Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#54) - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany (July 31st 2016 by Scholastic)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
For more information click here



Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.






This is probably the most exciting Waiting on Wednesday post I've ever written and I just need to take a moment to control my emotions. 

I AM SO FREAKING HAPPY IT IS UNREAL!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#PREPIRATENATION: BLACKHEARTS IS HERE


At the end of 2015, I read this wonderful debut novel called Blackhearts and absolutely fell in love with it!

NOW YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO READ IT TOO, BECAUSE BLACKHEARTS IS RELEASED TODAY (FEBRUARY 9th)!

When I was invited to join this fun Blackhearts release day event, I instantly jumped at the chance of joining the fun! I was once of those early readers who wasn't quite sure whether I would like this or not, because pirates are usually not my thing (expect Captain Hook from OUAT, obviously), but once I started reading Blackhearts, I had a very difficult time of putting it down!

I reviewed this book for WinterHaven Books, a totally awesome book blog to which a group of awesome ladies (including myself - yes, I'm awesome!) actively post book reviews. I won't copy the whole review here, but here are some of the highlights:






So, here you go... if you already weren't convinced that you desperately need this book for your life, I hope those little snippets of my review helped to establish some kind of interest!

Go have a look at what other bloggers have written about Blackhearts:

Chasm of Books
Bookmarks
Beauty and the Bookshelf
Chasing Faerytales
Arctic Books
My Friends Are Fiction
The YA Books Traveler
Bookishness and Tea
Sophie Reads YA
Middle Grade Minded

Why not take a chance and enter a giveaway for a copy of Blackhearts? HERE'S YOUR CHANCE!

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Release Year: 1930
Publisher of the pictured edition: Modern Library
Pages: 256
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

From the Modern Library’s new set of beautifully repackaged hardcover classics by William Faulkner—also available areSnopes, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Absalom, Absalom!, and Selected Short Stories


One of William Faulkner’s finest novels, As I Lay Dying, originally published in 1930, remains a captivating and stylistically innovative work. The story revolves around a grim yet darkly humorous pilgrimage, as Addie Bundren’s family sets out to fulfill her last wish: to be buried in her native Jefferson, Mississippi, far from the miserable backwater surroundings of her married life. Told through multiple voices, As I Lay Dying vividly brings to life Faulkner’s imaginary South, one of literature’s great invented landscapes, and is replete with the poignant, impoverished, violent, and hypnotically fascinating characters that were his trademark. Along with a new Foreword by E. L. Doctorow, this edition reproduces the corrected text of As I Lay Dying as established in 1985 by Faulkner expert Noel Polk.



This American Literature course  I am taking right now has "forced" me to read several books that I've always seen as titles that I will get to someday and I am happy about that, because I am finding myself enjoying reading these (modern) classics much more than I expected. For a long time I have had this expectation towards classics that I don't quite know how to explain - I want to read them, but at the same time I am afraid that I am wasting time on books I don't fully get. I've been happy to note that once I actually manage to pick these books up, I really enjoy them.

To be completely honest, As I Lay Dying is one of those classics that I did not know much about before I started reading it. I know it is a book that is often on the reading list of American high school students, but since I only did a year of high school during which I was not asked to read any books, expect this shortened edition of The Crucible, I unfortunately missed on some of these wonderful classics from the American literature canon. We did read American literature in my Finnish high school, but the list did not include this one. 

As I Lay Dying was published in 1930, during  a time very different to ours. But though the world has changed, there is a sense of universality to this book that I found very touching. It is a about a family, about death, about religion, about the distinction between right and wrong. It is about respect, about societal rules and what happens when you break them. It is about making promises and keeping them. It is about finding your identity, about staying true to yourself, about learning from your experiences. It is also stylistically innovative and written in a way every single reader can take something away from. There are so many different ways to approach this book and probably equally many ways to understand and comprehend it. 

What made this book a unique reading experience for me were the rapidly changing point-of-views of the narration. If my calculations are right, there are 15 different perspectives that are divided to 59 chapters. This means that the reader gets to experience the events that take place from perspectives that differ in age, levels of education and life experience. Some perspectives are closer to Addie, the woman who has died. Some are distant, but become closer as the novel processes. Balancing multiple points of view is difficult (sometimes even balancing a two does not work) and I think Faulkner does a brilliant job in moving his story forward while at the same time showing it to the reader through so many different eyes.

I won't go much further with this review because I want to save the good stuff for the essay I need to write about this one and the other books I have read for this course, but I do want to say something about the film adaptation of this novel. I haven't seen any of them, but I am curious now, because obviously for a film adaptation 15 different narrators/main characters is WAY too much. I was actually quite surprised that the James Franco directed film released in 2013 seems to be the only adaptation of this so far. I haven't heard super great things about the film, but I definitely plan on checking it out at some point just to see how Franco got this story transported to visual form.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#53) - All The Feels by Danika Stone (June 7th 2016 by Swoon Reads)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
For more information click here



ADD IN GOODREADS:

College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.

Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.

MORE THAN JUST A FANGIRL


LIV JUST. CAN'T. DEAL.


XANDER, ACTOR AND STEAMPUNK COSPLAYER EXTRAORDINAIRE


A CAMPAIGN TO IGNITE FANDOM


A TRIP TO DRAGONCON WITH XANDER


What are YOU waiting for this week?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (#56) - Five Historical Novels I Loved & Five Historical Periods/Events I Would Like To Read About


For more information on Top Ten Tuesday click here


Though historical fiction is not something I read often, once in a while there is nothing better than diving into a really good historical novel. 

In general, I usually tend to navigate towards historical novels that are to some degree based on real people or actual events and especially novels that deal somehow with the entertainment industry or societal issues of the time. 

I will first list some historical novels I've read and loved, after which I will move into introducing a couple of particular historical times/settings/events I would love to see being used, especially in context of young adult literature. 

HISTORICAL NOVELS I'VE READ AND LOVED


The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux - I was on 7th grade when my music teacher showed a clip from The Phantom of the Opera in our class. From that 3 minute clip, I was able to see that it was something I desperately had to see. My mom got me the DVD and I became obsessed (many of my friends from that time still reminiscence my sudden Phantom obsession). Obviously, I had to read the book too, and though it is very different than the musical/film, I loved it too! Both the historical setting and the location the events take place are so fascinating and this is period I would definitely like to read more about at some point. 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - I read this book back in high school probably like 6 years ago and I am highly considering rereading it now because it would go well with this postcolonial theory class I am taking at the moment. This book was fascinating to me because it dealt with a historical setting/situation that was quite foreign to me and thus made me aware of some issues I had not thought about before. It is also really beautifully written book that will definitely make you think. Also, I think the fact that it is a novel about Africans written about an African is really important and offers an extremely interesting perspective!

Suuri Illuusioni by Mika Waltari - Finnish author Mika Waltari is probably most well-known abroad for his historial novel The Egyptian (a book I unfortunately haven't read yet!) but while thinking about this list, Waltari's debut novel Suuri Illusioni came into my mind. Waltari was twenty years old while writing it in Paris and I think the rebellion and freedom of youth are so visible and tangible from that book! It's set in the 1920s, which is a setting I always love, especially when it allows me to "experience" the 1920s in a setting other than the United States. Though I very rarely read in Finnish, I think the prose in this one was very engaging and interesting and definitely made me want to check out more of Waltari's writing (he actually wrote also film scripts at the time and is the screenwriter of one of the most-watched film in Finland from year 1941 called Kulkurin Valssi). 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - The fact that this was my favorite book I read in 2015 should tell you how much I adored this book! I was kind of hesitant to pick it up because it is a pretty big book, but I was instantly sucked in to the beautiful writing, the alternating storylines and the level of detail Doerr has put into this beauty! I have been interested about World War 2 ever since I first learned about it in history class and I have formed an interest especially towards stories that deal with the "ordinary" people of that time. THIS BOOK IS SO GORGEOUS AND I THINK YOU SHOULD ALL READ IT!

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - I read this within the last few months of 2015 for my American literature class and ABSOLUTELY loved it! I had seen the film a couple of times, but I never expected that book to be quite so good. I love Wharton's prose and her commentary of the New York society and its customs. This book made me think, but it also made me laugh and smirk. I am a huge Jane Austen fan, and though this is different from Austen's novels, there is something in here that made me think of Austen.

HISTORICAL PERIODS/EVENTS I WOULD LOVE TO READ ABOUT (IN YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE)

(IF YOU KNOW OF YOUNG ADULT NOVELS THAT ARE SET DURING THESE TIME PERIODS OR FOCUS ON THESE EVENTS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!)


New Hollywood/American New Wave (mid-1950s to early 1980s)

The New Hollywood/American New Wave period - As some of you might know, I am a film graduate and currently working on post graduate degree. While I was doing my film degree, this New Hollywood/American New Wave period of American film making was something I focused on quite extensively and I think it would make an amazing setting for a historical young adult novel. Most critics agree that New Hollywood began in the mid-to-late-60s with the release of Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde and ended in the early 80s (there are different interpretations of the end year of the period). Basically, New Hollywood was a period of filmmaking during which a lot of these big-time directors of these days started like Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. The Hollywood studio system was crumbling and these so-called "film brats" (film school educated young filmmakers) took influences from European cinema to create something that differed quite a bit from the technicolor musicals the studios were trying to get money with. 

With equipment getting more lightweight and less expensive, the filmmakers moved away from the constraints of the studios and started to use their surroundings as settings for their films. There were also people like Roger Corman who gave funding to new talent; for example Jack Nicholson was involved with Roger Corman's productions at the beginning of his career. 

I think the atmosphere of Hollywood at the time would make for an extremely interesting YA novel. There were a lot of parties, a lot of drugs, a lot of experimentation and a lot of amazing films! I am almost tempted to write something set during this time period myself!


The assassination of John F. Kennedy (November 22, 1963)

So much has been written about this day,but I have never come across a young adult novels dealing with it. I have been interested in the Kennedys since I was a kid and especially the different theories surrounding JFK's assassination have always interested me and I have tried to read about it as much as possible. So much has been written about the events of that day that I think it would really awesome if a YA author were to use that setting somehow in a historical novel. 


Wounded Knee at 1973

Wounded Knee "Incident" began in 1973 when followers of the American Indian Movement seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This seize lasted for 71 days and brought the ideas of the American Indian Movement forward to a larger audience (Marlon Brando declined his Oscar for The Godfather and asked an Indian actress Sacheen Littlefeather to attend the ceremony instead of him to bring awareness to the events happening at Wounded Knee). 

Due to the nature of the events, I would be especially interested in a novel from the perspective of an American Indian (most of the protesters were Oglala Lakota). 


Charles Manson, Manson Family & Murders 

Okay, now that I think about it, this might be a bit too heavy of a subject for a young adult novel, but there certainly ways this could be approached for a younger audience as well (and other hand, there are some pretty messed up topics that young adult novels have dealt with, so why not this). The reason I think this is would make an interesting is the fact that most of Manson's female "followers" were quite young (most of them met Manson when they were around 19 years old) - they met this charismatic man who made them promises of something better but just ended up pretty much brainwashing them.  There probably are adult novels written about this (if you know any, please let me know!). I've read non-fiction titles related to this, but it would be interesting to check how this has been used in fiction.


Classical Hollywood Period

There are multiple books set during this period already (if you know any YA titles, please let me know!) but I would love reading something from a perspective of an aspiring female director/writer - women actually wrote quite a bit of films during this time - Frances Marion wrote scripts for actresses like Mary Pickford and was the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1930 for The Big House. She also worked as a journalist and was a combat corresponded during World War I, which definitely would also make a kickass story!

What are some of your favorite historical novels? 



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#42)


"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"

For more information, click here


It has been a while since I last posted for Stacking the Shelves, but since Harper put out some awesome ARCs up to Edelweiss this week, I thought I would share what I got with you. In the mix there are also a couple of titles I've acquired since my last STS post.


Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup (May 31st 2016 by HarperCollins)

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets. 







How it Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes (2016 by HarperTeen)

The movement is all that matters. 

For as long as Samantha can remember, she’s wanted to be a professional ballerina. She’s lived for perfect pirouettes, sky-high extensions, and soaring leaps across the stage. Then her body betrayed her.

The change was gradual. Stealthy.

Failed diets. Disapproving looks. Whispers behind her back. The result: crippling anxiety about her appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope. 

What I really need is a whole new body.

Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her?

For fans of Center Stage, and with shades of The Breakfast Club, this is a compelling novel about body, mind, and the courage that it takes to become who you’re meant to be.

The Way Back To You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott (May 3rd, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books)

In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way.

Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.

Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken. 

Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.

As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they're barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake. 

With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her...and to each other.

Wanderlost by Jen Malone (May 31st, 2016 by HarperTeen)

Seventeen-year-old Aubree has always idolized her adventurous older sister, even while utterly content to track Elizabeth’s antics from the cozy comforts of home, in the tender care of doting parents. So when Elizabeth gets herself in "a touch of trouble” and, for the first time ever, actually needs Aubree's help, Bree is flattered but insistent. 

There’s no way she can do what Elizabeth is asking. Impersonate her recent-college-grad sis all summer, just so Elizabeth can score the recommendation she needs to land her dream position? Nope, nope, not gonna happen. 

ESPECIALLY when Elizabeth’s summer job is leading a bus tour. 
A bus tour across Europe. 
A senior citizens' bus tour across Europe.

And that's even before Bree finds out that the tour owner’s super-cute son (who is decidedly NOT elderly) will be a last-minute addition. 

Bree would have to be crazy. Or would she?

THESE ALL SOUND SO FREAKING EXCITING! 
What did you add to your shelves this week?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage

Publication date: February 23, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 320
Purchase links: Amazon

Description (from Goodreads):

Would you risk your life to save your best friend? 

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

Kirkus calls After the Woods "A riveting exploration of what it's like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect." (starred review, Nov. 1, 2015)



The process of writing this review will most likely look something very much like this...



... BECAUSE AFTER THE WOODS WAS PERFECTION AND I SUCK AT EXPRESSING MY LOVE FOR THINGS. 

Those that frequent at my blog or read my reviews on Goodreads have probably noticed that YA contemporary is my jam! But while I read a lot of contemporary, the books I pick out usually tend to be more of a romantic nature or coming-of-age stories rather than mysteries and thrillers. I think in fact that this was only the second YA mystery/thriller I've read during 2015. If all YA mysteries/thrillers I've read before would have left me feeling like this, mysteries and thrillers would be the only thing I read.


When Julia sacrificed herself to save the life of her best friend Liv, she never thought she would be alive a year later. She never planned to be a hero, but her instincts kicked in, and she wanted to save the one person she loved her most. But now, a year later, Liv is not the same girl she used to be, and it almost seems like Liv was the one who had to go through the horrors of the kidnapping, not Julia.


Julia remembers her time from the woods only in flashbacks. When a body of a girl is found from the same woods Julia went through her personal hell, new memories start to surface, and though at points it feels like she would like to keep them suppressed, she wants to know what happened to her, especially after it starts to look like Liv might not have told Julia everything she knows about the events a year before.


Kim Savage's pacing is OUT OF THIS WORLD! The way she has put this story together kept me on my toes and aggressively pressing the next page-button on my Kindle, just so I could know more. Like Julia, who loves research and facts, I was dying to know what happened to her and how some of the people closest to her might have been involved. Pacing is one of those things that I don't even mention in most of my reviews, but seriously, the way that Kim Savage does it deserves ALL THE PRAISE. I haven't seen pacing as brilliant as this for a long time (probably the last book that made me this excited about pacing was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr).


There was also a complete, absolutely fantastic surprise hidden within the pages of this book. It was something I didn't expect at all, but once it came to my attention, I looked like that heart-eyed emoji. THERE IS A GUY WHO PLAYS HOCKEY IN THIS BOOK! If you know me at all, I am obsessed with hockey. Alongside books, movies and television, hockey is my greatest passion. The moment I was informed that Kellan is a hockey player I literally reacted like Jason Sudeikis as a devil in that gif.


The relationship between Julia and Kellan is a great addition to the overall narrative of the novel and I really liked how well Savage was able to balance the two without making the book "only about the kidnapping" or "only about the romance". Kellan plays a role in Julia's attempt to remember what happened, but she also allows her to step out of her reality just for a while and forget what happened to her. In short, Kellan allows her to be a "normal" teenage girl with a crush for a while, not the girl who saved her friend and spent time with a kidnapper.


With mysteries, I usually end up figuring out the whole thing before the last page. If there are strange concepts of words in the novel, I take time off from reading and end up researching the heck out of everything I don't know. I am obsessed with knowledge and facts and research, and very often with mysteries, I spend much more time trying to figure out the mystery than enjoying the ride. With After the Woods, I was so immersed with the characters, the writing and the aforementioned incredible pacing that I didn't really focus on solving the mystery, but I rather wanted to follow the process that Julia goes through. It was a strange reading experience, to some extent, but also a very exciting one. The book remains mysterious until the last page and alongside it the pacing just keep doing its incredible job.


The moment I finished with After the Woods, my initial reaction was "I WANT MORE". More of Kim Savage's writing, more mysteries, more hockey playing guys with weird senses of humor. I was completely satisfied with the ending of After the Woods, but at the same time, I was incredibly bummed that it was over, because I had such a great time reading it. I am so incredibly excited to see what Savage comes up with next because this one left me uncontrollably flailing from awesomeness.

QUOTES:




FINAL THOUGHTS:

- Once again, I need to bring up the pacing of this novel because really, it is incredible. The way Savage brings together all of the elements of the story into this intriguing piece of literature is just... ALL I CAN DO IS FANGIRL.

- YA seriously needs more hockey guys because hockey guys are the best! Are you a fan of football playing love interests? HOCKEY GUYS ARE MUCH DREAMIER AND HAVE BETTER BUTTS.