Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish .
1. Excessive/the same adjectives: I feel like authors have been doing this a lot lately to describe their characters for the sake of making them seem more attractive or "exotic" (cough Stephenie Meyer cough). "Velvety" "Marble" etc.
2. Stickers on books: I hate this. The residue they leave on covers is annoying, and it takes forever to sit there and slowly peel them off.
3. Cheesy Dialogue: Who wants to read the same, predictable lines over and over again? Especially the "I love you but we can't be together *because I'm a vampire/werewolf/fallen angel*" and its derivatives.
4. Characters who whine: Books are incredibly difficult to get through when the main character won't stop complaining and her streams of incessant whining just ring in your ears; it's hard for me to keep on if I can't stand the main character.
5. Grammar Errors: A couple mistakes are understandable. But I expect published books to be pretty polished since they go through rounds of professional editing.
6. The Trend: I find the increasing amount of paranormal/supernatural/vampire novels after Twilight, and now those of the dystopian genre following The Hunger Games, to be overbearing and unnecessary. If the author really does have their own take on the genre, then great. But if it's another generic vampire/werewolf story just to sell...
7. Sudden love: When the characters fall in love inexplicably at first sight and all you can think is.. Huh? How did that happen? It's so unnatural and jarring, but unfortunately has been occurring a lot in books these days.
8. Loose ends: I dislike endings that just completely seem to cut off the plot and you're left with all these unanswered questions.
9. Love Triangles: I'm starting to get a bit tired of these drawn-out triangles, especially in stories where two characters are obviously meant for each other but the third is just thrown in there for the sake of having a love triangle. And the whole Team A or Team B thing? Agh.
10. Shiny paperbacks: This honestly isn't too terrible, and I own tons of shiny paperbooks and manage to not throw a fit. I just don't especially like how they collect smudges and fingerprints so easily. But I can live with them!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club
By Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Date Published: December 29, 2009
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

     Love is all you need...or is it? Penny's about to find out.     Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows - no more. It's a personal choice...and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born; The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her non-dating ways...which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like.....
      After reading Prom and Prejudice and now The Lonely Hearts Club, I can conclude that maybe Elizabeth Eulberg just isn't the author for me. I found that I didn't cringe while reading The Lonely Hearts Club as much as I did with Eulberg's sophomore effort, but this novel still felt empty. It was typical young adult fare, running on dialogue that was cheesy and forced, even for teens (for example: "what to the evs"...) and descriptions of everyone's outfits, from that "sequined belt" to that "white fitted tee and navy blue corduroy blazer."

   Also, I know that "anyways" is accepted colloquially, but it really bothered me seeing it in print so many times. The use of "anyways" instead of the proper "anyway" is sort of a pet peeve of mine, so the fact that Eulberg uses it in more than a couple of instances really stood out and threw me off.

   But I would be lying if I didn't admit that I did enjoy parts of this book; the writing definitely picked up in the latter half, though it remained completely predictable. I did appreciate how Eulberg stresses the importance of friendship and girl power. Too much of YA these days stresses the importance of romance over familial relationships and platonic friendships. And while The Lonely Hearts Club ends up the same way most young adult novels do (SPOILER: with the girl getting the guy... which isn't really a giveaway at all), it does a good job of making sure that Penny, the heroine, is firm in staying true to herself and maintaining her friendships. She isn't letting her new relationship take over her life.

   What initially interested me in this book, and kept me interested, was its many allusions to the Beatles. I loved The Lonely Hearts Club, Penny's eccentric Beatles-obsessed parents, Abbey the stuffed walrus, the song references. I have Eulberg to thank for my rediscovery of the band, and I'm definitely blasting their music right now!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

News: Jennifer Lawrence Cast as Katniss Everdeen

Today, Lionsgate officially confirmed that 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, who has recently skyrocketed to fame for her Oscar-nominated performance in Winter's Bone, will be playing Katniss Everdeen in the upcoming movie adaptation of everyone's favorite young adult dystopian, The Hunger Games.

The announcement comes after months of seemingly endless speculation; just about every Hollywood actress from the ages of 14 to 21 seemed to be a contender for the role. Lawrence was first reported to have been offered the role four days ago, but no official confirmation was given until now.

Other fans also had been hoping for the casting of 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, another rising starlet who has recently shot to fame for her (also) Oscar-nominated role in True Grit. It appears that Lionsgate has made the decision to age the characters up, as Katniss is described as 16 in the novels. Lawrence's casting will probably act as a guide in casting the rest of the characters, especially love interest Peeta Mellark. 

Personally, I'm glad that they're casting older rather than younger, because The Hunger Games does contain a lot of graphic violence and it does deal with a lot of heavy emotion that a younger actress may not be able to pull off. I did lean toward Hailee and would have preferred her, because I adore her and she has the acting chops. But in the end I think that Lionsgate made the right decision with Lawrence, who from what I've heard, definitely has the ability to pull off Katniss' grittiness and steely persona. And while concerns have been raised over her appearance, which is not exactly brunette or gray-eyed, these can easily be alleviated with hair dye or contacts. For me, the fact that she can act well and that the director and author both approve is comforting. Though I really do hope they end up giving her brown hair. Jennifer may not look like the Katniss that I've always visualized in my head, but that's the beauty of going back to the books and being able to imagination the characters and the story on your own!

Author Suzanne Collins had nothing but praise for Lionsgate's choice, commenting that
Jennifer's just an incredible actress...So powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving and brave. I never thought we'd find somebody this perfect for the role. And I can't wait for everyone to see her play it.
I love The Hunger Games. It sits at the top of my favorite books list (adult and young adult) for being a story. I devoured the entire trilogy this past winter break and they inspired me to read more again, and thus create this blog. The movie, which is looking at a March 23, 2011 release, will definitely be at the top of my to-watch list. 

And now the fandom waits with bated breath for the rest of the casting announcements. I'm happy that we finally have a Katniss and can finally move on to the rest of the characters. I'm ready for Peeta!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gone (Gone #1) by Michael Grant

Gone (Gone #1)
By Michael Grant
Publisher: Harper Teen
Date Published: July 1, 2008
Rating: Photobucket
    In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE. Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened.
      Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.
     It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else...
  I've seen Gone around bookstore shelves for a long time now. I was always intrigued, but never managed to pick it up these past few years. At 558 pages, the physical size of Gone is a little intimidating, but I seemed to breeze through this one quite quickly and realized that all those times I didn't decide to read it, I was missing out. Gone's exploration of a grownup-free society is staggering and reveals both the best and the worst sides of young teens as they struggle to survive in a world where they're forced to be the adults in (literally) the blink of an eye.

     I loved Sam's battle with leadership and realizing the potential he has. At first, he shies away from the responsibility of caring for everyone who has been left behind but in the end he steps up because he realizes that there are no adults to magic away the problems and the survival of everyone in Perdido Beach depends on him. I'm glad that Gone addresses this fear of leadership because I think it's genuinely something that teenagers struggle with in the real world. Gone definitely also makes you appreciate the roles and the experience adults have around you; though many teens and kids often wish that grown ups would disappear and leave them alone, the truth is that everything would be in chaos. It's another case of "You don't know what you have until it's gone." We imagine a world of unrestricted access to TV and internet, dessert every meal, or no school- but

   Though keeping up with all the extremely diverse and numerous characters may be confusing, I really liked all of them. They all had distinct traits and it wasn't difficult to differentiate them by the end of the book. I especially loved Astrid (I think it's my preference for smart characters who are always one step ahead of everyone else; think Hermione Granger) and I found that I could really identify with her, though she's probably ten times smarter! And Sam and Astrid are now on my favorite literary couples list.

   Gone is definitely drive by action and plot. It's refreshing to find because a lot of young adult novels lately have revolved around romance in supernatural situations or dystopian worlds. While it has both supernatural and dystopian elements, the focus isn't on the romance (Thankfully! Sometimes a break from all of that fluffy love is nice). Some parts did seem to drag, mostly because Grant likes his descriptions, but overall, it was fast-paced and a definite page turner.

   I love this world that Grant has created (and the nuclear element is eerily similar to what's happening in Japan right now) and can't wait to dive into Hunger, Lies, and Plague, which is coming out April 5.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would Want as Family Members

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish .
This is my first time participating and I'm excited to keep up with it every week!

1. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter): I really have grown up with Hermione in a way and already feel as if we've always been sisters nearly my entire life. I love her compassionate and understanding character, as well as her intelligence and determination. We have a lot in common - like our love for books- and I definitely look up to her as a role model. We'd have great conversations all night long!

2. Peter Pevensie (Chronicles of Narnia): I've always wanted a protective older brother, and Peter's done a great job demonstrating that he is exactly that with his three younger siblings! Plus, who wouldn't want to be siblings with the High King of Narnia?

3. Lucy Pevensie (Chronicles of Narnia) : I would love Lucy as a little sister. But I've always found her to be an inspiring character in all her innocence and love for others, as well as in her great faith. I think that I'd have more to learn from her in the end.

4. Mrs. Weasley (Harry Potter): If I could just adopt the entire Weasley family, I would. But time and time again Mrs. Weasley has demonstrated how much she truly cares for her children. Let's not forget her duel with Bellatrix  :) Also, I want yearly homemade Christmas sweaters!

5. Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson + The Olympians): A brother with super-cool demigod powers? Yes please. It'd also be good to have his humor and sarcasm around to liven things up.

6. Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice): I adore her relationship with Jane and can see myself constantly turning to her for sisterly advice. I'd also come to her with all my snarky comments about society and love to hear all of her witty replies. She'd be the strong, older sister in the family. Darcy as a brother-in-law would be an added bonus.

7. Jem Carstairs (Clockwork Angel): Jem would be the supportive cousin I'd go to if I needed someone to listen to all my problems. I love how he's quiet but surprisingly funny.

8. Mr. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice): A father who stands up for his daughters! I love how supportive he was of Elizabeth and his genuine concern for her happiness.

9.Sunny Baudelaire (Series of Unfortunate Events): One word: adorable. As long as she stays away from my hair.

10. Peeta Mellark (Hunger Games): Husband much, much later? :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black

White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
By Holly Black
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Date Published: May 4, 2010
Rating: Photobucket

     Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
      Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
      It's been a long time since a book has truly gripped and surprised me at every turn. But White Cat did exactly this; with the exception of its beginning (which was a bit on the slow side), it was far from bland or predictable. Black spins a suspenseful, intriguing tale in a world where con men intermingle with magic, much to the fear and disdain of the general public.

   I was happy that I could connect with Cassel, the narrator/main character. It's rare to find a male narrator in the young adult genre today, and Cassel ends up being a good one. A guy's perspective on things is refreshing in a sea of female voices like those in Twilight, The Hunger Games, The Gemma Doyle trilogy. He was intelligent, sarcastic, and not entirely dependable (which makes sense later on) and I felt like I could really invest in his character. The secondary characters are all great too and all contribute important elements to the story.

   What this book's success really rides on (for me anyway) is its plot, and the innovative world it has been set in. I really like the dark setting she crafted, where everyone wears gloves in order to protect themselves from the bare touch of curse workers, the scourge of society, who have abilities ranging from changing emotion to manipulating luck. Black has this ability to build up the suspense and keep you guessing. I admit that reading this late at night was a bad idea because I found myself terrified and shuddering more than a few times. Who could have seen that ending coming? I sure didn't.

   For me, White Cat was more captivating than Black's earlier Tithe trilogy. It's hard to go in depth about this one or I'd be giving away important plot points, so I won't. But just know that reading White Cat is a lot like riding a roller coaster you've never been on before, where you don't know when or where the track curves or plunges downward. I'm looking forward to Red Glove, the second in the series, which is coming out in a few weeks, lucky me!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Prom and Prejudice 
By Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Date Published: January 1, 2011
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

     After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
     Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?
      Prom and Prejudice is a cute, simplified retelling of-you guessed it- Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Euhlberg does an interesting job of connecting the characters, names, places, events, etc. of the classic to a modern-day setting. Euhlberg takes on a literal interpretation of Austen's story, only, in a world with phones, coffee shops, and Macy's. It was really amusing to see what she would come up with whenever a new character was introduced because they all had the same names as their original counterparts. However, this was really the only thing the book had that kept me going.

     The book reads quite like it was written in a few hours. The dialogue was stilted at times, because Euhlberg tended to switch between modern and Austen era language. Honestly most teens don't speak like they live in the 18th century today, even if they are ridiculously wealthy. I found the characterizations of all the characters to be over exaggerated, so I couldn't sympathize or connect with anyone, not even Liz, the main character and narrator of the story. For me, once a connection with the narrator is lost, it's hard to enjoy the rest of the story. I did like Will Darcy's character a lot more, but I may just be biased (Mr. Darcy being one of my favorites and all). I'll admit that there were some moments where I could not help cringing at the writing style.

     It's a light, breezy read for a boring Saturday. If you're looking for something profound or suspenseful, you won't find it here. Cheesy fun? Yes. But while I found this book to be lacking, the fact that its style seems to cater to a younger audience may be a good thing. In an age where the classics aren't painted as the most "fun" or "exciting", Prom and Prejudice might just encourage those who haven't read its inspiration to look into it. I love the fact that years and years later, the classics are still as relevant as they were back then- and Euhlberg's sophomore effort is a testament to that. But my go-to book on a rainy day, or whenever actually, will happily remain Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

About: An Introduction

About the BLOG
Wallflower Reading will be is a book review blog primarily dedicated to young adult literature with an occasional review on adult fiction. In the future, it'll hopefully expand to include related news, blog memes, fan art and more!

All book summaries are from Goodreads !

About the BLOGGER
My name is Ashley and I'm still a resident of High School. I admit that I'm new to this kind of blogging. I've had a personal Livejournal the past five years in my life, but the only person who sees any of those posts is-well, me. But I have been a lover of books my entire life. It all really began when I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in first grade. I still have the piece of paper scrawled with misspelled words that I wrote on the day I finished that book, expressing my happiness at finally reading "a real book." And it all just grew from there. Growing up, I devoured at least a book or two a day. I couldn't get enough of reading.

And while my love for books and for the insight they give me has not left me, it changed as I was promoted to middle school and then onto high school. As homework and projects and school stress piled up, I found myself reading less and less until all I mostly read was what was required in English class. I still read for fun, but not as often as I wished I could. Today, much of that is still the same. But I never stop beating myself over for it, and "Read More Again" always makes it near the top of my New Year's Resolutions. Every single year.

This blog is a personal project in away. It's a way to encourage me to read more again and to rediscover that hunger I once had for reading. I've always been interested in reading, writing, editing, graphics, the publishing world, etc. A blog seems like a fun way to put all of those things together.

Just like this About will change overtime, I'm planning to keep experimenting and take it all in as a learning experience. Here's to an exciting journey ahead!