Monday, December 31, 2012

Review of Mistletoe Mischief by Stacey Joy Netzel

Title: Mistletoe Mischief (Romancing Wisconsin Series, #1)
Author: Stacey Joy Netzel
Pages: 91
Source: Free from Amazon (Obtained on 12/19/12)
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Christmas in July at the zoo is the last place single parents Eric Riley and Marissa Wilder expect to find love. Thanks to some mistletoe mischief in the form of their two young daughters and Santa, they discover mistletoe rules were not made to be broken

Being from Wisconsin myself, when I came across a new series called Romancing Wisconsin I knew it was something I had to check out.

Mistletoe Mischief was a fun twist on the traditional holiday read;  the story took place in the summer while the zoo was celebrating Christmas in July.  This story still had the feeling of a holiday romance, but there was the added bonus of a campfire and smores which I personally think make any story better...and now I'm craving some.  (Think I can dig through the snow to find the fire pit?)

The sparks fly when Marissa and Eric meet, but because of the dreaded misunderstanding things don't get off to the best start.  Personally, I think a lot of romances have this plot line of a miscommunication lately.  Sure without this miscommunication there wouldn't have been a story, but in a novel/novella as short as this one the whole plot is based on this miscommunication.  I wish there would have been a little more substance to the the storygiving us something else to focus on.

While the plot wasnt my favorite, the characters were fun in this story.  Despite the short length, I felt you started to see into their personalities and who they would grow into.  While the romance was a bit insta-romance (or at least insta-infatuation), I was cheering for these two to make it.

If you're looking for a holiday read with a twist, Mistletoe Mischief may just be the book for you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review of Home for the Holidays by Christine Lynxwiler

Title: Home for the Holidays
Author: Christine Lynxwiler
Source: Obtained from Amazon for free (12/19/12)
Format: ebook
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: A heartwarming Christmas novella about true friendship, helping those in need, and falling in love. . .

What's a girl to do when she falls in love with her lifelong best friend? Small town librarian Lauren Forrester moves to St. Louis so that handsome contractor Jeffrey Warren can find a wife without having to deal with Lauren's moods. But when Jeffrey shows up on her doorstep to convince her to come home for a country Christmas, will the hardheaded pair lose their friendship or find something even more precious?

With the end of the holidays slowly approaching and the reality of five day work weeks in the forecast, I thought it was time to throw in a couple last holiday reads. 

This was a cute and light holiday story.  Lauren has been in love with her best friend for awhile, so when he starts showing serious interest in finding a wife she can't handle seeing him with other women and she flees.  While I don't necessarily see moving two hours away as a solution, I think what she did was realistic.  I understand her need to separate herself from Jeff so as not to ruin the friendship with her feelings.  Lauren was a very kind person with a big heart.  She was willing to help out those in need without anything in return.  I admired this quality in her and thought this was a great addition for a holiday read.

Jeff on the other hand, was a bit clueless.  He's had a hard past and is not willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I think he genuinely has a kind heart, but has a hard time looking past his own grief to use it to help others. 

As for the story there wasn't much sustenance to it.  I think if the main conflict would have been more the focus then I would have enjoyed it more.  The story was predictable and like a lot of novels out there would have been resolved earlier if only the main characters talked to each other instead of hid their feelings, but I guess the story would have been a lot shorter than. 

Do you enjoy reading seasonal stories?  If so, what are your favorites?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review of Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Title: Let It Snow
Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Published by: Speak
Pages: 352
Source: Library
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Three authors, three stories, and all the joy of the holiday season wrapped up in one book.

John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle each wrote a short story about one Christmas Eve.  I have to say that John Green's story was great.  As always his characters were realistic and a bit edgy.  The story had a little more mush than I'm used in his writing, but it fit the overall feel of the book.  Plus sometimes a little romance is just what is needed on these chilly winter nights. 

Maureen Johnson starts off the novel with her short story.  While at times I had a hard time believing everything was true, I was still invested in the story and the characters.  It was a great way to start off the novel because it truly felt like I was reading a Holiday romance...just not one that I may have expected in YA literature.

The final story by Lauren Myracle was my least favorite.  I had a hard time with the main character.  I though she was selfish, self-absorbed and just not a very nice person.  I understand the story was more about her growing as a person, but I never really ended up liking her.

The best thing about this book is that all the stories are connected in multiple ways.  It's not just one place or character that overlap, there are multiple characters and scenarios that are repeated in a new light in each story.  I'm not sure how these three authors worked it out, but it was genius!  I only wish there were more books like this out there.   

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review of Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks

Title: Bah, Humbug! A Romantic Comedy Novella
Author: Heather Horrocks
Published by: Word Garden Press
Pages: 96
Source: Obtained free from Amazon (12/19/12)
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from GoodreadsLexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block--until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman's body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

I'm a sucker for a good Christmas romance around the holiday season.  I don't feel like I'm in the spirit until I'm curled up with some tea and a Christmas story while it's gently snowing outside.  Luckily, mother nature corroborated this year and so at the last minutes I found some Christmas stories to help make this season magical for me. 

Bah, Humbug! was a fun holiday story.  Surprisingly, even though it was fairly short I felt like you got to know the main characters well.  Lexi is positive, determined and has written off love.  Being a decorator the holiday season is her time to shine.  She takes her job seriously and by creating the perfect atmosphere she feels she can spread good cheer.  That is until she meets Kyle Miller.  Kyle hates the holiday season and so when these two meet sparks fly.

While the story is a bit cheesy, I still enjoyed it.  It actually touched me in many ways.  There were some emotional parts where the characters were dealing with grief that brought tears to my eyes and other parts that touched my heart.  I have to admit though that the ending was a little much.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the last couple of pages and while it didn't ruin the story, I think that it made it less powerful.

If you need a quick Holiday story to help you get in the spirit, Bah, Humbug! is a fun read, just ignore the ending.       

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of Beutiful Demons by Sarra Cannon

Title: Beautiful Demons
Author: Sarra Cannon
Published by: Dead River Books
Pages: 136
Source: Obtained free from Amazon (on 6/20/2012)
Format: ebook
Rating: 2 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Harper Madison isn't like other girls. She has extraordinary powers, but her inability to control them has gotten her kicked from so many foster homes she's lost count. Shadowford Home is her last chance, and she hopes Peachville High will be the fresh start she needs. But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.

Beautiful Demons has all the elements to be a great book.  An orphaned girl with a strange ability, a new town with a secret to hide, the rebel boy trying to stay out of it all, and of course the eerily perfect cheerleaders who run the school.  With this novel being as short as it is, I think we missed out a lot on the connections and personality of the novel.

Harper was a great character at the beginning of the novel, but I have a hard time believing that she succumbed to the popularity contest and what it entailed as easy as she did.  She seemed stronger than that and out of all the characters in the story she seemed to have the most to fight for.  Everyone else in the town is a little freaky.  We don't get to learn much about everyone else, though they do seem a little off right from the start.      

There is a secret surrounding Shadowford and Peachville High.  Like Harper, we get to uncover bits and pieces as the novel proceeds without actually getting the whole story.  This frustrated me a bit because I have a hard time when I'm not given enough details to comprehend what is happening.  Even after finishing the novel, I don't understand everything that happened or the history and mystery that surrounds the town.

While I think Beautiful Demons had all the parts to become a great story, they didn't really fall into place for me.  Hopefully the next book in the series will explain more and everything will click into place.    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review of The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

Title: The Ivy
Authors: Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 336
Source: Obtained free from Amazon (on 11/15/2012)
Format: ebook
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from GoodreadsCongratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?  Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with Gregory, the guy she loves to hate...Evan, the guy she'd love to forget...Clint, the guy she'd love to love...and Matt, the guy she really should love...all vying for her attention.  But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.  Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

Ivy League, sexy and completely there a better combination? 

Small-town, down-to-earth Callie gets the surprise of her life when she heads off to Harvard only to be dumped by her high school sweetheart.  Freshman year can be difficult, but it's been a roller-coaster ride for Callie.  While she can't always keep up with her designer clad roommates, she has caught the eye of a couple of eligible bachelors on campus.  Callie is your typical everyday girl.  She's cute and sweet, but does make mistakes.  At times, you want to shake her and other times hug her, but she does keep the story entertaining.

As for her posse of gentlemen, each one has some great traits to bring to the table.  This part almost seemed too easy.  Not only does Callie have one guy after her, but three.  Seriously, who is this girl?  If only life were that easy to have not only three guys, but three great guys after you while attending Harvard.  I guess it is fiction right? 

Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur being Harvard roommates themselves, brought to life the college campus.  Between the classes, high societies and elite clubs we get a glimpse into the life everyone dreams of.  While at times this felt a bit Gossip Girl-esque there was enough intrigue and creativity to make this story entertaining and bring a fresh twist to the familiar topics.  Plus these ladies and gentlemen did actually study...though not as much as I would imagine being at Harvard and all. 

If you're looking for some mind-candy during this Holiday season, The Ivy is a perfect choice.  Sit back and escape while enjoying your non-fat, no-whip, half cafe, peppermint mocha with soy of course. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review of The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Format: ARC ebook
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

Low and behold, just when I thought The Iron Fey series had come to its end, Julie Kagawa surprises us with a spinoff series. While I didn't love The Iron Fey series, I did enjoy it and Julie Kagawa writes the most amazing world in the Nevernever that I've come across in a while. So did The Lost Prince live up to its predecessors?

I think it surpassed it, and mostly due to Ethan. What is not to love about this brooding, bad boy with a chip on his shoulder? Having been traumatized by the Fey kidnapping him when he was a young boy, stealing his sister away and finally them continuously haunting him, he's had enough and is finally going to do something about it. While Ethan comes across as the bad boy, he can't help but stand up not only for others, but also for what is right. He is truly a good soul who's had to harden his exterior to get by. So when Kenzie gets threated by the Fey he knows he has to protect her.

Kenzie is the type of character that grows on you. At first she is just there, but soon her strength and determination steal their way into your mind and water that seed that has been planted. While I figured out her secret way before it was revealed I still wish we could have seen into her life and personality a bit more. Hopefully she will be more of a focus in the next book.

While the characters were enjoyable, the world and creativity that Julie Kagawa paints is beyond compare. She's taken a small piece of The Iron Fey series and built not only a captivating story-line, but also one that is quite complex and gets you questioning what you believe. The depth and emotion she puts into this story seeps through the pages and into your mind.

If you enjoyed The Iron Fey series, or even if you didn't, I suggest you try The Lost Prince. Ethan and his gang of misfits just may be the spark you needed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Audio Review of Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2) by Moira Young

Title: Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)
Author: Moira Young
Narrator: Heather Lind
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio     
Length: 11 hours and 22 mins
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

Moira Young takes you on a wild ride with Rebel Heart.  Packed with action, deceit, and a bit of romance, it's the prefect recipe for a bestseller. 

Saba is a complicated lady.  Sure when the 'red hot' gets a rollin', she's undefeatable (I know this is not an official word but I think it describes Saba best) and a force to be reckoned with, but lately she seems to be losing a bit of herself.  Her past haunts her and her future seems bleak.  It doesn't help that Lugh is always on her case.  Seriously what is with him?  I haven't met a character I have disliked as much as I dislike him.  I think he's rude, degrading, and doesn't deserve the respect  he seems to be commanding from everyone around him.  Besides Lugh, all the rest of the characters come to life in Rebel Heart.  It shows a more vulnerable side to each of them and instead of always being the fierce fighters, we get to see their flaws making them that much more real.

What a twisted adventure Rebel Heart turned out to be.  You'll be guessing at every turn what is going to happen next, while constantly questioning who are the 'good guys' and who are the 'bad ones.'  While the story started out a little slow, it gradually built steam and became impossible to put down.  I just had to figure out not only people's actions but the motives behind these actions as well. 

Heather Lind was a wonderful narrator and I think listening to this novel would be so much easier than reading it because of all the dialect.  Moira Young writes phonetically as these characters would talk so I know that is hard for some people to read (me included).  Don't miss this wonderful series because of that though, just listen to the audio.  You will be amazed at how good it is as well as be highly entertained. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review of Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

Title: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble (Jolie Wilkins, #1)
Author: H.P. Mallory
Pages: 304
Source: Obtained Free from Amazon (7/3/12)
Format: ebooks
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Life isn't bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn't have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she's a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost's demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand.

Witches, Vampires and Werewolves...oh my.

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is a hilarious paranormal romance you won't want to miss.  H.P. Mallory created a heroine that jumps off the pages and has you silently (and sometimes not so silently) cheering along. 

Jolie Wilkins lived a happy, quiet life until a sexy warlock came along and discovered her true potential and the powers she possess as a witch.  Now she's a hot commodity in the paranormal world and everyone wants a piece of her.  Jolie kept me laughing and entertained throughout the entire novel.  Even though she was a witch and is whisked away into the underground world of the paranormal she is so real.  Jolie feels like the friend you've had since you were young and can't wait to spend some time with and catch up on all the good gossip.  And gossip she has with a great number of male creatures wanting more than just a piece of her.

With Jolie having such unique gifts, certain people in the community are hell bent on possessing her and her powers.  This seems to spark the idea of a war that has been brewing for awhile; Jolie was just that catalyst it needed.  While this book was packed with action, it also seemed to be the perfect setup to a series...that being said, it seemed quite a few things were left unresolved.  I kept waiting for a main conflict and then resolution, but it was all sort of intermixed with the introduction to this series. 

Besides that though, the story was great and very entertaining.  If you're looking for some laughs and something a little lighter this holiday season try Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review of Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Title: Jennifer Echols
Author: Jennifer Echols
Published by: MTV Books
Pages: 292
Source: Won
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all--the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug--of all people-- suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them?

Romantic teen drama at its finest. 

Who doesn't love the plot of the bad boy falling for the good girl?  Maybe it's the idea of opposites attract or of trying to reform a "lost cause" but I've always been attracted to the idea of a bad boy and Doug is my perfect kind of bad boy. 

The characters is this story seem a bit naive and at times clueless.  Zoey tries to be perfect, but her life is falling apart.  Instead of facing her issues she holds onto her perception of reality which ends up making her life that much more difficult.  As much as I liked the characters, I had trouble relating to them fully.  At times I connected instantly and then something would come up and I started to be unsure of their intentions.  Nothing is really as it seems in this novel including the characters. 

Besides the relationship drama, Zoey and her family were also going through an intense period.  Jennifer Echols didn't shy away from the difficult (and at times awkward) situations that happen too often in real life.  I thought this added a depth to the novel that is often missing in teen romance.  However, with so much happening in Zoey's life, I felt the novel was rushed at times.  Sometimes we seemed to go from one extreme to another without getting the time to process what had just happened.  This did keep the novel moving though, as it was impossible to put down because you just had to know what happened next and what it all means.

This was my first Jennifer Echols novel and definitely won't be my last. 

With all the wonderful "bad boy novels" out there, which is your favorite bad boy?

Friday, December 7, 2012

2013 Reading Challenges

I'm so excited because this year I think I am actually going to complete all of my 2012 Reading Challenges.  I have four books to go and I'm determined to do it!  Seeing as 2012 is coming to an end, I've decided to start planning my challenges for next year.  I think that this year I'm not going to plan out certain books to read, but just see what fits my mood at the time for each of the challenges.  That being said, here are the challenges that I've signed up for so far:

2013 Debut Author Challenge hosted by
2013 Audio Book Challenge hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner
Level: Married-Listen to more than 25 Audio Books
2013 Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge hosted by On a Book Bender and Reading the Paranormal.
Level: Coupon Clipper: 12 Books
2013 TBR PILE Reading Challenge hosted by 6 Wonderful Bloggers
Level: 21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
I'm excited for these challenges and hopefully I will be successful!  What reading challenges are you signing up for? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review of Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie ViguiƩ

Title: Crusade (Crusade, #1)
Authors: Nancy Holder and

While this book may have started off slow, the plot continues to build and thicken throughout.  The conflict grows intense and is interwoven between each of the characters leading up to an epic battle at the end with an unexpected twist.  The characters and the story made this one definitely worth sticking with, so if you are struggling with Crusade, don't give gets so much better.   

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review of Torrent by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Title: Torrent (River of Time, #3)
Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren
Published by: David C. Cook
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Gabriella and Evangelia Betarrini are just two normal American teenagers. Normal except for the fact that they time travel to fourteenth-century Italy, where they’ve lived in castles they’ve seen as crumbling ruins, become swept up in historic battles, and fallen in love with handsome knights willing to do anything to keep them alive.

They’ve returned to the present to save their father, just short of his tragic death, and now all four return to the place that holds the girls’ hearts, medieval Italy. But remaining there means facing great risk as the battle for territory wages on and the coming Black Plague looms. Can they convince their parents to stay and leave behind everything they’ve worked so hard to accomplish? And will the girls sacrifice their futures in an uncertain past? Or in facing death head-on, will they discover life as it was always meant to be lived?

I'm sure you've all heard it before and experienced it for yourself, but the end of a series is quite bit bittersweet for me.  I love that most of the endings get tied up all neat and tidy, but at the same time I know I'll miss the characters.  I absolutely loved Waterfall.  It was new and exciting, but for some reason Cascade and Torrent didn't live up to the first novel.  Sure they were fun and exciting, but that spark was missing for me.

Torrent is filled with battles, fights, capture, marriage and death.  It literally has it all.  I felt like we flew from one event to another without much downtime to spend with the characters and really get to know them.  There were a couple new characters that turned out to be real gems.  Lisa Tawn Bergren isn't afraid to introduced new characters throughout the series.  This gives readers soem fresh faces to focus on and even more characters to become attached too.

Another part of the book that was beautifully written was Gabi's struggle with her beliefs.  I felt this was very realistic as she questioned other's beliefs and tried to find her stance on God and religion in general.  I love that Father Tomas was so gentle and never pushed or prodded, only showed Gabi through his actions and beliefs.  He was a kind and gentle soul and I truly wish I could have met him.

I enjoyed this series and I'm happy with the way it ended. 

What other YA series do you love the endings for?  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Night Date Night: Breaking Dawn Part II

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie reviews (mostly movies that were adapted from books). Hopefully some of these reviews will help you decide what to watch on your date night or a night of relaxing at home.
Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4)
So I know I'm a little late to the scene, but with Breaking Dawn Part II opening so close to Thanksgiving I just didn't have time to see it until this week.  I've always had an issue with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's acting.  To me they are both very inexpressive people and I don't think that is good trait in an actor.  I have to say they surprised me a bit in this one.  They actually have different expressions because bored/disdain/pain.  Maybe it has to do with them acting as parents (which I think Rob did a lot better job at than Kristen), or maybe just after a couple of movies they finally found their footing, but this movie was definitely better then the first couple.
Does the movie stick to the book?  Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  It was a lot more sensual than I was expecting so that threw me for a loop, but otherwise I enjoyed seeing the story unfold.  I have to say they took some liberties with the ending, but it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  I understand why they did it and I think it works.  That doesn't mean, however, that I wasn't completely floored when watching it and actually yelling in the movie theater  "you got to be kidding me."  Midway through this change I figured out what they did and then I actually pumped my fist in the air and was like "yes, I knew it."  Good thing there were not many people in the theater or I might have been mobbed. 
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie and thought it was a great fit to the end of the series. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review of The Lynburn Legacy short stories by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title:  The Spring Before I Met You (The Lynburn Legacy #0.25)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Pages: 15
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Holly Black's Introduction: This story introduces us to one of the main characters of Unspoken, Jared Lynburn. Seeing him as the broken, dangerous, closed-off teenager that he appears to be from the outside allows us to anticipate all of the insight we'll have into his character when we get inside his head--which we will, since he's the heroine's "imaginary friend."/span>

This short story was really interesting.  I gave me more perspective into Jared's character and who he was before he met Kami.  I loved how vulnerable he seemed and that the "guidance counselor" really did seem to care and want to help him.  I'm glad that he wasn't written off by everyone even though he didn't have the best home life and seemed to act out as a way to compensate.  But like all short stories I wish there were more details not only with the story but with Jared himself.  He's such an interesting character that I think Sarah Rees Brennan could write an entire novel about his life before he met Kami.  For me The Spring Before I Met had a great basis for a storyline, but it felt too rushed and flat.

Title: The Summer Before I Met You (The Lynburn Legacy #0.5)
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Pages: 13
Format: ebook
Rating: 2 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  “Take care of your spirit, Kami,” said Megumi. “And don’t burn the place down.”

Kami grabbed both the suitcases and headed for the cabin she was sharing with Liz and Angela. Liz walked with her, and on their way Kami stopped.

“My Sobo was exaggerating,” she said earnestly. “There have been very few fires.”

This story followed Kami as she volunteered at a summer Cricket camp.  I had a hard time with this one.  The story was not only too short and rushed, but it felt very jumbled.  There didn't seem to be a natural flow to the story and we didn't really get to see into who the characters were.  There was a little excitement in the middle of the story however, that involved a scandal and Kami's superior sleuthing and reporting skills and we do get to learn about her first relationship so it wasn't all bad.

I just don't think I'm a very good short story person.  I get invested and I want to not only know more about the story, but also about the characters.  Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan was such a great read that I was a little disappointed by these prequels.  I suggest just skipping them and going straight to Unspoken.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Today I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For 2013

1. Untitled (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth.  I really want to know what happens with Tris and Four especially after that (figurative) bomb dropping at the end of Insurgent

2. Untitled (The Arcana Chronicles #2) by Kresley Cole. I'm not sure if this will come out in 2013 or 2014 but as soon as I can this one will be pre-ordered.  If you haven't read Poison Princess drop everything and go get it!  It's that good.  
3. Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan.  I loved the humor and mystery of Unspoken.  The cast of characters were wonderful and I kind of miss them. 

4.  Fire with Fire (Burn for Burn #2) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.  The first book was very dramalicious and ended with a bang. 

5. Untitled (Lorien Legacies #4) by Pittacus Lore.  For some reason I thought there were only three  books in this series so the ending of The Rise of Nine caught me by surprise because the story didn't actually end. 

6. Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) by Jessica Spotswood.  Born Wicked is one of my favorite reads of 2012 and I'm so looking forward to Star Cursed, but I have to admit I'm not a fan of the cover. 
Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2)

Stand Alones:
1. All that Was Lost by Trish Doller.  I loved her debut novel, Something Like Normal, and this new one sounds just as intriguing. 

2. The History of Luck / The Invisible Museum by Jandy Nelson.  This author is one of the most beautiful writers and I can't wait to see what story she will bring us next.

3. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen.  Sarah is one of my all time favorite contemporary writers and I'm so excited to hear she is writing another book. 
The Moon and More
4. Goldfish by Kody Keplinger.  This author has the most amazing characters ever.  They are completely realistic and raw...they are truly beautiful.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review of Pure (Covenant #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Pure (Covenant #2)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 329
Source: Library
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from GoodreadsThere is need. And then there is Fate

Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.
When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude or killing her.
When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

Exciting, enticing, and downright addicting.

Pure is one of those novels that exceeded my expectations.  Usually the second book in a series is kind of a let down for me since instead of any real action, they seem more of a filler to set up the next book in the series.  However, Pure gripped me from page one and kept me wanting more. 

Get ready for an emotional rollar coaster.  I'm not talking about one of those kiddie ones at the fair, I'm talking about one of those huge old wooden ones where you get butterflies just looking at it.  Literally while reading this book, one minute you'll be laughing and the next you'll be wishing you bought stock in Kleenex for how many tissues you will go's that good. 

Most of the characters are very complex and bring more to the table then you'd expect.  That being said though, I'm never really sure how I feel about Alex.  I think she's impulsive, has a bad temper, but is truly a good person inside.  Sometimes her actions are over the top and I want to tell her to step back and think about the consequences.  I think this affects her more in this novel than it previously had.  I do admire her though. and feel bad that she is in love with someone who she's forbidden to be ina relationship with, much less love.  With a twist of cruel fate though, she is destined to be with someone else.  I usually don't like love triangles, but Jennifer L. Armentrout has done an amazing job of making this one feel real.  There seems to be true emotion for every party involved and while I am definitely rooting for one of them the other guy is slowing sneaking into my heart. 

This series has hooked me and I can't wait to see where the story goes next.  Has anyone else read Pure?   What are your thoughts on the love triangle between Alex, Adrian, and Seth?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review of Entwined by Heather Dixon

Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 485
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea.

This must be the week of fairy tales for me.  Somehow, lately I haven't been able to get enough, be it actual fairy tales or the retellings.  Entwined is based off the fairy tale known as "The Shoes Were Danced to Pieces" or better known as "Twelve Dancing Princesses."  This is one fairy tale that I didn't know much about so the story itself wasn't so much a retelling, rather it unfolded this mystical world of wonder.  With not knowing much of the background to this fairy tale, there was more mystery involved then the normal retelling which always lead to something unexpected and intriguing. 

The story was a bit darker than expected, as it was lined with death, deception, and power struggles.  There were some touching moments as well though that kept me intrigued and not overwhelmed by the darkness.  Especially towards the middle with the interactions of the daughters and their papa, the King.  At first their relationship was strained, but I believe he was always looking out for their interests to the best of his ability.   

I did have a hard time connecting with the characters on this one.  They seemed too out of reality and it always felt like I was reading a story instead of living it.  Azalea and her eleven sisters had different personalities, but at the same time all kind of blended together.  I only remembered some of their names and even then it was hard to not only maintain who each princess was, but also the revolving cast of other characters in the story.  The only character that stood out to me was the villain and that is because I despised him.  I had a hard time with how forceful and controlling he was and was horrified every time he hurt Azalea.  I felt like he didn't have a conscious and was a deranged and certifiable crazy.   

Entwined was a intriguing story, but not exactly my type of retelling.  While I like a bit of uncertainty it was just too dark for my idea of a fairy tale. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review of Fairy Tales from the Brother Grimm by Philip Pullman & GIVEAWAY!

Title: Fairy Tales from The Brothers Grimm
Author: Philip Pullman
Published by: Viking Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Two hundred years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now, at a veritable fairy-tale moment—witness the popular television shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time and this year’s two movie adaptations of “Snow White”—Philip Pullman, one of the most popular authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.

From much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “Briar-Rose,” “Thousandfurs,” and “The Girl with No Hands,” Pullman retells his fifty favorites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination.

Fairy tales remind me of that game telephone.  The one where a person starts off saying something and as that phrase gets passed from person to person it changes until when the final person says it out loud it is nothing like the original.  I feel that this happens quite often with fairy tales.  There are so many variations for each tale with every author or storyteller throwing in their own twist. 

Philip Pullman takes a slightly different approach.  He has researched many of these tales from different sources and their origins.  Then he retells them only changing small parts that he feels makes the story flow better.  The one thing that is really interesting about this rendition is at the end of every tale there is information not only about the original source and other versions of the story, but Pullman himself adds notes after each tale about changes in the variations or other significant information.  I think this added to the volume immensely.  It gave me a different view on many of these tales and had me thinking past the story into it's elements.  It was very entertaining and informational so note only did I enjoy the story I also felt like I was learning something. 

Fairy tales themselves are far from unique, but at the same time there is something satisfying about reading a different version of them.  I loved seeing how the tales I've grown up with (and had a great bias to thanks to Disney) have changed and transformed into a completely new tale with common features but enough differences to entice the readers.  There were also many tales I had not heard before that were present in this volume giving a fresh perspective every now and again. 

Fairy Tales from The Brothers Grimm was a very enjoyable read and one I see myself going back to often; not necessarily as a whole, but to pick and choose which stories I want to relive depending on my mood. 

Now on to the good stuff...THE GIVEAWAY.  The wonderful people at Viking/Penguin have generously donated a book to giveaway to one of you lovely people.  Trust me...this is a book you want in your collection. 

How do you win?
You must be 13 years of age or older to enter

This contest is open to participants both from the US and Internationally

Once the email is sent to the winner they will have three days to respond or a new winner will be chosen
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Night Date Night: Mirror, Mirror

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie reviews (mostly movies that were adapted from books). Hopefully some of these reviews will help you decide what to watch on your date night or a night of relaxing at home.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Fairytale retelling are all the rage right now, be it in YA, adult, fantasy or movies.  I love seeing how each author or producer takes a well known tale and makes it their own.  So when I saw Mirror, Mirror at the library the other day I had to give it a try.
Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane and Armie Hammer make this movie truly wonderful.  Lily Collins (Snow White) was the perfect combination of delicate girl and fierce warrior.  She found empowerment throughout the movie and really came into her own.  The banter between her and Armie Hammer (Prince Alcott) was laugh-out-loud funny and brought a lighter side to the movie.  Plus the cast playing the dwarfs were perfect and added a great spin to the original characters. 
The setting itself was gorgeous and made me wish for snow.  I loved how much of the movie was placed outdoors and involved nature (keeping true to the original tale).  There were some unexpected surprises and fun twists that make this movie a great retelling.  However, it was a bit darker than I expected, so you may want to view it before you let the younger children watch it.
With all these fairytales getting turned into movies, what has been your favorite so far?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Audio Review of Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Title: Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1)
Author: Kresley Cole
Narrators: Emma Galvin & Keith Nobbs
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length:11 disc, 12.5 hours
Source: Publisher
Format: Audio
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: An apocalyptic event has destroyed Evie’s hometown and killed her mother. What makes it worse? Evie’s prophetic visions predicted it all—but she wrote it off as one of her freakish dreams. Now Evie teams up with a wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux. They are forced to leave town on a road trip heading to meet Evie’s maternal grandmother. Meanwhile, Evie is coming to terms with the fact that she has special powers—powers that have revealed themselves to her slowly.

The mythology of the story is inspired by Tarot cards. Evie is the personification of the Empress Tarot card, the genesis of her abilities. Along the way, she and Jack meet teens who have taken on the powers of other Tarot characters. It seems an ancient prophesy is being played out, and these teens have been tapped to reenact the battle.

This is my first Kresley Cole book and I'm blown away!  Poison Princess started out with a bang and only got better as I continued to delve into this mysterious world.   

I loved how this story was unfolded.  It starts off 246 days after the apocalypse when Evie runs into Arthur.  She starts off by telling him her story from a couple days before the apocalypse to how she got where she is today.  Evie's story is so compelling you feel as if you are living it with her.  She completely seems like a normal teenager until you learn about the visions and her ability to control the plant life around her.  Soon after the apocalypse she starts remembering her grandmother preaching about the Arcana and explaining who Evie and the rest of the Arcana with a deck of Tarot cards.

This is one of the most creative and original ideas I've come across.  Kresley Cole took the most popular genres in YA literature and threw a completely new twist on it.  As story takes you deeper into the Arcana and you start to meet some key players.  Some of which I liked and some I didn't.  In fact, Matthew drove me absolutely bonkers.  I felt like he was keeping things from Evie and not at all willing to help out.  Evie herself, is one of the most deadly Arcana and yet she won't accept who she is.  In fact, she comes off as very weak and needy.  That's ok though, because she's got the resident bad boy, Jackson, to take care of her.

Jackson and Evie's relationship is brimming with sexual tension that will quite literally take your breath away.  Jackson broods and Evie keeps secrets, yet they are magnetically drawn together with a force field effect that is explosive.  As new Arcana get drawn into their lives, a canyon starts forming between them as they are trying to survive this desolate world and find out the truth. 

Packed with action and adventure this is a novel that makes it impossible to put down.  I would purposefully find reasons to drive just so I could continue listening to this story.  One of the only problems I have with this book is the was heart-wrenching and left me a little lost plus I will have to wait awhile until the next book comes out to see how the story continues. 

As for the audio, Keith Nobbs did an amazing job as Arthur.  His voice alone gave me the creeps and whenever I'd hear it, I would instantly fill with dread and loathing.  Even though he had a small part I think he added immensely to the audio.  Emma Galvin was ok, but I didn't feel like she truly embraced Evie.  I actually enjoyed her low drawl for Jackson and some of the inflection for the other characters more than I enjoyed her as Evie.  However, I don't think this took away from the story at all.  It was still impossible to turn off and stuck with me long after I finished it.