Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Debut Author Challenge 2012

Kristi is once again hosting the Debut Author Challenge! We challenge ourselves to read at least 12 YA and/or middlegrade debuts that are published in 2012. And heck yes, I'm joining!

Last year (technically still this year..) was a blast and I cannot wait to discover all the awesome debuts coming out in 2012. I had no clue what would be published in 2011 when I signed up for the 2011 challenge and I did pretty okay, but I want to spread more debut love! So I'm going to try and read more debuts in 2012. My personal challenge is to read 20 debuts that are published in 2012.

I haven't fully compiled my list of books that I want to read, but here are some titles that I will definitely be reading next year:
- Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
- Fracture by Megan Miranda
- Everneath by Brodi Ashton
- Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
- Tempest by Julie Cross
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
- When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
- Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
- After the Snow by Sophie Crockett
- Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear
- The Iron Wood by Megan Spooner

I am a lucky person for having already read a few titles, and I can highly recommend picking up Slide by Jill Hathaway (March) and Breathe by Sarah Crossan (Fall).

Of course I'm adding titles to the list and I might switch some of them around, but I am very excited about the books coming out in 2012. I wasn't really fully blogging when I signed up for last year's challenge and now that I'm more active in the blogging community, I know of more titles and more bloggers who are likely to know great books!

I will be updating my challenge progress on the tab above, called 'Challenges 2012'. I won't be doing any updates on the blog itself, so if you are curious about how I'm doing, just clicky the button above! I will be updating other challenges there as well.

Are you joining in for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge? What is your goal? What books are you looking forward to reading the most?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent 
Published: July 29th, 2009
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Pages: 279
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge, YA Series Challenge
Other: First book in the Soul Screamers series. The fifth book, If I Die, was published on September 27th, 2011.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

After being urged to start this series by a couple of people, I started to consider picking it up from the bookshelf where it had been for about a year. Yes, it took me that long to pick it up. But when I did, I was instantly relieved that I already own the second book in the series, My Soul to Steal, because I just wanted more.

First up, My Soul to Take isn't your average paranormal story. It's not about the typical things we see in YA most of the time, so there are no werewolves, faeries or vampires. I love those, too, but sometimes you just want a little something different, you know? Well, this book certainly delivered.

Kaylee is a typical teenager, except for her urge to scream her head off whenever she sees the weird grey mist appearing around people. She found out that people who get that grey hue around them are about to die and this makes her want to scream on top of her lungs. She never knew what all that was about, until her classmates start dropping dead and the hot guy from school suddenly shows his interest in her.

Nash, the love interest in this book, wasn't working for me. I have no idea why, but something felt off.. And I don't know what and that's annoying me to no end. I wanted to slap him at times, and I don't think I was supposed to feel like that.. A character I did like, someone who only appeared a couple of times, is Tod. We don't know too much about him yet, only that he, ahem, works at a hospital, but I'd really like to see more of him in the next book(s).

My Soul to Take is very fast paced, exciting and had that power of sucking me in and not being able to put the book down. It's a great way to start of the series, and if I can trust that the first book is an indication for what's to come in the sequels, I know for a fact that Rachel Vincent has just gotten a new fan.

My overall rating:

Four stars for the first book in the Soul Screamers series - with hopefully more Tod to come!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (57)

Another Sunday, another In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where we show what book(ish thing)s we got this week. Another small week for me, so it's still going great! Here's this week's vlog :)

For review


Physical copy

If you've been following me on the blog, youtube or twitter, you already know that I want to read some classics, since I didn't really have that opportunity during school. I saw this one on the 24 hours sale on Bookdepository and picked it up, so hopefully I'll enjoy that one! Raven is free for Kindle currently, here's a linkie :) 

What did you get in your mailbox this week? Happy reading :) 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 
Published: September 9th, 2006
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 229
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge
Other: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washedup child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.
After reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Looking for Alaska, I was hungry for more books by John Green. Everyone is talking about how Alaska is his best book to date, but I disagrree. I liked Katherines more, even though they are quite close on my list.

John Green has this gift of writing a very intelligent novel, with very intelligent characters and somehow managing to not make you, as the reader, feel stupid. I've said it before, but I still think this is quite an accomplishment. Other authors would have lost me in the math equations and Colin's need for putting stuff into something needlessly difficult, but I was sucked into the story. I have to admit that I skimmed over some of the longer quations though - but only after I read John's footnote, telling me it was okay to not fully figure out all the math problems. Hey, I didn't want to miss out!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the footnotes. There were so many, but each one was either interesting or hilarious. I particularly enjoyed the one that explained what paardenlul means, since I am Dutch. They fitted so well with the story, both with the storyline as with Colin's need to make everything an anagram or theorem, and his huge knowledge of stuff normal people would never know, but he would because he read it *somewhere*. Colin was a tad hard to relate to for me, but I found him to be very well developed, an wonderfully made that he felt real. I had more of a connection with the other characters, either with Hassan and his jokes, or with Lindsey. I really liked her and I loved how she was involved in the story and Colin's need to prove theories of any size.

The dialogue was funny and very well written. Sometimes I'd notice that he writes his sentences really short, but it worked with the story and I absolutely loved reading it. For me, it was better than Alaska mainly because I didn't feel like I missed out on some closure one way or another. This story was complete. I really enjoyed reading it and I'm excited to pick up Paper Towns, which I will do before The Fault in our Stars releases in January.

My overall rating:

Four stars for Colin, Hassan and Lindsey - whose witty characters made me thoroughly enjoy The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

On My Wishlist (20)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres.

Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
Publication date: March 1st, 2011 (Australia)

Retra doesn't want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night. Retra is a Seal - sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn't crave parties and pleasure like all the others. But her brother left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him.

Braving the pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she's ever known, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures - but its secrets are deadly.

Goodreads page

I wanted this book as soon as I saw it for the first time. Unfortunately, it's only published in Australia and even though there's a campaign to get it to the US, so far, I haven't heard of a publication date in the US (BOO!). It sounds brilliant, the cover is gorgeous and the Booktubers who have been reviewing this book have nothing but good things to say about it. I want it! I need it! Now! So please publishers, get this book published outside of Australia too - don't keep all the goodies for yourself!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon by Meg Cabot 
Published: April 26th, 2011
Publisher: Point
Pages: 304
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge 
Other: First book in the Abandon Trilogy. The second book, Underworld, will be published in May 2012.
Video review: YouTube
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away... especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

After reading the synopsis of this book, I was incredibly excited. The myth of Persephone! I started reading this one with very high expectations, and perhaps that is why I wasn't as excited when I finished.

We are in Piece's head during the story and we follow her when she goes to her new school, as well as through the flashbacks that show us how she became who she is now. She escaped Death by escaping the Underworld and now someone wants her back there. Pierce is a nice character. She feels real, and I liked following her around. She was stubborn when she had to be, but she could also be very naive at points. The reason that she died was that she tried to rescue a bird from the swimming pool and she would probably do it again if she saw it happening once more.

My problem with this book was that we would often land in some kind of memory, a flashback of what happened before, while we were in the middle of a conversation or when something was happening. For me, it was thoroughly confusing at times because I missed the whole transfer to a second location when we were in the middle of such a scene. These memories were often quite important to the story, so I understand that they had to be included in the book, but I would have appreciated a different placement of those scenes to help the story form instead of slowing it down. There was one particular scene that had me confused, and it was after the gym assembly. I honestly thought that we were still there, when I was suddenly told that we were now in the counsellor's office. It bothered me while reading, and took away a lot of enjoyment from the story.

Having said that, I liked Cabot's twist on the myth of Persephone. I liked what she did with the characters and I was particularly fond of John. Even though he's a difficult character, I think it goes well with his, ahem, job description and I appreciated his actions because of that. He had some Edward-esque tendencies, but nothing that put me off too much. I read the entire book in one day, so that tells you a lot about the readability of this book. The only thing that bothered me was, like I said before, the in my eyes weird placement of the memories and flashbacks. Other than that, I thought it was an enjoyable story and I will be picking up Underworld when it comes out.

My overall rating:

Three out of five stars for Pierce and John. I'll be looking forward to visiting you in Underworld!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (56)

Another Sunday, another In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where we show what book(ish thing)s we got this week. Another small week for me (=good), but I still manage to talk too much.. Here's this week's vlog :)

For review:

Samples from Amazon:

Physical copies:

Veryyyyyyyy excited with this week's IMM! Small, but good! Looking forward to reading everything I got - but I don't think I'll get to it this month as NaNoWriMo is still eating all my time.. I haven't even finished a book this month! Which is totally ridiculous. I'm planning to take today off and spend all Sunday in bed reading and watching So You Think You Can Dance tonight. Sounds brilliant if you ask me.. 

I might have done a little happy dance when Shatter Me was finally delivered. It is SO PRETTY! *hugs the pretty* Ahem. Yes, I'm very happy with my books *snuggles them all*

That's it for me this week, what did you get in your mailbox this week? Happy reading :) 

Friday, November 18, 2011

[Update] NaNoWriMo 2011

It's week three of NaNo and I'm still on schedule of making it to that 50,000 words on the last day of November! Huzzah! If I'm being really honest with you, I'm really proud of myself. I write this the day before it is published on my blog, so it's Thursday, and I just cracked 35,000 words. Thirty-five thousand! I have a hard time believing that I've already written so many words, especially when I think of last year and the fact that I basically gave up after writing 20k.

Even though my wordcount is still going up almost every day, it's not as easy as it was in the beginning when the month started. I have an outline, sure, but I found mistakes in the outline so I had to figure out how to fix it before I could continue. And yes, I know that you can call that an outline fail.

But even with the pieces of the outline that were good, I would have problems implementing certain stuff that had to happen in order to make the plot work. It's hard, I'm not going to lie. The most difficult are the transition scenes that take me from one important part to another. I constantly feel stupid when I write the really simple stuff and when I read it back (which I tend to avoid for exactly this reason) I feel even worse. It's not interesting enough for me, but I have to keep going because I am the kind of person who can get stuck on something like a dinner conversation that doesn't contribute to the plot or the development of the characters.

When I look at Twitter and the message boards I'm active on, I feel like I'm one of the few who is still going. I'm not even exaggerating - the people I started writing with (from various forums) on November 1st have all stopped writing, with a few exceptions. I will keep writing anyway, but it would have been nice to have some more fellow writers around me :) So let me know if you're still going!

So.. How is my story getting along? Well, slowly but surely I'm getting to the exciting parts of the book which means I get to write ACTION SCENES!! *woopwoop!* There hasn't been much action in the beginning of the story, mostly build-up so to say (with a scene that made me cry while writing it), but the next couple of thousand words are going to make up for it. Action, adventure.. Excitement! YES! As you can see, I'm very excited to get to that part. I feel like it will be easier for me to write, because everything has a purpose. I don't do well on stuff that doesn't lead anywhere in the story.

That said, I am at 35k and I'm at almost 50% of my outline, which means that if I keep going like this, my book will need 80k - 90k to be complete (my outline isn't complete yet - I'm missing the ending). That's a LOT of words. I won't be able to write them all during November, but I'll just keep writing in December with what I've already written before.

That's all for my update this week :) Let me know if you're still going - we can cheer each other on! Maybe you won't make it to 50k (I'm still not convinced I could actually make it this year), but you started the story that's been in your head for a while. You've written words. Most of all, you're surrounded by people who are also struggling to get the words on paper - or the screen. We're all in the same boat! And every word written, is a word won - because you wouldn't have written it if you weren't participating in NaNo. I firmly believe that!

Write on, Wrimos!! *sends the good writing vibes*

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published: May 1st, 2004
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 374
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge, 350 Page Books Challenge
Other: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she'll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.
Sarah Dessen's magic formula is still working its way into girls hearts and The Truth About Forever was another good story. But if I'm being honest, the story lacked the spark that hooked me on Lock and Key and This Lullaby.

Macy is basically working for her mother when she needs her for her events, trying to keep up with her grades and to top that off, she has a boyfriend who has some intimacy issues. She's pretty stressed out when she has to take over her boyfriend's job at the library, because two of his friends are being less than friendly towards her. All of that changes when she decides to help out Wish when they are struggling to get everything done at the party Macy's mom is throwing. She helps out, and rolls into a job pretty quickly. It all takes from there when she realizes that she is now working with Wes, a lovely guy with his own problems.

I really liked reading the story, but the reason I didn't love it was because I didn't feel connected to the characters at all. Macy doesn't want Jason's job at the library, yet does it anyway and takes whatever crap his two female friends throw at her. If you don't want it, don't do it! I was very annoyed by that. What also didn't help was that I absolutely hated Jason's guts. He has some intimacy issues, sure, but he is downright rude to Macy when she tries to work on their relationship and only tries to make it up to her when it's too late.

I couldn't feel what the characters were feeling, something that Dessen brought across wonderfully in Lock and Key, immediately skyrocketing it to a spot among my favorite books ever. It missed a spark, and while I still liked it, I have to say that this is my least favorite Sarah Dessen book to date. I have three more of her books though, and I'll make sure to read the other three as well - because I think Sarah is a wonderful author. This book just didn't touch me like I wanted it to.

My overall rating:

Four stars for Macy and Wess - and hopefully a lot more stars for Sarah's other books :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coming up: Get read-y for 2012!

We're getting closer and closer to 2012! For me, that means that there will be a lot of exciting new titles coming out, and of course I want all zeh pretties because of reasons. But when I look at my TBR pile, and then mainly the part of it that consists of review books, I get a little stressed. The pile is huge, and I want to be able to read all the new books, too! But I don't want to ignore the books I got for review, either.. *slight panic*

Even though I know December is filled with a lot of holidays, I want to use the last month of 2011 to catch up on my review pile. I don't want to feel guilty about grabbing a 2012 title when I haven't read my 2011 review books! So what's the solution? Get that review pile out of the way. *mows pile off the desk with one arm swipe*

In December, the blog will focus on reducing the to-read books that you might have lying around, waiting for you to read them. The goal is to start 2012 with a small, manageable pile of books that will also allow you to be able to pick up new titles. To make a long story short: We're getting read-y for the new year.

There will be weekly check-ins, and yes, there will be a giveaway even though that is completely counterproductive. The only thing I ask from you if you want to join, is that you fill in the Mr Linky that I will post on December 1st along with the introduction post.

Already excited? Grab the button below (I'd appreciate it if you save it on your own computer and then upload it yourself) and post it on your Facebook or blog or wherever else you want to. The more people who join, the merrier!

Get read-y for 2012 will last for the entire month of December, meaning we start with a kickoff on December 1st and closing off on December 31st. Reduce that TBR or review pile!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan 
Published: October 4th, 2011
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 513
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge, 350 Page Books Challenge
Other: Second book in the Heroes of Olympus series, which is a sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. There will be five books in this series, with the third installment, The Mark of Athena, being published in Fall 2012.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Please note that this is a review for the second book in a series and may contain spoilers if you haven't read The Lost Hero yet. Reading is at your own risk.

Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth.

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem—when the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her "gift" for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn't say no.

Franz is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes, but his bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely—enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.
Prepare for a gushy and fangirly review.

When this book was delivered, I was ecstatic. I don't do many happy dances when I get books in, but this one got the most extravagant one of them all. And then came the big question: should I read it right away? Or should I wait a bit so the wait for book three wouldn't be so long? Of course, I picked the first, read it, and am now going insane at the thought of 11 months of waiting before The Mark of Athena comes out.

The Son of Neptune followes three different half-bloods in their quest after we've met Jason, Leo and Piper in book 1. One of the half-bloods is an old friend, and I was so excited to finally see him again. But don't worry; Frank and Hazel get equal parts of importance in the story!

I thought it was wonderful to see a different side to the gods that were only shown from their 'bad side' (for lack of a better word) and to see that they are not superficial. We got to see their different personas, not only by seeing the Greek gods in their Roman forms, but by seeing their individual characters.

Riordan did not disappoint in his storytelling, his dialogue and most of all, his humor. It was exciting to read, fast paced but filled with so much humor. I found myself laughing out loud several times, which earned me a couple of Evil Eyes from my sister, but I don't mind. The story is absolutely brilliant and I love what Riordan did with the Amazons. It was equally hilarious as it was brilliant!

For me personally, the characters really come alive. They all have their distinctive habits, characters and appearances and I could (once again) fully visualize the story. It was like I was watching a movie or simply being there. I haven't experienced that since I read Harry Potter and that's possibly the biggest compliment that I can give The Son of Neptune.

I absolutely loved everything about SoN. It was bloody brilliant and I think that everyone should read it!! My favorite quote was the one with the horse and Frank (those who read it will know which one I mean). Fan-freaking-tastic, this book is! Ever since I closed the book, I've been wanting to open it and read it again and again and again. The wait for the next installment might kill me...

Even though it is marketed as a spinoff series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I wouldn't recommend reading these books before PJO. Sure, it's possible, but you miss so many little remarks that Riordan has put into his story towards what happened in the first series. I'd suggest reading them all - they are so worth it. And you want the full experience with this one, believe me!

My overall rating:

Come on, did you honestly think that I might give it less stars? This one deserves all the stars!

Monday, November 14, 2011

On My Wishlist (19)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: Crank by Ellen Hopkins.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Publication date: October 4th, 2004

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina -- she's fearless.
Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul -- her life.

Goodreads page

So I know that this one has been out for several years, but since I don't actually have the money to buy any more books, it's on my wishlist until I have. I've been wanting to pick up one of Ellen's books for a while now and I am intrigued by the fact that she writes her books in verse. I've heard that this story is quite harsh and intense, and I cannot wait to finally get my hands on a copy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (55)

Another Sunday, another In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where we show what book(ish thing)s we got this week. My week was aaaaaaah-mazing! Lots of books and GREAT ONES, too! Excited!! Here's this week's vlog :)

Kindle (from NetGalley):

Kindle (for review):

Physical copies:
(Dutch - translated from Swedish) (won)

BIG thank you to Ashley (linkie to her blog!) for hosting her EPIC giveaway which allowed me to win Daughter of Smoke and Bone! I am so looking forward to reading it :) *hugssss*

I am soooooo excited about all the books I got this week. This week was amazing and I only bought a small part of all the books that I got in this week so YAY me! I am so looking forward to reading my new awesome books. They look so pretty on the shelf!

Anyhoo, I'll end this post before I spend the next fifteen minutes gushing about the awesome that is my mailbox of this week ;) 

What did you get in your mailbox this week? Happy reading :)

PS: You can now grab a button for Loving Books in the sidebar! *proud*

Friday, November 11, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins 
Published: September 29th, 2011
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 338
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge
Other: Companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss. There will be another companion, Isla and the Happily Ever After, which will be published in 2012.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

When I found out that Stephanie Perkins was writing not one, but two companion novels to Anna and the French Kiss, I squealed with joy! How awesome would it be to read the companions. And Perkins didn't disappoint.

Lola is way more out there than Anna was. Lola loves extravagant fashion and looks like a different person every day. I couldn't really relate to that, but I liked Lola nontheless. She's a feisty character, but there have been some things in the past that she hasn't gotten over. Yet.

Because when Calliope and Cricket move back into the neighborhood, everything is upside down again. Lola has some unfinished business with the both of them - and I won't tell you anything else about the book because I want you to pick up a copy for yourself.

Cricket was a lovely character - but I have to be honest and ask myself 'Cricket? Really?' - and I really liked his personality. He was funny, sweet, nerdy, honest and such a lovely guy. I loved the fact that he was always busy, inventing stuff. I loved that he was a little shy when he was around Lola - I thought that was so cute! Should I gush on?

Was it as awesome as Anna? Personally, I don't think so. But I loved Lola almost as much and it was definitely equally entertaining. Perkins' writing is easy to read, thoroughly entertaining and just plain fantabulous!

My overall rating:

Five big fat stars for Lola - and hopefully we'll see more of her in Isla!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On My Wishlist (18)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Expected publication date: January 24th, 2012

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Goodreads page

Unearthly was a pleasant surprise for me when I read it - I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. And I can't imagine the sequel to be any less good! I've grown particularly fond of Tucker, but I am curious to see what happens between Clara and Christian, as well. I'm sure the cover art will be just as stunning as the first book, which will mean that this image does not do the actual cover justice. But anyhoo, I'm really looking forward what Clara will do next! It's one of the few angel books (series) that I really like so that makes it extra special!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

[Update] NaNoWriMo 2011

When I write this, NaNoWriMo is exactly a week underway (it is Monday when I type this) and people are starting to panic that they won't make their goal. Other people are celebrating their X amount of words and write like they're being chased by a rocket. They have one thing in common: they all write

And that's what I've done for the past week, too. I wrote. And I wrote some more. And then I outlined some more, thought of characters, places, small plotlines and important dialogue. I researched until 2 in the morning and then I wrote some more. Needless to say, I'm so thankful that I can just wear my writers uniform while I spend my days becoming more and more like a zombie sitting behind my laptop. 

So.. How is my NaNo going? Up until now, I must say that it all goes very fast. Days go by very quick, with me in a position that's similar to the one in the picture below.

Either that, or I'm typing. My outline is 14 pages long at the moment, with numerous post-its stuck to the outlining with notes on it like in what tense I should write (Me and I do not agree on this. I have found post-its with 'PRESENT TENSE' and 'write everything in past tense' in my notes.) and character traits that I still need to type out in Scrivener. I have drawn several maps, have four pages filled with names alone, and have found some things that I need to tackle in the sequel (yes, you read that right).

Which brings me to my saviour of this month: SCRIVENER, I LOVE YOU. I downloaded the trial version and immediately fell in love with it. Somewhere last week I decided that I wanted to add another POV, which meant that I had to add several chapters and had to shuffle some stuff around. Scrivener is genius and saved me with this. How? SPLIT LEVELS! OMG, I can't give this software enough praise. It's frigging fantastic!

But, back to the writing before this post turns into a Scrivener ad. I have written my ass off in the past couple of days, and with result: on Monday at 4 PM, I reached 20,000 words. I passed 20k! That's the total amount I wrote in 2010 so I'm super proud of myself. *happy dances around the room*

It is hard work, writing 50,000 words. Hard work doesn't really cover it. A word more fitting would be 'crazy'. Or possibly 'insane'. But it's also a lot of fun. I love seeing other people tweet about their wordcount, people posting shout-outs on one of the forums when they reach 5k or 50k, doing the sprints and talking about what we love. Books, writing, reading, TV shows.. I love the forums. I love the people who post on there. We're a writing community and it's SO awesome to talk with others about minor characters that suddenly take over the limelight and turn into main characters, love interests we didn't know where there, and bunnies (the bunnies are always there).

Because if you're participating in NaNo, it's about writing 50k, but mainly it's about having fun while writing. The 50k is just a challenge. If you're ahead of schedule; YAY! GO YOU! If you're behind, remember that everything that you wrote wouldn't have been written if you didn't participate in NaNo. Even though you may not make it to that goal of writing fifty thousand, you wrote when you wouldn't normally have written. Which means that with every word you wrote, you won.

Write on, WriMos!

PS: I apologize for the (lack of) structure in this post. It is all over the place, which is a perfect representation of my current state of mind. I had cookies to celebrate reaching 20k. The sugar is doing its work..

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 
Published: May 5th, 2008
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 479
Challenge: 100+ Reading Challenge, 350 Page Books Challenge, YA Series Challenge
Other: First book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy. Book two and three, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Menare already published. The film rights for The Knife of Never Letting Go were acquired by Lionsgate earlier this year.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

This book turned out to be so much better than I thought it would be. Thanks Stacey for recommending this one to me! I've never read anything like it and it was absolutely brilliant!

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men - a town of men who can all hear each others thoughts in a constant stream of Noise. You can't hide what you're thinking in Prentisstown and the Noise in his town is incredibly violent. It's driving Todd insane. When he is forced to flee the town, he and his dog Manchee (LOVE!) are out in the wild without the constant Noise for the first time ever - but of course it's not all that easy and with a girl in tow, a strange, silent creature, they go out to find a safe place to stay - with all the dangers that come with it.

Ness has written his story in a way that couldn't have been a more perfect fit for the story. You're reading the book like you're amid the Noise. It's written as if you are hearing Noise yourself - Todd's thoughts are often all over the place and full stops are not something that's in his vocabulary. It takes a little while to get used to, but I loved it and I thought it was brilliant that the Noise was also audible with animals ('Poo, Todd? Poo?') and the Spackle.

I felt connected to Todd, Manchee ('Ow, Todd? Ow?') and was completely engaged in the story. The bad guy in the story was really well developed and it was nice to see that with some of the 'bad guys' in the story, the Noise showed that they were not all bad. They had feelings, they had a past, which made them the way they are. And they had good reason for that, too.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a rollercoaster ride that I can't wait to continue. Packed with lies, brutal honesty, danger, adventure and Noise, I think I may have found a new favorite series.

My overall rating:

Four and a half stars for Todd - I'm SO curious to see what happens next - fingers crossed that the mailman will bring book 2 soon!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (54)

Another Sunday, another In My Mailbox! In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where we show what book(ish thing)s we got this week :) It was a GREAT week for me this week in terms of books, so good actually, that I will be showing a couple of books that I got in this week in next week's video. Here's this week's vlog :)

Kindle (all from NetGalley):
Street Dreams by Tama Wise
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Physical copies:
The Passage by Justin Cronin 
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Wolven: The Twilight Circus by Di Toft (Dutch version)
Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (Dutch Version)
Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey
by Bob McCabe 

Aaaaaah all the awesome! I can't even..!! SO excited for everything that I got this week. I almost went insane when I got Harry Potter Page to Screen in (only its weight held me back - that book is HEAVY!) but it is so BEAUTIFUL! Every Potterhead will love this book, I'm sure of it. 

But don't let that appear like I don't like the rest of the books that I got in this week! It's been an amazing week and I got so many great galleys as well! I mean, Hallowed, people!! I cannot wait to get more of Tucker!! And, euhm, of the other characters, of course. 

Anyhow, that's what I got in my mailbox this week! What did you get in yours? Happy reading :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Review: XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr 
Published: January 6th, 2011
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 325
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge 2011, 100+ Reading challenge
Other: First book in the XVI series. The second book, Truth, will be published on January 19th, 2012.
Buy the book: Bookdepository

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world-even the most predatory of men-that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past-one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

This is a hard review for me to write. I'm going to be bluntly honest with you and say that most of the time I couldn't care less about what happened to the characters. Let me explain.

XVI is a story based in a world where girls are 'legal' when they turn sixteen. They get a wrist tattoo, to show everyone around them that they can have sex. They say it's for safety, but broadcasting sixteen year-olds like they are walking adverts is of course not a way to keep those girls safe. Speaking of adverts - that's what society lives with. Constantly loud and blinking images of commercials that are broadcasted in the streets. There's no room for quiet and people seem to go insane with the noise.

Here's why I couldn't relate to the characters. There was a lot of time spent describing the world Nina lives in and how people live in that world. There was a lot of describing the environment in it, but for me, it didn't bring anything extra. In the beginning of the book something happens that's illegal, and it's told with all sorts of slang and words and abbrevations of which I had no clue what they meant. It turned out to be quite important in the story, but I didn't know what the characters were talking about until I was a long way into the story. At that point I was mostly confused and focusing on understanding what happens, which resulted in me not caring about the characters.

I guess Nina is quite a nice character - it seems she has a backbone and personality. But I only came to care for her as a character when I was well over two-thirds into the story. She was a believable character, feisty, smart, but not too out there. She didn't immediately throw her beliefs overboard when she heard stuff that didn't work with how the world worked. I liked that.

The story picked up and worked towards a plot near the ending and I quite enjoyed reading that ending. It was exciting and the climax was good. Karr made up for my lack of connection with the characters in the last part of the book and I have to say that I'm actually quite excited for Truth to come out in January (I have already preordered it!) to see where the story goes.

My overall rating:

Three stars for Nina's world - but I promise to be back for the sequel!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011!

It's November! Which means that I will participating in NaNoWriMo again! What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? Well, National Novel Writing Month! You basically try to write as much as you can towards a goal of 50,000 words. It doesn't matter if those words are crap! Shut up your inner editor and just write. You can do it! Here's more info: NaNo website and if you want to add me as a writing buddy, my username is lvngbooks :)

If you're a nosy person like I am, you're probably wondering why I join and what I'm going to write about. Well, I join because it gives me the opportunity to write write write and not think about anything else. It gives me the opportunity to add purple squids, a crazy monkey, guys who talk in game terms, wicked dreams and evil teachers without thinking 'does this contribute to my plot?'. I love that! Last year, I didn't reach my goal. But I did manage to write over 20,000 words - which was a record for me! I've never written anything longer than, say, 2,500 words - not counting my thesis. The support from fellow NaNo-ers is amazing and the wordsprints are crazy fun!

Like last year, I will be writing a YA story, but this time I've picked a dystopian novel for my story. I don't want to say too much about it, but it's a dystopian thriller, first book in a trilogy (I thought of so much awesome stuff that I couldn't possibly fit that into one book - unless it has 1,500 pages) and at the moment, my main character is still nameless. Which is sad, really.

I've spent days outlining this story and have a storyline up until around 3/4 of the book, along with an ending. I have an idea where it needs to go in between, but I guess I'll see that along the road. I've been outlining, thinking of characters (both names and fleshing them out), themes, drawing maps and all kinds of awesome stuff. I've been researching trees, wicked places and music in order to make this one a success. Because I am determined to make it this year!

So if you don't see as much of me around here, that's why. I have scheduled reviews and other fun stuff, and I'll probably be on twitter anyway, but if it's quiet for a while.. You know what I'm doing. Writing. Or drooling over Eric and Alcide when I decide that writing can wait and hot guys come first.

Are you participating in NaNo this year? If so, what's your story idea? Have you outlined? Or will you just go with the flow when you start writing? Nosy girl is nosy!

Cartoon images: Errol Elumir for NaNoWriMo.org 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October wrap up

And that's the end of another month! October was a decent month in terms of reading, even though I'm in a bit of a reading funk the last week. I'm sure it'll all be good soon! It's getting colder outside so I'll be snuggling up with my blanket a lot, methinks :)

October was a decent reading month! I managed to read 9 books, even though I'm in a little bit of a reading funk right now. I have only read 200 pages in 8 days! Really need to pick up my reading again.. This doesn't feel right!

Having read 9 books this month makes my total of this year 116 books read. According to my Goodreads Reading Challenge widget, I'm 18 books ahead of schedule to read 120 books in 2011 (and to think I wasn't sure I would make it to 100 - I might have to up it again!) Some stats: I have read 116 books this year, which equals 40,664 pages read so far in 2011. That pagecount is rapidly going up! I was thinking of making my reading goal 50,000 pages instead of an X amount of books, but I'm not sure if I can read almost 10,000 pages in two months... So I might have to settle for less.

Here's this month's wrap up video :)

Read in October

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Abandon by Meg Cabot

Started but not yet finished
Tankborn by Karen Sandler
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Dear Mr. Potter edited by Lily Zalon

This month's winner is without a doubt The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. That man is a genius! Seriously, if you haven't read Percy Jackson or if you have, but you haven't started The Heroes of Olympus yet, I really recommend you do. I'm going all kinds of fangirly over this book but it's well deserved!! *stalks everyone*

But having said that, I have to add that it was a great month for reading. I only had one book that I was a bit 'meh' about (Abandon by Meg Cabot - but I will still read the sequel!) but other than that, I really liked the rest!

Anyhow, that's it for my wrap up this month! What did you read this month? What book was your favorite? Did you have any disappointing titles? If you have recommendations, please let me know in the comments! :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...