Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (14)

Things have been really quiet this week, and so now it’s time for an explanation. My dad is moving across the country on Sunday, and so it’s been nonstop family time. I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen with blogging for now, because the rest of us are staying here until we figure something out. This might mean I have tons of spare time, or none at all. I’ll just have to play it by ear in the mean time.

Now on to the books!

      Received This Week

      Purchased

      The Tale of DespereauxThe Casual Vacancy

      The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
      The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

      A dollar total for both BRAND NEW paperbacks. I love cheap books (:

      NetGalley

      The Last Present by Wendy Mass

      Gifted(ish?)

      A laptop!

      Remember why I took that Summer-long hiatus in the first place? Well, because of an issue with the seller and the shipping, we never got that laptop screen fixed. This is used, but in good condition. It’s been refurbished and looks like it will suit my needs.

      Blogged This Week

  • {Blog Tour} Hero by Alethea Kontis: Fairy Tale Rant
  • Book Review: Hero by Alethea Kontis

This has been a pretty quiet week, but next week there should be more going on!

Read This Week

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Hero by Alethea Kontis

To Read Next Week

I am determined to finish everything I started in September this week!

The Book ThiefSlayers (Slayers, #1)RoseTumble & Fall

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Slayers by C.J. Hill
Rose by Holly Webb
Tumble and Fall by Alexandra Coutts

How was your week? Leave links in the comments below!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Hero by Alethea Kontis

  Have you seen Princess Althea’s fairy tale rant, yet?

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Publisher: Harcourt Books
Release Date: October 1st 2013
Genre: YA Fairy Tale
Source: ARC from Author
Challenge(s): Sequels, Fairy Tale, NetGalley

Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world.

Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?"

As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.

I approached Hero with low expectations, only because there was no way it could possibly measure up to the genius that is Enchanted. Just goes to show that I don’t know everything, because Hero was equally, if not more compelling and enchanting than Enchanted. Something about Saturday’s story just touched me in a way that Enchanted wasn’t able to, and that made my experience reading this book even more powerful.

Saturday herself was an amazing character. The contrast between her and Sunday is enormous, and not just in height. I have to admit I didn’t pay much attention to Saturday in Enchanted, and now I’m wanting to go back because she is such an interesting character. She’s the oddball of the family, with her strength and lack of magical ability, but she doesn’t let that stop her.

Gender roles are challenged, but in a very skillful manner. Saturday doesn’t worry about settling down. She has adventures to embark on! She's independent and doesn’t spend her time worrying about boys, which is something we need with the weak, bland heroines that are all over YA.*glares at Twilight* That being said, there is still romance fully present in the story, but it isn’t the focal point of the novel. And more than the actual romance, time is spent focusing on the companionship between the two, which made their more romantic moments that much more genuine.

And now to the meat of the novel: the plot! I absolutely loved it. Right off the bat there’s a ton of excitement in the air. And that’s just the start! Sometimes it seemed like there was maybe even too much happening at once, but then things would calm down for just a moment so we as readers could sort things out and catch a breath before the next adventure. It takes skill to create such a powerful, exhilarating, and beautiful novel, and for that I applaud Alethea!

Despite the lack of a basis in any one particular fairy tale, the whole feeling of the novel was that which lies in the dusty fairy tale collection you grew up with; a mixture of familiarity and knowing to expect the unexpected as you embark on an all new journey. It’s a feeling that never gets old.

{Blog Tour} Hero by Alethea Kontis: Fairy Tale Rant

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To see the full tour schedule, click here!

Today I am ecstatic to present to you a fairy tale rant like no other from the Princess herself, Alethea Kontis, as part of the Hero Blog Tour hosted by Prism Book Tours! First off, of course, we want to get to know our Princess, and the wonderful novel she’s written!

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New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a goddess, a force of nature, and a mess. She’s known for screwing up the alphabet, scolding vampire hunters, turning garden gnomes into mad scientists, and making sense out of fairy tales.

Alethea is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, and penned the AlphaOops series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, includingThe Wonderland Alphabet and Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome. Her debut YA fairy tale novel, Enchanted, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012 and was nominated for both the Andre Norton Award and the Audie Award in 2013.

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea now lives in Northern Virginia with her Fairy Godfamily. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie.

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter * YouTube

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Hero
Coming October 1st, 2013

Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world.

Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?"

As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.

Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * The Book Depository * Indie Bound * Powell's * Book Tour

And now you get to hear Princess Alethea rant about a personal favorite of mine…Rumpelstiltskin!

If the video isn’t working, click here!

So, what d’you think?
I personally agree with all the points she makes. Great princesses think alike, I guess!

Keep an eye out for my review, which should be popping up later today!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (13)

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      Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

      You know how I said last time that I was going to stop buying and requesting books? That didn’t quite work…

      Received This Week

      Purchased

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      The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
      Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
      Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
      Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
      Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
      Life of Pi by Yann Martel
      Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
      The Secret of Devon Delaney by Lauren Barnholdt
      The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
      The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
      The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
      The Witches by Roald Dahl

I really shouldn’t be allowed to browse the book section of the thrift store. I got all 12 of these books (mostly in brand new condition) for less than $7.

      For Review

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      A Question of Magic by E.D. Baker
      Hero by Alethea Kontis!!!
      My Sort of Fairy Tale Ending by Anna Staniszewski

      Thank you to Bloomsbury, Sourcebooks, and Alethea!

      Blogged This Week

Not overwhelmingly crazy this week, but I’m finally getting back in the swing of things!

Read This Week

EnchantedBetween the LinesHamlet

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (audiobook)
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer
Hamlet by William Shakespeare (audio dramatization)

To Read Next Week

Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)Tumble & FallPride and Prejudice

Hero by Alethea Kontis
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

How was your week? Leave links in the comments below!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bite Sized Reviews: What’s Left of Me, Eve, and The Memory of After

bitesizedI’m introducing this because I really need to catch up on reviews that are MONTHS overdue. These are mostly going to be like regular reviews, only shorter, and probably more vague, and I’ll be including the date I read it, just to give you an idea. I’ll also most likely do multiple reviews per post (though generally they’ll be linked by some theme) because that’s simplest on my end.

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1) by Kat Zhang
 
 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
Release Date: September 18th 2012
Genre: YA Supernatural Dystopia
Source: Audiobook from Library
When I Read It: February 26th

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

What's Left of Me was an enjoyable, unique story with a strange and promising premise.

I was disappointed by the dystopian aspects. I felt like there was so much more potential.

It's kind of hard to wrap my head around the concept of two souls in one body, but I thought it was well executed, and the world-building in this alternate universe was good.

The writing was pretty average. It wasn't bad at all, but nothing made it stick out, beyond the oddity of the narrator being two people and one at the same time.

Still, I thought both Addie and Eva had distinct personalities, which I liked.

The plot was kind of slow-moving, but interesting. At some point about 2/3rds in things took a dramatic turn, and I found myself going back to see if I'd missed something important.

Definitely new and interesting!

 
Eve by Anna Carey
 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Release Date: October 4th 2011
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Source: Audiobook from Library
When I Read It: March 4th

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust... and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

STOPPED AROUND 30% IN

My first DNF of the year, and it's an audiobook! There was nothing horrible about this book that made me stop, but it wasn't holding my interest at all. Right from the start there was lots of action and horrifying information being revealed, but even though Eve is on the run and everything, it seems like everything just started dragging.

I will say that the world-building was good, from what I got from it, but nothing incredibly creative. It actually reminded me a lot about Wither, with a dash of The Giver. But there was nothing particularly new and interesting to me.

I also didn't like Eve's character. Even though she's been brainwashed her entire life and has stumbled into a situation that nightmares are made of, I want a character I can root for!

The narrator of Eve was excellent for the most part. She had a strong, fierce voice, but her speaking voice for Eve made her sound like a weak, scared little girl.

I've heard it gets better later on, but I'm not invested enough in the characters or plot to care.

 

The Memory of After (The Memory Chronicles, #1) by Lenore AppelhansPublisher: Simon & Schuster
Narrator: Jenna Lamia
Release Date: January 15th 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal/Contemporary
Source: Audiobook from Library
When I Read It: February 15th

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

The Memory of After was strange, but not at all in a bad way. It's a story of a girl stuck in the not-quite-after-life, trying to sort out her past, and figure out exactly what's going on in this other worldly waiting room she's trapped in.

I liked Felicia, and even though personality wise we’re completely different, there are some experiences of hers that I could really relate to and understand on a deeper level based purely on personal experience.

I really liked the plot to start with. I was intrigues by Level 2 and was anxious to learn more about it. I think what fascinated me the most was the idea of memory banks, and honestly, my favorite parts were those moments traveling through Felicia's old memories.

While it started out with lots of promise, about half way through, the plot took a turn into paranormal territory, which was an instant turn off. There were little hints of this or that, but then suddenly there was an overload of weird angel stuff going on. I feel it could’ve been successful, but it fell short of it’s potential.

Aside from that, though, I really did enjoy The Memory of After (which was still titled Level 2 when I read (listened to) it, but I like the new title and cover better) a lot.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

{Blog Tour} Rose by Holly Webb: Author Interview

 

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Thanks to Sourcebooks and Holly for this opportunity!

I’m in the middle of Rose right now, and so while there won’t be a review today, I’ll be sharing an exclusive interview with Holly! And I will say that so far, Rose has been above and beyond my expectations!

Interview With Holly Webb

RoseWhere did the idea for ROSE come from?

My editor, Kirsty, suggested that I write a book about how someone becomes magical. Her one request was that there should be no talking cats in it. I completely failed on that bit… But the London atmosphere comes from a love of novels like A Little Princess, which is one of my favourite books.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

It happened accidentally. I used to work for a children’s publisher, and I came up with a book idea in an editorial meeting. I was supposed to suggest it to someone else, but I loved it too much to give it away.

What piece of advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

Read – everything you can get your hands on, even if you don’t like it. If you can work out why you don’t like it, that’s very useful. And never throw an idea away.

RoseWhat were your favorite books as a child?

A Little Princess, as I mentioned above, and also The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Narnia books, particularly The Horse and His Boy. The talking horse, Bree, had a big influence on Gus, I think.

Favorite fairy tale and why?

Cinderella, because I had a Ladybird book (children’s early reader series) of the story, where Cinderella doesn’t go to just one ball, but three. I can remember exactly the three different dresses she wore, pink, blue and white. I loved it – it just shows how powerful illustrations can be.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Holly Webb is a bestselling author in the UK with her books Lost in the Snow and Lost in the Storm. As a child growing up in London, Holly fell in love with stories from Ancient Greek myths, which led to studying Latin and Greek and eventually reading Classics at University. She worked for five years as a children's fiction editor, before deciding to become a writer. The Rose books stem from a childhood love of historical novels, and the wish that animals really could talk. She lives in Reading with her husband and three small children. Visit Holly at holly-webb.com.

 

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

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Hi everybody! To be honest, I’ve never liked Summer. The only reason I choose to endure the Summer without moving to Alaska is because of what lies ahead. Autumn! Fall and Winter are the most wonderful time of the year! But for now, I’ll just focus on my favorite things about Fall. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here!

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Even though I’m too old to go trick-or-treating, Halloween is always fun. We always have a Harry Potter marathon, and then when the time is right, the band of misfits heads out, wearing their ridiculous costumes. You can guarantee that there will always be at least two Disney princesses, a vampire, a Harry Potter, and a commonplace object.

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As much as I love slaving away in the kitchen with my mom for 7 hours to prepare a Thanksgiving meal, what I love even more are just the simple meals that scream autumn, especially soups. Seriously, I could live off of soup. And pumpkin cheesecake.

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I’m a cold weather kind of person. I’d love to live in a world where it never goes above 60 degrees. The closest I can get to that is autumn, so I look forward to that everyday. And since we can’t be running around in shorts when it’s chilly outside, it’s time to pull out some…

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Actually, I’m a weirdo and wear sweatpants in the middle of summer, but now it’s socially acceptable to wear sweat pants. And thank goodness for that because they’re so darn comfy!

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I actually love school, though that may be because I don’t have to deal with the drama of high school and I get to sit on the couch and listen to my music during algebra and psychology. But I still love learning, and this is when I go into learning overdrive.

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I love waking up on November 1st, turning on the radio, and hearing Joy to the World. Christmas music really does spread Christmas cheer faster than anything else, and I never get sick of it!

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And of course, you can’t get through fall without acquiring a few hot-off-the-press releases that you’ve been dying for since last year! Just a few that I’m super duper excited for are:

Not a Drop to Drink Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles, #1)Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)

The BrokenheartedAllegiant (Divergent, #3)Cold Spell (Fairytale Retellings, #4)

Thanks to Lizzy at Cornucopia of Reviews and Sara at The Hiding Spot for throwing together this event! This post was lots of fun!

What are your favorite things about fall?

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