Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Silver by Talia Vance

Title: Silver
Author: Talia Vance
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Flux
Length: 374
Original Publishing Date: September 8th, 2012
Series: Bandia #1
Where I got it: E-library

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

"As I step into the room, a silver flash blurs my vision. Before I can take a breath, the world falls away."

Brianna has always felt invisible. People stare right past her, including the one boy she can't resist, Blake Williams. But everything changes at a house party where Brianna's charm bracelet slips off and time stands still. In that one frozen, silver moment, Blake not only sees her, he recognizes something deep inside her she's been hiding even from herself.

Discovering she is descended from Danu, the legendary Bandia of Celtic myth, Brianna finds herself questioning the truth of who she is. And when she accidentally binds her soul to Blake, their mutual attraction becomes undeniable.

But Blake has his own secret, one that could prove deadly for them both.

Bound together by forbidden magic, Brianna and Blake find themselves at the heart of an ancient feud that threatens to destroy their lives and their love.

 
Main characters: 3.5/5

Brianna at the beginning of the novel was very insecure about herself in comparison to her best friend, Haley. Obviously this could be a little frustrating to read at first and I wanted to bash her head in, but it also created a good base level for change. Brianna felt well developed to me and I loved the connection to her horse, Dart, and her relationship with her parents and friends. I wish I had gotten to known Blake better. Don't get me wrong, I liked him and I felt he had a good mix of likable and mysterious, but I wanted to know his background, his motivations, his family, etc. I liked Brianna and Blake together because they had what I could imagine was a normal relationship: lust, emotional attraction, and then love. The fact that the lust happened first isn't something that is limited to paranormal novels! Blake was a little hot and cold for a while but I could imagine what was going through his head and it didn't end up bothering me too much. 

Secondary characters: 3/5

Well, unlike the last few books I've read recently, Silver had a vast array of secondary characters and they were surprisingly well characterized. I felt like I knew at least the basics for nearly all of them, however, which can be a pretty impressive feat when you're juggling this many sidekicks and villains. I wish that a couple characters had a more positive portrayal in the novel though: Brianna's two best friends, Joe, and Jonah to name a few. I think that a couple more positive, deep tidbits about them would make them more personable and humanize them. 

Writing style: 4/5

Vance's writing was witty, clever and subtly funny. She often threw in little allusions or quips into the writing that the reader might miss if they weren't paying attention. It was easy to hear Brianna's voice coming straight through the writing, which was fantastic. There were a couple points where the descriptions crossed the line into cheesy and made me groan, but they were few and far between. The pacing was also superb- I finished this book in one day!

Plot: 3/5 
The plot was unique. There were certainly aspects that were overdone, stereotypical or cheesy, but I had never read anything particularly like this and the story drew me in. The mystery intrigued me from the beginning and kept me reading voraciously. The negatives were the complexity of the plot (there was a lot of backstory and it became a little overwhelming) and the fact that I saw the twists coming from a mile away.

Ending: 2.5/5

There will definitely be a sequel (and there was a good deal of set up for the next book), but there was closure to Silver that left me satisfied with how the first one ended. Because Vance was preparing the readers for the next conflict, the ending started to drag out a little. There was a lot of post-conflict information and scenes that kept pulling the ending out farther and farther. There were also a lot of mini-conflicts after the climax and I didn't necessarily like that. I like my one main conflict to be solved and then the book to wrap itself up relatively quickly.

Best scene: The one where Brianna gives Matt dating advice


Reminded Me Of: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Positives: Brianna's character development, the unique plot points/background, the writing style

Negatives: Some cheesy aspects, the fact that Blake was a little underdeveloped, some slut-shaming of female characters


Cover: The cover looks a little fake and photo-shopped and there's a lot going on. Not my favorite.


Verdict: The unique mythology and quick-paced writing style made this novel a fast read!


Rating:  6.4 / 10 (4 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme is Top Ten Authors I Own the Most Books By

Conveniently, I just created an Excel spreadsheet of every book I own, so I know EXACTLY how many books by each author I own.
  1. Straight up, Tamora Pierce. I own every single book she's ever written
  2. J.K. Rowling: Obviously I own the whole Harry Potter series
  3. Virginia Woolf. I took an Honors College class freshman year that was focused on her writing and I did a huge research project on her works. 
  4. Meg Cabot. I'm relatively surprised that she's in my top ten, but I guess all of her Princess Diaries books still inhabit my shelves so....
  5. Shakespeare. Yup, typical English major, but I have multiple volumes of his complete works along with plenty of single books.
  6. Stephanie Meyer. Wow, this is embarrassing. You can tell by the fact that she's on this list that I don't have many authors that I buy everything from, because just by owning the Twilight series and The Host, she makes it onto my top ten. 
  7. James Patterson: Yeah, I used to love the Maximum Ride series
  8. I love reading Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Her books always capture me in their story and I've read a lot more than I own.
  9. Obviously, F. Scott Fitzgerald is on this list, given that I wrote my senior thesis this past year on him.
  10. There's a bunch tied for third, which include Jane Austen, Suzanne Collins, Lisa McMann, Libba Bray and Kathy Reichs.
What about you guys? Do you own all the books of a particular author? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Analyze This: Getting Personal



I was recently scrolling about the Blogosphere when I landed on some blogs that weren't book blogs. Now, I don't really read a lot of blogs that aren't book blogs. This is my personal niche and I already spend enough time as it is about the Book Blogosphere already. But that being said, I stumbled upon a blog called The Well, a blog that captures the creative and organizational aspects of blogging across nearly all genres. This blog raised a lot of questions for me about The Book Analyst. What am I hoping to accomplish here? Are there certain lines that I'm not allowed to cross: whether personal or genre oriented?

I guess what I'm saying is that I feel like I sometimes put specific limitations on myself for what I can post on this blog. And in some ways, maybe that's a good thing but in other ways, maybe I'm missing out on something that could have been great. I've gotten closer to those lines already, with my Throwback Thursday meme where I pair a great memory with one of my favorite books from the past. But should I allow myself to post about other things that interest me that don't necessarily have to deal with books? At the end of the day, this is a really personal decision, and one that I have to think long and hard about.

In related news, I've been brainstorming about some ideas for some features that combine books and other fun things about my life. I don't want to spoil the surprise yet, but look forward to some great things in the future! Some things that might be a little quirky (in line with this theme of getting personal and crossing some genres), some things that might work, others that might not. Regardless, this is a process of slow growth and one that I'm excited to share with my readers.

So, overall, expect some changes and some experimentation here. I hope to see The Book Analyst grow and thrive in the future!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Summary

What I Did

  • I started my job at the local community college on Monday! It's been a super exciting transition and I'm thrilled to have a job in an industry that I want to work in. 
  • I went for my first run in forever on Thursday. It was quite honestly embarrassing how little I could run, but I'm just excited to get started again. Wilson came with me and he was struggling more than I was, so I felt a little better. Of course, he's working on 10 years old, so....
  •  This week was pretty mentally draining, just because I am learning the new job that has so many things to learn! And the work week isn't over just because it's the weekend! I am working at Nordstrom Saturday and Sunday

What I Read


What I Watched

  • Dad and I watched School of Rock on Saturday. If you say that isn't one of those classics that you laugh at every single time, then you're lying to yourself. I'm not a huge Jack Black fan, but GOD that movie is so funny
  • A bunch of Four Weddings just to have something in the background while I work on blogging or studying the course catalog for my new job
  • I started watching Game of Thrones again, because re-watching a show that I've already seen before is definitely the best use of my time... Still, I can't resist!

What I Listened to 

  • I actually downloaded an audiobook for the first time in forever! I have a pretty long commute now so I thought I would put it to use and get in some more reading!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Maddy's Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: YA Suspense
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: 240 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 1st, 2014
Series: Standalone 
Where I got it: E-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

You know that feeling of when a song gets stuck in your head and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get it out of your head? For me that usually only happens with songs that I can’t stand, but once in a while, it happens with a great song, and then I never want to get it out of my head. Pretty much that exact thing happened after I read E. Lockart’s We Were Liars. 

I read We Were Liars basically in one sitting, and then it was all I could think about for the next 24 hours. This intelligently crafted story is about a girl returning to her family’s island two years after she suffered an accident that caused her to lose some of her memory. But it’s about so much more than that. All is revealed throughout the book, and I don’t want to spoil it for any of you because you have to read this amazing book. 

One criticism that you hear a lot from casual YA readers is that YA isn’t “literary enough” (which is ridiculous), but there is no way anyone can criticize We Were Liars for not being literary. It definitely reminded me of novels that I’ve read in my college-level English courses, but it was entirely approachable and fascinating. I could not stop thinking about this novel, its characters, and how it ended. I questioned everything I had thought about the book up until the reveal, and I wanted to talk to everyone about it. 

We Were Liars is an intricate suspense novel, thriller, and slice-of-life drama all packed into a wonderfully readable YA novel. Lockhart captures the essence of being a teenager so perfectly: everything is dramatic and life-threatening to a teenager until it really does become dramatic and life-threatening. I could keep going on and on about how amazing this book is, but you should just really do yourselves the favor and read it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

#tbt



Where the Red Fern Grows




Hey, so remember this book? If you're like me, you read this book probably a thousand times when you were a kid and sobbed at the end of it every time. I think I remembered this book because my own pup Wilson, who you've probably seen in posts before if you frequent the blog, is always right next to me when I'm reading and reviewing, and he's getting up there in age.

Awwww... he's so cute. Note Mama Lucy in the back (that's not just an extra growth)
So, for an extra throwback Thursday, I'm throwing it back to Wilson's puppyhood 14 years ago. Our dog, Lucy, had puppies (9!) and we got to witness Wilson's birth and early months. He went to live with my aunt in New York for a year and came back to us. We've had him every since! Lucy passed away last September, but I'm sure we'll do a separate post all about her later.

Without further ado... PUPPIES!

Look at that face!


Someone got a little sleepy...

The fat one on the left is Wilson!
I hope you enjoyed this puppy-love post! Did you ever read Where the Red Fern Grows as a child?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Title: Love and Other Perishable Items
Author: Laura Buzo

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Length: 283 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 1, 2010
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: E-library

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

A wonderful, coming-of-age love story from a fresh new voice in YA fiction.

'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien, but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

 
Main characters: 4/5

Oh boy. Amelia was something else. She was really easy to relate to but viewing her crush on Chris from the outside, it sometimes seemed ridiculous. I guess it was the 15-year-old in her coming out. She was mature for her age, and yet very much a high-schooler. Chris was a likeable character in that he had this magnetic draw that I could feel through the very writing, but he also had major flaws and misconceptions about life as well. I liked both of the main characters in that they were realistic, easy to relate to and fully complete, but I still wanted something more from them. Maybe more interactions together, maybe more emotion, but something was a little lacking for me and I can't put my finger on it.

Secondary characters: 3/5

The interactions with Amelia and her family were some of the most telling and character-building. I feel like these characters taught me more about Amelia and complicated her and that's what I want in secondary characters. Some of the other grocery store employees didn't do that same, and I had trouble connecting with Chris' friends.

Writing style: 3/5

Chris' point of view was written very stream of consciousness, almost like my own journal. While it could sometimes be disconcerting to jolt around with his thoughts, it characterized him very well and allowed me to get in his head. I tended to lose attention more in Chris' notebook sections and I felt less connected to the story and the characters. I would also begin to skim and have to catch myself. For some reason, these sections just weren't as interesting. On the other hand, I loved reading Amelia's sections. You could still hear her voice coming through but it moved along quicker for me and was more organized.

Plot: 2.5/5 
There wasn't a lot of plot. We mostly followed Chris and Amelia along their friendship and potential love story. I liked that it was realistic and that it wasn't instalove. I also appreciated that both Chris and Amelia hooked up with other people while being friends because I feel like it was something that could actually happen. However, because there wasn't a lot happening plot-wise, the story could tend to move slowly and I would have preferred a bit more conflict.

Ending: 2/5

I felt a little jipped, like I was left hanging. And I say this while realizing that it was meant to be an ambiguous ending. But there's a difference between ambiguous with some sort of closure, and ambiguous where you have no idea what anything was supposed to mean or what's going to happen or even how the characters changed. Maybe that's what it's supposed to be but I wish there was a little bit more of a conclusion.

Best scene: The scenes where Chris teases Amelia about polishing wood


Positives: Well-characterized main characters, Amelia's family conflict, intriguing writing style

Negatives: Chris' section, lack of plot conflict, the ending


Cover: The cover is so simple and cute! I especially love the font.


Verdict: Some unique aspects but overall a very average crush/love story


Rating:  5.8 / 10 (3 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme is Top Ten Characters I'd Want With Me On a Deserted Island.

Audrey's Choices

  1. George from My Life Next Door
  2. Daine from The Immortals series
  3. Ezra from The Beginning of Everything
  4. Turtle from The Westing Game
  5. Maddy and I both agree on Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss

Maddy's Choices

  1. Anne from Anne of Green Gables (the island needs another ginger)
  2. Lizzie Bennett from Pride and Prejudice
  3. Sabriel from the Abhorsen Trilogy
  4. Mrs. Marple from the Agatha Christie novels
  5. Aslan from Narnia

Analyze This: Time Management

Let's talk about time...



I've thought about my time management skills a lot since I've been on the job hunt. What does it mean to have good time management skills? How does that translate into blogging? Why do people work differently and have different ways of organizing their brains and their lives?

I have a very different schedule now than I did at school, but also a lot more time (yay graduation)! Instead of staying out until 2am and waking up at 10am, I now go to bed at 9pm and wake up at 4am. Yeah, crazy.

This is what my schedule used to look like:
I was crazy
Not so much anymore! Graduation and a job that finishes by 2pm means I have my entire afternoon free and not much to do besides apply for jobs and study for the GRE. Luckily, I can work on my blog. Unluckily, I've learned that I don't work well when I'm not under pressure. Those times when my schedule was so crazy that I scheduled for lunch? That was when I was at my most efficient. I knew when stuff had to get done and I knew that I had to do it efficiently and effectively or else I wouldn't have enough time.

That's what I'm lacking these days. I have so much free time that I don't do anything efficiently and instead I waste time by goofing around and browsing the internet.


So what am I gonna do about it?


  • I'm gonna start using my Google Calendar again. It may not look like it used to, but I'm going to start scheduling stuff out again that I need to do and using my task list to take care of it all
  • I'm going to brainstorm blog ideas when I'm inspired and stop when I'm not
  • I will find some other things to work on when I'm stuck on the blog
  • Run when I'm bored!

Wish me luck on my goals!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trend Analysis: Medieval

Maddy and I have been chatting...
*cue our friends and family running for the hills because our conversations are all-out crazy*
No, but seriously.
Maddy suggested that we start a feature where we analyze what trends we'd like to see in YA in the upcoming years... what trends deserve to start or return.
Obviously I loved it.
So, without further ado, we present...

Trend Analysis


The first trend that Maddy brought up was Medieval Settings. (Please note: these conversations take place via FB chat very late at night, but I thought you all would appreciate the direct transposition).

Maddy: I really wish there were more Renaissance-faire type of medieval YA novels like Tamora Pierce's Alanna series or The Last Unicorn or stuff like that King Arthur ish

Audrey: You're right, there definitely aren't that many medieval YA novels anymore, except for the ones including time travel. (PS to all the blog readers out there: I definitely introduced Maddy to Tamora Pierce, my absolutely favorite YA author ever)

Maddy: Yeah there aren't a lot of them! Did you hear that MTV is making a TV show of this "Shannara" book series? I've never heard of it but it apparently is the biggest fantasy series that hasn't yet been adapted to TV or movies.

Audrey: I've heard of that series before, it's by Terry Brooks!

Maddy: Also, Game of Thrones is medieval-ish but where's the colorful medieval series with court jesters??? I want that in my life haha
 

Audrey: Tell me more about what you want to see in this trend and why?

Maddy: Clariel by Garth Nix is coming out in October and with that came a re-issuing (with new covers) for his Abhorsen trilogy, so that's why the trend has been on my mind recently. Also the Kronos series by Marie Rutkoski definitely had that magical medieval feel going on. I mean, I certainly WANT it to become a trend again- I love books like that, with King Arthur and court jesters and knights. I really like Avalon High by Meg Cabot which isn't set in medieval times but draws on Arthurian legend. I feel like recently we've seen the scale tip to really dark when you deal with the medieval-ish world, like Game of Thrones or Snow White and the Huntsman. It would be interesting to see more of the light, Ren-faire side (even though the medieval world was full of suffering and the plague and obviously didn't have magic)

Audrey: I'd definitely say that the dark and almost more realistic side of Medieval has been the trend. It seems like Medieval was more trendy in the past though, and seemed to drift away in the past decade or so. For instance, my favorite Medieval-era books included Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (1997), ANYTHING by Tamora Pierce (1983-present), and hey... remember Jane Yolen?

Maddy: I think so too. But then after that, books with medieval elements but modern times are popping up, albeit sporadically. I really like books that have magic in them, and it's certainly easier to imagine magic in medieval times- with all of the dragon-slaying and Merlin and so on. Magic and fantasy are huge parts of YA novels, so I feel like it should make a comeback soon

Audrey: So I feel like you're actually advocating for the historical fantasy, as opposed to the modern paranormal that currently dominates the YA world. We get a lot of mystical creatures or powers that take place in today's world, but maybe not as many brand new worlds or magical worlds based on Medieval times. 

Maddy: Yeah, maybe it's time for a renaissance, if you know what I mean?

So... what do you guys think? Are we crazy about own craving for some more Medieval-type settings? Do you think there's any chance of a trend revival? Tell us your ideas!


Blogger's note: I read this post to my dad and he responded that I have just crossed the line into geekdom. His direct quote was "You have fallen and need a dragon to help you up". Oh dear....

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Summary

What I've Been Up To

  • I woke up Monday morning and headed to work, only to find out that my schedule had been switched and it was my day off! A little frustrating that I woke up at 4am and headed into work, but when I found out and came back home, I slept for another 5 hours, so it ended up being a great day to catch up on some guilty pleasure TV shows and take care of some business. 
  • I've officially accepted my first real job! I'll be working at a local community college in their Orientation Center! It's only part time, but I think that's exactly what I need right now. I'm going to balance Nordstrom and my new job until the end of Anniversary Sale. It's all very exciting and I'm ecstatic to move forward gaining experience in one of my dream industries.  
  • I shopped the Anniversary sale on Friday and spent a lot of money (all my paycheck?)... Not really but I'm pretty stingy with my money so it always feels like a lot. Most of the items I ordered so they should be showing up within the next few days! Yay new clothes!
  • Other than that, it's been a very slow week for me. Maybe the calm before the storm?

What I Read


 

What I Watched

  • Caught up on my guilty pleasure, The Bachelorette! I'm a little behind, so don't spoil it for me if you're caught up!!
  • The usual... Jeopardy

What I Listened To

  • I actually didn't listen to much new music this week, which is kind of unusual. During the early mornings at work though, I always listen to my favorite classic rock 8tracks station, so I thought I'd share that with you here!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

#tbt

This Throwback Thursday is inspired by a recent trip to Bend, Oregon. Bend is one of the prettiest places you can imagine.















I had an amazing time camping and hanging out with my fantastic friends. We hung out on the water, I got even more burnt that I had been a few weeks earlier from Shasta, and even witnessed a Brewski event on Mt. Bachelor.

One of my favorite parts was the second night when we all sat around the campfire and played Mafia. I hope you don't mind my bragging, but I won two of the four games. For some reason, this mysterious game of Mafia reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Westing Game




















I would quite literally read The Westing Game multiple times per week as a child. I loved the mystery and the tiny little webs that Ellen Raskin weaves together. The hints and clues and red herrings are so fascinating and intriguing and I absolutely LOVE the way that Raskin constructs her plot. Wow. It is a masterpiece. So if you haven't read The Westing Game before, you should get your hands on it ASAP!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: All I Need by Susane Colasanti

Title: All I Need
Author: Susane Colasanti

Genre: YA Romance
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Length: 240 pages
Original Publishing Date: May 21st, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: E-library

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

The last night of summer is only the beginning.

Skye wants to meet the boy who will change her life forever. Seth feels their instant connection the second he sees her. When Seth starts talking to Skye at the last beach party of the summer, it’s obvious to both of them that this is something real. But when Seth leaves for college before they exchange contact info, Skye wonders if he felt the same way she did—and if she will ever see him again. Even if they find their way back to each other, can they make a long-distance relationship work despite trust issues, ex drama, and some serious background differences?

Teen favorite Susane Colasanti returns to the alternating-voice style of her beloved debut When It Happens in this Serendipity-inspired story about summer, soul mates, and the moments that change our lives forever.

 
Main characters: 2.5/5

Who were they again? I had a really hard time getting to know either of the main characters very in depth. I knew that Seth was an artist and liked the Police but what else did I really find out? The characters were very stagnant throughout and sort of like cardboard cut-outs of real people- with no real personality or true emotions. However, the last third of the novel turned on the conflict and this brought out changes in both Seth and Skye. I loved seeing Skye's personal struggles and debates with herself over Seth and the rest of her life. But it made me wonder why Seth had all the baggage and not Skye.

Secondary characters: 2/5

There was a limited cast of secondary characters as most of the attention was focused on Seth and Skye. However, Skye's friends and Seth's roommates made some appearances. I didn't particularly care for either of Skye's friends because they came across pretty negative in the novel. I was also disappointed that I didn't get to see any of Seth's friends. He ragged on his roommates a lot but never mentioned any other actual friends. Seems a little unrealistic and pretty lonely to me.

Writing style: 2.5/5

Colasanti's writing style is easy to read and accessible. The dialogue is believable, for the most part. The pacing moves along well. However, Colasanti uses her writing style to try and make the plot into something bigger than it is. Or, rather, she tries to force the plot to have meaning through the writing. Let me explain it like this: everything is described in a very melodramatic fashion. Skye begins her opening chapter by hoping for a boy "who will connect with me like no one else ever has. The boy who will change my life forever". Wow. That's a lot of foreshadowing and a lot of dramatic pressure to put on a simple love story. But this isn't the only example. They happen on every page, from "I have to touch him or I'll die" to "We're transcending all of the everyday noise". I wish Colasanti had let the dialogue and the story speak more for themselves.

Plot: 2.5/5 
My first thought? Wow, that was quick. One minute they met and the next they are in love. Literally. I had no idea who the characters were and suddenly they were in love and I felt very alienated. It didn't help that the chapters often skipped large chunks of time so I couldn't see them falling in love, I was just told. I liked the general premise of the story (although it was certainly nothing new). The details of Skye's life back in high school were very real and the friend drama added an extra element that I could totally relate to. My only other negative was that there was a lack of real plot or conflict in the story. And, just to nitpick a personal distaste, I didn't like how Colasanti fell into the stereotype of portraying fraternity men and anyone who drinks or parties as assholes.

Ending: 3/5

The conflict was very realistic and easy to relate to. The ending itself was adorable and I was very happy with how it tied up almost all of the loose ends. Except, I didn't feel that the core conflict had really been resolved in any key way. Seth and Skye definitely had some problems that needed to be ironed out and I'm not sure how that worked out.

Best scene: The hotel scene- so cute!


Reminded Me Of: Those Robin Jones Gunn books that I used to read in high school

Positives: Cute ending, readable writing style, some interesting growth and independence from Skye

Negatives: Being "told" rather than being "shown", the lack of conflict and resolution, the melodramatic descriptions of, well, everything, the lack of characterization, the instalove


Cover: Awww.. It's simple, sweet and realistic. It goes with the story well. Props on the cover.


Verdict: Fell short in so many ways


Rating:  5.0 / 10 (3 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite TV Shows

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme is Top Ten Favorite TV shows (in no particular order mind you, because that would take a lot more thought)!

  • How I Met Your Mother
    Come on, it's so good! I absolutely love HIMYM and I've seen all eight seasons. Don't ask me about the series finale though...
      
    One of my favorite shows. I loved all of the literature, history and pop culture references and how it twisted my brain, making me both confused and intrigued at the same time.
  • Psych
    I absolutely love Shawn and Gus. They are hilarious together and I love that they are friends in real life.
  • Game of Thrones
     
    Ughhh there's really nothing I can say to explain how good this is. If you haven't watched it yet, get in on it. And if you have watched it, check out this cool brand of wine based on the series that I mentioned on Sunday!
  • Weeds
     
    Weeds has that quirky, fun flavor that I look for in a show. Even though it got a ridiculous at the end, I loved following Nancy Botwin through her adventures. 
  • Dexter
Yeah, I enjoyed watching the creepy Dexter and his weird moral code. It was entertaining, if a little gross sometimes.
  • Entourage
God, Entourage was perfect. I just finished watching it a couple weeks ago and I love each and every one of those messed up characters. Just yes.
  • Greek
My guilty pleasure. Absolutely nothing like real Greek life and yet sometimes it just gets "it". Hilarious.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I might be a little obsessed with Buffy. It just picks me up from a bad day, you know? Thanks Netflix, for making this my entire junior year of college.
  • Jeopardy
    What can I say? I'm a trivia nerd ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's Time for Bloggiesta!

Summer Bloggiesta

I'm excited to participate in Bloggiesta this upcoming weekend, July 19-21!

This will be my first time participating in Bloggiesta and I am so excited to get some work done! I am nervous because I will be working the entire weekend, but I'm sure I'll still have some time for some blog work as well.

Without further ado, here is my to-do list!
  • Update Goodreads & Amazon reviews
  • Do at least one mini-challenge
  • Update review policy
  • Add a contact me page?
  • Participate in the Twitter chat

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Analytical Finds: Wines of Westeros

You'll never believe what I found. This website showcases a brand new line of Australian wine that are named for the feuding clans from Game of Thrones. There are red and white wines including Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignons and Shiraz.

The bottles are $19 USD preorder and they ship internationally. They will launch in time for the new season next year. 

I don't know about you, but I think I definitely need to get my hands on some of these!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Summary

The Weekly Update:  

What I Did:
  • Some updates on learning HTML/CSS: it kinda sucks. I completed the Code Academy tutorial and while I learned a lot, I don't think I can put all the elements I learned together, let alone make a cohesive layout or design.
  • I had two interviews this week! I'm so thankful to have some feedback from employers to keep my hopes up!
  • Anniversary Sale at Nordstrom started Thursday! It's the busiest time of the year and I love it. Needless to say though, my feet hurt a little LOT and I'm pretty exhausted.
What I Bought:
  • I got in my box from Barnes and Noble with the four books I ordered! My cousin Andrea gave me a giftcard and I obviously used it right away.
What I Watched:
  • Scandal (I'm already on Season 2... It's addicting!)  
  •  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Maddy's Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: YA
Publisher: Harper Collins
Length: 491 pages
Original Publishing Date: September 30th, 1996
Series: Abhorsen #1
Where I got it: 3-M Online Library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:  
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether


With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

I had seen Sabriel over the years; one of my friends back in middle school had raved about how good it was, but this summer was the first chance that I had to actually read it, and I have to say that I absolutely loved it.

Garth Nix has created a fascinatingly complex world in this novel. Sabriel grows up in Ancelstierre, which reminded me of characterizations of WW2-era England. However, just across The Wall is the Old Kingdom, which is a fantasy realm populated by magic and creatures of Death. Sabriel’s journey takes her into both locations, and Nix’s balance of the two worlds was a little jarring at first, but once I got used to this idea of these two very different worlds co-existing, it became unlike any other YA fantasy book that I’ve read before.

The character of Sabriel is both the kind of character I wish was in more YA novels and also someone who I wish was real so that we could be friends. She’s incredibly smart and determined, and I was cheering for her during every step of her journey. Her transformation from schoolgirl to heroine is completely believable, and I found myself wishing that the book was longer just so that I could keep reading about her.

The supporting characters, like Mogget the cat, and Touchstone the Charter Mage, are equally well-developed, and they come across as a true team rather than a hastily assembled group of misfits that sometimes happens in other fantasy novels.

Nix has a very clever way of making it so that there isn’t a ton of awkward exposition at the beginning in order to acclimate the readers to this fantasy world. Sometimes the worst thing that happens at the beginning of fantasy novels is a whole lot of exposition to the rules of the world, but Nix avoids that by letting the reader discover the Old Kingdom as Sabriel does. This makes the novel move at a very fast pace while also making it easier to understand this complicated world.

One thing I also appreciated about this book was its honesty about sexuality. It definitely wasn’t a big part of the novel at all, but it was there, which felt very real for having an 18-year-old narrator. It reminded me a bit of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness novels in the way that sexuality was present but it didn’t dominate the novel (and there certainly weren’t any sex scenes in the book).

Overall, I thought the novel was smart and refreshing. Just because it wasn’t published in this decade doesn’t mean that it should be forgotten. It has definitely stood the test of time, and I will definitely be recommending this book to all fans of YA novels. I’m glad that I got the chance to rediscover this gem, and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, Lirael.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Welcome back to another Throwback Thursday!


I'm experimenting with some of the HTML I've been learning at Code Academy to write this post and I'm super excited!
For this #tbt, I'm throwing it back to this past January, when the charity organization I've been working with for the past four years, Dance Marathon, raised $33,000+ for Children's Miracle Network.
I served as the Campus Representative for this amazing organization on University of Oregon's campus. I was so proud to have helped raise this much money by throwing a 12-hour dance party where we stand in solidarity with all the parents of sick children who stand by their kid's hospital beds.


This organization and event reminds me of a book....

Material World by Peter Menzel 

While I love helping out sick children here in the United States, it often reminds me of the income and wealth disparity across the globe. Material World was the first book that introduced me to the concept. I first came across it when I was in fourth grade, in Ms. Barber's class. I was transfixed by the photos and the way that other people around the world lived. I highly recommend it, even if it is twenty years old now (can we do a remake?).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Old Magic by Marianne Curley

Title: Old Magic
Author: Marianne Curley

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Length: 317 pages
Original Publishing Date: February 26th, 2002
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: E-library

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

Jarrod Thornton is mesmerizing, but Kate Warren doesn't know why.

The moment the new guy walks into the room, Kate senses something strange and intense about him. Something supernatural. Her instincts are proven correct a few minutes later when, bullied by his classmates, Jarrod unknowingly conjures up a freak thunderstorm "inside" their classroom.

Jarrod doesn't believe in the paranormal. When Kate tries to convince him that he has extraordinary powers that need to be harnessed, he only puts up with her "hocus pocus" notions because he finds her captivating. However, the dangerous, uncontrolled strengthening of his gift finally convinces Jarrod that he must take Kate's theories seriously. Together, they embark on a remarkable journey -- one which will unravel the mystery that has haunted Jarrod's family for generations and pit the teens against immense forces in a battle to undo the past and reshape the future.

 
Main characters: 4/5

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I disliked Jarrod. Don't get me wrong, I ended up liking him in the end. But it was refreshing to hate the male main character based on his "cowardice" as opposed to loving him or disliking him because he's mysterious and a dick to the female main character. Jarrod grew a ton as a character and I loved seeing his realistic change over the course of the novel. Although I loved Kate's confidence, I sometimes wished that she had similar change, as she seemed a little static through the novel.

Secondary characters: 2/5

Jillian was wise and motherly; she was an excellent character to offset Kate and Jarrod's insecurities and doubts about their magic. Overall though, I was disappointed in the characterization of the cast of secondary characters. I felt that they were all a little flat and none of them intrigued me or made me want to learn more about them.

Writing style: 3.5/5

The opening of Old Magic drew me in right away: it gave me a detailed and perfect description of both Jarrod and Kate, gave me the introduction to the magical aspect, and left me intrigued. The first half however, dragged on. I was tempted to stop reading multiple times but I'm glad that I pressed on because the second half picked up the pace and had me reading straight through.

Plot: 3/5 
I wasn't particularly enamored with the plot. I was explaining it to a friend the other day and realized that it sounded slightly inane and silly. While I was reading it, the story didn't necessarily seem this way, however there was nothing exceptionally new or exciting about it.

Ending: 2/5

It made a couple interesting stutter steps: where I thought the story had ended and then there were a couple twists and turns thrown in that were quickly repaired. I wish that the story had wrapped itself up more nicely, and that the ending was more satisfying.

Best scene: The scene where Kate is stolen


Reminded Me Of: Tough to find a good comparison, but very similar to a lot of other books I've read

Positives: The unique male main character, the writing style and plot of the second half

Negatives: The ending fell flat, the secondary characters, the unoriginal plot elements


Cover: I really like the cover- it's simple but elegant. However, I didn't necessarily understand the connection to the story. 


Verdict: Some weak elements, but an entertaining read


Rating: 5.8 / 10 (3 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Blogging Confessions

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Today's Top Ten Tuesday theme is Blogging Confessions.

  1. Sometimes I watch TV while I blog. That sounds bad but I'm actually a pretty good multitasker so I'm pretty efficient at getting a lot done. I work better when my document is open and I have time to process what I want to write as I'm working on something else. 
  2. Conversely, I find it hard to stay focused sometimes so it takes me a long time to finish anything. I'll have multiple windows open and I bounce around a lot.
  3. I have made some pretty bad spelling/grammar errors in my blog posts (and in life). Funny story: I was once taking a grammar class where we had to identify parts of speech in our own writing and I discovered that I had written a sentence without a verb. Oops.)
  4. I am completely inept at design or style elements. Even if I'm just formatting normal stuff, I end up screwing up my posts. It's rough.
  5. I need to have my review document open when I read the book. I need to constantly be writing notes because I have a very poor memory for details and I need to write down all the character's names and note how I feel about them because my opinions change a lot throughout the book.
  6. I also need to write my review within 24-hours of finishing the book, for very similar reasons as the last. 
  7. Sometimes I just need to talk it out. I work a lot better understanding myself verbally rather than internally or even written.
  8. I worry a lot that I'm not a very good writer! (But who doesn't every once in a while, right?)
  9. I used to just follow a lot of blogs for their giveaways (But I promise I'm better about reading now!)
  10. I don't know if this is a confession or not, but I really struggled with blogging during school and I would write almost all of my reviews during the summers when I was working. Now that I'm graduated, I have a lot of high hopes and expectations for this blog, so hopefully I can follow through!

An Exciting Announcement!

I have an extremely exciting announcement! 

I am adding a new blog contributor, Maddy! Maddy will be adding reviews and discussion posts and I am extremely excited to see what she brings to The Book Analyst.

Did you know? Maddy and I actually know each other in real life. We met through our sorority, and Maddy is my little! We bonded a lot initially over our love of books so it only makes sense that she join in on the blog!

We are incredibly disfunctional
I can't wait to have Maddy helping me out around here! I'll be doing her posts for her, so you'll be able to tell that the review is hers because I'll note "Maddy's Review" in the title.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Summary

What a week! My parents were out of town so it was just me and this cutie together for the whole week:
Behold, Wilson at his finest: eating peanut butter
5am shifts at work continued and it was hard to stay motivated knowing that I had the Fourth of July off. I finished Entourage, which I binge-watched on HBO-Go like a champ.

I finished four books this week which was an acceptable amount given that I watched SO MUCH TV on Sunday and Monday. I'm really embarrassed to even admit how much, you guys.

I always forget how much I miss my parents when they're gone. We are very close, but like any kid, my parents get on my nerves. Still, I'm an only child and I realize how lonely it can be without my parents at home. Makes me nervous for moving out. :)

Today, I worked at installing a new design for my blog, which I nabbed for free from Lovebird Creative Studio. I am obviously not a design genius, so I always appreciate pretty, free designs I can use. Because I was curious though, I visited Code Academy and am now busying myself with learning HTML and CSS. Things that I recognized but had no idea what they did are finally beginning to make sense, although I have a long way to go. If anyone has suggestions or tips, let me know!

Anyway, hope everyone else's week was wonderful!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I thought I'd participate in the internet-wide Throwback Thursday on this blog by pairing a fun memory from the past with a favorite old book.

This week, I'm highlighting an amazing weekend at Shasta Lake this past May.
Can you believe how burnt we are?

In sort of a barely-related book version, I would like to bring our attention back to Dr. Franklin's Island by Ann Halam, a book that I read constantly in middle school.
Hey, it has a beach and water like Shasta, right?
The book, published in 2003, is about three young children on their way to Ecuador as part of the British Young Conservationists. When their plane crashes, they end up stranded on a tropical island where they find the mysterious Dr. Franklin, who is eager to use them as experiments for his genetic engineering projects.

I absolutely loved this book when I was a child, and although I haven't read it in years, I always remember it fondly. Have any of my readers ever read this one?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Title: Obsidian
Author: Jennifer Armentrout

Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Length: 335 pages
Original Publishing Date: November 23rd, 2011
Series: Lux #1
Where I got it: E-library

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something... unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don't kill him first, that is.

 
Main characters: 1.5/5

Katy was a little lackluster. One thing I noticed was that Armentrout doesn't give a lot of physical descriptions of her characters, so I have no idea what they look like. Pair that with Katy seeming to lack a personality, and she was too bland for my taste. Her hobbies were unique- gardening and book blogging (woo!)- but besides her interactions with her mom, I had no idea who Katy was, how she interacted with others, and what motivated her. Daemon was similar. It was hard to get a read on his actual personality other than mysterious and brooding.

Secondary characters: 1/5

What secondary characters? There was a very small cast of secondary characters and they were very poorly characterized. I really couldn't tell you much about the secondary cast. The only one that seemed like she had any sort of a personality was Dee. I liked Dee because she was sassy and empathetic, and I had a good idea of who her character was.

Writing style: 2.5/5

Armentrout's writing style was nothing special, but it kept the story moving forward. The dialogue was realistic, and there was a good mix of description and action. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of other positives on the writing style because it seemed very standard: something that anyone could have written with nothing especially noteworthy.

Plot: 2/5 
The Katy/Daemon plot reminded me of Twilight. You know: the mysterious siblings who are social outcasts, the new girl in town who is befriended by the sister, the asshole brother who is brooding and seems to hate the new girl until they actually end up falling in love? It was actually pretty creepy how similar the plotline was. The one thing that I appreciated is that there wasn't instant love. It actually took a really long time to develop, even though the insta-attraction was definitely there.

Ending: 3/5

I liked that the ending was focused on Katy and Daemon's relationship. Katy actually grows a backbone for once and it sets the scene for more chemistry and conflict between the two. It wasn't a huge cliffhanger, but unfortunately it also didn't leave me needing to read the next sequel.

Best scene: The first kiss scene


Reminded Me Of: Twilight plus The Host

Positives: The lack of instalove, Katy's unique hobbies, the writing style that pushed the plot forward

Negatives: Completely flat and undeveloped characters, unoriginal plot, 


Cover: I'm not a fan. I don't like the font and the fact that Katy's face wasn't showing- only Daemon's. The book is about Katy and Daemon, not just Daemon.


Verdict: Obsidian just didn't do it for me. The characterization was seriously lacking and the plot was wholly unoriginal. I probably won't be reading the sequel.


Rating: 4.0 / 10 (2 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!