Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop

Friday, September 23, 2011 with 5 comments
From the American Library Association's website:  "I Read Banned BooksBanned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society."

 --- GIVEAWAY ---

The Perks of Being a WallflowerI am appalled at some of the books that make this list each year.  I understand that every book is not for every reader, but the decision to read or not read a book should be up to the individual, or at the very least, the parents of impressionable children.  Whenever I think about banned books, I'm always reminded of that scene in Donnie Darko, at the PTA meeting, when that hag of a teacher, Kitty Farmer, tries to get Graham Greene's The Destructors banned from the curriculum.  This same woman believed that Graham Greene was the actor who played "Pa" on Bonanza.  (That was Lorne Greene, in case you weren't aware.)  Idiocy like that is why no one else should be able to dictate what me or anyone else is allowed to read.

I looked over the list of most frequently challenged books for the last decade or so, and I saw that The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was often on the list each year.  The reasons why this novel was challenged so often per the ALA's website are as follows:  anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group.  Not only is this a frequently-challenged book, but it's also on its way to the big-screen, with some big names attached to it.  I was intrigued, so I decided to read it myself and pick up an extra copy for this giveaway.  You can find my review here.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  And I hope you'll celebrate the freedom to read by visiting the rest of the stops in this giveaway hop!



TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.




This Friday's Question:

Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year? How has your progression been? 


I'm relatively new to this whole logging-what-you're-reading thing.  I only joined Goodreads at the end of last year, and I only started this blog in May of this year.  But I did commit to two challenges.

On Goodreads, I challenged myself to read 100 books this year. I started out with a goal of 25, but I quickly realized that this was probably the amount I could read in a single quarter, so I quadrupled my target sometime in March or April. And as you can see, I am only four books shy of my objective, and it is only the end of September. Of course, this is due in part to my discovery of audiobooks. Best. Invention. Ever. Seriously, I get to read while I'm working!

That was pretty much my only challenge for the year, until I stumbled upon the Fall Challenge 2011 in one of my groups on GR. It encompasses all types of books, so I'm really hoping to knock out some of my TBR with it. Here's a sampling of the books required to complete the challenge:

1. Back to School - Read a book that is set in a school, such as boarding school or college. The majority of the novel must be set AT school.
2. Autumn Colors - Read a book with a cover that is predominately red, orange, yellow, or brown.
3. Male Protagonist - Read a book written from a male POV.

This challenge, created for the YA Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club by Jenny of The Mimosa Stimulus, is turning out to be really fun.  I'm reading books that I've had on my TBR for awhile but probably wouldn't have read for a very long time if it weren't for this challenge.  So far, I've completed three of the nine objectives for this challenge, and I just started a fourth last night.  So, it's going pretty well.

Next year, I plan to participate in several more challenges.  I was easing myself into them this year, but I'm going to be much more enthusiastic with them next year.  :D

How are you managing your challenges?  Have you already completed any?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Perks of Being a WallflowerTitle:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author:  Stephen Chbosky
Series:  n/a
Publisher:  MTV Books and Pocket Books
Publication Date:  February 1, 1999
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.
Review:

Wow. I must have exclaimed, “Oh, Charlie!” at least twenty times through the course of this novel. I’m not usually a big fan of contemporary novels, young adult or otherwise, but I really connected with this book. Maybe it’s because I was a bit of a wallflower myself when I was younger. Maybe because I’ve always been a reader, much like Charlie. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this novel, and it’s made me rather thoughtful and reflective these last few days.

Charlie’s tale is poignant and intense at times, but it also has moments of light-heartedness and frivolity. It was a much more realistic portrayal of the average teenager’s life than a lot of other stories out there. This was a story based on truth and brutal honesty, and yet it was surprisingly easy for me to read.

The characters in this narrative are not the one-dimensional characters that you typically find in a contemporary novel. They have real problems and real hopes, and they’re all doing what they have to survive high school. Charlie is na├»ve and likeable and immediately easy to sympathize with. He candidly expresses the happenings in his life to some unknown individual in the form of letters, and he makes it seem as if this is the most normal thing in the world. He’s peculiar and he’s aware of it, but he makes the best of the hand life has dealt him.

I love that although I knew where the story was going, it wasn’t predictable in how it achieved its end. And what an ending. Wow. Did not anticipate that. The story itself was good, but it was made that much better by that ending. It made it all so much more real. And harder to digest.

And with that, I’ll leave you to wonder and hopefully consider reading this book. If you’re not interested enough just yet, maybe a free copy would help? I’ll be giving away a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower as part of the Banned Books Week hop, which runs from 9/24 to 10/1. So check back on Saturday to enter!




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eona: The Last DragoneyeTitle:  Eona, The Last Dragoneye
Author:  Alison Goodman
Series:  Eon
Publisher:  Brilliance Audio
Publication Date:  April 19, 2011
Links:  Audible | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the self-styled “Emperor” Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power—and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans...

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.
Review:

The first Dragoneye novel ended with a whirlwind intensity and brought about so much change in the kingdom, one has to wonder how they’ll ever recover. The second book, and the conclusion to the series, explains just how that is to come about. Where EON built the story and world of the Dragoneyes, EONA serves to completely tear that world apart…and hopefully build something new and better with the pieces.

This story was so full of action and adventure; it was hard to make myself turn the audiobook off when it was necessary…like at bedtime. I was so invested in the book – which at 637 pages made the audio a whopping 18 hours and 41 minutes long (WORTH EVERY SECOND) – and, though the title gives you some idea of how this whole thing is going to go down, I never found the story predictable. In fact, I think EONA is even better than EON, which is saying a lot because I really liked EON.

One of the things that struck me about EON was the lack of a love interest for Eona. But I could understand the absence of one, considering the chaos already surrounding Eona. So, consider me pleasantly surprised to find Eona has not one but two potential love interests in the second book. Normally, I’m not a fan of the love triangle because it’s never done realistically and because it’s overdone. But I ate up the romance in Eona. Hungrily. Greedily. Especially one particular scene that heated up rather unexpectedly. Because the emotions are realistic and the reactions are human.

A great writer can take any scenario and make it work…make it real. Alison Goodman has taken this story and made it hers. She made every situation thrilling, and I was left breathless for the majority of the book.

Nancy Wu, the narrator, has yet again done a beautiful job of bringing this novel to life. Her portrayal of each character was awe-inspiring; so much power and emotion obviously went into her narration. I hope I have the opportunity to hear her narrate more novels in the future.
Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1)Title:  Eon, Dragoneye Reborn
Author:  Alison Goodman
Series:  Eon
Publisher:  Brilliance Audio
Publication Date:  December 28, 2008
Links:  AudibleGoodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye – an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured. When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne.

Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life.
Review:

I had been told that Eon was a great fantasy novel, but that it was mostly history and back-story for the first half of the book and didn’t get really good until the second half. If you don’t like a rich history and spectacular world-building, then this is probably true for you. I’m not reading YA novels for an intense history lesson, and I don’t know if it is the result of the fabulous narrator (Nancy Wu), but I didn’t find the first half (or any other part, for that matter) at all tedious or unnecessary to the story. Quite the opposite, actually. Miss Wu’s performance was captivating.

That’s not to say that the book itself can’t stand on its own. This story is ripe with adventure, betrayal, and magic. Once the action starts, so much happens in such a small span of time. I was often parched while listening to this book, as my mouth was constantly hanging open in a state of awe. Eon is intense and clever and everything I want in a high-fantasy novel.

If the story itself won’t keep you entertained, the characters sure will. What a motley crew Eona has surrounded herself with. Eona is far from simple, but her allies in this exploit all lead some rather interesting lives, as well.

The descriptive elements in this novel are beyond reproach. Not only are you able to perfectly envision each character’s physical appearance, but also the emotions they wear on their faces and the secrets in their hearts. The depiction of the dragons and their movements and gestures are unequivocally realistic; if there was a dragon in the room with me right now, I bet he’d react and emote in just the way the author describes.

Eon is brilliantly written and beautifully told. This novel was such a fantastic adventure and Eona is a truly unique heroine. If you enjoy a kick-a$$ girl-on-a-mission story, this book is right up your alley.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In My Mailbox #10

Monday, September 19, 2011 with 4 comments

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a weekly meme where we all get to brag about the books and swag we got in the mail, for review, won in contests, etc.




The giveaway gods have smiled upon me this week.  So did the audiobook deities.  Here are this week's spoils...

For Review:

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs, ARC couresty of Good Choice Reading
Legend by Marie Lu, ARC provided by the ladies at Good Choice Reading for ARC tour
Crave by Melissa Darnell, provided by Netgalley
Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle, ebook provided by author

Sweet VenomLegend (Legend, #1)CraveBrightest Kind of Darkness (Brightest Kind of Darkness series book 1)


Audiobooks:

Well, Audible did it again. They have a great sale that runs through tomorrow, and I stocked up!


Beastly by Alex Flinn
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville #1) by Carrie Vaughn
Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen
Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1) by Nalini Singh
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

BeastlyHowl's Moving Castle (Castle, #1)Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville, #1)
Married with Zombies (Living with the Dead, #1)Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter, #1)Outlander (Outlander, #1)


Won:

From Macmillan Publishing:
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
Death Sentence - Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

Hades (Halo, #2)Death Sentence (Escape From Furnace, #3)The Fox Inheritance


From Cari at Cari's Book Blog:
After Obsession by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel
Frost by Marianna Baer
The Shattering by Karen Healey
Dark Parties by Sara Grant
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Between by Jessica Warman
Vanished by Sheela Chari
The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

photo courtesy of Cari

Did the giveaway gods visit you this week?  Get anything good?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Audiobook Review: Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Sunday, September 18, 2011 with 1 comment
Enclave (Razorland, #1)Title:  Enclave
Author:  Ann Aguirre
Series:  Razorland
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date:  April 12, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE

In Deuce's world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed 'brat' has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. As a Huntress, her purpose is clear--to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning. Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn't like following orders. At first she thinks he's crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don't always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she's never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. As Deuce's perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy... but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she's ever known.
Review:

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of dystopia/post-apocalyptic novels. I don’t love every one I read, but I do enjoy them all, for the most part. Enclave was no different. It falls in the middle of the spectrum for me. As such:  like-->really like-->love…, i.e. 3, 4 or 5 stars – I don’t think it’s possible for me to rate a dystopian novel less than three stars. Maybe I should have a separate key for this genre. I’m rambling now. I can’t help it. I love, Love, *LOVE* futuristic, science-fictiony, thriller-esque novels. Look at me…I’ve created my own vocabulary because of my devotion to this genre.
 
I digress.

If someone had told me that there was a possibility of zombies in this novel, I would have read it much sooner. As it stands, I downloaded the audiobook from Audible and listened to it while performing the most mundane tasks at work. Audiobooks are awesome for making a dull girl’s life a little less dull. The audio for Enclave was great. The narrator (Emily Bauer) wasn't too boisterous but neither was she timid in her delivery. At first, I thought she sounded a little young and maybe a bit chipper, considering the type of story this is, but her narration really grew on me as the story unfolded.

The novel was plainly awesome. However, it was never out right touted as a zombie novel, and it is never expressly stated that the unnatural monsters roaming the remnants of a doomed Earth are zombies. But, after a few chapters, it’s pretty obvious that this is yet another Earth ravaged by a debilitating disease that somehow allows the dead to continue to walk the planet, feasting on the flesh of humans. Gross, yeah?

But the story focuses on those that fled this disease, the ones that live underground, and have created their own little world, below the plague-ridden surface. There’s the strong heroine, the huntress. And, of course, her strong male-counterpart, who challenges her every move. They are partners in the hunt, to provide for their Enclave and to protect it. And this works for them. Until they are forced to question the actions and motives of the elders in the Enclave.

I like the story. I like not being explicitly told what led to this devastation, these horrible circumstances. I like not having the whole plot spelled out for me. It’s hard not to note the similarities between dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels, but there’s something about this one. Normally, I just passively dismiss how the post-apocalyptic setting came about. But with this novel, I want to see the prequel…the events that led up to the separation, the ones who fled underground and those that stuck it out on the surface.

I’m intrigued by Fade and fascinated by Deuce. I want to know more of their story. They’ve got a lot of discovery left in their futures, and I can’t wait to read more about it. I’ve never read anything by Ann Aguirre before, but I’m definitely a fan now.

If this trailer doesn't make you want to read it, I don't know what will...



Friday, September 16, 2011

TGIF #9

Friday, September 16, 2011 with 8 comments


TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads!  In this weekly feature, Ginger poses a question to her followers and then asks everyone to link up at the end of the post, sharing their responses.




This Friday's Question:

Book Disappointments: Have you ever come across a book you were so stoked to read, but it failed miserably in your eyes? 


Yeah, it doesn't happen often, but it does happen.  There's this book that's got this absolutely stunning cover or this insanely brilliant premise, and I just have to get my hands on it...usually on the day it releases -- or before if possible.  Like I said, it doesn't happen often, but I can think of three off the top of my head.


Halo (Halo, #1)#1 - Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Another angel story...I know, that should have been warning enough.  Maybe, but if I'd stopped with Halo, I never would have read Angel by L.A. Weatherly or the even more awesome Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.  And let's face it...I'll always be a sucker for a pretty cover.  And I'm not one to leave a series unfinished.  Usually, anyway.  So, if you're wondering if I'll pick up Hades, the sequel to Halo, the answer is yes.  Not just because of the pretty cover.  But also out of curiosity to see if Alexandra has honed her skill any.  I'm hopeful...


In the Arms of Stone Angels #2 - In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

This was one of the first books I ever won, so it already had that going for it.  There was also the promise of a murder-mystery and love gone wrong.  Yet, I still had the impulse to throw this book across the room...several times.  It felt like it was written for a very immature twelve-year-old.  I understand that YA novels should appeal to the younger crowd, but don't write as if teens are on a completely different intellectual level.  Give them some credit...they're smart, too.



Tris & Izzie #3 - Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

And now we've come to my most recent disappointment.  I've been duped by yet another pretty face.  That cover is amazing, but the retelling...not so much.  I wanted so badly to love this book.  But after reading other reviews, I was plagued with doubt.  Yet, I pressed on and promised to give this book a chance anyway.  It had its moments, I suppose, but it was not the book I had hoped it would be.




Any books you've been disappointed in lately?  Did others have the same reaction?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox #9

Sunday, September 11, 2011 with 1 comment

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a weekly meme where we all get to brag about the books and swag we got in the mail, for review, won in contests, etc.




I got some great books this week, people.  But I started a Fall Challenge -- my first ever -- and so as part of this challenge, I'm trying to use books I already own to complete it.  I've already picked my books for the challenge, which spans the months of September through November and requires nine books, and I only had to purchase two books.  I would say I'm proud of myself, but I also bought books that weren't on my list.  Oy.

Okay on to the spoils:

For review:

The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


The Mephisto Covenant (The Mephisto Covenant, #1)Every Other Day


Purchased:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore/James Frey, et al.


The Perks of Being a WallflowerAshes Hades (Halo, #2)The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies #2)


Audiobooks:

Eon, Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Eona, The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman


Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1)Eona: The Last Dragoneye


Swag:

Dog tag for pre-ordering Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Signed bookmarks for Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey




What did you get in your mailbox this week?

P.S. I'll be reading, reviewing and giving away a copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower for Banned Books week, so check back for that.

Photobucket 


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