Saturday, August 18, 2012

Alice in Everville in the Blogosphere!

Alice in Everville is still a little over 6 months away from releasing, but last week it popped up on a book Alex Bennett's amazing Electrifying Reviews.  Electrifying Reviews was one of the first blogs I found when I began seriously reading book blogs, probably about two years ago, so I was SUPER excited to see Alice in Everville pop up as one of Alex's Future Reads.  The fact that my book is really going to be out there in the world is starting to feel so real...and exciting...and scary... and maybe even a bit electrifying, for me if for no one else!  Anyway, you can check out Alex's post, including the other amazing books he's looking forward to, here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday

Weigh in Wednesday is a meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is...

reading a book vs. listening to an audiobook.

So first I apologize for missing the last two weeks--I've been crazy busy!  I had to participate this week, though, because I love this question.  My answer is, in general, I prefer reading a book, but there are occasions when I prefer audiobooks, and I really like doing both.

I generally prefer reading because I think it's a more immersive experience--there's no narrator standing between you and the text, and it's less likely your mind will start to wander while reading versus while listening to an audiobook.  Plus it's easier to go back and check something in an actual book, rather than rewinding and trying to find it in an audiobook.  In addition, a bad narrator can ruin a good book, so you have to be careful about that.

On the other hand, I love audiobooks because they've allowed me to experience so many books that I wouldn't have time to otherwise.  I don't have a car, so I listen to audiobooks on my ipod while I'm walking and running errands, and while I'm working out.  I'm able to listen at least two hours a day, which adds up to about 100 extra books per year.  In addition, audiobooks are great for those books you read a while ago, don't quite remember but don't want to devote the time to rereading in print, or if you want a refresher on earlier books in a series before you read the next one.

So overall, I like them both, but if forced to choose I'd go with reading a book!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley.

I was very interested in reading Beautiful Disaster since it became one of the first self-published books to make the New York Times bestseller list and was subsequently bought by Simon and Schuster.  In addition, I knew the book had received a passionate response from readers, ranging from the rabid fans to those who felt Travis and Abby’s relationship was more “disaster” than “beautiful.”  Unfortunately, after reading it, I have to say I fall into the latter category.

The first thing that really bothered me while reading was the novel’s derogatory attitude toward women.  Aside from Abby, her best friend America, and her roommate Kara (whom Abby and America inexplicably hate and act horribly to throughout the book), all the women are portrayed as—and actually called, mostly by America—sluts/whores/bimbos/etc.  Abby and America think every girl who sleeps with Travis is trash and deserves to be treated as such; the fact that Travis is sleeping around just as much, or more, than these girls doesn’t seem to be much of an issue.  If anything, it makes him more attractive. 

As for Abby and Travis’ relationship, I’ll first say that I don’t mind reading about morally ambiguous characters or destructive relationships as long as they’re portrayed in a thoughtful, complex way.   In this book, though, the reader is supposed to be attracted to Travis and believe he’s ultimately the right man for Abby, even though he treats women like useless objects, is incredibly emotionally manipulative and needy, and at one point actually carries Abby into his apartment against her will.  He also calls her “Pigeon,” which just might be the least sexy nickname ever.  I also can’t believe he’s so cut and an almost inhumanly strong fighter, since he never works out and seems to spend most of his time drinking and lounging around on the couch or in bed.  The last ten percent of the book, when Travis becomes a larger-than-life hero and everything seems to work out perfectly, left me rolling my eyes too many times to count.

The one aspect of the novel that did intrigue me was Abby’s struggle to overcome her past and her own self-destructive tendencies.  There was a quite powerful scene early in the novel where Abby first loses control of her carefully constructed fa├žade, when she binge drinks at her nineteenth birthday party.  If the novel had focused more on Abby’s personal development rather than the romance, I think I would have found it much more intriguing.

On the sentence level, the novel did contain some grammatical errors, formatting issues, awkward sentences, and incorrect dialogue tags, which I hope will be fixed in the final Simon and Schuster version.  Despite that, McGuire’s prose was very readable, and the pacing was strong enough to carry me through the book even though I disliked the characters.  Because of this, I would try another novel from McGuire in the future; this one, though, just wasn’t for me.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: The Golden Lily

Tough, brainy alchemist Sydney Sage and doe-eyed Moroi princess Jill Dragomir are in hiding at a human boarding school in the sunny, glamorous world of Palm Springs, California. The students--children of the wealthy and powerful--carry on with their lives in blissful ignorance, while Sydney, Jill, Eddie, and Adrian must do everything in their power to keep their secret safe. But with forbidden romances, unexpected spirit bonds, and the threat of Strigoi moving ever closer, hiding the truth is harder than anyone thought.
So I liked the Vampire Academy books all right, but I’m REALLY starting to get into the Bloodlines series, and I think the reasons I like it so much more are:

a.       I can identify with Sydney much more easily than with Rose.
b.      I’m not a huge fan of fight scenes, and the Bloodlines books have less than VA.
c.       I LOVE Adrian.

Seriously, I think I could just read bantering dialogue between Sydney and Adrian for 400 pages, without any plot, and I’d enjoy it!  I especially loved the part where they snuck into the backyard…it was so sweet!  I also thought the contrast between Adrian and Sydney’s other love interest, Brayden, was great (I couldn’t stand Brayden, but I think that was intentional), and I enjoyed the running joke of everyone forgetting Brayden’s name.   The other characters were great as well—I’ve noticed a lot of reviewers seem to be annoyed with Jill, but I find her sweet, and I love watching the relationship between her and Eddie develop.

As far as the plot goes, though, I did have a bit more trouble.   One of the reasons I often get tired of series is that they seem to drag out every little event for drama, rather than getting to the really important plot points in a more direct manner.  This makes sense, since the authors need enough content to fill several books, but it does frustrate me a bit and I did notice it in both Bloodlines and The Golden Lily.  Once we got into the action-oriented aspect of the book in the last hundred pages, I also felt a bit disappointed by the direction Mead took, though I think this is more a personal preference than anything else.  I’m just so tired of hearing about the Hunger Games and similar books (I like HG—just tired of hearing about it!) that any storyline that references Roman gladiators and involves a large crowd eagerly witnessing violence seems a bit too familiar to me right now.

Mead’s real strengths in this novel are the witty dialogue, Sydney’s strong voice, the humor and character development, and all of those make The Golden Lily well worth the read!