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Win a copy of Nobody and Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ends 2/20)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Books by its Cover July Winner

It seems as though Week 1 was the easiest by far. Week 2 and Week 3 proved to be a big challenge (that or not many seemed to care lol). Below are the correct answers, but I will admit that some answers I received could have worked except for one or two words.

Week 1:
Fire, passion, anger
Endless cycle—
a snake eating its own tail

my review of The Eternal Ones will be up shortly

Week 2:
The bright neon;
Hazardous;
Both design and font.
Osculate

you can read my review of Crash Test Love here

Week 3:
Mutated slime
Tendrils search,
Then embed.

you can read my review of The Gardener here

Week 4:
Space, void, nothingness;
Thorny heart;
Hush—it’s—!

you can read my review of Forbidden here

And the long awaited winner is... ALLISON (killer___@hotmail.com)!

Next month is a new start for Books by its Cover so hopefully this served as a good practice! The prize is my ARC of Sea by Heidi R. Kling so if you are interested watch out for next Saturday. Contest is open internationally and past winners are allowed to enter again for next month.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Forget You

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Source: MTV Books

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5
Zoey’s dad just got his twenty-four-year old girlfriend pregnant.

Her mom was admitted to the psych-ward.

She just lost her virginity to a friend / playboy the same night her mom tried to kill herself.

She gets in a car crash trying to avoid a deer during a rainstorm.

Zoey gets amnesia and forgets everything that happened that night.
Forget You has the skeletal structure of the book in perfection yet the muscle and tissues are missing. Forget You lacked what I found incredible in Going Too Far: the emotional impact and self-awareness. Forget You grazed those two issues that made it an “OK” read from being an “amazing” read. I’ve heard the good and the bad of Forget You. It’s spectacular! It’s raw! It’s so obnoxious and annoying that I cannot simply get past 50 pages! It’s not any of those things in my view.

I am mostly disappointed in the relationship between Doug and Zoey. There was some background clarity that Zoey and Doug has some past history (heck they almost went to Homecoming together), but I felt that the point leading up to the inevitable confession was hard to swallow. Keeping the actual time frame in mind rather than going by the length of the book (like instead of saying they had so-and-so pages to progress, I went by they had this many hours from the confession) I found it to be slightly unbelievable to warrant the “L” word.

Okay so keeping the timeframe in mind (after the accident, beginning of the book) it would make sense. There were some deep connections and lots of baggage to be laid on the table and definitely enough sweetness and tenderness (though things got raunchy).

The layout of Forget You was slow in my view. The plot went round and round that seemed to be missing a definite direction. I was a bit peeved as to why no one would utter a word especially from the close friends (whom I would assume would at least try to comfort Zoey). (I am still confused about Mike and Lila, but mostly Mike in general.)

The build-up with Forget You was well done (though the ending was a small let-down) and the hints were appropriate for a dramatic / romantic fiction novel than say it would be for a thriller / mystery novel. On a surface level Forget You was an impressive read with external and internal conflicts, a hot half-Japanese guy, and a great idea for a novel.  On a deeper level there were some chips and cracks.

Cover B-
A little too light for my liking. I wanted a bit more saturation in the colors.

Forget You is now available: Amazon / Indie Bound / Book Depository

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cassandra Clare V-Chat!

Hey guys! I just got some awesome email news if you are in love with Cassandra Clare's books (I am)!

"Wednesday, August 4 at 5 pm ET, author Cassandra Clare will be making a major announcement about The Mortal Instruments series and taking questions during a video chat on www.Ustream.tv/SimonandSchuster. There’s also a sweepstakes to win a limited edition Clockwork Angel pendant. "

Ripley's Believe It or Not: Enter If You Dare

Ripley's Believe It Or Not: Enter If You Dare

Source: Public Relations Firm (William Wellons Communication)

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Last year I had the great pleasure of reviewing Ripley's Believe It or Not: Seeing Is Believing! which was loads of fun and this time I can do it all over again! In this installment there are 12 chapters: Strange But True, Weird World, Extreme Sports, Body Oddity, Travel Tales, Incredible Feats, Bizarre Mysterious, Fantastic Food, Artistic License, Amazing Science, and Beyond Belief. It gives you a general outlook to the book with two-headed, 6 legged animals, 12 fingered hands,Giant Gummi Bears (1,400 times bigger than the average bear), and so forth. There are also fold out pages one of which features sixteen-year-old Jyoti Amge from India. She is 23.5 inches (60 cm) tall so the fold out pages is her actual height!

Some highlights that I found particularly interesting:


"Leandro Granto...paints pieces of art using only his eye as a paintbrush. First, he puts the paint into his nose, next he forces the paint up through his eye and finally squirts it into a canvas."

"the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals started a fat-fighting club for animals with weight problems, and Socrates the cat was one of the nine chosen animals. The fat cat...loves to eat cheese-and-onion potato chips and weighs a massive 22lb (10kg). This is more than double his ideal weight and makes him "morbidly obese".

Albino turtle! (It reminds me of a chicken....)

There were also some "Believe It or Not!" that were not so awe-shocking, but those were far and few. Overall Enter If You Dare is another excellent installment to this series that I think would be perfect and entertaining for any age!

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Enter If You Dare! releases on the 10th of August.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jump

Jump by Elisa Carbone

Source: Personal

Grade: 3 stars out of 5
P.K. and Critter are both escaping; one from a trip to boarding school and the other from the psychiatric ward. They meet by fate at a climbing gym and set off the next day for an adventure.
Something about Jump screamed out to me: 'Pick me up! If you don't, this decision will haunt you for the rest of the year'! With that kind of argument, I knew if an opportunity arise for me to pick up Jump, I had to take it. And I did. And I did not regret it...for the first half of the book.

When I picked up Jump, I wanted an escape, something to take the heat out of my mind. The first several chapters provided a chortling good read with one of the most oddness, but entertaining, character I have ever come across. Critter's narration was the key highlight of the novel. He has a call-it-as-he-sees-it attitude (in his mind at least) with a touch of innocent naivety that produced, on more than one occasion, laugh-out-loud statements. Yet it is P.K.'s narration that balanced it out. She had a much somber, regular teen narration that worked well to balance the bubbly cheerfulness of Critter's (because the chapters do alternate). (There are also third-person point of views mixed in as well.)

However, Jump started to falter towards the middle and shot right out of the line at the end. For me, though some opinions will differ, Jump had too much rock climbing. 'This is a rock climbing book'--I understand, but somewhere down the line I got tired of reading about cracks, belays, 5. 9's, 5.lla's, and gah! Every once or so I can deal with, but it was a continuous process that gave me a strong urge to flip through the pages. Many will say that there were dialogues and short scenes in-between the rock climbing, but my mind did not register that as much as the rock climbing.

There is also the argument that the rock climbing frees the mind and helped shaped P.K. and Critter develop in the story as well as being a philosophical stepping stone (because Jump is big on the philosophy of what makes up life: the here and now, the past, or the future). But I looked at Jump as a wholesome, fun, joy-ride read as a means of escape that I did not find.

There is also a big level of unbelieveability in Jump. Do teens nowadays run away from boarding school with a complete stranger to go rock climbing? Substitue rock climbing for anotehr obsession and I still find it hard to beleive. The running away part?--Sure. Teh complete stranger part?--W.T.F. is wrong with you? Is the sensisible reasoning why thsi is okay is because he is hot? And the fact taht he brings deordant, a toothbrush, and a change of shirts convinces you that he is not a criminal escaped from somewhere? And let's not bring a cell phone because if you did, it would only make you feel really guilty.

The ending was a mess in my opinion. There is some closure, but plenty more of what's, how's, and why's.

If you are looking for something different, enjoy adventures (rock climbing), and a different philosophical take than Jump is for you. For everyone else test the water before Jumping in.

Cover B-/C+

Buy Jump: Amazon / IndieBound / Book Depository

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TLC Book Tour: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwama and Bryan Mealer

Source: Harper Perennial

Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5

Stop by William's blog as well as the rest of the blog tour stops.
In a lifestyle where the amount of crop harvested accounted for everything, "The slightest problem in weather, fertilizer, or seed productivity could tip families off the edge into hunger" (79). That was the life of William Kamkwamba. Education has always been a luxury that many could not afford and because of the famine, William is one of many drop-outs. He later seeks out the library as a source to fill his crave of education--self-educating himself. This is where William first learns of windmills and is inspired to create one. It forever changed his life.
William is the boy who harnessed the wind and channeled it into electricity. He is the boy who intrigued several, captivated many, and inspired thousands. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is an emotional impacting novel that gives the readers' a taste of the harsh African life. Before the "uplifting" part came, it is a depressing and harsh reality that many only know so little about.

Having taken a course that focused several months on child soldiers in African and corrupt governments, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind brought back that time for me. Along with the heart-wrenching famine that killed thousands, still creating a horror scene with precise diction in written form, I struggled to maintain a separation from my learnings and  the novel, but it was hard. In my mind, not only did I picture the arid land and skeleton framed beings struggling about, but splashes of red lined the picture. Blood, anger splotches at the corrupt government.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind commands attention and sucks the reader in, compelling a one-sitting read. It has a narration of a great storyteller: captivating the audience, installing a sense of fear, creating tension, an emotional link, and ending with a grand moral and an uplifting morale. Weaved throughout the novel, there are tidbits of Kamkwamba's childhood and culture. Below is a crude diagram of the novel: the main line is the general plot, sometimes going off tangent that takes time.

In a sense The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a memoir, just one that is written by someone else, of William Kamwamba's entire life, not just the windmill part.

One of the biggest highlights of the novel is the accompanying pictures. However I struggled a lot through the actual "windmill" building aspects. It just completely flew over my head. I also wished for a glossary at the book of the novel as a reference for many of the words.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was extraordinary. A novel that I would suggest others to at least reach the 100th page.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Winner for the Jennifer Sturman Prize Pack!


Congratulations to Ann! I have forward the address you provided to the publicist and your prize should be there shortly! Thanks to everyone who entered the contest :)

Manga Monday: Barajou no Kiss

Barajou no Kiss by Shouoto Aya

Other Titles: Kiss of Rose Princess
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama, Action, (makes reader embarrassed) Comedy
Art: 4.5 stars
Plot: 3.5 stars
Characters: 2.8 stars
Serialized: Not in US yet
It's about a girl who has magical powers...not really. It turns out she is a rose princess and she has 4 rose knights protecting her. When she kisses their cards (sort of like Card Captor Sakura anyone?) they gain their respected powers. Which is really useful because someone is after her and sending "fake" roses--lime, orange, yellow, etc.--to attack her. Now Anis, the girl, needs to collect a different set of cards in order to fix the door that leads to a really bad place (perhaps Hell? not sure, but it's really bad).
So you are dying for some eye-candy pick this manga up. It is very "Mary-Sue" and has one of those plots that is simplistic. It is entertaining and I spent a couple hours reading when I was bored.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Books By Its Cover Week 4


Week 4's prompt:
Space, void, nothingness;
Thorny heart;
Hush—it’s—!


Books by its Cover Week 1
Books by its Cover Week 2
Books by its Cover Week 3

*For more information about Books by its Cover click here.*

Friday, July 23, 2010

Other

Other by Karen Kincy

Source: Flux

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5
Gwen is an Other: a supernatural being. She just happens to be half-pooka (on her father's side)--a shapeshifter who can shift into almost anything, but typically seen as a black horse with yellow eyes as their main characteristic. But Others can also include, but not exclude, vampires, werewolves, kitsunes, dryads, and water sprites. Despite this wide array of people, Others are not wholly accepted in the world (not even in Canada!) with a group called The White Knights in that frontier of negativity. Now there's a suspicion that they are back on the attack when Others in Gwen's town are found in the open--dead; many of the times Gwen is the one finding them including one of her closet friend hanged with her throat cut open. Gwen wants answers yet she fears for her life as clues are being left that may point that Gwen may be next. High stakes call for high emotions especially when one just falls in love.
Karen Kincy writes in an urgent manner with quick fast action scenes and heavy romance, while still managing exact details that paint vivid images and sensations. Others portray a universal and classic motif of prejudice--a different form of race in this manner. Yet the incorporation of various ethnicities gave a pleasant shock as it is a rare treat.

Kincy embraces a modern technology: Internet. Instead of long-winded monologues, Google searches explain much of the needed background which was refreshing. She also incorporated an authentic AIM chat--something that I can imagine reading and participating in with lol's and emoticons and none of the forced internet slang. (Also mentions blogs.)

As mentioned previously, ethnicity is pretty big in Others and one character that I found most interesting was Tavian (short of Octavian). Tavian is Japanese who is shorter than Gwen: 5'4 compared to 5'7. It is just so new to me because I am used to reading male characters being tall and Caucasian that I inadvertently smile when I read the description. Kincy creates healthy relationships where couples at least try to be honest and open with each other (and practice safe sex).

However, Others have inconsistencies and contradictions scattered around. Gwen wears a dress then several pages later she apparently had worn a blouse and a long skirt; Gwen checks on her blog daily yet she apparency owns no blog when asked are just a couple of examples. Then I felt somethings were not clarified: Maris being a prime example. And finally just some awkwardness in the book: a dream sequence that failed to be much of anything (especially with foreshadowing) since it was not mentioned ever again after that page and these huge hints that Gwen somehow misses.

Others ended solidly where I saw no point of a sequel (let alone being a trilogy), but I am eager in reading Bloodborn and Foxfire. I expect a detailed, action-packed romantic escape like I found in Others with the faults smoothed out.

Cover A+
GORGEOUS!

Buy Others now: Amazon / IndieBound / Book Depository

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harmonic Feedback

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Source: Personal

Grade: 5 stars out of 5
Drea has obsessive interests. Before it was car parts now it's music. She loves producing music, adding beats, creating more depth and she just might have found her newest band members: Naomi and Justin. Naomi with her soulful voice and Justin with his sensual skills is all very new to Drea.

Drea has never been good at making friends. She has Asperger's, a current diagnosis, that might explain her social awkwardness. But in this town Drea is experiencing a whole spectrum of new emotions and companionships. With her fairy looks Drea just might attract the wrong crowd...or maybe just right.
After finishing Harmonic Feedback one thought came to mind: Thank God I bought this book. Harmonic Feedback was exactly what I was craving for at that moment. It filled my need for a sweet romance yet did not overdo it that would have left me gagging. Harmonic Feedback had a nice balance of intense drama and warm fuzzy feelings accompanying the blooming relationship.

Naomi was a little hard to swallow, but I still managed to read Harmonic Feedback, not once, but twice (and a half) in one sitting. As soon as I was finished, I wanted to read it again because I enjoyed it so immensely.

My words are not good enough for Harmonic Feedback so I am going to point out Courtney Summer's review of the book because it is AWESOME.

Cover B

Definitely buy yourself a copy: Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Twilight Saga



Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

Series in Order: Twilight / New Moon / Eclipse / Breaking Dawn
Spin-offs: The Short Life of Bree Tanner / Twilight: the Graphic Novel (which I reviewed here)

Source: Personal

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5

For someone who has piles and piles of books that need to be read and reviewed I had the extreme craving to reread the Twilight Saga over the weekend. Which, as you can tell, I followed through and lightly read / skimmed the novels.

Twilight, it seems, forces the two extremes out: Hate or Love. It is one of the most bashed on teen novels that has inspired many parodies, YouTube videos, and "Vampires Suck" movie. But I'm not here to mention that. Instead I am here to say that I like Twilight to an extent. Heck, I own the entire series and a movie poster and the graphic novel.

Honestly I have no idea why I am writing this review. I am also certain that I am forgetting a few points here and there.

Cons:
1. It is not a great piece of literature and, in my opinion, will never be a "classic". That is just a fact of reality despite the intense twihards who permanently tattoo themselves across their skins.

2. It needs more editing. Just copious amounts of fine combing.

3. The whole Breaking Dawn book. Too happy-ending, too much build-up for nothing, too odd of names. Renesmee!? EJ (Edward Jacob)!? Carlie is a perfectly great first name, which I would have really preferred over Renesmee.

4. It has taken over Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Wal-mart. And perhaps several other chain stores.

5. It started a domino effect: paranormal fictions are hot. Now and then I miss a good ol' contemporary novel that deserves more credit than what it has gotten.

Neutrals:
1. Edward: Edward is a creepy stalker and the relationship of him and Bella is a bad influence to tweens and teens across the world. Really though? In my opinion I like to say that we have some common sense here. I would like to believe that the majority of teens, in my case, should know better than to date guys who likes to sniff you, drink your blood, and stare at you sleeping every night. Common sense: stay clear from stalker/creepy guy and call 911. It is also common sense to not be an "abusive" relationship. (The word abusive is stretching it far.) It aggravates me a bit that Twilight is constantly bashed on for the relationship and yet some of the adult paranormal novels' relationship are not much better.

2. Bella: she is a Mary-Sue plain and simple. But Bella is someone that many teens can relate to (sort of).

Pros:
1. It is an addicting, guilty-pleasure read. I have read each book several times already, almost second to the Poison Study series.

2. It has gotten many teens to start reading on their own. I, for one, am one of those teens. I was always a reader, just not a big reader; perhaps I would read a book a month, but no more. Twilight, as some of you may cringe, sparked that first initial reading habit so there is a sentimental value for me.

I am 99% positive (in my guesstimating ability) that Twilight did not deter already avid readers from reading again. Sure, Twilight might have some strong negative opinions, but it never forced anyone to stop reading.

And perhaps Twilight gave some reason for the older audience to pick up teen novels. (Twilight Moms--enough said.)

3. Some of the classical readers are probably pissed at this, but teens are now picking up Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet because of Twilight. Harper Teen realized that with the re-released updated covers to match Twilight.

4. Yay paranormal fictions!