Weekend BookBlogger Hop: 72

The BookBlogger Hop is hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer every weekend. Basically, if you blog about books, answer a question provided and if you link to their post in your blog, you can add your blog to their list of participants. This week’s question is:

Do you follow a lot of blogs but rarely read them or do you follow a few you read regularly?

For me, it’s kind of both. I do subscribe to and follow a lot of blogs, but there are a few that I read regularly, too. I mostly check their posts through my email, and then if it’s a post I really want to read, I follow the link and read it. The blogs that I don’t really read I don’t even open the email, I just delete it, especially if I haven’t checked my email for a few days – then I have 50-100 emails that I just delete. I also have the ones I really like marked so that they appear starred or as important and I read those instead of deleting them.

What about you? What other blogs do you follow and how do you decide to read them?

Advertisements

North of Beautiful

Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Release Date: February 1, 2009

It’s hard not to notice Terra Cooper.
She’s tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably “flawed” face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob’s path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

I loved this book. It was very Sarah-Dessen-ish, in tone, style, and general storyline ideas, but most definitely Chen’s own work. I was instantly captivated by Terra and her personality. She was someone that any girl could probably relate to, if not admire, and with every page her character grows stronger (literally and figuratively). She definitely has an original voice, and I love the fact that she really grows into herself throughout the book, with the help of her Mom (surprise!) and my other favorite character, Jacob. The way she interacted with him and other characters made the whole thing more realistic, which heightened my emotional connection and responses to the book.

Emotions were very strong in this book; there were several points where I was laughing and crying at the same time, there were a few bittersweet moments, heart-stopping moments, and moments of pure joy. Incredibly, it was a very skillful and smooth transition from emotion to emotion; the plot was so seamless I hardly took note of how many different feelings I had for all of the characters and the story itself.

This is a book that I would love to see as a movie. It was just so easy to picture, so detailed and real, and I even started to write a screenplay for it (although I have to return the book to the library, so I won’t have time to write the entire thing; maybe another time – or if I break and end up buying it for myself, because really, it’s that good!).

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a touching story, wonderful writing, or a meaningful book. You won’t be disappointed.

~Yours Truly

*Note: I don’t recommend this book for readers under the age of 14 due to some content.

First Writing Sample

Okay, so I said that I would try to post some more of my writing on the blog, and all I’ve really been doing lately is reading and posting/scheduling reviews. So, I’ve decided to take something that I wrote awhile ago for the Creative Writing Club and share it here. Please let me know what you think!


                Be not afraid; you are strong. Norman looked around at the familiar scene. His mom had warned him not to get into fights at school, that the other kids could get in trouble, but not her little man. It was too bad, really, that Mom was wrong. For weeks now, ever since starting 3rd grade at a new school, Norman had been routinely assaulted on the playground. It worked like clockwork, really.

                At 12:15 every day, the bell would ring. Everyone but Norman would rush out of the classroom, and the teacher would tsk impatiently at him as he dragged his feet to the door and down the stairs and out the door and across the parking lot to the swings. He would fail miserably at trying to not stick out like a sore thumb, the only kid outside alone, the only kid outside not screaming happily. And then, after about five minutes, somehow Norman would end up out of view of the teacher. It didn’t matter if he stayed in one spot or moved around; the teacher would always move, or someone would chase him away from the jungle gym, and then Mark and his friends would come, circling around Norman. They would push him to the ground, kick him, and call him names like “Martian” or “Caveman”. It’s not that Norman was a big kid, he was just a little taller for his age, and he was weirdly smart, despite his young age. “Precocious,” his mom called him.

                Anyway, Norman had had enough. Inspired by his fortune cookie from last night’s take out Chinese food, when Mark singled him out that day at around 12:25, he decided not to quietly take the kicks and the bruises that came with them. As soon as Mark’s friend Brady touched his shoulder to push him, Norman turned, swinging his fist at Brady’s vulnerable stomach. Brady doubled over, gasping, and everyone else backed away quickly. “Leave. Me. Alone.” Norman vocalized his wish that he had chanted over and over to himself for the first time in a voice that he barely recognized as his own. And, amazingly, they did. Each of the boys that had bullied him had a slightly dazed look tinged with fear and … is that awe? Even Mark was surprised and nervous as Norman shoved past them around the twisty slide, back into the teacher’s view.

                Later that day, despite the fact that he was in the principal’s office and his mom had been pulled out of work to come meet with her, Norman was happy. Mark and Brady had been leaving him alone since recess, and he suspected that the trend would continue infinitely. His mom finally exited the room she and the principal had been talking in, looking a little flustered. She held her hand out to Norman and he took it. They walked to the car in silence. Norman began to fidget as his mom twisted the key in the ignition. She turned to him before pulling out of the parking lot.

                “Norman, why did you hit Brady?”

                She didn’t sound too upset, so Norman decided on the truth. “Because I was tired of them hitting me.” His mom nodded.

                “Okay.” She turned back around. “Just promise me that you’ll only fight to defend yourself, only when you have to. And Norman?” She locked eyes with him through the rearview mirror.

                “Yes, Mom?”

                “If you ever have to fight, make sure you win.” She held up a small slip of paper. “You are strong; don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.” A small smile crept across her lips and Norman sat in shocked silence the whole way home. Later that week, his mom had him enrolled in karate lessons, and came to watch every single one.


Again, please let me know what you think in the comments! Constructive criticism is always welcome – and if you’re going to bash me, please do it nicely! Thanks!

~Yours Truly

Flash Point

Title: Flash Point
Author: Nancy Kress
Publisher: Viking – Penguin Group, Inc.
Release Date: November 8, 2012

Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she’s right to have them. TLN’s Who Knows People, Baby—You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life—on and off camera.

Considering that this book was like a cross between The Hunger Games and Dual, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d thought it’d be. The climax really only came at the very end, and then the last few pages, though interesting, were a little anticlimactic.

That being said, it was overall a pretty good book. The characters were interesting, for the most part, and I really liked Amy and her grandmother. Of course, Rafe was awesome, too, and Tommy was really sweet. I liked how diverse the characters were, and even though I wasn’t 100% convinced of their three-dimensionality (some – like Waverly – were kind of cliché), I liked that there were some unexpected traits or background histories that made them more realistic. I also really like the cover – that was really what drew me to the book in the first place.

My favorite part of the writing was that Kress showed more than Amy’s POV. Inserting a couple scenes from the TV station’s POV heightened the tension and made me wonder when the climax would come. With sinister motives, the whole book was great at keeping the reader interested in what comes next. There were a lot of moral implications to the book, too, which I liked because they weren’t explicitly stated. Instead, it was musings and metaphors through the writing that conveyed these things. I liked the messages that the book had for its readers, and that they were contained in such a good story.

Although it was not the best book I’ve ever read, it was a decent read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys easy, dystopian reads (and don’t be deceived by the size of the book – it really is a quick read).

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 14 due to sexual content, language, and violence.

Mind Games & Perfect Lies

Title: Mind Games (Book 1 in Mind Games)
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen – HarperCollins
Release Date: December 3rd, 2013

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.
Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

This was a great book. I loved everything about it. Even though it was slightly graphic and a little gruesome at times, it was captivating. The POVs and time snapshots were wonderfully organized, and even though it takes an adjustment, once you get used to reading it, the story just flows. It doesn’t seem like it would work, but somehow the author and publisher pull it off beautifully.

The entire storyline is so original and creative; I’ve never read anything completely like it before, and even ideas that seems like I’ve read similar stuff have such a unique twist that it is fresh, new, intense, and just awesome to read. The characters were great, especially Fia and Annie (of course), and even though I didn’t get a great glimpse into some of the other characters, I have a feeling that the second book will give a little more insight, and I can’t wait to read it and add it to the post!

 

Title: Perfect Lies (Book 2 in Mind Games)
Release Date: February 18, 2014

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.
But Annie’s visions of the future can’t show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia’s first love, Fia knows he’s hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other – but that may not be enough to save them.

I think this book was even better than the first one. I was always at the edge of my chair, and I was physically tense from the emotional and action-related density of it all.

The characters were amazing, and I’m so glad that we got to see a little more of each of them. The POVs were great, again, though I loved how this time it built up more sequentially from past to present, focusing on one moment in the future to base the entire book around. It made for an extremely exciting climax, and White couldn’t have done a better job. Granted, it could be a little confusing at times, but that is the point – the mystery and suspense really get you attached to the characters.

The ending was totally unpredictable, too. Even the characters didn’t know what was going to happen, which lends to the pace and suspense throughout the book. The unpredictability and suddenness, especially when reading from Fia’s POV, is spectacular. Plus, it wasn’t a stereotypical closing to the story/book as a whole; it was really appropriate for the characters and what they had experienced.

Basically, this series is amazing, and Kiersten White is awesome. This sequel is stunning, with action, so much emotion, suspense, and a thrilling plot. It is dizzyingly fast paced, and perfectly choppy to keep you on your toes. The plethora of seemingly contradictory descriptions I’m offering are each true in their own way concerning the book, but you really just have to read it to see for yourself. And, although it doesn’t need another book, I would happily read more about Fia and Annie (if Ms. White would be so kind?)!

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book for readers under the age of 14 due to content.

 

 

Revel

Title: Revel
Author: Maurissa Guibord
Publisher: Delacorte Press – Random House
Release Date: February 12, 2013

There is an island off the coast of Maine that can’t be found on any modern map – only in the faded pages of old books of New England legends. But it’s real. Shrouded in mist and protected by a deadly reef, Trespass Island is home to a community of people who guard the land and its secrets from outsiders, just as they’ve done for centuries.
After the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Delia McGovern finds her way to the island in search of her grandmother, hoping for answers to lingering questions. Why did Delia’s mom never talk about Trespass Island?
Delia isn’t welcome here, and she soon finds herself trapped in a world where mysterious ancient symbols adorn the buildings, communication with the outside world is impossible, and death comes quickly to unsuspecting intruders. Despite the dangers, Delia feels drawn to life on the island, as well as to the sea and to Jax, the elusive young man she meets at the water’s edge. She also meets Sean Gunn, a handsome young lobsterman who befriends her but seems to have a troubling secret of his own.
As the young women of the island prepare for Revel, the traditional ceremony held on the night of the summer solstice, Delia learns the terrifying truth: Trespass Island is home to more than just humans.
There are monsters here.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It was decently written, and the idea of the book is great, but I think the actual execution of the plot has some major holes that detracted from the rest of the book.  For example, how did Jax find Delia in the end? Also, I don’t think we get enough of a perspective from the First Ones, which is a huge part of the book. Even if the character isn’t supposed to know something, the reader probably should, sometimes.

Also, the ending was a little anticlimactic. All this build-up, and then it kind of just washes away with the way it ends – very little detail, some vague promises that things would change, and a lot of people died. The suspenseful parts earlier were much better and more fun to read; after a certain point, I only continued reading because I wanted to see how it would actually end, not because I thought the ending was great, or I needed more information about the characters.

That being said, there were some other parts that I thoroughly enjoyed. The idea of the island, and the creatures on and below it, and Delia herself were excellent. I also liked her grandmother, a lot. The characters were great; it was mostly just details here and there that kind of threw everything off just enough to make it noticeable.

The cover, also, is beautiful. The shades of blue, the waves, and the slight distortion of the cover model in the water is great; it really reflects the book. The title, plain and bold, sits perfectly in front of the picture, with a fanciful swirl around a letter pulling it all together.

The last thing I’ll point out that I didn’t really like was that no one else really seemed to want to fight back or think that anything on the island was wrong, and that just didn’t make much sense to me, especially considering the Revel tradition. There should have been at least one other person who agreed with Delia, aside from her grandmother (who did, but didn’t really show it much), even if it was privately.

To finish on a positive note, the book really wasn’t terrible. It was a nice, creative, fast read; I just don’t think it’s for me.

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book for readers under the age of 14 due to some sexual references.

Eleanor & Park

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: February 26, 2013

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.
Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Before adding this book to my TBR list, I had read a glowing review about it, although I forget who actually wrote it. However, when I first picked up the book, I couldn’t imagine why I would read it. The cover wasn’t thrilling, the summary didn’t intrigue me very much, and even the title only tugged a little at my curiosity. But when I started reading, I could not put it down. In just a few short hours, Eleanor and Park were as real to me as the pages I was turning, perhaps even more so. I got so caught up in their personalities and stories that I staved off sleep until the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, it was amazing.

It was a perfect fit for it’s genre – contemporary – and the writing style was fantastic. It actually reminded me of Beth Fantaskey’s Jekel Loves Hyde with it’s alternating POVs for each chapter, which consisted of brief sections of the same scene, or sometimes they got a whole scene to themselves. I loved how even though looking at a page, it might seem choppy, it actually flowed very nicely and the story was smooth and seamless.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t some mystery or suspense. Waiting for the climax, or not knowing what the other character was thinking, made me crazy at points, especially since the other characters in the book were mostly ignored and Eleanor and Park were (obviously) the main focus. Normally, this would annoy me, but Rowell pulls it off in this book wonderfully, and it fits not only the title, but the story as well. Two teens coming of age together – it’s fitting that the other characters are mostly background noise. That being said, I really liked Park’s family – how they were written and just them in general. They weren’t perfect, but they loved each other and made it work. It was very realistic. Unfortunately, so was Eleanor’s family. Brokenness is just as realistic, and they were also written very well.

I liked how this book wasn’t clichéd. Every time I thought something cliché was going to happen, the book suddenly took a swerve to avoid it, but it was so subtle you didn’t even realize that the expected cliché never came. Eleanor isn’t tall, thin, and popular. In fact, she’s pretty much the opposite. She never claims to be perfect, and neither does Park, and it’s obvious from the writing that they’re not, but they are still loveable characters in spite – or perhaps because – of this. It was more realistic and less fantastical.

Something else that probably led me to believe this is the ending. Again, not a cliché. Not expected. A little anticlimactic, but a good ending, although I didn’t necessarily like it as much as the rest of the book. However, I would still highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a touching, heartfelt, and realistic read – it is not for anyone wanting to escape the real world for a while. I hope you pick up a copy soon!

~Yours Truly

*Note: I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 15 due to profanity and sexual content.