January 31, 2015

Book review: Fashion Fraud by Jamie Campbell

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Truly Winx only wants one thing in her life: to be a world famous fashion designer.

When she discovers her favorite designers are conducting a design competition with big prizes up for grabs, Truly knows she was destined to enter. The only problem is she can’t sew.

Desperate to make it in the industry, Truly somehow convinces the shy, intelligent Jane Davis to be her competition partner and sew her design into a real dress.

With her future at stake, Truly will go to any lengths to be a fashion designer. Even if that means committing the ultimate act of Fashion Fraud.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

January 24, 2015

When the book isn't better than the movie

2014 was a pretty big year for movie adaptations of YA novels. Mockingjay, Part 1 was the highest grossing film of the year. Divergent and The Maze Runner also pulled in more than $100 million each at the box office in the U.S. alone. The Giver turned a tidy profit after grossing over $65 million.

However, when it comes to comparing the book to the movie, it's almost always the case that when a book is adapted to film, something is lost in translation. How often do you hear someone saying, "The book was better" after watching a movie adaptation? I know that I hear it (and say it) all the time. Even when the films are great (e.g., the Hunger Games and Harry Potter movies come to mind), the books were still better because they were so awesome to begin with.

Looking back on recent years, there were a few cases in YA fiction when I thought the movie was better than the book. For example:
  • Divergent - As a book, I thought Divergent was good but not that great. Seeing it depicted on the big screen made the story bigger than I had imagined in my head when I read the book. I definitely liked the movie better.
  • Stardust (see my book review here) - I really liked both the book and the movie. However, the movie added some more elements that IMHO made it better.
  • Warm Bodies - The movie isn't an entirely faithful adaptation of the book, but that's a good thing because I thought the book dragged at times while the movie was more interesting.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - The decision to focus on and embellish the Battle of Helm's Deep was brilliant. It turned what was my least favorite book of the trilogy into a more exciting movie.

A couple of movie adaptations were as good/bad as the books:
  • The Giver - Although the second half of the movie strayed from the book, I thought both were great. Casting Jeff Bridges as the Giver was a good choice, imho.
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - Here's a case where neither were good. I didn't like the book because Clary annoyed me and the story made little sense. I hoped the movie would be better, but unfortunately, it wasn't.
  • The Host - I almost didn't read the book because it was written by Stephenie Meyer, but I'm glad I did. (For all you Twilight haters, give The Host a chance.) I also liked the movie, partly because I've been a fan of Saoirse Ronan since I saw her in City of Ember. I was equally impressed by how the producers were able to condense a 600+ page book into a 2-hour movie without losing too much important information.
Which movies did you like more than the books they were based on?

January 17, 2015

A House in the Woods release annoucement

Are you a fan of dystopian fiction? How about fairy tale re-tellings? Now you can have the best of both worlds! A House in the Woods is a collection of three dystopian fairy tale re-tellings based on "Hansel and Gretel," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "The Elves and the Shoemaker."

Dystopian fiction meets fairy tale re-tellings in this collection of three short stories: 

"A House in the Woods" - At the conclusion of a scavenger hunt for Old World artifacts, Hansel and Gretel find themselves lost on the outskirts of the city after dark. They stumble upon a house in the nearby woods, hoping that they will find help inside, but the house's inhabitant has other ideas. 

"The Girl in the Crimson Robe" – The Global Resource and Materials Allocation system is in charge of allotting food and other necessities to Rose’s village. When GRandMA grants an unreasonably low allocation that is far too little for the village to live on, Rose must try to convince it to offer more.

"The Music Box Maker" – In this retelling of "The Elves and the Shoemaker", Henry Wayne is a master craftsman whose skills have deteriorated with age. When a Chief Legislator asks him to build a music box, Henry finds that the job is more difficult than it first appeared. Fortunately, Henry has some help from an unexpected source.

A House in the Woods is available for just 99 CENTS at:

January 10, 2015

Book review: The Benders by Katie French

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The third book in the award-winning, best-selling dystopian series.

They’ve escaped the Breeders.

They’ve broken out of the Citadel.

Now, after all they’ve been through, Riley, Clay, and Ethan know one thing for sure: nothing tastes sweeter than freedom. And no one can rest easy with Auntie Bell in bondage. The group journeys home to rescue her and liberate Clay’s town from the cruel Warden. But when an ally betrays them, they must face the very enemy they’ve been trying to avoid.

Captured and separated, Riley is sold to a slave-owner who uses human beings for sport, while Clay and Ethan become the latest in a series of lab rats to be poked and prodded. As a slave, Riley conceals her identity to survive among the other benders, but it’s only a matter of time before a dangerous job takes her life. Clay and Ethan find themselves a war zone between a madwoman and marauders. And the odds don’t look good.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

January 3, 2015

Favorite reads of 2014

In my last post, I summarized the books that I read in 2014. 29 of them received 5 stars, including 9 that were indie published. Among those 5-star books read in 2014, here are my top ten:

1. Horde - Ann Aguirre
This was an awesome conclusion to the great Razorland series, which I highly recommend, even if you're not a fan of zombie books. You really need to read all of the books in the series to appreciate the character and story development that led to Horde being such a fantastic finale!

2. Fire & Ash - Jonathan Maberry
If you've been following my annual top ten lists, it should come as no surprise that Fire & Ash, the last book of the Rot & Ruin series, ended up on this year's list. After all, the other three books in the series were all among my favorite reads during the years when I read them. This is another series that I highly recommend to everyone.

3. Cress - Marissa Meyer
I was wondering how Marissa Meyer was going to add a third main character into this series (after Cinder and Scarlet) and still keep readers interested in everything that's going on. I didn't need to worry because she did a masterful job of weaving all of the story lines together. This was yet another great book in a great series.

4. Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo
I honestly thought that the first two books in this series were only pretty good, but I loved the conclusion. Ruin and Rising wrapped up the series in a way that made sense, and the relationship between Alina and Mal was well played out.

5. This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales
I'm not a big fan of contemporary fiction, but I was surprised by how much I liked this book! It drew me into the story and made me care about the main character in a way that few books do. All YA readers should read it.

6. Parasite - Mira Grant
I've raved about Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy in the past. This year, the first book in her new series makes my top ten list. You get the same great writing, story-telling, and social commentary as the Newsflesh trilogy, but with parasites instead of zombies!

7. Frost - Kate Avery Ellison
I discovered Kate Avery Ellison's books this year and have really enjoyed what I've read so far. Frost has been my favorite, and it's the top indie-published book I read this year. I recommend that fans of YA speculative fiction check out her works!

8. The Believers - Katie French
Katie French's The Breeders was one of my top ten favorite reads last year, and its sequel, The Believers, follows in its footsteps. The book is a fast-paced page-turner that will leave you wanting more. Fortunately, the third book in the series was recently released, and I'm about to read it. Don't be surprised if it ends up on my list of favorite reads of 2015.

9. Champion - Marie Lu
Legend was my top favorite read of 2013, and while Prodigy didn't measure up to its high standards, the series finished strong with Champion.

10. The Selection - Kiera Cass
I admit that, before I read it, I didn't think I'd like this book. The description reminded me of shows like The Bachelor, and I abhor those types of reality shows. However, this turned out to be a well-written and engaging book with a protagonist who I could root for. I even came to have more than a passing interest in the result of the contest, but alas, there are more books to go before I'll find out who wins.