Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

From Inside Jacket: It starts by accident, when Raye creates a joke Facebook page for mysterious vixen "Elizabeth." Then Julian friends her, and the real games begin. What Raye hadn't counted on was falling so hard for Julian - and igniting Ella's rage. Now with the real-life Julian interested in her, Raye has to reconcile the temptress he fell for with her real-life self. Meanwhile, she's learning just how vicious Ella can be and how easily her reputation can be shattered. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find out if she has what it takes to break all the rules. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Julian Game by Adele Griffin is a novel that realistically portrays just how easy it is for bullying to occur in schools today. With the popularity of social networking sites, the truth can be manipulated without any difficulty and the effects can be widespread. Griffin also does a good job with Raye’s reaction because although she hates reading the vicious things said about her, she can’t seem to stop herself from seeing what other people are saying. The ending too was appropriate, and I liked the way Raye chose to respond to Ella.

What I wasn’t as fond of were the characters because they seemed stereotypical. Sure, Ella isn’t Queen Bee at home and has OCD, but she’s also the rich and pretty mean girl whereas Raye is the smart, new girl on scholarship who will do anything to join the popular girls. I also didn’t see what Raye saw in Julian. Even without the blatant warnings to Raye that he was a player, it was so obvious that Julian was a jerk that was simply using Raye. Sadly, the two characters that I did like, Natalya and Henry Henry, weren’t featured as much as I wanted them to be. 

The Julian Game was released in August 2010 by Putnam Juvenile. 

Comments About the Cover: I actually checked out The Julian Game from the library based on its cover, which I really like. The pose of the model seems a little menacing, and when combined with the blue wig and the bright green gloves that stand out and the fact that the girl’s eyes are covered by the title, it really symbolizes that cyberbullying can be conducted anonymously. As well, the checkered pattern in the background reminds me of a chessboard, and makes me think that the model is just one of many players in a game, waiting for others to make a move before making one of her own. This goes very well with the title and the slogan "Play or get played." 

Ten Best Reads of 2010

Day 11 of Persnickety Snark's Five Challenge for 2010 is to list our ten best reads of 2010. I decided to consider all the books I read this year even if they weren't 2010 releases, and came up with the following books:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Goodreads Summary: What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Goodreads Summary: Jay Asher's brilliant first novel is a moving, highly original story that focuses on a set of audiotapes made by a girl before she committed suicide, and which explain to 13 people the reasons why she decided to end her life. Told in a highly effective duel narrative -- alternating between the girl s voice and the thoughts of a boy who is listening -- this honest, poignant story reveals how other people's actions shape, and by extension can ruin, an individual's faith in people. Intensely powerful and painfully real, Thirteen Reasons Why reveals how brutal high school can be, the consequences of spreading rumors, and the lasting effects of suicide on those left behind.

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Goodreads Summary: After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri's birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s - and to her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. It's graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives outside of the Academy’s cold iron gates to finally begin. But even with the intrigue and excitement of court life looming, Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri. He's out there, somewhere. She failed to kill him when she had the chance, and now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won't join him, he won't rest until he's silenced her ... forever. But Rose can't forget what she learned on her journey - whispers of a magic too impossible and terrifying to comprehend. A magic inextricably tied to Lissa that could hold the answer to all of Rose's prayers, but not without devastating consequences. Now Rose will have to decide what - and who - matters most to her. In the end, is true love really worth the price?

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
Goodreads Summary: Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She’s really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That’s the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother who has a small personality complex (he thinks he’s Jesus). Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can’t wait to get away from her family for good. Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He’s sweet, funny, everything she wants – and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he’s not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do? My Review

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
Goodreads Summary: Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers? My Review
 

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Goodreads Summary: Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours. But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal. My Review

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Goodreads Summary: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock - only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Goodreads Summary: Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world ... and the imprints that attach to their killers. Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer - and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer ... and becoming his prey herself.

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison
Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it's all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery. But Annika's plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly finds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right? My Review

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Goodreads Summary: "I can steal anything." After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, the magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task - to steal a hidden treasure from another land. To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own. My Review

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out With a Bang Readathon


The Out With a Bang Readathon starts today, and it's being hosted from December 29-31 by Casey from The Bookish Type and Heather from Book-Savvy. Since the point is to basically read as much as you can within the next couple of days, I'm hoping to finish reading:
  • The Julian Game by Adele Griffin
  • The Haunted by Jessica Verday
  • A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
  • The Unidentified by Rae Mariz 
Update #1: At the end of Day 1, I managed to finish reading the last 48 pages of The Julian Game as well as read pages 77-321 of The Haunted.

Update #2: I went out today so I didn't get as much read. However, I did manage to finish reading pages 322-467 of The Haunted, and so completed another book. 

Update #3: For the last day of the readathon, I managed to read pages 6-102 of A Certain Slant of Light.

Holiday Break Reading Challenge: Book Character Best Friends


Today's task of the Holiday Break Reading Challenge is to list which book characters would be your friend or boyfriend if they were real. 

Fictional Friends
Hermione from Harry Potter 
Sophie from Hex Hall 
Claire from the Morganville Vampires series
Rose from the Vampire Academy series
 
Fictional Boyfriends
Jared from I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
Jay from The Body Finder

Waiting on Wednesday: The Water Wars and Drought

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week I'm waiting for two dystopians that will be released in January. They have a related theme so I figured I might as well feature them together. 

Title: The Water Wars
Author: Cameron Stracher
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Date of Release: January 1, 2011

Goodreads Description: Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations. Timely and eerily familiar, acclaimed author Cameron Stracher makes a stunning YA debut that's impossible to forget.

Why am I waiting? I find environmental issues interesting, and the premise of The Water Wars could be a very real possibility in our society someday in the future. It also helps that the cover is gorgeous!

Title: Drought
Author: Pam Bachorz
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Date of Release: January 25, 2011

Goodreads Description: Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved. She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood. So she stays. But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

Why am I waiting? After reading the description, I have so many questions, with the most important one being: What is so special about Ruby's blood? I'm looking forward to getting some answers!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

From Back Cover: "I can steal anything." After Gen's bragging lands him in the king's prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king's scholar, the magus, needs the thief's skill for a seemingly impossible task - to steal a hidden treasure from another land. To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.

My Rating: 5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Why, oh why has no one ever told me about The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner? Set in a world much like ancient Greece but not exactly (because there are things like guns), The Thief initially started slowly but had me hooked a few chapters in. It’s so hard to write a review for this novel because even the smallest details relate to the ending, which was surprising and yet in retrospect, wasn’t out of the blue.

Gen is such a fun character! He can’t seem to keep quiet, is cocky, and basically does whatever he wants. The supporting characters are also well-developed, and I hope to get to know them even better in The Queen of Attolia, the sequel to The Thief.

In addition, I really enjoyed reading about the stories of the old gods of Eddis that the magus and Gen (later on) would tell while the group was traveling. I always loved it when it was time to study Ancient Greece in elementary school, and Turner does a really good job of making the stories of Eddis' gods original while still allowing them to have a mythological feel.    

An engrossing novel that I’m sure I’ll re-read again sometime in the future, The Thief was released by Greenwillow Books in December 2005. 

Comments About the Cover: It has an old worldly air, and I really like that you can see the bruises on Gen’s arms and the dirt under his nails since he’s a thief who has just been released from prison. It’s also nice that Hamiathes’ Gift is featured because it plays an integral part in the novel.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren. 
For Review: 
Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison (thanks to Harlequin Enterprises via NetGalley)
Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky (thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley) 

Borrowed:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Break Reading Challenge: Easy Christmas Activity


Today's task of the the Holiday Break Reading Challenge is to to take a picture of the novel you're reading, and then turn to page 25 and type out line 25.


As you can see, I'm currently reading The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, and line 25 from page 25 happens to say, "Just keep your mouth shut, do you understand?"

Five Most Anticipated Titles for 2011

Day 5 of Persnickety Snark's Five Challenge for 2010 is to talk about our five most anticipated titles for 2011. There are so many books I'm looking forward to, but the following (in no particular order) are the ones I'm most excited about:

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Goodreads Summary: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Goodreads Summary: It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future and each other.
  
Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Goodreads Summary: A haunted castle, a handsome young man dead for four hundred years, one heck of a scary portrait of a witch, and a treasure hunt - not to mention a princess for a roommate! - all await 15 year old American girl Caitlyn Monahan when she earns a scholarship to a French boarding school. There are secrets behind the stone walls of Chateau de la Fortune, buried for centuries along with the mystery of who killed Raphael, the charming ghost who visits Caitlyn at night. But as Caitlyn unearths the history of the castle, nothing scares her as badly as the secret she learns about herself, and the reason she was chosen to come to the Fortune School. And nothing breaks her heart as badly as falling in love with a dead guy.

What Happened to Goodbye
Summary: Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends - in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know? (courtesy of Sarah-land)

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
Summary: Abby accepted that she can't measure up to her beautiful magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible. Until the accident. Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby's life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her. She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she'd never seen. Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could ... (courtesy of 'Elizabeth Scott Fans!' Official Site)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: The Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

From Inside Jacket: When Will and Bet were four, tragic circumstances brought them to the same house, to be raised by a wealthy gentleman as brother and sister. Now sixteen, they appear content with the life fat has bestowed upon them. But appearances can be deceiving. Bet can experience only what society allows for a girl. Will is afforded much more freedom, but still only as society dictates. Neither is happy. So Bet comes up with a plan and persuades Will to give it a try: She'll go to school as Will. Will can live as he chooses. But when she arrives at school, the reality doesn't match what Bet imagined. Boys act very differently when they don't think there's a girl in their midst. In fact, they can be rather brutish. But brutish Bet can deal with. It's the stirrings of attraction for her roommate that get Bet into real trouble. This is not the education Bet expected.

My Rating: 4 stars
Thoughts on the Novel: The Education of Bet is the first of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s novels that I’ve read, and it was a short but humorous read.   

Bet has a very engaging voice, and I loved how determined she was to fulfill her dream of getting an education. It just made me realize how lucky I am to be living in a time period and country where being a girl and having the ability to get an education is sometimes taken for granted. This wasn’t always the case however and still isn’t in many places around the world.

It’s when Bet begins masquerading as a boy though that I enjoyed reading the most because she was so na├»ve, as any proper girl in 19th century would be. She gets excited about traveling and seeing cows on the road, and her reaction to going to a pub and being approached by women is hilarious! Then, there are all the obstacles that Bet must deal with that she doesn’t take into account when pretending to be a boy such as getting her period and rooming with a boy …  

All in all, The Education of Bet was a good introduction to Baratz-Logsted’s writing and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

The Education of Bet was released by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children in July 2010.

Comments About the Cover: It’s attractive; but I wish it related more to a scene in the novel, or at least had the model’s head on it. I’m not a fan of covers where the entire body can be present but the head disappears!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Five Great Series

Day 3 of Persnickety Snark's Five Challenge for 2010 involves talking about five great series. So, here's some of mine:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
This one should not need an explanation! Just in case though, the protagonist is witty, strong-willed, loyal and completely capable of taking care of herself. It’s no wonder then that Rose is one of my favourite heroines! Plus, there’s action, romance, suspense and interesting, well-developed secondary characters.

Theatre Illuminata by Lisa Mantchev
I’ve read Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream is in my TBR pile. It’s the characters that drive this series, and my favourites happen to be the fairies Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. They’re so adorable and I think I laughed in every scene that they were in! Mantchev’s writing is also very whimsical, and she just manages to suck you in with her creative imagination. One thing is for sure: You won’t be bored reading this series!

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
This series is perfect if you want something light and enjoyable. Sophie is such a witty and charming main character, and there's some great twists that you could never predict. In addition, the writing flows very smoothly, which made reading Hex Hall extremely quick.   

Curse Workers by Holly Black
The world-building is just so unique, and I love that there's drawbacks for each type of curse. We always seem to think that having powers is awesome, yet forget about the disadvantages. The other great thing about White Cat was that Cassel was an unreliable narrator, and so you could never fully trust what he was saying. It doesn’t help that he’s a con man and is proud of it. Oh, and although I had a general idea of how the story was going to unfold, even I didn’t see the ending coming!

Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
The concept is very refreshing, and it doesn’t involve any supernatural creatures while still falling within the paranormal/fantasy genre. The writing is also fast-paced, and the relationship between Violet and Jay as they attempt to transition from friends to something more is handled very realistically. As well, rather than being non-existent or dead, the adults in Violet’s family are actual characters and have a relationship that’s supportive and not dysfunctional!

Some other series that are worth taking a look and popped into my mind once I finished making this list include: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston, Evernight by Claudia Gray and Dark Divine by Bree Despain.

Five Great Covers

I missed Day 2 of Persnickety Snark's Five Challenge for 2010 so this post is a little late, but better than never right? The aim was to show five great covers. Since I totally decide if unknown books are worth reading based on their covers, here's five covers I loved (though I may not have read the book itself):





Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Warped, Forsaken and Unearthly

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week I'm waiting for a bunch of January releases.

Title: Warped
Author: Maurissa Guibord
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date of Release: January 11, 2011

Goodreads Description: Tessa doesn't believe in magic. Or Fate. But there's something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa's own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa's life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

Why am I waiting? The premise sounds pretty original, and it seems like there's some time travel involved along with romance, danger and mystery.

Title: Forsaken (Demon Trappers #1)
Author: Jana Oliver
Publisher: MacMillan Children's Books
Date of Release: January 7, 2011

Goodreads Description: Riley has always wanted to be a Demon Trapper like her father, and she's already following in his footsteps as one of the best. But it's tough being the only girl in an all-guy world, especially when three of those guys start making her life more complicated: Simon, the angelic apprentice who has heaven on his side; Beck, the tough trapper who thinks he's God's gift, and Ori, the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her ass. One thing's for sure - if she doesn't keep her wits about her there'll be hell to pay...

Why am I waiting? I read the sentence "[Riley is] the only girl in an all-guy world." You just know there's going to be some drama and at least one hot guy around!

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date of Release: January 4, 2011

Goodreads Description: In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees ... Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy. Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place - and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side. As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make - between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Why am I waiting? The pretty cover snagged my attention, and then I found out it involved angels (or part angels in this case). Well, out of all the paranormal creatures out there, angels happen to be my favourite! So, it's not a surprise that I'm waiting.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Five Great Debuts

As part of Persnickety Snark's Five Challenge for 2010, Day 1 is to list five great debuts. Since I didn't participate in DAC 2010, I don't have a huge list of debut novels to select from. However, from the ones I've read, these would be my top five in no particular order:

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Goodreads Summary: Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours. But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal. My Review


I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
Goodreads Summary: Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She’s really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That’s the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother who has a small personality complex (he thinks he’s Jesus). Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can’t wait to get away from her family for good. Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He’s sweet, funny, everything she wants – and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he’s not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do? My Review

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Goodreads Summary: After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA — a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died. Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach — the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after — seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills. My Review

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Goodreads Summary: What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Goodreads Summary: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice? My Review

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

From Inside Jacket: Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across the country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There's just one small problem: Since her dad died this past spring, Amy hasn't been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year-old son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute ... and dealing with some baggage of his own. Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father's death were not what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitely not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most - and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home. 

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: While touching on some heavy topics, Morgan Matson’s wonderful debut novel, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, is mostly a fun read and will make you want to go on your own road trip!

There are so many settings in this book, and each affects Amy and Roger in different ways while allowing the reader to get to know them better. What I absolutely loved about Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour though was that it was filled with receipts, photos, doodles, playlists of songs and notes from the trip, which made reading the novel more enjoyable and also made me feel like I was experiencing the journey with Amy and Roger.

The story is told from Amy’s perspective and Matson does a great job allowing the reader to understand Amy’s thoughts and actions. Although Amy is distant and isolated initially, she never seemed unappealing to me because I could see how much she was struggling with to come to terms with what had happened to her and feel the burden of guilt that she was carrying. Then, as time goes on, the reader can see Amy start to slowly heal and her true personality really begins to shine through.

With his own problem and motivation for coming on the road trip, Roger is also a realistic character; and much like Amy, has his life changed by their journey. I liked Roger not only because he has an awesome taste in music, but is genuinely nice and honest. Plus, he has an adorable quirk of refusing to say goodbye.

As well, Matson does a good job of developing the romance in the novel. Having to spend so much time together, both Roger and Amy help each other deal with their past and therefore get to know each other very well. So, it wasn’t hard to understand why they would fall in love with each other. As someone who doesn’t believe in love at first sight, it’s refreshing to have a novel where I wasn’t wondering what does so-and-so see in this other character.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was released in May 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

Comments About the Cover: It’s cute and conveys the point that the story involves a road trip and some romance. However, I feel like it gives off the feeling that the novel will be a fluffy read which isn’t true because there are emotional moments.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.


Borrowed:
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Won:
Gravity Brings Me Down by Natale Ghent and unexpected Firelight swag (courtesy of Ashley and Christie from A & C Book Junkies)
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (courtesy of Hannah from Snuggle Up and Read)
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (courtesy of Hannah from Snuggle Up and Read
Way more bookmarks than I expected (courtesy of Candace from Candace's Book Blog)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Break Reading Challenge: Goals


The first task of the Holiday Break Reading Challenge is to set goals. So, over the holiday break, I'm going to aim to:
  1. Read at least 5 books
  2. Post at least 4 reviews (i.e. two reviews a week)
  3. Figure out what I want to do for the New Year's Reading Resolutions Hop
  4. Load up on sleep - I'm planning to spend as much time as possible snuggled under my blanket :)

Author Interview: Polly Shulman (and Giveaway)

About a week ago, I posted up a review for The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman. I also contacted her and asked her if she would be willing to be my first author interviewee. Polly replied that she would be delighted and so, I present her answers to my questions. 


Much like Elizabeth, you also worked at a library and had your social studies teacher help you get the job. How much of The Grimm Legacy was inspired by events in your own life?
All of it, especially being chased by a rat after being shrunk with a shrink ray ... okay, not really. The parts from my own life are the ones you mentioned. The rest I borrowed from fairy tales or made up.

Besides some of the familiar fairy tales, there’s some which I’ve never heard of. How much research did you have to do before you actually began to write The Grimm Legacy?
I re-read zillions of fairy tales while I was writing: the Grimm stories, the Andrew Lang books, collections of folktales from India and Africa, literary fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen and George Macdonald, and tons more. But I did the research and the writing simultaneously - otherwise I might just have sat there reading fairy tales for years and never started writing.

Those fairy tales are super interesting! Do you have a favourite one in particular?
I have so many favorites! They include: George Macdonald's "The Day Boy and the Night Girl"; The Grimms' "The Twelve Dancing Princesses"; and Andersen's "The Snow Queen."

Do you have any writing projects currently planned for the future?
Right now I'm working on a companion volume to The Grimm Legacy, called The Wells Bequest. Like The Grimm Legacy, it takes place in The New-York Circulating Material Repository and centers around one of the secret collections in the basement. This time, though, it's not fairy-tale objects, but objects from classic science fiction - think shrink rays and time machines. Most of the main characters are new, including the narrator - a boy named Leo - but readers of The Grimm Legacy will recognize his crush. It's Jaya, Anjali's kid sister from The Grimm Legacy, now a teenager and just as pesky as ever.

Yay, does this mean that Jaya will be working at the Repository, and will readers see the other characters from The Grimm Legacy as well? I know Aaron has a key to the Wells Bequest ...
Yes, Jaya is a page at the Repository, and the librarians are still there. Aaron, Elizabeth, Anjali, and Marc are away in college, but we might glimpse them in passing as Jaya and Leo travel back in time. Andre is still a little kid, but who knows? Maybe eventually he'll work in the Repository and have his own story. 

Do you by any chance have a release date that's tentatively set up for the The Wells Bequest
I'm not sure when The Wells Bequest will be published, but it won't be for at least a couple of years. First I have to write it - I haven't gotten very far yet - and then my editor (the wonderful Nancy Paulsen) has to edit it, Putnam has to print and distribute it, and so on.

There are other Special Collections in the New York Circulating Material Repository besides the Grimm Collection. What’s your favourite Collection and if the Repository actually existed, what would you borrow from it?
Probably the Grimm Collection - I always wanted to fly, and I would love to use that cloak of invisibility (if only I could find it) - but the time machine in the Wells Bequest is awfully tempting too. I would love to watch an original production of a Shakespeare play or see what Manhattan looked like before the Europeans arrived. I'd go back and find out what colors dinosaurs were, listen to their mating calls, watch dodos walk, watch passenger pigeons fly...

Assuming you’re allowed to borrow only one thing from the Grimm Collection, what would it be and what would you deposit in exchange for it?
Ha! That's one more bit of autobiography I forgot about - Elizabeth's sense of direction, which she leaves as a deposit when she borrows a magic object from the Grimm Collection. I can get lost in my own kitchen. My sense of direction is so bad I would hardly miss it. Might as well use it as a deposit, right? On the other hand, I would want to borrow an object that lets you fly - the winged sandals, maybe - which means I would need whatever sense of direction I have or I'd never get home again. So I think I'd leave my singing voice as a deposit. It's nothing to write home about, and I doubt I'd be doing much singing while flying.

That's actually not a bad deposit to leave! Plus, if you don't return the sandals in their original condition, losing your singing voice doesn't sound so bad.  
Exactly. You'd say that even more loudly if you'd ever heard me sing.

Would you like to add anything else, Polly?
Yes, I'd like to mention my friend Cyril Emery. You talked about the call numbers in your review. Cyril's the one who wrote them. He's a United Nations librarian, a brilliant, hilarious, generous guy who came up with a witty way to modify the Dewey Decimal System to accommodate not just books, but objects - and not just objects, but magical ones.

A big thanks to Polly for taking the time to answer my questions. I really appreciated her prompt reply to my request and to show my gratitude, I'm giving away a copy of The Grimm Legacy.

So, read the rules below, and then fill out this FORM:
  1. This giveaway is open to any country that The Book Depository ships to. 
  2. You must be a follower.
  3. You must be over the age of 13.
  4. This giveaway will end on January 14, 2011.