Thursday, June 30, 2011

Freedom Giveaway Hop



Welcome to my hop! I'm giving away a gently read ARC of Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have). 



Want to win it? Here's how:
Leave a comment with your email address. You can tell me your favorite summer food if you'd like.

There are two ways to get extra entries:
1. Spread the word. Tweet/facebook/share about the giveaway and leave a separate comment with a direct link to your tweet/post/status/whatever.
2. Follow Read This Instead with Google Friend Connect. Leave a separate comment with your GFC name.

The Rules
Must be 13 to enter. If you are under 18 you must have your parent's permission.
US shipping addresses only
Winner picked by random.org
Giveaway ends Thursday, July 7 at 11:59 pm
If you comment, it means you agree to and are following these rules.

Good luck and Happy 4th weekend!
Want to win more cool reading things? Visit the other stops on the hop! You can see the full list at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ten Things We Did Review

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)
by Sarah Mlynowski

The Short Story 
When April's dad and step-mom decide to move the family to Ohio, April absolutely refuses. She doesn't want to leave behind her life, her friends, or Noah, her boyfriend of over two years. So she and her friend Vi concoct a scheme that convinces their parents the two girls should live together. Without adult supervision. Without the adults knowing that. What follows are ten wild things the two do.


Where I Tell A Story
Reading this book was a lot like trying to buy this dress. It's gorgeous. I liked the colors and the fabric and the idea of a fun, summery dress. And then I tried it on. And the dress's designated boob area didn't line up with my ... uh, yeah. And it made me look like I was pregnant (I'm not) and trying to cover it up (also not). So pretty on the rack. On me, a wreck.

Kind of exactly like Ten Things We Did. I wanted to like it. There are parts that are incredibly funny. There's a beauty contest! And the chapter titles/breaks are witty. But it didn't deliver on what I wanted from a book.     

My Two Big Complaints
First, there just wasn't enough character growth for me. No one really changes much, or enough, for my liking. I didn't get the feeling that April thought most things she did were a bad idea. I don't want a preachy book, but I do want characters to admit mistakes. Many choices were presented as the only thing to do under the circumstances, or even the right thing to do. And I felt like she blamed other people rather than accept responsibility for her decisions. 

And that would be fine (I guess), except for the second thing. It felt like this book was fighting with itself. I wasn't sure if it was just supposed to be a light, fun, summer read, or if it was going for a bit of depth and complexity. There are some serious issues in this book: feeling abandoned, infidelity, sex, body image, drinking, etc. I wish the author had either done more or less with them. The issues that came up could have been good opportunities for some character growth, or introspection, or something, but they never really got developed.

The Big Three
Language: intermittent swearing, including a couple f-words
Sex and Stuff: heavy sexual content. Teens discuss and plan having sex, although nothing physical is described. Descriptions of visits to Victoria's Secret and Planned Parenthood
Violence: not an issue

Want a second opinion? Check out this 5 star review from The Reading Housewives of Indiana.

It didn't work for me, but it might be a good fit for someone else. Which is why I'll be giving away my ARC starting Friday as part of the Freedom Giveaway Hop.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Ally's

Last week I got to hear both Ally Condie and Ally Carter speak. Because living half way between two libraries is a good thing.

Ally Condie & a room of mostly teenagers
First up, Ally Condie. Apparently I can't have a normal story involving Ally Condie. This time I didn't do anything awkward. . . .  except for bring my two year old to her lecture. Which I guess was actually for teens. Once my little guy got bored, I strolled him around in the hallway outside the room. We had to take off when he decided to barrel into the room pretending his stroller was jet propelled.

Yeah.

But before that embarrassing moment, I learned a couple of things about the Matched series. The idea came to her from a few different experiences. One was talking to her husband about marriage and how the government can set the rules for what makes people married. And she wondered what it would be like if they controlled every aspect of marriage: who, when, etc. She said she wasn't making any political statements, but it's an interesting thought just the same.

The other was a prom she was chaperone-ing when she taught high school. At that school they passed around a list of all the junior girls who hadn't been asked so that the senior guys could take them. That way every girl had a date. And I thought: 1. that's very Utah. 2. my adult mind says that was very nice. 3. I'm pretty sure my teen mind would have rather not gone than had someone ask me based on the idea that every girl should have a date, instead of the idea that I was fun. And I think I can see how both feelings are in the book. (poor Xander)

I probably shouldn't
start a photography business.

On to Ally Carter. I haven't read any of her books, but if they are half as funny as she is they are hilarious. I laughed though the whole thing. She did Q & A the entire time, which I thought was a great idea. Since I didn't know anything about the books, my favorite part was her explaining how Sarah Rees Brennan tried to convince her to go on a Mediterranean cruise for "research" purposes. She assumed it would be with Sarah, but it was actually a big blind date set up with Sarah's brother. The cruise ended up falling through, and she didn't find out about the brother until after that, but it's still a funny story.

I love seeing authors talk about their books. And now I have a new author to add to my TBR pile!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Friday Hops

Book Blogger Hop

“When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?”


Reading isn't really my passion, but it became important to me once I had my son. I love staying home with him, but it uses a different part of my brain than school did. I love to analyze and hypothesize and discuss, and reading gives me the chance to do that. I think that's why I like to blog about books, too. I have to (try to) defend why I did or didn't like something. And I love it when there are comments that challenge my ideas.

Thanks for keeping my thoughts sharp! :)




Summer Love: Where is your ideal place to take a 
summer vacation & get lost in a book?

I brought a book when we went to San Francisco and never opened it.  But my favorite vacation places would either be somewhere with my very spread-out extended family, or the beach. I love the sound of the ocean and finding seashells and not being cold!


This week at Read This Instead
Kicking off the 10 (book) Boy Summer
4 stars for The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Next week!
Review & Giveaway of Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)
Awesome Authors (because one awkward Ally Condie story isn't enough)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Read This: The Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trials
by James Dashner

*** Here be Spoilers for The Maze Runner ***
The Short Story 
Thomas and friends have been rescued from the maze and are finally safe. Except, no, they're not! Wicked is still up to no good, and tells the Gladers and a mysterious new guy that they have all been infected with the Flare. This will kill them unless they can make it across the scorch in two weeks, where they'll be given the cure. At least, that's the story Wicked is telling. Action-packed, holy violence! read that is just as good (and just as bad) as the original.
4/5

Come for the...
continuation of the story. After the cliffhanger in The Maze Runner I couldn't read this one fast enough. This time around there was less of a feeling of confusion. You do get some answers, and a whole lot more questions, but it didn't bother me as much in this book. The characters are familiar, the evil government is familiar, and all around I had more of a feel for what type of story this would be.

That's not to say that it's predictable, though. Part of the familiarity was knowing that I wouldn't know what to expect, and I spent much of the last 1/3 of the book in a constant stream of "what? wait, what? seriously?!" I can't wait to see how this all ends up. I'll post my theories sometime closer to The Death Cure's release.
                          
Stay for the
new characters; the part with the noses (you'll know it when you get there); Minho, who is still the funniest person in the series; The Death Cure, out October 11.

Don't think about this too hard
  • Since this is for the 10 book Boy Summer, I especially felt the need to mention gender. The girls in this series are pretty underdeveloped. I thought Theresa's storyline here felt a little forced. Being violent doesn't make for a tough, well-rounded female character. Then there was the inexplicably forward Brenda, but I suspect there may be more to that in the next book.
  • The violence is over the top in some places. I actually had to skip a few paragraphs early on because it was too much for me. If you're sensitive to gore, skip the paragraphs after the part where they find a metal ball. What happens? Exactly what you think happens, in far more detail than you'd want.

The Big Three
Language: more slanguage bad words, but no "real" profanity
Sex and Stuff: some kissing
Violence: for me, it was excessive in parts. The violent parts were very descriptive and gory, past a level that I am comfortable with.

Monday, June 20, 2011

10 (book) Boy Summer

A while back I mentioned a lot of the books I read were really similar, so I decided to do something different with my reading. Of the 50-ish books I've read this year, about 10 of them had male main characters. And even fewer were written by men.

Which got me thinking... maybe it's time I read some "boy" books. So this summer my goal is to read 10 YA books written by men that also have males as the main character.

But!

I need some help. Who are some of your favorite male YA authors? Or just plain male YA authors?

Here's who I've come up with:
James Dashner
Patrick Ness
Scott Westerfeld
Brandon Mull
John Green (even though I swore I'd never read another of his books)
Rick Riordan
Sherman Alexie

That's a start, but I could use some more suggestions. So please leave other YA male authors in the comments. Well, not the actual authors. Just their names. And feel free to play along this summer!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Follow Friday



Q. Genre Wars! What's your favorite genre and which book in that genre made it your favorite?

I have two favorites, dystopian and contemporary. Hunger Games is what reconverted me to reading, so it's my favorite dystopia. (Big surprise there, I know)

And I've always just liked contemporary. Maybe Little House on the Prairie first did it for me? This year some of my favorite contemporary reads were Jellicoe Road, The Sky is Everywhere, Anna and the French Kiss, and Sweethearts.

What's your favorite?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
 
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?


I'm currently reading Spells (the second in the Wings trilogy) by Aprilynne Pike. These books are kind of like the first Twilight. Not in terms of plot, but of the feeling that this shouldn't be a good book, but holy cow, I am really liking it. Although, Laurel is currently winning the crappy girlfriend award. If you want to be with one guy, it's probably best not to go on date-like events with a different one who also likes you. Just sayin.




 
I recently finished The Way He Lived by Emily Wing Smith. Before the book starts, Joel dies of dehydration on a Boy Scout trip. (This premise didn't sit well with me, mostly because my husband works with the teenage scouts in our church.) But the books isn't really about Joel's death. Told from the perspectives of six different people who knew him, the story's more about why he died than how.
It was blurbed by Sara Zarr, so I had high expectations. But it fell flat for me. Also the cover is kind of weird.




Up next I have a few options. Cast your vote in the comments!

The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum.
All summaries from Goodreads.com
The future is uncertain. The battle to control the past has begun. The final book in the riveting Hourglass Door trilogy begins when Abby steps through the black door, and she doesn't dare look back. Though it means leaving Dante—wounded, bleeding, and possibly blind—she knows it is the only way to save her family and stop Zo from manipulating the river of time and throwing the future into chaos.





The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives. 




Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Distracting Details/A Mixed Review of Wither

Wither 
by Lauren Destefano

The Short Story
In the evil!future, a disease wipes out women at age 20 and men at 25. Rhine is 16 and spends her time trying to avoid kidnappers who sell teen girls. But she gets caught with a dozen-ish others and is taken to some creepsters for purchase. The options are either to be sold as a polygamous bride, prostitution, or being shot. She ends up with the first option with two others, no one gets the second, and the rest get shot.

The Distracting Details
Here's my problem with Wither. Women die at 20, men at 25, right? So there are more men than women. I get that women could become commodities in that situation. Low supply, high demand and all. I also get that prostitution would exist, although forced prostitution makes less sense. But why polygamy, which is one man and more than one woman? There are more men than women. So, not enough women to go around. If the goal were just to make more (genetically diverse) people, couldn't they just let people sort of naturally pair up, as people are wont to do? There's really no reason for polygamy in this story.

Wouldn't polyandry (one woman, more than one man) make more sense? I know that doesn't get you more people in the way that polygamy would. But if the goal were more people, why did the extra kidnapped girls get shot? Those kidnappers apparently weren't the best business men. Also, why would the overabundance of guys whose sisters/friends are being kidnapped, or were just girl-less themselves, not band together and do something about this?

So. . .
This was all I could think about for the first 50 pages of Wither. Anyone who's finished the book knows that those details don't really factor much in the rest of the story. It's just a way to get the main girl into a polygamous marriage, and make the bad guys seem especially bad. But I couldn't get over it. Maybe this will all be explained in the rest of the series, or maybe it will be one of those "vampires want blood all the time unless it's a certain type of 'dead blood'" kinda deal. 

Sometimes I think my disbelief is pretty heavy. Have you ever read a book where a small detail/plot point offended your sense of, well, sense?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vacation Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to everyone who entered the vacation giveaway because you all guessed right! We were in San Francisco. 

And an extra congrats to KW for winning the $10 giftcard to Amazon.com!

Thanks to random.org for picking the winner. And now, an obligatory vacation picture. Rusty and me in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blog Hop, TGIF and Week in Review

Book Blogger Hop


“Who is the ONE author that you are DYING to meet?


Ok, I confess I'm not really dying to meet any authors because I'm actually fairly shy in real life and am easily star struck. Instead I'll tell the story of meeting Ally Condie. Back in March I went to Costco to pick up some pizza for the family, and I noticed a table with several copies of Matched and a tiny, dark-haired lady. (Seriously, she is tiny.) There were only a couple people there getting books signed, so I stood behind them with my plates of greasy pizza.

Then they left and it was just me and Ally. So I said the first (stupid) thing that came to mind, which was, "I'm not going to buy your book." awkward pause. "But I really liked it!"  I think there may have been a lot of enthusiastic nodding.

Thankfully she was very nice and we talked for a couple of minutes about her book, how clean it is, and how my husband thought Ky was better, but I was all for Xander. Then I left, and she was at her table all by herself. Which makes me think that Costco is the place to meet authors if you actually want to talk to them.



This Friday's Question:

YA Saves: How do you feel about the "dark" books 
filling the YA shelves today?

First, if you haven't heard, the Wall Street Journal published an article about YA books being full of "explicit abuse, violence and depravity." My thoughts?

Are some young adult books too dark for some readers? Uh, yeah. Obviously. It's hard to say no to a question with that many qualifiers. Some YA books have content that I'd rather not read, and I'm 28, married, and a parent. Even more have content that I think would be too much for my 14 year old nephew. (I thought this about Mockingjay, then came to find out he had already read and liked it). But I don't think that's reason enough to dismiss a whole genre.

So I have to wonder, who is this article complaining to? Parents? Educators? Authors? Teens? It seems like the target is people who want to get up in arms over something without thinking it out completely. (I can't say I've never belonged to that group, just that I don't on this issue). I remember what I had to read in high school: Shakespeare, One Flew Over the Coo Coo's Nest (at 15 people! No wonder I hated reading in high school), the Bible, Hemingway . . . you get the idea. There's plenty of violence, abuse, and depravity there.

I know YA is more problematic because it has young people doing the killing, abusing, boozing, etc. And no adult wants to think that the teens they care about are involved in those things (regardless of what they/their peers did in their teen years). But I think the better idea is to help adults know how to talk to their teens about difficult issues, not complain that there are books about them. If you can't openly talk to your kids about hard things, you have much bigger problems than them reading The Hunger Games.


This week on Read This Instead

My review of The Hunger Games Audiobook
The Irresistibly Sweet blog award
Vacation Giveaway (today is the last day to enter!)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Listen to This: The Hunger Games Audiobook

The Hunger Games audiobook
by Suzanne Collins
read by Carolyn McCormick

The Short Story-ish
Last January my husband asked if I'd be interested in listening to some story about a bunch of starving kids who had to fight to the death, with the winner being rewarded with food. My response was no. Followed by "why would I want to hear a story about that?" Lucky for me, he got the CD's from the library anyway and I got a new thing to fangirl over. Since it's audiobook week, and I just listened to this again, it's time to review.

Come for the...
story come to life. I love The Hunger Games series, so having another way to enjoy it is a good thing. (Heck, I've even read them in Spanish;. Los Juegos del Hambre, En Llamas, which has nothing to do with the animals, and Sinsajo, if you're interested). Listening to someone act out the banter between Katniss and Peeta, or drunken, surly Haymitch just adds something for me.

But that would be true with any audiobook. The reason I think this one is so good is because of the voices. The narrator sounds like (and probably is) a middle-aged woman. The older voice works for Katniss in the same way that it works for Lisa Simpson. It makes her sound older than her years, which fits the character really well. Also, the voices for Effie, the prep team, and Haymitch are perfect. Woody Harrelson should play Haymitch exactly like he is in the audiobook.
                         
Stay for the
creepy music that plays at the beginning of the first and end of the last CD, but thankfully nowhere else.

The Drawbacks

  • Ok, a middle-aged woman is not the best at doing voices for young men. Gale, Peeta, and Finnick (oh, Finnick) all sound basically the same.
  • As is the case with all audiobooks, the narrator reads far more slowly than you would if you were reading to yourself. But, that comes in pretty handy when you're road tripping to (undisclosed location) and have a lot of time to kill in Nevada.


Have you ever tried the audio version for a book you've liked?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

For Me? Really?


1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Andrea at Andrea's For The Reading gave me the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. Thanks Andrea! Her blog is great, by the way. She totally rocks the easy to read review. Her latest is on Sara Zarr's How to Save A Life.  

So, seven facts about me. 

1. Red is my favorite color.
2. I'm not much of a cook, but I love to bake.  Anything chocolate, or sweet, or unhealthy, or delicious.
3. I love being a mom. It's hard and some days are craptastic, but overall it's the one thing I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. Which is good, since I sort of will.
4. I had over 50 roommates in my six years of college. A bunch got married, or graduated, or went on missions. And I moved a lot.
5. I was in school for six years because I got a Master's (Educational Leadership). I know I currently have the written vocabulary of a seventh grader, but I could actually add abbreviations after my name and not be lying.
6.  I'm on twitter, @kathyreadsthis The 140 character limit is good for me.
7. I just got back from a vacation to (undisclosed location) so my husband could look into a grad school. I love living in Utah, but I could actually see my little family living in this new city . (scary! I've moved much less since being married). 


And now, for the lovely bloggers I am passing this on to. Even though it says to pick 15 I'm going with 5. I know awards can be a mixed blessing, hence the limited number. But you guys know I love you all, right? 

First, Jenni Elyse from jennielyse.com Her post on the WSJ article about YA books being too dark is one of my favorite things she's written.  

Next, Rachel from i heart . . . Rachel was one of my 50 roommates, and her blog is full of happy things. Also, she has amazing fashion sense. 

And, Ashley from Book Labyrinth She reviews such a wide variety of YA books. I love hearing about something new and different.

Fourth, Jessi from Reading in the Corner Her blog is so pretty! Also she updates on Hunger Games movie casting, which I can never hear too much about.

Last, Victoria from Birdy Books Her blog is also way pretty. She does great reviews of some of the newest books.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vacation Giveaway

Have you guys missed me? Just kidding! But while I'm having fun on vacation I want to share the love. So I am giving away $10 to Amazon.

Want it? Here's how to enter
Read the following clues and leave a comment with your guess on where I'm at. Also your email.

These are your clues:

1 the show Full House









2 Rice a roni








3 Lola and the Boy Next Door


Giveaway ends next Friday (June 10) at 11:59 pm (MDT). Must be 13 to enter. US only
Go!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Read This: Paranormalcy

Paranormalcy
by Kiersten White

The Short Story 
Evie is a normal girl with the ability to see paranormal creatures. After being abandoned as a small child, she finds a home (and a job) with the International Paranormal Containment Agency. She hunts vampires and werewolves by day and dreams of going to high school and having a locker by night. When a mysterious shape-shifting boy makes his way into her life, Evie begins to wonder about the IPCA, her place in the paranormal world, and if normal will ever be an option.
5/5

Come for the...
paranormal story done well. I know paranormal romances have started to overstay their welcome as a genre, but Paranormalcy is different. It worked for me because it didn't take itself too seriously. The book doesn't try to make you honestly believe that werewolves or vampires secretly exist in the regular world. Evie lives in a different one, and it was a nice, funny switch to see her wishing for "normal" life.

I enjoyed the characters and how easy it was to relate to them. Evie struggles with loneliness, feeling like she belongs, and wanting a date. Pretty standard teenage stuff.  Pretty standard people stuff. I also appreciated that Evie could kick butt when she needed to, but didn't fall into the "I don't need nobody" stereotype that many butt-kicking female characters fall victim to. And, she's hilarious.
                         
Stay for the
chapter titles; Evie's fashion sense; her weapon of choice, Tasey; the sequel, Supernaturally, out July 26.

Don't think about this too hard
  • It's hard to come up with anything I disliked. In some ways the book is pretty light on external conflict, but I suspect that's what the sequels are for.

The Big Three
Language: cleverly handled so as not to be an issue
Sex and Stuff: some kissing
Violence: for a book with a fair amount of death it's not very violent