Sunday, 31 October 2010

In My Mailbox (43)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Excitement time! Not a lot, but I've already read 2 of the books I bought and they're SO GOOD. I (obviously) already reviewed one and the review for the second will probably be up on Monday.


Bought:

Review:
The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Not too much this week, but I'm REALLY excited for them all!

Lanna jumping in:

Bought:


Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Torment by Lauren Kate
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Elixir by Hilarie Duff
Dark Heart Forever by Lee Monroe


I own Hush Hush and Fallen but I haven't read them yet, but when I was out on my birthday I just randomly bought a bunch of books and I thought I'd get the sequels to those two. Never even heard of Dark Heart Forever but the cover was pretty and we all know what a cover whore I am, so...


So what'd you get this week? And is anyone doing NaNoWriMo?


-Lanna

Friday, 29 October 2010

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

I Was Just Austen's Best Friend
Cora Harrison

When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this dashing man?

But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor orphan girl to do?

In this delicious dance between truth and fiction, Cora Harrison has crafted Jenny’s secret diary by reading everything Jane Austen wrote as a child and an adult, and by researching biographies, critical studies, and family letters. Jenny’s diary makes the past spring vividly to life and provides insight into the entire Austen family—especially the beloved Jane.

I'll start with what I didn't like:

The writing was very simple. I noticed this seems to be a problem with books written in journal format, but still. Pretty annoying.

Jenny was also very much a Mary Sue for a while. Every boy loved her, she loved every boy and how EVER would she choose the right man? It changes later on in the story, but I was just hit with the realization "Who ISN'T in love with her?" in the middle of reading.

But Jenny grew SO much over the course of the novel, just a couple months, that it's astounding. I loved that. I was never truly in love with Jenny and never wanted to be her, but she definitely improved.

The character of Jane was snarky and funny and loving and just amazing. Exactly how I like to picture Jane. The whole Austen family was very Becoming Jane-esque.

I LOVED the romance in this book. Oh my Captain. It was truly amazing. And while it might seem crazy for this time, it seemed really fitting for the time it was in.

So while it was far from perfect, I AM looking forward to the sequel, Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend. It sounds awesome! And if you're a fan of historical fiction/Jane Austen, I'd suggest reading it!

--Julie

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Feliz Cumpleanos Lanna!

(Oh, yes, I'm SO going there today Lanna.)

Today is Lanna's birthday. She's one year further into adulthood, and blah, blah, blah. 

To CELEBRATE, I have MESSAGES from other bloggers...because I'm too poor to get her a real present (it's not exactly cheap to ship something across an ocean, ya know?)




Hey, Lanna!
Guess what?!
It’s your birthday! *makes noise*
And guess what! You’re now one year older. [[I love reminding people.]] (:
Anyway, Julie had a “Sekrit Project”, and when I asked her it was this and I was glad to participate in celebrating your birthday!
♪Happy, Happy Birthday to yoouu♪
I hope you have a wonderful day and may all your wishes come true! I still have to wait 3 more months for my birthday and I’m so excited.
So, yeah! Chill out with all your buddies and family members and gather around a cake with candles and sing Happy Birthday and Kumbaya and Joy to the World and all that wonderfully awesome stuff that makes no sense, but is fun to do anyway! Wait, what are you doing reading this excessively long thing about your birthday! Go have fun! :D

~M.A.Chase♥


And MORE WILL COME. Or...so I was told.

 But yeah, HAPPY BIRTHDAY. And I hope you don't feel TOO old having a 15-year-old co-blogger. =D

--Julie 

P.S. Y'all should totally swarm her on twitter. @AllyHeartsBooks

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey


Out for Blood
by Alyxandra Harvey

Release Date (UK): November 2010
Note: This is the UK cover, the US one is different (and the first book in the series, My Love Lies Bleeding, is published as Hearts at Stake in the US)

Summary: Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends—or even more. 

When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy?

Alyxandra Harvey really outdid herself with this book, it is definitely my favourite in the series so far.

As much as I loved the setting of the other two books, getting to see inside the Drake’s home and all that, this one was just way, way more interesting. The Helios-Ra school is so awesome and it just gave the book that extra something that the other books didn’t have while still maintaining all of the things that made the other books great.

Quinn and Hunter are by far my favourite protagonists out of all the ones we’ve had so far in the series and they’ve knocked Lucy and Nicholas off of my favourite couple top spot. Quinn was just so adorable and managed to be a complete charmer with a bad boy edge to him while still being a gentleman and I wish he was real and that I could keep him. And then Hunter, well, she was just kick ass and I love how she could take care of herself and stood up for what she believed in, even if it went against people and beliefs that she’s been raised with.

I adored all of the new minor characters and of course, the reappearance of the characters from the other two books, especially Kieran, we got to see this new side to him when he was around Hunter and was in best friend/big brother mode, I loved the relationship they had.

The plot of this one was my favourite so far too, even though I did figure out the majority of the twists long before the characters seemed to, as much as I loved all of the royal drama with Solange and the Drakes, it was a refreshing change having that take a back seat and giving us a glimpse at the Helios-Ra side of things and something kind of separate from all of the royalty stuff.

Anyway, there’s not much else I can say without spoiling the book. I loved it and I really recommend this series, especially now that this book is a part of it.

Later.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
October 26, 2010
Knopf Books for Young Readers
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I love, love, LOVED this book!

Lily and Dash were hilarious and had great chemistry. Dash's snarky, sarcastic (or snarly) attitude totally won me over. 

Dash's best friend Boomer made me giggle all the time! He was like a giant kid. I kind of picture him like Damien from Mean Girls, but he acts more like my littler brother. And Lily's family was so wild I couldn't help but love them.

Dash and Lily frequently went to or referenced The Strand. It made me want to go there SO badly! I want to go to all the places where Dash and Lily went, so I can sit there and laugh hysterically like a mad hobo. 

Towards the end of the book, there's this whole series of events that had me trying not to laugh out loud. I won't say what it is, so you can all experience the win for yourself, but I WILL say CRIMSON ALERT.

Honestly, this book was funny and amazing and sarcastic and adorable and adventurous and fun. I think if I listed another adjective, I'd be smited by the Gods of English, so I'll stop. But really guys. Tomorrow? Your goal is to GET. THIS. BOOK.

--Julie

P.S. Totally grabbed Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist yesterday. <3

P.S.S. It's 12:30 in the morning...sorry for the suck.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

In My Mailbox (42)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.


So. Much. WIN this week! Just wait until you SEE!


For Review:

Won:
Wildwing by Emily Whitman (signed ARC with postcard)
Grimalkin pebble and Julie Kagawa signed book plate

Bought:
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Torment by Lauren Kate

Many thanks this week for:
-Penguin 
-Emily Whitman and Princess Bookie
-Julie Kagawa and PageTurnersBlog

Lanna jumping in:

This week has been really awesome as far as books go, I got:

For review:


Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey
Solid by Shelley Workinger
Entice by Carrie Jones
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

I was so insanely excited when I got these four, all of the other books I was planning on reading next have been bumped down on my TBR pile so these could be at the top. I'm nearly finished Out for Blood (it's fantastic, I'll have a review up for it soon).


Won:

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I won these from, I think it was, the 2009 Debs -- they had this big contest when the whole Speak Loudly thing was happening. I didn't know I had won Speak and Slaughterhouse Five too, I was only expecting Twenty Boy Summer. I already own and love Speak and I own Slaughterhouse Five, but I prefer these covers, so I'm going to give my best friend my extra copies.


Bought:


Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

I've only read the first book but I wanted to own the rest of the series because I know I'm gonna love it and I want to be able to read all the books at once.


The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

I've been meaning to buy this one for ages and people keep telling me it's their favourite Sarah Dessen book, so I finally got round to getting it.


Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Can't wait to read this one.

Crush by Richard Silken

This is poetry, someone posted one of the pieces from it on Tumblr and I needed to buy the book after seeing it. In case you're curious, this was the one they posted:

"You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won’t tell you that he loves you, but he loves you. And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired. You’re in a car with a beautiful boy, and you’re trying not to tell him that you love him, and you’re trying to choke down the feeling, and you’re trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you’ve discovered something you didn’t even have a name for."


Isn't it awesome?

So yeah, that's what I got this week, what about you?

Later.

Discussion: Does the Author Influence How You Judge the Books?

Okay, before I get to the discussion, I just want to make something clear: this post isn’t about getting involved in drama or anything, recent events on Twitter just made me genuinely curious about something and I wanted to know what you all thought. Now, onto the discussion...

So, earlier on Twitter there was this big fuss over something to do with Cassandra Clare and a fan… I’m not going to go into details on that, because it’s not what this post is about (if you’re curious, just go look it up) and it made me wonder:


Does an authors personality (or just how they come across online and how they treat their fans) influence how you read/judge their books?

For example, there are so many authors that I’ve seen on youtube or twitter or on their blogs and they just seem like such genuinely awesome people… and I tend to have that in mind when I read their books, it makes me want to love what they’ve written, I want to like the creation because I think the creator is awesome.

And there’s been a few rare times where I’ve read a book and it’s just not been my cup of tea but I’ve found myself feeling guilty about not liking it because the author is so lovely.

Then, of course, there’s the flip side of the coin: the very rare authors who just… don’t seem that nice (and I say rare, because I have honestly come across less than a handful of them in all my time blogging/reading).

A while ago, there was an author and she was unbelievably rude and horrible to some of her most devoted fans (and, also managed to insult a very large amount of other fandoms with her sweeping generalizations and overly dramatic analogies). I’m not going to mention her name, because it’s in the past and it got smoothed over (and the posts got deleted after about a week of arguments/discussions and hundreds of comments)… sort of.

But the point there is: her books were on my wish list for about a year. I intended to read them really soon… and then as soon as that all happened, I removed them from my to buy list because I just couldn’t bring myself to read her books knowing the kind of person she could be.

Another time, the author of one of my guilty pleasure best selling book series made some comments that I was kind of… not okay with. And although I had already read her books, I’ve never felt the desire to reread them since then and it’s kind of tainted the way I think of them.

I’m not sure if what an author is like as a person should have an impact on how people will judge their books, but it happens… on one hand, writing is a creative outlet and in a way, they are pouring a part of themselves into their words so I guess that could be why -- but on the other hand, it would probably be better in the long run to keep the art and the artist separate. But it’s difficult.

And really, it’s not just limited to books if you think about it -- admit it, a lot of you probably enjoyed Lindsay Lohan’s movies more back in her Parent Trap/Freaky Friday days before she went all trashy and off the rails… and Britney’s music was much more fun to listen to before her personal life overshadowed her talent.

A part of the reason people love Taylor Swifts music so much is because she’s pretty much made of adorable -- if she was this awful excuse for a human being, you really think people would be so into her music? For proof of that, take a look at Miley Cyrus, like Taylor, she’s doesn’t have the most amazing voice but her music is catchy, even if it’s not exactly lyrical genius or anything… her music is fun, but peoples dislike of her as a person make them more reluctant to like her music.

Sorry, rambling over. But does an authors personality/online persona/how they treat their fans matter to you? Or can you keep their books and them as people completely separate in your mind so one won’t be tainted by the other?

Have you ever been put off buying a book because of who wrote it? Or wanted to like a book because you like the author?

Later.

*Julie jumps in*

I very, very, very rarely see the negative side. As in, I've seen it once.

So, I'm gonna focus on the POSITIVES.

Anybody with a really positive influence on the YA community makes me want to read their books. Jackson Pearce is really funny and nice and does liveshows and vlogs...so I read and loved her books. Rachel Hawkins is also really funny and has similar taste to me, so I read and loved Hex Hall. Kiersten White's just adorable, so I read and loved her books.

For me, there's just SO many examples. I can think of two more without trying, probably even more if I really tried. And the YA community just has so many funny, sarcastic, wonderful authors, it's easy to find hundreds of books to read based on author alone.

And every time I pick up a book based on the author's online personality? I LOVE it.

--Julie

Friday, 22 October 2010

Wildwing by Emily Whitman

Wildwing 
Emily Whitman

Addy knows there's so much more to life than what she has. She must be destined for more than being a maid to an eccentric elderly man. And so when she finds a mysterious contraption in the gentleman's study, of course she steps inside. Of course she bumps into the wrong button. Suddenly Addy is in medieval England, mistaken for the young woman betrothed to the lord of the nearby manor. It's destiny. But is it home? And will she ever find her way back to her own time? Will she want to, once she's met the shy, handsome falconer's apprentice?

Warning: It's midnight. I have school tomorrow. This review WILL be crappy.

I did enjoy this book, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I LOVED Radiant Darkness, so I expected to love this one too, because it was also different. Medieval Times and TIME TRAVEL. Win, right?

To me it felt like not much happened in the book. Most of the book seemed to be Addy whining or deciding to enjoy being a lady. The middle dragged a lot to me and I found that if I tried to read it in a place with the SLIGHTEST bit of distraction, I couldn't. I read all of this book locked up in the bathroom before and after showers. 

At the same time, I was captivated when I did sit and read it. I sat for an hour and a half just not reading the second half of the book. I had to know what Addy would end up doing and if she'd be happy.

I loved the romance in this book. Just, absolutely adored it. I just...GAH. Can't spoil.

So, I'm mixed on it. Overall, I did enjoy it and I'm glad I read it, but I just expected more, I guess.

--Julie

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

On Our Wishlist (6)

This month, I'm gonna do "smaller" publishers! And almost all of them have covers! Woohoo!




Joy Preble
[January 1, 2011]
Sourcebooks
*Previously featured, but what does it hurt to bring back?
Dreaming Anastasia is probably one of my favorite books EVER. So, DER I want a sequel!

Anna Sheehan
[2011]
Candlewick
This one just sounds amazing, honestly!

Edited by Tricia Telep
[May 10, 2011]
Running Press Kids
I love steampunk and some of my favorite authors, and some I love without reading, will be in this!

Angie Smibert
[July 2011]
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
This is another one that just sounds REALLY cool.


 


The Iron Queen
Julie Kagawa
[February 1, 2o11]
Harlequin Teen
Why WOULDN'T I want this? I adored both books in this series and, hello, the author's name IS Julie...






Maria V. Snyder
[March 1, 2011]
Harlequin Teen
Another sequel. I really liked Inside Out and I'm curious where the characters go next.
What are YOU guys waiting on this month?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Keturah and the Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

Keturah and the Lord Death
Martine Leavitt

"I will tell you . . . a story of magic and love, of daring and death, and one to comfort your heart. It will be the truest story I have ever told. Now listen, and tell me if it is not so."

After following a hart into the woods bordering her town, Keturah is faced with Death. Lost and hungry after following a stately hart through the forest, Keturah encounters Lord Death, who is ready to take her. Like Scheherazade, Keturah spins a story that she leaves unfinished and extracts from Lord Death a promise that if she finds her true love in a day, she can go free. Thus begins Keturah's search for her one true love and the salvation of her beloved town. But Lord Death is falling in love with her, and as the villagers begin to sense her alliance with this horrifying figure, her life twists and turns on itself.

Martine Leavitt offers a spellbinding story, interweaving elements of classic fantasy and high romance. The romance is intense, the writing is startling, and the story is spellbinding--and it is as difficult to turn away from as the tales beautiful Keturah tells to the people of her village, Tide-by-Rood.

After years of waiting, Keturah and the Lord Death did not disappoint.
It's the fairytale you've never been told, yet you already seem to know it. And even though you already know it, you still yell at the characters "No, don't do that!" and "No, love him, wait...love HIM!" And the ending is a surprise every time.

 The writing was enchanting and musical, almost like a lullaby. I was totally hooked to the point where I stayed up until 1 am on a school night because I had to finish it.

 The characters were sometimes confusing, including Keturah. The way they acted just didn't seem right for the situation. But, they were all endearing, if predictable.

The love interests were hard to choose. There ARE more than 2, but not because Keturah's a slut. I really, really loved two of them, so it was a hard decision. 

I just genuinely loved and adored this book. So, so much. There's not much else I can say. So, I won't try.

--Julie

Monday, 18 October 2010

Mercy by Rebecca Lim


Mercy 
by Rebecca Lim

Release date (UK): October 28th 2010

Summary:  Mercy ′wakes′ on a school bus bound for Paradise, a small town where everyone knows everyone else′s business... or thinks they do. But Mercy has a secret life. She is an angel, doomed to return repeatedly to Earth, taking on a new ′persona′ each time she does, in an effort to resolve a cataclysmic rift between heavenly beings.

The first of a brilliant new series sees Mercy meeting Ryan, an eighteen-year-old whose sister was kidnapped two years ago and is presumed dead. When another girl is also kidnapped, Mercy knows she has to act quickly and use extraordinary powers to rescue her, even if it means exposing her true identity.

Let me start of by saying that I adored the book and I'd give it five out of five stars. And the reason I feel the need to start with that is because this review is shockingly difficult to write, I've been trying for hours but it's difficult to pin point what it was I loved about it... I resorted to just making a list of negatives and positives and then tried to string them together in a review-like manner, so here goes:

The characters were probably my favourite part of the book. I loved Mercy, she's strong and confident and awesome and I loved that about her (and I wish I could be more like her to be honest), I love how she would always be herself regardless of whose skin she's in -- even if she's in your typical wallflower girl, insecure, not the prettiest or anything, she still brought her own confidence. She managed to be a kick ass protagonist even though she was stuck in the body of this tiny unremarkable girl who only stands out when she sings.

I really liked Carmen (aforementioned tiny unremarkable girl) too, even though we don't really see her firsthand exactly, we get to know her through Mercy and how different they are and in the end it feels like we know both girls even though only Mercy was present. And then there's Ryan... Ryan was lovely, I wished we had seen more of him and I hope so much that we see more of him in the sequel.

The romance in the book was weird, but in a good way -- it was so subtle, it wasn't even close to being the main part of the story but there was a chemistry between the characters that made the romance seem more present than it was and I loved that, I loved that Rebecca didn't go down the popular YA fantasy path right now by having it be all about the romance. Don't get me wrong, I love the romance, but it was a refreshing change having that not be the focus.

The plot was really original (at least, I've never read any books like that), it's been a while since I've read a good mystery book and I can't really get into that too much without spoiling the book, so I'll just say read it and you'll see.

The only negative about the book that really stands out to me is that sometimes the fantasy aspect of the book didn't mesh well with the rest of the story. It kind of stuck out like a sore thumb at times (not the day to day stuff in Mercy's life, I liked that, but anytime the angel thing became the focus).

Not only did I find myself wishing I could just skip over those bits, but at times it was really confusing. But maybe that's the point... Mercy is trying to make sense of it too, and maybe it's setting up for the sequel but it was irritating sometimes and made it so that parts of the story didn't flow particularly well.

(Although, there is another summary of the book that seems to summarize the series instead of just the first book -- I read that summary after I read the book and it cleared up some of the confusion, but it would've spoiled aspects of the plot if I had read that summary first. Or maybe it doesn't spoil it and I just totally missed the point while reading the book, which is probable seeing as I mostly read between 2am and 6am.)

I actually think I would've loved the book much more if Mercy wasn't an angel, if it was just a contemporary mystery/romance instead because that was the part of the story that I loved and had me hooked, it had that something that I used to adore when reading Point Horror books when I was younger, that same charm and mystery that keeps you guessing. I'll probably warm up more to the supernatural aspect of the story when I read the sequel.

I'm not sure why this book was so hard to review so sorry if the review was kind of lacking, I tried. But I did love the book and I really recommend it. I desperately want to know what happens next though, I can't wait for the sequel.

Later.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

In My Mailbox (41)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

Ohai.

It's BOOK TIME. This week was epic. Lots of thanking to go on.


Won:

For Review:

Gifted:
+swag, note, and bracelets

???:

Thanks to:
Fallen Archangel (Hush, Hush Fansite)
Simon and Schuster
Beth Revis
Penguin
aannnnnnddddddd
Lanna

How 'bout you guys? How's your mailbox lookin'?

--Julie

Lanna jumping in:

First, @Julie's video: Scotland, Julie! SCOTLAND! ;)


Bought: Second Helpings and Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty, For One More Day by Mitch Albom.


Other: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (step dad found this in the attic and gave it to me, so not technically in my mailbox, but whatever... technically us UK people don't have mailboxes anyway -- can't remember if I mentioned it last time or not).


Sorry for the lack of links or whatever, I was trying to make this quick.


Later.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty


Sloppy Firsts
by Megan McCafferty

Summery: “My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone.

How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

I loathe the cover of this book. I think the title is awful. And those two points are important to mention because once again, it proved I was a total idiot to allow a title or cover (in this case, both) to make me avoid reading a book for so long. Something about the title/cover just put me off reading the book, they just gave the complete wrong impression of the book.

I was expecting something... trashy/cliche to be honest, based on the cover/title -- just your typical chick lit story set in high school with friend drama and boy drama and some attempts at being deeper that don't quite manage it. Jeez, even the characters name, "Jessica Darling", made it seem like that sort of book. Now, while it was chick lit-y, it was just... more. More than I was expecting. The book is brilliant and I so wish I had read it years ago and got to grow up with the character.

I could relate to Jessica in so many ways and I know that pretty much every girl will be able to relate to her as well in some way. She was really realistic, she was far from perfect, not always likable but she was always very real. (And, it's one of those YA books that actually has parents who are present and... parental. That's been kind of lacking in the books I've been reading recently.)

And Marcus, well... I will admit, he did play a big part in how much I loved the book (even though I wouldn't even consider this book a romance, just a book that happens to have romance in it because... well, life has romance in it). He was exactly the type of guy that I end up falling for in real life (well, one of the types -- I also have a thing for nerdy guys but that's a whole different story). The guy who maybe isn't the best one for you, maybe he's made mistakes and your parents would throw a fit if they knew who he really was... but there's just something there, that spark of something that you can't help but be intrigued by and find yourself craving. Marcus was my favourite character. He wasn't perfect, he was never portrayed as the perfect guy and I like that, again, it's realistic.

This was another one of those books that ended up filled with little paper place holders to keep track of pages with quotes I liked on them (quotes which I then proceeded to spam all over my tumblr blog, I liked them that much).

When I was finished the book, the little voice in my head did one of those over dramatic, slow motion, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" screams, because I couldn't believe that it ended there. It ended there and I did not have the next book to immediately start reading. I huffed. I pouted. I sulked. I glared at the book for leaving me hanging... and then I switched on Margo (my laptop) and ordered the next two books off of Amazon. If they arrive tomorrow or Saturday, I swear I will cry happy tears.

I hope I've learned my lesson this time about not judging a book by it's cover, old habits die hard but if books like this keep proving my silly judgements wrong then maybe someday I'll break the habit. Although, I totally hope that the series gets a complete cover redesign anyway and is released in a lovely new boxed set so that the covers will match the awesomeness of the books. Seriously, if they had taken the Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott or Susane Colasanti or Simone Elkeles cover route then I would've read the book as soon as I got it.

I... can't believe I spent so much of this review ranting about how awful I think the covers are. But really, the book is brilliant and if you haven't read it already then give it a chance (especially if the cover/title has been putting you off like it did with me, it'll prove you wrong).

Later.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds
Daisy Whitney
[November 2, 2010]

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.

 Let's start with this: This is not my usual kind of book. I'll read contemporary, but just not this kind of contemporary. But a few other bloggers had been raving about it, so I snatched up the chance to get an ARC.

This. Book. Was. Phenomenal.

A little story for you: One August day, Julie had just finished a book she didn't particularly like and knew she had to read an assigned book for English. Julie was going to cry from boring books. Julie had gotten The Mockingbirds earlier that day and decided to read that instead. Julie stayed up until 4 am to finish it, despite the fact that Julie's dad wakes up at 4 to go to work and would not have been happy to see her still awake. Fortunately, Julie was snuggled into bed before her dad walked into the living room where he could see the lights.

Yeah, you got that right. Unlike with The Hunger Games, I didn't make sure I was in bed before my dad woke up. It just happened to work out well.

This book was clever and funny, despite the heavier topic. It also had the message that we all sometimes forget. You have to speak up for yourself, because others can't do it for you and when something's wrong, it has to be stopped.

My heart broke for Mel. Poor, poor Mel.

But Martin was always there and I loved Martin from the minute we met him. He was so sweet and polite and just all around epic without being perfect...or a jock.

And Alex is definitely a brave person. Any person would have to be brave to go through what she went through and talk about it and take some sort of action, because so many people don't. And while it drastically changed her life, it didn't control her life. That's something I don't think I could ever do, and something millions of women can't do.

This novel is amazing and witty and love and important for anyone who's been afraid to speak up.

--Julie

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Blog Tour: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly





(Left is the UK cover, right is the US)
 

So I read and adored Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (seriously, the book is fantastic -- I wish I had Jennifer's talent) and she has written up an awesome guest post on how she got the inspiration for the book. Anyway, enough from me, onto the Jennifer's post:

The Inspiration for Revolution

As you might expect from the title, this book is about a revolution. On one level, it’s about the French Revolution and one of its smallest victims. On another level, it’s about the revolution inside, about the changes we as human beings go through as we struggle to make sense of our world and its tragedies.

Without giving too much away, the story centers on two girls – one who lives in present day Brooklyn and has suffered the loss of her younger brother. And one who lived in 18th Century Paris and witnessed one of the worst crimes of the French Revolution. Their stories converge when Andi, the Brooklyn girl, travels to Paris and finds a diary hidden inside an old guitar case that belonged to Alex – the French girl.

Revolution got started ten years ago, although I didn’t know it then. I was reading the New York Times and saw an article – “Geneticists’ Latest Probe: The Heart of the Dauphin.” It showed a picture of a glass urn with a heart in it. The article said that a human heart, very small and very old, that had been in a glass urn in the Basilica of St. Denis in Paris, had just undergone DNA testing and had been found to be the heart of Louis Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

During the French Revolution Louis and Marie Antoinette were imprisoned and eventually guillotined by the revolutionaries. After the king and queen were executed, their children were kept in prison. Marie-Therese would survive her imprisonment and would be released in 1795. Eight-year-old Louis-Charles was not so lucky.

As heir to the throne, he was seen as a threat by the revolutionaries. It was rumored that powerful people were plotting to free the child and rule in his name. To prevent this, Robespierre and his crew essentially had Louis Charles walled up alive. He was kept in a small dark cold cell. Alone. Without enough food or a fire. He became sick. And he went mad. And eventually he died. At the age of ten.

Needless to say, this article really upset me. I couldn’t stop wondering how the idealism of the revolution devolved into such cruelty. I went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it. I recognized the feeling – it’s how I feel when a book is starting inside me. But I couldn’t act on that feeling because I had other books due at the time. Nonetheless, the story stayed with me. Time moved on. I finished the other books. And I had a child. Which changed my life in many wonderful ways.

In one not so wonderful way, I somehow lost my protective shell. The one that enables us to hear a horrible story on the news and still go on with our lives. When my daughter came along, suddenly every news story about an abused child destroyed me. As a new mother, I knew what a child was in a way that I had not before. I knew how fragile and innocent children are. And that someone could hurt them, that they could starve in a famine, or be injured by a bomb….well, I could not understand that and I couldn’t bear it and I wondered, as I never had before, what kind of world is this that allows it? And how do we to live it?

These questions were haunting me and I had to find answers. So I set about trying to do that the only way I know how, by writing a story. I remembered that article I’d cut out of the Times. That small heart in its glass urn took on a new and symbolic meaning for me. What happened to Louis Charles was unspeakable, and yet, I felt that if I could face it and grapple with it, it might help me find my answers.

So I started in. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. In fact, Revolution is by far the hardest book I’ve written. I really struggled with it. It took me on a journey, this book, and how. It cost me a lot of sleep. Etched lines on my face and on my own heart. But it gave me the answers I needed. And I hope that maybe it will do that for my readers.


Later.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Discussion: “I don’t get it. Were we reading the same book?”


Have you ever loved a book that everyone else seems to hate?

Or have you ever hated a book that other people seem to love?

And when you hear other peoples thoughts on those books, you’re just baffled by what they say about it because from the way they talk, it’s hard to believe you’re even talking about the same books? That ever happened to you?

I’ll give examples of both for me.

A book that I love but other people seem to hate:

The Old Man & The Sea by Hemmingway

So, it’s a classic. It’s Hemingway. And, to an extent I can see why some people might not like it… but I adored this book; it’s boring, totally monotonous, but reading this book was the first time it really clicked with me that I could find meaning in a story. That fiction books can be more than just entertainment.

The story may be kind of on the dull side, but I liked Hemingway’s writing and I loved the symbolism in the book. I really cared about the character and my heart broke for him.The whole story kind of seemed like a metaphor for life (to be honest, I don’t know if that’s what Hemingway intended -- but that’s the meaning I found in it anyway, whether he intended it or not).

It’s never going to be one of those books that are absolutely thrilling to read, it doesn’t get my heart racing or make butterflies dance in my stomach as I experience echoes of the characters emotions… but there was something there. And that’s why I love the book, even though most people I’ve talked to don’t get it.

Book that I hate but everyone else seems to love:

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

I cannot put into words how much I loathed this book. It could probably bore me to tears and I didn’t like the characters at all -- to be honest, thinking back on the book, the only things I really recall is forcing myself to finish it and the fact that vampire boy liked human girls boobs. And the ending. I didn’t like the ending.

I’ve seen people talk about this book and praise the hell out of it and I’m just like, “I don’t get it. Were we reading the same book?”

I pouted like a two year old when it got a cover redesign that I adored because it made me want to buy a book that I hated just for the pretty cover (although, the redesign seemed to be trying to look Twilight-y).

I should mention also, that I let this book put me off reading anything else by the author for years but eventually I caved and read Blood & Chocolate and that book is fantastic (don't let the movie version of the book put you off -- aside from the genre and character names, they have very little in common, even the ending changed).

Another good example of these kind of love/hate books is the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. The world seems to be split in its opinion of these books (the last one especially) -- half of the world thinks they are one of the worst things to ever happen to literature while the other half seems to be absolutely obsessed to the point of fangirling.

At the end of the day, opinions are subjective and we’re all into different things and there really is no right or wrong when it comes to an opinion of a book because it depends on your own personal tastes… but still, it’s weird seeing people love something you hate or hate something you love. It’s a funny reminder of just how different people can be.

So yeah, basically, I just wanted to know: is there any books that you love but other people hate? Or books that you hate but other people love? Have you ever had an “I don’t get it. Were we reading the same book?” moment?

Later.

P.s. Please note that with The Old Man & the Sea and The Silver Kiss, I know not everyone hates/loves them, when I talked about people having totally different opinions from me, I just meant the people I had talked to about the books. =P

P.p.s. I’ll try to get an actual review up this week, I started reading Sloppy Firsts earlier and it’s good so far. =]

Monday, 11 October 2010

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


Revolution 
by Jennifer Donnelly


Summary: BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

This book was absolutely amazing. And so this review is probably going to be absolutely terrible, because the reaons why the book is amazing are hard to pin point and put into words.

I've been kind of avoiding historical fiction recently, I got sick of the genre -- but this book, it's made me love HF again. Maybe it's because the book alternates between present day and the past, so it's not all HF, it has contemporary fiction thrown in too (so it's kind of a book that has something for everyone, even if you don't like HF this book could probably win you over). I loved the way the book was told, how it effortlessly combined Andi and Alex's stories, even though they lived hundreds of years apart. 

I adored Andi's character, she was really complicated and in some ways, I wished I could be more like her... and I'm not really sure why because she is flawed, she has all this pain in her past and she doesn't always deal with it in the best of ways. But she's strong, maybe that's it, she's a strong character and even though she has all of this agony, she finds art in her agony and has all of this passion for music and there's something, well, fearless about her. She's not fearless, but something about her was definitely fearless (if that makes sense). And I loved that. She's a brilliant character. I loved Alex and Virgil and Nathan and some of the minor characters too, but Andi was my favourite (although, Virgil is definitely a fictional boy I would very much like to keep, he can sing me to sleep any day... well, if he were real).

The plot of the book has a lot of actual history woven into it, stuff about the French Revolution and the heart of Louis-Charles (that part is so beyond heartbreaking) and a sign of a good book is that it makes me want to learn more about things. After reading this book, I added a bunch of books on the French Revolution to my wish list and I now really, really, really want to visit Paris and I want to see the catacombs and I looked up a bunch of the music that Andi mentions in the book too and it's this book that made me crave to know more about all that stuff when I wasn't particularly interested in it before.

Has to be mentioned: I'm kind of in awe of Jennifer's writing -- I mean, I read well written books all of the time... but even in those, the writing doesn't really stand out. But in this book, the writing itself stands out, she strings words together in such a way that it gives the writing personality. She has an almost poetic way with words and I found myself sticking bits of paper in a bunch of pages that had quotes I loved on them. Like this one, I love this quote:

"Be careful what you show the world. You never know when the wolf is watching."

As I warned, this review was terrible -- but the book is fantastic. Five out of five stars. The kind of book that had me still reading well into the early hours of the morning, promising myself that I would sleep after just one more chapter... I broke that promise repeatedly while reading this book and it was worth it.

As part of her blog tour, Jennifer has written up a guest post on her inspiration for the book and that'll be up on Wednesday.

Oh, and this is the US cover, the one with the key is the UK cover:



Later.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Mount TBR Update

Since I'm not doing an IMM post this week (I only got one book, the Deathly Hallows signature edition and I did a post on that already), I thought I'd do a Mount TBR update. Because, well... just because.


(Each of those piles comes up to about my belly button o.O)

Earlier, I had all of the books on my floor and I was arranging them and deciding what to read next so I took pictures/made a video of them (you really don't need to watch the video, it doesn't show much, just what you see above really).

(Note: I would've talked in the video and made it more vlog-y but I don't feel comfortable talking to a camera when other people are home... hell, I don't feel comfortable talking to a camera ever. Oh and the song in the video is Where Are You Now by The Summer Set ft. Dia Frampton -- I was listening to it while I was messing around on windows movie maker, so... yes. Annnd I kind of forgot to trim the audio of the video once the visual stuff was over)



Books I plan to read in the next two weeks:



After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

I've been meaning to read some of Murakami's books for ages, everyone I've talked to says they're awesome and quotes from them keep popping up on my Tumblr which makes me want to read them even more.

If We Kiss by Rachel Vail

I bought this like, last year... maybe even before that. I'm in the mood for something chick lit-y, so yeah.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexei

I'm like, a quarter of the way into this one. I like it so far, it's not my usual kind of book but I figured I'd give it a try since I've only heard good things about it.

Mercy by Rebecca Lim (for review)

Dying to read this one, I have been since I was sent it for review.

Out for Blood by Alyxandra Harvey (for review)

Like above, dying to read it. I love this series.

Sloppy First by Megan McCafferty

I've been meaning to read this one for forever... the titles and covers put me off really, but I've heard amazing things about the series so I bought the first one to try.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

I started reading this when I first got it years ago, and then I stopped reading and I think I started again and stopped again... it just didn't hook me from the start and the main character irritated me. But I want to give it another try because people keep telling me it's awesome and I own the whole trilogy, so I may as well read them (although, I know how the last book ends -- not looking forward to that).


As I Walked Out One Evening by W. H. Auden

I think it was John Green who mentioned/quoted Auden (either on blogtv or a vlog or in one of his books -- Looking for Alaska, maybe? I think the whole "You shall love your crooked neighbour, with your crooked heart" quote was in LfA and it's by Auden). Anyway, I wanted to read more of his stuff.


The Book Theif by Markus Zusak

I've been putting off reading this one for too long. I think it's the hype, I really want to love it because everyone says it's fantastic and I don't want to read it and be disappointed if it isn't for me.


The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

*Shrugs* :)

A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks

I was watching the DVD last week or something and went to buy the book, only to realise I already had the book in Mount TBR, so... yes.

Anyway, what books are you reading right now? What's in your TBR pile (or TBR pile for the next two weeks, if you're like me and your TBR is massive)?

Later.

Friday, 8 October 2010

New Covers: Harry Potter Signature Edition

In November, the Harry Potter Signature Edition covers are being released and so I figured I'd do a post on them. A copy of the Deathly Hallows Signature Edition arrived today and I wasn't expecting it but it's awesome, I wanted to buy a new set of Harry Potter books anyway so I think I'll buy the rest of these ones when they're out.

Anyway, here are the covers:








Yay/Nay? Which is your favourite?

I kind of have a soft spot for the Philosophers Stone cover (the only one I don't like much is the Order of the Phoenix cover, but it might be nicer in person - the Deathly Hallows one is awesome in person) and I really like the simple design and the clean look that the white background gives. :)

I kind of have the urge to reread the entire series, I need to take a week an just do that sometime but I'm not allowing myself to reread books until I deal with Mount TBR. But, at least I have the Deathly Hallows movies to get my Harry Potter fix (speaking of, are you excited for part one? Or dreading it incase they screw it up?).

Oh, and, did you see J K Rowling on Oprah? She is such a brilliant person -- like, even ignoring the fact that she wrote Harry Potter (which pretty much makes her a complete legend anyway), just the way she talks... it's so, well, inspiring. It's kind of like she has life figured out and doesn't even realise it. She's one person that I would love to meet and at the same time, I know I'd probably lose the ability to even talk coherently in her presence (and that is saying something, because I'm not into putting someone on a pedestal just because they're famous, I wouldn't even get like that with my favourite actors or musicians - but with J K Rowling, I would. And it's not because she's famous -- she's just awesome).

...I'll stop my vergin-on-fangirl rambling now.

Later.

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