Friday, January 27, 2012

Follow Friday

 The Question is: 
 Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

Answer:  Western, most biographies, and Sarah Dessen, er, contemporary YA/Adult novels.  Why?  Westerns have always bored me.  Biographies just aren't my thing.  And contemporary fiction?  We live contemporary, why do we have to read about it, too?

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Genre: Older YA, dystopian, dark, gritty, slight romance
Star Rating: 2/5 stars

Taken from 'Goodreads', "We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run. 

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. When a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again."

A friend of mine mentioned 'Pure' to me a while back.  Supposedly, it was the talk of the town at a book expo she attended.  Because of that, I decided to take a stab at reading this novel by Julianna Baggott.  Let me tell you first that I, personally, think this novel is best suited to older YA readers.  It's a dark read and might not please the younger YA set, even if they liked 'The Hunger Games'.

The Negatives:

As far as page count goes, this book was *way* too long.  It took me 300 pages (almost exactly) to get to a point where I cared about the story and even then, I wasn't too overly invested in the plot or characters.  Part of my trouble with 'Pure' was the voice.  I can count on one hand the number of books I've enjoyed that are in present tense.  My mind was auto-correcting to past tense throughout the entire novel.  As you can only imagine, that made it really hard to get 'sucked in'.  I finished this book not because I was on the edge of my seat, but because I had pushed through hundreds of pages and felt I needed to at least see the story through.

Pressia lives in a world where people are fused with objects.  You'll walk down the street and see a girl with a dolls head fused to her hand, a man with a fan in his throat, or even a boy with birds stuck to his back.  There were some cring-worthy and shocking combinations described in 'Pure', not all of them easy to grasp.  That was the most difficult part to understand about Pressia's world.

Also, purely subjective, I was a little turned off by how dark the novel was.  I'm okay with dark, but usually like a little happy mixed in.  I'm not talking a musical number, but something-- some little ray of hope.  I didn't get any of that in this novel.  I finished it feeling a lot like I did when I read 'Mockingjay'. 'Pure' started on one note and kind of continued on that same note.  The one tone storytelling made for a pretty lackluster finale.

The Positives:

Who could resist this cover?  The colors, font, and design are just perfect.

As far as characters, I enjoyed them well enough.  Pressia was the most likable character of the bunch, followed by Bradwell, Lyda, and then Partridge.  Lyda's character wasn't explored in much detail, though she plays a major role in 'Pure'.  Still, however, she has more personality than Partridge.  If I were to choose my favorite character, the award would go to Bradwell.  He came off a little flat to me, but you know what, he seemed like a cool guy.  He and Pressia's banter in his butcher shop early on in the book was probably my favorite part of the novel.

Each chapter was told in a certain persons point of view.  Unlike some authors, Baggott didn't try to stick to a pattern.  Personally, I prefer that.  Some novels I've read have had alternating characters point of view and because of that, events felt a little forced.  While some of the events in this novel did seem a bit, er, contrived, the fact that the point of view didn't change in a pattern helped a bit.


I like dystopian novels.  I've read 'Matched', 'The Hunger Games', 'Legacy', and quite enjoyed them. However, 'Pure' just wasn't my kind of book.  I didn't finish wanting to read more or even looking forward to the sequel.  If you like gritty, dark worlds, you may like this novel.  It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Deja Vu Covers! Which do you prefer?

Occasionally (well, all the time), I shelve books at work.  Today, I shelved two books with very similar covers.  I thought I'd share them with you.  Someone who uses Getty Images to make money must have been very excited to see their image on two book covers!

First, let us take a look at 'Mad Love' by Suzanne Selfors, published by Walker Books for Young Readers.  The cherry red umbrella is eye catching and the raining hearts?  They're cute, too.  Do I plan on reading it?  No, but as far as covers go, it's a nice one.

Now, take a peek at 'Struck' by Rhoda Stapleton, published by Simon Pulse.  Are you getting the sense of deja vu?

Two different publishers.  Two different cover designers.  One Getty Image manipulated in two different ways.  (Look closely and you'll see identical water droplets on the umbrella's panel, fourth from the left!) Neat, huh?

My personal favorite is the cover to 'Mad Love'.  I think 'Struck' has too many hearts raining down.  Which do you prefer?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Marmalade Boy, Volume 1 by Wataru Yoshizumi

Title: Marmalade Boy, Volume 1
Author/Artist: Wataru Yoshizumi
Genre: Manga, Shoujo
Star Rating: 5/5

Taken from 'Amazon', "Talk about dysfunctional! Miki is horrified to learn that her parents have swapped with another couple, and that all four now plan to live under one roof. But when her new stepbrother, Yuu, shows up, he appears to be just the one to ease her mental anguish... that is, until she sees the bitterness beneath his cool exterior. The strange romance that follows would make any love triangle seem ordinary by comparison."

Originally published by the now defunct Toykopop, 'Marmalade Boy' is hands down my favorite manga series.  It's classic shoujo and something you don't want to miss out on!

Volume one introduces you to the main protagonist- Miki.  Miki is your typical high schooler.  That is, until her parents let her in on the news that they're divorcing. Not just divorcing, but swapping partners with a couple they met on a cruise.  Add the other couples high school son and a house they all share and you have some major life complications!

One of the things that makes or breaks manga for me is the drawing style and I love the style used in 'Marmalade Boy'.  Wataru's style is cutesy and comedic, but at the drop of the hat, a character will have an expression on their face that just draws you in.  I love it.

The story found in 'Marmalade Boy' is filled with humor, angst, memorable characters, and true love.  This is a manga you'll want to check out.

'Marmalade Boy' runs 8 volumes.  Currently, most of the run is 'out of print', but you can still find copies used at conventions, online, or in used bookshops.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Follow Friday!

Question: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012. 

Answer:  I'll be listening to:

 Hanson- I've loved them since MMMBOP and their new stuff is great!

 Sonohora- I just discovered these guys. I don't speak italian, but love their melodies!

I think this will also be the year of 'oldies'...

 Those are three of mine! Who are yours?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Official Cast of 'The Host'

IMDB has listed the actors who are destined to play the four main leads in 'The Host' movie adaptation. (See my Fantasy Cast here!) We've known Wanderer for quite some time, but now we know who her male leads are!

Playing Ian is Jake Abel, or as I like to call him "the kid from Supernatural". Actually, I think Jake may do a good job.  He's a talented guy.

Playing (obnoxious, pig headed, stubborn-- your pick!) Jared is Max Irons. I haven't actually seen him in anything. Personally, I pictured Jared to be older looking, but we'll see how this turns out. Maybe it will work out well? Fun tidbit, he is the son of Jeremy Irons.

And playing lovable, gun wheeling Jeb is William Hurt. I still prefer my choice for the role over Mr. Hurt, but with a new wardrobe, some make up, and a gun, maybe he'll be the perfect Jeb. Maybe...  (Off topic, he looks an awful lot like the Fifth Doctor, doesn't he?)

So far, no one else has been officially added to the cast.  What do you think of these new additions?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Quick Review: Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

Title: Prized
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien 
Genre: older YA, dystopian, romance, 2nd in series
Star Rating: 4/5 stars

From Goodreads, "Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?"

Unlike the last 'middle book' I read (ie: 'Crossed'), this one actually had a plot, an interesting setting, and great dialogue! I enjoyed 'Prized' and am looking forward to the third book-- which needs to be published soon... Now, if possible! 

I'm not sure what it is about them, but I really love the characters in this series-- especially Leon. He may have his mood swings, but I'd take him if Gaia gave him up!  My advice?  Don't give up on this 'sleeper' series, it is just getting better!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chad Michael Murray's 'Everlast'

Did you know that Chad Michael Murray, most commonly known for 'One Tree Hill', authored a graphic novel recently? 'Everlast' is currently being toured around BN's across the US. I stumbled upon this video of a bit of Chad's book talk. Credit for the video goes to 'sgrplmfairy88' on youtube.

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA, Fairy tale, Steampunk, Scifi, Romance
Perfect for: a lazy afternoon
Star Rating: 3/5 stars

Borrowed from 'Goodreads', "Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future."

With loads of five star reviews, I expected a twinge more from 'Cinder'.  There are many points in which I'll give it credit.  As far as putting an original twist on a handful of popular fairy tales?  Author Marissa Meyer gets a gold star.  I loved the almost steampunk elements of Cinder's society and Cinder's own human/cyborg nature.  The world in which 'Cinder' was set was different enough for me to be intrigued by, while not making me terribly confused.

The cover art?  Love it.  That and the title are the reason I decided to read this novel.  

'Cinder' is a mixture of fairy tales.  Not just inspired by Cinderella, it also takes elements from other popular tales, which (without going into spoiler territory) make the story slightly more predictable than I would have liked.  I'd be lying if I said I hadn't figured out the story arc (even the 'surprise' elements) pretty early on.  

What saved the story, in my opinion, were the characters.  As a character, I latched onto Cinder right away.  I found her sarcasm amusing and character arc worthwhile enough to keep on reading, even though I had the story figured out. The good doctor, the Da Vinci of the novel (if I were to relate this to the movie 'Ever After'), was also quite endearing.  I liked him from the get go and look forward to seeing more of him in later installments.

Which brings me to my final point about this novel... It is the beginning of a series and you will know that by the time you get to the ending.  This book had one of those love/hate 'non endings'.  There was an almost ending, but then, boom, us readers are hit with something that takes the story in a complete 180, and then the book is over, leaving us waiting for book 2.  I see the strategy, but wish there had been a more solid ending in place.  Just a little more of a bow would have been great.

'Cinder' is a steampunky fairy tale that will, at the very least, help you get through a rainy or snowy day.  It gets 3 out of 5 stars.