Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Author Interview: Gabrielle Zevin

About Gabrielle Zevin
(curtsey of memoirsofa.com)
Gabrielle Zevin's books for adults and young adults have been translated into eighteen languages and received many honors. Her first young adult novel, Elsewhere, was nominated for a 2006 Quill Award, won the Borders Original Voices Award, and was a selection of the Barnes and Noble Book Club. She was nominated for a 2007 Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay for Conversations with Other Women.

Gabrielle is a dog enthusiast, a Harvard graduate, and a New Yorker. Her fifth novel, All These Things I've Done, will be released in September 2011.

Where did you get the idea for All These Things I’ve Done?
Among other things, a dark chocolate-induced migraine that I had during the summer of 2009.

Did you base Anya or any of the other characters on real people?
All my characters come from life, but no one is taken whole cloth. Anya and I do have the same hair.

All These Things I’ve Done is your third YA novel. Was writing and publishing it easier or more difficult than with your previous novels?
It was easier because the first two YA novels sold well, which meant my publisher was glad to have another.

How many more books will there be in the Birthright series? Will it be a trilogy?
I’m contracted for three, but I think the story is going to take four.

Are you working on any other writing projects that you can tell us about?
At this very moment, I’m finishing the sequel to All These Things I’ve Done. Then, I have another adult novel I’d like to work on (my third adult novel) and a screenplay or two that require tending.

Which authors have inspired you in your career as a writer?
Roald Dahl, because he did all kinds of writing—children, adult, fantasy, memoir, screenplays, short stories—and because I loved him as a child and I still love him as an adult.

If your house was burning and you could only save 3 of your books, which ones would they be and why?
The house is on fire! What happened?!? My greatest fear is being burned alive…

I’d take my computer because it probably would have whatever book I was in the middle of writing. Maybe I’d take the book I was in the middle of reading. At the moment, Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman. I’ll need something to do while I’m at the hotel waiting for my apartment to stop burning down. I’d also grab Margarettown. It was my first published novel, and it’s basically out of print, but I’m still fond of it.

I’m bad at favorites but, at this point in my life, the three novels I love reading the most are An Equal Music by Vikram Seth, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and Old School by Tobias Wolff. Although…If I had to read the same novel every day for the rest of my life, I’d probably pick The Great Gatsby. (You’ll notice I’ve named six books—I really am bad at favorites.)

Who’s your favorite fictional character?
This is an impossible question as I prefer many of the fictional people I meet to real ones. They have better manners, and when they are wicked, it is usually in interesting ways. Anne Shirley before she marries Gilbert. The Dursleys in Harry Potter—I think they get a bad rap. If I were going to write a fan fiction about Harry Potter it would be called, “Sympathy for the Dursleys.”

Thank you for stopping by, Gabrielle!
For more information, visit Gabrielle on her:


Read my review of All These Things I've Done here!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: All These Things I've Done

This is the review of an uncorrected advance copy. Changes may be made in the final book. The cover shown below may be changed or altered before the book's release.
Title: All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Cover Designer:
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Sci-fi
Summary: It's 2083. Chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is increasingly scarce, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine—going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until someone in her inner circle ends up poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight—at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafiya family.

My Review:
Wow. This book was nothing like what I was expecting. And I mean that in a good way!

I loved how All These Things I’ve Done was set in the near future, so the world hadn’t progressed drastically. I liked being able to recognize things from today. For example, when Anya goes to Liberty Island (which wasn’t a tourist spot anymore), she talks about a statue of feet wearing sandals which I recognized to be the remains of the Statue of Liberty. But things still had changed. Water is rationed, paper books are rare, and caffeine is illegal.

Anya was an awesome protagonist. I loved how she was realistic about relationships; it was something I could relate to. I also loved how her relationship with Win had development, and it wasn’t over-emotional or angsty. But that doesn’t mean it was lacking in the passion which comes in later. (Yay for development!)

I also found the crime-family aspect to be very intriguing. Anya’s father was head of the chocolate mafia before he died, so often his old friends and colleagues showed up to create conflict and suspense that made this book so much more enjoyable.

Original, engrossing, and stunning. This is the first book by Gabrielle Zevin that I’ve read, but it surely will not be the last! I can’t wait for the sequel to All These Things I’ve Done!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cover vs. Cover [2]

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly meme, 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

In this case, I like the US cover better. I like the duct tape, and the US cover model looks more like how I pictured Hannah when I was reading Thirteen Reasons Why than the UK cover model does. The text in the upper left-hand corner of the UK cover seems crammed, and I don't like that. Also, on the other side of the US book jacket, there's a map that has all the places Clay visited marked.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Blogger Hop [8]

Book Blogger Hop

This Week's Question: What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked? Which have you disliked?

My Answer:

I think my favorites are Holes and the first Harry Potter movie. I was actually shocked when I saw how true to the book both movies were!

My least favorites are Eragon and Prince Caspian. which is sad because those books are some of my top favorites. They completely butchered the book in Prince Caspian, it made me so mad! Eragon was infuriatingly different from the book too, and the cinematography was horrible. In fact, I read that the reason they never adapted the rest of the series is because Eragon was so unpopular. I don't know if it's true, but if it was it wouldn't surprise me.

Follow (my book blog) Friday [14]

This Week's Question:  How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them or listen to them?

My Answer:
It depends on how busy I am that week. Also, if I'm reading really good books, I read them much faster. Most of the time I read 2-4 books a week, but I want to double that number this summer. I don't have an ereader (although I do want one), so I read paper books, with an occasional audiobook here and there.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Huntress

Title: Huntress
Malinda Lo
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Little, Brown
Cover Designer:
Alison Impey
Age Audience:
Fantasy, LGBT
Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance. To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

My Review:
First of all, I just LOVE the cover. You come across a lot of good covers in YA, but this one is exceptionally beautiful. I love the snow and the pale purple background. Also, the spine is pretty. I love it when books have pretty spines, because then they look so nice sitting on your bookshelf. And then there was something you don’t come across often in YA: the contents of this book were as beautiful as the cover!

When I first started reading, I was worried that Huntress wouldn’t have enough similarities to Ash, because it was set only a few centuries earlier. But as I read farther, I stared to recognize landmarks and cultural references, so my worries disappeared.

The gorgeous, beautiful writing that made me love Ash so much was present in this book too. I even re-read a couple passages just so I could savor the lushness. Here is one of my favorites, from page 116:
“She had never known that ice could take on so many shades of blue: sharp lines of indigo like the deepest sea, aquamarine shadows, even the glint of blue-green where the sun struck just so.”
Doesn’t “aquamarine shadows” sound like the title of an Owl City song? I don’t see how you can NOT love a book with writing like that.

Another thing I loved so much about both Ash and Huntress is that being gay was viewed as completely normal. Malinda Lo’s world is devoid of homophobia, and there is no emphasis on the girl-girl relationships.

But Taisin and Kaede’s relationship was not the main focus of the book. There was lots of conflict with the dying world and their journey to see the Fairy Queen. Even after I thought it was over, there was more! I was constantly in suspense!

I think the only thing that’s keeping me from giving this book 5 stars is the ending. After I finished the book, I thought, "No! It should should have been like [insert alternate ending here]!", and nearly started sobbing before I realized that the ending was not quite as sad as I made it to be. I think the fact that the book was over made me more sad than the ending itself. And now that I think about it, any other ending would have been too happy. So it's good that it ended the way it did. I just wish that it didn't end!

Overall, Huntress was a dauntless fantasy, with a perfect blend of action and romance. No matter what you like to read, I highly recommend this book. I can’t wait for more from Malinda Lo!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [12]

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (release date September 29, 2011)
The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.
Maureen Johnson? Jack the Ripper? How can this book NOT be amazing? I'm so jealous of all the people who got ARCs at BEA. And I say this often, but...I love the cover.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie

Title: Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie
Jordan Sonnenblick
Release Date: January 1, 2004
Scholastic Press
Cover Designer:
Marijka Kostiw
Age Audience:
Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven's world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother's illness and his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.

My Review:
I am not a fan of cancer-themed stories, especially fictional ones. I read this book for my book club, and probably would not have read it otherwise.

The characterization was not so great. Jeffrey was a little too sweet and well-behaved, especially for a kid so ill. Some of the things he said seemed unlikely to come from a five-year-old.
Steven…I’m not sure if I liked Steven or not. He pitied himself too much, and I wasn’t impressed by his sarcastic sense of humor. Yes, I love dry, witty humor. But I love dry, witty, intelligent humor even more. And his humor was anything but intelligent. Actually, there was a lot less humor in this book than I thought there would be, judging from the title.

After I started reading this book, I was surprised that “Dangerous Pie” was in the title. Dangerous Pie only makes one appearance in the book. In the first chapter. It’s never really mentioned again, and it’s not integral to the plot. But that’s just one way of looking at it. You could also say that Dangerous Pie in the title represents the hardships Steven went through because of Jeffery, rather than Dangerous Pie itself.

Jeffery’s cancer almost seemed staged. I’ve read cancer stories in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul that weren’t this melodramatic. And I don’t believe that “my brother has cancer” would be a good enough reason for Steven to miss months of homework with no consequence except makeup work if this were real life. Also, why did Steven start crying nearly every time he talked about the cancer? I know that it would be a traumatic experience, but I don’t believe that a real teenage boy would cry that much and that often.

The ending surprised me. For some reason, I expected Jeffrey to die at the end. I’m not going to give away spoilers, but it still wasn’t happily ever after (okay, maybe it was).

I give this book 3 stars instead of 2.5 because I actually enjoyed reading it, and it only took me a few hours. But I don’t think I’ll be reading similar books anytime soon. Between Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie and Where She Went, I’ve had my fill of emotional books for this year.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Keeping You a Secret

Title: Keeping You a Secret
Julie Anne Peters
Release Date: May 4, 2004
Little, Brown
Cover Designer:
Alison Impey
Age Audience:
Expectations. A girl meets a guy, falls in love, gets married, has sex. Not necessarily in that order. Holland Jaeger is living up to the expectations. But when she meets Cece, the course of her life is changed forever. She falls in love with this girl—this out-and-proud lesbian. Holland's awakening to her own sexuality is the key to setting her free. Can Holland trust that the people she counts on most in her life will accept and embrace her newfound identity? Keeping their relationship a secret may prove to be the worst mistake Holland and Cece could ever make.

My Review:
Let’s start with some positives.

I loved the writing. It was simple, yet so captivating. I read this book in only two hours. Peters also really gets you to care about the characters. In most books, sure I like a certain character, but I wouldn’t be sad if they suddenly vanished. But I very much would have cared if any of the characters in Keeping You a Secret had vanished. (Actually, there was one character I didn’t like—but we’ll get to her later.) Holland especially had a very real personality. I could identify with her a lot. In fact, I think just about anyone who has ever questioned their sexuality can identify with Holland.

This book was pretty memorable too. It’s been almost six months since I read it, and I still remember everything well enough to write a review without going back to skim through. There aren't many books I can say that for.

Now on to the negatives.

There actually wasn’t anything unique about the story. Boil everything down, and the plotline is:
Girl is popular, has great boyfriend, good grades, good relationship with parents. New Girl comes. Girl feels attracted to New Girl, and begins to question her sexuality. Girl discovers she is gay. Girl starts relationship with New Girl. Girl comes out. World falls apart.
That story has been done a hundred times before. I know that there are people who love this kind of story and don’t mind reading the same thing over and over again. But I am not one of those people. I like originality.

Remember when I said that there was just one character that I didn’t like? That one character was Cece Goddard. She seemed so...fake. Wearing a different gay T-shirt every day, and plastering your car with gay bumper stickers? Come on! It was almost like Cece’s sole purpose in life was to let the world know that she was gay. By the way, 2QT2BSTR8 is more than six characters, so how could it have been her license plate?

Despite my criticisms, I really did like this book. If you want a quick (but not forgettable) read and you like generic LGBT stories, then you will enjoy Keeping You a Secret.

Cover vs. Cover [1]

A couple days ago, I was browsing Goodreads and comparing different covers of the same book on the editions page. I wanted to talk about my comparisons, and thought of writing a blog post. Then I thought...why not create a meme? Hence, Cover vs. Cover.

Cover vs. Cover is a weekly meme, hosted here, where I compare different covers of the same book. If you want to participate too, it would make my day! Just leave your post link in the comments (if this meme becomes popular, I will add a Mr. Linky). I compare the US and UK covers, but you can compare any two covers you want, as long as they're of the same book.

This week's competing covers are:

             The US Cover                                        The UK Cover

Both of these covers are gorgeous, I love the dress Ash is wearing (in both). But my favorite is the UK cover. The color scheme is so pretty, and Ash walking through the forest looks better than Ash curled in a fetal position.

And luckily, the contents of this book were just as beautiful as the cover(s)!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Follow (my book blog) Friday [13]

This Week's Question: It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...

My Answer:
1. I don't like fresh spaghetti. I can only eat it when it's been reheated the next day.
2. I'm not at all a morning person. Maybe because I stay up reading at night (but this seems to be a normal habit in the book blogger world).
3. I'm very organized. My room can be a total mess, but it will be an organized mess.
4. I mentally categorize all anime and manga into two groups: Slapstick and Serious. Stuff like Ouran High School Host Club and Azumanga Daioh falls into the Slapstick group, then animes/mangas like Death Note and Vampire Knight fall into the Serious group. Not surprisingly, most of what I watch/read is in the Slapstick group.
5. I loudly break into song several times a day. If you're part of my immediate family, you are familiar with this habit of  mine.

*prepares for mass of un-Followers upon letting the world know how weird I actually am*

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope

Title: The Last Little Blue Envelope (13 Little Blue Envelopes, #2)
Maureen Johnson
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Cover Designer:
Age Audience:
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end. Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits...and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

My Review:
Have you ever taken longer than usual to finish reading a book, not because you didn’t want to read it, but because you didn’t want it to end?
That was what happened to me with The Last Little Blue Envelope. Usually when a book that was intended to be a stand-alone has a sequel, I end up not liking it as much as the first book. But in this case, there was nothing to dislike!

I loved reading about more of Ginny’s adventures. She had matured, and her relationships with the other characters had developed as well. I liked Oliver very much, especially once I got to know him and found out about his past. The quirky humor that made 13 Little Blue Envelopes so fun was present in this book too, but there were also serious tones. Maybe it was because of that that I liked this book even more than its predecessor.

In my review of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I said that it made me want to visit England. Well, this book made me want to move to England. Maureen Johnson’s vivid descriptions made it seem like such an amazing place.

Enjoyable, intricate and lively, The Last Little Blue Envelope is a must-read for fans of the first book. Because of the conclusive yet open ending, I think there’s no harm in hoping for a third book (please, Maureen?).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [11]

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (release date October 4, 2011)
A move to Ireland is about to introduce Megan to her destiny, her real destiny, can she embrace it and will she survive it?

A tragedy in Megan’s past set her on a predetermined course. A chain of events has been set in motion that brings Megan to Kinsale, a small town in the south of Ireland where her destiny awaits her. Her life starts to fall into place as she makes new friends and settles into her new school. However, the reclusive and distant Adam DeRís calls to her body and soul.

She finds herself increasingly drawn to Adam and his strange family. Adam knows a secret from her past and he and his family hold the key to her future. A future that binds her to Adam and his world, a world of power, mystery and ancient orders. A world that unbeknownst to her, she very much belongs in.
Why do I want to read this book? First of all, the cover is very unique. For some reason, the cover makes it look like an adult book rather than YA. Also, there aren't very many YA books set in Ireland, so I have big expectations for The Carrier of the Mark!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes (13 Little Blue Envelopes, #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: October 1, 2006
Publisher: HarperTeen
Cover Designer:
Age Audience:
When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

My Review:
First of all, I want to say that even if I didn’t like this book, I would still be aware of the fact that Maureen Johnson is an awesome, awesome person (if you don’t believe me, go follow her on Twitter).
Luckily, I really liked this book!
The concept was creative, and you can tell from the way this book was written that Maureen Johnson has had travel experience. Reading about Ginny’s adventures was fun, and relatable if you’ve ever done any traveling.

I also liked how Ginny never went anywhere too tourist-y. For example, when she was in London she didn’t even go to the Tower of London or any other landmarks. She went to the more everyday places of the countries she traveled to.

My only criticism of this book was that Ginny’s parents seemed to have disappeared. It’s hard to believe that they’d let her go to Europe alone without even keeping in touch (the instructions in Envelope #1 said not to bring electronics). And judging from what we’re told about Ginny’s mother, she wasn’t too fond of Aunt Peg’s schemes. So why would she let Ginny follow something of her doing?

Other than that, 13 Little Blue Envelopes was a great book. I loved all the characters, and can hardly wait to read The Last Little Blue Envelope!
(Oh, and this book made me want to go to England sooo much. Paris too. But mostly England.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox [9]

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we share books that we've received.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Hush, Hush

Title: Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Release Date: September 27, 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Cover Designer:
Lucy Ruth Cummins
Age Audience:
For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen—and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

My Review:
Reading Hush, Hush was like watching a bad made-for-TV movie: you stick with it until it’s over, but the whole time you’re telling yourself, “Why am I wasting my time on this garbage?”

I really did not like Nora. She was naïve and unobservant. Every time she went on one of her “investigations”, she ended up making silly choices that drove me mad. And to think that she wanted to get into an Ivy League school!

Patch was just…ugh. I did not like him either. Not because he was snarky and cocky (that is actually normal behavior for a teenage guy), but because he was abusive. Nora states several times that he scares her despite her mysterious attraction to him (does this sound familiar?). Yet he stalks her, plays tricks on her mind, and is all-around abusive.

There were so many things wrong with this book. Why were they learning about reproduction in Biology? Discussing what they look for in a potential mate? Has Fitzpatrick ever been to school? They do not teach things like that. And even if they did, it would be taught in Health, not Biology. Why would Nora’s mother leave her home alone for days on end when Nora’s father had been murdered? An experience like that would normally make a parent even more protective. And Nora is a minor, so why wasn’t her mother ever informed of the several police visits?

The only reason this book is getting 1.5 stars instead of 1 is because the writing wasn’t atrocious. I mean, it wasn’t good, but at least Fitzpatrick can put a sentence together.

Unoriginal storyline, poorly developed characters, and too many Twilight similarities. Don’t make my mistake and buy this book before you read it.

Follow (my book blog) Friday [12]

This Week's Question: The Blogger Apocalypse made me a little emotional. What is the most emotional scene in a book that you have read lately?

My Answer:
The last book with notably emotional scenes that I read was Paper Towns by John Green. Especially at the end. My eyes just may have leaked a little...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [10]

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (release date November 15, 2011)
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before...and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
I really liked The Body Finder, so I'm glad to see that Kimberly Derting is writing more books! (Not that this has to do with anything, but I really like the cover!)

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: As You Wish

Title: As You Wish
Author: Jackson Pearce
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: HarperTeen
Cover Designer:
Jennifer Rozbruch
Age Audience:
Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie named Jinn out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn....and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever. Jackson Pearce spins a magical tale about star-crossed lovers, what it means to belong...and how important it is to be careful what you wish for.

My Review:
I really liked Jackson Pearce’s other book, Sisters Red, and thought it was her only book until I discovered As You Wish. By the way, please do not make the mistake of judging this book by its cover. The cover makes this book look like cheesy chick-lit. Even the summary sounds cliché. But As You Wish was neither cheesy nor cliché.

I loved the dialogue, it was funny and realistic. Viola and Lawrence and Ollie and Xander could very well be people I know. The plot was simple yet thought-provoking, especially when you’re reading from Jinn’s POV. The paranormal aspect was simple too. It was nice to see that Jackson Pearce knew she didn’t have to come up with a complicated mythology to have a good supernatural story.

In any other paranormal romance, I’d say that a little over a week is too soon for people to fall in love. But since Jinn and Viola spent a lot of time together, their relationship had plenty of time to develop and nothing seemed rushed.

As You Wish was generally fun and feel-good. And now that I know that Jackson Pearce has written more than one good book, I can expect whatever she writes next to be worth reading.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox [8]

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we share books that we've received.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Review: Tempest Rising

Title: Tempest Rising
Author: Tracy Deebs
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Cover Designer:
Age Audience:
Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her—and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

My Review:
Tempest Rising was an okay book. Better than The Mermaid’s Mirror, but that isn’t very high praise.

This doesn't really have anything to do with this particular book, but I wonder why most mermaid books have surfing. Maybe it's because it makes the protagonist seem close to the water.

Anyways, on to this book. Tempest, the protagonist, was a pretty typical character. I think her name was a little silly, but that’s just my personal opinion. I really hate it when authors give characters a passion that’s more told than shown, yet it happened it this book. Tempest says that she loves painting and wants to be an artist when she’s older. Then why didn’t we ever see her paint?

The romantic aspect included The Dreaded Love Triangle (yes, it is dreaded. I am so sick of love triangles), which was made up of Mark, Tempest’s on-and-off boyfriend, and Kai, a mysterious newcomer who doesn’t seem to be human. Kai sounds like a paranormal cliché already, doesn’t he? And while we’re talking about clichés, Tempest falls head-over-heels in love with Kai only about a week after they meet. But this time, Deebs couldn’t even use the “soul-mates” excuse. I don’t know whether that made it bearable or more pathetic.

The underwater world of Tempest Rising was so-so. Not terrible, not especially unique. However, some of the plot was unrealistic. You might be thinking, “This book is about mermaids, of course it’s unrealistic.” But sometimes it was unrealistic to the point of being ridiculous. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but a couple scenes in this book made me think, “Whaaat?”

One of the only things I liked about this book was that Tempest’s choice to become a mermaid or not wasn’t the main focus. There was more conflict than that. Conflict created by an evil sea witch named Tiamut and a giant squid-like monster. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds, but it spiced up the story a little bit.

The writing was really repetitive. Every kissing scene was described with almost the same words, so it was like reading the same scene over and over again. Also, did we really need to read that Tempest’s dad looked “more like one of my friends than he did a man who was pushing middle age” every time he made an appearance? We don’t need constant reminding that he dresses like a young surfer.

The ending was vague. It’s never clear whether Tempest decides to stay on land or to live under the sea. Overall, Tempest Rising was a typical YA paranormal romance. If you’re looking for something new and fresh, I don’t recommend this book. Otherwise, go ahead.

Book Blogger Hop [7]

Book Blogger Hop

This Week's Question: Which book blogger would you most like to meet?

My Answer:
That's a pretty easy question! I think I'd most want to meet Kristi from The Story Siren and Sandra from Sandra the Nook Worm. Both are awesome, awesome people, and it would be surreal to meet them IRL!

Follow (my book blog) Friday [11]

This Week's Question: What character in a book would you most like to be, what character in a book would you most like to date?

My Answer:

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI don't know if he counts as a book character, but I would NOT hesitate to date Kyouya Ootori from Ouran High School Host Club. I love him for his personality, but his looks are definitely an appreciated bonus. Why is it that anime guys with glasses are ten times hotter than anime guys without them?

As for who I want to be...I don't think I can pick just one! A few fictional people I'd want to be are Tessa from Clockwork Angel, Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, and Violet Ambrose from The Body Finder.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday [9]

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (release date August 23, 2011)
Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.

Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel.

Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.
First of all, I LOVE the cover! It's so creepy. This is a companion to Sisters Red, and I really liked Sister's Red, so I can't wait to read Sweetly!

They actually had a huge stack of ARCs at the TLA, but they were only giving them to librarians :(

Monday, May 2, 2011

Review: Paper Towns

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Release Date: October 16, 2008
Publisher: Dutton
Cover Designer: Christian Funfhausen
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Contemporary 
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

My Review:
I discovered Paper Towns about a year ago, but I had no interest in reading it until I saw a fan-made trailer (which was very well-done) for it during a presentation at TLA 2011. I didn’t know what to expect (remember that I generally don’t like contemporary fiction), but I was absolutely blown away! It was so fascinating, I really couldn’t stop reading.

The characters were awesome. I loved being drawn into the world of Quentin, Ben and Radar, all of whom made me laugh several times throughout the book. I loved how they weren’t ashamed of their intelligence and general nerdiness. I’m not sure how I felt about Margo though. I think it was selfish of her to run away. Even though it wasn’t the first time…Quentin missed her so much! He even though for a while that she was dead! (See? Look how attached I am to him.)

But behind the witty dialogue and captivating writing, Paper Towns had a profound message. It teaches that you should see people as people, and not expect them to be anything but who they are.
“What a treacherous thing it is to believe a person is more than a person.”
Here are a couple more quotes that are worth sharing:
“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.”
“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”
The ending was bittersweet and a little bleak, but hopeful. I may or may not have gotten a little teary-eyed. Paper Towns was a compelling and meaningful book that both young adults and not-so-young adults should read.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In My Mailbox [7]

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren, where we share books that we've received.

On Wednesday, I bought Catching Fire. Since I already had The Hunger Games and Mockingjay, I own the whole trilogy now! *yay*
And yesterday, the Friends of the Library in my town had their biannual book sale. I didn't think I'd find anything good, but I did!
A Great and Terrible Beauty I've already read, and it was awesome! I haven't read Rebel Angels yet so I was glad to find it.

The Lovely Bones is one of those "everyone's read it but me" books, and the cover is so pretty.

Girl With a Pearl Earring was recommended to me by a friend. The synopsis sounds interesting, and I like historical fiction, so hopefully it will be a good read!

And then Flowers in the Attic.....it's a long story how I came to buy this book, and if I ever review it then I'll tell it to you.

What books did you get this week?