Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday [19]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted over at Breaking The Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week (that I am not so secretly DYING to read) is Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick!

by Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Egmont Books
Publication Date: September 25th 2012
Add it to your shelf on Goodreads

The Apocalypse does not end.
The Changed will grow in numbers.
The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she thought Rule was a sanctuary for her and those she'd come to love.

But she was wrong.

Now she's in the fight of her life against the adults who would use her, the survivors who don't trust her, and the Changed who would eat her alive.

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ilsa J. Bick last year at the Ashes Launch Party at Changing Hands Bookstore. In fact it was the first author event I ever attended and Ilsa J. Bick was the first author I ever got a photo with and a signed book from! She is one of the coolest people you will ever meet. Seriously. But besides the fact that Ilsa is awesome her book Ashes is awesome too (have you not read it yet? What is wrong with you? GO READ IT NOW!) and it ended on one doozy of a cliffhanger so I am DYING to read Shadows. IF ANYONE HAS A COPY THAT THEY'RE WILLING TO LEND ME I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER!!! Just saying. :P

What book are absolutely dying for?

Julia :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Thoughts on Battle Royale: Or Why Comparisons to The Hunger Games are Understandable but Inconsequential

Battle Royale
by Koushun Takami
616 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Publication Date (America): February 26th 2003
Source: Library
Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads
Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as a violent exploitation when first published in Japan - where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller - Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.
I'm a HUGE fan of The Hunger Games so when I saw Battle Royale on a "What to read after The Hunger Games" list I immediately put it on hold at my Library. When I finally got the book it sat in my room for a few weeks and then I read about half of the first chapter (which is honestly only a couple of pages. Fail) before I had to return it. Over two years passed and I totally forgot about the book until THG movie started getting huge buzz and people got all up in arms over it being a blatant rip off of Battle Royale. Needless to say being the critical thinker that I am I decided that I had to read Battle Royale and judge the ripoffery for myself.

Verdict: Both are similar, different, and AWESOME.

The basic premise of Battle Royale is that 42 Jr. High Students (21 boys and 21 girls) are sent off to a deserted island to kill each other until there is only one survivor left. Each student is given a backpack with survival supplies and a random weapon which can range from a fork (sucks to be you!) or a machine gun. Additionally each student is fitted with an explosive device around their neck. If they try to escape it explodes, if they enter a forbidden zone on the island it explodes and if no students are killed within a 24 hour time period all the remaining students devices explode. This leads to a LOT of carnage within a very short period of time. The book spans only 3 days which is absolutely insane when you think about it. That many deaths in 3 days? Which brings me to discussing the violence....

Battle Royale is dark, gritty, and EXTREMELY violent. I have never read anything as violent as Battle Royale in my life. The descriptions of the death and carnage were so detailed and vivid that I could picture it all perfectly in my head. It wasn't exactly a nice mental picture. There were buckets of blood, tons of bullets, and countless ways characters died. While reading The Hunger Games the violence sort of flew over my head but in Battle Royale it was like a slap in the face. This book is not for the faint of stomach or anyone who is easily psychologically disturbed.

One thing I was worried about going into Battle Royale was the sheer number of characters and the fact that they all have unfamiliar Japanese names. I don't know about you guys but Japanese names can tend to sound the same to me. Fortunately I got the Japanese names straightened out pretty early on (at least of the main characters. There were a few instances when I got confused about supporting ones) so it didn't turn out to be as much of a problem as I expected. In fact I really liked the way the characters were explored in Battle Royale. Shuya, Noriko, and Shogo were decidedly the three main characters but the book wasn't entirely centered on them and their plight to survive. A lot of other characters also had chapters written from their point of view and sure, it was mostly to watch them get killed but it rounded out the novel nicely. I liked getting to step into the shoes of all the different characters, even if it was just for one chapter before they were unwittingly poisoned or had their throat slit. :P

The last thing I really have to point out about Battle Royale is that it is SO psychologically dark. A ton of the characters, from the Battle Royale superintendent to some of the students, were just plain evil. They killed without a thought or care for anyone or anything. It was like they were mindless machines and for one character he literally was a mindless machine because the part of his brain that controlled feelings and emotions was gone. Freaky? Totally. On top of that there is something so terribly heartwrenching about reading about characters who truly want to do the right thing and then end up dying because of their trusting nature or the untrusting nature of others. It may be fiction but it's still so SO sad to read about people dying for no good reason.

Battle Royale is a great book. It's horrifically violent and pretty psychologically disturbing but at the same time it's fairly thought provoking. But the thing is Battle Royale almost seems like it's just too much. This post is not about comparing The Hunger Games and Battle Royale but I feel that I really have to highlight the main difference I saw in these two books. Other people may not agree with my opinion which is totally fine but the biggest difference I noticed was that while The Hunger Games feels like a narrative against the violence Battle Royale almost seemed to be exploiting it. There was never really talk of keeping your humanity or the senselessness of the violence at all. In a way I liked that because as a Christian I do feel that man is inherently bad and will always go back to a baser nature of evil if given the chance but at the same time there really wasn't any hope in Battle Royale. It just felt like violence for violence sake with no real meaning. And the scariest thing of all is that I honestly enjoyed it. Even though it was extremely sick and twisted and terribly violent I still enjoyed Battle Royale. What does that say about me? Maybe I'm reading too much into this but it's frightening to think about.

I give Battle Royale 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Because of it's extremely violent and dark content I would not recommend Battle Royale to any young teens. However, if you're older and are looking for a fascinating thriller that's similar to The Hunger Games I would definitely recommend giving Battle Royale a read. Just be sure to know the limits of what you can handle violence wise because Battle Royale cuts it close for me and I can handle a lot.

I guess next up for me after reading the book is to watch the Battle Royale movie though I have to say I am a bit hesitant. If the movie is anything like the book violence wise (and from what I've read it is super graphic) I may end up spending most of the movie looking away from the screen. But I guess we'll see.

If there's anyone who has read the book/watched the movie I really want to hear your opinions so please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Julia :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kawaii Monday: Cutest Board Books EVER!

So awhile ago I was asked by a publisher if I might be interested in reviewing some board books. I'm a pretty avid babysitter so I figured "Hey why not see if these are any good" and so I looked up the books in question and just about died from the cuteness/awesomeness. So of course my response was "HECK YES I WILL FEATURE THOSE FO SHO!!!"

Allow me to introduce you guys to the wonderfulness of the BabyLit Board Books. Basically these are board books that take famous classics and use them to teach counting or colors. The concept is great and the execution great. The illustrations are whimsical and absolutely FREAKING ADORABLE. These are hands down the best educational board books I have ever run across. Me, my sister, and my mother all want our own sets of the BabyLit board books. They're that awesome.

Now that I've told you all about these cute board books you're probably dying to see pictures of them right? Yeah, I thought so. I was lucky enough to get sent copies of the Alice in Wonderland Color Primer and the Jane Eyre Counting Primer so behold: Photos of the cutest board books ever.

I mean look at those covers? How could anyone resist opening these?

These are some of my favorite pages from the Alice in Wonderland book:

And these are some of my favorite pages from the Jane Eyre one:

See why I want to own every single BabyLit board book?

Currently there are four BabyLit board books available for purchase.

Pride and Prejudice: A Counting Primer
Alice in Wonderland: A Colors Primer
Jane Eyre: A Counting Primer
Romeo and Juliet: A Counting Primer

There are also two more that are going to be published this fall but you can already check them out on Amazon!

Dracula: A Counting Primer (August 1, 2012)
A Christmas Carol: A Colors Primer (September 1, 2012)

If you want to get a closer look at the inside of any of the already published BabyLit books you can head on over to the Amazon links above and "Look Inside" each of them. They're all SUPER cute!

Do you guys love these board books as much as I do? Would you buy them? Which one is your favorite? What classic do you think they should use next? Personally I would love to see a Robin Hood counting book. Treasure Island would also be awesome!

Julia :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May Book Haul! :D


You might not have noticed but I've on a couple week long hiatus because of my move to California. I have now arrived (well I arrived a few weeks ago but that's besides the point...) and the internet is up and running so I can blog regularly again. Yay! So here's the books that I have procured since arriving in California.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (THANKS CRISTIAN!!!)

Cat Girl's Day Off by Kimberly Pauley (Thanks Tu Books!)

ARC Tour
The Other Life by Susanna Winnacker

Dark Water by Laura McNeal
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Clarity by Kim Harrington
The List by Siobhan Vivian

What books have you guys gotten this week? How's your summer going so far?

Julia :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Review: Out of Sight, Out of Time

Out of Sight, Out of Time
by Ally Carter
294 pages
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: March 13th 2012
Source: Library
Add this book to your shelf on Goodreads
The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan - an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an Alpine convent and discovers that months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie's summer vacation are the bruises on her body and dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.

Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It's a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.

If you are a fan of the Gallagher Girl's series by Ally Carter (which I totally am!) then you will NOT be disappointed by Out of Sight, Out of Time. Like previous installments this book will keep you on the edge of your seat and on top of that it will completely blow your mind. In fact the last 30 pages are absolutely insane and in the best kind of way! I cannot even fathom how Ally Carter comes up with this stuff. She is ingenious.

Out of Sight, Out of Time starts out with Cammie Morgan waking up in a convent in the middle of the alps. Her hair is died black, she has scrapes and bruises from unknown sources, and worst of all: she has absolutely no recollection of her summer vacation. None. Zip. Nada. This is what makes Out of Sight, Out of Time so unique. Unlike every other Gallagher Girl's book this one does not pick up where the last one left off so as a reader I was is just as lost and confused as Cammie which made me doubly eager to turn the pages and piece together the clues of her lost memory.

I will say that even though this book read at a breakneck speed and was full of twists and turns it isn't one of my favorites in the Gallagher Girls series. Don't get me wrong: It's amazing. I loved it. It's just that it read a bit like a filler novel. Like it was just written to fill the gap between all the craziness that was revealed in Only the Good Spy Young and then set up the final Gallagher Girls book. On top of that it read a bit like one of Ally Carter's Heist Society novels because the characters spent a lot of the book jet setting to exotic locales. Not that this is a bad thing but there wasn't a whole lot of spying in Out of Sight, Out of Time. It had more of a mystery feel to it (what with uncovering the clue's of Cammie's missing memory and all) than a spy feel which was a bit of a bummer. The spy elements are why I love the Gallagher Girls books!

But regardless of these few flaws Out of Sight, Out of Time is still a great read. If you're a Gallagher Girl's fan you will not be disappointed. And if you aren't a Gallagher Girl's fan what are you doing reading this review? GO READ THESE BOOKS NOW!

I give Out of Sight, Out of Time 4 out of 5 ice cream cones.

Julia :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Giveaway: Goddess Interrupted

Today I've got an awesome giveaway for you guys! Do you like mythological retellings, involving immortality, romance, and war between the gods? Then Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter is for you!

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry's first wife, Persephone.
Sounds awesome right?

Giveaway Info

What: A brand new copy of Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter!
Who: This is only open to residents of the US or Canada. Sorry other international peeps. :(
How: Just fill out the super easy Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Julia :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April Book Haul

It's been awhile since I've given you guys an update on my book situation so here it goes! There's some important announcement information at the end of the video so if you just want to see that skip ahead to about the 5 minute and 30 seconds mark.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Echo by Kate Morgenroth
Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Dramarama by E. Lockhart
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

So those are the books I've gotten during April!

Be sure to enter the two giveaways that I have going on right now! One is for a copy of The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa and the other is for a copy of Cat Girl's Day Off by Kimberley Pauley.

And in case you missed it I have a bunch of free ARC's I'm giving away (you just pay shipping) so if you want to get in on some of that be sure to check out what ARC's I have here.

Be sure to leave links to your book hauls in the comments below!

Julia :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Free ARCS!!!! :D

Hey Guys!

So you may or may not know (it really depends on if you follow my Twitter and if you don't WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Just kidding, but really go follow my Twitter) that I am moving to California in a few weeks. Because of this I am getting rid of some of my old ARC's. I'm giving these guys away completely free except that you will have to pay for shipping which will be $3 per ARC (if you want multiple ARCs it'll just be $1 per additional ARC). Here is a picture and list of the ARCs that I have available. Some of these are several years old but others are more recent.

So you want one or more of these ARCs? First things first you'll have to be able to pay for the shipping costs using Paypal. If that's not a problem then go ahead and email me at a_hobbit_of_the_shire(at)yahoo(dot)com and tell me which ARC(s) you're interested in and we'll work something out!

Julia :)
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