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.

Advertisements

ARC Review: Damselfly by Jennie Bates Bozic

How did I get it? Netgalley

Genre: Science fiction, dystopian, YA

Synopsis: In 2065, the Lilliput Project created Lina – the first six-inch-tall winged girl – as the solution to a worldwide energy and food crisis. Isolated in a compound amidst the forests of Denmark, Lina has grown up aware of only one purpose: learn how to survive in a world filled with hawks, bumblebees, and loneliness. However, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, she discovers that she’s not the only teenager her size. Six ‘Toms’ were created shortly after Lina, and now her creators need to prove to the world that tiny people are the next logical step in human evolution. In other words, they need to prove that reproduction is possible.
Um. No thanks. Lina’s already fallen in love with a boy she met online named Jack. Only he has no idea that thumbelina1847 could literally fit inside his heart.
When her creators threaten to hurt Jack unless she chooses a husband from among the ‘Toms’, Lina agrees to star in a reality TV series. Once the episodes begin to air, the secret of her size is out. Cut off from any contact with the outside world, Lina assumes Jack is no longer interested. After all, what guy would want to date a girl he can’t even kiss?
Slowly, very slowly, she befriends the six young men who see her as their only ticket to happiness. Perhaps she can make just one guy’s dream of love and companionship come true. But her creators have a few more twists in store for her that she never thought possible.
She’s not the only one playing to the cameras.

Review: This was one of those books I just had to have. I have a love of fairy tales and I couldn’t wait to see what the author did with her world and her characters. The combination of fairies, Bachelorette-style reality TV, and a dystopian setting where starvation is looming, had me intrigued and I was curious to know how it all fit together.

I read Damselfly in one sitting, and although it wasn’t addictive at first, by the time I’d gotten halfway through, I was hooked. The author has a way of writing in a way that’s very simple and straightforward while still managing to confront difficult topics with maturity. Her main character, Lina, is likeable but still with some serious flaws and personal obstacles that she has to learn to overcome as the story progresses. Her love interest, Jack, is absolutely wonderful and I love how unique he is as a person; he’s certainly not perfect, but he’s a lovely, rounded character with a good deal of depth to him. I liked him almost instantly, and he actually made me tear up at one point, which I was really not expecting.

I will admit that the reality TV plotline didn’t grab me. Bozic introduced these six “Toms”—little male fairies engineered to reproduce with Lina—and I was really looking forward to getting to know them, but in the end only three or four were actually near memorable. Most of them were given potential room to grow and develop as characters, but that potential was sort of left hanging. I felt a bit cheated because I would have loved to have more attention given to the five other Toms, especially Blue and Shrike, but they were just left waiting in the wings instead.

That being said, there were a lot of great things going on in this book. I adored the characters and my friends can tell you how much I was fangirling because I had to stop after every chapter to share my emotions and do a little dance-jig thing that made my dog run away in terror. The glimpses of the dystopian world Bozic built were fascinating and I loved the way she threaded hints of the state of society into conversations and plotlines. It felt very authentic and unique.

I’m just really hoping that the author isn’t planning on leaving us with that ending. I’m not sure what her companion novelette is going to contribute, but I will track her down and demand a sequel if I have to, because I’m not ready to let this story or these characters go just yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Other Books By the Author: Ms. Bozic has also written a companion novelette for Damselfly called Sugar Plum which has not yet been released, but I am definitely going to be waiting in line to get it. And bonus: it’s free! To keep up with the release, you can check out her website here.

Review of Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

How did I get it? It was a present from my girlfriend for my birthday or Christmas, if I remember correctly.

Genre: YA fiction

Synopsis: Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America’s finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.

Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering–fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.

Review: I read this book in one sitting on a lovely Sunday morning (it took maybe 3 hours or so, I think). I wasn’t particularly enthralled at first; it seemed, for the first 10 pages or so, like the author tossed in backstory every chance she got, and I’ll admit it annoyed me a bit because to me, knowing every last detail about the protagonist’s life in the first 20 minutes is never a good thing. However, after I got over that little pet peeve, this little novel proved to be a charming read. I can’t say there was anything terribly original about it other than the droolworthy recipes included, but it was fun nevertheless. Sophie was a nice, likable character, and the rest of the cast, especially Stan and Shelby, were delightful to meet. There wasn’t too much drama or romance involved, and while there weren’t any shocking plot twists, my interest didn’t wane and I was pleasantly surprised that the author didn’t fall into some of the typical boxes that I would have put her in at the beginning. This novel turned out as a fun, fluffy, satisfying read that, with the culinary twist, was very refreshing.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend it? 100%

Other Books By the Author: Kathryn Williams has also written several other YA novels including The Debutante and The Lost Summer. Take a look!

Stacking the Shelves #3

***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.

Ash by Malinda Lo (bought) *insert hysterical fangirling here*

10979 1014645 228254

Light in August by William Faulkner

She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea by Joan Druett

Successful Television Writing by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin

Let us all join hands and sing praises to my self-control while sharing in the glow of restraint. I mean, you guys, four books in a week? Four? This is a proud moment in my reading career.

Also, Light in August is for my lit class and I’m fighting back the automatic student response: “Oh, God, another one.” So if you’ve read it and you liked it, pleasepleaseplease comment and say how fantastic and wonderful it is and how much I’ll love it because I need motivation in spades.

Until tomorrow!

ARC Review: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

How did I get it? Netgalley

Genre: Science fiction, dystopian

Synopsis: “Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

Finn looks and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is now to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion…and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world, and in Cat’s heart.

Review: Okay, so first things first. This? This was beautifully written. Like, crack-your-heart-open-and-make-you-bleed kind of beautiful. Every word had thought behind it, every character was real and complex and emotive. This is a book that you have to take a break from every once in a while to just lay there while your brain takes it all in. It’s powerful and poignant and deep, and it’s like reading something vast and tiny at the same time, a small story that feels big.

The main character, Cat, is someone with a plethora of faults, which in my case made her more relatable, although I can see how she might grate on some people’s nerves. Her journey through life is very tumultuous and she makes a ton of mistakes, but I liked that about her, and she certainly isn’t the only one with issues in this book. Her parents, her friends, and the other people around her have their own flaws, and I really enjoyed how much thought Ms. Clarke put into every single character. I grew especially fond of Finn, which is probably due in part to my love of the awkward-male-turtle role, but Finn really did make my heart ache. Reading about Finn’s struggle to understand his surroundings and his own capacity to feel made me think about human nature and emotions, and how powerful they really are. How ironic that a robot should be the one to teach readers about humanity.

***SPOILER***

One thing that I didn’t care for was the plotline concerning Cat’s marriage. For one, a lot of Cat’s interactions with Richard made her seem, well, catty. And also, while I understand this part of the story is crucial, I didn’t like the way it was done. Richard’s character was horrid, yes, but it didn’t feel authentic. His violence and mistreatment of Cat were done in a way that made me feel like the author was just saying her lines, and there was nothing raw or cutting in their final interactions. Cat’s behavior toward Richard seemed like a shallow effort by the author to show her strength of character, as though by publicly embarrassing him or saying “You hit me, so I’m divorcing you” automatically makes her a woman of steel when in reality, it felt like there was very little thought behind Cat’s actions, like the author was shoving words in her mouth and situating her just how she liked.

***END SPOILER***

I don’t read books like this very often simply because I end up walking around for the next week with a hangover. It’s a lot to take in, and it’s very draining, especially in my case since I read it in a day. But at the same time, this book was completely and totally worth the energy. The author put such care into it, and it’s so stunning both stylistically and thematically that even if I didn’t like the story, I would love the book anyway for the writing.

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend it? Yes

Other Books By the Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke has also written a YA series called The Assassin’s Curse, which from what I can tell looks pretty awesome.

Stacking the Shelves #2

***Stacking the Shelves is 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.
I’ve recently sold my soul to Netgalley, so I’ve got a few new additions to my shelf to share, though fortunately (at least for my wallet) not as many as last time. Although I don’t plan to review all of these books (except the ARCs of course), if you see anything in particular you’d like me to review, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!




  18682478

Mafia Girl by Deborah Blumenthal (thanks @ Albert Whitman & Company)

Endless by Amanda Gray (thanks @ Month9Books)

The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank (thanks @ 47North)

Through the Door by Jodi McIsaac (thanks @ 47North)

The Hazel Tree by Julia Debski* (thanks @ Julia Debski)

Mind Bond by Julie Haydon (thanks  @ Feather in Cap Publishing)

Damselfly by Jennie Bates Bozic (thanks @ Patchwork Press)

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke** (thanks @ Angry Robot)

A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish (thanks @ Orbit Books)

*If you’ve seen my update post, you probably already know that Julia is a very good friend of mine who just self-published her first novel, The Hazel Tree. From what I’ve seen, it looks like a pretty fabulous book. I’ll be reviewing it most likely in early November, so stay tuned for that as well.

**I’ve actually already read this gorgeous novel, so if you’d like to know my thoughts on it, check back on Monday for my official review.

76691 110844 6318357 10421882 10798416 9349915

Emma by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It by Dennis Merritt Jones

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Hopefully, the gods will grant me the self-control not to go book-hunting for a little while considering the sheer size of my TBR pile at the moment. I would offer you a picture of said pile, but I don’t want to frighten you so I’ll refrain.

See you Monday!

Stacking the Shelves #1

***Stacking the Shelves is 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.

Here I go, diving into these awesome memes! I’ve been buying wayyy too many books considering the amount of time I have to actually read them (which adds up to about .5 seconds per day), so I figured I should share them with the masses. Or rather, any poor unfortunate souls who happen upon my wee little blog.

And with that, here we go!

1. How to Read Literature Like A Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster

This is something I’m reading to help me with my senior project. I’m shadowing an English professor and if all goes well, my final product will be a completed syllabus and outline for a course on banned/controversial books.

2. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

I am so excited to write a review for this book. It’s basically a conversation between the author and Winnie the Pooh about Taoism and it’s so freaking adorable.

17763312

3. The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles

This includes the three Greek tragedies “Antigone”, “Oedipus Rex”, and “Oedipus at Colonus”. I’ve read the first two for my lit class and enjoyed them, although Greek ideals amuse me.

1626

4. “Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay” by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry, and Diana Ossana

I didn’t know how much I needed this until I saw it on the shelf. I’m very intrigued by screenwriting, so maybe this will inspire me to give it the old college try.

17688

5. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This is for my lit class. I cannot believe I’m actually going to read an entire book about a giant bug. God help me. Although this brings up my favorite joke (which, to my knowledge, I came up with): What is it called when you are attracted to a bug? INSECTuous. (Please laugh. That was funny, admit it.)

6648001

6. The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

Women in history=my favorite thing ever. Especially when we’re talking about women who are traditionally overlooked by historians and society in general (aka, basically all women). I’m not sure just how well-researched this book is, but the title is enough for me to want to read it.

8703925

7. Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “I Heart Jane Austen” and I basically worship her. She’s such a clever author and her books are just chick-flick enough to warm the cockles of my heart and just sad enough that I have to wipe away at least one tear per reading. So obviously I’m all over a book that equates to a big giant “Kudos to Jane!” banner.

7847366

8. Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming A Literary Genius in 365 Days by Jane Mallison

I feel like I should know the classics. I mean, they’re classics for a reason you know? So I should at least give them a chance and try to understand why the literary has embraced them so fully. And a guide to finding those books never hurt anybody. ;)

6295

9. “Howl” and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg was pretty…interesting. I watched that movie with James Franco and I liked what I saw, and I hate reading poetry on the Internet (it feels like cheating) so I thought I’d go ahead and buy his stuff. Also, the little book is really thin and tiny and cool.

126587

10. Manhattan Transfer by Dos Passos

I bought this for my lit. class, didn’t read it, and there’s not really a need to read it anymore, so this is going on the Maybe Someday shelf. If anyone reading this post enjoyed this book, please comment below and tell me why you liked it. I’ve heard plenty of negatives about it, but not enough positives.

116326

11. Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl

Who doesn’t want a book of lists? As a self-diagnosed list-maniac, I drool over books like this.

24128

12. “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare

It was 20 cents! What was I supposed to do, leave it?

18135

13. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

I feel like your bookshelf isn’t complete without some R&J.

37526

14. “Henry V” by William Shakespeare

I dunno, it was cheap and I’ve always been mildly interested in it, so why not?

329519

15. “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare

Well we’re reading this in lit in the spring, so I thought I’d be a total nerd and read it now instead.

46787

16. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’m considering putting this on my fake syllabus for my senior project. I’m not that excited about reading it to be honest, but I’m going to try my best.

1042903

17. “‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore” by John Ford

I’m actually really excited about reading this. It’s an early 17th century play about a brother and sister who fall in love (with each other, in case that wasn’t clear), and I’m just coming off a pretty serious “Borgias” kick, so I need something taboo and scandalous to keep me going. (I think incest is a thing now. It seems like it’s all over HBO. Which, if I’m honest, doesn’t bother me at all.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, and if you have any recent additions to your bookshelf, you can comment here or make your own Stacking the Shelves post!

Review of “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” by Chris Hedges

Genre: Nonfiction, philosophy, war

Synopsis: As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: “It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.”

Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary. (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: I’ve been on a nonfiction kick this summer, which is lucky for me as my summer reading for AP Lit this year consisted of war books, one of which was War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. I enjoyed this book, despite my original trepidation. It made me think about a lot of assumptions and beliefs instilled in me by American culture and it really opened my eyes to the truth and reality of war as opposed to the “myth of war” that Hedges describes. Knowing his background, I could ignore the slightly overdone language when needed, but the author has a very nice way with words for the most part, and I found myself tearing up at several points in the book.

It also, rather surprisingly, has affected my own novel. There is certainly violent conflict in some portions of the story, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to think about the psychological aspects that accompany war when it comes to my characters. War Is a Force gave me a clearer view of the realities of any violent situation and helped me cement in my mind how I will approach fighting and battle scenes in Star Kings. We’ve all been exposed to cultural icons such as LOTR, “Braveheart”, “300”, and “The Patriot”, to name a few, and it never occurred to me personally that there was any other way of portraying war. Chris Hedges, however, has made me consider more fully how I want this part of my story to go, and I have a feeling this awareness of the nature of war will be invaluable when it comes to writing those scenes.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend it? Absolutely.

Review of “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

Genre: YA fantasyCity of Bones cover

Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Clary knows she should call the police, but it’s hard to explain a murder when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary.

Equally startled by her ability to see them, the murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. Within twenty-four hours, Clary’s mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a grotesque demon.

But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

Review: I read this book, and its sequel, in the hazy wee hours of the night during freshman year. When I decided to start the series over, partly because the movie is coming out in August ERMAGAHD, I remembered loving it, and I remembered an adorable gay guy, but that was about it. So I started reading with a fair bit of optimism, and I wasn’t let down.

Cassandra Clare has a writing style that could satisfy the vast majority of age groups, though it is geared toward a teenage audience. She has characters and plotlines that most YA writers wouldn’t dare to attempt: a (very adorable) gay relationship between a closeted Shadowhunter boy and an 800-year-old flamboyant warlock, a *SPOILERS* not-really-but-it-seems-like-it incestuous couple, disturbingly creative methods of murdering people, etc… As a writer and as someone who maintains the motto “as long as you’re happy and your actions aren’t hurting anyone (including yourself), it’s your life”, I really appreciate Ms. Clare’s fearlessness and sensitivity toward more controversial issues (although I have to eyeroll at the thought that who someone loves and/or sleeps with is something people feel the need to argue about, because frankly, it’s none of your damn business, but that’s another issue).

I did have a few problems with this book however. For one, the main character Clary gets on my nerves constantly. Her character doesn’t flow very well, she’s childish, she can’t open her damn mouth without saying something thoughtless, and she is completely unaware of her own looks. The last bit irks me because it’s so ridiculously overused, and her lack of confidence sometimes makes me want to drown her in pickle juice. But she does have great moments, and she’s a fairly dynamic character, although I would’ve liked to see a bit more character development (ie, I want her to freaking GROW UP and act like an intelligent life form once in a while).

Also, I would’ve liked Valentine (the oh-so-dreadful villain) to be a little more original and less like a blond, better-dressed version of Voldemort. While I understand how he became who he is in the book, his backstory didn’t really grab me, and he still felt pretty one-dimensional to me by the end.

But, flaws aside, I enjoyed this book a lot and I recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of this genre. While Clary doesn’t grab me, most of the other characters do (especially Jace *swoon*) and I’m willing to look past her shortcomings in hopes that the following books in the series will spice her up and make her more likable.

Rating: 4 stars

 

I’m Not Dead, I Promise…

I’ve just been a little bit busy the past few weeks. I hope you’ve all been reading and writing wonderful things; I know I have. I’m currently lost in City of Bones, the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, which I’ll most likely review once I’m done with it (yes, I know I’m terribly late to the TMI party, shhh). I’m also working on doing a bit of plot-tweaking and solving a few somewhat big issues on my own project, so wish me good luck!

In more blog-related news, I’m considering writing a post about POVs. I’m having a mid-novel crisis about them at the moment, and I hope writing a post about will serve to help me sort it out and/or clear things up for you in some way. Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in (input is love after all).

Anyhow, I just thought I’d write a quick note to reaffirm my status as “alive and not dead/missing”. I hope you all are having a great February, and happy belated Love Day!