Thursday, 31 March 2011

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Flipped 
by Wendelin Van Draanen

Summary: The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time Bryce saw Juli, he ran. That’s pretty much the pattern for these two neighbors until the eighth grade, when, just as Juli is realizing Bryce isn’t as wonderful as she thought, Bryce is starting to see that Juli is pretty amazing. How these two teens manage to see beyond the surface of things and come together makes for a comic and poignant romance.

I absolutely adored this book. It was so sweet (and don't assume that means it was just some fluffy little romance book, it wasn't, there was way more depth to the story).

The romance in the book wasn't quite a romance - it was more...that first crush. The first one that really gets under your skin and it happens when you're still young and innocent enough for anything beyond a simple kiss or holding hands to even cross your mind. And the funny thing was, even though it was that innocent crush, it was still more real than 90% of the romances you'll find in older YA novels where they're actually supposed to be love stories.

The characters were written brilliantly, I could relate to Juli so much; I was one of those girls too, the ones who were more likely to climb trees than play with dolls (well, I actually did both but my gran still jokes about how I was always up a tree whenever they would try to find me - sometimes wearing a dress). And her crush, yeah, definitely related to that. There was a boy that I convinced myself I was in love with and now, looking back, I realise I didn't really know him. And that is what this book is about - that crush feeling and it's intense and innocent and feels like love...and it is, in a way, just different than when we're older. I thought Juli was a lovely character and I bet so many girls, no matter what age they are, will really connect with her.

Bryce was great too. He screwed up, he made mistakes but he was a kid and he was still in the process of figuring out the kind of person he wanted to be.

Juli's family were awesome and Chet, Bryce's grandad, he was so lovely and I wish I could keep him. It made me miss my own grandads so much but in a good way, you know? Missing people isn't always bad and I liked that the book made me feel that.

I loved the writing in the book and how it alternated between Juli's point of view and Bryce and effortlessly showed the two different sides of the story. I found myself grabbing the nearest piece of paper (which was actually a press release - oops) and tearing it up to mark pages with quotes that I loved. Examples:

"For a time, all I could see was her beauty, but then…well, let’s just say I discovered she wasn’t a fraction of the person RenĂ©e was. (…) It’s easy to look back and see it, and it’s easy to give the advice, but the sad fact is, most people don’t look beneath the surface until it’s too late."

"And for the first time in my life, I had that feeling. You know, like the world is moving all around you, all beneath you, all inside you, and you’re floating. Floating in midair. And the only thing keeping you from drifting away is the other person’s eyes. They’re connected to yours by some invisible physical force, and they hold you fast while the rest of the world swirls and twirls and falls completely away."

The book was really addictive, I didn't intend to read the whole thing right away, I just wanted to read a few pages to check it out then I found myself still reading at 3am, unable to stop and I didn't expect the story to hook me like that, stories with younger characters rarely do.

When I got to the last page, the ending felt kind of abrupt and I was like:

"WHAT? It cannot end there!"
"...There has to be more pages, right?"

But then I realised that it was kind of the perfect place to end the book, even though I desperately wanted to read more and for it to be longer (which is a good sign - it left me wanting more). You should go read the book, I definitely recommend it - it's one of those books like Tuck Everlasting where you could probably read it at any age and it'll still have an impact, even though the characters are young.

Now, I wanna go watch the movie version, because the movie looks cute too.

On another note, pet hate: when a beautiful cover is ruined by one of those obnoxious "NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE" labels, and it's not even a sticker that can be peeled off: no, it's printed on there. The version of the cover I have would've been so lovely without that (but the movie tie-in did have some beautiful movie stills in the middle). :(

Later.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Waiting on Wednesday...Some Number

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

One day, I'll get a regular schedule of doing WoWs. But right now it's quarter after midnight and I'm exhausted and sick and this requires less brain power than a review. So...yay?

Some of these may be repeats because I don't feel like checking. I'm sure you guys won't mind too much though, yes?



Lesley Livingston
Penguin Canada
[June 14, 2011]

Is this coming out in the US? I don't know. But I want it. Because I adore Lesley's Wondrous Strange trilogy and I adore Lesley herself. This book just sounds fantabulous.







Mette Ivie Harrison
EgmontUSA
[October 11, 2011]

I watched a movie version of Tristan and Isolde years and years ago and wasn't happy with how the story ended, but enjoyed it anyway. Add in the gorgeous cover and I WANT IT. I'm also 95% sure I've mentioned this one before, but there wasn't a cover then...so yeah.









Meg Cabot
Scholastic Inc.
[April 26, 2011]

It's Greek mythology. And Meg Freaking Cabot. So obvs I want it. And this cover? Droolworthy.




 






Kody Keplinger
Poppy
[September 5, 2011]
I loved The Duff and Kody rocks and this book sounds pretty kick-ass.






Kady Cross
HarlequinTeen
[May 24, 2011]

STEAMPUNK. And that dress? Can I have it for senior prom? Please? Or I'll take the book, that's fine too.

I think I'll stop it there because...I have homework to do. And sleep is nice.

So what are you waiting on this week?

--Julie

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors That Deserve More Attention

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme held each week at The Broke and the Bookish. I've never done it before, but I really like this week's list...so I'm doing it.

From The Broke and the Bookish:

We all have our favorite authors--mine including J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. But what about those favorite authors of yours that people don't recognize when you mention them? We all have those authors who we LOVE but for whatever reason aren't as well-known.

So, yeah. My Top 10 are:
1. Sarah MacLean: I've read all 3 of her books out and I'm completely addicted. Her YA, The Season, is one of few books I've actually reread. Whenever I read them, I crave more historical fiction, steamy or YA. Her books make me happy and warm and fuzzy inside.

2. Jaclyn Dolamore: Steampunk is a highly under appreciated genre that I adore. I fell in love with the characters and the world and I'm REALLY looking forward to Magic Under Stone and Between the Sea and the Sky.

3. Jennifer Donnelly: I adored Revolution and The Tea Rose. Jennifer definitely knows how to write a captivating historical. Can't wait for more YA from her!

4. Heidi Kling: Sea was another fantastic debut novel. I still remember the 2004 tsunami really well, all the footage scared me. And in light of all that's happened recently, I can't help but want to revisit it.

5. Joy Preble: I absolutely adored both Dreaming Anastasia and Haunted. Yet so few seem to read them! Gorgeous covers, magical plots, these are definitely books not to miss!

6. Mandy Hubbard: Prada and Prejudice and You Wish. Very different books, but both excellent. Prada and Prejudice is one of few Pride and Prejudice retellings I can read and You Wish was funny and happy with this deeper meaning I totally didn't expect.

7: Elizabeth Eulberg: I've only read Prom and Prejudice, but my love of it knows no bounds! It was like I was rereading Pride and Prejudice! And Elizabeth herself is super sweet.

8. Stefne Miller: Salvaged is her only book out, but I was lucky enough to beta read one of her other manuscripts and Stefne is seriously talented. Romance, unique plots, and yes, sometimes a touch of religion.

9. Eilis O'Neal: Her debut, A False Princess, was a fantastic fantasy story. I'd never read anything like it! The world was captivating and the story was exciting and romantic and wonderful.

10. Alyssa B. Sheinmel: The only writer with no romance in her book. But The Beautiful Between was so, so beautiful. I'm really excited to read her next book, The Lucky Kind!

Some honorary mentions: Stephanie Perkins, Morgan Matson, and Susan Coventry

So, this was really, really hard. But those are my final answers. Agree? Disagree? Have your OWN list? Share with me!

--Julie

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

Mostly Good Girls
Leila Sales
Simon and Schuster's Children's Publishing
[October 5, 2010]

The higher you aim, the farther you fall….

It’s Violet’s junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she’d be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and figuring out how to talk to boys without choking on her own saliva. Instead, she’s just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, her crush’s new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie.

When Katie starts making choices that Violet can’t even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success—but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge, epic failure?

Warning: This review is short because I suck.

This book was really funny. I laughed a lot. But...I don't think I really *got* the book.

While it was entertaining, it didn't seem to me like much happened. I didn't really see any sign of a plot for a good portion of the book. It seemed more like "Today, this happened. Then today, this happened." I didn't get how it all connected.

It's been a while since I read the book, so I don't know what else to comment on. I know the plot did pick up and it was well written but...this just wasn't my kind of book. I appreciated the sarcasm and the characters, but the storyline just wasn't for me. 

I hope some of you try it and you'll "get" it.

--Julie

Monday, 28 March 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went
Gayle Forman
Dutton Juvenile
[April 5, 2011]

It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

This was one of the most...heartbreaking, depressing reads I've ever read. And I loved it.

I mean...I thought If I Stay was horrifyingly sad and heartbreaking, but this was a whole new level. There was no difficult choice, there was no crushing thoughts about death. But between Adam's narration and the fact that he obviously still loves her? God.

I think I preferred Adam as a narrator. I loved Mia's, but I think I felt more from his story. Or maybe it was the story itself. His life was so, so different from what we read in If I Stay and the contrast was startling in the best possible way.

By the way, this review? Really hard not to spoil anything. So, I'm sorry for the vague.

Anyway, the characters have grown up a lot. They both seemed much older than they were in If I Stay, and with good reason. It was a nice change to read older characters in YA.

I will say there's this one part towards the end of the book that almost had me throw the book. Almost. I was so angry and frustrated and couldn't believe it was happening. Just as a warning.

I just...I dunno. If you've read If I Stay, go get this book. If you haven't read If I Stay, go get that and THEN read this. Trust me, do it. Do it, do it, do it.

--Julie

Sunday, 27 March 2011

In My Mailbox (62)

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

Lanna:


For Review:

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard  

I wasn't sure if I was going to read this book but seeing as I was sent it, I may as well, it does sound interesting.

Bought:

Indiana by George Sand 

I wanted to get more classics and I was listening to the song Indiana by Meg & Dia and apparently it was inspired by this book which made me want to read this. Plus, the author sounds like she was a really interesting woman.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen 

I've heard good things about this one and it was made into a movie (the movie looks kind of adorable too).

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr 

I wasn't sure if I was going to even finish this series, I read the first two - then I got sent the fifth book for review, so I may as well get the other two. The books are good, they keep me hooked - it's just...when I've finished the book that feeling tends to change. It's like a food that is good to eat but then leaves a not-so-pleasant aftertaste, but maybe the rest of the series will be different.

Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind 

I like the play and aside from The Crucible and stuff by Shakespeare, I don't really own any plays and I really want to read this one.

You Against Me by Jenny Downham 

Kaisa's review of it on youtube (I can't remember her youtube right now and I may be butchering the spelling of her name) convinced me to get this one, she said it was really good (well, that's an understatement).

Columbine by Dave Cullen 

I have a morbid fascination with things like this, stuff like the Columbine massacre, they're shocking but weirdly interesting to read about...maybe it's something to do with how things like that show humanity at its best and its worst.

What'd you get this week?
Later.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Out of Curiosity...

After reading, this post Kristi posted today (it's an excellent post. If you haven't read it, you really should), I was curious if maybe there was some way to figure out if other bloggers are the majority of our "audience" and if blog's do have a big impact on buying habits. I'm big on surveys and learning random, pretty useless bits of information.

So, this is just a quick, completely anonymous survey to satisfy my pointless-curiosity. I may even do some number crunching with it, work out statistics. Depends entirely on how many people answer, how long my interest remains, and if I have the time (well, I HAVE the time. I just don't use my time well...). If you guys are interested in the results, I'll put a little more effort into doing this and post them...at some point. 

It's not going to change how we blog or what we post, if any of you were worried. I'm quite honestly just so weird that I want to know.

Answer, Don't Answer, it's up to you. All questions are mandatory but if you don't have an answer just put "N/A" or a few dashes or whatever. And for the questions about buying books based on blogs, if you never have just put No.




Yeah, that's it. Thanks for feeding my curiosity!

--Julie

Through Her Eyes Guest Post

 Today we have Jennifer Archer, author of the upcoming Through Her Eyes, here to talk about poetry, especially her favorites and the ones chosen for the book.

It seems to me that many people don’t like poetry. I’m not one of them. Poems intrigue me because there’s much more to most of them than what’s on the surface. Deeper meaning, and all of that. Which is what makes so many people dislike them, I suppose! But I’ve always loved symbolism, metaphor, and analogy. I’ve always enjoyed trying to uncover the meaning of a poem. And what’s really cool, is that a poem can have completely different significance for one person that it does for another – it can speak to each person in a wholly unique way. That’s one of the reasons why in Through Her Eyes I chose poetry as the ghost, Henry’s, vehicle for getting a message through to the living world. His poems spoke to each reader in a different way – a way that would have specific meaning for that individual that might entice him or her to try to unravel Henry’s mystery and receive his message. 


When I was in elementary school, I wrote poems, limericks, and song lyrics in a book much like Henry’s poetry journal in Through Her Eyes. My talents were (and are) less than stellar in that regard, but I enjoyed writing them, and I still do. These days, I mostly stick to song lyrics. I have a friend who is a singer/songwriter/musician and I’ve written lyrics for three of her songs. It’s a nice change of pace from novel writing, at times. The same was true of the poems in Through Her Eyes. Writing them challenged me to draw on different skills, and I had fun with it. I chose the words and tone of each poem to suit what was taking place with the characters – particularly Tansy, Henry, and Tate. 


I’m really drawn to the classic poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and though I didn’t use any of his poems in the novel, I did quote him. The quote fit so perfectly with the storyline of my book, that I couldn’t resist using it. It also gave me an eerie idea that I carried forward into the book. If you’ve read Through Her Eyes, you’ll recognize that it has to do with a nightingale. (The rest of you will have to read the book to find out!) Shelley, in his quote, speaks about poets, saying: “A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.”  What beautiful comparisons! A poet and a nightingale. A poem and a melody. And I love the idea of readers being “entranced” and moved by the poem, but not knowing why. This is often true for me when reading a poem. I’m touched in some way by the words, without knowing exactly why they move me so much. That’s when I’m enticed to unravel the meaning of the poem – at least its meaning for me. 


Other poets whose work I enjoy are Edgar Allan Poe, because of his dark, brooding, eerie tone, and a current poet named Billy Collins, an American who from 2001 to 2003 was the appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. I like Collins’ poems because they’re so accessible to everyone. Even people who don’t typically care for poetry will “get” most of his. I also like that, although some of his poems are sad, many of them are very humorous. Here’s a link to a very funny poem written by Billy Collins called The Revenant that is told from the point of view of a dog:
http://www.billy-collins.com/2005/06/the_revenant.html

I wish that people who claim not to like poetry and who probably haven’t read any poems that weren’t assigned to them in school, would give it another chance and read some poets they haven’t tried before. There are so many different kinds of poets, and some are much more clear-cut than the norm in their approach to writing. Not every poem is a puzzle that doesn’t form a complete picture until the pieces are taken apart and put back in place.


Thanks Jennifer!

See the brand new Through Her Eyes book trailer

Visit Jennifer’s website where you’ll also find links to her Facebook and Twitter pages
www.jenniferarcher.net

Jennifer’s blog www.jenniferarcher.blogspot.com

Want to have even MORE fun? Check out Jennifer's epic contest. Prizes include kindles, iPods, leather-bound journals, and signed copies of her book! Just make sure you enter by APRIL 4!

--Julie

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Memento Nora
Angie Smibert
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
[April 1, 2011]

On an otherwise glossy day, a blast goes off and a body thuds to the ground at Nora's feet. There are terrorist attacks in the city all the time, but Nora can't forget. So Nora goes with her mother to TFC-a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take the pill that will erase it. But at TFC, a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora's life. She doesn't take the pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to remember.


With newfound friend Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories called Memento. Memento is an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever?

This was a very interesting dystopian. A different premise from most other ones I've read and I was really into it.

Nora wasn't my favorite character, but she was likable. I think I preferred Micah as a character and as a narrator. His story was just...more interesting and more detailed. I was more invested in it. Winter was an odd character, kind of fun to read about, but so odd and hard to read, I wasn't crazy about her.

My biggest problem was that the book was really short. It meant the world was underdeveloped and I couldn't figure out why things were the way they were and exactly what was going on. I just couldn't get enough detail for the world.

This was a good book, overall. It wasn't anything special for me, but not a bad read. I'll definitely be checking out the sequel.

--Julie

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens


Overprotected 
by Jennifer Laurens

Summary: Ashlyn: A lonely society princess living in New York City.

Daddy hired you to be my bodyguard.

Colin: Childhood enemy, now her protector.

Daddy thought I’d be safe. He thought I’d never fall in love. He thought he could keep me forever.

Charles: obsessed with keeping her safe, keeping her his, he hires the one person he knows she could never fall in love with: Colin.

Daddy was wrong.
I really liked this book.

It was pretty predictable, none of the twists that happened were really unexpected and the characters felt kind of stereotypical. The writing bothered me sometimes, I'm not even sure why, in the beginning especially (less after halfway through) and parts of the book felt kind of...flat and repetetive, but once the plot picked up a little, it got much better.

...I know I said I really liked the book, then went on to list the negatives, but I just wanted to get those out of the way first so I could get to the positive stuff. I really enjoyed the book in spite of all of those things. I got caught up in the plot and cared about the characters (or was totally enraged by them, in some cases) and it doesn't bother me if a story is predictable if it makes me empathize with the characters.

I liked Ashlyn and I felt really bad for her (although, when she kept referring to her dad as "daddy" it was annoying but I get why she did, it's just one of my weird pet peeves). Even just reading about her life made me feel so claustrophobic and I wanted her to stand up for herself and, I dunno, rebel a bit more and I was totally rooting for her. She really did seem to grow up during the course of the book and I loved that - like it took her limits being pushed to make her fight for what she wants.

Colin was really cute. He was just your typical good guy, he wasn't the bad boy or mysterious guy or the one who is brooding-in-a-sexy-manner or any of the other usual romantic lead cliches we tend to find in the majority of YA books...he was just a good guy and I liked him a lot.

The only thing I really had an issue with about the romance in the book was that we're told that Ash hates him in the start (and in the summary), because of their past...but we were just told that, never really shown. She kind of has that love struck teen thing going on right from the very start...which is fine, it's just - the summary makes it sound like there'll be conflict with that relationship, that she really does hate him then her feelings change but that doesn't happen exactly.

Her parents frustrated me so much. Her dad kind of creeped me out at times...her mum wasn't as bad, especially nearer the end but they were just - crazy. Thinking about living her life with those parents is suffocating. That felt more like the point of the book, the summary makes it seem like the romance is the focus but when I was reading, it felt like the romance was just - there. It didn't feel like the point of the book. Even one of the big "twists" of the book didn't feel like the point... It felt like the book was about Ashlyn breaking free, learning to stand on her own and not be controlled anymore, not so much about the plot or the romance (maybe that was the intention, but the summary makes it sound like a romance first).

Basically, the book was fun. It was entertaining and it had me hooked (another book I read while ill when I should've been sleeping instead). If you know that stories like this appeal to you, then you'll probably enjoy it too.

Later.

p.s. does the cover annoy anyone else? I like Jennifer Laurens as an author but her covers tend to not do her books justice, they seem so self-published-ish (and the interior of this one had a really irritating font that had my eyes hurting quickly because it was really fine and words were close together). In the story, Colin is 21 and Ashlyn is nearly 18 - but the people on the cover look so much older than that, it doesn't look like a YA book.

Just mentioning that, because the cover would've probably put me off buying the book had I not read other books by Jennifer to know that I like her stories. One of my pet peeves is good books with bad covers. Don't judge her books by their covers, really.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Blog Tour/Author Interview - Katherine Langrish

 
West of the Moon
by Katherine Langrish

Summary: An epic and action-packed fantasy adventure that weaves together Norse legends, shadowy creatures and an unforgettable hero.

When Peer is orphaned he is taken by his wicked uncles to live at their foreboding mill in the shadow of Troll Fell. Here he meets beautiful and spirited Hilde and after a terrifying encounter with the sinister creatures who live below the fell the pair form an inseparable bond.

They are thirsty for adventure, so when a Viking longship docks at their village, they decide to set sail for Vinland – a mysterious place across the perilous sea. But are the ship's captain and his sword wielding son really honest sailors? What creatures lurk in the shadows and forests of the new land? And will Peer and Hilde ever return? Spanning years and continents and filled with brilliantly imagined characters and creatures, this is gripping, atmospheric fantasy at its best.
Sounds really awesome, doesn't it? I can't wait to read it, I should have a review up of it soon. Oh, and I really like the cover. Anyway, Kath has answered a few questions for us:

When did you discover you wanted to be an author?

My grandmother was an author, and my mother wrote short stories, so writing seemed a natural part of growing up to me – but I think I seriously formed the wish to be an author when I was about ten.  I’d just finished reading all the Narnia stories, and – desperate to know more about Narnia – began writing my own.  I’ve still got then: they’re called ‘Tales of Narnia’, and includes stories about peripheral Narnian characters like ‘The Seven Brothers of Shuddering Wood’, and ‘The Lapsed Bear of Stormness’. (This last was a poem. You want a taster?  “Many knights with him did battle/But he slaughtered them like cattle”: I wrote poetry to rival Noel Bastable’s.)  

Anyway, I filled an old blue notebook from cover to cover.  As far as I was concerned, I’d written a book.  I think it was then I knew, really, that I’d go on writing stories for my entire life. 

If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream job? (Logic was allowed to be thrown out of the window for this one)

If I had to move on from writing, I think I’d like to be a time traveller. It would be so cool to be able to travel back thousands of years and see Stonehenge being built, and find out what it was really for and what happened there.  Or visit America before Columbus, preferably in some kind of invisible time machine which could also fly, so I could travel all over the continent without affecting anyone and see the Snake Mounds of Ohio, and the  city mounds of Cahokia, Mississippi – six square miles of an ancient city bigger than medieval London.   But then you see, I suppose I’d write about it… so back to being an author after all. 

What is your favourite part of being an author? I read on your website that you got to visit old castles and go to Denmark and things, it has to be awesome being able to do that all in the name of research.

Yes, I went to Roskilde Fjord, and spent a midsummer week learning to sail on a replica Viking ship.  It was truly wonderful, and it’s great to have the excuse to do all sorts of wild and wonderful things in the name of research.  The Viking ship experience helped me to write authentically in the seafaring passages of ‘West of the Moon’.  And for my other book, ‘The Shadow Hunt’ (‘Dark Angels’ in the UK), I’ve crawled down a Roman copper mine along tunnels only a couple of feet high, and visited wolves, and walked along the wild skyline of Stiperstones in Shropshire to investigate the weird rocks called the Devil’s Chair.  I do love all this – though one friend trumped me by writing a book set on a Caribbean island… but I think many other authors would agree with me that the most euphoric moment is when you write ‘The End’ on the very last page. 

If you could choose any world from any book to be a part of, which would you choose and why?

For my first choice I’d visit Earthsea and sail along the Dragon’s Run, or visit the villages of the Raft People on the night of the Long Dance and watch the stars setting in the sea.   After that I wouldn’t mind going to Middle Earth.  Not to the Shire: I live in rural Oxfordshire which is close enough to the Shire already – but maybe to Rivendell, so long as it was the Rivendell of ‘Lord of the Rings’ not ‘The Hobbit’, in which the elves strike me as rather annoying.  And of course, I’ve always longed to go to Narnia.  Imagine finding yourself in that winter wood with the lamp-post burning – or walking through spring woodlands with dryads peering out from leaves!

What is your definition of love?

There are many, many different kinds of love – romantic love, love between friends, love for a child or a parent, love for a pet, love for a homeland or a place… what on earth is it?  What do all these different kinds of love have in common?  I don’t know if I can define it, but it seems to me that all kinds of love take us out of ourselves and put something or someone else at the focus of our being.  Without love, we are trapped, one dimensional, unable to escape from the narrowness of self. With love, the world unfurls into many dimensions.    

You can find out more about Kath and her books on her website here: www.katherinelangrish.co.uk

Later.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Desires of the Dead
by Kimberly Derting

Summary: The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

So I loved the first book in the series, The Body Finder, and I'm glad to say, the sequel was even better. I loved Desires of the Dead. It had all of the awesomeness that the first book had, but more.

I did get frustrated with Violets character sometimes and wanted her to be real so I could shake/yell some sense into her, but about two thirds of the way into the book it stopped bothering me and I did kind of understand her way of thinking, even if I didn't agree with it.

I loved the minor characters still, Jay and Chelsea were my favourites (although, Chelsea could be annoying but that annoyingness made her more realistic) and I really liked the new ones too, Rafe especially even though we don't see much of him.

The relationship with Jay and Violet in this one was just made of adorable. Like, on the cuteness scale, they definitely hit this level:



Normally I can only handle that kind of mushy romance in moderation, but I was in the right mood when I read it and I want to read more of their cuteness, it made me smile until my face hurt.

I kind of like the plot in this one better than the first, although it was predictable in some areas and I had guessed how it was going to end long before I got to the twists. That predictability would probably have bothered me more if I was reading the book for the mystery, but that wasn't what kept me reading - to be honest, I'm not sure what it was that kept me turning the pages but I was hooked. I think maybe it was the characters.

I was ill and ridiculously tired when reading this. Honestly, I probably should've slept instead of reading but I ignored the headache and nausea until I turned the last page. I'd probably be feeling a little better today if I hadn't done that, but it was worth it.





I can't wait to read the next book, the way this one ended and things it introduced, it definitely set up for a potentially awesome sequel that could even top this one.

Later.

p.s. I'm still ill, but I wanted to get this review done - if it's awful, lets blame it on the whole ill thing...and when I'm back to normal, we'll just blame my bad reviewing skills on...damn it, who/what can I blame?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

In My Mailbox (61)

I would make this fancier/nicer/add in my disclaimer (we all know Kristi/The Story Siren by now, yes?)/etc. But it's currently 2 am and I REALLY want to go work out before I pass out from exhaustion and I have church at 9 in the morning...so yeah. This is the best I can do.

Won:
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (from Random Buzzers)

Bought:
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Royally Crushed by Niki Burnham

What did you get in YOUR mailbox?

--Julie

Lanna:

And to continue the "very little effort went into this" IMM post, I'm ill, so I'm just going to list the books. No pictures or links or anything, sorry:


For review:

Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden (the movie tie-in cover, I had one of the old paperbacks already, but hadn't read it. I've seen the movie thought, it was really good. I'll give my extra copy to my friend)

The Opposite of Amber by Gillian Phillip (Already had an ARC, but this one is a finished copy and it's so pretty)

Defiance by Lili St Crow (I have Strange Angels, but haven't read it yet - I'll need to get the other books in the series too, it looks awesome and I've heard good things about it)


Later.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Discussion: Instant Read List

Before I get to the discussion part, I have a question for you all:

I’ve put GIF’s/pictures in a few of my more recent reviews, kind of like visual interpretations of my feelings on the book (examples here; Hex Hall, Like Water for Chocolate and Nevermore). Do you like this? Hate it? Want me to stop or do it more often? I find it really fun but I’d ease up on it if it annoyed people (I still do the written part of the review too, I won’t stop that).

Onto the discussion…

So, I've mentioned sometimes in reviews that an author has made it into my instant read list.

This is the list of authors who managed to wow me so much with one or more of their books that I'd be willing to read pretty much anything they write in the hopes of repeat awesomeness/wowgasms happening (…I’m not punny, am I? Yeah, didn’t think so).

It’s not quite the same as my favourite authors list, because so many authors are on my favourite list for writing a book I loved or for having beautiful writing or an ability to create characters that feel ridiculously real to me…but even though I adore those books, it doesn’t guarantee them a place on my instant read list.

If an author is on my instant read list, then I'm more likely to take chances on their books. If the cover of a book isn't drawing me in/the summary does nothing for me/the subject matter doesn’t appeal to me and the author isn't on my instant read list, then the chances of me reading that book are, well... a snowballs chance in hell. Really not likely.

But on my instant read list? I'm more willing to take a chance. I would buy a book by an author on my instant read list, even if it didn’t appeal to me because I trust that author to deliver something awesome.

I know that maybe I should branch out of my comfort zone with books anyway and try new genres and all that more often... but when there are so many book out there that actually do tick my Lanna Wants to Read This Book boxes, it feels like I don't have the time to take risks with new book types, I can barely keep up with the ones that actually appeal to me.

Anyway, discussion questions:
1. Do you have an instant read list (does not have to be an actual written list)
2. Which authors are on your list if you do?
3. Is it a case of once the author makes the list, they're there forever? Or can books by them you don't like get them removed? (If it’s the latter, how many not-so-awesome books would it take for you to lose faith in the author?)
4. How many books would it take for someone to make your list? One? Two? Three? More than that?

My instant read list, in case anyone wants to know (and the book/s that got them here):
  • John Green (Looking for Alaska)
  • Megan McCafferty (Sloppy Firsts)
  • Melina Marchetta (Jellicoe Road)
  • Cat Clarke (Entangled)
  • Stephanie Perkins (Anna & the French Kiss)
  • J K Rowling (...stating the obvious, Harry Potter)
  • Jandy Nelson (The Sky is Everywhere)
  • Lucy Christopher (Stolen)
  • Mandy Hubbard (You Wish)
These authors...just...


And I asked Julie for her list:

  • Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall, and Demonglass cemented any possible doubt.)
  • Libba Bray (My love of Gemma Doyle made me read a book about mad cow disease, road trips, and garden gnomes that are actually viking gods. I'm in it for the long haul.)
  • Myra McEntire (I've only read Hourglass, because it's her only book, but it's my favorite book in the world. So yeah. And I lovez the Myra.)
  • Lisa DesRochers (Personal Demons was amazing and I'm sure Original Sin will be too, but I think Lisa's personal awesome is my biggest reason here. And she writes some epically hot boys.)
  • Mandy Hubbard (She started with a Pride and Prejudice retelling (Prada and Prejudice). Then the genius of You Wish. No doubts ever.)
  • John Green (I didn't genuinely fall in love with Looking for Alaska (need to re-read), but I find I like him more and more as he grows as a writer, Paper Towns being my favorite of his.)
  • Julie Kagawa (Her name is Julie. She writes about my favorite cat. The Iron Fey series gets better every book. Woman knows what she's doing.)
  • Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss is probably the best "romance" book I've ever read. I will always turn to Stephanie for fluff-with-substance.)
  • Kiersten White (She's so funny! And anyone who can come up with the sparkly pink taser is instant win.)
  • Jackson Pearce (I've loved all her books so far and I love the sound of all her future projects and I think she's one of those authors that can always hit in all the genres I love. Add her epic talent and of COURSE I'mma read.)

Later.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books
[March 22, 2011]

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

 This book was utterly beautiful and hopeful and heartbreaking. Maybe I just said that about Wither, but it's a different way.

The writing was beautiful, but the story was what captured me. To some, it might seem monotonous, to me it was mesmerizing. It was emotional and it really affected me. It kept me up reading for hours. Once I picked it up, I couldn't stop. I had to know what happened to Lina. I had to know if she lived.

I feel like I cried a lot while reading this. The first few chapters had me constantly on the verge of tears. Eventually I kind of numbed to it, but the last 50 pages had me in constant tears. I had to stop reading a couple times to sob. It was heart wrenching. At the same time, the novel was hopeful. No matter how bad things seemed for Lina, there was always a feeling of hope. Hope for survival and happiness. Hope that it would end. A beautiful hope.

This isn't the story you're taught in school. And I'm honored I was able to read it. And I will be thrilled to pick up anything Ruta writes in the future.

--Julie

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither
Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
[March 22, 2011]

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

This was probably one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.

People always say how Shiver and Linger are beautifully written and kind of lyrical, and they are. But I think Wither is even beyond that. I was swept away into the alternate universe. I read it over a couple days in various locations and I can't remember any of the locations I read it in. I know there was a brief stint in the car, but otherwise? I couldn't tell you where I was. I was that engrossed in the story. The way only amazing writing can manage.

The characters in this novel weren't cardboard. Both of Rhine's sister wives were hard to love, but I did anyway. My heart ached for all three of the girls, even though Linden wasn't really that horrible. I actually kind of liked Linden and pitied him. I care pretty much everyone in this novel, except Linden's father. His father I purely loathed.

This story was heartbreaking and beautiful and I think if I could I would just repeat this sentence over and over again and call it a review. I have no other words that'll really express how much I love this book. This is one book that goes above and beyond it's gorgeous cover.

--Julie

Sunday, 13 March 2011

In My Mailbox (60)

All credit goes to Kristi at The Story Siren. We know this by now, yes?

Julie:

So...maybe I went overboard this week. Just maybe. But, whatever. It's too late to change what has happened.

[Someday I will vlog again. But I still don't know where the wire is for my new camera and by time I went to record it and realized my old camera was in my brother's room, my brother was asleep...so yeah.]

For Review:
Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen
Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi

Bought:
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Lanna:


For Review:
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Chime by Franny Billingsley (That cover = so pretty in person)

All I have to say about getting those is:


Bought:
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens

So...what'd you guys get this week?

Later.

p.s. You know you're addicted to Tumblr when you find it easier to express your emotions using GIF's than using words. o.O

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Clarity by Kim Harrington

Clarity
Kim Harrington
Scholastic Point
[March 1, 2011]

When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?

This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

 Mysterious and twisty and murder-y. With lots of yummy boys. What can go wrong?

Honestly, not much. Some of the plot twists I thought I saw coming, then they slapped me in the face and told me I was wrong. I even thought I might know which yummy boy she'd end up with...that was another slap in the face.

The writing was really good and well paced for such a short book. I knew all the characters and understood them in a very short amount of time.

The romance was deliciously balanced with the murders. (I'll mark that as a sentence I never though I'd say.) All the boys had aspects to them that made me like them, though in the end, Gabriel ended up being my favorite.

I would say more, but I'm just...I'm in a review-funk lately. But I want to write reviews and read and I can't read and not try to keep up with reviews, or it all goes badly. So, you guys get these so-so reviews. Sorry. =/

But overall, Clarity was an excellent paranormal read. Fun, mysterious, quick, and made me crave summer. Definitely not a book to miss!

--Julie

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall
by Rachel Hawkins

Summary: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

So I’ve had this book in my to be read pile for ages and decided to read it after Julie insisted that I should and she gushed about it and the sequel. Julie and I don’t always have the same taste in books, but this is one of the ones that we definitely agree on.

GIF's say it better than words (yes, I'm doing this again because I have a killer headache right now and what I write won't properly explain my feelings for the book):


While reading, inside I was all:


But then I finished the book:

And I did not have the sequel right there with me to begin reading:

But still, overall, the book left me pretty much:



/Visual intepretation and onto words...

The book was awesome, I really loved it. So much that I fully intend to buy the US hardcover’s of Hex Hall and the sequel, even though I already own the UK edition, because I want the outside of the book to reflect the awesomeness of the inside (the UK covers really don’t do the book justice at all).

Sophie was a great character. She was a realistic teenager, which doesn’t happen in a lot of paranormal books -- they often try and make the protagonist be relatable while still being a *unique little snow flake* that everyone is supposed to love and usually just makes the character seem like a Mary Sue. Sophie wasn’t like that and I loved that about her. Plus, her sense of humour and thoughts managed to make me laugh a lot.

The romance in the book was subtle, it wasn’t some epic love story where we’re supposed to believe it was love at first sight and they’re going to be together forever and live happily ever after. It started with a crush and the lines between love and lust didn’t get too blurred like they do in so many paranormal romances.

Archer. He annoyed me. But he annoyed me in that way that boy you have a crush on but refuse to admit it kind of way and he was one of my favourite parts of the book.

I loved Jenna and the other minor characters (even the bitchy characters -- I didn’t like them, but I loved to hate them).

The plot and the whole magic element of the book was brilliant and when I was reading it, it felt really original -- you know when you’re reading a story and even though you love it, elements of the plot don’t feel brand new because you’ve read variations of it before in other books? This book didn’t feel like that, I love that feeling of originality when I read a book (not saying that I haven't read books like this or with similar elements before, I have, but it felt new and unique which is what matters most).

Annnd this review has been awful and generic. But that is because I am tired and it kind of feels like there are tiny little people using my brain as a trampoline right now and it really hurts, because I was up all night and then put a lot of strain on my eyes to finish reading the book. It was worth the headache I now have.

If you haven’t read Hex Hall, go read it. It has the “This Book is Awesome” seal of approval from both me and Julie.

On another note, I have a question: am I the only one who really, really does not like the UK covers at all? The US ones are gorgeous, the UK ones are just… generic and kind of - blah.

Later.

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