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!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mini Reviews: Part Two

So I didn't feel like writing full reviews for all of these. Instead, it's return of the mini-reviews!

After by Amy Efaw
In short: Devon's life changes drastically when a baby is found in the trash and all signs point to her as the mother. The big question though, is why. Why would someone like Devon, who's a star soccer player, a good student, etc. throw her baby away? After follows Devon as she goes from court to jail to court and what goes on through her mind, slowly revealing her reasons.

My thoughts: To be honest, at first After did not do anything for me. It's written in third person, present tense, and that threw me off and didn't work for me.

For a large portion of the book, I couldn't understand how Devon could do something like that, and I didn't like her as a character, nor anyone else, for that matter. The part that saved After though, is the last quarter, where Devon goes to court on whether or not she should be tried as an adult or a child, being 15 going on 16. After actually made law seem interesting to me, which is something that my dad has never been able to do- and he's a lawyer. So kudos to Amy Efaw.

The conclusion: Brings a new perspective to law and Dumpster babies, and the desperation and seeming insanity one will go to. But also a little dull and annoying at times. 3.5/6.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
from Goodreads: Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.

My thoughts: The Chosen One is haunting for its topic. To have it viewed through the eyes of a mere 13 year old girl makes the brutality of her world significantly worse. It's a well written novel that goes by really quickly, partly because of the short length and partly because it's written not in chapters but as snippets and blocks with no chapters to divide it.

It's short, but powerful for the view of a polygamous community that The Chosen One gives us. It's certainly unusual for a YA novel and shows a completely different world that most readers have. I don't know what else to say but that the relationships are all deftly done and the characters, especially Kyra, are particularily heartbreakingly beautiful.

The conclusion: Surely a must-read for those wanting to get a glimpse of what it would be like to live a polygamous lifestyle, and a wake up call to many others. Certainly it was to me. 5/6 stars.

Feed by M.T. Anderson
From Goodreads: Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires.

My thoughts: Feed is more of a commentary on consumerism and the way of life than anything else. As far as plot goes, there isn't much to it, which made it a little harder to get into. It's mostly about Titus and his friends and then meeting a girl who challenges the world they live in and changing his views. Toss in some love and tragedy and you've got Feed. That's not to say it's not good, because obviously it is - I mean, it did get an award - but Feed isn't a fast paced Hunger Games. So I shouldn't have expected it to be, but I did.

Regardless of my expectations, Feed makes an interesting satire. The way it's written mocks the way teenagers speak - which is to say, it's really annoying. And that's the point. But the writing isn't that hard to get used to. (Which is slightly depressing to me. If it's so easy to fall into reading it, what does that say about me?) As far as characters go, Titus seemed quite... useless, and Violet could be desperate and clingy, but that's would happen to most in a setting like they live in.

The conclusion: A good read for what is is, but my expectations for something exciting fell exceedingly short. 4/6.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Review by Alex- Brightly Woven

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

Along with the strangely powerful quakes and storms that trace their path across the kingdom, other wizards begin to take an inexplicable interest in her as well, resulting in a series of deadly duels. Against a backdrop of war and uncertainty, Sydelle is faced with the growing awareness that these events aren’t as random as she had believed—that no curse, not even that of Wayland North, is quite as terrible as the one she herself may carry.

First Impressions: I had read some reviews praising Brightly Woven when it first came out, and so I was excited to finally read it. I love fantasy! And that cover? So pretty. Brightly Woven resembled a lot like the Immortal series by Tamora Pierce, which pretty much decided that I would read this book.

Brightly Woven was all that I thought it would be. It's a light fantasy - and not paranormal fantasy, thank god - and a romance. The fantastical elements are really interesting, because well, I do love me some magic. I thought it was really unique that Wayland used magic through his capes- and that Syd could weave those capes. It's an exciting world, but we unfortunately only seemed to get a snippet of it. I'm sure there's a lot more to it. (Companion novel coming up?)

The characters were all quite fun, and Syd and Wayland North are adorable together. Syd's wary of North at the beginning, but through their travels they grow on each other and protect each other. Cue the "aaaw"s. The other characters could have used more time, but it is a rather short novel at 368 pages (for a fantasy, where many new things of the new world have to be explained) so it can be understandable. The problems and revelations both Syd and North face are fascinating.

The writing is easy and smooth and Brightly Woven is a book to finish in a night. Which is what I did. Actually, I stayed up late into the night, so that's telling you something. While some parts of the story didn't always mesh well together, the overall plot is quite addicting, and the ending goes at a brisk pace.

Final Impressions: A fantasy that's full of fun, romance, and of course magic, Brightly Woven lives up to its expectations. It's a lighter version of novels by Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce, so fantasy fans, line up.

Oh! And Lauren and I are planning on having a big giveaway at the end of the summer, but it would be even better if we could also celebrate 200 followers at the same time! We only have 9 more to go... We could toss in an extra book or something if it happens.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Review by Lauren - Guardian of the Gate

Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for ...more The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she'll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister's role in the prophecy, and that's not the only thing she wants: There's also Lia's boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn't know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing.

First Impressions: Not so pumped since the first one disappointed me - you can read my review here and Alex's here.

So I decided I would switch back to a bit of teen literature, and this one seemed like a good place to start. If you haven't read the first book, Prophecy of the Sisters, you pretty much have to read it first. I spent the first couple chapters completely bewildered because I just couldn't remember all the crazy information from the first book. There is a lot of background to these books, so you really can't just jump in somewhere.

I liked Guardian of the Gate more than Prophecy of the Sisters for a couple reasons. First, more happened in this book. The first one had a lot of carousing around and information, setting up for the next two books. So I was hoping this one would have some big moments. I will admit it definitely had more to it than the first one, but it was still a big set-up for the next book. That's pretty much the only issue I had with it, but it wasn't enough for me to put the book down or anything - I read it in a night.

The second reasons I enjoyed Guardian of the Gate more than Prophecy of the Sisters was the romance. Yes, yes, that's all I live for in a book, but despite Lia's adorable relationship with James in the first book, I still found myself wishing for more. Guardian of the Gate definitely has more. I won't reveal too much, but it was plenty for me.

Final Impressions: Better than the first one for sure, but still not up there in my favorites. Keeps that haunting atmosphere but not quite as dark as the first one.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review by Alex- Jellicoe Road

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
"What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellic...more "What do you want from me?" he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

First Impressions: Well, this is a reread, so I already knew I loved Jellicoe Road and Melina Marchetta. All of her books have impressed me and left a mark, Jellicoe Road especially. So when I happened to make a trip and spot Jellicoe Road, well I just had to pick it up.

Jellicoe Road has everything. No, it IS everything. If there was ever to be a book with a soul, this would be it. It has a raw power to it. It makes me smile, it makes me cry - a lot - but most of all, it makes me believe in something beautiful. I really do believe that it's one of those rare and special books.

It's one of those that are better as a reread than the first time reading, if possible. The clues fit in better. At my library, it's labelled as a mystery, but it's so much more. It's a love story, a coming of age. Two stories of growing up and making lasting friendships. It's filled with passion and confusion and glorious fun and hope.

Now, it is confusing at first. Two very different stories are related, and it's hard to tell what's going on. You're kind of dropped into a story of a war- a war over territory, between 3 sides, and it's hard to tell what exactly is happening. But it's worth sticking with because all is understood after a couple chapters, about the current situation. But that doesn't mean other secrets are revealed- some wait until the very end, and you have to race to get there, because it's impossible not to.

Jellicoe Road is complicated and heartbreaking. It's filled with little beautiful things, like times when Taylor has fun with her House. Huge beautiful things like the relationship between Taylor and a boy. And that secretive past- the story of 5 teenagers who are all connected to each other, whether through tragic accident, coincidence, or luck.

Everything from the intertwining stories, to the characters thrown together who, at first are enemies but grow into something much, more more, to the histories and pasts of the characters, to the characters themselves who are alive and passionate and for the most part, filled with life- they're all so gorgeously drawn. So well done, so amazing.

Final Impressions: No words can do justice for Jellicoe Road. It was completely different from anything I'd ever read last year, the first time I read it, and it's still completely different. It's astonishing, and breathtaking, and tearjerking, and gloriously beautiful. Jellicoe Road is really something you have to read to fully understand the amazing wonderfullness of it all. Melina Marchetta may very well be my idol.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (28)

Oh, it's been a while, hasn't it? Since I've done a WoW, that is.

Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
On the surface, Emily Meckler leads the perfect life. She has three best friends, two loving parents, and the ideal setup at the Connecticut prep school where her father is the headmaster. But Emily also suffers from devastating nightmares about fire and water, and nobody knows why. Then the enigmatic Del Sugar enters her life, and Emily is immediately swept away—but her passionate relationship with Del is just the first of many things that aren't quite what they seem in Emily's life. As the lies she's been told start to unravel, Emily must set out to discover the truth regarding her nightmare; on a journey that will lead her to question everything she thought she knew about love, family, and her own idyllic past.

This companion novel to Warman's critically acclaimed Breathless proves that sometimes the biggest lies are told to the people you love the most.

I'm not too sure if this is paranormal. I haven't read Breathless but as far as I know, it isn't. The description sounds like Where the Truth Lies could be paranormal, but I don't think so. Which would make it all the better- suspense and mystery without anything normal seems like a breathe of fresh air to me.

And I love the title. Where the Truth Lies. It does sound very similar to Wherever Nina Lies and And then I Found Out the Truth, but it's a similarity I really, really like. Titles that are phrases are so... [insert perfect adjective here]. Love.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

What are you all waiting for?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review by Alex- Vampire Academy series

I don't know if words can express how much I love the Vampire Academy series. Hands down, my favourite vampire books and one of my top urban fantasies too.

As this was actually a reread of the first four in the series, since I finally bought them all for cheap (!), and I don't want to spoil Spirit Bound, I figured I would just review the series as a whole.

You'd have to living under a rock to not have heard of the Vampire Academy series and you'd have to be annoyingly stubborn to refuse to read them. coughLaurencough. Think you're over the huge vampire trend? Please don't be. Give VA a chance and you won't regret it.

Vampire Academy starts out fast and continues to be a speedy read- partly because the writing is smooth and easy to read, partly because you just want to keep reading to get to the end to know what's going to happen. The plots of each novel are extremely strong, with lots of action and excitement. There are some periods of downtime, like the first half of Blood Promise, but that time only promises better battles.

The characters are dynamic and fun. Rose is incredibly tough and kickass. She's got a snarky comment for everything which makes for laugh-out-loud dialogue. And she's loyal. Best friend material? Oh yeah. Lucky for Lissa, the only one in the royal Dragomir line, that the two have been best friends for years. Lissa as a character becomes stronger and more likeable over the course of the series. At first, she doesn't really hold much of a candle next to Rose, but Lissa's her own person and is brave in a different way.

And then there are the guys. Of course. There's Dimitri, Rose's hot older Russian tutor. And there's Adrian, party boy and constantly drunk - but there's a reason - who's confident and a royal vampire. Both vying for Rose. That ever present and so very addicting love triangle. (I'm turning into an Adrian fan. I did not like Dimitri at all in Spirit Bound. What a wuss.)

Final Impressions: Oh dear. I seriously cannot do the Vampire Academy series justice. It deserves all the praise it gets and more. Awesome characters? Check. Addicting romance? Check. Powerful plot? Check. What more can you ask for? For all those who haven't read this series yet: Really, please, don't hesitate to read them. For all those who have: Want to fangirl squeal with me over this series? There are few series I'd fawn over, but Vampire Academy is one of them. This may not be stuffy literature to last the ages and to be read in schools time and time again, but for what it is, Vampire Academy is the finest.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Review by Alex- Sorta Like a Rock Star

Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom’s boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). But Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. Instead, she focuses on bettering the lives of her alcoholic mother and her quirky circle of friends: a glass-ceiling-breaking single mother raising a son diagnosed with autism; Father Chee and The Korean Divas for Christ (soul-singing ESL students); a nihilist octogenarian; a video-game-playing gang of outcasts; and a haiku-writing war vet. But then a fatal tragedy threatens Amber’s optimism—and her way of life. Can Amber continue to be the princess of hope?

With his zany cast of characters and a heartwarming, inspiring story, debut YA author Matthew Quick builds a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. This world is Amber’s stage, and Amber is, well…she’s sorta like a rock star.

First Impressions: Bought on a whim when I went to Chapters one day. I went in not knowing anything about it besides the description and that there were blurbs by some great authors praising Sorta Like a Rock Star.

And I have to say, Sorta Like a Rock Star is such a hidden gem. True. As Amber would say. Amber,the narrator, has an honest and powerful voice. Though at first it's extremely annoying with the "trues" as I've showcased a few sentences back, after a while, you get used to it and the unique voice only adds to the novel.

Amber is one helluva heroine. She's got more problems than the average girl, but she's able to bear it well and still remain seemingly eternally optimistic. She goes through ups and downs and changes throughout the novel- but she still retains that beautiful Amber-ness. I'm not doing a very good job of describing Amber, because she's just one of those undescribably good characters.

Supporting Amber is a crazy and motley cast. Amber seems to be able to make friends with anyone and everyone if she wants to. She smiles and says hello to scary homeless people as she bikes by. She has four male best friends who all aren't, well, average. She's a befriender and an action-taker. This review focuses on Amber because the novel is about Amber. The rest of the characters are well-done and fun, but Amber is without a doubt the showstopper.

Final Impressions: This book made me laugh. It made me cry. End of story. So really, go pick up this book now. It's heartfelt and sweet, and almost perfect in a fragile sort of way.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A musing on the (un)diversity of tastes

Tastes. Genres. Favourites.

For some reason, my tastes in movies and tv, and even music, are quite eclectic, but for books, I'm almost always reading teen. (Or I would have said that a month ago at least.) I've watched movies from Funny People, to 27 Dresses, to Star Trek, and liked all of them. I've followed tv series like Glee, Lost, Modern Family, 24. Music, while mostly alt and indie, can be diverse.
But... books? Almost strictly teen. And when I realized that- I started to try to branch out. (Hellooo classics and adult.) I didn't like the idea of being so one-streamed, especially with books, which are hands down my favourite out of books, movies, tv, and music. That said, of course I still love teen. And the teen genre really is diverse.

However, my point of this post is to ruminate on why. My taste in everything else is varied. But I've been reading teen and pretty much only teen for... more than five years now.

I think - though this is only for me personally - the main reason is time. A movie is done by 2 hours, though lately many pass that in length. But in give or take a couple hours, a movie is over. A tv series has weekly installements, an hour a week max. is nothing. Music is just minutes. There is time to not be picky. Because it's so little time. What's an hour or two of your life? A horrible movie would be something you just laugh at for watching and then forget about. You can waste an hour watching a show and then just not watch it anymore.

But a book takes time to read, plus energy on your part to actually read it. Some books - example: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers - may go as fast as 2 hours but most don't. Most surpass that time it takes to watch a movie. Novels can be 300 pages to much, much more. Even the best thick reads - HP much? - that go quickly take time. There's no going around that. (Well, speed-reading and skipping parts, but that's never been my way.) And so instead of branching out and trying something new, it's a lot easier to just stick with what you're used to reading, because you pretty much know you'll like it and it won't be a waste of time.

On top of time, there's also that reading is done alone. You can watch a movie or show with friends, and laugh and talk about it at the same time. Have you tried reading with someone else before? I have. It's annoying and strange, especially if the other person isn't at the same reading speed as you. Reading is inheritantly individualistic. And so your own tastes are really the only ones that matter. A friend can coerce you to watch a movie with them; a friend lending you a book and telling you to read it is a lot different than you actually picking up that book and reading it.

Add the fact that you have to concentrate to read - a tv isn't doing the work for you - and you have another reason. Teen is usually easier to read than adult. Not always, but that's what I've found from what I've read of adult and certainly of the classics. Teen novels have a way of writing that's aimed for teens. Many teens are reluctant readers- they're not going to want to wade through complex sentences and imagery and whatnot.

All this to conclude that while all forms have advantages and disadvantages, that really shouldn't stop me, and those of you, from limiting myself to one genre in whatever form. Just because I've always read teen doesn't mean I should constantly only read teen. Diversity is my new goal.

And so I've challenged myself to actually read some of the classics. I'm about a 1/4 of the way through Wuthering Heights now. I'm off to discover why everyone is obsessed with this Heathcliff.

So what do you all think? Diversify? And what books would you recommend that aren't teen?

- Alex

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review by Lauren - The Secret Daughter

The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that indelibly connects them.

First Impressions: I picked The Secret Daughter up on a recommendation by another staff member who had just started it, but had been really enjoying it.

Asha is adopted at the age of one after her family could not afford to keep a daughter in their household. She is raised by two american doctors, her father Indian and her mother Caucasian. The Secret Daughter takes place both in India and America, with a variety of different perspectives throughout the story.

I read The Secret Daughter very quickly. It's not a perticularly small book, but I was interested in the story for the most part. The beginning and middle were great, but I found that the second half of it started to slow down a bit and I kept waiting for something monumental to happen. Other than that, I definitely enjoyed the characters, the plot, and also the indian culture shown in the novel.

Final Impressions: A great, interesting story highlighting the values we place on family and identity.

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