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