Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Book Club Article #1: The Pacing Problem in Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Before we get started, I want to point something out. I try not to be one of these:

And I definitely don't want anyone to mistake me for one of these guys...

But that's what I feel like when I give a book a negative review and then, for whatever reason, end up needing to write about it again. As a book blogger, my goal is to help people find books that they love. Generally, I try not to rant too much about books that I didn't click with.

But Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is this month's selection for the Fall Book Club and I need to write about it. So I guess I'll tackle the thing that really kept me from clicking with this book for several hours and well over a hundred pages...

This book had a problem with pacing. 

What is Pacing?

Pacing is that quality in a book that can be measured by how easy or difficult that you, as a reader, are finding it to turn the page and keep going. Some people also call this Page Turning Quality (PTQ). It's a vital ingredient that every author wants to have in their book. Unfortunately, as with all things related to writing, it is reliant on the reader as much or moreso then it is on the writer.

We all like a well paced book. But what seemed to be flying by for one person might make someone else feel like they need to pin their eyes open so that they'll keep going. Some of us love lush descriptions of the world, or quick snappy dialogue, long or short chapters, single or multiple points of view.

Any one of these, or a million other things, can gum up a book's pacing for you. It's something that is really individual.

What Was My Issue?

The book started off alright. I was very keen to hear about Jacob and his grandfather. I was very excited (and a bit sad, too) when it is shown that monsters got him. But then the book went flat for quite a while.

I understand that the material in the early parts of the book was actually important stuff now that I have finished the book. But as I said in my review, I would not have finished Miss Peregrine... and that would have been too bad. Because I was actually very interested by the end of the book.

1. Too much time was spent on the therapy that Jacob was receiving and / or the way it was handled did not allow it to hold my interest.

2. When we get to the island, it took too long for Jacob to discover the house and for the actual "meat" of the book ... which I think was from chapter six onward? ... to get going.

As a fellow writer of fantasy, I can understand and appreciate Ransom Riggs need to feel confident that his readers will understand what is going on and be properly grounded in the story. It can be easy and tempting to move too quickly through scenes and to overwhelm the reader. But it's also a dangerous game to move too slowly and to risk a reader losing interest or getting too distracted.

When I start wanting to skim through your descriptions, it's generally because nothing is happening.

Contrast this with the end of the book where I was gripping the thing for dear life and could not put it down. Please realize I am not saying Riggs is incapable of telling an interesting story, as that could not be farther from the truth. Once Miss Peregrine... got going it kept my interest just fine and it ended with an exciting conclusion that left me anxious to find out what would happen next.

I sincerely hope that the pacing issue I had here was a first book issue. I hope he next one, while the whole thing does *not* need to be as fast paced as the ending, does not suffer from the same sense of getting bogged down that I found here.

This book had a lot of potential. I am glad that it did eventually reach that. I just wish it had done so sooner. Glad I was reading it for this book club, otherwise it might have ended up a DNF (did not finish) and that would have been a true shame.

Follow My Blog Friday (Sept. 30th)

Q. What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character?

Oh, no contest here! 

by Veronica Roth

Tell me this wouldn't be totally awesome as a movie? Divergent has such a great combination of action, memorable scenes, fantastic characters and a fascinating world... It's exciting, it has a great romance (You thought I wasn't going to say that?) and Tris is a totally kick-ass heroine. 

I have to be honest: I'm not really a huge movie person and I don't really follow actors and actresses individually. I either like a movie or I don't and that's pretty much the end of it. But with The Hunger Games being turned into a film and Divergent being the utterly brilliant book that it is, I have two words about whether or not it should be turned into a movie: Why Not? 

So, what book do you think would be fabulous as a film? I'd love to know so please feel free to share in the comments or link me to your post for FF. Thanks! 

P.S. Make sure you enter my Giveaways! They can be found on the sidebar, just below the book of the month!

P.S.S. Please take the time to nominate your favorite books and characters for The Bleeding Hearts Awards! Not only will this make the upcoming polls far more exciting, it will also earn you +1 toward BOTH of my Halloween giveaways at the end of October! 

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Have a great day! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Best Book September Giveaway!

It's that time again, ladies and gentlemen! Time to celebrate great books by making sure that one of you get to read something I read this month that I thought was totally fabulous. Yes, this is an opportunity for you to win a FREE book!

I had some really fantastic reads this month, even if I didn't get to finish quite as many books as I might have liked. I also had a few books I read this month really disappoint me. But that's part of reading, and it's part of why I started doing this whole book blogger thing. Everybody's taste is different. I'm not here to tell you what to like. But I am here to connect all the great people I've met within the book blogging community with books that I think are totally fantastic.

This Month's Selection Is... Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Why Did I Love It?:

-- The book grabbed my interest from page one and didn't let go.

-- The hero and heroine were totally adorable together and I was cheering for them all the way.

-- The dialogue was great and there were many moments throughout the book that were laugh out loud funny.

-- The book drew me in to the point where, when it was over, I didn't want it to end.

Other Great Books I Read:

Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Time For Some Giveaway Fun!

I know that my taste is not necessarily everybody's taste, so this month I'm going to run my giveaway a bit different. (It also helps that I'll be mailing the book online rather then having it sitting here.)

There is going to be ONE lucky winner of this giveaway and he or she will be able to pick ONE of the following books as a prize:

Admittedly, they are all contemporary. (I get the feeling if I'd done this last month everything would have been dystopian...) If you totally don't want any of these, you are welcome to select another book I have reviewed instead. Ideally I'd like to highlight the best books I've read this month, but there is no point in sending you something you don't want when I can order any of these books. You can find all of my reviews here.

Here Is How To Enter:

Post a comment with your e-mail and answer this question: What is the best book YOU read this month? Last, tell me what book you want to win. And you're in! (+1)

Want Extra Entries?

Follow Me!
-- Old follower +2
-- New Follower +1

Answer The Question: Recommend a book that I should review! (Remember, I run a YA blog.) +2

Nominate Books for The Bleeding Hearts Awards! (tell me you did here and nominate them by clicking the link at the top of the page or right here. If you've already nominated books, just let me know.) +3

Follow Me on Twitter +1

Tweet about my giveaway! +1

Friend Me on GoodReads +1

(Note: If you already follow me, have friended me, etc. just mention that.)

Total Entries: # / 10 (new) or 11 (old)

The Giveaway will be open now until Monday October 17th at 12:00 p.m. EST!

Thanks for entering! Good luck & Have Fun! 

Poll: Who Are You?

Last Week's Poll:

Last week I asked you guys which book you were more excited about, Carrier of the Mark or Lola and the Boy Next Door. Here are the results...

Carrier of the Mark: 32%
Lola and the Boy Next Door: 68%

Winner of Book Wars #2: Lola and the Boy Next Door!

This Week's Question:

October is just around the corner. I put up the nominations page for the Bleeding Hearts Awards last night. (Go make sure your favorite books and characters get recognized!) and I have lots of spooktacular fun planned over the next few weeks. In honor of all the Halloween goodness, I've decided that we need a question that will suit the occasion...

Who Are You?

Okay, guys. It's time to take a walk on the wild side. Let your inner faerie, vampire, werewolf, witch or zombie have a moment in the sun (Okay... That might be a bad idea. Might wanna stick to moonlit settings if that pesky sun has unwanted effects!) Anyway, pick your favorite supernatural being and lets see which magical / monstrous being is most popular this year!

Images to Inspire You...






One last time... Who Are You? 
Cast your vote and let your voice be heard!

The Time Will Come (Sept. 29th)

The Time Will Come 

Every Thursday l am going to list a book which l really want to read/keep meaning to get to. These are mostly books which have been on my shelf for awhile now but don't have to be, maybe you got it two weeks ago and really want to read it! 
Want to join in?
- Pick a book you have been meaning to read
- Do a post telling us about the book 
- Link the post up in the linky
- Visit the other blogs!

by Sophie Jordan

(Summary from GoodReads)

A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love.

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Have you ever sat down to read something, turned to page one, and went totally blank? Sat there staring at the words but none of them would come through, as though there was some invisible screen keeping you and the text separated? That is what I experienced last week when I sat down, thinking I was going to read Firelight. It was very frustrating.

Firelight is the kind of book I should be guaranteed to love. Romance. Forbidden love. Danger. Dragons! I've mentioned this before, but the poor customer service person at Chapters hunted through the shelves and the back room four times to find this for me. I was really quite impressed with his persistence. These are just a few of the reasons that I was baffled by my hesitation to get started on this book.

It could be that I have very high expectations and I am worried they will be dashed. (I hate that! I don't enjoy giving books a negative review and I don't enjoy a book that looks promising to me not delivering what I thought it would.) It could be that I've been on such a contemporary YA kick lately; a lot of the paranormal stuff I've been reading has felt a little flat in comparison to stuff like Perfect Chemistry, The Sky Is Everywhere, or Shut Out.

Or it could simply be that the time wasn't right. I hope this is the reason, personally.

If all goes according to plan, Firelight will be one of the books that I will be reading next month. Who knows, maybe it will even get nominated for some Bleeding Heart Awards?

So, what do you have on your shelves that you want to read but haven't gotten around to? I'd love to know, so feel free to share. :D

Zompacolypse @ I Write, I Read, I Review! + Bleeding Hearts Nominations!

Some of you may have noticed this badge chilling on my sidebar for the past few weeks. I've made a few attempts to get you to click it. I'd definitely love to see as many of you as possible get involved. But for those who don't know what this is about, this post will hopefully fill you in. (And it will get things started here at I Write, I Read, I Review, too.)

I am taking part in a Halloween event called Zompacolypse. For my part, I have contributed a review of Generation Dead and I will be hosting a giveaway during the Halloween Blog Hop at the end of October.

That's what brings us here today.

Normally I like to pick the prizes that I offer in my giveaways. But since this is an event and I am hoping that a lot of people will be dropping by to enter, I want to make sure I have something for everyone. Plus, I want to have an event here to get all of you involved.

That event is going to be... 
The Bleeding Hearts Awards! 

Okay, I know what you're thinking. "Stop. Turn. Explain." Well, here we go...

The Bleeding Hearts are awards designed to recognize great books about paranormal or supernatural plots or characters. I'll use the list from the actual Zompacolypse post since I am running The Bleeding Hearts as an event leading up to my blog's part in the Halloween Blog Hop. (See "Nomination Criteria" for full details.)

Here's what's going to happen. Round One of The Bleeding Hearts is going to be Nominations. I am going to give you guys two weeks to nominate books that you would like to see on the polls for each category. Nominations begin now and will end on Thursday October 13th, 2011.

Round Two of The Bleeding Hearts is going to be for voting. You will get one vote for each category. The voting will go from October 14th until October 28th, 2011 when the actual Halloween Blog Hop begins.

When the blog hop begins (October 28th until October 31st, 2011), the books that have won in each category will be the prize options that the winner(s) here at I Write, I Read, I Review can select their prize from (Note: I am still deciding how many winners I will select. I will have more details on this later, I'm sure.)

Now here is the important part: You will get an extra entry for nominating books and an extra entry for voting. To get the voting entry, you *must* sign that post with a comment so that I know you voted. You don't need to tell us what you voted for unless you want to, but you *must* sign that post when you vote. It's the only way I'll be able to properly check.

Don't worry -- I'll remind you of that when the voting post is put up. :)

Nomination Criteria

Now that you know what The Bleeding Hearts are and what they are for it's time that we actually got some books nominated, huh? First I am going to explain what type of books we are looking for to receive The Bleeding Hearts Awards, and then I will tell you the categories that are going to be open for nominations.

A Few More Details:

  • You are welcome to nominate more then one book for the same category. Be aware that you will only be able to vote for one book per category once the polls go up, though.
  • You are welcome to nominate a book for more then one award if the book fits the award properly. (For instance, you could choose to nominate Twilight for "Best Vampire Book" and then again for "Best Romance" if you wanted to.) 
  • I *want* to see people nominating a book others have nominated. This will tell me that book must be on the poll. 
  • I am looking into finding a poll system that will let me imbed the polls into a post so this event will be convenient. I will be selecting the five most nominated books per category for each poll that is set up. That means it's really important that you speak up about the books that you want to see in each category.
  • You can add nominations for as few or as many categories as you like. Please don't feel pressured to come up with something for all ten unless you want to. 

For the purposes of The Bleeding Hearts, a book should have one at least of the following: Zombies, Ghouls, Ghost, Vampires, Weres, Mages, Witches, Wicked Fae or Changelings (Note: I am accepting books about Faeries here in general, for example The Iron King.). Since my blog is primarily about YA and tends to focus on the romantic aspect of the genre I am going to bend things slightly to suit what I cover here. For The Bleeding Hearts, both the sparkly and the spooky are welcome to apply.

If you have any questions about nominations for The Bleeding Hearts please feel free to leave them in the comments or e-mail me.

The Bleeding Hearts: Categories

  • Best Witch or Faerie Book
  • Best Were or Shifter Book
  • Best Vampire Book
  • Best Zombie Book
  • Best Romance
  • Most Terrifying Book
  • Best Male Character*
  • Best Female Character*
  • Best Villain*
  • Overall Best Book
*Note: Please list both the character's name and what book he or she is from. Thanks!

And the Nominations for The Bleeding Hearts Awards 2011 are now officially open! I'm excited to see what people will nominate. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

My Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

So I've had Chain Reaction on my shelf for a while now. Considering how much I love Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction, you'd think I'd rush and read it as soon as I finished those books. After all, I had it here ready to go.

But no. I didn't do that. And it's not because of any of the usual suspects. By this point Simone Elkeles has my confidence that she will provide a great story and a memorable romance. The reason I stalled here is because I didn't want the series to be over.

But all good things must come to an end. Chain Reaction continues the awesome storytelling present in the first two books and serves as a fitting and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy. Now let's talk about why.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill.

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules.

Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

Chain Reaction starts out differently then the other two books. We actually get to meet Luis and Nikki earlier in their high school days, while Luis is still living in Boulder. This is very important, because it sets up the background and history between the characters that carries throughout the rest of the book. 

It also draws on one of the strengths of the Perfect Chemistry series as a whole -- the fact that characters reoccur and that fragments of past couples lives together get woven in to what is happening with the current couple. It was cool to get to "see" Brittany and Alex's wedding, and later to "be there" as Carlos proposes to Kiara. Luis' and Nikki's presence at these events, and what happens because of them, ties back in to the story that is mainly occurring. I felt it was very smart writing and pretty cool as a nod to fans of the other books.

I liked the fact that the book did such a good job at dealing with the way that different people feel about and present their nationality, as well. The contrast between Nikki and Luis despite the fact that both have parents who were born in Mexico was pretty interesting. So was the "secret" regarding Luis and the LB (Latino Blood). In regards to the gang aspect of the book, as usual it was interesting and added conflict and situations that ensured the balance that has been set for this series continues and that Chain Reaction is a page turner. 

The Characters:

Simone Elkeles continues her tradition of creating characters who are exciting, easily related to and worth cheering for. Nikki was a great heroine. Her struggle to trust was well motivated and the situations she faced throughout the book were moving. She is under some pressure to continue the strides of success that her parents began and she does not take it well when things she decides to do divert her from that. I also loved how her warmth as a character was shown at the animal shelter. I love dogs and any character who is nice to them will tend to win me over.

Luis shares some traits with his brothers -- he's confident, charming, a total flirt and ultimately a great guy. Yet he has certain things that are all his own. He is incredibly smart and has been encouraged by his family to pursue this from a young age. He wants to be an astronaut. He also wants to do the right thing and generally tries to showcase his rebellious streak through high adrenaline activities or risk taking. As Luis learns about his past, though, he has to make tough choices and decide whether he will accept the truth of what he learns or create his own path.

The other thing, and I'm pretty sure I praised this in Rules of Attraction as well, is that all the characters readers have grown to love throughout the series make appearances and these actually tend to be important in some way to the story being told. In the acknowledgements Simone Elkeles calls the series the "books of my heart" and the attention to detail and vivid imagining of not only what happens now, within the context of the story, but also of what she shows happen in the futures of her characters, both through cameos and her epilogues for each book, make me believe that this is genuine and true. 

The Romance: 

I liked the variety of conflicts that Luis and Nikki had to deal with. Not only did they face parental concerns since both Luis mother and Nikki's parents want their children to have great futures academically, they also have unique personal issues that come into play as the story progresses. Nikki has extreme and well founded trust issues that make it hard for her to think of being in a relationship. Not only does this effect what is happening with Luis, she also interferes with her friend Kendal's relationship with her boyfriend Derek, constantly telling them that they are wasting their time.

Luis conflicts romantically change as the story progresses. Initially he is actually in a certain level of agreement with his mother He does not want to get too involved because of his dream of becoming an astronaut. As the story progresseses, new and less desirable reasons become a problem for Luis and jeopardize both his goals for the future and the relationship that he begins with Nikki.

One of the other things that I must commend Simone Elkeles for in this particular novel is that she actually has Nikki be a true hero by the end of the book. Her actions are certainly of the do-not-try-this-at-home variety, but I felt that the resolution to what was happening was very fitting within the actual story and within Nikki's character and her relationship with Luis as a whole. 

In General: 

Chain Reaction is another great example of a book where all the lights in the house are on. Everything lines up -- great characters, great plot, great pacing -- to make a book that I simply did not want to put down. I read this in spare moments over the course of several days because I had company and the wait between each 'sit down and read' session was torture. I constantly found my mind wandering back to the story and wondering what would happen next.

A stellar conclusion to an absolutely awesome trilogy, Chain Reaction deserves its place alongside Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction. If you have not read the Perfect Chemistry trilogy, what are you waiting for? And if you've read the other books, have no fear: Chain Reaction is the fantastic and satisfying conclusion that we have all hoped and waited for. In short: a book that is not to be missed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top Ten Books I'd Love To ReRead (Sept. 27th, 2011)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

This Week's Topic Is: Top 10 Books I'd Love To Reread

I use to be huge on rereading. I have hundreds of books that I have read and loved, and I am loathe to part with them. The reason is always the same: "What if I want to read that again?" My books are kept in my bedroom, on two shelves. My bedroom is roughly 10 feet x 10 feet in size. I'm sure that you can see how this might be a problem. 

I've only been running I Write, I Read, I Review for about two months. I made the blog in June, but did not really figure out what I wanted from it until the start of August. So I'm going to be real with you guys. Five of my books are going to be picks that I have loved since I started this blog, and five will be books I've read throughout my lifetime. Some of these are Not YA and I will make this for your convenience. Let's get started, shall we? 

Before the Blog:

1. Wuthering Heights (Not YA)
by Emily Bronte

My aunt said she would pay me $2 if I read this book. I think I was twelve or thirteen. She let me keep the book, too. Apparently she had two copies ready and was prepared for me to not want to return it. There are many people who will tell you that what happens between Cathy and Heathcliff is not a love story. They are absolutely correct. Personally, I feel it is a cautionary tale about what happens when we are too foolish to listen to our own hearts. Pretty important stuff.

2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
by C.S. Lewis

Once again, this is because of my aunt. She got my brothers and I really into The Chronicles of Narnia. We read all the books and we watched the movies (the old ones, not the new ones, just to clarify). I like a lot of the books in this series, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is by far my favorite. I love how Eustace (I may have misspelled that) evolves as a character, I absolutely adore Caspian and the overall adventurousness of the story held my interest from the beginning to the end.

3. Wizard's First Rule (Not YA)
by Terry Goodkind

I took this book out of the library twice. The first time I got stuck on page one, bored to death because of an overly detailed description of a vine. The second time, my brother Shawn found it on my bed, read it and then told me I had to finish it. He was right. There is a lot that I like about this book. The relationship between Richard and Kahlan, the revelation of who Richard's father is, everything about this book is just great.

4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling

I love the Harry Potter books, but this one is probably my favorite. I love the mystery going on here. I love getting such an interesting glimpse into Voldemort's past. I love the hints of Ginny liking Harry. I find Gilderoy Lockhart really funny (and annoying). And c'mon... Who doesn't love flying cars?

5. Firebrand (Not YA)
by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I think it was 9th grade when I found a second hand copy of this book at Value Village for $1. It was shortly after I had been introduced to Greek mythology in my 8th grade reading period. (Yes, we actually got to sit and read a book of our choice one hour a week.) Firebrand is primarily the story of Kassandra of Troy, and what happens to her from childhood and all through the Trojan War. I loved how vivid and real this book felt and how it cast a light on the women of Troy -- their hopes, their fears, their struggles. Absolutely fabulous stuff!


Now let's talk about some of the awesome books that I've read since I started my blog. There are quite a few great books that I've had the opportunity to read, but these have really stood out:

6. Shut Out
by Kody Keplinger

Where do I start? Laugh out loud funny? Quick-paced, couldn't put it down plot? Great characters? A story so well realized and interesting that I wished I could crawl inside the covers and pay the characters a visit? Shut Out has all of that and then some. The next time something happens and I need something that is going to cheer me up, this is likely going to be the book I'll be reading. 

7. Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is a great book. And in my opinion, everything great about it is kicked up a not, shaken up for good measure and then tumbled onto the ground in this absolutely awesome sequel. Important things happen to all the characters you care about, and some great new characters are introduced. The situation between Katnisss and Peeta becomes even more dire and the stakes of their "love" are higher then ever. Another book that I couldn't stop reading.

8. Perfect Chemistry
by Simone Elkeles

Everything I say here also applies to Rules of Attraction. (I'm not done Chain Reaction yet, but so far I'm loving it, too.) This is an awesome, slow-building love story that I enjoyed every moment I spent reading. Alex and Brittany are both interesting characters who have unique and interesting hurdles that they must overcome if they want together. I love how all three Perfect Chemistry books tie together and I know that this is a series I'll be visiting again someday.

9. Divergent
by Veronica Roth

There was so much I liked about this book. Tris is a heroine that I sympathized with and, for the most part, cheered for. Four is absolutely awesome and I adored him. (Yes, I'm saying *that* again.) I can already tell you when I'll be reading this again -- right before Insurgent releases next May. I'll squeeze it in somehow. 

10. The Sky Is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson

You just had to see this one coming. Admit it. This book told such a beautiful moving story. I loved the characters. I thought the writing was great. I thought the poetry scattered throughout the book, and it's relevance to the story, was fantastic. Joe Fontaine is one of my favorite guys I've discovered since I started this blog. I thought that Lennie and Joe went together really well. Do I really need to keep repeating myself? ;) This isn't just a book I'd love to reread. It's a book I've gone out of my way to share with others. And as I've said before, I do not believe I can give higher praise then that. 


And there you have it, this week's top 10. So, do you want to reread any of the books on my list? What did you choose? Do you feel you even have time to reread? I know that now, with blogging and reviewing and everything else that squeezing in a repeat visiting, no matter how great the story, can be hard for me. And I have a lot of free time. 

Anyway, thanks for dropping by my blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to link me to your top 10 if I haven't visited it yet. :) Have a great day! 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In My Mailbox (Sept. 25th)

So I got to go to Chapters yesterday and I came home with a few new "friends". ;) Here is what I got:

You Against Me
by Jenny Downham

Why I Bought It: This looks like it should be an interesting read. The hero and heroine here are facing a total no-win situation and I am anxious to see how they will deal with it and where they will be once they have. The plot here is darker then most stuff that I read, but it has me intrigued. Hopefully these characters will get a good ending, but we shall see.

by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Why I Bought It: This sounded like the kind of book my boyfriend, Jay, would read. I was interested in it, too. I haven't had the chance to read much YA science fiction, but Glow sounded like something that might hold my interest.

Sisters Red
by Jackson Pearce

Why I Bought It: A modern re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood? I love fairytale retellings, so I couldn't resist that. I am curious to see how well Red Riding Hood will translate to our modern world and to see what kinds of characters these two sisters will be. This looks like it should be a fun read.

Passing Strange
by Daniel Waters

Why I Bought It: I loved Waters' first book, Generation Dead. I have his second book, Kiss of Life on my to-read list for October. Now I have the third book, Passing Strange. I wanted it anyway, since Generation Dead is so fabulous. I didn't expect to find it on sale for $7. I couldn't resist.

The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa

Why I Bought It: This was on my Top Ten Tuesday last week, which was about books everyone's read but me. When I had the chance to go out and grab some new books, this seemed like a good choice to pick up because of that. I have been wanting to try reading something faerie related and I've heard a lot of praise for the Iron Fey series. We'll see how it goes.

by Julia Karr

Why I Bought It: I've had requests to review this, so I thought it might be nice to respond to those. The overall plot sounds pretty interesting and I am curious to see what will happen here. This could be really good or it could be very disturbing. I guess I'll just have to read it and find out.

by Catherine Fisher

Why I Bought It: I noticed this on Amazon and it intrigued me. I don't normally read stuff that has science fiction and fantasy blended together this way, or at least haven't in quite a while. I am curious to see how this book will go, so I couldn't resist picking it up.

by Josephine Angelini

Why I Bought It: Apparently, this book was inspired by The Illiad. It's based on Helen and Paris. So there's no way I couldn't read it after hearing that. I am extremely eager to read this book. Which is always a dangerous thing, because it does mean that I am risking disappointment. I am really hoping that this book ends up being one that I enjoy, because the idea itself is absolutely brilliant.

So, what do you think of my new books? And what fabulous things arrived in your mailbox (or at least, on your bookshelf) this week? I'd love to know. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

My Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3

So I've had a few requests to review something by John Green. And I guess that maybe it is a little sad that I hadn't read anything by him if I am reviewing YA. I've also heard great things about David Levithan, so please don't take me naming Green first to mean that I think Levithan is a slouch. Anyway, my initial plan was to read and review Paper Towns (and to those who have requested it, rest assured that I will get to it.) But when I got to Chapters and was selecting books, something about Will Grayson, Will Grayson called out to me.

It might have been the musical aspect. I did that in high school.

It might have been the fact that I could check out two different authors. Seemed like an interesting concept.

Or it might have been the shiny, semi-glittery cover.

Okay, I confess: the cover hooked me. I'll gladly admit that I'm a girl who likes her glitter. :D

Anyway, this book has a lot more going for it then a pretty cover. Read on to hear my thoughts.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans.

There were lots of interesting things going on in this book. The friendship between Will Grayson and Tiny. The developing relationship between Will Grayson and Jane. The musical Tiny Dancer and all of the changes it goes through. will grayson's relationships with Issac, Maura, Tiny, Gideon, his mom... 

The whole Issac situation really hit me hard. I know what it's like to date online. I know how it feels to care about someone from a distance. I know the horror of having that person not be real. I know the excitement that can be felt when you are about to meet someone and they seem so special and perfect and wonderful and "How did I ever live without him?" ... And I think the authors did a fantastic job capturing this. I also know what it's like to have someone do what Maura does to will grayson -- I had that done to me (a fake love interest) during my own teenage years. Let me tell you: it burns. Yet again, they nailed this perfectly.

I loved the anxiety, energy and overall feeling of wonder that was evoked throughout the scenes for the play. The struggles of Tiny and the other characters to get it off the ground, and the sense that we, as readers, actually get to "see" Tiny's accomplishment, is (once again) handled extremely well. I found myself really caring what was going on here. I also found myself reading the song lyrics rather then skipping them as I might have if I hadn't been so invested. 

I felt that both Will Graysons felt extremely real and that I was able to relate to their unique challenges and struggles. In short, Green and Levithan succeeded in creating a plot that both felt like it could happen and yet managed to keep it from becoming predictable or boring. 


Okay, you have to admit this: the point of view focuses may be on the two Will Graysons, but Tiny Cooper completely steals the show from start to finish. I loved Tiny. I loved his optimism. I loved his kindness. I loved his overall zeal and zest for life. I loved the fact that he was a huge guy -- and as we meet him from will grayson's point of view we learn that doesn't just mean 'tall and well muscled' as I had originally pictured... Tiny is a "fatty". I don't care if he's a guy: when he said that he was comfortable with his size -- and that its how it makes others act that was the problem -- I cheered. I like the fact that while being gay is part of who Tiny is, that it clearly is not all that he is. Yet again: I have much, much love for Tiny Cooper.

Of the two Will Graysons, I think that I liked Levithan's character best. I know there are people who will definitely disagree here, but I just found a lot more in his story that I, personally, connected with. I will admit that the first time that I read from his point of view I was like "Whoa! This guy is an asshat!" But as the story continues and I got to know the character better, I was deeply invested in what happened to him. I really loved seeing him and Tiny together. I couldn't blame him for wanting to freeze Maura out. I enjoyed watching his growing friendship with Gideon progress. 

The other characters were all pretty good in their own ways. For some reason I didn't connect as heavily with Will Grayson and Jane's relationship, but it wasn't "bad". I liked the fact that both Green and Levithan had parents present for the characters and that those parents were not just window dressing; it can annoy me when that happens.

The Romance(s): 

I have nothing against the romance between Will Grayson and Jane... But for some reason it didn't click with me. I wasn't biting my nails and going "Oh, come on! Get together, already." I was glad they did, but it wasn't this earth shattering life-altering thing that had to happen for the book to be complete. I think that the authors realized this, too, based on when it happened in the book.

Now Tiny and will grayson, on the other hand... They just kept making me go "Awww!" Probably not what the authors were going for, but that's an "it's me, not them" thing. Me going "Awww!" is a good thing when I am talking about the romance in a book. You want me doing that. And when things took a wrong turn, I couldn't stop reading. I was desperate to find out what would happen. 

And here is the thing (Massive Spoilers Ahead: They leave it in the air. We don't actually find out whether will grayson and Tiny get back together, or whether will gets together with Gideon, or whether he is still single, or what. Gah! That drove me nuts!) I can't decide whether I missed the whole point of the book, or whether this was done to let a reader reach their own conclusion.

In General: 

I must admit there have been some delays with my reviews this week. Those are purely related to my life and totally not to do with the pacing of this book -- it was perfect and when the opportunity to read arose I could not put this down. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a book that I really enjoyed, and one that I will likely be loaning to family and friends for a long time. 

Honest, funny, original and memorable, I cannot recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson enough. This is a book that deserves to be on everyone's shelf. 

Follow My Blog Friday (Sept. 23rd)

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?

Marked (House of Night book #1)
by P.C. and Kristen Cast

I saw this book on a shelf at No Frills (our local grocery store) last spring (2010) and decided that the back blurb looked interesting. I'd been reading a bit of YA already -- Vampire Academy, Blue Bloods... You get the idea. But something about this book drew me in. Maybe it was the fact that it was paperback and "marked" 30% off. 

Bottom line is that I bought it and I devoured it. There are lots of things that I liked. Zoey starting at a new school and making new friends. Needing to find out where she fit in her new life. Having to deal with the way her various family members reacted to her becoming a vampire. 

Marked began my love of the House of Night series, but it is also the book that cemented my love of YA and which made YA the primary type of books that I now read. Here are my top five reasons for loving the House of Night books as a whole. Look for my review of Destined when it releases near the end of October, because I know I'll be reading it. (I'm counting down the days.)

1. Tightly knit timeline and pacing:

There are a lot of people who complain that a House of Night book can span three days. That Zoey has only been a vampire for a few months over the course of the series. But this is something I love and is something, in my opinion, that makes the series and the characters and the events going on feel more real. We really get to feel that we are living with Zoey and her friends, like we are taking this journey with them. And to me, taking a journey is a good reason for reading a book.

2. Multiple points of view:

I know that it is strange that the Casts decided to switch how they were writing the books in the sixth installment. It might have been an easier transition for readers if they had done this much sooner. But as someone who came to YA from a paranormal romance background, third person writing with more then one point of view is the norm and it did not bother me. Zoey is *not* my favorite character in House of Night, so getting to be inside the heads of characters other then her is a welcome change.

3. The magic system:

I have grown up with games and books using the elements to control magic, so it's something that generally does not require a lot of explanation for me to "get it". What makes Cast's books fascinating, though, is that the magic system is actually a bit of a fantasized version of modern paganism, complete with circles, calling elements, lighting candles and seeking help from nature. I haven't seen anyone else mix this with vampire lore and it was one of the original things that hooked me on these books. (I studied Wicca for several years in my teens.)

4. Neferet and Nyx

What I love about Neferet is that she does not *start* out as the villain and that her actions as a villain progress over time. We actually get to see her grow in her own twisted way. Part of me wants to see her be redeemed and become the person she was when we met her. Part of me says "Screw that! She's going down!"

As for Nyx, the vampires' Goddess, I find it interesting how she leaves things up to the people who follow her rather then intervening time and again. I'm pretty sure that she could squash Neferet and Kalona with a giant fly swatter of doom if she wanted to, but she refuses to let their actions affect or sway her own integrity. She gives advice and takes action when she feels she must, but she seems determined that the vampires should have free will.

5. Stevie Rae and Rephaim: 

While Zoey is running around juggling lord knows how many guys, Stevie Rae has fallen for Rephaim, who is a Raven Mocker and her sworn enemy. Watching the two of them become closer and have to fight to be together has actually become my favorite part of the entire series. They are the characters I buy these books for and the reason that I keep reading. I must know what will happen to them. They fascinate me. 

So, what series did you pick? What are your thoughts on the House of Night books? (Relax. I know a lot of people *hate* them. :p ) 

Last: I need your help. I am picking my books to review for October. If there are YA Books about Witches, Faeries, Werewolves, Shifters, Vampires or Zombies that you would like to see reviewed, please leave me suggestions. :D I am going shopping on Saturday for this and I would love to grab *some* books that people want reviews for. Thanks! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Poll: Book Wars #2

Last Week's Poll:

Last week I asked you guys which book, of five listed, you are most excited about on the 27th. I have since learned there are a lot of good releases I didn't know about. My apologies if your choice was not listed. Anyway, here are the results:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer 54%
Daughter of Smoke and Bone 26%
A Beautiful Dark 9%
The Mephisto Covenant 5%
None of the Above 5%
A Monster Calls 1%

Thanks for voting! The number of people getting involved seems to be going up and that is awesome since it makes for a more fun poll. :D

This Week's Question:

Which book are you looking most forward to: Carrier of the Mark or Lola and the Boy Next Door? If you want to read the summaries, why not drop by my Giveaway Page, where you can even enter your name to win one of these books from me? :D I will include images of the books, along with links to their pages on GoodReads, too.

Click for Summary
Click for Summary

Let the latest Book War begin. Which of these awesome titles do you want most? Let your voice be heard and vote! :D

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (Sept. 21st)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Future Of Us
by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Summary: (from GoodReads)

It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

The idea behind this book intrigues me. I didn't get to use the internet until 1997, but the general timeline of this book means these characters are teens around the time that I was. I spent a lot of time becoming well acquainted with the 'net during my teen years and feel it had a big influence, so seeing what it will do to their future should be interesting. I'm also very fond of books about time travel or time manipulation / alteration so that is another huge plus. 

On a more personal note... My grandather passed away in 1996 (the year the story takes place), on November 22nd (the date of publication), which is fifteen years ago (the time span that the characters in the story see themselves from the future). Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm just the slightest bit superstitious and I'll take that as a sign I'm suppose to read this. Why not? I want to read it anyway.

So, what's your pick this week? Anyone else excited about The Future Of Us? Feel free to leave a comment and thanks for visiting my blog. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays (Sept. 20th)

So today my Teaser Tuesday is from Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I just started it tonight and I am already finding it laugh out loud funny. I am either laughing at something that happens or I am laughing because I can recall feeling the way that these characters do about various situations.

Anyway, there were a couple lines in the first chapter that I really liked, so I think I'll go with those this week. From Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I turn around and Tiny Cooper is crying huge tears. One of Tiny Cooper's tears could drown a kitten.

-- Will Grayson, Will Grayson page 15

Love it? Hate it? Wanna read it? Bored?

Let me know what you think and feel free to tell me what your Teaser Tuesday book is this week. :) Thanks for visiting!

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