Ya Asylum

Sunday, April 20th 2014

Book Talk: Bookish Pet Peeves

BookTalk1

Let me just put this out there: I love to read. It’s my absolute favourite thing to do, hands down. I think we can all agree that reading and books are pretty darn awesome… but there are some readerly things that annoy me to no end and pretty much make me want to throw the book across the room if I ever encounter it. :P (Disclaimer: this post may or may not just be a very large rant. You have been warned.)

Insta-love. I’m going to be Miss Unpopular Opinion here and say that I really, really didn’t like The Fifth Wave, mostly because two of the main characters fell in love pretty much at first sight. (Plus, they were enemies. And this was in a world where basically anybody could have been – and was – the enemy.) I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love romance as much as the next girl – but I want character development! I want a slow build! I want to squeal and dance around the room when they finally kiss! I don’t want hey-you’re-the-only-other-person-who-exists-on-this-planet-and-you’re-somewhat-attractive-let’s-make-out!

Movies. Okay, so maybe that’s just a little too vague. ;) I don’t hate all movies based on books – in fact, quite a few of them are amazing (*cough* LORD OF THE RINGS *cough*) – but it irks me when casting choices are all wrong, or the screenwriters take out my favourite quotes, or the special effects suck. When I’m reading, I basically get to build the world and the characters and everything in my head, the way want it to be. But if movies come along and they’re totally different from what I had envisioned, it kind of ruins the reading experience – I’m picturing the details in the movie instead of those in the story that I had created within the book.

New covers in the middle of a series. This could be the perfectionist in me talking, but I absolutely hate it when there are two lovely covers in a trilogy, and then bam, the third book suddenly switches to a totally different cover design. (I’m using a trilogy for this example, but it’s really series in general!) I mean, if you’re going to do a series, at least tie it all together somehow! A prime example of this: the Across the Universe series. The first two books - Across the Universe and A Million Suns - had beautiful covers. The third, Shades of Earth, just completely turned it around – the design totally clashes with the first two books.

Editing/formatting errors. I’ll admit, I mostly find this in indie books – there’s an amazing plotline and loveable characters. The author’s voice is quirky and unique, you’re really getting into it, and everything’s wonderful and chipper… and then you start noticing the typos. To instead of too. Ehr instead of her. Misplaced modifiers. Dangling participles. There is nothing that will turn me off a book more than noticing typos, editing mistakes or – worse still! – formatting errors in eBooks. I mean, you can be the next John Green for all I care. If your book’s editing or formatting sucks, 10 to 1 I’m going to put it down in search of a new one.

What’s your most annoying bookish pet peeve?

topaz

posted by kim
Posted in: Book Talk
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Friday, April 18th 2014

Dearest Clementine: Released!

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Title: Dearest Clementine (Dearest, #1)

Author: Lex Martin

Release Date: April 18, 2014

Genre: NA contemporary romance

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Synopsis

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn’t mind being called bitchy and closed off. It’s safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out…in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

DEAREST CLEMENTINE is a stand-alone novel with two companion novels. This New Adult contemporary romance series is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content. Look for the second book, DEAREST DANDELION, this June.

 

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About the Author

Lex_small

Lex Martin writes new adult novels, the sexy kind with lotsa angst, a whole lotta kissing, and the hot happily ever afters. When she’s not writing, she lives a parallel life as an English teacher. She loves printing black and white photos, listening to music on vinyl, and getting lost in a great book. Bitten by wanderlust, this native Texan has lived all over the country but currently resides in the City of Angels with her husband and twin daughters.

Stalking Encouraged!

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Sunday, April 13th 2014

eBooks vs. Physical Books: A Complicated War

There are two types of people in the world: those who read eBooks, and those who read physical books.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that black-and-white (ah, if only). But this, I believe, is an ongoing battle between readers: whether eBooks are really overtaking the bookish world, or whether physical books are here to stay. Some swear by their Kindles and Nooks. Others would die before even thinking about picking one up. And then, of course, there’s the varying shades of people who kinda-sorta lean one way or the other, but really don’t mind either one.

It’s a complicated war. :P

Personally, I’ll shamelessly say that I love, love, love eBooks. Mostly, I love the durability of them – how I can slip my tablet into my bag, open the Kindle app, and there’s hundreds of books (plus, tens of thousands more at the click of a button!). eBooks are basically my number one travel companions – they take up way less space than physical books, so it’s just easier to lug them on planes and such. 

BUT! Although I wouldn’t part with my Kindle library for the world, I must admit that my first love has always been, and likely will always be, physical books. One time, about a year ago, I decided to go cold turkey on the physical books and solely buy and read eBooks. I sold and gave away all my physical books to friends and teachers – and a week later, I couldn’t stand it anymore and bought them all back.

So I’ve learned my lesson – eBooks are wonderful, but physical books hold a special place in my heart. I pretty much love everything about them: the way they look on my bookshelves. The satisfying feeling of turning the page (and paper cuts be damned!). The way they smell – yeah, I’m one of those weird people in bookstores who inhale the scent of books. So sue me. ;) With physical books, there’s a certain charm that I’ll never find in any eReader. If eBooks represent durability and convenience, then physical books represent timelessness, a sense of eternity locked within paper pages. I’m the kind of person who loves nothing more than curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and a book on a rainy day – but if that book was replaced with my tablet, it would feel all wrong. 

Another thing: physical books bear the marks of love. When I first buy a book, it’s a clean slate. But when I read and re-read, like I do with my absolute favourites, I can actually see where I spilled coffee on the edge of the page and had to make a frantic paper towel run in order to save it from total demise. I can see the dog-eared page with my absolute favourite quote. I can see where my puppy nibbled on the corner a little bit when I thought he was asleep (yeah, that’s a true story – he can be sly when he wants to be!). Every read of a physical book is like a walk down memory lane, and every copy is just slightly different. With eBooks, they’re all the same. There’s no way to distinguish, to point to one copy and say: “that’s my book”.

eBooks are great, and I’ll never begrudge those who prefer them over physical books. But I suppose it’s the personal touch that comes with physical books that make them my favourite by far – and besides, I’ve always been a bit of a hopeless romantic. ;)

eBooks or physical books? What’s your preferred reading style?

topaz

posted by kim
Posted in: Opinion Piece
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Friday, April 4th 2014

How do you choose your books?

Okay guys, it’s time for honesty hour. Come on, tell the truth: am I the only one who’s drowning in my TBR list?

Seriously, I have so many books I want to read it’s not even funny. (Actually, at this point it’s slightly terrifying.) It’s not only my TBR list on Goodreads – I have books-to-read scrawled in almost every single one of my numerous journals, on the back of my hand, in the “Notes” app on my Galaxy, on random post-it notes stuck on the bathroom mirror / the closet door / the edges of the computer screen / the dog’s back.

If I’m resorting to sticking post-it notes on the dog, I think there’s a problem… ;)

So I had an interesting conversation with Emily today about how we choose our books. As you may or may not be able to tell, I’m not really that picky when it comes to choosing the ones I read. (Maybe just a little too un-picky, now that I’m thinking about it…) For me, I’m mostly a blurb girl. If I love, love, love the blurb of a book, I’m generally going to pick it up and leaf through it.

Plus, the other thing: COVERS. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, blah blah, but come on. If I see a book with a mindblowingly beautiful cover that just leaves me walking around in a daze for the next hour, of course I’m going to buy it. Also, I’m really into design and aesthetics, so that’s another reason I do tend to gravitate towards books whose covers are flawless. I’m not very proud to say that if I see a book with a drab, dull, ugh-what-was-that-author-even-thinking kind of cover, I probably won’t even give it a second glance. I’m sort of prejudiced that way. :P

Needless to say, if I see a book by an author I love, I’m going to buy it without hesitation – especially if it’s one in a series I’ve been watching and desperately waiting for. ;) And of course I get tons of book recommendations, so basically whenever I do, I always have to check those books out. Which generally results in more and more additions to my TBR list. Which means – oh God – MORE BOOKS. (WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE.)

Do you judge a book by its cover? How do you pick your books?

topaz2

posted by kim
Posted in: Book Talk
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Monday, March 31st 2014

Daniel the Draw-er: Amazing MG Debut

Daniel the Draw-erDaniel the Draw-er by S. J. Henderson
Genres: Middle Grade
Published by Indie on March 27th 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
"This is no ordinary pencil,” says the cat sitting on the end of nine-year-old Daniel’s bed. "It's magic."

Everything Daniel draws with his pencil--flying dragons, Octobears, and pizza-loving aliens from the planet Beezo--comes to life. It’s pretty awesome until the pencil draws a line between Daniel and his best (and only) friend Annie.

Come along with Daniel and his fantastic creatures on this fun-for-the-whole-family journey as he discovers that friendship is the greatest magic of all.
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Daniel the Drawer is S.J. Henderson‘s debut MG. There are so many things to love about this novella. Let me sum it up in list format:

  1. It’s a quick read. Not just because it’s a novella, but because of the non-stop action. At no point does the pace lag or the plot slow down. Daniel is on one adventure after another.
  2. The voice is amazing. Really, truly stellar. S.J. has nailed the nine-year-old male voice. I absolutely love the way Daniel describes his world, his drawings, and the people in it.
  3. It’s hilarious and adorable. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds. Daniel is a funny kid and gets himself into some pretty sticky situations. Not surprisingly, can you imagine what you would have done if you were nine and discovered a magical pencil that brings everything you draw to life?  
  4. There’s a very subtle, but good message, underneath the story. I hate it when stories are so blatant about the message. It happens a lot with kids stories. Parents are trying to teach the audience a lesson, and when they are they go a little overboard. But with this story, the message is there, but it’s important to the plot so it’s not blatant.
  5. The voice!! I know, I already said it, but seriously. I am a sucker for a vibrant voice, and there’s a very real, very awesome voice to this story.
  6. The drawings. They’re so crazy inventive. I could totally imagine a nine-year-old boy drawing Octobear — a half octopus, half teddy bear creation. Or Pi-zzabot, a robot that makes pizza and solves your math homework. Loved it.

I could go on and on, but really the bottom line is this: buy the book. Read the book. Especially if you have kids around Daniel’s age.

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posted by kim
Posted in: Reviews
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Thursday, March 27th 2014

Stargirl: A Magical Read

StargirlStargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Series: Stargirl #1
Genres: Contemporary
Published by Random House on September 2002
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of colour and sound, hallways hum “Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Until they are not. Leo urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her - normal.
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Oh my gosh. THIS BOOK.

Where do I even start.

I’m never letting go of it. Ever. It’s one of those rare and magical books that hooked me in and left me wanting more, long after it had finished. It’s a quick read – only took me about an hour and a half to finish it – but it’s packed full of so much emotion that it was well worth that time.

Stargirl follows the story of an average kid (Leo Borlock), in an average town (Mica, Arizona), at an average school (Mica High). When the mysterious Stargirl, who plays the ukelele, has a pet rat, cries at strangers’ funerals, and believes in enchanted places, comes to Mica, she turns Leo’s world upside down. But the students of Mica High don’t take kindly to Stargirl, and she must choose between normality and who she truly is.

I think one of the main things that drew me into this book was the beautiful writing. It’s more poetry than prose; I found myself bookmarking and re-reading passages quite a few times. One of my favourite quotes, describing Stargirl herself: “She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a cork board like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”

To be honest, I’m not sure if I could have enjoyed this book half as much as I did if not for the flawless language – because really, only poetry could do justice to the characters. Though it’s narrated by Leo, I think the main character always was Stargirl. She’s the kind of person you only meet once in a lifetime – so innocent, so selfless, that I couldn’t help but fall in love with her even as I cursed the naiveté that brought so much misfortune upon her. Stargirl floats through life believing that everyone is good at heart and deserves wonderful things to happen to them – and she takes it upon herself to make those wonderful things happen. I think my favourite thing about Stargirl is that she had a lot of potential to be a Mary-Sue character, but her actions and dialogue were crafted so well that there was so much more to her than that.

The ending was incredible. I don’t want to go into too much detail for fear of giving something away, but it’s just so poignant and bittersweet that I was thoroughly satisfied (though that doesn’t change the fact that I need to get my hands on the sequel - Love, Stargirl!). 

It’s an amazing, timeless read – one that’s going to stay with me for a very long time.

SO WHY ARE YOU STILL SITTING HERE?!

 

Note: This post was written by Topaz; for some reason YA Asylum is acting up and saying that Kim is the author. :P

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Monday, March 24th 2014

Book Talk: Books That Surprise You

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Books That Surprise You

Have you ever read a book and then something happens and you’re like:

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Either it a good or bad shock? I am pretty damn good at figure out what’s going to happen next in a book. I love, love, love it when an author can surprise me, but that doesn’t happen too much. There are a couple of authors that surprise me consistently. 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma is the first book to pop into my head. Halfway through the book there’s this huge game changing event. I didn’t see it coming at all, but there were plenty of hints along the way. It was smooth and perfect.

Then there are those times when something unexpected happen and you get mad. It’s a bad something, like the twist came out of nowhere or it’s really stupid. The first thing that comes to mind is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. If you haven’t read it, don’t read the next sentence. But when Finnick died? I was like wtf?!?! It wasn’t unexpected. You knew that is a possibility, but the way it was done? It was not okay. It was like a passing event. If you were skimming (like me) you would’ve missed it. It happened in two sentences and was done.

Have you ever had a I was not expecting this moment? Good or bad?

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posted by kim
Posted in: Book Talk
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Wednesday, March 19th 2014

Cover Reveal: DEAREST CLEMENTINE

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TITLE: Dearest Clementine (Dearest, #1)

AUTHOR: Lex Martin

RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2014

GENRE: NA contemporary romance

MODEL: Zoe Chait

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SYNOPSIS:

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn’t mind being called bitchy and closed off. It’s safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out…in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

DEAREST CLEMENTINE is a stand-alone novel with two companion novels. This New Adult contemporary romance series is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content. Look for the second book, DEAREST DANDELION, this June.

EXCERPT:

The laundry room is dark when we walk in, so Gavin flips on the lights. A row of washers and dryers line both sides of the small room. He opens up a washer and dumps in his basket of clothes.

“Gavin, why are you washing clean laundry?” I can’t help the laugh that escapes.

He drops in a few quarters and starts the machine before he turns to me, grinning.

“I’m helping you get in the zone. Come here.” He wraps his hands around my waist, and I let out a surprised squeak when he lifts me up onto a washer. I can’t believe he just picked me up. Okay, that’s a stupid thought to have. He did carry me home two weeks ago.

His grip is firm on either side of me as he leans down to look into my eyes. I lean back slightly. He’s so far in my personal space that my shadow is crowded.

“Clementine, I want to warn you.” His voice is husky and deep. “I’m going to kiss you, and you’re going to like it. A lot. But I want to be clear that I’m not going to sleep with you because I want you to respect me in the morning.” His mouth lifts up in a wry smile. “This is simply one friend helping out another. Okay?”

Wait. Is he serious?

He must sense my apprehension because he rubs his thumb softly across my cheek. “It’s just an exercise, to get you into your story. I promise.”

I laugh, embarrassed, intrigued, and a whole lot turned on by the idea. He smiles again, but this time it’s different. His eyes darken as his hands glide over my hips. My breath catches in my chest.

“Gavin, I don’t think—“

He rests a finger over my lips.

“I’m doing this in the name of academics. You need inspiration? You’re looking at it. Now shut up and let me kiss you.”

AUTHOR BIO:

Lex_small

Lex Martin writes new adult novels, the sexy kind with lotsa angst, a whole lotta kissing, and the hot happily ever afters. When she’s not writing, she lives a parallel life as an English teacher. She loves printing black and white photos, listening to music on vinyl, and getting lost in a great book. Bitten by wanderlust, this native Texan has lived all over the country but currently resides in the City of Angels with her husband and twin daughters.

 

 

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Tuesday, March 18th 2014

Short Stories: Girls & Monsters by Anne Michaud

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I‘m back to spreading my love about short stories in YA <3

A Blue Story

Author
Genre: Dark Contemporary YA
Source Girls & Monsters (Amazon)

This is a Bluebeard retelling. I’m not a huge fan of this fairytale. Generally speaking, the girl who is supposed to stay away from a certain room is always so stupid. Every retelling I’ve ever read, I figured the girl kinda got what was coming. If you’re dumb enough to find yourself in that situation, am I going to care when you finally do the equally dumb thing of going into that room? Particularly when ever Bluebeard in the retelling is a huge creeper? No. I’m not going to care. Please knock yourself out. I enjoy a good character death.

Hence why I was so relieved this wasn’t the usual Bluebeard retelling. The MC, Katherine (I’m partial to this name to start out with), isn’t an idiot. There’s twists in this story that are a different take on the fairytale. I must warn you there is animal deaths. I know that’s a deal breaker for some people. This might sound horrible, but I generally care twice as much for an animal that dies in a movie or book than when a person does. How can you not love a dog? Seriously? And what could that poor puppy ever have done to anyone else?

I’m off topic. The writing was really good in this story. There were two or three lines I could’ve lived without and this ending wasn’t my favorite out of the Girls & Monsters collections. But I still liked this story.

Dust Bunnies

Author
Genre: Dark Sci-fi YA
Source Girls & Monsters (Amazon)

I love that this story takes place in Europe (Germany, to be exact). It’s always interesting when the characters are in a different environment. This story was a little bit like a sci-fi fairytale, if there could be such a thing. The main character, Chris, lost her parents and now lives with her older sister. One day, they lose their only living relative, their grandmother, who lives in Germany.

They have to go clear out her place, which is the very last thing Chris wants to do. In fear of the monster she knows that lives under her grandmother’s bed. It’s an interesting story and there are some creepy moments. Girls & Monsters as a whole is a collection I really enjoyed, but this wasn’t my favorite story. It seemed to rush together at the end. Plus: bugs. I just really don’t like them.

We Left At Night

Author
Genre: ZOMBIES!
Source Girls & Monsters (Amazon)

Zombies. Need I say more? I suppose. I love zombies and this short story was put together so very well. The tension and the wtf is going on moments. Brooke comes alive as a character, as does her family. Her dad is kind of useless, since he breaks down and says some pretty harsh things and her mom is kind of crazy in my opinion. She’s a nurse so she goes out of her way to help people, which made me feel sorry for Brooke and her little brother, Rory. (And, yes, Whovians, I thought Rory Williams too.)

This was probably my favorite short story in the collection. Brooke’s voice was vivid, the tension was brilliantly executed, and there are zombies.

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Friday, March 14th 2014

Bookshelf Perfectionism: Yay or Nay?

 

I’ve been on a bit of a re-organising kick this past week – I’ve rearranged my bookshelves four times in the past five days. True story: my little sister came into my room yesterday, took one look at the shelves, rolled her eyes, and said very matter-of-factly: “Oh my GOD. You did it AGAIN.”

And of course, I looked at her all awkwardly and went:

The thing is, disorganised bookshelves are sort of my OCD trigger. I’m a very aesthetically-oriented person; I can’t stand anything that doesn’t look like it’s in its proper place, including my beloved books! That basically means that I’m constantly finding new ways to improve the state of my shelves (and, to the groans of my friends, theirs as well) – I’m never satisfied. It’s also the reason that I can’t buy a book unless it’s in pristine condition… though I must admit, the outrageous prices of books here in Singapore combined with my alarming lack of funds have forced me into used bookstores, and I’ve had to abandon that rule slightly. :P

The latest arrangement of my two lowermost bookshelves – the ones that I’m the happiest with:

Shelves 1 and 2

Actually, that’ll probably change over this weekend if I have any say in the matter…

That said, my sister may or may not pull me away from my definitely-not-obsessive bookshelf rearranging to do something a little more productive, so I might have to postpone that until Monday. Ah, the horribly difficult life of a perfectionistic bibliophile. ;)

So, my question for you guys:

Are meticulously organised bookshelves important to you, or are you fine with just throwing your books anywhere on your shelves?

Ooh, and Kim made me a fancy new signature… so of course I have to use it. It’s so pretttyyyyyyyy. :D

topaz2

posted by kim
Posted in: Book Talk
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