Thursday, August 30, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury


Book:  Origin
Author:  Jessica Khoury
Publisher:  Razorbill
Date:  September 4, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  B-

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home—and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin—a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of Matched with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of Lost
.  (Cover and description from www.goodreads.com)

MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……..

Title and Cover
I liked both of them.  The cover is interesting and stands out from the crowd of fancy dress covers.  The title is mysterious, yet it gives you an idea of what might be contained in the book.  It works.

What’s the Story?
First, let me say that the premise of this book is amazingly original.  There is an original mythology tied into the ultimate human quest:  the quest for immortality.  I loved the whole concept.  It was beautifully woven together.

There were lots of emotions in this book as well.  I was wary, ecstatic, overwhelmed, appalled, shocked, delighted and horrified at different times throughout the story.  I love it when a book can cause me to experience so many emotions.

I liked quite a few of the characters as well.  Pia is a likeable, if very na├»ve, protagonist.  Even though she does some really dumb things at times, she is so sheltered and brainwashed even, that as a reader, I sympathized with her even when I cringed at her choices and behaviors.  I especially liked Aunt Harriet and Uncle Antonio and all of the Ai’oans.  Many of the animals felt like characters as well and that was a nice dimension.  Even the jungle itself felt alive.

So by now, some of you are going “Wait!  You have given this book a B-, but you’re saying all these great things?”  Yes, alas, that is true.  Why?  Because all of these great things happened, for the most part, in the last 100 pages of a 400 page book!!!!  Honestly, there were a few times when I wondered if I would ever finish this crazy book!  This book meanders around more than a slow flowing river through the jungle, people!  I just kept wondering when she was going to get to the whole point of the novel!  Now, once I hit those last 100 pages, I could not put this book down, but I had to fight through the first 300 pages to get there.  NOT. FUN.

I wish that she had tightened up the plot somewhat.  I’m not sure what or how that needed to happen, but some editor should have cut some major page amounts out of this book and I think it would be a thrilling page-turner. 

And the bonus?  This book has a native jungle hottie!  Woo hoo!  Not many books can say that!

The Soundtrack

Of course, the first song that came to mind really has nothing to do with this book, but I had to put it on the soundtrack.
Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n Roses


This one is sort of funky and fun, so why not?

Jungle Fever by the Chakachas


This song is a little too upbeat for the storyline, but the words fit so well and it is so jungle-y.

Right by Your Side by The Eurythmics


The quintessential 80’s band, singing a song for the main male character!

Jungle Boy by Bow Wow Wow


 

The final grade
My final grade for this one is a B-.  I just can’t get over how much I struggled to conquer the first part of the book.  However, I’m glad that I did because it paid off in the end, but if you are an impatient reader, you might not be able to stick it out.  If you do manage, you’ll be very glad you did.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday






Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is:


Top Ten Bookish Confessions

1.        I treat books terribly
I really do.  Many, many of my books are stained and crumpled.  The pages get torn and I spill drinks on so many of my books.  Some of them have oil or other ingredients on them from when I read and try to cook dinner and soda, tea and coffee grace many covers and pages of my book collection.  I just can’t put my books down, so they get dragged through whatever I am doing.

2.        I always rack up library fines.
This drives my husband crazy!  To quote him “You’re a librarian!  Aren’t you supposed to be against that sort of thing?”  It’s just that I’m not always finished with the books and sometimes it’s hard to find time to get back to the library.  But I always pay them, so that’s something, right?

3.        I cannot stop buying books.
I think this one is common, but I currently have around 75 actual books sitting in my bedroom on the floor that I have not read and I have about that many again on my Nook, all just waiting for me to read them.  I will probably die with stacks of unread books in my house.  ::sighs::  I hope that God allows them to come to heaven.

4.        There are a bunch of “classics” that I have not read.
I have never read the following books:  The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Animal Farm, The Sound and the Fury or any Lord of the Rings books.

5.        I hate classics, mostly.
I don’t want to read books that are just too hard to get through.  I don’t care if that makes me seem less intelligent.  I want to read to escape from hard stuff in life, and so I don’t want to read something that requires a lot of work.  Except, I do love Jane Austen.  

6.        I have never read any books by Nicolas Sparks and I never intend to.
Just like my avoidance of more “literary” novels, I don’t want to sit and read a book and cry or get depressed.  If people are dying of cancer, I’m not going to read it.  Period.

7.        I have a Nook, but I want a Kindle also.
Yes, that is excessive, but let me explain why.  Sometimes there are books that Amazon has that B & N doesn’t.  Also, I have found many books on sale at Amazon that are full price still on my Nook.  So I want both of them.  ::ducks head::

8.        I will put my pre-schooler in front of the TV so that I can finish reading a book.
Ok, this one really is shameful, but I have let her watch TV all day so that I could read a book.  I realize I will not be winning the mother of the year award this year.  But on the bright side,  she loves to read because she sees me enjoying it.

9.        Sometimes, I read when I’m driving…..
Ok, not actually on the road, but I have been so into a book that I will read at traffic lights.  I don’t recommend doing this.

10.    I have written papers about books that I never read.
When I was a senior in high school, I actually wrote 2 papers about books, Brave New World and The Hobbit, and I had not read either one of the books.  I used the information on the back cover and a little other information from the library and made up the rest of it.  I made A’s on both papers.  Sorry Mr. Secreast!  ::hangs head in shame::



Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Recommend a........



Recommend A...... is sponsored by Chick Loves Lit .  Every Monday, I just recommend one book that meets the weekly criteria!  Hooray!


This week's prompt is.......

RECOMMEND A BOOK WITH A CHARACTER WHO PLAYS A SPORT

As soon as I read this prompt, this is the book that immediately came to my mind!


This is one of those fun, sort of light-hearted reads that leaves you smiling at the end.  Although it did have more substance than I thought it would have at first.  You can read my review here.

I'm very excited about Miranda Kenneally's next book, which is also sports-related.

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

This book will be available from Sourcebooks Fire on October 1, 2012

So, what sporty characters have caught your eye?  What do you think of mine?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blogspiration



Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.

This week we have a prompt.  If you could invite any 7 people to dinner, who would it be and where would you sit?

So I made a little invitation for my dinner party for you to check out:



What do you think of my list?  Who would you invite?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer


Book:  The Demon Catchers of Milan
Author:  Kat Beyer
Publisher:  Egmont
Date:  August 28, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Netgalley
My grade:  B+

Mia's ordinary life is disrupted in the most horrifying way possible when she is possessed by a hungry and powerful demon--and only saved by the arrival of relatives from Italy, the country her grandfather fled many decades ago. Now her cousins Emilio and Giuliano say the only way to keep her safe is for her to come back with them to Milan, to live, to learn Italian, to fall in and out of love, and to master the family trade: fighting all demons with the lore of bell, book, and candle. Milan is not what Mia expected, but it will change her forever, in this stunningly well-written novel about an American girl who, fleeing an ancient evil, finds her only salvation in her ancestral home. (Cover and description from www.netgalley.com)

Initial reaction
Are you freaking kidding me?  It just stopped there????

Title and Cover
The title is very catchy and I think will immediately draw in readers who go for this genre.  The cover wasn’t bad, especially since the candles are relevant to the plot.  I thought it was sort of pretty.

What’s the Story
First, let me say that the setting in this book is AMAZING!  I loved Milan and the Italians and all the culture of Italy!  Watching Mia master Italian and study the history of Milan was at least as interesting as the demons.  I feel like I learned a lot of passive knowledge about Italian culture and it just strengthened my resolve to learn to speak Italian someday.

Now, on to the plot.  I didn’t feel that the story dragged, because I couldn’t believe how quickly I read this book.  But when I got to the end, I was all “That’s it?”  I know there is a second book planned, but it felt like there was no wrap-up in this one.  It felt like this book was really setting the stage for what will come in the next one.  Now, that’s not necessarily bad, but I would have liked to see something else happen at the end, I’m just not sure what.

However, the premise was exciting.  I loved the whole demon possession thing and the family of demon catchers.  That was a really cool idea.  I also liked the way the methods have been passed in the family for hundreds of years.  The plot background was very well-established in this book and it held my attention really well, even though at the end it felt as if I had not moved far in terms of the story.

The characters were great.  I loved the big Italian family and Nonna and Nonno were just adorable!  I read a review where someone was grossed out about Mia’s “crush” on her cousin, Emilio.  I didn’t really see it as a crush as much as she was aware of the fact that he was very good-looking and thought that it was too bad he was her cousin.  There was never a hint of a romantic relationship between them and honestly, they were cousins that were so far removed that it wasn’t really a taboo thing.  I think she just appreciated his good looks and his personality.  ::shrugs::

I have to say that I DID miss some romance in this story.  I’m hoping there might be some in the next book.  I’m not a straight-up romance reader, but I like to have some sort of romantic interest in the plotline.  Plus, I’m dying for Mia to grow into her own skin and really start flirting with some Italian hotties! : )

I really liked Mia as the protagonist and I think we will see great things from her in the next book.  She was likeable and believable and it was nice to see her become more self-confident when she was out from under her sister’s shadow.

Songs
Come Back to Sorrento by Frank Sinatra


No book that is so full of Italian culture is complete without a Frank Sinatra song in the soundtrack, right?

Setting Sun by The Chemical Brothers


Creepy video!

Exorcism by Killing Joke


And of course…..

Theme song from The Exorcist



The final grade
My final grade is a B+.  I think this book is setting me up for what I hope is one roller coaster ride of a book in the next installment.  Even though this books wasn’t boring, I would have liked a little more meat to the story.  I’m crossing my fingers and anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday




  

Q: Worst cover? What is the worst cover of a book you've read and loved? 

There are 2 I mention all the time, so I'll go for one I've never mentioned before. 


Starters by Lissa Price

I really liked this book once I read it, but I kept putting it off because the cover was so, well, off-putting.  The girl looks a lot younger than the main character and there's no color and it really just looks like a bad photograph effect.  But I loved the book once I read it.  You can find my review here.  So, if you are avoiding this book because of this odd cover, go ahead and give it a chance!

What are the worst covers you've seen on books you loved?  Leave me a comment and tell me what it is.  Maybe I've been avoiding it too!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Defiance by CJ Redwine


Book:  Defiance
Author:  CJ Redwine
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Date:  August 28, 2012
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss
My grade:  A+

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.


MY REVIEW

Initial reaction
Awesome!  And I would fight disgusting, fire-breathing beasts too if it landed me a hottie like Logan!

Title and Cover
I loved them both.  The cover is so representative of the book and the girl on the cover actually IS the main character, Rachel.  And it’s gorgeous!

What’s the Story?
So, this book is sort of dystopian/fantasy like.  It takes place in an alternate world but I felt like it could have been my world, ya know?  So, there’s a tyrant king who rules with an iron fist, but he keeps all the people safe from the Cursed One, this gigantic fire-breathing beast that can completely destroy everything.  Sort of like Godzilla.  So our hero and heroine, Rachel and Logan, will be fighting against the tyrant and the beast, naturally.

Now, if you’re thinking that this sounds like any other fantasy/dystopian YA plot line, you might be a little bit right.  But this is not like any other book!

The plot was literally NON-STOP!  And dear Lord, the heartache these people suffered!  And the plots, twists and turns in the storyline were so wonderful.  There was so much action in this book that I did not want to put it down because I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

The characters were also great.  They were so well-written.  They had a lot of depth and even though each character was flawed in his or her own way, I grew to love most of them throughout the book.  The hardships these people suffered were devastating, yet many of them kept on fighting and surviving.  It was very inspiring.  I thought Rachel was such a strong lead female character.  She was independent and at times too stubborn for her own good, but she was also smart and strong and passionate.  Logan was a geeky tech nerd, but he was so smart and so good and I loved his unwavering loyalty toward those he loves.

This book is part of a series and I’m dying to read what happens next, but it still wraps up nicely In the end.  There is no strange cliffhanger drop off in the last sentence.  No, the story comes to a natural resting place and she ties up the books plot well while still leaving the overall storyline going.

This book really has everything.  It is well-written, with strong characters and a plot that is action-packed and full of heart.  I am so, so glad that I read this book.  And now I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

The Soundtrack

Mary’s Song by Taylor Swift


Even though there are some modern references in this song that don’t quite fit, the sentiment in this song works perfectly for Rachel and Logan.  The same is true for the next song.

The Gauntlet by The Dropkick Murphys

 

A Change is gonna come by Lauryn Hill


This song makes me think of Logan and his difficult childhood.

Blow Up the Outside World by Soundgarden


This song just sort of captures the way Logan and Rachel fight against the powers that be.

The Final Grade
My final grade for this book is an A+.  This is a smart, fast-paced novel that is full of action but has a lot of heart.  I closed the book feeling like I knew and loved the characters and hopeful for the next installment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is:


Top Ten Favorite Books You've Read During The Lifespan Of Your Blog

This was so, so hard!  But I finally narrowed it down to a list of 10 plus 3 honorable mentions.  I also tried to make sure that there is a good mix of genres.

Also, I need to say this up front.  Every single Cassandra Clare book that I've read would have made this list, but that would have taken up 4 spots, so I condensed it to one.  The same is true of the 2 Divergent novels.


















Josephine Angelini   Starcrossed







Leigh Bardugo   Shadow and Bone









Cassandra Clare 
 

 




Suzanne Collins   Mockingjay








John Green  Looking for Alaska





















Jodi Meadows  Incarnate











Veronica Roth   Divergent   Insurgent
 








Neal Shusterman   Unwind










Honorable Mentions



Cyn Balog   Touched









Andrea Cremer Rift










Robin Mellom  Ditched:  A Love Story









So, any of these that would make your top 10 list?  Would you take any of these off?  Leave me a comment and let me know!