Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Maybe It's Time to Be Honest

It's pretty obvious that we've both been bad bloggers for a few months. I can't speak for Lanna, but...I can only make so many excuses.

Yes, I started college and that's a pretty busy time but...I have twenty-seven books that I've read in the past year I can write reviews for. And it takes no more than an hour for me to format, write, schedule, tag, and re-post a review in various places. I spend an hour watching The Daily Show/The Colbert Report four days a week. I spend at least an hour playing Solitaire and watching Netflix probably every day. I try to still spend an hour reading most days. And yes, I had a six class semester this fall and my brain was drained (which is why I read a LOT of romance novels), but what about the past six weeks when I had...nothing?

I can only make so many excuses, guys. And none of them feel good enough. I've had PLENTY of time to write up posts and discussions and come up with things to do and get ahead. But I haven't. I've had ZERO motivation to blog.

It makes no sense, I know. I still want to gush about a lot of books to all of you. And now I'm in a place where I'm surrounded by bookish people and usually that inspires me to do more, but hasn't. I'm more worried about if I'll get a summer internship and when I'll finally get my first editing gig and what I can do as an assistant and for the love of God can I PLEASE just continue my re-watch of The Tudors? Things that aren't important or aren't important yet or are out of my hands consume my thoughts when I could be blogging.

I've been trying to figure out where my motivation went. Was part of it the motivation the thrill of getting packages in the mail and wondering what it was and when it was some wonderful ARC, suddenly I got that little nudge to get back to work? Is not having that anymore hurting my motivation? I'm really doubtful this is the case, even though I DESPERATELY miss getting surprise packages in the mail with the most awesome books. I've been tempted to give it to publishers, but since this address IS so permanent, I only want to give it to publishers I'll keep in regular contact with so I don't risk packages coming here after I've left.

It could be a lack of outer motivation. We'd been so close to 1000 followers for a long time and took FOREVER to happen, which is always discouraging (but seriously, there's now more than 1000 of you? Something I couldn't have dreamed of when I started). Comments have been coming in much less frequently around the blogosphere, and that's definitely disheartening. As much as we all say you have to do this for yourself, when you don't have any motivation and then someone gives you this comment saying you helped them or this blog post was helpful or just something thoughtful and meaningful? It reminds you how awesome this is to do and why you love it. I know we haven't given you much to work with and this isn't just our blog, it's been most blogs from what I can tell, but sometimes the logical voice in my head isn't the loudest.

Could it be the scandals and dangers? There's been such a negative vibe with plagiarism and New Adult issues and many things. So many judgments. So many things that probably need to be said but nobody wants to say them because nobody wants to be the center of more controversy or hate or...any of that. I never thought it bothered me, but maybe it does. Maybe I am more bothered than I thought I was about the author attacks and the Stop the GR Bullies and the plagiarism that's basically gone unpunished and it's built up into a desire to do nothing. And maybe this comes back to me and my desire to say so many things, but my hatred of causing conflict or upsetting anyone. I really, really hate the idea that I might step on someone's toes, which is why I often have my discussion posts pre-read if I think it could be controversial and even sometimes if I know it won't be, but still worry. And maybe the negativity has made that characteristic hypersensitive when it comes to blogging because it feels so easy TO be attacked.

Is it just a natural thing? I mean, yes I've had slumps before, but I'm not sure I've ever had a week go by (besides, I suppose, the week I spend on vacation with my family in summer) where I didn't so SOMETHING. Think about a review, start typing it up, set up a draft, started handwriting a review, doing the whole shebang, posting something prescheduled, dealing with blog emails, setting up blog tour posts...even if it doesn't seem like it, I always have fits where I say "I WILL do something" and start and then that motivation is gone five minutes later. So is this just what happens when you go three years without a real break?

Or maybe it's just part of me growing up. I mean, I still love YA and this community and have so many hopes and dreams and aspirations. But maybe I'm in a phase of life where I'm meant to stop blogging and just worry about the grown up things. The things that will most help me get a job. Then again...THIS is what will most help me get a job, isn't it? 

I still love calling myself a blogger. I love the discussions and the community. I love gushing about books and I really WANT to want to write about them here. I want to give you all paragraphs and paragraphs of gushing over books I've loved and tell you the cold hard truth about books I thought I was in love with, but we clearly had only a fling because I barely remember anything months later. But I just can't. It's killing me not to know what it is or why it's happening. But...I wanted to be honest with you guys. It's something I always strive to do because you deserve that.

I just...really want to be a good blogger again. I miss it. I miss all that comes with it. I miss getting to be creative. But even having said all of this, I have no motivation to close this and open up a new post to write a review. And I hate it. But it's the truth.


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Asunder by Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows
Katherine Tegen Books
[January 29, 2013]

Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.


First of all, Jodi Meadows has this fantastic way of making readers consider the morals of reincarnation. One million souls who become experts in their area of specialty vs. new souls and their new, though less experienced, ideas? It's a question you have to wonder about in a story like this and I think Jodi has done a tremendous job trying to tackle that question throughout the first two books, and I'm betting the fantastic continues into the next.

Then there's the characters. They grow and change and learn so much. Everyone besides Ana has been alive for thousands of years, yet many of them are becoming someone new, someone they've never been before. It's remarkable to imagine people who have been the same, or very similar, for so long suddenly becoming different, all thanks to Ana. Strong, clever, and oh so kind Ana. It's hard not to love her. She's naive at times and make mistakes, but she learns fast and is always improving herself. And Sam. Oh Sam. Pardon me while I swoon? Sam continues to be an incredible love interest in Asunder. And there's also a new character introduced, who I absolutely ADORE, but I won't say anything else. Y'all will find him.

The relationships in Asunder are complex and wonderful and changing. Friendships are growing stronger. Some reveal their true nature. Every relationship evolves in some form and each is significant to the story as a whole. It's always lovely when each part of a book is super important, you know?

Then there is the story itself, where every piece falls into place, entwining perfectly. There's action and mystery and KISSING and just...*sigh* There are no words for the perfection of the story itself. It's pretty much everything I can ask for in a book. 

And do I even have to talk about the perf of the writing? I've mention that she weaves an incredible story and introduces a very interesting, complex topic to consider. But she also has such a way with words that I can picture the world really well. I can see it all in my head and it makes sense and I feel like I'm in the story. I'm always utterly swept away and entranced by her words. 

If you haven't read Incarnate, why are you reading this anyway? Go buy your copy and rejoice in its beauty. If you have, make sure you pick up Asunder today. This is NOT a sequel that disappoints.


Monday, 28 January 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day
by Gayle Forman

Summary: When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left.

Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
This book and I didn't get off to a good start. It wasn't bad in the beginning, far from it, it just underwhelmed me. I think I'm in the minority in not really enjoying those American-Goes-To-Europe type stories. Until I read Just One Day, there had only been one of those types of books that I've really loved (Anna and the French Kiss).

In the beginning (the one day section), I thought this was just going to be another one of those hyped up books that just don't click with me. I wasn't fond of the main character, I wasn't interested in the touristy aspects, the romance didn't really work for me (or the love interest)...but then, somewhere along the way (once I got to the year section of the book), I got hooked and emotionally invested and by the end I was all, "OMG, I love this book!"

I really enjoyed the writing (there were many paper scraps littered through the book on pages with good quotes by the time I was done reading), the characters that I wasn't too fond of started to grow on me, new side characters won me over really quickly and I loved reading about them, and bits of the story that had initially seemed cliché and dull to me got interesting and complex and it impressed me how the author handled it.

I love how she showed the way friendships can change as your lives change, how people can be more than what you think, how there can be more to a story than there seems to be and just...I loved it all. 

I loved how she handled the insta-love thing, too, because it was clear that it was more than just her being obsessed with a guy she just met. It was more about that one day making her realise that she wasn't being the person she wanted to be or living her life the way she wanted to live it - it was more that she loved who she got to be with him, than loving him and the book makes that distinction clear in a way that most insta-love books I read fail at.

When I finished reading, it was one of those, "WHAT?! It cannot end there! I demand a sequel!" kind of moments and I can't wait until the companion novel (or sequel? not sure which it is) comes out so I can see more of these characters and the story.

I still think that maybe the whole American-in-Europe plot isn't my kind of thing, because even though I love the book, that aspect doesn't make the list of things I love about it -- a book has to bring more to the table than just having the entire plot relying on the Europe thing and this book definitely brought the something more. 

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Book Haul 146

I got quite a few books over the past few weeks so...yeah.

For review:

Drowning Instinct by Isla J. Bick - This sounds awesome, I hadn't really heard about it until it showed up in the post. Can't wait to read it.


I've been wanting to read these ones for a while but kept putting off buying them, I pretty much just bought them now because they didn't cost much (it came to about £7.50/$11.85 for them and the shipping for all of them together was only 99p/$1.56 - I suck at converting money, but yeah, didn't cost much).

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackary

I got the flip back version of Cloud Atlas just because I wanted to see what they were like. They're really cute, they're small enough to fit in your pocket - my main issue is that the pages are tissue paper thin so turning them is a pain (ignore the chipped nails in the picture):


My step dad was clearing out stuff from the loft and found a bunch of books he had when he was younger and he said I could keep whichever ones I wanted. I think most were published in the 70's--some might be earlier, some later--and they have that awesome old book feel to them. He would've let me keep them all, but I just took these ones:

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Fire Will Freeze by Margaret Millar
The Ballad and the Source by Rosamond Lehmann
Stranger in the Land by Michael Pereira (can't find a goodreads link for this one)
The Paper Palace by Robert Harling
A Year of Space by Eric Linklater
White for a Shroud by Don Cameron (can't find a link for that one either)

And four old readers digest books. I can't be assed finding the goodreads links and authors names for all of them, but stories in them are:
1. Break In, The Two Farms, Cry Wild, Lie Down with Lions
2. King of the Golden Valley, The Hunt for Red October, This Giving Heart, The Seventh Circle
3. The Choice, The Commodore, In a Place Dark and Secret, Windmills of the Gods
4. Profit without Honour, No Enemy but Time, To Kill the Potemkin, Tree of Gold

And I think that's all I got. What'd you get this week? :)


Friday, 25 January 2013

My Book Wishlist

Agents and editors will frequently talk about things they're looking for in submissions/queries. Sometimes it's genres, sometimes age groups, sometimes things that are more specific. As I'm kind of in a reading slump, I felt like discussing some of the things I would like to see.

1.) Downton Abbey. Maggie Smith Character Preferred

A lot of books have been riding the Downton Abbey-train lately. They tout their likeness to the series and say if you're a fan of the show, you'll love this book! And while they may seem similar on the surface, I've only found one book to really capture the feel and pull me in the way Downton does (Cinders and Sapphires). I do have...I think only two more on my TBR (one of which ties in to another item on my wishlist) and a third I've been eying to see if it really is all it claims to be and I may test out at some point. But, I'd like more. Something like Downton/Cinders and Sapphires please. (And if you can throw in a Dowager-like character, I'd be extra happy.)

2.) Traveling Through Time and Space

This past fall, I kinda fell into the Doctor Who fandom courtesy of my roommate. And lately, I've had an itch for more Who, except I really don't know if I can handle rewatching episodes so soon and the next season doesn't really start for 2 months. So, I could really use a literary version for the between-season-itch it looks like I will now have. I know there are a few YA books with time travel in them. Time Between Us, which is in my TBR pile, and Hourglass, which many of you know is one of my favorite books ever. And, of course, there's The Time Traveler's Wife, which has been another favorite of mine for years. I may have others in my TBR pile that aren't coming to mind right now, but if I loved Hourglass and The Time Traveler's Wife long before Doctor Who entered my life, it seems pretty clear that time travel and I get along well. I want more in my life. And if you can make it very Who-esque (which, I think Hourglass does to some extent), then that'd be extra awesome.

3.) New Adult...The Right Way

I've discussed at length what I think about New Adult, and it's probably not the last time I will. But a lot of the New Adult books I've seen either feature unhealthy relationships or are basically just YA books...but with the sexy times. And I'm not a fan of reading about unhealthy relationships where they're made to seem okay and I've already discussed how I feel about sex and YA and NA in the post linked above. I get it because NA is still pretty new but...I'm ready for some of the good stuff.

I have a Downton-esque NA book on my Kindle and I do have one very well known NA author's book on my Kindle, though it's not the book she's known for since it fell into the unhealthy relationships category from what I can tell. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm trying her other book first. I also know a couple of authors who I have a lot of faith in have been playing around with NA, some of them I've even read their YA or romances. But, you know...I'd like more. Nao.

4.) Robots Take Over the World

I read my first cyberpunk some time ago and I've also read Cinder and...I feel like there's not much more cyberpunk that interests me. I've asked for suggestions, but I get the same handful of books/authors each time and not one of those appeals to me. And it makes me sad because one manuscript (that, admittedly, I love and is part of a series I hope to keep reading), and the next three Lunar Chronicles books are not enough for me. I'm dying for more cyberpunk. It doesn't have to be intense but...gimme something, huh?

5.) I Always Wanted to Be a Princess

I was one of those epic kids who was equal part tomboy and princess. I loved baseball and Matchbox cars as much as I loved my Disney girls and spent a good part of adolescence hoping I'd get a whole Mia Thermopolis-Princess-of-Genovia-SURPRISE thing. I was also a Disney princess for Halloween at least once and seriously considered it other times. I know there are a few fantasy books out there where there's a princess for a main character, and obviously The Princess Diaries, but why not more? I'd love more princesses in books! I read a manuscript recently that was contemporary and somewhat Princess-Diaries-esque and, okay, there was an awesome prince instead of a princess, but it was lovely. It was fun. Why not play with made up royals in more contemporary stories? Even in fantasy/cyberpunk/steampunk/insert-non-contemporar-or-historical-genre-here, why not have more main characters or love interests that are royalty from the get go?

6.) Off With Their Heads?

Most bloggers I know are pretty big fans of historical fiction. And yes, this is separate from Downton Abbey because Downton Abbey is one king of setting and one kind of mood. But what about the Tudors? Gilt is a fabulous book, as is The King's Rose. Or Victorian era, we can talk about Prisoners in the Palace! I would...maybe not kill not my first born either...I would do something extreme if Sarah MacLean wrote another regency like The Season (even though her adult historical romance novels are awesome...Sarah, please, come back to us in YA too!). Then there's one of my ultimate favorite periods, the French Revolution, which was covered well by The Red Necklace, but still under developed in YA. And we can't possibly forget World War II, covered by the widely loved Between Shades of Gray and Code Name Verity (well...maybe not WWII. There might be enough of that). Beyond these, there's plenty of other time periods and places. I mean, Asian-inspired fantasy has been pretty big lately (looking at you, Prophecy and City of a Thousand Dolls), but what about...actual Asian history? Or African history? Or even Eastern European? South American? If you don't want to cover the same old, YA's lacking in the diversity. We're getting better in some genres, so why not work on history, too?

7.) Austen All the Time

I think we've all caught on that I'm a Jane Austen fanatic and will read and probably adore all of the YA retellings of Austen's work. And there's a lot of them. Doesn't mean I don't want more, stop judging me, okay?

8.) More...Love

I want books that make me feel like Anna and the French Kiss and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, full of foreign-to-me places and romance. I want more boys-next-door like...Lola and the Boy Next Door and My Life Next Door. These books had other things going on in them, but at their heart, I'd call them romances. I want more romances. Lighter, funner, falling-in-love stories. I feel like we've got plenty of romance but...not a whole lot like these four books. And that might be why they're pretty well loved around the blogosphere.

9...&10.) Destination...Everywhere

These two kinda fit together, so, go with it, mmk?

I want more road trips. Like Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and Two-way Street (by the way, who else is SO PUMPED FOR RIGHT OF WAY?). I know there's a pretty good number out there, but I think we need more. I may have read more road trip books and I know there are more on my wishlist, maybe even on my TBR, but these are the two that stick. These are the books I need more of.

And I want more contemporary books in foreign places. As mentioned, there's Anna and SPoLAFS and I know there's at least one more on my TBR pile. And, we can't forget the incredible Sea. But I've barely left the east coast of the US and that was a short trip to the desert. I use books to travel and...that hasn't been going so well. Take me to new places. Take me to places that seem overdone, like Paris and London. Give me something like Just One Day, that gets me all over. I'll get to leave the country once, maybe a few more times if I'm lucky. Let me travel through your words more often.

I think that covers about everything? If I'm wrong, maybe I'll do another post about it.

If you know of a book that fits these descriptions or if you're an author who wrote one/is writing one/has sold one, please, let me know so I might stalk these books...and maybe the author (but, just a little bit. Like, twitter and stuff). And if you're a writer who wrote a book in one of these categories and wants someone to edit them/become their cheerleader, I would be MORE THAN HAPPY to be an editor for you (you don't have to fall under any of these categories but...these are clearly extra awesome categories in my book).

And I'm curious, what are you dying to read more of?  


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived
Victoria Schwab
[January 22, 2013]

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Victoria Schwab is a woman who knows how to write a book.

First of all, I have to talk about how absolutely astounding the writing is. It's beautiful and almost lyrical, very haunting. Victoria Schwab has such an incredible way with words and using them to create perfect images in your head or pull on your heart strings as the occasion requires. She's definitely one of the most talented writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

Then Mac? Mac is so awesome. She changes and develops so much from a pretty kick ass girl to a semi-ultimate bad ass (we have to leave room for her to become ULTIMATE bad ass in the sequels, yeah?). I loved that she was strong, physically and emotionally, and dedicated. She was loyal, but not necessarily blindly. She wasn't a model Keeper because she was too curious and man can I relate to that.

And then there's the other characters, all of them crafted extraordinarily well. Mac's Da, her parents, the boys she meets, the Librarians. They have so much detail and so much life. Each one is incredibly important to the story and so very real and wonderful. These characters had depth to them, even if they weren't in the story often or didn't seem super important. And you can tell that Victoria knows so much more about them that we might get to learn in the sequels.

The story itself is this immense mystery and I never saw it coming. I was so swept up in the prose and the characters that I couldn't even try to imagine how it was going to be told or how it would end. It was very intricately woven, little hints you don't really see until the very end. Thinking about it makes me want to go and reread and take notes on how to properly do a mystery like this.

Guys, seriously. Not picking up this book would be a mistake. I'm so head over heels in love with this book, it's ridiculous. I think The Archived is enough to put Victoria on my insta-buy list forever and ever. I know the year's just started, but this is already on my Best of 2013 list, without a doubt (which, admittedly, is already a bit lengthy. But...we'll talk about that later). Run, drive, train, bus, hijack a jet, do something to get your hands on this book.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Book Haul (145)

Happy Sunday, book lovers! 

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (paperback purchased from Strand)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (paperback purchased from Strand)
Countess So Shameless by Liana LeFey (ebook purchased from Amazon)
Scandal's Mistress by C.J. Archer (ebook purchased from Amazon)

For Review:
The Ambassador's Daughter by Pam Jenoff + press tag (accepted paperback review copy for blog tour)
The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont (unsolicited paperback review copy from publisher)

13th Sign t-shirt and candies

So, these two instances were the first time I really bought books since the restrictions set in, with the exception of a free novella I've decided not to count against me (especially as I've already read it).  I'm now up to 15 reads, so I've earned a fifth book and have some wiggle room. I will, however, be going to some signings in the next couple of weeks. Signings are an exception to my buying rule, but I'll still behave as much as possible.

So, how's the near year treating you book-wise?


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Ferragost by Melina Marchetta & Molasses by Kirsty Eagar

by Melina Marchetta

Summary: Lady Celie of the Lumateran Flatlands is visiting the Belegonian spring castle on the isle of Ferragost. Cut off from the rest of Belegonia by poor weather, she is confined to the island with four others, including the mysterious castellan of the castle. When the body of one of the guests is discovered on the rocks outside the east tower, Celie is not only considered a suspect, but finds herself embroiled in events that are entwined with her own kingdom's cursed history, as well as the future of the entire land of Skuldenore.
by Kirsty Eagar

Summary: Couldn't find one and I can't really think of what to write for one.
So this one isn't an actual book, it's two short stories published in an issue of Review of Australian fiction, which can be bought here (or you could read a sample and see if you like it first, they're $2.99). They have a bunch of them with loads of different authors - I haven't checked out what other authors have stories published yet.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that Melina Marchetta is one of my favourite authors and that I absolutely adored her Lumatere Chronicles series - that's basically the reason I read this one.

Short stories aren't normally my kind of thing, they're usually sort of unsatisfying, but I really wanted to read Ferragost because it's a short story set in the Lumatere Chronicles world, featuring one of the side characters that I liked from the novels.

I don't have a whole lot to say about either of the short stories, so I'll just give a mini-review of each:
Ferragost: It started out kind of slow and I was a bit disappointed, but then it got good and by the end, I loved it. It left me desperately wanting more - I didn't want it to end there just as a short story, I wanted to read a whole novel about those characters (I doubt that will happen though), it was awesome seeing another side to a story I already love.

I'd rate it 4.5 out of 5 and I'm really glad I read it...although, now I've run out of Melina Marchetta stuff to read. I'm not sure how/if this would work for someone who hasn't read The Lumatere Chronicles series, but I still recommend checking it out (and if it's confusing, then read the novels -- actually, just read them anyway, they're awesome).

Molasses: A bit underwhelming after reading Ferragost, but then, Melina is one of my favourite authors so it's not really a fair comparison. I've seen loads of rave reviews of Kirsty's books, but when I tried to read Raw Blue, it just wasn't hooking me - I loved her writing, but something about it wasn't clicking so I put it down and plan to finish it some other time. This story? It was basically the same thing; I love her writing, but something about the story just...wasn't working for me. But, unlike Raw Blue, it was only a short story and I was able to finish it easily enough.

I'm glad I read this one too, it just didn't leave a lasting impression. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.
And I guess that's all I have to say. This is the only volume from Review of Australian Fiction that I've read, but I liked it and I might check out more at some point, they're good if you want something quick to read (or in my case, if you're craving more stories from an author you love).


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review: The Dead and the Buried by Kim Harrington (Blog Tour)

The Dead and the Buried
Kim Harrington
Scholastic Point
[January 1, 2013]

A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

This is a quick, enticing read that I really enjoyed!

I'll be honest - reading and I haven't gone great lately. I've only read 2 YA novels lately. Other than that, manuscripts and bits of manuscripts and one novella and...a lot of romance novels. YA just hasn't called to me. But I knew I needed to read The Dead and the Buried and I crossed my fingers and dived in, hoping it could hold me. I didn't expect that I'd be so held that I read almost all of it in one sitting. The part I didn't read in that one sitting, I read on the subway before I was able to sit down and read without interruption. It was really gripping and intense so even when I was exhausted and telling myself to just go to bed, it's 5 in the morning, you can read tomorrow! - I couldn't do it. I was up until like almost 6. It's insanely intense. It also goes really quick. I read like 2 chapters on the subway, but then I read the rest between like 4:30 and 6 while super exhausted.

I found myself really worrying about Jade and her brother, Colby. I felt for her pain in some ways and I was able to sympathize with her. I've never been in her situation, but I definitely understood her and cared about her. She just wanted to live a normal life and protect her brother, no matter what it took. I think a lot of people who care about their siblings can get that.

I was also definitely intrigued by the mystery. As always, I spent a long time skipping around, trying to figure out what was really going on, but never able to nail it down. I got it for a little while once or twice, but then I'd move on along with Jade to another suspect. You might be able to figure it out faster than I do (I think part of me has stopped trying though. I like having to consider everything and find out with the main characters), but it's still interesting to consider everyone. There were a lot of people with good motives.

I also really liked the glimpses of Kayla we got through her diary pages that were scattered throughout the book. We were clearly seeing more of Kayla than most people did, but definitely not all of it. And it was fun to figure out exactly who and what she would be writing about. I wouldn't have minded more, deeper looks at Kayla though.

I will say that it's not scary. Creepy at times, but I never got really scared. I also think I would've liked more character development. I felt like there might've been too many characters with so much potential that was never fully reached. Also, it would've made the book longer, so I would've gotten to read it longer and my addiction might've been better sated. (I rarely say no to longer books, but we've noticed this already, right?)

And now, you get a chance to check it out and try to solve the mystery yourself by entering for a copy!

Isn't that awesome?

You can also check out Kim online:   Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

And you can check out the rest of the tour at the following sites:

January 1st: Mandy @ YA Books Central – Intro & Review
January 2nd: Gabrielle @ Mod Podge Bookshelf – Author Interview
January 3rd: Giselle @ Xpresso Reads - Review
January 4th: Savannah @ Books with Bite – Author Guest Post – Top 5 Ghost Books/Stories
January 7th: Jen @ Hypable - Review
January 8th: Christin @ Portrait of a Book – Fantasy Casting
January 9th: Rachel @ Fiktshun – This or That with Donovan & Kane
January 10th: Amber @ Page Turners Blog – Review
January 11th: Yara @ Once Upon a Twilight – Scenarios & Gemstones
January 14th: Heidi @ YA Bibliophile - Review
January 15th: Andrea @ Reading Lark – Mini Review & Author Interview
January 17th: Katie @ Mundie Moms – Playlist
January 18th: Damaris @ Good Choice Reading – Interview 


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

The Tenth Circle
by Jodi Picoult
Summary: Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She's also the light of her father, Daniel's life -- a straight-A student; a pretty, popular freshman in high school; a girl who's always seen her father as a hero. That is, until her world is turned upside down with a single act of violence.  Suddenly everything Trixie has believed about her family -- and herself -- seems to be a lie. Could the boyfriend who once made Trixie wild with happiness have been the one to end her childhood forever? She says that he is, and that is all it takes to make Daniel, a seemingly mild-mannered comic book artist with a secret tumultuous past he has hidden even from his family, venture to hell and back to protect his daughter.
The only other book of Jodi's that I've read--as far as I can remember--is The Pact, and I loved that book. Because of that book, I own a bunch of her other books too (including this one, obviously) but I seem to be taking a while to get around to them.

This book...I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I enjoyed The Pact, but I did really like it.

I like Jodi's writing a lot. It's not really poetic or particularly distinctive or anything like that, but she will write things that just click with me - I'll be reading and need to stop to highlight loads of quotes with that, "Yes, that is exactly how that feels!" kind of feeling. This book had a lot of quotes that I loved. A few examples:

"There are no cosmic referees. Time-outs do not get called, not even when your world has taken a blow that renders you senseless. The dishwasher still needs to be emptied and the hamper overflows with dirty clothes and the high school buddy you haven't spoken to in six months calls to catch up, not realizing that you cannot tell her what's been going on in your life without breaking down."
"As it turned out, hell wasn't watching the people you love get hurt; it was coming in during the second act, when it was already too late to stop it from happening."
"They'd dressed each other. Fastening and tucking seemed so much more intimate than unbuttoning and unzipping, as if you were privy to putting the person back together whole, instead of unravelling him."
"There were some people who hit your life so hard, they left a stain on your future. She understood how you might spend your whole life waiting for that kind of person to come back." 
I love the characters, and Jodi is one of those rare authors who can write alternating POV's in a way that I like. She makes each character distinctive and gives them their own story instead of having them seem to barely exist beyond the main character and main plotline; she makes me care about them, and most of all, she has a talent for showing that there's two--sometimes more--sides to every story, to every person.

She seems to tackle subjects that are a bit of a gray area, or find the gray areas in subjects that seem black and white. The Pact was about a suicide pact, where one teen dies and the other doesn't. This one is about rape.

There's a lot that I want to talk about relating to the rape aspect, it's difficult to do that without spoiling the book though, so I won't -- the book handled the subject really well. It shows how it can affect not only the victim, but the victims family too. It shows how awful slut shaming is, how badly victims of rape can be treated; as if, somehow, they're the guilty ones...and the sad thing is, it's realistic.

Jodi writes families really well too, in this one, the father/daughter relationship was written really well and was probably the most interesting relationship in the whole book - it made me miss my own dad, which is a bittersweet aspect of the book.

My favourite part was the parts set in Alaska - I loved that setting and the difference in culture was fascinating (it had me trying to find more books about it after I had finished reading).

The only aspect of the book I didn't really like was that, at times, it felt a bit drawn out -- it dragged, it felt like it could've been shorter and still had the same impact. Or a better impact. But, I still kept reading and enjoyed the book in spite of that so it wasn't too big of an issue.

That's all I can think of to say right now that isn't a spoiler. I'd rate the book 4 out of 5 stars. (Oh, and I don't recommend doing what I did - I watched the Lifetime movie version of the book first and while the movie wasn't awful, it wasn't a particularly good adaption either and it does spoil parts of the book.)



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