Testing “The Awesome Author Recommender” Tool

I was scrolling through Reddit this morning and discovered a neat little link called “The Awesome Author Recommender.” Similar to sites like WhatShouldIReadNext, it is a site that recommends you authors based on previous ones you have read. The site claims to use real people, not a computer formula, to recommend an author to you.

Excited to try it out, I first put in Marissa Meyer, the author of one of my favorite YA series, The Lunar Chronicles.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Well, I suppose Marissa Meyer isn’t the most widely read of authors. For the heck of it, I also tried Ernest Cline, whose books are certainly selling quite a bit at the moment.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Oh well, we’ll keep trying.

How about a YA romance novelist who has been writing and publishing a multitude of books for years now?

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I do like that the site at least gives me a brief description of the author, even if it can’t make any recommendations to me.

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Hold that thought; no recommendations or even a description of J.K Rowling? Perhaps I’m pushing this a little far, but isn’t she British? This is a British website. Yikes.

Figuring I was being a tad unfair by choosing the previous authors, I tried Jane Austen, in honor of my current read, Pride and Prejudice. Surely something will come up.

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Screenshot of Awesome Author Recommender

Oh dear. That’s a problem.

In a desperate attempt to get the website to make any recommendation to me, I just started searching random authors. Classic ones, modern ones, anything. I also tried ones it automatically began to suggest to me as I typed.

Thankfully, I did get some recommendations, including for Karen Thompson Walker, one of my favorite authors, who has only written one book. Why she is in there but not Jane Austen, I am not entirely sure. Nevertheless, I am certainly intrigued by the site’s sole recommendation to me.

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Lauren Oliver. I clicked “View Books”, and this is what it gave me:

Screenshot of LoveReading's Lauren Oliver page.

Screenshot of LoveReading’s Lauren Oliver page.

Below this was more of her featured books, as well as other books by her, which can be sorted by paperback, hardcover and audiobook.

For fun, I tried out the “compare prices” tool that the site offers on her book, Rooms.

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Gotta love loading symbols.

After several minutes of waiting, I decided to try a different book to compare prices with.

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5 minutes later, I was still looking at this picture.

Oh, boy. I really, really wanted to say something good about this site. For the sake of this experiment, I kept the tabs loading, and even tried them in other internet browsers. Nada.

As other reddit users are saying, the idea of this tool is great. It is unique and pretty close to the experience you’d get asking a librarian for recommendations, yet with a wider scope. Ideally, at least. But there are far too many holes in the site’s author database, and too little recommendations given when you even find an author that is in the database. (For example, I was given just one recommendation for Karen Thompson Walker.) Perhaps in a few months, or however long it takes to add more authors to the database, this will be a fun and worthwhile tool for readers. But at this moment in time, I just don’t think it is ready.

Try out the site for yourself and let me know what you think and/or find! If it were more complete, would it be a useful tool to you? Comment below!  http://authormachine.lovereading.co.uk

P.S If you saw my tweet on twitter, I redid my Tumblr page and am now posting on it again! Hooray! Give it a follow for some cute bookspiration!

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Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This one may come as a surprise to you. Contemporary romance books are usually not my forte, but I decided to pick this up for two reasons:

1) Beautiful book cover
What can I say, I’m a sucker for pretty covers.

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Cover image from Goodreads.

2) The protagonist sounded kind of like me
She plays clarinet, and the same part as me, for one thing. (Well, I’m third clarinet now, but I always was second. Never really figured out how my teacher decided to split up the parts. Either way, at least I’m first chair of Clarinet 3!)  That in itself won me over.

Synopsis

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Description screenshot from Goodreads

I love how this book takes a depressing topic, grief, and manages to make it a sweet and fun book. It manages to address these topics without making you feel down, and that is pretty amazing.

Because of the love triangle that goes on in this novel, you’ll be struggling by “shipping” Lennie with the guy of your choice. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of Toby. Joe has my heart. *I can’t believe I just said that on the internet…*

Anyway, this is a really well done contemporary YA romance that even I enjoyed reading. Pick it up; you won’t be disappointed. Until you finish reading it, that is.

I give The Sky is Everywhere 5 stars!

And psst… My next review coming in the next week or so is of the first book in a new sci-fi series. Stay tuned!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

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Screenshot of book summary from Goodreads

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The entire time I read this book, I kept thinking, this is so unoriginal. Isn’t this exactly what The Night Circus is, but in YA form? Well, to be fair, it isn’t that similar. So never mind that. But something still holds me back about this book.

I found the writing language simple and kind of lacking detail. As an aspiring myself, I’m a fan of showing and not telling. (I’m known for my writing style which is very, well, florid.) However, this means that this book could have some appeal to the young to mid-age teens, as it is so easy to read.

I did enjoy the elements of romance and mystery in this book. They kept the story going. But of course the romance in the novel was your typical swoon-worthy but not all that realistic YA romance, so keep that in mind.

Girl on a Wire was my first magic book. I normally read sci-fi, dystopia, fantasy, those sort of books. I obviously dabble into other things, but generally speaking, those are where it’s at. Yet, there’s something undoubtably special about this book, whether it be the nostalgia of a circus or the allure of the magic in this circus. I give it 3/5 stars, because it is worth at least checking out. I’m sure if this book falls into the right hands, it’ll make someone very happy. It just didn’t make it onto my list of favorite books of all time.

If you’ve read and liked The Night Circus, or wanted to read it but thought it was too long, try Girl on a Wire. And after, you can dream of being the next Nik Wallenda and imagine yourself pirouetting on a tightrope as gracefully as Jules Maroni can.

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline+ a discussion of hype

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I was so ecstatic with how this book ended that as soon as I finished it  I went straight to my personal tumblr to rave about it. Sometimes I get a little overexcited about books and then later realize maybe that book wasn’t as great as I just made it appear. Ready Player One is definitely an awesome, fantastic book for both YA and adult readers alike, but does it deserve the amount of hype it has been given?

My Synopsis
It’s the year 2044. Nowadays, there’s two “worlds”; the real one, which kind of sucks, and the virtual world, the OASIS. The OASIS is not just a game; there are real schools with real classes and diplomas, a stable currency with physical monetary equivalence, and a social hierarchy. Really, you’ve got to be careful you don’t start replacing your real life with the virtual one you have. But there is one big thing that draws more and more people into the OASIS. Its creator, James Halliday, dies and leaves his (huge) fortune to nobody. It is designated for the first person who can find his easter egg in the OASIS. But this is no easy egg to find, of course, and people will do anything to get at it. This egg will change someone’s life in a big, big way. And that’s when you meet our protagonist, Wade Watts.

To address some critics of this novel..
– One critical reviewer said this book gets hype because of the nostalgia, but that the author just name drops everything. For one, I’m not an eighties child. I know almost nothing about the eighties, so nostalgia is not what won me over about the novel. I can see how some things were kind of name dropped, but it didn’t seem like the author put a conscious effort into trying to make himself look smart or something. Those “name drops” are descriptions and are part of the experience of reading this book. Obviously, those of you who haven’t read it are probably thinking, whaa?? The novel is enriched by the loves of James Halliday, like his favorite music and movies. Cline references these things plus other “nerdy” tidbits such as animes like Gundam. But you don’t need to get these references to enjoy the novel.

At first, I almost wanted to kick someone because the book begins by telling you Wade wins the egg. I was like, are you kidding me? You just spoiled the whole book! What’s the point of reading if I know who got the egg? Then I realized that the main point of the story is not that he finds the egg. So no, that’s not spoiling anything.

Back to enjoying the novel, RPO is a nice blend of sci-fi with modern times. After all, it isn’t too hard to imagine a future like this one.

I think the hype around the novel is justified. I’m not a gamer, but if you are, I can totally see you loving this book. You’ll feel like you’re playing a game too, yet your brain is actually learning from it. Ha! (Although I love video games, lol)

Ready Player One is on a bridge between YA and Adult fiction, or what I am going to call part of the “lower level” adult fiction category. When I say that, I don’t mean low quality. I just mean that this is a novel YA readers can easily read and enjoy, although it is elevated from YA fiction.

So here’s the question of the day; would you want to live in a virtual world? How would it benefit you?

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meaghan Spooner

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I had just finished checking out a haul of books from the library after my shift and was signing out in the office when the teen librarian and I began chatting. He’s always very curious to see what is on my tbr, so naturally, he wanted to know what books I’d just picked out. One look at These Broken Stars and his eyes lit up. “Christina, you’d better start that early in the day. You won’t be able to put it down.” He said.

Of course, I couldn’t wait until the morning to start it. I ignored the advice, and began reading it late into the night, thinking I’d sample it before bed at least. Well, I fell asleep at 12:30 am “sampling” the novel, and woke up with the book in my arms. I opened my eyes, and guess what I did? I stayed in bed until I finished reading it, looked at the clock; it was nearly noon. Oops!

I think you can tell by now that I really, really enjoyed the book. I’ll tell you why.

TBS is the story of the downfall of a top-of-the-line spaceliner the Icarus. Suddenly, the Icarus is “yanked out of hyperspace” and crashes on a nearby planet, killing everyone on board, seemingly, but Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen. Lilac is the priveleged daughter of the wealthiest man in the universe, while Tarver is a young war hero. The two opposites are forced to battle their new territory together, with all its strange plants, animals and hauntings, in order to survive what could be an eternity alone. Duh duh duh!!!

Holy hell. There is something so beautiful about this book, cover aside. (Don’t worry, I’ll rant about that in the next paragraph.) The plot, the characters, everything. As someone who is a bit squeemish, I also sincerely appreciate how some things were disturbing but without the graphic imagery that books like those in the Across the Universe trilogy supplied. Don’t get me wrong, that trilogy is still one of my all time favorites in the YA sci-fi genre, but I think it’s amazing if a writer can send chills down your spine without forking over all the gruesome details. (I will never forget that scene in Shades of Earth. Ever. Wish I could tell you what I’m thinking of!)

And of course, the showstopper here is the cover. This is hands-down one of my favorite book covers of all time. It’s gorgeous and fits the book perfectly. (*cough*, Half Life of Molly Pierce step up your cover game *cough* *cough*) I mean, I’d get this cover framed and hang it in my room. Seriously. I’m that obsessed with it. (Aka, I am that insane.)

Now, I can’t write this review and not tell you the one thing that bugged me. I honestly hated Lilac for the first quarter of the book. She was just so prissy and annoying. That’s not a fault in the writing, though, since it is part of her characterization and she grows throughout the book. I’m just saying, I could not stand her sometimes. Thank God for Tarver. But no worries, because Lilac comes around. What comes around goes around. Wait no, what am I saying?

I give These Broken Stars a 5/5 stars!

Whether you are a newbie to YA sci-fi or a seasoned sci-fi aficionado, I think you’ll enjoy the unique mystery and romance this book has to offer. And of course, you should all check out Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy, because that is amazingness. (My review is here: http://wp.me/p4MMvX-2c). Seriously I do not know that I could pick one over the other. They may both be sci-fi, but the stories are so different from one another!

And of course, you all remember when I fan-girled over this;

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I’m getting my paws on the sequel for sure. I’ll probably be tweeting my thoughts of it as I read it, so check the post signature for details on where to follow me! (P.S I am finally going to re-link my tumblr to my social media page this week, so get excited for that too!)

So that’s it folks! I know this is a weird time for me to post but I could not wait to get this review out there for you. I’m looking forward to hearing from you guys about TBS, Across The Universe, or any other YA sci-fis you love!!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Friday’s Finds!!

So many books, so little time! As if you needed your TBR piles to be even bigger, here’s this week’s Finds! All images and screenshots are from Goodreads.

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This book sounds incredibly creepy- a thousand dolls and murders?!?- but also so interesting. The description had me at deadly mystery.

And onto sci-fi…
Lock in by John Scalzi

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This reminds me of locked-in syndrome (anyone ever see The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, the movie? It’s a French movie; that is the English title) but taken to a whole new level. I am definitely intrigued by this one.

Find anything intriguing this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”

Review: The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

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Description screenshotted from Goodreads

Genre: YA, psychological-mystery

The Half Life of Molly Pierce, (or Half Life, as I’m going to abbreviate it), is another one of those books that doesn’t tell you very much about it on the inside cover but what it tells you is more than enough to get you excited to read it. (I.e We Were Liars by E. Lockhart) It was not what I was expecting at all – in a good way. (If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll remember I said “holy schnitzel” in reference to the book.)

So as not to spoil anything, let’s jump to the part where I tell you if it is worth reading or not.

It’s a short, fast-paced read. You’ll want to read it in one sitting, or at least you’ll be forced to read it in one sitting. It’s too engrossing to put down, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is no psychological-thriller. (Sorry ladies, no hot zombies here!) It’s a mystery of a girl who has blank gaps in her memory and is beginning to remember and fill them.

I couldn’t think of any books Half Life was similar to until about 3/4 of the way through, so I think it is safe to say this novel is quite original. I like the use of first-person perspective rather than third-person omniscient, because you get to be in Molly’s head, and you get to (hooray!?) struggle through this memory mystery with her.

My only complaint? People are inevitably going to judge books by their covers and spines. This book has what I consider to be quite a misleading cover. The front cover has an image of who I suppose is Molly and smoke rising up around her face. The back cover is blue and has some little water droplets. I’ve been trying to think about symbolism and what these things could represent in relation to the book but I really don’t see the connection, and if there is a deeper connection, it couldn’t be easily recognized by the reader. I like covers to really fit the books and I just don’t see it. Honestly, and this will sound strange, when I first saw it, the front cover made me think of Looking for Alaska and someone either a) smoking or b) in a fire. But neither of those things are what the book is about! I would never guess that the book is a psychological mystery about memory loss!

But cover rant aside, this one gets a definite 5/5 stars from me!

Have you read The Half Life of Molly Pierce? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Follow me @books_palettes for sneak peeks, musings, and more! My avatar image is from “Jen Loves Teaching.”