Sunday, October 31, 2010

[Review] Missing girl by Norma Fox Mazer

Title: Missing Girl
Author: Norma Fox Mazer
Publication: July 2008
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Review Copy: PB, for review (Thanks A&U!)
Pages: 260
Series: Standalone
My Rating:


Blurb:  
This is the story of five sisters.

Beauty longs for love.
Mim holds a secret tightly.
Stevie is tempestuous and impulsive.
Fancy talks too much and understands too little.
And Autumn, the youngest sister, struggles to discover who she is.

None of the Herbert girls is aware of the mild-looking man who has become obsessed with them - until the day one sister doesn't come home.

My thoughts: 

Missing Girl is a realistic portrayal of an "innocent" obsession that goes a little too far; it's quite scary how believable it all was. In its contemporary prose and unconventional alternating perspectives among three of the five sisters in this seemingly tight-knit family, Missing Girl hit all the right notes.

In the first chapter, we are introduced to the man who is excited because in taking a new route to work, he has found a group of girls, "birds", to observe and welcome him (though they do not acknowledge his existence until later) every morning. He seems normal enough. Of course, from reading the synopsis, it is known that there is something off about him, but for now he just verges on a little bit creepy. As the novel progresses, we gain more and more insight into the life of this man: how pathetic his life is, how these girls who he has become obsessed with are so stuck in his mind that he's even pondering their nicknames as he works in his cubicle at his office 9-to-5 job.

Interweaving the exploration of the man, we are also given the grand tour into the lives of the family, who include: the parents, Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy and Autumn. I really really wish this novel were longer, so Mazer could have taken more time to develop their characters. I think they really did have potential, it fell a bit flat. I still engaged with them--it just could've been more so.

Beauty is the oldest of the girls, and she is practically in love with love. She's never been in a relationship, and is horrifically awkward when it comes to talking to her new crush (because she saw him walking by on the same street, which swoops her into fantasy mode of their futures), Ethan. In this respect, Mazer really did downgrade her age; she could have been fourteen or twelve with the level of maturity she holds sometimes.

Mim is the "quiet" one, who "holds a secret tightly". I think I could have really liked the arc of her character, if the idea was followed through with more depth. It was pretty much just a brief discussion between Beauty and Mim, and Mim tells her secret to her.

Stevie, well, I don't really remember much about her. Except that she changed her name to Stevie, because she didn't like how girly her real name was. She's loud and tempestuous. I didn't like her too much. There wasn't enough to draw me to be overly sympathetic with her situation, that affected everyone else in the family. (trying not to spoil things here!)

Fancy is quite annoying. She talks way too much, and speaks like a seven year old or something, despite that she's twelve. You know seven-year-olds just go on and on, circling around one trivial issue? That's Fancy. That's all I'll say about her, because she pretty much has nothing except dumbness and being grossly verbose. (Also, she blames Autumn for getting lost; Fancy wants to go to school so her teacher will praise her being such a good girl, but no. Fancy only thinks of herself, and how her sister's disappearance is affecting her)

Autumn, the youngest at eleven years of age. She is still very much so a child, but she can be mature, too. I'm lukewarm about her character.

~ possible spoilers ~

What really convinced me that this book was a 4 star, and not a 3.5, was the amount to which it affected me emotionally. From the moment (one of the girls) gets taken away by the man; from that moment on, I was just like wow. I was appalled by the actions of the man: slimy and disgusting and creepy and a whole lot of other negative adjectives. I was so so devastated by how such an innocent act, an innocent mistake led _____ to that street, to that man, into that door; halfway through the period of her entrapment, I was literally screaming at the book, "SMASH THE WINDOW AND JUMP!!!" I became so emotionally invested in the novel, and the situation, that I caught myself getting teary when the man STILL wouldn't let her go, was STILL believing that what he was doing was innocent and righteous; that she came to him, like she fricken-wanted to be there despite all her tears and yelling and thrashing about. Also, there's this moment near the end of thenovel that brought goosebumps to form all along my arms. It was simply so, so good.


~ end spoilers ~



Missing Girl is a short read that explores such a pressing issue that is still occurring in our community, and for the most part, Mazer beautifully conveyed the true essence of a family; how one little action can lead to something disastrous, and that everyone is lost.

If you're a parent who wants to scare their children into never ever speaking to strangers, give them this book.

Quotes:
He told you not to cry, but tears keep leaking out of your eyes. And you're glad, because those tears belong to you. They're yours. Your tears. He can't have them. He can't touch them. They're all yours. (p. 172)

Buy:
Live in Australia?
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile


Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository

I am in no way affiliated with the above sites, nor with Mazer or the publisher. I do not receive any money for reviewing or linking.

Links:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend Question (5): Books by their cover


Weekend Question is hosted at Liz at Cleverly Inked. Every weekend, a bookish question will be asked. This week's question was quite fun, and had me ransacking my "read" list. The decision was quite difficult, since many of my read books are DEPRESSING.

Weekend Question:

Do you judge a book by it's cover? If so which is your favorite?

I judge books FIRST by their cover, but if there is enough buzz around a book and good reviews (such as for the Ganzfield series, whose book covers are so different and simple in a way that people can easily overlook them) I'd definitely be raring to check it out. ;) There are way too many amazing book covers out in the YA market right now. It is impossible to choose just ONE.

For publicity's sake, I'll reveal the cover of SWEETLY, the companion novel to SISTERS RED by Jackson Pearce, which is pretty cool. :)

ARC - subject to change in future.
Yo! Are you interested in joining in the weekly meme, too? Make sure to link back to Liz @ Cleverly Inked!

Friday, October 29, 2010

[Giveaway] Elevensies Love ♥

I do not own this graphic. If that wasn't obvious.
So 2010 is drawing to a close, and so are debut novels for the TENNERS! However, because I don't want to leave any of them out . . . YA/MG debuts from October-December will be in the bag, too!

To provide you information on my little contest, I'll be using "the formula".

What?
- One "Elevensie" (2011 YA/MG Debut) pre-order
- One "10'er" Oct-Dec pre-order (or order)

Who?
Anyone! I will primarily be ordering through The Book Depository. However, if you are unlucky and they don't ship to you, I'll order it and personally forward it to you. 2 winners! First winner chooses whether they want the "Elevensie" or the "10'er".

When?
30th October - 20th November (GMT +10:00, at 22:00)

Where?
On the internet, silly!

How?
Fill in the FORM.

Why? 
Because free books are awesome, and I'm as excited as anyone about the upcoming year! Plus, I LOVE debut novels, and debut authors are the bomb. ;)

Thought this would be a nice early Christmas gift to 2 lucky readers.

No extra entries—that's not very Christmas-y!

Nope, don't even need to be a follower.
Though, I'll personally send you some swag if you are. :P And you win.

ALTHOUGH I'D LOVE TO OFFER ANY HARDBACK FOR PRE-ORDER/ORDER, I WILL HAVE TO RESTRICT THE PRICE FOR THE WINNERS' ORDERS TO $13 AUD EACH!!! ANYTHING MORE, YOU WILL NEED TO PAY THE EXCESS TO MY PAYPAL ACCOUNT. (I don't have extra more than $26 right now)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blog Hop (8) | Follow Friday (5)



Book Blogger Hop
Hey fellow bloggers and/or readers,

Thanks for hopping along to my little blog. :) Hope you enjoy your visit, and like what you see. If you do, feel free to follow. It's free!

If you'd like to hop around, too, then visit Jennifer at Crazy for Books for all the details! 

~~~

Here's this week's question:

"What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"


Of course, a MASSIVE bookshelf reading corner/room. A bookshelf full of so much win that I don't need to chuck books BEHIND books. Also, a good comfy mini-couch in my room (not that I have any space!) would make this girl very happy indeed!






Hosted by Parajunkee's View, another feature meme through which you can discover new blog sites. :) If you follow me, comment and I'll follow you back without fail.

Here's this week's question:

If you have, or would have a daughter, what book would you want your daughter to read?

I'd just want her to read, period! As a child, I didn't read that much, even missing out on Harry Potter until about year 8 (13/14 years old). It'd make me so proud if she loved contemporary YA novels as much as I did, but so long as she reads, I'll be happy either way.

(Obviously I don't have a daughter right now--come on, I'm 17 years old. )


What's up @ Words on Paper?

[Giveaway] Elevensies Love ♥ (2 winners, INTERNATIONAL, ends 20th November)
[Review] Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce (MG)
 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

[Review] Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce (MG)

Title: Big Nate Strikes Again
Author: Lincoln Peirce
Publication: 1 November 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Copy: ARC, review copy (Thanks to HarperCollins US!)
Pages: 215
My Rating:



Blurb:  
Big Nate will surpass all others!

But it wont be easy. He's stuck with Gina, his all time enemy, who just might ruin everything!

Will Nate win or lose? Pass or fail? Or end up in detention . . . again?

My thoughts: 

Yes, this is a middle-grade book. I received it for review, and how could I say 'no' to something that looks like such fun?

My God was this such an enjoyable read! At 200 pages and adorned with comic strips and pictures, this only took me an hour to read through. But what an hour it was! Big Nate has been compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and it apparently has its own comic strip in USA. That's pretty cool. Anyway, so this is Nate's second book, and while I haven't read the first book, I don't think it affected my reading of the book. It was so easy to get into and just read in one sitting. The characters were memorable, easy to remember, all had different personalities and APPEARANCES (very important for a comic) . . . Hilarious! The two main plots are: Nate has a major project to do with her archnemesis GINA as his partner, and Nate, captain, aims to win at Fluffball (indoors baseball).

What I absolutely love in a book is pictures, which I guess has the same effect as verse novels do. They're just prettier to look at and get through without having to THINK really hard. Which is what I definitely did not need to do when reading Big Nate Strikes Again. I recommend it to fans of the comic strip and of the first book, as well as little children (years 8-12, more boys than girls I'd say, but I enjoyed it anyway).

In its own genre (MG), it definitely deserves a 4.5/5.

Buy:
Live in Australia?
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository

I am in no way affiliated with the above sites, nor with Peirce or publisher. I do not receive any money for reviewing or linking.

Learn more about Big Nate Strikes Again and read more reviews at Goodreads!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (12): In the Shadow of the Lamp

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

For this week, I am swooning over
In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap, which is due for release on April 2011!


Why In the Shadow of the Lamp?
Thoroughly enjoyed Susanne's previous novel, Anastasia's Secret, and I'm so stoked about this new-ish historical YA author! I really can't wait to get my hands on this one--it looks really good!

Synopsis (Goodreads):
It's 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding teacher.

Before long, the plight of British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy as Molly finds that she's falling in love with both a dashing young doctor and a soldier who has joined the army to be near her. But with the battle raging ever nearer, can Molly keep the two men she cares for from harm?

A love story to savor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes imagining of the woman who became known as "the lady with the lamp."

Links:
Goodreads page
Susanne Dunlap's site


Thanks for visiting my weekly WoW post. 2011 is continuing to look like a really promising year in the YA book department. ♥


While you're here...
Check out my review for Anastasia's Secret!

Check out my review for Embrace


What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 25, 2010

[Review] Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Title: Embrace
Author:Jessica Shirvington
Publication: 14th October 2010
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Review Copy: PB, for review (Thanks Hachette!)
Pages: 380
Series: First in a planned series
My Rating:


Blurb:  
I slowly opened my eyes. The sun speared its first bright rays of golden orange into the sky and I leapt from the cliff, with the sorrowful knowledge that no matter what the outcome, at least part of me would die that day...

Violet Eden is dreading her seventeenth birthday dinner. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. The one bright spot is that Lincoln will be there. Sexy, mature and aloof, he is Violet’s idea of perfection. But why does he seem so reluctant to be anything more than a friend?

After he gives her the world’s most incredible kiss – and then abandons her on her front doorstep – Violet is determined to get some answers. But nothing could have prepared her for Lincoln’s explanation: he is Grigori – part angel and part human – and Violet is his eternal partner.

Without warning, Violet’s world is turned upside down. She never believed in God, let alone angels. But there’s no denying the strange changes in her body ... and her feelings for Lincoln. Suddenly, she can’t stand to be around him. Luckily, Phoenix, an exiled angel, has come into her life. He’s intense and enigmatic, but at least he never lied to her.

As Violet gets caught up in an ancient battle between dark and light, she must choose her path. The wrong choice could cost not only her life, but her eternity...

My thoughts: 

Short Version:
Embrace is a compelling and extravagantly imaginative and fresh new take on the angel mythology in YA fiction. The characters were portrayed well in a way that made me actually care for their survival, with a compelling storyline to drive through the novel; Jessica Shirvington's writing had me racing to the end. For fans of the paranormal genre, of action, of hot guys: Embrace is definitely a must-read!

Essay Version:
I am ashamed to say that Embrace was my first 'angel' book. However, I really enjoyed it; Embrace is probably the first paranormal YA title that I REALLY enjoyed, and one that I am definitely going to pursue on to the next titles in the series. That is not to say, that there aren't other paranormals that I've read in the past that I wouldn't have wanted to read the next titles; it's more like, with this one, I'm dying to read more.

In Embrace, we are introduced to a location, somewhere on Earth. It is never actually specified, nor is there ever much scenery or ambiance described from scene to scene. However, many paranormal titles seem to skimp the details, and just get to the dialogue and action, which Jessica Shirvington executed with finesse in Embrace.

     They exchanged blow after blow, all at lightning speed. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it. The blond was so fast, sending his fist into Phoenix's face with punishing force, throwing him across the width of the alley and into the brick wall. Amazingly, it barely slowed Phoenix, who was back up faster than I could track with my human sight. Phoenix didn't hesitate in his retaliation. He was a beautiful, lethal machine - lithe and fluid as he weaved and dodged the exile's blows. (p. 132)

In this world, we have Violet, the main character--who has worked hard at maintaining a normal life, after what her teacher did to her at her old school years ago. She has the best friend in the world, Steph--who we are introduced to in the first page--who loves to shop and talk about boys. And then there's Lincoln, the boy that 'Vi' has been crushing on for way too long, the boy who is 'just friends'. Her world is spun upside down when she discovers she's not as normal as everyone else at school; she's special, and it all started when her mother died with her birth...

First, the 'features' of the actual book. The quality of the paperback is superb; the pages are white as though they've been bleached, not to mention VERY flickable and smooth. You may find it strange that I have to mention these things. Well, I absolutely love it when a book has been made so well, and it compels me to pick it up even more. Of course, the cover is the first aspect.
The model used for the book cover is gorgeous, and really suits it once you've read it. The pose is so very Violet, and the colours used--purple, violet? The cover designer (Xou Creative) did a fantastic job, despite the fact that there wasn't enough of a paranormal element in it. I think it's strikingly beautiful in all its simplicity. The purple wings are simply divine...

Every chapter is marked with a quote, sometimes biblical ('There are things even angels desire to look to.' Peter 1:12), others from philosophers ('Our duty is to be useful, not according to our desires but according to our powers.' Henri Frederic Amiel). These reflected on the kind of thing that was going to be addressed in that given chapter, and gave it a little bit more colour, more sacrilegious.

The writing is brilliant; Shirvington let the words flow, which made it that much easier to read through. Embrace is written in first person, past, in Violet's perspective. As with most other paranormal titles, her voice is, for the most part, sarcastic and unwilling to succumb to others' desires, and in that, she is established as a strong-willed and very capable female protagonist. I actually quite liked Violet, despite her almost-nonsensical switching between the two angels who vie for her attention: love triangle. (Twilight, anyone?) Her barely-there father is about all the family we ever see in Embrace, and while there is some interaction between the two, I hope for more; I really like it when authors write familial interactions, because it's not as common as I believe it should be.

Quotes:
       Finally, she spun to glare at me accusingly.
       "'This is all your fault! He's been so worried about you he hasn't been able to function. He doesn't eat.' She wrinkled her nose at the dirty plates. 'Well . . . not to his normal standard. He hasn't slept in days. He blames himself for everything. That's why it was so easy for Onyx to overpower him. Even now . . .' She pushed aside a plate in the sink so she could fit a glass under the tap and it set off a domino effect - the whole pile of plates shifting and clunking. I heard a crack. She persisted anyway, blasting water into the glass and slamming it on the counter after barely a sip. 'He's asking for his rainbow,' she scoffed.
       'What is it with all this rainbow crap?' I asked, turning to Griffin and blanking Magda. It was either that or giving her a one-fingered salute. (p. 234)

Buy:
Live in Australia?
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository

I am in no way affiliated with the above sites, nor with Shirvington or the publisher. I do not receive any money for reviewing or linking.

Learn more about Embrace and read more reviews at Goodreads!

Trailer:



Links:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's do this: WRITE!


 I wish I could say I'm sorry for the pun in the title, but come on; it was clever and you know it. ;)

Yes, I'm a part of it. For all those who don't know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which goes from November 1st to the 30th, and in that time everyone who pledges participation in the event must write a 50,000 word novel...or more.

Sounds crazy, huh?

Why did I join? Because I have so much free time during November that I can waste it. So, in an attempt to be productive, I'll be flailing about in an attempt to produce a novel. That's it. The novel won't be good or anything, and this is my first NaNoWriMo, so in no way do I think it'll be any good.

I'm not aspiring to being an author, so this is just for fun. To support and join many other bloggers out there! If you're also a part of this, comment with your username and I'll add you to my buddy list! We can motivate each other. ;)

My username is: cass_wordsonpaper

If you add me to your writing buddies list and I don't add you back, shoot me a comment or an email and I'll see to it that I do. ;) We need all the buddies we can get. Writing is difficult.


What am I writing? I honestly have no idea. :) Aren't I awesome? No, seriously. I have my last exam for high school, EVER, on the 3rd of November. On the 3rd, I'll rush into writing up character descriptions, plot, title, and go from there. I can say with certainty: my novel will be a contemporary YA. I plan not to have too much romance in it, because I know I won't be able to make it work. I won't be able to make it believable, and if I do write romance, it'll be sappy and make people want to barf. :P

Are you insane!? Yes. Join me! :D You know you want to.

Pho-spiration




For all you "nano"'s: we have one more week until the writing begins! "Embark on this journey with me", as some philosophers and settlers might have said in the past. Or maybe just my English teacher (who would be either thrilled or frightened at the thought of: me writing a novel).

How are you going to go about writing your novel? Have you set yourself a goal for each day?

You can get to 50, 000 if...

- you write around 1700 words a day
- you do this
- you become a pantser
- you throw away your social life, your working life, your school life :) Fortunately, I will have none of these in November, anyway. (perhaps a bit of a social life...)
- you just write
- you use "fillers" and overly describe your scenes and actions. Apparently people are doing it!


You get the point, right? Anyway, NaNoWriMo is not all about writing 50,000 words--at its core, NaNoWriMo is about having fun, writing more than you normally would throughout the year, being insane, getting your brain juice flowing . . . 

You can still write AND read, right?


Saturday, October 23, 2010

In My Mailbox (13)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.

This IMM is for two weeks of mail. I'm very happy to have received so much swag. :) I have a few things on the way. I bought at least 8 books, which I haven't done in a long time, buy books; so I should have quite a bit to report back in 2 weeks. No IMM next week either, due to more time constraints. P;


For Review

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington 
(Thanks Hachette!)


Won
Firelight (Firelight, #1) by Sophie Jordan (Steph @ The Thoughts of a Book Junky)
Adversary (Ganzfield, #2) by Kate Kaynak (Kate Kaynak @ Disgruntled Bear)
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Missie @ The Unread Reader)

Clockwork Angel swag
(signed poster, notebook, 2 bookmarks, Zombies vs. Unicorns teaser)

Beautiful Creatures / Darkness swag
(1 BC sticker, 1 BD keychain, 3 BC/BD necklaces, 3 BC/BD wristbands, willow tree stamp&ink, 2 buttons, 1 Bad Girls Don't Die bookmark, 1 BC bookplate)

Bought


Bookmooch


Library

Netgalley

Angelfire (Angelfire, #1) by Courtney Allison Moulton
The Lying Game
by Sara Shepard
Unearthly
by Cynthia Hand
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
The Oracle Rebounds
(The Oracle of Dating, #2) by Allison van Diepen
Savannah Grey
by Cliff McNish
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
by Elizabeth Laird
My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star
by Joyce Raskin



 
Oh yes, you bet I will be giving some of these away in the future.

~~~

Packages (7)



What did you get in your mailbox? ;)




What's going on this week?
  • Currently Reading: Delirium by Lauren Oliver (Net Galley)
  • Next up: Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati
  • A Trailer, A Movie, and a Tour (Matched, If I Stay & Where She Went; respectively)
  • Reviewed: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood, Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap
  • Upcoming Reviews: Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce, Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer
  • Read: Embrace by Jessica Shirvington, Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer

Weekend Question (4): Living in books...


Weekend Question is hosted at Liz at Cleverly Inked. Every weekend, a bookish question will be asked. This week's question was quite fun, and had me ransacking my "read" list. The decision was quite difficult, since many of my read books are DEPRESSING.

Weekend Question:

If you could choose to live in any one book, which would it be?
I'd kind of like to step into the world of You Wish by Mandy Hubbard. I'd love to ride that pink My Little Pony while Kayla is off at school or wherever, and driving around in Ken's cool car when she tells him to go for a hike. Furthermore, there'd be an endless amount of gumballs lying around--can anyone say "endless nutrition"?

You interested in joining in the weekly meme, too? Head over to Cleverly Inked and hop on board!

Friday, October 22, 2010

[Review] Anastasia's Secret by Susanne Dunlap

Title: Anastasia' Secret
Author: Susanne Dunlap
Publication: 25 October 2010 (Australia)
Publisher: Penguin
Review Copy: PB, review copy (Thanks to Penguin!)
Pages: 330
Series: Standalone
My Rating:


Blurb:  
The Romanov family have been ousted from the imperial palace by the Bolsheviks and exiled to Siberia. Life as a privileged member of the Russian Royalty has come to a shattering end.

As the debate about their future rages within the ranks of the newly empowered, Anastasia, youngest daughter of the Tsar Nicholas, discovers love – and with it all the secrets and danger this brings into her strange new life.

Will the strength of that love be enough to save Anastasia from her tragic fate? What happened in the last days of the Romanov family? And did Russia's last princess live in love after all?

Inspired by the masteries that have long surrounded the last days of the Romanov family, Susanne Dunlap's new novel is a haunting vision of the life – and imagined love story – of Russia's last princess.

My thoughts: 

Forgive me if any of my historical references are inaccurate! I'm not much of a stickler for history!

          In Anastasia’s Secret, the plot follows Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova—the youngest Grand Duchess of the Russian Royal Family—as she, and her family, goes through the events during her childhood that are still so famous to this day. If you are aware of the events that follow the fall of the Russian “old traditions” and the Imperial family, you’ll have an edge-up on what happens in the novel, because it does follow it quite well, to my understanding.

          First up, Ms. Dunlap graciously begins with a few reference pages with characters' names, and brief descriptions on each. There are also some explanations as to the different "classes" of that society, and how names are formed in Russia: all proving to be quite helpful during my reading of the novel.

          The characters, while many, as is made instantaneously apparent when opening the first page to see a whole plethora of the descriptions of individuals' names, are relatively easy to keep up with. Each character has nicknames and such, which assist in remembering each of them. I, myself, really liked Mashka (Marie, the 3rd born), Sasha (Mikhailovich, the guard, Ana’s love interest) and, of course, Anastasie (Anastasia). The romance between Sasha and Anastasia was so sweet, but at times a bit frustrating, because their love could never have been truly realised. While in history, there was not a "Sasha"--he is Dunlap's creation--this did not make his existence (or non-existence) any less magical or tragic.

          I really enjoyed the writing style of the novel. Dunlap did a nice job of being quite clear in description, and every action, every bit of dialogue, to me, was well executed. While some may argue on this point, I was intrigued with everything this book had to offer. There was romance, there was truthfulness (due to the fact that this is, in fact, a re-telling, or Dunlap’s interpretation of events), mystery, tragedy . . . As a person who has not been privy to extensive knowledge on Russia during the WWI period, I was able to appreciate and remain enchanted and hopelessly entranced by Anastasia’s Secret. I was glad that I was able to follow the storyline with ease.

          One thing that I thought did not work very well was the ending. I did not believe Dunlap dealt with it very well. SPOILER? The end of the narrative (Anastasie's voice) is one of hope as she and her family embark on towards Yekaterinburg. Then, Anastasia seems to finalise the story with conveying her undying love for Sasha, even when she dies. Aaand then we have an Epilogue. While a nice way to save little children from reading something "first-hand" and therefore more personal and violent, the recount-style telling of their deaths pales in comparison to what Dunlap could have done with it.


          Anastasia’s Secret is full of intrigue, romance, and, as a semi-fictional retelling of what is—and will always be—a devastating, tragic historical event, Dunlap has done a fantastic job with keeping both authenticity and a heart-wrenching romance throughout her novel.

Quotes:
I was very small the first time someone told me the story of the day I was born. There were no terrible storms. No comets flew across the sky. Mama had an easy birth--I was the fourth child, so she was used to it. All that happened was that my father left the palace and went for a long walk alone in the gardens at Peterhof. He probably smoked while he walked. He enjoyed cigarettes and often gave them to us as a treat when we were older. He had to compose himself so that he would be able to smile and tell my mother he was glad that he had a fourth daughter instead of the long wished-for son, a tsarevich to continue the Romanov line. A tsarevich to continue three hundred years of history.
     But three years later Alexei was born, and everyone was happy.
(p. 3, ch. 1)
Perhaps the most extraordinary time was in the summer, though, when we took the imperial train to Mogilev to visit Papa and Alexei at the front. It wasn't really the front, in that there was no fighting nearby. But occasionally we could hear the distant guns, like thunder.
(p. 97, ch. 11)
Buy:
Live in Australia?
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository

I am in no way affiliated with the above sites, nor with Dunlap or publisher. I do not receive any money for reviewing or linking.

Links:
Anastasia's Secret at Penguin
Site | Blog
Twitter







More Reviews:

ALPHA Reader | Book Couture

Learn more about Anastasia's Secret and read more reviews at Goodreads


Other books by this author:
 
Susanne's YA debut, The Musician's Daughter. I'm definitely going to be picking this one up. I'm glad I discovered this historical author!!
Murder and lovefrom the halls of Vienna’s imperial family to a perilous gypsy camp

Amid the glamour of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy’s court in 18th-century Vienna, murder is afoot. Or so fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria is convinced when her musician father turns up dead on Christmas Eve, his valuable violin missing, and the only clue to his death a strange gold pendant around his neck . . .
Ms. Dunlap's next novel, In the Shadow of the Lamp, due for release April 12, 2011!
A love story to savor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes imagining of the woman who became known as "the lady with the lamp." 

A trailer, a movie, and a tour.

The Trailer

Matched.

Releasing next month (December 12th for Australia), Matched is a love story set in a dystopic, futuristic world; and in the Society, they decide.


In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.


 

At first, I can't say I loved the trailer. However, I went back to it, and it's not half bad. It's actually pretty good. Also, the site has changed. It's looking quite spiffy, and you can even GET MATCHED, if you have a Facebook account. ;)

The Movie

No doubt you've heard of If I Stay, a contemporary YA novel that focuses on Mia, a car crash, death, mortality, memory, family . . .  love. Hauntingly beautiful, a stoic and poignant tale of a heartwrenching and trialing period of a young girl's life. Definitely a must-read. Anyway, Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay, has received much news on the progress with its movie. The movie will be produced by the same people as that big vampire 'saga' everyone is talking about (Please. I don't need to say what it is, right?)

Information is about the new director, possible Mia (who is she? :P), and crystallises the fact that a movie is going to happen! *squee*

Tweets by Gayle Forman:
: Dakota Fanning in talks for supernatural project 'If I Stay' -
Dakota Fanning is in talks for 'If I Stay.' Is it the right career move?  
Yes, Dakota's in talks for Mia. And yes, we have a new director, a very cool sounding one. . Yippie!

The Tour

So this is a double-whammy for Gayle Forman. :) I love her too much; there can never be enough Gayle Forman.

For all of you who don't know, Where She Went (pictured left), is the sequel to If I Stay. If you do not know that, haven't read IIS, please stop reading and go out and read it!!

Anyway, I'll just get on with it. Holly at Good Golly Miss Molly is hosting an ARC tour for it!! This really got me excited, since it's going to be a while before it releases. I'm so glad that Holly opened this up for the international readers and bloggers, or just those who are not on Dutton's good side. If people keep on commenting expressing their interest, it's very possible that Holly will have a second ARC in the future. ;) There are already 10+ participants, but list yourself down anyway, because luck may be on your side!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

[Review] The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

Title: The Poison Diaries
Author: Maryrose Wood
Publication: 27 May 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Review Copy: PB, won (Thanks, Alessandra!)
Pages: 237
My Rating:


Blurb from Goodreads:  
Jessamine Luxson lives with her father, Thomas, an apothecary, in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle. Thomas’s pride and obsession is his locked garden full of dangerous plants, which Jessamine is forbidden to enter.

When a traveler brings an orphan to their cottage, he claims the boy has special gifts that Thomas might value. Jessamine is drawn to the strange but intriguing boy, called Weed. Soon their friendship deepens into love. Finally, Weed shares his secret: He can communicate with plants. For him they have distinct personalities—and some are even murderous. From the locked garden the poisonous plants call to Weed, luring him with promises of deadly power.

When Jessamine falls inexplicably ill, only Weed’s relationship with the Poisons can save her. But Thomas is determined to exploit Weed’s abilities, even if it risks Jessamine’s life—or drives Weed to the brink of madness.…

My thoughts: 

First off, I think I like the UK cover (pictured) than the US cover. The UK cover portrays the idea of poison more coherently, and definitely emanates a darker idea of the novel. Plus, the colours are really cool. The blue/green, and then there is the gold...the contrast is nice. It is one of my favourite UK covers I have on my bookshelf right now.

The story that Maryrose Wood introduced me, was one with wonder and was of a complete different place and era entirely. The beginning is pretty slow, like, the first few chapters felt like a fricken' memoir to me! However, when Weed, with whom Jessamine becomes attached to, comes along; that's when the story becomes interesting and actually dared me to continue reading on.

There are few main characters, which is good for this kind of novel, given its short length. It allowed for focus on each character, and also explored each character's personality and mannerisms thoroughly. I liked the relationship between Jessamine and Weed. It was slow-moving, like a real relationship should be, which added more realism to their devotion to one another in the second half of the novel. Also, upon reading the novel, the family secrets uncovered are just DELICIOUS, HEARTBREAKING, SHOCKING . . ., and ultimately, left me upon reflection on my own family.

However, I was unable to LOVE any one character. I was, in honesty, detached. This may be told in first person, but since it is written in a form of "diary" narrative, I still felt like I was on the outside. Which is fine...but I just didn't have a side to root for when the time called for it. It left me pondering: when one has an aim, can the means by which that aim is sought over really justify all that has been done? It was thought-provoking, which I believe is a good thing. :)

I like the plant allusions throughout the novel. It was fresh and different. I had never read any flower or plant novel before, so this was a nice change from my normal reads. Also, that each plant held a different personality gave the novel a richer taste as a whole.

Lastly, the ending was a bit abrupt, and left me with lingering emotions. Gosh, it's really really good! In that, it makes me want to read the sequel, I hunger for the sequel! I wish it were out now, but dreams are often left unfulfilled when in the bout of a selfish person, so I shall wait it out.

Trailer:



Buy:
Live in Australia?
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

Live elsewhere?
Amazon | The Book Depository

I am in no way affiliated with the above sites, nor with Wood or publisher. I do not receive any money for reviewing or linking.

Learn more about The Poison Diaries and read more reviews at Goodreads!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (11): Shadows on the Moon


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

For this week, I am swooning over
Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott, which is due for release on July 2011!

Title: Shadows on the Moon
Author: Zoë Marriott
Release Date: July 2011
Labels: YA, fairytales, culture diversity (Japanese culture), fantasy, adventure


Why I'm Waiting on Shadows on the Moon:
First off, Zoë can write one hell of a paragraph. I've read many of her teasers for this book, and a bit of her previous book Daughter of the Flames, and she has such a keen knowledge on words. Also, this one has Japanese culture and the like, and I'm hugely interested in it all. (I think I'm still studying Japanese... :P) And look at that cover! Very pretty. :) 

Synopsis (Goodreads):

"Basically, it's Cinderella, turned on its head and set in a faerytale version of Feudal Japan. It's a story about revenge, and obsession and about magic, and about what happens when people lie to themselves and others. But mostly - and most importantly - it's about love, in all its varied, beautiful and frightening forms." --Zoë Marriott

Links:
Goodreads page
Zoë Marriott's site


Thanks for visiting my weekly WoW post. 2011 is continuing to look like a promising year in the YA book department. ♥


While you're here...
Check out my review for A Blue So Dark by Lisa Schroeder!!!
What are you waiting on this week?
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