Saturday, 27 June 2015

Discussion: Girl Hate in Books (+Female Friendships)

If you want, feel free to skip down to the discussion questions if you don't want to read the whole post -- they'll sum up what I want to talk about anyway.

I want to talk about girl hate in books. By girl hate, I mean the main character putting down other girls in a variety of infuriating ways that are so painfully misogynistic and anti-feminist (I'll give specific examples in a bit).

It's something I see way too much of in books (and it's always certain types of books -- usually NA/YA romance, in an awful attempt to make the main character seem great in comparison to all the other girls), especially recently...and it's just so -- disheartening? Makes me lose a little bit of faith in the world. And it's even worse when it's paired with a lack of good female friendships in the book.

A book can be problematic and still be enjoyable to read, a book can be guilty of the things I'm about to talk about and still entertain me. It's something I can overlook, I can like a book in spite of it -- but I'm beginning to realise that it's because I've become desensitised to it and that bothers me.


I don't like seeing the main character be horribly catty towards other girls.


I don't like seeing the main character slut shame the female characters while the male ones get a free pass -- I don't like anyone being slut shamed. A person should not be judged by the number of people they've slept with, only the way they treat other people.

I don't like it when the main character uses make-up or shopping as indicators of a character being vapid with nothing else to offer.

I don't like the main character deciding that a girl is a skank/slut because of the clothes she chooses to wear...and I really, really, really hate that the mean girl character is always described as wearing a certain uniform (skin-tight, skin-showing, heavy make-up, etc.).

I don't wear make-up often and when I do, I don't wear much. But make-up is awesome. There are girls that have turned make-up use into an art form. Girls who can do winged liner perfectly? I have so much envy! Ones who have the confidence to rock a bold lip colour? So much respect. I happily sit in the back seat of the car watching my best friend apply eye liner in the passenger seat while we're driving... Dude, that takes talent.

Wearing make-up does not mean a girl is insecure. Wearing a lot of make-up does not make someone a slut. Girls, more often than not, wear make-up for themselves. Not all girls wear make-up to impress guys, and if any do, so what? Nothing wrong with wanting to get all dressed up and have people find you attractive.

Can we take those misconceptions and set them on fire now? Just...burn them. They're worthless.

And let's talk clothes... First, you cannot judge how many people a person has slept with based on the clothes they're wearing. Unless they're wearing a t-shirt that flat out says "[THIS] is how many people I've had sex with" (but even then, it could be a lie, just sayin'). Second, even if you could know that someone was a "slut" based on their outfit...having a character judge someone based on that makes the character kind of an asshole.

You can't tell if someone is a good person based on how many people they've had sex with -- you can, however, tell an awful lot about a person who tries to shame someone for something they have no reason to be ashamed of. A girls clothes don't tell you anything about her that really matters and neither does her sex-life.

So yeah... I hate seeing female characters judged like that because it's not okay. And it's such a ridiculous double standard because the male characters in books (and males in life, in general) get away with the same things and worse.

Back to the make-up and shopping thing. Why are liking those things always used as negatives? Just like liking pop music or certain types of books or TV shows? A girl can like those things and still be an awesome person. You can't sum up who a person is because you know they like make-up and shopping. We don't let our best selves spill out for people we barely know -- it's something that is earned by the ones that stick around long enough to know us.

Writing a female character off as if she's worthless because she's into stereotypical feminine things (which, again, is misogynistic as hell)... It's infuriating. Those things don't tell you the heart of a person, they don't tell you the kind of friend they are or anything of real importance.


And why, why, why do authors have the dude say "You're not like other girls" as if it's a compliment, as if being like other girls is a bad thing... It isn't, and if a guy tries to use that as a compliment you should be offended on behalf of your entire gender, not swooning.

What is even worse is when the main character describes themselves as not being like other girls, that's just -- why? You don't want to be like other girls, fine, you're out of the band...go sit in the corner and think about how ridiculous you are and you can only come back when you realise that girls are awesome. Girls are fierce. Having amazing friends that are girls is one of the best feelings. You should be proud of being like other girls, not distancing yourself from it.


Moving on again...

The ex girlfriend doesn't always have to be vilified. The girl who likes the same guy you do doesn't have to be an awful person. GIRLS DON'T HAVE TO HATE GIRLS BECAUSE OF GUYS!!! Why can't the characters just acknowledge that, hey, I like this dude, this other girl likes the same dude -- we have such good taste in dudes! Or to realise that if the ex is such an awful excuse for a human being, what does that say about the love interest if he actually dated such an awful person?

Just...No. Stop making girls hate girls. Stop making the main character all high-and-mighty because she's "not like those other girls" when the real problem is the bad characterization of those other girls and the misogynistic way the main character judges them not the fact that some other character likes wearing short skirts and red lipstick. Stop trying to raise the main character up by putting other female characters down.

I think that's enough ranting for one post. Basically, I want girl hate in books to stop (well, within reason, it is okay to write female characters in a negative way, it's okay for them to be the bad guys of the story....but can we stop doing it in the ways mentioned in this post?), I want well written female characters.

And I want to see good female friendships. Friendships where they talk about guys but also talk about more than just that. Friendships where they're fiercely loyal. Friendships based on more than just convenience or common interests, ones that run deeper than that. There is so much that girls talk about, so much that they do, that doesn't revolve around guys and I'd love to find more books that reflect that (e.g. Code Name Verity -- how I adore thee!)


Discussion questions:

1. Does girl hate in books bother you? Is it something you can overlook, or is it a deal-breaker for you?
2. If it is something that bothered you, when did you realise it? Because for me, it's something that has been so ingrained in us from a young age that it realising how wrong it was took some time...seeing the double standards, the misogyny...it was a gradual thing.
3. Can you recommend any books with excellent female friendships?
4. What about books that don't vilify any female rivals for the love interests affections?
5. I've not read enough to judge, but are these things present in LGBTQ+ romances? Is it something that is more of a cis-het issue?

I guess that's all. Sorry I got so rambling, but the past three books I've read have all been guilty of these things and it got under my skin.

Later.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer Instinct
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Summary: Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good? 
I really enjoyed the first book in the series -- it didn't really do anything special, anything that hadn't already been done before, but it was entertaining. This one was more of the same really. I actually picked up this book because I wanted something I knew I would enjoy (to snap me out of a reading slump). It didn't disappoint, and for that reason I kind of loved it.

That's the thing about Jennifer's books for me... I've yet to read one I don't like, they're always fast paced, quick, entertaining reads. Even the ones that don't end up on my list of favourites are still consistently good.

I think I liked this book more than the first. It had more of the same stuff I enjoyed the first time round, the stuff that hooked me, plus we got to know more about the back stories of the side characters, more relationship development and I liked that a lot...and it left me really excited for the next book, because while this one had its own story arc, it also set some good groundwork for the next one and leaves me optimistic that it'll bring something different to the table.

Oh, and, has to be mentioned: I really like the way she writes love triangles and romance in general. She manages to have it be present in the book without ever feeling like its dominating the story, and she can write love triangles that have me genuinely torn over who to root for (which is annoyingly rare in YA love triangles).

Really, the only thing I didn't like was that the murder investigation was kind of predictable. You figure out the twists and who the bad guy is long before any of the characters do and you have to sit there as they go through all these red herrings before getting to the right path. Still entertaining, but a wee bit frustrating too.

I wouldn't recommend these books to people who read a lot of this genre, because they'll probably be a lot more bothered by the tropes and predictability than I was, but because I don't read many books like this? They're fun, I like them a lot.

I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Beautiful Little Fool by K.K. Hendin

Beautiful Little Fool
K.K. Hendin
[June 22, 2015]
eARC provided by publicist


Eighty seven billion dollars.
One dead New York business mogul.
No heirs.
No wives.
No relatives.
Eighty seven billion dollars.
Not hers yet.
He doesn’t deserve them.
He doesn’t know what to do with them.
She does.
She always has.
Eighty seven billion dollars.
He’s overwhelmed.
She’s prepared.
That will should have had her name.
Not his.
Eighty seven billion dollars.
His looks are a bonus.
Her looks are her weapon.
He’s fighting a losing battle against his heart.
He doesn’t know it yet.
Eighty seven billion dollars.
She gets everything she wants.
He’s what she wants.
Love has nothing to do with it.
To get to where you’re going, sometimes you need to step on a few people to get there.
Good thing her heels are sharp.

Obviously, this summary doesn't give away much. But I know K.K. and she made it very clear that this book was going to be darker and way different from her previous books. She was definitely not lying. 

Ye who be looking for likable characters may not want to enter here. Cedar Reynolds takes no bull because it's the only way for her to get what she wants - and she will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. She's a skilled actress for New York society, and its newest member, Ellis Carrington. Cedar is ruthless and charming and demanding and has no issue owning that. Ellis, on the other hand, is completely naive to what's really going on. He's not stupid, but he's lacking in confidence and spine, especially when compared to Cedar. Having chapters from alternating view points of Cedar and Ellis magnifies just how different they are.and

Even with all this, the plot definitely shocked me. It covers a lot of ground in a relatively short book and I was continuously astounded about how things were coming along, but not in the way y'all probably think. I just can't be too specific because I don't want to spoil anything. I did, however, spend the last 10% of the book with my eyes bulging out at the story because OH MY DAMN. I didn't see any of THAT coming in exactly the way you'd expect. (Is this making any sense? I JUST DON'T WANT TO SPOIL YOU.)

But it was also kind of a fun read, in a way. It was just this fascinating thriller with these intriguing characters and it goes fast. Pretty perfect for a summer read, I think! And you can check it out if you enter to win the contest below. Good luck! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


--Julie

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice & Men
by John Steinbeck


Summary:  The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world.

Drifters in search of work, George and his simple minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream--a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. Eventually they find work on a ranch in California's Salinas Valley, but their hopes are doomed as Lennie, struggling against extreme cruelty, misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy becomes a victim of his own strength.
I always think that I should read more classics, and then I read ones like this and it reminds me why I don't.

Here's the thing... I completely understand that books like this are a product of their time, I respect their literary merit and the influence they've had on people and literature -- but that doesn't necessarily translate into me wanting to read them or enjoying the experience of reading them.

This book wasn't bad. It wasn't good either. I finished it and felt relatively unmoved -- I didn't have any strong feelings towards it, be it positive or negative. And I should have, because of the topics it dealt with (racism, mental illness, euthanasia, people wanting to escape their suffering and getting through the day by dreaming of a better hand than they've been dealt, etc.).

I was indifferent to the characters, was part of the problem -- it was way too short to make me really care about any of them, which made it difficult for the emotions the book should have made me feel really be stirred up. It ended on a strong note, the last scene and the way it mirrored an earlier scene in the story... It was well done, but lacked the emotional impact it should have had.

This is the kind of story that I probably would've enjoyed studying. I enjoyed studying The Pearl by Steinbeck...but it's just not something I'd pick up if I wanted to actually have a good reading experience or feel emotionally invested in a story. It's one of those books that can be picked apart and you learn to love it for the meaning you find when you analyse it.

If I'm rating the book based on literary merit, it'd be somewhere in the 4 star zone but going purely by how I felt reading it and after I finished it, I'd rate it 2.5 or 3 stars out of 5. I'm hoping I'll have more luck with Steinbeck's longer works, like East of Eden.

Later.

note: I know that not all classics are like this, there are some that I love for both their literary value as well as just being genuinely good novels, ones like this one just aren't like that for me.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Wait for You by J. Lynn

Wait for You
by J. Lynn


Summary: Some things are worth waiting for. Some things are worth experiencing. And some things are worth fighting for...

Avery knows she should stay away from Cam Hamilton: he might be the hottest guy on campus but she really doesn’t need that sort of drama right now. Love is best left in the past – along with her troubles. But sometimes, the last thing you want, is just the thing you need...
I expected to love this book, because the reviews I'd seen were mostly glowing and my past experience with Jennifer's books have been positive. And I did like it...but not nearly as much as I thought I was going to.

I can't really pin point what stopped me loving it really. Maybe it was just that the whole thing was kind of predictable and cliche, there wasn't really much in it that I hadn't read countless times before... I did get caught up in the romance, and I enjoyed it while I was reading it but it's one of those books that you just know they're not going to linger with you (at least, that's the way it was for me).

I mostly liked the characters. Avery could be frustrating, because the stuff with her past felt too drawn out -- it was understandable, but it just got to the point where I wanted to scream "USE YOUR WORDS!!!" at the book... But then, contrary as it may be, I also got frustrated by some other characters pressuring her to talk about something she clearly wasn't ready to talk about, and making it about not trusting them when really, you can trust someone 100% and just not be ready to talk about bad things that happened to you.

Cameron and Avery... *Sigh* I don't know what to say. On one hand, I loved them together and I was totally rooting for them to get together, and I lovelovelove that their relationship did start out as a sort of friendship before becoming more.

But, I had some issues with it too (see the trust thing above)... Like Cameron being one of those reformed player cliches -- which doesn't bother me too much, except that he was one of the ones that pulled the You're Not Like Other Girls card that makes my inner feminist side-eye his character so much (if he had worded it "It's different with you" then that would've been better, but he said that she is different). There were a couple of other issues like that (like constantly asking her out when she keeps saying no -- it might seem cute in the context of the book, but it's one of those things that are a big problem in reality...guys thinking "no" is synonymous with "convince me" so it's not great reading it romanticised in literature).

Avery's friends irritated me too. They did have moments when I liked them, but they were mostly kind of over the top and annoying and very immature (and I felt like I'd read characters exactly like them a hundred times before).

This review is seeming really negative, but I did actually like the book and fully intend to read the rest of the series (and any other books by the author I can find)... Most of my issues bothered me more in hindsight than they did while I was reading, the main problem was that it's kind of forgettable but there's nothing inherently wrong with that because it kept me entertained for a few hours.

...Anyway, enough rambling. I'd rate the book 3.5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Romance Review: The Duke's Guide to Behaving Badly and Put Up Your Duke by Megan Frampton

The Duke's Guide to Behaving Badly
Megan Frampton
Avon
[November 25, 2014]
egalley via Edelweiss

All of London knows the Duke of Rutherford has position and wealth. They also whisper that he’s dissolute, devilish, and determinedly unwed. So why, everyone is asking, has he hired a governess?

When Miss Lily Russell crosses the threshold of the Duke of Rutherford’s stylish townhouse, she knows she has come face to face with sensual danger. For this is no doting papa. Rather, his behavior is scandalous, and his reputation rightly earned. And his pursuit of her is nearly irresistible—but resist she must for the sake of her pupil.

As for the duke himself, it was bad enough when his unknown child landed on his doorstep. Now Lily, with her unassuming beauty, has aroused his most wicked fantasies—and, shockingly, his desire to change his wanton ways. He’s determined to become worthy of her, and so he asks for her help in correcting his behavior.

But Lily has a secret, one that, if it becomes known, could change everything . . .

Put Up Your Duke
Megan Frampton
Avon
[June 30, 2015]
egalley via Edelweiss

 He was once happily bedding and boxing, but in the newest Duke's Behaving Badly novel, Nicholas Smithfield has inherited a title and a bride . . .

To keep his estate afloat, the new Duke of Gage must honor an agreement to marry Lady Isabella Sawford. Stunningly beautiful, utterly tempting, she's also a bag of wedding night nerves, so Nicholas decides to wait to do his duty—even if it means heading to the boxing saloon every day to punch away his frustration.

Groomed her whole life to become the perfect duchess, Isabella longs for independence, a dream that is gone forever. As her husband, Nicholas can do whatever he likes—but, to Isabella's surprise, the notorious rake instead begins a gentle seduction that is melting every inch of her reserve, night by night . . .

To his utter shock, Nicholas discovers that no previous exploits were half as pleasurable as wooing his own wife. But has the realm's most disreputable duke found the one woman who can bring him to his knees— and leave him there?

I read a lot of romance novels. They're really great for me when I'm stressed out and just want something light, fun, and addicting. They're also really great slump breakers for me (I've been in a pretty massive slump this month, which is terrible timing, so I've been binging romance novels). I rarely rate them or have really strong feelings either way on them, but Megan Frampton books? This series, honestly, has been a revelation. 

Both books feature slightly unique twists on common plots. Rutherford isn't a widower and he didn't just learn about a kid he had. Nicholas and Isabella don't have your typical arranged marriage and Nicholas didn't just suddenly acquire the dukedom. While these stories are perfectly fun and I'll read the hell out of them, it's always nice to see a twist on them.

Megan Frampton also has a hell of a talent with banter. The conversations between her characters are amazing and funny and just a delight to read. Frampton doesn't just fall into the idea that these characters are meant to be together because it's the story, she builds up chemistry for them. And that really made a difference for me in this series.

A lot of romance novels don't stand out to me, but this series really did. They were fun, sexy, and funny and I'm definitely going to pick up the third book in the series and I can't wait to see what else she does!

--Julie

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Wrap-Up (38)

Look at us, two weeks in a row!

On the Blog

Julie's Post - BEA 2015 Recap

Julie:

Not much this week, fortunately, but I did pick up a few egalleys!

Beautiful Little Fool by K.K. Hendin
Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown
First & Then by Emma Mills
Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts
Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

Lots of very exciting things! I missed out on Until We Meet Again at BEA, so I was happy to find it on Netgalley and I've been DYING for Velvet Undercover! I didn't read too much this week, but I'm hoping to turn that around this week,

--Julie

Lanna:

I've actually started reading a bunch of books this week but I only finished one (review linked above) -- that one took me days to drag through and kind of threw me off the reading train. Hopefully I'll have the rest finished and review next week.

Anyway, new books...


For review:

Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger - So excited for this one, I really enjoyed The Duff.

Witch Hunter by Virginia Boeker - I actually started the e-galley of this one, but my Kindle wasn't working for a while (wouldn't charge, cable was broken) but it's sorted now. 

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten - I'll be passing this one along to my best friend, because I already have an ARC of it, it looks really good though.

Kindle:

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan - I pre-ordered this, because the Kindle edition was only £1.

Letters to Zell by Camille Griep - This one sounded really interesting and it was on offer on Amazon, so...

Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn - Purely because someone on Goodreads recommended it.

And I think that's all. What books have you all been reading/buying? :)

Later.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

BEA 2015

Hello my friends! My BEA post is preeeetty late this year but well...I just moved! Long story short: I'm doing study abroad next semester and my lease ended in May, so it was decided I'd move back in with my parents for the summer, and then my parents decided we're moving in with my grandma. So I finished my semester, finished my internship the next day, then that Thursday night of Memorial Day weekend, I packed up a few boxes and started moving them back where they needed to be, came back to the city that Sunday, went through BEA week, then got up Saturday morning and packed up the rest of my apartment into my parents' cars, then spent several hours moving some of those boxes to my grandma's and moving things out of my future bedroom, THEN bringing the rest of my stuff back to my parent's. Then because we're still showing the house, I had to very quickly go through the boxes I brought back and unpack them or sort through what I needed and repack them to get them out of the way. And I've also been trying to finish catching up on freelance work. Also, I had a cold for most of the past two weeks that I'm still not totally over. Also I'm maybe now planning a blogger conference with some other bloggers.

It hasn't been a very relaxing summer vacation so far, is what I'm getting at. So I'm just starting to get time to write blog posts again. Why not start with BEA?

Overall Reaction:

The BEA floor had a very different set up this year, but it was more organized, I felt.  I'm still not sure I loved the set up, but I definitely loved that it seemed quieter and generally more pulled together.

However, I have some major issues with BloggerCon, especially the fact that it was run during BEA. It meant you could only hit the morning panels if you didn't want to miss anything on the floor. And it ran at the same time as a publisher brunch, so a lot of bloggers were already occupied. On top of that, the panels just weren't that interesting, overall. A lot of panels felt very similar to past panels, but the only one I went to was new and different and largely unattended. I heard that the panel that ran at the same time had people walk out due to boredom.

I also have issues with how BEA is changing. Everyone I talked to noted that there were seemingly less books available. It might not seem like it from looking at hauls, but it seems like this year a lot of people just got the same books because there wasn't much variety. Publishers are becoming more and more selective about their titles, seeming to prefer a few huge titles (Truthwitch, Passenger, Black Witch) over helping to promote their smaller titles. There was also an increase in in-booth events, which made it more difficult to talk to anyone in the booths. On top of this, due to BookCon being Saturday and Sunday, many publishers opted not to bring their authors in for BEA until Friday, which caused Wednesday and Thursday to be very slow and Friday to seem really intense. I can't say I'm a fan of this new version of BEA, but I'm curious to find out how it'll change more with the move to Chicago.

I also noticed another uptick in bad blogger behavior. Line cutting, hoarding, showing off, getting violent/physical to get books. I'm kinda glad I'm not going next year, honestly.

Recap:

This year really did feel much more relaxed for me. After starting the move then spending the day with a friend Sunday, I spent Monday in bed, marathoning the end of season 10 of Grey's Anatomy and getting some kitchen packing done. Then Tuesday was go time.


Tuesday

On Twitter, I offered to bring books to people coming to Teen Author Carnival or BEA this year in an effort to not have to move books I didn't want. I was also bringing some books just to clear out my shelves. So I stuffed two giant Duane Reade bags full of books (with tote bags in them for back up) and headed down to Penguin for lunch with a friend. After lunch, my bags were breaking and even if I took the one subway stop, there was quite a bit of walking between Penguin and Jefferson Market Library, so I caught a cab and got to the library right as most of the other volunteers were showing up. We got to work pulling things together, had a little down time, then rushed through to get it all done. I ended up upstairs again. The first panel was amazing and funny and just great to watch. The second panel was much quieter since Susan Dennard and Alex Bracken were downstairs. I went to try and go to that panel since there was only one volunteer in that room, but it was so packed I couldn't get in. Katie McGarry was also outside the room, so we got to chatting for a little while, then I ran back upstairs to catch the end of the last panel. Things were a little crazy as we tried to wrap up the signing and I tried to deposit all the books people had claimed. But it was a lot of fun and I got to see a lot of friends!

After, Mitali (AlleyofBooks) and I had invites to the rooftop blogger party. It took so long to shut everything down at the Carnival, that we got there half way through, but there was little things to snack on and drinks and a lot of friends. I got to chat with a lot of bloggers who missed the Carnival, got a lot of congrats from the people who had been there, and met a few new people. I ended up staying pretty late and since there weren't many of us left, we started going through the remaining tote bags to make our own with only what we wanted, which was fun. It was a great party and I was so glad I got to go this year.


A photo posted by Julie (@juliecaughtreading) on
 Wednesday

Wednesday was supposed to be a pretty easy day for me. I woke up a little later than intended and headed out around 10. I powerwalked to the Javitz and got through BEA Bloggers registration just after 11, when the panel began on remaining safe on social media. My friends Nicole (YA Interrobang) and Kaye (@gildedspine) were the panelists, so it was fun to listen to them chat. Because it was also the first day of BEA and there was a blogger-publisher event, there weren't a lot of people. Fortunately, there were plenty of questions and the panel still went really well!

After was the lunch break, so I waited for everyone to finish chatting, then walked out with Kaye and Nicole. Kaye had to meet up with her family, so Nicole and I grabbed lunch with our vouchers in the cafeteria. We met up with Charlee (Novel Thoughts/Riffle) in line and she joined us at well as we talked about books and the conference, etc. Nicole wanted to catch another panel, so Charlee and I headed for the floor. There were two drops I wanted to catch when the floor opened at 1, but we also knew that there would be craziness trying to get Truthwitch and decided to avoid that side of the floor on initial entrance and use a different entrance. We walked pretty leisurely to the other side of the floor and they were totally out of books for both drops.

After that, I didn't really have any big plans. I started catching some drops and going to random booths to check in on books that I knew I wanted, but didn't know about set drop times. I know I went to Spencer Hill and saw Meredith (Spencer Hill Press). At some point mid-day, I got in line for the signing for THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly. While waiting in line, I ran into my friend Derry, a publicist I hadn't seen since last BEA. I also saw a lot of other people at various times. (Isn't my memory super?) But after that signing, I felt pretty done. I found a place to sit, then relocated again in an attempt to get an outlet. Around 4 or 4:30, I left for the day and sat in a Dunkin' Donuts (because I was hungry, yo) for a little while, playing on twitter.


A photo posted by Julie (@juliecaughtreading) on
Around 5:30, I started walking to the Hudson Theater. I'd gotten an invite to a special party of THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick. It was a swanky cocktail party and they had towers of the books and appetizers. But it was also very, very crowded in the little lobby. Then they opened up the theater and there was this great presentation from the CEO of Scholastic, Brian Selznick's editor, and then Brian himself. He showed us a presentation of the graphic novel portion of the book (accompanied by a live pianist), then talked about his research and living in London and his real life research. It was a really beautiful, funny talk and I sat next to two very nice ladies. Afterwards, they put out food but it was still crazy crowded and I didn't know many people, so I said hi to a couple friends, then ducked out early and went home and ordered dinner.

Thursday

On Thursday, I set my alarm for super early because I was invited to the Harlequin Teen Breakfast and it was at 7:30. Instead I woke up and it was like 9 and also my internet had been cut off so I got dressed really quickly, took the subway to the Javitz, walked the WRONG WAY, then caught a cab to the Javitz (that then got stuck in traffic) and then I hurried to the autographing area. There were a couple of signings I REALLY wanted to make that morning. I got in line for THE CAGE by Megan Shepherd, because I LOVED it, and was able to start passing out more books and meet up with friends while I waited. Charlee brought me a romance novel she'd gotten the day before and didn't want and I ran into Stephanie (Cuddlebuggery), who had made the HarlequinTeen breakfast and was willing to pass on the copy of LEGACY OF KINGS by Eleanor Herman she'd gotten to me since that was the one I was most upset about missing. I then had very few plans for the rest of the day. I kind of walked around, bumping into people aimlessly. I picked up one other book at some point, then I got in line an hour early for LAIR OF DREAMS by Libba Bray. This line got moved a few times since it got so massive so early, but I had a bunch of friends coming and going and I made friends. It was long, but very
worth it.

After that, I still had very few plans, but I kept bumping into friends who had things to do. Finally around 3:30 or 4, my I got together with Nicole and we walked to the Skylight Diner for some proper food. We sat and chatted until around 5:30, then we headed for the subway down to Strand.

Macmillan was hosting the annual Blogger Party in the Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore. When Nicole and I got there, the bookstore was actually closed off and fire trucks were parked outside. We were greeted outside by the publicists who directed us up the building next store's elevator, which would still get us to the book room. They had some cocktails and a little appetizer-esque spread made up and we just got to chat for a while with each other. They also had this really great little photo booth set up with props. Shortly into it, they brought out five authors - Marissa Meyer, Sandy Hall, Leigh Bardugo, Leila Sales, and Josephine Angelini - and they started to mingle with us. It was a lot of fun and a really great atmosphere. I was one of the last to leave and a few of us bloggers walked to the subway together and made sure we all were going to the right places.

Friday

On Friday, I woke up mostly on time and headed to the Javitz. I knew today was gonna be kinda crazy, and I was totally right. I got on the floor and did a quick browse, then ran into Andye (ReadingTeen). Together, we headed to the Scholastic breakfast. They had some basic pastry/carbs and smoothies and coffee and a couple of authors milling around, as well as some goody bags for us. I didn't stay too long because I had to get in line for DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy. I did a quick lap around the floor, then got back in line for NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio. After that, I browsed for a little while and hit a couple of drops.

Around 11, I ran into Nicole again and we found a table and sat. We chatted for a while before she had to go, then I sat and finished A THOUSAND NIGHTS by E.K. Johnston, which I had picked up

the first day and wanted to pass to Kaye, who had missed the drop. A little before 12, I headed for an elevator and went up to the terrace for a lunch with Sarah Dessen and Carrie Ryan hosted by Penguin. It was a lot of fun listening to them chat and getting a last definitive chance to see a lot of friends again.

After that, I wandered a bit. There were two drops and a signing at 2 that I wanted to hit and how could I possibly do it all? WELL. I stopped by the two booths where the drops were happening with no luck, then came back to the signing line for Marieke Nijkamp. A TON of my friends were in this line, so I was sliding back and forth saying hi to people. I ran into Hannah (@irish_banana) and Andye and Andye offered to get the copy for me, which was super nice. They ended up giving out the books ahead of the signing, so even when she had to run off for something else, she got the book first and passed it to Hannah. I ran back over to one of the drops and they actually put out BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert out early, so I snagged a copy, then ran to get into line for FURIOUSLY HAPPY by Jenny Lawson. We sped through that line and I got back into the signing line, which had only just started, so I got my copy of THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS signed. I was kind of absurdly proud of myself for pulling that off.


I wandered a bit more, than hopped on line for THE PIRATE CODE by Heidi Schulz. I love Heidi and I loved HOOK'S REVENGE, so I was super stoked to get in line for this. A bunch of my friends ended up being in this line too, so we sat and chatted until it was time to go through. After, I was so exhausted and knew I had to find people/be found, so me and a few others just plopped down on the floor with our books and chatted a lot. People kept coming and going as needed. Kaye came and got her book and I got to say goodbye to her.

Finally, we got organized and I went and found Nicole and got organized. Charlee and I headed back to Skylight Diner, then MarcyKate Connolly and one of her friends (I'm blanking on her name, sorry!) came and joined us, followed shortly by Nicole and one of her friends (also blanking on her name). Nicole's friend left, and then Kate (aka Katherine Locke) came since she was going to the Books of Wonder signing after. Dahlia Adler stopped by briefly and she had a few copies of UNDER THE LIGHTS with her, so I got one from her, then she continued on home. Nicole had to leave to catch her bus and finally the rest of us finished eating and headed to the subway. We got to Books of Wonder pretty late, but there was still room. I dropped my bags with Adam Silvera, ran to the bathroom, then ran to Home Depot. I needed to pick up an extra mattress bag (we were tossing my bed and in NYC, all mattresses/rugs have to be in bags when you throw them out, so I had one for each, but forgot to pick one up for the box spring) and didn't want to have to come back after the signing. I got back as the authors were on there last couple of questions, then spent time chatting with friends until the signing lines died down. I finally brought my THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS trilogy up to Rae Carson and got them signed (because I had carried around those books ALL DAY so I'd be damned if they didn't). Then I continued chatting and saying goodbyes. I finally left the bookstore after most of my friends, crying. Especially because I couldn't head straight home. I ran to a CVS and picked up some packaging and masking tape as well as a lot of junk food, then I got to head home. I ate a lot of junk food and packed up a lot of boxes, staying up until 3 am.

Saturday

I got up around 9 am and finished packing up and bagged my mattress. My roommate and I frantically tried to clear out space to move all of my stuff from the back of the apartment and get the garbage out. I ended up bringing three boxes of our books/DVD out for people to take for free because we just couldn't fathom trying to move them anywhere else. My parents arrived around 11 and it took an hour to finish moving and by noon, I was leaving my apartment of the past two years and the city I'd lived in for almost 3. I was too tired/sweaty/hungry to even care.

SO, that was a very skimmed down version of my week. I had very few plans I stuck to and I spent a lot of time randomly bumping into people, so it was kind of hard to keep track of when I ran into everyone. This was probably a really boring wrap up, but there it is! It really was a lot of fun for me this year and I got to see so many faces I'm going to miss a lot. I'm not going to do BEA next year, so besides ALAMW in January, it'll be a LONG time before I see a lot of people and I'll be missing them for a long time. Having BEA right before my move was stressful, but also just the distraction I needed!



--Julie

Friday, 12 June 2015

Dreaming of Amelia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Dreaming of Amelia 
(a.k.a. The Ghosts of Ashbury High)
by Jaclyn Moriarty


Summary: Amelia and Riley have transferred to Ashbury for their final year of school, and everyone is completely obsessed with them. Glamorous, talented and totally devoted to one another, the two of them drift through school in their own world. But there's more to the couple than meets the eye - they have secrets. And some of them are dangerous to share. As Riley starts to lose his grip on Amelia, the repercussions affect everyone around them.
In the beginning, I loved this book. Then, I quickly started to hate it...by the end, it redeemed itself a little bit, but it wasn't enough. I normally finish Jaclyn Moriarty books with a smile on my face and a desperate desire to read another one, but this one...I finished it thinking I'm so glad it's over, because it was a chore and a half to get through.

The sad thing is, it still had all the things I loved about the other books in the series -- the excellent writing, the quirky, hilarious, loveable characters from the previous books, the interesting format... All of that was still very much present. The problem was that the book was far too long, way longer than it needed to be (my copy has 577 pages, although the font isn't tiny), and along with all those things I loved, it also had a lot of stuff I absolutely hated.

As for what I hated, I'm just going to list those:
  • All of the historical crap. I went into this because I wanted a fun contemporary with characters I know and love from the previous books... I did not want to drag through many chapters about some made up Irish convict shipped to Australia (it nearly bored me to tears). If I wanted to read something historical, I'd have picked up a historical book. I hated everything about that part of this book.
  • 90% of the ghost stuff. It was irritating most of the time, and again, I did not go into this wanting to read something supernatural. Some of it improved by the end, but then it had to throw in another twist that was just awful.
  • Riley... I hated his character for a lot of the book. He is one of the parts that were sort of redeemed by the end, but that still didn't make it easy to read through page after page of him and Amelia being this big deal in the story (although, the writing in his chapters was the best). Which brings me to...
  • Amelia... She is void of personality for the majority of the book. I guess the aim was to make her mysterious, but to me she was about as mysterious as a plank of wood. Her oddness came across as trying too hard to make her a unique snowflake which made her difficult to like (seeing her through Riley's eyes through a lot of the book did not help with this because he was obsessive and it never seemed justified -- it's like someone trying to convince you how amazing and beautiful a potato is or something). The end of her story was predictable (one twist) and annoying (another twist, which seemed like a clumsy attempt at making the ghost stuff relevant). By the end, we still barely know who she is (except for negatives) -- only things that have happened to her.
  • Riley AND Amelia. Like, them as a couple. Again, trying too hard to be mysterious. Everyone gushing about how perfect and talented and mysterious they are was awful. I found it impossible to like them as a couple, neither were particularly likeable on their own and they were worse as a couple. I actually wanted them to break-up while I was reading. Characters who are described as being gorgeous and good at everything is obnoxious and on top of that they're manipulative and just... can you tell I really, really hated these characters and the way they were written? 
  • Worst part is, it did that thing that I hate an author doing. It's hard to explain, but you know how in Twilight Bella describes herself as being plain? But then every male character has a thing for her, girls are jealous of her, and then she tries to explain it away as just being because she's the new girl? This book did that, it had Riley and Amelia be good at everything then had them try to justify it, while still having every other character continually going on about how great they are. 
  • It felt like it tried to cram too much into its pages and the focus was rarely on the best bits. It got really too ridiculous at times.
So...yeah. Those are the things I hated about the book, and they made up the majority of the story and by the time some of those things started to improve it was too little, too late.

I never thought I'd write a negative review of a Jaclyn Moriarty book, but I really struggled with this one and it was only stubbornness that kept me reading until I was finished. I'd rate it 2 stars out of 5. I'd still really recommend the rest of the books in the series though (they can be read on their own, I think), the rest are all 4 and 5 star reads to me.

Later.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Wrap Up (37)

On the Blog

So...I should just drop the "weekly" part of the wrap up at this point, right? These are all the posts from the last few weeks:

Lanna's Review - The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (5/5 stars)
Lanna's Review - The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (3.5/5 stars)
Lanna's Review - An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (3.5/5 stars)
Lanna's Top Ten Tuesday - Books I'd Love to See As Movies/TV Shows

Lanna:


Bought:

Girl at War by Sara Novic (which I already read and reviewed)
The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Wait for You by J Lynn
The Naturals: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
All the Rage by Courtney Summers

For review:

In Another Life by Laura Jarratt
Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine (Netgalley)

And I think that's all? What've you guys been reading recently? :)

Later.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Daughter of Deep Silence
Carrie Ryan
Dutton Books for Young Readers
[May 26, 2015]
Review copy provided for blog tour/Copy picked up at BEA

I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

I'm not unfamiliar with Carrie Ryan's work; I've read her short stories and the first book in her Forest of Hands and Teeth series. I enjoyed those, but I didn't LOVE them. Still, I was intrigued by her going to a thriller contemporary. And man. Guys, no matter what you may think of Carrie Ryan's previous work, this is unlike anything she's published before.

From the first page, I was totally pulled in. This ended up being a one sitting read where I meant to read a few pages, maybe a few chapters. I also sped through it in less than 2 hours because it's a quick, fast paced read and I couldn't waste time in getting answers and seeing what Frances would do next in her plot.

We don't really get to know Frances, which is understandable with the circumstances I don't want to spoil. And me, character-development loving me, didn't even care. Carrie set up situations in a way where you don't have the full picture unless you keep reading. It really is like a puzzle without the box cover - you have these little pieces, but you have no idea what the final picture will look like or how what you have will fit together. It was so skillfully done and it forced me to never put the book down. Or think about putting the book down. Stopping reading just wasn't an option.

Frances aside, there was a pretty complicated group of characters that we had to get to know and each one had a very clear history with Frances and a lot had changed since they all first met her. Those characters all had an incredible amount of personality that helped make up for Frances's ambiguity.

There's so much more I want to say about this book, but I can't because of spoilers. It's not like other mystery books I've read or...anything I've ever read, really. It was intense and complicated and there are pieces that seemed inevitable and pieces I never would have expected. But if you're looking for a quick page turner with a plot that pulls together slowly, this is it. And since that doesn't make a lot of sense, I'll put it this way: Put this on your summer TBR and bring it on vacation. It'll fit perfectly.

--Julie

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Top Ten Books I'd Love to See as Movies/TV Shows

The topic this week is "Top Ten Books I'd Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows" so I had the join in this week -- books being adapted to movies/shows are one of my favourite things (when done right), and I lovelovelove making up fan casts for them. 

So, ones I'd most like to see as movies right now (and I may have mentioned these before at some point -- if so, sorry for being repetitive, I get that way when I really love something)...

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - I would actually want this one to be a mini-series, it wouldn't work as a TV show without changing too much of the story and I'm not sure a movie could properly capture the friendship and all the important details from the story, but a mini-series would be just right. It would be so, so good. Heartbreaking, but good. I'd want them to cast actual English and Scottish actresses though (Freya Mavor would be a great Verity, and Kat Prescott as Maddie).

2. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons - I want this one to be a movie so bad...although, it's another one that would probably work better as a mini-series, because the book is so long. I think this one actually has had the movie rights sold, but whether anything will come from that...well, only time will tell. But they'd have a real task on their hands trying to cast it.

3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas - I don't know what I'd want this one to be. I think maybe a TV show would work best though. But they'd have to cast Celaena so well, because she's not always the easiest character to like and unless she's acted well then some of her personality traits could come across as really obnoxious instead of funny/charming.

4. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - This one could be such a beautiful movie if it was done right. And, I'm sure it would be done right because Melina Marchetta wrote the script (the rights have been sold but the movie news has kind of halted in the past 6 months or so). But, they'd have to get such a perfect cast. I imagine it as a movie with an indie feel, beautiful scenery, and an excellent soundtrack.

5. The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta - I'm finding with a lot of these that my preference is actually for mini-series adaptations. A lot happens in this trilogy, I wouldn't want anything cut for a movie or changed to drag out a TV series. So, a faithful mini-series adaptation would be great. An epic, high fantasy mini-series.

6. Wicked by Gregory Maguire - I've been struggling to get through this book for a while, but I love the story (and the musical is absolutely fantastic) and it's one I desperately want to see as a movie... I'd want it to be like a mash-up of the book and the musical inspired by the book. I'm not sure if I'd want it to be a musical -- I mean, I lovelovelove the musical, but at the same time I'd like to see more detail, more character development and more of what was cut from the book and if it was a musical, a lot of that would have to be sacrificed to fit in the songs. So, just a movie -- with more of the heart/essence of the musical (the book, so far, has been lacking in that department).

7. The Demon Trappers series by Jana Oliver - I really, really, really want this as a TV show. It would be so good, it has great characters, a great setting and it's one of those books that has an overall plot that could work as a series arc but at the same time it lends itself well to individual episode arcs too (think early seasons of Supernatural, where they have the big season-long plot but also individual episodes where the characters are just doing their job, saving people, hunting things...). Basically, it's one that could be drawn out to provide enough content for a show, without having to change the plot much.

8. The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting - I want this as a TV show. A YA supernatural crime show would be awesome... I can't think of any of the top of my head that are airing right now, so that makes it even better. I think I'd want this one to have a more gritty feel though, like the TV show The Killing...that kind of atmosphere, and not pulling any cheesy special effects to show the supernatural espect.

9. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton - This book...this is such a beautiful book, and it could make such a heartbreakingly beautiful movie if it was done right, with the perfect writer and the right director. Something like the Practical Magic movie, only not exactly.

10. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - I have no words that can express just how much I want this to be a movie. The rights were sold but I don't think it progressed any further than that. The authors other book, The Kite Runner, was made into a movie (a good one) but it's this book, this is the one I most want to see, these strong Afghan women and their heart warming and heartbreaking stories.

And I guess that's it. I really hope some of these actually happen.

Later.

Monday, 1 June 2015

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir


Summary:  Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
So, my feelings about it were really mixed. In the end, I think I did sort of like it, but it took a long time to get to that point.

For the first 250 or so pages, I wasn't really into the book much. It wasn't bad, I just felt frustrated with it and it took a long time to feel connected to the characters and invested in what was happening to them (it took about a week to drag through the first half, then I sped through the second half in a few hours).

I think, maybe, one of the problems I had was the alternating POV's? I don't like that in general -- I've said this before, but it really is one of my biggest book pet peeves. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does feel necessary, but I still prefer books not to do it. I'm not sure if I'd have picked the book up if I'd known it was dual narration.

The problem was, just as I'd start to feel like I was getting into the story and warming up to a character, it'd switch to the other POV and that happened over and over and over again until more than halfway through the book when their story became more entwined. Which basically made it take much longer for the book and characters to hook me, and by the time it did it was too late for it to have a big emotional impact (e.g. upsetting things happen in the book but it wasn't even close to making me cry, it didn't feel like it got under my skin much at all really). Plus, there was quite a few annoying cliff hanger chapters.

That is my issue, not necessarily a problem with the book -- I just wanted to make that clear. Because as far as alternating POV's goes, this one wasn't badly done, it's just not something I personally enjoy (with few exceptions) and that was probably a big part of a reason that a big chunk of the book was a chore for me to get through.

But, after I got past that point, I did start to really enjoy the story. The relationships were wonderfully complex, the characters weren't your typical heroes that are heroic from the start (I did love that -- although Laia's naiveté bugged me a bit and her self deprecation got kind of repetitive), the world was interesting, the writing was great... It had all the makings of a 5 star book for me, I just wasn't feeling it.

In the end, I'd say I rate it 2.5 stars out of 5. Maybe rounded up to 3, because I think it's fairer to judge it by the positive feelings I had by the end of the book rather than let the rating be dragged down too much by the issues I had with it early on.

Later.

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