Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: The Vespertine

Title: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Release Date: March 7, 2011
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Format: Galley via NetGalley

There are three things that will ALWAYS make me pick up a book:  1) historical setting. 2) female main character. 3) Love interest who is an artist/musician/bohemian-type person. Being drawn to these types of stories, I have read many of them, some good, some very opposite of good. And I am glad to report that The Vespertine is great.

I wasn't sure if I'd like this book at first. It's told through narrative flashbacks of Amelia van der Broeck's disastrous summer spent in Baltimore. The first couple of chapters are pretty Debbie Downer-y and I was concerned that the entire book would be told in a very gray tone. But as soon as the story of Amelia's time in Baltimore launched, I was hooked.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday: Book to Movie Adaptations

I am super excited about this week's (and my first!) Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) because it combines two of my favorite things--books and movies! And better than that, I'm talking about my favorite film adaptations of books.

Considering that outside of work, the things I do most are read and watch movies, I like to think that I'm quite well-versed in this particular topic. So I've listed my favorites in a countdown fashion, added my comments on why I like the adaptation, and the trailer for you to check out if you feel so inclined.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Vixen

Title: Vixen
Author: Jillian Larkin
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Page Count: 421
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

This book is absolutely addictive. Larkin's sultry, tawdry, beautifully detailed 1920s Chicago drew me in immediately, and made me wish that I could be right there with Gloria, Clara, and Lorraine, witnessing the glory days of speakeasies and feeling the dangerous thrill of mingling with gangsters, musicians, and flappers.

Each chapter alternates between Gloria, Clara, and Lorraine, who all have very different motivations, but, in a way, the same goal--they all feel trapped in their lives and what to be something more they who they appear to be--they want to be who they really are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: I Am Number Four

Title: I Am  Number Four
Author: Pittacus Lore (aka, James Frey and Jobie Hughes)
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Page count: 440
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: August 3, 2010

In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.--from Goodreads 

After the  news of the James Frey Fiction Factory broke,  I found myself wrestling with my conscience over whether or not to read this book--I was curious to see if it was any good, especially because I knew that the screenplay (shopped around before the book, might I add) had made quite the splash in Hollywood, but I did not want to support overlord Frey or his minions who apparently don' t know how to read contracts. I held my moral highground for awhile, but when the movie trailers started airing and I heard others talking about how much they enjoyed the book, I finally decided that as long as I did not give my hard-earned money to James Frey and his Fiction  Factory, I could live with myself. So I headed to the library, gritted my teeth, and checked it out.

Although I ended up enjoying the book, it was quite different than what I expected of it--I'd heard all this hype about it being severely compelling and action-filled, but I didn't find it to be either of those things.

Sure, any story with a main character who is an alien that looks like a human teenager and is being hunted by evil aliens is a bit compelling, but the storyline didn't really suck me in the way I expected. I think that was mostly due to the fact that three-quarters of the book is character development and set-up. I could feel that there were big events on the horizon and was anxious to get to them, but all I was reading was "John is honing his powers, John needs to blend in, John is making friends, John has a girlfriend, John needs to be more careful"--and that got a little annoying.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Chime

Title: Chime
Author: Franny Billingsley
Genre: YA
Page count: 368
Publisher: Dial/Penguin
Release Date: March 17, 2011

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.--from Goodreads.

When I first read the description of this book, it didn't excite me one bit. In fact, I had chosen a different book to use as my Waiting on Wednesday choice for today. But then this morning I got to my office, got my coffee, and checked my email to read this morning's Shelf Awareness newsletter. In it, I found their review of Chime, and it totally changed my mind about this book.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cassie Clare is Such a Tease

Well apparently today is a sneak peeky kind of day for YA fantasy readers. Not only did Holly Black give us an entire chapter of Red Glove, but Cassandra Clare is now toying with our emotions, dangling both Clockwork Prince (and especially) City of Fallen Angels right in front of our faces, but not close enough to reach it. Well, out of reach until NEXT Friday, that is.

Not only did she tweet this teaser from the upcoming Clockwork Prince, but she also revealed this evil little game-- five different blogs will post the exact same chapter from City of Fallen Angels, with different sections redacted from each version. Therefore, we all have to visit each blog each day and piece together all of the five versions to make a complete COFA's first chapter.

Holly Black Reveals First Chapter of Red Glove

As Holly Black enjoys a villa in Mexico for her writer's retreat with fellow lady authors extraordinaire Cassandra Clare, Robin Wasserman, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, we all stare at her tweets full of envy while we pile on a couple more blankets and cling to our cups of steaming hot chocolate. (Or, in my case, spiked apple cider.) But today Ms. Black has give us a very, very nice gift. No, it is not a tropical warm front that will melt the snow and ice, but it is something that will make you all warm inside.

Earlier this morning, she posted the first chapter of Red Glove, the second book of the Curse Workers series, on her blog. (Click the link to go to the chapter. Since it is not mine, I do not want to repost it.)

Let the rejoicing begin!

Amazon¦ Good Reads

Red Glove will be released April 5, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Trailer I Love: Vixen

While watching Pretty Little Liars with my roommate the other night, we saw the book trailer for Jillian Larkin's Vixen.

Up until then, I'd never really paid much attention to book trailers. I thought they were, well, a little silly. (I know, I know. Say it ain't so! But it's true, I did.) But this book trailer is gorgeous, well-lit, sexy, dramatic, and, though it mostly just teases you with promises of Chicago and 1920s and fishnets and guns and booze, it was all I needed to see to know that this is a book I want to read.

Check out the trailer below:


Tell me your thoughts on Vixen, and let me know which book trailers you love in comments!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Holly Black's White Cat: It'll Sneak Up on You

About a week ago, I found myself in a reading lurch--I was having a hard time finding books I could just get lost in. Reading had become a chore, and even though I actually enjoyed the books I was reading, they weren't books I was excited to hunker down with and just read until there was no more to read.

After telling a friend of mine about my situation, she suggested that I read Holly Black's White Cat. With no reason not to, I went to my local library and checked it out. Once I was home, I proceeded to sit on my couch and read the entire book cover to cover. Here's why: 

White Cat, about a seemingly normal boy with a not-so-normal name (Cassel) and a seedy family history, is a creative mixture of the fantasy, gangster, and con-artist genres. The story takes place in the United States, in a sort of alternate time (I equate with the "sideways world" in LOST) where everyone is required to wear gloves due to the presence of "curse workers"-- a subset of preternaturally gifted people who can affect things from dreams to luck to emotions to appearance with just the slightest touch of their hand. Cassel comes from a family of curse workers, but unlike them, has never shown the signs of possessing an ability.

After Cassel wakes up standing on the roof of his boarding school's dormitory, swearing that he was lead there by a white cat, he starts to second-guess everything he knows, and comes to find that his family knows more than they'll say.

I found myself swept up by this story, but didn't realize I was at the time. When I finished the last page, and closed the back cover, I sat there digesting what I had just read and realized that it was a work of brilliant storytelling. Ms. Black allows the reader to go on a well-paced journey with Cassel, and by the time you realize just how enamored you are with the book, it's almost over. It's sneaky that way.

Lucky for us, this sneaky book is part of a series!

Have you read White Cat? Tell me what you thought of it in comments!