Thursday, 31 March 2011

Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

A few days ago, I received a copy of Where She Went by Gayle Forman, a book I've been highly anticipating. A few days ago I even posted a list of the top five reasons I loved If I Stay, this included a bit about why I couldn't wait for Where She Went and that can be found here.

My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night’s performance. I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet—not miles, not continents, not years—and to take a callused finger to her face. I want to touch her to make sure it’s really her, not one of those dreams I had so often after she left when I’d see her so clear as day, be ready to kiss her or take her to me only to wake up with Mia just beyond reach.
But I can’t touch her. This is a privilege that’s been revoked.

It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it . . . and 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.
Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, powerful prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
(From the jacket copy of Where She Went)

You can tell from the fact I did a whole post about it that I was ridiculously excited about this book and as soon as more people have read it I'll definitely do a similar list for Where She Went. As it is, there is now under a week left to wait for Where She Went and I am so excited to offer my review on the ARC I received!

I read Where She Went over two days ago and have spent all that time since turning it over in my mind and processing it. And as much as I want to do one of those reviews where I rant about how much I loved it and use lots if capitals and exclamation marks I honestly don't think that would do such an amazing book justice.

I have read a lot of reviews where emotional books are described as 'an emotional roller-coaster'. And I'm not saying that is at all wrong just that I believe a book as exceptional and unique as Where She Went deserves a new simile. That's why I would like to say it was like emotional Dodgem cars.

Why Dodgem Cars you're probably wondering. Well, on the ride you get bumped and knocked around. And then sometimes you do the bumping yourself. You may get hurt by a restricting seat belt jerking you back or by being too free by not wearing a seat belt and being knocked. But when things calm down and you step off that ride, you're ultimately happy you were on it in the end. That summarizes how I feel about Where She Went. That considered, below is a more in-depth review in which I will try to avoid spoilers though may (hopefully not) slip slightly.

So as with If I Stay, Where She Went focuses on one day with much of the story being told through flashbacks which hold something of relevance.

The entire story is told from Adam's point of view. He's not the same as we remember him though. Over the three years that have passed Adam has had reason to become a much darker person and this is shown while we're in his head. I think Gayle Forman executed this remarkably well. Adam is very angst filled at the moment and that comes across clearly and in such a way that even though he's changed there's enough the same that we still recognize him and you'll still love him. To be completely honest I think in might even live Adam more after reading Where She Went.

Another of the aspects I specifically loved about If I Stay was Gayle Forman's writing style. It wasn't purely about the story but also how it was told. The figurative language that's so descriptive it'll draw a picture in your head that won't leave you for days, the words that are so lyrical and smooth. I adored a return to this in Where She Went though with a distinctly darker edge due to Adams frame of mind.

One of my favourite aspects of Where She Went though was the lyrics at the beginning of some of the chapters. These show more than anything the way Adam was feeling when Mia left. I read some of these lyrics and just understood so much clearly his pain. When you read them you which nothing more than for the music that goes with them as I believe this would reveal even more about the emotions he was feeling at the time.

If you read my previous post on If I Stay you'll know that it was the only book I've ever cried in. Not anymore. I cried in Where She Went and now believe that Gayle Forman has a true talent for causing tears in the highly sarcastic.
It was the most engrossing read I've had in months and I read it all in one sitting being unable to leave the ending in question. Days after reading it I'm still debating whether or not I loved it more than If I Stay. And now as I write this I think I can say with conviction that no I didn't. They are both different and can't be compared. I love them both for reasons that are sometimes the same and sometimes different.
As I don't want to ruin anything I can't tell you how it ends only that I loved all of it, every single word, even those that made me want to cry or scream.

5/5 silver platters!

Thank-you netgalley and penguin for allowing me to read this fantastic book and thanks Gayle Forman for writing it! I can't wait for it to be released so I can go out and buy it and hold a hard copy in my hands!


Friday, 25 March 2011

Tempted By Tuesday: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare and Red Glove by Holly Black

So, I am well aware that a lot of people out there in the blogosphere do posts which they title 'Waiting on Wednesday' to celebrate new release books which all come out on Wednesdays. This doesn't work for me. Why? Well, I'm Australian. This means that while we have the same date as everyone else for us, these dates are on Tuesdays. Hence the new segment for this blog: Tempted by Tuesday!

And to kick it off, two books I absolutely can not wait for that are coming out Tuesday week. Cassie Clare', City of Fallen Angels  and  Holly Black's Red Glove. With just over a week to go until their release I am literally counting down the days (Only ten more sleeps!) and am like a kid waiting for Santa if Santa was either an arrogant blonde shadowhunter or an awesome curse worker. Actually no, I think I'm more excited than those little kids.

For those un-initiated these books are:

(I know this is the UK edition of Red Glove but it matches the copy of White Cat I have and I assume this is the copy we'll get here in Australia)

The day I found out Miss Clare was planning on writing more Mortal Instruments books was a truly happy day for me. It's one of those days you'll always remember what you were doing, like (if you're that old) the day man walked on the moon, or the day you find out that that video you watched of man walking on the moon was possibly a hoax. I was stalkin-* I mean researching authors (wink,wink) when I stumbled across this tidbit, while literally stumbling as I was walking and reading the website on my phone so not looking where I was going, that Cassandra Clare was going to write not one but, *gasp*, three more Mortal Instruments books!! My squeals could be heard by my friend who lives on the other side of the state and called me to ask what all the noise was about!

Since then I have been collecting all the excerpts and quotes released online by Miss Clare and even entered and won a competition on her blog to win a copy of City of Glass with a chapter of City of Fallen Angels which wasn't available in Australia. And of course when that book arrived I didn't stroke the cover while also murmuring "My pretty...".

As someone who is also a fan of Holly Black you can imagine my excitement when I found out the sequel to the phenomenal White Cat was coming out the same day. Of course this also started an internal dilemma. Which should I read first? I'm sure I'm not the only one with this problem though and if you've managed to come up with a solution let me know.

This problem was only made worse of course when I found out a friend of mine knows Miss Black and has already read Red Glove! The jealousy overtook me and I think I may have told her, in a purely joking fashion, that I hate her, too which her response was "You can't hate me, I'm too awesome!". And in that particular instant I had to agree. But what have you authors done to me?!? Driven me to hate those who are my friends? Ahh the jealousy is eating me from the inside out!

As you can see from the ranting, I may possibly be in love with either or both of these two lovely ladies! Therefore I was over mars (saying over the moon is cliche!) when I found out that Cassandra Clare would be coming here to Australia in May! I was a little sad that Holly isn't coming and found myself dreaming about it before waking up and gently weeping over the injustice into my pillow. Okay, I didn't weep. But I did dream it which may mean I need to see a therapist about my obsessions, anyway... I've already booked my place and am searching for my costume. Anyway who is Melbourne and wants to go all the details are here.
 I am tossing up between three solutions on how to decide which to read first:
                      1. Toss a coin.
                      2. Whichever I see first when I walk into the book store.
                      3. Jace Wayland and pure shadowhunter sexiness or Cassel and twisty cons and magic, which am I craving more?

I'm sorry to say this Holly Black, but if I go with option 3, the simple temptation of the Dirty Sexy Alley Scene will probably win me over! (If you haven't read the DSAS it can be found, along with all the other currently released quotes here.)


*Okay, yes, I stalk authors, I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's only in the least creepy way possible, all I know is blogs, twitters, home addresses, phone numbers, bank accounts and computer passwords so nothing really. Authors, you know those weird phone calls where you pick up there's some screaming and then the phone's hung up? It's me, my international phone call bill is astronomical.

Review: This Girl Is Different by JJ Johnson

What happens when a girl, homeschooled by her counterculture mother, decides to spend her senior year in public school? First friendship, first love—and first encounters with the complexities of authority and responsibility.
Evie is different. Not just her upbringing-though that's certainly been unusual-but also her mindset. She's smart, independent, confident, opinionated, and ready to take on a new challenge: The Institution of School.
It doesn't take this homeschooled kid long to discover that high school is a whole new world, and not in the way she expected. It's also a social minefield, and Evie finds herself confronting new problems at every turn, failing to follow or even understand the rules, and proposing solutions that aren't welcome or accepted.
Not one to sit idly by, Evie sets out to make changes. Big changes. The movement she starts takes off, but before she realizes what's happening, her plan spirals out of control, forcing her to come to terms with a world she is only just beginning to comprehend.
So I requested this book via NetGalley as reading through the blurb I thought it would be an interesting read concerning a lot of the problems in society. And while this was true I didn’t particularly enjoy this book for a few reasons.
While I realise that the ideas shown in the book on a lot of things like diversity, prejudice and environmental issues all contributed to the story, it ended up feeling like a very preachy book to me. I felt that instead of reading a story that these were aspects of that I was being lectured by the author and don’t think I’m the only one who will feel this way. One of the instances of this I felt stood out was Evie’s first day at school when she compared TV to opium. In my opinion in a YA novel this is a bad move as even though the readers are probably expecting it from a book like this, the reality is a lot of the readers do actually watch TV, I mean I do and I find it condemning and condescending.
I did however truly love the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and felt that they were well reflected and explored. It was a book that got me thinking about things and I think that one of the reasons I wasn’t a hige fan was simply because I probably didn’t like some of what was being said about how I and the rest of us live.
While Evie was generally likeable it got to a point where I was beginning to consider her a Mary-Sue and starting to roll my eyes at her. She was too perfect. Not only that though the title kept popping up, the line “This girl is different” while she was doing a lot of similar things to girls I know. Not only was she obsessing over a boy but now a days being a confident woman is a lot more common than it used to be. This said she was a strong protagonist who did gain my grudging admiration.
The pacing of this novel was a bit weird, some things I considered irrelevant and boring seeming to take forever and some things I would’ve liked further explored left relatively untouched.
I enjoyed the authors style of writing and loved that it was in present tense as it’s certainly a refreshing change. I felt that Evie’s voice was clear and unique.  
It was definitely a hard book to get into for me and there were a few points at which I felt like putting it down. After persevering and reading the entire book I feel that it was definitely an interesting read just not one I particularly enjoyed.
2/5 silver platters.


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Five Reasons I love Gayle Formans If I Stay and can't wait for Where She Went

Two years ago, way back in the year of 2009 I went into a book store looking desperately for something new to read. Stumbling through the shelves, as I’ve always focused more on reading than on developing any kind of co-ordination, I happened across a book titled If I Stay. It had a very pretty cover, an interesting blurb and a fascinating title. And even though I had practically no money at that moment in time I bought it. And that, turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

Since then I’ve read If I Stay more than ten times and would say without hesitation or reservation it is my favourite book. It’s the book I refer people to when they ask for a suggestion and so far no-one who’s read it had ever come back to tell me anything aside from that they loved it. I’m someone who is overly pedantic about the appearance of my books, they can’t be dog eared, creased or in any way damaged. And logically you would therefore assume that being my favourite book would mean it’s pristine. I take it the other way. The fact that it’s been handled read and hugged to me so many times, that it’s been cried on, thrown across the room in despair (Okay, that one’s a little bit of an exaggeration. Throwing books is bad.) and sighed into means my copy is very worn and you can tell it’s much loved.
If you haven’t read this book, STOP whatever you’re currently doing and race out to your nearest book store, library or anywhere else you know you’ll find it. Even if that involves breaking into your neighbours house do it. You won’t regret it. Well, if you break into to your neighbour’s house and get caught you might but that’s beside the point.
So now here are my top five reasons why I love Gayle Forman’s If I Stay (I could make this list much longer, really it could go on forever but I didn’t think my rabbiting on forever was a very appealing read):
                1.Out of all the books I’ve ever read, and you can safely assume that as someone who’s attempting to start a book blog that I read A LOT, If I Stay is the only one that has ever made me cry. I never cried while watching the movie Titanic but I was bawling while reading this book. And I love a good cry. This is a book that brought up so much emotion as to make someone whose twitter name is cynicallaura cry.
                2. Adam. It’s that simple. One word, or a name really, Adam. I have masses of book crushes, whole lists of them, but he’s my favourite, the one I fell for. And even though I’m in love with him, I wouldn’t want him to be with anyone but Mia which leads me to my next point:
                3. The most perfectly imperfect relationships. All the relationships in the books are real. None are perfect they have their flaws which makes them believable, brings them to life, it’s something that is missing from far too many books. In If I Stay, Mia talks specifically about how her and Adam got off to a rough start, we’re told about how Mia’s mother’s and her parents didn’t get along and then we’re shown how her father and his parents interact. It’s this aspect of the book then being torn apart that was part of the reason I cried.
                4. There are no vampires, werewolves, shadowhunters (I’m looking at you Jace Wayland), fairies, angels, demons or spies. I’m not saying I don’t love all those things in books, because I do. Seriously, most of the books I read involve at least one of those aspects as I’m a deep lover of the paranormal, supernatural, fantasy genre. It’s pretty much all I read. If anyone needs evidence of this, comment that you’d like to see a pic of my shelves and I can show you exactly how many of these books I have. That’s why If I Stay was so refreshing. It was different. And it was deep. And the protagonist and her one true love weren’t on a trip to save the world/themselves/a herd of baby unicorns.
                5. It didn’t need a sequel. I’m overjoyed that one is coming out, I screamed when I found out, but it wasn’t necessary. Almost all the books I buy and read leave me unsatisfied. Not due to the fact they’re bad, but because they leave me hanging, waiting months on end to find out what happened next. When I read If I Stay I wasn’t expecting another book and while I would’ve killed to know what happened to Mia and Adam from the point the book ends, it was oddly peaceful to have had it end that way.
And before I start talking about my delight when I heard about Where She Went I can’t resist adding a number six to this list.
                6. It has that sexiest non-sex sex scene I have ever read. If you’ve read the book you’ll know what I mean. But, WOW! That scene is hot. I never thought musical instruments could seem so sexy.
Okay, now for those who don’t know, in little over a weeks time the sequel to If I Stay will be released. This book is called Where She Went and has been called a continuation of the Mia-Adam story. When I found out about this book I literally squealed, something I pride myself on not doing very often. I looked up everything I could about it and began regularly checking (*cough*stalking*cough*) Gayle Forman’s website, twitter and blog frequently and here are some things I found you may have missed.  Here you can find the ‘teaser tour’ on Gayle Formans blog along with a small excerpt and other bits and pieces. Here you can find the book trailer (and OMG is that boys voice sexy!) and another longer excerpt as well as other general information.

As soon as I’ve got the book in my hands and have read it I’ll post my review! I'm so incredibly jealous of all the people who've already read this book. If anyone feels the need to express how excited you are for this book please comment I’d love to discuss it with you!
Next on the blog: My review of both Demons Lexicon and Demons Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

First blog post and review! Yay! Review: Afterlife by Claudia Gray 4/5 silver platters!

So this is our first post! *cue applause*, So I feel as though I should talk a little bit about who we are and what we're aiming to do.

So the two people who are going to be running this blog are Lana and Laura, it's Laura talking (typing?) right now. And we're both ridiculously avid readers. As in, we put off homework that was due yesterday to instead read. Aside from reading most of the time, we're both very opinionated. This means a lot of arguments. And that's one of the things we hope to do on here to be slightly different than everyone else blogging out there: Argue.

We hope to give you a few different perspectives on certain books instead of just the one. Whether its which boy we prefer in a love triangle or whether we believe an ending suited a story we hope to liven things up with some viscious debates. Aside from that our completely opinionated and egotistical personalities requires us to share our opinions and this blog seemed like a good method!

And now, on to the review!

Afterlife by Claudia Gray

So, as an Australian I was very excited to be find out that here downunder Afterlife was actually released over a week earlier here than in the US. For those who don't know, Afterlife is the fourth and final book in the Evernight series. But fans of the series, don't distress! Miss Gray is writing a spin-off book focusing on much loved Balthazar, releasing next year and a new book called Fateful coming out later this year.

So , being slightly neurotic I have a thing about getting books the day they come out and as soon as I knew Afterlife was coming out I went straight to the bookstore and bought it.

Spoliers for Evernight, Stargazer and Hourglass!
Bianca and Lucas have always believed they could endure anything to be together. When a twist of fate not only transforms Bianca into a ghostly wraith, but also turns Lucas into a vampire—the very creature he spent his life hunting—they are left reeling.

Haunted by his powerful need to kill, Lucas can turn to only one place for help... Evernight Academy. Bianca is determined to remain with him. But with the vampire leader of Evernight waging a war against wraiths, her former home has become the most dangerous place she could be, despite the new powers her transformation has given her.

A battle between wraiths and vampires looms, and Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They’ve overcome every obstacle life has thrown at them, but is their love strong enough to survive the challenges after life?

As a fan of the first three books of the series I couldn't wait for the release of this one and was definitely not disappointed. Without giving too much away, I loved the continuation of the story though I did have a few issues with character reactions.

One of the things left hanging at the end of the third book is Lucas' reaction to coming back as a vampire. While his initial reaction to this wasn't particularly good I believe the believability increased throughout the book. For those fans of angst I know are out there, you'll particularily enjoy this installment in the series as it's one full of drama and emotion.

As the finale to a series I think it was done fantastically, tying all the loose ends into a nice neat knot. I personally adored the ending as one of my favourites in regards to the end of a series though I know some of you may not like it as much.

So in short, if you haven't already read the series I would definitely reccommend it. If you haven't read the series but are screwing up your nose simply because it's a vampire book and you are over them read it anyway as it has aspects (such as wraiths) I haven't read in any other vampire books. And if you're already a fan of the series, don't wait to grab this final installment, it can't wait!

I'd give it 4 out of 5 silver platters!

If you've read it or are looking forward to it, let us know in the comments.