Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley


A Little Wanting Song
by Cath Crowley

Australian title: Chasing Charlie Duskin


Summary: CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.

ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.

I love to read. I know, I know, I'm totally stating the obvious there but I have a point: I love to read, and books like this are a big reason why.

When you read a lot, you come across so many different books; good books and bad books, books you love or like or hate, books that make you laugh or think or cry or just...feel. Some books get under your skin, while others just entertain you for a little while. Every so often though, you stumble across a rare gem of a book that just -- clicks. Something about it just gets to you in away that makes you feel alive and inspired in a way that other books can't quite manage and when you finish the last page, you just want to keep reading more and more books to find that feeling again.

Or maybe I'm the only person this happens to. But either way, this book was one of those books for me -- I love a lot of books, but there aren't many that trigger that feeling in me but this one did. It's right up there with books like Jellicoe Road, The Pipers Son, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Sky is Everywhere and books by John Green

I guess I'm just trying to explain that because it's easier than trying to explain what it is that makes this book so brilliant to me, because all I can come up with is a generic list that doesn't even begin to do the book justice; amazing characters who screwed up in ways that made them real and they were unique, the book had amazing writing that made me ache at times or laugh and stick so many scraps of paper in the book to mark the pages of quotes I loved and the story...I don't know why, but I just loved it. Music being woven throughout the story? Adored that so much, too.

The book was like a song, one of the great ones that you hear and feel and know you won't forget and that years down the line it will still be one of your favourites. I don't know if other people would feel this way about this book -- I guess that's one of the great things about reading, the way people can interpret the same story in different ways, it's so subjective -- but I loved it and Cath Crowley is on my instant read list now...the only bad thing is that finding her books is difficult seeing as this is the only one published outside of Australia (that I can find at least).

Later.

p.s. If this review doesn't make sense, please note that I stayed up all night reading this book and it's 2:30pm as I'm writing this and I still haven't slept yet, I get more rambly and incoherent when I'm sleepy. :)

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs


Summary: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
This book wasn't at all what I was expecting -- actually, I'm not sure I knew what to expect, but it was kind of brilliant. I adored the book, it was odd in a good way and definitely one of the more original books I've read over the past few years.

I loved the writing, it was one of those books that had me putting little scraps of paper throughout the book to mark the pages with quotes that I liked. A few non-spoilery ones that I liked:
“When someone won’t let you in, eventually you stop knocking. Know what I mean?”

“We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing them becomes too high.”

I loved the characters. I don't read a lot of books with male protagonists, but it's books like this one that make me want to change that -- Jacob was awesome. He kind of reminded me of Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower a little bit; likeable, awkward, comes across as both unique and a normal teenager, which isn't an easy thing to do (The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favourite books, so please note that comparison as a big compliment). I adored his grandad, although we didn't see him much, and the relationship he had with him. All of the peculiar children and Miss Peregrine were great. Basically, all of the characters, even the minor ones that we don't see much of, were awesome and had distinct personalities.

I mentioned this in my In My Mailbox post the week I got the book, but the book is gorgeous. It's packaged really well and I loved the pictures were woven throughout the story -- the pictures themselves were awesome; creepy and odd with that cool old fashioned feel that makes me want to go explore old abandoned places. Basically, Quirk Books, Book covers/interiors: you're doing it so, so right. Even if the book wasn't awesome, which it was, it'd be one I'd like having on my shelves purely for its visual awesomeness.

There wasn't really anything I particularly disliked about the book. The only negative was that some parts of the book (just after the beginning but before it got to the middle) got a little slow, but even then it still had the writing, characters and awesome weirdness as a crutch to make me keep reading through those parts until the pace quickened.

This isn't the type of book I would normally read just from the summary (cover lust and hearing good things about it put it on my to read list), but I'm really glad I read it and I think you should give it a chance too, even if it's not your usual kind of book.

Later.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy

Sharks & Boys
Kristen Tracy
Hyperion Book CH
[June 28, 2011]


When 15-year-old Enid Calhoun follows her boyfriend Wick to Maryland for a party, fearful that he might be intending to cheat on her, she finds herself sneaking on board a houseboat where Wick and his friends plan to have a wild night. But before the boys discover their stowaway, a hurricane strikes, and the teenagers are carried miles from the shore and shipwrecked. What follows is a harrowing, yet heartwarming, story of survival, as the teens battle hypothermia, dehydration, man-eating sharks--and along the way, confront their own deepest secrets, including their catalytic roles in the disaster.

 This seems like a cute, silly read. Until you actually read it and your look on life starts to change.

At first, I didn't like Enid. She seemed silly and boy crazy because, let's be honest, who drives 1,000 miles to follow a boyfriend that broke up with them? But she did grow a lot as a character. I wish we could've seen her grow more, because it seems like she'll continue developing a lot after the end of the book.

Every character had flaws. Even the most flawed character had moments of redemption. And I appreciated that because no person is entirely unlikable (I mean...kind of. I guess Voldemort's got nothing going for him. But anyway). I developed an attachment to all the characters, no matter how short their appearance.

The story also made me think a lot. Things happen in this book that made me question my life and death and religion and what I'd do in this situation. I also thought about forgiveness and how much I could do it myself. At one point it made me cry...it was a very long point.

The beginning drags, I won't lie. This was my first book for the Book-A-Day Challenge and I was discouraged. But I made myself sit down and read it and I was totally absorbed in the book. Didn't even realize how much time had passed and how much I'd read until my butt started falling asleep and then I kept reading anyway. It's a really incredible, moving book. Just stick through the first 60 pages or so. There's a lot that goes on and a lot to learn and a lot to think about. It's just...an incredible, thought-provoking read I highly recommend.

--Julie

Monday, 27 June 2011

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs


Tempest Rising 
by Tracy Deebs

UK Release date: July 4th
[note: that is the UK cover]

Summary: Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother.

The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kona, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did I loved it.

The first half of the book was a little slow…it wasn’t bad and I did enjoy reading it, it just didn’t hook me. Then there was sort of a turning point in the middle and I didn’t want to stop reading, even when I was getting so tired that the words on the pages started to blur.

Other than the slow start, the only other thing that sometimes bothered me about the book was that the writing felt a bit ramble-y or repetitive at times but I liked the story enough for me to overlook that most of the time.

I think this is the first mermaid book that I’ve read (at least that I can think of) and it has totally left me wanting to read more. The whole…underwater world that Tracy Deebs created was brilliant and I really wish there was a sequel so I could read more about it. I won't say anything more about that, because I can't without spoiling it but it was really awesome.

Tempest was an odd character. At times, she frustrated me beyond belief and I hated her a little bit for the choices she made or things she said or did or didn't do, but then she had her shining moments where she would make me forget all of that and adore her. And Kona…well, swoony-melty-happy feelings were induced by his character, he was just lovely and I wish he was real and that I could keep him.

The romance in the book…I really liked that, it was my second favourite part of the story after the whole ocean world. It was a bit - Love At First Sight-ish, or obsession/lust at first sight, to begin with but the fantasy element made me alright with it. While reading, in my head I was like this half the time:

The *Bad Guy* of the book actually managed to creep me out a few times and that is very rare in books. I don’t get scared or creeped out easily (unless spiders or the wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz are involved then I’m basically a quivering ball of fear), so I loved that the book managed to get under my skin like that a few times. Again, I can’t really explain properly without spoiling the book, so I won’t go there.

I wish the book was longer. Or that it was the first in a series (I’m not sure if it is or not, there’s no mention of a sequel on goodreads yet?), it definitely leaves the book open for a sequel while working as a stand-alone...Tracy Deebs, write more, okay? Please? I'll buy you a pony?

Basically, I loved the book. It took a while to get into but once I did, it was so worth it and you should go read it, especially if you like mermaids or haven’t read books with mermaids before in which case this is a good one to start with.

Later.

*please note: I didn't draw those pictures, they're common meme type ones that are all over the internet (I found them on tumblr). :P

Sunday, 26 June 2011

In My Mailbox (74)

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

Lanna:



For review:
Brother/Sister by Sean Olin

This one has been on my wish list since I heard about it - I'm a sucker for twisted stories like this. :)

Bought:

Blankets by Craig Thompson
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

I've been wanting to read Blankets for ages, it's a graphic novel and a bunch of people have said how amazing it is and then in the chat for Jackson Pearce's live show this week, someone was saying how great it was again and so I stopped putting it off and got it. I've heard good things about The Lover's Dictionary too, I think this is the first David Levithan book I've read that wasn't co-written with Rachel Cohn. 

Later.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Moonglass
Jessi Kirby
Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
[May 3, 2011]

From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead.
I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.
I adored this book. It was fun yet sad and romantic but heartbreaking and just...so beautiful.

Anna was a fantastic character. Flawed but still likable. Her relationship with her dad was amazing to watch. It was real and honest and just made sense. I just...I loved Anna. And I loved her lifeguard.

The story was beautifully written. I just...I LOVED the writing. I wanted to keep reading and stay in that world of a Forever Summer. Jessi Kirby has some SERIOUS talent.

You've probably heard this before, but this book was SO Sarah Dessen-esque. If you love Dessen's books, you'll love this one. It's just a perfect read for summer and for anytime of year, really. Just...fantastic. So fantastic.

--Julie

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens
Libba Bray
Scholastic Press
[May 24, 2011]

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. 
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

 I want to marry this book.

Libba Bray continues to be a genius in this book. It was witty and hilarious and fun. But it also made me think. About America as a country and the economy and what society values. That was the main point of the book since it's, you know, a satire.

I adored the Beauty Queens and all of the other characters that popped up. They were all unique individuals (except when they weren't supposed to be) and everyone played an important part in the story. The girls were all these wonderful, unique characters and each of them was beautiful and special and intelligent in her own way. I loved what Libba did with these girls to prove her point.

The story itself was never dull. There was all these sub-plots for all the girls and all these mysteries. They covered bits that weren't about the girls and was going on in the outside world.  There were character "biographies" and "commercial breaks" and these fun little extras to ensure people stay invested and entertained. Just...never a dull moment in this book. My favorite part, however, would have to be the footnotes. Especially #47. You will love it too if you know Libba.

The ending was fantastic. You just...have to read it to understand.

Honestly, this book was just beyond amazing or fantastic or any other words I could try to give you. It was pretty much perfect, except I want it to be longer. I want more. There's just NOT ENOUGH OF THE PERFECTION.

So, this book and I...we're gonna go frolic in a meadow and then say our vows. And you should probably go get your own copy so you can frolic in the meadow with us.

--Julie

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mini-Review: Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot

Nicola and the Viscount
Meg Cabot
Macmillian Children's Books
[February 7, 2004]

 Nicola

Nicola Sparks, sixteen and an orphan, is ready to dive headlong into her first London Season. A whirlwind of fashionable activities awaits her, although nabbing a husband, ordinarily the prime object of every girl's Season, is not among them. For Nicola has already chosen hers: a handsome viscount by the name of Lord Sebastian.

The Viscount

Lord Sebastian Bartholomew is wealthy, attractive, and debonair, even if the few tantalizingly short moments Nicola has spent with him have produced little save discussions about poetry. Nicola is sure that a proposal from Lord Sebastian would be a match made in heaven. Everything is going well, until the infuriating Nathaniel Sheridan begins to cast doubt on the viscount's character.

Nicola is convinced Nathaniel's efforts to besmirch Lord Sebastian's sterling reputation will yield nothing. But when she begins to piece things together for herself, the truth that is revealed has as much to do with the viscount as it does with Nicola's own heart.
I don't really have a lot to say about this book. It was just cute and fluffy. The characters were fun and feisty. I loved Nicola and Nathaniel. The story was exciting and fast paced and it was just a quick read. It's light and fun and perfect for this time of year! I  highly recommend this book as well as Meg Cabot's other historical YA, Victoria and the Rogue!

--Julie

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the lovely ladies of The Broke and the Bookish.

There's a lot of things I love being a book blogger. Let's see if I can explain this properly.

1. Getting people interested in books I love. I love getting my thoughts out there and I love promoting books/authors I love. My friends and I all have different tastes, so it makes rec'ing books hard. But here I have hundreds of people who listen to me rave about a book and then they want to read that book and sometimes they send death threats. But I know they're death threats filled with love. And really, I get the BIGGEST thrill when someone says they're buying a book based off of my review. I grin stupidly and sometimes I clap and bounce. It makes my day!

2. The interaction with authors. Pre-blogging, authors were these mystical creatures who magically produced books. Now they're people I talk to often and I call friends. There are authors who like what I have to say and like this blog and that totally blows my mind. I'm this silly 16-year-old girl who gets to TALK TO AUTHORS I LOVE. This is CRAZYSAUCE and utterly mindblowing. Let's not even talk about when an author comments or emails or follows the blog/my twitter.

3. Learning how publishing works. Is this something I could've found out without being a blogger? Probably, but I wouldn't have bothered. Since getting into blogging, I've learned a lot about the process to publish a book and it makes me respect authors so much more and I can appreciate almost every book I read. I don't know every detail, but I know enough to be in awe of people who work in the industry and I know enough to want to be involved.

4. The other bloggers. I've said it many, many, many times. But the bloggers in this community are amazing, intelligent, funny people. There's a lot of generosity and kindness and openness. There are problems among bloggers, of course. But everyone has problems. And, to be totally honest, if things were perfect and kittens and rainbows all the time, things would be BORING. There's a perfect balance of kindness and dramz.

5. The full community. Bloggers, authors, editors, publicists, agents. Bestsellers and those still aspiring to write, people who have been blogging for 4 years and people who started 2 months ago. This community bans together in times of crisis, raising money for those in need by donating time and books and other services. When under attack, we bite back. Hard. It's incredible to be a part of this...force.

6. Lanna and Harmony. I can call people a reason, yes? Honestly, without blogging, Lanna and I probably wouldn't talk as often/much as we do. And I can't have such random conversations with just anyone. We talk about death and ghosts and spiders and bookshelves and dream houses and movies and tumblr and just...everything.
Harmony is probably one of my best friends. Total honesty at all times. The best critique partner I've ever had and this girl should probably be a life coach or a motivational speaker or something. And without blogging, I never would've known her.

7. The books I never would've read. Ever. I get a lot of recommendations from other bloggers and authors and I get random books from publishers. Books I probably NEVER would've picked up. And yet now I love them. Whole heartedly. Hex Hall, The Hunger Games, Divergent, all of Sarah MacLean's books, Salvaged, The Duff, Sea, Thirteen Reasons Why, and probably even Hourglass. Do you know what a tragedy that would've been?

8. The escape. Let's say I have homework. Well, surely I could work on a review instead? Well, I shouldn't review without doing homework first...maybe I'll just go on twitter and talk to people. There's just always someone to talk to, someway to escape everything I should do. Someone to tell me what I'm doing is okay, even if it's probably not. 

9. For keeping me informed. Like I mentioned, the blogging community is big on helping out during disasters and big about making sure we're informed. I know more about the situation in Libya then the news ever discusses and I wonder about them often. Same in Egypt. I know about all the floods and tornadoes and other disasters happening in this country and how it effects people, even people I talk to. The little bit of news I get to catch in the mornings and snippets I catch after that never tell me these things.

10. For what it's done for me. I talked about this in my YASaves post and my Speak Loudly post (not that most of you ever got a chance to read that...), but this community's done a lot for me. I feel more mature and intelligent because of wonderful people who tell me I am mature and intelligent. Yet I can also be myself in a way I can't always be myself with my friends. I'm always worried about being too annoying or whiny or needy. I'm always worried my friends willy stop liking me because I talk too much or I'm too honest with them. But here, I'm myself and people can take it or leave it. Sometimes I wonder why certain people don't like me, but I've grown to accept it. I have enough friends here that it doesn't bother me like it would in school. It's the kind of thing that I wish all teenagers could have. Because it's amazing.


I'm just...gonna leave it there.


--Julie

Monday, 20 June 2011

Rise by Stefne Miller

Rise 
Stefne Miller
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
[March 6, 2011/June 21, 2011]

"I’d come to a place of realizing that even if only for a time, Attie’s existence was heavily dependent upon my ability to protect her and shine light in her direction. At the same time, I had to give her enough room to live her own life. I also knew the connection was fragile and that as I navigated the space just outside her world, if her life were to start to spin out of control, I wouldn’t be able to come closer and intervene without causing more damage. I understood that I was created to be a part of her life, but only at a safe distance.

Our universe, the one that seemed to only include us, was about to be hurled into an entirely new solar system."
---
Attie Reed has finally found some happiness after the accident that took her mother’s and best friend’s lives and nearly destroyed hers. But that doesn’t mean life is going to get easier. She may not have nighttime monsters to fight, but her world is about to spin wildly out of orbit.

In the captivating, highly anticipated sequel to Stefne Miller’s Salvaged, Attie is faced with the challenge of fitting in at a new school while figuring out her next steps. Riley continues to fight with her and for her as she encounters difficult battles. He has been her protection, but he can’t protect her forever.

When Attie’s father finally comes back into her life, she is faced with her most difficult decision yet: to stay in Oklahoma and keep the life she has made or return to New York to repair her relationship with her father and allow herself to heal. What happens will define who she is and who she will become. Can she fight this battle alone and Rise? Or will she continue to fall out of orbit and be lost forever?

Intense. Unpredictable. Heart wrenching. Romantic. Wonderful.

Stefne Miller's grown into an even better writer. It's hard to believe, but she has. The emotions this time were so much more intense for both the characters and me. At times, it felt like my heart really was breaking and other times I nearly burst into tears.

The characters were as real as ever. For a lot of the book, I was annoyed with Attie for her reactions, but they made sense considering what was going on in her life and what's happened to her in the past. Riley was as sweet and patient as ever and that boy...he's trying to take my heart. I can feel it.

I just absolutely adore Attie and Riley's story, from Salvaged to Rise. I love how they transitioned as individuals and as a couple. I love how their families change. I love how their faith changes. And I love how Stefne's changed as a writer.

Really, I just think everyone should read this, even if you aren't religious or don't want to read Christian fiction, this isn't JUST about religion. It's about relationships (romantic, family, friends, and yes with God) and dealing with horrible events and just....growing as a person. They're phenomenal books that I highly recommend.

--Julie

*About the Release Dates: You can order a copy from Stefne's site and even get it signed now. But it won't be available on Amazon until tomorrow.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

In My Mailbox 73

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

Julie:

Quite a few books this week, so I'm just gonna jump into it:



For Review:
Blood Red Road by Moira Young (audiobook and finished copy)
Fateful by Claudia Gray
Queen of the Dead by Stacy Kade
Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy

Won:
Possession by Elana Johnson

Gifted:
Red Glove by Holly Black
Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell by Crickett Rumley

Bought:
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Thank you to P and S at Simon and Schuster, M at HarperTeen J at Disney-Hyperion, Alex at Electrifying Reviews, Briana at The Book Pixie, and April at Good Books & Good Wine!

I'm SO excited for these books and it makes me happy I'm doing the Book-A-Day Challenge.

Lanna:

I got 12 books this week, I think, so...:



For review:


Miss Peregrine's House for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The book sounds really odd, but good odd. And the book itself is gorgeous - everything from the cover, to the way it looks without the dust jacket to the inside with the pictures and things.

Exile by Rebecca Lim

I really liked the first book, Mercy, so I can't wait to read this one. :)


Bought:

Penguin Epics: Cupid and Pysche by Apuleius

Reading Mad Love, although I didn't love that book, made me want to read the original Cupid/Pysche story.

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

I meant to get this a while ago, I loved Shade. I hate that I got the UK cover though (the shelfari print screen shows the US one but I got the UK) - I think the UK ones are awful, but the US one was more than double the price and I may be a coverwhore but it seemed a bit silly paying extra when I could just get another book instead for the extra amount.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

...I think Julie has spammed the blog enough about this book over the past few months that I don't need to comment.

Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

I've been wanting to read this for a while, my best friend adores the story.

Queen of the Dead
by Stacey Kade

I needed to get this one after reading the first book, it was just cute and addictive (cover comment: does it bug anyone else when their series don't match? The copy of the first one I have is paperback, this is hardcover, gah! Not as annoying as the Shade/Shift mismatching but still).


The String of Pearls by Thomas Preskett

This is the original Sweeney Todd story, the one that the movie and all that is based on.

Ultraviolet by R J Anderson

It just sounded interesting and I saw a few good reviews of it.

Ulysses by James Joyce
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

More classics that I want to read eventually.

A Little Wanting Song
by Cath Crowley

I desperately want to read her other book, Graffiti Moon, but it's not out in the US or UK and the shipping from Australian sites is insane, so I'll just read this one.

Later.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Book-A-Day Challenge

So, it's no secret that I have a lot of books on my TBR pile. I think I'm currently at 100 books (goodreads check says 112 and I'm hoping to get more books in the next few days). 

It's also not a secret that I'm now on summer vacation. Only responsibility I have this summer is to watch Boy when he's home and do some summer reading and a calculus packet. 

This gave me the crazy idea to read one book every day for this summer (I mean...the week I'm actually on vacation, not included). This way I make a massive dent in my TBR pile and I'll have lots of reviews stored up for when I go back to school and start senior year. I definitely need to focus on school and college applications and getting a job come fall and so a lot of my time will be gone.

The challenge starts Monday (June 20) and ends...at some point in late August. I don't have all the details worked out because I'm working on this as I go.

Will this challenge go perfectly? I dunno. But this weekend I'll be typing up reviews I haven't done and getting caught up on blogging to start this challenge. 

If anyone feels like joining me, go ahead! The more of us doing it, the more likely we are to succeed...theoretically. 

The books I'm working with:


--Julie

Lanna:

I've realised that I do things better when I'm involved in some sort of challenge or something, particularly reading. Example: I was in kind of a reading funk but when Julie and I did the "books my co-blogger forced me to read" challenge, it was easy to get through them while left to my own devices, I would've probably dragged it out a lot longer.


The stupid thing is that I love reading. Once a book has me hooked, I can finish it in a few hours. My problem is procrastination. I procrastinate a lot...I'm in kind of a reading funk right now because there are so many books that I want to read but when I'm in the mood to read, I just let myself get distracted with other things.


Anyway, I was whining about this to Julie the other day and said I read more/better when it's part of a challenge and she said she was doing this challenge and I was all, "Ooh! That'll work!" - so basically, I'mma jump in on Julie's challenge.


I can't wait until I can get to some of my own books too, I have a big stack of review books with really close together release dates (actually about 5 have the same release date: July 4th) and while they sound good and I'll probably like/love them, I still want to get through some of my own books that I chose and bought. 


And I'm done rambling.


Later.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Hourglass This or That



Today, we have my lovely boy, Michael, stopping by to answer a few This or That questions!

Pirates or Ninjas? I'll have to go with ninja. Kaleb's more of the pirate type.
Past or Future? Wherever Em is.
Nerd or Geek? Geek.
Sweet Girls or Tough Girls? Tough on the outside, sweet on the inside.
Hardcover or Paperback? Hardcover.
Fiction or Non-fiction? Fiction.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. Dark chocolate.
Mansion or Apartment? Four walls and a door. Maybe a window or two.
Going Out or Staying In? Staying in.
Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor or Eleventh Doctor? Aren't they all the same character? If you want me to debate who's the cutest ... Tennant. Now I feel weird. 


Thanks for stopping by the blog, Michael! It was fun coming up with the questions.

Hourglass is out now and I DEFINITELY think you should go pick it up and get to know Michael better (if you couldn't tell from this post and this post and my review).

--Julie 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Hourglass Releases TODAY!

Yes, my lovelies, the time is finally here! Hourglass by Myra McEntire is out and about in the wild! You can, you know, OWN IT. You can finally understand why I've been talking about this book CONSTANTLY since February. You can gush with me (which does mean you're welcome to email me...just know I may ask to forward the gushing TO Myra.).

So, if you've pre-ordered it, you should anxiously stare at your UPS/FedEx/mail person until they give you a book-shaped package with Hourglass in it. If you haven't, you should run and/or drive to the nearest book store. If they don't have it, demand they get it in stock and move on to the next store. Repeat this process until you find it.

Me? I'll be pulling the "I finished school and I really NEED THIS BOOK NOW" card to pick it up this weekend. And a few other books. Because...my summer vacation starts Thursday and I NEED a finished copy of Hourglass (and a few other books).

--Julie

P.S. Not TRYING to pimp myself out here, but I've posted lots of Hourglass quotes on my tumblr should you need teasers.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade


The Ghost and the Goth
by Stacey Kade


Summary: Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star… and newly dead.

I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot bod, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?

Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.

I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?
I really loved this book. It wasn't insanely original or a book with a deep meaning that'll get under your skin, it was just...really fun to read. It was cute and entertaining and funny and I loved it.

I adored the characters. I absolutely hated the principal and the therapist dude to the point where I wanted to scream at them but didn't because, well, I'd look ridiculous screaming at a book.... Will was lovely, I just wanted to hug him and Alona was surprisingly likeable considering the fact that she wasn't...particularly likeable? Does that even make sense? I hope it does.

I loved that Alona and Will's relationship develops naturally, it doesn't feel forced and neither of them has to really change for it to work, instead they just learn to really see each other beyond their superficial judgements. I especially liked Alona's character development -- how she stays the same but is different, it's not like one of those books where the mean girl suddenly sees the error of her ways and turns into a good girl who is nice all the time, she's still Alona.

The plot wasn't particularly original...the first half of the book was like a mash-up of two of the NaNoWriMo stories I've written in the past (Just A Little Bit Dead and Broken Strings), right down to a couple of the plot twists and I'm sure I've read other books like it too. The second half was more original though and even the parts of the book that weren't, it was still good and had me hooked from the start.

I'm kind of a sucker for the whole ghost/medium type story and the popular girl/goth cliche.

There was some romance in the book, but it felt more like a paranormal book that happened to have a romance subplot than being a book that is a "paranormal romance" and I really loved that. I don't want to give spoilers, so I won't say anymore about that.

Actually, there's not much I can say about the book really without giving spoilers so I guess I'll just leave the review at this: I loved it and you should read it if you want something light and fun to read. I'm dying to read the sequel now -- not because the book left me hanging or anything, I just want more of the characters.

Later.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

In My Mailbox (72)

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

Lanna:

I didn't buy any books (although I did get one other book, sort of - I'll explain below) but I got some awesome books this week for review, I'm really excited to read all three of them.

(picture was taken on my phone = sucky quality)
For review:

Wolf Blood by N. M. Browne
Gamerunner by B. R. Collins
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

They all sound awesome. :)

Annnd a book not for review that is a book but sort of not a book...except it kind of is (lolwhut?):




Tomorrow, Infinite by...well, me.

To those of you that do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or have heard of it, you'll probably know that the winners each year (at least every year I've been taking part) get a free proof copy of their book printed up from CreateSpace and that is mine.

It's not actually the story that I wrote for NaNo, because I decided that I hated that and won't finish it until enough time has passed for me to not hate it anymore (that's my process: excited about idea, write idea, hate idea, ignore idea for months, look back later and decide it's not *so* bad and start writing it again), so instead of wasting the free proof copy, I used it for something else.

The cover...you may have seen it before if you've been following the blog for a while. I made it for a recreate a cover contest last year sometime and decided to edit it and use it for my own story. (And the title is odd, it makes sense after reading the story.) :)

Later.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors


Mad Love
by Suzanne Selfors


Summary: When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.
I can’t think of much to say about this book. It wasn’t what I was expecting…I liked it, it was entertaining but there were some things that stopped me from loving it.

The biggest issue was that it read like typical chick lit; cute, entertaining story but not much depth and not one that would stick with me -- which is honestly fine, I read and enjoy plenty of books like that, the only problem I had with the book having that feel was that it didn’t mesh well with the subject matter.

Basically, the book deals with some serious issues (mental illness, the effects it can have on the family of people who suffer from it) but the general tone of the book made the story feel kind of flat in that area and something that should’ve/could’ve had a bigger impact on me just…didn’t. I barely had any reaction to it at all except wishing those parts of the book would drag less so I could get back to the bits that interested me.

The romance in the book was kind of just there. It was sweet but it's not the kind that pulled me in and gave me butterflies and had me rooting for the characters to be together, it didn't feel even close to being the focus of the book, it was cute and realistic in that crush/like feeling instead of being about love (in a book that has cupid as a character, I was expecting more about love). The Errol/Alice relationship had more spark than the actual romance in the book and I wish that was explored more.

The thing’s I liked about the book were the characters, particularly the minor ones (there were times where I just didn’t like Alice or the way she handled things but she grew on me). They didn’t make me laugh or make me swoon or make me wish I had people that awesome in my life…they were just likeable and realistic in most ways and I liked that.

My favourite part of the book was Errol and his story - he was my favourite character and his story was like…a story within the story and it was the most interesting part to me, especially seeing as I love certain aspects of mythology. Honestly, I think if the book was a little longer and focussed more on him and his story then I would’ve adored it (hell, if it just told his story in detail instead, cutting out everything else, then I would’ve loved it).

Basically, the book was enjoyable. I liked it, but it’s not one that will be lingering in my mind after I finish this review (as the really good books tend to), I’ll just put it up on my shelf and easily start reading something new. I still recommend the book though, the issues I had with the book might not bother other people and even if they do, it's still a cute light read.

Later.

p.s. Is it just me, or is the US cover way better? The UK one just screams “14 year old girly-girls, come and read me!” while the US one looks a bit…classier or something.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

Falling for Hamlet
Michelle Ray
Poppy
[July 5, 2011]

Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.

Passion, romance, drama, humor, and tragedy intertwine in this compulsively readable debut novel, told by a strong-willed, modern-day Ophelia.

A brand new kind of romance. 
Hamlet's one of the usual jerk-y, abusive boyfriends we see often in YA books. And Ophelia takes it. But the difference here is that she knows what he's doing is wrong. She often thinks about how it needs to be over, but stays with him for one reason or another.

It's probably because I've never read Hamlet and only know some details, I was shocked by some of the things in the play. It was twisty and turn-y and makes me want to read the play even though I've never enjoyed a Shakespearean tragedy. I was never bored reading this. Sad sometimes, happy others, did a victory dance a few times, but never got bored.

The writing definitely pulled me in. It was interesting. There were different "sections" to each chapter. Ophelia during a TV interview, the actual story that went with that interview, and her interview with detectives. It was interesting and different and kept me involved.

The characters themselves kept me from really loving it. I knew going in most of the characters wouldn't be that great, but it was a lot worse than expected. Characters I like are always SO important to me, so it was just hard to read a book where I think I only really liked...3 or 4 characters the entire time? And two of them weren't huge characters. It didn't make me hate the book or dislike it. I still really enjoyed it, but it did take away some of that enjoyment. It's not even the author's fault. It's ALL Shakespeare's fault (Have I mentioned I have problems with Shakespeare? Because I do.)

But I really, really liked this book. It was a really good mixture of plot and writing and characters and flaws. A different kind of YA book than normal, but still very enjoyable. As long as you're okay with massively flawed characters you want to smack, you can love this book.

--Julie

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith

Today, we're doing a vlog review. Because...well I explain why in the review. It's also easier to do a vlog review and post it here instead of typing it up and then I don't have to feel bad when we don't have a post for every day. So everyone wins!

 
Do we like this? Can I do this more often to help me catch up on all the reviews I need to write? Do you have any thoughts on this book?
--Julie

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Discussion/Rant: YA Saves//Why You Shouldn't Tell Me What to Read

Well, why you shouldn't tell Julie and other teens what to read (seeing as I'm not a teen). If you want to know why we're mad or how the whole YA saves thing started (#yasaves = trending world wide on twitter right), then go read this article.

This post is kind of long...I cover the ranting while Julie's part leans more towards the YA saves theme and she recorded an awesome video about the topic.

Lanna’s thoughts:


1. The thing that pisses me off most of all about articles like this and the people that agree with articles like this, is that fact that they don’t even READ the books that they’re condemning. Writing an article like that based on ignorance is ridiculous (reading the summary of a book =/= knowing what the book is really about).

They go on about violence and serious issues like suicide and self harm and things like that and how *oh-so-awful* it is that these things are being portrayed in books for teens…now, I would agree -- IF the books were glamorizing these issues, but they do not do that. Not even close. Books with serious subject matter are usually about understanding issues like that, they’re about the characters journey to overcome those problems and their process of getting better.

Books about abuse aren’t saying, “Oh hey, look, abuse is fun! Find a bad guy who will treat you badly and hurt you then date him and stay with him.”

Books about self harm and depression aren’t saying, “Oooh, look at these characters, look how much fun it is to want to die and how good it feels to drag a razor blade across your skin, look how cool and awesome it makes you!”

And those are just examples. The point is, teen books aren’t How To guides on their subject matter…they’re not teaching kids to be screwed up, if anything they’re doing the opposite. They’re cautionary tales. They show the effects that these issues can have on a person and their life.

Now, the less serious stuff…things like sex and swearing.

Sex happens. Lust is a natural thing that, sorry mums and dads, your teenagers WILL deal with at some point…they’re not going to spend the rest of their teenage years thinking that the opposite sex has cooties.

Reading about it in books isn’t going to corrupt their innocence and make them go shack up with the first guy that shows an interest in them, drop out of school and end up pregnant before they hit 18 while you cry your heart out about how, "It all went wrong when she read that darn YA book!" and how your kid was such a good girl/boy until they started reading YA.


Really…what is the worst that can happen from a teenager reading books that contain sex? Really? Think really, really hard about this one?

2. Second thing that pisses me off about people that write crap like that article: it doesn’t give teenagers enough credit.

If your kid is wanting to devour the YA section of your local book store then you probably have one of the good ones and you shouldn’t be worrying about them being out having sex with some guy when they’re probably more likely to be sitting in their room swooning over one that doesn’t even exist outside of the pages of the book they’re reading.

Also, someone in the comments of the article mentioned how the bad language in books will have a negative impact on teenagers…dude, seriously, it’s the vocabulary of the teenagers that DON’T like read that you need to be worrying about (and I assure you, there is nothing that they will read in the pages of a book from the YA section that they won’t hear--probably worse--just by walking out their front door and going to school).

And I’ve said this before, but teenagers don’t walk around with a Monkey See, Monkey Do mentality…or in this case Monkey Read, Monkey Do and if they did then that's because you didn't raise them well enough to know better, it's not an authors job to parent your child for you and teach them right from wrong (although some of their books do a damn good job of it). Just because it happens in a book doesn’t mean they’re going to go out and do it themselves (and if they do, it sure as hell won’t be because they read about it in a book).

Don't underestimate your kids, give them a bit more credit.

3. Third thing that pissed me off about this article in particular: the whole Now vs. Then comparison.

Yes, things in books were a lot tamer back when she was a teenager or even earlier than that…but that’s because the world used to be a lot more conservative.

People are a lot more open minded now than they used to be and this is a good thing. Books may have been tamer 50 years ago…but things like racism, sexism and homophobia were a much bigger issue in reality. There weren’t books about teenage girls having sex because it was a taboo subject…there weren’t books about teenage girls coping with abusive relationships because it wasn’t talked about or judged in the same way.

Hell, back before there technically was a Young Adult catagory for books, the woman writing that article would've probably been expected to be a wife and mother whose opinion didn't count for much because she happened to have two XX Chromosomes and was lacking in the penis department. And yet she seems to think this was some sort of Golden Era for literature because the books were tamer....

4. Last thing: there’s nothing you’ll find in a YA book that you won’t find a worse or more extreme version of on the news and that is reality, not fiction and the Bible has everything the article complained about and more and that’s the thing these people think we should live our lives by.

They're complaining about violence. Turn on the news...how many wars have teenagers been exposed to in the last decade? How many revolutions have they seen on the news in the past few months even? How about terrorist attacks? Murders? Rapes? Any other crimes?

Think back not that long ago...we found out Osama bin Laden had been killed and on the news, on the streets, people were throwing a party over the murder of a human being. A bad human being, yes, but a human being all the same. And someone in the comments was complaining how YA books will make kids desensitized to violence....


Sorry if any of this didn’t make much sense, headache + sleepy + ranting does not add up to = sense.

Later.

Julie's Thoughts


I spent a lot of time thinking about this before making the video and after making the video. And here's what I didn't get to say:

YA books have helped me in countless ways. Because YA books have brought me to the YA community. And...I don't know where I'd be without the community, but I'm willing to bet it'd be worse than this.

During the Speak Loudly campaign, I realized that how I felt around my dad's best friend wasn't right and I wasn't dirty because of that one time he ruined any relationship I had with him. It made me realize that if he ever puts me in a situation like that, I need to say something. 

I haven't had a good self esteem since I was 9 or so. Back when I still thought I was going to be a singer or a fashion designer and I'd just started writing. I've always been complimented for my smarts, but never for my talents or for my looks. Not since I was 9 and my parents was still in that "You're so adorable, I'll always say nice things to you" time. I've been bullied and put down since middle school started. I've gained weight.

I'm so rarely comfortable and happy with myself. But since getting involved with the YA community, I've become more comfortable and accepting of who I am. I sometimes even think that I look pretty or beautiful. Sometimes I can even get myself to sexy for a moment or two. I've started to think that maybe I'm talented and maybe I can be a writer some day in the far off future. But without YA, there'd be no community to help me with that.

I also started reading YA at one of my darkest points in life. At age 10, I came very close to attempting suicide. The only thing that stopped me was knowing how much my family would miss me and knowing that Boy (who was probably under 1 at the time) would never know his big sister and how much she loved him. Writing this post and thinking of Boy not knowing me and me not being here with him now has me hysterically crying while I type.

But I started reading YA when I was 11 or 12 and I've never gotten so bad. As I've gotten older, things have gotten harder and now I have a community of bloggers and authors and best friends who won't LET me get that dark. And I sometimes the idea of cutting will flash through my head, but I never go through with it. I've learned that no matter how bad it seems, I'll never need that. I don't need to be dependent on something like that.

YA has taught me lessons that I can't learn in school. How to learn about a friend being gay or transgender or whatever it may be without letting it effect a friendship or without being shocked or offending. Whenever someone comes out to me, I'm able to just shrug and say "That's who you are and it doesn't change the fact that I love you" and we move on. I wouldn't know about people being banished to Siberia during World War II. I wouldn't know what it was like in India for the people there after the 2006 tsunami. I wouldn't know that all of the feelings I've bottled up need to be released and I wouldn't have decided that when I graduate, just before I leave, I plan to write "confessions" for some people in my life to read. I wouldn't have been able to help my friend who was abused. I wouldn't know that one of my friends probably has an eating disorder and I wouldn't know how to try and help her without confronting her and potentially destroying our relationship and making things worse.

Without YA I wouldn't have people to turn to when it seems like nobody else can listen. People like Lanna and Harmony and Brent and Myra McEntire and Lisa DesRochers and Stefne Miller and Suzanne Lazear and Mitali. I wouldn't have so many people who can make me laugh every day. I wouldn't have people to help me with homework and critique my writing and help me get in the Top 20 for a writing contest. I wouldn't have people who can listen to what I say about the "serious stuff" and GET it. Without YA, I might not even KNOW about the serious stuff.

I wouldn't be who I am without YA. I wouldn't see the world the way I do and I wouldn't see religion the way I do. Nothing would be the same and the world would be a smaller place. Maybe my room would be cleaner and I'd get to bed at a decent time but I think a messy room and being tired often is alright considering all the good things.

--Julie

In My Mailbox (71)

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

Lanna:

I don't think I did IMM last week, because I only got one book, so I'll add that to this weeks bunch.


Forgot to add a picture of the Inkheart cover, oops.


For review:

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Honestly, the summary of this one isn't a book I'd usually go for unless loads of people told me it was awesome (even though I think the cover is gorgeous), but I love Alyxandra's Drake Chronicles series so I can't wait to read this one.

David by Mary Hoffman

Again, not the kind of book I'd usually go for. I might give it away or have a contest or something if I don't intend to read it.

Bought:

Adverbs by Daniel Handler

I think that's also the guy who writes using the penname Lemony Snicket, right? I read a bunch of quotes from this one on goodreads and it made me wanna read it.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

I've heard really mixed things about this one, but cover lust won out (plus the summary sounded good). Fun fact: a photographer from deviantart whose photos I've loved and been subscribed to for a while had one of her pictures used for the German cover (this book practically won the YA cover lottery, the UK, US and German covers are all gorgeous).

Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

I'm in a dystopian and contemporary phase. Divergent has me craving more epic dystopian books but I'm not sure I'll find one that can top it any time soon.
Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

Can't remember how I stumbled across this one but reading goodreads quotes from it made me want to read it.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I've always been on the fence about reading this. On one hand, so many people gush about its amazingness but then...it doesn't sound like the kind of book I'd be into and the movie didn't make me want to read it even though I think the idea of the story is brilliant. But, I caved thanks to a piece of fan art I saw on deviantart.

I really need to get some sort of calander/diary with book release dates because so many books are being released that I want to read but by the time the release date comes I have forgotten about them and end up buying older books instead.

Um, anyway, enough rambling. I don't think Julie is doing IMM this week. What'd you guys get? And have you read any of the books I got? If yes, did you like them?

Later.

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