Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer wouldn't be summer without a last-minute giveaway (for me, that is)

Oh, hey! You should know: I do love my giveaways. I always end up writing a blog post about them--but that's probably because they get me extra entries too, and you know how much of a greedy little slimeball I can be with these kinds of things.

Plus, I can't wait to share them with you anyway. Here goes!

Book Crazy's Firelight giveaway is open only to US/Canada and ends on September 12th. WOAH. That's a whole lotta time to procrastinate (but if I were you, I would definitely not procrastinate on this one).

I am telling you, this cover is made of pure win.

And wow, I thought the excerpt was pretty nice. I'd tap that. :D

Plus, there's more! The amazing Lisa Desrochers is holding a September Debut Author Contest on her blog to celebrate not only her book Personal Demon's debut, but also fellow debut author Kody Keplinger's The DUFF's introduction to society!

Heck yeah, that's a good thing!

Hey! You know, stop staring at me and just enter already.

Because you are definitely going to miss out if you forget.

It ends on September the 24th, which is a long ways away. But trust me, you don't want to miss the chance!

So don't delay, enter today! You know you want to.

Top Ten Tuesday - My Favourite Female Heroines!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers' answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND sign Mister Linky at the original post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Don't worry if you can't come up with ten every time..just post what you can!

Yes, it's Wednesday. And yes, I'm late for another weekly meme. (Is that ever a surprise anymore?) But I just couldn't resist! Forgive me? I'll even tell you a story.

Tuesday was just around the corner, and I told her, "Good gosh, woman, slow down! You've got me huffin' and puffin', I swear, next time I just might--"

"Blow your house down, I know, I know." She rolled her eyes, just as I was wondering whether the days of the week actually had any body parts. "What do you want now?" Tuesday sighed and bent down to tap my nose, her eyebrow cocked. "You're late for a weekly meme again?"

I sputtered. "No, no, of course not! Since when have I ever been late?"

And that's when she told me to reclaim her day.

Really, I'm just doing my duty, is all. Now to the good stuff!

My Top Ten Female Heroines In No Particular Order, Lest Anyone Think I Have Favourites, Because These Lovely Ladies Are Certainly Strong Enough To Take Me On

1. Katniss Everdeen, from the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Good gosh, is there any list complete without your presence, Ms. Everdeen? She is honestly one of the best female protagonists out there--street-smart, practical, courageous, independent... With such a killer arsenal right there, it's amazing she doesn't get a big head. Yes, her naivete when it comes to her appeal and Peeta's obvious infatuation was a bit irritating. But she made up for it by being such a strong character.

2. Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
This one was a no-brainer. No, I'm definitely not talking about you, Hermione! I mean, I am but--ah, whatever. Hermione's definitely one of my favourites; I mean, I haven't read many books that feature bookish heroines who are still undoubtedly part of the action. She can keep up with Harry and Ron, and even though she sometimes annoys them to their respective boiling points, it's always clear that they need her as much as she needs them. Equals 'til the end!

3. Sarah Agnes Prine, from the Sarah Series by Nancy E. Turner
What can I say, I do love my feisty heroines. Ms. Prine is just one of those stubborn, determined and strong women and I have to say, I love that we get to see her journey from an illiterate 17-year old in 1880s, to a fierce young woman who's far more than just a decent shot, to a married woman with a family and a loving husband. I've only read the first book, These is My Words, but I love Sarah's sharp character so I'm looking forward to reading the rest of her journey.

4. Cassie, from Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Cassie has one of those minds rooted firmly into reality--so when the Polar Bear King comes to visit during a snowstorm, just like the stories that her Grandma told her when she was little, she thinks it's all a hallucination. Big mistake!

Oh, Cassie was such an amazing character to read about. She's definitely her own person; she has doubts, she second-guesses about giving up her dreams to pursue true love and finds a way to make it all work. And when the consequences catch up to her, she uses her courage and her intelligence to solve what may be an impossible quest. Just wow.

5. Jessica Packwood, from Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Like Cassie, Jessica is logical. To sum it all up, her favourite subject is Math. So when Lucius Vladescu visits her home and tells her that she's a Romanian vampire princess and that he has to marry her to prevent a full-scale vampire war, she thinks he's two nuts short of the loony bin.

And, as you can tell with Cassie, I just love this sort of reaction. It's so realistic! How would you react if it happened to you? There's no question of her intelligence--not too mention, she's also a competitive horseback rider! She definitely has a good head on her shoulders, this one.

6. Frederica, from the eponymous novel by Georgette Heyer
There's something about Heyer that I just love--her Regency romances are the wittiest little packages you'll ever read and the romance is well-developed too. Frederica is my favourite Heyer--no doubt about it!

Frederica is a spinster, who has her hands full what with her excitable little brothers, a beautiful sister who needs help with her come-out, and quite possibly the most delightful dog in the history of the world (ever!). She's genuinely selfless, patient, and sensible--definitely not a silly chit nor a dull bore. Plus, she has the most wicked wit, which is made apparent in her exchanges with her cousin, the handsome Marquis of Alverstoke. Such a delight!

7. Jena, from Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Whenever I think of the words "Favourite book" I think of Wildwood Dancing immediately. It's not only because the plot is just amazing, the writing style poetic, and the premise just marvelous. (A retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses! In Transylvania!) It's actually because of the quiet well of intelligence and strength that is Jena.

She's the practical one out of all five sisters of Piscul Dracului in Transylvania, and she views herself as the plain sister. But she doesn't wallow in self-pity--she helps her father run his business as merchant, and once disaster strikes, she's the one who stands up and takes responsibility. Admirable, I'll have to say. And seriously, her pet frog Gogu? I love his role in all of this.

8. Ella, from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Ella was such a joy to read--a spunky, stubborn heroine who endures a whole lot of bad (due to her 'gift' of obedience) but not without putting up a fight! The thing I love most about her is how, instead of turning her into a dull mindless vegetable (not that I have anything against vegetables), her curse actually intensified her stubbornness. And I found it heartening to have such a strong female character who isn't afraid to love, and knows the true meaning of love.

9. Antonia Lucia Labella, from The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas
What can I say? I absolutely loved Antonia's voice. She was so hilarious, what with her flirting techniques, the letters she sends to the Pope as she hopes to become the first living saint, and the snippets of her family life that you see through her narrative.

She's witty, and has a very warm and genuine belief in her religion. She doesn't come across as preachy at all--actually, I forgot I was reading something religious! She's probably the most ordinary out of this lot, but I just admire her for the strength of her convictions. Even though she's probably not going to get that Living Saint title, she doesn't lose hope. And I just loved that.

10. Katsa, from Graceling by Kristin Cashore
She's like Katniss, except she's in a fantasy instead of a dystopian. Look, even their names are similar! Okay, I'm not suggesting that plagiarism has occurred; I mean, two amazing, strong, talented and smart heroines are not necessarily a bad thing.

But here's the thing: though they do have similarities, Katsa definitely shines on her own. The true nature of her Grace was a bit too much for me; but her humanity and her vulnerability, evident even when she was trying her best to appear untouchable (perhaps heightened because of it), is enough to guarantee her a spot on this rambling list.

Check out the original post @ The Broke and The Bookish for other lists, the chance to join in, and Kimberly's original Top Ten!

Twilight Got Banned?

I'd never given much thought to how I would die-- though I"d had reason enough in the last few months-- but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this...

So begins the book that started it all--fangirls, fanboys, movies, merchandise, a whole slew of 'Unofficial Guides', the recent surge in paranormal romances in the YA section, some Bella Swannabes anxiously sighing and waiting for their own Edward Cullens...and the revival, if I may hazard to say, of the young adult genre.

And by revival, I'm not saying that Stephenie Meyer is the Queen of YA and that we must all bow down to Her Graciousness. No, what I mean is that a whole slew of reluctant readers, a new generation of teens, have suddenly discovered a whole genre catering to their wants, needs and desires. They're buying books, reading books, sighing over books, recommending books, reading books, squealing over books and well, they're reading books.

And I'm totally loving that.

At one point, I was a hardcore Twi-nut. Seriously. I had chapter headings, exact word-for-word quotes, descriptions, and scenes memorized. I fantasized about Edward, felt how it was to be awkward, clumsy, plain Bella Swan, swooned at the Meadow scene, started guarding my thoughts (just in case someone was listening), scoured the Internet for fanfiction, and even chose my vampire superpower once I was turned. (It was lightning speed reading skills, by the way).

And it came at pretty good time in my life too--I was this awkward, insecure, perpetually bored newly teenaged girl, waiting for some excitement in my life. Okay, let's face it. I still am awkward, insecure, teenaged girl, but back then, I was nursing an insane crush and was letting my thoughts roam all over the place. I was desperate for some romance in my life and I sure as heck wasn't going to embarrass myself to get it.

Then I read a book review on Twilight in the local youth paper, and I thought, "Ooh, vampires. That sounds like it might freak out my mom." Then I noticed the word 'romance'. And I knew that I just had to get it.

-insert Edward Cullen obsession here-

Needless to say, I found it perfect. I reread the book 6 times before I branched out to fanfiction. And after that got a bit repetitive, I started looking for novels with the same bite (pun intended) that would propel me into the heady swooning-sighing-reading rush that I got from Twilight.

Four years later, I can't read the book without having to skim, thinking of creepers and getting furious over Bella's passivity. But one thing hasn't changed: I haven't stopped reading.

The reader in me (missing since childhood) returned the day I read that book review. And I have to thank Stephenie Meyer for that. If it wasn't for Twilight, I probably wouldn't be as voracious a reader of the YA genre, nor would I have been compelled to find quality literature.

And I swear, books have taught me way more than those four walls I'll be confined in starting next week.

They showed me injustice, evil, intolerance, hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness, along with the consequences and the best way to conquer them. They showed me courage. (I'm looking at you, Atticus Finch.) They showed me love.

But they also showed me that there will always be a little piece of evil in the world, and sometimes it will be overwhelming. Yet, instead of being cowed, we should stand up and stare it right in the eye.

And well, censorship is one of those evils. The fact that such a squeaky clean book like Twilight has been dubbed "sexually explicit" with "offensive language" and then subsequently banned just strikes me.

Because now I'm thinking about those other teenagers, teenagers like me who might have been bitten by the reading bug earlier on but have pretty much forgotten the allure of the written word. Teenagers who could benefit so much more from reading a good book. Reluctant readers who might not discover the power of literature because of this ban, which is just shameful.

Because I just know how good that reading rush feels.

On a side note: I am perfectly aware that Twilight is not exactly quality literature, seeing as it promotes abusive relationships, unhealthy co-dependence and just about the weakest female protagonist I have ever read about.

But the way I see it, Twilight is just the appetizer in a full-course literary extravaganza--it makes you eager to devour other similar books, and with the help of a good librarian (or maybe those fanfiction profiles), finding better books (with a much more active heroine, please) won't be such a daunting task.

Plus, some good news! After four days, the school lifted the ban on Twilight. I'm by no means an advocate for the series, but teens should be able to answer the famous "To read or not to read?" query for themselves.

Waiting on Wednesday: The DUFF

For a second there, I was considering titling this post Waiting on Wednesday: School but I just couldn't bear to torture myself like that. It's true; I really don't want to go back just yet. It feels like summer's just started!

But I digress.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It's where yet-to-be-released books are given the spotlight--so other readers can salivate over gorgeous covers and begging to be read summaries. Plus, anything that involves an enticing new discovery is always a good thing in my books (har har).

My pick for this week is The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Ah, I can just imagine the whip-smart dialogue, dramatic scenes and a chunky hunk of substance (no pun intended). I've been on the prowl for some edgy contemporary YA, so finding out about this one had me practically farting rainbows.

Except I wasn't nearly as impressive as this guy.

And the best part? The DUFF is releasing on September 7th, 2010! Which is NEXT WEEK. This means we all have a legitimate excuse to ditch school--I mean, have a nice pick-me-up after the requisite Welcome-Back lectures.

Okay, so maybe you don't go to school, or school has already started, or you're done school (LUCKY YOU)--then call in sick, take advantage of post-summer confusion and pretend you thought it was still summer, or just skip the deceit and spread the word!

So what were your picks this week?

Banned Books Reading Challenge and Ban This! 2010

You know, I've never really understood how people could immediately dislike something without fully getting to know it, letting it sink in and understanding exactly what it stood for. I mean, even mundane things like Justin Bieber, or that nasty-looking seaweed salad, or perhaps even that sweater Lola lovingly made for you.

But I'm not here to talk about that, interesting as those topics may be. I'm talking about -shudder- school novel study units.

On one hand, I really despise being unable to choose my own book. For the past few years, I've always thought picking my own would lead to greater enthusiasm for the actual work. I mean, I have a TBR pile that'd probably be able to go around the world twice. Why can't I choose my novel from there?

And these are only my library books.
(Sorry for the low quality; I'm only using my laptop's shoddy webcam)

On the other hand, I'm intrigued by the idea of trying out something new--something that could easily become a favourite of mine (or the ultimate dud), something that otherwise I might not have checked out on my own.

Definitely not a dud.

I remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird in my Grade 9 English class vividly--and I'm sure my English teacher does too. I'm one of those non-concise students who just loves to ramble on, and on, and on (as you could probably tell)--and it shows in my writing. You could just imagine the look on his face when I handed in an 11-page response journal!

But that's just the thing--I loved having the opportunity to analyze TKAM from every angle, just musing about the courageous, admirable and just plain human characters and their struggles through racism, injustice and hypocrisy.

Gosh, I loved precocious Scout, and her too awesome for words father, Atticus Finch. Seriously. (For my next response journal, my English teacher nervously told me to shorten it a bit. Was 8 pages short enough, Mr. Rossi?)

He should have invested in one of these.

And I can't imagine not having that opportunity. When I read about the high school that banned TKAM in 2009, I was shocked. And very angry. Seriously? At this day and age, when freedom of speech is considered a right and not a privilege? And all because one parent complained about foul language!

That Grade 10 English class missed out on a rich, tragic but hopeful American classic. I sure hope they all bought themselves a copy anyway, just because it would've been a sin to miss.

I firmly believe that everyone has the right to read and write whatever they want--whether it be a picture book about gay penguins, the hauntingly beautiful coming-of-age tale of a Jewish girl during the Holocaust, or self-mutilation.

Seriously, who would have the heart to ban such a lovely picture book?

It isn't right to limit the choices of a large group of people just because a few found it "inappropriate for the age group". Hey, to each his own, right? Censorship is that dictator breathing heavily over your shoulder--the combined breaths of hissing, controlling snakes--but we shouldn't let ourselves be cowed. That dictator can be conquered! (Now I sound like an infomercial. Hmm.)

Keepin' 'em innocent and pure!

And that's why initiatives like the Banned Books Reading Challenge, Banned Books Week, and Ban This! are important. Never underestimate the impact of a good awareness campaign, as a leader of my school's Gender Justice club put it. After all, isn't knowledge power? It is imperative that we educate ourselves on issues that threaten our freedom. Nothing's better than an open mind, I'd say.

One book's banning is another voice crushed, stifled and left in the dark. Why should we stand aside and let that happen?

September 25th to October 2nd is Banned Books Week but Donna @ Bites is starting up the whole shindig early and starting her campaign on September 1st. And hey, Steph @ Steph Su Reads is holding the Banned Books Reading Challenge 2010 from September 1st to October 15th.

That said, I love the idea behind the BBRC 2010. Thanks to Steph @ Steph Su Reads for hosting it and Donna at Bites her amazing month-long campaign (not to mention that powerful post)! You guys should definitely check them out.

At least in the blog sense. But I digress.

My goal for this 1 month and 15 day challenge is 12 books! They're going to be predominantly YA and one of them is a collection of teen writing! Saying I'm tremendously excited is a severe understatement. I'm so lucky that my library isn't the banning kind.

My Picks:

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
4. Heartbreak and Roses: Real Life Stories of Troubled Love by Janet Bode and Stan Mack
5. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
6. One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
7. Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Writers from WritersCorps
8. Looking for Alaska by John Green
9. The Boy Book: a Study of Habits and Behaviours, plus Techniques for Taming Them by E. Lockhart
10. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
11. Shattering Glass by Gail Giles
12. Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

To get into the swing of things, I'll also be posting reviews of some banned books I had previously read. Soon, very soon.

1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
4. Carrie by Stephen King

Here's the post where I talk about being a former Twi-hard, the insane fact that Twilight got banned in Orange County, and mention freaking out my mom.

Here's to hoping you all have amazing reading (and learning) experiences throughout the challenge's duration!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday(s)!

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading. It's a fun little initiative--and anyone can play along! Just grab your current read, let the pages magically fall onto a spoiler-free page and pick 2 teaser sentences to share with other book bloggers. Don't forget to share the author and title, so other people can put the book on their TBR pile if they absolutely love your tantalizing excerpt.

So anyway, this is my first one and I am drastically late. Not a very good first impression, if I must say.

This week's read is These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901, Arizona Territories - A Novel by Nancy E. Turner.

It is simply beautiful; historical fiction done right and I just love it! I'm almost finished and I'm dreading getting to the end because I love the characters too much.

Enough of my rambling; I'll save it for the review. I'll let the book speak for itself.

"I never did hear what happened down there, but Tucson is a rough old cob of a town, and people that live there just have to be ready to duck or draw. In my deep pocket, my kitchen pistol was banging against my leg, and I thought, I am a hard woman, for sure, not genteel like Savannah, not as I wanted to become at all. Maybe when times simmer down I will be able to walk around without a sidearm in my pocket and a rifle under my wagon seat like an outlaw." p.143

So my excerpt's longer than two sentences. Tsk, tsk, how shameful--late for my first post and already breaking the rules. But I hope you all forgive me because this one is actually a very good impression of how the novel is like--and what a great, great novel it is!

See you next Tuesday!

HUGE Back-To-School ARC Giveaway right here!

What better way to get into the swing of things than with an awesome back-to-school giveaway filled to the brim with ARCs (some signed!) of books I'm sure everyone's been dying to read about?
Something wicked this way comes

Well, those awesome people over at Reading Teen is doing exactly that (and making the transition back to school a whole lot easier for me)! You have 'til September 24 to enter and you can even be eligible for more entries if you tweet a whole lot 'til then.

Seriously, what have you got to lose? I know I'm eyeing The DUFF in that pile (though it certainly is hard to pick just one!).

So come on, go enter! You know you want to.