Sunday, July 31, 2011

In My Mailbox (24)

In My Mailbox is a weekly Sunday meme by The Story Siren where participants show what books and swag they received this week through a store, library, or publishing house.

I filmed this when I got back from the beach on Saturday and I am so burnt! Excuse my lobster face. Also the video cuts out at the end *grumbles* so I'll add my swag to next week's IMM.

The Fox Inheritance (Mary E. Pearson)
The Berlin Boxing Club (Robert Sharn)
Summer on Fire (Kevin Craig)

Forgotten (Cat Patrick)
Imaginary Girls (Nova Ren Suma)
Compulsion (Heidi Ayarbe)
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (Morgan Matson) 

Did you do an In My Mailbox today? Post your link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out!

Friday, July 29, 2011

TGIF (6)

A book-question and weekly recap meme hosted by Ginger at GReads.

"Character Envy: If you could be one character from a book, who would you choose & why?"
Ack! This question is so hard. I always admire authors that can make me yearn to be a part of their stories, especially for fantasy or supernatural worlds. I chose three characters from my favourite fantasy series'.

Daine, The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce. - She's so amazing! I would love her ability to both interact with and become animals. Daine also sold me on Tamora Pierce and I'd kill to live in Tortall for a day.

Hermione, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. - Hermione is the best. As a kid I always looked up to her and admired her. I'd love to slip into her shoes, especially when they were younger and still at Hogwarts, and see what a normal day was like for her. So much emphasis was put on Ron & Harry's shenanigans that often Hermione was left in the dark until needed so I'd love to check out her classes and see if she had any other friends.

Calwyn, The Chanters of Tremaris series by Kate Constable. - Calwyn was one of my first female heroines I ever read in the fantasy genre and I absolutely fell in love. It would be awesome to sing like she does and control the world around her in such an awe-inspiring way. Similar to Tamora Pierce, I'd love the opportunity to explore Tremaris and live in rather than read about the culture. Plus Darrow was really hot in my imagination so cha-ching! 

Did you do a TGIF today? Post your link in the comments below and I'll be sure to check it out!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Date Read: July 15 - 17, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars 
Source: Publisher

Sometimes sorry isn't enough....

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.
I received a copy of Fury for review from Simon & Schuster Canada. There's a lot of hype surrounding Fury and I was worried that it would've live up to it's expectations and accolades. While it was an enjoyable read I didn't love it as much as most readers.

I don't live by it but I love reading about the concept of karma so a YA book dedicated to it was fascinating to me. Chase's plotline worked perfectly with this because there aren't many books about Facebook and intellectual property yet, so having him suffer the repercussions of his actions in a similar way seemed appropriate. I'm also glad that Em couldn't just steal her best friend's boyfriend and had to atone for her sin. I don't really like boyfriend stealers in YA books, especially when they try to justify "Oh but I'm so much better for him", etc.

By leaving the reveal of the Furies to the end of the book Elizabeth Miles may have been wanting to set up suspense or mystery. Unfortunately I was just confused and kept thinking I'd missed the part where their presence was explained. I thought it would all make sense in the end but there were a lot of unanswered questions that I hope will be acknowledged in a sequel. I'm really happy that more YA authors are delving into mythology to find inspiration and Fury has definitely got to be one of the more original mythological books I've read.

One thing stood out to me as unrealistic. With so many characters dying I assumed death would be a bigger theme in Fury. Something for other characters to reflect on, thinking about their own morality or the loss of a friend. Instead Em and Chase both ignored anything that didn't directly affect their romantic lives. Beyond them I assumed that the school and town would be in constant mourning but there wasn't really much of that either. It seemed like things were continuing on as if nothing had happened. Even Em's parents didn't really show much concern over the events. Maybe in the sequel there'll be more emphasis put on paying tribute to those who died.

Recommended: Bliss (Lauren Myracle), Choker (Elizabeth Woods), Falling Under (Gwen Hayes)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (28)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Wednesday meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine Participants highlight an upcoming unpublished novel they're interested in.

Title: Under the Stars
Author: Rebecca A. Rogers
Release Date: August 1, 2011
Publisher: Indie

After seventeen-year-old Andrina’s home is demolished by meteors, she encourages her family to relocate to Legora, one of the few remaining cities that promise a new life to weary travelers. But Legora’s food and supplies are in shortage—too many refugees have sought protection behind its gates—and the only option is to appeal to the King of the New World for provisions. When the town assembles a lottery to choose who will plea to the king, Andrina holds the ill-fated ticket.

Her arrival in Valyad, the royal territory, sparks intrigue from King Zarek. Andrina can’t imagine herself acting like the other girls, who flounce after Zarek’s affection and money, but she considers giving in to her flirty side if it’ll guarantee that her family is fed. So when Zarek leaves Andrina with a bitter decision—marry him or he’ll strip Legora of its supplies—she has no choice but to accept being Queen of the New World.

Soon, though, Andrina uncovers that Valyad is smothered in deceit. Days after their wedding, Zarek is found stabbed to death and all fingers point to Andrina. Betrayed by Valyad’s governor, who wants the crown for himself, Andrina learns that it’s the people who will cast a vote on her fate; people who don’t want a commoner operating their kingdom. Andrina must not only convince Valyad that their king didn’t die by her hand, but also outsmart the sly politicians of the realm with a surprise they can’t outrun.
This cover and title combination sold me on Under the Stars. I can't wait to read it!

Did you do a Waiting on Wednesday this week? Post your link below and I'll check it out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (5)

Top Ten Tuesday is a Tuesday book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish to make lists of our favourite books or book-related topics. For this week's theme I picked one book per "tough" issue that really stands out to me. For the purposes of my list a "tough" issue is something highly controversial or something that would be hard to experience as a teenager.

Top Ten Books Tackling "Tough" Issues

1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. Laurie Halse Anderson is renowned her her novel Speak but I'd like to remember her for her 7th book. A novel that redefined what it means to have an eating disorder to me, Wintergirls opened my eyes to a terrifying world of sadness and angst. A beautiful novel about one of the most heartbreaking forms of self-harm.

2. Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. A 2011 debut author, Lorraine Zago Rosenthal has captured the attention of YA readers this year with her stunning novel about growing up in New York in the 1980s. We meet Ari who is unaware of the AIDS and STI risks around her as she begins her emotional awakening in high school and are drawn to her discovery of love and sex.

3. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins. Ellen Hopkins is the queen of controversial issues. It was hard to narrow it down to one novel to choose, but in the end Impulse won out. This is one of my favourite books about teen suicide because for once it looks at it from the perspective of attempted cases rather than the lives of friends and family post-suicide.

4. Exposure by Therese Fowler. A YA/adult crossover, Exposure delves into the modern day world of sexting and its serious implications in today's legal cases. After two teenagers in love are caught sending each other nude photos they fight to prove their innocence and right to privacy versus new and up-and-coming laws about the internet.

5. No and Me by Delphine de Vigan. A French novel about homelessness, some YA readers might shy away from such a "pointless" or "boring" but No and Me is nothing but heartbreaking and passionate. The tale of a homeless teenager in modern day Paris will open your eyes to the world of those forgotten by society with no one to comfort them.

6. Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka. As polygamy becomes a national issue in both Canada and the USA many YA authors have taken to giving their perspective on the FLDS' lifestyle choices. Sister Wife offers three perspectives: a daughter who wants to get out, a "lost boy" who is kicked out, and a sister who years to be married. I appreciated the originality compared to other novels who only paint one side of this very complex issue and fail to comment on the lives of those left behind.

7. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. We've all heard the news stories of young girls kidnapped and raped but rarely do we hear what actually happens during those terrifying hours, days, months, or in this case, years. In Living Dead Girl readers are subject to the harsh realities of sexual abuse and the startling affects on the personality and behaviour of young Alice.

8. Stay by Deb Caletti. Deb Caletti's most recent novel Stay is about a young girl escaping her present by running away to the sea. While there are many other facets to this complicated novel the most prominent is teenage relationship violence, a topic that needs to be addressed more in the media and literature. 

9. Becoming Anna by Anna J. Michener. Becoming Anna was one of the first books I ever read about mental illness, especially when the narrator was the one being diagnosed. A terrifying story of  misdiagnosis and foster care, Anna's memoir erased most of my stereotypes about mental patients and their circumstances and replaced it with a heart wrenching honesty of fear and isolation.

10. I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin. Teen pregnancy is a very common topic in YA literature but rarely are readers able to hear the male perspective. In I Know It's Over, Nick learns that his ex-girlfriend Sasha is pregnant. I bawled through most of this book due to it's beautiful prose and metaphor, and the shocking emotional anguish a teenage boy must feel when faced with such a situation. 

Did you do a Top Ten Tuesday? Post your link in the comments! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Taker by J.M. Steele

Title: The Taker
Author: J.M. Steele
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: September 1, 2006
Date Read: July 12, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars 

Carly Biel's future is right on track: she's a great student (mostly A's and B's); her boyfriend, Brad, is captain of the lacrosse team; and she's a shoe-in for Princeton (her dad's an alum - love that legacy status!).  She's never been great at standardized tests (so nerve-racking!), but she always figured she'd do well enough on the SAT to get by. Guess what? She tanks. Really tanks. Now she only has one more opportunity to take the test, and she's sure she can't pull her scores up by much. That's why, when she gets a mysterious note from "The Taker," she can't resist. Now she's hired someone to take the test for her - but what if she gets caught?  And what if she doesn't?

This debut novel from J.M. Steele will have every test-taker chewing their pencils
SATs. I know absolutely nothing about them. In Canada to apply for university you just submit your senior grades each term. Apparently in the US there's fancy essay writing and tests? Eek! As soon as I heard The Taker was about SATs I jumped at the chance to delve into the magical world of American standardized testing. The scenario? Very cute and probable. The execution? Less than likable, but the ending chapters left me with a warm fuzzyish feeling so 3 stars!

If I could've made some small adjustments to The Taker my biggest change would have been humour. I love to laugh! The whole scenario of cheating on your SATs is actually quite cute and funny rather than melodramatic. I think the plot would be a little less slow and boring if there'd been more joking and bantering, or even awkward moments and escapades between Carly and Ronald. It seemed too serious and angsty rather than fun and flirty and I think a younger audience could have understood the novel better that way.

Lately a lot of the YA books I've read seem like Disney Channel Original Movie scripts. Popular protagonist, always a shy male love interest, quirky supporting friends and characters, some sort of jock boyfriend. While the plot is interchangeable you can always see through to the "copy-paste" skeleton of the novel. While there were some differences in The Taker I found it too much like Lizzie McGuire for it to be truly original.

Recommended: Hacking Harvard (Robin Wasserman), A Novel Idea (Aimee Friedman)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox (23)

In My Mailbox is a weekly Sunday meme by The Story Siren where participants show what books and swag they received this week through a store, library, or publishing house.

Wondrous Strange (Lesley Livingston)

The Beast Call (Anne Tibbits)
Because I Am Furniture (Thalia Chaltas)
Enthusiasm (Polly Shulman)
Fade (Lisa McMann)
Wake (Lisa McMann)

Did you do an In My Mailbox this week? Post your link below and I'll check it out!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

So Shelly by Ty Roth

Title: So Shelly
Author: Ty Roth
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Date Read: July 11, 2011
Rating: 4/5 stars 

Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.
This is a textbook example of how not reading the summary can make for a better reading experience. I had absolutely no idea what So Shelly was about and based on the cover I assumed it was some sort of paranormal romance. Instead I was completely surprised when it was an angst-filled contemporary romance.

I absolutely love analytical reads. You've probably noticed if you're a follower but the majority of my reviews are really wordy and intellectual. I love analysing my books to look for symbolism and character development. Books like So Shelly already have the analysis waiting on the pages for me and deciphering it even further is almost like a gift. While some reading might find that the intellectual writing takes away from the heart-breaking dialogue and romance I argue that it adds an extra oomph to the tragedy.

I found many circumstances in the novel to be highly unrealistic or improbable based on today's social norms and typical teenage behaviour and was all ready to complain for the rest of the book until I read the epilogue/author notes. Ty Roth tried to mirror Shelly, Keats, and Gordon's lives as much as possible and back in the 1800s, they led very... interesting lives. I don't think it would've been as much of a tribute to them if he'd edited them out but it made for a very scandalous novel.

If you didn't like reading Frankenstein in English or hate poetry, please try So Shelly. Reading about the lives of the authors in a semi-fictional world inspired me to read more of their works and I absolutely fell in love. YA literature is a great way to introduce teens to great topics especially other authors' works. Oh! And if you loved Bright Star as much as I did, this is the icing on the cake. 

Favourite Quote: "He ignores me because he loves me."

Recommended: How to Say Goodbye in Robot (Natalie Standiford), The Secret Year (Jennifer R. Hubbard), Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher), The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E. Lockhart)

Friday, July 22, 2011

TGIF (5)

A book-question and weekly recap meme hosted by Ginger at GReads.

"Bookshelf Tour: Where do you keep your books at home? Are they organized?"
Awesome question! I've been dying to do a proper bookshelf tour since my blog was started in January, especially after I got new bookshelves in early July. 

Here's my video! I try to list all the titles/authors but end up giving up half way through. LOL

Did you do a TGIF today? Post your link below and I'll be sure to check it out!