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Friday, October 28, 2011

Mini Rant: Goodreads Spam



Stop:

1) Spamming Inviting me to events like giveaways, author interviews, groups, swaps, new reviews, "liking" your facebook page, etc.

1a) I won't attend your event. They're starting to get annoying because it's always the same people. That's the reason why I defriend you. And why I'm not going to accept when you try to friend me again.

2) Requesting me as friend if your ratio of books to friends is less than 1. When you have 10 books in your bookshelf and have 200+ friends, I won't accept your friend request. I'm not being egotistically and self-mighty. I have learned from the past that when I did accept these friend requests, they end up spamming me with invites. I use Goodreads to share books and reviews. If I wanted to read your blog, I'll read your blog so stop sending me links every day when a new post pops up.

2a) In the past, I get about about ~10 requests per month. Now it's gone up to ~10 per week. I ignore about 70% of these requests because a) your ratio (see above) and b) we don't read the same books. The majority of my books are YA novels with some fictions and paranormal romances. Goodreads has a nifty little tool that let's me compare how many books we have in common in raw scores and percentages.

2b) You're just wasting your time and energy as well as mine.


3) Please, please if you're an author don't friend request me then spam me to read your book. I can find your book through your profile. I automatically look at your book when I friend an author. When the synopsis interests me, I'll mark it as to-read. Please don't try to "pitch" me your book through Goodreads.

4) Linking all your updates through twitter, facebook, every social networking site you're part of. When you're marking 20+ books as to-read, they ALL show on my twitter homepage. It gets annoying fast. I don't mind the status updates or when you post a review because I find them more relevant.




That being said, I still continue using Goodreads. It's a great way of keeping track of you're reading, what you've read, and what you want to read. It's a great site to read many reviews of books. Personally, I don't like Amazon's rating and their "was this review helpful" voting. I don't understand why some reviews are marked as unhelpful. Their score is also a little high for me. I don't see 4 stars as a "it's okay".

I love the new updates Goodreads has done like the 2011 Reading Challenge. I think it builds a good community for bibliophiles even if I don't have the time to participate. Also, I'm just really curious as to what other people are reading.

I just needed to get this off my chest and kill some time before my next class.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Legend

Legend by Marie Lu

Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5

Legend by Marie Lu has gotten huge advance buzz way before its release date. It was the hottest YA book for a week or two, but then the buzz died off. After finishing the book, I’m happy and sad at the same time. Happy because Legend deserves the buzz (and the film deal). Sad because most of that buzz has faded away right before its release date.

The first thing I noticed about Legend was its presentation. The novel alternates between two narrators; the chapters alternate between two different fonts and colors. (Gold for Day and black for June.) It is awesome-sauce with a side of stunning! Kudos to whoever came up with the idea because it pops out immediately with its creativeness.

UK/Aussie cover--it is
kickass!
After finishing Isle of Night, I picked up Legend. I was apparently bloodthirsty that week. Legend while not as gory as Isle of Night, is no stranger to death and violence.
 "What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets." [from Amazon]
June and Day as drawn by Marie Lu;
more artwork
Legend, for me at least, reminded me a bit of Robin Hood and some of Aladdin. While Day doesn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor, he became a legend to the citizens as the one who stands up against corrupt government and military. He never kills; not even the enemies who want to kill him. He’s skilled, resourceful, and intelligent. And a big flirt. There is one question that lingers in my mind. When June read a profile on Day, his main ethnicity was Mongolian. So why does he then have blond hair and blue eyes? As far as I know, the darker phenotypes are more dominant than the lighter ones. I could be wrong and maybe it didn't say that at all about him being Mongolian.

On the opposite hand, there’s June. In terms of socioeconomic status, she’s far ahead of Day. She’s a legend of her own, being the only person known to have gotten a perfect score on her exam.

Separated, they’re both dangerous. Together, they’re a deadly combination.

Lu has created this perfect balance of the rich and the poor, of two misfortune teens struggling to keep their own worlds together while exploring this new world they just discovered. And with them is this group of characters who play key roles in the novel. While many are not the most likeable, there’s something memorable about them. Isn’t that the best thing an author can write? A character that’s sturdy even in the time of the YA boom.

Marie Lu’s writing style in particular made me fall head over heels. I love that she writes details to appearances, to fight scenes, to the scenario, and so forth without creating this massive block of words. It’s subtle. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine how Day, June, their companions and families, the villains, all look like. Lu’s words gravitate out of the pages, into my mind, then twirl and dance and shape until this picture forms.

What weren’t subtle were the punches of surprises that Legend had. I know that there have been reviews where they felt it was predictable, and I have to agree…just not completely. There is one scene in the Legend that I’m sure they wanted to make readers gasp, but it’s been done before and expected. But there were still scenes with plot twist that I was not expecting. Lu manages to pull in external problems—corrupt governments and officials—and internal problems—greed and selfishness. There’s a lot packed in Legend, but it never becomes overburdened.

Legend by Maria Lu was the perfect balance of romance, action, with something dark in the shadow. Exhilarating! Addicting! Just gorgeous!

On a completely irrelevant note, I think someone can write a paper about nature vs. nurture with Day. Gah, too many psychology classes for me.


Source: unsolicited ARC from Putnam
Cover B+
it stands out because it's different and simplistic
Published: 29, November 2011; hardcover

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Isle of Night

Isle of Night by Veronica Wolff

Grade: 3.8 / 4 stars out of 5

When people releases make comparisons for new books with old books that had great success, I scoff. So-and-so is the new Hunger Games, Twilight, Vampire Academy, Harry Potter, etc. Right…and my unborn child from the future will be the next Michelle Kwan because I’m Chinese and small.

But sometimes they’re spot on.

Isle of Night infused both elements similar to the Hunger Games and Vampire Academy to make for one gory, violent, and addicting novel. Survival of the fittest and this book is plenty fit to survive in the sea of YA novels.
Annelise “Drew” has drawn the interest of an old creature.

With her abusive father back home, and college no longer possible, the temptation to leave is great. When a mystery man with a Proust tattoo offers Drew an escape, she seems unable to say no. But the island where the mystery Ronan takes her threatens her life. For on that island, human girls are trained to become Watchers: partners to vampires.

And the only way off the island is to fight. To lose means death.
Midterms apparently make me violent as I devoured this book. Forget sleeping and studying, I wanted blood. I admit that the beginning was very slow. I admit that I read the first couple of chapters then decided to set it aside because I wasn’t feeling it. A couple of weeks later I craved into my imaginary pressures, and turned the next page. Let’s just say that I might have missed my bus as I left late all because of a certain book. Once I got over the initial drag of the beginning, Isle of Night became what Chloe Neill says, “A compulsive page-turner”.

It was exciting, thrilling and blood racing. But let’s go back to the beginning.

When we’re first introduced to Drew, we know that she is brilliant—a genius on paper. What I’ve read in several reviews was the question of how could a self-proclaimed genius follow a random stranger into a car to an island. And I felt myself nodding right along with that because it was also my initial thought. But then I decided to play the devil’s advocate with myself (I know, I’m such a dork). Drew didn’t grow up in the most stable home: her mother died when she was young, her father abuses her, and her stepmother just sucks. She can’t trust the male figure in her life that society says to trust. Why shouldn’t she trust this guy who she feels an instant connection to? Who is safer than her own father? There’s also the possibility of Drew being book smart, but lacking in the common sense department. Of course, I’m pretty much making stuff up that makes sense in my mind.

Drew is a multifaceted character with an array of emotions. She can be snarky, the new B in town, an awesome friend, timid, afraid, and happy. She’s human who happens to drink vampire blood to become stronger, faster, and totally kickass.  Her closest companions are obviously equally kickass.

Yasuo is a vampire in training. There’s not much divulged about this part in the island. Hopefully there will be more explanation and details about this in the following sequels. He and Drew hit it off immediately which provides some of the comic relief.

Then there’s Emma from the neck of the woods. She’s very quiet, but you want to be best friends when trapped in an unknown environment with monsters. It’s always the quiet ones in the back….

And what’s a good cast of good guys without villains. And boy, do you want to punch them in the face and run away screaming for your life at the same time. Lilac, the leader of the pack of hunger teenage wolves, is a ruthless being who physically and verbally bullies Drew. And just won’t die! Luckily, Drew can dish it right back to Lilac even with 99% of the girls out to kill Drew.

And there’s the seductive stranger turned mentor who pulled Drew from the old world. There’s not enough information or contact with Ronan for me to form a full opinion. For now, he’s tall, handsome, with a wicked accent, and broody.

Isle of Night ended with an explosion. With detail fight scenes, Drew’s cunningness in full light, and an end to a character that had me cheering, Isle of Night finished with an exciting cliffhanger. This, my friends, was not a bad ending at all. Isle of Night is the perfect example of an exponential line graph. (Have I mentioned how I’m a dork?) Started off slow, but immediately took once it hit its stride. My love for Isle of Night also grew exponentially.


Cannot wait for the next book.

Read an excerpt of Isle of Night!

Cover C-
Not feeling it at all. This one is a "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover".
Source: NAL publisher

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

The Agency 3: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee (February 28, 2012--Candlewick)
Queen Victoria has a little problem: there’s a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Mary Quinn takes the simple case, going undercover as a domestic servant. But before long, a scandal threatens to tear apart the Royal Family.

One of the Prince of Wales’s irresponsible young friends is killed in disgraceful circumstances. Should the Queen hush things up or allow justice to take its course? Mary’s interest in this private matter soon becomes deeply personal: the killer, a drug-addicted Chinese sailor, shares a name with her long-lost father.

Meanwhile, James Easton’s engineering firm is repairing the sewers beneath Buckingham Palace. Trouble is, there’s a tunnel that’s not on the plans. Its purpose is unclear. But it seems to be very much in use.

These overlapping puzzles offer a perfect opportunity for Mary and James to work together again… if they can still trust one another. This is Mary’s most personal case yet and she has everything to lose.

Preorder on Amazon  /  Add to Goodreads


Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (March 20, 2010--Hyperion)
The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan--an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole.  The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.

Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers.  Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind.   It’s a race against time.  The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.

Preorder on Amazon  /  Add to Goodreads


Both sequels to really amazing series!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Personalized Pen Giveaway

I'm almost done with my mid-terms and celebrating the end of week long stress with a really fun giveaway: Promotional Pens!


I'm teaming up with Amsterdam Print to give away 50 Inpsire pens, worth $149.95, absolutely free.

Contest is closed. Congrats ASHLEY!




Here are some more details of the pen:
  • Barrel color: Sapphire, Sky, Black, Graphite, Emerald, Cranberry, Champagne, Pink
  • Ink Color: Blue or Black (Pink Pen only available with Black Ink)
  • Maximum imprint length for text (up to 5 lines):
    • Line1: 22 chars
    • Line2: 32 chars
    • Line3: 36 chars
    • Line4: 32 chars
    • Line5: 22 chars

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore Cover!

Publishers Weekly just released the cover for Bitterblue, the long awaited third book in the Graceling series, with an interview with Kristin Cashore.


Can we say "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

I am.

I love how they're sticking with objects on the forefront with a semi-face in the background. Can you see the eye through the ring? And the nose next to the right-most key? And just the hint of hair that helps give various shades of blue on the cover? I want to hug the cover...with the book attached, because this means that it's finally happening. Bitterblue is being released.

I loved, loved Graceling (one of the few books I gave 5 stars). It seems like forever since Fire came out, 3 years, but I read the ARC so it feels like 4, and I've been waiting and waiting for Bitterblue. I'M REALLY EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK! Can you tell!?

It's available for pre-order too! YAY!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If I Tell

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Grade: / 5
Jasmine “Jaz” Evans is witness to something that could be the title of a Jerry Springer Show—her best friend Lacey making out with her mom’s boyfriend, Simon. Jaz wants to tell her mother, but finds out that she’s pregnant with Simon’s child. Keeping this secret inside her, Jaz goes about her life trying to deal with school, work, and trying to fit in as a biracial teenage girl. Even when hot Jackson Morgan insists she open up, Jaz doesn’t quite know how to let her barriers down.
As I was reading, I put little notes, a little less than 40. 3 of them were actually bookmarks. 4 more were typographical errors that my inner grammar freak found in the text (it’s an eBook, so it’s forgiven). All the others were me criticizing the characters or mentioning how creepy the love interest is or just asking myself why I thought this would be good. Good news: the majority of these notes were written during the first hundred pages of the book. More good news: they were “replied” to in the last half of the book. When I went back through to check my notes for the review, I realized I judged prematurely, which for me was an appreciated slap in the face.

Things I liked: the writing style (Jaz sounded like a seventeen year old), the plotline (no dull moments), some of the characters (favorite: Ashley the lesbian swimmer with dyed hair), and the characters’ hobbies (swimming, guitar playing, volunteering, etc).

Things I loved: the biracial-girl-trying-to-fit-in concept and the almost-rape scene. [Commence attempt to not spoil too much.] First, I think it’s important to know how a biracial person like Jaz feels about herself. When she argues with Tina, when she accidently explodes at Jackson, when she talks back to the nurse, even though she’s not necessarily doing the right thing, she is honest with herself for the first time. And maybe people like Tina and the nurse will read this novel and learn something and say “I really shouldn’t judge too quickly”. The second point I want to make is there’s a scene in this book that’s really important for teenage girls to understand. A boy can tell you he loves you, that you’re special and beautiful and the one for him, but that doesn’t mean you must open your legs. And if you don’t open your legs, and the boy gets mad and calls you a tease or whatever, do NOT blame yourself. It’s a piece of self-respect everyone should have.

Things I didn’t like: the main character, the love interest, the best friend and the believe-ablity. Jaz can’t handle her problems in a healthy way. The way Jaz avoided Lacey made me think she never liked her in the first place. Lacey, the BFF, just seems flat. When she tells Jaz her secret, I really think she could have mentioned that earlier. When Jaz asks Lacey why she didn’t tell her sooner, she says something like “I don’t talk about details” which is complete crap. I’m pretty sure if I had that secret, I’d tell someone like my best friend. But because Jaz doesn’t actually love her, they don’t have a true best friend relationship and the credibility of the story goes down the drain. I also dislike Jackson with a passion. Within days of meeting he’s super nice to Jaz, rescues her, pays attention only to her, gives her money for her guitar playing, drives her everywhere, and asks her to talk about feelings with him. He’s perfect. You know which other love interests are perfect? Twilight’s Edward, Fallen’s Daniel, and Hush Hush’s Patch. Perfect and not interesting. Also, like Lacey, Jackson has a secret that when he shares with Jaz and she asks him why he didn’t say something sooner, he says “I never got a chance to” or something. I went back to the beginning of the novel, pointed, and said “Here is where you mention it.”

The first half of the book bothered me, such that I wanted to give it 2 stars, but the second half was adventurous! So it gets a little extra overall. However, I won’t be recommending it to any one any time soon, and I’m probably not going to read anything else of Gurtler's.


Source: NetGalley, Sourcebooks eBook