Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
**

So.. this is a thing:

Perfect Scoundrels
by Ally Carter
Heist Society series; book III

Summary (from hollywoodcrush because it's a better summary than goodreads)


Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting—or stealing—whatever they want.

No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir—this time, Hale might be the mark.

Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she’s willing to save her boyfriend’s company if it means losing the boy.

Perfect Scoundrels is released February 5, 2013, from Disney Hyperion.
**


...And I am tres excited for it. I absolutely adore the Heist Society series because of the super bright cast and Kat and Hale (HALE! as he is affectionately known) and yeah, I had no idea there was a third book coming out until yesterday and I was super excited and here's a super exciting post for you!

Monday, June 25, 2012

BR: Second Chance Summer

by Morgan Matson

Seeing it was a book about death and summer and a ton of people loved it... I definitely wanted to read it. It was one of my WoW a while back, too!

Summary (goodreads)


Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love

**

My Thoughts

I liked this book, but it wasn’t my favourite for numerous reasons. I failed to connect with any of the characters despite some lovely manipulated prose that made me very teary at parts, and I never really liked our protagonist, Taylor (ugh, that's harsh). Throughout the first half of the book, she hints at this “big thing” she did when she was twelve that made people hate her, and honestly, when the big reveal came around, it was hugely underwhelming. It was annoying, I don’t like it when things are built up to be nothing.

Also, there are numerous sideplots but I felt they all ran their course fairly early on, especially regarding Warren and Gelsey (their problems felt solved within the first half of the novel). The inevitable romance was boring and not swoony at all, and very predictable. Personally, I felt it lacked the spark and I never got what was so great about the boy, only that he needed more development.

I wish the novel focused more on the family dynamics as opposed to the plethora of subplots, while I enjoyed the different storylines, I felt that the pacing in Second Chance Summer suffered. Clocking in at 480 pages according to goodreads, much of that could have been trimmed. I remember there was a “seven years ago” chapter that was just reiterating what had already been said before, and was pointless and self-indulgent. The pacing dragged with the subplots and got muddled in the middle (for example, a few weeks would pass in the span of two pages).

I did really enjoy the last 40 pages or so, I felt that the characters were finally becoming more fleshed out and enjoying some much needed character growth. Matson’s writing is engaging, and I felt she depicted the beach and cabin setting extremely well, definitely using it to her advantage. Many scenes benefited from the lush environmental setting.

Second Chance Summer felt like a longer version of a Sarah Dessen book, if your’e looking for a comparison. An okay sophomore novel that I’m sure will be a hit with the majority of readers, just not me.

Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable
Acknowledgements: 3/5
Recommended for: well, fans of Sarah Dessen

7.5/10 – because I’m looking back to my review of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and I realize that I had the same problem—I never connected with the characters. I saw what Matson was trying to do with the personal journeys but they just didn’t get to me. I found there were too many subplots and the ‘big reveal’ was a disappointment. Ultimately, I did like Second Chance Summer but I felt kind of cheated because it felt too generic, too predictable, and the characters didn't feel real enough to pull off an emotional story like this one.









source: S&S Pulse It Browse Inside program
author tumblr / twitter 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

All the Books

This lovely feature is hosted by Jordyn at Ten Cent Notes!
**

Everything is in the vlog this time. But since I'm such a nice person, I'll list some stuff too :)






BOOKS READ RECENTLY

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

WHAT I'M READING

Atonement by Ian McEwan

BOOKS BOUGHT

Atonement
North & South
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
The Solitude of Prime Numbers
1Q84

BOOKS RECEIVED FOR REVIEW

The Blessed
Enshadowed
Grim
Someday Dancer
Divine Intervention

A SONG FOR YOU:



(I adore Regina Spektor's new album, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats)

And don't forget to enter my giveaway for This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers! I even interviewed her! *dies*

Have a great day, everyone :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A third blogoversary

Can you believe it's been three years?

No fanfare this time around, but yeah, crazy, a lot has changed since 2009. And a lot will be changing soon, but for now, happy birthday to this little blog :)

Thanks for sticking with it, all you amazing beautiful people.

-audrey xx


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Author Interview: Courtney Summers (and giveaway!)

LOVELIES. I have just fulfilled something on my blogging bucket list. Thank you, Courtney, thank you.

It's one of the hugest honours ever to post my own interview with one of my absolute favourite authors, Courtney Summers (of Canada! huzzah!), as part of Raincoast Books' Canadian tour for her latest novel This is Not a Test (released today!! Congrats!). This is Not a Test is one of my favourite reads of the year (read my review) and I hope you enjoy the interview!



Courtney Summers is the author of four YA novels: Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are, Fall for Anything, and This is Not a Test

Welcome, Courtney! (and okay, I kind of cheated and asked her questions about all her books-- I couldn't resist)



1. In This is Not a Test, the characters don't really know the circumstances of the 'outside world' (ie: zombie apocalypse and the whole world spinning out of control… or is it?). When you were writing the novel, were you very aware of what and how things had escalated and what was happening to the world, or were you more concentrated on Sloane's story?

I know the whys of my zombie outbreak and I have a pretty clear idea of what's going on in Cortege, and beyond.  I won't say more than that at this point, though.  :)  Due to the character-driven nature of the story and because Sloane et al are extremely isolated during the duration of it, the most they can do is guess at what's going on.  I felt it wouldn't have been realistic for them to know what I know.


2. You've continuously dealt with dark, painful matters. In my opinion, I feel your last two books have been particularly angsty. There's so much grief in Fall for Anything and pain in This is Not a Test; did you find this progression to write more emotionally heavy stories a natural transition as a novelist, or did you set out to tackle these themes deliberately?

It has been deliberate.  Each of my books have been progressively darker than the last which is something I've intended to do since Cracked Up to Be.  At this point in my writing, I'm really interested in how far I can take a story and the extremely hard situations I can put my characters in while still making the emotional core of it resonate and feel real.  Which is not to say I'll never write a happy book, or lighten up a little.  That could happen.  Just not in the near future.  :)


3. I remember you mentioning that the name Regina, from Some Girls Are, was partially influenced by Regina Spektor (love her!). Sloane's such an uncommon name, was it inspired by anything or anyone?

 Regina Spektor is awesome!  Totally part of the reason why I loved the name.  Sloane's name wasn't inspired by anyone or anything.  It sort of popped into my head and I just felt it was perfect for her, it clicked.  It fits her personality, I think.



Audrey's personal favourite Regina Spektor song, what's yours? (and I love Samson too)


4. I've read and loved (and questioned your evil-ness) in every single one of your books, and I feel like they all feel complete yet open-ended in a way. However, I have to know: have you ever considered writing a sequel or companion novel? Are there any side characters scratching at your brain, demanding their story be told?

It's interesting, but I don't really consider sequels until someone asks me if there's going to be one and then I start wondering if there was a sequel to whichever book, what would it be about, and then I usually come to the conclusion that there probably shouldn't be one because most of my poor characters have been put through enough.  I think This is Not a Test lends itself most to the possibility of a sequel or a companion book, but right now it's not on the table.  I hope that's not too evil an answer.  :)



5. Lastly, I'm sure you're going to be asked plenty of "there's a zombie apocalypse, what do you do"-esque questions, but I can't resist. There's a zombie apocalypse! Which celebrity would you want to team up with to survive?

Ooh, I would totally team up with Ed Begley Jr.  I have no idea if he would be useful in a zombie apocalypse or if he would help me survive but if it is my only opportunity to meet him, I'll take it!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Audrey!

(And for your kind words.)  :)

**

Links:
Author website


Uhm, thank YOU for answering my questions and leaving me speechless-ly happy :)

In my delirious joy, I am giving away a copy of her most recent novel, This is Not a Test, as a celebration for its release today (go out an buy your copy now, like seriously!)


This is Not a Test: 
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. 
As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, everyone’s motivations to survive begin to change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life–and death–inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?


**

Rules:
-Open internationally
-ends July 1st
-fill out the form below (yes, forms, not rafflecopter; I'm ancient)



Have a great day, everyone!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

BR: This is Not A Test

by Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers is a plus-one in my Holy Trinity of YA authors. That is all the introduction she needs.

Summary (goodreads)

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.


When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

**
My Expectations: overwhelmingly high, but I hadn’t read any reviews for it.
Delivery: I died. (figuratively)
Put-down-ability: soooo low. I was in the middle of studying and just wanted to read a couple chapters… bad idea. Finished the book whilst in the library with all my textbooks open, 1.5/10
**

My Thoughts

Every time I read a new Courntey Summers book, I always end up declaring it my favourite, and I feel this shows the evolution of the author for the better. It was the same with This is Not A Test, which well, I loved. This review will avoid most plot points because I honestly believe if you go into this book not knowing much, it will be the best way.

Summers’ writing is almost a signature now—it’s as if each word has been carefully handpicked to give the most impact. I love her use of sentence fragments and the way Sloane’s thoughts were reflected on the page, the writing allowed me to get under the skin of the characters and really grasp me as I was reading.

And of course, the characters are outstanding. Having a cast of high school students each with their odd ties and conflicting personalities stuck at a school, during a “zombie apocalypse” no less, really brings character dynamics to a forefront. I freaking loved Sloane. In some twisted way, I loved the way the author portrayed her pain and her attitude towards life, and the thoughts behind her actions. But I also loved the other characters, yes, even the dbags because they were real. They felt real. The angst and the sadness and the pain all felt so real.

Also, I cried.

In addition, it’s a book that I read when I should have been studying for exams and yet I had to finish and I looked weird sitting in my library cubicle with trying to silence my sniffles. *shakes fist at author*

I don’t know what else to write. The book just got me. Zombie novels aren’t really my thing, but Courtney Summers’ novels are. They’re like the embodiment of “my thing”—writing that can break my heart, characters that grip me so deep, and a plot I become overinvested in. (oh yeah, the plot will get to you. Twists. Surprises. Heartbreak. Even some Hope with a capital "H". Gets your heart racing and breaking and oh, so good)

Read it. (also, read this review)

And I'm sorry my review does the book no justice.

Rating in HP Terms: Outstanding
Recommended for: all contemp fans, zombie fans
Acknowledgement: forgot to read! Oops. The dedication is lovely though.

9.2/10 - because I think I was taken surprise by this in the best possible way. I didn’t underestimate Summers but I was still completely impressed with her latest novel—the characters, the darker themes, the situations, and of course, the incredible writing. This is Not A Test is thrilling, intensely emotional, and one of the best books I’ve read this year.








author website

**I HAVE AN INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY WITH THE AUTHOR (yes, COURTNEY SUMMERS) GOING UP TOMORROW.. please come back!