Monthly Archives: May 2013

Stacking the Shelves (4)

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Three ARC’s this week!

Right of Way — Lauren Barnholdt

Viral Nation — Shaunta Grimes

Blue Hearts of Mars — Nicole Grotepas

Fluffy contemporary romance, post-apocalyptic story WITH A DOG OH GOD, and Falling in love with ANDROIDS?! I was sold on all of these and so excited to get them. I’ve finished RIGHT OF WAY already and will post a review soon!

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I’m Not Her — Janet Gurtler

Grabbed this for free in the iBooks store… not sure when I’ll get around to it because I go through long periods of not wanting to read on my kindle… but it was free and sounds really good.

That’s all for this week. Not bad, and thankfully I didn’t spend ANY money!

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

INK

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Title: Ink

Author: Amanda Sun

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: INK IS IN THEIR BLOOD. 
On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building. 

When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him…and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life. 

Somehow Tomo is connected to the Kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan-and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

Review: First… a few things I feel that you must know about me to fully understand how reading this book was for me… and possibly where my review is coming from.

I LIVE IN Japan. I have lived here for over 5 years. I came as a student, stars in my eyes, big dreams, and a scrap of Japanese on my tongue. I lived with a host family in Tokyo and Japan bitch-slapped me in the face. I struggled through homesickness and culture shock (real, deep down culture shock that makes you not want to leave the house because the idea of having to use Japanese is just crushing… not ‘oh wow, in Japan they do this funny thing, that’s strange’). I came back after I graduated to work and lived 45 minutes outside of Tokyo in Saitama, and then got married in 2011 and moved back to Tokyo before my husband’s job transferred us to Ibaraki and now I live in a little town by the ocean in the countryside. 

I’m no ‘Japan’ expert, nor do I think I’m a special snowflake and that ‘My Japan’ trumps all other experiences in Japan… but I do know what it’s like to be a foreigner. A gaijin. And I know how fucking annoying it is when no matter how hard you try to fit in you still get treated like a child when it comes to using chopsticks or eating Japanese food. And the way that Katie was portrayed at times really bothered me. I just felt like she was perpetuating the foreigner stereotype. Eating peanut butter sandwiches and not being able to use chopsticks? Come on. Give her a little credit. I think if she would have struggled with some of the more realistic things that foreigners struggle with (y’all don’t want to stand behind me at the bank, I always have to get help and it’s embarrassing  Don’t even ASK about my post office stories) that would have added a bit more depth to both the story and the character.

SO. From the start I knew that this book and I were going to either click or rub each other the wrong way. I was pleasantly surprised that I DID enjoy the story, and the paranormal elements were very interesting. I had a bit of a problem with the Kami being well know before WWII because… that’s not THAT long ago. I still have old men who make comments about WWII, so I feel that if the Kami had been running around there WOULD be people who remembered them. That might have worked better for me if they had slowly started going into hiding once Japan had opened to the west. Kami running around in the open, public knowledge until the crazies with the blond hair and big noses showing up? That sounds more plausible.

Tomohiro. I am a sucker for the bad boys of anime. And I kept picturing him as every douche bag anti-hero from every anime I ever watched growing up. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. At one point I even though ‘wow, I wish I had a Japanese boyfriend…’ and then laughed my ass off and told my husband and he was like ‘omg you are so dumb, but it’s too bad you didn’t know me during my yankee days’. ::swoon:: 

Katie… she really got on my nerves. I wanted to sympathize with her. Her mother just died and she had nowhere to go so she ends up on the other side of the world. But I felt like she had adjusted to not only life in Japan too quickly… but the death of her mother as well. Sometimes I just forgot about it. And I felt that she had too. And instead of mourning her mother she turned into a stalker. Because yes, she was stalking Tomohiro and it was ODD. And all of her ‘I can’t live without him/we are connected forever’ stuff made me think of Bella Swan and that is NEVER a character I want to be reading about.

I felt that a lot of the descriptions of Japan were spot on, especially the cherry blossom season portion. Having just gone through the craze of it myself a month ago… I can relate. Everyone is OBSESSED with them. There were times though that I wanted to shake the book and scream JUST USE THE PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE ENGLISH EQUIVALENT NOT THE STUPID JAPANESE SHORTHAND FOR SOMETHING ENGLISH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Like whenever Katie would go eat ice cream and it was called ‘ice’. I fucking HATE it when my perfectly fluent English speaking friends call it ice. NO. IT IS NOT ICE. Little things like that just took me out of the story and made me want to smack something. Again, I was nit-picking, but I have never in my life said ‘Imma go get some vanilla ice’ (well… that’s probably because I’m lactose intollerant but… YOU GET MY POINT).

And I guess that brings me to the whole language problem. I had a major issue with the idea of them all speaking in Japanese all of the time. I just didn’t see the point. Think about it… it’s a book written in English, but they’re speaking in Japanese, so basically it’s a translation. And if it had honestly been a translation of a Japanese book into English I just… it makes my brain hurt. I was trying to translate their dialogue as I read, from English to Japanese and there is just NO WAY that Katie was THAT fluent. I understand that she had studied before going to Japan and was attending Japanese cram school and speaking Japanese in school but… I just don’t buy it. From my own experience and from seeing my own friends I know that it takes time and that she would have been struggling A LOT more. 

But fine, whatever, so she’s a linguistic genius and is speaking fluent Japanese… then why the hell is she dropping in ACTUAL UNTRANSLATED JAPANESE?! That was baffling. And it felt like overkill. If I didn’t know what those parts said without looking at the extensive glossary (which must be a bitch to flip to on an e-reader) I would have just been done. I don’t see the point for having any of the spoken stuff. Or why Katie would refer to the entrance way as the genkan but then call the shinkansen the bullet train. There are SO many Japanese words that have made their way into the English lexicon that these seemed like incredibly random choices that had no real meaning. The only part where keeping in Japanese words makes sense is during times where you can’t use an English word… like with the kendo and tea ceremony terms. 

I would have liked to have seen Katie learn new words and have the reader learn them along with her. Or have it clear when they are speaking Japanese and English. We are left to assume and in my head, to save my brain, anytime there was Japanese that was the ONLY time Japanese was being spoken. It’s the only way it worked for me.

And my BIGGEST problem with the ENTIRE thing was the use of the word gaijin. For many people this word is not offensive, but for others it is. I personally use it when referring to myself ONLY when I’m with a closed group of friends who also use the word. Some might argue that this is not the same as a racial slur, but I have seen it used as such. Gaijin means outsider and the polite way to refer to a foreigner is gai-koku-jin. When Katie’s teacher referred to her as a gaijin I SCREAMED. If a stranger, or a boss/manager/coworker refers to me as a gaijin I find it HIGHLY offensive and it REALLY bothered me that it was used in such a way in this book. Anytime anyone writes about a foreign country for an audience not familiar with that country they are TEACHING about that foreign country and anyone unfamiliar with this term was basically taught that it’s an okay thing to call a foreigner in Japan and IT IS NOT.

Overall, like I said, I did enjoy the book. It kept me engaged, it made me feel a wide variety of emotions, and I do want to see what happens in the next book. The art in the book was also a nice touch, and that added points to my overall rating.

So my word of advice… read it and picture it like an anime.

 

TOP TEN FAVORITE COVERS OF BOOKS THAT I’VE READ

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one of my favorite books and I originally was drawn to it because of the cover. It’s dark and murky, unfocused and terrifying. I actually love all the covers from this series, but this is my favorite, and I’ve actually had a photo from the cover-shoot as my desktop background for the past year.

Days of Blood and Starlight is another favorite. I love that it stuck to the theme of dark eyes surrounded by bright, colorful, sinister masks. It’s a toss up between this and the first cover, but I like the pop of pink over the blue feathers, so that’s why I picked this cover.

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The entire ‘Last Survivors’ Series has amazing covers, and I’m a HUGE sucker for moon images, but the cover of The Dead & The Gone is my favorite because I feel that it properly shows the horror of what was happening in these books. I love how huge the moon looks, and the sick green color makes it  incredibly eerie.

Golden has quickly cemented a permanent place in my heart since I read it a few weeks ago and the cover is freaking AMAZING. If you’ve seen a physical copy (I’ve only seen images, but I’m dying to get my hands on one) it’s accented IN GOLD on the spine and under the jacket. Now, I actually HATE gold (I only wear silver) so this is kinda a big deal for me…

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Not A Drop to Drink has such a simple cover, but if you take in the details it really paints a picture of the story. I LOVE the huge font coming up over the hill, it just makes me feel anxious that someone is coming for the pond… someone evil… I also really like how you can see Lynn on the top of the house.

Under the Never Sky is another favorite that I picked up because I loved the cover so much. The colors are beautiful, the girl looks strong, and what is that crazy power radiating out behind her?! I had to know.

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Anna Dressed in Blood is one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read (and I mean horror-wise, not theme), and I usually avoid horror because I am STILL unable to sleep well if I think about the first (and ONLY) episode of of Supernatural that I ever watched (burning mom on the ceiling D: ). The cover of this was just so deliciously beautifully creepy that I couldn’t resist checking it out tho. (I had to read it with the lights on).

Fragments (and the Partial) series is such a weird series for me because I am hopplessly in love with Samm, so when he showed up (and his freaking BACK no less… his sexy back…) I kinda flipped my shit and yes. I love this cover. Because of Samm’s back. Hmmm… (okay the rest of it is great too. The broken city. The font rising up out of the water… but… Samm…)

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Some of you might wonder why I put Hana Walker’s Half Life 2:46 on here because this cover isn’t really beautiful… but it’s fucking creative! I know the author (and this book is AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING! YOU READ IT NOWWWWWWW) and I know how he made the cover (his kid’s felt markers!). The cover reflects a lot about the story, and that’s what I love about it. Typewriter font for the journalism that failed Japan after the March 11th earthquake, nuclear hazard symbols in the bike tires for the nuclear disaster AND Hana’s broken bike. And if you haven’t figured out that the red sun is from the Japanese flag by now… well get out (no, just joking). This cover is perfect for this book.

Timepiece was not a favorite book (or part of a favorite series) but the covers for the Hourglass novels with the gravity defying girls (and hair) are really just… pretty. And I like pretty.

Do you see any covers that you loved?! What are your favorites?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

CODA

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Title: Coda

Author: Emma Trevayne

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.

Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?

Review: Okay wow. This book had me from the synopsis. Music is a drug. Music is a drug that KILLS you. 

Now, I used to be HUGE into the punk/emo scene back in the early 2000’s. I went to ‘shows’ and moshed in moshpits and loved screamo. I was a ‘your music sucks’ kid. I hated anything that wasn’t ‘my’ music. That all changed when I discovered Japanese pop music and now… I listen to all kinds of stuff. My iTunes is a mix of Japanese, all the scene stuff that used to be my religion, and now even a scattering of rap and hip-hop. I even have a tiny bit of Korean hip-pop.

Music isn’t as integeral to my life as it used to be… but I do get excited about new stuff by my favorite artists (ONLY TWO MORE DAYS UNTIL NEW THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS!!!), and I listen to music a lot. So this book really drew me in and I was able to be properly horrified by it.

This is a perfect dystopian with a fresh twist on how the ‘evil Corp’ controls the citizens. It takes place in a future NYC where we sadly don’t learn much about the war that forced the people into this dystopian society (this was really the only thing that could have bumped my rating down, but the rich prose saved it). I had the feeling that they were kinda the ‘last people on earth’ but not really… just trapped on Long Island. Apparently after the war everyone went there, and medicine was scarce, so they used music to help people get through the pain. One thing lead to another and music was being encoded so it was not only addictive, but it eventually ate through your brain and killed you.

The society had a very dark, edgy feel to it and I imagined the characters to all be a mix of cyber-punks (I read some reviews that referred to them as goths, but the love of neon colors kinda squashed that image for me). I’m not sure if ‘ravers’ are still a thing, but that’s what I pictured these clubs (night clubs where citizens could go and get their fix every night when they weren’t plugging in to ‘track’ at home) to be like… giant raves. 

I loved the characters in this book. The narrators was male, which is very rare in YA (and another thing that draws me towards certain books. I LOVE me a male protagonist). He had a family to take care of, a girl he loved, a group of loyal friends, and… his voice. Which he used to go against the Corp. As any musician should be able to do, he was able to start not only a riot, but a revolution. 

The writing in this is heavy, and beautiful, and a bit slow at times. It took me a little longer than normal to get through this book, but I didn’t mind too much because I was able to savor it. It took some twists and turns that I did not expect, and there were a few emotionally crushing scenes. But everything lead to a very well done conclusion and I cannot wait for the next book.

And I am SO excited for the next book. When I looked up the synopsis on Goodreads I was surprised to see that it’s not a direct sequel  but just a continuation. It’s set in the future, and told from the POV of the narrator’s little sister. Again, a different move than most YA dystopian, but I think it was a smart one. I for one am getting a bit sick of all the trilogies and having to wait years between cliffhangers. 

Anyway, I LOVED this book and highly recommend it so GO READ IT NOW.

 

Stacking the Shelves (3)

I have a Japanese lesson for us all today. Read?

積ん読 [つんどく: TSUNDOKU]  buying books and not reading them.

Because seriously. SERIOUSLY. How did I end up with NINE new books this week? Granted I DID only spend $6 total on them… but OMG SELF WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

Here’s what I stacked my (virtual) shelves with this week…

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ARCs that I received this week!

Not a Drop to Drink – Mindy McGinnis

The Chaos of Stars – Kiersten White

The Summer I Became a Nerd – Leah Rae Miller

Ink – Amanda Sun

Outcast – Adrienne Kress

I was ECSTATIC to receive NOT A DROP TO DRINK and THE CHAOS OF STARS. Thank you thank you THANK YOU HARPER TEEN. I LOVED THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD (check out my review here!) and I’m very interested in INK. I have thoughts on that already and I’m curious to see what my thoughts are after reading it. OUTCAST was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m already hearing good things about it.

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Purchased (all on sale in the kindle store)

Smart Girls Get What They Want – Sarah Strohmeyer

What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know – Sonya Sones

The Madman’s Daughter – Megan Shepherd

Harken – Kaleb Nation

These were ALL ON SALE (hear that self?! ALL ON SALE!) I made a promise to myself back in March that I could only buy ebooks that are ON SALE. Well, this didn’t go so well because I was like ‘SAVE A DOLLAR?! OKAY BUY NOW!’ so now I’m only allowed to buy books that are $1.99 or less. UNLESS it’s like some book that I’ve been DYING FOREVER AND EVER to read. These are all books that I WANT to read and would totally pick up for .99 at a used bookstore. So that’s the logic I’m working with. If I don’t get around to them for awhile well… that’s okay. But I DO want to read them.

So yeah. My strange addiction. What did you guys stack your selves with this week?

ALSO BEFORE YOU GO!  I have some awesome news that I’m going to reveal soon but… for now I would like to announce that I’m going to be hosting my FIRST GIVEAWAY VERY SOON!!! So check back through the next week or follow me on twitter @innocencewalker to keep updated!

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Biking around Saint Paul

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During out trip to Saint Paul my husband was busy for most of the time, but at night we were able to go out for dinner and explore the area. We went to a few parks and down along the Mississippi river (which was a 5 minute walk from our hotel).

While walking around we kept seeing these green bikes (pictured above) EVERYWHERE. There was a little machine next to the set of them (about 20 bikes) and you could rent the bike for the day. It cost like $6 to rent it and then an additional $1 for each 30 mins or so. Since we ride our bikes A LOT back home, he thought this would be really fun and rented us two bikes.

The way it worked was you used your credit or debit card in the machine and got a code that you used to unlock the bike. Then you could return the bike to ANY other station in the area and once it was locked it calculated your time and charged you accordingly. We decided to use them for an hour and rode around looking for a supermarket (we wanted to buy some beer, but everything near us was closed and the bars were expensive). We found a gas station (which my husband LOVED) and got some snacks before riding back over the river.

Originally I was hesitant to use them because I’m so used to MY bike, and I had a hard time getting use to THAT, but he was feeling adventurous and convinced me to do it. I was also worried about getting lost, but in the end I’m really glad that he convinced me. I had a lot of fun.

Red Balloon Bookshop

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During my trip to the USA I spent three days in Michigan and then three days in Saint Paul, Minnesota. While in Saint Paul my husband was presenting his research at an international conference, so I had some free time in the afternoon to do whatever I wanted. What I wanted to do was go to a bookstore…

So I googled the closest Barnes & Nobles and that was… a good 25 minutes away by car. Being carless I wasn’t looking forward to shelling out $30 for a taxi. So I googled a bit more and found… The Red Balloon Bookshop. It was only 8 minutes by taxi from the hotel. So I thought I’d give it a try. 

This place is adorable you guys. It looks like a house from the outside and there’s a friendly, warm, book-loving atmosphere inside. I went at opening time and there were a bunch of moms and small children there for story time. I was a bit worried that it was going to mainly be children’s books, but there was an entire wall dedicated to Young Adult. And there were plenty of new releases to choose from. I spent at least an hour combing over the selection before settling on three books (at that point I’d already bought so many books in Michigan that I was worried about my suitcase’s weight…). I had a nice chat with the booksellers and reminisced about my own bookselling days. 

I could have probably kicked back and read for a bit while I was there, but I wanted to head back to the hotel to meet my husband for lunch, so I took a taxi back and added my books to my pile.

When I got back to the hotel and put my books away I found an adorable bookmark tucked into one of my new books and I’ve been using it ever since. I don’t really have any bookmarks since I read most of my books on my kindle, so I was very pleased to find this.

If you’re ever in Saint Paul, MN drop by the Red Balloon!

 

The Summer I Became a Nerd

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Title: The Summer I Became a Nerd

Author: Leah Rae Miller

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl’s body isn’t just unknown, it’s anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

Review: I started this book yesterday afternoon and thought ‘I’ll just read 25% and then switch back to CODA’ (which I’m reading in paperback. Ever since I ended up with so many physical books, I’ve been double reading — physical books at home, ebooks for commuting/ work). Well I got to 10% and updated my goodreads, totally relating to the story, and around 40% I had to buy dinner. After dinner my husband fell asleep (he’s still fighting jet-lag) and I then stayed up until 11pm finishing the damn book.

Poor CODA.

Anyway, this book starts out with our protagonist, Maddie, re-living the defining, traumatic moment when she decided to hide her nerdy side (the comic book reading, sci-fi, action hero loving side). She’s in middle school and gets heckled for being a geek when she dresses up like her favorite comic book hero for a costume contest, and that’s that. Geeky side in the shadows and the quest to squash the memory and become the popular girl begins.

This. Is. So. Relatable. I remember when I was in 7th grade the original Star Wars movies were remastered and shown in theaters. My teacher took us to see A New Hope as a class trip because he was crazy about Star Wars. He had posters up in his room and talked about the originals with us. So we went and I remember LOVING it. But my classmates… not so much. The boys were running around force-choking each other while the girls were complaining about how ‘lame’ it was. So I sunk down in my seat and tried to look bored while I watched, mesmerized.

I didn’t talk about my obsession with Star Wars again until my Junior year of high school. I didn’t tell anyone about how I read all of the books, watched the movies every weekend, bought the Star Wars Encyclopedia, or about how I wanted to marry Luke Skywalker and have his Jedi babies. Nope. That stayed between me, my pen pals (this was pre-internet/twitter/livejournal/facebook), my mother, and the librarian. I didn’t ‘come out’ of the Star Wars closet until Episode One came out and it was suddenly ‘cool’ to like Star Wars. Instead, I hid behind my horseback riding, my cheerleading, and my band practice.

So reading this book was crazy nostalgic for me. I understood how Maddie felt, and how badly she wanted to keep that side of herself hidden.

Enter a crisis where she can’t get the last issue of her favorite comic and has to go down to the local comic book store. She hides behind big sunglasses and a hoodie, but it doesn’t work and the boy working there, your basic geek-chic boy with Chuck Taylors and thick black glasses, notices her. This starts Maddie’s summer of lies as she starts to enjoy her true side while trying to balance her public side.

I so get it.

From hiding in the back of the comic book store to dressing up as an elf and attending her first LARP (something that’s personally not for me, but again, I totally respect those who are into it), she slowly begins to realize that… nobody gives a shit.

While this book had me from the start, a few things that I didn’t quite understand, or maybe would have liked to have seen more of is how Maddie would most defiantly have been living this double life online. She mentions at one point that she has her forums and her ‘geek’ twitter handle, and that she downloads comics… I mean, that’s how I survived for a long time (only through letters and eventually livejournal) and I would have liked to have seen her do a bit more with that.

My favorite part of this book, aside from the personal nostalgia, was the characters. I thought they were all well done and they all had me smiling and laughing at different points through the book. Maddie is a bit self absorbed and cares WAY too much about what others think of her (ahem… guilty as charged here… it wasn’t until last year that I actually said SCREW IT and finally, finally convinced myself to not give a shit about what other’s think of me. I mean, I used to hide my love of YA books by acting like I had to be into them for my job at Borders. Now look at me, blogging away…), I like how she was able to eventually see through her own BS and even called herself out on it a few times. Logan was great, I loved his voice and I could just picture him… in Maddie’s eyes he was this cute confident guy who knows who he is and what he likes, but then through the eyes of his mother and friends I could see that he’s really a shy boy who doesn’t know how to deal with things like girls and emotions. Logan’s little sister, Vera, was adorable and anytime she was on the page I was smiling and laughing at her. Dan, Logan’s best friend, was honest and hilarious. And I loved Logan’s mom. She really gave Maddie someone to look up to.

In the end when Maddie comes out of her own nerd closet I loved the reactions that she got. They were so true to life. Especially in this day and age. I do feel a bit conflicted on the current ‘nerd girl’ trend though. I know that a lot of the time when ‘pretty’ or ‘popular’ girls start coming out about their own nerdy hobbies girls who have never been quite about it seem to be quite hostile towards them. I’ve heard lots of stories about sexy girls doing cosplay or playing video games getting crap for only doing it to get guys or become popular. I’ve always hated the ‘point your finger at the poser’ thing. When I started to talk about my love of anime and Star Wars and all of the other ‘nerdy’ things that I love I didn’t get any hostile reactions, but I did feel that sometimes people were judging how ‘authentic’ I was. Working at Borders was a test of that at times, especially since I was in charge of the Young Adult section and a lot of the goth girls would look down their noses at me when I’d rec’ books to them and gush about vampires and fae.

Honestly though, I think the message that this book gives is the best. Just be yourself, love what you love, and screw everyone else. And don’t judge others and how ‘authentic’ they are. You don’t know their life, and if they’ve been living a secret double life.

I received this eARC from Netgalley and wrote and honest review to say THANK YOU!

Monument 14

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Title: MONUMENT 14

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. 

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

Review: I LOVED THIS BOOK. I read it in my pre-travel OMG-I-HAVE-TO-FLY-ON-AN-AIRPLANE-FOR-TEN-HOURS-I-HOPE-I-DON’T-DIE anxiety. And you’d think that reading an ‘end of the world’ novel would have just pushed me further into my hysteria, but… it didn’t. This book sucked me in and distracted me for a full 24 hours pre-trip so I was able to cope.

Yes, I read this book in 24 hours. I did have to take a break to sleep, eat, pack, and go to work, but in all that in-between time I had my nose glued to my kindle as I read this.

I actually happened across this book by total chance. It was on sale in the kindle store (the only place and price I’m allowing myself to buy books these days) so I looked it up on Goodreads, saw that it was a disaster novel, and pushed the ‘BUY NOW’ button (my favorite button on the internet).

At exactly 3% into the story I was already updating my Goodreads page raving about it. THIS IS HOW YOU START AN APOCALYPSE. Kids on a school bus, giant pieces of ice falling from the sky. One plucky driver crashes her bus into the closes Mega-store and saves the kiddos. Well, only 14 of them. Must have been early on her bus route.

The story starts off with a bang and does NOT slow down. They go from super hail to the biggest earthquake in history, MEGAtsunamis, and a chemical weapons spill that I thought was pretty unique (for ya know, a chemical weapons spill).

Now, this was pretty much the only thing that bugged me… the earthquake. Maybe because I DID live through the ‘biggest earthquake in human history (two years ago on March 11th)’ I’m a bit sensitive to earthquake’s in fiction. This earthquake was bigger than the March 11th one, but they had NO aftershocks? And the building survived? I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know anything about earthquakes that happen because of MEGAtsunamis, but I do know that there are aftershocks (for years!) after huge quakes. So I tried not to let this bother me, but I did make a note about it.

Outside of the whole ‘world is ending’ portion of the novel, the heart of the story is how the kids survive inside of the giant Wal*Mart (that’s what I pictured anyway). The one adult goes to find help, leaving some teenagers in charge of a handful of Junior high and Elementary students. With only 14 kids we get A LOT of personality. And I loved these crazy kids. We had the adorable twins, the Spanish kid (who doesn’t speak English), a super religious boy (who kept telling everyone they were going to hell), a hilarious kid who’s basically lived the life of a 45 year old trucker (Max, he was my favorite. His stories about strippers and other random forms of ‘adult entertainment’ were hilarious). And then the ‘older’ kids; a couple of jocks, a popular girl, another girl who probably could have been the class president, a pre-teen who thought it was a great idea to try to dress sexy and try to get the older boys to hook up with her (her storyline was probably one of the most interesting and really knocked you in the gut, but man, there were times when I just wanted to scream at her and knock her down a few pegs), a boy scout, and then our narrator (who was kinda a nerd) and his computer-genius brother.

So all of these kids in this store… and things go from super fun (freedom and LOTS of candy), to Lord of the Flies. There are some tense moments and some truly terrifying moments. There are plays for power, moments were they have to choose who to trust, and even times when they’re just a bunch of stupid kids doing stupid things. And teens doing stupid teenager things.

I can’t say too much more without spoiling it, so just take my word for it and check out this book! The next one, MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE comes out later this month, and I just found out that there’s also a short story. Super excited to check them both out!

 

Stacking the Shelves (2)

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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For those of you who don’t know, I went to the USA last week and… ended up hauling THIRTEEN new books back to Japan with me. I hit up TWO bookstores on my trip (and would have gone to more if I’d had the time!) My grandmother purchased most of these books (as a belated birthday present) and I grabbed a few for myself… plus two eBooks… (If you count the image on the left you can see only 12 books, I didn’t include the Sarah Dessen book that I won since I posted it last week).

eBooks (purchased on sale!) include MONUMENT 14 and MOONGLASS

From my grandmother: THE WAY WE FALL, OPAL, CODA, IF I STAY, THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, THIS IS NOT A TEST, and WINTER GIRLS.

And for myself from myself (new releases!!!): UNBREAKABLE, THE PROGRAM, THE 5TH WAVE, and BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES.

Won: MILA 2.0 (I actually won Mila 2.0 back a few months ago, but my mother decided to read it when it arrived at my US address and then never handed it over until I got there…)

So that’s them! I kept freaking out that my suitcase was going to be over weight and hid a few in my husband’s suitcase (shhh, don’t tell him!) just incase. I mainly tried to keep to paperbacks since they’re heavy AND I don’t have that much space in my apartment to keep books. And since I wasn’t spending my OWN money for most of them I decided to give a few series that I’ve been wanting to read (but not sure I wanted to shell out the money for) a try. I’ve been on a major mix of disaster and contemporary, so that’s why you can see those two extremes. If I’d had the money/ luggage space I WOULD have grabbed ALLLLL the new releases, but it’s hard to justify that when I can get most of them on kindle for under $10 (and on sale if I’m lucky and wait a bit!)

I honestly don’t even know how to go about tackling this massive pile but so far I’ve read MILA 2.0 (check out my review here), MONUMENT 14 (five stars!!! It was SO good), and I’m 30% into MOONGLASS and on page 227 of THE 5TH WAVE.

But srsly, y’all don’t know how good it feels to have physical books again. It’s been TOO LONG!