Saturday, September 27, 2014

We Were Liars

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

That was terrible.
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
The characters were horrible people, although I think that's the point. But seriously, I am glad they're fictional.
perfectloops animated GIF
The plot was slow, focusing more on Cadence's thoughts. As I said before though, she's no role model. Most of the time I didn't want to know her thoughts.

I did like the way it was formatted, with the sentences
Sometimes like this.
Very pretty, although it makes
It extremely difficult
To feel
Cadence's emotions.

The ending completely threw me off. At first it bothered me, but it just won't leave my mind. We Were Liars has the ultimate stay-with-you climax.

I don't recommend this book...but that's just my opinion. A lot of other reviewers loved it. I think I'm focusing more on the incredibly selfish characters than the good points of the book.
cinderella animated GIF
Not in this book.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Judging Covers

Let's be honest, we all judge books by their covers. And some leave a much better impression than others.

My favorites are ones that have stars (The Fault in Our STARS was such a let down), swirls, and dark colors. I am not a minimalistic person. Here are some that stuck with me:

Gilded and Silvern
Gilded (Gilded, #1)Silvern (Gilded #2)
I can't wait till the third book comes out! I have high expectations for the cover (and, you know, the content).

The Fire Artist
The Fire Artist
I also love fire.

Passion Blue (which I've never read) and Color Song
Passion Blue (Passion Blue, #1)Color Song (Passion Blue, #2)
My only quibble is that they don't match well. I think I like Passion Blue's cover better.

Purple Moon
Purple Moon (Contemporary Christian Fiction) (A Young Adult Christmas Holiday Gift Idea)
Stars!

The Versailles Vendetta
Labyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta
Swirls!

What are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Silvern

Silvern (Gilded #2)Silvern by Christina L. Farley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really struggle with the star rating. This is more of a 3.5.

Thank you, NetGalley and Skyscape, for this free book to review!
Jae Hwa Lee is ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life in Seoul. Until the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. She escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it. But Kud is a stronger and more devious god than Jae ever imagined. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.
What I liked:

1. Jae Hwa, when she wasn't complaining. I get it, Marc feels overprotective and her life seriously sucks. When her whining was at a minimum, then she was a pretty cool character and extremely self-sacrificial.
funny animated GIF
2. Jae Hwa's dad. I've got to admit, he's my favorite. Poor guy; I REALLY HOPE THERE ARE MORE BOOKS IN THE SERIES.

3. When they went to North Korea. I would have liked more details, but I mean, it's North Korea. The ones in there are probably fictional. They could easily be true though, such as hotel rooms being bugged.
funny animated GIF
What I didn't like:

1. The ending. I love sad endings, but this one had no HOPE. None. If there's going to be other books in the series, than okay. I've asked the author about it, and when she replies, I'll update this review.

EDIT: Yes, there will be a third book! The release date is unknown, but at least there's a sliver of hope here. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. :)

2. Kang-dae. He is no heartthrob, he is a creepy jerk.

3. Michelle. She's okay, but she's so...flat.

Would I read more books by Christina Farley? Absolutely. I refuse to believe that this is the end. I MUST HAVE MORE.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Giveaway Winner!

The giveaway for Playing with Matches is....



**Drum roll please**



**Drums**



Sarah!


Congratulations, Sarah! I'll email you with more details. Thank you so much to everyone who entered. Y'all made my day. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Color Song

Color Song (Passion Blue, #2)Color Song by Victoria Strauss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally, I'm done!

Thank you, Netgalley and Amazon Children's Publishing, for this free book to review!
Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed—or cursed—with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors as she creates them in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilità. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness and rekindled her passion to become a painter—an impossible dream for any woman in fifteenth-century Italy.

But when a dying Humilità bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession—the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue—Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color. Faced with the prospect of a life in the convent barred from painting as punishment for keeping Humilità’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice?

Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilità’s Passion blue. And Venice, she discovers, with its gilded palazzos and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, and where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?
What I liked:

1. The beautiful descriptions. While plentiful, they didn't bog the story at all.

2. Giula. Her emotions were woven so well. Everything she felt, I felt too.
mulan animated GIF
3. The quick plot. Yes, it took me two months to read this, but...that's irrelevant, trust me.

4. I didn't read the first book about Giula, Passion Blue, but there was enough back story to have everything make perfect sense.

What I didn't like:

1. The reason why it took me so long to finish is because it's vaguely depressing. The ending is slightly hopeful, but leading up to that? Not so much.

2. Giula can hear music?! That feels like it should be a big deal, but justice is not done here.
reaction animated GIF
Grading:

Language: B or C
Violence: A
Adult Content: B
Notes: Bernardo's mother is a prostitute. Color Song in no way encourages it, but merely shows that when you're faced with difficult situations, you can pull through and come out triumphant.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dork in Disguise

Dork in DisguiseDork in Disguise by Carol Gorman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every middle schooler (and older, I'll bet) should read this book.

Thank you, NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media, for this free book to review!
Jerry Flack is starting middle school in a new town where no one knows him and he can be anybody he wants. Jerry has a plan: He is finally going to be cool. But that turns out to be easier said than done. As his lies begin to pile up, Jerry knows he’s going to slip up soon, and everyone will see him for who he really is.

Can Jerry keep the act going? Or is it possible that a dork can actually be . . . well, cool?
What I liked:

1. Jerry is a protagonist that could relate to a lot of people. Who doesn't want to be cool?

2. He does things outside of school, such as science projects, teaching his dog how to collect newspapers, ect. His world doesn't revolve around school drama.

What I didn't like:

1. I wish Cinnamon could have been put in her place. She needs to realize her problems.
Love Letters To the Dead by Ava Dellaira (um...deja vu?) | Notebook Sisters
Will I read the next book, Dork on the Run? I doubt it. I don't feel like this needs a sequel, except to deal with Cinnamon.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stacking the Shelves

After seeing the Stacking the Shelves link-up all over the blogosphere, I finally decided to give it a go!
Stacking the Shelves
Bought
Don't Touch
Don't Touch, by Rachel M. Wilson
Yes, I bought from someone other than Jill Williamson! I have high hopes for this book.

Currently Reading

Dork in Disguise
Dork in Disguise, by Carol Gorman
Seems applicable in everyday life.

The Dragon Within
The Dragon Within by Melody Jackson
Self published teen author!

Read, but the book hasn't come out yet so I have to wait to post the review

Silvern (Gilded #2)
Silvern, by Christina Farley
I love this author (and the cover!) but the ending had zero hope.


Color Song
Color Song, by Victoria Strauss
Similar case to Silvern: no hope, beautiful cover.

Don't forget to stop by the Playing with Matches blog tour to enter the giveaway! It's a free book, people. Who can resist that?!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Playing With Matches' Blog Tour!

Yes! I'm so excited that I get to be a part of this! Check out Suri Rosen's blog to see the other participants.
playingwithmatches_tour14 (1)
And there's going to be a giveaway at the end of this post, so make sure you don't miss it! Who doesn't like free books?

The Review

Playing With MatchesPlaying With Matches by Suri Rosen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'll describe this book in one "word": LOL.

Thank you so much, NetGalley and ECW Press, for this free book to review!
A cross between Jane Austen’s Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker!

When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt-but Raina feels like she’s persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous “MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One.

Can she find the perfect match for her sister and get back on her good side, or will her secret life catch up with her? 

In this debut novel, Suri Rosen creates a comic and heartwarming story of one girl trying to find happiness for others, and redemption for herself.
For being such a funny book about matchmakers, Raina has a ton of depth. She really grows throughout the book. She's also relatable (not that I'm a sixteen year old Jewish matchmaker who has a ton of trouble in school. Really. I'm not).

I read this book in under a day (I also have way too much time on my hands this summer). The writing flowed and was funny. Have I mentioned that?

Playing With Matches is Suri Rosen's debut novel. Will I read anything she'll ever write, ever? YES. Her voice is awesome.

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The Interview

Thanks for being here, Suri! What is your favorite part of Playing With Matches?

I have to admit to having a certain fondness for the dog, Bronx. The book isn’t about dogs at all, but there’s something about him as a vehicle for humor that really lies at the core of the story. As a writer, it’s just so awesome to imagine situations in all their limitless possibilities and make them real and believable for the reader. Blending those crazy scenarios with the protagonist’s personal contemplation and growth was very satisfying. There were scenes that made me laugh hysterically when I wrote them and even after a million edits I still laugh and I’m thinking, who wrote this stuff?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
One of the most, if not the most, important thing you can do to make yourself an excellent – and publishable – writer is to get your work critiqued. And critique others too, because combing through someone’s manuscript in great detail will teach you a lot about the craft of writing. Of course getting a critique isn’t always so much fun. (What? You don't see the genius of my draft? You’re an idiot!) But after the initial shock wears off, you’re ready to really listen and improve your project and your writing skills in general. Let’s face it – it’s hard to be objective about something that exists solely inside our brains.
Are you working on any other projects?
Yes! I’ve written a draft of a middle-grade novel, with a touch of supernatural. And I’m also working on a YA novel that is a really weird hybrid of two genres – coming of age and thriller with a touch of supernatural...but maybe not. And of course there are always elements of humour poking their way in.
Yay! Have you ever played matchmaker?
Ha! I love this question. It’s actually a pretty terrifying thing to do. Around three years ago, I was in graduate school in London, Ontario and got around town on my moped. One day my moped completely breaks down so I find a motorcycle repairman who comes to fix it. The guy is tall, good-looking, and kind of cool. Later that week, I’m having lunch with my friend Laura, and these twin professors that she was close with. Laura was single at the time, and I mention this really cute motorcycle guy. They all get excited and encourage me to call him up and try to make a match with Laura. So... a few days later I’m blushing, gulping, completely embarrassed, I call the motorcycle guy up offering to make a match. (Hello! Calling from the 18th century here!) When I finish blurting out how great Laura is, he laughs then tells me, “I’m really really flattered.”


Okay, you ready for this?


“The only problem is that I’m married with three kids!” he says.

Does it get more embarrassing than that?

Oh my gosh, that's hilarious!

Now for a giveaway! I have no idea how much international shipping costs but I hear it's dreadful. And since I'm paying for the shipping.... USA only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gilded

Gilded (Gilded, #1)Gilded by Christina L. Farley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shout-out to Christina Farley, who was kind enough to give me this book to review. Thank you so much!
Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she's next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There's also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae's heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae's been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she's always been looking for.
Gilded has a Percy Jackson vibe, but for a slightly older audience. So heck yeah, this book is fabulous! I knew utterly nothing about Korean mythology before, and now I can't wait to read the next book so I can get more.

Despite being what you'd call a kick-butt heroine, Jae Hwa is still human. She made a lot of mistakes, but always took responsibility. If something went wrong, it was often because she was trying to make things better.
movie animated GIF
But wait, there's more!
At first Marc felt like the classical YA boyfriend: hot, mysterious, and generally perfect. Over the course of the book, however, he grew on me. It must have been awful for him to watch a demigod lust over Jae Hwa.
movie animated GIF
I think I read this in two days. The plot kept me glued. I would totally recommend this to people who liked Percy Jackson.

Grading:
Language: B
Adult Content: A
Violence: Uh...it's hard to grade fantasy because fighting is its ichor. So, B? C?


View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nest

NestNest by Esther Ehrlich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is painful, but not in the hysterical sobbing sort of way (for me, at least). More of in the stunned shock sort of way.
For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
   Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Children's, for this free book to review!

Life doesn't go easy on you just because you're young. Life doesn't say, "Oh, you're just a kid, so we'll keep you mom safe." Bad stuff happens no matter how old you are, and Nest portrays that perfectly. Some elements might be too difficult for a lot of kids. But the other kids might find comfort here.

I felt Chirp's stun. I saw the horrific irony that their dad was a therapist. I knew Rachel's fear in her attempt to adapt.

I would absolutely love to read more books by Esther Ehrlich. I hope for a sequel, even though Nest doesn't really need one. I do though.

Grading:
Language: A
Violence: B? Joey is abused.
Adult Content: A
Notes: As I said, this is not for sensitive readers.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Ten Underrated Authors

The Broke and the Bookish are hosting a link-up! The subject? Top ten most underrated authors! They're supposed to be in a certain genre, but...I do my own thing. ;)

1. Stephanie Morrill
Stephanie Morrill
I've only read her Ellie Sweet series, but I love then to pieces. They're my favorite books to re-read.

2. Esther Ehrlich
Esther EhrlichNest
Her debut novel, Nest, came out today! I'll post my review tomorrow.

3. Suri Rosen
 Playing With Matches
On Friday, I'm going to be the last stop in Playing with Matches' blog tour! I'll include my review, a giveaway, and a hilarious interview. Check out her blog to see the other participants.

4. Jill Williamson
Jill Williamson
You knew she'd be on here, didn't you? ;) Author of By Darkness Hid and Other Awesome Books, she is...well, awesome.

5. Jude Warson, sort of
Jude WatsonLoot
Jude Watson is Judy Blundell's pen name. She (or he) wrote Loot, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

6. Michaela MacColl (and Rosemary Nichols, of whom I can find no information)
Michaela MacColl Rory's Promise
These two lovely ladies wrote Rory's Promise, which is probably my favorite historical fiction ever. It's also very creepy.

7. Mary Amato, who looks like Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Mary AmatoGet Happy
Get Happy made me happy, despite the open ending. Hayes is the ultimate book boyfriend.

8. Karen Rivers
Karen RiversFinding Ruby Starling
How could a mother keep one twin but abandon the other?! Seriously tragic, although Finding Ruby Starling was also hilarious.

9. Angie Kelly
Labyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta
After reading The Versailles Vendetta, I googled the author to see if she had written anything else. She hasn't yet. :P I want a sequel!

10. Christina Farley
Christina L. FarleyGilded (Gilded, #1)Silvern (Gilded #2)
Aren't those covers gorgeous?!

Story time! I got approved for Silvern from NetGalley, thinking I could order Gilded from the library. They wouldn't let me though! No, I don't have a ton of fines. So I emailed Christina, asking for a review copy. Christina, the dear woman, gave me one. I love her so much (and Gilded, which I just finished. The review is coming up.).

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rory's Promise

Rory's PromiseRory's Promise by Michaela MacColl and Rosemary Nichols
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the back of the book, it lists how Rory's Promise was based on real kidnappings, making this one of the creepiest children's books ever.

Thank you, NetGalley and Boyds Mill Press, for this free book to review!
Twelve-year-old orphan Rory Fitzpatrick lives with her younger sister Violet at New York City's Foundling Hospital in the early 1900s. But when Rory discovers that Violet will be sent to the Arizona Territory to be adopted, her world is shattered. Although too old to be adopted herself, Rory--brave and smart--is determined to stay with her sister, even if it means hiding out on a train traveling west. When Rory and Violet arrive in Arizona, everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Will Rory give up? This uplifting novel about the power of faith and the true meaning of family launches the Hidden Histories series, spotlighting little-known tales from America's past, and the children behind those stories. Includes authors' note and further resources.
While Rory is fictional, Violet and the kidnappings are not. I had no idea the women in the wild west were so desperate for children. Thus, it leads to one exciting and fast paced book.

I really love Rory, despite how overprotective she was. Of course you wouldn't want your only sister to be sent out west without you, but Violet can't even eat dinner by herself? She can't sleep in her own bed? That's a little extreme. Usually I hate feisty young girls in historical novels ("Oh! I'm such a tomboy! Look, I can ride a horse!") but I actually liked Rory here. She grew so much over the course of the novel.

Another thing I liked is how accurate the nuns were. Usually in literature they're portrayed as mean and loveless. Maybe some are, but that's rarely the case. In Rory's Promise, they felt like real people (maybe because Sister Anna WAS a real person). They're flawed, but they want what's best for the children.

Would I read other books by these authors? Absolutely. The historical facts are woven in without being condescending.

Grading:
Language: A
Violence: A or B
Adult Content: A

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