Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Kite Runner Graphic Novel by Khaled Hosseini


The Kite Runner
Graphic Novel
by Khaled Hosseini


Release date (UK): September 5th 2011

Summary: 1970's Afghanistan: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to an Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find one thing his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

Since its publication in 2003, nearly 7 million readers have discovered The Kite Runner. Through Khaled Hosseini's brilliant writing, a previously unknown part of the world was brought to vivid life for readers. Now, in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel adaptation, Hosseini brings his compelling story to a new generation of readers.
I'm not the biggest fan of graphic novels, usually I find them too vague and seeing as I'm a bookworm, I like it when the story is told in detail...but this one? It was amazing.

I've heard a lot of people mention The Kite Runner before but I never read it, I'm not quite sure why but I wish I had read it sooner because the story is really one of the most heartbreaking stories I've ever read. After reading the graphic novel, I watched the movie (also awesome) and ordered the actual novel, as well as Khaled Hosseini's other book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, because if it has even half the heart that The Kite Runner does then it's a book worth reading.

The story made me cry a whole bunch of times and I want to go into detail about that but it would spoil the plot and I don't want to do that, so I'll just say this: it definitely makes the top ten books that can make me cry list...it was shocking and painful and the ending was perfect, just the right amount of sad and happy and it felt so real.

The characters were what made the story brilliant (and one thing I do love about graphic novels is that we are shown the characters - what they look like, their expressions, little snapshots of their story). Hassan is one of my favourite fictional characters ever, probably, he was such a genuinely good person and he suffered so much but he was fiercely loyal and had such a good heart - my heart broke for him like a hundred times over while reading the story. The other characters were great too, but he was my favourite.

One of the brilliant things about this book is that the love in the story isn't really romantic love and most of my favourite books have romance in them...for this one to make my favourites list without that, it's quite an achievement. It's about friendship and family and it's told beautifully and painfully. And that's all I can think to say about the story. I really recommend reading it (the book or the graphic novel - I intend to read both, the graphic novel made me want to read the full novel).

Later.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Deception by Lee Nichols


Deception
by Lee Nichols


UK release date: 5th of September 2011 (I think)

Summary: When Emma Vaile's parents leave on mysterious business trip, it gives her the perfect excuse to be a rebellious teen. Throw some parties, get a tattoo (or maybe just a piercing), and enjoy the first few weeks of her junior year. Then her best friend stops talking to her, the cops crash her party, and Emma finds herself in the hands of a new guardian--her college-age "knight in J.Crew armor," Bennett Stern--and on a plane to his museum-like mansion in New England.

After enrolling at Thatcher Academy, Emma settles in by making friends with the popular legacy crowd. But she can't shake the strange visions that are haunting her. She has memories of Thatcher she can't explain, as if she's returning home to a place she's never been. Emma doesn't trust anyone anymore--except maybe Bennett. But he's about to reveal a ghostly secret to Emma. One that will explain the visions . . . and make Emma fear for her life.
The cover of this book does not do it justice and I’m mentioning that because the cover, while it’s not awful (I actually kind of like it), makes it look generic...like it's just like the majority of YA paranormal books out there but this is one of the good ones, one of the rare gems hidden amongst all of the mediocre stuff and I never would’ve guessed that from the cover. A cover like that wouldn't stand out to me in a book store, but the story stands out.

I really loved the book. It was fun and fast paced and it had a bunch of laugh out loud moments (and while I'm easily amused to the point of it being ridiculous, there actually aren't many books that can make me laugh).

If you liked books like Hex Hall or Paranormalcy, then this book will probably be good for you - it’s different from those books but it has a similar charm. The way it’s written with such personality and manages to maintain a good balance between fun and serious.

Emma was a great protagonist. Actually, I think she may be one of my favourite main characters I’ve read in quite a while. There were times where I wish she would question things a bit more, demand answers but I can sort of get why she doesn’t and in general, it was so fun being inside her head. She made me laugh with her random awkwardness, I could related to her and empathize with her and she was unique and normal at the same time…which is kind of contrary, I know, but if you read it then you’ll understand what I mean.

And Bennett…he was lovely, although frustrating. Actually, I loved all of the characters, especially the ghosts, they were just awesome. Even her family managed to have such a presence in the book even though they weren’t even in the book really, just mentioned by Emma.

I loved the setting and the paranormal aspect and the plot, the way it kept me hooked right from the very start (and I’m not kidding - my eyes were messed up after reading the book because I strained to read the book cover to cover while tired). It ended in a way that left me desperate to read the sequel and I’m going to go read the sequel as soon as I finish this review actually.

Sum up: I really recommend the book, it was awesome and I think it’s going to be the start of a really great series and it’s the perfect thing to read if you’re craving something fun but not necessarily light to read.

Later.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead


Bloodlines
by Richelle Mead


Summary: When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.

Let me just start of by saying that I liked this book…I needed to make that clear because I tried writing this review twice and both times it seemed way more negative than I had intended - it’s a difficult book to review because it’s impossible for me to not compare it to the Vampire Academy series and in those inevitable comparisons, Bloodlines is just a bit underwhelming.

It felt more like a continuation of the Vampire Academy series with a switch in narrator than a spin-off and because of that, its hard to judge it as a book in its own right.

I liked being back in the world created in the Vampire Academy series and it was interesting to see that world and characters I adored from an entirely different perspective.

Sydney…well, she’s no Rose, not even close but I liked her. She annoyed me at times and seemed like kind of a pushover but in a way it made her more real because she was flawed…her flaws just happened to be more irritating than Rose’s were. The Alchemist thing kind of bugged me - but then, their general belief is that vampires are these awful, evil things and they judge them for what they are instead of who they are…seeing as all my favourite characters from the books are vampires, it did get kind of annoying hearing them insulted like that.

I loved that my favourite characters from VA were in the book, either consistently or mentioned or popping up every now and then - the only negative about that was that most of my favourite characters were ones I was already familiar with and already loved from VA…it’s kind of hard to like the book and have it stand on its own as a series when it is using the existing characters as a crutch.

Adrian was my main reason for liking Bloodlines. He is awesome, he was one of my top three favourite characters in the VA books, so I loved getting to see more of him -- particularly because I hated the ending he got in the other series so I hope this one gives him the kind of story his character deserves.

If you like the Vampire Academy series then I do recommend reading the spin-off series, it was good, just not quite as good as Vampire Academy and the two are so linked that it’s almost impossible to read them and not compare the two (at least for me). Hopefully the sequel will become more of it's own story.

Rating (because I’m not sure if the review makes it clear): 3 out of 5 stars.

Later.

p.s. Sorry this review is kind of lame -- like I said, I tried writing the review twice, this was attempt three...and also, I'm ill right now and all I want to do is go sleep until I feel less awful, not exactly the ideal reviewing mood.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In My Mailbox 83

Julie:




For Review:
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen
Fury by Elizabeth Miles

--Julie

Lanna:


For Review:

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead and the Vampire Academy Graphic Novel

I already read and reviewed the graphic novel (it's not shown in the shelfari print screen cause on shelfari, it added that as another copy of VA instead of a new book) and I should have a review up of Bloodlines on Monday.

Bought:

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

I bought The Year of Secret Assignments a while ago and really want to read it, but then I noticed it said on goodreads it was book 2 in a series - I don't know if it's a companion novel or a direct sequel, but anyway, this is book one.

Song for Katya by Kevin Stevens

I stumbled across this one while I was in my, "I want to read about Russia!" phase - the title hooked me and it sounds good.

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

*shrug* It was there. (I have the UK cover--which the goodreads link takes you to--the Shelfari print screen shows the US cover.)

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I asked Roo (male best friend) a while ago for a book recommendation and he said this one, that it was one of his favourites and I finally got around to getting it.

What'd you guys get? :)

Later.

Breaking Down the Monster - Monthly Book Stack: September

I'm not sure if any other blogs already do something like this, it's not particularly original, but feel free to join in if you want (in the comments or on your own blog).



Anyway, here’s how it works:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that our To Be Read piles are massive and- kidding. Well, not about the size of the TBR piles, but the Jane Austen reference…anyway: we really need to break them down ("them" being the big TBR pile/the "monster" referred to in the post title) and try and read a certain amount of books each month.
To sum up:

1. At the start of the month, choose some books from your TBR pile. For me, I’ll probably try for 10 each month but just do whatever works for you -- try and choose some books that you've been meaning to read but keep putting off for whatever reason.
2. Make a post (or comment) saying what those books will be and stick to those books (even if there’s a new book you just *had* to buy - try and stick to your picks for that month).
3. Review books are the exception, if any randomly show up with a release date approaching then they can take priority over the books you choose for this.
4. Try to read all the books in your pile by the end of the month (or as many as you can).

There will be people who are already all organised in their reading, I'm just not one of them - I'm like a kid who gets distracted by shiny new toys and throws the other ones aside...only with books.

Okay, onto the books. And I promise that the second post we do like this will have less rambling because there'll be no need for the intro.

SEPTEMBER BOOKS

Lanna:

1. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
2. There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
3. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
4. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
5. One Day by David Nicholls
6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
7. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
8. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
10. Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
11. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
12. Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield

Don't know if I'll manage to get through them all - I can read 12 books in a month quite easily but I'm the queen of procrastination and if review books show up too, then they'll be my priority (The Name of the Star is actually a review book). I was going to choose just 10 books but...didn't. Yes.

If there's any there you'd particularly recommend/like to see me review, let me know and I'll try get to those ones first. And you can check out all the books I own on my shelfari, if there's any books you want to request I read for October.


Later.


Julie:






Somehow I ended up with 12 books too. Go figure.
(You notice the holes in my teeth? Those holes used to be teeth. But they were FORCIBLY REMOVED FROM MY SKULL last Saturday. True story.)

1. The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegan (Technically an end of August book. But whatever.)
2. Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
3. Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
4. Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jenn Violi
5. Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
7. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
8. Supernaturally by Kiersten White
9. The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
10. Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
11. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
12. Readers Choice

And for the choices, click here. You do have to be my friend to see my shelves, but just mention you follow the blog and I'll accept.

For those not watching the video, pretty much all of those are review books or I need to read them for school. Theoretically, next month will be more "me" based. At the moment, I only have two review books to read that haven't been released yet and when it comes to review books that are already released, I tend not to be as "OMG MUST READ NOW." So, yay!

Thoughts on these books? And also make sure you leave a suggestion for me to read in the comment because I iz indecisive. 

--Julie

Friday, 26 August 2011

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly Departed
by Lia Habel

Release date (UK - also note that is the UK cover): 29th of August 2011
Summary: As far as romantic pairings go in the year 2195, you don't get much more unlikely than an upper-class schoolgirl and a poor miner from enemy tribes. Filter in the fact that he's a zombie, and you're definitely talking about star-crossed love.

Dearly, Departed is a cyber-Victorian/steampunk romance that takes place in the shadow of a new ice age. Nora Dearly, a mouthy teenage girl and apparent orphan, leaves school for Christmas - only to be dragged into the night by the living dead. Luckily for her, though, the good ones got to her first. From her reanimated rescuers she learns not only that zombies are roaming the countryside, but that her father is one - and that he's in terrible trouble. She also meets Captain Bram Griswold, a noble, strong, and rather sweet undead boy for whom she starts to fall.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Pamela Roe, is just trying to carry on with life as best she can in the wake of Nora's disappearance - when she ends up killing an evil zombie in self-defense. Pam is galvanized into action, and ends up leading a group of survivors as the city of New London is thronged by the ravenous dead.

Upon hearing of Pamela's plight, Nora and Bram set out to rescue her friends, find her missing father, and maybe just save what's left of the world.
I really loved this book, it was original and awesome and…kind of weird. But in a good way. I mean, it mixes a very odd combination of things that I wouldn't have really expected to be put together but they somehow worked really well.

The characters were great, especially the zombies. I never thought that I would find a zombie to be swoon-worthy, but damn - Bram totally was. He was lovely - he was sweet but strong, the perfect mix of good guy with bad boy edge. If I had to pick a favourite character, he’d win hands down but his friends were great too and Nora would be a close second favourite. As far as narrators go, Nora is pretty awesome - she’s stubborn and fierce but it’s in this odd way because of the New Victorian aspect of the story.

I really liked the setting - I’m kind of burned out when it comes to historical fiction so I was wary of how the whole “New Victorian” thing would work for me, but the way it mixed old traditions and fashions and ways of living with modern (and futuristic) technology was pretty cool (gave it kind of a steam punk type feel - with zombies thrown in…awful ones and adorable ones and funny ones…I approve!).

My only complaint about the book would be the point of view switches. I’m really not a big fan of alternating POV’s in books, I only really tolerate two characters narrating the story but this one had more (not too many and not too often but it still bugged me a little). I loved Bram and Nora’s chapters but I wasn’t too fond of the others, particularly Pamela’s chapters - I liked her character, but her parts of the story were kind of dull and dragged a bit (although they got more interesting later in the book).

The alternating narrators wasn’t done badly in this book, I just don’t really like it when books do that anyway so it would’ve had to have been done amazingly for it to not bother me - it was just alright and I wish the author had found a way to tell the story in just Nora’s perspective or even hers and Bram’s. It took me a couple of days to read the book because I could put it down, if it didn’t have the other character chapters thrown in then I probably would’ve read it cover to cover in one sitting.

Anyway, the book is really good (I’d rate it 4.5 stars if I had to rate it out of 5). I really recommend it.

Later.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Discussion: Standalone vs. Companion vs. Series

A lot of books now seem to be part of a series, particularly books that are being made into TV shows and paranormal books - standalone paranormal books seem so hard to find now. Basically, this discussion is going to be about whether or not a series is a good or bad thing.

Series:

I’m a firm believer that you can have too much of a good thing. I’m okay with trilogies, three books is kind of just right for me - I’m cool with four in a series, but that’s starting to push it. I love The Vampire Academy series but when it went from being four/five books to six, I kind of groaned in annoyance.

When there is too many books in a series, it can make me stop reading a series all together or not even both starting.  Examples:

The Private series by Kate Brian…I started this series a few years ago when there was only about two or three books out in the series. But the series kept getting longer and longer - I think it ended at like 14 books or something and there was two prequel books and a spin off series that is currently about 6 books long and it was just…too much. So I gave up on the series all together even though I own at least half of the books, some of them aren’t even read.

Pretty Little Liars? I own the first four books and if they had ended there, I would’ve been fine reading them but they keep adding more and more. The Lying Game series is probably going to be the same so I won’t even bother going beyond the first book. Same goes for the Vampire Diaries even though I own the first two bind ups.

The Sookie Stackhouse series…I like the TV show True Blood and kind of want to read the books but the series seems never ending so I’m not even going to bother reading them.

The Mortal Instruments series was perfect as a trilogy, it ended just right and I was totally satisfied with how it ended…but then it was announced that the series was going to continue - I bought the fourth book but I’m not sure if I’ll even bother reading it, I might just pretend it ended with City of Glass because it seems like the series is being dragged out because it’s popular. I may continue the prequel series, but - TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING! Gah!

So I’m really not a fan of long series. Between two and four books is perfect, but more than that then I probably will not read the books at all and there aren’t many exceptions to that rule for me - my to be read pile is massive as it is without adding loads of book series that end up being more than ten books long.

Some of the exceptions: The Harry Potter series, because I was young when I started those books and the books were so good that I had to continue and J K Rowling seemed to have them perfectly planned from the very first book…it wasn’t like she was milking the series for all she could and dragging it out longer than she had to - seven books was perfect for that series.

Other exceptions: the Jessica Darling series. I read and loved the first book so I bought the rest of the five book series…haven’t gotten to the others yet, but I will eventually because the books are really good. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot was another except but those books are quite small and short so the entire series can be read in like a day.

Standalone:

I love standalone novels. The majority of my favourite books are standalones, because they only have one book to make a lasting impression so the ones that achieve that are usually very brilliant, it never seems like they’re setting up for a sequel or that they’re just filler books.

It’s mostly contemporary books that tend to be standalones. I really can’t think of any paranormal standalone books (I know there will be some, I just can't think of any right now)…if you know of any that are good, let me know in the comments?

Companion:

Companion novels…have not read a lot of these but I think they’re great - books that you can read that are like part of a series but they can be read in any order without having to read the other books in the series. So companion novels are a yay.

To sum up my rule (although, as I’ve mentioned, there are rare exceptions) in pictures:



One book:
Two books:
Three books:
Four books:
Five books:
Six books:
More than six books:


Discussion questions (feel free to disagree with me - opinions are subjective afterall):
1. Do you like books to be a series?
2. Do you like companion novels?
3. Standalone novels vs. series?
4. How many books is your limit?
5. Will a series being too long put you off reading them?
6. What are some of your favourite series?
7. Do you know of any paranormal standalone novels (yes, this question is me fishing for book recommendations)?

Later.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Possess
Gretchen McNeil
Balzer + Bray
[August 23, 2011]

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.
This book...freaking fantastic. I described it to Harmony as The Iron King except they're not faeries and it's darker. And y'all should know how I loved The Iron King.

See? I'm even breaking out a Southern accent I don't have. This is serious business, guys.

I adored Bridget. She was badass but she was also vulnerable and then she was tough and when people got through you could see she was just confused and lost with everything going on in her life. And there was a lot going on. I wanted to hug Bridget while I was reading.

I really enjoyed all the characters. They all did their parts well. Her friends were fantastic and the creepers were creepin' and the little brother was five kinds of adorable and reminded me of my brother. There were two creeper-esque characters I wish we could've seen a bit more of because they were interesting, but their presence wasn't MAJOR to the plot, so it made sense.

The writing is amazing. I started reading around 2:30 in the afternoon and was done by 6. This included two trips into the pool, chair adjustments, and being an attentive big sister. I was trying to tan and for the last...I'd guess hour I wasn't actually in the sun and it took me a while to realize that. And then I didn't care enough to move because I had to keep reading. On top of that, the story is told in third person, but it kind of reads like it's in first person, which is something I've never seen and it was pretty awesome.

I'll also be honest and tell you that I was a little nervous to read this book because I'm a wuss (says the girl who wrote a Cannibal Love Story...) and thought it'd be scary, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. It was thrilling and mysterious and a little angsty, but never truly terrifying or anything. So if you're a fellow wuss, don't fear. You're all good.

Just go get this book. For the love of Darcy, go get it. You will probably thank me later.

--Julie

Monday, 22 August 2011

Vampire Academy: Graphic Novel


Vampire Academy
Graphic Novel


by Richelle Mead, Leigh Dragoon (adaption) and Emma Vieceli (illustrator)


UK Release date: August 23rd 2011


Summary: After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir's Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It's filled with intrigue, danger - and even romance. Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.
This was awesome and I'm really glad I read it. I'm a big fan of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead and it was really fun to go back and read the first story again but in a different way.

I wasn't too fond of the Lissa and Rose illustrations at first, but they grew on me and I loved them by the end, especially Rose. Dimitri and Christian are swoon-worthy even in drawings, they were my favourite characters and I loved all the scenes with those two. I loved seeing the story visually instead of just in words (although, I kind of wish there was a bit more of the Dimitri/Rose scenes drawn in there but what was included was good).

I haven't read a lot of graphic novels, but ones like this one do make me want to read more, it really did justice to the original story and if you're a fan of the Vampire Academy series then I suggest reading it. The graphic novel is more fast paced than the book because the story is condensed and it takes less than an hour to read so it's perfect for if you want to re-read the story but don't have time to re-read the whole book (like me).

If you haven't read the books yet, I suggest maybe reading the books first because if you start with the graphic novel then you'll know what all the plot twists are and it could make the book less enjoyable to read but that isn't an issue if you read the graphic novel first because the pictures aspect is a novelty and keeps you reading.

Rating (I know I don't include ratings often but it's difficult to review a graphic novel of a story I've already reviewed - there's not much to say about it): 4 stars.

Later.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

In My Mailbox (82)

Lanna:


Note: I have the UK versions of Dark Inside and Dearly Departed, the covers in the shelfari print screen are the US versions, but the goodreads links below take you to the versions I have.

For Review:

The Poison Diaries: Nightshade
by Maryrose Wood

I think this is the second book in a series? So I can't read it until I buy and read the first.

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

That one sounds awesome, I can't wait to start it.

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Already started reading this one and I like it so far. Should have a review up for it soon.

Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvey

I can't wait to read this one. It's the fourth book in the Drake Chronicles and I love the series, s'really fun (wasn't *too* fond of the second book but the first and especially the third were really good).
Bought:

The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I loved The Kite Runner graphic novel I was sent for review, and the movie, so I bought the actual book and his other book.

Anyway, what'd you guys get this week? :)
Later.

Julie:                                                                                                                                                        

Well, first off, I'm massively jealous of Dearly, Departed. I've been lusting for that book for what feels like forever.

And second, no vlog this week. I had four teeth forcibly removed from my head this morning (it's currently Saturday night), so I had no control over my lower jaw until like 6 o'clock and then I was too tired to vlog. Plus, it wasn't worth it.

For Review:

...???:
Firelight and Vanish swag from Sophie Jordan (Team Draki bracelets, Firelight and Vanish post cards and Firelight stickers)

Now I will go watch The Tudors until I pass out...and maybe I'll put some more gauze in my mouth while I'm at it.

--Julie

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Sweet Venom
Tera Lynn Childs
Katherine Tegen Books
[September 6, 2011]

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

This was an entertaining read.
The girls themselves are all so different and unique. Their personalities were very precise and sharp and it made it easy to tell they were different people, even if you forgot to check the beginning of each chapter to see who it was (which I only did a few...a lot of times).

I also loved the little sub-plots that Grace and Gretchen had. Their own details to worry about. Greer had little things to take care of, but she didn't have anything major like Grace and Gretchen. I'm hoping that her personal dilemma comes out in the second book.

The writing and the action kept things interesting. It wasn't constant action, so it did lull at times. And I kept getting pulled out of the book just as I started to get sucked in, so that created even more problems.

While parts of the book were predictable, the ending was not something I saw coming at all. It surprised me and left me wanting book 2 all the more.

This is a fun yet dark read. Full of kick butt girls and mysteries and an interesting and intriguing ending. It's a different kind of paranormal from what's usually on shelves. I highly recommend this one.

--Julie

Friday, 19 August 2011

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia

Dreams of Significant Girls
Cristina Garcia
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
[July 12, 2011]
Brought together each summer at a boarding school in Switzerland, three girls learn a lot more than just French and European culture. Shirin, an Iranian princess; Ingrid, a German-Canadian eccentric; and Vivien, a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker culinary phenom, are thrown into each other's lives when they become roommates.

This is a story of 3 paths slowly beginning to cross and merge as they spend the year apart, but the summers together. Through navigating the social-cultural shoals of the school, developing their adolescence, and learning the confusing and conflicting legacies of their families' past, Shirin, Ingrid, and Vivien form an unbreakable bond.

This story takes readers on a journey into the lives of very different girls and the bonds that keep them friends.
This was a different kind of read.

Shirin, Ingrid, and Vivien are the definition of flawed characters. I seemed to like and dislike all the characters at one point or another. They all made mistakes, some of them stupid, and sometimes they just had some bad times. I didn't like any one girl more than the other because of this.

Their stories were all unique and interesting. They all came from different backgrounds and different places. Besides their age, it seemed like they had nothing in common. But then they started growing together. And it seemed the most obvious thing in the world that they would be best friends. 

I loved watching these girls grow and fall in and out of love and make it through family troubles. I loved the fact that it wasn't just these girls and that fate had a funny way of making itself known. Sometimes their journey lulled, but that's how life is. 

It's not my usual kind of read, but I'm glad I read it. Sometimes books like this are just what you need. Books that make you think a little without being overly difficult. If you're up for something a little different, this is definitely one to try.

--Julie

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mark Walden Blog Tour: Villainous Dinner Party

So Mark Walden has written up an awesome blog post for the release of his new book, Aftershock (book 7 in the HIVE series). The books sound awesome (Ally Carters spy series-esque only super villains instead of spies and a little less girl oriented).

You can find the other tour posts by clicking the blog tour button in the sidebar and you can find more info on Mark's website, the HIVE website, Mark's twitter or his facebook.

Aftershock 
by Mark Walden


Summary: Scheming, extorting, menacing and general evilness are nothing new in the world of villainy - indeed it's expected. But there are codes of conduct. Until now. In an attempt to purge the Global League of Villainous Enterprises of its more destructive elements, Dr Nero has underestimated the cunning and resources of those who oppose him. Meanwhile, Otto and the rest of the Alpha stream have been sent to begin their most feared exercise: The Hunt, in the icy wastes of Siberia. But there is a traitor in their midst. The first strike against Nero will be a strike against the Alpha stream. Villain-kind is on the brink of CIVIL WAR.
Now, onto Mark's blog post:


A VILLAINOUS DINNER PARTY 

To continue the villainous theme of some of the previous entries on the blog tour I thought I'd have a quick chat about what I think would be the perfect villainous dinner party.   

Now, you might say that a dinner party doesn't seem like a particularly villainous thing to do and I can, therefore, only assume that you've never seen an episode of “Come Dine With Me.”  I actually happen to think that such a gathering would be the perfect opportunity for some of the all time greats to get together and compare notes on their various nefarious schemes.  They could discuss the disappointing level of style and glamour to be found in the modern hero or the relative difficulties of hiring reliable henchmen.  It would be great! 

The initial problem for any host of such a gathering would have to be deciding on a venue.  My first thought was a Hugo Drax style space station in low Earth orbit because there's nothing quite like a dining room with a good view but, that might, unfortunately, raise a few transportation issues.  Trying to get a taxi late at night is hard enough in London, so just imagine the problems at the end of that evening.  You can almost hear the taxi driver already, “sorry Guv, I don't leave the Earth's troposphere after midnight...”  So perhaps it would be best to just use the various guests' private armies to take over a more terrestrial location.  How about the top of the Eiffel Tower?  Good views and plenty of decent chefs ready to be kidnapped nearby.  Perfect. 

The next decision would have to be what to eat?  My first instinct was to see if the Maharaja of Pankot Palace would let me borrow his chef but, then I watched Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom again and realised that while his chilled monkey brains are clearly to die for that he might not be brilliant if we need a vegetarian option.  In the end I decided that we'd go for something more traditional and have Roast Beef with mustard (gas). 

And the guests?  Well here's a short list of some of the wonderful people that I'd like to invite. 

The Joker – Brilliant sense of humour and great converstaionalist.  Always make sure to have a few of your more disposable henchmen around though for him to exercise his more...erm...homicidal tendencies. 

Darth Vader – Great company but, the mask can prove to be a bit of a problem.  Make sure to have plenty of soup.....and a long straw. 

Ernst Stavro Blofeld – Always a pleasure to have as a guest.  Be careful to make sure that he doesn't wire the chairs of any of the other guests to the mains electricity, especially if they have somehow disappointed him. 

Sauron – Some may know him as the tyrannical overlord of Mordor but, I happen to know that he makes a Black Forest Gateau that truly is one dessert to rule them all. 

Lex Luthor – Incredibly intelligent and hugely entertaining just don't mention “the hair” or Superman as he has slight tendency towards ranting at and then randomly disintegrating people if he gets upset. 

All in all, it should make for a highly entertaining evening with only a handful of minion fatalities.  What more could you ask for?

Lanna: I concur with the Darth Vader and The Joker choices, they'd definitely make interesting dinner guests. :P

Later.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Forbidden (The Demon Trappers #2) by Jana Oliver


Note: this book is a sequel but the review isn't spoiler-y (the summary will be though, so I suggest not reading that till you read book one)

Forbidden
by Jana Oliver


[this is the UK cover/title]


Summary: Riley's beginning to think being a demon trapper isn't all it's cracked up to be. Her dad's been stolen by a necromancer, her boyfriend's gone all weird and she's getting warm and fuzzy feelings for someone who's seriously bad news. It's tempting to give it all up and try to be normal, but that's not an option. Because the demons have plans for Riley. And they're not the only ones.
I really love this series, there’s just something about it. I think it’s the setting, the time and place where it is set makes it have this…grounded kind of realistic feel to it but it has a supernatural dystopian feel to it. It’s set not too far in the future and while I’ve never been to Atlanta, the world still had a sort of familiarity to it - I could picture the world being that broken (although maybe not infested with demons, although that’d be cool in a warped/twisted “it’s like living in a movie” kind of way).

And I’m going off on a tangent. This book was just as good as the first one, maybe even better and it left me wanting more, just like the first one did. There were characters I loved, characters I hated, characters I loved to hate and ones that used to be awesome that now make me want to punch the book in the hopes that their fictional faces will somehow feel it.

There’s honestly not much I can say about the book without getting all spoiler-y (especially about the romance), so this review basically just comes down to: I love the book. I love this series and I think you should go read it. (Sucktastic review, I’m aware, but whatever.)

Really, the only thing I didn’t like about the book is that Jana Oliver is one of those authors that are very guilty of one my writing pet peeves. She writes accents phonetically…and worse, she writes a Scottish accent phonetically (being Scottish, that one bugs me the most).

There was lots of “ya” being written instead of “you” (more annoying seeing as it was used for the Scottish dude and the one from Georgia), “ta” instead of “to” and “verra” instead of “very”…I wanted to throw the book sometimes because of that, I can’t stand it when authors do that (and with Scottish ones, it usually sounds all wrong, like...the way a Scottish person pronounces a word can depend on the context/who they’re speaking to and the placement of the word in a sentence and you in a cliché Scottish accent is more like yae/yay than ya).

…So yeah, that’s my only complaint with this book. I’m not sure why it bugs me so much - it annoys me in the same way text talk does and I guess I just think that telling the reader someone is Scottish is enough (or wherever they’re from) is enough without writing out their accent (often badly) and make them kind of stereotypes of the place they come from (although Jana isn’t so guilty of the last one - she only had Stewart wear a kilt once *facepalm*).

Sorry this review has been half sucky/vague, half ranting.

Later.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test
Aimee Carter
Harlequin
[April 19, 2011]


It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.


Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.
I adored this book.
I genuinely liked Henry. He wasn't this "dark" guy that was really just an ass. He was likable and sweet to Kate, but a little messed up. Understandably so, all things considered. I liked Kate. She was strong and focused and really cared for the people in her life. Her mom, Henry, her "servants." She was just a genuinely caring, intelligent person. 

I really enjoyed the writing. It kept me engaged and was just a fast read. It was mostly predictable, but there were some twists. Though I could kind of tell how it would end, I still needed to know exactly what would happen.

It's an enjoyable retelling of my favorite Greek story. Really well done, honestly. I can't wait for the sequel!

--Julie

Monday, 15 August 2011

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman

Enthusiasm
Polly Shulman
Puffin
[February 16, 2006]

There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast. Julie knows from bitter experience: her best friend, Ashleigh, is an Enthusiast. Ashleigh's current fancy is also Julie's own passion, Pride and Prejudice, and the heroine's quest for True Love. And so Julie finds herself swept along with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks and sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys' prep school. There they discover several likely candidates for True Love, including the handsome and sensitive Parr. And Julie begins to wonder if maybe this obsession of Ashleigh's isn't so bad after all. . . .

 Lemme just say, I am biased.

1.) This is a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Duh.
2.) This girl's name is Julie. *looks at bottom of post*
3.) Julie loves Pride and Prejudice. A lot. As does Ashleigh. *examines self*
4.) This story takes place across a river from where I live. Not even exaggerating. It's one county over.

But really, this was an adorable read. I loved how it wasn't just Pride and Prejudice, there was also an element of my favorite Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. Some people were just a tad confused about who they should be with (*cough*ASHLEIGH*cough*). So we're mixing Midsummer's and Pride and Prejudice and THIS Julie is really happy.

Story Julie was fun and entertaining and she kind of reminded me a lot of myself, except better. And I look more like Ashleigh than Julie. I also LOVED our Darcy and Bingley. Especially the Darcy. And the Bingley. ...Yeah, I went there.

This was just a fun, entertaining read about Pride and Prejudice and teenagers and love and boarding schools and balls (get your mind out of the gutter, you!). Do not let the Stephenie Meyer blurb dissuade you. I loved this book. A lot. Go get it. 

Also, Polly, if you're reading this, I need more.

--Julie

In My Mailbox (81)

Lanna:


For Review:

Deception and Betrayal by Lee Nichols 
Excited to read these two, I've already started book one and I like it so far.

After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steve E. Wedel
Love the Need series so I can't wait to see if this one is as good.

Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell
This one sounded really interesting, I've started reading it...not sure what I think so far, I have some issues with it.


The Kite Runner Graphic Novel by Khalid Hosseini
Already read this one and loved it, review will be up nearer the release date.

Vicious Little Darlings by Catherine Easer
This one sounds really good.

And I don't normally mention e-galleys (because I don't normally even read e-books at all), but I love netgalley! I have been whining on twitter and to Julie for ages about how there were some books from Australia that I really, really wanted but they were only available on Australian sites that had insane international shipping costs (one of them had it costing about £50 for one paperback YA book) and the US version of one of them isn't out until 2012 but netgalley got it now. And just:

Oh, the book was Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley btw. I love her other book that I've read and I've wanted to read this one ever since Adele over at Persnickety Snark talked about it ages ago.

Bought:

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


Read any of them? Like them? Hate them? What'd you guys get in your mailbox? :)

Later.

Julie:


Won:
Possession by Elana Johnson

For Review:
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Bought:
A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young
Wildefire by Karsten Knight
Supernaturally by Kiersten White
Vixen by Jillian Larkin

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

That's what I got in my mailbox this week. What'd you get? 

--Julie

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One
Carol Lynch Williams
St. Martin's Griffin
[May 12, 2009]


Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, without questioning it much - if you don’t count her visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her secret meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle - who already has six wives- she must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

So, it's no secret I have a fascination with polygamy that I cannot explain. So I'm not sure why I waited so long to get this one.

There's really not much to say about this book. It was different. It was thought provoking. It was refreshing.

I loved little Kyra. She was strong and intelligent and determined and I loved her. I also loved Joshua. He's just so sweet and kind and he really does love Kyra. Kyra didn't really act like a thirteen year old and I don't remember how old Joshua was, but I think I liked that part. I liked that they acted a little older. They were a little more mature.

The whole family was amazing. They worked well together and loved each other and they were close knit, despite separation.

I was really caught up in reading it. I liked the way it was written and I always wanted to know how it ended. I wanted to know what would happen to Kyra and Joshua and if she would marry her uncle or not.

I just really recommend this book, especially if you're interested in polygamy. It was a really good, different read that I highly enjoyed.

--Julie

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