Saturday, April 7, 2012

This is good-bye.

I won't delete this blog because of all the work I've put into it, but I will not update anymore.

Book blogging was fun while it lasted, but I've moved on.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cover vs. Cover [15]

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly feature, hosted here, where I compare different covers of the same book. For more information, visit the Weekly Features page.

This week's competing covers are:

           The US Cover                                    The UK Cover

I like the US better. Even though the lilies are cliche, they're pretty. I like the shade of purple that tones the UK cover better than the purple on the US, but overall the UK cover is too similar to Fallen's cover to be the better of the two. What's interesting is that the title text for both is almost exactly the same.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher:  Dutton
Cover Designer: 
Rodrigo Corral
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary
Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs...for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

The Fault in Our Stars lives up to the incredible hype.

It was lovely that the dedication was to Esther Earl, the Nerdfighter girl in whose memory the This Star Won't Go Out Foundation was founded. While little things like "my best friend was an author who didn't know I existed" can set you off, remember that this book is a work of fiction. Mr. Green has stated several times that Esther and Hazel are nothing alike.

Hazel has cancer, and Augustus had cancer, but this wasn't a "cancer book" as much as it was a book about teenagers with cancer. When it came to characters, the first thing I noticed was that the secondary characters weren't as developed as they were in the author's other novels. In Looking for Alaska, there was the whole gang. In Paper Towns, Q had Ben and Radar. But Hazel and Augustus created a little world that was only for the two of them. I rather liked Isaac, even thought the part he played in the story wasn't as important as I hoped.

There were times I wished that An Imperial Affliction, the book that Hazel and Augustus loved, was real so I could read it. The author, Peter Van Houten, never wrote anything else and lived isolated from the world in Amsterdam. Because they knew so little about him, Hazel and Augustus romanticized him as the great thinker of our time. But things changed. Eventually Hazel referred to Van Houten as "an author we used to like".

The Fault in Our Stars followed Mr. Green's style of being both funny and philosophical, sometimes simultaneously. Hazel and Augusts were humorous in their nerdy, adorable ways, but deeper things lied beneath. One of the recurring themes was death. How everything is a side effect of dying. How thousands die every day, but few are recognized, and why are they the ones to be recognized? How Anne Frank was built a museum and went down in history for being killed in the Holocaust, but the four Aron Franks were not.
Another theme was being a hero. Augustus was obsessed with the idea of a traditional hero. But we were shown that not all of us are going to win wars or save the world. We can be heroes in smaller ways, in the ways Augustus was a hero.

I was not expecting the turn of events. I knew someone was going to die, but I was wrong about who it was. For a while, I even thought the book would end mid-sentence in the style of An Imperial Affliction. As for how it really did end, let's just say that if you care about Hazel or Augustus at all, you're in for emotional pain.

Everything you've heard about this book is true. The Fault in Our Stars is everything from heartbreaking to haunting.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Don't Let Me Go

Title: Don't Let Me Go
Author: J. H. Trumble
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher:  Kensington Publishing
Cover Designer: 
Kristine Mills
Age Audience: YA
Genre: LGBT
Summary: Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, heart-pounding, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate’s friends can’t keep his insecurities at bay, especially when he catches Skyped glimpses of Adam’s shirtless roommate. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it’s the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.

Gay romance, music, theatre, and a Texas setting all in one book? What's not to love?

I'll confess, I had misgivings before reading because as a homosexual individual myself, I'm wary of LGBT books written by non-LGBT people. (How could they possibly understand, right?) But the author of Don't Let Me Go proved me wrong by showing just what it's like to be a gay teenager, and how it feels to have to fight to have what others take for granted.

One of the elements of this book I loved was the theatrical aspect. Adam had been acting since he was a child, and an off-Broadway job was the whole reason he went to New York in the first place. Even though I'm more of a techie, I smiled at all the mentions of rehearsals and cast parties.
Music played an important part in the story as well. It was something Nate and Adam fell in love over, and many important events took place at Mr. Ratcliffe's music store.

Another fun thing for me was that this book was set in the Houston area! It made it easier for me to see the descriptions in my head, because I knew what was being described. I nearly squealed the first time it mentioned Market Street.

I loved reading about how Nate and Adam's spark of romance grew into the love of a lifetime, then felt sad when it flashed forward to the state of their relationship with Adam in New York. They were very codependent, but I don't think that has to be a bad thing. However, they got more and more dysfunctional as the book went on, to the point where you wonder if they could ever go back to being what they once were.

I wasn't fond of the character Danial at first, but I grew to like his snarky, sarcastic personality, and felt sympathy when we learned the truth about his past.

This book wasn't afraid to show the ugly side of dealing with homophobia, for which I was thankful. I wish it weren't true, but people really are that ignorant, and their ignorance can turn into bigoted hate. It wouldn't have been realistic unless Nate and Adam had dealt with hate, even if not on a colossal scale.

Because of where the near end of the book was heading, I was worried that this would become one of those books with a good but sad ending that keeps me up for days. While the words "Ten Years Later" were a relief, this book will be on my mind for the weeks to come.

Bittersweet and honest, Don't Let Me Go is a terrific work of LGBT fiction. I'm looking forward to more from J. H. Trumble!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Wrap-Up

I've never done a wrap-up post in the past, but I figured the end of the year was as good a time as any to do one.

(every list is in order from oldest to most recent)

EVERY review I posted this year:
The Ruins of Gorlan
Shadow Kiss (spoilers!)
Golden (spoilers!)
Doomed Queen Anne
Between Mom and Jo
Waiting for Odysseus
Fire Study (spoilers!)
A Northern Light
The Amaranth Enchantment
If I Stay
The Hollow Kingdom
Imaginary Enemy
The Mermaid's Mirror
White Cat
Across the Universe
City of Fallen Angels
Paper Towns
Tempest Rising
As You Wish
Hush, Hush
13 Little Blue Envelopes
The Last Little Blue Envelope
Keeping You a Secret
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie
All These Things I've Done
Low Red Moon
Where She Went
Between the Sea and Sky
How I Live Now
The Adoration of Jenna Fox
We Hear the Dead
Invincible Summer
Violet Eyes
The Death Catchers
Looking for Alaska (spoilers!)
The Fallen
Girl in the Arena

Cover vs. Cover posts:
CvsC 1
CvsC 2
CvsC 3
CvsC 4
CvsC 5
CvsC 6
CvsC 7
CvsC 8
CvsC 9
CvsC 10
CvsC 11
CvsC 12
CvsC 13
CvsC 14

I'd run out of room if I list every single post for every single meme I've participated in, so I'll just list the one I participate in the most.

Follow Friday posts:
FF 1
FF 2
FF 3
FF 4
FF 5
FF 6
FF 7
FF 8
FF 9
FF 10
FF 11
FF 12
FF 13
FF 14
FF 15
FF 16
FF 17
FF 18
FF 19
FF 20
FF 21
FF 22
FF 23

Miscellaneous Posts:
"Girly" Covers
Book Announcement!
Obsidian Cover Reveal
Favorite Books of 2011

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Favorite Books of 2011

I was going to include ALL my favorite books I've read in 2011 in this post, but since there are simply too many, I'll stick to the ones published in 2011.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

I'm a big fan of the Mortal Instruments series, and while I had doubts about this fifth book before reading, it didn't disappoint. I loved being back with all the characters, and the new villain was brilliant.

(full review here)

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Like with its companion Ash, I loved this book. The writing was gorgeous and the world-building was captivating. While I didn't like it more than I liked Ash, I can say that I was more attached to the characters here. The ending nearly had me crying!

(full review here)

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I had high expectations for this book, and I was not disappointed. Lauren's writing is both lovely and suspenseful, and I loved the dynamics between the characters, especially among Rhine and her sister wives. Only two more months till Fever!

(full review here)

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

This gritty tale of a dysfunctional family was raw and compelling in every way. I can't guarantee happiness after you finish it, but it's certainly worth it.

(full review here)

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

To me this book was even darker than Sisters Red, which I mean in a positive way. And while reading this book, I experienced writer's envy for the first time. More than once I thought, "This is so well-written. Why can't I write this well?"

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

I think it's safe to say that this is my favorite of Alex Flinn's fairytale retellings (I've also read Beastly and A Kiss in Time). Aside from romance being a little too predictable, I liked everything about this book! Despite it being nearly 400 pages long, I read it in one sitting.

What were YOUR favorite books of 2011?
(if you leave a link to your post I'll check it out!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: Girl in the Arena

Title: Girl in the Arena
Author: Lise Haines
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Cover Designer: 
Danielle Delaney
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Sci-fi
Tagline: Daughter. Celebrity. Neo-gladiator.
Summary: Lyn is a neo-gladiator's daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules and the GSA can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn's seventh father, he also captures Lyn's dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him...

Girl in the Arena had a lot of potential, but the execution was poor. I was expecting a lot better.

I wasn't a fan of the info-dump at the very beginning that went through the history of the neo-gladiator sport, starting in the 1960's. I would have preferred the information to be conveyed little by little as the story progressed.

One of the few things I did enjoy about this book was the concept of gladiators in modern times. People   part of what was known as "Glad culture" lived separated from other people, and often did not marry outsiders. These people were viewed as nearly cultish by some outsiders. What interested me the most was that the rules of the arena were nearly identical to those long ago. No one is forced to fight, but will sign contracts with Caesar's Inc. to fight for a certain number of years, or sometimes a criminal on the death row is sent to the arena. Just like in ancient Rome!
However, I did say almost. I doubt there were hundreds of bylaws confining the original gladiators, and as far as I know, women could remarry as many times as they wanted.

Despite all the information that was given, I don't understand how the sport become popular. Did millions of modern people suddenly find it acceptable? How did it become  lawful? I'm certain there's something in the Constitution against killing for sport. And if the sport was so popular, why did it remain in the U.S. rather than spreading to other countries?

Fighting was not even the main focus of the book. It was mostly about how rough it was for Lyn being a celebrity. There were only two or three battles in the entire book.
I didn't like Lyn at all. She wasn't a distinct character to me. Nothing about her stood out except that she was the daughter of seven gladiators. I also didn't buy the romance between her and Uber. How could you fall in love with the person who killed your father? I couldn't.

I wish the time period had been a little more clear. While there were things we don't have today, such as the Living machine, aside from the Gladiator Sports Association the world of Girl in the Arena was just like today's world. I assumed this book to be dystopian science fiction, but that threw me off.
Speaking of the Living machine, its existence made no sense. How did it work? How did the projections of people eat food? And how did such a machine fit in with the Roman-based culture of the neo-gladiators?

One of the formatting styles of this book annoyed me. Instead of quotation marks, dialogue was indicated by m dashes. I don't see why this was done, as it was unusual and confusing.

The ending was open enough to be followed by a sequel, but apparently this book didn't gain enough popularity for that to happen, and I can see why. On a final note, I very much dislike the cover. I find it more fitting for a TV show poster than a book cover. And the expression of the model seems more pouty than angry to me.