Feb 28, 2013

Book Review of Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke

Publisher: Touchstone
Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Pages: 384
Genre: Adult-Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss

Description from GoodreadsPeople go traveling for two reasons: because they are searching for something, or they are running from something. Katie’s world is shattered by the news that her headstrong and bohemian younger sister, Mia, has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Bali. The authorities say that Mia jumped—that her death was a suicide.

Although they’d hardly spoken to each other since Mia suddenly left on an around-the-world trip six months earlier, Katie refuses to accept that her sister would have taken her own life. Distraught that they never made peace, Katie leaves her orderly, sheltered life in London behind and embarks on a journey to find out the truth. With only the entries in Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life and—page by page, country by country—begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.

Weaving together the exotic settings and suspenseful twists of Alex Garland’s The Beach with a powerful tale of familial love in the spirit of Rosamund Lupton’s Sister, Swimming at Night is a fast-paced, accomplished, and gripping debut novel of secrets, loss, and forgiveness.

Every now and then a book comes along that just makes you feel all the feels and really lose yourself in the narrative. It's very difficult for me to find books like this as I am so damn picky these days. But this book. THIS BOOK. Could not have made me happier. It made me laugh, cry, want to travel to these places, want to have a sister, etc. Basically, I did a little dance the entire time I was reading. 

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I wanted to give myself a few days to get over the pure emotion I felt after I turned the last page. I wanted to review it immediately, but I find over time that these types of reviews tend to be full of emotional overreactions and I'd prefer that not to happen, so I waited. Because if I had reviewed this immediately upon finishing my head would have exploded it was so full of thoughts. It ended up not mattering though because I still loved this book just as much. 

The writing was fantastic. Nothing particularly special about the prose itself, but the way the author captured the imagery of the places the protagonist visited were brilliant. Western Australia was dusty, barren, but full of wonderfully friendly people and epic surfing waves. Indonesia was crowded, humid, frangipani scented, and full of beautiful beaches. 

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Shocked. Just stunned by this entire novel. In awe. Overwhelmed. In love with the characters. All of them. They are full of depth. Flawed but likable. People you can relate to because of the things they have been through in life. Personalities that jump off the page because the way they relate to each other feels so utterly real and heartbreaking. I've never had a sister but this book made me want one so I could experience all the things that sisters go through (good and bad). The whole time you are reading this you know how it is going to end but not how it happens. And you know it's going to end sadly. And yet when I got there, it was just devastating regardless. 

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I might cry a lot when I read books, but never has a book stuck with me quite like this one has. I'm not only calling this a favorite, but an all time favorite. Some books hit you in just the right spot. Some books make you rethink life and the way you live it. Some books gut-punch you with their awesomeness. For me personally, this book was flawless. Books like this are the reason I do what I do. I'd like to think somewhere that these people are real. That Katie is healing somewhere. That Noah is moving on with his life and becoming a better person. That Finn has finally found the love he has been looking for all his life. I hope that for all these characters. 

I wish I could read this book for the first time all over again. But I can't. So all I can do is tell YOU to read it so I can live through your experiences. And I don't want to spoil it with too many plot points or technical talk. There is no need for that here. This book is a page turner and it is all about the emotional experience. I hope you choose to take the ride. 

5/5 Dragons

Feb 27, 2013

Blind Date Giveaway With a Book Answers

This post has taken us a while to get to because Lyn and I have both been crazy busy lately, but we wanted to get these answers to you before the giveaway becomes obsolete and no one cares anymore! Hah!

So I'm going to do this quickly and just post the books that went with each number, their dating profiles, and links to Goodreads so you can add them to your TBR pile if you are interested in reading them. :)

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1. Name: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
For Fun: Cross-country traveling
Favorite Things: Summer days, pyromania, road trips
Seeking reader who loves romance and self-discovery

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2. Name: Starglass by Phoebe North
For Fun: Space Travel, Assassination, Grieving
Favorite Things: The Promised Land, Botany, Rebellion
Seeking: A reader who finds romantic sci-fi fascinating!

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3. Name: The Ward by Jordana Frankel
For Fun: Surviving the Apocalypse, City Living
Favorite Things: Healthy partners, Non-polluted drinking water, action and adventure
Seeking: A reader who is looking for adventure while surviving the dystopian landscape while taking strolls downtown in New York City.

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4. Name: The Dark Between by Sonia Genzler
For Fun: Séances, Spiritualism, college life
Favorite Things: England, Fringe Science, Murder
Seeking: A reading partner who loves supernatural romance and can forgive a book with a secret past.

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5. Name: The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland
For Fun: Animals, Family Traditions
Favorite Things: Middle school, baby animals
Seeking: Hello! I am looking for someone who loves mythical creatures and middle school adventures!

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6. Name: Linked by Imogen Howson
For Fun: Government conspiracies, Telepathy
Favorite Things: Twins, The Future, Danger
Seeking: A person who will love to share in my futuristic and thrilling adventures!

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7. Name: Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell
For Fun: Boating, Communicating with spirits
Favorite Things: Maine, lighthouses, souls
Seeking: A reader who is wishing for a spooky and haunting partner to cuddle beside!

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8. Name: Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore
For Fun: Communication with the dead, Tracking missing people
Favorite Things: Avoiding the Mob,
Seeking: An adventurous spirit who loves the paranormal side of life!

9. Name: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
For Fun: Murder, Road Trips (NO COVER YET)
Favorite Things: Mythology, God-hunting
Seeking: A true-hearted warrior who is ready for a wild journey into an alternate reality.

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10. Name: The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke
For Fun: Marine Biology, Genetics
Favorite Things:  Sea Life, Racing for your life
Seeking: A reader who will root for the underdog and share an undersea date for two

And there are your giveaway dating profile answers! The two winners picked book profiles 1 and 9, I do believe. We wish we had prizes for everyone, but sadly, we are not loaded. LOL. That being said, Lyn and I are planning something awesome for our two year blogoversary/ Easter, so stay tuned for that, and get excited. Because if you liked the book faces, this one may blow your mind!

Waiting on Wednesday #16

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where we post upcoming releases we are looking forward to.

This week I am focusing on adult literature. I like to do a mix of genres around here and since I focus on YA more often, I thought for the next couple of weeks I might spotlight some upcoming adult titles that I am excited about. I am MUCH picker with my adult reading choices, so these books are completely of interest to me. Hopefully you will find something you like here.

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: July 16th, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction

Description from GoodreadsOne of our greatest living writers completes an epic journey across America, Airstream in tow, and reflects on what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large.

September 1996 found Philip Caputo on Barter Island, a wind-scoured rock in the Beaufort Sea populated by two hundred Inupiat and a handful of whites. As he gazed upon an American flag above the only school for a hundred and fifty miles, he marveled that the children in that school pledged allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants on Key West, almost six thousand miles away. Awed by America’s vastness and diversity and filled with a renewed appreciation for its cohesiveness, an idea began to form. With enough time, gas money, and nerve he could drive from the southernmost point to the northernmost point of the United States that is reachable by road, talking to people as he went and trying to better understand what holds our great country together. And then, cicada-like, the idea went dormant, not to be reawakened for fourteen years.

In 2011, in an America struggling through the greatest economic downturn since the Depression and more divided than it has been in living memory, Caputo, who had just turned seventy, his wife, and their two English setters took off in a truck hauling an Airstream camper from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska. The journey, which traveled back roads and state routes, took four months and covered seventeen thousand miles. Caputo interviewed more than eighty Americans from all walks of life to get a picture of what their lives and the life of the nation are like in the twenty-first century and created a book that informs as much as it entertains.

Publisher: Pegasus
Release Date: July 1st 2013
Genre: Literary Fiction

Description from GoodreadsIn silken prose and with subtle suspense, Nina Schuyler brings us a mesmerizing novel of language and translation, memory loss and heartbreak, and the search for answers in a foreign country. When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, her injury is an unusual but real condition -- the loss of her native language. She is left speaking only Japanese, a language learned later in life. With her personal life at a crossroad, Hanne leaves for Japan. There, the Japanese novelist whose work she translated stunningly confronts her publicly for sabotaging his work. Reeling, Hanne struggles for meaning and seeks out the inspiration for the author's novel -- a tortured, chimerical actor, once a master in the art of Noh theater. Through their passionate and intriguing relationship, Hanne begins to understand the masks she has worn in her life, just as the actor dons the masks that have made him a legend of Noh. The demons from her past and present begin to unfold and Hanne sets out to make amends in this searing and engrossing novel.

Publisher: Sarah Chrichton Books
Release Date: July 9th, 2013
Genre: Historical

Description from GoodreadsIt’s 1964. Eleven-year-old Fin and his glamorous, worldly, older half sister, Lady, have just been orphaned, and Lady, whom Fin hasn’t seen in six years, is now his legal guardian and his only hope. That means Fin is uprooted from a small dairy farm in rural Connecticut to Greenwich Village, smack in the middle of the swinging ’60s. He soon learns that Lady—giddy, careless, urgent, and obsessed with being free—is as much his responsibility as he is hers.

So begins Fin & Lady, the lively, spirited new novel by Cathleen Schine, the author of the bestselling The Three Weissmanns of Westport. Fin and Lady lead their lives against the background of the ’60s, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War—Lady pursued by ardent, dogged suitors, Fin determined to protect his impulsive sister from them and from herself.

From a writer The New York Times has praised as “sparkling, crisp, clever, deft, hilarious, and deeply affecting,” Fin & Lady is a comic, romantic love story: the story of a brother and sister who must form their own unconventional family in increasingly unconventional times.

I love a good travel memoir/road trip. Japanes Noh Theatre? Count me in! And holy crap does Fin & Lady sound awesome. That one sounds like an automatic buy for me. What do you guys think of my picks this week. Anything there that interest you? Link me up and I will come visit your posts!

Feb 26, 2013

Top Ten Top Ten Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic: Top Ten Authors That I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List.

There are authors out there that I would do just about anything to meet.  Anything.

Every book you make, I'll be watching you, authors. 

Without great writers, you can't have great books.  For this week, I am listing out my favorite authors that automatically made it onto my auto-buy list by their own merit.

 photo tp_zps7548333a.jpg 10. Tamora Pierce - I am so far behind on her collection, but anything by this author is well worth the money.  Her writing is always wonderful, and I love her pro-female stance in her books. Recommended Reading: Song of the Lioness series

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9. Rachel Hartman - Not only is Hartman a sweetheart, but her writing placed her on my list right away after I read Seraphina. 
Recommended Reading: Seraphina series

 photo Kendare-Blake1-258x300_zps8d008a16.jpg 8. Kendare Blake - This girl is such a bad ass.  I loved Anna Dressed in Blood, and it will always hold a warm spot in my heart.
Recommended Reading: Anna series

 photo lb_zpse2b4f837.jpg 7. Leigh Bardugo - Her writing, her world building, her awesome Tweets! (I girl-crush her, hard!)
Recommended Reading: Grisha Series.

 photo cynthia-hand-press_zps878fe481.jpeg6. Cynthia Hand - I love the majority of her characters.  She pours her heart into her books, and her writing always snags me from the first page to the last.
Recommended Reading: Unearthly Series

 photo ls_zps7fa89427.jpg 5. Louis Sachar - One of my all-time favorite authors.  Recommended Reading: There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom

4. Jay Kristoff - His humor is spot on, and his stories are amazing! Recommended Reading: The Lotus Wars series 

3. Rosemary Clement-Moore - I ADORE this woman! I love her writing, I love her creativity, and I love her enthusiasm!Recommended Reading: Texas Gothic

2. R.J. Anderson - Every time I read her books, I am blown out of the water! She's humble AND talented! A great combination!
Recommended Reading: Spell Hunter

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1. Laini Taylor - The queen of fantasy. I wish I could live inside of her head.
Recommended reading: Blackbringer

What authors did you add onto your own list this week? Leave a link below!

Feb 25, 2013

Scent of Darkness by Margot Berwin Blog Tour

Publisher: Pantheon
Release Date: January 29th, 2013
Pages: 240
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: I received a finished copy from the publisher for a TLC Book Tour

Description from Goodreads: Evangeline is eighteen years old when her grandmother gives her the ultimate gift-a scent she has created just for her. From the moment Eva places a drop on her neck, her entire life changes. Previously unnoticed, she becomes the object of intense desire for everyone around her. Men dance close to her; women dip their noses deep into her hair; even the cats outside her bedroom cry to be near her. Gabriel, the quiet student Eva has admired from afar, falls head-over-heels in love with her. But soon the gift begins to control Eva's life: strangers follow her around, sniffing and touching her at every turn. When Eva meets Michael, an artist who barely registers her smell, Eva wonders if he is the one person who can love her for herself. Or is her scent impossible to escape? A bewitching, wildly imaginative novel steeped in the mythology of perfume, Scent of Darkness seduces the reader's every sense.

Review: To be completely honest, I don't even know where to begin with this review. This book left me conflicted in a lot of ways, perhaps more than any book I have read in the past couple of years. You see, I don't know how I feel about it. There were parts that I liked: the atmosphere, the setting, the prose, but there were parts that I completely didn't like, or rather did not understand the author's intentions. 

The characters were completely underdeveloped and also quite unlikable. The protagonist was pretty much a selfish bitch, and the two love interests didn't have a personality. One was completely wrapped up in his schoolwork (medical school--and he neglected the protagonist), and the only other signifying characteristic was his star birthmark (who cares?). The other love interest was an arrogant artist who treated the protagonist like crap and I don't understand why she kept going back to him. 

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And this is where I say that I didn't understand what the author was going for because I don't really understand why she wrote her characters like that. She must have intended for them to be selfish and unlikable, but why? The characters were complete caricatures of what they could have been. For me personally, I can handle unlikable characters if there is something else about the book that keeps me engaged. But there just wasn't enough here to work for me. 

It's a really tough book to review though because I think for the right person, this would be a complete hit. I was just not that person. And I know normally it's a complete cop-out when a blogger says that in a review, but here I absolutely mean it. The writing was atmospheric, and I truly felt like author brought the smoky, ancient, overwhelming-to-the-senses city of New Orleans to life. The prose was absolutely gorgeous. Case in point, see the following: 

Because she was old I had already spent many nights in bed, imagining her death, steeling myself ahead of time against a world without her in it. But just then I knew there was no way to prepare for such a thing, because the universe becomes a different place with each person who steps in or out.

This is the main character, Evangeline, talking about her grandmother. It resonated with me because I know exactly how she feels. I did this with my own grandparents, and in some ways you can prepare for their death, but only so much. You have no idea how things are going to end up once they are gone. In the beginning of the book, I liked Evangeline. I loved the close bond she had with her grandmother. But when she met Gabriel, it all fell apart. 

And in the end, I don't understand the point of this book. Evangeline spent a lot of time not understanding why her grandmother gave her this scent to change her life. She thought it was a blessing at times, and a curse at others, but that question was never truly answered. And I was waiting for it to be. I can't speak about the conclusion without spoiling it, but let's just say that none of the events in this book were really even necessary. And I dislike books like that. It made me feel like I wasted my time.

That being said, I think a lot of readers LIKE books like this. It's definitely a strange one. I expected it to be steamier and have more sex than it did, and I wouldn't classify this as new adult either, so in the end, I have labeled it as literary fiction. I think it does have a distinct writing style and I think the author was going for a novel that was multi-layered and she wanted to make us think, but in the end, it just wasn't the book for me. And that's why picking a rating was so difficult. But I settled on 3 stars because the book left me feeling rather neutral. 

3/5 Dragons

Feb 24, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #8

Welcome to Stacking the Shelves. Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews. This is where we showcase books we have received or bought during the week.

It is the end of another week! Things are changing for me at a personal level this week; good things and not so good things are shaking up my life.  It did help cheer me up when I opened my e-mail and saw a lovely $5 off $25 or more sitting there from my favorite bookstore, waiting for my smiling face.  Sales are such a great excuse to go shopping. 

I also have book-related events happening right now, and I hope that we have some wonderful new content coming up soon for our readers.  Keep a look out for our e-mails.  Kara and I have been collaborating and working as a team to bring something fresh and exciting to Great Imaginations! 

Onto the books!

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From Top to Bottom:

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge - After reading A Face Like Glass, I knew I had to pick up more work by this author.

Going Bovine by Libby Bray - VIKINGS! Yeah! I have wanted this book forever, and I finally have it in my greedy grabby hands!

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool - Newbery gold and on sale.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens - This was recommended to me by a fifth grader.  I thought I would give it a shot.


Myth of the Moon Goddess by April Rane - The premise sounds very attractive and enticing!


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If You Find Me by Emily Murdock - Book Tour! 

Throat of the Night by Karyn Henley - Another book tour.  I had to confirm that it would be okay to read this book, since I have not read the other two, but I think it is still possible.  

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe - Complete cover lust.  I admit it.

What books did you pick up for this week?  Share a link below!

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