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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Simon & Schuster Summer 2012 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which an upcoming, eagerly anticipated release is highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Simon & Schuster Summer 2012 Catalog:

The Unnaturalists
Date: August 14, 2012
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In an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.
Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.
As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world.

Steampunk is one of those genres that gets books automatically on to my TBR. I find that I just love the concept of steampunk so much that it often translates into a good, entertaining read and I expect The Unnaturalists will be no exception.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
Date: August 28, 2012
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Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that Mrs. Cavendish’s children’s home is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out . . . different, or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria, even if it means getting a little messy.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls sounds exactly like the kind of middle grade reads that I love: whimsical and fantastical, with a cute title and a good mystery. I am very excited for this one!

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Date: September 11, 2012
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In a desert land where serpents made of unbreakable glass fly through the sky and wolves made of only sand hunt within storms, Liyana is destined to be a vessel, to sacrifice herself so that her clan’s goddess can inhabit her body... but her goddess never comes.

The synopsis for Vessel is - at the moment, anyway - quite short and cryptic, but that doesn't mean it isn't one of the most intriguing blurbs I've ever read for a book. Flying glass serpents and wolves made out of sand? Vessel is High Fantasy at its utmost.

Burn For Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Date: September 18, 2012
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Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.
Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.
Four years ago, May left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.
Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.

Okay, so I'm not always such a fan of these catty, mean girl novels, but I have to say that Burn For Burn sounds like it would be quite engrossing. Plus, I always hear great things about Jenny Han's Summer Trilogy.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Simon & Schuster Summer 2012 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Simon & Schuster Summer 2012 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: Penguin/Dutton
Published: September 29, 2011
Pages: 338
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 STARS

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood.
When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

In short: Like Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is a fun contemporary with memorable characters and dialogue.
I feel like I could copy and paste my review for Anna and the French Kiss here, change a few character names, and it would work just as well for my review of Lola and the Boy Next Door. Unique, memorable, and loveable characters and fun and meaningful writing and dialogue characterize both Anna and Lola. Several story elements were also similar between the two. But instead of it bothering me that Stephanie Perkins didn't try to do anything too different with Lola, I welcomed the familiar tone, eager to get back into the plots and characters she has crafted.

It's an altogether strange feeling for me, this wanting to escape back to a non-magical, non-supernatural contemporary world. What happened to my exclusive love for bleak, well developed dystopian worlds or whimsical, fantastical ones? Well, I may be a bit dystopian and fantas-ied out. It was such a refreshing change to read about the everyday problems of life and relationships. And just because it's contemporary doesn't mean the problems faced by the characters are any less interesting than those faced by characters in dystopians or fantasies. I was completed hooked and interested in the plot and the characters from page 1.

Though I was able to relate more to Anna personally, that does not mean I liked Lola any less as a character. I loved her quirkyness, her bravery to be herself, and her growth from a relatively immature and somewhat selfish girl to a grownup. And don't ask me to choose between St. Clair and Cricket. But I will say that Cricket, in all his nerdy sweetness, is pretty much my ideal book guy. This all being said, I wouldn't say Lola and Cricket's personalities - or anyone else's in Lola, for that matter - are particularly realistic. Stephanie's characters tend to be a bit on the cartoonish side - all with slightly exaggerated character traits and passions - but for me, it works because I have a lot of fun reading about them.

(Side note: What is it about characters with four letter names beginning with L who have a propensity for bold, unapologetic strangeness? In addition to Lola, I'm thinking of course of Luna from Harry Potter and Lily from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.)

The take home message that I got from reading Lola and the Boy Next Door is that I need to start reading more contemporaries. I know I always say that, but somehow I still never actually carry it through, even though I always enjoy the contemporaries that I do read. It's time now though. I crave more variety in my reading. And I always appreciate recommendations!

Previously, my review of Anna and the French Kiss

Other Reviews:
The Bucket List
Hughes Reviews
Stalking the Bookshelves

Author Links:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: March 2007
Pages: 534
Source: Bought
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Caldecott Honor artist Brian Selznick's has 284 pencil drawings and actual photos (an old train engine falling from upper story to street below, Harold Lloyd in "Safety Lost", film stills) basing his story on facts. Automatons who could draw pictures, write poems, and sign the maker's name Maillardet, really existed, neglected in a museum. George Méliès, 1861 magician turned film-maker, son of shoemaker-magnate, built his own camera Kinétographe, and was rediscovered in 1926 working at his Gare Montparness railroad station toy kiosk. Fiction: orphan clock-winder 1931 Paris lad Hugo steals to eat and repair robot from father's notebook, until he meets Méliès' pretty god-daughter Isabelle accompanied by helpful film student Etienne. An unusual blend of graphic novel and history lesson results.

I was very curious about The Invention of Hugo Cabret when I first saw the trailer for the movie adaptation, Hugo, a few months ago. Though I was at first intimidated when I saw it in the bookstore due to its thickness and weight, I quickly realized that The Invention of Hugo Cabret is made up of mostly illustrations and its heaviness is due to the heftier paper used. It's these elements that make The Invention of Hugo Cabret truly a masterpiece in presentation.

It's the gorgeous illustrations by Brian Selznick that truly made The Invention of Hugo Cabret - every page was a treat to turn, every illustration perfectly plotted and drawn. I loved how the illustrations were laid out in a sort of flip book or storyboard series that seemed to mimic an old movie, lending itself perfectly to the theme of the book. I guess it doesn't technically count as reading, but it was a pleasure to follow along image by image. And to be honest, the writing was nice but not particularly special in any way - though perhaps that's because it is aimed toward a young age group.

Despite the average writing, I do still recommend reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret based on the wonderful illustrations alone. And it's a quick read! And I also highly recommend the movie adaptation, Hugo, which I actually liked more.

Other Reviews:
Alison Can Read
ComaCalm's Corner
YA Book Reads

Author Links:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stacking The Shelves (1)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase any books that I have received for review, bought, borrowed, or won to read.

I'm finally back to blogging after being without internet for a few weeks after I moved. I haven't yet conquered Google Reader (it's a little scary at the moment), but I plan on working at it this Sunday, catching up on my subscriptions, and commenting on posts that I have missed while I was away. It's nice to be back!

For Review

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer (Thanks to Simon & Schuster)
Changeling by Philippa Gregory (Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada)
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier (Thanks to Random House and NetGalley)

Big thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for Between the Lines and Changeling, both from traditionally adult authors having a go at YA - I'm interested to see how they turn out. I have been meaning to read something by Juliet Marillier for a long while so I'm excited to read Shadowfell.


Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Red Glove by Holly Black
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

I am absolutely dying to start Insurgent, but I need to finish my current read first. Red Glove is the last book I needed to buy to complete my Curse Worker Trilogy collection so I am pleased to have it. And I definitely needed to own Grave Mercy after reading it from NetGalley - now I can force it into other people's hands to get them to read it too!