Sunday, September 14, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 8/31 - 9/13

Daisy's Book Haul

Because I have to get up today at (what feels like) the crack of dawn to leave for my mom's to celebrate her birthday, I'm leaving you with this picture and am failing to include the links and all my feels because I just don't have the time. (Well, except for a shout out to Heir of Fire because I LOVED IT!!! SO MANY FEELINGS! Review has gone up on my personal blog already) (It's more fangirling than a review to be honest)

This book haul was brought to you by my wallet and Debby who is a good friend and handed me Mortal Danger after she read it herself :)

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How September 11th affected books

I was in the middle of another review when I realized what day this review would be posted on. September 11th. Anywhere you go there are reminders. Online. Newspapers. Fliers in the mail. That got me thinking, what else has been affected? I sat looking at my book shelves for a while, then I realized how much even books have changed. The first example that came to mind was one of my favorite book series, “So You Want To Be A Wizard”. The series recently was updated and republished. (The first book was published over 20 years ago, but only a few years pass from the first book to the most recent). In the original version the main character is on a train in NYC and makes a comment about the World Trade Center, and how many people are in the building and in Manhattan itself. In the new version she instead comments on the hole in the New York skyline.

Other books that have been published since that take place in NYC take more time to mention Ground Zero. Depending on when it was written it'll talk about the clean up, others talk about the construction of the new World Trade Center.

Of course the other change is that of the reader. It's always something of a shock when you come across a book that casually mentions the twin towers, you remember again what is missing.

What about you? Have you noticed changes in books you've read? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Julia Reviews Evernight by Kristen Callihan

Title/Author: Evernight by Kristen Callihan
Publisher/Year Published: August 2014 by Forever
How I got this book: I was provided with a Netgalley book in return for an honest review
Why I read this book: I really love this series. 
Rating: 5 stars

The Darkest London series is one of my favorite series out there. It’s got everything: steampunk, romance, paranormal, an overarching plot, and characters that practically leap off the page and into my imagination. The latest book in this series, Evernight, is no exception.

Evernight picks up a year after the events of Shadowdance. Our lead characters, Holly Evernight and William Thorne, both had things happen to them in Shadowdance that effect their actions in the book greatly. So that said, I wouldn’t recommend jumping into this series with this book. And since I love this series so much and want people to read it without being spoiled, I am going to be vague about the particulars. So let's just take a peek at the characters.

First we have Holly, the intelligent inventor working with the supernatural agency in London. She creates some wickedly awesome inventions. We've seen her pop up in the series before, notably in the last book where she was forced to use her mechanical brain for evil. That whole ordeal has affected her and it carries over into this book in what I think is a realistic portal of how someone could react to traumatic events. She is very literal and speaks her mind without a second thought, a good a bad thing. She meets up with William Thorne when he tries to kill her.

Thorne is a demon known for their savoring of lust and life (and blood). He is the complete opposite of Holly: very devil-may-care, sarcastic and has worked for the enemy. They are stuck together because his heart is metal and causing an adverse reaction with the rest of his body. Holly can control metal and thus can help him keep things under control. She reluctantly pairs up with him so he can help figure out who is trying to kill her. It's a mutual trade that turns into something more.

They mix just as well as oil and water, and it is entirely believable and awesome. I love opposites attract stories. The plot is super interesting and expands on the story that is currently unfolding with this series. But like I said I don’t want to talk too much about that. Take it from me. If you are reading this series, the story just sucks you in and picks you up right where you left off with it.

One thing that I think Ms. Callihan does well is keeping her characters consistent. Frequently in series that I read, secondary characters become the heroes in their own stories. I've seen it happen so many times where a lovable secondary character that you are super excited is getting their own book, completely changes characterization when becoming the hero or heroine. It annoys the hell out of me. This series does not do this at all. Everything is consistent and I love it! The character's are still the ones you know and love (or hate) but you just get to see more of them and more of why they are the way they are. You don't backtrack on their characterization either. Things build. In my mind, this is what marks this as a great series. The characters just blossom in my mind.

One downside though is keeping track of the overall plot across books as well as of the supernaturals, their powers, who runs them, etc. It gets a little frustrating at times when I can’t remember something that I know I've read somewhere. It’d be nice if there was an online reference or something to just boost my memory.

Overall though, I really like this series, and Evernight is a wonderful continuation. It doesn't stand alone though so I would recommend starting at the beginning instead (or maybe at least reading Winterblaze and Shadowdance). The characters are wonderful, their chemistry is amazing and hot, and it’s a book that is easy to lose yourself in.

I've reviewed this whole series: Firelight, Moonglow, Winterblaze, and Shadowdance

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Ten Underrated Contemporary YA Books

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

I (Jamie) consider myself to be pretty decently well read in the contemporary YA genre and I wanted to talk about some books that I think are SUPER underrated in the genre!

1. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson: OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK. Slim little thing but I SOBBED my eyes out. I raved about it like crazy after I finished because WHY HAVE MORE PEOPLE NOT READ IT?!

2. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian: This is a book I want every teenage girl to read -- it discusses sexuality and slut-shaming and I just really saw a lot of my high school experience in this book in terms of trying to reconcile "what kind of girl I am" and what that REALLY means.

3. Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert: This book is SO under the radar! Very gritty and raw! Set near Chicago, a girl who left her hometown and never came back is actually back and she has to confront the memories of her teen years which were filled with rock music and drugs.

4. I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg-Sloan: This book was beautiful and heartbreaking and so, so cinematic. It makes me sad it isn't more well known!

5. What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton: This book tells the story about a girl and the aftermath of a rape. Resilience and emotion just pour out of these pages!

6. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: This one is super popular in the book blogging world but I am so surprised that it's not more popular outside of this space!! Good beach read with emotional depth.

7. How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford: GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It's quirky and definitely different but OH MY LORD MY EMOTIONS.

8. When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney: I feel like this book got lost in the shuffle or something. Daisy Whitney really wrote a beautiful book here!

9. Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez: I was drawn to this book because of the cover to be honest but it ended up being an AWESOME book that didn't get nearly enough attention when it was published!

10. Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian: That title caught your attention yeah? It did mine plus some rave reviews. I really liked this book -- very character driven and very, very underrated!

What are some underrated books in the contemporary YA genre that you think I would like?? Have you read any of these?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tahleen reviews: "The Queen of the Tearling" by Erika Johansen, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: HarperCollins Audio and Blackstone Audio, 2014 (print available from Harper)
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren

Rating: 4.5 stars

Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, the 19-year-old heir to the Tearling throne, has been in hiding since she was one year old. Raised by an older couple with the knowledge that she would one day rule her kingdom, the time has come for her to return to the castle and take her place as queen. Though, of course, this will not be an easy task. Many want her dead, including her uncle the regent; Arlen Thorne, a man with many tricks up his sleeve; and the dreaded Red Queen of Mortmesne, who kills and orders death easily and without qualm, and has brought terror across the kingdoms. With her devoted Queen's Guard led by Lazarus by her side, Kelsea must survive long enough to lift the Tearling from the brink of ruin.

First, let me say that I was not expecting this book to be so excellent. Kelsea is a formidable heroine, and though young and a bit naive in politics, she has a remarkable mind and is a born leader. The intrigue, action, and politics that make up the plot are all very well paced, and the shifting of perspective (all in third person, each perspective giving us insight into one of a handful of characters' thoughts) allows the readers to see what is happening around the kingdom and gives insight into what we might expect Kelsea to encounter.

I think what surprised me most was Johansen's world itself. I was fascinated. The book starts out sounding like a typical high fantasy set in a medieval world, but as the story progresses, there are more and more clues as to what this world truly is. Not a fantasy, but a science fiction novel. A dystopia. Something has happened called the Crossing, and once the old world crossed over to this new world, everything collapsed. Hints of the world as we know it pop up now and then, and I kept trying to glean more and more information. Johansen is not forthcoming with the history of how the Tearling, Mortmesne, and the other surrounding countries came to be. I am very much looking forward to the next installment so I can get some of this information!

(As a quick note, this is not a teen novel—there are some very disturbing scenes, and a lot of sexual situations. That's not to say a mature teen couldn't handle it, but I wanted to make that distinction as I normally review teen lit.)

I listened to The Queen of the Tearling on audio, and Katherine Kellgren is, as always, a master of her craft. If you've never listened to her before, trust me, she is one of, if not the, best.

I am eager to hear about the movie that is supposedly going to be made, especially casting. It seems like it might be a book that lends itself to a movie version; I hope the producers do it justice.

Disclosure: I got this audiobook from my local library.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

I read for a variety of reasons.  Occasionally, one of those reasons is "to be anywhere but here."  Usually that "here" is some event that I do not want to be at.  Lately, that "here" has been sitting with a beloved, ailing relative.  (I want to be there for my family, of course, but I am sure everyone would agree that it is not a desirable situation to be in)

My normal impulse with reading is to pick up a nice, chunky novel.  I love to disappear into a new world and learn about new things, experience new things, and get new perspectives on life.  I love immersing myself and not coming up to breathe for hours.  Unfortunately this type of reading is not conducive to sitting in a medical facility of one type or another.  So I have to be able to dive in and come up for air pretty regularly.

It took me a disappointing amount of time to realize this.  Several weeks I spent not reading.  I would stare wistfully at the lovely novel in my bag, wishing for a spare hour, even, to dive in.  Alas, no!

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered the trick.  Essays are good.  I was very surprised at how quickly I was able to read An Everlasting Meal.  Novellas are also good--all the taste, half the calories--I was able to devour a re-reading of Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Non-fiction seems promising, though I haven't tested this theory.

Here are a few of the books I've been reading:

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett  I love this collection!  At least, what I've read of it.  Patchett's collection includes a variety of topics--writing, houses, pets, and others.  This collection of essays makes me want to try out Patchett's novels.  I've bought a couple, but I haven't had time to dive in yet.  I totally love her essay on her writing career, which covers how she got started, how she made ends meet, and how she finally got her big break.  It was very inspiring and eye-opening.  I need to go back and do a closer reading of it so I can learn and make my own path.

The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron  I've only read part of this one.  This is a wonderful collection of Ephron's writing--pieces on journalism, feminism, portraits of celebrities, a screenplay, and one of her novels.  Her pieces on journalism are absolutely fantastic.  She lived such a wonderful life.  She saw a lot of interesting things and wrote some fascinating pieces.  I am really excited to read the wide variety of pieces, including the novel--though I probably won't read that terribly soon.  It is a really large volume that won't fit into all of my purses, so I can't always bring this one with me.

The Break of Day by Colette  I haven't started reading this one yet.  It's in my purse to start today.  Apparently, this book is very lyrical.  More vignettes and thoughts, though the volume is classified as a novel.  But I am really excited to see what it holds.  Colette is one of those writers whom I know I will love once I really get into their work.  She was truly revolutionary for her time.

I may try some short stories the next time I run home.  I am not typically good with short stories, but maybe the right collection will do the trick.  I'm thinking the short stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  (Or maybe his collection of novellas)

I'm also going to take the plunge and try a biography.  Those have the magic quality of being easy to get into and out of because you don't have to remember a plot or characters.  But of course you have to find the right subject.  An online acquaintance and I recently discussed reading Secrets of the Flesh, a biography of Colette, in the near future.  I am looking forward to it!

What do you read when you are short on time?  I'd love some suggestions!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top Ten Characters Who Would Have Sat At Jamie's Lunch Table In High School

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

A while ago on my blog I introduced you to YA Jamie -- in all of her awkward glory! One of the things we talked about was my high school social status so to speak. I was the girl who was kind of friends with everyone. I didn't really have a GROUP and I kind of just talked to mostly everyone. Honestly most of my closest friends weren't in my class at school. I was kind of a little more quiet in general but still pretty friendly and would talk your ear off when I felt comfortable around you. Despite kind of being friends with a lot of different people, I definitely had one group I sat with at lunch. It was a group of girls and guys who were a lot like me (it's kind of funny because outside of school all my best friends were guys and in college it was pretty much ALL guys I was friends with..but DURING school I really did try to fit in with the girls). They were kind of friends with a lot of people. They weren't identified as "the popular ones" but were often times friends with that group. Some of them were quiet and some of them were outgoing and we were just a good mix of different personalities and interests.

I always talk about the guys in YA that I love so I'm just going to focus on the ladies who would have totally fit in at my lunch table!

1. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: She is funny and friendly and just a really down-to-earth girl! Every time I read this book I'm more convinced we would have been best friends!

2. Amy from Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: There's just something about Amy as the novel progressed that have always made me really feel like I KNOW her. She would have definitely fit in at my lunch table from what I can tell!

4. Allyson from Just One Day by Gayle Forman: I think Allyson was me. I'm not sure. Just something about her just makes me know we would have gravitated to the same lunch table.

5. Parker from Golden by Jessi Kirby: Our table didn't include the valedictorian but we definitely had a good mix of smart ladies at the table. The Parker that comes out in the novel is the Parker who would have sat at my lunch table. She had that spark in her but she was always too afraid to take risks. Especially looking back now, I see a lot of those girls who I was friends with were holding back in high school. Not taking risks to be who they were. I WAS THAT GIRL. Sometimes I still AM that girl.

6. Cricket from Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: Well, I played lacrosse in high school (wasn't that good) and a few of the lacrosse girls did sit at my table so she would have probably fit right in!

7. Frankie from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: I think my table would have totally been down with her stick it to the man attitude and, with a little persuading, would have pulled off an epic prank with her.

8. Audrey from Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway: Audrey and I, man. We would have had good times. Watching the way she dealt with becoming the object of a popular song made me know we would have good friends. Plus we kind of cursed like sailors so she'd fit right in.

9. Natalie from Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian: I think a lot of the girls at my lunch table could have identified with Natalie from what I remember of our talks about sex and such. We all pretty "good reputations" and we kind of judged "those girls." But, like Natalie, I think we were all trying to figure out the sexuality thing. I remember some of the girls were starting to casually have sex and the rest of us were all wide-eyed like WHAT NOT READY I DON'T THINK.

10. Jessica Darling from The Jessica Darling series: I would have MADE her sit at my lunch table, okay. I don't care if she didn't fit in or WANT to sit with my dream land she WOULD.

So tell me...which characters would have sat at YOUR lunch table?

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