Tuesday, December 28, 2010
There were so many wonderful books in 2010 and it's almost impossible to choose just one. I mean my natural tendencies are to mention Cassandra Clare's CLOCKWORK ANGEL, Rachel Hawkins' HEX HALL and Julie Kagawa's THE IRON DAUGHTER. All three of those books pushed all of my buttons (in a good way) and not just the HotBoywithSword one (Archer touches a sword in HH, work with me, people). They were well told tales with extremely believable and likeable characters. Those three books deserve wild props, but if I had to choose just one, I'd choose the recently released ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins.
- The Can't Get It Out of My Mind Factor: It's a book that once you finish you cannot stop talking about. Remember that feeling with other books? Yeah, it's just like those.
- The characters: Oh, for the love of well crafted characters. I wanted to hang out with them ALL. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've met them before.
- The situation: I love a fish-out-of-water story and I loved the believable way Anna was transferred to a French boarding school for her senior year in high school. How tough would that be if you didn't know the language and had no desire to go there? On top of which, everyone there seems to have formed a tightly knit group of friends. You know the kind that have known each other for years and probably don't want to make room for an outsider. The thing is -- they do. And in there lies the beauty of the story. They accept Anna and together they solidify bonds that Anna's family broke.
- The romance: The romantic arc in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS will leave you sighing, sometimes with frustration, sometimes with laughter and sometimes with that OMGOMGOMG feeling. I'll let you guys interpret that however you'd like. I don't want to spoil it for you; I promise.
So if you need a quick, believable and extremely well written read during these hectic holiday times, pick up ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. Now. Don't wait. You will not be sorry.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Leigh, Stacie, and BinBons
Monday, December 20, 2010
Right, so we said around the 15th and here it is the 20th. But, it's finally time to discuss Nightshade by Andrea Cremer!!
I'd like to start with something that was brought up in the early comments: Calla's attraction to both Ren and Shay. I thought it was interesting that you all keyed in on this, and I did notice it as well. Ren just had to get close enough to breathe on her and Calla was a puddle on the floor. While reading, I attributed this to the fact that Calla is a wolf. Her basic nature is animal, and that is what is responding to Ren. Especially given that Ren is an alpha, and that they are betrothed. Her human nature does not really factor into the passion, but her animal nature does. At least, that is how I read it.
As for Shay... I'm still not so sure about him. While I was reading, I was thinking that he was obviously tied to the Guardians and Keepers somehow, and maybe Calla's instincts were responding to that as well? But Picksee brought up the idea of him being a Shiny New Boy - something different, and forbidden, which of course makes him more attractive.
I agree that I cut her a lot of slack in that department as well, mostly because she was responding to something as basic as lust on that animal level. I also thought that her relationship with Ren was probably more complex than what we saw. They grew up together, after all, and have been leading up to this. He's supposedly the hottest guy around (hello, Alpha who was inspired by BinBons) so of course she's going to find him attractive. Whereas some of our readers had issue with her drooling over two guys, it didn't bother me that way. I assumed that her animal side was drawn to Ren and her human side was drawn to Shay, and if both of them want to make out with her, what of it? Good for her. *winks*
One thing I really loved was the whole storyline of the witches war and the mythology of the Keepers and the Guardians. It was so well done and very believable. It also kept me interested in the story as a whole - this wasn't just another werewolf story. And the betrothal! I loved that aspect. I think it was shocking how okay everyone was with it. Commenter geemoney02 mentioned that it was strange how quickly Calla fell for Shay, but I was having more trouble with the whole idea of Calla being forced into a marriage. The Keepers were forcing the situation, but everyone just accepted it as completely normal. I found that so interesting.
I loved how comfortable Calla was with all of the physical violence going on around her. Picksee mentioned this in her comment about Calla in the beginning of the book, "She was kind of edgy, funny, and dangerous-she dispatched a Searcher like it was nothing. AWESOME. And another character makes a big deal out of it being her first kill and she's all 'whatevs, it's what I do.'" I think this is another instance where Andrea Cremer used Calla's actions to draw attention to the struggle between her human side and her wolf side. Her wolf side is all honor and instinct and quick reactions. Honestly, I didn't like the wolf "mentality" but I completely understood it, which means Cremer did her job.
I agree, and I think that the wolf nature vs. human nature is central to the novel as a whole. It was something that came up repeatedly as I read: Calla's desire to do what she should do, as pack leader, and her desire to follow her own heart. I think it will be interesting to see if Andrea Cremer continues to explore this in Wolfsbane.
Speaking of Wolfsbane, I wanted to touch on the ending-that-wasn't-an-ending to Nightshade. When I finished this book I wanted to throw it against the wall, not because I didn't enjoy it but because it didn't feel FINISHED. I can appreciate a cliffhanger, but I didn't feel like a single story arc had been completed. When I read a book I don't want to walk away feeling like only half of it was published. Fortunately Stacie linked me to the first chapter of Wolfsbane, which should have been the ending of Nightshade in my opinion. If you haven't done it already, go online and read the first chapter. I think it'll help with abrupt ending jitters that some of you might be feeling.
Yes! Thankfully, I was reading on my ereader, so the link was right there at the end and I was able to just click and continue reading. If you haven't read it, definitely do so now!
Okay, I think we've got a good discussion started, so please feel free to keep it up in the comments! We'll be reading your comments and adding our own thoughts too!
Link to the first chapter of Wolfsbane: http://www.nightshadebook.com/assets/pdf/WolfsbaneCh1.pdf
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
For Younger Readers: I have two nephews who love Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. For the older nephew (he is 10), I'm getting The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. I rec'ed that book here. For younger boys and girls, I would also recommend The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (I'm reading it now and loving it) or Gregor the Overlander (#1 in the Underland Chronicles) by Suzanne Collins (because you just know those are good - based on The Hunger Games).
For the younger nephew, who is seven, I'm going with KatarinasMama's recommendation of the Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. KatarinasMama knows her books, and I think these look great. Plus - Holly Black! She's been on my TBR for a while now and I'm thinking it's time to move her books up the list.
For ANYONE: The Hunger Games trilogy. I have honestly not met anyone who did not love, or at least really like these books. I'm actually getting them for my dad, who is not exactly a YA, dystopian book kind of guy. But, I really believe that these books are so amazing, they would be a great gift for anyone.
For the Non-fiction Lover: I absolutely loved Welcome to Utopia: Notes from a Small Town by Karen Valby. I have an infatuation with small-town life and this book is all about people who live in a small town in Texas. It's very personal and definitely very moving. I usually don't go for non-fiction (obviously, since I read mainly fantasy!), but I loved this book.
For the Trendy Reader: (I just made that term up. Fancy, huh?) If you know someone who likes to be on top of the latest trend in reading, definitely get them Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I can't say I enjoyed this book, but I did enjoy reading it. I know, that makes no sense, but that is how I feel about it. It is a mammoth book, and the characters were sometimes overboard annoying, but it was interesting and definitely made a statement about living in our time.
For your Romantic Friend: Another recommendation from KatarinasMama that has been moved up on both Leigh and my TBR lists is Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. KatarinasMama had such great things to say about this book - I cannot wait to read it. Leigh saw it tweeted today that Anna and the French Kiss gives us a modern day Mr. Darcy to swoon over. She's sold, as well am I. You'll probably see me post about it soon! (And, please notice I did not say 'Romance-lover', because that brings up images of rippling abs and pecs and a damsel in distress. Not that kind of romance, mind you!)
For your Funny Friend: If you have a snarky, funny friend or relative who likes to guffaw at randomness, and has a very open mind, I say get them the Regretsy book! Leigh and I love Regretsy and regularly snicker together at the awful things Helen Killer (aka April Winchell) finds on etsy. And, I'm proud to say that I've converted my husband into a Regretsian. He spent the entire weekend poring over the website and calling me in to see things. Yes babe, I've seen the skants.
And speaking of etsy - Leigh has a great suggestion for your Writer Friends - fingerless gloves!
I want these for myself because you cannot turn pages on an ereader with gloves on, so it would also be a great idea for your Reader Friends.
And finally, Leigh had a great suggestion for readers like us. There is an etsy shop that has jewelry and other crafts inspired by the books we love! The seller categories for Becca Fitzpatrick, Cassandra Clare, and Maggie Stiefvater, among others. I think I could spend all afternoon browsing her wares. I really love this necklace inspired by Clockwork Angel.
Other fun gifts for your Reader or Writer Friends - Anthropologie has cloth-bound Penguin classics that are beautiful. I want to order all of these!! Look how pretty Sense and Sensibility is!
Leigh also found this great poster for readers, which I adore. And there is also a "Keep Calm and Write On," poster for your Writer Friends.
And, finally, Leigh has suggested SMENCILS for your Writer Friends, because, what is better than writing with scented pens and pencils?
Okay, I think we just got seriously carried away. Who knew there were so many great gift ideas for readers and writers? Do you have some to add? You know we want to hear them!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.One of the first things I loved about this book is how it drew me into a false sense of security. The Society seemed, well, pretty... at first. The opening scene is of Cassia's Matching Ceremony, and she is excited and nervous. She's been looking forward to this day her whole life, much like a bride on her wedding day. Like Cassia, I got caught up in the excitement, and I loved realizing that when things started to fall apart.
Ally Condie does an amazing job of putting the reader in the moment. I went from feeling incredibly excited and relieved at the Matching Ceremony, to confused and then incredibly sad. It's extremely well done. And I think the best dystopian novels are those that do this. They allow us to put ourselves in the main character's position and to feel what she feels. Basically, to make you think. And you know I love that.
Matched has a feel to it that reminded me of Fahrenheit 451, which is an amazing book (and movie!). I'm not comparing the two, but the loss of words (books, poetry, even song) is equally traumatic in both. Matched will remind you how much you love books, and while I read this on an ereader, you can be assured that I will be buying a hard copy of this book. I think it's worth it to hold this book in your hands.
So there you have it. I'm proudly riding the bandwagon because the bandwagon is fully deserved. I could go on about Ky and Xander (really, I could), but I'm going to let you all discover them for yourselves. I will say - my favorite character was Grandpa. And, as always, I want to hear your thoughts! Have you read Matched yet? What did you think? (And be sure to include a *spoiler alert* if your comment has spoilers!)
Sidebra: For some fun, you must try the "Find Your Optimal Match" link on the Matched book website! It uses your facebook friends to find your Match and I was matched with an old high school boyfriend! Uh, non. And that is when I said a little thank you prayer that we do not live in the Society.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...
When I first started Incarceron, I was worried that I would have a hard time settling into it because it was filled with strange words and concepts. This being a dystopian novel, I should have expected that, but it always throws me at the beginning. I'm telling you all of this in case you're the same way. Because it is well worth it to stick with it, as it all starts to become understandable very quickly. And, the world-building is so well done! I loved the contrast between inside Incarceron and the Outside, or the Realm. I especially loved how the lines between the two begin to meld towards the end of this two-book series.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself, and I certainly don't want to give anything away. I will say that these books are the kind that will Make You Think, which are my favorite. (I think that is why I love dystopian fiction so much.) The characters are all wonderful in their own way, even the ones you think you hate. I especially enjoyed Keiro, even though he is an ass, or perhaps because of it. And I was really happy with the ending, but you know I won't say any more about that.
So, if you're in the mood for books that will challenge you and make you think while sucking you into a really well-told story, definitely read Incarceron and Sapphique. I'm happy that I finally did. And, if you've read them, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I do love that we got to have a literary disagreement. It was almost more fun than agreeing. And, I loved the Mockingjay post because everyone had such great thoughts to contribute. I'm sure I've said this before, but book discussions are like #geekporn to me, and Mockingjay needed some discussing!
I'm also thankful for the posts where we got to make file folders for book characters. Not only were they fun to do, but we got Hot Boys With Swords out of it. And, I loved doing our Chicks Who Can Kick Our Asses post because, well, I love those characters almost as much as HBWS!
Oh definitely! Like when Maggie Stiefvater commented on our Lazy Book Club discussion on Shiver and Linger to clear up our sexytimes question! I loved that!
YES! And, I'm thankful to be a book blogger because it gives me access to NetGalley. The Iron Queen, TheVespertine <---note that both books have characters we've envisioned as BinBons. It all comes back to BinBons.
Well, of course we're thankful for BinBons! And all the inspiration he provides to our favorite writers!
I'm also thankful for having such a great blog partner in Leigh, and having Sophie, Cher, and Dusty to play along with us. Bookish Friends are the best!
And, you, our readers! Your comments make this so much fun, and I love finding new books through you all, and I love it when you all force me to look at something I've read differently.
*sniffles* You had to go and get all emotional, didn't you? You always were the more sentimental of the two of us. *wink* But, seriously, you're right. I'm so thankful for you girls and the opportunity to talk about books we love with people from all around the world!
What about you all? What are you thankful for?
Thursday, November 18, 2010
1. Does BinBons KNOW that he is the ultimate inspiration for Hot Boys in YA lit?
2. Can we spend some time poring over BinBons pics in order to cast him in each of our favorite YA roles? Please?
Let's start with the Urban Dictionary's definition of BinBons, shall we:
"Nickname for English actor Ben Barnes, best known for his work as Prince Caspian, and who may or may not have pupils. BinBons is over there seducing you with his black bedroom eyes."
First of all, Bwhahahahahaha! And secondly, this will help me so much with my reading of books with boys who have black eyes! I had a hard time picturing black eyes, but no more! I shall just think of this:
What other characters do we have? I know Rachel Hawkins, Andrea Cremer, and Julie Kagawa are all inspired by BinBons, yes?
I'm pretty sure that Sophie, our resident BinBons "pic-spiration" dealer, can cast a few roles for us.
*digs into folders on hard drive* *not that there are ANY completely devoted to BinBons* *wistles innocently*
Umm, Ash, from The Iron Fae?
This one is very Archer-esque. I think he would fit in well at Hex Hall.
Yes! And how about this one for Ren from Nightshade (which I hope you are all reading for our LBC! #shamelessplug). Just knowing that Andrea Cremer said Ren is Ben Barnes makes me want to jump on the #TeamRen bus. There is a bus, right?
I know some people think BB would make a good Gale *cough*ME*cough* and I think this one fits:
See, I was NEVER Team Gale. But this picture could turn me.
Someone please, write the Dirty Biker BinBons...
|Not-Yet-Written Hot Dude|
*makes mental note to write a Dirty Biker BinBons* Can we turn it into a space bike? Maybe?
I'm having difficulty forming a coherent thought while Dirty Biker BinBons is beckoning me to ride
*sighs dramatically* What IS it about this man that reduces us all to hormonal teenagers? (And then makes us want to write him as one??)
How about this picture? This is very much my vision of Nathaniel from Saundra Mitchell's The Vespertine (which will be out in March of 2011, at which point you can swoon with Stacie and I.)
*stops staring and pulls self together* Okay, so what about you all? Does BinBons play any starring roles in the books you read? Is there another actor who keeps showing up? You know we want to hear about it! *returns to staring*