Saturday, 31 July 2010

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

[UK ARC, won from Wondrous Reads]

Raised by Wolves
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

UK Release Date (it's already released in the US): September 2010

Summary: Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

So... I've literally been staring at this screen for about an hour trying to figure out what to write in this review (after spending the whole day trying to think of what to write).

Basically, the book seems to have left me speechless... as the Queen of Rambling About Anything and Everything, that is seriously impressive and not an easy thing to do.

It's hard to pin point exactly what it was I loved so much about the book -- maybe because I loved everything. The plot was great, the characters were fantastic (and the relationships between certain characters made my heart melt), the writing was brillaint and just... it was all fantastic -- basically, it ticked every box that marks a book as awesome.

When I was on the last chapter, I wanted to stop reading because I didn't want it to end and I didn't want to wait till next year for the sequel (but I couldn't stop because it was so addictive, I literally stayed up till 4am reading the book, even though I was beyond tired and I'm sure my eyes were contemplating jumping out of my head in protest to escape the strain I was putting on them -- well, you know, if eyes were capable of contemplating).

The relationships between the characters in the books was probably my favourite part, whether it was romantic (Dear Santa, can Chase be real please? -- Kthnxbai!) or sibling (Kaitlin/Bryn made me aww out loud multiple times) or parental (I loved Ali and even Callum, although he had his asshat moments) or friendship (Devon and Lake were epic)... they were all done so well and weirdly realistically given the fact that the book was about werewolves.

The werewolf aspect was great -- I'm not the biggest werewolf fan, there have been a couple of werewolf books that I've read and loved but I don't go out of my way to read them, but this one, as soon as Robyn Schneider (a.k.a. Violet Haberdasher, author of Knightley Academy) mentioned the book in one of her BlogTV shows I knew I had to read it and it didn't disappoint. It's pretty much my favourite werewolf novel that I've ever read.

Beyond that, it also makes the top ten in my lists of favourite books ever, favourite book series, favourite books of the year and favourite supernatural books (I like lists, sue me).

To be honest, that's all I can force my brain to say about it, words don't seem to want to co-operate with my love of the book.

You should all go read it... while I go plot a way to not have to wait till Summer 2011 to read the sequel (I'm thinking maybe I could sell my soul? Or my brother? although, really, I think if I traded my brother for the book, I'd totally be getting the better end of the deal). =P

Later.

P.s. Trufax:

Lanna[lovely]Pidge - Art is in the agony. says:
Why is it that the good books are harder to review? *facepalm*

Julie says:
Because good reviews tend to sound like a formula or an incoherent mess

Incoherent mess? Check!

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin

The Lighter Side of Life and Death
C.K. Kelly Martin

Acclaimed YA author C. K. Kelly Martin offers a sexy, soulful story of one confused boy, two girls, and all the complications that ensue in this romantic feel-good love story that celebrates friendship, first love, first lust, and second chances. Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He's just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden. Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What's a guy to do? Well, if you're Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he's imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason's living in a whole new world.


So, here's where you guys start to see that I don't love and gush over ever book I read.

Honestly, I forced myself through this book. I was ready to give up after 50 pages, and again after 100. But I wanted to finish this and review it for you guys.

Mason was so whiny. His life sucked. Everything sucked. He probably should've just killed himself to end it all.

The book itself was fairly boring too. Nothing honestly happened. On top of that it was predictable and the main characters seemed to have every cliche possible shoved onto them. Cliches are cliches for a reason and you know, in small doses they're fine. But when you shove every possible one in, I cannot stand it.

The only redeeming parts of this novel? Colette was pretty awesome. I liked her, looked forward to scenes she would be in. She made me push in through. And then there were quite a few mentions about theater in the novel, and that was the only time Mason wouldn't whine. That was pretty nice.

If this is your kind of novel, then go for it. But this was just so not for me.

--Julie

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Becoming Chloe
Catherine Ryan Hyde

Meet Jordy. He’s on his own in New York City. Nobody to depend on; nobody depending on him. And it’s been working fine.

Until this girl comes along. She’s 18 and blond and pretty–her world should be perfect. But she’s seen things no one should ever see in their whole life–the kind of things that break a person. She doesn’t seem broken, though. She seems . . . innocent. Like she doesn’t know a whole lot. Only sometimes she does.

The one thing she knows for sure is that the world is an ugly place. Now her life may depend on Jordy proving her wrong. So they hit the road to discover the truth–and there’s no going back from what they find out.

This deeply felt, redemptive novel reveals both the dark corners and hidden joys of life’s journey–and the remarkable resilience of the human soul.


The beginning of the novel is a BAM kind of beginning. I was sucked in immediately, enthralled in Chloe's tragic introduction.

The whole novel was thought provoking and had me questioning life for a while after reading. Chloe and Jordy have this insane journey with so much about life and death and existing vs. living. It was a way more extreme journey than I had expected.

I was struck by the beauty of my own home, the country I live in. I never really thought of it as beautiful so much as...natural. That was a welcome shock.

The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the open ending. I didn't have this full sense of closure. And I didn't really see this true climax in the novel, either. I think of a climax as a mountain but in this novel we were just going over a bunch of hills, I guess.

But this was really good and I enjoyed it. A nice, short read that I enjoyed much more than I thought I would.

--Julie

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (33)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Breaking the Spine.


Halo
Alexandra Adornetto
[August 31, 2010]
Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

So, I tried not to be interested in this since it wasn't that fascinating to me. But the cover pulls me back in EVERY time. So, yeah. Need this.

Grace
Elizabeth Scott
[September 16, 2010]
A fable of a terrifying near future by critically acclaimed author Elizabeth Scott.

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

Told in spare, powerful prose, this tale of a dystopian near future will haunt readers long after they've reached the final page.


I love dystopians and this just sounds phenomenal. I've never read an Elizabeth Scott book, but I have talked to her before and she's SO amazingly sweet! So, I think this will be my intro to her books.
Freefall
Mindi Scott
[October 5, 2010]
How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the fir
st to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.


Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .


Doesn't this just sound amazing? Pair that with an awesome cover and an amazingly nice author, of COURSE I want to read it!

So, what are YOU all waiting on this week?

--Julie

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

[Important note: when I talk about incest in this review, I'm referring only to consensual incest between two people over the legal age of consent -- just felt I should clarify that.]

Forbidden
by Tabitha Suzuma


Summary: She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But ...They are brother and sister.

Warning, bad metaphor comin' up: Reading this book felt kind of like knowing a train was going to crash but getting on it anyway for the thrill of the journey.

Basically, the book was fantastic but it's one of the saddest, most heartbreaking books I've ever read -- Romeo and Juliet have nothing on Lochan and Maya, in this book the love they had for each other felt so real that it almost jumped off the page and it was the true definition of forbidden.

"At the end of the day it's about how much you can bear, how much you can endure. Being together, we harm nobody; being apart, we exstinguish ourselves." -- Page 207

Whenever I watch movies like Titanic, there's always this part of me that is hoping with everything in me that the story will end differently -- of course, that never happens. It can never happen.

This book was my Titanic, I knew it wasn't going to end well from the very first page (because these stories rarely do) but I got so attached to the characters that I was mentally pleading with the author to make things different for them... but of course, the book is already written and the characters fates are already set in stone.

The book was really emotionally draining -- I absolutely adored Lochan and I could really relate to his characters social anxiety, I wanted so badly to take his pain away, that's how real he became to me. All of the characters were very real and their lives are realistic: some unfortunate people in the world really do live like that. Sad, but true. (Their parents made me so beyond angry and I think it's the fact that there are parents in the world really like that, that made me react so strongly to it.)

I'm not sure if I'm glad I read this book or not, it's one of those ones that has gotten under my skin and it's going to stick with me for a really long time... which wouldn't be a bad thing, except it's so sad, thinking about the story hurts. It managed to really make me think about the whole issue of incest in a way that I never have before.

I mean, I've said before that I have this warped fascination with reading stories about it because it's like the ultimate forbidden romance, but this book really made me think about where I stand on the issue in real life.

It made me realise that my "love is love" motto that I apply to things like gay marriage should also apply to this as well. It's terrible that we live in a world where society can tell us who we should or shouldn't love -- or even throw us in jail for it.

Not wanting them to have kids thing is completely justified because of the health risks to the children,* but just stopping them from being together? They're not hurting anyone, it should not be a crime -- people don't have to like it or approve of it, but that doesn't mean they should have the right to control it either.

Sorry, getting a bit carried away. But yeah, the book is really brilliant... I mean, it left me feeling like my emotions had been put through a shredder, but it was so well written with characters you can't help but latch onto and it really makes you think.

If you're grossed out by stories about incest, I still suggest you give this book a chance, maybe it'll change your perspective on the issue. Most people can't view the issue in an objective way, they can't get past the feelings they have for their own relatives to be open minded enough to accept the fact that some people can feel anything different towards a member of their family.

I guess that's all I can say.

Oh, except: please be warned that this book isn't one of those YA books that sugar coats things because the author/publisher doesn't think teens are mature enough to handle reading about sex or people swearing... when I said the book is realistic, I meant it (and that is just one more thing that makes it so fantastic).

Later.

*I'm not 100% sure on the statistics when it comes to birth defects in children of siblings. If it is a high risk, then I think it's selfish to have a child under those circumstances when there are other options like adoption or sperm/egg donors--they could still be parents, I don't think that right should be taken away. (I had said not "allowing" them to have children before, when I really meant not wanting them to have children).

p.s. Rating systems for books, yay or nay? When I write certain reviews, like this one, I always feel like I'm being kind of unclear of how positive/negative my opinion of it was, I think maybe ratings might help (this book is definitely 5/5 stars, for the record). But yeah, do you like ratings?

Re-create a Cover Contest

So I was bored and in the mood to play on photoshop so I figured I'd enter Princess Bookie's re-create a cover contest just for fun.

Cover we had to re-create:



Annnd my terrible attempt (colours aside, it's not much like the original *fails*):


And stock image credit (because I never enter these contests with anything other than stock photos):

http://faestock.deviantart.com

http://ravenarcana.deviantart.com
http://capoodra-stockimages.deviantart.com/

Later.

Monday, 26 July 2010

An Interview (& Contest) with Michelle Zink

Today, while I frantically work to pack and get music on my iPod and generally spaz about being disconnected from the world for a week, Michelle is kind enough to stop by AND offer a giveaway!

Michelle is the author of the popular Prophecy of the Sisters and the upcoming sequel, Guardian of the Gate.

What is your definition of love? Lanna and I have asked several different authors this question and just love seeing all the unique responses. No two answers have been the same.

For me, love means commitment. It means loving that person unconditionally, complete with all their flaws and failings. It's just that simple.

What are five books you would recommend, including unreleased books? Or just your five favorite books if that's easier?

Oh, yay! I get FIVE! Usually I only get one, which is just impossible. Anyway, my five would be White Oleander by Janet Fitch, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Fingersmith and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, and The Shining by Stephen King.


What is one book you wish you could have written?

Oh, see? Now you did to me! One?! Okay, I'll choose The Vampire Chronicles in its entirety by Anne Rice. What an epic journey that series is, and since it's one story broken into several books, I'll just count it as one. :D

Lanna and I are both music junkies, so I have to ask something involving music! If you had to make a soundtrack for your own life, what songs would be on it?

Wow... great question! City of Blinding Lights by U2, A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay, The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars, Firestarter by Jimmy Eat World, Sowing Season and You Stole by Brand New (and so many more by this amazing band).

Those are some amazing bands! And by saying you love Brand New, I'm sure one of my best friends would LOVE you (Note from Lanna: I adore all of those bands/songs!).

How does it feel to have a book out there that so many people love completely?


Aw! You're sweet! It's always gratifying to hear from the people who just connect with the book. The people who say they couldn't put it down, couldn't stop thinking about it, and have re-read it (sometimes several times) in anticipation of the release of the sequel, Guardian of the Gate, on August 1st. The books I read as a teen and young adult meant so much to me. They really became a part of my soul, and I'm so honored to pay that forward by contributing something to the literary community and to all the young readers out there who, like I did, live for the stories they read.

You have such a gorgeous book trailer, so I have to wonder how you would feel about having a full length movie for Prophecy of the Sisters?

I'm a major film nut! LOVE movies! I didn't write Prophecy to be a movie, but I would love to see one made under the right conditions. I do have a film agent fielding film inquiries, but it's super important to me that if it gets made, it gates made by someone whose enthusiasm and love for the project matches my own. There are a lot of things to consider when selling film rights, and I want to make sure to consider them all very carefully.

How do you feel knowing that your second book baby will be out for the world to see soon?

I'm excited and scared. This time around, there are a lot of Prophecy fans out there, and I so want to please them and give them a sequel worthy of their time and attention. Buying the next book is a show of trust in me and my work, and I don't take that lightly. I guess I just want them to love it as much as I do! All that said, I've said many times that when I write a book I feel more like I'm channeling the story than creating it. It just sort of... flows out of me, and in this way, I feel like the story really does exist somewhere just the way it is. I've told this story as it came to me and at every turn have stayed true to it. I guess all I can say now is, I hope you like it

Isn't she the sweetest?

And not only that, BUT Michelle offered up a SIGNED copy of Prophecy of the Sisters in paperback for ONE lucky follower! This contest is for our FORMER FOLLOWERS ONLY. If you aren't following us at 11 AM EST today, you cannot enter. I'm not going to do this often, but since this is such an epic prize, I wanna reward all of our followers. :)
All you have to do is fill out THIS form:


Contest ends on August 6 because I'll be away that week and get back the 7. I'll figure out who the winner is and put it on my IMM post! The winner will have 48 hours to email me.

Good luck, and know how jealous I am!

--Julie

Sunday, 25 July 2010

In My Mailbox (30)

25In My Mailbox is a meme started by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

So, Sunday morning/afternoon, about 2 hours after last week's IMM went up...I bought another book. Well, my parents did this time, but whatever. And then it went from there...

I did another vlog this week. I did a few practice ones during the week on various topics requested on twitter to figure out lighting and height and cameras and blah blah blah. So...I hope this is better?



Bought:
Shiver by Maggie Stievater
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Everlasting by Angie Frazier
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Won:
Vladimir Tod goodies (magnets, key chains, stickers, bag, business cards and sweatshirt)

Gifted:
Sea bookmarks, Whisper bookmark, Angel Star bookmark, The Thirteenth Chime business card
Infinite Days post cards and dried lavender
We Hear the Dead bookmarks and post cards

And yeah. That's it. How bout you guys?

--Julie

Lanna jumping in here:

Bought:

Vampire Knight Volume 1 by Matsuri Hino
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Later.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Troy High by Shana Norris

Troy High
by Shana Norris
Summary: Homer’s Iliad, the classic tale of love and revenge, is shrewdly retold for teens in Troy High.

Narrated by Cassie, a shy outsider at Troy High, the story follows the Trojans and Spartans as they declare war on the football field.

After the beautiful Elena—who used to be the captain of the Spartan cheerleaders—transfers to Troy High and falls madly in love with Cassie’s brother Perry, the Spartans vow that the annual homecoming game will never be forgotten. Off the football field, an escalating prank war fuels tensions between the schools.


The stakes are raised when Cassie is forced to choose between the boy she loves (a Spartan) and loyalty to her family and school. Troy High will seduce readers with its cast of mythic proportions.

This book was... good. Just good; not great or fantastic or awesome. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

Really, I think it had the potential to be really great but something about it just fell flat -- I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters, the plot was just... meh. Kind of predictable, none of the pranks shocked or surprised me and some of them probably should have been funny but they just weren't.

The book was entertaining, fast paced and pretty short (don't let the size of the book fool you, the font is pretty big) - I would recommend it, if you just want something light and fun to read or if you're into the whole Helen of Troy thing but don't go into it expecting some epic romance or tragedy, the characters come across as shallow and their personalities are really flat.

I did like the Greg and Cassie relationship but although that was there, it felt rushed and there wasn't a lot of it and the conflict felt forced and unrealistic. Also, both of their characters kind of annoyed me -- they're both immature and do really stupid things... which is fair enough really, they're not supposed to be perfect, it was just really irritating because it comes across that we're supposed to think that they're different; that they see beyond the stupid rivalry, that they're mature and smart and that their friendship and love for each other is this strong bond... but it's like we're told that we're supposed to see one thing but we're shown something different entirely.

I don't like giving negative reviews, I honestly did like this book -- it's just that, although it was enjoyable to read at the time, it was forgettable and left no impression on me at all (beyond thinking about what to write in this review).

The sign of a great book is when I turn the last page and I feel sad because the story is over or I at least feel something and it leaves a lingering impression on me that has me thinking of the story for the rest of the day (or longer, depending on how good the book was). With this book, when I finished the last page I literally didn't feel anything, I just put it up on my Read Shelf and walked away without a second thought about the story.

I read the book because I wanted something lighter after reading The Sky is Everywhere, so the book served it's purpose in that sense. I guess that's all I can say about it really... don't let my review put you off reading it, you might have a completely different opinion from me and even if you don't, the book is still entertaining.

Later.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Cover Variations (2): Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

...Oh hush!

Regardless of what people think about the book, I actually like the main cover - back before it was insanely popular, back before the movie and Twihards and fangirls and Team Edward's and Team Jacob's, the cover was what made me buy this book. It kept popping up on my Amazon recommendations and I liked the cover so I thought "Meh, okay then." and bought it.

Here are the covers of Twilight (note: most of these were found on the authors website):

Of course, everyone, whether they've read the book or not will be familiar with this one:


This one is the original UK cover... it had potential, but I think bad editing ruined it and made it just plain weird:



Annnnd then we have the movie tie-in *facepalm* - now, I'm cool with some movie/TV show tie-ins for books, but I don't like the Twilight ones. Mostly because the actors are not who I picture at all (especially Kristen) and whoever edited the pictures seems to be having a bit too much fun playing on Photoshop, but anyway:



This is one of the Japanese covers, the books were split into a bunch of books, I think over there so I won't show all of the Japanese covers but you can check some of them out here:


And here are some international covers (from left to right, starting from the top row; Denmark, Germany, Germany, The Netherlands, The Czech Republic, Thailand, China, Russia, Korea, Korea, Norway):


And these two are two of my favourites (although the second doesn't really fit the book seeing as Bella isn't blonde, but the art is gorgeous), another Korean cover and Indonesia:



So, regardless of your opinions of Twilight, do you like the covers? Which do you like best?

Later.

CSN Giveaway Winner

And the winner is....



Bianca!

Congrats Bianca! I've already emailed you your gift card!

Thanks everyone that entered! We have another contest going up on Monday that is followers only, as a way to thank all of you! So be on the look out for that!

--Julie

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Yipee! It's my first review for a book I got for review!

Infinite Days
Rebecca Maizel

[August 3, 2010]

When Lenah Beaudonte, a 500-year-old vampire queen, wakes up a human teenager at an ultra-cliquey prep school, she must choose between embracing the humanity she’s always craved and saving her new friends from her vicious coven. The first in a sizzling new YA series.

Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?


When I started reading this, I wasn't overly impressed. Then I realized I'd been sitting in my bathroom for two hours (And other bathroom readers will know it's really not comfortable. I just like the lack of distractions) and was half way through the book. So obviously, there was something there about this book.

I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. How would things fold out with a certain boy, when her clan was going to come, when she'd be fully human, and how they would treat her.

I got so much more than I though I would get with this.

The love interest in this novel is so ridiculously awesome! At first he's a jerk but by the end...he made my heart melt by the end.

Then Lenah herself was so strong and brave and I felt for her. I loved reading her thoughts and how she felt. All her flashbacks were so fun to read too.

I cried at the end. Pretty much, if I cry, the novel is an instant favorite. Crying means I feel an emotional attachment to the characters, that something actually happened in the novel and that I can't believe that happened. Considering the headache I get after crying, it's not something I like doing often. But for an amazing book, it's always worth it.

I'm dying for the sequel, though! It's the blessing and the curse of advanced copies in a series.

You all should read this book. It's phenomenal, even if the beginning is kind of slow. And it's addicting. And even better, it's releasing in paperback. So it's not even that expensive. Go. Get. It.

--Julie

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
[December 28, 2010]
A contemporary romance set in the City of Light, guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more.

Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.


As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna — and readers — have long awaited?


Doesn't this sound adorable? A few bloggers have been raving about this, too! I so want!


Other Words for Love
Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
[January 11, 2011]
Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari’s relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari’s head with guilty fantasies.

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York—and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari’s family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future. Meanwhile, Summer warns her that what she feels for Blake is just an infatuation. Not real love. But Ari’s world is awash with new colors, filled with a freshness and an excitement she hasn’t felt in years.


When misfortune befalls Blake’s family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?


This just sounds phenomenal, honestly. And yes, the 2011 books are going to become more frequent. ;)

--Julie

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Author Interview: Emma Michaels

Emma Michaels is a blogger and also the author of the soon-to-be released book, Thirteenth Chime:

Summary: Destiny has finally found the life that she has always wanted.

She is about to finish college, has a fiancé that loves her, and a great summer on the West Coast planned with her friend, Stephanie.

But her world is turned upside down when an antique clock mysteriously chimes thirteen times and someone attacks them, sending Stephanie and her mother to the hospital.

Alone, and without any help from the police, Destiny has no choice but to turn to the one man she had left behind a year ago - her ex-boyfriend, David.

Together, they must solve the riddle of the thirteenth chime before the clock strikes thirteen again.

Yet as they face their own past and hearts, a trap over half a century old is waiting for them to become its prey. For revenge, fifty years is never too long…

If you could be a part of any fictional world, which would you choose and why?

There are so many amazing ones! I would love to be a gifted one in one of Tamora Pierces novels, a wizard in Harry Potter or a (good) witch in Beautiful Creatures. There are just so many amazing options it is hard to choose!

As a writer, do you participate in any of the writing months (NaNoWriMo, JulNoWriMo, Script Frenzy etc.) and will you be doing NaNoWriMo in November?

Actually no, normally my writing isn't something I can plan out in that way. It tends to disrupt my schedule which makes it much harder for me. I try to just write with my heart each and everyday.

What was the first story you remember writing, can you tell us anything about it?

I actually do remember it very well. The first story I honestly started writing I had called 'The Rose Warrior' and it was about a young girl who lived in a dystopia/ mid-evil realm and was the daughter of a duke. She had played with the prince as a child and one day was forbidden to see him because he had told his tutor that he loved her.

They had been kept apart and the story was about what happened when they met again and that while they had both changed it was in ways that somehow made them even more perfect for each other, and even further from what each of them should be with. Ahhh... the mind of a eleven year old girl. I may have written before then, but that was my first real try.

If you could only read one book, listen to one song and watch one movie for the rest of your life, which book, movie and song would you choose?

Book, the bible. Not only because of my feelings about it but because I would want a novel that I could continue to study and learn more from with each read. If not a bible then Gray's anatomy by Henry Gray F.R.S. My one song... wow... that is a hard one. I am not sure what but definitely something that I could sing to and that might help keep my spirits up. Only one movie... hmmm... Shinobi (2005) with subtitles. It was just so beautiful and made me cry but it also made you feel like anything was possible as long as you lived through your heart and let your heart lead you to a new era.

Just for fun, would you like it if your book was made into a movie and who could you see playing your main characters?

A) I would love it if "The Thirteenth Chime" could be made into a movie! I have wondered about potential actors and played around with it in my mind. Right now, because of the bond and chemistry between David and Destiny, the only ones I could see playing them are Tom Welling and Kristin Kreuk from their "Smallville" days. The relationship between them matches really well.
Do you listen to music while you write or have a playlist for your book? If you do, which 3 songs are most fitting for the book/characters (or which are your favourites)?

Hmmm... honestly, this is one where there are too many to choose.
What is your definition of love?

Love is when a part of your heart finds a home outside of you. It is when you leave a part of yourself with that person, object or place and from that point on you cant help but feel that connection inside of you, even if you ignore it or don't realize it, you feel it and your heart knows. It is that moment when a cold breeze hits you on a hot day and you don't understand where it came from of what is happening, only how it feels.

What 5 books do you recommend to our blog readers? (Can be old, new, or upcoming books we should look out for.)

I loved some of the other debut novels this year like Fallen and Beautiful Creatures. I love almost any Tamora Pierce novel, most Sharon Shinn novels and Song in the Silence by Elizabeth Kerner.

What is one book you've read and thought, "damn, I wish I had written that"?

I think everyone felt that way about Harry Potter or Twilight but that novel I felt that way about was Tamora Pierce's In the Hand of the Goddess, which is what inspired me to read and write.

If you weren't an author, what would your dream job be? (Logic can be thrown out the window for this one; pirates, ninjas, princesses, president etc. are all acceptible answers.)

A mystical do-gooder. I would just go around trying to help people or I would probably have worked at a Borders or a library because I love being around books.

Thank you so much for having me here and to everyone reading!!! I really appreciate your support!!!

To find out more about The Thirteenth Chime or get in contact with Emma, check out her blog: http://EmmaMichaels.Blogspot.com or her website: www.EmmaMichaels.com or e-mail her at Emma_Michaels@hotmail.com

Later.

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey.

But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two.

Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, with a nearly magical grin. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But the two can't collide without Lennie's world exploding...

This book is probably one of the best I’ve ever read and because of that, this is one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever tried to write because it’s really difficult to put into words exactly what it was I loved about it.

I mean, the writing itself was beyond fantastic and the characters were so amazingly unique and eccentric and real that it made their personalities almost jump off the page and made me wish I could jump into the story just to be there with them, to know them… but I what made me love the book was so much more than that.

I guess I have to take this review to a more personal level, which I don’t really like to do but it’s the best way to explain. My dad died… and that’s different from a sister dying, like in the book, but grief is universal and the pain is the same, missing someone is the same, the guilt at feeling happy while they’re dead is the same -- and pretty much every page of the book described all the emotions I’ve been through perfectly, even though the circumstances of Lennie’s grief were totally different from mine.

Parts of the story, like this part:

“Gram made me go to the doctor, to see if there was something wrong with my heart”

Had me crying so much that I would have to take a break from reading because I went through that too, my mum wanted to see if my dads heart problem was hereditary, and so I was crying for the character and because I knew her pain too -- pretty much the whole book was like that, there was this heaviness in my chest with every page I turned (you know the kind, like this deep sadness and you could cry at any moment) and it was empathy for the character, but it was for me too.

And this quote:

“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other.”

That one paragraph put into words something that I have been trying to come to terms with for years, since he died, and somehow seeing it in writing -- seeing it in someone else’s words -- made it easier to accept and made it finally sink in, I guess.

Although death was a big theme in the book, it was really more about life and love. The characters and their stories and all of their little quirks and habits and imperfections are what really made the book; it breaks your heart with the sadness but heals it with all of the cute and funny and brilliant moments in between.

I could go into specifics with the characters, but I loved Joe and his brothers and Lennie and Sarah and Big and Gram and Toby and even Bailey, although she was in the story in this weird limited way, I loved them all and kind of wish they were all real... there's just too much to say about them.

Sorry… I know this review probably doesn’t make much sense, like I said, it’s difficult to explain why I loved it. When I finished reading, I ended up putting on my ipod and staring at the ceiling for about and hour and then procrastinated for days about what to write in the review and I just figured I’d wing it… but anyway, I really recommend the book.

Oh, and major sign that I love a book, I mess around making bad fan art for it with my limited photoshopping skills:



Later.

P.s. I also really recommend the UK version, the way the book is packaged is gorgeous, from the material (journal-like, right down to the elastic that holds it closed) to the font inside to the random coloured pages of pictures of Lennie’s poems.

Quick Request

Hey guys!

So, you all saw how badly my vlog came out earlier on IMM. I want to do it again next week, but I want to play with lighting and such this week.

Right now, I've planned a Q&A video where you can ask ANYTHING about me and a tour of my Favorites Book Shelf. I want to do more than that, so if you guys have any other suggestions for vlogs, please let me know! I probably won't post them on the blog since we've got enough going on, but they'll be on my youtube.

And if you guys have questions, I need them. I figure I'll do a couple Q&A videos and I need more questions! I'll answer...ALMOST anything, even if it's not book/blog related and if you want to be anonymous, you can put it up on my formspring.

So, spam me with your ideas and your questions. I'll try to do at least one vlog a day for the next week, and maybe even the week after too. If it's fun for me anyway ;)

--Julie

Sunday, 18 July 2010

In My Mailbox (29)

In My Mailbox is a meme started by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.



Bought:

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

I've been wanting to get that for a while, I like the story and I like the movie so...

For Review:

The Poison House by Michael Ford

Sounds quite interesting, next time I'm in a historical fiction mood I'll probably read that one.

Won:

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Technically, I won this a while ago (and probably mentioned it in an IMM at the time), but it just arrived today and made me all dorky-happy. :P

Later.

Julie:
Oh HAI. You may be wondering why Lanna is the poster here. Well, I wasn't GOING to do IMM this week because...I had nothing. Then yesterday I went to the bookstore, came home and had a book in the mail. SO I then had to do one.

Peer pressure is the reason this is in vlog form. Don't judge my hair. Or my unattractiveness. Or my random lispyness. And um...I fail at this and the lighting sucks and you can't understand half of what I say and God I wish I was wearing a turtle neck but...meh. It took over 2 hours to get this thing on youtube, I couldn't just not post it. And if you guys do want another one (for some strange reason) I'll work on the lights and my unattractiveness.



Bought at Barnes and Noble:
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
The Half Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
The Season by Sarah MacLean
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
$40 gift card

Swapped with Harmony at Harmony's Radiant Reads:
Swoon by Nina Malkin
Sea bookmark

Nothing overly exciting (only because you guys don't know how badly I've wanted some of these books) but yeah. :P

Julie

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Split by Swati Avasthi


Split
Swati Avasthi
Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret. At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split — how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.


Split isn't the kind of story I usually read. But I like broadening my horizons from time to time, so I read it. I picked it up around 1 o'clock on Sunday. I like to read in the car and I was going out with my parents. I read half of it. Then Sunday night I finished setting up reviews and everything for the Read-A-Thon. So I read the second half.

This book is powerful. Punched in the gut, feeling the bruises on your face, fighting back tears powerful.

While reading I was fairly good. I didn't cry, I only cringed a few times, and all was well. Now that I've digested and let the book really sink in, I want to cry. I can feel that little ball in my throat that won't go away just thinking about it.

This book reinforces my desire to go into psychology. This book reminds me how important teachers are to kids, even if it's out of the classroom and they aren't your teacher. This book...is not a light summer read.

I don't know if there really are words for this novel. This might very well have been the must intense, thought provoking book I've read since The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie.

Honestly, that's as coherent as this review is going to get. I don't think I have anything else I can say. If you need a thought provoking, powerful, intense read, then this is the go to book.

--Julie

Friday, 16 July 2010

An Interview with Cheryl Herbsman

Today, Cheryl Herbsman is stopping by the blog!

Cheryl is the author of Breathing, which debuted last year and recently released in paperback.

What if the guy who took your breath away was the only one who could help you breathe?

Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels and working at the library. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one — her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and seems uncertain about returning — Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively.


This debut novel has it all — an endearing, funny, hopelessly romantic main character, lots of down-home Southern charm, and a sunny, salty beach setting that will transport you to the Carolina coast.


On with the interview!

How would you define love? Lanna and I ask this of every author and no two answers have been the same.

I think part of the beauty of love is the inability to define it. It's not just one thing. It's this amazing amorphous feeling that's so much bigger than a feeling. It's a soul connection that grows and morphs and changes over time. It's a balm for the spirit. It can be tender or fierce. It's what turns a mother into a wolf or she-bear. It is one of the greatest gifts of life. But what is it? If I had to define it succinctly, I'd call it a soul snuggle :)

Soul snuggle. I like that. :) What five books would you recommend?

This is nearly impossible. How to limit it to five?! Okay, I'll list five, but just know if you asked me tomorrow I'd have five others that are equally worthy!


The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Far From You by Lisa Schroeder
Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

What book do you wish you had written?

I really don't look at books that way. I deeply believe that we each have our own stories to tell. I can't tell your stories the way you would, you can't tell mine the way I would. I try to believe that the stories that come to me do so for a reason and that the same holds true for the ones that don't come to me.

I'm obsessed with music and finding new songs and such, so if you had a soundtrack for your life, what songs would be on it?

Here are a couple that represent different eras of my life:


Hurry Home by Wavelength
Nightswimming by REM
At My Most Beautiful by REM
Defying Gravity from Wicked
Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
Room for the Life by Kate Bush
Push by Sarah McLachlan

How would you feel about a movie based off of Breathing?

Are you kidding? I'd LOVE it!

Is there a song (or songs) that describe, or just really work with, Breathing?

I'd have to say Love Story, A Place In This World, Breathe, and Our Song by Taylor Swift all go really well. Also No Air by Jordan Sparks & Chris Brown


What can you tell about your next novel?

I have a manuscript out on submission right now. I'm hoping for good news soon!

Thanks so much, again, for coming Cheryl!

For more on Cheryl and her books and to keep updated on future books, you can go to her website.

--Julie

CSN Giveaway--CLOSED

That's right, folks. We've been added to the CSN Giveaway Club!

CSN has over 200 stores that sell a variety of things, from a vanity to clothes to bookshelves, desks, and lamps! The perfect accessories for any book reader. ;)

Since I lack the room for a new bookshelf, I want you guys to be able to buy one...or anything else you happen to need! Today we are giving away one $60 gift card! You can put this towards anything on any one of their sites.

This contest IS US/Canada only. Sorry, but that's all they ship to!

Not sure you want to enter? Well first, browse through all of their stores and see what you like. I fell in LOVE with some of the bookcases I saw, but I don't have the room.

Recap:
1 winner
1 $60 gift card
US/Canada
Ends 7/22 at 3 EST/12 PST

To enter, just fill out this form. Being a follower does NOT get you extra entries, I'm just curious. :)



And that's it! I'll stick this into a randomizer and announce the winner next Friday. Good luck everyone!

--Julie

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Old Skool Favourites (5): The Blair Witch Files


Okay... I actually stumbled across this series by accident. Well, sort of.

See, my ex-best friend didn't like to read. But I loved to read. And she had to read a book for English but didn't want to, so after staying at her house, I ended up reading the book for her while she did her make-up in the mirror and other superficial things like that and I told her what the book was about... I don't know if she ever did read it herself, I hope she did, it was really good.

The book was The Blair Witch Files: The Witches Daughter by Cade Merrill and I get such a weird sense of nostalgia whenever I think of it - the song Kiss, Kiss by Holly Valance pops into my head because that is the song that was playing in my friends bedroom as I read and she... make-up'd.

And that is irrelevant, but the books are really good--some more so than others--they're written in such a way that it almost tricks you into believing the stories are real, kind of the way The Blair Witch Project movie did with a lot of people when it first came out.

The idea of the Blair Witch interests me (even if I found the movie horribly boring), although I don't believe it, it's interesting and creeps me out so that aspect of the books was really fun to read about and the individual plots of the books, written like case studies, were really interesting.

My favourites were, of course, The Witches Daughter (first book) and also The Obsession (which pretty much tells a story of how the Blair Witch legend started and I think it's the last in the series) and The Drowning Ghost.

If you like creepy stories or the whole Blair Witch thing you should check these out (even if you didn't like the Blair Witch Project movie, the books only revolve around and flesh out the legend from the movie, it's not nearly as boring - I actually think they were written as if the movie was real and Cade's--the author--cousin was one of the people that went missing and so now he's on this quest to uncover the truth about the witch and what happened to his cousin and each book is meant to be a case study, written like a story, related to the Blair Witch).

There are 8 books in the series:
  1. Blair Witch Files 1 – The Witch's Daughter
  2. Blair Witch Files 2 – The Dark Room
  3. Blair Witch Files 3 – The Drowning Ghost
  4. Blair Witch Files 4 – Blood Nightmare
  5. Blair Witch Files 5 – The Death Card
  6. Blair Witch Files 6 – The Prisoner
  7. Blair Witch Files 7 – The Night Shifters
  8. Blair Witch Files 8 – The Obsession

Later.

Julie's First Read-A-Thon: The Wrap Up

Once Upon A Read-A-Thon

The update posts aren't all that fun. So, I'm shoving all of Wednesday into the Wrap Up Post

Books Read Total: Plain Kate
Crash Test Love
The Lighter Side of Life and Death
Becoming Chloe
Books Left: Clementine
Searching for Pemberley (which I started!)

Still, a lot of reading by my standards and I now have some reviews to write up. Yay!

So, that was my read-a-thon. Pathetic in comparison to some, but considering my brother and...my brother I think I did pretty well. ;)

--Julie

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Breaking the Spine.

Revolution
Jennifer Donnelly

[September 28, 2010]
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.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.


You guys already know I love the French Revolution, don't you? And I LOVED her adult novel, The Tea Rose. Plus this is another gorgeous cover.


Misguided Angel
Melissa de la Cruz
[October 5, 2010]
After inheriting the dark Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler fled to Florence--with her forbidden love, Jack. Now the two of them must embark on the mission Schuyler was destined to complete: to find and protect the seven gates that guard earth from Lucifer, lord of the Silverbloods.

As the Blue Blood enclave weakens yet further, fate leads Schuyler closer to a terrifying crossroads--and a choice that will determine the destiny of all vampires.


Do I need to explain why I'm waiting on this?

So, what are you all waiting on?

--Julie

Julie's First Read-A-Thon: Tuesday

Once Upon A Read-A-Thon

Read: Crash Test Love by ? (I read the first 100 pages. Then gave up)
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
Currently Reading: ??
Books Remaining: Clementine by Sophie Masson
Searching for Pemberly by Mary...?

And yeah.
Crash Test Love? My first 1 star in MONTHS. Could not stand that book. I'll put up a short review since I didn't actually finish it. You guys are getting NEGATIVE reviews soon! You will learn that I don't love every book I read! WOO!
Plain Kate I started ages ago and now I'm finally done and very happy. It's a really good book. Review in August or so.

Today, I ended up babysitting even though I didn't think I was. And same for tomorrow. Not amused at all. My only break this week is on FRIDAY. *annoyed*

That's really it. I'm praying I get SOMETHING in the mail today/tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

--Julie

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