Sunday, July 31, 2011

In My Mailbox (7) - vlog!

IMM is run by Kristi at The Story Siren, inspired by Alea!
**

Here you go! A vlog!



And if you're too lazy, here's a list (but then I'm allowed to be lazy too so I'll just skip linking them.

Library:
Inside Out by maria V. Snyder
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman
One Lonely Degree by CK Kelly Martin
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Review:
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Bought:
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
A book for uni

Hope you guys had a good book week too!! =) And it's almost August O.o omg.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July, lookin' back

I know, I know, it's a bit early for a wrap-up post but tomorrow will just consist of an IMM so it's not like everything will be out of wack. July has been awesome! Seriously, definitely been a great summer so far (minus some crappy weather, but the sun is coming back!) but I've had tons of time to read (which I don't utilize very well), watch movies, watch tv series, hang out with friends, go out to eat.. lovely. I'm happy. Plus I think the blog looks pretty healthy too.

this is July in Review at holes In My brain


Reviews (10!)


Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

Hex Hall by Rachel Dawkins

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Switch by Tish Cohen

The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

The Forever Crush by Debra Moffitt

Enclave by Ann Aguirre


Thoughts

10 reviews! YAY! Plus I read a lot of books too that have reviews coming, I'm really happy with the amount of reviews plus, I think the like-ability of the books definitely increased as the month went along. There has been no wrong in the last bunch of books I've read. Seriously, free time gives me such joy.

Book of the Month

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley (9.3/10) I was steamrolled by how much I loved this book. Seriously. Like I'm always a bit hesitant about completely shoving this in other people's faces because I know it's not going to be for everyone, but I loved the quiet style of it, and the gorgeous writing and oh-my-lordy characters. Easy choice.

Honourable Mentions

One I haven't reviewed yet, Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (9), it was such a fun read. Like it's not har-har fun, it's just.. lovely fun :)
For some har-har funny though, I really liked Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (8.8)
And for a really emotional read, Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (8.9) was awesome.

Random Acts of Kindness

It was my first month participating! And I got a book! Thanks so much to Mary at Anxirium for Freefall by Mindi Scott. Thank you!! x

I also sent a book for RAK, I sent Amanda at On a Book Bender The Iron King by Julie Kagawa :)


Also this month, I...
*
Got a new header! And with that, a different layout (3 column to 2 column, colour change) and background.
*
Asked you guys to fill out a 'satisfaction survey/feedback thing', so if you haven't done one yet, I'd really appreciate it! Just give your thoughts on my little blog and things I could improve :)
*
Another #namethatbook contest! Ends tomorrow night at midnight, win a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card!
*
reflected on my blogging New Year's Resolutions and how well I've done in them half way through
*
Top Ten Tuesday featuring a list of books that tackle 'tough' issues
*
Guest-posted at The Unread Reader! Things I do "When I'm Not Reading"
*

Parting Thoughts
Hmm, thinking about it I wish I did more random stuff. Only problem is, I didn't have any ideas! Overall though, I'm happy about the going-ons, the only think I wish is that I tackled more of my review pile (I'm a very "read what I want" blogger haha).

Looking Ahead
A super-fun list! Stay tuned, I think it's gonna be awesome ;) Also, more reviews, and random posts (if my creative juices ever start running). I don't really have much planned but.. when have I ever? :P Just gonna enjoy the last month of summer (oh the nostalgia) and soak up the sunshine!

Friday, July 29, 2011

BR: Bitter End

by Jennifer Brown

Having read and really loved Hate List, I was really excited to see what she would come up with next. I was even more stoked to find my library had this in circulation! =D

Summary (goodreads)

When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole, a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her, she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate-someone who truly understands her and loves her for who she really is.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her best friends, Zack and Bethany, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all of her time with another boy? But as the months pass, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose - between her "true love" and herself.

**
My Expectations: High, except I thought it would be really... predictable
Delivery: It was really, really good!
Put-down-ability: 4/10
**

My Thoughts

Here’s the thing. This book made me angry, it made me emotional and pissed off and it made me want to throw the book against the wall in hopes that the collision would trickle through the pages and hurt Cole in some way. That’s how much I hated him.

Okay. Bitter End is a great book, it’s one that delves into and in between the layers of an abusive relationship, and reaches through to the core of it. Alex has never felt the same way she does when she’s with Cole, and it’s this love and eventual dependency that defies the “why does she stay with him?” thought that’s running through every reader’s mind. Her characterization made it obvious to why and I think this "love" was the base of the book and why she couldn’t just walk away from him. For example:

I was so embarrassed. I couldn't even imagine telling anyone those things. Those things made me look stupid and gullible and needy, and I knew I wasn't those things. I knew it was more complicated than that. But nobody else would understand.

I invite you to compare this to Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, I found the two startlingly similar in the portrayal of abuse, mainly regarding the honeymoon period, self-blame and constant fear. I felt Bitter End did a more complete job in fleshing out the characters and motives, along with including Alex’s best friends without turning them into stock characters. I appreciated the way they had a strong presence in the book, not just making random appearances for the plot’s sake. Both Bethany and Zack were well developed and completely realistic and their changing dynamics were one of my favourite aspects of this book.

The entire relationship that ends up consuming Alex is done extremely well. Like I mentioned, Brown managed to evoke some pretty strong feeling from me and I swear, I had this scowl on my face whenever Cole popped up; I had some violent thoughts. The big thing is that even though I had these horrid thoughts, Cole really was a wonderful character. He had redeeming qualities and gave Alex a good reason to be in love, he wasn't just a tyrant. I felt so strongly against him though, because I cared for Alex. I cared for her character and her situation and being able to connect with this book made me like it so much more.

What I disliked though, was the ending. I’m not sure what it is that I didn’t like but I found the epilogue to be… lackluster. But not bad in any way, I just wasn’t feeling it, or the ending itself. I can’t really understand why, I just didn’t like it.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: Contemp fans, YA readers, pretty much
Acknowledgements: 3.5/5

8.9/10 – because it’s an evocative read regarding serious issues in society; the domestic abuse portrayed in this novel isn’t glossed over and very prominent throughout, and because of this, I think this is a very important read. I was able to see things from Alex’s point of view, and understanding her character and her love for… security and comfort from Cole (but obviously not supporting it) separated this book from just the typical ‘issue’ book. I’m not sure why the ending didn’t sit right with me, but apart from that, I thought the plot, characters and writing were all superb. Jennifer Brown’s second book does not disappoint, and I'll read whatever she publishes next!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

find me Elsewhere!


Oh, you mean you expected to find me with Tom and Jonah and Adam and Hale and all my book boyfriends? Yes, you're right, that's definitely where I should be.

But.. if you can tolerate my weird writing flair (of too many exclamation marks, emoticons, and things in parentheses) I wrote a guest post at Missie's (at The Unread Reader) blog! It's about what random things that I do when I'm not reading. You can click here to see my post and give some big hugs to Missie because I think she's upset because Hale likes me more :p


Also today, I might be buying myself a copy of Gorgon in the Gully by Melina Marchetta if I fulfill a promise to myself which will be revealed if you either stalk my twitter or if the thing comes true. I'm already jinxing myself blogging this.

And I'll have a review up later today too! So for now if you want to find me elsewhere, clicky! (plus it'll make me happy)

Waiting on Wednesday

hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
**

I can proudly say I was one of those kids who read A Series of Unfortunate Events growing up, and I really liked (most) of them. The writing was always quirky and I'll always have a soft spot for Violet, Klaus and Sunny. This is the same author (since Lemony Snicket is a pseudonym) and this book looks awesome!

Why We Broke Up
by Daniel Handler / art by Maira Kalman

Summary (goodreads)

I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Why We Broke Up is released January 2nd, 2012 from Little, Brown.

**

I'm totally hooked just from the synopsis, and it's in a letter form (Stolen by Lucy Christopher, anyone?). And there's illustrations :) I can't wait to read it!! Plus, that cover-- there's something about it that just makes me love it and its simplicity.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

top ten tuesday: Books Tackling "Tough" Issues

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
**

When Laura gave me an idea to do this TTT, I wasn’t sure if I could pick just ten. I love contemporary fiction that tackles tough issues, so naturally I had a whole list in my head, I only had trouble choosing ten. The thing about this topic is that the point isn’t just to choose the most gruesome ten books that deal with cultural and social issues, or else the whole list will just be different variations of Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. I think it’s important for this list to contain books that do have an angle for YA and for teens that offers something as opposed to just a cringing, gut-punching reading experience.

In no particular order:

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

  • The hard-hitting issues of drug abuse and self-injury aren’t glossed over in this book, everything is thundering in your head as you read. It’s about the broken homes and the bad mistakes and memories you can’t to forget. It’s about friends and first love and family, and it really is an amazing book.


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  • Conor has to watch his mother suffering from cancer and has to deal with what that means and how it will affect him. It’s a story of the dread surrounding death and the grief and pain and a million other universal feelings that I can’t even try to imagine. And I bawled like a baby.


Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (and Dreamland by Sarah Dessen)

  • In my review of Bitter End, I’ll compare it to Dreamland because I think the two are quite similar. Both deal with abusive relationships in an up-front gut-wrenching kind of way and it’s when I read books like this that I feel “if more people read this, perhaps it would occur less”. I’m not sure if it helps that I wanted to buy a shotgun and shoot her jerkwad (which isn’t even a bad enough insult) boyfriend. Jennifer Brown really explores this issue and the emotional side of it really well.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch. A must read.


Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

  • In a slightly depressing list, I thought this book fit perfectly. It’s loud and hilarious, but more importantly, Libba Bray tackles societal expectations and modern culture and puts it into a book, satirizes it, and the end result is just brilliant. It doesn't just target pop culture, but it also deals with the things like appearance and beauty in society. Totally recommend this book.


Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

  • This isn’t really an issue-issue book since our protagonist is the bully-turned-victim-ish type character who is the furthest from stereotypical that I could ever imagine. This book deals with high school culture and Summers isn’t scared of packing punches, physically and metaphorically. Bullying escalates as ex-best friends seek revenge all amidst some crazy secrets.



Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • There really isn’t a hidden message or a magic ending to this in-your-face book about eating disorders. It’s written with the type of prose that convinces me that I can’t stand a chance, the emotions and the evocative style of the book makes it memorable and brings a serious matter onto the discussion table.



Willow by Julia Hoban

  • I think this was one of the more graphic but still emotionally draining reads about self-injury. I read this a few years ago but every time I see it, I still remember how the writing sucked me into a dark world. I didn’t think this was the perfect book, but there’s aspects of it that still stick out to me and it immediately came to mind when I was considering titles.



Split by Swati Avasthi

  • I have mentioned this book countless times this past month, but trust me, it’s so good! Jace and Christians are spectators, and then the sufferer of domestic abuse, and I thought the author handled it really well. There are scenes in this book are so heartbreaking, but through this, the brothers are able to work past it and carry on with their lives.


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • One of the books I’d consider a YA must-read and remains a favourite of mine, it deals with the aftermath of rape and it’s done really well. Melinda has retreated into her own world and through her cynical and sarcastic remarks on high school and her life, and eventually the confrontations with Andy-beast. The writing and characterization needed to pull this off was just amazing.




So.. tough to choose just 10. Which books do you think I missed? There's so many worthy ones out there (honourable mention: Crank by Ellen Hopkins), I'd love to hear what you think belongs on this list!

Monday, July 25, 2011

BR: A Little Wanting Song

by Cath Crowley

Australian title: Chasing Charlie Duskin

Book of the Month for July =)

Perhaps you've heard of Graffiti Moon-- that is, if you stalk all the Aussie blogs I love to stalk :) And then you'd know that that's one of the books I'm dying to read, but then I decided, why not try the little sister book? I've heard some things, but not much, and I didn't really know what I was in for...

Summary (goodreads)

A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . .


CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.

ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.

**
My Expectations: I just hoped it would be good. And it wouldn't spoil my expectations for Graffiti Moon.
Delivery: DUDE. Oh my gosh. See this tweet. And this one. This one? And my review. It's like a blend of a Damien Rice song, Regina Spektor, and The Sky is Everywhere.
Put-down-ability: 2/10
**

My Thoughts

If you know me… well, A Little Wanting Song is my type of book. It's and Audrey book. My type of book isn’t filled with explosions and evil government corporations*. It’s not decorated in sunshine and rainbows and pizazz that blind my eyes; it’s filled with moments of awkwardness, authenticity and life. My type of book is character-rich and quietly gorgeous, it’s haunting, it’s subtle, and it’s beautiful. And this book is everything and more.

The characters. This novel is told from alternating perspectives of Charlie and Rose, and the way these two characters breathed life into the story and honestly burrowed their way into my heart was alarming. I loved how none of the alternating chapters were too long, sometimes a few pages was all it took and all that was needed. The supporting cast didn’t even feel like secondary characters, Dave, Luke, the parents… it felt like they sprung into the pages complete with personality and a backstory.

The plot was strong as well but as a very character-driven book, I was less concerned with it. I thought all the events allowed for extraordinary personal growth as characters surprised me time and time again- then thinking back, I wonder why I was even surprised. The only thing is that I found the pacing might have been shaky towards the end though. The way the two girls’ lives intertwined and the dual narration was just the absolutely perfect set-up.

And can I comment on how simply lovely the Charlie-Dave romance was? It fits with the book- it’s achingly good, innocent, and daringly swoon-worthy. The moment Dave calls her “fucking gorgeous” I’m a goner. And the thing is that this book is just as much Rose’s story, and I loved her and her complicated relationship with Luke just as much. The dynamics weren’t what I had initially expected, but as Crowley effortlessly moves things along, mistakes are made and things happen and everything feels so full of soul.

Plus, this book made me cry. At the most random moments right in the middle of the book, Charlie or Rose would whip out a line and I feel that sting in my eyes and I’m like… this book is genius. The writing flows like poetry or music with a whimsical rhythm, and I’m also in love with the fact that Charlie is a musician and Rose loves science. It’s small things like that.

I wish I could sound grown up and talk about all the themes in this book, the themes of friendship, first love, family, and feelings of being in a small town. I wish I could break apart the inner workings of this book and tell you exactly what made it tick and what made it so wonderful, but I can’t. I’m just a reader who unsuspectingly fell in love.

I don’t want to end on a sappy note, but I’m pulling out all the holes In My brain jargon here. A Little Wanting Song is simply gourmet literature devoured to a melody of major and minor chords.

Rating in HP Terms: Outstanding, Hermione style.
Recommended for: Melina Marchetta fans (yes, I said it). Contemporary YA fans (ALL), especially if you liked books like The Sky is Everywhere and Jellicoe Road.
Acknowledgements: 3/5

9.3/10 – yes you read that rating right—highest one I’ve given this year. It’s the perfect book for me, and yes, I realize some people might not fall completely in love with it as me, and I’m not pretending that you will go crazy for it but I just wanted to put it out there. I think Cath Crowley has helped fill the mile-wide hole in my heart that’s dying for the next Melina Marchetta book… The poetic writing blended with the delicately real characters mixed in with a beautiful storyline and some Australian flair**. I loved it.










*okay, those types of books are my second-favourite types. I’m trying to prove a point here.
**it’s Christmas and New Years during the summer. How cool is that?

author website / Facebook / twitter

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox (6) - VLOG!

hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, inspired by Alea!
**

So many books, I love book sales. Or more accurately, I have no self-control.

I did a vlog for you guys :) And it's in a slightly higher quality too!



For Review:
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
Betsy Wickwire's Dirty Secret by Vicki Grant

Random Acts of Kindness:

Freefall by Mindi Scott
Thanks so much, Mary!! Visit her blog here :)

Contests:

Mel @ He Followed Me Home
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

YA Highway
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
The Shattering by Karen Healy

Melina @ Reading Vacation
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey


Bought:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The Monstrumologist by RIck Yancey
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E.Lockhart (apparently I forgot to mention this... only $2!!)

~I also got a bunch from the library but I filmed the vlog before I went so... next week!

If you got an IMM, feel free to leave a link and I'll try my best to swing by! =)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

half-way Through 2011.. resolutions: lookin' Back

Inspired by Missie's post Half-Assed Book Report 2011 (I was gonna comment on my challenges as well, but then I realized I'm only like... doing 4 challenges and there's not much to say except I'm failing spectacularly in 3 of the 4.)

Anyways, I then saw she was inspired by Recovering Potter Addict's 6 Month Resolution Update and I'm like.. hey! I made resolutions in January! So here we go :p


I made 10 resolutions on the first of January, and I'll just list them and make comments. I'll rate how I think I'm doing.. I like this whole introspective thing (and don't you judge me about giving myself high scores :p)


1. Book of the Month
5/5 - I've done one every month! The list is also the link you get when you click the picture of BotM on my sidebar. Most recently, I have declared my Book of July though I would usually wait until the month is over... but I loved this book too much!

2. Top Commentators Love!
4/5 - I was really good about this in the first few months, but lately I haven't been doing it as often (especially during the weeks I was super stressed about school) but generally, I realize I already visit these blogs regularly and don't need to specifically go out and comment. However... if you wanna make that list I will totes visit your blog! XD

3. Lists
3.5/5 - I have good phases and bad phases. I have a label for "lists" if you want to check them out, I've done Inkcrush's faves of 2011 (so far) lists, along with a few random ones like character-inspired names I'd give my kids (daughters and sons). I haven't done a single list in July though... any ideas?!

4. Author Interviews
2.5/5 - I've done.. 3!! I'm actually really proud of myself considering I've never interviewed an author before this year. It was a bit daunting, but they made me happy. I know not too many people read the interviews (as seen from the survey) but good thing I haven't done too many, eh? :P
Siobhan Vivian (Not That Kind of Girl)
Gayle Forman (Where She Went) -- which to this day is probably my proudest blogging moment. I mean... Gayle Forman!!!
Carol Lynch Williams (Miles from Ordinary)

5. Read What I Want
4.5/5 - Okay, call me a terrible blogger, but I'm a selfish reader. If I see a book I desperately want to read and it's suddenly in front of me, it's at the top of the pile without a second thought. Yes, even above the review copies :p This score reflects the fact that my 2011 reading list has almost exclusively been YA, and I'll be first to admit a fair share is contemporary-- my favourite genre ;)

6. Covers!
3.5/5- I've done about one Another Cover feature a month (7 so far), and I think it's the right number. I don't feature a bundle of covers at once- I just feature one at a time so that doesn't really amount to much. However, I don't want to overdose on covers :p

7. Keep it Neat
4/5 - I tried decluttering by changing from 3 sidebars to 2. I think it's gone reasonably well, I don't see myself scrambling for sidebar gadgets and realizing I couldn't find it. There's a lot of white space (which to me = clean, but to some people it hurts their eyes.. in that case, sorry!). Anyways, I think it doesn't seem to cluttered which makes me happy.

8. Stay Organized
3.5/5 - recently I haven't really done that well in the organization department, I still find myself trying to make last-minute posts, or just end up posting reviews. Also, during May/June, I had a time where I didn't schedule anything for a couple weeks.. if only I could organize 2 weeks in advance! (yes Skye, I'm looking at you -_- :P) That said, I've posted pretty consistently.

9. Don't Get Too Attached
2.5/5 - I took a break from my blog when life was hectic without going mental! Wow! :p Maybe still a bit too often checking emails, but I'm still very fond of my blog :p Yeah.. I'm kind of attached.

10. LOVE More Books
4.5/5 - I've allowed myself to look on the bright side, to not nit-pick as much, and to just fall in love even when there might be parts that aren't completely perfect, and in doing so, I just generally find books and reading more fun. It's not very fun when I'm tearing apart books anymore, I think I'd much rather compliment them :)

So... that's not too bad. Looking at this list, I could probably be more strict on reading review books, etc, but I'm very... indulgent in my tastes :p And I can't see this changing anytime soon. If you made resolutions, how are you coming along?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday's Finest (42)


Friday's Finest by the very awesome 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've been gushing about this book lately (look out for a review soon)... actually, I've been gushing about a lot of books lately. So I've got lots of quotes saved up! Anyways, the writing in this book is phenomenal, and there's lyrics and stuff (think Where She Went) which makes it that much more special :)

Book: A Little Wanting Song
by Cath Crowley


Quote (Charlie)
It's when I'm around some people that my entire vocabulary goes on vacation. Like now, when Dave's walking next to me wearing an old black singlet and board shorts and the tattoo of a bird on his wrist, every single word in my head except "no" and "huh" is lying somewhere on a beach getting a suntan.

**

Le freaking sigh. LOVE. love love love. See what I mean by the prose? I'm a happy reader for sure.








author twitter / website

Thursday, July 21, 2011

BR: Demonglass

by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall series; book II

Demonglass! Having fell completely in love with Sophie from Hex Hall, I was excited to see what would happen next.

Summary (goodreads) ~ has spoilers for book 1

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

**
My Expectations: high, but not extremely high because I didn’t love Hex Hall like I thought I would
Delivery: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it—this book was awesome :)
Put-down-abiltiy: so low! 2/10
**

My Thoughts

Oh, what a sequel! Sophie Mercer is back in full force as she navigates the tricky world of Prodigium, demons, and the evil Eye of some-ominous-group. Sent to live with her father after an eventful year, Sophie was in for a heck of a summer.

Hawkins’ writing style is great. I mentioned how Sophie swept me away in book one, and she does it again with such a vibrant narration full of snark and humour. She faces new challenges and adapts to new situations in this novel; I was impressed with her character growth. I love the sarcasm she shared with her father, and I think the newfound father-daughter bond was one of the highlights of the book. Instead of doing what I expected, she embraced her dad’s presence as opposed to shunning him, which was refreshing*.

The relationships Sophie had with people were very well done, I loved her friendship with Jenna and Cal, and even started liking Archer**. I’m still not head-over-heels for him because much of the "romance" in this sequel is dependant on the attraction instilled in book one (which I wasn’t crazy about). Still... I see potential! I'm not hatin' :p Sophie’s just such a lovable character though and I think that the lovable secondary characters are a byproduct of that.

I didn’t love the plot in Hex Hall but I had the "need to know what happens next" feeling in this book—a great thing. Each misadventure unveiled new secrets and new mysteries and I was kept engaged because of this. I feel a drawback is that it did kind of drag in the middle, despite some exciting stuff happening. The storyline was rich with sub-plots… and dude, what an ending! Cliffhanger much?! Now I'm itching to read Spellbound, book 3.

Demonglass is a fun, adventurous and highly entertaining sequel that swept me into the world created by Hawkins.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: everyone. It’s not the typical paranormal because well.. I seriously love Sophie :P Paranormal elements were cool.
Acknowledgements: none! I'm unimpressed. not cool.

8.8/10 – because it was so much fun! The plot felt like a winner and Sophie is hilariously endearing as always. I would continue this series just to read more about her, but I’d love to figure out what’ll happen to her love life, friendships, family, and the whole magic world too.








*yes, we’re all sick of moody teenagers, aren't we?
**who’s still the owner of one of the best boy names ever.


source: library
author website / blog / twitter
series website




Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
**

This week's pick is one I'm surprised I haven't featured yet! I adored this author's debut, Like Mandarin (see my review), so I'm definitely looking forward to reading her sophomore effort :)

Wanderlove
by Kirsten Hubbard

Summary (goodreads)

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.


Wanderlove is released March 13, 2012 from Delacorte

**

It looks so awesome! It's upper-YA and I'm confidant Kirsten will pull it off. Plus, I have a feeling I'll be swooning for Rowan... in exotic locations! I can't wait to read this! Also, the author has some awesome 'extras' (like excerpts!) on her blog that I've been gobbling up :)

What are you waiting on? Leave a link and I'll drop by!








author twitter / blog / website

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

#namethatbook part 2 + GIVEAWAY!

I was bored, OKAY? I think you guys might've been getting sick of the overload of reviews I suddenly have in my drafts folder.. plus my mind was coming up blank and I couldn't think of anything interesting to post. Plus, I never really do memes on Tuesdays, so I was like "what would my readers like?" and I'm like... well, if I were a reader, I'd want to do something entertainng.

So lets play a game!

#namethatbook was created by Erin Bowman (twitter) where basically I give you pictures of pages from books. You Name That Book. Easy! I did it for my blogoversary and you guys seemed to like it! =)

Prize: $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Rules:
-Open internationally (if you want that gift card, or you can just play for fun!)
-ends July 31
-winners chosen by random draw (each correct answer = 1 entry), winner is not based on the person who 'got the most' :)
-fill out THIS FORM with your guesses! [edit] I've been told the form isn't working for some people, if this is the case, I'd love it if you'd email me the answers (holesinmybrain@hotmail.com) with #namethatbook in the subject heading-- thanks and sorry :/ hopefully it's fixed...

No need to follow or spread the word, but I'd sure appreciate it :)

Any questions you may leave in the comments! Please do not leave answers in comments, they will be deleted.

**

I think this time around it's a bit tougher. These aren't pictures of my favourite books, they're just good books that I think are relatively well known-- so kudos if you get lots right! All are YA titles of various genres. If I notice a lot of people are having trouble, I'll start handing out hints ;)


Book 1 


Book 2


Book 3


Book 4 - (this is a dust jacket)


Book 5


Book 6


Book 7


Book 8


Book 9


Book 10 - this one's tricky, author's initials = JB

You can come back and answer ones you missed, just make sure your name/email is the same and I'll just add your entries together!

Good luck! Play fair :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

BR: Switch

by Tish Cohen

Freaky Friday!! Okay, maybe that wasn't my favourite movie ever, but it's cool to see a book take on the twist.

Summary (goodreads)

Good girl, honour-roll lifer, Stanford-bound, mildly neurotic, high strung twelfth grader Andrea Birch just wants a bit of privacy. Oh, and perhaps a bit more of a social life. Or just a life in general. But when your mom and dad are foster parents who can’t turn away a child, trying to carve out a little space for yourself while tending to the needs of everyone from twin toddlers to angst-ridden adolescents is nearly impossible. And then Joules Adams, daughter of internationally famous rock star Nigel Adams, jumps into Andrea’s car, setting off an improbable car chase and ending in detention.

For Andrea, it’s the last straw. Why is it that Joules, breaker of all rules, living a life of luxury, gets off so easy? Why does she have everything, including a cool famous dad, and Andrea has nothing, not even her parents’ full attention?

**
My Expectations: Average-ish. I was wary about it being too predictable
Delivery: It surprised me! I liked it :)
Put-down-ability: 4/10
**

My Thoughts

Switch was a book that surprised me, I went in thinking it would be… how do I say this… like Disney (which is a hit or miss for me) with the cheesy plots and the clich├ęd dialogue. However, I was totally wrong as Tish Cohen managed to refresh the Freaky Friday plot.

I really liked the fact that Andrea narrated the book from start to finish, I was worried that it would be alternating narration which, since the two girls who switched bodies were the same age, would probably get repetitive (as in "omg I want my body back this life sucks" esque). It was interesting to read more about Andrea and get the hang of her voice and her character, especially when she talked about her own family and the foster siblings.

The relationship I found most interesting was not the crush, but the one between Joules and her father, Nigel. Andrea (in Joules’ body) learns about the ups and downs of the glamorous rock-star life and I think the father-‘daughter’ dynamics were handled really well. I was surprised by the twist, but it definitely added to the story; I really liked the ending because of this.

The plot itself was kind of straight forward and what I expected, but that said, I can comfortably say I was never bored—there wasn’t any eye-rolling or sighs, I was engaged and wanting to know what happened next. I liked how Cohen managed to touch on so many aspects of the two girls’ lives, yet I also appreciated the strong focus on family. I love books about family! :

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: people looking for a lighter contemporary read about family and other teen stuff
Acknowledgements: lovely! 4/5

8/10 – because I liked it but it doesn’t really stand out for me. Thinking back, I remember that I enjoyed reading it and that it exceeded my expectations, but I can’t really remember specific details. It’s a fun, light read that I would easily recommend. In fact, I passed my copy on to an girl I know and I'm sure she'll like it :)








source: publisher
author website

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In My Mailbox (5)


IMM is hosted by the lovely Kristi at The Story Siren, inspired by Alea.
**

Just one book this week! But I was like, why not? Might as well :p

For review:


Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

I already read this! It's really, really awesome =) Definitely a ghost story you wanna keep an eye out for.

I'm waiting (and endlessly crossing my fingers) that I get approved for The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa on Netgalley too! YES! It's on Netgalley!! =O
**

Also, my baby Leonard is beautiful! He got a new shirt, and I think he looks very masculine. In a sexy kind of way. He's very confident in his masculinity, btdubs. *pets* Seriously, I would completely recommend a MBP, I've completely converted to the mac crowd.. the trackpad is magic!



A huge, heartfelt thanks to the ultra-fabulous Missie at The Unread Reader. She's giving away some amazing book pairs ;) Clicky here to enter, quick quick, contest ends tonight!
**

Lastly... I think I won't be able to shut up about A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley, I read it last night and it completely blew me away. It's such a... "me" book, it's just... le sigh. Amazing. It's not gonna be for everybody, but the writing reminds me of my writing goddess Melina Marchetta and ahhhh I loved it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

BR: The Lighter Side of Life and Death

by C.K. Kelly Martin

This is the perfect example of book bloggers selling books, so to all you industry people and authors who say bloggers don’t sell books (not that we should, because it’s not our job!!!)… go away*.

Anyways. The Lighter Side of Life and Death. I don’t actually remember reading specific reviews for this book but I saw it at the bookstore, thought of Nomes, then bought it (not without a slight eye-brow raise from the cashier who was totes judging me because of that god-awful cover).

Summary (goodreads)

Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He's just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What's a guy to do? Well, if you're Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he's imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason's living in a whole new world.

**
My Expectations: It’s a Nomes from Inkcrush rec (well, the author is) and we all know what that means (I had high expectations)
Delivery: It’s really good! I liked it, but it wasn’t insta-love.
Put-down-ability: 3.5/10
**

My Thoughts:

This book is good. It’s really good. I can see the appeal of CK Kelly Martin now, I think her writing is more about the voice and the character than telling the story in a step by step manner. She pinpoints Mason’s voice from the very first page and fleshes him out as things get complicated making him one of the best male voices I’ve read in a while**. I loved how realistic he seemed, and what I loved even more is that Martin didn’t rely on some sort of crutch to shape his character. He’s not the runaway kid, the grieving brother, etc. He’s just a boy—he’s complicated, hormonal, confused, and authentic.

I thought Kat and Colette were respectable counterparts. I found myself sympathizing with Kat and never hating on Colette, which I think in itself created a complex dynamic that enhanced the reading experience. I liked the supporting characters and I found them all shine brighter because of Mason’s narration***.
It feels pathetic but I need to say it anyway. “I just like you more than you like me. It happens.”
THIS. I thought this relationship was the part that Martin really nailed (excuse the pun. No seriously, get you head out of the gutter) because it is such a slim line between believable and lame and I thought all of Mason’s actions, from his forced-aloof-ness to his desperation to exude maturity… totally believable.

That said, the plot was also the part I had a hard time buying into. I felt that yes, it did tell a story but it lacked… something. I can’t figure out what, but I found myself at the end thinking “so what?” instead of “wow”. Martin had wonderfully explored the shades of grey in relationships (family and friends as well as ‘romance/lust’) but I felt along the way the plot got… murky. Like it got lost along the way only to be fished out at random places.

Lastly, I just wanted to touch on the subplots, and how awesomesauce they are. Friendships and new families were never cakewalks, and overall, I think Martin handled them very well.

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable/Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: older audiences who want to read a unique contemporary YA from a male perspective (and a lot less specific than what I described too)
Acknowledgements: none in my copy. SMH. Not impressed.

8/10 – because there is so much good stuff, but I didn’t fall in love with it. I really loved Mason’s voice and the whole-ness of his character. I thought Martin tackled tricky themes really well and I liked the vibe of the book, if you get what I mean. I was never really fully invested in the plot though, and I thought the overall story did lack a bit of oomph. However, I can’t deny that this is a solid upper-YA**** book that has put CK Kelly Martin on my author-radar.











*yes, this is a ugh subject and I feel like recounting a slightly spiteful story of mine which would put me in an awful, petty light so I shall refrain :p
**speaking of male POVs, you guys should really read Split by Swati Avasthi—dude, that book is still floating inside my brain.
***he actually abbreviates his friends’ names! Yoanda and Zoe became Y and Z, which I dunno, I found really awesome.
****not intended for younger audiences.

source: bought
author website / blog