Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Title: The Sky is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson


Who Should Read It? EVERYONE! This book is beautiful and fluid and it will wrap itself around your heart.

What I Have to Say:
Words cannot express how utterly beautiful this book was. I would need a guitar. A whole band. And a singer with the voice of an angel. And even then that wouldn't be enough. All of the animals and trees and flowers would have to join in. The sky would have to join in. That's how beautiful this book was. How fluid and graceful and marvelous this book was.

I don't know if I really need to say anything else because what it comes down to is this: this book was good!

Lennie was charming and witty and intelligent and creative and completely and utterly screwed up. Life had sent a lot of crap her way, and while I wouldn't say that she took it in stride, what we ended up with was a beautiful mess. Life sent her a curve-ball, and she batted back in that quirky, unique way that only teenagers have mastered (and that they promptly forget when they reach 20). She digs herself in deeper and deeper until the only thing left to do is come out.
And the reader gets to be with her there the whole way through, digging with her. Nelson has crafted one unique human being with beautiful relationships and heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. I can't decide if I like Lenny best with her grandmother, her dead sister, her dead sister's boyfriend Toby, or Joe. Because all of the relationships are just perfect for what they are.

I will stop now. I could keep raving and glowing about this book for a long time, but I don't want to take away from the experience of actually reading it. I feel like I've probably already brought your expectations up to high. Just know this: this book was great, and you should read it.

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey
dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in
town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

Cover Story: I love this cover, and I think it is incredibly appropriate for this book. I love the beauty and the colors and how it makes me feel the exact same way that the book made me feel!

I reviewed this book as a part of the International Book Tours ARC review program. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

This week, I am waiting (very impatiently) on

Abandon by Meg Cabot

*This picture was borrowed without permission from Meg Cabot's web site.*

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Release Date: April 2011

Summary: hen Pierce first sees him, she thinks he is a murderer. She's right about one thing -- he does take lives. But not in the way she ever imagined. Pierce is drawn to the dark stranger even as she tries to uncover the mystery surrounding the tragic death of someone close to her. As she gets closer to the truth -- and the stranger -- unexpected secrets are revealed, even in her own heart.

It's Meg Cabot. I don't think I need any further justification for waiting with bated breath for the release of this book!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (12)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

So, this week I have a fairly odd love about which I want to write.
It's odd for many reasons, one of which being that it's a food that's not even on my top ten list of favorite foods.
And yet, I ADORE it.
And for a food that's not up in my favorites, I sure do spend a lot of time thinking about it and salivating over it. And eating it, of course.

What is this mystery food, you wonder?


This stuff is delicious. And plus, it's super healthy and super versatile. It's a complete protein, which is fabulous for vegans like me (mostly when it comes to answering the question "Where do you get your protein?"), it's high in fiber, magnesium (keep your heart healthy and keep those good enzymes working), riboflavin (which theoretically helps to detoxify the liver), it helps maintain good cholesterol, and it can help stabilize your blood sugar.

Really, though, it's just delicious. It's got the perfect texture, and mixed with a little curry, lime, and coconut milk, it is absolutely divine. It's got it's own wonderful flavor, but it also picks up the flavors of foods super easily (kinda like tofu), so it's really the perfect food to cook with.

Not convinced? Try some for yourself.
I know I had my tempeh for dinner tonight!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Title: Foundation

Author: Isaac Asimov


Who Should Read It? all lovers of science fiction

What I Have to Say:
Foundation is a reread for me (I read it way back when I was in high school), and to be honest, I can't decide if I liked it more then or if I liked it more now. Which probably means that I felt the same way about it both times.
Which is that it is a well-written, intriguing work of thoughtful science fiction.
When it comes down to it, Foundation is the type of science fiction that I SHOULD love. It takes place in a believable, scary future, Earth isn't remembered or maybe doesn't even exist, the entire galaxy is populated, and there are lots of cool future gadgets. More than that, it is filled with intelligent people who have to think in interesting, convoluted ways to make the things that happen happen. It even starts off with a mathematician - brilliance!

And that is why I DID love this book - I loved trying to figure out how the people were going to think or how they were thinking and what conclusions this would lead them to. It was like a mystery, but one in which you just have to unravel intelligence. The narrative flows beautifully, and the plot is just complex enough to keep you exited and thinking without feeling like Asimov was trying too hard.

When it comes down to it, Foundation really is the perfect science fiction novel, and it's no wonder that it won the Hugo and was named "Best Science Fiction Series of All Time."

But (you knew there was a but coming), I'm not the hugest fan of short stories, and Foundation is, essentially, a series of short stories. Granted, the short stories are so well-linked that you sometimes forget, but when it comes down to it, each chapter is a new story. In each chapter, at least 50 years have passed since the last one, entirely new characters are introduced, and the old ones, for the most part, are rarely mentioned again. The thing linking them is Harri Seldon and the Foundation that he created. It is because of this that, even though I loved it, I can't say that I LOVED it.

Still, Foundation is one tight piece of work, and I would recommend it to any and all lovers of science fiction. I mean, when it comes to science fiction, this is it! And I know I'll be rereading the others in the series as well!

Summary: For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire had ruled supreme. Now it is dying a slow death from entropy and corruption. Only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future - a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare. Knowledge will decay and order will vanish. Interstellar wars will be endless; interstellar trade will come to a halt. Populations will suffer catastrophic declines and worlds will lose touch with the main body of the Galaxy." "So to preserve the accumulated wisdom of the ages and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire - both scientists and scholars - and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation." But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice. They can either submit to the barbarians and live as slaves - or take a stand for freedom and risk total destruction.

Cover Story: Frankly, not a fan. It seems plain and slightly boring even for this book. And the color? Hideous! So not my thing!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nihon No Kinyoubi (15) Review: Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a weekly feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

This week I thought I would treat you guys to a review of a book of Japanese stories that I absolutely loved! Since it's close to Halloween, I think it's especially appropriate!!

Title: Kwaidan

Author: Lafcadio Hearn

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? This is a fabulous book for anyone interested in ghost stories or Japan!

What I Have to Say:
Kwaidan is a beautiful selection of Japanese ghost stories; some of them are horrifying, some of them are touching, and all of them provide an intricate look into the many subtleties that make up the Japanese culture. I am greatly enjoyed each and every story in this book, and each of them I enjoyed for different reasons. Some of the stories were translations of old Japanese texts wheras, for others, this book was the first place they were ever written. The author heard them while traveling through small-town Japan and enjoyed them so much that he transcribed them. Because of this, it is somewhat difficult to write a real review. The stories are not his; they aren't even retellings, but the author does an amazing job of transcribing/translating them and making them his own. Obviously, some things are lost in translation, but the author did a great job of minimalizing this loss, and I really feel like I got the full effect of what was originally being said.

At the end of this book, there was a brief study of insects in relation to Japanese culture which I found absolutely FASCINATING. I found the sections on ants and butterflies to be especially enjoyable (though I should perhaps note that I am slightly obsessed with ants). The chosen poems and texts along with the author's observations and commentary gave me great insight as to the roles that insects played (and insects are VERY prominent in Japan) in ancient Japan.

I GREATLY enjoyed this book (and learned a lot!), and, for the first time in a very long time, I found myself so enraptured that I couldn't stop myself from staying up into the wee hours of the morning reading. I highly recommend this selection of stories to anyone who is even remotely interested in Japanese culture.

Summary: KWAIDAN is a collection of weird, ghostly legends and beliefs of old Japan. Hearn spent 14 years in Japan, translating into English with superb effect the atmosphere of the tales which he avidly collected.

Based on Japanese literature and folklore, KWAIDAN contains 17 stories. The stories of Loichi, the blind biwa player who was called to perform for the dead; of Muso, the journeying priest who encountered a man-eating goblin; of the samurai who outwitted the ghost of a dead man. All these plus 14 other spooky tales are included in this collection.

Cover Story: It's so creepy and Japanesey and perfect! I absolutely LOVE it! With a capital heart! :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

C'est La Folie by Michael Wright

Title: C'est La Folie

Author: Michael Wright


Who Should Read It? If you have any interest in life in France, with a little bit of humour and a lot of heart, this is the perfect book for you!

What I Have to Say:
Well, I would say that Michael Wright is back in all his glory, because for me he is. But given that this is actually his first book about his life at La Folie, and the first book I read was the second, technically he's not back.
With all of the same places and characters I grew to love in Je T'aime A La Folie, it certainly felt like I was thrown back into a world that I had already grown to love.

C'est La Folie is the endearing story of a man who, on what seems like a whim, decides to move to the middle of nowhere France. He's looking for adventure, and he's on a quest to become a hero, even though it seems to me he's already somewhat of a hero. I guess it just depends on your definition of hero.

Oddly enough, the bulk of this book actually seems to be about the renovations of his home and the raising of his animals, which in and of itself doesn't sound all that appealing. And yet - he has laced each and every fabulous tale that he has to tell (don't go thinking from that statement that this book reads like a book of short stories - it so doesn't; it is a strong, full-fledged novel) with just enough humour and self-mockery so as to make nearly passage laugh out loud funny. Or, at the very least, lamentably painful, as the reader can so easily relate to some of his horror stories. It was great for me to get to know some of the characters from the first book as Michael saw them when he originally met them. And, though I didn't think it possible, I found myself even more attached to his wonderful sheep and chickens!

Michael's writing is fluid, endearing, enjoyable, and, did I mention, FUNNY! After living in France for three years, I really thought there was nothing that could make me want to move back, but this wonderful travel story has me craving to live somewhere in "deepest, darkest France." I'm now convinced that it really must have just been Paris.

The only real problem that I had with this book was the somewhat vivid descriptions of animal husbandry and animal killing (okay, so the killing descriptions weren't really THAT vivid, but they were still too vivid for me). I really would have rathered NOT know that he killed chickens, etc. . . The book would have been wonderful and the perfect length if he had just left those parts out.

Anyhow, wonderful and wonderfully endearing travel memoir, and it comes heartily recommended here at Brizmus Blogs Books. If you have any interest in France, read this book, and I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Summary: In 2004, Michael Wright turned his back on Blighty to begin a new life as the owner of a dilapidated 15th century farmhouse called "La Folie". This is a comic memoir about a clinically social bloke rejecting the world of parties and attempting to learn how to become an old-fashioned man.

Cover Story: Once again, and adorably whimsically wonderful cover to fit an adorably whimsically wonderful book!

Thanks so much to Elizabeth at Transworld books for sending me a review copy of this book! This in no way affected my review!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (11)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

So I have fallen in love.

With a jacket.

I am serious, this is THE most amazing jacket I have ever seen. I walked into the store and found myself DRAWN to it, and then I just had to stare at it. And stare some more. And then a little more.

And then come home and search and search until I found it on the internet.

Annnnnnd, unfortunately my computer is not presently letting me upload photos, so you'll just have to go to the website to see how wonderful it is I'll come back and post the picture when I can.

Have you looked? Isn't it FABULOUS!

There's three colors - white, pink, and black, and I ADORE them all, and I WILL have this jacket someday, but I absolutely CAN'T decide which color I need. What do you guys think? Which color do you like best?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Mini Shopaholic

Author: Sophie Kinsella


Who Should Read It? This is a great book for fans of Sophie Kinsella and the Shopaholic series. While I ADORED this book (enough to give it 5 stars!), I think it's best to already have a reading relationship with Becky before reading it as, well, she is SLIGHTLY neurotic. :-)

What I Have to Say:
I hate this book. Why?, you may wonder. Because I LOVED it so much. And now nothing seems to live up to it. I mean, I am enjoying the book I'm reading now, but I can't help but keep thinking "I WANT MORE BECKY BLOOMWOOD!" I love her! I love Sophie Kinsella, and it's possible that, aside some brief frustration in the beginning, this is THE best yet in the Shopaholic series.

In Mini Shopaholic, Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is BACK and more compulsively crazier and fabulous than ever. Her antics are everything readers of the Shopaholic series have come to expect - and more. Especially now that she has her two year old, Minnie, growing up under her influence. While Minnie and Minnie's relationship with her mother are sometimes slightly frustrating (you're just going to have to read the book if you want to know why), will immediately hook the reader in and entertain them nonstop right up until the end.

Whoever decided that Becky should/could have children (perhaps Sophie Kinsella of herself!) must have been crazy - and brilliant. It is hilariously entertaining, and the background of the financial crisis and the big CB (cut back) just make it all the more so. In Mini Shopaholic, Kinsella has masterfully constructed a hilarious, crazy story that will leave you wanting more and feeling like you maybe got a little bit too much at the same time.

And that's really the only problem with this book. With Becky's crazy antics and Becky's mother's crazy antics and Minnie's crazy antics and Janice's crazy antics, it can sometimes be a bit much, and for people that aren't already familiar and in love with the Shopaholic series, I can see how it could be a bit difficult. Unless, you're perhaps a little bit crazy. And then you'll relate. Like I do.

Seriously, though, this book is good. And if you love the Shopaholic series, the chances of you continuing to love it with this book are high. It's fabulous! And trust be, you'll be losing sleep waiting for Sophie Kinsella to write the next book in the series! I can't wait!

Summary:While motherhood has been everything Becky dreamed it would be—Baby Dior, Little Marc Jacobs, and Dolce & Gabbana for toddlers—adorable Minnie is wreaking havoc everywhere she goes, from Harrods to her own christening. Her favorite word is “MINE!” and her penchant for Balenciaga bags, Chanel sunglasses, and online purchases has no rival under age five.

Becky is at her wits end. On top of this, she and her husband Luke are still living with her parents. Thankfully it appears house buying attempt number four is a go! Until a huge financial crisis causes panic everywhere, and nobody wants to shop—not Becky’s personal shopping clientele, not her friends, nobody. And with Luke in the doldrums, it’s time for Becky to step in—with a party: A surprise birthday party for Luke (on a budget) is the perfect antidote to everyone’s woes. At first.

Will Becky manage to keep the party of the year a surprise? Can she hire jugglers, fire-eaters, and acrobats at a discount? Will enlisting the help of Luke’s unflappable assistant to convince him to have another baby realize her dream of matching pom-poms? Will Minnie find a new outlet for her energetic and spirited nature (perhaps one with sixty percent markdowns)? She is, after all, a chip off the old shopping block. And everyone knows a committed shopper always finds a way.

Cover Story: I think both the British and the American covers are adorable - exactly what a Shopaholic series book needs!

Disclosure: THanks so much to Elizabeth of Transworld Books for sending me a review copy of this book! It in no way affected my review of this book.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CSN Winner!

Okay, so I know I know, I'm super slow, as this closed over a week ago, but I've FINALLY found time to announce that the winner of a $50 gift certificate to be used at any of the amazing CSN Stores, picked by, is


Congratulations, Tara! I've sent you an e-mail.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nihon No Kinyoubi (14)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a weekly feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

So, if you'll recall, last week I posted the number one book in literature for the week.

Well, I got some interesting comments on it. The first of which is that a better translation of the title would be "What if the female manager of the high school baseball team read 'Drucker's Management?'." And it totally is. I somehow had added a word to the end of the Japanese title that wasn't actually there, and now that it's gone, it makes so much more sense.

So there.

The other is that, apparently, someone has translated the first chapter, and the translation can be found HERE.

I would highly recommend going to check it out, as it is quite interesting, I find, so see what the Japanese are interested in right now, especially as it's so different from what the English speaking part of the world seems to be interested in.

And that's it for this week.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Title: Soulless

Author: Gail Carriger


Who Should Read It? Anyone into steampunk or quirk or hideous hats and parasols. This book is ace!

What I Have to Say: So while this wasn't my first foray into steampunk, it was my first foray into the genre known as steampunk romance, and let me just say: thank goodness I didn't let that little word "romance" scare me.

Everything about this book is quirky and exciting. It is the quirkiness, I think, that makes this book so unique, and the non-stop excitement that makes this book so fabulous.

I'm not usually one to go in for British humour (seriously - all those books like Georgia Nicholson that everyone think are HILARIOUS usually do little more than just annoy me), but somehow the humour in this book (and the occasional degrading of Americans and Italians) had me laughing out loud on a regular basis.
For someone without a soul, Alexia Tarabotti sure brings a lot of soul to this book - she is fun, quirky, strong-willed, opinionated, intelligent - put all of this together, and you've got the perfect narrator for a book including flamingly gay vampires, scruffy, uncontrollable werewolves, useful parasols, and hideous hats.

Of course, I think one of the reasons that I liked this book so much is that I really enjoy a lot of build-up before any real action happens. And while I do ENJOY action, if it's not done PERFECTLY, I sort of just glaze over it. This book is not lacking in build up. I have heard a lot of people say that it is slow to get started, and while I don't agree, I can understand where they're coming from. ESPECIALLY if you're not used to reading things with lots of language and words that you might not understand (and therefore having to read through all of the descriptions). Even if you're not like me, though, once this book finally does get moving, it's fabulousness does not stop. And there is plenty of action and quirk hiding at every twist and turn for those of you out there that are action addicted. Who can help but love a heroine who will, no matter what the cost, have her tea?

My biggest problem with this book was the occasional slightly racy love scene. I know people like me are few and far between, but reading about "sex" really rubs me the wrong way. I mean, my favorite love stories in books are those that end with one, sweet kiss. Nothing more. And while Soulless is not over the top by any means, there's still a little more of that in it than would suit my tastes. That said, there is mega chemistry between the two love interests, and Carriger did an amazing job of building that up throughout the book.

So, in other words, if you're one of the few like me to be late in the reading of Soulless game, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!? Get yourself a copy now. You will not regret it.

Summary:Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Cover Story: Honestly, it's the cover, more than the title or the summary or the reviews that I read, that originally had me wanting to read this book. There's something about the dress and the parasol and the hideous gray background that just scream interesting and exciting to me!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Nobel Prize for Literature and Picking Books Based on Winnings

For someone who adores books as much as I do, I really spend VERY little time thinking about which book is going to or has one what award.

You would think that this should be something that would interest me - as someone who reads books of pretty much every genre, I have to be fairly picky about the books that I choose to read, and winning an award SHOULD be a marker of quality. And yet, every time I have read a book because it won some award or another, I have been disappointed.

Clearly my definition of quality is not the same as that of the award givers.

Man Booker, for example, has done very little other than disappoint me. While I do think that, in general, the Hugo Award and the Nebula award are a great way to find some quality science fiction, they aren't always consistent. And every time I have decided to read a book because they HAVE won this award, I have been disappointed.
As such, when I heard that Mario Varcas Llosa had won the Nobel Prize for literature this year, I'd never heard of him or any of his book, so I said "eh" and moved on with my life, not giving it a second thought. I mean, in 2008 and 2009, the books picked were "poetic," which is usually NOT my thing.

The last time I took an interest in the Nobel Prize for Literature was in 2001, when V.S. Naipul won the prize, and that's only because I already love him. In 1998, Jose Saramago won the prize, and while I adored Blindness, I didn't actually know that the author was a Nobel Literature Laureate until AFTER reading the book.

Choosing to read books because they've won a prize - so not my thing.

And yet, since hearing the announcement this year, I find myself consistently checking out the goodreads and amazon pages for "Aunt Julia and the Screenwriter," and the more I look at the cover and read the summary, the more I want to read this book. And staring at it long enough has of course also led me to the pages for "Death in the Andes" and "Bad Girl" and I'm seriously thinking about giving in reading at least one of his books based on a Nobel recommendation.

So what do you guys think? Do you often pick books based on the prizes they have won? Are there any prizes that you particularly trust?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Dead Boy Talking by Linda Strachan

Title: Dead Boy Talking

Author: Linda Strachan


Who Should Read It? If you're interested in slow-moving but intense YA that delves seriously into one topic, this is for you. It's reminiscent of S.E. Hinton, but a little less simple and a little less beautiful.

What I Have to Say:
I was actually a little taken by surprise by this book. My first reaction was that Linda Strachan is trying hard to be S.E. Hinton and failing. And in a way, even after having finished the book, I still feel that way. I mean, she's taken a teenage boy who's a little rough around the edges, but who still remains a good person, and thrown him in to the gritty real-world of knives and loss and "hard times." And yet she just doesn't write with the poise and grace of S.E. Hinton. For the entire first third of the book (and in a book as short as Dead Boy Talking, that's a lot), I found Josh's character distinctly unbelievable.

A third of the way through, though, this book picked up for me. Strachan finally got around to telling the parts of the story that, to me, needed to be told. She finally developed Josh enough for me to be capable of believing him and believing in him as a character. It made sense why he was the way he was and why he thought the things he thought and did the things he did. And as this happened, Strachan was finally able to break away from my constant comparisons to Hinton and create a novel that is, without a doubt, worth a read.

Dead Boy Talking goes back and forth between fist person and third person narrative - we hear the story leading up to how Josh found himself lying in a pool of his own blood and the story as Josh thinks back over the events as he is slowly dying. It is gritty, it is real, and it is heart-breaking.

While the book is, on the surface, about knife crime, Strachan brilliantly weaves in the story of what it is like to be a teenager. When we're teenagers (or, let's face it, even adults), it's so easy to get caught up in trying to be our reputations that we often forget who we are and what is important to us. It's easy to forget that everyone has problems; what is important is how we deal with them. The alternation between first person and third person narrative allows the reader to understand just how important our decisions and reactions are. It also broaches the subject of knife-crime and teenage runaways in a completely real, no-nonsense way.

So, while it took me a while to be convinced by this book, in the end it hit me hard, and I think it will hit you hard, too. I found myself sobbing towards the very end. It also sends an important message to teens about the impact of running away and on the dangers of knife crimes. Read this book, and I don't think you will be disappointed.

Summary: Josh has 25 minutes left to live. Lying alone in a pool of blood, Josh has not much time to think. Yesterday he stabbed his best mate, and now it has happened to him. But there are questions he cannot get out of his head. Like, how did he get into this mess? Will anyone find him in time? Will his girlfriend forgive him, and what really happened to his older brother? As his life slips away, the events of the last 24 hours start to look very different.

Cover Story: It is sharp and concise, just like knives and just like the book.

Disclosure: I won a copy of this book from the Bookette.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nihon No Kinyoubi (13)

Nihon no Kinyoubi (Japanese Friday) is a weekly feature here at Brizmus Blogs Books inspired by French Friday, which is a weekly feature hosted by Charlotte at the Book on the Hill. Charlotte features French bookish things, and I plan on featuring Japanese bookish things, though I won't limit myself if I find something non-bookish that I think will interest you guys.

This week's post will be short, as the day has been EXHAUSTING, and I am in need of SLEEP! Thought you guys might be interested to see what the number one seller in literature on Amazon is this week.

It's a book that, oddly enough, I've been seeing around a lot lately., THe title, in Japanese, is pronounced "moshi koukouyakyuu no joshi maneejaa ga dorakkaa no 'manejimento' wo yondara 'tankoubon'," which translates loosely and with my limited Japanese to something like "If you read Drucker's high school baseball girl manager's special management book."
I'm obviously missing something, and yet, I feel inspired to read this.

Until next week. . .

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Acacia: The War With the Mein by David Anthony Durham

Title: Acacia: the War With the Mein

Author: David Anthony Durham


Who Should Read It? If you love epic style fantasy, then this absolutely the book for you. It is super good, for real!

What I Have to Say:
So, I'm a HUGE fan of fantasy, but it's been an extraordinarily long time since I last read an epic fantasy like Acacia. To be honest, I think I've always been a little bit afraid of them - I mean, they tend to be SO long, and there are SO MANY other books that I want to read that I'm sort-of afraid to "waste" my time with such a lengthy book. But then, when I read one, I NEVER feel like it was time wasted.

Acacia, the beginning of the Acacia Trilogy was no exception to this. It was long, but it was in no way time wasted. And it's funny - because of how extraordinarily engaging and awesome it was, I found that I read it more quickly than the typical shorter book that I read. Acacia was a true case of "I can't put this book down!"

Acacia is separated into three different books, and it almost seems as if each one of them should be reviewed separately despite the way they so easily flow one into the other.

In the first book, we learn about the Empire, how it was formed, and the horrrible evils of slavery and the Mist that are associated with the empire. Most importantly, we get to know the four Akaron children as children of the kind king, members of the Empire, and we begin to get to know the Mein. What was so interesting about this was that, while the Mein were so clearly supposed to be the bad guys and the Empire the good guys, it was really hard for me to pick anyone out as a real good guy or a real bad guy. Durham did a masterful job at allowing us to see how evil really is in the eye of the beholder. More than that, we saw how people can remain truly good while promoting and being a part of something extraordinarily evil.

In the second book, the Akaron children are all carted off to four different corners of the Empire, and while things don't go exactly as planned, they all find themselves in completely unique situations that allow them to mature into strong but very different people. The fact that they each grew up in a different race, surrounded by different beliefs and different cultures allowed the reader to really get a grasp for this world and the ways in which it parallels the world in which we live today. It also allowed him to continue with his theme of good versus evil. This second book was, by far, my favorite of the three. It was easily the most solid and most well written of the three, and I found it so exciting to get to learn about all these different cultures while still knowing that it was leading up to something big and exciting. It was interesting and fun to compare these fictional, fantasy worlds with those that we know today or have known in the past.

In the third book, well, I don't want to give too much away, but Durham ends us off with an absolute BANG! Things come to a climax with a boom, mixing the unexpected with the expected, the good with the evil, and ideals with treachery. It has you feeling utterly satisfied while still craving more, more, MORE!

The characters are extraordinarily well-developed, living, breathing beings, and this in no way takes away from the aliveness and realness of the worlds he created. No word was wasted, everything was beautifully described and played out. Durham has a way with words that, in the epic fantasy, had room to flourish. I've never read anything else by him, but I would say this is his genre. This book was great! And I am SO psyched to have the second one waiting. I would be much disturbed if I had to wait.

Summary: Leodan Akaran, ruler of the Known World, has inherited generations of apparent peace and prosperity, won ages ago by his ancestors. A widower of high intelligence, he presides over an empire called Acacia, after the idyllic island from which he rules. He dotes on his four children and hides from them the dark realities of traffic in drugs and human lives on which their prosperity depends. He hopes that he might change this, but powerful forces stand in his way. And then a deadly assassin sent from a race called the Mein, exiled long ago to an ice-locked stronghold in the frozen north, strikes at Leodan in the heart of Acacia while they unleash surprise attacks across the empire. On his deathbed, Leodan puts into play a plan to allow his children to escape, each to their separate destiny. And so his children begin a quest to avenge their father's death and restore the Acacian empire–this time on the basis of universal freedom.

ACACIA is a thrilling work of literary imagination that creates an all-enveloping and mythic world that will carry readers away. It is a timeless tale of heroism and betrayal, of treachery and revenge, of primal wrongs and ultimate redemption. David Durham has reimagined the epic narrative for our time in a book that will surely mark his breakthrough to a wide audience.

Cover Story: It's weird - I read this book on my kindle, and I had never actually SEEN the cover until right now when I was looking for a picture of it to put in the post. I can't even remember the last time when a cover in NO WAY affected my desire to read a book. My afterimpression of the cover is no more than a noncommittal "eh."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Basically, I pick a book I'm excited about that's coming out sometime soon.

Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliette Marillier

Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Release Date: December 7, 2010

Summary:The young seer Sibeal is visiting an island of elite warriors, prior to making her final pledge as a druid. It’s there she finds Felix, a survivor of a Viking shipwreck, who’s lost his memory. The scholarly Felix and Sibeal form a natural bond. He could even be her soul mate, but Sibeal’s vocation is her true calling, and her heart must answer.

As Felix fully regains his memory, Sibeal has a runic divination showing her that Felix must go on a perilous mission—and that she will join him. The rough waters and the sea creatures they will face are no match for Sibeal’s own inner turmoil. She must choose between the two things that tug at her soul—her spirituality and a chance at love…

So, this is the fifth book in a series that I haven't started yet. Mostly because I had never heard of it before. But I've been reading a lot of epic fantasy lately, and while I don't think it exactly fits the bill, it looks AMAZING! Five books in already, but I'm thinking I might start this series!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Things I Love As Much as Books (10)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!


I know I mentioned it before in my I am so all about the unicorns! post, but the fact is that I really do just love them. I mean, I am so totally all about the unicorns.

The greatest Christmas present I ever received was a stuffed unicorn that was the size of a small horse. I call him Uni, I cried when I saw him, and I still have him to this day.

And then this is one of my favorite puzzles that I have ever done.

When I was 12 years old, I used to dream that a unicorn would pick me up and fly me away to my new home, which would of course be a big, beautiful house with a mural of the New Kids on the Block on the side.

So yeah, unicorns. I love 'em!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins


Who Should Read It? lovers of witches and fun, fluffy, magical paranormal who are looking for a short escape from the world!

What I Have to Say:
Wow! That's what I have to say about this. I have been super mega crazy busy lately balancing full time school work with what feels like a full time job, and this book was really just what the doctor ordered. It was fun, it was fluff, and it was full of mean witches and nice witches and, most importantly, MAGIC!

Hex Hall has a very typical plot: a witch who doesn't know about her background finds herself in a boarding school where there are mean people and nice people, an especially hot but taken guy, and some extra suspicious and creepy things happening. It is written with such humour and pizazz (I really can't think of a better word), though, that that's where the comparisons to other books end, and Hex Hall ends up coming across as fun and fresh and unique.

First of all, Sophie Mercer the witch is a teen that everyone can like. She's so sure of herself and of being good that it was sometimes hard to believe that she was actually a teenager. She came across as a very Meg Cabot-esque character, which, to me, can be nothing but good. She was adorably witty and quirky, and an absolute pleasure to read.

And plus, she did magic. She wasn't one of those witches that I read about far too often in books that aren't allowed to do their magic or aren't allowed to use their magic or for some other ridiculous reason just don't use their magic. No, she used it - she cast love spells and hair dye spells and all sorts of other fun things, and of course she usually messed them up, which made it that much better.

I loved this book. It was totally Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Meg Cabot - throw in any number of other mythical creatures and a bit of scary intrigue, and you've got Hex Hall. It's nothing serious, but it really is a marvelous escape from the world for a few hours! If that's what you're looking for, definitely pick this book up!

Summary: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Cover Story: I think both the British and American covers are awesome, and they both totally make me want to read the book - the British one because it reminds me of that totally rad movie the Craft and the American one because it looks magic and innocent at the same time. And yet, I don't really think that either really fits all that well with the book.

My Contests

None for now!