NetGalley: A Primer

18 07 2012

So about six months ago I wrote about NetGalley, what it was, and how you can use it. There are two issues with this post: one, some parts of the post have become outdated as NetGalley has updated, and two, it wasn’t the easiest, IMO, to read or understand. So I present to you today, NetGalley: A Primer, which will hopefully be more up-to-date and easier to understand.

What is NetGalley?

The best explanation probably comes from Netgalley’s own home page: NetGalley delivers secure, digital galleys to professional readers. If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist, librarian, bookseller, educator, or in the media, you can use NetGalley for FREE to read and request titles before they are published.

Essentially NetGalley is a place where publishers can put secure, digital galleys (also called E-ARCs) online for readers, reviewers, librarians, bloggers, and the like to read and review.  The galleys are all secured and protected, and are only available on the site for a limited amount of time. (for instance a galley goes up in June and expires in August) The service started in 2008 and has since become extremely popular, with hundreds of publishers and authors using the site. If you want a full, comprehensive list of publishers that use the website, you can view Netgalley’s list here.  Many librarians, bloggers, reviewers, journalists, booksellers, educators, and the like really enjoy using the site, and say that it is a great way to get online digital ARCs. How do I join?Well, joining is fairly simple. Simply click the yellow Post-It note in the top header of the website. This Post-It note reads “Sign In or Register”.

sorry the picture is small. click to make bigger.

Once you click on the Post+It note, a new screen appears. If you are interested in registering, simply look at the side that reads “Join NetGalley, it’s free”. Below that is a small form that you are required to fill out that asks for your email, your name, country, and a login and password. *Also if you put in your role as a librarian, NetGalley asks for your ALA member number, but it is not required*

Once you fill out this form, the site welcomes you and asks you to check your email, where there is a required verification message that must be checked.

The email is fairly simple, just a link to click that redirects you to the website (basically a way to make sure that you aren’t a spammer). Once you have checked your email, you can go right ahead and start exploring NetGalley! So what can one do on this website, exactly?

Your Profile and why you need to fill this out (trust me, it helps)

One of the first things you should do once you have been verified is fill out your profile. You can get to your profile by clicking the “My Profile” button in the left sidebar.

Once you click on “My Profile” you fill out your contact information, such as your name, address, state, country, and email, as well as your web page, blog, or Twitter profile.

After you put in your contact information, you can create your Public Bio. Your Public Bio is basically all of the information about yourself that you want publishers to know. For instance, if you run a blog, but a link on there and display your info and stats (if you want). If you’re a librarian, bookseller, or teacher, write about the place you work and how you use ARCs. It’s essentially an open canvas for whatever you’d like to write about.

You can also add a picture and list what genres you enjoy reading. There is also a box to write down your biography and information. 

But there’s something pretty important about this bio, as silly as it seems. This bio is how publishers decide whether or not you will gain access to advanced reader’s copies. Yeah. It’s important. Publishers have different requirements for who they give the galleys to — for instance, they only give to librarians and booksellers, or you need to be a prominent blogger, etc, etc — and you can read the requirements here. So to have the best chance at getting the most galleys, make sure that your bio explains who you are, gives links to any websites such as blogs, etc. You can also check the publisher requirements if you’re curious what biographies publishers are looking for.

Onto the galleys  & searching for books

So you’ve registered, gotten your public bio filled out, it’s time to look for galleys that you would be interested in reading. NetGalley offers you three ways to look through the galleys in their catalog: by searching by publisher, by recent (newest titles), or by genre.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to use examples from the browse catalog by genre section, specifically the “Teens and YA” section.

The catalogs are organized in a fairly easy to read and understand way. There’s the picture of the book, the title, the author, the publisher, and a short, one – or -two line description. You can scroll through the pages to find new books and read about them. I’ll use Tiffany Schmidt’s Send Me a Sign, which is available on NetGalley at the time of this post (7/16/12) as an example.

You can see we have the title, the cover, the author, and the publisher. Below this is the pub date, ISBN, and the genres that the book falls into. The next part of this (tiny) snippet shows the first few lines of the book blurb. However, the book blurb cuts off and doesn’t tell us the “whole story”. So if you want more information, you need to click on “more info.” More info is just what it says:  more information about the book.

The information below (which is copy-pasted from NetGalley, as I was unable to take a screenshot of it) gives more information on Send me a Sign.

  Go to Catalog

Title: Send Me a Sign
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Imprint: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: October 02, 2012
ISBN: 9780802728401
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
URLs:
Author website :
Category:
FICTION – JUVENILE: Other

Edition Information
Print Editions:

Format: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 02, 2012
Pages: 384
Trim Size: 5 1/2″ x 8 1/4″
ISBN: 9780802728401
List Price: $16.99 USD

Marketing Copy

 

This A-lister has it all…the grades, the boys, and the friends. But can she survive “the Big C?”

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign shedidn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s an answer her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death.

TIFFANY SCHMIDT lives in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. She’s not at all superstitious . . . at least that’s what she tells herself every Friday the 13thSend Me a Sign is her first novel. http://www.tiffanyschmidt.net

 

You can see that once again we have the basics — title, author, ISBN, etc. Just what we had before in the other section. But there is a new addition here:  what the print edition will look like. These give us more information on what the amount of pages will be, etc, etc. Another thing that can be found in some NetGalley books is how the publisher will market the book, but that information is not found here. However, this section tells how the publisher will market and promote the book: will they promote to bloggers, give out ARCs at conferences, etc, etc.
This section is essentially details, but these details can be important to know and have.
The next section is the marketing copy that shows the full blurb, which was only hinted at on the NetGalley catalog page. The last section is about the author, and gives their bio and website. This again is more details and information.
One other thing that can be mentioned (and isn’t mentioned here) is reviews, or the reviews that the book has recieved. These can be from professional journals or blurbs from other authors.
So here’s what you should expect in about every NetGalley book’s full description: the basics (title, author, ISBN), what the print edition will look like, marketing, the full copy, and reviews. Some books will have all of these, others will not.
So now I want to request this galley, what do I do?
Look back up at Send Me a Sign. Next to the book title is a button that says “request”. What do you do if you want to request a book? Hit that button. I’m serious. It’s that easy.
All you have to do is hit the button. When you click this button, essentially you’re saying, “I’d like to read this, please consider me to let me read the book”.
Once you hit the button, another pop-up box comes up, telling you that your request has been processed, and if you are accepted the publisher will send you an email.
This is how the system works: when you submit a request, NetGalley sends your request to the publisher. They then can look at your stats and bio (this is why the bio is important!) and decide if they want you to have the galley. When they make their choice — yes or no — the publisher sends you an email telling you their answer.
This is the email from Bloomsbury for my request of Send Me a Sign. You’ll see that they said yes, but they also added a few specific details about when they want reviews going up and ask you to pay close attention to the archive date on the galley. Make sure, when you get these emails, that you pay close attention to what the publisher’s requests are.
Of course, you might not always get the “okay” from the publishers. If you do, it’s usually because of something with your bio, in my experience (so pay attention to that). If you do get dismissed, don’t feel disappointed. Try updating your bio if that’s the issue and request again, or try requesting another book.
If your request is approved, you can go to the home page of NetGalley and get your book by clicking on its title.
A couple more miscellaneous things — read now & auto-approve
There are also two other things to note about NetGalley: read now and auto-approve.
Read now is when you don’t have to send a request to the publisher. The publisher automatically accepts your request, without needing to approve it, and you can automatically read the book. This is not as common but it seems to be coming more popular with publishers who want to get their galleys to the most people possible.
Auto-approve is when a publisher automatically gives you access to all of their titles. Any title you request from  that publisher will automatically be accepted and you will again be able to read the book immediatly, without any approval or emails. Here’s an example of an auto-approve email:
This can be pretty handy.
and that’s the end
Well, this post is almost 2,000 words and I think I’ve said my piece. So do you have any other NetGalley tips and tricks? Leave them in the comments.
 

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My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

29 05 2012

 

 

 

 

A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

 

 

 

I am a complete unabashed lover of all things contemporary, and when I first heard of My Life Next Door I was excited. The book had a great concept — a girl in love with a boy, looking out her window and wishing that she had his life — and while it seemed a bit too much on the romance end for my tastes I was excited when I recieved an ARC for review.

Samantha Reed has the perfect life — or she should have the perfect life. Her mother is a high ranking senator, she has great friends, she’s popular, she has a good job. But she doesn’t care. Next door live the humongous family of the Garrets, with a gaggle of children. The Garrets are loud, they’re noisy, they’re somewhat obnoxious and often ridiculed for having so many children. And for Samantha, in her sort of own little world that’s supposedly perfect, this noise is what she dreams of — something that is so different from her house’s silence. So she watches the Garrets every night, admiring their chaos. When she starts to become closer to Jase — a hot Garrett near her age — she becomes more aquainted with the family and starts to leave her silent world. But of course, tragedy strikes and she must decide which family will help her.

One of the reasons I was so interested in reading My Life Next Door was the family aspect. (And I just checked when I added the book; Goodreads tells me September — wow). I love family stories, learning about a family’s own little subculture and their quirks and habits. My favorite parts of the plot were probably when Samantha intracted with all the Garrets. The Garrets are such a family; they argue and fight and have a “talking stick” to navigate family discussions. The people in the family are so realistic too — George is basically the quintessential preschooler, Dusty and the younger  brothers are elementary school personified, Jase and the older brothers are high school exactly, Alice is the college student.

When I read these scenes, I couldn’t help but smile — they seemed so realistic and the characters seemed like real people. They seemed like someone you would see in your neighborhood and talk to.

In other regards to the plot, I felt that the subplots were a bit finicky. The main subplots are Samantha’s fight with her best friend and her mother’s attempt to become reelected. Neither of these subplots ever seemed very developed and they both ended, for me, in very predictable ways. The mother’s plot is that she is dating a skeevy man working on her campaign and while I felt that she seemd realisticly engrossed in politics, I guessed what would happen right away. With the friendship plot Samantha and her best friend Nan have had a bit of a falling out — this plot seemed more cliche to me, as this same storyline (while important) has happened in many, many other good books. Both of the subplots seemed kind of shoved into the book, thrown in to add more “spice” to the story, and they seemed to detract from the main points of the story: the families and the (ah-ha) romance.

This review is already over five hundred words (long reviews ftw) and I haven’t even mentioned the romance. (Of course I wouldn’t discuss the romance for 556 words). The romance is the key selling point of the book. It isn’t the family or the politics or the best friend stories. While the family aspect is important, and the politics and best friend subplots also have their own importance, the main thing that this book has been marketed as is a

“ya contemporary teen romace, guareenteed to take your breath away”

and, yeah, that’s a cliche descriptor, but will it sell books? Will people go OMG I want my breath taken away and snatch up this book for $17.99 at their bookstore or online? Yes. But in terms of My Life Next Doorromance, this may not be the best descriptor. I felt that there was hardly any romance. There was romance, but it didn’t “take my breath away” and I felt like the book was really more about family then romance.

Jace and Samantha are in a relationship, and they are happy, and their romance is sweet — kissing and the “next level” — but I never really felt it. I never really felt those sparks and that love. It was sweet and happy and I would give the book to someone who enjoys romance, but for me I never felt their love. To be honest, I felt the love of the mom and her boyfriend more.

This book is Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, and she is a very strong writer. The writing was clear and easy to read, with a strong voice for Samantha.

I think that this would be a good book for readers interested in romance, but it would also be a good read for those interested in family stories. The book is a strong debut and I’m interested to see what Fitzpatrick writes next.

3 stars.

—–

I received this book as an ARC from Penguin.





ohmygod, or why i love melina marchetta

28 03 2012

Melina Marchetta is a perpetual fan favorite. If you check her books out on Goodreads, they all have at least a 4.0 rating (which is insane on the site, even with somewhat inflated ratings). And there is, of course, a running joke on the site that everyone loves Marchetta, which is true. She’s popular in both Australia and is taught in high schools there and in the US is well loved with weeks celebrating her.

It seems like everybody loves Marchetta!

And I can put myself into that camp.

I’ve read every single one of her books.

And how did I end up reading her? I started blogging. I’m absolutely serious. I started blogging and writing reviews on Goodreads (one of my favorite sites, fyi). Everyone loved Marchetta. And I figured, hey, I like contemp, I’ll check her out.

So I ordered Jellicoe Road. Now I have to order books often due to where I live, so just ordering a book is a bit of a gamble. What if I hate it? Then I’ll be out twenty dollars and returning’s a hassle. But everyone loved it. So I started to read the book at school, a bit confused by the notoriously confusing beginning and continued to read. And then I loved it. (You can read the crazy gushing/slightly melodramatic Goodreads review here.)

And then I found out, wait! Marchetta had written MORE books. Of course I was delighted. I headed over to my public library which, despite being extremely small, has plenty of Marchetta love, having almost all of her books in circulation.

I picked up Saving Francesca and Looking for Alibrandi. And I LOVED them. Their characters, plots, setting, writing, everything. Melina Marchetta had begun to establish herself to me, and I loved her books. I asked for Finnikin of the Rock for Christmas (and received it!). I requested Froi of the Exiles when it came on Netgalley from the US publisher and I hunted high and low for The Piper’s Son (the ONLY Marchetta I hadn’t read; I literally couldn’t find it anywhere) until I finally found it and patted myself on the back.

Yes, I am a Marchetta fangirl.

Yes, I will read any book she publishes (hello, Quintana of Charyn — I may just have to order it when it comes out in Aussieland).

Yes, I love her characters and her writing and her swoonable boys and her amazing plots and everything she has to offer.

But if there is one thing that I’m greateful to Melina Marchetta for, it’s this: she essentially introduced me to the world of fantastic YA literature.

Her books were really the first YA titles I read and seriously loved. I ordered Jellicoe Road when I was first getting interested in young adult, first starting to understand the beauty and elegance of it as I transistioned out of middle grade, which I had loved for so many years. I barely had any YA books, just a measley two or three. When people told me to read Marchetta, I listened. And ohmygod, thank goodness I listened.

I devoured her books. They were fantastic and amazing and my first real understanding of how impressive and rich and real YA could be, how it could push boundaries and be proactive and fascinating and explore family stories and friendships and romance, how it truly could save (ie the fantastic online reaction of YA Saves last year).

Melina’s books really helped me get a feel for how amazing contemp YA is, and how much I really truly love it. I read mostly contemporary, honestly, along with mystery and fantasy (with the Lumature Chronicles at the top of my list, obviously).

And Melina’s books showed me the amazingness of Aussie YA, an amazing sub genre I discovered, full of many great books either being released in the US or staying in their native homeland.

She really helped me understand and expand my horizons of YA, understand what good young adult literature is. I’m greatful to her and to the bloggers and reviewers who told me to read it (thank you, thank you!).

And I now recommend Marchetta any chance I can. I tell people to read her books, I tell them about Aussie YA and I tell them about the amazingness of YA. I’ll happily continue to read her books, as I have honestly enjoyed each and every one.

I could go on forever and ever about how much I love Marchetta and how frickin’ nice she is in real life (honestly, read this post for proof) but honestly I love, love, love her books and I’m so greatful to her for showing me how lovely and wonderful YA can be.

                                        Thank you, Melina.
Now, to wrap up this post, I created a button for people with Marchetta Fever, based on this review

You should, if you’re a true Marchetta fan, be able to understand the significance of the orange poppy. 🙂





A Brief History of Montamaray by Michelle Cooper

25 12 2011

“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings.”

Sophie Fitzosborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.

A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you.

Unfortunatly, Blogger is being stupid. View the review here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/242686371





Red Glass by Laura Resau

13 12 2011
ONE NIGHT SOPHIE and her parents are called to a hospital where Pedro, 6-year-old Mexican boy, is recovering from dehydration. Crossing the border into Arizona with a group of Mexicans and a coyote, or guide, Pedro and his parents faced such harsh conditions that the boy is the only survivor. Pedro comes to live with Sophie, her parents, and Sophie’s Aunt Dika, a refugee of the war in Bosnia. Sophie loves Pedro – her Principito, or Little Prince. But after a year, Pedro’s surviving family in Mexico makes contact, and Sophie, Dika, Dika’s new boyfriend, and his son must travel with Pedro to his hometown so that he can make a heartwrenching decision .
I….I don’t know how to adequetly express how I feel about this book. It’s amazing and fantastic and so impressive. Laura Resau certainly has made me enjoy her novels, and I have read the majority of them. But I read Red Glass last. I had liked the sweeping, isolated mountain setting of an indengenious culture in What the Moon Saw ; the racially-divided Ecuador of The Queen of Water; and the globe-hopping scenes of the Notebook series (Mexico in The Indigo Notebook and France in The Ruby Notebook . But Red Glass, with its fantastic characters, lovingly crafted plot, and character arcs, and the setting of small villages in Mexico and towns in Guetamala, captivated me the most.

The story is about Sophie, a sixteen year old girl who’s afraid of everything, from her mother and stepfather being murdered to being robbed by strange figures on the train and germs found in resturants. She lives with her parents and her eccentric great-aunt Dika, a refugee from Bosnia. She constantly is afraid, getting upset if her parents are minutes late or if someone sneezes. One night, they get a late-night phone call from the Border Patrol. Seven illegal immigrants, crossing the desert from Mexico to Tuscon, New Mexico, have been found dead. One young boy no older than six or seven survived, with Sophie’s stepfather’s buisness card in his pocket. No one knows who the boy is, and so the Border Patrol asks Sophie’s family to foster the boy, named Pedro. Sophie quickly nicknames him Principito, or “Little Prince.”

But a year passes, and Pedro remains stoic. No one can get him to engage in activities, get happy or excited. He behaves, but won’t interact. All he wants to do is sleep with the chickens outside, no matter how many beds and mattresses they try to find him. After a while, Sophie’s parents manage to contact Pedro’s remaining family in a village in Mexico. Pedro’s family decides that Sophie, Dika, Dika’s boyfriend Mr. Lorenzo, and Lorenzo’s son Angel will go visit Pedro’s old village and see if that helps. Sophie is afraid of the dangers of Mexico — corrupt cops, dangerous food, drug dealers — but agrees to go for her Principito.

Golly, the characters are amazing. Resau fleshed them all out, with backstories and realistic dialogue, actions, and arcs. Dika is a refugee from Bosnia escaping civil war; Mr. Lorenzo and Angel are illegal immigrants in search of jewels; and Pedro is a small boy who spent days crossing a treacherous desert. The character arcs are fantastic. Sophie truly changes, first in subtle ways, and then in larger ways that echo loudly and don’t make it seem like Resau was just trying to show over and over again that yes, yes, Sophie had changed . All of the characters are strong and impressive and amazing. Dika completely breaks the boundaries of “old fat grandma”; Angel is a sweet, caring boy that makes a fantastic love interest; and Mr. Lorenzo is a sweet man straddled between two cultures.

The setting is also fantastic. Resau vividly describes markets and streets and smells and foods with the eye of someone who’s been there, seen that (she’s a travel writer and English as a Second Language — primiarily with Mexican students — teacher). Everything is vivid in your mind, and you can truly tell that Resau took time to learn the language, took time to learn the people and culture.

And now the writing. Oh my god, the writing. Resau’s words flow off the page, flowery and beautiful without being dramatic. The writing is goregous and sweet and still sounds like Sophie’s voice, a teenage girl in two cultures and hiding from everything. I paused and reread every sentence, reading it for the cadence, the beauty. It was more than just a sentence or a predicate — it was a beauty. Resau’s a fantastic writer in all her books, and she’s been very well critically accliamed with plenty of starred reviews. But Red Glass took my breath away.

The plot isn’t predictable, with both funny (Sophie gets hit on by a drunk cop at a picnic) and heartwarming (Pablo seeing his grandmother again). You truly care for all the characters, and hope and wonder they’re doing okay. The climax grabs your heartstrings in the end, but you understand the decisions and character motives with what happens in the climax. Resau has crafted a brilliant, rich plot, and managed to even tie Saint-Expery and The Little Prince into the novel’s six parts.

I highly recommend this novel and the rest of Resau’s books. They have fantastic writing and immerse you in cultures you never knew. A great read that will appeal to contemporary fans, romance fans, those who want to be immersed in another world, and people interested in cultures and geography. Highly recommended.

Five stars.





Those Books You Just Love

3 10 2011

I had planned to do a review today, but it turns out that’s not possible (I’m still reading Paper Towns). Then I planned to do a review of ARCs….but my ARC isn’t in my poessission at the moment. (I am getting it back soon, so wait for that post.)

So instead I’m going to talk about something else. Amazing books.

Recently it seems I’ve read a lot of amazing books.

 Like this one:

And this one:

And:

So I’ve been lucky lately, reading a torrent of books. And I’ve adored all three of those books, and the next few books I have lined up sound just as great. So, I’ve been wondering: what makes these books great? What sets them apart from the rest? What makes them Printz Award winners (Jellicoe Road), New York Times Bestsellers (Looking for Alaska) and books that aren’t released but already filled with hype (Liesl and Po)? I came up with three reasons why. The reasons are simple, but they really truly impact the story.
So,  PAIGE’S TOP THREE REASONS WHY THESE BOOKS WORK:
  1. Characters Just thinking about the stories, the characters pop into my mind. Strong, erratic Taylor. Shy, timid, Liesl. Bright, fun loving Po, filled with humor. Sexy babe Alaska, erratic and exciting. Self-deprecatating Miles. Just thinking about those characters, they all pop into my mind fully fledged. And why? The authors took time. They took time to show their characters, bring out their personalities. Just the simple things — Miles’s humor, Liesl’s drawing talents, Taylor’s anxiety — make them different, set them apart from all the other characters in MG and YA now. They’re not simply thrown onto the page and expected to be loved; you learn about the characters and grow to love them that way. The characters are all original and creative: Miles memorizes the last words of famous people; Taylor is the leader of a secret underground community; and Liesl posesses a great magic. In writing, I always hear the same thing over and over: describe your characters, show them, don’t tell or info dump. And these authors truly did that.
  2. Plot More and more, it seems, plots are becoming cliche. You know, the same old “girl meets boy, falls in love” or “girl discovers she posesses a power”. And all three of the books — Jellicoe, Alaska, and Liesl — that I’ve read recently fall into those tropes. Liesl has a power; Alaska and Miles fall in love; Taylor and Jonah start a relationship. But it’s more than that. The authors make the story original, twist the cliches into something better. Another saying I hear sometimes is cliche can be good. If used wisely and carefully, cliches can make a story better. Another thing is the originality. These are the plots of the three books: girl leads an underground community in a territory war; girl sets off on a journey with a magical box; boy finds himself attracted to danger. Those descriptions have elements of cliche in them, but they truly become more. There aren’t many stories with those kinds of things in them, making the stories more and more different. Check the recent New York Times Bestseller lists — readers want something more, something new. Recently, I was talking to a few people who said that they thought certain people on a website’s ideas were getting less original. Green, Marchetta, and Oliver surely didn’t fall into those tropes; instead, they triumphed over cliche and made their plots original.
  3. Magic This last example is hard to explain. There’s magic in these books — but for different reasons. Oliver’s prose sings, full of lyricism and excitement. Marchetta’s characters are amazingly full-fledged, breaking steroytpes and cliches and becoming poignant and beautiful. Green has a mix of all three: great characters, prose and amazing descriptions. Their magic, their talents make the story sing, make the story rise above tropes and cliches. The author’s talents are truly what makes the story amazing, and it is obvious all three of them worked hard on their novels. Magic is what makes people love the story, what makes it rise above the “good” to “OHMYGOD AMAZING”. Magic is different for every story, for every author, but when you find a book that has magic it is truly something to behold.
So there you have it — what makes me love a book. What makes you love a book? It might be different. I want to know.
Also, I recommend all three books (though Liesl will be released November 2011). They all sing with magic.
Thanks,
Paige




Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

27 09 2011

In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
Why I read this book: I had found a lot of recommendations for the book and thought it sounded interesting. I checked out some reviews on Goodreads and instantly decided to buy the book, a choice I’m glad.
How did I get the book: Bought
In Jellicoe Road, Taylor Markham attends The Jellicoe School, a school for juvenile delinquents and more (including four arsonists in Taylor’s house alone) in Australia. The school commences territory wars each year with the in-town Townies and visiting military school member Cadets.  In her junior year, Taylor is assigned to be the head of the Underground Community, as it is called, and lead Jellicoe in the battle wars.
That’s the basics of the story – but there is so much more. Taylor’s story is interspersed with another tale, one that takes place eighteen years earlier and involves five teenagers—Webb, Fitz, Jude, Narnie, and Tate– and their plans. I’m afraid I can’t say much about the tale due to spoilers, but it unfolds through excerpts from a manuscript about the story. Occasionally the jump cuts between Taylor and Webb & Co.’s story were a bit abrupt, but they were seamed together very well.
Taylor’s character was spot-on. She was honest, angry, tough, but very kind. Marchetta drew her character in an elegant way, showcasing every side of Taylor in a fascinating way. Occasionally it would seem as if Taylor would only ever cry – but for good reasons. Jonah is another example of a great character. When I first saw the summary, and started to read, I’ll admit I rolled my eyes. He seemed like just another angst-driven teen who falls in love with the MC. But he is much, much more, and I think that he is less of a love interest then a friend. Romance isn’t the key part of the novel, either, and the true romance happens late in the book.
The supporting characters were just as wonderful —  Hannah and Jessa both could be annoying but sweet, Chloe P was the cutest girl, and Chaz was charming and his friendship with Raffy perfect. I cannt honestly say anything better about these characters, but they are wonderful and fascinating and potrayed well.
Webb & Co were also lovely, though I shall remain from discussing their personalities in depth.
The plot was fantastic. At the beginning, the reader is entirely confused, as the stories are meshed together rather quickly. It can be confusing and bewildering, as a lot of information is wrested on you in the first few chapters. It’s not an info- dump, however, but more a wave of confusion and you must piece together the pieces.
The territory wars end in the middle of the book, but there is a good reason why. Really, there is a reason for everything, every character, every plot point, every setting and detail and example. Marchetta does an excellent job putting together the pieces, and what more could one ask for in a mystery novel?
The setting is well portrayed, though I wanted to know more about what the houses look like. The inside wasn’t described much, but I did get a clear view of the trails and woods surrounding Jellicoe. And the road, I think, is the most important part of the entire book. Jellicoe Road, I’ll admit, is the first book I’ve read where it makes sense to have a flower on the cover.
Taylor’s story kept me gripped, and I read the nearly 400 pages in a day. The story moves quickly, and there is plenty of romance, drama, excitement, and mystery to satisfy nearly any reader. I would recommend the story for all interested in romance, mystery, drama, and plenty of excitement.
The story is a bit like the Jellicoe Road: long and winding and confusing on your first drive down, but as you continue on it becomes clearer and clearer. Stick with the story, and you will always remember Taylor and Jonah and Chloe P and Jessa and Hannah and Webb and Fitz and Tate and Narnie and Jude and Raffy and everyone else. Because a trip down the Jellicoe Road is one of the greatest trips you will ever make.

5 stars. Absolutely recommended.