The Other Side of the Island

Goodman, Allegra. The Other Side of the Island (2008). Razorbill. 272 Pages. $8.99

From Goodreads

Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there, the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .

Except Honor. She doesn’t fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back.

First Lines

All this happened many years ago, before the streets were air-conditioned. Children played outside then, and in many places the sky was naturally blue. A girl moved to a town house in the Colonies on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Seraphina

Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina (2012). Random House. 467 Pages. $10.99

Seraphina by Rachel HartmanFrom the Author’s Website

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

First Lines

I remember being born.

In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart’s staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

All These Things I’ve Done

Zevin, Gabrielle. All These Things I’ve Done (2011). Macmillan. 367 Pages. $2.99

Birthright | Book One

From Goodreads

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

First Lines

The night before junior year– I was sixteen, barely– Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me. Not in the distant or semidistant future either. Right then.

Admittedly, my taste in boys wasn’t so great. I was attracted to the sort who weren’t in the habit of asking permission to do anything. Boys like my father, I guess.

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An Update, of Sorts

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but my life is a bit busy.

I’m attempting to change careers, away from the job that’s barely paying the bills to a skilled trade where I’ll be using my brain and my hands. It’s not where I envisioned my life going, but a girl’s gotta eat, and there are worse things than being an electrician. (It is the family business– literally– after all.)

I’ve been writing ridiculous things, most of which are not suitable for anyone, but they’re fun regardless.

I’ve been playing far too many video games– Skyrim has officially eaten my brain– and wasting time I could spend reading while attacking bandits and the like.

I’ve been learning how to be a bridesmaid… multiple times. Three close friends are getting (or have gotten) married this year, and I’m a bridesmaid for all three. There are other weddings to attend, but I’m only in the three, thank goodness. (I’m well on my way to Twenty-Seven Dresses.)
 
What I have been reading is mostly simple novellas and short stories and bits and pieces here and there that aren’t really review-able. Either because I don’t feel strongly enough, or because I don’t feel they are worth the time it would take to review them. (They shall remain nameless, because my goal is not to be mean.) In some cases, it is because I feel too strongly about them and cannot put my feelings into comprehensible words.
 
But that is what’s going on with me. 
What’s going on with you?

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On the Jellicoe Road

Marchetta, Melina. On the Jellicoe Road (2008). 432 Pages. HarperTeen.

Melina Marchetta Jellicoe RoadFrom the Author’s Website

“What do you want from me?” he asks.

What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him.

More.

Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she’s lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that’s her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.

But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road.

First Lines

My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

I counted.

It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I’d ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-la. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father had said that it was about time the four of us made that journey.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

First Lady

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth. First Lady (2000). 384 Pages. Avon. $6.99*

Wynette Texas | Book Four

Susan Elizabeth Phillips' First LadyI mentioned First Lady in my review of Call Me Irresistible, but I’ll bring it up again, and point out that there are a fair amount of character cameos, though it is not necessary to read them in strictly chronological order. Sure, knowing that they end up together can put a small kink in it, but really, it’s a romance novel, and if you’re surprised the headliners end up together, I’d have to be a bit concerned. I will mention that there are two or three “generations” in these books, and this in particular deals with the first. Lucy makes her own appearance later in Call Me Irresistible, but that is not really her book. (Her book is The Great Escape, due July 2012)

Synopsis

The beautiful young widow of the President of the United States thought she was free of the White House, but circumstances have forced her back into the role of the First Lady. Not for long, however, because she’s made up her mind to escape — if only for a few days — so she can live the life of an ordinary person. All she needs is the perfect disguise…and she’s just found it. As an entire nation searches for her, the First Lady teams up with an infuriatingly secretive, quietly seductive stranger and two adorable little orphaned girls in need of a family. And all together they head out across the heartland chasing their own American Dream — on a wild journey, adventure, and glorious rebirth.

First Lines

Cornelia Litchfield Case had an itchy nose. Otherwise, it was a very elegant nose. Perfectly shaped, discreet, polite. Her forehead was patrician, her cheekbones gracefully carved, but not so sharp as to be vulgar. The Mayflower-blue blood that rushed through her veins gave her a pedigree even finer than that of Jacqueline Kennedy, one of her most famous predecessors.

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Filed under Book Review, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance, Humor, Romance

Authors & Reviews & Other Drama

Apparently, I missed the entire #occupygoodreads explosion, or whatever the hell it was. It seems the online blogging world had a bit of a clash with some poorly behaved authors. Oh dear.

It’s interesting to me, actually, that it seems to have blown up to such proportions. I’ve had a couple of my mediocre-to-negative reviews get found by the authors. (See The Girl in the Steel Corset) I’ve been lucky, apparently, to have not been outright attacked by the authors. Rather, they saw fit to comment on my issues and then let it lie. I’m alright with that. It’s their right to address minor issues, so long as they don’t make it personal.

Apparently, however, there are some authors who could not just let it go. Instead, they went head-to-head with their reviewers and came out looking like all manner of stupid assholes. They may have intended to discredit their reviewers, but instead they brought more attention to negative reviews which might otherwise have just disappeared. And, in case I didn’t emphasize it enough; they made themselves look stupid, and probably lost more than one reader because of their behavior.

I don’t often hold an author’s personal life against them, but when it’s something of this scale, attacking your reviewers, it’ll make me hesitate before I pick up your title. If I do choose to read it, it’ll make me hesitate even more before I review it, no matter how much I may have loved it.

I’m curious though, since there is a line, and while some authors cross it, others are smart enough to stay on the right side. Where does that line lie? When is it ok for an author to comment on a negative review? Or a positive review? What do you think?

I think I’ve got one or two authors who check my blog, too. What do you guys think? Would you ever address a negative review? Do you avoid looking for them just in case?

Want to know more? Here are a few more in-depth or entertaining posts on the subject:

CuddleBuggery logs and analyzes the “Wankfest” (There are multiple posts, I linked to the first.)

The Guardian discusses it briefly

Well, that’s not a whole lot more posts. I’ll add more if I find them.

On other notes, the Guardian article referenced a review of Moira Young’s Blood Red Road.I loved it. Their reviewer? Notsomuch. Oh well.

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Filed under Not a Book Review