Saturday, April 30, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green+ David Levithan

Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 310 (hardcover)
Published: 2010 by Dutton
Recommended for: those who enjoyed John Green's other books-- Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, etc


It’s not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old — including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire — Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most awesome high school musical.

My Take: 

I really wanted to love Will Grayson^2.  I'm going to call it that, "Will Grayson to the power of two" since there's no way I'm typing the name twice every time I mention the title.  

Anyway, John Green is one of my favorite Youtube gurus, and I also really enjoyed his most awesome book Looking for Alaska.  I've never read anything by David Levithan, but I do know that the two authors collaborated on Will Grayson^2 like this: John Green wrote a chapter from one Will's point of view, then Levithan wrote one from the other Will's, and the entire book alternated like that.  One thing that drove my OCD crazy was that the fact that the second Will Grayson-- I'll call him 'Emo Will'-- 's chapters were written without capitalized letters at the beginning of sentences, and there were no quotation marks, etc.  I'm sure most people wouldn't mind at all, but it drove me crazy. (-er.)  John Green wrote from the first person POV of the Will I'll call 'OWG' (other Will Grayson), because that's what Emo Will calls him.  There was nothing especially special about OWG-- he was an ordinary guy, a pretty nice guy who's maybe-maybe-not crushing on a girl named Jane, a guy mostly keeps his mouth shut and tries not to draw too much attention to himself under any circumstances.  This proves very difficult for OWG, given that his best friend is Tiny Cooper.  

My favorite line from the book, without a doubt, is on the first page: 'Tiny Cooper is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large.'  I cracked up immediately, and that's when I knew that this was going to be one funny book.  There's a joke or two on every page-- especially in OWG's chapters-- and about 60% of them are pretty funny. (A couple fall flat.)  There's also about a half dozen swear words on every page, but I got used to it pretty quickly.  Tiny Cooper can be downright hilarious at times, though I did think he was a little bit of a stereotype gay guy: flirty and kind of nosy, loud.  I did like his character, though, more than either of the Will Graysons.  

The plot is that Tiny wants to stage a musical at his and OWG's high school, a musical about his life and many failed romantic relationships and ex-boyfriends.  There are more than a few obstacles to him staging this play, but not as many as there would be in real life, if you know what I mean.  I mean, if somebody at my high school (which is admittedly located in the Southern US) tried to put on a play where the leading character was openly gay, I think there would be riots and all kinds of horrible reactions.  But I guess everybody's just keeping it real and is totally accepting in Will Grayson^2's Chicago-land.  This book should probably be called Tiny Cooper^2, realistically, though I realize the irony is missing with that title. ;)  But there's twice as much Tiny Cooper in the story as there is OWG and Emo Will.  

Emo Will, by the way, I have so named because well, he's pretty darn emo.  He's severely depressed and it's hard not to sympathize with him over that, but Emo Will very quickly grated on my nerves.  He has a friend named Maura who really likes him (even though Emo Will's actually gay, he hasn't told her about that or the fact that he's been exchanging instant messages with a mysterious guy named Isaac for a long time now.)  Emo Will is such an *ss to Maura, though we find out she's not exactly a saint, either.  I think the overall problem with me and this book was that there was no one character I immediately connected with-- they were all sort of okay, but I didn't really fall in love with anyone.  The ending is also not so impressive... seemed like a big let-down after 300 pages.  The best thing about this book is the humor-- it is truly hilarious at times.  I realize that has probably been a thoroughly confusing review, what with the two Wills and my ramblings, so kudos and thanks to you if you stuck it out! 

Cover: 4/5
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Friday Following & Hopping (#21)

Happy Friday! Hello to everyone stopping by my blog via Follow Friday (hosted by paranormal queen Parajunkee).  I'd also like to welcome any of my old followers just dropping in to say hi. :)  Thanks so much for visiting-- leave me your blog links and I'll be sure to hop on over to your blogs and follow you back later.  Be sure to check out my Half-a-Blogoversary Giveaway HERE-- I'm giving away a dozen YA books of the winnners' choice to celebrate six months of blogging!

This week's featured blogger over at FF is:
 Marla @ Starting the Next Chapter.

And the question is:

Keeping with the dystopian and apocalypse theme that seems to be running rampant on, I have one very hard question for you: If you were stocking your bomb shelter, what books would you HAVE to include if you only had space for ten?

My answer:  Awesome question-- I really have to think about this one!  I really think I'd have to go with:

-- The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien (Of course!  Every time I read them I realize or pick up on at least one thing I never noticed before.)

-- Good Omens by Neil Gaiman (This is pretty much the most hilarious book I've ever read-- you'd need a good laugh every now and then, sitting in a bomb shelter and awaiting the aftermath of the end of the apocalypse!)

-- American Gods by Neil Gaiman

-- Gone by Micheal Grant (it's post-apocalyptic, so this book would be an awesome guidebook as well as entertainment)

-- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

-- The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (This might be my favorite book of all time.)

I was tempted to pick all the Harry Potter books, but that's no fun.  If I really was stocking a bomb shelter, I wouldn't mind giving up space for less important things like, say, canned food and a good water supply, in order to pack in more books. ;)  Can't wait to read all you guys' answers!  I wish you all happy blog hopping and an awesome weekend!

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

(Originally titled: On the Jellicoe Road)
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 432 (hardcover)
Published: 2008 by Harper Teen in the US

This is such a beautiful book: complex and funny and heartbreaking, and so utterly real that sometimes while reading it I just stopped and had to go back and read a line or two out loud, just to take it all in better.  I've read a lot of really good books this year, but Jellicoe Road might just take the cake-- I know for a fact that it will end up on the Best of 2011 list come December.  No summary or review can really describe the emotion and depth of the characters and the tragedies and the way all the different elements and sub-plots of the story come together in time for an ending as bittersweet, and yet somehow very satisfying, as any I've ever read.  But I'll try my best.

The Jellicoe School has been at war for eighteen years.  For six weeks at the beginning of every school year, the Cadets-- a band of boys from a military school-- arrive for their annual occupation of Jellicoe Road and the surrounding countryside.  The Jellicoe students, many of whom are renowned for being 'troubled' kids, wage territory wars against the Cadets and the equally ambitious Townies, fighting and plotting tooth and nail to hold their ground.  This year, senior girl Taylor Markham has been chosen as The Leader of her school's military exploits, despite her track record of being somewhat unstable.  With the arrival of the Cadets comes the return of their leader, the enigmatic Jonah Griggs, whom Taylor daily regrets running away with a few years ago.  But she's determined to not let Jonah-- or anyone-- get the best of her or the Jellicoe School.  

But even as she attempts to forge new alliances with the Townie kids and attempts to resist the irresistible lure of Jonah-- who she loves as much as she hates--, Taylor's past comes rushing back at her.  She begins to slowly discover old secrets, coincidences and connections and clues, all of which seem to trail back to one person-- Hannah, her beloved guardian who took her in after Taylor's mother dumped her in the Jellicoe Road gas station six years ago and hasn't made an appearance in Taylor's life since.  After Hannah disappears with scarcely a trace, Taylor fears she has been abandoned yet again.  She must search for clues to uncover more about the tragic story and remarkable friendship of five teenagers who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago if she wants to find out the truth about Hannah and the mysteries of her own life.          
I loved just the feel of this book, the way the words flow and the characters interact and the pieces of the plot slowly start to make sense.  The reluctant friendships Taylor has with Jonah and Santangelo (the Townie leader) and all the other teens rang very true to me; Taylor and Jonah were very much like an older (and romantically involved, at least part of the time) version of those two kids on the playground who trip each other and talk trash, but secretly everybody knows they're harboring crushes and they get along just fine half the time.  Jellicoe Road itself did feel like something of a Shangri-La to me-- I wanted to go there and see the flowers those kids planted so long ago and walk to the Prayer Tree and climb up into that old treehouse with graffiti scrawled all over its trunk.  As much as I enjoyed reading it, Jellicoe Road is the kind of book that will make you cry.  But it's not at all the all-despairing, I'm-bawling-like-a-baby-and-why-did-I-ever-want-to-read-this? agony; there were as many happy moments that made me smile as there were sad ones.  It's an emotional roller coaster ride, at the risk of sounding cliched.  This is one of those books I'm just going to have to buy, because I will definitely be reading it again soon.  Recommend Jellicoe Road to everyone and anyone-- go read it now!!!    

Cover: 5/5 (Perfect. Both editions have perfect covers.)
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

*This book is the first I've read for the 2011 YA Aussie Reading Challenge.  Awesome start to the challenge.* 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week I'm featuring one book whose release I'm anxiously awaiting and another which I'm waiting on (with somewhat less confidence but equal anticipation) to magically Apparate onto my bookshelf... 

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzama
To-Be-Released (in the US): June 28th 2011

(from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

(from Goodreads):
Love can be a dangerous thing.... Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly, violet dresses, Hanna's tired of being the outcast, the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas in search of a new home.
But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tries to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she's far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Genre: YA dystopia
Pages: 441 (hardcover)
Published: February 2011 by Harper Teen
Recommended for: fans of dystopian romance

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

My Take:

The premise of Delirium kind of had me worried at first-- I mean, I love dystopia, and there was so much buzz surrounding this book.  But the idea of a futuristic society where love is treated as a disease and they literally have it down in the textbooks in Latin as amor deliria nervosa with symptoms like 'scattered thinking' and 'sweaty palms' listed seemed a little cheesy at first, even if there was supposed to be a great love story involved.  But I ended up loving the execution of the story, the beauty flowing descriptiveness of Lauren Oliver's writing, the subplots, everything.

Lena isn't my favorite heroine ever, mostly because she doesn't really stand out to me among other dystopia protagonists.  But the other characters: Alex, her mother, and especially her best friend Hana are all fantastic.  They're strong and passionate and caring in a world where passion and love are seen as terrible disease.  The story of Lena's mother, a rebellious woman who vanished from her life long ago and was considered 'uncurable' and a problem subject by the doctors who administer the cure for love at age 18, is what really sold me on the book.  Alex is amazing-- he's rebellious and fun-loving and genuinely cares for Lena, and felt so much more real than many love interests in YA books I read.  So much that I came close to having a little panic attack for his safety while reading the last few pages when everything boils down to a suspenseful (and very cruel, Lauren Oliver!) cliffhanger of an ending.

There are quotes at the beginning of every chapter, which I always love because one of the first books I ever loved to death, Inkheart, had quotes as well.  These quotes arent from actual books, but bits of poetry and lore and song taken from the futuristic world of Delirium and a sort of well-being book for their world called "The Book of Shh".  Some of these excerpts and songs are so beautiful and entrancing, I was almost surprised they weren't already written down somewhere and they didn't seem fabricated at all.  Some aspects of the futuristic Portland where Lena lives were harsh and somewhat bleak-- the interviews and committee which decide the fates of teenagers graduating high school were particularly disturbing, and put me in mind of  The Giver, another dystopian book which I liked considerably less than this one.

The romance was sweet and I liked reading Alex and Lena's conversations and what-not, even though the story itself occasionally seemed to drag.  But here's the thought I keep having, the whole time I was reading: Why is Lena the MC of this book?  She's alright: she's nice, ordinary, a little bit of a sheep in the beginning, though she likes Romeo and Juliet in a world where even that most innocent and beautiful of love stories is all but banned.  But why is Lena the main character, when we have her best friend Hana, who's so strong and bright and passionate and vibrant?  I could so seeing Hana being the girl who sneaks out to a party and meets this boy from the outskirts of society and falls deeply in love with him, and refuses to let go of her love and surrender to the cure even when everything and everyone she's ever known depends on her staying within the confines of this love-less society.  Lena and Alex had good chemistry, but I can't help but think Hana and Alex would have been better-- they're both rebels, fun-loving and generally outgoing.

Despite my initial doubts about the premise, I ended up coming down with a raging case of amor deliria nervosa for this book.  Delirium is beautiful and bittersweet and occasionally sad, it's lyrical and pretty much fantastic... And it reminded me of a song. I've never posted a song with a review before, nor have I really seen it done- but here it goes.  The song is Resistance by Muse.  Let me know if this is a weird idea in a good way, or if you think it's an epic fail! 

Muse - Resistance .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Cover: 4/5
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 24, 2011

2011 Aussie YA Reading Challenge

I'm so excited to be officially joining the 2011 Aussie YA Reading Challenge, hosted by the fabulous Nic at Irresistible Reads.  Far better late than never, right?

The challenge for Aussie bloggers is to read 12 Aussie YA books, and international readers (like me, here in Hickville ;) are challenged to read 6.  The challenge is open to anyone (even those who, like me, were incredibly slow on the draw to sign up!), though re-reads aren't allowed.  You can check out the challenge post HERE.

Here are a few of the books by Aussie authors which I'm planning to read for this latest challenge: 

 There's a lot of Melina Marchetta there, but I'll doubtless be adding more as I go along.  Anyway, this post will be going on my CHALLENGES page, and this super-cute koala challenge button is for my side-bar.  Aww.  You know, on a completely unrelated note, I've never seen a  koala in 'real life' before.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (#14)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. The idea behind IMM is not only to put new books on our radars but also to encourage blogger interaction. IMM explores the weekly contents of our mailboxes: books bought, received, won, and borrowed, along with other goodies and swag.

Lots of great books this week, most of them from the library... oh yes, I am very quick on the draw when it comes to snagging new releases at the library; I'm that bookish girl who will say 'Oh, excuse me' even as she dives over your head or ducks between your legs to grab that special book you're scanning for from the shelves a second before you notice it.  ANYWAY,

Here's what I got: 

From the Library:


 For Review:

-- Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, and The Piper's Son (all) by Melina Marchetta
-- Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
-- Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
-- Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick
-- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
-- Beautiful City of the Dead by Leander Watts
-- The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
-- Wild Child by Mike Wells
-- Luminous by Dawn Metcalf

Thanks to: 
-- The Gaston/Lincoln County Library System
-- Dutton Books
-- Micheal Wells
-- Melissa @ YA BookShelf
So, what's in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Friday Following & Hopping (#20)

Happy Friday! Hello to everyone stopping by my blog via Follow Friday (hosted by paranormal queen Parajunkee).  I'd also like to welcome any of my old followers just dropping in to say hi. :)  Thanks so much for visiting-- leave me your blog links and I'll be sure to hop on over to your blogs and follow you back later. 

This week's featured blogger over at FF is: Caitlin @ The Cait Files

And the question is:


What is on your current playlist right now?


My answer: 


On my Music playlist *glances at MP3 screen*: 

 Muse, Seether, Within Temptation, Kings of Leon, The Beatles, and (I'm a hopeless Gleek) Glee's rendition of a Katy Perry song

On my Book Playlist (aka the to-read stack on my nightstand):

While you're here, feel free to check out my Half-a-Blogoversary Giveaway which is going on right now.  The button isn't anything special (blame my paintshop skills ;) but it is the biggest giveaway I've ever hosted and I'm so excited to have reached the six month milestone.

 I wish everyone happy hopping and a fantastic weekend!

Numbers: The Chaos by Rachel Ward

(Book #2 in the Numbers Trilogy)
Genre: YA dystopia
Pages: 368 (hardcover)
Published: March 2011 by Chicken House (in the US)
Recommended for: fans of dystopia, paranormal, and contemporary

The first Numbers book, which I read way before I ever even thought about starting a book blog, is a powerful, gripping read which is incredibly thought-provoking, gritty, and as beautiful as it is disturbing.  This sequel was all those things and more-- it more than lived up to the first book.  It is an unusual thing when a sequel surpasses the first book, but The Chaos has done that rare thing.  These are books which deserve more recognition and attention.  
Adam's mum Jem had a great and terrible gift, one she passed on to her son: she could see the numbers, or death-dates, of everyone around her just by looking into their eyes.  Together with Adam's misfit father Spider, she fled London seventeen years ago to escape the authorities who feared she was a terrorist after she predicted a catastrophe in the city.  Now that both his parents have fallen prey to their inevitable numbers, Adam's only family is his great-grandfather Val.  As rising tides and global warming threaten the coast, Adam and Val leave their peaceful seaside town for the chaotic capital that is London.  But Adam has inherited his mother's knack for trouble along with her curse for seeing death-- he struggles to get by in the city, and cannot fail to notice how many people's numbers are the same.  Why are so many people fated to die on New Years, 2027?  Sarah, an abused and haunted girl from the London suburbs, dreams of the answer every night.  Sarah's nightmares foretell a shattering natural disaster which will bring London to its knees and which will strike on the New Year.  But these same dreams also warn her to stay away from Adam, even as she realizes he may be the only one who can save her and the rest of the city... even as she realizes that she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her.   

The novel alternates between Adam and Sarah's first person POVs, with short chapters and constant suspense.  (Well, nothing is more suspenseful than impending doom and disaster.)  Both are fantastic characters and for once I wasn't skeptical of their deep, love-at-first-sight feelings for each other and their emotional connection, just as I totally believed Jem and Spider's love in the first book.  Some of the characters I just wanted to hug, which isn't exactly what you'd expect from this gritty dystopian novel.  Adam's grandmother Val has purple hair and more than a few screws loose-- and yep, I loved her.  She is the funniest literary grandmother ever, and would make a great replacement, I think, for the infamous Fruitcake Lady.  If she were a real person, I mean...  ANYWAY, all of the characters from Sarah and Adam and Val to the addicts Sarah stays with while she's homeless were amazing, and I felt totally absorbed in the story and the characters' fates.  

There are so many electrically-charged moments where everything is at stake and so many twisting plot revelations. The ending is a real shocker, and the premise posed for the yet-to-be-released third and final book in the series-- Infinity--, promises that the continuation of this story has as much potential as the first two books.  And just maybe it will do that really, really rare thing and be a third book in a trilogy which surpasses the first and second.  You guys have got to check this series out.

Cover: 4/5
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

(#4 in the Mortal Instruments series)
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Pages: 424 (hardcover)
Published: April 2011 by Margaret K Elderry

SPOILER ALERT: Any spoilers are from the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series only.

My Take:

City of Fallen Angels honestly needs no introduction, nor does it really need another review (there are about 1,500 on Goodreads alone) stating what the millions of people who pre-ordered the book and waited on pins and needles for it and read it in four hours like it was the last Harry Potter all over again have already found out: it's good, it's pretty much fantastic.  But not as fantastic as the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series.  There's my review in two sentences; if you want to know the reason and method behind my madness, read on.

Why CoFA is great (and not so great):

--CoFA is great because we get to spend more time with the cast of the Mortal Instruments.  Nerdy and lovable Simon, sexy if emo Jace, bad-ass-with-a-whip and freak'in awesome Isabelle (my favorite character)... not to mention all the other token, beloved characters like Magnus, Alec, Clary, Luke, and Maia.
This is not so great because I think a couple of the characters were so drastically, annoyingly different from the Shadowhunters/warlocks we know and love.  They've definitely all changed throughout the course of the last three epic books, there's no doubt about that.  But while reading some of the characters made me feel like I was coming home (if ya know what I mean), I couldn't help but be extremely frustrated with Jace.  Jace is kinda whiny, we all know that, but in the past he has made up for it by A-- actually having valid reasons to be whiny, and B-- making us all snicker with his bluntness and sarcasm.  In this fourth book, I couldn't help but be annoyed with Jace, simply because I feel like he wasn't balancing the sarcasm and the crazy recklessness with the whining and morbid thoughts.  It was just way too much of the latter, and that made the book a lot less fun than I was expecting it to be.  Magnus Bane also disappointed me because, even though he didn't have a very big part in this one, he barely made me smile even once.  Magnus is one of my all-time favorite zany characters, but in CoFA I was really missing his snarky remarks and general Magnus-ness.  All that said, it was great to be reacquainted with Izzy and Simon (whose POV I really enjoyed) and Clary.

-- You know that happily ever after?  The one at the end of City of Glass, which had me going around in a blissful euphoria for days, smiling like a lunatic while I did the dishes?  Of course, good books are built on good catastrophes, so I knew a fourth book would rip all that to pieces.  I don't mind that-- anything for more Mortal Instruments books.  But maybe I was super-naive in hoping that Clary and Jace would be, you know, together forever now.  After all the crap they've been through to be together,wouldn't it be okay if they could just be in love and kicking major demon a$$ together now (like the sneak peek chapter led us to believe, right)?  But no.  Without letting a single spoiler-jam-packed rant slip from my tongue (er, fingers), let me just say that Cassandra Clare is cutting Clary and Jace no breaks.

Climbing down from my soapbox, I will say that the writing was up to par with Cassie Clare's other books completely, though the plot didn't capture my attention as fully as those of the first three books in the series.  There were a few crazy-cool surprises and twists, including one giant cliffhanger which I'm just dying to blurt out.  The book is worth reading for those last few pages alone, because I'm so excited now for what's to come in City of Lost Souls.  So all in all, I loved it... but I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped I would.  But such huge expectations are hard to live up to.

Cover: 4/5 
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week I'm waiting on... 

The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
To Be Released: October 4th, 2011 

(from Goodreads):
 A move to Ireland is about to introduce Megan to her destiny, her real destiny, can she embrace it and will she survive it?

A tragedy in Megan’s past set her on a predetermined course. A chain of events has been set in motion that brings Megan to Kinsale, a small town in the south of Ireland where her destiny awaits her. Her life starts to fall into place as she makes new friends and settles into her new school. However, the reclusive and distant Adam DeRís calls to her body and soul.

She finds herself increasingly drawn to Adam and his strange family. Adam knows a secret from her past and he and his family hold the key to her future. A future that binds her to Adam and his world, a world of power, mystery and ancient orders. A world that unbeknownst to her, she very much belongs in.

The synopsis of this book is so darn vague (!), but the ARC reviews I've been reading on other blogs and Goodreads promise that t'will be awesome indeed.  And that cover... I want to lick it. ;)

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday? 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Genre: YA historical/chic lit
Pages: 421 (hardcover)
Published: 2010 by Delacorte Books
Recommended for: fans of the Luxe book series

Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?
Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .
Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties . . . when anything goes.

My Take:

Vixen does for the Roaring 20s-- age of the so-scandalous flappers, vamps, speakeasies, and gangsters-- what Anna Godbersen's Luxe series did for the Victorian Age.  Debut author Jillian Larkin's breezy, fun writing style and characters are very similar to that of the Luxe, and I highly recommend this book to fans of that popular series.

The story is set in Chicago and centered around three very different girls: Gloria, who at seventeen is unhappily engaged to the enigmatic and wealthy Bastian Grey; her best friend Lorraine, who wants to be a flapper more than anything; and Clara, Gloria's cousin who arrives in Chicago masquerading as the prime country-girl cousin, but is in fact a big-time flapper fresh from the streets and scandals of New York City.  The chapters alternate between the three girls, and I felt very strongly about each of them.  Lorraine I positively hated, but then I think the author wants and expects readers to dislike Lorraine.  She's in love with Gloria's friend Marcus, and is constantly, ceaselessly pining for him throughout the entire book, yet is also constantly flirting with every other male character.  If Lorraine were the sole protagonist of Vixen, I probably wouldn't have been able to stomach 20 pages of her whining and backstabbing.  Luckily we have Clara, whose secret past and slow romance with Marcus (yeah, the guy Lorraine thinks she's in love with) make for an entertaining story-- I loved how she kept up the act of her prudish alter-ego, 'Country Clara'.

Gloria's storyline was my favorite by far.  Unhappy with her early engagement to a man she feels like she barely knows, much less loves, Gloria ventures out one night to the Green Mill-- Chicago's most notorious speakeasy bar.  There she ends up auditioning to sing in the club's jazz band-- a talented, all-black jazz band which her white, upper-class parents would so never approve of.  Gloria's act of rebellion implodes into a personal crisis as she forgoes engagement parties to sing at the Green Mill... and take music lessons from the handsome and charismatic pianist, Jerome Johnson, who she quickly begins to fall in love with.  Gloria knows her relationship with Jerome will never be accepted by her friends and family, much less her fiance, and she is forced to make a choice between the love of her life and jazz, and the sheltered life which has been planned for her since her birth.  

Add a couple of (admittedly cliched) gangsters, one very jealous and very bitchy Lorraine, and a whole lot of scandal to the mix, and you have Vixen.  It's a thrill ride of a novel that you won't be able to put down-- a great start to a romantic and exciting series which really captures the feel of the 20s, and is for that matter a heck of a lot more fun than reading The Great Gatsby.  I can't wait for the sequel, Ingenue, mainly because I have to find out what happens to Gloria and Jerome!

Cover: 5/5 (like it!)
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Half-a-Blogoversary Mega Giveaway!

It's my Blogoversary, guys!!! *squeals*
Okay, so it will be my blogoversary in exactly six months.  It's my Half-a-Blogoversary, anyway, and I fully intend to celebrate A Myriad of Books turning 1/2 a year old.

Take a look at what's what was up for grabs: THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Big thanks to all who entered!  I can't wait to host a one-year blogoversary giveaway!

Giving Away:
-- Virals by Kathy Reichs (hardcover)
-- The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney (paperback)
-- Relic Master: The Dark City by Catherine Fisher (ARC)
-- Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (hardcover)
-- Matched by Ally Condie (hardcover)
-- Swoon by Nina Malkin (paperback)
-- Elphame's Choice by PC Cast (paperback)
-- Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson (hardcover)
-- Pegasus by Robin McKinley (hardcover)
-- Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakly-Cartwright (movie novel, paperback)
-- Sea Change by Aimee Friedman (hardcover)
-- Fallen by Lauren Kate (hardcover)

To Enter: Leave a comment with your entries (include links to anywhere you helped to spread the word for extra entries, please.  One comment for all your extra entries is fine, but add them all up for me!), and tell me which book of those I'm giving away you're most excited to read.  The last day to enter is Saturday, May 7th-- entries close at midnight. 
-- To enter, you must have a mailing address in the US or Canada, be at least 13 years of age, and you must follow A Myriad of Books. 

Extra Entries: 

+ 2 entries for each tweet or Facebook update you post about this giveaway

+3 entries for a blog sidebar link to the giveaway

+ 5 entries for a blog post about the giveaway (keeping it short and sweet is perfectly fine)

The two winners will be chosen by on May 6th.  Winners will have 48 hours to claim their prize following my notification before I have to pick a new winner.  Good luck, you guys, and thanks so much for following and supporting my blog.  These last six months being part of the book blogging community have been fantastic, and I know the months and years to come will be just as awesome!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week I'm waiting on... 

 In The Forests of Night by Kersten Hamilton 
(sequel to Tyger Tyger)
Coming: October 3rd, 2011

(from Goodreads):

Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have rescued Tea's and Aiden's father and have made it out of Mag Mell alive, bringing a few new friends with them. But The Dark Man's forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Teagan soon realizes that she is not the target of the goblins. In fact, the goblins call her princess, and call her to come out and play. Something is happening to her, and she suspects it’s an infection she picked up in Mag Mell. An infected cat-sídhe becomes her test subject, and Teagan is determined to cure it of the sickness that seems to rot its flesh. If she can find a cure for the cat-sídhe, then maybe there is hope for her. 
Meanwhile, Kyle and Isabeau, Teagan’s goblin cousins, show up in her school, disguised as a substitute teacher and a foreign exchange student. They are sure she will come back to Mag Mell, as goblin blood is never passive. Once awoken, it will burn away every other aspect of her being, leaving her pure and solely goblin. When the process is complete, she will belong to Fear Doirich, the Dark Man. It is just a matter of time. In the meantime, Kyle and Isabeau are happy to entertain themselves by trying to seduce, kidnap, or kill Teagan’s family and friends. 
Tea knows she doesn’t have much time left, and she refuses to leave Finn to be hunted to the death or her family to be tortured and killed. A wild Stormrider, born to rule and reign, is growing stronger inside her, but as long as she can hold on, she’s still Teagan Wylltson, who plans to be a veterinarian and who heals the sick and hurting. The disease that’s destroying her—that’s destroying them all—has a name: Fear Doirich. 
And Teagan Wylltson is not going to let him win.

This is the second book in the Goblin Wars series, by the very talented Kersten Hamilton-- who I was lucky enough to interview last November when Tyger Tyger was released!  Can't wait to find out what happens to Finn and Teagan, and I absolutely love the cover.  :)

 So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Genre: YA dystopia
Pages: 326 (hardcover)
Published: May 2010 by Little, Brown
Recommended for: dystopia fans

Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life?  This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

My Take:

This is one of the best dystopias I've read in a long time.  It has a fast-paced, instantly intriguing feel which reminded me of The Hunger Games, masterpiece of that genre, except that Ship Breaker is definitely more of a 'guy's book' in some ways.  The synopsis catches the feel of the book perfectly, so I won't do my usual long-winded 're-summarizing and setting the scene' thing. 

The world in which Nailer-- who's young even for a YA protagonist-- lives is a harsh one, a coastline wrecked by tides and global warming, where it's difficult just to get by and many resort to terrible means in order to survive.  Global warming is a common reason given for a dystopian future and I sometimes find it a little redundant after reading like, thirty books whose authors all felt it would be a good idea to stick that 'this could be our planet's future if we don't shape up' theme in, but I liked the way Paolo Bacigalupi handled it and didn't mind a bit.  The ship breakers are impoverished scavengers who systematically take apart ships which wash up on the shore of their ragged coastline after storms crash them.  I felt immediately absorbed into Nailer's world and that of his loyal (and not so loyal) crew members.  Treachery and life-threatening situations run amok on the pages of this thrilling novel, and there wasn't a single character who didn't feel real enough to bleed.

I particularly liked Nita, the wealthy 'swank' girl who Nailer rescues from her ship against the wishes of his crew, who would just as soon see her drown.  The romance between them is cute-- they're like fourteen, so...-- and hopeful, but it isn't a big part of the story, nor does it need to be.  Richard Lopez is one of the most real and truly frightening villains I've read about, not least because he's Nailer's father, an addict who has abused him ever since the long-ago death of Nailer's mother.  I'm not giving away spoilers, but the showdown between them was seriously cooler than when Skywalker faced Darth Vader (oops, my nerd is showing again;).  This book might make a very good movie, actually.

The book also takes a stab at asking questions about the nature of humanity-- in the future, there are mutant half-men who are basically like human-animal crosses who serve one human for the entirety of their life.  The exception to this rule seems to be Tool, a mysterious half-man who accompanies Nailer and Nita when they flee to the now-ruined city of New Orleans to escape Nailer's father.  Tool was an interesting character, and like everyone in the novel, neither decisively good or bad.  I think too many books have characters who don't blur that line the way that real people do, and Ship Breaker should be applauded for doing a marvelous job of that.

On a side note, this book won the 2011 Printz Award.  Printz books always turn out to be some of the absolute best-- I wish I had room on my to-read list to read every single one of the Printz books from the last few years.  Anyway, happy reading to you all!!

Cover: 4/5 (it has a cool rustic look which is better in person)
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Early Review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Genre: urban fantasy
Pages: 320 (paperback)
To Be Published: May 3rd, 2011 by Del Rey

My Take: 

When I first won Hounded from a Goodreads giveaway, I had no idea what a good thing I had coming in the mail.  It's not too unusual that I venture into adult urban fantasy or even literary fiction, though obviously I read more YA than anything, this being a YA blog.  But Hounded may very well be the best urban fantasy, if not one of the best books period that I've read all year.  It's a hidden, fast-paced and fun fantasy gem which will not be hidden for long, judging by the slew of enthusiastic reviews I've seen on Goodreads and a few other blogs.  The editor's note on the inside cover of the ARC copy mentions the 'Kevin Hearne Effect'-- and man, has the Kevin Hearne Effect worked its magic on me!  This book is like the perfect, Celtic lovechild of American Gods and the Percy Jackson series.  I recommend it a thousand times over.

Atticus O'Sullivan, Druid and indie book-seller, is 21 (centuries) and counting, though he maintains the appearance of a 21 year old Irishman who runs an occult bookstore in Arizona.  Atticus is an intellectual Druid as well as a warrior (you get to collect a lot of hobbies after you've lived a few millenniums), but he's no ancient, white-robed priest with a flowing beard.  His light-hearted sarcasm and casual use of twenty-first century slang are as hilarious as his other immortal counterparts' misuse of it.  Atticus has friends in high places, to put it mildly, since he's had loads of time to rack up bonus points with the immortal gods of every pantheon and various other supernatural beings.  Let's see...his lawyers are a vampire and a werewolf; his next-door neighbor is a kick-ass old Irish lady who likes her Sunday mornings mellow (you'll see what I'm talking about;); the bartender he's been crushing on is actually possessed by an ancient Indian witch; and, oh yeah, he's got the Morrigan, goddess of death, on his side.  Long ago Atticus made a pact with the Morrigan so that she will never take him, leaving him immortal and virtually invincible.  

But Atticus hasn't made all those friends without making a few enemies as well.  Most notable among them is the Celtic god of love, Aenghus Og.  He's been chasing Atticus through the centuries, determined to reclaim a sword the Druid took from him long ago.  God of love though he may be, Aenghus is far from a lovey-dovey Cupid type.  (Not that Cupid was that lovey-dovey, originally.)  Throw in a coven of Polish witches whom are real, er, witches, a wishy-washy goddess of the hunt, and an Irish wolfhound who can communicate with Atticus telepathically, and you have a heck of a lot of myths gone wild.  Well-researched myths, too.  As a mythology geek, I loved Hearne's take on the various gods and goddesses, throwing them into modern society in a way that reminded me of Neil Gaiman's American Gods.  But a reader wouldn't have to know zip about mythology in order to love Hounded-- Atticus explains everything in matter-of-fact terms.

I can't possibly review this without declaring how much I love Oberon the Irish Wolfhound!  He and Atticus's mental conversations (soo much more interesting than the dog-human convos in The Knife of Never Letting Go) were hilarious, and Oberon was just so endearing in every way.  Atticus himself captured my heart and allegiance immediately, as did most all of the other characters from his shop-assistant to the goddess Flidais.  And the ending-- hysterical!  Loved it.  The best part is that the next two books in the Iron Druid Chronicles, Hexed and Hammered are being released soon after the first book, a book every consecutive month.  I can't think of a better way to spend the summer than by the pool, deeply absorbed in the Iron Druid books!  Sorry this review's so long-- I couldn't resist writing a novella of a review for this one. :)

Cover: 5/5
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5 
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5     

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Genre: YA dystopia/ fantasy/steampunk
Pages: 462 (hardcover)
Published: December 2010 by Dial
Recommended for: only those who've already read Incarceron; steampunk fans

The only one who escaped . . . And the one who could destroy them all.
Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe.
Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.

My Take:

There's really not much that can be said about the plot of Sapphique without completely spoiling everything that happens in the first book, Incarceron.  Even the summary is jam-paced with spoilers. But I'll give reviewing it (mostly) spoiler-free a go.  This was another fantastical, amazingly-imagined novel by Catherine Fisher, set in the world of the living, sentient prison Incarceron-- a world I'd been dying to return to ever since I read the first book last year.  

Sapphique is fueled by an ever-thickening, suspense-driven plot which races along at the speed of light.  The story switches frequently between Finn and Claudia, who are in the outside Realm world and struggling to secure Finn's claim to the throne despite the conniving Queen Sia, and Finn's oathbrother Keiro and Attia, the former slave girl who has now joined up with a mysterious mad magician who claims to possess the lost glove of Sapphique.  The world of Incarceron is one rich in mythology and steeped with weird allusions and stories which have been twisted over time, just as our own is.  It's nothing short of mind-blowing that Catherine Fisher can write a futuristic world as complex and crazy-real-feeling ( there's another of my lovely hyphenated words ;) as Incarceron, or indeed any of the other fantasy worlds she has written about.  It takes a while for readers, especially those who haven't read the first book in a while, to get the hang of the prison jargon and the story of Sapphique.  The atmospheres of both Incarceron and the Realm are so believable, and once again I loved the steampunk feel of everything in Incarceron.

The characters were a hit-or-miss with me as always... I loved Keiro, who's charming even for all his arrogance and self-absorbed betrayals-- he's a character who it is really hard not to love.  A warning to romance fans: there was literally almost no romance in this second book, which disappointed me very much.  I was expecting a Keira/Attia thing to get going, or a Claudia/Jared thing, but neither of these really panned out beyond a few little hints. (Though I'm sure JK Rowling would call them 'anvil-sized hints', they still weren't enough for me ;).  All that aside, Sapphique was jam-packed with surprises and shocking twists, huge revelations.  I was unable to put this (very thick) book down for a moment!  Parting with it was literally painful.  A fantastic conclusion to this steampunkish dystopian dualogy.

Cover: 4/5
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

Genre: YA historical fiction
Pages: 320 (hardcover)
To Be Published: May 24th, 2011 by Atheneum
Recommended for: fans of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, fans of adventure and historical fiction

Tagline: Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

My Take: 

Wrapped is a quick read,  fast-paced and lighthearted and guaranteed to coax a smile or two out of most everyone.  I was immediately drawn in by that beautiful cover illustration, and have to say that it suits the book perfectly.  This is a historical YA novel (set in Regency England) with echoes of fantasy and myth, but then again it has a little bit of everything: mystery, intrigue, humor, and romance.  Not to mention a cool background in Egyptology and a mummy's curse.

Our heroine Agnes is the most endearing protagonist I've read about in a while, despite that awful name of hers. (Ugh.  Agnes.  I just hate it!)  Her well-meaning mother despairs that despite her good looks, Agnes isn't particularly concerned with her upcoming society debut-- the graduation of a Regency England girl from childhood into her social Season before marriage.  Agnes is too busy hitting the books, dreaming of faraway exotic places, and perfecting her skills in language (all ten of them that she speaks fluently, mind you) to care much about gowns and debutante parties, or even Lord Showalter-- the wealthy young gentleman with a passion for collecting rare artifacts who has begun to court her.  But when she attends a glamorous party Showalter is hosting, Agnes finds her interest piqued at last.  By a two thousand year old Egyptian mummy, no less.  What Agnes finds wrapped within those ancient bandages sends her on a quest to discover more about the secret she has accidentally unleashed-- along with a mummy's curse which seems to have befallen high society since the unwrapping.  

In the British Museum, she meets Caedmon-- a handsome and slightly nerdy young curator whose passion for Egypt and discovering the meaning of the mummy's curse rivals Agness' own.  But there's no time for Agnes to dwell on nerd love (Aww.  I love it!).  The fate of Great Britain itself may well be at stake, as the mummy conspiracy all seems to link back to one person: Napoleon Bonaparte, the French emperor who has been hostile to Britain for years.  Swathed within the bandages of this one mummy, stolen from faraway Egypt, Napoleon may have hidden his secret weapon-- it lies to Agnes and Caedmon to decode and destroy it for the sake of all England.

This book was tons of fun to read, and the characters of Agnes and Caedmon were very endearing-- they're lovable nerds, and their interactions were just too funny.  There's a twist at the end which I kind of guessed, but nothing is painfully predictable.  The storyline reminded me of that immortal, cult-classic movie: The Mummy in several respects, but it was original enough.  I really hope Jennifer Bradbury writes a sequel to Wrapped-- another adventure for Agnes and Caedmon together, where maybe they get to go on one of the archeological excursions they both dream of and discover some other mythical curse or ancient mystery or whatever.  This would make a fantastic start to a YA series.

Cover: 5/5 
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5        

*Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy*
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