Note: This time of year is always very busy for me. Last year, I hadn't really started blogging yet, so I was able to keep myself above the craziness. This year, I am. My blog is slightly inactive due to the holiday craze. Hopefully will return to the regular posting after the new year. :)


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Between Shades of Gray: Interview with the editor!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously - and at great risk - documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

So, today, I have something I'm very excited to share with you all! Between Shades of Gray is a book I loved, and I was offered the chance to interview the editor of this book. I'm very honored to introduce Tamra Tuller! 

The Interview:

1) Why were you initially interested in Between Shades of Gray?
Between Shades of Gray was originally acquired for Philomel by my boss, Michael Green, who is the president and publisher. He immediately felt the power of the story. From page one, it is utterly gripping. It’s also a beautiful story with underlying messages of hope and strength. It’s the kind of book you don’t want to put down. And on top of being an incredibly compelling story, it is also an incredibly important one that is seldom told.
2) Did you previously know about the Soviet Union? I've heard a lot of people say that this book had introduced them to the topic.
No, I didn’t know anything about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries. I was shocked when I read the manuscript and immediately thought that I must be incredibly ignorant. So I started asking people. And it turned out that I was not alone. Not a single person I spoke to knew this had ever happened. And I found that to be so sad, and I realized even more than ever this was a story that must be told.
3) Who is your favorite character in the novel? Care to explain?
Hmmm. I love them all! All of them. From the grumpy bald man who seems so thoughtless but turns out to be kind, to little Jonas, so sweet and innocent, to of course, Lina, our heroine. But I have to say my favorite is Andrius. He’s so strong and so brave. And I’m a sucker for a little romance, especially under those horrific conditions.

4) If you were to recommend this book to someone, what would you say?
Honestly, I would say everything I said in my answer to your first question. All the reasons we fell in love with this book are the reasons anyone should read it: the power, the beauty, the importance, the characters, and the compelling story.

5) What is, in your opinion, the best thing about this book?
There are so many things to choose from, but I think one of the things the book made me think about is strength. I was reading this wondering how anybody could endure such horrors, and it made me question my own strength. What would I do under these circumstances? I just don’t know. Every day so many of us let the most minor things beat us down and discourage us. I think we have a lot to learn from these characters and how they supported each other and built each other up to become collectively stronger.
Another thing I love about this book is how it shows the complexity of human beings. We’re not all good or all bad. It’s important to remember that everybody has a story, and sometimes people do terrible things under very difficult circumstances for their own reasons, which quite often are not out of malice, but out of self-preservation. A character like Kretzsky is the perfect example of this. We feel throughout so much of the book that he is just pure evil, but then we learn he’s had to suffer his own atrocities, and he is probably making the only decisions he can under unthinkable conditions. There’s just no black or white where people are concerned. Hence the title, Between Shades of Gray.

The Giveaway:

So, if you've stuck around for the end of this post, I've got a little surprise for you. Those of you who want one will have the chance to win a soundtrack card. One winner will receive a signed one and one will receive an unsigned one. 
To enter, leave a comment on this post, with your email. If you've read BSoG, tell me what you thought was the best part about it. And if you haven't, tell me about the best part of a book you've recently read. 
Please remember to read to giveaway policy if you are unsure of the rules.13 years or older, and if you're under 18, please have parent's permission to enter. US only.

The info:

Ruta's websites are:

Also, the Official Fanpage for Ruta is going up April 3rd! Check it out here.

The full schedule for the tour is below, links are found at Hannah's blog, which is here.

March 29: Hannah- Intro

March 30: Jamie/The Hot Author Report

March 31: Mundie Moms

April 1: Brielle/Awesome Bookworm

April 2: Sara/Through the Looking Glass and Back Again

April 3: Marla/Starting the Next Chapter

April 4: Hannah/The Book Vortex

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In which Brielle attempts to explain her absence, but fails miserably.

So, hi? Remember me? Wow, the blog post thing looks so weird now. Anyways, I am Brielle, I knew you many moons ago, perhaps, unless you're new. So, yeah, here's a list, because I can probably talk better through a list right now.

1. I am a failure
   A. I haven't posted in several weeks.
   B. I haven't finished much of anything in several weeks.
   C. I haven't even been on Twitter much lately.

2. Why I am a failure
    A. See above.

3. My excuses for why I've become a failure.
    A. October through January starts like, lots of parties and stuff. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday, etc. So I'd be busy already. Last year I wasn't really into blogging when all this happened. 
    B. I also went through a super sudden move to a new house. Hello, new house. Meet the blog.
    C. I got into not blogging. Kind of stuck that way, didn't it?

4. Some things I've kind of gotta break to you guys.
    A. My first post back in forever is a post about why I've been gone.
    B. I think I'm going to take an actual break from blogging for a bit. Yes, I did just take one, but not entirely by choice. Just was super busy. But now I'm settled and I kind of just keep seeing books and knowing they're going to be awesome, but hesitant to read them because I know it's something like a job.
    C. My first post back in forever is a post about why I'm going to be gone again.

5. Why I'm taking a break for a bit.
    A. Reading has been a little meh lately. Not that I don't like books still, I'm just kind of flopping around like, me no like reading things to analyze them.
    B. I've been writing a lot more. When I started this blog, I was upset that I couldn't get any attempted manuscripts to work out, and then I got mine to work, and then another, and now I'm kind of preoccupied with that.

6. Things I'd like to say
    A. I still love you guys.
    B. I still love BOOKS.
    C. I'm not leaving forever, just until I get my mojo back.
    D. Why did I just use the word mojo?
    E. I still like capes.

To further prove my confusion to blogging right now, I've illustrated what I feel like. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Amazon Link
Goodreads Link

Page Count: 374
Overall Rating: 5 Stars

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. 

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Can I do just a little mini-rant/explanation right here?

Sometimes, books are madly popular and their fans are kind of...well, some of them get angry when you don't like said books. Not that I didn't have hopes for The Hunger Games. But I find myself being legitimately afraid to read and dislike a book that people are crazy over. Especially when you can see reviews on Twitter that aren't even hateful that are getting tossed around because it was negative. It's kind of crazy. I wouldn't have posted a review of this if I didn't like it, because of how popular it is, but still. It's sill for me to be afraid to dislike a book, and this isn't the first time I've done this. I did it with Divergent and others.

So yeah, it did take me forever to read this and I'm forever behind on it. That's why.

Anyways, at the start of January, I realized that, hey, it's 2012 now and that means The Hunger Games movie comes out in like, well two months, really. I don't really like watching movies without reading the book first, especially if I've owned the book. Especially if I've owned the book for a freaking year.

I read it in like, three or four days with time at school and all. I picked a weird week where I kept finding songs and stuff that inspired me to write, so I was a bit busier with that than reading, but I did read it in a decent time span.

So, for the negatives first, only because there are fewer of those.

The beginning is kind of slow for me. I don't know if anyone else had that problem, but the first few chapters are kind of hard to get through and then it really picks up around Chapter Four or so. Also, and I know someone is going to read this and probably want to lecture me about how hard the games are and all, but hear me out first. I felt like some things that Katniss complained about weren't even the bad parts of the game. Okay, sure, maybe she wasn't in love with a boy, but she didn't hate him, right? So why is she complaining about having to be nice to a person, especially when it rewards her later. I'm not even siding with Haymitch here. I just think it's silly to complain as much as she did over something like that when she didn't complain about other stuff, stuff that was life-or-death important.


Most of everything else. Katniss is a freaking BAMF and Peeta is sweet. Panem is interesting and The Hunger Games help to create one of the most driven plots I've ever read. The characters are strong and well-developed.

All of the tributes had their own style of fighting and their own strategies and I enjoyed that. The plans and raids and killings and such are always different and they don't really repeat like some books can. The compassion that some can show, even in this situation, is unforgettable.

A random thing I loved: The food in this book was beyond interesting for some reason. Especially the breads from the Districts. Can't wait to see some more of those, hopefully.

Also, I'm glad that this was a book that was still good despite all of the spoilers I knew about. Sometimes that can ruin a book, and I try to avoid things that will spoil the book for others, but it's hard when the trilogy is as big as this one is.

I don't know what else to say. It was an entirely new concept and a wonderful book, but I don't really have anything to say that's not been already said. My friends had tried to convince me to read the books last year, and I said that I would soon, just had to get through some other stuff, and then I realized how much everyone in the blogging community loved them and I just couldn't. I was afraid to dislike them and I am still a little afraid for the next two, though greatly less than I was previously.

Read it. Do it now. I double-dog dare you.

Songs I listened to while reading:

Amazing Quote:
“I notice her blouse has pulled out of her skirt in the back again and force myself to stay calm. "Tuck your tail in, little duck," I say, smoothing the blouse back in place. 

Prim giggles and give me a small "Quack." 

"Quack yourself," I say with a light laugh. The kind only Prim can draw out of me.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Amazon Link
Goodreads Link

Page Count: 313
Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

How does one even begin to talk about this book? I'm just going to warn you now, there will be such an amount of cheesy in this review that you'll probably want to die after reading it, but hopefully, it's just enough to make you want to read this book, because it is amazing. Beyond amazing. There are no words for it.

I didn't want to review this one for a bit, on the account that five stars is just not cutting how great this book is, but I'll review it anyway, because I have to talk about this or something before I die. Five stars. Ha. Ha ha. Not enough. If I could do it, I'd give it all the stars in the freaking sky, and no, it's not just because the title has the word 'stars' in it.

You know, I tried for a while to realize why I liked this so much, but I do indeed love it. I just don't know why, other than the fact that it's a good story. What does it really mean to me? And that's just it, I think, it means something to me, even though I couldn't place it.

The only thing I can really name it as is this need that I think everyone has to be something great, because we all want to be remembered when we die. This book stresses, while not entirely forcing it at you, that maybe the point of life isn't to be remember, but maybe just to live and be who you want to be. You don't have to save the world or change someone for your life to be successful to you, and that it's really only you who matters when it comes to the stamp of approval on your life.

Yes, it does teach a lesson, but it's not forced upon you. I love that John Green can do that. He'll never force his book's ideas on the reader. They're yours to decode and match and decide if you want to really apply them to yourself. That's a fantastic thing, you know?

I know that I talk so much about tearing up with books because, well, mainly I have a thing for sad books. Happy endings are nice, but you know what I mean. Sad books are somehow the greatest, sometimes, and even if they're not, they make the joyful books all the more palatable. But I cried for like, sixty pages straight of this book and I thank goodness that I was in the comfort of my house and not at school like one of my friends was, because I would've lost it completely in the middle of class. She had the power to control her tears, and I wouldn't have.

You know something else that's just amazing about this book, you guys? It's sad without weighing down the meaning of it. Some books do that to you. You feel like it could've ended better, like the author just wanted a book that'd make people cry. Is that just me? I don't know.

Nonetheless, TFiOS doesn't do that. It's a book about cancer, but it's not, you know? It's a book about a girl named Hazel who just happens to have cancer. It's not a cancer book, it's a Hazel book, and I adore that it's like that. I was a little afraid that her illness would take over. Everyone is more than just one thing, and no one is just their illness unless they let themselves become that.

I'm ranting now, but you just don't know if you haven't read it, and you need to read it. Every. Single. One. Of. You. Besides being insanely quotable, real and raw, and being heartbreakenly beautiful, it's filled with amazing characters such as Issac and Hazel and Augustus and Hazel's parents. It's wonderful, you guys. My favorite book by John Green's, even though I haven't read all of them. I just don't see how it could get any better.

I'm sorry for talking so long. I still have points to make and things to talk about, but I desperately need to shut up and stop talking. Just read it. Please. You will not regret it.

Songs I listened to while reading:

Amazing Quote:

When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I'd been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn't get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn't even speak, so I held up nine fingers. 

Later, after they'd given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, "You know how I know you're a fighter? You called a ten a nine." 

But that wasn't quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review - The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Amazon Link
Goodreads Link

Page Count: 211
Overall Rating: 4 Stars

basis, n. 

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself. 

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the momentdoes pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face. 

You guys. This one was surprisingly good.

Lately, I've been trying to kind of branch out just a little bit. Not really leave everything behind, but, you know, try some things that are different. So I read this book, because it was a dictionary, and that's kind of the most different thing I could really read.

I wasn't really expecting to like it like I did. I'd read verse books before and not really liked them, because I couldn't get a feel for anything. It was too loose. So I didn't think I'd be able to get a feel for this one, either, because dictionary entries aren't really long, and it's a completely different format than I'm used to.

The thing about this one is that it's kind of ... odd. It can tell a story just like any other story. In your heart, you know what happened, even though there are still little gaps in between everything. Even though I think some of the things aren't in the right order, and it's told through this form, it's just as much of a story as any other book, really.


To be completely honest, no, I didn't really really connect with it on the same level as a normal book. But I connected with it a lot more than a prose book. When I've read some verse books in the past, I really kind of felt a bit cheated after finishing it. With this one, there was an air of something like sadness that I didn't spend so much time with the people, even though they weren't named or anything.

Another thing. The characters aren't ever named or really described in appearance, yet I can still picture them in my heads. Oddly enough, I picture them as celebrities which doesn't happen, and, no, I will not tell you which ones.

It's a good story with a lot of relatable quotes, even though I obviously haven't had half of the stuff that's in this book done to me. Books have a funny way of making you relate to things because they make you feel them, and this book does a really good job at it.

And even if it is a dictionary, it doesn't lack emotion. Have a look at the definition for livid below. (It's highlighted in red because it drops a few F-bombs and is a bit of a spoiler. Read at your own discretion.)

“livid, adj. 

Fuck You for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.”

That is certainly not lacking in any emotion. So it's not like you can't connect with the characters emotionally, really.

It is an adult book, and does contain cursing, as you know above, and so on. If you aren't comfortable with that, then be wary, maybe. I do recommend it to you all, whether you have issues with connecting to  verse books or not. I liked it, and maybe you will too. 

Songs I listened to while reading:

Amazing Quote:

"Breathing, n
You had asthma as a child, had to carry around an inhaler. But when you grew older, it went away. You could run for miles and it was fine. Sometimes I worry that this is happening to me in reverse. The older I get, the more I lose my ability to breathe."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review - Need by Carrie Jones

Need by Carrie Jones

Amazon Link
Goodreads Link

Page Count: 306
Overall Rating: 2.5 Stars

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.
So, here's the thing you guys: I'm not really sure why I'd wanted to read this one in the first place. Maybe it was the cover. Okay, I do like Fae and Pixies and the like, but I'm not a huge fan of werewolves (To anyone who has read my writing: I don't even know. Don't question it.) in books. I just feel like there's such a stereotype to werewolves in YA and I just end up not liking the characters.

But, of course, it's not just werewolves, it's pixies. It's weretigers and were-eagles and even a werebear. It feels almost like there's too much going on in one book with all of the people turning into various animals.

Beyond that, the story feels a little...done already? I mean, I've never even heard of were-eagles before, but something about it feels so very, very, very familiar and I don't like it. I had mentioned it to a few friends and they agreed that it felt done already.

I had kind of high hopes for this one, but I found most of the foreshadowing way too blatant and the fact that the readers were supposed to be surprised more than once when people ended up being supernatural creatures just like Zara was, but it was just so freaking obvious who was a werewolf or were-eagle or pixie, you know? I have no clue.

Zara was a mix of good and bad, a mix of selfless and stupidly "brave". She was kind of an iffy character for me, and I couldn't really decide if I liked her or not. As for other things that weren't bad, I did like the phobias that start the chapter, although sometimes they managed to ruin the surprise of some "shocking" things that were to happen.

It does seem like everyone has genuinely like this book but me, so maybe it's just me, but I don't know. It wasn't at all what I wanted it to be, really, and I had hoped for something that felt completely new with the pixies, since I don't read a lot of it, and I was let down.

Nonetheless, I'm not the only one who's read this book, and a whole lot of others have loved it. If you want another opinion, please check out this review by my friend Riley. Check it out from your library before buying is my suggestion.

Songs I listened to while reading:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review - Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

Amazon Link
Goodreads Link

Page Count: 505
Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars

Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities.

I've been pretty excited about this one for a bit now, because it seemed thoroughly demented. Which makes me sound crazy, but I like demented books. They're more interesting than some of the flowery "I am perfect" characters. I don't know. I kind of have something for twisted characters. They're interesting.

While, yes, this book is certainly twisted. Unfortunately, this is kind of one that focuses a whole lot on boys and how they're ruining everything for Fancy because Kit likes one. The summary mentions nothing about Ilan or Gabe, who both take up quite a lot of room in the book.

It kind of goes like this:

Kit and Fancy are really close. Like, seriously freaking close. Then Kit decides she really wants a boyfriend, and this ticks Fancy, who's kind of trying to stay a child, off. Every time Kit flirts with a boy, she either attempts to maim him or actually succeeds in doing so. Several chapters are taken up by how much Fancy hates Gabriel for dating her sister, because Fancy wants Kit to still be a little kid with her and be all innocent (yet she still wants to kill people, as well.).

This is that whole sisterly dependency that still bothers me. I just can't stand it. I don't have a sister, maybe that's why. Even so, it's a little annoying to have a character whose growth kind of relies on how much they can stop being clingy. Clingy characters are not fun.

I had really hoped this would be kind of horror movie-like. Murder spree doesn't entirely sum that up. I think there were five death scenes. I sound so demented, gosh. The death scenes were interesting though, because of Fancy and how she kills people.

I did like the ending, excluding the last few pages, even though it wasn't ever mentioned that it was what would drive the plot. Well, it drove some of it.

The writing style kind of teeters on the edge of annoying sometimes, mainly because of the superfluous use of "sophisticated" writing. Perhaps it's just me being annoyed with third person. I think third person could have its benefits, and this book had the elements to use it in a way that it wouldn't annoy me. I think if someone was going to have two characters and wanted to kind of show the insides of their heads (not like that, though. Even with this book, not like that.) without multiple POVs, then yeah, maybe that could help. That's kind of just preference, though. I'm sure that there are some of you out there who like third person more than first.

Even with all the things that bugged me, it wasn't a horrible book and maybe you'd like it. Check it out from your library before you buy it, maybe? I do warn you, though, there's some mature content in here. Cursing, gore, violence, so on. Not to mention there's also some, er, things Fancy walks in on, as well, so be prepared if you decide to read it.

Songs I listened to while reading:

(A little shout out to what Kit can do, if you've read the book.)

Amazing quote:
“When Fancy still didn't answer, he took her hand, and with his red paintbrush, he wrote 'please' into her palm.” 

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