Friday, 31 January 2014

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Being Sloane Jacobs
by Lauren Morrill

Summary: Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
So...I didn't really like this book much. I didn't have very high expectations for it, I just wanted a quick, fun read but even with low expectations it still left me pretty disappointed.

It didn't really hold my attention. I should've gotten through it pretty quickly, but instead I'd put it down and could only read a chapter or two at a time before getting bored of it--I only finished it because I was being stubborn, not because I particularly wanted to.

The story was kind of bland and the characters...well, some of them had potential but something about the way the story was told just stopped me from getting attached to any of them (the dude who befriends the Sloane Devon is the best one, but I can't even remember his name now). It felt kind of like it skimmed over the parts of the story that would've been interesting and just summed it up later (particularly the early classes/practices).

And the romance...it wasn't bad, it wasn't good, it wasn't anything at all really. It was just there. There was zero chemistry between either of the pairings, there was no spark, I was bored reading most of their scenes so it didn't matter to me at all whether or not either couple ended up together or not.

The story felt too far fetched too. Maybe it's because I didn't care about the characters or the plot or anything, so there was nothing really keeping me entertained enough for suspension of disbelief to happen.

...I hate writing negative reviews and normally I'd try and think of something I liked about a book but beyond liking the cover of this one, I can't think of anything. I'd rate it 2 stars out of 5 (I really didn't hate it and it wasn't awful, I just didn't think it was good).

But, this is just my opinion. Here are a couple of more positive reviews so you can see the opinions of people who enjoyed the book more than I did.

Later.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting 
by Ann Brashares

Summary: Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book when I first heard about it, because I read some spoilers about a major thing that happens in the book and I'd read quite a few negative reviews of it (mostly from people who didn't like the thing the spoiler was about). But now that I have read it, I am so glad that I did.

I loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series when I read it years ago, and what surprised me most about this book was how easy it was to step back into this world and care about these characters--I didn't have to reread the series before reading this one, I just jumped right in and it clicked with me from the start (and made me cry quite a few times).

The series has some romance in it, but it's mostly a story about family and friendship and how friends can be your family too, and I thought the series ended well with the fourth book but I'm really happy Ann decided to write this one to show us where and who the characters would be as adults.

I love that it shows how people change and relationships change and how life happens even if you don't want to, it goes on even if you try to be still and cling to what used to be. I love that it showed the bad parts of life as well as the good. And I really love these characters, because they're all really flawed--they make mistakes, they do things that annoy me or frustrate me, but I never hate them at the end of it all.

Another thing, I really liked the writing. The writing isn't something I noticed or remembered much from the first four books, but I noticed it in this one and found myself marking a few quotes I really liked.

And...I think that's all I have to say about the book really. So much of the story revolves around something I don't want to spoil, so I can't really talk about it anymore than this.

If you haven't read the series, I really recommend it. And if you have read the first four but not this one, go read it now because it's worth it (even if you've read certain spoilers--like I did--that make you not want to), it seems to be a love it or hate it kind of book, but you just might love it.

Later.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone 
by Kat Rosenfield

Summary: An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.
So, when I first finished this book, I thought I loved it. And I guess I do love it, but because I left a week between finishing the book and writing this review, I realise now that I didn't love it as much as I originally thought I did.

The best thing about the book is that it's really well written. Seriously, the writing is lovely and that's why I thought it was so great initially. The thing is though, it takes more than just great writing for a book to really stick with me. You know how sometimes you'll read a book and you're still thinking about it for days after finishing it, and even if you think about the book weeks or even months later it still stirs some feeling inside of you? This one didn't do that, it didn't linger with me at all really.

I think the problem was mostly that the story and characters were just okay. The plot didn't have me hooked, I didn't feel invested at all in what was happening and I didn't really care about the characters or what happened to them because, while it was well written, it was written in a way that made it hard for me to empathise with the characters or feel like I knew them really. 

Beautiful writing makes the reading experience more enjoyable while I'm reading, but I need the characters or the story (preferably both) to get under my skin for a book to make a lasting impression on me.

And this review seems negative but I don't intend it to be. The book is great and definitely worth reading and it still gets a pretty high rating from me (4 out of 5 stars), it's just that I finished it thinking it had earned a spot on my favourites shelf but I was wrong.

But yeah, I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars. It's worth reading purely for the writing, and maybe you'll have more luck connecting to the story and the characters than I did.

Later.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Mini-Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms
Morgan Rhodes
Razorbill
[December 11, 2012]

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
This book wasn't what I expected and a bit of a let down.

I was expecting something very Games of Thrones-esque.  Twisty and dark but with light moments. Still relatable. And while it had elements of Game of Thrones, it was lacking...something for me. It's now been a long time since I read, and nothing really sticks with me from that initial reading. The writing and characters are intriguing enough and the concept is interesting, but there's nothing really special to me about it. 

However, I liked it enough to be pretty excited to find a copy of the sequel available at NYCC and pick it up and probably read it soon. Because there is something intriguing and I think part of the issue may have been that it was a LOT of set up for the next books in the series (I think there are three more?) so, in theory, the sequel will be way better. But, I'll have to let you know.

--Julie

Monday, 20 January 2014

Let's Talk About The Book Thief: Part 2

You may remember that a month-ish a go, I talked about going to meet some of the actors from The Book Thief and that I had more to talk about (mostly meeting the director+producer) later. Well...today is that day.


When Brian Percival, the director, and Karen Rosenthal, the producer, entered the room, we had been discussing how the film managed to work for all ages and how it met with the idea of death. One blogger directly mentioned that, and Brian replied, saying, "That was the time that it really didn't go too hard and too real. I wanted this to go to as wide an audience as possible because the disparity of the book is the most wonderful thing about it. That would understandably limit what it had to show, but I never wanted to show it that way anyway, because the feeling was that it might just be another part of life, passing on into another state."

Karen expanded on this, by explaining that the producers and people at Fox supported Brian's vision completely, especially as death narrates the book. "What was unique to the telling of this, which Brian immediately recognized, was that it was told from the point of view of death, and that in telling from the point of view of death, it's also extremely life affirming. We have a young girl who goes from age ten to age 90 and has learned how to live and embrace life through tragedy."

The next question was if death was always going to play some role in the film, which was a quick yes. They both agreed that death was too important to the story to leave out, though they also didn't want to do entire voice overs since younger audiences can stop paying attention when that happens.

Equally important to the story is Liesl, a complex character who ages several years over the course of the book. The movie had to pull this off somehow. The search for someone to play Liesl took them all over the world until Markus Zusack suggested checking out the movie Monsieur Lazhar. Sophie Nelisse's performance in the movie won them over.

As Brian put it, "A lot of children that we auditioned or other people auditioned all around the world fell into one camp or the other. They were either quite feisty or didn't have that vulnerability or were too vulnerable. And Sophie's got both sides to her."

The Book Thief is probably out of most theaters at this point, because I suck, but if you haven't seen it and it is in your theaters, you really need to. It's incredible and Sophie really does captured Liesl so well. All of the care they put into this movie is obvious. And if it's not still in your local theater? Go ahead and pre-order a DVD and a box of tissues.

--Julie

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New Adult on the Block: A Little Too Hot by Lisa Desrochers




A Little Too Hot
Lisa Desrochers
William Morrow Impulse
[January 21, 2014]

If you play with fire…

Tossed out of college and cut off by her parents, Samantha West is in pretty dire straits. So when her rocker best friend hooks her up with a job dancing at a gentlemen’s club, who is she to turn it down? Plus, there are rules to dancing at Benny’s: No touching, keep your clothes on at all times, and never get closer than three feet. Unfortunately for Sam, her first private client makes her want to break every single one of them.

Harrison Yates is scorching hot, but he’s got a past that involves being left at the altar not too long ago. Sam is determined to make him forget about his ex, but when she makes her move, it flings her life into a spiral of chaos she never saw coming.

Because Harrison Yates isn’t who he seems to be. And his secret will probably get her killed.

I'm an unabashed, long time fan of Lisa's.  And I've said before that her writing New Adult is like the greatest thing ever. But what I really love is that her plots aren't predictable. She always takes these "cliche" elements and does something unique and wonderful with them. They're presented in a way I don't see coming.

To add to that not seeing things coming, I also never read the description for this. I knew I was just going to want it, so why bother? MYSTERY GUYS. It did increase my "What's going on?" factor a bit. Obviously, it's a bit late for you but...you know. We tried.

I adored Samantha and the relatable path she was on and loved watching her grow. She really was just trying to figure out who she was and where she wanted to go and I loved that. And she had these friendships that were questionable, which made them realistic. Friends aren't always all good or all bad and the ones she had reflected all the colors of the friendship rainbow.

On top of that, there's Harrison, who was just all kinds of fabulous. Like...I want to describe him, but don't want to spoil things. But he's good to Samantha and he's good for her and it's the little things guys. And the chemistry. Oh the chemistry. Harrison gives good chemistry guys. Really, really good. Especially to Samantha.

Lisa's writing is, yet again, utterly enthralling. I stayed up WAY too late reading this. It actually might have been one of the nights where I didn't get to bed until 6 am and I also think it was one of the days I had to get up at a decent hour. So, I lost a lot of sleep over this book and had zero regrets about it. And I loves my sleep.

Basically, whenever Lisa's writing a book, you can expect sexiness, incredible writing, and a plot line turned on its head. And with every book, she finds some way to improve and I don't even know HOW at this point, but at this rate, her next book will make me implode from pure phenomenal-ness.

If you need some more convincing, you can read the first three chapters here:



Now that you're convinced, you should go pre-order it. And when you do that, you get an extra chapter told from Harrison's perspective. Just pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or iBooks, then submit your link here.

Then, you can enter this giveaway to win signed copies of the New Adult books written by the authors who blurbed Lisa!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

--Julie

Monday, 6 January 2014

Book Haul (165)

Julie:
I really gotta stop skipping weeks for book hauls like this. Especially after the holidays.

Ebooks:
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (via Netgalley)
Bidding on the Billionaire by Rachel Angel (free for Kindle)
Fat Chances by J.S. Wilsoncroft (free for Kindle)
Fall for You by Cecilia Gray (free on iBooks)
One Wild Night by Magan Vernon (free on iBooks)
Loving Protector by Sally Quilford (free for Kindle)
A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan (free for Kindle)
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (purchased for Kindle)
One and Only by Viv Daniels (purchased for Kindle)
One Perfect Night be Bella Andre (free for Kindle)
Unwrapped: A New Adult Anthology (purchased for Kindle)
A Little Too Hot by Lisa Desrochers (via Edelweiss for blog tour)
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley (purchased for Kindle)
If You Give a Rake a Ruby by Shana Galen (purchased for Kindle)
The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne by Jayne Fresina (purchased for Kindle)
The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds (purchased for Kindle)
A Gentleman Says "I Do" by Amelia Grey (purchased for Kindle)
Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally (purchased for Kindle)
Anastasia Forever by Joy Preble (purchased for Kindle)

Physical Books
Soulless: The Manga Volume 1 by Gail Carriger (bought by mom)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (gifted by parents for Christmas)
How to Love by Katie Cotugno (gifted by parents for Christmas)
If the Shoe Fits by Megan Mulry (gifted by parents for Christmas)
These Broken Stars by Megan Spooner and Amie Kaufman (gifted by parents for Christmas)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (gifted by parents for Christmas)
The Elite by Kiera Cass (gifted by parents for Christmas)
Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed (gifted by parents for Christmas)
You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith  (gifted by parents for Christmas)
The Secret Daughter of the Tsar by Jenny Laam (gifted by parents for Christmas)

There are a couple more I can't remember off the top of my head, so I'll throw them in the next one. Anything I should bump to the top of the pile?

--Julie
Lanna:
So, I actually intended to post way more reviews and stuff these past few weeks but then some bad stuff happened and I couldn't focus on reading, but I'm halfway through one of the books in this haul so I should have a review up for that soon. And I should also just shut up and get on with the whole book haul thing...

For review: 
Slow Twitch and Junk Miles by Liz Reinhardt - These sound good, but it'll be a while before I can review them because I don't own the first book yet.
A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey
When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan - Not one I would've picked up on my own, but it sounds interesting.

Bought for Christmas:
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield - Love this so far.
The Train by Diane Hoh - Because I was still feeling nostalgic for Point Horror books.
I got A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers too (Julie's fault) but it hasn't arrived yet.

And I got these too...

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst - I will fangirl over this one a little more below with more pictures...
Maus by Art Spiegelman - I finally caved after seeing so many great reviews

Kindle books:
Tangled by Em Wolf - I'm so glad she published this, I've read a few versions of it over the years on fictionpress and livejournal. I hope she decides to make physical copies available too.
Picture Perfect by Alessandra Thomas - Saw recommended on twitter and it's free on Kindle right now.
How to Date a Nerd by Cassie Mae - Got since I enjoyed Switched
The Most to Lose by Laura Landon
Charming the Prince by Teresa Medeiros

Now, for the S. fangirling:
S. really is one of the most creative and aesthetically pleasing books I've seen in ages. It's in a slip case and the book is designed as if it's an old library book (aged pages and all) with two people having a conversation in the margins (so there's two stories--the novel itself, and the story of the readers), and it has napkins with writing on them and articles and post cards and stuff inside and it's just...dflvjndlvj! Even if the story sucks, I won't regret getting it because of how well designed and original it is:

What'd you guys get for Christmas? Any good books/book-ish things? I hope you all had a lovely Christmas/New Year. :)

-Lanna

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