Tuesday, September 30, 2014

REVIEW: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: August 21, 2014
358 pages
Source: Library

Rating: 

Description: The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.


My Review: I am a little conflicted about The Jewel. I very much enjoyed most of the story, and the style and worldbuilding were fantastic. The characters seemed deeply human.

I felt that the beginning of the story was wonderfully handled. I was intrigued by the surrogates and Southgate, and by the descriptions of the Lone City. Violet and her friends seemed to be managing their situation fairly well. (Some a little more so than others, but hey.)

Violet goes to auction and is purchased by a very important Duchess, and her life in the Duchess's (palace, do they call it? i think they call it a palace) is fascinating and deeply disturbing. The whole "consent optional" thing with the surrogates is disgusting to begin with, but the doctor visits and information revealed later take the story and throw it off the edge of the "futuristic" cliff it was teetering on deep into the dystopia cavern. I lovelovelove the story UNTIL...

INSTA-LOVE.

Curses. It's really the book's fatal flaw. Of course, there are a few other minor things that bother me, mostly continuity-wise, but the blade of the guillotine is by FAR the love story.

Given more time, I would easily have accepted it. Their first meeting is promising, to be sure, and their later encounters are lovely, but ridiculously fast. It takes what could have been extraordinary and makes it unbelievable. Over a longer span of time, I would have loved the relationship, but smashed into the course of a few weeks as it is, it seems more like lust combined with a vague commiseration than the love they're declaring so elegantly. I could say so much more, but maybe I'll put it in a post of its own if you want. (comments?)

Violet's relationship with her best friend Raven is a far better love story, so I focused on that while I was reading.

Have any of you read The Jewel? What were your thoughts?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books that were Hard for Me to Read

This meme was created by The Broke and the Bookish.


Today's top ten is "Books that were Hard for Me to Read." These books were hard for different reasons, so I'll put some explanation after each one.

1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
       This one I just absolutely loathed, but I had to read it for school, so I powered through.

2. It by Stephen King
        It was hard to read because I couldn't read it at night or alone. I could only read it during the day because it was so completely terrifying.

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
        It's hard to read when you're sobbing uncontrollably.

4. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
         DNF. I read the first five pages, closed it, and never opened it again. 

5. Guide de la France Mysterieuse, edit. Tchou
        This one is entirely in French, and my three years of high school French classes left me far from fluent.

6. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
         DNF. I really didn't like the story, so I tabled it for later. I've since obtained my own copy (thanks, BookNut!) so I'll probably try again soonish.

7. Among the Free by Margaret Peterson Haddix
         This was just hard to read because reading it meant accepting that one of my favourite series by one of my very favourite authors was over. 

8. Coldspell Lullaby by Andrew Brown
          DNF. UGH. I couldn't stand the writing style, and the narrator's sexual fixation on the dead body within the first chapter severely skeeved me out.

9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
           This book is lovely, and it wasn't hard to read until the moment, well, if you've read it you'll know. It was difficult to finish through my tears. (Similar story to Tfios.)

10. The Long European Reformation by Peter G. Wallace
            I had to read this book for a history class. The book was quite informational and as such, helpful for the class. I learned a lot from it, but the writing style was dull, circular, and difficult to get through. I ended up reading most of it standing so I wouldn't fall asleep.

Monday, September 29, 2014

BTM REVIEW: Beautiful Creatures


As you may know, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl was made into a movie. I was given the movie for Christmas last year, but I didn't have a blog then. So I am now reviewing it after a movie night with friends. 

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin, so this review is going to be the two things I hated most.
  • I was QUITE upset that two important characters were fused into one, and that said fusion character was treated as ridiculously as possible. 
  • For the sake of spoilers, I'm going to be vague here. If you've read the books, you'll know exactly what I'm saying. *ahem* WHY ARE THEY TOUCHING???!!!???





Top Ten Tuesday

Hey, all. I'm going to be starting a new meme here called Top Ten Tuesday, brought to us by the friendly neighborhood The Broke and the Bookish.


Today's top ten is the Top Ten books on my fall TBR. Here we go. 

  1. Bag of Bones by Stephen King
  2. The Pierced Heart by Lynn Shepherd
  3. The Hero and the Crown by Robb McKinley
  4. The Jewel by Amy Ewing (in progress-- whoops, out of order)
  5. The Iron Trials by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  6. The Eternal Ones by Stephanie Miller
  7. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
  8. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (it's my purse book, but I'm really hoping to finish it)
  9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  10. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (didn't happen the first time, but I'm just going to power through for the sake of Dylan O'Brien and Ki Hong Lee)

Woo! That was... fairly painless. Can you offer me advice on any of these books? Would anyone like to see a particular book moved up the TBR list? Put it in the comments!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Ultimate Book Tag



The 
Ultimate Book Tag 
Answer the questions and tag two other bloggers. This tag was created by somebody. That somebody is not me. I was tagged by Erin at booklovingnut.blogspot.com .

1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
No

2. Which author's writing style is completely unique to you and why?
This question is horribly phrased, but I guess... Libba Bray.

3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Harry Potter series. The characters are more realistic, the plot is properly planned out, and it features at least a few healthy relationships.

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is it in (besides books...)?
I only use it for overnights and camping.

5. Do you smell your books?
Yes.

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
With.

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn't quality writing? (Ex. I read Twilight before I read HP and thought the writing was amazing but read HP and now think Twilight is a little bit of a joke.)
Crossed by Ally Condie

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
Once, when I was in middle school, my mom grounded me from recreational reading.

9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
My script for the Boys Next Door.

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
I'm not positive, but it might be my LOTR bindup.

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
I do, and I've already self-published a book, so yes and no.

12. When did you get into reading?
When I was four.

13. What is your favorite classic book?
Pride and Prejudice.

14. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?
Yes.

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated...what would you do?
Gift it to someone who could better appreciate it or donate it.

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
Those are two wildly different series, and I don't like to compare series of I don't have to. They are their own things, and it belittles them to have their only praise be "ah, it was vaguely similar to this other series I liked."

17. What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while blogging?
I just started blogging, so I don't think I have any bad habits yet.

18. What is your favorite word?
Schism

19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
Nerd.

20. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
Fairies, but not in the traditional pink fluttery sense. Why? Because the Seelie and Unseelie courts are freaking insane.

21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Angels, because angels bring a whole dimension of depth with them.

22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Spirits, because you can do SO MUCH MORE with them.

23. Zombies or Vampires?
Why are vampires an option twice? Regardless, zombies. But specifically, sick-zombies, not dead-zombies.

24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Love rhombus. Hey, Midsummer Night's Dream.

25. AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Action every time.

I tag:
Polaris at sergeantjamesbarnes107.tumblr.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

TBR Tag

The
TBR Tag

This tag was created by Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books and Dana from Dana Square. I was tagged by no one because my blog is just a baby blog, and I'm doing it anyway to build my post count. Deal with it.



How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Oh, boy. I keep track of it a few different ways. Of course, I have my goodreads tbr shelf, but I don't keep track of it very well. I have a googledoc of all the books I own, and the TBRs in that list are highlighted pink. I also have a rubbermaid container specifically for TBR books (I have A LARGE  AMOUNT of tbr books) as well as an actual TBR pile on top of my bookcase, which is where I put immediate TBR books as well as anything I've checked out from the library or borrowed.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Almost entirely print. Try as I may, I'm just not a big fan of e-books. They're great for the portability, and I do have the kindle app on my phone, but give me a printed book any day.

A Book That's Been On Your TBR List The Longest

Mmmm... Faust. I bought an older copy, but I just can't bring myself to pick it up and make that commitment.

A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR

Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I just picked it up from the library. Admittedly, I hadn't been paying attention to its release date, so I hadn't realized it was out yet.

A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because of Its Beautiful Cover

Guide de la France Mysteriouse. It's all in French, and I would never have bought it if it wasn't so darn gorgeous.


A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading

Wuthering Heights. I bought a little red copy, but I don't ever intend to read it. I just want it in my library so it can sit on my shelf and maybe be borrowed by others.


An Unpublished Book on Your TBR That You're Excited For

The Heir by Kiera Cass. Don't even touch me. I'm pre-ordering it.


A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone's Read But You

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Yes, I own it. No, I haven't read it yet. 


A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You

The Scarlet Letter. I own it, but I just have never gotten around to reading it. Every always says "you can read it in a day!" or "didn't you read it in high school?" To them I say, "probably" and "no" in that order.

A Book On Your TBR That You're Dying To Read

Stardust. Right now, it's my purse book, which means that I keep it in my purse and read it in the car or while waiting or eating while I'm out of the house. So, I've been reading it for a few months now in between other books, and I am absolutely dying to finish it.

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

554. I haven't sorted through it in a long time, and I really really need to.

BTM REVIEW: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Book Title: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Movie Title: If I Stay






If I Stay by Gayle Forman was recently made into a movie, so I went to see it with my sister.

BIG RED SPOILER ALERT

So past that, here we go with the book to movie.

WHAT WAS THE SAME

The movie did a great job with keeping *most* of the characters pretty true to themselves. I appreciated that, and it translated well into film. The greater part of the story and the action was fairly true to the book, and I liked that they didn't add in a ton of nonsense.

WHAT WAS DIFFERENT

KIM. Oh, my sweet Kim, what have they done with you? Kim in the book is a fantastic character. She has her quirks and her flaws, and they... were all but erased in the movie. Book Kim wears a braid at all times to keep her hair under control and is from a strict Jewish family. Movie Kim has sleek loose hair and mentions nothing about her family or religion. Apparently no one told the stylist that the braid was a huge character point. Book Kim wanted to be a photographer, but after she threw up in a helicopter, realized she needed to rethink. This doesn't merit a mention in the movie.

THE ACCIDENT. It happened so quickly in the movie that you don't see anything. In the book, Mia sees her parents dead on the scene. It's a big moment, and it's erased in the film. I understand that maybe they didn't want to show her dad's brain, but there's a way to show it without being overly gory.

TEDDY. In the book, Teddy is at a different hospital. Mia doesn't see him. She has no idea what's happening with him until Willow shows up. It was sweet to see Mia promising Teddy he wouldn't be alone, but it also was unnecessary.

MIA'S REACTIONS. All her crying/freaking out moments while in "ghost form" were overdone to the point of being ridiculous. The spinning and overdramatic slo-mos ruined the very real pain of the moment. It made her grief less believable.

ADAM GETTING IN. In the book, Adam tries a few different things to get in to see Mia. Eventually, Kim helps him, and he causes a distraction with a rock star. This sadly was ignored in the movie in favor of Mia hearing music and following it back to the room.

HEAVEN. Mia sees a bridge, and she considers going over to the other side. This doesn't happen in the movie.

MUSIC. Adam's band is called Shooting Star. I really don't understand why there was any reason to change it. Seriously? Irritating. I also don't understand why they chose the music they did for the movie. It was, by and large, not music either Mia or Adam or her family listened to. It often had very little to do with the plot, and I think if Mia was a real person she would be intensely pissed.

KERRY. His is the first funeral Mia ever went to, and it ends up being kind of important when she's considering staying or going, but it is nonexistent in the movie.

IN CONCLUSION::

I'm glad I went to see it, but it was pretty awful. A lot of what I loved was completely erased or altered beyond the point of recognition, and it was just completely disappointing. I would not go see it again, and I have no intentions of watching it when it comes out on dvd either.
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Blogger Confessions Tag

My friend at booklovingnut did this tag, and it just looked fun.


The rules:

Answer these questions truthfully.

Once you’ve completed this tag, tag 5 other book bloggers to answer these questions next.
*disclaimer: I'm not going to tag 5 other bloggers, sorry. I'm not really in the community yet.


1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. I really loved The Maze Runner, so I was super excited to read it, but it lost me within the first four chapters. I just didn't like it at all, and I have other books out from the library that are more deserving of my attention right now.

2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?
Oooh, it's hard to pick just one. I have a few books I keep around. Maybe Jodi Picoult books?

3. Which book do you love to hate?
Probably the Twilight saga.

4. Which book would you throw into the sea?
Lord of the Flies. I wish it would vanish out of existence entirely.

5. Which book have you read the most?
It's probably The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. Every time a new one came out, I had to reread the entire series at least twice, haha.

6. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?
Anything by Nicholas Sparks. (Sorry, man, I'm just not so into the sappy love stories.)

7.  Which book could you not live without?
Ahhhhh... I'm going to say my Meg books. It's an old mystery series for girls, and they belonged to my mom when she was a kid. She gave them to me when I was little, and I treasure them for the sentimental value as well as because they happen to be really good.

8. Which book made you the angriest?
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I don't want to talk about it.

9. Which book made you cry the most?
I'm going to say Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire has always been an interesting historical event to me, and it was a horrific tragedy. When I read this book, I cry for the characters, but I also find myself crying for all the lives lost in the actual fire. It's bad.

10. Which book cover do you hate the most?
I hate the new cover of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce. I have the old cover, which was absolutely gorgeous.

REVIEW: The Selection Stories: The Prince & The Guard by Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: February 4, 2014
240 pages
Source: Library

Rating: 

Description: Two novellas set in the world of Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series are now available in print for the first time. The Prince and The Guard both offer captivating views into the hearts and minds of the two men fighting to win America Singer's love. This collection also features exclusive bonus content, including a sneak peek at The One, the eagerly anticipated third novel in the Selection series.

Before America arrived at the palace to compete in the Selection, there was another girl in Prince Maxon's life. The Prince opens the week before the Selection begins and follows Maxon through the first day of the competition.

Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed that he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard. In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen's life within the palace walls—and the truth about a guard's world that America will never know.
*from Amazon

My Review: Woo! I am on a Selection Series kick. The only reason I haven't read The One yet is that is wasn't at my library. After reading the first two books in the series, I absolutely had to read these novellas, and I am so glad that I did.

The Prince
The first novella focused on Prince Maxon's experience just before and during the very beginning of the Selection. I appreciated the insight it gave, because The Selection Series is written from America's perspective, so much of Maxon's background and thinking is left up to the imagination. Later in the series, some of it comes to light, but this novella goes leaps and bounds above what we get in the books. (Or, at least, in the first two books. Maybe you get way more in the second two?)

The Guard
The second novella is set during The Elite, and focuses on Aspen's experiences as a palace guard. It was fascinating seeing events from a guard's perspective. America is an Elite, so she is hidden away or protected from the worst of the raids and events, but Aspen is right in the thick of things. His companions aren't trying to keep up appearances, and they are much freer with their opinions. It offers up information about Aspen, yes, but also information about the general state of events and the situation in the palace and with the rebels.

Anyone reading the series would greatly benefit from reading these novellas. BUT, do not read them until after reading The Elite unless you want some massively major events spoiled for you. (You do not want those massively major events spoiled for you, trust me.)

REVIEW: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: April 23, 2013
336 pages
Source: Library

Rating: 


Description: Kiera Cass’s The Elite is a must-read for fans of dystopian fiction, fairy tales, and reality TV. This sequel to The Selection will enchant teens who love Divergent and The Bachelor.

In America Singer’s world, a bride is chosen for the prince through an elaborate televised competition. In the second book of the Selection series, America is one of only six girls left in the running. But is it Prince Maxon—and life as the queen—she wants? Or is it Aspen, her first love?

The Elite delivers the adventure, glamour, political intrigue, and romance readers of The Selection expect, and continues the love triangle that captivated them.
*from Amazon

My Review: This book was all I was hoping it would be. After reading The Selection, I wasn't sure how the rest of the series would measure up, and I was particularly worried about this one because I have had far too many run-ins with the dreaded MBS-- Middle Book Syndrome. Of course, that applies less here since I know there is a fourth book coming, but still-- one worries.

I find with a lot of books that I see the plot twists coming from a mile away, but Kiera Cass is particularly skilled at hiding them. I knew that something was coming because she is not at all shy with the plot twists, but the actual events surprised me again and again.

I know how the series ends, but I kept finding myself alternately flailing or gasping and being incredibly concerned with how certain events were playing out. More than once, I had to wonder whether a spoiler I'd heard was really true as the book seemed for all the world to be going in a different direction.

I was, once again, up into the late hours reading this book. I had to laugh when I read the author's note in the back because she made a comment about uncontrollable feelings and tweeting at 3 am, and it was actually 3 am when I got to the end of the book. (I held myself back from tweeting though, as I haven't set up a blog twitter yet.)

This book is definitely going into my buying list along with The Selection. I would advise everyone to read it because it is amazing and you will fall out of bed at 3 am because you can't control your emotions.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

REVIEW:: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: April 24, 2012
336 pages
Source: Library

Rating: Five out of Five Stars


Description: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
*from Kiera Cass's website

My Review: Oh, wow. I originally spurned this series because I thought it would be syrupy and the ya equivalent of Nicholas Sparks (no offense, it's just not for me) but I was so drastically wrong. Frankly, I'm a little ashamed that I didn't look into it more closely, because it is a fantastic book.
I picked it up the other evening at the library because the cover was just too pretty to pass up and didn't put it down until 5am except to use the bathroom and eat dinner (didn't want to get the library's book dirty). Oh, and also to check it out and drive home. I forgot about that step. Don't read and drive, kids.

It took me a minute to get past the name (America?) but the caste system and the subtle dystopian feel won me over quickly. (And once it was explained, and the extra meaning was spoiled for me via tumblr, I really get the name choice. I do.) Dystopians have always been big with me, but it's sometimes difficult to find a dystopian as gentle as this one. Generally, the dysfunction is considerably more in your face, and the MC is almost always a rebel or has some mysterious power or gift that no one can know about. This time, it's rebellion-adjacent, and I love that.

The characters feel very real, even the villainous ones. Everyone is flawed, and everyone is wonderful. They react like real people would react to the situations they find themselves in. The book left me with questions, but I'm assuming they'll be answered in the others books in the series. In fact, I'm kind of counting on it, because I went to the library today to pick up the sequel, so you can be expecting the review for that one next. I would have picked up the third one too, but it was checked out (boo) and the guy who checked me out was very cute, so I got distracted and forgot to ask to reserve it. I'll just hope for the best next time I go in and start looking for the series on my book sites.

In conclusion, sometimes it's okay to judge books by their covers. In this instance, it led to my reading a book series I would never otherwise have picked up.