Saturday, April 30, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Title/Author: 13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope #1) by Maureen Johnson
Publisher/Date published: October 1st 2006, Harper Teen
How I got this book: own it

Goodreads summary: "Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket. In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes."

The first thing that popped into my head when I read the summary was: this is the teen version of P.S. I Love You. Which is not a bad thing, because I enjoyed that book. After Ginny's aunt dies, Ginny receives 13 little blue envelopes. These envelopes contain instructions that'll send her across Europe on the adventure of a lifetime.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book is that I got to revisit some of the places I love in Europe. I'm from Holland and I just had to laugh at the description of Amsterdam. For those of you who ever plan on going there: we're not that bad and not every hostel is as gross as the one in the book (at least, I don't think they are). I loved that Ginny went looking for 'Piet' and didn't know what it was. It's actually a really common name here.

Anyway, I'm getting a bit sidetracked.

What bothered me a bit was that Ginny's parents are ok with all this. I mean, my mom would never have let me travel across Europe on my own when I was 17. Least of all without me taking a cellphone with me she could contact me at any time of the day to make sure I was still alive. I think that's normal parent behaviour. So for Ginny's parents to be ok with this, even when her mom is constantly described as being very protective, is a bit weird.

One thing I would have done differently if it had been me going on the adventure is that I would have taken more time to get to know the places I went. Ginny just seems to want to finish the tasks in the letters and move on as quickly as she can. She goes to some of the most amazing places and then stays there for half a minute! What a waste!

I liked Ginny and I liked Keith and Richard. But I didn't fall in love with the characters as I would have liked to. There wasn't enough for me to connect to for some reason that I can't quite figure out.

I loved Aunt Peg's voice and the way she decided to send Ginny on this wild chase. And I loved that even though a lot of things were really outside of Ginny's comfort zone, she managed to overcome that in honor of her aunt's spirit. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens in next book: The Last Little Blue Envelope!

My rating: 3,5 stars

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

Title/Author: Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef
Publisher/Date published: April 18th 2011, Clarion Books
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

I could write you a summary, but the title says it all: this is a book about Jane Austen's life. As much as anyone can tell about it years and years after she died.

I love Austen's books. If you've read some of my Top Ten Tuesday lists you probably know how much I love Jane Austen. And Pride and Prejudice in particular. I've read it countless times and watched the movie so many times I practically know it line for line.

Which is why I'm a bit ashamed to admit I didn't really know that much about the author herself. And come to think of it, I don't really know that much about authors in general. I did know Austen never married and that she died at the age of 42 from an unknown illness.

I loved, loved, LOVED learning more about this woman who wrote such incredible books! It makes it feel more personal and probably made me love her even a bit more. It's sad that so many of her letters were burned or censured. And it really makes me curious to know what was in them that caused them to be burned! What kind of dirty little secrets were they hiding? I don't think we'll ever find out, it adds a sort of mistery to it all.

The book was really well written in my opinion. I don't read a lot of non-fiction and think biographies or memoirs can get stuffy and a bit boring if you're not careful. This was a really readable biography, I felt like it was more of a story than a summing up of facts, which I really appreciated.

One thing I have to say that I didn't like so much: there were lots of pictures in the book, and while I enjoyed those, most of the time they had literally nothing to do with the part of Jane's life the author was describing. I thought they were a bit awkwardly placed and because they didn't add to the part I was reading, they were kind of distracting.

Apart from that, I really enjoyed the book and can now proudly say I know more about my favourite author!
My rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tunes on Tuesday (3)

One of the things I love best after reading is music. Whatever mood I'm in, I always have a song that'll suit it. And singing along is just so relaxing, though you really don't want to hear that. Seriously.
Music triggers memories and can really make me go back in time to the moment that was so important/fun/sad. I almost always wake up with a song on my mind and I love it.

So, I thought I'd show you guys some songs I've recently been in love with :)

LOVE THIS SONG!! That voice gives me chills. In a good way.

I absolutely love all the singles of the new album so far. Isn't she just amazing?

And last, but not least: a little patriotism (again) with a Dutch band I've recently heard about and I really like this song.

So, what's stuck in your head lately? Any recommendations?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

Title/Author: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
Publisher/Date published: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, April 18th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

I am fascinated by the witch hunting that happened in the past. So many women died because of it and the social injustice is overwhelming. Any book that mentions it instantly ends up on my to-read list.

Which is why I was disappointed this book, that starts with Maggie being wrongfully accused of being a witch, completely let's go of this storyline after a couple of chapters.

Maggie and her grandmother, who isn't a warm and fuzzy type of grandmother, live in a small hut. Her grandmother knows somewhat about childbirth and the healing powers of plants. Because she's not nice and scares people, she's accused of being a witch and since Maggie lives with her, she must surely be a witch as well. Yes, people thought rationally back then.
They're thrown into jail, but with the help of one of her grandmother's friends, Maggie manages to escape. Her grandmother, however, is not so lucky.

On her way to the only family she has left, Maggie is joined by a girl her age, Annie, who was the main witness in her 'trial'. This girl wilfully accused Maggie of being a witch, though she knew it was wrong. She is the one responsible for her grandmother's death. And now she wants to travel with Maggie to her uncle. When the sheepherder who smuggles Maggie across the water can't take this girl as well, Maggie thinks she's seen the last of her.

Sadly, this is not the case. A couple of months later she shows up at the doorstep of Maggie's uncle and worms her way into the family, quickly gaining the trust of Maggie's aunt and uncle. Trouble doesn't stop here, Annie betrays Maggie and her family yet again. This time it is Maggie's uncle who'll pay the price for her malice. Maggie will do everything in her power to prevent this.

In theory, this should be a story that sweeps you up into the moment and make you heart pound, cause OMG, how will she figure this out?

But it wasn't. It was an enjoyable story, but I couldn't connect with Maggie and this is were it went wrong for me. There were a couple of things that annoyed me: Maggie is supposedly beautiful, since several men are falling over themselves to please her, but she doesn't know this and has supposedly never seen herself in a mirror. I mean, really? Not even a reflection in the water of a pond or anything? Really?? I found it very hard to believe.

I really, really disliked Annie. She seems evil for the sake of being evil. People take her in when he has nothing and she just up and betrays them. I also had a hard time believing Maggie was the only one who saw through her lies and how gullible her aunt and uncle were.

This book would have been a lot better for me if I had connected to Maggie. Because now, it seemed like just a summing up of bad things happening to someone.

My rating: 3 stars

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Title/Author: The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1) by Jenny Han
Publisher/Date published: Simon & Schuster, May 5th 2009
How I got this book: own it.

Goodreads summary: "Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along."

I need to say this before anything else: I LOVED THIS BOOK! I cannot believe it took me this long to get to it!

Though I think Belly is an awful, AWFUL name for a character (I mean, seriously??), I really liked her. She's young, insecure, she makes mistakes and I love her for it. She's had a crush on Conrad for ages and is just confused by him and his actions. One minute it seems like he likes her as well and the next he's cold and she can't tell if he even feels anything. At all.

Then there's Jeremiah. He is such a sweetheart! He's the good guy. The one you go to when you're feeling sad and the one you can trust with all your secrets. Besides, he's not badlooking either. I love Jeremiah.
Conrad is the mysterious one, dark and moody. And sure, he seems crushworthy. But my heart belongs to Jeremiah. I have a thing for nice guys. Nice guys shouldn't finish last!

At the summer house, there's not much room for dads, Belly's parents are divorced and Susannah (Conrad and Jeremiah's mother) just spends most of the summer without her husband. He comes by some weekend, but doesn't really fit in there. Belly's mother and Susannah have been best friends since childhood and I loved their relationship. They both seem more complete when they're together and balance each other out. Susannah is more warm, while Belly's mom is practical.

While Belly obsesses about boys, there's another thing happening in the summer house, something that will change all of their lives and summers forever. I won't tell you what it is, but it's heartbreaking.

I read this book while sitting in my parents' backyard on a sunny, blue-skyed day. It was perfect. This is the perfect summer read. Bring it with you to the beach or wherever. It sucked me in and brought me back to the summers I was a teenager myself. I love the summer, there's this feeling full of potential, like anything can happen when the sun is shining. This book made me feel that and I absolutely LOVED it!

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Title/Author: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
Publisher/Date published: Simon & Schuster, April 19th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley.

Goodreads summary: "Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?
Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive....
Not your typical beach read."

Not you typical beach read is right. This book is not your typical anything.

Let me just come out and say it: for the most part this book was plain weird. Weird family. Weird friends of that family. Weird relationships. Weird parental behaviour.

It all just felt kind of awkward. The story is told by Chase, the second oldest kid, who behaves like he is the oldest/parent. And his parents expect him to do this and be responsible for the rest of the litter they have put on this earth. Chase has an older brother who is pretty irresponsible and just runs away at the most inappropriate times. Then there's his younger sister who is flirting with boys and kissing girls at the tender age of 12, who most of the time behaves like she's much, much older. Then there's Gideon, his younger brother, who is deaf. And finally, though their marriage is falling apart, the parents decided to have another baby, a girl (who seems to be the only normal person in the book, as far as you can tell, since she doesn't really talk yet).

Every year they go to a summer house and meet up with the family in the house next to them. Both Chase and his older brother have a messed up sort of relationship with the eldest daughter and this creeped me out somewhat. She just goes from sleeping with one brother to sleeping with the other. I was surprised she didn't make a pass at Gideon to be honest.

The parents weren't really into parenting it seemed. Which is weird, since they did choose to have 5 kids. With pretty big age gaps in between. They probably should have stopped at 2 or 3 in my opinion. The father is lost when it comes to Gideon and hasn't even really tried to learn sign language, which means he can't communicate with his son. I thought they both were very selfish and pretty annoying as well. This goes for all the characters. Except maybe Gideon and the baby. It's sad that the baby was probably my favourite character. Unlike the other, she has a right to cry and whine: she's a baby, that's how they communicate.

Towards the end something happens. And it was heartbreaking and haunting and finally made me feel something other than annoyance. Awful as it was, it saved the book.

Mostly, I felt awkward and weird reading it.
My rating: 2 stars

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Royal Weddings, An Original Anthology by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley and Loretta Chase

Title/Author: Royal Weddings by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley and Loretta Chase
Publisher/Date published: Avon, April 5th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "You are cordially invited
To help celebrate the Royal Wedding of
Prince William to Catherine Middleton
As we present a 77 page original anthology
Written by three utterly wonderful authors!
Stephanie Laurens' The Wedding Planner: Lady Margaret is proud plan the ton's most important nuptuals—including that of a prince. But it's Lady Margaret who falls in love . . . with dashing Gaston Devilliers!
Gaelen Foley's Ever After: How scandalous! Eleanor Monford, Countess of Archer, is in love with her own husband. And as Princess Charlotte of England weds Prince Leopold, Eleanor's "secret" is about to come out.
Loretta Chase's The Jilting of Lord Rothwick: On the eve of Queen Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert, the Marquess of Rothwick learns his fianc√Če, Barbara Findley, has broken their engagement! So he desperately rides out of London to seek her out . . . and to win her back."

I love the idea of a royal wedding. I think in reality, it can be a real pain in the behind with the whole huge ceremony and everyone watching you the whole time. Seems to me like it could take a huge part of the romance out of it.
Nonetheless, I wish Prince William and Catherine Middleton to have the best day of their lives and many happy years together!

Let me say one thing: short stories are somehow not for me. Short books are sort of not for me. I like to really immerse myself in the characters and get lost in the story and the romance and the OH MY GOSH THIS IS SO GOOD (in the best case scenario at least) of it all. And that's hard if there's not a lot of story.

Short stories are just... well... a bit too short for me.

Anyway, that said, I did enjoy this anthology. The stories were cute and it made me go a little bit more into the history of England. I never knew princess Charlotte married for love only to die in childbirth only a few years later. I didn't know a whole lot about princess Charlotte in general and I'm glad to have sort of met her.

I liked the last story, the one Loretta Chase wrote, the best. It was really sweet and I just wanted there to be MORE of it! I have one of her books on my to-read list and I'm looking forward to reading it, I hope it'll live up to my high hopes based on this short story.

My rating: 3 stars

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Title/Author: Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman
Publisher/Date published: Dutton Children's Books, April 5th 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley


Goodreads summary: "It's been three years since the devastating accident... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other."

After hearing many, many people rave about If I Stay, I caved and read it. I cannot believe it took me so long to get to it! Gosh, it was really amazing. After finishing it, I just sat around and stared. I felt like I'd just come up for air after going through those last couple of pages. I've tried writing a coherent review, but I've failed so far. A lot of people had it on their 'book that made me cry' list and I get why. Mia's grandfather broke my heart! And Adam... Such an amazing character!

But, enough about If I Stay, it doesn't say 'Where She Went' in the title for nothing.

Reading the summary I thought: wait, WHAT?? Where did my wonderfully real couple from the first book go?? I could not believe they broke up after going through something like that.

And neither could Adam. This book is from his point of view and let me just say that I adored Mia's voice in the first book, but Adam is just so beautifully broken. I don't need my guys damaged and tortured, but I felt Adam's pain and felt the need to curl into a ball and just stop being along with him because of their break-up.

I loved how everything was explained slowly and Adam's memories of Mia and her family before the accident. I must admit that I was angry at Mia for breaking things off the way she did. It must have been so horrible!
Slight spoiler, light up to read:
Just stopping all forms of communication seems to me to be crueler than even leaving a post it or breaking up over a text message

I really enjoyed meeting Mia again and seeing how she had learned to cope with everything that'd happened. But Adam is the star of this show and gosh, how I love him. It all went a bit fast towards the ending, but I'm happy with how Forman left things.

All in all, I feel like gushing about this book. And Adam and Mia will surely remain in my thoughts for a long time to come. Two very big signs that this book is a definite winner for me :) If you haven't read If I Stay yet, go and do so. Right now.
My rating: 5 stars

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Kingdom Besieged by Raymond E. Feist

Title/Author: A Kingdom Besieged (The Chaoswar Saga #1) by Raymond E. Feist
Publisher/Date published: Harper Voyager, April 1st 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Summary: "Raymond E. Feist burst onto the fantasy scene in 1982 with his first novel, Magician, an enthralling tale about an orphan boy named Pug who travels to the mystical Kingdom of the Isles to study wizardry under the Master Magician Kulgan. Magician introduced one of the most enthralling fantasy worlds in the genre and marked the beginning of an enduring, bestselling career. Today, after nearly 30 years and more than two dozen novels, Feist’s Riftwar Cycle is regarded as one of the most beloved, iconic, and enduring sagas in modern fantasy.
The riftwars—including the original Riftwar, the Serpentwar, the Darkwar, and the Demonwar—were epic battles between Good and Evil whose ramifications have echoed through generations. This new entry to the epic, A Kingdom Beseiged, ushers in the most fearsome threat the kingdom has yet facecd—the Chaoswar—a major cataclysm involving a magic apocalypse that will force Pug, now the most powerful magician in all of Midekemia, to question everything he’s ever held true and dear... including the loyalty and desires of his beloved son Magnus."

If you read fantasy, you've probably at least heard of Feist and his Riftwar series. A Kingdom Besieged is the first book in the fifth series set in this world. I read the Serpentwar Saga (the third series) at the respectable age of I think 11 or 12 and I remember really enjoying them. So, when this one showed up on NetGalley for review, of course I hit the request button!

And while I did like the book, it wasn't as enjoyable for me as I'd expected it to be. I think it's partly because I had such high expectations for it and I always try not to do that, but I can't help but feel a bit disappointed that I didn't get sucked into the world like I did when I was younger.

This book is definitely very busy in terms of introducing characters and worldbuilding. There were so many different characters and POVs following each other pretty fast and abruptly that I lost track of all of them. And I also felt like I probably needed to have read all four previous series (and maybe pretty recently) to really get everything that was happening. Some things were overly explained and then there were things that left me wondering if I'd missed something or skipped a part of the story.

Because of this, I never really felt absorbed by the story and didn't feel the drive to continue reading it as much as I would have liked. For me, it suffered from first-book-in-series syndrome. There was a lot of plot leading up to things that are gonna happend. They're just not happening in this particular book.

But I do have to say that I really like the world in which this is set and the whole creepiness of the demons (the eating each other to grow and develop thing) is pretty different. And revisiting characters made me develop more of a feel for them, so I'm guessing that in book 2 there'd probably be enough of that to form a real connection. There is a lot of promise for really interesting events to come, I'm curious to see what'll happen in the next book.

My rating: 3 stars

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Queen of Glass Trailer!

This was posted on the author's blog, one of her friends and fellow debut author, Kat Zhang, made it and it's awesome!
I am SOOOO excited about Queen of Glass coming out next year, I read it when it was still on FictionPress and thought it was amazing then. And after all the revisions she's been doing the last couple of years, it should be even better.

Queen of Glass is Cinderella with a twist: Celaena is an assasin. Trust me, it is awesome. So watch the video and then put it on your to-read/wish list :)

I can't wait for 2012!

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Irresistible Earl by Gaelen Foley

Title/Author: My Irresistible Early (Inferno Club #3) by Gaelen Foley
Publisher/Date published: Avon, April 1st 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "The Inferno Club: In public, this scandalous society of London aristocrats is notorious for pursuing all manner of debauchery. But in private, they are warriors who would do anything to protect king and country...
Once, she had vowed to marry the Earl of Falconridge. Now, she vows to forget him. After he abandoned her for a life shrouded in secrets, Mara, Lady Pierson, has succeeded in keeping him away, until he appears in London unexpectedly, making her fall in love all over again.
Forced back into Mara's life by duty, the earl quickly stays for love. He has never forgotten this passionate beauty and never meant to break her heart. But their newfound happiness is endangered — because the Inferno Club demands much of its members, and his vital mission is exposing a deadly plot that could threaten their very lives..."

I'm not really sure how to rate this book just yet, a big part of it was really good and then there were things that made me go HUH?? Seriously? And those moments were a bit distracting.

I loved that Mara and Jordan (the Earl of Falconridge) had history. This wasn't love at first sight, which to me isn't all that believable (though lust at first sight is), it was something that had been there years ago and now they meet again and those old sparks are rekindled. It also adds some conflict, because they both have ginormous trust issues.

Mara hasn't had the best marriage imaginable and the only good thing that came of it was her son. Now that her husband has passed away, she's not really eager to give up her freedom for another man and at first decides to keep Jordan at a distance. I thought she came around pretty easily and was actually a bit disappointed by this. But the couple had wonderful chemistry, so I could accept it.

But overall everything could have gone a bit more slowly, Mara isn't a very constant woman and changes her mind almost to what is most convenient. I thought the author gave her some pretty good issues and then she just let go of them. I like growth in a character, but this just made her seem flaky.

I really enjoyed reading about them together, especially about them doing things as a 'family' with Mara's son was really sweet. But one thing I can't get out of my head is that during intercourse, Mara say 'give me a baby' (or something like it) to Jordan. I mean: WHAT?? It didn't fit and was a bit weird. Especially since she didn't want to be tied down, but it's perfectly fine to have his baby? Society would probably love it.

I did like the whole idea of Jordan being part of his majesty's secret service with their headquarters disguised as a notorious gentlemen's club. I also loved that Mara seemed to be a good mother and a very loving one. And she and Jordan really did have incredible chemistry. It's also about the only book I've read that speaks favorably of the Prince Regent, which was a nice change.

My rating: 3 stars

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Read-a-Thon - Hour 24

So, it's already hour 24, time seems to fly!

I've slept about 5 hours and feel surprisingly awake and non-grumpy (I usually get grumpy from lack of sleep).

End of the Event Survey:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? I think hour 17, cause I had just woken up back then and needed to set my mind to read-mode again.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Oh gosh, I think a lot of books will keep you engaged, but anything like the Hunger Games series is bound to keep the adrenaline flowing.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope, I loved it just the way it was right now.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I loved the mini-challenges. And the linking up books you finished, I can't wait to see the list!
5. How many books did you read? 3 so far, I'm starting the fourth one after typing this up.
6. What were the names of the books you read?
Invincible Summer, The Summer I Turned Pretty and The Betrayal of Maggie Blair.
7. Which book did you enjoy most? Without a doubt the Summer I Turned Pretty, LOVED it!
8. Which did you enjoy least? I think the other two are kind of tied.
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Very, very likely! I'd probably be a reader again.

So I'm off to finish the last hour, thanks to all the hosts and people who cheered me on! I loved every minute of this :)

Read-a-Thon - Hour 16

I'm back! I've been asleep for about 5 hours and I actually planned on sleeping longer, but somehow I'm awake. Really awake.

So, since I slept through the mid-event meme, I'm gonna go ahead and post the answers right now anyway.

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird
2. How many books have you read so far? 2
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I was really looking forward to this one, so I'm excited I got this far :)
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Not really, I didn't have anything planned.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Yes, travelling across the country by train and running into an old classmate: I had to be social and take a little break from reading.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How normal it seems to just be reading all day. Usually, I read a lot on the weekend, but not as much as I did now.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Not really at the moment, my brain is a bit fried from sleep deprivation.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I'd love to read through the night, but since I have a very busy internship, it's not the 'responsible' thing to do, cause I would be exhausted tomorrow.
9. Are you getting tired yet? I feel the need for sleep, I just can't sleep.
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Getting up early every day has made my internal clock go haywire and made me wake up unreasonably early, the plus side is: I get to continue reading. Yay! I wouldn't really recommend this.

So I'm alive, awake and going back to reading.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Read-a-Thon - Hour 7

So I've taken a little break, I had to, otherwise people would have thought me antisocial: I just got to my appartment and on the way here on the train I ran into one of my old classmates from back in highschool. It would have been really weird if I hadn't talked to him.
Oh, and riding a bike while reading isn't exactly healthy either ;)

But I'm here now and I'm still going strong.

My progress so far:
I've finished Invincible Summer, which was totally haunting towards the end, but a bit confusing all over. That was one weird family.

I'm now 5/6 through The Summer I Turned Pretty which is a really, really cute read. And perfect for the weather we were having over here: sunny with a brilliant blue skye. I've been reading it in my parents' backyard all afternoon. It was perfect.

Happy reading to everyone who is and isn't participating!

Dewey's Read-a-Thon - Hour 1

So it's officially started! I must admit I started half an hour early, because I literally did not have anything else left on my to-do list.

Here are the questions to the introduction meme:

1)Where are you reading from today?
I live in Holland and will be reading from 3 different locations: my parents' house in Best (yes, the town is really called Best, cool right?), later on in the train heading to my place and then finally at my place in Nijmegen.
2)Three random facts about me…
- I'm reading my books on an e-reader that I absolutely adore
- I can read practically anywhere as long as there's light (which isn't even necessary anymore with my e-reader: I have a cover with a little light :) )
- I love watching Grey's Anatomy
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
Right now, there are 4. As I progress they could change or if I'm really productive there'll be more books on it.
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
I really want to at least finish 2 books, anything else is a bonus right now.
5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
I'm a first time participant, so sadly: no.

My progress so far:
I'm 2/3 into Invincible Summer and my mom just brought me soup, so I think I'm good for some time to come.

Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-thon!

It's almost here! I'm going to be participating in this aweseome read-a-thon for as long as I can stay awake. I may need to sleep at some point, starting a 50 hour/week internship tends to do this to you ;)

Anyway, I have 2 hours left to gather snacks, make a list of the books I want to read and generally get all the stuff I need to do today out of the way and I'll be ready to go!

The fridge is fully loaded with coke cans and my mom has banana split icecream in the freezer, so I'm good for at least the afternoon ;) I've calculated my starting time to be 2 PM.

A tentative list of books I'll be reading:
- Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskovitz, which I've already started
- The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
- The Betrayal of Maggie Blaire by Elizabeth Laird
- Jane Austen by Catherine Reef

This may even be a bit ambitious, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.

I'm really excited for it to start and all the fun with the mini-challenges and such.

Anyone else joining in?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Red Glove by Holly Black

Title/Author: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black
Publisher/Date published: April 5th 2011 by Simon and Schuster
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley


Goodreads summary: "Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth — he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything — or anyone — into something else.
That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.
When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue — crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone — least of all, himself?
Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose."

I really enjoyed White Cat, the first book in the series. It's been a while since I read a book with a YA male protagonist that I actually connected to and Cassel for me was very easy to relate to. He recently discovered he's a really powerful curse worker and there aren't actually a lot of workers that can do what he does: tranformation work. Which also means he's pretty much on his own, there's no one there to tell him how everything works and what the limitations to his powers are. He finds out about some of them on his own, but this means learning the hard way. And I get how that can be really scary.

At the end of the last book, Lila was cursed by Cassel's mother. She's an emotion worker and made Lila love Cassel. Which is a pretty insensitive thing to do considering he's been in love with her for a loooooong time and this means none of it will be real for her. She's made to feel that way and though the effect will fade overtime, Cassel can never be sure if it's really her or still a lingering effect of the curse.

I felt his struggle. On one hand he's a hormonal teenage boy and Lila is a beautiful girl who practically throws herself at him and then there's his conscience on the other side telling him he can't act upon his feelings, especially not in a physical way. He shows true character in this and he may not always make the right decision, I still believe he's a good person deep down inside. He may not believe it of himself, but I do.

There's all sorts of horrible things happening and pressure is coming at Cassel from all sides to join them. Not to mention his family, who are just not nice people. I really dislike his mother and brother Barron. The only one I loved was his grandfather, who happens to be a death worker, so he's not exactly warm and fuzzy.

I also really loved Cassel's friend Sam and of course Lila. Sam is a truly loyal friend and Cassel needs one of those. I'm so rooting for Cassel to end up with Lila! They really need to work things out.

Holly Black is a genius in coming up with these cons and plot twists, it was absolutely amazing and I definitely did not see them coming! I'm predicting more trouble ahead for Cassel in the next book, so I'm really excited and will definitely be reading that one as well! It will be coming out April 2012 according to Goodreads.

My rating: 4 stars

Monday, April 4, 2011

Captured By A Rogue Lord by Katharine Ashe

Title/Author: Captured By A Rogue Lord (Rogues of the Sea #2) by Katharine Ashe
Publisher/Date published: Avon, April 1st 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "She would marry no man...
Serena Carlyle dreams of a happily ever after. Firmly upon the shelf at twenty-five, instead she's determined to find the perfect match for her beautiful younger sister. What better prospect than their neighbor, the wealthy, rakishly handsome Earl of Savege? Now Serena can beg his help in halting a local band of smugglers. Then, one night, stealing away from yet another disappointing ball, Serena finds herself trapped alone with a stranger...
Until he captured her—body and soul
His kiss was irresistible, his caress unforgettable, and he hides a devastating secret. A Robin Hood upon the sea, Alex Savege is the brazen pirate Redstone, seizing the yachts of spoiled noblemen to settle an old debt. Serena needs a hero, but her heart is in the gravest danger — for it is soon to be captured by a man as skilled at seduction as he is at plunder."

I've had a bunch of 'meh'-reads in the historical romance genre. This is not one of them! Gosh, I absolutely loved it! Katharine Ashe knows how to write good romance!
I'd never read anything by her before, but I have got to check out her other books!

I love it when I feel like gushing about a book, can you tell? ;)

Serena Carlyle has decided that at 25, marriage is not an option anymore and is determined to help her stepsisters in this area. So when her stepmother tries to get their neighbour, Lord Alex Savege, the eldest one, she will do everything in her power to support her sister. The only problem: her stepsister Charity is afraid of him, doesn't wish the marriage, and oh, there's the added problem of Serena having just kissed him in a dark parlor before she knew who he was...
Serena is in danger of losing her heart to the betrothed-to-be of her beloved sister.

I loved Serena. She's a passionate woman and she learns to be strong and take care of things herself. Her stepmother is the stereotypical evil witch (even to her own children) and verbally abuses Serena, which she learns to deal with. Serena is fiercely protective of her siblings, even if they're her stepsisters and I love that about her.

I also loved Alex, he's just perfect as the hero of a historical romance. He thinks he's not suited to be anyone's hero, but for Serena he wants to be. He's a really good person at heart and oh-my-gosh SWOONWORTHY!! I love he's the pirate version of Robin Hood: stealing from the rich bad-guys, giving to the orphans and war-widows.

And to continue in this: I absolutely LOVED them together. The chemistry was amazing! I felt the air sizzling around them, heated glances, secret smiles, stolen moments... Ah, it was as good as my favourite chocolate icecream. I also really appreciate that the book covers a span of time that seems believable for a couple to fall in love, total brownie points for that! I love that Serena is beautiful in his eyes even if she doesn't have the 'fashionable' look. Oh, and that there's not some silly love triangle.

I was annoyed by Charity, seriously, that girl was more like a mouse than anything else. I wanted to shake her a bit, she really needed to grow a pair. But I'm glad at how things turned out for her.

All in all I absolutely loved this book! I read most of it in one go and could not put it down, oh my gosh, the tension! Stomach-clenchingly good!
My rating: 5 stars

Sunday, April 3, 2011

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Thanks so much for hosting! I really enjoy her vlogs every week, so be sure to check it out. I LOVE seeing what everybody else got and adding new books to my to-read list because of it!

It's been three weeks since my last IMM and I've got some AMAZING books! And swag. Yay for book swag! :)


See all the amazing book swag there surrounding my pretty books? There are bookmarks and pins and stickers and the cutest little card, it actually say: "everything is better with sprinkles" underneath the cupcake. How awesome is that?! I won these in a giveaway by Heather at Book-Savvy. Thank you so much!

Onto the books:
I went a little crazy and exchanged several gift cards for books :)
-The Glass Demon by Helen Grant: I'd been kicking myself for not buying it the first time I laid eyes on it in the bookstore. Isn't the cover pretty?? It's actually even prettier on camera. Really looking forward to reading this one.
-The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb: this is actually not as pretty as you'd think from the picture. The color is off and it's actually only one pretty neutral color. But it sounds so great and it's what's inside that counts right?
-Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier: I've been dying to read one of her books and there's a comment on the back that says "It has the feel of a gothic horror, or a Daphne du Maurier ghost story". Sounds good to me!

eGalleys FOR REVIEW:

From Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab Program:

-Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott: I've heard great things about her books and am excited to read this one!
-The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy: it looks totally cute, I actually love the hot pink of the cover!
-Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready: the much anticipated sequel to Shade (which I haven't actually read yet, but will very, VERY soon).
-Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton: another cute cover and the premise sounds really good!

From NetGalley:

-The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab: OMG!! I GOT THE NEAR WITCH!! You better believe I squealed! And did several happy dances, in fact I feel like doing a happy dance all over again. I've added this book to my to-read shelf on Goodreads August 6th 2010. The wait has been slowly killing me. And now it's waiting for me to get to it, I'm so excited!!
-Royal Weddings by Stephanie Laurens, Gaelen Foley and Loretta Chase: this is an anthology in honor of Prince William and Catherine Middleton's upcoming nuptials.
-Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban: sounds great! It was actually a group read for the Fantasy Book Club group on Goodreads I lurk around sometimes.

-Where She Went by Gayle Forman: I just finished If I Stay (yes, I finally got around to it) and gosh, it was amazing! I'm so looking forward to reading the sequel!!
-Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade: if I'd only had the title to go on, I would NEVER have expected this cover to go with it ;)
-The Sins of Viscount Sutherland by Samantha James

-The Harlot by Saskia Walker
-Lord Langley is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle

Huge, enormous, gigantic THANK YOU!!! to all publishers!

So that's what I got over the last three weeks. Leave me a link to your IMM!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan

Title/Author: Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer (Twisted Tales #2) by Maureen McGowan
Publisher/Date published: Silver Dolphin Books, April 1st 2011
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince—she's a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family."

Sleeping Beauty with a twist! Lucette isn't a damsel in distress in the stereotypical kind of way. Sure, she's distressed because of the curse and needs to figure out how to break it, but she's not sitting around while someone else figures out how to do this.
Lucette was cursed at birth by the Vampire Queen Natasha because she wasn't invited to the naming ceremony. If she pricked one of her fingers after turning 16 on anything whatsoever, she would fall asleep from sunrise to sundown and be awake the other part of the day, but then the rest of the kingdom would be asleep. The only way to break the spell is to prove that she's found true love. But it's kind of hard to fall in love if no-one's actually awake to fall in love with.
Because Lucette is a firm believer of taking matters in your own hands, she trains to become a vampire slayer, so she can protect herself and her parents when the curse comes to pass.

I absolutely loved Lucette! She's a really strong girl and doesn't mind a little deceiving to get what she wants: slayer-training. Of course, it's not done for girls to actually train at slayer school, the only one who will teach her is Tristan, a boy from another country. This is love interest number one, he's a very likeable boy and very knight-in-shining-armor-like.

Lucette's mother is very much anti-vampire and has always told Lucette they're evil and killing machines. Then Lucette meets Alex, a very nice boy vampire, who doesn't seem to want to drink her blood or anyone else's for that matter. This is love interest number two. I thought he was a pretty nice boy as well.

The thing is: I couldn't decide who I wanted her to end up with. A revelation towards the end points me firmly in the right direction, but otherwise I wouldn't have felt like it was fair on at least one of them.

In this book you can choose a couple of times what you want Lucette to do when she has to choose between two options. I've only read one way to the end, but I think there are about 8 different routes. I'll probably go back and choose differently, but I really liked the story as I read it this time.

I loved how we got to see why Queen Natasha cursed Lucette, it wasn't just plain hatefulness. There were some pretty well-kept secrets in Lucette's family. Her father was a bit overbearing and her mother a bit close-minded, but I could see where they were coming from.

Did I mention sometime that I LOVE fairytale retellings? Especially with powerful female characters. And Lucette is just that. The ending was a bit abrupt and slightly too easy in my opinion, but I really enjoyed this book and I'm gonna check out more by the author.

My rating: 4,5 stars (if it wasn't for the ending, I would have given it 5)