Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked
Jessica Spotswood
Putnam Juvenile
[February 7, 2012]

A Great and Terrible Beauty meets Cassandra Clare in this spellbinding fantasy

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Historical fantasy at it's best.
I loved Cate and her sisters. Cate was wonderful and truly confused. I loved her constant conflict between doing what was right and what she wanted. The dynamic between her and her sisters and their father was fascinating to watch.

I also loved the conflict between Cate, Finn, and Cate's neighbor who's name escapes me and I can't look up because I don't have my copy anymore. Especially Cate and Finn, I loved those two together. Finn captured my heart from the very beginning and I just wanted to smoosh his face into Cate's so they could kiss all the time. He's just too awesome for words, in my book. But I also liked Cate's neighbor. I didn't want him to be sad or alone. He wasn't a bad guy...he just wasn't Finn.

The writing was beautiful. I was totally wrapped up in the story and how Cate felt and what she was thinking. In a period when I was strapped on time and stressed, I read it relatively quickly. 

The story itself was absolutely wonderful. Never slowed or dragged and I always wanted to keep reading to see what would happen. There were lots of surprises and twists and it kept me constantly engaged. And the ending, oh the ending! What it did to my heart! It was a total shock for me and I was somewhat disappointed, but it made sense for Cate's character and in the end, that's all I can ask for.

I just loved, loved, LOVED, this book. It was incredible and everything historical fantasy could be. This is definitely one to pick up and Jessica's definitely an author to watch!

--Julie

Monday, 30 January 2012

Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt: An Activity for YOU




Welcome to the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt!

This week, 45 bloggers are celebrating the release of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts. You've reached an ACTIVITY blog, which means on this page, you can gain extra entries for Jodi's grand prize drawing by completing my activity and filling out the accompanying form. Then head to the next activity for more INCARNATE fun! There are 19 INCARNATE activities around. The more you do, the better your chances of winning the grand prize.

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi's post. [http://www.jodimeadows.com/?p=568]

First, I wanna show you the picture Jodi sent me because it's full of awesome and you might enjoy the hint of what's to come.


So, I told you guys that this is an activity blog so you have to do an activity. What do you have to do on this blog? Pretty simple. Answer a question for me:

What would you do if you could live forever? 

Answer in the form below to enter the Epic Contest and answer in the comments below if you just feel like letting me know.




So, now that you've done that, you need to move on to other blog activities to gain more points, don't you? Well, here are a couple you can start with:


I've given you all you could possibly need, chickadees! Go, rack up your points! Enter the contest of epic!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

In My Mailbox (103)

So...this week wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't gone on a bit of a Freebie spree.

Youtube still sucks, so no vlog.

Bought:
Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald
Ditched by Robin Mellom
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Ebooks Bought:
Starcrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce
The Assassin and the Pirate by Sarah J. Mass
Freebies:
Lucien's Fall by Barbara Samuel
Moonlight and Oranges by Elise Stephens
Romance of Broken Heart's by Jill Thompson
Sprig of Thyme by Jenna Dawlish
The Wary Widow by Jerrica Knight-Catania

EGalleys:
Pure by Julianna Baggott
Life is But a Dream by Brian James

Yup. And the worst part? I intend to browse the freebies every day from now on for more books that maybe sound better. If you guys want the link to where to find freebies, I can provide those and you can sift through the several hundred posted.

--Julie

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith


Summary: Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
I'm kind of torn on this book - I was looking forward to reading it for ages and I did enjoy it... but, not as much as I thought I would.

The book made me cry (although, I admit, that could've been less to do with the book and more about the fact I was in one of those moods where I needed an excuse to cry), but it was the issue with Hadley's dad that got to me, not the romance, and from the title...I dunno, I just expected this book to be more about the romance (I know, I know, I shouldn't judge a book by its title).

The romance was sweet but not all that great and there was no originality to it really except maybe that they were stuck on a plane. I think the title is misleading (although by the end, you do get where the title is from), it makes it sound like it will be a book about love at first sight. I don't believe in love at first sight but I can handle insta-love if done right...the book was more just a typical story of boy meets girl and they like each other and it's maybe the start of something, and it's easy to talk to each other, not because they have a "connection", but because they're strangers and sometimes you can talk to a stranger in a way you couldn't with anyone else, especially a stranger you're probably not expecting to see again.

So yeah...I liked the book, but it just wasn't what I was expecting and I don't think it was about romantic love at all (well, at least not for the main character and her love interest). The family issues are kind of what made the book with the romance just being a subplot - which is fine really, I just read the book when I was in the mood to read a love story, not heavy family issues and the summary/title kind of leads you to believe it'll be a love story when it mostly isn't (and the family issues played out pretty predictably).

The book was really short, so it's a quick read and I'm glad I read it but it's forgettable - it hasn't really crossed my mind since I read it except to remind myself to review it, it's not one that lingers with you for days after reading.

Rating: 3, maybe 3.5 stars out of 5. Good but not amazing.

Later.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Complicated Love Stories

More books!

Embrace
Jessica Shirvington
Sourcebooks Fire
[March 1, 2012]

I slowly opened my eyes. The sun speared its first bright rays of golden orange into the sky and I leapt from the cliff, with the sorrowful knowledge that no matter what the outcome, at least part of me would die that day...

Violet Eden is dreading her seventeenth birthday dinner. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. The one bright spot is that Lincoln will be there. Sexy, mature and aloof, he is Violet’s idea of perfection. But why does he seem so reluctant to be anything more than a friend?

After he gives her the world’s most incredible kiss – and then abandons her on her front doorstep – Violet is determined to get some answers. But nothing could have prepared her for Lincoln’s explanation: he is Grigori – part angel and part human – and Violet is his eternal partner.

Without warning, Violet’s world is turned upside down. She never believed in God, let alone angels. But there’s no denying the strange changes in her body ... and her feelings for Lincoln. Suddenly, she can’t stand to be around him. Luckily, Phoenix, an exiled angel, has come into her life. He’s intense and enigmatic, but at least he never lied to her.

As Violet gets caught up in an ancient battle between dark and light, she must choose her path. The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity...

First Comes Love
Katie Kacvinsky
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
[May 8, 2012]


Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl always searching for what's next, seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving and besides, opposites attract.

What starts as friendship, turns into admiration, respect and caring, until finally these two lone souls find they are truly in love with each other.

But staying in love is not as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they're going to have to work at it. And learn that sometimes love means having to say you're sorry.

Sound good to you?
--Julie

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall


This is Shyness
by Leanne Hall


Summary: A guy who howls. A girl on a mission to forget.

In the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and the border crackles with a strange energy, Wolfboy meets a stranger at the Diabetic Hotel. She tells him her name is Wildgirl, and she dares him to be her guide through the endless night.

But then they are mugged by the sugar-crazed Kidds. And what plays out is moving, reckless...dangerous. There are things that can only be said in the dark. And one long night is time enough to change your life.

This is quite possibly the most wonderfully weird book that I've ever read (or maybe a close second after Bleeding Violet).

I don't think I was in the right mood to read a book like this, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I could've/would've/should've, but I still finished it with the overall opinion that the book is awesome.

The plot...I don't know why, but I was just expecting a quirky contemporary story and instead got this - odd story that had me going, "What the French toast?" every so often because it was just so weird. The setting is brilliant in all its weirdness.

The characters were strange in a really awesome way and when you finish the book, you're still left with a lot of unanswered questions about the story and the characters but it's in a way that works while in any other book, it would probably frustrate me.

The romance between Wolfboy and Wildgirl was pretty mild. I was expecting this to be a book with romance as a big thing but it felt more like they were building a friendship than anything else (although there was romance in it)...it was sweet.

I don't even know what else to say about this book. I think it's another Aussie YA book and just like 90% of Aussie YA books, this one somehow stands out as being unique and different and awesome in comparison to all other YA books.

Rating: probably 4 stars out of 5 (if I had been in a better mood while reading, maybe a 4.5)

Later.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath
Brodi Ashton
Balzer+Bray
[January 24, 2012]

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...
This book. My emotions. I cannot.

First of all, because it's been a while since I've said it, the Persephone and Hades myth is probably my favorite Greek myth of all time. I've read a couple of retellings in the past year, but this one? This one's on a whole new level. It blends this myth with another myth that I'm not going to say because it might be a bit of a spoiler. It was so well blended, it didn't feel like a retelling, it just felt like it's own story. A fascinating, heartbreaking story.

Nikki was a pretty incredible protagonist. She was constantly in this conflicted state and she was never truly sure of herself and what she had to do, and all things considered, I don't blame her. It was realistic. But she was also brave and when she made a decision, she made a freaking decision. She did waste time, but she had her reasons. When she finally realized what she was doing, she made quick work of figuring out what she needed to do.

Jack and Cole...these two. This story is a legit love triangle. I actually really liked Cole for a long time in this story. He was misguided, but he seemed to love Nikki, even though he could never admit it. He was selfish, but in a really sweet way. Meanwhile, Jack is one you come to love slowly due to reasons. Reasons you will understand when you read this book. HOWEVER, the ending? The ending changes all the rules. Cole needs to be kicked in the nuts and Jack needs to be hugged for eternity.

Let's talk about the ending a bit, shall we? The ending was something that part of me saw coming, and the other part was in denial of. As we got to know the characters, the ending started to become clear. However, there were two ways it would work out and EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING wanted one ending. That ending didn't happen and now I'm left, confused and pouting because I have to wait a year to read book two. It's possible I'll go even more insane waiting.

I read this book in a day, possibly in two sittings. It's addicting and wonderful but it also rips out your heart and stomps on it repeatedly. In a good way...kind of. So, clearly you should read it and suffer with me, yes? Yes.

--Julie

Sunday, 22 January 2012

In My Mailbox 102

 Julie:
Not too much this week, but I'm really excited about these books!

There was a vlog. But sometime after youtube finished processing it and before I click publish, it was eaten. So, you know...yay youtube.

 Won:
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

From Lanna:
Torn by Cat Clarke
Tomorrow When the War Began by James Marsden

RandomBuzzers:
The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

For Review:
Vesper by Jeff Sampson
Havoc by Jeff Sampson

Ebooks I Bought:
Sins of a Wicked Duke by Sophie Jordan
Night Swimming by Niki Burnham
Clockwise by Elle Strauss

So, there you go. My week in books. Thoughts? What's in your mailbox?

--Julie

Lanna:

I just got some review books this week.


For Review:

The Broken Road by B. R. Collins - Not sure if that's my kind of thing. I might give it to someone else.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendara Blake - I think that's out in the US but that's the UK ARC and I've been wanting to read it for ages.
Heaven by Christoph Marzi - This one sounds awesome, can't wait to read it.
The Dragon Slippers trilogy by Jessica Day George - Never actually heard of these before but the books sound cute.

So...yeah, that's all I got this week. What'd you guys get? Have you read any of the books I got/were they good?

Later.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Historic Saturday (2): The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

The Merchant's Daughter
Melanie Dickerson
Zondervan
[November 29, 2011]

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.

Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
I had high hopes for this book and they weren't quite met.

The story is well written. I like how Melanie tells the story and it just flows very easily. I wasn't crazy about the amount of times Christianity was brought up, though. This is technically a Christian YA book, but it seemed a little too excessive. We got it, Annabel's religious and wants to be a nun, it didn't need to be repeated over and over.

I liked Annabel and Lord Ranulf enough. They weren't stand out characters to me, but they were interested and they fit their roles well. I enjoyed the bailiff (our Gaston, if you will) being more twisted than you would normally see him. I also liked how Ranulf was portrayed as the beast and how the villagers saw him. It was definitely an interesting, more unique take.

This just wasn't a remarkable read for me. It was enjoyable and fast paced and a really well done retelling. Beyond my slight annoyance at the frequent references to the Bible and God, I really had no problems with this book. But for me, it just didn't have that special something.
If you like fairytale retellings and don't mind it being religious, this is a really good book to try. If you're hesitant, I was able to get it from Netgalley a month after it's release, so it might still be up, or you could always try and go through your library. I just didn't click with this book the way I had hoped to.

--Julie

Friday, 20 January 2012

Joint Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

We figured we'd do a joint review for this book instead of posting them seperately.


The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green


Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
Lanna:

Quick pre-review visual summary:
At first I was like:
And then I was all:
With a lot of this in between:
 And by the end, the book looked like this:
Every scrap of paper marks a page with at least one quote that I loved (and that's not even including funny quotes, I didn't mark the ones that made me laugh or there would've been way more).

There are certain kinds of books that I avoid, like books about people with heart conditions because they scare me and remind me of how my dad died, for example. And books about people with cancer are in the catagory of books that I avoid - probably in the top five of books that I avoid actually.

It's not because they're bad, I've read a few in the past, it's just that they can often come across as a bit - Lifetime movie-ish in the way they're told. Like they're trying to inspire the reader and romanticise the characters, like having cancer makes them more than a person, wiser or smarter or whatever when really, it makes them human because death is a part of life. I don't like the way "Cancer Books" make me feel and I'd need to be in a very specific kind of mood to pick up a book like that.

This book? If it wasn't written by John Green, who could probably write the phonebook and have me want it on my book shelves, then I may not have read it purely because of the subject matter.

This book was not Lifetime movie-ish. It made me cry, but it also made me laugh and I loved the way it made me feel. John Green writes amazing characters that I can't help but adore, he has a way with words that I love to read but hate that I can't write as well he can, and his stories...he just tells them in a very real and honest way. 

It didn't feel like I was reading a book about cancer, it felt like I was reading a book about life and a part of that was that, for the characters, cancer was a part of their reality. Which may not make much sense, but I can't think of any other way to explain it. The cancer was a big part of the story because it was a big part of Hazels life and how she lived but the book was more than that, it showed more than that. 

It's 5:43am right now and I just finished reading. I cried for the duration of like the last 70-100 pages and now I'm all headachey and heartachey and sore eyed from all the crying but I regret nothing because the book made me feel. The good stuff and the bad stuff and just - real stuff, and books that can do that? They're the very best kind.

The book wasn't perfect and there were some things I didn't like (mainly the stuff with the author character within the book or the fact that most of the characters could get a bit Dawson's Creek-ish with their dialogue at times and be overly philosophical/smart...which I don't mind, it just makes them less convincing as individuals - one or two characters being like that is fine, but not most of the characters being that way) but no book is entirely perfect and the flaws in this one...while I know they were there, they don't even really register on the radar of my overall opinion of the book because the thing I mentioned above about how the book made me feel - that's the most important thing to me.

I really hope Julie can do the book justice in her review in the way that I can't seem to, my thoughts are all muddled.

Later.

Julie:

I’ve had a few days to digest my thoughts on this book. I finished at three in the morning on Friday, tears still streaking down my face. I told myself to wait to post the review because damn it all, I was in no state to be thinking coherently.

So, in those days of rumination where I’ve only finished one other book and started a reread of an equally devastating book, what have I come up with?

This is not a Cancer Book. This is a book about Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who deal with cancer on a daily basis in some form or another.

This is a book about two incredibly, almost unbelievably at times, intelligent teenagers who love books and feel passionately. They’re sarcastic and witty and if they were real, I’d want them to be my best friends.

This is a book about love and grief and handling every emotion you could have. It’s a book about how families deal with loss and about how those with seemingly no hope find hope and laughter. It’s a book about survival.

This is not a Cancer Book, this is not a book about death; this is a book about life.

I laughed, I cried through most of the last 50 pages, even making myself stop and clean my cat’s litterbox at one point so I could calm down enough to continue, I thought about life, I whipped out the little yellow bookmarks and used all of them to finish bookmarking this book. I loved and I lost and I became a member of two little families, one biological and one hand chosen.

Though I’ve never been in love personally, I was in love while I read this book. I’ve never battled cancer, but my lungs seemed to limp along like Hazel’s (it didn’t help I had this horrendous cough at the time that physically hurt my lungs). I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but that’s where I was while I read part of this book.

This is not a Cancer Book, it’s an experience. One I wish I could forget and live over and over again.

If you haven’t read this book, you’re missing out. Fantastic, descriptive writing, witty, charming characters, and the story of life, The Fault in Our Stars is everything I could ask for. And honestly? This is the best review I can give you guys.

--Julie

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Contemporary For All!

This was a total coincidence, but there's two awesome sounding contemp books!

In Honor
Jessi Kirby
Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
[May 8, 2012]


Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn's celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her. 

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn's last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn's best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn't seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn. . . and ruggedly good looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

The Story of Us
Deb Caletti
Simon Pulse
[April 24, 2012]

Cricket’s on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend—but she’s picked a bad week to sort out her love life. For one thing, her mother’s romance is taking center stage: After jilting two previous fianc├ęs, her mom is finally marrying Dan Jax, whom Cricket loves. But as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities at a guesthouse whose hippie owners have a sweet, sexy son—Ash—complications arise:


Cricket’s future stepsisters make it clear they’re not happy about the marriage. An old friend decides this is the week to declare his love for Cricket. Grandpa chooses to reveal a big secret at a family gathering. Dan’s ex-wife shows up. And even the dogs—Cricket’s old, ill Jupiter and Dan’s young, lively Cruiser—seem to be declaring war.

While Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, she’s also alarmed by her own desires. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her....

I'm so excited for these two. What are you looking forward to this week?
--Julie

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Fracture by Megan Miranda

*Some spoilers be here. Please be wary of the spoilers*

Fracture
Megan Miranda
Walker and Company
[January 17, 2012]

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine-despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

This book wasn't what I expected in the slightest. 

I'll be totally honest, I expected some really romantic, sweet book about how this girl comes to grips with death and dying and her new powers related to that and maybe there's a love triangle. Instead, I got a book where the characters and the story don't stand out so much as the message behind it.

Delaney was just a character to me. Nothing special or extraordinary. The relationship she had with Troy were interesting, kind of creepy. It was one of the very intriguing parts of the book for me. The relationship between Delaney and Decker was also interesting, though at times annoying. It was a very back and forth relationship that left me frustrated yet happy, depending on where they were. 

For me the best part was the thoughts it gave me. Troy and Delaney's new powers lead to arguments between the two, arguments that made me think. Both can tell if a person's going to die in the near future. Troy tends to help the process along, while Delaney wants to stop it. For me it raised the question on if we have the right to help someone die. Do humans have the right to decide somebody else is ready to leave earth? It was even more interesting that this discussion came up in my English class the day after I finished it.

The ending was really good. Very interesting, different, and unexpected. I was pleasantly surprised by most of it, though some of it was semi-obvious. I was glad to see it happen, though.

Overall, this could've just been any other book. But the relationships, the questions it raises, and the ending made it something else all together. If you want something a little darker, and thought provoking, this is definitely one to pick up.

--Julie

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club
Elizabeth Eulberg
Scholastic, Inc.
[December 29, 2009]

Love is all you need... or is it? Penny's about to find out in this wonderful debut.

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . . .

This was a really cute, really fast read.

Penny and her friends were a little naive, but I loved the idea of this club. Penny wasn't a pushover, but she also wasn't going to refuse to change. She and the club had a good balance. They were open to change, but not to people who would be totally negative all the time.

At times, the girls were a bit annoying, but for the most part, I liked the message that went with this book. It was all about girl power and not getting pushed around and I think that's something teenage girls, any girls really, need to be reminded of from time to time.

I also loved the Beatles theme. It was a fun little addition. I wasn't named after any Beatles songs, but my mom loves them and has all the CDs and some posters.

This is just a fun, quick, light read that you should pick up when you need some girl power. Adorable!

--Julie

Sunday, 15 January 2012

In My Mailbox 101

Julie:

So...I had another big week. Oops?




Bought:
Fire by Kristen Cashore
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
She Went All the Way by Meg Cabot
Exile by Anne Osterlund
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas by Louise Rennison
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Traitor's Smile by Patricia Elliott
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Ebooks:
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
Tortured by Caragh M. O'Brien

For Review:
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
Last Rite by Lisa Desrochers
Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne

Ebooks for Review:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

Won:
The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

...Yeah. Any thoughts on these?
--Julie

Lanna:

Yeah, I have a lot of books this week too (23 books) - because it's actually a few weeks worth of books. I was going to do a vlog but I think I have a bit too many books.

Shelfari print screen:


For review:

Supernaturally by Kiersten White (I've already read and reviewed this one)
The Dead of the Night by John Marsden (which I've already read and reviewed too. I was sent another copy of the first book, Tomorrow When the War Began, as well but I sent it to Julie)
Kiss, Date, Love, Hate by Luisa Plaja
Poison Heart by S.B. Hayes
Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer (can't wait to read this one)


Bought:

Legacy by Cayla Kluver
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (which I got purely because the main character is a redheaded girl named Alanna, like me)
Mercury's War by Lora Leigh (immature confession: I bought this because I thought it would make me laugh after seeing a review of it)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Courage to Love by Robert Ellis
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Symposium by Plato
Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
Colourbook by Rosalyn Chissick
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

...Um. Yeah. A lot of them are ones I searched out because I was in the mood to read certain types of stories - like love stories set in Iran and things like that or stories set in different places than the usual American/UK settings that I tend to read. Have you read any of the books mentioned? If yes, what'd you think of them?

Later.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Historic Saturday (1): The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller

Some of you may remember Historic Saturday from 2010. I've decided that I'm going to make an effort to read more and therefore, I can post more historical fiction reviews, SO I can bring back Historic Saturday.
Historic Saturday is just a little feature/meme I created that allows me to specifically highlight historical fiction that I've been reading. I LOVE the genre and want other lovers to be able to find them easily. It may not always be strict historical fiction. It may be historical fantasy, a classic, may even fantasy set in a world that resembles historical fiction. But I'm determined to do this at least twice a month. If you want to join, feel free to post your Historic Saturday review in the comments!


The Lost Crown
Sarah Miller
Atheneum
[June 14, 2011]

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand duchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.


But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia. 

As World War I ignites across Europe, political unrest sweeps Russia. First dissent, then disorder, mutiny, and revolution. For Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, the end of their girlhood together is colliding with the end of more than they ever imagined. 

At the same time hopeful and hopeless, naive and wise, the voices of these sisters become a chorus singing the final song of Imperial Russia. Impeccably researched and utterly fascinating, this novel by acclaimed author Sarah Miller recounts the final days of Imperial Russia with lyricism, criticism and true compassion.

 This was different. Not really what I was expecting.

The story is told in the perspective of all four daughters, which could've been amazing, but the voices of the four sisters weren't really different. By time the book was almost over, I'd caught on to some subtle differences, but otherwise I had to remember the beginning of the chapter or I had to look at how it was written when people were talking to the narrator to figure out who it was. There was a lot of telling how the characters were different and not much showing. If this had been done better, the book could've been incredible.

The story itself was interesting. The events were all true, though the personalities of the characters are created as best as the author could. The story was told over a long period of time, but didn't cover every detail. At times, it could be kind of dull, but for the most part, it was fascinating to read.

I think this was also part of my own expectations. Often in these books, there's some kind of romance thrown in for our interest, even though it's not true to what happened and I'd hoped there'd be some in this book with at least one of the sisters. There was some flirting, but never any real romance.

This is an enjoyable book, but the lack of romance and the same voice for all four perspectives made it not meet my expectations. But I think if you go in expecting it, you'll enjoy it a lot more than I did.

--Julie

Friday, 13 January 2012

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Note: This is the sequel to Paranormalcy, so the summary will have spoilers of the first book but the review is spoiler-free if you want to read it.
Supernaturally 
by Kiersten White


Summary: Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.
This review will probably be pretty short (compared to my usual annoying rambling) because I can't think of much to say about this book. Except that, basically, I really loved it.

The thing about this series is that they don't actually have a plot that appeals to me - I'm not too into books where fearies play a big role and they do in this. The story is interesting enough (although not quite as good as Paranormalcy was), but it's not one that I would normally be drawn to or love but something about this series sets it apart from the rest.

That something? The characters.

Evie is just so fun and quirky and entertaining and she makes me laugh and I just love the way the books are written (not in an "OMG! That's so poetic and lovely!" kind of way but in a "That's unique and entertaining and the characters voice is really distinctive!" kind of way). I like the side characters a lot too - Lend is a bit too...Perfect Guy, to the point where sometimes his character seems a bit bland, but I can't dislike him, he's too lovely.

So yeah - the reason I love this book series is because of the characters, particularly Evie. The story itself is enough to keep me entertained and the characters push my opinion from, "It's entertaining." to, "I love it.". The first book was really cute and fun and this book was more of the same (although they do have their serious moments too).

If you haven't read this series yet, you should check it out.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Later.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Discussion: Books You Want to See As Movies

I can't remember if I've done a discussion on this before but I was just thinking about it and wanted to do a post on it (and we wanted to post a discussion post now that we have threaded comments so we actually can discuss it with you).

The thing about movie adaptions is that they can rarely ever stay completely true to the book - the most the book fans can hope for is that they'll still capture the heart of the story and characters and that the thing that we love about the book won't get lost in translation. There are good book-to-movie adaptions, awful ones, mediocre ones and ones that, while they're good movies in their own right, are so different that they probably shouldn't be considered adaptions of books.

There's so many books that I wish would be made into movies, so I'm going to list some and the reason why I'd like to see them as movies. So, assuming they could be made with a great script, perfect cast and capturing the heart of the book, these are some I'd like to see as movies:

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This is a brilliant book and it's a story that deserves to be told. It has the potential to be such a heartbreaking, amazing movie if it was done well and if they got actors that could pull off the things these characters go through... It'd be one of those movies that makes me cry and yet I'd love it anyway. It'd be awesome if they cast actual people from the Baltic states in the movie instead of having Hollywood actors fake accents.



Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

This one already has a movie but I don't like the movie version much (it wasn't awful, just didn't do justice to the book). I didn't like some of the casting or the score and it could be done so much better. It had a very soap opera feel to it. So I'd like a better adaption of that book - I'm usually not into the idea of Hollywood doing American remakes of non-English speaking movies but in this case, I'd be cool with it purely because it provides an oppertunity to do another adaption and try and get it right in the way the original movie didn't.



 Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

There's a lot of art involved in this book and it'd be great to actually SEE the art in a movie - it'd be one of those fun movies but not...mindless entertainment because there's something deeper in the story and the characters and if a movie version didn't lose that in translation then it'd be great.

And the characters? I love the characters in this one, they were just so real and awesome and loveable and realistically annoying at times and brilliant.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

I'm not sure why I want to see this one as a movie, I just do. I'm not sure how it would work as a movie, but if they made it work then it could just be this really amazing and original and brilliant movie.

Melina Marchetta books - really, I'd like to see all her books as movies (there already is one for Looking for Alibrandi which is a decent movie) but I'm going to choose two for this list and it's only two because the genres of the books are so different:

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

This could be such an awesome high fantasy movie - I haven't seen many of those that are really good but this one... it's definitely one I'd like to see on the big screen. I don't have much to say on why I'd like to see it as a movie, I just think it'd be awesome because the book is awesome and there's lots of stuff that would just be great to see visually instead of having to imagine it and the characters are fantastic and complex and just - I'll stop before I fangirl.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

This book is amazing and it'd probably be difficult to translate it into a movie because the plot is kind of confusing to begin with and there's a past and present storyline in the book that is all intertwined in ways you gradually find out throughout the book. But if they managed to get the script right and got an amazing cast for it, the movie could be...wow. Melina Marchetta has actually written a script for it, so maybe it will happen.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Again, he's an author that I'd like to see all of his books as movies and this one could have happened but didn't - I wish it would (I think this is the one that John said he had read the script for and that it was amazing).

I mostly want to see the characters brought to life, see actual people being these characters and I want them to make me bawl like a baby or laugh when certain things in the plot happen. It'd just be awesome.


Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

This is a total taboo subject: consensual incest between a brother and a sister and the story is one of the most hearbreaking ones I've ever read. It wouldn't be the first time sibling consensual incest was portrayed in a movie, but it'd be different from all the others. It'd take an amazing script, director and cast to pull it off and do the story tastefully that makes people sympathize with the characters instead of being against them, but if they did it right... it could just be really brilliant. And hopefully it'd make people be a bit more open minded or question their beliefs on the issue (or at least the legality of it).

The Demon Trappers series by Jana Oliver

One of the things I love about this series is the world - it reminded me a little of the world in the TV show, Dark Angel...not that they're the same, but the feeling it gave me.
The world was just so raw and real and broken but in this way that was just kind of fascinating to read about and I'd just love to see that instead of picturing it. Plus, the characters and the story would be fun to watch.



A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

This one has an IMDb page so I think maybe it might happen. Again, this is more about the characters - I want to see them brought to life and I really liked the movie adaption of The Kite Runner so this one could be great too.

There are others that I'd really love to see but a lot of them are already in the process of becoming movies or have had the rights sold so they could actually be movies within the next few years (like Hourglass by Myra McEntire and Divergent by Veronica Roth) and ones I just forgot to mention and then the list got so long (like Nevermore by Kelly Creagh and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson). So yeah, I'll stop there.

Questions:

1. What books would you like to see as movies (if it was done right with a great cast, script, director etc.)?
2. Thoughts on the books mentioned in this post?
3. What upcoming book-to-movie adaptions (that are actually in the works/definitely happening) are you looking forward to?

Later.

Julie:

I have to agree with Lanna on Between Shades of Gray, as well as Hourglass and Divergent. Plus a few others.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

I loved this book yes, but I'd love to see how they would handle it. Would they include the commercials and voice overs? Who would they cast as the villains? What about our pirates and beauty queens, especially Taylor? Libba built a world I would love to see on film if done right.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

This is sci-fi light, so I'd mostly love to see how they handle the spaceship and the new culture and how they'd cast everyone since they're supposed to look very similar. It'd be interesting to me.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Most of the reason I loved this book was the beautiful writing which can't really be transferred to screen well, but the characters and relationships were a close second, the world building the third. I would love to see Juliette's transformation and the world and the fighting and just..everything. It could be epic.

Two-way Street by Lauren Barnholdt OR Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
These are both road trip books I love and I love different aspects of them, so I can't really pick which I'd rather see (but I don't think we need both.) Both books have a fantastic dynamic between the two main characters. Two-way Street has a tense road trip that would be awesome to see and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour has a lot of music tie ins and stops that would be entertaining. I'd be happy with either one.

So, that's my much shorter list. Now, feel free to answer Lanna's questions from above.

--Julie

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