Sunday, July 31, 2011

Legend by Marie Lu

*** ½
Description taken from back cover:

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy committed to her country.

Born into the slums of Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal.

From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths-until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered.  And Day becomes the prime suspect.

Now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival while June tries desperately to avenge Metias’s death.  But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.


I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of Legend via librarything.com.  I have been sitting on it for a little while as I have been a little nervous to read it.  Just in case you weren’t aware, I LOVE The Hunger Games.  Worse yet, THG was the first and only dystopian series I have read.  With that being my basis for comparison, I was afraid that my expectations would be too high and that they wouldn’t be met.  But this week, I decided to put my fears aside and moved Legend to the top of my to-be-read pile.  And I am glad that I did.

Let me get The Hunger Games comparison out of the way first.  The only similarity between the two books is that they take place in a dystopian society where the government negatively controls everything one way or another.  Other than that, throw all your other preconceived THG-based dystopian ideas out the window.  The two books are nothing alike and I couldn’t have been happier about that fact. 

There were a couple things that I really didn’t care for in this book.  First, as much as I love romance, I actually would have preferred the romance to be taken more slowly or removed all together.  Regardless of the events that take place in the book, I would have expected there to be a lot more distrust between Day and June.  Second, everything seemed to be a little underwhelming and I felt that a lot of the story was predictable.  With the exception of a couple scenes, nothing shocked or surprised me. 

But you know what? This still turned out to be a really fun novel.  Marie Lu’s skills/strengths are in developing her main characters and making a story move.  Maybe I don’t think June and Day should be each other’s romantic interest but that doesn’t mean I didn’t absolutely love them individually.  Day is a future-day Robin Hood which makes you want to root for him immediately.  June is a girl that is very driven and not afraid to use her extreme intelligence to reach her goals (it was probably the military aspect but she made me think of a young Honor Harrington).  They are both very strong characters which is always a plus with the Bibliojunkies.

And even though I found a lot of this story to be predictable, that doesn’t mean it was at all slow.  Lu did an amazing job of making the action flow quickly.  This along with the love of the main characters made it difficult to put the book down.  I admit to staying up until 4 a.m reading Legend.  I finally had to force myself to go to sleep even though I only had 40 pages left.  No matter how much I was enjoying the book, those adorable pesky toddlers would be up bright and early only a few short hours later.   

The only problem now?  I have learned the down-side of reading an Advanced Readers Copy…the wait is even longer when you are looking forward to the next installment in the series.  And I will DEFINITELY be looking forward to the sequel to Legend.

Nat

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bel's Love Letter to Damon Salvatore

Dear Damon,


You are at the upper echelon of super snarky bad boys.  You should be.  You’ve had 100+ years to perfect your special brand of dry wit and humor.  I love everything about you but mostly because you’re played by this guy on TV. ----------------------------------------------- >    

Now I’ve read the first Vampire Diaries novel and I shamefully admit that you didn’t quite grab me in that one.  You were just so undead and unfunny.  Where was the Damon that I had grown to obsess over?  So I’m just going to have to talk about you as you’re portrayed on TV because let’s face it, HE as YOU is the entire reason to watch that show. 

Dam-Ian , every week I tune in eagerly to know what gem of a quote you’ll dish out that I can post on my Facebook page.  Three of my favorite quotes: 

“What’s so special about this Bella girl?”

“If I see something I haven’t seen before, I’ll throw a dollar at it.”

And the best one ever that had me at the edge of my seat and sent shivers through me:  


Clearly that demonstrated what a serious menace you can be!

I look forward to that intense gaze and the many eye rolls whenever someone says something particularly stupid or mushy.  You make Thursday nights the best thing on TV since any previous CW show that featured hotties plastered all over high school girls’ lockers.  Your "charming" ways have brought together mothers and daughters everywhere.  (Mothers mostly to reiterate how their darling daughters should never go out with the likes of you but they secretly crush on you anyway.)  Where Stefan and those other boys are constantly moody and whiny, you’re simply a loose cannon. I just sit back and enjoy watching it all unfold because you’ll be entertaining in the process.  What else could I ask for?

And now, I wait patiently for the new season to begin.  Dam-Ian, you have some competition there with Klaus in the picture now.  He’s just as dry-witted and snarky as you are and he has a way with the ladies himself.  But I’ll still be devoted to you because I’m nothing if not loyal to any of my favorite fictional characters in my imaginary world.  Just ask Nat and Shel.  Actually don't.  Just ask me.

So I’ll end this letter with a few lines from a song that I think expresses the way I and a lot of other ladies out there feel about you …

“You’re all I see, sink in to me.
Sharpen your teeth, sink into me.
Sink in to me.

I'd like to see our roles reversed,
to watch you hang on every word,
I'd like to see you have your way.

I keep my grammar well rehearsed,
correct each stutter, every slur,
come on and have you way with me."

"Sink Into Me" by Taking Back Sunday


Love,
Bel

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot




Pierce Oliviera died.  No really, she drown in her family's pool while trying to save a bird.  While in the Underworld she runs into John, a young man she met when she was 7 years old in the cemetery after her grandfather's funeral.  She rushes to John hoping he can help her, as he did when she was young and gets much more than she bargained for.  Scared and confused, Pierce escapes the Underworld.  Abandon takes place a year and a half after Pierce died.  In a series of flashbacks, Pierce tells us how she came to be on Isla Huesos (an island off the coast of Florida where her mother grew up & her mother's family still lives).  Pierce is trying to come to terms with her death, her new life, the terrible things that seem to follow her now and John's involvement in these terrible things. 

Abandon brings together two things I adore, Meg Cabot and Greek mythology.  I have read nearly all of Meg Cabot's books. I even met her with Maggie Stiefvater and Libba Bray at a recent This Is Teen event (my copy of Size 12 is Not Fat now sports her autograph!).  I equate Ms. Cabot with the quirky, funny, pop culture worshiping books like the Heather Wells Series, The Boy Series, or the Princess Diaries.  Abandon has a much different tone and voice than Ms. Cabot's other works.  In fact, the book was much darker than I was expecting and I was mesmerized.  Telling the story in flashbacks kept me constantly guessing what had happened to bring Pierce to this place in life and where the story would go. 

This is a unique perspective on the story of Hades & Persephone.  The Furies got a whole new purpose and identity.  I had a little problem with Pierce's anger towards John in the beginning of the book as it seemed a little disproportionate to his "crimes", but as Nat and Bel always tell me, she is a teenager, so that was easy to get over to enjoy the book.  Of course, Abandon is the first in a trilogy; therefore, the ending left me feeling... unfinished.  And so begins the torture of waiting until next summer for the next installment - - Why must you torture me so Meg, why?!  I might forgive you for this punishment if you announce a (hopefully soon) release date for Heather Wells Book 4!
~ Shel

A retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone. 

Confessions of a Peeta Lover

Hello.  My name is Nat and I have an obsession with Peeta Mellark*. 

For as long as I can remember I have loved romance.  I love reading about falling in love.  Even as a kid, while reading Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, I couldn’t wait to get to the romantic parts.  Hell, I even loved the “romance” in my Babysitter’s Club books.  Seriously, what 10 year old doesn’t love Logan? 

I became a teenager and introduced myself to Jane Austen…the queen of romance.  She gave us Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley and Captain Wentworth and many others.  Then I hit my late teens and discovered the dreaded historical romance.  I have read more romance novels than I care to admit.  Most of them were terrible but some really were great….assuming you love reading about LOOOOOOVE.   I did finally tire of the over abundance of terrible in this genre but continue to read books by a few favorite authors (Julia Quinn for historical romantic comedy, Lisa Kleypas for historical romance and Nora Roberts for contemporary romance). 

Then Bibliojunkie Shel gave me Twilight (my first YA novel – not counting Harry Potter or Percy Jackson) as a gift this past year I had no idea that I would find a whole new class of fictional boys to not only fall in love with but thoroughly obsess over.  Thank goodness Bel and Shel share some of this obsession. 

I of course fell in love with Edward Cullen.  Then came Jace Wayland/Morgenstern/Herondale/Lightwood and all his beautiful and snarky honesty.  This particular obsession lasted months.  Even now if you mention brick walls and mangoes, Bel and I will dissolve into a fit of giggles.  Then I finally caught up with the world and read the Hunger Games.  And now my obsession with Peeta borders on the ridiculous.  It’s been months and months.  Patch gave me a temporary reprieve and I really thought Sam Roth might take over but no…it’s all Peeta.  All. The. Time.  I can’t get enough of the boy with the bread.  Jace?  Patch?  One night stands.  Peeta?  Much like Sam, he is the forever boy. 

So the point?  Good God, help me find a new fictional boy to obsess over.  My poor fellow Bibliojunkies (not to mention my husband) are getting tired of the Peeta obsession. 

What do you suggest?  What boy do you think will wow the pants right off me?  I am taking book recommendations starting. Right. Now!

Nat

*The above drawing of Peeta was done by DeviantArt artist sacha11410.

Gravity by Abigail Boyd

***

I won this book via a Member Giveaway on Librarything.com.  The author, Abigail Boyd, is a young Independent Author.  This is her first novel. 

Description taken from Abigail Boyd’s website:

15-year-old Ariel Donovan’s best friend went missing over the summer.  Now she has to face the prospect of life without her, in the same close-knit town of Hell, Michigan.  When she dreams of Jenna running to the old orphanage in town, and starts experiencing supernatural phenomena, she knows she needs to discover what happens.

With the help of a new friend in quirky artist Theo, and handsome crush Henry, Ariel tries to uncover the secrets that Hell is hiding, and find out where Jenna is now.


I was really looking forward to reading something from a newly published author.  When I read the following in the first few pages of Gravity, I knew I would probably enjoy this book:

“Truthfully, all my life I’ve been a bit strange, with an interest in the macabre.  When I was seven I made a shoebox diorama of the Donner Party, complete with tiny clay body parts and half a bottle of red food coloring.”

Yeah, I have a sick sense of humor. 

There is so much I want to say about this book and I don’t know where to begin.  First off, this is a great story. I would describe it as a paranormal mystery with some romance thrown in.  There are some definite creepy parts (granted I am a huge wuss when it comes to ghosts).  There was a definite Buffy feel to it.  Sometimes the similarities were almost too much for me.  If a hell mouth opened up under the high school, I would have thrown my Nook across the room.  And that would have sucked….bad.  But a hell mouth didn’t open under the high school so I didn’t throw my Nook and I was able to enjoy the story for what it was.


As far as the characters, the heroine, Ariel, is pretty darn likeable.  Boyd did a wonderful job of developing her character as well as Ariel’s new friend Theo.  The love interest in the story is pretty happy and likeable and not gloomy like so many other YA heroes. 

The book did start out a little slow and I think that is because the writing comes across as a somewhat sophomoric.  There were also a number of grammatical errors which I have found common in self-published books.   But I think these things are more than forgivable considering 1. This is Ms. Boyd’s first novel, 2. The characters are so well developed and 3.The story itself is great.

I was torn between giving this book 2.5 stars or 3 stars.  I am going with 3 since it kept my interest enough to want to know what happens next.  I will be buying the next book in this series when it comes out on August 1st.  

If you are interested in reading Gravity, you can purchase it for Kindle at Amazon.com or Smashwords.com for other e-reader formats.

Nat

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising

By Jason Henderson


Fourteen year-old, Alex Van Helsing has been sent away to a boarding school in Lake Geneva, Switzerland by his parents in an effort to escape difficulties he had at his previous school.  And trouble likes to follow Alex.

Early on it turns out that Lake Geneva has seen some strange unexplained deaths that have become more frequent.  Alex encounters one such bizarre death but can’t quite believe what he’s seen.  Unsure of what to make of it, he keeps it to himself as he continues to witness strange occurrences around him.

Pretty quickly, Alex comes to learn whom he is – that he is a descendent of the original Van Helsing and that his family has been part of a secret vampire-hunting community known as the Polidorium. His literature teacher, Mr. Sangster, befriends him and becomes a mentor to him. Alex also gains plenty of help from his school friends Sid, Paul, Minhi who all get pulled into a world where vampires do exist.  With their help, the Polidorium investigate why Lake Geneva has all of a sudden become the destination to be for vampires.   In the process they come face to face with head vampire, Icemaker. 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein also becomes a critical part of Alex’s world.  The premise of how the story of Frankenstein came to be serves as an invaluable roadmap for the Polidorium.  I love how the author intertwined the historical characters behind it into this story adding suspense and just enough creep factor.  (Bram Stoker's Dracula is also mentioned a few times.)

I have to admit that this was a different kind of book for me and I’m glad I read it.  Alex and his friends are likeable characters who are smart and fun and they don’t come off as helpless.  I'm looking forward to seeing where their next adventure takes them.  

So if you’re looking for something quick and action-packed, this is a great book to start with. And if you're so inclined, the second book in the series, "Voice of the Undead" comes out July 26.

Bel

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop 7/24/2011


Today we will be joining the Book Blogger Hop created and hosted by Crazy For Books. Thank you Jennifer for hosting this Hop!

Today's Book Blogger Hop Question is:

What's the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, but just can't?


Nat - Horror. I will pretty much read anything except that.

Bel - Horror or Harlequin...Same thing to me.

Shel - This is Nat speaking up for Shel. I will guess she will agree with me and Bel on the Horror but she might surprise us when she weighs in.  **Shel here - Horror was a good call Nat, but I do not "wish" I could get into it, so my answer is actually Biographies.  There are so many great biographies out there about interesting people and I would love to read them, but I just cannot get into them.  I used to read them all the time when I was a kid, but as an adult, I just can't.  ~Shel


How about you?  What's the one genre that YOU wish you could get into?

The Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

****

Book #1 - The Summoning

Book #2 - The Awakening

Book #3 - The Reckoning
The Darkest Power Trilogy focuses on Chloe Saunders.  Not long after she turns fifteen she has a frightening encounter with a janitor at school.  A janitor that, according to everyone else, doesn’t exist.  The experience lands her with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and an extended stay at Lyle House – a house for troubled teens. 

At Lyle House, kids are periodically removed once they have adequately responded to treatment.  But a few of Chloe’s housemates begin to suspect differently.  Once they begin to investigate their suspicions, Chloe learns of a world she never knew existed and she and her new friends search for a way to escape in order to survive.

This trilogy is not something I would normally have picked up but Barnes and Noble told me to buy it (based on my previous purchases) and I listened.  And I am glad that I did.  This is a fun and scary series.  I personally enjoyed the true youthfulness of the characters.  They act their age.  Chloe acts like a girl that JUST turned fifteen.  She is sometimes timid and she is excited and scared to death to someday experience her first kiss.  You still get the teen angst required in this genre but it feels so believable that I found it much less annoying than usual.  I also loved the romance in this series.  Partially because it is NOT the focus of the story.  But I also loved it because it was so sweet and believable.  It takes a while for the two of them to realize they are even attracted to each other.  And when they do finally discover it, it isn’t forbidden and it isn’t perfect.  I won’t tell you who the two are.  That would be a spoiler indeed and I am trying to avoid that - crazy hard to do when you are reviewing three books at once.

I will warn you that Kelley Armstrong ends this trilogy with unfinished business.  BUT…Her new YA trilogy Darkness Rising explores the same world.  And her intent is to bring Chloe and her group of friend together with the cast from Darkness Rising at some point.  So we may get more closure in the future.

So in the end, I definitely recommend these.  If you are a big wuss like me, you will probably get scared while reading these.  But if you are like most NORMAL people, these books will provide some suspense and some definite creepy moments.  However, the normal people probably won’t run through the house turning on every light possible.  Not that I did that at all….

Nat



Nat

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

*****


If you read my reviews of Shiver and Linger, you probably think I am a big cry baby.  And after reading Forever, I am almost inclined to agree with you.  Maggie Stiefvater has done it again.  This book is just as beautiful as the last two.  The description and poetry in Forever is quite moving.

The story again alternates between the POV of Sam, Grace, Isabel and Cole.  The motivating action of the books is that Isabel’s father has managed to get a large hunt approved to not just drive the wolves out of Mercy Falls but also to kill every last one of them.  Unfortunately I can’t tell you more than that without adding spoilers.  I can tell you that Sam is a bit more frustrating in this story.  As he says in all three books “I am good at waiting.”  He IS good at waiting and it’s not always the right move.  Grace is slightly more distant as she deals with all the changes in her life.  Isabel is Isabel; always hurting.  And Cole….well Cole is growing in a way that really makes this Cole’s story.  In Linger you wanted to smack Cole.  In Forever, you want smack him and then maybe push him up against a brick wall.  And his little genius quirks had me giggling more times than I can count.

Some have complained that Sam and Grace’s romance isn’t nearly as strong.  I am inclined to disagree.  What I have loved about these books is that everything between Sam and Grace is quietly passionate.  And I don’t think that has changed.  The blooming romance between Cole and Isabel is sweet, bitter and hilarious.  A particular scene in Isabel’s mom’s clinic really defines their relationship perfectly.

Just a word of warning….Ms. Stiefvater does not neatly wrap up the ending with a big bow and present it to us on a silver platter.  There are loose ends that leave you wondering.  In my opinion it works.  A neatly tied up ending would not have fit with this story and would have cheapened it.

As you may have guessed, I cannot recommend these books enough.  So if you haven’t already, go out, buy them, read them.  You won’t be disappointed.


Nat

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young



I knew nothing about A Need So Beautiful when I picked it up. I hadn't even read the description or blurb on the pack of the book. I could not have told you that the books is the story of Charlotte, your typical teenager with a boyfriend she adores, a foster-mother that adores her and a best friend obsessed with shopping and boys.

However, Charlotte has very untypical compulsions. She is often struck by a "Need" to find a certain person and deliver a message - a warning, a direction, something the universe wants that person to know. When Charlotte is struck by these Needs, she cannot ignore them and experiences physical pain if she tries. A Need So Beautiful is a heart-wrenching story that follows Charlotte as she discovers and deals with who and what she is.

Just as the title suggests, this is a beautiful story. I am not an emotional person, so you can imagine my surprise to find myself wiping away tears at the end.  This book tore me apart.  I finished last week and am still haunted by it.  Kudos and thanks to Suzanne Young for this astonishing story.  I will be waiting for A Want So Wicked with excitement and trepidation.  Oh, and I will definitely remember Kleenex...

~Shel

Snow Patrol - Called Out In the Dark!

I know, we are mainly a book blog, but I NEEDED to share my joy over new Snow Patrol!  A new sound for the Eskimos.  I hope you enjoy! 



~Shel

GIVEAWAY!!! SIGNED copy of FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater

Here we go kids…The first Bibliojunkies giveaway!  And it’s a good one too!  When we hit 50 followers on Twitter, we are giving away a SIGNED copy of FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater!  So spread the word.  Tell your friends, your sisters, your brothers, your husbands….you get the idea.  Once we hit 50 followers we will post the rules for the giveaway*. 

Check out our reviews for Shiver and Linger.  Also, check in with us this weekend for our review of Forever. 

*Just a heads up...Hopefully we can expand in the future but our first giveaway will be limited to the continental United States.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Hunger Games - In Motion

Nat and Bel are huge fans of the trilogy and are waiting anxiously for the movie to come out in March of next year.  In the meantime, we'll just soak up anything Hunger Games related - teasers, blurbs, previews and this brilliantly awesome motion poster!   


http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/07/20/hunger-games-motion-poster/

And if you're a die hard fan, don't forget to enter the Ultimate Hunger Games Fan Sweeps on Facebook!

Girl Meets Author

Nat got to meet her "author-crush" at a book signing yesterday.  Not to worry. No hysterical screams or tears.  Just lots of laughter as it was revealed, "Nat has a girl crush on you."  To which Ms. Stiefvater enthusiastically replied, "Please, tell me more about my eyes!".


Thank you for an enjoyable evening!  - Bel


Nat & Maggie "Beautiful Eyes" Stiefvater
July 19, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Books & Torture

Everyone knows the feeling.  You are lost in a book.  You come to the end, the climax of the story and then it's over.  Still exhilarated and riding the high of the book, you hop online to see when the next book in the series is going to be released (because pretty much all books are part of a series these days) and you see it, your heart plummets, you are overcome by disappointment.  The book will not be released for a year... 

This draconian practice in the publishing industry is torture, pure torture.  I am not a patient person.  Nope, no one has ever said that patience is one of my virtues.  I love seeing a movie or reading a book as soon as it is released.  When everyone is excited about the release and there is a buzz in the air.  Being a fan of instant gratification, waiting a year for a book is hell for me.  It has gotten to the point that I go against my nature and do not read the books from my favorite series or authors as soon as they are released.  I save them, so that I can read one book and then the next.  I currently have three books in the Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series saved up to read.  Luckily, Explosive Eighteen is releasing early (11/22/11), so we get two Stephanie books this year!  I will have four books saved up for November!

And, because I have the attention span of the average 16 year old, unless it is a book/author I truly love, in the year between books, I often lose interest or move on to other books/things.  My books shelves are full of partial series' of books.  Publishers and authors have apparently taken Psych 101 and combat my attention span by offering "sneak peeks" and "teasers" for the upcoming releases.  For someone like me, this practice is even more tortuous than waiting the year for the next book.  When I start to read a book, I want to keep reading it.  Giving me a few sentences, pages or even a chapter or two is just plain mean. 

Did you all read City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare?  It released April 5, 2011.  I had just finished the other the Mortal Instruments books (an excellent series and BiblioJunkies favorite), so it was natural to move directly to reading COFA.  The ending of this book is probably the best cliff-hanger I have ever read.  I needed to read what happened next.  Of course, I jumped online to Cassandra Clare's website and was horrified to find that City of Lost Souls will not be released until May 2012.  Yep, that's right - more than a year after COFA was released.  I wanted to scream - not exaggerating.  I love your writing Cassie, so please do not take my pain as criticism!  I bring this up because Cassandra Clare is the queen of sneak peeks and teasers.  In fact, she does one per month (for each series, the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices).  While I appreciate that she wants to keep the buzz around her books given the obscene length of time between COFA and COLS, it is like opening a old wound every month...

I have been fortunate this year in that most books I have come across have the next in the series releasing soon - as in next week or in the next few months.  This makes me very happy.  Which brings me to one of my favorite things - telling people what I am looking forward to reading in the hopes that they will love the books as much as I do. 

Here goes:

July 26 Releases:


I Am Number Four The Lost Files:  Six's Legacy by Pittacus Lore



Supernaturally by Kiersten White



Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead by Jason Henderson



Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Tonight, the BiblioJunkies will be heading to Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville, IL to meet Maggie Stiefvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Shiver, Linger and Forever.  Check out Nat's reviews from last week. 

~Shel

Art of Fictional Love Spotlight

Before us girls decided to start Bibliojunkies we would pass links to our favorite fan art to each other.   This is art by other fans out there; artists as in love with our favorite books and characters as we are.  So of course we want to periodically share some of this with you in what we will call our Art of Fictional Love Spotlight. 
Today’s Spotlight is simply called Patch Cipriano.  It’s hard to not lust after this bad boy from Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series.  He is just so, so naughty…Yum!



This version of Patch was drawn by Chelsea-bee.  Please, please look at her gallery at http://chelsea-bee.deviantart.com/gallery/ to see more of her FANTASTIC art. 
For a good laugh check out her drawing titled Jace Wayland Performs Ke$haOr for a great Awwww moment check out  After the storm from The Hunger Games Trilogy or Sam and His Grace from the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy.
Enjoy!




Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dark Elite release contest!

The Dark Elite release contest! - Head on over! Chloe Neill is giving away books & swag to celebrate the release of The Dark Elite. You may recall from my post yesterday that I listed Chloe's Dark Elite and Chicago Vampire series as two of my favorites read in recent months. This is your chance to check it out!

~Shel

Harry Potter: The End







As you may know, if you follow us on twitter, the Bibliojunkies had a girls' night on Saturday to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.  This was a bittersweet night for me, so you will have to forgive my uncharacteristic sentimentality.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the Harry Potter books rank as one of my favorite series.  It was the first series I became obsessed with as an adult - I read and re-read the books more times than I can count, except the last two.  The last two books I have only read once (I have no explanation as to why). 

It is a long-standing joke among the BiblioJunkies that I get very upset at the movies because they change details in the movies for no reason (ie, having the characters in muggle clothes in the movies) and since I have excellent recall of the details of the books, I have had many issues with the moves.  I will not share all of my rants, needless to say, Bel and Nat were giving me a hard time Saturday night.  I believe I shocked them both when I did not rant about anything over pie after the movie.  It may surprise you to learn that a BiblioJunkies girls' night out often involves movies, discussion of books we are reading, discussion of boys (including our fictional boyfriends from the books we are reading) and pie at Baker's Square (or other sweet treat - it is Ice Cream Month you know). 

Right, back to DH.  The two part conclusion of the series are definitely my favorite movies of the series.  Maybe it is because I have not read the book since the day it was released or because the film makers stepped it up for the finales - either way, they are my favorites.  The cinematography and special effects were amazing.  The actors were phenomenal, as always.  There were differences from the book that were slightly disappointing, but tolerable, such as Harry's final fight with Voldemort not ending in front of the crowd.  While some scenes did not take place exactly as in the book, I still cheered at Neville's big moment and was so excited that the movie included Mrs. Weasley's "Not my daughter, you bitch!" 

I also thought that the most heart-wrenching moments were handled quite well.  The scenes in which Snape remembers Lily were touching and beautiful.  I admit, I was crying.  Overall, it was a great movie - I laughed, I cried and was thoroughly entertained, forgetting about the world outside of the movie for two hours.

The movie was truly great, but also incredibly sad for me.  I was sad that there will never be another new Harry Potter movie, which reminded me that there will never be another Harry Potter book.  One of the things that makes me the most disappointed is thinking that there may never be a book that creates that much excitement again. 

I can remember dragging Bel to the bookstore at midnight for the release of The Order of the Phoenix.  We were waiting in line at a Barnes & Noble, in front of us were a few boys who were either in high school or freshman in college and behind us a couple in their late 50's.  It struck me then that I truly was experiencing something great.  Bel and I were so caught up in the experience that I had no trouble getting her to go with me for the midnight release of Half-Blood Prince.  Nat and a few other friends joined us for the HBP party as well.  The town I live in shut down the streets of the downtown area to celebrate.  A restaurant called Potter's Place hung a sign to read "Harry Potter's Place" and a bank on the corner did a sign to become Gringots.  There were many other tributes and it truly was amazing.  Of course, you could not have kept us from the midnight release of Deathly Hallows after that.  It always amazed me that a book had caused this much excitement from all ages and walks of life.  That is what I miss the most about the Harry Potter books and why the fact that there will be no new HP books makes me sad. 

There have been a ton of wonderful books released since DH and so many talented writers have published or been discovered.  I hold out hope that there will be another book or series that causes excitement and has such broad appeal, but Harry Potter may have been a once in a lifetime experience and I am glad I was there and able to share it with my partners in crime - Nat and Bel (even if they did make fun of me for the last 7-8 years). 

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater


Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
*****

After reading Shiver, you all found out that I am a big cry baby.  But I couldn’t help it. Sam and Grace’s love story is just that lovely.  Although I didn’t cry as much while reading Linger (partly because my husband was sitting next to me most of the time – the teasing would have been relentless), the book wasn’t any less beautiful than the first.

In Shiver, the story centered mainly on Sam and Grace trying to hold on to each other and Sam trying to hold onto himself.  In Linger, more characters are introduced and the story becomes a little more complex. The story is told in first person again and jumps between Grace, Sam, Isabel and Cole. Grace is mysteriously sick.  Neither Sam nor Grace wants to admit to what exactly might be making her sick. Sam is also struggling with his new responsibilities to the pack; particularly to a newly made wolf, Cole.  Cole has the opposite issue that Sam had in Shiver.  Where Sam struggled to stay human because he didn’t want to lose himself, Cole is desperate to lose himself by staying a wolf.  Isabel is back as well, struggling with guilt caused by her actions in the last book.  And per her usual, she acts out by being cold and mean most of the time and helpful and hurting some of the time.

Just as in Shiver, I really identified with Sam’s struggles with holding onto himself and accepting his responsibilities. But then who wouldn’t identify with this at some point in their life. I also felt even more terrible for Grace than I did before.  Her parents are ridiculous.  I personally wanted to smack each of them upside the head. I’d like to think there aren’t parents out there like that but unfortunately there are.  I have to say that her struggle with her parents has made me even more determined to be an involved mom. 

This story continues to be beautiful.  Maggie Stiefvater’s physical and emotional description is equal parts simple, soothing and heartbreaking.  I both can’t wait and dread reading the final book in this trilogy.  I don’t think I am ready for the loveliness to end.  I really do wish it could last Forever.

Pun absolutely intended…

Nat

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Red Glove by Holly Black

by Holly Black


***1/2

The start of Red Glove picks up with Cassel Sharpe and his mom a few months after the bombshell revelation about his childhood love, Lila.  In an attempt to distance him from that bombshell, Cassel decides to assist his mom on a few schemes, which was quite amusing. 

Now I know everyone has a crazy family relative or two but Cassel’s family takes the cake!  I just felt sorry for the guy that his mom is a total meddlesome, self-serving piece of work.  And his brothers!  For all their talk about how much family should look out for each other, there’s not much trust or shame that goes around for all the things they’ve done TO each other.

Cassel’s a unique character.  You’re not quite sure which end of the moral spectrum he’ll eventually end up but he definitely takes you on a tour.  There are times when he’s the underdog and you root for him and there times when you want him to get his head out of you know where.  

In reading White Cat there was such a thrill as to what was going to happen next.  The mystery gave me goosebumps.  In Red Glove I had none of that.  Instead, I felt sorry for Cassel and Lila because of the unfortunate world they were inheriting.   It depressed me to think that these kids were resigned to their fate simply because of whom they were born to.  I wanted them to revolt!

Don’t get me wrong.  This is a fantastic book and it’s amazing how Cassel’s mind works and how he puts all the puzzle pieces together.  Cassel’s at least honest with himself about his intentions, be they good or bad.  It’s still daunting to realize that these kids really haven’t been kids in a long time.  The only adult in his life that seems to have any genuine tenderness towards him is Cassel’s grandfather. I was grateful that there was a family figure in his life that didn’t want to use him for a job. 

Like I said, it’s a fantastic book that’s entertaining and disturbing all at once.  And despite all the negative in his world, you still end up rooting for Cassel either because he’s just that charming…or he’s marked you. 

Bel

Shel's First Post!

I know, I know - it has taken me over a week to write my first post.  It's a lot of pressure deciding what to write for your inaugural post.  Should I be serious, should I try for funny, review a book, introduce myself?  Way too much pressure.  In the end, I decided that I was putting much too much thought into this.  Well, without further ado: 

Hi - I'm Shel.  BookJunkie, boy crazy, pie (and cupcake) loving Shel.  I love to read, no seriously, I LOVE reading.  I can finish a novel in a few hours and with the good ones, I get so lost in the story the building could fall down around me and I would not notice.  My prefered genre is really any book that makes me laugh - I'm the silly one, the BookJunkie that loves the ridiculous.  I don't do serious books.  A lot of that has to do with my day job, but mostly, I just like to be happy.  You will not see reviews of Lovely bones or Marley & Me (even though Nat made me go see the movie - I still have not forgiven her) from me.  Some of  my favorite books include Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, the Harry Potter series, Pride & Prejudice, anything by Meg Cabot and the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.  So, yeah.  That's me and welcome to my world. 

The Spring and Summer of 2011 have been full of thoroughly enjoyable books.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare - I know I am a little late to the party with these books, but they really are superbly written.  I love the sarcasm of the characters, especially Jace.  I love that Clary is often at a loss as to how to react to his sarcasm.  I love the supporting characters - Alec, Simon, Magnus, and Luke.  If you have not read these books, I highly recommend them.  And if you ever need a good laugh, just mention Shadowhunters, Jace, brickwalls, or mangoes to Bel or Nat - trust me, you won't be disappointed. 

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White -   This book was fantastic.  Seriously fun.  I read it in just a few hours and  immediately recommended it to my fellow BookJunkies.  Evie is hilarious and such a fun heroine.  She is a 16 year-old who is able to see through the veil protecting paranormals (vampires, fae, werewolves, and assorted others), which makes her invaluable to the international agency tasked with policing the paranormals.  A spunky heroine, sarcasm, a bedazzled pink taser and a boy who can make himself look like anyone - need I say more?

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton -   I came across Angelfire by accident.  I was walking through the library and liked the cover.  I know I shouldn't, but I completely judge books by their cover.  Angelfire was a great read and my surprise find of the year so far.  I am dying for Wings of the Wicked which is scheduled for release early 2012.  The story was unique (to anything I had read), the writing engaging and the characters captivating.  The main character, Ellie is a strong, capable female lead.  I find I often want to beat-up the female leads in a lot of books, but I did not feel that way about Ellie.  Plus, the Will in my head is super hot and he has joined the ranks of my imaginary boyfriends. 

Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising by Jason Henderson - I kept seeing this book in the bookstore and I walked on by.  That was a mistake.  I am glad I finally succumbed to the urge to pick up this book.  There are not alot of YA books written by male authors that have a boy as the lead character, so I was intrigued.  I was not disappointed.  Alex Van Helsing seems to be a typical boy sent to boarding school in Switzerland for about the first three pages of the book.  Alex has no idea that the legends of "The Van Helsing" are true and that he has a calling greater than the average 14-year old.  Alex is a loyal friend, inventive and just unsure of himself enough to make me root for him to figure it all out.  I am anxiously awaiting the second installment, Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead releasing July 26, 2011. 

There are so many others that I have read and loved, including Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini, A Need So Beautfiul by Suzanne Young, Abandon by Meg Cabot, The Chicago Vampire Series and Dark Elite Series by Chloe Neill and so many more.  I look forward to reviewing and blogging about these and the plethora of new books I am anxious to read. 

Well, thanks for reading this.  I hope you come back again to read my ramblings and those of my fellow BookJunkies. 

~Shel

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater



Shiver
*****

How many people can say they met the author before they read the book?  Ok, probably more than I think but still, that is what happened to me and fellow Bibliojunkie, Shel.  We met Ms. Stiefvater (meaning she said Hi and signed our copies of Shiver and Linger) at a This is Teen event that was hosted by a local bookstore and Scholastic.  I’ll be honest with you; I had no idea who she was or what Shiver was until about a day before we attended the event.  Fortunately Shel is our Collector of Books.  Even if she hasn’t read it yet, she probably owns it or knows a thing or two about it.  So she brought me up to speed on the popularity of Shiver.  I looked it up.  It sounded promising.  Really, who doesn’t love werewolves?  So I bought Shiver and took it to the signing having no idea what beauty lie in those pages. 

And here I am now after finishing Shiver; a complete and utter sobbing mess.  I jumped into this book ready for Ms. Stiefvater’s unconventional werewolf lore.  I wasn’t ready for what was the sheer loveliness of the story and the words used to tell it. 

To give you a quick overview without being spoilery:

Grace was attacked by wolves as a child.  Since then she has had a seemingly unhealthy fascination with the wolves. 

Sam has loved Grace from the moment he first set eyes on her 6 years ago.  But he has only admired her from afar and has never approached her.

A wolf attack on a high school student sets into motion a series of events that finally throw Sam and Grace together.  Together they have to fight to keep Sam human so that they can be together as long as possible before the impending winter takes everything away.

I enjoy almost all books I read to a certain extent.  And I read them fairly quickly because I can’t wait to see what will happen next.  But Shiver was not a book to be read quickly.  Never until now have I felt the need to savor each and every word as if I will be losing something when it is done.  Much like Grace and Sam savor every moment they have together because they don’t know when it will be their last.  

I can’t recommend this book enough.  It’s beautiful and enchanting.  If you are a romantic like me, you will not be disappointed.


Nat

Monday, July 11, 2011

White Cat by Holly Black





White Cat
****


Not all addictions are bad in my opinion.  If it weren’t for my love of Cassandra Clare, I would not have known to read White Cat, written by Ms. Clare’s author BFF, Holly Black.

It unfortunately took me a while to get to this one.  I know, I know.  But there are so many books and so little time.  What is a 30 going on 13 year old supposed to do?  Well, I finally remedied this problem and picked up White Cat at the local library.   And boy do I wish I had read it sooner.  What a fun ride!

Cassel Sharpe is the youngest in a family of Curse Workers.  Unfortunately for Cassel (or fortunately depending on who you may be talking to in this fabulous alternate world that Holly Black has created), he did not inherit any curse worker abilities.  What he has learned from his family is to be an excellent grifter.   And thank goodness too.  If it wasn’t for his side-business of swindling the rich kids at his boarding school, he probably couldn’t afford to stay there.  But his student status is in jeopardy when he finds himself inexplicably sleepwalking on the roof of his dorm.  From that point, Cassel quickly begins unraveling a plot that has been in the works for years and begins to realize that he just might be the one being conned.

There was one thing I did not like about this book.  As the reader, you figure out what is going on long before Cassel does.  Now don’t let this dissuade you from reading the book.  There is a good reason as to why Cassel doesn’t figure it out.  But it would have been nice to have been in suspense a bit longer.

What did I like?  Oh gee, let me see.  One, this is the first YA novel I have read that is written in the first person and from a male perspective.  It was fun getting know a male character this way.  Two, Cassel is darn loveable!  Three, I love the whole family of cons storyline.  In a lot of ways Cassel reminds me of a young Neal Caffrey.  And what girl doesn’t love a little Neal?  And four, Holly Black’s alternate reality took urban fantasy to a whole new level for me. 

If you haven’t done so yet, please read this book.  It is original and lots of fun.  You won’t be disappointed.

Nat