Sunday, January 31, 2010

coming soon To this Blog (filler...)

I'm sorry I've been basically absent apart from some scheduled meme posts which I enjoy (Friday's Finest). I have had a recent trip to the library (w00t) and came back with loads of books. I've read perhaps five-ish (that's a lot for me, esp. with school and sports) this past week. I am not sure if you can expect full reviews about them, apart from the ones I am using for a challenge. Even then, I might not write a review because I am incredibly lazy.

However, you can probably start expecting another "Series Review", this time for the Study series by Maria V. Snyder (Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study). I have only read the first two and definitley have some opinions, and I also have Fire Study from the library which I will read when I can. Then I will write the series review, similar to the one I wrote about the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

I do believe I will be doing anothe post with a bunch of mini-reviews, then if inspiration strikes, I will write a full review for a couple of those books. Books you can probably expect mini-reviews from include:
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Cut
  • When You Reach Me
  • Fade
  • I Am The Messenger
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
No promises though! I will do my best to crank out a few more posts, I've just been really busy this week and I've got a unit test for school coming up (which I need need need to study for).

-AyC

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday's Finest (4)

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts.

Rules:
~Post a quote that really stuck to you after reading it in a book.
~Make sure it isn't a spoiler!
~If you'd like, expand on what you think it means and why you chose it.

Warning: the quote is barely spoiler-y, I think it's just insightful! I will be writing a review of the book when I have more time :P (I know...excuses excuses!

Book: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

Quote:
"I used to think the world was broken down by tribes," I said. "By Black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not."

-The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (p.176)

I have a lot of thoughts about this book, and I personally thought it was wonderful: funny, insightful, and still realistic and heartwarming. It tackles serious issues we face each day with a nice twist and sharp sence of humor. It's amazing how Alexie managed to make a wimpy 14 year old boy with a stutter, lisp, and huge nerd glasses seem appealing and absolutely endearing. Absolutely recommend this book.

Now about the quote: What do you think? Like it? Dislike? Also, if you were to hypothetically 'split' the world into two categories, what would they be? (like good people & Death Eaters...lol)

--AyC

Thursday, January 28, 2010

RIP J.D. Salinger

On Wednesday January 27 2010, 20th century novelist, JD Salinger died at the age of 91. He was the author of one of the most well-known books about teens, The Catcher in the Rye, which was written over 50 years ago. I read the book quite a while ago, but I still remember dear ol' Holden Caulfield and his hunting cap, Phoebe, and the phonies. An eye-opener for teen angst, to say the least.


Salinger's contribution and influence in literature is well known and widespread, and I can surely say he will be missed..


Rest In Peace


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Series Review: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

by Libba Bray

Books in Series:
#1- A Great and Terrible Beauty
#2- Rebel Angels
#3- The Sweet Far Thing

Go to the bottom of the post for a short-sweet-review. I'm saving you the trouble of reading a long long long post! haha, but I would love it if you read the whole thing ;)

Okay, so I know I've been incredibly lazy this month with getting around to writing reviews of any sort, it seems all I've been doing is writing filler posts and memes... I wanted to wait a while to write this review decently, because I have mixed feelings and thoughts floating around so I'll try to get this review right. Warning: huge huge post.

Summary: *includes spoilers!!!* (it's hard to summarize a series without spoilers!!) Taken from goodreads because I tried to summarize it but failed epically. I don't particularly like these summaries but it's the best I can find.

Book One: Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order.

Book Two: Set two months after, a new, mysterious teacher has arrived at Spence, three ghostly girls are trying to give Gemma a message, and Kartik tells Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic that she let loose when she broke the runes. But it is also Christmas, and Gemma is spending the holiday in London with her family. Felicity has invited Ann to spend it with her family, enabling them to take trips back to the Realms to look for the Temple.



Book Three *SPOILERS!*: It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father alaudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

*0*

Alright now my review as promised. I liked this series a lot. Quite a lot actually, but unfortunately I didn't love it. But this is a twisted sort of "I-don't-love-it."

Starting with the things I loved (so many!) is the world-building done by Libba Bray throughout the LONG series. Book #3 is over 800 pages, just a heads up. The gothic feel of the book was uncanny, and in my mind, it completely fit the time period. The descriptions were spot on and the realms were beautifully written. I especially liked how Bray would constantly have a steady description of the realms (no inconsistencies, that's what I meant) with the gorgeous, innocent clearing at the beginning, and steadily into the darker truths of the Winterlands. The creatures in the Realms were all developed reasonably well and I wasn't waiting for more.

Secondly, I loved the plot. It's so amazingly unique and original, with the magic and the realms, the groups in both the 'real world' and the realms fighting for power. Gemma's own struggle with her identity, and with her trust and power. I can't say enough of the plot and how good it was.

Now reading the past two paragraphs, you are probably wondering: "you are gushing so much about this series, why is it only getting an 8.8??"

Well, good question and this is the part where my own opinion overrules the book's actual intentions. It only got an 8.8 because I didn't like the characters. They annoyed me to no end, and it almost ruined the book at times because I wanted to strangle so many different characters. Does the fact that the characters were so well written I wanted to strangle them make the book "good"? Yes. It means the character development was there, and the writing was good. It also meant most of these characters seemed realistic, yet they were goddamn annoying. Rant time.

For example: Gemma. She is at times selfish, stubborn, and stupid. This annoyed me, like whenever she does stuff for herself rather than for the 'good of the people/realms'. Whenever she caves to the peer pressure. Whenever she does something stupid to either prove herself or prove a point. Then again, isn't the selfishness realistic for a 16 year old girl? Does a girl in her position want to be bossed around by 'people who know better' or does she want to do whatever the hell she wants? Gemma chose the latter and at times I was on her side, but at other times I wasn't. It's like a love-hate relationship.

Another example: Felicity. I was seriously waiting for her to turn into the next Circe. I'm not kidding, she tells us all her deepest desire is to be powerful; isn't this evil-person alert? And Gemma always trusts Felicity even when her reasoning is susceptible, so this annoyed me. Felicity, in her path to find power and glory, has the insecure side to her too, another good example of character development. I won't spoil it but basically you can't help but sympathize with her at times, and hate her at other times. I questioned her loyalties throughout the entire series, to be honest. I guessed her secret with Pippa pretty early into the third book, and liked how Libba Bray included it.

Another example: Ann. OMFG. She is the scholarship kid who is picked on, has no backbone for over 1000 pages, woe-is-me attitude, and a feeble personality. Her greatest desire is to beautiful. The lackage of spinal cords in her body is what really made her annoying, she never ever ever ever stood up for herself until sometime in the end of the last book, and never stood up for her friends, or to her friends either. She's content with being pushed around and pities herself in private. She is okay when only in the company of her friends, but whenever she is, say, in a class, at the school, around other people, she becomes a weak person who is scared of everything. She can sing though, and her ending is kinda predictable. And I guess she gets a bit better throughout the novel but it takes a hell of a long time.

-
Rant done.

I thought I might comment on the "twist" ending for the series. Some people cried, some people were outraged, some people hated it. I thought it was good, personally. I appreciated Libba Bray in that she didn't pull a "Breaking-Dawn-perfect-ending" and that she was willing to kill off beloved characters. I was saddened by the ending and wasn't really sure if it fit, but thought it was a good twist nevertheless. I thought the brief glimpse of the girls' futures were nicely done.

To close off the long review, I thought of another aspect I loved. The mystery. It was built up nicely, wrapped up nicely, but kept you hooked throughout the entire series. The sub-plots were interesting and engaging as well, along with the minor characters. There is so much more I can say about this (it feels like I'm making one of those thank-you speeches and I'm running out of time but I still have so much to say!)

The reason the series gets and 8.8 is because despite all the wonderful writing/plot/world/mystery, the characters just ughhh. I spent a LONG time annoyed throughout the book and since it's a long book, that isn't a good sign. The annoying-ness of the charaters justified the rating for me, becuase if I'm annoyed, I'm not enjoying the book, and the rating is based on how much I enjoyed the book. Capiche?

Series Rating 8.8/10

Individual book ratings:

Book 1 A Great and Terrible Beauty: 8.7/10
Book 2 Rebel Angels: 8.8/10
Book 3 The Sweet Far Thing: 8.8/10

Overall thoughts in less that 10 sentences: The series is highly recomended for those who enjoy historical fiction, it has a wonderful blend of mystery, magic, romance, and drama, and it is well written as well. Characters are realistic, both the major and minor ones albeit they may get on your nerves. The plot is ambitious but pulled of very nicely, and the conflicts between the good people and bad people actually had depth. The setting is described marvelously (omg, I hate that word!) and the ending was fulfilling. An overall great series I recommend to all!!!

--AyC

PS- tell me if you actually read the majority of the post ;) and tell me if you didn't! haha
PPS- I LOVE the covers for all three books. The girl in the corset is fitting for the novel, the time period, and the character!
PPPS- whoa, lots of tags!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday's Finest (3)

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts.

Rules:
~Post a quote that really stuck to you after reading it in a book.
~Make sure it isn't a spoiler!
~If you'd like, expand on what you think it means and why you chose it.

I'm already deviating from the "books" rule...haha (sorry!!). The following clip is probably one of the most inspiring segments I've ever seen and heard. It occurs during a pep talk during a football game, but it doesn't only apply to football, this quote and this clip applies to life.
Last thing-- Al Pacino equals love.

Movie: Any Given Sunday (1999)

Quote/clip: *Warning: 1 swear word used*



If you don't want to watch the 4 minutes that just might change your life, I advise you to start watching from 1:48 to 3:20.
But seriously, please watch the clip, it's one of my absolutely favourite non-book quotes. My basketball coach played this clip for the team when we went into an elimination game as underdogs, and we won that game (I doubt it was entirely because of the clip, but it helps!).

Leave a comment telling me what you think. Is life just a game of inches? The six inches in front of your face?

--AyC

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Printz Award Winners 2010

Well, earlier sometime this week (I think) the Michael L. Printz Award (awarded for excellence in Young Adult literature) were announced so...

Congrats Libba Bray! Her book, Going Bovine, was announced as the winner!

Honourable mentions went to:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith - by Deborah Heiligman
The Monstrumologist - by Rick Yancey
Punkzilla - by Adam Rapp
Tales of the Madman Underground: A Historical Romance 1973 - by John Barnes

~*~

So while I haven't yet read Going Bovine because I thought it might be too weird, I just can't refuse it anymore. In fact, it is on hold at the library right now! I just need to get off my fat lazy arse and go to the library to pick it up.

People sometimes complain about how winners are chosen, because the award is based on excellence in literature. I think the process is most likely fair, and the selections will probably be worthy (but I haven't read any from this year, so I can't say for sure). However, there has been a few Printz books in the past that I thought were meh, with a mediocre plot and mediocre writing. Some might say: "let the young adults choose" and then we can reply: "They already have! They chose Twilight!" and then a few people, me included, hang their head in shame. When they chose Paper Towns for the Top Ten Books 2009, I was delighted though, so it's all relative!

To be perfectly honest, despite my liking for Printz books, I doubt I will read a book other than Going Bovine, those titles (ouch, I'm basing books by their titles now?!) are just not so appealing.

My question: Have you read any books that have won the Printz award, and were they standout books or just 'meh'? Which books?

--AyC

PS- might or might not add links to various sites, depends if I want to put in the effort (I'm lazy!) or have the time (and busy!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday's Finest (2)

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts.

Rules:
~Post a quote that really stuck to you after reading it in a book.
~Make sure it isn't a spoiler!
~If you'd like, expand on what you think it means and why you chose it.


I know I already featured the following quote on my book review of the book (here) but I'm pretty sure like only one person read it, so this will still be somewhat new and unknown, if you know what I mean. I hope more people read this meme than they did my review, because this is definitely a quote worth remembering.



Book: Leftovers by Laura Wiess

Quote: "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 (p.3)

I wrote down this quote and saved it in a little file where I keep my favourite quotes. It really strikes me as something that is not only plausible but true. I could probably go on and on about this, but I'll leave it at that.

What do you guys think? True? False?

--AyC

PS- see all my "Friday's Finest" posts by clicking on the TAG in the sidebar or at the bottom of this post.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday's Finest (1)

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts.

Rules:

~Post a quote that really stuck to you after reading it in a book.
~Make sure it isn't a spoiler!
~If you'd like, expand on what you think it means and why you chose it.



Book: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray



Quote: "People have a habit of inventing fictions they will believe wholeheartedly in order to ignore the truth they cannot accept."
-Gemma Doyle (p.52)


Is this true? Leave a comment telling me what you think of this idea and quote, and don't forget to check out A Bookful of Thoughts, the people who started this exciting meme.



--AyC

Monday, January 4, 2010

filler!

Filler post today, guys! I've got a scheduled post for Friday and I doubt I'll update much before then.

Dear Gemma Doyle,

PLEASE STOP DOING STUPID THINGS THAT MAKE ME WANT TO STRANGLE YOU.

Sincerely,
Audrey

--

So, I've devoured the dear ol' Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray (actually, that's a lie. I'm only 400 pages into the last book. Thus my frustrations.)

I do want to write a review, perhaps a review of the series instead of the individual books--so spoilers galore! But then again, this series has been around for a while and I doubt I have that many original thoughts on it. Maybe a short post.

Do you want to see a review on the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, or individual book review? Or no review, just a shoutout and/or rant, depending if Gemma gets better. Leave a coment telling me what you want to see, and also, have you read the series? Did you like it? (don't worry, I fully intend on finishing it, she is not nearly unbearable, just strangle-worthy...)

--AyC

Friday, January 1, 2010

expect a Drop (of?...)

Happy New Year guys!! I hope none of you guys were falling over in the streets smashed and waking up with a dreadful hangover, but if you were..uhmm..I hope you had fun?

This post is just a heads up of sorts, there will probably be a drop in the number and regularity of posts on this blog, because school is starting soon and I really have to get my head together and work hard. "This is an important year!" all my teachers say. Plus I do afterschool stuff, and have bball way too many times a week along with plenty of other excuses that I don't feel are necessary to list.

I actually started a post where I was really enthusiastic and wanted to write all the upcoming fun things I was gonna add to the blog, but realistically speaking: I doubt it will happen, so I deleted that draft. I just don't have the time, and I don't really have the drive to dedicate 10 hours a week to blogging, like some bloggers I admire (you guys are amazing, seriously!!!).

I hope you (14 followers?) understand, and I wish you guys all the best on having better and more amazing blogs in 2010.

--AyC

PS- OMG 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS ARE SOOOOONNNNN. GOCANADA <33