Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Swap #1 ! The Golem and The Jinni / Fangirl

Jess and I did a book swap as a way to force the other to read and review a book. The theme for our first book swap was 5-star reviews; we gave each other a book we'd previously reviewed as five stars. Jess gave me The Golem in The Jinni and I gave her Fangirl.

  • Release Date: September 10th, 2013
  • Pages: 445
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (MacMillan)
  • Jess' Rating: 

When Kat gives a book high marks I know I'm going to like it. In a lot of ways this book was my college experience; I went to college with a sibling and during this time that I stumbled (read; lurked) across Livejournal and the crazy world of fandom. I also remember the last Harry Potter book coming out at the start of Freshmen year, that was kind of surreal.

Fangirl chronicles the first year of college for Cath, the ultimate fangirl of the fictional Simon Snow novels. Her longest-running fanfiction Carry On, Simon has legions of readers. For the first time Cath is separated from her twin sister, moving away from her father and learning how to manage college, all while holding on to the fandom that meant so much to her.

It wasn't so much the fandom or freshmen firsts that really kept me reading. It was the way  Fangirl talked about Cath's journey as a writer. In college, I secretly wondered what it was like to be in a creative writing class.  It was a little frustrating at first about how Cath is afraid to break away from fanfiction and this is something I wish the book would have delved a little more in.

I loved the side characters in this book, I feel like Regan and Levi are the people you will eventually meet in college. I even liked  Cath's sister's roommate, the seemingly "basic" Courtney, who is described as being "subtle as Spencer's Gift Shop", which I thought was a pretty funny description.  

I feel like Fangirl was really popular for a moment and then kind of faded. Personally, I would love to have some more time with these characters. Cath is the kind of character I would want Rowell to pick up and write again in 10 years, just to see where she is.

I've started reading Rowell's debut novel Attachments and to me the stories she tells, with Fangirl, in particular, come off to me along the lines of women's fiction (ala Lauren Weisenberger with a little less glamour), I think it has something to do with the writer-minded-girl-with-a-plan protagonist backed up by a cast of quirky characters and nice guy love interest.

I think this book will appeal to the Harry Potter generation, in many ways this book is a love letter to them. I don't usually do contemporary YA, but this book had me wanting to read "just one more chapter" so for that alone I can give this book 5 stars.

  • Release Date: April 23, 2013
  • Pages: 496
  • Genre: Literary Urban Fantasy
  • Publisher: Harper Collins

  • Kat's Rating: 

 My default is usually contemporary, but Jess' five-star reviews have led me to some amazing non-contemporary novels like Legend, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Divergent. When I saw her glowing review of  The Golem and the Jinni I expected I was in for a treat.

But while this book was five stars for her it wasn't exactly a five star for me. The reading experience reminded me of when I read another literary novel last year, Never Let Me Go, I knew I was reading something good and important, but I couldn't get lost in it. I had to constantly reorient myself in the book and its mythologies. I do attribute some of this to the fact that the font in the paperback is fairly small and kind of stylized.

 Pretty much everything you need to know about The Golem and The Jinni is right on the cover. It's the story of a Golem, named Chava and a Jinni named Ahmad who find themselves in turn of the century New York City navigating close-knit immigrant neighborhoods.

  You don't have to look far for praise for this book. This book is good and there is no doubt about it. Wecker's writing is amazing, she easily weaves together different narratives and creates characters with rich backgrounds that pay homage to Syrian and Jewish backgrounds. I actually really enjoyed the historical aspect, because I learned a lot. Like how at that time most Syrian immigrants were Catholic, not Muslim.

If you are looking for historical fiction with a flair or delving into non-Western mythology then The Golem and The Jinni serves up something delightful.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

National Readathon Day is This Saturday !

When I first heard about National Readathon Day on the Books on The Nightstand Podcast I thought it sounded awesome. What is National Readathon Day ? It's an event created by Penguin Random House where readers across the world will use the hours from 12 Noon  to 4PM on Saturday Jan. 24th 2015 to do nothing but read. You can do it in a school, in the library, at home or wherever and don't forget to #timetoread.

National Readathon Day is also a fundraiser for the National Book Foundation. You can raise money yourself or join a team and donate what you can to them. I'll be joining the Books on The Nightstand Team and I encourage you to because it's an awesome podcast hosted by two book lovers/ PRH employees.

Learn more about National Readathon Day on their website ! 

In many states libraries and bookstores  are hosting reading events. We have a couple near me in Virginia, but I'll probably be participating either from my couch or at a local coffee shop !

I'm not sure what I'll feel like reading that day. I have a little bit of  everything loaded up.

Kindle book- A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Hardcover - Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Paperback -  A Lot Like Love by Julie James
Graphic Novel - Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Review : Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase

  • Release Date: April 23rd 2013
  • Genre: New Adult/ Women's Fiction
  • Pages : 464
  • Publisher: Avon
The story of an American woman who discovers she is a duchess  sounded a lot more interesting when I started this book than when I finished. This concept of normal women finding themselves mixed up with royalty is nothing new with movies like The Princess Diaries and The Prince and Me but I couldn't find the same  charm in Suddenly Royal.

Samantha Rousseau is a graduate student working towards her PhD and taking care of her cancer stricken stepfather. Her life is turned upside down when it's discovered she is a long lost duchess from the France-expy country Lilaria. Suddenly this American girl is plucked from obscurity and into the world of royalty, paparazzi and fame all while  keeping her eyes out for Prince Alex aka Prince Yummy.

Chase executed the premise well, explaining how the families are being brought together but there wasn't much of a follow through as far as plot was concerned.

 I don't know if it was the cookie cutterhero or the low ball conflict but the more I thought about it the more I realized this wasn't the kind of story I expected. We get a lot of Sam going to Lilaria and about her responsibilities,  but honestly it wasn't that interesting. . . just a lot of people telling her things.  I wanted something more akin to the  first season of Downton Abbey. I wanted more awkward dinner parties, culture shock,  witty banter and actual tension between the leads..

The start of their romance sort of comes out of nowhere, I mean Prince Alex was so perfect he didn't have to try. He's a handsome blonde haired blue eyed prince, who runs a charity for a cause the heroine is passionate about. All of the men in the books (Except the gay ones and the one who is the hero in the next book) were portrayed as creepy jerks who only served to make Prince Alex even  more likeable. Prince Alex's only flaw is that he had a sex scandal a while ago and  that is really only mentioned off hand. There was nothing interesting about him.

For me this book read more like YA then NA. I mean sure the character are college aged but it is a pretty tame story until the last few  chapters which get unusually steamy, and just don't mesh with the rest of the book.

Suddenly Royal is one out of three in a series and this book is odd  to me.  I would have though the other boos would have been about the other found royabs, butthe second book Recklessly Royal is about Prince Alex's sister Cathy and the third book Reluctantly Royal is about his offhandedly mentioned brother, Maxwell.

Suddenly Royal is a lukewarm romance that lost its charm for me. I want a little bit more conflict and work for the HEA.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Kat Joins Bout of Books (Better Late Than Never ! )

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Wow, I didn't realize Bout of Books was this week ! This year the hosts of Bout of Books are doing no goals, which I think is great ! But I do want to list which books I'm going to be reading. It turned into a lot of contemporary YA, so I thew in some sci-fi adult titles. I'll be updating on Twitter and Goodreads !

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