March 30, 2012

TGIF: Book Blogger Retreat {8}


TGIF is a weekly feature created and hosted by GReads! that re-caps the week's posts and has a different question each week.

This week's question - 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.
No question. We'd be at the beach. And we'd be doing this:



 

With a lot of this thrown in for good measure:






Who's in? I want to go NOWWWWWW! 

March 29, 2012

Review: Birthmarked and Tortured by Caragh M. O'Brien

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Release Date: March 2010
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Pages: 361 pages
Source & Format: Birthday gift; Kindle e-book
Series: Birthmarked #1

The Summary (from Amazon)
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia's mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia's choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

Thoughts on Birthmarked
I wanted to read this book ever since I saw that prettybooks had given it such a great review! After reading the summary, I thought it'd be nice to read a dystopian that takes a completely different path than some of the others I've read. In this future, the society is divided between the privileged members of the Enclave and the impoverished community outside its wall. Gaia lives Outside, and it's the only life she's ever known. Her mother is a midwife, and she is happy to train alongside her. The role of the midwife? Aside from assisting in births, they are also responding to "advancing" the first three babies born every month into the Enclave.

Gaia returns home from her first solo delivery to discover that her parents have been arrested. They're hiding a secret, and the authorities want Gaia to help them find out what her parents were hiding. For the first time in her life, Gaia is confronted with a huge decision: assist her parents' captors or attempt a rescue.
One thing I really loved about this book was that it started right in the middle of all the action. Rather than taking a few chapters to introduce the society and the new world, you're thrown right into Gaia's world and you learn more about it as you read along. I really appreciated that because it helped me get into the story from the very beginning! The mystery unravels at the perfect pace as you learn more about why babies are advanced and why Gaia's parents are imprisoned.

Secrets and unraveling codes play a role in this story, and it was interesting to watch Gaia struggle to put together the puzzle pieces. She so desperately wants to save her family, but she's never really questioned the society before. Throw in a little romance with an Enclave guard named Leon (who has a few secrets of his own!), and I was one happy reader.
This is one series where I'll definitely be picking up the next book. I can't wait to see what happens to Gaia and Leon, as well the Society. This book had some mixed reviews, but if you like dystopians this would definitely be one worth checking out!

So Quotable
"There are some things, once they are done, that we can never question, because if we did, we wouldn't be able to go on. And we have to go on, every single day."


Release Date: December 2011
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Pages: 30-ish pages
Source & Format: Birthday gift; Kindle e-book
Series: Birthmarked #1.5

The Summary (from Amazon)
"But what about Leon?" Now, in this new story that bridges the gap between Birthmarked and Prized, Caragh M. O'Brien answers her readers' most common question with a tale of suffering and determination from Leon's perspective. Be warned. The story is a spoiler for the first book in this award-winning trilogy. This promotional e-book includes this exclusive bridge story, as well as a teaser chapter for Prized, book two in the Birthmarked trilogy, available wherever e-books are sold November 2011.

Thoughts on Tortured
This is just a little short story that is meant to bridge the gap between the first and second books of this trilogy. I haevn't read the second book yet, so this book was a nice littler teaser for it. I'm looking forward to continuing on in this series! I won't mention anything that happens, since that would be a spoiler for the first book, but it is written from Leon's perspective. That was a nice little change that really helped you get a sense for how he felt about Gaia. I was sad it ended so soon (it's really very short), but if you enjoyed the first book, you'll definitely want to look into this.

March 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Play Hooky With

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/Top Ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists!

I'm really interested to see how every interpreted this week's list because I think there are several ways you can answer this. I started off with a list of books from my massive TBR pile, but then I decided to change my angle a little bit. To me, playing hooky with a book means that it's a book that makes me want to skip work. It's a book that I get so caught in, or enjoy so much, that it's more appealing than anything else I could do that day. SO, with that in mind, here are ten books I've read that I'd totally play hooky with to get a chance to re-read. And since my reading habits are all over the place, I picked two books each from five of my favorite genres. I'm nerdy like that.

 

Classics
1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - I'd totally play hooky with Anne. I mean, seriously, she's like one of the most adventurous and fun-loving heroines to ever be created. I'd love to spend a day reliving all her hijinks.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - If I pick up this book, even to read one line, I get totally sucked in. It's like there is a built in magical force that makes it impossible for me to put this book down. It was a no-brainer for my playing hooky list.

 

Young Adult
3. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - Now, I know a lot of people prefer Anna over Lola. And hey, I'm not picking sides. I actually wanted to include both but was forcing myself to edit. Everyone needs a little variety! Anyway, Lola makes the list because I read this book in one day at the beach and couldn't stop swooning over Cricket. But then I was mad I read it so quickly. So I'd totally skip work to read it again.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Um hello no brainer. This book has some of that same suck you in magic. After seeing the movie twice in one day, I felt the series calling to me again and knew I had to re-read them. These are the perfect books for playing hooky.

 

Christian Fiction
5. Savannah by the Sea by Denise Hildreth - Oh Savannah. I can't even put into words how much I love her. I just really do. And this book is my favorite because Savannah thinks she knows everything, can be a little judgmental and has to face up to that in this book. Why is that my favorite? Because learning you're wrong (and have pride issues) is something I can relate to. And I just like a funny, sassy Southern heroine.

6. There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones - This book is absolutely precious! Jenny will make you laugh out loud in some moments and feel teary-eyed the next. I just really enjoyed this book and would totally take a day off to read it again.

 

Historical Fiction
7. No Angel by Penny Vincenzi - This chunkster (the first in a trilogy!) makes the list because I really did skip class one day to keep reading this. I couldn't help it! I have a major thing for British people, and I ate up this British family saga that begins with WWI. It might have had its soapy moments, but I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

8. The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - Ha! Another fatty. I could not put this book down. I tried. I told myself I'd just read one more chapter... which turned into like ten more. And it's another British family saga. Like I said, I have a major soft spot for them. This is the perfect kind of book to play hooky with!

 

Contemporary Fiction
9. Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin - I really enjoy Emily Giffin's books. Although her women aren't always likable (and are often incredibly selfish), her books are just so readable. I mean, really. I'm not kidding. While I've enjoyed all of her novels, this one is definitely my favorite. Every time I see this book on my shelf, I'm tempted to pull it off the shelf and just dive in.

10. The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum - I'm going to re-read this soon so I can write a proper review of it and convince everyone to read it. It's different. But it's so wonderful. I love so much about this book, and I would play hooky with it in a heartbeat.

Would you play hooky with any of these books? Have any books that would be perfect to add to my list? Let me know! I'm always looking for a new book to run away with.

March 26, 2012

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Release Date: November 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 323 pages
Source & Format: Birthday gift; Kindle e-book
Series: The Pledge #1

Summary (from Goodreads)
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking at a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking in their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the language of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can be really free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before... and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Thoughts on The Pledge
I expected this book to be a dystopia. I think it's technically classified as one, but definitely didn't read like one. In Kimberly Derting's world, democracy no longer exists and the country of Ludania (previously the USA?) is ruled by a queen. Society is divided by language. Englaise is spoken by everyone, but each class also has their own language. Charlaina, as a member of the vendor class, is supposed to only know Pashon and Englaise. The only problem? She can understand every language, and it's against the law to acknowledge a different language.

Re-read that paragraph and tell me if it sounds anything like a believable dystopia. Yes, it does have the repressive and controlled state aspect. However, I prefer my dystopian novels to actually reflect a world that seems possible. I want to believe that this world could exist. And there's not a chance that the U.S. would turn into the strange society invented by Derting. So, I prefer to think of this as a fantasy. Did I forget to mention it involves magic? Because it does. Yeah, I'm definitely sticking this in fantasy. It felt more medieval than futuristic to me.

I really wanted to like this book. I really did! The Pledge just fell completely flat for me. The day after I closed the book, I probably couldn't have told you anything substantial about the main character, Charlaina. I was so detached from her, and never understood why the love interest was even pursuing her. She just felt so one dimensional to me. And that didn't just apply to Charlaina - I was disappointed by most of the characters. They all needed more developing!

This was definitely a novel that relied on action and plot rather than characters. And since I didn't care very much for the plot, I wouldn't recommend this book. Things just sort of happen, and the book remains very surface-level in its description of events. I thought the summary sounded very interesting (so it definitely had potential), I just think the whole thing need to be fleshed out a little more. That includes the world-building, which was a definite weakness for the book.

With the way the book ended, I wouldn't have known it was going to be a series. I'm glad about that because I'm not going to continue with this series. I'm just thankful that this book had enough closure that I'm happy with that decision (unlike some series I feel obligated to finish because I just have to know even though I didn't really like it).

Like I always say when I don't enjoy a book, read a sample chapter and decide for yourself. Just because I didn't like doesn't mean you won't (although I always try to provide solid reasons for why I didn't connect). One thing I really loved about this book? THE COVER!

So Quotable
"I loved voices, I always had. Words held meaning, but voices held emotion."

March 25, 2012

So Quotable: Laura Dave

Paul Johnson Photography - Source
"In the end - even if no one wants it to be so complex (or so simple) - every place offers its own special treasures. But no place offers all of them. Which no one wants to hear. Because it puts it ultimately in our hands, doesn't it? What we choose to live with, and what we choose to live without."
      – Laura Dave, The First Husband

March 24, 2012

Review: Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: September 2011
Publisher: Penguin | Speak
Pages: 338 pages
Source & Format: Birthday gift; Kindle e-book
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket - a gifted invetor - steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Thoughts on Lola and the Boy Next Door
Oh gracious, this book. I read this book at the beach after a series of disappointing books, so I was beyond happy to dive into some Stephanie Perkins. I'd already read and loved Anna and the French Kiss, so I knew that this would be a really fun read.

Lola is perfectly happy with her life in San Francisco. She loves her parents, and she's crazy about her boyfriend, Max. And then the Bell twins move in next door. They've been neighbors before, and Lola has been dreading the day they'd return. She kept hoping they were gone for good, but that might be a little too much to ask for. Cricket, the geeky boy twin, broke her heart and she's been happy avoiding any reminder of him for the last few years.

I just loved that Lola lived in San Francisco because it was if she was made for that city. Her love of costumes and her flair for the dramatic were perfectly matched by the quirkiness of San Fran. It was like a silent character in this charming story, and that made my heart really happy. I've only been to San Francisco once, but this book had me dying to return.

Anne and Etienne played a small role in the story, and it was fun getting to see how they were doing since the first book ended. I didn't feel like they overshadowed Lola at all, which made me really happy. When I realized they were in the book, I got nervous that they'd totally steal the show. I should have known Lola was her own kind of show.

Speaking of Lola, I didn't love her. I really liked reading about her though. She'd probably drive me crazy if I knew her in real life, but I was happy to spend a few hours getting inside her head. I did want to smack her a few times and tell her to make a decision already! There was a long stretch of time in the book where I felt like she really knew what she wanted but was afraid to go after it. And I was really ready for her to go after it. Like beyond ready. Also, her dramatic costumes also turned into a little bit of an attitude a few times. It rubbed me the wrong way, but not to worry, I still loved this book!

I've saved the best for last: Cricket. Serious swooning. He is beyond precious with Lola. He's like the nicest twin brother imaginable. He's a good dresser, a comical inventor, and he's just got that whole nerd cool vibe totally down. And I seriously loved it. I think there's a good chance that my love for him was heightened by the fact that I'd just finished at least three books with lame-o heroes so he was a welcome change! Talk about breath of fresh air.

To support my swooning, I found this totally adorable illustration of him by Simini Blocker. He totally matches the picture I had in my head!


Well, hello there...

Anyway, back to what I was saying. The writing is awesome. The characters are adorable. The love story had me smiling for hours after I had finished. I devoured this book so quickly and was actually mad that I hadn't paced myself better.

I had a few minor quibbles with it, but I don't even feel like mentioning them. They were just that: minor.

I'm so obsessed with this book (and Anna and the French Kiss if you haven't read that yet) and think you should read it, too. Just trust me.

So Quotable
"And his laugh. I'd forgotten how easy it is. The four of us are lagging about something dumb in that silly way that happens when you're exhausted. Cricket tells a joke and turns to see if I'm laughing, if I think he's funny, and I want him to know that I do think he's funny, and I want him to know that I'm glad he's my friend, and I want him to know that he has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever known. And I want to press my palm against his chest to feel it beat, to prove he's really here."

March 23, 2012

TGIF: Bookish Trends {7}


TGIF is a weekly feature created and hosted by GReads! that re-caps the week's posts and has a different question each week.

This week's question - Bookish Trends: What are some bookish trends you are noticing in the literature world today? Is there a particular trend you'd like to see more of?
Here's are two trends that I am really tired of seeing:
  • Series / Trilogies - Now, I'm actually a huge fan of series. So why did I include it on my list? Well, I'm really tired of series or trilogies that don't really make sense as series or trilogies. If a story can be told in one book, I think it should be kept to one book. I feel sort of cheated (out of my money) when I find out that a book is going to be a series when it makes more sense as a stand-alone novel. I feel like some series I have started lately have been more marketing ploys to get more money, but maybe that's just my feeling. I say long live good series' but let's see the end of gimmicky ones...
  • Instant Love - This is a trend I've noticed a lot in YA (although it does exist in adult fiction, too), and it drives me crazy. If someone meets and falls in love with another character during the course of the book, I want to see a progression in their relationship. I want to be able to figure out why they fell in love. I don't have to love the character, too, but I need to know that they fell in love with the person for a reason. I hate when people just glance at each other and feel an "instant connection" or only love a character for their looks. BLEGH!
As for trends I'd like to see more of, I'm really not sure. I don't know that I really want something in particular to become trendy, per se, because that's usually when I start to get sick of things. For example, I've enjoyed reading more dystopians lately, but I worry that they will soon become overdone. 

Ultimately, I want to see more of three things in particular. Smart, well-developed characters. Gripping, entertaining plots. Gorgeous, evocative prose. 

That's not too much to ask, is it? 

March 22, 2012

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie

Release Date: November 2010
Publisher: Penguin | Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 366 pages
Source & Format: Library; Kindle ebook
Series: Matched #1
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So, when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Thoughts on Matched
In Matched, the Society is organized down to the smallest details. You're assigned the job that best matches your skill set. Your food is designed to meet your dietary and nutritional needs. If you choose to marry, you are matched to your ideal mate. Once you turn eighteen, you'll finally get to see the person you'll spend the rest of your life with at your matching banquet.

Cassia, our heroine, has looked forward to being Matched for years. She's allowed to choose her own dress from a pre-determined selection (no surprise, she chooses the one the computer predicted). Everything seems to be going perfectly when she's matched wit her best friend, Xander. She knows him personally, a rarity in Matching, and everyone is just a little bit jealous that she gets such a good Match. Trouble arises, however, when she goes to review Xander's Match information on the microchip she's given. She doesn't see Xander's face. Instead, the face of Ky Markham appears on the screen. It's this one moment that causes Cassia to second guess everything she's taught and believed to be true about the Society.

One of the things that really distinguished this book from other dystopians I've read recently is the pacing. Things progress a little more slowly, and there is a more relaxed feeling to the novel as a whole. The Society doesn't seem to be entirely evil. Although you can begin to see why Cassia questions it, it's also easy to see why she would have had absolute faith in it for so long. For some people, her parents included, it really does work. It isn't until her own Matching mistake, as well as the death of her grandfather, that she begins to have her doubts.

The book spends a lot of time on world building. And while I enjoyed reading about this world, I would have liked it better if it didn't spent quite so much time describing this world. The action really starts to happen towards the end, requiring you to pick up the second in the series to find out what happens next.

Love triangles keep popping up in the YA books I've been reading recently, and it certainly isn't my favorite literary trope. There are aspects of Cassia's relationships with both guys (Ky and Xander) that were believable and other aspects that need some more development. I did think the story favored Ky and didn't really give the reader a chance to know Xander as well. It left the "triangle" feeling a little lopsided, in my opinion.

I have slightly mixed feelings about it. If you really love dystopians, this is probably not the best one out there. But you might still enjoy it because I really did! If you don't like them, start out with something else (like Delirium) for a better introduction to this genre.

So Quotable
"Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs."

"Is falling in love with someone's story the same thing as falling in love with the person himself?"

March 21, 2012

Wednesday Wish: Ruben Toledo for Penguin Classics

Source
I have loved illustrator Ruben Toledo ever since I first saw his work in one of Nina Garcia's fashion books. And then I realized his also did a lot of illustration for Nordstrom. At that point, my love was officially sealed. When I found out he would be producing a series of covers for a few Penguin Classics, I was ecstatic. I knew I'd be in love with whatever he ended up creating. Needless to say, I'm thrilled with how they turned out! In case you haven't seen these already, you've seriously got to check them out! Oh, and they still count as a "wish" in my mind because there is one I don't own :) 

Check out these three lovelies:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

March 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring To-Be-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/Top Ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists!


1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - I've heard so many good things about this book, and I can't wait to actually get around to reading it. I really hope it lives up to all the hype.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I keep putting this book off because I can already tell I'm going to love it, and then I'll never be able to read it for the first time again. But I really need to read it soon.


3. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons - I came across this book because it was described as similar to Downton Abbey. I'm sorry but I must check out anything and everything related to my beloved Downton Abbey.

4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - This book not only sounds interesting, it was highly recommended by dead white guys. If she likes it, I have to read it!


5. Looking for Anne of Green Gables by Irene Gammel - I've had this book for almost two years, and I'm vowing that this spring will finally be the time I get around to reading it!

6. Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran - I am so excited to read this, not only because I've heard great things about it, but also because I'm excited to learn more about this subject.


7. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin - This has really mixed reviews, but I'm just so in love with the cover. I keep hoping that I end up loving it (some people have) instead of being disappointed by it (as some other people have been).

8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - How have I not read this before?! I don't know, but I'm changing that this spring.


9. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - I've seen this mentioned by a lot of bloggers recently, which has really peaked my interest in it. I'm excited to dive in!

10.  Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - I have had like three people tell me that I need to read this, and all have different reading tastes. I'm taking the hint.

March 19, 2012

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Release Date: January 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 370 pages
Source & Format: Birthday gift; Kindle e-book
Series: Everneath #1

The Summary (from Goodreads)
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned - to her old life, her family, her friends - before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for goodbyes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back - this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Thoughts on Everneath
I haven't read very much mythology, although it's something that is on my "you really need to read more of this soon" list. I was intrigued by Everneath because it's a modernized re-working of the stories of Hades & Persephone and Orpheus & Eurydice.

In this version, Nikki Beckett is sucked into the Everneath (aka Hades) as a forfeit for Cole. She spends a century being drained of her emotion, her being, to help him survive. This usually leaves the human a shell of who they once were, but Nicki survives and returns home. It's been only six months since she disappeared from the real world, and now she only has six months to say goodbye.

The book alternates between the present-day Nikki and Nikki before she went into the Everneath. It adds a mysterious quality to the book because you don't find out right away why she felt hopeless enough to want to be unable to feel. This is one of the those books where the alternating past and present tense got kind of confusing. I was having a hard time paying attention to the timeline. One of my annoyances with this book was that you're thrown into this unfamiliar world almost immediately. Without any real knowledge of the myth, a lot of the terms didn't make sense to me at first. I mean, yes, you start to pick up on things pretty quickly... but I still felt kind of confused in the first few chapters.

Also, Nicki spends most of her of six months just doing normal things. Not that I expected her to do anything really drastic, but if you only had six months to left to live you'd think that she would use her time a little more wisely.

I finished Everneath almost two weeks ago and am just now writing the review. Why? I just had such mixed feelings about it. I really enjoyed certain aspects (the writing), but wasn't as impressed with other parts (the heroine). Don't get me wrong, Nicki wasn't bad or poorly written. I just didn't really like her. And since the mythology aspect was a little odd, I think having a more enjoyable heroine would have deepened my appreciation for this book. I think she was lacking that oomph a heroine needs.

Also, there were a lot of loose ends in this book. Things weren't completely explained, which may be attributed to the fact that this is a trilogy, or they may be things that never get resolved. And I'm just not sure if I'll be continuing on with this series. If you love paranormal YA, then you'll probably really like this book. As for me, it was only just okay.

So Quotable
"I'd like you to ask yourself, Who loses hope first? And who never gives up? Because it's not the supernatural abilities that set mythical characters apart. [...] It's the decisions the human characters make, in impossible situations, that have us still talking about them centuries later. Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with."

March 18, 2012

So Quotable: Jennifer E. Smith

Source
"Even when she was old enough to read herself, they still tackled the classics together, moving from Anna Karenina to Pride and Prejudice to The Grapes of Wrath as if traveling across the globe itself, leaving holes in the bookshelves like missing teeth. And later, when it started to become clear that she cared more about soccer practice and phone privileges than Jane Austen or Walt Whitman, when the hour turned into a half hour and every night turned into every other, it no longer mattered. The stories had become a part of her by then; they stuck to her bones like a good meal, bloomed inside of her like a garden. They were as deep and meaningful as any other trait Dad had passed along to her: her blue eyes, her straw-colored hair, the sprinkling of freckles across her nose."
            - Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

March 17, 2012

Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Release Date: October 2010
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 306 pages
Source & Format: Purchased; Paperback

Summary (from Amazon)
When Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, the pretty but crazy 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen, dies suddenly, her twelve-year-old daughter CeeCee has barely a hope left in the world. To her rescue arrives Great Aunt Tootie in the most magnificent car CeeCee has ever seen, and she is whisked away to the storybook city of Savannah. For some flowers, Aunt Tootie holds, are born to bloom only south of the Mason-Dixon line and soon, among the sweet scent of magnolias and the loving warmth of Tootie and her colourful collection of friends, it looks as though CeeCee has arrived in paradise. But when a darker side to the Southern dream threatens this delicate, newfound happiness, Aunt Tootie and her friends must rally to CeeCee's aid.

Thoughts on Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
The Goodreads summary of this book describes it as "Steel Magnolias" meets "The Help." Now, let me just throw this out there: those are some mighty big comparisons. The Help is one of my favorite books, and while I don't love Steel Magnolias with the same passion, it's a really funny movie. Here is how that description affected my expectations: Southern. Funny. Moving. Women. And here's how this book didn't really live up to my expectations.

Southern. Yes, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt was certainly Southern. Set in Savannah, Georgia, this book has plenty of Southern ladies doing their best to keep the stereotype of the crazy ladies down South alive and kicking. It's not that I didn't appreciate some of the books Southerness. It's just that I couldn't connect to it because it didn't feel 100% authentic.

Funny. This book really wasn't that funny. Yes, there were a few funny scenes. However, the majority of the book was supposed to be deep and meaningful. It was kind of hard to work funny in (aside from the general comedy that tends to exist in a "Southern" novel) when so much of the book was meant to But, again, the hype didn't quite like up to the delivery.

Moving. Here's where I had my biggest problem. The book felt incredibly episodic. A really good book should flow. The story should evolve and progress naturally across the page. In Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, it feels more like this: Moment. Lesson. Moment. Lesson. Moment. Lesson... Well, you get the idea. CeeCee learns several "Big Lessons" from the wise and loving black cook. I guess my problem with the whole thing was that I don't like characters whose only role is to deliver "wisdom" and "lessons."   There were some moments where Hoffman had the opportunity for real depth. For something important to be communicated. But it felt too forced and artificial. It might have been meant to be more like a series of vignettes, but I think that was the author's intention.

Women. The book is largely focuses on women - both young and old. And while I love a good story about female friendship, many of the characters fell flat. They filled a role, but little else. No one the characters seemed real to me, which is a huge shortcoming in a book that deals with pretty serious issues (like mental illness and racial tension). 

I don't want to imply I hated this book, and I can see why it's pretty popular. But, honestly, it just didn't git the right notes for me. If you promise me The Help, you better deliver. And this book definitely didn't. 

So Quotable
"Mrs. Odell once told me that forgiveness had a whole lot more to do with the person doing the forgiving than it did with the person in need of forgiveness. She said holding on to hurt and anger made about as much sense as hitting your head with a hammer and expecting the other person to get a headache."

March 16, 2012

TGIF: Social Networking {6}


TGIF is a weekly feature created and hosted by GReads! that re-caps the week's posts and has a different question each week.

This week's question - Social Networking: Do you use Twitter or Facebook to promote your blog?  How has it benefited your book blogging experience? If not, how do you promote your blog? Share your twitter handle and/or Facebook link!
I had a Twitter account prior to starting my blog, but (in all honesty) found the whole thing very boring. Why would I want to share random updates with all my friends? What the heck am I supposed to talk about? When you spend your days working, it's not like there's very much excitement going on. 

BUT NOW.... ohmyheavens, I love Twitter! I only started my blog a few months ago, and my brand-new  Twitter account was created less than a month ago. Since then, I've realized how wonderful Twitter can be when you really connect to the blogging community at large. Forget finding new followers... I've found so many new blogs to follow! Plus, it was been crazy cool to have authors reply to me when I mention that I loved their book (in my mind, authors are totally like celebrities). And I've loved getting to talk with other bloggers! Am I gushing? Probably. But it's been a really fun way to get more familiar with the blogging community, so I'm very thankful for that.

I work with social media in my big girl job, so I haven't created a Facebook page because I'm too lazy to manage another social media account. For now, I'm content with my little Twitter. Follow me, pretty please? You'll find me at: @soobsessedblog.

And, before I forget, I'm also totally addicted to Pinterest (and if you're not addicted or not on it, you totally should be). I actually pin lots and lots bookish finds there, along with other cool stuff. You can follow me on Pinterest, too!

March 14, 2012

Wednesday Wish: Erin Bowman Dust Jackets

Y'all, I had a COMPLETELY different post planned for today's Wednesday Wish until I got on Pinterest. First of all, I'm seriously addicted to Pinterest. It's probably the biggest Internet time suck, but where else can you find so many awesome things in one place? I can't think of anywhere else! I find all kinds of lovely things there (fashion, food, decorating), including some fun bookish finds. Enter today's wish. As soon as I saw this, I had to investigate.

All images from E.M. Bowman
These absolutely adorable oh-my-gosh-I-love-them dust jackets are the work of Erin Bowman, Tracey Neithercott and Sarah Enni. Erin did all the design work, with inspiration and help from Sarah and Tracey. Hello, are these not like the cutest things everrrr? Do you know how many times I've wanted to tell people to stop trying to interrupt my reading?! Don't get me wrong... I LOVE talking books. But I don't love talking books right when I'm in the middle of one. Obnoxious. That's why these book covers are genius! The book covers do all the talking so you don't have to.

The best part? They're available as FREE downloads! AHHHHH! Be still my heart. They are separated into three sets, and you can find one set at each of the three blogs. I've included pictures of all three sets below, as well links to where you can find them, for your convenience. Go get to printing and shushing!


Set #1 - Available at E.M. Bowman's blog
  • Go Away. I'm reading.
  • Reading > Talking
  • Team Reading

Set #2 - Available at Tracey Neithercott's blog
  • Fiction > Reality
  • Shhh. I'm in book mode.
  • Silencio!

Set #3 - Available at Sarah Enni's blog
  • At Hogwarts, BRB
  • In the Arena, BRB
  • In Narnia, BRB
  • Climbing Mount Doom, BRB
  • In Forks, SEND HELP
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