Ya Asylum

Tuesday, August 19th 2014

Review + Giveaway: IN THE REARVIEW by Maria Ann Green

IN THE REARVIEWIN THE REARVIEW by Maria Ann Green
Genres: Contemporary
Published by Astraea Press on August 19th, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: ARC from author, Bought

Please Note: I received this book for free from ARC from author, Bought in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads
When Meagan’s secret is found out, and she realizes there is no way to outrun her habit of cutting, she tries to work through it, and her depression, before she cuts too deep, making a mistake that can never be undone.

Meagan's problems aren't like every other adolescent's no matter how much she wishes they could be. Hers are worse. They've pulled her down into the depths of a depression that is anything but normal. She begins her pattern of self-harm as her depression threatens to drown her. She starts with one cut that leads to the next, and the next. After starting, it's apparent that there's no stopping, and Meagan spirals into a dark and cruel world she doesn't understand. Meagan cuts to feel better, but that comfort doesn't last long enough, and soon life is worse than it ever was before.

While learning to quit cutting Meagan faces life-altering obstacles and grows up in the process. IN THE REARVIEW is a story of pain, loss, confusion, and hope told through Meagan’s poems, journal entries, and a splash of narrative.
Verdict?: This is a book worth buying!
Buy the Book (Book Depository)Buy the Book (Amazon)

REVIEW

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book to review by Maria Ann, and am so thankful!

I absolutely loved this book, it was so creative and interestingly written. There is journal entries and third person POV mixed in throughout the story. Usually, third person POV seems so stiff and hard to connect with the characters — but Maria Ann Green has a talent for third person POV. It had voice and it was easy to connect to Meagan and her journey. 

Meagan struggles with doubt and depression, and finds her only source for relief through cutting. It was interesting to get into the mind of a character that thought this was a good idea — even though she kinda already knew it wasn’t. The journey from deciding to cut, to cutting, to deciding not to cut was a painful one for Meagan, and the reader. She’s a nice girl, who has flaws and brilliance both. I wouldn’t say she made a mistake, this book isn’t about judging the habit, but about trying to break free of it for Meagan.

Poor Meagan, when she finally does, her high school experience continues to have ups and downs. This is one of those interesting books that flows from MG, when Meagan is in middle school, to NA — when she is in college. Due to this, a lot of moments and sometime a whole year will be skimmed over. I kinda wish I could have known more about what happened then, but since the book is spanning such a large period of time I understand why the author wouldn’t stop for these moments if nothing important to her journey was really happening. I kinda would’ve liked to see more of her relationships as well, because it’s not until the last one that we really get to see what it’s like for Meagan. Otherwise, it is in the journal entries that they are skimmed over. Again, though, since this isn’t a romance book I understand that aspect.

Overall, I give this book my seal of approval. If you are looking for a dark issue book, this debut is for you. 

OOOOOH! By the way: THERE IS POETRY! I love poetry, but I can’t write it worth anything. I loved that aspect about the book. Meagan’s journal entries were broken up by her poetry, and you learn so much about what she is feeling and what she has gone through/is going through with her poems. Some are short, some are long, but all are beautiful. There are so many gem lines and poems, I started to keep a list for my favorite quotes:

BEAUTIFUL QUOTES:

BlurbThing2

GIVEAWAY PACKAGE:

The How:

Anyone who buys my book, IN THE REARVIEW, in any e-version the first week it’s out, August 19th – 26th, and sends me an email verification (screen shot your purchase confirmation, forward the confirmation email, take a picture of your computer screen – honestly whatever works) will be entered into the drawing to win a pretty cool set of prizes. Send the emails to: magauthorgiveaway@gmail.com

The Who:

There will be THREE winers.

The What:

If you win there are a few things you will be getting. 

First, you will receive a gifted copy of my next published book in any e-version that you prefer.
Second, because there is poetry in this book, I will write you poem that is specifically for you. The winner can feel free to provide personal information or likes to make the poem more specialized, but that is not required by any means.
Third, I will name a character after each winner in my next book. I cannot guarantee that the character will live, or be a good guy, but the winners will get to be a character in a manuscript of mine.
Fourth, and finally, each winner will get a mention, by name, in my next acknowledgments page. Fans are so essential. I really do appreciate everyone who is willing to spend their hard earned money on me and my little book, so this one is the most important piece to me for my giveaway.

*Giveaway package: Don’t forget that the giveaway package entries can be sent through August 26th.

 About the Author:

Maria Green currently lives in Minnesota, despite its bitter winters, with her husband. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. When she isn’t writing, Maria loves to read with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of sweet wine, craft, and spend time with her family. This is her first published novel.
Vist her WEBSITE, BLOG, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, and add her on GOODREADS, add her book on GOODREADS.
ya-signature
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Monday, August 18th 2014

Release Day: SHAMELESS! A Brilliant NA Debut

 

Kim: HEY EVERYONE! So here’s the thing about NAs: I don’t generally like them. They are all so much of the same thing, over and over again. Innocent girl goes to college meets boy (either professor or bad boy — or both), stops being innocent, sexual awakening, nothing but romance contemporary YA with sex. That’s pretty much what a lot of it is. And that’s cool, if that’s what you like. To each their own. I don’t like that.

I like darker fiction. I like stuff with more than just romance as a plot. And that’s why I loved SHAMELESS. It’s a gritty, edgy contemporary set in somewhere interesting and rare: Montreal [okay, maybe the small fact that I will be moving to Montreal next week has some to do with that too ;)]. I love flawed characters, and everyone is flawed but likable and strong and I loved them. 

Bottom Line: Even if NA isn’t your thing, trust me: SHAMELESS is worth reading.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

22447460Publication Date: August 18th 2014Synopsis via Goodreads:
~New Adult Contemporary Romance — recommended for mature readers~
 
Girls like me don’t get happy endings.
 
I know what I am. At worst a cliché, at best a cautionary tale. I put an international border between me and my past, only to wind up working in a low-end titty bar. Even my excuse is as lame as it gets: I’m paying for college, getting my art degree from Montreal’s most prestigious school. Although some days it becomes confusing: am I just a student who moonlights as a stripper, or a stripper who masquerades as a student?
 
But the inevitable happens and my two lives collide. And now there’s one other person who knows both the quiet, antisocial Hannah and the sensual, shameless Alicia. One person who keeps my secret.
 
He’s beautiful, he’s sophisticated. He comes from the other side of life, the one where I’m not wanted or accepted. But he calls me la petite Américaine, and his hot, hot hands on my skin promise me things I long ago gave up on.
 
The problem? He teaches my Classic Photography class.
 
This is a standalone novel, no series, no cliffhanger.
 
 
Nina Lemay

About the Author

Nina Lemay is a YA writer by day and author of sinfully twisted New Adult…well, also by day. She loves all things dark and edgy and never tires of tormenting her characters. While Nina is a fan of all things scary, Gothic, and fantastic, she doesn’t shy away from a gritty contemporary romance when the muse strikes. She lives in Montreal, a city that never fails to inspire, with her partner and her dog.

ninalemay.com | twitter.com/NinaLemay

 
 
 
Guest Post
================
 
Thank you so much for helping me launch SHAMELESS into the world. Being a writer, especially an indie debut author, is often lonely and occasionally scary. All the support I’ve had with SHAMELESS just blew me away. You guys are amazing!
SHAMELESS is set in Montreal. Why Montreal, you ask? Montreal was the perfect setting for many reasons.
 
First… well, I’ve never read a New Adult novel set in Montreal. Actually, I haven’t read that many novels set in Montreal at all. It’s always a big city in the US, New York or LA or Chicago, and when the story needs a touch of exoticism, New Orleans. So I said to myself, how is Montreal worse than New Orleans? At least here we actually speak French, you know?

 

Montreal is a Canadian city, kind of on the small side (give or take 2 million people) and yes, it speaks French. French is the only official language of the province of Quebec, but in the heart of Montreal you can usually get by in English too. Montreal is known for a kind of libertine attitude and what we call joie de vivre—you gotta, when it’s freezing nine months of the year. I took this picture in the middle of April, after I woke up to a surprise snowstorm (surprise!).
Good music (Montreal is home to the giant outdoor Jazz Festival and several others throughout the summer), good food (and I don’t just mean poutine) and good nightlife is what it’s known for. It also has a sort of European feel to it. This is from when I lived on the Plateau, aka the French-speaking hipster neighborhood par excellence:

 

Coffee shop on the Plateau:


In the downtown core, the area is more English and more touristy. And I didn’t exaggerate: there really are strip clubs all along Ste-Catherine, the main shopping street of downtown Montreal. Here’s one right above a teen clothing store!

 

Quebec City, where Hannah and Emmanuel go for the long weekend, is one of the oldest settlements in North America and the provincial capital. About three hours by car to the north of Montreal, Ville de Quebec has the look and feel of a majestic European city.
I went to university with many people who moved across the continent to go to school here, and I always admired (and was kind of envious of) the courage it takes. So when I wrote Hannah, a girl who’s desperate to escape her high school years no matter the cost, I thought, what better place to run away to than Montreal?

 

 

 

 
 

 

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Thursday, August 14th 2014

On Love, Ukeleles, and Strong Female Characters

“We need strong female characters!”

Ever heard that one before?

I’m betting you have, especially lately with the feminism debate that’s been circling the internet. The recent release of the Divergent film – which I haven’t seen or read, but which does feature one of these “strong female characters” – has answered the call, along with some old favourites that are being brought back around to counter the argument. You know the ones: Katniss, from The Hunger Games. Juliette, from Shatter Me. Tauriel, from The Hobbit (just the film, though – she’s not in the book).

And while I have absolutely nothing against these characters - actually, I think they are wonderful and such great examples of courage, and justice, and standing up for what you know is right – today I wanted to talk about somebody else, someone who I have not seen yet in the Great Internet Literary War (which, of course, I did not just make up ;)).

This girl is brave, eccentric, and totally awesome, and she doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. It’s Stargirl, from Jerry Spinelli’s book of the same name.

Stargirl isn’t the first person who comes to mind when somebody utters the words “strong female character” – she doesn’t really have any special skills, as far as I know she’s never held a weapon in her life, she enjoys playing the ukelele and has a pet rat (not really prime warrior material!), and at the end of Stargirl, she vanishes – or, as some might see it, runs away from Leo and the bullying she faces in Mica (highlight the previous text for MAJOR book spoilers, those of you who have read it!).

And yet, Stargirl’s quiet strength and the way she manages to constantly, without fail find the best in every single person – even those who don’t deserve her kindness – places her high, high up on my list of awesome protagonists. It would have been so incredibly easy to turn her into one of those sickeningly perfect characters – and, on first glance, that’s what she might seem like – but she most certainly has her weaknesses. Paradoxically, her biggest flaw is also her biggest strength: Stargirl loves with everything she has. She gives away all of herself with no thought to what she’ll get back. And I think that’s so difficult. I think it’s so hard to not hold back anything, to forget all of your previous wounds and all the times you’ve been hurt before. The fact that Stargirl is able to do this with such ease makes her rare and lovely, and most certainly one of my favourite bookish girls. Why do I love her so much?

You're Special

What Stargirl exemplifies is something I believe that today’s girls have to take to heart - you don’t have to be Katniss or Tris or Juliette or Tauriel. You don’t have to lead every single battle or throw punches left and right or kill everybody that stands in the path to success. Being strong isn’t about filling in traditional male roles – and Stargirl never tried to do that. For her, it was always about embracing who she was, and not succumbing to who the world wanted her to be. That’s a message girls need to know: you can play the ukelele. You can believe in enchanted places. You can fall hopelessly, madly in love and not sacrifice everything for that love. You can fall out of love, too. You can do all of these things and more, and it doesn’t make you “weak”. Although there is most certainly a merit in being a master archer who’s never missed a mark, we can’t forget that strength can also be at the opposite end of the spectrum.

So amongst all the cries for strong female characters, let’s not forget that sometimes, they can be hiding in the unlikeliest of places – the girls who aren’t afraid to just be girls. Stargirl is beautiful, and unique, and she is a gem that we can’t lose – not now, not ever.

Who are your favourite unlikely strong female characters?

topaz2

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Wednesday, August 13th 2014

COVER REVEAL: IN THE REARVIEW

InTheRearview-MariaAnnGreen

GUYS!!!! I need you to know this: I LOVE MARIA ANN GREEN! She’s the nicest person ever. I’ve also read this book and LOVE this book. It’s very interesting!

Title: In the Rearview
Author: Maria Ann Green
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release date: August 19th (ADD IT ON GOODREADS!!!)

When Meagan’s secret is found out, and she realizes there is no way to outrun her habit of cutting, she tries to work through it, and her depression, before she cuts too deep, making a mistake that can never be undone.

Meagan’s problems aren’t like every other adolescent’s no matter how much she wishes they could be. Hers are worse. They’ve pulled her down into the depths of a depression that is anything but normal. She begins her pattern of self-harm as her depression threatens to drown her. She starts with one cut that leads to the next, and the next. After starting, it’s apparent that there’s no stopping, and Meagan spirals into a dark and cruel world she doesn’t understand. Meagan cuts to feel better, but that comfort doesn’t last long enough, and soon life is worse than it ever was before.

While learning to quit cutting Meagan faces life-altering obstacles and grows up in the process. IN THE REARVIEW is a story of pain, loss, confusion, and hope told through Meagan’s poems, journal entries, and a splash of narrative.

Photo-4ABOUT MARIA ANN GREEN: Maria Green currently lives in Minnesota, despite its bitter winters, with her husband. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. When she isn’t writing, Maria loves to read with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of sweet wine, craft, and spend time with her family. This is her first published novel.

HER WEBSITE / BLOG / TWITTER / GOODREADS

 

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Monday, August 11th 2014

Discussion: Do You Listen to Audiobooks?

It seems that lately, there’s been an ever-growing market in the literary world even besides eBooks and, of course, the traditional physical books. It’s happening with indie titles and bestsellers alike – they’re being converted to audiobooks. Everywhere I look, bloggers and bookworms are jumping onto the audiobook train and raving about the virtues of this new form of reading.

But I, for one, am a little leery of audiobooks. I’ve tried them out a couple of times in the past, and I must say I haven’t had a particularly spectacular experience with them – rather, the ones that I’ve listened to had flat, boring narrators and left me constantly checking to see how much of the book was left so I could move onto something more interesting. It was a real disappointment for me, since it would have been lovely to have something to do while exercising or on the bus to and from school, and I’m never opposed to squeezing in a little bookish love during the more mundane parts of my day!

It could just be because I crave excitement in my books, and with traditional reading I can weave the stories into life and hear the characters’ voices in my head. But with audiobooks, it seems that someone else is doing all the work for me - it takes away the experience that I so love about reading. When I listen to books I’ve read and adored, I’m almost shocked by the way the narrator does character voices – sort of like movie adaptations where the actors are not at all what I pictured while reading. It’s a bit of an unpleasant feeling!

So what do you guys think? Am I just choosing the wrong audiobooks or narrators to listen to? Any recommendations for better ones? Do you enjoy audiobooks, or do you prefer to stick with traditional reading?

Let me know – I’d love to have a discussion.

topaz

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Wednesday, August 6th 2014

The Clown Picture: Flawed Characters, Awesome Story

The Clown PictureThe Clown Picture by Troy McCombs
Genres: Horror
Format: eBook
Source: ARC from author
Goodreads
Horror novels have just gotten more horrifying... and this may be the next generation in all of children's horror stories...“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Come see the flying trapeze twins, the lion and lion tamer, the clown and his appetite for children! Do be scared, as it helps in the digestion process!”

9-year-old Logan Barnes loves the circus more than anything. In fact, all he wants to be when he grows up is a clown. To instil hope in people; to make sick children feel better.

But when his mom brings him home a painted picture of a sad-looking clown, he begins to seriously reconsider. Something is seriously wrong with this old, worn painting, and it's only going to get worse--much worse. The picture is just plain evil. In addition, the clown inside it is somewhat alive, and will do everything he can to escape into the real world… no matter what it takes.

Does Logan stand a chance against him? Or is he doomed from the start? Either way, it’ll be one heck of a battle.

“The Clown Picture” is one of few scary kindle books meant for all ages. And of all scary books for kids 9-12 to adults from age 18-87, the unrelenting terror in this never lets up. It will not only frighten the child, but the adult as well.
Buy the Book (Book Depository)Buy the Book (Amazon)

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Mr. McCombs!

Let me just put this out there: clowns seriously freak me out. I’ve read and watched many, many stories with killer clowns – from Stephen King’s It to the Supernatural episode Everybody Loves A Clown - and when I picked up The Clown Picture, I was almost expecting something similar to what I had previously seen.

This book, however, is most certainly unique in its premise: Logan, a 9-year old boy who loves clowns, receives a painting of one as a gift. When the painting comes to life and starts capturing the people he loves, he has to find a way to get past a fear that threatens to overwhelm him and defeat the malicious clown once and for all. I really loved the idea of this, and the unassumingly-named Ernie sent chills up my spine from the start. The plot is intriguing and the final showdown between Ernie and Logan was beautifully executed.

Most of all, the messages conveyed ran much deeper than simply a little boy trying to overcome his fear of a scary clown. I must say, there was some pretty deep stuff covered – the triumph of love over fear and the power of innocence were two themes that shone through very well. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that managed to convey these kinds of ideas, especially one targeted towards a younger audience, without sounding overly preachy. The author did it wonderfully – I could see my little sister reading this book.

Unfortunately, one drawback I saw was that I had absolutely no idea whether the book actually was targeted towards an MG audience, or whether it was supposed to be YA or for adults. It seems that the author kept changing his mind – although Logan’s dialogue was spot-on for a 9-year old, his inner thinking sometimes seemed just a bit too mature for his age. Plus, his classmates – these are fourth graders, let’s remember – were swearing quite loudly in the classroom and the teacher didn’t seem to mind at all. At times, I forgot that I was reading about 9 and 10-year olds, not high schoolers.

Oh, and let’s not forget the psychopathic, cannibalistic clown who fed on the bodies of innocent children.

Wait What?

On second thought, I’m not sure if I want my little sister reading this book.

The other thing I had trouble with was the characters – specifically, Logan’s mother and father. Kelly, his mother, was wonderful and kind, giving some sage advice to Logan and generally being the classic loving mother character. Billy, on the other hand, was a bit of an odd father. At first I didn’t know whether I was supposed to love him or hate him, since he displayed some very mixed actions at the beginning of the book. I tentatively settled for the former, since they seemed like a pretty happy family… except then the second half of the book rolled around and Billy basically turned into a raging menace who I kind of wanted to report for child abuse. I wasn’t sure whether he actually had some screws loose or whether he was just a terrible person who cared a lot more for his material possessions than for his only son.

Either way, I basically just wanted to direct him to the douchebag jar.

The Douchebag Jar

Although the blurb of The Clown Picture is oriented towards more of an “everybody and anybody” kind of audience, I would caution parents when giving this book to your kids, since there are some mature themes even besides the killer clown deal. Rather, I’d recommend this to more mature readers who want a twisted antagonist and an awesome plot. Although the characters do have some flaws, those of you who are able to overlook that will find that underneath is hidden an absolutely amazing premise and a truly creepy horror story.

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Tuesday, August 5th 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Picks for Newbies

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Check out their lovely blog right here!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is: Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who’ve Never Read X Genre. Since YA Asylum is, of course, a YA blog (how’d you guess?), I thought it only fitting to dedicate today to ranting about extolling the virtues of some of the ridiculously amazing YA books I’ve read. :D

For Contemporary Lovers…

1. Fangirlby Rainbow Rowell. (What, you thought you could go just one post without me raving about the perfection of this book? HAHAHAHAHAHA. YOU THOUGHT WRONG.)

Fangirl is a wonderful introduction to YA – it’s sweet and fluffy and romantic, but also there’s some difficult issues that Cath deals with – overcoming her shyness and anxiety, learning how to navigate the world without her sister by her side, gaining a sense of self-worth, and working through the issues she has with her mother and Wren. Overall, though, it’s just a lovely feel-good read for a rainy day and a mug of hot chocolate. :D

2. It’s Kind of a Funny Storyby Ned Vizzini. (I can never spell his last name.) I just finished this one a couple of days ago, but I loved it. Since the topic is quite heavy – the MC suffers from severe depression and the majority of the book takes place in a psychiatric ward after he almost commits suicide – I was kind of expecting an intensely tragic book that would leave me sobbing. It’s a vast understatement to say that I was wrong. So, so wrong. This book is witty, packed with dry humour, and deals with difficult issues very well. It’s such a fun read.

For SciFi Lovers…

3. More than Thisby Patrick Ness. I wasn’t one of those people who completely fell in love with the Chaos Walking trilogy – I did like it, but the ending left me slightly dissatisfied – so I was cautious when picking this one up. Ness totally bowled me over with More than This, though. I felt like with every page, I was putting together another piece of some huge puzzle – and the final picture was kind of earth-shatteringly awesome.

4. The Shatter Me series, by Tahereh Mafi. So, I’m kinda-sorta lying with this one since I’ve only actually read the first two books – not Ignite Me or the two novellas – but I’m going to do that soon! Regardless, Tahereh Mafi’s language is simply beautiful. There’s a quotable passage on every other page. You can practically taste Juliette’s despair and I was cheering for her through every single step of her healing process. Tahereh Mafi is one of my absolute favourite authors.

(Not to mention: WARNER.)

For Horror Lovers…

5. Anna Dressed in Bloodby Kendare Blake. There is never not something going on in this book. The premise is awesome. The execution is awesome. The characters are awesome. Hell, even the cover art is awesome. Cas is the perfect blend of sarcasm and badassery, and Anna is basically just a really strong and powerful killer ghost… with a conscience, apparently? (Just read the book. It will all become clear. *wiggles fingers mystically*) Seriously, what’s not to love?

6. Carrieby Stephen King. I was debating whether to include Carrie since it probably isn’t technically considered YA, but the MC is in high school, so let’s just say it is. ;) This was the first Stephen King book I read – ah, the memories! – and it’s heartbreaking while at the same time being really freaking terrifying. I loved Carrie’s character even when I really shouldn’t have, and the climax was masterfully executed. Such an awesome intro to King.

For Historical Fiction Lovers…

7. The Divinersby Libba Bray. I CAN’T EVEN WITH THE DIVINERS. OH MY GOD.

I Can't Even

IF YOU READ ANY BOOK EVER, READ THIS BOOK. I AM ACTUALLY INCAPABLE OF WRITING IN ANYTHING OTHER THAN CAPS LOCK RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THERE’S CREEPY-ASS DEMONS AND MURDERS TO SOLVE AND AN IGNORANT ARROGANT ABSOLUTELY LOVEABLE PROTAGONIST AND AN UNEXPECTED ROMANCE AND – GET THIS – IT’S SET IN THE ’20S. WITH FLAPPERS AND SPEAKSIES AND AMAZINGNESS LIKE THAT.

GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

READ IT.

JUST READ THE FREAKING BOOK OKAY. I’LL WAIT WHILE YOU GO BUY IT ONLINE OR RUN TO YOUR LIBRARY OR CALL YOUR FRIEND AND BORROW IT. YOUR LIFE WILL NOT BE COMPLETE UNTIL YOU READ THIS BOOK.

8. Copper Sunby Sharon Draper. Ahem. Now that I have splashed water on my face and (mostly) calmed down, let’s continue, shall we? ;) I had to read Copper Sun for a school assignment, and while I normally detest assigned reading, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. Draper captures the atmosphere of America in the slave era perfectly from the point of view of an African slave and a white indentured servant. The POVs are unique and the way in which Polly and Amari interact are fascinating. The ending is… unexpected, but it’s also sad tinged with just the perfect amount of hope.

For Fantasy Lovers…

9. Absentby Katie Williams. This book was my intro to paranormal fantasy, and it pretty much ripped my heart out of my chest. It’s from the point of view of a girl who died in a freak accident and now haunts her school with two fellow ghosts. The plotline was interesting – nothing really special about it – but the ending totally caught me by surprise (which is pretty hard to do!). Love the characters, love the plot twist, love the message. Plus, the writing is beautiful in a simple sort of way – think Hemingway.

10. The False Princeby Jennifer Nielson. I wasn’t at all impressed by the second book in the Ascendance trilogy, The Runaway King, but the first book was mindblowingly awesome. There’s a plot twist on every single page, and that’s not an exaggeration. The MC is one of those hard-on-the-outside-marshmallow-on-the-inside types, and I fell hard for him. (*sigh* The list of fictional characters I’m in love with grows every day.) This one you won’t be able to put down, and the twist ending will leave you wanting to reread the whole thing just to pick up on all the hints you missed.

What books would you give to new YA readers?

topaz2

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Sunday, August 3rd 2014

Bookish Fun: ThinkGeek Pillows!

Something you should know about me: I really, really enjoy pillows. Also, blankets. And basically soft, fluffy things in general. ;) And when these soft, fluffy things are also book-themed, that’s just bonus points. (I mean, come on! Snuggly books! What more could anyone possibly want?)

Introducing: ThinkGeek literary pillows!

Let me just say right now, and clear up any confusion: these pillows are wonders of humanity. My best friend gave me the Sherlock Holmes one for my birthday last year, and now it’s proudly nestled in my reading nook. That pillow has seen way too many book-induced tears and laughter, plus it’s nice and soft for squeezing when reading horror. ;)

Oh, and, not to mention: faceplants just got a whole lot comfier.

But seriously, guys, I am so in love with these pillows. (I WANT ALL THREE.) Only the Alice in Wonderland one opens, unfortunately – the Sherlock Holmes and Treasure Island ones are permanently closed – but still, they’re a must-have for any bookworm!

You can buy them over at ThinkGeek (Olde Book Pillow Classics) – they’re currently out of stock, but they’re expected to be back soon.

What do you think of these bookish pillows?

topaz

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Sunday, July 27th 2014

The Book Blogger Test Tag

Note: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but unfortunately WordPress hates me so it’s slightly delayed. Sorry about that!

I was tagged by the lovely Ashley over at Words We Heart for the Book Blogger Test tag – thank you so much! :) Questions and answers are below (plus, Kim might be joining me for this later on as well! Yay!).

What are your top three book pet hates?

1. Too many typos in books – it just takes away from the story and makes the experience so much less enjoyable.

2. When the book is paced ridiculously slowly for the first 90%, and then the author suddenly realises that nothing’s happening and the ending comes zooming at you. (It’s kind of like the author just went OH MY GOD NOTHING’S HAPPENING I NEED TO PACK A WHOLE NOVEL’S WORTH OF ACTION INTO THE LAST 20 PAGES)

3. Having people assume that reading = doing nothing whatsoever and then proceeding to sit down and talk to you while you’re like can’t you see I just got to the best part?!

Get Out, I'm Reading

Describe your perfect reading spot.

My reading nook, hands down! (Starbucks is a close second, though. Or really any coffee shop. I enjoy the background noise.)

Tell us 3 book confessions.

1. Even though I love, love, love hardcovers, I rarely buy them because they’re ridiculously expensive – only with my absolute favourite books (or the ones I can’t find in paperback). I’m totally not opposed to people giving me hardcovers, though – that’s a whole new story! ;)

2. You know that one really weird person you see who’s sitting on the bus reading, and tears are literally streaming down their face because they’re that invested in fictional people who have never and will never exist (and when you get off they look up and ask you what stop it is, and you find out that they were supposed to get off four stops ago)? Yeah. That’s me.

3. I’m a sucker for mysterious/brooding/tears-behind-the-painted-smile boys in books. (*cough* DEAN WINCHESTER *cough*)

When was the last time you cried during a book?

Last week – it was a reread of The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness. Such an amazing book, oh my gosh. I was bawling my eyes out. :P

How many books are on your bedside table?

Just one – my current read (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini). I try not to keep too many books on my bedside table, mostly because that’s where I keep all my notebooks and a couple of pencils, so it tends to get really crowded if I have a billion books there too.

What is your favourite snack to eat while you’re reading?

It’s not technically to eat, but I love drinking hot chocolate while reading. Makes me feel so cozy. :D (Bonus points if it’s raining and/or snowing out!)

Name three books you would recommend to anyone.

Oh, that’s an easy one! Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell; The Diviners, by Libba Bray; and Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes.

Show us a picture of your favourite shelf on your bookcase.

Right now my tablet is temporary out of order so I can’t take a photo, but that’ll be posted soon! :)

What is your biggest reading secret?

There was that one fiasco when I decided that eBooks were more convenient than physical ones, so I sold all my books. (Hint: that only lasted for a week. I missed them so much that I bought them all back and promised I’d never subject myself to that again.) *sigh* I was young and naive back then. ;)

Write how much books mean to you in three words .

Three words?! This doesn’t begin to encompass how much they mean to me, but it’s a start: they’re my wings.

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Thursday, July 24th 2014

US Book Haul!

Helloooo, everyone! Remember me? (That other person who writes for YA Asylum sometimes?) Alas, I’ve been pretty silent here over the past couple of weeks – for which I apologise. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get Wifi for less than 30 bucks a night in Los Angeles! But the good news is, I’m back in action, having arrived back home a couple of days ago… and on top of that, I figured out how to fit all the books I bought in New York/Washington D.C./California in a suitcase and they arrived safe and unharmed! That, my friends, is what I call a victory.

I managed to dig the majority out of their various nooks and crannies in my suitcase (I believe there’s two missing, but I’ll find those soon… hopefully!):

US Summer Book Haul

THEY’RE SO BEAUTIFUL. *strokes book spines in a totally not-creepy way* Final count: 11, not including the two that are missing. Those shown in the picture include…

Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles, by Kim Newman. Being a slightly obsessive Sherlock Holmes fan, I tend to devour any and all variations of the canon. I’ve never read one from Moriarty’s perspective, though – I can’t wait to see how this book turns out.

Argon Desaki’s Report from Earth, by Alan Walworth. Coolest story ever: I was in Stanford University for a summer camp – an amazing experience, but alas, the Stanford campus is ridiculously huge… a curse for somebody like me, who has zero sense of direction. So there I was, wandering around on the fourth day of camp, getting lost on the EXACT SAME ROAD for the third time that day, asking everyone who passed if they knew the way back to my dorm. One man stopped and said he had a map, then offered to walk me back. Turns out he too was slightly directionally challenged, so by the time we had actually turned the map the right way up and found our way back, there was plenty of time to make small talk and find out that – surprise, surprise! – his first book is being published this year! He gave me this copy of one of the later drafts, so that was quite lovely.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. I will never, ever be over the poignancy and precision of Ness’ writing. I could read a grocery list by him and still give it a five-star review. ;) The Chaos Walking trilogy was amazing, but More than This was the book of his that just blew me away – of course I couldn’t miss this one.

Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff. I saw a couple of reviews for this (including Kim’s!) and was intrigued by the concept – I mean, ghosts and serial killers! How could I resist? – but I couldn’t find it in any of the stores at home. One of New York’s hole in the wall indie bookstores came to the rescue and now I can’t wait to start reading it. :D

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler. This was one of those hey-this-book-looks-pretty-on-the-shelf-why-don’t-I-pick-it-up kind of discoveries. It was actually meant to be an airplane book (who else thinks airport bookstores rule?!) but I ended up sleeping through the flight, so that didn’t exactly work out. :P Fun fact: Daniel Handler is Lemony Snicket’s real name, something I didn’t know until I casually mentioned the author’s name to my sister and she – a hardcore Series of Unfortunate Events fan – totally geeked out on me. So this should be an interesting read. ;)

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgeson Burnett. I’m a sucker for classics with beautiful covers, and The Secret Garden is one of my favourite books ever. (Basically, anything by Frances Hodgeson Burnett. She’s a genius.) ‘Nuff said.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart. The world seems to be raving about this book – my friends keep insisting that I read it, five-star reviews are popping up everywhere, and the Tumblr page is… intriguing, to say the least. I’ve kind of been salivating over this book since I heard of it (but of course, it hasn’t come out here yet. Grrrrr.), so I snapped it up in the first bookstore I came across and it’s next on my TBR!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. The premise of this book is so interesting – I’d read a bunch of reviews and promised myself I’d try and find it once I came to the US, and I did! :D I haven’t really read a great contemporary romance in awhile, so hopefully this won’t disappoint.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. There are no words to describe how much I love this book. (I did a review on it - and I genuinely tried to be coherent, I swear! - but it didn’t really work. I just kind of melted into a puddle of fangirliness.) Obviously, I had to have it.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell. I’m determined to just hoard all of Rainbow Rowell’s books, as you can see. I was so incredibly excited when I found out that this is actually the exclusive collector’s edition – see the light blue rather than tan book cover? It has fanart and an author Q&A inside too. :D Haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet – I’m saving it for a rainy evening and a mug of hot chocolate!

The Finisher, by David Baldacci. I was in New York for the awards ceremony of a writing competition (Carnegie Hall! Whoo!), and when I checked in the day before they handed me a bag filled with the usual things: my medal, certificate, some info on a dance that was happening, an anthology of the winners’ works, and… a random book? Alright, then. Totally not like I’m objecting to free books. ;)

What books are you excited to read? Let me know in the comments!

 

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