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Monday, January 30, 2012

Would This Nerd Go Back to High School? ft. Jay Clark

Booty School Dropout: Would This Nerd Go Back to High School?

Flashback: I’m a freshman in high school, feeling lame because I’ve just taken the same girl-who’s-just-a-friend to the last two dances.  When it comes to making heads of chasing tail, my moves are nowhere near Jagger.  More in the vicinity of Groban. 


Meanwhile, a crazy person has just invaded my bedroom, and she’s trying to convince me I’m smack-dab in the midst of one of the best times of my life.  


“Mom!”  


“What?” she says innocently.  “It is!” 
moves like Groban


“Then here,” I say, handing her a pillow.  “Put this over my face and press.”  


Mom shakes her head, refusing to be an accessory to my death.  She’d much rather see me die from embarrassment.  


Then she agrees me some cinnamon rolls, and I’m over it. 

I’m not gonna lie, my high school experience wasn’t exactly a big bowl of reefer cherries.  I was boring beyond my years, a grandpa before his time, obsessed with tests and homework and whatever class election was coming up next.  Snooze.  I jokingly like to blame my sister for these problems, because that beautiful Homecoming Queen was way too popular for both our goods.  Queen Clark had star power to spare, so I had no choice but to step out from the shadows and disappoint her subjects with the fact that I wasn’t, you know, her.  Look out, here comes the little brother!  Dude, why is he reading a book during lunch?  That kind of thing.

But guess what?  I wouldn’t change my awkward four-year stint for the world.  Somewhere along the line, I learned how to be funny(ish?) as a way to compensate for my absence o’ social skills.  To this day some would even say overcompensate—thanks for the unpleasant reminder, grouchy Kirkus reviewer lady!  If I hadn’t learned how to make a majority of my critics laugh, though, then I wouldn’t be typing this blog post right now, trying to pimp a humorous book that’s loosely based on my life as a teen.  See, everything crappy happens for a reason.

yum...
Young or old, we all just want to be liked, and there’s no better (or worse) place to test our personalities-in-progress than high school.  Tough audience?  The toughest.   But arguably the most rewarding.  Hence why I still have teeth-grindingly bad dreams about it, and why I’m drawn to being a writer of the genre.  Does this mean I have to admit my mom had a point?  Never!  Maybe a little one, but I’d say it’s more about me being a glutton for punishment.  

Regardless, even if the book heads straight for the bargain bin, I know exactly where to get some cinnamon rolls to ease the rejection.

Jay Baker is the debut author of The Edumacation of Jay Clark, coming out tomorrow!

Meet Jay Baker . . . or, as he is not-so-affectionately called by his opponent in the freshman-class presidential election--no comment.
A few random bullet points about Jay:
  • He is stupidly in love with his best friend, cheerleading dynamo Cameo "Appearance" Parnell.
  • He is also trying to score (points) with earthbound tennis-playing goddess Caroline Richardson.
  • He is fighting a losing battle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • He rocks a touché array of pop-culture references, jokes, and puns.
  • His family life cookie is about to crumble.
Root for Jay as he exchanges ego-blows with his mortal enemy, gets awkward around his dream girl(s), loses his marbles in a Bermudian love triangle, watches his parents' relationship implode, and, finally, learns to keep it real and be himself(ish).

Does The Edumacation of Jay Baker interest you? Do you have a thing for Groban? Do you like cinnamon rolls or awkwardly funny guys? Well I have ONE (1) ARC of The Edumacation of Jay Baker to give to you lovely readers!

Fill out this FORM to enter!

In the words of the genius author, here is all his "shiz" links:

STALK HIM! :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Breathless (Reads) Blog Tour! Will I See You There?

Hi all!

Many of you probably know that the Breathless Reads authors will be going on a national tour this February. The Breathless authors are Marie Lu (author of Legend), Beth Revis (author of Across the Universe and A Million Sun), Andrea Cremer (author of the Nightshade series) and Jessica Spotswood (author of Born Wicked).



The stops:
Feb 15 - Naperville, IL
Feb 16 - Bethesda, MD
Feb 17 - New York, NY
Feb 18 - Collegville, PA
Feb 19 - Dolyestown, PA*
Feb 21 - Decatur, GA
Feb 22 - Houston, TX
Feb 23 - Frisco, TX
Feb 24 - Montrose, CA
Feb 25 - Long Beach, CA

I will be attending the Doylestown, PA stop! (Really hope I can make it.) It's on a Sunday afternoon/night. I have a 9 AM class the next day. I have two exams that week; I should probably spend that day studying, but this is an authors' event I can't pass up.

I know a couple of other PA/Philly area bloggers will be there so if you're coming, say hi! I don't bite! (I'm too sleep deprived for that lol). I'll be the girl studying from flashcards and powerpoint slides printouts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bittersweet


Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5
Published: January 3, 2012 Buy from Amazon
Source: unsolicited ARC from Simon Pulse

I freaking love cupcakes. I’m one of those cupcake eaters that eat the cake first then make my way to the top because I save the best for last—the frosting. Hudson Avery is the Queen of Cupcakes; she’s a gal that I’ll love to be an assistant to. Just pay me in cupcakes and I’ll be happy.
But Hudson’s life right now isn’t so great. Her skating dreams are over; her mom’s dream of owning a diner will tank unless a new review will put Hurley’s Homestyle Diner back on the map; her dad is living a new life that doesn’t include his daughter or son; and Hudson is trapped in little Watonka, New York.

Until, that is, Hudson gets the chance to compete in a skating competition for a $50,000 scholarship.
I’ve been following Sarah Ockler ever since her debut novel, Twenty Boy Summer, and I eagerly wait for what she has for the readers. Bittersweet, formally titled the language of impossible dreams, is what you would expect from Sarah Ockler: good read with characters you wouldn’t expect and a storyline that touches the heart. Yet, for me, there’s always something missing about her books that don’t make me hold the book to my chest, carry it around and shove it in other people’s faces yelling “Read this!”

Maybe it was the characters that I liked, but thought could have been stronger. It’s easy to be empathic to Hudson, but it’s harder to like her. Maybe it’s because you can see a lot of yourself in her and that stuff isn’t so good. Hudson would a difficult friend to have; she locks herself in and is prone to live her own little world. Bittersweet is Hudson’s journey to finding her happiness in life and that journey isn’t smooth.

Will and Josh, co-captains to the Watonka hockey team, are more likeable than Hudson. But Josh, the boy that the reader will definitely pine for is less developed than Will. Since Josh is the main love interest I was disappointed seeing him fade to the back whenever Will comes to the scene. Will is much more dynamic than Josh with a stronger background story and a multifaceted personality.

Then I wished the readers knew more about Dani and Kara. They seemed interesting, but I knew them as Hudon’s friend and former best friend than Dani and Kara.

But I absolutely adore—love!—Bug (Hudson’s baby brother). He’s part mad-scientist, part explorer, part adorable brother who helps around the house, part son-whose-never-really-known-his-father. Bug is the comic relief to Bittersweet and yet he’s fragile enough that you want to protect him from everything that’s bad.

Bittersweet is topsy turvy: I like parts of it so much and other parts I wished were stronger. One thing that I did forget to mention was the cupcake concoctions underneath each chapter heading. Brilliant and delicious.

Bittersweet is just that, bittersweet. The sweetest of the cupcakes and the tingly feelings from young love versus the bitterness of divorce and its crumbling effects.

Cover C+
I much prefer the old cover to the new one because a) Hudson bakes cupcakes, not cookies and b) hot chocolate is part of the story. Well there's also c) that doesn't look like a really good cookie I would eat.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Manga Monday: Houou Gakuen Misoragumi


Alternative Title: The Beautiful Skies of Houou High
Genre: Comedy, Shoujo, School Life

Art: 4.5 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Plot: 2.5 stars

Rating: Teen
Released By: DMP
Houou High is a famous and incredibly prestigious all-boys school. It's also the stomping grounds for the sons of the most well-renowned families from all walks of life, which gives rise to rumors that it holds a monopoly on money and power. Our protagonist, Kei Saeba, ends up enrolling in this veritable garden of blooming amateurs due to her mother's guile. Now she must pretend she's a boy for three years or she "will be erased"!
The person with the purple hair? That's Kei and she's a girl. She's scared of guys and earns the nickname "Barfing Prince" because she throws up when she's around too many.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rant: FanFiction

I'm first and foremost a reader.

Sometimes I'm a blogger (who writes poorly constructive sentences).

But never an author. Unless it's a 2-20 page essay on some random topic that teachers have assigned, my "creative" writing skills stops there.

So when my favorite show, book, movie, anime, or manga ends and I desperately want more, I turn to FanFiction (Unleash Your Imagination!!). Or I turn to FF when I love the characters or plot, but am not a big fan of what the original creators did with it. The MC dies in the end or the love interest goes away? Pffft. Not in FF land. In FF land anything goes...and goes and goes to places where they should not have gone.

I admit that I wrote a fanfic or two. It was horrible; I took it down like 2 days later.

Now FF is a dangerous landfill. You mostly have to sort through a lot of okay, blah, and what-the-hell reads. Basically a lot of shitty reads. I'm not being mean. Frankly the stuff I find there boggles my mind.

I'm not discouraging anyone from writing. If you're passionate and really enjoy writing, then be my guess. Just don't expect me to fall in love with your works. I commend the people who take the effort and publicly post their works. There are just some FFs that I question if they are serious and if I should take them seriously.

I hate trollers and I hate people who just bash, but if the writers don't care, then why should I?

Some fics are TYP3D LKE DIS and the characters go like OMG WTF HRYFBFASDINA!!!!!111! LOLMAFO. Please, please for the sake of the English language, stop writing like you're texting. Even then, if I can't read it there's no point in texting/writing. They need serious editing. Just like how novels need editors to catch the small mistake or point out some better ideas, FF writers need beta readers who can proofread. Your and you're are two different words. OMG WTF AFSAIFNASKDAD!!!11!! is not English.

Some fics blatantly plagiarize other works of fictions: FFs or published novels. For example I read a Twilight FF that copied from Thirteen Reasons Why: exact storyline and from what I've heard, exact passages from the book too.

Some fics, the writers take to the extreme. There are regular pairings like for example Edward and Bella from Twilight. Then there are "crack" pairings like Jane and Seth that doesn't even make sense. And I can't tell if the writer is trying to be different and new and challenging themselves or if they just don't realize how much of their fanfic doesn't work. At that point, it's no longer a fanfiction, but your own work with the same appearance and name.

Some fics are abandoned. Suddenly and without warning. It could be a fanfic that you actually really enjoyed and looked forward to its updates. But the writers have a life outside of FF and FF doesn't pay the bills. I get sad.

So once you cleaned away from the muck, there are a couple of gems in there. They're far and few, but they make the search so worth it. Great writing that immediately pulls you in, a set of characters that you love, and a fantastic storyline that is utterly thrilling and makes the heart race. These great FF gems are better than some of the published novels I read based on character development, storyline, and ending. Then I wonder why aren't they published.

And you know what? Some do publish their works. The great feedback from the readers can give a boost of confidence for the writer to consider publishing their work: indie pub, self-pub, or seek traditional pub.


Cassandra Clare, author of the Moral Instrument series and the Infernal Devices series, did fanfiction. Of course there's some scandel there. There's also RJ Anderson, author of Faery Rebel series and Ultraviolet who still has an active FF account. There's probably some more hidden YA and FF writers out there ;)

Before starting your adventure in fanfiction, here's a nice glossary with the terminology in the FF world to help along. There's enough abbreviations to make a whole new language.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Thorn and the Blossom


The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story by Theodora Goss
Grade: 3.8 stars out of 5
Published: January 17, 2012 Buy from Amazon
Source: Quirk Books
When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself . . .
The Thorn and the Blossom is a very short love story so my review won’t be as long as it normally would be (close to 600 words).

The first thing you’ll notice about The Thorn and the Blossom is the way the book is printed. Like an accordion. Like a really cool accordion that doesn’t make music, but rather gives you a nice story to read. I freaked out a bit when I first got it and played with the book for 5 minutes or so. Warning: don’t read book while moving or in a moving vehicle. The book kept falling out my books and the pages were falling everywhere unless I had a death grip connecting the ends together.

taken from author's blog
With the story itself I was a bit let down. It was a bit rushed for my liking and the ending felt…unfinished. If Goss had shown us rather than told us the emotions that went through Evelyn and Brendan, I could have connected better to The Thorn and the Blossom. Then again I wonder how the increase in size will impact the binding of the story. Who knows, it might just collapse or fall apart when the reader opens the first page.

The Thorn and the Blossom packs quite a lot in very little. I read Brendan’s story first followed by Evelyn.  I have to admit that the experience, which I feared would be tiring and redundant, was quite charming, new, and fascinating the second time you read it from a different POV. Those subtle nuances that were dismissed earlier or assumed to be something else, becomes more important than you first believed.

The tale of Green Knight (or Man) and the Queen was hinted just enough for the reader to keep it in the back of their thoughts while still letting the characters be themselves. Rather than Brendan being the Green Knight, Brendan is Brendan. The comparison between the two cursed lovers was laced throughout the rest the novel almost seamlessly.

Evelyn’s story is magical (mixed with an odd psychoanalysis/mental illness explanation) while Brendan’s story is saddening (he has really back luck with girls and people close to him). Together it’s a beautiful haunting tragedy that just may have that happily ever after in the end. The two characters show how to move past a love if it doesn’t work out, but there’s still the possibility of coming back.

Cover B+

P.S. Apparently if you remove the sticker/book synopsis from the back of the slip, there's a picture of the Green Man. So I carefully removed the sticker and it was not worth it. It's just his face and it's about the size of my thumb nail.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer Giveaway!

Marissa Meyer's first book in the The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, just came out and word on the street is that it's really good.

"Even in the future, the story begins with Once Upon a Time…. 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."










And thanks to Zeitghost Media I have 1 copy to give away to you lovely readers! Just fill out the rafflecopter form below with the appropriate information.

Also the "leave a comment" entry asks (just in case the form is being wonky) "What's your favorite fairy tale or retelling of a fairy tale."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 16, 2012

Manga Monday: Trigun

Trigun by Yasuhiro Nightow

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-fi, Shounen, Comedy
Art: 5 stars for the anime / 4 stars for the manga
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Rated: Teens+ or 15+ for violence and alcohol

Vash the Stampede is a wanted man with the habit of turning entire towns into rubble. The price on his head is a fortune, and his path of destruction reaches across the arid wastelands of a desert planet. Unfortunately, most encounters with the spiky-haired gunslinger don't end well for the bounty hunters who catch up with him; someone always gets hurt - and it's never Vash. Oddly enough, for such an infamous fugitive, there's no proof that he's ever taken a life. In fact, he's a pacifist with a doughnut obsession who's more doofus than desperado. There's a whole lot more to him than his reputation lets on - Vash the Stampede definitely ain't your typical outlaw.
Trigun discusses religion, morality, pacifism. It's full of irony. And please please watch the subbed version, not dubbed, if planning to watch the anime.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rant: Paranormal Teen Books

My favorite genre was paranormal fantasies. Now I'm not so sure. Do you know why?

First I'm going to point to this review on GoodReads. And yes, I do know about the drama and the hoopla surrounding the review and the author. I do have the book, got it before the drama, and am I tempted to the read the book even now? Yes because the review is hilarious and no because I'm not a huge fan of the author.

Now that you read the review, let me ask you this question. Has the last PNR book you've read or saw reminded you of another PNR book? Because it happens to me all the time. All the freaking time.

So I'm going to tell a short little story that sparked this post.

A few days ago, some friends and I went to Barnes and Noble because we were near the general area and they know about my love for books. A friend wanted to know my opinion about this book so I asked for more details since she couldn't remember the title:
"What was it about?"
"Something to do with the paranormal."
"What did the cover look like?" (because I'm addicted to covers.)
"It had a girl on it. She was wearing a dress."
"Anything else?"
"I know it's by a female author and the book is a series*. Trilogy maybe?"
"That about narrows it down to every paranormal teen book I can think of."
And because I love book covers (hence the name of my blog), I ALWAYS judge a book by its cover. It's what initially draws me to the book. I know my YA book covers (at least the ones published after 2009) so I thought if my friend could tell me about the cover, I'd get it immediately. Nowadays, 90%** of the PNR covers are the same. Pretty girl in really pretty dress***:



What do they have to do with the actual book? 95%** of the time, NOTHING. Out of the 9 books, I read 3: After Obsession, Fury, and Always a Witch. The cover for Fury relates to the actual novel. But After Obsession and Always a Witch? If you squint really hard and tilt your head a bit and skim through the book, you might find a connection.

In Everneath, does the girl wear a frilly red dress while walking on smoke? In Endlessly, does she wear a purple dress and is in a scene where she overlooks a sea of purple flowers? In A Beautiful Dark...I don't even know what she's doing. Sacrificing herself? Chances are the answers to the questions are no. Are they gorgeous covers? Definitely, but they're irreverent to the story so why is it even there.

Without reading the synopsis I would have no clue what the book is about. Before the onslaught of pretty girls in pretty dress covers, I would have stopped and picked the book up. Now, I don't have the urge.

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez


Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez


Grade: 3.5 out of 5
Carmen Bianchi is a 17 year old accomplished violinist who’s dream is to win the Guarneri competition. There are only two main obstacles in her way—her nerves and her male British counterpart Jeremy King. The first obstacle is easily taken care since she takes Inderal to calm herself before performances. But Jeremy is an entirely different story. He’s just as competitive as Carmen, and extremely attractive. When he starts to flirt with her, Carmen is entirely caught off guard. In this novel of teenage rebellion, Carmen begins to question her own skills, her potential love’s motives, and even her mother’s intentions in an attempt to make sense of what it means to love music.
Let me take this opportunity to mention that I’ve been playing piano for 15 years. The first ten or so, I played classical music almost exclusively, and I did a couple concerts. I also played for my high school’s talent show one year. But there’s a reason why I play in public so little; I get incredibly nervous. Even with one person in the room with me, my fingers and rhythm fall apart. So I believe I understand PERFECTLY how Carmen feels when she plays for audiences without Inderal.

Carmen is a brilliant violinist but it’s rather hard to hear the music Carmen plays in the novel, and because music should be a big part of her life, she’s hard to understand. But I did appreciate the growing that Carmen did that shows she is more than just a violinist:
  • She decided not to take pills even though her mother insisted.
  • She made her own choices instead of just listening to her mother.
  • She snuck out with her pseudo-boyfriend.
  • She made quasi-educated conclusions about God and religion.
It justifies the ending, so even though I didn’t exactly like the ending, it wasn’t completely out of the blue.

However, her fights with her mother were hard to believe; she never fought with her mother before, and then when her mother says something reasonable that Carmen doesn’t like, Carmen takes that opportunity to start ignoring her mother for the first time in 17 years. Distrust almost overnight? It just feels too sudden.

I also didn’t like the romantic plot. This homeschooled, romantically-naïve girl meets Jeremy King for the first time, he’s rude to her, and then she agrees to go out to dinner with him. Does that make sense? Does anyone else stay out until 1am with a foreigner without telling anyone where your whereabouts? It sounds dangerous to me, but maybe it’s because I’ve never been the adventurous type. Jeremy’s just a tad bit too perfect too. He’s tall, blonde, blue eyed, etc. He’s one of those love interests that automatically falls in love with the main character and when his true side comes out he says standard lines like “I didn’t say anything I didn’t feel.” I wanted a bit more aggression instead of this sappy apologetic guy. It was incredibly human of him to want to win the competition for his disabled brother, and I didn’t want him to almost immediately renege on it. It was one of those statements that blur the lines between right and wrong. It was an exciting complication, but then it just dissolves. *sadface*

I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars, so I just decided to give it 3 and a half. The writing style didn’t make me cringe and it’s a quick read (took me 2 days and I’m a turtle), but the novel is missing something, and it has something to do with the characters personalities.

The cover is gorgeous, even though it’s missing a violin. Heheh

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Don't Expect Magic

Don't Expect Magic by Kathy McMullough
Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5
Publication: November 8,  2011 Buy from Amazon
Source: unsolicited review copy from Delacorte Press
Follow Kathy of Twitter @kathymccullough
According the law of conversation of mass, matter cannot be created or destroyed. So how would you transform your ratty PJs for a slinky red dress? Through physics and chemistry…and you know, a handy fairy godmother to make it all happen. What if you don’t what to be a fairy godmother? Tough cookies, you really have no choice.

That’s where Delany is right now. Apparently her no-good dad, Dr. Hank, is a fairy godmother (who ever said f.g. has to girls?) and the gene is hereditary. 
Delany is far from what you would expect from stereotypical fairy godmothers. First off, she’s not really a people person. Her homemade kick-ass boot garners praise, but her attitude isn’t the most inviting. A bit rude, a little pretentious and definitely not bubblegum pink nice, Delany has trouble fitting in to her new school and her life ever since her mom passed away and she’s shipped off to her dad. She’s not well liked by her peers, teachers, and me, the reader. Her actions and personality gives off a bad vibe like she’s better than everybody. If a person is genuinely nice to you on the first day of class and she’s pretty popular, be on your toes because that person is obviously ought to get you. Should my hair stand up and the claws start jutting out if someone smiles at me or says hi?

Since Don’t Expect Magic incorporates some science facts to help explain the supernatural, which by the way was a very nice touch and was well-thought out and something I definitely appreciate in a fantasy book, I’m going to bring in Darwin—survival of the fittest yadda yadda yadda. If I was Delany’s guardian spirit, I’d slap her and tell her to adapt and deal with it. Why make an enemy out of everyone? Assess the new environment, adapt to the new environment, and survive in the new environment. Or else you’re going to die. Or fail high school.

Things are touch and go for most of the book. I admit that it was hard to read through it, but once Delany’s personality approved, Don’t Expect Magic became a lot better for me. We start to get more of the fairy godmother business (again, something that I really appreciate in this type of story), further development of the father-daughter relationship, more humor and fun, and a stronger multidimensional main character.

The character of Dr. Hank, I felt, was ironic. Here was a man doing motivational books and speeches telling people how they should live their lives when he could barely live his own life. I quite enjoyed his character because of the way it changes throughout the whole book. He’s much nicer than Delany and you can feel the charisma from the pages making him more approachable.  The connection he has with Delany as a parent was a great emotional aspect to the book.

While the romantic interest in the novel seems more like a good friend, I could see potential. I wished, however, I knew more about him and that Delany and he had more dynamic conversations. I’m not entirely comfortable with where they came from and how they end up, but I can see it happening.

Don’t Expect Magic has a good moral: to never hide yourself in fear of what others think. It’s a debut that definitely shows promise of what Kathy McCullough is capable. Don’t Expect Magic has a unique story plot, a solid foundation, and a budding group of characters that just needs a few tweaks.

Cover B
I wished we could see more of the boots. The beach, while it may seem strange on the cover, does play a role in the story.

P.S. I now have threaded comments! :D

Monday, January 9, 2012

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (Audiobook Review)

Triangles: A Novel by Ellen Hopkins
Narrated by: January LaVoy, Jan Maxwell, Janel Moloney, Michele Pawk
Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5
Length of Production (Unabridged):  8 hours and 14 minutes
Published: Simon and Schuster Audio in 2011
Source: Simon and Schuster Audio

This (audio)book is for mature readers! I will try to keep this PG-13, but things that I do think might offend somebody will be hidden(ish). 

A triangle is a three-sided polygon. There’s obtuse, acute, and, ever so perfect, equilateral triangle. My geometry teacher would be so proud knowing that I remember that. Triangles, however, is a novel about 3 women dealing with life’s hiccups (or in this case, backhanded slaps). All 3 women are connected by blood and by friendship. 
Holly: tied down in her own home; she wants to escape.
Andrea: looking for a relationship like what Holly has with her husband, Jace.
Marissa: dealing a terminally ill daughter, a rebellious gay son, and a husband that’s never home (and continuously hitting up that alcohol).
Having never read any of Hopkins work, but heard the great praise I was eager to start Triangles. As I hit midway through the story I realize maybe it wasn’t for the best that Triangles was my first Hopkins novel.

First off with the audiobook you lose her style of writing. Her verse prose comes across as regular paragraph writing. I’ve read sections of Triangles (from the physical book) and when it’s laid out it has more life. There are mini-breaks in-between chapters, which has two poems in one: one where you can read left to right from up to down; and there’s this single phrase from the title straight down on the left-hand side that is beautiful. With the audiobook you can’t experience the different ways how Hopkins chose to write Triangles  you can’t see the creativity and the work that was put in. You can only listen.

Secondly, with the voice narration I had trouble finding a definite distinction between Marissa and Holly. I went by context as to who was who rather than just listening and immediately knowing. With Andrea’s narrator, she didn’t change her tone often enough for me. She sounded indifferent and slightly exasperated (with a whiny pitch) throughout most of the CDs and by the words coming out her mouth, I expected something else. The narration for the inbetween sections that try to connect the different character chapters (but it’s not really needed) I thought was the best. It gave me the right tone with a loud voice.

Overall I didn’t have much trouble with the audiobook. Every word came out crystal clear, no static, no murmuring.

My third problem with Triangles was the characters. Will you find these girls and guys in real life? Probably. Will you want to immediately punch most of them in the face once they tell you their story? I would.

Holly is my least favorite character out of all 3. In fact she’s the only character whom I really hated. Let’s play pretend:

If you and your partner were having issues in the bed since nothing is doing it for you, would you:
  1. communicate and try to spice things up
  2. you know what you like so just finish it off by yourself, hint hint
  3. start writing erotica, join a critique group, have sex with 2 of the 4 (5?) people in your critique group. Eventually end up having a foursome with your NOT husband in public. <--small spoiler so highlight to read.
If you say 3, congratulations you are a Holly and you officially suck. (And by suck I mean that in the most nonsexual connotation.)

But seriously it’s like me doing badly on an exam. Instead of getting a tutor or talking to the teacher for help, I run away from home and join a circus for the rest of my life. Jumping the gun aren’t we?

Holly’s sections are the most sexually explicit scenes. She has sexapades and experimentations that are not made from public reading (or listening), which is why I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone under the age of 18. (Even then I wonder how young are the kids when they are mature to read about sex. It seems as though there’s plenty of teenage pregnancies.) Here’s a snippet of what I’m talking about: (sexual, so highlight to read)
‘“Now that you’re wet, I’m going to do something I’ve always wanted to.” He slips one finger inside me. Two. Three. At four, the pressure becomes terrific. But when I squirm, he gives my arms a warning tug. “No. Hold still.”


 I do and he works his entire hand into that narrow place. And, over the flashing silver pain, I shudder orgasm. “That’s my girl.”’
Holly was the most difficult to like because quite frankly I just wanted to hit her. Did she try to communicate to anyone? No. Hardly anyone in Triangles tried to talk to other people to help with their problems and eventually it became this giant ball of yarn: entangled and never-ending. Victims do not have to stay as victims. Am I encouraging people to who have been cheated on to have revenge sex with someone else? Of course not, but there other ways to get your point across.

I found Holly to be one-dimensional. She is this 'itch whose actions reflect that. Sure there are one and two scenes with her children, but it's far and few with nothing fleshed out as if it's a passerby comment.

Andrea and Marissa are not the strongest characters I’ve come across. Andrea has an unfortunate string of bad luck with men, but her life isn’t disastrously horrible. For me, it was Marissa’s story that stole the limelight. It was powerful, raw, and something you worry about in the future. Shelby is the angel in her eye, but at age 4 she doesn’t have much longer to live. It’s tragic. Your emotions cannot help but pour out. On top of that, she’s dealing with a teenage gay son whose father isn’t the most accepting of his sexual preference. And he’s doing drugs. 

And a character was raped. And someone is HIV positive. And there’s a teenage pregnancy. And there are abandonment issues. And cheating. There are lots and lots of cheating with emotional and physical acts of adultery. (Revenge cheating definitely makes everything so much better.)

My fourth reason why I wasn’t a huge fan of the book: Ellen Hopkins shoves too many problems in a not-so-tiny book. Really, let’s stick a son/daughter who’s a solider in the war against Afghanistan then we’ll have everything. Eventually you wonder if this is the most ill-fortuned group of people you’ve ever read in a book. (Answer: It’s pretty darn close.) I understand that Hopkins is leading the charge of writing books outside of the comfort zone, but there is a limit. No need to hit the reader with a mallet to get your point across—life sucks, deal with it. I get it. A girl can get lost and frustrated with a book like this.

Jerry! Jerry!
The ending did nothing for me. Three of the couples needed marriage counseling or just break up. But they most likely won’t. Because no one really talks in this book. The person who Andrea ends up with came from nowhere.

Let’s end this review in a positive note. Triangles is filled with flawed characters who would make a dynamic episode of Jerry Springer. There’s enough heart wrenching scenes to make me think about my own life and what is means and what could happen. It’s a powerful tale, just not one I will be reading again.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Trailers Galore

Marissa Meyer's first book in the The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, just came out and word on the street is that it's really good.
Even in the future, the story begins with Once Upon a Time…. 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.







Tour Stops! Do you live near one of these cities?
January 9: Twitter and Facebook!!
Virtual Cinder Launch Party, being hosted with Figment Fiction
Facebook/ Twitter party at 7:00 EST

January 11: Salt Lake City, UT
The King's English Bookshop
7:00 p.m.

January 12: Provo, UT
Provo City Library
7:00 p.m.

January 23: Naperville, IL
Anderson's Bookshop
7:00 p.m.
Note: Megan Miranda, author of FRACTURE, will also be at this event!

January 24: Petaluma, CA
Copperfield's Books
3:00 p.m

January 26: San Francisco, CA
Books Inc. “Not Your Mother’s Book Club” at Opera Plaza
7:00 p.m.
Note: Megan Miranda (FRACTURE) and Daisy Whitney (THE RIVALS) will also be at this event!

January 27: Portland, OR
Powell's Books
7:00 p.m.
Note: Megan Miranda, author of FRACTURE, will also be at this event!

February 10-14: Vancouver and Victoria, BC, Canada
Details TBD

February 25: Long Beach, CA
Passion and Prose Convention

April 14: Houston, TX
TeenBookCon



Then we have Megan Crewe's The Way We Fall! The Way We Fall is coming out this month, January, on the 24th so get those preorders in! Or you can stop by Megan's blog to win a copy.
When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again.  But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike.  As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island's dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Because how will she go on if there isn't?



Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 in a Nutshell with Books






The Best:
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor




The Ones that I REALLY Liked:
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
From Bad to Cursed (Bad Girls Don't Die #2) by Katie Alender
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
Legend by Marie Lu
Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes





The Disappointed:
After Obsession by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Fury (Fury #1) by Elizabeth Miles
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Royally Jacked (Royally Crushed #1) by Niki Burnham
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

no covers, just a frowny face


The What the Eff Did I Just Read:
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
Fallen Angels by Heather Terrell
Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breese
Daodejing by Laozi
Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year, New(ish) Changes


Hello all! It's rather late now since it's already been a few days into the new year, but better late than never.

2011 marked the year where real life started to conflict with blogging. Books by Their Cover, for much more than I had hoped, was inactive. Reviews were hazardously posted, and there were long periods of dead silence. I fear that it is only getting to get as the months go by. How can you tell?

2009: 509 posts and 262 books read
2010: 319 posts and 207 books read
2011: 130 posts and 132 books read
A definite decline.

So much time and work was invested in this blog that I refuse to call it quits just yet. In an effect to maintain this blog, I enlisted the help of Fallon. You've probably been noticing a couple of her reviews popping. But expect more changes. What kind of changes?
  • Well for starters I decided to clean up the layout a bit. I was tired of the dull tan so I decided to it more red/orange.
    • If someone has trouble reading the new posts and box quotes fonts, let me know please.
  • Expect more audiobook reviews. I spend a great amount of time just traveling in and out of school, walking across campus, to and fro work, etc. Since walking and reading isn't exactly the safest and most efficient way to travel, I'm opting to listen to books.
  • Expect a monthly contest. I used to do this little feature called Books by its Cover every month where I post a little poem about a cover and I ask readers to try to guess what I'm talking about it. Each correct answer will put your name in a virtual hat for that month's prize. Well, it's going to something like that, but not. Instead Books by its Cover will be a monthly contest (still) where readers try to guess a book cover (just like before). Here's where it's going to change: rather than poems (because frankly I suck at them) I will post a little portion of the actual cover/page and you readers will guess the book from the little portion. I'll mix it up with passages, symbols, key phrases from the book (which was inspired by Audrey). More on that later in a separate post
  • Expect RANDOM giveaways for those who leave comments and people who follow my blog.
  • My reviews will be a bit different this year. I used to be spunky and snarky when I first started reviewing. Then I decided to be more "professional". Yeah, that's going to be gone. I'm going to try to be more me meaning there will be more cuss words (nothing excessive, but if I feel like there's a need for it), and more sarcasm (hopefully it'll come across the screen).
  • And whatever else I feel needs to be changed. These changes will not come nowhere I promise you that.
  • Carol (from Booklover-Carol) will be joining Books by Their Cover too :)

Prize List

Books Read in 2012


  1. The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols
  2. The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Catherine Hapka

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wildefire


Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Grade: 5 stars out of 5
"Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm."

WHEN IS THE NEXT ONE COMING OUT?

I am SO excited to review this book, I couldn’t spend my entire time trying to write a fair summary, so instead I borrowed from Goodreads. SORRY!

Anyway, yes, as soon as I was finished with the last words on the last page, I REALLY NEEDED TO READ THE NEXT ONE. I’m sad I have to wait now.

So I give this a 5 for a variety of reasons. I really liked the style writing. It was in third person, which I believe is hard to do. One has to reflect on not just the main character, but everyone else, and still keep all the characters separate. Ash was important, but so were the others, and you get a taste of what each one is feeling, from Lily’s heartbreak to Eve’s feeling of loneliness. I thought the Interludes were clever elements in the plot, where you could see the world from others’ eyes, not just Ashline’s. I liked the names (love Ade Saint-Cyr), characteristics, and flaws of the characters. All the gods show their teenaged side; Rolfe could be a dick at times, and Lily takes rejection about as well as I do.

Bonus points were given for the multicultural characters (Polynesian Jews, Haitians, and Hopi Indians in one story?! Mind-blown!), mentioning Philadelphia, and not having a completely happy ending. I like a good resolution, but not in the first book of a trilogy. Definitely gives me something to look forward to.

This novel is a great example of an original read. Ash might have quick wit, but she wasn’t the strongest of all the gods in the pantheon, as one might expect. Ash’s and Eve’s relationship was complicated to the extreme. There’s a lack of traditional love triangles. This would remind me of Vampire Academy or Poison Study, but it doesn’t. Not completely. Wildefire is in a class all its own and if Knight keeps doing his thing, I’m sure it’s going to be one of my favorite series.

CymLowell