Winner: Partials and When the Sea is Rising Red

The winner of PARTIALS and WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED is: Onge (chic***!
Congrats! I have your address so I'll be mailing them out this weekend. Thanks to everyone who entered! I'll try to put up some more contests soon. (:
Sinceeee I'm obviously failing at reviewing, GAH. I have recently become an iPhone vampire, who sucks all its battery just reading online fiction. WHAT IS A PAPER BOOK; I don't know anymore.
... but I'll try rediscovering them when I have time -- plus motivation. ;u;

Books aside, we're going to celebrate my friend's 18th birthday by going to the movie theaters. Her birthday's on March 24th, so we all know what that means... THE HUNGER GAMES, yesss.
You midnight watchers, I'm jealous. And take me with you.
(If you're going to cosplay, that would be the awesomest-thing-since-ice-cream. I don't think I quite have the guts to cosplay the day after, but if you are, TELL ME! I will worship you, especially if you have pics. ;D)

Signing off until next time, me bookwormies-

Giveaway: Partials and When the Sea is Rising Red!

Ack, I keep on disappearing because, honestly, I haven't been really into reading YA lately. I don't know if it's a temporary thing or a more far-reaching thing, but I've instead been picking up a lot of adult paranormal and action romance novels. I don't know why either, ugh.

But a quick giveaway post since I do have to disappear ASAP to prep some more for my IB orals tomorrow! My books - and this blog - have been looking pretty lonely, so I'm giving away ARCs of PARTIALS by Dan Wells and WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED by Cat Hellisen. I just reviewed PARTIALS and I should get around to posting a mini-review of WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED, whose magical component (and gorgeous cover, imo) drew me in. And it was pretty good, if different.

Anyways, please excuse the sparse post. I'll end the giveaway around two weeks from today, email the winner, and get the books to the post as soon as I can. U.S. and Canada peeps only for this one, sorry! 

Hopefully I'll be seeing more of you guys soon~ //pleads to the YA gods to give me reading motivation again

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Dan Wells' website here // $10.98 from {amazon}
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 28, 2012)
Hardcover: 480 pages
Source: Publisher
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Summary: 

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade.
Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

My Thoughts:  

Why, hello, PARTIALS. Thank you for the pleasant reintroduction to YA dystopian novels. You’re not without your flaws, but, still, you have some serious awesome.

PARTIALS had me completely engrossed – from somewhere halfway through the book. The introduction was slow, understandably so, given the intricate world it had to provide a foundation for. But if my beginning thoughts were like “hm, this is interesting,” my thoughts after the first hundred pages were “…okay, sure. Proceed already.” The background info and dialogue made it obvious what was going to happen and the characters didn’t appear dynamic or personable; it was more a matter of just waiting for the “real action” to start rather than truly anticipating it.

That’s not to say PARTIALS isn’t full of action, of course. It is. But the quality of its action corresponds with the plot; when the plot moves, action sprints behind it. When it’s awesome, it’s awesome. When it’s not… it’s not. If you start on flat ground, the action and plotline are like climbing up a tall, 400-page tall hill with occasional dips, thought it ultimately leaves you with a tantalizing cliff. Conversely, the character development is like walking a plateau. There is character development, but it’s the generic, expected kind that moves an inch every 100 pages. Kira may become more open-minded, sure, but I saw that potential from the beginning. What I didn’t and still don’t know is what does she like to do? What are her favorite things? IS she ever selfish? If I had to sum up each character – main, secondary, etc. – I feel like I could accomplish it in three words, one each for: personality trait, history, and role. They’re not dislikeable per se, but they’re also not memorable.

What IS memorable is the world. There was just enough substance to draw me in yet still hints at so much more to come. When I think PARTIALS, I think RM virus, which is what really intrigued me in the later half. Sure, I’m slightly nerdy, but it’s basic science that’s easily understandable and it amplifies the dystopian setting and unique plotline. The novel does seem a bit rushed towards the end, when the action and the scientific discoveries really get kicked up some hundreds of notches, but if that’s what the sequel promises: PLEASE GIVE ME MORE.

For now, having finished PARTIALS a few days ago, when I look at it I see a book that didn’t personally touch me, but subtly swept me along its journey of ass-kicking and world-saving. Original, intriguing, and promising – but not blinding with brilliance. Ramp up the action and plot movement (the twists at the end are great, the beginning-to-middle is fairly predictable), flesh out the characters, and this series just may stomp its way up my list of top YA dystopian reads.  

I finished typing up the thoughts up there and realized I completely forgot to mention romance. And, if you know me, romance is like THE reason I live. So romance, while evident in PARTIALS, really takes the back seat for two reasons: 1) again, character issue. If I don’t relate well with the characters (Samm = the only exception right now, though I don’t feel like I know him well enough), it’s hard for me to strongly back their relationships, and mostly 2) romance just isn’t that much of a focus. Or if it is meant to be a key point, I was just too enthralled with other things to really notice. And that’s good, really.

My criticisms might sound harsh but that’s only because I see potential and really, really hope to see it realized. To quote the cover, “the only hope for [my character-loving, dystopian-desiring heart] isn’t human.” (answer: it's more Partials! ;) )

My Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Bottom Line:  If you're in the mood for an unique new dystopian world, check it out. If you're looking for personable characters or exceptional prose, I think you're looking at the wrong book. //shrug

Cover: It's dystopian and YA, I guess. Pretty bland, but I like the colors, especially the fiery clouds.

Dear reader, (letter from my soul)

part one: introduction

Hi, I'm Jenn, and I'm the blogger at this lonely, neglected YA book blog.

 Reintroduction because it's been MONTHS since my last post. I'M SORRY. ;u;

But I'm officially a second semester senior, which means I'm cruising through life, haha. Or at least until May with IB and AP exams, right? Also officially Cornell 2016 so if you're there/going to be there, give me a shoutout and we can hangout and talk YA! //life goal fulfilled

Just a quick update for now because I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE that I will post up at least one review this week. Some publishers have been amazing and have still sent me some 2012 releases that I was salivating over last year. Though, for some reason, I've been in a reading rut since my last post... I think I've read a grand total of four YA books since then?

It's the first time I've ever had a reading block this bad but I just read the Goddess Test by Amy Carter yesterday and it kind of reminded me why I loved/love YA. So hopefully that's a sign that I'll move past it soon, but I'll make a conscious effort over the next couple days. Partially because I want to put up some reviews, mostly because it feels good to rediscover something you love, right? :)


part two: ramblings on who I am & blogging

This break and the relief from college worries really makes me look past at my past posts in a new light. My review style constantly changed because I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a more polished or more personable reviewer. I get inspired by so many things - which also applies to my art - and it just doesn't work with my personality; I want to be good at everything, even if I'm not the best. My tragic flaw, hm?

My new resolution is thus to just be ME when I review. I think my favorite format is taking notes while I read and sticky beautiful quotes - when I happen to have stickies nearby, haha. That way I can really separate the experience and my analysis of the book's objective merit. And, you know, the latter isn't all that fun sometimes. So I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing, but probably look for reviews in a much less structured, less formal format. Hopefully you're used to my endless brain babble by now so it won't be too much of a culture shock.

Another or maybe just more general resolution of mine is to relax in general. I still love, love, love YA but I have the shortest attention span ever, lol. When I get too immersed in something, I fizzle out quickly. And whenever I take a break from blogging and want to come back, I feel like it's jumping in an ice cold river. The YA blogosphere is amazing in its dynamic nature - but it's also slightly intimidating sometimes, keeping up with the latest hype, the upcoming releases, and the newest crushes. In the past, when I returned from a hiatus, I really RETURNED. Yes, in caps. To be a "good" blogger (take the "good" how you will), I stalked other blogs obsessively and was always planning some way to make my blog better for readers. But isn't that a good thing? I think so - in moderation. Not when I'm literally spending every evening, the entire evening minus maybe a half an hour of schoolwork and two hours of instrumental practice, on doing those two blog-related things. That's just my personal opinion though, and I greatly respect the amazing bloggers who are able to chug endlessly with that kind of dedication. But that's just not me, and this cycle of complete dedication to disinterest to re-dedication applies to all my other interests as well. Gaming, drawing, watching dramas. Cycle between all of those and you have my hobbies for a year. Can I balance them? I'm trying.

I'm not sorry to be who I am, but I'm sorry if I can't be the blogger you would like me to be. By "you," I don't mean anyone who's reading this, but this omnipresent "you" that I've felt through my scant years of blogging. This constantly watchful "you" who always pressures me to be better.
Do you have that "you" too?


part three: the summary

If you just read that huge wall of text, you probably know me better than some of my friends too. Honestly, this post started as a quick update but instead took an hour to type.

And that's good. That's what blogging should be, in my opinion. A catharsis and a place for sharing our love of books. It's just been a hard journey for me to truly realize that and not just pay it lip-service. Don't get me wrong, Books At Midnight HAS been those two things for me; it and its amazing-lovely-can-never-compliment-enough readers have been here supporting me through difficult times (oh you, teenage angst) and I love all the discussions and the swooning over eye candy. But it's also been a quest to be better, and while I still hope to become better as a reader and a blogger of useful/enjoyable/both reviews, I want to drop the part where it's a quest for numbers or a quest for acknowledgement. Yeah, I like knowing that people read and appreciate what I have to say, but having a YA-interested friend is so much more important. So thank you so much, Books At Midnight and my faithful readers/followers/friends/companions on this YA journey.

I LOVE YOU GUYS AS MUCH AS EDWARD LOVES BELLA. Which is a whole lot, okay.

... while I'm coming clean, I made this blog to get FREE BOOKS. Don't lie, who doesn't like them? Some people say that don't start a blog to get books. But when you're 13 and broke, it's hard; I get it. Or maybe you're 28 or 96 and you just like free things. I can understand too. So while you may start a book blog just (or mostly) for free books, don't continue blogging just for free books. The time investment isn't worth it. What IS worth it is if you can move past that and blog because (or mostly because) you truly love YA. And I do so, so much. And it's so, so worth it.  
//end cheesy advice that probably everyone knows


part four: other stuff

EMAIL: if you emailed me over the past who knows how long, I've probably missed it. I'll probably respond to more recent emails (maybe, probably), but if you'd really like to contact me and I haven't responded, please email again. Sorry! Additionally, I probably won't be actively seeking interviews or guest posts as much anymore, so if you'd like to be featured, shoot over an email! That being said, I'll probably also be accepting less to review, but it's all up in the air at the moment.

And when I say my email is open to anything book-related, I mean it. So don't be scared to email me because I'm a lonely, lonely person who just sits at home all day and grows fat and watches my invisible cats.

And now I must really get back to math project that I should have been doing during this time, lol. Do these personal glimpses make me feel like a person, or do they just feel weird?
Either way, I'll be an adult this year and AH THE WONDERS OF MATURITY that have driven me to right this soul-baring, embarrassingly long, somewhat redundant, and extremely rambling letter.
I will probably look back at this and want to hide under a rock. But I'm not going back to reread (and thus edit, agh) it because I want this to be an honest divulging of my thoughts. 

If you just read that entire thing, I am in eternal awe.

Happy Chinese new year! I've posted an art piece I did for Chinese new year below just to prove I haven't been ENTIRELY slacking - just kind of. And to truly wish everyone a new zodiac year filled with joy, prosperity, yummy food, and great books!

Your forever silly yet devoted blogger,