Monday, August 27, 2012

Tattly Subscription Haul: 2 out of 6

Well it's that time of the month again!  Not that one but Tattly time!

Names and artists

All of them!

Not going to lie, I wasn't as thrilled with this months selection as I have been the past months but I still did find favorites in this one!

My favorites for this month.  
LEFT: I like how you could cut apart the words or letters to create different combinations.  
TOP CENTER:  I think this would look really nice on the wrist or neck, the script is really pretty!
BOTTOM CENTER:  Unicorns are very in this year.  
RIGHT:  Um... it's a giraffe with a stack of books.  How can that NOT be one of my favorites?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview With Alice Jane of Crazy Red Pen!

Alice Jane Chen of the book blog Crazy Red Pen has been one of my best friends for such a long time.  I discovered the world of blogging through her and was lucky enough to be able to interview her about blogging, books and more!  

1.  Wow, you've been blogging for about three years already!  What has kept you motivated to blog for all this time?

It's more like I've been seriously blogging for around a year. My other two years were spent writing about random stuff. And I mean random... I feel so embarassed about my posts from two or even three years ago... But back to motivation behind blogging. It's really all about time management and doing something that you like. If you like what you're doing enough, you'll set apart enough time to do it. It really doesn't have to be a book blog; it can be anything. 

2.  How would you say your blog has changed over the years?

I think it's gotten a lot more focused. I read YA a lot more way back but my older posts were just short summaries with something along the lines of "written well, I loved it, etc." I was also into making what I call "artsy-fartsy" book pictures to accompany the posts but I don't really have time to do that anymore. Maybe I should bring it back...? It's harder now since some books I read are e-books so it's a lot harder to photograph...

In addition, I think I've found my "voice" so to speak. If you can find your voice (who you are, how you blog, etc.) then blogging becomes so much easier and a lot less burdensome. 

3.  Since you tortured me with this question, I’ll return the favor.  What is your favorite book of all time?  YA?  Classic?

Ugh. Why did I ask you this...? (Laughs) My favorite book of all time is probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. That woman is so witty and I love her personality (her personal letters are hilarious). But by saying that, I feel like I'm going to be branded with the label of  "chick-lit" reader. What is that? As Libba Bray once said in an interview, are men branded with the label of a  "dude-lit" reader? 
Anyways, I find the satire in Pride and Prejudice funny. Comedy is always fun to read. 

YA? My tastes vary. At the moment though, I really like Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone, a debut 2012 book (came out in July). The woman who wrote it writes the posts for Spark Life. She seems to be quite funny/comedic. I'd like to chat with her one day....
All time favorite book? I'm going to skip that okay? (laughs)

4.  Recommend one book that you've recently read.  

See question three. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone. I also liked The Buddha in the Attic, a short adult novel about the Japanese American experience in the 1940's. 

5.  What was your favorite book as a child?

Winnie the Pooh! Edward Bear (Mr. Sanders/Winnie the Pooh) is so fat and cute! Hahaha... My parents bought me a 3 ft tall stuffed Pooh Bear when I was younger because I was so obsessed with it. (I still kind of am...)

But I suppose I actually didn't really read the actual stories that were written by A.A Milne, so that doesn't really count. 

But around second grade, I really liked Magic Tree House and A-Z Mysteries. Mysteries are so fun to read. Especially The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. An unrelated sentence to the question though, the BBC series of Sherlock Holmes is really fun to watch. They've modernized the stories but they're fresh and doesn't feel forced. 

6.  If you could be any book character, who would you be and why?

Ugh... This question... I don't really imagine myself as a character when I'm reading, so this is such a hard question. Even if the book is in first person, I still read like I'm a bystander watching. 

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, I guess? She has magical powers but she doesn't have to fight the Dark Lord like Harry does... Plus she's smart! Hahaha...

7.  What's the best part about blogging?  Worst? 

The best? I get to sit and write. Then press publish. No, uhm, really. I get to read wonderfully written books and share my love of books with others who are similar minded. I also get to meet other people, which is fun! :)

The worst? The time management. The behind the scenes work. You read a book for around three hours and then you have to put your love of that book into physical words so other people can understand. But I think that's pretty okay. I've found my voice so it's not that bad. Definitely the juggling of blogging and actual life though. I'm still a student so it's pretty rough. But you try and you get through it. (I'm not being very helpful, am I...?)

8.  I see you also have an interest in fashion.  Why do you like fashion?  Who is your favorite fashion designer and why?  

Fashion! I actually just had a conversation with a RISD student who interned for an up-and-coming Belgian fashion designer based in NY. It was probably the most interesting conversation I've had with anyone. I used to think fashion was really fickle and shallow and I still do sometimes, but you learn to appreciate the crafting, the details in the garments. Some garments are just so simple but so beautiful. 

I'm a huge follower of art in general, so fashion just branched off of that. I'm a purveyor of random fashion trivia (and basically random trivia in general)... I read things and retain them for quite some time. 

I really, really admire Alexander McQueen's work. They're quite interesting and some pieces are definitely not something you'd wear out on the street but they're just so, so detailed. He really carries a theme throughout a season and does it so cleanly. It feels so natural to him. 

9.  You also frequently review manga or discuss them on your blog.  Why do you like them?  How do you think they are different from/similar to the traditional novel?   

I got into manga in middle school when a friend introduced them to me. It was visually appealing and I've read so much since then. I've actually always read comics, even when I was four or five (San Mao, a Chinese comic about a poor beggar boy). It feels natural I suppose to me?
They're similar in the way that they tell a story. However, the flow of comics and the pacing of it is a lot different than a traditional novel. Pacing, I feel like, is a lot harder with comics (I say that because I find it easier to express myself in words than pictures). You have to have a lot of variation in shots and angles to make it seem interesting.
Yen Press (division of Hachette Book Publishing; sister companies to Little Brown and Company) actually makes manga/OEL (Original English Language) versions of popular YA novels such as the books by James Patterson. Some of them are quite good, actually. 

10.  And finally, what advice would you give to new bloggers like me?  Thank you for this interview; I really do appreciate your time! 

Find your passion. That's the most important thing. Don't blog because you think it's cool to blog. Blog because you like to blog. Blog about the things that you like, not the things that you think are "in" right now. You may become popular in the short run, but what's your voice? Don't be chasing after trends, set your own trends. 

Also, make friends. The book blogging community is friendly and closely knit. We're all nice! Ask other bloggers questions. Don't be intimidated by them. You can ask me questions! (Shameless self-promotion). Ask me things on Twitter (@alicejane011) or via email. 

Thank you for interviewing me!

Haha, that was the first interview I've ever done and I'd say it was a success!  Once again, thank you Alice for doing this :)  Don't forget to check out her blog at Crazy Red Pen or you can find her on Twitter (@alicejane011).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Fathomless (Fairy Tale Retellings #3) by Jackson Pearce


Title: Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings #3)
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 4th, 2012
FTC: The ARC was sent to me from the publisher.  All opinions in this review are my own.  

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a mermaid -- a term too pretty for the soulless monster she's becoming. Then Lo meets Celia when they work together to rescue a handsome boy named Jude from drowning. Unlike Lo's ocean sisters, Celia has the ability to help Lo remember her human past. The two form a friendship but soon find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than love, though. According to ocean lore, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her... and steal his soul.

I absolutely love fairy tale retellings so when I received the ARC for Fathomless by Jackson Pearce in the mail, I was very excited to start reading.  As one can tell from the cover and title, this book is based on The Little Mermaid.  Not the Disney movie, but the darker original story by Hans Christian Anderson.  You know, with sea foam, knives and all?  Read more about the original here.

Once I started reading, I could not stop since there were so many questions I wanted answered.  How did Celia and her sisters get their powers?  How did Lo get turned into a mermaid?  Who are the "angels" that the mermaid sisters keep talking about and what part did they play in Lo's transformation?  What was the purpose of her transformation?  Even as I got closer to the end, a lot of the questions remained unanswered.  A lot of the ones that did get answered brought up newer questions which was quite annoying.  I did hear that some of the things referenced in this book were also in the previous books in the series so maybe reading the other ones would have helped.  I disliked the switching point of views back and forth between Lo's human self and Lo's mermaid self.  It was not very effectively done and was confusing at times.  Another thing I disliked in the book, Jude was the most blah YA love interest I have ever encountered.  His character was so flat and one dimensional.  Broke musician who writes songs about girls and the ocean?  *le yawn*

Despite all that, Fathomless is a very engaging story.  Being a soulless mermaid has been all Lo can remember and she can finally start to remember her past with the help of Celia.  Celia has felt overshadowed by her sisters all her life and now has the chance to prove her own worth by helping Lo.  On the other hand, their friendship has a dark side to it.  It's the classic "friends fighting over boy story" but this time, one of them wants to steal his soul.  It's a very cool and interesting idea.  The underwater scenes with Lo and her mermaid sisters were haunting and sad, not what you usually think of when you hear the word "mermaid".  I loved how Pearce redefines mermaids in that sense.  Another thing I loved was the ending.  The ending can make or break a novel; in this case, the ending saved it!  Holy cow, it was definitely unexpected.  Not exactly a perfect ending, but with enough closure to leave me feeling satisfied.  

Overall, I thought the novel had great potential, but I was really conflicted while reading it.  The plot is great and the world that the author creates is really fascinating.  But there are too many things going on at once and many questions are left unanswered.  I'm probably going to check out the first two books in the series to see if that helps.  This is still a worthy read and I would definitely recommend it to fans of the previous books in the series and fans of fairy tales and paranormal romance.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell (The Conquered Earth #1)

Title:  Midnight City
Author: J. Barton Mitchell
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
FTC: This book was given to me by the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

In a world where all the adults have been taken by aliens called The Assembly, the remaining children struggle to survive.  Adding to their troubles is The Tone.  This disease was introduced after the invasion of The Assembly, taking over its victims slowly until the age of 18.  At the age of 18, the victim will finally become brainwashed by these voices and walk to the ships of The Assembly to be taken away.  

The story begins with 20 year old Holt Hawkins, a bounty hunter immune to The Tone, attempting to capture a girl named Mira Toombs and take her to Midnight City.  Along the way, they meet 8 year old Zoey, a young girl who has special abilities, abilities that can potentially take down The Assembly itself.  

Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell is a combination of dystopian and science fiction, two of my favorite genres which made me really excited to read this.  But there are also elements of romance and fantasy, adding diverse storylines and keeping the book from being your typical aliens or post-apocalyptic novel.  The blossoming relationship between Holt and Mira was very well written.  Even though one was the captor and one the captive, they are equals throughout the novel, as they both save each other numerous times.  

Holt Hawkins is your typical hardened do-whatever-it-takes-to-survive guy.  Yet he becomes vulnerable as more of his sad history is revealed.  Zoey is the youngest of the trio but she may be the most powerful.  She reminds me of Angel, from the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson.  My favorite character by far is Mira.  Like Holt, she's also hardened and gutsy, but she's more in tune with her feelings which makes her more relatable.  She's also extremely clever, a talented Freebooter and an expert on artifacts.             

There were so many different things going on in this novel, a little too much.  Sometimes, the writing seemed a little messy and confusing, especially in the last quarter of the book.  The later parts of the book seemed really rushed and there wasn't enough closure.  Yes, I'm all for books in series having open endings with some unanswered questions.  But in Midnight City, the majority of the major questions go unanswered and some were not even addressed.  This was annoying for me.  

But overall, Midnight City was a very entertaining action packed book and I already cannot wait for the next book in the series (even though this one hasn't even been published yet!).  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle

I'm glad to be returning from a three week hiatus with a book review!  This is a great one :)

The Lure of Shapinsay

Title:  Lure of Shapinsay
Author: Krista Holle
Publisher:  Sweet River Romance
Genre: New Adult (older teens/ young women)
FTC: This book was sent to me by the author for consideration.  All opinions are mine.  

On the small island of Shapinsay (near Scotland), legends of selkies run rampant amongst its inhabitants.  Selkies are creatures that live as seals in the water and take off their skin to become humans on land.  They are very beautiful, with selkie men having powers of seduction over human women.  The lure of selkie men is often powerful enough to lead many women to their deaths in the sea.   The villagers fear them, as well as the sea that is their home.
Sixteen year old Kait Swanney is an exception.  She loves the water and scoffs at the idea that a selkie could possibly lure her to her death.  She does not even expect to meet a male selkie in her lifetime, let alone be bewitched by one!  But when a male selkie name Eamon mistakenly believes Kait to be the murderer of a half human, half selkie baby, all of that changes.  Intending to avenge the baby, he sneaks into her room at night prepared to kill her.  Kait awakens and clears up the whole misunderstanding.  He leaves but not before unintentionally bewitching Kait -- and finding himself also falling in love with the "land loper".  Will Eamon choose the sea over Kait?  And is Kait truly in love with Eamon, or is it just the lure?

I was not familiar with the legend of the selkie when I started reading it so I made sure to do some research.  There is some explanation in the novel about selkies but without prior knowledge or research, the reader will likely get confused.  I am obsessed with selkies now and can't believe they're not more prevalent in paranormal romance novels!  Krista Holle does an amazing job capturing the allure and danger of selkies, Eamon in particular.  Learn more about selkies on its Wikipedia page.  

The small island of Shapinsay is brought to life with beautiful imagery of the sea and an Scottish sounding dialect.  There is also a motley of supporting characters who each bring something different.  A young woman who watches as her human/selkie baby is torn away from her and killed.  A brother who arranges his twin sister's marriage.  A crazy old woman who is always searching for something by day and wailing by the sea at night.  I think some of the supporting characters could have been a little more developed.  However, Kait and Eamon's storyline interested me the most anyways so I didn't really mind.

Kait is truly something.  She is a very likeable protagonist.  She's the embodiment of the typical "strong" heroine - stubborn rebellious, brave and extremely independent.  It was very interesting to see how all that mixed with her later obsession with Eamon after being bewitched by his selkiness.  It would have been very easy for Kait to lose herself after being bewitched by Eamon but she still retains her headstrongness and determination, not losing what made her special in the first place.  However, there were times when I couldn't tell whether it was love or the lure making her do what she does.  That was a little frustrating at times.  

I also loved Eamon.  Like a lot.  He is the perfect mix of reckless and the naive, with a touch of nobility and pride.    Even though one of his main roles in the novel was to be the selkxy and alluring mythical creature love interest, Eamon has depth and humanity.  And the most swoon-worthy lines

"Your cheeks are flushed," Eamon observed with a relaxed smile that lit up his face like the sun.  He awkwardly pushed a blonde straggler behind my ear.  His fingers lingered behind my neck as if they were always meant to be there.  "Aren't ye well?"

"It means I'm happy," I said with a broad grin, "Your cheeks are splotched pink too."

Eamon touched his cheek like it couldn't be true then gave me a bewildered look.  "Then I must be happy too."

At its heart, this novel is a sweet and engaging story about forbidden love.  I really don't want to spoil too much but there are many twists and turns that keep the reader interested and emotionally invested.  Very worth reading!

Check out this awesome book trailer :)

I give this book a 4/5.