Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Words: Project for Awesome & World Book Night

Every year on December 17 and 18, the Project for Awesome takes place on YouTube. People create videos supporting their favorite charities to get the word out, and then viewers can play a hand in spreading these great causes and can even have a voice in which organizations may get a little bit of financial help.

How it works: Watch videos tagged "Project for Awesome", "P4A", or something of that nature. Like and comment on YouTube on the videos you like, and if you have Twitter, tweet about it! For every comment made and every tweet including #p4a, 1 penny will be donated to The Foundation to Decrease World Suck (essentially the giant pot from which funds will be divided). If you REALLY like an organization, go to the Project for Awesome website and vote for that video. The top videos that get the most votes will be the organizations that get the money. Pennies aren't the only way money is donated. An Indigogo campaign is currently happening where people can buy perks, or you can just donate to the Foundation (in the US, it's tax deductable!)

Anyway, my video this year is all about World Book Night, an organization which every year on April 23rd organizes thousands of volunteers to give away half a million books FOR FREE. It's an incredible cause and as someone who got to be a Giver this past April, it means a lot to me. So please, watch my video, vote, RT, share links, Tweet, Tumble, all of the things! As of writing this post, my video has 125 views (which in YouTube is peanuts - "successful" channels get hundreds/thousands of views and considering I have 430 subscribers, that means a lot of people aren't watching). Last year my P4A video got 234 videos (still peanuts), so I'm hoping for at least that many again this year. World Book Night is a fantastic cause, so this is me shamelessly begging for a signal boost. They deserve it.

DFTBA! That's "Don't Forget to be Awesome" for you non-Nerdfighters out there :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Running Around in History: Ruby Red

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell (Precious Stone Trilogy #1)
Henry Holt, 2009

This is one of those great cases when I've had a book around for a while, finally read it, kick myself for not having read it sooner, then am a little bit grateful that I waited because the entire series is out so I can read the whole thing without waiting for releases!

Gwyneth Shepard has always been pretty unremarkable in the eyes of her family. Sure this London teen can see and talk to the occasional ghost, but that's nothing compared to her sophisticated cousin Charlotte who was born with a genetic alteration that means she can travel in time and fulfill a centuries-old prophecy. Except, apparently she wasn't because Gwyneth is the one who finds herself being flung into the past with absolutely no training about what to do or idea what this means. Now Gwen must fill her cousin's shoes on a quest, navigate an old and secretive order, and work with Gideon, another time traveler who is insufferable and insanely handsome.

This book is a great example of modern sci-fi fun. It has a little bit of everything I like. A great central friendship between Gwen and her BFF Lesley. Some fun paranormal aspects with ghosts and of course time travel. A dash of family drama. A swoony and complicated boy in Gideon. A mystery that has been around for hundreds of years. In the wrong hands, this could be an overwhelming and cliche-wrought story, but luckily for readers, Gwen has an attitude that you can't help but root for and Gier has crafted a world that you want to learn more about.

Once I started, I couldn't stop, and I immediately checked out the two sequels Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green so I can finish out the trilogy as soon as possible! Also, major props to translator Anthea Bell. These books were originally written and published in German, and the translation is fantastically done in that nothing feels lost or words misguided. I even hope to someday read this book in the original German (if I can last that long in Duolingo!).

If you're in the mood for a fun series that takes on history with a dash of fantasy/paranormal with a fun protagonist, learn from my mistake and don't let this book sit on your shelf any longer!

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Words: Slacking

Sorry, Internet! My very late post is a result of getting wrapped up in, what else, a book. Specifically, a series. The Precious Stones Trilogy by Kerstin Gier, to be exact.

I love it when I find series late. Like with this one. The final book just came out last month, I believe. Well, in English anyway. The series was originally written in German. And I love it. I inhaled book one, Ruby Red. I even checked out books 2 and 3 from my library before I finished the first one because I knew this was something I'd want to fly through.

So here's to the series that take us by surprise. Better late than never. :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nineties Nostalgia: Attachments

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Dutton, 2011

I was only 12 years old when the world was obsessed with Y2K and what would happen when we rolled over from 1999 to 2000. Social media didn't really exist. Email was barely a thing. Cell phones were starting to become common, but for talking, not texting. It was in many ways a simpler time, and in her debut novel Attachments, Rainbow Rowell made me nostalgic for it in this cute office romance.

Lincoln doesn't really have much of a life. He's in his mid/late 20s, still lives with his mom, and works nights at a company doing IT. But really, his primary task at work is email surveillance, making sure employees are using their work-issued email accounts appropriately. He's supposed to send warnings, and he usually does, except for Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but get wrapped up in their conversations back and forth, their hilarious tales, their highs and lows of their personal lives. He should stop, but once he realizes he's fallen for Beth, how can he? And how could he ever introduce himself to her now?

Rowell took the YA world by storm this year with Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, but after reading so much dystopian YA, I wanted something different, but still wanted a taste of this author everyone's been talking about. Attachments was a perfect choice. Lincoln is a good guy who has found himself in a terribly awkward situation (with really no one to blame but himself), and I found myself rooting for him and cringing at the same time. Meanwhile, Beth and Jennifer's friendship is unlikely and flawed and so natural. I was as invested in their conversations as Lincoln was.

All in all, Attachments is an adult novel with definite young adult appeal that was a cute look at a time not so far past. "Adorable" is a word that comes to mind, secondary characters back up a great and quirky leading cast, and in a time where technology is so prevalent, it was refreshing to step back and see how people are still people behind the screens. If you're looking for a fast and fun story, this is the one for you. I'm even more excited to read Rowell's other works now.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Rainbow Rowell's Website
Rainbow Rowell on Twitter
Rainbow Rowell on Tumblr

Monday, December 2, 2013

The 4th Annual Holiday Readathon!

A few years ago at an Anderson's Bookshop event, I met Liza Wiemer. She was outgoing and awesome and totally didn't care that my little blog here is, well, tiny. Or that I had no idea what I was doing. Or that I still thought an ARC was only a type of boat that carried lots of animals two-by-two. But we got to know each other and she's awesome, and so I'm thrilled to be participating in her 4th Annual Holiday Readathon with a giveaway opportunity.

My prize? I'll talk about (almost) anything you want me to talk about on my YouTube channel! I'll read a book of your choice, ramble on a topic, do a goofy challenge, or just give you a huge shoutout - I'm pretty flexible, and if you win, we'll talk it out to make sure we're on the same page. (Being appropriate, nothing offensive or anything that could get me in trouble/fired/etc. You get the idea.)

So yeah. Yay! If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please fill out the Rafflecopter below and check out all the other amazing participants and mini-challenges/giveaways over at Liza's blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Choose Your Fate: Champion

Champion by Marie Lu (Legend #3)
Putnam, 2013

Since this review is about the final book in a series, there may be some spoilers for books 1 and 2 ahead - you have been warned!

It is this reader's opinion that readers who have stuck with June and Day through their many highs and lows in Legend and Prodigy will not be disappointed with this dystopian trilogy's conclusion in Champion.

It looks like peace between the Republic and the Colonies could actually be within reach, but when a plague outbreak hits the Colonies, a revival of an old war seems inevitable. It may be up to the Republic's darlings June and Day to save them all, but it would mean sacrificing even more to a country that has robbed them of so much. Can June unlock the key to her country's defense? Can Day keep what remains of his life safe? Or will the costs for each of them be too high?

When I read Prodigy last year, I complained that I didn't quite understand how all of the pieces of this future society fit together. I was incredibly confused about how the Patriots fit into the picture and what exactly all the fighting was about. It wasn't until I read Champion that I realized the error was my own - I simply read Prodigy too quickly because when I took my time with this final installment, things made much more sense. The Republic and the Colonies were how the US split in two. The Patriots don't have a particular allegiance to either one: their goal is to try to reunite the United States. Realizing that made things so much easier.

This book continues with everything that has made the Legend series so popular before: dynamic dual points of view, plenty of action scenes, some political intrigue and strategizing, swoon-worthy sequences that will pull at your heartstrings and punch you in the gut. All in all, I was so completely satisfied with the conclusion of this series as a reader. Lu makes some bold moves here and I appreciated how they fit in to the conclusion. I wouldn't have made some of these choices myself, but for this story, it worked.

If you've liked the Legend series so far, don't wait to get your hands on this fantastic finale.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Marie Lu's Website
Marie Lu on Twitter