Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Presenting... movies In My brain!

Okay, so because of the somewhat small responses (thanks Ann, InABox, Stephanie and throuthehaze) on my Sunday post, I decided Why Not?, and to go ahead with this shin-dig.

First, like the title? I thought of it all by myself =p... That's what I'm calling this "Movie Week" thing instead of just movie week which is bland and a tad unoriginal, I will shamelessly self-promote my blog..so...
*drumroll please*...

holes In My brain is proud to present: "movies In My brain", a 5-day-long movie fanatic affair in which movies triumph over books! And that only occurs ONCE every 52 WEEKS!


It runs from Monday April 5 to Friday April 9, 2010 (which is next week!). Anyone is invited to join in (you don't have to participate for the whole week, just dedicate perhaps a post or two to sharing movies you love!)

Please (if you're participating) leave a link to your post about movies in the comments below, and I will try my best to add the link into this post! You don't even have to write a movie review, just share something movie-related! Favourite chick flicks? Comedies? Horror movies? Actors who are attractive? Actors who can actually act? Actresses you admire? Movies you cringe at? Quotes from movies? ANYTHING!!

Thanks, and to you movies: cherish this week. We all know books are going to win it in the end...

A huge thanks to Natalie at Mindful Musings that dedicated a post to help advertise this!! Thank you!

Now.. I present the "movies In My brain" posts from around the blogosphere!!


Please check them out and tell them how awesome they are!

Monday, March 29, 2010

BR: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side


by Beth Fantaskey

So this book has been around for a while, and I want to say, I think it was on The Story Siren's best books of 2009 post? I'm not sure, but it was one of the "big time" bloggers, ya know? So I requested it at the library around January, never got around to read it (reasons I'll explain below) and then borrowed it again last week. With nothing to do over the weekend, I started it Sunday night and finished it today at school.

Summary:
Jessica is a normal girl, in a normal town, goes to a normal school, has a normal best friend, and just wants to get through her senior year in high school (with a boy, maybe). Until her plans get screwed up when a mysterious Romanian "exchange student" who claims he is a Vampire interrupts her normal life, and claims Jessica is his long-lost betrothed. Lucius Vladescu is everything you can imagine from "mysterious Romanian student" aka, the typical arrogant, good-at-everything, and extremely attractive boy.

Jessica's got her sights on a different boy though, a 'nice' boy Jake. She doesn't believe in something as irrational as vampires, until she finds out she is caught in the middle of a great war, and maybe, just maybe, she might be developing feelings for Lucius.

Review:

Don't worry, the positive-ier review is near the end!

Be prepared, I've got a lot of thoughts about this book swimming in my head. First, my first reaction when I read the title of the book when it was first being released: is this a joke? I mean, is this like a parody of paranormal romance? I couldn't' take it seriously, to be honest, so that's why I didn't read it at first. (I'm sorry!) It's a catchy title and all that, but just didn't make the book as credible.

Secondly, Lucius. I feel bad for that boy, and I really really dislike the name. It reminds me of Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter, so every time his dark hair is mentioned, I have to remind myself he isn't a blond haired image of Draco Malfoy. You know? When your mind makes those connections, and you have to snap yourself back into 'reality', it gets kind of annoying. Maybe it's just my head. And keeping with names, Antanasia? I disliked the idea of her having a second name that seems like a royal alter ego. Having two names was a thing that I personally found... irritating. It just made Jessica seem less real for some reason. As if she can just pull off her mask and turn into an Antanasia princess vampire. Again, just my opinion.


*SPOILERS BELOW!!!!*


Thirdly, (bear with me here!) and perhaps the most aggravating part of the book was the "needs-a-name Syndrome" where she becomes completely infatuated/obsessed/"worried" about her precious Luscious Lucius that she completely brushes off her best friend Mindy. Mindy was portrayed quite well, and I actually really enjoyed the scenes she was in (despite being shallow and cookie-cutter), it wasn't like she was a complete idiotic-pest-best-friend (like Vee from Hush, Hush--I could understand why anybody would want to brush her off). She was nice, loyal and everything, but nuh-uh, Lucius comes first! Jessica lies to Mindy basically throughout the book about her vampire-ness, and when Mindy is just fed up and 'gives up' because Jessica gives no explanation about the whole mess, Jessica does nothing to try and repair their friendship. That is, apart from moaning about it when Mindy doesn't come to her b-day... oh poor baby. Please, protagonists, remember you used to have...friends! Not just the boy toy.


Fourthly, I didn't think the romance seemed genuine. I liked Jessica's attitude at the beginning, and didn't even mind Lucius' actions of over protectiveness and "you-belong-with-meeee" (unlike my feelings about Keenan from Wicked Lovely). I thought their interactions were funny, and admired Jessica's will. But when she started developing feelings for him, it felt a bit like teen crushes again, I'm not sure whether it was because I thought it could have been developed more, or if she just didn't have as sound reasoning behind it as I hoped there would be. Especially all those "I love you" scenes at the end, didn't really work for me.

*END SPOILERS!*


Fifthly, I hate to say this, but apart from Jessica, the characters lacked originality. They seemed cookie-cutter like, for example: Lucius- what else but brooding, mysterious, chivalrous, medieval -like, handsome, impeccable manners, smart, and incredibly hot? Does that not sound familiar, like all those other love interests in all those other paranormal romance books. Although I do give him brownie points for not being angsty and "omg I am a horrible person...you deserve better than me" attitude, that is, until the end.
Mindy (while I adored her) was the stereotype with a twist: she was an awesome best friend, read those gossip/fashion magazines, loved shopping, loud, rambunctious, and boy obsessed. Twist? She's likable and actually in the picture (until, again, the end).
Her parents weren't anything special, but were always there for her, so I guess they were good. But then Jake, who was severely underdevloped, was only described as 'nice', and I never really felt he had any connection with Jessica apart from his looks.
Faith is another sterotypical character: the blond cheerleader antagonist. God, why is there always one? The slutty, mean, bitchy girl who is popular. And drools after Lucius as well....sound familiar?

Okay, on to the good things!!

I loved the writing style. Jessica's voice is definitely very clear, refreshing, and both funny and interesting. It was a pleasure reading about her thoughts, it wasn't all angst-angst-angst!! The turmoil in her head when she dealt with her feelings regarding being a vampire, and about the boys is well written, and I thought her confusion was well warranted.

I loved Lucius' letters to his uncle. They were so funny, with the type of word choices that reminds me of my friend. One of those "use 7 words even though 3 will do" type of people, and using thesaurus words with style! Very fun to read, especially about squatty boy!

And despite Lucius being unoriginal, I was a fan. Maybe not a rabid fan, but I got fond of him by the end, and admired his efforts to keep Jessica safe.

I LOVED the guidebook that is given to her, "Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions." It made me giggle when she first saw it, just a funny name. I love how when it was read, it almost felt like a brochure, all happy and lively with exclamation marks!!! and it just generally sounded funny. Loved the idea (and the title!)

Lastly, the plot was admirable. Unique take on vampires, but I do wish there were a bit more plot twists. Like a good guy is actually a spy or something, but nope. Pretty straight forward, but good nonetheless. I thought the plot started escalating, and definitely became more and more interesting (especially when the vamps arrived) towards the end, and to my surprise, I enjoyed the climax.

I know it seems as if I really tore into this book, but I just want to say, those were just my little nitpicks, and this book just had a lot of them I could rant about. However, despite all my negative thoughts about certain aspects, I thought the book was actually a very good read. Fantaskey really tied everything together well with a great protagonist, Jessica, and excellent writing! It had action, romance, and a strong-willed girl, a great combination if I do say so myself.

8.7/10 - because despite the things I disliked, I liked the overall book quite a bit. Enjoyable writing, protagonist, and plot really made the book enjoyable. Please don't think that I am a book-hater because I wrote some negative thoughts, they are MY PERSONAL OPINIONS, and I don't mean to offend anyone. I would recommend this book to people who like: vampires, paranormal romance, light reads, funny reads, and books with strong protagonists who can still be nice!!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

movie Week? yay or Nay?

So I'll admit, this week I didn't finish any books because (insert embarrassed emoticon *here*) I was too busy either watching movies or rereading various books (Going too Far, The Ask and the Answer for starters, even though I've got some awesome books on my bedside table right now :S). Back to watching movies- my mom rented quite a few of those 'new releases' and I myself went through a movie watching phase.

Okay okay, phase might be overdoing it. Let's just say a movie-watching fascination, because I only watched like 5 or so movies... And I'm not the biggest movie-lover out there, sitting still for 2 hours straight is hard!

SO: I was wondering, how would you guys feel if I were to do something like a "Movie Week" where I write short reviews about movies (newer ones) as opposed to bookish things? Take a break from the words and watch the screen?

If you're curious, the movie reviews would most likely be for: The Hurt Locker, The Blindside, Julie & Julia, Up In the Air, and a random one.... notice the "Oscar" theme?

And if you like, check out my previous Movie "Reviews/thoughts" for The Proposal and Star Trek. You can probably expect something similar to that!

Leave a comment telling me if you would rather me do my usual book memes/book-related stuff or you would like to see a week filled with movie-related things!!!






PS- if I end up doing a movie extravaganza (which is, again, overstating) feel free to do some too :D We can't all be bookworms 24/7!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Series Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians


by Rick Riordan

This is more of a short post, and won't really include much individual summaries/reviews as opposed to group reviews. At the bottom, you can see my overall thoughts, and individual ratings for each book!!

The series (which is complete) consists of 5 books, links to goodreads:
  1. The Lightning Thief
  2. The Sea of Monsters
  3. The Titan's Curse
  4. The Battle of the Labyrinth
  5. The Last Olympian

So... a summary?

Basically, Percy Jackson, a 12 year old at book 1, and almost 16 in book 5, finds out he is the son of a God and a human (so he's a demigod). Now, I know that when I first heard of this idea, I thought it would be lame and cheesy, but I think the author really pulled it off. Percy has so many adventures it's impossible to summarize, but everything he does just builds up to the Great Prophecy.... dun dun dunn

Now, my mini-review/thoughts:

I really liked this series. I thought it reminded me of Harry Potter in the way that it started out as a whisper, aimed at younger audiences, but ended with a huge bang of explosion and fireworks that would appeal to YA readers. The constant action and adventure is reminicent of HPs bad luck with Voldy, and Rick Riordan the author also introduces so many cool half-creatures and expertly weaves Greek mythology undertones into the story. I don't know about you, but I loved Greek mythology when studying it in school, so it made me smile when the book mentioned something I remembered studying 5 years ago.

Now to the characters: I will admit, Percy would be appealing to the general population of both gendres, he is heroic to a fault, funny, and is pretty darn powerful. I will be the first to say,, however, that he is a bit of a perfect character, I can sense no serious flaws apart from his greatest fault: "extreme loyalty to people he loves".... yeah, you know where that is going. If you read my review of the Study Series, you know that I absolutly detest "mary-sue" characters who have everything and are super-duper, yet I couldn't really help but cheer on Percy as he slayed the next mythical monster.

The other characters, like Annabeth and Tyson aren't very deep either. I did really really like the character of Grover, funny but still brave (and he's a satyr! lol, go goat feat). The antagonist, Luke, is one of the best characters, but I won't spoil it!

Lastly, the plot is where the book really shined. Reminicent of Skulduggery minus the wittiness, it was action-action-action, swordfights, explosions, looming deadlines, so much constant adventure that I found it hard to put down the books. Did I mention I read the entire series in less than a week? That's how addicting it was after I got through the first book. The action is appealing to readers of most ages (if I were to put an age range, I would say 8-18). To me, I felt the first book was hard to get through, and the second one was just a bit better. I liked the fact that it escalated in excitement and action as the series continued though. I can't fault the plot, it had everything I wanted and expected (which was action and adventure), and more.


Bottom Line: Excellent adventure and action, books got better as the series continued, somewhat shallow but still appealing characters (in danger of getting mary-sue-y), a bit of humor, lots of appeal, and a great plot with a satisfying and climatic ending.

Individual Book Ratings:

The Lightning Thief (7.7)
The Sea of Monsters (8)
The Titan's Curse (8.2)The Battle of the Labyrinth (8.5)
The Last Olympian (9)

Series Rating: 8.4






PS - A lovely reviewer, Kelsey, has written a wonderful post (HERE!) that compares the Percy Jackson series to Harry Potter, if you want more encouragement to read the novel! Warning: it is a Book Review for Books 2, 3, and 4, so they may contain spoilers!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Finest (8)

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

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

How many of you guessed there would be another Patrick Ness book being quoted? I recently finished it (amazing) and dog-eared (sorry!) the quotes I loved. And I'm sad that I'll have to return it to the library! I'm gonna include 2 quotes now, one is a bit more sinister.

Book: The Ask and the Answer
by Patrick Ness


Quote 1: "We are the choices we make."

Quote 2: "I have two maxims that I believe, dear girl," the Mayor says, coming slowly toward us. "One, if you can control yourself, you can control others. Two, if you can control information, you can control others."


~&~

True? I especially like the first one, but the second one makes me think...

Leave a comment with a quote from a book you like! Or maybe just tell me if you love Patrick Ness :P

His third book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy is out in May (in the UK) and Sept (in US) I believe.





Thursday, March 25, 2010

BR: When You Reach Me


by Rebecca Stead

This one recently won the Newberry Medal (which is like the nobel prize for children's literature, I believe) so I wanted to read it, despite it being an MG novel.

**This book is part of my "Take Another Chance Challenge" for #4- Prize Winner Book (Newberry)**

Summary (from goodreads): Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:
I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

My Thoughts
:

I liked this book, that much is easy to say. I liked the fluidity of the writing, and characters, the way it tied in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle in a way that doesn't make me cringe (I personally wasn't a huge fan of the AWiT). I thought the characters were well written, fleshed out, complex, and intriguing, along with the mystery being pretty darn good. The setting was so realistic, and the narrative so well done that I could definitely see and feel as if I were in the book.

That aside, I kind of felt that even thought the plot and mystery was really good, I just couldn't get myself to connect with it. Maybe it was because I'm not as used to the genre, or MG books in general, but I felt that although the writing was excellent, it couldn't suck me into caring (a lot) about what would happen. Do you know what I mean? Like it doesn't take a genius to know that the plot/writing is well done, yet I couldn't get myself to like it.

I didn't understand the ending until thinking back about it, which I thought was a bonus because I love books that make you think. I thought the way Stead expertly weaved the answer to everything throughout the book was superb. 1978 Manhattan, and $20,000 Pyramid game was a unique addition to the book too. I also thought that above all, the friendships portrayed in the book was exceedingly realistic, and the turmoil experienced by each character is smart.

7.9/10
- because I don't know how to put this down into words, basically: I can recognize the excellence in the book, yet that didn't make me like it. It was enjoyable on some level, but not on other levels that I actually care about. I can see many many people of all ages loving this book though. It has it all: mystery, plot, characters, writing, and sci-fi! I recommend it and hope you like it more than I do, because it is definitey worth the read.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday's 3 Couples (4)

Wednesday's 3 Couples is a post/meme I created for myself to help me regulate posts. It is biweekly, and usually has a theme! It lets me share my love of YA lit couples with others.

This week's theme: blechhhh (as in, annoying and just generally unpleasant to read about)
And although Twilight would probably take the cake, I'll leave it off this one.

*Spoilers may be included!!*


1. Grace and Sam (Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater)
-Um, this one might bring some "awwes" from other people, but I find it unrealistic and slightly creepy. For one, Grace immediately loves Sam...after obsessing over him when he was a wolf. The relationship was syrupy and just too fast.
-Read my opinion on this love HERE, and my review of Shiver HERE.

2. Aislinn and Keenan (Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr)
-Blech, just the thought of Keenan's arrogance and annoying tendancies to chase a girl who is clearly NOT INTERESTED is echh.
-Listen to me rant about this HERE.

3. Liz and Owen (Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin)
-This time, I just felt it was unconvincing. The relationship itself was sweet, but the writing in the book kinda made it feel more shallow and unrealistic.
-Read my review of Elsewhere HERE

---

Your thoughts? Any couples you just can't stand? Couples that you thought should have been on this list??? Leave your ideas in the comments!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Winners!!

So.. my very first contest is over, and the giveaway ended up with 3 winners!


Cut to the chase:

The winner of grand prize, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting is... Jenny K!!

The winner of $10 from BookDepository.com is...Chelsea!!

and... the winner of Wake by Lisa McMann is Ella!!


**I have emailed the winners for their shipping addresses, please reply within 72 hours to claim your prize! :]




Some of you guys might have the same names but no email, sorry! In fact, I counted 3 Lindseys and 3 Elizabeths on my contest spreadsheet :D


I had 98 entrants, and 857 entries! so..that means like 60 of you didn't leave a comment on the post like I asked you to, but I let it slide... this time :p

And..some interesting answers (I'll keep them anonymous, I didn't ask if I could post these :/)
For the contest form, I had an extra entry where you asked yourself a question and answered it. Here are some creative responses!!


Which character is my favorite in Alice's Wonderland? why the Cheshire Cat of course! Crazy, fun, and a little twisted....gotta love him.

What is your favorite food? Artichokes dipped in nutritional yeast dissolved in melted Earth Balance. YUM!!!! (errrr....really?... haha)

What is a food that i love to say randomly?
PIE!

What is my goal in life?
World Domination

What book would you recommend?
THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak. I lovelovelove it. (me too. me too.)

Dead or Undead?
Undead!

What do I feel like doing right now???
I feel like having a Snow-ball! New Orleans does have the best and I've totally been craving one. =)

How good are those chips you're eating?
Very

Do you like grapes?
I love grapes!

Do you get freaked out by eggs??
yes, indeed! (no way! that's so weird! :P)


I know this is kind of random, but you wouldn't believe how many of you guys' Q & A included food XD, I like the way you people think!

~&~


Once again, thank you guys all for making my contest a huge success (in my eyes). Please stay tuned, I am planning another one hopefully sometime soon!!! And don't worry, it'll be international again :)

Also, if you want, leave a comment telling me your opinions on extra entries. I'm not sure whether or not to include them :/

Lastly, again, congrats to the winners!!!

BR: Coraline


by Neil Gaiman

So I got this book for $1 at my local library's (awesome) book sale, ripped off the barcodes/spine labels, so it now looks like a book I own... lol =p And it's in awesome condition as well :)

**This book is part of my Take Another Chance Challenge for #5- Title Word Count**

Coraline is about a girl who moves into a new flat with her family, and finds out that behind a door is nothing but a brick wall. Until one day, she unlocks that door and it leads her down a corridor to another flat just like her own...except the "mom" and "dad" on the other side are eerily similar, yet different from her real parents. At first, she loves this "other side" because of good food and good clothes, until she finds other children are trapped there, in the claws of her "other mom", who has decided to keep Coraline for herself forever... She needs to use her wit and courage to rescue these children's souls and finally find a way out of the flat herself.

Thoughts:

This book is a book for all ages, and by this I mean it reads a lot less like a YA novel and more of a MG novel (which isn't exactly what I enjoy reading the most). Told in third-person, I felt that despite Gaiman's unarguable writing talent, I was being told a lot more than being shown. Snippets of genius writing where the description is vivid and the prose is strong would be followed by another, "Coraline did this now. And then did this, then that." I felt let down and usually, if this writing can be pushed aside for the amazing plot or story, I could let it go. However, it just didn't flow to a point where I forgot about it, it seemed as if the writing was all I noticed.

Here is an example: "Then she looked up and saw the expression on her other mother's face: a flash of real anger, which crossed her face like summer lightning, and Coraline was sure in her heart that what she had seen in the mirror was no more than an illusion.
Coraline sat down on the sofa and ate her apple."
Like the first sentence is descriptive, and gives an amazing image into the readers mind, followed by a "Coraline did this and that" which felt like a letdown. I'm not a literacy genius, because maybe this was intentional or alluding to something, or whatever (I don't think so in depth about this stuff), so maybe it has a deeper meaning that just goes completely over my head.

Secondly,
I felt that since it was more of a MG novel, the characters weren't as complex, fleshed out, or three-dimensional. Being MG isn't an excuse, of course, but I think it is tad more expected (no offense!). Again, I felt I kept being told what type of person Coraline was, and being told that the other mom was horrible, and being told that the old ladies down the hall were old ladies. The protagonists and antagonists just never really connected for me. I did quite enjoy the sinister descriptions of the other mother's appendage at the end of the book ;).. along with the eccentric characters , even the talking cats and mice. I felt they were quite unique and original.

Lastly, the plot was decent. It was Coraline being smart and 'doing the right thing', rescuing the children from the other flat. The idea wasn't completely original, but I thought Gaiman put enough of a twist on it to make it entertaining. I especially liked the things that seemed to "come alive" when she is looking for a way out. The suspense was there, and so was the "semi-adventure" feel of the book (it's not action-action-action, just mystery-action, if you know what I mean).


7.5/10 - Because it was a somewhat fun read with a plot that would be appealing more to a reader seeking a light read, or to a MGer/preteen. There isn't really a "wow" factor for me, but it was still entertaining. My first Neil Gaiman book too!
Also, there's the Tim Burton animated movie, not sure if I will watch it, but if you have seen it, leave a comment and tell me if it's good!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Series Review: Study Series

By Maria V. Snyder

Books in series: Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study

I will tell you right now, I did NOT finish the series. I devoured Poison Study, trudged through Magic Study, and then threw Fire Study against the wall, with many *face-palm-books* along the way. So if the fact that I didn't finish the series is not your cup of tea, feel free to ignore this post, and read this booklist by Steph Su where the Study books make every single one of her book lists.

Now, the format of this review will just be summary (from goodreads) then review for each book, then a final "series review".

Poison Study (Rating- 9.1)
Summary:
Choose:
A quick death
Or slow poison
Yelena has a choice – be executed for murder, or become food taster to the commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived. Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can’t. And who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?
When Yelena realises she had extraordinary magical powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death...

Review: My absolute favourite of the series by a long shot, Poison Study is everything all the blogs and reviews made it up to be. An interesting premise, smart plotting, great and engaging characters, plot twists, and excellent writing. Yelena is a complex character in the fact that she constantly struggles with figuring out what the heck others want from her, along with dealing with a troubled past. She's vulnerable and strong at the same time. I also loved her friends Ari and Janco, for those who've read the book, you know why they are amazing :). I liked the idea of her being the food taster and basically facing a possiblity of injury every day. The ending was amazing, fast paced and with the plot surprises and twists that made me keep flipping pages to find out what happens next, only to raise another question that is satisfyingly answered.
I definitely recommend you read this book, and even read it as a stand-alone. Warning though, there are some graphic scenes for more mature readers.

Magic Study (Rating- 7.8)
*SPOILERS AHEAD (what did you expect? It's a summary for a sequel!)*
Summary:
You know your life is bad when you miss your days as a poison taster.
Completing her apprenticeship could prove deadly...With an execution order on her head, Yelena has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth. With only a year to master her magic - or face death - Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician's Keep. But nothing in Sitia is familiar. Not the family to whom she is a stranger. Not the unsettling new facets of her magic. Nor the brother who resents her return. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her rare powers, a rogue magician emerges - and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in battle of good against evil. And once again it will be her magical abilities that will either save her life...or be her downfall.

Review *Major SPOILERS*: It started out really good, with Yelena being "exiled" out of Ixia, and going to its neighboring nation of Sitia, where she has to learn to harness, use, and understand her newly found magic at Magicians' Keep.

Then...she meets her family, and her troubled brother Lief, gets into trouble, gets out of trouble, gets the best "master magician" to tutor her, learns she has a rare and speshul magic (soulfinder..really?), all while solving the mystery of a crazy man who is raping and killing girls. I'm sorry, but she becomes the type of character I just really dislike, the character like Bella who suddenly has the best magic EVAR, has the perfect lover, and basically all the Master Magicians listening to her amazing ideas (except for the stereotypical One who seems to hate her for no reason!).

Plus, along the way she makes the most powerful friends (like Moon Man) and has a horse who can go amazingly fast...whoa! I read this book while ago so I can't really recall any of her flaws except for her need for attention/doing-the-right-thing/being-amazing-all-by-herself, oh and she can't make fire.
I cannot deny that the plot is still gripping, and the writing is just as smooth, along with intersting and intriguing characters, and an awesome mystery, but it was just the way Yelena was written by Snyder that made me constantly dislike the fact that she is so darned perfect.
I would recommend this book either way, becuase I know that many many people do not have the same dislikes for perfect-ish characters.

Fire Study (Rating- 4) --Did Not Finish [I read a quarter of it]
Summary:
Yelena's new role as Soulfinder has made the Sitian Council uneasy. Worried that her new powers will corrupt her, the Council debates her fate. Yelena, though is trying to keep Sitia and Ixia from going to war. In the middle of political wrangling, Yelena receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by Ferde, the Soulstealer who murdered eleven girls and has escaped from prison with Cahil Ixia’s help. Cahil believes if he joins with the new Daviian Clan, he will have enough support to regain the Ixian throne. Testing the limit of her skills, Yelena becomes embroiled in the desperate fight to stop Ferde and the Daviian Clan from siphoning enough power to unleash a Fire Warper on the world. That would be worst than war between the northern and southern lands. Especially since, of all the powers Yelena possesses, she couldn't set fire to a candle wick if her life depended on it. And there is more at stake than just her life.


Review: Okay, what is my reason for not being able to finish this book? Well, that one's easy. Yelena is too perfect, and building on the perfecting Yelena in Magic Study, she becomes even more powerful, and she gets to do everything her way all the while trying to get us to empathize with her with the excuse: she is putting her life in danger!! oh noes!!
It came to a point where I just didn't care about her (which isn't a very good thing for me when reading novels). It came to a point where everything she did would be the right thing, whether or nto she had support fromt he people in power...I mean she had Valek, her uber-horse, and Moon Man, right?! It just got annoying and too much Mary-Sueishness for me to handle (the perfect heroine/hero is a personal pet peeve) so I stopped reading it and don't regret it at all.
I can't recommend this to people because I couldn't finish it. :o


And...
I apologize if I'm sounding harsh or anything, but this is, again, MY OWN OPINION, and thus, EXTREMELY BIASED. You can ignore it completely and try the series for yourself! In fact, I do recommend you try it.

Now for the Series Review:

The Study series by Maria V. Snyder starts out with a bang, tries to continue it but then falls into a sad pit of unlikable characters. The first book I would definitely recommend you all to read, it is a great fantasy novel with an excellent, well though out premise. Yelena is a flawed, likable character you want to root for. If you like it, read the second one, and if you like the way Yelena is portrayed, by all means continue. The writing is excellent, smooth without awkwardness or head-scratching things. The plot itself has lots of twists and turns, and the world-building of Ixia and Sitia by Snyder is really really phenomenal. It reminds me of the Hunger Games, in fact, which is an amazingly high compliment. If you don't mind the perfect heroine, this series would fit most people very well!

Recap of Ratings:
Poison Study (9.1) amazing, must read!!
Magic Study (7.8) kinda going downhill, excellent plot though!
Fire Study (4) did not finish, eek, unlikeable, super-amazing Yelena is not my cup of tea.

OVERALL SERIES RATING: 7.8

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Finest (7)

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts.
Rules:
~Post a quote that really stuck to you after reading it in a book.
~Make sure it isn't a spoiler!
~If you'd like, expand on what you think it means and why you chose it.


This is from a book I read last week, but it sticks with me and is so powerful, raw, and dark. I definitely recommend it and I hope (*lol, doubt it*) that I can get around to reviewing it for you on this blog. The writing style is amazing!


Book: The Knife of Never Letting Go
by Patrick Ness


Quote:
" "Here's what I think," I say and my voice is stronger and thoughts are coming, thoughts that trickle into my noise like whispers of truth. "I think maybe everybody falls," I say. "I think maybe we all do. And I don't think that's the asking."
I pull on her arms gently to make sure she's listening.
"I think the asking is whether we get back up again.""


True? Yes? No?
And have you read the book before? Did you like it?



Thursday, March 18, 2010

Author Appreciation Week: Patrick Ness

Author Appreciation Week was started by the lovely Heidi R. Kling, author of the upcoming awesome novel Sea (And Sarah from Novel Novice made the awesome banner). Author Appreciation Week runs from March 15-19, and basically anyone who wants to can post about authors that they, you know, appreciate.

This one might seem odd, but I do have a mini-story behind this, which I will gladly make into bullet points because that seems like the popualr thing to do for AAW. Patrick Ness is the award-winning author of The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking trilogy, book 1 and 2). Book three, Monsters of Men, is released in May in the UK, and I believe September for US/Canada.



Personally, I've only read the first of the series, but I'm starting the second one today! And he gets this post because there are scenes in the book that are breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time, and it almost gives me shivers.


Time for the bullets---and apologies in advance if they don't make much sense. Just read it as a simplified story =p


  • Amazing author of The Knife of Never Letting Go, a thought-provoking dystopian novel :)
  • He has amazing prose, if you read his books you'll know what I'm talking about--it might not be for everyone though, but I can't recommend you try it enough!
  • His characterization, and sense of character (including dogs) is phenomenal.

  • I'm doing a Pecha Kucha (basically a power point presentation) on the Knife, I'm expanding on his opinions of information overload, and the invasion of privacy that is contextualized (omg, I love that word, haha) in the book

  • His interviews that I have recently stalked are very very insightful, thoughtful, and interesting. And they helped me out with my project so brownie points!

  • He is a man writing for YA- I hate to be sexist, but he's kinda in the minority (but with amazing company..like John Green!! lol)
If you want, check out his interview with Publishers Weekly, YA Reads, Presenting Lenore and The Book Depository. All links link directly to the interview, not the site.

Also, visit his website HERE :)


And tell me, have you read any of his books? And which author do you think deserves to be appreciated this week! So many to choose from!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Author Appreciation Week: Melina Marchetta



Author Appreciation Week was started by the lovely Heidi R. Kling, author of the upcoming awesome novel Sea (And Sarah from Novel Novice made the awesome banner). Author Appreciation Week runs from March 15-19, 2010, and basically anyone who wants to can post about authors that they, you know, appreciate.

After rereading obsessively (I don't use that term lightly) Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road by the amazing Australian author Melina Marchetta, I have deemed her my favourite author. Well, second favourite, but I don't like to count JK Rowling who basically defined my childhood with her Harry Potter series. So after JK, it's Melina.


And I just wanted to say, I've never interviewed or emailed her ever, I just admire her from afar, and read her books over and over again being completely in love with her prose and characterization. I feel these things are the stuff you can expect from her, a narrator who is just so perfectly flawed, human, and real.

I've only read three of her novels, Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, and On The Jellicoe Road. I'm dying to read Finnikin of the Rock, and I kind of want to stab the lucky arses in Australia who can read her fifth book, The Piper's Son (about Thomas Mackee from Francesca!!).


Here is a beautiful line I adore from On the Jellicoe Road:


"It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I have ever seen where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La." I memorized it.... yeah. sue me :p


I've stalked all her interviews I could find, and I especially love the ones she has with Adele of Persnickety Snark. Very insightful, and some unique and awesome questions asked.

I can't recommend Melina Marchetta's novels enough, and I just wanted to give her a shout out and tell her that she should be happy her books can have such a profound and meaningful impact on her readers :)


EDIT 3/18/10: I read a really cool take on AAW over at Not Enough Bookshelves, where she thanked authors for writing characters who lingered in our thoughts long after reading a book. Check out her post Here :) So (copying shamelessly).. I wanted to thank Melina for writing about the 5 kids on the Jellicoe Road who were amazing and inspiring and every other adjective in the dictionary that defines tears and happiness, thank you for Jonah Griggs and Taylor Markham, thank you for tackling tough issues with such poise and sincerity, for Francesca, Thomas Mackee, Tara Finke, and the Alibrandis. You deserve all the recognition in the world.


Most of all, thank you for writing a book that I love so freaking much it's retarded.

Love,

Audrey

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday's Finest (6)

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts.
Rules:
~Post a quote that really stuck to you after reading it in a book.
~Make sure it isn't a spoiler!
~If you'd like, expand on what you think it means and why you chose it.

I'm gonna stock up on these memes (except I just returned a book I loved without first writing down quotes I loved! darn!)

This is a book by one of my favourite authors, and I've recently reread it because... just face it, I wanted to experience it again. And just for the sake of it, I'm gonna use two quotes.


Book: Saving Francesca
by Melina Marchetta

Quote 1: I can't believe I've said it out loud. The truth doesn't set you free, you know. It makes you feel awkward and embarrassed and defenceless and red in the face and horrified and petrified and vulnerable. But free? I don't feel free. I feel like shit."


Quote 2:
"I look past them to where Will and his friends are sitting and he catches my eye for a moment and smiles. It's a weird smile, but it reaches his eyes and I bottle it. And I put it in my ammo pack that's kept right next to my soul. The one that holds Mia's scent and Justine's spirit and Siobhan's hope and Tara's passions. Because if I'm going to wake up one morning and not be able to get out of bed, I'm going to need everything I've got to fight this bastard of a disease that could be sleeping inside of me."


I find the first one absolutely true, and the second one so inspiring. I wish I had little bottles to collect up the moments that take my breath away, and save them for a rainy day to relive over and over again.

Which one did you like more? Have you read any books by Melina Marchetta (shame on you if you haven't; Melina Marchetta is to me, as David Levithan is to Khy. Do you see how serious this is?!?) Your quotes?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cheating in YA Lit

SPOILERS FOR BOOKS MENTIONED!!! INCLUDING SPOILERS FOR:

SAVING FRANCESCA
LIAR
THAT SUMMER
CRACKED UP TO BE
LOOKING FOR ALASKA
THE SECRET YEAR


First, I want you to ask yourself, what is your stance on cheating when in a committed relationship (by cheating, I mean anything from a kiss to sleeping around.)
Do you have "zero-tolerance" aka, if your significant other cheats on you, the relationship is over? Or is it, he/she cheats on you, and you guys will work on getting over it and moving on?

I wrote a huge paragraph on my own stance on cheating, and why I think that way, but I decided, this isn't all about me. I'm interested in what you have to say! So here we go...

---
I've noticed a few YA novels that deal with cheating, but usually authors refrain from making their protagonist/main character unlikable by making him/her unfaithful. However, they don't seem to have a problem with love interests being cheaters.

I've recently reread a beloved novel of mine, Saving Francesca by the amazing Melina Marchetta, and (SPOILERS!!) remember when Will Trombal kissed Frankie at the party whilst drunk while he still had a girlfriend? I love this quote, it's just so Francesca if you know what I mean:
'She pashed Will Trombal. And the whole world's talking about it, right?' Siobhan mocks.
'Not even remotely devastating,' I (Frankie) say.
'It's much worse than that.'
'Can you stop being so dramatic? Id on't do devastation,' I tell her.
'Will Trombal has a girlfriend.'
Oh my God, I am so devastated.

...I feel as if my throat is made out of cardboard and all of a sudden kissing Will Trombal is the most embarrassing thing in the world. I feel like Adam and Even when God points out to them that they're naked.

That is a passage that kind shows Frankie's reaction, to being "the other woman" so to speak. However, so many people still adore Will, and think, "Hey Will! Break up with your gf and ask out Frankie."

There is no doubt about it, Will Trombal was a cheater. Now that I've blatantly pointed this out to you, does this have an affect on your opinion of Will? Or do you just brush it off and think "he is better off with Frankie anyways." I just want to say that being drunk doesn't excuse your actions, yes, I'm looking at you Will.

---
A second book, Liar by Justine Larbalestier (which I will admit, I did NOT finish after the big family secret reveal-see earlier post) but I read enough, which was just like the first chapter, to know that Micah (the main character and protag) had a boyfriend (Zach, the dead one) who had a girlfriend (whats-her-face, Sue? Sorry, I will call her Sue because for the life of me, I can't recall and I returned the book to the lib. Help anyone?)

Now Micah is Zach's "after-hour girlfriend", aka, the girlfriend outside school. Personally, I can't understand how Micah is okay with this, or how Zach can be so selfish. It feels as if neither of them cares much about Sue, because let's face it, Sue was there first. If Zach wanted to be with Micah, he should have broken it off with Sue first. I want to know what YOUR opinion on Zach is, do you find him just torn between two girls in an "it's complicated" situation? Or is he just continually doing the wrong thing and cheating on his "normal hour? girlfriend". Well, he does get killed, but just ignore that fact.

And Micah is just so nonchalant about all this. It's the really good writing style of the author, I think, that she can convey this mood and tone, but I just feel Micah is "so what, we kissed, yeah we were kinda dating, so?"

---
I'm pretty sure that there are lots of other books that just have inklings of "good characters" being cheaters, like Sumner in That Summer by Sarah Dessen, Chris in Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers (yes, I do count that one kiss with Parker as cheating), and Pudge in Looking for Alaska by John Green (Alaska mentioned that boyfriend a few times, yet Pudge was still into her for almost the entire book. I'm NOT sure, however, if Alaska broke it off with her bf before she and Pudge pashed, correct me if I'm wrong!)

Another where the cheating is so glaringly obvious in the summary is The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard. I mean, the girl is dating two guys for over a year! Your opinion? Is this forgivable? Is the "I love him but I can't leave the other guy" an adequate excuse? And put yourself in all three of their shoes, what do you think? (and I have NOT read the book, jsyk, just the summary)

I want to know if knowing that a character is a cheater and unfaithful, does this change your opinions on this character? Or do you believe in "you can't deny true love", so "just do it". Is it as simple as you cheat, it's over?

And lastly, do you think that YA lit takes cheating kind of lightly? Like it glosses over it and makes it seem almost okay because of a theme like "love should triumph".

Please leave a comment with your thoughts :) and tell me if you actually read the majority of the post =p


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday's 3 Couples (3)

"Wednesday's 3 Couples" is an idea I came up with to help me regulate posts and encourage me to continue postinw without slacking (that much). It also allows me to share my love with couples I love in YA books. Leave a comment and tell me what you think of it! I started it months ago but alas, the regular posts failed... my bad... anyways, I revived it! Cheers!

This week's theme: Just didn't work out...


*SPOILERS INCLUDED, SORRY!!!!*



1. Liam and Maya (Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert)
-For those who read the book, didn't the ending just break your heart? I won't spoil it, but seriously, this had potential. Liam was one of my favourite characters and Maya was so well drawn out. *sniff*
-And for those of you who haven't read the book... READ IT. It's seriously amazing, everybody says so but there just isn't as much hype as it deserves. Please!


2. Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman (Paper Towns by John Green)
-A book right up there with my favourites, this relationship is kinda one-sided, yet quirky and fittingly sweet. Margo has her secrets, but Q never gives up on her...but won't lie, this relationship didn't have as much potential as it did intrigue. Wish it did work out though.
-Fabulous book as well, I, like every other YA lit lovin' girl out there has a crush on John Green, DFTBA!


3. Gemma and Kartik (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray)
-Again, if you read the series... shucks. The ending was sad, it was a well written...but just sad. It just didn't work out, but I like the fact that this relationship was faithful from the start, as in there wasn't any out-of-character-ness from either one of them.
-Excellent historical fiction novel, see my review on it HERE.


---
So? What did you think? Do you like/approve of this meme?
And any ideas for next week/weeks/whenever I do this again?






PS- Leave a comment telling me what's YOUR favourite couple that 'just didn't work out'... or couple in YA lit in general.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

102 Posts Contest :) THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting!!



I really should have planned this better...100 Posts contest sounds much better, right?

Well, this will be my very very first contest ever! And I decided to offer up The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting to the winner, mostly because I love the concept and want to read this myself! (I havent yet, D:). The release date is March 16th, so I decided to end my contest on March 21st, that way you can get the book soon after release!
Wow, I'm not making much sense.

Okay, here is the summary of the book from goodreads:


"A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.


Violet Ambrose can find the dead. Or at least, those who have been murdered. She can sense the echoes they leave behind... and the imprints they leave on their killers. As if that weren't enough to deal with during junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.

Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet's small town... and she
realizes she might be the only person who can stop him."
----
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

Sound cool or what? Fill out the form below to enter, thanks!!

Open INTERNATIONAL! (thanks BookDepository.com!)

Ends March 21st, midnight PST

Please leave a comment on this post telling me you entered

Winners chosen by Random.org

If I reach 50 followers, I will choose a second winner (this time, you get book of your choice under 10 dollars)--thanks guys, there will now be 2 winners! [EDIT 3/7]
If i get to 100 followers, a third winner will win a copy of Wake by Lisa McMann :)




Contest is CLOSED, thanks for participating! Winners can be found HERE!

Thanks to Parajunkee for teaching me how to embed and use Google Docs!

-AyC

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

random Musings

Whoa, did you know I had 100 posts already? This is 101! Whoa!
And is "Whoa" supposed to be "Whoa" or "Woah", I'm never really sure.

So for this random segment of random musings which I'm sure I will edit later and put in the loads of stuff I've forgotten, I'm gonna go over some books that for some reason I just don't want to read, not because of the summaries or the reviews, but just an instant turn-off.

The Iron King (by I'm not sure who) I think this is about faeries, or some fantasy land or something (judging how unfairly, by the cover) but I dunno, a lot of people have had so many good things to say about it but I just don't want to read it.

The Dark Divine- Okay, now this one I know tons of bloggers LOVED, but as soon as they rolled the summary- something to do with mystery, love, and something that is a bit overdone-just an instant turn-off. I don't even know why! Because usually I would enjoy those types of novels! Maybe it's the cover, the black and the pink (bad combo IMO)

Bleeding Violet- This is why I was kinda blaming the Dark Divine on a cover that I didn't really like, because I think these two covers are kinda similar...and surprise surprise, I don't want to read this one either.

Faerie books. I'll admit, I've only read like ONE fairy book (Wicked Lovely) but seriously? There are just too many books out there now that I don't even want to get started on that genre. Angels I think will take a bit more time for me to get sick of.

Vampire books. Only exception: Vampire Academy, other than that, I refuse to read any more vampire books. OVERDONE. Please find me something new.

Need/Captivate - I just won a copy of Captivate so I decided to start reading Need (from library) and it's okay so far. I'll be honest, I didn't want to read this book that much, i mean the gold lips? Uhmm, and pixies? uhmmm... yeah. Maybe it's too out there for me? Or maybe just cause the supernatural things it too common.

Fallen - Uhm, I've heard mixed reviews, but I'm not even tempted to read this (apart from pretty cover) because it just has a plot I know I will dislike as soon as I start reading it. Woah, prejudices! sorry!

And this one is completely based on the cover alone. I saw this on my blogger dashboard, with the "waiting on wednesdays" memes, but it's Grace by Elizabeth Scott. Sorry, I don't like the cover, don't want to read the book!

--

On a positive note, there are some books out there that I am DYING to read, including two (TWO!!!) Melina Marchetta books Finnikin of the Rock and The Piper's Son (which is a companion novel to Saving Francesca, w00t).

And all those positive reviews of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver has made me want to get it, thank god the library has this one on order right now!

And I really want to read Incarceron by Carrie Fisher, it looks so interesting :)

And I'm poor. So I can't buy these books... :'(

Percy Jackson is my new phase, I went and watched the movie last week, started the books last friday, and I'm on book 4 already :) An excellent series for MG and young YA (do you know what I mean? pre teens lol) great action/adventure/likable hero.

And spring break is coming up!! next week!! Oh god, I really need to do some homework.

Check out the site amirite.net. It's funny, and most of these people are right ;) kind of like MLIA.

I love PostSecret too :) I know its been around for a LONG time, but I just found out about it a couple weeks ago and have been going through those secrets, so many heartfelt ones, funny ones, sad ones :/



and lastly... I LOVED THE OLYMPICS. GO CANADA. YOU GUYS OWNED THE PODIUM :) <333