Sunday, July 31, 2011

In My Mailbox (5)

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In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Kristi over at The Story Siren, where we get to share with our readers the books that we've gotten recently, whether it's in the mail, from the bookstore or the library!
*****
Yay!! I actually BOUGHT books this week, which I usually don't do, but since Borders is having so many closing sales, I thought I would pick up a few that I've had on my TBR list. I also got a few from the library, so here is what came in this week! (NOTE: All of these titles are linked to Goodreads summaries and reviews :)

From the Library

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Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

From the Store

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Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

LC's 500


Also, if you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to enter for your chance to win FREE BOOKS through my 500 Follower Giveaway going on now until the end of August! You can click the image to the right to enter!---->


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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: The Body Finder

Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 16, 2010
Pages: 336
Read it in: 3 days

Summary: Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sisteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more distrubed by her "power" to sense dead bodies-- or atleast those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints attached to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town,and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer-- and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

LC's Take:

So... I pretty much could not put this book down. This was one of those books that you start and then find yourself reading in between meals, work shifts, first thing when you wake up and way into the late hours of the night. Seriously, could not put it down!

The main character is Violet, who has the super creepy ability to sense the "echoes" or imprints of people who have been murdered. She can also sense their presence lingering on whoever happened to kill them. At first, Violet only used her ability when she was little to find dead animals in the woods and give them a proper burial so they can be at rest. Eventually, their echoes would slowly fade into the background. But then, when she's eight years old, Violet discovers the body of a dead girl in the woods...

Fast forward eight years later, and Violet is now in high-school. Suddenly, more girls are going missing from around her small town in the Pacific Southwest, and Violet finds herself being inexplicably drawn to the bodies. She knows that she is the only one with the special ability to track down the serial killer and put an end to the terror for good. Unfortunately, her secret gift puts her in even more danger than anyone else, and she soon becomes the target of the killer, who will do whatever it takes to not get caught.

The plot of this book was so amazing, and I loved how the author switches between Violet's point of view and the serial killer's-- that was so creepy! It was also a very unique idea to create a character who has the ability to sense those who've been murdered and be able to know their killers based on imprints they leave behind.

The only problem I had with this book was the subplot between Violet and her longtime best friend Jay. I liked how their relationship worked **spoiler alert** before they became a couple-- it was interesting to see the dynamics play out between them, and I could definitely relate to Violet's internal struggle as she worries about telling Jay how much she likes him and potentially ruining their friendship. However, once they actually got together it just became so freaking sappy and cliche and overdone that I found myself cringing. I was just like, c'mon now, this is seriously straight out of some cheap paperback romance from the drugstore. Yes, I know what puppy love is like and being a hormonal teenager and all, but geez, I don't want to sit there and read about them making out and getting all hot 'n heavy, it's just icky!! And also, Jay became waaayyy too perfect, which seemed like "wish fulfillment" writing to me-- I'd much rather have realistic, flawed characters that make sense and are more interesting, anyways.

And finally-- just as a warning for my more sensitive readers-- there is quite a bit of swearing, teen drinking/partying, and some "innuendo" type things that go on throughout this book, so I would rate it more PG-13 level. Just so you're aware! Sometimes, even though I don't necessarily mind explicit writing, it can throw me off a little when I'm not expecting it, so here's the heads up!

Besides a few issues I had, this was an awesome book and I really enjoyed reading it. Could have done without all the make-out scenes, but other than that the plot was thoroughly gripping and I would definitely read the sequel.

LC's Rating:
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Overall, this book had a thrilling plot and really good writing that made it nearly impossible to put down. The only major problem I had with it in the end was the overdone relationship between Violet and Jay. Otherwise, a very good book!

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Follow Me Friday (11)

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Follow Me Friday is a fun book meme hosted by the fabulous Parajunkee over at Parajunkee's View. Have a book blog? You can play with us too! Just visit Parajunkee's site at the link above-- be sure you are a follower of her blog and the blog she is featuring for the week, put your name in the Linky, create your own FF post on your blog, and then start commenting and following whomever you wish!

*****
This week's Follow Friday question:

Let's step away from books for a minute and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you?
So, as you may already know, I am a librarian, and proud of it! I saw this t-shirt and pretty much fell in love with it. Also, nobody thinks I'm a librarian when they first meet me-- apparently I don't really fit into the whole bun-wearing, crabby old-lady stereotype. I do rock a cardigan every now and then, however!

Leave me a comment so I can go check out what your t-shirt slogan is! Happy Friday everyone! :)


LC's 500

Also, if you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to enter for your chance to win FREE BOOKS through my 500 Follower Giveaway going on now until the end of August! You can click the image to the right to enter!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: Through Her Eyes

Author: Jennifer Archer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Pages: 384
Read it in: 2 days

Summary: The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar-- a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal-- that have the most chilling impact on her.

Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality-- before she loses touch with her own life forever.

LC's Take:

Have you ever read a book that catches you totally by surprise? You're just working your way through your TBR list, and happen upon a book that doesn't particularly stand out to you, and then by page 2, BAM! You're completely, irreversibly HOOKED. You can't stop reading, the characters are jumping off the page, the scenes are so vivid you feel like you're right there, and the story is so incredibly addicting, you can't stop thinking about it. Yeah, that pretty much describes my experience with this book.

I picked up Through Her Eyes without any preconceived ideas-- yes, the cover is pretty awesome, the story sounded pretty good-- but it's not like I was super-excited about it or anything. But then I started reading. From the first couple pages, I knew this was going to be a really, really good book.

Tansy Piper has just moved to Cedar Canyon, a small West Texan town in the middle of nowhere, with her mom and grandpa. The house they move into is very big and very old-- and it also happens to have a very disturbing past. Long ago, a boy named Henry lived there. One night, Henry jumped off the bridge into the canyon, and now it is rumored that his ghost still haunts the old house. Soon after moving in, Tansy discovers a journal that once belonged to Henry, along with a crystal pendent, and a pocket watch. For some reason, Tansy feels inexplicably drawn to Henry's past, and soon she finds herself becoming more and more wrapped up in his dark and troubled world. Is she going crazy? Or is she really being haunted? The only way she'll be able to find help is by finally letting her guard down and learning to trust other people.

I loved the characters in this book, because the author gives them history, motives, and depth. Tansy Piper, for me, was a wonderfully flawed character, and I really felt for her throughout the story.  I got to know her past, her pain, her fears, her passions, and her hopes. Tansy has been on the move her entire life, going from one city or town to the next-- she's known what it feels like to be an outcast and what it feels like to be betrayed by someone she thought was a friend. The emotions and thoughts that run through her head and the inner struggles she has felt very real to me, and I was definitely able to connect with her.

And then there was Papa Dan. Papa Dan was hands-down one of my favorite secondary characters ever. Over eighty years old and suffering from dementia, Papa Dan barely ever says a word, and yet JA creates a tragicomic character who you can't help but love like your own grandpa. Throughout the book, I laughed and cried, as Tansy learned to appreciate all the memories she had with Papa Dan, while learning that she has to let go of him eventually.

The mood set in this story was eerie, yet irresistibly alluring. The small town of Cedar Canyon completely draws you in until you feel like you're actually there, and really can see through Tansy's eyes. The story itself moves along at a bit of a slower pace than others I've read-- there's a good amount of internal dialogue as Tansy struggles with what's going on-- but I didn't mind because I was so thoroughly invested in the main characters. Also, I had to see how everything ended!

I could probably say a million different things about this book, about how I couldn't put it down (I couldn't), about how brilliant the writing was, about how easy it was to understand and follow the characters because we know their history, but I feel like that still wouldn't be doing it justice. I will just end this review by saying, give this one a chance, because it completely threw me off guard and exceeded my expectations. Beautiful, mysterious and haunting, Through Her Eyes was one amazing book.

LC's Rating:
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I went into this book without any kind of expectations and absolutely loved it-- extremely well-written with unforgettable characters and an addicting story, I won't soon forget this one!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

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For those who don't know, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme where we get to let everyone know about what books we are eagerly anticipating the release of. WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. Want to participate? Grab the logo on her page, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

*****
So I've been seeing this book floating around here and there in the blogosphere lately, and I thought I would check it out on Goodreads. It's called Everneath by Brodi Ashton... the cover is gorgeous, and the plot synopsis doesn't sound too bad either! Here are the details for this book, set to be released in 2012...

Author: Brodi Ashton
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Pages: 384


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

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

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

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

Hmmm... pretty intriguing!

(RANDOM SIDE NOTE: Might I make an observation about how many books are out there with variations of titles starting with "Ever?" (Evermore, Everlasting, Evernight, Everlost, Everfound-- then you've got Neverwhere, Nevermore, Never After-- you get the idea). Just saying! But hey, this might be worth adding to the TBR pile!
LC's 500



Also, if you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to enter for your chance to win FREE BOOKS through my 500 Follower Giveaway going on now until the end of August! You can click the image to the right to enter! ------------------->

Happy Wednesday and Happy Reading everyone!!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (12)

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read and open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
*****
A couple days ago I started reading Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer. Oh. Em. Gee. This book is incredible! I am absolutely loving everything about it-- the characters, the story, and of course the sheer creepiness of a haunted old house! Here is my teaser for this week:

"Remnants of the terrifying experience in Henry's world crowd my mind as I make my way to the window and look out. Tattered clouds cover the moon. Tree branches bend and sway. Shadows dance across the lawn. I move to the other window that overlooks the cellar and barn, squint and look closer. The shadows part and, between them, I see someone bent over the cellar door."

~p.278 

Ahh! I can't put this book down! I have a little under 100 pages to go, and am going to try to finish it tonight :)

LC's 500

Also, if you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to enter for your chance to win FREE BOOKS through my 500 Follower Giveaway going on now until the end of August! You can click the image to the right to enter! -------------------------------->

Happy reading everyone! :)

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Wrapped

Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Publisher: Atheneum
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Pages: 320
Read it in: 7 days

Summary: Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history. Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her. Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback... Maybe she would like to think that too.

Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperons fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.

This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny— unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

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

LC's Take: 

Overall, Wrapped had a very good story. The main character is Agnes Wilkins, a young debutante about to enter into the marriage market of upper-class English society. The story opens at Agnes' debut party at the home of her wealthy admirer, Lord Showalter. At the party, a fashionable "unwrapping" is going on-- a mummy imported from Egypt is on display for the guests' amusement, to pick apart and find souvenirs. Through a series of events, Agnes becomes wrapped up in her own adventure-- centering around an ancient Egyptian curse and the Napoleonic Wars going on between France and England.

I definitely liked Agnes' character. Even though society and Agnes's parents expect her to marry the wealthy Lord Showalter and live a comfortable, boring life, she longs for excitement and adventure. Granted, this kind of character is a bit predictable-- we've all read of the typical upper-class girl who longs to be free and have adventures-- but she was still likable. I guess I would have liked her even more if we got to see more of her thoughts and emotions. Agnes was portrayed as being a highly intelligent, clever, strong, and spirited heroine-- she loved Jane Austen, could speak TEN different languages, and had a feisty edge to her.  I just would have liked to see more of her character shine through!

Caedmon, the young man who cleans at the museum and takes Agnes' fancy, was also very likable, but slightly forgettable as far as a character goes. Kind, brown-eyed, and passionate about the study of Egyptology, Caedmon is clearly Agnes' match. Together, they are both drawn into an international mystery, full of spies, danger and ancient myth. But once again, I wish that JB had fleshed out Caedmon's character a little more so that I could have connected with him better.

Wrapped also had a unique plot setting, which combined Regency Era English society with a fascination in ancient Egypt. The story even had an Indiana Jones kind of flare to it, with international intrigue, spies, and ancient artifacts that hold the key to world domination. (I LOVE Indiana Jones by the way-- except Temple of Doom-- that one stinks.) In this case, it's 1815 and Napoleon is trying to find the "standard" (a kind of staff) that once belonged to the ancient pharaoh Ptolemy, because of a myth that the owner of said staff could wield an army of the "undead" and become invincible.

All that said, I feel like I should have liked this book more than I did. However, there was something about it-- some reason that I can't pin down exactly-- that made it fall flat for me. It took me forever to get through, and I became very easily distracted with something else almost every time I opened it. Maybe it was because the world-building was somewhat lacking, making it difficult to picture the characters or backdrop of the story. Or maybe it was the dialogue which was a bit confusing and hard to follow at times. In any case, I wasn't able to get fully "wrapped up" in the adventure and intrigue-- or to fully connect with the characters-- which brought my rating down a couple stars. Overall, this was still an enjoyable book with an interesting premise, but it needed something a little more to be a truly amazing read.

LC's Rating:
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Generally, I liked the characters and setting of this book, but the world-building of 18th century England was somewhat lacking. This, along with slightly choppy and confusing dialogue, made it difficult for me to follow even though the story was definitely unique!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

LC's 500 Follower Giveaway!!

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LC's Adventures in Wonderland has reached another blogging milestone by reaching 500 wonderful followers! I am so incredibly happy and excited to have met such amazing readers and fellow bloggers, and it has been so much fun talking about my love of books with all of you!

So... in celebration of having reached the 500 mark, I will be giving away TWO (2) BOOKS to a first place winner, and ONE (1) BOOK to a second and third place winner!!



~Enter to Win!~

1.) Be a follower of LC's Adventures in Wonderland-- or become a new follower :)
2.) Fill out the form at the bottom of this post (name and email required)

It's that easy!

~Extra Entries~
You must provide direct links in the form below to be eligible for these. You can get a maximum of 19 entries for this giveaway. 


+1: Follow me on Twitter @LC_speaks (If you're already following me, that counts too!)
+2: Tweet about this giveaway
+5: Copy and paste my Giveaway Button onto your blog:
LC's 500

Note: If you haven't done this before, it's very easy: Just go to your Blogger Dashboard, and click on the "Design" link for your blog, Click "Add a Gadget" and then scroll down the list and choose "HTML/Javascript." Then, just copy and paste the HTML in the box above into that box and click "save." 
+10: Do a blog post about this giveaway that includes the Giveaway image above

~Other Info~

Giveaway is open to anywhere that Book Depository ships (check the link- this is international!!)
Last day to enter is August 31st, 2011 at 11:59pm EST
THREE (3) winners will be chosen at random from Random.org
Winners will be notified on September 1st by email-- they will have 48 hours to respond


~Book Selection~
Choose two!

These are all books I have either read and loved, or books I am looking forward to reading :)

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed. Check my sidebar for current and upcoming giveaways!! 

Good luck to everyone and thank-you for all of your support!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Follow Me Friday (10)

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Follow Me Friday is a fun book meme hosted by the fabulous Parajunkee over at Parajunkee's View. Have a book blog? You can play with us too! Just visit Parajunkee's site at the link above-- be sure you are a follower of her blog and the blog she is featuring for the week, put your name in the Linky, create your own FF post on your blog, and then start commenting and following whomever you wish!

*****
So, this week I have been really busy with work, so I haven't had much down-time for reading unfortunately! I did finish and review The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, and I also did a little "tribute post" to Harry Potter, just to talk about what the series has meant to me growing up and how I will miss the excitement and anticipation of the book/movie releases. I am currently reading Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury and hope to have it done in a couple days...

Also keep in mind that I am planning a BIG 500 FOLLOWER CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY soon!! I'm definitely excited about that and hope you will all stop by to enter :)

This week's Follow Friday question:

Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or meal with just talking about either books or get advice on writing from?

I am sure that everyone is going to say my first one, but J.K. Rowling would be my first pick! I've heard how Harry Potter was born on scraps of napkins when J.K. was still a struggling single mom, but I would love to sit down and talk about where all her amazing ideas came from and how they turned into the magical world from her books!

My second pick would be Anna Godbersen-- a new, young author who wrote The Luxe series, I really loved those, and I guess my third pick would be Scott Westerfeld because I love Steampunk and I love the world and characters he created in his book Leviathan.

What authors would you want to meet and talk with? Leave me a comment and I will come see what you had to say! :)


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

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For those who don't know, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme where we get to let everyone know about what books we are eagerly anticipating the release of. WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. Want to participate? Follow the link, post your own WoW entry on your blog, and leave your link on her blog!

*****
OK, so I absolutely LOVE Anna Godbersen, and have already read all four books in her Luxe series. I also read Bright Young Things, which is the first in a new series that centers around a group of girls living in the Roaring Twenties-- the next installment of this will be coming out later this year, and I am pretty psyched! Here are the details for Beautiful Days, second in the Bright Young Things series:

Author: Anna Godbersen
Release date: September 20, 2011
Pages: 416
Summary: In this must-have sequel to Bright Young Things, Cordelia and Letty are small-town girls no longer. Letty is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams. Cordelia thought she lost her true love, but a chance meeting will change her fortune— and her future. The unflappable flapper Astrid Donal has promised herself to Charlie Grey, Cordelia’s half-brother, but isn’t sure their love is true enough to survive. And a bitter rivalry will ensnare them all in a dangerous feud played out in the speakeasies of Manhattan and on the great lawns of Long Island. As these bright young things live out their beautiful days in the summer of 1929, they find romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, new friends and unexpected rivals.

*****
I just love the drama, the gossip, the opulence, the wreckless lifestyles and memorable characters portrayed in these books! I'm sure that Beautiful Days will be yet another great read from Anna Godbersen-- definitely looking forward to it!

So... what are you waiting for this week??

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Review: The Replacement

Author: Brenna Yavonoff
Release Date: September 21, 2010
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 343
Read it in: 3 days

Summary: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a tattooed little princess. He is a Replacement-- left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us. He just wants to play bass guitar and find out more about an oddly intriguing girl named Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

LC's Take: 

So to put it simply, I was not a fan of this book. Like, at all. Actually, I kind of hated it. I'm really not sure what I was expecting it to be, but I definitely wasn't thinking it would be a lame high school drama mixed with painfully dull characters and even more painfully boring and lackluster writing. I guess the cover is what attracted me to read this book in the first place, but honestly, great packaging and poor content does not equal a good book.

First, there were the thoroughly unlikable characters: Tate was an angry stalker full of contempt towards Mackie, Roswell was a total perv who treated women like pieces of meat, Mackie's parents were typical and stereotyped and completely unwilling to do anything useful, and everyone else was easily forgettable. I didn't like these characters, therefore I didn't care what happened to them.

Then there was Mackie Doyle, the "tortured soul" main character. Usually I love reading from a guy's point of view (Ship Breaker, Leviathan-- amazing.) but I could not connect with him at all. All Mackie seemed to do was a.) be pale and emo b.) get nauseous or faint every time he was around metal or blood or loud noises or strong smells or slight air currents, or c.) lust after Alice the slutty hot girl in school, or d.) talk about how incredibly fake everyone is in town. It got old very quickly. I have a difficult time sympathizing with a character who does nothing but whine and complain all the time, even if it's for a legitimate reason. In the end, Mackie was just a male version of Bella Swan-- empty, dull, bland, vapid--  and I couldn't bring myself to care about what happened to him either.

Speaking of tortured, the writing was just awful. It was serious work just trying to slog through each chapter. To give you some idea of what I'm talking about, imagine reading something like this for 340 pages, and you'll get the picture very quickly:

"I yanked off my T-shirt and pulled the shades down. Then I lay down with my face to the wall and pulled the covers over my head. I woke up with a jolt. It was dark. My phone was buzzing on my bedside table, and I rolled over.... I wanted to go to sleep. The phone just kept buzzing."

Soooo... have you fallen asleep yet? I don't know, but for me, this kind of writing is incredibly bland and formulaic: I woke up and did a. It was b and c. Then I did d. I felt e. Then... blah, blah,blah. I just can't stay focused on writing like this! It's almost as exciting as watching paint dry. 

And then, how about character dialogues like this?

"Come on, you don't want to miss this. 'Tis the season for girls to dress like hookers. We'll catch up with the twins, get a little socially lubricated. I have this feeling that Alice is particularly looking forward to your company."

Are you kidding me? First off Brenna, nobody talks like that. In my 4 years of high school and 6 years of college, I've not once heard anyone use the term "socially lubricated." Second of all, no one is going to like characters who either are hookers or who label girls as being hookers or obsess over girls because they dress like hookers. Maybe people do this, but that doesn't make me want to read about them, and it sure doesn't lead me to care about what happens to them. Furthermore, I would not recommend a book that makes women out to be hoes or treats sex so casually. I'm not being unrealistic or a prude-- I just find it to be completely unnecessary when it has nothing to do with the plot or the characterization. If you have an awesome story and brilliant writing, you don't need to waste your time or the reader's with cheap add-ins about getting trashed and banging the popular girls at school. 

Another aspect of the writing that drove me crazy were all of the contradicting statements. I'm guessing they were intentional, but I didn't understand the point of them, except to make me really confused:
  • "She looked strange and fantastical and startling and normal." (How do you look strange and normal at the same time?)
  • "...when I glanced in the mirror again, I recognized myself, and I didn't." (So... did you or didn't you?)
  • "As soon as I reached the bottom of the ravine, I felt desperately relieved. And much, much worse." (Umm... relief means alleviation and the removal of pain, so... how would you feel worse if you were relieved??)

Finally, I hate obvious plot holes-- even little ones. I consider myself to be a halfway intelligent person, and I don't appreciate books that try to breeze over contradictions like I'm too stupid to notice. So, if I'm reading along and something clearly makes no logical sense based on what the author has already laid out, it drives me right up the wall. For example:
  • Mackie is supposed to act like a "normal kid" and not get noticed. Yet some days he has completely black eyes-- don't you think that someone would maybe, just maybe, notice something that freaky?
  • Mackie is hypersensitive to loud noises, like doors that close too fast-- and yet he can go to heavy metal rock concerts with mosh pits and be just fine. WHAT?
  • So, Mackie can drink beer out of a can, huh?? I thought he was deathly allergic to metal in any form.
  • Every seven years the town gives one of their children to the underworld demon-creatures and they, in turn, make the town "prosper." So I was picturing something like out of the Stepford Wives-- beautiful mansions, manicured lawns, everything perfect to cover-up something ugly. But not once is the town described as perfect or prospering-- in fact, it's run-down and poor. So I don't get it-- what was the point of sacrificing a kid every seven years?
I will end by just saying that this book wasn't for me. That doesn't mean it isn't for anyone, but I personally disliked it to no end. The writing was stale and stilted, the characters were completely unlikable, the dialogue was fake and cheesy, and the premise-- while intriguing-- was never able to reach its full potential. I did finish this book, trying to give it a chance, but in the end, there really was nothing about this book that I liked. 

LC's Rating:
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Poor writing and bad characterization ruined this book for me. Which is sad, because the plot could have worked. Altogether, a big disappointment.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye, Harry


So, I don't usually devote an entire post to something like this, and you may find it a bit annoying and carried away, but honestly, I just had to talk about Harry Potter and what the series means to me. I think those who have grown up reading these books know exactly how I feel, now that the phenomenon has officially come to its end with the release of the last movie.

When I saw the movie last night, I cried at several different parts. I think some people would probably think I was crazy. They might wonder, what the heck is the big deal?? And maybe that's difficult to understand if you didn't grow up with this series. But for many of us, these aren't just books and movies-- these are memories that we've grown up with, this is a story that we've spent years following and anticipating, and these are characters that we know as well as we know good friends... We have followed Harry Potter on a journey, and now that journey is officially at its end.

Many young adults my age grew up right along with Harry, Hermione, and Ron-- and the experience has been incredible, unlike any other I have ever experienced from a book. To say goodbye to them, knowing that their story is over, is actually very emotional! I feel like a total dork saying that, but it's very true-- we have all grown immensely attached to these characters, the story, and the world of Harry Potter. We remember exactly how we felt when we read the first book, experiencing the excitement and fascination of Hogwarts and discovering a world of magic. We remember where we were in our own lives at the time we were reading certain parts of the story. We eagerly anticipated the release of the next book, barely able to contain our impatience to get our hands on the next installment to see what was going to happen. We all probably cried (I did!) when Dumbledore died, convincing ourselves he was somehow going to come back. And we all felt that sense of finality when we read the last page of the last book, after staying up all night to finish on the night of its release. Now that the last movie is out,  the Harry Potter series will be put to rest, so to speak, and its very bittersweet.

My copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a paperback-- the edges are frayed and the cover is torn. There's probably even crumbs between the pages. Even though slightly worse for the wear, I can't help but smile when I look at it, because it was here that I was first captivated by this amazing series. Harry Potter fans will always cherish their own experiences with this story, and for years to come they will have great memories to look back on.

It takes a truly amazing story with truly unforgettable characters to achieve the level of devotion and fandom that Harry Potter has received over the past 14 years. It has sold nearly 450 million copies and has been translated into over 67 languages. It has broken-- in some cases shattered-- numerous records. It has even introduced words into the English language that are now common knowledge. And most importantly, it has in many cases given people a love for reading that they never had before. I've heard some people say that Harry Potter will "always be a part of them," and that this is "an end of an era," and it's not because they're completely crazy. It's because this really is something that has touched people and  brought them together-- it is something to read, watch, talk about, experience and share with others.

I guess my consolation is that, even though the story is done for us, there are so many other young people out there who have yet to discover the wonder and magic that is Harry Potter. If I have kids one day, I hope that they will love the series as much as I did! I hope that they'll be completely wrapped up and enchanted with the books as much as I was the first time I read them. Even though they didn't grow up with the excitement of the book and movie releases, I think that the most important part of the series is how it takes you to another place and evokes emotions in you that you'll never forget. And that's something that will last forever. 

Thank you J.K. Rowling, for the incredible journey, and for giving us all the best reading experience we have ever had.



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Time for a walk down memory lane! Below are some of my favorite books, characters and moments from the Harry Potter series...

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Follow Me Friday (9)

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Follow Me Friday is a fun book meme hosted by the fabulous Parajunkee over at Parajunkee's View. Have a book blog? You can play with us too! Just visit Parajunkee's site at the link above-- be sure you are a follower of her blog and the blog she is featuring for the week, put your name in the Linky, create your own FF post on your blog, and then start commenting and following whomever you wish!

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This week I worked on the finishing touches to my blog makeover, and also finished reading and reviewing Entwined by Heather Dixon (so cute!) and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, which was totally awesome!

In other exciting news, I am planning a big celebration giveaway for when I reach the 500 follower mark, so be sure to keep your eyes out for that! Who knows? It might start this weekend ;)

This week's Follow Friday question:

What do I do when I am not reading?

When I'm not reading (or blogging) I'm usually at work! I'm a librarian, and I work part-time at both an academic (college) library and as a substitute at the city branch public libraries, so I am all over the place. For the most part I really like my job(s) and since I want to one day become a full-time YA/Teen Librarian, this blog is not only a hobby, it's sort of helping me towards my career goals too! :) So that's pretty awesome.

A specific example of what I do when I'm not reading/blogging: I'm staying up until 3:30AM to go see the opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2!!! Haha, which is why I wasn't able to post my FF question until now at 10:30 in the morning, because I JUST woke up. But that's a totally legit reason, I think, because the movie was AWESOME. Like, holy crap, just AWESOME! I'm not going to give anything away to those who haven't seen it yet, but let me just say: 1.) I cried A LOT, and 2.) Professor McGonagall was such a badass! (Favorite line: "I've always wanted to use that spell" LOVE it!!!) So anyways, sorry for the late posting but I am dead-tired today... I am really sad that the Harry Potter phenomenon is officially over and done with, but I am planning on checking out this whole "Pottermore" online experience in September-- I don't really understand what it is besides an interactive reading experience, but it might be cool!

So Happy Friday everyone! I'm guessing there's quite a few other fellow HP fans out there who are zombies today! ;) 

Leave me a comment and I will get back to you...


Book Review: Leviathan

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Pages: 440
Read it in: 4 days

Summary: It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way... taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change their lives forever.

LC's Take: 

I am really surprised by how much I loved this book. When I first read the summary, I wasn't terribly enthralled-- WWI has never interested me in the slightest and to be honest, it just sounded too much like a "boy's book." But I thought, well, I will give this a shot, and see if it surprises me. In any case, I like challenging myself to read something completely different from what I am used to. In this case, I am really glad I did because this book was totally badass. 

Leviathan was an action-packed adventure from the first chapter-- I'm talking guns, battles, machines, escapes-- the whole bit. Scott Westerfeld is such an awesome writer that I was able to get completely caught up in the story. WWI tactics and diplomacy were mixed in with Steampunk machinery and an awesome range of memorable characters. I loved Alek, the 15-year old heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was in that awkward phase between being a boy and a man, but his courage and heart shone through. And Deryn? OMG she was THE BEST! Finally, here is a strong female heroine where the author shows you her strength, bravery, humor and charisma. Incorrigible and independent, Deryn disguises herself as a boy to enter the British Air Service. She has a spirit and style all her own, and this has made her one of my new favorite characters! Dr. Barlow, the female Darwin scientist who is the crux of the Leviathan's mission was also a great character-- smart though somewhat annoying and bossy, she is another example of amazing characterization.

The world-building in Leviathan was incredible. Whether it was being on board the giant living Darwinist airship made out of a huge living whale and other "beasties," floating thousands of feet in the air, or inside the "Clanker" Stormwalker made of iron-- Westerfeld paints his Steampunk inventions and creations with words. And as an added bonus, this book had illustrations! How cool is that? These were amazing, and they added that much more to the story being told. (The one to the right is a pic of the Leviathan airship!)

Because Leviathan is a Steampunk novel, it is also an alternate history, telling a story based on historical fact but changing things around by asking the question "What if so-and-so had happened?" What if Darwin had discovered DNA and science was advanced enough to fabricate new creatures? What if technology was far enough along to build walking machines? As Scott says in his Afterword, "That is the nature of Steampunk-- blending future and past." I for one, loved it.

If you are looking for a good action-adventure with incredible world-building, unforgettable characters and humor sprinkled throughout, I would totally recommend you read this book! Don't let the synopsis scare you away-- even if it doesn't sound like a plot you would normally be interested in, I would give it a chance anyways-- I am so happy that I did!

LC's Rating:
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Leviathan was a smart, fast-paced Steampunk adventure that left me wanting more-- Scott Westerfeld is such an amazing writer, and I can't wait to read the other books in this series!

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