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-
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