Friday, March 22, 2013

Freebee Friday!

How about a musical Freebee today, folks? This one made me smile.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

You Look Different in Real Life
Jennifer Castle
June 4, 2013
HarperCollins (?)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review. 

Publisher’s Summary
Readers of John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Laurie Halse Anderson will be touched by the emotional depth and realistic characters of Jennifer Castle’s YA novel You Look Different in Real Life.

Justine charmed the nation in a documentary film featuring five kindergartners. Five years later, her edgy sense of humor made her the star of a second movie that caught up with the lives of the same five kids.

Now Justine is sixteen, and another sequel is in the works. Justine isn’t ready to have viewers examining her life again. She feels like a disappointment, not at all like the girl everyone fell in love with in the first two movies. But, ready or not, she and the other four teens will soon be in front of the cameras again.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what’s personal and what’s public aren’t always clear.

My Take
I’ve never read any of Jennifer’s books before now so “You Look Different” was a good one to cut my teeth on.  Justine has mixed emotions about the cameras that will soon be documenting her life again for the big screen. There’s too much to live up to and as she examines her own life, she realizes that she’s disappointed herself a little. Not living out the dreams or goals she had at eleven. Letting friendships go because they didn’t “fit” anymore, and drifting away from others for reasons she doesn’t really understand.
So agreeing to the sequel of Five at is less than exciting. As she’s struggling to figure out what to show the camera and what the public wants to see, Justine ends up discovering herself. She finds out who she really is, who her friends really are and growing into the person she’s always been, but never seen.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s fast moving, funny, and real. Castle did a fantastic job with Justine growing in each relationship with the other Five at stars, as well as each character growing on their own. Even though Justine is the center of the novel, the other characters are still given a fair amount of screen time.

My Rating: 4/5 stars, worth the read. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host
Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown & Company

Publisher’s Summary:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. But Wanderer, the invading "soul" who occupies Melanie's body, finds its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Soon Wanderer and Melanie-reluctant allies-set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human.

My Take:

I was reluctant to read another Stephenie Meyer book after the Twilight Series because I didn’t find her writing to be that good or her stories that deep. But, the movie’s coming out at the end of the month, the previews looked amazing, and the summary of the book seemed pretty interesting, so I gave it a shot. Here’s what I’ve come to decide about The Host:

It’s about 200 pages too long. The total length of my ebook was 601. Meyer tends to over state her ideas when she’s writing. She’ll choose the long way of saying something simple, and she’ll give unnecessary details to add word count to her story. There were quite a few times where she would over describe how the cave looked to her, or who was present in a room--all by name--or give us a play by play of just exactly what it was the main character was doing at all times. She did the same thing with the Twilight Series, so it seems she hasn’t necessarily learned to be a better writer, despite her fame and popularity.

I had two other big problems with this book, and they too, are due to Meyer’s writing. The character development and relationship development between characters was nothing short of weak. The book opens with the scene of Wanderer entering her host, Melanie. (This next part is somewhat of a spoiler, but you find out about it pretty soon in the book--within about 30 pages or so). Melanie is still present inside her head with Wanderer, and Melanie hates Wanderer. But then, a month or so passes in the book, we know this because Meyer says “a month or so later”, and magically, Melanie and Wanderer don’t hate each other anymore so much as tolerate each other. I enjoyed it more when Meyer showed how they went from tolerating each other to liking each other, later on in the book.

Then there are the love interests Melanie has. She has a younger brother and a boyfriend, Jamie and Jared. Melanie loves them both so much and Wanderer has access to those feelings and memories. And magically, again, Wanderer loves both Jamie and Jared, not because Melanie’s feelings love them, but because she loves them. And of course, this development mostly occurs during the month that takes place “off stage”. It’s cheating when authors use this method to explain development they don’t have the skill to create.

My other point of irritation was that the main character, Wanderer, was so incredibly weak. The beginning of the book, she was kind of a “middle of the road, sometimes I can be tough”, pretty normal character. Then when the true story starts, she disappoints, and literally curls up into a ball most of the time, waiting to be beat-up on because of what she really is. She never stands up for herself, always backs down, never says what she should say, and a lot of times, is a coward. I can understand her acting this way in the first part, but as time progresses, I expected her to grow as a character. Apparently I was expecting too much. Instead of evoking sympathy from the reader, Meyer almost creates a self-righteous weakling, with Wanderer’s actions. It wasn’t noble, it was annoying. And, she's so hard on herself all the time, the reader doesn't end up rooting for the underdog, they end up hoping someone will stuff a rag in her mouth and knock her silly (or at least, I did).

But, there was something I was very impressed about, and that was the love triangle or rather, love rhombus. It was not forced or instant or annoying. It was actually very natural and subtle and I wanted Wanderer to end up with the new guy and not Jared. That relationship, the relationship that really didn’t matter, was the only one I thought was truly developed the way it should have been. The way all the other relationships should have been developed.

And despite the generally weak characters, there were a couple I warmed up to, though they weren’t as developed as I’d like to have seen.

Some of you may argue, “Well, she must be a good author, all of her books were made into movies and she’s probably a millionaire by now.” And to you I would say, “Tsk, tsk. The outcome is not necessarily a result of the quality of her writing, but the salability of the idea.” Poor writing is still poor writing, even if it’s made into a movie or some publishing house pays six figures for a series.

Like I said, the movie looks a lot better, definite changes were made to the overall story, though. I'm hoping that the movie will add in what the book lacked (with a background song like Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive", how could it not, right?) But, I'll have to wait and see. 

Read more here:

All of that being said, here’s the bottom line: the idea for the book was very intriguing and good. That’s what kept me reading the story (and also seeing which boy would get the girl, because up until the very end, you really have no idea), and it’s not a bad way to spend the afternoon, you just have to get past all the filler Meyer puts in and see the story for what it is: unique and one of a kind. I did like it, despite the small annoyances I found. 

Happy reading, my friends!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The best in the series, so far

by Marissa Meyer
YA Sci-fi
Coffee Beans: 4.5/5
Content Rating: PG for kissing and fighting
Instalove factor: From Marissa? Pffft, please!
The Cover: In love
Spoilers: Nope
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for this honest review

I had been on the prowl for an ARC of Marissa Meyer's latest installment in the Lunar Chronicles for a long time. Keeping a sharp eye on Shelf Awareness, Edelweiss, Net Galley--all the usual suspects.


It was a couple of weeks before the book was due out, and I was loosing all hope at getting an early copy when, low and behold!, an email in my inbox from her publicist asking me if I'd like to have a galley!

Um, yes?!?!?!

So my wish was granted, and I was not disappointed.

Publisher's Summary:

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review:

I have to say, that out of the two books, this one is by far my favorite. There was so much more action and drama and the relationship between Scarlet and Wolf is my favorite so far of the YA literary sci-fi/paranormal world. They hate each other in the beginning, and it's a reluctant alliance until about a little bit past half-way through the book.

I love how Meyer is introducing new characters and stories in the fairy tale vein and tying their stories into Cinder's. As you can guess, Scarlet is about Little Red Riding Hood and the big, bad Wolf. The majority of the book focuses on her search for her grandmere, but the book also jumps around to what's going on with Cinder and her goofy and very likable, Captain Carswell Thorne, her new sidekick; and twists and turns until the two stories meet up and finally, so do the characters. And don't worry, Levana is still around, and as evil as ever. Poor, poor, Prince Kai.

This is a must read. Enjoy!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Freebee Friday!

I had a few good ones I wanted to put up today, but I had to choose one. So, I'll share the others with you as the weeks go on. Enjoy and happy Friday!