My Giveaway + Announcements

*My first foray into an Author Interview with Andrew Xia Fukuda is up! (Should I do more?)
*My first manga review for Natsume Yuujinchou V.1 - please let me know what you think

Saturday, May 22, 2010

100 Followers Contest for Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy Giveaway! + Your Thoughts on Series/Trilogies/Standalones

I haz 100 followers! Triple digits!! I'm a bit awed and super happy that people out there like this book blog enough to follow it. I was thinking what paperback book I'd be willing to giveaway, and you know, with the talk of Richelle Mead's Spirit Bound floating around everywhere, I was like, hey, I own a used copy of the first book, maybe people would like it??

I think Vampire Academy is a most excellent book. I just read it recently as I heard so much about it and thought I'd dish out a couple dollars for a copy as I found it lying in a used bookstore. I did enjoy it, but I think hearing too much about a book can kind of skew your perception? Because like, I was led on to believe that Dmitri was going to be the hottest thing that came around the block since Casanova, but I was honestly skeeved out by Dmitri/Rose in general. Now, before Team Dmitri goes off and kills me, I'm sure that he has excellent traits! Just that whenever I see these mentor/mentee relationships they kind of make me shrivel up and die inside. It's one of my squicks, and I can't get over this bias of mine. But I think Rose is a cool narrator, and I'm totally in love with the strong friendship between her and Lissa, and I so dig Christian/Lissa like hotcakes. If the spin-off series was from their point of view I'd probably be all over it. Mmmmmm Christian.

But the whole Dmitri thing isn't the reason why I'm willing to let go of my copy of Vampire Academy. As much as I enjoyed the book (no, really, I was dying for a vampire novel with girl BFF stuff and no boyfriend stealing backstabbing crap but a REAL friendship and oh how this novel delivered. ♥), the idea of following a series is making me die a little inside. It's going to be six books! SIX! With a possibility of a spinoff! I'm a fan of standalones, and tolerate trilogies only because of its profusion in the YA market. I almost sighed with relief when I got to the end of the book and found myself satisfied and not in the least bit curious about following the rest of the series. I mean, I do enjoy a select few long series, but as much as I love them, sometimes they leave me feeling so drained. Does anyone else get this feeling? What is your preference/thoughts on series/trilogies/standalones? Feel free to discuss this with me in the comments. Or, you know, talk to me about Christian FOREVAR the Vampire Academy series. Do refrain from spoilers though. While I don't personally mind being spoiled, having no intention of keeping up with the series, I don't want to risk spoiling others who may wander into the comments section here. Or talk to me about your favourite vampire book! (Everyone into YA has a favourite vampire book! Everyone!) Talk to me about anything! I'm all ears. 8D

ANYHOW, to the part people actually care about: Want to win a copy of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy? Please fill out the form:

Yes it's open internationally. Go wild, folks~ *waves* Ends June 22th, 11:59 PM ESt

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 05/17/2010 + Song Quest Signal Boost + Winner of Crossing Giveaway

(meme from Book Journey)

....... I feel like I've done nothing but read Demon's Covenant. Which was a great novel, but basically it ate my brain. I blame it for my unproductiveness. But I think I'll manage to pull myself together this week. Somehow.

Completed Reads:
Half a Yellow Sun
Marcelo in the Real World
Princess Ben
Scarlett Fever
Demon's Covenant
Demon's Lexicon (reread)

Planning on Reading:
Crazy Diamond
Code Talker
Deloume Road


Signal Boost: Becky from The Bookette is hosting a Song Quest Blog Tour in order to get this lovely book back in print. I love this book very much and it was one of my many formative YA fantasy novel reads, and it'd be awesome to see some support! Here's my review promoting the book, and if you're in the UK, Becky is still taking in people who may be interested in being part of the tour, so please consider checking it out or recommending the tour/book to your friends, etc. 8D


The Winner of Crossing is Melissa Pham. I've sent you an email. Please reply within 48 hours or I'll be forced to pick another winner.

Review: The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: The Demon's Covenant
Author(s): Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre: YA Supernatural, Family, Romance
Page Count: 440
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Summary:Mae always thought she was in control, but in the past few weeks control has turned into chaos. She’s learned that her brother Jamie has magical powers and that Gerald, the new leader of the Obsidian Circle, is trying to persuade Jamie to join the magicians. The same magicians who tried to kill Mae and Jamie last month in London. The magicians who get their power by feeding people to demons.

Mae turns to brothers Nick and Alan to help her rescue Jamie, but they are in danger themselves. Every magician in England now knows what Nick really is—and they all want him dead.

Nick’s new power has also caused a rift between the brothers. In the weeks they were gone something terrible happened, something that haunts them both. With Nick as unreadable as ever and Alan making secret bargains with a demon, Mae finds herself attracted to both brothers—though she knows she can’t trust either of them. The magicians are closing in on one side and the dangerous, seductive Goblin Market is tempting her on the other, and Mae has to form her own plan to save them all. She's going to find that the price she must pay is more than she ever imagined.

The covenant is binding. There is no escape.

- From US Hardcover

Note: This is a second book in the trilogy. I've done my best to omit spoilers for both the First and Second book in this review, but there are some hints for one of the big reveals for the first book. If you're a complete spoiler-phobe then please proceed with caution.

The Review: Before I begin, I think I ought to confess how this book utterly ruined my week. People, I had plans. I was going to write up multiple reviews here, do more memes, leave comments on posts, go out into that big blue room with the giant yellow fireball in the ceiling and actually socialize with friends and family, but no, ever since I read The Demon’s Covenant last Tuesday, I could think of nothing else. I cancelled all plans, my to-read posts on google reader is at this atrocious triple digit number, and basically I’ve neglected everything just so I could read this book over a total of four times in six days and a small part of me whispers that if I didn’t have to spend a good chunk of my day going to work, the reread count would have at least been double. I even loved this book so much that I went and dug up a copy of the FIRST book to reread as well. (For the record, I reread it twice in these six days. Apparently my revelation for the week was that a day not reading SRB’s writing was a day wasted.) I harassed my family with constant squeals and sighs as I made a public spectacle of myself going all emotional over the book, roping my siblings into listening to various passages I re-enacted for them, whipped out the book from my purse (yes, I lugged that hardcover book everywhere with me) to wave its gorgeous cover in front of the faces of my friends, and even called a friend long distance the second she told me she finished the novel so that I could TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK with someone. This is the kind of sequel that makes the first book a better rereading experience. In fact, this is probably the most amazing sequel book I’ve ever read, and just a really amazing YA book overall and I love it to bits and it’s going to make it on my top 20 books I read this year, I know it, I can feel it in my bones.

I was actually surprised that I loved this book so much, because I wasn’t wow’ed by the first book. I mean, I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favourite read of the year or anything. The first book had its moments of emotional intensity, and a really fast paced plot, (It reminded me of The Hunger Games’ pace, but with a much more careful eye at her choice of words, and interesting metaphor usage. Yes, I am indeed implying that Sarah Rees Brennan writes better than Suzanne Collins.) but for the most part I was mostly swept by apathy towards all the characters unless their name was Alan or Nick (For the record, I liked Jamie’s lines, but I didn’t get attached to his character like the way I did with Alan or Nick.). In many ways, Nick’s world was very small, with very few people he considered important in his life, and this apathy towards anyone who wasn’t his brother was reflected throughout the writing of the first book and ended up generating a lack of story connectivity for me unless it was an emotional moment between the brothers. I also found the dialogue rather forced, with Nick’s lines trying a little too hard to be sarcastically funny (which looking back, I think was on purpose as it was Nick’s way to try to make Alan happy, but I didn’t see it this way a year ago) and the worldbuilding wasn’t to my taste. (Briefly, I prefer my fantasy based strongly on a body of related folklore/mythology instead of a mishmash of different myths/stories mixed together, and the magic here, while neatly laid out, feels a little flat in its tidiness and simplicity.)

The world building still isn’t to my taste, to be honest, but I don’t care about any of that because, my gawd, the characters just blew me away here. I was doubtful about this character POV change to Mae, whom I had a mostly reserved reaction to in the first book, but this story from Mae’s POV was so good . It gave me all the very human moments that neither Nick nor Gerald (who was also considered as a possible narrator for Book 2 and I praise the heavens that this didn’t happen) could have provided, and I got her now, understood her in the ways I couldn’t gleam out of Nick’s narration in Book 1. Mae is totally a female protagonist you can root for, determined and good hearted and funny and all-around fun, and how she doesn’t sit around being a passive narrator and takes measures into her own hands. I’m sorry I doubted the strength of Mae as a narrator for even a second, or Sarah Rees Brennan’s ability to make her sympathetic. Because if there is only one thing I could name in terms of the author’s strengths in her writing abilities, the first and foremost thing that comes to mind is her way of drawing her characters so vividly, through amazing interpersonal character interaction that not only brings out the protagonist’s characteristics, but the other person she’s interacting with as well. Mae’s POV illuminated the very raw and achingly beautiful brother relationship between Alan and Nick that was different from the first book, but in no way less powerful. I love how we got to really know a good slew of people in this novel that we didn’t get in the first book, and there was none of that character disconnection I felt in the first book, which I believe probably stems from the fact that Mae herself is anything but apathetic towards the people she meets and interacts with around her. The experience of reading this novel was just so intense, because you feel like you really got these characters, and you care so much and there’s so much stuff happening and thrown at the character’s way, and you want everything to work out so bad. I wish I could explain this ability of Sarah Rees Brennan’s more clearly, but I’m not skilled enough with my words to do so, and instead I’m going to direct you this reaction post to The Demon’s Covenant that explains the character interaction thing in this novel much better than I have done here.

A large part of The Demon’s Covenant dealt with the idea of consequences. To the best of my abilities in talking about this without spoiling, in the first book people were willing to do the “wrong” thing to “protect” the important person in their lives, and in the second book, it deals with what happens after you do the unforgivable thing. Sarah Rees Brennan doesn’t hesitate to blur the line between Good and Bad, complicating her characters with varying shades of grey, and I really enjoy that, how not only does she challenge the rights and wrongs but is willing to take this a step further and examine the good/bad decisions her characters have made.

I really, really love the theme of family in this trilogy. Of course Nick and Alan was very lovely, and my fondness towards darling lying Alan continues to grow. I really enjoyed seeing the sibling interaction between Mae and Jamie, as a lovely contrast to Nick and Alan, and of course on its own right. It’s nice to see siblings in YA novels who don’t hate each other or the stereotypical Annoying Younger Sibling vs. Distant Older Sibling. I mean, they fight, but they love each other, the kind of family bond siblings share, and they always come through for each other no matter what. I'm so glad we got a better handle of Jamie in this book, because while I liked his lines in the first book, I didn't feel like I really got to know him. All that is rectified in this book. I loved how he was gay without making the whole coming out and what not stuff a Big Issue and he gets a love story and everything, and it was just really, really well done and I want him to be happy. I also enjoyed Mae’s interactions with her mother. Mae’s mom is seriously badass. I may have been a little in love. Actually all the women were rather badass in this novel. No helpless damsels as victims here. Sin in particular was my favourite. (Who is gorgeous and a dancer and an older sister and good with knives and incidentally biracial in the Not Making Race A Dominant Part of Her Identity way and will be the narrator of the third book! So excited!)

I also loved the string of makeout scenes in this novel, but that may be influenced by the fact that I am shallow. Also these kissing scenes were just really hot and sizzling in general. Mmmmmm... *coughs* Er, the fight scene was brilliant too! Very intense, especially the one on the bridge. The dialogue here was much smoother and flowed well to boot, and this book made me laugh and gush sniff and broke my heart and brought it back together all at once. I honestly can’t recommend it enough.

The Verdict: If you’ve read the first book and haven’t put the second book on your to-read this 1) there is something very wrong with you and 2) RECTIFY THIS TERRIBLE AND HEINUOUS ERROR OF YOURS NOW. If you’ve haven’t read the first book, read that first, and then run immediately to grab a copy of the second book. Theorectically I suppose you could read the second book without having read the first, since there’s enough context to pick up what’s going on without getting too lost, but it spoils the first book terribly and the experience of reading the first book would be utterly ruined, so I don’t suggest this. This is one of those rare special sequels that not only tops the first book in every way, but makes the first book better by proxy, and you’d be missing out if you skip out on reading covenant. Plus, the US version is all repackaged with a new gorgeous look with some amazingly beautiful cover models, and HOW CAN YOU RESIST THAT. Dark, intense, funny, and heartwrenching, the story will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. And it'll also make you want to commit ritual sacrifices to get your hands on the third book.

Rating: 5/5
Enjoyment: Look, I’ve read this over FOUR TIMES already since having bought it less than a week ago. If this doesn’t make it obvious that this is the book I enjoyed reading the most so far this year, I don’t know what will.

Title and Cover Discussion: EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS BEAUTIFUL. EVERYTHING. I’M SO HAPPY THE US COVERS GOT REDESIGNED. I am in love with the font style and colour choice, the dynamic movement of the models, the beautiful blue flames of beauty, the twirling white dress. I am no longer jealous of the UK covers, as this beats the UK version, hands down. I loved it enough to pay full price for the hardcover, which I wasn’t supposed to do since I’m making an attempt to “save money” but I couldn’t let the precious book out of my hands. (I do miss the secret cover of the first US hardback though, as I was kind of hoping for the same thing with the second book, but blue flames make up for everything.) Although now I’m all ~*conflicted*~ since I don’t have matching covers and I want a matching set for this trilogy and don’t know whether or not I should go and collect this trilogy with the UK covers or US, but I am thoroughly off topic by now so I’m just gonna shut up and give this whole package an A

Title: A
Cover: A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 05/10/2010

(meme from Book Journey)

So... my catching up on reviews is not quite going as I planned, as I slacked off majorly halfway through last week. lol in other words I don't think I'll get 30 reviews done this month, but how about I promise getting a good chunk of it done by this month? The vague numbers makes all this feel more manageable, lol.

Finished Books
Song Quest by Katherine Roberts
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth
Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
The Clearing by Heather Davis
La joueuse de go by Shan Sa
The Color of Earthy by Dong Hwa Kim
Water Baby by Ross Campbell

Still Reading
Half a Yellow Sun by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
The Darkness Under Water by Beth Kanell
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

Planning on Reading
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Wait for Me by An Na
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
La Traversée du continent by Michel Tremblay

Reviews Completed
Freak Show by James St. James
The Year of the Horse by Justin Allen - TS
Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim - TS
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Song Quest by Katherine Roberts - SC

Upcoming (potential) Reviews
Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
Dairy Queen, The Off Season, and Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth
The Clearing by Heather Davis? <- may wait till I own a copy before I review


Reminder: There's still time to enter my Crossing Book Giveaway! Opens internationally, and ends May 14th.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Second Childhood: Review of Song Quest by Katherine Roberts

About the Song Quest Campaign:

As some of you may or may not know, The Bookette is hosting a Blog Tour to help get this awesome book back in print. I am very fond of this novel and am sad to see that it’s no longer being put out there for new readers in bookstores, so here’s my contribution to the cause. For more details, please go here, or follow the Bookette's blog for more updates and new reviews of Song Quest.

Summary (From Backcover of US 1st Edition paperback): Far from the purple plains and the mountains of midnight, nestled in the crystal-blue waters of the Western Sea, lies the Isle of Echoes, where the forces of good and evil are held in harmony by strange and mysterious people: the Singers. The Singers can hear the silent voices of magical half-creatures and can speak over great distances using only their minds. Safely hidden away on the enchanting Isle of Echoes, they use their unearthly songs to keep peace in their world.

But a great evil threatens to destroy their isle and all that is good in the world. Now, only two young Singers can defeat the forces of darkness: kind Rialle, her voice as sweet as sunlight, and rebellious Kherron, whose longing for freedom may thrust him into the arms of the enemy.

Alone, stranded far from home, Rialle and Kherron are caught up in a dangerous and sinister web, struggling against the powers of darkness that threaten to destroy their world.

Note: As this was a book I read when I was a kid, I have pretty deep emotional responses in the re-read that colours my perception and how I interact with the book. For this reason my review format will be different from my usual reviews, and I’ll be using the format I previously utilized for my old Throwback Thursday posts, which I’ve stopped because 1) I got lazy, and 2) my approach is less review-heavy and more about my personal experiences of a reread, ie. very different from the TT meme going around. I decided to call these types of reviews Second Childhood as a tentatively new feature on my blog, but as I'm not the greatest with keeping to schedule, I'll hesitate to make any promises on this being a regular feature... For now.

Blast From the Past: Growing up, I did not own many books, let alone new ones. For one thing, we had a strict budget on what we could buy because we were new immigrants trying to make it in the city, and had various mortgages to pay off. (Of course my younger self never quite understood the details of our financial situation and all this just translated to me growing up knowing I can’t ask for gratuitous toys like tamogotchi even if I really wanted it because everyone else had it.) Also, no one in my family was a really keen book reader besides me, so book buying was not the biggest priority on their list of things our family Must Need. I mean, they bought all the basic early learner books to try and help boost our English reading abilities to acceptable levels, but buying novels for leisure? Hardly ever. The only new, non-used novels I ever got were three of those Princess Diaries from around the world books one Christmas, Brian James’ Tomorrow Maybe, Deborah Ellis’ The Breadwinner, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne series, and the Harry Potter series. (I also smuggled some Artemis Fowl books into our cart when we shopped around Costco.) An overwhelming majority of the books I read growing up were checked out lovingly with the library card my dad helped me get.

One of the many reasons why Katherine Roberts’ novel Song Quest was so special to me was that it was one of the four used books I got to pick out during that one time my parents decided to indulge me when we were roaming the flea market. (FYI, All of them fantasy titles, lol.) It was one of the few books I actually owned and loved, and the fact that I picked it out for myself made it that much more special. I think I was really in love with the idea of wielding magic through song. I remember my younger self reading the Echorium Anthem displayed just after the map splash page, imagining a song in my head and giddy over the idea that a singing voice can have a magical power. Also, I was simply charmed by Kherron, one of the two protagonists, which I’ll explore and elaborate on in the Re-visiting experience section. All my favourite scenes happened in Kherron’s storyline, and I was very fond of his new Mainlander friend Lazim. Him and Lazim were my two favourite characters back then. Finally, it was just an amazing yarn of a story, a world familiar enough to identify with but with enough magic infused into it to make the world special, with doses of high stakes and how it’s up to the kids to save the day. I reread this book so many times as a kid that you can see how worn the cover is around the edges, the creases. I always considered Song Quest one of my formative childhood books and first few fantasy loves.

WARNING: A few spoilers in this section below

The Re-visiting Experience: I actually haven’t reread this book since I started high school (… wow, so long ago), so rereading this book really took me back. It was really fun like the first time around when I read this novel, and I’m so happy that the whole singing aspect was just as captivating as I remembered it. I still love Kherron’s storyline, but I confess that I’m kind of shocked at my younger self for liking him so much. As enjoyable as he was, he was honestly not a nice person and had a bit of a mean bully streak. His charisma still took over the stage and he was always quick on his feet with savvy smarts, poking his nose all around trying to untangle the big secret of the Mainlanders, and at the end of the day I still picked Kherron’s story over Rialle, lol. Perhaps I liked him so much because lots of action takes place in his storyline, especially compare to Rialle’s tale. And honestly, I do still like him. How he was a bit vain and selfish, and terribly jealous of the girl who always beat him for the #1 spot in class, and how behind his show of arrogance is a boy desperately wishing for the recognition he wants, how behind everything he does is a show to try and prove himself. (Actually, thinking about this carefully, I think I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for the selfish, ambitious types, so I guess I shouldn’t have been this surprised that I liked, and still like Kherron.) Also, I think with these flawed characters, we get more room for great character development, which always makes their transformative journey very interesting to see. This is not to say that Kherron is a totally nice person by the end of the story, but he’s humbled by the end of the journey, and does some growing up, while still being the believable hothead impatient boy he was at the beginning of the novel.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Triple Snapshots: Asian Matters

Triple Snapshots is a (hopefully) weekly feature on my blog wherein I take a break from my typical overly long reviews to post short one-paragraph impressions on the books I've read. For this week's theme, the three books have at least one Asian character in the main cast (Two Chinese, One Pakistani)

The Year of the Horse by Justin Allen
Ah, The Year of the Horse. A fascinating concept that failed to deliver for me. This was mainly because I couldn’t connect to any of the main characters and in turn couldn’t care less about their adventures. I wanted to like Lu because, hey, Asian-American protagonist in a Western, yay! But he was the passive narrator type, and I don’t care for those. Couple that with his incessant hero-worship of Jack (whom I was thoroughly sick of by the time Chapter two came along, and spent half the time during the reading discussions I had with ninefly and Ari complaining about Jack, and wanting him to get off the stage) and our protagonist elicited feelings of complete apathy on my part. I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t care about their adventures, I didn’t care about the plot direction, I found the writing uninspiring and I suspect that I wouldn’t have stuck to this book so long if it weren’t for the fact that I was reading this along with others, and that their reactions to the story were far more interesting and enjoyable than the reading experience itself. (For instance, we had a bit of a running joke over Lu’s horrible nicknaming abilities, and I personally think that if ever Lu and Sadie hook up, he should leave all the children’s naming decisions to the lady.) I did, however, fall madly in love with this total minor character called Bill. Mostly because he keeps dangerous animals as pets (He calls his mountain lion Sweetheart! And his snake Hank! Squee~) and names a gun after his wife, lawl. And got all emotionally invested yet another minor character Goklayeh, and his non-existent’s backstory (I’m convined that he and the unnamed scarred girl had a torrid tragic love story and it was all very epic and things of melodrama and tearjerkers.). I think my biggest personal problem that hindered my reading enjoyment was that I kept on wishing that the story was about anyone else but the main characters. I suppose next time if ever I crave a Western setting storyline featuring Asian protagonists, I’ll just watch some East Asian films with a 'Western-esque' troupe. In fact, my Asian entertainment-viewing friends have been badgering me to get on with watching South Korean film The Good, The Bad, The Weird for the longest time, perhaps I’ll get around to finally watching it.

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
I really enjoyed this YA novel. It had a lot of heart. Nina was a perfectly lovable protagonist, and I love seeing her navigate through her life experiences, from family setting to school life to love life. This book was all about character growth, not just in the protagonist, but with other characters that surround and make up Nina’s life. In other words, my favourite aspect of the novel was the characterization. Everyone was so wonderfully fleshed out, and the interactions were all very genuine. I liked how her interactions were varied too, and not totally dominated by only one type of interaction (I'm thinking romantic interactions, a phenomenon that’s pretty prevalent in YA books, unfortunately.), and that she has pretty significant, sustained interactions with her family members and friends along with her crush. The voice was charmingly funny and witty in the understated way rather than the outrageous laugh-until-there’s-no-air-in-your-lungs way, and I think this tone suits the narrative of this novel very well. Highly recommended, and I keep hoping that this novel will either be optioned for a movie or a tv series. For this type of slice-of-life genre, I like seeing the story unfold in a motion picture medium, and I think it’d make a great show with lots of hilarity and heart, y/y? I’d vote for Zarqa Nawaz (creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie sitcom) to adapt this novel. 8D

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Justina Chen Headley has, after reading and falling in love with her first two books, become an instant must-read author for me. So of course when North of Beautiful came out, I had to hunt it down as fast as possible. Writing an objective review on this novel though, was rather difficult for me. Because while I enjoyed and loved the book, a part of me realized upon finishing it that I mostly liked it for the familiar Headley style in this novel. I enjoyed it because I liked Headley’s writing and the Girl Overboard cameo moment, and not so much the story itself. Because, truth be told, when I had time to step away from the afterglow of being all giddy over Headley’s words, I realized that I enjoyed the actual storyline far less in comparison to her previous works. I’m a bit ambivalent about the message of beauty in this novel. It’s a good message, to be sure - I just wasn’t too fond of the way that orphanage scene unfolded when Terra meets her so called Chinese girl counterpart, and how beauty and race intersected there... I found the family drama rather weak in the first half as well. (The mother-daughter develops improved tenfold when we hit the second half though, to be fair.) The pacing was off and the story doesn’t really take flight until the second half when they go to Mainland China. I was actually surprised that this was my favourite part, as I really despise the whole white-tourist-in-exotic-locale type stories. But it was more or less done right, and most importantly, the romance between Jacob and Terra blossoms. I think I’ll be forever fond of this novel as Headley’s first truly romantic story, aka with the romantic storyline dominating. (As much as I liked her first two novels of young girls empowering themselves and finding their place in the world, I was totally ready for a Headley style romance, and this novel delivered.) Also because I am extremely fond of Jacob. He’s so boyfriend material. I wish that we got to know more about him actually because his role in the novel was predominantly that of a love interest, and we only see glimpses of other facets to his persona. Also the description of a scar on his upper lip is totally hot. I do think however, that he has quite a lot of baggage issues that have yet to be unpacked by the end of the novel. He never really does reconcile with his Chinese heritage and his whole background as a transnational adoptee. His declarations about how his mom and Terra’s mom were “More Chinese than the Chinese” nonsense didn’t sit well with me either, especially since this claim goes unchallenged. But as Headley has handled race much better in her previous books, I’m willing to overlook this factoid. ANYHOW, I think fans of Headley’s works will be slightly disappointed but get a kick out of this novel anyways if you’re fond of her writing, and I think this novel will convert new readers to Headley’s works, so it’s a win situation overall.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime by Mizuki Nomura

(Meme from Breaking the Spine)

This week I'm waiting on the U.S./Canadian release of Japanese light novel Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime

Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime by Mizuki Nomura
For self-styled "book girl," third-year high school student Tohko Amano, being the head of the literary club is more than just an extracurricular activity with minor perks. It's her bread and butter . . . literally! Tohko is actually a literature-gobbling demon, and instead of the less palatable option of water-soaked bread, she opts to munch on torn out pages from all kinds of stories. But for Tohko, the real delicacies are handwritten stories. And to satisfy her gourmet tastes, she's employed (aka. browbeaten) one Konoha Inoue, an underclassman who has retreated from writing novels after his experiences with getting published at an early age. So day in and day out, Konoha scribbles away to satisfy Tohko's appetite. But when, one day, another student comes knocking on the literary club door to seek advice on writing love letters, will Tohko discover a new kind of delicacy to whet her voracious appetite?

Release Date: July 27, 2010

I've been hearing about this title on and off for the last year. Or, to be more specific, I've been hearing about the buzz for the anime film adaptation Bungaku Shoujo, which was going to be produced by Production I.G., whose company is known for producing quality shows/movies/OVAs. (I concede that there is also a 3-part OVA adaptation for this novel as well, but I've heard less buzz over that, and wasn't aware of it until recently) So when I found out that the novel was getting translated into English, my interest was piqued because I always like to try reading the original novel source before watching the film adaptation, you know? Also finding this review for the novel made me even more curious about this title. From the summary I thought it was going to be a straight-up comedy, but it seems to be going down a slice-of-life wistful tone which can be an interesting handle on playing out this premise. With translated books though, often the quality of the translator's work will make or break the book. A lot of light novels that get translated have pretty shoddy to mediocre translations at best (Though I do tend to like the translations provided by VIZ company, they're pretty reliable. This book however, is done by YEN Press, and while I like their manga/manhwa translations, the translation of the Haruhi novels on the other hand, were awkward). Oh well, guess we'll have to wait for July to see.

I will hopefully get to this novel and finish reading it in time for the Debut Author Challenge, as this U.S./Canadian release is Mizuki Nomura's debut on this side of the ocean. I'm being flexible with my interpretation of the YA/MG qualifications of this challenge here, as I'm interpreting this as any novel that is marketed towards a teenage audience, nevermind that the original language it was written in wasn't in English and the target audience isn't based in the US or UK. While I see that international blogger participation is encouraged in this challenge, I think non-English-language titles are far less promoted for this Challenge. In fact, I have yet to see one review for a non-English debut YA title. (Please correct me if I'm wrong about this.) And I see no reason why this should be the case.

Movie Trailer:

OVA Trailer:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Review: Freak Show by James St. James

Title: Freak Show
Author(s): James St. James
Genre: YA Contemporary, High School
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Puffin

The Summary: Meet Billy Bloom, new student at the ultra-white, ultra-rich, ultra-conservative Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy and drag queen extraordinaire. Actually, “drag queen” does not begin to describe Billy and his fabulousness. Any way you slice it, Billy is not a typical seventeen-year-old, and the Bible Belles, Aberzombies, and Football Heroes at the academy have never seen anyone quite like him before. But thanks to the help and support of one good friend, Billy’s able to take a stand for outcasts and underdogs everywhere in his own outrageous, over-the-top, sad, funny, brilliant, and unique way.

The Review: I will not lie, this book made me feel like I was on the sugar high of my life. (btw this is not a bad thing. I love my sugar!) Probably because our protagonist is outrageously funny, witty and all around awesome. I basically giggled my way through this book as Billy swoops in with theatrics and charisma pouring out of the pages, demanding you pay attention as she puts sequins onto her face. It’s like life and reality keep shoving Billy all this crap, but does our star of the story take this lying down? NO, BILLY BLOOM WILL ALWAYS BOUNCE BACK. She gets up again and again, striving to be true to herself. * She will come back at you, with more sparkle and charm than before, and win the heart of her audience. She certainly won my heart, at any rate.

Looking back, there were a lot of intense issues raised in this novel, and Billy had to go through some experiences of abuse and abandonment that was so very wrong. And yet, I do not recall feeling once deep bouts of angst or moments I wanted to cry in this novel. In fact, I mostly felt that sugar high happiness I mentioned previously, even during the bad times. (Okay, a bit towards the end I felt a little like crying and hurting a certain bastard, but then our author gave us the sweetest, darling ending ever of cute and happiness, and I totally forgot about the jerk, who totally wasn’t worth the expenditure of my anger, at any rate.) When faced with bigotry, bullying and abuse, she fights back with her endless supply of humour and refuses to change herself. And for the really scarring moments of her life, she relays them in this dream-like, disconnect fashion, implying that what’s past has past, and what’s important is moving on. I might be wrong about this, but this novel, above all, conveys the message that life’s too short to let bigots bring you down, and Billy’s attitude of never apologizing or changing herself, of bouncing back is so uplifting to see. How can you not help but root for her?

My favourite part about this novel though, outside of Billy’s narration, is the sweet romance that builds between Billy and the Golden boy of the school, the star football player, Flip. At first it just seems like your average crush that probably won’t go anywhere. But then towards the middle of the novel they start to become friends, and it’s so sweet and adorable as Billy learns about the person behind Everyone’s Nice, To-Go-To Guy. (I really like what he had to say about love and like, wherein – paraphrased, mind – he says it’s so easy for him to fall in love with a hot guy, liking someone was far more difficult, and how that made Flip special. No lie: I aww’ed *is such a sap*) Flip himself is sweet too, and he was so very typical dumb hot jock on the surface, but the author gives Flip such character nuances through Billy’s eyes, and I loved him very much as we start seeing his character grow and all the sweet, endearing moments he shares with Billy.

Of course, I adore the writing. Not so much because it’s sophisticated or pretty, but it captures Billy’s drama queen persona so well. James St. James doesn’t pull any stops; he brings on the capslock, the italics, the exclamation marks with unabashed zeal and fervour. And I love every second of it! I suppose theoretically one can be put off by this kind of writing, but I had too much fun reading this to take anyone’s criticisms on the capslock crazy seriously. I personally say that all the nay-sayers just need to find themselves a sense of humour. And I thought this novel covered a lot perfectly even sequencing that made sense. The novel passes by the three main stages of new-girl-in-town, romantic development, and then her empowerment as a transwoman and reaffirmation of identity sprinkled with flashbacks. (I especially love the third part of the novel, wherein Billy declares loud and proud that gender is a choice and sticks it to the Bible Belles of the school who won’t accept her or label her as a freak.) I suppose it’s all kind of predictable, but the theatrics of our lead character will keep readers entertained throughout the reading experience. Above all, Billy is a very sympathetic teen voice with very high school-esque concerns ranging from finding your place in the high school social hierarchy and what to wear for prom. You can’t help but love her.

And finally, this book may possible contain the best football game commentary ever. None of that game plan technical ramblings that no one cares about, and focuses instead on Flip, Flip, and more Flip. Our protagonist totally got her priorities down pat.

The Verdict: So much outrageous fun! You like YA contemporary and comedy? A sweet romance? Drama queen personas? If so, run and get a copy of this novel NOW. I had an absolute blast reading this.

Rating: 4.5/5
Enjoyment: !!!100+++%!!!

Title and Cover Discussion: I’ll say upfront that I have no way of weighing on this objectively. Every time I see this cover, the pink glow radiates off and colours my vision, and just looking at the pink cover of happiness makes me so, so happy. The sound of the title makes me smile and giggle like a fiend. I kind of, sort of, maybe remember a time when I first saw the cover and recoiled, but I decided that my past self simply had no taste. Am not going to rate this, and any criticisms of the pink cover of awesomesauce gets a LALALA CAN’T HEAR YOU from me. 8D

*I am purposely using the ‘she’ pronoun because it is pretty clear that the gender Billy identifies with is female.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Author Interview: Andrew Xia Fukuda

Hey folks! I'm here with an author interview featuring Andrew Xia Fukuda, author of the most excellent novel Crossing. I'm super excited and nervous about this because, truth be told, this is my first author interview ever, and hopefully I'm not messing up my first foray into this whole interview business too badly.


Yuan: I confess that one of my favorite aspects of your novel Crossing was the singing element. What made you decide on giving Xing a singing talent?

AXF: I'll need to confess something in order to answer that: I can't sing a lick. I croak like a frog when I try to sing. I've often wondered what it must be like to be able to sing lights-out beautiful, to own a musical instrument in your voice box. They say authors often live vicariously through their protagonists and this is certainly the case with me here. Once I decided that Xing would be a singer, I found and developed some metaphorical meanings behind Xing's rediscovery of his voice, but the simple answer to the question is I finally found a way to sing, albeit vicariously.

Yuan: You decided to name your protagonist Xing, and at the front we are given two definitions of the word (star and crossing). I suspect that this choice in name is very deliberate on your part. Can you please share with us more details on why and how you chose this name, its significance, etc?

AXF: Yes, it was a deliberate choice. First, "Xing" is a word that just seems all wrong and out of place yet sticks out a lot as well. That's an apt way to describe how many immigrant teens feel: out of place yet conspicuous. Second, Xing is a conscious play on words: it can mean star or crossing. Star connotes the sense of hope which Xing (and his parents) initially attached to the ideal of America. "Xing", when found as a road sign, also stands for a crossing. This obviously relates to the crossing to America. But crossing also works in a different direction in the novel: the reader makes a crossing into the life of Xing - walks in his shoes, lives in his skin, sees the world as he sees it. For me, this crossing of a reader into the very life and heart of a kind of person usually ignored and bypassed was a big part of this book.

Yuan: There is quite a dearth in Asian teenager leads in English-language fiction. In fact, I believe that your novel is the only debut American novel of 2010 I came across this year that featured an Asian (teenage)* protagonist. Do you have any book recommendations for an audience seeking English novels that can speak to a shared Asian Diasporic experience?

AXF: I love all of Jhumpa Lahiri's works, especially her short story collections Interpreter of the Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth. And although a little out-dated, John Okada's No-No Boy has always resonated deep within. Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor was Divine also has a quiet elegance and eloquence about it. None of these has a teenage protagonist but they each in their own way powerfully capture something about the sense of displacement and the yearning for a place called home.

Yuan: Finally, for all your new fans converted after having read your most excellent novel Crossing, do you have a future project coming up for us fans to look forward to? And if possible, do you care to share any details?

AXF: At the moment, I have the opposite of writer’s block: two stories have tumbled into my head and heart, and both, apparently, are jostling to be written before the other. They are completely different genres involving drastically different writing styles: one is literary romance (this caught me by surprise) and the other is a YA novel with a neat spin on the dystopian genre. It’s a bizarre experience; if I spend too much time on the one, I feel unfaithful to the other. Both are flowing so well that I dare not put either aside out of fear that that might somehow dry up the creative stream.

* Note: When I asked this question I forgot to add in 'teenage' into the question.


Interested in finding out more about his debut book Crossing? You can check out my review, and please consider entering my Crossing Book Giveaway for a chance to win a most excellent novel! (Opens internationally and ends May 14th)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 05/03/2010

(meme from Book Journey)

You know, I think I'm just going to do this kind of meme instead of bothering with the mailbox or library loot meme. It just feels more productive, and for any POC titles I want to highlight, I'll just contribute to the New Crayons memes over at Color Online. I don't particularly feel enthused about sharing the library books I borrow, especially since I don't tend to finish half of them (because I'm less concerned with whether or not I'll like the book and more concerned with how much I can stuff into my bag, so with my luck I always pick out a lot of duds. Pretty covers don't always mean good novels, and yet I never learn my lesson...) I dunno, for me, I just prefer laying out what books I'm currently reading, as opposed to showing off my latest purchases or loot from the latest library trip. Unless I get wicked deals for bargain prices for over 10+ books, then I'll make an exception. So! long story short, ITWAYR memes will be replacing the IMMs for the most part. Also this meme makes me feel sort of organized! I rarely get this feeling

Finished Books:
The Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Still Reading:
La joueuse de go by Shan Sa
Half a Yellow Sun by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
In A Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth
Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
The Black Dancing Body by Brenda Dixon Gottschild
Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Planning to Read:
Song Quest by Katherine Roberts - This is a reread for the blog tour
The Pack ARC by L.M. Preston
The Darkness Under Water by Beth Kanell
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

Reviews Completed:
Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
Split by Swati Avasthi

Upcoming Reviews
Freak Show by James St. James
Song Quest by Katherine Roberts
Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
The Year of the Horse by Justin Allen
(Potentially a manga or manhwa review. Assuming I figure out a format of sorts in time.)


Reminder: There's still time to enter my Crossing Book Giveaway! Opens internationally, and ends May 14th.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Title: Split
Author(s): Swati Avasthi
Genre: YA contemporary, family, abuse
Page Count: 280
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

The Summary: Sixteen-year old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother, Christian, with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can't make him forget what he left behind. His mother is still trapped with his dad. And his ex-girlfriend is keeping his secret--for now.

Turns out there are some things you can't just walk away from.

Swati Avasthi gives us a riveting portrait of what happens after. After you've said enough, after you've made the split--how do you begin to live again? Readers won't be able to put this intense page-turner down.

--from the cover flap

The Review: I fell deep into this novel from page one. The thing I really enjoy in YA lit is that a lot of them take you deep inside the character’s psyche, and this novel delivers on this aspect in spades. Perhaps it might seem problematic, to identify so much with a bruiser - because, make no mistake, our narrator Jace does show signs of abusive behaviour – but I really appreciate the way the author handles this, getting us to fall in love with Jace while calling out his behaviour, and saying outright that it’s wrong. Too many times have I seen the boyfriends of YA lit showing “bad boy” abusive tendencies, that we are supposed to accept solely on the fact that he is the Love Interest, and can’t do wrong. This take on the bad boy is very refreshing.

And to look at the flip side, I also appreciate the fact that we get sensitive portrayals of Jace and Christian’s mother, who has stayed with their father for a very long time. There is no “Why is she still with him?” victim-blaming questions, but probes deeper, fleshing out her personality, her ties with her sons, and we readers get a realistic portrayal of their mother, her psyche. There are not inherently good or evil people: there is wrong and right actions, and owing up to what you have done wrong. By portraying her characters in this light, Avasthi makes her cast intricately complicated, and also that much more human.

I really liked Avasthi’s take on the meaning of family in a broken household, and the interactions between the two brothers in particular. In Sarah Rees Brennan’s post about this novel, she gives us a nice sentence on the deep probing Avasthi delves into in the interactions between the two brothers – one who stayed and one who ran away from home. “It isn’t a question of what you sacrifice, with family – it’s a question of who you sacrifice, and the answer is someone you love.” There’s that tension when these two severed brothers meet again, of not knowing where you stand, of tenderness towards familial ties. It was a relationship that was without a doubt, severely broken, but I as a reader found myself willing for things to work out, hoping desperately as I flipped through the pages.

This novel is one of those extremely character-driven types (ie. the ones I enjoy very much), and we spend all our time in Jace’s head. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He was a very raw, intense character, and you can practically feel his anger bubbling on the edges, and with Avasthi’s deft hand she paint his narrative in a sympathetic fashion. I don’t believe I must agree with all of the protagonist’s actions or that they must be a good, upstanding person in order for me to enjoy their narrative; all I ask is that they have strong, convincing personas that fly off the page, and Jace fits this bill in spades. Of course, as we are in Jace’s head so much, we don’t really have a sense of the characters in the periphery, but the characters we do get to see are deeply complex and believable, whole beings.

Okay, let’s talk about the women! I love the women that surround Jace’s narrative. Both Jace and his brother are drawn towards “strong” women, ones who stand up for themselves, and I’m all for it. The women here aren’t, you know, the trophy love interest, their reward for being the Big Damn Hero, but fully fleshed out characters who not only interact with our boys, but react back. As much as this is very much a book about a boy, it is also about a boy who has significant interactions with other human beings, a lot of which are made up of women. This is no All-Boys-Exclusive-Adventure novel that forgets half the world’s population, and I’m all for it. I really enjoy watching Christian and Mirriam interact. Can I say how much I love Marriam? I mean, she’s not perfect, she’s bossy, and always sticks her nose into places, but she’s also very sincere, and does her best to help people. (Actually, she kind of reminded me of Hermione from the Harry Potter series, except, you know, an adult version who is less of a bookworm, in a mature relationship and of South Asian descent. AKA she is much cooler) I also liked how she was ethnically Asian and it wasn’t like, a big deal or the focal point of her existence; and how she didn’t feel like a token POC character (even though she is the only one who is explicitly stated in the text to be POC) because she was a very well-rounded character with agency.

I also really like the budding relationship between Dakota and Jace. It was kind of sweet and awkward in the will-they-won’t-they aspect, and I just enjoy seeing Jace’s joy around Dakota, hanging around her solely because he likes being next to her and how they go around being cute together over photography and dances and whatnot. I think a lot of his interactions with Dakota are him trying to start over for himself, changing the direction of who he can become into something better. I like how it’s not easy, but how sincere Jace is, how hard he is trying.

I personally had no pacing issues with this novel, but I’m starting to acknowledge that any concerns over pacing flies out the window for me when I get engrossed in a character-driven novel. With these types of books, the pacing could be all over the place, but I wouldn’t care a smidgen because I would be so in tune with the character’s mindset and character development starts to take precedence over any concerns over objective analysis on the sequence build-up. In other words, take my words on the pacing in this novel with a grain of salt. What I can tell you though is that Avasthi builds up character development very skillfully not only through character interactions, but in weaving key flashbacks into present events at opportune moments. Nothing felt out of place. As much as this novel explores dark issues and broken families, it is also a tale of hope and change. The ending was utterly satisfying, and I am looking forward to new works by this promising new voice in the YA market.

The Verdict: A dark, emotional, and ultimately uplifting novel that will grab readers by the heart. Our protagonist Jace is a compelling and strong voice that will captivate YA readers as they experience his struggles and pains. The character interactions are brought vividly to life by Avasthi’s talent as she asks probing and important questions about domestic violence and abuse. This novel will make you think, laugh, cry, and root for the characters with all your hearts. Highly recommended, especially to those YA readers who like their contemporary lit fare on the “edgy” side of the spectrum or those into character-driven storylines.

Rating: 4.5/5
Enjoyment: 100%

Title and Cover Discussion: I think the title is serviceable, but not particularly memorable. However, I confess that I am biased against one-word titles, my lack of enthusiasm may be influenced by this factor. With the cover, it looks very plain on the surface, but what I find interesting is the dual image of the two figures in profile if we look at the sides. I think the keys and character side profiles is a very interesting cover concept, but I’m afraid that it’s not the most polished cover execution. It’s a little too rough around the edges for my liking. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with the title or cover, persay. It’s just that I don’t find them particularly grabbing, and if I passed this novel by in the bookstore without prior knowledge of it, I may have just passed over it.

Title: C+
Cover: B

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Signal Boost + General News Updates

Okay, on Dreamwidth, I've seen this AMAZING post linked e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e by everyone and their sister, but not so much attention has been brought to it in the YA book blogger world, so I'm going to showcase it now.

No Country for Strangers is an excellent, amazing post that started off as a continuing conversation over the Charles Tan's Racefail post, but illuminates so much more, and touches on many social stratospheres that make up the relationship between the Phillipines and the United States, the colonized and colonizers. I recommend everyone to read through it slowly and carefully, but I'm going to quote some of the passages that touch on literature and/or writing, specifically on the one that touches on cultural appropriation in literature. (Actually, I kind of just want to quote the whole post - because it's brilliant, especially the part about migration - but I'm restraining myself. So many good passages to choose from~)

I will not say: no foreigners allowed. That is a rather horrible thing to say considering an overwhelming tendency here to welcome foreigners with open arms and bend over backwards for them, at the cost of discriminating against our fellow Filipinos. It is a statement that assumes we have the power to say such a thing and enforce such a rule when we, well, don't. "No foreigners allowed" is a fantasy -- a short-sighted, narrow-minded, twisted fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless.

Instead I will say: this is no country for strangers. This is not a people that can be known by observation alone, without the risk of actual engagement. This is no land where you can set yourself apart and then delude yourself with claims that comprehension naturally comes with high-minded goals and noble intentions to enlighten a system whose only fundamental flaw is ignorance of your ways. This is not a place that needs more foreigners coming in to visit, then taking away with them their misconceptions and their privileged judgments -- because we have been misrepresented enough, not just in the international community but also amongst ourselves, and false categorizations and claims about who we are and where we came from and where we should go are unneeded and shouldn't be welcomed.

This is a place where one must know rage to know sight. I wrote, somewhat recently: "[S]ometimes rage is useful. Sometimes anger is necessary. Sometimes you need a great and brutal force to drive ugly and hidden secrets into the light; sometimes self-satisfaction and complacency cannot be worn down gradually, but must be wrenched apart. Sometimes fear is the only edge that will compel you to walk a difficult and unfamiliar path. Sometimes you can't just politely ask rotting structures to make way for the construction of new ones. You have to knock them down. Burn them to the ground." I believe this is as true of the writing of fiction as it is of development policy, or economic research, or the study of Philippine institutions.


Today is the FIRST DAY OF MAY. MY FOUR MONTH LONG SUMMER IS HEREEEEEEEEE. Which will be spent paying off school debts taking whatever shifts my boss gives me. orz I've decided that I'm going to whip this book blog into shape by the time July rolls around. Considering how much of a slacker I am, I'm not fooling myself into believing I will actually have everything all shiny and perfect in this blog by the end of this month, so instead I will make this month my Catch Up On Review Backlog month! I don't know about you guys, but I read way faster than I get around to review a novel. (Confession: sometimes I don't review a book for months after having read it. <- made of suck.) Basically my plan is to work on exactly one review (or more if I'm feeling particularly motivated) every day, and I should have about 31 or so reviews for everyone by the end of this month. Doesn't that sound wonderful? 8D

Lastly, don't forget to check out my Crossing Book Giveaway!