Saturday, March 31, 2012

In My Mailbox (10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, meant to spotlight the books we've acquired this week (via library, purchase, review, etc).

I had a pretty fantastic past 2 weeks in books, if I do say so myself.  Crap pictures again this week because I was too lazy to find my camera, so still through the Droid. I also unexpectedly picked up more books towards the end of the week but didn't want to retake/re-edit all photos, so...kind of a picture heavy post. Sorry!  

Across the Universe - Beth Revis
Picked it up for my mom actually, I've already read it and loved it.

There Is No Dog - Meg Rosoff
I had to return the book before I got a chance to finish it, so I re-reserved and it finally came back in. Super excited to find out what happens!

Stupid Fast - Geoff Herbach

Legend - Marie Lu

Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver
I should proooooobably finally read Delirium, huh?

Last week was my birthday but I didn't receive any books as gifts - so I thought I'd treat myself! I kind of went overboard (kind of...).  I haven't received some in yet, but these are the ones I've got added to my shelves:

The List - Siobhan Vivian
This was a surprise to see on the bookshelves in BN! Snapped up as soon as I could.

The Disenchantments - Nina LaCour

Saving June - Hannah Harrington
Loved it so much had to get my own copy. (review coming Monday!)

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare - Melissa Jensen

Starters - Lissa Price (signed!) + bookmark
Went to a local indie shop (Mysterious Galaxy!) specifically for this book; it was a nice
surprise to see it was signed! And got a free bookmark :)
My hand looks creepy. Nail polish change!
(And those wondering, I'm wearing: China Glaze - Fast Track, from the HG collection here.
The other polish in pics is also from the HG collection, China Glaze - Harvest Moon
With a coat of Nerd Lacquer glitter over.)
For Review
(thanks NetGalley!)

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe - Shelley Coriell (thanks Amulet/ABRAMS!)
The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa (thanks Harlequin Teen!)
The Summer My Life Began - Shannon Greenland (thanks Penguin Teen!)

What's in your mailbox?
Leave your link in the comments and I'll check it out!

PS. Don't forget to enter my Birthday giveaway here!
You could win one of these books below OR an April release! TWO winners!
ends April 8

Thursday, March 29, 2012

TGIF (10) and Follow Friday (9)

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at Greads! This week's discussion is about
Book Blogger Retreat
If you could gather up a handful of book blogger friends to spend a weekend away talking books, where would you go? Tell us about it.

Isn't it obvious? Harry Potter World! To go galavanting around the magical world of Hogwarts with people who adore and enjoy the literary world as much as me? Heaven!

But if that doesn't count because 1) I'd like to spend more than a weekend there, and 2) I'm not sure how much we'd be able to chat about books, I would choose Paris. They have some of the sweetest little book shops in that city, filled with those amazing smells of old, well-worn and well-loved books that any reader loves. We'd get one of those quaint little townhouses that overlook cafes and the streets and spend the day drinking cafe and eating croissants, then spend the night on the balcony, sipping wine and eating baguettes + fromage under the stars.  I think it'd be the perfect backdrop to a bookish trip.  (And I'll be honest, it'd give me reason to go back to Paris.)

(source - Blanca Gomez is one of my favourite illustrators, her work is fantastic!)

Where would you go for a book blogger retreat?
Leave me your link and I'll come check it out!

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View, meant to spotlight two blogs and allows bloggers to link up and meet other fabulous bookish friends and share the Following love!

This week's spotlight blogs are: Alluring Reads & Justin's Book Blog (who is one of my favourites actually!)

And the question of the week is:
Do you read one book at a time or do you switch back and forth between two or more?

Definitely a multi-book girl here. As you can see by my Currently Reading in the sidebar (conveniently there on your right! ----->), I've got 4 books going on right now. I don't know why I do it, but ever since I was little I've always read more than one at the same time. It was mostly because I'd read one, then when I needed to put it down and take a break, I'd just pick up another.

Usually I try to keep it down to 3 books at once, but ever since I started the book blog and took on reviewing books and ARC/galley copies, it's upped to 4 or 5 at once. I don't have problems reading that many at once, I never get confused; but eventually I start to feel stretched too thin and finish all of them up in a day. Which actually really explains how sometimes I have 4+ reviews scheduled to go up on the blog; and other days I'm scrambling for content.

How many books do you read at once?
Leave me your link and I'll hop by!
And of course I'd love to return a follow if you are kind enough to follow me :)

PS. Have you entered my Birthday giveaway yet?
Win one of the books below OR an April release! Two winners!
ends April 8

Review: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten
HarperTeen, 352 Pages
Released: December 27, 2011
Challenges: Local Library Challenge

If there’s an upside to having your heart broken, it’s this: A broken heart makes you brave.

The first day of sophomore year doesn’t go the way Lucy planned. After a summer apart from her boyfriend, she’s ready to greet him with a special surprise and instead gets a shocking one in return: He’s breaking up with her. Beyond devastated, Lucy has no idea how she’s going to make it through homeroom, let alone the rest of her life.

Enter three stunning girls with the unnatural ability to attract boys and an offer Lucy can’t refuse: They can heal her heart in an instant. And then she’ll be one of them—a member of a sisterhood that is impervious to heartbreak and has access to magic distilled from the tears of brokenhearted boys. But to gain their power, Lucy must get a guy to fall in love with her the old-fashioned way, and then break his heart in the next seven days.

While the sisterhood may need another Heartbreaker, Lucy’s only desire is to get her ex back. But how far is she willing to go, and who is she willing to cross to get what she wants?
---------------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
Real love, the pure and true kind that comes along so rarely, is the greatest magic there is. 
It is the art and the drug and the story.

This book pops up often on my blog because I freakin' ADORE the cover. The stars are wonderful, I love the font choice and that little loopy-scrolly thing that frames the love love.

But I definitely did not love love love this book.  Or even like like like. Unfortunately, barely a single like at all.

Can I ask, anyone who has read a finished copy of this book, were the paragraphs indentations weird for you? Because it felt like the indents weren't big enough. It's like in blogger or websites where you can't use "TAB" to indent a new paragraph, so you end up doing 5 spaces? It feels like this, but the book only did 3 spaces, and subsequently everything felt so crowded to the point of distraction. (Obviously.)

I was already lukewarm on Lucy from Page 1, and when I started getting distracted by the format of the book about 30 pages in, I had that sinking-heart feeling. It just didn't bode well. I was hoping so hard that it would pick up. I was hoping that the Sisterhood would bring in mystery and intrigue, I was hoping Lucy would learn her lessons, I was hoping for more Tristan, I was just hoping...and unfortunately it never come through for me.

It came down to two things: 1) Everything seemed incredibly cliched, and 2) so much more could have been done, better.  It's weird, because it's such an original idea; and I still like the idea of a sisterhood of heartbreakers, who take control and use heartbreak for power -- it's a bit twisted and appeals to that whole revenge thing that always seeps into our hearts after a break has happened.  But the characters, a lot of the plot lines, everything was just so stereotypical. Every single generic YA character was accounted for, and very few of them had anything that stood out.  As for it lacking, I felt like there could have been different ways to test Lucy, more interactions with different boys, more development to her character, more with her parents, just more everything.

Alex was possibly the character who I did not like the most, because he was so horrible that I couldn't understand why Lucy was trying so hard to get him back. I never, ever got the sense that they had a good relationship. It always seemed hurtful and missing something, so I couldn't fathom why Lucy would want it back (other than the fact he was her "first love" - which I couldn't find a single reason as to why, anyway).

The only characters who did anything to me were Tristan and Collin, who I thought were adorable. I knew from the moment Tristan entered the picture crunching on his lollipops and playing his mournful harmonica what would happen with him; as I knew with Collin since he was that sensitive, puppy-dog type. There was so much more potential for both of them, but they were just tools in a sad game.

The one thing I will say about Lynn Weingarten is that she definitely understands the intricacies of boys and girls, of relationships and flirtations and responses. While it was weird to see it all laid out and explained (shouldn't it have been shown, not told?), all of it is the truth: there really are certain ways to open up to guys, to get their attention, to become friends with them and understand the psyche.  And the introspection into girls' hearts and how fragile they are is spot on. It's a complex life, and Ms. Weingarten does well telling it all.

I'm going to give the book a bit of a break and say that maybe it didn't do much for me because I am older. Most of the lessons, I've heard before and learned the hard way (unfortunately).  I'm 25, I've dealt with confidence, heartbreak, and what boys respond to.  So yes, that might have been why I had a problem with it. I could see how a 15-year-old reading may find it all a revelation and really find solace. I may be old, but I remember what it felt like to get my heart broken at 16; I was devastated, and I would have done anything to get him back (funny enough, the boy who broke my heart was also named Alex...). While a lot of the hurt was real, there just wasn't enough substance for me to attach to.

AND YET: even after all this negativity...I'm totally going to read the sequel. Not because I have high, high hopes or that I'm looking for redemption; but because I feel like the next book could be what I was looking for this entire time: the Sisterhood, and what they do with all these Heartbreaking powers.

Even though I didn't like this book, I know a lot of people who did. Read a few other reviews here:
Candace's Book Blog
The Princess of Storyland
In the Best Worlds
Chick Loves Lit
Forever Young Adult
1.5 Stars / 5

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Ten by Gretchen McNeil and Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine,
meant to spotlight an upcoming release we are eagerly awaiting!

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Balzar + Bray, 304 Pages
Expected US Release Date: September 18, 2012

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off the from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
----------------------------------Goodreads summary

I'll be honest and say that I pretty much do not read horror stories - ever. I'm easily spooked. I mean, I can't watch CSI unless it's in the middle of the day with blinds open and a friend in the room, because the last time I did it was the middle of the night and the episode was about some college girl who lived on the second floor and a man snuck in through her balcony doors and killed her.  I happened to be a college girl at the time, alone, watching TV with my back to my second-floor balcony doors. I didn't sleep.

But Ten is seriously going to make me reconsider my "no horror" rule. It seems so interesting, and I want to know who is getting vengeance and why! I mean, why is Meg the one searching for the killer? Where's her best friend Minnie? What part does TJ play? This is so Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer and And Then There Were None. I have to know!

Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers
Henry Holt and Co. BYR (an imprint of Macmillon), 245 Pages
Expected US Release Date: April 24, 2012

After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.

But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.
------------------------------------Goodreads summary

I adore any contemporary YA that's got a music element in it. Like most others, music speaks to me, and I love when it's incorporated into characters since it gives such a distinct picture of them.  Maria seems like an interesting character, and I can't wait to find out the shadowy secrets to her family's past.

What book are you waiting for?
Leave your link in the comments and I'll hop by!

PS. Have you entered my Birthday giveaway yet?
You could win one of the books below OR an April release! Two winners!
ends April 8

Review: Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (MG)

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Knopf (an imprint of Random House), 304 Pages
US Release Date: March 27, 2012
Source: ARC sent from Publisher (thanks Random House!)
Ages: 10+ (Middle Grade)

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he's grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one. 

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called "Expedition Survival!", Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show's boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna's dad shows up with a gun . . .

It's anyone's guess who will actually survive "Expedition Survival". . .
--------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
"Was your dad trying to shoot you?" he asked Tuna...
...Tuna blinked the raindrops from her eyelashes and thought about the answer. Finally, she said, "I think he was aiming for the motor. That's what I choose to believe."

I haven't reviewed many Middle Grade novels on my blog (I think I've done 3...maybe?), but they're another "genre" that I really love - much like YA, I love the innocence that can be approached. Middle Grades can potentially be formidable years, and I love reading books that help children along and can really shape who they turn out to be.

Chomp is definitely one of those that can help a child turn into a pretty damn awesome person. (Wait, should I be using "damn" in a MG review? Hmmm...)

Can we first talk about the cover, though? I've never read any of Carl Hiaasen's books, but I've known who he is because of his covers.  Hoot is most recognizable to me, but all of them have a very distinct, childlike, almost comic bookish feel - and he's always got the most eye-popping colors!  I really love them.

Chomp follows Wahoo Cray, son of animal wrangler Mickey Cray, who together maintain their zoo of a household -- and by zoo, it really is.  They've got snakes, raccoons, snapping turtles, monkeys, and one very sweet massive alligator, affectionately named Alice. I have to admit that the amount of names in the book are a bit confusing, especially when a lot of them are odd names for people (funnily enough, most of the animals have "human" names, whereas two of the humans are named Wahoo and Tuna. Go figure).  I loved all the little facts about the various animals, they're seamlessly worked into the writing where I barely realize I'm learning at the same time!

The Crays take a job working for a Survivalist Reality TV show because they're struggling for money, and from then on it's just one hilarious adventure after the other; especially when a girl named Tuna pops into their lives as a runaway from her abusive father. The backdrop of a Reality TV show lends so much to the plot, showing just how things that seem may not actually be.  Derek Badger, the bumbling idiot star of the TV show, is such an overbearing, terrible person that it becomes comical and almost endearing. Each character is so distinct and fun in their own weird little way that you can't help but love them all.  Wahoo is a solid main character, absorbing the others around him with a quiet patience. He's lovable and brave, and his growth as he goes on is subtle but meaningful.

Hiaasen does really well weaving breathtaking terror with giggle-inducing dry humor, maintaining a strong voice and stronger lessons. Each page had me flipping to the next, desperate to know what would happen to Wahoo and Tuna, Tuna's dad and Mickey, even Derek Badger.

Despite a premise that screams humor, Hiaasen does tackle some heavy stuff: family relationships, alcohol, money struggles, abusive parents, stubbornly idiotic grown ups...all the while framing it through childhood innocence and an unfailing belief in the strength and integrity of human nature.

Filled with glowing characters, entertaining situations and poignant innocence, Chomp is a perfect and satisfying read for the Middle Grade.

4 Stars / 5 

Top Ten Books I'd Play Hooky With

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is:

Top Ten Books
I'd Play Hooky With

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Somehow I don't think this is surprising. Or original.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Even though I think Dash & Lily have usurped the title for favourite Cohn&Levithan book, Nick & Norah is still one that I just pick up all the time. When I first read this book, it spoke so much to me that it brings me back to a really great time in my life.

The Classics
Specifically: Little Women, Pride & Prejudice, and The Outsiders
These are books that mean the world to me, that ignited my passion in reading and writing. Every read brings new facets and discoveries.

His Dark Materials series - Philip Pullman
This series pops up a lot on my lists because I just love it so much. It skirts the line of MG/YA, and the story is just so original and breathtaking. I read this entire series over the duration of my childhood (started at age 8), and it made such an impression. This is what world-building can be.

Let It Snow - John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
I seldom talk about it on here (since this blog was started in January), but I am obsessed with Christmas novels. I adore the Season and devour all the books (I think I've read every single Debbie Macomber Christmas novel) that have to do with it -- so naturally, I love this one. All the stories are so much fun and touching in their own way. I keep it beside my bed, because sometimes I just need to have a nice Holiday story...even if it's June.

Natural Born Charmer - Susan Elizabeth Phillips
An adult romance book (what?!), but I fell in love with this author because of this book. Her books all have a certain formula, but that's sometimes what we love (I'm lookin' at you, Nicholas Sparks); and I think this one is perfection. It's cute and funny and sexy, and it's just the right amount of intrigue, stress and happy ending.

Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley
This makes the list because I actually did play hooky with this -- the day it came in the mail, I totally left work early so I could go home and read it. I adore this book (review here!) and I will happily skip anything to spend the night romping around Australia with Ed and Lucy.

Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
Like the Hunger Games, I don't think this is surprising or needs explanation.

the sky is everywhere - Jandy Nelson
(review here!)
This book makes me cry and fills my heart with such an abundance of love and emotion that I actually don't re-read it often, but I would damn sure play hooky with it any moment of any day.

Just Listen - Sarah Dessen
This was the first Sarah Dessen novel I read, and it is still my favourite (Along For the Ride and What Happened To Goodbye are superclose seconds). I'm fairly certain it's in the running to be THE most perfect Contemporary YA novel. The boy, the music integration, the lessons, the family, the tough stuff, the's perfection, and I love reliving it.

What books would you play hooky with?
Leave your link in the comments and I'll hop by!

PS. Have you entered my Birthday giveaway yet?
Win an April release OR a book of your choice! Two winners!

Monday, March 26, 2012

You know what I didn't do this weekend?

I think I may be the only one in the world to not have seen The Hunger Games this weekend.

Not because I don't want to see it, because oh I definitely want to. But 1) it was my birthday weekend, and I spent a lot of it away and partying with friends.  2) I'm really weird about movie versions of books, and I'm not sure I trust any of my friends to see me like that. and 3) I'm also very weird about the crowds I see movies with, and I was a little weary of all the teens and tweens who would be fangirling like crazy. I mean, I'm Team Peeta all the way and all, but I refuse to squeal it when he comes on screen.

I'm also neurotic, but I sense you've guessed this.

In any case, no, I did not see the movie yet. I think I will Tuesday morning because the theaters around here have a special deal that the first Tuesday showings are only $6 - how can you pass that up?! It is pretty damn amazing that it did so well: $155 million over the weekend? $68 million on its opening day?!  Best showing for a non-sequal...I'm so proud of a little YA book.

I am going crazy not having seen it though! I keep hearing so much about it, and while nothing can really be spoiled, per se, it still feels like I've got to avoid a lot of spoilers. 

So, to abate my anticipation in seeing this film, I thought I'd post some humor! Hunger Games humor is like a weird twisted sickness, because it's like...teens killing teens isn't funny, but c' much fun!

Not even joking, I laughed out loud. And sang it.
This was also the inspiration for this post, because I had to share.
HG pick up lines. I'd probably give it a thought if someone said them to me.
Ryan Gosling Hey Girl Meme + HG = pure awesome.
I laughed. I've also heard Katpee as one one of the hybrid names.
Click to make it larger!
Because I think we'd all give up on him if he said he didn't like HG.
Anyone else not see the movie?
And if you did, tell me if you liked it!
(But please, no spoilers :))

*all images were found via pinterest - I tried to trace sources, but most of it was just tumblr.
If you know the source, I'll gladly update to include the links!