Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Recently Released Covers

Well, technically, these were released last week, but Wednesday has passed.

Through to You
Emily Hainsworth
Balzer + Bray
[October 2, 2012]

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the pain meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv. 

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become, and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.

How awesome, and kinda creepy, does this sound? And isn't that cover stunning? This also comes out on my parent's anniversary, so...that's not relevant at all.

Defiance
C.J. Redwine
Balzer + Bray
[August 28, 2012]


Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

I've been excited about this book since...before it was actually announced. I really liked C.J., she's really close friends with Myra McEntire, Holly Root is her agent (I tend to love all of Holly's authors), and she said it was fantasy. Then it was announced and I FELL IN LURV with the little description we got. And now...now there's this. This and just...sweet Jesus. I will beg and bribe for this book. I swear I will.

Ten
Gretchen McNeil
Balzer+Bray
[September 18, 2012]

 And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

 I really, really enjoyed Possess by Gretchen last year and now this? It's not my usual type of read, but I'm intrigued. Very intrigued. Though I might have to wait until a few reviews come out so I know it's not TOO scary for me and my wimpiness.


 The Lost Girl
Sangu Mandanna
Balzer + Bray
[August 28, 2012]

Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination - an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her 'other', if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she's ever known - the guardians who raised her, the boy she's forbidden to love - to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.
 Guys. I don't even know how to respond to this book. I just don't. It sounds SO FREAKING PERFECT.


Shadow and Bone
Leigh Bardugo
Henry Holt & Co.
[June 5, 2012]

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near-impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one unlikely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life– a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.

I actually have this one from Netgalley, but tell me that cover isn't gorgeous. I might've raved about it for several minutes to the author. And obviously, this is my type of book (by time you read this, I'll have probably read it because I lack self control when it comes to books.)

So, which ones stand out to you?

--Julie

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Allegiance by Cayla Kluver

*spoilers for Legacy be here*

Allegiance
Cayla Kluver
HarlequinTeen
[February 28, 2012]

 Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return...

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn....

This is definitely epic fantasy in the most original sense.

It's definitely a slow burn, moving at a leisurely pace. At times, it seems too long or too slow, but it fits with the story and it works. You move past the slow bits and it's fine. Plenty still happens, just at a slower pace than we're used to.

The characters are truly incredible. Alera develops so much and she deals with so much crap. I loved how she tried to handle all the conflicts in her life as well as she could, but she wasn't perfect. And all the other characters were so fleshed out. Anytime something bag happened or there was a chance something bad would happen, I was pretty upset. None of them are perfect and they all have their issues, but even the worst of them isn't so bad.

The ending was interesting. Very interesting. Twisty and turny and wonderful. Sad but very fitting. I'm not really sure how book three will work considering how it ended though.

This is a really good continuation with a lot of action and dynamic relationships and interesting characters. I really enjoyed it. It didn't blow my mind, but it was a good follow up and part of a really good high fantasy series. I strongly recommend this to anyone who loves their fantasy.

--Julie

Sunday, 26 February 2012

In My Mailbox 107


Bought:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Songs My Mother Taught Me by Marlon Brando
The Demon Trappers: Forgiven by Jana Oliver

For review:

A finished copy of Poison Heart by S.B. Hayes - I already have an ARC of this one too.

And that's all I got this week.

And I've not posted any reviews this week either because me and my two sisters are all moving house in the next month or two (as in seperate houses, not moving together) and so I've been busy with that stuff and I'm in a total reading funk again - anytime I have time to read, I seem to just watch episodes of Downton Abbey instead. Oops.

It's strange - it's only been a week since I finished a book, and I have read a few chapters of a book this week, so it's not like I've been completely...not reading. But one week without finishing a book feels like months to me. It would be so strange to me to be one of those people who only read a few books a year or one book a month or something.

I'll stop rambling now. What'd you guys get this week?

Later.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

The Probability of Miracles
Wendy Wunder
Razorbill
[December 8, 2011]

Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page.

 Note: I read this early January. I'm writing this at the end of February. I apologize now that this review sucks.

I totally LOVED this book when I first finished and while I still really, really enjoyed it, I don't think I'd call it a favorite now.

Cam was pretty awesome. She was snarky and she didn't just mope about everything. She had this wonderfully dry sense of humor and she wasn't always pitying herself or looking for sympathy. The cancer was just a part of her life, like her hair color. I also loved how her mother didn't care for the pity crap either. Most of the time, Cam was just her daughter. She was willing to do somewhat crazy things to try and make her daughter better, like moving across the country, but it wasn't a constant coddle fest or anything. I loved it.

I really liked the writing. It was third person, which was different from a lot of YA books I read, and it was pretty light and fun all things considered. All the characters were well crafted and interesting and it was never easy to predict. And Asher? I LOVED Asher guys. Loved.

The ending was fabulous. From a very personal standpoint, I wasn't really happy with it because I didn't really feel like I got the answers I wanted. But stepping back a bit from my obsession with closure, it was so well done and different and unexpected and brilliant.

This was really just an excellent book. It obviously sticks pretty well if I remember this much almost two months later. It just didn't totally blow my mind like I originally thought it did. If you like snark, honest teenage voices, contemporary, romances, or books with all the emotions, this is definitely one to add to your lists.

--Julie

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Philippa Gregory Goes YA

Changeling
Philippa Gregory
Simon Pulse
[May 22, 2012]

Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.

The year is 1453. Eighteen-year-old Luca De Vere is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

The first in a series, this epic and richly detailed drama is grounded in historical communities and their mythic beliefs. Philippa Gregory’s trademark touch deftly brings the past—and its salacious scandals—vividly and disturbingly to life.

I've read a few of Philippa Gregory's adult novels and I really, really like them. So when I saw that the cover for her YA was released today, I figured this would be a good book to feature!

I'm not crazy about the cover, though. Wish it was more like her adult stuff and less...really YA-ish. This only feeds my fears that this book will be very much about an adult author trying to make it big in YA for the money.

--Julie

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Books I've Read But Won't Be Reviewing (1)

This is going to be a new feature on the blog, not the same as Lanna's occasional DNF posts. This will be a sporadic feature for books I read that I can't review here. Usually it'll be because they're not YA and I don't feel properly qualified to review and judge anything but YA because I don't know the genres as well.

The Seeds of Wither
Lauren DeStefano
Simon and Schuster
[November 15, 2011]

This is basically an ebook for the Chemical Garden Trilogy's world. It had the first few chapters of Wither, a short story from the perspective of Linden's first wife, a map of the house they live in, and a couple chapters of Fever. There's also apparently a video for Fever's cover shoot, but I couldn't watch that on my Kindle. It was enjoyable, but I kind of hoped there'd be more new content.


 
The Assassin and the Pirate
Sarah J. Mass
Bloomsbury Children's
[January 21, 2012]

Sarah's debut novel, Throne of Glass, will be coming out later this year, but leading up it, will be a few prequels so we can get familiar with the world. I want to read Throne of Glass, but I figured it would be good to try this out and see if I like her style and the world. I LOVED it. I'll definitely be checking out the other novellas and Throne of Glass!

The Heir
Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks Casablanca
[November 9, 2010]

This is an adult historical romance novel, hence why it's not getting reviewed. This was fun and romantic and I really, really enjoyed it. But, like I've said, I'm probably not the best judge when it comes to adult romances.



Sins of a Wicked Duke
Sophie Jordan
Avon Books
[March 13, 2009]

Another adult historical romance. And yes, by the same Sophie Jordan who writes the Firelight series. That's why I decided to try it (that and a lot Kindle price). This was another one I really enjoyed. It was very different from The Heir, but still awesome by my standards.


Unlocked
Courtney Milan
HQN Books...kinda
[May 26, 2011]

I was debating picking up the first book in the series, so I figured I would try the free novella. This one comes after book 1, but before book 2. I really enjoyed this one too. It was more...meaningful than the other two, I guess. But another really good adult historical romance. And you know...free.


ANNNNNNNNNNNNND that concludes this edition of books I won't be reviewing. I...don't know when this will go up again. I also don't know if you care about this. But there you have it. Maybe you'll be able to broaden your reading horizons.

--Julie

Monday, 20 February 2012

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

*Unearthly spoilers be here*

Hallowed
Cynthia Hand
HarperTeen
[January 17, 2012]

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. 


Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Described by Richelle Mead as “utterly captivating,” Unearthly received outstanding reviews, garnered accolades from New York Times bestselling authors, and was named an Indie Next Pick. In this heart-wrenching sequel, Cynthia Hand expertly captures the all-consuming joy of first love—and the agony of loss. This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Aprilynne Pike.

How do I explain how I felt about Hallowed?

I didn't LOVE it the way I loved the last book. There was a lot going on, but it wasn't like WOAH THINGS, it was just many medium-sized events adding together. It wasn't slow, but it wasn't this major page turner either. It was well written and interesting enough to keep me reading even though it wasn't the type of book I was in the mood for at the time.

I still like the characters, though Clara's brother irritated me through most of the book. For the most part, they were true to their personalities in the first book, which doesn't always happen in sequels. 

And, in a remarkable change of events, I went from being Team Tucker to Undecided. These medium-sized events added up in ways that made me almost like Christian more than Tucker. Almost.

Honestly, I just wanted to like this book more than I did. I wanted to love it and fall utterly in love like I did with Unearthly and it just didn't happen. I'll probably still pick up book 3, but this book was iffy for me. Though, I wasn't in the mood for paranormal at the time, so that might've played into it a lot. 

For some of you, this may be the perfect sequel. For others, it might not tickle your fancy. But it's definitely one to give a try if you enjoyed Unearthly.

--Julie

Sunday, 19 February 2012

In My Mailbox 106

Lanna: 

I just got one book this week (actually, it may have been two but I can't remember what the other was or where I put it):

I got Seraphina by Rachel Hartman for review, which isn't usually my sort of thing but since reading Froi of the Exiles I've been in a high fantasy sort of mood and this one sounds good and it has dragons in it which is awesome.

So what'd you guys get this week? And is there any high fantasy books (preferrably with some romance thrown in) that you'd recommend?

Later.

Julie:

I'm slowing down on Freebie grabs, fortunately. 

For Review:
Starters by Lissa Price

EGalleys:
Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
The Academie by Susanne Dunlap
The Returning by Christine Hinwood
Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill

Freebies:
Daughter of Deceit by Carrie James Haynes
The Templar's Seduction by Mary Reed McCall
The Frog Prince by Elle Lothlorien
Beyond the Far Horizon by Sally Malcolm
The Corsair's Queen by Bridget Farrell
Hope for Tomorrow by Catherine Winchester
The Wolf's Sun by Karen Charbonneau
The Rosebud Burglar by Shana McGuinn
Caroline Bingley by Jennifer Becton
A Scandalous Charade by Ava Stone
One True Love by Lisa Follett
Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton
Royal Renegade by Alicia Rasley

EBooks Bought:
Unveiled by Courtney Milan

Big thank yous to Random Buzzers, Random House, Netgalley,  Bloomsbury, and Penguin.

I...I need help.

I won't be doing IMM next weekend, so I'd definitely love to hear your thoughts on this week's haul!

--Julie

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Kiss Date Love Hate by Luisa Plaja


Kiss Date Love Hate
by Luisa Plaja


Summary: What if you could change your friends' lives and loves through the settings of a computer game...?

Lex Murphy's group of friends have all dated, hated, ignored and lusted after each other for the last few years. If only there was a way of matching people perfectly to avoid all the unrequited love, dumping and drama!

Then Lex's friend George is given a mysterious Sims-like game by his software-testing dad which involves building character profiles in the categories of Life, Looks and Love. Lex and George populate the game with avatars for all their mates, making a few 'wishful thinking' adjustments to the settings - and find that the next day these tinkerings have come true! But how long can this new calm, loved-up atmosphere continue?
I wish this book had a different cover and title, I probably would've read it sooner if it had (I know, I know, we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover - or title...) - the cover makes it seem shallow and immature and like it's just going to be pure cliche teen chick lit. And it was those things, but it was more than that.

The characters were frequently immature, often annoying and could be pretty shallow - but then, at the same time, they were kind of realistic too. I didn't always like the characters (Drew, Kathryn and Martin were the only ones I consistently liked) but I liked the story, it felt original and was fun to read about.

The friendship with Lex and George was awesome, they made me laugh - espcially George with his boyish comments that seemed to horrify Lex because she sees him as her brother/best friend and not like other boys who think about girls In That Way.

The romance in the book was annoying a lot of the time in the way they often are in books like this - there's a lot of obsessing over the wrong guy/girl, being oblivious to whats right in front of them the whole time, that sort of thing. And again, it's realistic, but annoyingly so. But I was still rooting for the characters to end up with who they ended up with in the end, so that made me happy.

The last part of the book is where the story gets more depth to it - things are hinted at throughout the book and those hints just went right over my head and I was genuinely surprised when the truth came out in the last third of the book and it made me see the characters in a different, more positive, light and I loved that. That last part of the book is what made me like the book more and I really appreciated the way it was written so that I didn't even pick up on the subtle clues throughout the book.

This wasn't the best book in the world, but it was good and I'm really glad I read it and that I was sent it for review - it's probably not a book I'd pick up on my own. Seriously, don't judge it by its cover like I did. I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5 (maybe 4 stars if I was rating it as just a teen chick lit book instead of just in general), it's a really quick read and it's good if you want to read something a bit more light and fun that won't take up too much time.

Later.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Discussion: Music Inspired By Books

Today I want to discuss music. And books. Well, music inspired by books, to be specific.

Before I get to my rambling, I'll just put the discussion questions here:
1. Do you listen to music while you read?
2. Do you ever have certain songs that remind you of a certain book?
3. What do you think of music inspired by books?
4. What kind of music do you like? Do you have any bands or songs you'd recommend to me or Julie?
Onto the point of this:

I was listening to Timshel by Mumford and Sons earlier and that song is inspired by East of Eden by John Steinbeck and there's other songs based on books out there if you look for them. Indiana by Meg and Dia - I've loved them for years but it took me ages to find out that that song of theirs is actually about the character Indiana in the book Indiana by George Sand (I bought that book because of the song). 

Timshel isn't the only Mumford and Sons song with some lit-inspiration, from their wiki page:
Much of Mumford & Sons’ lyrical content has a strong literary influence, its debut album name deriving from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The track “Sigh No More” includes lines from the play such as Serve God love me and mend and One foot in sea and one on shore. The song “Roll Away Your Stone” is influenced by Macbeth. […] Additionally, “The Cave” includes several references to The Odyssey, also referencing the “Allegory of the Cave”.

Both “Timshel” and “Dust Bowl Dance” draw heavily from the John Steinbeck novels Of Mice and Men, East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath, respectively.
There's also a bunch of people on youtube who write songs about books (particularly John Green books, like this one based on The Fault in Our Stars, or this one, or this one based on Looking for Alaska - there's more John Green ones but some are spoiler-y)... There's a lot of awesome youtube musicians out there but there's also a lot of stuff that's not so good and sometimes there'll be a great song but it's lacking a great voice or great production quality to do it justice.

There's a whole genre of music that you've probably heard of called Wizard Rock dedicated entirely to Harry Potter which is just - wow. My favourite is Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls (because while a lot of the wrock bands are more - novelty, that one is a band I'd listen to whether it was singing about Harry Potter or not), this song in particular:




I love music. Aside from books, music is probably one of my biggest addictions - again, aside from books, it's actually one of the things Julie and I bonded over (I've been known to force music recommendations on people quite a bit). I'm not musically talented, sadly (although piano, guitar and ukulele are on my, "Learn to play, betch!" list), but I wish I was.

If I was, I'd write songs about books. 

I wish more musicians who love to read would write songs about books - not only is it a way to pimp out their favourite books, but it's also kind of...lovely. The way books can inspire people to make music in the way they inspire people on youtube to make fan trailers and people to make fan art or write fanfiction.

I like when art inspires the creation of more art and music is one of my favourite art forms along with books - so I like it when the two go hand in hand.
Some more examples of songs inspired by books (the books/stories they're inspired by are listed below the playlist):



Inspired by Literature by Lanna Lovely on Grooveshark

Don't Let Me Fall by Lenka (inspired by a book of short stories by Miranda July)
Howl by Florence and the Machine (inspired by gothic horror stories)
Monster by Meg and Dia (another song inspired by East of Eden
Quasimodo by Lifehouse (pretty obvious but, it's inspired by The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
The Art of War by Anberlin (another obvious one, titles are the same)
These Bones by Dashboard Confessional (apparently based on Twilight)
Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles (inspired by The Psychadelic Experience)
Golder Slumbers by The Beatles although the version in the playlist is a live acoustic cover by Mumford and Sons (inspired by the poem Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes by Thomas Dekker)
Cath by Death Cab For Cutie (inspired by Cathy from Wuthering Heights)
There's more than that (bands like U2, Led Zeppelin, The Cure, Metallica, Iron Maiden, etc. all have songs inspired by literature), but I'll stop the examples there. Here's a wiki page with lists of songs that retell works of literature if you want to look up some more and another list of songs inspired by books.

There's a bunch of bands that get their names from literature too: Of Mice and Men, Death Cab For Cutie, Belle and Sebastian, Atreyu, As I Lay Dying, Paradise Lost, Sixpence None the Richer, The Velvet Underground, Modest Mouse, etc.
So yeah, what do you guys think of music based on books? Do you know any I haven't mentioned (youtube musician or famous bands or - just anything)?

And do you listen to music while you read? I used to but these past few years, I've found it too distracting but there's still some songs that instantly remind me of books (like the song When it Rains by Paramore will forever remind me of reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer - the first time round, back when the flaws didn't bother me and it wasn't so annoyingly...everywhere).

You guys have traded book recs with us before, so do you have any music recs instead? I'm always looking for new ear crack to listen to (and I like everything from metal to classical although I tend to hover around mostly in the indie/acoustic/rock kind of genre).

OH! Almost forgot, do you know any books that have been inspired by songs? I have one on my shelves (Remembrance by Michelle Madow was apparently inspired by Love Story by Taylor Swift which I think is awesome) and I've gotten story ideas from songs before, so do you know any other books based on songs?

Later.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

The Blood of Flowers
by Anita Amirrezvani


Summary: In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.

Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.
I read this book because it was on a bunch of lists of books supposed to be similar to A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (which I love)...and it was kind of a let down.

It wasn't a bad book and it did keep me entertained for the most part, but I had higher expectations, expecting it to be as good as or have a similar feel to books like A Thousand Splendid Suns and it really didn't, not even close.

A large portion of the book was spent with the character talking about the making of carpets or admiring them or learning how to make them or hearing other characters talking about them...and that may interest some people, but personally, I found it pretty boring. There were quite a lot of stories being told within the story too (like, legends/myths) and while some were interesting, I still didn't particularly want to read those either. It wouldn't have been so bad if other aspects of the story made up for it, like if it had an awesome love story or amazing characters or something, but it didn't.

The story often didn't feel like it was set in 17th Century Iran - I'm not sure if that was because of the writing or whatever, but it just wasn't one of those stories that manages to throw you back in time while you're reading and feel like you're there, in that time, watching the characters.

The plot did keep me interested, in spite of the parts I already mentioned, the whole marriage issue was the most interesting thing in the story and how she dealt with it and how she learned to make her own choices and be independent.

I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable, except one of the minor characters (Homa) - the main character wasn't awful, but I didn't feel particularly connected to her and the other characters seemed very selfish or greedy or weak, and because there wasn't any characters I really latched onto, it was harder to care about what happened to them while reading.

...I'm going to stop this review there, because it seems too negative. I'm pretty sure that my disappointment is mostly due to the expectations I had for the book, rather than the book itself, and because I was looking for another book to wow me like Khaled Hosseini's books did and this one didn't do that - it really isn't a bad book, I just don't think it was particularly good either (it may work better for you than me).

I'd probably rate it 3 stars out of 5 (probably 3.5 if I went into it without expectations). I'm glad I read it, but I'll probably forget that I did within a few days.

Later.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor


Summary: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
[Note: That's the UK cover, it's gorgeous in person. I'm really not a fan of the US cover at all.]

So I really liked this book, but I can't think of a lot to say about it and most of what I can think of to seems more negative than positive, so I'll start by saying I'd rate the book about 4 out of 5 stars.

The characters...I liked them a lot. Karou was a great protagonist; she's fierce and funny, and I liked Akiva and the side characters too - my feelings for them all dimmed a little as soon as I stopped reading though. While reading, it felt like they could make my favourite characters list but in hindsight, not so much. I guess what I mean is, it's one of those stories that was addictive while I was reading it but didn't linger with me once I finished the book.

The romance in the book was sweet and lovely and I was rooting for them. It was kind of Romeo and Juliet insta-love-ish, but not in that annoying way that some stories can be. Any book that can have insta-love and not make me want to toss the book out the window at the first mention of the L-word gets a big gold star from me (metaphorically, of course).

I loved the setting and the worlds in the book, that was probably my favourite part, especially the Prague parts.

The story started out feeling all brand new and original and then there was this big section in the middle that seemed like hundreds of other stories and that was disappointing, then it steered away from that a bit towards the end - but that part of the story felt kind of disjointed from the rest: one half feeling like a quirky urban fantasy and the other half having a more...Narnia/high fantasy feel to it. Parts of it were fast paced and addictive but then there were bits that were kind of a drag to get through. 

I wasn't too fond of the writing. It wasn't bad and did have some quote-able bits and I liked the dialogue; I can definitely see why people would love the writing, but something about it had me sometimes zoning out while reading and then having to go back and reread big chunks because I didn't take any of it in. I can't really pin point what it was that didn't work for me.

It may have been what I mentioned above, about the story feeling kind of disjointed...the writing style seemed to favour the bits of the book nearer the end, very fairytale-esque, but I enjoyed it less in the more urban fantasy settings (plus, I'm not a fan of description-heavy books).

Overall, the book was pretty awesome and hooked me from the start and definitely left me wanting to read more. And, as far as YA fantasy books go, it is one of the more original ones I've read. There's was a lot of hype for this book (which was the reason I read it) and while I do think it did live up to the hype, it didn't quite wow me like it seemed to with other people. 

(Apologies for the sucktastic review, it doesn't do the book justice at all.)
Later.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Favourite Fictional Couples/Couples I Wish Had Happened

Seeing as it's Valentines day and all (although, personally, I think the whole idea of that day is a bit daft in general), I figured I'd do a post talking about my favourite couples/love stories in fiction - and a couple of couples that aren't actually canon but I think would've been fab anyway.

They're not listed in order of preference and they may not be my All Time Favourite couples, but they're on my favourites list and the ones that I thought of first while writing this post.



1. Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta not only writes some of my favourite books ever, but also my favourite pairings - if I hadn't decided to include only one pairing per author in this list then Froi/Quintana, Phaedra/Lucian, Isaboe/Finnikin, Tom/Tara from three of her other books would've also made the list.

But seriously, Taylor and Jonah...they're just awesome, they save each other and they're far from perfect but their flaws are part of what makes them a great pairing.

“He stops and looks at me. 'I'm here because of you. You're my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don't think that will be happening in my lifetime.” 

2. Anna/Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss

These two...I don't approve of *how* they got together, but I wanted them together and was rooting for them the whole time, and while some circumstances make me want to lecture one or both of the characters, I did love their relationship

It was kind of a...slow burn, not rushed, not insta-love and it started with friendship with attraction thrown in and relationships that start that way are awesome. They were sweet and funny and...yeah.

"Most people in Atlanta don't have an accent. It's pretty urban. A lot of people speak gangsta, though," I add jokingly.
"Fo' shiz," he replies in his polite English accent.
I spurt orangey-red soup across the table. St. Clair gives a surprised ha-HA kind of laugh, and I'm laughing too, the painful kind like abdominal crunches. He hands me a napkin to wipe my chin. "Fo'. Shiz." He repeats it solemnly.
Cough cough. "Please don't ever stop saying that. It's too-" I gasp. "Much."
"You oughtn't to have said that. Now I shall have to save it for special occasions."
"My birthday is in February." Cough choke wheeze. "Please don't forget."

3. Lina/Andrius from Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

These two...something about their relationship seemed more realistic than a lot of the other ones. Maybe it was because the book wasn't a romance so it didn't feel like there was a spotlight shining on it - it was just a story with love in it. And it was such a heartbreaking story told beautifully and I think that's why I loved these two - the subject matter is very dark and it's based on truth but the fact that love can still happen in the midst of all that suffering and awfulness, it makes it even more beautiful.


“How did I get here? How did I end up in the arms of a boy I barely knew but knew I didn't want to lose. I wondered what I would have thought of Andrius in Lithuania. Would I have liked him? Would he have liked me?”

 4. Lochan/Maya from Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Lochan and Maya...my heart aches a little just thinking about them. Their love for each other is so beautiful and innocent and they're like best friends, soulmates, but because of something totally beyond their control they're not allowed to be together - because society can't get over the fact they're brother and sister.

If the subject matter makes you disgusted or whatever, then I suggest you read this book, it might make you a bit more open minded about it.


“At the end of the day it's about how much you can bear, how much you can endure. Being together, we harm nobody; being apart, we extinguish ourselves.” 

5. Lucius/Jessica from Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

I'm not even sure what to say about these two. I just loved how they were with each other - how it wasn't insta-love, how they got off to a rocky start and they had plenty of that addictive angsty stuff in the beginning but once they got through that, their relationship was all wonderful and swoon-inducing. I loved the characters individually, then together they were even more awesome.



“Nuts. Lucius Vladescu is completely nuts. And I'm alone with him, in an empty barn. So I did what any sane person would do. I jammed the pitchfork in the general direction of his foot and ran like hell for the house, ignoring his yowl of pain.”

6. Suze/Jesse from The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

These two...Suze is quirky and fun and Jesse is sweet and old fashioned (being a ghost and all), their romance seemed improbable considering how different their personalities seemed to be, like they'd clash, and also kind of impossible considering he was dead. But they were brilliant, I love them together and the way Jesse calls her Querida. All those girls who swoon over Bella and Edwards relationship in Twilight should've totally checked out this series first because Jesse was like Edward done right and Suze was like - what would happen if Bella had personality and wasn't a Mary Sue. =P

“It will hurt. Because deep down, I'll know there was someone.. someone I was supposed to have met. Only I'll never meet him. I'll go through my whole life waiting for him to come along, only he never will. What kind of life is that?”

7. Cathy/Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights

These two characters...they're bloody awful. They're selfish, seem kind of masochistic, not particularly nice people. But in spite of all that, I wanted them to be together and be happy because their love for each other was their one redeemable quality - they just kept making mistakes that drove them apart. They were worse people when they were apart but within each others reach (at least Heathcliff was). Cathy brought out his gentle side and he seemed to make her feel alive.


“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.”

 8. Tariq/Laila from A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

These two...jlnkjfbvjbvpjbf. Another couple that start as friends and they go through so much and just - they shatter my heart into little pieces and put it back together again. They're awesome and I love their characters as individuals too. And now I want to reread the book and I want the movie to happen so I can see their relationship on screen.



“Tariq tucked the gun into the waist of his denims. Then he said a thing both lovely and terrible. "For you," he said. "I'd kill with it for you, Laila.”

-x-

“Laila had learned a fundamental truth about time: Like the accordion on which Tariq’s father sometimes played old Pashto songs, time stretched and contracted depending on Tariq’s absence or presence.”
And the last two couples are couples I kind of wish had happened but didn't:

9. Draco/Hermione from Harry Potter

Maybe I've just read too many good Dramione fanfics or maybe it's that I have a thing for bad guys becoming good for love but I love them as a non-canon pairing. And you know if they ended up together, they'd have to really love each other - Draco would have to see past a prejudice he's been raised with since birth and Hermione would have to forgive his horribleness from when they were younger. I think she could bring out the best in him and he could make her lighten up a bit, make her more mischievous. In the books, I'm all for Ron/Hermione, but in fanfiction...

10. Jasper/Bella from Twilight...seriously. o.O

Um...yeah. This is another one you can blame fanfic for, but even their book characters make more sense to me than who they're actually with. Alice and Edward both seem pretty dominant and controlling while Bella and Jasper seem more quiet, reserved, laid back - sure, opposites can attract but sometimes people who are similar are good together. Jasper is scarred and imperfect while Edward is someone Bella sees as flawless, has up on a pedestal and feels inferior to. I think Jasper and Bella would be equals in a relationship.

Plus, in the first book, while everyone else is running around trying to save her life, in the midst of all that chaos, he's the only one who makes sure she's emotionally okay - yeah, he's an empath, but he barely knew her and yet he took the time to tell her she was worth it, he didn't have to do that. 

I get why these two couples didn't happen, and in the case of Dramione, I'm glad it didn't because it would interfere with my favourite couple that did happen in the HP series but still...it's fun to imagine. Gotta love fanfiction; the world where the couples that didn't happen can happen.

So who are some of your favourite couples in fiction? Or couples you wish had happened but didn't?

Also, Happy Valentines Day, and if no one else has said it to you today:


Later.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Make It A Movie Monday - Vampire Academy

Make It A Movie Monday is a weekly meme started by Making the Grade reviews and I thought it'd be fun to do some posts seeing as I make fan casts for movies anyway when I'm bored and like a book.
"The idea behind the meme is that you take a book, any book, be it one that was released in the past, the present or the future, and imagine what it would be like if that book was made into a movie."
I'm going to do a fan cast this time. I chose Vampire Academy because just before I was going to start the post, I finally found someone I'd like as Rose who isn't too old - they are actually making a movie (well, the rights have been sold) but most of my cast choices are far too old now (like Odette Yustman, Sophia Bush and Elisabeth Harnois for Lissa).

I'll try and choose suggestions that are still in their playing-high-school-students stage in their acting (keep in mind though that contacts exist, hair dye exists and Hollywood does tend to have people in their twenties playing teens). Also, this is just the first book so characters like Adrian won't be included.

Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead


Summary: Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . . 

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever..

Rosemarie "Rose" Hathaway

Description: 17. Gorgeous with big, dark eyes, dark-brown hair, and lightly tanned skin.

Cast ideas: 
Shelley Hennig

Lucy Hale

Phoebe Tonkin


The one I'd like best: Phoebe Tonkin 

 Other ideas: Caitlin Stasey, Nina Dobrev

Vasilisa "Lissa" Dragomir

Description: 17. Beautiful, with long, platinum-blonde hair and jade-green eyes.

Cast ideas:
Skyler Samuels, AnnaSophia Robb, Candice Accola

The one I'd choose: Skyler Samuels


Other ideas: Sara Paxton, Dianna Agron, Indiana Evans, Danielle Chuchran

Dimitri Belikov

Description: Dark-brown hair and eyes. He is 24-years-old and originally from Baia, Russia.

Cast ideas:

Ben Barnes, Garrett Hedlund, Taylor Kitsch, Henry Cavill 


The one I'd choose: Ben Barnes


 Other ideas: Thomas McDonell, Ian Somerhalder, Aidan Turner

Christian Ozera

Description: 17/18. Tall, with black hair and crystal-blue eyes.

Cast ideas: 
 Thomas Dekker, Tom Sturridge, Landon Liboiron
The one I'd choose: Landon Liboiron

Other ideas: Aaron Johnson, Nicholas Hoult

I'm not going to include pictures for the others, except for the person I'd choose, I'll just give the names.


Mason Ashford

Description: Red hair and blue eyes. 17.

Cast ideas: Rupert Grint, Jeremy Sumpter, Hunter Parrish

I'd choose: Jeremy Sumpter




Mia Rinaldi

Description: 16. She has a soft face and curly, blonde hair that makes her look very young and doll-like.

Cast ideas: Juno Temple, Ashley Benson, Taylor Swift

I'd choose: Juno Temple



Eddie Castille

Description: He has sandy-brown hair and hazel eyes. 17.

Cast ideas: Zach Roerig, Kenny Wormald, Steven R. McQueen

I'd choose: Steven R McQueen




Viktor Dashkov

Description: 40-something. Jade-green eyes and black hair.

Cast ideas: Jason Isaacs, Clive Owen, Ralph Fiennes

I'd choose: Jason Isaacs




Janine Hathaway

Description: 5-feet tall, has curly, auburn hair, brown eyes, and is very stern.

Cast ideas: Sarah Clarke, Lena Headey

I'd choose: Lena Headey




Natalie Dashkov

Description: Black hair and jade green eyes.

Cast ideas: Ashley Rickards, India Eisley, Alexandra Daddario

I'd choose: India Eisley




What do you guys think of these suggestions? Do you have any other suggestions for the characters? And would you like more Make It A Movie Monday posts on the blog?

Later.

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