Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Audio Book Hell

I've been hitting up the library lately and recently discovered their new audio book section with the PlayAway books. If you haven't seen these before they are basically a mini-audio book, complete with batteries and a neck string. You simply plug in your ear buds and go. I'd never bothered with audio books before since it always seemed like such a pain to actually find a lengthy period of time to listen to the entire thing in only a few settings. These though are perfect for the gym.

I tried out Life of Pi first. Not really my typical choice, but I actually found the narrator's gentle voice, with it's Indian accent very interesting. To bad for me the player malfunctioned and I only made it halfway through. But it gave me hope in the format. So this past weekend I picked up Pittacus Lore's I Am Number Four. I enjoyed the movie and had higher hopes for the book. Today when I went to the gym, I took along the PlayAway.

This may be the last one I ever pick up.

First off, the narrator sounded like he was in his mid thirties, no where near the voice of a sixteen year old boy. And not only did he spoil that narration, but for some reason this guy was doing ALL of the character voices in character. There's no way this guy would ever be mistaken for a woman. I might have been able to stand the voices, if he had made the actual dialogue flow naturally. I'm not sure if the dialogue issue was a writing issue or a reading issue, but the artificial voices, some so similar to cartoon characters, didn't do it any help.

So as it stands I'm about 8 chapters in (Yes, I stuck it out the 2 hours I worked out), and I'm not sure if it's even worth trying to finish. I may simply borrow the book.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This was one of those series where I resisted reading simply because of all the hype. I hate hype.then I read it. I can't say it is my favorite or even one of my favorites, but I am excited about the movies, and after watching the teaser trailer for the movie I decided to post my review.

Of the three books Catching Fire was my favorite of the three. I think it's because I love a good romance that can make me cry. In Hunger Games I didn't completely connect to Katniss or Peeta, although I liked both of them. After reading Catching Fire, it really feels like Hunger Games was just setting the stage.

Katniss definitely comes across as a stronger character in Catching Fire and for me this is where she shines. It's like she had to go through the games to find the strength to face the Quell and be that female protagonist that people have been raving about. Mockingjay continues some of that strength, but I see her as much more flawed by that point. She's slowly falling to pieces and I felt that she lost her connection with both Peeta and Gale because of fear and that she was afraid to put forth anything she new would just end in death.

I hear so much about Team Peeta and Team Gale, but for me it was easy to go to Team Peeta. Gale wasn't even a main character in the first book, so little in fact that I didn't even see how he was a love interest. Collins has given him more face time in the second and third books, and while I like his character, he's just not as well developed as Peeta. There were points through out the entire series that I felt Katniss's interest in Gale seemed forced, like she was settling for the best friend who knows her so well. Or perhaps this was just Collins feeding into the love triangle craze that is sweeping YA.

The ending of the series is one of those love it or hate it endings. I personally loved it. I felt that, despite my frustration with Katniss's emotional distance with both Gale and Peeta, stays true to her character, especially considering everything she has been through.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Published: November 2007

ISBN:  9781416912040
Available: Amazon 

**This review may contain minor spoilers.

I wasn't too sure about this book when I started. I'm not normally a fan of constant view point switching, especially when two main view points are teenage boys. But in Unwind it really worked.

Unwind is a true dystopian novel. A near perfect future, where everyone accepts that unwinding your unruly teen is a good idea, and being a sacrificial unwound is an honor. Having each part of a body recycled in order to provide a better life to someone unfortunate is touted as normal. But where does life end? What defines a person? And what if your parents changed their minds?

This was an awesome book. I loved the struggle these kids faced in figuring out what value they had. Connor is ordered unwound by his parents, deemed to difficult. His story had me crying immediately. That he knew what his parents were planning, was simply too heartbreaking.

Lev's story line was equally as sad. He was born and bred to be a tithe, his parents tenth child conceived to be unwound, and had accepted that it was his honor to be unwound. I loved that his story was not clear cut. When he's taken hostage by Connor and eventually finds himself on his own, Lev struggles to hold onto his beliefs and comes face to face with the question of what happens to a person's soul when every piece of their body is ripped apart and kept living.  

The one area I found lacking was in Risa's story. I didn't connect with her and frankly found her a bit blah. I suppose the fact that she had been a ward of the state and was being unwound, simply because it was too expensive to keep her alive, should have garnered sympathy, but I just didn't feel it. Her story was sad, but she just seemed so boring, like she'd been added in for as a love interest to attract female readers.

This is definitely on my recommend list. Just be forewarned that it is a total tearjerker! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Comparable Cover

I've been spending a lot of time lately in the YA section of the library, as well as searching for books to read on GoodReads. At first I thought it was just me picking up the same few books, over and over. But I finally realized that it's not me; it's the books. For some reason YA books seem to be centered around the same few designs.

The most common cover I'm seeing is the Twilight rip off. I have to admit that I love the Twilight Saga covers. The red apple, flower, ribbon, and chess board have a simplicity to them and capture the essence of the books. Then I noticed another book sitting near the shelf at Target, Wuthering Heights and right there beside it Pride and Prejudice. Both sporting shiny black covers adorned with a splash of red. For those interested, Romeo and Juliet suffered a similar re-issuing. Sadly, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan has also had this treatment. I loved the previous covers of the book. A girl looking at the camera through the branches of the trees, looking out into the unknown. The new cover just screams, vampire romance, which it definitely is not.

The other cover design, maybe slightly more original is the gray scale distraught/stoic girl or boy. These at least vary in gender and pose, but really they all emit the same vibe; Gothic story. I truly think that this has just become a staple cover design that artists are simply slapping any pretty goth cover. The biggest culprit has to be Fallen series by Lauren Kate. The covers of Fallen and Torment  are beautiful, moody and mysterious (sadly I can't say the same for Passion, the third book in the series. And yes, I realize Fallen has a blue tint to it). So if I think they're so great why say they were just slapped on? Well, as you can see below, the girl is pictured with long, flowing, black hair. In Fallen, Luce has short - very short - hair. Yes, there is a mention of her once having long hair, but for the entire book she has short black hair. I had hopes that the cover would match Luce more in Torment, after all, she had time to grow it out. Sadly, this didn't happen. Instead, Luce bleached her hair blond. Yeah, this is one cover that seems to have had an artist that didn't even glance at a character profile, read the book, or have anyone who had read the cover look at the work before printing. Here's a few covers that fall into the Gray Scale Covers:

I'm not even going to get into the private school gate covers, simply because I tried to read the Vampire Diaries once and didn't make it past the first chapter. All I can do is hope that readers begin to take a more varied approach to the books the buy when judging a book by its cover.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Published: April 2008

Available: Amazon,  B&N

 ** This review does contain some minor spoilers.

I wasn't too sure of this at first as the description of the back of the books seemed very misleading. I'd asked for recommendations for dystopian books, and the blurb on the back made me think I was actually getting a time traveling book.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox was a very interesting read, and Jenna was a very likable character. Her confusion, fear, and frustrations were very natural and made her very believable.

(view spoiler)About halfway through the book, I felt that it was turning into Spielberg's A.I. and was certain she would be some robot. I just felt like it was too similar to the AI movie. It asks the same questions, but has none of the action. What action there was, was minor. The character of Dane never goes anywhere. Just leads to more questions. Even the storyline of Allys never fulfills it's promise. The moment Jenna left Ally's house, I knew Allys parents what they would do. Jenna says Allys wouldn't want it, yet does nothing to stop it and we never see Ally's reaction.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Win an E-Book Copy of Songbird!!

As my blog settles into it's new home at Blogger, I am running a contest to round up followers! Simply join the site as a follower (on the left hand side) and you could win an e-book copy of Songbird!

Contest ends August 15th!!

Gravity by Abigail Boyd

Gravity by Abigail Boyd

Publisher: Abigail Boyd
Published: May 2011

Available: Amazon Kindle

**This review contains minor spoilers, I've tried not to give away too much, but be forewarned!

There were a number of things I liked about this book, and a few things that bothered me. First I think that Ms. Boyd did a great job with the characters. Ariel is not some weakling, waiting to be rescued. She is on a mission to solve a mystery and, although she takes some silly risks, she doesn't wait around for her love interest to save or guide her. Her best friend Theo (who happens to be a girl) is nicely rounded out and seems to have things going on in her life besides Ariel. Henry (the love interest) could have been the cookie cutter mysterious guy, but Ms. Boyd manages to make him friendly, smart, and at times funny, with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Ariel's age (15) was a bit hard for me to relate with. It's a personal preference I have, and even though the blurb (and story) clearly told me she was 15 I didn't really click into it until about half way, then I though "ah, that's why she acts like that". Ariel is 15 and acts it.

The ending (view spoilfelt a bit rushed for me. There was a lot going on and just when I thought we'd get a full on happy ending - it didn't happen. I had no problem with the deaths. That was staying true to the story, and although harsh, it wouldn't have been believable any other way. It was the part with Henry that I love/hate. I loved that it wasn't the typical romance, but I expected more of a romance angle. I'm guessing Ms. Boyd is leaving it open for a sequel and I can't blame her for that.

*I received this book free from the author as part of a contest through LibraryThing

New Blog Spot

Welcome to the new and improved Turning the Pages blog!

After more than two years with Wordpress, I have decided to move my blog over to Blogger. They have more options for formatting and meet my needs a bit better. I love the freedom I have with the layout and how I can add more of the little widgets to share.

I'm hoping to take the blog in a slightly different direction and target more of my readers with topics and reviews that will appeal to young adults. Although, I'll still slip in some posts about my writing and publishing experiences.

Don't forget to follow!