Sunday, 31 August 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (8)

On the Blog

Tuesday: Lanna's talking about books she doesn't own yet but wants
Thursday: Lanna has mixed thoughts on A WHOLE NEW CROWD by Tijan

Julie

Book Haul


Magnolia by Kristi Cook (ebook via library)
Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross (egalley via publisher on Netgalley)
Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass (egalley via publisher on Edelweiss)
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (egalley via publisher on Edelweiss)
Twisted Fate by Norah Olson (egalley via publisher on Edelweiss)
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (egalley sample via publisher on Edelweiss)
The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane by Elizabeth Boyle (egalley via publisher on Edelweiss)
The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior by Megan Frampton (egalley via publisher on Edelweiss)

So...I went a little crazy again. But I mean...Harper did it! And I LOVED KILL ME SOFTLY, so I needed the sequel. And I've been feeling VERY romance-y lately so, these will come in handy.

Books Read

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas

Finally finished with OUTLANDER. And man did I LOVE it. Don't be surprised to see the next book in a book haul very soon. And then I immediately picked up HEIR OF FIRE so I could have it read before her launch party. And OH MY JESUS this book. If y'all haven't read it/ordered it, I hope you're picking it up Tuesday.

So while both books are heavy in romance, you can probably understand why I really need short, actual romance novels at the moment. I may not read anything more than 300 pages (as a full size paperback/hardcover) for a while.
 
Upcoming Reads


Romances! All the romances! I'm borrowing a book from a friend this weekend and also I have these egalleys. Also maybe I'll start school reading. If my school has finally applied my bookstore scholarship money and I can actually buy my books. We'll see.

Odds and Ends 

I ended up only having one class this week since we started Thursday and not Monday like I thought. And while it started off as kind of a miserable day, I came home, took a nap, then got an internship offer and went to a Mets game with a friend.

As for my internship - I'll be doing publicity work for two adult nonfiction imprints at Penguin! Last semester, I avoided doing any promotion for Macmillan titles during my internship, but I do already have some reviews ready and some blog-tour-esque things I agreed to well in advance. So, those will be laden down with extra disclaimers, but here's an extra little one in advance. 

So, how was your week?

--Julie

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Whole New Crowd by Tijan

A Whole New Crowd
by Tijan

Summary: Taryn grew up in a different world. Her boyfriend was a criminal. His older brother was part of a gang. They weren’t great people, but they were her family. Then everything changes when she’s adopted by a family in the neighboring town. New family. New friends. A new world. She’s elated. This is her chance for a new beginning, but secrets start being revealed and Taryn learns her new life has ties to her old one, ties that she’s not happy about. Her new family might not have been the lucky break she thought she had. Now she's not only fighting to live that new future, but she's fighting to survive as well.
I've been putting off reviewing this book for a few days because it's difficult to explain my thoughts on it. Like, I loved it, I've yet to read a Tijan book I didn't love...but it's complicated.

So I'm going to sum up what I love about the story then I'll explain where it gets complicated, for anyone that's interested, but the summary/rating is kind of all you need to know about my thoughts on the book.

The story is one of those ones that hooked me right from the start. It's full of drama, but in a good way and has one of those sort of unrealistic but thoroughly entertaining plots that are perfect if you want to lose yourself in a world that is real but not at all like your own (if you like stories with a crime/drug lord/gang kind of thing going on, this one might do it for you).

And the characters...like most of Tijan's books, it has a strong protagonist who is fierce and stands up for herself and the people she cares about. That's one of my favourite things about her books--the way she writes her female leads, because she makes them strong women without going over the top (like, they're independent and can stand on their own but they're not too proud to say when they don't want to).

Plus, there's a bunch of other characters that I loved without necessarily liking them. They were interesting, and interesting is kind of better than likeable (a lot of her characters were shades of gray, instead of being all bad or all good, they were mostly varying degrees of both and I like that). I really liked the relationship between Tray and Taryn too and the relationship she had with her sister.

I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5 (well, this version of it... I'll explain that below) and I'd really recommend any of Tijan's books if you're looking for something fast paced and addictive.

The complicated part:

I've mentioned a bunch of times on the blog that I'm a big fan of Tijan's books and I read a lot of them while they were still posted on Fictionpress or Livejournal. I read A Whole New Crowd years ago online and adored it--I think it's definitely one of her best stories.

It's hard to separate the two versions in my head and it's hard not to make comparisons between the two (kind of like watching a movie adaptation of a favourite book). That's why it was so difficult to review the final published version.

This version was good and it still had most of the elements that I loved about the original story... except for one of the main things that made me love it in the first place (most of the other changes didn't register with me beyond the feeling that something was different).

In the original, Taryn's relationship with Jace was more complex...but in a good way. I loved Jace's character and their relationship in the original, it was one of the most interesting parts of the story. That relationship--and by extention, Jace's character--was changed in the published version (and it made the Tray/Taryn thing feel different too).

Because I'd already read that different version of their relationship, it made reading this one feel weird. I think for that reason, I preferred the original version and that kind of clouded my judgement of this.

The overall story in this version was probably better, but it just didn't have the same spark for me without the Jace stuff. But that's a completely subjective thing, and most people probably didn't read the old version first so they'll go into the published one with fresh eyes and can judge it without the comparisons.

So yeah, that's why it was hard to review this. I loved one version of the story and loving that version stopped me from really loving this one to the same extent. I think if it weren't for that, this would've probably been a 4.5 or 5 star book, because I did still thoroughly enjoy reading it.

EDIT: Tijan has put the original version up for sale too, I think it's the same one I originally read and loved (haven't had a chance to reread it). It's a rougher version than the one I reviewed here, but worth reading. You can find it by searching Amazon for The Original Crowd by Tijan.

Later.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

I'm going to try and make the list mostly books that are already released, but yeah, these are the top ten books I really want but for whatever reason haven't gotten them yet.


1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski - This is one of those books I've wanted to read for years and any time I've been tempted to buy it, I can only find copies for like £20 and I talk myself out of it because I could get that one book or I could get a whole bunch of books for the money I'd spend on that one book and thinking of it that way always puts me off, because what if I hate it? But still, I want it.

2. Landline by Rainbow Rowell - I've yet to read a Rainbow Rowell book I didn't adore, so I'll pretty much reach anything she writes at this point. I think the reason I've put off getting this one is because it's only the Rainbow Rowell thing that appeals me, the plot doesn't sound like my kind of thing. But I still want it.

3. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson - I've wanted this book since...since before I even knew what it was called or what it was about, I wanted Jandy Nelson's next book as soon as I finished The Sky is Everywhere. It's out really soon, thankfully (I'll try to make that the only unreleased book on the list).

4. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - Not sure why. I have this thing about WW2/war books and this one sounds interesting (and I think it has a blind main character, which is awesome because diversity).

5. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll - I don't even know why I want it so much, but I do.

6. Sekret by Lindsay Smith - So I sort of wanted to read this one, because I find stories set in Russia weirdly fascinating. But then Julie rated it five starts and sort of want turned into really want.

7. Torrent by Gemma James - Silly thing is, I don't even remember why. I think it was probably because one of my Goodreads friends gave it a good review and I was in the mood for that sort of book at the time. And now, even if I've seen negative reviews too and I'm no longer in the mood for that sort of story, I've still got it in my head that I have to read it.

8. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins - It just sounds really fun and I've seen so many good reviews for it.

9. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - Okay, technically I do own this one but it's the Kindle edition and I think the reason I keep putting off reading it is because it's the Kindle one, so I want a paperback copy.

10. Spring Snow by Yukio Mushima - Again, like most of the others, I don't know why. I'm guessing someone recommended it or something, but I really want it and the reviews of it I've seen have all been really positive too.

Have you read any of these? :)

Later.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (7)

On the Blog

Monday: Lanna's finally made it through AMY & ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR
Tuesday: Lanna talked about the Top Ten Books people have told her to read





Julie

Book Haul



Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous by Tierney Fowler (egalley via publisher)
Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn (egalley via publisher)


Books Read


Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz
Recklessly Royal by Nicole Chase
Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto (DNF)
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Tease by Sophie Jordan

So, definitely a good reading week and a hell of a way to end the summer!
 
Upcoming Reads


????

I honestly haven't thought about it at all. Between vacation and packing up to move back to NYC as of today and starting my semester and all the other craziness happening next week, it hasn't crossed my mind. I'm going to continue working on Outlander, and hopefully finish since my loan ends this upcoming week, but we'll see!

Odds and Ends 

Now that I'm all relaxed from a week of hiking, zip lining, swimming, and reading, it's time for classes again. This semester I have classes from 8 am to 5 pm Mondays and Wednesdays with one gap from 9:30-11:00, so I'm going to have to be creative with getting in food and energy. And I have the 8 am class again on Thursday. Fortunately, this semester looks (mostly) awesome and I'm kind of excited. And bonus! Campus is usually still pretty quiet during my break, so I can snack/study/read in relative peace and quiet. 

And that's it for me this week. I'm hoping I'll be able to get some blogging done at some point this week and start getting ahead while school and other things are slow, but no guarantees. We'll just have to see how things go!

--Julie

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Top Ten Books People Have Said I Must Read

So, I don't normally join in with the whole Top Ten Tuesday thing (not because I don't like it, I just tend to forget really) but seeing as the review I was going to post today isn't ready to go up yet, I figured I would this week.

"Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read (whether because they think it's a "you" book or it's just been generally recommended so often)"
1. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin - At this point, I'm not convinced I'll ever read the books. I love the show and I own the first book, but anytime I've started reading it I've gotten bored and put it down. Now, that may just be because the beginning is incredibly dull, but the fact that I've already seen the show and know how the story goes (mostly, I know there'll be differences) makes me lack the motivation to push through that slow start.

2. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - I don't think I've seen a bad review of this yet and I do own the book, but I just...I don't know why I haven't read it yet. I can't even remember who first recommended it.

3. Pride and Prejudice - I own multiple copies of this and my issue is similar to the GoT thing--started a bunch of times, but just kept putting it down. I love the characters, love the story, love parts of the writing...but the writing style in general can make it a bit tedious to get through. Once I've read it for a while, I get used to it, the problem is I normally get bored before I reach that point (again, like GoT, already knowing how the story goes doesn't help).

4. Wuthering Heights - This is my best friends favourite book. And I think it's the favourite of one of my favourite booktubers too. And I love most of the adaptations I've seen, but the writing style--aside from a few beautiful quotes--has always put me off before I got far into it.

5. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess - Both of my best friends love this book (and the movie). I think it's the movie that put me off really (not the subject matter, it's hard to explain what bugs me about the movie--it's more the dated 70's feel and the accents, reminds me of an awful movie I loathe), but they've always said I should read it.

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - People on a forum used to recommend this all the time and everyone and their mother seems to love it. I never picked it up mostly because 1) phonetically written Scottish accents (pet peeve) are likely and 2) issues with the author. Julie and I are probably going to do a read-a-long for it, purely because we enjoyed the first episodes of the show.

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Everyone seems to love this, so if I ever read it, I will probably be disappointed purely because I just doubt it could be as good as everyone says it is.

8. Books by Patrick Ness, particularly the Chaos Walking trilogy - I own the trilogy, but everyone always raves about his books and I've just not gotten round to reading them. I started The Knife of Never Letting Go last year or something but I was going through my "I'm so done with dystopia" phase (still thoroughly in that phase) so I didn't get far into it.

9. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk - I love the movie, but I've been told by some people that it's one of the rare occasions where the movie is better. Still, people keep recommending the book (I do own it), including my best friends.


 10.  Sarah Dessen books - I own 6 or 7 of her books but I've only read Someone Like You and This Lullaby, I've just never gotten round to reading the others. Everyone always has good things to say about them though (I've heard from a lot of people that Just Listen and The Truth About Forever are her best). My best friend says they're really good too and she's fussy with chick lit (it was actually my copies that she borrowed and read).

Have you read any of these? Like them? Hate them?

Later.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
by Morgan Matson

Summary: Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
I started reading this book back when the booktube-a-thon was happening and it's taken me a few weeks to get through it. Now that I have, I'm not really sure what I think of it.

The writing is good, I liked the characters a lot and the relationship between Amy and Roger. If I based my opinion on that alone, it would get higher rating, but... there was just something missing.

I think it may have been because of the plot. While it never bored me, it also didn't ever really hook me...and it was realistic, I guess, but that doesn't aways make for the most interesting story to read. There were some high points, but it was mostly quite repetetive and predictable and in the end, I was kind of underwhelmed by it (I actually had a, "That's it?" moment when I finished it).

I thought it was a sweet story but it lacked that spark of something that would make it amazing. I did love the playlists scattered throughout the book though--Roger's music could easily be stuff lifted right out of my own music collection, so I may flip back through the book and see if there's any bands I don't recognise that I can check out.

But yeah...that's all I have to say about the book. It was good, and it was cute, it's just not one that's going to stick with me at all. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5 (but, plenty of other people seem to love it, so I'm probably in the minority in being underwhelmed by the book--actually, the fact that so many people loved it may have played a part in my disappointment, because they had me expecting amazing things from the book).

Later.


Weekly Wrap-Up (6)

On the Blog
Thursday: Julie needed help picking out vacation reads (and there's still a couple hours!)
Friday: Julie gushes about the long anticipated ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Julie

Book Haul

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (paperback from publisher) [I don't know when I got this, but it was at my apartment when I swung by last week and I forgot it in the last book haul]
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (audiobook via Audible credit) [This was also technically last week, but it was so late I didn't feel like adding it]
Wild by Sophie Jordan (egalley via publisher)
Loop by Karen Akins (egalley via publisher)
Guild Assassin by Berley Kerr (egalley via publisher)


Books Read


The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore 
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
The One by Kiera Cass 
Perry's Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber

I was a good deal of the way through my first two reads when the week started, so it's not *quite* as impressive as it looks, but I did read a lot this week while trying to escape the current events. But hey, it gets me ready for vacation, yeah?
 
Upcoming Reads


Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas
Tease by Sophie Jordan
Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I'm hoping to go with some variety. Not all of these were mentioned in the post...because I knew they were coming (like the Sophie Jordans) Heir of Fire and Outlander are both massive books I have for my ereading time since I tend to read physical books when on vacation, but I know HoF will totally pull me in and Outlander...it may or may not flop. And I'm not making myself finish it, either. I've got some time on it, but need to make progress.

This is also an incomplete list. It's hours before we leave and I'm still not decided on most of my books. Oops?

Odds and Ends

I'm on vacation this week! I'm off with my parents' and younger brother to an internet-less (mostly) trip to the Poconos. Hopefully lots of reading and good food and really fun activities I've never done before (and some I have). 

--Julie
 
Lanna

Book Haul:

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins 
A Whole New Crowd by Tijan (for review)
Come Back To Me by Mila Gray (for review)

Books Read:

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (review will be up on Monday) 
Heir of Fire (well, currently reading this one, not finished yet)

Later.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After
Stephanie Perkins
Dutton
[August 14, 2014]


From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Obviously I had to read this as soon as I got it. I mean OBVIOUSLY. I've only been waiting on this book for like three years. And man did it not disappoint.

Isla is me. Basically. I spent the whole book trying to separate my feelings from hers to figure out exactly how it was ending and being entirely unable because they were the same. Years ago, I talked about wanting more books that realistically portrayed insecurity and Stephanie Perkins absolutely nails it. It was exactly what I wanted: her insecurity wasn't necessarily spoken about and declared on every other page and it never just magically stopped, but it was an inherent part of Isla, from her own thoughts to her ever-present heels. And I couldn't help but connect to that so much. SO MUCH. And it hurt and helped make the story a little more interesting and a little less predictable and it was so excellent. But she was also so likable and intelligent and fun and creative. I loved every bit of Isla. Every single bit.

I think one of my other favorite things about Isla and the Ever After is that it WASN'T super predictable. I mean, teen romances are pretty much always going to end the same way. But I wasn't as convinced in this one for several reasons. From the summary to certain things that come up in the book, combined with Isla's insecurities clouding things, I really wasn't sure if the happy couple was the happily ever after needed. Isla and Josh were unpredictable and the story was unpredictable and it wasn't obvious.

Then there was Isla and Josh. They were this adorable, too-good-to-be-true couple from every side. But when two people are that adorable HOW CAN IT WORK I DON'T KNOW. Obviously this is not the only reason I had some doubts about them working but ughhhh they were so adorable. JOSH was so adorable. And ISLA was so adorable. I could go on for days about how adorable they were.

The settings were so well built, both in NYC and Paris. I want to find Kismet cafe and go there and understand where they lived. I want to find the Treehouse. And it was so nice revisiting old haunts and old favorites like St. Clair, Anna, Lola, and Cricket. Their appearance is FLAWLESS, guys.

Stephanie Perkins is so amazingly talented and that hasn't changed. If anything, she's just gotten better. She's been an auto-buy author for me for some time now, but there really is no doubt that she can create such immensely complicated characters and relationships. She's astonishing. 

I just...I'll never be able to describe how thoroughly I loved this book. Or any of Stephanie Perkins' books. I want to meet her and hug her and thank her because reading Isla was just so incredibly eye opening and heart-explodey and perfect. It's perfect.

--Julie

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Vacation Reads

It's almost time again.

On Sunday, I leave for vacation. We're going to a place that we know won't have great cell reception, and we won't have WiFi most of the time since you have to pay for it. Even we did, we'll be out and about most days. Hiking, fishing, swimming, water parking, mini golfing, zip lining. But it IS a bit of a long road trip and we're gonna have a cool little porch to stare out at nature and there'll be plenty of down time when I'll be reading. So we come to that painstaking time when I need to pick out which books I'm bringing.

I've got my Kindle absolutely PACKED with books, but it's good to unplug on vacation. Also, I will only have one USB converter and two things that need it...at least. So...let's focus on my physical books, yeah?

Here are some of my options, but for ALL of my unread books, you can look through here but...it's gonna take you a while. (If you want a better break down, I have an unread ARC shelf, an unread YA shelf, and unread adult shelf, and a new adult and romance shelf you can sort by read and then look for where I stopped having read things.)

Mean Spirits and Young Blood (Mediator Books 3&4) by Meg Cabot
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Diamonds and Deceit by Leila Rasheed
Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Easy by Tammara Webber
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson
Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon
The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Vanish by Sophie Jordan
Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
Talon by Julie Kagawa
Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Starry Night by Isabel Gillies
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Keneally
The End of Innocence by Allegra Jordan
Obsidian and Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor
Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Jackaby by William Ritter
This Shattered World by Megan Spooner and Amie Kaufman
The One by Kiera Cass
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

So, based on those, anything I MUST read? 

And I guess for a little extra context: I start classes for the semester like 3 days after we get back, so reading time lessens even more...in theory. ;) 

--Julie


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Giver: The Book, The Movie, and A Chat

A couple weeks ago, I was invited to a screening of The Giver movie. I'd never read The Giver, but private screenings are amazing, so I got up early last Wednesday and had my dad drop me off at the train station so I could visit my home. I got to my apartment just after rush hour ended, picked up my copy of The Giver, and read the book in the next hour and a half, scarfed a lunch, and got to the screening just in time.

First, let's talk about the book.

The Giver
Lois Lowry
HMH Books for Young Readers
[April 26, 1993]

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

This is very much a book you should read when you're young. And by young, I mean younger than me. By several years. The writing was very simplistic, somewhat aggravatingly so. I brushed it off since this is a middle grade and it is older, so I could get over it. There were some unbelievable aspects, mostly at the end. But it was a very quick read, interesting and thought provoking.  I liked the characters and really liked the portrayal of the weird time they were in, age/hormone wise.

Then there's the movie





In a perfect world where there is no conflict, racism or sickness, every member of society has a specific role, and 16-year-old Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memory. As Jonas uncovers the truth behind his world's past, he discovers that many years earlier, his forefathers gave up humanity in order to have a stable society.





So...you may notice there's a bit of a difference. But, let's talk about the movie on its own first.

This was an excellently acted movie. A gorgeous cast, though not obnoxiously so, with a lot of talent. The black and white to color transition was beautifully done with one, brief exception. The writing was well done and really kept the heart of the book without ever seeming like too much. It had some amazing scenery that was far from what I imagined, but still beautiful and perfect for the story. It had some more incredibly unbelievable moments I'm not ready to forgive.

Overall, it was a good movie. Maybe not my normal kind of movie, or maybe it's because I read the book and saw the movie SO closely together, I found something to be a bit off. But I did enjoy it as a movie.

But the book and the movie.

(At this point, there be spoilers. I'll try for nothing major, but I'm talking about plot/character changes so...yeah)

There's that first, obvious thing in the summary. They were 12 in the book. They're 16 in the movie. More hormones. More maturity. More responsibility.

That was one of the smaller changes though. It resulted in more things you'd imagine happening if the characters were older. It also made certain events more realistic.

Some of the character changes were a bit more significant. Jonas's mother got a bigger role. His sister was a year older. His friends got different jobs that changed their roles in the movies quite a bit. The Chief Elder was both more and less involved in day to day life. And those are still minor changes compared to some things that work out. There's a lot more technology in their lives. The unbelievable scenes in the book became about 5 times more unbelievable in the movie.


A lot of the changes make sense in the context of the movie. There were corresponding moves for each change so the world still worked and the plot still had the same core. But this isn't The Giver, the book. It might have Lois Lowry's approval, but there are SO many changes, I hesitate to call this an adaptation. I consider it more of a "based on." I might even throw "loosely based on" out there. A lot of the differences were completely practical reasons on the studios part (child actors are much more limited, but you age up the characters, have actors above 18, there's less restrictions, etc.) or based on available technology, which is much different now than it would've been 20 years ago.

The heart of the story is there, but the story itself is hiding behind some pretty big changes. On their own, The Giver is a good movie and The Giver is a good book. But I wouldn't call them the same. Still, check out the movie when it premieres this Friday, August 15, and check out the book when you get the chance if you haven't already, and try not to tie the two together too closely.


--Julie

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (5)

On the Blog

Friday: Julie's talking about back-list title AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK
Saturday: Julie unintentionally brings back Historic Saturday with a review of TSARINA





Julie

Book Haul



My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (egalley via publisher)
Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman (egalley via publisher) 
The Duke of Dark Desires by Miranda Neville (egalley via publisher) 
Day 21 by Kass Morgan (egalley via publisher) [This and The 100 both seem to be Read Now titles on Netgalley]
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (ARC from publisher)
Perry's Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber (library ebook)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (library ebook)
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (gift from friend) 
Landline by Rainbow Rowell (copy bought at Target)


I hadn't planned to get more library books, as I mentioned last week, but this was one they didn't have at the library, so I requested they buy it. And apparently once they do, they give the requester a 3-day hold so...I had to take advantage. Fortunately, it's a short read, so easy to fit in. And since I knew there'd probably be a mad rush to get Outlander after the show officially premiered this weekend, I wanted to grab it in advance.

My True Love Gave to Me has SO MANY FAVS that I clearly needed it. Alex As Well is a really interesting, unique-sound YA, and it's also a really short read. Day 21 is the sequel the The 100, which I enjoyed, and I LOVE the show, so I was thrilled to see it was a read now title. And since I'm trying to branch out more with what kinds of books we review here, I figured I'd try requesting a romance novel and was approved.

And Belzhar is going to have some really fun things going on with it, especially on my Instagram, so keep an eye out for that!

Books Read

 

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

All over the map with my reads this week! I'm glad I got out of my weird funk, but I wish it had happened sooner than three weeks before I start my classes again!

 
Upcoming Reads


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Odds and Ends

Occasionally, I'll add this when there's something of interest. Today? My favorite ever band released a new single and it's kind of amazing and I'm 100% obsessed






ALSO, Lanna and I are considering doing some kind of Outlander read-along. I really liked the pilot and Lanna enjoyed it too, but we both have reservations about the books. So, if there's any interest in joining us, maybe we can try to organize something? Let us know!

--Julie

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

Tsarina
J. Nelle Patrick
Razorbill
[February 27, 2014]
Library book

Natalya knows a secret.

A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia's Winter Palace. It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics. A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov. Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.

But it's in the wrong hands.

I like Jackson Pearce's books. Her fairytale retelling series wasn't working for me, but I did love her debut novel and I still liked her writing. So when the deal was announced that she was writing a Romanov book, I was 10000% here for it. And when I found it in my library's selection (seriously, they have the most RANDOM books. None of Leigh Bardugo's NYT bestsellers, but they had this? I don't even know) I immediately grabbed it and I'm SO GLAD I DID but now I need a copy anyway.

Natalya was a really interesting character to get to know. She knew where her heart was and she knew what she wanted from life, even when everything around her was making it impossible. She was determined and loyal and protective, even if she didn't always think her choices through and consider what the reality was. In a way, she had a one track mind, but it was the kind of track that you can't fault her for having.

Another really interesting aspect of TSARINA was that I was expecting a romance. And it was in a way. This description doesn't really explain, but Natalya and Alexei, are the kind of couple everyone assumed would be getting married as soon as they were allowed. However, they were apart for most of the novel. You could still feel how very much she loved him at every moment.

TSARINA also tackled a topic that isn't super common to find in YA and tackled it in this really graceful, masterful way. I don't want to spoil it because it's not in any description I've seen and I wasn't really sure if it was happening until a great deal of the way in, but it could've come off horrible and awkward and gross. But it was smooth and just amazingly well done.

I also loved how it was as historically accurate as it could be without taking away from the story. There were some blemishes and the ending just seemed a little too simple and perfect to have been possible in the Russian Revolution, but it was never enough to really irk me. I was able to handle one of my favorite time periods being messed with a little bit because it was done, generally, smoothly enough I didn't notice.

Basically, I adored TSARINA. So, so much. I decided to read it while I was traveling and all my train trips went by just TOO quickly because I wanted to finish my book, dang it! I've checked Goodreads at least twice to see if Jackson Pearce has any other books coming out under this pseudonym (and therefore like this) and I'm now itching to read more historical, especially in this time period. And I have every intention of getting my own copy of this, especially with that gorgeous cover. I'm also already kind of wondering if they'll change the paperback and considering if it'll be pretty enough to also collect. 

Essentially, I'm commanding you all to go read this. It's romantic and full of action and friendship and amazing character development and masterfully skilled writing and it makes this skewed history feel as real as it can. GET IT. GET IT NOW.

--Julie

Friday, 8 August 2014

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Joe Schreiber
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
[October 25, 2011]
Library Book

Ferris Bueller meets La Femme Nikita in this funny, action-packed young adult novel.

It’s prom night—and Perry just wants to stick to his own plan and finally play a much-anticipated gig with his band in the Big Apple. But when his mother makes him take Gobija Zaksauskas—their quiet, geeky Lithuanian exchange student—to the prom, he never expects that his ordinary high school guy life will soon turn on its head. Perry finds that Gobi is on a mission, and Perry has no other choice but to go along for a reckless ride through Manhattan’s concrete grid with a trained assassin in Dad’s red Jag.

Infused with capers, car chases, heists, hits, henchmen, and even a bear fight, this story mixes romance, comedy, and tragedy in a true teen coming-of-age adventure—and it’s not over until it’s “au revoir.”

I remembered when I was browsing my library's ebook system and found this that a lot of people had really liked it when it first came out. Enough that it made an impression on me and I remembered this almost three years later. But I also knew it was a REALLY short book and I don't like buying short books in hardcover I haven't read. It's weird, but I feel like I get more bang for my buck when I buy longer books, even if they are a dollar or two more. So I was waiting for the paperback...then I could never FIND the paperback in stores. Then I find the library copy and problem solved. 

Obviously, I've had a lot of time to think about this book and what could happen in it. But I still didn't expect what I got.

It was a non-stop adventure ride, honestly. It takes place almost entirely within the same day and it's constantly throwing something new at you. I don't read books like this often, books that are almost purely adventure novels, so it was refreshing to take a break from the norm and read something like this. It was also just a lot of fun. There was so much going on and the whole motivation and plot line isn't exactly light hearted, but it had a lot of funny moments and it did capture the comedy aspect really well.

I loved the format. One of the things that's made clear early on is that college is a big deal to his family and it's a big part of the reason they took on Gobija. So every chapter started with a college admissions' essay prompt and the chapter would correspond to that in some way. I thought it was a really neat little touch.

I wouldn't call this a favorite read or even really a stand out. It didn't have a wow factor for me and may ultimately be pretty forgettable, but it was a really quick, entertaining read and I already have the sequel lined up to read soon. Definitely worth checking out!

--Julie

Thursday, 7 August 2014

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

As Red As Blood
by Salla Simukka

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson is hardly your average teenager. She lives by herself in the city of Tampere, Finland, and has a firm rule to mind nobody's business but her own. But that rule is put to the test when she happens upon five hundred washed euro notes hanging up to dry in her school's darkroom, and it is shattered once Lumikki realises who owns them.

Caught in an increasingly tangled web of deception, corruption and danger, Lumikki finds herself navigating the Tampere's dark underbelly in the search to expose its shocking connection to the international drugs trade. Lumikki is smart, but is she smarter than a master criminal? Can she bring down the infamous 'Polar Bear' - or will she become another one of his victims?

The first part of a thrilling new Nordic crime series, AS RED AS BLOOD will have you on the edge of your seat until the last page is turned... and then some.
This book is an odd one... When I started reading it, I loved it, then I didn't like it much, then somewhere along the line I realised I'd gone back to loving it again.

I think the biggest negative for me was the crime aspect of it. That was actually part of what made me want to read the book (that, and the setting) but that was one of the weaker parts of the story.

I think maybe that was because the parts of the story from the POV of the criminals had some elements of ridiculousness to them and seemed kind of cheesy (like certain code names that were impossibe to take seriously and writing things like "the Estonian" instead of just saying the name). It just didn't really mesh well with how raw the rest of the story felt...like it was trying to mix a gritty drama with a crime plot in a soap opera and it wasn't bad, exactly, but I just wasn't loving that part of it.

What I did love? The writing, the writing style was good (weakest parts, again, were the criminal POV's). And Lumikki, she was awesome--she was flawed and interesting and she was strong and I loved that we got to see how she ended up being the person that she is because of things she's endured in her life. I loved the weird, kind of reluctant friendships she had going on in the story too. That was what hooked me about the book.

And the setting...it was a refreshing change from the usual YA settings and it was very atmospheric and I loved it. It left me longing for winter (I seem to be in the minority of people that absolutely loathe summer. Autumn and winter make me happy).

Anyway, I really enjoyed the book and I'm gad it was the first in a trilogy instead of a standalone, because the ending left some things unexplained in a frustrating sort of way and I really want more of Lumikki's story and to get some more answers. I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Importance of Stephenie Meyer and How to Criticize Problematic Things

This week on Jezebel, a feminist site, a writer ripped apart Stephenie Meyer and it had nothing to do with her books. Instead, it was because she was producing a movie based on one of Lois Duncan's novels, Down a Dark Hall. They didn't think she could possibly know what she was doing and would ruin this beloved novel

I don't want to link to the article and give it more attention, so I'll pull some quotes:

Title: "Stephenie Meyer Is Here to Ruin Everything Good About Your Childhood"


"'Head Mary Sue' Stephenie Meyer has decided to go where no one invited her"
 "To have Stephenie Meyer stick her sparkly little vampire hands into any of Duncan's work is not just a blow to the work, it's a blow to Lois Duncan's credibility! It's worse than that TV remake of Don't Look Behind You that I taped and watched religiously. Why? Because unlike Meyer, Duncan understands pacing, character development and story structure. (She also knows how to edit, but that's a whole other story.)"

Some of the problems with this?


  1. A woman wants to help make another woman's book into a movie. That sounds pretty feminist to me, no?
  2. Is it really feminist if it's tearing down and insulting another woman (or...person really) for no real reason?
  3. Writing and producing are not the same things. You can't exactly compare a person's ability to do one based on their ability to do the other.
  4. I could be wrong on this, but Stephenie Meyer probably doesn't have sparkly vampire hands
  5. Stephenie Meyer has already produced a non-Twilight film based on a book and I thought it was pretty damn good. It was certainly good enough to get picked up from the indie film festivals to make it to major theaters nation wide. And my roommate, a non Janeite, also loved it. It was an excellent adaptation and an excellent movie in its own right.
All in all, this type of insult to Meyer seems REALLY uncalled for, doesn't it? She may not be a brilliant writer, but Stephenie Meyer is a hugely important figure and that should be recognized. Much like J.K. Rowling, she helped create - or in some cases, recreate - readers. And she did it as a woman with a story told from a girl's perspective. She opened up a whole new genre to millions of readers.

I had only just gotten back into reading a few months before and NEVER would've touched ANY paranormal book before this one. The Twilight fandom became massive and the portion I've always hung around in recognizes where it's problems are, but also appreciate that it made our communities possible. It even lead to the creation of several fanfics, some of which have been pulled, WELL EDITED, and published with great results...and 50 Shades of Grey. But I'm not here to talk about that.

Yes, it's good to recognize that there are many issues in Twilight. But we also need to embrace her importance to the YA community and that she had massive success as a woman.

There's also the matter of how we criticize, which brings me to my major point in the post. Criticism is an important part of the world. It's how we make things better. It's what book bloggers are here to do. But there are always people willing to misuse our freedom to criticize.

In the case of this Jezebel article, the writer criticizes Stephenie Meyer as an author. Despite the fact she has produced several movies (though, an argument can be made she may not have REALLY produced any of the Twilight movies and The Host, which would mean she's produced one movie), they opted to take aim at an unrelated job and use it to justify why she can't do this different job. If she was writing the script, I would say using criticisms of her as a writer of books would be fair, though still not totally comparable. And if they had criticized other movies she had produced, that would be entirely fair. But these aren't jobs that line up enough to make this a fair critique.

I think that's where a lot of criticism fails. I'm not going to compare an asparagus to an apple; it doesn't make sense. Criticism only works when you're comparing similar things. Writing to writing. Producing to producing.

It's also why criticizing a person as a criticism of their work doesn't work. There are plenty of books I don't like, but I don't see that as a reason to attack the author. In 99% of cases, the author is still a perfectly decent person I have no problem with. And attacking the author as a person doesn't say anything about what's wrong with the book. It doesn't help anyone learn or grow or rethink what they're doing. And it doesn't help people reading your criticisms understand what's wrong with the work either.

It works the other way, too. There are authors who do bad things/aren't great people - Orson Scott Card comes to mind. And I have no problem criticizing him for being homophobic and choosing not to read his books with the knowledge that he puts his money that he'd earn from me buying them towards his beliefs. But I don't have the ability to critique the book in any way. I don't have any feelings on any of his books because I haven't read them and it wouldn't be fair for me to tell others not to read them based on my beliefs.

So, let's circle this back around. Everyone's free to criticize the Twilight series and Stephenie Meyer's writing/story telling/etc. within it. Frankly, that criticism needs to be out there. Everyone's free to criticize her as a producer and how she's produced movies. But I don't think it's fair to look at those things and say if she's bad at one, she must be bad at the other. And I don't think it's fair to say if she's bad at one or both, she's a bad human being who shouldn't do anything. She had a huge impact on a lot of people by writing the Twilight series, even if they aren't award-winning quality. And she helped make a great movie with the Austenland adaptation. I respect her and thank her for bringing both into my life, even if they had very different impacts.

Now, how about we go criticize things that are actually comparable and not just insulting?

--Julie


Lanna:
I just want to add something to what Julie has said. Women are very underrepresented in the TV and film industry. The number of men working in the industry far outnumber the women and they aren't given the same respect that men are. It's so much harder for them to make it in that industry than it is for men, so for a site claiming to be feminist trashing one of those women...that infuriates me.

The worst part is, the very site that is trashing Stephenie Meyer for her choice to become a movie producer, just last year posted an article on this very same gender disparity issue.

Stephenie Meyer isn't the best author in the world, but I'd argue she's a decent story teller. Something in her books must've hooked people enough to make it a world wide best seller. So maybe making movies is better suited to her.

She wrote a music video for Jack's Mannequin and co-directed it (link goes to a behind the scenes video). She was pretty involved in the production of the later Twilight movies (I think her role actually got more and more invovled in the later movies) and The Host. And, as Julie pointed out, her production company are responsible for the movie adaptation of Austenland.

Say what you want about her as an author, but don't judge her talent as a movie producer until you've actually watched things she has produced (with the exception of stuff based on her own books, because the line between the two kind of blurs).

And even then...if you're going to criticize her as a producer, don't be an asshole about it. Critique the product, not the person and make sure what you say is actually valid. Like, I dunno, actually watch the movie before announcing how terrible it is?

She's a woman in an industry where women are a minority. Her partner in her production company is also a woman. The two books they optioned to become movies? Also written by a woman with female main characters. Austenland? Female director (in an industry where female directors are outnumbered 15:1), two women wrote the screenplay, it was a female dominated cast (and the movie itself kind of flipped the gender roles too, surprising given its Austen era inspiration).

A woman jumping head first into a male dominated industry and giving a helping hand to other women in the industry along the way? That's some pretty bad ass feminism and it's not something she should be insulted for.

Basically, think what you want about Twilight, but as far as Stephenie Meyer the person--and more importanty, the woman--goes, I'd bet she has been a much more positive feminist role model than the person who wrote that article* has ever been.

Later.

*I just looked at the article and saw that it was a man who wrote the article...which I am not going to comment further on, but I think it's important to note that.

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