Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fear not, it's not too late!

You can still enter our giveaway to win:
  • Wondrous Strange & Darklight by Lesley Livingston
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth & Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
  • After by Amy Efaw
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

And to sweeten things even more, we're adding more books into the pot! Say hello to the chance to also win:

  • Beautiful Creatures by Magi Garcia & Margaret Stohl (HC)
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman (PB)
  • The Iron King by Julia Kagawa (PB)

Three winners, three books each! How awesome, right? To enter, just FILL OUT THIS FORM.

Unfortunately, this is a US/Canada only contest. And it is due to end September 21, so enter away!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book mix: Grace & Elegance

Here compiled are 13 recent YA novels that I feel can be described as graceful or elegant, from the characters, setting, writing, cover, etc.

  • Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
    What can be more graceful than magic? Plus capes & weaving? Grace in motion.

  • Jellicoe Road- Melina Marchetta
    The writing is beautiful and the story is gracefully executed.

  • Fire- Kristin Cashore
    Everything screams gracefullness, from the setting, the writing, to the characters and the weapons. I mean, archery?

  • Ash- Malinda Lo
    A fairy tale retelling is bound to be full of elegance and grace and Ash exemplifies it.

  • The Book Thief- Markus Zusak
    Being so unique and beautiful, The Book Thief just needs to be included.

  • Ice- Sarah Beth Durst
    Another retelling, Ice takes place in the freezing cold and involves souls. Something about a combination of those two screams elegance.

  • Prophecy of the Sisters- Michelle Zink
    A gothic setting and graceful prose combine and I’m assuming, continue in Guardian of the Gate.

  • If I Stay- Gayle Forman
    The hardcover is simply lovely as is the whole story.

  • Shiver- Maggie Stiefvater
    Not only is the main character’s name Grace but the writing is elegant. Double reasons.

  • Silver Pheonix- Cindy Pon
    The original cover with the asian girl is full of beauty and grace and the whole journey of magic is amazing.

  • Grace- Elizabeth Scott
    Having not actually read it, I can’t say much about it but the title is Grace. And Elizabeth Scott is known for her elegant writing.

  • The Demon’s Covenant- Sarah Rees Brennan
    Even though it takes place in a contemporary world, the dancing and the swords & bows are totally elegant.

  • Thirteen Reasons Why- Jay Asher
    The cover is haunting, but the motion of a swing is always so graceful. The writing and inclusion of casette tapes make 13 Reasons Why all the more elegant.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review by Alex- Passing Strange

Passing Strange by Daniel Waters
Karen DeSonne always passed as a normal (if pale) teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school. Passing cost her the love of her life. And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing—this time, as alive. Karen DeSonne just happens to be an extremely human-like zombie. Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of antizombie regulations that have forced them into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” that destroyed their non-life was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the unthinkable: becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is—because the consequences would be worse than death.

First Impresssions: Having read the previous two in the Generation Dead series, I knew pretty much what to expect. They tend to be a little slow, but interesting with the dynamics that the addition of teenage zombies. Worthwhile reads for sure.

Passing Strange is mislabeled, if you ask me. It says it's "High school zombies for Twilight fans" but I find Passing Strange more introspective than Twilight, with less fluff and intense romance, and more zombie rights and how the sudden appearance of teenage zombies can stir up the world.

While Generation Dead and Kiss of Life focused on Phoebe, Adam, and Tommy, Passing Strange has Karen and Pete at centre stage. The love triangle characters are still there - though Tommy just in reference - but they are a part of it. Karen's an interesting character, as we get to look into a zombie mind. She's got a past- she did commit suicide after all and came back as a zombie because of it. Her remorse and need to redeem herself is a huge part of the novel and it influences much of her actions. Pete, who seemed like a cold, crazy killer in the first books, is characterized more in Passing Strange, where he almost seems normal at times. He's got twisted views for sure, and takes many turns in character so the reader never really knows who he is, well, human. Just a twisted one. And a good actor.

While the plot slows down at times, Karen's secret mission carries the story along, along with the mystery of her backstory (though it's slightly obvious) and Pete's strange motives. There's also the rest of the zombies who have gone into hiding who make appearances. I'm starting to really like Tak, who gets more story time and gets his past and self shared.

Generation Dead and Kiss of Life set up the story and reflected on the mistreatment of zombies (and therefore any racism in present real life), but Passing Strange took a slightly different approach. With Karen as the only one who narrates in first person (there are also third person narrations centering on Pete and Tak), Karen's thoughts bring a different type of voice. It's more reflective on individuals being zombies, instead of how zombies affect the whole population. It's how being a zombie affects you kind of thing. There's also a bit more of a spy/stealthiness feel to Passing Strange.

Final Impressions: Overall, I really enjoyed reading Passing Strange, even if it did take a considerable amount of time to read due to a sometimes uneventful story. All the characters are realized and strongly done and the book is often witty. Though my favourite part of the novel is by far the impact zombies can have on society and what coming back as a zombie would feel like.
4.5 shelves.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Review by Lauren - Orange is the New Black

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

When FBI agents knocked on her door to investigate a ten-year-old crime, Piper Kerman barely resembled the reckless young woman she was shortly after graduating Smith College. Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, she was suddenly forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking a decade earlier.

Following a plea deal, she spent 15 months at “Club Fed,” the infamous women’s correctional facility in Danbury, CT, where she not only gained a unique perspective on the criminal justice system, but also met a surprising and varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances.
In Orange Is the New Black, Piper Kerman tells the dramatic story of those long months under lockdown, in a place with its own codes of behavior and arbitrary hierarchies, where a practical joke is as common as an unprovoked fistfight, and where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated.

Revealing, moving, and enraging, Orange Is the New Black is a bold and wholly original entry in the canon of prison literature.

First Impressions: I was really interested in having some insight into what prison is really like, so along with the high praise the book has received, it seemed like an interesting choice.

I read Orange is the New Black almost consistantly within a 12 hour span (I had to sleep at some point). All I can say is that it was so interesting. I don't read very many non-fiction, but I can definitely see the appeal in reading something you know is true. Piper's story is an incredible journey that completely changed her life. It wasn't a story about convicts and how terrifying the prison system was (although it did have its moments), but about the people you meet and the social customs that are so different from the outside world.

Final Impressions: Really interesting and well written novel. I definitely enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Review by Lauren - East

East by Edith Pattou

In the rural villages of Norway, there is an ancient belief that children inherit the qualities of the direction in which they are born. Nymah Rose, the last daughter of eight siblings born to a poor mapmaker and his superstitious wife, was a North-born baby. It is said that North-born babies are wild, unpredictable, intelligent, and destined to break their mothers' hearts because they all leave hearth and home to travel to the far ends of the earth.

To keep her close, Rose’s mother lied and told her she had been born of the obedient and pliable East. But destiny cannot be denied. One day, a great white bear comes to the mapmaker’s door to claim Rose’s birthright. Everything that comes after, as richly imagined by author Edith Pattou, is the basis for one of the most epic romantic fantasies ever told.

East is a deftly woven tapestry that melds traditional fairy tale motifs of both Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun and West of the Moon, with the haunting icy lore of medieval northern lands. Told in a changing chorus of voices, including that of Rose, her hopeful brother Neddy, her regretful father, the charmed white bear, and the Troll Queen whose selfish wish is the catalyst that seals Rose’s fate, East will enchant any and all who venture within its pages.

First Impression: I did a lot of looking around online before deciding to buy East - I was in a book buying mood but tend to be picky. It got great reviews and sounded interesting.

East is the retelling of the classic Nowegian fairy tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon - very similar to Beauty and the Beast with a little more adventure to it along with some references to Norse mythology. I love fairy tales and right from the start, I was hooked. I loved it.

The beginning of the book was great. Interesting, intriguing, and I could not wait to finish, but then it kindof dropped off. There was a good chunk in the middle that I could barely focus on. The story had just sortof died off for me. It was a great retelling of the story though, great writing for the most part, and I did enjoy it overall.

Final Impressions: Great retelling of a classic with a little bump in the middle. Beginning and end were great though.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Review by Lauren - Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

First Impression: I really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments trilogy that Cassandra Clare had written, so I was excited to read this one - I'm not in love with the series though, so I wasn't expecting miracles. The cover, though, is gorgeous which did increase my desire to read the book...

Clockwork Angel it set at the end of the Victorian Era in London where orphaned Tessa Gray has gone to find her brother. It carries many elements of the Mortal Instruments trilogy - another Pandemonium Club, Magnus Bane, and even the Lightwoods make an appearance - but it isn't necessary to read the first series. There are shadowhunters, downworlders, and the same brutal love interest. As awful as Will was in the books, I can't help but still love him deep down.

I loved Clockwork Angel. It had all the elements of the first series that I loved, but with that historical aspect to it that made it all 10 times better for me. There were little bits of Victorian poetry at the beginnings of every chapter, which I usually don't care for because they never seem to make any sense to me, but these poems actually interested me and drew me in. Tessa's love for literature was also great and I loved the references to Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters and Dickens.

Final Impressions: I loved it and I will definitely buy it once it comes out in paperback (because I've had to cut back on my book buying...). It was thrilling, mysterious, and just as intriguing as Clare's other series. I cannot wait for the next one to come out, and I am pleased to be able to give it a rating of 6/6 shelves :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"It could be worse" giveaway!

Ah yes! The giveaway we promised months ago. As school quickly comes upon us students, we all groan and wish for summer. And for all those past school- lament the departure of hot summer days by the pool and whatnot. But fear not, we're here to try to brighten the coming fall with, of course, a giveaway!

To win:
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (HC)
  • The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (HC)
  • Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (PB)
  • Darklight by Lesley Livingston (PB)
  • After by Amy Efaw (HC)
  • The Absolutely True diary of a Part-Time Indian (PB)

2 winners. Each person gets to pick either zombies or faeries, and then a contemporary one too. Gotta get a bit of a mix, right?

This contest is US & CANADA ONLY. Sorry, we're just students. (Ignore what the form says. It's a mistake. Though if anyone knows how to edit the form and is willing to tell us how, we'd be super grateful!)

Simple enough, just fill out THIS FORM. We tried to make it as simple as possible.

Good luck! If this goes well, we may add more books & winners. Giveway ends September 21st!
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