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Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm still alive!

I know I've been EXTREMELY absent for the past couple of weeks. I haven't been mauled by a bear or fallen off a building. And I DEFINITELY haven't quit blogging. I just want to let you all know that the reason I haven't posted lately was because I had to take my computer in to get the hard drive replaced. It was hard not having my computer or being able to blog, but it was even harder when my computer came back to me and all my stuff is gone. I anticipated that, though. I downloaded all my documents to a flash drive, but that didn't save all the books on my virtual Kindle and of course my NetGalley books that the publishers have now archived. I had some awesome books I wanted to read, too, but I'll get over it.

So, that's the deal! At least I got some good-ish reading time in. The posting shall return tomorrow :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bookly Gabbing: DNF Books

Bookly gabbing is just a feature here where I ramble about book-related subjects. And sometimes other-related subjects :)

DNF Books

 I know that there are a lot of mixed feelings on the subject of DNF books. Some people review them, some are firmly against them, some don't care who does what with the books they don't finish.

I've always been all for people reviewing them, as long as they can provide reasons behind it. I do not, however, support reviews with no grace, tact, or class. I get so so so angry when people call something like this a book review:

"This was terrible. I've enjoyed smelling dog crap more than I enjoyed this book. I couldn't even finish it because it was like scraping at my eyes with rusty iron nails.The author must have been on some serious drugs when he wrote this piece poo."

 Wow! So glad feelings can't be hurt by something like THAT. I mean, it's not like authors put a lot of time, thought, work, and even a piece of their soul into the book you just trashed. I'm not even kidding, I've seen reviews like that and even more mean than that. And, really, what's the point in bashing the author? Have you ever even spoken to him/her? No? WOW. Glad you somehow know how horrible of a person they are. Oh my gosh, when will people realize that just because a book comes from a writer's soul, doesn't mean that it defines the author. If you have no reason at all to dislike an author, then don't say rude things about them. Or, even better, if you do have a reason to dislike an author, don't make it everyone's business. Book reviews are about the product, not the producer.

My mentality is that negative reviews and DNF reviews are essential to the blogging community. If there is not a single negative thing said about a book, then people will probably end up spending their money and getting their expectations crushed. So, yes, I think negative reviews and DNF reviews can be a very good thing, but that's only if you're writing them to help out your readers. That's what we got into this for, right? To talk about books and help others find books that they adore! Somehow I doubt that using horrible language (I don't mean just cussing, but dropping the f-bomb every other word is not necessary!) and mean GIFs is really helpful to anybody, unless they're looking for a laugh.

I always say that I do review DNF books, but in actuality I have only reviewed one book I didn't finish, but that was because I made a conscious decision to close the book forever. I barely ever do that, because I keep hope that it will get better, or the curiosity of how it ends keeps me in. But there has been a lot more than one book I haven't finished in all the time that I have been blogging. All of those, though, I didn't really mean to not finish. I just wasn't hooked and I guess that one time I closed the book, I never opened it again. I didn't mean to. But I'd start another book. Then another one after that. And I'd keep shoving the book to the side until I forgot about the book that I wasn't really into. I don't review those books. There are probably reasons I can point out for not liking the book, but I think the reasons also have a lot to do with how I felt going into the book, or I just wasn't all that interested to begin with.

So those are my feelings on DNF books and negative reviews. If you have legitimate reasons for putting the book away or not liking it, then by all means, state those reasons in a classy, professional review. If you want. It's completely up to you. There are always going to be more negative reviews by other people, especially if the book is just bad. But please, do bloggers, readers, authors, and any other sort of book-lover a favor and don't sit there and bash a book/author.

What do ya'll think about negative reviews and whatnot? I won't be mad if you disagree with any of my opinions :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

 Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's books
Format: eARC
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes. (Summary from

Goodreads - Amazon - B&N - Indiebound - Book Depo

This book. Oh my, this freakin' book! I didn't realize I'd fallen out of love with reading until I fell back in love while reading Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. It is so so so spectacular! It is very rare and takes an awful lot for a contemporary novel to stun me, bu Cath Crowley crashed into my heart with one adventurous night full of deception, art, mostly unpleasant memories, and of course--romantic tension. And it all takes place in Australia, the place I am obsessed with more than anything.

The writing in this book literally made me sigh in contentment. It is told in alternating points of view from Lucy and Ed, who are both a little weird and a lot artistic. They feel in terms of colors and shapes and pictures, they see the world through this artistic lens that most people don't. Some of the metaphors and descriptions in this book are strange, and they shouldn't make sense, yet this book is written in such an honest way that you feel it all.

Ed, Lucy, and even Leo are the same way; written so honestly that you love them despite their flaws. I mean, Ed is really messed up. He can hardly read, dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, lost his job when his boss died, and he has no real plans for the future. But what's worse than all that is that he hates himself for all those reasons. He doesn't think he's good enough for anyone. He lets those negative traits define them. But what he feels is so raw that you love him. I loved him. From the very beginning. And Lucy...Well, she's a hardcore romantic. A Jane Austen-time romantic. She craves the kind of relationship where she can stay up all night with a guy and talk about art and books. She sees this graffiti on walls all over the town by some guy named Shadow, and she feels a connection to this guy's art and suspects that Shadow is the guy she's been waiting for. She looks for him all the time, desperate to meet him, but not in a super creepy stalker way. Just like before, it's so pure and true how she feels connected to his art (plus, she's weird) that you just accept her obsession with this Shadow guy.

But what's better is how she obviously feels about Ed--and vice-versa! He's given her "static" for years, but that got kind of screwed up when she broke his nose on their first date. But as the night progresses, their awkwardness dissipates and their feelings for one another grow. They talk about their lives, art...and chocolate. You can see it and feel it and you want it. You know that they belong together AND YOU JUST WANT THEM TO KISS!!! They're perfect for each other. But Ed has his secrets and he knows that in order for him to have Lucy--to really have her--he needs to tell her his secrets, but he's too afraid. The static is there and crackling loudly. I felt it from my scalp to my toe nails.

Art is a very prominent aspect in this novel. Painting, glass-blowing, poetry. It's so amazing! I'm not an artist by any means, much to my dismay. I've always wished that I could paint or draw well, so reading about all the art in this book is really interesting to me, and I adore the way Cath Crowley makes it come alive in my head. I also loved how sometimes in between Lucy and Ed's chapters, there was a Poet (Shadow's partner in crime) chapter with a single poem that said SO FREAKIN' MUCH and gives readers a very special connection to him.

This book technically takes place all in one night, but there are a lot of memories that really help you understand the characters and love them. The memories give you insight into their love of art, their personal lives, and even their feelings for each other, considering their strange history.

Obviously, I love this book more than those few paragraphs above could possibly express. This may sound like the corniest thing in the entire world, but while I was reading Graffiti Moon I seriously felt like my chest wanted to open up so my heart could capture the words and wrap around them and hold them there so I never lose them. This was the first book I stayed up all night (until 4:30 AM) reading, despite my bloodshot eyes and the fact I knew I would regret it the next day. I couldn't help it! I tried telling myself just one more chapter and I'd save the rest for the next day, but my mind just kept devouring the words. Even if you aren't particularly fond of contempCath Crowley and immersing myself into her gorgeous writing for many books to come!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cover Reveal: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

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.

I love this chick's shoes! And this book sounds really good. What do you think of the cover and the summary? Do you want to read it?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gone Reading: A Fabulous Cause

The other day I was contacted by Brad, the founder of a philanthropic mission called Gone Reading, and he alerted me of his cause. Basically, it's this program that donates 100% of after-tax profits to provide new funding for libraries around the world. To learn more and support this cause, visit the Gone Reading website and buy stuff from the shop to contribute to the cause!

Cover Gush!

So many incredible covers have been released recently, and I don't have the time to talk about each one individually. Here are the kickass covers:

My favorites: Breathe, Grasping at Eternity, Time Between Us and The Lost Girl.
Books I'm super siked: Rift and The Darkest Minds -- I love Andrea Cremer and Alexandra Bracken so frackin' much. I was delighted to see covers and titles for both of their new books.

Speaking of titles...

There has also been a bunch of new title reveals lately, too!

Personally, the one I'm most excited for is for Caster Chronicles #4 by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, which is...... BEAUTIFUL REDEMPTION. I love love love love love it.
Then, a much anticipated sequel by Michelle Hodkin has a title. Presenting, Mara Dyer number 2: THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER.

The title for the 7th and final book in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent was released: WITH ALL MY SOUL.

So what do you all think of the covers? Which ones are your favorites? And those titles!? What do you think of them? Are you waiting to read them!? Tell me your thoughts!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Format: eARC
Pages: 296
Source: Netgalley

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

I'm not going to lie, I know absolutely nothing about Robin Hood. I've never seen the movies or read the various books about him. And for that reason, I almost did not request Scarlet from Netgalley. But every time I'd scroll past it, Scarlet's face kept popping out and her ferocity and determination called to me--as did the knife she was holding. So I finally pushed the request button, and I don't regret it one tiny, itsy bitsy bit. Then, I read the first page and I put the book away for later. My internal editor was SCREECHING (I'll explain later). But I returned and I pushed through the first few pages...and I FELL IN LOVE. This is my favorite read of 2012 so far, even though I've only read ten books. I've been in a reading slump lately, and Scarlet was just what I needed: fresh, a kickass heroine, and a completely swoon-worthy romance.

So there's this girl. Not a lot of people really know she's a girl, except those that matter. Everyone else knows her as this sneaky thief who really helps the town and gives the people hope. This would actually be Scarlet, and she is ten times more hardcore than they realize. She's brave, clever, and a master knife-thrower. She's devoted to saving the townspeople by giving them food and money and other essentials. She thinks it's the only way she can atone for her "black soul" and a very dark memory of her past that she refuses to talk to anyone about. And that's all good. Everyone loves a hero. Except when things go wrong, she puts three billion pounds of blame on her shoulders. She won't eat because she thinks of all the people that don't have food and she feels guilty. She'll run away from the people that care about her. Scarlet also tends to get grumpy and defensive and she closes herself off from the people that love her and want to help her. Sometimes I wanted to be like, "JUST TELL THE DUDE!" but I could easily understand why she was so sketchy. And it was so easy to get over because she's this completely awesome character that you just love and feel for and connect with. I think that may be one reason I loved this book so much was because out of all the books I've read this year, this is the only one where I was really able to form a strong connection with the protagonist.

The second--or tied for first?--biggest reason I adored this book so much? ROB. I mean, he's Robin Hood, so I didn't think he would be such an...amazing character. But I fell for him the moment he was introduced. And then as the book went on, I sold my heart to him. He's perfect for Scarlet. He's always trying to be the hero, and even though everyone looks up to him and kisses the ground he walks on, he is entirely too hard on himself. GAH! I just love him. The way he is willing to do anything for Scarlet...except maybe admit his feelings for her at a good time.

The romance in this book is the good kind that YA does not see enough of these days. The kind that consists of more than just back and forth banter and arrogant smiles. I mean, this is the good stuff. There's real conversation between Rob and Scarlet, and a build up. I just wanted to push their heads together and be like, "KISS, DAMMIT. KISS!" like I did with Barbie and Ken when I was little. I could feel their chemistry from the beginning. And every encounter between the two of them after that was laced with all these unsaid feelings that I felt in my gut. Now, I know that this might spoil people's feelings on the romance, but there is actually a love triangle. But it's different in this book, I swear. It's not this beautiful girl charming two gorgeous guys on "accident" and have them hate each other because they are so desperate for her affection because she is so perfect and she just doesn't know who to choose. Scarlet has no qualms about telling John exactly what's up. She didn't obsess over her romance, like, "Poor me! I have to choose between 2 guys!" She had more important things to focus on. And she never really thought that she had to make a choice between John and Rob. It was more like she had to decide what she felt about John because Rob made it really obvious that she wasn't good enough for her. And even then, she told John straight up that she wasn't interested in being his play thing and that she didn't really want to be his girl, either.

The writing in this book is so fabulous. I could see and feel it all. And Scarlet's voice was so authentic. When I said that my internal editor was screeching at this book, it was because of the aforementioned authenticity. Scarlet is this tough thief who doesn't take any crap from anybody, so her grammar is not particularly flawless. She uses the word "were" in replace of "was" and she'll say things like "I was fair sure that..." So at first I was a little put off, but my mind eventually adjusted to it and every word felt real and true. The world building was smooth and incorporated seamlessly, exhibiting the horrors of the sheriff and the Thief Taker, and displaying the desperation of the townspeople.

So pretty much, if you're looking for a great read, you need to read Scarlet. You don't have to be a fan of Robin Hood to enjoy this book. There are epic fight scenes and dark secrets. Fantastic characters with surprising depth and backstories. A search for vengeance. Broken promises and the perpetual threat of death. This is just a phenomenal debut that deserves so much attention and love. I really hope there will be a sequel or a companion of sorts, because the ending really left room for that. The ending also left me with a smile on my face and Scarlet's voice ringing inside of my head. I couldn't stop reading and I didn't want to. Scarlet will fill your heart and your mind and you're not gonna want to quit reading until you're finished--or even then, I reckon ;D

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My challenges progress

I am participating in four different reading challenges this year, but I haven't been keeping very good track of my progress. Since it's a new month, I figured I should probably review and report how I'm doing so far!

The 2012 Debut Author Challenge is hosted by the one, the only, The Story Siren! So far this year, the 2012 debut books I've read are:

1) Cinder by Marissa Meyer
2) The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams
3) The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
4)? Partials by Dan Wells - I'm not sure if this counts as a debut. Dan has written other novels, but I'm pretty sure that this is his first YA book.

The 2012 Standalone Reading Challenge is hosted by Icey Books and I Like These Books. The 2012 standalone books I've read this year are:

1) The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams
2) New Girl by Paige Harbison
3) Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

The 2012 Sophomore Reading Challenge is hosted by Chick Loves Lit. So far this year, the sophomore books I've read this year are:

1) New Girl by Paige Harbison

The 2012 YA Contemporary Challenge is hosted by the fabulous Katie's Book Blog and Reading Angel! The 2012 contemporary books I've read so far this year are:

1) The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams
2) New Girl by Paige Harbison

Okay, so I'm not doing fantastic. But I guess it could be worse, lol! I have a lot of challenge books waiting for me to read, so I'm definitely going to have to pay more attention to which books apply to my challenges.

How are you doing with your 2012 reading challenges?