13 June 2012

COMING SOON: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

I am in love with this cover! That's all I have to say.

Have a nice week to anyone reading!
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Black City (Black City Chronicles #1)
by Elizabeth Richards
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
13 November 12
373 Pages

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war. In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable--they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash's long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they're caught, they'll be executed--but their feelings are too strong. When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

27 May 2012

Heroine Cliches that are Annoying the MUFFINNUGGETS Out of Me

(Listed in No Particular Order)

1. The Super Bad Ass But Totally Bitchy in a I-Will-Rip-Your-Tongue-Out-If-You-So-Much-As-Look-At-Me-the-Wrong-Way Type of... Bitch
Now, I love bad ass heroines as much as the next person, but there is a thin(ish to wide-ish) line between being strong and being... a total bitch. And not in the I'm-going-to-pretend-to-be-your-friend-but-really-I-hate-your-guts-cause-your-pretty type of bitch, but the totally unapproachable and completely bitchy type of bitch that over reacts to everything. Okay, I get it. You're strong, you're tough. But you're also a total bitch, who bitches on the other type of bitch, and thinks that you're not like them. Yeah, you're not. But sometimes, you're so much worse.

2. The Sexually Repressed But Secretly, and Unknowingly, Sensuous Temptress
and
3. The One That Hasn't Ever Experienced Good Sex, till now...
and
4. The Virgin... till now...
Once in awhile, these three types are completely okay. But after awhile, I start to stop reading because this is just so annoying. It's okay to be sexually repressed, and it's okay to not have experienced good sex or just not liked sex. And it's fine to be a virgin. But I feel like there's a subliminal message that says that if you are that sensuous temptress or have had experienced good sex before, or any sex at all (and especially if you've had *gasp* more than 10 lovers), then guess what! No one's going to love you. No one. Not even that super player arsehole dude that you probably wouldn't love anyways, but it wouldn't matter because he only preys on the virginal.

5. The Utterly Beautiful But Doesn't Know It One
Okay, I kind of get this one. A lot of women, and men, feel this way so it's relate-able. It attracts readers that feel like this. But then the writer starts bashing, subtly or very obviously, on the beautiful-and-knows-it girl, as some writers bash on the girls who had more than *gasp* ten, and probably even five, lovers, and then it just gets really, really annoying. What's wrong with knowing that you look good? Especially if you look really, really good. Like some of the heroines, which brings us to...

6. Completely, and Utterly Fantabulously Perfect. In Every Way.
 So... you're super perfect. You're super nice. Or maybe you seem mean but actually, you're super nice. Inside. You know how to unlock the door... without a key! And guess what! It's your first time trying! And guess what else! No one likes you. But, wait! You're so perfect, that everyone likes you!

I can't think of anymore at the moment, but I'll add more when I remember! Till next time...

26 May 2012

Quick Reviews: Chicklits and Romances

Of all the chick-lit, YA, romance, and other books like these I'm reading, I'm starting to think I'm a closet romantic/idealist. I've always thought I was more of a realist, but maybe not... Too bad my mystery/crime book obsession was before I started this blog... hrmm... maybe this is just a phase. *shrugs* We'll see.

For now, here's some quick reviews on some chick-lits and romances I've read.

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A Girl Like You by Gemma Burgess
I absolutely adored this charming, little novel! I thought the main character, Abigail Wood, was such a doll. But a quirky one. She was fun and wonderfully smashing! The male lead, Robert, was definitely swoon-worthy. Oh. And funny, too.





This novel was, quite simply, beautiful, in only the way life can be. The struggles that the two protagonists went through were so nitty gritty and I could see a real person, like a friend or an acquaintance, experiencing them. It wasn't all charm and perfection. And the friendship that the two had may have had me wanting to pull my hair out, but it felt so real, as did all the feelings, both bad and good. The development of both characters, Dexter more than Emma, was drastic, but it was a slow development as it would in life. The way it was told, the same day annually over a course of two decades was unique and flowed very well.



This is a love story between the two characters and the problems thrown at them. Some of the situations had me laughing in my head, which is always a good thing. The two protagonists were silly, especially Heaven, but in an adorable way.

 


Out of all these stories, this one is probably the most cliched when it came to the protagonists. Neve was the run of the mill heroine, except with (huge) weight/self-esteem issues, and with little to no experience with pleasure in the bedroom (can we stop with this cliche? please?). And Max, the sexy lady killer who had a hidden depth. Of course, they were a bit more complex than the usual light chicklit (not that this wasn't a bit light), but their romance and time together was a nice read. An enjoyable read (hence the four stars!). They were sweet with each other and wonderful together. Both had their internal problems, and by the end of the novel, they were well on their way to getting over them.
 

05 May 2012

REVIEW: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Publisher: Random House
16 August 2011
372 Pages

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


R E V I E W :
This virtual world within this bleak future that is our world was like a gamer's wet dream. I kind of wish it were real. Somewhere where one can escape the harsh realities of life and emerge themselves and most of their senses into a virtual reality with the right equipment. Where one can be whoever, whatever they want.

Basically, this guy (Halliday) made this super immersive, high tech mmorpg game in the future, which is really bleak and sad because we humans have pretty much destroyed our planet. So then he dies and leaves behind a clue to three keys for three gates, all hidden in the virtual world he had created (called OASIS) and declared that whomever reaches the end will win his inheritance (which is quite large. Think Bill Gates).

So Wade, our protagonist, better known as Parzival in the game, is one of the people who look for the clues (a gunter) by researching everything to know about Halliday and the '80s. In reality, he's a poor antisocial hermit, at least until he finds the first clue. Then he's an antisocial, middle class/rich hermit hiding from an evil company called IOI that is hellbent on taking over OASIS and monetizing it. Most of this story takes place on OASIS where he becomes a legend for being the first to retrieve the first key (clue). And we follow him as he scrambles to figure out where and how to get the keys and gates (clues).

Anyways, this story's bad guys vs good guys premise was very black and white, with the IOI company against pretty much everyone else. And of course, the good once again prevails. Oh. And the guy gets the pretty girl.


So that kind of makes this story seem cliche, but that's not completely true. It was action-packed and exciting (with a bit too much slow moments), introducing us into a new world (or worlds).

Some Negatives:
The beginning and sometimes the middle of was quite slow and dull. It wasn't until halfway through that it started to slowly and surely pick up. The only reason I kept reading was because of the plot and my love of gaming.

The book was chock full of over-explaining, in my opinion, and unnecessary and mostly uninteresting information about (now) obscure games from the '80s. Some people might find this very interesting though--probably gamer geeks (and I say this lovingly since I love games) or anyone interested in doing '80s jeopardy.


02 May 2012

REVIEW: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Publisher: Dutton Books
10 January 2012
318 Pages

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours
(btw... tumors is spelled t-u-m-o-r-s) tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.


R E V I E W :
First, I expected to at least want to cry a little bit, but alas, that was not so. So even with its sad moments, this isn't a very emotional story (but then again, I'm not exactly emotional). But, the protagonists were very entertaining in the way they spoke to each other. Not the typical teen in the words they used, but facing death head on will probably do that to you (at least, you'd think it would).

It was told in the viewpoint of Hazel Grace who was a very intelligent 16 year old. There was much quoting, which was interesting and insightful. And I adored Augustus, aka Gus. He was such a wonderful character, fun and charming.

John Green is a literary wonder. Maybe not in the way of getting one to feel emotion, or developing characters... or... storytelling (good, but not the best). But truly, the writing is great!

What was most interesting was the way cancer, terminal illnesses and death were approached. It was nothing new, but it was... well... interesting. Different than what's socially accepted. But I haven't read much in the way of cancer-striken protagonists so I'm not sure if this is normal.

In spite of the heady topic, and looking past Green's literary prowess, this story of two star-crossed lovers was rather light.


And bonus point for not trying to leave the reader with a beautifully annoying message about life and death, as most books involving death seem to have.

21 April 2012

REVIEW: The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Meyers

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
14 February 2012
353 Pages

Seventeen-year-old Jocelyn follows clues apparently from her dead twin, Jack, in and around Seale House, the terrifying foster home where they once lived. With help from childhood friend Noah she begins to uncover the truth about Jack's death and the company that employed him and Noah.

Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes-and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from "Jason December"-the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at Seale House.

But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in? The answer is revealed in a shocking twist that turns this story on its head and will send readers straight back to page 1 to read the book in a whole new light.


R E V I E W :


Oh. My God.

This book sucked me in from the very beginning. It was exciting. Thrilling. Awe-inspiring. It was the adventure of Jocelyn, a nearly 18 year old girl with a troubled past, who follows clues that her twin brother, Jack, sent her. Previously, she thought he had died, but in receiving the letter, she gets desperate in finding him, one of two people in her life that meant everything to her. In her search for her brother, she meets up with the other one person in her life that meant everything to her, Nate, whom she hadn't seen in five years. Nate was a great character. Seemingly fearless and a hot, computer genius. Jocelyn was also well developed and very interesting. She wasn't perfect, no where near perfect, but that just made her more relate-able and interesting.

Through flashbacks, it reveals Jocelyn's time in the Seale House, which had scarred her for life. The flashbacks were done really well and did not at all confuse me as a reader. The journey she took helped her to come to terms her past and eventually move on, instead of just tucking it into a corner of her mind. The adventure and journey itself was very interesting. And the ultimate revelation near the end was just... Wow. Looking back, there were clues that support it, but I would have never guessed it. It was amazing.


If you like mystery, adventure, some action, a bit of romance, a smidgen of fantasy (a hell of a load of crazy), and a big twist, this is the book for you. And even if you don't, I bet this is a book you'll sick your teeth into.

31 March 2012

REVIEW: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Publisher: Egmont Press
06 Feb 2012
452 Pages

I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine - and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France - an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.


R E V I E W :
At first I was a little hesitant to read this book because history tends to bore me, therefore I usually steer clear of any historical books. But I am so glad I gave this book a try.

It was bloody brilliant. Although fiction, the story felt so real. As if I was reading the diary of an old war vetern. I clung to every word Elizabeth Wein spewed out through the voices of Maggie and... we'll call her Verity, two very different yet complementary and extraordinary women that met in the midst of World War II. Their story of friendship and an account of what they went through as young women serving their country is an adventure you would not want to miss.

Some of the characters, not just the main protagonists, were some of the most well developed and complex ones I've ever had the fortune to read about. None of them were what they seemed. Wein just sucked me into this (very plausible) world, whether it was hundreds of miles in the sky or a grimy torture chamber in the Hotel of Butchers in Nazi-occupied France.

My favorite part was the whole first half of the book which was told in the point of view of Verity who was also, in most parts, telling it in the point of view of Maggie (confusing, right?). It only told half the story but it was so good that I was a bit disappointed it didn't end right there. But after reading the second half, I had the urge to read the book from the beginning all over again.
And I actually read the afterword. And I never read the afterword.

I really want to describe this book in finer detail but it's really an adventure you should take for yourself. So buckle your seat belts and get ready for take off.

05 March 2012

REVIEW: Life As I Blow It: Tales Of Love, Life & Sex . . . Not Necessarily In That Order by Sarah Colonna

Publisher: Villard07 January 2012
256 Pages
Genre: Memoir

In this wickedly funny and irreverent memoir, Chelsea Lately writer and comedian Sarah Colonna opens up about love, life, and pursuing her dreams . . . and then screwing it all up.

Sarah believes we all struggle to grow up. Sometimes we want to have fun, not take things too seriously, and have that fourth margarita. Other times we would like to get married, stay in, order Chinese food, and have a responsible, secure life.

From her formative years in small-town Arkansas to a later career of dates, drinks, and questionable day jobs, Colonna attempts to reconcile her responsible side with her fun-loving side. Sometimes this pans out, and sometimes she finds herself in Mexico handing out her phone number to anyone who calls her pretty. She moves to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but for years is forced to hone her bartending skills; she wants a serious boyfriend, but won’t give up nights at the bar with her friends. She tries to behave like an adult, but can’t seem to stop acting like a frat boy. In the end, she discovers that there doesn’t have to be just one or the other. And if there’s one thing Colonna has learned from her many missteps, it’s that hindsight is always 100 proof.


R E V I E W:
An honest and mostly humorous account littered with interesting people and entertaining anecdotes of a comically-inclined, and now somewhat famous, woman who, like many of us everyday folk, is wondering what she really wants in life. Sarah Colonna shares her life story (phsycoanalyzing a lot of her choices) and the mistakes she made (and repeated) regarding sex, love, and well... life. She's led an interesting life so far but it was also really relatable to anyone who is or was struggling to achieve their dreams or trying to find their place in the world.

This book is really the first of this genre that I have ever read so my rating may be off. But I can say that I had enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I have read about three memoirs before, though. Like Night by Elie Wiesel (for a class long ago so I automatically hated it) and Memoirs of a Geisha by that girl/guy (liked it but never finished it) and Tuesdays with Morrie by that other guy I didn't like so much (can barely remember it but I think I liked it) but to me, they're a different genre of memoir than this one.