Friday, 30 September 2011

Blog Tour: Forbidden by Jana Oliver

So I'm a big fan of Jana Oliver's Demon Trappers series (seriously, read it, the books are awesome) and she's written up a guest post for us as part of her UK blog tour. (Please note that the US covers and titles are different.) :)

I know the blog tour is for the second book in the series, but here is the summary of the first to avoid spoilers for those who haven't read the series yet:


The Demon Trappers: Forsaken
by Jana Oliver

Summary: Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps.  The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?

Now, onto Jana's blog post:

Topic: "How do you put the series together from original idea, research and the actual writing process."

A book or series often starts as the tiniest germ of an idea. At that stage I file it away as something that has intrigued me. It might be nothing more than “I’d like to write something about the endless war between Heaven and Hell.” Often the germ of a story will have to wait patiently (sometimes for years) before it reaches a point where I can actually work on it. Some of those little ideas never grow beyond that initial seed.

In the case of the Demon Trappers Series I became intrigued by Sir Terry Pratchett’s and Neil Gaiman’s GOOD OMENS, which I read well over a decade ago. It’s the story of the endless tug of war between Heaven and Hell as told from the point of view of a demon and an angel. I loved that book and have reread it countless times. It wasn’t until I’d finished my previous series that I came back to the idea and it began to grow. At just the right time I had the privilege of viewing a piece of artwork by Todd Lockwood which depicted a brutal battle between a legion of angels and demons. It’s stark and graphic and made even more poignant by the fact the battle is being fought on the back of a human being. The idea began to grow.

The concept quickly became a “What if?” question - What if I had a young girl learning how to trap demons and she finds herself caught between the forces of good and evil? What if she had to make choices that would affect the very survival of the cosmos?

Now it was time for research since I really don’t know much about the origins of demons, the ranks of angels and such. I dug into various religious tracts––Jewish, Christian and Muslim––to see how each faith viewed Hellspawn and the Divines. Then I read books on the fall of Lucifer and how he evolved in sacred literature from an angel firmly under God’s thumb to Satan, the arch-enemy.

Once I had a reasonably strong footing, I began to craft my own world. I start with the types of demons my heroine (Riley Blackthorne) might encounter. I created nuisance demons, like the kind that steal your jewelry, all the way up to the kind that generated earthquakes and windstorms. Then I figured out how Riley and her fellow trappers would actually capture these guys, and what they would do with them after that.

Further world building required me to formulate exactly what a 2018 Atlanta would be like in terms of economy (bad), politics (worse) and infrastructure (crumbling). How Riley would live, where she would go to school, who were her friends? These details had to be developed so that the reader could fully immerse themselves in her life.

Once I had all the various pieces in place, I sent my seventeen-year-old apprentice demon trapper to a law library to capture a Biblio-Fiend (a foul-mouthed demon who destroys books.) The series took off from there.

Creating a new story/series is much like building a house. You start with a concept or blueprint, lay a firm foundation, build the shell and then add the windows, doors and roof.

For me the finished book is a work of wonder and a labor of love, from that initial germ of an idea to the finished product. I sincerely hope my readers agree.

I wish it was March 2012 already so I could read the next book. You can find out more about Jana and her books on her website or the Demon Trappers website.

Later.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Last Right Cover Reveal

So, remember a few months ago when I posted this?



Well now I can show you a cover! Without further ado...


I actually really love this cover. I love all the colors and the contrast and the fact that there's a definite final fight. Also I love the fact I can't see Frannie's boobs. But what HAPPENS in this book? What do you guys think?

Now, contest time! Lisa is going to give away on her blog with some awesome prizes! To enter, you have to visit all the blogs doing the cover reveal and find the words that makeup the tagline. Enter that, and you're entered in the contest! So definitely check that out.


I also have a giveaway for you! Lisa has offered up one galley of LAST RITE to one of you lovely readers! It won't go out until November, but since Last Rite doesn't come out until May, it's still a pretty awesome deal, isn't it?

RULES:
  • U.S. Only! Sorry, guys.
  • You have to be 13 years or older. If you're younger, ask a parent to enter for you!
  • You have two weeks to enter! That means this ends OCTOBER 13. I will notify the winner by email.
  • Your address is totally safe, I only need it so I can get it to Lisa ASAP.
  • You DO NOT need to be a follower to enter, nor do you need extra entries. But following and tweeting is appreciated.
  • One entry per person.


So, go check out the other blogs and enter away!

--Julie

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegan

The Mephisto Covenant
Trinity Faegan
EgmontUSA
[September 27, 2011]

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this book. I'd heard it was like Twilight, I heard it was full of cliches, I heard it was just horrible. And this is why I try to avoid reviews before I read a book. Because I didn't agree.

I liked Sasha and Jax and I liked them together. They worked together. They weren't outstanding, fabulous characters, but they weren't anything special. They were average characters. However, I DID love the mythology the characters were a part of. That was really cool and unique.

The beginning of the story was kind of unbelievable. Some reactions just weren't right and the whole story was a bit off for a little while. But the the story picked up and was full of action. I was totally hooked on figuring out what would happen. There was lots of twists and turns and the writing really sucked me in. I couldn't sit down to read for just a few minutes, I had to sit down and dedicate a good chunk of time to reading it.

Like I mentioned, I like Sasha and Jax as a couple. They had good chemistry and they were kind of adorable together. I did not see the insta-love I've seen some people talk about. There was an instant attraction between the two, but definitely not love.

If you're in the mood for a good paranormal romance, this is something different and really good. It's not just a new Twilight. I definitely recommend this one.

--Julie

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
[September 27, 2011]

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

When I finished this book, I closed it and stared at the back for a minute or two. I kept trying to put it down, but the thought terrified me. So I then did the logical thing and reread the last three pages. Closed it again. Asked the book "What? WHAT? Why? How is this...WHAT?" I felt even crazier because I could see my reflection in the book. Continued to stare. Finally managed to put it down and shower. As soon as I got out of the shower, it was the first thing I looked at.

This book was incredible. The plot was constantly full of action and I kept waiting for something scary/creepy to come up, because I'm a wuss. It was such an incredibly lovely/actiony/twisty story, I adored it. It was predictable at times, but if you couldn't tell, the ending shocked me and totally blew me away. It was also written in a way that, although the book is 450 pages, it reads really fast. I could read 100 pages in one sitting without realizing how much I'd read. The writing was fluid and flowy and fast paced and addicting.

Mara was a wonderful character. A bit self-centered at times, but also strong. So incredibly strong in many ways. She was this perfect balance of flaws and positive traits and it made her real...kind of. You'll see when you read it.

Noah Shaw...where do I begin with our darling Noah Shaw? He's cocky and arrogant and has that whole "Look at me, I'm all disheveled because I spent no time getting ready, but in truth this took an hour to do" aura about him. But he's an animal lover like woah. He's sarcastic and British and so sweet to our dear Mara (most of the time), who could really use some sweetness.

Mara's brothers also stole the show in their scenes. They were absolutely the best brothers to ever exist on the planet. Her younger brother was this adorable little genius. Her older brother was caring and compassionate and just always there for Mara, whenever she needed him.

So, if you can't tell, the plot and the writing were phenomenal. But it was the characters that really made this novel shine for me. Completely outstanding and lives up to it's cover for sure! This is definitely one to pre-order or run out and grab at the store on release day.

--Julie

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay


Juliet Immortal
by Stacey Jay


Summary: "These violent delights have violent ends and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.
Well then, this book was...this book was...:


And I was pretty much all:


And then:


And there was a lot of:


...Yes. I think that 'bout sums it up.

I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did...I mean, it wasn't perfect, I did have a few issues with it, but overall? Really loved it (although the fact that I read it after quite a few disappointing reads in a row made me a little easier to impress and that may have had something to do with it, plus I was in the right mood for a book like this).

I love the original story of Romeo and Juliet. I do not consider it a love story. Romance? Yes. Love? Absolutely not. I love it as a tragedy. And this is probably the best YA book I've read that was based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, as well as being the most original.

I hate insta-love and this book had a lot of insta-love going on but it's one of those rare books where it's done in a way that works. A part of the world these characters are living in is that soul mates exist, it's a part of the supernatural element to the story and so accepting that two people can meet and instantly recognise each other as soul mates wasn't so annoying or far fetched as it usually is in insta-love stories.

I love the characters...Juliet was an awesome protagonist, even though she was far from perfect and I wanted to scream at the book when she was so stupidly oblivious to something that was blatantly obvious to the reader from the start - but I really liked her. And I love, love, loved Ben - he was so...can I keep him? Can I like, get him for Christmas this year please? Cause he was lovely and he totally brought the adorable and sexy and sweet and omgwtfbbqwaffle! he speaks Spanish in with his English and that makes me all melty for some reason (not gonna lie, Ben was probably the main part of the reason I loved the book).

I loved that Romeo wasn't your typical Romeo. He was kind of a dick really - tragically flawed and while he's a bad guy, he wasn't like...evil. I like that, when stories of good vs. evil show that there are shades of gray and that it's a choice, it's not something you just are (Juliet's character actually showed that too).

As for the plot...I really liked it, it had me hooked from the start and it was original. It wasn't perfect, there were some elements to it that were a bit, "Lolwhut?" and I'm still not totally sold on the ending - which I can't explain further without spoilers, so I won't, but even though I thought the way the ending happened was a bit odd and could've done with more explanation or whatever to make it seem less weird, I still liked it. I want to talk about the part I didn't like much but can't...gah, stupid spoilers.

Anyway, basically, this book has a gorgeous cover and it's one of those rare times where you can judge the book by its cover because the inside totally matches the awesome on the outside. Go read it. Even if you hate Romeo and Juliet, you may like this portrayal of them and even if you don't like insta-love, this may still work for you.

Later.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook by Jason Heller


The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook
by Jason Heller


Summary: He’s the most popular pirate in motion picture history—and now The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook offers his fans an insider’s guide to all the dirty tricks of the buccaneer’s trade! Complete with step-by-step instructions, helpful diagrams, and full-color photography from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, this nautical treasure trove arrrrrrrrrrrticulates such vital and colorful information as:

• How to Sail a Ship
• How to Survive Being Marooned
• How to Break a Curse
• How to Fight Six Angry Men in a Tavern
• How to Recruit a Crew
• How to Cope with Mermaids
• And much, much more!

I'm a big fan of the Pirates of the Carribean movies. And Johnny Depp. And Captian Jack Sparrow. And when I was younger? I was one of those little girls who would've rather been a pirate than a princess - if you're anything like me, then you'll probably really like this book.

It mixes facts with fiction from the Pirates of the Carribean movies in a format that is fun to read. I love how it talks about things that are kind of silly but in a sort of serious, formal tone. Example:

"Despite far too many popular (and, frankly, demeaning) depictions, self-respecting pirates don't punctuate their speech with nonsense like "Arrrr!" Unless, of course, they're cleverly impersonating someone impersonating a pirate, in which case such poor taste is in the service of a higher and hopefully profitable purpose. Mind you, many pirates aren't self-respecting whatsoever, in which case "Arrr!" is only natural."
And seeing as Jack Sparrow is my favourite part of the movies, the little comments thrown in about him made me laugh, like these ones:

"Like finicky cats and finely dressed ladies, pirates hate to get wet. In a peculiar way, Jack Sparrow might be considered something of a cross between a finicky cat and a finely dressed lady."

"Witness a favourite salutation of Jack Sparrows: "And to what do I owe the pleasure of your carbuncle?" No one's carbuncle is in the least pleasurable, but when delivered with a florid bow and a devilish grin, a potentially hostile individual is immediately put on the befuddled defensive."

"In a way, this is a metaphor for Jack Sparrow's entire conduct. Why grunt and strain to break your bonds through brute force when you can employ some slippery cleverness?"

There's also an entire section on pirate insults - that was pretty much one of my favourite parts of the book (closely followed by the bit about superstitions and the appenxid that gives you the defitions of all the pirate lingo) and had me wanting to provoke my brother just so I'd have an excuse to call someone a bilge rat or a feculent maggot or a salty wench.

As well as being fun to read, it's fun to look at. All of the pages are fancy and coloured and I loved all the illustrations and stills from the movies. Quirk Books really do know how to make their books look awesome, like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, this is one of those books that is good to have on your shelf even if it's just for visual purposes.

If you're a fan of pirates or the Pirates of the Carribean movies then this book is worth checking out. And I guess that's all I have to say.

Later.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

In My Mailbox 86

Julie:                                                                                                                                                         





Bought:
Ingenue by Jillian Larkin
For One More Day by Mitch Albom
Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

For Review:
Reckoning for the Dead by Jordan Dane
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
Girls in Charge by Debra Moffitt
Between the Sea and Sky by Jackie Dolamore

From Harmony:
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater
Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

I won't...I won't try to explain having all the new books...nope.

Thoughts on books?

--Julie

Lanna:


For review:


This Dark Endeaver by Kenneth Oppel

I think this one is like a prequel to Frankenstein? Maybe? It's not really my kind of thing but if I'm not too swamped with books and stuff then I'll try read it soon.

Bought:


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

So it's not actually here yet. But I ordered it and if I don't include it in this weeks IMM then I'll forget. But yeah, when this one arrives, I'mma be all:



Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

This is one of those books that I always recognised the title of but never really knew much about but never really felt the need to look it up. And then someone I follow on tumblr posted quotes from it and I was all, "Hey, I wanna read that now!" - so yeah. I still don't really know what it's about, I think it's 9/11 related though? Possibly?

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

I love her Perfect Chemistry series, so I want to read more of her books and I've heard awesome things about this series. 

Remembrance by Michelle Madow
Hurricane by Jenna Lynn Duncan

Those two just sounded good. *shrugs* I think I read that Remembrance was inspired by Love Story by Taylor Swift (even the cover looks inspired by that), so I like the sound of it.

What'd you guys get this week?

Later.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Glow
Amy Kathleen Ryan
St. Martin's Griffin
[September 13, 2011]

What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.
   
So, take The Hunger Games. Now take Across the Universe. And now you have Glow.

Waverly and Kieran were interesting characters. I liked them, but they also had a lot of faults and would annoy me from time to time. Especially Kieran. Waverly was usually strong, but Kieran just seemed so weak and obsessed with love, and it just bothered me.


The plot was interesting, though. Really interesting. It kind of had the constant action-y feel of The Hunger Games and it had the setting of Across the Universe and it just blended really well. The romance wasn't the biggest deal. There were a lot of side characters and they were all involved in interesting things. Some action stuff, some friend stuff, some family stuff, some romance, and some rebellions and just...the story line was perfect. Absolutely perfect. And twisted. 


The writing kept me very involved. I read a lot of it in one sitting then had to stop and pack then I got to finish it on a trip the next day. I just wanted to keep reading and know what would happen and how it would end. 


I read this book in August and I STILL don't know where the sequel will go. But I know it's going somewhere good. Definitely another dystopian to check out.


--Julie

Friday, 23 September 2011

Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry


Guitar Highway Rose
by Brigid Lowry


Summary: My name is Rosie Moon. I am nearly sixteen. I'm hungry for a juicy life. I lean out the window at night and I can taste it out there, waiting for me.

Popular and smart, fifteen-year-old Rosie Moon is the quintessential good girl. She also wishes she could be someone else for a while, someone more interesting. Asher Fielding is the mysterious new boy at school who has dreadlocks and a love of Jim Morrison. On the first day of tenth grade, Rosie develops a crush on Asher, and when the two pair up for a poetry assignment they quickly form a bond. When Asher is falsely accused of stealing a wallet at school, he and Rosie decide to escape it all--their families, their school, their ordinary town--and hitchhike up the Australian coast. They know they shouldn't, and that is exactly why they do. Part road story, part love story, Guitar Highway Rose is a thrilling ride for anyone who has ever dreamed about escaping everyday life, even just for a little while.
I honestly don't know whether I liked this book or not and that's because of the way it's written.

The writing is very unique and distinctive, the kind that just breathes personality onto the page...and I appreciate that, but I'm not sure I liked the format. It's hard to explain. Dialogue wasn't written like dialogue, it was just lists of what people said and it doesn't say who is saying what (and it's easy enough to follow most of the time but still kind of annoying) and it has loads of different POV's and lists and Archers POV bugged me so much because there is literally no punctuation in his paragraphs, you could get a page of his thoughts without a single comma or full stop and yeah, it made his sections stand out but it was a pain in the ass to read.

The characters were annoying but a realistic kind of annoying. They seemed like regular people, normal teenagers and parents and kids. The plot was just...it happened. I didn't love it, didn't hate it, was mostly indifferent to it.

I think I would've liked the book way more when I was younger because the things that annoyed me would've annoyed me less and I would've related to the characters more probably and the book kind of screams 90's with the movies mentioned being shown at the cinema and the music and the way the clothes are described and the fact that whenever music is mentioned, they say tapes. Not CD's. Not MP3's. TAPES! Oh, the nostalgia, it burns! =P

I want to read a book written by Brigid Lowry that is written like a regular novel, because with her writing, if it was in a regular novel format, then it could be absolutely fantastic. I know a lot of people think this book is amazing, I've seen reviews of it from people who loved it and people listing it as one of their favourite Aussie YA books...it was hyped up, didn't live up to expectations.

I'm not sure if this review is coming across as negative or positive and I really don't know which I'm aiming for. I really mean it when I say I don't know what I think of this book. I don't know if I liked it or hated it...I know I liked the writing but didn't like the format, but the overall book? No clue.

Later.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June 
by Hannah Harrington


Release date: November 29th (I think?)

Summary: When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister's urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.
I loved this book...and I liked this book - and I suppose that doesn't make much sense, but I'll do my best to explain:

As a typical road trip romance story? I loved it. The characters were fun, the road trip was that awesome mix of drama, sad moments, happy moments, funny moments and sparks-are-flying moments. The romance was great, I loved that Harper and Jake argued, that they had the kind of relationship that isn't always smooth sailing because those are realistic and the best kind to me. For those things, I loved the book.

As for just liking it...well, the focus of the plot is this serious issue. It literally begins at the wake of her sisters funeral, so you'd expect it to be the kind of book that hurt to read. The book just did not get under my skin in that area - it had its rare moments where it got it right, but a lot of the time I just wasn't buying the grief Harper was supposed to be feeling. I know what it's like to lose someone you love and I've read books that have written grief so well and managed to balance it out perfectly with the other story elements (like The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly etc.) but this book wasn't really one of them.

As for being a story about loss, dealing with loss, that sort of thing...as far as that goes, it was just good/decent. So that's why I loved the book and I liked the book, because I feel like I need to judge it as two different things.

I really loved the music elements woven into the story and the characters were awesome and I really loved Hannah's writing - this book has put her on my instant read list and I can't wait to read more books of hers.

The plot - I liked it. But it wasn't original. It was actually really similar to the plot of Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers if you substitute dad who killed himself for a sister instead (there's even an Aunt Helen-ish character in Fall for Anything too) but I liked this book way better, but still those similarities made it feel less original to me...not that that is an awful thing, I just would've liked the plot way more if it felt new to me.

I guess that's all I can really say about the book. I really recommend it. The only issue was that it felt like I loved the book for the wrong reasons - a book about something serious, like the suicide of a sister, it feels like I should love it for more than just being a fun road trip book with a good romance (again, taking The Sky is Everywhere as an example...that book was just more, it was one of those books where you read it and you're like, "Yes! That is exactly how I feel. That's what it feels like to lose someone." and the ache of it weighs down on you with every page you turn but it still manages to have bits that make you smile and a romance that makes you melt).

Later.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley


Graffiti Moon
by Cath Crowley


Release date: February 14th 2012 (although it is already out in Australia)

Summary: Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.
[Note: I'm aware this review is way early - I actually wrote this in August 2011...but yeah, you can pre-order it or add it to your wish list!]

I loved Cath Crowley’s other book, A Little Wanting Song, but this book was just - wow. It was amazing. So amazing that I’m not sure how to even begin to properly describe my thoughts on the book, but I’ll try.

Cath’s writing is amazing. With most books, you read them for the characters or the story and maybe you’ll like the writing style and a few quotes will jump out at you as being awesome, but books like Graffiti Moon? They’re different. The way Cath writes is kind of like a song…when you string the words together, they just sound so unique and lyrical and beautiful - the story could be awful but there would still be beauty in her writing (and in this case she had the awesome writing as well as ticking all the other awesome boxes too).

This was one of those rare books where character POV switches was done really, really well and I’m pretty fussy with books that have multiple narrators - usually it seems like it is being used as a crutch because the author can’t carry the story using just one perspective but it was done so well here and it was one of my favourite things about the book.

And her characters…I loved them all. They made me laugh, they made me ache, they had me wishing they were real so I could know them. I probably loved Ed and Lucy the most but they were all amazing; Leo, Jazz, Dylan, Daisy…even Malcolm was awesome in a totally, “Oh my god, he is insane!” kind of way and he was hilarious.

The plot of the book was kind of predictable at times, but other things I totally didn’t see coming but even the predictable bits didn’t matter because there wasn’t a single moment I was bored while reading this. I literally read until my eyes got all messed up from straining to read the book from first word to last.

I loved the way art was woven into the story and the way they talked about graffiti as art - because I consider it art...sure, some of it is bad and stupid and messy, but there's bad stuff amongst any art form, it's not all wonderful. It is an underrated art form and I adore the way it's talked about in the book.

Cath Crowley has definitely earned her place on my favourite authors list - she was an instant read after I read A Little Wanting Song but this book proved she is capable of not only meeting the expectations that book set, but exceeding them because I loved Graffiti Moon even more.

Honestly, the only complaint I have about the book is that the word “arse” is used an awful lot. Which is a ridiculous thing to be annoyed by, but I really hate that word…that’s how good the book was: the only negative thing I can think of is that a word used often is one of my pet peeves.

Later.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted


Crazy Beautiful
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted


Summary: In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn’t outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself.

Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don’t scare her. They don’t keep her away. In fact, they don’t make any difference at all to her.

But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering.

Or maybe she’s just a girl who needs love just like he does.
I didn’t like this book. But I didn’t not like it either. After I finished, my emotions towards it were kind of…indifferent.

I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but this one has an awesome cover and so I expected awesome things from it. Especially seeing as it has a kind of Beauty and the Beast thing going on and I adore that story…but it was just - meh.

The only originality in the plot is the fact that Lucius has no hands, with the rest of it, it didn't feel like I was reading anything new and wasn't written in a way that made it stand out as being better than all the other stories that have used variations of the same plot. The characters felt really flat, the relationships - I just wasn’t buying them, I didn’t feel it. The plot was mediocre and the ending was one of those really unsatisfying ones that leaves you with a, “Wait, that’s it?” feeling. I just - wasn’t into it. It’s one of those stories that would maybe work as a movie but is just kind of dull in book form.

Luckily, the book is short. It doesn’t take long to read at all so I just read it in one sitting for the sake of finishing it so I could move onto something (hopefully) better. The cover and the writing are the only parts of the book I really liked, because Lauren does write well (not really making my favourites list, but good).

I don’t know if I’m being too harsh with this review, it’s just that this is the second book in a row that I’ve read in the past day that has been a total let down so I’m finding it difficult to think of anything positive to say (although, considering I didn't like the book I read before this one would've actually made me easier to impress, so...). I could understand why other people would like it and if the summary appeals to you, then I recommend giving it a chance, it just wasn’t for me.

I’d rate it 2/2.5 stars.

Later.

There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff


There is No Dog
by Meg Rosoff


Summary: Meet your unforgettable protagonist: God, who, as it turns out, is a 19-year-old boy living in the present-day and sharing an apartment with his long-suffering fifty-something personal assistant. Unfortunately for the planet, God is lazy and, frankly, hopeless. He created all of the world's species in six days because he couldn't summon the energy to work for longer. He gets Africa and America mixed up. And his beleagured assistant has his work cut out for him when God creates a near-apolcalyptic flood, having fallen asleep without turning the bath off. There is No Dog is a darkly funny novel from one of our most delightfully unpredictable writers.

Oh how I hate it when a book I've been dying to read turns out to be a disappointment.

I loved the other book of Meg's that I read, How I Live Now - it was original and just…really brilliant and this one sounded awesome and I've been dying to read it for so long so I expected it to be as good as How I Live Now. Alas, it did not live up to expectations. Gutted.

I'd give it an A+ for originality, but a C- for the execution of it and a disappointing D for enjoyability.

It's not so much a problem with the book, I could see why other people could love it, it's more that it just wasn't my kind of thing.

It was written with a lot of switching perspectives (third person), which I have made clear before that I am so not a fan of that. I can't connect to the characters when it's written the way this was and when there is multiple POV's written, I usually latch onto one characters story as my favourite and the rest just drag. That was the case here. I liked the Lucy/Luke element of the story best and the rest of it was just a drag and that sucked big time because the Lucy/Luke thing was really a tiny part of the plot - I think if I counted, probably less than 40 pages would have included interactions with them.

The story really was original but reading it felt like a chore. I didn't particularly like any of the characters and while some books can get by with unlikeable characters, this just was not one of them. They were annoying in the kind of way that I did not want to read about and since this is a book and the point was to read it, you can see how that would be a problem.

Lucy and Luke had their moments and Eck was kind of cute in a pathetic sort of way but I wouldn't go as far as to say I really liked any of them. And Bob was awful, his chapters were almost unbearable to read - same with Mona. Mr B was just dull, his chapters literally put me to sleep a few times (I wish I was joking - although in defence of his chapters, I do tend to read in the early hours of the morning).

I couldn’t stand the Lucy/Bob relationship…not just because he was quite possibly one of the most awful and annoying characters I have ever read (which was done intentionally though), but because it just - eugh. It was insta-love at its very worst. It was never explained if Lucy’s “love” for him was because he used his Godly powers to make her feel that way but I don’t think it was - other peoples reactions to him were kind of the opposite to hers and if he could make her feel whatever he wanted her to then the plot wouldn’t have happened the way it did. It was just - eugh. They make Edward Cullen and Bella Swan look like the epitome of the perfect healthy relationship. Now, again, I think that their relationship was intentionally written to be bad, which is fine, except for the fact that I was stuck reading that nonsense and it just wasn’t enjoyable.

The book is described as being darkly funny and I could see the parts that were supposed to be funny but I didn't laugh once, I'm not even sure it made me smile.

I would recommend the book, if it sounds interesting to you and you like those kind of... "WTF?!" plots, but the book just was not my cup of tea at all. I've seen a bunch of glowing 5 star reviews of it on goodreads, so you may be one of the ones who love it. I wasn't a fan of the writing in it, or the story or the characters.

The only redeemable things about it for me was Lucy/Luke, but there was so little of that it wasn't enough to make me like the book, and the fact that it's original and I appreciate originality. But yeah, it general, it bored me and a book with that kind of plot should not bore me. I would've been way more interested to read a book where she scrapped the whole God element, cut out all the characters except the ones that worked in the zoo and made it a story about Luke and Lucy.

If you haven’t read one of Meg’s books before, I suggest starting with How I Live Now, that one was fab and weird but good weird.

Later.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

In My Mailbox 86

It's raining books, hallelujah, it's raining books.



For Review:
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Hell to Pay by Wendy Corsi Staub
The Ninth Day by Jamie Freveletti

Won:
Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala

From Harmony:
Fracture by Megan Miranda

Thanks to HarperCollions, Simon & Schuster, Holly Cupala, and Harmony!

Thoughts? What's in your mailbox?
--Julie

Lanna:

Just got one book this week: Ashes by Isla J. Bick for review. I can't wait to read it, it sounds awesome. :)

Later.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

"Did you buy that book?" "Yeah!" "Did you love it?" "About that..."

This is a discussion! But, as I explain in the video, my wrists are achy. They get this way when I type too much and I still have to type lots more in the next few weeks, so I'm just making things easier on myself. Most of my discussion posts will probably be this way for a while if I can do it this way.


 

So, what books are waiting patiently on your TBR pile because of other people?
--Julie

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan


Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan


Summary: One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

So John Green is one of my favourite authors and has been ever since I read Looking for Alaska like five or six years ago - I've probably made that clear by now what with constantly pimping out his books and gushing about his writing and all that and while I've only read 3 books by David Levithan (two of which were co-written with Rachel Cohn), I really loved his books too. So of course, I had high expectations for this book.

It did not disappoint. It was awesome. It was awesome in the kind of way that only a John Green or David Levithan can be awesome and I can't quite put that into words.

It wasn't my favourite book from either of them (Looking for Alaska and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist take those titles), but it was still really great. They're amongst the tiny group of authors who can write characters that I hate and have me love the book anyway and then have me love the characters by the end...I'm not easy to win over once I hate a character but damn it, they both managed to do it.

I loved the minor characters in the book, particularly Jane and Tiny, but damn I hated both Will Graysons from the start - and then there was this kind of turning point outside of a porn shop (you'll get it when you read it) when it started to change, they started to grow on me and then I loved them and I loved them because while they got better as characters, they didn't suddenly totally change...they remained flawed and those flaws made them so much more real and the relationships more real and so reading it felt more real and for the entire second half of the book almost, I couldn't stop smiling most of the time. Seriously, my face was hurting when I finished reading at 6am. I love it when a book can make me smile (and laugh, cause the book made me laugh a few times too).

I don't want to talk about the plot. I liked it, but I don't want to try and explain why I liked it...some things just have to be read for yourself.

The writing, as always, was excellent and I had a bunch of scrap pieces of paper filling the book marking quotes that I loved by the time I finished reading:


The only thing I didn't particularly like was that in David's Will Grayson chapters, things weren't capitalised (like the starts of sentences or names) and the dialogue was written like (mum: hi) instead of the usual format - I guess it was to make it unique and suit that Will but it bugged me a little sometimes (although the dialogue wasn't as annoying as the lack of capitals).

I guess that's all I can really say. I've yet to be disappointed by a John Green book and books like this definitely leave me wanting to read more of David's books. If you've never read any of their books, go do that. Seriously.

On another note, I want to see Tiny's musical, because it sounded awesome.


Later.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Fateful by Claudia Gray

Fateful
Claudia Gray
Harper Collins Children's Books
[September 13, 2011]

It's about a servant girl named Tess in 1912, who wants to escape from the house where she works, and most particularly the lecherous young lord of the manor. But that's not her biggest problem. While on a voyage to America, where she plans to escape and start a new life, she meets Alec, who's ruggedly handsome, fabulously wealthy, intelligent and yet so clearly troubled that she'd rather not fall for him, but she does. That also is not her biggest problem. Alec, it turns out, is a werewolf ... one cursed to change every night, unless and until he surrenders his independence and joins the Brotherhood, a pack of violently misogynistic werewolves who have been tracking him for months. You'd think that would be their biggest problem, wouldn't you?

But no. Their biggest problem -- though they don't know it yet -- is that they're aboard the RMS Titanic.

I loved this book.

Alec and Tess were both fantastic characters. I wanted Tess to be my best friend and I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay. And Alec? Freaking amazing boy. Just...really loved that boy. At first, you may want to smack him, but you kind of learn why he acts the way he does and realize he's kind of awesome.

I was never bored when reading this. I read 50 pages without realizing it, read half of it within a few hours. I hated to put it down because I always wanted to know what would happen next. I cried at one point. Nearly screamed and threw it a few times. It was interesting and, while not totally twisty and unpredictable, definitely entertaining.

I wish I could erase this book from my memory and read it again for the first time. It was just SO insanely good. And even though I don't think there's a sequel that could be written and be as entertaining as this one, I DO want more of these characters and this world and this setting. Just...fantastic book. I recommend it if you read YA (which, I think it's safe to say you do.)

--Julie

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star
by Maureen Johnson


Release date: September 29th
Summary: The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
I’m kind of unsure about this book. I know that I really liked it, that it entertained me and I really, really want to read the sequel…and yet whenever I try to write this review, most of what I write is negative and I can’t think of many positive things to say. I guess it's maybe because while the negatives outnumber the positives, the positives carry more weight.

I’ve seen so many glowing reviews of this book, all five stars and gushing, and I think Maureen Johnson is awesome as a person and when the author it awesome, it makes me want to love their book. I didn't like her other book that I read, 13 Little Blue Envelopes (I am in the minority there so don't let that put you off), and while this book was way, way, way better, it still had some of the same issues for me.

I’m not the biggest fan of Maureen’s writing…it has its moments and it is funny at times, but sometimes it is very dull and filler-ish. I don’t connect to her characters at all - I mean, I like them (well, some of them) but there’s no emotional attachment, no empathy for them. I don’t root for them when it comes to romance, I don’t get scared for them when I should or feel sad when something bad happens… I just read the book, entertained by the plot but not emotionally involved in it at all.

Another point about the writing - some of the dialogue…at times it felt really fake. Particularly Jerome, it was like he was thrown into the story just to be a walking encyclopedia for all things Jack the Ripper. And then there was the dialogue near the end…and I can’t really explain it without spoiling it but if I didn’t need my hands to hold the book then I would’ve been face-palming at the big monologue a character gave and how out of place it seemed.

The relationships in the book - they’re very tell instead of show (especially the romance, although there isn’t much of that at all), with lots of summarizing instead of actual scenes. I just…I accept the fact that they’re friends and that the characters like who they like but so much of the story was skimmed over or left out completely that it didn’t feel like we got to see those relationships form (except maybe with Boo and Rory)…and while stuff like important interactions and scenes with other characters felt lacking, there was so much stuff thrown in that I truly did not give a damn about (like descriptions of buildings, school work/classes, her family back home).

The plot…I liked it. I had high expectations when I heard that it had some Jack the Ripper stuff happening in the plot - I expected it to be original but it was mostly just new names for stuff I’ve read before (the Jack the Ripper part was the only really original part to me). Basically, the plot was good and was probably a big part of the reason why I liked the book, it was just lacking the originality that I was expecting/hoping for.

See what I mean about the review being mostly negative? I don’t get it…I genuinely did really enjoy the book so why is the review not positive? My brain makes no sense. 

Once I got into it, I was hooked and the way it ended (while I do wish Rory put up more of a fight on a certain issue which left me frustrated) left me dying to read the sequel. It was a good book…it was entertaining enough that I liked it in spite of all those other things I mentioned (so I still really recommend it - most of the other reviews are really positive and if I can like it while having all these negative opinions then I'd say it's worth reading).

I’d rate it maybe 3.5 stars out of 5 (possibly 4 if I factor in my eagerness to read the sequel). And as I mentioned somewhere above, I am totally in the minority in having these negative issues with the book, there aren’t many negative reviews on goodreads, most of them are like 4 and 5 stars.

And I'll leave the review at that, I tried to expand on the positives and lessen the negatives but it just wasn't happening so I guess the review shall remain a long and rambling trainwreck. 

Later.

p.s. I have a question for English people: Does your school allow alcohol to be served at school dances? (And I don't mean sixth form colleges, I mean the schools that include those last two years/boarding schools) Because in the book, Maureen has written that they do at that school. Maybe it's different here in Scotland, but even though we're legally allowed to drink, our schools would never allow alcohol to be served on school grounds at a school event. I thought that was kind of odd in the book. So yeah, is England different from Scotland? Or did Maureen just write this school as very weird?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

In My Mailbox 85 (& a Divergent fan trailer I found on youtube & book tumblr)

Lanna:


For Review:

Finished copy of Mister Creecher by Chris Priestly

Not shown in the Shelfari print screen - I'm sure I have an ARC of it somewhere too, this is a finished copy. I think I'll give this one to my nephew, it's not really my kind of thing and I have too much stuff to read that I really want to read right now.

Bought:

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

I can't wait to read all of these. I've heard amazing things about Chaos Walking series, so I bought the first two - I put off reading it for so long but then I read some quotes on goodreads and one of them convinced me that I have to read the books. 

Gift:

The first Mediator bind up by Meg Cabot and a bunch of swag. Julie is so awesome - she went to a Meg Cabot signing and she got me the US Mediator bind up (which I've wanted for ages but of course, they don't have here in Scotland and I love The Mediator series) and she got it signed for me and...and...


I have the best co-blogger. :)

What'd you guys get? Have you read any of the books I got, particularly The Knife of Never Letting Go? What'd you think of them?

ALSO! Julie and I both have tumblrs, but we made a book blog tumblr where we'll specifically be posting bookish things, so go follow us if you want? And you can ask us book/book blog/random questions if you like too. bloggers-heart-books.tumblr.com

Annnd on a completely unrelated note, because I wanted to show you this but didn't want to make a different post, I found this fan made trailer for Divergent on youtube and it's so awesome (although I'm not sold on the fan cast choices, particularly Tris...even though she's better than the Saoirse Ronan suggestion). But seriously, it's - the kind of video that makes me wish I could make videos:



Later.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

The Ghost and the Goth
Stacey Kade
Hyperion Book CH
[June 29, 2010]

After a close encounter with the front end of a school bus, Alona Dare goes from Homecoming Queen to Queen of the Dead. Now she’s stuck as a spirit in the land of the living with no sign of the big, bright light to take her away. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser outcast. He alone can see and hear (turns out he’s been “blessed” with the ability to communicate with the dead), but he wants nothing to do with the former mean girl of Groundsboro High.

Alona has never needed anyone for anything, and now she’s supposed to expose her deepest, darkest secrets to this pseudo-goth boy? Right. She’s not telling anyone what really happened the day she died, not even to save her eternal soul. And Will’s not filling out any volunteer forms to help her cross to the other side. He only has a few more weeks until his graduation, when he can strike out on his own and find a place with less spiritual interference. But he has to survive and stay out of the psych ward until then. Can they get over their mutual distrust—and the weird attraction between them—to work together before Alona vanishes for good and Will is locked up for seeing things that don’t exist?

This was adorable and funny and sweet.

Alona is exactly what you expect her to be and while she doesn't undergo this drastic change after she dies, she does grow into herself and become a better person. And Will isn't really the guy on the cover but he definitely not the typical high school guy. Both of them made me laugh and they were enjoyable characters. I loved their banter and their relationship and they were just so adorable together.

The story definitely kept me involved. There were a lot of questions I wanted answered and a few different plots to make the one story. Some of these plot lines were pretty dark, which was unexpected but a nice surprise. All I wanted to do was keep reading and reading until I knew every thing that would happen.
I just really, really enjoyed this one and I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.

--Julie

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
[March 10, 2009]


In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?
I kind of loved this.

It was creepy without scaring me and beautifully written. I loved Mary and just...all of the characters. They were perfectly balanced and flawed and just wonderful.

The story itself was something I haven't read before. I've never read a zombie book and most dystopians are more futuristic, so this was a nice change of pace.

I loved the writing and the story and I'm really excited to get into the sequel (companion?)! But I'm waiting to read it until after I get the third book so I can just sit and read those two without any waits.

I definitely loved and recommend this book! Even though my review's short, it's 'cause I read this book a month ago and I'm so sleepy I tried to spell dystopian with a 'z.' So, yeah, be happy with a short review.

--Julie

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

Mad Love
Suzanne Selfors
Walker Books for Young Readers
[January 4, 2011]

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother-and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth-that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

This was an unexpected read.

The cover makes this seem kind of light and funny and while not totally happy, not a heavy story. And while it wasn't depressing and was very hopeful, it was a lot heavier than I thought it'd be. It touched on a lot of different topics that most books don't touch on. I kind of liked that.

I also loved how Psyche and Cupid's story was woven in. I loved hearing this story and how it was told differently. Errol was difficult, but he was honest and snarky and I just enjoyed his character and his story, the one he told and the one he lived during the book.

I really liked all the characters. Alice and her neighbors and the love interest and what we learned of her mom made me really intrigued. Honestly, all the characters were great and fun and I wanted to hug all of them.

The writing, while not the best, was entertaining enough. It kept me engaged. The story was very fast paced and it seemed like not much was happening but a lot was happening at any given time. It made it kind of hard for me to want to pick it up but also hard to put it down.

While no masterpiece, this is kind of entertaining. Heavier than it seems but not depressing or really dark. It's something you could definitely check out.

--Julie

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