Thursday, September 30, 2010

turned into a book paparazzo

That's me now, apparently. A book paparazzo. Because when I went to the bookstore today to invite two hardbacks to come live on my bookshelf, I saw so many of the highly anticipated and much-blogged about new releases. And I just couldn't help but get excited to see so many new releases in their pretty hardback forms (and if you happen to be reading this and thinking 'That's what you do when you go to a bookstore - you look at books!' I gotta implore you...WORK WITH ME HERE! :D )

So anyway, if there was a TMZ for big bookstores, I think I'd be working for it.

Some of the books I spotted -
The Replacement (see the pretty hardback in the picture?!)
Paranormalcy (see the pretty hardback in the picture?!)
13 to Life
Low Red Moon (looking particularly shiny in its HB cover)
Dark Song
Zombies vs. Unicorns
And...funnily enough -
The Witches Kitchen (scheduled for release 10.5)
Jane (scheduled for release 10.1)
Empty (scheduled for release 10.1)

The Lost Hero

Yep. Way to go, bookstore! You set out Rick Riordan's Lost Hero almost 2 weeks before it's scheduled to be released. There were only 2 copies when I saw it, but needless to say, the bookstore (which I will not name) made countless teens VERY happy :)

Do you ever get giddy when you browse the YA section? Do you ever stand and stare at all the pretty covers? Hopefully you do, because...I certainly don't want to be the only one!


Faerie Wars (Faerie Wars, #1) - Herbie Brennan
Genre: YA Sci Fi/Fantasy
# of pages: 368
(UK paperback)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Recommended for: 14+
This is book 1 in the Faerie Wars series that I read approximately a year ago. They are not as well known in the US as in their original release country of the UK, so let's try to give them some exposure, eh?
Though this is a "faerie story," the faeries portrayed in this series are unlike any that I've ever read before. Brennan blends fantasy with science fiction to create practically a new style of fiction. Henry's journey from the Analogue World to the Faerie World is, by a long shot, truly unique and exciting. The action definitely starts when Henry and his crusty neighbor find a little faerie in the yard - the previous chapters dealing with Henry's dysfunctional family life are skip-worthy. Once the action gets started, though, there's no stopping it in this story.
This is most certainly a "third person omniscient" story in that you as the reader follow literally EVERY character. Sometimes I felt a bit overwhelmed by the back-and-forth coverage, but as the story progressed, it became very necessary to see the plot unfold from different directions.

Characters: I found the main protagonist - Henry Atherton - very enjoyable and heartwarming and lovably cute! But he's certainly no dummy, and when he finds himself dropped entirely in a new world, he shows readers how resourceful and intelligent he really is. I found myself wondering what I would do if I found myself in the situations he faced. And the faerie brother-sister duo, Pyrgus and Blue, are to this day some of my favorite characters in YA fiction. Blue is the perfect girl character: she's sassy, a wee bit bossy, incredibly intelligent, but never mean or snarky. She and Henry complimented each other perfectly.
Now here's a little disclaimer: I found the series in the Teen Fiction section, and to me that's a very appropriate place. This is a very action-packed series, and yeah there's conflict: and not wishy-washy glossed over conflict, either. These are bad guys who do bad things. I wouldn't use the word "pervasive," but there certainly are violent aspects of the story. To me, I didn't find the violence out of place or even unnaturally had a purpose: to be contrasted with good. Also, some "magick" magic references really steer this series more toward the upper end of YA... Older middle schoolers and high schoolers will just eat this series up.

Overall: A very satisfying beginning to a fun, entertaining 4-part series. I'm certainly glad I gave the Faerie Wars series a try.
Add them to your TBR today!
Final Rating:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The Dark Mirror - Juliet Marillier
Genre: Historical Fantasy (*love* that genre!)
# of pages: 592 (UK edition paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Age Recommendation: 15+

Note: This is not a YA novel, so it's not written to a teen target audience, BUT...upper high schoolers will be able to handle the multiple storylines, battle-scene violence, and historical information just fine
Before I read Wildwood Dancing, THIS book was my absolute favorite historical fantasy novel (as in blending the two genres of historical fiction and fantasy into one). I am such a fan of Juliet Marillier's, and this is my favorite non-YA novel of hers. Absolutely brilliant!
Excellent blend of history and fantasy in a quite unique timeperiod: writing about the 6th century Picts is no easy feat, since most of their culture has been lost. I will caution that this is a very "wordy" book: Juliet Marillier is very good about drawing readers into her story through vividly descriptive passages. In other words, she spends a lot of time, I think, on details, and sometimes that can seem overwhelming. Fact and fiction may blend - and I'm not sure where they meet - but everything is very, very detailed. Sometimes (and I felt this way reading her other book) I think that she could pick up the pace a bit and nothing would be lost, but whatever... It was a fun read. I certainly have found a new character to add to my list of all-time favorites: Bridei himself; it's always good to like the main character. If you've gotta read about 'em, you might as well like 'em. And the little irksome thing from Wolfskin has been entirely reconciled ;) That's another likeable thing about Bridei, heehee. Too bad Eyvind, you've been replaced!
- At its very core, the story revolves around the preparation of a boy, Bridei, to be king of Fortriu (ancient northern Scotland), and his relationship with Tuala, a mysterious foundling he discovers as a child. I absolutely loved their story--it was indeed my favorite part of the book. However, they spend nearly half of the 600+ pages apart from each other; I really liked the scenes where they were together, so I had to discipline myself against skimming ahead! The last 50 or so pages are definitely the best part :) The Bridei & Tuala scenes, I think, are the very heart of the book, and I wish that the 663-page saga would have featured more of them together. Not sure how I feel about Broichan: I flip-flopped between hating him and understanding him. He was certainly an interesting figure, that's for sure.
The only "complaint" I have is that the story, in my honest opinion, didnt have to be so long.
I know, who am I to say something like that? Stories can be however long the author wants them to be!!!!
It's just that her plot has so many twists and turns, I started to see patterns: I could almost sense when she was going to yank the plot in another direction, and after 600 pages, it started to get a bit old. It seems to me that this book had a little too much information: it really wanted to be a historical, it really wanted to be romantic, it really wanted to be a fantasy... And the funny thing is, The Dark Mirror *is* all those things: it's just that Marillier could have heavily simplified and lost nothing of her magic. She is an excellent writer; at no point is she "boring," but she requires a lot of concentration and a lot of stamina. She gives you such a great, simple story and such wonderful characters that you feel impatient and angsty for the resolution to come.

***So great book! I give this a 5 because even though the immense details tend to bog down the plot, her story at its heart is simple and beautiful, and her characters are enjoyable and loveable.

Final Rating

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


(Originally reviewed January, 2010)
Once Upon a Marigold - Jean Ferris
Genre: MG/YA Fantasy
(I found this in the "Young Adult" section at Borders, but... no major distinction between the two)
# of pages: 266 (pb)
Publisher: Harcourt
In the tradition of uber-short reviews from my pre-blogger days, here is my unedited review:

Cold indeed is the heart not made warm by this bubbly fairy-rale romance...Kirkus Reviews

Well said, Kirkus! I never thought I'd find "over-the-top" so funny and refreshing!
Take all the things considered necessary for a good book nowadays: complex, complicated and ultra-flawed characters, excessive backstories, social commentaries, and sad, morbid endings - and flip them over like a flapjack, and you'll have a good idea of what Once Upon a Marigold is. Yes, the characters are lovably simple, yes the story is a bit on the predictable side (that's the nature of fairytales, after all!) and yes, there is a (da-da-dum) HAPPY ENDING! And I loved it all, and so will you!
Here's the setup: a commoner raised by a troll who falls in love with a princess and must rescue said princess when the evil queen plots to take over the throne. Exciting! No, I'm not being sarcastic, it's truly exciting! Somehow, the fact that Jean Ferris wrote this book specifically as a fairytale story makes everything so much easier to digest. You know going in that this is going to be a fun and uplifting read. This story is like Lean Cuisine: it tastes good and it's good for you!
This is a book that definitely wants to be read! I was in Borders about in January, minding my own business, when my eyes fell on this title and its sequel, and I just had to buy them. It's like it wanted me to find it (kind of like the Ring, only not evil and creepy).
So I would recommend this book to anyone who likes being happy! It's a simple read (less than 300 pages) and only took me 2 nights...
"No royal curse,
No Trojan horse,
and a happy ending, of course!"
(Actually, there is a royal curse in this story, but whatever, you get the point!)
This book has just made me giddy-happy, can you tell? Too much realism is bad for the soul! And the stomach! Read Once Upon a Marigold!

A word on the sequel
: I didn't really like Twice Upon a Marigold as much as its adorable predecessor, so I'd say it's an optional read. It's still pretty good, though :)

books for trade!

More books for trade!
I realize I don't have very many right now, but I like to do these posts every few months or so.

For now, I can only do US shipping... :(

All my books are taken care of and are in good condition, and basically they are ones that
  • I have two copies of
  • Will likely not read again
  • Will likely not get around to any time soon
I'm including the really long list of books I'm looking for, just to increase swap chances!

Books to Trade
Beastly - Alex Flinn (pb)
Pastworld - Ian Beck (hb)
Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer (pb)
Howl's Moving Castle - Dianna Wynne Jones (pb)
Pretties - Scott Westerfeld (pb)

Looking For
Just Listen - Sarah Dessen
The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen
Lock and Key - Sarah Dessen
Along for the Ride - Sarah Dessen
Water Song - Suzanne Weyn
I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore
Worldshaker - Richard Harland
The Grimm Legacy - Polly Shulman
Everlasting - Angie Frazier
Artemis Fowl (#1) - Eoin Colfer
The Alchemyst - Michael Scott
Oh My Gods - Tera Lynn Childs
Captivate - Carrie Jones
Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld
Princess of the Midnight Ball - Jessica Day George

See anything? Just shoot me an email at

Monday, September 27, 2010

does everybody know what WEEK it is?!

September 25-October 2, 2010 is Banned Book Week, which draws attention to banned and challenged books in our culture and raises awareness about the right to make informed decisions about what to read for yourself.

The sky is also blue.
Reptiles are cold-blooded.
Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.
And for my last 'duh' statement, Disneyland is outrageously expensive.

I was looking at the 10 Most Challenged books, according to the American Library Association. To be honest, some of the books did not surprise me, but some of them did:

- To Kill a Mockingbird. Reasons include: racism, offensive language, unsuitable to age group.
Now, I get the racism thing, but...that's kind of what the book is about (dealing with racism in 1930s Alabama) so...hmm. How can you write about the flaws present in a heavily racist and prejudicial society without including the issue itself? Very strange.

- Catcher in the Rye. Reasons include: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
Catcher in the Rye is sexually explicit? Really? I must have read a different book. I don't recall any 'explicit' content in this novel, and not going to lie, I'm not a big fan of sexually explicit stuff in books. I'm also not a big fan of zucchini, but I don't think it should be banned, just to clarify :)
And what in the world - religious viewpoint? HUH? I seriously don't remember that at all.

Twilight: sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group.
*shakes head* Poor Stephenie Meyer! The gal just can't win: people are either accusing the book of being sexually explicit (which, let me say, it is NOT) or they're on the other end of the spectrum accusing it of being religiously...whatever. I don't know. Sexually explicit? It could be argued that the book advocates abstinence, for pooh's sake. People will complain about anything!

As I went down the list, the two categories that seemed the most predominant were 'sexually explicit' and 'unsuited to age group.' The problem with both of these categories is that they are rather subjective and don't always convey the whole truth, and I would guess that's the reason why book-banning has gone from being a big issue in our culture to being a gargantuan issue.
The bottom line is, continues to be, and always will be, the right to read and digest whatever material you see fit. That is a decision no one should make for you (except, sorry kids/teens - the job of parents permits them to have an interest in the stuff you're putting into your mind).

I will go a step further, though, and say that the right to read/digest whatever material you see fit is a 2-way street, much like a lot of other issues in our world. (Mind my grammar and pronouns here) Just as someone shouldn't have the authority to prohibit you from access to books, neither should they have the right to force you to read something you don't want to... SCHOOLS! TEACHERS! Alternate assignments and the reading choice of many books is always a good thing, to ensure that your (the teacher/the school's) values do not become mandatory values for everyone else. That is intellectual protection. Ohh, and this is interesting:
Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

- I actually didn't think that the 1st Amendment applied to minors, but apparently it does! Too bad I wasn't aware of that when I was in high school :)

So what was the purpose of this post? Really, I just wanted to take a look at the Top 10 Most Challenged Books, see if I'd read any of them, and look at the reasons why. And the 'reasons why' seem pretty far-fetched, to be honest, and don't tell the whole story. The inclusion of some books on that list does not surprise me at all, but the inclusion of others did. It is absolutely unbelievable to me that after all these years, To Kill a Mockingbird would still be challenged. And Twilight - ? Oh my gosh, banners, really?! You all know it's about vampires. You all know it's a love story. If you don't like it, don't read it!

"The lust to suppress can come from any direction."
- Nat Hentoff, Free Speech for Me But Not Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other

Sunday, September 26, 2010


River Secrets (Books of Bayern, #3) - Shannon Hale
Genre: YA Fantasy
# of pages: 304 (pb)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Originally reviewed in January, 2010
Razo is baffled when he’s invited to join an elite guard escorting the Bayern ambassador to the country’s enemy, Tira, but his ability to befriend nobles as well as common folk makes him an invaluable asset. Unfortunately, charm alone will not be enough to save the mission when Razo stumbles upon a series of gruesome murders.

I'm always interested to see how female authors write their male MCs...and I really liked how Shannon handled having a male protagonist. (It increased my confidence that I could give it a try, too!)
Razo is an awesome character who emerges from a secondary character (The Goose Girl & Enna Burning) to front-and-center in this third installment of the Bayern series. This book reminded me more of a "whodunit? mystery" suspense story rather than the more traditional magical-fantasy combination of the previous two books, so that was a really cool change of focus. In River Secrets, the main character finds his niche the old-fashioned way: through self-discovery and the embracing of special gifts and talents (albeit non-magical ones). I was intrigued by the idea of a boy not being "Mr. Super Soldier" and therefore relying on skills other than brute strength. He reminded me a lot of David--youngest of many brothers, kinda small and scrawny, uses a sling... I found that interesting. No, though, he doesnt spy on a girl while she's bathing, but his romantic interest was certainly a pleasure to read. She's not as "cool and complicated" as Enna, and she's not as eloquent and leader-like as Isi, but she's still rather enjoyable, if not at times a bit too amiable (she doesn't seem to mind being called a "nit" by the MC, which...I kind of would mind, just a little).

Quick Say: As always, Shannon Hale weaves together a strong tale of magic, intrigue, memorable characters, relevant themes, and a unique story world to create a fascinating clean read that can be enjoyed by all ages. Yes, the Books of Bayern certainly make Imagination in Focus' A-Honor Roll!

Final Grade:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In My Mailbox [20]

Just got 2 books this week -

Pastworld - Ian Beck
Lies (Gone, #3) - Michael Grant

^^I just finished Pastworld last night and will start Lies tonight! What did you all get?

Friday, September 24, 2010

to read or to write

What do you like more...

I'm trying to remember what I liked to do most of those two when I was growing up, but I can't remember ever picking one over the other.
This year especially, my writing has been somewhat neglected, and I wonder:
Can reading distract you from writing?

What do you all think? How many of you are prospective authors, too, and do you ever worry about how long it will take you to 'finish that story'?
Never mind 3rd or 4th drafts - I'm just talking 1sts, here!
What do you like best about reading, and what do you like best about writing?

the big spankin' 3-in-1 MORTAL INSTRUMENTS review!

Note: I read all 3 of these books from August-September, 2009. They 3 individual reviews on Goodreads are some of my first ever reviews. What I mean is - they're probably going to sound somewhat stinky :)
Also: this review reflects the opinions of someone who, while considering herself a fan of the MI series, was nonetheless "less than impressed" with Clare's previous fanfiction work, and is not really thinking that 3 more books an originally-planned trilogy is the best idea... Keeping these mentioned things in mind, proceed with caution!

The ongoing story of The Mortal Instruments was definitely interesting/entertaining but still only somewhat original, with many obvious similarities to other works. It's really hard to write "truly original" stories nowadays that don't seem too borrowed, but the fact that Clare wrote very public fanfiction for Harry Potter is a big no-no: the bad thing about fanfiction (from what I've seen on MANY other people's reviews) is it will no doubt be weighted against anything you write in the future... as it is here. The concepts of 'Shadowhunters' and 'Downworlders' I found very interesting, but truly, it could have been so much better if Clare had just skipped the whole 'Nephilim' thing. I'm not really sold on the whole 'Nephilim' idea, even though it is (thankfully) very different from what I've seen other authors do. Plus the word is used incorrectly in dialogue segments, which was amusing, but not really in a good way :)

Technical Writing: Clare's writing style seems a little inconsistent. Sometimes I'd read a passage and think, "Wow, that sounds really cool!" and then a few paragraphs later her sentence structure would just be "off". Also, her characters are a little weird: as in, sometimes their dialogue sounded really muddled. Jace and Alec especially would sometimes speak as if from another time, then a few paragraphs later they'd sound just like average, ordinary teenage boys. Amusing and entertaining story aside, the writing left a lot to be desired.

Characters: not very memorable, but not overtly bad, either. It's funny, because most people I've noticed really like the characters of the MI series, and for me, the best part of the series is the overall story world. That said, I believe that this whole series revolves around Jace Wayland. And no, not because he's a sexypants (I really didn't find him all that "sexy," actually - his attitude a lot of the times was slap-worthy) but because he is by far the most well-rounded character. What I love about Jace is that he undergoes a major character change: the Jace at the beginning of City of Bones (cocky, slap-worthy Jace) transforms to the caring, mature and very lovable Jace at the end of City of Glass. I really hope Clare keeps Jace that way in COFA, but I guess I'll have to wait and see. Other than Jace, the rest of the characters were enjoyable, but they didn't really stand out to me. Clary was so incredibly annoying, and I'm glad that the story wasn't told in her perspective. Especially in City of Ashes and City of Glass, a lot of characters seemed thrown in that didn't need to be there. I've never been an Isabelle fan, and I wasn't really sold on Alec, but he goes along with Magnus, and Magnus Bane is the #2 best character in the series. YA THINK SO?! Authors like JK Rowling and Michael Grant are very skilled at balancing a large ensemble cast of characters, but in this series, which revolves so closely around Clary and Jace, they just seemed unnecessary (I still am wondering what purpose Aline served in Glass, except to tantalize/infuriate Clary-Jace fans like me)
Here is a passage from my original "uncut" review, and I'll post it because I've been told it's funny...
Clary was incredibly annoying and Mary-Sueish. Just because she cusses does not disqualify her from being a Mary-Sue: she's just a Mary-Sue in need of a bar of soap. Simon is the designated Third Wheel character of the series: between Jace and Simon, who would Clary pick?! REALLY?! It's not even a contest. The boy love interest with the most chemistry ALWAYS wins. Always. If it's a CHEMISTRY vs. LOYAL FRIEND scenario, CHEMISTRY always wins.
And there will be 3 more books, apparently. That surprised me, because I figured the story was wrapped up nicely in City of Glass. It always makes me wonder when a series just keeps continuing, because as a "fan," I do wonder about whether or not there's enough meat to continue at all, or if there's even a purpose besides "$$$$$." But I guess, like everyone else, I'll just wait and see.

The Mortal Instruments series is definitely one of the hottest series in current YA fiction, and I definitely consider myself a fan. For enjoyment and entertainment, I would say definitely try this series. It isn't the "best" series out there, in my opinion, nor is it the most cleverly written or the most original, but if you are looking for an entertaining, light series with lots of action (and Ms. Clare KNOWS how to write fight scenes - I always love it when gals can write fight scenes, too!) then check these out! City of Fallen Angels releases this March.

it's gonna get a little CRAY-ZAY!

Way before I started my blog (in December '09) I was firing away reviews on Goodreads. As I checked my 'Reviews' tab, I noticed that several reviews link to Goodreads, instead of this blog. So what I'm going to do is try to transfer reviews from Goodreads to this blog over the next week or so... if you see a LOT of reviews popping up at a crazy-weird pace, that's why! I hope you read them (if you want), but they may be a little long, because they were written during my ramble days and I may or may not have the time to edit them :P

Now I'm off to go find more blogs to follow, because it's FRIDAY!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday!

It's (nearly) Friday again!

Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View. This week, she asks:

My question for you guys, what is your high fashion book? --- translation --- best book cover ever.

Ohh, lots of ones come to mind! But two favorites are also new releases, and I have to spotlight them:

And then hop by Crazy for Books' site to join the Book Blogger Hop! Her question is:
When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

While I'm reading, I make notes on my bookmark to help me write reviews, but I usually don't start the review until I'm finished reading.

If you're new to this site, welcome! Please let me know what your link is so I can follow you too!
Love to see you again :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Low Red Moon - Ivy Devlin
Genre: YA Paranormal
# of pages: 196 (ARC)
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Recommended for: HS & beyond!
My Thoughts
This was a very fast read for me - I read it in just a few hours. The story intrigued me from page one and had me hooked until the very last page. Definitely an enjoyable reading experience in terms of action and excitement!
- Characterization was actually pretty good. There were times, though, when the MC (Avery) and the love interest (Ben) seemed to show emotions prematurely or a little too quickly, but I guess that's fair and understandable if you've got a plot that needs to keep moving. It just made it a little hard to get a feel for the characters because a lot of times, their emotions didn't really make a lot of sense.
One cool thing about Low Red Moon was that I read it with no idea what to expect, so I was able to keep a pretty open mind. I thought the story would be in-your-face WEREWOLVES! And while those creatures are part of the story, it''s just done in a very artful, subtle way. Props to the author for really maintaining suspense throughout.
- As much as I liked Low Red Moon, at times it was a little on the confusing side. At times I felt really unsure of what was supposed to be happening and how prior events were connected. In my opinion, the book could have been longer.
- The ending, for me, could have been better. I guess the ending twist wasn't "twisty" enough, if that makes sense...

Quick Say: Low Red Moon was a fun, paranormal mystery thrill ride, though the plot itself, while engaging, was a little foggy. However, this book was definitely a pleasure to read. It was EXCITING and OVERALL ENJOYABLE, and so I would recommend it!
Content: nothing mature teens couldn't handle: characters make out a lot. Just FYI :)

Final Grade:

Check out other reviews of Low Red Moon by:
The Fiction Enthusiast
Mindful Musings
Reading Addict
Reading Extensively

New layout!

Hey everyone - it's up!
What do you think?
The ever-amazing Danny @ Dreamy Blogs designed the new and improved Imagination in Focus, and I think she did a spectacular job!

Oh, and I have a new button! If you have the time, would you discard the old one and add the new one?
I'm also going to be going to all your sites and making sure I have your buttons, just to be reciprocal!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Feedback Results & Quick Word on Reviews

About a month ago, I put together a feedback survey for my blog just to see if you guys had any thoughts that could help me with blogging in the future. First off, thanks so much to my followers who filled out the survey - I was really blown away by the number of folks who took time to fill it out, so thank you so much!

And the feedback itself was pretty positive. The #1 thing that you all said could do for a change was the blog format and layout. That's good, because I'm having a custom layout being made as we speak, and it'll be up before October, so that's exciting.

One other thing I wanted to touch on was reviews and my reviewing style. I've been a little bummed with my reviews, to tell you all the truth, because frankly I think they're too long. I think they're too long, and that might be why they don't get the kind of feedback (comments) that they used to. So I want you all to know that I will be working on shortening my reviews - hopefully that will make them more readable. Because, from the point of view of the one making the post, the best way to see feedback - and know that people actually give a hoot and read your stuff - is comments. I have a pre-New Year's resolution to get more active on the amount of comments I leave on yall's blogs. Even if it's just a quick "hey, great review/great post!," there's always something that can be said. So that's what I'm going to work on.

Thanks again, folks, for stickin' around. Right now I have 2 reviews and 2 other posts I'm working on. Have an awesome day :)

Monday, September 20, 2010


My teaser review, originally posted August 18, can be found HERE.

The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff
Genre: YA Fantasy/Horror# of pages: 343 (ARC)
Amelia's Age-Level Recommendation:
My Thoughts
:I absolutely adored the originality of The Replacement. I think the fact that this is the author's first published book is phenomenal. The story's major strength was in its imagery and attention to detail. The eerie town of Gentry and the House of Mayhem under the slag heap were so detailed, so vividly imaginative, that it turned Replacement from a fun book to an edge-of-the-seat thrill ride.
The characters were also fleshed out very well and very creepily, I might add. The Morrigan and the "creatures" of her court were so hideously delightful, unlike anything I've read before. I liked how they were portrayed, too. They weren't evil, and yet they were so creepy and so ominous that you couldn't help but feel apprehensive. Side note: Don't you just love it when books make you FEEL? Though the story deals with 'changelings' I liked how The Replacement seemed to have its own original, tailor-made folklore. Never once did the word 'faerie' get attached to any of the characters, therefore I felt like I was reading a brand-spanking new take on an old concept. I'm almost positive you haven't read anything like this before.
As to the MC himself, Mackie Doyle is one of the most endearing, likable and heroic guys I've seen in YA fiction in a loooooooong time. You could not find a better guy to root for in a story like this. His voice is perfect.
All these things being said...
I would be lying if I said that this book exceeded my expectations. I have a major bone to pick with whoever wrote the synopsis that goodreads posted for this book. What happened was I went into the book thinking it was going to be like "X" and what I got was "Z" instead. It's not the author's fault that I was expecting this book to be different... so I'd say don't pay a lot of attention to the synopsis on goodreads, because what it says the story is about is a little different from what's actually in the book, and so it made reading a little confusing. Also, once again (and I say this a lot) I had issues with the pacing of the story. Way too much high school melodrama subplots and not really enough of a focus on the "creatures" until halfway in.

Note: sometimes high school subplots or focus is a good thing, because it sets up the story and adds more of a flavor to what is going on, including backstory (a good example of this is NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh) but here, in my opinion, it just proved distracting

Replacement's thriller/suspense tone was offset by high school popularity issues, two chapter-long parties (with drinking of course, because if you have a story about teens you HAVE to include beer) and 6 pages to describe 1 concert. It may sound like nitpicking, but in a fantasy story with horror overtones, those things got REALLY distracting and for me threw the pacing off. There were also a few characters who seemed to be thrown in for no real purpose (like Alice), and other characters who didn't seem very developed. For example, a large chuck of the story has to do with Mackie's relationship with his parents and sister, and I didn't think there were near enough scenes that really explored those dynamics, so when the climax rolled kind of missed that emotional home run. **Plus it seemed like the book couldn't make up its mind about Mackie's characterization**: supposedly Mackie is so different from everybody else and also a "freak," yet he has a large support system of friends and at least two girls interested in him. That doesn't really say "freak" and "loner" to me, so it was hard for me to really wrap my mind around Mackie, because he seemed a little contradictory in character portrayal.
And to be real honest (which is why I have this blog), the ending segments were a little too convenient. **For those of you who have already read this, I'd love to get your thoughts on this, too** The story started out moderately-paced, then raced to finish itself. It just kind of seemed like the "confrontation" wimped out a little. That's not going to make a lot of sense, probably, unless you read the story.
I do want to remind everyone that the above opinions are just that, and reflect my reading experience. They are just things I noticed when I was reading that seemed to work for me, and seemed to not work quite so well. **As to content, be aware that there is strong language throughout this book, as well as some moderate-level sexual content, again just FYI for the viewer's discretion.

Final Rating:
I'm very grateful to Razorbill for sending me a copy of The Replacement, and I'm going to treasure my eerie-pretty ARC for a long time!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In My Mailbox [19]

Pretty steady week. I've still got 2 books in transit from Amazon

(PS - if you are a college student, this year you can sign up for *FREE* Amazon Prime)

I swapped with Natalie @ Mindful Musings and gotLow Red Moon by Ivy Devlin - which I finished and will review later this week.

What did you all get?

Ohh, PS again! The TOMS founder guy came to our school the other day:
He is one tan dude :) TOMS are awesome shoes, by the way. Hooray for TOMS!

Have a great week, everybody!

Hip Hip Hooray for 400 Followers!

Hey everybody -
just want to say a big WOWEE because Imagination in Focus hit 400 followers yesterday!
I honestly can't believe it.
Thank you all very much - it means the world to me to have such loyal, fun followers who actually read all the weird stuff I post :)

Special thanks to Natalie at Mindful Musings who has been a mentor and friend from Follower #1, and to Juju @ Tales of Whimsy, Melissa @ I Swim for Oceans, Steph @ Steph the Bookworm, Christina @ Reading Extensively, and all the other fab folks who stop by to read, comment, and talk about books!

Have an awesome weekend, folks! Thank you AGAIN!

PS - watch for a GIVEAWAY coming soon!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday!

It's almost Friday again!
This week, for the first time I'm doing Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee at Parajunkee's View
This week our hostess asks:

My question for you guys, favorite YA, or do you stick to the adult reads?

YA is definitely the bulk of what I read. A little variety is always good, and usually when I shake things up, it's either historical fiction or "basic grownup" fantasy. I usually consider YA & MG together, but sometimes when I get a little tired of "teen voices" I'll go hang out with middle-school age characters, and vice-versa. Young Adult fiction has enough variety as it is!

And I'm also doing the Book Blogger Hop!
If you're new to this site, welcome! Please let me know what your link is so I can follow you too!
Love to see you again :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Review - HUNGER (Gone, #2)

Hunger (Gone, #2) - Michael Grant
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy
# of pages: 590 (hb)
Age-Level Rating: 14+ (upper middle school; perfect for high schoolers)

Quick Say: An awesome second installment, heavy on action and suspense. Not quite as strong as Gone (Hunger kind of stumbles with its multiple character perspectives and hectic plots) but still an enjoyable and completely absorbing read!

My Thoughts:
Michael Grant is definitely an author with a knack for action-driven stories that are heavy on suspense and excitement. Gone was a great beginning book for the series: it established the problem (all growups "poof" out and leave kids to fend for themselves) and dealt with the power struggles that ensued between the townies and the dysfunctional delinquents over at Coates. Hunger was therefore able to go more in-depth on the problems of the FAYZ: three months have gone by, and supplies and food are drastically depleted. What was so cool about this book was that - while I was reading it - I forgot that I was reading a fictional sci-fi/fantasy thriller. I was so wrapped up in "oh my gosh! what are they going to DO?!" and really feeling all the agitation and the anxiety that the characters felt. I read this 500+ page thing in 2 days, lordy lord! That's pretty good for me! I seriously could not put it down.

The (main) characters are all so incredibly dynamic. Just wanna give a quick shout-out to Dekka - I absolutely love her "go get'em tiger" personality. SHE needs to lead the FAYZ! Sam/Astrid and Caine/Diana went together very nicely - when I found myself annoyed at Sam and Astrid (and unfortunately, I did at times) I had Caine and Diana to balance the story out. Most of the main characters are portrayed in Hi-Def and so it made it incredibly easy to relate to them - the good guys and the not-so-good guys - and really care about what was going on with them. I personally find it really interesting that Grant has created an antagonist, Caine (cause technically that's what he is) that I actually care about. Maybe Caine's not bad enough - that's more like Drake - but I really enjoyed his scenes. He's such a megalomaniac, but perhaps a misunderstood megalomaniac?
I will say, though, that characterization and plot, two things that Grant knows how to handle really well, got a little hectic in this installment. I *do* like the large ensemble cast of characters, BUT in this story, I think there were a little too many perspectives, too many characters to keep track of. Also, if Sam and Astrid just got together at the end of Gone, it seems a little early (to me) for them to already be having problems. But then again, they didn't have very many scenes together, and the few scenes they did have together they spent bickering. Maybe the spotlight will be on them a little more in Lies.
The same characterization notice also applied to the plots, here. I think there were so many things going on in this particular installment, that they just didn't seem fully covered. There's a major food shortage in the FAYZ. Caine and gang are trying to make a big for power again. The Darkness wants to be fed. Something's up with Petey. Albert wants to keep the flame of capitalism alive. Lots of really cool plot points that didn't really seem to get an even amount of coverage. It's totally cool to have different things going on, but toward the end, things just seemed rushed.
Another awesome installment to a new favorite series. I can't wait to get my hands on Lies.

Final Grade:

Favorite Quotes [3]

Some more favorite quotes!

And last but not least... a little bit of Poe:

Sorry if they're hard to read. Enjoy, and have a great night!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: NEVERMORE

I'm going to backtrack a little and feature my new favorite (but previously read) book Nevermore for my TT!
So here is my teaser, from Nevermore by Kelly Creagh:

"He pushed her through and Isobel stumbled over the threshold, into her bedroom. There, in her bed, she saw herself - asleep.
'Learn to awaken within your dreams, Isobel,' he called after her, 'or we are
all lost.'
Behind her, the door slammed shut."
pg. 249

Okay seriously, have you read this yet? Is it on your TBR? It needs to be!
Here's my review of Nevermore in case you missed it.

What are you reading this Tuesday?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Glad My Teacher Made Me Read..

Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
What I Liked/Remembered Most: one of my favorite literary characters of all time, Lord Sebastian Flyte...and of course, his rockin' sidekick, Aloysius (the teddy bear extraordinaire). I seriously love this book! Awesome, awesome themes and a very haunting writing tone.
I have a good mind not to take Aloysius to Venice. I don't want him to meet a lot of horrid Italian bears and pick up bad habits. - Sebastian, keeping in mind that Aloysius is, after all, a teddy bear.

The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
What I Liked/Remembered Most: this is probably my all-time favorite classic. Can't say enough how awesome it is. The first time I heard this story, it was an annotated children's edition that one of my teachers read to us. Then it was assigned 8th grade year, I think. Dostoevsky is definitely best remembered for Crime and Punishment, but this story is the winner, in my opinion.
"Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love."

Candide - Voltaire
What I Liked/Remembered Most: probably that a classic could be weird, funny, bawdy, insightful, tragic, frustrating, and educational all at the same time. Classics usually elicit a yawn or a moan/groan from students, right? Definitely not so with this book! From Dr. Pangloss to that old woman (and her bottom) and our endearing but incredibly, frustratingly stupid main character, Candide, Voltaire's masterpiece certainly doesn't disappoint.

The Divine Comedy
- Dante
What I Liked/Remembered Most: "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate". Ahh, yes, and imagine my surprise when I saw that inscription above one of my English classrooms. Very nice, teachers! But let's forget the fact that this is a really old, really well-known classic and think about what exactly Dante did: he created his own version of Hell, and populated it with people he didn't like. There's just something sardonically amusing about that. But anyway, it's epicness can't be matched. You go, Mr. Dante!

Ethan Frome - Edit Wharton
What I Liked/Remembered Most: If ever there was a book that was made by its scenery, it's Ethan Frome. I originally found it hard to like this book (not a lot of action and not very many characters) but I remember the eeriness of cold, rural Massachusetts and I remember feeling the characters' desperation and longing. Very short, but very powerful. Thank you, professor, for making me read this! It was time well spent, after all!

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
What I Liked/Remembered Most: I remember that this was the very first dystopian novel I read/was required to read, and I still haven't read anything to match it (Brave New World was effectively creepy, but a little too weird to take 451's place). The concept of the book burning was so simply, artistically disturbing. A few quotes I remember:
""With scho
ol turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers and swimmers, instead of examiners, critics, knowers and imaginative creators, the word intellectual, of course, became the swear word it deserved to be."
"We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?"

The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis
What I Liked/Remembered Most: this is allegory at its greatest and brilliance. C.S. Lewis is effective, but he's not always cute and cuddly and moonbeams and rainbows. And this book not only opened my eyes, it held up a mirror and thoroughly made me think. What if I was a passenger on that train? Would I stay in Heaven or would I return back to what I knew, even if it made me miserable? The image that stands out clearest in my mind, though, is the man with the red lizard. Read it for yourself!
"Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it."

Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
What I Liked/Remembered Most: So glad our class read this instead of Tess of the Doohickies. That seems to be Hardy's most famous work, so I'm glad we read this instead. It seems like the more emotional (and tragic) a classic is, the more it'll stay with me. I don't know of many more poignant, desperate, striving characters in fiction than Jude. His story is inspiring and heart-wrenching all at once. Certain scenes, too, I'll always remember...namely Jude on the road to University. Sometimes when I get annoyed with college, I remember Jude - who isn't even real - and I remember how incredibly lucky I am to have what he sought so hard to gain.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
What I Liked/Remembered Most: as far as books go, this one was okay. But it is so cool to be able to say, "Why yes, Sophisticated Person! I have indeed read something by Solzhenitsyn!" This is a perfect example of the awesome blend of history and literature. And there's just something enjoyable about the raw, sometimes bleak but equally descriptive style of Russian writers.

Paradise Lost - John Milton
What I Liked/Remembered Most: this "book" gets the credit for making me think "huh, poetry is actually pretty cool." Yes, this is an epic poem, and yet it is a fascinating story that seems to supplement the Bible. When we think of Michael, and Lucifer, and even Adam and Eve, we're (a lot of times) thinking of how they're portrayed in Milton's epic, as opposed to the actual Bible. That's pretty powerful fiction. There's one passage in particular that I've remembered all these years:
This having learnt, thou hast attained the sum Of Wisdom; hope no higher, though all the Stars Thou knew’st by name, and all th’ ethereal Powers, All secrets of the deep, all Nature’s works, Or works of God in Heav’n, Air, Earth, or Sea, And all riches of this World enjoy’dst, And all the rule, one Empire: only add Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add Faith, Add Virtue, Patience, Temperance, add Love, By name to come called Charity, the soul Of all the rest: then wilt though not be loth To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess A paradise within thee, happier far.
Hmm, John Milton really liked his commas!

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
What I Liked/Remembered Most: this book is full of memorable images: Madame Defarge knitting the names of her victims, Lucie Manette holding her old father in the beginning, Sidney Carton, walking up to the guillotine... and of course, the iconic "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Another classic that deliciously blends history into its intricate storylines. Though tied with Bleak House for my favorite Charles Dickens novel, ATOTC is a classic in every sense of the word that should be devoured by everyone at least three times. :)

- Thomas More
What I Liked/Remembered Most: ohh, so many reasons why this book made the list! So clever, so interesting, so amusingly dysfunctional, this society that Thomas More created. I'm actually of the opinion that Utopia is actually nothing of the sort. Is it satire? Is it to be taken seriously? Different opinions, I guess. I think the most amusing part has to do with choosing spouses: prospective brides and grooms must see each other stark naked first, in order to prevent later physical dissatisfaction. Hmm. Whether gravely series or bitingly satirical, it's too bad Thomas More isn't walking among us today, haha. His views of private property aside, he'd make a legit president.

Okay, so that's my list! And here's Honorable Mention (classics that I love, but read on my own time instead of in school): Les Miserables, Animal Farm, Bleak House, Don Quixote, The House of the Seven Gables.

Which books would make your list?
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