Thursday, 26 May 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger
by Alexandra Bracken


Summary: In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.
This is one of those books that I really, really enjoyed but I don't have a whole lot to say about it -- which is the most frustrating to try and review to be honest.

It wasn't all smooth sailing, I had a bit of a rocky start with the book and had to put it down a bunch of times. It was never because it was particularly bad, it just had a tendency to drag a bit (or at least, it felt like it did because the chapters were really long and sometimes the characters thoughts would drone on a bit) -- so in the beginning, it bored me. Or frustrated me because it always felt like it was on the edge of being great but was taking forever to get there...if that makes sense?

After the first third/half of the book though, it really started to hook me and pick up the pace. I loved Nicholas and Etta and their relationship -- that was probably my favourite part of the book. Especially because I was hooked on both their POV's, both of their characters, normally with dual narration I latch onto just one and then feel like I'm dragging through the other but I loved them both equally in this.

And the plot... Time travel stories are very, very hit or miss for me. This one, I'll say it was mostly a hit. It was like an odd mix of the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Geir and The Girl From Everywhere -- I loved it as much as I loved the former and I think it was executed much better than the latter.

That's all I have to say about the book really. I enjoyed it a lot (although I was so annoyed by the ending -- WHY with the cliff hangers?! I need the sequel like yesterday). I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5.

Later.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Saying Goodbye

In 2009, Lanna and I were friends on the Twilight IMDb board. We spent more time talking about music and books than Twilight itself, and she invited me to join this new project she had. It'd be a bunch of us, just posting reviews of books whenever we felt like it. I posted one or two reviews, but I didn't fully understand the appeal.

By the end of November that year, things had changed. I was about to win NaNoWriMo. I had to leave the Twilight fanfic community I had found because I may have allowed them to believe I was in college instead of the barely-in-high-school age I was. I was lonely and sad and then I found book bloggers while procrastinating writing. I had just turned 15 and here was this whole world of people talking about teen books. The kind of books I devoured faster than I could get new ones. Teens and adults sharing thoughts on books they loved and getting free books in the mail in advance and giving away books and it seemed kind of magical to me. I came to Lanna and asked about making the blog she'd invited me too a bit more professional and she was on board.

In December 2009, we became serious about Bloggers[Heart]Books. It was really just the two of us sharing thoughts on whatever books we could get our hands on. I'd found my people and I didn't have to mislead anyone about anything and I couldn't be happier about it.

A year and a half later, I was 16 and thinking about college. I had to decide where I was going to apply and where I wanted to visit, but the easiest way to figure that out was to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and work from there. But what did I want to do with my life? What did I love? What made me happy?

It took me a couple of days, but suddenly the thought hit me, "If only I could get paid to promote books." Then I realized people do get paid to promote books. I worked with those people. Making and editing and promoting books were real jobs held by real people that had that as a profession. And that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to work in publishing. It was tremendously relieving to have an idea of what I wanted to do with my life, but on the other hand, it put a deadline on how long I could blog; some people make blogging while working in publishing work, but I knew it wasn't going to work for me. I had until I had a real job in publishing to blog.

I went away to college and my life changed. I started meeting the people I'd only spoken to on the computer in real life. I was going out more, being more social, going to book events. I started freelance editing. I got three different internships in publishing. I made more friends. I picked up more and more projects and side pieces like #quietYA and writing at YA Interrobang and planning Blogbound Con. I went abroad for a semester. Blogging made me happy, but not in the same way. I didn't have as much of a drive and when it did, it kind of came and went, depending on what else was going on in my life at the time. If I had lots of down time, or I was trying to procrastinate, blogging seemed great. Otherwise, it seemed like a chore. But I always came back around, so it continued being worth it.

I also carried this fear with me that if I left blogging before I had a position in publishing, I'd lose everything. The friendships I have and the options I have and - I'll admit it because I'm frequently low on funds - the access to books I have. (Libraries are great, but my libraries aren't particularly great when it comes to YA, even when I request.) It felt like there was so much at risk if I left blogging.

Time has given me perspective. My friends probably won't disappear. I have enough books on my TBR to last me at least 2 years. And my resume speaks for itself, far more than blogging does. 

But I kept asking myself over the years, "Why do I blog?" The answers were always similar. For the love of books; to spread the word about the books I want people to read; to make my voice heard. But over the years it's evolved more and more into helping other people. I don't just want my voice out there. I want to get books into the hands of people who need them. I want people to find the book that will change their life. I want people to read the books I love, but selfishly, so that author will get to write more books. My goals for blogging had changed and while blogging still accomplished these things, I have found other ways that are more effective than this blog is for accomplishing those goals.

So a week ago when I came up with an idea for a rec list I wanted to make and my first thought was to pitch it as a YA Interrobang piece, I knew that my love for blogging and posting here wasn't coming back. Originally, I thought I had until I had a job, or at least until I graduated college. But I'm two weeks away from graduation and the idea of acting like I'm still in this gives me so much anxiety. None of this is aided by the issues that seem to be non-stop in the blogging community lately. I can't do it. I couldn't even wait until I could really talk with Lanna or write this post to start casually tossing out there on twitter that I was done. It was time and now that it was time, I needed to let go.

But Bloggers[Heart]Books will continue through Lanna. She's honestly carried this blog so many times, especially during my college years, when I've been in a constant struggle mentally and physically. And I know she's always there for me, even as we've talked less and less now that we don't need collaborate on the blog as much. 

And I will continue being a part of the book community. I will continue to work on #quietYA and the tumblr and ways I can grow that and make it more effective. I will continue to blog for YA Interrobang whenever Nicole will have me. I will continue to be a ranty brat who posts a lot of selfies on twitter. I will continue to Instagram lots of pictures of books (and my cats). I will be job hunting to try and find my spot in publishing. And I will try to pick up other projects - maybe focus more on writing fiction or my freelance editing or maybe something entirely new. But it's time for me to hang up my hat with Bloggers[Heart]Books, over 7 years after I posted my first review.

Thank you all for your love and support and kindness over the years. Thank you for listening to a teen who had no idea what she was doing. Thank you for helping me find what I love. Thank you for being the people I needed but couldn't find in the halls of my schools. 

--Julie

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Addicted to You by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Addicted to You
by Krista and Becca Ritchie


Summary: No one would suspect shy Lily Calloway’s biggest secret. While everyone is dancing at college bars, Lily stays in the bathroom. To get laid. Her compulsion leads her to one-night stands, steamy hookups and events she shamefully regrets. The only person who knows her secret happens to have one of his own.

Loren Hale’s best friend is his bottle of bourbon. Lily comes at a close second. For three years, they’ve pretended to be in a real relationship, hiding their addictions from their families. They’ve mastered the art of concealing flasks and random guys that filter in and out of their apartment.

But as they sink beneath the weight of their addictions, they cling harder to their destructive relationship and wonder if a life together, for real, is better than a lie. Strangers and family begin to infiltrate their guarded lives, and with new challenges, they realize they may not just be addicted to alcohol and sex.

Their real vice may be each other.
I'm not really sure how I feel about this book to be honest. I was sort of intrigued by the premise for a long time but only decided to read it after seeing people on tumblr gushing about the series and...well, I didn't love it.

I don't know enough about sex addiction to say whether this was an accurate or respectful portrayal or not, but the alcoholism? That I'm more familiar with and I just... I didn't like reading about it the way it was written here.

And it's not even because it's necessarily inaccurate (although, for the majority of alcoholics it definitely is because they don't usually have rich families or trust funds to pay for their habits and they have a lot more to lose financially and personally, and they usually don't have drivers to taxi them around so they won't end up driving drunk)... something about it was just off for me.

Maybe it's because I went into the book wanting to enjoy the romance but I found it so hard to root for them as a couple when it was so tainted by the addiction stuff -- more so from Lily's POV. Seeing someone you love slowly but surely drinking themselves to death? It's really, really difficult but she seemed to care more about not being a hypocrite than she did about his life and health even though their addictions are so different. It seemed at times like she thought it made them equal.

I love angsty romances when they're done well but this just didn't work for me. The romance in this was more toxic than anything else...and it ended before it could show it was anything more than that.

At parts, it felt like it was almost romanticizing their addictions -- not so much the addictions themselves but kind of "look at these two, they're so messed up, they understand each other so well, aren't they perfect for each other?" and I didn't like that...but that might just be how I'm interpreting it (although, based on most of the fan art I've seen, other readers seem to have read it that way too, the only difference is they liked it).

I didn't hate reading it, but I finished the book and felt kind of annoyed with the way it ended because it meant I'd have to read a sequel to find out how it all plays out. I mean, on one hand, yes I do want to know what happens but on the other...I shouldn't be feeling annoyed by the fact I can't just be done with this story and these characters. Normally, if I'm into a book, I want more of the characters.

Maybe it is just down to the fact that there's an alcoholic in my family and I've seen and been affected by the damage it can do, know the pain it can cause. So I couldn't read the book without my messy emotions about that being projected onto the story and I couldn't enjoy a story where that addiction is being used as a plot device (because it never seemed like it was one of those books that sets out to raise awareness or respectfully tackle the subject matter, it really did just feel like it was written because it made for a more interesting story).

I'd rate the book 2 stars out of 5. It wasn't a bad book really, just wasn't for me. Maybe the authors' other books will work more for me without all the addiction stuff.

Later.

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