Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Dust Girl

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature at Breaking the Spine.

The book I'm "waiting on" is Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. It will be published June 26, 2012.

Summary from GoodReads: This new trilogy will capture the hearts of readers who adore Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series. Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she's never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone, when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in "the golden hills of the west" (California). Along the way she meets Jack a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company—there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there's also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.

Why I'm waiting: I love the idea of an American fairytale. I also like the setting, the Dust Bowl. It reminds me of the films of Tom Davenport, who has made several fairy tale films based in the American South. I hope it's as good as those films!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Ripper

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature at Breaking the Spine.

The book I'm "waiting on" is Ripper by Stefan Petrucha. It will be published March 1, 2012.

Summary from Goodreads: You thought you knew him. You were dead wrong.

Carver Young dreams of becoming a detective, despite growing up in an orphanage with only crime novels to encourage him. But when he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the world famous Pinkerton Agency, Carver is given not only the chance to find his biological father, he finds himself smack in the middle of a real life investigation: tracking down a vicious serial killer who has thrown New York City into utter panic. When the case begins to unfold, however, it’s worse than he could have ever imagined, and his loyalty to Mr. Hawking and the Pinkertons comes into question. As the body count rises and the investigation becomes dire, Carver must decide where his true loyalty lies.

Full of whip-smart dialogue, kid-friendly gadgets, and featuring a then New York City Police Commisioner Teddy Roosevelt, Ripper challenges everything you thought you knew about the world’s most famous serial killer.

Why I'm waiting: When I was younger, I loved to read True Crime books or peruse Crime Library. While I don't do this as much anymore, I'm still interested in these topics, and a retelling of Jack the Ripper intrigues me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cover Crazy: Wintertown

Cover Crazy is a feature on the Book Worms.

Why I love this cover: Maybe it's because I've now spent most of my life in Minnesota, but I love the depiction of Winter on this cover. Winter is a very beautiful time, with all the snow, but it also can be a very melancholy time. I think this cover captures the beauty of snow, but also the loneliness of it. I can already guess what this book might be about without reading the description!

It looks like the snow at the bottom is confetti? I love the use of a mundane material to depict the pile of snow. Very creative.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Review: Fateful by Claudia Gray

Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Pages: 356
Why I read it: The setting of the Titanic really drew me in.

What I thought:  I really, really liked this book! I'm not a huge fan of paranormal romance. The romances fall flat for me and I'm sick of the "bad boy" vampire/werewolf/whatever. However, I first read about this book over on the Book Smugglers blog, and I was intrigued by the setting. I've always been interested in the Titanic, way before the 1997 movie, even! And the reviews I'd seen online looked pretty good, so I thought I would give it a chance.

The story follows Tess, a maidservant for an English noble family. They are traveling to America presumably to marry their only daughter off. Tess has plans to abandon the family in America and find a job on her own. However, her plans are thwarted when she meets Alec, who turns out to be a werewolf. Tess is intrigued by him, but yet knows how dangerous he is, and of course there are other dangers at work on the Titanic, besides, well, the sinking.

I really liked the characterization in the book. While Tess and Alec quickly fall in love, I didn't find it so obnoxious. Their romance was pretty grounded in reality. Alec was a bit of a "bad boy" but he fought against it, because his being a werewolf wasn't exactly his choice. Tess had a lot of agency, and while I felt like Alec was trying to protect, she also was able to protect him and take care of herself. I felt like some of the minor characters were cliches, but I think they generally fit into the story well. I liked how Gray showed the kindness of the upper class, rather than portraying them all as stuffy and cruel.

I loved how Gray used the Titanic as a backdrop for the story, and obviously she spent a lot of time researching the history and the customs of the time.

I was a little surprised by the twist ending. I guess I should have seen it coming, but I was still surprised. It seemed a little too tidy of an ending. I felt like the latter half of the book was rushed. While Gray spent a lot of time building up to the sinking and building relationships between the characters, I felt like the sinking happened quickly, when I know it took a couple of hours before sinking. Tess comments on how an hour and a half as passed, and maybe I was reading this part too quickly, but it seemed like the ship sank too quickly. And the ending felt a little rushed. I don't think this book was meant to be a series, but the author has set it up where there could be a sequel. I'm interested to see what happens to the characters if there is a sequel.

I give this book a 4. I really, really liked it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

We all have those books. We buy them, win them, they're gifted to us.. Then we put them up on a bookshelf and there they stay, collecting dust, waiting for the time when we'll finally decide to pick them up..

Join us on a quest to dust off your TBR Pile and read all the books you've been telling yourself you'll read next time you'll get a chance.. This is your chance!

I found this reading challenge from another blog, and I definitely will be doing it this year. My TBR is massively long and I really need to work through it instead of adding all the new books coming out in 2012. I am going to try for Level 11-20 books - A Friendly Hug. I will be making a list up on Goodreads with all the books I want to read. That will be coming soon!

Challenge guidelines: 

  1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
  2. As we would like to see quality reviews linked up to our monthly wrap-ups, only bloggers can enter. Sorry about that!
  3. Any genre, length or format of book counts, as long as it is a book that's been sitting on your shelf for some time now. Only books released in 2011 and earlier! NO ARCs and 2012 fresh-off-the-press releases allowed!
  4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  5. When you sign up in the linky, put the direct link to your post about joining the 2012 TBR PILE Reading Challenge (You need to include the info + host list + challenge button. You can also grab the button code and add it to your sidebar!)
  6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  8. At the end of each month one of the hosts will post a wrap-up. Every wrap-up will have it's unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this month. For each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. It's open to INTERNATIONALS. For participating in the mini-challenge you will get +1 entry.
  9. If you miss a wrap-up post + giveaway, you can link up your reviews next month. Do not, however, try to link up one review twice - we will be checking ;)
  10. December is a wrap-up for the whole year. All the book reviews you linked up January-November + the ones you'll link up in December will be entered into a HUGE giveaway - 12 books, 12 winners, INTERNATIONAL. 
  11. You don't have to follow all the hosts to join the challenge, but you do have to follow all of us to be entered in giveaways!

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

Evie from Bookish - @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read - @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home - @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life - @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading - @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read - @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea - @alouetteuette
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction - @fansoffiction

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Joining the 21st century!

I just got an e-reader! Finally! I've been wanting one for a while, but was unsure about buying one for myself. I already have a lot of hardcover/paperback books I need to read, so I couldn't justify the cost of an e-reader.

Luckily, yesterday was my birthday and I got one from my parents. I've already bought one book on it and figured out how to "check out" e-books from the library. I'm very excited!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature at Breaking the Spine.

The book I'm "waiting on" is Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #) by Marissa Meyer. It will be published January 3, 2012.

Summary: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Why I'm waiting: I love, LOVE anything to do with fairy tales, especially retellings. I think this one sounds unique, and I'm not usually into science fiction, but I think the element of this genre in Cinderella entices me.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: Juliet Immortal

Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Pages: 304
Why I read it: I love Shakespeare and a retelling of Romeo and Juliet sounded really exciting.

Summary: A retelling of Romeo and Julie. However Juliet doesn't kill herself, Romeo kills her in order to achieve immortality. Romeo works for the Mercenaries, who want to destroy love and keep soul mates apart, while Juliet is an Ambassador for the Light, working to keep romantic love and soul mates together. They both come back to earth and take over the bodies of the living to fight over preserving or destroying lovers. However, this time, Juliet finds herself falling in love, which is forbidden.

My thoughts: I found the concept of the book very intriguing, a new twist on the story of Romeo and Juliet. The big motivators in the book were love and hate, obviously, but both Romeo and Juliet were motivated by both. Juliet acted out of revenge, while Romeo had a mix of regret and evil motivating him. I thought it was a nice balance.

I am tired of love triangles in books, but this love hexagon, I guess, worked for me. There were a lot of twists and turns as to who were the soul mates Juliet was sent to protect and whether Juliet was going to fall in love with "forbidden" Ben or go back to Romeo. I felt like I knew the outcome of the book, but didn't quite expect the little twist at the ending, even though I thought I knew the plot/characters of Romeo and Juliet really well!

The inner dialogue in Juliet's head wore on me for a little while. It went on and on and on and I sometimes felt a little bored when she was rationalizing all the decisions in her head. I wanted her to just make a decision! The book is mostly told from the point of view of Juliet, and when I got a chapter from the point of view of Romeo, I thought it would take away from the book. I actually wish there had been a couple more parts inside of Romeo's head, because he was a more complex character than I originally thought.

I would give this book a 3, I did like it, but found Juliet's inner dialogue a little grating at times.

I have decided to use a 0-5 rating system, because 1-10 is a little too vast for me.

0: Couldn't finish.
1: Didn't like it.
2: OK book.
3: I liked it, but not great.
4: I really, really liked it, but it wasn't perfect.
5: Loved, one of my favorites.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Title: The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Published: August 2, 2022
Hardcover, 282 pages
This is the story of Lexi, a girl living on the seam between the town of Near and the moor. One night, a stranger appears on the moor and the next morning, one of the town's children have disappeared. Everyone blames the stranger, but Lexi comes to know him and is convinced the kidnapper is someone else. In the ensuing search, Lexi comes to know more about witches, the moor and the Near witch.
What I liked: I loved the premise. It has everything I love in a story; witches and fairy tales. I loved the idea of the witches and the wind calling and the strange disappearances. As for characters, I loved the father, even though he wasn't physically present in the story. I liked how his stories were told.
I loved the language and thought it was beautifully crafted. It read like a fairy tale.
What I didn't like: The romance between Lexi and Cole. He didn't have much personality and he veered too much to the bad boy with a bad mysterious past for me. I didn't enjoy the romance between the two. They had just met and all of a sudden, they are kissing and in love. I think the story would have been better without the romance.
I also wanted some of the minor characters to have bigger roles in the story. Specifically, Helena, Lexi's friend, and one of the villagers, Mrs. Thatcher. I feel like they were both thrown in haphazardly and could have added to the plot if they were given bigger roles.
Overall, I did like the premise of the book, and it was beautifully written but the romance fell a little flat for me. I give it a 3, I liked it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I have been an avid reader since I was young, and have recently decided that I would like to blog about the books I read. I've never been much of a reviewer, but I'm hoping to get into it. I will be focusing on Middle Grade and Young Adult books, but some speculative fiction might sneak in there.

Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan

For my first review, I've decided to read an older book. I've been revisiting books and authors that I liked when I was little. However, I don't think I ever have read anything by Lois Duncan before. She is most famous for her book "I Know What You Did Last Summer." I have never read this book, nor have I seen the movie, or if I did see the movie, I have forgotten about it.

This book was originally published in 1974, and the edition I read obviously came from the 1990s, due to an advertisement inside the book, "Get it on videocassette!" and the cover is very 1990s. The book seems a little dated to me, with the 1990s look, and the book references carbon copies and the characters all write letters. While this is not a bad thing, I can see this book as not getting checked out that often from the library, and it may not be relevant to the the target audience.

This book is gothic fiction, and I was really enjoying it, until the "mystery" was solved, then I felt a little disappointed. I didn't find the final threat or antagonists to be horrifying. In a lot of ways, I think it's more a psychological thriller than a ghost story, which is what I was expecting. I didn't find the book to be scary, and I was expecting something a little scarier.

As for the characters, I think they were pretty well drawn, a few of them were bland, and I didn't understand the point of Jules being an attractive young teacher. I liked the contrast of Ruth and Kit, the main character and the conflict between them towards the end of the book. I would have liked to see that expanded.

Overall, I would give the book a 5 out of 10. I did like it, but it didn't pack the scare punch I was expecting, and I am a big scaredy cat, so that's not that hard to do!