Saturday, 31 December 2011

Books I Read and Never Reviewed

Sometimes I read a book and I know I'll need to review it at some point...but I just don't know when. And I put it off and put it off so long that it just never happens. Other times, I just don't have anything to say about a book or I feel like it doesn't fit on the blog. I figured I could at least bring these books to your attention with a little bit about what I think of them.
 

1. The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley

I really did enjoy this one, don't get me wrong. But I expected to fall head over heels in love with it. I'd been wanting to read it for over a year and I think I just let the expectations get too high. It's definitely an enjoyable historical fiction read, set during Queen Elizabeth I's reign, but not what I hoped for.



2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Why didn't I review this one? Well...I wasn't sure what to say. Everyone seems to be falling over themselves to adore this book, but I didn't click with it. Was it well written? Sure. Was it a pretty cool read? Sure. Did I like the characters? Yeah. So what's wrong with it? I think the answer is me. I just can't pinpoint anything wrong with this book. I should've, theoretically, loved it. Because I couldn't figure out this flaw, I just kept putting it off and now it seems kind of silly to review it at all because I barely remember it. A wonderful book but we just didn't have the right chemistry.


3. Austenland by Shannon Hale

I actually loved this book. I'm not sure why I didn't throw it in to my Favorites of 2011 post. But I felt like it didn't really fit with the blog and I'd only review it if I was so totally at a loss for any post and frantic. I highly, highly recommend this book and Midnight in Austenland, the sequel, is one of my most anticipated books of 2012 (I was going to include in yesterday's post, but since I never reviewed the book, I again thought it didn't really fit).


4. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

The reason I didn't review this one is pretty simple. I put it off for a while and eventually decided I could just do a whole series review. I had every intention of getting all the books in this series and having a read a thon over the summer. That didn't work out the way I planned. As of now I've got books 2, 4, 7, 8 and 9. I'm planning to buy book 3 in the next couple days, but still. I don't want to continue this series until I own all the books. Maybe someday I'll get my read-a-thon and review the series as a whole. But for the record, I really enjoyed the first book and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. Definitely recommend it if you want something light, funny, and romantic.


5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book is brilliant. Beautifully written and well crafted. Confusing at times, but lovely over all. It's even an honorary favorite of the year. But I just never felt the need to review it. It felt like it was a just for me book. And I wasn't sure I could say anything other then what I've already said. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, I loved the ending, and I recommend it to anyone who wants something magical.



6. The Color of Water by James McBride
Honestly, I was just sick of this book. I read it for school and had to take quizzes and write essays...I had absolutely no interest into then reviewing the book. It's not a book I read for the blog and it's not necessarily a book I would recommend. It was good and interesting, but just not my taste. If it's your kind of book, go for it. But it's just not mine. Probably because I had to work with it so much.

7. The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

I picked this book up on a whim around the time Stay came out. Deb Caletti was getting a lot of interest and I decided it was time to read one of her books. This one seemed the most interesting of the ones BJs had. I ended up liking it a lot, it was even on the favorites shelf for a while, but it was nothing super memorable to me. I can't even remember why I didn't review it. This book just didn't leave much of a mark on me and I wasn't sure what to tell you about it. All I can tell you is that I intend to read more of Deb's works in the future.


8. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I'll be totally honest, I read this because I wanted to see the movie because Rob Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon were the stars and I adore them. This book became another favorite and actually remained on my favorites shelf. I loved reading about the circus and I loved the tension. I loved seeing the contrast from young Jacob and old Jacob. The old Jacob made me laugh. Marlena and Rosie were wonderful. I just really, really loved this book. Don't ask me why I decided not to review it.



9. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

I had this book and I had Forgotten by Cat Patrick and I decided to save this for after reading Forgotten because I felt like I'd like this one more. I ended up not really feeling anything towards it. It was a book. Stuff happened. A character had no memory. It was so meh and blah, I had no urge to talk about it or review it. I didn't even remember reading it until I was going through to make this list. It was nothing special, nothing for me to say about it.


10. Love by Numbers Series by Sarah MacLean (link leads to first book)

I've never really read romance novels before, but I loved The Season too much not to read more of Sarah's books. I ended up falling in love with this whole series and the heroines and the heroes. These books are also addictive. I think I ended up staying awake way longer than I intended to read each of these books. I'm sad the series is over, but SO excited to read Sarah's next series, which if I remember right has four books.

11. Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot

I finished reading this when the new year started, so I think it technically counts as a 2011 book. I enjoyed this book a lot. In my tiny goodreads review, I said it was like a slightly altered Pride and Prejudice. And y'all should know me and my Pride and Prejudice retellings by now. I really enjoyed this book. It was a light, fun, quick read that I recommend if you can find it.



12. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

This was such a quick read, I think I read all or most of it in school. It was very different from a normal book, not telling the story linearly, but alphabetically. It was cute and sad and wonderful. A romance from beginning to end. You have to think a little bit to make it all make sense, but it's fun. I highly recommend this when you're in need of a quick read.


13. Grace by Elizabeth Scott

This book was so far off from what I expected. I liked it, I did. but I was expected some more action. Instead it was a lot of traveling. And more traveling. And more traveling. I hoped for more from my first Elizabeth Scott book. I didn't have a lot to say about this one. It just...was.



Beyond that, it was a lot of books I started and never finished but intend to someday. A few school books that I kind of read, but not really. A number of sequels including Misguided Angel, Ready or Not, and Haunted.

Hopefully next year, this number will be lower. Or maybe higher if it's mostly books for school. Then I can promise nothing.

--Julie

Friday, 30 December 2011

19 Most Anticipated 2012 Releases

I've already read a number of 2012 releases and I can already tell it's going to be a fabulous book year. We're still in 2011 yet I already have 7 competitors for best books of 2012. But I'm not ruling out other books just yet! These are 12 books that I hope will also join the battle for my favorites next December (Not in any actual order, but numbered because leaving them unnumbered will bother me).

1. The Diviners by Libba Bray

I've loved Libba Bray for years. She's always provided me with something new to explore, a new genre to read. As a person, she's funny and intelligent, and her books are always my favorites. I've got no doubt that she'll pull me in again with a new historical. November's a long ways a way, but hopefully I won't get too anxious.

2. Last Rite by Lisa Desrochers

The end to one of my favorite series! I love these books and the conflict and the legit love triangle because so many supposed love triangles AREN'T love triangles so much as two guys where one will obviously win. But in this series? I wouldn't rule out anyone. Not to mention the fact that my obsession with getting the first book introduced me to Lisa. As sad as I am to see this series go, I'm really excited to see how it all ends and I'm looking forward to whatever Lisa has in store for us in the future.


3. The Selection by Kiera Cass

I don't know what it is about this book that makes me lust for it so. But I see the word "prince" and "caste" and realize there's forbidden romance, but maybe something better out there that's not so forbidden and I get excited. I have no doubt that this is going to be an amazing new series. (Also, maybe y'all are getting sick of girls wearing pretty dresses on covers, but...I'm not. GORGEOUS cover.)


4. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

I love this series. Whole heartedly. And the ending to the last book nearly killed me. I love Sophie and Archer and Jenna and I hate to see them leave, but when you read a cliff hanger like the one in Demonglass, you're ITCHING for the last book so you know what happens and you don't have to worry about another cliffhanger like that in the same series.


 5. Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Fantasy? Check. Romance? Check. Danger? Check. Independent character? Check. A place called Wasteland? Check. An author who's writing voice I know I'll love? Check. This book has everything I could ever ask for. Every. Thing. Maybe even more, if there's werellamas, which isn't impossible. I just need this book guys. NEED.

6. Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Do I need to explain this one? Do I really? Hourglass is now one of my favorite books ever, I love Myra's writing, and...does anything else need to be included? I don't think so. Stare at the pretty cover for a little bit, and let's move on. I've already talked about this book plenty in 2011 and I don't want you all to cringe whenever I bring it up in 2012...which will probably be often.

7. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Arranged marriages, Europe, and assassins, oh my! Sprinkle in some god of Death, mix in a high court and a dash of forbidden romance and what do you get? A book Julie needs. That's really all there is to it.





8. Fever by Lauren DeStefano

I loved Wither so much and from what I've heard, this book is just as fantastic and magical. I haven't read the summary because I'm weird like that, but I've got no doubt I'll love this book as much as I loved Wither.

9. Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Basically, I saw the word "Tudor" and added this to my wishlist. I LOVE the Tudor age and there's just not enough YA books about it, in my opinion. Catherine Howard is definitely not one of my favorite wives, but her friend Kitty fascinates me. I'm interested in seeing how another author portrays Catherine and Kitty and the time they had at court.

10. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

2011 was the year of the perfect book, Divergent being one of them. 2012 is the year of the Sequels to the Perfect Books. Obviously, this one needed to be on my list.

11. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

This one has a lot to do with fairytales, which I obviously adore. It's also coming out from my favorite publisher and the one person I know that's read it loves and thinks I will too and I trust her. This is one I definitely don't want to miss.

12. Crewel by Gennifer Albin

This is one that I can't fully explain. It just sounds wonderful and dark and full of adventure. I love the idea of people weaving time and basically deciding how people's lives will go. And like almost every YA reader, I love a rebel.

 13. A World Away by Nancy Grossman

What can I say, the Amish culture fascinates me. I'm really interested in seeing how it's handled and how the main character will handle her introduction to technology.





14. Shatter Me #2 by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me was yet another Perfect Book. Therefore, I need book 2. I need to know what will happen to Juliette and Adam ASAP.

15. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

This is supposed to be inspired by tsarist Russia and it sounds like it's around the time of the Revolution. Which is my favorite time period in Russia. I'm hoping this will be as interesting as the actual revolution!

16. Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

I ADORED The Girl of Fire and Thorns, so I'm really looking forward to Crown of Embers and what will happen next!
17. Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

I just finished watching Downton Abbey recently and I'm somewhat obsessed. I completely adored the show. And this book seems like the show...except in book form. So, I'm really excited and totally lusting after this book.

18. Venom by Fiona Paul

Murder and forbidden romance and the Renaissance and court life and regular romance and potential sacrifice. This is another book that hits a lot of my "Must Have" buttons.

19. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

I love the idea of this. It kind of reminds me of The Host, but I'm hoping this will be even better and full of more adventure and action.

As much as it bothers me to have 19, I'll leave it there. There's definitely more, but I can't possibly pick a 20th and there's too many to keep going. From my TBR pile, I'm also looking forward to Arcadia Awakens, Magic Under Stone, and A Temptation of Angels. 

Basically, we're all going to go broke buying books in 2012. YAY!

--Julie

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Fracture by Megan Miranda


Fracture
by Megan Miranda


UK release date: January 5th 2012

Summary: Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine - despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?
This book was really, really awesome and I wasn't expecting to love it but I kind of did. It was just - not what I expected at all, but in a really good way.
I loved the characters in this weird way. They drove me nuts half the time and I wanted to pull them out of the novel and scream at them, lecture them or perhaps just knock their heads together - maybe all three simultaneously. But they felt real and flawed and their flaws drove me nuts but it made me like them more because...it made them feel more real (and this sentence just went full circle). 

And I really liked the writing and something about the story left me with that kind of...you know that sort of breathless, on-the-edge-of-your-seat feeling you get watching a horror/thriller movie? The book kind of gave me that feeling while I was reading and I'm not sure why but I like that it did. Some of the plot twists were pretty easy to guess long before the character figured it out but it still kept me hooked from start to finish.

The romance in the book...it had me totally frustrated with the characters most of the time. But it was in that addictive sort of way that, while it's frustrating, it keeps you turning pages wanting the relationships to just be resolved and even though you know who will end up together, you still need to keep reading just so you can read it happening.

I loved how the book didn't turn Delaney into some superhero who could run around saving lives with her shiny new power - it was dealt with in a more raw and real way that makes you really think about life and death and what is right and what is a worse kind of suffering and the difference between right and wrong when it comes to certain things.

The book wasn't perfect, no book is really, and I do wish that some things had maybe been explained a little more or resolved in a bit more detail (particularly the Decker situation) - but while it did leave me wanting more in some areas, I was mostly fine with how the book turned out and how the story ended and it was that good balance of closure and things left up to the imagination. 

But yeah, to sum up, the book was really great and it was addictive and awesome and I'm looking forward to reading whatever Megan Miranda writes next. 

The book rating: 4 or 4.5 out of 5.

Later.

Julie's Reading/Blogging Goals for 2012

I don't think a lot's going to change in 2012 or anything, but I feel like if I share my goals with you, and the couple changes I think might happen, then maybe they'll ACTUALLY happen.

  • I want to have less than 50 books on my TBR pile when I leave for college in August or September. Currently, there's 147 and that number's expected to grow because I haven't even spent my Christmas gift cards and I can now use Netgalley. This means I have to read more, read faster, and be more careful about what books I ADD to my TBR pile. Theoretically, it'll also mean I can schedule ahead for when I'm in college and actually busy. It also means...
  • I'm going to start reviewing sequels. I've always been paranoid about reviewing sequels because I don't want to spoil previous books for you guys. Unless it's a review book, I didn't do it. But there's just too many on my TBR pile that I keep putting off reading because I can't review it. For my goal to work, that has to stop. I don't think you guys will mind too much, will you?
  • It also means more reviews of older books. Both my own and review books that I couldn't read by their release date, so they just kind of sit on my shelf, sad and alone. I don't think you guys will mind since now they'll be books that are easier to get, but it's a goal of mine. I'm kind of excited at the idea. Lately I feel like all I read is the newest and most recent releases. It'd be nice to read something that doesn't pop up on every other blog at the same time.
  • All this in mind, I want to read even more books this year. In 2010, I read about 115. This year, I've read over 120 (not including rereads and manuscripts and such). In 2012, I want to read even more. 130 maybe?
  • I want to keep up with Waiting on Wednesday. As 2012 starts, I may start cutting back so there's fewer books per post (I'm sure you guys will be SO sad), but I do like doing WoW because I can get you guys excited about books I'm excited about. The sooner I get you excited, the more okay you are with me going on and on about a book because you guys are too. It also means I can schedule way in advance.
  • I want to write my reviews within 24 hours of reading the book. I'm really bad at reviewing in a timely fashion, guys. Right now, there's a book I read a month ago that needs to be reviewed. There's some that are from even longer ago that either I'm not sure I want to review or I'm putting off for some other reason. It makes it harder for me to review the book, which means you get lower quality. It's not fair for anyone.
  • This one depends on you, but I kind of want to review more adult books and maybe even some classics. I don't have many, but I have some that are stuck on my TBR pile, waiting for me to get ahead enough to have time to read them without too much guilt. I'd love to get to them without making the blog fall behind. Is it something you guys would like to see? Any ideas on what to do with those?
  • I want to do some kind of theme or challenge week/month. Lanna and I did a challenge with each other to read books the other picked out and I loved it so much, I'll be doing it with Harmony at Harmony's Radiant Reads at the end of January. I would love to do more stuff like this. 
  • I adore discussion posts, so obviously I'd love to continue doing those. If possible, I'd like to do one  every two or so weeks. Obviously, it depends entirely on if we can come up with an idea, but it'd be nice. Discussions are a lot of fun for us and we love seeing you guys participate in them.
  • You guys may have noticed, but I've been reviewing some books pretty early lately. It takes some pressure off me to read a book a few weeks before it's release date to make sure I don't miss the release date, and then I can just post the review so I don't have a post scheduled weeks in advance, but nothing to go up the next day. I don't know if you guys like it, but it's nice for me to do. I promise I won't go more than a month in advance without a reason, though (unless you guys want that?)
  • This one's probably impossible, but I'd love to try and have a post go up everyday. I used to obsess over it, but eventually had to give up because it just wasn't happening. But I'm hoping that just maybe it'll happen this year. Again, not likely, but it'd be nice, don't you think?
So, these are my basic ideas. They're just my ideas, not Lanna's, and I can't guarantee they'll happen, but I'd like them to.

For a lot of these, I want your input. Do you want theme weeks and challenges? Do you like seeing reviews early? Is it okay for me to review adult/classics a bit more often? Do you like Waiting on Wednesday? Will you mind seeing me review sequels? Is there something else you want to see on the blog in 2012?

If majority of you guys are really against one of these ideas, then I'll definitely consider dropping it. We're not going to totally overhaul the blog based on a few opinions, but we do want you guys to like what you're finding here.

Basically, leave your opinions and ideas and such in the comments. I'd love to hear them! And what are your blogging/reading goals for 2012?

--Julie

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Edition Where Things Get (Semi)Random

I've sorted by everything I can think of. So, now we're just going on release dates at the time when I started doing these again (which was November).

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Dutton Juvenile
[January 10, 2012]
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Basically, John Green wrote it. And I feel like his writing just keeps getting better and better so I like his newest book more than the last book. Plus it's from a girl's perspective! And romance! And awesome names! 

Bittersweet
Sarah Ockler
Simon Pulse
[January 3, 2012]
Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life...and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last....
Honestly, this new cover makes me want sugar cookies. But mostly, I love Sarah and I really enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer and I love the idea of this girl who bakes and meets a guy who's really nice, so I want this.

Getting Over Garret Delaney
Abby McDonald
Candlewick Press
[January 24, 2012]
Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly one-sided. The object of her obsession — ahem, affection — is her best friend,Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie’s feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep blue eyes).

For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett’s constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to ’80s indie rock — all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder — until he calls to say he’s fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she’s finally had enough. It’s time for a total Garrett detox!

Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized self-help guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.
I quite honestly cannot explain why I want this one. I just want. 

The Fine Art of Truth and Dare
Melissa Jensen
Speak
[February 16, 2012]
Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?
I really enjoyed Melissa's first book and this one just looks adorable, doesn't it? Also, I have massive cover lust.
 
Bewitching
Alex Flinn
HarperTeen
[March 24, 2012]
Kendra Hilferty, the witch who curses Kyle Kingsbury in Beastly, tells about her immortal existence-how she discovered she was a witch and the various ways she has used her powers to help people throughout the centuries. (Unfortunately her attempts have often backfired.) As it turns out, Kendra has actually had a hand in "Hansel and Gretel," "The Princess and the Pea," and "The Little Mermaid"-but these are not the fairy tales you think you know! Kendra's reminiscences are wrapped around a real-time version of "Cinderella," except the "ugly" stepsister is the good guy. With dark twists, hilarious turns, and unexpected endings, Bewitching is a contemporary read for fairy-tale lovers, fantasy fans, and anyone looking for more Alex Flinn.
I love my fairytales, y'all. You should know this. But this might not be the final cover? I'm not sure.

--Julie

Monday, 26 December 2011

Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey


Stolen Away
by Alyxandra Harvey


UK Release date: January 5th 2012 (the US cover is different too)

Summary: For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won't comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds.

The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife. . . Eloise's aunt Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Now Eloise must become the rescuer. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, she must forge alliances with other Fae, including a gorgeous protector named Lucas, and Strahan's mysterious son, Eldric—who may or may not betray them.
I loved Alyxandra's Drake Chronicles series and while I didn't like this book quite as much, it kept me entertained and had a similar charm to it as her other books which made it enjoyable.

I don't like books with alternating POV's but Alyxandra Harvey is one of the few authors that can write books like that without making me want to toss it across the room - I do still latch onto one narrators story more than the other but it doesn't feel like a chore reading the one that isn't my favourite.

In this book, the story was split between Jo and Eloise and I liked Eloise as a character more - while I liked Jo, something about her character just annoyed me (it may have been the whole American excessively using British slang/curse words or her boy obsession). The boys in the book were great - particularly Lucas and Devin.

As for the story... Maybe it's because I'm not majorly into the whole fae thing but while I was drawn into the world created in the book, it was still a little unclear on the details; loads of fae terms were thrown about and politics mentioned without really properly being explained and you're given a vague idea of what's going on but it's still...too much added without enough explanation. Or at least it felt that way to me.

And the way the characters acted about the whole fae issue - it didn't seem believable, the way they accepted things a bit too easily and launched themselves right into things without really asking many questions...there wasn't enough skepticism from any of them or curiosity and even within the context of the story it just - I didn't entirely believe it and had to suspend disbelief there in a big way.

The friendships and romance in the book: one of the things I love most about Alyxandra's books is the relationships. They're cute and predictable in the way that I love (guilty pleasure). The Devin/Eloise/Jo friendship was done quite well and was one of the best parts of the book, the parts that made it feel more real.

The romance on the otherhand...while it was one of the things I liked about this book, it was also one of the things that made it not as good as her other books I've read because the romance in Jo's chapters felt so annoyingly insta-love-ish (and I hate that). The romance in Eloise's chapters was working on the same time frame but it felt more natural somehow, less annoying. I can accept insta-love so long as it feels natural while I'm reading it, like it's not forced or if I'm given a good reason to be convinced by it.

Sorry, the review has turned into less of an explanation of what I liked about the book and more an explanation of why I didn't love it and why it wasn't as good as the Drake Chronicles.

Basically, I can't explain what I liked about the book in great detail. It's fun, it's entertaining - what I liked about the book is as simple as that. It's not absolutely amazing but it's good if you're craving a light supernatural book that you can get through quickly. Her books are kind of like the supernatural version of the Gallagher Girl books by Ally Carter (not plot-wise) where they're just cute and fun to read and they have cute romances and quirky characters that are hard not to like.

If you like books about fae or like Alyxandra's other books then this one will probably work for you. I already mentioned this but I'm not really a fan of books about fae - not sure why really (although I there are rare exceptions and I don't mind it when fae are present in books but not the main paranormal thing), but I liked this book anyway so that's a good sign.

I'll stop rambling now (it's 7am on boxing day and I haven't slept yet).

Later.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

In My Mailbox 98

Question: do you prefer video IMM or just regular written posts? Or both? Or do you not mind either way?

I really should remember to make an IMM video at a time when I can actually talk without waking everyone.


-Lanna

Friday, 23 December 2011

Our Top 12 Books of 2011


So we did this last year and Julie suggested doing it again this year...so yeah. Here are our top 12 books released in 2011.

Lanna:

These are in no particular order, for the record. It was kind of difficult to choose this year - I've read somewhere between 80-100 books in 2011 but a lot of them weren't 2011 releases (and of my favourite books I read this year, again, a lot of them were published before 2011). But yeah, I did manage to choose 12. 

Note: I don't have Photoshop on Tate yet, my new laptop = no banner type things with the covers of our choices like last year but the links will take you to the Goodreads pages.


This book was just really well written, one of the most original books I've read in a while and the way it's packaged is just gorgeous - it's a really well made book with the pictures inside and all that, it'd be worth owning just for that but it happens to be a great story too.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This book is amazing and heartbreaking and - just...amazing. And I think everyone should read it and I think it should be a movie and I think there should be more books about this subject because that part of history shouldn't be forgotten by the world.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

So I'm cheating a little by having this on my list. It isn't released until early 2012 in the US and it was released in 2010 in Australia - but it was one of my "Wow!" books that I read in 2011 (after whining about not being able to get it for about 6 months because it was only out in Australia and then it popped up on NetGalley and is being published internationally). I'm getting rambly, but the book is brilliant, it's beautifully written and funny and cute and just - I adored it.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I just loved the characters of this book and - it's hard to pin point why I loved it really beyond knowing for sure that I loved the characters. I just loved it. And the cover? Lovelovelove the cover.

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

Two of her books would actually be on my best books this year but Finnikin of the Rock was a 2010 release that I just got around to reading this year. I've gushed about her books so much that people are probably sick of hearing about them. She's one of my top five favourite authors ever. I love everything about her books.

Exile by Jakob Ejersbo

This book totally took me by surprise. It's not one I would have chosen to read on my own - nothing about it would've caught my attention but I was randomly sent it for review and read it and it was really great. I didn't like the ending, but aside from that last chapter or so? It was fab. I was hooked from the start and it was about a culture so totally foreign to me that it was fascinating to read about.

Forbidden by Jana Oliver

I didn't want to include sequels in my list but it was unavoidable if I was going for my favourites. Forbidden is book two in the Demon Trappers series (note: it has a different US cover and title) and I just really enjoy this series. The world feels so...I dunno, I love it.

Deception by Lee Nichols

I think this is a 2010 release for the US, but it was just released in the UK in 2011 and I was sent it to review. I loved it, it had the same kind of charm that books like Paranormalcy and Hex Hall have and I'm so glad I read it - I probably wouldn't have unless someone recommended it to me and I trusted their judgement. The cover is kind of generic, doesn't draw you in really but the book is one of the better YA paranormals.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

This was one of the first 2011 releases I read and I loved it. As far as dystopians go, the world wasn't the best I've read but I love Lauren's writing and her characters and it was really well executed and the ending...well, I can't talk about that without spoilers. But if you like YA dystopians, check this one out.
Divergent by Veronica Roth

There is seriously only one thing that I didn't particularly like about this book (which I can't mention because of spoilers though) - one thing, out of the entire book. I loved the rest. The characters, the romance, the world - it's one of my favourite dystopian novels and I can't wait for the sequel and I really, really, really hope the movie happens and that they don't screw it up because it would make a brilliant movie too.

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

I had some issues with this book. I loved it, but I had to judge it as two seperate things. As a book about grief? Mediocre at best, but as a fun roadtrip romance novel? I really enjoyed it. And I really liked Hannah's writing and the way music was woven into the story. If you're looking for a YA book that beautifully and realistically deals with the loss of a loved one then I'd suggest The Sky is Everywhere or Broken Soup or Revolution or something like that, not this one. But judging it as something other than that, it was one of my favourite books released this year.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

This book was just brilliant. Original, awesome characters, awesome writing, awesome cover (which doesn't really factor into how good the book is but really deserves to be mentioned anyway). Definitely one of my favourite YA paranormal books, not just this year, ever. It's one of Julie's favourites too. :)

Annnd, I guess that's it for me. Julie and I had a few overlaps with our lists (like Divergent, Wither and Hourglass, so we split our mutual YAY-list so there'd be 24 different books).

Later.

Julie: 

 Okay, so, as Lanna said, there is mutual swooning of Divergent, Wither, and Hourglass, so I won't talk about them, but you should go pick those up now because if BOTH of us love it, then isn't it obviously super special?

Now, onto my actual 12 books!

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Tahereh's writing is incredible. Beautiful. So totally unique. Tahereh probably wrote the best villain I've ever read as well. He's so evil that I actually like him for some twisted reason. The other characters are also amazing and wonderful and I want to hug all of them. This is a storyline I can read over and over again and I already have. Trust me, if you haven't, you should pick this up.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens is sarcasm and though provoking and beauty pageant contestants. It's everything that's wrong with the world wrapped up in the cleverest book I've probably ever read. It's the type of book that made me laugh out loud and nod along and feel empowered. I may have cried at one point as well. Libba's contemporary-esque books are different and probably somewhat of an acquired taste, but I just adored this book.

Between the Sea and Sky by Jackie Dolamore

Magic. Pure magic.  This book was beautifully written and so insanely romantic and adorable. The characters were distinct. The world was vivid. This book is just the ultimate fairy tale story. I almost felt like I was reading a retelling, yet it's not. It's an original story (let's not argue about how things today can't be original, kay?) and it most definitely did not get enough attention. Please, please, please. Order this with your holiday book money.

Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers

This is the sequel to Personal Demons and my love of that book is no secret. Well, Original Sin is probably even better.  I love Frannie and Luc and Gabe and Lisa and this series needs to be on your radar.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I read If I Stay and Where She Went at the same time. So, I can easily say that this book? Five times as good as If I Stay. I enjoyed the first book, don't get me wrong, but this one is just SO much better. Get into this series ASAP.

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Demonglass is another wonderful example of what a sequel should be. I remember choosing to read this book because I needed to restore my faith in humanity and this did it. It's funny and witty and charming, but also romantic and full of action and heartbreak. And Rachel Hawkins? That's a lady that can write a love interest AND a killer ending.


Another way too overlooked book. The world building in this book is so lush and vivid and fantastic. Some of the best I've read. The main character is wonderfully strong and she has to know herself before she can come into her powers. Heartbreaking and a shockingly fast read considering the size of the book, Rae Carson is an author to watch. Get into this series, guys. You won't regret it.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Remember how much I loved ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS? Yeah, I loved Lola more. Lola has a boy next door romance and another little bit of a love triangle and another difficult character and fabulous dads and we still get to see Anna and St. Clair. I'm also willing to bet Isla and the Happily Ever After will be on next year's list.  

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Beautifully written and full of complex characters, how could I not love this? I was totally sucked into the world and the writing is so lyrical and fantastic. I loved Rhine and her sister wives, I loved Gabriel, I even kind of loved Linden. I cannot recommend this book enough and I'm dying for Fever!

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

It's a Pride and Prejudice retelling done in this totally genius way. Why aren't there more Pride and Prejudice retellings in YA (no there aren't enough, there's never enough!)? This is like reading the book itself, in a way. And it involves music-y stuff! Win, win, win!

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The characters didn’t stand out to me, but the story line was incredible. The story was fascinating and I’m super excited to see where it ends up going. Kimberly is also amazing at telling relationships, whether they be siblings, friends, or love interests. The way people related to each other was really cool to watch.

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

Sinda was a strong, independent character and her best friend Kiernan reminded me of Gordo from Lizzie McGuire. The world building was incredible and the story had twists and turns and genuinely was a mystery. It wasn’t something just easy to solve. And top to it all off, it’s a fantasy book! There just aren’t enough fantasy books!
 
I'll also throw out honorable mentions to The Night Circus, Shut Out, Possess, and Virtuosity. 

I've also read a number of 2012 books that I LOVE, and I want to make sure I mention them to you now because I'm not sure they can all make the 2012 list since, you know, the year hasn't started yet so I'll have a lot to read. Born Wicked, Incarnate, Everneath, Under the Never Sky, Don't Breathe a Word, Innocent Darkness and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight are amazing and should not be missed this upcoming year!

So, what are your top books?

--Julie

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The 2012 YA Debuts Part II Edition

Yeah, the last edition was getting REALLY long. So, I decided to split it up.

Enchanted
Alethea Kontis
Harcourt Children's Books
[May 8, 2012]
It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true.
When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past—and hers?

PRINCES AND PRINCESS AND LOVE AND THE FROG AND THE PRINCESS RETELLING. Guys. The excitement. I cannot handle. Also, I want to make out with this cover.



Masque of the Red Death
Bethany Griffin
HarperCollins Children's Books
[April 24, 2012]
Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

How wonderfully creepy does this sound? I also read a blog post by Bethany and it got me more interested in her writing. 

The Treachery of Beautiful Things
Ruth Frances Long
Penguin Group USA
[August 16, 2012]
The trees swallowed her brother whole. And Jenny was there to see it. Years later, when she returns to the woods where Tom was taken to say good-bye at last, she finds herself lured into a world where stunning beauty masks the most treacherous of evils, and strange and dangerous creatures await—creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with allegiances that shift as much as his moods. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack’s help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where nothing is what it seems, no one is who they say, and she’s faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice—and not just her own.
Faeries and mysteries and woods and gorgeous dresses. But, I don't know how I can wait until August for this one. 

Illuminate
Aimee Agretsi
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
[March 6, 2012]
Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

     As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

     Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.
I just love the sound of this one. Devils and soul buying and hotels and just...yummy. Also that dress.*swoon*

Struck
Jennifer Bosworth
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux BYR

[May 8, 2012]
LA has been devastated by a massive earthquake and the city is full of chaos and shattered lives. Mia Price has a connection to the storm that caused the earthquake but doesn't know why - who should she turn to for answers? The religious Followers prophesise the end of the world and claim to have the answers that Mia is seeking. The mysterious and beautiful Jeremy warns her away from them but he's hiding a more sinister truth. In the end, Mia is to discover that she is part of a power much larger than she could ever have imagined. When the final disaster strikes, she must unleash the full horror of her strength to save them all
 At first, I was like "...Meh." Reading this description, I still kind of am. But at some point I must have stumbled across something that made me go "Yup. This book. Yup" because I proceeded to add it to goodreads...so there you go.
--Julie

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Wither
by Lauren DeStefano

UK Release date: I'm honestly not sure. The press release says January 9th 2012 but while finding the cover on the Harper website it seems like the book is already out.
Summary: What if you knew exactly when you would die?


Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb – males only live to age twenty-five and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.


When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape – to find her twin brother and go home.


But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
This book was different to what I was expecting (not sure why, because the summary does sum it up pretty well and isn't ridiculously vague like some summaries can be) but it was in a really good way. I really liked the book, maybe even loved it.


It seems like dystopians are the new thing in the world of YA lit and there's a flood of them that have been released in the past year or so and there's still more coming (not that I'm complaining, I love dystopians) and this one is probably one of my favourites I've read this year - it reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale but in a good way.


It wasn't totally perfect, so I'll get the negatives out of the way first:


It was one of those books that I really had to suspend disbelief for - I didn't find myself reading it and being all, "Yeah, I could see how the world could end up like that, that makes sense." - and there were things about the world that felt like it could've been explained better and sometimes the world seemed advanced while other times it didn't and things like holograms just felt kind of contrary in the world described. Basically, as far as world building and believability goes, I think it could've been done better with more explanation.


Now, onto the positives. All those things I mentioned? They didn't really have much of an impact on how much I enjoyed the story. I was totally hooked from the start, the story was addictive and it's one of those books where I would tell myself just one more chapter over and over again but couldn't put it down.


I really liked the writing and the characters and the way Lauren somehow managed to make me really care about them - even characters I hated in the beginning she somehow fleshed them out and made them real to me and made me care about what happened to them.


Rhine was a really good protagonist, although I disagree with her way of handling some situations and didn't really understand why she did certain things (I'm trying to explain that without giving spoilers but I failed), but overall, I really liked her and was totally caught up in her emotions.


The romance in the book? I loved that part. It was subtle. It didn't feel like I was reading a romance book where that is the majority of the plot and the rest of the story revolves around it - instead, it felt like a natural subplot and I really liked it. It was sweet and didn't feel forced.


My favourite part of the book was the whole sister wives relationship - that part was just done really well. There's something weirdly fascinating about that aspect of the story (I found the same thing interesting in the book A Thousand Splendid Suns too) - polygamy is this weirdly foreign concept to me and I've found that the most interesting part isn't actually the fact that the man has more than one wife, it's the relationship that the wives have, the bond that forms between them and how they really do become like sisters. And - I'm rambling, but yeah, I loved that part of the book.


To sum up: I really liked the book and if you like YA dystopians then I recommend this one because it's fab. What it's lacking in world building, it makes up for it with the characters that you can't help but care about and you get thoroughly pulled into the story. It left me dying to read the sequel while not leaving me hanging in that horrible way that some series books tend to do.


Later.


p.s. seriously, sorry if this review is a rambling/incoherent mess, it's hard to keep my eyes open right now but I wanted to talk about the book as soon as I finished it.

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