Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2012 Sophomore Reading Challenge

I was looking across reading challenges I might enjoy in 2012 and came across this one. It is hosted by Chick Loves Lit, and it'll give me a chance to pick up second books by authors I enjoyed, or try out some I missed the first time around. You can click here to sign up.

What: Reading books by authors with their second MG or YA published in 2012
When: January 1st 2012-January 31st 2013
Level: Read at least ten books by sophomore MG/YA authors


  1. The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe (Review)
  2. Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard (Review)
  3. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (Review)
  4. Zero by Tom Leveen (Review)
  5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Review) 
  6. First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky (Review)
  7. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Review) 
  8. Scorch by Gina Damico (Review) 
  9. Waking Storms by Sarah Porter (Review) 
  10. Burn by Heath Gibson (Review)
  11. --
  12. --
Here's my tentative list so far:
  1. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  2. Fever by Lauren DeStefano
  3. Try Not To Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard
  4. Revived by Cat Patrick
  5. Never Enough by Denise Jaden 
  6. The Right & the Real by Joëlle Anthony
  7. The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton  
  8. Rebel Heart by Moira Young 
  9. Arise by Tara Hudson 
I have already read the following titles: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Midnighters Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

The Midnighters Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld includes The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, and Blue Noon. As I occasionally do on this blog I've decided to combine my reviews of these books into one post, sharing thoughts general enough that they will avoid spoilers for any of the novels.

Over the last year or two, Scott Westerfeld has been one of those authors I always intend to read and yet never managed to pick up. So when I was in need of a new audiobook I decided it was the perfect time to test out his Midnighters Trilogy and experience his writing firsthand. I already owned the Uglies Series but I needed a break from dystopia and the creepy premise of The Secret Hour caught my eye.

The Midnighters Trilogy takes place in Bixby, Oklahoma, a place where every evening at midnight the town belongs to the dark creatures that haunt the shadows. Only a few people, who call themselves the Midnighters, know about this secret hour and are free to move around during it when the rest of the world is frozen. Each of them has their own special power which is strongest during the secret hour, and each of them has one thing in common: they were born at exactly midnight. When The Secret Hour begins Jessica Day has just moved to Bixby and immediately Rex, the seer of the group, recognizes the midnight aura on her. However, it soon becomes clear that Jessica is not an ordinary Midnighter and something about her scares the dark creatures very much, and they will do anything to stop her before she can figure out what exactly her special power is. 

The entire series, but especially The Secret Hour is driven far more by plot than character development. In many cases I would have found this frustrating, but Westerfeld is so imaginative in his world-building that I instead found myself appreciating the story he had created even if most of the characters were either unlikable or simply boring when it came to their personalities. That said, there are definitely moments, like when Jessica first discovers the secret hour, that are beautiful in their dreamlike qualities.

The second Midnighters book, Touching Darkness, wasn't quite as awe-inspiring as the first for me, I still enjoyed it but having gotten familiar with the world and characters in the first book, this one felt a lot less meaty in comparison. I did like the storyline, but there was more romance in this book than The Secret Hour and I didn't connect with it as well as I hoped. Touching Darkness delves deeper into the interpersonal relationships between the Midnighters and so readers who appreciate that component of a story may actually prefer this novel to its prequel. My own problem was that I think it is actually the characters I have issues with, I don't like any of them, except maybe Jessica a bit, and while that didn't bother me in the first book they seemed to get increasingly whiny in this one.

Where Westerfeld really excels is with the history and myth behind the Midnighters, of which there is plenty but ultimately, I found the main storyline of Touching Darkness certainly kept my attention better than the subplots.

The final book in the Midnighters trilogy is Blue Noon, and I can definitely tell you that if this had been my first book by Westerfeld I doubt I would have picked up any subsequent novels. That's because it seems as if the book goes for shock rather than coherence. I don't need every little piece of the story tied up for me but a big twist is thrown into the mix near the very end of a Trilogy only to have it leave the characters all sorta just floating, and after so much time with them I really wanted more closure. To be honest, I feel like the way things ended in Blue Noon was really more annoying than surprising, because it was really a case where I was left going really? However, while it could be argued that at least it got a reaction out of me I'd still have preferred a positive one. 

Ultimately I'm glad I read the Midnighters Trilogy. Westerfeld has created an incredible and unique world, and I am amazed to have gotten a small glimpse into his complex mind. This trilogy definitely left me wanting to try other books by Westerfeld, but as much as I enjoyed The Secret Hour in particular, I remain skeptical of his ability to wrap up a series in a way that doesn't make me want to throw the book across the room.

The Secret Hour: 
Release Date: February 19th, 2004         Pages: 304
Source: Audiobook                                  Buy the Book
Touching Darkness:
Release Date: March 1st, 2005               Pages: 336
Source: Audiobook                                  Buy the Book
Blue Noon:
Release Date: February 28th, 2006         Pages: 352
Source: Audiobook                                   Buy the Book

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Overbite by Meg Cabot

Note: This review contains no spoilers of Overbite, but does contain spoilers of the first book in the series, Insatiable, a review of which can be found here

Overbite by Meg Cabot

Release Date: July 5th, 2011
Pages: 278
Format: Hardcover and Audiobook
Publisher: William Morrow
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Source: Publisher and Personal Shelf
Buy It: Book Depository
Also By This Author: Prom Nights From Hell; Abandon
Meena is now working for the Palatine, a demon-hunting organization, despite having Lucien Anton­escu, son of Dracula, for an ex-boyfriend.  She knows convincing her co-workers—including Alaric Wulf—that vampires can be redeemed won’t be easy, especially when a deadly threat begins endangering the lives of both the Palatine and Meena's friends and family.
I enjoyed Insatiable enough to be curious about its sequel Overbite, but unfortunately this one fell flat for me. It seemed like everything Cabot was mocking in the first book, she took seriously in this one. You know all that wonderful snark I talked in Insatiable? Yeah, it's gone. And I missed it. A lot. The result is that Overbite becomes a fairly generic paranormal romance and without the sharp wit that made Insatiable enjoyable I often found myself bored and disinterested while reading Overbite.

Overbite was nearly half the length of Insatiable but the book actually felt longer, and not in a good way, even though it often seemed quite rushed. That said, I didn't really mind how rushed the storytelling was, because the story itself was predictable and cliche. Everything Meena mocks in Insatiable suddenly becomes the norm in Overbite and it bothered me how easily she gave up a lot of backbone that made her so feisty.

Lucien also became really weird and creepy, even for a vampire, in this book and it felt like Cabot was introducing a brand new character rather than developing an old one.  Everything from the plot, to the character development to the ending of the book felt hasty. The ending in particular came out of nowhere and Meena's decisions seemed to contradict with everything she'd spent two books emphasizing. Overall a disappointment, I cannot see myself continuing the Insatiable series following Overbite

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Release Date: June 8th, 2010
Pages: 451
Format: Paperback and Audiobook
Publisher: William Morrow
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Source: Publisher and Personal Shelf
Buy It: Book Depository
Also By This Author: Prom Nights From Hell; Abandon
Meena Harper knows how you're going to die, but even her precognition can't prepare her for what happens when she meets Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side... a dark side an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would like to see him dead for.
Although I've dabbled with Meg Cabot before but Insatiable was my first time picking up one of her adult titles and I was curious to see how it would compare to her YA. Well, in comparison to her YA paranormal romance title Abandon, Insatiable definitely pumps up the romance, the violence, and even the length of the book. However, more isn't always better and this was one of those cases where I did wish certain elements had been scaled back quickly and not quite so far over the top. Still, while it's no secret I'm usually not a fan of vampires, I did enjoy Cabot's snarky twist on the topic: a main character who is sick of hearing about vampires, only to find out she's dating one.

The story itself flowed smoothly, and although I got very sick of hearing the name "Meena Harper" repeated again and again on audiobook, it managed to keep me interested the entire time. Insatiable was also another one of those books where I couldn't have cared less about the love interest it seems female readers are supposed to swoon over, in this case Lucien, but I definitely appreciated the underdog in this story, Alaric who is a vampire-hunter. Cabot also includes some charming side characters, and often got some chuckles out of me when it came to  Meena's neighbours and co-workers. The tiny details that make a character unique and interesting is something Cabot is incredibly talented at. I also really enjoyed the sarcastic tone of the book.

Although not perfect for me, Insatiable is an entertaining book that I'd certainly recommend to readers interested in a paranormal romance with a touch of bite.*

*pun totally intended

Double Take (1)

I've seen plenty of features like this around so usually when I stumble across a duplicate it's already been shared, but this is a new one I just noticed. I found it interesting that they are both new releases, one is a YA 2011, and the other Adult 2012. Both are debuts, however the cover for Forgotten is from the UK edition. I find the girl with the red hair particularly striking.
The Legacy of Eden by Nelle Davey (Harlequin) VS. Forgotten by Cat Patrick (Egmont Books Ltd)

I prefer first cover in this case, I find Forgotten a little odd, the girl is in colour except for her back. They've also manipulated the photo to add higher sleeves to the dress and over-contrasted the hair. I like the vivid sky in the Davey title as well.

Here's the original image for comparison:
And another one from the same shoot I found:
Have you seen any cover doubles around lately? Out of these two, do you have a favourite?

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Monday, what are you reading? (16)

Hosted by The Book Journey
I got a decent amount of reading done this week by picking up mostly short books. Still, it feels nice to have finished something! Plus, I'm actually catching up on NaNoWriMo, I was planning to give up but now it would be foolish not to finish, so hopefully I can.

Last week I finished reading:
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
I was really excited about the opportunity to read this book before it was released, but what I didn't really think about was the fact that now I have to wait EVEN LONGER to read the final novel in the trilogy. This one was intense and well-written but ugh that ending has me so annoyed at Clara. Hopefully she redeems herself.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
I'd been listening to this audio for awhile but finally finished it up this week, and absolutely adored it. Jim Dale is an amazing reader, and Morgenstern has written an incredible, beautiful, dark and magical story. I keep seeing positive reviews on this book and you can expect another one of those on my blog in the future.

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
I like novels in verse, and I always find it interesting to read about things outside my normal life, in this case a teen that gets a scholarship for ballet school. I started off really enjoying the book, but by the end the main character, Sara, was both getting on my nerves and not making sense. She makes some pretty major decisions that are mostly floated over in a way that I don't think can be blamed on the format.

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
Creepy and unexpected compared to what I've read by Levithan before, I didn't a hundred percent connect with this book but I think it's one that would have been better if I was reading it actually as a teen when you are maybe dealing with more of the darkness and issues brought up in the book. The photographs were honestly kinda meh to me, I mean it's interesting the way that the book was written, inspired by photographs and never knowing which one was going to be sent next, but I guess I expected the photos themselves to be more remarkable and while they work in the context of the book I'm not sure how intriguing I would have found them on their own. 

What I plan to read this week:
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
My new audio adventure! So adorable and I love the narrator for this one as well. I was waiting for hype to die down to read this but then Lola was released and it started all over again so I figured might as well give it a try. And so far I'm about a third in and I love it.

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead
Just starting this interesting non-fiction, hopefully I can finish it in time for the book tour date. I'm pretty sure I won't have time to finish it this week, but well, miracles can happen right?

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose 
Another novel in verse I noticed I had from Netgalley. It's a 2012 debut but I decided to read it now anyway. I'm really enjoying it and out of the three novels in verse I've read recently it is certainly my favourite so far. The format really captures the hesitancy of the narrator, and that cover is gorgeous! I bet the finished copy is going to look amazing.

Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill
Whoops. Sorta forgot about this one last week. I'm actually loving the book itself, it's just one of those books, maybe cause it's non-fiction- memoir but with a lot of information included- that you enjoy when you're reading but when you put it down you don't get this instantaneous urge to pick it up again. Anyway if I have time I'd definitely love to read the rest this week.

What are you reading this Monday?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (October 30th-November 19th 2011)

Well I'm really behind on this meme! I spent the last two weekends away and have some catching up to do, but luckily it's not too long because this hasn't really been a book-heavy month.

October 30th- November 5th 
{For Review}
Camp Nine by Vivienne Schiffer (TLC Tours)
First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci (Unsolicited) (Scholastic Canada)
iBoy by Kevin Brooks (Unsolicited) (Scholastic Canada)
Cow: A Bovine Biography by Florian Werner (D&M Publishers)

The first book looks incredibly powerful and I am hoping to read it soon. The middle two books are outside of what I would normally read, but may be interesting. The final one is so unique and interesting and I can't wait to find out what kind of impact the cow has had historically- kinda the perfect book to read while living in cattle country!

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Thanks so much to Ambur for the awesome amazing birthday books! I'm so excited to finally own my own lovely hardcover copy of Birthmarked and the LHA is one I've been wanting to read for awhile and now have the perfect excuse.

November 6th-12th
{For Review}
The Doll by Daphne du Maurier (TLC Book Tours)

Never read anything by this author before, but I know she's a classic, so I'm intrigued to try this lesser known book by her.

November 13th-19th
{For Review}
Matched by Ally Condie (Penguin Canada)
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (ARC) (Harper Collins Canada)

I ended up with two copies of Crossed by none of its prequel, so I was really glad when Matched arrived this week and will be curious to try out the series. I've already read and absolutely adored Liesl & Po so there will be a review soon- even the ARC is gorgeous but I'm definitely purchasing myself a finished copy!

What's been in your mailbox lately?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review Elsewhere: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

"Contemporary Young Adult writer Sarah Dessen is one of those authors who is just reliable; her novels are consistent in their strong female main characters, relatable stories and settings, interesting subplots, and family drama. Her 2009 release Along for the Ride provides all of the above in an easy-to-read package."

Friday, November 18, 2011

2012 Debut Author Challenge

Hosted by The Story Siren, I really enjoyed participating in this challenge in 2011 because it encouraged me to pick up books by new authors, many of which I really loved. You can click here to sign up.

What: Reading young adult books by authors debuting in 2012
When: January 1st 2012-January 31st 2013
Level: Read at least twelve books by debut YA authors

I've already cheated and suspect there will be a couple more I read before the official start date, but these are the tentative titles, I'll be updating this page as well once the challenge officially begins.

  1. The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes (Review)
  2. The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark (Review)
  3. Torn by Stephanie Guerra (Review)  
  4. Croak by Gina Damico (Review
  5. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (Review) 
  6. Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic (Review)
  7. All These Lives by Sarah Wylie (Review)
  8. Auracle by Gina Rosati (Review)
  9. The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina (Review)
  10. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (Review)

  11. --
  12. --

To Read:
  1. Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger
  2. After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
  3. The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani  
  4. Slide by Jill Hathaway
  5. Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  6. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  7. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  8. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
  9. The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova
  10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  11. Tempest by Julie Cross
  12. Above by Leah Bobet
  13. The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker 
  14. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  15. Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
  16. What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen
  17. Trafficked by Kim Purcell
  18. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
  19. The Girls of No Return by Erin Salden
  20. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
  21. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  22. Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
  23. Splintered by A.G. Howard
  24. Chained by Lynne Kelly
  25. The Glimpse by Claire Merle
  26. Cracked by K.M. Walton
Read before challenge start date: Fracture by Megan Miranda, May B. by Caroline Starr Rose

Author Megan Bostic on This Or That

Author Megan Bostic picks her preferences:
  1. E-book or hardcopy? Definitely hardcopy. I’ve not yet gone the way of the e-book. I still like to turn pages.
  2. Paperback or hardcover? Paperback. I don’t feel as guilty spilling on them, doggy earring them, or bending them at the bind.
  3. Coffee or tea? I could not live without coffee. Well, I could, but someone might have to die.
  4. Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Vanilla is too flavorless. If I’m having dessert, I want it decadent.
  5. TV or film? Film. I only watch TV on Netflix now, and I have a hard time finding shows I want to watch.
  6. Walk or run? Walk. Running should be outlawed.
  7. Morning or evening? Evening. Even though I wake up early, I’m not officially a “morning” person.
  8. Cats or dogs? Can I choose neither? My allergies keep me from being an animal lover. If I had to choose though, Cats definitely. I love their aloofness.
  9. Beach or pool? The beach. I love sitting beneath the sun digging my toes through the sand.
  10. Pen or pencil? Pen. Not even sure when I last used a pencil.
  11. Hot or cold? Hot. I hate to be cold. No matter how hot it gets in the summer, I never complain, because I know what’s coming in a matter of weeks. Brrr.
  12. Age seventeen or eighteen? Seventeen was a much better year for me. Carefree, no worries. Eighteen is a different story.
Megan loves the color black, monkeys, and is a notorious Facebook addict. She’s a proud member of The Class of 2K12 and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You can also find her on Twitter, Goodreads, Jacketflap, and anywhere else cool authors hang out.

Thanks so much to Megan for stopping by In The Next Room! To learn more about her debut novel, Never Eighteen, stop by her website. Click here to check out the other stops on this tour

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Last Survivors Series by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I have decided to combine my reviews of the three novels so far in the Last Survivors Series by Susan Beth Pfeffer- Life As We Knew It, The Dead and the Gone, and This World We Live In- into one review. However I am vague enough that you are able to read the complete review without spoiling any of the novels.

Life As We Knew It is the perfect title for a book where the world ends. Well not quite, but a meteor does hit the moon and while everyone thinks it's not going to be a big deal, but that turns out to be far from the truth. The tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that follow are only the beginning, all chronicled in the diary of a teenage girl named Miranda who struggles for survival along with her mother and two brothers in the face of limited food and water and an increasingly destructive outside world.

Life As We Knew It is the kind of book that envelops the reader, taking you into a world that one instant looks exactly like your own before turning it on its head in an incredibly terrifying and breath-taking away. What made the novel so unique was how you get to see the damage unfold, making it different than many post-apocalyptic novels, like Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, which usually begin long after the destruction has begun.

With Life As We Knew It Pfeffer tells a story that is both horrible and utterly human, about what good people will do under desperate circumstances- especially when it comes to family. Miranda, like most of her family, are less interesting as characters than they are as a mechanism for telling a riveting tale that will keep your heart pounding till the last page. However, in a way that works, because it is instantly clear to the reader that they could be anyone and that is what makes it scariest of all.

The incredibly intense feeling that Life As We Knew It left in me was why I was so excited to pick up its sequel, The Dead and the Gone, only to find out that the book is actually told over a similar period of time from a different perspective that doesn't involve Miranda and her family at all. Instead, it is the story of Alex, a Puerto Rican teenage Catholic boy living in New York City with his two young sisters and whose parents don't come home when the meteor hits. Forced to care for them under increasingly worse circumstances, Alex struggles for their survival as well as having to decide whether or not to leave the city- and risk never seeing his parents again- or stay, and risk all three of their lives.

Unlike its prequel, The Dead and the Gone is written in the third person and it's not a format I enjoyed as much. Possibly this has something to do with audiobook narrators, as I didn't particularly enjoy the reader for this book in the series, but mostly I think it is a result of the lack of tension felt from that perspective. With Miranda's story, I constantly felt on edge about what was going to happen next, but possibly because the reader already had a good idea about the environmental disasters going on from the first book, I just didn't feel the same excitement for this story.

The Dead and the Gone is also an incredibly religious story in comparison to its predecessor, and in a way I found that made it less accessible and universal. It also means that Alex faces some moral dilemmas not shared by Miranda and which I wasn't entirely convinced about; like breaking into the apartment of a tenant that has gone on holiday and is clearly not coming back, when you have no food to feed your family. Ultimately, Alex just isn't relateable in the same way that Miranda was and despite being so excited for The Dead and the Gone, I just wanted more from this book and unfortunately the longer I let it settle in and percolate, the more dissatisfied I feel with it.

The original Last Survivors Trilogy- which is now supposed to be expanded on- finishes with This World We Live In, a novel once again from Miranda's diary perspective, but which brings the characters from the first two books together when Alex is among a group of people who show up at Miranda's family's doorstep. Unfortunately, I found This World We Live In to be an incredibly disappointing finale in a way that left me regretting having read past Life As We Knew It, which ended quite satisfactorily, in the trilogy; although I must admit I am hopeful enough, and these books are quick enough reads, that I would likely pick up a future addition to the series.

Most of my issues with the novel would contain important spoilers, but basically Alex comes across as pretty unlikable which made me not particularly care how things turned out for him, and the majority of the characters seem to go a bit crazy by the end of the book. For a book where most of the time things seem to be getting better, it is like all of a sudden the author changed her mind and threw every negative event possible at the characters (Mockingjay anyone?) I was also pretty sick of this audiobook narrator by about halfway through, as well as getting impatient with the story, so I ended up finishing my hard copy of the novel. I was really hoping to end on the same kind of high note that Last Survivors began with, and though I did appreciate the return to the diary format, This World We Live In was just not the grand finale that a series beginning with as great a book as Life As We Knew It deserves.

Life As We Knew It:
Release Date: October 1st, 2006                                                              Pages: 360
Source: Audiobook and Review Copy From Publisher                             Buy the Book
The Dead and the Gone:
Release Date: June 1st, 2008                                                                   Pages: 321
Source: Audiobook and Review Copy  From Publisher                            Buy the Book
This World We Live In:
Release Date: April 1st, 2010                                                                   Pages: 239
Source: Audiobook and Review Copy  From Publisher                            Buy the Book 

Review Elsewhere: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

"Although I have loved books by both John Green (Looking for Alaska) and David Levithan (The Lover’s Dictionary) separately, together they simply blew me away with a story that is heart-warming, hilarious, and completely honest. "

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's Monday, what are you reading? (15)

Hosted by The Book Journey
I'm back! This last week turned into a bit of an unintended hiatus- I was home in Montreal visiting family, plus I've been trying to do nanowrimo (argh, failing so hard!) and I didn't even finish reading any books the week before this past one so there was no point in doing one of these updates. Although I'm still majorly behind on reviews. Yikes, I know. But I think I needed a blog break anyway, just to make sure it doesn't start to feel like work. I suspect reading will be minimal for the rest of the month as well, especially if I want to get anywhere near "winning" with my novel but I am back home in Alberta and hopefully will have some time for updates and commenting again.

Two weeks ago I finished reading:
Nothing! I know, horrible eh?

Last week I finished reading:
Fracture by Megan Miranda
A 2012 debut, I'd seen this compared a lot to books like If I Stay but it actually has this paranormal element to it that I didn't expect. It was a good read, although not the kind of book I'd be likely to pick up a second time, I did enjoy and the author can definitely tell a riveting tale.

Tankborn by Karen Sandler
I'd seen such a rave review of this on The Lost Entwife that I decided to try it even though I am a little over-saturated with dystopia at the moment and I don't really like the cover. However, I LOVE the book. Wow, such a complex and incredible setting, plus it was nice to see the author use people of colour in her story since that seems to be quite rare in the genre.

The Wild Book by Margarita Engle
I actually really enjoy novels-in-verse when they are done well, but this one felt like not quite a book. I'm not sure if that's because it's middle-grade (I thought it was YA when I picked it up, but it's definitely not), but I wanted a lot more from the story, it felt more like an outline with a few places filled in than a complete and rich novel.

What I plan to read this week:
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Nearly done this one and loving it, so intense. The prequel, Unearthly was a surprise hit with me earlier this year so I was so excited to see this on Netgalley and am going to be incredibly impatient for the final book!

Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gill
I read almost half of this while waiting nearly 4 hours at the doctor's office last Monday but haven't really picked it up since. I love Gill's writing but I do find it goes off on tangents at times, there is a lot of history involved and so far there are definitely times where I wanted a little less of that, and a little more about what it is like being a tree-planter, and the unique communities tree planters have, etc. Like I said though, the writing is beautiful and I hope I get the chance to finish it this week.

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

One final book incase I have time, I started this two weeks ago but left it in Alberta when I went home so I definitely want to pick it up again soon. I love Levithan but I am finding there is too much of the strike-through technique used in the small portion (about 10%) that I've read so far. I understand its purpose and can appreciate it when it's used sparingly like in Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, but if it happens too much it does start to feel a little gimmicky. Hopefully that won't be the case once I really get into the book.

What are you reading this Monday?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

With the end of 2011 approaching way to fast, I decided to make this giveaway to give you the chance to win one of my favourite books from 2010- just incase you missed out the first time around. The winner will be able to pick between Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is an international giveaway assuming that the Book Depository ships to you for free. This is also my first time testing out Rafflecopter so hopefully it works as awesomely as it seems to for most people.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Author Interview with Caragh M. O'Brien

The title of the first book in the series, Birthmarked, is both literal and highly symbolic, is the meaning of Prized also so complex? Are there any hints you can give about its origin?

Let me first say, Zoe, you’re so nice to have me by for a visit during my blog tour. Thank you for such an interesting variety of questions. They’ve really encouraged me to ponder.

As for titles, I struggle with them, so I’m glad you think these work. The best titles invite someone to read the book and then take on resonance once the reader is further into the story. A member of the art team at Macmillan, Anne Diebel, came up with “Birthmarked” after I’d already suggested two hundred possibilities that didn’t work, like “The Baby Quota” and “The Freckle Code.” For “Prized,” I tried for a concept at the center of the novel, where girls are valued because of their scarcity. If you’re a girl, that might sound like a good thing, but there is a lot of unfairness when one group of people is prized over another, and the title matches how complicated things get for Gaia.

Did you always want to be a writer or was it something you discovered later in life?

This question is surprisingly difficult to answer because “be a writer” means two different things to me. I started keeping a journal in 7th grade and read everything I could get my hands on, so I was a writer in the real sense of the word long before it occurred to me that I could try to be a writer for my job. That discovery happened my senior year in college. Then life continued, you know. I’ve always written regardless of what other jobs I’ve had, and now with the Birthmarked trilogy, I’m a writer for my job, too.

How did teaching high school impact the kind of young adult book you decided to write?

Teaching undoubtedly helped my writing because I witnessed my students first-hand when they grappled with issues of injustice, so I knew they’d be drawn to complex moral stakes in a novel. I also gained a clear sense of how quickly readers can become bored, and how unforgiving they are once that happens, so I wanted to write a book that would be fun to read with a fast pace, adventure, and unexpected twists. Being with teens daily convinced me I never have to hold back in any way just because some of my readers are chronologically younger than I am. I hope Gaia captures a little of the bravery and resourcefulness I knew in so many of my students.

How would you describe Prized in ten words or less?

Ha! Here goes:
Gaia fights a matriarchy, guys, the environment, and her heart.

Any hints about what we can expect in Promised? (I had to ask!)

I’m deep into the 7th draft of Promised right now, and it goes to copy edits at the end of October, so it’s very much on my mind. You’re the first one who’s asked about it online, actually. I suppose the third book is what happens when the first two books collide. Yes. That’s what it is. It’s pretty intense, with some heartache and a bit of gore. My favorite things.

Prized Code #12: O

Caragh M. O'Brien is the author of BIRTHMARKED and PRIZED, two novels in a dystopia trilogy which will end in 2012 with PROMISED. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ms. O'Brien was educated at Williams College and earned her MA from Johns Hopkins University. She has resigned from teaching high school English in order to write full-time.

Thanks so much to Caragh for stopping by In The Next Room! To learn more about her dystopia trilogy, stop by her website. To visit the rest of the stops on this book tour, click here.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Practical Jean by Trevor Cole

Practical Jean by Trevor Cole

Release Date: September 21st, 2010
Pages: 320
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Source: TLC Book Tours
Buy It: Book Depository
Jean is an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age who sees her mother go through the final devastating months of cancer, and realizes that her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. And that's when she decides to kill them . . .
Unfortunately this book wasn't quite for me. The satire was well done, not the over-the-top kind that gets on my nerves like Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, but although I found moments entertaining I never quite bought into the initial premise. It seemed that perhaps Cole didn't spend enough time setting up the story, and I never really believed that Jean would kill all these people without thinking twice. While Cole gave her an interesting (and entertaining) reason for doing so, her progression into crazy wasn't quite believable and so it was hard to fathom that she would be okay with murder, even if she didn't want her friends to have to age. Perhaps if she was murdering somebody else she would potentially have to care for in their old age, like her husband, it would make more sense than killing off her closest friends, who she wouldn't have been responsible for, just because she loved them.

Another problem I had with the book was that I didn't care about Jean in the first place- her whole sob story about how her mom treated her and how nobody understands her art, none of it was expressed in a way that garnered any sympathy for me so I spent most of Practical Jean more frustrated with her than anything. I didn't even dislike her necessarily, she just annoyed me. There was also a strategically given speech by Jean that felt contrived instead of letting the story unfold naturally. Ultimately, Practical Jean is a novel with an interesting premise, but its execution and main character failed to capture my interest.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Waiting For Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

Waiting For Robert Capa by Susana Fortes

Release Date: September 27th 2011 (Published in Spanish June 2009)
Pages: 208
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Translator: Adriana V. Lopez
Source: TLC Book Tours
Buy It: Book Depository
A novel of love, war, and art, based on the turbulent real-life romance of legendary photojournalists Gerda Taro and Robert Capa who documented the Spanish Civil War.
Love, war and photography, now those are topics that got me excited for this novel based on true events, but unfortunately they didn't quite add up the way I hoped. The first quarter or so of Waiting For Robert Capa moved slowly, but the language itself was so lovely that even if Fortes wasn't quite catching my interest, I was enjoying the lyricalness of her storytelling. However, once the novelty wore off, I found myself often bored and frustrated with the story. There was a lot of name-dropping, and that included mentions of individuals that while real, aren't incredibly well-known these days and that I regularly had to look up. The annoying part of this was that often names were used when it would have sufficed to say 'the man' or 'the woman' because the individual only appears in one sentence of the entire novel.

By around midway through Waiting For Robert Capa had come to a conclusion: novels about real people aren't quite my thing, as I was having many of the same issues I had earlier this year with The Paris Wife by Paula McLain occur again and perhaps they are a symptom of this type of book? What I am referring to is a lovely but detached writing, so that I never connect to the story. Both books also felt alternatively very slow, or very rushed, depending on which events they lingered on or hurried over. I wonder if I was more familiar with the history behind the these stories I would understand better why the authors did this, but ultimately I found that often things I found most interesting were hardly touched on. In Waiting For Robert Capa this included Gerda's history before coming to France, and Robert's experiences after the war as well as his relationship with his Jewish identity.

Ultimately Waiting For Robert Capa was written with lovely language, but those words told a story that I had difficulty connecting to and which often bored me, however a reader who enjoys novels from the perspectives of real people may find more to appreciate in Fortes' storytelling than I did.