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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (8)

Teaser Tuesday, a meme hosted by Should Be Reading is really easy and fun to participate in. All you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I wonder what my aunt Rebecca says in the car on the way home.  I wonder what her children think.  I wonder if they talk about us.  I wonder if they look at my family and wonder who has a chance to make it.  I bet they do.




Honestly, I'm not quite sure what I think of this one yet.  There are some really fantastic and memorable quotes, and just some very insightful comments in general, but it's a very slow read, and I can't say I quite understand all the hooplah yet.


What're you reading this Tuesday? Feel free to link in the comments!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

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.



So, I did not finish this book.  Technically, this is because I forgot it at the gym and most likely will not have it back till Tuesday.  But the fact is, I was already considering DNF-ing this.  It is really not a terrible book, it just did not hold my interest in any way.

I wanted to like this book.  I liked The Name of the Star, many of my friends had enjoyed it, and the premise itself just seemed very cute and quirky.  Plus, there is MJ herself to consider.  She is the perfect combination of awesome and eccentric, so I decided that this book would just as awesome and eccentric.

Unfortunately, it forgot the awesome and kept the eccentric.

The idea sounds cute, in a pitch.  Quirky, but cute, and not completely illogical.  That's before you're told that Ginny is not allowed to bring a cellphone, a laptop, a camera, or any sort of guide/translation books, and her parents are not allowed to give her backup money.  I'm sorry, but what sane parents would allow their teenage child to traipse about Europe with no immediate way of contacting them and no backup whatsoever should her dead aunt not come through?  Oh, and not only are these envelopes from her dead aunt, they are from her dead aunt that up and left with absolutely no notice several years ago, who is known for being crazy and erratic, and who died of a brain tumor.  I'm sorry for the abundance of italics, but I am trying to emphasize just how completely and utterly unbelievable this is.

Unfortunately, that was not my biggest problem.  While I certainly would've been side-eyeing it for a bit there, if this novel had pulled through with great writing, awesome characters, and smooth plotting, I could've dealt with it.  I could've even enjoyed it.  But sadly, it did not.  The worst thing about this novel, for me, is that it was completely and utterly meh.

Ginny was meh.  Over a hundred pages in and I still had not gotten the slightest hint of a personality from her.  I didn't dislike her--she wasn't a bitch, and while she was a bit on the slow side, she wasn't a complete idiot- but I found it impossible to be emotionally invested in a robot.

The romance was meh.  There wasn't the slightest hint of chemistry between the two of them.  After seeing Keith perform for the first time (and not thinking of anything feelings-related) Ginny writes in her notebook (?) to her best friend, Miriam, who has not been mentioned once up to this point, and talks about how she thinks she may have a crush on him.  Erm . . . ?

The writing, as well, was meh. It wasn't bad, and there were a couple good lines or parts that made me smile, but it was far too clunky and plain to carry the plot.  Also, while I do realize that a plot like this calls for more description than the usual (after all, Ginny is a tourist) this was bogged down by so many descriptions that I soon found myself skimming large passages.

Finally, the plot just seemed all over the place.  It was just so . . . nonsensical.  There didn't seem to be a common thread carrying the story line.  Things that you'd think should be big and important are glossed over. Boring and insignificant occurrences abound.  There are several cases where something will be mentioned, or Ginny will spend several pages preoccupied by something, and then this ends up being completely irrelevant to the plot.

As I said, this book was not terrible, but I had absolutely no investment in it.  If you're a big fan of MJ, or Europe, or eccentric aunts, then you very well may enjoy it, but it's not a book I would recommend.

2 stars.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Saving June

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’ 

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why. 

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California. 

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs. 

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.


So, I went into this expecting great things.  Glowing review after glowing review appeared on my Goodreads feed.  The premise was intriguing and fantastic.  People were even comparing Hannah Harrington to authors such as Melina Marchetta.

But despite that, I was a bit skeptical.  I'm always a bit skeptical when beginning books as praised as this one, like some part of me is mentally preparing for it not to be as amazing as everyone has claimed.  I don't like being let down.

Luckily, Saving June did anything but.

 I don't know exactly what to say about this book.  I don't know how to describe it.  I don't think I can even begin to communicate the rare and beautiful mix of music and love and anger and humor and loss that make up this brilliant little book.  So I'm just going to ask you to read it.  Maybe you'll be able to describe this better than I ever could.

Five solid stars.  Speechless had better come out soon, because the world needs more of this woman's genius.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forbidden

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.



I can't write a real review for this.  I don't think I ever kidded myself that I could.  The books that do this to me, the ones that end with me bent over the pages and sobbing, are never ones that I can review logically, critically.   I know this book isn't perfect.  It isn't even all that close to perfect.  But in the end, that doesn't matter; not to me.

When I rate a book, I don't rate it on its literary merit.  There are some books that might have beautiful writing and unique, ridiculously intricate plots that I will rate lower than a book with too many ellipses and awkward dashes and often stilted dialogue because I rate based upon my experience with the book.  And based upon my experience with this book, I give it a million stars.

A lot of people won't be able to handle this.  If the subject disturbs you, if you can't handle your books dark, don't read it.  The pitch never tried to fool you.  It tells you right from the start what you are going to find in here, and if you can't handle that, if that disgusts you, don't bother picking up the book.

Tabitha Suzuma handles this topic better than any author I've ever seen.  Her writing isn't flawless and her plotting isn't flawless but she wields emotion like a sword.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go sit in my room and cry.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Supernaturally

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees. 

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself. 

So much for normal.


Hmm. I have very mixed feelings about this book.  There were some things I really liked, and some things I really didn't.  I'm going to get the things I really didn't like out of the way.

Lend.  He, in this book, was a huge disappointment to me.  He's nice . . . he's sweet . . . he's beautiful . . . and he's utterly boring.  He doesn't even have the charming wit he carried about in Paranormalcy.  He was just this constant worrywart, and I actually found myself dreading the scenes he'd appear in.  The fact is, in real life? Sweet guys are the shit.  They're awesome.  They're great to be around. But in a book? Sweet and perfect and flawless doesn't cut it.  People don't pick up books so they can read about sweet and perfect and flawless.  They pick up books so they can find real people inside the pages, and I never found that with Lend.  This kind of worries me because I highly suspect that the two will end up together in the end.  I hope not, but I suppose I'll just have to see.

Arianna.  I just never felt her as a genuine character. It seemed, to me, like she was a very intentional filler.  Something for Evie to fret over when Arianna was in one of her moods, more ammunition to make Evie hate the faeries, a way to raise deep moral dilemmas.  It just felt so manufactured and intentional, especially when Arianna came and told Evie her story.  I never connected. I didn't find any real emotional depth with her and her struggles.

And finally, Evie. Believe me, it gives me a sad to put her on my list of dislikes.  And it wasn't that I disliked everything about her; she still had her awesome and adorable and kickass moments, and they were great.  But that Evie from the first book . . . I never really found her.  It was like all the excitement and wonder had been stamped out of her and all that was left was a constantly self-doubting girl who could do nothing but either fret over Lend, fret over whether or not she was a monster, or suspect/hate the faeries.  While the last two certainly merit fretting, I felt like I was caught in this constant loop of angst, reading the same dilemmas over and over again.  And while I still like the whole idea behind Evie using "bleep," because it's cute and there's an explanation, if I have to read "Oh, bleep" one more time I am going to go listen to a Lil Wayne song.

But! To the good!

Something I really liked was that I think Kiersten did a much better job in this one of carrying across a sense of seriousness and urgency and darkness when the plot demanded it.  This book was able to make me feel like there were real stakes (no pun intended) and real problems and a bunch of really fucked-up things that could happen in this world they live in.  I was really happy about that, especially with scenes like the spotting of the Dark Queen and Evie's discovery of who she is and the whole fiasco with Jack.  I did like, to a certain extent, that Paranormalcy was a lot cuter and lighter than most stuff on the market today, but I can't deny that I was glad to see Supernaturally up the ante, so to speak.

Besides that, the thing that I really loved was the moral gray area.  There were a lot of moral dilemmas in this story, and I loved that.  We have Reth, the amoral faerie, who has done tons of horrible things.  Yet, the truth of it is, he cares about Evie, and as he said to her, he has her best interests in mind.  Yes, the way he cares about her isn't how a human would care for another human, and yes, his idea of her best interests is rather different than hers.  But he is fighting his very nature to try and help her, and I love it.  I think he is one of the, if not the, most interesting characters in this series. I hope there'll be lots of him in Endlessly.

Then, we have the faeries in general.  The whole problem they pose.  They do terrible things, right?  They're a danger to the human race, aren't they?  Wouldn't it be safer for the world as a whole to send them into hell?  But then . . . is it entirely they're fault?  Aren't they just acting as they were made, doing as their situation dictates?  No, they are not good creatures and they're not doing good things, but can you really blame them?

It was really intriguing to read, and it genuinely made me think about the problem this poses.  Would it be better to send them in to hell and save the rest of the world from their antics, or is it worse to doom an entire race just because they do as they were made to do?

And finally, Jack.  I liked him, the little douchebag.  Not in the way I like love interests; I liked him because he was interesting, and because I felt for him.  Because he does a lot of awful things, but just like with Vivian, he was this broken, manic kid, fueled by revenge, nothing left to him but the idea of hurting the creatures that had tormented him his whole life.  I'm excited to see what Kiersten does with him.

So, yeah.  Some things in this were done excellently, some not so excellently.  However, this is a middle book, and I have faith in Kiersten.  Here's hoping Endlessly's interior will be as fabulous as its cover.

3 stars.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paranormalcy

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, 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 still. Normal. 

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. 

So much for normal.

So, funny story.  This is one of the first books that I actually caught the hype for.  It was many many months ago, long before I'd joined Goodreads or the book blogging world as a whole.  But I was a member of Inkpop, a writing site run by HarperCollins.  And they have these lovely little ads on the sidebar.  These lovely little ads that never go away.

I saw the Paranormalcy trailer on my sidebar and thought, Hmm. Cute trailer. Doesn't tell me much, but cute.  I was intrigued.

Then I saw the same trailer again. And again. And again. For months on end. Every time I refreshed the page. Anything that had once seemed cute was now a source of blind rage.  I scoffed at HarperCollins and their silly trends, shoving this ungracefully into the "YA PNR I will never read category."

But at some point--and I'm not even quite sure how this happened, to be honest--I stumbled across Kiersten's blog.  It was right as she was doing her first vlogs, and I watched every single one of them.  They were great. She was great.  She was hilarious and quirky and adorable and just plain fun.  I followed her blog.  I read her posts.  I read her Tweets.  And her sheer awesomeness quickly melted the icy hate that HarperCollins's over-advertising had left me.  She became one of my favorite authors before I had even read her books. Still is, and probably will be for a very long time.

So, despite my original bias, I really wanted to like this one.  I wanted it to be as kick-ass as its author.  And I'd say it delivered.

What really sets this book apart, even more than its original concept, is the fact that it's . . . adorable. Yes. You read that right. Adorable.  You're not used to the words "adorable" and "YA paranormal literature" being even distantly related.  Neither was I. Although, in fairness, despite what the title and blurb may imply, this is far more of an urban fantasy than a paranormal.  It was an urban fantasy full of vampires and werewolves and faeries and hags and . . . cuteness.

With a main character like Evie, it's so easy to be led down the typical path.  Badass.  Snarky.  Tough.  Gorgeous.  She fights paranormal creatures, right?  Of course she must be a snarky bitch!

But no.  Evie is anything but.  Evie is a sixteen-year-old girl who's never had a family, who's never been to school or had friends.  She's a girl who's fascinated by lockers and cars and high school dramas and is infatuated with anything pink.  She gets unreasonably excited about silly things.  She has a heart. She's lonely and insecure.  She's curious and eager and rash.  She's not perfect.  

I love her.

She made this book for me.  Yes, there were other things I liked--the plot wasn't like anything I'd read before, she captured the immorality of fae to the T, her characterization as a whole was pretty spot-on--but in the end, Evie and her sweet, chatty narrative were what made me fall in love with this. They were also what made this such a quick read.

The one downside about the chattiness of this narration is that I wasn't as sold on some of the more serious or emotional moments.  There were some scenes that I think should've tugged at the heartstrings or had me clutching the book, wide-eyed with fear, and that never happened.  While this was a very quick and fun read, it didn't hold a huge amount of emotional depth.

Honestly, though? That's okay.  I've been reading a lot of heavy books lately, and it's kind of refreshing to read something that doesn't always take itself seriously.  It was cute, funny, and entirely new, and I can't wait to begin Supernaturally.


4 stars.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Warm Bodies

R is a young man with an existential crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. His ability to connect with the outside world is limited to a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His choice to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies explores what happens when the cold heart of a zombie is tempted by the warmth of human love.



First, I want to say that I absolutely loved this.

Second, I want to say that if you do not like flowery writing and a lot of philosophical pondering in your zombie novels, you will not love this.

Fortunately for me, I love both of those.  I love beautiful writing more than I can possibly express, and I love books that can make me think, genuinely think.  I love that Marion was able to turn a zombie novel into something haunting and introspective and beautiful.

When I first read the summary, I had two problems with it.  One, that the main character's name was R.  I mean, I've stumbled upon some pretty bizarre names in my reading experience (dystopias, i c u) but this kinda took the cake.  However, once you start reading, the reason for this "name" is revealed. Quite simply?  He does not remember his name.  He knows it began with an R, and since one letter is better than being a nameless entity, that is what he calls himself.

The second problem was that I simply could not fathom the idea of a zombie main character, and more importantly, a zombie romance.  In my head, zombies were brainless, revolting creatures, creatures never seen as anything but monsters to run from.  The idea of being inside a zombie's head, and of this zombie having some sort of relationship with a human girl, was unfathomable.

Until I started reading.

The romance . . . was beautiful.  It was different and it was real and it was beautiful.  It was a girl with ideas and a zombie who wanted them to come true.  It was a girl fighting against her world and a boy fighting against his own nature.  It was two people with thoughts and flaws and emotions, with a relationship as complex as it was unbelievable, who genuinely cared about one another. Two people trying to change the world as much as they were trying to change themselves.

Don't go into this expecting a fast-paced, zombie thriller.  This book is small, yes, but leisurely in that way thoughtful books often are.  It's one of those books that'll keep you thinking for days after you turn the final page.

“There's no benchmark for how life's 'supposed' to happen. There is no ideal world for you to wait around for. The world is always just what it is now, it's up to you how you respond to it.” 


5 stars.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where we talk about what new books we got this week.  Now, I don't usually do this meme because I don't receive many--if any--books most weeks. However, since today is my birthday, I received quite a bit of books.


In my mailbox this week, we have:


The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Supernaturally by Kiersten White

And finally, from the lovely Gwen:

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Very excited! I've heard awesome things about all of these. Plus, it's just really exciting to have books, period.  I already have a copy of Jellicoe Road, so I may be putting this one up for a giveaway. We shall see.

What do you have in your mailbox this week? Feel free to link to your posts in the comments.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Timeless

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.
 
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.


This book had the misfortune of being my first book after The Fault in Our Stars.

I don't believe my overall opinion of this book would've been any different than it is now had I not read The Fault in Our Stars prior to reading this.  I still would've loved and been bothered by the same things.  But there wouldn't have been such a level of disappointment, because all I could think when I started was This is not The Fault in Our Stars. 


I got over this eventually.  Focused on this book and just this book.

It's not a bad book, really.  The time travel concept is very interesting (although, since I am a huge huge fan of time travel, I am a bit biased).  Michele did not follow the common trend of bitchy female MCs who constantly take out their angst on others.  Family played a huge role in this.  The song lyrics were lovely, but the songs themselves were even lovelier--I got the CD along with the book, and both Bring the Color Back and Chasing Time are absolutely gorgeous.  And, most importantly: the setting was freaking awesome.  The descriptions of New York City in the early 1900s made me ridiculously happy.  I loved seeing it in all the different eras, and as far as I know, Monir did a very good job of being historically accurate.

I saw all it had going for it, and despite the iffy start (which was also tainted by the aforementioned disappointment) I was starting to really like Timeless.

And then the insta-love.

Now, hear me out.  Michele and Phillip are not the worst star-crossed lovers you will find in YA fiction, not by a long shot.  They are both decent people, for one; their relationship does not involve stalking/abuse, for another; and I think the whole song-writer/composer combination works well.  But despite that, there was very little chemistry. Certainly not enough chemistry to justify them falling desperately in love with each other after talking to each other for less than a few hours.  Certainly not enough to make Michele swear she'll never fall for another boy for the rest of her life if she can't have Phillip after knowing him for days.  I'm sorry, but that's just not how it works.  They may be infatuated with one another. They may have even begun to really like each other. But love is not something that can just appear, something that can just magically form between two people who scarcely know each other.  Love is when you know another person as well as yourself, not when you've seen a beautiful boy in your dreams for years so the instant you meet him you decide it is true love.

Also, the characters didn't do anything for me.  I think a big part of this was the dialogue; it was cheesy, shallow, and unrealistic.  None of the characters came off the pages.  They were all very flat and distant.  Despite a very sad event that happens early on in the book and causes much grieving for the rest of it, I never once felt the slightest bit upset.  There was simply no connection.

The plot was pretty simplistic; there was no real climax or sense of urgency because there was no villain or anything of the sort.  It was simply Michele trying to rescue her "beloved."  Still a quick read, though--it's only 280-something pages.

I'm giving this three stars because of the things I liked, mentioned above (primarily the NYC settings).  However, I would only recommend this to someone who can stomach the insta-love and just try and appreciate the awesomeness of New York City's golden age.

Oh, and buy the CD.  You won't regret it.

3 stars.




Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

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

When one reads as often as I do, it is inevitable that they will come upon a book such as this, one that they cannot simply say "I loved it!" to and dismiss it as just another loved book because it is worth so, so much more than that and you can never truly explain that.

So I will tell you the story of me as I read.

At first, I read in my bed.  I was excited--because, after all, was this not The Fault in Our Stars? The book I had wanted for months on end, the first book solely by John Green in three years? But I was nervous, too--so nervous that it would not live up to the brilliant expectations I held, that it would be great but wouldn't quite meet what I expected of it, what I needed this to be.  At this point, I was unsure whether or not I wished to read a bit tonight and finish tomorrow.

Around 11-something, I took a brief break to check the computer.  I don't recall exactly when I decided that I would stay up however late it took to finish this, but the important part is that I did.  I picked up the book, trundled downstairs, curled beneath the couch's covers, and I read.

I laughed.  I laughed a lot.  For the first half or so, that was the only real visible reaction, a laugh, a high-pitched, grating sort of giggle that could've come from a five-year-old. Whether the sound was due to my lack of sleep or I simply have an incredibly annoying laugh, I cannot say.

And then it happened.  It.  And I was sobbing, but there were no tears, just these dry, hiccuping sobs, as obnoxiously high-pitched as my laughs, but so much more constant.  Every time I thought I had recovered, at least temporarily, I would read something, and they would come again.  And if anyone besides my dog had been in my company, I fear they would've been concerned for my sanity.

At one point, and I can't quite say when, they became wet sobs, until the pillows were soaked and the pages spotted.  Like at first some part of me had held back, reluctant to leave a blemish on any part of this book, but now my tear ducts just didn't give a fuck anymore.

And sometimes I laughed.  Sometimes I laughed that high, grating laugh, and I was laughing and sobbing and reading and pressing my eyes shut every few pages because I needed it, because I needed to remind myself that the world would not end when this book did.

I did not leave the couch until I closed the final page.

Now . . . I look somewhat dead. Expressionless.  I'm a rather frightening picture at the moment, with my huge puff of hair, pink, creased face, stony eyes, mouth that refuses to move, cheeks still not entirely dry.  I think I may still be like this in the morning after a three hour sleep, and no one will understand, and no one will until they have stayed up till three in the morning reading The Fault in Our Stars.

I have never before cried over a book as much as I did tonight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cold Kiss

It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.
Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.
But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.
Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.
But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.

I liked this book a lot more than I thought I  would, but was still very let down by a few aspects of it.

The writing was lovely.  I'll say that right off the bat, because that was one of the things I really, really liked. You all know I'm a big fan of lovely writing.  It was lyrical and powerful but never strayed into over-written.  It drove the whole story and made it so much easier to connect to Wren and all the crazy things she was feeling.

But Wren herself I was a little iffy on.  Sometimes I loved her, sometimes I wanted to slap some sense into her.  I loved that Garvey didn't try and paint her as the perfect heroine,  how Wren acknowledged that she was selfish and reckless and just generally terrible at making decisions.  I loved that I could feel everything she was going through, all the pain and confusion and regret and loss all bundled into one small, powerful girl.  I loved the way the power was just sort of a part of her, and the way Aunt Mari had explained it; like electricity, and they simply knew how to tap into it.  

I didn't love how she swooned for the hot new guy as soon as he came on the scene, despite the fact that her dead boyfriend was still in her neighbor's garage.  I didn't love how she strung Gabriel along, using him but then freaking out at him for trying to help.  I didn't love how she asked the stereotypical heroine question about three times--"Why do you like me?"

You may notice that all my dislikes of her revolve around Gabriel. That's because my main problem with the book revolves around Gabriel.

I think this book could've been really, truly beautiful if he did not exist.  If it was not about sending Danny to heaven because a hot boi came along, but simply about Wren and Danny and their past and their present, about Wren coping with the loss of his death and the knowledge that he never really came back, about her reconnecting with her friends and her family and her life.  So, yeah, maybe the little teen fangirls thirsty for fresh blood (no pun intended) would've been disappointed by the lack of a supernatural hot guy.  But the genuine book lovers? The people who can appreciate a good story? No. Not at all. Not the slightest bit.  This book still had some depth to it, but not nearly the amount it could have had if Gabriel simply did not exist.

It's not that I hated Gabriel.  He was better than a lot of PNR guys that girls fantasize about.  But he was also the stereotypical hot, brooding, falls-for-the-girl-the-instant-he-sees-her even though she's "nothing special" love interest that we see far too often these days. He had his moments, but the two of them moved far, far too quickly, and I never felt their chemistry like I felt Wren and Danny's.

The flashbacks with Wren and Danny were lovely.  By the time the book is coming to a close, the reader has a very strong feel for Wren and Danny's relationship, and it was adorable and sweet and real.  I genuinely felt that she loved him and he loved her and her without him was like a puzzle missing a crucial piece.  The only thing I did not like was a quote at the very beginning of the book, where Wren talks about how her relationship with him became her entire life, and then how "that's the kind of love they write movies about."  This was not actually true--she didn't just shun her friends and family while she and Danny were in a relationship, we learn later.  But that is what the prologue said, and it really bothered me. Because no, that is not the kind of love they write movies about. That is not love at all. When one boy becomes more important to you than the family and friends you've known for your entire life, that is obsession, and should not be dressed up as anything else.

The only other thing that bothered me in this book was that the whole dad thing was never wrapped up.  I seriously respect Garvey for writing a stand-alone PNR, because these days that's almost unheard of. Most of 'em like to milk the cash cow for all its worth.  However, there wasn't any explanation as far as Wren's dad was concerned.  It's one thing to have an open ending and another to explain nothing whatsoever.

I debated between 3 and 4 stars for this one.  Settled with 3, but it's more of a 3.5.  It's a good read with good writing, just could've been a lot more powerful.

3 stars.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (7)

Teaser Tuesday, a meme hosted by Should Be Reading is really easy and fun to participate in. All you have to do is:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser
 Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

In fifteen minutes we managed to break every old piece of dishware down there, until the floor was a jagged carpet of smashed pottery.  When there was nothing left to throw, I sank to my knees and started to cry, the kind of huge, gulping, embarrassing sobs that make you blotch and shaky.  Mom settled down beside me, pulling me into her body until  my face was pressed against her shoulder, and I had to wonder if she'd thrown things when Dad left, if she'd felt this alone and helpless.


I have very mixed feelings about this one so far.  The writing is lovely, and I think the premise is really, really fascinating, but I don't like the way it seems to be going with the hot new guy.  I think this could be a lot more powerful if he did not exist.

What're you reading this Tuesday? Feel free to link in the comments.

The Fault in Our Stars

If you follow me on pretty much any other site you have already seen my posts; you already know just how excited I am about this.  I am sorry if you follow me on all these sites, and it bores you.  I'm sorry, but I am going to post about it anyway, because this is a book blog and there is no way in hell that I wouldn't post about my favorite author.

Today, January 10, 2012, is the release date of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  This is a date I've been waiting for for the past . . . oh . . . seven months? More?  I don't even know.  I have been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

And now it's here.

For those of you who don't know, every single copy of the first printing is signed.  John Green individually signed every single one of the 150,000 books in the first printing plus 10,000 extras in case some were damaged.  He spent six hours a day for over a month bent over a stack of papers.  He got nerve damage in his hand and he still didn't stop.  I have never seen a better example of dedication.  Why did he do it? He did it as a thank you.  The inpour of preorders from nerdfighters across the globe was practically a phenomenon.  It happened before anyone ever saw the pitch, or the cover.  When all we knew was that it was a book, and it was John's.  Penguin looked at the thousands and thousands and thousands of fans and thought, Hmm.  I guess they really, really want it to come out, don't they?


Let's move the publishing date up three months. 


And this was John's way of saying thank you. This was his gift to his readers, this undeniable link.  Those hours spent signing and those hours we spent watching him, those hours we will spend bent over the pages of his book.  It's a promise there, between the writer and the reader.  With all the drama in this past week, so many people have forgotten that we work in partnership. We cannot exist without the other.  Authors need readers, and John Green has so much more than readers. He has a community hundreds of thousands strong that loves his writing and his ideas and just . . . him.  Because he is a brilliant author. Because he is an amazing person.

If you haven't preordered TFiOS . . . go out and buy it. Go now, before all the signatures are gone. Go and get a book, one of 160,000 signed by John Green himself so that every last reader could get at least a little piece of that writer-reader relationship to keep all for themselves.

Monday, January 9, 2012

All These Things I've Done

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, 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. It consists of 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 her ex is accidently 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 mafia family.
Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I've Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.
This is the first book I've given up on in a long time.
And some might think it strange. Because, looking at it objectively . . . is it better than Twilight? Is it better than Evermore? Is it better than Hush, Hush?
I think I'd have to say yes to all of those.  But the difference is, however terrible those books may be, the one thing they did do is keep me interested.  They kept me invested enough in the story that I wanted to know how it all turned out.  And that just did not happen with All These Things I've Done.
There are a few main reasons why I gave this up.
1. The writing.  It wasn't horrid writing, and there were a few moments when it shone, but the style really did not work for me.  From what I've gathered, it's Anya writing this whole account. I've read several books that worked that angle wonderfully. This did not.  The writing was awkward and distant, and the random interjections only annoyed me.  Also, little dialogue gems such as this didn't really help my opinion of this:
"His name's Goodwin but he goes by Win.  Isn't that OMG?"
Uhhh, yeah.
2. The characters. I didn't hate the main character, Anya. I really didn't. There were a few moments where I even liked her.  But most of the time, I just felt so removed from everything that was happening, and couldn't bring myself to care.  Also, certain characters (coughScarletandNattycough) annoyed the hell out of me.  They were flat, simple, and irritating, which is all the worse because I'm pretty certain we're supposed to love them. Win, the love interest, was . . . okay. He didn't upset me, but there was just no spark.  I felt no chemistry between him and Anya and couldn't understand why he was interested in her.  She hardly encouraged him.
3. The strong Christian presence.  This part is just my bias.  I tend to dislike books that have a strong religious presence, regardless of what the religion is.  Some Christians may absolutely love this aspect of the book. It just really didn't work for me.
4. Related to the last one: Anya being the "good Christian girl."  Whenever she would think bad thoughts, it would be all No, no, I can't think these things, because I am a good Christian girl.  Whenever the possibility of sex was presented to her it would be all No, no, I would never have sex, because I am a good Christian girl.  Now don't get me wrong--I have no problem with those who choose not to think "bad thoughts" about others, or who choose to abstain until marriage.  That's there prerogative.  What upset me was that these were painted as bad things, like being pure-minded and abstaining made you a saint and daring to think bad thoughts about someone who almost date-raped you or, gasp, having sex before marriage made you a terrible person.
This is not a horrible book.  This is really one of those cases where I just have to say that it was not for me.  Some of you may love it, or at least like it a lot more than  I did.  (Plus, you might just want that gorgeous cover. SO PRETTY.  And did I mention that the hard cover is patterned to look like chocolate?)  But personally, I could not make myself finish this.  
2 stars.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Legend

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias' death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.


This is one of my new favorite dystopians.

The fact is, this isn't one of those books that struck some deep chord inside of me.  It isn't a book that changed my outlook on life, and it isn't a book that talks about some pressing issue in society today.  What is it, then?  It's an incredibly entertaining book with wonderfully developed characters, smooth writing, and action that never stops.  It's a book that will grab you from the start and you won't realize it's over till you hit the final page.

My favorite part of Legend was probably the characters.  Some side characters were rather one dimensional, like the Commander, or Chian.  But then you had those really wonderful side characters; you had Tess, young and sweet and capable and utterly devoted to Day.  You have Metias, who I can't really say much about without giving away the book.  You have Thomas, who can be so terrible at times, who follows orders without thought, but who still cares about June, who probably thinks he's doing right.

And then there's the main characters, Day and June.  I have a love-hate relationship with dual POV.  When it's done right, it can be excellent. Sometimes it's exactly what a book needs.  But when it's done wrong, it ruins the book for me.  Maybe the author switches POVs at the most awkward and unnecessary of times; maybe the two narrators sound completely identical (this is particularly painful if it is a boy and a girl).  In any case, it's not fun to read through.

Marie Lu did it right.

Day and June were two entirely different people.  They were both intelligent, observant, agile, attractive.  In many ways, they were very similar people.  But their minds, their voices, were entirely different, and I loved that. Also, get this--Day . . . sounds like . . . a boy.  An honest-to-G-d boy.  And June, the supposed genius? Sounds like a genius.  Not in an obnoxious, I-will-shove-your-genius-face-into-these-pages kind of genius, but simply someone far more intelligent and observant than average.

They're both talented to the point that some may label them Mary Sue/Gary Stu.  But to me, they never came off that way.  I think there are three main reasons.  One: they had emotions.  They had emotions, ones that leapt off the page.  When a character we know for only one chapter died, I almost cried.  Whatever June and Day were going through, I felt it, as if I were the one who had lost a loved one.  Two: they had families.  They had family members, existing family members, that they cared about, that they would do anything for, that they placed above everything else.  In the YA world, where most families are dead or completely inconsequential, the huge role their families played in this not only set Legend apart but made the characters far more sympathetic.  And three: Their dynamic.  Quite simply, their dynamic was brilliant.  June and Day had incredible chemistry.  I am not just talking about the romantic element, or even just with each other.  The way they acted and reacted with this whole set of characters was just so realistic and genuine that I wanted to give Marie Lu a big high five. A really, really big high five.

The writing did exactly what it needed to: it let you focus on the characters and the plot.  There wasn't anything exceptional about the writing, but there didn't need to be; it moved the plot along and didn't distract the reader.  In an action-filled dystopian novel like this, simple writing is often the best choice.

And then there's the plot.  It's not one of those insanely unique and complicated plots that you just sit there gaping over and wondering how in the world the author ever concocted it.  But it was gripping and fascinating and extremely entertaining, and that's all I really ask of any plot.

I should be deducting a star, because there is little-to-no world-building.  We get almost no explanation about how the world came to be this way.  We aren't given a very clear idea of what the Republic and Colonies even look like (hoping there'll be a map in the next one).  But honestly? I'm giving this five stars. Some people rarely give five stars because they use that rating to mean something was flawless. I don't.  I have almost never found a book without flaw.  I give a book five stars when it was so fantastic that I can't give it anything lower. That was Legend for me.

Here's hoping the next one comes out soon! There wasn't a cliffhanger, thank G-d, but I still can't wait for the next book in this series.Thank you for being brilliant, Marie Lu.

5 stars.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Across the Universe

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.


I have no frexing idea what to rate this, so I simply won't rate it anything.

Whenever I decide on a low rating, I remember that
the plot was incredibly unique
the science was realistic, but not so in-depth as to lose those who aren't into that
the characters, however long they took to be developed, were people, real people, with thoughts and flaws and confusions and ideas
the suspense, once it came, was incredible
sometimes, the writing was beautiful, or powerful, and I would read it over several times
the way she blended dystopian ideas with science fiction was incredibly different and incredibly interesting
the moral questions it raised still haunt me
this book had many secrets up its sleeve

But then when I decide to give it a million stars, I remember that
the killer was made obvious in the first 100 pages
until he actually grew some balls (or shall I say chutz) Elder sounded like a whiny, lusty child
sometimes the writing was poor, or repetitive, or jumbled
there were an uncomfortable amount of typos
the book did not grip me until several hundred pages in
some of the made up words were used in so many contexts that I had no frexing idea what they meant
one huge, huge, HUGE plot twist had basically no foreshadowing whatsoever and related to that
THE ENDING WAS. WAS JUST. WHAT THE FREX WAS THAT? WHAT THE FREX KIND OF ENDING WAS THAT? I JUST. I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

So uh yeah.  No rating.  Would I recommend it? Yes, I would.  Will I be reading A Million Suns? Hell yes.  Will I be terrified?

Pretty much.