Monday, September 26, 2011

BR: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

by Michelle Hodkin
Mara Dyer series; book I

Uhm… have you seen this book around?!?! And dude, it has one of the best countdown widgets I’ve ever seen (and probably the most popular one as well)

Summary (goodreads)

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

My Expectations: extremely high. Like I expected fireworks and all that.
Delivery: I’m a sad panda, I was disappointed and highly annoyed.
Put-down-ability: Does setting down the book to eye-roll count? But other than that, the writing is engaging 3.5/10

My Thoughts

I think I started twitching every single time the word beautiful was used to describe Noah. Remember how everyone mocked Stephenie Meyer for “chagrin”, “granite/marble/whatever”, “velvet”, “topaz/yellow/golden/butterscotch/rainbow colored eyes” to describe Edward Cullen? Well, in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer it’s “beautiful” and it’s one of those things that bugged me to no end. If I wasn’t twitching, I was eye-rolling or giving very heavy, exasperated sighs.

I don’t really know how to sort out my feelings but let’s just say, hypothetically, I split this book into 3 pieces. One piece is the mystery and the what-the-heck-is-going-on-with-Mara storyline. One piece is the subplots of school, family and all the woe-is-me that doesn’t fit into the second piece. The last piece is the romance storyline with Noah Shaw. And I was going to rate this.

WTF-ery + plot: 4.5/5
Subplots: 2.5/5
Noah/Mara romance: 1/5

So needless to say, I really, really enjoyed the bat-shit crazy stuff happening in this book and involving Mara. Okay, I’ll say it—the murders. Loved it, I loved how Hodkin created a tense atmosphere and the panic and the (sometimes too abundant) fade-to-black moments. It’s not really in the horror genre (I wonder why people say it is?) but anyways, it’s very well done. Every time something mildly ‘psychotic’ or just creepy happened, I was happy.

The sub-plots were average, though I will say the bright spots are her brother Daniel and her first friend at the cliché-boarding-school-with-cliché-blonde-antagonist, Jamie (and I was pretty upset when she didn’t even try to stick up for him in that one part.) I didn’t like the fact that there never really was a big climax at the end, or really any climaxes with the subplots. Things seemed to simmer then build a bit then… nothing much happens, the plot just moves on.

Oh then we move on to Noah. AGH. *headdesk* I’m SORRY but I just wasn’t a fan! Firstly, he just came off as too perfect. I strongly dislike perfect guys. It felt like the author was given a perfect-YA-boy-mold and spent three-quarters of the book sugar-coating his perfection (the constant mention of his appearance doesn’t help) and it’s just overdone. To me, he came off as hugely unrealistic, pushy (ie: “Have dinner with me” p116, ) and clingy (I will be with you every moment of every day forever and ever--paraphrased) and I hate pushy and clingy boys (in real life too!). At first, his whole ‘drop everything and start being the perfect guy’ annoyed me, but when it was explained (awesomely) I was glad. Every time he showed up I was just waiting for him to leave and for the Mara-mystery-plot to continue, though towards the last 50 pages, he did get a bit better. I get why people are swooning for him but he kind of drove me irrationally mental. I didn’t get much chemistry from Noah and Mara together, and I found Mara’s feelings really… clichéd. When she ‘declared’ her love for him, I audibly said “oh my god, shut UP” paired with excessive eye-rolling. It was unrealistic, I’ll be honest, it was the type of romance that I really don’t like and is far too common in the paranormal books I’ve read.

So yeah, I guess you can say my thoughts can be summed up by those 3 ratings above but also know that I actually had really high expectations going in to this book, which made it more of a disappointment than I think it would’ve been.

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: fans of paranormal-ish mystery! Actually, this one will probably be enjoyed by pretty much anyone—and it seems pretty much everyone will be reading this
Acknowledgements: I’m writing this review to late and I don’t have a copy :(

7.5/10 – because maybe I was hormonal or something but when I read it I just wasn’t a happy camper. A lot of little things grated my nerves and while the mystery and plot was extremely interesting, the romance just overwhelmed me. You ladies can have Noah, you’re welcome. I can definitely see the appeal of this book (and the boy) though, so I won’t hesitate recommending it to you guys.

source: publisher
author twitter / blog / website

Saturday, September 17, 2011

BR: Shut Out

by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF was actually one of the best debuts I read last year so Kody Keplinger has been an author I’ve been following for a while (I mean, she’s only like 19 or something!) I couldn’t wait to read her newest novel :)

Summary (goodreads)

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.

My Expectations: high but not extremely high. I wasn’t really sure of the premise but it sounded really interesting
Delivery: I feel like the author has already cemented her own style within the YA genre, as in the addictingly readable contemp novels.
Put-down-ability: when I say compelling and addicting, I mean I can’t put this down. 2/10

My Thoughts

Shut Out has a premise that makes you wonder how Keplinger thinks up some of these stuff (or, maybe it’s just my lack of knowledge—severe lack of knowledge involving all things Shakespeare [EDIT: MY BAD, it's definitely not Shakespeare, I will be blaming the altitude of the flight in which I wrote this review, but honestly, MY BAD. My apologies, and thanks to casey for pointing it out]) but anyways, it’s based on a play I had no idea existed but definitely has themes that relate incredibly well to society today.

I want to start with the stuff that makes the author memorable in a great way—writing style. I feel there’s two types of ‘readability’, one where it’s simple and straight-to-the-point, the other is a complex yet compelling in a way that you don’t realize it’s been 2 hours and you haven’t stopped yet. The prose belongs in the latter and very much like I felt about The DUFF, it was so hard to put down.

And before I move on to anything else, I just want to point out that the friendships in this novel between Lissa and her friends and all the other frenemies/enemies-turned-friends, I felt the vibe of friendship, the silliness and exasperation and loyalty was all defined really well and definitely relatable. Both the good parts and bad parts of friendship was captured and I could definitely believe it. The romance however, was just average for me. I’m writing this review a few weeks after I finished the novel and I can barely remember who was involved, apart from the quarterback and some other really hot guy (too attractive? Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted another Westley…)

The plot is the sticky point for me, but it has a lot to do with personal preference than anything.  Sex is a huge part of the novel both in exploring female empowerment and sexuality, and really, it’s just not something I'm able to realistically identify with. My high school wasn’t abound with everyone running around having sex (which in this book, it felt like that sometimes). I just remember feeling sometimes like “ohkayyy…. Does this really happen?” but again, just based on past precedent for me, I guess.

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Recommended for: fans of more mature contemporary YA, it doesn’t really have that upper-YA feel to it, but more like a YA book that deals with older themes
Acknowledgements: urm, I don’t remember and I don’t have a copy with me :p

8/10- because it was overall an extremely engaging and enjoyable read (wow, alliterate those ‘e’s, will ya?). I loved being able to be instantly pulled in by the writing style and unique plot. I thought the themes were relevant but sometimes the execution was lacking. It felt like Keplinger had to resort to semi-preaching at times to ‘explain’ or explore the whole battle of the sexes thing. However, at a general level, it was definitely a great book that I’d easily recommend.

source: contest
author blog / twitter / website

Friday, September 16, 2011

totally booksessed?

so... hi.

I SO should be doing homework of some sort right now, but I'm not. Ah shucks.

Harmony asked me to be part of this YouTube channel called TotallyBooksessed where a different blogger vlogs a day, 5 days a week! I'm Friday! However, the video is an epic fail on my part, so here's a list of stuff if you watch it on MUTE that you can do.

-watch me wave around an iPhone with covers on it
-watch me wave my hands around a lot
-admire my touque
-check out my awesome dorm room in the background and note on the lack of books

...and seriously, mute it, it's embarrassing. This week, we talked about covers we liked/disliked)

Monday: Harmony @ Radiant Reads
Tuesday: Jamie @ The Broke and the Bookish
Wednesday: Lauren @ 365 Days of Reading
Thursday: Katie @ Katie's Book Blog
Friday: me!

... until the next update of my non-bookish-related life  in which I should be doing something bookish :)


Sunday, September 11, 2011

A terribly late Update



As in, life has been very hectic this past week, it was frosh week at my university so it felt like I was deprived of the bookish goodness I've become accustomed to over the summer. I've been completely gone from the internet, it feels like, but don't worry... hopefully this week can calm down and I can write a few blog/bookish stuff!

For now, the winner of the HADES by Alexandra Adornetto is: LINDSAY! I will email you shortly!

Bye lovelies, hope to see you guys soon and chat with you guys on twitter and such :)

After I clean up this mess of a room, of course.... :P

Saturday, September 3, 2011

books I can't part With

Thanks to everyone who read and replied to my brain-spew yesterday :) Today I'll be running around doing some last minute shopping, etc (follow along on Twitter!) so I'm writing this at 12:18 in the morning so I won't feel so bad about not posting. I already made up my mind that I'll be writing a heck-load of reviews on the plane ride instead of reading (yes, I can be disciplined... I think).

However, before it comes to that, I had a post idea floating around for ages, and I initially wanted to do a vlog but I ran out of time. But a post should do just fine.

Here are a list of books I'm bringing with me to Toronto (I always have a ton of books as carry-ons because they're so heavy!) My mum bought a Sony Reader the other day (it says it's red but it's totally pink) and found out it didn't support Chinese characters! So I offered to trade with her so she can keep using the Kindle and I could struggle profusely in figuring out how the Sony Reader works (I *think* I have it working now...). I do prefer the Kindle (much better screen, reading quality, no glare) but I can't complain.

Anyways, ramble aside.... a list!

Books I Can't Bear To Part With

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
-perhaps my favourite YA book ever. I have the Aussie edition (pictured) and I think I've praised this book endlessly since reading it. A must-bring... obviously

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
-A pick-me-up if I ever need one and she's far away from home, just like me! If only I could get a St. Clair of my own...

Books I'm Bringing 2000 Miles For Other Purposes

Can I just bring all my Sarah Dessen books? She's signing in Toronto September 21 and 22 and I'm definitely going to one of those!!!! I'm bringing Just Listen and Along for the Ride, by two favourites. And yeah, I know, I'll see if I have room for The Truth About Forever... I might just bring JL and TTAF because AFTR is a hardback.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
-the sequel, Froi of the Exiles is released in October and I couldn't resist bringing this book to get caught up and refreshed on Lumatere. Have you read the excerpt for Froi? Uhm, ah-mazing.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
-Revolution is still one of my favourite reads this year and I'm 90% sure I'll enjoy this one. It just looks amazing and everyone has the best things to say about it...

Freefall by Mindi Scott
-I got this as a RAK in July and I can't believe I haven't read it yet! I turn to it every single time it's time to pick up the next book but then pass over it for some lame reason... :p

Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams
-A Nomes from Inkcrush rec ;-) says it all. It looks simply fabulous.

^^ those are basically the books I'm expecting to enjoy the most :)

Review Books I'm Not Leaving Behind in An Effort To Be A Good Blogger

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
-looks awesome! I can't believe I haven't zoomed through it yet (I'm about a third of the way through)

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
-because it's been on my to-review pile for about a month... :/ Sorry, Penguin!

All my NetGalley and GalleyGrab books :) Yay!!! The Iron Knight!

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
-FML why haven't I read this yet?

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
-I got this recently and it looks like a great sci-fi :)

Books I'm Not Bringing and Feel Like Crying About

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
-WAAAAAH. I wanted to. I wanted to SO badly but then I'd feel bad about not having Saving Francesca and I mean.. I can't bring the entire works of Melina Marchetta with me, can I? Well, I won't be passing security with such a heavy bag. Might I add I have the prettiest cover (pictured)?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
-only because I have this on my ereader. Or I would bring this just to pet the words. No joke.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
-this book is perhaps my ultimate comfort read. I love it.

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
-*sobs* I reread the entire thing the other day, I just love this book.

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
-I won this in a contest and I was soooo stoked when it arrived a few days ago... however... it looks like I'm already bringing too many books :'( DAMN YOU WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS.


So it looks like I'm bringing 12 books, and I have a feeling I'll have to cut it down even more... *sobs* I hate parting with my books.

So my question to you is: if you're leaving for 4 months, what books do you HAVE TO bring with you?

Friday, September 2, 2011

August, lookin' back


this is August in Review at holes In My brain

Reviews (9)

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Red Glove by Holy Black

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Babe in Boyland by Judy Gehrman

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

4 mini reviews


YAYY! Lots of reviews! I thought it was overall a very decent reading month, there wasn't any books that I hated or were too upset with. Most of these books had a 8-9 rating, which is always good :)

Book of the Month

A really tough one this month.. the best books I haven't written reviews for (see below) but of the reviewed books... Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (9/10). Just a refreshing, smart and lovely contemporary with great themes and awesome characters.

Honourable Mentions

Of the books I reviewed... Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz and Red Glove by Holly Black were absolutely excellent.
The best books I read but didn't review were a tough tie between Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys

Also this month, I...
Rambled about movies in my In My Mailboxes here, here, and here
wrote my Blogging Bucket List!
Posted about Comfort Movies :)
Collaborated with some awesomesauce bloggers to create the Ultimate-est Summer Reading List!!
listed my top ten underrated books
Swoony Boy Quotes part 3-- a fan favourite... I think ;)
Set out to return every single blog comment! I've got about 5 posts to catch up on, but I swear I'll get to it :)

Parting Thoughts

Overall, it was an okay month. I wish I've done more lists, discussion posts, etc, but I just never got the inspiration. Speaking of inspiration, I've had a really tough time writing reviews and it feels like I've got so many amazing books I wish I could just express my love for, but it's hard to sit down and write, you know? Eh, enough complaining from me :)

Looking Ahead

I could ramble about how I don't really know the future of the blog, and that's true. I don't know where this is going because university is starting and I gotta set my priorities! If I go on a hiatus I'lll definitely let you guys know, but just so you know, there will probably be less frequent posts. I'll get my butt in gear and write those reviews though :P

sometimes You'll see what I'm thinkin

disclaimer: doesn't relate to books. feel free to skip. 

Honestly, it feels like it’s been a few weeks since I’ve sat down and put some serious effort into making a decent blog post (reviews excluded, I actually do try really hard on my reviews, whether or not it’s apparent). It feels as if as university looms closer and closer and I’m hanging on to my friends while saying goodbye at the same time—and it’s hard. The blog has fell to the side and I’ve been concentrating on what’s out there instead of what’s inside my head, on the internet and on the page.

And sometimes it’s major events like this that remind me what’s important can be found in so many other places that’s not related to my laptop or the books or my blog or the reviews. I’m quite fond (a huge understatement) of the internet, but hanging out last minute with the people who taught me everything about friendship pulls me into reality. It’s giving me an in-your-face lesson on how tough it is to think that we won’t see each other, even with the promises of endless skype chats and texting. Maybe it’s just now that reality is hitting me. So why am I doing this? It’s not really because of schools or cities (I could be living in the gorgeous Vancouver if I wanted.)

Moving away is something that I’ve been planning since I started high school, it’s always been my plan to attend a university in the eastern side of Canada (I live in the west!) and I made sure not to back out when sending applications. I wanted to leave, I wanted to explore my independence and learn new things without a parental figure guiding me. I wanted to shed whatever shell I was put into during my high school years and discover what type of person I was and who I wanted to be, and I still believe that university is where I’m supposed to be. 

And it’s tumultuous emotions like that that remind me why I read YA. I recently read Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard and I’m reminded why so many people say they relate to YA and YA helps them through tough times. Because I don’t know if it’s just Ms Hubbard’s talent or the genre itself, but sometimes all it takes is that book that reminds you that you’re not alone. That you’re just writing your own story. 

A story that I can control and I can pour my emotions into and maybe look back after I have a fancy degree and a new outlook and think, “yeah, it’s worth it”. Self-discovery. You can just shrug it off as another predictable, clichéd theme that's present in my favourite young adult novels. Self-discovery. 

But as I’m sitting here in front of my computer that in 2 days I won’t see my own bed for 4 months, it’s freaky and scary and stressful. I’m thinking about how relaxing my summer has been and if I’m prepared, both mentally and emotionally, for something that is going to take self-discipline, brains, and a whole lot of effort. It scares the shit out of me that I’ll be by myself, fending for myself … but as I sit here looking at the half-empty suitcase and the 6 pairs of shoes I plan on bringing, I can’t help but think that it’s going to be worth it.

This isn’t the most coherent post (very much like my state of mind) and quite frankly, it is lacking any type of flow whatsoever, along with some editing. But I just feel like it’s time to sit my ass down in a chair and reflect and write it down and sure, maybe I’ll delete this post next week but for now, I present to you the holes in my brain.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Giveaway! HADES by Alexandra Adornetto

In celebration of the release of Hades, the sequel to Halo, I've been offered the opportunity to host a giveaway!! I'm so excited, and I hope you guys are too! :)


Heaven Help Her.

Bethany Church is an angel sent to Earth to keep dark forces at bay. Falling in love was never part of her mission, but the bond between Beth and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier Woods, is undeniably strong. But even Xavier?s love, and the care of her archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can?t keep Beth from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell. There, the demon Jake Thorn bargains for Beth?s release back to Earth. But what he asks of her will destroy her, and quite possibly, her loved ones, as well.


The covers for these books are sooo gorgeous. And just as lovely is the book trailer:

Prize: 1 copy of Hades by Alexandra Adornetto

-ends September 11
-open to US/Canada only
-fill out the form below!

Easy, right? No tweeting required but I would definitely appreciate it :) And is it just me, or is Xavier like a super AWESOME name? (Yeah, I might've just watched X-men)

And maybe your city is a stop on the book TOUR!! See details here! Or become a FB fan of the author :)