Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

March 25

Comments: 2

My Stack of Books Going into the Weekend, Planned Giveaways, and Currently Reading

by Ann-Katrina

Typically I’d do a recent arrivals post for each of the books, but this past week has been very good to me in the book department, so I’m just going to do up a collective post and then publish book notes/teasers as I read through each title. :D Sound good? Hooray!

The Dead-Tossed Waves Cover Last year I read, and reviewed, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Although I didn’t care too much for Mary’s character, I did enjoy the intrigue and the world created.

When I was in my local Borders wishing them a heartrending farewell (sniff, sniff) I found The Dead-Tossed Waves on sale and I couldn’t resist. The reason I even waited so long was because I knew this book probably wouldn’t tell me anything I wanted to know about the Sisterhood.

Then I got to thinking, hey, I could be wrong. Maybe it’s going to be connected somehow and it will be like a slow reveal of how the zombie apocalypse in their world came to be. So I grabbed it and it’s officially in my TBR stack.

Animorphs The Invasion CoverAnimorphs The Visitors Cover Then there are the wonderful elves as Scholastic who somehow seem to read my mind and send me books I start drooling over the moment I open up the package. Animorphs!! With lenticular covers! (Yes, I’m easily amused.) I remember reading K. A. Applegate way back in the day, so receiving these books made me smile–okay, I also did a snoopy dance, too.

Behind the Gates Cover I also received a promising dystopian urban sci-fi novel called Behind the Gates (Tomorrow Girls Book 1) by Eva Gray. When I read the back cover, I was curious, but shrugged. Then I read the actual release and thought, hey, this could be good.  And then I read the first chapter and thought, I need to move this up the TBR pile.

But let us not forget about the Simon & Schuster elves who also seem to have these amazing mind-reading powers and sent me books that made me pause and say, hmmm.

Stay Cover Deb Caletti is a brand-new-to-me author, but when I read the back cover for Stay, I knew I’d be in for an emotional ride. It may even hit a little close to home. Must start mental preparations now.

Between Here and Forever Cover The other book was Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott. This will be my third official Elizabeth Scott book.

The first one I read was The Unwritten Rule, which was fun and light and touching. It was filled with teen angst and drama and discovering oneself. Basically, I enjoyed it and it’s a great way to pass a lazy afternoon.

Then I just recently finished Living Dead Girl and…words…I don’t have any. I was not prepared at all for what laid between the virtual covers of that book (I read the ebook*). When I realized how jarring a read it was, I wanted to stop so I could set my head on straight, but I couldn’t because if I did and went to sleep, I would have nightmares. Finishing wasn’t any better. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad big, the subject matter is just…again, words fail me.)

The differences between those two books was vast, but it gave me a whole new respect for Ms. Scott. She’s an automatic must-read author for me now and having finished the first chapter of Between Here and Forever, I know to be prepared for a roller-coaster of emotions.

So, to sum up, here’s what I received this week laid out in a neat list:

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of March and I haven’t done a single giveaway yet. I must rectify that. In fact, I think I’m going to overcompensate for my lack of contests.

Warm Bodies Cover Coming up next month I’ll be holding a giveaway for Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (oh my goodness am I excited about this one–and crossing my fingers that Mr. Marion will do a guest blog) thanks to the wonderful Mellony at Simon & Schuster.

Radiance CoverI’ll also be giving away my soft cover copy of Radiance by Alyson Noel. One thing I love about this book is the deckle edge paper. Definitely a nice touch, not to mention a good read.

Abandon Cover On the list of books up for giveaway is my ARC for Abandon by Meg Cabot. I have so much to talk about with that book, but I’m holding off until the official release next month. Until then, you can check out my scant book notes on the recent arrivals post.

Finally, I’ll officially be announcing my comment rewards. What are comment rewards? Well, a while ago I mentioned an idea of rewarding those who visit my blog by selecting a random commenter whenever comment milestones are reached. The commenter can then select a book from the comment rewards bookshelf.

Any comment, past or present, is game. Commenters just need to use a valid email address when commenting (no, I will not spam you or subscribe you to any mailing list and such) and are over the age of 13 (privacy thing–in case you win). Comment rewards will be open internationally.

Beastly Cover To close up, since this post is now becoming rather unwieldy, after watching a recent preview for the movie Beastly, and seeing that it was based on a book by Alex Flinn, I trotted my happy behind over to the library website and (thank goodness a copy was available) downloaded the ebook. I’m just over halfway finished and have mixed feelings.

On one hand, I love the tweak on the classic story, but on the other I’m not loving the lack of a nod to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, or even Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, though a number of other fairytale creators (Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm) and fairytale characters receive such nods (unless, of course, the Madames’ nods are through all the discussion of French literature–but maybe there will be a more discernable one in later chapters).

Also I’m not entirely thrilled with some of the character development and prose—sometimes it feels as though she’s talking down to her audience. But I’ll save that for an actual review though.

For now, I shall leave you to enjoy your weekend. Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to read a book or two.

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October 17

Comments: 6

Book Notes: Until I Get Around to Proper Reviews

by Ann-Katrina

Hold on to your bookmarks, I’ve got a lot of book notes. I figured that since I have so many books waiting for their proper spotlight, I should give a few quick updates in the interim.

Koko Be Good by Jen Wang

Koko Be Good The artwork is heart-stopping, but the story is lukewarm. I cannot speak enough about Wang’s artistic style and eye. I even got a bit envious. However, when it came down to the writing, pacing, and clarity of the story, I winced. That’s why I’m ambivalent.

I want to tell you to run out and buy it just so you can stare at the pretty pictures, but I fear you’d hate me when you got around to reading the convoluted and mediocre story. So, for now, I’ll just say if you’re going to buy it, get it used.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely There was something about this book that dug into me and made me continue reading, but there’s something else that made me say meh when I finished. The writing was adequate (though it could have used some more editing), and so was the storyline. ‘

I think where this book failed for me was in the characterization. None of the characters truly felt genuine and I never did latch on to the plot. In ways it felt too convenient and had too many holes. Still, it wasn’t the worst book I’d ever read, plus it was quick. I’d recommend this when you’re bored and just want something quick and fluffy with a slightly dark edge.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay

I did it. I finally drank the Kool-Aid. I don’t even know where to begin with this series. I saw the first book while I was walking through a department store, it was $6 and I’d been hearing so many people talking about it that I just plopped it down in my cart. And for about a week it sat unread and unloved on my bookshelf. Then, out of the blue, I saw it and grabbed it and devoured it.

I was near tears because I was coming up on the last few pages and didn’t have the second book. But I couldn’t stop myself, I had to finish and when I did, I was numb. It was three whole days before I was able to pick up another book to read. Eventually I read all three of the books with the same zeal (the third book less so mostly because I was afraid of what was coming).

This series is raw, bleak, and unforgiving. Collins held no punches and I think that’s why I was so enamoured. I laughed, I cried, I balked right along with Katniss. I felt all of her emotions so vividly. The books sucked me right in.

The third book, I will admit, took some prodding since I was reluctant to read more than two chapters at a time. Everything in it was so bleak. I just didn’t understand how anyone was to recover. Then it picked up toward the middle and I simply couldn’t put it down. I’m going to have a hard time putting into words everything these books have done to me. I can’t wait for the movies to come out and I hope they don’t frack it up.

Radiance by Alyson Noel

Radiance This is my first book by Alyson Noel and only grabbed it on a whim. The cover looked interesting, the synopsis grabbed me (to be honest, because it sounded similar to a short story I’d written), and I pegged it for a light read. Ultimately I made a good decision. The book was a quick, light read although it dealt with some heavy subjects (death and coping).

It was also interesting to learn that it was a spinoff of the Evermore series I’ve been hearing about, but never felt compelled to read. Even after reading Radiance I still don’t feel compelled to read it, but probably will eventually.

The writing was well done, spare and evocative; the protagonist was spunky and felt natural; and the storyline held my interest, but I didn’t care much for the heavy new-age spin. Overall though I have few complaints about this book.

The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle

The House of Dead Maids Perfect book for the Halloween season. It’s a prequel to Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, but you needn’t have read it to enjoy The House of Dead Maids. This book stands well on its on and is truly a chilling gothic ghost story—well-written, and strange.

It’s a rare thing when a contemporary horror novel, especially written for children, can get me to think twice about the sounds I hear outside my window, but this book did exactly that. Worth every penny.

The Amulet Books 1-3 by Kazu Kibuishi

The StonekeeperThe Stonekeeper's CurseThe Cloud Searchers

I have a new favorite graphic novel series. Or, at least it’s in the Top 5. The illustrations are amazing, as is the coloring, as is the story. OK, I’ll admit the story is a bit reminiscent of some other hero tales of the past, but the other areas of the graphic novel series makes up for that. Plus the characters are quirky and entertaining. Plus, the editing and pacing are worthy of note.

With as many graphic novels as I’ve seen published with shoddy writing and inconsistent stories and art, it’s clear that Kibuishi takes his time and carefully crafts his graphic novels before sending it off to the masses. I cross my fingers and hope that it doesn’t change with future issues.

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Mrs. Kimble This is the product of a commenter’s recommendation. And I’m glad I listened. This book held my interest from the beginning to the very end.

It starts on a strange note, with a mysterious man dying in his car while waiting for a drawbridge to lower, and then travels back through time and shows us who this man is and how he affected the lives of three (actually more) different women.

This book is a tapestry. All of the lives, though separate, are connected. Though there were some editing faux pas, noticeable writing quirks, and few areas where the thread was dropped, it was still an expertly woven story.

This is a book for people who enjoy gawping at the lives and inner workings of others rather than plot-driven tales. It’s languid in its telling and will leave you with much to ponder afterward.

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