Wednesday, 29 February 2012

RTW: Best Book of February






Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.





This Week’s Topic

What was the best book you read in February?

Despite being the shortest month I read more books than usual in February, 8 in fact. While many of them were good, even excellent, the hands down winner was 

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley




I have been waiting over a year for this book, after reading some amazing reviews and, oh it was so worth the wait! It is amazing, and beautiful, and just perfect! 


I am in deep, deep love with this book. It may even be rivaling Saving Francesca as my favourite YA ever. I am exhausted today because I stayed up very, very late finishing it, but I couldn't stop. I had to know what happened to Ed, Lucy, Leo, Jass, Daisy, Dylan, Shadow and Poet. Plus (and I do this very very rarely) I am re-reading already. It is just that good and I'm not ready to leave the world yet.


Run, RUN!, to your nearest bookshop to get your hands on this.


Full review to come soon, when I am more coherent.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Guest Post: Mary Pauline Lowry


I am delighted to be hosting Mary Pauline Lowry on the blog today. I’m really looking forward to reading her book, The Earthquake Machine, it sounds fabulous. Thanks for stopping by Mary!


THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE:
Traveling Through Mexico


I’m so excited to be featured on NOT ENOUGH BOOKSHELVES. Since our fab blog host ALEXA spent time living in MEXICO CITY, I want to write a little bit about why most of my novel THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is set in Mexico.


As a little girl, I often traveled with my family to Cuernavaca, Mexico. The foods, smells, language and culture were so different from anything I’d experienced before. Going there was like entering a fantastical otherworld. 


When I was 15 years old, I ran away from home and traveled all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. That was such an exhilarating, scary experience. And I always wondered what it would have been like to travel deeper into the country’s interior. 


So when I was 21 or so I traveled from my hometown of Austin to Oaxaca on a bus. That was a fantastic adventure and I wanted other people to be able to experience it vicariously through fiction. So I wrote THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE.


The novel’s protagonist RHONDA runs away while on a river rafting trip in Big Bend National Park. She swims across the RIO GRANDE RIVER to MEXICO. Once there she cuts her hair and dies it black so she can pass as a Mexican boy named ANGEL and travel alone to the state of Oaxaca to find her family’s yardman. 


RHONDA/ANGEL senses as soon as she crosses the border that MEXICO, and the Mexican people, language and culture, are all incredibly different than what she knows. But she’s lived in such a bland, stifling American neighborhood that she’s eager to drink in the culture that’s as rich as Oaxacan hot chocolate. She travels across the desert on a burro, walks through a jungle at night, and goes on the run from a band of Mexican boys who are angry she’s discovered their secret; and it’s by being in a strange and magical country that she learns about her true self. 


THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE is an adventure story about the amazing and enchanted things that are possible for a girl who takes risks. 


Book synopsis:




The Earthquake Machine






The book every girl should read, 
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.


The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.


Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.


Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone




I closed 2011 with this book and it was the perfect way to end the year because books don't get much better than this.


 Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an utterly gorgeous read that immediately drew me into it's world and left me absolutely desperate for book two. 


The writing is beautiful. I wanted to pull the words free of the page and wrap them around me. It felt like every sentence was something I wanted to remember, or read out loud, because they were just that lovely. Laini Taylor's writing is superb, not only is it gorgeous, my goodness does she have you flipping the pages like crazy to find out what happens next.


We start with Karou, a young art student in Prague, who has blue hair, knows an amazing amount of languages, can kick some serious ass in a fight, and whose family consists are three demons who barter teeth for wishes, and who send her on errands around the world, through magical doorways.


 Karou is one of my favourite heroines. A girl I'd like to be (she can pull off blue hair!), but also the girl I'd like to be friends with, she was continually making me laugh. Her many gifts and abilities are balanced out by her longing to know who she really is. I loved her from the first page, and I was utterly enchanted by her story.


The world building is fabulous, I can totally believe that they're doorways somewhere in the world that open into other places, if they're opened from the inside rather than the outside. I loved that wishes have different levels. From the tiny wishes Karou is allowed (and which she uses to get revenge on an ex in a rather fabulous and very funny opening scene) to the huge wishes that grant amazing powers. The magic of wishes is always balanced out though, by the whisper, that turns into a scream as the book progresses, that magic must be paid for.


The first half of this book is incredible. One of the most wonderful reading experiences I have had. I loved the setting (I need to go to Prague). I loved the characters, grouchy Brimstone, the wishmonger and Karou's father figure, Issa guardian of the threshold and half snake, and Zuzana, Karou's human friend who is oblivious to her other life.  I loved how the threat to the magically world was balanced and contrasted by everyday concerns in the our world.


About half way I did have a moment of panic, because I suddenly saw where the plot was heading and it was not in a direction I cared for. I should have trusted Laini Taylor though because I ended up really enjoying the second half of the book. It wasn't quite the love affair I had with the first half, but the ending, which is the best kind of cliffhanger, more than made up for it.


I highly recommend this one, gorgeous writing, brilliant characters and a wonderful original world. In fact I'd be willing to trade teeth for Book 2 Days of Blood and Starlight.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Book Love

My Valentine's Day books of choice,




My One True Love 






Well that would have to be Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. However blown away I am by her new books (The Piper's Son, Froi of the Exiles!) this one remains my all time favourite. 


To me, 
it is, 
perfect.


Plus Will Trombal!




My Funny Valentine








Just seeing The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty on my bookcase makes me smile.


My New Crush






Oh I want to read it again already, and stay up late thinking about it, and know all it's secrets. I'm pretty much head over heels for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


 Who Needs Valentines when you have Sylvia Plath?






It may have a heart on it's cover, but And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky is more about soul searching than two souls meeting - still love it though.




Happy Valentine's Day dear blog readers, whose your book Valentine?

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Book Wishes

A few books that I want to add to my overflowing bookshelves this February!




The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily. M. Danforth




This reminds me a little of The Sky Always Hears Me and the Hills Don't Mind. I have very high hopes. Plus I love the title and the cover is gorgeous


The Fine Art of Truth and Dare by Melissa Jensen.

This sounds adorable and is billed as Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss - I do hope so! Also loving the cover of this, for some reason I always love covers that show feet rather than faces. You can tell a lot about someone from their footwear!


And

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

FINALLY! I have had this pre-ordered since June last year. I can not wait. I fell in love with A Little Wanting Song and I have only read rave reviews for this one, so I can't wait to be charmed by Lucy, Ed and Shadow. Severe cover love for this one too, it is epically pretty.

What books are you buying to light up the dark days of February?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Long and Rambling Post


I can't believe it's February already (edit - I actually started this post of Feb 1st, but blogger is being highly annoying*). I hope you've all had a good start to the year, and are keeping your resolutions! I am doing really well, for the first time ever! Thanks to my The Happiness Project resolution check list. There is something so satisfying about putting a star on a star chart, and as Gretchen says we manage what we measure.

As you might be able to tell blogging was not on my resolution list. It just seemed weird to have to make myself do something I do for fun, but it is getting squeezed out, so maybe I'll add it to my March resolutions. I need to blog more because I've read so many great books already this year. The two I must want to write (gush) about are;

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This deserves all the accolades it has received. It's mesmerizing and utterly gorgeous.

and

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta. An absolute tour de force. It's truly amazing and it flies by despite being a weighty 592 pages long. It's out in the US March 13th, but you can buy it from FishPondWorld. Meaning you get the lovely Australian cover too. Although I was gobsmacked to discover that Melina Marchetta does not have a UK publisher. WHAT THE HECK! I feel like I should start a campaign or something.

As well as reading, a lot,  I've been;

Writing (slowly).

Watching TV, Sherlock, Series 2 = outstanding! and I've finally started watching The Vampire Diaries, which is exactly my kind of thing, but I can only watch it when my husband is out as he took one look at the cover and said an emphatic no.

Watching films Super 8. I so see why it was on so many end of year lists, and The Artist, best picture at the Oscars I think, not that I've seen the other films, but it's so good.

Cutting off my hair. I like it, but my neck keeps getting cold. It's so cold in England at the moment.

Exercising

Baking

Playing on Pinterest - it's addictive. If you want to follow me, I'm here

I'm also planning on doing more on Tumblr, like favourite quotes and things I like, which seem a bit short for a blog post. If you're on it, let me know so I can follow you. I'm Of Starry Skies

So more regular post in february I hope!



* is anyone else having huge problems with blogger signing them out all the time? It got so bad I went to have a look at wordpress, but someone already has the Not Enough Bookshelves address :( Still I might have to leave if it keeps eating my posts, and not letting me upload pictures - sorry about the very wordy picture-less post.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Raven Boys


I'm back, form the blogging wilderness, to go completely crazy over Maggie Stiefvater's announcement of her new novel The Raven Boys. The first in the four part Raven Cycle.







The Cover!

The Title!

The Concept!

Then I read this quote on GalleyCat

“I grew up on a diet of exceptional fantasy series for children— The Dark Is Rising, The Black Cauldron, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia — and I’ve always wanted to write one of those sprawling epic sagas built from intimate moments."

And I was completely sold. I Can. Not. Wait.

Roll on September!