Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

RUN, don't walk, to the nearest copy of Partials by Dan Wells. This book is great!!
Partials (Partials, #1)
Partials is set in the near future. America's engineered robot-warrior soldiers--called Partials--have turned on the government. During the uprising, a weaponized plague released by the Partials all but extinguished human life. The remaining tiny immune population gathered on Long Island.  No baby has lived in 11 years- the RM disease kills within days. Human kind is on the edge of extinction. Some have accepted the control of the Senate, others live outside the protection of East Meadows, and the Voice is trying to over throw the government in response to the Hope laws which mandate pregnancy for women 18 years old and up. Determined to find a cure our girl Kira and her friends engineer a dangerous and treasonous trip into enemy territory. The resulting political intrigue and research is a race against time to discover the key to survival. Kira's research makes her question the government she lives under, the stories she was told about the war's origin, and her own identity.
  • Originality: 8. A great dystopian world. And sci-fi. SCORE!
  • Absurdity: 4. The government is complex and the mission Kira and her friends go on feels realistic in its gritty detail.  I had trouble following Kira's genetic experiments, but I accepted them since they sounded complicated. (This is the exact same way I accepted the movie Inception). A ridiculous response? probably. But at least I wasn't rolling my eyes at the 16 year old scientist extraordinaire. ALSO on the absurdity scale, the shoot-outs from Kira et. all: I thought Whhhhaaaattt how is everyone a Rambo?!? But by page 300 I was hooked and I didn't care if this was absurd.
  • Level of Paranormal (??) Romance: 3. We are left unsure of Kira's status with Marcus, her boyfriend (who was good for a few laughs) BUT keep your eyes on the prize: SAMM (yes, two m's). Who cares if he is a robot? He is hunky and mysterious.
  • Level of Harry-Potter-ness: 5. The writing in this book is basic--action is the number one priority. But Partials also asks big questions about what type of person you would be in the face of hopelessness and WHAT humanity and humanness means in a where humans are the minority. 
PS - did this make anyone else think of Cinder? Medical research, robots, looming war....
PPS - BEST PART= jungle animals in lower Manhattan.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)It is a short week this week. Huzzah! It is already time for Waiting on Wednesday, a feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases. Encore Huzzah!

This week my WoW is Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, the sequel to the epic/crazy A Discovery of Witches. (Check out Crazy Camper's review here.) This is not YA, but let me tell you, Harkness packs in the usual suspects--magical powers, insta-love, and cursed lovers,  PLUS a healthy dose of French chateaus, yoga, and red wine. What is not to like?

Diana Bishop,Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont discovered a magical manuscript known as Ashmole 782 and found themselves in a battle to unlock it's secrets in book one. In Shadow of Night the two love birds travel back in time to Elizabethan London. Diana looks to learn more about her magic and Matthew is forced to confront his past  while the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

This book is part of a trend: shadows and night and blood (oh my!). My brain keeps trying to mix it up with Shadow and Bone by 
The Book of Blood and ShadowShadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy, #1)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Dearly, Departed: A Zombie Novel by Lia Habel


500 pages of YA Fiction goodness, paranormal (dead?) romance and apocalypse amazingness. I think that Lia Habel and I would get along famously (and not just because she's in her twenties and lives in Upstate New York - shout out, Syracuse!).

 Love can never die. Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? 

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

So basically, in the future, they revert to Victorian traditionalism because it was the Gilded Age and everyone was proper and prosperous. Girls dress in fancy Victorian garb and ride around in electric carriages. Entire neighborhoods are built underground (can't really remember the reasoning, other than, hey, it's the future!) and a zombie virus has started to infect bordering nations to New Victoria.

Though the government has tried to both contain and cover-up the outbreak, it's quickly spiraling out of control and Nora (our lovely, brave, smart protagonist) has been taking from her home to a secret military compound for protection under the gentle care of (gasp) good zombies!

Now, to be clear, in New Victoria there are both good and bad zombies - and Bram, Nora's eventual love interest, is the best of the best. He so sweet he actually had me thinking that I could maybe go for a good zombie if the world came to an end (we would probably have to stop at holding hands though, let's be real).
  • Originality: I'd give this an 8 - this is not your typical zombie novel and it's really, really well written. Miss Habel is a fabulous addition to the YAF genre.
  • Absurdity: There's a bit of belief-suspension that inevitably takes place when you're talking about good vs. bad zombies and people running around in Victorian garb in about 200 years. Don't worry, friends, cell phones are still prevalent is post-Apocalyptic South America. 7!
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 7 - this is sweet, lovely young adult romance. Nothing too major, but adorbs all over the place. I heart Bram!
  • Level of Harry Potter-ness: I'm going to give it up for Lia, I'll give this a 8.5. She's a great writer and she really spins her tale. This is an extremely well written book! 
I do believe there is some type of sequel in the works and I'm pumped to read it. Get this book!
On to the next ...

Top Ten Tuesday: Future Favorites

Hello and happy TTT! Hope you all had great long weekends. Goosie Mama and I went to RI, got tans (errrr sunburns), and got our digital readers VERY sandy.  Crazy Camper was off camping and loving nature/rocks/plants, so we have not yet heard of her escapades, but hope they were epic!
The Sky is Everywhere

On to the TTT, hosted by the awesome The Broke and the Bookish. This week's TT books written in the past ten years you hope people are still reading in the next 30 years was hard, but I am giving it the 'ole college try! This is an abbreviated list: what makes a timeless read (besides critical acclaim)? For example, the critics loved Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, but Goosie Mama found it unappealing (see her hilarious review). 

1The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. OBVI. I will fall off my chair if this doesn't win a major award.
2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stievfvater. It already feels timeless! (review)
3. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. (my glowing review). I love the lyrical quality of this book.
4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (WHOA adult lit. We have it in us to read "important" fiction). Scary and sparse and gripping
5. The Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larsson. Cultural phenomenon. Done and done. (The same could be said for Twilight or Hunger Games series). I chose the third of these over 4th of July fireworks last summer. No joke.
6.  by 

Share your TTT and help us identify classics in the making!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: The Marriage Pact by M.J. Pullen

Okay, before we get all judgy on why I even picked up (read: downloaded) this book in the first place, you have to understand that sometimes the NYPL e-books come fast and furious (I think I have 8 checked out currently?) and sometimes there is a serious drought. Case in point, I had finished up my queue and being an Amazon Prime member (yes, yes, I know I'm putting the local, independently owned bookstores out of business, but I die for free 2 day shipping on dog toys) and started running through the Kindle Members Lending Library (it's tepid, at best).

Anyways, I initially was (very, very) confused and thought this was The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (sometimes, I do the Cliff Notes version of life), so faster than you could say Justin Bieber, this book was in my Kindle and I couldn't borrow any more books until June. Dang.

The synopsis was every terrible chick flick you could conjure:

Marci Thompson always knew what life would be like by her 30th birthday. A large but cozy suburban home shared with a charming husband and two brilliant children. A celebrated career as an established writer, complete with wall-to-wall mahogany shelves and a summer book tour. A life full of adventure with her friends and family by her side.

Instead, Marci lives alone in 480 square feet of converted motel space next to a punk rock band, hundreds of miles from her friends and family. She works in a temporary accounting assignment that has somehow stretched from two weeks into nine months. And the only bright spot in her life, not to mention the only sex she’s had in two years, is an illicit affair with her married boss, Doug. Thirty is not at all what it is cracked up to be.

Then the reappearance of a cocktail napkin she hasn’t seen in a decade opens a long-forgotten door, and Marci’s life gets complicated, fast. The lines between right and wrong, fantasy and reality, heartache and happiness are all about to get very blurry, as Marci faces the most difficult choices of her life.

Yep, this book was a train wreck that I somehow felt guilted into finishing because I had been so flippant about downloading it. 

But, basically, I think I've come to several Life Conclusions based on reading this "book":
  1. Do not, under any circumstances, date your boss. Gross and conflict of interest doesn't even begin to describe it.
  2. Do not date creepy, insistent business men (yeah, I'm currently struggling through 50 Shades of Grey and this is becoming a theme).
  3. Do not break up other people's marriage.
  4. Do not think 30 is over the hill and past your prime so that you settle into a loveless marriage because you don't think you have other options.
  5. Always, always download the newest Katy Perry song before you go running.
Oh, shoot. I guess that last observation was a personal musing, but a truism nonetheless.

This one was not really worth rating on our typically YA scale, because (alas) this was not YA Fiction - it was Dumb Adult Fiction. That being said, I'm in Rhode Island, so I'm using the Ghost Hunters sign off: On to the next!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Cross my Heart by Sasha Gold

Cross my Heart by Sasha Gold is historical fiction. I guess I knew this when it came out this spring, but I waited for it from the library for a long time. By the time I downloaded it, I had forgotten. If you read library books on a Nook like me, there are no back blurbs for memory refreshing. Now that I have finished it, I am not sure WHY I wanted to read it. (Maybe historical fiction is not my thing. OPPS.)

Cross My Heart
Hey, at least this mask makes sense for
the story. I just don't know if they
 had bedazzlers in Renaissance Venice.
Cross my Heart follows 16 year-old Lara della Scala as she is removed from the convent she hates to replace her dead sister, Beatrice, as fiance to the rich merchant Vincenzo. Not only is Laura devestated by the loss of her sister, Vincenzo is as old as time and sexually aggressive. I CANNOT THINK OF ANYTHING MORE REPULSIVE. To avoid this fate Laura trades a secret she learned in the convent for access to the Segreta, a female secret society that controls Venice. They deal in secrets and you do not want to cross them. Laura escapes a future with Vincenzo but she also comes to suspect that her sister's death was more than an accident--and that the Segreta might have been involved.

  • Originality: 4. A standard secret-society murder mystery. There were some plot twists I didn't see coming, but I never felt caught up in the mystery.
  • Absurdity: 7. Laura is a nun one second, and a beautiful, secret-society-joining, falling-in-love young woman the next. HELLO, wouldn't there be a bit of a transition period? Please refer to The Sound of Music. These things take time.
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 5. Ahh, yes, insta-love. Flavored by hunky Italian Renaissance painters. And ex-nuns. I guess Roberto is  dreamy, but I was not convinced. 
  • Level of Harry-Potterness: 3. This is the real reason I didn't like this book. The 'historical fiction' dialogue seemed forced and silly. I can deal with magicians, but apparently I draw the line at historical fiction repartee. DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED on The Gathering Storm. Vampires AND historical Russia? Ugh. (Yes, I actually read this. For shame.) 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Warrior Edition, In Two Parts

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, #3)
Thank god for my Nook and hidden
book covers
This week's Waiting on Wednesday comes in two parts! 

Part One: The mostly-ridiculous-Greek warrior variety
Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
 More freaky things are in store for our girl Gwen Frost. She is the target of the Reapers of Chaos, the people who murdered her mom and want to unleash chaos on the world. All they need is a powerful artifact that her mom hid. It is a race between the good guys and the bad guys to find it! This is the third book in the Mythos Academy. Book two, which centers on a school ski-trip was boilerplate and reminded me a bit of when the Baby Sitters Club went on a ski field trip (anybody??) Whatevs, I am still intrigued.

Part Two: The more bad-ass-fantasy warrior variety
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
I know I am a bit slow on WoW for Bitterblue. But my library doesn't have it yet, so I am waiting on it still. Anyways, first I MUST READ Fire, book 2 in the Graceling Realm series, so I can read Bitterblue. I believe in reading books in order! And while I didn’t love Graceling, I really did love Bitterblue as a character (see my review). I expect to want to be her friend.

Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart was not what I thought it would be. It is NOTa zany caper book in which the boys are outsmarted by the cute girl and people fall in happily-ever-after (high school) love. 
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks 
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club. Her father’s “bunny rabbit.” A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer. Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society. Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew’s lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind. (Good Reads)

Frankie sets out to take down the secret order of the Basset Hounds, her boyfriend’s secret-bro-fest. I like that Frankie rallies against the people who only see her as an adorable, young girl,  people who like her best when she needs help or when her boyfriend can set the boundaries and make the rules.  She is sick of being underestimated by friends, boys, even her family. Good to hear. BUT I found it depressing that EVERYONE underestimated her. I wanted more for Frankie. And the ending? I want a guarantee that she will continue to kick butt. 

Originality: 7. High-school pranks are as old as they come, but I really liked Frankie as a character so points for her to waking up hot one day and taking it in stride (yaaa for anti-wimps).
Absurdity: 4. Hello, fraternity boys. They are this ridic sometimes (and they are this BFF-y too.) So I think this really worked for me. I liked how Lockhart included the emails that Frankie wrote/receive. It made her masterminding seem real.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 2. TOXIC relationship. These boys are NOT keepers.
Level of Harry-Potter-ness: 6. I really liked the narrative tone. I have not read anything like this before--it is snarky and self-aware and, at its best, defiant.  

I leave you with my favorite line:
 Her ex boyfriend writes “ Frankie, what’s up? Hope your term is going well so far. I want to apologize for what happened with Bess last year” and she responds “you mean, you want to apologize, or you are apologizing? Your grammar is indistinct.”
 SLAM! Grammar insults!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Library Updates

Yesterday, I went for a run. It ended at my neighborhood library. I picked up  Starters by Lissa Price and A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton. Success! 

Waiting to check out, the girl in front of me (in her school uniform) was trying to explain a book to the librarian, who was searching the database. She explained it had a "circle with a flame in the middle" and the librarian mumbled "mumble, Roth, mumble." I came to the rescue!! I asked "Are you looking for Divergent?" "YES!" said the little girl. I told her how good it was and recommended she get a hold on Insurgent while she was at it, since it was so popular. She took my advice, OBVS.

YAF and WS, changing the world one YA reader at a time! HAPPY FRIDAY PEOPLE.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse, #12)
FRIENDS I am not sure how I feel about Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris. To start, lets recap the 12th installment of the Sookie Stackhouse crazy-fest:

With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank. Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down. (Good Reads)
  •  Level of Originality: 2. It is hard to review a book that is so far along in a series for originality--so much ground has been covered! It is even harder with Deadlocked because there is not much to the plot. What mystery was at the center of the book? The dead person on Eric’s lawn, or the missing Fangtasia employees, or the fact that someone is after Sookie’s antiques? (ya, that is about as boring as it sounds). Book #12 does not stand out.
  • Level of Absurdity: 2 or 10 (depending on how you feel about this series). I give this a 2 since no NEW paranormal species are introduced in Deadlocked. But if you have not accepted the witch-fairy-vamp-shifter mixing, this is a 10.
  • Level of Paranormal Romance:  3. Eric was not as awesome as he usually is and SHOULD be. I mean, if I like Bill more than Eric, you know there is a problem. Because Bill is 90% made of boring.  CHARLAINE HARRIS DO NOT RUIN THE AWESOME THAT IS ERIC.  Please realize that you have been warned.  
  • Level of Harry-Potterness: 2. I was not taken with Deadlocked. I was delighted by the first couple of these books. But in the end, I still love Sooks. She is strong-minded. She  unwinds with a clean house, sunbathing, and doing a bit of nothing alone--I wish I had a cool old farmhouse somewhere in the woods to do this, too. But this plot really dragged. AND can Sam get a normal, good girlfriend for once?!
The best part: for Sookie’s birthday the vamps stopped by and Eric said:
“And I suppose as usual, Bill will want to express his undying love that surpasses my love, as he'll tell you--and Pam will want to say something sarcastic and nearly painful, while reminding you that she loves you too." 
MORE OF THIS, please.
Breaking News! Dead Ever After, the 13th book, due out in 2013, will be the last! (Vulture)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars
soooo preetttyyyy
Hello and happy Waiting on Wednesday! Hosted by Breaking the Spine, WoW is a weekly meme dedicated to books we can’t wait to read. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund fits with my apocalyptic-YA run (with perhaps more romance than Partials by Dan Wells.) And I am intrigued/terrified by an apocalyptic Persuasion retelling.

“Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.” (Good Reads)

What is your Waiting on Wednesday?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Had a Hard Time Finishing

Hello, Top Ten Tuesday land! Today I am going to opt for the "freebie" TTT.  I could follow the prompt of Top Ten Authors I Would Like to See on a Reality Show. But lets be serious, you can probably guess it would be David Leviathan, Maureen Johnson, and John and Hank Green (I am grandfathering Hank in here). But I basically already watch this show via the Vlogbrothers/Crash Course via YouTube. (SEE the video below. Did you know there was a YA lit prom? Now we all do! dftba!)

So instead I am opting for the "freebie" theme and sharing a list of books I had a TON of trouble finishing. I have wanted to do this for a while, because I want to know if any of these are worth getting back to! So share your wisdom.
RippleWhy We Broke Up   Jasper Jones
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Gilvey and Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (with beautiful illustrations by  both won Printz awards. Why can't I get into these books? Is my brain broken?
  •  Froi of the Exiles by the awesome 
  • Goosie Mama reviewed and liked Hollowland by Amanda Hocking, but I could not get into her book Switched (the first in Trylle Trilogy). I returned it to the library after 50 pages. Trolls? Mehhh....
  • AND IN AN EPIC FINALE OF A BOOK THAT DOESN'T DESERVE TO BE FINISHED: Ripple by Mandy Hubbard. I am ashamed of this. It was late, it looked alright--sirens and all--but I   couldn't bring myself to finish it. It is cring-inducing. Do you ever just give up?

Monday, May 14, 2012

OMG....Jersey book edition

Jersey Angel

It is about a high schooler named Angel who lives on the Shore and has no plans yet for her life and gets the hots for her best friend's BF...and the ensuing summer fun.....

Heeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Jersey Angel.

I think a part of my soul just died. Or ran off to GTL. As my man Joe Conrad is known to write, "the horror, the horror......."

Please, book blog world, read this and get back to us here at YAF and WS on what happens when The Jersey Shore and YA combine. Take one for the team!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely, #1)So here is the deal with Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr:

In post-industrial Pennsylvania the forces of Summer and Winter are at war (wait, what are they doing there!? moving on…). Two faery courts have been searching for the Summer Queen for more than nine centuries--one to restore the power of Summer and the other to banish it. Summer Prince Keenan needs to find a queen to vanquish Winter, his  nasty mother. He has picked the wrong girl before and watched them fall to the wrong-girl-curse (See Donia, who is trapped as a ward of winter until Keenan finds true love. Talk about bitter).  Keenan sets his sights on Aislinn, who is able to see the faeries that hide all around unknowing mortals—faeries who are often ugly, violent, and promiscuous. She has spent her life pretending to NOT see faeries and does NOT want to get involved. The story follows Keenan’s attempts to woo Aislinn and a showdown with Winter. It is more complicated than this, but you get the gist.

Wicked Lovely was not my favorite read. So why did I finish this book, you ask? Because of the love interest, the tattooed and pierced Seth. Now you might not first recognize the hunky-ness of this goth-emo guy, but let me tell YOU. This response is crazy if you know me. "“She stood in his kitchen, watching him toy with the ring in his lip." SERIOUSLY!?! But I can't deny it. Seth is certainly swoon worthy. (And he is a good friend. WINNING). I am going to go hunt down more YA with tattooed men.
  • Originality: 4. There are a number of interpretations of the Winter versus Summer court out there in YA land, and I find it confusing when the myths are so muddled from book to book (Maybe I should stop with the faeries).  On the positive side I liked the alternating points of view and Donia was an interesting character. She was a literal warning against falling for the wrong fairy prince. We could use more of that, no?
  • Absurdity: 75. Everyone knows not to drink Faery wine by now. Let’s be real.
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: I give a 4 to the Para part- since Keenan feels a bit boilerplate, but a FULL 9 goes to Seth. He isn’t paranormal, but did I mention he is out of high school? Points for adult characters.
  • Level of Harry-Potter-ness:  4. This is straight middle of the road YA fiction. I might get around to finishing the series one day if the book is in at the library. But I will not throw elbows to get it. And I am taking a trial separation from all things Fairy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.” (Good Reads)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is unlike anything I have read. The world it creates is surreal and  a bit voyeuristic. The present-tense narration juxtaposed by the short descriptive sections that describe how you, the reader, would experience the circus make it stand out, and emphasize how focused Morgenstern is on making the circus tangible. This is a book I would like to read again, so I can linger and enjoy more of the visuals that Morgenstern so masterfully paints.

Originality: 10. This is fantastical and fantastically unique. The possibilities are endless since each tent is a world unto itself. My favorite is the tent that is really a forest made out of paper, wherein the paper is sheets of love poems.
Absurdity. 8. But the circus is supposed to be surreal, so this is a sign, I think, that the book did what Morgenstern set out to do. I suspended belief and dove right in.
Level of Paranormal Romance: Dueling magicians falling in love? And then using the circus tents they build to express their love? SURE THING.
“Do you remember all of your audiences?" Marco asks. "Not all of them," Celia says. "But I remember the people who look at me the way you do.""What way might that be?""As though they cannot decide if they are afraid of me or they want to kiss me."" I am not afraid of you," Marco says.” 
 Level of Harry Potterness: 8. This writing! Wow! It is rich and enchanting (as fitting a book about magic). One thing my mom pointed out (my mom lets me foist books I like on her all the time. Moms are great) is that you don’t really ever connect to the characters. The main show (circus pun!?) is about the tents themselves and the visual spectacle. I was fine with this, but it might not be for everyone. I still give this an 8 because I love Morgenstern's atmospheric writing- see the posts on her blog, Flax-Golden Tales. MY FAVORITE AFTER THE BREAK.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Before I Wake by Rachel Vincent

I am fully aware that this is a YA-trope-tastic cover.
And I don't care!
This week's Waiting in Wednesday is devoted to the 6th book in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. In case you missed it, I had a fling with this series in January--it inspired the Crusin' Through a Series feature here at YAF and WS--(see here for why I'm not sorry to have read an entire slightly ridic series about banshees).  Before I Wake comes out June 26th! 

I died on a Thursday-killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul. The good news? He didn't get it. The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school...  Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent "recovering," she's back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend. But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won't keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn't just gambling with her own life....(Good Reads).

Why do I want to read this book? 1. I was impressed that Vincent managed to trick me into actually changing alliances between certain brothers.......(I usually stand on the side of NOT making eyes at your boyfriend's brother).  Which leads me to reason 2: Tod.  I have a crush on this pizza-delivery-boy-grim-reaper. I mean, he casually quotes Dylan Thomas. And he is sarcastic. How great was the high school hallway showdown in book 5!? I GASPED!  Bring on the witty grim-reaper banter!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Quotes

Hello Internet on this Glorious Top Ten Tuesday! This weekend, while consuming tasty bratwursts, truffle-oil drenched fries and white wine (well, we tried, but then gave into canned beverages, we were in Brooklyn after all) Goosie Mama*, Grad Student and I came up with the following list of Top Ten Favorite Quotes

*Goosie Mama was there, but in all seriousness, perhaps she was just playing Jenga and scampering around....

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
"A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world."
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,Till she cry "Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!"
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
"Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break....I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun."
How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford
"The whole summer stretched out before us, long, hot, endless."
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
"I was blind and heart broken and didn't want to do anything and Gus burst into my room and shouted, "I have wonderful news!" And I was like, "I don't really want to hear wonderful news right now," and Gus said, "This is wonderful news you want to hear," and I asked him, "Fine, what is it?" and he said, "You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!""
"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book."
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
"It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (the Whale)
"Ahhh! Woooh! What's happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What's my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my... well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Lets call it a... tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what's this roaring sound, whooshing past what I'm suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It'll do. Yeah, this is really exciting. I'm dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There's an awful lot of that now isn't it? And what's this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! That's it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me? Hello, Ground!  [Cuts to a distant view as the whale hits the ground and spews up a large mushroom cloud of snow]"
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
"My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other."
Thank you, internet, for the Well Read Ryan Gosling tumblr

(Notes from Grad Student: I love funny quotes, but none made the list. Honorable mention to Jellicoe Road, which I wanted to have quotes from, but couldn’t pick from all the awesome. AND GEEZ the whale makes me sad from the Hitchhiker's Guide...)

And to leave you with a Hey Girl Jack Kerouac  quote edition...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Paper TownsMargo Roth Spiegelman is smart, beautiful, a bit reckless, and, as we learn in Paper Towns, mysterious and lost. One night at the end of high school she wakes her band-geek neigbhor Quentin Jacobsen for an epic campaign of revenge.  Q has loved Margo from afar most of his life, and this night is magic (and full of mayhem). But after an night of rule-breaking Margo disappears, and no one seems to know who the real Margo really was or where she could be.  It appears she left clues for Quentin--so he sets out on a wild ride to track her down.

John Green's Paper Towns is a more serious read than the 'crazy high school prank' opening lets on. It asks important questions about how we perceive others and how hard it is to truly know someone when they are still trying to figure themselves out. It is a lovely portrayal of the bittersweet experiences at the end of high school, and one of my favorite depictions of friendship I have read in a long time. Radar and Ben are EXCELLENT wingmen. I would absolutely love to join them on an epic road-trip.
  • Originality: 9.  LEGIT. The characters seem so real with their quirks and trials and tribulations of senior band-geek boys. Also, (and probably more importantly) how can you not find a book based around a Walt Whitman poem and quirky historical map features original?
  • Absurdity: 5. NOW you may think this is a high rating for a contemporary fiction book. And this 5 does not even reflect the fact (that people sometimes complain about with Green's books) that in real life high schoolers don't run around talking like well-read adults or thinking big thoughts. But I am cool with that part of this book. It is a nice fantasy. This absurdity rating goes to the fact that I didn't buy the fact that Margo Roth Spiegelman was so fascinating. She came off a bit selfish and desperate (it made sense that I felt this, since Green has mentioned Into the Wild an influence--I find that character very selfish). MEANWHILE, I LOVED Q. Now I know selfish characters can serve a purpose. But here, I was not convinced that Q would be so dedicated to the "find Margo" cause. This might be a discussion about the person Q hopes to find in Margo versus who she actaully is and why that matters to the book's larger themes.....but this is not class! moving on!
  • Level of Paranormal Romance: 3. Q talks about love  but this is not that kind of a book (Margo is missing. It is hard to cuddle a missing person).
  • Level of Harry-Potterness: 9. This book is witty, smart, and lyrical.  It also has literary chops. Symbolism, metaphor, references to great literary works ( it hinges on Whitman's epic poem Leaves of Grass, for goodness sake!) I wish I had read it at a slower speed.  If you want to find out more, AKA the meaning of the "great white cow" see Green's "Questions about Paper Towns."
PS: JOHN GREEN IS A-ONE. I'm a fan of how he can be hilarious AND smart in a single sentence.  If you need further proof of the funniness, watch this. DFTBA!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Summing Up a Genre

I've been cranking through some young adult and some dumb adult fiction recently (yes, there will be a post on this). While some are better than others, the premises all remain pretty similar. Young, female heroine, doesn't realize she's beautiful/talented/special/amazing, etc., she falls for some strikingly dashing man boy and let the relationship/life drama commence.

Hand in hand with this, I think I've figured out the success of One Direction's current hit "What Makes You Beautiful." It's literally the premise for every single young adult fiction book I've read in 2012!

Happy almost Cinco de Mayo!

Friday Library Updates

I arrived at my parent's house on Wednesday and my Mom was all, "Hi hunnie, I saw the new Sookie  Stackhouse at the library, so I picked it up for you." And I said, "Gee, thanks!" Then I came into the kitchen to this:
MOM IS AWESOME. Then I turned the books over and almost died: 

I followed her around the kitchen holding this to my face pretending to be Charlaine, but she would not participate (we could BOTH do it with our Mommy and Me books). Moral of the story, Mom didn't want to have to fight me for Deadlocked. 'Cause shiz would have gotten real fast. I told Crazy Camper, and this is the g-chat conversation that followed:

 Crazy Camper:  can you finish it so i can take it home? [CC comes to NYC this weekend. Huzzah!]
 me:  its a lib book
 Crazy Camper:  SOUL CRUSHING
i could mail it back?
 me:  7 day loan- sorry to be a dream crusher
 Crazy Camper:  library book woes

Meanwhile in Insurgent library news.... Goosie Mama needs to GET HER ACT TOGETHER because I am #130 on the list* to get Insurgent  by Veronica Roth from the NYPL. And that list is not getting any shorter. Goosie Mama is a much bigger fan than me. What is she thinking!?!
(Note: We are hoping the library buys like 80 more copies of this book. They do that sometimes, because libraries are awesome.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: Nightspell by Leah Cypess

Nightspell (Mistwood, #2)
Here be ghosts, the maps said, and that was all. In this haunted kingdom, ghosts linger—not just in the deepest forests or the darkest caverns, but alongside the living, as part of a twisted palace court that revels all night and sleeps through the daylight hours. Darri’s sister was trapped in this place of fear and shadows as a child. And now Darri has a chance to save her sister... if she agrees to a betrothal with the prince of the dead. But nothing is simple in this eerie kingdom—not her sister, who has changed beyond recognition; not her plan, which will be thrown off track almost at once; and not the undead prince, who seems more alive than anyone else. In a court seething with the desire for vengeance, Darri holds the key to the balance between life and death. Can her warrior heart withstand the most wrenching choice of all? (Good Reads)

I picked up Nightspell by Leah Cypess 1. Because it had a pretty cover; 2. It was available for immediate download--it was late, I had a free moment, and needed something to read (I am SUCH the intellectual when it comes to book choices). I liked this book, but was surprised that so much of it was about the politicking of the royal court of Ghostland. Since everyone lives forever as ghosts, there are lots of layers of intrigue and relationships that shape the story.  The action parts were the best part, but I was intrigued AND repulsed by the politics of this world, which I think is exactly what Cypess wants.

Originality: 8. A country of ghosts is not something you see everyday. The hint of the smell of decay behind perfume, the attempts to pretend life still exists were creepy and made Ghostland exotic in a way that drew you in.
Absurdity: 2. This was a bit creepy, but I did not find it ridiculous at all.  It is fantasy, you just need to roll with it. I find I more willingly accept fantasy books than the “wake up one day and realize there is a paranormal world out there and you are crucially important to it” story line.
Level of Paranormal Romance: 3. The big story here is not really about Prince Kestin and Darri (although the prince is a rather well-drawn character, he has his flaws but is kind and has definitely learned from past mistakes in love. This is important since that past love literally haunts him. Since it is a country of ghosts. Ouch). The rather small potential for romance is not as important as Darri’s relationship with her sister.
Level of Harry-Potter-ness: 6. The world-building here is detailed and atmospheric. And the ending? Surprisingly bittersweet. 

If you want a book that functions as a stand-alone, check this one out. I would have liked to spend more time in this world.