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Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Face Off: Folly

I find this week's Face Off fascinating, because the two covers are so completely different in tone, I'd think they were for totally different books.  The book in question if Marthe Jocelyn's Folly, which has a hardcover that is sort of ominous and off-putting (in a good way, I think); it tells you to expect a story that's a little gritty, a little uncomfortable... And then we have the paperback version, and while it still has a little bit of that eerie feeling, it also could be interpreted as a little wistful.  This is especially fascinating to me because the word folly, itself, can give such totally different impressions (foolishness leading to a downfall vs. inconsequential silliness vs. a light-hearted musical or burlesque revue vs fancy bits on a building... it's a multi-purpose word). So going on nothing but the cover and the word "folly," I think viewers describing what they think this book is about would conjure up totally different stories. Which is why I'm not going to include the synopsis this week; I want you to judge on first impressions alone. Which book intrigues you more? Which would you reach for on the shelves, to see just what kind of folly it's about? And if you have read the book, which do you think suits it more?
Which one did it better? 

Last Time on FFO: Two versions of Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now, a gorgeous (and disturbing) book, went head to head, and though there were positives and negatives for both covers, we ended up with a rare tie!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Books for our Younger Selves [Redux]

Awhile back, I hosted a Book Chat on books we wish we could give to our younger selves. Right now, Better World Books is asking that same question, so I thought we'd revisit it. Many of you will not be the least bit surprised by the book I chose...  ;)

So now that you know mine, it's your turn! Tell me in the comments which book you'd give your younger you* or strike up a conversation about it with me on twitter. Or if you're feeling adventurous and chatty, make your own vlog and share it! 

*say that 5 times, fast. ;P

Saturday, June 21, 2014

New Camera means RANDOM CHAT SESH!

So, I'm sure you guys were sick of hearing me talk about how I needed a new camera, but now you're going to have to hear me talk about how I HAVE a new camera (and have no idea how to use it), 'cause IT'S HERE!
Of course, I needed to play with it immediately, but had nothing particular to record, so a random chat sesh it is! [It's this one, for everyone who has been asking. =D ]

Let me know what types of videos you guys wanna see, and what awesome (or not so awesome) books you're reading, in the comments! =D

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A #WednesdayYA reading: Vicious by VE Schwab [1.6]

Happy Wednesday, Youtubes! Today, as part of June's #WednesdayYA book club, I'm reading the entire first chapter of June's pick: VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab!
We'll be discussing this book on Twitter next Wednesday at 8:30 EST, so if you've read it or are reading it, make sure to join us and discuss! Personally, I'm really loving it. =D

Find out more about #WednesdayYA & join the Vicious read along here.

About the book:
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
364 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Tor
A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Books... IN YO' PANTS

I thought we could probably all use something silly and fun, so I figured it was time for another round of BOOKS IN YO' PANTS!
I had some pretty damn good ones last time, so if you'd like to see those too... [click]

Tell me some of the books in YOUR pants in the comments! Or drop me a link if you do a video. =D

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Face Off: How I Live Now

Great googly moogly, it's been far too long since we last had a Face Off! What the ever-loving eff, Misty, almost a month?! Sorry, folks! Didn't mean to deprive you of your weekly chance to get all judgey. ;)
Anyway, FFO is back and featuring one of the best books to ever make me hella uncomfortable: Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now. I have some serious lurves for this book, which is strange to say, given, ya know, this book. But seriously, few stories have stuck with me quite like Daisy's. And it's high time I replace my beat up, used copy (the common US paperback edition, left) — and though I'd normally upgrade at this point to a hardcover, I may just have to go with another paperback reprint (right), which I came across a few days ago via Hank Green's instagram. I love the edition I have (I'm a sucker for florishes and silhouettes, we already know this), but there's something about the understated nostalgic-summer meets slightly-offbeat cover of the reissue that draws me in, and that feels really well-suited to the story. (Though some would argue, it's a cover that's been done. And it has. But here, it works for me.)
So which do you prefer? Which would make you curious about the story, and would make you reach for it on bookstore or library shelves? Or if you've read it, which do you feel fits? Which would you rather own?
Which one did it better? 

Last time on FFO: Two gorgeous editions of Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls went head to head, and though most of us really loved both, and some of us want to own both editions (*raises hand*), the darker tone and illustrations meant the US won this round.
Winner --------->

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci | review

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci
Get It | Add It
Science Fiction, 240 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind.

I've been meaning to share this review with you for ages; I've talked about the book a ton in various other posts and vlogs, and have had the review nearly completed for months — it just kept slipping my mind, and for that, I'm sorry, because I think this book could use the push, and I am more than happy to push it on you. While I don't think everyone will like this, with its cold-fish narrator, Tula, and her detached, inhuman way of relating her story, I think that those who connect to it will find a very unique, compelling story with surprising depth and power and memorable characters.

I've said before that I'm a sucker for those cold-fish characters. [My chronic Resting Bitch Face may give some insight into why this is. Whatever.] I don't think it's just because they're understated that these books appeal to me, but that by their very nature, these characters speak to something in me — despite being a fairly gregarious and outspoken person in most situations, personally, I can be very reticent; I gravitate towards prickly people and hopeless situations; I like a challenge.  But beyond the reasons I relate, or at least find myself drawn to, these characters, I find them necessary and psychologically true. I'm going to try really hard not to go off on some absurd philosophical tangent (once again), but the fact is, some people deal by shutting down, or shutting people out. To have those personality types represented is not only right in the sense of creating characters that those types of readers can relate to, but also makes some scenarios more believable for me, varies things up, and adds a layer to the story that I may not otherwise get (enhanced by the challenge these characters present, which is simply just pleasing to my puzzle-loving brain).

Nowhere is this better used than in Tin Star, where the main character, Tula, is literally the only human in her corner of deep space for years, with no hope of seeing another human for the rest of her life. It makes perfect sense that Tula would shut down as not only a coping mechanism, but as a means of survival. Surrounded by alien lifeforms, in a potentially hostile environment that doesn't look kindly on what it means to be human, it's fitting that she'd begin to lose some of the signifiers of 'humanity.' Ironically, it's the very human trait of mimicry, of conscious and unconscious mirroring as means of forming & cementing a place in a community (something humans do with such frequency and ease, we don't always realize we're doing it), that allows Tula to lose some of her humanity alongside the loss of human connection, and become more alien while she seeks connection elsewhere.
Think about that for a minute.
Her very humanity helps her become alien and lose her human-ness. I can't begin to tell you how much that aspect of the book pleases me, both as a reader and a ponderer.

Of course, while that may please and make the story infinitely more fascinating to me, that same trait is what may put some readers off the book. Tula becomes progressively more alien-like, and more detached and wooden (and that may be the only instance of me ever using wooden in a good way when describing a book), which intrigues me and makes me curious to see what — if anything — will ever break her out of it. BUT, there are many readers out there that want immediate connection and root-for-ableness, and may give up on Tula and Tin Star when they don't get it. People read to escape, and often they want a character to empathize with and — most of all — want something immediate and engaging and always, always, likable. Many readers may not want to work at finding what Tula has to offer, or may not find what she has to offer worth the effort. And while there's nothing wrong with wanting something that simply entertains and takes your mind off things, or makes your heart race and your stomach somersault, the lack of those bells and whistles is what makes this a love it or hate it book.

So it might make me a bit of an odd duck* that I liked this so much, but as has been shown in the past, I like distant, cold-fish characters. I like it even more so when it's so perfectly suited to the world and the disconnect from our own reality that it goes beyond being a gimmick or a trait, and actually adds a whole new dimension to the story.  Tula's personality and situation adds a sense of loneliness and isolation, which is made even more poignant by the fact that to survive, to keep sane, Tula steadfastly denies to herself that there's even anything wrong. She pretends to be fine, she makes connections only as deeply as she must to get by, but not so much as to get hurt, if she can at all avoid it, and then she gets back to the day to day business of surviving. And in this, she has a remarkable amount in common with the aliens around her. There is a great sense of Otherness that is explored in Tin Star, both for the aliens and Tula, and the ways in which each is demonstrated to be notably Other, while still maintaining some relatable commonality, is just brilliantly and subtly done. The character dynamics worked both in a human, relatable way, and in a way that was wholly foreign and fascinating. For the love of all things bookish, not only did Castellucci make me care about these aliens, but she may have even made me bookcrush on one. Hard.

...so if I haven't scared you off by this long, rambling review, let me just end by saying this gets a very high (a surprisingly high) recommendation from me. I found myself thinking about these characters long after I'd finished the book, and feeling a little bereft that it was over and I couldn't keep exploring their isolated little world and all the differences and sameness that make their dynamics work.  It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if it sounds like it may be yours, please pick it up and let me know what you think.

*See what I did there? 'Cause Odd Duck is a graphic novel by Cecil Castellucci? Yeah... ;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

MAY REWIND — mini-reviews of all of my May reads! [2014]

So...just ignore the rubber-squeaky/tapping noises that pop up throughout this vlog... I'm sitting on a yoga ball, and I have a bad habit of either wiggling (hence the squeak) and tapping it. Sorry!
That, combined with the computer noises, and UGH, SUCH A NOISY VIDEO. So ready for that new camera.
Anyway, here's what I read in May (and a weird mix it is); let me know what you think of the stack, and what some of your May standouts were.
Thanks for watching!

(0:22) Beauty Queens | Libba Bray
(2:01) My Last Kiss | Bethany Neal
(3:35) A Midsummer's Nightmare | Kody Keplinger
(4.44) The Falconer | Elizabeth May
(6:01) The Truth About Alice | Jennifer Mathieu
(8:10) At Any Price | Brenna Aubrey
(10:00) The Highlander's Touch | Karen Marie Moning
(10:42) His Billion Dollar Baby | Lea Nolan
(11:47) The Cowboy's Email Order Bride | Cora Seton

And in APRIL (because an April Rewind didn't happen...):
Please Ignore Vera Dietz | A.S. King
Kiss of the Highlander | Karen Marie Moning
and I may have read more, but frankly, I don't remember it...

Also Mentioned:
Interview with Cassidy from MLK (& giveaway)
The Diviners
Gemma Doyle series
Going Bovine
The Duff

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Best of 2014...so far | #TopTenTuesday

In just under the wire here, but I didn't want to miss this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic, which is your top 10 books so far in 2014. I've had a few hits — and quite a few misses — and sometimes it's nice just to sit and reflect on the good. So here, in no particular order, are the best of the best* of 2014!

*...of the limited amount of books I've managed to squeeze in so far this year; or at least what popped into my head for this post, and completely subject to change, dependent entirely on my fickleness and whims. 
So, to be taken with a grain of salt.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Reading from RIOT by Sarah Mussi!

I've been promising this one for awhile now, so I figured it was time I finally edit and upload it for you. Let me know what you think in the comments, and whether you intend to pick up RIOT.
Thanks for watching!

RIOT by Sarah Mussi
Dystopia, 352 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Hodder Children's
Get It | Add It
It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.

The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.

The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.

The country is aghast. Families are distraught, teenagers are in revolt, but the politicians are unshakeable: The population explosion must be curbed. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need. Less means more.

But it is all so blatantly unfair - the Teen Haves will procreate, the Teen Havenots won't.

It's time for the young to take to the streets. It's time for them to RIOT:


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Giveaway & Character Interview with Cassidy of My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal | blog tour

It's not every day you get to interview a character of a book. And it's certainly not every day that said character is, well... sorta, maybe, a little bit dead. But today — today is one of those days.
Fellow Michigander Bethany Neal has stopped by to play medium for us, so that we can ask a few questions of Cassidy Haines, leading lady of My Last Kiss. So get out your ouija boards, prepare for some table-shakin', and let's get to know a bit about Cassidy, and what life, err...things are like for her now...

And make sure to enter to win a copy of Cassidy's story at the end of this post, and stop back later for my thoughts!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Such book. Much haul. Wow.

Today I have not 1, not 2, but a BAJILLION book hauls!!
...okay, really just three hauls, condensed into 2 vlogs — but that's practically a bajillion, amirite?

Um. Anyway, I've been promising some Better World Bookage for a few weeks now, and it's time I delivered.

The Novel Cure | Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin
Sekret | Lindsay Smith
Bewitching | Alex Flinn
Juniper Berry | M.P. Kozlowsky
Princess Academy | Shannon Hale
Necromancing the Stone | Lish McBride
Witchlanders | Lena Coakley
The Thief's Covenant | Ari Marmell
False Covenant | Ari Marmell

Aaaaaaand now for part 2 of the recent BWB splurge.

Scarlet | A.C. Gaughen
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality | Elizabeth Eulberg
The Boneshaker | Kate Milford
Ten | Gretchen McNeil
Palace of Spies | Zarah Zettel
Premeditated | Josin L. McQuein
Kill Me Softly | Sarah Cross
Spell Bound | Rachel Hawkins
Let The Sky Fall | Shannon Messenger

Also Mentioned in both videos: The Buzzwords & Deal Breakers chat, and in vlog 1: the TBR tumblr & FR Street Team stuffs!

Let me know what you think of the books in the comments, and of course, thanks for watching!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June's #WednesdayYA Pick Is... [1.6]

This month, Liz and I (at the behest of Liz, who was craving a particular book) decided to do a special themed month for #WednesdayYA: adult books on the WYA shelf! Liz took the reins and pulled three books, which we both showed on Instagram, where we allowed you guys to vote on which would be read and discussed in June.

And the winner was....

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

JUNE TBR | 2014

I have a brief window of time here in humid Michigan to binge-read outside in the sunshine before the bugs descend and try to eat me alive, so I'm going to try to make the most of it and power through these books.
Wish me luck!

The Kiss of Deception | Mary E. Pearson
The Lost | Sarah Beth Durst
Riot | Sarah Mussi
Shattered | Teri Terry
The Summer Invitation | Charlotte Silver
One Man Guy | Michael Barakiva
Amy Unbounded | Rachel Hartman
WednesdayYA bookclub June pick, vote here (Potentials are: Vicious, Never Let Me Go, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon)

Have you read (or do you want to read) any of these? What are some of the highlights of your June stack?

Vote in this month's "non-traditional" Stack of Five here!


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