Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Amazing Giveaways

     I haven't done a post about giveaways/contests in a while, but I thought you might like to know that there are some great giveaways going on as we speak...
     Jessica at Confessions of a Bookaholic has several contests underway. She has a Top 10 of 2010 feature that comes with a lovely little surprise at the end: books! You can possibly win Nevermore, Clockwork Angel, or Mockingjay, in addition to a copy of The Haunted by Jessica Verday with each of the books previously listed. As if that isn't enough, she is also giving away a copy of Loser/Queen by Jodi Lynn Anderson.
     Brandi over at Blkosiner's Book Blog also has a few contests going on. The best by far (in my opinion) is her giveaway of The Locket by Stacey Jay. It sounds like just the kind of book I would love and her interview with Stacey Jay was great. Stacey seems very awesome and funny. Cheese anyone? :) Brandi also has a giveaway going on for Born At Midnight.
    Kate at I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read! has two awesome giveaways taking place. Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings  by Helene Boudreau(wow, what a mouthful!) and Out For Blood  by Alyxandra Harvey are being given away and they sound rather interesting.
     Up for grabs from Teens Read and Write are copies of Hearts At Stake and Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey. I suppose if you won both of these in addition to the giveaway from Kate, you would be in luck! Personally, I'm hoping to win Losing Faith by Denise Jaden!
     Last, but certainly not least, Kirthi at Pages is giving away a copy of Entice by Carrie Jones. I've heard great things about Entice, so I'll definitely be entering!
     If I were you, I'd be racing over to each of these sites to enter! Good luck to you all! :D

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Falalalala lala la LA!

     I hope all of you who celebrate the holiday have a very merry Christmas! If you don't celebrate, then have a lovely day anyway! Spend some time with family and remember all of the good times you've had. I know I will be doing something along those lines... in addition to eating my weight in food and hot chocolate. :D
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (December 17-20)

     It's Christmas Break, finally! Oh, how I've missed my long days of sleeping and immediately, upon waking up, curling up with a book. :D I plan to get plenty of reading done before school resumes. Plus, it is the perfect time for lots of hot tea, holiday movies, visiting with friends and family, and generally relaxing.
Book Blogger Hop
Question of the Week:
     What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?
     Hey, this is my question! That's super exciting! Thank you Jennifer, for picking my question, and of course for the hop in general.
     I think that the plot is most important at first. You have to be interested enough to learn about the characters. I suppose sometimes books that don't have such wonderful characters can get away with it if the plot is beyond exciting. In my experience, the story doesn't really stick with you though, because there aren't any memorable characters. I can live with a book that isn't very exciting, if the characters are intriguing.
     So, to sum up my rambling, I think characters are the most important. They are what drive the story, and create the plot anyway. Obviously, the best books are the ones with both fabulous characters and an interesting storyline.

     What is your opinion? Are character-driven books better than plot-driven ones (or vice versa)?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

     Jenn Leitner has been living at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. There she has been training to become the next Hunter in order to rid the world of vampires. Despite their promises of peace, Jenn doesn't trust the vampires.
     The vampires have been gaining power, so when Jenn is called back to the US after he grandfather dies, she is in terrible danger. She has to watch her back at every turn. Then she is betrayed and the fight for her life is on.

     I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was interesting and well thought out. Plus, the writing was great! The premise of the book was cool. I liked how it was reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but still far from it. The world that Holder and Viguie created was not unlike our own. It was modern day, but with a twist: vampires not only exist, but they are taking over. This sets up the rest of the story because Jenn and the rest of the Salamancan team have to protect humanity from the rising powers, something that is not an easy task.
     I'm not entirely fond of Jenn. She was too condescending. Not to other people, but to herself. In her eyes, she was 'just Jenn'. She doesn't see anything special about herself, which kind of makes me mad. I wanted her to take charge of her life instead of floating behind, worrying that she wasn't good enough to be a hunter. I think her partners wanted the same thing for her. They wanted Jenn to come back to reality and see that she was much more than she thought.
     Antonio, what a character. He was fighting himself more than anything in this novel and it was heartbreaking to watch him go through that. Antonio is probably the character I rooted for the most. I think that we were able to get inside his head even more than Jenn's. Despite everything, he somehow managed to keep his faith, and I admire that.
     Eriko was the team's Japanese leader. She was not what I expected. You would think that a leader would be strong and comfortable with their role. You might even think that they would have control over those they lead. Eriko was different though. She was more meek and mild than fierce. She was quiet and just there instead of commanding.
     Holgar was awesome! He was witty, but very kind. I felt bad for him though. It couldn't have been easy being the only werewolf at the academy.
     Jamie and Skye were the hardest for me to figure out. I mean, we learned a little about their pasts, but not enough for me. I really hope the next book(s) will delve deeper into who they are as people, separate from the team. Jamie was definitely fiery enough to make up for not knowing much about him though. I simultaneously wanted to smack him and burst out laughing. He was just so rude! Skye wasn't my favorite character because I couldn't connect with her. She was an awesome witch, but so naive.
     What made this book unique in comparison to other vampire-related books for me were the passages from Jenn's diary at the beginning of some of the chapters, or the snippets of the Hunter's Manual. They helped you understand what was going on in the world by describing the past. While I did enjoy this book, I thought some of it seemed a little too strained. It didn't flow as well as I would have liked and the dialogue left a bit to be desired at times. Regardless, I am looking forward to a sequel. I hope that the characters personalities will be divulged in more detail as the series continues. Well, I think it is going to  be a series... it was left wide open.
     Rating: 6

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beastly by Alex Flinn

     Kyle Kingsbury is the gorgeous, perfect, popular kid of Tuttle (a prestigious NYC private school). His father is a rich and famous news anchor. He gets everything he wants, in addition to all that he needs. Kyle is not a nice person though, and he is far from happy. After a particularly cruel episode, a witch changes Kyle into a beast. To break the spell, he must find his true love...

     Basically, this is a retelling of the classic story Beauty and the Beast. Of course, it is much more than that. I absolutely loved Alex Flinn's writing.
     Kyle's transformation was amazing to watch. He went from being a conceited jerk to being such a sweet, caring person. The change was gradual though. First, he had to get past the fact that he didn't look like Kyle Kingsbury anymore. Sadly, that seemed to be the hardest part for him. It made me realize how fixated our society is on looks. His entire reputation was based upon his beauty, and the money obviously, but mainly his looks. When he lost that, he lost himself because without being Kyle Kingsbury, the guy every other Tuttle student looked up to, the guy who made fun of those beneath him, the guy who thought anyone who wasn't generically beautiful (blond hair, blue eyes, and especially thin) must be ugly, he was just Kyle. Kyle, whose mother left at an early age and whose father was busy with work.
     When he was changed into a beast, he didn't know what to do with himself. Now he was the 'ugly' one. So, who was he without being handsome? Thus, we are lead on his quest to find out who he really is.
     Along with Kyle, we meet some new characters that give some of my other favorites a run for their money. Will is blind, but extremely smart. He is great and he truly helps Kyle find himself. He is one of the only people who cares for Kyle, despite his appearance. Of course, Will can't see, so it can't possibly bother him! Magda is motherly, since his own mother is not there. She cooks food for him and talks to him. She is just generally there for him.
     I can't believe I've missed out on such a wonderful book for so long! Honestly, the only problem I had with the book was that it had to end. Flinn did a wonderful job delving into Kyle's mind and developing him as a character. Even before he was changed, he was still deep. He had more on his mind than you might have thought. The dialogue was spot on as well. There weren't any irregularities in their speech. It sounded just right every time. I also loved her descriptions. I could truly see the city streets, the house, the beautiful roses, everything!
     Rating: 10

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

     I was so happy to get my hands on another book by this wonderful author. It felt wonderful to slip back into the world of the Shadowhunters!

     When Tessa's Aunt Harriet dies, Tessa sails to London to live with her brother, Nate. When she arrives at the port, Nate is nowhere to be seen. Tessa is kidnapped by the Dark Sisters who insist that she has some magical ability. They torture her and force her to use this ability, one that she has just realized she possesses, to their own benefit.
     After she escapes from the Dark Sisters, Tessa takes refuge at the Institute. There she meets Shadowhunters and begins unraveling mysteries about herself, her family, and the new world she has just discovered.

     Over all, I really enjoyed Clockwork Angel. It was amazing, as all of Clare's work is. The characters have depth and the plot is truly enthralling. I like the time period that it is set in. It adds to the feel of the book greatly.
     The beginning of this novel really freaked me out. It was actually scary. Of course, this could have been added to by the fact that I started it at night... Either way, Cassandra Clare began the book in a very unique way. It gave you a look at Tessa's normal life, before it was snatched away. She is just standing on the dock, wondering where her brother could be. If that isn't the picture of normalcy, I'm not sure what is. Within the next several pages, Tessa has been introduced to a new world though.
     I really find it amazing that Tessa can even hold herself together through all of the things she is put through. She is a very vivid and strong character. Sometimes, she gets a little sassy which is hilarious. Most of the time though, she is perfectly civil. With everyone except Will, that is. 
     Will is annoying. I can't decide exactly what I think of him because every time I think he is going to do the right thing, he goes and messes it up! No wonder Tessa gets so frustrated with him. He can be so nice and so sweet. Then he turns around and tries to be all macho, as if nothing can hurt him. His only weakness seems to be Jem.
     Jem is the nicest guy I have ever met (so what if I feel like he is real?). He is unassuming and just goes with the flow. Despite his illness, he does his best in the Shadowhunting world which simply isn't very well-suited for him anymore. I feel so bad for him. If only he were real, I would give him a hug!
     I can't say enough to express my love of this book. I wasn't sure what to expect from a spin-off of the Mortal Instruments series, but I was definitely pleased. It just feels so good reading about them. It is like wearing your favorite, most comfortable pajamas. I can't explain it any better than that. It's fantastic. If you haven't given this book a chance yet, you are missing out big time!
     Rating: 10
Favorite quote:
     "Remember when you tried to convince me to feed a poultry pie to the mallards in the park to see if you could breed a race of cannibal ducks?"
     "They ate it too, " Will reminisced. "Bloodthirsty little beasts. Never trust a duck."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (December 3-6)

     Oh, dear. I have a million things to finish in the next week! It's almost Christmas Break for me, so I have exams and all sorts of things due, not to mention the studying for aforementioned exams! I was planning on getting some extra credit in too... we'll see how that works out.
     How have your weeks been going? Is everybody getting into the Christmas spirit yet?
Book Blogger Hop
Question of the Week:
     What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?
     There hasn't really been a popular book that I haven't liked, not one I can think of right now at least. I suppose Dear John had a lot of hype because of the movie and I wasn't such a fan of that. I felt fine posting my review about it. The only problem is that I didn't want to completely bash the book, because there were good things about it. Because I couldn't really connect with the material, it was difficult expressing my opinion about it though.

     What about you? What super popular book didn't strike your fancy?

Winners of My Gratitude Giveaway

     I'm so sorry it has taken me this long to pick and announce winners! I got super busy. So, as you know, there are two winners who will each win a hardcover copy of Crusade! The winners will have 1 week to respond before I pick runner(s)-up to get the prize, instead. I have e-mailed you both.
     Now, onto what you all must be on the edge of your seat waiting to hear. :) The winners, which were picked using, are:
1. Ferretvamp14
2. Maureen

     Congratulations to the winners! I hope you all enjoy the book as much as I did.