Monday, February 25, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Belles by Jen Calonita and Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith

Belles (Belles #1) by Jen Calonita
Release Date: April 10, 2012 
Publisher: Poppy 
Source: Publisher for Review
Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she's ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn't go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn't thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates' Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls' lives forever.
Being a big fan of Jen Calonita, I was eager to get into Belles. While dual narration is always questionable for me, I was willing to give it a chance. Before I began reading it, I knew I was going to get lots of drama and it was going to be a light, quick read. Belles turned out to be the light, quick read I was expecting but I actually liked both Izzie and Mirabelle a lot more than I thought I would!

The plot honestly wasn’t the most original or the most surprising. The big revelation was one I guessed well in the beginning of the story even though it came at the very end. Izzie and Mirabelle were exactly how I thought they were going to be but surprisingly, I liked and disliked both Izzie and Mirabelle for various reasons. Izzie, I felt should have tried a little more to be accepting of her new circumstance and Mirabelle should have been nicer but that was a given. Though my biggest gimmick was the lack of differentiation between Izzie’s and Mirabelle’s voice. While Izzie was always trying to adapt, Mirabelle was always complaining or musing over what used to be.

Overall, Belle’s was a fun, light contemporary I read as a pick me up. I was reminded again of Jen Calonita’s writing style, the sarcasm and humor blended in so well. Though Belles wasn’t the most original or the best book I’ve ever read, I enjoyed it.
Cover Comments: 
First thoughts: Eh. Not the best looking thing but I like it. 
Comments: So this cover is very, very different. When you have the actual book in your hand, the part under "two souther girls..." is actually the flap. You take the flap away and you get a very beautiful girl! So I liked it! 
Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Don't remmener 
What Leah did—only she really shouldn’t have—one hot night at a country club party.

What Leah has—only she really shouldn’t have—on the guy with the green eyes, the guy who is not her perfect boyfriend, the guy who does not fit in her picture-perfect life, the guy her sisters will only mock and her mother will never approve of. Not in a million years.

What happens when everything you always thought you wanted—having cool friends, being class valedictorian and homecoming queen—runs smack into everything it turns out you really do want.

Kiss. Crush. Collide.
For Leah and Porter, summer is only the beginning.(
I was cleaning up my shelves when I saw that I still had an ARC of this book so I decided that I would read it. While it was a quick read, Kiss Crush Collide was not like anything I expected. Compared to Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry and Sarah Dessen, I was expecting an amazing story but that was not what I got.

Porter and Leah and all the other characters are extremely flat and have no character development to begin with. I knew knowing about Leah or her family except that they were rich and had to keep face. Leah was larger than her two older perfect sisters and she just didn’t fit in. She doesn’t like having to live up to so many expectations and doesn’t like when her mother nags or judges but no where in the entire book does she say anything to her mom. Porter is…who? All I knew was that this guy worked at the country club and he and Leah were drawn to each other. Neither of them know each other (Leah doesn’t even learn his real name until much later in the book!) yet they go off and make out.

The writing was nothing new and the plot was just bad. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the narration. It was way to jumpy for my taste and I was easily getting annoyed. One second Leah would be talking about her boyfriend and the next about her sister and then her mother and so forth.

Overall, Kiss Crush Collide was a book I was hoping to love but one I just couldn’t stand. I finished it as soon as I possibly could just so I won’t have to deal with it anymore.
Cover Comments: 
First thoughts: Eh. Nothing new. 
Comments: Again, nothing new but I was expecting some really sexy book. All I got was teenage lust. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Blogger Love a Thon: Dear Young Kailia

book blogger love a thon
**This was supposed to go up WAY earlier but blogger is being stupid and didn't put up my scheduled posts!**

Hey guys! This is mini challenge #4 and I decided, why not participate in this one? I have to write a letter to my younger blogging self! Here goes.

Dear Young Kailia,

First of all, when you started this blog, you were a freshman in high school and you felt like you'd never survive high school. Well, you did survive. You're in your second semester of senior year and in a few months, you'll be out.

Second of all, you found your people! People who love talking about books just as much as you do. People who swoon over book boys and don't think your weird. You've met some of the nicest people through blogging and for the first time in a long time, you fit in. You don't have to worry about saying the wrong thing or looking weird when you get overly excited about a book. They understand you.

Thirdly, they are nice people. You talk to many of them on Twitter. Book blogger's won't judge you and they won't be mean. They'll help you through some tough times in your life without even knowing it. They really are not as scary as they once seemed. They're more like you than you could have ever guessed.

Fourth, enjoy blogging. Stop trying to be the people pleaser you are. Finding your voice will be hard and sometimes not fun but it will be worth it. Don't try to be like others because your blog will get lost in the millions of other blogs out there. You don't have to post every single day and you don't have to participate in one meme after another.

Fifth, read and blog for you. Don't forget how (or why) you fell in love with reading and blogging in the first place. Just be you. Because believe it or not, you're not that bad ;).


Your older MUCH more confident self

Book Blogger Love A Thon Interview with Sally!

Hey guys! Welcome o the Book Blogger Love a Thon! I have a great interview for you all today with Sally from Always Lost in Stories

1) Hi Sally! Why don't you tell us a little bit about you and your blog!
Hello, I'm Sally, I live in Wiltshire in England (about 15 minutes down the road from Stonehenge) and I blog over at Always Lost in Stories. I've been blogging for 2 years now and it's a well loved hobby that has completely taken over my life! I love to read YA, fantasy, dystopia and then talk about it with other people who love to read the same random books that I do. Because I work full time I only post when I have time, and it's mostly book reviews, upcoming YA releases, and the occasional random discussion topics- about 4 posts a week. I also run my own feature on the last day of every month called Best of the Bunch- which essentially invites everyone to link up their monthly wrap-up posts and tell us which book read or reviewed in that month was the best.

2) If you could spend 24 hours with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
Aw- I want a Daniel from the Wake series by Amanda Hocking :D He is so good-hearted, selfless, funny and easy going. We would just chill out all day on the boat, and laugh. I'll probably think of much better answers to this question later, but this is the first one that came to my mind!

 3) With so many YA books becoming movies, which YA book have you read do you wish would be turned into a movie?
 Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I'm surprised it hasn't already been turned into a movie- but it is amazingly clever, dramatic and moving- one of the best books I've ever read. Also A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. It's magical, historical and romantic, and would make a very unique film.

4) Now for a blogging question: If there was one thing you wish you'd known about blogging before you began, what would it be? 
 Er... maybe exactly how much time goes into working on it! It's not just writing up blog posts- I spend an incredible amount of time researching for posts, creating blog pictures, promoting my blog, updating the blog, and responding to comments and emails. It's a lot of work and there are times when I feel under pressure to post something- but it's ok to take a break. I also didn't realise just how many book blogs there are out there. When I started mine originally I just found one or two, and so I had no concept of the networking possibilities and all the incredible friendships that I've made through writing and reading book blogs. Book bloggers are the nicest, friendliest people in the world. I have had books gifted and lent to me from strangers on the web, people have left me the nicest comments on my reviews- and this camaraderie and friendship is something I never expected, but is now the best part of blogging for me.

5) NA is so big right now and opinions vary from love to hate. What do you think of NA?
Always Lost in Stories
I like it (what I've read of it so far). There are so many books focusing on characters in high school, so it's refreshing to read stories about characters in college, and it opens up more possibilities for romance etc. I think. One of the best books I've read in this genre is Tempest by Julie Cross.

6) How do you feel about publishers changing the covers for books in a series half way through?
I hate it with a fiery passion- it drives me mad! I've very obsessive about my bookshelves looking neat, and it really bugs me when publishers change the covers halfway through a series. They have to match! I have even been known to splash out on expensive international editions of books- just so my series match.

And some fun:

7) One TV show you would recommend to EVERYONE.
Firefly! This series (and director Joss Whedon) is genius! It got cancelled after only 14 episodes in 2002 which is such a travesty because it is FANTASTIC! I watch the DVDs again and again, have a scale model of Serenity on my keyring and recommend this series to everyone I know.

8) The Bad Boy or the Boy Next Door?
The Boy Next Door! I always root for the nice guys and it so rarely pans out.

9) Physical books or e-reader?
I do like reading on my kindle, but if I have a choice I prefer to own a physical paperback copy. I very rarely re-read books cover to cover- I tend to flick through and reread favourite scenes- and it's easier to do that with a physical book.

Isn't Sally the coolest? Check out her awesome blog while you're at it! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Release Date: February 5, 2013 
Publisher: Little, Brown 
Source: Publisher for Review
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners -- and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage -- in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education
Gail Carriger is an author I have been hearing about even before my blogging days. Her books are best sellers and she has quiet a large fan following. I for one was eager to see what all the hype was about so I quickly agreed to read her book when I was given the chance. Gail Carriger's writing style is one of the most unique styles I've ever come across and coupled with the fantastic sounding plot and spunky protagonist, Etiquette & Espionage offered quiet an interesting reading experience. 

To be quiet fair, I read this book about a week ago and I feel like I've finally figured out how I feel about this book. For one, the writing style and I did not click for about the entire book so liking anything else was extremely hard. While I understand that this is a steampunk novel, the writing was nothing like anything I'd read before. Gail Carriger's diction is almost old school and something out of a classic novel. While I like classic novels a lot, this one did not work. The words would jumble together often and other times, I'd have to read whole passages to understand what had happened. 

The characters too weren't my favorite and I feel that this book is more suited for middle grade readers and not young adult. Sophorina (what a mouthful this name is!) is 14 and rather troublesome to her parents which is why she gets sent away. I for one didn't feel like she acted well older than her age as some people have said. I felt like that was the trick with the writing style; it made Sophorina seemingly older but nothing that happened in this book remotely made me think of her as older. As for the other characters, besides having utterly ridiculous names, I didn't connect with (or care for) any of them. The character development in this book was also nonexistent and that didn't help matters either.  

The plot was also rather interesting and not in the best way. While not the best in the world, I was engaged in the prototype and everything that was happening. Yet another issue I had was the fact that there was factor in this book. All of the school's classes were boring and there wasn't much spying going on. There seemed to be a complete lack of action, even in the ending and that was highly disappointing. 

Though the best part for me about this book was the simple lack of romance. Sophorina might only be 14 years old but I bet there could have been ways for the author to put in some romance. Instead, this book is entirely about Sophorina and the other girls figuring out the mysteries and workings of the school. The lack of romance and love was fantastic and left the room for the girls to be kick ass heroines! 

Overall, I wasn't as impressed with Etiquette & Espionage as I had expected but I will be checking out the next books. Gail Carriger's writing style is not one for everyone (like me) but it can be adjusted to. The lack of character development, the over-the-top character names and the lack of action in the book were what led to my disappointment. I know plenty of people have loved this book so I would recommend it for people who are fan's of Carriger's previous work and others who'd like to read her books! 
Cover Comments: 
First thoughts: Oh. My. Gosh. I LOVE THIS COVER. 
Comments: So this cover is kind of gorgeous. I LOVE it. It looks so sophisticated and beautiful and the typography is wonderful (I love how the & connects both words). 
Reviews Around Blogosphere: 

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Need a Man to Make Me Happy...Not

Whenever I write a discussion post, I always try to relate it to YA or books or reading because this is a book review blog. Sometimes, I have a topic I want to talk about but I never know what to say. Well, this past Thursday, a conversation I over heard sparked this post.

The title is sarcastic and supposed to be funny and I know some of you are confused. So let me set things up: on Thursday, during the last class of the day, a girl was talking to some of her friends about her most recent break up. She said something along the lines of “I’ve never been single for three weeks since like, five years ago! It’s so weird.” I admit that I did a double take because this girl is a sophomore, so five years ago would be the sixth (possibly fifth) grade. She hadn’t been single for three weeks since that long ago.

This did not frustrate me. It didn’t make me angry. It didn’t make me judgmental. I made me so sad.

While I won’t go into any more details, something else popped into my mind during that time. A few weeks ago, I was scouring though my Twitter feed when Ally Carter was tweeting about she was always getting emails about girls asking (and some threatening) to make sure Cam, from her Gallagher Girls series, would end up with a guy. Ally talked about how this upset her and made her angry as a woman.

My big concern is: Why is it that women and girls feel like they need a man to make them happy? Or is it just me?

I am so sick and tired of reading a book where the plot is amazing and the writing is riveting and the main character is a badass dump it all for a romance, or in this case, a man.

It was the reason I never finished Shatter Me. After Juliet meets Adam, the entire plot is about their love. The same with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. And Easy (you can debate this if you want). And so. Many. More. YA books.

I just want to know why.

I feel like the man (or boy) is thrown to justify the main character for some reason. Why is it that a love interest can’t be introduced and the girl doesn’t forget about everything else? While I didn’t write it in my review, but was Noah there just to pacify Mara’s “craziness”? I thought it was (sort of; Noah is a douche) great that Mara could have some romance but why did she drop everything whenever he asked her to?

I recently read Etiquette and Espionage and while the writing style was hard to adjust to, I loved that Gail Carriger introduced us to a 14 year old protagonist who, well, didn’t always need a boy (she is after all 14, so you know, awkward calling a love interest a man) to help her out. Sure he could help her find her way around an unfamiliar place but Sophorina fought her own battles and she let any boy know that she was capable to taking care of herself.

Even though some love triangles can be done well, I always feel like they imply that the main character HAS to be with a guy. I always feel like the main character is sort of trapped. She can’t choose herself but someone else to justify her.

Why can’t a girl be happy with herself for a change? Is being single really that bad?
the infernal devices cassandra clare
In The Infernal Devices, I have been adamant that Tessa be team “I Will Be Single and Damn Amazing.” While I understand that love is important in life, and being loved is great too, loving yourself is not bad either. Why can’t Tessa not choose either Will and Jem and be happy? I haven’t read Clockwork Prince but really, I don’t think love should mean being hurt that much.
hart of dixie
And if love is necessary, why not just have one love interest? I recently fell in love with Hart of Dixie. Yes, it has a love triangle for some time but a certain moment in season 1, our main character Zoe is stuck between Wade and George. And you know who she chooses? Herself.
For the purposes of the show (and really, there was always and will be one guy for Zoe *cough*Wade*cough*), she did go with one of the guys but just the fact that she recognized that she could choose herself over them made all the difference.

Books like Ally Carter’s are rare in my opinion. One of the reasons I love The Gallagher Girls series is simply because it’s not about Cam and some guy. It’s about Cam and her friends and family and Cam learning who she is. I would never hate Ally Carter if she decides to leave Cam single or with a guy.

I just feel like before you love someone else, you need to love yourself. All of your quirkiness and weirdness and awesomeness and every other unique aspect about you is justified because of who you are; not by being loved by a man.

**I have nothing against LGBTQ romances AT ALL. I just went with what I knew and I don't mean to exclude any type of romance! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

the rivals book cover diasy whitney
The Rivals (The Mockingbirds #2) by Daisy Whitney
Release Date: February 6, 2012 
Publisher: Little, Brown
Source: Publisher for Review
When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.
The Mockingbirds was an excellent novel and one I loved immensely. I was worried about why The Mockingbirds had a sequel and after having read it, my opinions are still mixed. While I respected Daisy Whitney's ability to show that what happened to Alex did not just dissolve after a few months, the rest of the novel felt unnecessary. The Rivals was a good book nonetheless but not as good as The Mockingbirds.

For one, the plot focused a lot on a large drug ring that had developed at the school and in turn, a rival counsel had developed to challenge the Mockingbirds. While The Mockingbirds was more about Alex and not much was said about the Mockingbirds, The Rivals showed just how complicated the system really was. While the reader only saw the surface actions of the Mockingbirds in book one, The Rivals took an even more in depth look at the proceedings. How far was too far? How was Alex to handle the changing dynamics of the school and the group itself?

Alex was once again, a very strong character yet she developed even more in this book. Alex was still traumatized by the rape from book one and I have to admit: Daisy Whitney did a great job showing that the effects were still very much real. I’ve never been in a situation like Alex but I could feel for her throughout this entire book. I think the bullying and victim blaming was also very sad and frustrating but I think it was important for the book and Alex. Very much like in the real world, victim blaming does happen and I felt like Daisy Whitney showed the reality of it. I hope people will learn to stop blaming the victim.

Martin was also a character I loved and hated. I loved him because he was so strong and always there for Alex. But I hated that he questioned and pushed Alex not because it was (depending on the situation) necessary but simply because I was so invested in Alex’s well being. I liked this constant love-hate relationship because it showed just how much of a confusing time it was for both Alex and Martin’s relationship. While he wanted to love and protect his girlfriend, he also had to do his job as a Mockingbird.

I felt like Daisy Whitney lost some of her spark in her writing. I'm not sure what it was exactly but it didn't leave me with as much emotion as her writing in The Mockingbirds. Maybe it was because I felt like her writing didn't change (or develop) from the first book or maybe because I honestly only cared for the well being of Alex, but I wasn't as enthralled.

Overall, The Rivals was a great follow up to The Mockingbirds but it was not as good as I had hoped it would be. While the characters are just as wonderful, I wasn't as invested in them all as I was with Alex. Alex's struggle to move forward with her life after the rape are very well depicted (from what I know) and I appreciated the author's honesty.
Cover Comments: 
First thoughts: IS THAT MARTIN?!
Comments: So I like how this cover goes with the cover for The Mockingbirds but I honestly like the original covers better! 
Reviews Around Blogosphere: 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Vampire Academy's Rose and Body Image

I love Vampire Academy. I know many who do not care for it but for me, Vampire Academy is a great series. I was overjoyed when I learned that Vampire Academy was going to be made into a movie and even more overjoyed when I saw that the three leads had been cast. Dimitri I was happy with, Lissa I do not like and Rose’s casting was the weirdest. At first I didn’t mind Zoey Deutch (who just happenes to be Lea Thompson's daughter!!!) but I still didn’t like her casting yet I could not figure out why.

It was after reading Adele’s short and to the point post about the casting that I realized that was my problem: Zoey didn’t fit the description of Rose and in this instance, that was something I didn’t like. Obviously these thoughts are mine and mine alone.

From the beginning, we know a few things about Rose: she has boobs and thighs and isn't completely skinny and I think that the casting agents completely ignored this. I consider Rose to be a fantastic character in the fact that she is flawed but one of the best aspects about her would be her body image. She’s got boobs and thighs and is curvy but she can still kick your ass. She doesn’t need to be skinny to think herself as beautiful.

As I said, I read my first Vampire Academy books in the eighth grade. I was young and in middle school and for those of you who don’t know, self-esteem is not the highest during those times. At least, my self-esteem wasn’t big. So imagine the surprise of the 5’2’ girl with boobs and thighs who read about a strong willed, ass kicking girl who thought she was beautiful and was pretty much the coolest kid around?

That was years ago. I am 18 now and a senior in high school. But let me tell you: knowing that a girl like Rose Hathaway exists makes me happy. I can turn on the TV or watch a movie and all the girls will be super skinny. Skinnyskinnyskinny is what is considered hot and it’s something that I’ve always struggled with. I've got thighs and I'm not super skinny and I'm surrounded by skinny girls. While I love the way I look, I would be a liar to say (and I think anyone would be) that I am completely okay with the way I look and I never get self conscious of my figure.

Maybe Zoey will be a great actress. She might be the best Rose out there. But for me, she looks nothing like Rose. I highly doubt that self assurance Rose felt about her body will be present in the movie. For once, I was happy that for a girl these days, being beautiful didn't mean being incredibly skinny. It meant accepting how you look, no matter what, boobs and thighs and all.

Believe it or not, it's one of the things I love about Beyonce. This lady is not only a fantastic singer but just look at her! She's gorgeous! And she's curvy and has thighs (besides just having had a baby; or did they have the baby via surrogate?) and is okay with that. I mean, she preformed at the freakin' Super Bowl. I would think you'd have to be okay with the way you look to preform there.

I guess (like Adele), I am simply disappointed. But not surprised. Sadly, I'm not surprised.

Anyone else feel this way? What do you think about the casting?

Monday, February 04, 2013

Why I Stopped Participating in Memes

Memes likes "Waiting On" Wednesday, Top Ten Tuesday, and Stacking the Shelves are immensely popular in the blogosphere and it's easy to see why: it's a great way to find and visit other blogs. As the blogosphere is growing everyday with new blogs all around the corner, it's a great tool to get people to visit your blog.

But I have stopped participating in these memes and I don't think I will participate in the near future.

I have realized that this could (and has) hurt my page views and all because a lot of people DO visit my blog. I visit theirs and they return the favor and all in well. Or was well in my case.

For the longest time, I loved finding new books for WoW. I was excited to see the new covers and synopsis' and I always liked when my GoodReads To Read list grew. I didn't want to miss ANY of the cools books out there. It was great for a long time. Until a year ago when I decided that I was going to stop posting WoWs.

It was not longer fun. It was all about getting the most page view hits and comments. In essence, I was making myself post a WoW, even if I didn't want to.

No matter what people say about the numbers not mattering, to a certain extent, they do matter. And for me, that was all memes were after a while. The posts were going up because I felt like I HAD to put one up. The last Wow post I did was in November 2012 and I can not tell you how amazing it felt to decide to not post one of those again.

I have not done a Stacking the Shelves post since December 9, 2012 and a TTT post since December 11 and it has been the most liberating aspect of blogging. Sure I might get back to it at some point but not for a while.

I still read Top Ten Tuesday posts and WoW posts but I've learned that it's not for me. I have a few of my own features I have put on hold. It was one of the best things I learned about my blog: I want to make it more about me.

I don't want to feel like I HAVE to put up a post and I just felt like memes did that for me.

What about you guys? Has anyone felt this way?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Google Reader Challenge for the Weekend

Confession: When I log into my Google Reader after a while (possibly three days at most) and I see more than 100+ items, I tend to make all of them as read.

Yeah. Bad isn't it?

So for this weekend (well from now till 12:00 tomorrow night) I challenge myself to read all the reviews and any of the 269 items I find interesting. I rarely comment on WoW or Top Ten Tuesday posts but I will read and look at them. Well, this weekend, it's all about the reviews and discussions!

I'm even going to tally all of the reviews I comment on and everything!