Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blog Hop & Follow Friday (2)

Hi everyone! This has been a really slow week for me blogwise because I've been super busy with my internship and paying job. Bleh. But the goodnews is I got in a lot of reading time on my train ride to my internship, so I should have -two- reviews ready very soon. To shake things up a little, one of them will be about a manga series that has a strong hold on my heart. ;D

Book Blogger Hop

What book are you currently reading?

Right now I'm in the middle of Dracula and Lolita. I'm trying to fit in some classics before I go back to school in September. I've also started Siren, which I've heard some good buzz on. However, I'm not far enough in yet to give any kind of opinion.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review: Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock

“Benevolence is not your typical princess- and Princess Ben is not your typical fairy tale.

With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire... But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from foul tyranny?”
~Description taken from book jacket

I’d almost given up on the fairy tale genre, despite it being one of my favorites. I’ve gotten sick of authors who write so called ‘feminist’ protagonists, only to have them shed any semblance of individualism as soon as they meet their love interest. This, combined with the fact these princesses often don’t take any real part in the plot (think of My Fair Godmother) has left me jaded.

Then I had the privilege of reading Princess Ben, which is not only close to perfection in its own right, but succeeds in redeeming the entire genre. At first it seems that Princess Ben is going to fall into the same patterns I’m desperate to avoid. Ben’s parents are assassinated, leaving her to take formal lessons with the seemingly two-dimensional Queen Sophia. Ben demonstrates the same aversion to activities such as needlepoint and dancing as most other modern princesses. What sets Ben apart is that she is not simply ‘bad’ at these lessons, but willfully impertinent. Instead of being clumsy, she purposefully steps on her dance teacher’s shoelaces to trip him. Ben refuses to be broken, and chooses to speak her mind even if it means physical punishment. Yet, she doesn’t dwell on any of these hardships, noting that many of the castle workers stand behind her and she still has a comfortable place to sleep at night.

What truly makes Ben delightful in my mind, however, is her complete apathy towards romance. She doesn’t fantasize over ‘true love’ like other girls, and even derides another character at one point for doing so. Even when she meets Prince Florian, Ben is practical and thinks his poor attitude is mort important than his chiseled looks.

In short, Ben is an immature brat, brilliant and simply one of the most enchanting narrators I’ve ever come across. Yet, the excellence does not stop at Ben’s own character. Since the novel is written in the first person, the other characters develop as she does. For instance, at the start of the novel Queen Sophie is the generic wicked stepmother, possessing no real emotion. But this is just how Ben perceives her. By the end, Ben realizes that Sophie, never having children herself, was simply trying to prepare Ben for life as a ruler in the only way she knew how.

The only fault I found in this book was near the end when the author was trying to stress how Ben developed. It is clear from her behavior and acceptance of her duties that Ben has grown a great deal, but some passages literally spell it out for the reader. This was condescending to the reader and entirely unnecessary, and the only reason I’m not giving the book a perfect score.

Grade: 4.5/5

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blog Hop & Follow Friday (1)

Hi everyone! Today's Friday and there are two memes that I'll be participating in! Once is called 'Follow Friday' which is hosted over at Parajunkee's View. It's basically one big compilation of different book blogs, and I've found a few great ones through it. You can click on the picture below to check it out!

There's also another meme that I'll be starting to participate in, called Blog Hop! It's hosted by Crazy for Books, and is quite similar. You can click on the picture to find a huge list of book blogs, but there's also a different question to answer every week!

Book Blogger Hop


I'm already really excited for City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare! I *OMG LOVED* the Immortal Instruments and can't wait to read more about Clary and Jace. I'm also looking forward to Clockwork Angel, which is supposed to take place in the same universe, but it won't be the same.

As for books that have already been released, I want to get a copy of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley. Once I finish it I'll have read every major work she's written and therefore posess English Major Bragging Rights!

Can't wait to hear what other people are looking forward to! : )

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chance to Win Clockwork Angel

So if you're like me and love the Immortal Instruments, you're desperately waiting for Clockwork Angel to be released. Well, good news! Brent and Emily over at 'The Naughty Book Kitties" is giving away an ARC of it! The contest is only open until this Friday, so you should enter right away by clicking the link here.

Good luck everyone!

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

“Aerin Renning is a scarred fugitive, Dane Madousin a rebellious son of privilege. On the surface, they have nothing in common. But the two most competitive freshmen at Academy 7 share an undiscovered bond. Both harbor a dangerous secret that threatens their own destruction. And while their safety depends on their staying apart, the two are inexplicably drawn to each other. Even as unknown forces conspire to separate them, their competition turns to friendship, and their friendship to romance. Now not only their lives—but their hearts—are at stake. To survive, the two must unite all their knowledge, skills, and gifts to uncover a secret bigger than either could have imagined. A secret as big as the entire universe...”

~Description taken from Goodreads

I’m going to start off by saying that I’m prejudiced against sci-fi novels. I don’t really know why, considering I’ve never had a bad experience with one. I guess I just don’t like the “idea” of them. In any case, if I had known Academy 7 was sci-fi I would have never picked it up. I’m glad I didn’t, because it really was a pleasure reading it.

Academy 7 is split between the perspectives of Aerin and Dane, two incredibly intelligent students who come from two very different backgrounds. Aerin is an escapee slave from the planet Vizhan and must hide her past in order to keep her place at the academy. As a reader I immediately bonded with her and couldn’t wait for the passages with her narrative to come up.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I felt the same connection with Dane. Although the two characters are represented equally in word count, the emotional impact behind them is not at all the same. You find out early on that Dane has suffered abuse from his father, but the author never allows you to truly empathize with him. It’s like there’s a wall between the reader and Dane that just doesn’t exist for Aerin. Given how easy it is to care for Aerin, I think it might just be that the author is inexperienced in fleshing out male characters.

The novel itself is fast moving -I plowed through it in a couple of hours- and the plot itself is built well. The information how Aerein and Dane are connected through their parents is revealed at an appropriate rate, although I was never truly anxious to read more. Academy 7 is a quick, pleasant read and I’d recommend it to someone who’s looking for some light summer reading.
Grade: 3/5

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

So I found another meme to do while I'm finishing up my next book review! : ) This one is called 'in my mailbox' and is hosted by The Story Siren. I think it's a fun idea to list books as I get them (either from the library or the bookstore) so I'll be doing it from now on.

From the Library:

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Hush by Donna Jo Napoli
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Maddigan's Fantasia by Margaret Mahy

Friday, July 9, 2010

Follow Friday

I found this great meme over at Parajunkee's view! Basically, every Friday you can go to her blog to find links to a bunch of different book blogs. This is the first week I'm doing it so I'm pretty excited! You can find my name on number 79, if you're curious. : )

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

“What is Un Lun Dun? It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.”

~Description taken from GoodReads

Un Lun Dun is essentially split into two parts; the first hundred pages which follow the a girl named Zanna, and the next three hundred which center around her friend, Deeba. In Zanna’s narrative the two girls travel to UnLondon for the first time, experiencing a fantastic new world unlike anything they’d ever seen.

If this sounds like the start of one gigantic cliché, that’s because it is. The thing is, though, China Mieville realizes this and turns his work into one part fantasy another part satire. He makes fun of enormously overdone plot devices such as prophecies and the ‘one person who must destroy the super evil antagonist’. The talking book of prophesies in UnLondon claims that Zanna is the ‘shwazzy’ or ‘chosen one’, but she loses her memory before the book is even half way done. This leaves Deeba, which the book originally deemed ‘the funny sidekick’ to take over and save UnLondon from the Smog.

Overall, it took me a while to get into Un Lun Dun. Zanna’s narrative was burdened by too many explanations and descriptions with not enough focus on the plot. There were also far too many characters introduced too quickly and then dropped for long periods, making it hard to figure out who the author was talking about at some points. However, by the second half of the novel the events did pick up and it became a lot easier to follow. I enjoyed Deeba’s ‘takeover’ as protagonist and how Mieville poked fun at the fantasy genre while still paying an excellent tribute to it.


Monday, July 5, 2010


I've been looking around at tons and tons of other book blogs for the past couple of weeks, trying to gather some inspiration. In my search I saw that it's really common for bloggers to give away ARCs that they've collected and sometimes even brand new books. But two of the contests that I've looked up really stand out! I'll be writing about them both here, so read on if you love free books as much as I do.

Paranormal Five Give Away
Hosted by The Undercover Book Lover

If you're lucky enough to win this contest you'll receive FIVE paranormal books! Awesome, right? Especially because some of them don't come out for another two months. Here's the list:

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller
Halo - Alexandra Adornetto
Pegasus - Robin McKinley

But don't think you'll win just books. You'll also get GUM! So click on the link which I'll post again here and go enter!

Autographed Copies of Linger & Shiver
Hosted by Parajunkee's View

I read Shiver earlier this year and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I got it out of my library so my rereading abilities are somewhat limited. This is especially sad because the sequel Linger is coming out in a couple of weeks and I'd like to peruse Shiver again. Woe is me.

BUT WAIT. Parajunkee is offering a contest where you can win new copies of both Shiver and Linger, both of which are autographed by Maggie Stiefvater! If you think this is too good to be true go check out her blog yourself.

Books I've Read in 2010

My goal for this blog is to post at least two reviews a week (though it'd be nice if I could do three). However, I realize that if I -only- post reviews then I'll eventually get bored and give it up. So, after browsing around some other book blogs and getting ideas I've decided to make a plain record of books I've read this year. : )

I don't have a set number of books I'm trying to read because I think it's hard to give each book the same value. But, I have written down the title and author of each book I've read in a notebook since I was in fifth grade. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to write them down after I finish a huge tome like Bleak House! So, I figure why not share it here?

I'll be including books, plays and novellas that I haven't read before on this list. Although I love graphic novels and manga, I consider them to be a different experience that merits a separate category.

2010 so far
1. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
2. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
4. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
5. Airman by Eoin Colfer
6. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
7. Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki
8. Shanghai by Yokomitsu Riichi
9. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
10. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
11. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
12. The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux
13. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
14. Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni
15. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
16. Middlemarch by George Elliot
17. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
18. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
19. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
20. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
21. Breath by Donna Jo Napoli
22. Austenland by Shannon Hale
23. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
24. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
25. Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
26. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
27. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
28. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
29. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
30. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
31. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

“For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.”

~Description taken from GoodReads

As this is my first review, I figure I have to start on the right track and be honest: The reason I chose to read this book is because of the really, really pretty cover. Shirtless male angel? Yes, please! For the record, I insist that this decision was not based on lack of taste, but because my neglected hormones were rebelling against my attendance of a women’s college.

The cover combined with the description of the love interest Patch made me believe that this would be a quick, fun, romantic novel perfect for the summer months. Unfortunately, this was not entirely the case. Hush, Hush is definitely a quick read, but it isn’t the escapist paranormal romance I was looking for. This is because Patch simply isn’t likable.

Many times in the romance genre the leading male seems abrasive at the start of the novel only to have his true character shine later on. Think of how Mr. Darcy called Elizabeth unattractive and how Edward Cullen spent several months scowling at Bella. However, if you ask any teenage girl which literary hero she’d most like to go on a date with she’s sure to name one of the two. The problem with Patch is, he never really ‘shines’. He’s a manipulative jerk at the start of the novel, shown best in a scene where he taunts Nora in front of their entire biology class, and never stops pushing Nora around. You could argue that Becca Fitzpatrick was trying to make Patch stand out from the crowd of generic male heroes by making him a bit ‘rough around the edges’, but his behavior is so rude and sexist I never lost the urge to beat him across the head, making it impossible to fall for him.

While the romance of the novel was a disappointment, I did enjoy it as a whole. The author clearly has a strong point when it comes to writing suspense- the scenes with the man in the ski mask and when Nora finds out that one of her friends might be a murderer are terrifying, to say the least. And although the pacing was a bit off throughout most of the book (though, I might be biased because this was the section that focuses the most on the romance with Patch), the last hundred pages worked well enough to make me anxious for the sequel Crescendo.

Grade: 2.5/5