Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29th Follow Friday & Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View. Every week, book bloggers have a chance to connect and check out each other's blogs. Check it out to sign up and participate, or just check it out to check out some great blogs! This is my tenth week participating. This week's question:

Keeping with the dystopian and apocalypse theme that seems to be running rampant on, I have one very hard question for you: If you were stocking your bomb shelter, what books would you HAVE to include if you only had space for ten?

OH MY GOD HOW WILL I CHOOSE? Can a series count as one book? Cause if it did, that would be swell. No? It doesn't count? *grumbles*'s my list (in no particular order of importance):
  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  2. Eragon
  3. Wild Magic
  4. Wolf Speaker
  5. Emperor Mage
  6. The Realms of the Gods
  7. Before I Fall
  8. Paranormalcy
  9. Little Brother
  10. The Red Pyramid
I could totally tack on another 10 or 20 or 30 or you know, 100 books to this list, but these are the first that came to mind. I wouldn't mind rereading these ones over and over and over and over and over...

And if you do one Follow Meme, why not do two? The more the merrier! The Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Like Follow Friday, It's a place for book bloggers to connect, and "hop" from one another's blogs to get to know each other. Jennifer also asks a question to kick off the conversations. This is my tenth Book Blogger Hop. This week's question:

Summer is coming quickly - what 2011 summer release are you most looking forward to?

Supernaturally by Kiersten White. I keep crossing my fingers and hoping that an ARC will magically appear in my mailbox, but alas, I'm still waiting. *gazes out at mailbox, lovingly* At least July isn't TOO far away.
To all of you returning visitors, thanks again for stopping by my blog, and to all you new visitors, welcome! If you leave a link to your website I'll be sure to check it out over the weekend. Until then, happy Friday! Also, be sure to enter my Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale giveaway. The deadline to enter is tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped
Author: Megan McCafferty
Series: Bumped #1
Published: April 26, 2011
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 336 (hardcover)
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.


In response to the popularity of tv shows like MTV’s 'Teen Mom' and '16 and Pregnant,' McCafferty brings us a satire about teen pregnancy set in the not-so-distant future.

To be honest, it was difficult to get into this book because of the slang. To say, “There’s a lot,” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Every other word is specifically tailored to the teen-focused culture that McCafferty has created, and though the meanings of words like, “bumping,” “preggo,” and “neggy,” are obvious when read within the context, it still took some effort on my part to mentally shift to a state of mind where I could read through them quickly. But once I became accustomed to it (about 50 pages in) I was totally hooked. McCafferty’s dystopian is brilliant.

Melody and Harmony’s personalities provide balance and offer two completely different perspectives that explain the divide in the culture that they live in. While Melody has accepted her role as “the most important person on the planet,” for her working baby maker, Harmony’s religion drives her to want to rid the world of bumping sin, even if it means breaking the law. The two personalities clashed once they were in each other’s lives, but the conflict led them to expose what was wrong in both worlds. Personally, I liked Melody more than Harmony. She was smart, witty, and totally misled about what she wanted, but watching her accept what her gut had been telling her all along was worth the struggle I faced reading the first 50 pages of the book. Plus, she had a totally cute best friend. Zen was the kind of boy I always love to see in YA fiction—smart, friendly, and actually friends with the main character.

The only thing that really bothered me about the book was that I wasn’t sure what McCafferty was trying to specifically say about teen pregnancy until the very end. It left me feeling uncomfortable, torn between giggling at the absurdity of the situation and worrying about the issues raised in the text. It was like…the kind of feeling one gets when watching really bad Japanese ninja/samurai movies. You know the kind I’m talking about—the ones where someone’s head gets split open and gratuitous amounts of pink food dye paint the sky. Though it’s gruesome, you can’t help but chuckle because—in a disturbing way—it’s funny. Not saying that teen pregnancy is funny, but still. I suspect that the writing was structured this way on purpose, to motivate the reader to really think about about was going on.

Not as dark as some of the other recent dystopians out there, but Bumped offers a thought-provoking perspective on some current issues, and begs, begs, BEGS the reader to consider the implications of promoting sexual fads. It’s uncomfortable, it’s scandalous, and it hits home for those who are seriously following the trends in teenage pregnancy. In the end, I loved it, and definitely recommend it for those who can stomach the means of its message. However, I get the feeling that this book is going to be one of those ones that you either really love or really hate. But I’ll most definitely be looking forward to the next in the series!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: Chemical Garden #1
Published: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 358 (hardcover)
I purchased this book.

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left. --


So, after hearing about this book for months, I FINALLY got my hands on a copy and made time to read it. But to be honest, even now I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

On one hand, DeStefano’s writing is brilliant, and her characters deep. Wither’s sister-wives bare their souls across the pages without actually ripping off their shirts and screaming, “THIS IS ME,” at the top of their lungs followed by a check list of facts. Through Rhine’s eyes, the reader really gets a good sense of the horror of the world that these people live in. I mean, knowing when you’re born that you’re only going to live to be twenty or twenty-five is scary as hell, and how these characters manage to stay hopeful or find joy (especially after being kidnapped) is amazing. It’s clear that everyone is a victim of this post-apocalyptic world,which DeStepano does an incredible job sharing with the reader without actually showing the world (since Rhine is trapped inside for most of the time). As frightening as it is to admit, I could actually see DeStefano’s world become a reality, since genetic engineering is such a hot topic right now.

However, by the end of the book I didn’t feel like anything really happened. There is a lot of waiting, a lot of mourning, and a lot of wishful thinking that goes on, but beyond guess there’s a cocktail party or two. Here’s the scoop: after Rhine gets kidnapped, she’s married off to Linden to become one of three new wives. She decides that the best way to escape to freedom is to earn Linden's trust and become the new first wife, after which she'll have a number of new resources and opportunities to run away. However, there’s one major thing standing in her way, and that’s Linden’s father (who, for some reason, I pictured looking like Frollo from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame). I think this is where the source of my disappointment comes from. Everyone kept making references to the awful things he’d do to people in the book if they tried to escape, and I know they were all afraid of him, but to be honest, I just couldn't see why. We never see him punish anybody--just make some threats--and by the end, I just didn’t believe he was as scary or as much of a danger as everyone said he was. If Rhine really wanted to, she probably could have found a way to stand up to (or even physically fight) him sooner, which might have made for a more exciting read. But as he was, he wasn't around enough to be an actual obstacle in the plot. Sorry, I really don't mean to complain, but I love me some character conflict!

So overall, did I like the book? Yes. I did, and it’s another one that will get shelved with the other scary post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels that seem to be congregating on my shelf. But was it a favorite? No. Will I still read the sequel? Yes. I just wish that a little more happened in this first installment. Regardless, I recommend it, especially if you were a big fan of Ally Condie’s Matched.


Author Interview with Ramona Wray + Giveaway

Greetings, witches and wizards! Please join me in welcoming Ramona Wray, author of Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale, to Oktopus Ink! Ramona's agreed to stop by and talk about her book (among other things) as part of the Hex Blog Tour.

What was your inspiration for writing Hex?

Hi Emi, and thank you for having me. First of all, I need to say that the idea for Hex first hit me while I was watching Bewitched. Which should explain the cover -- it was my way of paying homage to the source of my inspiration. But writing a story about witches was something that HAD to happen. I'm Romanian, I grew up in a very superstitious country where witches are thought to live among the God-fearing folk. According to legend, they tend to be gypsies (but not always). And they're very powerful. They can get rid of or bring forth illnesses. They can cast hexes. They tell fortunes. They consort with the Devil. Romanian folklore is brimming with stories about witches. So, naturally, I had to write about one.

I've seen books that deal with angels and books that deal with witches, but never books that deal with both at the same time. What made you decide to combine the two? Were you ever worried about one kind of magic overpowering the other?

I don't know. I came up with the hex first and I needed a supernatural creature to fill Lucian's slot. Research pointed me to that Bible passage, and then I made the rest up. The whole halfling concept. I thought it would fit well with the hex. And, no, I never worried that one would overpower the other because there's a distinct mythology behind each of the concepts. The trick was to bring them work together in one setting and make that work.

Lucian, as a villain, easy to hate, yet lovable at the same time. Did you plan for him to turn out that way?

Actually, no. In the beginning he was going to be all-evil. Irredeemable. A lost cause. But, as it happens sometimes, I got to a point where the characters got fed up with my plans and decided to tell the story their own way. And, somehow, I ended up with a lovable/hatable villain. I like to think some magic was involved there.

If you were stuck waiting for the love of your life to be reincarnated, what would you do with your free time?

Try to hang on to my sanity somehow. Probably doing what Ryder did, get invested in causes. Try to make a difference. Focus on NOT counting the days.

If you could travel back in time, what time period would you visit?

I don't know. Maybe the 16th century, Italy. Experience the High Renaissance. Watch Michelangelo paint The Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel...

Tell us a little bit about your writing process. How often do you write? Do you have a favorite writing spot? A favorite food that you eat or drink when you write?

I write every day, whenever I get a spare moment. I fill many, many pages that don't actually go in my books. But I think it's important to write every day. Before I start working on a new story, I spend a couple of months getting to know my characters. During this time I write all kinds of little things about them on post-its which I stick all over the house. The writing happens pretty fast once I get going, but then I spend much longer editing. No favorite spot, I usually go where the quiet is. I listen to music in between but never when I write. I drink tea and eat lots of fruit. Because I'm boring like that.

How long have you been writing?

All my life. I started by keeping a journal when I was six. Had my first short story published in a local newspaper when I was eleven.

Did you do any research while writing Hex?

Yes. I didn't know much about angels so I read as much as I could. I also did some research on Wicca, to understand what spells are and how someone could, hypothetically, cast one. Research is a big part of the creative process. You can only make up so much; there has to be some truth behind it, some facts to bring the whole thing together and hold it in place.

What was your favorite part of the book to write? Least favorite part?

I think I enjoyed every moment of it. I'm not sure I could write anything otherwise.

What's it like to be an author participating in a blog tour?

Pretty amazing. I get to meet a lot of wonderful people. Some of them become dear friends. Hex receives a great deal of exposure and, with it, comes the feedback from readers which is, by far, my favorite part. It's great.

Are you working on anything now?

Yes, I'm working on a dystopian fiction. It's called "Echoes" and I hope to finish it in a couple of months.

Awesome! Now, before we wrap up this interview, is there a specific message that you wanted readers to take away from Hex?

Only that happiness is, to a point, a matter of perspective. Even if her social status didn't change, Lily found happiness in the end. Because it's not about being accepted by everyone; it's about deciding who is worth seeking acceptance from. Sometimes one person, if it's the right one, is all it takes. I have a special love for quirky characters; I think the odd ones, the lonely, those who don't fit in are often very special. Given the chance, they can surprise you. I'd be happy if Hex convinced readers to consider this angle.


Awesome answers, Ramona! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat about Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale. It's been lots of fun. :D

In addition to stopping by the blog, Ramona's offered up a copy of her book. You have one week to enter. The giveaway will be closed on Saturday, April 30th. To enter, just fill out the form below. The giveaway is only open to US residents. (Sorry international readers! But if you're dying to get your hands on a copy of Hex ASAP, the Kindle edition is currently on sale for .99 cents. ) I will announce the winner on Sunday, May 1st.

For more details about the book, you can visit Ramona's website, blog, or chat with her on twitter.

Thanks, and gooooooood luck!

(P.S. OMG I FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO USE GOOGLE DOCS. In the always wise words of Mr. Sheen, now I finally feel like "I'm winning.")


Friday, April 22, 2011

Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray

Title: Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale
Author: Ramona Wray
Series: -
Published: Feb. 1, 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 254 (paperback)
I received this book from Ramona as part of the Hex Blog Tour.

Like most girls at Rosemound High School, seventeen-year-old Lily Crane is acutely aware of Ryder Kingscott. Hands down the cutest guy in school, Ryder is cool, mysterious, and utterly untouchable…especially for Lily. For when she touches someone, Lily instantly learns all about their lives. And while such a skill might seem nifty, in truth it is wrecking Lily’s life.

So she is shocked when Ryder asks her out — and even more shocked to discover he has a rival. Lucian Bell is the gorgeous new kid who can’t take his eyes off of Lily. Being pursued by two hotties should make a girl happy, but Lily is skeptical. The boys act as if they’ve met before, hating each other with a passion that could only be rooted in a dark, dangerous past. A past full of terrible secrets. The kind of secrets that could get a girl killed.


I never would have guessed that angels and witches could be combined without inserting a nauseating level of cheese into the writing, but Ramona Wray pulls it off, merging the two in such a way to produce an epic romance that that--literally--transcends time.

Enter Lily, your typical seventeen-year-old girl, except for one thing--she's a witch. Lily has the unusual ability to see into somebody's past with a single touch, but her visions come at a painful price. Which is why when she touches Ryder without the painful aftershock, you know that they're destined to be together. Even though I thought that Ryder was your typical paranormal romance ‘heartthrob’ (good looks, dark secrets, and a patient nature), Lily was a fabulous and unique protagonist. She's sarcastic, intelligent, loyal, pragmatic, brave...all of the qualities I hope to see in a heroine, and the way she narrated her story had me laughing, swooning, and cheering on almost every page. But most important, by the end of the book she was just as strong of a character as she was in the beginning. I can't tell you how many times I've read a paranormal romance only to find that the Strong Heroine in the beginning melts into a puddle with little more backbone than a blob of pudding at the first sight of her White Horse Hero. Thank you Ramona, for reminding us that it IS possible to write a teen romance novel without sacrificing the main character's strength and personality!

Actually, to be honest, the romance of this book surprised me. I figured it was going to be the typical two-boys-fighting-over-one-girl-who-can't-make-up-her-mind sort of deal, but it was far from it. Lily doesn't waste time figuring out which man in her life will be good for her, but there are curve balls along the way that make her question her intuition. Lucian played his part well. Half the time I couldn't tell if I wanted to strangle or hug him. Yes, even though he initially comes off as the third corner of the oh-so-familiar YA love triangle, he turns out to be so much more, with a deeper connection to Lily AND Ryder than I saw coming. The three of them share a terrible burden, victims to a past and a curse that can't be revoked. The magical elements of the story were very down to earth, with less wand waving and more Wiccan-based rituals. It's been such a long time since I read a book where the magic involved in a story was pseudo-realistic and based off actual religious practices. It was a wonderful change of pace, and made Lily's interaction with the angelic elements of the book interesting and almost plausible since they're backed by religious and historical fact.

Though the book did lag in some parts, overall, I found Hex, a Witch and Angel Tale to be a surprisingly fun read. It was cute, it was deep, and above all else, compared to the other paranormal romances out there, it was different. It offered a unique blend of magical and religious lore that created a very intelligent romance. So don’t be fooled; the book is not as fluffy as the cute cover makes it seem! Pick it up if you’re looking for a read that combines two very different kinds of fantasy--and combines them well.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

OI News: Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale Blog Tour

Hi everybody! First, I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates and reviews. I only have two weeks of school left, which means that I haven't had much time to do anything but work on what has been a pretty rough semester. Anyway, that's not what I want to talk about. What I wanted to announce is soooo much cooler. So, without further adieu...

I'm excited to announce that a while ago I was contacted by Ashley from What's Your Story to participate in a blog tour for the book Hex, A Witch And Angel Tale by Ramona Wray. I agreed, so tomorrow I'll be continuing the tour by posting a review followed by an epic interview with Ramona. Oh, and I did I mention the giveaway? No? Well, there will also be a giveaway that you can enter to win a copy of her book! More details will be released tomorrow.

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited. The book was fabulous, and Ramona is such a sweet lady. If you're interested in checking out the other blogs participating in the tour (which I highly recommend--all are fabulous!), below is a schedule of the tour.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon (April 2011)

AND SO IT BEGINS! Here's where I'll be updating my status and participating in events throughout the day.
7AM, HOUR 1:

Starting my first book, Vespers Rising (book 11 of The 39 Clues), and to kick things off, here's a few facts about me and my reading environment:
1)Where are you reading from today?
I'll be reading in my room, all around my room. Bed, desk chair, floor...I like to read in
weird positions, so I probably be moving around a lot.
2)Three random facts about me…
- I love eating birthday cake for breakfast.
- My body doesn't respond normally to pain numbing drugs like novicaine--whenever I go in for important doctor stuff they always have to give me an extra dose so I don't feel what's going on.
- I hate mayo.
3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
I posted a picture last night, but the list is subject to change. Right now it's sitting at 14.
4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on
Nah, I'm just happy to be reading and participating. :)
5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
I'm a n00b! Give me advice!
8AM, HOUR 2:

Reading: Vespers Rising (book 11 of The 39 Clues)
Format: Hardcover
Page: Not really sure...the first 100 pages or so are marked with random letters instead of numbers, like a code.
Location: My bedroom
Eating/drinking: Jasmine tea
Thoughts: Loving this book. It's about time we got some backstory. So many things make so much more sense now that we get to see what caused the whole 39 Clues race in the first place.

9 AM, HOUR 3:

Reading: Vespers Rising (book 11 of The 39 Clues)
Format: Hardcover
Page: Finally made it to the page numbers, and I'm on page 108
Location: My bedroom, hiding under my desk
Eating/drinking: Nothing at the moment
Thoughts: Still loving this book and it's characters. Dan and Amy's ancestor, Madeline Cahill, is totally awesome.

10 AM, HOUR 4:

Reading: Still reading Vespers Rising (book 11 of The 39 Clues)
Format: Hardcover
Page: Only on 147...I had to take a break to discuss the positives and negatives of buying a saxophone with my brother. He thinks I should.
Location: The kitchen
Eating/drinking: Eggo waffles and nutella
Thoughts: I wish I was a Cahill. Even though saving the world is hard, it sounds fun.

11 AM, HOUR 5:

Reading: Finished reading Vespers Rising (book 11 of The 39 Clues), and now I'm moving onto Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)
Format: Hardcover
Page: 1
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Nothing at the moment


Guess the book title based on the picture clues!

(Hint: The author is Sarah Beth Durst)



Lol, I went into town with my friend to look at the Borders closing sales and to look at musical instruments.
(Because buying MORE books is exactly what I need to be doing right now.)


5 PM, HOUR 11:

Reading: Since I just got back from shopping I'm just starting Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)
Format: Hardcover
Page: 15
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Easter candy
Thoughts: Easter candy is so delicious.


6 PM, HOUR 11:

Reading: Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)
Format: Hardcover
Page: 80
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Easter candy
Thoughts: Ah, I love Rachel Hawkins' sense of humor. The woman is super silly, and I love Sophie and Jenna's conversations. Vampires ponies for the win!


7 PM, HOUR 12:

Reading: Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)
Format: Hardcover
Page: 134
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Nothing at the moment.
Thoughts: I wonder what things would be like if I was a demon? Hm...


1. What are you reading right now?
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins!
2. How many books have you read so far?
This is only my second...I took a break earlier today to go out with my best friend, who is visiting from school this weekend.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I'm really looking forward to finishing Demonglass, and I'm looking forward to reading A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
I did a lot of my homework yesterday so I wouldn't worry about it tonight. But then new plans got in the way...
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Yeah, a few important phone calls from my parents. I had to take them, though, so I'm not sure if I really "dealt" with them, tehe.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
Hm...aside from a few interruptions, it's been pretty easy. The two books that I've read so far are both books I was really excited to read, so I haven't had any problems focusing so far.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
No, everything has been awesome. :)
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Turn off my phone. Heh.
9. Are you getting tired yet?
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
I think that it's really important to pick books that you know you're going to love. That way, staying focused is easy!

Dinner time!

9 PM, HOUR 15:

Reading: Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)
Format: Hardcover
Page: 150
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Moar Easter candy.
Thoughts: I should start downing some energy drinks.

10 PM, HOUR 16:

Reading: Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)
Format: Hardcover
Page: 200
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Amp! My first energy drink of the night. Things should get trippy soon.
Thoughts: Demonglass is awesome! I know it's taking me forever to get through this book, but at least I'm enjoying it. :D

11-12 PM, HOUR 17-18:

Reading: Finished Demonglass (Hex Hall #2), and have moved on to Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray
Format: paperback
Page: 75
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Life.
Thoughts: My pillows are so comfy, but I'm going to stay awake to appreciate them.

1 AM, HOUR 19:

Reading: Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wray
Format: paperback
Page: 142
Location: Bedroom
Eating/drinking: Invisible gases essential to breathing.
Thoughts: Exhaustion is starting to sink in...but...I must stay...strong!


...Yeah, so after hour 19, I could no longer resist the warmth of my blanket and I passed out. Two and a half books read, total. Not bad, but I would have liked to have done better. Regardless, it was still a totally fun experience, and I'm definitely participating in October! I want to give a big shout out to all of the cheerleaders and other readers who stopped by my blog to wish me the luck and the strength to read as long as I did. Thanks guys! You totally rock, and made the Read-a-Thon as awesome as it was.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

Title: The Cellar (ARC)
Author: A.J. Whitten
Series: -
Expected Date of Publication: May 2, 2011
Publisher: Graphia
Pages: 276 (paperback)
Downloaded from Netgalley for early review. (Thanks!)

Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster.

But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them? –Goodreads


The Cellar was…an interesting novel, to say the least. The little blurb on the cover is what initially caught my eye. Seriously, read the tagline and tell me you don't want to read this book: "Romeo and Juliet meet the living dead in...THE CELLAR." Sounds awesome, right? But in the end, I wasn’t convinced that this book really delivered what the tagline promised. That’s not to say that the book was terrible or anything. No, in fact, The Cellar actually offered something that most young adult fiction novels don’t—an unusual smattering of romance and gore, with a villain who was truly, truly evil. It was a nice change of pace to see the bad guy act like an actual bad guy, instead of brooding all of the time because he's misunderstood or can’t control his undying thirst for brains. But the parallels between the original play and this story were mostly surface level, not really going farther than the fact that that there was a forbidden romance (complicated by voodoo magic, really), and the fact that the school is putting on a play.

As far as other characters go, Meredith was a great protagonist. I loved that she trusted her gut to know that something was wrong, and acted on that impulse to save the ones she loved. However, Meredith’s twin, Heather, was not so great. As the subject of the romance of this novel, I didn’t feel like she had the depth and personality to really hook me as somebody I should be sympathetic towards, so I didn’t really care what happened to her in the end. She felt more like a stand-in object, acting angsty when the scene needed her to.

The narration also has some issues. The novel bounces around and changes point of view quite frequently, switching from first to third person. While Adrian's perspective is told in third person, Heather and Meredith’s POV are told in first person, with no indication of who is narrating when they begin. I often found myself guessing one or the other until one of their friends or a family member mentioned their name. After a while I got used to it, but it was still a little frustrating to read, especially at the beginning.

I feel like this would be a good book for those who don’t like horror but are looking to read horror, especially since the ending wrapped things up in a satisfying way. But overall, the book was just sort of a “meh,” read for me. I think if I wasn’t such an English nerd and hadn’t picked up the book with the intention of looking for parallels to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet I would have liked it more.


Bring on the Read-a-thon!

Yuuup, that's right, folks! This season I decided to be one of the few, the proud, the brave, to particpate in Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon! Honestly, I can't think of better way to spend my day, especially after a tough week of tests. I'm really excited. I'm hoping to burn through a few of the books that have been sitting on my shelf since, like, FOREVER, and I'm hoping to catch up on a few of the "must read series" that are floating around the blogosphere right now. Here's a look at the pile I've picked out for tomorrow (though, knowing me, I'll probably wander on over to my bookshelves and mix and match books as the event goes on):

I'm especially looking forward to reading Demonglass (and throwing a fit once I reach the second worst cliffhanger in existence), Vespers Rising, and A World Without Heroes. I haven't had a chance to read the Fablehaven series yet, but I hear that Brandon Mull is an awesome author.

Anyway, totally let me know if you're participating tomorrow, and leave a link to your blog/twitter account so I can follow you. We can cheer each other on when the going gets tough! ;) You can also follow me on twitter at @oktopusink. I'll be starting my journey around 7AM.