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Book Review: Uglies

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Title: Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfield
Pages: 425
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Buy it: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
The fact that I'm reading Uglies here at the end of 2011 makes me wonder why I haven't discovered this book earlier. I polished Uglies off in one night, staying up till 2am reading it.

I loved the idea of everybody turning into Pretties and getting major cosmetic surgery when they're sixteen. There's a huge twist to the operation that turns you pretty that's revealed near the end, and now that I think of it, it's pretty clever.

Although I loved Uglies' plot, I must admit, I wasn't a huge fan of the characters. I really liked Shay and later, David and his parents. But Tally, the one I should've fallen for since she's the narrator, was a bit of a letdown and I found that I liked her a lot more in the beginning than in the end. I couldn't agree with her mindset, and even though that was kind of the whole point of the plot, I didn't approve of it. Also, her friend that turned pretty, Peris, I never really liked him either.

The only other thing that I really loved (other than the plot) about Uglies were the hoverboards. They're like skateboards on air and I found them really cool. I'd give a lot to have a go on one of those, that's for sure.

All in all, I loved the premise, didn't love the voice, but thought it's worth reading if you have the chance. The ending definitely left a lot to be desired but I don't know if I'll be sticking with Tally through another book.

My rating: Borrow, Unless You Have the Money

Best of 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Today marks the finale of our Best of 2011 series. Today, we are visiting the Best of 2011 in their respective genres!

Contemporary
  1. The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
  2. Hushed by Kelley York
  3. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Also read: Hikari's review)

Dystopian
  1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  3. XVI by Julia Karr

Fantasy
  1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  2. The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
  3. Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
  4. * We expect Inheritance to make this list, but neither of us have read it yet.

Paranormal/ Urban Fantasy
  1. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  2. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
  3. Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  4. * This was a long, hard battle. This has been a great year for the paranormal/urban fantasy genre. We expect Clockwork Prince to make this list, but neither of us have read it yet.

What were your favorite books of 2011?

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer



Cinder

(Lunar Chronicles #1)
by Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA Sci-Fi Fantasy
Hardback: 387 Pages
Publication: January 3, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends




Synopsis

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.


Review
◆ A copy was provided by Macmillan for review ◆

This is the best story with a fairy-tale touch that I've ever read. I love books with action and mystery, and Cinder has it all. The poor, mistreated girl. The threat of intergalactic war. The hot prince. And a Lunar princess, killed by her aunt in a power struggle.

Cinder is a resourceful girl. People who know what she is--a cyborg--detest her, believing her to be less than human. Cinder's stepmother never wanted the orphan cyborg that her husband picked up, and she uses Cinder to bring in the income and take care of menial chores around the house. Even so, Cinder never stops believing that there's a way out, and her strength of heart is inspiring. I also love her faithful android Iko, who has to be one of my most favorite side characters ever with its quirky, lovable personality. I even grew to love Prince Kai and enjoyed reading the scenes told from his perspective. Looking at the world through his eyes was eye opening and gives insight into the fragile relationship between humans and Lunars.

The phenomenal world building is just another reason why I love this story, especially with how the story takes place in New Beijing. How cool is it that this is not only a story about a cyborg Cinderella but that it takes place in Asia? I appreciate how Meyer takes the time to paint a picture of the world. I could easily envision the setting with its mixture of a remembrance of older times and futuristic innovations.

Prince Kai's arrival into Cinder's life and her stepsister's illness mark the turning point in Cinder's life. She finds herself reluctantly drawn to the prince even as secrets come to light and she learns more about her identity. When new revelations come to her, Cinder must decide what means more to her. Freedom or love. Marissa Meyer has crafted a world that has suffered greatly at its own hands and which now faces the greater threat of a powerful Lunar queen. As the plot progresses, the stakes keep climbing, as the secrets keep unfurling. I loved every moment of this book and highly anticipate the release of the sequel!

Also check out my interview with author Marissa Meyer on Cinder!


Series
  1. Cinder
  2. Scarlet
  3. Cress
  4. Winter
Similar Books
Content
  • Kissing
  • Weapons

Follow Friday 77: New Year Resolutions


Q: The New Year is here — and everyone wants to know your New Years Blogging Resolution! What are you going to try to revise, revamp and redo for 2012 on your blog?

We actually have a surprise in store for you! Over the past months, Imaginary Reads has grown so much. It's hard to believe that I'm entering my ninth month of book blogging, that Imaginary Reads is where it is. These past days, we've been working on the design, and we've figured out a way to bring back the old template and keep the readability. Still haven't figured out why post titles aren't showing (if anyone has advice, it would be much appreciated).

On the actual blogging side, we're introducing two new features at Imaginary Reads, one of which, Treasured Reads, was launched on Tuesday. Today is the debut of Imagine This. I've caught up on my pile of Fall books to review and plan on hosting more book events.

Edit: Redesign is now up!

Imagine This: Fighting Dystopian Governments

"Imagine This" is a weekly feature that features a question that asks readers to explore a book and come up with an outcome, using the power of imagination.

Austin, me, will be coming up with a question to post on Fridays.

This week's question:

If you were to fight against a dystopian government, which dystopian (book) world would you choose to fight for and why?


Kris's Answer:
I would fight with Lena against the government of Delirium. Without love and other strong emotions, the world would be a sad place. One that must be changed.


Hikari's Answer:
I would fight against XVI's government. Sex trafficking and rape legal at sixteen? That's something I'd fight against. It shouldn't be tolerated in any world.

Happy New Year 2012 Giveaway

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Thank you for stopping by our blog. In celebration of the New Year, we'll be giving away some old favorites in preparation for the new. There will be three winners. Two international, and one US/Canada winner. When you enter the giveaway, in one of your entries leave the title of the book that you want to win along with your username for that follow.


(click book cover to see Goodreads synopsis)

INTERNATIONAL
  

US/CANDA
   

In anticipation of the release of HALLOWED, one international winner will receive an e-copy of UNEARTHLY. Another winner will receive a copy of a fun, light-hearted read with which to start the New Year: TEN THINGS WE DID (and probability shouldn't have). One US/CAN winner will receive one of these awesome ARCs from 2011!

Entries for following us. We would also love for a comment telling us what book(s) you're looking forward to this coming year.


DO NOT LEAVE YOUR EMAIL IN THE COMMENTS SECTION, OR YOUR ENTRY WILL BE REMOVED.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Click here to check out the full list of blogs participating in this giveaway hop!

Best Couples of 2011


Today we're visiting the Best Couples of 2011! These are the characters who, when together, make us squeal with their cuteness!!!

  1. Anna and CasAnna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  2. Archer and EvanHushed by Kelley York
  3. Beka and FarmerMastiff by Tamora Pierce
  4. Clara and TuckerUnearthly by Cynthia Hand
  5. Ellie and WillAngelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
  6. Emma and Brendan - Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
  7. Lena and AlexDelirium by Lauren Oliver
  8. Lola and CricketLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanine Perkins
  9. Megan and Adam - Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (Also read Hikari's review)
  10. Meghan and Ash - The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
  11. Nina and Sal - XVI by Julia Karr
  12. Tris and FourDivergent by Veronica Roth

What were your favorite couples of 2011?

Review: Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

4 Stars: A Great Read
Series: Touch #1
Hardback: 252 Pages
Publication: December 23, 2008 by Disney-Hyperion

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...

Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help--but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.

From the best-selling author of Blue is for Nightmares comes a story of paranormal romance that's sure to be a thrilling and chilling teen favorite

Deadly Little Secret is a mystery novel with a paranormal element to it. First, Camelia is saved by a new guy, but when she finds him again, Ben denies that he's met her before. Next, Camelia finds that she has a stalker. When Ben tries to warn her that she's in danger, it's no wonder that Camelia finds it hard to trust him, especially when he's keeping secrets.

I liked Ben, despite his strange behavior, and didn't want him to be the stalker. Unfortunately, everyone else blamed him because of the rumors circulating around that he killed his ex-girlfriend. His antisocial behavior didn't win him any fans either. Only Camelia expresses interest in him, and then her stalker makes a move. I was as wary as Camelia of everything around her and just as fearful the times that she finds herself alone. I even began suspecting Ben a little.

As if there weren't enough suspense, several chapters are told from the stalker's perspective. With each one, the stalker becomes more and more insistent that Camelia is out to drive him crazy. Worst of all, there were easily five guys who could have fit into the stalker's role, as the stalker never narrates anything that could give his identity away or rule out a suspect.

I've read some past reviews. Quite a few compare this book to Twilight--and not in a good way. This has happened quite a bit and not only against Twilight. Perfectly good books in their own right are torn to pieces just because of a couple similarities to some other previously published book. With so many books out there, many are guaranteed to have similarities to each other. What matters is how the story is told and if it's good. And Deadly Little Secrets is a brilliant novel. Honestly, I don't see what's to compare to Twilight other than the fact that the girl is attracted to a hot guy who wants to avoid people.

I recommend this for paranormal fans who want to reach something a little different from the norm and to fans of The Body Finder series who haven't read this book already.

Add/Buy

A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Best Views of 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today we're visiting the Best Views (Settings) of 2011! These are the places we'd love to go to sometime!

  1. Alagaësia - Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
  2. FaeryThe Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
  3. Fifteen Realms - Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
  4. IrelandCarrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (Also read Hikari's review)
  5. London (historical London!) - Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
  6. Outer Space - Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  7. Paris - Die for Me by Amy Plum 
  8. The Past - Passion by Lauren Kate
  9. Searcher's lairWolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
  10. Wyoming - Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

What were your favorite niches (settings) of 2011?

Book Review: XVI


Title: XVI
Author: Julia Karr
Pages: 325
Publisher: Speak
Buy it: Amazon, B&N, Book Depository

Every girl gets one.
An XVI tattoo on the wrist--sixteen.


Some girls can't wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

Then, with one brutal strike, Nina's normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there's one boy who can help--and he just may hold the key to her past.

But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure...

For Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet
I've always thought having a tattoo was cool... Until XVI. This is a world where a small tattoo of Roman numerals can get a girl raped and abused. And the rapist cannot be blamed.

This is one of my favourite dystopias this year. The XVI tattoo that turns a girl "sex-teen" is one of the best premises in a dystopia I've seen yet. The plot, however, is more complex than simply about turning sixteen, and page after page, new revelations continue to shock me. From NonCons, to B.O.S.S. agents, to old family friends, things in XVI are all connected in ways I would've never imagined possible.

Nina Oberon seemed to be a normal kind of girl at first. Then she turned extraordinary. Things are never as they seem in XVI and there is not a single boring moment in the entire book. Sal Davis, Nina's boyfriend, seems to be homeless at first, then he morphs into the cliché parent-less, super-talented, über-hot boy. But even though he seems cliché, he has more secrets than meets the eye, and like the book itself, he hasn't failed to surprise me yet.

The side characters were what really made XVI stand out in the plethora of dystopian novels today. Each and every one of them had a history, had a personality, and added something of their own to the story. From Nina's best friend, Sandy, to her new best friend, Wei, to her grandmother, each and every one of them are essential to the book, and it just wouldn't be complete if it lacked just one of them.

Although XVI sounds like a novel purely about a girl who doesn't want to have sex yet, the storyline's more complicated than that. Throw in an evil stepfather who wouldn't mind killing Nina, a bunch of family history, and *spoilers and more spoilers*, you'll just about have XVI.

I'd recommend XVI to anyone who isn't sick of dystopias already. I loved this take on a dystopia, and I'd love to learn more about how this world came to be in the sequel. Speaking of the sequel, you can bet that I'm going to make a mad dash to the bookstore to grab my copy of Truth when it's out in Hong Kong. Or maybe I'll just pre-order it...


My rating: Buy it, Keep it, Love it forever

Best Superpowers of 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today, we have come up with our list of Best Superpowers of 2011. These superpowers we love the most and want for ourselves.

  1. Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  2. - Summoning, making people hallucinate
  3. Charlotte from A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
  4. - Has the ability to know when someone needs help
  5. Clara from Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
  6. - Speak every language, strong, flies
  7. DeRís family and Meghan from Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (Also read Hikari's review
  8. - Elemental powers for the win!
  9. Ellie from Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
  10. - What could be cooler than summoning twin swords from midair?
  11. Emma from Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz
  12. - Witch (P.S. true love wins)
  13. Jacinda from Vanish by Sophie Jordan
  14. - Fire-breathing draki
  15. Lena from Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  16. - Caster
  17. Lend from Supernaturally by Kiersten White
  18. - He "borrows" bodies!! And wears them!! Plus, I wouldn't have to buy every outfit I want. I can make it myself with Lend's superpowers.
  19. Puck from The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
  20. - Always has the perfect retort lying in wait. And he's a prankster. With his superpowers, I'd be an April Fool's Day legend.

What were your favorite superpowers of 2011? Which one do you want for yourself?

Review: Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

5 Stars: Incredible
Series: Wicked Lovely #2
Hardback: 328 Page
Publication: April 4, 2008 by Harper Teen

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.

The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils....

Melissa Marr continues her tales of Faerie in a dark, ravishing story of temptation and consequences, and of heroism when least expected.

Ink Exchange is darker and more seductive than Wicked Lovely. While it too revolves around an innocent mortal girl who gets caught up in the faery world by a twist of fate, it reveals that there is more side characters of Wicked Lovely than at first glance. These narrators have dark pasts and are trying to find their place in the world.

Leslie is trying to forget a terrible incident from her past and to gain confidence to move on. Niall is stuck between two courts: one that has inflicted pain on him but which resonates with his dark nature and one that has sheltered him but whose intentions he has yet to divine. Irial will do anything necessary to protect his court (the Dark Court), but he is growing tired of reigning.

Both of the male narrators develop an unhealthy interest in Leslie. At first, I fully expected to support Niall because of his desire to protect her and because of his affiliation with the Summer Court, but he loses himself in confusion and makes questionable decisions and ends up being outplayed by Irial. I ended up liking Irial more because he only acts in the best interests of his court--and because he does the right thing for everyone in the end. Hopefully, the new responsibilities thrust upon Niall will force him to grow up in the next book.

Ink Exchange furthers the plot established in Wicked Lovely by showcasing the effect of the newly founded peace on the Dark Court. The writing is simple and poetic. Sometimes, I really wished that there was more detailed imagery, but Melissa Marr's writing style brings out the dark and wild beauty of the faery world.

I also love how she details the tattooing process. It was interesting and brought the process of the ink exchange to life!


Note: While I love the first book and have read it more times than Ink Exchange, I do love this book in its own way and really enjoy reading it, though I am not fond of drugs and of people losing themselves. Leslie is a strong girl--a survivor--and she grows so much during this novel.

Add/Buy

Treasure Reads (1)


Treasured Reads is a feature at Imaginary Reads where Kris talks about special reads from the past week. This may be from a character I adore to a new author I discovered to lines from a book that I want to share with readers.

This week, the theme is...


A Contemporary Read

I enjoyed The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. This is a treasure because it isn't all about the romance, and it isn't all about love at first sight. Of course they're interested in each other (or Hadley wouldn't have been looking at Oliver, and Oliver wouldn't have approached her), but they're reasonable about it all. The heart of the story is the family issues that they have, Hadley in particular as she is the narrator, and how they help each other to overcome their worries and fears.

This is a sweet, cute, sometimes-sad story that I highly recommend.

What contemporary reads are you looking forward to?



Best Sidekicks of 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011


Today we're visiting the Best Sidekicks of 2011! These are the side characters we love the most and want supporting us!

  1. Adne from Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
  2. Áine from Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (Also read Hikari's review)
  3. Caleb from Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. Calliope from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanine Perkins
  5. Dean from Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) - Sarah Mlynowski
  6. Evan from Hushed by Kelley York
  7. Hana from Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  8. Puck and Grimalkin from The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
  9. Sydney from Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
  10. Thomas from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

What were your favorite sidekicks of 2011?

Interview: Majanka Verstraete

Today, I'm interviewing Majanka Verstraete, author of Mirror, Mirror.

Piper is nearly as obsessed with antiquities and century-old houses as her mother is. It's no surprise that she immediately falls in love with the old mirror she discovers on the attic of their new home. Despite the warnings of her best friend Alison, who senses something isn't quite right about Piper's newest discovery, she puts the mirror in her bedroom. Tormented by nightmares and haunted by eerie voices in the middle of the night, Piper realizes she has made a terrible mistake. But is it really the fault of that antique mirror, or is her imagination playing tricks on her? Maybe the truth is even more terrifying....

You both write and manage a book review site. How do you balance reviewing books and writing a novel?
It’s unbelievably hard to combine the two, I can assure you. On top of that, I also design websites, not only for myself, but for other people as well. I’m a busy bee. The real problem is that, when I’m writing a novel – and with that, I don’t mean the outline or editing, but the actual writing – I can’t read other books. They distract me. Sometimes because they give me inspiration for other books, which is a big no-no when I’m in the writing stages, or because they make me waste too much time.

However, I often give in anyway and read the book. Sometimes reviewing and reading other books also helps me write my own books, because I spot clichés in those books and then avoid using them myself. However, it remains difficult to combine the two. But since I love doing both, I can’t possibly see me not doing either one of those.

It's sounds like you have a lot going on. I'm impressed! I noticed that you’ve previously published another supernatural horror novel. What draws you to the genre?
That’s difficult to say. I’ve always enjoyed telling scary stories to my peers, even when I was just a little kid. I remember that when I went camping over the summer, we used to turn the lights off and crawl under a blanket together and I would tell my friends the scariest stories I could come up with. We were usually too scared to go to bed afterwards. I also love watching horror movies and pinpointing the clichés in those movies. However, horror wasn’t the first genre I started to write.

When I was thirteen years old, I started on my first big, epic fantasy book, so epic fantasy is the first genre I ever tried. Afterwards came vampires, vampires and well, more vampires. I think I’ve recently outgrown the vampire crazy a bit, and I’ve fallen in love with reading paranormal mysteries and supernatural horror books. I like to get scared. And I like to write in the genres I currently love to read, so supernatural horror it was.

Will you continue to write supernatural horror novels, and will you be trying out other genres in the future?
I’m currently working on two books. One of them, The Thirteenth Hour, is currently in the editing process, and again, it’s supernatural horror. Except this time, I’ve written a number of horror short stories and combined them in a collection. The book I’m currently writing however is a young adult paranormal romance novel with the working title Soul Thief. It features angels mostly. Other ideas I currently have involve other paranormal romance books and an epic fantasy series. So it’s unlikely that I’ll stay in the supernatural horror genre, but I’m not completely done with it yet. I will stay in the young adult genre though.

If you were a character in Mirror, Mirror, what role would you play?
What an interesting question! I’m not exactly sure, but I would probably be Piper. I can actually relate quite well to my main character. She lost her father to a fatal illness, and my father died when I was seven years old. Not exactly in the same circumstances, but the result is still the same. It’s just Piper and her Mom, and they have a special bond I can relate to quite well, since it closely resembles the bond I have with my Mom. On top of that, I’ve put a lot of characteristics of myself in Piper when I wrote down her personality traits.

Piper is intelligent, open-minded and eager to solve the mystery. However, she’s also a bit too trusting and naïve and fragile. She isn’t one of those brave heroines who always face danger head-on, but she isn’t exactly a person who runs away screaming all the time either. Plus, Piper hates mathematics, and I hate them as well. Additionally, I like to be the main center of attention, so of course I would like to play the main character. ;)

If you created a fantasy world for yourself, what would you put in there?
This is a difficult question to answer. If I were to be transported to a fantasy world right now, I would definitely like one that includes dragons. But not evil dragons that kill humans to pass the time, but the kind of dragons you can fly on and use as means of transportation. Additionally, I would like a magical library that instinctively knows what you’re looking for and where books fly right out of the shelves whenever you need them. I would also put some bad guys in there, like demons and boogeymen, to keep the balance between good and evil and such. And of course, a possessed mirror can always be added to keep things interesting.

Do you collect antiquities like Piper?
I don’t really collect antiquities, but I love old houses. And with love, I mean that whenever I see a house that’s over a century old, I go totally crazy. It doesn’t matter if the house is already decaying, missing a roof, doors or windows, or if it’s still well taken care of. I just love old houses. I love castles as well, actually. Whenever I travel somewhere, I always look up whether or not there are castles or old mansions in the area, so I can visit them. One of my dreams is to go urban exploring into old, decaying houses and discover treasures left behind by the previous owners.

I love old houses! If I could design my dream house, I would want it to look like it was transported from the past. I'm not brave enough to explore decaying houses though. Is there something you would like to collect?
I would love to collect doll houses. Antique doll houses. But they are ridiculously expensive, and my budget, being a poor university student and sometimes author, is unfortunately very limited.

What can readers expect from you next?
On June 1st my next novel, a horror short story collection called The Thirteenth Hour will be released on Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu. I’m currently working on my next novel, Soul Thief. I estimate I will be finished writing and editing that one by the end of February. However, since I’ve decided not to self-publish Soul Thief, but look for an agent, etc. it might take a while before it ever gets published.

Good luck with publication! Anything you want to add?
Well, of course I would like to add that everyone should try out Mirror, Mirror. Not only because you would be helping a poor university student out, but also because a lot of time, effort and especially love went into writing the story. It isn’t just supernatural horror, it focuses on a lot of other themes as well. Additionally, people who want to get a taste of my writing, can always check out my free horror short story "The Crossroads." If you want to know more about me or my writing, feel free to check out my website. And thank you, Kris, for the fun and interesting interview questions and for hosting me on your blog today.

Majanka's Website | FacebookTwitter
Majanka Verstraete is a twenty-one year old female from Belgium. She’s currently studying law at university. Her greatest passions in life are writing and reading. She especially enjoys writing books in the young adult genre, ranging from young adult horror novels to epic fantasy and paranormal romance. She has currently published two books, The Blood That Defines Us and Mirror, Mirror. She’s working on a collection of horror short stories, The Thirteenth Hour, which is due for release on June 1, 2012. Her current writing project is a paranormal romance series under the working title “The Angel of Death Series”. Volume one will be entitled Soul Thief.



Giveaway

Majanka is offering 3 e-copies of Mirror, Mirror in the format of your choice.

Details:
Open internationally
Ends January 24th, along with the tour
To enter, fill out the form below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Imagine My Mailbox (17)

Sunday, December 25, 2011
Kris's Mailbox

(Click on cover image for book synopsis)



Guess what Santa left on Kris's doorstep on Christmas Eve? None other than an ARC of Pandemonium!! I am so excited. I fell in love with Lauren Oliver's writing after reading Before I Fall, and I LOVE LOVE Delirium. I am so excited to be reviewing the second book to Delirium. I'll be reading this over the holidays. Look forward to my review sometime in January!

Leave your link, and I'll visit your blog!

Review: Wintertown by Stephen Emond

2 Stars: An Okay Read
Hardback: 331 Pages
Publication: December 5, 2011 by Little, Brown & Company

Every winter, straight-laced, Ivy League bound Evan looks forward to a visit from Lucy, a childhood pal who moved away after her parent's divorce. But when Lucy arrives this year, she's changed. The former "girl next door" now has chopped dyed black hair, a nose stud, and a scowl. But Evan knows that somewhere beneath the Goth, "Old Lucy" still exists, and he's determined to find her... even if it means pissing her off.

Garden State meets Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist in this funny and poignant illustrated novel about opposites who fall in love.

Wintertown is a cute book about a boy trying to reconnect with his childhood friend. It is cute how (1) Evan tries to understand the new Lucy and (2) The comic strips and graphics in the novel are adorable and add a quaint touch to this holiday read.

I like the characters and how they represent two extremes. Evan is the studious geek expected to attend an Ivy League after achieving the status of valedictorian of his high school class, and Lucy was the neglected daughter of a dysfunctional family (and is now a rebellious teenager). Both are dealing with issues that stem from the expectations of their roles. I also adore Evan's grandmother. She is a witty, amusing character who likes a bit of rebellion.

That being said, I found it hard to connect with the story. I couldn't make since of where the story was headed. It seems to jump from scene to scene without much connection other than the underlying stress and changes in Evan and Lucy's relationship.

Wintertown is about searching for self-identity, developing relationships, and learning to trust. I know that there are people who fell in love with this book all the way. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those people. Maybe you'll pick it up in the bookstore, flip through the first pages, and find yourself captivated by it. And if you think you know someone who'll like this kind of book, this is a book that I imagine would make a fun holiday gift.

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A copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Merry Christmas Eve

Saturday, December 24, 2011
Merry Christmas Eve everybody!

Since it's December 24th, it's about time to talk about things like snow and Santa, yeah? Here are some of my favourite Christmassy books as a child, to celebrate Imaginary Reads' first Christmas...

The Night Before Christmas

This is one of my childhood favourites. I've read it again and again throughout the years, and even after all this time, this poem never fails to enchant me.

I find this very weird though--when I first read this poem as a kid, I liked reading the poem more than looking at the illustrations. Uncharacteristic of a six-year-old?

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Okay, I'll admit it. I've read every single one of Dr. Seuss' books, from The Cat in the Hat to How the Grinch Stole Christmas to The Lorax. Yes, I'm a fan.

The Grinch looks so funny in his Santa disguise, and the whole thing is just a brilliant laugh to read, while carrying a deeper meaning. The movie adaption of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, however, is something I haven't watched yet... Mainly because the Grinch looks so ugly in it!

The Little Match Girl

This story is just simply heart-wrenching. I simply love it, and I've read it again and again, even though it used to make me cry. I've even read it multiple times in Chinese.

Anyone who hasn't read The Little Match Girl before simply has to. It's beautiful in a way that tears your heart out.




And here's something I stumbled upon... 
It's all our favourite YA authors singing Winter Wonderland. Mind = blown.
(Maggie Stiefvater is, apparently, not just amazing at writing, but amazing at bagpipes as well... 
Mind = doubly blown.)

Hope you guys get lots and lots and lots of books in your stocking this year!

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

5 Stars: Incredible
Hardback: 236 Pages
Publication: January 2, 2012 by Poppy

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

I cannot put into words just how cute this story is! For the most part, I've had a ridiculously silly smile on for face. The story starts with Hadley (or the author) musing about how four minutes can change everything. Many different things put Hadley behind schedule on the day she went to the airport, causing her to miss her flight and be put on the next one, the one that Oliver is taking. Or maybe it was fate. Regardless, it is because of her missing her flight that she meets Oliver.

I went into this book expecting that it would center on Hadley and Oliver's romantic development. I had a very pleasant surprise in store for me. The story is also about family issues and learning how to forgive and move on. Hadley hasn't seen her dad in over a year; now, she is flying against her will to England to be a bridesmaid at her dad's wedding to a woman that she's never met.

It's probably because Hadley found herself telling Oliver about her family problems and her negative views on marriage that, having jumped off the deep end already, they could be honest with each other. And because they could be honest with each other, they felt a connection while talking on the airplane. From Oliver's reaction to Hadley's problems, we know that Oliver has family issues of his own. While he won't tell Hadley what's going on, he does encourage Hadley to give her dad a chance. She does--and good things come out of it.

In fact, a lot of good things come out of their meeting. After Hadley and Oliver land on the other side of the ocean, they part ways only for them to find each other again. We learn more about the two--some things not so good. A couple times, I thought it was nearly over for them, and then chance (fate?) brings them back together again. Oliver is a mysterious guy with a fun sense of humor. We don't know if Hadley and Oliver will get together, but  there's promise here!

Add/Buy

An ARC was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Book Tour: Bloodstone Saga Giveaway & Guest Post

Friday, December 23, 2011


Today, we have Courtney Cole with us on the blog. She's talking about the future and her series, the Bloodstone saga.
Courtney Cole is a YA novelist who loves thunderstorms, cake batter and insane amounts of coffee. She wrote her first story at the age of 9, although thankfully it has remained hidden away in an old cedar chest beneath musty blankets. Her more recent efforts are much better.

Find Courtney on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.
Here's a little about her second book in the series, Fated.
Seventeen-year old Macy Lockhart thought she had it all figured out.

As a Keeper in the ancient organization, the Order of the Moirae, she literally holds fate in her hands. She lives over and over in lives that end tragically; all to further the good of mankind as she does her part to control destiny.
But there’s one lesson that she hasn’t learned well enough. Nothing is ever what it seems.

Startling new revelations about her identity surface and Macy realizes that she’s more important than she ever imagined.

As she struggles to grasp her new reality, everyone she loves is threatened. Is she strong enough to save them all?
Fated on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound.




Knowing the Future

When did I first know that Every Last Kiss would be a series? I knew before I started writing it. You see, Every Last Kiss isn’t where the story really begins… It is a prequel of sorts. I really debated on where to begin but I ended up writing Every Last Kiss the way that I did because I needed for readers to see how the Fates had tormented my main character throughout the millennia.

So, I knew when I was brainstorming my book, before I had even written one word, that it would be a
series. I just didn’t know how many books it would need. I almost tried to cram everything into three
books, but as I was writing With My Last Breath, that just didn’t feel right. In order to fully discover the
Underworld (which is the setting for My Tattered Bonds), I really needed a full novel.

I did NOT know from the beginning where the third or fourth book would be set—I knew exactly how I wanted book one and two, but books three and four were in the air until I started writing them. But the details leading up to them just fell into place perfectly to create the settings that I eventually ended up with. I love it when that happens!



Thank you so much to Courtney for her post today!



Giveaway

Courtney is offering two giveaways for those following her tour!

-  The first give-away is a daily one with a unique prize for each stop! For today's tour date, Courtney is offering a signed copy of Fated! To enter the daily giveaway just leave a comment on this tour post.

- The second give-away is for a grand prize of a gorgeous Kindle Touch skinned with the cover art from the final book in the Bloodstone Saga: My Tattered Bonds! To enter... Rafflecopter!

(Both giveaways are for US/CAN only, sorry international people!)

Best in a Pinch of 2011


Today, we have come up with our list of best in a pinch of 2011. These people are the one we would want watching our backs when we run into a bit of trouble.
  1. Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  2. - Angelic swordsman
  3. Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  4. - Deadly powerful ghost
  5. Ash & Puck from The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
  6. - Ash has ice powers, and Puck is a trickster. They make one amazing team!
  7. Calla from Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
  8. - Alpha, healing properties
  9. Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanine Perkins
  10. - Handy-dandy inventor
  11. Faraday from Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson (Also read Hikari's review)
  12. - Intelligent scientist
  13. Megan from Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (Also read Hikari's review)
  14. - Air element; beware enemies, she's a great spy and will blow you away with her awesomeness!
  15. Saphira from from Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
  16. - The fiery dragon
  17. Tris & Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth
  18. - Dauntless, reliable fighters
  19. Will from Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
  20. - Reliable fighter, quick at healing

What were your favorite "best in a pinch" of 2011?