Sunday, 30 September 2012

Book Haul (134)

...I did warn you I was going to the Brooklyn Book Fest, right?

Purchased:
The Diviners by Libba Bray (finished hardcover, SIGNED!!!!! YES I FINALLY MET LIBBA *dies from happiness - Brooklyn Book Fest)
How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling (ebook for Kindle - Amazon)
Huntress by Malinda Lo (finished paperback - Brooklyn Book Fest)
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (finished hardcover - Brooklyn Book Fest)
Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler (finished hardcover - Brooklyn Book Fest)
Pride and Popularity by Jenni James (finished paperback - Brooklyn Book Fest)
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigani (finished paperback - Brooklyn Book Fest)
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz(finished paperback - Brooklyn Book Fest)
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (finished paperback - Brooklyn Book Fest)
Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach (finished hardcover - Brooklyn Book Fest)
All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John (finished hardcover - Brooklyn Book Fest)
All My Friends Are Still Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John (finished hardcover - Brooklyn Book Fest)
Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles (finished hardcover, signed - Brooklyn Book Fest)
If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (finished hardcover - Strand Bookstore)
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (finished hardcover - Strand Bookstore)
In Honor by Jessi Kirby (ARC - Strand Bookstore)
The Story of Us by Deb Caletti (ARC - Strand Bookstore)

...I'm gonna justify this by saying majority of these books were way cheaper than their usual price. Sass and Serendipity and Pride and Popularity were both only $5. The Shoemaker's Wife was only $12. The two hardcovers from Strand were half off. And since my last two purchases were ARCs (which makes me feel icky, but I could not get 4 hardcovers without dying inside, half priced or not. Plus, if I really like them, I'll buy a finished copy anyway. If I don't, I'll pass on the ARC to someone who should have it.), they were really cheap.

I also got my copy of Burn for Burn signed. Picked up a signed poster at that event that's also signed. I also got quite a bit of bookmarks and things from Brooklyn Book Fest, including a signed poster with the three boys from the Perfect Chemistry series trailers on it.

So, yeah. Things should actually slow down after this. The only bookish events I know I'm doing are ComicCon and the J.K. Rowling event after this. I might also swing by a signing on Tuesday, but I have to go to the opera, so if I do, I won't stay long. And I have some Amazon gift cards, which may lead to me picking up some books that are on sale, but since it's not my actual money, I won't feel bad about it.

So...umm...do any of you want to share your shame? What review books showed up this week for you since I don't have access to any that showed up for me? How's life going while I've been an awful blogger?

--Julie

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Bookish Events I've Gone To

So, now that I live in New York City, I actually get to go to book events and meet authors I admire and it's kind of awesome. As my reading's been slow (and therefore reviewing even slower), I figured I could at least recap briefly the events I've gone to so far.

(1) Maggie Stiefvater and David Levithan, Books of Wonder, September 19

This was my first NYC-bookish event. I showed up late because it started at 6 and I had class until 5:40 (except of course my teacher picked today to show up late and the elevator took forever), then had to take the subway over 100 blocks downtown, then got slightly lost, then finally got there at 6:30. I stood in the back, said a quiet "hey" to Mitali (who has been like my personal tour guide since I got here) and Khy, then went and bought my books.

I finally was able to just enjoy the discussion. Maggie and David were funny and had this really awesome banter going. It was lovely hearing them talk about their books and the characters they've connected to and how their writing process works.

Mitali then introduced me to approximately 5,000 people. At some point, I know I said hi to Nicole and Danielle. I got to meet Alison Cherry (Red), Lindsay Ribar (The Art of Wishing) and Elizabeth Eulberg (The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom and Prejudice, Take a Bow) and other lovely people who I feel awful because I don't remember their names. But if you're one of those people, feel free to call me out on my fail in the comments.

I got a copy of The Raven Boys signed by Maggie and a copy of Every Day signed by David. Both were very kind but I was horribly awkward and couldn't think of anything to say while they signed. 

After, Khy, Mitali and I hung around, waiting for the crowd to lessen. Khy wanted to say hi to David and Mitali wanted to say hi to Maggie. Afterwards, I was brought to an NYU building and hung out with Mitali for a bit while we waited for Khy to grab some dinner. Khy then left and Mitali and I went to Forbidden Planet to look for ComicCon three day passes. That failed, so we both headed home.

(2) Brooklyn Book Fest, ...Brooklyn, September 23

This was my first really, really big event. My roommate and I were both going, so we left around 9 am, meaning we got there around 10, just as it was starting. I did a walk through first, stopping to chat at the Harper Perennial booth. Then I went to the bank and got some extra cash and went through again. I grabbed some books at a Jane Austen booth (both YA) and had an awesome chat with the lady there. Went back to the Harper booth and bought another book. Said hi to Isla Neal and Martin Leicht (Mothership). Sat in on a couple of middle grade panels. Bought a lot of books from Bank Street Books...a LOT.

Then the YA panels started. The first panel was YA Jeopardy with Libba Bray, Daniel Nayeri, Natalie Standiford, and Zoraida Cordova. It was awesome and hilarious. About half way through the panel, Mitali showed up. After, she introduced me to more people and then I got on line to finally meet Libba Bray. I fangirl spewed all over her about how she changed my life. She signed The Diviners for me. I met more people. Gayle Forman, Daniel, some editors and publicists. 

That's basically how the day continued. We would try to pay attention to YA panels, but get drawn into meeting someone. I got to meet Melissa Walker and Simone Elkeles, some agents. Stopped at Shake Shack at one point for my first ever experience (which was awesome).

We finished off the day talking with Suzanne Colasanti. Mitali, Suzanne and I all hopped on a subway and chatted and then headed off in separate directions.

(3) Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian Signing, Books of Wonder, September 25

So, this was obviously last night. I didn't have class, so I left my dorm around 4:30 and between waiting for the train and taking some wrong turns, didn't get there until 5:20. Mitali was waiting outside and handed off some books for me.

We went inside and I met Britta and even MORE people as we waited for the signing to start. Spent time chatting with Nicole and Danielle again. 

Jenny and Sibohan were funny and charming and brilliant. They also had a sundae bar and some free drinks, but of the alcoholic kind and non-alcoholic kind. They were all kinds of lovely, but very busy when I got up there. Mitali and Britta were in front of me so they were chatting and I think some family members were behind me, so I didn't get to say much. But they included a really nice poster and were really sweet when I did talk to them.

So, yeah. Some quick recaps on events I've gone to. I'm hoping to stop in to another one next week before going to the opera (because this is apparently a thing that happens in my life). 

Have you gone to any awesome events lately? Would you want me to do more in depth event recaps? More stuff like this? Leave some feedback!

--Julie

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis

I Wrote This For You
by pleasefindthis


Summary: "I need you to understand something. I wrote this for you. I wrote this for you and only you. Everyone else who reads it, doesn't get it."

Started 2007, I Wrote This For You is an acclaimed exploration of hauntingly beautiful words, photography and emotion that's unique to each person that reads it. This book gathers together nearly 200 of the most beautiful entries into four distinct chapters; Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain. Together with several new and exclusive entries that don't appear anywhere else, each chapter of I Wrote This For You focuses on a different facet of life, love, loss, beginnings and endings.

So I sometimes read this blog, and I really liked the guys writing, and then I realised he had published a book of the kind of stuff he posts on his blog and decided to get it.

I really like the book. I should've read it differently though - I read it from start to finish, in one sitting, just because I had it on the Kindle app on my phone and I was bored at my mums one day...and reading it like that, cover to cover, while I still appreciated his writing, it did get a bit monotonous at times. I wish I'd just read little bits at a time (which is rare for me, but I don't often read poetry or books that aren't in a traditional story format).

Anyway, back to the point: the book was good.

He is one of those writers who manage to write things that, even though they're specific to his life and written to/about people he loves or people he lost, he manages to make the things he writes relatable to so many other people - I found myself reading some of the things he wrote and thinking, "Yes, that's exactly it. That's exactly how I felt when..." and I think writers that can do that are great.

There's photography in the book too, one to go with each poem. I liked some of the photographs, but overall was a bit underwhelmed by them, they were a nice touch when paired with the writing though.

I'm kind of struggling to review this, because I can't just tick off the usual review talking points with poetry.

Characters? There weren't any, because it's not fiction (as far as I know), so I can't discuss it like they're fictional. It made the book feel very... human.

Plot? There wasn't one. At least not any linear, set in stone plot that can be figured out. Sometimes I would try and figure out the situations that made him write the things he did, but that was just guessing really (some of the pages read like he was addressing them to someone who broke his heart while some almost seemed to hint at the person having died - but that could just be me projecting my own life onto his words based on what memories they dragged up for me).

Writing...well, I've talked about that one. And I'll leave you with a couple of my favourite poems from the book (my favourite of the whole book is a bit long to quote/screenshot):



"And if you can't say yes, answer anyway. Because I'd rather live with the answer than die with the question."

"You can join the millions talking in the dark. Or you can stand up and scream light, out into the night."
I guess that's all I have to say. I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5 (would've been 3, but I know my enjoyment of the book was lessened by reading it all at once instead of a bit at a time).

Later.

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak


Summary: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
A few facts first:

  • Everyone I have seen mention this book, has said it's amazing. All the reviews are filled with gushing and wow's and just love for the book.

  • It took me more than a year to get through this book (started it about three different times, kept putting it down and even when I got more than halfway into it, I still kept putting it down for weeks or months at a time).

  • And the most important fact: Even though it took me forever to read, I agree with all those gushing reviews.

It's weird that it took me so long to read and yet I still love it. Honestly, at times, when reading, it did drag - it felt like the story moved at a snails pace and the way the story was written was so strange that it didn't feel like one of those, "Oh my god, I can't put this down, I need to know what happens next." kind of books, it was really easy to put down and not pick up again for ages.

I'm not sure if that's something other people think about the book too, or if I'm in the minority. I think it might just be something about Markus Zusaks writing style that doesn't hook me, because so far, I have exactly the same problem with his other book, I Am the Messenger.

So why do I think the book is brilliant even in spite of that?

1. Well, the story is really original. Seriously, I haven't ever read another book like it and I doubt I ever will (everything from the weird way the plot was arranged to the narrator - I loved the narration right from the start).

2. Even when it felt like the plot was dragging, I still adored the writing. Seriously, Markus Zusak can write - he's one of those writers that can do things with words that leaves you confused and in awe of how he can have access to the same language that you do and yet he can do something with it in a way that most people can't.

3. The characters. I loved them. They felt more real than the characters in probably most of the books that I read. Again, Markus seems to have a talent for that - making his characters realistic and loveably flawed in a way not every writer can achieve.

4. The subject matter. Heartbreaking. Awful. Humanity at its absolute worst, and a little bit at its best. And told through the eyes of Death - and he really had me convinced that it was Death who was narrating, he never seemed too human or too... other. He made Death seem impartial, non-judgemental, not cruel or cold or heartless - without making him seem too human.

5. I cared. If an author can make me care, that's half the battle. And I loved these characters, I empathised and sympathised with them and I cried nearer the end and felt like my heart was a little bit broken when I finished the last page.

I dunno... there's probably other reasons, but those are enough. This review has been a bit weird and all over the place, but it was a weird book, so I guess a weird review is fitting. What matters most: the book was excellent and I'm totally with all those other people that loved it.

Later.

p.s. the UK cover? One of my favourite book covers, ever.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Book Haul (133)

Julie: 

See, more contained this week! Although...I'm at the Brooklyn Book Fest right now. So...yeah. That's a problem.

For Review:
Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (unsolicited finished copy)
The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa (accepted ARC)

Purchased:
Every Day by David Levithan
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Such Wicked Intent showed up at my parents' last week before I came back to the dorm. The Lost Prince was pitched and then showed up here when I accepted because I'm a lot better at reading physical books than egalleys. Every Day and The Raven Boys only happened because I went to their signing in NYC on Tuesday.

But now Brooklyn Book Fest is happening and then there's another signing on Tuesday so...we'll see what happens.

--Julie

Lanna: 

So, these are actually books I've gotten over the past few weeks (I may be forgetting a few, cause I think I got some e-books too).



For Review:

Summertime of the Dead by Gregory Hughes
On The Day I Died by Candace Fleming
Blink Once by Cylin Busby

Bought:

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (which I've already read and reviewed, but I like to own physical copies of e-books that I read, unless I hate them, so yeah...)
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Defiance by C.J. Redwine (Blame Julie)
Enshadowed by Kelly Creagh
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
To Selena, With Love by Chris Perez (Not normally my kind of book, but I was rewatching the movie of her life and I just wanted to know her husbands side of the story)

So, yeah - I think that's all. Read any of them? What'd you think?

I've not been reviewing much lately. Purely because I've not been reading much lately (well, I've been reading, but it's more starting a book, reading a few chapters, getting bored then picking up a different book - it's just been a struggle to finish any, but I'm working on it, hopefully I'll be posting more next week).

Later.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Give Up the Ghost 
by Megan Crewe

Summary: Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody…and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school. 

But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.

As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad—and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance….

This is a book I've been meaning to read for ages, not sure why really, it just... seemed interesting. Plus I'm a sucker for stories that involve ghosts. I finally got round to it (obviously, seeing as I'm reviewing it) and - I liked it. It wasn't amazing, it won't be making any of my lists of favourite books, but it was cute and enjoyable to read. It was a quick read too, which I appreciate, because I'm in such a reading funk right now and books like this seem to be all I can manage to get through.

The story wasn't as predictable as I was expecting it to be - it had its moments of predictability, but the path the story took and the way it ended, I wasn't expecting it. I was expecting it to be more cliche - one of those endings where every loose end is tied up nicely like some Disney movie, but it wasn't and I really liked the way it ended.

I really liked Cass. She had her issues, but she'd been through a lot and was just trying to deal as best she could, and I liked how she changed for the better throughout the book. I liked the side characters too, particularly the dead ones.

There's not really much more I can say about the book, I just liked it, I enjoyed reading it but I don't think it was good enough to be one I'll still remember reading even a few months from now (if you want a book about ghosts that'll stick with you, check out The Mediator series by Meg Cabot - but this one is good if you just need something quick to read). I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ten Bookish People I'd Love To Meet

This post is part of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So, I'm going to do this quick because I really do need to be heading out, but I did want to throw together something.

1.) Harmony at Harmony's Radiant Reads. I don't know if you've caught on, but Harmony's my best friend and I love her to pieces. She started out as my blogging mentee, but now she's doing better than I am and it's all just friendship at this point. BEA2013? Yes/Yes?

2.) Lanna at ...here. Yeah, I haven't met Lanna yet. But we do live in different countries and neither of us have secret fortunes we can use to travel the world with. Someday? Maybe?

3.) J.K. Rowling. In all my day dreams as to what I'd do if I were rich and famous, meeting J.K. Rowling is always one of the things I would be sure to accomplish (because obviously I'd be famous enough for her to want to meet me, too). This is the woman that turned me into a life-long reader. She exposed Small Julie to something besides contemporary humor and Scooby Doo mysteries. And she created an incredibly strong bond between my mom and myself. Fortunately, meeting here is a thing that will be happening in less than a month.

4.) John Green. This is a man who can make me laugh while I sob hysterically with just his words. He's a genius. He makes me think and grow as a person. John Green inspires me and it'd really be a treat to meet him.

5.) Jane Austen. Do I really need to continue to explain my Austen love? Do I? Please don't make me try.

6.) Myra McEntire. Myra's someone I've been talking to for years. She's been supportive and kind and always makes me laugh when I need it most. Not to mention the fact that she's incredibly talented. She also accepted my incessant fangirling without complaint. I probably owe her a cupcake.

7.) C.J. Redwine. C.J's another person I've fangirled for a long time. Most of it before I actually read her book because I had that much (rightfully placed) faith in her talent. She's kind and generous and selfless and the kind of person who asks a 17 year old to be her assistant. I definitely owe her some baked goods too.

8.) Jodi Meadows. Jodi's yet another person who's had to suffer through my fangirling. But now we talk about knitting and Tangled and sparkles and the Incarnate/Asunder Street Team (which you should sign up for if you haven't) and baked goods and lots of other things. It'd probably be more fun if we could chat about this in person.

9.) Suzanne Lazear. My relationship with Suzanne started after I followed her on twitter and then won a tiara (I ended up wearing it to prom this past June). Since then, she's written my recommendation letters and offered all kinds of help and I've read for her. We've swapped virtual faked goods often and she's even sent me some actual goodies. There has also been a lot of talk about a cupcake date, which totally needs to happen.

10.)  Brent...Who's From Everywhere. So, Brent started as a book blogger but now he does all kinds of things in publishing. He's awesome and kind and really smart. Brent is also clever and dedicated and really supportive. I'm hoping that we'll either meet at BEA2013 or when he moves to NYC to go to college. Because it will happen.

So...who are you dying to meet?

--Julie

Monday, 17 September 2012

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

What's Left of Me
Kat Zhang
HarperTeen
[September 18, 2012]

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

I went into What's Left of Me expecting to fully enjoy myself. An interesting premise and some good reviews from people I trust, I was excited. It turned out that this book was totally not what I expected, but still most excellent.

A large part of me expected to see this from both Eva and Addie's perspective, but instead it was just Eva. That was the first thing that made it different. It was a lot easier to be sympathetic towards Addie and understand her frustration. Addie was never made out as an evil person, definitely not, but it was almost as if she wasn't as happy about having Eva at times and that might've shaped how we saw Eva differently. Instead we got a sympathetic, honest look at both girls. Definitely a tricky balance and I'm glad Kat Zhang was able to pull it off so well.

The story was the biggest surprise though. I definitely didn't see the direction it went coming and it was a really interesting surprise. It was better for the story than what I was expecting to read. There was more action and it added more depth to the problem hybrids face. I understood their dangers and what hybrids were up against more. I'm really happy with here it went and the twists and the turns and genuine Drama that wasn't super-manufactured.

Kat Zhang's a really wonderful writer. Smooth, and fluent, but still grabbing you in. A lot of my reading time was grabbed in bits and pieces, but I always had a hard time putting the book down. The relationships between Eva and Addie's family, their friendships, and their potential love interests were all so well crafted and intricate and lovely.

I personally think What's Left of Me deserves the buzz it's been getting. It's a really awesome book with a lot of amazing things and a really fantastic plot - none of which I can explain in detail without worrying about spoilers. Just trust me when I say that if you're on the fence with this one, go for it.

--Julie

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Book Haul (132)

It's been awfully quiet around here, hasn't it? Well, hopefully I'll be able to fix that. Lots of days off and weekends without plans in my near future. Hopefully that'll help things out, but...being a college student requires more time than a high school student, you know?



For Review:
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst (accepted finished copy)
Envy by Elizabeth Miles (unsolicited finished copy)
The Blessed by Tonya Hurley (unsolicited finished copy)
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (unsolicited finished copy)
Princess of the Silver Wood by Jessica Day George (requested egalley)

Purchased:
Defiance by C.J. Redwine (finished copy)
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James (finished copy)
Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quinonez (finished copy for school)
Dubliners by James Joyce (finished copy for school)
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (finished copy for school)
All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith (Kindle freebie)
Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke (ebook on sale)
A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (ebook on sale)
Lessons from a Scandalous Bride by Sophie Jordan (ebook purchase)

Umm...I mean...I just got my first debit card. But after this, it really *should* slow down...kind of...I mean there's a lot of YA signings going on in NYC soon...yeah...

How are you guys doing with book buying?

--Julie

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

A Midsummer's Nightmare
by Kody Keplinger

Summary: Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.
Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

I really liked Kody's first book, The Duff, and I think I liked her second book too - it hasn't really stuck with me and I don't want to search out my review - but this one... it just didn't do it for me. (If you want to read a more positive review, go read Julie's, she loved it.)

It started out interesting, and the basic premise of the story is good (reminds me of Carmen's story from Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants kind of, only without the stepbrother sexytimes) - but I just didn't enjoy it much.

Harrison was awesome, Nathan was cute, I liked Bailey and Sylvia--they were the reason this book wasn't a total lost cause for me--but Whitley annoyed me so much. I just didn't like her, even nearer the end where she was starting to redeem herself a bit, I didn't like her - I just got to a point where I didn't dislike her either. Her mum and her dad were awful characters too, her dad most of all.

I think the Whitley thing was probably what held me back from really liking the book though. It was hard to sympathise with her when she kept being awful to people who were nice to her and didn't deserve it, and yet the ones who deserved it most got a world of chances. She complained about things, but never did a damn thing to change them. I get that was probably supposed to be one of her issues, but it was insanely frustrating to read about. I just didn't like the way she acted, and it was difficult to figure out why Harrison would want to be her friend or what Nathan would see in her because there wasn't a lot of scenes that showed her at her best with them.

The romance... like I said, Nathan was cute. I liked him for the most part, but there was no spark between him and Whitley--although, her character was a little more interesting and tolerable when he was around--and that made it difficult to really care. There wasn't really many scenes of them just talking in a way that is fun, most of it seemed to be arguing and so many of their conversations/arguments seemed to be about the same subjects (the way she acts, the family, her daddy issues) - at least, not that I remember, if they were there then they didn't stand out much.

My standards for the whole stepsibling romance thing may just be a bit high though, because there's a story published online on a writing community I'm a member of and I absolutely adore the romance in that one...kjfnvlkjfvkjbfkjv - it's awesome. Seriously, if it were a published novel, it'd be on my favourites shelf. And so in comparison, this one was just a bit - meh.

By the time I finished the book, it didn't feel like anything had really happened plot-wise. I mean...things obviously happened, it wasn't just pages of nothing, but so much of it was so repetetive with Whitley complaining about her family issues but never doing a anything thing about it or talking about her drinking and boy habits that it just made the plot seem like a drag and the most interesting parts of the story were overshadowed by that.

It bugged me that the cyber bullying and slut shaming wasn't a big issue in the book, at least not in the right ways - I mean, there were moments where it was acknowledged, but it... I dunno, maybe it was just another case of it being overshadowed by Whitley whining and being bratty. And something happened that they didn't even seem to consider reporting to the police when it should've at least been a conversation. Maybe it was written that way to be more realistic, I dunno, but I just didn't like that.

To be clear: all the things I didn't like about this book weren't bad, I just didn't like them. I can appreciate the fact that she's not afraid to write characters that aren't likeable and that she doesn't censor her books because they're YA... It's not one of those books that is objectively bad, it wasn't a bad book and I've seen people that have loved/liked it, it just wasn't for me.

I'd rate it 2.5 stars out of 5. The whole story really just lacked - spark, it didn't make me care enough, and the emotion I felt most frequently while reading was annoyance. I'll definitely still read whatever other books Kody puts out, because she's awesome, but yeah... not a fan of this one.

...Sorry if this review isn't making too much sense, I'm ill right now and my brain feels like mush so my thoughts are all over the place, but I wanted to get this review over with.

Later.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Blog Tour: An Interview with Kat Zhang, Author of What's Left of Me

Hello readers! Today I have an awesome treat in that the author of What's Left of Me, Kat Zhang, stopped by to answer a few questions!

1.) School is exhausting and time consuming. How do you balance school and writing/revising/editing/querying/every other step in publishing?

It can be hard sometimes! College is made for all nighters, though, right? ;) It really is a balancing act, though--sometimes I can't spend as much time as I'd like on one aspect of my life because I need more time for the other.

In the end, though, I just love writing so much, and I feel really fortunate to have a book coming out, and everything that going along with that. It can get stressful, but I've always liked to be busy, and in the end, I wouldn't have it any other way :)
 
2.) Would you want to see What's Left of Me as a movie someday? Anything in particular you'd like in this movie?

Yes, I'd love to! I adore seeing stories told through different media, and it would be really interesting to see how WHAT'S LEFT OF ME could be expressed through film. 

I'm not the type to demand that a film follow a book down to the very last scene, but I do like to have the same "spirit" to the film, you know? :)
 
3.) Five books you would recommend bring with you on a stranded island?

1. How to Survive on a Deserted Island (Supplies Included)
2. Complete Works of Shakespeare (because if you're going to be re-reading something over and over again, it might as well be Shakespeare, right? :P)
3. Notebook (for writing!)
4. ...

...I'm so bad at this question, haha. I can't pick!! Can I just bring a solar-powered kindle? ;)
 
4.) What do you do when you're not writing/revising/editing/etc?

If I'm not writing or doing school things, I mostly just chill with friends. I perform Spoken Word poetry, and I really love being on stage. Though I haven't actually done any plays or anything like that, I'd like to try in the future! :) I also like to run, and basically wander around town ;)
 
5.) What's one book you wish you could've written?

Right now, EVERY DAY by David Levithan. I haven't actually read it, yet, but that idea!! I wish I'd thought of it! Haha :)

Thanks for having me!
 
 
 
It was a pleasure to have you, Kat!
 
What's Left of Me
Kat Zhang
HarperTeen
[September 18, 2012]
 
Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…
 
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

--Julie

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Romance Review (1)

I read a lot this summer and I've been reading a bit since school started and in that time, I've read quite a few romance novels. As my reading has been slower and my time has lessened, I figured I'd at least talk about all these books real quick. Consider this a branch off of Books I've Read But Won't Review.

With Seduction in Mind
Laura Lee Guhrke
HarperCollins
[August 25, 2009]

Her proposition...

London Society is harsh for a young woman with no family connections who has to work for a living. But when Daisy Merrick is sacked from yet another job, the fiesty and outspoken miss comes up with a plan that could give her a future beyond her wildest dreams. There's only one problem. Her success depends on a man, the most infuriating, impossible, immovable man she's ever met.

His resolution...

Sebastian Grant, Earl of Avermore, is England's most infamous author. Known for his notorious reputation, he is more interested in play than work, and has no intention of cooperating when Daisy shows up on his doorstep with a mad plan. The provoking, fire-haired beauty stirs his sense beyond belief, and Sebastian knows he has only one way to stop her. Seduction.

I really love Laura Lee Guhrke's books. They're easily among my favorite romance novels. They're unique and different and have these snarky, clever heroines. Highly, highly recommend her and this book.

Mine Til Midnight
Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's Press
[October 2, 2007]

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men's dreams, Cam has tired of society's petty restrictions and longs to return to his "uncivilized" Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter....

I think my favorite thing about this one was the storyline about Cam being a gypsy and how that interacted with the story. It really gave the story a bit of a twist that I genuinely loved. 

When Beauty Tamed the Beast 
Eloisa James
Avon
[January 25, 2011]

Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she's betrothed to a Beast.

Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.

Linnet is not just any woman.

She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.

Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.

If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?

The Duke is Mine
Eloisa James
Avon
[December 27, 2011]

He is a duke in search of a perfect bride.
She is a lady—but a long way from perfect.

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can't he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.

Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion...Until, in his darkest hour, Quin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.

To win Olivia's hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul...
Unless it's already too late.

I put these two together because they're books 2 and 3 of the Fairy Tales series and because I read them one right after the other. This series is one of the more fun romance books I've read. More humor and little things that make my smile. I really enjoyed these two, but I think I loved The Duke is Mine a bit more because I liked Quin a lot. He wasn't the typical romance hero and I appreciated that.

Prince of Dreams
Lisa Kleypas
Avon
[August 1, 1995]

A wealthy and bitter exile, he most dangerous and desirable man in all of England, he burns to possess a proud, headstrong beauty who is promised to another. But winning Emma Stokehurst's exquisite hand through threats and determination does nothing to fill the empty spaces in Nikolas' heart until passion's magic carries the handsome, tormented prince back to a bygone era of splendor and romantic dreams. For there his destiny awaits him in a distant life. And in one remarkable woman's tender touch, achingly familiar but gloriously new, he must seek the elusive promise of ecstasy . . .and learn, at last, to love.

I enjoyed this story, but it was kind of...weird. Time travel and what not. I liked the technically two stories in the book and they were enjoyable but I had a hard time getting past the oddness of the whole idea.

I have more but I'm going to leave those for another time. 

Anything sound interesting to you? What romance novels have you read recently?

--Julie

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Review and Giveaway: Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

This review was supposed to be up on Monday, but, since it's going up late I decided to throw in a giveaway too. Entry form is at the end of the post - I'll order a copy of Sweet Venom from The Book Depository for whoever wins (I'll email the winner on Monday the 10th and it's international, so long as TBD delivers to where you are).

Sweet Venom
by Tera Lynn Childs


Summary: Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.

These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

So I'm a mood reader - I can't just pick up any book and read it, I have to be in the mood for the genre. I was so not in the mood to read a book like this (I was craving contemporary romance), so it took me by surprise how much I ended up enjoying this book.

It was cute and fun and I loved the characters. I'm not normally a fan of books with alternating POV's (as I've probably mentioned loads of times on this blog), I tend to latch onto one character and then all the other chapters are a drag to get through... this book wasn't like that.

Each of the girls had their own distinctive voice and personalities, it wasn't one of those books with multiple POV's where the only thing that allows you to tell the characters apart is the name at the start of the chapter and the girls were all interesting to me and I cared about what happened to all of them.

Gretchen was my favourite, she made me laugh and she was strong and a fighter but at the same time, she was still just a girl - she had kind of a steel coated marshmallow thing going on, all tough on the outside but with a softer side she doesn't show often, and I loved that her sisters brought that out in her and that, even though they're the same age, she kind of seemed like the big sister of the group.

Grace was the awkward, nerdy one who had confidence issues and characters like that, even though they're realistic, can often annoy me but she didn't. I loved the relationship she had with her parents and brother too (Thane was awesome, I wish there was more of him), and the Milo thing was sweet (he was sweet in general really).

Greer - I hated her at first, she seemed so bratty and selfish and like a total snob but then I started to like her - she didn't interest me as much as Gretchen and Grace did, but that may be more to do with the fact she had less going on--and less chapters--than the other two than her actual character.

I love Greek mythology, and I think the spin on it in this book was interesting. I don't have much to say about that part except that I liked it and it kept me entertained. In the first half of the book, there were bits where it got a little slow and I just wanted it to get to the point/the action a little faster, but I loved the second half of the book (and the end was awesome).

I think I may have enjoyed the plot more if the summary wasn't so spoiler-ish - it's kind of kills the surprise and suspense if twists in the story are known right from the start, so when they're revealed to the character, you don't get to feel surprise along with them.

I think that's all I have to say. I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5 (possibly 4 stars, thanks to the ending).

Now, onto the giveaway:

Later.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless
Jackson Pearce
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
[September 4, 2012]

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

This book was nothing like I expected, but I still enjoyed it.

Jackson Pearce wrote two really interesting main characters. Both Lo and Celia are nothing like other characters I've read. Lo was always a back and forth, sometimes Lo and sometimes her former self. Celia is trying to learn how to be one person instead of a part of a team of three. I liked Lo and Celia and found their voices to be very distinct.

As usual for Jackson's fairytale retellings, this was unapologetically dark. It was twisted and although I knew this wouldn't be a Disney story, it went places I wouldn't have imagined. I really liked the part Jude played in the book, as well. That really added to it, I think.

Jackson's writing was interesting, as usual. I didn't think it was going to be a dual perspective and I didn't think Lo would be...like Lo, so it's a bit different from the norm. Jackson's a good, solid writer. Her descriptions were really in depth and let me picture the locations really well. I could really feel the atmosphere of the story.

Despite all the good, I just didn't click with this story. Like I said, it wasn't what I expected. While it was a pretty quick read, something oddly fun to read at the beach, Fathomless isn't a super memorable book for me. It's just another book I read.

If you're a fan of Jackson Pearce's work or really different fairytale retellings, definitely pick this one up. It'll probably go better for you than it did for me.

--Julie

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Book Haul (131)

So, I tried to avoid adding to my TBR pile. But I mean...things happen.

For Review:
The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron (unsolicited)

Thanks to Scholastic and HarperOne for the review books!

Purchased:
Maid for Love by Marie Force (free ebook)
Dubliners by James Joyce (free download from Project Gutenburg for school)
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn ($1.99 ebook)
Love and the Single Heiress by Jacquie D'Alessandro ($1.99 ebook)
His Scandal by Gayle Callen ($1.99 ebook)
A Scandal to Remember by Linda Needham ($1.99 ebook)

In my defense...I'd just gotten a debit card. So, you know. I HAD to try it out a little. *hides*

--Julie





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