Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Thoughts: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi



HOLY CRAP, I WROTE A REVIEW. So much for that "back to blogging" thing, right? Life gets in the way, y'hear? Mama said there'd be days like this. I'm happy to be back, even if I only post every month.

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I've been looking forward to this book for seventy years, it seems. I definitely appreciate the fact that this book did not have an Obvious Choice re: suitor. I honestly had no idea who Juliette would end up with. I DIG THAT. Keep me guessing, Mafi. So let's break it down:





Highlights
 Warner. I love Warner. He's so complex and has the best character development out of anyone in the series.

Kenji. This is a no-brainer. The dude continues to be awesome. His one-liners, his swag, his humor are unmatched. His only flaw? Choosing to BFF it up with Juliette. (More on that later.) Though I do appreciate him calling her out on all her crap.

 The love scenes. AHEM. Mafi, I bow to your love scenes. Unravel Me Chapter 62, WHO?


Lowlights
Juliette. I really can't stand the girl. I don't identify with her at all and the attempt at the transformation to a Katniss type didn't work for me. There is no way I believe that the girl whined and cried and then became this all-powerful, self-assured beacon of hope for all. Don't get me wrong, I know people can change. Juliette's change just felt rushed and unbelievable. Most characters fawned over her and gushed over her strength and beauty and, don't hate me, but I got a Bella Swan vibe from her. 

Adam. I can't say too much without being spoilery, but I grew to despise the guy. Perhaps that's unfair, but he had some seriously psycho moments.

The ending. This is more of a gray area for me. I felt the ending was rushed, but I was relatively satisfied. This is one of those "pretty little bow" endings, however.

Got it Covered
PRETTY. I like these covers so, so much more than the girl in the dress. 

The Last Word
I know it seems like I didn't enjoy the book. I did. But when a protagonist becomes so unlikable to me, I cannot help but categorize it as a flop. I've never really liked Juliette, but this book was the nail in the coffin for me. I am sad to see this series end, because Warner, and I cannot wait to see what Mafi drums up next. She has talent, people. So much talent. 

Disclaimer: Ignite Me was published February 4, 2014 by Harper Collins. I purchased this e-book with my own cold hard cash. You couldn't pay me to give a dishonest review. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Think I'll Return to Blogging Today


"Do you think she woke up one morning and said 'I think I'll return to blogging today?'"


That's not QUITE how the quote goes.
And I was never the Elle Woods of blogging.
But I must confess: I miss it.

I got so irritated with so many little things re: blogging before I quit almost a year ago, it was a domino effect. I just didn't have the passion for it anymore. I loathed the idea of reading a book because I knew I would have to come up with a couple witty paragraphs about it. Plus, my reading speed tanked for whatever reason, so the review frequency took a major turn for the worse. And oh, the ARC envy.

I JUST DIDN'T LIKE IT ANYMORE.

Turns out a hiatus is just what I needed, though. (Is it a hiatus if it's like 10 months? Or a sabbatical? Or a mental health year? Or do I really give an eff?) Sure, things have changed (AHEMihadababyAHEM) and I'm not the same blogging person I once was, but damnit you guys. DAMNIT. I miss blogging. I miss the community and the bookish conversations and just relishing in the overall excitement. But this time, things will be different.

Jen's New Blogging Commandments (or "How I Plan to  Post Things on Occasion, Perhaps.")

1. Post when I please. 
I thought maybe I'd set a goal to post 3x a week, but there are days when I don't eat or shower until like, 3pm. So that's out. Plus, the main purpose for starting up again is to reclaim some "me time" when and where I can afford it. Who knew it'd be so hard with a 6 week old?

2. Numbers? What numbers?
Stats and hits and visitors and followers? Yeah, I won't be keeping up with that this time around. I think I forgot how.

3. ARCs be damned.
Given recent developments, I can probably only read 3 books a month IF I REALLY TRY, so any additional requesting for print ARCs probably won't be happening. (Plus, that's where the blogger envy starts and I'm steering clear of that!)

4. Why limit to just books?
I have other interests. Let me show you them.

5. HAVE FUN. 
Because everyone's a winner, right? Seriously though, I don't want this to turn into what it was before: a burden. That little niggling feeling in the back of my mind, "shouldn't you be blogging instead?" I don't get paid for this. I don't HAVE to do anything. I just miss you guys and feel so out of the loop with new books and authors. I reserve the right to get excited about a book even if I won't get to read it for 18 years. It's all about that spark, that enthusiasm.

To summarize: I'm happy to be back. Even if "back" means that I post a couple times a month. My priorities may have changed, but I'm still me. It may take me 2 decades to finish a book (hahahaha, I HOPE I'M KIDDING), but I still been out over them just as much. And I may suck at commenting for forever, but I still love you guys, too.

PS. I do plan on sprucing up the blog a little bit, in due time. (Any takers? Halp.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bye, Bye, Bye.


Honestly, it makes me incredibly sad that I am typing this post right now.

After a long and sad discussion, Carla and I have decided to step back from blogging on Makeshift Bookmark.

For the past two and a half years, I've found solace in blogging. The people I've met, the events I've attended, the amazing book conversations I've had. I've made friendships that I am 100% sure will be long-lasting. I always found time to squeeze in a blog post here and there. I wanted to share my thoughts with the world and have people squeal in delight over this and that with me.

But then things kind of...fizzled.

I'm so proud of our little blog and what it's become, but all good things eventually come to an end, right? I just don't have that spark anymore. And I hate that I don't.

But, considering that I posted that Big Bookish Positivity Post a week or so ago, let's focus on the happy things:

I am so grateful that blogging has brought so many of you wonderful people into my life. My bowing out of blogging will not change that. Hellooooo, I still have the Twitter and I don't plan on ceasing my bookish conversations any time soon.

The last two years have given me opportunities that I would have never dreamed could happen. I've met and hugged my favorite authors, the people who have created entire worlds that I lived in for days, weeks, months at a time.

Makeshift Bookmark gave me a sense of accomplishment and a sense of community. You guys have all been so incredible and holy crap, so. much. FUN. I love talking to each and every one on a daily basis.

Not to mention the last six months sharing the site with Carla have been a blast. She is one person that, if I could invent a teleportation machine and bring her to me (or me to her, because I WANT A BRITISH ACCENT), I wouldn't give it a second thought. I have so much love and admiration for this girl that it is borderline creepy. SERIOUSLY. She rocks. Carla, I love your face.

And to my friends, and especially those of you who are some of my best friends: your presence in my life makes me a better freaking person. Period.

I don't regret getting into blogging. Despite the stress, the benefits far outweighed the sads.

I love you all. Thanks for putting up with me <3

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HEY GUYS! Carla here; I just wanted to say a massive great big THANK YOU to Jen, co-blogger extraordinarie and my go to girl for anything and everything. These past 6 months sharing this blog with you have been full of hysterical laughter, inside joked and endless conversations that somehow always wind up being about food. I am incredibly lucky to call you a friend; I know this sounds super cheesy but I really don't know what I would do without you and just knowing that you will always be there whenever I need someone to talk to, well, I appreciate it more than you will ever know. No one else can match my dramatic tendencies quite like you. I love your face so hard it's not even borderline creepy, IT'S STRAIGHT UP CREEPY. (p.s. Jen, lolololol dawson leery crying. GET A GRIP BRO)

For everyone who has taken the time to comment on our posts, THANK YOU for taking the time to leave us with a little bit of yourself. I've loved reading your comments and discovering new blogs. I am so proud of this blog and what Jen has built it into and I am incredibly chuffed to be able to walk away from this and know that none of the friendships I have made will end. For me, blogging was never about the books, it was about you guys, so thanks for letting me share this experience with what I consider to be the best kind of people in the world.  You guys rock. READ ON. 

(OH and p.s. we will still be tumbling (is that right??) at http://makeshiftbookmark.tumblr.com, with teenie weenie reviews but mainly just commentary on stuff.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Carla's Thoughts: The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain by Cath Crowley

Published 1 March 2004
Pan Macmillan Australia


Gracie Faltrain is doing fine. Her soccer team is off to the national championships, she's just about to capture the boy of her dreams and she's well on the way to being 'in' at school. But Gracie is about to learn that life is not always fair.

First her best friend Jane leaves the country. Then there's an unfortunate event involving her tongue and her dream-boy's ear, which makes her a laughing-stock at school. When she finds out that the boys don't want her on the soccer team any more, she thinks life can't get any worse, but she's wrong. Her parents have news of the worst possible kind.

Within days, Gracie is floundering. No friends, no soccer, no love-life - and perhaps no family - add up to one confused and angry Gracie. Is there anything she can do to make things better, or should she just resign herself to her new screwed-up life?

There is something pretty special about reading the debut novel of one of your favourite authors, it's almost like you're getting a glimpse at the roots of their talent; you can see where everything that come after has stemmed from and how much they've grown as a writer. And Gracie Faltrain is no exception. I was almost giddy with infatuation, just getting to read Cath's first published novel with the knowledge of what her writing style and execution has evolved into.

Gracie is the only girl on an all boys (duh) soccer team and she rocks it. She is a badass super talented player and the team would be nothing without her. And she knows it. To put it bluntly, she is an insufferable hot head who likes to flaunt her talent and undeniable skill over every player on the field. Let the BFF charms rain down on her inflated head because I LOVE YOU GRACIE. Even when I wanted to give you a sharp kick in the shins because girl makes some really questionable decisions. She is pushy and doesn't know what the back the hell off but she is quite possibly my favourite Crowley girl, and not just because she could introduce me to Martin Knight, but because she is authentic and annoying and all kinds of amazing. 

Martin Knight. 'Stick with me, Faltrain' MARTIN KNIGHT. 

I know what you're thinking 'a book about soccer? lolololol what is this, Bend it like Beckham?' I am going to sound really cliche here and say, this isn't a book about soccer. Sure, soccer has a really major part in the plot and is instrumental to the story line BUT this is a Cath Crowley book. She can make a soccer flying through the air sound like poetry. She has a way with words that with bamboozle your mind and boggle your senses. Told through multiple narratives, we switch from Gracie to members of her soccer team to her parents. YES, her parents and let me tell you, I gulped them down like they was water and I was dying of thirst in the desert.

To say this is a debut novel is mind bending. Crowley crafts a story about soccer that isn't really about soccer at all.  The intricacies of her character development and a fast paced plot line full of hilarious incidents and the FUNNIEST date in the history of all the books ever, make this a debut that I hope everyone has a chance to experience. 

p.s. yesterday I did a post on TEABS (The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome) which is what i experienced when I finished the Gracie books - in short, they turned me into an emo head case with abandonment issues.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In which Carla tackles a severe case of TEABS*

*TEABS - The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome - penned by the awesome ladies over at Forever Young Adult

I should start this post with a confession - I am a Drama Queen when it comes to books. I get WAY too emotionally invested (which I guess is a good thing as a reader because it means that I really connect with the characters and immerse myself fully into the story the author is telling me). And by emotionally invested, I mean I turn into a head case. Here is a list of things I have done whilst reading -

Thrown books at the wall
Ripped out offending pages
Scribbled over sentences that made my blood boil
Hid a book under my bed then threw it in the bin
Thrown up from crying to much
Bit a book in a flying rage

AND THESE ARE BOOKS THAT I HAVE ENDED UP LOVING. 

In January I read the Gracie Faltrain series by Cath Crowley - Cath is undeniably one of the most talented YA authors with books on the shelves. Her words and her writing speak to me as a reader in a way no other book ever has. I love her characters, I love the twisted webs they get tangles in, I love her luscious prose and her ability to make me feel so much. In January I read the Gracie Faltrain books and proceeded to lose my mind. Here is the evidence.

EXHIBIT A - Text between me and Jenny displaying my unhinged state.



EXHIBIT B - Tweets between me and Cath where I admit wanting to shove popcorn in her face. 


EXHIBIT C - Tweets between me, Maggie and Noelle - the girls who helped me get my feelings under control.


EXHIBITS D, E, F & G - Email excerpts from conversations between me, Noelle and Maggie.





I had a bad case of the emo TEABS but seriously you guys, I love love love love this series. Cath Crowley knows whats up, even when she is stomping on your heart then taping it back together with love. So I hope you read these books and if this post today hasn't persuaded you that you NEED THESE BOOKS IN YOUR LIFE then maybe my review tomorrow will? 

If you want to become demented like me and join the Cath Crowley fan club, then I suggest reading ALL of her books. You will not be sorry.