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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Soapbox: Cost of Books

I’m going to be painfully honest and say, it’s very hard for me to buy books. I usually loan my books from other friends or check them out at the library. The last book I had the ability to buy was Julie Kagawa’s Iron Queen. Why is it so hard to buy books?

With Borders going out of business I thought I’d take advantage of the sales and get some of my favorites that I haven’t had the ability to purchase. I spent a little over a hundred dollars on nine books. Not bad right? Considering most of them were hardbacks and brand new. However, once I got home I looked at my receipt and noticed something. 

Books are freaking expensive. No joke. I bought, Divergent, The Girl in the Steel Corset, Anna and the French Kiss, Die For Me, 13 to Life, The Goddess Test, Falling Under, Dreams of Joy and Last Letter From Your Lover. (The last two are for my sister and not my cup of tea.) One hundred thirty two dollars and ninety four cents. No one can say I don’t support the authors when I have the ability to. 

Seriously though, why are books so freaking expensive? What makes them cost so fricking much? 

Let’s think about something really quickly. The books I bought were teen/young adult reads.  The cheapest one originally priced was 9.99. Let’s round up to ten. The normal price (when I say normal the average of the other seven I bought for myself) was 17.99 originally priced, we’ll say eighteen. Around twelve and twenty after tax respectively. Can I provide some food for thought? 

A teen/young adult is what? A middle school/high school kid, right? If they’re lucky they work part time after school on some days and on the weekends. If they’re not, they hopefully get an allowance from mom or dad or both. In what right dimension do these prices seem affordable for a dependent? Especially if they’re supposed to be saving for college or homecoming or prom? 

Don’t get me wrong. I love to read. I pray one day I’m fortunate enough to have a library of my favorites. However, right now, I’m a full time college student, with not only student loans, but my car loan, my cell phone, my rent, and the food in my belly.  Tell me where am I supposed to get the spending money for books too? This is why I borrow from friends or the library. I wish I could support more often but I quite literally can’t. It’s too costly. 

I can’t even afford to buy the ebook as it’s the same price as the hardback. Can I ask why an electronic file costs the same as ink and paper? Is there something special about the epub file that makes it worth the same amount as being able to physically hold and smell the book? (I love the smell of books, someone should patent that as a perfume.) 

I hear and see a lot of stuff about authors complaining that they don’t sell enough books, or they’re mad that people pirate their books. But when you look at it this way is it any wonder why? And in today’s economy what parent in their right mind is going to let their kid pay twenty dollars for a book? 

I just needed to put that out there. There are a lot of great writers in this world. A great many great authors. I wish with all my heart I could support all my favorites. However, with the economy in crumbles, food outrageously priced, and college demanding my first born child in payment, it’s not possible to support everyone. I pray there are others who are well off enough that can, so I may continue reading their great stories.  

How can this be fixed? I honestly can’t say. Lower the cost of ebooks? Find cheaper ways of printing that can lower the cost of a physical book? Who really knows? I wish I did.

Book Review: Stork

Author: Wendy Delsol
Publish Date: October 2010
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated. With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life. (From Goodreads)

Mythology is a great base for stories. While having their own principles reading how someone else interprets and mixes that with current day is always entertaining. Or, at least for the most part it is. Stork brings together the myth of the baby delivers with current day in a weird twist unlike any other story I’ve read to date. 

I didn’t like Katla at first. I’m still working on liking Katla. She’s a snob in a sense, and I couldn’t relate to that to personably. She does clean up some as the book progresses but first impressions are hard to get past. And her first impression isn’t altogether flattering in my eyes. However, since she does grow and learn as the story progresses we do see that even snobs can see through a different filter and change their ways, if only slightly. It makes me like her a little more, but I’m far from calling her friend. 

Jack is rude, aloof and I instantly like him. Maybe it’s the hillbilly in me. I completely understand where Jack’s derision comes from and I can sympathize. Just as I can sympathize with his internal hesitation and fears. He is the more likable character in the book if for no other reason is that he doesn’t filter what he says or does. He doesn’t hide behind a façade. 

The story is unique and original in its take on the old wives’ tale. I was curious on how it was even possible to write about the Storks, and then was even more fuddled about whether or not it would be plausibly written. Mrs. Delsol has taken a great myth and turned it into a plausible real life fantasy. While not my usual cup of tea, it’s by no means dour or staid. It’s a decently intriguing story. ^_^

My Rating:  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: Unearthly

Author: Cynthia Hand
Publish Date: April 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . . 

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy. 

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side. 

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny? (From Goodreads)

Books about angels aren’t hard to find. It seems to be one of the common mainstreams, currently so I was rather blasé coming into this as it’s the third or fourth one I’ve read this year. I really wasn’t expecting much. I’m glad I can still be surprised. 

Our heroine is Clara, a California girl that can practically do anything well, the first time around. She has a gift of tongues and a silent (obnoxiously so in my mind) mother. She’s stubborn and emotional as well, which gives some depth to her character. While not quite having to deal with the same things that normal high school girls have to deal with, she’s under a lot of pressure and doesn’t crack from it. 

The boys are complex. Tucker (Tuck), is a rough around the edges all around nice guy. Christian is too, but there’s something other about him that gives him a little more shine then Tuck. (I personally like Tuck slightly more.) Both boys seem to have it bad for Clara, but the sincerity behind it can be questionable at times. 

Even the best friends are complex. Wendy is a doll, and Tucker’s twin sister. She truly cares about Clara, but has no idea what she really is. Angela is more powerful then Clara, she knows exactly what Clara is, but I think her motives are… less then honorable. I could be wrong, but I don’t trust Angela. I don’t. 

The story is pretty solid with a few holes here and there. The time gaps are the most upsetting. On one page Mom says we’ll talk later and then on the next it’s two weeks later. Did she ever talk with mom? What happened? It leaves a little feeling of confusion. The tense in the writing is a mix of present and past, which if you’re reading on the fast side, can cause some pause and some rereading to make sure that translated right. 

Overall it isn’t boring. The story is original enough to keep the reader engrossed, and the characters personable enough to relate to. For me, it’s an average cup of tea. ^_^

 My Rating:


Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review: Hourglass

Hourglass (Book 1 of Hourglass)
Author: Myra McEntire
Publish Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Egmont

One hour to rewrite the past . . .
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.
(From Goodreads)

There’s probably nothing worse than seeing the past repeatedly… in various forms. The very concept of it was enough to take the book off the shelf. What can the past tell us that we don’t already possibly know? 

For Em, seeing the past means being crazy. She doesn’t believe it to be rational, but she’s trying so hard to keep her life together she plays pretend, often. This action alone is enough to prove Em is a strong willed, independent individual.  The added fact that she’s a brown belt in karate and can flip a grown man over her shoulder is only an additional plus. Add her sarcasm and whit and she’s my new best friend.

Then enter Michael, who witnesses her reaction to one of her phantoms. He’s gorgeous and stunning and everything a girl wants. He has a hero complex as big as the grand canyon and a self sacrificing gene just as large. This only makes him a more likeable character. While sometimes he can seem aloof and uncaring it’s very clear his feelings for Em are genuine. 

The plot was surprising. There were twists and turns that weren’t expected. It had felt pretty basic at first even normal. Then the world shatters all over again with each new additional piece of information. This was certainly riveting and enough to make every interruption from the book and aggravating nuance. Hopefully, the second in the series will be coming soon. The suspense is just as aggravating. ^_^

My Rating:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth
Publish Date: May 2011
Publisher:  Kathrine Tegen Books

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
(From GoodReads)

To be honest this wasn’t foremost on the list of to be read. However, after a friend’s fawning over it, I had to pick it up and see what the fuss was about. Perhaps I should pay closer attention to what my friends are reading in the future.
Tris from the beginning is a character I feel I can relate to. I can’t think of any child at the age of sixteen that doesn’t feel awkward and out of place in their home society.  Tris instead of cowering under the pressure of such chose to stand up and be brave. That very act shows her strong will. The fact that she cares about others as well, that shows her heart. I found myself liking Tris very much and the person she was trying to be. 

Tobias confused me at first. I wasn’t sure if he was a good guy or a bad one. Now that I understand him better I do like him very much. His principles are solid and he is more selfless than he will let on. He tries really hard to protect Tris from herself even if she doesn’t see it, or realize it. 

The book kept me on the edge of my chair. I was riveted from the first page until the last. I’m sad with the ending of the book. Well, I’m sad it come to an end so quickly, but the ending left a lot of things open to come. Divergent is a very solid read. I’m certainly marking the next book as a top to read book. ^_^

My Rating:

Galley Book Review: Seers

Author: Heather Frost
Publish Date: October 2011
Publisher: Cedar Fort

For Kate Bennet, surviving the car wreck that killed her parents means big changes and even bigger problems. As she begins to see auras and invisible people, Kate must learn to trust Patrick O'Donnell, a handsome Guardian, or risk her life being overrun with Demons. She soon realizes that both she and her heart are in big-time trouble. (From Goodreads)

Originally, it was the book cover that caught attention. Then the synopsis. It’s a terrible thing to judge a book by its cover but frankly with all the books out there; there needs to be a reason it stands out from the others on the shelf. The synopsis provides a fresh idea to a story. It’s not vampires or ghost or angels… well not quite. It’s auras and Guardians instead. 

The characters are unique in themselves. Patrick is a gorgeous Irishman and Kate is a standard blond. Both have had major losses in life (in Patrick’s case death too) and both are unusually strong about putting up appearances that everything’s okay. While strong characters are a necessity, a few more realistic weaknesses would have been nice.

The plot is original. It doesn’t follow any of the standard cadences of a lot of today’s books. At the same time there isn’t anything stunning unique about it – typical boy meets girl type thing and it feels like you’ve read that dance someone else before. It could be a lot stronger.
Overall it isn’t a bad book. It’s a very easy read, and in the franchise of boy meets girl books it’s pretty typical if you like that sort of thing. While I’m not interested in reading it again, I would probably recommend it to friends that need something easy, light and fluffy to read. 

My Rating: 


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Soapbox: Jace

Hello, hello! It's me again. ^_^ While not intentionally trying to start a new discussion this came to me days after a conversation with a fellow blogger. I can't say this will be every week, but I think it's appropriate to have a Soapbox discussion on characters, plots, book genre, etc that we'd like to rant about (whether good or bad) and discuss. And what better day to have a Soapbox discussion then Saturday? ^_^ So, here's what's been pestering me for the better part of the week.

I had this conversation with a fellow blogger a few days ago and I’ve been still thinking about it, so I’ve decided what the heck, let me post it as a conversation piece and see what everyone else is thinking. This is her part of the conversation:

Question, do you like Jace? How do you perceive him as a character? Do you get the vibe that even though he's always self loathing, that there's really nothing for him to be hating himself about really? b/c that's how I feel. He's good; we know he's good, he just won't acknowledge it and that’s why he drives me up the wall and the author I was arguing with told me... "Is he really good if he was still willing to have sex with Clary after he knew she was his sister?" and I was like whoa…

I’m sure everyone can see where she’s coming from. And I’m sure everyone knows the author she was arguing with had a valid point… but what do you think? Here’s my input on Jace:

In my opinion Jace is really confused. He’s been raised by a really bad man for the most impressionable years of his life. This is bound to leave scaring. I think he knows that he’s a good guy, but instead of examining the light in him, he’s always focusing on the negative in him. Because his father was always quick to point out flaws and weaknesses Jace automatically tortures himself over flaws and weakness that aren’t really significant. 

As far as still wanting Clary even after thinking she was his sister this doesn’t make him a bad person. He was always acknowledging that it was wrong. That he shouldn’t love her the way he does. This very response is what makes him a good person. As the Seelie Queen said, “Desire is not always lessened by disgust. Nor can it be bestowed, like a favor, to those most deserving of it.” Jace was disgusted with himself for loving his “sister” as more than his sister. He knew it was wrong; he tormented himself over it; and he tried really hard to walk away from it. 

And really we can determine Jace’s goodness by comparing to Sebastian. Sebastian IS Clary’s brother. He wasn’t all disgusted by kissing her and he knew. He was in fact disappointed with her rejection of him. Obviously, there’s something wrong with his head and he’s the bad guy. He didn’t think it was wrong in the least. Which makes him another kind of sicko as well, but we’ll skip over that for now. 

End result of this rant: Jace isn’t a bad guy he’s just massively confused and needs to take some meditation time to figure out what the hell he really wants.

What do you think? I’d love to read it. ^_^ Feel free to share in the comments or link back your post. ^_^

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Treasured Thursdays: Debut Authors

Treasured Thursday is all about our most treasured. This week is debut author. So what is your treasure that you’d like to share with everyone? ^_^ Here’s mine:
This week’s feature is Amy Plum’s Die For Me. The book isn’t very old at all (it was just published in May). ^_^ I instantly fell in love with this book. From the cover, to the cadence of the story, the characters, even the supporting characters are great loveable people.
What I really enjoyed most was Amy Plum’s characters and their interactions. The Revenants aren’t blood related in any way (some born centuries apart) but they feel like a close knitted family. And while all families have their problems, they’re very open about identifying and fixing what they people to be a problem. They feel like a real family and that feeling makes them very likeable and relatable in my mind. I like reading about a group of people that work together like family, even if they’re not, even if once a month someone is dying.
Another thing that this book has going for it and I love, is that all the characters are real and personable. I can relate to all of them. They’re not just cardboard cut outs. A lot of today’s books have characters that are just there and we don’t really get to connect with them. In Die For Me we get the inside scoop on all the characters. Even if it’s only a paragraph here or there. At least I have something that helps me understand how they tick and I can relate to them.
The plot’s no push over either. While I’m not a zombie fan, this takes the concept to a whole new level. I wouldn’t mind being a revenant. It’s not a glamorous life, but it’s certainly a much different portrayal then eating brains for dinner. ^_^ I pretty sure we’re about to be at war too, which is going to be an awesome strain on our characters and I want to see how they hold up to that. (Since most of them died in battle at least once though, maybe some of them are blasé about it. It’ll be cool to find out.)
This is a really solid debut book. I wasn’t disappointed in the least with it, and really can find no faults to complain about. (And I’ve read it five times already since getting it.) I would certainly recommend it to everyone for a fun read. ^_^ (And it's set in Paris. How sexy is that? ^_^)
How about yours?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publish Date: December 2, 2010
Publisher: Penguin Group

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited? (From Goodreads)

Primarily, I picked up this book for something to read that wasn’t supernatural, fairies or angels etc, etc. This is a plain Jane nothing-out-of-norm-about-it book. I hadn’t expected to like it as much as I do. I definitely hadn’t expected it to make me cry or cheer for the team, or laugh out loud, but I did all those things too. ^_^ 

Etienne St. Clair is gorgeous, funny, and short, as he likes to continuously point out. He’s also got an amazing human fear of heights, and even a good set of stairs can put him into a near panic attack. These weaknesses might I add, is a rarity in our male characters unless they’re an antagonist so this was quite a surprise. He speaks French and English (with a British accent) but he claims American citizenship too. Etienne is an irresistible character and I found myself liking his personality nearly instantly. He’s got problems, everyone does, but his makes him a more believable and certainly relatable character. His conflict of emotions within himself is so real I felt for him on an entirely new level of feeling for a character. 

Anna is everything I want in a best friend. She has a good heart, and she does try really hard to do the right thing. Very hard in some instances with Etienne. It’s not always the right decision, but I respect her for trying as hard as she did. Her parents are real blokes (^_^) and Ms. Perkins does a good job of illustrating (figuratively of course) Anna’s struggle with trying to keep everything as balanced as possible with her family. Her issues aren’t as grand as Etienne’s in a sense, but hers have a more emotional base more then likely because it is told through her eyes, so the reader does get more of her emotions. I wanted to frustrate for her, cry with her, and laugh with her through out the book. (And I did in several spots.)

By the closing of the book I was anxious to see the outcome between Anna and Etienne as well as the solution to the year long problem of dance around or propriety. The way they dance around each other in the book is a classic example of boy like girl (or girl likes off limits boy) but it’s done in such a refreshing new way that I can’t help but like it. 

It’s really hard for a book to get an emotional rise out of me. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for a book to get me to cry, or at least well up so bad I had to wipe my eyes to keep from crying outright. Anna and the French Kiss pulled me in and kept me riveted the entire way through. I definitely recommend this book for reading to anyone that likes/loves a really good love story. ^_^

My Rating:


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teaser Tuesday hosted by Should Be Reading

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

So my book this week is Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I'm not too far in the book yet so these are from pretty early on. ^_^ The sentences in this book are pretty short so I had problems finding one with enough detail yet not enough to spoil. ^_^
"I glance around and I'm startled to find St. Clair looking at me." pg 29
"St Clair plucks it from my fingers and pops it into his mouth." pg 33

2 Cent Tuesdays At Penny Reads

This week's 2 cents: Do any of you ever read a book and the characters, plot, setting, and etc. make you think of certain songs? I know it happens for me all the time. So my question today is what are some songs you think are perfect for some of the books you've read and enjoyed?

SomeoneThat You're With by Nickelback. Every time I hear this song I think of Puck and Meghan from Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. The song is about the guy that lives across the hall but moves to slow to get the girl and she's out with others all the time. It's so related to his situation that I can't help but think of them every time.

Far From Home by Five Finger Death Punch. This is Ash's theme song from Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. It's about a guy trying to find his way home. That no matter all the experiences he has and no matter how hard he tries he can't get home. It makes me think on how no matter how hard Ash tries her can't go home to Meghan. It's really sad.

The World Belongs to Me by My Darkest Days. This song brings to life the Fallen series by Lauren Kate. Everything in these lyrics describes something in one of the books. It's almost as if it was written as a theme song for the entire series. Each line brings up a different part of the books in my mind. ^_^

Unaffectedby Hoobastank is Sam's theme song from Shiver. It's so very true on how Grace's parents think of Sam. It's a perfect representation of Sam versus Grace's parents.I love it very much for just that reason. (And I like to think it sounds like somethign Sam would write. ^_^)