review: abandon by meg cabot

Author: Meg Cabot
Publication Date: 04/26/2011
Publisher: Point 
Pages: 320
Source: Library


Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.
Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most. But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld. (goodreads)

The story begins with a prologue that's not a prologue that mentions the myth of Hades and Persephone (hey, I just read a book like this!) and so I'm incredibly into it until I literally turn the page over to the second where the main character, Pierce Oliviera, tosses aside Persephone and states her problems are bigger and that we'll find out about them.
"A few days ago, if you'd told me some story about a girl who had to go live with a guy in his underground palace for six months out of the year, I'd just have laughed. You think that girl has problems? I'll tell you has problems: me. Way bigger ones than Persephone. (2)"
I have to tell you that right there is where I began to have problems with the book. I never felt a connection with Pierce - she was too flippant and hot-headed. I'm the first person that will tell you that I love a good strong female character but here it didn't work for me and actually went the opposite way.  My biggest problem wasn't with Pierce, however, but with her story. There's a lot of time changing in the story between the present narration and different times in the past that details just how Pierce got to be where she currently is and eventually ends up explaining how she met John (our Hades). So when she and John were having their argument leading up to the big reveal of her stay in the Underworld I was interested again - I mean, it's the Underworld. I love it, tell me more, especially since their conversation made it seem like they had quite a history there.

We change time into the past and find out that Pierce was in the Underworld for all of what seemed like 15 minutes. Half of that time was her trying to figure out how to go home and the other half was her talking to John. There was nothing there that would have explained to me how they had such a deep relationship. And from then on we barely see John until the end, where he turns out not to even be Hades. To be honest, I'm not sure, I had a hard time following what was happening in the story.

I'm sure people will love this book. And maybe this could have been a book I enjoyed had the story been polished into a better flow with more character background. But it wasn't a book for me.

in my mailbox (5)

Welcome to my somewhat hastily put up IMM for the week! The sun is out and there's a gorgeous breeze and I have a date with them both.

Legacy, Cayla Kluver*
Spellbound, Cara Lynn Shultz
Cinder and Ella, Melissa Lemon

*I'm not incredibly fond of the cover for Legacy as it reminds me of a romance novel but the synopsis caught my eye and so I'm going to try it.

Galley Grab:
Dreams of Significant Girls, Cristina García (reading this now!)
Wildefire, Karsten Knight

When I saw Dreams of Significant Girls I immediately nabbed it and added it to my goodreads queue as currently-reading. I'm enjoying it so far. Wildefire - look at that cover! And the story is intriguing, too.

Bought: (Borders has a 40% off coupon out!)
Moonglass, Jessi Kirby
Inside Out, Maria V. Snyder

I was iffy on Moonglass until I read Carolina's review of it and then I knew I had to try. Seing the cover on screen doesn't do it justice - it has this fabulous texture and almost a lustrous sheen to it and is more of a shade of lavender than anything. Inside Out is something I've been meaning to read for ages and I saw it, the price was right, and now I finally can read it! (Although it will be a bit until I get to it.)

Die For Me, Amy Plum

I used to try and treat my IMM as a what I'm reading for the week, but the ratio of books coming in was higher than books I could plausibly read at once and now it's reverted to being just that: the books that I've checked out or gotten recently. I also used to try and review all of them, and I still may, but I'm currently working that out. What is your books taken in to books reviewed ratio?

To those in the States - have a great holiday weekend!

armchair bea: blogging about blogging

BEA is ending? It seems like it only just begun. Thanks to Armchair BEA for letting us attend virtually - it was so much more fun than just reading along with Twitter reports (although I did that, too!). Hopefully next year I'll be able to attend BEA in person if it doesn't get scheduled too close to finals.

Today's armchair post is about the blog part of a book blog. I love lists, so I'm going to make some lists about what I enjoy about other blogs and things I try to avoid myself.

Things I like:
  • I hope it's okay if I spotlight you a bit, Jenny (of Alternate Readality)! Something that I love about her blog is that she has these fabulous book vs. movie posts, a topic that would have never crossed my mind but is inexorably linked to the original story. When I read a book I'm usually curious about the screen version and usually the book wins but sometimes it doesn't and that's when I trust her opinion.
  • On occasion I've seen non-meme posts and I will always stop and read those regardless of whether or not it's about characters, an author's writing, organising bookshelves, blogging techniques - just the uniqueness of the topic alone will always pull me in. I plan on having some posts like these in the future so keep an eye out! A blog that is always good for this is We Heart YA. Thanks to you lovely ladies!
  • Blog designs that are easy to maneuver without too many trailers, images, and widgets. This is just a personal preference, though. I visit blogs for their content and the great people behind them, not to get waylaid by page load speed or trying to find a link somewhere.
  • Twitter! I like to follow you guys on Twitter. If you have an account feel free to let me know in the comments because like I said yesterday Twitter is almost like a fresh of breath air sometimes and it's overall a fun environment.

Things that are meh:
  • Followers that are just followers. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but if I follow you it's because I thought you and your content was genuinely interesting and I want to actively participate with you and your blog. All of these memes are fun but I'd rather get to know a person rather than be a number.
  • One thing I avoid is trying to feel pressured to do too much at once such as: if I'm reading 5 books and then some galleys and then also have 2 recently read books that I need to review. To be frank - I don't do this. This blog is here because I love books not to feel like I have to keep the pace with anyone else. Once you get stressed it's not fun anymore and your motivation wanes. Keep only your own goals and never feel bad about it.
  • Thinking it's not okay to dislike a book. It's perfectly okay and then it's also okay to review a book that you don't like. There's a big difference between constructive criticism and being needlessly cruel. The best part about reading reviews an author doesn't like is that the things they may point out could spark an interesting discussion over the story and you could learn something you've never thought of. It's always good to keep an open mind and to be honest to yourself.

There are some other neat topics that this post could have covered but I thought I'd keep it simple and perhaps expound upon those other ideas sometime in future. In any case, thank you again Armchair BEA for letting me participate and keeping me abreast of wonderful book news. It's been a blast - see you next year!

And to everyone else: back to your regularly scheduled programming! Reviews coming soon. 

follow friday (4)

So much for going to sleep! I thought I'd post this tonight and maybe try the Book Blogger Hop tomorrow before work.

This week's question courtesy of Parajunkee's Follow Friday is:

Q. How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

At the moment I'm probably reading about three or four hard copies and then one or two digital copies. I much prefer a physical book as it's much easier on the eyes and, well, this blog isn't called paper reader for nothing! I would probably read more if not for the time that I spend sitting down to write reviews. My deal with myself is that if I have two books that I have to review I can't start a new one until I review one - and that's where I currently am.

I'm going to add in an additional 'where do you read them?' for people who stop by.
I usually try and read my books on the porch swing or in the backyard with the kitties running around. And in bed. Always a book on my bed or nearby to pop open!

I blog because I love books and I want to share my love of them with others.

For me it's as simple as that. When someone comments on one of my posts it really makes me ridiculously happy because I'm meeting other people who also love to read and talk about books. To be able to read their words and nod enthusiastically in agreement or 'hmmm' aloud in reply because they have pointed out a way to look at a book or character that I hadn't thought of before is such an amazing part of the Internet. That exchange of ideas is such a huge way to grow that I can honestly tell you that I've added so many books to my TBR list that I might never have heard of otherwise. So, honestly: thank you.

I will admit that I do not actively network mainly because I don't want to think of this blog in those terms. If a blog that I follow links to another site that has something I find interesting on it the chances are I will comment on the post, browse other posts and then follow the new site. I follow because your thoughts and ideas are written in a manner that just speaks volumes and because book bloggers tend to be a varied group of incredibly smart and interesting folks.

Before I even go to update my site I tend to go over the list of blogs that I follow and read and comment; I don't want to be someone who just follows and doesn't interact. I really enjoy reading your posts and, yes, I will read over old posts and comment on them, too, so don't be surprised if that pops up! I blog because I enjoy it and I follow you because I enjoy it and meeting new people.

I spent probably about two and a half hours writing my first review because I was nervous stiff. I wrote, edited, reworded, reformatted, spellchecked more times than I can count - I was so nervous because there are so many what ifs: what if it's too short, what if it doesn't contain enough information, what if it's just not good? But then as I wrote them more and more it became more like a stream of consciousness. I'm still nervous, but I write what I feel. My reviews, my blog, my design is pretty indicative of me. I like blue and more and more I like bright colors. I like simplicity and a sparse design without too many images. And I like creating things myself. My blog represents me just as much as my words.

After finding that lots of authors and book bloggers have Twitter accounts I created one to follow everyone. Twitter is interesting because it takes the context of your blog and reformats it into 140 characters and almost feels freeing, like blogging is using your indoor voice where on Twitter you can squee and yell all you like. (I'm @papereader there, too!)

I'm not particularly sure I answered the question but I hope I made it at least halfway there.

Have a good night, guys! It's ice cream time.

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event courtesy of Breaking the Spine that showcases much anticipated upcoming releases.

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publishing date: 08/23/2011

from goodreads:
Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real.

They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.
Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

Ever since I first read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein I've loved it. It's creative with masterful writing  yet rather poignant. So when I first heard of this book I knew it was something that I had to read. Besides, isn't the cover gorgeous? When I see a keyhole I'm immediately interested. For some reason it reminds me of the trailer for Pan's Labrynith where Ofelia enters the tunnels under the fig tree. I'm excited.

Author: Eilis O'Neal
Publication Date: 01/25/2011
Publisher: EgmontUSA 
Pages: 323
Source: Library

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known. (goodreads)
Full disclosure: I only took the first paragraph of the goodreads synopsis. You can read the entire thing by clicking on the above link.

This was one of those books that I would have loved knowing even less about going in than I was given. When I sat down to read it I felt that the flap had given me too much information and although it didn't stop me from really enjoying this book it's the reason for not providing the full synopsis and will be a reason for a slightly more general review rather than touching on specifics as I like to.

I love a good high fantasy novel. The thing about fantasy is that it's not as far-fetched a reality as paranormal or even potentially dystopian YA might be. There was a period of time where kingdoms and princesses, taverns and court politics were reality. The familiarity of it makes it easy to slip into and the world building and storytelling make it unique. Within the first couple pages Naila finds out that she's indeed Sinda, not a princess at all, and has to leave. To be honest, I was wondering for a page or so what else could happen now that Sinda wasn't a princess - but her story was only beginning at that point.

After Naila became Sinda she was at a complete loss: she didn't know who or what Sinda was supposed to be. All she knew how to be was a slightly clumsy princess. (Note: I feel like lots of female characters are clumsy lately? Is it just me?) Her growth was the best part of the book. Once Sinda stopped trying to be Sinda-As-Princess-Naila she started to figure out how she could define herself by herself rather than using a set of pre-defined terms. One of the reasons I really enjoyed her is that as a reader I could clearly see her progress from the beginning to the end. At times I was frustrated with her but that's natural with anyone and I could see her learning from those moments to really step into her own and they in no way made me like her less.

Sinda was able to cultivate meaningful relationships with others despite her misgivings with herself, and her continuing friendship with Keirnan was really honest and their evolution was well paced. When a relationship goes too fast it doesn't seem that believable to me but this was slow and realistic. And even though the characters were fabulous and their progress stole the show there's a big underlying mystery that kept me guessing until the last few chapters. The book ended in a perfect place - no crazy cliffhanger or frustrating 'what if'. This book is not a part of a series and stands well on its own.

I feel as if it were hard to put my enjoyment of this book properly into words but I encourage you to read it. If you like fantasy, a good mystery and well-developed characters then I think this could be a book for you. If you have any questions I'd love to answer and clarify for you. If you've read The False Princess I'd love to read your review or know what you thought. A great debut and I'm curious to see where else O'Neal goes with her writing.

armchair bea: best of 2011

Here I am rocking out to the new Lady Gaga album and watching my cats play around with a hairband. This is a fantastic distraction from watching my Twitter update itself every 5 seconds about all the BEA updates. Today's topic at Armchair BEA is:

What books are your favorite so far this year and what books are you looking forward to?

Well well. I will seriously try to limit myself to a sensible list, although my definition of sensible may be extreme.

Books I've read and loved:
1. Divergent by Veronica Roth
I loved this book. I know. I still haven't posted a review about it and it's still sitting on my desk. This book is my favorite release of the year as of yet. I loved everything about it: the pacing, the characters, the setting, the idea of it. If you haven't read this please do. It's worth your time.

2. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
Hopefully I'll write this review tonight to go up tomorrow but this was a book that I really enjoyed. It's Eilis' debut and is a YA fantasy about a girl who has been raised for 16 years thinking that she is a princess until one day she finds that she is merely a false princess. I won't tell you why or any more than that and this is a book best left unspoiled by the synopsis or even the book flap. A great debut!

3. Entwined by Heather Dixon
This book is a a retelling of Grimm's tale of the 12 Dancing Princesses. It is sweet and clever with vibrant characters and some unexpected twists. I wrote a review of it here. Don't blame me if you want to dance your heart out afterward. 

4. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
The more I think about this book the more I like it. This book is a completely refreshing read after everything I've read lately. The characters and setting are vivid and this a book you can easily imagine in your head as you read. It is written in dialect but don't let that throw you off because it's so well done. A review of this went up yesterday.

5. Stay by Deb Caletti
This is a powerful read that left me shivering at the end. This is a contemporary YA about a girl, Clara, in her senior year of high school who gets involved in a fast and troubling relationship. The writing is gorgeous and only helps to illustrate what happens after Clara realises what she's gotten herself into. Here's the review from a few weeks ago.

Books I'm waiting to read and love:
1. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin: Need I say any more? I've been waiting years for this book and it's finally here. I need more Tyrion Lannister in my life.

2. Crossed by Aly Condie: After I saw a copy of this appear on Twitter from BEA I had to close the tab. I really enjoyed Matched and so to know what happened to Ky and if Cassia stayed in the fields is going to be very exciting. 

3. The Pledge by Kimberly Derting: A book about society being separated by language. Are you serious? It's not even a question that I'd love this book. I am really looking forward to this release. And the cover is gorgeous!

4. Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan: I think I'm one of a handful that didn't really love Across the Universe and so I was a little wary of another story with the same idea but it really sounds interesting and it's a different take on it and so here I am, waiting for its release.

There's so many more that I know I'm forgetting but still adore. And I apologise for not having any covers to go with the choices, I was having issues with the formatting and so gave up on them entirely.

I'm excited to see what you're excited about. Is that redundant? But I am! Happy non-rainy Tuesday, guys!

review: blood red road by moira young

Author: Moira Young
Publication Date: 06/07/2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 
Pages: 512
Source: e-ARC

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction. (goodreads)

To be honest I didn't even read the synopsis before I read this book. I saw the cover, read the title and that was that. That might not work for everyone, but for me it was pleasant coming in without knowing too much as I almost felt as if I were figuring things out just as Saba was, growing along the way. Rather than talking about the beginning of the story I'll just say that this book is about family, relationships and how both of these things help us grow as a person, even the relationships we don't care much to have.

One of the main reasons I loved this book - and I did love this book - were the characters. Each and every one of them were fleshed out enough to get to know them without needing to tell their entire life story. We learn more about them as we need to which keeps just the right balance of character knowledge satisfaction and intrigue. There were good characters and bad characters but they were all interesting. One of them in particular I would have never in a million years guessed would be fashioned after a historical figure but was and it was perfect. And for Saba, well, she's a character that we need more of in YA literature. She's strong and stubborn but smart and incredibly loyal. The best way to describe Saba is that she is for all intents and purposes a real person with real problems and worries and this is partially why I could relate to her even if her world and situation are different from mine.

Some people might have problem with the writing style of this book, and I did with the first 20 pages or so, but after that I forgot all about it, which is good, as the dialect and diction fit the setting and characters so well that I'm still marveling about it. The sentences are brief and there are no quotation marks anywhere but as you read more about the characters it all starts to fall into place.

If I could do a mashup Blood Red Road would be Gladiator meets the book version of The Road.

This is a book that would have been just fine as a stand-alone but ends in a place where you're left happy about the ending but still thinking about the characters which is good because there are more books coming and no complaints from me about it. I would recommend this book to anyone. It was a fantastic read overall and completely refreshing from everything else that I've read lately. I want a copy for my bookshelf.

I thought for a long time about attending BEA this year but I knew too little and would have been overwhelmed. The thought that this is happening in my backyard and I'm not there is somewhat of a bummer and so here I am attending the Annual Armchair BEA! I'm sure by Friday I'll feel as if I've attended myself and will hopefully have met lots of amazing bloggers and so - take that BEA! (...this year, anyhow!)

Welcome to my armchair desk:

Sora says hi and is wondering why I kicked him off my lap
to take this picture. Ungrateful human.

kaye (of paper reader)
Twitter: @papereader
Tumblr: No tumblr for paper reader. Do I need one?

Tell us about yourself in 140 characters words or less.
Starting school in the fall to study political science and hoping to work with women's human rights  - UNDP, I'm looking at you! Studying abroad changed my life and I can't wait to do it again. Animal lover and bff of three lovely kitties. Pescetarian. Favorite colors are blue, silver, and black. Language nut. Plays a string instrument and also is an aspiring banjo player (one day!). Loves the Dave Matthews Band, Sakanaction, and lemon bars.

If you could put one book in the hands of everyone you come in contact with, what would it be and why?
I'm going to cheat. I'm sorry. But a few things immediately came into mind. For a fiction book I would give Brave New World as not only is it my favorite book but every time I read it I am blown away by how Huxley's writing more than aptly touches upon the topic of the future and its possibilities with the continuing advent of technology. For non-fiction it would unquestionably be Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

If you could have lunch with any author, living or not, who would it be and where/what would you eat?
Homer. Hands down. And hopefully he'd let me take him to Knossos on Crete where we'd eat falafel and I'd get the nitty gritty about 
Odysseus and how breathtaking Helen really was. I'd also hope he'd give me a lekythos because I adore them. (Yeah, Classics major much?)

That's that! Welcome to the start of BEA week!

in my mailbox (4)

If I spend any more time on prepping this IMM I think my head will explode so here it all is. I thought I would have a go at recording a video version for this week which was sort of nervewracking as I hate having photos taken, let alone videos. But...I did it, albeit incredibly nervously. It's my first time recording anything like this and so I apologise in advance but it was fun, and hopefully I'll get better as it goes. Maybe I'll try making one IMM a month a video. (I only realised afterward that my computer was taking a mirror image video. That'll be corrected next time!)

Here it is:

And because I know maybe some people prefer the normal way, I've done it that way, too. As a note - today I attended a library book sale and a family's yard sale which is where most of my books came from. Because of that I picked up a mix of YA and adult fiction. This IMM covers them all because they're all new to me!

Yard Sale:

Vampire Academy, Richelle Mead 
Frostbite, Richelle Mead
Shadow Kiss, Richelle Mead

I don't usually do the vampire or werewolf thing but as I'm trying to expand my boundaries there I'm going to go ahead and give these books a try. I've seen them pop up on various blogs and they have fairly good reviews on goodreads.

Library Book Sale:

The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri (loved the film)
Battle Royale, Takami Koshun
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld (review)
Pretties, Scott Westerfeld (review)

Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer (loved this film, too!)
Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen

The Fourth Bear, Jasper Fforde
Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom

Galley Grab:

Blood Red Road, Moira Young

I'm currently reading Blood Red Road and I'm really enjoying it. The writing style may not be for everyone but if you can look past that there's a lot this book has to offer.

Whew! That's it. Hopefully by the next time I do a video IMM I will have my bookshelf so I can put all of my books away (under my blankets in the video there are two crates of books). I had to clear off my desk of books to make room for my new computer so it's a bit of a mess at the moment. Ah, organised chaos! Happy Sunday, everyone! And to those watching Game of Thrones - if you have HBOGO you can watch episode 7 immediately after episode 6 airs on TV.

follow friday (3) and book blogger hop (1)

Good morning, everyone! I always tend to do these things when I just wake up so my answers are probably a little zanier than they might be otherwise. That's not entirely a bad thing, though! And I could have sworn that I did the Book Blogger Hop once before, but maybe I never posted it. Funny. Here they are!

This week's question courtesy of Parajunkee's Follow Friday is:

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...
  1. Probably the quirkiest bit is an area where I'm slightly OCD. When walking I usually avoid stepping on the cracks of sidewalks so that I'm timing my steps in between each large block so that I don't step on it or I make sure I step in connecting diagonals so that my steps are even. I do this with patterned floors too so that I step in only the blocks that have the pattern, not the plain ones. I know. Welcome to my crazy OCD.
  2. When I'm tired I often revert to speaking in a language other than English. Not because it's my native language, but because it's less work: getting to say less while still meaning the same thing.
  3. I love sandals and will wear any variety of them as often as I can throughout there year as long as there isn't snow outside. Yet I hate the hot hot humid weather. 70s? Fine. Lower 80s? Okay. 90s? No, thank you.
  4. Traveling by train or by bike is my favorite way to travel. Last year I was on a 20 hour train ride from New York to my friend's wedding and although it was long and tiring the people, stories, and gorgeous bits of my country that I've never seen were more than worth it.
  5. I have a thing of Burt's Bees in pretty much every accessible spot. On my desk, next to my bed, in my car, and every bag. The peppermint scent is fabulous and it works so well!

This week's question via Crazy-for-Books is:
"If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?"

This question is ridiculously difficult. Even though the setting of JKR's Harry Potter series isn't that different from ours, the magic certainly is. I was just at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and seeing it still was breathtaking enough; being able to see it alive and move as Jo wrote would be astounding. One of my favorite characters is Severus Snape, so the chance to meet him would have me at a faint, I'm sure. Aaaaand I want another glass of butterbeer. I have my cup already.

Breakfast time! I can't wait to see what fun quirks everyone has and where'd you go. After reading all of the answers I'll probably ask you to bring me with you!

review: xvi by julia karr

Author: Julia Karr
Publication Date: 01/06/2011
Publisher: Speak (Puffin) 
Pages: 325
Source: Library

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer. (goodreads)

I usually start off a review with a brief summary of the beginning of my own, however the above blurb basically tells you the plot of the entire book so I thought it would be silly to write another one. I was really excited about this book because, well, a government issue tattoo implicating a girl is ready for sex seems like a topic that could be really well done and so I was definitely intrigued. Nina and her best friend Sandy are both 15 but couldn't be more opposite: Sandy is a typical pre-sex-teen who likes to fluff herself to get the attention of all the guys even though she wants to join the FeLS (Female Liaison Specialists) which requires you to be a virgin; Nina's mom is a free thinker and has enrolled Nina in artistic classes rather than FeLS prep and has bought out Nina's mandatory FeLS contract so that Nina can pursue art if she chooses.

The thing that got me the most is that we are never really told why sixteen is such an important age for girls nor why their sexuality is relevant in any way to society. Neither are we told why girls who have this tattoo are considered fair game for any male who wants to have sex with them other than that Nina's society is clearly male dominated which raised all sorts of bells in my head. In circumstances like this I'd like to know more background information on why society developed this way and why females are treated like this. Sequels and a spin-off are planned so perhaps these topics will be covered in them.

Nina and her friends spent a lot of time running. More information about what FeLs is mentioned, but in passing, almost as if it were cursory information and not something the reader (or Nina, for that matter) would want to know. I'm hoping there will be more information revealed in subsequent books but as is XVI was a book that I expected to like more than I did.


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