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Waiting on Wednesday (41)

This week, I'm waiting on...

The Turning by Francine Prose. Here's what Goodreads has to say: Jack is babysitting for the summer on an isolated island with no Wi-Fi, no cell service, and no one else around but a housekeeper and two very peculiar children. He immediately senses something sinister-and it's not just the creepy black house he's living in. Soon he is feeling terribly isolated and alone, but then he discovers there are others. The problem is, he's the only who can see them. As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn't crazy…Or is he? 

I love the Turn of the Screw, and this is being marketed as that for teens, so I'm really excited for it! The Turning releases September 2012 from HarperTeen.

Faking It

I never thought it would happen to me, but I faked reading Grapes of Wrath the other day. We're reading it for lit class, and as much as I normally enjoy the books we go through, I just absolutely cannot stand this book. I find it tedious on a thousand levels, and though the writing itself is gorgeous, I have my issues with the storyline - though that's a topic for another day.

But, well, lit class is lit class, and we have tests and reading deadlines. But I simply have no way of keeping up with the reading because there is so much in so little time, and it's hard to get through. So I do what I have to do and fake my way through it by reading just enough to have something to say in class and to do well on the tests, even if it means skimming the pages.

What about you? Have you ever faked reading a book, whether to impress someone or to get by in class? And since we're on the topic, am I the only one who hates Grapes of Wrath?

Pure: Review

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Release Date: February 2012
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 448
Goodreads Rating: 3.77 stars

Review: Everything changed after the Detonations. Some, like Partridge, were one of the Pures and led privileged lives in the Dome, and the rest, like Pressia, were left to attempt to heal in their fused and damaged bodies outside in the ash and dirt. But now Partridge is overwhelmed by loneliness and Pressia is on the run, and when they meet, their worlds shatter once more.

I was expecting just another dystopian novel when I opened PURE, and that's so not what I got. Sure, there were some "typical" dystopian elements. Isn't everyone familiar with the big nuclear blast or other world-changing event, and a dichotomy between social classes? But what really set this book apart was its unflinching look at the consequences of such a nuclear blast. Namely, the people that weren't one of the Pures were fused together.

This premise was fascinating in an almost horrifying way, with some fused to objects and others to fellow people. Sometimes this imagery bordered on graphic, which you should look out for if you're squeamish, but I admired the author for not being afraid to step out with such an unconventional look at a dystopian world.

The writing itself was remarkable as well. Each sentence flowed smoothly and beautifully to the next, with some turns of phrase even giving me shivers. The absolutely gorgeous writing propelled the story along neatly from one scene to the next and led it through plot developments that had me on the edge of my seat in suspense.

All in all, this is an emotional novel with an amazing premise and even more incredible writing. PURE is pure awesomeness (could not resist the pun, sorry) wrapped up in lovely text, and I know I'm waiting in eager anticipation for the next novel. I sincerely recommend this novel to any fans of dystopia, especially those looking for some that are less gentle about the future.

Cover Reveal: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

I hope I'm not late to the party with this one, but I just saw the cover of Malinda Lo's latest book, and it looks incredible!

Aliens! Inside people! Malinda Lo! What more could you want?

What do you think of this book and cover?

Trapped: Review

Title: Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop
Release Date: February 2011
Published By: Scholastic
Pages: 240
Goodreads Rating: 3.24 stars

Review: Scotty is one of seven kids trapped in school when a snowstorm turns into a seven-day blizzard. At first it doesn't seem that bad, especially with his two best friends as well as two hot girls among the group. But then they lose power, and with that, the heat. Soon the situation is more serious than they ever could have expected, and as the pipes freeze and the roof shudders beneath the weight of the snow, they become forced to make a devastating decision.

What first attracted me to TRAPPED was how unique the plot idea seemed. I've always enjoyed survival stories set to a modern day background, so I was excited to start this novel. While this book definitely had its flaws, I was not disappointed, especially by the plot. It advanced at just the perfect pace to explore the emotions of the characters without losing the suspense inherent to the story.

And speaking of the characters, each one was perfectly developed and well-written. The cast was realistic and honest, with everyone sounding and acting like a normal teenager dealing with a heavy situation. Scotty in particular was an excellent protagonist, grappling with the issues at hand while still having flaws like any other human being in the world.

What did bother me, though, was the abrupt ending. I had been reading along, engrossed in the story, and all of a sudden it just seemed to... stop. There wasn't really much of a resolution, and I never really got to find out how things got wrapped up. Was Scotty's mother okay? What happened to the kids next? Was the town able to rebuild? It was like the strings were cut loose with no follow up.

Overall, TRAPPED was an excellent read full of survival and suspense, as well as a good dose of contemporary-esque emotion to temper the apocalyptic feel. I found myself enraptured in this novel, burying myself in the story without the ability to stop until the very end. Although the end itself did actually bother me, the rest of the story was good enough to make up for it. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a good survival story.

Waiting on Wednesday (40)

This week, I'm waiting on...

House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier. Here's what Goodreads has to say: Orphaned, two sisters are left to find their own fortunes.

Sweet and proper, Karah's future seems secure at a glamorous Flower House. She could be pampered for the rest of her life... if she agrees to play their game.

Nemienne, neither sweet nor proper, has fewer choices. Left with no alternative, she accepts a mysterious mage's offer of an apprenticeship. Agreeing means a home and survival, but can Nemienne trust the mage?

With the arrival of a foreign bard into the quiet city, dangerous secrets are unearthed, and both sisters find themselves at the center of a plot that threatens not only to upset their newly found lives, but also to destroy their kingdom.

I'm not usually a huge fan of fantasy, but I can't resist that gorgeous cover and intriguing summary. House of Shadows releases July 2012 from Orbit.

Have you heard of this book? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tastes in Books and Movies

It's no big secret that I love dark books. The more suspenseful and disturbing, the better. I like reading books that tear me apart and put me back together or maybe even just leave me hanging. Of course, these are not the only types of books I read - I love many other genres - but they're my favorite kind.

But it's occurred to me that my taste in movies is very different from my taste in books. When I watch movies or shows, I tend to prefer light, funny sitcoms. I don't watch a lot of dramas, and the ones I do (like Doctor Who - big Doctor Who fan over here!) still have an element of humor.

I can't really determine why that is. Perhaps dark movies are a little too intense for me, or maybe I've just never really watched the right ones, since I barely watch TV. After all, I did really enjoy A Beautiful Mind.

So my question to you is, do your tastes in books differ from your tastes in movies? Why do you think that is? Or are your tastes the same?

Masque of the Red Death: Review

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Release Date: April 2012
Published By: Harper Collins
Pages: 320
Goodreads Rating: 4.32 stars

Review: The population has plunged into one remaining city from a devastating plague, and those left alive remain in constant fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them. The privileged, like Araby Worth, live only to forget it all: nights in the Debauchery Club, elegant dresses, glittering make-up, and a tantalizing way to never remember. But one day she meets Will and Elliott, neither of whom is what he seems, and she just may find something to live for - and maybe even fight for.

This novel may seem at first sight to be similar to other apocalyptic novels out there, featuring a plague and a death-ridden world, but it's obvious just a few pages in that no book is comparable to this one. The story is based off of a short work of the same name written by Edgar Allen Poe, and though there were many inventive twists on the original work, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH was still able to retain the same wonderfully gothic feel.

This riveting novel captures you not just because of its intriguing plot but the writing was well. It seems to be deceptively simple words strung together, but in fact, each sentence reverberates with power and weaves together a dark world easy to get lost in. Once the cover has been lifted, there is no putting it down, and it is near impossible to not be tempted to finish the entire book in one sitting.

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is not a novel to be forgotten. From the remarkably powerful writing and gothic tone to the poignant emotional scenes that seize your breath, this book shows a bleak but oddly beautiful future. I would recommend this to anyone, regardless of their preference about dystopian fiction.

In My Mailbox (44)

This week, I received...

For Review
Above by Leah Bobet
Boy21 by Matthew Quick

Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe
Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Narc by Crissa-Jean Chappell
Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker 

What did you get in your mailbox?


I've been tagged by Julia from That Hapa Chick! The rules are pretty simple:

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

So here are the questions Julia has set out for me, with my answers in blue!

1. If you could inject yourself into one literary world which world would it be and why?

This is going to sound totally cliche, but honestly, how could you ever get better than good old Harry Potter? You've got magic and butterbeer and those crazy jelly bean things with all the awesome flavors, and I can't even imagine how awesome it must be to live at Hogwarts. Sure, there are downsides (like Voldemort, for one), but hey, the butterbeer makes it worth it!

2. What fictional character do you relate to the most?

Well, this is a rather tough question. One character I related to at the time I read the book was Miles from Looking for Alaska. I read the book for the first time a while ago, when I was in the awkward transition from eighth grade to high school, and I could definitely sympathize with his naivety and somewhat awkward approach to social situations. At the same time, he matured immensely throughout the novel and was able to grapple with arguably the hardest of life issues, and I admired that quite a bit.

3. What do you think of e-readers?

I like e-readers because of their convenience, and I own a Kindle just because of all the NetGalley books I have. It definitely beats out reading so many books on my computer screen. However, if I had a choice between an e-book and a paper book, I'd choose paper all the way. There just seems to be more pleasure involved.

4. What is your favorite book genre and why?

I enjoy reading books with hard-to-classify genres. For instance, I loved the book Variant and it had a little bit of a dystopian feel, some contemporary issues thrown in, definitely adventure, sci-fi, and good old-fashioned suspense. 

5. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life what book would it be? And no, you can't choose a book series. :P

Hmm... I'd have to go with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I love the book so much, and there's so much packed in there that it could last a long time.

6. If the Zombie Apocalypse were to hit what would be your weapon of choice?

I'm more likely to end up hurting myself than a zombie if I was holding a weapon, so I guess my weapon of choice would be a person. Like, a really experienced person with guns and knives and the knowledge to use them.

7. What is your favorite book cover?

It's hard to pick favorites, but off the top of my head, I love the cover to The Night Circus. I remember it taking my breath away the first time I saw it.

8. What is a book that has been sitting on your shelf just begging to be read the longest?

I actually have a bit of a system in place as to what books I should read next (I have a somewhat neurotic personality, if you couldn't tell :P), so I don't usually end up with books waiting forever to be read.

9. Who is your favorite book villain? 

Is it too cliche if I saw Voldemort? He's the perfect villain.

10. What is your favorite book quote?

John Green to the rescue! "What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” It was actually very difficult to choose just one because all his writing is so beautiful, and looking over all those quotes makes me want to read all his books over again.

11. Be honest: If you saw Edward Cullen sparkling in the sunlight what would you do?

Scream. Run away. Move to Canada.

Here are the questions I'm asking!

1. What first turned you into a reader?
2. Do you prefer books that make you cry or books that make you laugh?
3. Have you ever faked reading a book, e.g. telling someone you've read a particular classic?
4. What's your favorite place to read?
5. Where do you get your books from?
6. If you could have dinner with one author, who would it be?
7. Do people ever judge you for the books you read?
8. What's the first book you ever read - or first you can remember reading?
9. What cover trend do you hate?
10. What cover trend do you love?
11. What do you like best about blogging?

And now for the people I tag!

Anna from Anna Reads, Becky from Stories and Sweeties, Tara from Fiction Folio, Hilary, Britney, and Farrah from I Eat Words, Allison from the Allure of Books, Giselle from Xpresso Reads, Kris from Imaginary Reads, Megan from Hooked to Books, Wendy from Mocha Latte Reads, Katie from Book Love, and SJH from a Dream of Books.

Guest Post: Awkward by Marni Bates

Dropping by today we have Marni Bates, author of the awesome Awkward. She's here to tell us what she does when she's not writing. Take it away, Marni!

When I'm not writing . . . I am usually feeling guilty about it. See, I procrastinate a lot. Mainly with T.V. but I'll use just about anything if it means I don't have to work. I'll even clean my room! Okay, the room cleaning thing doesn't happen very often but . . . you get what I'm saying.  

The funny thing is that it's hard to know when you're working and when you're not. Sure, I can tell the difference between sitting down at my laptop and typing and . . . not writing. But that doesn't mean I'm not working. When I spend hours Googling hot male actors between the ages or 21 and 25, that's research. And when I create collages where I map out character traits and personality conflicts, that's work too. I readily admit that it doesn't look like work (and it doesn't feel like it either) but it helps me get a stronger understanding of my characters.

So I spend most of my time procrastinating on writing by obsessing over characters and plot possibilities. And I never know when a song or a casual conversation will trigger some amazing idea for me. I'm always on the hunt for something new that will bring my work in progress together. Especially since I inevitably lapse into at least a two week span (on every novel) where I am utterly unproductive. I spend most of that time glaring at my computer and groaning loudly.  

Yet my mom shows no pity.  

Anyhow, when I'm not writing, or thinking about writing, I'm either hanging out with friends, rollerblading, reading, or soaking in the hot tub. Or I am doing homework. I am almost finished with college (only one quarter left!) but I've always had to schedule my writing around my classwork. Okay, that's not entirely honest. I've always held the policy that my writing comes first, unless I'm working furiously on an essay that's due in less than 12 hours.  

My friends have seen me pull some back to back all-nighters because the first night I couldn't resist the siren call of a romance novel and the next night I had to actually get my work done.  

Usually they catch me making Macaroni & Cheese at one in morning when that happens.  

*Hangs head in shame*  

But enough about my writing!   

I'm very fortunate that my grandparents owned a travel agency and believed in the importance of seeing other places and different ways of life. Most recently, I went on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, which was absolutely incredible. I floated over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon and I watched a leopard drag its kill into a tree before devouring it. All great material for a novel some---  


Okay, let's try again.   

I don't really have a cat. I mean, technically Farley is mine, but since he wants nothing to do with people in general (and me specifically) I'm not sure he should count. My mom has a wonderful dog named Rascal who gets three times the attention of her actual children. He's a labradoodle and couldn't be sweeter. He also snores at night which I find absolutely charming. Again, not sure what that says about me. I'm tempted to write him into a new series about a girl who---  

Okay, so that's not working either.  Truthfully, right now my life is hard to discuss because I'm in limbo. I still don't know where I want to live. Heck, I'm not finished with my college degree yet! I'm trying to be okay with the whole not knowing thing because the alternative is to completely freak out and that doesn't seem like a good call. That's when I become convinced everything would make perfect sense if I just moved to Thailand and lived on Pad Thai.   

Not sure that's really the answer though.  Anyhow, for now most of my life revolves around my writing because that's one of the few things I do have control over. Hope that's not too disappointing!

Thanks for stopping by! 

All Things Asian Sign-Up

Julia from That Hapa Chick, Lucia from iLive iLaugh iLove Books, and I have planned an exciting event to celebrate Asian heritage in books! If you're an Asian blogger, Asian author, author who has written a book with Asian characters, or even just someone of any ethnicity who thinks diversity is important, we invite you to sign up to celebrate this two week long event!

You can do guest posts, reviews, giveaways, anything you can think of. If you're interested, fill out this form below and we'll send you more information!

Waiting on Wednesday (39)

This week, I'm waiting on...

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna. Here's what Goodreads has to say: Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination - an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her 'other', if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she's ever known - the guardians who raised her, the boy she's forbidden to love - to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

How amazing does this sound? The premise seems incredibly unique, and I love the cover. The Lost Girl releases August 2012.

(Bad) Hunger Games Puns

A while ago I made a post with Harry Potter puns, so I decided to look into Hunger Game puns. Unfortunately, I couldn't find that many online and I'm hardly good at jokes and puns, so these are all the ones I got:

  • TEAM GALE: because Peeta is a bunch of Mellark-y!
  •  Spearing people is Rue'd.
  • I need Katniss like I knead bread.
  • "Why are debit cards so ugly?" "Aren't there banks that let you design your own cards? Like Capitol One?" "Yes, but I don't trust the Capitol with my money."
I got these from here, here, and here. So yes, clearly there's some major Hunger Games pun shortage going on here, which leads me to ask you: what Hunger Games puns do you know or can come up with?

Cinder: Review

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 2012
Published By: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 387
Goodreads Rating: 4.11 stars

Review: Cinder is a gifted mechanic living in New Beijing with, well, just one problem: she's a cyborg. In other words, she's a second-class citizen despised by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But suddenly, her life intersects with Prince Kai's and she finds herself in the center of an impossible romance and an intergalactic struggle. The only way to save the future, she finds, is to uncover her past.

It's obvious straight away from the cover that CINDER is a different book, but even so, I was pleasantly surprised by how inventive this story truly is. Though it is clearly based loosely off of Cinderella, Marissa Meyer takes an entirely new spin on the fairy tale that puts all other retellings to shame. This is set in a dystopian world that is far different from any other dystopias I've read about and has a quality that is at once dreamy and gritty, and practically brims with creativity.

It wasn't just the world that was different - Cinder is about as far from the prototypical servant-turned-princess as you can get. True, she is somewhat of a servant to her family and yes, she does have some fun times with the Prince, but she's not just a maid. She's a kick-butt mechanic cyborg and strong as hell. This girl is fierce, loyal, and kind, and someone all the other Cinderellas out there could learn from.

With a character like this, it's no surprise the rest of the story was equally awesome. From the lovely budding romance to the high-paced plot, this novel was impossible to put down. I was sucked in way more than I expected to be, to the point that sometimes I would look up and expect to see the crowded markets of New Beijing surrounding me. And as for the ending? Can you say major cliffhanger? It was frustrating for me that it ended like that, but it was more in the way of being a reader who wants more; in other words, I didn't think the ending detracted from the book.

All in all, CINDER was one wild ride jam-packed with adventures, tears, and a heroine who anyone can admire. There's a swoon-worthy prince, creepy aliens, cyborgs galore, a virulent plague, and world-building that will have any writer green with envy. What more persuasion could you possibly read? I'd recommend this book from the top of my lungs.

Cover Comparison: Pandemonium

I noticed that there's a new cover of Pandemonium lurking about in the blogosphere, so even though I haven't read Pandemonium yet (though I loved Delirium), I decided to do a cover comparison of that with the original.

On the left is the US cover, and while I do like the color scheme, I don't feel like it quite works for me. I'm not a huge fan of the half-face phenomenon, and the weird shaped leaves surrounding her are odd. It also sort of looks like she has no neck and no body which is a bit disturbing.

The UK cover is on the right and oh my gosh, I love it. It's so surreal and beautiful and almost nostalgic, in a way. Just looking at it with its gorgeous colors stirs up emotions, and I adore the way the girl is portrayed. She looks raggedy and a little lost, which is a great contrast both to the lovely scene and the numerous YA books that have girls on the run while somehow wearing elegant dresses.

So as you can tell, the UK cover is the clear winner for me. Which one do you like better?

Freefall: Review

Title: Freefall
Author: Mindi Scott
Release Date: October 2010
Published By: Simon Pulse
Pages: 315
Goodreads Rating: 3.82 stars

Review: Seth was the last person to see Isaac alive and the first to see him dead. It seemed like just another night where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn, but this time, he didn't wake up, and Seth is convinced that he's to blame. Lost in a cloud of guilt, Seth only finds his self-torture alleviated when he meets Rosetta, beautiful and different. But she has secrets too, and he realizes he may not be the only one who needs saving.

I was expecting a somewhat typical contemporary novel when I opened FREEFALL and instead found myself surprised by the sheer beauty of this writing. Slowly but surely, this book sneaked up on me and got me tangled in its gorgeous words to the point that every time I cracked the covers open, I was immediately lost in Seth and Rosetta's world.

One aspect I really enjoyed about this novel was that it came off as very authentic, both in the narration and the plot. Seth offered an honest guy perspective and definitely did not sound like a woman trying to write as a boy, and rather like his own true person. There were just little details and quirks in his narration here and there that gave off a strong sense of, well, guy-ness, without dissolving into clich├ęs. The plot itself was authentic because it tackled real, true issues and grappled with them in a manner that was both realistic and graceful.

However, I did have some complaints concerning the plot - mainly, not enough was said. Throughout the book, a lot is hinted about what happened with Isaac and Seth, and I was looking forward to a big reveal-all scene, but the details were just trickled out little by little and that was it. I wanted to know more, and instead I got very little. Similarly, I felt like there wasn't enough said about the tragedy that occurred to Rosetta and how it affected her. Like with Isaac, there were little tidbits but simply not enough to satisfy me.

All in all, though, FREEFALL is a gorgeous, un-put-down-able novel that grabbed me from the get-go and never released its grip until the end. From the lovely writing to the sweet romance to even the very narration of the protagonist, Mindi Scott pulls off a book that tackles the hardest issues but comes away beautiful. I only wished that there was more information about certain plot points, but I would still, of course, recommend this novel to anyone who loves contemporary!

Deadly: Tens List

Here on the Deadly tour, coordinated by the lovely Teen {Book} Scene, is Julie Chibbaro, with a Tens List!

Top Ten Books that Inspire Me

1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
2. The God of Small Things by Arundati Roy
3. Teach Me by R. A. Nelson
4. Just Kids by Patti Smith
5. Typhoid Mary by Judith Leavitt
6. The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
7. The short stories of Flannery O’Connor
8. The short stories of Alice Munro
9. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
10. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy

Thanks for stopping by!

Pieces of Us: Review

Title: Pieces of Us
Author: Margie Gelbwasser
Release Date: March 2012
Published By: Flux
Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 3.67 stars

Review: Every summer, four teens are able to escape their daily lives and forget themselves by the lake. But back at home, Alex is angry at his dad, who killed himself, and his mom, who he blames for it. His younger brother Kyle is angry too - at Alex for being abusive and his mother for not caring. In New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while struggling to forget the nightmare that changed her life, but her sister Julia only sees her for what she's not. But when Katie's secret emerges, the four of them are torn apart in ways they couldn't predict.

All I can say about this book is wow. Just wow. I didn't expect PIECES OF US to pack the emotional punch it did, and boy, was I ever surprised. This novel hit me on an unexpected level, with its gritty and dark themes striking me so profoundly that there were places in the novel where all I could do was just stare at the pages. The story was raw and painful and absolutely beautiful in every single way.

The interesting thing about this novel was that I didn't actually like the characters that much. They each had their own difficult problems and serious personality flaws, and yet despite that, it was almost like it wasn't necessarily to like them in order to appreciate the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book without coming close to thoroughly enjoying the characters, and I have to say, I admire an author who can craft a story like that.

PIECES OF US ripped me to pieces and built me back up again in a thousand tiny little ways, and all I can do is try my hardest to recommend this to you. This book is gritty and dark and thoughtful and raw and honest, and every word strikes like a bullet and stays forever. I will say that this definitely isn't a book for everyone; a certain type of person will like it, and I'm sure there are some out there who dislike it, but all I can say is to just give it a try.