Sunday, 31 July 2011

In My Mailbox 79

Julie:

Won:
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

For Review:

Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia

Gotta say, Glow is one of the softest ARCs I've ever had. And The Poison Diaries is the UK paperback edition, so the cover's a little different than the American edition.

--Julie

Lanna:

For Review:






Books 1-7 in the H.I.V.E series by Mark Walden

There was a bag and t-shirt too, cause we're part of the blog tour for the new book in the series. These sound fun, when I read the summary it reminded me of Ally Carter's books only less girly.

Hartslove by K.M. Grant
Mister Creecher by Christ Priestly
School Blues by Daniel Pennac

Not sure if any of those are my kind of thing, but we'll see.

Oh, and I forgot to add it into the picture, but I also got a paperback copy of The Legacy by Gemma Malley -- I have the hardcover already and the rest of the series that I have is hardcover too so I'll have to find someone to give the paperback to. 

Bought:

I don't have a picture for these ones, so here's a Shelfari print screen:




I think it Stacy from Chapter Chicks who reviewed and recommended this book ages ago and it's been on my wish list ever since but it was always really expensive (hardcover and not published in the UK), so I waited for the price to go down a bit.


Loved the first book, can't wait to read this one. (I think the UK cover and title is different?)


You can blame Jackson Pearce for that one, she mentions them a lot and it made me want to re-read them.

Stalin: A Biography by Robert Service

Books like Between Shades of Gray (amazing) and Doctor Zhivago put me in the mood to read about things like Stalin and the Russian revolution and the Soviet occupation of the Baltic States and all that, so I figured I'd start with this book.

And I think that's all this week. What'd you guys get? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned, what'd you think of them if you have?

Later.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Mini-Review: Royally Crushed by Niki Burnham

Royally Crushed
Niki Burnham
Simon Pulse
[March 22, 2011]

A sweet and sparkly romantic comedy about finding your prince!  
True love isn't only in fairy tales...When Valerie's parents split up and she has to move to a tiny European country called Schwerinborg, she's pretty sure her life is over. That is, until she meets Georg. He's smart, sweet, and unbelievably cute. And even better, he's a prince! But with Georg under so much pressure, and the press watching their every move, Valerie soon discovers dating a prince is not exactly the happily ever after she'd been hoping for. But Georg has swept her off her feet and Valerie's not ready to give up her prince just yet...

Originally, I wasn't going to review this, then I kinda figured, what the heck, why not?

This is a cute, fluffy, light read. It's adorable and sweet and just plain fun. Valerie can be annoying and the story can be predictable, but as long as you're in the mood for that (which I was) and you take it for what it is (which I do), then it's a really enjoyable story. If you need some fluff and you're craving some royals (don't ask why, but sometimes I really just want to read a book with royalty in it), then this is definitely one to pick up this summer!

--Julie

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch
Victoria Schwab
Hyperion Books CH
[August 2, 2011]

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

 These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

This really is a beautiful, enchanting fairytale.
I loved Lexi. She was totally bad ass and smart and brave. She's protective and loving and wants to be obedient but she just can't and just...yes. So much yes.

The writing was captivating. It's addicting and beautiful. I read this in one or two sittings because I just had to know how it ended. Yet at the same time, I never wanted to leave that world.

I loved the romance, too. Lexi and Cole were so adorable and amazing together. It was truly an amazing love story. There was a hint of the forbidden mixed with the "They Don't Care What Anyone Says" love and it was just so perfectly and beautiful.

EVERY THING this summary says about the book is true and every positive thing you've heard is true and I just...adored this book. Please go pre-order it. Or wait until Tuesday and buy it.

--Julie

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Back When You Were Easier To Love: This or That

Today we have Zan from Back When You Were Easier to Love! He's giving us a few of his preferences so you can get to know him better!

Coffee or Soda?  Coffee is the elixir of gods.

Pirates or Ninjas? Neither-- the whole thing is juvenile.  Now ask me about my thoughts on Nietzsche…

Day or Night?  Everything good happens at night

Night In or Night Out? Depends on who I’m in—or out—with.

Summer or Winter? Some people don’t like all the darkness, but I do. 

Nerds or Geeks?  I’d consider myself both. 

Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla is blasé. 

Day Dreaming or Exploring?  Day dreaming is exploring—exploring the world of the mind.  I prefer to explore my mind and the tangible world, as well.

Novels or Poetry?  Poetry says all in but few words.

Cats
or Dogs?   Cats are brilliant.


My cat would definitely agree that she's superior to the dogs!

Thanks for stopping by Zan (and Emily)! 

You can check out Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith now and get to know Zan and the other characters better!

--Julie

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander

Paradise
Jill S. Alexander
Feiwel & Friends
[July 5, 2011]

Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town.

Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.


 This was a pretty average read until the ending.

Paisley was a fun character to read. She was torn but talented and she has problems and she's really just a fantastic, real character. Paradise was also fun. He wasn't fully developed for me, but he was a decent love interest for Paisley and they had pretty good banter and chemistry.

I loved all the band members. The way they worked together, the way they were as individuals. I really pitied one of the characters, but you'll have to read it to figure that out. Paisley's sister, Lacey, was quite the character as well. She really made the story more interesting and twisty and complex.

The plot was interesting. Kind of predictable, but it was a fun read. The writing had me totally hooked and I read it really quickly. It's a perfect summer read.

Until the end.

The end totally changes the novel and it's kind of out of nowhere and it's massive and amazing and just added this extra weight to the novel. It made it more than just a light, summer romance and I loved the fact it could do that.

I just really recommend this. It has a lot of the makings for a light read but it can also be a heavier read and if you love music or you have a dream that seems impossible, you'll get this book. Just...give it a try, whether you like country music or not.

--Julie

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

A Brief History of Montmaray
Michelle Cooper
Knopf Books for Young Readers
[October 13, 2009]

“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings.”

Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.

A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you.
This was very much a so-so book for me.

The characters were all decent characters. Pretty well developed, mostly likeable and easy to relate to. The writing was interesting. It was in a journal format, so a tad different from what I'm used to, but nothing that difficult to get into.

What made this an average read for me was the plot. It's not a long book, but not really short either. Yet nothing really starts happening until the last 50 pages. I was bored and not eager at all to pick it up until I got to those pages, and then I didn't want to put it down. But beyond that, it's just all back story and history of the country and the family and kids running around a broken down castle. It just...wasn't interesting. It seemed like the only point in this book was for the last 50 pages which led to the sequel...which might be more of a companion anyway.

If you really want to read the sequel (which was my motivation for reading this), then I recommend you read this book even though it's tough. But if you're uninterested...try getting it from the library.

--Julie

Monday, 25 July 2011

Personal Demons Book 3 TITLE REVEAL + Giveaway

Today, I'm honored to help Lisa Desrochers reveal the title for the last book in the Personal Demons series. It was formally known as Hellbent, but some higher ups asked her to change it and here it is:


Isn't the title freaking AWESOME? I think it's awesome. It's just so appropriate for the last book in a series. And Andrea Cremer (author of Nightshade&Wolfsbane and Lisa's critique partner) came up with it.

Then there's also the awesome tagline:
What happens when you can't outrun Hell...or trust the ones you love?
I need this book SO FREAKING BADLY.

And now because Lisa is awesome, I have a signed copy of Original Sin to giveaway! Please keep in mind that Original Sin is the SEQUEL, so you should probably make sure you've read/will read/can get a copy of Personal Demons first. My suggestion to you. Trust me, it's a good idea no matter what.


So, share your thoughts on the title and enter the contest. Good luck to all of you!

--Julie

Sunday, 24 July 2011

In My Mailbox (78)

 Julie:


For Review:
Dark Parties by Sara Grant
The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper

...Gifted?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Bought:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater 

Super excited for everything this week! Any opinions? 

And I'll return to IMM as soon as I can, promise.


--Julie

Lanna:


 Shelfari print screen...:





For Review:


August by Bernard Beckett

Really not my kind of book but it could be interesting and the cover is awesome (I think the cover was uploaded upside down to Shelfari? Maybe?).


Bought:


Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Off Magazine Street by Ronald Everett Capps
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers


Off Magazine Street is the book that the movie Love Song for Bobby Long is based on and I love that movie and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was mentioned in the movie and it made me want to read it. Norwegian Wood...it just looked good, there's a movie of that too but I haven't seen it, only the trailer.

Later.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers


Fall For Anything
by Courtney Summers


Summary: When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world?

When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?
I loved this book and I honestly don't really know what to say about it. I don't think it was as good as Some Girls Are, the other book of Courtney's that I've read, because while I liked the story better it just...it didn't hurt as much to read even though it should have (especially considering I can totally relate to the dead dad part).

I liked Eddie a lot, even though she irritated me sometimes and it bothered me that she never properly stood up to Beth. Beth bugged me big time, she was almost cliche in her annoyingness (think wicked step mother cliche only she's not Eddie's step mum). Milo was lovely and Culler was...meh. But in general, I liked the characters (well, maybe not liked, but I liked the way they were written).

The ending of the book....it felt kind of anti-climactic almost or - pointless? I'm not sure how to word what I mean. It was like the book was building up to nothing, the twist in the story didn't really have too much of an impact on me and the parts of the story that I really wanted closure on or for something to be resolved just weren't, they were left hanging (particularly the Milo thing, the story introduces something there that I wish was explored more because that was the most interesting part of the book to me).

When I was reading, I was kind of a wreck reading the first half of the book then I was fine while reading the second half -- and I don't know if that was just me having a bad day while reading the first half or if it was the book, but Courtney Summers really has a talent for writing painful stories.

Basically, the book was really good and I loved it but in comparison to Courtney's other book that I read, it wasn't as good and it felt almost too short...like it could have been longer or that something more should have happened -- which is kind of funny, because that's how Eddie feels, like she needs more, that she's looking for more...maybe that was done intentionally and the story was more realistic because of it but realistic isn't always satisfying to read.

I'll stop with the rambling review now - I have a headache and my thoughts on the book are all scrambled anyway, so I apologize for the craptastic review. =P

Later.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Blankets by Craig Thompson


Blankets
by Craig Thompson


Summary: Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.

This is a graphic novel and I think it’s the first proper graphic novel I’ve ever read. I liked it a lot, but not quite as much as other people seemed to.

I love, love, love the illustrations. Particularly the ones where he was with Raina - that was my favourite part of the book, the story of his first love but that only made up about a third of what the book was about and the other parts are probably why it had less of an impact on me.

A huge part of the book is about religion. About growing up in a small town where religion is a big deal and your parents are very religious and they raise you to be the same. You go to church, you go to a school that teaches the Christian way and you’re taught that being gay is wrong that lust is wrong that perfectly natural things are wrong…that’s the kind of childhood/teenage years that Craig had. And that’s probably why the book didn’t really get under my skin as it did with some people.

I couldn’t relate to that at all. I live in Scotland and the whole religion thing isn’t as…strict here. I never had religion forced down my throat from a young age, that’s not to say I wasn’t educated about religion, I was…but I was allowed to decide for myself. While the pictures were interesting in those parts of the story, a lot of the religious aspects just didn’t click with me at all. But I think if someone is or was Christian or was raised in a town like that or with Christian parents, then the book might do more for them than it did for me.

The other part of the story, with Craig and his younger brother, that was sweet and sad and funny at times - it made me laugh out loud a few times (and “EWWW!” out loud, too). I liked that part, but didn’t love it.

I guess this was one of those books that was just too hyped up. People were telling me how amazing it is and how it’s one of the best books they’ve ever read…and it was really good, just not quite that good. But as far as graphic novels go, if you’ve never read one before, this is a good one to start with.

Later.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wake by Lisa McMann


Wake
by Lisa McMann


Summary: For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant.
I’m not quite sure what to say about this book. I really, really liked it but there’s something about it that just - I’m still on the fence, unable to decide whether I liked it or didn’t like it. I think it was the way it was written.

I loved the story and I loved the characters and the romance in the book, but it was written in a way that was different from most of the books I read and I’m not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing. It’s written in third person and I felt really distanced from the characters because of that and there were a lot of things that I wish had been more detailed or expanded on, but instead they were glossed over in summaries of events or left out completely.

The way it was written wasn’t annoying to read or anything and it made the book one of those fast paced quick reads, it just - it’s like it keeps the reader at a distance so they can’t totally connect to what is going on in the story (and it’s not just the third person thing, it’s the way Lisa writes it…Harry Potter is third person, but I had no trouble with that, it’s just - Lisa keeps it very vague, not much detail, lots of summarizing doing the whole tell instead of show thing).

So yeah, I liked the book a lot and I recommend it…I’m just a little unsure about the writing style, but the plot (although aspects of it were a little "WTF?") and characters are enough to make up for that. I’m not sure whether or not I want to read the sequels though or just pretend the book was a stand alone novel and let it end there for me.

Later.

Comment about the cover: that is the UK edition that I have and I really like it, it's original and different to anything else I've seen...but the publishers choose entirely different covers for the next two books, which is so beyond annoying, and now not only do they not match but the new covers are awful *headdesk* - I hate when publishers do that. UK covers for the sequels are like this.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Book Tour: Love Story

Today we have a guest post from Jennifer Echols, author of many stories, but most recently Love Story. She's here to share her Book Picks from Teen Years. - Julie

I love this question so much, because writers are readers first.

Note: These books are old, because I am too.

Fifteen by Beverly Cleary. Most of Cleary’s novels are for younger readers, but she’s written some fabulous YA. I was so pleased to see that Smart Bitches Trashy Books reviewed The Luckiest Girl recently and gave it an A (VERY hard for an author to do over there: http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/the-luckiest-girl-by-beverly-cleary/). This was one of the books that first started me thinking about being a novelist.

Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice? by Paula Danziger. The other book that made me want to write. All this author’s books are a hoot and a half, but this one in particular was right up my alley, with lots of romantic scenes.

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart. Strictly speaking, this is an adult romantic suspense novel, but it’s about as close as Stewart has come to writing a YA, with the characters on the youngish side of adult. It’s a gorgeous book.


Ransom by Lois Duncan. It used to be called Five Were Missing. My BFF and I would spend the night with each other, stay up late, and talk about how we would rewrite this book starring ourselves and the boys we had crushes on. In other words, we were writing fanfic way before the Internet.

The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin. Fantasy is not my usual bag--romance is--but the romance and the character studies in this book are enough to put it on my list of all-time favorites.

BTW, I get a lot of e-mail from readers saying they have read my books lots of times, and they beg me not to think they’re crazy. I have read every one of these books many, many times. As a reader I do not think you are crazy, and as a writer I consider this a huge compliment.

Some awesome books here! Thanks Jennifer!
--Julie

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves


Bleeding Violet
by Dia Reeves


Summary: Love can be a dangerous thing...

Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.

But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

Well then. This book...yes. Well.



The book was pretty much warped to the max. And I mean that in the very best way -- it was just so wonderfully weird.

It’s one of those books that leaves you thinking, “WTF was this author smoking when she came up with this and where can I get some?”…again, I mean that in the very best way. It’s one of those stories that are just so freaking odd and unusual that it shouldn’t work. But it does. And I can’t quite figure out how Dia Reeves managed to put all this oddness together in a way that made sense, but she did and she is so freaking awesome for being able to do that. Seriously, I want her brain. Or just the imagination part.

Because of how strange the book is, I honestly can’t think of what else to say in this review. I mean, I could tell you how I loved the characters or the writing or their relationships or the plot or the world in the book but…it’d just sound so generic. And generic and anything to do with this book really don’t belong together because the book was the farthest thing from generic, it was one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time and I loved it.

And basically, just…why did I wait so long to read this? I wish I had read it sooner.

And I’m going to shut up now because I can’t think of anything else to say (at least not anything that will make sense to anyone who hasn’t read the book or that won’t spoil it).

Later.

Discussion: Are First Impressions Important? (Of Books/Authors)

Note: this post is quite long, so feel free to just jump down to the discussion questions, they summarize the general topic of the post anyway.

So I’m reading this book right now (which shall remain nameless) and it’s a debut novel and almost two weeks into reading it and I’m still only 100 pages in roughly, I have to pretty much force myself to keep turning the pages because it’s just -- well, lets just say that it’s not making a good first impression on me and leave it at that.

But anyway, this book got me thinking about first impressions and their impact on reading and it made me realise that first impressions are very important to me as far as books are concerned. For example:

Titles: A good title can hook me before I’ve even read the summary or seen the cover, a bad title can put me off reading a book for the longest time.

Looking for Alaska? It had me at the title. I’m not sure why, it just did (and that first impression was correct). Perks of Being a Wallflower, Jellicoe Road, Sloppy Firsts…all those books are ones I put off reading for ages because I wasn’t fond of the titles (or covers) and all three ended up making it onto my favourite books list. But that first impression? It could’ve had me not reading them at all.

Covers: A good cover can make me want a book even if the summary isn’t something I’d normally go for and a bad cover can make me not want to read a book even if it sounds amazing

I already mentioned a few covers I dislike and then there have been times where I’ve bought a book purely based on the cover (sometimes this works for me and I end up loving the book, sometimes not so much). A good cover can be the difference between someone borrowing a book from a library and investing in their own copy.

Summaries: Again, something that creates an impression of the book before it’s even out/before you even read any of the book. A good summary can make even a bad story seem so wonderful that it leaves a reader desperate to get their hands on a book and sometimes the book doesn’t deliver the awesome that the summary promises and then sometimes a good book can have a bad summary.

I’m not a fan of summaries that are too detailed and I’m not a fan of summaries that are too vague and try to seem all mysterious and come across more like a riddle than explaining what a book is about. I like the middle ground. Like the covers and titles, a good summary can hook me and a bad summary can lose me and unless the book has something else drawing me in (author, recommendations, cover or whatever) then chances are I won’t read it.

Those three things? Sometimes they are so badly done. It particularly bugs me when an amazing book is given a title, cover and summary that makes a book seem like frothy cliché chick-lit or something less than what it is, when the book is actually so much better than that (examples: Jessica Darling series, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Sarah Dessen books, Anna and the French Kiss, Vampire Academy series etc.).

I always feel kind of like the publishers are letting the authors down in those cases. It’s like they’re wrapping the book up as something they think people will buy instead of what the books actually are, when, if they paid more attention to readers, they would find that we really appreciate good covers and originality -- we don’t buy those books because of their generic cliché covers, we usually buy them in spite of that.

And I’m going a bit off topic…but titles, covers and summaries are important. They’re the first, first impression that a book makes on a reader (with the exception of what I’m going to mention below), so they should make one that counts.

More first impressions: Authors.

If an author is awesome, I’m more likely to read their books. If an author is awful (which is very, very rare - I’ve seen this happen only about 3 times in all my time blogging), then I really don’t want to read their books and it kind of taints the books of theirs that I may have already read.

Jackson Pearce is brilliant. She’s funny, she’s nice and because of this, I read her books. Now, Sisters Red is one that may have ended up in my TBR pile anyway but I got it when it was out instead of waiting because Jackson is awesome and I read As You Wish (in spite of a title and cover I don’t particularly like) because it was written by her too.

Maureen Johnson? Another author who is just awesome. I didn’t like the first book of hers that I read, 13 Little Blue Envelopes (I’m in the minority in not liking that book), and it put me off reading her books for so long, but then I started reading her blog and saw her vlogs and a live show or two and seriously, that woman is hilarious and lovely and it made me want to love her books and so I’m gave her writing another chance instead of putting her writing style into the “not my cup of tea” category. (Btw, her story in Let it Snow = fantastic and proved that I was right to not let my first impressions put me off and to be influenced by my first impressions of her as a person instead.)

I won’t mention the names of the authors I dislike, but lets just say that I will never read a book that they write. Ever. One of the authors? Her books were on my wish list and were instantly removed once she proved how arrogant and rude and disrespectful to her fans she was. I don’t even read her blog anymore. My view of her as a person poisoned my view of her books because I just can’t get past the fact that she wrote them.

Another first impression: Books.

Ignoring the authors and the covers, if you start reading a book (like the one that got this topic in my head) and it’s really bad in the beginning and it drags out…you’re less likely to like the book or even finish it. And if it’s the first book of the authors that you’ve read? You’re less likely to read anything else by that author (or maybe this is just me).

I have an instant read list. Any author that can totally wow me with the first book of theirs that I read will end up on this list and I will read anything else they write, even if it has an awful cover and it’s not the kind of book that I would usually read. And it’s all because of the lasting first impression made by the first book of theirs that I’ve read.

And sorry, this post is very long and very ramble-y, but I guess - I just never realised how much first impressions (of books, authors, covers, titles, summaries) impacted what I read. Sometimes the judgements are proved wrong, sometimes right…but at the end of the day, there are millions of books in the world that I want to read and there’s no way I’ll ever read them all, so I need to narrow it down somehow. A good first impression? That can be the deciding factor in whether or not a book will be one of the ones I read, so authors and publishers should make sure they get it right.

Basically, the discussion part:

How much do first impressions influence YOUR reading habits? Are you like me, where they’re a big deal? Or are only some of these things important?

Do you judge a book by its cover? Title? Summary?

What about the author, can the impression the author makes on you influence whether or not you’ll read their books?

If the first book you read by an author is good or bad, will that have an impact on whether or not you read their future books?

And I’ll shut up now.



Later.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In My Mailbox 77


For Review:
Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
Paradise by Jill S. Alexander 
Fury by Elizabeth Miles


From Harmony, Because She's Amazing:
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
+lots of swag


Thanks to HarlequinTeen Panel, Stasia Ward Kehoe and B at Penguin, K at Macmillian, D at Simon and Schuster, and Harmony.

So basically this week was epic. I've already read Audition and it was fantastic and now I'm reading Shatter Me because...I need to.  I also got to go see Harry Potter yesterday and I got 4s on my AP tests and baseball games and just...weekend of win. Which is good because next weekend I'm getting teeth pulled and that's...fail.


So, thoughts? What's in your mailbox?


--Julie

Lanna:

It's 6am on Saturday and I've been up all night and I feel sick, so unless I edit the post again before it goes up on Sunday, I guess this is going to be another linkless/pictureless IMM (except for Julie's part), sorry 'bout that.

For review:


Boys for Beginners by Lil Chase (doesn't look like my kinda thing, but I might read it, just to see.)
Wither by Lauren DeStefano (jnblkjbljbdsal!)
Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook by Jason Heller (I'd like to keep Jack Sparrow...yes. And be a pirate.)

Bought:

Slice of Cherry
by Dia Reeves
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Later.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart


The Boyfriend List
by E. Lockhart


Summary: Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, but give her a break—she’s had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days she:

lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list),
lost her best friend (Kim),
lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket),
did something suspicious with a boy (#10),
did something advanced with a boy (#15),
had an argument with a boy (#14),
drank her first beer (someone handed it to her),
got caught by her mom (ag!),
had a panic attack (scary),
lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie),
failed a math test (she’ll make it up),
hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends),
became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!).

But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.
I’m not too sure what I think about this book. I mean…I liked it, E. Lockhart is one of those authors that has a really distinctive way of writing that is pretty realistic and kind of oozes personality so even if I don’t like the story, it’s still not bad because there’s something about the writing that makes it stand out and makes it seems less -- trivial or shallow than it would being written by another author.

I guess my problem with the book is that I should have read it maybe a few years ago. So the problem wasn't so much with the book. Things I would’ve been entertained by when I was younger just - irritate me now. I don’t have much patience for the kind of relationships that go on in a book like this; friends turning on each other, backstabbing, breaking the “Girl Code”, changing boyfriends every other week and being *In Love* when it’s not even close to love….

Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. They totally happen and so it’s realistic -- it’s just not as fun to read about characters being so mind numbingly annoying and naïve now as it used to be when I was younger. Reading about how Ruby was treated by her so-called friends and all that did make me sad for her and hurt to read about but just...the fact that I could empathize with her still didn't make it work for me.

The book was quirky and odd and Ruby was funny and her characters personality really shone through in the way it was written…I just wasn’t too fond of the story itself, the way it revolves around “friendships” that barely counts as friends and boys (and I’m not talking in the way a romance novel would revolve around boys - I’m a sucker for romance novels, it was more…immature than that in this book).

If you like stuff like that or you’re younger or you’re into books like the Georgia Nicholson series and stuff like that, then this kind of book would probably work for you (I think it was Carla/The Crooked Shelf who reviewed this book and that was why I bought it and she loved it so I don't think I'm in the majority opinion in feeling this way). I really did like it, just not enough and I have no intention of reading any more books in the series.

Later.

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce


As You Wish
by Jackson Pearce


Summary: Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can't deny that he's falling for Viola. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.
So, I really liked this book a lot -- it was cute and fast paced, one of those books you can sit down and read really quickly in one sitting. But, it wasn’t much more than that for me, it’s not the kind of book to be read if you’re craving something deep and meaningful or something like that.

There were times when I totally hated the main character…seriously, if I was friends with someone like her, I would’ve screamed at her. On multiple occasions. But then, she had her moments where she was kind of awesome and all of those times when her character frustrated me, well…it made her more realistic because the way she acts sometimes, while it’s annoying, really is the way some girls act (especially at that age, especially when it comes to boys). In the end, our survey basically says: I liked her.

Jinn was adorable and I really liked Lawrence a lot, too. They were what made me like the book the most, I think. The romance in the book was cute, even if it was a little - fast. Almost insta-love-ish. Because really, it only develops over a couple of days but it didn’t feel that way, it felt like longer than that so it didn’t bother me too much.

It’s weird that I like this book so much, because when I was reading it, it didn’t really hook me emotionally at all. Scenes that should make me happy or sad or make me cry or something just - didn’t. My emotions were pretty much just set to *entertained* the entire way through the book…like, it was holding my attention, it was amusing me - but it wasn’t really getting to me, I wasn’t empathizing with the characters or anything so their highs and lows didn’t particularly affect me.

In a way, that kind of makes it the ideal book to read after something that leaves you emotionally drained -- the book I read before this one was one of the ones that had me bawling my eyes out like a little baby and this book kind of recharged me after that.

So yeah, basically I liked the book a lot. It’s a cute, light read and I recommend you read it (just - not if you’re expecting to be moved to tears or clutching your sides from laughing so hard).

Later.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Good-bye, Old Friend


For me it started Christmas 2001. My sister was a senior in high school, I was in second grade and 7 for only a month. September 11 still hung over our heads, a constant threat of things to come. I'm also pretty sure this was the Christmas we lost power. A blizzard was raging outside, so my dad had to go to work. Just me, my mom, my sister and a fireplace for warmth.

But before any of that happened, we swapped presents. My sister got me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Told me she'd heard a lot of people loved it, it was gonna be a huge thing and the first movie had just been released. My mom and I would still read books together, so she thought it'd be a good book for us to read. I wasn't interested, never having been interested in books like it. I thanked her and put it on my bookshelf.

Months pass and I'm looking for a new book to read with my mom. I pull out the little paperback I'd gotten at Christmas and my mom says we might as well give it a shot. By time we get to Harry's first quidditch match, we own the DVD. We decide we'll only watch up until that part of the book, but I beg her to let us keep watching, just a little longer. Then suddenly the movie's over and something's different. We have to keep reading the book. We have to read all the books. We need to see the next movie. Why did we wait so long to read this?

We blow through the rest of the book and my mom buys the next three books. We go see the second movie in theaters. We were never big movie people, so we don't rush it.

Suddenly, we're out of books. Out of movies. I'm eight years old and we're moving into a new house soon. My mom's always tired from the stress of trying to sell a house and buy a house and working and our time reading together isn't as easy.

June 22, 2003. My mom picks up two copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix so we can both read at our own pace. At 8 and a half, I'm not quite as busy or as tired as my mom is. Even though I've read ahead and know what happens, we continue working through it together.

That September we finally move into our current house. A month later my mom tells me she's pregnant. Shortly after, our reading time stops because she falls asleep before I do. I turn 9 years old. My little brother's born exactly 6 months later. The wait for the next book seems endless.

My mom and I start a habit of going to see the movies the first Saturday showing after the release. It's always early enough that few people are there, the parking lot at the mall's pretty empty, it's just easier. I don't think we saw Prisoner of Azkaban right away though, since my brother was born like 2 weeks before the release. We might've waited a little longer that year. 

I start middle school. Realize that people suck. Contemplate suicide. Almost try it once then stop myself because I don't want my brother not to know his sister. Find a new best friend that gets me through that level of hell. 

Then on July 17, 2005, my mom and I go out and pick up two copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that she pre-ordered for us. I probably started reading in the car while she drove and pouted at me because I got to start already. 

November 19, 2005. My 12 birthday's three days later. We get up early and go see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

July 12, 2007. We go see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I've finally finished middle school and get ready to go on to the "secondary school." for eighth and ninth graders. Two months after this, I find the Twilight series and devour the first three books, obsess over them. But Harry Potter still triumphs.

By now, we have all the extra books (like Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). The Tales of Beedle the Bard joins in 2008 and is quickly devoured.

July 2009 was a big month. I'm finally going to high school. On the 16, my mom and I go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in theaters. On the 22, my mom and I drive to Barnes and Noble and pick up two pre-ordered copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This time, I definitely started reading in the car while she drove and pouted. 

By 3 am on the 23, I had finished reading Harry Potter. I was 14 years old, yet I'd gone through the journey with Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. I didn't cry, but my eyes did tear up (maybe because it WAS 3 am and I'd been up since 8). I watched my mom read, slowly. Watched her go through boxes of tissues starting with the first death. We discussed the book when she finally finished. Talked about our favorite parts, the saddest deaths, what we'd do know that the series was over. We still had two movies to look forward to. And shortly after she started reading Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse series and I dived further into YA.

November 20, 2010. I turn 16 in two days. My mom and I go to the first Saturday showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. We go to the Mexican restaurant that's just outside the movie theater and we love dearly and discuss the movie. Discuss how they next movie will go. Wonder why it's release is so far away when it's already released. Wonder what we'll do after.

And now it's July 15, 2011. Tomorrow morning I'll get up, probably at 8 or 9 am, and go to the mall with my mom. We'll sit and watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. From what I've heard, we'll probably cry. A lot. Then we'll go out for Mexican and talk about the movie.

And then...what?

It's not the end of our movie days, not yet. I'm slightly ashamed to admit it, but we'll probably go see the Breaking Dawn movies together. But that's just not the same.

I was 7 when we started the journey. We lived in a trailer and I played with the kids in the street during summer and sled down the hill the neighborhood dogs used as their toilet during winter. My older brother was finishing high school with his dad. The same dad my sister thought died on September 11. My sister had probably finished applying to colleges. My mom worked from home most days and could bring me to work if she didn't. We had one cat that my mom and sister despised and two rottweilers that everyone couldn't help but love.

I'm going into my senior year of high school, approaching my 17 birthday, and know what colleges I'm applying to. My sister is now 27 and living in Arizona, hoping to move back east soon. My brother is living in Florida, working. Both are estranged from their dad. My dad no longer works for that branch of the town, but has a more grueling schedule working on a golf course. My mom doesn't work from home anymore, now she works whatever job is needed for a company. I now have a little brother I dreamed of when I was younger, though sometimes it seems like I'm his third parent. We live in a house on a main road with a pool in the backyard. We have two cats and two dogs. Only one of the cats is the same.

I extend my most sincere thanks to J.K. Rowling and everyone that made it possible for the books and movies to reach the public. 

Thank you for making a reader keep reading. My mom and I would've kept reading together, but what would we have read? What would've kept us so entertained? What would've made me love reading the way Harry Potter did? I don't remember many books from my childhood. I remember Dr. Seuss when I was very young. I remember Roald Dahl books. I remember the Shel Silverstein poetry that connected me and my sister. I remember A Little Princess. But Harry Potter's what sticks out in my head as a book I read with my mom.

Thank you for connecting a mother and daughter in the way most mother's dream of. I've never said I hated my mom. I've never cursed her out or screamed at her. We've disagreed and there were times I've thought I hated her until I realized hatred's too strong a feeling and really I'm just angry at her. We conspire together to raise my brother, and we include my dad when he's awake and not in pain. On Friday nights we sit together and watch girls put on ridiculous wedding dresses and comment on them. She's not just my mom. She's my partner and my friend. And I really don't think it could've lasted as long as it did without Harry Potter

Thank you for being there when everything else in my life was changing. Since I started reading the series, the things that haven't changed include my cat and...well I don't know what else. Even how I look's changed. My hair's not as blonde, I'm not as skinny, my freckles have multiplied like rabbits, and I have a slight astigmatism and slight near sightedness, despite the carrots I devoured. But Harry's been there. Harry changed even more than I did and we kept a pretty even pace. He lasted longer than any other character has, and probably longer than any other character will, in my heart.

Thank you for creating something that wasn't just a fad. It wasn't silly bands or Justin Beiber or Britney Spears or N*Sync or the Backstreet Boys or slap bracelets or Uggs. Harry Potter's something that will be passed from sibling to sibling, from parent to child, from friend to friend. I'm already working to get Boy interested. I even got him to sit and watch some of Chamber of Secrets with me last weekend. Harry Potter's story may be coming to an end for the long-term fans, but it's still starting for so many people. Harry's story will never truly end.

Thank you for being an inspiration. While Harry's a major inspiration, so are you Ms. Rowling. I've read biographies and studied what I could from you since I was 10. I know all you've been through, as many of your fans do. And your story, your life, may even be more inspiring and motivating than Harry's.

Thank you to the fandom, as we celebrate this last movie together. As we celebrate the end of the Harry Potter era. 

Thank you to the Harry Potter generation, because we understand each other. Some may look at us more and say we're the generation that grew up and understood terrorism (which is silly because, have we all forgotten the Cold War? Remember when THAT was a constant threat? Everyone wondered when something would happen? Different group, same thing. Anyway.), but I hope more people will remember us as the generation that grew up with Harry Potter. Because let's be honest, that's more epic. And though people will continue to read it, they won't have to wait. They won't have the anticipation. They won't truly grow up with Harry.

Thank you, one and all, who went on this crazy journey. And good luck to all of those planning to go through it soon.

Ms. Rowling, I look forward to seeing what you've been up to while the movies were wrapping up.

--Julie

**None of these pictures are mine. I still them all from tumblr. Should you want to go to the source, you can find all of them somewhere on my tumblr.

Note from Lanna:


I don't even know how to put into words my thoughts/feelings on the Harry Potter series, so I'm not even going to try. It was the first book series I really read and loved and it played a big part in my love of reading...and, well, those of you that caught my YA Saves post before I moved it back to drafts (because it felt really weird having something so personal up on the blog for anyone to see), then you'll know how much the series means to me.


And on that note, here, have a video that may make you cry:






If I ever have kids, they will read these books or I will read them to them and they'll watch the movies and I'll make sure that Harry Potter is a part of their childhood like it was a part of mine. 

I'm still hoping J K Rowling will write more books in the Harry Potter world. :(


Later.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Read-A-Thon Wrap Up!

So, just a quick little wrap-up post.

Day 1:
Read the last 2/3s of Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Read Possess by Gretchen McNeil (review to come in August)
Read 1/3 of Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Day 2:
Read last 2/3s of Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe (review in October)
Read 1/3 of A Brief History of Montmaray by ...I've forgotten.
Day 3:
Read the rest of A Brief History of Montmaray.

So, Day 1 was fantastic. I loved the books I was reading and then the first part of Day 2 was equally fantastic. Then I got to A Brief History of Montmaray. It was just. So. Slow. I'll do a full review later, but basically I wanted to get to the end, but I didn't want to read it. So massively slowed down because of it.

But that's my wrap up for the Once Upon a Read-a-Thon. Hopefully my next read-a-thon (which Lanna and I are currently debating doing one soon) will go better!

--Julie

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Love Story
Jennifer Echols
Gallery/MTV Books
[July 19, 2011]

She's writing about him. he's writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines..

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions--it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.

I'm gonna admit, I'm biased.

See, these aren't secrets, but maybe you don't know. I love animals, all kinds. Horses are just one of the many I adore and I always wanted one and I've TRIED to tell my dad we probably have room in our backyard, but he won't buy it. I also write and want to be able to publish my work, but being more realistic, I want to work in publishing. I'm not entirely sure what I wanna do yet, but I'm leaning towards marketing/publicity. And I also come from a town so small, several towns are combined to make one school district and most of them will never leave New York even for college.

So imagine my surprise when I read this book about a girl who loves horses and writes novels and wants to work in publishing (as an editor) and leaves her small town (okay, her grandma's horse ranch) to go to New York City for college.

Circumstances are definitely different, but there were similarities. And then she's also a lot like the female version of Brent from the Naughty Book Kitties and yeah, I'm biased to like this character. I think if you like me and/or Brent, you can like this girl.

So, now that we've gotten past that. I loved the format here. Sometimes we get to read what Erin and Hunter were writing, which I really liked. They both had all these stories that told so much about them and they were so different. And the writing made me want to keep reading. I just wanted to finish, see how things ended up. But I also wanted to savor it.

I wasn't a huge fan of the romance. Mostly because they were so up and down and there were lies galore and I wasn't sure if I wanted them together in the first place. But at the same time, I guess it was realistic. It made sense for the characters.

I wasn't entirely happy with the ending. I don't know I just...I guess I wanted more from it. I hoped for more. After hearing all of Jennifer Echols' books hyped so much, I was looking for something different in the ending.

Overall, I really did love this book. I can't explain entirely why, I just know I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm already getting the itch to reread it. I do highly recommend it, but I think it'll be a book you could feel either way about.

--Julie

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