and write up a review for tomorrow to avoid trying to dig up my memory for a different novel. So I'm kind of leaning towards something by Jane Yolen. But, final choice is for you!

The Devil's Arithmetic-Jane Yolen
Summer of Love-Emily Franklin
Briar Rose-Jane Yolen
Paper Towns-John Green
Searching for Pemberley-Mary Simonsen
Magic Under Glass-Jaclyn Dolamore
The Pale Assassin-Patricia Elliot
Sovay-Celia Rees

WHAT DO I READ NEXT, GUYS?

Also, I'd prefer if you tweeted me your answer (@BloggersBooks) because there's a MAJOR delay on comments on blogger and I don't see them for hours. And since I don't know if I'll have time to check the computer tomorrow before heading out (I read in the car), I'd rather get the answer quickly. Therefore, twitter. But if you don't have a twitter that obviously wouldn't work.

And I know I said a vlog for this, but I was spending time with family today and now my hair's all wet and I'm ready for bed=not presentable. But I will try for IMM this week, despite the light load.

--Julie

Friday, 15 January 2010

Author Guest Blog: Michael Baron

Michael Baron, author of Crossing the Bridge, has kindly offered to do a guest blog for us today about writing, how he started and got published. :)
Guest Blog by Michael Baron:

A common axiom in the writing world is that your first million words are garbage. I initially heard this when I took my first creative writing class in college. At the time, I scoffed. Maybe that was true for people who couldn’t write, but it certainly wouldn’t be true for those of us dedicated to our craft. Then experience prevailed. I hadn’t bothered to keep a tally before today, but, in my case, that estimate was much closer than I ever would have imagined.

By the time I got to college, I’d already written a “novel” and a number of short stories. These were, understandably, garbage. I was trying to write about characters and relationships. Teenaged boys should probably avoid doing this. Still, I was easily 150,000 or so words closer to accomplishment because I’d done that work. While in college, I wrote dozens of short stories, a couple of plays, a TV script, a film script, and another novel. Again, all trash, but there was a great deal of it. I’m guessing somewhere around 250,000 words of prose that no one should (or will) ever read again.

I then went into the working world where I attempted two more novels. Still writing about characters and relationships. Still doing so badly. But another 200,000 words down, give or take. At this point, I set fiction aside. Writing fiction had been somewhat cathartic for me, but it was starting to give me a bit of a complex. I’d gotten a couple of nibbles from agents over the years, but their expressions of interest came attached to requests that I do extensive rewriting. I wasn’t against this idea at all; I was just incapable of making progress with it.

One of these agents suggested that I try my hand at nonfiction. Over the years, I’d written countless (okay, let’s attempt to count -- maybe another 100,000 words) memos and papers in my jobs. While this was far from soaring prose, it was at least effective communication. The idea of trying nonfiction seemed to have some merit. My first book proposals were not pretty. As it turned out, memo writing doesn’t really prepare you for book publication. Proposals are brief, but I still burned through another 50,000 words of these before I connected. I found a publisher. I was way ahead of the curve. Based on the math I’ve just done here, it only took me three-quarters of a million words to stop writing garbage. (This, of course, assumes that books released by major publishers no longer fit the description “garbage.” Since we’ve all read awful books published by major houses, that might be a faulty assumption. I’d appreciate it if you allow me my illusions.)

I was, however, way, way past the million-word mark before I attempted fiction again. By this point, I’d published numerous nonfiction books, many of which sold well and received positive reviews. I enjoy writing nonfiction very much, but I still had this niggling desire to write about characters and relationships. So I started a novel called When You Went Away about a man whose wife dies and leaves him with a four-month-old baby to raise. This one turned out better than the others had. It came out last fall and people seem to like it. By the time it went on sale, I’d completed another called Crossing the Bridge about a man haunted by the death of his brother ten years earlier. That one went on sale at the beginning of January. Just last week, I finished yet another called The Journey Home. It’s coming out in May.

These days, I write with the expectation that what I’m writing will be published. I still have some clunkers, though, but we won’t talk about those. It really did take a good deal of dreadful prose to get to this stage, though. I suppose I should try to contact my old writing professor to apologize for the sneer I gave him back in my first year of college.

You should all go check out his books (and expect a review of Crossing the Bridge from me soon). Later.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Book Releases: February

So...not so much weekly as monthly. S'all good as long as you have the information before the month starts right? These are BRAND NEW books (as far as Barnes and Noble could tell me) coming out in February. All of these books were found at Barnes and Noble's website (Teen Fiction, Coming Soon, and only actual books not being released in a different format) or at The Story Siren's VERY Detailed Post. The list goes into 2011, so be sure to check that out too!

Holding the Front Page by Laurie Depp (2/1/10)

Possessed by Kate Cann (2/1/10)

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt (2/1/10)

The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black (2/1/10)

Spring Breakdown (Carter House Girls Series) by Melody Carlson (2/1/10)

Spring Fling by Sabrina James (2/1/10)

The Clone Codes by Patricia McKissack and Fredruck McKissack (2/1/10)

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (2/1/10)

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers (2/2/10)

Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad (2/2/10)

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker (2/4/10)

The Naughty List by Suzanne Young (2/4/10)

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder (2/9/10)

Eleventh Grade Burns (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Series) by Heather Brewer (2/9/10)

Gone by Lisa McMann (2/9/10)

Heist Society by Ally Carter (2/9/10)

Little Miss Red by Robin Palmer (2/9/10)

Parties and Potions by Sarah Mlynowski (2/9/10)

Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald (2/9/10)

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls by L. J. Smith (2/9/10)

Token of Darkness by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (2/9/10)

Hard to Get (The Romantic Comedies) by Emma Bernay (2/23/10)
Scandalicious (Bradford) by Micol Ostow (2/23/10)

The Ape Who Guards the Balance: An Amelia Peabody Novel of Suspense by Elizabeth Peters (2/23/10)


And that's all I found. If there's anything wrong or anything you want me to add, just leave a comment.

--Julie

2010 Debut Author Challenge




The Story Siren


Kristi (The Story Siren)'s 2010 Debut Author Challenge!

I linked you guys to the information post if you decide to sign up. There's plenty of books out there by new authors.

1. Magic Under Glass-Jaclyn Dolamore (check the post for why this is allowed)
2. Brightly Woven-Alexandra Bracken
3. Everlasting-Angie Frazier
4. Sea-Heidi R Kling
5. Shade-Jedi Smith-Ready
6. The Queen's Daughter-Susan Coventry
7. Plain Kate-Erin Bow
8. Hex Hall-Rachel Hawkins
9. Personal Demons-Lisa Desrochers
10. The Iron King-Julie Kagawa
11. Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White
12. Split-Swati Avasthi
13. Shadow Hills-Anastasia Hopcus
14. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour-Morgan Matson
15. The Beautiful Between-Alyssa B. Sheinmel
16. Salvaged-Stefne Miller
17. Infinite Days-Rebecca Maizel
18. Anna and the French Kiss-Stephanie Perkins
19. Vixen-Jillian Larkin
20. Firelight-Sophie Jordan
21. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
22. Stork by Wendy Delsol
23. The Duff by Kody Keplinger
24. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
25. Prisoners in the Palace by Michaela MacColl
26. Jane by April Lindner

I've now got all my books, but any other suggestions are definitely welcome!

Lanna is also going to ATTEMPT this challenge. Her post will be going up...at some point.

--Julie

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Summary: Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia's father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius.

Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy.

The plot twists up when Oberon's head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. Throw in a group of labourers preparing a play for the Duke's wedding (one of whom is given a donkey's head and Titania for a lover by Puck) and the complications become fantastically funny.

Yes, it's a play - really, this is the first play I've read on my own for fun. I read plays in school and I own The Crucible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare but I've never just decided to read a play for the fun of it but I bought Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Nights Dream and decided to change that.

[Note: The Complete Works of Shakespeare is a massive book and not very good for just reading, it's fine for referencing but it's awkward and annoying to try and read a whole play from it - which is why I've started buying individual copies of his plays]

Anyway, onto the review.

I've always loved Shakespeares stories and he is very poetic but this is the first time I've read an entire one of his plays -- quotes, essays, descriptions, summaries, I've read all of those so I'm familiar with the stories and his style but I always thought it might be a bit of a drag to read one of his plays because of the language he uses.

I was wrong though, after the first few pages you get used to it and can appreciate his way with words and his humour. I actually finished it pretty quickly, about two hours (with distractions, lots of distractions - word of advice, don't read Shakespeare while babysitting, just don't).

As for the story itself, A Midsummer Nights Dream has always been one of the Shakespeare plays I liked best - I like Helena's character best, she's actually quite relatable for a lot of girls, I mean ever loved a guy who didn't love you back? Ever loved a guy who liked your friend instead? At one point or another it's sure to happen at least once in every girls life.

My favourite part:
HERMIA

I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.

HELENA

O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!

HERMIA

I give him curses, yet he gives me love.

HELENA

O that my prayers could such affection move!

HERMIA

The more I hate, the more he follows me.

HELENA

The more I love, the more he hateth me.

HERMIA

His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.

HELENA

None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!
Some of the parts of the story were a little slower and less interesting than others, like the parts with the actors rehearsing the play (a play within a play, awesome) but the Helena/Demetrius/Lysander/Hermia love square was awesome and the parts with the fairies actually managed to make me laugh out loud sometimes.

If you're not familiar with the story and you're not really up for reading Shakespeare then check out the movie Get Over It, it's a modern retelling of the play (kind of like the same way 10 Things I Hate About You, O and She's The Man are all putting a modern spin on the stories) or I'm sure there's some more traditional movie versions (I just haven't seen them yet to recommend them).

I think everyone should read at least one Shakespeare play in their lifetime--for fun, not because they're forced by a teacher--just to see what all the fuss is about, reading it on your own is different from reading it in a class because you're not over analysing it and picking the story apart or critically reading it when you read it on your own.

Sorry if this review is a little scattered, what I'm basically trying to say is that I liked it and Shakespeare definitely earned his literary legend status.

Later.

P.s. Here is the trailer for Get Over It, for anyone that is interested/hasn't seen it before (it's a really funny and sweet movie).

Waiting on Wednesday (6) Part 2

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Breaking the Spine.

Lanna did hers already, so now I'm going to do mine. Because I keep losing track of the books I've done and then have to go back and look at all the posts to know, I'm going to do it in alphabetical order from now on. Hopefully it'll help!


Anxious Hearts
Tucker Shaw

“Evangeline,” he repeated, calling at a whisper. “Evangeline.” He was not calling that she may hear, he was calling that somehow her soul might know that he was devoted entirely to her, only to her. “Evangeline, I will find you.”

Eva and Gabe explore the golden forest of their seaside Maine town, unknowingly tracing the footsteps of two teens, Evangeline and Gabriel, who once lived in the idyllic wooded village of Acadia more than one hundred years ago. On the day that Evangeline and Gabriel were be wed, their village was attacked and the two were separated. And now in the present, Gabe has mysteriously disappeared from Eva.

A dreamlike, loose retelling of Henry Wad
sworth Longfellow’s famous love poem “Evangeline,” Anxious Hearts tells an epic tale of unrequited love and the hope that true love can be reunited.

Well, obviously the cover is gorgeous (duh). Then the names. Evangeline is always one of my go-to names. And Gabe is an epic name. And, I just noticed while making this post that I named my characters in a possible WIP Gabe and Evangeline (Eva). Crap.

This story also sounds pretty epic. Don't lie. The relationship, the true love thing, it sounds really good!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

--Julie

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (1?)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Okay, I know this one is already released (I think, Google is confusing me with different release dates, unless the UK release date is different from the US), but the sequel - Captivate - is an upcoming release so I maintain that it still counts.

Need by Carrie Jones

Summary: Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect Facebook friends. It’s little wonder, since she’s had a fairly rough life. Her father left when she was a baby, her stepfather just died and her mother’s almost given up – in fact, she’s sent her to live with her grandmother in cold and sleepy Maine to ‘keep Zara safe’. Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother just can’t cope.

Zara’s wrong. The man she sees everywhere – the tall, creepy guy who points at her from the side of the road – is not a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie. But not the cute, sweet kind with little wings. Maine’s got a whole assortment of unbelievable creatures. And they seem to need something – something from Zara . . .

You can read or download the first chapter here.

I'm really looking forward to reading this series. Also, I know we're technically not supposed to judge a book by it's cover and all of that, but isn't that one pretty? I love it and the cover of the sequel.

Later.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick


Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Summary: For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

--

Holy. Crap. I swear, this is probably my favourite book of the moment. No doubt. Patch is my favourite character, no lie. He's dangerous, charming, funny, sweet... He's a real bad-ass (he even drives a motorcycle). I never got bored in this book. I kept reading and whenever there was a PatchxNora moment I clutched the book tighter and read on and I kept waiting for the moment where they were going to kiss.

Their relationship, I think, is deeper than a lot of others. They're not just attracted to each other physically, but the emotional relationship is there too. Although, in the beginning, Nora seems to not want to be near Patch. Her sex-ed teacher thought it would be a good idea to switch partners for the class and he stuck her with Patch.

At first it was awkward and she was angered that she was his partner. But, over time, weird things start to happen that freaks her out and, somehow, Patch is always there. She gets even more suspicious when her friend, Vee, is attacked and she ends up in the hospital. Vee tells her it was Patch and Nora believes her. But, then something happens that throws Nora and Patch together.

Something that could cost Nora her life. There was action on every page. There wasn't a dull moment at all. I kept waiting for the book to slow down and it never did. Overall, I recommend to all 195 followers (and Melody, Mari, and Nia because Lanna & Julie already have it) to read this book. You will NOT be disappointed. I guarantee it.

Rating: 5/5 Stars.

-Deanna

P.S: PATCH IS MINE! (Yes, I will fight people to the death for male characters in books.) ^.^

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