(Re) Introduction post

Wow, it has been WAY too long since I last posted! I got a part-time job and have had a lot of school work, so a lot of what I've read these past three months have gone unreviewed. Hopefully I'll be able to straighten myself out and get started again!

What I've read since last posting includes:
The Heist Society by Allie Carter (audiobook)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy (audiobook)
How the Hangman Lost His Heart by K. M. Grant
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (audiobook)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire by Derek Landy
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy
Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer (audiobook)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days by Derek Landy
Death Watch by Ari Berk
Eragon by Christopher Paolini (almost done with audiobook)
Honey and Clover by Chica Umino (graphic novel)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil by Derek Landy
Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (audiobook)

I'm in the middle of a few more.

So yeah, I've been busy! Unfortunately, not all of these will be reviewed simply because it's been so long since I've read them, giving a proper review would be difficult. Heck, all of the Skulduggery Pleasant books will probably be done in one post due to their sheer number.

I will be participating in an In My Mailbox soon, seeing as I've acquired so many books over these past months and I feel compelled to share them.

So, I just wanted a more formal announcement to show that I am indeed still up and reading, albeit busy with with senior year of high school. This blog likely won't pick up again until late January, and even then will proceed at a snails pace due to my multiple AP classes, but thank you for hanging in there if you have!

Peace out!


Happy Ada Lovelace Day! A List of my Favorite Female Characters.

A late Ada Lovelace Day post is better than no Ada Lovelace post at all! Ada Lovelace Day is in dedication to all of the lovely ladies out there in science/ mathematics/ technology/ engineering, and is named for who is considered by many to have been the first computer programmer. Yeah, so chances are I wouldn't be writing/ typing this if it wasn't for Ms. Lovelace, so no doubt I should write a post in her honor.

Seeing as this is a book blog, I'm putting a different spin on things though, and instead of listing actual ladies here's a list of my top five favorite (in no particular order):

5) Clove (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
Her part was incredibly short, but Clove is still one of my favorite characters in the series. What really struck a chord for me with Clove was her brutality, namely in her scene attacking Katniss. It really defined, at least to me, what the Hunger Games was all about. Collins didn't want us forgetting that love doesn't fuel the hunger games, pain and anger does, and Clove defines that perfectly. Katniss and Peeta weren't the rule, they were the exception.

4) Offred (The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood)
Offred's narration of the life of a handmaid, flashing back now and again to her former life as a wife, mother, and working woman, is cold, tragic, and haunting. I think that almost every woman can see at least a little of themselves in Offred, whether we've been in a place similar to hers or not. She has a very observant and intelligent nature, something that is a crime for women in her world, and her thoughts on her new everyday life demonstrate that. She shows that you don't have to kick doors down, guns a'blazing to be a strong female protagonist.

3) Georgia Nicholson (Series of the same name by Louise Rennison)
Has she saved babies from a burning building? No. Has she jumped from helicopters or lead nations to revolution? No. Has she stalked boys at the local grocers with her best friends and stuffed lunch foods in her beret just to mess with her teachers? Yes, and that's why I love her. Rennison's books never fail to make me laugh out loud, and the snarky, teenage voice of her protagonist is spot-on and hilarious.

2) Holly Short (Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer)
One of the few women in her line of work, fearless, has a good head on her shoulders, strong, along with a bajillion other reasons are why Holly is always at the top of my favorite character lists. Her being an elf is irrelevant to me; she's a woman who I'd love to grow up to be like. Juliet Butler (same series) is in my top ten, for a lot of the same reasons as Holly combined with the witty teen girl quality that makes me wish she had shown up in the series more often.

1) Stephanie Edgley (Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy)
I hope that I'm not getting ahead of myself, seeing as I'm in the middle of book two of six, but I have a strong feeling that I'm not. I listened to the first SP book on my iPod while at work and loved it (along with the fact that the male narrator did three different voices for the three female characters, and did a pretty good job), and since I'm only through the first that's the one I'll be referring to.
The reason she makes number one sounds surprising, but I mean it in an honest and respectful way: I like her because she needed to be saved throughout the book. Before you flip tables in a Mary-Sue induced rage, I'll explain. The first book takes place over just a few days, where Stephanie goes from twelve-year-old, average, Irish schoolgirl to being thrust into a strange, magical world that she doesn't understand, full of things that can/ want to kill her. Instead of taking the route that many books seem to follow nowadays, and dumping a crazy-ton of magical powers in her lap and telling her to go to town, Landy sat down and thought for a moment: "Hmm. You know, granting a twelve-year-old supreme, ultimate power in two days is almost as unrealistic as my talking skeleton. Better scrap that idea." Stephanie needs saving, on more than one occasion, because she's a normal girl (well, mostly), and only after time and training does she hone her abilities.
Don't get me wrong, she has her time to shine (and definitely does, more than once), is witty, quick, caring, eager to help out where and when she can (despite her very-human setbacks compared to her magical counterparts), and has a thirst for knowledge relating to the new world that she's found herself in. Having been an average, magical-world-loving twelve-year-old myself, well, it's been a while since I've been able to relate to a character like I can Stephanie. As the books progress, so do any abilities of Stephanie's, so in a way the reader grows along with her, and it feels good knowing that I've only scratched the surface of the series.
*It's worth noting that, though they didn't make the list so that it didn't become clogged with characters from the same books, China Sorrows and Tanith Low of the SP series are two very powerful, important characters who've put years into their training and are respected in their world. Just because Stephanie is a fledgling to magic doesn't mean that the series lacks in ladies who can save themselves.

I hope that your Ada Lovelace day was a good one, and that soon I'll stumble across more great ladies to fill blog posts with!


Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop (6)

Follow Friday will be updated here when it pops up later, so this week starts with Book Blogger Hop from Crazy for Books!

Book Blogger Hop

“In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”?”

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. According to the ALA website: A parent had complained that the book has a “high volume of racially offensive derogatory language and misinformation on Native Americans. In addition to the inaccurate imagery, and stereotype views, the text lacks literary value which is relevant to today’s contemporary multicultural society."

Does it contain racial slurs? Yes, and the book was originally published in the thirties; racial slurs and comments in books that are deplorable today were perfectly normal in an older era, though that is no reason to ban a book. Any teens reading this, assuming that they are mature enough to read the book, should recognize that much.

Also, what is this about lacking value in today's society? I'm pretty sure that the person who made the complaint has never read one page of any edition of Brave New World ever published, ever. Between test-tube babies, a disregard for those who reject technology/ live "off the grid", recreational drug use, and little to no concern within society regarding one-night stands, Brave New World is an eerie portrait of the twenty-first century (at least, the Western world), and definitely a book that changed my life when I read it. 

Ahoy! NaNoWriMo Approaches!

(Picture from The Booksmith)

What does Water for Elephants, The Night Circus (pictured above), and dozens of other books all have in common? They had their humble origins as rough copies from NaNoWriMo.

This Saturday, October first, marks the date where the NaNoWriMo website reboots itself, letting members new and old alike come in and set up their pages before the fun, challenging, totally off-the-wall awesome event that is National Novel Writing Month.

If you have never heard of it, National Novel Writing Month is an event spanning all 31 days of November where a participant writes a 50,000 word novel (or rather, novella, but it is generally agreed in NaNoWriMo that "novel" is a cooler word.) That breaks down to around 1667 words a day to make the deadline, unless you are like me and blow through 10,000 in the final weekend.

I'm writing about it for two reasons:
1) I first learned of it a few years (four, to be precise) ago on a blog, and am now using my blogging abilities to spread the word further
2) The book bloggosphere has been up in arms with love for The Night Circus recently, and today it was revealed to me that not only has it hit the New York Times bestseller list, but it started when Erin Morgenstern decided to sit down and takes the challenge that thousands of other people just like you take every November

Needless to say, it isn't easy. But then again, most of the worthwhile things in life ever are. And you only need one thing to start: that tiny spark in the back of your mind that says "Yes, I can do this."


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer book trailer

The book trailer for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, which will be released next week on the 27th, has just been released and honestly it is one of my favorite book trailers. It plays out more like the preview for a movie or a show than a book, and there's no doubt that it's release to the public will be the talk of the year (or at least what's left of it.)

You can read my review of Unbecoming here, and you can watch the trailer below. The song is "Black Dog" by Kelli Schaefer:


Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop (5?)

I'm losing count, my days have been so busy recently D;

First is Follow Friday, from Allison Can Read and Parajunkee:

Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?

The only novel series that I constantly go back to is the Artemis Fowl series, which for many reasons I continue to mention here on Follow Friday. In my eyes, the series has a great plot, awesomely snarky humor, characters that I've grown to love/ loved since the first page, and is long enough to be satisfactory without feeling ripped off (final book, #8, is scheduled for next year.) I know that many times it's humor is seen as childish (and rightly so), and that the books are in both the childrens' room and YA section of my public library, but I swear I will go and see the movie even if I am forty when it comes out. 
Also, I put the graphic novel on a display stand in the childrens' graphic novel section while I was working last week, and had a happy-dance moment when I came in this week to find it gone. Another soul converted!

Next (as usual) is Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy for Books!

Book Blogger Hop

“As a blog reader, what information (besides the book review) do you like to see in other bloggers’ reviews of books? (For example – Author bio, social media links, book synopsis from Amazon/Goodreads or one written by the blogger, page count, ISBN number, link to purchase, etc.)”
I'm actually not that picky about it. I like seeing the publication date (and subsequently forget to put them in my own reviews), and the Goodreads link for the book. I'm on GR a lot, so I like to be able to click on a link at the bottom of an interesting review and be taken to the page so I can mark it to be read. Personally, I find author bio to be a bit unnecessary in a book review, and I'd rather those go on a separate post (about new and upcoming author posts, NYT bestseller posts, etc.)
As for which synopsis that I like, for a while I would write them on my own but recently switched to writing down the ones from the inside/ back cover of the books. That's obviously easier on my part, and I can then devote more time to writing the review itself. I see a lot of other book bloggers do it too.


Insurgent (Veronica Roth) cover revealed!

Mark your calender for May of 2012, because Veronica Roth has recently released the (very beautiful) cover for her next book, Insurgent, and I am spazzing out at the beauty of it.

They kept the set-up the same, with the symbol in the middle against the cityscape, but changed the color scheme to a darker, rather ominous green. If I'm being completely honest I like this cover more than the first one. I also like that they added the train, since it was such a big symbol in the first book, and it is finally getting the love it deserves.

You can send her some love herself on her blog, and you can read my review of the first book, Divergent, here.


Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop 4

Hello! If you are new here I am Emily, and this is my fourth Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday! Huzzah!

First up is Follow Friday by Parajunkee and Allison Can Read:


Q. It's that pesky magic book fairy again! She has another wish: What imaginary book world would you like to make a reality?
I really like fantasy series, and would love nothing more than to be able to trek out on my own magical, world-saving adventure. Something along the lines of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan or The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (both of which I will get through some day!)
Pulling inspiration from 

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books. This week's question is:

Book Blogger Hop

As a book blogger, how do you introduce yourself in your profile?
The first thing that I try to do is not to be misleading; everything in my profile is the truth, and the last thing that I want from people who read my profile is for them to think that I'm something that I'm not. 
Second, alongside the average such as name and the fact that I'm a student, is a few non-book-related things that I like to do. Obviously I read, and I figured that those who stumble across this blog would think as much, but I want people to see that I have other passions too. I've had people comment before on my love of geocaching and LEGO Star Wars, and it makes me happy to know that I have more in common with my readers than just reading and blogging.

And... That's it for this week! See you next Friday!


TGIF (last minute!)

I know that Friday's almost over, but I've seen the TGIF meme from GReads around on other book blogs so often that this week I cracked and decided to participate. It will be posted with my other two Friday memes, Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop, starting next week. Until then, welcome and enjoy!

Books to Television: Which books would you love 
to see made in to a TV series? or movie?

I have come to terms with the fact that there will, most likely, never, ever been a series of Artemis Fowl movies. I'm dead serious here, I've picked up old copies of the first/ second books only to find contest advertisements for being an extra in the movie. It's been "in the works" for years now, and we don't have so much as a leading actor. If the ball got rolling earlier I would've had no doubts that the movies would have come in a series, kind of like Harry Potter did, but it's been ten years since Artemis first graced us with his presence... Still crossing my fingers though!

Luna by Julie Anne Peters is in a similar position, though with no movie talk as far as I know. It's such a heartbreaking story, about a teenage girl and her transgender (male-to-female) sister. I think, if put in the right hands, it would make a beautiful and successful movie that would finally get some transgender characters onto the big screen as more than just last-minute attempts at equality or comic relief.

In other, more hopeful news, Divergent by Veronica Roth has had its rights bought by Summit, and I have hopes that we might get some movie news in the upcoming year! 


Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop (3)

 It's Friday! (Friday, gotta get down- okay, I'll stop) so that means two new memes for this week! For starters, sorry if I don't comment/ follow you as quikcly as I can, I have school tomorrow, but I promise to get back to you as soon as I could! Thanks for visiting!

First up, Follow Friday, hosted by Allison Can Read and Parajunkee.

Q. Have you ever wanted a villain to win at the end of a story? If so, which one?
I know, I know, I need to stop talking about Dystopian Societies sooner or later, but this question is just too perfect to pass up! I love stories like 1984 and Brave New World; the older dystopians. In those, the negative/ evil/ bad society often wins, and quite frankly that's how I think it should be (more often than not.) When it comes to modern, teen dystopians, it seems like in the end the dystopian part of society is always crushed, no matter how little the protagonist/ their band of merry rebels does. Not every rebellion is met with change, and it takes a lot more to fall a corrupt government than a lot of current books would have us believe (but Libya knows all too well.)

EDIT: Okay, a little attachment because I didn't feel that my earlier answer was clear enough. I don't root for villains because I like evil deeds, or smile when people are hurt. I like to see villains succeed, at least sometimes, because I think it makes a story more realistic. Good doesn't always come out on top in real life, so why should it in books? I think books need to have at least a realistic element to be relatable and believable.

And now onto this week's Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy for books.

Book Blogger Hop
“Many of us primarily read one genre of books, with others sprinkled in. If authors stopped writing that genre, what genre would you start reading? Or would you give up reading completely if you couldn’t read that genre anymore?”
I've wanted to dabble in fantasy for a while, and it's been a while since I had. No, I probably wouldn't give up reading, I'm sure that I'd find something to read. After all, I always have whatever that "others sprinkled in" constitutes, right? :)

See you next Friday!


New job!!!

I started my first (paying) job today, as a page at the public library! Basically, I'm a book monkey: I shelve books, find books, pick up books, push carts around with books on them, etc. I worked for four hours today (and after the first day of school, too!), mostly by shelving books, and there are a few things that I learned should you ever find yourself in one of these mystical places:
-If you question, even for a moment, where a book should go on the shelf, find a cart to put it on. It's been incredibly frustrating trying to find the proper place for a book when everything else around it is out of order because some people just stick in it the last place they thought they saw it. If you do, or actually try to shelve it correctly, you get a high five :)
-Not even the call number system is perfect. I had been looking for a copy of The Iron King a few months ago, and was sad to find that is was listed as "missing" in our catalog. So, I requested it from another library. Anyway, guess what I found in with the adult fiction just because it didn't have a YA sticker on it?
-Mysteries are VERY POPULAR. The newest ones are separate from the rest of the new books.
-I'm seventeen, but even my feet and knees were aching by the end of my shift from having to bend down and put books away every few minutes.

Overall, it's fun to have a job and a paycheck, especially from a place that I've been visiting since I was little. Ooh! And the best thing is that while putting things away I get a good look at all different kinds of books, including our new copy of Plugged by Eoin Colfer! *faints*

I've known for a few months that Colfer had been writing an adult novel after years (over ten, to be precise) of dabbling in children's and young adult fiction while penning the bestselling Artemis Fowl series (my favorite) but I had no idea that it had been published (not that that's strange. I had taken a hiatus from AF for a while and didn't even know the seventh book came out until after I stepped into Border's one day.) I stored it away in my bag to check out later, and I'm really excited! After I finish the seventh AF book, that is.

The tagline reads, "You loved Artemis Fowl... It's time to grow up." *swoon*

More tales from Libraryville are soon to come!


Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara Dyer would tell you what happened to her that night in the abandoned asylum. That night when she lost three of her friends in a horrible accident that left her mind scarred and her confidence shaken. She’d tell you, if that night weren’t completely wiped from her memory. Picking up and moving to Florida to escape the past, Mara’s hallucinations and nightmares continue to escalate. At the same time, she is growing closer to a boy she didn’t think that she could fall in love with, a boy who can help her find the truth within herself; the truth of what happened that night.
There’s a lot to say about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The book starts out rather promising, and I found myself delightfully spooked   by Mara’s paranormal events and haunting hallucinations. Those alone made the book stand out against other YA books of its kind. I also love the creepiness factor. Mara’s periods of hallucinations and flashback dreams to “that night,” give The Unbecoming a haunting feel that helps put the reader in Mara’s shoes, and really emphasizes her PTSD. Sadly though, these fade over time as Noah Shaw, Mara’s love interest, becomes the primary focus of Mara’s life.
Noah is are downright unrealistic. He is popular, hot, has gotten with every girl in school (but wouldn’t DARE try to have sex with Mara), is hot, filthy rich, is hot, and lives in a mansion that is compared to the Taj Mahal. But wait, he lost his mother when he was little and is neglected by his father. That gives him some humanity to his godliness, right? Wrong, because he speaks French and Spanish, is hot, has a British accent, is hot, gets perfect grades, but doesn’t need to take notes in class or bring his books because he has “a good memory.” Did I mention he’s hot, or as Mara’s describes, “inhumanly beautiful”? Get Edward Cullen on the phone, because someone may have out-perfected him.
Hodkin’s work is peppered with some gems of lines that made me chuckle, and a few that made me shiver, but is average overall. She does get an A+ for a Trogdor reference, though (don’t ask). Still, I wanted to finish the book as soon as possible, and not in a good way.
The ending is perhaps the most disappointing moment of the novel. There is very little build-up, or climax, and anything that contributes to the ending scenes is lost amongst the four hundred and fifty pages of this book. Had the ending been a bit more urgent and put-together, and the story itself more concise, it would have been perfect. It definitely opens up the opportunity for a sequel, though.
In all fairness, fans of steamy (abstinent) romance, paranormal activities, and the occasional sassy line will undoubtedly rave about this book (and they have). However, if you are as tired of the “normal girl falls for steamy boy in a paranormal setting” dog-and-pony show that much of YA literature has become, you might want to pass this one up.

(Amazon - Goodreads - Figment)


Dystopian August comes to an end...

Yes, now being September it appears that Dystopian August has come to an end... The wrap up post can be found here, and I am very pleased to announce that I have won the prize pack!

Pictured Above: w00t
Not Pictured Above: An ARC of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, also won

Whether or not Dystopian February 2012 is on depends on her writing, but I would certainly like it to happen again! I'm assuming everyone who participated would as well, not to mention that they'll have plenty to review with all of the new releases of late 2011/ early 2012 fast approaching!

Zombie chicken salute, and here's to next year! But until then, please appreciate this flowchart from Erin Bowman, which pretty much sums up what is/ isn't a Dystopian society:

A larger version can be seen here, and happy September, everybody! Now to get back to all of those books you had to put off to make room for your dystopian picks :)


Teens Top Ten!

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is looking for votes to pick the top ten teen books! The list seems to be a mix of late 2010- early 2011 titles, and a mix of bestsellers and lesser known titles (but maybe I've just been living in a box...)

The voting is for teens only, so go and vote if you're young enough or do your part to spread the word! I jumped up to vote only to find that the only book on the list that I had read was Mockingjay and, well, I didn't exactly think it was the best book (if you saw my last Book Hop/ Follow Friday.)

Voting ends September 16th, and the winners will be announced during Teen Read Week, October 16th-22nd.


Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

What if you knew exactly when your would die? Thanks to modern science, every newborn has become a ticking genetic time bomb- males only live to age twenty-five, and females only to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one perupose: to escape- to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiemtns. Withthe help of Gabriel, a servant she is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
(Description from inside cover)

I know that this isn't a science book, but the lack of such really upset me. I mean, somehow the entire world got bombed, polar ice caps melted, and the United States is still around? New York City, Florida, and cities in California are mentioned, but wouldn't even be there if what is described in the book is true. And also, how is it that people die at age 20-25, but young teenagers are not only expected to have healthy pregnancies and babies, but actually do (well, except for the die at 20-25 thing)? A little more clarification on those things would've been nice.

A lot of Rhine's beliefs in this book are presented as truths, but she has a horrible time convincing me of things. I didn't believe her when she said her husband was the one who kidnapped her and killed girls, even when she did for most of the book. I don't believe her when she says she fell in love with this one boy who she barely seems to know. I don't believe her when she says being free is ideal, because all of her flashbacks of her past life and brother seem pretty negative. All of these make her come off as very naive, despite her mature voice.

The ending was also a bit... confusing. If Whither was a stand-alone book, and not in a series, I would have totally bought it and it would've been great. It wrapped up so nicely. But knowing that there's a sequel just confuses me, and I hope the next book doesn't feel stretched or forced.

I really like the cover, as to many of those who read Whither, but I feel alone in the fact that I don't "get" it. Yeah, I see the birdcage and the wedding ring, that much is clear. It's more with the fact that the chill girl on the cover looks more like a model for an Alexander McQueen photoshoot than a child desperate to escape. Nope, she's just taking a snooze. No urgency here.

I really enjoyed Destefano's writing style though, and she has a lot of beautiful, vivid imagery in here. Her words painted a clear picture to me, for the most part, of Rhine's world. The language is very poetic and lovely.

All in all, it is very much like The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, though Wither has a bit more angst to it's shock factor.

(Amazon - Goodreads)

Feature & Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop (3)

I'll be participating in Book Blogger Hop and Feature & Follow Friday once again! Welcome, and feel free to leave a comment! And I hope that you're joining in the fun!

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read:

First question:

If you could change the ending to any book (or series), which book would you choose? Why and to what?


In case you didn't catch my warning up above, The Hunger Games. I wouldn't say I hated the ending, but I severely disliked it, and not because of Prim's fate. First, I disliked how quickly it went. After Katniss shoots Coin (why do I want to keep calling her "Acorn," again?) there basically is no ending. Katniss walks around in a daze, and we really don't see what happens to the world. I mean, no riots in the Capitol? District 2? And what happened to Haymitch? Quite frankly, he was my favorite character. I reread the last part we see him and I THINK there's an allusion to him dying, but then again maybe he just left ("Haymitch drinks until the liquor runs out, and then raises geese until the next train arrives. Fortunately, the geese can take pretty good care of themselves."- page 387) And Gale too, what about him? Honestly, if any epilogue were to be written, I want to hear about Panem one hundred years later, to see if things really did change for the better. After all, I'm pretty sure they didn't host another Hunger Games after Katniss's last, but it isn't explicitly stated, and who knows, maybe things got so bad again that the Hunger Games returned, or something worse took their place.

END HUNGER GAMES SPOILERS. (P.S. That was the first time I've cracked open Mockingjay since I finished it on, like, the second of January. It still smells like it's new...)

And now, onto the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy for Books:

Book Blogger Hop

“What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season – A particular book release? Halloween? The leaves changing color? Cooler temperatures? A vacation? (If your next season is other than fall/autumn, tell us about it and what you are most looking forward to in your part of the world!)”

Three Things:
1) National Novel Writing Month (Nov. 1st)
2) The release of Legend by Marie Lu (Nov. 29)
3) The start of my SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL!!! (Sept. 7)

Again, I welcome all newcomers!

Great Graphics #2: Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori

Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adopted and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.
Crafted in painstaking detail, Ms. Mori's pen breathes life into the scenery and architecture of the period in this heartwarming slice-of-life tale that is at once both wholly exotic, yet familiar and accessible through the everyday lives of the rich characters she has created.
(Description from inside cover)

Let me start by saying that "crafted in painstaking detail," is perhaps the understatement of the year. The scenery, clothing... everything contains so much detail that your eye can't simply gloss over the page; you have to stop and take some time to view every last line, mark, and shade that has been made. In short, it is fantastic. I'm also familiar with Emma and Shirley, which are both set in Victorian England, and though they both contain their fair share of wonderful detail, neither is anything like the creative and colorful patterns of central Asia.

Rather than a continuous story like Emma, Bride's Story is split into a couple short stories, two of which are strung together by Amir's old clans desire to have her returned. These small stories give the larger piece a nice flow, and in no way does it feel choppy. Amir herself is also wonderful for a main character, and I really enjoyed watching her character develop throughout the tales. She's a bit quirky due to her "outside-ness" in her new tribe, that only adds to my love for her.

I know that, from the description, a few people may be uncomfortable with the large age difference between Amir, 20, and her husband, Karluk, 12. There's really very little to worry about: the two, in one scene at night, share a kiss in the semi-dark that is more cute and familiar than romantic or sexy. There is also a scene where the two sleep naked together, though that stems only from Amir's insistence that you will be too cold if you sleep clothed in a yurt (a type of housing) rather than nude, and the scene itself is not sexual. Other than that, their relationship is much more like that of an older sister/ younger brother than anything like a husband and wife.

All in all, this book comes highly recommended, and I look forward for the second one, if nothing for the art that my hands and eyes ache just looking at.

The book is unrated, and I personally would rate it PG-13 (for three panels of topless nudity and... almost violence? Then again, your mileage may vary.)
(Amazon - Goodreads)


Feature & Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop

Another Friday come and gone. School will be starting for me soon, senior year! Until then, here are my answers to this week's Feature and Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop:

Feature and Follow Friday is first, though I'm afraid I couldn't get the button to work this week :(

Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in quesiton "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?

I  like people that can transform into some sort of animal, like a werewolf. I think it's a cool ability and really admire it. Monsters and those that wish to do non-changing humans harm need not apply.

Book Blogger Hop

“Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?”
I have Whiskers, my cat. Cut me some slack on the name, I was five and put in charge of that position. The second is Spike, a beaded dragon, and you can see her in all of her glory in my icon. She is sitting very patiently on her rock, which is what she spends many of her days doing. I've had her for about eight or so years now.

So, if you are here from either of these memes, I welcome you :)

Review: Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

(I love this cover. All of the dots
are tiny human heads.)
Title: Brain Jack
Author: Brian Falkner
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: September 28th, 2010
Page #: 349
ISBN: 0375843663
Acquired: Library

Amazon, Goodreads, Author's Website

Read for Dystopian August 2011 over at Presenting Lenore

From Goodreads:
Another terrifying sci-fi page-turner from the author of The Tomorrow Code!
Las Vegas is gone—destroyed in a terrorist attack. Black Hawk helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. And immersive online gaming is the most dangerous street drug around. In this dystopic near-future, technology has leapt forward once again, and neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Just slip on a headset, and it’s the Internet at the speed of thought.
For teen hacker Sam Wilson, a headset is a must. But as he becomes familiar with the new technology, he has a terrifying realization. If anything on his computer is vulnerable to a hack, what happens when his mind is linked to the system? Could consciousness itself be hijacked? Before he realizes what’s happened, Sam’s incursion against the world’s largest telecommunications company leads him to the heart of the nation’s cyberdefense network and brings him face to face with a terrifying and unforeseen threat.
Brian Falkner, author of The Tomorrow Code, has created an action-packed and thought-provoking science fiction adventure in which a brilliant young computer hacker fights to prevent the human race from being deleted.
Fans of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and M. T. Anderson’s Feed will love this high-octane techno thriller.
"'Wireless security' is a contradiction in terms. Like 'military intelligence  or 'jumbo shrimp.'" With that quote we are introduced to the risky and intellectually stimulating world of computer hacking through the eyes of one of the best in the business, Sam Wilson.

Brain Jack is one of the few dystopian novels that I’ve read that I can actually see happening in America, or anywhere in the world really. Despite the military influence sprinkled throughout the book it does not appear to be intrusive in people’s lives, nor is there some overarching dictator wringing his hands at the thought of which orphan he can starve next. Society functions just as it does in modern America, but with technological advancements that have yet to happen.

This book is chock full of computer, technology, and programming lingo. For a person who is lucky if she remembers how to put a picture into a comment on a forum, it can get a bit overwhelming at times. That doesn't make it a bad thing though, and I think enhances the reading experience: because I’m not sure where real life ends and technological fantasy begins when it comes to these programs that Sam is writing and using to hack computers, it adds to the creepiness element once the headsets go from useful piece of technology to computer menace. Just how far ahead in time does Sam live? What technology, aside from the neuro-headsets, does he have in his America, or anywhere in the world, really, that we do not in our times?
Sam makes for an interesting character, driven more by his passion for computers than romantic love for another human. Actually, I would have preferred that the one hiccup of romance that was in there be left out, seeing as it just left me more confused as to why it happened in the first place. In fact, assuming that Sam is straight, there are hardly any female characters (read: one) for him to fall in love with. More ladies in computer science, please!
The climax was great and the build-up lasted over one hundred pages, all of exciting action and suspense sequences that reflect just how desperate Sam and his friends are to fix a disastrous situation that they had a part in influencing. It’s quick-paced, and makes you not want to put the book down.
As for the ending, I certainly don’t want to spoil too much for those who haven’t read it, but I will say this: there isn't a civil war being raged in Libya right now because Gaddafi missed an episode of Barney. World problems, and more importantly world leaders, are a bit more complex than the ending makes them out to be. I was also left wondering what happened to some of the characters. They weren't a massive part of the book’s plot, but it would have been nice to know just what happened to them.
Oh yeah, Sam's British friend and co-worker, Dodge. There's not much to say about him, other than how much I loved him and his use of the word "guv'nor." More than once.
Overall, Brain Jack is a fresh take on dystopian books and societies, and is worth picking up for anybody who has taken note of just how fast Apple releases new products. Technology is moving fast, so don’t fall behind. Unless you’re Sam and his friends, that is, and in that case be happy that you did.

Four Stars!
And for the theme song of this piece/ dystopian playlist, I leave you with a nerd favorite that I have recently discovered, “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton. A little background, this is the ending song to the Portal game, after one believes that the intelligent computer system that they just destroyed is gone for good… Creepy, huh?


Review: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

(Description from back of books)

Hitting twenty-five this year, the Handmaid’s Tale remains one of the pinnacles of dystopian and feminist fiction and is perhaps one of the most conflicting books a person will ever read. At one moment, the reader will be marveling at the beauty of the complex language that Atwood uses to paint her picture, while at the same time is disgusted at the widespread rape and enslavement of the women in the novel.
Offred’s voice, though she fails to relay to us her name until partway through the novel, is serious but controlled. She is fully aware of her situation, who wouldn’t be?, while at the same time maintaining a calm and composed voice. Though we see very little of the inner worlds of the other characters until deep into the story, they provide complex and detailed platforms through which we get to understand Offred better.
            The nice thing about the plot for this book is how, though we jump into a day in Offred’s life upon the first page, through a detailed and meticulous plot are we given glimpses into how much freedom she has, little, and how much she remembers about her past life, which is enough to make the reader realize just how chilling the time Offred finds herself in is.
            A compelling story with one of the greatest cliffhanger endings that I have read, The Handmaid’s Tale is a staple of dystopian fiction that has earned its place through beautifully crafted language and a fascinating main character.

(Amazon - Goodreads)
(Reviewed for Dystopian August 2011)


Book Blogger Hop #1

I recently discovered Book Blogger Hop and decided to give it a try this week! It is hosted at Crazy for Books and is a place for book bloggers to get together and connect with one another.

Book Blogger Hop

Prompt: What is the longest book you've ever read? 
I'm pretty sure it's Twilight by Stephanie Meyer at about 500 pages. It's held that record for a couple of years, too; I like to read quick books more than books that take longer to read. Divergent by Veronica Roth comes in at second place.

First Follow Friday

My first Follow Friday! Hello!

Q. If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

As much as I love dystopian novels, that's probably not the kind of place that I would like to find myself. I think any fantasy novels, where people travel long distances, fight monsters, save princesses, etc. would be ideal. Just the idea of waking up somewhere new everyday, with people who share the same overarching goals and are fighting for the same things as you sounds appealing to me. I started the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan, but haven't seen the movie, so something like that.


Review: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Sorry if things have been a little slow-going in terns of Dystopian August, vacation set me back a bit further than I thought it would (if that makes any sense.) I'll have some novel reviews as soon as I can, I promise! In the meantime, here's an extra-special Great Graphics just for Dystopian August! Huzzah!

As the Holy Empire of Britannia expands, the freedoms and rights of the citizens of the countries that it has conquered begin to shrink. Japan, once a strong and noble land, has since been renamed "Area 11," and the people live in fear of the soldiers that roam the streets as all that they once knew crumbles around them.

Enter Lelouch ("leh-louche"). An exiled child of the Emperor of Britannia, he seems like the least likely candiate to rally a desperate nation to action. With no political connections in his exiled state and few friends, his hope for topplling the kingdom that betrayed him seems unlikely until he meets C.C., a young woman whom he rescues from a military vehicle. In return she grants him a very powerful and dangerous gift, a "geass." With this ability, Lelouch can influence any human to do anything he commands. Weak no more, Lelouch begins to get the ball of revolution rolling with the help of a rebel group, of which one of the members is Kallen, a "sickly" girl whom is tougher than her school persona makes her out to be.

Armed with a new power, Lelouch dons a mask and reinvents himself as Zero, a crusader who fights for the weak with only one goal in mind: to fell the kingdom that shamed him years ago.

Code Geass has been around for a while now and has yet to show signs of falling out of style. The plot is fairly linear, with Lelouch's goal being the main focus of the story. There is a light side to this though, as Bandai has also been publishing spin-off series that take place in alternate universes, not only allowing for the story to take a different path, but also giving some other characters their chance to shine as more than pawns in Lelouch's game.

The plot is also quick-paced, with each action leading into the next smoothly and swiftly. There are no "filler" panels added in to make it feel as though the story is longer, and everything serves either to introduce new characters or to set the scene for Lelouch's next daring move.

I actually find Lelouch to be a bit dry at points, as many people do with characters that only have one goal in their lives. Lucky for the reader though, he is flanked by interesting friends and family from his childhood friend Suzaku, a Japanese citizen fighting in the Britannian army, to his blind sister Nunnally, to the mysterious C.C.

The main series spans eight, manageable books. You can find these at your local bookstore (not Borders anymore...*sniff*), or if you're lucky, your local library. They are also sold online, and as far as I know Bandai is still printing copies. Also, the great thing about this graphic novel is that there is also an anime available. The DVD's can be purchased at F.Y.E. or at an online anime retailer. Nothing like curling up with a good dystopian TV series, right?

(Amazon) Rated 13 and up (for some blood and violence) by publisher Bandai Entertainment and spans eight, 200 page volumes


In My Mailbox: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

A bit late, but I got The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin just before I went on vacation and didn't have time to make a post for it.

Pictured Above: Not blogging

But, onto the topic of this post, an ARC of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer!

I apologize for the fuzzy picture, but the book cover itself is a bit dark to begin with. Just a cover post for now (although the cover alone is fantastic) but I have started the book and don't want to spoil anything, especially before my review :)

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.
(Description from Goodreads)

I know that the description is a bit vague, but it is the same as on the back of the book. I also think that, just from what I have read of it, that it will be a pretty big hit: hot guys, supernatural themes, and a girl-next-door protagonist seems to be what's popular in YA fiction now. It's also quite the whopper at 450 pages on the nose; it'll be sure to last a few people quite a while!

It will be released September 27, 2011 from Simon & Schuster and my review on Figment will pop up sometime around then. If you just can't wait for a review from me, you can find some around the Internet already.

Here's to happy reading!


Dystopian August 2011!

Huzzah! This month marks the beginning of Dystopian August from the blog Presenting Lenore. I've had a couple of books sitting on my shelf for the longest time that I'll be reading and posting reviews for this month. They include:

                                                           Wither by Lauren Destefano    
                                                             (Plagues and polygamy)
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
("Welcome to a future where water is more precious than oil or gold..."- inside cover)

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner
(Advanced technology, teen hackers, and mind control)

Excuse the green paint stains on my desk from Mother's Day a few years back, but these are the three that I'm definitely going to get through this month. I also have The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness out from the library but that one may be postponed for a bit and is kind of up in the air right now.

Finally, here's my contribution to any ongoing dystopian playlists out there and will be the musical theme for the next couple of reviews: Something's Not Right Here by One Republic

The scream, I burn
What’s that, you say
Your cloud it’s telling you lies now
You hear my voice,
You make some noise
You stole my choice
It’s over now
Pray for him now
I speak to you

I’m breaking out, something ain’t right here
You’re falling out, something ain’t right here
I’m breaking out, something ain’t right here
You’re falling out, falling out from, falling out, you’re falling out
Why can’t you see it?


Great Graphics: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Welcome to a new feature here at Brave New Shelf that I affectionately call Great Graphics. The first Tuesday of every month I will post a review of a graphic novel/ comic/ manga (Japanese comic). Graphics novels have been a part of my life for almost five years now, and I can't help but feel that a lot of people turn away from them for one reason or another. Maybe you think they are childish picture books. Maybe you think that they are too violent, or too sexual. Maybe you don't want to be a "nerd," "geek," or any other one of those terms associated with people who read graphic novels. (And yes, I have heard those reasons.)  To those who adhere to those beliefs, I say that you simply haven't been looking hard enough for something that you might enjoy :)

Or, maybe you have been reading them for a while and are hoping for a couple of recommendations, or simply want to chat about them. That's cool too, and I'd love to hear some input in the comments! All of these posts will be tagged with "graphic novels," along with any other corresponding tags.

And so proceeds our first installment with Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol!

If you looked up the word "popular" in the dictionary, there is a good chance that Anya's picture won't be there. Embarrassed by her family, her body, and her social status, Anya begins to think that all hope is lost. That is, until she meets someone that really has lost everything, including her life.

Anya meets Emily after falling into a well while on a walk, and while Anya survives the fall it is clear to her that Emily, a girl who lived over one hundred years ago, did not. Surprised at seeing the ghost girl, Anya is even more surprised when one of Emily's bones ends up in her bag, allowing for Emily to follow her home. 

At first, things are working out alright. Emily aids Anya in numerous aspects of her life, academic and social. But as time progresses, Anya learns that Emily may have a bigger problem than the obvious.

Anya's Ghost was overall enjoyable, and I can understand all of the love it has gotten (and has been getting) from novel and comic blogs alike. The main character, Anya, is easy to relate to as a teenager. She struggles to fit in, on which she blames her lack of friends, lack of a boyfriend, and her body. The buildup for the other main character, Emily, was certainly an interesting if not creepy one. At the beginning, she appears to only want to help Anya improve her life, but then as the story progresses the reader begins to realize that Emily is changing, and not for the better. Anya's crush Sean, who is not as appealing as he seems, her sort-of best friend Siobhan, and her doting Russian-immigrant mother round off the cast of interesting minor characters.

I found myself getting very into the book, plot-wise. Of course, from the moment that Emily offered to help Anya to improve her grades and her love life we knew that things were too good to be true for the ghost girl, and the build-up is steady with a quick-paced climax and happy ending.

The art itself is great, with a color scheme of black, white, and shades of purple that is not so complicated that you lose track of the characters or the story in the process of admiring the drawings. Brosgol's style is easy on the eyes with just enough attention to detail to show that she put love and effort into drawing, as well as writing, Anya's Ghost.

4.5/5- Recommended for anyone with an interest in single-volume comics with PG rating (assigned by myself; actual volume is not rated)

(Amazon - Goodreads)


Twilight Re-Read: Chapters 21-24/ Epilogue

Wow... it's over. Twilight still holds the current record for the longest book I've ever read at almost 500 pages (a title that many of my friends laugh at), and I like that I got to refresh my memory of it through a re-read. It was so much fun, and I'd love to join another at some point in the future. But for now, here are the last of the questions and answers!

1. In chapter 21 James calls Bella telling her he has her mother and the only way he won't kill her is if Bella comes alone. What would you do in that situation? Come alone or tell Alice and Jasper?
I think it would have been better to tell Alice and Jasper. I mean, surly they could have found a way to stop him without him noticing them. Bella going alone was brave, but she could have been spared a lot of pain by telling Alice and Jasper the truth.

2. Was everyone else as shocked as I was when I first found out about the Alice/James situation? Do you think this adds to the story line or was it not needed? Why do you think they choose not to include these details in the movie?
I was surprised, despite having read the books before, but I really don't think that it was as essential to the story as it's written to be. The book could have been fine without it, but it was an interesting extra. I don't know much about the movie, but if they didn't mention that Alice knew nothing of her past, then the Alice/ James situation wouldn't have had to have been mentioned in the end at all.

3. Edward had to do something extremely difficult in order to save Bella from becoming a vampire. Have you ever had a similar situation in your life where you had to push your will power to its limits?
I sat through five Regents (state) exams this past June, each at least two hours long. If you didn't pass one, you would have to repeat the corresponding class. Oh, and you can't make them up later in the year because the state is cutting back, so if you fail you go under. Everyone is pretty much pushed to their limits during that time.

4. Bella and Edward get into the "to change Bella or not to change Bella" argument in the hospital. If you were Bella, would you want to become a vampire? Why or why not?
If I was Bella, obviously yes. She made it clear that it was all that she wanted in the history of her entire life, etc., etc. Sitting here now at my computer desk, do I want to be a vampire? No, not really. It seems like a whole lot of work and pain for not a whole lot of benefit. I'm sure their must be less painful ways to immortality.

5. Twilight ends with everyone going to the prom. Did you go to your prom? Was your experience similar to Bella's? Feel free to include pictures!!
I did, but with my friends. It was late last May, so the weather was nice (though it rained later) and was definitely a couples thing. It wasn't in the gym, but in a nice place where they hold weddings and such in the next town, and was very beautiful. All of the music was rap and hip-hop, so no slow dances. The food was excellent, and my friends and I got to our table before everyone else (the line was so long). I didn't dance a whole lot, but instead sat around and talked most of the time. Yeah, it wasn't really enjoyable but I'll probably go next year. 

EXTRA: So, it's over...Final thoughts?
I'd give it about a two point five; a neutral rating. I didn't think it was that bad, but I didn't think it was that good either. Whether or not I'll pick up the rest of the books, I really don't know yet (I've got so much on my reading list), but maybe I will in the future.