October 31, 2010

In My Mailbox (5)

In this meme, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, we share the books we've received, bought or taken out from the library.

Nothing in my physical mailbox this week, sadly, but I did get some books from the library, including:

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
How to Make a Bird by Martine Murray
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Firelight and Paranormalcy I will be reviewing for the Fall Into Fantasy event, so look for those reviews in November!

Also Happy Halloween to all my fellow book bloggers! :D

October 29, 2010

Forget-Me-Nots: The Booky Trilogy

This is a feature on my blog for highlighting books I enjoyed in childhood and the teenage years that I don't see getting much attention nowadays.

I didn't post a Forget-Me-Nots pick last week – so here's a whole series this week to make up for it! :D

That Scatterbrain Booky, With Love From Booky, As Ever, Booky by Bernice Thurman Hunter

Goodreads' description:

"Beatrice Thomson doesn't mind her funny nickname. It makes her feel special, which is important when you're the middle child: not the smartest, or the best-looking, or a boy. The Depression years are hard ones, with her father out of work and the family struggling to make ends meet. But irrepressible Booky, with her big imagination and even bigger plans, can tackle anything. A sharp-eyed kid can find plenty to see and do without spending a cent. Even if it does get her into scrapes!"

My sister had these 3 books and I read them multiple times when I was younger. Now I have the 3-in-1 Booky: A Trilogy version in my own collection.  This series has to be one of the best depictions I've read of a young girl growing up during the Great Depression. Her family was poor and had to make do with very little, but Booky still manages to have a great time. Some of the stories are funny, some of them emotionally moving, but they all feel very real, helped by the inclusion of what I believe are actual photos from Bernice Hunter's life. Plus, it's set in Canada, which makes it feel even more personal for me! :D

Anyone else remember these books?

Mirror, Mirror?

Okay, sorry for the lame fairytale reference of a title.

Jackson Pearce just recently posted the cover of her upcoming book Sweetly (a Hansel and Gretel retelling) on her website, and it is a very cool and creepy-looking cover.

But, is anyone else reminded of the cover of Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm? I haven't read this one, but it also features Hansel and Gretel!

Some of the similarities are kind of uncanny...the silhouetted tree branches, the yellow lights, the positions of the title and author's name... What do you think?

Book Blogger Hop (15)

It's time again for the Book Blogger Hop! This awesome meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books and this week's question is, "What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"

Ooooh tough question... I'd love a large library devoted to books, containing all the necessary amenities — comfortable sofas and cushy chairs, a curtained windowseat, and a bell to ring for maid service. I could stay in there all day, and that would suit me just fine :D
Recent posts on the blog:

The Tension of Opposites: Review
All I Want For Christmas Is... (3) — Join up with books you'd like for Christmas!
YA Love Triangle Week Reminder
Waiting on Wednesday: Abandon and Lost Voices
Top Ten Tuesday: Creepy Books

Now it's hopping time!

October 28, 2010

The Tension of Opposites: Review

It happened two years ago, but Tessa's been living a shadow of a life ever since. Her best friend — kidnapped. No dead body found, no clues, nothing. And Tessa's withdrawn from everyone else, her photography being one of the only things she still enjoys. Until Max comes into her life. He's also into photography, he keeps trying to strike up a conversation, and Tessa finds herself drawn to him.

And then...Noelle comes back. It turns out she's been alive this whole time. Tessa reaches out to her, wanting to bridge the gap between them that the last two years have created. But Noelle's changed — she looks different and she doesn't want to talk about what happened. And in doing her utmost to bring back the friendship she treasures, Tessa may put in jeopardy the new relationship growing between her and Max...

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride


I sympathized with Tessa in the beginning, as she's very defensive, shutting everybody out and not allowing herself to be truly happy now that Noelle is gone. When Noelle returns as "Elle," though, Tessa starts trying to protect her from everything and doing just about anything she can to try to regain Elle's friendship. This kind of turns into a drop-everything-to-help-Elle obsession that is unhealthy, and I started to get very irritated with Tessa's character. I didn't blame Max at all for finally putting his foot down when she kept blowing him off to "support" Elle. In the end, Tessa realizes on some level that she's been ignoring her needs (and Max) for Elle, but I don't know if she ever figured out that her "help" sometimes hindered Elle's progression. Even at the end I don't think she's totally clued in.

Elle intrigued me when she first appeared, because she's been through so much that she refuses to discuss, instead lashing out in bitterness. But when she started trying to split up the "perfect couple" of the school for no good reason, her behaviour started to frustrate me. I totally did not understand why she felt the need to "steal" the guy away from the head cheerleader, it seemed really spiteful on her end. Then we are told she actually falls in love with the guy, but I never actually saw much of evidence of this (except for some slightly stalker-ish behaviour). Of course, she had been through things no one should ever have to go through (spoiler, highlight to read: she was drugged and raped among other things), so at least her reactions are somewhat excusable. I got the impression, though, that she was a "drama queen" before she ever got kidnapped, and even towards the end of the book she still seems so self-focused.

I was surprised that Elle didn't show more classic signs of PTSD — she is reluctant to discuss her experiences, and there's the whole "acting out" thing she does, but I would have expected more obvious symptoms. Perhaps it's because we see her through Tessa's eyes that we don't get this so much. I found that the two journal entries of Elle's we get to see worked well to get the reader into her head, because Tessa really has no idea what Elle is thinking and her attempts to imagine it didn't really work for me.

Max was definitely my favorite character here. I admired that he didn't give up on Tessa when she brushed him off at first, and he was really sweet while at the same time challenging her about certain things. I think Max helped Tessa open up a lot, and it was great to see that happen. Also, I appreciated that Max didn't put up with how Tessa put their relationship and her own life on hold whenever she thought Elle needed her help (which was VERY often). He always had the most sensible viewpoint, but he did seem a little too good to be true at some points...it kind of felt like he was being used for the "voice of reason" in the book, if that makes sense.

The side characters Jessie (the cheerleader) and her boyfriend Chip didn't get fleshed out, and I never really understood their motives. Jessie seemed rather gullible — she totally believes her on-again off-again boyfriend even after he leaves her for Elle at one point —but I felt like there was all this unreasonable hatred coming from Tessa and Elle directed at Jessie. I couldn't figure out if it was because she was a cheerleader, because she was a member of the "it" couple, or because she was supposed to be totally b*tchy (or all three). But honestly I usually felt sorry for her more than anything else, and we get told that she's really mean more than we ever get shown it.


All right, the inside flap calls this "a haunting psychological thriller"...that is rather misleading. It's not a thriller so much as the aftermath of a thriller. The plot isn't really gripping, as the book is more about the characters and their interpersonal relationships than an action-packed storyline. If you're looking for that, you won't get it here. As I'm thinking back on it, I can't really picture the plot sequence or pick out any scenes that really stuck in my head...it all kind of blends together.

Overall I wish it had focused more on the reaction of Elle to her traumatic experiences, and the problems this caused in rekindling her friendship with Tessa (which I thought still happened too easily), rather than on Elle's annoying "drama queen" behaviour with Chip and Jessie. Really I feel like more could have been done looking at the psychological damage that sort of event could have, both on the individual, and the friends and family around her.

Writing style:

Despite all my complaints about the characters, the book was actually quite readable and didn't take me very long at all. The pacing is quite slow, and I thought some scenes were dragged out longer than necessary, but I never really felt I was struggling to make it to the end.

Final verdict: 3 shooting stars. It's an interesting and dark topic, and the relationship development between Max and Tessa is cute, but the characters and their choices will likely start to frustrate even a forgiving reader after a little while.

Note: This one's really for the older YA reader, as there is some mature content (both sexual and violent).

All I Want For Christmas Is... (3)

This is a feature/meme where I choose a book each week leading up to Christmas and say why it's made it onto my wishlist – and I'd love to see what books everyone else is hoping to get! I'll be posting my pick each Thursday, but you guys can link up and visit other people's posts all through the week.
This week's pick: The Three Loves of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds

From Goodreads:

Persimmon Polidori is a fine young lady, but within her is a rebel. She must follow her heart's desire, even if it means her family will reject her for the choices she makes. These choices bring her adventure and a world she never knew existed - they also bring her loneliness...

Along the way, Persimmon undergoes the trials of love, heartbreak, doubt and the discovery of her own true value.

And she does it with the aid of a tiny, brave creature named Epiphany.

I found out about this novel through the Tea Mouse blog, whose review had a lot of glowing things to say about it, including that the author does a great job of eliciting emotion from the reader. I like the idea that one of the main characters is a girl, one is a mouse, and their stories come together. It sounds like one of those rare under-the-radar reads that are really fresh and quirky! (Also, I love that her name is Persimmon. That's a fabulous name for a character in this type of book.)

What books are on your Christmas wish list? Link up below!

October 27, 2010

YA Love Triangle Week Reminder!

Amber at Down The Rabbit Hole is hosting YA Love Triangle Week, where different bloggers defend their picks for YA guys! It starts next Monday with my post about why I support Team David from the Uglies series, and Caitlin from Scarrlet Reader gives her reasons for choosing Zane :D

It will continue all week with a whole bunch of characters, so check it out! There will be chances to vote, author interviews and prizes... Details about the schedule are here, and the rules for voting/prizes are here.

So be sure to drop on by!

Waiting on Wednesday: Abandon and Lost Voices

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

This week's picks:

Abandon by Meg Cabot

I saw this book being featured on the blog A Girl, Books and Other Things and I knew what one of my WoW picks would be this week!

Goodreads' description:

When Pierce first sees him, she thinks he is a murderer. She's right about one thing -- he does take lives. But not in the way she ever imagined. Pierce is drawn to the dark stranger even as she tries to uncover the mystery surrounding the tragic death of someone close to her. As she gets closer to the truth -- and the stranger -- unexpected secrets are revealed, even in her own heart.

It's a retelling of the Persephone myth, and I'm excited to see what Meg Cabot does with this one! It does look a little darker than some of her other work...also don't you just LOVE that cover? The full book jacket is even more amazing:

 Seriously. Stunning.

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Goodreads' description:

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help? 

Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. 

A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. 

Luce’s own talent at singing captures the attention of the tribe’s queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce’s struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina’s leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again? 

Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.

I don't normally read a lot of mermaid books (is this something I should remedy? Tell me your favourite mermaid story!) but Lost Voices sounds darker than most. I like that there's a connection between "lost girls" in real life and the mermaids. Beautiful cover on this one as well, I really like the shades of blue-green chosen and the font creatively looks a little like seaweed!

What books are you waiting on?

October 26, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Creepy Books

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is scary books, in honour of Halloween coming up!

I tend to not read scary books, so I had a bit of trouble with this list. Some of the books on here frightened me when I was a kid, but probably wouldn't so much if I read them again now. And several of them I took from my post "Children's/YA Books that Creeped You Out" here.

 1.) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Okay, the book probably didn't scare me that much, but the movie (with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton) sure did! I think I must have seen it first when I was about 11 or so, and I always hated the parts with the mad woman's laughter echoing about all over the place. Also the scene where she comes into Jane's room and we see her purple, bloated face. *shudders*

Jane getting scared at the very thought of mocking, crazy laughter.

2.) Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen

There's a very weird secret at the wizard's hall and some pretty sick-minded people. I kind of had a horrified fascination with this book. I remember reading it more than once, each time not remembering how truly creepy it was (or thinking it wouldn't bother me as much), and then getting freaked out all over again, LOL.

3.) The Half-a-Moon Inn by Paul Fleischman

This poor mute boy gets totally mistreated by this abusive inn-owner. I believe I had to read this one for school and I seriously found it quite horrifying. I mean, she steals his boots and then puts them in the soup she serves!

4.) Castle Tourmandyne by Monica Hughes

The dolls come to life and the girl gets trapped inside the castle, from what I remember. I think there was some kind of weird power struggle between the two cousins. So psychologically it was pretty disturbing.

5.) Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

I don't remember much about this book (or any of the others in the series) except that I really did not like the idea of a vampiric bunny with red glowing eyes. According to Goodreads the bunny turns out to be vegetarian, so I'm not so sure why this one disturbed me when I was a kid...maybe it was the creepy cover?

6.) Obedience by Will Lavender

This one's an adult psychological thriller and while I don't know that it scared me per se, it certainly did get my heart pounding!

7.) "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury

Not a book, I know, but this short story so totally freaked me out. I read it in about grade 9 and it seriously made me feel a little sick.

8.) The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

I read this one a little while ago, and the killer's perspective was really quite creepy and perverted. Not to mention the whole ability to find the dead (I don't envy her that at all.)

9.) Animal Farm by George Orwell

Technically I guess 1984 has more scary elements, but I read Animal Farm much earlier (maybe around age 11) and I remember finding the ending particularly unsettling.

10.) This last one isn't my pick, but I was talking with my mom about creepy books and she said the book Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffman scared her so much when she was younger (she can read German). It's basically all about the terrible things that happen to naughty children, complete with horrifying illustrations. And they really are horrifying, because they creep me out just looking at them now on Wikipedia! (And I am not posting a picture of the cover because I don't want to be scared each time I look at this post, but if you want to see it go here.)

What books freak you out?

October 24, 2010

In My Mailbox (4)

In this meme, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, we share the books we've received, bought or taken out from the library. I had a great mailbox week!


The Agency: The Body at the Tower by Y. S. Lee (thanks to Candlewick Press) – review here
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (thanks to the 2009 Debutantes) – I reviewed this one a little while ago here
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott (a signed copy from The Book Addict – thanks Taffy!)

From the library:

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
Illyria by Elizabeth Hand


October 22, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (14)

It's time again for the Book Blogger Hop! This awesome meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books and this week's question is,"Where is your favorite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"
Personally I almost always read in bed, it's comfiest there! And there are the least amount of distractions in my bedroom so I can really fall into the story if it's a gripping one. One place I can't read is in any moving vehicle – five minutes of reading and I start feeling queasy... :(

And a head's-up for recent posts on the blog:

All I Want For Christmas Is... (2): This is a new meme I've started where we pick a book each week that we'd like to be given for Christmas! I post my pick on Thursdays but the link option will stay open all week, so feel free to drop on by and link up :) It's been fun seeing what everyone else is hoping to get!

Now let's hop! :)

October 21, 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is...(2)

This is a feature/meme where I choose a book each week leading up to Christmas and say why it's made it onto my wishlist – and I'd love to see what books everyone else is hoping to get! I'll be posting my pick each Thursday, but you guys can link up and visit other people's posts all through the week.
This week's pick: Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe

From Goodreads:

Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over "breathers". Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody... and Cass loves dirt. She's on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.

But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass's whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees. 

As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim's life, she's surprised to realize he's not so bad — and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance...

I first saw this one reviewed very positively on Amber's blog, and it sounds like a light, fun read! I'm not normally huge on ghosts but this one sounds like it combines real life and the paranormal really well, and I have liked other ghost books in the past (Meg Cabot's Mediator series, for one.) Also from what I understand Crewe does a fabulous job of characterization, so all in all this one seems promising! (And that cover is really cute, too.)

What books are on your Christmas wish list?

The Body at the Tower: In A Nutshell

The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee

It's London, 1859. A man has just died under mysterious circumstances, but the only culprit anyone can pin it on is the ghost of the tower.

That is, until Mary Quinn gets involved...

She works for a secret women's organization called the Agency, and she's eager to prove that she can help crack the case. The plan? Masquerade as a boy and work on the construction site where the body was found. She can eavesdrop, mingle, and meet people who might be able to give her information.

But Mary's not prepared to meet the one person who could at any moment reveal her identity – James Easton. The man she thought she'd never see again is back, and both as helpful and as aggravating as ever...

The Body at the Tower is book 2 in Lee's Agency series. I was looking forward to this one after enjoying book 1 (The Spy in the House), and I really whipped through it, staying up late to finish!

One sentence sum-up: A mystery set in Victorian London with lots of sleuthing and a dash of romance.

My reaction: I really found this an enjoyable, entertaining read. I thought about putting it down, going to bed, and finishing it the next day...but I didn't, because I wanted to find out how it ended before I went to sleep. That always means that I'm really into the book!

Getting into Mary's mindset took a bit of time (it's been a while since I read the first book, and also Mary and I are quite different) but soon enough I was sucked into the story. The plot is a little slow-moving in the middle, but the climactic scene was quite exciting.

The Body at the Tower does have a similar storyline structure to the first book, so it was sometimes a bit predictable. I am absolutely terrible at actually solving mysteries so I couldn't figure out all the intricate details as I read; I'm not sure how somebody more adept at playing detective would find it.

Best aspect: Hands-down, the interaction and dialogue between James and Mary. This is what I liked best about book 1 as well, and it's fabulous to watch their relationship develop in this second book (although it takes a little while for James to appear on the scene again...I kept waiting for that!) They spend half the time arguing and the other half trying to help each other, it's very cute. I was happy to see Mary finally open up to James a little bit more; she is so defensive and secretive (and given her past, it's hardly surprising) but she needs to learn how to trust.

Also, Lee does a great job evoking a sense of living in London at that time; the historical setting is spot-on.

If I could change something... Well, the book does use the common device of having the villain explain the motive and everything behind the crime during the climactic scene. Later this is recapped in detail, so there's a bit of repetition that may not be necessary. And while the plot itself is engrossing, the explanation of the mystery is not super exciting (although it is probably fairly realistic for the times).

And, I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the side characters in this one. Keenan and Reid both seem like interesting personalities, but we don't get to know them in depth, unfortunately.

In five words or less: fun historical mystery/romance!

Quote (not my favorite, but that would be spoiling):

"And you are what you are!"

"Pray tell," he drawled, coldly angry now.

"Arrogant, high-handed, and controlling!"

"Rather that than arrogant, impulsive, and irresponsible."

She flung herself up from the sofa and stalked around the room. "It's my life, not yours! Can't you understand that?"

Rating: 4.5 shooting stars

Bottom line: I want to read the next one now!

Author's website: http://yslee.com/

Disclaimer: I won this book in a contest.
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