Monday, 31 January 2011

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White


Paranormalcy 
by Kiersten White

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.

Kick ass protagonist? Check.
Adorable fictional boy I wish were real? Check.
Original and totally awesome plot? Check.
Liked the writing? Check.
Made me laugh? Made me cry? Check, check.
Gorgeous cover? Definite check.

So basically the book ticked pretty much all of the boxes on the Lanna Loves This Book checklist. Well, the pretty cover is just an added bonus...

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not, because some bloggers I often find myself agreeing with weren’t too fond of it but then so many other people seemed to love it. I’m glad it lived up to all of the positive hype it had.

Sometimes, I was a little annoyed with Evie and her girly-girlness but then I realised that those little thing’s that irritated me gave her personality and set her apart from a lot of other female protagonists. I mean really, pink knives and a pink taser (which she calls “Tasey”) - I mentally face-palmed at her clich√© girly obsession with pink but by the end I thought it was a cute little quirk of hers.

She managed to be kick ass while still being realistic; she didn’t always save the day, she wasn’t always ridiculously brave… but she had her shining moments and I think I kind of prefer that to the female characters who are unrealistic and made to be the hero all the time (and I definitely prefer it to the weak little damsels in distress).

And the boys of the story… well. Insert swoon here. And I know I say boys, plural - and one of them is actually really creepy but I still liked him he was like… awful. And sexy. Yes. Enough about that.

The plot was really unique and different to any other paranormal romances I’ve read… I mean sure, it did have some common elements, but the world and the setting and the portrayal of all the paranormal creatures was something different and made it all feel brand new.

I loved the minor characters too. Lish especially and I liked how there were grey areas, the characters weren’t just bad or good and the way Kiersten White wrote them even managed to make me feel sympathetic towards the bad guys.

I think that’s enough fangirling for one review. Loved the book, it made me laugh and cry and left me dying to read the sequel.

Later.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

In My Mailbox (54)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

Julie:

Look, it's a vlog, it's a vlog! I know it's been ages, but my theory is that since I was using higher quality on my new camera, youtube needed more time to upload the better quality. But I decided to use my old camera this week and then it only took 4 hours which is INFINITELY more manageable than 32 hours...yeah.

I talk REALLY fast, so I apologize. But old camera's memory only holds like 6 minutes of video and I hate having to combine videos and bleh.


Bought:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Haunted by Joy Preble
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Drought by Pam Bachorz
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

For Review:
The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Lanna:


Bought:

Mortal Kiss by Alice Moss
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Angel by L. A. Weatherly
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash 
Sentimental Education and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

And this is sort of a book but not: Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith

Later.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

XVI by Julia Karr

XVI
Julia Karr
Puffin/Speak
[January 6, 2011]

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex.
Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

XVI was a slower paced but still exciting read that I loved.

I adored Nina, totally and completely. She was just a fantastic character, in my opinion. Her grandparents were also really awesome characters. I loved how they weren't normal grandparents at all. They were a ton of fun. ...I was about to go into how I loved her friends but I think the I should really just say I loved all the characters. They made this book.

I loved the mystery in the book. It wasn't complex, but the very real danger that came with it. It wasn't just "Yeah, someone killed my mom and they could be after me too", there were a lot of times where I really was scared for the characters.

I do wish there was more back story though. How did the world get this? And can we know more about Nina's parents? I think the parts where Nina was learning about her parents were one of my favorites.

But really, I just loved this book. I still have a lot of questions but I'm hoping for a second book to answer them!

--Julie

Friday, 28 January 2011

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Girl, Stolen
April Henry
Henry Holt and Co.
[September 28, 2010]


Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen—with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?

This was a good story, fascinating premise, but it was just so...short.

A lot happens in this book. It's full of action and my heart pounded at certain scenes or I'd gasp or whatnot. But the book isn't that long, so it was very BAM BAM BAM lalalaBAM. It just...I dunno. I didn't expect it.

I did love switching back and forth between Cheyenne and Griffin, reading how each of them saw things. Getting their different perspectives on certain events was really cool. They were both really well developed characters, though I wouldn't mind getting to know them more.

This book was also really good at drawing me in. Every chapter ended in just the right spot that I HAD to keep going and could only put the book down if absolutely necessary.

This was just a quick, fast-paced, addicting read. More action than I wanted and no romance, but not a bad read at all. I think I would've loved it more if it was a little longer though.

--Julie

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Discussion: Book Quotes

Today I want to talk about quotes. Something all of my favourite books have in common is that they all have quotes I love, quotes that stick with me for years after I've read the books.

Finding a quote I love in a book is one of my favourite parts of reading -- when, in just one sentence or paragraph, an author manages to string some words together in a way that really moves me or that I connect with... those moments are awesome.

Sometimes quotes make me read a book. I am shamefully addicted to tumblr and quotes are always popping up on my tumblr dashboard and I've ended up buying so many books because of that -- because if an author manages to write something that awesome, I want to see if the rest of the book lives up to the awesomeness of the quote.

(I also try to pimp out my favourite books that way too: I post quotes on my tumblr and submit them to the quote-book tumblr in the hopes that maybe someone will be like me, driven to read the book because they like the quote. I think it's likely, because all of the quotes I have submitted to quote-book get 600-2000 likes/reblogs.)

Now, seeing as this post is about quotes, I'm going to post some of my favourites (I'll just choose one quote from each book, because all of my favourite books are ridiculously quotable):

"It's funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that's why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It's not the pain they're getting over, it's the love."Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

"My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy." The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

"At the end of the day it's about how much you can bear, how much you can endure. Being together, we harm nobody; being apart, we exstinguish ourselves."Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

"So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

"Be careful what you show the world. You never know when the wolf is watching." Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

"Why am I the way I am? What a weird question. Why is anyone the way they are? Nature or nurture? A bit of both? Maybe for some people it’s neither. Maybe they were supposed to turn out a certain way, but then something terrible happened. And maybe nothing was ever the same again. Maybe." Entangled by Cat Clarke

"What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person." Paper Towns by John Green

"Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful." Looking for Alaska by John Green

"She fell, she hurt, she felt. She lived. And for all the tumble of her experiences, she still had hope. Maybe this next time would do the trick. Or maybe not. But unless you stepped into the game, you would never know."This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Discussion questions:

1. Has a quote ever made you read a book/want to read a book?
2. What are some of your favourite quotes from books?

Later.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison

The Kiss 
by Kathryn Harrison


Summary: We meet at airports. We meet in cities where we've never been before. We meet where no one will recognize us. 

A "man of God" is how someone described my father to me. I don 't remember who. Not my mother. I'm young enough that I take the words to mean he has magical properties and that he is good, better than other people.

With his hand under my chin, my father draws my face toward his own. He touches his lips to mine. I stiffen.
I am frightened by the kiss. I know it wrong, and its wrongness is what lets me know, too, that it is a secret.
This book was really -- well, disturbing to read, I guess that's the best way to put it. It wasn’t even so much about the subject matter (incest), but the way it happened. Her father was so manipulative and the majority of the relationships in the characters life were so unhealthy… reading about it was just strange, unsettling.

I guess it’s probably because she wasn’t a character. The people in the book weren’t just characters.

I don’t read memoirs often, preferring to stick with the land of fiction, but I am glad I read this one.

She had an interesting life, that’s for sure. Her life wasn’t easy and it wasn’t happy and it was most definitely screwed up right from the start… but reading about it, reading her reflection of everything that happened to her was weirdly fascinating. Reading it, it was like reading her trying to make sense of her life instead of her telling a story and we get to take that journey with her.

I think the writing was what kept me hooked. I really liked the way it was written (not just the way she strings words together, but the way it would jump from her childhood to her teens to when she was an adult and back again -- scattered memories, not always following a linear path but still easy enough to follow).

I’m not sure if I’d recommend the book or not, it’s kind of a judgement call you’ll have to make on your own (based on whether you can handle the incest factor and if you like memoirs and stuff like that). I’m reluctant to say it was a “good” book, because of what it’s about and the whole disturbed feeling it left me with but it definitely wasn't a bad book.

Later.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin


Low Red Moon
by Ivy Devlin

UK release date: February 7th 2011

Summary: The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can't, and there's nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she's ever experienced. 

When Ben reveals he's a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she's not the only one who can't remember the night her parents died.

I really liked this book. It was fun and fast paced and managed to not depress me, despite the fact it has quite a lot of sad themes in it (which is definitely a good thing).

Really, I can’t think of a whole lot to say about the book. I liked all of it, there wasn’t really anything that particularly annoyed me -- there just wasn’t much that I absolutely loved either, but there were a couple of things.

I loved the characters, especially Ben (and his uncle, although he wasn't in it much) and I adored the fact that the way the book was written, it made the forest feel more like a character than a setting - there was this life to it that was really great.

I think that was probably my favourite part of the book: the thing with the woods (and the odd little life Avery and her parents had there). The rest of it has been done before; the whole Red Riding Hood inspiration, the wolves, the romance... we’ve seen it all before--although it was done well here--but the forest thing was unique, something I haven’t read before in a book that I can remember.

One of the main things in the book--the romance between Avery and Ben--could’ve made me hate the book because it’s one of those instant connection, love-before-they-even-know-each-others-basic-likes-and-dislikes, type situations and that normally irritates me beyond belief. Their relationship didn’t really have much development, but for some reason it felt totally natural in this book. I do wish there was a bit more explanation about why they’re connected to each other though (or maybe more scenes where they actually got to know each other a bit more).

Actually, there were a couple of things I wish were explained more in the book but if there’s going to be a sequel I guess all of the loose ends can’t be neatly tied up... I don't know if there is going to be a sequel? The way it ends, it could work as a standalone novel but it definitely left things open for a sequel. I hope there will be.

I wish I could write a better review for the book, because I honestly did like it a lot, it’s just one of those books that I don’t have much to say about, I just liked it and I can’t pin point the exact reasons why and I’m not sure what it was about it that stopped me from loving the book.

If I had to rate it, I’d give it maybe 3.5 stars out of 5 (if I had reviewed right after reading it, it would’ve gotten 4 but I read another book right after it and it made me realise that it didn’t really stand out much, it wasn’t one of those books that got under my skin and stuck with me, I’ll probably forget all about it till the sequel is out, if there's a sequel at all).

Has to be mentioned: the cover (and I’m talking about the UK paperback version here) is absolutely gorgeous… it doesn’t look that special online, but in person, it’s all shiny and awesome and the inside is designed beautifully too with the red moons and things.

Later.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Bloggiesta Summary

It's over so soon!

I had a (very) late start, but also had some great conversations that inspired me!

So, what did I get done?

1. I got 2 discussion posts done! One posted on Friday, the other will go up...at some point.
2. I responded to blogg-y emails. There was only 2, but I still had to respond. I kinda put off some less happy blogging emails.
3. I updated our review policy! Or at least...my part of it. It wasn't much, but hopefully it'll help.
4. Updated my DAC 2011 post.
5. Added the blog to the book blog search engine.
6. Updated the review policy again! Yeah, don't ask.
7. Wrote three reviews. Have two left from books I finished but...eh.
8. Read 2 books.
9. Formatted/Fixed up 3 way-in-the-future posts. 
10. Set up the 2012 debuts shelf on goodreads. 2012...God that's the year I graduate. 

Wanted to get a lot more done, but I do have most of this week off (Oh how I love midterm week...) and I've set up a schedule to get this done. (Today I'm scheduled to tackle the last 2 reviews and organize bookshelves and email reviews.)

--Julie

Blog Tour: Jillian Larkin's Top 10 Books from the 1920s (Part 1)

Today, we're excited to welcome Jillian Larkin to the blog! I LOVED Vixen (review here) so I'm super happy we were asked to join the blog tour!

Without further ado, here's the post!

Jillian Larkin’s Top 10 Favorite Books from the 1920s, Part 1



1) So Big by Edna Ferber


Selina Peake De Jong, the protagonist of this wonderful novel, is one of my favorite characters of all time.  She’s a wonderful teacher and when her husband dies, she goes out to work on the farm to give her son, Dirk, a real future.  She appreciates art and beauty and encourages her son to follow his dreams rather than focus solely on making money.  As a bonus, in the 1932 film version of the novel, former flapper extraordinaire Barbara Stanwyck plays Selina!


2) Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf


Here’s a warning: Many of you budding English majors out there will be assigned to read this book any time the term “stream-of-consciousness” comes up in class.  And you might hate it.  But I can’t help but feel I’m witnessing something beautiful and heartbreaking each time I open my dog-eared copy and by the third paragraph, with “What a lark! What a plunge,” I’m falling into the fascinating Clarissa Dalloway’s past friendships and romances.  


3) Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton


I only recently found out Edith Wharton wrote her own satirical take on the 1920s.  So of course I picked up a copy right away and tore through it.  I’m so in awe of Wharton’s writing style.  In this novel, she makes many sharp observations about the differences between youth and adulthood, and how little any of us truly knows ourselves.  She manages the very difficult task of ridiculing her characters at every turn, yet still making them compelling and relatable, if not exactly likable.  


4) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh


Okay, this was technically published in 1930.  But it is, in my opinion, an absolutely hilarious commentary on the smart set of the Jazz Age.  If you absolutely have to be attached to the characters to get through a book, this may not be the novel for you.  The characters have depth that is more akin to puddles than oceans.  But it is so funny.  It makes light of near-death experiences, war, marriage, and just about every other serious issue.


5) The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Upon my fifth or sixth reading of The Great Gatsby, I realized that it might be a good idea to take a look at the other books Fitzgerald had written.  And I am so glad I did.  In ways, it’s a similar novel to Gatsby.  It deals with the triumphs, tragedies, and overall self-involvement of the privileged.  But it gets into the meat of a marriage with the relationship between Anthony and Gloria—a marriage not unlike Scott’s to Zelda Fitzgerald.  This book is also where my Gloria got her name.


Hope you enjoyed hearing about some of my favorite 1920s classics.  Stop by Daisy Book Chain Reviews (http://daisychainbookreviews.blogspot.com/) tomorrow to see Part 2 of the list! 

Want to learn more about Vixen, see the trailer and play games? Go to Vixen's website!

Want to keep following the tour?

Thursday: Teen Reads

Thanks so much for stopping by Jillian!

--Julie

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

The False Princess
Eilis O'Neal
Egmont USA
[January 25, 2011]

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

I totally loved this book. 
Really good fantasy isn't common in YA, so this was already refreshing. Then you add in the whole royal drama that I love in historical fiction, and it's just this perfect combination for a good novel.

Sinda was very much a teenage girl, despite all the world differences. She made mistakes and acted before she should've. But she was still a really good, independent character. Sinda was determined and intelligent, which I definitely respect. I really liked Kiernan, too. He wasn't the totally perfect crush or anything. He kind of reminded me of Gordo from Lizzie McGuire (Oh that adorkable Gordo) in his relationship with Sinda.

The world building was really good. I would've loved to have a map or just some more things explained, but there was always enough that I could picture exactly where everything was.

This was definitely a big mystery, which was great. There were a lot of plot twists I didn't see coming and it's always nice to have that surprise. And the romance wasn't overpowering or anything, another bonus.

I think my only fault is that the beginning was very sudden. I would've liked more building up to when Sinda finds out she's not the real princess.

But this was just a really good story and I highly recommend it to fantasy, mystery, historical, and romance lovers!

--Julie

Saturday, 22 January 2011

In My Mailbox (53)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

Julie:

Exciting week this week! I finally got finished copies of some books I loved, plus a few short, good reads from Barnes and Noble and one review book that sounds really good!

Bought:
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Beautiful Between by Alyssa Sheinmel
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Bloody Valentine by Melissa de la Cruz

For Review:
Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Lanna:


Just got two this week... I think. o.O





For review:


Withering Tights by Louise Rennison


Bought:


To the Edge by Cindy Gerard 


I was in the mood to read a romance story about a bodyguard, so I just searched through Amazon and this one looked pretty good. Plus, it allows me to give adult novels another chance.


Later.

Discussion: The Special Books

We all have those books.

The books that make us think. The books that changed our lives, or less dramatically our reading habits. The books that are special to us. 
Recently, I began thinking how I could separate my "special" books from my favorites and my not so favorites and everything else. Because they're *that* important to me. I can even think of why they're so important without trying.

My special books?

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
This trilogy was my introduction to The Divine Miss Bray. Her wit and sarcasm immediately hooked me in, and her amazing plot twists and dramatic writing made me addicted. I became a follower of her blog and her twitter. I found the Gemma Doyle IMDb board because at the time it was still up to be a movie and I started talking to the SheBAMS. Libba Bray became one of my first auto-buy authors (right after Meg Cabot, but none of her books are THAT special to me. She just wins at life.).

But more importantly, this book was my introduction to historical fiction and my fascination with history. Before reading this book, I refused to touch historical fiction. I'd started to pick this book up dozens of times in the store before buying, it's cover and magical elements drawing me in, but I didn't want to read it because it was historical fiction. 

Can you imagine a world where I didn't read historical fiction? Where I didn't love history enough to research it for fun? Where I wasn't a source of information for my friends? It's not a world I can, or want to, think about but without this series, it might've been.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This epic love story is one paralleled in thousands and millions of books. I have this theory that all romances can be broken down to a Romeo and Juliet kind of love or a Pride and Prejudice kind of love. But Romeo and Juliet does not make this list because OMG THOSE TWO PISSED ME OFF. 

But anyway. Pride and Prejudice introduced me to the world of Jane Austen. I have yet to love another of her books the way I love Pride and Prejudice, but I don't regret reading them. Because it also meant that I actually wanted to read other classics. Classics had always scared me as a Little Julie, even the first time I read this book I only made it 50 pages before giving up. But then Little Julie (and by Little I mean...12 year old...which was 4 years ago...) made it through. And fell in love.

Pride and Prejudice was also the first book I ever reread (except Harry Potter, but I only reread those to prepare for the next book or that book's movie). I always hated rereading things, figuring that it would be stupid to read a book I'd already read. I knew what happened so surely the thrill would be gone, that thrill of finding something new on every page. But Little Julie was, again, wrong. I had just been rereading the wrong books. When you reread the right books, the magic and the thrill is still there on every page, and a lot of the time you'll find something new you missed the first or second or third time.

And it's the first books I needed to have two copies of. Yeah, that's right. My first copy, a little mass market paperback I bought because it was pretty, is almost too worn to read. It won't make it much longer. So I got a pretty, sturdy hardcover that looks like it could eat my little paperback. They would BOTH need to be on the special shelf.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Why the hell do I have ANOTHER adult book on my list? Aren't I a YA reader? Well sure...but Little Julie (yeah, that 12-year-old brat) wanted to be sophisticated and read a bunch of classics and adult books after conquering Pride and Prejudice.

This was the first book to make Little Julie really think. Sure, that book about eating disorders stuck with me (I'm looking at YOU The Best Little Girl in the World) and yeah, Harry Potter fo' life. But this one made me think. About my life and the people I meet. About the people I never say a word to but the impact I may have on them. The people I'll probably never see but have impacted, a thought that became even more surreal when I started writing this post and realized that kind of includes every person that reads this, assuming I've impacted them. 

I still think about that book a lot. It's such a small, little book, but it did so much for me and how I think of people. Need to reread that one soon...

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
You may think "How the hell do these two fit together? And HARRY POTTER changed your life?" Hear me out. For these two, it wasn't just the book that made them important, but the situations surrounding the book.

I was seven when my sister left for college. Littler Julie admired her sister to no end and couldn't stand the idea of her leaving. 16-year-old Julie has a similar feeling every time her sister visits. But Littler Julie's sister is good with the presents, especially bookish ones. So, at some point while I was still a Littler Julie, my sister left me a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends. But this wasn't just ANY copy, this was a copy that my sister had marked. When I say marked, I don't mean with a pen or pencil - nobody in my family is good at defiling books that way - but she marked off her favorite poems. They were the first ones I read then and every time I pick up the book now, I still flip to them first. When I'm reading it myself, when I'm reorganizing, or when I'm trying to make someone else read it. That book is forever tied to my sister and that's why it'll always be special.

Harry Potter was another gift to Littler Julie from her sister. I think it was the first Christmas after she left. Littler Julie and her mom read together every night and sister thought it'd be a good choice since it was so popular. Littler Julie and her mom let it sit for almost a year, not picking it up until around the time the first movie came out on DVD.

I remember we read up to the part with Harry's first quidditch match before buying the movie. We said we'd just watch until that scene, but we knew we were kidding ourselves. From then on, we were hooked. We bought the next four books and read them together, reading out loud to each other. By time the fifth book came out, my mom had Boy and we no longer read together. I was 9. So, our solution was to buy 2 copies of the book, read at our own pace, and discuss after. Which means there are two copies of the last 3 Harry Potter books in my house.

But it's not the fact we both loved the series and by time the last part comes out, we'll have had 10 years with it. It's that we fell in love TOGETHER. This is a bond I'll always have with my mom. We'll always be saying
"Scared Potter?"
"You. Wish."
Always. And that's why it's so special.


I could keep going. Talk about Twilight and The Clique and how they actually are special, even though I'd never read them now and talk about other books I can't think of off the top of my head but probably could list if I was in my room, staring at them. But um...this post already seems obnoxiously long.

So, I guess I'm asking two things:
What are your "special" books?
Do you treat them differently or have them in a special (pun not intended...is there a way I can phrase this better?) area?

--Julie

Friday, 21 January 2011

Bloggiesta Starting Line!



Yes, I'm taking on bloggiesta. Bad thing to do the weekend before midterms, BUT I'M DOING IT ANYWAY.

I don't have *too* much to do, but it's enough that I want to get it done so I can use most of my time off during midterm week to read.

My to-do list:

1. Review. I only have 3 (though I plan to make it 4 by the end of the day)
2. Read. Need to finish a few of my current reads. School's messed up my reading.
3. Discussion posts. I have one in mind to set up and I'm sure Lanna has more. They're always good for rainy days.
4. Email. I'm HORRIBLE at emailing reviews to publishers. I need to get on that.
5. Update. Both review archive and 2011 DAC lists need to get updated. I'm not counting on getting the review archive done because this is a project we start back in, um, June. But progress is good.
6. Organize. My books are spread all over the place and some of my shelves get kind of forgotten in that. Must fix this!
7. Memes. I'm getting bad with my memes. Need to do a proper IMM and maybe set up a couple Waiting on Wednesdays...or something similar to them.
8. Study. NOTHING to do with blogging and should probably be at the top of my to-do list but...yeah.

I'm going to leave me list like that. And whatever's left by Sunday afternoon will be for Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. Hopefully it can all get done!

--Julie

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Kissing Booth by Lexie Hill


Kissing Booth
by Lexie Hill

Summary: Lisi has never been kissed. Sure, she could practice on her guy friend, Johnny, but he’s like a brother to her! So when it comes time to pick a theme for the Spring Carnival booth, Lisi suggests a "Kissing Booth," hoping it will give her the chance to get a cheek-kiss from her crush, the handsome, popular Brett. But on the day of the carnival, as rumors fly and kisses are stolen, Lisi discovers that the person she should really kiss may have been right in front of her all along.

This book was pretty predictable and clich√©, I’ve read variations of most of it before. But I liked it a lot. It was your typical feel-good chick lit romance and it’s perfect to read if you just want something light to make you smile between more serious/emotionally draining books.

I liked the characters, how they weren’t perfect but were still likeable (particularly Johnny). Lisi was a good protagonist, she only really annoyed me when she was getting obsessive over this guy in the book (and it was made even more annoying by the fact that I had already predicted how a certain aspect of the plot would go within the first chapter so it was frustrating waiting for the her to figure it out too).

The setting was fun, the whole high school in the midst of preparing for the schools annual carnival thing. It made me wish that my school had something like that when I was there, would've been so much fun.

Sorry, there’s not much else I can say about the book -- I liked it, it was entertaining and I’m glad I read it. It wasn’t fantastic or anything and I’ll probably have forgotten all about it within a few months (or sooner), but I do recommend it if you just want something to give you a break from reading more intense books.

Later.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Calling for Angels by Alex Smith


Calling for Angels
by Alex Smith

Summary: Em never believed in angels. That was until she met Zak and Kai…

Em - shy, sensitive, with her head in the clouds - and Caitlyn - gorgeous, popular and talented - have been best friends forever, in a sleepy, nondescript town called Philiton.

But when new boy Zak moves into town, Philiton suddenly becomes a much more interesting place. With his meltingly hot looks, sense of humour and a smile that has even the hardest-hearted girls falling at his feet, Zak has the female population of Philiton Comprehensive School convinced he's an angel.

Then a second boy steps into Em’s life. Dark and brooding, a captive to the secrets of a past he’d rather forget, Kai, who has appeared as if from nowhere and fallen head over heels in love with Em, is the exact opposite of Zak.

And although he may not seem like it, Kai is the real thing. He really is an angel.

I wasn’t sure if I would like this book or not, it would either be a hit or miss… but I did like it. The story was short, sweet and entertaining (and when I say short, I mean that -- it’s only 146 pages).

I was impressed that it was written when the author was 14, she writes better than a lot of adults I know (myself included). At times her age really showed though and that was both good and bad.

The good thing was that the characters were realistic; they acted their age, their dialogue was age appropriate. Now, there’s a lot of YA novels floating around right now that I adore, but sometimes the characters act older or younger than they should be… it doesn’t make those novels bad, not at all but it was refreshing reading a novel where the characters are the age of the author, makes it seem more -- authentic, I guess.

The negatives… well, thing’s like in Kai’s POV where he would think about how he loves her and how gorgeous he thinks she is -- it kind of gave the character an almost Mary Sue quality to her, where she sees herself as the plain Jane type but ends up with two guys adoring her (and it was difficult to believe Kai's love for her because it happens so fast, we don't see it develop at all, maybe if the book were longer it would've been different). Plus, it didn’t feel like I was reading from a teenage guys perspective, it was more like a teenage girls romanticized version of how she wants a teenage guy to think, if that makes sense?

The story was told from both Kai’s perspective and Em’s and I kind of have a love/hate relationship with that. It was interesting seeing Kai’s side of the story (with the exception of what I mentioned above), the angel thing was pretty cool… but some of the time it seemed like the split point of views were being used as a crutch when she couldn’t think of how to carry the scene/the story in just one perspective. The POV switches often happened mid conversation, which could be irritating.

If the story was told all from Em’s point of view, it could have been better -- it would’ve required the story to be fleshed out more and it would’ve given some more mystery by making the reader try to figure Kai out instead of just giving us the answers. Or maybe even if whole chapters were done in each POV, instead of jumping back and forth multiple times within chapters.

There were a few minor editing mistakes, which isn’t a big deal really, I just tend to notice thing’s like that (beyond the few typing mistakes, there were thing’s like this: at one point the Great Aunt is called Sally, then later she’s referred to as Sarah. And the angel Uriel -- Uriel is a male but is written as a woman in the story… which I guess could’ve been intentional, but I wasn’t sure if it was an error or not).

My favourite parts of the book were the interactions between Zak and Em  and pretty much any parts of the story involving them. I really liked the thing about Kai that I can’t really explain without spoiling that aspect of the book (but you’ll know what I mean if you read it), it kind of reminded me of this book I read and loved years ago (The Wish List by Eoin Colfer -- don’t get me wrong, it’s done totally differently, it reminded me of it in a good way).

I guess that’s all I can say about it. Overall, it was a cute book, I’d probably give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

About the cover:
I really, really don't like the cover. Cartoon covers irritate me and ones like this with that kind of font make the book seem really -- self published/amateur-ish and like they're aimed at young children instead of teenagers. Doesn't really do the book justice. I need to get out of my habit of judging books by their covers, but it's a difficult habit to break. Anyone else have an opinion on the cover? Cartoon covers, yay or nay?

Later.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Forsaken (Demon Trappers #1) by Jana Oliver

Forsaken (Demon Trappers #1)
by Jana Oliver

Note: this is the UK cover/title (I'll put the US version at the end of the post)

Summary: Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps.  The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?
I really loved this book. It's one of the more original urban fantasy novels I've read in a long time (and it has this awesome dystopian aspect to it too, loved that).

My favourite thing? Probably the setting (closely followed by the characters).

The setting of the book was awesome. It’s in the not-so-distant future in Georgia and the whole financial structure of the country has kind of gone to wreck and ruin. And demons and angels exist and are out in the open, as well as witches and necromancers and all that.

Even though the world was kind of -- broken, I guess, it still seemed really great. The way the world was written, it was so easy to picture and I wanted to be a part of it and a part of the characters lives.

The characters? Yeah, they were awesome. Even the demons had a kind of personality to them. Riley managed to be kick ass but still realistic and the times where she needed help, she didn’t seem like a damsel in distress, she fought her own battles. And the boys… well, there were three awesome ones in the book and I’d very much like to keep them all. There was the nice guy, Mr Mysterious and then the sort of brooding, sarcastic, almost-bad-boy-type.

Don’t get me wrong, when I mention the guys being awesome, that’s not to say the book is all about the romance because it isn’t. Really, the romance was kind of… subtle, I guess. It wasn’t really made into too much of a big deal and came across as more of a subplot, which I liked.

The actual plot? Loved that. It was interesting and kept me hooked and it managed to leave me hanging just enough that I’m desperate for the sequel.

One aspect of the plot had me crying at 4am for about a whole three chapters but it may have been because I could relate to what the character was going through.

I guess I’ll leave it at that. The book was really good, I've read some more negative reviews of it too, so I guess it's just down to personal preferrence but it was definitely a win for me.

Later.

P.s. US version:







I love the covers of this book. I loved the US cover and then I got the UK one and… it’s so pretty in person, it has this waxy kind of feel to it.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Books Read in 2011

Maybe I'm a little late on the challenges thing, but I'm bad about making things official.

Anyway, my own self-challenge is to read 120 books this year. I read 115 last year so this should be do-able. My goal also includes reading all the books I own, which covers about 3/4 of the books I want to read...we'll see how that works.

Anyway, this is just where I'll keep track of everything I read and you guys can see too! I don't review EVERYTHING I read (mostly school things, sequels, and some random books) so even if I don't review it, you can still now I read it.

1. Victoria and the Rogue - Meg Cabot
3. The Magnolia League - Katie Crouch
4. The False Princess - Eilis O'Neal
5. Girl, Stolen - April Henry
6. XVI - Julia Karr
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.

So, fingers crossed this works out well! 

--Julie

Sunday, 16 January 2011

In My Mailbox (52) & Contest Winner

Before we get to IMM, someone posted a comment asking who won the Entangled contest. The winner was Harmony and I've ordered the book for her already. I don't really like making individual posts announcing contest winners, I just email the winners to let them know they've won.

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

I had a REALLY slow week, until Friday when a giant box was waiting for me to come home. Biggest. Box. Ever.

Bought:
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

For Review/Gifted:
Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers +bookmarks and tattoos [SO excited for this one. I'm definitely reading this one now. It is signed to me and was sent by Lisa for helping with the cover reveal and being her cheerleader and what not. Review for this won't be up until June or July.]

That's it for me this week! Any thoughts on these books?

--Julie

Lanna:

Yeah, the whole not buying books thing? *failed with flying colours*

For review:

In the Bag by Jim Carrington

Not the sort of book I'd pick up on my own but that was the same with Jim's first book, which I read and loved last year.

The Demon Collector by John Mayhew

I think this is the second in a series (the first being Mortlock?), but I haven't read the first book and with Mount TBR well past the point of crazy, it'll probably be a while before I get to it.

Calling for Angels by Alex Smith

I'm about halfway through this one, should have a review up for it next week.

Bought:

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
Subject Seven by James A. Moore
Forever by Judy Blume
Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman
Trapped by Michael Northrop
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Later.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Other Words for Love
Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
[January 11, 2011]

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?

This book? One of the best contemporaries I've ever read. It made me sit and stare at my favorites bookshelf and wonder if that book was even worthy of being next to this book. THAT'S how much this book just totally blew me away.

The feelings in this book were raw and up and down and just so very much like a teenager. I consider myself fairly normal, not boy-crazy, etc., etc. But my moods are all over the place sometimes and my feelings go crazy and sometimes I just want to shut down. These things were captured so perfectly in this book. At times it was like I was in it, like I was Ari.

The characters in this book are among the most perfect I've ever read because every single one of them had these major defining flaws. For some, it wasn't always their fault. For some, it was circumstance or how they were raised, or whatever. But they all had these huge flaws that made them so, so, SO human. Really human.

I was just totally immersed in this novel. When Ari was in love, I was in love. Then she wasn't and neither was I. I couldn't help but see more and more flaws as soon as she was in that ending phase. I felt like I was Ari sometimes and like I was her best friend the next, wishing vengeance on all those than hurt her or cheering her on.

I also loved how every relationship and every activity was connected. Ari did had a bunch of different things going on and all were clearly linked together. Sometimes it seems like in books, something happens in one aspect of the character's life, but everything else is fine. Here, it was such a delicate puzzle or a domino effect or whatever you want to call it.

This book is...amazing? The perfect YA first-romance story? The best way to put it is probably to say that if Courtney Summers wrote romance, I'd expect it to be something like this.

--Julie

Discussion: Books That Blow You Away and Other Things

I have a lot of favorite books. I openly admit that. There's...at least 70, not counting some of the longer series (i.e. Harry Potter, Vampire Academy, etc...). But more and more often I find myself staring at my shelf of favorites and going "Really? Did I love that book THAT much?"

Well...yeah. I did. I love every book on that shelf, no matter what rating I gave it or how I might have reviewed it. But how do I define a favorite? A book I plan to reread someday? A book I really loved? A book I just don't know what else to do with?

Looking at my shelf, yeah, I do want to reread a lot of those someday. I have reread several of them already. I love a lot of those books. But some are there more because the author's other books are or other books in the series are. And that just...doesn't seem right. Not now that my shelf is bursting with books. Shouldn't it be just for books that blew me away?

But then there's another problem. So few books HAVE blown me away. I can think of...maybe 10 of the top of my head. Then how do I organize the rest of that shelf?

So, I guess there's a few questions here:
How do you define a favorite book?
How do you organize your shelves?
What books totally blew you out of the away and made you question your love of any other book? (I'll try to answer this too, if anyone wants me too.)

--Julie

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Happy Book Birthday, Across the Universe!

Today, Across the Universe releases to the world! And to celebrate, Penguin has sent out some top secret info for us to share with you!

First, a video from Beth Revis talking about Across the Universe and the ship, Godspeed.


 The Across the Universe trailer:


More Across the Universe fun needed?
Find it on facebook! Look through its website! Read the first 111 pages from 11:11 am Eastern to 11:11 pm Eastern!

The website is TRULY amazing guys. You can click on different parts of the ship and highlight them so they're all in color. Then you can click it to get close ups. Isn't that amazing?

STILL not satisfied? Then you can stalk---errr, follow Beth Revis, the epic author!
You can check out her website! Follow her blog! Or follow her twitter!

Do you STILL need more? Then keep up with PenguinTeen at their website, facebook, and twitter!

Think you're read to BUY Across the Universe now? You can buy it at Barnes and Noble, Borders, IndieBound, The Book Depository, or wherever else works for you! Just go get it!

--Julie

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