Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Promo Post + Giveaway: Thorn by Intisar Khanani


Hi guys! Today B's Book Blog is happy to participate in Thorn's Release Day Party! Thorn by Intisar Khanane is released today. In this post you'll learn about Thorn and its author, and you'll also have a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card! 

Title: Thorn
Author: Intisar Khanani
Genre: YA Fantasy

Princess Alyrra’s strength lies in silence. Scorned by her family, she avoids the court, spending her time with servants. When her marriage is unexpectedly arranged with the prince of a powerful neighboring kingdom, Alyrra feels trapped. As the court celebrates her match, dark rumors spread about the unexplained deaths of the women of her new family.Alyrrabegins her journey with mounting trepidation. Betrayed while traveling, she seizes an opportunity to start a life away from court.Walking away from a prince whom she doesn’t know should have been easy. But from the moment she sets eyes on him, Alyrra realizes that her freedom could cost him his life. Without any magical defense of her own, she is plunged into a lethal game of sorcery and deceit. Now Alyrra must decide whom she can trust and what she’s willing to fight for—before her silence proves fatal.

Author Bio
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She now resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and young daughter. Intisar writes grants and develops projects to address community healthwith the Cincinnati Health Department, which is as close as she can get to saving the world. Her approach to writing fantasy reflects her lifelong passion for stories from different cultures. She is currently writing a trilogy set in the same world as Thorn. This is her first novel.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti 
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release date: May 31, 2012
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Format: eBook
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read  from May 27, 2012 
My rating: 2 stars: Nothing special 
Summary: Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on. 

I read the first of Susane Colasanti's book, When It Happens, in 2008, and I loved that book. That was the first one and I've never read any more of her books after that, but When It Happens gave me the impression that she must be quite a good writer. (Although later on when I tried to re-read the book in 2010, I got so annoyed I just gave up, and I couldn't recall why I loved it in the first place, even though I really did love it in 2008.) Keep Holding On is the second book by this very same author that I've read. I was really excited when my request got approved, hoping I would like it like I did the first novel. But readers, I regret to say that this book didn't impress me. 

Keep Holding On is about Noelle Wexler, a sixteen-year-old ninth grader, who lives a difficult life. Noelle and her mother lives in a rich area, but they're poor. There's rarely anything to eat at home, which results in only scraps of food she brings to school for lunch. She has clothes just enough to wear to school every day, and nothing more. Bullies enjoy bullying her. No one sits with her at lunch. Her one and only best friend isn't always around. Her boyfriend keeps her as his dirty little secret. Her mother neglects her. She's disgusted with her life. The environment around her and the treatment she receives make her believe that she's no good for anyone. And when Julian Porter, her other love interest, shows that he likes her, she pushes him away because she believes that once he gets to know her and her messed up world better, he'll stop liking her and leave anyway. Every day Noelle fights to keep holding on, looking forward to that one day when she leaves this town and can really be who she wants to be. But until then, she has to survive high school first. 

My first reaction was to give this book three stars, but I had a lot more problems with it than with those books I have actually given three stars to, and this book isn't as enjoyable. But maybe that's to be expected because of the heavy themes in this book. (Although I believe that however heavy the themes may be, a book can be a great read providing it's written well. That implies something about this book.) But I thought I'd settle with 3 stars anyway because it touched a very serious and important topic that is bullying. But then... I started thinking about something I like about this book... and none came up. Seriously. Usually I can find something to like in even the most boring book and give them two stars. Keep Holding On is by no means boring, but the fact that it has nothing that I can say I like about it makes it even worse than being boring. But it didn't enrage me like those I've rated one star, and I hate giving one star. I've been sitting here contemplating what to do with this book, and I've changed my decisions at least four times now. (Please forgive my obsession with rating.) And finally I decided to rate it two stars. It wasn't an enjoyable read but I don't hate it enough either. I don't know why I'm telling you this, but I feel like it's important that you know my feelings for this book weren't easy to pin down. 

Noelle gets bullied a lot in school mostly for the fun of the ones doing it. Hurtful words are thrown her way and she even gets physically hurt. However, I felt little sympathy for her. I mean, I did feel sorry for her and don't want her to live like that, but she's not a very likable character for me. I can understand where she's coming from. I've been there, I've felt humiliated by not having as much money to pour down the drain like everyone else, not having clothes as fabulous, not having a house as gigantic, not living a life as perfect.  These things haven't changed. It used to bother me so much when I was young, and it still bothers me a little from time to time, but I don't spend all time thinking (and whining) about it like Noelle.  

Even though my situation probably wasn't as bad as hers, I know where she's coming from. She's poor and humiliated; she's insecure about herself and finds it hard to believe that anyone might be interested in her or even believe compliments. I feel for her, but she's difficult to like, what with her saying how much her life sucks all the time. Apparently she's too proud for free lunch even though she qualifies. Of course, she prefers to have her stomach growling for the whole school to hear rather than to  get free lunch because she'll never "subject herself to that kind of humiliation." Girl, why do you care? Shouldn't your priority be keeping your stomach satisfied to survive? Is this really the right time to be so-- forgive my language--snobbish? She says  her mother isn't a mom, and a part of the reasons is that she doesn't buy Noelle the stuff she needs like tampons and toilet papers. Okay, I understand that it's wrong of her mother to not do that, but really, if she doesn't buy you tampons, buy them yourself! Don't just let your blood stain the chair just because your mother doesn't buy you tampons. It's a lame excuse. And honestly, I don't understand what point the blood scene really tries to make. It just bothers me. 

I felt like this book doesn't come out strong enough. It didn't make my heartache. Sure, it made me upset that bullying is going on, but that's about it. It's hard to feel emotionally invested with a book when you don't like the main character. Especially when the events in the story feel unbelievable. Here's a list: 
*spoiler alert*
1) It doesn't make sense to me why Julian likes Noelle. He says it's because she's different, but in the context in the book "different" kind of implies "not as rich as everyone else". What? 
2) A very horrible thing happens later in the book, but after that things seem to get a whole lot better. I didn't buy it. 
2.1) Suddenly the bullies stay away! 
2.2) Suddenly the mother cares! 

On top of all that, I wish I could at least say I liked the writing, but no. It annoyed me to no end. The narration jumps from one thing to another and form these unconnected parts of storytelling; from the present to the past that don't really connect but seems to happen because it's what Noelle randomly thinks about at the moment. It's all tell and no show. I can't describe it but I felt like the writing prevented me from getting into the story. I felt like I didn't know the other characters well enough. And another thing that bothers me is that the story doesn't start off well for me. I have a thing for opening sentences and opening scenes and this one just disappoints me. Yes, the first page was where I started feeling unimpressed. 

I really hate to give any book one lonely star, and I never imagined I'd give it to a book written by Susane Colasanti. I'm sorry. I just didn't like it at all. I won't judge her, though. Maybe this book is just not for me. I'm the minority here 'cause most people on Goodreads think this book is great. But for me... is this book heartbreaking? No. Is it moving? Yeah, a little. I respect that the author wrote this book about bullying, which is also dedicated to Tyler Clementi who was a victim. I respect that she reaches out and wants to help. There are useful resources at the end of the book that tell you where you can get help from. 

Although I didn't like this book, and I didn't like Noelle, I wish her the best. Noelle really has this belief that anywhere is better than where she is and she has her heart set on anywhere but here, and I hope that when she leaves this town one day, she's going to leave all the bad memories behind and that she's leaving it for a better place. No one deserves to be bullied, and no one really has the right to subject anyone else to it. Personally I'd say fight back, but you can do that or you can keep holding on. Don't give up. And like Noelle says, "Eventually, you'll find a real place that feels like home. [...] And you'll be so happy you held on long enough to make it there."


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley for review. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Review: Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Title: Angel Eyes
Series: Angel Eyes Trilogy, #1
Author: Shannon Dittemore
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Releaste date: May 29, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Format: eBook
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from May 24 - 26, 2012 
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake. Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption. Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start. A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive. 

Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through angel eyes.

First off, I have to say that I lack experience in the angels/demons book department, as Angel Eyes is my first. Because of this, I have no other book to judge Angel Eyes against, as well as none to compare to. At first I wasn't so sure about it, seeing as I didn't know of angels/demons books could be for me, but I'm so glad that I put my doubt aside and read this book anyway. It's so good!

Angel Eyes started out pretty weird and confusing for me, not gonna lie here. Before the first chapter begins, there's this little story about someone named Elisha who was the prophet of Dothan and his servant, who was given "eyes that see". Later in the book Elisha is also mentioned, though I really didn't understand. It wasn't until I googled that name because I was hoping there would be some kind of explanation that I realized it's in the Bible. Of course I wouldn't know that. As I'm not a Christian, I'm not familiar with the Bible other than the things about it that I studied in Religion class.

Chapter one starts out with Brielle on the train. Devastated by the murder of her best friend, Ali, she returns home from the city where she's been chasing her dreams. She settles back into the small town she used to live in, only to find that things have kind of changed around  here. The friends she used to hang out with are now distant. All except one, Kaylee. Then Brielle meets Jake, the new guy who just moved into town, and they're immediately drawn to each other despite the bickering. Something more than fate has brought them together.

This book is told in mainly three points of view: Brielle's (in first person), Canaan's and Damien's (in third person). I really liked it as it allows the storytelling to exceed the limits of what Brielle perceives. Readers' eyes are not then limited to that rather small perception but can see the big picture of what's going on.

I really liked the story. I feel like I can't just summarize what happens because there's a lot going on, and everything is almost connected, and talking about one thing can't make much sense unless I talk about another thing it's linked to, too, but then that would be revealing too much and ruining all the fun. This is something I love about a book. The mystery keeps you questioning but you don't get the answer right away. It's all these crazy arrows and links pointing to one another. I love how one person leads to another and then leads to someone else. But of course, you don't see everything at first. But when everything comes together, it gives you this overwhelming feeling. I totally love that. And that's what Angel Eyes gave me!

This story is exciting and a little mysterious--not so mysterious it makes you die inside because you need to know so bad, but mysterious enough to make you want to read on and find out what happens and why and how and what's next. As this is my first encounter with an angels/demons book, I have to say I'm already impressed and want to explore more books in this department. However, I feel I need to mention that this book might not be for everyone. It's heavily focused on Christianity. That includes God, angels, demons, heaven and hell. You can almost say Jake is a blind believer. He believes wholeheartedly, but his faith is not something Brielle understands. Brielle cannot bring herself to believe there's actually a God who lets her mother and best friend die, who chooses to save some people but not others, that there are angels protecting humans. It's laughable, she says. Ditto. I was there once (I'm still there). It's hard to believe and the whole idea really sounds laughable when you lose someone you love to death, and there's no one to hear your prayers. I think the use of the belief in this book enriches it. And while reading, I didn't feel like the author tried to shove her belief in my face or anything, which would've been a total turn-off and I'm so glad it didn't happen. I think she did it quite subtly and nicely. I really enjoyed the the theological aspect of this book personally.

The characters in this book feel so natural. I have no problem liking all of those I'm supposed to like, and hating all those I'm supposed to hate. I really liked Brielle and Jake already. I'm pretty sure I almost loved Canaan, and Marco who's labeled potential murderer turns out to be a pretty decent guy. I don't remember picturing the characters a certain way or as someone, but when I accidentally found out about Shannon Dittemore's dream cast, I have to say I agree with her completely. I had to be a creeper and snag some pictures to show you, so you know what I mean. 

This is the author's Brielle. Elle Fanning. Good choice! I CANNOT AGREE MORE. But Thomas Dekker as Jake? I'm not sure but it's not impossible.

Alex O'Loughlin as Canaan. Of course. Definitely. Perfect. *swoons*

As I said, I really liked this book, but there are exactly three things that bugged me. But no big deal. 
1) If I were in Brielle's position being informed that angels and demons do exist and that Jake's guardian is an angel assigned to Earth to protect humans, my first reaction would be LOLOLOLOLOL. But Brielle believes it. She accepts it without questioning; she's all oh, okay. It's laughable, but alright. This bugs me, okay? Okay. 
2) Jake and Canaan and their big mouths. They're both always ready to spill the beans. They tell Brielle everything without holding back. Aren't angels supposed to keep their existence from humans? Yes? No? 
3) Brielle changes her mind oh so easily about God. Way too easily for someone who's been skeptical all along. This bugs me the most. 

Again, I really really liked this book. I can't say that enough. It's well written and engaging and mysterious and addictive and fun and interesting. THE END, though, has got to be the meanest cliffhanger I have come across this year! You can't just end a book like that and expect me to simply go on with my life! I need to know what happens next so bad! I'm glad Angel Eyes is a part of a trilogy and that there'll be two more books coming out 'cause I really just can't get enough! It was such a great read!


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley for review. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review: Talisman of El by Alecia Stone

Title: Talisman of El 
Author: Alecia Stone 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release date: May 20, 2012
Publisher: Centrinian Publishing
Format: eBook
Pages: 364
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon (Hardcover) | Bookdepository
Read from May 18 - 23, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: When 14-year-old Char­lie Blake wakes up sweat­ing and gasp­ing for air in the mid­dle of the night, he knows it is hap­pen­ing again. This time he wit­nesses a bru­tal mur­der. He's afraid to tell any­one. No one would believe him ... because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago - the day before his dad died. Char­lie doesn't know why this is hap­pen­ing. He would give any­thing to have an ordi­nary life. The prob­lem: he doesn't belong in the world he knows as home. He belongs with the others.

What if your whole life was a lie? One Planet. Two Worlds. Population: Human ... 7 billion. Others ... unknown. 

Talisman of El is a debut book from Alecia Stone. It's a fantasy fiction for the children to young adult age groups, but really, anyone can read it. This is one of the most gripping novels I've read this year and I very much enjoyed it.

Charlie Blake, aged 14, is an orphan. When he gets adopted by Jacob, who's being real nice to him, he thinks maybe he's finally found the place he belongs. Charlie's always been hearing weird noises that seem to come out of nowhere and having weird visions and nightmares, but what he doesn't know is that it's not because he's a freak, but because he's different. There are things he doesn't know about his past and the world, and he doesn't realize that until one day he runs into a man he's been having nightmares about, who has the Talisman of El. The man, Derkein, is in search of open gateways to Arcadia, the world beneath the surface of Earth. Derkein takes Charlie, Alex and Richmond with him on an exciting and unpredictable adventure to find and enter Arcadia. There they meet the Arcadians, and Charlie gets to learn about his past and who he really is, and then comes the time when he realizes that the future of mankind lies in his hands.

It seems like that's all much I can say in this review without including spoilers. Talisman of El had me hooked since page one. It's a mysterious and adventurous and kept me wanting to know more. This action-packed fantasy is very well written. I love how one thing just leads to another and another and how the story seems to endlessly progress, always surprises and twists and turns. The characters are very well portrayed and I love the connection between them. I was quite surprise to see mythology in this book as well, but it only adds to the awesomeness of the book.

Although there were times when I felt like this book was longer than it really needed to be, it wasn't a big deal and didn't really bother me. I recommend this book to those of you who love fantasy and adventure, as this book is full of them!

Talisman of El is the first book in a planned trilogy. The second book, currently untitled, is expected to come out in 2013. 


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley for review.

Guest Post: The Language of Arcadia by Alecia Stone.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Night Sky by Jolene B. Perry


Hi guys! Today, May 22, B's Book Blog is happy to host a stop for Jolene B. Perry's Night Sky blog tour!

Title: Night Sky
Author: Jolene B. Perry
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Tribute Books
Format: eBook
Pages: 247
Source: Tribute Books
Links: Website | Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback)Amazon (Kindle)
Read from May 19 - 21, 2012 
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: After losing Sarah, the friend he’s loved, to some other guy, Jameson meets Sky. Her Native American roots, fluid movements, and need for brutal honesty become addictive fast. This is good. Jameson needs distraction – his dad leaves for another woman, his mom’s walking around like a zombie, and Sarah’s new boyfriend can’t keep his hands off of her. As he spends time with Sky and learns about her village, her totems, and her friends with drums - she's way more than distraction. Jameson's falling for her fast. But Sky’s need for honesty somehow doesn’t extend to her life story – and Jameson just may need more than his new girl to keep him distracted from the disaster of his senior year. 

Girl I’ve loved, girl I’m falling for. Now that they’re both in view, the problem is clear.

This is the second book written by Jolene B. Perry that I've read. Night Sky is an addictive read, which explains why I was hooked since the very first sentence all the way until the end of the book. I enjoyed it very much.

Night Sky is told by a male narrator, Jameson. Jameson has a best friend named Sarah, but she doesn't know that he's been in love with her for three years. His heart is broken to see Sarah get together with Eric.  That night while he's driving home, he spots a lost girl and offers to give her a ride home, which happens to be just across from his. That's Sky, and so begins their relationship. Sarah and Sky couldn't be more different. According to Jameson, Sky is all tall, dark and angles. Sarah is all smooth, short and soft curves. Jameson finds himself becoming addicted to Sky and craving her presence more and more, but his feelings for Sarah are still left unresolved. Being with Sky, who insists on brutal honesty at all time, makes Jameson realize that he's falling head over heels for her in a way that's not the same as his being in love with Sarah.

There are a few things about this book that impress me, but let's just start with the fact that I really like its story. I'm glad that this book isn't just about a love triangle, about a guy trying to figure out who he wants to be with, because it definitely felt deeper than that to me. There are family issues that send shudders through me. It felt so real! And there's this thing about "honesty" in this book that really makes you think. Yeah, why can't everyone just be honest? No more guessing and over-analyzing for anyone else. That would make life much easier, wouldn't it? But if you think some truth might scare someone away from you, someone you care about very much, would you say it anyway?

Initially I didn't get this honesty thing about Sky. I didn't see why it's so important, but near the end of the book I understood. And I loved that the foreshadowing is followed by such a twist. I loved that I didn't even see the twist coming and that it isn't just out of nowhere. It didn't feel forced, and it comes at just the right moment. That's one of the great elements in this book.

Another wonderful thing I have to mention is that the male narration feels so natural! Forced and unnatural narration is a big turn-off for me. At first I had my doubt, because not a lot of female writers can really pull that off. But after I've read this book, I have to say that Jolene B. Perry did an awesome job with the narration! It's so believable, the things Jameson feels and says and does are the things that guys feel and say and do. I didn't have any problems with it at all. Throughout this book I saw how Jameson gain maturity, come to terms with his problems, and finally figure out what he really wants. I found myself going along with him like it was the most natural thing in the world.

While I enjoyed Jameson's storytelling, I can't say I liked Sky. Sky is a Native American who comes with mystery and leaves with mystery. She wears next to nothing most of the time. She accepts a stranger's offer and jumps into his car; she strips down to black panties and jumps into his pool. I'm not sure if it's because of the way she's written and portrayed or because I just don't like girls like her in the first place. Although there are some things that I couldn't grasp about her, she's nice enough in the story that it didn't really bother me.

However, I think Sky, among other things, did slightly affect my overall liking towards the book. I think this book is 'good', but it's not what I'd call 'great', as I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't see any quotes memorable or outstanding enough to highlight. Night Sky is well-written with dramatic plot twists, great character developments, and natural, enjoyable narration. If you're a fan of coming-of-age stories, I recommend this book to you. There's something about it that's very addictive and the next thing you know, you might still be up at 2 AM, caught up in this book like I was, unable to put it down.


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review and book tour. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Title: The Lover's Dictionary 
Author: David Levithan 
Genre: Romance
Release date: February 2, 2012
Publisher: Fourth State
Format: Paperback
Pages: 215
Literary award: ALA Alex Award (2012)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read on May 19, 2012 
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it + Favorite
Summary: How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time. 

I'll admit that it's quite difficult for me to find the right words to say about David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary, but I'll try.

This book is a dictionary that the narrator writes about his current relationship. I'm still reluctant to call this book a novel, because to me it didn't really feel like one. It's very short and took me only about an hour or two to finish. Its format is like a dictionary with 185 headwords running from A to Z and definitions. The most interesting thing here is that these definitions are not straight forward definitions you see in English dictionaries, but short entries telling short stories that the narrator associate with the words. It reads like a personal diary.

Here's my favorite one:
dumbfounded, adj.
And still, for all the jealousy, all the doubt, sometimes I will be struck with a kind of awe that we’re together. That someone like me could find someone like you - it renders me wordless. Because surely words would conspire against such luck, would protest the unlikelihood of such a turn of events.
I didn't tell any of my friends about our first date. I waited until after the second, because I wanted to make sure it was real. I wouldn't believe it had happened until it had happened again. Then, later on, I would be overwhelmed by the evidence, by all the lines connecting you to me, and us to love. 
It's the kind of book that can make you feel all kinds of emotions. I think it's pretty amazing how David Levithan uses so few words but the feelings and images come out so distinct. Loved that! His writing is simply beautiful. Wait, let me try again, HIS WRITING IS MAGNIFICENT. The emotions and problems and events in this story feel so real and are described like they really are. It can go from happy-in-love to heartbreaking to bitter to frustrated and then to happy-in-love again. I loved that something as intangible as feelings can be described so accurately and beautifully. The storytelling isn't linear and sometimes two words 20 entries apart tell the same story but with additional information. So charming! 

Another one of my favorite: 
livid, adj.

Fuck You for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.
Wow. Isn't that just awesome? 

Never before have I read any book like this one. I wish the book was longer. I don't feel this way often. I felt like I couldn't get enough. It is romantic, clever, and funny, just like what Sunday Times says on the cover. This book is a unique work of art. Definitely a favorite. I'm sure I'm going to pick this book up again to reread. 
punctuate, v.
The key to a successful relationship isn't just in the words, it's in the choice of punctuation. When you're in love with someone, a well-placed question mark can be the difference between bliss and disaster, and a deeply respected period or a cleverly inserted ellipsis can prevent all kinds of exclamations.
This book = ♥!


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Music from Beyond the Moon by Augusta Trobaugh

Title: Music from Beyond the Moon 
Author: Augusta Trobaugh 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release date: April 30, 2012
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Format: eBook
Pages: 266
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from April 28 - May 17, 2012
My rating: 2 stars: Nothing special
Summary: She became his soul mate and first love, but can he and she escape a destiny that was decided before they were born? In 1920’s Florida, an abandoned baby boy grows up under a cloud of mystery, adopted by two strong southern women who try to protect him from his family’s secrets and heartaches. But even their best intentions and deepest devotion can’t hide the truth forever or soften the fate that faces both him and the girl he loves. Augusta Trobaugh’s unforgettable novel speaks of loyalty, loss, the difficult choices we make in the name of family, and of courageous hope, each inspired by the fragile and painfully longing music of life, a song that seems to come from beyond the moon.

"That's what love is like—it's mysterious and far away, and we can never even really touch it—never hold it tight at the same time, never let it go. But we can hear it sometimes, honey. Like music. Music from beyond the moon."

The first thing I have to say about this book is that I'm glad I finally got it over with. Had it been a wonderful read? No, not really. Was it more like a sleeping pill? Yes, yes, yes, definitely! After 20 days, an end was put to this misery of mine. Who'd have thought a 266-page book could take me this long to finish? This book is incredibly boring. There, I came right out and said it. Am I being harsh? Maybe. But if I were a reader looking for the next book to read, and thought this book might be it, that's what I'd want to know. There are a lot more better ways to spend your time than with the wrong book, trust me.

Music from Beyond the Moon started off pretty amazingly for a book that could literally bore me to tears. It's 1924 when a baby boy is abandoned by his mother in the backyard (I think) of a house owned by two southern women in a place called Love-Oak in Florida. The women, Fiona and Glory, take him into their home and give him all the love in their world. They give him a name (Victor), love him and raise him like he was their own. But the plot isn't what I'm talking about here. Here is the one thing I liked about this book: the writing. I could see vivid details of what was going on. I could feel the emotions coming out of the characters. I loved that. The author's words are very well chosen and they form these amazing sentences. Oh, her writing is gorgeous! I'm a sucker for good writing, alright.

Here's my favorite:
"Her thoughts are like wild birds flying blindly around a cage they didn't know was there."

I loved the way her words are strung together. It's kind of sad that that's where the compliment has to end. However good the author's way with words may be, I can't like her book if the story isn't well written, and that's definitely the case. I lost interest as soon as 2% of the book was over. That's just about how good the book is to me. That's a little before the part where the author started making the book so off-topic and lose its focus on the story that it was hard for me to try to understand why she did this. That's where enjoyment ended and "tolerance" started.

There are quite a number of  problems I had with this book. The author seemed to have written everything about every one of the character, which is quite over the top. Do I need to know how the lives of everyone were before the book starts? Of course not. Most of those things are totally unnecessary. So many stories about the past of these characters are put in the book that it made me wonder what this book is really about, and whom it is supposed to focus on. I understand that the past needs to be told in order to shape the future, but it really wouldn't be that difficult to cut out the mumbo jumbo and unnecessary sub-plots, would it? That would have made my reading much easier and more comfortable. This book has a problem staying focused on the main plot, and that's very annoying. It leads you off-topic for what seems like 20 pages and that makes it hard to get back on track, and you don't remember anymore what was happening before that. When a book is written in this manner, it usually gets a bye-bye from me.

The message of this book to me is pretty clear. Since Music from Beyond the Moon is a book about love and the tragedy it brings, its makes you see how love can break you and how terrible something as wonderful as love can be. Heartbreaking stories of each character are told one after another: A woman who thought she knew love but didn't; a good girl gone bad loving the wrong guy; a mother who had to go; love between two young people that just can't be; etc. Sometimes I could feel their pain, but most of the time I was annoyed instead. I would've really liked this book if it hadn't been for the way it was written.

So here's the bottom line: I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.


This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Author Interview: Lisa Burstein of Pretty Amy

Hello folks! Today I'm honored to have Lisa Burstein for an interview on B's Book Blog as a part of Pretty Amy blog tour! Pretty Amy is her debut book, and it's a really great one. You can check out my 4-star review on Pretty Amy here.

Without further ado, here goes the interview!

Best: Hello, Lisa! I'm glad to have a chance to interview you. I really like your debut book, Pretty Amy. May I ask what inspired you to write such a great book? 
Lisa: I write YA because I felt like I still had all these things to say from when I was a teenager that I never got a chance to say. I also feel like teens need books in a way adults don't. At least I know I did, I looked to books to help me make sense of what I was feeling. I guess I hope teens will use PRETTY AMY in the same way. In terms of a book that influenced in the writing of PRETTY AMY, I would have to say Catcher in the Rye. Not that I would even compare PRETTY AMY to the masterpiece that is Catcher in the Rye, but I wanted to write a book about a girl that *might* be a modern, funnier Holden Caufield. I was arrested during my senior year of high school, not for the same reason Amy was, but that was where the kernel came from. I also knew I wanted to write a "shocking" book from a teenage girl's point of view. I feel like you can get away with your character being a murderer, or a jerk, or just a smart ass more easily if your book isn't contemporary and I wanted to try to break that mold with PRETTY AMY. I also wanted to write a contemporary YA book that was about what real teens go through. I feel like teenage girl's lives are complex and I hoped to show that in PRETTY AMY.
Best: It's stated in the "About the author" part of the book that you didn't go to your prom. Why? Do you regret not going? (I didn't go to mine either because I didn't feel like going, and I don't regret a thing!) 
Lisa: No one asked me, sad right? I do wish someone did ask me, I would have loved to go to prom. I don't regret not going, but I think I would have had a great time.
Best: Do you read readers' reviews on Pretty Amy? Do you think you'd be bothered by negative reviews? (Hypothetically speaking, because right now I haven't seen any yet! :-)) 
Lisa: I do read reviews, but I am thinking of stopping. It is great to see when someone loves and is touched by your book, but when you see the opposite, which is bound to happen because not everyone can love everything, it hurts. A lot. I am not able to separate myself from the book in the way I need to, to not be when I read them.
Best: What is your favorite book and why? 
Lisa: A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It is so smart, so compelling. Dystopian before dystopian was cool.
Best: Now, the last question. What question(s) is most asked so far on the tour, and what question(s) are you most fond of answering in interviews? 
Lisa: It is the same, what do you hope your readers will take away from reading PRETTY AMY? The answer is: I was a lot like Amy. Just like her I had such a desire to belong, to fit in, to have people who understood me. I wanted that so badly and I guess I never felt like adults understood that. It was most of the reason I wrote PRETTY AMY. If I'd had it when I was in high school I feel like I would have been able to understand my feelings better. I wouldn't have felt so alone. That feeling was something I never admitted to anyone, not even my friends and I want to let teens know it's okay to feel lonely even surrounded by friends and family.
Thank you so much Lisa Burstein for joining us on the blog and for this lovely interview! 

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing. 

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

About Lisa Burstein 

Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Pretty Amy is her first novel. She never went to her senior prom. She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous. 

She was a lot like Amy when she was in high school.

She is still a lot like Amy

You can find Lisa here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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