Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In My Mailbox (6/15 - 6/27)

Here is my In My Mailbox post for the past two weeks while I was in Europe :) I'm so far behind on reading right now that it's not even funny, but once again I got some amazing looking books.

Private by Kate Brian

Received from Bookmooch. I'll probably wait until I have the whole series to start reading it, which could take a while. But I hate starting a series and not having the rest of the books and then forgetting what I read while I try to come across the other books. It looks interesting though.

The Glass Maker's Daughter by V. Briceland

Thanks to Addicted To Books for this one! I'm honestly not much of a fan of these types of books, but I figure I'll give anything a try once. I hope it's good but I'm not quite sure what to expect from this one.

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Addicted To Books also sent me an ARC of this (thanks, Amy!) I really love the cover, it's so pretty. And it seems like it'll be a great book. I've heard about it for a while now and can't wait to read it.

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

I know, I know, I fail. I still haven't read this yet. But while I was away, the copy that I won from Sarah's Twenty Tweet Summer party arrived. SO excited for this one, I've heard amazing things and I'm pretty sure I'm like one of the last people to read it. But I finally have my copy, and will probably get started on it right away :)

Back from Europe!

I just got back from my trip to Europe about 4 hours ago.. I've been up for 30+ hours straight and our flight was delayed and it was just all sorts of crazy. I unfortunately didn't have any time to read while in Europe, but got some great books in the mail while I was gone :) So I'm definitely looking forward to catching up. Look out for updates in the next few days, including an In My Mailbox post for the two weeks I was gone, and a contest coming up soon. It seems like I missed a lot of great book stuff while I was away, so I'm excited to get back into the swing of things again! How has everyone else's summer been so far?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vacation time

I know I haven't been posting much in the way of reviews lately, and that's because I've been busy preparing for vacation and not having much time to read. I'm going to stay in a hotel tonight and then early tomorrow morning, I get to get up and get on a flight to Europe. I'm excited, but kind of nervous as well. It's with 30 other people who I don't know very well (with the exception of one of my friends who is going).

If I can manage to find WiFi somewhere, I'll be checking for updates and whatnot on my iPod touch, but probably won't be posting anything. I'm also kind of sad, because the YA Book Carnival is happening while I'll be gone. Oh well.

So I'll be back on the 29th and hopefully will have all sorts of fun stories and pictures to share. :) Bye for now!

Review: Love and Other Four Letter Words

Title: Love and Other Four Letter Words
Author: Carolyn Mackler
Publication date: May 10th, 2005

With her parents splitting up, 16-year-old Sammie Davis may not want to feel a thing, but feelings happen. For starters, she's plenty angry. Her dad's leaving their upstate New York home and moving clear across the country. Her mother -- well, she's packing up and relocating to New York City with Sammie, who has no say about any of it. Overnight Sammie is forced to deal with change. And one change spawns another: Roles get reversed, old and new friendships tested, and sexual feelings awakened. It's a scary time. But as Sammie realizes that things can't stay the same forever, that even the people she loves and trusts the most can disappoint her, she begins to accept that change isn't always bad. It's how you cope, jumbled feelings and all, that counts. And as she copes, Sammie's sense of self emerges proud and strong.


This was definitely a book I could relate to in a lot of ways, and that made it all the more enjoyable to read. The relationship between Sammie and her mom, for example. Or the awkwardness of having to move to a new place and trying to make friends with people. I've definitely been there before, so I could really sympathize with her struggles. All of the situations and characters in this book were very real and enjoyable to read about.

I loved Sammie's relationship with Phoebe. How Sammie kind of thought she was weird at first, but then they started spending more and more time together. Then Sammie kind of realized who her true friends were. And just the same as in the other book I reviewed by Carolyn Mackler, the more I read into the story, the more I felt like I was living in it and wanting to cheer on the characters. I laughed out loud at some parts, and I'm not sure I often do that when reading. The author definitely has a good way of writing a story. It's very realistic and you can really relate to things.

One thing that I really wanted to know, though, about the guy Sammie meets in the elevator of their apartment building. She refers to him as JD - short for Johnny Depp, because he looks like him. But the book never tells his real name, and I was wondering about this throughout the whole book. When you look at the big picture, it really doesn't matter. I like who she ended up with and how it ended. But I'm still really curious, haha.

This was a great light read about having to cope with situations that you have no control over, and trying to make the best of them. And the fact that sometimes, no matter how bad things may seem, there can always be good things that come from it.

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: B

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In My Mailbox (6/8 - 6/13)

I had an amazing week this week, so many exciting books!

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

Received for review for a website, though I doubt I'll be posting a review here. It's more of an adult novel and I'd like to try to stick to YA on my blog. I just finished it though, and it was great. So if it sounds interesting, maybe check it out.

Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti

Thanks to Laura's Review Bookshelf for hosting the contest that I won this from :) I've really wanted to read it for a while now, so I'm excited to have a copy.

Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

The second book of 4 that I received from Laura's Review Bookshelf. I'm also really excited for this one as I'm a huge Sarah Dessen fan. Yay! And I love the cover.

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

The third book I received from
Laura's Review Bookshelf. Once again, thanks! :) The cover for this one is a bit creepy, I think. Haha. But it looks good.

Unclaimed Heart by Kim Wilkins

The fourth book I received from Laura's Review Bookshelf. I'm not usually one for books set in other centuries, but this one looks really interesting. I think that just the title by itself is interesting. So we'll see what I end up thinking of it.

Say The Word by Jeannine Garsee

This one looks really interesting! Between the summary and the excerpt on the b
ack cover, I can't wait to read it.

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker

Won this in a contest that Elizabeth Scott had, thanks! This sounds like a really good summer read :) Definitely looking forward to reading it. And the cover is cute too.

A Time For Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin

I went to a local library sale this weekend, and while they didn't have many good books, I did manage to find this. I'd heard about it from a friend who said it was really good, so I'll
be interested to see how it is. :)

The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven

I got this at the library sale too. It's kind of funny because I had seen the cover on another blog just yesterday and thought it looked interesting. Then I was browsing at the library sale today and saw the same cover! It's not something that I would've bought at retail price, th
ough it sounds interesting enough, so I decided to pick it up.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ARC vs. finished copy

I've been receiving quite a few ARC's in the mail lately, and it's got me thinking. I'm interested in what other people think about this. Do you prefer ARC's? Or do you prefer to buy the finished book and have a hardback copy? If you get an ARC of a book that you really like, is that the same to you as having a finished copy?Or would you go out and buy it as well? Which do you value more in your collection?

These questions are all kind of similar to each other and I feel like I could go on forever with them, so feel free to answer in any way you'd like. I'm just interested in hearing other people's opinions on the matter. Or if you know of any discussions similar to this that have happened on other blogs, please link me to them. :) Thanks!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Review: The Waters and the Wild

Title: The Waters & the Wild
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Publication date: June 2nd, 2009

When Bee woke up, there was a girl standing in her room. 'You are me,' the girl said. Then she was gone.

Thus begins thirteen-year-old Bee's discovery that her life is not what she thought it was. In this compellingly eerie new teen novel from critically acclaimed writer Francesca Lia Block, Bee's never felt like she really belongs in this world. When she encounters her dark and ethereal double, she realizes she may be right...

It started with Bee seeing her doppelganger, and trying to find out more information from a boy named Haze, who believes his father was an alien and so he must be too. She also meets Sarah, a girl who believes she's a reincarnation of a slave from the 1800's. Together, they form a friendship and realize that Bee must be a changeling, and someone is trying to get her back to where they think she belongs.

This was a quick read, I read it in one sitting. But it was very enjoyable. I love the topic of it, and the ideas of doppelgangers and changelings and similar things. It starts out as seemingly normal, but turns into something fun and magical and dark all at the same time. It was mostly fantasy (turning invisible/flying, etc) but was real (crashing parties, etc). The writing was simple but descriptive and captivating, and the story was somewhat fun but eerie.

I loved the relationship between Bee, Haze, and Sarah. They were all kind of outcasts before, but when they came together they seemed to fit just right. The ending made me a bit sad, but I won't spoil it for you! Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, but still had a great effect. If you liked Francesca Lia Block's other books, or something like Tithe/Valiant, you'd definitely like The Waters & the Wild.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Overall grade: B

Monday, June 8, 2009

Review: The Opposite of Music

Title: The Opposite of Music
Author: Janet Ruth Young
Publication date: February 27th, 2007


Billy Morrison's father was the kind of dad a guy dreams of having. When Billy wanted a bike, his dad helped him restore a classic to perfection. When Billy said he wanted to be a songwriter, his dad taught him to sing the blues.
But his dad just isn't the same man anymore. Mr. Morrison doesn't eat, barely talks, and even refuses to listen to his favorite records. His depression is slowly crippling his family. And to save his father, Billy will have to face decisions almost too frightening to consider.
The Opposite of Music is a powerful and realistic debut novel about the lengths a family will go to in order to save one of their own, and the strength it takes to learn to ask for help. What would you do for the ones you love?

I was honestly a bit disappointed with this book. While overall it was good, and the idea behind it was interesting, I think it could've been done better. It wasn't bad, but a lot of it just seemed unrealistic to me. Like the fact that the first thing the mother did when they found out the father had depression, was to talk to the (13 and 15 year old) kids about it and try to come up with a reason why. In most families I know, the parents would've tried to make things look as normal as possible for the children so that it wouldn't be a burden to them as well. But in this book, the children were expected to help care for the father, as if he were sick with a huge cold or something. They also withdrew from professional help, and tried to "treat" him on their own, at the house. And if it was as bad as they made it seem, I think he should have possibly been in a hospital or something. Not being taken care of by a 15 year old boy the majority of the time.
I think the issue of depression was very real and shown in a great way, but just how the family dealt with everything seemed so unreal to me, which made this book somewhat disappointing. It also seemed to just be lacking something. I'm not quite sure what. Possibly it was just the issue of it not seeming realistic that kind of threw everything off for me. I have mixed opinions about this book. While it was interesting and I don't regret the time I spent reading it, I don't know if I'd recommend it to anybody or read it again. Maybe if you were looking for something to read out of boredom, and had nothing else to read. I didn't hate it, but it just wasn't anything really special.
Characters: 6/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 7/10
Overall grade: C

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Finished with the 48 Hour Book Challenge

So my 48 hour time frame is officially over. I stupidly started it at a bad time though, because I didn't actually start reading until about 5 hours after I posted the start of it. Oh well, I'll know better next time! I managed to read for 15 hours (1.5 of which were spent writing reviews and networking), which is better than I thought I'd do. I was aiming for 20, but I'm proud of what I did manage to accomplish. 20 will be my goal for next year! :) I finished 3 complete books, and am 3/4 of the way done with another. That adds up to be 1,256 pages.

Since my decision to participate in this was completely on impulse, meaning that I had no time to plan strategically or clear my weekend for it, I'd say I didn't do too bad. I had a lot of fun participating, and managed to lessen my TBR pile by a few books. Not bad at all! Congratulations to everyone else who's finished so far, and good luck to those of you who haven't reached the finish yet. I will definitely participate in this again, as long as I remember about it.

Review: Identical

Title: Identical
Author: Ellen Hopkins

Publication date: August 26th, 2008

Do twins begin in the womb?
Or in a better place?

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.
For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.
Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

Even if you don't like books written in poetry form, I think you'll love Ellen Hopkins' books. I've read all of her other titles (except for Glass) and thought they were amazing, and this one is no exception. It's told in a sort of free verse poetry form, which makes reading it take less time than you'd expect for such a thick book. And it still manages to have a lot of depth. Identical was especially thought-provoking, and I'm still kind of trying to piece it all together in my head. I can't say too much without ruining the book, but there's a huge twist at the end. The kind that makes you want to read the whole book over again, now that you have that new piece information. The kind that makes you see the whole story in a different sort of light and you can't quite wrap your head around it until you've had time to digest it. I LOVE it!

Then of course, as in her other books, there are the lovely sort of hidden messages within the pages. Like leaving certain words out to the side, so that when you read only those words, it forms another sentence. If you've read any of her books, you'll already know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, I suggest you go read them so you can find out what I'm talking about. I think it's pretty cool, especially in Identical. Because the book was narrated by each of the twins taking turns, when it would switch from one to the other, the same hidden (well not really HIDDEN, but I can't think of a better word) message that was on the last page of one's point of view would be on the first page of the other's.

It was just kind of incredible how the whole book came together and left your head somewhat spinning at the end. If Identical sounds at all interesting to you, definitely pick up a copy. You won't regret it.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A+

Saturday, June 6, 2009

In My Mailbox (6/1 - 6/6)

I had a great week this week with IMM! :) So many exciting books, and I even met an author today. More about that in my comments on one of these books :)

The Waters and the Wild by Francesca Lia Block

Thanks to The Shady Glade for hosting the contest that I won this from. Though my cover isn't as pretty since it's an ARC, I'm still really excited about this one. I remember reading Francesca Lia Block's other books 3 or 4 years ago, so I'm excited to see how this one is.

Love and Other Four-Letter Words by Carolyn Mackler

I liked The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by the same author, so I'm hoping that I will like this one just as well! I think just about everyone else has already read her books, so I'm probably a bit behind. Oh well!

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

I'm excited for this series :) Looks interesting! The book is really heavy w
ith a thick cover and a somewhat odd shape, I thought. The cover is pretty neat though.

Ghostgirl: Homecoming by Tonya Hurley

Sequel to
Ghostgirl. As I said before, I'm excited! :D

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

It took me fore
ver to get this one (and I STILL don't own and haven't read Glass..) but I've started reading it and I'm glad I got it! It's also signed by Ellen Hopkins, who I met today at a book signing here in Reno. She actually lives around here, which I think is pretty cool. No nifty pictures or anything of the sort to share with you guys, though. Sorry!

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Yay! I've really wanted to read this one after hearing great things from people, and now I finally have a copy. Thanks to Shalonda's Blog for hosting the contest for this :)

48 Hour Book Challenge Update

Here are my stats for the 48 Hour Book Challenge so far. I haven't been doing the greatest with this, as I've had other things come up throughout the day that I needed to tend to. I'm planning on reading the rest of the night, though (maybe through the night!) and for most of tomorrow until I have to stop because the 48 hour window will be up.

So far, I've:
-read for 6 hours, 35 minutes
-finished 1 book (How To Buy a Love of Reading) and written a review for it (posted earlier)
-and am halfway through another book (Identical)

I've had a lot of distractions and just generally not felt well, so this slows my pace a bit. My goal is to read for upwards of 20 hours though, so we'll see how that goes! Good luck to everyone else participating, I'm sure you're doing much better than I am :P

Review: How To Buy a Love of Reading

Title: How To Buy a Love of Reading
Author: Tanya Egan Gibson
Publication date: May 14th, 2009

To Carley Wells, words are the enemy: the countless SAT lists from her tutor, the “fifty-seven pounds overweight” assessment from her personal trainer, and most of all, the “confidential” Getting To Know You assignment from her insane English teacher (whose literary terminology lessons include “Backstory is Afterbirth” and “Setting is Nobody’s Slut”). When he tells her parents that she’s answered “What is your favorite book?” with “Never met one I liked,” they become determined to fix what he calls her “intellectual impoverishment.” They will commission a book to be written for Carley that she’ll have to love—one that will impress her teacher and the whole town of Fox Glen with their family’s devotion to the arts. They will be patrons—the Medicis of Long Island. They will buy their daughter The Love Of Reading.

Impossible though it is for Carley to imagine ever loving words, she is in love with a young bibliophile who cares about them more than anything. Anything, that is, but a good bottle of scotch. Hunter Cay, Carley’s best friend and Fox Glen’s resident golden boy, is becoming a stranger to her as he drowns himself in F. Scott Fitzgerald, booze, and Vicodin.

When the Wellses move writer Bree McEnroy—author of a failed meta-novel about Odysseus’s voyages through the Internet—into their mansion to write Carley’s book, Carley’s sole interest in the project is its potential to distract Hunter from drinking and give them something to share. Instead, as Hunter’s behavior becomes erratic and dangerous, she finds herself drawn into the fictional world Bree has created and begins to understand for the first time the power of stories—those we read, those we want to believe in, and most of all, those we tell ourselves about ourselves. Stories powerful enough to destroy a person.

Or save her.

How To Buy a Love of Reading was a bit hard for me to get in to at first, with the first sentence being 78 words long and the first 50 or so pages seemingly not taking off anywhere. But then I started to get used to the style of writing, the story started to pick up a bit, and I loved it. Between the interesting (for lack of a better word) style of writing and the type of world in which the characters live, it made for an interesting book. I was expecting a novel about, well, a girl whose parents try to have a perfect book written for their daughter who wants nothing to do with reading. And while that WAS the main focus of the story, in a way, it went way beyond that.

This book was much more complex than I thought it would be, and mostly went into detail of the lives of 4 main characters, it seemed. Each of them was interesting in their own way, and I came to love all of them. There was the relationship between Carley and Hunter, and the relationship between Bree and Justin. There was a lot going on in this book all at once, and in order to really understand what I was reading, I had to be right on top of it. This is not one of those books that you can sit and read in one sitting. It's not an easy book to read if you can't easily comprehend a lot of things at once, especially in the style of writing it was written. But if you can look past that and sort of adapt yourself to the book, it's full of interesting ideas and unique characters.

With this book, it seems to be either a love or hate thing. I've read reviews of people who loved it and found it interesting, with a few exceptions here and there (*raises hand*), but on the other hand I've read reviews of people who simply couldn't get past the writing and put the book down because they found it to be slow and unsatisfying. Though it did have its quirks, I personally really liked it. Just a fair warning, though - it's not for everyone.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Overall grade: A

Friday, June 5, 2009

48 Hour Book Challenge!

I just found out about the 48 Hour Book Challenge and have spontaneously decided to join in. I can't promise that anything spectacular will happen, as I'm not sure what else will be taking up my time this weekend. I do know that with school having ended today though, that I definitely need to start reading some more. I think this is a great way to start that! So I'll see what kind of damage I can manage to do in the next 48 hours.

I have officially started as of 3:45 PM on Friday. :)

This will be my first time participating in anything like this, but woohoo, I'm excited!