Friday, 27 February 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder
by Marissa Meyer


Summary: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
I didn't think I liked this book much until I was getting close to the end of it and realised just how invested I was in the story and the characters, then when I was finished I immediately wanted the sequels.

In the beginning, the book was good but it's one of those ones that I had no trouble putting down and forgetting about for days -- I'm not sure when that changed really, but liking it totally crept up on me and I don't know if it was like that for everyone, but I totally understand the hype now.

The plot got a little bit predictable with certain twists and I don't know if they were meant to be as obvious as they were, but when you've figured out something about a character as soon as there's a mention of them in the story and then have to wait until the end for the official reveal, it can be frustrating...but, it was still enjoyable in spite of that.

The characters were awesome though, they were my favourite part of the story. Cinder was a great protagonist and it was so easy to root for her and to feel angry at the way she was treated (and I really loved how the whole cyborg thing was done, and the fact that she's a mechanic and that the Cinderella aspect of it didn't change who she was)...and Kai, Kai was lovely and I loved the android characters too. Adri, her step-mum...her I just loved to hate and I hope there's a scene in one of the sequels where she realises what an awful person she is and regrets it all.

I don't think I have anything else to say about the book really...as far as retelling's go, this is a good one and it lived up to all the hype there was about it (the hype was the main reason it took me this long to read it, so often that leaves me disappointed).

I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5 and I can't wait to get to the sequels.

Later.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre


Me and Mr J

by Rachel McIntyre

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.

Lara's life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?
When I first started this book, I thought I wasn't going to like it much when I realised it was in diary format because that's normally not my kind of thing. But, it really proved me wrong because in the end I really, really loved it. 

Lara was a great character, she was easy to like and sympathise with, and she could be laugh out loud funny at times too. Her story was such an emotional roller coaster -- it showed the impact bullying and trouble at home can have on someone, and how it can make them latch on to anything that makes them feel good about themselves for a little while, even if that something isn't good for them in the long run.

One of the things I liked most about the book is that Mr J was younger and he seemed like a really good guy -- in spite of everything that happened, he never seems like a bad guy, just a guy who made some big mistakes. I liked that it gave Lara those reasons to justify their relationship, because it's easy to say a teacher/student relationship is wrong when the guy is much older and he's kind of sleazy and pressures the girl into things. So I liked that it made them actually be kind of good together because it showed the shades of gray in their relationship while highlighting the thing that is always set in stone no matter how good they seem to be together: the older one is in a position of power and should be the one to walk away.

Seeing the story through Lara's eyes, it's easy to like them together because we're swept along with her emotions...but then there's conflicting moments where you snap out of that and "But it's wrong!" alarm bells would start flashing. And it's not because he treats her badly or because he's a bad guy...it's because he's in this position of authority and they're at such different stages in their life (and, his feelings for actually stopped him from doing what he should've done as a teacher to protect her). She may be old enough to know how she feels and what she wants, and it may not have felt wrong to them, but he was old enough to know better.

That's the reason diary format worked really well with the story, because it really showed Lara's age. It showed that while she may be saying and doing things that made her seem mature from his perspective, she was still too young and didn't have even close to the same level of life experience that he did. 

Anyway...that's enough rambling. I'd rate the book 5 stars out of 5. I haven't felt so emotionally conflicted by a book since Stolen by Lucy Christopher, which is one of my all time favourite books so I think maybe this one has made that list too.

Later.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Top Ten Favourite Heroines

Yes, I am posting this a day late...because, well, I forgot. But I really liked this topic so I'm posting it now instead of not at all.

I'm going to choose these mostly from fantasy/dystopia type novels so I'm going with the heroic/brave definition of the word instead of just being the female lead (because it would be impossible to choose if it were just all the female characters)--fantasy/dystopia has more opportunity for characters to be heroic than contemporary fiction. These are in no particular order:

Top Ten Favourite Heroines

1. Evanjalin from Finnikin of the Rock - She's just awesome. She's been through hell but she has this unshakable faith that she can make things right again for her people, even when people are doubting her. And even in other ways, like her relationship with Finnikin...I love how she is with that too (there's a specific example I want to give, but can't because spoilers).

2. Quintana and Phaedra from the two sequels to Finnikin of the Rock (Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn) - I'm cheating by having these two count for one, but I didn't want to have three of my ten be from the same series. Phaedra is a quiet kind of strong, she's kind and she holds her own even though she's in this unfamiliar place away from everything she knows...and she's willing to sacrifice her own happiness if it means helping her people.

And Quintana--she's fierce, and there's a wildness to her, and she endures so much to help people who have been nothing but cruel to her and have done little to help her in return...and she knows her own worth, in spite of people trying to tear her down, she's not always the easiest character to like but she's one it's hard not to respect (but I did actually really, really like her as well).

3. Celaena from the Throne of Glass series - I love that she's grown as a character. I love that she's a girly girl and a total bad ass (it bugs me when I see people act like the two have to be mutually exclusive, so I love it when writers show they're not). She's been through a lot, she's not always perfect, she's annoying sometimes...and I like that.

4. Hermione from Harry Potter - I don't think I need to explain this one. She's brave and she's unapologetically nerdy, she's protective of the things and people she cares about. If it wasn't for her, Harry and Ron probably wouldn't have even made it past the first book.

5. Suze from The Mediator series - Suze is hilarious and she's a girly girl who kicks ass, and she's brave in such normal ways too even though she's in an urban fantasy world where ghosts are real and she can see them.

6. Katniss from The Hunger Games - Katniss is an odd favourite for me, because she doesn't make the list for being a hero, she makes the list because she didn't want to be. All she wanted was to save her sister, that's how it all began. Then, reluctantly, she started to care more about other people too and she just wanted to survive and protect those people closest to her. She didn't want to be the face of the rebellion, she didn't want to start a revolution. She was always the reluctant hero. That's what stands out to me...there's plenty of characters in dystopian novels that are all about fighting for change, but Katniss was different. She never had a big goal of changing the world, she was always letting her heart and her instincts lead her.

7. Rose from Vampire Academy - Rose is another one of the kick ass girly girls. I love her determination to protect her friend. I love that she pushes herself to work harder, to be stronger, when she's fallen behind. She's flawed and brave, reckless at times but her heart is usually in the right place.

8. Jess Mastriani from the 1-800-Where-R-You series - I mostly like Jess because she's a normal girl. Yeah, she has this supernatural ability that allows her to save people, but she's kind of kick ass just on her own even without that.

9. Verity and Maddie from Code Name Verity - These are ordinary heroines, the book is set during the war, not in some fantasy world where they're kicking ass. I can't explain the specific reasons why they make the list, but they're both awesome in such different ways and both of them do things that are heartbreaking and ridiculously brave, I'm linking them together and counting them as one because what they do is so intertwined.

10. Mariam from A Thousand Splendid Suns - This is another ordinary heroine. She spent so much of her life unloved and endured so much abuse...surviving that is brave in itself, but then she goes above and beyond but I can't say more than that without spoiling it, but it's heartbreaking and I love her character.

Also, if you haven't read the books I mentioned, I really recommend checking them out (especially the books my first two picks came from, that trilogy is awesome).

Later.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Weekly Wrap Up (29)

On the Blog:


Julie

Book Haul


All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
Rebound by Noelle August
Stealing Rose by Monica Murphy
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

--Julie



Lanna:
Well then, it's been a while since I've done one of these. I'll try not to mention books I've already included in another book haul.

Book Haul

Bought



The Dark Room by Rachel Seiffert - I actually got this one because I loved the movie adaptation (the movie is called Lore and I think it's German but it's on Netflix with subtitles). I'm not sure if the book will be as good though, because it tells three characters while the movie was just about one, a girl named Lore, but it tells the story of the war from a POV I'd never seen before.

Review books



The Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone - I don't know if I want to read this one, I've seen mixed reviews and it doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but I might give it a try at some point when I have time.

The Bees by Laline Paull - This one sounds bizarre and, again, not really my kind of thing, but the reviews of it are good so I'll probably give it a try at some point.


The Magnificent Lizzie Brown and the Mysterious Phantom by Vicki Lockwood - I actually gave this one to my niece, it's randomly showed up but I don't think I'd enjoy it. If I'd read it when I was in my early teens, maybe, but not now.

Netgalley

Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre - A positive review of this made me want to read it, hopefully I'll get to it before it gets archived (I think I have about a week left).

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein - I've loved every book of hers that I've read so far, so hopefully this one continues her winning streak.

E-books

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I got the urge to read this because a song from the musical (Astonishing) has been stuck in my head for ages, but the version I have is a little abridged copy so I got the full one on e-book just to see if I like it.

Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout - I got this because her Lux series has made me want to read everything she's ever published...I want to get the physical copy, but it's so expensive in the UK so I'm going to wait and if I love it, I'll get a paperback at some point too.

And I think that's everything. Right now, I'm trying to finish Cinder and it's pretty good but I'm not quite seeing what all the hype is about just get (it may just be a genre thing though--I'm still pretty burned out on books with that dystopia feel).

Later.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Note: this is the UK cover (although, I prefer the US one)

All Fall Down
by Ally Carter


Summary: Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
 
This is probably one of the most frustrating and infuriating books I've read in a while...and I pretty much loved it.

Now, when I say it was frustrating and infuriating, I mean that in a good way--I got so invested in the story and cared about the main character so much that I got so mad about the way she was treated in the book (even if I could understand the other side of the coin, it was her head I was in so it's her I sympathised with most).

The characters were my favourite part. Grace was smart and funny and kind of reckless, and she was damaged by what she'd gone through but was a really strong character and I liked that a lot--I liked that it showed you could have your issues and it doesn't necessarily make you a weak person. And I loved that she stood up for herself and other people. And the side characters were great, Megan, Noah, Rosie and Alexei were awesome (I hope there's a lot more of them in the sequels).

The plot was really addictive too (and the setting was awesome). The only part of the book I didn't love was the ending really, for two reasons (which I'll explain as best I can without spoilers)...I didn't love the way a certain plot point played out. It was well written and probably a more original way to go, but it was less satisfying. I respect the choice to take it that way, I just liked it less than I would've if it had gone the way we're supposed to expect it to, is what I'm trying to say. But that could change with the next book, I do really look forward to seeing how it all plays out in the sequel.

Also, I just really was not in the mood for a book with a cliffhanger, especially because I enjoyed the book so much that it just makes me want the sequel right now.

That's all I have to say really. The book was awesome and I'd rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen
Victoria Aveyard
HarperTeen
[February 10, 2015]
egalley via Edelweiss


Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

I had very conflicted feelings on this book.

For most of the read, I found things to be just okay. Nothing super special or flashy to stand out to me. I almost put it down a few times, but it was a quick enough read and not poorly written. I was intrigued and I still really liked this premise.

Then I got to the end. And oh my damn. Things got real.

It really wasn't a stand out book for me until that ending, which shocked me a bit and totally drew me in. It was disappointing to know that's where the book ended and I'd have to wait a REALLY long time (especially since I read this over the summer) to see what happened next. It's kind of killing me, months later, how that book ended. And I'm going to have to read book 2.

There's nothing I can say that was wrong with it to explain why it wasn't grabbing me. It was well written and I liked the premise and there were some really great, intriguing relationships between the characters. I think I was just expecting something different when I picked it up and didn't get that - until the end. Most people do seem to really enjoy it, so I'm in the minority here.

I would recommend checking this out. It's not a favorite for me and I still don't really love it, but I do see Victoria Aveyard's skill and I need to know where book 2 is going. Me and sequels tend to be tricky, so for me to still be determined, months later, to check it out, I know this book has something really good going for it. And I'm excited to see what comes next.

--Julie

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Top Ten Bookish Problems

I wasn't going to do Top Ten Tuesday this week but 1) I kind of liked this topic and 2) I haven't finished any of the books I intended to finish over the weekend (being on Skype from 1pm-ish until after 1am with my best friends isn't really the best way to read-a-thon, oops).

But yeah, the topic this week:

Bookish Problems

1. Series - It's not even that there are too many series's really, it's more that most of them are too long. Duologies are fine, trilogies are good too...quartets are pushing it, but then a lot of the series being
released now are dragged out for 5-10 books (some crazy ones are even longer). There are too many good books out there to invest so much time and money into one series, especially when the books are released one a year and I can't guarantee I will even be into the same books 5+ years from now.

2. Dual narration - I hate books with alternating POV's. There are exceptions, but it's a general pet peeve so I absolutely hate that dual narration seems to be a trend in New Adult romances now.

3. Angsty romances - Okay...I like angst, but I need to be in a certain mood for it and it has to be done right, but I've lost count of the New Adult romances I've read the summaries for that sound so generic because they're basically "girl has tragic past, she meets boy who has a secret tragic past, they fix each other, blahblahblah" and it's just...it's annoying, I especially don't like the whole fixing each other aspect because it's not a good message to send, that you need a relationship to fix yourself.

4. Parental death - My dad died, so this one is tricky. If it's done well, it can be fine, but sometimes it's written by people who have no clue how it feels and a lot of the time it seems like it's just thrown in to give the main character a Tragic Past and give her a manic pixie dream girl quality (even then, it can be written well--like in Looking for Alaska--but it's irritating to see this awful thing that I've experienced, that people I know have experienced, turned into this thing to make a character interesting when the reality of it is awful).

5. Dystopia - Thankfully, it seems like this is dying down a bit, but for a good few years there, there was such a flood of dystopia that I became so thoroughly sick of reading it or watching it or seeing it. It got to the point where I couldn't even finish series that I loved because I was just done with the genre.

6. Chalky pages - This is an odd one. I'm scared of chalk and some books seem to have been printed with chalky pages... I get quite pathetic when I stumble across one of those. I tried reading with mittens on. I tried reading with rubber gloves on. I even tried turning pages with a sandwich bag over my hands... Nothing helped. So I gave up and gave my best friend my chalky-paged books (saddening, seeing as I was looking forward to reading Deathless and Annexed).

7. Cravings - I go through phases of craving certain types of stories (shush, not that type) but then I can rarely find any to fit what I'm looking for. The most recent ones are good love stories set during wars (I blame The Bronze Horseman and Between Shades of Gray) or love stories set in the Middle East with Muslim characters (I blame A Thousand Splendid Suns).

8. Not published here - Now, it's not so bad if the book is published in the US, those are easy enough to get hold of even if they are slightly more expensive...but books published in Australia? Gah! I want so many and they're so out of reach (I know of one book site that ships Aussie books but they're stupidly expensive--like £15-20 for a YA paperback--and the site can be a bit dodgy apparently). And don't even get me started on the many books that sound amazing but aren't published in English (I have so much sympathy for people who don't read English well, it must be worse for them).

9. I forget my Kindle exists - This tends to happen often...I forget about it for months, which isn't too bad except sometimes I forget about it while I have e-ARC's on there and then by the time I remember, they've expired and my feedback ratio on Netgalley isn't as high as it should be because of it.

10. Choosing which book to read - There are so many books to read that I suck at deciding which one...sometimes I'll struggle to choose so much that I end up not reading any and it's ridiculous and I'm stupidly indecisive. I've tried the book jars, but those don't work for me. It's a good problem to have, I suppose, because it's better to have too many choices than not enough but it's frustrating too.

And I guess that's all... I'm going to go now (and pay attention to my friends, as I'm writing this while in a Skype call...oops). Agree with any of my bookish problems? Got some of your own?

Later.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up (28)

On the Blog

Monday: Lanna read the classic A Northern/Gathering Light
Tuesday: Lanna took on this week's Top Ten Tuesday
Friday: Lanna never expected to enjoy this book


Julie

Book Haul


Beautiful Beloved by Christina Lauren 

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot
Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee 
The Infinite by Lori M. Lee
The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
Not After Everything by Michelle Levy
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Those Girls by Lauren Saft
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

I think there were more? But most of those were for last week and accidentally got deleted when I went to update this post, so I'm not totally sure what I missed.

Books Read


Beautiful Beloved by Christina Lauren
Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

One thing concussions are good for is reading time. They said I can't have screens, but nobody said anything about books! I've been binging my way through the Bloodlines series and plan to finish since it's a three day weekend. I'm so pumped!
 
Upcoming Reads

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

After those two, I'm not 100% sure what'll come. I do know there's a LOT of signings next month I want to go to, but my rule is that I have to read and LOVE the book before buying it at a signing, so I've got to double check those titles and get cracking.

Odds and Ends 

And once again, I disappeared. I spent all of last week trying to catch up from not having my laptop for a week, made extra complicated by my laptop dying AGAIN Monday night and having to go to the 24/7 Apple Store and the panic attack I had from it all that drained me for a few days. Finally caught up, was ready to go, had a full weekend ahead of me to work on things...then I got a concussion last Friday and was put on a screen hiatus that I only kind of followed. I spent all weekend resting, then tried rushing back into things too quickly and spent all day Wednesday in bed, mostly sleeping. I'm definitely feeling better after that, but my screen time still needs to be limited. Hopefully by the end of next week I'll be mostly good to go and back to normal and blogging regularly!

--Julie

Friday, 13 February 2015

After Math by Denise Grover Swank

After Math
by Denise Grover Swank

Summary: Scarlett Goodwin’s world is divided into Before and After.

Before she agreed to tutor Tucker Price, college junior Scarlett was introvert, struggling with her social anxiety and determined to not end up living in a trailer park like her mother and her younger sister. A mathematics major, she goes to her classes, to her job in the tutoring lab, and then hides in the apartment she shares with her friend, Caroline.

After junior Tucker Price, Southern University’s star soccer player enters the equation, her carefully plotted life is thrown off its axis. Tucker’s failing his required College Algebra class. With his eligibility is at risk, the university chancellor dangles an expensive piece of computer software for the math department if Scarlett agrees to privately tutor him.Tucker’s bad boy, womanizer reputation makes Scarlett wary of any contact, let alone spending several hours a week in close proximity.

But from her first encounter, she realizes Tucker isn’t the person everyone else sees. He carries a mountain of secrets which she suspects hold the reason to his self-destructive behavior. But the deeper she delves into the cause of his pain, the deeper she gets sucked into his chaos. Will Scarlett find the happiness she’s looking for, or will she be caught in Tucker’s aftermath?
 
I didn't really intend to read this book... It's one of those ones I downloaded on a whim because it was free on Kindle, then I forgot all about it. But I was bored in the car the other day and started reading it for lack of anything else to do while waiting and I ended up finishing the book the same day--for some reason it just hooked me.

I really liked the relationships in the book. I think the romance was done quite well, it's one of those ones where they go from zero to I love you within only a couple of weeks, but it didn't feel insta-lovey, which I liked. They were really cute together and I liked that their personalities complimented each other and made them better together than apart.

I liked the characters a lot, too. I found Scarlett frustrating at times because of the anxiety thing, not because it was poorly done really, more because I've had a lot of personal experience with that and it's one of those things that I find tedious to read about instead of enjoying the relatability (I'm not sure if it other people would enjoy that part of it), but aside from that she was a pretty good protagonist and I loved that she was a math nerd and was so unashamed of it and I loved how ambitious she was in spite of her issues.

The only thing I didn't like much was the writing, but it wasn't too bad.

Anyway... It wasn't an amazing book--it was cute, it was fun to read while I was reading it, but it's one of those ones you forget you even read within a couple of days (I actually had more to say about the book than this, but I lost my review notes and can't remember much to say about it even though it's only been a few days). 

I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5. It's a good one if you want a quick read to kill some time, but I wouldn't recommend it if you want something amazing that will stick with you.

Later.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Like/Dislike in Romance

Topic: Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books (can do a full list or split it up in likes/dislikes or even things you want to see MORE of in romances in fiction)
Dislikes:

1. Alternating POV's - This is one of my general pet peeves but it seems to be one of the new trends in YA/NA romance books and I loathe it so much. Romances are predictable at the best of times...you know they'll usually end with the couple together, the fun is in how they get there. I like not knowing what the love interest is thinking and feeling, I like being as in the dark as the main character is and taking that journey with them. Dual narration trashes some of the best parts of reading romances, it kills the suspense and makes them more annoying.

2. Insta-love - There are rare exceptions, but in general, I hate it. I hate when the main character (usually female) is totally obsessed with a guy she has barely exchanged two words with. I hate when they've only known each other for five minutes (and not even talked about anything meaningful about themselves, only about them as a couple) and yet they're proclaiming their undying love for each other. It's awful.

3. Excessively sappy - I like my romances with lots of banter and sarcasm. I don't like it when every single conversation the characters have revolves around how much they love each other, written in horribly flowery prose.

4. Controlling love interests/emotional abuse - I can't stand when I read a book and the love interest is excessively controlling of the main character, and yet she swoons away and his behaviour is glossed over. I hate seeing abusive relationships romanticized. Fifty Shades of Gray, for example, is not romantic, the relationship is emotionally abusive (and I'm not even talking about the horribly inaccurate attempt at portraying BDSM). Any kind of abuse being romanticized is not okay.

5. Rapist love interests - Like above, seeing this romanticized is just sickening. Love interest and rapists should be mutually exclusive qualities, never found in the same character. In the past year or so I've read four or five books that sounded good only to then have them turn all rapey... that's four or five books too many.


Likes (and these ones come with recommendations):

6. Love/hate relationships - I lovelovelove romances that start out all Beauty and the Beast ("Barely even friends, then somebody bends unexpectedly [...] bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong."). I appreciate the cutesy lovey moments so much more when they're peppered in between lots of snark and playful banter (see: no. 3).

Rec: Onyx by Jennifer L Armentrout, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

7. Forbidden romances - I don't know why exactly...I guess it's just interesting to read when it's done right. And I guess I kind of like the whole love conquers all aspect of those types of romances.

Rec: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (probably the most forbidden romance I've ever read)

8. Bad boy love interests - I can't help it. I guess the appeal is that it's nice to believe that people can change if they find someone worth changing for, someone they want enough. I like when the characters become the best versions of themselves when they're together.

Rec: The Duff by Kody Keplinger, Carter Reed by Tijan

9. The nerd and the popular one - I don't even know why...it's just freaking adorable really. I guess it's maybe the way they tend to subvert stereotypes.

Rec: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (well, the love interest is a goth but it has the same popular/unpopular element to it)

10. War - It's just...I like that little bit of light shining through, even in the darkest of times. It's the love conquers all thing again--like, people are dying and bombs are falling and the world is going to hell and yet everything will be okay, because they have each other and that gives them hope, that tiny bit off hope amongst all the rubble. 

Rec: The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


Honourable mentions: 

  • Fierce female characters who kick ass and do their share of the saving instead of it always being left to the dudes (and the dudes are okay with being saved...and they're concerned about the safety of the main character but only because they care, not because they don't think she's tough enough to handle herself).
  • Princesses working with princes/thieves/assassins/[or something] to save a kingdom for some bad person and falling in love along the way. If one or both of them is in disguise so much the better.
  • And the whole "I refuse to ever fall in love-Ohai! Hi! I like you! No, I LOVE you! But, alas, I'm to be alone forever...because I said so. So we shall now proceed to angst it out for a hundred or so pages before we marry and live happily ever after" stories. 
  • Kidnapping stories...but only if they're done right. I find the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing weirdly fascinating, so I like seeing if the author can overcome that and actually make it seem like a genuine romance has blossomed in this tense, extreme situation (note: if it gets rape-y, the author is not getting it right).
  • The whole "We used to be friends but something happened and we haven't spoken in years but now we're thrown together again and SO MANY SPARKS!" kind of romances.
  • Friends becoming something more. Often with one or both of them currently with someone else and there's so much angst. 

Later.

Monday, 9 February 2015

A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

A Gathering Light
a.k.a. A Northern Light (US)
by Jennifer Donnelly


Summary: Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown entrusts her with the task of burning a secret bundle of letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers that the letters could reveal the grim truth behind a murder.
Set in 1906 against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, Jennifer Donnelly's astonishing debut novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original.
So I think I sort of loved this book. It wasn't one of those ones that I enjoyed reading every page of or one that I knew I loved reading while reading, it was one of those rare, odd books that I genuinely didn't know what I thought of until I'd finished it.

I know I loved the writing while I was reading it though. Jennifer Donnelly is one of those great writers that makes you really notice the words and acknowledge that she arranged them beautifully while you're reading them (which is rare, most of the time the actual writing doesn't register with me--it only stands out if it's particularly good or bad). Like, here's some of my favourite quotes from the book:
“Right now I want a word that describes the feeling that you get--a cold sick feeling, deep down inside--when you know something is happening that will change you, and you don't want it to, but you can't stop it. And you know, for the first time, for the very first time, that there will now be a before and an after, a was and a will be. And that you will never again quite be the same person you were.” 
“I know it is a bad thing to break a promise, but I think now that it is a worse thing to let a promise break you.” 
See? Even when I'm not enjoying the plot or other things about her stories, I still enjoy the way she writes.

Since I've mentioned the plot--that was probably the part that had me unsure of the book. It was pretty boring at times... a lot of it was pretty boring actually. I'd definitely say this was more of a character driven novel, which I wasn't expecting because I thought it would be more of a murder mystery (seeing as the story is written around a real life historical murder) but that was more of a side plot than the focus and I had little interest in it.

The characters were great, they were really well written. Mattie was an awesome protagonist, I loved the way she cared for the people in her life and her passion for words and books and the fact that she wasn't perfect. She's the kind of character I'd like to be friends with, Weaver was too.

Weaver (Mattie's best friend) was my favourite and I loved his friendship with Mattie and his personal story was one of the most interesting parts of the book (being a black guy in 1906, his part of the story deals with racism). And their teacher was awesome too--she was this fierce feminist (although the word isn't used) who refused to let men or society silence her voice and tried her best to make sure the world would hear Mattie's too.

Royal (love interest) was one of the worst parts of the book for me though. He only had one or two redeeming moments, and reading about his and Mattie's relationship was so irritating because they just didn't make sense and had no chemistry at all... and I'm pretty sure we're supposed to feel that way, but it didn't make it any less frustrating to read (it's kind of like seeing your friend date a guy who is Fifty Shades of Wrong and you just have to wait for them to see what everyone else has been seeing from the start).

To sum up, there were parts of the book that I loved fiercely and huge chunks of it that were incredibly dull but still, I'd rate it 4.5 stars out of 5 because it was wonderfully written with a cast of awesome characters that I wish I could know, and I love the way it tackled issues like racism and feminism.

Later.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up (27)

On the Blog
Monday: Lanna fell in love with CAPTIVE
Tuesday: Sometimes, the book isn't as good as the movie
Wednesday: Lanna has a new auto-buy author
Friday: Lanna's read was better than expected


Julie

Book Haul


Ooh, boy. This week was kinda crazy in book accumulation. I've also been missing a good number of ebooks I've acquired recently and I'm only just updating. So...

Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Lantham
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Deadly Design by Debra Dockter
Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Starling and Belladonna by Fiona Paul
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
One Broke Girl by Rhonda Helms 
Wicked by Jennifer Armentrout 
Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson
Witch's Brew by Heidi Kling
Love Bats Last by Pamela Aares
A Beautiful Struggle by Lilliana Anderson
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

...*sigh*

Books Read


This week was pretty freaking crazy, so I didn't get a ton of reading done, but:

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Upcoming Reads

I'm currently in the midst of a LOT of books. To put it simply.

Odds and Ends 

As I mentioned, I lost my laptop for pretty much a week and was also out and about a lot this week. Yes, there was a "blizzard," but I spent a lot of time sleeping, then I had classes and work and after work stuff and weekend errands to run, so I haven't been online much even since getting my laptop back. Hopefully this week, now that I'm more firmly back in the city and getting a routine, things will regulate and I can catch up. But don't expect much blogging on my part this week while I try to do it all.  

--Julie

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