Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Reading Challenges

One of my resolutions for next year is to read more, and with the amount of fun reading challenges available out there I'm sure that's not going to be a problem. I've already signed up for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge which is being hosted by the Story Siren, which requires me to read 12 ya or mg books by debut authors (even though I want to read 20).

Here are two more challenges I'm signing up for next year in order to lower the amount of books on my TBR list (if that's even possible):

For this challenge I'm going to be venturous and challenge myself to the Mega size challenge which requires me to read 50+ YA novels. Since I read over 40 books this year I think I'll be able to get myself to 50 (hopefully). I won't list all 50 here, mainly because that's a big list, but since I've got over 200 on my TBR list I'm sure I'll find something to read.

And, the other challenge I'm signing up for is the Aussie YA reading challenge which, since I'm Australian, requires me to read 12 Aussie novels. Believe it or not I've never been a big fan of Aussie novels, mainly because they were mandatory at school and back then I never thought they were interesting, but now, especially after discovering that John Marsden has created a fantastic story, I think I need to discover what other Aussie talent has produced. Here's the story's I'm going to attempt to read:
  1. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  4. Liar by Justine Larbalestier
  5. The Dead of Night by John Marsden
  6. A Killing Frost by John Marsden
  7. Darkness, Be My Friend by John Marsden
  8. The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock
  9. A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson
  10. Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
  11. Hollywood Ending/John Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles
  12. The Named by Marianne Curley
 It looks like I've got my hands full with all the books I'm planning to read in the coming year.

So, in 2011 are you aiming to read a specific number of books? What books are you eagerly anticipating or aiming to get around to in the coming year?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of 2010 survey

The year is running out and soon 2011 will be here, so I thought it would be fun to participate in an End of 2010 Survey that Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Tuner came up with. This survey is all about our reading experience throughout 2010.

1. Best book of 2010? Out of so many good books I read throughout the year I would have to say
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins were my favourites. Both were beautifully written with unique storylines.

2. Worst book of 2010? I don't realy like using 'worst', but my least favourable was Another Faust by Daniel Nayeri. The characters were too selfish and flat for me to really connect with.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010? I would have to say The Karma Club by Jessica Brody. I was eagerly awaiting this book because I thought the premise sounded interesting, but I could not connect with the character and the storyline dragged out a bit too much.

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell. I love superheroes and to find a unique story from the eyes of a half-villain, half-hero was interesting.

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

6. Best series you discovered in 2010? The The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and the The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden.

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Suzanne Collins, Rachel Hawkins and Kiersten White.

8. Most hilarious read of 2010? Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt.

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  It's a toss up between The Hunger Games, Paranormalcy and Hex Hall.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. I'd heard so much about the story and couldn't wait until it was released, and I wasn't let down.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?

12. Most memorable character in 2010? Katniss Everdeen from the The Hunger Games. Such a strong character who will do whatever it takes to survive and keep her younger sister safe. A fantastic heroine.

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. A book that's able to take a dark and dangerous world and bring such life to it, fantastic writing.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Tomorrow, When the War Began (The Tomorrow Series, #1) by John Marsden. I finally got around to reading this book (and that's before the movie came out) because I had to teach it to my year 10 class for my teaching prac. I really had to delve deep in the plot and characters and learnt a lot about this book and why Marsden decided to write it.

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read? Tomorrow, When the War Began (The Tomorrow Series, #1) by John Marsden. I remember when my friends were assigned this book to read for English class. Since it was a prescribed text I never even considered reading it, and now I wonder why. Kids with guns trying to escape from a war that's started up in their backyard, how can you go wrong with that?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Xmas to Everyone

Just stopping by to say Merry Christmas and hope everyone has a fantastic holiday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Xmas Christmas Wishlist

With just under a week till Christmas, and finishing all the Christmas shopping, I have been super busy. Christmas always seems to be a busy time of year, shopping for friends and family, figuring out what to buy for Christmas dinner (especially if you're working most of the day), and cleaning up the house in that last minute rush before the day gets here.

And then there's the last minute reading to get some way overdue books out of the way before my to-be read list grows exponentially with all of next year's releases.

The one thing I've had trouble with this year was thinking of what I would like for Christmas. Yes, my family is scared to buy for me because they have trouble keeping up with me when there's a book I want or movie I need, so they asked me for a list this year. After I did a list, I realised that I could only give it to my sister because I put all the books I wanted on it, so my brother still pestered me about a present.

Here's the list I ended up with:

My brother still said he didn't know what to get me (and I didn't know which one my sister was going to get me), so when we were shopping for the remaining Christmas items, I found a book... which actually wasn't on my list because I didn't think it was getting published until next year and he got it for me (which he told me that I have to forget he got it)... now I've got to wait until Christmas to unwrap it... yes, he wrapped it and placed it under the tree.

So, what is on your wishlist for Christmas? And, do your family and friends have the same problem with buying presents (that they have no idea what you've got/read/want?)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Do You Judge a Book by its Cover?

I'll have to admit I do. I don't know where that old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" came from, but when it comes to picking what I want to read it is totally wrong.

For me, before I decide to read a book (unless it's from an author I've read and loved, or a novel I've heard positive reviews about) I first have to be captivated by the book cover. If the cover art doesn't draw me in then the chances of me reading the book is pretty much zilch.

What are some things covers should do?

  • Covers should tell something about the genre

  • Covers should hint toward the story
  • Covers should give some visual aspect of the characters or setting
  • Covers should capture the imagination
  • Sometimes simplicity works

But, this can also be a trap to get readers to read the stories. Just because you like the cover doesn't mean you will like the story inside, but that's to do with each personal opinion.

So, do you judge a book by its cover? And, what do you look for in covers, or what books are you looking forward to reading just because it has an interesting cover?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: The Replacement

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Synopsis (From Goodreads): Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Mackie Doyle knows that he's different. He's allergic to iron and blood and can't set foot on consecrated ground. Living in a world that's killing him, he's got to pretend to be just like everyone else. In his world, the people accept that bad things happen like babies dying in their crib. When one girl, Tate, refuses to believe that her sister actually died in her crib, but something else that had replaced her, Mackie is drawn into the underworld known as Mayhem. Here he learns the truth of who he is and what becomes of the ones that are taken and he must decide whether he will help to get Tate back or accept the way things are.

Brenna Yovanoff has managed to create a dark and miserable world that is beautifully written. Right from the start Mackie's voice is clear and strong. I felt sorry for him as he struggled in the human world, knowing that he was dying and fearing that there would never be a cure for him. All the characters have been well-developed and it was great to see such a wide variety, all with their own personalities.

The tone of the novel is what really drew me in. The writing has an eerily poetic feel to it as Yovanoff describes such a gloomy and dark town with an elegance that brings all the scenes alive. This story definitely kept me want to turn the page.

Cover: This is an eerie cover. Even though it's dark and gloomy there is a strong elegance about it with Mackie standing right in the centre of the dark coloured background. I did like the cover that Australia received, but I would still prefer the US cover with the crib and all the dangerous objects hanging above it. Both covers gives a great sense of the tone that the story has.

Plot: 5/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 stars
Cover: 5/5 stars
Overall: 5/5 stars
Recommend: Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy

Monday, December 6, 2010

When dialogue is too real

I was watching a movie the other day and it took me a while to realise why the dialogue was a tad bit irritating. Yes, it was natural and believable, but that was the problem. It was too real.

When reading a book or watching a movie I don't care what the characters are planning to have for breakfast or what they did the night before unless it relates directly to the story. I know these are the kind of conversations everyone has, but for a reader/viewer to invest their time in the story there has to be a purpose for every little piece of dialogue or action. We assume that the characters are pondering these in the background, so it isn't necessary to include them in the story.

So, before writing that wonderfully realistic dialogue ask yourself if it will help progress the story.

How do you know whether the conversations in your story is necessary? Do you like dialogue that is overly realistic or just important?

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