Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Summary from goodreads.com:

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...


A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

This is going to be a short but sweet review.  Mostly because the book is short but really well written.  

I know this book has been out for some time.  This is the new cover for it.  Goes along with the sequel's cover better I think, than the original cover of this story.  Plus, I've heard somewhere they are making a movie of it and Dakota Fanning will be our Mia.

This is such a sweet, heart wrenching story that in 194 pages takes you through memories of Mia's life with her family, her best friend and her loving and devoted boyfriend.

I loved that in just two pages at the beginning, I was in love with Mia and her family.  I love that connection they all have to each other.  I love the playful banter and the fact that Mia isn't embarrassed to be seen with her family anywhere and how supportive they are of what each other decides to do with their life throughout the story.

I can't pick a favorite character from this story.  I love them all.  They are all so incredibly developed that you are standing either in or next to Mia the entire time.  I felt like I was her friend and confidant and she was telling me all this so that I would understand her feelings for what has happened with her and her family.  

There's Mia and her family.  Mia, Mom, Dad, and Teddy.  There's Kim, Mia's best friend who became such through unconventional means and Adam, Mia's adoring punker boyfriend who loves Mia because she isn't like the other girls he's around all the time with the punk band scenes.  No matter where you look, even the nurses in the hospital are so developed in one description, or one thing they say that you want to give them hugs or slap them for their bedside manner.  

The story is so heart wrenching I am not going to say anything about it because I loved the concept of it so much that I would cry here and now and possibly have the chance of ruining my keyboard because of all the salty tears that would fall between the keys and make them so wet that you can't type kind of ruin.  Let's just say this little bit...go read this if you haven't yet.

One of my most favorite things about how Gayle constructed the story was that from the beginning, Mia's choice all pertains on what has past, what is going on in the present and where she sees herself in the future.  Also, this story incorporates a lot of music in it and the music in it helps the story run the way it does.  Every song presented, connects everyone together.  Every memory Mia has connects her closer to the choice she makes.  

The only downside I saw with this story is the language.  I recommend a lot of young adult books to my friend's thirteen year old daughter but since she's only thirteen I recommend books that are clean of language and graphics.  I really want to recommend this to her, but I'd have to go in and cross out most of the foul language because I don't see it necessary to the story.  Maybe the lifestyle that Mia and her family live, and the scenes they put themselves in, but seriously, such a story doesn't need so much language that a thirteen year old can't read it.

Really though, if you don't mind foul language, go read this!  This is a fantastic quick read.  I read it in four days and loved every second I got to read it.  I had to stifle tears when I read it in public but it truly made me cry.  I can't wait until I can read Where She Went which is the sequel.

Giveaway Reminder


Just a reminder guys that the giveaway for 'Witch and Wizard' closes tonight. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment saying what you're reading at the moment! I will draw the winner tomorrow.

Entry is in the post below :-)


~Ailsa

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox


Welcome to another 'In My Mailbox'! As always, it's hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I highly recommend her blog if you don't already follow it.

I came home yesterday evening, and I'm home now until mid-May, which is nice :) On the book front, I got a couple of late presents:

The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss - like many people I've been waiting for for a looong time, but I'm sure it'll be worth it!

Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire - I've really been looking forward to this one, too, and finding out what's going to happen between Toby and a certain cait-sidhe.

What books did you get this week?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis


If you thought things could get wrong in life here on Earth, try it out in outer space on a spaceship.

Beth Revis' debut novel, Across the Universe, is a captivating mystery that keeps you guessing until the end.

Summary from Goodreads.com:

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.


Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Granted, the summary says there is romance in the story.  For me, I saw the tiniest sliver of it.  Mostly from the character, Elder.

For this book, I read it because I had heard a lot of good things about it (usually why I read the books I do), but about halfway through the story I really just wanted the story to be finished.  I was only intrigued by the mystery side of the story and wanted to see how it all turned out.  Luckily for me, it all turned out very different than what I was guessing.  Doesn't mean I will tell you how the book ends.  That would just be plain mean. 

We get the two main character point of views in this story.  Amy--the girl who was frozen with her parents and expecting to wake up on a new Earth-like planet, and Elder--the future leader of the ship Godspeed.  When Amy wakes up fifty years earlier, that was the first thing that caught my attention.  If I was Amy, I'd be angry and upset, as anyone would be.  Now she would be older than her parents when they woke up.  

Beth is an incredible descriptive setting writer.  Every room, every building, every part of the story, including the stars are all beautiful and I feel like I'm on Godspeed walking around.  However, there are aspects of the story that I felt were unnecessary to the story, but may be a major player in the next couple stories that come next.  

Only one character I found to be enlightening and had any real development throughout the whole story.  And that is Elder's best friend on the ship--Harley.  He is the one character that the reader can relate to in the entire story.  I love Harley and he will be a character that really stands out to me for a long time.  Very memorable, very good Harley.

I really can't write much else as a review on this because the only things I like are the descriptions of setting, the mystery and Harley.  This story doesn't do much for me as a reader in entertaining me.  I had a really hard time and pushed myself to the end but if you like science fiction, try this story.  Give it a go.  You may like it more than I did.

Giveaway: Witch & Wizard by James Patterson


*** Edit: CONTEST NOW CLOSED ***

Hi guys! I've been very busy with my coursework for uni, and now I'm packing to go home! This means that I'm going through all the books I've aquired, and I have some that I want to get rid of, which means giveaways!

First up is Witch & Wizard, by James Patterson.
From the back cover:
This is the amazing adventure of Whit and Wisty Allgood, a brother and sister who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed in prison, and accused of being a witch and wizard by the evil regime The New Order. Can they master their newly discovered powers in time to save themselves, their parents - and maybe the world?

It was a promotional copy, so the front cover is slightly different:

How to enter:
Just leave a comment to this post, saying what you're reading at the moment! Giveaway open until March 30th. You don't have to be a follower, although we do appreciate it :-)
Giveaway open internationally!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In My Mailbox


I know, I'm a day early! But my Sunday's always seem to get busy, and I'm being organised today.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.


What did you get in your mailboxes this week? I love seeing your videos & reading the posts. :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Darkest Mercy


Last month I was given the chance to read Melissa Marr's latest masterpiece and final book of the Wicked Lovely young adult series, Darkest Mercy. As with all good things, I knew the series was coming to an end. But rather than fill me with sadness and a feeling of loss like so many other conclusions have, this final installment filled me with sweet contentment (which I imagine would be similar to Summer Wine!)

I was utterly elated upon finishing Darkest Mercy. I couldn't think of a more perfect way to end the series. (If you've read the book than you know exactly what I mean!) I went in with exactly zero expectations of what would happen and I was pleased at each turn of every page. Marr doesn't simply wrap up all the loose ends in a nice, neat bow. Rather she takes the beginnings and weaves them into the endings, so that the entire series forms a perfect imperfect circle of beginnings, middles, ends... and new beginnings. Because the story never really ends, does it?

It's always just starting.

It's that line of hope, that light in the distance that keeps many of us going and its that touch of personal insight that makes me love her books so much. She puts so much of herself into her work that its like reading someones diary. Or reading your own diary. She has a gift of being able to connect with her readers through her words and characters that is just baffling to me. Because who hasn't been faced with a tough decision and thought, "Well... what the hell am I supposed to do now?" Marr answers that question again and again in her series.

Do what you can.

Do what you have to do.

Make the choice yours.

Darkest Mercy is right back to where the first book left off. Making choices. The choices are, in some ways, more important than they were in the first book. Though in Darkest Mercy they affect more than just one person. As the characters have all grown, the things they have to deal with must also change. Marr has taken a rather large group of characters and brought all their stories together for a stunning and lift altering conclusion. In Darkest Mercy every character has to make a choice, take a stand and protect what is theirs. Maybe its something larger than yourself or maybe its just one person...

While the other Wicked Lovely books have seemed more centered on choices I feel that Darkest Mercy also centers itself on hope. Not empty hope or false hope, but true hope and the belief that there are better things. That good can conquer evil and love will prevail. Of course it's not all a fairy tale, is it? A lot of things will happen along the way that we don't want to happen. Things that we'll pray were just a dream or a joke or reversible. But its not a joke or a dream. These things are going to happen whether you want them to or not.

This book draws parallels from the world around us as well. Darkest Mercy reminds us that there is real darkness in the world.

But there is also great light in the world, within yourself and others.

If you're not familiar with the series it is something I always recommend to anyone looking for a good read-- especially to young women. Marr has created not one but several strong female heroines in her books that I, even as a grown woman, am proud to call my role models.

And if you're familiar with the series I encourage you to re-read the first book again. You will be shocked at how beautifully Marr weaves in and out of the beginning and end of this series. It's also a special treat to read your favorite characters again as they were in the first book knowing where they end up. ;)


Disclaimer: I was not paid for this or any other reviews on this blog. I was sent an advanced reading copy of the book which I then sent out to another lucky reader for review. (Thanks again to Melissa for giving me the opportunity to read the book!)


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wilder's Mate, by Moira Rogers



Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Released: 8th March
Source: review copy from author

Description: Wilder Harding is a bloodhound, created by the Guild to hunt down and kill vampires on America's frontier. His enhanced abilities come with a high price: on the full moon, he becomes capable of savagery beyond telling, while the new moon brings a sexual hunger that borders on madness.
Rescuing a weapons inventor from undead kidnappers is just another assignment, though one with an added complication--keeping his hands off the man's pretty young apprentice, who insists on tagging along.

At odds with polite society, Satira's only constant has been the aging weapons inventor who treats her like a daughter. She isn't going to trust Wilder with Nathaniel's life, not when the Guild might decide the old man isn't worth saving. Besides, if there's one thing she's learned, it's that brains are more important than brawn.

As the search stretches far longer than Wilder planned, he finds himself fighting against time. If Satira is still at his side when the new moon comes, nothing will stop him from claiming her. Worse, she seems all too willing. If their passion unlocks the beast inside, no one will be safe. Not even the man they're fighting to save.

Warning: This book contains a crude, gun-slinging, vampire-hunting hero who howls at the full moon and a smart, stubborn heroine who invents mad-scientist weapons. Also included: wild frontier adventures, brothels, danger, betrayal and a good dose of wicked loving in an alternate Wild West.

My thoughts: I haven't read any books by Moira Rogers before, but when I read the description, I knew I would enjoy it, especially with the 'warning' on the end.

We meet Satira first, as she's struggling to get out of some kind of steam-powered lift that her mentor, Nathaniel, has designed. The first couple of pages show a lot about the kind of world that it is, and about Satira herself and her personality. Wilder, the gun-slinging hero mentioned in the blurb, greets her with the question "Why are you dressed like a boy?" and the sparks fly from there. Although there is the tension of rescuing Nathaniel, I think the focus of the story is very much on Wilder and Satira, and the tension between them. I would have liked a little more plot, but in this case, it does work like this.

Before Satira & Wilder leave, we learn that something happens to Hounds at the new moon, making them require sex. Satira's been with hounds before, and is reasonably sure she can handle it, and sees it as a fair price for rescuing her mentor, but her friend Ophelia is more worried, suggesting that maybe there's more to it than Satira understands, that they're different at the new moon than other times.

I love the interactions between the two characters. The attraction and flirting was excellent, and I love how Satira tries not to give Wilder and inch while at the same time is slightly uncertain around him, and occasionally thrown off by something he does because it doesn't fit with her expectations. I love the relationship that develops.

It's quite short, but the length absolutely works for the plot. In the past I've never really thought about buying novellas online, but it's something I'm definitely going to consider now. I am also going to have a look at her other works, as I did really enjoy the story. Something else I liked was the slight steam-punkiness that creeps in - this is the first book in the Bloodhounds series, and I'm looking forward to learning more about this world, and some of the characters that we meet in this one.

I'll give it 7 out of 10.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Bitter Seed of Magic, by Suzanne McLeod



Publisher: Gollancz
Released: Feb 11 in the UK - out now! (US fans can order via Book Depository, and I think amazon.com will let you get the UK version, too)
Source: review copy from publisher & author
Book 3 in the series, see my review of book one here.
Warning: Contains spoilers for earlier books

Description from the back cover: Genny's an expert at cracking spells, but when it comes to cracking an 80 year old curse she knows she's in trouble, the sort that could change her life for ever - or end it in an instant.
On the surface Genny's life seems ripple-free. Finn - her boss and... well, Genny's not quite sure what else she wants him to be, but he isn't pushing for a decision on their relationship; the seductive vampire, Malik al-Khan has vanished back into the shadows; and the witches have declared her no longer a threat. But unless she can find a way to break the fertility curse afflicting London's fae, she knows this is just the lull before the magical storm.
Then a faeling - a teenager - is fished out of the River Thames, dead, and bound with magic, and Genny is called in to investigate. But as she digs through the clues, her search takes a sinister and dangerous turn, exposing age-old secrets that might be better left burried. It's not long before another faeling disappears, and Genny finds herself in a race against time to save the faelings and stop the curse from claiming its next victim - herself.

My thoughts: I love this series, and I think this might be my favourite so far! The characters remain just as strong as ever, which I really liked. And, as with the earlier books, the plot is interesting & complex enough that I had to go back and re-read a couple of bits to really fully understand what was going on. It means that the book can be just as enjoyable on a second read.

One of the things that I loved about this book more than the others was that there are a lot of developments in terms of relationships in this book. We learn more about what's been going on between Finn & Helen. (And by the way, I love the nickname Genny gives her - the Witch Bitch - it just made me smile every time I read it.) Genny also makes progress figuring out what she wants to do with Finn. I liked that there is a lot of Genny/Finn time, and also lots of Genny/Malik. Tavish comes in too, although not as much as the others, so whoever your favourite is, you should be happy reading this book. Although I sort of get Finn's reasons, there were parts of the book where I just wanted to shake him for the things he was saying - I think if I were Genny, I wouldn't have kept my temper. My personal favourite is Malik, though, and this book only added to that. I mean, we get to see him shirtless on Genny's bed. What's not to like about that? I understand his reasons for acting the way he does, but there was one particular scene where I was just thinking 'You stupid, idiot vampire!'. I love a book where I care this much about the characters.

Something else we learn a lot more about in this book is the fertility curse that's been hanging over Genny & the London fae in the previous book. It was really interesting to learn more about how that had happened in the first place. I liked meeting more of the fae, and that side of Genny's heritage, even if some of them were a bit strange! You also see the other side of that heritage - the vampire half. I think that's going to play a more important part in the books to come, and I'm looking forward to it.

I feel like Genny grew up a lot in this book, and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. I've no idea where the series might go, but I'm hoping to see more about the vampires, and the results of the events in this book. It's a long time to wait, but in the meantime, I can always re-read this one again, can't I? In fact, I might just do that now...

If you haven't checked out this book yet, then I would definitely recommend picking it up soon! I give it 9 out of 10, I loved it.

~Ailsa
 
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