Monthly Archives: August 2013

A ~ Z Book Survey

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Last week my husband went to China and he brought me back some goodies! Most women want knock-off Coach bags but I already have a really expensive Japanese brand purse so… I didn’t really need fake 😛 I didn’t really ask for anything specific, and this is what he brought back for me. I am IN LOVE with the bookmark. He was pretty proud of himself for getting it for me, which I thought was adorable. ‘Because you read so much!’ he said when he gave it to me. The pen he got because he COULD NOT leave China without getting SOMETHING panda… he wanted to get a stuffed panda, but we have so many Mamegoma’s that we don’t really need MORE stuffed things… hahaha.

So I’m glad he’s back, but he goes to Singapore next weekend and I wish SO BADLY that I could go with him. Unfortunately I have to work and the flight is long + expensive. Boo! But I AM on vacation this week (sucks that it doesn’t line up with EITHER of his trips!)

Anyway~ I’ve seen this cute book survey floating around the blog, started on The Perpetual Page-Turner, and I wanted to fill it out (I used to do these things ALL the time on livejournal!) so here we go~

Author you’ve read the most books from:

According to Goodreads it’s Joanna Campbell, but I read all those books in like, middle school. My most-read author post-middle school is Scott Westerfeld.

Best Sequel Ever:

I honestly don’t know. I don’t read a lot of books that have just a ‘sequel’ and most of the time I love entire series as a whole. Can’t think of anything for this!

Currently Reading:

Deadline – Mira Grant
Burn for Burn – Jenny Han &  Siobhan Vivian

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Coffee, Water or Vanilla Coke

E-reader or Physical Book?

Honestly, I’m 50-50 on this. I love my Kindle, but I also love physical copies. I usually read one book on my kindle (to read while commuting/ at work) and then one physical (at home). I did once publicly declare that I’d quit reading before I converted to ebooks and then I DID quit reading (buying book sin Japan is just too expensive). So I bought a kindle. I love it.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Logan from The Summer I Became a Nerd. I actually did date guys like him, hahaha!

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Feed by Mira Grant. I am TERRIFIED of zombies. Legit fear of my LIFE. But I make myself watch (some) zombie movies for ‘just incase’. I read this book because I was hoping it would help me face my fears. Instead it just reinforced that what I’m doing is RIGHT (zombie movies CAN save our lives in the future!). This book was amazing and a huge mindfuck and not as about zombies as I thought. I’m SO glad that I read it!!!

Hidden Gem Book:

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. This book took me by surprise, it was so good and the characters are AMAZING!

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Working in a bookstore!!! I basically began to read YA when I started working there and seriously got back into reading.

Just Finished:

Just One Day — Gayle Forman (don’t hate me for my review guys!)

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Erotica, urban romance, high fantasy, technical sci-fi, middle-grade.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Outlander — Diana Gabaldon (all 870 pages of it)

Major book hangover because of:

Clockwork Princess — Cassandra Clare
I STILL HAVE BOOK HANGOVER AND IT’S BEEN SINCE MARCH!!!!!!!!

Number of Bookcases You Own:

I own a few but they’re at my parents house in the USA… in Japan I don’t have any, I just have some bookends holding my books up on my table. No space and they’re too annoying to move with. When we go back to the USA for good I’m going to get an ENTIRE WALL of bookshelves (or just a really big one…)

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

A Separate Peace — John Knowles

Preferred Place To Read:

My bed

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: 

… I thought no one would want to listen to me. I thought they’d laugh if I talked about things like life. But George is different… those kids at the studio are different… after all, they are living the life they’ve chosen for themselves. I wish I was like them. I wish I could live like them…”  — Hayasaka ‘Caroline’ Yukari – Paradise Kiss

Reading Regret:

I regret that I quit reading after I moved back to Japan. I kept up with it for a bit, but then my reading went to the wayside until a couple of years ago… I missed out on so much!

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series): 

The Matched trilogy — Ally Condie
The second book bored me SO much and I don’t want to pay full price for the last book if it also bores me… so I’m still waiting for a sale.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

A Separate Peace –John Knowles
Many Waters — Madeleine L’Engle
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer — Michelle Hodkin

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Scott Westerfeld. I read that mans tweets between books because I am just like I NEED HIS WORDS IN MY LIFE.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

The Retribution of Mara Dyer — Michelle Hodkin

Worst Bookish Habit:

Buying books and not reading them? Hahaha, Is this a bad habit?

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

False Memory — Dan Krokos

Your latest book purchase:

Just ordered The Passage, Throne of Glass & The Duff. WAITING FOREVER FOR THEM TO ARRIVE.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Just One Day by Gayle Forman. I was waiting for it to blow me away and kept reading until 3am. Sadly, the blowing away never happened.

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YeahYA in Canada

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Back in July I had the chance to attend Harlequin Teen’s #YeahYA tour in Brampton, Ontario. The event featured five talented authors: Julie Kagawa, Katie McGarry, Aimee Carter, Amanda Sun, and Michelle Rowan (a.k.a Morgan Rhodes). It was quite the crowded event, as each author came out to wild cheers and fangirling, particularly, Julie Kagawa and Katie McGarry, famous for The Iron Fey series and Pushing Limits respectively.

Each woman took time out to explain their works, how they got into writing and YA in particular. Katie McGarry was hilarious, telling stories of how she wanted to get her crush to notice her (and fainting/smashing her head on a projector) and how she met her husband. By the way, her husband apparently knows what Noah and Isaac would say, often better than Katie herself. She was so funny, incredibly genuine! I enjoyed her talk a lot. Julie Kagawa also spoke of her inspirations, as well as her love of Final Fantasy VIII (boo!) and Dragon Age (Fenris!). She also signed my copy of The Immortal Rules, which I have not read yet (oops!), but I adored her Iron Fey series.

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Amanda Sun talked about her inspirations, life in Japan, and being the creepy stalker on the bus who gets inspiration from people’s conversations. Amanda Sun and I met previous at Ad Astra wherein I got an ARC of Ink (which I loved and reviewed). We exchanged tea and hugs, and I gave her a toy Squall from Final Fantasy VIII, who rode in pictures on her Tomohiro My Little Pony. Aimee Carter discussed being a fanfic writer first (she was a big Harry Potter fan, who knew!) and I ended up getting my copy of The Goddess Test signed by her (a total guilty pleasure book!). She was so excited to talk to everyone. I also talked to Michelle Rowan about writing steamy scenes and her adult books, and she also wrote fanfic… Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic. Michelle Rowan as HILARIOUS and she was very open to discussing a lot of her work and what it means to be a YA writer.

Overall, I had an amazing time at #YeahYA! I met a ton of amazing authors and fans. I ended up checking out a lot of new authors I wouldn’t have otherwise. I look forward to reading more of their works, and I hope the tour happens again very soon.

Rose Under Fire

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Title: Rose Under Fire
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbr ck, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

Sam’s review:

Huge thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for an advance reader copy of this book!

4.5

Elizabeth Wein wowed me with Code Name Verity last year. It was so refreshing to read a young adult novel that focused on friendships over the stereotypical girls-need-boys mentality. It was hard not to love a novel about female pilots during World War II.

Wein returns to form, and to me for the better, with Rose Under Fire. This book is in no way for the faint of heart, as it’s a very difficult and disturbing read. When Rose is caught by the Nazi’s and sent to a concentration camp wherein she is tortured. However, despite the evils and tribulations Rose face, she makes some valuable friendships that keep her somewhat sane throughout the experience.

Despite a lot of the disturbing imagery, this book is beautifully written. Outside of her friendships, Rose uses poetry as a means to keep herself alive, and they are so pretty. Much like Code Name Verity the book is written as journal, with some some difficultly in terms of understanding the order of events and ideas. It’s a challenging read in this respect as in some instances keep track of the events can be a bit tough.

I really connected to the characters in this story, especially Rose. I feel like she means well in a lot of situations, but she’s so determined to ensure everyone else’s survival over her own. It’s heroic, but also stubborn, and somewhat foolish. She’s very bull-headed, but I think that’s what makes me appealing. I also loved Roz’a, and I thought her story was so haunting and creepy that it makes perfect sense why she behaved the way she did throughout the story. The relationships forged between the Rabbits was interesting, touching, and you really do feel like you want them to survive, make it through everything, and live to tell the tale.

Rose Under Fire is a book with big emotions. It will play with your feelings, sucker-punch you a few times until you understand a lot of what the story demands of you. I was so absorbed that I couldn’t stop reading and when I did, I was still thinking about a lot of the events in the novel. The amount of research that went into this novel is quite impeccable, and just adds to the level of emotion. I highly recommend this story if you loved Code Name Verity, and I’ll definitely continue to have Elizabeth Wein on my reading radar.

Contemporary Summer Fling: ALSO KNOWN AS

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Title: Also Known As
Author: Robin Benway
Rating: ★★★ ~ ★★★★★
Synopsis: Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.

Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Sam’s Review:

3.5 Stars

Also Known As is a surprisingly cute read. It’s a difficult book to categorize because I feel like there will be those who get completely sucked into the world and story, and others like me will read it and simply say “yeah, I liked it.” AKA is not a bad book, far from it! But it failed to capture my attention in a lot of ways.

Maggie, our spunky heroine, is kind of a nut case. She’s paranoid, frantic, flaily, and bit too all over the place for my tastes. She has moments where her narrative voice is so perfectly neurotic, that it’s actually very entertaining. What I didn’t care for, however, was the spy aspect of her personality. Not only was she terrible (and openly admits it), but it almost felt like at times that the author would have to constantly remind the reader of this fact, yet spending a good chunk of the narrative being like “So this is Jesse, my crush” which I get, but it gets drilled a bit too much for my taste.

I actually found Jesse to be a problematic love interest in that he never felt real or fleshed out enough. He has his moments where he’s cute (yes, we get told a lot that he is cute), a bit cheeky, but overall he’s kind of an airhead. He just felt so flat and unengaging that I couldn’t bring myself to care about him or the relationship he strikes with Maggie. Yes they are both super awkward, but their awkwardness never felt genuine to me (Maggie yes, Jesse no). It was hard to care about their relationship, which for me is a shame because I really did like Maggie a lot. Their relationship also happened way too fast for me! I just didn’t buy it.

I was also not fond of how Benway handled Maggie’s parents. A lot of the time they didn’t feel like actual parents. A lot of the decisions they made in the story were so unrealistic, especially when you add the spy element on top of it. They just felt so unnecessary at times. Heck, Angelo seemed like more of a parental figure than Maggie’s folks (and I loved me some Angelo).

When the plot wasn’t fixated on the romance between Maggie and Jesse, it was a ball to read. A lot of Maggie’s social awkwardness is perfectly woven into the story and her narrative voice for the most part is so infectious that it’s easy to laugh with her. Also I LOVED Roux’s character and the developing friendship between her and Maggie. I love how frustrating and grueling it starts out, to how eventually they just learn to love each other. I also adored Angelo’s character, and I felt like he was the best representation of someone doing espionage work. Angelo was so quirky, and learning about his past relationship, it made me a touch misty eyed!

Also Known As can be a perfect read for some, but for me, I found some of the unrealistic aspects a bit too hard to ignore. Still, I think Maggie’s voice is wonderfully done, and I think the narrative is still mostly solid minus a few issues. There’s still a lot of fun to be had in AKA, and I’d say it’s worth reading for Roux and Angelo’s character’s alone!

River’s Review:

5 Stars

I loved this book SO MUCH and while I was a bit sad that Sam didn’t love it as much as I did, I can understand her reasons and agree with them even. But I forgave this book for A LOT because I loved Maggie’s voice SO. MUCH. It is VERY rare when I like the female protagonist (I talked about this in my review of SMART GIRLS) and Maggie… she’s like, my favorite protag EVER now. She was funny and sassy and just SO SIXTEEN and she was awkward and cute and I LOVED HER.

I love ANYTHING CIA or spies so this was perfect for me. I didn’t care how realistic and just enjoyed the hell out of it. I loved all of the characters, Roux was the BEST BEST FRIEND EVER and Jesse was cute and I loved his dog and just. SO MUCH LOVE.

So yeah… if you’re willing to forgive and ignore a lot of what bugged Sam in her review, then you’ll probably be more like me and fall head-over-heals for this book. But if those things bother you, then it might not be the book for you. BUT TRUST ME IT IS SO MUCH FUN.

Did you read ALSO KNOWN AS? If you did what did you think? We’d love to talk about it in the comments! Also link us to your reviews! And don’t forget to check out last few Flings with:

This Song Will Save Your Life
The Moon and More
In Honor
Smart Girls Get What They Want

AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER OUR GIVE AWAY!!! You could win one of these fabulous books!!!!

FEED – Newsflesh #1

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Title: Feed
Author: Mira Grant
Rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis: The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.

River’s review:

If you know me, you know that I am LEGIT TERRIFIED OF ZOMBIES. Like, I watch zombie movies to prep for the future. So this book and the future in it are basically… my worst nightmare. Why did I read this? Facing my fears? Peer pressure? A sick love for all things end-of-the-world? idek. Probably the same reason I watched THE WALKING DEAD. But I am so glad that I did.

I actually got an ARC of Grant’s newest series, PARASITE, and that was my first exposure to her writing. I loved Parasite. I think worms are disgusting, but I’m not TERRIFIED of them. And while PARASITE was getting good reviews, FEED was getting BETTER ones. So I took the plunge, bought it for 2.99 in the kindle store, and started a 5 day CRAZY ride.

This is NOT a zombie survival book. It takes place in a post-zombie world where the zombies have been ‘tamed’, people live in ‘safety’ and the government is in control. The internet works, people have jobs, careers, lives. Sure you have to get a million blood tests to get into/outof anywhere (and all of those needles freaked me out!) and if you fail your blood test your ‘smart house’ will kill you… but hey, I want ALLLLL of that and more if this is ever a future I find myself in.

Georgia, Shaun and Buffy are our three main friends, running a website where they report the news. They get tagged to follow the presidential campaign and from here it turns into a political thriller with a twister conspiracy that basically uses the ZOMBIES instead of good old fashioned… idek, bombs? snipers? Less-bring-you-back-from-the-dead- bio-weapons? I was worried about zombie dreams and instead I got POLITICAL NIGHTMARES (like, real, while I was sleeping dreams) wtf. I did have ONE zombie dream… but those are common for me.

I LOVED the writing, the narration, and the uses of blog entries from their website. In PARASITE we get a lot more ‘inbetween’ content (suicide notes, video transcripts, story book excerpts, and magazine interviews) which I LOVED, and was hoping to get a LITTLE more of in FEED. That’s one area where I think PARASITE was a bit stronger than FEED.

This IS a zombie book, so people DO die and the deaths are very sad and tragic (I almost cried over one while I was reading on the train) but the BIGGEST death you DO NOT see coming and your brain REFUSES to believe it until it’s over and even then you’re like ‘that was a joke, right?’ I’ve NEVER experienced such a sucker punch before in a novel. I’m very familiar with book hangover, but I rarely suffer from such a sever case of book shock and denial.

I am onboard for the rest of this series, and while I can’t wait to read more… I need to let this settle for a bit. Gimme a few weeks and I’ll be back.

How To Curse In Hieroglyphics

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Title: How To Curse In Hieroglyphics
Author: Lesley Livingston & Jonathan Llyr
Rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis: Meet Cheryl and Tweed, two 12-year-old girls who are identical twins (just not with each other!), cousins, and best pals. After a mysterious “incident” involving a plane trip when they were very young left both girls orphaned and twin-less, they are raised by their grandfather, the owner/operator of the tumbledown Starlight Paradise Drive-In movie theatre in the middle-of-nowhere town of Wiggins Cross. The girls have bonded closer than sisters through a shared love of B movies and buttered popcorn, and they firmly believe that there must be something more out there in the world than meets the eye. Something … weird.

They’re about to find out just how right they are.

When Dudley’s World O’Wonders, a threadbare travelling carnival, rolls into town, the citizens of Wiggins welcome the distraction. But even “Colonel” Winchester P.Q. Dudley, the carnival’s shady owner, doesn’t realize that among the fake and fabricated “wonders” of his travelling sham-show rests the authentic mummified remains of a young Egyptian princess … bearing a shockingly real curse!

It’s up to Cheryl and Tweed, with their encyclopaedic knowledge of monster movie lore, and their flyboy friend Yeager “Pilot” Armbruster to save the town-and themselves!

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Penguin Canada / Puffin for sending me an ARC of this book.

How to Curse in Hieroglyphics may be perfect in every way.

Okay, it might not be perfect to every reader, but it was, in a sense, perfect for me. How to Curse in Hieroglyphics stars two twelve-going-on-thirteen year old cousins, who may have one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever seen. Reading about Cheryl and Tweed’s adventures with B-Movies and ACTION! often reminded me a lot of how my childhood best friend and I played together. We were all about imagination, being creative, exploring the world around us, and adapting when things often didn’t go our way. This is how Cheryl and Tweed deal considering the amount of loss they have had in their life.

Lesley Livingston and Jonathan Llyr do a great job of creating a memorable cast of characters. While the girls are clearly the highlight, it’s hard not to adore Pilot, Shrimpcake and Pops. Everyone, right down to the villains, are colourful, over-the-top and extreme in the best way possible. The town of Wiggins Cross is essentially Bizzaro-world, and yet no one seems to mind in the slightest. Crafting the world C+T inhabit must have been a lot of fun, as its completely evident in the writing. There’s just so much to love about the cast and the world, that I found myself laughing along with a lot of the insanity that ensued. The ending equally had me in stitches!

One unique aspect of the novel is that parts of it are storyboarded. Whenever Cheryl and Tweed yell action, the readers are transported into their imagination and insanity, from badass commandos to super spies. They also have the power of their patented C+T hand shake, which is quite silly, yet adorkable nonetheless. The artwork is excellent in the storyboards, and having the script and dialog on the side really does make the reader feel as though they are in the middle of an action-packed scene.

The actual mystery in the novel is quite wonderfully drawn up with just enough B-movie cheese to make it work. In fact, the book provides a plethora of B-movie knowledge at the reader, and while this generation may not know a lot about some of the films in question, for old fogies like myself, it was welcomed and very much appreciated. I also loved our Egyptian princess, which I think how Livingston and Llyr wrote her character was, in fact, surprisingly clever.

How to Curse in Hieroglyphics struck all the right chords with me, and did it in such an honest and genuine way. It’s been a long time since I found myself giggling my way through a very tongue-in-cheek middle grade novel. If you love middle grade and this book isn’t on your radar, you may need to remedy that, because this book has so much charm and quirk, that I think it could get even the most stubborn of readers to laugh out loud. What can I say? I think Livingston and Llyr may have completely won me over, and I look forward to reading more of C+T’s crazy adventures!

Also, I love Shrimpcake. He’s a cute pie.