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Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: Sophomore Switch

Sophomore Switch
Author: Abby McDonald
Publish Date: March 2009
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Reeling from the aftershocks of "The Hot-Tub Incident," American party girl Tasha jumps at the chance to spend a semester at tweedy Oxford University - banking on the fact that the tabloid stories about her won't have made their way across the Pond. But Tasha starts to question her judgment when she finds herself Uggs-deep into feminist theory and unpopular with the university's intellectual student body.

Meanwhile, studious control freak Emily, reeling from a romantic incident of her own, decides she'd like a change, too. Disappointing her snooty British family, who would rather see her at Harvard than UC Santa Barbara, Emily throws herself into film classes - not to mention bikinis and beer pong. Her English accent gets her plenty of attention, but not all of it is welcome - especially the frustrating confrontations with a male classmate.

Thrust into lives as opposite from their own as possible, Tasha and Emily's only hope may lie in each other. Will their combined intelligence be enough to get them through their sophomore year switch? (Barnes and Noble)

Since my college education comes to me virtually I don’t have the experience of on campus living as is the general standard. Thus curious as to how different could two campuses really be I picked up the book. 

Oxford, oh Oxford, I really hope it’s not as stuffy as Tasha makes it out to be. Granted for a party child anything that has a well enforced set of rules would probably be stuffy to her. The description for UC Santa Barbara is a great deal opposite and I pray that it’s not so lax in its rules as described but then, this is America, it could quite well be. But I digress. Both campuses are well defined polar opposites that are also reflected well in our characters.

I like Em. Even being the control fanatic that she is, I like her spine and authority. Em doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind and put hard facts behind it. At the same time she has enough of imagination and heart to be able to run with the film major crowd without failing too terribly. She was floundering on her own, to be sure but it was nowhere as disastrous as Tasha. 

Tasha is everything Em is not. She’s flamboyant, comfortable with men and sex and generally a pretty good stereo type of a party girl. What is admirable about her, is that the classes at Oxford are way over her head but instead of buckling she tries desperately to keep up the grade. I think given enough time she might have righted herself as well but when things look bleak it’s always good to turn to the inside source. 

The story flips back and forth between Tasha and Em’s points of view.  It’s pretty fast paced but not so fast gaps are created and pertinent information gets lost in the void. It’s a fun story and there are several laugh out loud moments and several serious WTF moments. It’s a great easy read. 

My rating:

Book Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Publish Date: August 2007
Publisher: Penguin Group

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever. (Goodreads)

Vampires are the hot new raving sensation. With that being said reading one of the “mainstream” paranormal books was apprehensive at best. Upon picking up this book the expectations were low simply because of what it was about.

The locale is rather generic. A boarding school that’s protected in the middle of nowhere is the standard for most paranormal boarding schools. With the exception of a few there was nothing really original about the location. It was overall, pretty boring in its regularity. 

If the locale is bland Rose is hot sauce. There’s nothing bland about her. She’s devout and fiercely protective of what should be her charge. She’s also sarcastic to a fault and a fuddy duddy at heart if one can manage to reach it behind the wall of steel and the poison of her viperous tongue. 

The story moves along at a decent speed. It’s not rushed but at the same time it does feel a little laggy in places. There are areas where the information doesn’t make any amount of sense until later in the book. About halfway through the book I just from the occurrences I potentially guessed the pathway of the series. It’s not particularily canny about where it’s going but there’s enough twist that the road is interestingly enough to keep reading. 

Overall it’s an average book. It doesn’t have anything that would stand out and scream flamboyant. It’s a comfortable book. There’s no real rush yet, nor any super huge threat, yet. As the first in a pretty long series, I imagine this book is just for laying the groundwork and it picks up shortly. 

My Rating:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we just can’t wait for. ^_^ Without further interruption here is my pick for this week:

Illuminated by Aimee Agresti to be released on March 6th, 2012

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?(Goodreads)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Pyxis by KC Neal

First The Review:

Author: KC Neal
Publish Date: November 4, 2011
Publisher: Stonehouse Ink

Corinne lives an average teenage life working at her dad’s cafe, hanging out with her best friend, and trying to forget a falling-out with her almost-boyfriend Mason. Things take a strange turn when she uses her late grandmother’s food dyes for a bake sale, and her customers suddenly find her irresistibly alluring. Then she discovers she and Mason are haunted by the same dreams of a dark force that consumes everything in its path.

Pursued by shadowy figures and a crazy woman with secrets from the past, Corinne must find out who her grandmother really was. In her quest to unravel her family’s history, she learns she is destined to protect this world--and the dark world of her dreams. She races to find the answers she seeks before her nightmares break free.

I have this love/hate relationship with debut books. I love them because it could be something so fresh, new and eye popping that my brain will implode and I’ll die of great reading material. (It’s a metaphor, obviously, do you know how many times a year I would die if that were true?) And then I hate them because the author is untried and it could be a huge disaster that drags me through its pages and the only reason I finish the book is because I held myself at gun point. For this very reason I’m always scared but excited to read a debut book. However, I’m pleased to say that no gun is required for Pyxis. In fact if you plan on reading it I recommend a door with a sturdy lock on the inside so no one can interrupt your euphoric reading.  

The characters are fresh and not so standard. Corrinne is not one of the clique nor does she want to be. She stands on her own in the plethora of heroines. She’s not the sobby OMG save me type of girl and I like that she thinks or tries to for the most part.  Mason is what I think every girl wants. He’s a sweetheart through and through and his devotion – for lack of a better word – to Corrinne is endearing. 

The Plot moves along rather quickly, which is why I recommended that lock earlier. Once you get sucked into the book there’s no getting out of it until it’s done. You MUST know what happens or you’ll die of frustration. You’ll still die of frustration when you reach the end but at least you’d have gotten there. 

Overall it was an intriguing, and often pulling out my hair read. It’s something all to itself and I really can’t put it into words the awesomeness of the literature. The unknown is definitely something refreshing in YA and I look forward to the next book.  

My Rating:

And Now for the Giveaway:

What better way to start the new year then with a giveaway with the first review? ^_^ Have at and good luck! ^_^

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting. I've picked one that actually doesn't have a long wait this time around. THANKFULLY. >_<

Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale. Expected release: February 2nd 2012

When seventeen-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty-per-cent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when she tells her mum’s best friend, ‘Aunt Sarah’ that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie was not her biological mother after all... Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, hitching along on her ex-boyfriend’s GAP year to follow her to Los Angeles. But all does not go to plan, and as Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply-buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonising decision of her own - one which will be the most heart-breaking and far-reaching of all...

Haha! What do you think? Interesting no? ^_^

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Soapbox: Reader versus Writer

I’ve been hearing (second hand as I’ve not experienced it myself yet) about book bloggers that are being less then amicable about book bloggers that also write.  I’ve been told some book bloggers are downright rude about it. The most common thing vented off to me is the saying, “’We’re not writers we’re book bloggers.” Which is quite fine. I have no issues with that but it bothers me that some of my book blogger friends are thinking about closing their book blog because the book bloggers are being hostile about their writing talent. 

The book bloggers shouldn’t demean those that do write. My first question is what did you learn to do first read or write? We don’t actually have one without knowing the other.  Generally they both occur hand in hand do they not? I’m still trying to figure out why it’s so terrible someone that reads is being chided for writing too. 

I am both a reader and a writer. I have no qualms about announcing it. I am a video game art and design student at the art institute of Pittsburgh. As part of my major I’m often required to create complete characters and stories for them. Why shouldn’t I write them out? What does my creativity have to do with me being a reader? I can still be creative and enjoy someone else’s creativity. It gives me a break from my own. 

There’s another thing that I want to point out. Advice. Advice from whom? From other writers. I won’t list them off as that’s not the point, but I’ve been a part of several video chats, twitter chats, blog chats of several different authors that practically all give the same advice. I even have it written in one of my autographed books as I asked what she would say to an aspiring author. Would you like the answer?

I’ve been told directly and indirectly: “Read Everything you can get your hands on.” Thus since I am now reading the way a fat man eats cake why should I NOT share what I’ve learned about reading the book? Why should I not give my thoughts on the characters and stories and what I liked and what felt off to me? Why shouldn’t I share that with others? And I would like to point out that by reviewing a book you are writing. It’s called critical writing in case you didn’t know. So now we’re down to a catch 22. 

I have no issues with book bloggers or bloggers that are writers or bloggers that do both.  More power to you. I know life was hectic during Nanowri and I can proudly say I finished my first book during that and still read and posted reviews. If you’ve got the time there’s no reason not to do everything you love to do. 

As I said before this hasn’t even been said directly to me so I’m not really taking the offensive for me. However, if it were I’d just blow off the person as a spoilsport that probably can’t write creatively and that’s why they’re downing on those that can. Honestly, are we so petty that we have to bring others down to make ourselves feel better? 

Here is my bottom line then I’ll hop off my box. I don’t think it matters whether we read or we write or do both. What matters is we have fun. What matters is if we’re reviewing it’s fair and critical and if we’re writing that it’s true to ourselves. Whether we’re the ones writing them or the ones reading them or doing both; we all love books. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. We’re here for love and I for one am not going anywhere.