Monday, 31 October 2011

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Blood and Chocolate
by Annette Curtis Klause


Summary: Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He's fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian's divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?
I hated the first book that I read from Annette Curtis Klause (The Silver Kiss); it seriously almost bored me to tears, I just couldn’t stand the book and it put me off reading any more of her books for so long. And then, after many recommendations, I finally read Blood and Chocolate. And I love it.

I read the book a few years ago and I’ve wanted to reread it again for a while but still haven’t had the chance - but, seeing as I’m in a major reading funk right now, I figured I’d review some old favourites.

If you’ve seen the movie of Blood and Chocolate, do not let that make you think you know how the book goes - the book and the movie aren’t alike at all aside from character names. The setting, the story, the ending, the character personalities…all of it was changed for the movie to the point where they could’ve just changed some names and passed it off as original. I like both versions, but personally, I think the book is much, much better.

What I remember loving about the book was that it was so different from other supernatural YA books. They usually all followed the new girl moves to town and meets a mysterious boy (who saves her life) or a new mysterious boy moves to town (and saves her life) plot - and there’s such a predictability to that. But this book was something different and I loved that.

I loved Vivienne as a narrator because she was something different too. She wasn’t the human girl living out her life until a supernatural boy came along and swept her off her feet - she was the special one, she was the bad ass and there was a uniqueness to her personality too because you could tell by the way she was written that she wasn’t just a human. She had these animalistic instincts and this fierceness to her that were more wolf than girl but it was woven perfectly into her personality (it kind of bugs me in supernatural books where the supernatural half of a romance always seems to have to change to be with the human, they have to go against their very instincts to be more human and I like that this book had supernatural creatures comfortable in their own skin and not trying to be something they aren't).

The romance in the book was well done, it showed love and infatuation and it had flaws and it wasn’t all swooning and rainbows and butterflies. There’s two love interests but it’s not one of those annoying love triangles (the romance is one of the biggest let downs in the movie version, it ruined the best part of it). I don’t remember too much about Aidan or what I felt about him while reading, but I remember loving Gabriel and him being worth swooning over.

Seeing as it’s been so long since I read the book and some details have slipped my mind, I’ll leave the review at that. The book is on my Want To Re-Read list and I really recommend it (and I recommend the movie too - you can watch the movie without being spoiled for the book).

Later.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

In My Mailbox (91)/Breaking Down the Monster (3)

Julie:

So, busier week this week. As fun as it was, I kinda hope it doesn't continue. Because just...so many books. Also, Breaking Down the Monster is in the second half of the video. I'm too lazy to list all the books, but yeah. Basically, I read all the books from last month that aren't in this video, plus a couple one or two you've seen reviews for this month.


For Review:
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Havoc by Jeff Sampson
Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Won:
Ruling Passion by Alyxandra Harvey

...Gift?:
Iron Knight VIP Pass

What's in your box this week?

--Julie

Lanna:



For Review:

Battle Fatigue by Mark Kurlansky - not really my kind of book but I'll give it a try. :)

And forgot to add it to the picture but I got  Reckoning by Lili St. Crow - I have I think book 1, 3 and...4? in the series so I'm gonna get the others and try to read it soon.


Bought:

Abandon by Meg Cabot
Mist by Kathryn James 

With The Mist, it was honestly a pure case of cover lust with that one. The picture online and even in that photo doesn't do it justice - it's all shiny and rainbow-ish and one of the prettiest covers ever in person. Here's a better picture (ignore the fact that my nails/fingers are stained with fake blood - I was turning my nephew into a zombie for a halloween party):



Gift:

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh

To explain that and the other random things - my best friend asked what I wanted for my birthday a while ago and I jokingly said, "A pony! A book!" and...she actually got me a freaking pony (that I get to paint!) and a book (a book I really wanted), because she is awesome. She also works in a herbal shop so she gave me a bunch of teas to try (because I'm addicted to spiced chai) and bought me lip balm in the flavour of cherry chupa chups (my favourite lollipops ever!).

And as for the Breaking Down the Monster part - well, if you saw my reading funk discussion post then you'll know that I've not done much reading this month at all, so reading my book stack was kind of a fail and seeing as I'm doing NaNoWriMo for November, I won't be choosing any books for November; I'm just going to read whatever review books I get/have for November.
Later.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Julie is Bored, So You Should Take this Survey

With college applications almost done and nothing but NaNoWriMo ahead, I'm...I'm kind of bored with what we're doing. It feels like almost all we're doing lately is reviews and blog tours and In My Mailbox. Which was great for the hectic schedule I had, but now as we prep for November and December (we need to start coming up with blogoversary things...crap. Put ideas in the comment section?), I want to do more. Especially since yes, reviews are probably going to be harder for us to do. So, give us your thoughts in the survey below!


If there's anything I left out, just throw it in a comment (or the comment section). I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys think!

--Julie

Discussion: Reading Funks//The Universe Does Not Want Me To Read...

I like to read. A lot. And yes, I am stating the obvious but you know, sometimes the moment just demands that the obvious be stated. So yeah: I really like to read.

When I haven’t read a book in a while, I don’t really feel like myself.

…I haven’t read a book in a while. Well, technically it’s not been that long - but it feels like forever. I’ve only read about 3 books this month and it feels almost impossible to finish books. I started reading two (more than two actually, but I’m only going to be referring to the two good ones) and they’re awesome - the kind of books that you can tell right from the start that you’re going to love them.

And yet, I can’t finish them! I keep putting the books down and doing other things instead and then I tell myself, “I’ll read before I go to sleep.” and then I only get like two pages into the book before totally crashing out (sometimes not even two pages).

I know a whole lot of it basically comes down to this:


But seriously, WHY do I procrastinate even when it comes to doing things that I want to do? I understand procrastinating to get out of tidying your room or homework or whatever but I love reading and I want to read so - gah!

And…AND! It’s like the universe doesn’t want me to read or something. I decided that I was going to sit down and read a book cover to cover in one sitting (granted, I chose one of the tiny SimonPulse romcoms but still) and then have a read-a-thon this weekend. This is what happened:

I was up all night ill and then I had to go to my best friends house for her boything/my other friends birthday party on Friday, so that was the read-a-thon delayed until Saturday.

NEXT! I get home…to find that my dog had peed on my book. Perhaps in some sort of
protest for me abandoning him to go to my best friends house. He actually jumped up onto my bed and peed on the exact spot where I left the book I was reading - he has never done that before (peeing on my bed - ew) and he so must have been aiming for the book because he had an entire double bed of places to pee, but no, he goes for the few inches covered in book. So I had to throw the book out unable to finish it.

Saturday: the day I was going to read-a-thon. I woke up to find I have a major cold (sneezing, gooey nose, sore throat, killer headache etc.), so I had to take painkillers and wait for them to kick in before I could even think about reading.
But then - THEN! Power cut. And that would be okay except it’s one of those dark, gloomy days and I don’t have decent enough light to read.

THEN! THEN! As I was sitting in a zombie-like state wearing pj’s, sporting some major bed hair and wrapped in a leopard print slanket in the living room…my step dads brother and his girlfriend from Belgium and her kid arrived.


So I hastily ran upstairs to make myself look more human, less walking dead but now they’re all downstairs and the power is back on but I can’t read when there’s
visitors downstairs talking and laughing and such.

And when they leave, which may not be until very much later (they’re crashing at my sisters house tonight),  if it isn’t too late then I need to go out and buy new bedding thanks to the dog incident because right now I’m using the spare bedding (which my niece and nephew use when they stay).

So yeah…I’m in a total book funk right now and any serious attempt I’ve made to fix the situation has resulted in - not reading. And the reason I’m writing this post has multiple purposes:

1. I needed to whine/rant/vent about my annoying problem.
2. Seeing as me not reading books = me not reviewing books, I just wanted to let you all know why I’ve been MIA (but Julie, being the awesome co-blogger that she is, has been keeping the blog updated).

It's times like this when I particularly feel bad for bloggers who blog on their own - I have an awesome co-blogger and so even if I'm being awful and not posting, Julie's there and she's usually posting stuff (and it works both ways, if she's away somewhere or hasn't done much reading then I post more in her absense). I can't imagine book blogging without her. 

Next month may not have much reading going on either because of NaNoWriMo but I want to maybe have a read-a-thon type week next week and get at least some books read and reviewed (although seeing as NaNo starts next week too, it may be difficult). I have some DNF reviews to go up and I could bring back some of the old features we used to do (old skool favourites or the cover comparisons or whatever) because it feels weird not posting anything on the blog.

Does anyone else have this problem? And how do you get out of it? And, anyone else want to read-a-thon this week too? And are any of you going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year?

But yeah, the goal for next week:

Later.

p.s. The last picture? You should check out the Hyperbole and a Half blog, she's hilarious (picture actually said "clean all the things" though...)

Friday, 28 October 2011

YA Spooktacular is Dropping In!

Welcome to the next stop on the YA Spooktacular tour, hosted by Frenzy of Noise and Wicked Awesome Books!

This year, there are three stories written by some of your favorite authors that will be posted throughout the week. Each story is a choose your adventure, where you get to decide what path to send the character down. Sometimes you live, sometimes you die, and sometimes you fall into a pit of no return.

There are also some TRICKS or TREATS scattered throughout the story, where you can enter to win prizes and get bonus points toward the prize packs. The prize pack for will be story #3 will be up tomorrow! On Halloween day, the grand prize pack will be posted. You can click the banner above to see a full list of the YASpooktacular prize packs!

Today, we're fortunate enough to have Part 2 of The Corn Stalker. To read Part 1, click the banner below.




Author bio:

Kimberly Derting was born and raised in the Seattle area, with the exception of a few short stints in Phoenix, Boise, and San Jose.  Kimberly first fell in love with writing (giving up her childhood dreams of being a Veterinarian, and then her later aspirations of "lady trucker") when she signed up for Journalism as her 7th grade elective. It was supposed to an easy A, but it soon became her passion. She moved on to be Copy Editor of the high school yearbook so that she could correct other people's writing mistakes and fill in when they missed their deadlines.

The Body Finder was Kim’s debut, followed by Desires of the Dead and the third book in the series, The Last Echo, will be released in April 2012. Kim’s short story, ‘Skin Contact’, can be found in the anthology Enthralled and The Pledge, a new dystopian book, will be coming out this November from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

You can find Kimberly...

 

And her books are here:



Now, unto the story!


THE CORN STALKER



Kimberly Derting



But it was too late.  Before I could stop her, Kara untangled her fingers from mine and was already moving toward the sound…that strange, off-key whistling.  The whistling that had nothing to do with the wind.  This was something else altogether.  Something out of place amid the corn maze.  



“Kara—” I called out, wishing I’d yelled louder.   Wishing my voice hadn’t quivered, that I hadn’t sounded so pathetic.  “Wait up!”



There was no answer, and I forced myself to start walking, following her, to where she’d slipped between the tall, crooked stalks.



I thought she’d be there, waiting for me, giving me that look that said: I told you this was a bad idea.  I told you corn mazes were stupid.



But I didn’t see her.  



The whistling came again.  It was closer now, and my throat tightened around my words.

 “Kara!” This time I yelled as loud as I could.  “Where are you?”



There was no answer.  Just the wind and the rustling of the corn stalks.   



“Dammit,” I muttered beneath my breath, hoping this wasn’t some sort of joke. Hoping

Kara wasn’t trying to get back at me for dragging her out here in the middle of the night.



Behind me, I heard something snap—a twig or a branch—and even though that creepy, effed-up whistling sound had been coming from somewhere ahead of me, I moved faster anyway, practically running now.  I felt clumsy and unsure in the darkness.  



As long as I stay on the path, I told myself.  As long as I follow the maze, I’ll be okay.



Eventually I’ll find my way out.



Eventually I’ll find Kara.



But even as I repeated those words over and over in my head, I felt my foot catch on something laying across the trail in front of me. It was both solid and soft, and out of place on the path.  I was moving too fast to catch myself in time, to stop myself from falling.



My arms flailed as I careened forward, trying to grab onto something…a cornstalk…anything.  Instead, I hit the compacted dirt with an Oomph!



I lay there, on my stomach, for several seconds before I tried to rolled over.  Pain shot up my ankle, and I winced, biting back a yelp as I realized that I’d just screwed myself.  If I hadn’t fractured my ankle, I’d at least sprained it pretty bad.



I reach down to prod it, and my fingertips slid over something sticky as they reached my jeans.  Something wet and warm.



My eyes widened, trying to see through the darkness, to get a better view of what it was that I’d tripped on. All I could make out were shadows around me.  I reached for my cell phone, my heart sinking when I realized there were no bars all the way out here.  



I held the small LED screen up, illuminating the area around me.



And that was when I saw it.



Lying in the path…a body. Covered in blood.



A prop, I tried to convince myself. But my stomach plummeted as I inched closer.  I tried to wrap my mind around something that was nagging me, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.



It wasn’t until I was reaching out to check for a pulse that I realized what was bothering me.



It was the orange hoodie.



The body—the girl on the ground—was wearing an orange hoodie.



If you think the body is Kara’s, go to Mindful Musings. http://themindfulmusingsbookblog.blogspot.com/



If you think the body is someone else’s, go to Fiktshun. http://www.fiktshun.com/fiktshun/

But before you go, I have something for you!


If you click on the banner, you can enter to win:
  • An ARC of Frost by Wendy Delsol
  • An ARC of Frost by Marianna Baer
  • Bitter Frost and Forever Frost by Kailin Gow 
  And for the grand giveaway for this story, make sure to hop over to Escape from Reality's blog! And on October 31, be sure to head to one of our host blogs (linked at top of post) to enter a grand prize giveaway!

--Julie

Thursday, 27 October 2011

So, Guess What Today Is

Glitter Words





Once again, it is Lanna's birthday! She's another year older and I can't really say anything else about that because soon I'll be another year older and then we'll be back to where we started. So, yeah.

But leave Lanna lots of birthday love in the comments because this blog would probably fail epically without her.

Also puppy pictures. Those are good too.




--Julie

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi

Putting Makeup on Dead People
Jen Violi
Hyperion Books
[May 24, 2011]

In the spring of her senior year, Donna Parisi finds new life in an unexpected place: a coffin.

Since her father’s death four years ago, Donna has gone through the motions of living: her friendships are empty, she’s clueless about what to do after high school graduation, and her grief keeps her isolated, cut off even from the one parent she has left. That is until she’s standing in front of the dead body of a classmate at Brighton Brothers’ Funeral Home. At that moment, Donna realizes what might just give her life purpose is comforting others in death. That maybe who she really wants to be is a mortician.

This discovery sets in motion a life Donna never imagined was possible. She befriends a charismatic new student, Liz, notices a boy, Charlie, and realizes that maybe he's been noticing her, too, and finds herself trying things she hadn’t dreamed of trying before. By taking risks, Donna comes into her own, diving into her mortuary studies with a passion and skill she didn’t know she had in her. And she finally understands that moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting someone you love.

Jen Violi’s heartfelt and funny debut novel is a story of transformation—how one girl learns to grieve and say goodbye, turn loss into a gift, and let herself be exceptional...at loving, applying lipstick to corpses, and finding life in the wake of death.
So this is a book.

It's a book about life and death and grief and love and how you cope with all of it. It's a book about doing what makes you happy, no matter what the consequences might be. It's a book that the cover wouldn't make you think it is.

Donna grew a lot in the story. She developed who she was and what she wanted with her life. She was determined and strong willed and passionate about this. And she learned how to grieve. She had a hard time dealing with that but her discoveries helped her with that.

All of the characters involved in Donna's life helped her learn what she needed, and I really liked that. I appreciate having every character and every action reflect on the character's development. Everything's relevant, which is especially important in shorter books.

This book was sad in an almost happy way. It was a book I took my time on, reading slowly but surely. It's a book I needed to digest and think about.

Overall, this is a book you need to be in the right place to read. It's a book that's very complicated and intriguing and thought provoking. I liked it, not as much as I wanted to, but enough to get me interested in Jen's future books.

--Julie

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Between the Sea and Sky
Jaclyn Dolamore
Bloomsbury USA
[October 25, 2011]

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.
 What can I say about this book?

I guess I'll start with the world building. This story is, obviously, not set in the real world, but it still felt a lot like the real world. The way Jaclyn wrote, it came off like historical fiction with this magical touch woven in. I could picture the worlds of our mermaids and our "winged race" just as well. The only thing I really want to know more about was the history of these two different races and how they came to be, but it wasn't something that bothered me while I was reading. It was something I didn't realize I wanted until I sat down to write this review and remembered it wasn't there. But it definitely did not take away from the story.

 The writing is absolutely gorgeous. It was so fluid and vivid and I wanted to hug it. Jackie has this magnificent talent with words that she told this whole story in less than 300 pages, but it didn't feel like a short read. And when I did finish, it didn't need more. But I wanted more. So I could make out with it, or something.

Esmerine and Alandare...oh these two. They bring the adorable and the romance. To me, Alan was very Mr. Darcy-esque, which always makes me happy. And Esmerine was this unique, strong person. She was dedicated, loyal, passionate. And a book-geek. We all know that this is a wonderful thing.

Each character was well crafted. Esmerine's younger sisters weren't really well defined, but they didn't play a major role in the story. But beside them, pretty much all the characters had their own distinct personality and had a role, big or small, in how the story moved.

What it boils down to is this: I want more books like this one. Fantastic world building, beautiful writing, an adorable romance with just a touch of the forbidden. And a lot of love. Family, friends, partners. All kinds of love and relationships and what people are willing to do for those relationships. All done WELL.

Please, please, please go get this book. It's gorgeous and wonderful and needs more love and attention than it's getting. Most definitely one of my favorites for the year.

--Julie

Sunday, 23 October 2011

In My Mailbox (90)

Lanna:



For Review:


Fracture by Megan Miranda - I was going to request this one on NetGalley and then it showed up today. It looks really interesting, can't wait to read it.

Exile by Jakob Ejersbo - I don't really know what this one is about, even after reading the summary I was still a bit, "Huh?" about it but I'm excited to read it. I just wish it had a better summary that was more short and to the point. It sounds like it has a kind of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo back story where the trilogy was published after the author had died and it's being translated to English after publication in another language thing.

Bought:

A Game of Thrones by George R. Martin - I love the show, I wasn't going to read the books because I've heard the show stays pretty true to the book but I changed my mind and decided to check them out.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman - I always hear amazing things about Neil Gaiman but the only book of his that I read (The Graveyard Book) I wasn't that into so I wanted to try another one to see if it worked better for me.

So what'd you guys get this week?

Later.

Julie:



For Review:
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Won:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Gifted:
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers + Last Rite bookmarks

Just...all of the awesome things are here. Yup, they are.

Any input on these books?

--Julie

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Carrier of the Mark
by Leigh Fallon


Summary: Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.
I was really excited to read this book and, well, it was kind of a let down. I hate writing negative reviews but I just wasn’t very into this book - it was okay, but that’s only because the last hundred or so pages redeemed it a little, the first 200 were a chore to get through.

I’ll split the review into two; the first 200 pages and the rest.

So, for the first 200 pages…I hate comparing books to Twilight, but something about this book just kept reminding me of Twilight in the worst ways (just certain characters reminded me of Twilight characters, the romance, the writing, a few little plot points); that’s not to say it copied Twilight, it definitely didn’t, but it just reminded me of it in a bad way (mostly it reminded me of things I did not like about Twilight).

Normally romance is one of my favourite--if not my actual favourite--parts of a book, but 90% of the time I hated the romance in this. It was insta-love at its worst. She is seriously obsessed with the guy from the first time she sees him staring at her…and they don’t have an actual conversation for like 80 pages or something and yet she is obsessing over him that whole time. And then when they do actually talk and get together it’s just - eugh…they don’t even really TALK about anything aside from their feelings for each other and annoying OTT Q and A type descriptions of the mythology/supernatural element in the book. They don’t get to know each other really.

Actually, most of the conversations in the book go like that - they either talk about the people they're attracted to/"in love" with or they talk about the supernatural things (I'm not kidding, even Megan's conversations with her dad mostly revolve around their love lives)...the only other conversations that seem to be shown are ridiculously dull small talk-ish conversations. If they were real, I would probably not be friends with any of them because I can't be friends with people that can't hold a decent conversation.

The plot was so slow and dull; more than 100 pages in and I was still waiting for it to get interesting and had to force myself to keep reading and even when it started to pick up pace, other things about the story prevented me from liking it.

Other things being the characters. They just felt so…flat and cliché and I didn’t really give a damn about any of them (for most of the book, a crow in the story had the most personality). And the writing. My god, the writing irritated me beyond belief. It wasn’t the worst writing I’ve read, far from it, but the dialogue was terrible most of the time and the writing ticked a few of my pet peeve boxes with things like this:

Bella Swan-esque OTT descriptions of how hot the object of her obsession is:

He was so gorgeous; his lightly tanned skin rippled over his toned body. His dazzling eyes were hidden for the moment behind a pair of dark sunglasses. His defined cheekbones were flushed red from the sea air. His full, curling lips were slightly parted; I wondered what they would feel like, taste like…

I’m sorry, but no. Just no. Do not want. Ease up on the adjectives; he’s pretty, we get it. If I wasn’t holding the book, I would’ve facepalmed so hard it would’ve left bruises.

Descriptions like this (one of the things that had my brain screaming Twilight at me - I hate the writing in the Twilight books and this book was riddled with all the same flaws that the writing in Twilight had):

Crap! I’d better hurry. I chucked on what I was wearing last night, giving it a quick sniff to make sure it didn’t smell like fish; then I pulled on my Converse and ran down the stairs. I gasped in horror as I caught sight of myself in the mirror. Whoa, hair. Calm yourself. I quickly pulled it into a ponytail and slicked on some lip gloss and mascara.
It was weighed down with ridiculous amounts of details that no one gives a crap about. I don’t care if the character is making dinner or brushing her teeth or whatever other day-to-day thing she is doing, unless it is some way important for the reader to know, I do not care (I get that some of that stuff has to be included as filler stuff but it should be used in moderation).

Now, onto the positives (i.e. the post-page 200 part of the book…200 being a rough estimate):

The mythology/supernatural part (not sure which category it’d fall under) of the story was pretty original and parts of it were quite interesting. The only issue I had there was the way it was written having the pacing go from quick to dragging, and whenever they were explaining aspects of the supernatural side of things, they’d get very…encyclopedia/information dump-ish and would talk in a way people don’t actually talk (just one of the ways the dialogue was bad most of the time).

Rian and Fionn’s stories were the most interesting part of the whole book to me. I liked their characters best (and Aine, although she kept reminding me of Alice Cullen from Twilight for some reason) and it was when they started playing a bigger part in the story and their back stories were introduced that I got more into the book.

The romance was still very…eugh, but by that point I’d just begun to accept the fact that two planks of wood would have more on-page chemistry than their characters and accepted the insta-loveness (a reason for the latter was sort of given eventually but it didn't make the insta-love any less annoying and it came so late in the book that it barely counted). I just…I hated how the romance was handled in the book. I could handle insta-love if the characters actually had conversations about EACH OTHER following the obsessed-at-first-sight stage to convince me that they genuinely got to know each other and fell in love but it just didn’t really happen.

For me, the book was easy to put down, not easy to pick up again. I’ve seen plenty of positive reviews of the book (although I haven't read any yet cause I didn't want to be influenced by them but they must've liked enough about the book to warrant the four and five star ratings I saw), so it could just be that the book wasn’t really my kind of thing or I was in the wrong mood to read a book like this right now making me judge it more harshly, so I still recommend checking it out. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t great either…I’d rate it maybe 2.5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Stasia Ward Kehoe on Why She Writes in Verse


Today, I have the wonderful Stasia Ward Kehoe on the blog! She was kind enough to answer a question as part of the AUDITION (FAB book, if you haven't read my review) blog tour.


 

You can also enter in a giveaway hosted by Stasia!

Look at all the amazing prizes! Just click the picture to be taken to enter!

Good luck all! And be sure to check out AUDITION!

--Julie

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races
Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press
[October 18, 2011]

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

It's no secret that the werewolves and I do not really agree. But in the first two Shiver books, I still really enjoyed Maggie's writing. So I heard about this book and was intrigued by the idea. I figured with the idea and her writing, I would love this.

But not so much.

I can't really pinpoint what it was. The characters were all complex and they had a lot of different factors to consider and they were all individuals, except the characters that weren't supposed to be individuals. Puck and Sean were just so adorable and kind of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy-esque. I appreciated that.

The writing was Maggie-fabulous. Pretty and flowy and wonderful. It's what you expect from Maggie. And the story IS different and entertaining and interesting.

But the book was so slow.

It takes place over a little more than a month. So you'd think it'd go pretty fast, but I just couldn't make myself sit and read it for long periods of time. I found myself daydreaming about the other books on my TBR pile for the month. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the story itself. The pace and I just didn't connect properly.

Others may love this. Between timing (I seem to be in the mood for faster paced reads lately), a busy schedule, and the pace over all, it just wasn't right for me right now. But I definitely think it's something to try if you're in the right mood.

--Julie

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Judging Books by Their Cover

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the FAB girls at The Broke and the Bookish and sometimes I decide to participate.

This week, we're talking about covers that made us buy the book. I'm...no, I'm not really ashamed to admit I do this kind of often. But usually I read the summary before ACTUALLY buying...usually.
 

1. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

I know some people say, "Ewwww, feet!" Well, that doesn't bother me. Instead I say, "Ewwww, werewolves!" But then I bought this book anyway and really, really enjoyed it. The sequel is equally pretty, and sitting on my TBR pile.

 

2. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Long story short: I went through a paranormal phase and knew this book had paranormal aspects, but the historical fiction part put me off (I KNOW) until finally I caved into the pretty of the covers. The picture here does not do this cover justice. The whole series is just gorgeous. I only have the third book in hardcover now, but I plan on getting all of them.


3. Ruby Red by Kiersten Gier

I was kind of indifferent to this book. I knew what it was about and I knew it was technically historical fiction with time travel, but I just had little interest. Then I saw the cover in person and knew I had to have it.


 4. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

I know, I know, why wouldn't I have wanted this one on summary alone? I'm not sure. The summary just didn't interest me that much. Maybe because I prefer my historical fiction in Europe or NYC? But who can say no to this cover?



5. Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Now, I have nothing against contemporary fiction. It just doesn't have as much of an appeal to me, unless it's a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Though, the contemporary I DO read ends up being among my favorites. This one's no exception. I was put off by the idea of the romance not working out, but the cover was just too gorgeous!


 6. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

I'd never read a Courtney Summers book before, but something about this cover. I don't even know what it is. The colors? The photos in the background? I just...I dunno. But I love it and so I wanted it.




7. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Again, not my kind of historical fiction. Just not a fan of the crazies and this sounded more psychological than romance or anything. But the cover, and the promise of A romance, finally won me over.


 8. Shadows Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

When it came out, I remember a bit of a buzz over this one, but not a whole lot. I do remember quite a few people did not like this cover. I completely disagree. I LOVE the bright orange on the background. I mean, isn't that awesome? And the font has a bit of a creepy feel to it. Just overall, awesome.


9. Plain Kate by Erin Bow

The summary, again, just didn't appeal to me all that much. But this cover? I love the blue on the gold and I love the cat in the background and I just love how it all fits with the story.


10. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I know! I just really wasn't into faeries much when I first restarted reading YA. But this gorgeousness mixed with the rave reviews made me know I NEEDED this book. Something I really, really glad about.





So, what books did you fall in mad cover lust for?

--Julie

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Virtuosity
Jessica Martinez
Simon Pulse
[October 18, 2011]

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better? 


Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.


Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

 This was a really beautifully written story.

I loved how real Carmen was. I've been a violinist and while I never went pro or anything (obviously), the way she behaved with her violin and her dedication was realistic and genuine. It was clear how important the violin was, but also how important her independence became.

I know a lot of people complain about how parents seem to disappear in YA, but Carmen's mom and step-dad were there with her all the time. They really cared about Carmen and her career, even if they didn't always makes the best decisions. They stayed involved. It was different and refreshing.

Jeremy...oh Jeremy. Sometimes he pissed me off, other times he had me melting along with Carmen. I was so torn on his true motivation, but I think in the end I liked him. I liked him for Carmen and I liked what he did for her in the long run.

I really loved the whole plot of this book. The love story and the violin and the anxiety problems. I like that it was something that could genuinely happen to a young violinist. And I liked that it wasn't predictable. There were things that happened that I didn't see coming and things that made me gasp and things that I still think about and shake my head. And the ending was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

The writing was beautiful, really. It was gorgeous and flowed well and kept me hooked for the whole story. I'm hoping that all of Jessica's books are like this, because if they are, I will insist on getting all of them.

I really, really, really recommend this book. It's absolutely fantastic, especially if you've ever been a performer.

--Julie

Monday, 17 October 2011

Innocent Darkness COVER REVEAL!

So, you wanna see a pretty cover for an awesome book?


What is this book about you may ask?

Wish. Love. Desire. Live.

Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.

In the past year, I've been come pretty good friends with Suzanne and she's the sweetest, most generous person. She's even been kind enough to let me read this in manuscript form, and let me tell you, it's AMAZING. Seriously guys, add this one to your wishlist and get your hands on it ASAP.

--Julie

Lola and the Boy Next Door


Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins


Summary: Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Stephanie Perkins’ first book, Anna and the French Kiss, was an amazing book and I adored it, so this book had a lot to live up to. And it did…but also didn’t.

I’m going to split this review in two, because - I just have to, to explain the contrary did and didn't.

First part:

Lola and the Boy Next Door, as a book on it’s own, pretending it’s the first book of Stephanie’s I’ve ever read: I loved it. The book was awesome.

The characters felt unique and fun and I loved them and while the plot wasn’t exactly original, the characters and Stephanie’s writing added an edge of originality to it.

Lola bugged me sometimes, but in general, I thought she was totally fab. The only time she really annoyed me was her Max related issues - you’ll know what I mean, it’s one of those situations that you just know exactly where the story is going and it’s so blatantly obvious to everyone but the main character (reader included) that you want to scream at the book? Yeah, she was like that. The Max thing just felt like it was thrown in to add conflict…and I get that the book probably wouldn’t have worked without it, but it was kind of a cliché conflict (and she herself actually used an extremely similar variation of it in her first book).

I loved Lola’s crazy fashion sense and the fact that she’s outgoing enough to be that way. I loved that she has two dads as her parents (who were both awesome characters themselves). I loved the setting of the story, I loved character cameos from the first book (okay, so much for "pretending this was the first book of hers I read" thing, but it's a positive so...) and I loved Cricket. Cricket was just…*happy sigh*. It made a nice change seeing the nice guy in a triangle being the one portrayed as the most desirable.

So yeah…I loved the book. And it made me smile, it was a very feel-good-ish book. But something about it felt…unfinished. Or over finished. Or like it could’ve ended in a better way or had more too it. It felt like there was something missing when I closed the last page.

Which leads me to part two of this review:

Lola and the Boy Next Door vs. Anna and the French Kiss.

As I’ve already said, I loved Anna - it was amazing and it put Stephanie Perkins on my instant- read list. And maybe the something I felt was missing at the end of Lola was that feeling I got when I finished Anna.

Anna and the French Kiss was just better. I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door, but it didn’t leave me with the same wow-feeling that Anna did. After finishing Anna, my first thoughts were how amazing it is and how the mediocre cover and awful title don't do it justice and how it's sad that some people won't read it because of the title and cover and how much I want to force my best friend to read it (which I did and she loved it)...I didn't think any of those things with Lola.

It fit it's chick-lit-ish cover (granted, it is a better and more fitting cover than Anna's was, but still), I'm not too eager to force it on my best friend because I'm really not sure whether or not she'd like it (she has an aversion to chick lit unless it goes that extra mile like Anna did).

While I loved the characters of Lola, they didn’t get under my skin to the same extent as Anna's characters (although they were definitely more unique and quirky) and while I loved the setting of the story, Anna is set in Paris and there was something so enchanting about that and the way Paris almost became a character in itself in that book.

Lola definitely maintained Stephanie’s spot on my instant-read list, maybe even got her onto my favourite authors list, and I definitely loved it. Just not to the same level as her first book - and I genuinely can’t tell if it’s because Anna was the better book or if it’s just that Anna was my first Stephanie Perkins book and, uh, you never forget your first… (I know, I know, bad metaphor *face palm*) but you get what I mean. I have a tendency to favour the first books I read from authors that I love (John Green, Lucy Christopher, Melina Marchetta etc.), so this could be a case of the second book not being able to reach the pedestal of the first or it could be that it just wasn't as good, I genuinely don't know.

But anyway, if you haven’t read this book or Anna, then go read it and please, please, please do not judge the books by their titles or covers which are just…no. Do not approve. Although, as I said, Lola definitely suit’s the cover more than Anna’s does.

Later.

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