1.31.2014

The Fault In Our Stars Trailer!!

I know you've probably already seen this, but I am getting excited and wanted to have it on my blog somewhere! Also in case you haven't seen it yet....



I like the trailer, but I'm still on the fence about the movie. I have given this a lot of thought, and I think it's because I felt such a deep emotional connection to this book. I loved it - everything about it - and I grew very attached to the mental images I created of both Hazel and Augustus as I read. I know that as soon as I watch the movie those mental images will be replaced by the movie incarnations, and that makes me nervous and a little bit sad. Even if the movie is epic.

I wasn't going to watch the movie because of this. But the trailer has got me curious, so now I'm waffling. What do you guys think? Anyone share my apprehension? Or are you super excited to watch the book come to life?

1.30.2014

THE SUMMONING - Kelley Armstrong

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2800905-the-summoning?from_search=true

After years of frequent moves following her mother’s death, Chloe Saunders’s life is finally settling down. She is attending art school, pursuing her dreams of becoming a director, making friends, and meeting boys. Her biggest concern is that she’s not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts–everywhere, demanding her attention. After she suffers a breakdown, her devoted aunt Lauren gets her into a highly recommended group home.

At first, Lyle House seems a pretty okay place, except for Chloe’s small problem of fearing she might be facing a lifetime of mental illness. But as she gradually gets to know the other kids at the home–charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a “thing” for fire–Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isn’t your usual “problem kid” behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home either…
- Goodreads description


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Oh man. I am NOT good with creepy. Bloody, violent, scary? Sure. Criminal Minds? No problem. Creepy rotting corpse ghosts? I'm hiding under my blankets and never ever ever coming out again. I realized in the first chapter that this book might be tough for me. By the time I got about a quarter of the way through I had to stop and have a stern discussion with myself. Big girl panties were mentioned. By the time I was halfway through I seriously considered admitting I am way too much of a scaredy cat for this book and quitting. But I needed to know what happened, so I kept reading. It's possible I now need therapy. Thanks, Kelley. Thanks a lot. Like I didn't already have enough mental issues.

 Who, me, crazy? No way.
 
One good thing to come out of my current state of quivering mess-itude is that I can now wholeheartedly recommend this book to those who enjoy a bit of creepy dead stuff in their books. In fact, they'll probably read it and tell me it's not even remotely scary. You know, to anyone but me. And all have a good laugh. You're welcome. Now that you're done laughing at me, let's get on with the review, shall we? 

The premise of this book was intriguing - if totally terrifying. For more than one reason. Other than the obvious (seeing gross dead people), Chloe's condition brings with it another source of terror. That the majority of the world won't understand her ability, and will think she's either lying or suffering from hallucinations. Which is basically what happened. 

So I felt for her. I felt for all the kids at Lyle House. You get the feeling pretty early on that there's something odd going on there, and Armstrong did a great job of slowly building the suspense and tension. She doesn't jump right in with the supernatural stuff. She gives the reader time to decide what they want to believe, and she slowly reveals more and more. She did this in The Gathering as well, and it was one of the things I really liked about the book. It worked well here too. 

She also developed the characters expertly. They've got layers, and they're not perfect angels or villains. She gives you reasons to feel for each of them - and reasons to be wary of them. Particularly given that these are kids who are in an institution for things we don't know about, it's a realistic portrayal of how I imagine it would feel to adjust to such a social setting. 

I don't trust any of you people.


There were definitely lots of twists and turns in the plot that I didn't expect (along with a few I did, but that's fine) and it moved along without dragging. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who's as big of a chicken shit sissy as me, but if you've got a strong constitution for horror, you'll be totally fine, and you'll really enjoy this. 

Oh, and make sure you've got book two (The Awakening) on hand, because this ends on a cliff hanger, and you're gonna wanna know what happens next!


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Book Title: The Summoning
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkest Powers #1
Edition: Paperback
Published By: HarperCollins
Released: March 31, 2009
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Supernatural
Pages: 390
Date Read: January 6-9, 2014
Rating: 7/10



1.29.2014

WWW Wednesdays #8



http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/www-wednesdays-nov-6/

It's time for this week's WWW Wednesdays, hosted by Should Be Reading blog (head over and check them out!).

This link up asks three questions:


  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you'll be reading next? 
Here are my WWW answers!

What am I currently reading?



I love Douglas Coupland. He's got this fantastic ability to make things that are incredibly ordinary - or even distasteful - into an entertaining, touching story. He's created some really weird characters in his day, but with this book he took it to a whole new level. It's kind of underscoring the fact that my sense of humour is not only dark, but pitch black, because so far I find Raymond Gunt totally hilarious.







What did I recently finish reading?


I loved this book. I expected to enjoy it, because John Green, but man. It's the story of two boys, both named Will Grayson, who live not too far from one another in Illinois. The first Will Grayson is best friends with a gigantic football player named Tiny - who also happens to be gay and working on a musical. The second Will Grayson is struggling with keeping his orientation secret and the ensuing isolation. The two cross paths in the most unlikely of circumstances and places. I loved that the authors switched off chapters, each writing a different character. It really made it feel like two different people - which is much harder to achieve for one writer. I've never read a book with this structure before, but I loved it.



What do I think I'll be reading next?


There are several books on my to-read list that I can't wait to get to, but I think one of these two will be next up - though I'm also dipping into two books the lovely Katrin from Land of Candy Canes sent me for Christmas - Submarine and The Night Circus. Both excellent so far, so I'm really tempted to devour them! But I'm trying to savour them and stretch them out a bit. 

Now it's your turn! Share your recent reads in the comments - and don't forget to link up with the original post (and share a link in the comments) if you wrote your own WWW Wednesday!

1.28.2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In." Alternative topic: "Top Ten Characters I'd NEVER Want To Trade Places With." Wow. TBatB ladies really aren't pulling any punches topic-wise this year, huh?

Worlds I'd Never Want To Live In

1. The Hunger Games

Well, obviously. No one was happy in this - even the people who lived in the Capital had such vapid, frivolous lives that I find it hard to believe that they were really happy.

2. Divergent

I'm not someone who can focus on one thing for an hour, let alone choosing one personality trait around which my entire future will be based - as a teenager. Forget it. I'd be factionless in a week.

3. Enclave

Living underground? With zombies? And again, having to choose one type of life for myself - I can learn to defend myself against zombies or make things I need to survive - but then I can't ever have sex? Or I can be a "breeder" in which case I can have sex, but it has to lead to all sorts of kids? Ugh. No thank you.

4. The Lord of the Rings

One of the most epic, beautifully written stories of all time - but MAN, just reading about life in that world was exhausting.

5. The Diary of Anne Frank

I know this probably isn't what they had in mind when they came up with the topic, because it's not a futuristic setting, it's not sci-fi or fantasy. But for me, this is probably the scariest type of world I can imagine.

Characters I'd NEVER Want To Trade Places With
1. Piper Kerman from Orange is the New Black

I don't think I'd do particularly well in prison. 

2. Adrian Mole from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole series

I loved these books - but he is one of the most pathetic, pitiable characters I've ever encountered. He's a true everyman, with all sorts of tedious, unpleasant things to deal with. And he just can't catch a break. 

3. Chloe Saunders from The Summoning

Seeing horribly disfigured ghosts? No thank you. 

4. Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter Series

I find this character interesting - his thirst for power came from having been neglected and ostracized for most of his life. And while there's something pitiable in this, his descent into pure evil makes him one of the most deeply disturbed and soulless characters ever written. I can't even imagine how it would feel to have that emptiness and hunger for power. Sounds pretty miserable to me.

5. Cameron from Going Bovine

The kid's dying of Creutzfeldt–Jakob (aka Mad Cow) disease. His brain is basically turning into swiss cheese, and he hasn't even had a chance to grow up yet. Pretty grim.

Alright, that's me! What about you guys? Link up or share in the comments!

1.26.2014

ENCLAVE - Ann Aguirre


New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters, or Freaks, who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade's long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they've ever known. - Goodreads description


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I wasn't sure about this book when I started it. I nearly put it down and picked up one of the hundreds of other books I have lying around, waiting to be read. But I decided to give it a fair shake, and next thing I knew... it was 4 AM and I was halfway through it. Which is always a good sign.

In the afterword the author discusses her research and how she formulated her ideas of what a post-apocalyptic society would have broken down.She also mentioned that she got the idea for Deuce's underground enclave from the Mole People - those living under New York City in a counterculture. Which - totally fascinating, right?

As I read, the story and setting reminded me of a bunch of books and movies. Most notably The Walking Dead (particularly near the end of the book), the city from the movie 12 Monkeys, and, of course, the characters did smack of other YA dystopias such as The Hunger Games trilogy and Divergent

This is what NY looked like in 12 Monkeys. Sorta.
 
The characters were interesting, and I definitely pulled for both Deuce and Fade. Though there were some bits where Deuce's first person narrative smacked a little of Tris in Divergent (her self-doubt, determination to prove herself to people who don't seem to think badly of her in the first place), I definitely didn't find her annoying in the same way as Tris. Perhaps she falls somewhere between Tris' annoying self-obsession/-deprecation and Katniss' extreme self-reliance bordering on selfishness.

As mentioned in the beginning of this review, the plot totally drew me in. I completely lost track of time as I ventured into the tunnels and faced untold dangers with Deuce and Fade. The plot development was even, with just the right mix of suspense and resolution. I often have trouble with dystpian/post-apocalyptic stories because the adrenaline never lets up and I get exhausted. I liked that this story had ebbs and flows, and that they seem to be getting somewhere rather than spending chapters and chapters in desperate (if not outright hopeless) situations. 

Of course there are criticisms I could make. I didn't really buy some of the elements of the Enclave's social structure, for example. Choosing your name by dripping blood on random objects made me snort a little, I'll admit. And while I get the need to train people in a variety of different roles, it seems unrealistic (and just a bit dumb) to have "breeders" and "builders" who have no self-defense training, and not to allow anyone other than "breeders" to procreate. First of all, this leaves so much of the population without the skills to fight during an attack, creating an unfeasible vulnerability should their fighters get taken down. Secondly, it also assumes you can force 2/3 of the population (a population who are apparently all under the age of 25) to go against their hormones and, you know, biology. Based on my experiences in boarding school, college and university, I'm gonna go with a derisive snort and some raucous laughter at that concept.

But at the end of the day, if you can get through the first few chapters with some pretty intense suspension of disbelief, once we get past setting the scene the plot takes over and totally sweeps the reader along. This is just the sort of book that will appeal to those who enjoy a fast-paced dystopian thriller, and to those who are looking for some believable characters to root for.


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Book Title: Enclave
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland #1
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Square Fish
Released: August 7, 2012
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian, Adventure, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Date Read: January 2-4, 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

1.25.2014

Stacking the Shelves #4


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks where I don't buy books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some books I haven't shared in a StS post yet!

Here are a few new books:



 
 
 


 What did you add to your shelves this week? Share in the comments!

1.22.2014

WWW Wednesdays #7

http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/www-wednesdays-nov-6/

It's time for this week's WWW Wednesdays, hosted by Should Be Reading blog (head over and check them out!).

This link up asks three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you'll be reading next? 
Here are my WWW answers!



What am I currently reading?



I devoured the second book in this series in a day, and moved on to this one. I'm finding it a bit slower going than the previous two, which is making it harder for me to stick with (hence reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson simultaneously) but I wouldn't say it's boring. Just hasn't defined a steady plot aim yet. Definitely going to stick with it, because I need to know how it ends!







What did I recently finish reading?

I didn't do a post last week, so here are a couple of books I recently finished. The Calling was the second book in Kelley Armstrong's Darkness Rising trilogy. I'm not on to the third and final book, because I just can't stop! Reality Boy was a stand-along novel. It's the first A. S. King book I've read, and now I want to read more! I really enjoyed the characters, the writing style and the way the author framed the issues she dealt with. It wasn't always an easy read, but there was enough humour threaded throughout that it didn't feel like a total downer. It almost reminded me a bit of The Silver Linings Playbook - in tone if not plot. Definitely one I'd recommend. 



What do I think I'll be reading next?




I've actually already started this one. You know, between bits of The Rising. I am a big fan of John Green - The Fault In Our Stars is an all-time favourite - and I can see his trademark wit and humour in this one. I am fairly sure that the two authors each picked a character and trade off writing chapters from the point of view of each. I can't confirm this, but that's how it feels to me so far. It's an intriguing way to experience dual narrative, because the two voices are very distinct.





Now it's your turn! Share your recent reads in the comments - and don't forget to link up with the original post (and share a link in the comments) if you wrote your own WWW Wednesday!

1.20.2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Things On My Bookish Wishlist


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Things On My Bookish Wishlist." This, apparently, means thigns I wish I could make authors write about. Could be an issue, a time period, a type of character... whatever.

Man, I have NO idea where to start with this one. I feel like most things I want to read about - well, I've read about them. But there are probably a few things I'd be into:

1. More books (ANY books) set in the Harry Potter universe.

I love the Harry Potter books. And while I'm sure that, after seven books, many years and countless hours spent writing these books JK Rowling was more than ready to move on, I'm not. I want prequels (how about the story of Harry's parents' generation while they were at Hogwarts - and everything that happened leading up to their deaths?). I want sequels (What do Harry, Ron and Hermione end up doing? What madcap adventures do they embark on post-Hogwarts and Voldemort's defeat?). I want tangential storylines (I want Dumbledore's life story!). Pretty much anything else in this world - I'll take it, thanks.

2. More sarcastic and bitingly funny teenagers.

I've been reading a LOT of YA books this year. And there are a lot of amazing ones out there, but I do find that YA is often synonymous with censored and fluffy. Now, it's totally possible that this is a perspective thing. I am well past my teen years, after all. But as memory serves, my teen years weren't very often like what I read in YA books. There was a lot more swearing, for one thing. A lot more "naughty" shenanigans. A lot more stupid decisions. I'd like some more hilarious, no-holds-barred, uncensored teenaged antics.

3. Another book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Good Omens, the one and only book by these two authors in combination, is my favourite book of all time. Not only is it fantastically well-written, but it also contains some of the funniest images, ideas, characters and events I've ever come across in a single book. It's also piss-your-pants hilarious. I'm a huge fan of many of Gaiman's solo works (though I haven't read any Pratchett - I tried but got woefully lost somewhere near the beginning of the first Discworld novel), but nothing else I've read comes close to the chemistry of these two authors writing as a team. Man, what I would do for another book anywhere near as good as Good Omens!

4. A re-write of the Hunger Games.

As you know if you've been reading my blog for awhile, I am not a fan of how the Hunger Games books were written. The story and concept? Stellar. So. I would like to do what my elementary school teachers did whenever I turned in inadequate homework - I'd like to send Suzanne Collins home with her books and have her do a re-write of the end of every single one of these books. I'd like her to, you know, actually write an ending. No more of this Katniss being unconscious bullsh*t.

5. More really GOOD books set in my part of the world.

I live on the we(s)t coast of Canada. It rains a lot here. On the plus side, we have beautifully green forests, but on the down side.... it rains a LOT. But there are so many wonderful and unique elements to living on the west coast. I recently read The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, which is set on Vancouver Island, and it was amazing and wonderful to me to read a story with such an intensely familiar setting. So much better than Forks, which is the only other YA book in particular I can think of that is set in this general area (the Twilight movies were filmed in and around Vancouver - the "movie theatre" they go to is actually a strip club down the street from where I used to live. Ah, the things you didn't know....). They don't have to be by local authors, in fact I'd be interested to read what someone recently located here would have to say about it. But I do love Douglas Coupland, who's from here and writes excellent books that are mostly set here.

6. Another TFIOS.

Yeah, I know. It's unique, nothing will ever be the same... but a girl can dream, right?

I really can't think of anything else. That good enough?

1.19.2014

THE DIVINERS - Libba Bray


Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
- Goodreads description


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If I were a nail-biter, I'd have bleeding fingers right about now. Seriously, this has been me for the past few days:
 But with less eyeliner.

The story had me completely hooked. I loved how Bray danced around to different characters without ever making it confusing or overwhelming. I loved how she built the suspense from just a little frisson of fear during Evie's ouija board stunt to outright terror by about a quarter of the way through. She seemlessly wove in supernatural elements so subtly that I barely noticed it was happening, I just accepted that this is the world Evie's living in.

I love the "Museum of the Creepy Crawlies," too. I wanted to go there and spend a day lost in their old books, scaring the pants off myself. I love old things - and I love old books even more. Evie's uncle is an interesting character, as are Sam, Jericho and Memphis (and how 'bout those names??). Mabel is sweet and a great counterpoint to Evie's flippant, wild, spontaneous personality. She provides some steadiness to an otherwise flighty female set of characters.

There are parts of the setting that worked for me. Mostly in Memphis' storyline - his "profession" and the world he inhabits are given more description than Evie's. Overall, however, I've gotta say the time period fell flat for me. I felt like the book had been written with very little thought to the time period, and was later revised and peppered with random words that felt oddly out of place, like "spiffing," "pos-i-tute-ly," "isn't that just the berries," and everyone being "jake." It didn't feel like natural dialogue, particularly since they're thrown in seemingly whenever Bray randomly remembered this was supposed to be another time period. Take those out and in terms of the dialogue, most of the book may as well have been set last year. That said, it's not easy to create atmosphere and historical context in a book. I can tell she tried, and must have done some serious research to come up with some of the terms, setting elements and historical information she chose. It just didn't quite work for me.

I also found the book to be a bit long and meandery - particularly towards the end. Though it didn't exactly drag, because the suspense is palpable and the plot is even, it was pretty heavy on description. In some places this worked to create a excellent atmosphere, but in others I found myself skimming whole pages (or even chapters) just looking for whatever important bits were hidden in there so I could get on with it. That said, however, even the more long-winded sections were well-written in terms of style. There weren't any clumsy passages or awkward sections.

As a counterpoint to the only other Bray book I've read - Going Bovine - this book was closer to the promise in Bray's writing. She expertly wove a plot that had me on the edge of my seat and looking over my shoulder for Naughty John. Seriously, guys. I'm a big 'ole pussy.

He's watching me! I can feel it!

I enjoyed this book, for the most part, but I'm not sure it gripped me enough to continue with the series. I suppose I'll wait and see when the next book comes out.

Just one last thing, and this does give away a couple of plot points, though they're tangential and don't exactly count as spoilers - a warning for you animal-lovers, like me. After the big climax, two animals are killed (I won't give you details because it's horrible) for no real reason except to build suspense for the future story and demonstrate evil. But still, that was rough on me, so if you're a big 'ole softy, you've been warned!

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Book Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Edition: Hardback
Published By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: September 1, 2012
Genre: Fiction, Supernatural, Suspense, 1920s
Pages: 578
Date Read: December 28, 2013-January 2, 2014
Rating: 6/10

1.18.2014

Stacking the Shelves #3


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks where I don't buy books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some books I haven't shared in a StS post yet!

Here are a few new books:










I've already devoured The Calling, which I was anxiously waiting for. I have been hearing tons about The Impossible Knife of Memory, so I can't wait to start that one, and Splintered has the most amazing cover! Have you read any of these? What did you think?

 What did you add to your shelves this week? Share in the comments!

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