Monday, April 30, 2012

Daisy's Review of Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin


Title/Author: Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #1) by Bethany Griffin
Publisher/Date published: Greenwillow Books, April 24th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

Goodreads summary: "Everything is in ruins.
A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up... and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club — in the depths of her own despair — Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for — no matter what it costs her."

I think this is the first steampunk novel I have ever loved. I have enjoyed The Girl in the Steel Corset very much, but I LOVED Masque of the Red Death! I knew it wasn't time to give up on the genre yet! Also, I had heard really good things about this and it was number one on my TTT Spring TBR List, so I'm very happy I liked it so much! And I can't stop staring at that pretty cover...

Masque of the Red Death is dark and wonderful and it sweeps you up and drops you down 320 pages later. It's incredible and I was definitely not amused when it was time to cook dinner and I had to put it aside for a while. I absolutely adored that nothing was black and white and if I'd been Araby I would have been floundering around figuring out who to trust and what to do.

And you guys, there's a love triangle and I didn't hate it! There, I said it. In my opinion it was really well done and I found myself rooting for one guy, then the other and back again... It was an emotional rollercoaster and even though it seems like she's making a choice at the end of Masque of the Red Death, I'm curious to see what will actually happen and who will hold her heart in the end.

I really loved Araby, she's a complicated girl and very flawed, as are all the other characters (LOVED that) and my heart broke for her grief over her brother's death and the vow she made him. I loved Will (though he may have broken my heart just a little) and Elliott and Araby's family and Will's little brother and sister (SO CUTE) and April, Araby's best friend! It always gives me a happy when I can love not only the main characters, but several of the others as well!

I must admit that I've never read any of Edgar Allen Poe's work, but I'm curious to check it out after reading this book! I love when a book makes me want to read other books and it's not just the sequel!

Also, the song 'We Are Young' by Fun ft. Janelle Monae reminds me of this novel SO MUCH it's scary. I love that song!



What do you think? Yes? No?

There's some crazy going around and evil leaders and lots and lots of people dying. The last couple of chapters had me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would happen and how Bethany Griffin would tie this one up! I'm glad to say it didn't feel like a cliffhanger, but it did leave me wanting the next book ASAP. I loved that we already got some answers and I'm hoping the sequel will tell me everything else I want to know, cause this world is endlessly fascinating!

It was fabulous and dark and twisty and I just want more! What are you all waiting for? It's out now, go read it/order it!

My rating: 5 stars

Friday, April 27, 2012

Jessi Reviews The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Title/Author: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Publisher/Year: Riverhead Trade, 2009
Where I Got It: I picked up a copy from my library's used book sale
Why I Read It: Any book blurbed by Stephen King is a must-read for me!


Synopsis (from Goodreads): 



With The Little Stranger, Waters revisits the fertile setting of Britain in the 1940s - and gives us a sinister tale of a haunted house, brimming with the rich atmosphere and psychological complexity that have become hallmarks of Waters's work.

The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline - its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

Abundantly atmospheric and elegantly told, The Little Stranger is Sarah Waters's most thrilling and ambitious novel yet.



Review: 


This book came as a surprise to me in many ways.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

I was surprised by how quickly the pages flew by.

I was surprised by how good it was.

I mean, Sarah Waters can really write. When I first picked this up and saw that it was 500 pages long, I was wary. I thought it would take me forever to get through. After the first 40-ish pages, though, I was hooked. I felt like I was hypnotized. I'd sit down for what felt like ten minutes, and here it'd be hours later and I'd be hundreds of pages down the road. Even when I wanted to be doing other things, like blogging or whatever, I couldn't bring myself to put the book down. And like I said, Sarah Waters writes really well. Her prose is beautiful, but at the same time, I wasn't even really aware that I was reading. I was able to picture everything perfectly clear, and her story is one of the most atmospheric I've ever read. Hundreds Hall was so sinister, it was like I could feel it oozing off the pages. I was genuinely creeped out at parts, particularly that nursery scene.

I did have a few frustrations, though. By the end, Doctor Faraday made me want to scream, which I'm guessing was Sarah Water's intention. I get it. You have to play the rational card. But seriously--how much has to happen for you to start thinking that maybe something weird is happening that can't be explained rationally? Also, without wanting to give anything away, I found him to be too forward and definitely too persistent without having any reason to be so. Crazy obsessive stalker, much?

And finally, the ending just didn't really do it for me. I thought it was terribly anti-climactic. It was like, "Oh man, all this stuff is happening!" and then all of a sudden: "Oh...well...okay, I suppose that's it." Part of my frustration with the ending, too, is that Sarah Waters leaves it with one of those open-ended endings for the reader to decide what happened. Personally, I'm not a big fan of those, so it didn't work for me.

All things considered, though, it was an awesome read. Gothic, subtle, creepy, atmospheric, hypnotizing. I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book vs. Movie: I Capture the Castle

Hey everyone. It's Julia. A while ago, I did a feature on my blog, CompBiblio, where I compared book to movie. I have been meaning to do it again and I thought I would do it here with I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

I reviewed I Capture the Castle at CompBiblio, but here is a bit of a summary of the book and what I thought of it.
Cassandra is our narrator of this story and she chronicles the going on of her family, who are destitute and living in a ramshackle castle, through a series of journals. You can see her writing become better as the story progresses. ...

The cast of characters in this novel are remarkably well rounded. I loved the interactions between them all, and those interactions really drove the plot. The first few chapters are getting to know them and their situation, but the plot really begins when two men stumble into the castle one day. These two men are the new owner of the castle they rent, Simon, and his brother Neil.

Shenanigans ensue.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun read and toward the end it was hard to put down. ...

I would recommend this to people who like historical fiction and a fun set of love stories. It really is just a picture of these peoples lives, a really interesting picture too.

I really think how much you in enjoy a movie based on a book or the book it was based on depends in the order you actually experienced the story. Can you appreciate the story told from both mediums? Sure. It just takes a lot of willpower to forget what you originally thought from the first experience. That said, lets look at the movie.

First off, my God! Could the casting of this been any better for some eye candy? The first one I recognized was Neil, played by Marc Blucas from my Buffy the Vampire Slayer days. Then there is the kid who was in E.T., Henry Thomas, all grown up. But the coup de grâce is truly a young Henry Cavill. Oh wow! I loved him from the few The Tudors episodes I have seen and he his soon to be superman in the new movie...

Now the actual movie. The book is a very character driven plot which means casting wrongly or over acting would have negatively effected this experience. Luckily, I think the cast and their acting was done really well. A lot hinged on who was set to play Cassandra but she was very good. I was not disappointed.

What they changed early-on, if there was anything, I didn't notice. I did notice them skipping some things, but I didn't mind as it moved the story. In the last half hour though the changes started to become more noticeable. Were they necessarily bad? I don't know. I don't think so. Did they add anything? I don't think they did. I think they were really one of those things that changes when the book is adapted for a movie.

I did have one qualm and that was the pacing. It felt a bit rushed, especially toward the end. Also there were some subtleties that the book had that were lost in the movie, because you were able to see scenes that were not from Cassandra's POV.

Some positives were that I didn't have to deal with some of the repetition of 17 year old in love crap that I had to in the second half of the book. Also the last page of the book bothered the crap out of me, but the way they edited the line for the movie made me very, very happy.

Overall, I enjoyed both of them for what they were. I liked the book more, but I truly enjoyed the movie.

For anyone who is interested in seeing I Capture the Castle, it is instant streaming now on Netflix. And I am sure, since it was out in 2003, you could find it at libraries that have DVDs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kimberly and Kelly's Ten All Time Favorite Characters


Learn more and check out the TTT schedule.


With the insanity that is finals week, it was pretty much impossible for one person to do a full list. So Kelly and I decided to do a collab. Here is our list of favorite characters.




From Kelly

1-The Weasley twins from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling - I didn't necessarily like these two as much in the movies, though I'm not blaming the actors, but they are absolutely HILARIOUS in the books. They are so witty and full of life (*sad face*) that you can't help but love them


2- Brienne of Tarth from A Song of Fire and Ice series by George RR Martin - In an epic series filled with dozens and dozens of characters, Brienne has always stood out to me. She is a seemingly tough and no-nonsense warrior, but we see such great little sentimental moments with her. She is perfect.


3-Francie Nolan from A Tree Growns in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - This is my absolute favorite book of all time partially because Francie reminded me so much of myself as a child: shy, quiet, and lonely. But most of all, she loves books more than anything!


4-Jessica Darling from  the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty - Jessica Darling and I sometimes share the same brain; we're both weird, awkward, and sarcastic. I don't have a Marcus Flutie though :(


5- Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - never has a character (or a book) smashed my heart into so many pieces, but never has one made me love her so much!




From Kimberly


6-Vin from Mistborn. One of the best heroines you could ask for in a book. She's tough, funny and caring. I believe I've seen mentions of the book being made into a movie, can't wait to see who is cast in the role of Vin. Though it makes me both nervous and excited. Nothing worse than seeing a favorite character miscast.
 

7-Cinna from The Hunger Games. I adored him. He was so kind and sweet. He worked so hard to help Katniss and he truly believed in her and gave her a lot of encouragement. He wasn't as caught up in the world of the Capitol as everyone else was. I loved his humble gentleness.
 

8- Sherlock Holmes. Okay okay. First of all, I read the series and loved the character long before BBC's 'Sherlock' came around. However......their portrayal of Holmes didn't exactly hurt. ;) I fell in love with the character of Sherlock Holmes long ago, at about the age of 3 when I watched The Great Mouse Detective over and over again. Since then I've adored the character. The intelligence, the quirkiness, the total disregard for what would normally be considered 'proper'.

9-Professor McGonagall from (do I really need to say?) the Harry Potter series. She's strict, but when it comes down to it she shows just how much she cares about her students. Her desperation to defeat Slytherin in Quidditch cracks me up. I loved the bond that she and Harry had. Her sense of humor too, though it wasn't always seen. Remember when Ron and Harry flew the car into the Whomping Willow? Stern as she was, she smiled when the boys asked if they really had to loose house points since term hadn't started. : )

10- Lee Scoresby from the His Dark Materials Trilogy. I loved his humor, his determination, the way he cared for Lyra. Remember what I said about casting for your favorite characters? Well his was perfect in the movie. Sam Elliot was so perfect in the role.
 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tahleen reviews: "I'll Be There" by Holly Goldberg Sloan


TitleI'll Be There
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 2011

Rating: 4 stars

Sam Border has only known what it's like to run. He hasn't had stability since he was a very young child, and ever since his father took him and his younger brother Riddle when they were small they've always been looking over their shoulder for whoever is after them, usually the authorities. Their father is a thief, going against the system and trying to cheat it as often as possible, and uses his sons to get pity from those he tries to swindle. All Sam can do is make sure to take care of his brother as best he can. But all this changes when he meets Emily by chance after a church service, after she seems to sing a song straight to him. He begins to want to stay, to be a part of another person's life. But he has a major obstacle: his paranoid and abusive father, and his worry for his brother.

I read this book a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say I had to stay up reading it until I was finished. Some of you may know this doesn't happen too often to me. It turned from love story, to family story, to survival story, and I needed to know what happened to each character.

I must say the characters were very well crafted and developed. Sam is unsure of this new pattern he has started, and has a fierce loyalty to Riddle. He is tender and caring but knows what needs to be done and does it. Riddle is a quiet, suffers from asthma in silence. He draws complex images of the insides of machines in a phone book as a way to cope. He craves love and gets it from Sam, but wishes for the love of a mother too. Emily is a fairly typical teenage girl who doesn't understand what it's like to live in poverty and can't wrap her brain around Sam's situation, doesn't even consider that such a life could be possible for this boy. Her whole family becomes important to the story, and each is individual and fleshed out.

The story itself is gripping and full of tension, especially when it comes to how Sam and Riddle's father reacts as it is clear he is mentally unstable and we are unsure how he will react or take action when he thinks he's being double crossed or tricked.

I'll Be There is a heartwarming and lovely story survival, hope, and promise.

Disclosure: I got this book from my local library.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Daisy's Review of Everneath by Brodi Ashton


Title/Author: Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi Ashton
Publisher/Date published: Balzer + Bray, January 24th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned - to her old life, her family, her friends - before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.
She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back - this time as his queen.
As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's..."

Oh. My. Gosh. WOW!

Really, that is my first reaction upon finishing this book. And I cannot think of a better way for a book to leave me feeling. I mean, I fell in love with the cover before I even knew what the book would be about (LOOK AT THE PRETTY!!) and when I came to understand that it was a YA mythology I went all crazy-eyed and just felt the urge to HAVE IT. So to say that I was beyond ecstatic when I received the e-ARC is putting it mildly.

And this book did not disappoint in the least. I'd heard people rave about it before I had the chance to read it myself and you know what? THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!

Everneath by Brodi Ashton was SO amazing! I fell in love with the beautiful writing at the first page. Seriously, evidence is my tweeting of 'I'm only 12 pages in, but I already know I'm going to love it'. And it was so, SO good! It made my little bookloving heart very happy.

I really liked Nikki. I know she made a really stupid decision when she joined Cole in the Everneath, but really, I could get where she was coming from. I mean, she was really insecure about her relationship with Jack. And while from the first moment I read about it, I couldn't believe sweet, awesome Jack would ever do something like that, I can see how she would. And I liked that she wanted to make it right with her loved ones when she Returned and wasn't all accusatory towards them and only blamed herself. And maybe Cole. But that's totally justified.

And let's just say it: Jack is amazing. Seriously, that boy! He made me swoon and smile and cry... And I loved him. He was everything a boyfriend should be and I loved the moments he and Nikki were together. I loved how they awkwardly sat next to each other for hours and hours in class and didn't speak. I loved how he tried to get her to talk to him again and their history together.

Then there's Cole, the 'villain' in this story. I know he's the bad guy, but I really liked him as well. Don't get me wrong, I'm 100% Team Jack, but there's something about Cole that's got me not hating him even though he does some really bad things.

I loved it all: the story, the characters, the minor as well as the main characters, the writing, the romance, THE BOY, the mythology... I wish I had more words to do justice to the amazingness that is this book. I would have read this all in one go if my boyfriend hadn't insisted I needed sleep (which let's face it, he was right about).

It will be a long wait for the second book...

My rating: 5+ stars

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jessi Reviews Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title/Author: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher/Year: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006
Where I Got It: My local public library
Why I Read It: It had been on my to-read list for quite a while


Synopsis:


Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.



Review:



Okay, so this book definitely freaked me out. I don't know if it's just because of the wacky weather we've had so far this year, but the events of this book seem completely and utterly possible.

The fact that this book is so realistic is what makes it so good. The after effects from the moon being knocked out of orbit are completely plausible, and it made me all too aware of how much we take for granted. Simple things like electricity and running water. Being able to go to the store if we need something. It freaked me out because, to put it plainly, I would suck at surviving.

Another thing that I found to be realistic was Miranda's voice. The diary thing worked for me, as a whole. There were a couple things I didn't buy, like who really writes dialogue in a diary? But I understand that things like that have to be taken with a grain of salt because they are necessary for the book to work. And to tell the truth, it didn't really bug me all that much. I was too busy being freaked out about how much food we have in our house. I thought Miranda was really authentic, though. What 16-year-old doesn't have their vulnerable or whiny or selfish points? What 16-year-old wouldn't rather be ice skating than sitting in a sunroom reading a history textbook? Especially when the world is ending! I also liked how even though I would have liked to know what was happening in the rest of the world, we couldn't know because Miranda herself couldn't know. Hopefully, we'll see more in subsequent books.

This was compulsively readable for me, and I probably would have read it all at once if I wouldn't have stopped myself. I had this utter need to know what was going to happen and how it was going to end. I will definitely be reading books 2 and 3 to find out!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jamie's Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers

Top Ten Tips For New (Book) Bloggers

Learn more and check out the TTT schedule.

It's intimidating to step into the world of book blogging. I remember just trying to observe what other blogs did and figure out what I was "supposed" to do. The truth is..there aren't any set rules. It's your blog.  Sure, there are obvious etiquette types of things that have been developed and "suggested practices" but really..there are no black and white rules or formulas to blogging. I've learned that for sure. So here are my tips, which are similar to what I covered in my Letter To My Young Blogging Self.

1. Be Yourself. Ok that sounds like a no-brainer but the happiest I've been in my blogging life is when I stopped trying early on to replicate what I saw popular blogs doing and just DO ME. And I have to say that the thing I get most about my blog is not about writing the best reviews, or having the most followers -- it's that people get a clear sense of who I AM as a person and see my passion flow through everything. Just be yourself and your blog will be a lot more fun for YOU to keep on doing.

2.  Give yourself a chance to get ahead: The one thing I wish I would have done is read and reviewed a few books and drafted up some other posts so I had a month or so worth of content before I officially started. THAT way, I could have some in reserve for when I am reading slower  and I can just get a head. Also, it's nice to not start out trying to furiously read and review.  I'm STILL playing the catch up game 2 years later.

3. Choose a blogging platform carefully: Before you start your blog, create accounts on the two major platforms -- Wordpress and Blogger. There are pros and cons to each and you'll want to figure out which one you like to work with. Each platform is not for every person. But let yourself experiment and find that out before you have 1.5 years worth of content and comments and followers and decide that another platform would have suited you better.  I speak this out of experience after using WP for work for a year and realizing how much better I liked it than Blogger. BUT I do love aspects of Blogger. Best to test it yourself.

4. Create your own blogging manifesto: Whether you do this on your blog like I did or write it down in a journal or just think it in your head, do it.  It will help you keep focus always on what you want your blog to be. Your blog will change and grow along the way but having a blogging manifesto helps you keep perspective.

5. Find one really great blogging friend (or two or threeee or four) that you can trust: I don't know what I'd do without my very best blogging friends. It's nice to have people remind you that you rock, let you rant, support you and encourage you. I would have quit LONG ago without people I trust and that support me.

Just a few of my ladies <3 Photo credit goes to ANNA!!


6.  Don't get caught up in the numbers game: Easier said than done, I know. But honestly, the minute I stopped obsessing...I became happier. It's easier to look at other people's numbers and feel discouraged but it's not going to help you. Don't get me wrong, I do track my stats, but I don't let any number tell me the worth of my blog. I let the sweet comments, emails from readers who read books I recommended and thanks from others remind me of my blog's worth.

7. Comment, comment, comment:  I have been a slacker with commenting lately due to wedding planning stress but I cannot tell you how important this is. I met so many bloggers this way leaving GENUINE comments without saying HEY COME FOLLOW ME.  They appreciated my comment and came back to check out my blog on their own. It create community, it helps you meet others with similar taste and it just keeps the blogging community going. I'll say it again...comments are a book blogger's daily dose of affirmation!

8. Let yourself take breaks: I am not ashamed of the breaks I let myself take. Sometimes I just don't feel like stressing about a post so I don't for a day OR sometimes I take a few weeks off (ughh oops yes that was recently) and I don't let myself feel bad. My life gets in the way and my blog will still be here. It took me a LONG time to let my "blogging hair  down" and not get so uppity about not posting. Now everyone is different with how long they are ok with NOT posting so that's up to you..but if you need a break..dooooo it. I promise you you'll get burnt out if you keep fighting it.

9. Venture out from your blog: GO to book events, meet authors, hang out with other bloggers, find/start a book club! THOSE are the moments that make you realize that this community is about more than you sitting behind your computer and writing reviews. I can't even tell you how many book events I've been to and how many times I've hung out with bloggers and each time it just makes me love this all the more!








10.  Get a Twitter and use it: THAT is how I became a part of this community! It keeps me connected, I have amazing conversations, I meet new people, I get traffic from tweeting posts (not spamming...there's a difference!). It can be a time suck but you'll eventually learn how to balance your time...and sometimes you still won't after 2 years :P





Monday, April 16, 2012

Julia Reviews The 7-Minute Back Pain Solution

Title/Author:The 7-Minute Back Pain Solution: 7 Simple Exercises to Heal Your Back Without Drugs or Surgery in Just Minutes a Day by Dr. Gerard Girasole, Cara Hartman
Publisher/Year Published: March 2012 by Harlequin Nonfiction
How I got this book: NetGalley
Why I read this book: I have significant back pain; I am the audience
Rating: 5 stars

Everything that you need to know about what is inside this book is in the title. Ah, organic pain solutions. I have been looking for you. But before we jump into my review, here is a little back-story. (Ha! A pun. We all know that I love those)

For the entirety of my collegiate career which spanned five years and now the two years since then I have had lower back issues. Disks bulging, a narrow spine, intense nerve pain, all fun stuff. I am still on pain meds and have had shots in my spine to numb the nerve in my leg, mostly to facilitate walking. For a while I have been looking for a mostly natural solution to the pain I live with. Then I saw this book.

As soon as I was approved for this galley, I laid down on the floor and tried the basic stretches. I was cautiously optimistic and assuming it wouldn't give me too much relief the first go round. I was surprised when after gently pulling and stretching my muscles with exercises I vaguely remembered from physical therapy I felt a small amount of relief.

I read on and tried over a course of a few months the exercises in this book. I am still surprised how much they helped me, especially the stretches. I'd wake up in the morning too stiff to move, do the stretches I could, and then be able to get out of bed. It's pretty awesome.

This book isn't all stretches and exercises though. My favorite part was the different sections on life experiences. For instance, there was a whole section on how best to deal with your back during airplane travel, or driving, or working, or bathing! I liked being able to flip to the relevant section for me and check out the suggestions. There were some helpful tips.

I really enjoyed this book and plan on buying it to have as a reference guide for whenever I may need to look something up. The stretches in this book I have already incorporated into my every day life and I don't see those leaving anytime soon.

Though this may not apply directly to you, I figured our readers here would probably know someone with some back issues. Or even if you just wanted to learn some great back stretches, check this book out. It's a great resource for how to live life with the least amount of stress to your back, and that can be addabtalbe for anyone.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tahleen reviews: "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews

TitleMe and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Amulet, 2012



Rating: 3.5 stars

Greg Gaines has managed to perfect the near impossibility of being voluntarily invisible in high school, being generally friendly with everyone and never overly friendly with anyone. Except Earl, which is a different story since Earl generally wants to windmill kick everyone in the head and swear a lot, and except for Rachel, who gets leukemia in their senior year of high school. Greg's mom, who likes to insert herself into Greg's life in as many ways as she possibly can, decides Greg needs to be friends with Rachel, since when they were like 12 he sort of accidentally dated her when they were in Hebrew school.

Basically, this is the story of Greg's senior year, told by him, and how Rachel got mixed up in it, and how his life got completely screwed up as a result.

I'll warn you straight up: this book is full of curse words and disgusting language. Earl has the dirtiest mouth, and Greg's isn't pure as snow either. But that said, I started to enjoy it after a while. At first I was kind of turned off by it, but it has this rhythm, and plus it's just hilarious. I mean, I started thinking in Earl-speak toward the end, which is awesome and just ridiculous if you know me.

The situations in this book might seem like they're going to be heartfelt and eye-opening for our main character, but as he'll tell you at least once a chapter, this book is anything but sentimental. Greg wants nothing to do with this from the start—he hasn't talked to Rachel in years, and it ended on really awkward terms back then anyway. He really has no idea how to act around other people that aren't Earl except to try to make them laugh, and though he succeeds sometimes, a lot of the time he'll put his foot in his mouth and just say completely idiotic things that blow up in his face.

And honestly, it was kind of nice. This is not a coming-of-age story. Greg does not really grow up here. He realizes stuff about himself, but he's still kind of a jerk throughout most of it.

Earl is pretty awesome, but no miracles happen to him either. Earl is a tough kid who'll beat you down if he feels like you deserve it, but he's got a good heart and knows the right thing to do, and won't be afraid to do it. He'll cuss like a sailor all the while, but whatever. People aren't perfect.

This is a bizarre little book, but I liked it. Even though Greg doesn't seem to think he learned much from the experience, if anything he learned how to avoid these situations in the future, it doesn't really matter. We see what unfolds, and that's what counts.

And did I mention this book is mainly funny? How often do you find a book about a dying girl that's so full of humor, and gross humor at that. Like, you don't even want me to tell you. I don't even want to tell you. Just... just go read it. If you're curious.

Disclosure: I got this e-book from NetGalley.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Daisy's Review of The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams



Title/Author: The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams
Publisher/Date published: Walker Books for Young Readers, January 17th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Piper, Cassidy, Mei, and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. And they've always agreed on one goal: to get out of tiny Paris, Texas, and see the world. The school's foreign exchange program seems like the perfect escape: Piper will go to the original Paris; Mei will go to China; Cassidy will go to Australia; and Izzy, unable to afford the program, will stay at home. To add spice to their semester away, and to stay connected to their best friends, the girls start The International Kissing Club, a Facebook page where they can anonymously update one another and brag about all the amazing guys they're meeting. After all, these girls are traveling abroad: amazing guys abound at every turn! But sometimes fun, flirty vacation flings turn into more serious romances, and sometimes you don't return from abroad the same person you were. Will the girls' relationships - and their friendships - be able to survive?"

Did you know Ivy Adams is a pseudonym for the writing team Emily McKay, Shellee Roberts and Tracy Deebs? Cause it is. And these 3 lovely ladies have written an absolutely cute novel together!

I was SO ready to read a fun book after reading some disappointing ones and The International Kissing Club had me smiling while reading it! And really, how could I not, the title alone gets me in a good mood! I was expecting something light and cute and that was exactly what I got!

I LOVED the dynamics in the group and the friendship these four girls had going on. Each of the girls has a well defined personality and I was never once confused by the POV I was reading from cause their voices are very clear and I knew exactly who was talking. Major props to the authors for that, cause it's definitely not always the case!

Of course there were some obvious things happening and I could see some mistakes the girls made coming from miles away, but that didn't stop me from having a good time reading The International Kissing Club! All four of the girls have their own sweet lovestory and it was wonderful just delving into it. The only thing I can complain about is that with 4 different POVs, 400 pages isn't a lot and I would have liked it to be a little longer so the storylines could have been somewhat longer cause I just loved spending time with these characters so much!

I'm REALLY hoping for a sequel cause I'm dying to find out what happens with all these budding romances! And just what is happening with these girls in general!
It was such a cute read and definitely something to read on a nice spring or summer day!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Julia's Top Ten Books That Were Totally Deceiving


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Future Top Ten Tuesday topics can be found here!

Hey everyone! Julia here with this week's top ten list:

Top Ten Books that were Totally Deceiving

1. Three Nights of Sin by Anne Mallory
Why: The summary had NOTHING to do with the actual story
This was so true, that in my review I called it out. It wasn't a bad story, just not the story they were selling.

2. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Why: Creepiest Cover Ever
Seriously, I still can't look at this thing. If I didn't get it on audiobook, I would have avoided this forever. The book was really funny despite the unfortunate cover.

3. The Lady Most Likely...: A Novel in Three Parts
Why: Premise Deception
Three romance novel authors got together to write a novel. I was stoked. In high school, my friends and I used to pass around a notebook where each of us would write a page or so and the next would just pick it up. It was quite fun. I pictured this as something of that sort. But it really was just an anthology loosely held together by a houseparty theme. I was disappointed.

4. Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin
Why: Premise Deception
A girl who turns into a boy 4 days a month? Yes please. But then you read a story filled with stereotypes? No thank you.

5. The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne
Why: Chesty Cover
Oh this cover. It put me off the book once, and I missed out.

6. This One Time with Julia by David Lampson
Why: Cover and Summary Deception
It pulls m in with the nice cover and the interesting premise, but I could not read it. The unnatural prose and dialogue was what did me in.

7. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Why: Fantasy-esque Description
Well it was fantasy and I knew that, but the description made me keep putting it off. Finally, I gave in and was amazed at what I was missing

8.The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Why: Cover and Summary of Win
Man this cover was soooo cool. Lots of hidden clocks. Steampunk fun times all through the description too. I couldn't get three chapters through. I fell asleep every time I tried. Sad day.

9.The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Why: Fantasy Cover + YA slant
This book is awesome, but that was almost overshadowed by the marketing to the younger girls. I thought that it couldn't be for me too... well I was wrong. It is awesome.

10. Lots and lots of romance novels
Why: Almost all romance novel covers a cheesy
Thus it is hard to judge a book by it's cover in this genre. Good thing or not, it makes things a bit rough when at the checkout counter. Usually the stuff inside is not bad at all.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Jana Reviews Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham

 
Title and Author: Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
Publishing Info: January 3, 2012 by Berkley Trade (imprint of Penguin)
How I Got this Book: Free from the publisher.
Why I Read this Book: The paranormal/historical romance combination sounded very interesting!
Stars: 4
The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams—and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her. They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever.

I've always loved historical romances, so when this one popped up in my e-mail I was delighted! The back of the book and the cover reminded me of a light, fluffy romance with a paranormal twist (like a Lynn Kurland book.) I was excited about the idea of telepathic communication across the world, between two characters who have never actually met each other. During tough times they appeared to one other to help, either delivering advice or actual strength. As they got older, their ability to communicate grew stronger and they began to fall in love. The romance was incredibly sweet. They were childhood sweethearts, who were there for each other all the time, even though they were on completely different continents. I love this idea. 

While I did like it, this book is far from the light, fluffy romance I was expecting. The cover is quite deceptive, as this book is a rather heavy and sometimes dark read. This time period was a pretty awful time, especially for women, and the author does not sugar coat it, which I respected. At the very beginning of the book, Maggie witnesses the death and/or murders of several family members. She and her sisters are abducted by men hoping to sell them, and are beaten and raped to within an inch of their lives. Andrew goes to war in Scotland, and also experiences a lot of death and heartache. This is all described in great detail, and it actually upset me so much that I thought I would not be able to continue. I was so curious to see how things ended, though, that I decided to continue on with it. To all the tender hearts out there, if you can make it to page 115, you are going to be just fine. The book does lighten up, and it even gets suspenseful and exciting!

A tribe of Cherokee Indians rescues Maggie and her sister from their captors, and takes them in as part of their family. I loved this entire protective and loving group of people. I have not had the opportunity to read much about the Native Americans, except for my history books in school. I learned so much about the culture and belief system of these Indians, and was captivated by their story and strong, almost religious, ties to Mother Nature.

I really, really liked Maggie and Andrew. Maggie is so incredibly strong and resilient. I admire her, and wish I had the kind of strength she has. Andrew is the perfect sexy Scottish highlander. He cares so much for Maggie, his family, and his friends. He's also very loyal and honorable. We see him interact with two very young orphaned children, and he is amazingly sweet with them. He really is pretty perfect, and I know I would love it if he came to me in my dreams! His accent is also pretty adorable, but sometimes I had to read his lines out loud in order to understand them. :)

Genevieve's writing style is gorgeous. Her word choice stirred the same emotions in me that her characters felt. She sent me to the woods where Maggie was held captive, to the battle fields of Scotland, to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, and to the deep southern colonies of North America. The dreams Maggie and Andrew had about each other were mystical and magical. Everything seemed so real to me, and I was completely captivated, even though parts of this book really upset and disturbed me.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical romances with a bit of a paranormal twist. Yes, it's heavy and dark in places. Yes, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish it at one point, but I am so glad I did. You can't fault the author for retelling history. This all really happened, and I was amazed reading what people are willing to do to each other. The story is magical and romantic, and I really loved reading about Maggie and Andrew's journey to find one another. We are left with no loose ends, and you'll be very happy with how things turn out in the end.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book tour: "The King's Agent" by Donna Russo Morin


The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin
Reviewed as a part of Historical Fiction Book Tours
Links for author Donna Russo Morin:  WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER
Twitter Event Hashtag: #KingsAgentVirtualBookTour

The 16th century, Italy, art, spying, and mysterious men....combine that with an absolutely gorgeous cover and count me in! (Click HERE to view the cover up close in all it's glory). The King's Agent, the newest release from the fabulous historical fiction author Donna Russo Morin, sounded promising, but did it live up to the hype? Forgive me if some of the details are a little foggy, I'm reviewing this book more than three months after I initially read it!

When Battista della Paglia steals art from her protector's home, Aurelia does the logical thing: she joins him. Battista is a way to escape the Marquess of Mantua's watchful eye and travel and have adventures. She learns Battista is an agent for François of France for whom he 'retrieves' the greatest artistic works of the day. He will do this by any means necessary (i.e. murder, seduction, tricks). After running away with Battista, he and Aurelia are sent on a mission to find a mysterious sculpture with potentially sinister effects. We are then sent on a journey through Renaissance Italy and meet a wide range of colorful characters, both unfamiliar and well known (Michelangelo, for example). This all culminates with an epic, not easily forgotten climax

I absolutely loved the relationship between Battista and Aurelia! They both have fiery spirits and worked well together in their missions. You can really feel both the Italian culture and the time period through the writing, it's all very authentic. I did have trouble grasping the supernatural turn towards the end of the book that seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere. It was hard to take in and was somewhat over the top. Though it took awhile to get into the flow of events and get used to the author's writing style (LOTS of Italian words, but you can always figure out what they mean by context), I enjoyed the story overall. Even though it's not being put on my re-read pile, I am still open to reading more of Donna Russo Morin's novels!



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jen Reviews "Trafficked" by Kim Purcell



Title: Trafficked
Author: Kim Purcell
Published: Viking, 2012
Source: Library

Rating: 4 Stars



Summary (from Goodreads): A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles. 

Hannah believes she's being brought from Moldova to Los Angeles to become a nanny for a Russian family. But her American dream quickly spirals into a nightmare. The Platonovs force Hannah to work sixteen-hour days, won't let her leave the house, and seem to have a lot of secrets - from Hannah and from each other.  Stranded in a foreign land with false documents, no money, and nobody who can help her, Hannah must find a way to save herself from her new status as a modern-day slave or risk losing the one thing she has left: her life.


Review

Imagine someone convinces you to go to another country.  Not to travel.  Not for school.  But a promise of a better life.  You are told you would be making at least double your current salary.  Your new job is a nanny to two young children.  Sounds semi-decent, right?  Unfortunately, this is one of those times when things are not as they seem.  Welcome to your new life.  You are now a slave.  Along with taking care of the two children you're also expected to clean the entire house daily.  If you don't get something done there are consequences.  Harsh ones.  Oh, and that nice paycheck you were expecting.  Forget about it.  You'll never see a dime.  Your employers claim you must pay off your plane ticket, passport and all travel related expenses first.  That'll take at least a year and along the way they'll keep adding additional "charges" so you'll never get paid.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Things will get much, much worse for you.  Welcome to seventeen year old Hannah's life.  Her story is a scary one.  One that is a real-life nightmare for far too many teenage girls.   

This book kept me on the edge of my seat.  It was heartbreaking to read Hannah's story but I had to keep reading to find out what happens to Hannah.  She is literally trapped.  She's not allowed to leave the house or even make a phone call to her family.  That's how the abuse started but got worse as time went on.


"Trafficked" is Kim Purcell's debut novel.  I think Purcell did an amazing job portraying the horrible conditions Hannah was subject to without going into overly graphic detail.  This is not a "feel-good" book.  You won't feel all warm and fuzzy inside reading it.   Considering the subject matter, you shouldn't.  


I love when books (even fiction books) teach me something.  I learned that Moldova is a real country located in Eastern Europe and that unfortunately human trafficking an issue that still exists in our world today.  After I finished reading "Trafficked", I started doing my own research about human trafficking and domestic slavery.  It's a much bigger epidemic than I ever realized.  I'm glad this book is bringing awareness to it.  


Purcell has a page on her website that has ideas on how to help teenagers who are victims of human trafficking.  You can find that here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Daisy's Top Ten Books To Read In One Day


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics, check them out here!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about books to read in one day. So it's basically a list of books that had me so on the edge of my seat reading them that I shushed everyone who dared interrupt me :)

1. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: Seriously you guys, if you haven't read this book and are a fan of good dystopian YA GO OUT AND GET YOUR HANDS ON IT NOW! It was SO good and I just wanted to keep reading from the moment I started it.

2. Witchlanders by Lena Coakley: I'm still not entirely sure how this book hasn't been getting more buzz cause it's so incredibly awesome! The writing is beautiful and I absolutely didn't want to put it down. I'm still wishing there will be a sequel.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: towards the end there is too much tension to find out if there will be a happily ever after to put it down for the night! I had so much adrenaline going on I couldn't sleep after even though it left me with a big smile on my face!

4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman: reading this was such a rush and I couldn't bring myself to stop until I reached the end. I was an emotional wreck after finishing it.

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver: because the ENDING! The storytelling is wonderful and it completely sucked me in, but after the ending you will wish you had already had the forsight to order Pandemonium as well so you can read it straight after! Although I'm told Pandemonium also ends on a cliffhanger...

6. Nine Rules To Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean: the romance in this one is AMAZING! Really, this whole series is wonderful. There's all this tension and conflict and heartbreak and a swoonworthy man... If you like historical romance, definitely read this one. I couldn't put it down to save my life.

7. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: because it's a classic that's actually exciting and will have you wanting to know what exactly is going on at Manderley and what the deal is with Rebecca.

8. Graceling by Kristin Cashore: do I even need to explain why? It's EPIC fantasy and it needs to be read all at once to get the full experience!

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I started this book and 'woke up' 374 pages later to discover several hours and meals had passed. You will thank yourself for picking a time when you can read it all at once when you start it cause doing other stuff will just feel irrelevant.

10. You Wish by Mandy Hubbard: because it's just absolutely cute and a great way to spend a sunny/rainy/neutral weather afternoon. It is that good.

So what are books you read in one day? Or books you think should be read in one day? I personally feel that most books are best experienced when you read all of it in a short amount of time and I seem to enjoy them more when I do read them in one day.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Paula has the best book weekend!

Alrighty folks. I just wanted to share how fantastic this weekend was. It was the Wake County Library sale... now I've gone to library sales before... and I always enjoyed how fun they were and how they helped support local libraries. Both the Durham and Wilmington sales boast about 10,000-20,000 books. Not the Wake County sale... this bad boy had over 450,000 books. WHAT? how many books is that? How about enough to fill an entire expo building at the NC State Fairgrounds. This thing was a beast.

Needless to say I've been looking forward to this sale for a long time. Since last November to be accurate. I put myself on a book buying ban for all of 2012 in order to have room on my shelves for it. Over the course of its 4 days, I went 3 times.

The first day I went just to peruse- my goal was to look for Game of Thrones because I thought the first day was my best bet to find such a popular book. Unfortunately I did not find it- but I came home with a few books from my to-read shelf and an amazing 1936 edition of Sherlock Holmes for my roommate. I also found these bad boys:














Which proceeded to make me giggle about how pulpy and ridiculous they were (Enjoy).

The second day I went with one of my friends from out of town. We managed to spend a good 3 hours wandering up and down the rows and I purchased 8 books (for a total of $16). Today was the last day and was a massive free for all. At $2 a bag or $5 a box it was absolute mayhem. The selection was pretty slim, but I managed to find quite a few classics that I thought I could provide with a home (since any books that weren't sold are shredded... I couldn't let these books be doomed).

So now my bookshelf is overflowing with books and I think I'm going to have to put myself on another book buying ban. But it was well worth it!

How about you all? Have you hit any book sales yet this year? Or have you gone to any other fun book related events? Tells us all about it!
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