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Archive for July, 2012

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing — not even a smear of blood — to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

512 pages | Published: October 15, 2011 | Margaret K. McElderry Books

MY THOUGHTS:

 Talk about attention-grabbing! City of Bones begins as if it were a contemporary read, then quickly derails into exciting territory. It doesn’t allow you to warm up to the characters or the action – you’re either with it or without it, because the tension isn’t about to dissipate and wait for you to catch up.

Part of this tension stems from the love triangle that sets itself up early on. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. Simon’s intentions are easy to see, but I was actually rooting against him. For me, he pales in comparison to Jace. But this opens up another can of worms: Clary is only fifteen. After so much buildup of romantic tension, Clary’s age is mentioned in passing again and that’s when it felt like a slap in the face. She’s FIFTEEN! That’s really young. (Or maybe I’m just old?) Either way, the romance stopped working for me. I wished for her to age quickly.

Also, the vampire/werewolf standoff seems a bit too…staged? It doesn’t fit well enough into the overall plot, in my opinion; it’s a distraction. I ended up forgetting what their Big Purpose was, and what they were supposed to be accomplishing. But I like that the fight/action scenes are detailed. It’s not simply a case of “he punched” and “he fell.” The details really amped up the suspense and my investment in the story, even if it seemed to be getting off track.

I’m warning you, though. Nothing will prepare you for its ending. Nothing. Even if you guess part of it. Your brain will still explode and leave you no choice but to move on to book two, City of Ashes. If you want surprise, Clare brings surprise – with a punch!

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photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: doughnuts

(Yes, I spell it “doughnuts.” It really, really bugs me when I see it spelled as “donuts.”)

So, I’ve been on a bit of a doughnut kick. And in this kick I’ve learned a new trick. (Oh man, I rhymed.) Check this out:

Talk about easy!

Thank you, Pinterest!

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What did I miss? {7/22 – 7/29}

Jul
29

6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

Blogging for yourself: a response — Amanda @ On a Book Bender posed a really great question about what it means to blog for yourself. This was my response to her question.

Deanna reviews… Future of Us by Jay Asher — Introducing a new co-reviewer!

TGR’s 2nd blog birthday! — That’s right. I’ve been running The Grammarian’s Reviews for two years now. Where did the time go?

[review] Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole  — A cute, breezy vacation read.

Whip it Up Mondays — Let’s ogle some whoopie pies. Yummm.

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Well guys, I’ve been slacking. I haven’t picked up a book in over three days. I always do this to myself — book burnout. Last week I plowed through a handful of books and felt like I was on a good, productive track. This week? Not so much. But that’s okay! I have time to get back into the swing of things. Plus, Bout of Books is fast approaching, and that will definitely get me in the mood to read.

In other books news, everyone but me has read The Evolution of Mara Dyer. This makes me sad.

The highlight of my week was the start of the Olympics. (It was killing me that I had to wait until Friday for it!) Since it’s started, it’s been taking up most of my time. I’m a sucker for the gymnastic and swimming bits. If you’ve been missing out on any of it at all, check my Twitter feed. I’ve been live-tweeting about a ton of the events with Mandi!

Blogging for you — Amanda hosted a thoughtful discussion about what it means to blog for you.

Team _____! – Nafiza discusses the breakdown of literary romances.

Looking for a good read? — Liz has a long list of awesome Contemp reads to try (picked by bloggers!).

50 Shades of Grey — WORD for Teens discussed in length the issues with the popular erotica book.

Let’s Talk — Melissa discusses book to film versus book to TV adaptations.

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Blogging for yourself: a response.

Jul
28

21 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

Amanda posted a very thought-provoking post about blogging for you. At the conclusion of her post, she asked the following question:

What do you think it means to blog for yourself?

We all know how difficult blogging can be. We also know how easy it can be – sometimes seemingly more for others than for yourself.

The important thing to remember is that blogging isn’t a competition. I think sometimes we’re unaware we’re even competing, especially when first beginning blogging. When starting blogging, there’s always someone with more ARCs than you, a better layout than you, more credibility than you, more followers than you, more successful ideas than you. But guess what? That’s always going to be the case, especially if you’re comparing yourself to others and/or trying to measure up to them.

Blogging for you means measuring up to yourself. At its basis, book blogging revolves around book reviews. And book reviews are your own thoughts. Would you sacrifice your thoughts on a book to measure up to someone else’s? I sure hope not. So if you wouldn’t sacrifice your reviews, why would you sacrifice the rest of your blog?

When I started blogging, I sacrificed personal aspects of my blog. After a few failed meme attempts, I decided to scrap my ideas and stick to all the other popular memes out there. This resulted in many blogging slumps and no significant increase in followers. It took a full year for me to realize that this caused me to not blog for myself. I was blogging for others, for readers. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I scrapped participating in memes, started Whip it Up Mondays, got the courage to speak up by including more discussion posts, and co-run the Book Sessions. And since implementing this new blogging drive for myself, I’ve felt more successful than ever. I’ve met some really great people that have been there for me every step of the way. And they’re the best kind of readers.

When you blog for you, you’re happiest – you’re happy about you, about your blog, about how you blog, no matter your layout, how many ARCs or followers you have, or how many ideas/posts have “failed.” You haven’t failed if you’re being you.

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The Future of Us by Jay Asher

Josh and Emma are about to discover themselves—fifteen years in the future

It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long—at least, up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto Facebook . . . but Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. Josh and Emma are looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates—it’s all there. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right—and wrong—in the present.

320 pages | Published: November 21, 2011 | Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated

DEANNA’S THOUGHTS:

The plot of The Future of Us is initially captivating (especially to me because I generally like futuristic/historical genres), but turns out to be a letdown. I figured there would be a greater focus on the kids’ futures and how Facebook changed social networking and communication so greatly from the 1990s. However, the whole plot revolves around their (Josh’s and Emma’s) individual lives. Nothing really happens to contribute to the premise. Josh and Emma only care about how their love lives turn out and how that affects the other aspects of their lives (occupation, number of children, mood, location, etc.). Emma is almost always complaining and comes across as being very self-centered – she’ll do anything to alter her future in a way that’s better for her, not even considering the harm it does to Josh and everyone she’s met (or will meet). It is because of her negative personality that I couldn’t empathize with her. Josh is the more personable character.

The story itself moves smoothly, its pace steady. And even though you get to see both Emma’s and Josh’s viewpoints, the thoughts aren’t repetitive. When one of them discusses something, the other doesn’t rehash the same events. This keeps the plot moving, rather than straggling.

The Future of Us is a cute and easy read, but more on the lovey-dovey side, rather than the mysterious side, and doesn’t tackle the complications of the future I hoped it would.

 

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*Deanna is a close friend and new co-reviewer at TGR. As a lover of historical, mystery and fantasy reads, she’ll be helping expand TGR’s reading tastes!

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TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

Jul
26

14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion, News

 

It’s TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

It really doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging and managing a site for two full years. It still feels like I started just yesterday. To think that I’ve come this far, and gotten through all the ups and downs I’ve encountered, I’m proud. TGR may be young, but it’s not that  young.

In the past year, TGR has really grown:

It made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. (Guide here.)

It introduced a new feature.

Of course, as the sole operator of TGR, I’ve grown too in the past year:

I pursued a new project.

I took the time to appreciate what TGR has done for me, and thanked all of you in this wonderful community. (We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for each other.)

I met Sarah Dessen at my first-ever author signing.

And I’ve read some really  awesome books.

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The thing about book blogging is that it isn’t solely about the books. In fact, a lot of book blogging is about the book bloggers. And this past year has been very kind to me in that department. I’ve not only met new bloggers, but also grown closer to those I met two years ago. Yes, blogging is a lot of work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And the friendships I’ve formed are irreplaceable. I don’t view those that I’ve met or gotten to know only as book bloggers; I view them as friends.We may live all over the world, but we’re still there for each other. They make blogging worthwhile.

So thank you, my lovely friends. I hope to read and share many more books with all of you.

One of the most important things I’ve learned this past year about blogging is that blogging is about giving back. And I don’t mean through giveaways. It’s about giving back to all the authors who consistently aid our never ending reading needs. It’s about treating each other with respect, and passing along good books. It’s about coming together and sharing knowledge.

It’s not about sacrificing your personal life, your job, or having fun. Book blogging isn’t simply what you make of it, but also who you make it with.

Happy birthday, TGR!

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Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole

I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring.

Until this year.

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes.
2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.
3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.
4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise.
5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference?

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl.

My heart just might be crazy.

365 pages | Published: June 21, 2012 | Lakehouse Press

MY THOUGHTS:

Dante’s Girl is a surprising read that kept catching me off guard, right from the beginning.

Cole wastes no time in getting you right into the heart of the story. But even though I was lost as to what was happening, immediately both Reece and Dante were personable characters that I wanted to get to know. And, as crazy as it sounds, they “clicked” right from the get-go. Normally the love-at-first-sight notion comes off stale or rigid to me, but it feels right for these two. What spoils their romance, for me, is the unbelievability factors. Reece ends up being taken care of by Dante, his family and his friends. And they’re not in London. And she’s allowed to stay with them. And intern. It’s all a little too convenient, and because of this, certain plot points feel forced and unnatural.

But the descriptions of Dante’s “Mediterranean paradise” of a home are enough to fawn over. Cole paints a very alluring picture of the swank and old world charm of Caberra. (You’ll be wanting to visit a paradise of your own, that’s for sure!) It’s nice to see both sides to the country, to see it from both a visitor’s and indigenous person’s perspectives.

A mixture of puppy love, beautiful scenery, good luck (and a touch of political unrest) make Dante’s Girl a cutesy, breezy read lacking the “glue,” or sustenance to carry out its story.

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photo credit: slightly everything via photopin cc

When I’m not reading, blogging or doing homework, I’m cooking. Cooking is a lot like reading and writing: it brings ingredients together to create a single dish that tells a story of flavors, family, friends and experiences. And just like with books, you don’t have to be the creator. Sometimes we’re all just looking for a little eye candy. So here’s a little food for thought!

I don’t know if you all know this, but I’m a total foodie. A foodie is “someone who has an ardent or refined interest in food.” Cooking is all about discovery for me – seeing which ingredients work well together, what flavors can be created, and what new foods can be tried. So now I’m bringing this discovery to TGR!

Every Monday I’ll be sharing a new food find, recipe, and of course, some eye candy.

This week: whoopie pies

Please look at these delectable pictures and try to tell me you don’t want one.

 When it comes to desserts, I’m sold on anything containing cream. (Note: do not put a container of Cool Whip in front of me.) I prefer cream to icing. So whoopie pies were practically made for me – a liiiiiiittle bit of cake (or cookie) and a lot of cream. They’re light, they’re sweet, they can even be bite-sized. And I love them.

Unfortunately I’m still looking for an easy recipe so I can make my own. Until I find one that’s worthwhile, I’ll just keep drooling over these.

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What did I miss? {7/15 – 7/22}

Jul
22

4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Memes, What did I miss?

What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!

Cover talk: The Casual Vacancy — I discuss what I like/dislike about the cover of J.K. Rowling’s upcoming release.

[review] Black Heart by Holly Black — An amazing end to an extremely gripping series. I’m sad to see it end!

Charging for reviews? — I discuss what I think is the unreasonable act of bloggers charging authors for reviews.

Dante’s Girl by Courtney Cole — A release note, part of the Kismet blog tour.

Whip it Up Mondays — Truffles! (No, not the chocolate kind.)

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Where do I begin? This week sucked, to be honest. A lot of work drama really had me wanting  to spend time by myself. And spending time by myself resulted in extra reading time! I plowed through Black Heart, the last installment in the Curse Workers series by Holly Black. And then I spent time wishing it hadn’t ended. The Curse Workers series is the first series in a while that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. It’s hard to find a series in which you enjoy each and every book – especially when it’s a genre you don’t typically read.

Because I enjoyed them so much, I decided to take a chance and go for another popular series that’s not typically a genre I read: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I’m currently finishing up City of Bones and OMG IT IS AMAZING AND WHY DIDN’T ANY OF YOU MAKE ME READ THIS SOONER?!

Oh, and there’s still nothing planned regarding my two-year blog birthday this week. Yep. I’m slacking.

Road Trip Playlist — Liz shares some perfect road trip songs, in honor of YA road trips.

Blogger ethics — Nafiza addresses some of the issues making their rounds through the blogosphere.

Ash teaser! — I think a lot of us were upset that Ash didn’t win in his round of the YA Crush Tourney, but Kagawa treated us all to a cute little teaser anyway!

Social media — Kat discusses the pros and cons of social media and the appropriate etiquette.

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Cover talk: The Casual Vacancy.

Jul
21

6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

I’d like to preface this post with saying I’m not the kind of person that cares about cover reveals, or pays any particular attention to them. However, when Rowling announced a new book release, I knew I’d be paying attention to any and all news about The Casual Vacancy. Needless to say, there hasn’t been much news. (Rowling’s pretty tight when it comes to releasing info, yes?) BUT. There has been a cover reveal. A rather… disappointing… cover reveal.

My first thoughts upon seeing this? Ketchup and mustard. McDonald’s.

It surprised me because even though yellow is my favorite color, the combination with the red makes this seem too comical, in an old-fashioned sort of way. The font screams outdated to me, as if it’s more fitting for an old, cheesy romance flick. And then pairing it with the contemporary, childish font for Rowling’s name makes the contrast between the two all the more apparent. It just seems mismatched to me.

I do like that the cover is clean and straightforward, though. Simple, clean covers always catch my eyes first. I think the checked box is striking and alluring enough to draw people to the cover. (You know, if Rowling’s name isn’t enough.)

The red and yellow are the only things I can’t overlook. They’re jarring – not in a too-bright way, but in a fast-food way. Like I said: McDonald’s. And I’d really rather not have McDonald’s be what I think about when I see the brilliant-minded Rowling’s work.

What do you (dis)like about this cover?

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