Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Top Ten Books with Characters Who Don't Live in the UK/US

The theme this week is "Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _____ (are musically inclined, have lost someone, have depression, who grow up poor, etc.)" and I chose characters who don't live in the UK/US... Literally because it was the first thing I thought of, and because most YA books seem to be set in the US or the UK, so these are some of my favourites that aren't.

These aren't in order of preference, they're just in -- well, whatever order I think of them. I tried to choose a variety of genres (except fantasy, to keep them as grounded in reality as possible -- there's one exception on the list, I think).

1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Lithuania) - It's not just set in Lithuania, but the characters are Lithuanian and it shows a side of the war we rarely get to see and it's beautiful and heartbreaking and it made me want to visit Lithuania (and Estonia and Latvia) even more than I already did.

2. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (Russia) - This is set during the siege of Leningrad, something I didn't know too much about. It's a romance but it shows really well what the siege would've been like for people living there too. It's a big book but it's worth reading.

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan) - I wish I knew more people that had read this. I haven't been able to find a book about Afghanistan that I love more than this. It has two awesome Muslim women as its main characters and it has love and family and friendship and it shows Afghanistan in a very real way because we're seeing it through the eyes of people that call it home. It also explains really well the impact that the Taliban had on the country and its people.

4. Stolen by Lucy Christopher (Australia) - Melina Marchetta's books and books by Cath Crowley get an honourable mention for Australian YA too. Stolen is about a girl who gets kidnapped, the book is written like a letter to her kidnapper and it's awesome. Whenever I think of the book, it always reminds me of that hot summer day feeling and you can feel the heat of the sun on your back, it's odd, I don't often associate those kinds of feelings with books (more songs or scents) but this one was different.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Germany) - This is the odd one out on the list, because it's narrated by death, but even in spite of that the story still feels more realistic than fantasy. It's one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking books I've ever read. And, I think it's the only book about world war 2 that I've read that shows the German perspective, and not soldiers, just regular people.

6. Exile by Jakob Ejersbo (Tanzania) - I've not seen many people talk about this one. It's by a Danish author who died before it was published. The main character is an expatriate girl living in Tanzania, attending an international school -- so it's like, she's an outsider but not in the same way a tourist would be because she lives there. The book was weird, I didn't like the ending but up until that point I sort of loved it, it was really gritty and raw.

7. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Ethiopia) - This one is told from two perspectives. One of them is a white American girl, the other is her adopted brother (the son of her mothers best friend) who is half African-American and half Ethiopian. They move to Ethiopia as children and it follows their live there. I was completely ignorant about the war between Ethiopia and Italy until I read this book.

8. Hostage Three by Nick Lake (Somalia) - This one is about Somali pirates, told from the perspective of a British girl but it's the Somali part that made me love it and the way it made me understand the Somalian perspective a bit more than I did before. It doesn't paint them as the bad guys or even the good guys, it just shows them in a very real human way.

9. As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka (Finland) - I don't remember much about this book except that I enjoyed it and that the setting was one of the things I loved most about it. It gave it such a - foreign sort of atmosphere and I loved that.

10. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Mexico) - This is one of my favourite books, and the setting and culture is one of the things I adored about it. It's a beautiful story and...well, just read it an see.


Honourable mention: Girl at War by Sara Novic (Croatia) - It's about the Croatian side of the Yugoslav Wars and it's such an excellent book. Heartbreaking, but excellent. The only reason it wasn't included on the main list is because it's not released until May 21st (UK) and I didn't finish reading it until after I'd written this.

If you know of any others that you'd recommend, let me know?

Later.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
by Gabrielle Zevin


Summary: If Naomi had picked tails, she would have won the coin toss. She wouldn’t have had to go back for the yearbook camera, and she wouldn’t have hit her head on the steps. She wouldn’t have woken up in an ambulance with amnesia. She certainly would have remembered her boyfriend, Ace. She might even have remembered why she fell in love with him in the first place. She would understand why her best friend, Will, keeps calling her “Chief.” She’d know about her mom’s new family. She’d know about her dad’s fiancĂ©e. She never would have met James, the boy with the questionable past and the even fuzzier future, who tells her he once wanted to kiss her. She wouldn’t have wanted to kiss him back. 

But Naomi picked heads.
This book has been sitting on my shelves for years and I kind of wish I'd read it sooner because I really enjoyed it, way more than I thought I was going to. I don't have much to say about the book beyond that really -- I've put off trying to write this review for days because I can't think of anything to say about it.

I liked the writing a lot, and it made me want to read more of Gabrielle Zevin's books (luckily I have her book Elsewhere in my TBR pile). And the characters -- I really liked the characters, especially Will. One of my favourite things about the book was probably Naomi's relationship with Will and one of the only things I didn't like about the book was that it felt like the story was ending just as theirs was beginning.

The other thing that I didn't like much was that Naomi could be a bit frustrating at times and made me want to scream "USE YOUR WORDS!" at the book... She could be really selfish and inconsiderate, but I did like that she grew as a character and appreciated the fact that she was flawed.

Basically, the book was good and I enjoyed reading it. Had I managed to write the review sooner, it would've probably been even more positive because it's one of those ones that I love while reading and just after I finish but over a few days it dims down to simply liking it a lot. I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5 (maybe 3.5).

Later.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Top Ten All Time Favourite Authors

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday topic is top ten all time favourite authors.

I thought it would be impossible to narrow it down but it's weird, I started making this list and realised that my problem isn't that I have too many favourite authors, it's that I don't have enough. The top 4 were easy (so beyond that point, they're not in order of preference), I added those without hesitation but the others were harder.

I think it's because while my list of favourite books is pretty long, being on that list doesn't necessarily get an author onto my favourites list - the Venn diagram of favourite books and favourite authors always overlaps but isn't even close to being a circle. Anyway...

Also, just to note, I am writing this at 4am (well, 3am, since the clocks went forward tonight) so if I get a bit rambling and nonsensical, sorry.

My Top Ten Favourite Authors

1. Melina Marchetta - She gets the top spot on my list without hesitation. Her writing is beautiful, her stories feel original even if she's writing about things people have written about before, she writes these amazingly complex and flawed characters and relationships. Most of her books make it onto my all-time favourite books list...and even my least favourite of her books is still way better than most other books I've read. Basically, she's awesome. I even adored the episodes of Dance Academy that were written by her.

2. J K Rowling - She's an obvious one and an odd one. She wrote one of my favourite book series, a series that I--and so many people--grew up with. A series that helped me and so many others fall in love with reading. So, for that reason, she makes the list. I've had less luck with her books outside of the Harry Potter world, so she's not the same kind of favourite as Melina Marchetta is (where I'm in awe of nearly everything she writes) but more for the impact Harry Potter had on me and on the world.

3. John Green - He's kind of like Melina Marchetta, in the sense that I've yet to read a book of his I didn't love and even his worst was still great. His writing is also beautiful (but in a more -- deliberate way than Melina's? I'm not sure how to explain it...her writing flows as if it was effortless while his feels like he carefully considered each word to make sure it was the best word - kind of like listening to slam poetry vs. reading a haiku, both awesome but different). He's just a really excellent author.

4. Jandy Nelson - I've only read two books of hers (because she only has two released right now), but she was on this list when I'd only read her first. Her writing is like poetry even when she's not writing poems (the first book has poetry in it and it's fantastic), she writes such quirky, odd characters that I'd love to meet. I think it is mostly her writing that gets her on the list though, it's distinctive and lovely.

5. Paullina Simons - I've only read two of her books (The Bronze Horseman and Red Leaves), and they were so vastly different from each other but I loved them both. More than that, but they made me want to read more books with similar subject matter...when an author can spark a craving for more books like theirs, they're obviously doing something right.


6. Rainbow Rowell - I've loved all of her books that I've read so far (Attachments, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl) and what I like most about her is that she can write about things that wouldn't normally interest me and make me love them. And, she has a real talent for making me ache with nostalgia while reading her books -- they're all set during different times, but she just captures certain things so well (be it a fandom or a decade) that I can't help but relate to it.

7. Stephanie Perkins - Her first book, Anna and the French Kiss, was one of the few YA romance books I'd read (at that time) that made me feel like books in that genre could be more than just something cute and fluffy to kill a few hours, and that they could be something more without resorting trying to make it more meaningful by giving the protagonist a dead parent or something like that. I didn't love her other two books quite as much, but they were still really good and I would still read anything she writes now.

8. Eloisa James - This is an odd one to include. She writes historical/regency romance, and I guess she makes the list for being the author that made me realise I do actually really love the genre. Her books may not be literary masterpieces, but they're fun, they're the kind of books that can make me happy if I'm having a bad day and I'm not in the mood to read something emotionally challenging (and it is something that can be credited to her, not just the genre, because I've read books in the genre that I hated).


9. Khaled Hosseini - I've read two of his books and a graphic novel version of the third (The Kite Runner). I absolutely loved one of the books and the graphic novel, the other book was just okay (And the Mountains Echoed), but something about the ones I loved earned him a spot on the list in spite of the fact I didn't love all his books. I just don't know what, maybe it's the fact that he writes stories set in Afghanistan and I love the way he does it (showing the good, the bad, and the beautiful and making me want to read more books set there just so I can see more of it from the perspective of people who love their country).


10. Elizabeth Wein - She writes such beautiful friendships, she writes these strong and flawed and awesome female characters, she's made me wish I knew how to fly a plane even though I'm scared of it...she's just a really excellent writer, I've loved all of her books I've read so far and I'll probably be haunted by Code Name Verity for many years to come.

...Yup. That's it. There's probably loads of really awesome authors that I'm forgetting. It's weird, because I can't even pin point what it is specifically that makes me consider an author a favourite, because these ones make the list for different reasons, and there are authors whose books I love more than some of the ones on the list and yet they didn't make it?

Later.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up (34)

On the Blog
Since we skipped this last week, these are all from the past fortnight. :)


Lanna:
I haven't gotten many new books recently, but these two did show up unexpectedly for review during the week:

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
It's About Love by Steven Camden

I don't know much about either and they're not ones I would've chosen myself, but I'll give them a try -- I've heard good things about Michael Grant and It's About Love does sound like it'll be interesting.

And I also got the audio book of Burial Rites by Hannah Kent with an audible credit I had. I'm only two chapters into it but I love it so far (both the book and the narration). It's one I've been meaning to read for ages and I also wanted to try an audiobook of a book I hadn't read before (so far I've only listened to audio for rereads).

And that's all, I think? What've you all been reading?

Later.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle 
by Rachel Hawkins


Summary: Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
I'm not sure if I made a mistake reading this right now, because I stupidly went into it thinking it was a standalone novel when it's actually the first in a trilogy (I've been trying not to read any new series recently until I get through ones I already own)... But, I regret nothing. Because I loved the book, really loved it.

It was fun and funny and cute and had a cast of characters that I pretty much adored. And, the best part is that it's a very feminist book. Harper is a stereotypically girly girl -- she likes fashion and make-up and dressing up for school dances, and she's popular and a cheerleader...and she's also intelligent and driven and kind and fierce and strong. She becomes totally kick ass without changing who she really is, and I loved that.

Basically, it reminded me of what I loved about Legally Blonde and shows/movies like Buffy, where the female characters may toughen up and their experiences do have an impact on them but they don't start shunning their femininity to be taken seriously as a kick ass heroine. So many books and movies (and people) treat femininity and strength (especially physical) as if they're mutually exclusive traits in and I have a lot of respect for the authors that don't do that, because stereotypically feminine traits aren't a sign of weakness, as much as society has ingrained that into us.

...And before this review turns into more feminist rant than review, I'll get back on track: I loved the other characters too. I loved that it wasn't catty, I loved that it had parents who actually parent and that it had a love triangle that felt genuine and didn't vilify one of the guys to make the other more appealing. I really, really loved that the guys respected her -- they didn't treat her like a damsel in distress, she had faith in her abilities and so did they and... Yeah. So much character love going on here.

I think that's about enough gushing for one review. Basically, Rachel Hawkins is a fabulous author and I'm ashamed this is only the second of her books that I've read (will remedy that soon), and this book is multiple kinds of awesome and adorable. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
Sabaa Tahir
Razorbill
[April 28, 2015]
ARC via publisher

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier — and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Man, did this one gut me. A lot of the times, really hyped books end up as a disappointment, because how can they possibly live up to what we want them to be? I read this one pretty damn early, but there was still a lot of hype. And it deserves every ounce of it.

Sabaa Tahir is a hypnotizing writer. She just has this way with words and weaving stories and going in and out of perspectives that drew me in completely and had me turning pages like crazy. It was spell bounding and beautiful and haunting because this is NOT a happy book. Which I think was part of the magic - Sabaa doesn't pull any punches. She's willing to go to George R.R. Martin levels of playing with your feels. 

I loved the characters. Laia and Elias had this really intense life style in an incredibly dangerous environment and you could feel it, but these characters managed remarkably well. They were easy to sympathize with and like and care for, despite everything else going on.

I also loved how unapologetically dark AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is. This isn't a light, fluffy, happy read. It's dark and it only gets darker and God the sequel will destroy me. Sometimes books try to pull back and give you lightness in the dark, but there wasn't much of that here. It was true to itself.

I don't really have a lot to say about this one. I just know it blew my mind and I'm keeping the ARC and getting a finished copy because it really was that special. I loved this book with all my heart even as it wrecked me. It's not a book for everyone and some of you may need to be cautious going in, but if you can read it, you absolutely should. The hype is legit.

--Julie

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books

So the topic this week is top ten inspiring quotes (it did say "anything that inspires you, challenges you, makes you think, encourages you, etc."). 

The ones I've chosen are not all inspiring in the same way -- some it's because of what they're saying or because they put into words things I've felt before but couldn't express, some purely because it's beautiful writing and made me wish I could write even half as well.

1. “Be careful what you show the world. You never know when the wolf is watching.” ― Jennifer DonnellyRevolution 
2. “Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.” ― Natalie BabbittTuck Everlasting 
3. “Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best.” ― Melina MarchettaFinnikin of the Rock 
4. “My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.” ― Jandy NelsonThe Sky is Everywhere 
5. “I wish you could tell me where you are now. I mean, I know you’re dead, but I think there must be something in a human being that can’t just disappear. It’s dark out. You’re out there. Somewhere, somewhere. I’d like to let you in.” ― Ava DellairaLove Letters to the Dead 
6. “There comes a point when you just love someone. Not because they're good, or bad, or anything really. You just love them. It doesn't mean you'll be together forever. It doesn't mean you won't hurt each other. It just mean you love them. Sometimes in spite of who they are, and sometimes because of who they are. And you know that they love you, sometimes because of who you are, and sometimes in spite of it.” ― Laurell K. HamiltonIncubus Dreams 
7. “Maybe when people longed for a thing that bad the longing made them trust in anything that might give it to them.” ― Carson McCullersThe Heart is a Lonely Hunter 
8. “I like that about art, that what you see is sometimes more about who you are than what’s on the wall. I look at this painting and think about how everyone has some secret inside, something sleeping like that yellow bird.” ― Cath CrowleyGraffiti Moon 
9. “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” ― John GreenPaper Towns 
10. “I know these will all be stories some day, and our pictures will become old photographs. We all become somebody’s mom or dad. But right now, these moments are not stories. This is happening. I am here, and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.” ― Stephen ChboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower
I have pretty odd taste in "inspiring" quotes... it seems a lot of my favourite quotes are about grief and life and what it is that makes us who we are and how we are and they're rarely those upbeat, optimistic kind of quotes -- but the theme did say it could be quotes that make us think, so I guess they still count even if they're not all encouraging and happy.

Later.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Mortal Instruments TV Show Fan Cast

It's been a while since I've done a fan cast post -- making fan casts is actually one of my favourite bookish fangirl things to do, so since The Mortal Instruments is being made into a TV show (and Page to Premiere got me thinking about who I'd like cast), I thought I'd fan cast it.

I'm trying to go with choices that are possible (i.e. not choosing movie stars that wouldn't be likely to do a TV show) and since it's easy to end up using the same cast of characters over and over again for different books, so I've tried to go with less well known ones. 

Clary Fray


Skyler Samuels - I've only seen her in a few things, but I really liked her in Nine Lives of Chloe King. She doesn't fit Clary's description 100%, but with some red hair dye, I think she'd do a good job.

Or Philippa Northeast - Again, she'd need her hair dyed red, but I'd really like her as Clary (and I think she could pull off the red -- she has the pale skin and freckles already). Well, assuming she could do the accent right...She's Australian, but half the cast of big movies and TV shows now seem to have been on Home and Away or Neighbours or some other Aussie show.

Jace Wayland


Luke Mitchell - Another Australian. He's a quite a bit older than Jace, but it doesn't bother me when they cast a little older (maybe because I'm so used to it) or age the characters up, he can pass for younger depending on the character he's playing and if he shaves off the facial hair. Aside from his age, I think he'd be great. And I just want to leave these here, because he's so pretty in motion:


or Hunter Parrish - He's one of the only blonde actors I could think of that looked like they could pull off Jace's brand of sass. He's actually only a year younger than Luke. I can't think of any good age appropriate Jace options (most seem too...nice, like they couldn't get the attitude down, or typically play douche-y guys so the attitude will make them seem like horrible).
  
Simon Lewis


Dylan O'Brien - He's adorable. He's gorgeous, but he's good at playing the awkward, nerdy best friend type who doesn't have a clue how attractive he can be (the fact I like him as Simon is one of the reasons I wouldn't like Holland Roden as Clary -- it'd be like watching Stiles and Lydia from Teen Wolf). 

Alfred Enoch - He's the only other person I can think of that I'd love as Simon. I blame that smile of his, it's just so cute. Plus, he'd make the cast a bit more diverse than it is.

Isabelle Lightwood


Again with the Australians with these two...

Adelaide Kane - She has the right look, and on Reign and Teen Wolf, she proved she could easily pull off all aspects of Isabelle's personality.

Demi Harman - She's an odd one. I've only ever seen her be one character (Sasha on Home and Away) which she plays well and Isabelle is very, very different...so it's hard to picture. But physically, she can look the part. Whether she could act the part, I'm not sure, she'd be a wildcard. 

Alec Lightwood


Dominic Sherwood - Most of my Alec choices are too old (and actually look too old), but Dominic could work. He'd definitely have the attitude down if his Vampire Academy performance is anything to go by.

Jack Falahee - Love him on How to Get Away with Murder, he could definitely play Alec well (if he could look close to Alec's age).

Jocelyn


Rachelle Lefevre - I'm just going to include a gif of her. She looks the part, she could totally play the part too. I can easily picture as the artsy, painter mum and also as the secret bad ass. Plus, her hair is epic and she looks like she could play the mother of my Clary choices (I can't remember how old Jocelyn was when she had Clary, but Rachelle is 36, probably close to 37 by the time the show happens...so, it's possible).

And that's all I've got. I can't for the life of me think of someone for Magnus, because I loved the movie casting and any other options I think of look far too old or far too young.

Who would you like to see cast in the show?

Later.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins

Miss Mayhem
Rachel Hawkins
Putnam Juvenile
[April 7, 2015]
ARC via publisher
Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.
 Oh, Rachel Hawkins. The magic you keep putting into my hands.

I adore Harper so much because she's so very much true to herself and her roots and what she wants in life always. Even after life throws this hook in that book 2 shows, she still remains true to her utterly glamorous and fashionable self. And she still manages to have this really amazing character development arc through each book and I love watching her grow and I just love her so much and want her to build my wardrobe and show me how to use stilettos most effectively.

Hawkins also looks at romantic relationships so honestly. It's not all easy and there are real concerns and what the hell will you do in the future? These are things that have to be considered at some point in a relationship and teenagers can think about these things. There's also an acknowledgement of the importance timing and life situations can play and that not every break up has to be a bad one. Sometimes it's just the right choice.

I also love the voice Hawkins puts in her books. It's so distinct and so her, but still unique to her characters. She's found that difficult to balance sweet spot of authorial voice and character voice and it shines through in this series. It pairs with her general talent for creating these amazing stories where you can never predict what's next, these concepts that aren't super common in YA, and this general epic writing talent and it combines to create one of my favorite writers of all time.

What I'm saying is, Rachel Hawkins is perfect and this sequel is perfect and you need to read them ASAP. Pick up Rebel Belle if you haven't read it or just go ahead and order this one to arrive pronto. It's such a great piece of YA, especially if you're a feminist. 

--Julie

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Top Ten Characters I'd Like to Check In With

So the topic this week is top ten characters you'd like to check in with after the story ends and I'm going to cheat with some of these -- they won't all be specific characters I want to check in with, more worlds I'd like to check in with...see how things turned out for all the characters in those worlds. I'll try to explain the why's without actually spoiling how the books end.

1. Harry Potter - Starting with the obvious. I know I'm not alone in this, but I'd love to just see their
lives somewhere down the line. I'm not one of those people that hated the epilogue, my issue with it was purely that it tried to cram so much into so few pages. I think, even more than knowing how the main characters are, I'd like to know what their kids lives are like at Hogwarts.

2. The Lumatere Chronicles - Particularly Froi and Quintana, and Lucian and Phaedra... The series ends perfectly, but I would devour even a short story about any of these characters set sometime after where the last book left off. I loved the characters so much, and loved the relationships so much, and Melina Marchetta writes them so well -- I just want more of them.

3. The Host - This book wasn't perfect, but I did actually really kind of love it and I really hate that Stephenie Meyer said she was writing sequels for it but then changed her mind, leaving fans of the series hanging. I want to see more of how the relationships between the characters changed after the way the book ended. I want to know how things turn out for the world.

4. Jacob and Leah from Twilight - I have very conflicted feelings about the Twilight series, but I would like to see Jacob Black somewhere down the line -- mostly to
see how hilariously Stephenie Meyer tries to write his relationship with Renesme in a way that isn't creepy. I also felt bad for Leah, I'd like to know that she got a happy ending (personally, I think the last book would've been way better if she'd paired Leah with Jacob and threw the whole imprinting on a baby nonsense out the window...way less creepy, and would've been one of the only non-insta love relationships in the book).

5. Ava Lavender from The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - This is a more recent book that I read, but I'd really love to see what happened to her and the people in her life after the story ends...and I can't explain why without spoilers, so I'll leave it at that (and if you haven't read the book yet, do it! It's beautiful).

6. Lina from Between Shades of Gray - We do get to know how things turn out for her, sort of, but the story kind of does that thing where it jumps a lot of time in the last chapter so we know where the characters end up but don't get to see them getting to that point. So this is less wanting to check in with them and more...I'd like to see the in-between bits, between where they were and where they end up.

7. Winnie from Tuck Everlasting - This is another one that is less about knowing how things ended
for her, because we do get to know that, and more wanting to see how she got there. I want to see the life she had, I want to know if she ever questioned her choices or if she made them without any moments of regret.

8. Ty and Gemma from Stolen by Lucy Christopher - I want to know if they ever meet again. I want to know if Stockholm Syndrome is something Gemma ever gets over or if it haunts her for the rest of her life. I want to know how things turn out for Ty, if he gets help and overcomes his issues.

9. Nick and Amy from Gone Girl - Mostly because that ending was very "WTF?!" and I'd love to see how it all plays out.

10. Grace from Entangled by Cat Clarke - Reading this book hurt, I doubt I'll ever reread it. But even years later I'm still angry about things that happen in the book... I want to know that things turn out okay for Grace, that she realises she deserves so much better.

Later.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up (33)

On the Blog


Julie

Book Haul


Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
One Night by A.J. Pine 
The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman
One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed 

A big week for me! Most of these were actually unsolicited finished copies, plus one requested copy and some egalleys I requested. Written in the Stars may actually be from a different week since I'm at my parents' for spring break and it was here when I arrived.

Books Read


The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

I've been a really restless reader, lately, but I LOVED The Fixer and I'm hoping to marathon through a bunch of books, even if it's mostly romance novels (since those tend to be my go tos when I get restless.)

Upcoming Reads


I dunno! I'm keeping my options open since I've been jumping around a lot. Suggestions are VERY welcome.

--Julie


Lanna:
I just got two books this week, I think, but I have been reading a lot more (I think I finished four books, and I'm halfway through two others). Anyway, books I got:

The It-Girl by Katy Birchall (for review) - This one randomly showed up and it doesn't sound like my kind of thing but I might read it and see.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare - I still need to read the 5th book but I just got this one to complete my series seeing as it was only £2.99.

And I think that's all. Hope you all have a lovely Easter. :)

Later.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Cracked Up to Be
by Courtney Summers


Summary: When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.
I've read some of Courtney's other books and enjoyed them, but for some reason I left this one sitting on my shelf for ages gathering dust. Now that I've finally read it, I'm mentally kicking myself for not reading it sooner because not only is it my favourite of her books so far, but it's now also one of my time favourite books in general.

I picked it up on a whim and I sat down intending to only read one chapter, next thing I know it was nearly 5am and I'd accidentally read the whole thing from cover to cover. After only the first few pages I was getting those I-can-tell-this-is-the-beginning-of-a-beautiful-friendship type feelings and I knew without a doubt that it'd be a 5 star read after just the first few chapters.

Courtney Summers writes some of the best contemporary YA out there. Her stories are gritty and raw and real, and she writes manages to write subject matter that other authors have tackled before in a way that feels fresh and original.

But enough author fangirling and onto specific stuff about this book...

Parker was a really odd character, because right from the start I really liked her. The reason that's odd is she's not exactly a nice person -- she says and does horrible things way too often. And yet I liked her anyway. Because she was interesting and flawed, and she wasn't all bad and she actually had me laughing quite a few times while reading the book too.

I didn't need for her to be likeable to love the book, it was enough that she was complex and never bored me, but the fact that I did like her made it easy to understand why the other characters would too in spite of how she treats them. What I'm trying to say is that it impressed me that Courtney Summers managed to write a character that it would be so easy to hate and yet I found it impossible not to like and care about her (I'm not sure if I'm in the minority there -- I've definitely seen reviews of people who hated her character).

And the other characters... I loved them too. Especially Chris, and Jake, and Bailey (yes, a dog was a favourite character). And I lovelovelove that she had parents that were both alive and actually present, which doesn't happen nearly as often as it should in YA.

Anyway, that's all I can say without spoilers. The book was fantastic and it gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Later.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

As White As Snow by Salla Simukka

As White As Snow
by Salla Simukka


Summary: Lumikki Andersson may be innocent, but she's no Snow White...

Three and a half months have passed since Lumikki Andersson was left for dead in a snowdrift - a bullet wound in her thigh and frostbite creeping into her skin. But the scorchingly hot streets of Prague in summer provide a welcome contrast to that terrifying time, and now Lumikki just wants to move on - forget the events of the past year, forget about the Polar Bear's crime ring - and escape her parent's oppressive concern... She's alone again, which is just how she likes it.

But Lumikki's peaceful solitude is about to be shattered. She is approached on the street by a nervous young woman, who, unbelievably, thinks she might be Lumikki's long-lost sister. Lumikki is unconvinced - although Zelenka's story seems to ring horrifyingly true - but there's something weird about her. Something jumpy, and suspicious.

Turns out Lumikki is right to be wary, as Zelenka is part of a dangerous religious cult who believe they are descendants of Christ - and that Lumikki is one of them, and must be 'martyred' alongside them. On the run for her life again, Lumikki must once more draw on her all her powers of resolve and strength if she is to survive.
 
I don't have a lot to say about this book really, except that I enjoyed it. The plot didn't hook me quite as much as the first book did, but I liked the character development even more.

We got to know a bit more about Lumikki in this book, more about her past and the relationship that was mentioned in the first book but not explained much -- I think that was my favourite thing about the book.

And I lovelovelove that her previous boyfriend is transgender, and I love the way their relationship was written to show that it didn't matter to her but it also showed how simply being accepting of something isn't always enough, you have to understand it too or you can never really get the struggle the person is going through. If there's another book in the series, I really hope we see more of Blaze because even though he was only present in flashbacks I think he was my favourite character.

The setting was awesome, Prague is somewhere I've always wanted to go so I loved reading a story set there (the setting was one of the things that drew me to the book in the first place), it made me want to go there even more. And the story -- I liked the whole cult aspect of it, but because the book was so short (200-ish pages), it didn't feel like enough to really give a storyline like that the full attention it deserved.

The only thing about the book I really didn't like was something that bothered me about the first book too (not majorly, I just wasn't into it) was the fact that it includes some random chapters from the POV of the antagonists in the story because at those parts it tries too hard to be sinister and cryptic (if you watch Pretty Little Liars, it's like the random A scenes and they just don't mesh well with the rest of the story). I never like the way those chapters are written but the rest of the writing is good.

...It seems I had more to say than I thought I did. Oops.

Anyway, I really liked the book. This is an odd little series and I can't pin point what it is about it that makes it that way, but there's some quality that it has that is distinctly unique from any other books I've read and keeps me wanting more. I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5 (maybe 4?).

Later.

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