Thursday, December 31, 2009

i'm a Bandwagoner: "best Books of 2009"

I just had to create my own list =)

Oh, and this list is books I read this year, not books released this year!
Lastly: click the book title to go to my own review (if there is one..) These are in no particular order (except for #1,2,3 lol)

On the Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta (I need to write a full review soon)
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

Ballads of Suburbia - Stephanie Kuehnert

Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen

Fire - Kristin Cashore

Graceling - Kristin Cashore (I love her! seriously!)




I could keep going... but here are some honourable mentions:

Broken Soup - Jenny Valentine

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (this review is horrendous, ie: 2 sentences)

Vampire Academy series - Richelle Mead (extra extra honourable!!)

Paper Towns - John Green


North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley (doesn't even count as a review...)

The Demon's Lexicon - Sarah Rees Brennan (neither does this! D= sorry!)

**

There's so many of these lists everywhere, so what was your favourite book(s) of 2009? And I already know some that will be on my next years list :P (*cough* Hunger Games 3; Spirit Bound * cough*)

--AyC

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge - Book List - COMPLETE

I am participating in the 2010 YA Reading Challenge hosted by J.Kaye's Book Blog, you can find more information about it HERE.

Also, my own post about the challenge can be found HERE.




This will be the book list of the young adult books I have read in 2010, I don't need to list them beforehand so I will add to it as I finish the books! I will also link it to my review if there is one. My goal is to finish 50 YA books in 2010. I will also add the rating in (parentheses), but these ratings are subject to change if my opinion of the book changes over time!

1. Rebel Angels - Libba Bray (8.8)
2. The Sweet Far Thing - Libba Bray (8.8)
3. I Am The Messenger - Markus Zusak (8.9)
4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie (9)
5. Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder (9.1)
6. Cut - Patricia McCormick (7.4)
7. Fade - Lisa McMann (8.2)
8. The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan (8)
9. When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead (7.9)
10. Magic Study - Maria V. Snyder (7.8)
11. Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers (9.2)
12. How They Met and Other Stories - David Levithan (7)
13. That Summer - Sarah Dessen (7.9) [I am officially done all of Dessen's books, hurrah!]
DNF (did not finish) Liar - Justine Larbalestier (5)
14. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (7.7)
15. Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters (7.9)
16. Percy Jackson: The Titan's Curse (8.2)
17. Percy Jackson: The Battle of the Labyrinth (8.5)
18. Percy Jackson: The Last Olympian (9)
DNF- Fire Study - Maria V. Snyder (4)
19. The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (9.3)
20. The Demigod Files - Rick Riordan (6)
21. The Maze Runner - James Dashner (8.9)
22. The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness (9)
23. Coraline - Neil Gaiman (7.5)
24. Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - Beth Fantaskey (8.7)
25. Feed - M.T. Anderson (7.5)
26. Coffeehouse Angel - Suzanne Selfors (7.9)
27. Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (8)
28. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (8)
29. Fang (Maximum Ride #6) - James Patterson (7.2)
30. Scarlett Fever - Maureen Johnson (8.7)
31. The Piper's Son - Melina Marchetta (9.3)
32. Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver (8.2)
33. Zan Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure - Allan Shickman (7)
34. Incarceron - Catherine Fisher (7.8)
35. Finnikin of the Rock - Melina Marchetta (8.9)
36. The Reckoning - Kelley Armstrong (8)
37. The Demon's Covenant - Sarah Rees Brennan (9.3)
38. Bloom - Elizabeth Scott (6)
39. Heist Society - Ally Carter (8.5)
40. The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting (8.7)
41. Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi (7.8)
42. A Match Made in High School - Kristin Walker (7)
43. Spirit Bound - Richelle Mead (7.9)
44. Zan Gah and the Beautiful Country - Allan Shickman (7.1)
45. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan (9)
46. The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan (8)
47. Because I Am Furniture - Thalia Chaltas (8.2)
48. The Second Trial - Rosemarie Boll (7.2)
49. Castration Celebration - Jake Wizner (8.5)
50. Rampant - Diana Peterfreund (8.2)
51. All Unquiet Things - Anna Jarzab (9)
52. House Rules - Jodi Picoult (7.5)
53. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (8.2)
54. The Thief - Megan Whalen Turner (8)
55. Perfect Match - Jodi Picoult (7)
56. Eyes Like Stars - Lisa Mantchev (8)
57. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter (7)
58. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins (9+)
59. The Iron King - Julie Kagawa (8.3)
60. The Iron Daughter - Julie Kagawa (7.8)
61. Twenty Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler (9.2)
62. White Cat - Holly Black (8.2)
63. Beastly - Alex Flynn (7.8)
64. Crank - Ellen Hopkins (8)
65. The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller (6.8)
66. Story of a Girl - Sara Zarr (8.9)
67. The Scorch Trials - James Dashner (8.9)

+ others, I just got lazy and stopped updating this list... whoopsies.

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

Another challenge I will participate in is the 2010 YA Reading Challenge hosted by J.Kaye's Book Blog (blog link HERE) and the Challenge Post (HERE). There are over 200 participants!



Here are the rules:

1. Anyone can join!!
--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:
--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.
--Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.
--Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.
--Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

3. Audio, eBooks, re-reads all count.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

6. Sign up at the Mr. Linky (HERE)

****You do NOT need to review your books. That is optional.****

~oo~

Excited?? I am! I will post a list (and link it) when 2010 rolls around. I hope some you guys will do it too, it seriously sounds like fun. I want to finish at least 50 YA BOOKS, wish me luck!

--AyC

Monday, December 28, 2009

"but that's What i liked About It!"

Warning: Random post at 1 in the morning that has little substance and will lack cohesion.

So I was reading (aka stalking) some book review blogs, along with reviews on various books on amazon.com, and I found something that greatly interested me. And this idea is by no means unique, it's just that I felt now was a fun time to write my thoughts about it.

The idea is hard to word properly, but it's basically: One person dislikes something about a book(s), series, or author(s) for a specific reason, yet another person likes those books for those exact reasons.

A really big/main/obvious example is Sarah Dessen. Anyone see that coming? It's what a few people call the Dessen 'formula', and the reason all her books are so successful is because they follow the integral formula that is essentially the same for the majority of her books (minus Dreamland). It is the girl with troubled life &/or troubled family goes through self-growth with the help of a dream boy (sa-woon, lol), included are metaphors, cute scenes, and again, amazing boys.

Now, I am on one side of the fence saying: but that's what is so great about her books! She manages to write a captivating story with a lovely storyline and never fails to make me smile. The books are similar and I like that because the similar aspect (ie the formula) is just so swoon worthy. I like the fact that all the boys are so dream-esque (Eli, Wes, Dexter, etc). I like the fact that the girl and the boy don't coast through with the perfect relationship, I like the fact that the girls are sometimes insecure but still realistic. And above all, I don't mind that the books are similar. Would I like something refreshingly new the next time around? Sure, but continue down this path and I won't complain too loudly either. Anyways, I think her books get better because her writing improves. The books are still charming, fluffy, romantic, and they make me smile.

Yet on the other side of the fence are people yelling: "It's getting boring! Write something new! Have a new plot! Different characters! The formula is getting old, and Dessen fails to recapture the essence of her earlier books!" A perfectly reasonable complaint, just one I don't agree with.

The bottom line is: this is all perspective. Your opinion. Do you like the formula? I do. But you might not, and you're entitled to your opinion. And in these cases, no one is wrong, because a review is an honest opinion, right?(what an awkward sentence...) That's why the Dessen book reviews on my site are positive: I like the stuff she writes; but on other people's blogs, they will be negative because the reviewer thinks the formula is old and boring.

My question to you is: Do you like the "Dessen formula" or would you prefer something completely different?

-AyC

Sunday, December 27, 2009

BR: Hate List


by Jennifer Brown

Well, it all started when Khy at Frenetic Reader wrote about how ah-mazing the book was, so I had to pick it up. I mean, it got a 9.5/10!

Hate List is about the aftermath of a school shooting. A school shooting that killed 6 people. And the shooter was Valerie's boyfriend, who targeted students that were on a 'hate list' that Valerie created and helped write. 5 months after the incident, Val returns to high school for her senior year, unsure of what will happen, but knowing she will be hated by the majority of the school population because of the list, despite the fact that she helped stop her boyfriend, Nick, and got shot and wounded in the process. Valerie's view on people and life changes as the novel goes on, and she struggles to move on with her life.

I really really really liked this book. The three things I usually comment on is the plot, characters, and writing, and Hate List certainly excelled in all three. The plot was character-driven, and was heartfelt, genuine, and interesting. Being so focused on characters though, it wasn't mind-blowing, but was satisfactory.

The characters were really what made the book, and I could go on and on about how well the author fleshed each one out, with so much depth, honestly, and realism. Valerie in particular was so well written, and so heartbreakingly honest in her narration, from her memories of the day at the shooting, her memories of Nick (the good ones), to her experiences at school wanting to alienate herself. She was surprised as anyone when Nick turned a gun on the school, but she still struggles to cling on to the Nick she knew, the romantic one who hated his life but loved her all the same. Nick isn't just an "object" in the book, he is well developed and while hated by most, his motivations and history are supplied as well. I also liked how Valerie used art as an outlet. Her guilt is sometimes overwhelming, as she blames herself for the list, and not knowing what Nick was planning. When she thinks about the shooting sometimes, she ponders why it takes something as extreme as 6 deaths for bullies to stop bullying, and people to respect one another. I really agree with her, and I wish I had time to quote it for you. It's things like this that makes this novel make you think.

I also really liked the supporting characters like Jessica, the blonde who was on the list but Val saved, and how she tries over and over to befriend Val. Even the kids who hated her, from Stacey (her ex-bff) and Duce to Meghan and Ginny who each have a story to tell and had their lives changed on the day of the shooting. Both likable and unlikable characters are in the novel, and I didn't find any of them stereotypical, which is awesome.

Another aspect I really admired in this book was how Brown didn't completely focus on the shooting; she included family conflicts as well. Val's parents are on the rocks (treacherous rocks), and she doesn't know how to handle the secrets that come out. I did love her brother, Frankie, though (and I liked Val's psychiatrist).

Interspersed through the novel were snippets that recapped the scene on May 2nd, the day of the shooting. Whether they were flashbacks or newspaper clippings, each one of them contributed to the plot and back story. I did hate the reporter though. The writing itself is decent, but I didn't like the pacing at all. It seemed the first half of the novel was about the summer up to the first few days back at school. Then school flies by so quickly, with parts dedicated to specific scenes. I thought the author could have balanced it out a bit more.

I thought the ending (grad scene) was okay, it fit the book and had a lot of potential. There were bits in there that made me tear up :o, so get your Kleenex ready.

Like I mentioned before, this book makes you think about life, and is by no means a fluffy book. It delivers a strong theme about seeing the good and bad in people, how we see what we want to see, how everybody is both good and bad. Nobody is completely evil-there was a softer, better side to Nick; there is another side to the people Val perceived as bullies; there was another side to the girl Val thought was her best friend. It also made me think about how bullying is handled in schools, and as much as it saddens me to say, not enough is being done to deal with it. All it takes is a student snapping, drawing a gun, and ending the bright futures of his or her tormentors. There should never be a time where a student, or even a person reaches this breaking point.

8.9/10 - because I really liked everything about this novel, and the only thing that stood in it's way from reaching a 9 is the choppy pacing and (tiny tiny) predictable-ness, but that is my opinion only. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a more thoughtful book, one that deals with darker issues and has an amazing, flawed, but strong protagonist.

-AyC

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: The Book Depository

This one will be short, don't worry. It's about the website: http://www.bookdepository.com/, and my opinion about their service.

The first time I used this service, I did NOT have a great experience. Books arrived extremely late, although I will say that contacting them was a great idea as they were prompt with their responses and very helpful.

After a tentative break (because of this hassled first experience) I tried ordering from them again, and I would say that everything went smoothly. I got my books on time (within the 7-10 business days promised when shipping to Canada) and I've ordered from them numerous times since. I have had a GREAT experience ever since.  The prices are much cheaper and the shipping could be questionable times (say 15 days to ship instead of 10; however, I would say given the great prices and free shipping it provides, it is still worth it.

I WOULD recommend using The Book Depository. Very good prices and FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING.

9/10

Friday, December 25, 2009

which book Do You want Me to Review?

First: MERRY CHRISTMAS! and Happy Holidays to all. Don't drink too much and try not to be run over by a reindeer.

I've recently finished two books in the last two days, and since I am incredibly lazy, I only want to write a single review which will probably end up with me going on and on and blabbering about tiny insignificant stuff. So the books I read were:

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
&
Hate List by Jennifer Brown

You have three choices for what I will do: (Comment comment comment!!)

  • A single review for Hush, Hush (8.7)
  • A single review for Hate List (8.9)
  • or a mini-review post on both books

(If you haven't noticed, I decided to try and incorporate a bit more colour into my blog, like with the words and stuff. A huge bunch of black words is a turnoff I think!)

Leave a comment please, telling me what you would like to see! If I get more than 2 comments, I'll review both ;)

-AyC

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Take Another Chance Challenge - Booklist

Click HERE for the original post, I hope this makes sense! This list will be updated if I find more books I'm interested in that fit the challenge. My possible choices are in BLUE! Books actually used are in GREEN!

The 12 Challenges

Challenge 1: Read Your Doppelganger (worth 1 entry)
Find an author who has either the same initials, the same first name, the same last name, or the exact same name as you. Read a book by this author and write a post about it. (If you try to keep your identity anonymous on your blog, you don't have to reveal what part of the author's name is the same as your name.)
Example: If your name is Susan Kasischke, you might read a book by Stephen King (same initials), Susan Donovan (same first name), Laura Kasischke (same last name) or Susan Kasischke (same exact name).

Her Fearful Symmetry - AUDREY Niffenegger [okay, so I've tried reading it and it's really really hard to get into. Plus it's such a long book and I'm starting to lack incentive... time to find another doppelganger I think]

Heist Society - Ally Carter
(initials AC)


Challenge 2: Blogroll Roulette (worth 1 entry)
Find a blogroll at either your book blog or a book blog you like that has at least 15 book blogs on it. Go to Random.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1 for the min. and 15 for the max. and then hit generate. Then find the blog that is that number on the blogroll you selected.
(For example, if you get 10 at Random.org, then count down the list of blogs until you get to the tenth one). Go to that blog and pick a book to read from the books that they have reviewed on their blog. Read it and write a post about it. Be sure to link to the blog post you picked the book from!

I will probably use a blogroll from The Story Siren since, let's face it, it's miles long. I just used the first 15 though. Random.org gave me #15 (Bloody Bookaholic).
The book I chose to read was:
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Challenge 3: 100 Best Book (worth 1 entry)
Choose one of the lists below and go to the link provided. Choose a book to read from the list that you haven't read before. Read the book and write about it.
Radcliffe's Rival 100 Best Novels List
Top 100 Sci-Fi Books
100 Best Romance Novels of the 20th Century
100 Best Mystery Novels
100 Best Non-Fiction Books (pick from either Board List or Reader List)
2009 Best Books for Young Adults

Yes...most likely using the "2009 Best Books for Young Adults" because that's my favourite genre. So many choices!!! Maybe I'll even try some of the 'classics'.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2009 Best Books for YA list)

Challenge 4: Prize Winner Book (worth 1 entry)
Pick one of the major literary awards from the list below. Click on the link for the award you picked. You will find a brief description of the award and links to past winners. Pick one of the past winners, read the book and write about it.
Booker Prize
Caldecott Medal
National Book Award
National Book Critics Circle Award
Newbery Medal
Nobel Prize for Literature
PEN/Faulkner Award
Pulitzer Prize
Commonwealth Writers' Prize
EMMA Awards

Why isn't the Printz award there? It's the "best book for YA" award btw.
The Book I read was:

When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead (newberry)


Challenge 5: Title Word Count (worth 1 entry)
Go to Random.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the numbers 1 for the min. and 5 for the max. and then hit generate. Find a book to read that has that number of words in the title. Read the book and write about it.
Example: If you get 1 for your number, read a book that has a one word title. If you get 2, read a book that has a two word title and so on and so forth.
I just went to Random.org, and I got the number "1". I'll post possible titles later because I am LAZY!

Coraline - Neil Gaiman


Challenge 6: Genre Switch-Up (worth 1 entry)
Go to this list of book genres and pick a genre that you have NEVER read before. Find a book from that genre, read it, and write about it. Note: If you seriously cannot find a genre that you have never read, then pick the genre that is as far away from what you normally read.

Zan Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure - Allan Richard Shickman (indigenous people/prehistoric genre)

Challenge 7: Break A Prejudice (worth 1 entry)
We all have reading prejudices--authors we don't like, genres we don't like, or even publishers we don't like. For this challenge, think of a reading prejudice you have and then find a book that is an example of this type of book. Read the book and then write about the reading prejudice you had BEFORE you read the book and how reading the book either changed your prejudice or reinforced it.
Examples: I always say I can't stand James Patterson; therefore, I might read a James Patterson book for this challenge. Or, if you sneer at "chick lit" books, you might read a "chick lit" book. Or, if you think books published by Harlequin are pure drivel, you might read a book published by Harlequin. If you turn up your nose at the Twilight books, then you might read one of the Twilight books.

Genres I "swore" i wouldn't read: Graphic Novels
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi



Challenge 8: Real and Inspired (worth 2 entries)
Many authors or books inspire others to pay homage to them by writing another book inspired by the original work. For this challenge, read both an original work and a book inspired by that original work. Write about both books in one post. Note: This might require some research on your part and requires reading two books so it worth 2 entries.
Examples: Christopher Moore's Fool is based on Shakespeare's play King Lear so I plan on reading both King Lear and Fool. Another example is Jane Austen, who inspired the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. For this challenge, you might read both Pride and Prejudice and the zombie version. (There are tons of other Austen-inspired books out there too.) Another idea would be a graphic novel version of a "standard" novel. The only real requirement is that the "inspired by" book must clearly state what original work inspired it.

Challenge 9: Same Word, Different Book (worth 2 entries)
Find two books that have the same word in the title. Read both books and write about them. (Worth 2 entries because you have to read two books).
Example: If you pick the word "Love," you could read any two books that both have Love in the title. To help you find books that have the same word, you could go to Amazon.com, type a word into the Search box and see what books come up with that word.

The Iron King + The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa


Challenge 10: Become A Character (worth 2 entries)
For this challenge, you can read any book you want. However, you have to write about the book as one of the characters from the book. The character can comment on his/her treatment by the author, other characters, the "untold story," what happened next, and so forth. You could even have two characters interviewing each other! Your imagination is the only limit. Because of the difficulty level of this challenge, it is worth two entries.

I'm actually looking forward to this :o)

Challenge 11: All in the Family (worth 2 entries)
The writing gene often runs in the family. For this challenge, you need to find two authors from the same family (either by blood or by marriage) and read a book by each of the authors and then write about both books. Because of the research involved and having to read two books, this challenge is worth two entries.
Examples: The Bronte sisters; Stephen King and his wife Tabitha OR his son Joe Hill; Jonathan Kellerman (husband) and Faye Kellerman (wife); Michael Chabon (husband) and Ayelet Waldman (wife); Joan Didion (wife) and John Gregory Dunne (husband); Mary Higgins Clark (mother) and Carol Higgins Clark (daughter)

Liar by Justing Larbalestier and something by her hubby Scott Westerfeld (they are married? say WHAT? lol)

Challenge 12: Author Anthology Pick (worth 2 entries)
Find an anthology of your choice. Read at least 5 entries in the anthology. Of the 5 entries you've read, pick your favorite one and then find a book by that writer and read it. (If your first choice doesn't have a book, then pick your next favorite until you find a writer that has a book.) Write about the anthology, your favorite pick from the anthology, and the book you read by your favorite pick. Because of having to obtain and read two books, this challenge is worth two entries. Thanks to J.T. Oldfield at Bibliofreak who partially inspired this challenge.
Example: If you choose a poetry anthology, you would at least 5 different poems, pick your favorite, and then seek out a book of poetry by that poet. If you read a short story anthology, you would read at least 5 different short stories, pick your favorite, and then seek out either a novel or another book of short stories by that writer.

I will probably do either a short story anthology or poetry anthology, just because thos books are easier to find with least amount of effort. PS- I love Robert Frost poems :)

Well there you have it! As of right now, I only have like 1 book set out to read, but I hope to definitely add more later. Updated: 1/28/09

-AyC

Take Another Chance Challenge!!

Well, I found this challenge that looks really cool right [HERE] that I will be participating in! I have different reasons to why, but mostly because there is variety, choice, and it just sounds awesome. It's not too stressful and I have already started making a list of books that might fit which categories. The contest goes something like this:

Basic Information

The challenge will run from January 1, 2010 until December 31, 2010.
Here are the participation levels. Feel free to do whatever level you want. You can also switch up or down midway through the challenge.

A Small Gamble: Complete any 3 of the 12 challenges described below.A
Moderate Gamble: Complete any 6 of the 12 challenges described below.
Gambling It All: Complete all 12 of the challenges described below.

Each challenge you complete and link up in the correct Mr. Linky spots (which will be posted on January 1, 2010) will earn you entries into a prize drawing at the end of the challenge. Some of the challenges are harder and will earn you more entries. If you complete all 12 challenges, you will earn 5 extra entries into the drawing.

The prize is a book of the winner's choice from Amazon (worth $25 or less).
Crossover books from other challenges is fine.

So here are the 12 challenges for you to pick from. The "easier" challenges are listed first, followed by the harder challenges that are worth more entries into the prize drawing.


I think I will be aiming for 8/12, but hopefully the BIG GAMBLE...12 for 12! (doubtful!)

I will make a list of possible books sometime later (dont you love all the free time you have during winter holidays??) and will hopefully keep you posted through the 2010 year.

Wish me luck!!

-AyC

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BR: Fire


by Kristin Cashore

I have been waiting for this for way too long. Too long. With super high expectations because everyone seems to like it. So I got it. and SQUEE. (and then I read it. and maybe I squeed again...)

Fire is a companion novel to Cashore's debut book, Graceling, and takes place in a fantasy land called Dells. Fire is a 'monster' human, who is exceedingly beautiful and can control people's minds-but is haunted by her cruel/evil/horrid father who basically helped destroyed the entire kingdom by manipulating the king and abusing his influential power. And after her father died, the new king (a better one) is left with a mess of a kingdom, with lords forming armies trying to fight for power. Don't forget the return of Leck...see where his story all started. Fire (the girl) needs to navigate through her troubled conscience in hopes of never becoming her father, yet she has to deal with politics, love, trust, and new friends.

Okay, I loved this book. I loved so many aspects of it- the main one is it lived up to my heightened expectations, something I am always pleased about when it happens because it so rarely does. I also loved the writing- Cashore seems to be improving because her fantasy world is just as good, if not better than the one described in Graceling. I also loved the plot- so unique with the concept of Monsters (human and animal) along with the deal about the royal family (all of them!). I loved the action, the adventure, the romance, and even Small the horse. I don't want to give too much of the plot away except for the fact that it's wonderful.

But most of all, I loved the characters. Well, most of them. First, Fire is such a brilliant protagonist: flawed yet real in her own way. I will say it annoyed me a bit when there were so many (like tons, or maybe it's all in my head) where she cries, and cries, and cries (with good reason though!), but I understand that's just part of Fire dealing with her struggles and not everybody is superwomanly like Katsa. I empathized with her and the situation she had with her father- she can't help but love him despite all the cruel things she knows he had done. I even loved Archer, the best-friend turned lover turned "something else" and how unpredictable some of these storylines went. I liked King Nash (despite his, erm, shortcomings) and the twins, Hanna, Tess, and all these names I will list but you won't understand. Let's just say I liked a lot of the characters and the way they were developed and grew throughout the novel. I also loved Brigan. Seriously, swoon-worthy commander of the King's army. He plays a bigger role than I make it appear... ;)

I thought the mind-reading/compelling aspect of Fire's powers were really cool albeit it kinda reminded me of Po (not the compelling part) from Graceling, and sadly enough-Edward from Twilight. I really really liked Fire's struggle and fear of abusing that power, and internal conflict because of that. She doesn't want to turn into her dad, and fears if she uses her power for something other than self defence, she will become just that.

I did have some tiny thing I disliked, mostly about the Leck storyline. I think it was a bit underdeveloped, and could be a bit confusing- it should have either been fleshed out more or scrapped completely. He just kinda appears, then reappears and stuff.
Also, the romance between Fire and "??" (hehe, read it to find out who! so many attractive guys!) could have been a bit more developed as well. I didn't feel the few acts of kindness and conversations on the roof is enough to justify an I Love You at the end, but that's pushing it a bit. I just wished there could have been more scenes between the two love interests. I like how Fire stood up to "??" and demanded respect (this line can refer to more than one guy actually).

The odd names (this is a pointless comment) are a bit weird but I grew to love the names Archer (especially) Fire, Brigan, and even Nash. There are a few weird ones like Mydogg I didn't really like, maybe because I have no idea how to pronounce it!

9.1/10 - because it really was an amazing book, and I'm so happy I got to read it. The plot and characters are well written, exciting, and rarely slow-paced while the writing is mostly smooth. Some aspects like the ones mentioned above might have been written better. Why isn't this rating higher? I'm not sure actually, I just know that I loved the book but it wasn't love-love-love-love, it was just really good, plus I had some minor problems (the crying...) with it. There is also an almost-casual treatment of sex, so if that's not your thing...
I would definitely recommend this to someone who enjoyed Graceling, likes Tamora Pierce books, or fantasy in general. It will not disappoint!!

-AyC

PS- I also got Hate List and Hush, Hush in the mail today, which should I read next? I hope to post a review on those, but I dunno... I'm still expecting Beautiful Creatures and Let it Snow!
PPS- the US/Can cover is really pretty, but seriously, the UK cover is gorgeous!!! Google it! The one in this post is the US cover.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BR: Leviathan


by Scott Westerfeld

I picked up this book because 1) It's by Scott Westerfeld and I enjoyed his Uglies series 2) because of the hype and the fact that I buy into the hype 3) It's about WWI, which I enjoyed studying in school, 4) The cover is gorgeous, and 5) there were illustrations which I liked.

Leviathan revolves around, I dunno, 5 main things. Alek, the heir to the Austria-Hungary throne; Deryn, a commoner girl pretending to be a boy who flies with the Leviathan whaleship from Britain; Darwinists- the British who make genetically modified/fabricated animals as weaponry; Clankers- advanced machinery used by Germany and Austria; and lastly, WWI- which starts in 1914 and is now altered by Westerfeld because of the previously mentioned Darwinist beasties and Clankers.

Through some unlikely circumstances, Alek and Deryn's paths become interwined in the neutral Alps of Switzerland, with secrets on both sides and the constant threat of German attacks.


I'm going to first start off by saying I liked this book, I didn't really love it, I didn't really even like it, it was just good. I didn't hate it either, if you know what I mean by this really weird sentence. I was a bit disappointed because I really expected a lot more (see the 5 exciting reasons from above).

First, I felt it read more like a Juvenie Fiction book than a YA one, it was like constant action-action-action without much depth. The characters might have contributed to it because there could have been a lot more 'layers' to them, and the narration sounded a bit childish. This might be due to the parts with Deryn, and her poorer upbringing and uses of slang but I just felt overall, it felt more like a children's book. If I wasn't told Alek and Deryn were 15, I would probably have no trouble believing they were 13ish.

Second, there were a lot of parts that annoyed me. I think there was at least one point where every single character would grate my nerves, if it was Deryn's speech and actions or Alek's naivety and constant will to 'prove himself'. Honestly, It was mostly Deryn (who's 'boy' name is Dylan) and the way she describes everything using 'wee bit', swears using 'Blisters!' (that got really annoying), and explains every big thing as 'barking --'. Oh, and calling the animals 'beasties'. It just got repetitive and ughh.

Other minor characters like Dr. Barlow annoyed me. Yes, I do think I spent a lot of this book annoyed. I should have a ticker counting the times I'm using the word annoy in this review, seriously.

Third, the switching POV at the beginning wasn't as tastefully done as I wished it could be, yet I don't have any alternatives. Deryn and Alek are in completely different countries leading different lives at the beginning, so there isn't much the author could have done about it. When the two finally meet, the POVs started meshing better and made the story more interesting. The characters themselves weren't terribly deep, but they had their own flaws, insecurities, and all that jazz. They could get irritating at times but mostly, they were drawn out decently.

What I did really like about this story is the action-action-action. It was nonstop, and exciting, with the huge array of new ideas presented by Westerfeld, between the Darwinists' beasties and the Clankers, along with the whole new take on WWI. I thought the imagination put into this was splendid, and definitely worthwhile. The plot was definitely redeeming.

I loved the illustrations too, it added to the story as I had visual aid in imagining the Leviathan whaleship, characters, Clankers, and other events. It didn't take away from the story at all, and was very rich in detail and a peasure to look at.

8/10 - because despite many things I didn't particularly love about it, I felt it still conveyed the story it was intended to, and the plot was really great. The new premise of WWI was fantastic, and I guess I can forgive the characters' less-attractive traits. The story picks up after a bit of a slowish start. Give this a try if you like fantasy, war, adventure, action. There isn't much romance at all, and Leviathan is the first book of a series (it is very open-ended at the end).

-AyC

Thursday, December 3, 2009

so looking Forward>> to

I bought books again! Yes, another spree, this time I'm getting 5 books!!!!!

Oh my gosh, I am unbelievably excited, except for now is the time I obsess until the books arrive (got them from the Book Depository, I'll mention later whether or not I recommend their service since this is the first time I have used this website, but others have liked it).

Oh, and I was pretty excited to find they added CAD$, instead of just pounds and US$ and something else.

So I ordered (and yes, I realize some of these books are from earlier 2009):
  • Fire - Kristen Cashore (my friend promised to buy me this from the states except he bailed so now I'm buying it for myself..I know, about time I'm reading this!!!)
  • Hate List - Jennifer Brown (Yeah, a bit late, but it looks awesome and is so much cheaper online)
  • Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick (to be perfectly honest, I wasn't intending to get this and I already harbor some negative prejudice because of wrongful assumptions. I'm just hoping this will prove me wrong, I've heard both sides of reviews.)
  • Let it Snow - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle (it was only six dollars and I thought "it's holidays, why not?" which isn't very smart and will probably not be a good mindset for the future but what the heck. I love John Green and Maureen Johnson is funny!)

I also won a contest for a gift card from Carol and used it to get:

  • Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (yes, I'm the bandwagon hopper, I just bought into all the hype and had to see if it would live up to it. Plus, the 600 pages will be a nice filler for the winter break)

I wanted to get Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (squee!) but it was out of stock :(

All in all, I'm just uber-stoked for these books!! Can't wait, and I promise to review at least 2 of them!!

-AyC

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday's 3 Couples (2)

First, "Wednesday's 3 Couples" is an idea I came up with to help me regulate posts and encourage me to continue postinw without slacking (that much). It also allows me to share my love with couples I love in YA books. Leave a comment and tell me what you think of it! Oh, and feel free to copy it (not that anybody will...)


As I mentioned last week, this post is about characters in uniform (like police/army etc.) and the relationships they form. Who can see where this is going??




1. Taylor Markham & Jonah Griggs (On the Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta)
-raise your hand (unliterally) if you saw this coming! haha, you guys should know my love for Melina Marchetta's amazing book. Griggs is just so perfect for Taylor, and their history just makes the sexual tension that much more. He's always there for her, and I love that part (SPOILERS) where he's waiting for her at 2 in the morning because he knew she would leave to find her mother. That was just too cute. (Oh, Jonah is a Cadet, which is uniform...jsyk)

2. Meg & John After (Going Too Far - Jennifer Echols)
-With the entire book revolving around the tension and the evolving relationship between these too, it's hard to not include it. It's so well written (since everything is about them) without a big subplot so readers get to read about the developing romance astronomical amount of sexual tension.

3. Tonks & Remus Lupin (Harry Potter series - JK Rowling)
-Okay, we are counting Tonks as 'uniform' because she is an auror! Yes, that counts! I make up the rules :D Need I say more for this absolutely amazing couple? I love how it's Tonks who goes after Remus, not the other way around, and I love both their characterizations! I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and this is right up there with my fave couples (after Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione)

Next Week: It just didn't work out (yes, you know what I mean!)

Your favourite couples? Favourite pairing in HP? Oh, and any ideas for themes? Leave a comment!

-AyC

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movie Thoughts: The Proposal

Another movie "review". Just a heads up though, I will be the first to admit that I enjoy chick flicks a bit less than regular girls, and I'm not the hugest hugest fan of romantic comedies either. That being said, The Proposal was still enjoyable. I'm not including a summary or anything because I am lazy.

I didn't love love love it, I don't think I even loved it, I just liked it. It was maybe a bit above average.



What I liked: The humor aspect, Ryan Reynolds, the plot, the characters, and Ryan Reynolds. When I said I didn't like chick flicks, that didn't mean I don't enjoy my fair share of eye candy =P. The movie was funny. Like seriously, with the "stuck-up" Margaret (Sandra Bullock) who needs to marry Drew (Ryan-yummy-Reynolds) in order to prevent getting deported back to Canada - Where's the Canadian LOVE?!!?!- the characters are acted spot-on, with the perfect dialogue to keep it interesting and humorous at the same time. There were quite a few favourite lines, and favourite moments. You know how some movies are just trying to be funny? Well this one actually is, so that's good... Oh yeah, the fluffy white dog was adorable.

What I didn't like: The ending was a bit rushed, a bit meh. By the ending, I mean the part with Gamy at the end, btw. I didn't really like that, and I thought the conflict between Drew and his father was tied up too quickly and sloppily. To be honest, that particular conflict wasn't really drawn out very well, it was just 'there' to be resolved.

Bottom Lines: Watch the movie for laughs. And to admire Ryan Reynolds (I'm not even kidding, he is smoking in this movie. Must be the abs). Nothing too dramatic, nothing too serious, just a fun movie.

8/10 - where 7 is 50 First Dates and 9 is (500) Days of Summer.

-AyC

Friday, November 27, 2009

it's a quarter after one, I'm all alone...

It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone
and I need you now,

Said I wouldn't call, but I lost all control
and I need you now,

And I don't know how I can do without
I just need you now.

-Need You Now by: Lady Antebellum




This is my favourite song right now, it's a country song but I strongly strongly urge you to listen to it before forming conclusions. The melody, the harmony, and the lyrics are all so beautiful and mold together perfectly. This new band is definitely one too look out for, they already have a couple hits, I believe. This is my favourite song from Lady Antebellum so far :)

Here's a youtube link to the music video, check it out and give it a chance!!!

What are your favourite songs at the moment? I've got a couple other ones which I'll hopefully share on a later date!

-AyC

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday's 3 Couples (1)


Okay, so I've decided after a very short discussion with myself that I wanted to do something that will hopefully make me keep up with some regular posts. So, I came up with (after rereading a couple parts in various books) to write a small post about 3 couples in YA lit each week that I love/hate/have an opinion about.

This week, for celebrating week #1, I am going to do 3 Dessen couples because...let's face it, they are ususally the best!

In no particular order:

1. Remy/Dexter (This Lullaby - Sarah Dessen)
-Come on, the gangly musician with the hard-ass bitch who doesn't believe in love? This couple is so beyond perfect, and I heart Dexter.

2. Macy/Wes (The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen)
-I love the way Macy changes with Wes' help throughout the novel. It doesn't hurt that Wes is a serious heartbreaker, and is somewhat attainable, so his attractiveness is off the charts! Yes, I stole that from the book.

3. Auden/Eli (Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen)
-I actually love the insomniac aspect of AftR, and I love the night-time adventures between this equally-adorable couple. I love Auden's character, and how she 'gets back on the bike', and like practically all of Dessen's male leads, Eli is terrific. Yes, I used the word terrific (which I'm not particularly fond of) but that's how it is. Awww. <33

What are your fave couples? There are so many to choose from that I will never run out of ideas, I can schedule posts ahead, and I can moderately maintain some sort of structure for this blog! Oh, and feel free to go ahead and copy this (not that anyone will) if you want. :D

Next week: Uniforms (can you guess what I mean?)

-AyC

Monday, November 23, 2009

BR: Ballads of Suburbia


by Stephanie Kuehnert

I actually won this book from Stephanie during her Cyber Launch Party for the book, it was my very very first time winning anything, and it's only happened one other time since then... and I read the book quite a while ago (posted a mini review of it somewhere, I think). But... it was such a good book I wanted to write a full, "official" review of it, and hopefully spread the word!

Ballads of Suburbia is about Kara, who returns to Oak Park after a heroin overdose four years prior. She tells the story, or 'ballad' of her high school years (up to junior year) where she was brought into the the life of drugs, booze, and music while her family fell apart and her old life slipped away. She and her brother, Liam, find themselves hanging out at Scoville Park making new friends and trying new things. Kara writes about her experiences with the bad boy she fell in love with, a boy who hurt her in more ways than once, her crazy impulsive new friend Maya, and of course, her relationship with her family. Through it all, the music is always present, and so are the ballads of various characters integrated beautifully into such a raw book. Kara's gut-wrenching, honest narration will definitely invoke emotions in every reader.

I really loved this book, and for many reasons. Usually I comment on things like character and plot first, but I'm going to jump right in and comment about the writing. Stephanie Kuehnert's sophomore book (first book is I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone) is so beautifully written in such a dramatic manner than you can't help but be sucked in into Kara's life no matter how gruesome (kinda exaggerating) it is. "Ballads", which are basically short stories and confessions relating personally to other characters are integrated so well that it contributes immensely to the novel and to character development. You see the motives behind characters that you can't help but judge. For example, here is a tiny example:

He rolled his eyes and took me straight to the shrink, who recommended more meds, family therapy, institutionalization if need be. But I do what I want.
The one good thing about coming from no one is there's no one to answer to.

The writing is so very impressive and the 'harsh realities' are not sugar-coated, glorified, or handled in a bad way. Kuehnert turned the plot which is dark in itself, into a story that can even be interpreted as hopeful. The (constant) mentions of drugs and alcohol may be a turn-off for some readers, jsyk. Basically, the in-your-face prose that doesn't hide anything makes you do a double take on lives in the suburbia.

Now, the characters. I think I adored Liam the most, for the way he looked up to his big sister but ended up seemingly betrayed by everyone around him. He loses the 'puppy dog' effect though, yet it seems at time he is still soft and just lost. I thought the character of Kara's best friend, Maya, was well written as well. The character development is there, and these wonderful, flawed characters suck you into the story and prevents you from putting the book down.

I was never a big fan of Adrian (maybe it's the hair) probably because of his actions, or maybe just his influence over Kara who was just trying to escape her home and find herself. However, Kara is so well developed through her narration and through the story that I can understand and even accept her motives and her (however much I didn't support) admiration of Adrian. Adrian isn't the only boy in her life though, because there's Christian, the seemingly kind hearted boy who is just caught up in the 'life', but of course, there is more to it than that. Every character has their own flaws, and are extremely three-dimensional and well written. I can't say enough about it.

The plot in itself was interesting enough, but it may be the plot that makes readers dislike the book. It deals with a lot of those stuff that are frowned upon in society like drinking and drugs (lots, btw), and I find some people just dislike books like that in general. Personally, I have never done drugs or illegal things like that, so I probably can't relate personally to the issues shown in the book. I can, however, accept it as part of the plot and read about it without prejudice, while enjoying the book.

The 'scrapbooking' aspect, and the screen writing thing that Kara has going on is unique, and so is the "Ballads of Suburbia" notebook that defined and confessed the heartbreaking realities and moments that changed young, innocent lives. In fact, I think the Ballads were one of my favourite parts.

Lastly, just a heads up, this is more of a "mature" book, and includes things like: drinking, drugs of all kinds, self-mutilation, and abuse. I wouldn't recommend teens under 14-ish to read this book.

9.3/10 - because I basically loved the book. The writing, although the plot dealt with mature themes, was smooth and flowing, with just the right amount of edginess and power. The characters, although they won't necessarily be admired, were very well written and well developed (which is important!). If you want to enter the mind of a girl trying to find her way, fit in, and deal with life, yet not necessarily in the conventional way, try this book. I acknowledge this review isn't very good (I'm rusty!) but I just highly highly recommend this. The dark, desperate writing prevents sugar coating dealing with the problems we have in our society today, and the insight to the mind of a seventeen year old girl is no doubtedly powerful.

-AyC

PS- visit Stephanie Kuehnert's [website] & [blog]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Movie Thoughts: Star Trek

Hey guys, look, I'm updating again! Oh, and this is a Movie Thoughts as opposed to a Movie Review, because quite frankly, I don't watch enough movies to adequately be able to 'review' one. And my tastes are probably really different from yours.





So recently, I watched Star Trek when it came out onto DVD, and I have to say, I loved it. I have never seen any Star Trek previously, and had no idea what the heck would be happening, but I think the movie didn't require previous knowledge. You can go into the movie and still understand the storyline and hopefully enjoy it.

I thought the acting was superb, with the Russian Chekov guy (who is rly cute, seriously!) to Spock (Sylar from Heroes, sorry, I suck with actors' names!) and James Kirk (Chris Pine, which I do know now..). Nero the antagonist was portrayed very well, as were the other characters like Sulu and Ahura. (sorry for typos).

The special effects were also fantastic, with so much action and explosions, your like HURRAY, but it's not so much that it is nothing but explosions, it actually manages to carry a really interesting plot. I also really enjoyed the humor in it, Kirk's womanizing ways and Scotty the warp-calculator-person. Some of those lines made me burst out laughing :)

So all in all, it seriously surpassed my expectations (yes, I prejudged it to be a film aimed only for trekkies and nerds and I feel ashamed for that). Watch it, I don't think you'll be disappointed!

9.2/10 (where 10 is Lord of The Rings 3, and 9 is The Dark Knight)

Again, these are my honest opinions, so I'm sorry if, say, you hated Star Trek but loved The Dark Knight...

-AyC

BR: Leftovers


by Laura Wiess

I have previously read her first novel, Such a Pretty Girl, and liked (but not loved) it. I've heard her this book would be just as edgy, and just as good, if not better than her first. Also, the cover is simple but pretty, dontcha think? So I put it on hold at the library, then I read it all in one sitting.

Leftovers is a book about two girls, Ardith and Blair, who need to navigate their troubled lives, both supporting one another and just trying to survive by themselves. They commit an 'unforgivable act', and through this novel, you find out what drove them to such extreme measures from them, firsthand. QUOTED FROM BACK: "You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by adults around her as damaged goods. A girls who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?"

I had to reread that summary when I first got the book, it's incredibly gripping, entrancing, and powerful, not to mention it invokes so many different emotions, making me think about it even before beginning the novel.

I really really liked this book. It was so raw and emotional, and some may disagree, but I am mostly on the girls' side for their actions. Some say it may be pushing it, but what can you do when practically everyone is pushing you more and more into a corner but push back? And push back hard enough to actually make a difference? I won't spoil what they did though.

I thought having the girls come from completely different families was utilized excellently by Weiss, whose writing I'll comment on later. Instead of girls sharing the same horrible experiences, they share different horrible experiences, as they seek 'respect' from school, and respect from the people around them. They are sick and tired of either being pushed aside or being pushed around. Blair's parents are constantly absent workaholics who forced her to move into a huge empty house. Ardith's house is the party house where her brother and parents don't know how to grow up. Horny and perverted boys are constantly at her 'home', and even her father feels up anything with breasts. The lock on the door and the screwdriver under the pillow is a must for her.

Blair is eventually prohibited to talk to Ardith after a negative first impression that Blair's mother thinks will be negative to her up-and-rising reputation as a lawyer. Needless to say, the girls' lives at home is unbearable. I don't want to spoil too much of the book so I won't include too many plot points.

The writing, however, I can comment on and I can say it is so strong and in your face you almost want to take a step back. There is no ignorance, no sugar coating, it is a direct and powerful perspective of two girls who are 'sick of it'. I am impressed by how Wiess could make the two voices to distinct yet equally enticing (weird word to use in this case). Here's a quote that I really really liked:

See, guys freak out. They hit critical mass and blast nuclear, white-hot anger out over the world like walking flame throwers.
But girls freak in. They absorb the pain and bitterness and keep right on sponging it up until they drown.
Maybe that’s why nobody’s real worried about girls going off and wreaking havoc. It’s not that the seething hatred and need for revenge isn’t there, hell no. It’s just that instead of erupting and annihilating our tormentors, we destroy ourselves instead.
-Leftovers pg.3

See what I mean?

There wasn't much I didn't about the book, but readers beware: there are mentions of drinking, drugs, and rape. More than 'mentions' in some cases. It deals with dark issues and difficult circumstances, just so you're aware.

8.9/10 - because of how well written and powerful this book is. It makes you think of the way people can be treated, yet still try to maintain hope. No, this isn't a particularly hopeful book, but it's emotionally gut-wrenching and gives devastating insight to what we consider leftovers of society. I would recommend this to someone more mature because of the mature themes. I could compare this to Ballads of Suburbia, but not really, if you know what I mean. Yes, I realized I overused the word 'powerful' in this review, sue me.

-AyC

BR: Shiver


by Maggie Stiefvater

I picked up this book because of all the amazing reviews of it. I wasn't too keen of the "very central romance" but I wanted to give it a chance.

Shiver is about Grace and Sam. Grace, the girl who was saved by a yellow-eyed wolf when she was attacked by a pack. She has been watching 'her wolf' for years now, and has fallen in love with him. Sam is the wolf, who feels the connection with Grace from the moment he saw her reading on the tire swing, about to be attacked. He has never ventured too close, but he has always been there. Until he disappears in the summer that is. As you guys have figured out, Sam turns into a human when it's warm out, but in the middle of Oct/Nov (I forget!) he turns into a human and meets Grace. It may be Sam's last time as a human before he permanently turns into a wolf, so together, they must fight against the cold to preserve their love.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post how much Grace irked me in the beginning chunk of the novel. I still agree with my opinion: I didn't like how fast they 'fell in love' and how Grace acted when she and Sam got together. Plus, I also found some kinda-plot holes that bugged me (and I'm sure many people probably already mentioned..), Grace is locked in the car in a searing heat when she's 11. Uhmm, when you're 11, I really hope you know how to unlock the doors and open it. Yeah....

Apart from that, I also found Grace's love for the wolf a tad creepy. She's like "in love" with the wolf, not just fascinated. I could understand fascination, interest, maybe even a tad obsessed, but she's seriously "in love" before she even knows that it's a human. I'm not sure how Sam can just fall in love with Grace for so long when he has never really met her. Or talked (granted, wolves can't really talk) to her. It's like completely based on sight, like a crush on the gorgeous cheerleader you never talk to. What I don't like is how Sam is in love with her without even getting to know her. Who knows, maybe when the cheerleader opens her mouth, she turns out to be a total bitch or maybe really dim. You can't know just by watching.

I will say, I really like Stiefvater's idea for the premise of the story, with the temperature determining the shapeshifting of the wolves. It was a clever idea, and I liked how they would blast the heat, and bundle up. I didn't like, however, the fact that 'to share the heat', they slept in the same bed. On the first night. Grace, it's a bit weird, letting the boy you met 24 hours prior sleep in the same bed with you, not to mention creepy and to push it, icky.

It did get better, I think, during the end when actual action was happening. Through the middle chunk of the book, the romance was so sweet and syrup-y, with so many cute moments that I just kinda wanted to groan. The ending when Grace actually proves to not be helpless and dependant, as she fights to save Sam. I thought the "cure" was...meh.

Minor characters were interesting in their own right, but since Grace is so very focused on her newfound boyfriend, I feel like I didn't get to know them as well as I could have. I thought the flipping POV were cool, because it carried the plot instead of just having the same scene from two different points of view. I think I liked Sam's voice a bit better, I don't really have a great reason why.

One thing I did like with the book, however, was the writing. It was definitely well written IMHO, quite lyrical with pretty descriptions and very elegant prose. I enjoyed that aspect, while the dialogue felt a bit pushed.

8.2/10 - because I wasn't a huge fan of the 'very central romance', or some of the character's actions. I apologize if I come off sounding mean or judgmental, I'm just typing my thoughts so I might not have used enough evidence to back up my opinions. Leave a comment if you seriously disagree and I'll do my best to justify myself. I did, however, like the premise and the writing. The ending part of the story was quite enjoyable as well. Minor characters could probably have been fleshed out more, but I understand that the story is Sam and Grace. There is a sequel coming out next year, Linger, which has a gorgeous cover (like this one!) which I think I'll read. I'm not desperately waiting for it though. I would recommend this to people who enjoy romance, Twilight, werewolves, and... yeah, romance.

Also, I'm sure a bunch of you will disagree, so feel free to leave your thoughts on the novel!

-AyC

a Bit Off topic, short stories Anyone??

First, I just wanted to say yesterday I finished The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, and it was really good. It's been around for a while, and theres like over 200 reviews on Amazon so I won't be posting a review since I don't really feel I have anything unique to say apart from agreeing with people who loved it. Yes, I loved it (Rating 9.1) and would definitely recommend it. It's sad, hopeful, unique, and a whole array of other adjectives. I teared up, I got angry, I got frustrated, it was just a great read.

Okay, so for school, we have to create a mandella (basically a project) on 3 different short stories with the same theme. I've read a few different ones, but I haven't really found one I absolutely loved and adored, and definitely wanted to use. I think if I found "the one" I could center my project more around that, and use that theme as a central idea.

I was wondering, of you 7 visitors, do you have any short stories you recommend? I know, some people hate them, or haven't read them in 5+ years, but for those who remember a story they particularly enjoyed, please share! Some stories I liked are:
  • 'The Lottery'- Shirley Jackson
  • 'The Rocking-horse Winner'- DH Lawrence
  • 'The Darling'- Anton Chekhov
  • 'Miss Brill'- Katherine Mansfield
  • 'Harrison Bergeron'- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
And maybe a few others. I apologize if I have the author's names wrong, I am writing this from memory and somehow, Short Story authors don't stick with me as easily as novel authors.

Also, feel free to share some ideas for themes (love, death, innocence, society, etc.) that you think could be used in a project in an interesting way. I'm not a huge fan of romance, and I like irony in stories, along with maybe a bit of sadness...

What is your favourite short story?

-AyC

Saturday, November 14, 2009

currently Reading

Honestly, I was never one to read multiple books at once, yet I find myself doing just that at the moment. It seriously surprises me, but not so much because I guess none of these books are specatacular enough to finish in one sitting. Short attention span, so I go to the next book.

So, the books I'm currently reading are:

13 Little Blue Envelopes- Maureen Johnson (It's okay right now, not very funny, not very interesting, not amazingly written. On track for a 7/10)

Evermore- Alyson Noel (I actually won't be finishing this one. I really really don't like it, I dislike the plot and the characters, but the characters especially, ahem, hello Mary Sue? Got a 4 from me)

The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger (It's not as great as I hoped it would be, but I will finish after reading some other stuff. It's pretty obvious it's a bit more of an 'adult' book than a YA, but I already knew that going in. It can be a tad confusing with the timetraveling, but not impossible. on track for an 8)

Shiver- Maggie Stiefvater (Not a huge fan right now- see previous post, but I think I'll finish it. I don't like Grace's character and actions, and Sam seems 2-D, not to mention weird/obsesive/uhhhh. On track for a 7.5)


The order I think I'll read these are: Shiver, 13 LBE, Time traveler's Wife. Evermore won't make the list.
And I bought Just Listen and An Abundance of Katherines because they were on sale and I really enjoyed them :)
A Great and Terrible Beauty is sitting on my bedside table, I've read like the first 4 pages five times and I still can't get 'into' it. Does it get better??

What are you currently reading?

-AyC

my Thoughts On: love in Books

First, sorry for the long wait, I won't promise lots of updates in the futures, it's just that this thought came to me as I was reading, and it's about how sometimes, love in books seriously annoys me, and yes, I have my reasons.

Okay, I was reading Shiver today (I haven't finished it, so all my thoughts are relating to the firs 215 pages I have read. SPOILERS WILL BE INCLUDED)

1st thing I hate: Books that portray love ridiculously unrealistically.
Love at first sight is a total bleh. It is alright to use it as an excuse for mutual attraction because the guy and girl are no doubtly gorgeous, but seriously, when you have something like Edward falling in love with Bella after a sniff, and Grace falling in love with Sam when he's shot, it's just not like that. Okay, so Grace has loved "Sam the wolf" for years, but honestly, that's a bit creepy and a tad disturbing. I don't care about his yellow eyes, because my cat has gorgeous green eyes and I'm not unhealthily obsessed with him. He's a wolf. He's not a person, and you haven't done anything but stare at him. I'm sorry, I fail to see where the love comes from.

If not "love at first sight", how quickly the love develops.
Guys, you don't fall in love with a person in two days. I'm not even kidding, you can be physically attracted to someone, you can lust after someone, you can crush on someone, but you don't fall into the "love" you claim you do...especially after only a few days. You lie to yourself, and tell yourself you know everything about that person. How? In two days? Not to mention one in the hospital where he is taken after he's shot? I forgot to mention, you can also become obsessed with a person. Not love though. It just makes the character sound silly and immature, and I frankly don't care how greatly you describe your two-day 'vast love', it's just plain unrealistic.

If not the timing, how the female protagonist acts after "falling in love" (in a completely unrealistic time frame and unlikely situation).
The female protagonist becomes obsessed with this new found boytoy, and ignores everybody who was once important to her. How about Bella: after talking to Edward a few times, and claiming she is (completely and irrevocably) in love, she ignores all her old 'friends' who took her under their wing when she first came to school. She doesn't talk anybody much, and much prefers blowing everybody off to spend time with Edward. What about Grace? Again, she starts finding school completely useless and boring (true for almost every character in this position) compared to the time she can spend kissing Sam (I feel the physical attraction, yet where's the love?). All things important like best friends are pushed to the side, and return, she gets to kiss Sam (she never calls her 5-year+ best friends once. Not once after she meets Sam the human.) This kind of dependency annoys me because I, personally, like the strong female characters (Katsa and Katniss) who don't fall into pieces at the mere thought of their boyfriends leaving/shapeshifting. Yes, Grace bursts into tears when Sam is telling her how 'it's his last year'. More than once, I believe-feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I didn't read it as detailed as I could have.

I had a couple of friends/acquaintances who acquire boyfriends, and then act like Grace, blowing old friends off and spending every waking/sleeping moment with the boy. Wanna know a secret? After a while, these friends will stop forgiving you. They start getting annoyed. And when you break up and Facebook these friends to hang out cause you're lonely, can you guess what happens? Can you? Grace, your whole life isn't the couple months you spend with boytoy Sam. Think of the people who have always been there for you *cough*friends*cough* and maybe give them a call? I don't like how these girls throw everything away to be with the boy they just met a week ago.

And personally, I also don't feel the need to read constantly about your hopes of losing your virginity very soon. thanks, but no thanks.

Remember, all these opinions are my own, and I just kinda wanted to get them out there. I don't like how some authors (only some, very few actually!) turn their originally-likable female characters into blundering idiots "in love", and writing it not only unrealistically but annoyingly. Everybody wants to be like Grace, but have you ever thought what it would be like for Olivia and Rachel? Would you want to be those best friends that are cast aside simply because of a new beau? I have a cynical view on love, I admit it, and I'll also admit it influences me and my thoughts/opinions. And I haven't finished Shiver yet, so maybe I'm wrong in the end about Grace.

Your thoughts? I'll bet a lot of you disagree with me, so tell me!

--AyC

ps- When I write the words "unrealistcally" I'm not meaning the writing style, or how well the writer is protraying every kiss, touch, feeling etc. I'm just saying the situation is unrealistic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

books Since Summer challenge

Hey guys! As promised, here's a list of the books I've read so far, and their rating. Sorry, again, too lazy to link the books to amazon, or to other review sites. There's also my WISHLIST and my TBR books included.

Books Read Since Sept. 8, 09

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (9.2)
Dreamland - Sarah Dessen (8)
North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley (9.2)
Saving Francesca - Melina Marchetta (8.8)
The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown (9.3)
Suite Scarlett - Maureen Johnson (8)
Looking for Alibrandi - Melina Marchetta (8.7)
The Demon's Lexicon - Sarah Rees Brennan (9.2)
Maximum Ride 5: Max - James Patterson (7)
Sweethearts - Sarah Zarr (7)
Girl at Sea - Maureen Johnson (7.8)

As you can see, I read two other Melina Marchetta books, both which I liked a lot. Read these because I love Jellicoe (you should be able to tell by now...)
The Lost Symbol...SQUEE. Not as good as Da Vinci Code or Angels&Demons, but still very fast paced and adventurous with mystery.
Uhm, I've heard some good stuff about Maureen Johnson, and her books are mostly funny, but I didn't find them amazing or anything.
Sweethearts was forgettable, and I remember not liking the characters or their motivations.
Catching Fire- I liked Hunger Games more tbh, and I'm Team Peeta ;)
North of Beautiful - very good, highly recommend, and trust me, Jacob is sa-wooon worthy (despite being a asian goth guy with orange spiked hair who wears black eyeliner) trust me. But of course, much more to the book than Jacob...
I loved Nick in Demon's Lexicon. Seriously, that guy is like the ultimate sword-weilding bad boy. Sa-woon. It's a tie between Jacob and Nick... Oh, and the plot of the book is very unique and the writing flows. Couldn't put it down.
Maximum Ride seems to have lost its touch. Sorry. The kids don't seem that cool anymore, just a tad spoiled, a tad bossy, a tad immature, and quite bratty (to me).

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TBR Pile

The Shack - I keep putting this off because it seems really religous-y and sorry, that's not very appealing to me.
Prophecy of the Sisters - I've heard great stuff, it's sitting on the table beside me...I should really go read it.
Forever - by Judy Blume, I want to see what the 'hype' was about.
My Chemistry Textbook....

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Wishlist

Fire - Kristen Cashore (seriously wishing upon every 11:11)
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
Coffeehouse Angel - Suzanne Selfors
Cracked Up To Be - Courtney Summers
The Time Travelers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone - Stephanie Kuehnert
Hate List - Jennifer Brown
If I Stay - Gayle Foreman
Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green and David Levithan
[UPDATE: 1/3/10] I have gotten quite far along since this wishlist was created, and I am thrilled to say that the only books from this list I haven't yet gotten to read are: Coffeehouse Angel, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, and Will Grayson Will Grayson. That's three out of the original eleven :) Smiles for everyone.

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I know, I know, some of the books on my wishlist are old! But they're on there because my library doesn't have them and I've ran out of money to buy more books...thus a wishlist. Plus there is like one book that isn't out yet.

--AyC

Sunday, October 11, 2009

books that Grew on Me

Holy smokes, it's been forever since I've posted anything. I'm so sorry, I guess I just get caught up with school (horrible but true!) and homework, and now sports season is starting so I've got practices, and the list of excuses go on and on. Don't worry, this isn't just a post to tell you I'm sorry for not updating anything, it actually has a point!


As you can tell from the title, this post is dedicated to some books I've recently reread and found I like the that much more the more I read. It's like Harry Potter, I know everybody says they reread it all the time, but you don't understand, a couple years ago (around HP 5/6/7) I was SO obsessed I would always read a few chapters of HP before going to bed, and I would alternate between books, and reread them over and over and over again. I absolutely adored the series, and I still do, I just kicked the rereading habit because I realized there are so many amazing books out there not named Harry Potter. Anyone with this experience?


Anyways, there's been a couple books I've reread, though I'll admit, not front to back, word for word, but rather read large chunks, and I find myself 'absorbing' more and liking the story more and more.


First, theres On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It's my new HP, I'm not even kidding. It sits on my bedside table and I reread part of it every night, and so many weekend mornings. The more I read, the more I love, and I fall in love with the characters over and over again. I never really dedicated an "actual" review, I made a mini post, but I'll say it again, this is probably one of the best books I have ever read. I think I gave it a 9.4 on that mini review, but (cue the post title) it has totally grown on me the more I read it. In Love. Right now it's a 9.7. I love Taylor, the plot, the writing, everything is executed so gorgeously. And especially since the first time I read it, it was kind of a mystery with a slower beginning and a tad confusing, but since I understand it, my reading experiences just become that much better. Please read it, and not just once. Reread it, and I'll be you will like it more the second time around (and third...).


Second, there's Paper Towns by John Green . Now I really regret giving this a 8.4 (I think) on my very first "review" post, where I read the whole chunk of John Green books. After reading it the first time, I started watching vlogbrothers on youtube, and getting involved with the Nerdfighters, and just recently, I bought a paperback copy of the book to give to a friend for his birthday (I feel it's time to introduce him to the wonderful world of John Green's awsomeness). Of course, being the tacky person I am, I wanted to read the book before giving it away... so I did. And let me tell you, I enjoyed it so much more the second time. I really got more into the story, picked up on the 'inside' jokes (so much awsome!) and generally, I think I understood it a lot more than I did the first time. The themes, the mystery, Q and Margo, it was all much better. Now, It's a 9/10. I'm telling ya, it grew on me!

Third, there's Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert. I'm gonna keep the rating the same (9.3 is pretty high!) but just wanted to, again, re-recommend it. I felt reading it a second time still made it just as raw, angsty and powerful as the first time, and I hate to repeat this again but I felt I 'absorbed' more. Dude, I'm turning into a freakin sponge!

Well, that's all I have to say for now. In about 10 minutes, I'll be writing another post about some books I've read since my last review, but this time it won't be a mini review, just a title and a rating. Somehow...I have a feeling that that might change :P.

Sorry for being MIA for so long, no promises for future though :(

--AyC