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Filling the Shelf – 57

Posted by on April 16, 2012 12:00 pm in Book talk | 8 comments

Filling the Shelf is basically Mailbox Monday (this month hosted by Cindy’s Love of Books) or In my Mailbox (created by The Story Siren ), but with a title that suits my blog :D If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, I invite you to visit those two awesome features!

Happy Monday all!

This week is the Face Closeup edition! It’s like that time where all my new books had flowers on them. It’s kind of funny, and mostly accidental, I assure you!

So here are my new books :

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong : I really enjoyed the first of that trilogy and I’m looking forward to reading this one, even though the reviews aren’t so stellar so far.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa : I’m reading this one right now, and loving it so far! I’m almost done with it, so review should be coming soon.

The Taker by Alma Katsu : The only non YA title of the week has an intriguing premise of immortality and love. I’m a bit sad though that the paperback has such a different cover from the hardback one.

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman : A mystery, centuries-old manuscripts, secret societies… sounds great!

Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis : “Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are”; sounds like the beginning of an intriguing adventure!

Chime by Franny Billingsley : It’s been strongly recommended to me (mainly by Nafiza!) ; magic, romance and all that jazz. Looking forward to it!

What did you add to your shelves recently? Have you read one of these two books?

Review : The Summer of Skinny Dipping

Posted by on April 15, 2012 6:02 am in 3.5 stars reads | 6 comments

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
Pages : 295
Genre : YA, Fiction
Stand Alone
My Rating : 

What it’s about :

Mia couldn’t be more excited to be spending her summer in the Hamptons with her family; she loves the beach and the sea, and she has always been close to her cousin Corinne. She envisions a summer of fun, secrets and laughs… until she gets there and realize her cousin has changed since the last time she saw her. Stuck with Corinne, her sister and her friend, whose snobby attitude makes her more self-conscious than ever, Mia tries to accept that her summer won’t be as she had hoped.

Then she meets Simon, their summer neighbor. Though she’s at first unsure of him, their walks under the moon allow her to trust him, and their friendship quickly turns into something more…

My Thoughts :

It’s been said by many readers that The Summer of Skinny Dipping is no fluffy read. I can now confirm this; despite its summery cover and premise, this book isn’t one I would qualify as a fun beach read – nor is it really a romance, despite “falling in love” being a very important part of it. It will definitely bring summer to you; I could feel the sand and smell the sea through the pages and it did make me wish I was there. However, there is a lot more depth to Mia’s coming-of-age story, and while the book can easily be read in a day, it’s definitely not one to get you up when you feel down.

As the main character, Mia was an interesting one and one that I could relate to – not as I am in the present, but as I was when I was her age. My first thought was that she was naive, but I really prefer the word innocent to describe her. She is at that point in her life where her perception of the world is facing reality, and the last threads of her innocence are slowly broken. Through the events of that summer, she learns that things are not always as they seem, and that the people she envy might not be as perfect as they look.

Though her outlook on life still has this innocence, Mia is also an over-thinker. She questions everything and imagines the different outcomes, and that’s why I can’t consider her naive. She definitely perceives that something is going on with her family, but she never knows what until she is told. When you read a novel that is narrated by the main character, you are asked to believe their version of the story; in this case, it was interesting when Mia realized that she didn’t know her family that well, because the stories she had fabricated about them – and narrated repetitively as truths – do not match the reality.

The narration felt very intimate and quiet, giving the book a very slow pace. Until the end, the story had very few surprising turns. Mia’s romance with Simon develops at a nice pace (no insta-love!) and I could appreciate that they were friends first. I was surprised by how well Simon’s character was described from Mia’s point of view. I felt the author had a very clear view of him and allowed him to be an individual, rather than just a pretext for romance.

I guessed the ending very early in the book, and I’m still not sure whether it’s a good thing or not. Predictability can be either, really; if we compare to movies, you can enjoy thrillers that are surprising and twisted, but prefer romantic comedies to end with the predictable happily ever after. In this case, I don’t know; I think the ending would have hit me more strongly if I hadn’t seen it coming, but knowing it created a tension that was almost unbearable.

The Summer of Skinny Dipping surprised me in a positive way. While I wish the pacing would have hold my attention a little better, its story is powerful and its narration is full of heart. I also think it offers interesting possibilities for discussions about self-worth, happiness and identity.

On My Wishlist – 39

Posted by on April 14, 2012 8:00 am in Book talk | 3 comments

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Cosy Books and runs every Saturday. It’s where we list all the books we desperately want but haven’t actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. Click on the link to Book Chick City, sign the Mr. Linky and join the fun!

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Two futuristic books – it’s really the trend this year, whether it’s in a dystopian or post-apocalyptic setting, or sometimes something else entirely. Both will be coming in October (I already sense that month is going to empty my pockets) and I am just completely in love with Beta’s cover!

Beta by Rachel Cohn

On Goodreads :

In a world constructed to absolute perfection, imperfection is difficult to understand—and impossible to hide.  Elysia is a clone, created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen year old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of teenaged clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to be created.

Elysia’s purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air there induces a strange, euphoric high that only the island’s workers—soulless clones like Elysia—are immune to.

At first, Elysia’s new life on this island paradise is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne’s human residents, the most privileged people in the world who should want for nothing, yearn. And, she comes to realize that beneath its flawless exterior, there is an undercurrent of discontent amongst Demesne’s worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care—so why are overpowering sensations clouding Elysia’s mind?  If anyone discovers that Elysia isn’t the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine.

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Breathe by Sarah Crossan

On Goodreads :

The world is dead.

The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

ALINA has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.
QUINN should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
BEA wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

What is at the top of your wishlist right now?

Review : Uglies – Shay’s Story

Posted by on April 12, 2012 6:18 am in 4 stars reads | 4 comments

Uglies : Shay’s Story by Scott Westerfeld, Devin Grayson and Steven Cummings
Pages : 180
Genre : Graphic Novel, Science-Fiction
Series : Uglies (graphic novel), Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Shay is an Ugly, and like all Uglies, when she turns sixteen, she’ll be transformed into a beautiful, perfect Pretty. She’ll get new looks and move to the most interesting part of the town with all the other Pretties.

But then Shay meets the Crims, a group of teenagers who play tricks and like to explore outside the city limits. There Shay discovers a whole universe, and she starts to question whether she wants to become a Pretty at all.

My Thoughts :

I read the Uglies series a few years ago and absolutely loved it. With the Hunger Games, it’s one of my favorite YA series and one against which I measure all the new dystopian YA series. So of course I wouldn’t pass on a illustrated version of the series, and when I saw it at the store last week, I immediately grabbed it. I am so glad that I can say that I really enjoyed it.

First, I really liked the illustrations. I don’t read that many mangas and graphic novels, but when I do I love the style to be clean and clear. The characters really came alive and I loved how the scenes on the boards felt full of action. I could sense the movement and the danger, and it was exciting to see that what I had imagined from my reading of the story mostly matched what I saw in these illustrations.

The story itself was fun, though very predictable if you have read the books. There seem to be two trends right now for book series; new short stories to keep readers interested in between books’ publication, and direct adaptations of the books into graphic novels/mangas. Interestingly, Shay’s Story is a little of both; the story is almost the same as the one in Uglies, but from another character’s point of view. This mix of familiar and new worked really well for me, helping me remember the series while giving me the chance to discover Shay.

I have always loved Shay as a character. In the books, I always found her a bit mysterious. It was often difficult to understand her true motivations, desires and goals. While her complexity wasn’t as obvious here, I liked that we got to see how it all started for her. Seeing Tally, David and Zane was also really nice. I found it interesting how, seeing the story from another point of view, it was Tally now who became a little mysterious, intriguing.

This visual adaptation of Uglies does have a flaw, and in my opinion it’s a big one. While I loved the illustrator’s style, I felt there wasn’t enough difference in appearance between the Uglies, Pretties and Specials. I do remember that the Uglies are not necessarily ugly but normal, ordinary. For the purpose of a graphic novel though, I feel the contrast should have been bigger. It seemed that all the Pretties had different was a better hairstylist and a touch of makeup, and the Specials didn’t look that special either. This was a tiny bit disappointing.

Still I really appreciated reading it, and it made me want to reread the complete series. I am really happy to know there will be two more volumes following Shay’s Story, and I can’t wait to put my hands on them!