Jan 24, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway: Michelle Moran, author of Madame Tussaud

Today we welcome author Michelle Moran (Cleopatra's Daughter, The Heretic Queen, Nefertiti, Madame Tussaud), who's prepared a very interesting post about Madame Tussaud's history.

And read the end of the post to find a giveaway!


When most people hear the name Madame Tussaud, the first thing that comes to mind are the eerily lifelike waxworks which crowd her museums throughout the world. But who was the woman behind the name, and what was she like in the flesh?
Madame Tussaud’s story actually began in 18th century Paris. While most people know her from her famous museum in London, it was in France, on the humble Boulevard du Temple, where Marie first got her start as an apprentice in her uncle’s wax museum, the Salon de Cire. At the time, the Boulevard du Temple was crowded with exhibits of every kind. For just a few sous a passerby might attend the opera, watch a puppet show, or visit Henri Charles’ mystifying exhibition The Invisible Girl. The Boulevard was a difficult place to distinguish yourself as an artist, but as Marie’s talent grew for both sculpting and public relations, the Salon de Cire became one of the most popular attractions around. Suddenly, no one could compete with Marie or her uncle for ingenious publicity stunts, and when the royal family supposedly visited their museum, this only solidified what most showmen in Paris already knew — the Salon was an exhibition to watch out for.
But as the Salon’s popularity grew, so did the unusual requests. Noblemen came asking for wax sculptures of their mistresses, women wanted models of their newborn infants, and – most importantly – the king’s sister herself wanted Marie to come to Versailles to be her wax tutor. While this was, in many ways, a dream come true for Marie, it was also a dangerous time to be associated with the royal family. Men like Robespierre, Marat, and Desmoulins were meeting at Marie’s house to discuss the future of the monarchy, and when the Revolution began, Marie found herself in a precarious position. Ultimately, she was given a choice by France’s new leaders: to preserve the famous victims of Madame Guillotine in wax, or be guillotined herself.
Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution is the story of Marie’s life during one of the most tumultuous times in human history. Her survival was nothing less than astonishing, and how she survived makes for what I hope is a compelling read.
Giveaway time!
For a chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Madame Tussaud, by Michelle Moran; and these lovely earrings below just leave a comment with your name and email.
The giveaway ends on Feb 22nd, and it's open internationally. So enter away!

Jan 22, 2011

Love Virtually, by Daniel Glattauer

Love Virtually, by Daniel Glattauer on Goodreads

Original Title: Gut gegen Nordwind
Release Date: February 3rd, 2011
Publisher: MacLehose Press
Age Group: Adult
Categories: Contemporary, Romance, E-Mail Format Novel
Source: Gift
Overall: 4 Monkeys
Read on December 2010

Summary from Goodreads:
'Write to me, Emmi. Writing is like kissing, but without lips. Writing is kissing with the mind.' It begins by chance: Leo receives emails in error from an unknown woman called Emmi. Being polite he replies, and Emmi writes back. A few brief exchanges are all it takes to spark a mutual interest in each other, and soon Emmi and Leo are sharing their innermost secrets and longings. The erotic tension simmers, and it seems only a matter of time before they will meet in person. But they keep putting off the moment - the prospect both excites and unsettles them. And after all, Emmi is happily married. Will their feelings for each other survive the test of a real-life encounter? And if so, what then? Love Virtually is a funny, fast-paced and utterly absorbing novel, with plenty of twists and turns, about a love affair conducted entirely by email.
My Opinion:

What a most original and fresh book! I hadn't known that it was written in e-mail format before buying it. I had read posts about the excitement over its the second part, Cada Siete Olas (something like Every Seven Waves), on several Spanish blogs, but not a book review. I thought it was a YA book. Another error. This is clearly an adult book.

Emmi Rothner and Leo Leike begin their story by mistake, she sends an email to him by mistake. What begins as something formal (they write emails like "Excuse me, I believe you've got the wrong e-mail address.") slowly turns into friendship, which rises in pitch and becomes something else.

You'll want them to get together -and they make several attempts to do so- but there is a problem. Emmi is married. "Happily married."

They make it clear they will never see each other, move onto a stage of joking about meeting, and reach the point of wondering whether what they are doing is having an affair, without having met!

The ending leaves you aching for Every Seven Waves. What a cliffhanger! Bad author!

I expect things will work out for them!

Jan 20, 2011

Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2), by Richelle Mead

Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2), by Richelle Mead

Release Date: April 19th, 2008
Publisher: Razorbill
Age Group: Young Adult
Categories: Paranormal, Vampires, Romance, Action, Vampire Academy
Source: Web
Overall: 5 Monkeys
Interest: Series
Date Read: December 2010

Summary from Goodreads:
Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…
It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians—including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks… This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.
But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…
My Opinion:

I'm beginning to see why everyone loves this series so much. I'm sure I don't have to tell you what this book's about, I'm the one who jumped on the wagon a little late. And you can't really blame me for starting this series so late, I just learned about them last year.

I love Richelle's vampire world, with its Moroi, Strigoi and Dhampirs. Vampires doing magic and controlling the elements, that's something original! (if you don't count that certain other vampire book). 

If there's something I love, that's a good romance. The sexual tension between Rose and Dimitri is amazingly written, in a way that sometimes I'd think, "Just kiss him already!" The love they have for each other feel real, not forced nor rushed. 

There's action in every chapter, it never gets boring. 

I'll read Shadow Kiss next. I need to know how this continues!

Jan 17, 2011

PERFECTION. I mean... Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins on Goodreads

Release Date: December 2nd, 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Age Group: Young Adult
Categories: Contemporary, Romance, Paris, Friendship
Overall: One Hundred Monkeys. Yep.
Interest: Romance! Paris! Boys!
Read on January 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Annais looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris —until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna —and readers— have long awaited?
My Opinion:

Love. Paris. Boy with cute accent. French food. Drama. More drama. Friends. Love. PARIS.

That pretty much sums it up.

I always try to write good reviews, nothing like, "OHMYGOSH that book IS AWESOME kjsjdfhsjkdfhsj!!!!!!"



I couldn't stop reading this book. I had to know how it ended asap! I hadn't felt that many book-related butterflies in my stomach in a long time! I'm using a lot of exclamation marks, but I don't care!

This book is

like this.

And then, whenever Étienne (that is a love name right there. I just made up that term.) and Anna kissed, it was

like this.

I wanted them to kiss all the time. That's how good those scenes were.

The writing is amazing as well. The plot is fantastic, and so is the pace. Everything about this book is incredible. And yes, it's got some clichès, but Stephanie sure used them to her advantage!
I can't write a better review, sorry. All I'm thinking now is, "Where can I sign up for SOAP?" Maybe I'll find my Étienne there.

Jan 16, 2011

Island Beneath the Sea, by Isabel Allende

Spanish/Latin American Cover
Island Beneath the Sea, by Isabel Allende

Original Title: La Isla Bajo El Mar
Release Date: January 1st, 2010, Latin America
Publisher: Editorial Sudamericana, Latin America
Age Group: Adult
Categories: Slavery, Historical Fiction, Latin America
Source: Bought
Overall: 4 Monkeys
Interest: Isabel Allende's Books
Date Read: December 29th, '10 to January 4th, '11.

Summary from Goodreads:
Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité -known as Tété- is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, Tété finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.
When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it’s with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father’s plantation, Saint-Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride -but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.
Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of Tété and Valmorain, and of one woman’s determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances.
My Opinion: 

Like every Allende novel, this book is rich in history and travels through the lives of a lot of characters.

It tells the story of Zarité -or Teté, as they called her- a slave in the French colony of Saint Domingue (now Haití). Teté is sold as a child to monsieur Toulouse Valmorain, fact which will mark her forever.
She grows up in her master's plantation, Saint-Lazare, and, despite of being a domestic slave (she works in the house, as a housekeeper), she suffers a terrible life.

It's the 18th century, and slavery is something as common as the blue sky and a hot day in Saint Domingue. Slaves are just something more their masters own. Possessions.
Teté will fight her whole life to protect her own, going through some very difficult challenges.

As always, Isabel's writing is excellent -the majority of the book is written in third person, and we get glimpses into Teté's mind in a few chapters written in her POV- and the story catches you until you finish it.

There'll be people who'll say this is a very long book, to the point of becoming tiresome, but to me, it's because they don't know how to appreciate Isabel's writing.

She's one of my favourite Latin authors, and I've read most of her work. Everything she's written is amazing.

Jan 13, 2011

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1), by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1), by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: January 4th, 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Overall: 4 Monkeys
Interest: Series
Other Titles in the Series: Untitled (Unearthly, #2)

Summary from Goodreads:
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place —and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make —between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.
My Opinion:

Really liked this book! A very good debut for Cynthia Hand!

From the beginning we know Clara's an angel-blood, so that's a plus. We didn't have to wait until the MC figured out what she/he is. But we did have to wait until the very last second to understand Clara's purpose.

All that she knows about her purpose, is that it's something inevitable, something she has to do, or face the concecuences if she doesn't.

The plot starts with, oh, what a shocker!, Clara's family moving to a new town, making her and her brother, Jeffrey, the new kids in school. I don't see why they had to move (Clara's purpose makes them move, actually). Clara could have very well had a vision about someone from her own town. I didn't like the cliché, I think it was unnecessary.

Clara will make new friends, and new enemies. Again, another cliché which I didn't like = popular girl vs. new/shy girl. Among her new friends is Wendy.

This book has a major love triangle. It's the main focus of the novel. Clara's between Christian, the boy from her visions, and Tucker, Wendy's brother. She has a pull with Christian, she faints when she sees him, etc. Cliché. (Didn't I say I liked this book? Because I did! I'm getting to the parts I loved in a little while!)

Tucker, on the other hand, was something out of the blue. Clara begins by being a little reluctant to be around him, but gets to know him better thanks to Wendy. I'm a hopeless romantic, so I liked him better than Christian, and swooned when he appeared. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a cliché either, because it was.
Super sticky-sweet romance at first, but since this is the first in a series, I'm crossing my fingers for him!

Clara's mum, whose name I can't remember, has always kept her children in the dark about the whole angel business, so it's fun learning about it all along with Clara. Plus for Hand. Clara's mum has a reason for doing this, but we only find out a little about it -and about her and a certain Black Wing- so it's obvious we'll learn more about this in the next books.

In the end, it all comes down to choices. Will Clara make the right one? (No, seriously. There's a major cliffhanger at the end!)

I give it four monkeys based on how much it entertained me and kept me intrigued, and because of the romance. As cliché as it was, I love me a good romance!

**This is my first review for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge**

Jan 11, 2011

On this day, January 11th, 2007 JK Rowling completed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh.

This is a special day. And it deserves a GIF spam. Enjoy!

Jan 9, 2011

Writing Update #1

Since I don't have any new books to do an IMM post, I thought I'd talk about my writing, and how it's coming along. 

I love reading. I have a huge imagination, and I'm easily transported into different worlds when reading. I also love creating stories. 

On 2009, I was introduced to NaNoWriMo (this March is my three year bloggoversary!) and I loved the idea of it. In reality, it wasn't as easy as I'd thought it'd be. So, my story was left to gather virtual dust on my archive, and I always thought about going back to it, but I didn't know how to continue.

Turns out, I needed a plotline. I needed to write the entire plotline, before actually writing the book. So, last year, I set out to do just that. I wrote half a draft, and sent it to a Beta, because, once again, I was stuck.

And I had a lot of help! Tanya, my lovely Beta, was extremely helpful, and thanks to her, I now know exactly how and where I want my story to go.

But, let's face it. I'm no writer. I'm simply an amateur. But in the words of the awesome Maureen Johnson, you have to suck hard first, to become great later.

So now, after having gone through tense changes, and from going to first person POV to 3rd to 1st again, this is where I stand:

My WIP is titled Insomnia. Its current word count is of 20, 938. I've written 72 pages. Which is more than I've ever written, and makes me so proud of myself for actually being in this place.

It's about Death and Life, literally. And of course, a romance thrown in for good measure. 

My MCs names are Cora and Bl- Ben! Ben. I can't remember why I chose these names almost a year and a half ago, but now I can't think of them with any other names, they've become so clear in my mind, I actually see them in my mind's eye. I know exactly how they look, how they feel, what they like to wear and what music they're into.

The plot suffered a major change as well. Because, after reading Beautiful Creatures, I thought my WIP was very similar to it; why, I don't know, I hadn't even read BC before starting writing it! One day, I had a stroke of inspiration, and I knew what my book would be about.
I could have it finished by now, but I don't have the habit of writing every day. I guess you have to make that habit yourself.

And while I don't think about getting his publish the second I finish it, I do think about just finishing it! I'd love to have it printed and be able to pass it around my friends and family, and get feedback from them. 

And then, maybe, just maybe, start with a new story. 
Because I have plenty of ideas.


ps: Are you an aspiring writer, or maybe you write for fun like I do? If so, tell me what you're writing! I'd love to know.

Jan 7, 2011

Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Release Date: March 19th, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Overall: 5 Monkeys
Source: Bought

Summary from Goodreads:
“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her step-mother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way—thin, thinner, thinnest—maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.
My Opinion: 

I'd never read anything by LHA, and I think this was a good book to start. Wintergirls shows us the inner workings of an anorexic girl's mind very clearly. We get to see why they live like they do, what drives them -in this case, what drove Lia, the MC- to develop an eating disorder.

I was astounded by Lia and Cassie's stories, how they made a pact to be the thinnest girls in school at the mere age of twelve. Twelve! When I was twelve, I was worried about which secondary school I'd get into the following year, not about how thin I was.

The present tense narrative wasn't my cup of tea in this book. I kept feeling like there was something off about it. But I did love how Lia told her story, how she felt like no one understood her.

After Cassie dies, Lia is haunted by the memory of her. She sees Cassie every night, and Cassie always tries to take her with her, to the other side.
There was always something new to keep you wanting to read more, the pace wasn't too fast, and the writing was amazing.

One thing I loved was the relationship Lia had with her little sister, Emma. Emma's nine years old and adores Lia. She's basically the only reason Lia makes some of her best choices.

It's a short book, which you can read in a sitting or two, and very insightful. I'd recommend it to anyone who knows someone with an eating disorder. It might help you understand them better.

Jan 3, 2011

Do you have a question for Lauren Oliver?

Countdown to Delirium

For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge fan of Miss Lauren Oliver and her books. I was lucky enough to be able to read an ARC of Delirium thanks to NetGalley.

Last November, I founded Deliriously Falling, and now, to celebrate the release of Delirium, Reg, Lori and I are having a Countdown, full of interviews, giveaways and guest posts!

Now you have the chance to ask Lauren whatever you want! And she might answer your question, in video!

Leave your question in a comment, and check on DF to find out if your question was chosen!

Jan 2, 2011

100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge, 2011

It's obvious to me that I won't be able to reach this goal. 
I'll be spending more time reading uni books than YA lit, but thought I'd sign up anyway.

Here I'll list the books I've read and reviewed,
and some of them will crossover with the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

I've also added a "Books Read in 2011" widget on the right sidebar, so you'll see what books I've read this year. Those books I'm reading now, which of course, I started last year, don't count. As soon as I'm done with those, I'll begin counting the 2011 books. 

Do you want to join? Click on the button!
Books Read This Year:

1. Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand.
6. Red Glove, by Holly Black

Jan 1, 2011

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Release Date: December 1st, 2005
Publisher: Vintage
Age Group: Adult
Overall: 3, 5 Monkeys
Source: Borrowed

Summary from Goodreads:
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.
My Opinion:

Kazuo Ishiguro created a whole new world in this novel, and while I had really high hopes for it -I kept reading nothing more than five stars reviews for it- it didn't live up to my expectations.

The book's written in Kathy's POV, and it tells the story of herself and her friends, Tommy and Ruth, growing up in a boarding house in England. Hailsham (the boarding house) was a school for special students. These three spend their lives together, with the exception of spending a few years apart at the end.

One thing I loved about the book was its writing. It's like Kathy's talking to us, telling us her memories of Hailsham and her friends. It really was a fresh and original way of writing, but the plot fell a little short in my opinion.

All throughout the book, we get little hints as to what the kids are doing in Hailsham, we learn that it's not the only school of its kind, and we get to see beforehand where their lives are headed.

Well, to me, all this was told a little too beforehand, so when the moment of the big revelation came along, I already knew what to expect, and it lacked the big WOW moment I kept waiting for. Actually, when it ended, I thought, "This is it?"

Things like Madame's Gallery and deferrals are addressed in the final chapters, but like I said, these revelations added little to what I'd already read about them.

Apart from the plot, I did love the way Ishiguro handled the group's emotions, and the depth of the characters. Since we see them from when they were little through Kathy's memories, we also get to see them grow, and the way they are is constant, making the characters interesting and relatable. You could see the why behind any one of them's actions, and understand it very well.

But, as I said, I didn't get to see the turning point in this book, perhaps I missed it, and while I was hoping to love, love, love this book (someone told me it was their favourite book EVER) I just liked it. It kept me interested enough, but at the end it disappointed me.

I must be one of those few people who think this, but it is what it is. Sometimes you love some books, other times, they just aren't for you.

I am expecting to love the film, however. I do like its cast. :)

Oh, and HAPPY 2011!!!
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Blog design and content by Ella Press, using elements by EMI