Thursday, June 30, 2011

Break-Up Follow-Up

Back in January, I posted about how I totally broke off my relationship with Paranormal YA novels. Today, I thought I'd post a little follow-up about how our relationship is now.

Since I broke it off, I've read less than a handful of books with a paranormal element. The few I have read did not blow me away, but they were at the very least alright. However, I still don't think I'm ready to renew our relationship.

My time spent without paranormal has been too blissful. Sure, not every book I've read since the break-up has been amazing, but I haven't felt a vehement hatred for any of them, like I sometimes do with the worst of the cliche paranormal. Instead, I've been able to read the books I truly want to, and the ones I truly think I'll enjoy, rather than reading the paranormal books everyone else seems to be loving because I foolishly think I will love them too.

I'm sure I will have to start our relationship all over again eventually, even if it's only for a short while. There are still a few paranormal books still in my to-be-read pile that just...look at me. Waiting to be read, tempting me with tales of praise from other readers. But, I've remained strong and not picked them up. I'll have to read them some day, so they stop looking at me, but that day is not this day. For now, I am sticking to my loves of contemporary and historical (with a bit of sci-fi/dystopian on occasion), because they treat me much better than paranormal ever did.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alexandra Bracken Interview

Even though I claim to not really like high fantasy, there are still books in the genre that I adore. One of them is Brightly Woven, a 2010 debut by Alexandra Bracken that totally deserves more love because of how awesome it is. Yesterday, it was released in paperback, so it's much cheaper but just as fabulous. Now you truly have no excuse not to read it.

How could you resist this summary and cover? 
Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.
In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.
Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.
 Seriously. Read it.

To celebrate the paperback release, I have an interview with its wonderful author, Alexandra Bracken.

Without furthur ado:

Brightly Woven has been out for a little over year now, so I must ask: what has been your favorite part of your debut year?

I think this is maybe a little cliche to say at this point, and I doubt my ability to convey it sincerely, but it really has been getting to know our wonderful community. From librarians to bloggers to other authors and everyone in between. My day job involves a bit of traveling and meeting different people in the industry, and I'm always amazed by what a small, warm world it is. (Second fav: seeing a physical copy of my book on the shelf because, holy crap, there are no words to describe that.)

I have been jamming to the Brightly Woven playlist ("Faded from the Winter" and the Sigur Ros track are my faves), and every time it ends, I am a bit sad. What's one song you would add to it and how does said song relate to the book?

Oh, you know what? Just the other day I was listening to the song "Roll Away Your Stone" by Mumford & Sons for the two thousandth time, and it really struck me how well it was suited to North. The lyrics are gorgeous and open to many, many interpretations, but I've always seen the song as being about someone rolling away a figurative stone and really peering into themselves to finally examine who they are and want to be, and shaking off the darkness lurking there. Actually, come to think of it, a good number of their songs could really work alongside BW--"After the Storm" and "To Darkness" in particular. I wish their album had been out while I was writing/editing!

I just gave that song a listen and I wholeheartedly agree! Excellent choice. 

Alex and me at ALA
Brightly Woven is one of my favorite fantasy reads. What are some of your fantasy books (or movies or other forms of storytelling)?

Would it surprise you to know that I'm actually not all that well-read in the fantasy genre? I never went much beyond the fantasy classics, which is a little embarrassing to admit, and most of those were rooted pretty solidly in reality. I might have loved The Hobbit, but I loved The Phantom Tollbooth and A Wrinkle in Time (well... let's stretch fantasy to include sci-fi) even more. And, duh, Harry Potter (king of my heart)! When I was younger, it was easier for me to relate to stories that had one foot in our world and another in some place magical, almost like I needed to know that slipping into an exciting, magical place was possibility when life on this side got too hard. Trust me when I say that no one was more surprised than me when BW came out as a fairly traditional high fantasy story. It was the kind of situation where I sat down and just began writing, and the story glared back at me from the Word document and demanded to be taken in that direction. BW always had a mind of its own, for better for worse...

Actually, one of the best compliments I've ever received about the story came from someone who said that they, on a whole, disliked reading fantasy but found themselves pulled along on Syd and North's journey. First and foremost--giving a nod to Wee Alex, who never liked having to keep track of fantasy names with seven consonants in a row--I wanted the story to be as accessible to as many people as possible.

Yeah, I am not the biggest fantasy reader either, but Harry Potter and The Phantom Tollbooth (and Brightly Woven, of course!) are LOVE. 

When you are not working and writing and being your awesome self, what else can you be found doing?

Sleeping, mostly! Watching movies or hardcore marathoning TV shows. I realize this makes me sound like baby sloth, but I have so little free time between writing-work and day job-work, that it's always a surprise when I realize I have free time on my hands. I'm pretty determined now to teach myself how to speak French, so I'm adding that to my short hobby list (the next time I go to France, I don't want a repeat of what happened the first time, when I didn't eat for two days because I was too intimidated to go into a restaurant and try to order). Anyone have any good recommendations for programs/lessons?

Obligatory Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy picture
At least your lack of French language knowledge resulted in a fun story? Though I'm not sure "fun" is the right word.

I've been a bit obsessed with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender X-Men: First Class lately. If you were an X-Men, what would your power and code name be?

Um, forget about the mutant name and power (clearly I would be Solar Belle, able to beam down amazing weather at any moment of any day, even in the winter), can we talk about the men--thanks to Tumblr--who are known only to me as McFassy or Fassavoy? Everyone over there is so obsessed with the two of them that I've actually started to think of them as one dreamy whole? I don't think I can see X-Men: First Class in theaters, though, because I'm afraid of the reaction I'll have while seeing them together on screen.

You should totally see it because they are GOLD together! 

 ---

Thanks so much, Alex!

Everyone else: you can find out more about the one and only Alex Bracken and Brightly Woven over at her website, twitter, and tumblr. And once you're done doing that, you can go read the book! Seriously. Do it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

[description from goodreads]

Since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move - four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself - whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out. Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

Review:

It's hard for me to discuss a Sarah Dessen novel without discussing it in relation to every other Sarah Dessen novel. I know it isn't fair to do that, but there is no denying that they all have similarities. Small town, jaded girl, broken family that will be somehow mended in the end, love interest-- they all appear in pretty much every Dessen book. They are all good-- well-written, realistic, fantastic characters-- but I feel like I've read the same thing over and over. Such was my reaction to What Happened to Goodbye-- it's good, but I feel like even though it does have the common Dessen elements, it doesn't really stand out next to her other work.


What Happened to Goodbye does differ from the other Dessen books because it emphasizes family far more than the romance. In fact, I'd go as far to say that the romance in this book doesn't even matter that much and was frankly not all that interesting. I got the feeling that I was supposed to love Dave like I'm supposed to love nearly every other Dessen boy, but he was so...boring. His and Mclean's relationship never goes that far beyond friendship and even when they're friends, they don't seem to get to know each other; therefore, I didn't either. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to view him the same way as I view the other Dessen guys, but even if I wasn't, he still wasn't that great. The other friend characters were similarly a bit lackluster. I liked the surprises from new friend Deb and the great group dynamic in the friendship circle Mclean joins, but no one really stood out to me. 


However, the family, the main focus of the book, was fabulous. The love Mclean's father has for both Mclean and the job he's doing is apparent. I loved how close the two were, and how they were able to instinctively help each other out, having taken care of each other for so long. He's definitely a cool dad. Mclean's mom was not as cool, but that doesn't mean she was a bad character. Even though her meetings with Mclean are few, much to her dismay, every time she is present, she jumps off the page. Her overprotective nature, her love for her daughter, her annoying qualities, all come alive, aided by Mclean's constant musings on her mother's influence in her life. And lastly, Mclean herself. No matter the fact that each Dessen narrator sounds the same to me, Mclean does manage to stand on her own, if not stand out against some of the other girls. All her worries, her love and disdain for her family, her concerns, her desire to change whenever she moves, ring true and help to make her a sympathetic and easy-to-relate-to, if not amazing, character.


What Happened to Goodbye is a good book-- lovely leading characters, humor, a feel-good ending, and a fun restaurant setting. However, it lacked the emotional impact that the best Dessen books have left on me, and not just because there really isn't a romance this time. Definitely a good read, but if you're going to read a Dessen, I'd say go for This Lullaby or Just Listen first.


Book details: Viking/Hardcover/$19.99


Source: ALA

Monday, June 27, 2011

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

[description from goodreads]

Maybe it's not where Ellie wants to be, but if you have to start at a new school, Avalon High is typical enough: There's Lance, the jock. Jennifer, the cheerleader. And Will, senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy.

But not everyone at Avalon High is who they appear to be . . . not even, as Ellie is about to discover, herself. As a bizarre drama begins to unfold, Ellie has to wonder, what part does she play in all this? Do the coincidences she's piecing together really mean—as in King Arthur's court—that tragedy is fast approaching for her new friends?

Ellie doesn't know if she can do anything to stop the coming trouble. But somehow, she knows she has to try.


 Review:

I've wanted to read this book since the Disney Channel movie version of it premiered, because I was sad I had to miss out on all the rage the film brought about. However, having read the film synopsis (sidenote: what? those changes, really? ugh, Disney Channel), I've decided that missing the movie was probably for the best, and that just reading the book is much safer. And more fun because, like most Meg Cabot books, this one was a delight to read despite its faults. 


It's difficult to discuss this book without giving everything away, even though I think it's fairly obvious what the "twist" in this book is. Mostly because, before the twist is revealed, Ellie discusses the tale of King Arthur, the Lady of Shalott, and their acquaintances, so if you didn't know the story before, you will. And because she discusses it at length, and because they're studying medieval literature in class, and because her parents are Arthurian scholars, it's pretty clear where this book is going. However, although I figured it out pretty early, no one else seemed to, which made for a bit of a boring beginning. I kept waiting for Ellie to figure it out so that the evil and crazy could pop up faster, but she spends so long dismissing the possibility and drooling over Will that it took forever to reach the revelation. However, once she finally catches on, the book is much more action-packed; wherever there is evil, there is me, paying rapt attention. I wish the evil showed up sooner, but alas, at least what I was given was exciting. 


None of the characters are particularly dazzling either; Will is the typical Pretty Nice Boy, but Jennifer and Lance aren't even the typical cheerleader and jock. Neither of them even manage to be stereotypical, which just goes to show how utterly lifeless they are. Still, the book manages to be insanely entertaining thanks to the narrator, Ellie. I don't know what it is about Meg Cabot's heroines, but most all of the ones I've read manage to keep my attention with their humor and energy. Even when there isn't much happening, Ellie makes it seem like there is with her liveliness. 


Avalon High takes a while to get going and has plenty of dull supporting characters, but its heroine is so lively and fun that the book is a blast to read, especially near the end, when the action gets intense. 



Book details: HarperTeen/Paperback/$8.99


Source: borrowed from a friend

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads.

Bought: 

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan 

Raised by an unstable father who keeps the family constantly on the move, Sam Border hasn't been in a classroom since the second grade. He's always been the rock for his younger brother Riddle, who stopped speaking long ago and instead makes sense of the world through his strange and intricate drawings. It's said that the two boys speak with one voice--and that voice is Sam's. 
Then, Sam meets Emily Bell, and everything changes. The two share an immediate and intense attraction, and soon Sam and Riddle find themselves welcomed into the Bell's home. Faced with normalcy for the first time, they know it's too good to last.
Told from multiple perspectives, Holly Goldberg Sloan's debut novel offers readers fresh voices and a gripping story, with vivid glimpses into the lives of many unique characters. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I'll Be There is a story about connections both big and small, and deftly explores the many ways that our lives are woven together.


 I spent forever trying to decide between buying this and The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel, but finally settled on this after Jordyn of Ten Cent Notes said she thinks I'll like this one more. I've heard such high praise for it and hope that I love it as well. 


I also bought the paperback of The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway because a quote from my review appears on the back. Whoo! Except I now feel like I've ventured from simply "fan" to "creepy" because I have the ARC, hardcover, and paperback of the book.

From YA in Bloom

The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Our philosophy is simple: Promote a latte-colored world! —from the Latte Rebellion Manifesto

When high school senior Asha Jamison gets called a "towel head" at a pool party, the racist insult gives Asha and her best friend Carey a great money-making idea for a post-graduation trip. They'll sell T-shirts promoting the Latte Rebellion, a club that raises awareness of mixed-race students.

Seemingly overnight, their "cause" goes viral and the T-shirts become a nationwide fad. As new chapters spring up from coast to coast, Asha realizes that her simple marketing plan has taken on a life of its own-and it's starting to ruin hers. Asha's once-stellar grades begin to slip, threatening her Ivy League dreams, and her friendship with Carey is hanging by a thread. And when the peaceful underground movement turns militant, Asha's school launches a disciplinary hearing.Facing expulsion, Asha must decide how much she's willing to risk for something she truly believes in.
 This was one of the books that came in the swag bag from YA in Bloom, an event for YA fans of all sorts to meet and hang out and such. It was a super great event, and this book sounds like it great as well.

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.
 I've been waiting to read this book for a while, so I was more than happy when I was able to pick it up at YA in Bloom from the table of ARCs they let us choose from.


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
 This was the other book I chose from the table because I've heard excellent things about it already, even though it's not out until 2012. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Realistic YA Revolution

I've been catching up on my google reader, and earlier this week I noticed that Jordyn from Ten Cent Notes posted a list of some of her favorite overlooked contemporary YA novels in response to author Tara Kelly's contest and call for a "Realistic YA Revolution." 

I could not resist stealing Jordyn's idea playing along because contemporary is only my favorite subgenre of YA. I often mention the same books as my favorites (namely Anna and the French Kiss and The Boyfriend List) in lists I make, but today I decided to give shout-outs to some awesome books I don't mention as often.


1. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian - THIS BOOK. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I absolutely loved every minute of it. Definitely one of the best things I've read this year.

2. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt - Payton, the main character, would totally be my best friend if we ever crossed paths, so of course I adore this book. However, there is also creeping and secrets and lovely family bonds, which make me love it even more.

3. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales - When I was with my friend at the bookstore last week, I made her buy this because it is basically the story of our last school year. Last night she texted me a quote from it, and once she did I could not resist rereading the entire thing. It's just as funny and sweet as it was the first time I gave it a try.

4. Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Frazer - I've been impatiently awaiting another Megan Frazer book ever since I read this one, but that doesn't hinder my adoration for this book at all. Just thinking about it makes me want cheese (such is the power of the setting) and makes me smile.

5. Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman - I went to find my review of this book to link to, but I quickly realized I've never reviewed it. What is that about? I totally should have!  I'm a huge fan of settings, and this book nails it in that regard. It's also an absolutely charming and adorable book, one that is perfect to read in the summer. And any time, really, but summer seems the most fitting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

[description from goodreads]

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

Review:



I've been waiting to read Imaginary Girls for months, and now that I finally have read it, I must say that it is very different than what I first expected. I got the sister story I was anticipating, but everything else was much different and more magical than I thought. 


I absolutely loved the beginning of this book. I'm sure it will be too slow for some, but I liked that it nicely established the relationship between Chloe and Ruby through the events that occur, as well as the spooky atmosphere of the setting through the gorgeous writing. The book takes a wonderfully creepy turn when Chloe comes home, but soon after her return, the book seemed to almost stop. For a while, Chloe seemed to just be hanging out, not questioning what was up or looking for answers to the mystery that was unfolding. It wasn't until she became wary of all the shady things that were happening that the book picked up again. I understand that the slow-down was to show Ruby's power over everyone, but for a while it seemed a bit too much. Perhaps it would have been better if the power she had was eventually related to some of the otherwordly things happening, but it never was, which just left me with more questions than answers.


The characterization in this book is a bit unusual in that the only characters that really matter are Ruby and Chloe (and London, but that's a whole other story). Most people are defined by what they do for Ruby or what they think of her; therefore, it often felt like none of the other characters had a mind of their own. Even the ones who don't like Ruby, like Owen, the boy Chloe becomes involved with, are lackluster because of how little they appear. Chloe can also seem a bit underdeveloped because she is so enamored by her sister and spends most of the book praising her. Ruby tends to be the focus, but that isn't a totally bad thing, since it's her influence that makes everything happen. The focus on Ruby also helps showcase the bond between her and her sister, because they really do care about each other despite all the shady aspects of their relationship. The bond between them felt amazingly true; even when Ruby or Chloe are hurting one another, they still have an unbreakable love for each other that made Ruby's intentions make sense, even if her means of carrying out her actions were unknown.


I think most people will either love or hate this book; I happen to be of the former group (mostly). I wanted more answers as to how everything was happening, and more from some of the characters, but I liked just about everything else. The writing, the mystery, the sisterhood...it was all just so lovely.



Book details: Dutton/Hardcover/$17.99


Source: ALA

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Imaginary Girls Blog Tour: Secret #4


Today, I'm super excited to be hosting Nova Ren Suma on the blog tour for her new novel Imaginary Girls. 

In case you need it, here's a description of the book, straight from goodreads: 

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about. 

I've already read it (my review will be up tomorrow!) and I must say that it's a wonderfully unusual read. If you want to give it a shot, the first few chapters have been posted by the publisher for your perusal. But, if you're not sure you want to try it yet, here's one of the book's secrets, straight from the author, that may pique your interest:

"I’m here spilling secrets about my book Imaginary Girls. As the cover says, “Secrets never stay below the surface.” I guess not, because here’s another one bubbling up now…

Secret #4: The town Ruby and Chloe live in is a real town… except when it’s completely made-up.

When I first started writing about Ruby and Chloe, I realized that they lived in a town I knew. It’s a small town in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, and I could see the roads I remembered driving in my friends’ cars. I could see the Village Green, where I lounged on the stone benches late into the night like so many locals did, the Cumberland Farms convenience store that we called Cumby’s, where my best friend and I raided the candy aisle, the mountainside I once skipped school to climb, and the reservoir outside town where we’d sneak in and go swimming… I could see the place so clear that I couldn’t imagine Ruby and Chloe living anywhere else.

Nova Ren Suma
The town I was thinking of as I wrote is Woodstock, New York, where I lived between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, and during breaks home from college, but there are reasons it’s not exactly the same town in the novel. For one, Woodstock has its own history, and is its own character, and I didn’t see how that fit into this story, especially once Ruby took over. But more than that, this was a place written from my memories, as I haven’t lived there for a long time. The way I remembered the place informed the shape it took in the novel far more than stodgy old reality did, and memories can’t always be trusted. So the town began to distort itself in strange ways, roads led to places they hadn’t led, and the reservoir spilled closer than it ever used to. I could force the town to fit to maps, or I could let go and be free to imagine, so that’s what I did.

In much the same way, the town Ruby says is drowned at the bottom of the reservoir—Olive—is inspired, in part, by reality. If you went looking, you’d find that there still is a town called Olive in the area I wrote about, and I’m sure the people living in it would want us to know that they’re breathing air and seeing sunlight, safely above ground like the rest of us."

The stories surrounding Olive were one of my favorite parts of the book, so I am absolutely delighted it's mentioned in this secret.

And now, one of you has the opportunity to win a copy of the book! All the giveaway details are included on the form.



For more on the book and author, feel free to check out Nova on twitter or at her website.

You can also watch the sweet book trailer:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. Descriptions and such from goodreads.




Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard 
(Note: I'm not entirely sure this is the final cover. But, it's up on both goodreads and Amazons so there's a high chance it is? I mainly just wanted a picture to accompany all the words. x])


It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back


---

This book first caught my eye because I've been meaning to read the author's first book, Like Mandarin, but haven't got to it yet. However, this one sounds even better, and not just because it includes the word "vagabond" in the description, a word I am inexplicably fond of. Traveling always makes for an exciting story.


Released March 13, 2012 - and so the wait for the 2012 books officially begins.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

[description from goodreads]

Choose: A quick death... Or slow poison...

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear....


Review: 

I have heard seemingly nothing but glowing reviews for this book and the sequels that follow it, so I was excited to read it and see if I loved it just as much. While I did like the story elements separately, I wasn't a big fan of all of them put together. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood, maybe it's just because I'm not the biggest fantasy fan, but I just didn't love this book like everyone else does.

 I liked most of the many story lines that made up this book. Between Yelena's food tasting training, the appearance of magic, the attempts on her life by the man whose son she killed, the seeming rebellions formulating against the Commander, among other things, there is a never a dull moment in this book. I loved all the mystery surrounding these various sneaky things and the possible routes this book could go down. However, I wasn't a big fan of all of these things put together. I could never figure out what exactly this book was supposed to be leading to-- magic lessons? A rebellion? Yelena escaping? All the subplots seemed to be going in varying directions and they didn't often fit well together. It wasn't exactly hard to keep track of them all, but it was a bit much to pay attention to so many different people and the things they were doing. 


Perhaps I wouldn't have minded the all-over-the-place story if I liked the characters more, but I wasn't particularly enraptured by any of them. I didn't dislike them, except for the villains I was supposed to dislike, but none of the other characters really stood out to me. Yelena was a strong and able, and even amusingly sassy at times, protagonist, but even she didn't dazzle me. The rest of the characters were so numerous that I never really felt like I got to know each of them.


Poison Study wasn't the right book for me because of how scattered it felt, despite all the action and mystery I enjoyed. However, I'm sure bigger fans of fantasy will enjoy this one. 


Book details: MIRA Books/Paperback/$9.99


Source: bought



Monday, June 20, 2011

Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

[description from goodreads]

Paradise wasn't supposed to suck.

Not the state of being, but a resort in the Caribbean.

Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all there for different reasons, but at Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Paradise will change them all.

It will change Jena, whose first brush with romance takes her that much closer to having a life, and not just reading about those infinitely cooler and more exciting.

It will change Dakota, who needs the devastating truth about his past to make him realize that he doesn't have to be a jerk just because people think he's one.

It will change Skye, a heartbreakingly beautiful actress, who must come to terms with the fact that for once she has to stop playing a role or face the consequences.

And it will change Owen, who has never risked anything before and who will take the leap from his online life to a real one all because of a girl he met at Paradise. . . .

From confused to confident and back again, one thing's certain: Four months after it all begins, none of them will ever be the same.

Review

Now that I have (some) free time, I've been reading some of the books I've had on my shelves for a while; Tangled has been waiting for me for about a year now. While I'm not exactly kicking myself for letting it wait so long, I do kind of wish I had read it earlier, during one of my many crazy weeks last school year, for it made me laugh and left me feeling happy despite a few darker elements. 

I thought they entire book was going to be spent at the Paradise resort, but it turns out that only one character, Jena, told her story from there. The other characters take turn narrating  their experiences, wherever they may be living at the time, one after the other. I wasn't the biggest fan of this format, because it seemed as if once each character started to get to the high point of each of their stories, their narration was over and it was handed off to someone else. Therefore, it felt like the resolutions of the story lines were revealed by someone else, which kind of took away from the impact of each ending. It also made the book a bit less, well, tangled than I had anticipated, because once the previous person was finished, they weren't present for long in the other sections.

Still, I did enjoy the individual story lines, even if I felt they ended too soon. Jena is initially a bit much because of how much energy she has and how overeager she appears, but I soon came to like her because of her awesome obsession with quotations and self-deprecating humor. Similarly, Dakota first appeared to be just plain obnoxious, but his story turned out to be rather bittersweet and ended in a very nice way. Skye's story, however, was even more bittersweet, and not even that sweet at that. However, I liked seeing her acting career in action and how it does and doesn't impact her. Owen's story, the last one, was probably my favorite, because he is placed in a hilarious setting and manages to close the book up rather nicely, and not just because his ending is totally adorable.

Tangled is a humorous and ultimately happy-making read, even though the individual stories seemed to end just as they were getting good.

Book details: HarperTeen/Paperback/$8.99


Source: BEA '10

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In honor of Father's Day...

Five books with notable dads:

1. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison - Georgia's Vati deserves a medal or seven for putting up with all her antics. He goes a bit mad at times (but dealing with Georgia, who can blame him?), and his shenanigans are one of the many things that make this series so fun.

2. Stay by Deb Caletti - He's not a regular dad; he's a cool dad. Really, though, Clara's dad is pretty awesome. He gets along with his daughter fantastically and is always supportive no matter what bad decisions Clara makes. I loved their strong relationship in this book, especially when they decided to banter back and forth.
 
3. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt - Another cool dad, rather than some of the crazy ones that appear on this list. Payton's dad is kind of the catalyst for everything that happens in this book, good or bad, but despite of that, he tries his best to make everything ok.

And I'd just like to say that I'm happy to have finally found a list on to which this book fits perfectly, because I love it and totally think more people should give it a shot!

4.Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Although Anna's dad doesn't appear for too long in this book, he deserves a mention for essentially being Nicholas Sparks with a different name and slightly less obnoxious tendencies. He makes me laugh whenever I think about him. 

5. The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell - Much to main character Damien's chagrin, his father is a superhero. That in and of itself is totally awesome. It doesn't get much better than that.

And I'd like to just say Happy Father's Day to my dad, who is far more awesome than any of the dads on this list, and not just because he helps keep my book addiction afloat. (:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads.

This week, my friend lent me:

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian's, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.
 I've read two Melina Marchetta books and they haven't blown me away like they have others, so maybe this will be the one? I hope.

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

To newcomer Ellie, Avalon High seems like a typical American high school, complete with jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and even the obligatory senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy. But it doesn't take Ellie long to suspect that something weird is going on beneath the glossy surface of this tranquil hall of learning. As she pieces together the meaning of this unfolding drama, she begins to recognize some haunting Arthurian echoes, causing her to worry that she has become just a pawn in mythic history. A powerful novel by the author of The Princess Diaries. Has been made into a full length film by Disney on Disney Channel.
 I always thought this book sounded fun, and I am glad I finally have the chance to read it. 

My friend also lent me Tropical Kiss by Jan Coffey, which I already read. It was ok but took too long to get to the whole promised "international intrigue" thing. The romance, which was the main focus, wasn't too excited either. 

For review, I received a copy of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender, but I won't include the summary in case anyone is super wary of spoilers for the first book in the series, Bad Girls Don't Die. I quite liked Bad Girls Don't Die and hope the sequel is just as creepy and spooky.
 
 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Obligatory Harry Potter Post

Oh man guys. This week in Harry Potter news has been almost too much for my heart to handle, and yet I still haven't been able to let out all my !!!!!!!s completely. So let's go:



THIS TRAILER. Starting off with footage from the old movies was a genius move on their part. Way to pull at my heartstrings, Warner Brothers. And then the fighting and the fire and the falling and AHH! SO AMAZING!

And then the whole Pottermore deal! I was totally unable to leave the internet when the hunt for the website was going on, especially after I got offline for like 45 minutes and like 6 clues were revealed. I am so excited about the unveiling. I think it's probably going to be some sort of fan community, but I'm still holding out hope for an encyclopedia, which is what I have been waiting for for literally years. And I must say-- the youtube page is so freaking cool. Why can't it be announcement time?!

This has been a fangirly post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

[description from goodreads]


Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.
 
Review: 
 
I felt like I had read this book even before I first picked it up, since it appears to be one of the most quoted things on tumblr, a site on which I spend too much time. Many people on the internet seem to love this book, for it speaks to their angst and does contain some lovely, if now over-repeated, sayings. On the flip side, I've seen people who totally hate this book for being too angsty and whiny and hipster and overrated and blah blah blah. Before reading, I figured that I'd either love or hate this book; in reality, I'm pretty ambivalent about it. I can see why people love it, and why people hate it, but I think I've been bombarded with other people's opinions about it for so long that I don't really have an opinion of my own. 

It's easy to see why people are so enamored by this book. It's written so informally and personally, in letters to an unnamed "friend" (which is basically a ploy to connect the reader to Charlie), that it's easy to read, even though Charlie does write a bit awkwardly. He often talks about the books and music he is interested in, making him seem even more normal and easy to relate to. However, the thing that seems to have elevated this book, and Charlie, to such popularity is that it is so angsty. Bad things always happen to Charlie. Sometimes it's the fault of his family, or his friends, or some random person he doesn't even know, but the sad things never seem to take a break. He goes into detail about how those events make him feel, how confused he is, how he tries to fit in, how it just isn't working--  name an angsty feeling, and it's probably described in here in some way. It's the ability to relate to Charlie, or even his friends, who have enough issues of their own, that make this book beloved.

However, it's also Charlie that makes this book so hated. I've read about a lot of stupid characters in my life, but this guy has to be near the top of the list. I had a hard time believing anyone could be as ignorant, awkward, and generally just oblivious as he is. Call it innocence if you want, but to me, he just seemed unbelievably unobservant, despite the fact that all he seems to do is watch people. He does try to help others, I'll give him that, but I could not get over how immature he was. His friends and peers were not much better-- he idolizes them or is so oblivious to their intentions that it's hard to even buy into them as characters.

I'm not exactly sure I feel about The Perks of Being a Wallflower. There are some things I hate, some things I like, but either way I think it's a better book if you read it while feeling immensely angsty. 

Book details: MTV Books/Paperback/$14.00

Source: gift

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. Descriptions and such from goodreads.

Today I'm waiting on:



The Babysitter Murders by Janet Ruth Young

Everyone has weird thoughts sometimes. But for seventeen-year-old Dani Solomon, strange thoughts have taken over her life. She loves Alex, the little boy she babysits, more than anything. But one day, she has a vision of murdering him that's so gruesome, she can't get it out of her mind. In fact, Dani's convinced that she really will kill Alex. She confesses the thoughts to keep him safe, setting off a media frenzy that makes "Dani Death" the target of an extremist vigilante group. 

Through the help of an uncoventional psychiatrist, Dani begins to heal her broken mind. But will it be too late? The people of her community want justice . . . and Dani's learning that some thoughts are better left unsaid.
---

I saw the cover and title of this book somewhere recently and thought it was utterly hilarious. I mean, the cover is so jolly and then the title is so not! It's great! I don't know, maybe I'm the only one who finds things like that funny. Probably.

Anyway. The description sounds fantastic as well. Whenever there is potential murder involved, I pay attention.

Released July 26.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A new place to find me.

Against my better judgment, I now have a blog devoted to movies and TV and other things that I watch. Right now, it can be found at http://lookingatyoufilmblog.blogspot.com/, but that may change once I figure out a name that is actually good.

Posting over there will probably be very infrequent because I don't really have the time to dedicate myself fully to two blogs, but I wanted to make the blog anyway so that I could have some place to write down my thoughts on movies and things. Plus, I think it shall be strangely fun to figure out how to review something that isn't a book.

So, if you are so inclined, feel free to follow it, but even if you don't follow it, I'll still be around here plenty often.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Old Magic by Marianne Curley


[description from goodreads]

Jarrod Thornton is mesmerizing, but Kate Warren doesn't know why.

The moment the new guy walks into the room, Kate senses something strange and intense about him. Something supernatural. Her instincts are proven correct a few minutes later when, bullied by his classmates, Jarrod unknowingly conjures up a freak thunderstorm inside their classroom.

Jarrod doesn't believe in the paranormal. When Kate tries to convince him that he has extraordinary powers that need to be harnessed, he only puts up with her "hocus pocus" notions because he finds her captivating. However, the dangerous, uncontrolled strengthening of his gift finally convinces Jarrod that he must take Kate's theories seriously. Together, they embark on a remarkable journey -- one which will unravel the mystery that has haunted Jarrod's family for generations and pit the teens against immense forces in a battle to undo the past and reshape the future.

Review:

This book was originally published in 2000, but it was repackaged and reprinted again not long ago. I'm always interested in the books that get this treatment, mostly because repackaging seems to imply that the book is well worth reading. Or a book is just repackaged because the publisher thinks it will sell well, which may be in the case here, since this book's summary does sound like a whole load of other paranormal books in existence. However, this book does not follow the same formula as the paranormal books that seem to have the same premise.

Despite what the summary says, this book is more involved with magic than anything. I was pleasantly surprised by the effortless inclusion of magic in this book; Kate refers to herself as a witch, and her grandmother is even more powerful, and because Kate narrates the majority of the book, the magic seems to fit perfectly in place. However, Jarrod is less accepting of the magical world, which actually nice since I hate characters who accept whatever otherwordly information is thrown at them, but it did make for a bit of slow beginning, waiting for him to get around to believing it and finding out curse the summary makes note of and whatnot. But, it was worth it, because once the curse is finally discovered, the book picks up. I wish I could say how the curse ends up playing out, but it was a delightful twist and I do not wish to spoil it for anyone who may pick up this book. However, suffice it to say that I very much enjoyed it.

Characterization wise, this book was...eh. There are a number of characters, but they appear so little that it's difficult to get any sort of grasp on their personality, which was a bit annoying. I like my minor characters to be just as exciting as the leads, but even though the minor characters had magic powers and manic traits, they just weren't too compelling. The villain seemed to be too easy to beat, and too comically evil. Luckily, the two leads were much better developed. They were delightfully awkward around each other, but still managed to be strong and determined in face of the evil magic they were facing. At times they seemed to be a bit too similar in terms of voice, because they take turns narrating, but that was not too bothersome once they began to take on separate portions of the quest and go their own ways.

A surprisingly enjoyable, magical tale, despite a lack of characterization.

Book details: Simon Pulse/Paperback/$9.99

Source: borrowed

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads.

This week, I bought two books:

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also each other's only friend. So when Cameron disappeared without warning, Jennifer thought she'd lost the one person who would ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she is popular, happy, and dating—everything "Jennifer" couldn't be. But she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they both are confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.
Everyone seems to love this book, so I finally decided to buy it. Plus, I really enjoyed Sara Zarr's other books, so I am sure I will like this one too.

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn’t have friends. She has, as she’s often reminded, issues. Drea’s mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on “a touch of Asperger’s.”

Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea’s preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.

It’s obvious that Drea can’t hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she’s found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?

I've wanted to read this book since its original publication last year but didn't get around to buying it until now. However, I am still quite excited and can't wait to finally get to it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

How do you read?

Just curious, since today I think I finally noticed that I have very strict reading habits. (Probably because I have nothing better to think about during my obsessive watching of The IT Crowd, which is amazing, by the way.)

I usually only read on my bed, which isn't weird, but what is a bit odd is that I always have to be leaning up against something. I also can't stop in the middle of a chapter, which is why long chapters are usually very obnoxious. I also have issues stopping after a chapter that doesn't end in a 0 or 5, meaning that I usually have to stop after chapter 5 or chapter 10. And every two chapters or so, I have to get up and walk around or else I get too antsy.

Anyone else have weird reading "rules"?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Trends That Have Passed (Maybe?)

Here are five former trends and my thoughts on them, just for funsies:

1. Nomadic kids. For a while it seemed like half the books I read were about people who packed up and moved every few months or years with no apparent reason, and the book often involved one of the character's moves. I never understood why this happened so often, but I am glad I haven't read about it in a while.

2. Vampires. Yeah, this one was expected to be on here, but I'm truly glad we have moved past nothing but vampires in paranormal.

3. Is it just me or are there less fairy tale retellings lately? I like those! Have I just been looking in the wrong places for them?

4. I'm pretty sure aliens were a trend like 10 years ago, because I read quite a few alien books as a child. Can we bring aliens back, please?

5. I am insanely glad that most of the "eye-less girls" covers have disappeared. Like ones most Maureen Johnson books have. Man, I hate those. So glad that they're dying out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford


[description from goodreads]

The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.

Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.

And so the confessions begin....

Review:

I liked but not loved Natalie Standiford's first book, How To Say Goodbye in Robot,* but was very excited to read Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters because it involves quirky rich people. I find that those types of people often make for lovely reads, and in this case, I was right.

The book is constructed in three parts (plus a prologue and epilogue), each a letter from one of the Sullivan sisters confessing whatever misdeeds they have done to their grandmother. I'm not sure I like this structure, because it felt less like a novel and more like three individual stories. They did all intertwine and each girl's confession revealed more about the other two, but I always like linear books better. That's just a personal preference, though, and I did still very much enjoy each girl's part of the book. Each sister had a vastly different confession from one another, which helped keep the book fresh and full of never-ending amusements. My favorite confession was probably the first, Norrie's, which involved her love life, for it had the most funny stupid rich people and a movie-worthy end. However, I also loved the second, Jane's, because it was so angsty and so hilarious as it made fun of the rich world Jane is a part of. And the last, Sassy's, was nice, too, because it was more detached from the rich world but still managed to be funny and sweet. Ok, so maybe I don't have a favorite.

What I wanted more from each confession, however, was more of the supporting characters. A lot of the same people show up in each girl's story, and yet I never feel like they were doing much. For example, their mother, Ginger, is hilarious in that she is so stereotypically rich and silly, but there were moments where I thought she would become more than that. There was some depth given to her through a few anecdotes, but the depth was a bit sporadic. I also wished there was more about all of the girls' friends, because they appeared often but usually just seemed too involved in whatever fancy schmancy events were occurring.

I wish Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters had more to offer in the development of the minor characters, but nonetheless, I found it to be a wonderfully quirky, funny, and always amusing read.

*But in all honesty if I reread it now I think I would like it more. I shall have to do that and see.

Book details: Scholastic/Hardcover/$17.99

Source: bought

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As per tradition:

this post is a symbol for school being OVER. Hooray! I'm free! And now books shall be read, emails answered, posts written, etc.

I'm definitely going to start my summer of reading by finishing Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford. I am very much enjoying it, but I can't figure if it would be directed by Wes Anderson or the guy who did Harold and Maude if it were a movie. Or if Kristen Stewart would be given a role in it. These are the questions that haunt me.

Have a nice day, all.~

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Things to Share

Sometimes I get emails asking me to post about various news-y things. Here are some of those, as well as some other things I want to share just because:

1. Summer's Crossing, an e-book novella in the Iron Fey series, has been out for a week and I still haven't read it. FOR SHAME. If you have read it, how did you like it? I'm anticipating awesome since it does revolve around Puck, who is lovely.

But, I must also say that even though Puck is FAR SUPERIOR, I like the new cover of The Iron Knight, which features Ash:


2. The awesome writing website Figment.com is having a writing contest, so if you are so inclined, here is the press release:
FIGMENT HOSTS $1,000 FABLE CONTEST WITH PAULO COELHO

What happens when you mix Figment with the international best-selling novelist and author of The Alchemist? A fabulous contest, with a huge cash prize. We are so excited to announce that Paulo Coelho, longtime supporter of online literature and storyteller extraordinaire, is joining our talented community of readers and writers to award $1000 to one lucky fable-writer.

Entrants must write a fable set in a fictional country on the day before the final battle in a devastating war. Finalists will be judged by Paulo Coelho, and the winner will receive $1,000. The deadline is June 19th. To learn more, go to http://blog.figment.com/2011/05/31/fable-contest-with-paulo-coelho/.

Figment.com is a free online community for teens and young adults to create, discover, and share new reading and writing. Users can read amateur and professional content, engage with their favorite authors, discuss literature with their peers, and create their own unfiltered writing to share across web and mobile platforms. Since launching in December 2010, we’ve been amazed at the enthusiasm displayed by the growing Figment community, who not only contribute their own impressive/diverse/exciting works, but also revel in the writing of their fellow Figmenters.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with Lindsay at info@figment.com!

3. Another lovely writing website, inkpop.com, is having a writing contest in honor of Divergent by Veronica Roth, a book I very much enjoyed! Check out the details and whatnot here.

4. Sarah Ockler has the best post ever up on her blog, and you should go read it. Go.

5. I do believe that's all the bookish news to be had. Alas.

Also, if I owe you an email, soon! My last final is tomorrow so then I shall be free to respond.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth


[description from goodreads]

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance
.

Review:

I had not heard a single bad thing about this book before beginning to read it, so obviously I was hopeful it would be good but also skeptical as to how it was going to turn out, since I normally don't like the same things everyone else does.* While I didn't get "omg love!!!" feeling this book appears to have brought about in many others, I did think it was most excellent.

There's a lot to like about Divergent, but I think my favorite thing about it is just how much stuff happens. I get bored much too easily, so I was more than pleased with the constant supply of action and adventure. Even before the day she selects her faction, Beatrice's life is full of drama and intensity. However, the book goes to a whole new level after she chooses her faction, and suddenly its full of fighting and jumping off things and all sorts of other lovely, exciting events. Beatrice is constantly fighting people, both literally and figuratively, discovering the corruption in her world, or uncovering secrets, but no matter what she is doing, everything is full of intensity and emotion. I wish I could talk more in depth about individual events, but I don't want to spoil anything, so just be assured: it's all awesome.

All the action is definitely enhanced by the fantastic characters, especially Beatrice. Although she is from the supposedly meek faction, she is anything but. She is insanely tough, and always willing to fight hard in her initiation even when she is not doing the best or people are antagonizing her. I also liked most of her peers, even though some of her fellow initiates were sometimes very one-note and overly dramatic in their personality traits. For example, the enemy initiate, Peter, is often purely vicious, with no redeeming qualities at all until the end. The end did bring a lot of new perspective on nearly all of the characters, but it was so much information in such a short span of time that it felt a bit rushed. Still, I think it was worth it to see more of the true personalities behind each person, and I'm sure everyone will be even more developed in the next installments in the series.

Even though it did not instill the feelings of "!!!" in me, Divergent is definitely worth the hype. It's the first in a series, but despite that, it manages to bypass being nothing by set-up and contains immense amounts of action, mystery, and just general excellence.

*Because I'm a hipster and all.

Book details: Katherine Tegen Books/Hardcover/$17.99

Source: sent for review

Sunday, June 5, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads.

This week, my friend lent me:

Old Magic by Marianne Curley

Jarrod Thornton is mesmerizing, but Kate Warren doesn't know why.

The moment the new guy walks into the r
oom, Kate senses something strange and intense about him. Something supernatural. Her instincts are proven correct a few minutes later when, bullied by his classmates, Jarrod unknowingly conjures up a freak thunderstorm inside their classroom.

Jarrod doesn't believe in the paranormal. When Kate tries to convince him that he has extraordinary powers that need to be harnessed, he only puts up with her "hocus pocus" notions because he finds her captivating. However, the dangerous, uncontrolled strengthening of his gift finally convinces Jarrod that he must take Kate's theories seriously. Together, they embark
on a remarkable journey—one which will unravel the mystery that has haunted Jarrod's family for generations and pit the teens against immense forces in a battle to undo the past and reshape the future.

This book sounds similar to many paranormal books, but since it is rather old, I'm hoping it is does not suffer from being similar to the paranormal books out now. Plus, my friend said it was good, and I trust her judgment, so it shall be read. Also, that cover. The newer one is loads better, but I thought I'd include the above one because it makes me laugh.

I also received:


All You Desire by Kirsten Miller

No summary for this one, as it is a sequel and I do not wish to bombard you with spoilers. However, if you have read the first book in the series, The Eternal Ones, feel free to check out the description. I thought The Eternal Ones ended perfectly lovely and a sequel was not necessary, but I'm excited to see what this one is all about nonetheless.