ARC Review: Endless by Amanda Gray

EndlessTitle: Endless

Author: Amanda Gray

Genre: YA, romance, time travel

How did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Month9Books)

Summary: Jenny Kramer knows she isn’t normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.
When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.
Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren’t alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams, was there too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has traveled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.
While Ben, Jenny, and Nikolai race against the clock—and the Order—Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life—and beyond death.

Review: I really enjoyed Endless, which wasn’t much of a surprise. Time travel, Romanov Russia (I love this time period), art, romance…it’s right up my alley. Not to mention, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. I read it in just about one sitting, and it was an evening well spent. Jenny was everything a main character should be: brave, smart, quick on her feet. The chemistry between her and Nikolai was sizzling, but I also really enjoyed the connection between her and Ben. Ben made me want to hug him, and I actually teared up during a particularly ouchy scene with Nikolai.

The dreams/flashbacks/memories of their Russian past together were probably my favorite part. I’m a sucker for that era of Russian history, and the incorporation of the Romanov family was just really awesome. I loved the way it was written and the way it fit into the contemporary plot, and it had me on the edge of my seat.

I will say that I wish there was more character development. Jenny was great, but I would’ve liked a bit more…something. I didn’t have trouble rooting for her, but at the same time I felt a bit distant from her. As for Nikolai, I really loved him and his devotion to find Jenny, but by the end of the book he was still very much a stranger. I mean, I still think he’s the hottest thing since Dante’s Inferno, but I wish I’d gotten to know him a bit better as a human being. So far his only flaw that I can find seems to be his resemblance to one Edward Cullen, though admittedly a version far less inclined to behave like a psychopathic, controlling jackass. I’m really hopeful that the sequel will address that and allow the reader to feel more familiar with him, since I really think he’s an awesome character with a lot of potential.

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it?

Yes.

Purchase it:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

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Thoughtful Thursday: Bookish Things I’m Thankful For

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Bookish Things I’m Thankful For

Thoughtful Thursday is a meme hosted here at The Nighttime Novelist, in which I share my thoughts on a certain topic relating to writing, reading, and (on very special occasions) random things.

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate it, and Happy Thursday to those of you don’t. I figured that with the whole gratitude theme of this particular holiday, I would consider what bookish things I’m most thankful for, and I came up with a few things in no particular order.

(Note: Because I’m rather thick at times, I didn’t realize The Broke and the Bookish was actually doing a Thanksgiving-themed Top Ten Tuesday; otherwise I would’ve posted it on Tuesday. My bad.)

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1. Bookcases

This is so basic but, I mean, stacks of books can only go so high before they a) fall over, or b) block air traffic. So I’m very grateful to have a bookcase, even if I really do need another one since the books are starting to come out of my ears.

2. Bookish Friends

I’m so glad to have friends both on and offline who share my love of books. If I had no one to talk to about writing or books I’m reading or other bookish things, I’d probably be pulling my hair out by now. It’s so wonderful to be able to connect to people over books, and I’m so thankful I have those people in my life.

3. Ballpoint Pens

I am such a pen snob, it’s a little ridiculous. I once wrote a petition to a school teacher stating that pencils were a tyrannic assault on my rights as a citizen of the world; I feel quite strongly about pens, and ballpoint pens—though expensive—make me feel confident and classy.

4. Blogging

Sharing book-love is a huge thing for me, like I said. Blogging gives me the chance to meet others who love reading/writing just as much as I do, and I’ve found some amazing new books to read in the process.

5. Microsoft Word

I can’t help it; I just really love the look and feel of Word. I mean, I could still write with Notepad or Open Office, but it wouldn’t be the same.

6. Goodreads

I LOVE GOODREADS SO MUCH DO YOU UNDERSTAND?! It’s such a great way to keep track of my books and what’s going on in the literary world. I can see what’s on my TBR list and I can figure out what books to read next and I can join groups and discussions and meet other book-lovers. It’s awesome.

7. Printing Press

When you think about the fact that before printing presses, all books were handwritten (which took just about forever), it’s a bit of a “whoa” moment. If we didn’t have the system we did, there probably wouldn’t be a lot of people reading, which would really suck.

8. Powell’s Books

The largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. It’s probably my favorite place except perhaps Hogwarts and England. But seriously, if you don’t walk in and tear up at the sheer beauty of it, there’s something wrong with you.

9. Bookmarks

I hate dog-earing—it’s book abuse, do not deny it—so bookmarks, especially with cool quotes or designs, are awesome for me. I’m a little bit ridiculous about them. I have a bookmark in just about every color, and whatever bookmark I use has to match the book cover. If the cover is blue, the bookmark must be blue. Don’t judge me, I was born this way.

10. BOOKS!!!!!

What are some bookish/non-bookish things you’re thankful for?

WWW Wednesdays #2

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It’s a chance for us all to talk about books we’ve just read, books we’re reading now, and books we’re planning on reading soon.

Just Finished

Defy

(thanks @ Scholastic)

I really enjoyed this one! Alexa was a fierce protagonist and I’m so glad I was approved to read this!

Reading Now

Jane Eyre

I’m halfway through this and I cannot believe I waited this long to read it. It’s quickly becoming just as much of a favorite as Pride & Prejudice, which is really saying something.

What's Next?

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

I’m so excited to read this one! I ordered it from Barnes & Noble last week and I’m rather desperate for it; I have a mighty need for holiday books at the moment.

Review: My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

How did I get it? Powell’s (absolutely incredible and GARGANTUAN bookstore in Portland, Oregon)

Genre: YA, Coming-of-Age

Synopsis: Best friends and unofficial brothers since they were six, ninth-graders T.C. and Augie have got the world figured out. But that all changes when both friends fall in love for the first time. Enter Alé. She’s pretty, sassy, and on her way to Harvard. T.C. falls hard, but Alé is playing hard to get. Meanwhile, Augie realizes that he’s got a crush on a boy. It’s not so clear to him, but to his family and friends, it’s totally obvious! Told in alternating perspectives, this is the hilarious and touching story of their most excellent year, where these three friends discover love, themselves, and how a little magic and Mary Poppins can go a long way.

Review: I honestly don’t know how to explain how much I loved this book. It made me laugh (I actually have bruises from falling off my bed, I was laughing that hard), it made me cry, and it made me feel so many emotions that by the end of it I just sat there grinning like a fool.

The unique formatting of it was so refreshing, from the IMs to the parents’ ridiculously amusing emails to letters to newspaper clippings. Everything about it felt original and unique, and it really warmed my heart to read about the purple balloon and Wei’s immortal words and all the lovely little things that made up this story. Every single character was relatable, lovable, charming, and genuine, and I adored the way they interacted with each other. Hucky especially made me cry while smiling, which is just not okay, and I basically wanted to high-five Alé constantly. Everyone had a moment to shine, everyone was dynamic and interesting, and every last character made me feel something, which is a very rare thing in a novel.

My Most Excellent Year was not only a blast to read, it was sweet and meaningful and so, so true that I’m pretty much convinced that every adolescent needs to read this book.

There’s honestly not much more to say without being repetitive. I loved everything about this book, point blank. It’s probably one of my all-time favorites, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Rating:

Five Stars

Recommend it?

1000%. If you know how to read, you need to read this.

Purchase it:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Other books by the author:

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Netgalley November Update

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We’re in the final stretch of Netgalley November! This Saturday will mark the end of the month of Netgalley marathoning, at which point I will (if all goes as planned) be celebrating the polishing off of my stack of e-galleys waiting to be read. I’ve had a lot of fun and found some fabulous books.

Read So Far

Damselfly The Curse Keepers Endless Counting Shadows A Dance of Cloaks Witch Finder Defy

Damselfly by Jennie Bates Bozic (read my official review here)

The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank (read my official review here)

Endless by Amanda Gray (my official review will be up this Friday)

Counting Shadows by Olivia Rivers (my official review will be up next Monday)

A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish (my official review will be up in a few weeks)

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (my official review will be up in a few weeks)

Defy by Sara B. Larson (my official review will be up in a few weeks)

Reading Next

Branded

 

Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Really looking forward to this one! I’m pretty sure this will be my last book for Netgalley November, which I’m quite happy with since I originally only planned to read 4 books, and instead I’m on #8 with time to spare!

How is your reading going this fine November? Have a wonderful week!

Stacking the Shelves #5

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.

For Review

Defy Witch Finder Girl on the Golden Coin

Defy by Sara B. Larson (thanks @ Scholastic Press)

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (thanks @ Hodder Children’s Books)

Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart by Marci Jefferson (thanks @ Thomas Dunne Books)

From the Bookshop

133486 3224911 7778981 3193007741325 18336825 7826117

Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Carolly Erickson

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (ordered from B&N)

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin (pre-ordered from B&N)

Jane by April Lindner

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

As I mentioned in my Sunday Post earlier this week, I’ll be participating in the 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge hosted over at Bookish! I’m super excited to be joining in the fun, and I’m already brainstorming books to read.

If you haven’t heard of this challenge, the basic idea is to dig into your TBR pile and, if not clear it completely, get it back under control. The books you read for the challenge can’t be 2014 releases and any book can be included as long as you review it. On the 20th of each month, you gather all your reviews together and link them up in the wrap-up post on Bookish, and for each review you get an entry to win a book of your choice from Book Depository! [insert flailing here]

There are also levels which go as follows:

1-10 – A Firm Handshake
11-20 – A Friendly Hug
21-30 – First Kiss
31-40 – Sweet Summer Fling
41-50 – Could this be love?
50+ – Married With Children

I’ll be aiming for the Could this be love? level (wish me luck!) and I’m still thinking about books in the pile for January, so when I decide on that, I’ll let you know! I’ll still be reviewing new releases and ARCs, but they just won’t be part of the challenge so I won’t link up those reviews as entries to the giveaways.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge (and I’d love it if you did!) just head over to Bookish and sign up by December 15! There’s a mailing list and lots of other fun things like read-a-longs planned for the challenge, so check it out!

 

Thoughtful Thursday: The Writer Stereotype

 

The Writer Stereotype

Thoughtful Thursday is my own little meme in which I share my thoughts on a certain topic relating to writing, reading, and (on very special occasions) random things.

I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people have, at one point or another, bought into certain stereotypes given to writers. When you tell people you write, it’s probably a good bet that the person you’re telling will assume a few things about you. Now, those things may not necessarily be negative, but they’re likely at least a smidge inaccurate.

Why? Well, all stereotypes are inaccurate. As mind-boggling as it is to think about, despite Earth’s massive population, no two people are exactly alike. Everybody is different, so fitting completely into a stereotype is like trying to fit the feet an entire population of people into one shoe size. Even writers, who actually do tend to lean in a certain direction, are all unique in their writing, their personalities, and their methods. That’s why it’s so unfortunate that the writer stereotypes we’ve created are often what makes us so self-conscious about ourselves as writers.

And the truth is, no writer can be put in a box. Even “bad writer” and “good writer” are entirely subjective terms that don’t really mean anything, so just because you as a writer don’t fit a certain standard or perception doesn’t mean you’re not authentic.

Now, if you’re tilting your head and asking, “What on earth is she talking about?” then you, my lucky bug, are already refusing to stick yourself in a category and call it a day, so kudos to you. But I think it’s important to realize what stereotypes writers are given, and make sure we’re not unconsciously limiting ourselves by trying to fit into a preconceived idea of what a writer is and/or should be.

The Stereotypical Writer

  • Moody Artist: Shuns society and spends weeks upon weeks shut up in a tiny room punching out thousands of words and having emotional breakdowns every five minutes. Misunderstood. Refuses to listen to advice or do any sort of cleaning at all.
  • Alcoholic/Drug Addict: Think Edgar Allan Poe. Can’t write for shit unless they have a glass or joint in hand. Does strange things and writes weird, beautiful stuff that makes no sense but sounds great.
  • Dreamer: Can’t concentrate. Needs a muse. Incapable of being productive.
  • Bum in the Basement: 30-something loser living in your mom’s basement chasing after that elusive idea while everyone you know harangues you about getting an actual job and an actual apartment and an actual life.
  • Old-Fashioned Classicist: Loathes modern technology. Still writes with a typewriter and only reads first editions and classics. Despises writers who are just starting out and wears more cashmere than should reasonably fit on a human body. Must have cats, a vintage hairstick, horn-rimmed glasses, and ballpoint pens to feel complete.

I mean, do you know how many people have told me I should be a journalist if I like writing? Or how many have told me that maybe if I didn’t spend so much time writing, I would have more time to actually do something productive? It’s actually ridiculous. And you probably know what I’m talking about.

People will assume some really stupid things about you as soon as you mention writing. They’ll assume you have no idea what you want to do with your life, or you don’t know what hard work is, or you’re unrealistic, or you worship Satan (don’t even ask). Does any of that fit who you are? Does it matter?

The thing about stereotypes is they don’t have to mean anything to you. Stereotyping is just another way of labeling and dismissing, and you don’t have to take the bait. You don’t need to try to conform to a certain perception of writers. You don’t have to adopt five cats, move to Paris, and swear off every beverage except red wine. You don’t have to become an insomniac and quit your day job.

Your task as a writer and as a person is to find who you are. If you’re allergic to cats or you love people, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it as a writer. Hell, I’m allergic to cats. I hate red wine. My mom doesn’t even have a basement. But I’m still a writer. You are too.

Review: Ash by Malindo Lo

How did I get it? Bought it

Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Fantasy

Synopsis: In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Review: If you’ve been around for the past few weeks, I have been obsessing over this book for some time now. When I got it two weeks ago, I had to finish some other things before I started reading it, and the damned thing sat there on my shelf looking seductive and alluring as nobody’s business until I caved and picked it up.

I’ll admit, I wanted to love this book so much that it sort of blinded me to a few of its faults, such as the ending, which was a little bit too anticlimactic and underwhelming. But I was so captivated by the author’s writing and the beauty of the world she crafted that I didn’t even really care. Ash was someone I could feel connected to, even if I wanted to roll my eyes at her once or twice for being so completely blind to how she feels. Kaisa, while a more static character than I would have preferred, is still lovely and had me making a few embarrassingly girly noises, and the fact that she’s such a friggin’ badass was just awesome. I mean, who wants a prince when you can have a huntress warrior goddess?

Ms. Lo’s use of folklore and mythology in this story was just gorgeous to read, and the way she incorporated it into Ash’s life and her personality was probably my favorite thing about this novel. It felt so authentic and I really loved the portrayal of a society caught between tradition and modern ideas. Ash’s struggle to define herself in a changing world and the value she places on the stories she grew up with really endeared her to me, and the way those stories touch everything in her life, from her mother’s death to her relationships with others, was just extremely thoughtful and well-done.

Overall, I adored this book. The writing was stunning, and with the bones of the traditional fairytale in place, reading Ash felt like visiting with an old friend. I’ll definitely be checking out Malinda Lo’s other novels; I think I’ve found a new love.

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it? Would I ever.

Other Books by the Author:

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Top Ten Books I’d Recommend to My 13-Year-Old Sister

Books for Vivienne

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!

1. My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

I cannot express how much I love this book. It’s universal and I think my sister would not only love it, but also learn from it.

2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

If you’ve been on my blog before, you have probably become aware of the fact that this book is very dear to me. It showed me the magic in writing, reading, and life. Even if my sister doesn’t get as much out of it as I did, I still think it’s a gorgeous book that always reminds me that life doesn’t have to be complicated or unhappy if you just look for the simplicity and the goodness in all the little things that make up each day.

3. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne taught me to always dream and be myself. *tears up*

4. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Actually, the entire Gallagher Girls series is made of awesome. And I know that reading this will only make my sister even more bummed that she has to go to normal high school next year, but the books are so fabulous I don’t think she’ll really care.

5. Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski

I can’t help it. I just absolutely adored this series. It was so fun and I had a blast reading it.

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

I’m planning on putting my children to sleep on The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Obviously I want my sister to read Harry Potter.

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7. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I adored this series when I was thirteen. Just the thought of being able to live inside a story gives me thrills.

Hoot

8. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

This. Book. Is. Awesome.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

9. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

This series is the best. She’ll love it.

Pride and Prejudice

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I mustn’t allow my little sister to neglect her Jane Austen. It would be very remiss of me if I did, and here’s to hoping that she will realize that the boys she will be in high school with next year can in no way hold a candle to Mr. Darcy and therefore aren’t worth her time. (Can you tell I’m terrified of my baby sister dating? Or am I hiding it pretty well?)

I’d love to know about your own book recommendations (not necessarily for your little sister) so drop a line in the comments and I’ll pop over to see! Happy reading!