Jan 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Picks

Top Ten Tuesday banner by The Broke and the BookishTop Ten Tuesday is a weakly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  They love lists as much as I do, so it's only fair to tip my hat.

I'm not gonna lie, I haven't ever been in a real official book club before, but I've just found a likely bunch and we're having our first meeting in a couple of weeks making this a timely topic!  Here are my picks in no particular order:

Book cover of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater Book cover of When She Woke by Hillary Jordan Book cover of The Giver by Lois Lowry Book cover of World War Z by Max Brooks Book cover of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

1) The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater:  This is the book we're currently reading for my book club, and I have to say I was quite happy with its selection!  I haven't started it yet, but since it made just about every YA Top 10 list I saw for 2011, and just won a Printz Honor, I reckon it's gotta be good.

2) When She Woke - Hillary Jordan:  It's a lovely and powerful futuristic book that offers discussion points on our penal system, abortion, religion, love, all in a retelling of the familiar Scarlet Letter.

3) The Giver - Lois Lowry:  Some of us were assigned to read this in elementary school.  Most of us probably read it for fun anyway.  This book introduced me to dystopians, and I think would be fantastic to revisit as an adult.  

4) World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars - Max Brooks:  I read this last year and it pretty much blew my mind.  I still boggle at all of the intricacies and situations accounted for in this book.  Brooks thought of so many aspects of what might happen in a zombie apocalypse, and as a book that's currently in production for the big screen, I think it'd make a good choice.

5) 84, Charring Cross Road - Helene Hanff: What better choice for book lovers than a book about book lovers and the powerful bonds of friendship that can be forged from a relationship with books?

6) Written on the Body - Jeanette Winterson: A good choice for groups who won't shy away from topics of sex, Written on the Body really made me think about stereotypes and question my own patterned way of thinking through a love affair with a character whose gender is never revealed.

7) Frankenstein - Mary Shelley: You can't go wrong with a classic!  Frankenstein poses some powerful questions about humanity and nature, and is certainly required reading for a reason.  Plus, having been written by a woman, and one so young, I personally always found this book inspirational.

8) The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde: Another classic, and one of my personal favorites.  Wilde creates a very dark tale with a wry witticism that I adore.  It's a nice quick read, and can foster some interesting thoughts on youth, immortality, and morality.

9) Illusions - Richard Bach: I know most people go in for Johnathan Livingston Seagull, but I personally felt that Illusions was the more powerful and thought provoking book.  It brings up some very interesting thoughts about religion and one's life philosophy.

10) A Long, Long Sleep - Anna Sheehan: I wanted to add another YA title, and I just loved this book so much I'd love to share it with others!  It was a wonderful reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, and had some wonderful insight to relationships and personal strength.

Book cover of Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson Book cover of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Book cover of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Book cover of Illusions by Richard Bach Book cover of A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

That's my 10 cents for the week, what are your book club picks?

Jan 30, 2012

Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Book cover of Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Title: Everneath [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Brodi Ashton [Website|Twitter]
Standing: First book in a new series.
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Greek Mythology
Published: January 24th, 2012 by HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray
Format: Kindle edition; 384 pages.  
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley.
Challenge: Debut author challenge.

Nikki Beckett has returned after disappearing six months earlier.  She wasn’t really strung out or in rehab, she was in the Everneath for one hundred years, partaking in the Feed.  At a desperate moment, Nikki offered herself to Cole, an immortal being that must drain a human of energy every 100 years in order to sustain life.  To everyone’s surprise, however, Nikki didn’t waste away in the Feed.  She remembered her life, she remembered Jack, and she decided to return to her old life to see him and make amends with friends and family with what little time she had left.  Nikki has six months on the surface before the Tunnels come for her, using her as a battery to power the Everneath.  Her only option besides this hell?  To become an Everliving, like Cole, and potentially rule the Everneath as its queen.

Everneath was promised as a retelling of Hades and Persephone, but what resulted was more of a mashup of this myth with that of Orpheus and Eurydice, and some Isis and Osiris thrown in.  More of a nod to, as it were, than a retelling. The interplay of the mythologies was interesting to me.  What could have been a confusing train wreck ended up working surprisingly well.  You could see Nikki identifying with either Persephone or Eurydice, and because the book did not go too in-depth, it was possible to mix Greek and Egyptian mythology in a way that made sense.  The basic concept that all myths are rooted in reality is taken to a more literal level than usual, and I found the world Ashton created in the Everneath to be quite intriguing.

While I enjoyed the mythology created, I had a few issues with the melodramatic tone of Everneath.  Nikki is supposedly drained of all emotions, and will only recover the ability to feel over time on the surface.  While she does become increasingly emotional, I felt the story was rather full of emotion to begin with.  Nikki’s motives were confusing to me.  She seems bent on making amends, and yet she doesn’t want to get too close because she knows it’ll be worse when she leaves again.  She entered the Everneath in a time of extreme emotional strife, and her doubt of Jack was a contributing factor--yet despite her belief that he no longer cares for her, Nikki’s love is so strong that Jack helps her hold on to her life as a human.  I don’t really get this dynamic.  To me, a ‘true love’ connection, one that could literally get you through hell, needs to be one solid enough that you don’t have to doubt your feelings for one another.  Also, I was confused by Nikki’s relationship with her father.  Does he just assume she ran off and was drugged out like everyone else seems to, does she say this is true?  We don’t know.  I guess it’s not odd to me that this may be the rumor of choice, but it is surprising to me that those who knew Nikki would think this of her.  

Despite these personal issues with Everneath, I do see it as a read that will appeal to many.  I did want to hug Brodi Ashton for giving both of her boys brown eyes (NO GREEN EYES HUZZAH), and I thought the smokey cover was gorgeous.  

Likelihood that I'll be back for more: Everneath wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it’s the series for me.  

Recommended for:  It’s funny, I’d say people who liked Fury, but I kinda feel like either you really like Fury, or you really like Everneath.  Haven’t seen a ton of crossover from people who enjoyed both (and I was a Fury fan).  Nonetheless, a good option for mythologeeks, and paranormal romance peeps.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  I got really annoyed at the overuse of the word ‘niggling’.  I’d never even seen this word before, but apparently it’s completely replaced ‘nagging’ in Ashton’s vocabulary.  Kinda made me want to punch babies by the end.

Jan 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox banner by The Story Siren
In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren in which you share the books you added to your collection in the past week.
This week I went a little library crazy thanks to Chachic and her Queen's Thief Week:

Book cover of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Book cover of The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Book cover of The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Book cover of A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

I picked up all of Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series.

Along with: 
Magic Bites - Ilona Andrews
Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins...it was on so many Top 10 Audiobook suggestion lists, I had to go this route!
Tempest - Julie Cross
Where She Went - Gayle Forman...Forman is presenting at a library conference I'm attending in two weeks, so excited!
Austenland - Shannon Hale...had to read it before the new one comes out!

Book cover of Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Book cover of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Book cover of Austenland by Shannon Hale

Book cover of Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Book cover of Tempest by Julie Cross
I also picked up two new galleys from NetGalley:

Book cover of Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale Book cover of Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriot

Midnight in Austenland - Shannon Hale...so excited for this after finishing Austenland!
Shadows on the Moon - Zoë Marriot...a Japanese Cinderella retelling that I've been highly anticipating.

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Jan 27, 2012

Title Unveil: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

It's here!!  The title we've all been waiting for.  Laini Taylor announced this morning the title of the upcoming sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone AND gave us a bit of a teaser.  Personally, I love it, and this has sent my anticipation meter through the roof.  What do you all think?

book title image for Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living—one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying. 
Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel—a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness. 

This was not that world.

Blurb and title taken with permission from Laini Taylor's blog courtesy of Little Brown.  You can read her original post here.

Review: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Book cover of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Title: A Northern Light [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Jennifer Donnelly [Website|Twitter]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Published: September 1st, 2004 by Harcourt Paperbacks
Format: Paperback; 396 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Mattie Gokey is a young woman living in the North Woods of northern New York state in 1906.  She is trapped between two worlds, the one she desires and the one she feels she cannot escape.  Mattie and her friend Weaver are fortunate, intelligent, and hard working enough to receive high school diplomas and be accepted into universities in New York City, but it will cost money and more to attend.  Mattie is a lover of books and words, but also feels the strong weight of duty and the possibility of love keeping her home.  When a woman drowns at the hotel where she works, Mattie finds horror, solace, and hope in the letters Grace Brown has left behind.

A Norhtern Light is set against the backdrop of the historically true murder of Grace Brown in 1906, the same murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.  Jennifer Donnelly found the letters left behind to be incredibly moving, and allowed this emotion to drive the story of Mattie.  Mattie is a young woman that I believe any girl who loves books would strongly identify with.  She has a passion for the written word in a time when this disposition could be detrimental to one’s social standing and prospects in life.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to get into the story at first, but it hit me about 30 pages in that she reminded me somewhat of Jo March, and from there my heart was sold.  Mattie loves to read, and desires to become a writer, but unlike Jo she does not have the support of her own family let alone nearly anyone else around her.  She is constantly dredging up feelings of anger and desperation at the fact that books are not like reality; Mattie is keenly aware of the slim chances of her own happy ending:
I used to wonder what would happen if characters in books could change their fates.  What if the Dashwood sisters had had money?  Maybe Elinor would have gone traveling and left Mr. Ferrars dithering in the drawing room.  What if Catherine Earnshaw had just married Heathcliff to begin with and spared everyone a lot of grief?  What if Hester Prynne and Dimmesdale had gotten onboard that ship and left Roger Chillingworth far behind?  I felt sorry for these characters sometimes, seeing as they couldn’t ever break out of their stories, but then again, if they could have talked to me, they’d likely have told me to stuff all my pity and condescension, for neither could I.

Mattie is obsessed with words and their meanings, picking a new one out of the dictionary each day, learning its meaning and attempting to incorporate it into her vocabulary.  We discover her obsession with this powerful opening:   
Right now I want a word that describes the feeling you get--a cold, sick feeling deep down inside--when you know something is happening that will change you, and you don’t want it to, but you can’t stop it.  And you know, for the first time, for the very first time, that there will now be a before and an after, a was and a will be.  And that you will never again be quite the same person you were.
I imagine it’s the feeling Eve had as she bit into the apple.  Or Hamlet when he saw his father’s ghost.  Or Jesus as a boy, right after someone sat him down and told him his pa wasn’t a carpenter after all.

My favorite word throughout the entire book has to be sesquipedalian, which means “given to using long words” and which Mattie accuses of being a hypocrite as it is in and of itself a long word.  She also makes many keen observations as to the reality of books and women at the time--look at the number of female writers at the time who never married, Emily Dickenson (“a damned sneaky genius!”), Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, etc.  Mattie has to make a difficult and heart wrenching choice between words and the future that has been laid out for her.  

After reading little besides sci-fi and fantasy for months, A Northern Light hit me like a breath of fresh air.  I know I have probably made the book sound rather downtrodden and depressing, but I assure you that there is such a strong undercurrent of hope, and Mattie is such a charming character, that you will not find yourself depressed reading it.  In addition, this book made me so incredibly grateful to be a woman in an age where knowledge and love of learning is to be commended, and seeking it in no way bars you from the possibility of a happy family life. Plus, the paperback cover is just gorgeous, I love the colors! I had a choice between the paperback or hardcover and chose this version specifically due to the cover.

My only disappointment with this novel is that I was expecting a bit of mystery, when really there wasn’t one.  It begins with the drowning of Grace Brown, and continues to flash back to Mattie’s past until it slowly catches up to the beginning.  I at times found myself getting a bit impatient for the “present” bits.  There was never really any surprise or mystery or twist with the murder.  Certainly a recommended read, but only for those who know what they’re getting in to!

Likelihood that I'll be back for more: I don’t read a ton of historical fiction, though I honestly can’t say why as I do enjoy it.  Before The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the last historical fiction I’d read was Pompeii back in 2007.  That said, when I do get around to visiting this genre again, I’ll certainly pick up something else by Jennifer Donnelly, particularly I’m looking forward to reading Revolution.

Recommended for: Fans of historical fiction (particularly U.S. early 1900s), writers, fans of Downton Abby (Mattie's work in the hotel is somewhat reminiscent of this show to me).

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  Thanks to Mattie, I have a new sound piece of advice on men to add to my father’s “Never trust a man with two middle initials.” and my ex-military-ex-co-worker’s “Never trust a man who wears a thumb ring.” and that is: “One must always steer clear of men who sweat when it isn’t warm.” Sound advice if you ask me.

Jan 26, 2012

Review: Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Book cover of Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Title: Liesl and Po [Amazon|GoodReads]  
Author: Lauren Oliver [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Illustrator: Kei Acedera
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Paranormal
Published: October 4th, 2011 by HarperCollins
Format: Audiobook; 5 hrs, 55 mins.  Read by Jim Dale (!)

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Three days after Liesl’s father dies, her sadness is noted.  Not by anyone of note, not by her stepmother or the family servants, or any adult for that matter, but by two others.  Po, a ghost from the other side, notices the girl has stopped drawing and it’s wondering why when it pops over to the living side together with his friend Bundle and meets the girl.  Will, the alchemist’s apprentice who likes to stare up at the pretty girl in the window hasn’t seen her working over a light, and wonders what could be wrong.

Liesl enlists Po’s assistance in contacting her recently deceased father, and becomes determined to return his ashes to the willow tree by the house where they once lived with her mother.  To do so she will have to escape the grips of her stepmother and make a journey with a box of ashes, a ghost, and his pet.  Meanwhile, Will bungles his delivery and confuses the alchemist’s box of powerful magic with a box of ashes from the undertaker.  He’s forced to go on the run from an irate master and his more than disappointed client.

I believe it’s no secret to any audiobook fan that Jim Dale is the best.  I’ll listen to anything he does, and snapped up Liesl and Po as soon as I saw him listed as narrator.  While it may be hard to draw the line between Dale’s charisma and the actual story, I found myself charmed by Lauren Oliver’s middle grade tale.  I felt the story had an almost Roald Dahl-like quality that I find irresistible.  In particular, I was reminded of Matilda in the way that all of the adults in the tale seem to be evil and selfish, and equally convinced that all children are conniving and full of lies.  However, unlike Matilda who is rescued by the kindness of a good woman, the only adults in Liesl and Po who seems kind are either largely dim witted or dead.

I did find myself questioning the choice to call the story after these two particular characters, as surely Will is at least as important as Po.  In fact, I was somewhat annoyed with the reality that Oliver felt the need to create a jealous sort of friendship triangle where the characters were too young to have a love triangle.  Additionally, I felt that the characters read as younger than Liesl’s stated 11 years, and seemed more like they were closer to 9.  I’m sad that I am unable to comment on the illustrations as I haven’t seen them, but Jim Dale provided an excellent counterbalance for this loss.  In the end there may have been a few loose ends that bothered me, but overall I found the tale of a journey and a series of un/fortunate coincidences lovely.

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  Both of Lauren Oliver’s other books have been sitting in my TBR pile for some time, and I’m hoping to at least get to Delirium before or shortly after Pandemonium releases.

Recommended for:  Fans of Roald Dahl and MG fantasy, anyone who enjoys a Jim Dale audiobook.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  I have a new appreciation for the word, “ineffable” as a word to describe what words cannot describe.

Jan 25, 2012

Review: Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo

Book cover for Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo
Title: Daughter of the Centaurs [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Kate Klimo [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: First in the new Centuriad series.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published: January 24th, 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Format: Kindle edition; 384 pages.  
Source: ARC copy from publisher via NetGalley.
Challenge: YA/MG Fantasy Challenge

Malora was born with an affinity for horses, and desires nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps as a horse wrangler and hunter.  After leatherwings ravage her family’s settlement, destroying both men and horse, her mother sends her off into the plains with Sky--her father’s horse that was too big to be carried off--in order to secure her safety.  She begins a herd of her own, strong, black, fast horses, encountering no other being for three years.  When her herd, and Malora, are captured by a group of centaurs seeking horses to compete in an annual race, Malora finds herself surrounded by a completely foreign culture and way of life.  Malora determines the comforts of civilized living are worth losing her freedom, but she must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice.

So.  Okay.  I have to get this off my chest.  I like genre bending, but I’m quickly getting sick of books trying to pass off fantasy as science fiction in order to somehow jam it into trends that are currently more popular.  Daughter of the Centaurs was constructed like the opposite of Star Wars.  Instead of “A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away...” it supposedly is set “A long long time in the future right here on earth...”.  I cannot for the life of me understand why this was necessary.  There’s no explanation of the history of how centaurs and other creatures came about/if they were always there, and this would be fine if it weren’t supposed to be our world.  The only time this reality is even brought up within the story is through books, which I also had a huge issue with.  This is supposed to be so far in the future that humans are considered “living fossils” and yet our physical books have survived.  Not survived in that they were printed on high quality linen paper and preserved well in safe environments; survived in the sense that wealthy centaurs actually have our physical books like Dr. Seuss which was probably printed on highly acidic paper and they read them in their homes and what not.  Plus if Stephenie freaking Meyer is one of the “great” literary names that survives the test of time in a completely unironic way alongside the likes of Austen, Shakespeare, and Dickens, I WILL RISE FROM THE GRAVE AND CUT SOMEONE.  Honestly I really wish Daughter of the Centaurs had just embraced the fantasy label and either cut out the aspects that tied it to our current society, or provided stronger ties to make it more believable, as is, the story was weakened.

The narration of Daughter of the Centaurs is at times perfect.  It’s told in the present tense, making it very reminiscent of an oral tale one would hear spoken around the camp fire.  This works beautifully in the beginning of the story, while Malora is on her own save for her horses, but becomes slightly less effective as the story progresses.  The world and story that Klimo has constructed have a great base, but could use some trimming.  Daughter of the Centaurs could have made a good stand alone story, but I did not like most of the allusions towards future plots.  For example, Malora has visions of meeting a man in the future.  I loved that this story had no romance in it, as this is always refreshing, but the foreshadowing of a future romance to me seemed forced and irrelevant to the current story.  Again, this came across somewhat as an attempt to shove this book into a popular trend, and it would have been best left alone. There's a chance this is me just being a stick in the mud about preferring this story as a stand alone.

I did very much enjoy the featuring of centaurs as main characters.  I’ve never read a book where this was done before, and the society constructed with them was very interesting, if intentionally frivolous.  Malora comments at one point that she herself is more horse than the centaurs themselves, and for all intents and purposes, this is true.  Centaurs seem to be largely ashamed of their horse halves, attempting to cover any horselike scent, and going modestly clothed in order to minimize their animal half.  This aspect of the story was very well done, and created a nice counterpart between horse loving Malora and the horse shaming centaurs.  The power of olfactory stimulation from scents was very unique as well.  Orion, one of the centaurs to initially discover and befriend Malora, has a profession of creating scents--oils or perfumes that the centaurs use to disguise their horsey smells--and they have a powerful affect on Malora.  When Malora inhales the created scents, she is able to have visions associated with that smell, even if it is another’s memory.  Finally, the horse lore in Daughter of the Centaurs was fantastic.  Malora’s knowledge of and skill with horses is so well presented, her interactions with the animals easily became my favorite part of this story.    

Likelihood that I'll be back for more: Probably not, it was a very interesting premise, and it could have been a decent contained stand alone, but I’m not planning to continue with the series.

Recommended for:  Horse lovers, those interested in younger YA reads--Malora is 12-15, making this book older than middle grade, but more juvenile than most YA books out there.

Real life repercussions of reading this book: I miss riding!  I haven’t been for more than a decade, but I used to ride all the time as a kid.  Yeah...I did 4-H.  Check the awesome wrangling prowess (and highwaters):

Heidi horseback riding by Bunbury in the Stacks

Jan 24, 2012

Shorts: Thief! by Megan Whalen Turner

The Queen's Thief Week banner by Chachic's Book Nook

This week Chachic, over at Chachic’s Book Nook, is having a Queen’s Thief week!  Now I’m sad to admit I was oblivious to this series until last year, but since surfacing on my radar I feel like it’s being recommended constantly.  There are currently four books in the series (with covers so gorgeous I may swoon): 

Book cover of The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner Book cover of The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Book cover of The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Book cover of A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

What better way to get my feet wet than with a short story?

Theif! by Megan Whalen Turner available here.
cover illustration for short story Thief! by Megan Whalen Turner
This short story (we’re talking a couple of pages people--now you have no excuse to not read it) tells the tale of a 10 year old Eugenides.  Gen, as he is called, was named after the God of Thieves, and is the grandson of the King’s Thief.  In the days of yore, the King’s Thief would gain the title by stealing a stone called Hamiathes Gift.  Long ago, however, the stone was lost, and the title became hereditary, passed down through generations.  Now, the title is considered largely honorary, but Gen is determined not only to gain the title, but to live up to it.  So I guess he ought to practice...

I am so intrigued in this story and its world after only such a short passage, I cannot wait to dive into the series!  A world in which a thief can be revered?  I mean, come on parents, why would you name your kid after the God of Thieves if you wanted him to grow up as anything else?  Even at 10, Gen has captured my heart as a good natured scallywag.  His brother, Stenides seems like the type you’d like to have around, and his cousins?  Potential future trouble with Phaedrus and Breia?  I hope so.

I'm currently digging further into this series myself, but if you'd like to learn more, or want to gush and enjoy the festivities (including some awesome readalike suggestions and a giveaway), make sure to check out Chachic's The Queen's Thief Week!

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I am Literarily in Love With

Top Ten Tuesday banner by The Broke and the Bookish
Top Ten Tuesday is a weakly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  They love lists as much as I do, so it's only fair to tip my hat.
This week’s a freebie!  Which means I get to make a list about whatever the eff I want.  I wanted to do something fun, so I went back through past topics I missed out on and decided on this: Top Ten Fictional Crushes.  So here you are, the top ten characters I am literarily in love with:

Jon Snow pick up lines
10) Mr. Darcy - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Yeah I know ORIGINAL. But hey, things are cliche for a reason.  

9) Tucker Avery - Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand. Maybe this one's just because Unearthly has been my recent drug of choice, but the kid's from my home state, outdoorsy, and a complete and utter gentleman. In his case, I would be happy to save a horse and ride a cowboy.

8) Darkwind - Valdemar: Mage Winds series by Mercedes Lackey. Long hair, good in the wild, hangs out naked in hot springs a lot, incredibly powerful mage powers...need I say more?

7) Kvothe - The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. He knows the mother effing name of the wind. And he's an amazing musician. And a badass. And a bit of a geek for books and research. Hot.

6) Aragorn - Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. One word: rugged.  

5) Dream - Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Sure he's a bit pale and emaciated, and I've never been much for the whole goth thing, but come on. I figure dating the dude who has Death for a big sister can only work out in your favor. Or end very badly. Eurydice says what?

4) Professor Lupin - Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. Lupin is my fav!!! I know people go for Harry, or Ron, or even Neville but I am ALL for Lupin.  But only if like Tonks never existed, because I LOVE Tonks and would not to that to her.

3) Bigby Wolf - Fables by Bill Willingham. Dude, this man is dedicated to the ones he loves. He shifts freely between rugged human and all out giant wolf with the power of the North Wind, and can wage one-man campaigns like a boss.

2) Jon Snow - A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Seeing a pattern here? Yeah, I'm into wolves and dudes who are into wolves. Jon the Bastard comes with Ghost the direwolf, he's a warg, Lord Commander, and completely off limits due to some pesky vows. Doesn't every girl want what they can't have?

1) Dirk - Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey. Dirk gets the number one spot because I have had a crush on him for longer than any other on this list. Basically since I hit puberty. He's got the best heart, loves truly, would do anything for his family, friends, or country. What can I say? Chivalrous yet gentle gets to me.

Who are your literary crushes?

Jan 23, 2012

Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Book cover of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn MacklerTitle: The Future of Us [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Jay Asher [Website|Twitter|Facebook] and Carolyn Mackler
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Sci Fi, Time Travel(!)
Published: November 21st, 2011 by Razorbill
Format: Hardcover; 356 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

It’s 1996 and Emma’s father has sent her a new computer as a consolation prize.  He’s just had a new baby girl with his wife, and lucky Emma gets a computer.  Josh shows up at her door with an AOL disc, which will give her 100 hours free when she signs up.  It’s awkward.  Josh and Emma used to be best friends, they grew up next door and spent countless hours together, but six months ago Josh thought maybe they could be more than friends and Emma rejected the notion with horror.  Still, she’s not going to turn down the AOL handout so she loads it up, snags her e-mail addy, and logs on.  To find Facebook.  Is this some kind of sick joke?  She’s on a page with a woman who has her name, graduated from her high school, and well--looks just like she would if she were 15 years older.  Emma calls Josh over to help investigate, and as they uncover the truth about their futures through what they see on Facebook, they learn how easy it is to create ripples in their lives that will affect who they will become.  

Ah the 90s.  This book was so full of 90’s nostalgia I found myself exclaiming words like “SCUNCHIE!” and “DISCMAN!” aloud as I read.  Do you remember that horrid sound of dial-up?  Do you remember your parents kicking you off the Internet because they needed the phone?  Do you remember when ball pits still existed?!  LOVE IT!  I mean, Emma has the whole debate over whether to use the brick wall or the pipes screen saver and chooses brick wall and I’m like “Wtf Emma?  Everyone knows pipes are the best, I still use it!”

Asher and Mackler are a fantastic team in The Future of Us, which alternates perspectives between Josh and Emma (I’m assuming Asher wrote Josh and Mackler wrote Emma).  This book is so incredibly intriguing to me because it will arguably only be relevant for a short amount of time to a certain amount of people.  It’s great for teens now, and those of us who were teens in the 90s, but how long will it be before Facebook has changed so much that it is no longer recognizable or in use as it is in this book?  I’m hoping teens who read it now will become more conscious about what they post online, and think about how the choices they make today may affect them in the future.  

Let’s get down to the meat of it.  I lurv time travel.  Truly, madly, deeply.  I mean, my list of sexceptions consists only of: The Doctor.  Oh, and Archer, but as he’s a cartoon I’m thinking that’s even less probable.  ANYWAY, the time travel factor in The Future of Us is awesome!  I feel like most of the time travel I’ve read lately has been travel to the past, where they are either unable to affect events, or they know exactly what they want to change and how they can do it.  This was none of that!  In The Future of Us Josh and Emma are faced with the reality that even the slightest changes in their lives can affect their future--their families, their careers, their friends--everything.  It reminds me of those scenes in the Back to the Future movies where they’re trying to change names that appear on tombstones or who’s in a picture.

When they first discover Facebook, Josh’s future is looking so bright he’s gotta wear shades, but Emma just sees herself as miserable.  She starts taking steps to ensure that her future comes out happier, but Josh is terrified about how Emma’s actions will affect the futures of himself and others.  

So let’s talk about Josh and Emma, shall we?  I liked Josh a lot, he’s a nice guy who I probably would have been happy to be friends with in high school.  It broke my heart that Emma broke his by putting him in that terminal best friend syndrome position, and I truly felt like he deserved a good future whatever it may be.  Emma on the other hand...well...I didn’t like her.  At all.  So excuse me as I go a little ranty pants on her ass: Emma is incredibly selfish, but is convinced that everyone she is involved with is the selfish one.  It’s possible that she’s so afraid of real love and emotions that she surrounds herself with jerks and other self-involved people and then sits around feeling sorry for herself.  She messes with Josh and breaks his heart several times, and then blames him when their friendship deteriorates.  /end rant.  Despite her rampant shallowness, Emma does have the capacity for change, which was what helped bring me around to trying to see what Josh saw in her.  As annoying as Emma was to me, both her and Josh were incredibly well constructed and I have to say I really enjoy reading well-written unlikable characters sometimes.  That said, one last thing before I leave you with a notable part of The Future of Us:

facebook baby meme

“You’re reading a lot into very few words, I say.

Emma glares at me.  “If I totally screw things up, then I’ll change it back.”

“You can’t change it back!”

“You’re not playing, remember?  And if I screw things up that badly, then I’ll keep screwing them up until they get better.  I can hit Refresh all night if I need to.”

“I’m out!”  I say, heading toward the door.  “I’m done with Facebook.  I’m not messing with the future anymore.”

“That’s because you’re afraid,” Emma says.  “You have no idea why Sydney likes you, so you’re terrified that something I do will break that rock solid relationship of yours.”

“Sydney has plenty of reasons to like me,” I say.

“Name three.”

“This is stupid.”

“You can’t, can you?” she says.  “You’re afraid of reality.”

“If anyone in this room is afraid of reality,” I say, “it’s not me.”

“That’s it.”  Emma moves the arrow from the Refresh icon and clicks on Friends.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m looking you up.  Maybe things will never be perfect in my future, but I’m tired of you acting like you’re better than me because your life turns out fantastic.”

“I never even thought that.”  I run to the computer and pry her fingers away from the mouse, then I click back to Emma’s page.

Emma jabs her finger at the screen.  “Do you see where I live now?”

Lives in  Columbus, OH

“Remember how I was a marine biologist?” she says.  “I should be living near the ocean.  I worked at the lab in Massachusetts, but we moved to Ohio.  I’m sure that’s because of Kevin.  So I’m stating out loud that if Kevin even suggests moving there in the future, he’s out of his mind.  Right this second, I’m committing to never living in Ohio.”

Emma’s finger taps the Refresh button.  The page reloads.

Lives in London, England

“It worked!”  Emma says.

She touches the mouse, but I pry her hand away again.  I’m not letting go until she promises to stop this game.

“This is scary,” I say.  “You’re not even doing things anymore.  You’re just making up your mind and changing your life.”

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  It’s official, I’ll read anything Jay Asher puts his name on.  I’ve had Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things kicking around in my TBR pile for a while now, and it’s just bumped up in priority!

Recommended for: Okay I know it says “Young Adult” up there by the Genre heading, but you know what?  This book was made for children of the 90s.  If you were a teen then, this book will be so reminiscent and perfect for you! Also people who enjoyed the movie 13 Going on 30, The Future of Us is less of a light romcom, but has some similar themes.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  I’ve really gotta get me a “When I was your age, Pluto was a planet.” t-shirt.  Like stat.


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