Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

Expected publication date: January 28th 2014

Received as a free ARC from NetGalley.

Heartbeat left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the premise is incredibly interesting and opens up questions about ethics and family and all that.  And the narration itself is great; it’s lyrical at times, although it does get to be a little much at times.  I also really enjoyed the romance aspect of it; even though it sounds kind of stock from the summary, it’s actually much deeper than “girl is having trouble in her life and turns to a bad boy to make herself feel better and maybe takes some stupid risks.”  Caleb is hurting, too, and we get to see into his mind a bit when Emma encounters him in the hospital parking lot, ready to steal a car after his mother visited and made him feel bad about himself.

On the other hand, this isn’t a really active story.  Things happen, and the plot progresses, but what makes Emma change her mind about crucial things mostly involves her sitting there, thinking and having flashbacks.  People don’t really seem to change because of events; for instance, the baby is in trouble because it has an irregular heartbeat, and Emma and her stepfather have a huge, long discussion.  It’s supposed to change how they are, but it doesn’t.  He goes right back to being dense about the fact that he’s being a terrible person, and Emma goes right back to treating him like crap.

I do have to question the logistics of keeping a body alive for a baby too, though.  I’m sure it happens but… you’d think that giving your okay to do it wouldn’t be all that’s involved.  I also have to question the lack of “next of kin” mentions, because even though Emma isn’t eighteen yet, if she were the next of kin for her mother instead of Dan, she would’ve had the choice to let her live or not.  Just something that’s missing that would’ve made this story a bit deeper than it was, I think.

It’s a quick read, though, so I’d still recommend it for what it is.  Happy reading!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read to help book bloggers gain followers and make friends.  Each week we're given a question or an activity to do.  And this week, yours truly is one of the featured bloggers!

This week's activity:

Reading Nook Tour: Give us a tour of your favorite reading spots.

At home I really only have two places where I can sit down and read.

The love seat in my living room.

And my bed.  Which, as you can see, frequently gets shanghai'd by cats.  In the warmer months I go outside; my parents set up a screen house beside their driveway along with some benches and a table, so I can get a meal and just stay out there for hours.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:
"Under the idea that we can all make our fates, that we have choices, is the reminder that sometimes we don't.  That sometimes life is bigger than our plans."
- Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, focused on helping people gain followers and get to know each other.  Each week we're given a question or activity!

This week's question:

What were some of your favorite picture books as a kid? If you have kids, what are your favorites to read to them?

By far, my favorite book as a kid was Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Other Coconutty Songs

I had my older sister read it to me so many times that I had it memorized!  She also likes to tell me how much I enjoyed Eloise at the Plaza, but I don't really remember that one, oops.  Other ones I liked as a kid were those large, hardback picture books that were based off Disney movies.  My grandmother had a ton of them so I'd read them whenever I went to stay with her.

I don't have kids of my own, but I've been sure to spoil my nephew, who's at that age (he just entered school).  I've gotten him Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom, Madeline and The Complete Adventures of Curious George.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book review: Not Pretty Enough by Jaimie Admans

“New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Lloyd Layton will know I exist. He once said three whole words to me, so this is obviously progress. If I don’t get a proper conversation out of him soon, then I’ll take my top off and streak through the cafeteria, because nobody could fail to notice these boobs.
2. I will not get expelled for streaking through the cafeteria.”

Those are the words that begin her mission.
Chessie is fourteen, not pretty enough, and very much in love. Lloyd Layton is hot, popular, and unaware of Chessie’s existence.
Her goal is clear: to get Lloyd to love her as much as she loves him, and she has exactly one year to do it.
As Chessie’s obsession with Lloyd reaches boiling point and she starts to spin a web of lies that spiral out of control, Lloyd turns out to be not quite the prince she thought he was. Can Chessie avoid the gathering storm before things go too far?

Not Pretty Enough just wasn’t worth it in my eyes.  On the surface it’s rather rife with formatting problems (mostly dialog tag stuff, which is one of my biggest pet peeves).  Once you actually read it, you realize that there really is no plot to this book other than Chessie liking a boy and doing really, REALLY stupid things in her attempts to get him to notice her.

And when I say really, REALLY stupid, I do mean it.  This entire book reads like the script for some kind of slapstick comedy, with Chessie constantly hurting herself and smashing into busses, doors and light poles.  It isn’t just physical (non)comedy, though; Chessie is a rather terrible and thoughtless person, getting herself into stupid situations just because she doesn’t think how they might pan out or why it might be a bad idea.  She actually lets Lloyd believe that she’s being abused by her parents because he sees a bruise from a girl hitting her with her bag in gym, and Chessie refuses to tell him what really happened for whatever reason.  It actually gets to the point where her mother is arrested and brought in for questioning about it.

And then she spends several days moping about it and saying how unfair the whole situation is because, you know, it’s totally okay to lie about your parents beating on you if you tell the people involved that you’re sorry.

Not to mention Lloyd is probably the most cardboard cutout character I’ve ever seen.  We literally know that he’s tall, likes sports, and that Chessie likes him.  When he turns out to be a jerk, I was as shocked as she was, because there sure wasn’t any reason for us to think he was.  I realize it might be intended to show that Chessie didn’t actually know him and shouldn’t have been going after him like she was, but it just made it rather boring in my eyes.
Overall, not a great book.  Nothing stood out about it in a positive way, so it isn’t really one I’d recommend.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Book review: All Our Pretty Songs by Sara McCarry

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

All Our Pretty Songs is obviously one of those books that’s supposed to perpetually live in a lyrical, surreal world, with a narrative that sweeps you away.  And there certainly were parts that I loved; I loved near the end, as the narrator is going after Aurora and everything is described.  It chilled me to the bone.  And the whole “you don’t know what’s real and what’s not” thing throughout the novel was executed well.

Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, the narration gets carried away at times and leaves its purpose, going from lyrical and surreal to just plain random and tangential.  I realize that a big focus of the story is the narrator’s relationship with Aurora, but the asides into parts of their childhood that have nothing to do with anything else just made my mind wander, and there were definitely times when I had to put the book down because it was just too much.  The prose was crowded instead of beautiful with everything the author stuffed into it, and it just wasn’t something I could appreciate.

Of course when it’s not being entirely full of itself it can be extremely clever; when the characters actually talk and do things, rather than entire situations being glossed over with a few sentences, you can see that the author has a lot of talent in her and might’ve done a bit better with tighter prose all around.

Still, it has such an unearthly quality to it that I think it’s worth it to finish.  There’s also a lot of legends and mythology weaved in, such as the Styx and Wicca beliefs.  It’s definitely different, so try it out for yourself and see.  Happy reading!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday!

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read with the goal of gaining followers and friends!  Each week you answer a question.  This week's:

Bookshelf Tour. Give us a tour of your bookshelf.

The lighting got weird after the first picture and suddenly everything was YELLOW but yeah, here is the top shelf, aka where my actual books go including but not limited to the ones I got in college during my creative writing degree and were signed because the author visited and I couldn't sell them back heh.

This is the middle shelf where my manga starts.  You may recognize the Hyrule Historia from another post.  That makeup brush in the corner is a lie considering I don't wear makeup, though.

My smaller manga on the bottom shelf (the ones above it are all over-sized and have dust jackets) as well as some light novels and more random stuff.