Saturday, November 23, 2013

Love is Love Double Discussion!!!

*blog makes cricket noises from lack of posting*
*Hannah smashes crickets*

Natalie: Blame school.
Hannah: Seriously. And blame college applications.
Natalie: Basically, we have a lot of excuses.
Hannah: We're bad bloggers.
Natalie: Sorry about that. You can hate us if you want to.
Hannah: But to make up for it (and hopefully make you hate us less), we have a double book discussion today!
Natalie: On to the discussions!

Natalie: One of the panels we really enjoyed at the Decatur Book Festival was the Love is Love Panel. This panel discussed LGBT in YA books.
Hannah: There were two authors, Sara Farizan and David Levithan. They both discussed their latest books (until it started storming).
Natalie: If You Could Be Mine is Sara's fantastic debut novel:

In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture. Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light. So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly. Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?
(Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)

Hannah: This book was really unique.
Natalie: We've never read anything like it before.
Hannah: It was cool that it was set in a different country and we got to learn about their culture.
Natalie: The book deals with two lesbian best friends and it was interesting to see how a different culture handled it.
Hannah: The characters were my favorite part of the book. They were very  likable.
*Hannah takes a break to play FreeFlow*
Natalie: Apparently it's my turn to talk...
I really liked the characters too. They were very real and convincing. I felt bad for them and their situation, but they were also able to lighten the mood through humor.
Hannah: It was great to have characters that made you laugh with them and then made your heart break a little bit for them.
Natalie: We don't want to say too much about the plot because we don't want to spoil it, but it was a beautiful story with amazing writing that captured our attention and emotions. 
Hannah: We were so glad to be able to meet Sara and we highly highly recommend her book.

New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.
While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.


(Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)





Hannah: At the Love is Love panel, David Levithan said that he tried to write the stereotypical David Levithan novel, or something like that. It's been a while since that panel, so excuse our memories. Anyway, it totally worked. Two Boys Kissing was absolutely amazing.
Natalie: We both read it during the car ride home from Decatur. And we both loved it.
Hannah: It was short and sweet, like all David Levithan books. This one is tied with Love is the Higher Law for my favorite of his books.
Natalie: It tackles many social issues in a raw, open way.
Hannah: The best part was the omniscient narrator. I love books with omniscient narrators and it seems like there aren't enough.
Natalie: All of the characters are real, flawed, and believable. 
Hannah: Basically, go read this book now. Or else...













Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sooooooooo..........

Natalie: Soooooo, things have been a little quiet around here lately. We apologize for that. Life has been a little crazy lately. With college applications (Hannah) and NaNoWriMo (Natalie), we haven't had a ton of free time to write blog posts. We're super sorry and we hope that you guys stick with us because we have some awesome things planned for later this month! Sorry again and I promise we will be back soon!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Decatur Book Festival 2013!!!!


Hannah: Over Labor Day weekend we got to take a road trip to Decatur, Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival!
Natalie: It was super fun!
With Myra McEntire
*Emma pops in*
Emma: Hello! *waves*
Hannah: Emma is going to help us recap the festival since she was along for the (nine hour) ride.
Natalie: And she was our sherpa!
Emma: That basically meant that I held umbrellas and saved seats.
Hannah: Have Natalie and I told you how awesome you are lately, Emma?
Emma: Not particularly.
Natalie: Well, you're awesome!!!

Part One: It's a Party in the Min-i-van

Hannah: We started our car ride with the playlist that Natalie and I specially made for DBF. That didn't annoy our mothers at all.
Natalie: Especially when we turned "Party in the U.S.A." into Party in the Minivan.
Emma: We did actually pass a Hollywood sign somewhere in the middle of Illinois. Though it was on our left, not on our right.
Hannah: Then I started reading Wuthering Heights, which I had to finish for school.



Natalie: We stopped at the Metropolis rest stop, where Hannah and Emma's mom got us Great River Road in Illinois National Scenic Byway coloring books! Then I told Hannah to "finish your book for AP Lit so we can be like five year olds!"
Hannah: Then we colored in a picture of "dear" and then corrected all of the spelling and grammar mistakes in the GRRiINSB coloring books. And then commented on how nerdy we are.


We only had orange, purple, and red Sharpies
Emma: After the coloring got boring, I started knitting a veryvery long Doctor Who scarf.


Hannah & Natalie: We don't understand this.
Hannah: Then Emma taught us to knit pygmy puffs (and we again commented on our nerdiness) and Natalie got mad at her knitting needles. A lot.
Natalie: I can now say from experience that knitting sucks. Unless you're good at it. Which I am not.
Emma: Then Lee, our Australian GPS, told us we were almost at the hotel, so we bounced around excitedly.
Natalie: Until we saw the hotel.

Part Two: Alarm goes "whoop, whoop"

Hannah: The hotel we stayed at will forever be referred to as the hotel from hell.
Emma: They lost our reservation.
Hannah: Our room was on a partially smoking floor.
Natalie: There was a hair in our coffee pot.
Emma: The floors were so gross that our mom didn't even let us put our suitcases on the floor.
Hannah: The lampshade had holes in it.
Natalie: And the ceiling had a . . . bladder.
We were afraid the ceiling would leak
Hannah: We gave up on the hotel and left for dinner.
Emma: The elevator apparently was the Great Glass Elevator from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Hannah: And we saw these signs. . .


Natalie: So then we went out to dinner with Hannah and Emma's cousins. We started to get lost and eventually figured out that we needed to go in a "Waffle-Housery direction".
Emma: When we finally got there, we told our cousins all about our lovely hotel.
Hannah: They told us to leave the ceiling bladder at the hotel and let us stay in their apartment.
Natalie: By the way, thankyouthankyouthankyou!

Part Three: "It's like the South is french kissing me all over!"--Robyn Schneider

Emma: We got there super-early and staked out some nice shady seats because it was like a billion and three degrees out.
Natalie: We're St. Louis girls, who are used to humidity but not the hot Georgia sun.



Hannah: The first panel was the Sci-Fi Panel with D.J. MacHale and Rick Yancey.

D.J. MacHale
Rick Yancey


Natalie: This was the first panel, so we didn't know how the signing line worked. So we ended up at the end of a very long line.
Hannah: Next was the Zombies and Others Who Are Not Quite Dead Yet Panel with Amy Tintera and Jonathan Maberry.
Natalie: Which I missed because I was still in the signing line from the previous panel.

With Amy Tintera
Emma: Well, How Did I Get Here? with Myra McEntire, Lauren Miller, and Michelle Hodkin was the next panel. The authors were all very funny, as was the moderator.
Natalie: We didn't understand how all of them had jeans on. Myra and Michelle even had black jackets! We were grossly hot in shorts and t-shirts.

Moderator, Lauren Miller, Myra McEntire, Michelle Hodkin

Natalie: Next was Francesca Lia Block. I got her new book, Love in the Time of Global Warming, which is really really pretty.
Hannah: Natalie stroked the cover for about ten minutes after she bought it.
Natalie: It's pretty!
Emma: Robyn Schneider, Lauren Morrill, and Bridie Clark were on the Love and Romance Panel. We all enjoyed the panel, as all the authors were hilarious.

Terra McVoy (moderator), Bridie Clark, Lauren Morrill

Natalie: We took a picture with Robyn Schneider during the signing line, and she tried to crawl under the table because she was afraid the picture would look bad. Unfortunately, there was a table cloth in the way.

With Robyn Schneider

Hannah: Lauren Morrill was also awesome! We talked Gilmore Girls couples (Rory and Jess are the best) and lamented Bunheads.

With Lauren Morrill


Emma: The last panel we went to was the More Sci-Fi Thrills and Chills, with Robin Wasserman and Geoffrey Girard.
Hannah: When Robin Wasserman signed her alibi in Who Done It?, she said that she still had not gotten a copy of the book.

With Robin Wasserman


Part Four: "This is the most biblical reading I've ever given"--David Levithan

Natalie: The weather was perfect when we arrived at the Fierce Reads Panel. Leigh Bardugo, Gennifer Albin, Anna Banks, and Marie Rutkoski were all hilarious.
Emma: The q&a started off with Leigh Bardugo's twitter dance. That video is floating around on instagram if you want to see it.
Natalie: The best quotes of the panel were courtesy of Anna Banks.
"Everything I say is under the influence of Benadryl."
"That's how I felt about outlines: bra in the shower"
"I thought I could write a book when I first read Twilight"
"I set out to be really charming and that didn't work out" (on what she wanted to be when she grows up)
Emma: Leigh Bardugo was a close second in hilarity
"I have metaphorical allergies so I want to go to a metaphorical spa"
"And I occasionally have broccoli in my hair"
"I don't agree!!! Thank you."
"It's like you have taken a giant pile of crap and spread it on the screen and said I wrote that!" (on first drafts)
"He asked me if I had minions, which I don't, but then he introduced me to his." (On talking to George R. R. Martin)
With Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo, Marie Rutkoski
Leigh Bardugo, Marie Rutkoski, Gennifer Albin, Anna Banks (who has a pole covering her face. Sorry!)

Hannah: Next was one of the panels we were most looking forward too, the Love is Love Panel with David Levithan and Sara Farizan!
Emma: We missed the first few minutes of Sara's reading because the Fierce Reads signing line was kinda long. :(
Natalie: Then David Levithan started reading from Two Boys Kissing and it started to thunder ominously. Hence the quote used for the title of this section.
"It's always the lesbians who fall for me. That's why I'm single."--David Levithan
Hannah: The weather got bad and we were all ushered under the signing line tent, with its metal poles, because apparently it is magical and will protect us all from the ominous weather. 
*Not trusting the magical metal tent*
Natalie: Then we finally got our books signed by David Levithan and Sara Farizan, and we only got a little bit wet. (Thanks to our sherpa holding an umbrella over us)
Hannah: Actually, I think the umbrella was over the books, not us. Because they are more important. 


With David Levithan


Emma, Hannah, & Natalie: Next we got to meet SUSAN BETH PFEFFER!!!!!
Emma: And we learned that the P is silent in Pfeffer.
Natalie: But it's still more fun to pronounce the P and say P-feffer.
Hannah:  She went on the stage early so people could ask questions, so we got a picture with her!

With Susan Pfeffer

Natalie: She was super nice and funny. And we only fangirled a little. Fine, a lot.
Emma: Hannah and I share a lot of books, including the whole Life as We Knew It Series. Susan Beth Pfeffer alternated signing them Hannah & Emma and Emma & Hannah, which was funny and nice of her.

Susan Pfeffer
Natalie: We had a break in between panels, so we wandered about the wet square. And we met Mirabelle, an adorable dog, who has her own book series.

Doesn't Mirabelle look thrilled to be posing with us?
Natalie: Next was the blogger panel, which was interesting and made us realize that we have no idea what we are doing.
Hannah: Then we got to eat dinner with Sara Farizan!
Emma: !!!!!
Hannah: Turns out Sara knew our cousins from college.

With Sara Farizan
Natalie: Anyway, dinner was awesome. We talked writing and book nerdiness with Sara, and ate yummy potato rounds.
Emma: They reminded us of Trader Joe's popped potato chips, which we ate a ton of in the car, so we decided they were the official food of our trip.

So good!
Part Five: The End (plus random pictures)

We had such a fun trip and we hope we can go back next year!

Emma wore these earrings on the first day and got tons of compliments! We think she should open an Etsy store.
Little Shop of Stories
We saw these in Little Shop of Stories and flipped out! We love the new covers!
All of our books! (And some slightly crappy lighting)

We got a some cool swag. The "Let's all privateer" button is Natalie's favorite
The song that was stuck in our heads for the majority of the trip: No One Knows by The Section Quartet

Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee the accuracy of any quotes. We only paraphrased from our memories. Or something. So they could be wrong, but they should be mostly right.
Emma and her pygmy puff say thanks for reading!
One last note: We have some extra swag from this and the RT Booklover's Convention that we went to last May. Would any of you be interested in a giveaway? Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Decatur Book Festival!!!

This post is brought to you by exclamation points, SENTENCES IN ALL CAPS, and the word 'excited'.

Natalie: FIVE DAYS!!!
Hannah: Maybe you should clarify.
Natalie: The title clarifies it.
Hannah: I guess I'll clarify it then. We're going to the Decatur Book Festival!
Natalie: WE'RE SO EXCITED!
Hannah: We plan on getting a lot of books to review-
Natalie: -and meeting lots of awesome authors-
Hannah: -like...
Natalie and Hannah: SUSAN BETH PFEFFER!!!!!!!!
Hannah: You might have heard of her. She wrote that little book called LIFE AS WE KNEW IT!!!
Natalie:We aren't excited about that at all...
Hannah:We're so excited to meet authors, fellow book lovers, and fellow bloggers!
Natalie: We plan on writing a full recap of the festival so we can tell you about all the awesomeness that went down!
Hannah: You know it hasn't actually happened yet, right? How do you know that any awesomeness went down?
Natalie: AWESOMENESS WILL GO DOWN!!!
Hannah: If you say so.
Natalie: Anyway, be prepared for wacky pictures, funny stories-
Hannah: -and book-squealing, of course!
Natalie: There's so much to do and we probably won't post another review until after the festival, so we'll see you guys after we get back from Georgia!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tiger Lily Review!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson



Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell. Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
(Picture and synopsis from Goodreads)



Natalie: As you may have guessed, we really like pretty covers. 
Hannah: And the cover of Tiger Lily is another cover that we really like. So that means we are going to squeal about it, and Natalie is going to stroke the book. Because Natalie tends to stroke books with pretty covers.
Natalie: I can't help it! They're pretty!
*insert squealing here*
Hannah: Moving on to the words in the book.
Natalie: So this book was a retelling of Peter Pan. It was told from Tinker Bell's point of view, which I thought with really cool and interesting.
Hannah: I liked how the Tink started out narrating pretty objectively, but then she because more biased as the story went on and she became more involved with Tiger Lily and Peter Pan and everything.
Natalie: The story took popular characters and gave them more depth than the animated Disney versions. 
Hannah: A character that wasn't my favorite was Tiger Lily. She could be so mean to poor Pine Sap. I mean, hasn't Pine Sap suffered enough with a name like Pine Sap?
Natalie: I felt like she was trying so hard to be strong and tough that she came across as detached at some points.
Hannah: This is an awkward transition, but it's next chronologically in our post it note markings... So I liked how Peter Pan's spelling was very Winnie-the-Pooh. For example: "IN MEMRY OF THE STRANJER". 
Natalie: Going back to characters, it was cool to learn the story of how Hook got his hook.
Hannah: The backstories to Hook's hook and the alligator's clock and the Lost Boys and stuff were really neat. It was one of my favorite parts of the retelling.
Another random aside--the evil mermaids were totally like the merpeople in Harry Potter. (Natalie and I are obsessed with Harry Potter).
Natalie: I liked the romance between Peter Pan and Tiger Lily, but in the beginning it was rushed and kind of came out of nowhere. (And this isn't a spoiler--the back of the book says that PP is a match for TL and they have a bond.)

But this part is a spoiler so if you don't want to be spoiled...


The part when Peter killed one of the pirates was kind of a reality check. This book isn't the rainbows and unicorns tale that the Disney movie told. It's dark and gritty, but that's what makes it so good.


...skip to here!

Hannah: I liked reading about the Sky Eaters, Tiger Lily's tribe. The details about their life were really interesting. My favorite part was how they watched every sunset and remembered them all. 
Natalie: Another annoyance I had with Tiger Lily was that she wasn't very logical sometimes. She was unhappy with the Sky Eaters, but when opportunities arose for her to change her situation, she didn't take them.
Hannah: (and Natalie, too) We kinda hate Wendy. That's all.
Natalie: The ending was so powerful for me (I can't say anything else about it because that would spoil it and apparently we're not spoiling anything now). The last page literally had me in tears, which hasn't happened since I read The Fault in Our Stars.

Overall Impressions:


Hannah: Tiger Lily was really good. I liked the backstories and Tink's narration, but Tiger Lily was kind of an annoying character. Tiger Lily also could have been a bit more interesting, especially since the book was called Tiger Lily.
Natalie: I absolutely loved Tiger Lily. It was such a lush, dark retelling of one of my favorite "fairy tales." The writing was outstanding and so interesting to read. There was such a great cast of characters that were developed through out the story. And I think Hannah is crazy for only giving it 3 stars.

Ratings:
Hannah: ✭✭✭
Natalie: ✭✭✭✭✭


Random Side Note: Jodi Lynn Anderson also wrote May Bird and the Ever After, which Natalie reviewed six-ish years ago for summer newspaper writing camp that we both went to. (Hannah wrote about the possible-planet-object that caused Pluto to be, in Natalie's words, kicked out of the solar system.)



Monday, July 29, 2013

Oath of Servitude Review!


Oath of Servitude by C.E. Wilson


This is the story of Teague and Cailin, two teenagers who have been brought together by fate. Teague, a human, struggles to come to terms with the consequences of a recent accident that has destroyed the happy life that he had once enjoyed. Cailin, a pixi, is trying to stay true to herself while fighting against forces beyond her control that have exiled her from her home into this strange world of humans. She fears the darkness. He cannot escape it. But when the two of them are thrown together, they begin to discover the light inside of themselves.


(Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)







Note: We were given this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Natalie: Today we're going to try review the book conversationally, but not spoil anything. Tell us what you think. Hannah, what did you think of the book?
Hannah: This book had a very interesting concept. I really like fantasy books, so I was excited to read a book about pixis.
Natalie: The concept was very original, which I liked.
Hannah: I also liked the humor in Cailin and Teague's exchanges.
Natalie: I liked the way the story was told from many different characters' points of view.
Hannah: Yeah, it was cool how you still could learn about the pixi-world even after the main character had left it.
Natalie: So this was the first book that I've read that was not on paper.
Hannah: And that is the last book I will ever read not made of paper. I can't stand not holding an actual book. (By the way, neither of us have e-readers, so we read this book on computers.) It is just not the same.
Natalie: This was also the first self-published book I've ever read, so I don't have anything else to compare it to, but in my opinion, this book could have used more editing. I know it probably takes a lot of work to self publish, and it's awesome that the author did that, but there were some grammatical, punctuation, and repetition errors that could have been easily fixed.
Hannah: I agree. Whenever I have to write a paper or something for school, I always have a friend look over it because they can always catch those little errors that I skip over because I'm still seeing what I thought I wrote. This book could have benefited from another set of eyes before it was published.
Natalie: Now onto the plot.
Hannah: I really enjoyed the initial plot of the-pixi-in-a-human-world. However, the pixi-politics plot just wasn't my favorite. The pixi government just seemed mean, and I didn't care for any of the politicians enough to get into that particular plotline. There was also a plotline about Cailin's sisters, a plotline about Owen and Nolkrin, a backstory for Owen, and the relationships between the pixis.
Natalie: I think there were too many plotlines being crammed into such a short novel. It was too much to keep straight, and it made it harder to get into the story.
Hannah's sister Emma said that this part won't spoil anything, but it does mention something that happens towards the end of the book. If you think that this might spoil the book for you, skip this part.
Hannah: I was confused by the love triangle at the end. It didn't make any sense to me.
Natalie: It was too out of the blue. You didn't know much about Cailin's relationships with the other pixis before going to the human world, so it was a random guy just proclaiming his love for Cailin.
Hannah: Love triangles have been overdone in lots of YA lately, so they really have to be good for me to get behind them, and, unfortunately, this one just didn't work for me.
Natalie: I thought it was really weird.
End sort-of spoilers.
Hannah: I thought this book had a very intriguing concept, but the execution could have been a bit better. There were funny moments and good characters, just a few too many of them.
Natalie: It was an interesting take on supernatural elements in a realistic setting, but there were too many plotlines and it wasn't as well-woven as it could have been.

Ratings:
Hannah: 
Natalie: 

Hannah: Now we're off to go feed a turtle named Lloyd.
Natalie: Yay!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

If He Had Been With Me Review!

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.
Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...
The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.


(Picture and synopsis from Goodreads.)

Natalie: We were lucky enough to meet Laura Nowlin at our localish library, and when we told her we were going to review this book, she said to be honest. (More about this at the end...)
Hannah: And we can honestly say that we loved it!

WE ARE GOING TO SPOIL THE GREEN SOCKS OFF OF THIS BOOK!!! IF YOU HAVE NOT READ IT, SKIP TO THE RATING SECTION AT THE END!!!

Natalie: How about we start with the green socks?
Hannah: What do you want to say about the green socks?
Natalie: I don't know. It was funny.
Hannah: Apparently we can't form sentences that actually sound good today. 
Natalie: How about we squeal about stuff? We can do that!
I want a baby goat named Augusta!
Hannah: Me too! Even though a goat tried to eat my dress once when I was five.
Natalie: But goats are so cute!
Now onto characters that aren't goats.
Hannah: I loved Autumn's character, but I didn't like how she thought that she would just marry Jamie and everything would be perfect. Mostly because Jamie irritated me, but also because no high school freshman has their life that planned out. 
Natalie: It seemed a little naive, especially for someone starting high school. That's around the time that most people realize that happily ever afters don't usually happen in real life.
Hannah: Though I guess freshman year is a lot of being glad you still have time before having to deal with standardized tests and college searching and everything.
Time for quotes that make us hate Jamie. 
"It's hard to predict when Jamie will approve or disapprove of any eccentricity of mine." (page 70)
"'I will never, ever, never leave you,' he says." (page 63) 
"That isn't beautiful. That just sucks." (page 138, while they are discussing the meaning of life)
Natalie: And now a character we did like--Finn. He was so nice and he always saw the best in people.
Hannah: And even though there was a rift between him and Autumn, he kept it friendly between them. Autumn and Finn had such a great friendship that they were able to go right back into being friends even after the awkward period between them. They were more of best friends than Autumn and Sasha ever could have been. And he was so concerned when Autumn got the black eye from Jamie when they were sledding.
Natalie: "'F*** you, Sylvie,' I say." (page 100)
That was exactly what I was thinking for pretty much the entire book. The author wanted the reader to hate this character and it worked really well. 
Hannah: That pretty much sums up our feelings for Sylvie.
I loved how If He Had Been With Me was set in Saint Louis, our lovely hometown. I really liked reading and hearing something about how St. Louis winters go on forever and just thinking, yeah, pretty much. 
Natalie: Also, she mentioned something about how September is a summer month in St. Louis and how the weather doesn't turn cold until October or even November. Sadly, this is true. St. Louis is special in the way that winter and summer drag on forever.
Now for a quote that we book nerds love.
"I want to savor this wonder, this happening of loving a book and reading it for the first time, because the first time is always the best, and I will never read this book for the first time ever again." (page 141).
Hannah: Besides Jamie and Sasha, I liked Autumn's friends a lot. 
Natalie: It was surprising when Angie got pregnant. 
Hannah: It was, but I did like that she never was that mad that she got pregnant. It wasn't what she ever thought would happen, but she ended up being very happy. 
Natalie: And Preppy Dave was so supportive.
Hannah: I thought that they all should have stopped calling him Preppy Dave when they got married.
Now back to hating Jamie. I hated how he thought Autumn was too depressed so he just didn't want to deal with it, even after he had said he wasn't ever going to leave her. He's a horrible boyfriend and person.
Natalie: "Sasha and I have discovered that we have feelings for each other." (page 245) OH REALLY. 
Natalie: So let's talk about Finn's death. I didn't like the way he died.
Hannah: But it's a tragic ending. Like every single book I read in English last year.
Natalie: I understood that the author wanted Finn's death to be Sylvie's fault, but I thought he should have just died in the car crash instead of the freak electrocution. My issue with the ending was that after Autumn tried to kill herself, she realizes that she might be pregnant. Suddenly, she doesn't want to die anymore and everything's going to be perfect and Finn is going to live on through this baby that she might have. It's as if this suicide attempt was completely forgotten and now that she might be pregnant, everything's okay. I loved this book so much, but this ending is the reason I didn't give it five stars.







Ratings (no spoilers beyond this point)

Hannah's Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Natalie's Rating:  ✭✭✭✭1/2

Overall Impression:
Hannah: I loved this book. The characters, the voice, everything was so interesting and unlike anything I've read before. The ending wasn't my favorite, but I still loved this book. 
Natalie: I really enjoyed this book. It was very "character driven" and each of the characters was fantastic. The book was very well written and an addictive read. I took off half a star because I had a problem with the ending, but other than that this book was amazing.


Emma (Hannah's sister), Natalie, Hannah, and Laura Nowlin
We talked to Laura Nowlin after the reading, and she was really nice and funny. Afterwards we explored the Wizard of Oz storybook exhibit and we posed as munchkins.
Hannah, Natalie, and Emma

Aren't we cute munchkins?


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Siege and Storm Review!

Hi everybody!!! Welcome to our blog! Since this is our first post, we're going to quickly introduce ourselves. 
Hannah: I'm Hannah.
Natalie: And I'm Natalie. And we will conversationally review books.
Hannah: I think we should tell them a little more about us, don't you think?
Natalie: I guess.
Hannah: I love to read (obviously), dance, and be annoyed with my dear friend Natalie. I also play viola in my school's orchestra. I'm trying to come up with what my favorite books are, but I can't think of any right now, so here's a link to my Goodreads. I'm currently reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
Natalie: And I think Hannah's insane for reading that giant, 1,000 page monstrosity. 
Hannah: I only have ninety pages left.
Natalie: You're crazy. 
Hannah: *sticks her tongue out at Natalie*
Natalie: I guess I have to introduce myself now...I'm currently reading Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev. Here's my Goodreads and here's a list of things I do:
  • Read (Duh. I feel like we shouldn't even have to say this. Why would someone start a book blog if they don't like to read?)
  • Write
  • Figure skate
  • Play the violin
  • Take care of our blog mascot, Cole the Royal Rat (more on him to come)
  • Annoying my annoying friend Hannah

Hannah: We should probably get on with the review now.
*Drumroll*


Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

(picture and synopsis from Goodreads)



WE WILL SPOIL THE HECK OUT OF THIS BOOK AND THE PREVIOUS BOOK, SHADOW AND BONE. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED, SKIP TO THE RATINGS SECTION!

Hannah: And now we will start reviewing this very very very very pretty book.
Natalie: It's so pretty!!!
Hannah and Natalie: *squealing about the cover and the map and the chapter headings*
Natalie: And now that we've gotten that out of the way...
Hannah: ...we will now begin discussing this book which is as well written as it is pretty.  
Natalie: So apparently the Darkling can create creepy shadow people now. 
Hannah: That was very disturbing, but it was an interesting insight as to how evil he was and how much he hated the traditional Grisha rules since he was actually creating matter, which goes against the nature of their powers.
Natalie: That's very deep. Readers, don't get used to this.
Natalie: The earliest death is this book was Ivan, the Darkling's right hand man. I thought this was surprising since Ivan had played a somewhat important role in Shadow and Bone. His death was fitting though, since he was killed the same way he had killed others.
Hannah: It also shows that the Darkling can be defeated since his right hand man, who had to be powerful to get that position, was taken down. If they can bring down Ivan, the Darkling can't be invincible.
Natalie: Ivan's death was a crack in the Darkling's armor.
While we're speaking of death, I thought an important decision was made when Strumhond decided that they should fight back and hunt the volcra. The volcra were frightening enemies for a long time and when they decided that they weren't going to be afraid of them anymore, the shift in power was notable.
Hannah: Another important power shift was when Alina decided she was tired of being a pawn and symbol and decided to lead the Second Army. I really liked seeing Alina take charge and not just be another figurehead.
Natalie: One of the more disturbing scenes was when Alina rode by the peddlers who were selling supposed relics of her bones. 
Hannah: That was creepy!
Natalie: It was weird that they were worshipping her as a saint when they knew nothing except that she was the Sun Summoner. 
Hannah: Let's talk about Nikolai/Strumhond for a bit.
Natalie: I loved his character.
Hannah: He wasn't my favorite character, but I did like his wit and comebacks.
Natalie: And that is where we differ. He was definitely my favorite character. 
Hannah: Mal was my favorite.
Natalie: I liked him for the most part, except at the end when he was off brooding in the woods and such.
Hannah: Even though Nikolai wasn't my favorite, I enjoyed when he told Alina not to punch him and then kissed her.
Natalie: And he's the younger prince! Did you see that coming?
Hannah: Nope. That was surprising.
Natalie: I didn't even remember that there was a second prince, but it was still out of the blue.
Hannah: Now back to Mal! I liked how Alina made him blush when she told him he was a much better kisser than Nikolai after the don't-punch-me-but-I'm-going-to-kiss-you thing.
Natalie: That was funny.
Hannah: I enjoyed Alina's sarcasm throughout the book.
Natalie: Alina and Mal's banter was hilarious! (For example, the goiter conversation in the first chapter.)
Hannah: Speaking of witty dialogue, one of my favorite lines was when Baghra told Alina "You couldn't make a meat pie from what you know" (page 256). I really love Baghra's character.
Natalie: I felt really bad for her in this book. But what happened to her showed how much the Darkling didn't care about anybody else.
One of my favorite parts was when the Grisha did this: *hand gesture of fingers interlocking*
Hannah: I liked that too, but I'm going to laugh at your description.
Natalie: It's a good description. They converged and did this: *repeat of hand gesture*
Hannah: It works, but it's also funny.
Natalie: It's a good representation of what happened! Are you done making fun of me now?
Hannah: I never said it wasn't a good representation. Moving on...
Natalie: I didn't like the addition of the third love interest in Nikolai. It bothers me that the Darkling is considered a love interest at all. That's like being on Team Warner. Guys, Warner and the Darkling are the BAD GUYS. They can have some redeeming qualities, but that doesn't change the fact that they do bad things and I do not want the protagonist to end up with them. And the whole thing with the Darkling in Alina's bedroom was CREEPY. How can you like the dude when he does stuff like that?
*end of rant*
Hannah: I think your rant covered everything about that topic so...
Natalie: Did you see Vasily being stupid and making a pact with the Darkling coming?
Hannah: Well I certainly saw the being stupid part coming. I didn't predict that he would make the pact with the Darkling, but it wasn't that surprising when I thought about it.
Natalie: Vasily's death confused me. Can you really die from getting your arm ripped off?
Hannah: Well, can't he if he lost enough blood?
Natalie: It seemed like he died very fast. 
Hannah: Well, he did die, so in the least morbid way possible, that's good. 
Natalie: I loved how David was quiet and reserved and then he was all determined and ready to go down fighting in the end.
Here's another one of my favorite parts of the ending. "Only two were unmarked. Tolya and Tamar led the charge, eyes wild, blades flashing, roaring my name." (page 408)
Hannah: I think that Genya will have an important role in the third book, Ruin and Rising, since she is referred to as the Ruined.
Natalie: Time for the ending. Alina really is fulfilling her martyrdom by being willing to die as a saint to stop the Darkling. She's going to earn many more followers even without succeeding.
Hannah: I loved the ending, especially Mal not letting Alina destroy herself to stop the Darkling. 
Natalie: Alina losing her powers is just like the very beginning when she couldn't get her light to come.
Hannah: It was a great ending and book three cannot come soon enough.

Ratings (no spoilers here)

Hannah's Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭
Natalie's Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

Overall Impression: READ THIS NOW. Well, read Shadow and Bone first if you haven't. But Siege and Storm is even better than Shadow and Bone. The Grisha series is unique, engaging, and has really pretty covers.

And here's a picture of the pretty chapter headings and our pretty Shadow and Bone nail polish that we got from Leigh Bardugo at the RT Booklovers Convention.