Because who can afford books in this economy?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Last Little Blue Envelope
Author: Maureen Johnson
Published: April 26, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

I'm one of those people who likes closure. I want the things that I watch and read to have endings. They don't have to be happy, but there has to be some sort of closure. It probably won't surprise you that I didn't enjoy the end of 13 Little Blue Envelopes as much as I enjoyed the rest of the book. The end left me begging for more, for closure. I first read it three years ago, I think, and at that time there wasn't going to be a second book. That just about killed me. I am so, so happy Maureen Johnson changed her mind and wrote The Last Little Blue Envelope. It gave me the closure I was looking for and went in a completely natural feeling direction.

You might think that in the years since Johnson wrote 13 Little Blue Envelopes she might have forgot her characters. This is not the case. Everyone was exactly like they were in the first book. I would know because I reread the first one right before reading the second. Ginny was the same Ginny, no matter how much she tried to be different. Keith was still infuriatingly but endearingly Keith-like. No one felt out of character to me, which is quite a feat.

I think the plot when in a great and believable direction for Ginny. I had no trouble believing she could find her way to London for Christmas break when she was abroad an entire Summer. I also thought the relationship twists and turns that occur throughout the book, of which there are many, were entirely believable. I really liked how Johnson gave this book the same sort of feel as the last one, where Ginny's exploring different countries and herself at the same time, yet it was different enough to feel fresh and new. The addition of Oliver was one of the main reasons it was so different. He is an odd character, to say the least. I loved not really knowing how I or Ginny felt about him for a lot of the book. It was less predictable than it could have been.

Maureen Johnson is such a fantastic writer. She has an awesome sense of humor, and even though these books are in third person I connected with Ginny more than I connect with some characters in first person. I was sucked into the book right from the beginning. There were a couple times where I thought it was going too slow, but that never lasted long.

Basically I think The Last Little Blue Envelope is a fantastic and completely necessary sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I would definitely recommend it if you've read 13 Little Blue Envelopes and wanted more.

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 48/50 A

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: February 1st, 2011
Source: Traveling ARC Tours
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

It's hard for me to put into words exactly what I feel about this book. I almost feel like everything that I thought about the book in its entirety is canceled out by the ending. An ending that made me gasp for air, and just lay there thinking about it when I was finished. I'm still thinking about it a day later.

The only problem that I had with this book was the beginning. It was slow. Very slow. I had some trouble getting into it. It starts to pick up speed about a quarter of the way through, and by halfway it's enthralling. I understand why it was slow: we had to be introduced to this whole world that Lauren Oliver created, and get into the head of the girl at the center of the story. I just don't like slow beginnings.

Something that I both liked and disliked about this book is that it's not about the setting. It's not about the society or "fixing it" or a movement. It's about a girl. Lena is that girl. Her whole life the only thing that she's wanted is to be "cured". To be saved from the pain, the disease of love. Then she falls in love and everything changes. For me that was the turning point of the book, as it was fitting to be. That's when Lena feels like she's woken up from the fog that her life has been up to that point.

Lauren Oliver's writing is amazing. I don't think that I've ever read anything quite as beautiful as some of the passages in this book. She has this amazing way of describing things with such detail, but not over describing. I felt what Lena felt, but the feelings didn't take away from the story or the scene.

All of the characters in this book were well fleshed out. I actually think that I connected with Lena's friend Hanna a bit more than I connected with Lena. And Alex is just...oh, why aren't you real?

There is so much more that I want to say about this book but I can't seem to find the right words. Basically it's a book that will stick with you. I loved it and I really hope that you read it. You won't be disappointed!

Characters: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Originality: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 47/50 A
Cover/Title Comments: I love the title. I'm partial to the ARC cover, which I think is beautiful and suits the book perfectly, but this one is growing on me. The girl behind the letters is really cool, and I like the color. I just think that the other cover suits the story more.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog Tour: Cover Questions for Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Hey, everyone! Today I have Lisa Cach, author of Wake Unto Me, here to tell us a little bit about what the Wake Unto Me cover went through before it became what it is today! Thanks to Lisa (and her fabulously blogger friendly website) and to the Teen {Book} Scene Blog Tours!

Here's some info on Wake Unto Me (from Lisa's website):

Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhere else. It’s what her dead mother’s note suggested, and it’s what her recurring nightmares allude to. Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams—and her small town—she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse.

But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams?

Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever.

Onto the interview!

1. Hi Lisa, could you please tell us a little about your debut YA book Wake Unto Me?

American girl Caitlyn gets a scholarship to a mysterious, haunted girls’ school in France, and finds herself falling in love with the 16th century boy who visits her dreams.

2. Wake Unto Me has a striking cover, how much input did you have in choosing/designing it?

Not much! I gave my editor lots of information about the story (the design process began before the book was completely written), and sent her some images, but the final result bore little relation to anything I described.

3. Do you feel that the cover represents the story inside well?

Yes, as far as the ‘feel’ of the book goes. And no, as far as accuracy goes. The heroine has black hair, but on the cover her hair is chestnut; on the other hand, I understand why. Black hair wouldn’t work on a black background. And there is another, larger accuracy issue, but if I discussed it I would give away an important spoiler about the plot.

The inaccuracies don’t really matter, though, as I’ve finally come to understand (it’s taken me over ten years as a published author to grasp this point). The goal of the cover art and the back cover description is not accuracy. The goal is to evoke an emotion that sells the book. It’s probably better that the author not have much input on these things, as we’re novelists, not designers or marketers.

4. Is there anything that you would change about the cover?

I did get a chance to make some changes, the biggest being that when the ‘final’ cover was sent to me, the heroine’s hands were on her arms backwards! Also, she was naked, and given that a big deal was made to me about how I must never have the heroine naked with the hero in the story, I thought it was a mistake to portray her that way on the cover. Ahem. (see attachment)

So they reattached her hands to the correct arms, and put a tank top on her. The only change I would make now would be to show a little more of the hero’s face.

5. What's one of your favorite book covers?

There are so many beautiful covers out there, and yet I don’t have a favorite. I only find myself thinking of books I loved to read, whether or not the covers were good! I do like covers that use classic works of art, like Vermeer’s painting on the cover of Girl with a Pearl Earring. But do I like it because the art is so lovely, or because it’s familiar? It’s a fact of human nature that we like best that which we have seen before.

I wish I had a more straightforward answer to the question!
I think her answer was just fine, don't you? Thank you so much for answering my questions Lisa!
Here's a bit about Lisa:
Lisa Cach is the award-winning author of more than twenty romantic novels and novellas, ranging across sub-genres from Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary, and Chick Lit, to Young Adult. Her novel “Dating Without Novocaine” was named one of Waldenbooks’ “Best Books of 2002,” and she is a two-time finalist for the prestigious RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America.

Lisa Cach was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where she still lives today. Her professional background includes teaching conversational English in Japan, and several years working the graveyard shift on a mental health crisis line. She has traveled to the foothills of the Himalaya, the jungles of Borneo, the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, and the painted caves of the Perigord Noir, in France. She has sailed the Caribbean as a working crew member of a research schooner, and the Bering Sea as a guest on a small ship.

Her love of travel has lately given way to pursuits closer to home: cooking, gardening, drawing. And, of course, reading. Her favorite book has always been Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”, while the only book to ever give her nightmares was Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review and Blog Tour: Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach

Title: Wake Unto Me
Author: Lisa Cach
Published: March 31st, 2011
Source: The Teen {Book} Scene Blog Tours
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Caitlyn Monahan knows she belongs somewhere else. It's what her dead mother's note suggested, and it's what her recurring nightmares allude to. Desperate to flee these terrifying dreams and her small town she accepts a spot at a boarding school in France. Only, when she arrives, her nightmares get worse. But then there are her amazing dreams, so vivid and so real, with visits from an alluring, mysterious, and gorgeous Italian boy from the 1500s. Caitlyn knows they are soul mates, but how can she be in love with someone who exists only in her dreams? Then, as her reality and dream world collide, Caitlyn searches for the real reason why she was brought to this school. And what she discovers will change her life forever.

Well, this book definitely wasn't what I was expecting! The cover is a bit misleading, making it seem like she's haunted in waking, rather than her dreams. I was surprised by the direction this story took, but not in a bad way at all! There was way more mystery than I thought there would be. It had a lot of historical aspects to it as well, which I enjoyed. It wasn't quite as paranormal as I thought it would be, which is a good thing. I'm starting to get a little burned out on paranormal. Though it's not intentional, the beginning, middle, and end of this book are three distinct, separate parts.

The beginning was a little shaky. The pacing was a bit awkward, and it told, rather than showed, her home life and her past. I didn't get a very good sense of who Caitlyn is in the beginning, and most of the characters were flat. This is probably because most of the characters aren't a very big part of the book after the first couple chapters.

The middle was the most enjoyable part. Cach really got into the groove and the pacing was neither too fast or too slow. The characters are much more dynamic, including Caitlyn. I really got a sense of who Caitlyn, and her new friends at her school in France, were. I thought the dream sequences were perfect, there weren't so many that she was practically never awake, but there weren't so few that we forgot what happened the previous time.

The end got a little..strange for me. The pace really sped up, to a point where it was too fast. A lot of different ideas came together at once, and more than one mystery was wrapped up in a short time. It got a little confusing, and was less believable than the middle. I enjoyed the way it ended, I just felt like it happened too fast.

Overall I thought this book was really enjoyable. I loved the mystery, the romance, and the setting. There were a few issues with the more technical things like pacing, but I really enjoyed the story. If you're a fan of paranormals, and even historical fiction, you'll want to check this book out!

Characters: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Overall: 40/50 B-

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Joint Review: Saving Francesca and The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

Title: Saving Francesca
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published: May, 2006
Source: The Library
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys' school that's pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

Title: The Piper's Son
Author: Melina Marchetta
Published: March, 2011
Source: The Library
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Award-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca - but five years have passed, and now it’s Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favorite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can’t forget. Shooting for oblivion, he’s hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom’s in no shape to mend what’s broken. But what if no one else is either? An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper’s Son redefines what it means to go home again.

I read these books back to back, and as there set in the same universe I didn't see the harm in reviewing them at the same time. Melina Marchetta is a truly spectacular author. I am so happy her books are available in the United States because she is now one of my favorites. It all started when I read Jellicoe Road. Now I know that if it's by Melina Marchetta it's bound to be amazing.

Saving Francesca and The Piper's Son both have a quiet grace. Honestly, the stories really aren't very remarkable. The lives of both Francesca and Tom aren't especially extraordinary. They don't have special powers, or an undead love interest, and they both live in the present. The characters are what make these books special. They are so defined, so real, that I feel like I know them. And oh, how I feel for them.

Both Francesca and Tom have had hard things in their lives. Francesca has to deal with her mothers depression, as well as going to a mostly boys school. Tom's uncle died because of a suicide bomber. Both of these things affect more than just Francesca and Tom, they affect their entire families. These books aren't just about the main characters dealing with these things, they're about their families and friends as well.

I'm not a huge fan of third person narrating, as you may know. Somehow Marchetta makes me like it. I feel the same connection with the characters I would if it was in first person, which is quite a feat. Something remarkable is not only can I tolerate third person when reading these books, I actually view it as an advantage. Most of the books I've stopped reading before finishing are told in third person. This is a huge deal.

To say that I enjoyed these books is an understatement. I adored, loved, and devoured these books. Melina Marchetta is now cemented on my list of favorite authors, and I'm definitely going to read everything she ever writes. So, if you have yet to read one of her books I suggest you do, and soon!

Saving Francesca:
Characters: 10/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 49/50 A+

The Piper's Son:
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 47/50 A

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: The Candidates (Delcoix Academy #1) by Inara Scott

Title: The Candidates (Delcroix Academy #1)
Author: Inara Scott
Published: August 2010
Source: The Library
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just...happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, belieiving this way she can supress her powers and keep them hidden.

But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses--not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.

And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the Academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. But Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her "gift" than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her understand how to use it...But not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy.

I'm just going to start by saying that I didn't love this book. I thought it was okay, not great. I'm definitely not saying that me not loving it has everything to do with the book, because some of it has to do with me. I think that I'm outgrowing a few things: mysterious, unexplainable powers, boarding school, and love triangles. All three of those things are featured in this book.

I felt that most of the characters in this book were flat. I couldn't get a good feel for a lot of their personalities, and a couple of them switched from friend to foe back to friend so many times that I didn't even know what to think by the end. I think that Dancia being a freshman was something that kept me from fully connecting with her or viewing her romantic feelings as legitimate. Her personality was also hard for me to get a feel for. It seemed a little inconsistant.

The pacing of the book was erratic. At times I would feel like it was dragging, then it would speed up and I would be confused. I also didn't think the setting was described well. I found myself skimming the end because it was just going way to slow, but where I normally would have been skimming setting description I was skimming Dancia's thoughts.

There were things I enjoyed about this book. Dancia's grandmother was the most dynamic character of them all, and she was fun to read about. Dancia not having much money at all was also nice because I don't see a lot of YA where the main character is concerned about money.

As I stated above, some of why I didn't like this book is simply because I've started to outgrow love triangles, boarding school, and mysterious powers. If you love those then you should definitely give this book a chance.

Basically, I liked this book but didn't love it. You should give it a shot if you love paranormal books.

Characters: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 39/50 C+

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published: February 2010
Source: The Library
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

I'm not a faery person. I've tried to like books about fey, really. Wicked Lovely? Meh. Tithe? Bleh. The fey and I just don't seem to get along well. When I first heard about this book I just dismissed it as another fey book that I wouldn't like. Then I kept seeing these reviews that were positively glowing, and I was intrigued. That's why I picked it up when I saw it at my library. I'm so, so happy I did.

The beginning was a little hard to get into. I wasn't a huge fan of Meghan in the beginning, and when the weird stuff starts happening I normally start to not like the book. Somehow that wasn't the case with this book, it was compulsively readable. Even if I didn't really like what was happening I still had to keep reading.

Meghan grew on me, and once I was a good chunk into the book I realized that the impossible had happened. I actually liked a faery book! I think a large part of the credit goes to Puck and Ash. The whole love triangle thing isn't super obvious yet, but there's a subtle tension that makes things so much more interesting. Dark, broody, sexy Ash is my favorite. I like Puck, but his personality would not mesh well with mine.

Something that bothered me is that the book could be kind of wordy. I'm not someone who reads all of the details, I like getting the general idea. I do understand that she had to describe a completely foreign world along with imaginary creatures, but I found myself skimming paragraphs quite a few times. There were also a couple times that I thought the plot was dragging a bit.

Basically I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would! I would recommend it to just about anyone!

Characters: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Originality: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 44/50 B+
Related Posts with Thumbnails