Monday, December 30, 2013

The Perpetual Page Turner's 4th Annual End of Year Book Survey – 2013 Edition!

It's the 4th annual End of Year Book Survey from Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

I'll break it down by genre:
- Contemporary: I Am Messenger by Markus Zusak
- Paranormal: The Archived by Victoria Schwab
- Adult: Joyland by Stephen King
- Audiobook: Tie between Out of The Easy by Ruta Septys and  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Well, the obvious is Insurgent and Allegiant. The Infinite Moment of Us as well.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

I Am Messenger by Markus Zusak. I picked it out of our TBR book jar and at first I thought it was a bit dry, but I ended up really enjoying it ! 

 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

I've suggested Out of The Easy by Ruta Septys as an audiobook  a few times. 

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

I didn't start too many series this year, but I did discover the Kowalski Family novels by Shannon Stacey.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Like many, Rainbow Rowell. I knew nothing about her, but liked Eleanor and Park.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Reading nonfiction is always out of my usual wheelhouse. But this year I ready Orange is The New Black by Piper Kerman and found it very eye opening.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Champion by Marie Lu, I was racing to the end ! 

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally. People seemed to really love this book and I think because I read it during a readathon I didn't read it very closely.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Ronan and pretty much the whole Lynch Family in The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

It's a tie between Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan and Out of The Easy by Ruta Septys

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

Unfortunately, I don't think I read a book that made a life changing impact on me.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It was so amazing !

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

I really liked this quote from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist:

“You know the reason The Beatles made it so big?...'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.' First single. Fucking brilliant. Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That's what everyone wants. Not 24/7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche...or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can't hide. Every single successful song of the past fifty years can be traced back to 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.' And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

How (Jamie) did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.

I can't figure out how to do the Goodreads thing, but I'll guestimate:
Shortest: Marly's Ghost by David Levithan at 176 pages
Longest: Clockwork Princess by 565 pages

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Jess has been subjected to quite a few of these ! Mainly the end of Champion by Marie Lu and Requiem by Lauren Oliver.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Friendship: Naomi and Ely from Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
Child/Mother Surrogate - Willie and Josie in Out of The Easy by Ruta Septys

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Pretty much anything from David Levithan

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

I don't think I've had one of those.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

More than half the books I read this year were contemporary YA. I had no idea.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

I don't think I had any.  A lot of the books I read had some pretty non-loveable MCs

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

The Archived by Victoria Schwab has some amazing imagery

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

More so than usual: Code Name Verity, Out of The Easy, Champion, Requiem and I Am Messenger.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

I just finished Hostage Three by Nick Lake and I feel like it got lost in the shuffle.

Well, that's 2013 in books for me. Can't wait to check out everyone else's list ! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Audiobook Reviews: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. and The Raven Boys By Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
I've reviewed a few  sequels this year and thought I usually have a pretty good idea of what to expect, but Maggie Stiefvater  reallh surprised me with her approach to The Raven Boys sequel.

The Dream Thieves is the sequel that's not trying to be a sequel (and I guess it's not since it's the second book in a four book series.)  It wasn't trying to set up for an overarching plot or wrap up loose ends from book one, it just told a story. The complicated and dark story of The Raven Boys  resident bad boy  Ronan Lynch.

Stiefvater fills the story with a set of unique and eccentric characters. I especially  enjoyed how the adult characters in this novel  receive full storylines and complete characterizations. So often in YA parents are Put On A Bus and I liked how the everyone in this book works together.

As far as the audiobook goes, Will Patton does a phenomenal job, he pulls out some great voices for the new characters. However  I did find the sleazy New Jersey accent Patton gave the character Kavinsky to be a little bit Narmy. Especially when he kept saying substance party like  SUB-stAHnce PAH-TEE.

The Dream Thieves is an unpredictable, magical, dark and secretive look at the lies we tell ourselves and the  things in life that haunt us. If you enjoyed the first book you must go and get this one. -  

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Speaking of people with old money and substance abuse issues... I  picked up The Great Gatsby audiobook because as a book  blogger I always feel obligated to read the book before seeing the movie. However, I know that for me  reading classics or older literary fiction can be a bit daunting, so for The Great Gatsby I turned to the newest audiobook edition to liven things up. This recently released version is  narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal, so I knew the acting had to be good. I'm not too familiar with Gyllenhaal as an actor, so it didn't feel like it was one of his film characters talking.

The Great Gatsby works well in audiobook form because of it's first person narration. It sounds like the story's narrator, Nick Carroway is actually confiding in you . Gyllenhaal does a good job with the different voices and I think his best moment is when he is doing the voice of George towards the end of the book, because that is a very emotional scene.

However, you do miss some of the actual writing when listening to the audiobook. It's very easy to accidentally drown some of it out, especially if you are doing something else while listening to the book. There are times when I see quotes from the The Great Gatsby, but don't recognize or remember them from the audiobook.

I think this audiobook is a great alternative for students or anyone who may be having a hard time getting through the novel and at less than 5 hours you could really listen to the whole thing in one day. But I'd also suggest going back and looking at the actual text as well. -  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas !

It has been a great blogging and reading year. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tied Up With Tie-Ins : Part 2

One of my favorite post from the early days of Books and Sensibility had to be the one Kat did in 2011 on movie tie-in covers, Tied Up With Tie-Ins. A lot of film adaptations have come out since then so, I figured it was time to revisit the post !

James Franco is Not in This Book
A lot less subtle than that "Now A Major Motion Film" sticker, these movie tie-in covers put well known actors face-forward on the cover. It's a great way to attract  fans of the actor to check out the book. One of the best examples of  this  was the tie-in for William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.

Instead of  using  actors faces some movie tie-ins pick an element synonymous with the series and implement them into tie-in cover. This is especially interesting choices for book The Hobbit and World War Z that featured well known actors who could have been displayed face first.

Slap The Authors Name On It
At a quick glance these images may look like just movie posters, but they aren't ! These are probably the most common type of tie-ins, where the only difference between the book cover and the poster is the addition of the author's name. These cover seems to be popular books featuring with ensemble casts. Although,you'd think Logan Lerman would have his own cover by now.

What are your favorite tie-in covers ? Do you own any of these ?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Book Review : Tandem by Anna Jarzab

  • Release Date : October 8th 2013
  • Genre : Sci-Fi/AU
  • Pages : 448
  • Publisher : Delacorte Books For Young Readers 
Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real–until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.
To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she’ll be trapped in another girl’s life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love–one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she’s someone she’s not.

Sasha Lawson has been pulled across the universe and into Aurora, and alternate version of Earth where  the United States  is  divided by two monarchies. Sasha has been fetched  for one purpose, to take the place of  the missing Princess Juliana, her alternate self.

I'm new to the alternate universe novels so I liked how Tandem introduced the theory and ideas behind  parallel worlds, in a way that is approachable to the non-scientifically inclined.

Most of the fun comes from seeing how Sasha  adjusts to Aurora, and how a world that is so much like our own can be so different.  She has to learn the customs, culture and what it is like being a princess in the middle of a tense political situation.

Assisting Sasha in pulling off the impersonation is a team of people including a young KES (Kings' Elite Security ) Agent Thomas Mayhew. I  liked  the character of Thomas , he is  dealing with being a young agent who want to be taken seriously but is still a kid himself.

Another reason I suspect I may like Thomas is because his portions of the book are written in third person while Sasha's are in first person. I'm a big fan of third person so that may have biased me towards the sections from his point of view. I do wonder why Jarzab decided to switch the style of the narrations, as it was jarring to go from one to the other.

There is a bit of a love triangle going on, but it didn't fully come across to me. Overall,  I would have liked the novel to have created higher stakes for the characters. The novel does pick up a little at the end, but at that point there is way too much happening to make up for the slow start.

Overall, Tandem is a mellow, character based  science fiction novel that with a bit of intrigue and deception.

I do have one slight nitpick and that is that the book has a lot of great imagery between the flags and symbols of the two monarchies and the revolution in Aurora. I wonder why the cover does not reflect that ?

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

  • Release Date: December 10th 2013 (US)
  • Pages: 374
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Publisher: Disney Hyperion

 Traveling through hyperspace the cruise ship Icarus is supposed to be invincible. Carrying some of the richest and most noble people in the galaxy, nobody expects it to be pulled out of hyperspace. The violent crash leaves two young passengers, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux stranded on a mysterious deserted planet that tests their will to survive in a situation that feels hopeless.

The story is told in first person from both Tarver and Lilac's point of view. Between each chapter there are two or three lines from someone interviewing Tarver after the wreck , which adds some interesting tension to the story. We don't know who Tarver is talking to and it also leaves Lilac's fate as kind of a mystery. 

Tarver and Lilac are no ordinary passengers though. Tarver is media sensation as the poor boy who became a war hero. Lilac is the daughter of the the richest man in the universe and owner of LaRoux Industries, the company the built the Icarus.

There is definitely a romance that develops between Lilac and Tarver, but Kaufman and Spooner subvert a lot of the more popular YA tropes to get to that romance. There is no instalove between these two, in fact they spend most of the book genuinely disliking each other and only though their need to survive do they learn each others value and how neither is what they seem

 This book gets compared to the Titanic film and it's an appropriate comparison for a lot or reasons; the rich girl (who is also a redhead) meets the lower class boy on a ship that crashes even though it was thought indestructible. But all that happens in the first chapter or so and the rest of the novel is really more of a survivalist story as the characters are trudging across a barren and empty planet. This is one of the main reasons this book wasn't a 4 star for me. I just can't get into  the survivalist and forced isolation from society storylines. 

There are a few flashbacks that break up the straight forward narrative and gives the readers insight into the type of world the characters live in. However, I still found myself wanting to know more about this world, like does everyone live on one planet ? How exactly does interdimension travel work and how does Earth fit into this ?

  As the story gets to its climax there are a few twists and plot elements thrown in, but they seemed to be setting up for something in the future and didn't really advance the plot of this novel.

This is the first in a three part series and this series is interesting because unlike most YA series,  each book will be about different characters but with some of the same plot elements.  I think I will continue on with the sequel, This Shattered World, because the description is giving me Legend vibes as well as to see how it will interplay with this book.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Romance Review: Exclusively, Yours by Shannon Stacey

  • Publication Date: May 26th 2010 (ebook)
  • Pages: 322
  • Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)
  • Series: The Kowalskis #1

Well, I have really been genre-hopping this year. I'm finally taking the time to read more than YA and checking out book categories I've wanted to know more about like literary and narrative nonfiction. Now I'm finally jumping into the adult romance genre. 

The romance novel has always fascinated me. I mean they have to be some of the most lucrative and consistently popular genre novels over the past 50 years. Every time I go to a used book sale or used bookstore there is always a woman or two with a rolling basket in hand carefully scanning the Harlequins and stocking up. I've always picked up one or two because I figure they are cheap and not a big commitment, but I just never actually read them. At one point I'd read a few pages into a Regency romance, but couldn't get into it. When I stumbled across this book for .50 cents at a library book sale I got it on a whim, it was about a journalist and a novelist so I figured I could relate. Plus, it was in third person which is my favorite POV.

Exclusively, Yours is the first in a series about the close-knit Kowalski family. Our female protagonist is Keri Daniels, whose job as an entertainment journalist is on the line when her boss discovers she dated bestselling reclusive author, Joseph Kowalski, in high school and never mentioned it. Now she's going back home to New Hampshire to get an interview that could mean the difference between a promotion or unemployment. But Joe Kowalski likes his privacy and their break up was bitter. If he is going to give Keri the interview she needs she will have to spend 2 weeks in the woods on the annual Kowalski family camping trip. It doesn't take Keri and Joe long to realize that even after 20 years, some things never change.

I really liked the family dynamic presented in this novel. Joe has two brothers and a twin sister, so there are more storylines presented than just the will they/won't they one of Joe and Keri. His twin sister, Theresa, was also hurt by Keri when they were in high school so she adds some tension to the story as she has to deal with seeing Keri again. Stacey unraveled each of the relationships and stories well, because seriously everyone in this family having some serious relationship problems. Except for maybe the parents.

This novel also wasn't as romantic as I would have thought. Keri and Joe spend a lot of the novel trying (extremely unsuccessfully) not to like one another and the plot relies more on Belligerent Sexual Tension which is only fueled by the fact they are all stuck in the campground. The fact that this book only really has one main setting also had a tendency made the novel feel a bit claustrophobic at times.

The more I thought about it though, the more I found myself disliking Joseph Kowalski. I mean Joe was set up as  a nice guy who is always getting taken advantage of by these women, but I don’t think he was ever called out on the jerk-ish things he did, like writing a book where a girl named  "Carrie Danielson" who was tortured and killed as kind of revenge on Keri for breaking up with him. Also, most of Joe's siblings are pretty much living off his success and didn't have real jobs. The only Kowalski I was interested in seeing more about was  Kevin, for reasons that are revealed later in the book and I was happy to see the second book, Undeniably, Yours is about him.

Reading this novel felt like joining along on the Kowalski family on summer vacation. As someone who has no desire to go camping, I just enjoyed seeing exactly what people did for two weeks in the woods. I think I've found a romance series I can stick with and I hope it leads me to more discovery of other romances. Now, I can't wait to go to my next used book sale and see if I can spot the other novels in this series!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Sense List : November Faves

Whether you spent November participating in NaNoWriMo, coming to terms with the end of Allegiant or gearing up for Thanksgiving there was a lot of YA news and links to check out. Here are some of our favorites from the month of November.

  • In anticipation for the film,  AMC Theaters released an infographic taking a look at The Anatomy of Panem

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
The Body In The Woods by April Henry
Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Just Like The Movies by Kelly Fiore

Also, check out the group of  covers Bloomsbury's New Adult imprint, Bloomsbury Spark revealed this month.


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