It's time to clear some space out on my shelves, so it's time for a contest! These books are all ARCs, some are out already, others aren't. I usually sell or pass on books to paperback swap when I'm done, but since these are ARCs, I can't do that.
I'm not including a synopsis here because I think we all know what this book is about and frankly-it's going to take up valuable space in what will be a long review.
Spoilers under the jump so if you haven't read it yet, you're safe until then.
I'm writing this review at 1:00 in the morning after finishing the book. Why? Well, because my head hurts a bit and I'm trying to process it all. Mockingjay was not what I expected. I don't say this in a bad way, I did enjoy the book and it made me cry at several parts, sometimes so much that I had to set the book aside and go blow my nose.
That said, I have to say that of the three books in this series, Mockingjay was probably my least favorite, but that's kind of like saying it was my least favorite flavor of ice cream, and ice cream is my favorite food on the planet.
It's Friday, so it's time for the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books & Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee.
If you're stopping by for the first time, welcome! I hope you take a look around, and if you like what you see, follow my blog. Please make sure to leave a comment with your blog so I can drop by too!
Jennifer had a question this week:
Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?
I do use a ratings system for my reviews, just a five star system. Right now I have no fancy graphics to display, but I'm probably going to either hunt some down or have the graphic designers that made my blog come up with some for me.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I've noticed that I've been exhibiting symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. I know that my current desk set up is not the most ergonomic. I recently got a new desk, which is helping, as I have a lot more work space and can push my chair in closer to the desk.
I'm also looking to add ergonomic accessories, bit by bit as we can afford it, as they tend to be pricy.
I currently use a rest for my mouse and keyboard, and also wear support gloves while on the computer.
Do any of my fellow writers suffer from carpal tunnel or other stress related injuries? If anyone has any tips for how they deal with it, I would be most appreciative.
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
The DUFF is one of those books that made me realize I'm old. I can remember when I was a kid, and how scandalous Judy Blume's Forever was. Seriously. We passed one copy around on the bus, and it was one of those rare books my parents forbid me to read (but I did anyway, of course). Forever is so tame compared to The DUFF that I have to wonder if I grew up in the 19th century, not the 20th!
I'd first heard of this book about seven months ago when I started lurking on the Absolute Write forums. Kody was an active member, and I filed her book away in my memory, as I liked the premise. Sometime after BEA, this book was being promoted here, there and everywhere. So, when I found out that Little Brown would be handing out copies of this at ALA, I made sure to grab a copy, just to see if it lived up to all that hype.
You know what? It does, at least in my opinion. The DUFF is not a book for everyone, as there is a lot cursing and pre-marital sex. Some might find it a bit crass, or just flat out against their beliefs. I've also read reviews where people have found Bianca a bit negative and unlikeable. I didn't feel that way because I identified a lot with Bianca. Her best friends are beautiful and she feels like a frog next to them. I've been there, I think most of us have. She's also dealing with some issues at home, her mom is absentee and her dad is like Bianca, not a big communicator.
Bianca and the class man-whore Wesley begin a closet relationship when things with her parents take a turn for the worse. Bianca tells herself that the intimacy makes her feel better-but it takes both of them awhile to realize that it's not just the sex that connects them, that they share a deeper bond.
I felt the high school experience was very fresh. I've been out of high school for a long time, and I really felt zapped back there while reading this book. I pretty much hated high school, so reading this book wasn't always a comfortable experience-at least for me.
The only real issue I had with this book is that the ending was a bit too happy for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for happy endings, but without giving too much away, I'll just say that bits of it didn't feel realistic to me.
I think The DUFF is a great book for older teens and adults, mainly for the theme, which is that we all feel ugly, and are probably all The DUFF at one point in our life. I wish I had read a book like this when I was a teenager, as I didn't gain perspective until sometime after my high school years.
It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn? (Amazon)
I believe I first heard of this anthology from author Carrie Ryan's blog, and as soon as I saw the title, I was all over it. Zombies? Unicorns? Yes please. Obviously, I'm Team Zombie. Maybe when I was seven and collecting Lisa Frank stickers, I was Team Unicorn, but that was a long time ago.
Yes, that slight bit of snark against Team Unicorn is evident of what you'll find in this book. Before every story Holly and Justine discuss it, and often banter about why their particular team is the one to root for. I wouldn't say I'm anti-unicorn per se, but I guess it's easier to believe in zombies than it is unicorns.
This is a big book, most of the stories are pretty long, and I'm happy to say the majority are enjoyable. There was only one Zombie story I wasn't that crazy about, Alaya Dawn Johnson's “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. I enjoyed the musical references (the title is that of my favorite Joy Division song) but ultimately I couldn't really relate to the characters. I gave up on the Unicorn tales “The Highest Justice” by Garth Nix & “A Thousand Flowers” by Margo Lanagan because they just weren't my style.
Now to talk about the stories I did enjoy. My favorites were Maureen Johnson's “Children of the Revolution”, which is about a girl minding the children of an eccentric celebrity, Scott Westerfield's “Inoculata”, which takes place on a southern farm surrounded by zombies, Libba Bray's “Prom Night”, about kids trying to have a prom night in the after math of a zombie apocalypse, and Diana Peterfreund's “The Care and Feeding of Your Killer Baby Unicorn.” See? I didn't just enjoy the zombie stories. Meg Cabot's “Princess Prettypants” was pretty bad-ass too.
I'm not a big anthology reader because there usually are those stories that just don't hold my interest. This is the case (for me at least) with Zombies vs. Unicorns-but the other stories make up for it. It's also piqued my interest to read further works of some of the authors, most notably Diana Peterfreund. Her books hadn't really interested me previously, because of the well, unicorn factor, but after reading up on them, I think I'll have to give them a go.
This anthology has it all, gripping emotion, hilarious moments and of course, brains. Definitely pick it up when it hits shelves next month!
Lexie Malton is an average Vancouver teen with fairly typical issues. Her stepmother is far from her favourite person, she has a sister with special needs, and life outside the home is the usual mix of school, friends, school, and social events.
But Lexie has a secret. Her ex-boyfriend, Devlin Mather, is now a heroin addict living on the street, and only Lexie knows that she's the one who put him there. Guilt makes her give in to Devlin's demands for money time and time again, even though she knows how dangerous his drug use is. Lexie finally gathers the strength to stop enabling Devlin. But when he seeks treatment for his addiction, Lexie finds herself drawn back to him, never guessing what a dark and deadly path she has just chosen. Devlin relapses, and his desperation will lead to an act that will change both of their lives forever.
I'm on a contemporary YA kick here lately, I've been trying to pepper in some more realistic tales in my reading. This book seems that it may be a challenge-but it's good to read something outside of your comfort zone every once in awhile.
In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.
I have heard fabulous things about this book, and not just from Team Zombie folks like me. I can't wait to get my hands on this one!
Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.
But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?
An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.
This was another book that I saw displayed at the Penguin booth at ALA, along with about ten others that I also wanted! It was a hard choice to make, and after reading some early reviews of this one, I wish I'd grabbed it!
Wild Spirits-Rosa Jordan Publisher: Dundurn Press Publication Date: June, 2010 Source: Review copy provided by publisher Author website
Eleven-year-old Danny Ryan and 19-year-old Wendy Marshall think their friendship is only about looking after two baby raccoons that Danny has rescued. But when a bank holdup upsets Wendy so much that she can hardly stand to be around people, she leaves her job as a teller, retreats to a farm, and surrounds herself with injured and orphaned wildlife. Danny, neglected at home and considered weird in a town where other boys are into hunting, finds peace on the farm, too, plus excitement, as he and Wendy adopt ever more exotic animals such as llamas, bobcats, a serval, an ocelot, and a blind lynx.
Over time the two friends develop a bond that goes beyond care of the animals to caring for each other. As it turns out, Wendy rescues not just wildlife but Danny, as well. What's more, the bank robbers are still at large and still a threat, and Danny, now 14, must act to save Wendy's life.
Wild Spirits is a quiet, beautiful book. I was drawn in instantly, and I have to say this is one of my favorite books that has ever been sent to me for review.
Wild Spirits takes place in rural Arkansas, where we meet Wendy, a nineteen year old bank teller, and her new young friend Danny. They're drawn together after a traumatic bank robbery leaves Wendy wary of people. Danny was already wary of people, he's bullied by kids in town, and his family life isn't anything to write home about.
The bulk of the action in Wild Spirits takes place a few years after Danny and Wendy meet. Wendy is married to a policeman named Kyle, and Danny is collecting cans and doing odd jobs to avoid his horrible home life. They come together to help care for wounded wild life, and in turn, care for each other.
I learned so much about animals through this book, as Wendy cares from everything from lynxes to llamas. Caring for wounded animals gives Wendy's life purpose, and I have to admire the sacrifices that Wendy and her husband make in order to do so. The animals are often a humorous element in the book, as several of them have their own distinct personalities!
Wendy's life is a happy one until those bank robbers make a reappearance. Still, even after that, Wendy refuses to become a prisoner in her own home. She's scared, but she goes on with her life. Wendy is a strong young woman, and throughout the course of the book, Danny finds his own strength.
My only issue with this book is that the ending was lacking the tension I had been hoping for. Other than that, I thought this book was a wonderful, quick read. If you're an animal lover looking for something a bit different to read, or are looking for a wonderful book for your children to read, I highly recommend Wild Spirits!
I'm giving away a copy of Wild Spirits, please enter below! US & Canada only, contest closes on August 30th.
Seeing as I'm currently not bringing in much in the way of income, sometimes I feel guilty on the money that my husband and I spend on furthering my writing career. I'm lucky that I'm married to someone that believes in my abilities without question, and that buoys me on those days I'm feeling low.
Since I've left work, we've spent money on smaller items like books and subscriptions to magazines that will help my craft and I joined SCBWI, but there have been larger expenses, mainly my iMac. I'm not going to lie-I've been wanting to go the Mac route for years and I was thrilled that we were finally at a place where we could afford to do it. That said, I did consider the Mac to be a business expense. I spend several hours a day on my computer, and the Mac has a screen a LOT larger than my laptop. There is also Mac only writing software (I'm currently trying out Scrivener), and frankly, for me-it just makes life as a writer that much easier.
We're also pondering if we can afford for me to attend an SCBWI conference next year, either in New York or LA. This isn't going to be cheap, so while I feel a bit guilty for spending the money, my husband tells me that if I feel that if it will help me improve as a writer, and we can afford it, why shouldn't I go?
Again, I know I'm lucky, and I guess I see the money I'm spending as an investment towards my (hopeful) future career. I'm not going overboard in my spending, mainly because I know that the odds of me getting a one in a million large advance for my first novel are actually higher than one in a million. I'm spending what I hope to maybe, someday get back.
Writers: how are you investing in your future writing career?
An accident that should end in tragedy instead gives seventeen-year-old Jamie Baker a slew of uncontrollable superhuman abilities. To keep her secret safe Jamie socially exiles herself, earning the title of Rocklin High's resident ice queen. But during a supercharged encounter with star quarterback Ryan Miller she literally kisses anonymity goodbye. Now the annoyingly irresistible Ryan will stop at nothing to melt the heart of the ice queen and find out what makes her so special. Unfortunately, Ryan is not the only person on to her secret. Will Jamie learn to contain her unstable powers before being discovered by the media or turned into a government lab rat? More importantly, can she throw Ryan Miller off her trail before falling in love with him? (Amazon)
Marketing can be a huge factor in getting me to read a book. I could pretend otherwise, but it wouldn't be true. I have bought books because I've read positive reviews, or in the case of Being Jamie Baker, it was the book trailer that made me want to read the book. Seriously-that has to be the best book trailer ever. That said, I have to have a general liking of the story to want to read the book, and that was the case with Being Jamie Baker.
Jamie is a very relatable protagonist. She fears getting close to anyone at her new school in California, because the aftermath of her accident made her life at her old school miserable. She'd rather be alone than hurt anyone with her powers. She misses her pre-accident life, but she really doesn't care what she thinks of her-which is an admirable trait in anyone, but especially a teenager. When one of the most popular guys in school asks her out, Jamie laughs at him, which garners her the nickname the Ice Queen.
It's a bet that initially brings It Boy Ryan Miller into focus. I had a hard time with Ryan. Just when I'd start to like him, he'd say something (or sometimes Jamie would overhear something with her super hearing) that made him seem like a jocky jerk. At first he seems too concerned with what his friends think, and their feelings taint his feelings for Jamie-at first. He does redeem himself by the end of the book.
Jamie is feisty-and I love that about her. Unfortunately, her feisty nature and bad temper gets her into situations where she's putting others in danger-Ryan is usually the one most in danger because of the range of feelings he brings out in Jamie-from lust to hatred.
My only real beef with this book was that Ryan and Jamie's relationship felt a bit repetitive at times. They'd get close, he'd do something to upset her, they'd make up, etc. I guess it was real in terms of young love, but it did get on my nerves just a bit.
Overall, I would recommend Being Jamie Baker. It's a fun, easy read, perfect for those last lingering days of summer.
I haven't participated in the Hop or Follow Friday for a few weeks, so I figured I'd jump in once again. The Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy-for-Books.com & Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee.
If you're stopping by for the first time, welcome! I hope you take a look around and like what you see. I review books (mostly YA), talk about the writing process, talk a bit about my personal life and assorted miscellany. If you are stopping by for the first time, please comment so I can check out your blog!
Jennifer is doing something different for the Blog Hop now, and is asking questions. This week's:
How many books do you have on your 'to be read shelf’?
I wish it was just one shelf. Right now, it's three. I think I have somewhere near 100 books on those shelves. I can't remember a time when I had less than twenty books on my to be read shelf, as my book buying compulsion can be traced back to childhood!
I was lucky enough to win a Linger tank-top during the Linger Twitter party. It arrived yesterday, and there is no way this tank top is going to fit anywhere on my body. Maybe as a leg warmer? I'd thought I was getting a medium (which I could have maybe worn) but I got a small, and it seems like a juniors small at that-which is appropriate since Linger is a YA book.
So, rather than relegate this tank top to a drawer, I thought I'd host a contest. This contest couldn't be easier. You don't have to be a follower. The contest is open internationally, no restrictions (age or otherwise), and no extra entries necessary. Just fill out the form.
This is a quick contest: It closes Tuesday, August 17th at midnight, EST.
Seventeen-year-old Ginny had always admired her aunt Peg, a free-spirited artist who often disappeared for months, most recently to Europe. Now Aunt Peg has died of brain cancer, and in a characteristically cryptic gesture made before her death, she arranged for her niece to receive a plane ticket to London, where Ginny will begin a series of adventures. Guided by Peg's friends and the instructions in each of 13 letters her aunt wrote, Ginny sets off across Europe. Staying with Peg's contacts or in hostels, Ginny begins to peel away some of the mythic layers surrounding her aunt, even as she falls into thrilling escapades and a blossoming romance. Johnson's plot stretches plausibility. Would Ginny's practical mother really have agreed to such a solo, undefined journey? But readers will probably overlook any improbabilities and willingly accompany Ginny through her sensitive, authentically portrayed experiences--uncomfortable, lonely, giddy, and life changing--as she pieces together family mysteries and discovers herself.
I have to say that I love the premise of this book. I love the air of mystery and the tasks that Ginny has to do in order to open the next envelope. Ginny meets interesting people and has wonderful, sometimes whimsical adventures as each envelope leads her towards a new location.
That said, I had some issues with this book. The first being the total lack of character development. We really know nothing about Ginny except that her aunt is dead, she's a teenager, and she's from New Jersey. There's only a sentence or two about her parents, and no mention about what they think about her adventure. My parents let me do a lot when I was a teenager, but I still don't think they would have let me jaunt off to Europe without staying in close contact-even if that meant sending a postcard home every few days.
Ginny seemed so bland she was almost like a protagonist in a Choose Your Own Adventure book (which I loved, by the way), in that they're not really a character at all, and you're supposed to imagine yourself in their place. The people she meets along the way are a lot more interesting than she is, and you can't help but wish that you'd tag along with them instead of Ginny.
Another issue was the amount of money Ginny had to take with her. It was pretty unbelievable-especially coming to Europe as an American, everything is insanely expensive-even if you are lucky enough to have people to stay with occasionally.
I did enjoy the book overall, especially for the European travel descriptions. I would recommend it, but I had to point out the issues I had with it.
I'll be posting less than usual this week because my husband is still on vacation, we've been busy and I haven't had the time to schedule posts ahead the way I usually do.
Also, my regular computer has been acting slightly wonky, and if you remember my post about computer crashes, you'll know how that scares me. So, after crunching the numbers and talking it over, my husband and I bought a new computer for me.
So, most of my free time is being used to figure out the new Mac interface and getting the computer set up. I will be back to my normal posting schedule next week!