December 31, 2010

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: December 2, 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 372
Review Source: Bought


Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

My Thoughts:
My whole review of this book could pretty much be summed up by saying: IT LIVES UP TO THE HYPE -- READ IT NOW!!! However, I’m going to try and be a bit more articulate about my fangirl-ish love for this book. ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ is the epitome of the perfect YA contemporary romance, so if you even half-way enjoy that genre, then run to the nearest store and pick it up! Anna and Etienne aren’t perfect characters, but that’s a good thing. They’re like real people, with both flaws and virtues. All of the characters in this book are well drawn out, in fact. No one feels like a filler character or a cliche. I dare you to read this book and not to fall in love with Etienne St. Clair or the city of Paris as described by Stephanie Perkins. This book is lovely and romantic, and it also manages to tell a great coming of age/finding yourself story in the process of weaving that swoonworthy love story. An absolute must read, this was definitely one of my favourite books that I read this year.

Rating:


Find Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

December 29, 2010

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Release Date: October 26, 2010
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 260
Review Source: Library


Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”


So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

My Thoughts:
On the surface, ‘Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares’ is an enjoyable holiday read. I would definitely recommend it to fans of books with alternating narration, especially to those who enjoyed Cohn & Levithan’s previous books. I found the first half of the book a lot easier to get through: it was more lighthearted and fun, and I loved the concept of the notebook being passed back and forth, even if the logistics of it all seemed a bit too good to be true. Then the notebook gets lost, and after that the book dragged a bit for me. The tone seemed to turn more serious and it became less about the dares and adventure, and more about Dash and Lily as serious characters examining the human condition and what relationships are. Normally I enjoy character driven books, but these characters fell flat, and my expectations of the book were completely turned around. I still enjoyed reading this book for the most part, and I think it’s a book that most people would enjoy, but in the end I didn’t really connect that much with the characters or their story.

Rating:


Find Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!



I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

I've been a little bit slack on the blog lately, but I think it will pick up again in the New Year. I have a few reviews ready, I just need to get around to posting them.

This has been an interesting, and in many ways good, year for me, and I'm so glad I decided to start blogging!

Again, Merry Christmas, and I hope your holidays are wonderful!

December 21, 2010

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan

Release Date: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Pages: 557
Review Source: Library


Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

My Thoughts:
Amazing! That’s one word I would use to describe this book. I really, really enjoyed it, and I honestly think it rivals the Percy Jackson books. Maybe I’m just so excited about it because The Red Pyramid disappointed me a little bit. ‘The Lost Hero,’ however, really lived up to, and surpassed, my expectations. If you’re a fan of the Percy Jackson series you will probably really enjoy this continuation of the story of the gods’ children and Camp Half-Blood’s involvement in the gods’ wars. I loved the mixture of new characters and familiar faces from the Percy Jackson books. The character of Piper really intrigued me, and I have to say that I connected with her a lot more than I ever did with Annabeth. Riordan uses a lot of the same plot devices over again in his books, but it always seems to work well. His books are always so rich with detail and full of fun characterizations while still being easy to read, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The new elements added to this story make everything more exciting, and I absolutely cannot WAIT for the second book in the series to come out!

Rating:


Find The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

December 18, 2010

Zombies vs. Unicorns (anthology)

Release Date: September 21, 2010
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 415
Review Source: Library


Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths—for good and evil—of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

My Thoughts:
This is a book that I think a lot of people will enjoy. The stories within it are interesting, thoughtful, and humourous. The one thing I think it could have benefited from is a conclusion, to wrap up the two arguments with some more humourous banter. At the end I kind of thought “oh, that’s it?” … I realize the “winner” of the debate is really just whichever team each reader prefers, but a little more closure would have been nice. Of course I didn’t enjoy every story, but I did read them all, and a few stick out for me. Meg Cabot’s “Princess Prettypants” was completely awesome (as if it would be anything else!) and I swear I want to read a whole novel based on its premise and those characters. The same for Diana Peterfreund’s “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn.” I mean, come on! That title? So cool, and the story was really amazing as well. I also thought the volume started off strong with “The Highest Justice” by Garth Nix.

I guess if you’ve read this anthology already (or even by reading those titles) you can tell that I’m Team Unicorn. However, I did enjoy most of the zombie stories, too. “The Children of the Revolution” by Maureen Johnson features her typical quirkiness, and it was really funny and horrifying at the same time. I also enjoyed “Bougainvillea” by Carrie Ryan. The remote setting and the horror of being overrun in that one were creepy but enjoyable. It’s also no surprise that Scott Westerfeld is on Team Zombie, and his “Inoculata” was really interesting. There were a couple stories from each Team that I didn’t really get, or I didn’t enjoy, but that’s bound to happen in an anthology. Overall I would totally recommend this book, especially to hardcore zombie or unicorn fans, or fans of these authors. A great read!

Rating:


Find Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

December 16, 2010

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Release Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 224
Review Source: Library


Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen—with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?

My Thoughts:
'Girl, Stolen' is an enjoyable thrill ride that had its quieter moments as well. April Henry has written a solid kidnapping story with the added twist of the main protagonist being blind. One the one hand, I didn’t feel like I was reading anything particularly spectacular, but I still enjoyed this book for its main characters and the interesting premise it lies on. Cheyenne, our main character, has a deep inner strength, and I definitely wanted her to succeed. The premise of the kidnapping happening by accident made it possible for me as a reader to identify a bit with Griffin, as Cheyenne did the same. I appreciated that blurry line that existed between Cheyenne feeling safe around Griffin but still being wary versus having total Stockholm syndrome. It never went totally one way, so that made for an interesting dynamic. This is a relatively short book, so it’s a bit like a whirlwind, with all kinds of crazy action, and then a quieter ending. I would definitely recommend this to fans of realistic/contemporary YA, especially those who like a bit of a grittier story with no romance to it.

Rating:


Find Girl, Stolen by April Henry on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

December 14, 2010

Future Reads (2)

Future Reads is a feature on Book Labyrinth, where I sporadically post about books coming out in the near (or not so near!) future and why I want to read them. This feature is inspired by memes and features like Waiting on Wednesday and Books to Pine For. I hope you'll discover something you want to read as well! (All title links will take you to Goodreads)

Trapped by Michael Northrop
Release Date:
January 1, 2011

It's described as "The Breakfast Club meets The Blizzard of the Century" -- how could I not want to read it? But seriously, I have a thing for books where people get snowed in, I have no clue why. So, snowed in + high school + survival? + suspense = my kind of book.




The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3) by Julie Kagawa
Release Date:
February 1, 2011

I was lucky enough to get an eARC from NetGalley, so watch for my review within the next little while. The first two books in the series hooked me in, and I couldn't wait to read this one.





Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
Release Date:
February 1, 2011

Texas? Romance? Character transformation? Yes please!! And how about that cover?? Gorgeous...








Desires of the Dead (Body Finder #2) by Kimberly Derting
Release Date:
February 15, 2011

The first book was creepy and wonderful, so I can't wait to see what this one is like. Violet's ability is so interesting to read about, plus I need more Violet & Jay in my life!





Steel by Carrie Vaughn
Release Date:
March 15, 2011

I'm pretty sure this book is going to kick some serious butt. The cover drew me in, but the synopsis sold it to me. Time travel, enchantment, and pirates = a win.







I hope you've enjoyed these future reads! What not yet released books are you looking forward to?

December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is designed to put new books on people's radars, and encourage blogger interaction

Here's what I received this week:


Netgalley:

Bought:

Giveaway:


**All links lead to Goodreads

I think I'm addicted to this meme! I love seeing what other people have received this week, and it's a lot more fun when you also share your own.

In other news, things this past week have been great, and this week to come should be awesome too. I finished my last assignment for school, so I have now officially completed my MLIS. Yesterday I went to see 'Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' with my Mom at our local theatre, and then we went out for dinner at my favourite Japanese place. Then today I went out for lunch with my Dad, his girlfriend, and my grandparents and went to their house for our Christmas celebration. Tomorrow I'm heading to my best friend's place for the week to visit. So all and all, very cool!

Oh, and did I mention? I'm 3 followers away from 100! How exciting is that? Hope everyone else has had a great weekend, as well.

December 11, 2010

Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Release Date: September 16, 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 208
Review Source: Library


Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

Told in spare, powerful prose by acclaimed author Elizabeth Scott, this tale of a dystopian near future will haunt readers long after they've reached the final page.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely love Elizabeth Scott’s contemporary/realistic books, so I was very excited to pick this one up. In the end, however, I was left a little confused. The book is very short, which I think is probably a good thing, because the narrative was quite poetic and meandering. I’m not totally sure how I feel about this book. Overall, it was good, but nothing especially unique or amazing. I felt thrown into a world that had a culture and background which I could recognize parts of, but not all of it.

I would have liked there to be a bit more background at the beginning of ‘Grace’ instead of having to read between the lines and think so hard about the political and cultural implications of what Scott was writing about. I think this is just my preference, so a lot of people might enjoy the slower feel and thinking necessary to fully understand the message of the book. Overall, this was an interesting book, and a worthwhile read, I think, but it felt more like a philosophical case study (an enjoyable one, none the less) than a novel.

Rating:


Find Grace by Elizabeth Scott on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

December 8, 2010

Top 100 YA Novels

I saw this list on The Bookish Type, and I thought it might be fun to fill out the meme and see how many of these books I've read. The list comes from a huge undertaking on Persnickety Snark, where readers voted for their Top 10 YA picks.

Without further ado, here are my results...

I have read books in bold.
I own books in italics.
I intend to read underlined books in the near future.
*** indicates favourites

1. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins ***
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling ***
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
4. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
5. Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass), Philip Pullman
6. The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen ***
7. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
8. The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton
9. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

10. This Lullaby, Sarah Dessen ***
11. Looking for Alaska, John Green
12. Just Listen, Sarah Dessen ***
13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling ***
14. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
15. City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
16. On the Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta
17. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling ***
19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

20. Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen ***
21. Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater
22. Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead
23. Graceling, Kristin Cashore
24. Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
25. Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty
26. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
27. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
28. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
29. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling ***

30. Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
31. A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
32. Tomorrow, When the War Began, John Marsden
33. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart ***
34. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
35. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
36. Paper Towns, John Green
37. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling ***
38. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins ***
39. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith

40. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
41. Lock and Key, Sarah Dessen
42. The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
43. Evernight, Claudia Gray
44. Sabriel, Garth Nix
45. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling ***
46. Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
47. Forever, Judy Blume
48. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
49. Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine

50. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
51. Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli
52. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
53. The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper
54. Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick
55. Saving Francesca, Melina Marchetta
56. Second Helpings, Megan McCafferty
57. Dreamland, Sarah Dessen
58. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer
59. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan

60. Fire, Kristin Cashore
61. The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
62. Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block
63. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
64. Looking for Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta
65. How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
66. City of Glass, Cassandra Clare
67. Keeping the Moon, Sarah Dessen ***
68. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer
69. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison


70. If I Stay, Gayle Forman
71. The King of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner
72. Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson
73. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, Robin McKinley
74. The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
75. Feed, M.T. Anderson
76. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Ann Brashares
77. Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
78. Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr
79. Lord of the Flies, William Golding

80. Someone Like You, Sarah Dessen
81. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
82. Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Paterson
83. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
84. Poison Study, Maria V. Snyder
85. Shadow Kiss, Richelle Mead
86. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi
87. An Abundance of Katherines, John Green
88. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
89. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L’Engle

90. Glass Houses, Rachel Caine
91. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I:The Pox Party, M.T. Anderson
92. Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
93. Whale Talk, Chris Crutcher
94. Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles
95. Going Too Far, Jennifer Echols
96. The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks
97. Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
98. Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
99. The Pigman, Paul Zindel
100. The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley

MY TOTALS:
Read = 46
Owned = 31
Intend to Read = 14

It's interesting to see the results of such a huge poll and see how many of them I have read, or ones I've heard of but don't intend to read.

Let me know if you fill this out -- I'd love to see which ones you've read!

Elixir by Hilary Duff (& Elise Allen)

Release Date: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Pages: 327
Review Source: Library


Synopsis: (from Amazon.ca)
Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.

My Thoughts:
I wanted to like this book, because, I have to say, I really like Hilary Duff. Unfortunately I basically had to force myself to finish it. At the end I was definitely just skimming, and I won’t be picking up the sequel. At the beginning I found ‘Elixir’ quite intriguing, and I liked Clea, even if I didn’t quite understand why she was so famous. The characters weren’t anything special, but the book was enjoyable enough. And then Sage entered the story, and everything fell apart for me. As far as I’m concerned he had no redeeming qualities, no reasons for Clea to fall in love with him. I’m not a fan of past-lives predestined love stories, and nothing about this plot-line convinced me of the story’s merit.

It felt like there was no time for Clea and Sage to get to know each other: Clea simply loved him because he was good looking and because of her dreams. Everything felt drawn out and boring toward the end, even though it was supposed to be the exciting climax. I hate it when I don’t care about the characters or what happens to them, and that’s what I felt with this one. Perhaps people who really like paranormal romance stories with soulmates and predestined love would enjoy this one, but it definitely wasn’t something for me.

Rating:


Find Elixir by Hilary Duff (& Elise Allen) on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.ca

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