Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks
I going to cheat a little and list 10 book that my bookclubs have done and really enjoyed.

Adult Bookclub
The Kindness of Strangers1. The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle.  This is a wonderful and heart-wrenching novel.  It's one of those novels that stick with you long after your done reading it.   

2. Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen.  Lesley is from our town and coincidentally Whistling in the Dark also takes place in Milwaukee in the late 1950s.  A story of sisters companionship, a mystery and lots of action this is a must read.   

3. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira.  A novel about a women's quest to become a doctor in the midst of the civil war. 

The Life You Longed For: A Novel4. The Life You Longed For by Maribeth Fischer.  Another heart-wrenching tale about a mother accused of Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy while trying to care for her 3 year old son who has mitochondrial disease.  This is definitely a book you are going to want to discuss with others.
5. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama.  A gorgeous tale about life, love and family.  Set in Japan in the late 1930s and spanning 30 years this novel lets you grow with the characters and follow them on their path.    

Young Adult Bookclub
1. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.  Jenna wakes up from a coma and has no idea who she is.  This tale of bio-medical ethics and humanity will leave your bookclub discussion riveting and talking long past your time. 

Jellicoe Road2. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  This is the novel that made me fall in love with Melina Marchetta's writing.  Our bookclub just gushed for an hour over how amazing this book was and how the interwoven tales left us hopeful and heartbroken.   
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  This follows the life of a young girl in Germany during WWII.  This is one of the most beautiful descriptions of death I've read and this novel will touch your heart and soon become of favorite. 

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  A classic at any age.     

A Northern Light5. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.  With beautiful writing, and intriguing mystery and a touch of romance this was a great book.   

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review of Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Uprising
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published by: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 272
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Bella, newly arrived in New York from Italy, gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. There, along with hundreds of other immigrants, she works long hours at a grueling job under terrible conditions. Yetta, a coworker from Russia, has been crusading for a union, and when factory conditions worsen, she helps workers rise up in a strike. Wealthy Jane learns of the plight of the workers and becomes involved with their cause.

Bella and Yetta are at work -- and Jane is visiting the factory -- on March 25, 1911, when a spark ignites some cloth and the building is engulfed in fire, leading to one of the worst workplace disasters ever.

When I first heard about this book I really had to reach back into my memories of high school which is the last time I had a U.S. history course.  I remember learning about women working in factories and how their unfair treatment led to support of the suffrage movement, but I didn't remember anything about the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.  I'm not sure if it wasn't taught or if I wasn't paying attention that day, but either way I think I really missed out on an important piece of history.  Good thing it's never too late to learn.

Bella and Yetta are both immigrants who work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.  They work 6 days a week, 10-14 hour days, with poor pay ($4 a week, yikes and I thought I was underpaid) and are treated poorly.  They are locked in all day long, forced to pay for the electricity and heat used when they are working and are searched every evening to make sure they didn't steal anything.  Soon the worker got fed up and go on strike.  Yetta was very involved in the union and the strike effort.  I really admired how dedicated she was.  She was really a revolutionist and wanted only to be treated fairly.  She was beat, harassed, arrested and fined, but the next day she was back on the picket line.  That girl had some serious heart.  Bella was definitely more demure.  She came from a very poor family, but was genuinely a happy person.  She was very generous, loving and caring. 

Jane was a rich socialite who realized how unfair her society was treating the factory girls.  Jane gives up everything for what she believes in.  I think she is truly amazing.  As much as I care for things and fight for causes I believe in, I don't know if I could cut myself off from my family and become penniless for someone else's cause.  These three girls connect and become friends under the most unlikely of circumstances.  Just when things are starting to look up for Yetta, Bella, and Jane a terrible fire erupts at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory that changes all of their futures. 

This book was a truly wonderful look at the life of a factory girl.  It examined their hardships, but also the friendships they made.  If you are a fan of historical fiction this book is for you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Night Date Night

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie review (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 chillin with the girls.
Love and Other Drugs
This last week my brother-in-law was out of town so I got to have a little bonding time with my favorite (and only sibling) sister after my niece was tucked in tight.  We decided the perfect way to end a stressful day was to lose ourselves in some Hollywood action with heartthrob Jake Gyllenhaal.
I heard amazing things about this movie and I remember wanting to go see it in the theaters, so I'm not quite sure why I waited so long to see this movie.  I apparently knew nothing about this movie (or the book it was based on) because it was a lot deeper than I thought.  We were all ready for a light and fun romcom, and Love and Other Drugs was not that.  
Maybe if I was in a different mood I would have liked this movie better, but it just wasn't for me.  I didn't really enjoyed the "glamorized" life of pharmaceutical sales or grown up pajama parties (and not the kind with fuzzy slippers).  There was an awful lot of Jamie (Jake) sleeping around and just some awkward moments throughout the movie.  I'm sure this had a lot to do with me expecting one sort of movie and getting a totally different one, but the way the story was presented turned me off of it.  I loved the scenes between Jamie and Maggie, but the rest was too over the top for me.
I did enjoy the character of Maggie (Anne Hathaway).  She was a very strong individual dealing with a tough disease.  She felt very real to me.  Yes she understood the hand she was dealt, but it wasn't always sunshine and happiness, there were days of pain and loneliness too.   Anne Hathaway made her character jump off the screen for me.   
While this movie wasn't a Hollywood hit for me the last 10 minutes or so were breathtaking.  It ended perfectly and left us with a wonderful message about love.  
Want to know more?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review of Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Title: Hallowed (Unearthly #2)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Pages: 242
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★and 1/2

Summary from Goodreads: For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Love triangle are a very popular trend in young adult fiction right now.  Do you love them or do you hate them?  If done right, where it is not obvious the main character should be with one person versus the other or when it feel natural then I love them.  Cynthia Hand did a wonderful job balancing Clara's feeling between the two main guys in her life.  She actually even has a bit in Hallowed where Clara explains that she has always despised love triangles and didn't see how people got themselves in those situations.  I loved the fact that Cynthia Hand sort of poked fun at the whole love triangle bit, when at the same time she was writing one of the more riveting triangles out there.  Major props to her!

Throughout much of the novel Clara was struggling with the issues in her life.  She felt really lost to me in this novel.  I know she doesn't understand much about who she is and what her purpose is, but instead of dwelling on it, I wish she would have been a bit stronger of a person and realized just to take things as they come.  She definitely needed a confidence boaster and I don't think she got that until the end.  She was so focused on her future that she not only neglected her family, but also her friends.

In Unearthly I was a huge Tucker fan.  He's rugged, cute and impossibly sweet...how could you resist that combination?  If I could clone him and keep him for myself I definitely would.  In this novel we get a lot of Tucker, but not as his usual fun loving self.  He's a bit more intense and serious which matches the mood of this novel.  I'm not sure I like Tucker this way.  I want the carefree cowboy fantasy to live on.  Christian on the other hand really grew for me as a character.  I learned more about him and came to respect his brooding silence.

I'm glad that along with Clara we finally learned some more information about Angel-bloods.  There were so many questions that were answered, but also many that were not.  Hopefully in the next book everything will be answered.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday--Bookstores I Want to Visit

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

The Top Ten Bookstores I want to visit:

1. Strand Book Store in New York City, NY

2.  Selexyz Bookstore in Maastricht, Holland

3. Shakespeare & Co. Antiquarian Books in Paris, France

4. Lello bookstore in Porto, Portugal

5. El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, Argentina

6. Le Bal des Ardents in Lyon, France

7. City Lights, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

8. Atlantis Books, Oia, Santorini Island, Greece

9. Foyles in London, England

10. Daunt Books in London England

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review of Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from Goodreads Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Hate List is an emotionally stunning novel.  While reading this novel so many emotions and feelings are brought to life and they are never what ones you expect.  The villains are not always the villains, and the good guys are not necessarily angels either.  Once you think you figured someone out, a new piece of information is brought forward that changes your outlook.  It is very true to real life and shows the complexity of human emotions...both good and bad. 

Valerie is broken.  She doesn't understand exactly what happened last spring and even more importantly why it happened.  Valerie is such an interesting character and one who is in a very unique situation.  While she isn't the one who shot anyone, she is the one who started the Hate List and she did love Nick.  As the you learn more about Valerie your opinion of her may change.  Even after reading this novel I'm not quite sure what to think of her or how guilty I believe she is.  At times I wanted to scream at other people that she isn't the one who shot anyone, but on anther page I wanted to tell Valerie that her actions are not completely without fault either.

Hate List is one of those books that really makes you think.  One of the reoccurring questions is who is to blame for all of this.  Of course, Nick is the one pulling the trigger, but what about all the actions that led him to pick up the gun.  What about Valerie and the Hate List?  What about all of the bullies?  This is a difficult issue to discuss because a lot of the bullies died or were injured, but at the same time the bullying was never really discussed with the school.  There were times it was brought up among the student's themselves, but I wonder how much of it was brought up with the faculty and the parents of this school.

There were situations in the novel where Nick was bullied that I was literally in tears.  I felt so much for him during these times that I wanted to reach out to him.  I know that being bullied is not a reason for him to go around shooting people and I'm not justifying his actions, but I understand a little more about where his pain and his anger came from.

Captivating and thought-provoking, Hate List is a book that will stay with you long after you've finished reading it.    

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Night Date Night

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie review (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 chillin with the girls.
Have any of you ever seen the show Wildfire?  It ran for four season a couple of years ago on ABC Family.  I didn't actually watch it when it was on, but I did recently watch in on Netflix.  It was a show about a delinquent girl who ends up working on a horse ranch.  It's filled with drama and of course horse racing...which turns out I'm actually kind of in love with.  I don't think I'd actually like to see a horse race, but to see how people care for these animals as family and the hopes and dreams that surround them.  I'm not for any kind of abuse of animals and I'm sure there is some of that in horse racing so I decided my love is more for fictionalized horse racing.
Secretariat: The Making of a Champion
Now that I discovered this new obsession interest of mine I wanted to find a movie featuring horse racing.  I decided to start with Secretariat because not only was the movie based on the book Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, but it is a real life story.  How flippin awesome is that!  Secretariat (Big Red) is one of 11 horses that have won the triple crown (winning at The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Belmont Stakes all in the same year).
First off, this movie was very inspirational.  It is one of those movies where you are on the edge of your seat cheering on the horse as if you were actually there.  It was uplifting and after watching it left you happy and at peace.
I thought Diane Lane and John Malkovich did a wonderful job.  They came across as passionate and determined.  They stepped into these characters flawlessly and soon you were just as inspired by their characters as you were by the horse.  Penny, Lucian, and many others risked it all on a horse, but Secretariat (Big Red) was so much more than a horse to them.  The character that really spoke to me was Eddy, a ranch hand.  He was so happy and believed in this horse like no other person.  Nelsan Ellis was amazing in this film and I think is really overlooked as an actor. 
This is one Disney movie you'll want to add to your personal vault! 
Want to see more?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review of Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Title: Ripple
Author: Mandy Hubbard
Published by: Razorbill/Penguin
Pages: 260
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. The water calls to her, draws her in, forces her to sing her deadly song to unsuspecting victims. If she succumbs, she kills. If she doesn't, the pain is unbearable. To keep herself and those she cares about safe, she shuts herself off, refusing to make friends or fall in love-again. Because the last time she fell in love with a boy, he ended up dead.

Then Lexi finds herself torn. Against her better judgement, she's opening up agian, falling in love with someone new when she knows she shouldn't. But when she's offered the chance to finally live a normal life, she learns that the price she must pay to be free or her curse is giving him up.

I wasn't really sure what to expect of Ripple and the mythology of Siren's.  I've never read a story (unless you count Greek Mythology or Homer) about Sirens.  I guess I was expecting mermaid type women who lived in the water and cruelly lured men to their deaths.  This is not at all Mandy Hubbard's type of siren. 

Lexi just seems like a normal, introverted girl except the water calls to her and her need to sing.  I really liked Lexi.  She was horrified that she ended up killing someone with her curse and so she withdrew from all her friends so no one else would be hurt.  It takes a really strong person to brave this world alone, and she didn't do it out of spite, but out of protection for her loved ones and her community in general.  I felt so much for Lexi because I knew she wanted friends and she wanted the cruel comments and tormenting at school to stop, but she was too scared to let anyone get close to her again. 

When she finally does let some people back into her life, things seem to get better for her.  She ends up even finding a love or two, but things are not always as they seem.  (Thank you Cole for being who you are and for believing in Lexi.  Erik...well I have a couple of choice words for you mister!).  Lexi had to make some really hard choices in life.  Again I cannot believe how strong she was as a character.  I really admire that about her. 

There was no foreshadowing (oh my old English teachers would be so proud) about what happened at the end...it was so unexpected.  I was just reading along all happy and then OMG this thing just came out of nowhere.  It was actually quite a fabulous twist and I enjoyed being surprised by the characters.   

While there wasn't a lot of depth to the story it was still a cute, light read that's perfect for your next beach vacation. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Adult Review of Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

Title: Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood #3)
Author: J.R. Ward
Published by: Penguin Group
Pages: 464
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from Goodreads: A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her...

When I asked people what was their favorite Black Dagger Brotherhood novel almost everyone responded that it was Lover Awakened.  For some reason the resident bad boy of the brotherhood was the one that melted everyone's hearts.  Did I end up agreeing with everyone...YES (though I may be kind unqualified to answer this because I've only read three of the books so far).  This novel invoked so many unexpected emotions and had more depth then the usual paranormal romance. 

Zsadist flat out scared me in the other novels.  Don't get me wrong, I found him extremely sexy and hot as hell, but he was one to look at and not touch.  While other novels hinted at his past as a blood slave this novel really told us the down and dirty of what went on.  There is no glossing over the horror in this novel and Zsadist's background is one to make you understand his tough exterior.  If that doesn't melt your heart on Zsadist than the ending will.  Zsadist and Bella's story is one of change and hope.

Bella knew she wanted Zsadist from the minute she saw him.  No matter how much he scared her and mistreated her, she knew there was more behind the hard exterior and scared face.  I really admire her.  She knew what (or should I say who) she wanted and went after it.  She saw something good and pure in Zsadist that not even his brother could find.  She never gave up hope and for that I think she is a saint.

This is one steamy book.  I'm sure I was blushing multiple times while I was reading this book.  J.R. Ward sure knows how to write scenes that will leave you feeling more than a little warm and breathless.  She also knows how to write huge unexpected twists.  There is one part in Lover Awakened that I'm extremely sad and upset about.  I don't want to give too much away, but I felt heartbroken and angry that she overturned a wonderful and pure situation.  I'm sure it will lead to a future story line of importance but at the time it seemed unnecessary.

If Lover Awakened doesn't make you addicted to this series than I don't know what else will. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read YA

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  These books are extremely fast paced and exciting.  I think they are a little too violent to be considered YA (even though I know they are) and have lots of action and a touch of romance so they are great for a wide audience.   

2. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  This book is pure awesomeness.  Again it has a little bit of something for everyone.  If you haven't read this book, drop everything and go out and get it now.

3. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.  If you like your romances hot and steamy and your male hero even sexier then this is the book for you! 

4. The Sky is Everwhere by Jandy Nelson.  A heartbreaking and beautiful tale about the loss of a sister.  

The Piper's Son5.  The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta.  There are many intertwining story lines and a lot of them involved adults or adult issues.  Another amazing story by my favorite author.

6. Beauty Queens by Libbra Bray.  One of the funniest books I've read.  It a humorous look at beauty queens being trapped on a deserted island.  It starts out with the common stereotypes but then looks deeper at the contestants and who they are behind the Revlon and Aqua Net.  

7.  The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.  I haven't met a person who didn't enjoy these novels.

8.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  Lina's story was breathtaking, beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.  This is a story of fighters and survival.  I don't have words to describe how powerful Lina's story was.    

9. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.  This is the type of book, though at times was emotionally difficult to read, stays with you long after you put it down. It motivates you and makes you want to make a difference in the world.

The Book Thief10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  The most beautifully written descriptions of death.  Gorgeous and heartbreaking, this is a book everyone will love. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Review of 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Author: Maureen Johnson
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages: 319
Source: Free from Amazon (obtained 4/12/2011)
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★

Summary from Goodreads:  When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

13 Little Blue Envelopes is the perfect vacation read.  While traveling this last week I though this would be a light, fun and fast read.  While I was right, I also learned this book had more depth than I expected.  The story behind these envelopes itself is heartbreaking and while Ginny has a mission with each envelope her adventures teach her more about herself then seeing the world.  Each envelope challenges her and creates a journey she won't soon forget.

First off, I'm very impressed with how well Ginny followed the rules that came along with the 13 envelopes.  I would have cheated.  There is no way that I would have traveled to Europe with no money, credit cards or electronic contact with anyone in the United States.  Also there is no way I would limit myself to just one backpack.  Who am I kidding the last time I went to Europe I had 4 suitcases just for myself.  Ginny is very trusting of her Aunt who sent the envelopes.  She went along with each mission no matter how crazy or unlikely they seemed.

Some of Ginny's actions surprised me throughout the novel.  I would have been more conscious of others and scared out of my mind to be taking this journey alone.  She somehow convinced her conservative parents to let her take this journey.  I feel this part is a little unbelievable for her age.  Maybe if she was 18 or traveling with a friend, but I don't see most parents letting someone go off on this journey with no idea where they were staying or what they had to do.  I definitely had to suspend reality a bit to get over this part, but once I did the story was fun and touching. 

I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel or not.  I enjoyed how the story ended and I felt that both Ginny and I had closure.  Who knows though...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Published by: Hachette Audio
Length: 12hrs., 33min
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

This novel had a bunch of hype to live up to.  It made almost every "Best of 2011" that I read.  So the question is was it that wonderful of a read...of course it was.  I loved the fantasy component.  I'm not a huge fantasy reader, but as story described the Chimera and their lore I was awestruck. 

Karou is my favorite type of action heroine.  She's fierce, feisty, completely dominates in a fight and yet has a heart the size of Texas.  She is loyal and will stop at nothing to find her adopted family of Chimera.  She also had great chemistry with Akiva.  I wish their romance would have developed a little slower.  I felt they went from hating each other and mortal enemies to instantly falling for each other.  Though I have to admit, this made more since once I got near the end of the novel and figured out exactly who Karou was. 

The narrator of this audiobook was Khristine Hvam.  I thought she did a wonderful job.  She kept me intrigued and very invested in the story.  She brought life to characters, giving them emotion and making me truly care for them as people.  The one thing that was confusing for me was when the story would go back in time.  I had some trouble keeping the present and past parts of the story straight, but otherwise the audio was stunning. 

This is an amazing story full of adventure and heartbreak and really convinced me to give fantasy novels another look. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Night Date Night

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie review (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 chillin with the girls.
When I need a little bit of comfort I often go back and read fairy tales.  I love reading the classics like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  You know they have a happy ending and everything just seems more magical when they are around.  I am the same way when it comes to movies.  I like the "old" standbys to make me feel all warm and gooey inside.  Be it a fairy tale or a romantic comedy there is something comforting about the familiarity of those standbys movies.   
The other night when I was stressed and tired from a long work week I decided to give my mind a break and pop in my niece's movie Tangled.  To my surprise I was captivated by this revamped version of Rapunzel.  It was everything you want in a Disney movie.  It was cute, charming and really funny.   
I loved the magic that was added to the movie.  It gave a whole different twist and really freshened up the old tale.  My favorite character who have to be the horse.  He was so funny.  He's the side kick you never really wanted but seems to always be there.  Plus the frying pan seemed to always pop up when they needed it.  I want a "weapon" like that! 
Disney movies always leave you with a little bit of romance as well and Tangled is not exception.  There is a scene in this movie with the floating lanterns.  It is really romantic and makes me want to go see them in real life some day.  It was a great surprise in the movie and it quickly became my favorite scene. 
Next time your in the mood for a comfort movie, try a new one...you may just have another to add to your list. 
Want to learn more?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review of Red Glove by Holly Black

Red Glove (Curse Workers, #2)Title: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)
Author: Holly Black
Narrator: Jesse Eisenburg
Published by: Listening Library
Length: 8 hrs., 30 min
Source: Library
Format: audiobook
Rating: ★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else. That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive.

Get ready for another adventure with the curse workers.  You never know what you're in for, but it's sure to be twisted, dark and more than a little terrifying.  I absolutely love the mob connections in this novels.  The mob is fascinating enough, but then add in the element of the curse workers who can control emotion, kill another, and transform others just by the touch of their hand.  What a crazy adventure! 

I'm a pretty down to earth person, but I was walking to my car after work and listening to this book on my ipod when I noticed all the people around me were wearing gloves.  I started to freak out a little since I was so enraptured in the story that it took me a minute to realize they were not curse workers...it's just winter in Wisconsin.  As my story shows Holly Black knows how to grip her audience and command their attention.  She created this world that enraptures you and takes you away for the reality of your everyday life.

In Red Glove Cassel has to solve who murdered his older brother.  I'm not really sure what I think about Cassel's family (the ones who are dead and alive).  I'm sure in their own twisted way they are trying to look out for each other, but they always seem to scheme and manipulate each other.  I'm sure glad they are not my family.  Cassel seems to be trying to be a better person/friend in this novel.  I love how his whole life doesn't revolve around curse work or the cons.  I have hope for him yet.

I wanted more from Lila in this novel though.  I understand she was cursed by an emotion worker, but she just felt really frail to me.  I like my heroines strong in mind and body.  She made some bad decision throughout the book and I feel like she didn't have to face any consequences for them.  By the end of the novel I had some more respect for her, and hopefully in the next novel she'll be more fierce and feisty.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 268
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

What a way to start off 2012.  If all of the debut authors are as good as Veronica Rossi, my TBR pile will be growing exponentially.

We start out by meeting Aria.  I wasn't really sure about Aria at first.  She was really sheltered and judgemental.  I'm sure I would be freaked to no end to be kicked out of my home and left to die, but I think I would hopefully accept any help, especially if it was given by the same person who saved my life days earlier.  Throughout the novel she ends up growing tremendously as a character.  Not only does she physically grow stronger, but she comes to realize that not everything is so black and white.  By the end of the story I really came to care for Aria and understand her inner strength and resilience.

One of the best things about this novel was the relationship between Aria and Perry.  There are so many complex emotions going on between the two.  Their alliance was formed under duress and their hatred for one another was evident.  As the spend more time together their feelings get confused and their emotions are in an uproar.  I really enjoyed the slow burning romance between the two.  For some reason the whole enemies turned lovers is a really gripping tale, especially when they are fighting for their lives.  And the best thing...the story is told in alternating POVs between the two, so we get both sides of the story.  I truly loved that part. 

Veronica Rossi creates a world like no other.  Where some people live in a made up, virtual life, others are fighting for their survival.  The sky is an enemy along with the cannibals, disease and other savages.  This novel was so gripping that I had a hard time putting it down and often read into the early hours of the morning.  And my favorite thing about this novel was the ending.  It was done fabulously.  The main conflict was resolved, but the bigger issues are still there.  This lady knows how to write a cliffhanger the right way!    

While I still have some questions about the Aether and other things, I am left wondering and not confused like other novels have left me.  I think Veronica Rossi figured out the perfect combination of how much information to give and how much to withhold to keep us wanting more.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Seven Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book

1.  Liz Berry.  She wrote a novel called The China Garden that I read over ten years ago.  It was amazing and one of the first novels I ever read that had some sort of magical element involved.  Now I wait this many years later and I haven't heard of her publishing another novel.  Whoa to me! 

2. J. K. Rowling.  She is such an amazing author that I would love to read another series or novel by her.  I don't think I want anymore Harry Potter novels, because I feel the series is perfect as is, but another type of novel would be great.  She has so much talent and it would be wasteful not to share it.

3. Melina Marchetta.  I don't think she really counts because she has had two books released not that long ago.  I just love her novel so much that even if she wrote a novel every month I don't think I would ever get enough. 

4. Stephanie Meyer.  I'm waiting on a certain novel that was started, accidentally released, and then refused to be finished.  Yea...we all know the one.  Where is it?  Don't you think your fans deserve this novel.  If not...then what happened to The Host being a series? 

5. Anne Fortier.  She wrote this amazing novel called Juliet about a girl who was related to the original Juliet and she goes on a journey to discover the real story behind Romeo and Juliet.  I fell in love with this novel.  It is truly amazing. 

6. Diane Setterfield.  I adored The Thirteenth Tale.  It is a wonderful mix of literary fiction, the classics, and a touch of mystery. 

7. Simone Elkeles.  This lady knows how to write a sexy YA novel.  She has the perfect combination of innocence and desire.  I would like to formally request a new series and if perhaps Simone Elkeles wants to name her main character Lisa and have that said main character meet a slightly dangerous, slightly charming, and full out sexy man all the better!  *giggles*

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 308
Source: Traded with The Book Cellar
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★

Summary from GoodreadsIn Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

At first I was a little apprehensive about reading this novel, because I'm just not a Zombie-type person.  I thought there was going to be some human-Zombie love so that is what originally deterred me from reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I just cannot picture Zombies as sexy so hence my neglect of this novel.  I think I cursed myself with my fear of disliking this book, because I didn't actually enjoy it that much.  It wasn't a bad book by any means, and I really think this was a case of me more than anything.

When I originally started reading this book I thought of M. Night Shyamalan's movie "The Village."  There are great similarities between that movie and this book.  They both lived in these small communities with no knowledge of an outside world and a fear of the surrounding woods that were crawling with creatures.  This concept in itself is a great one and I really enjoyed the setting of the book and the plot.  Carrie Ryan did an amazing job at giving us a picture of a secluded lifestyle and the hope that there is more out there than monsters. 

The major issue I had with the novel was the main character Mary.  I couldn't stand her.  I thought she was self-centered, selfish, whiny, rude and just a not nice person.  I feel like she wouldn't listen to what anyone else had to say, instead she just believed she was right and everything she did therefore was the right thing to do.  She didn't have any respect for others and that was portrayed many times through her actions, especially with her friends.  I understand that she lives in a completely different situation than I do and her actions were probably normal for the setting of the book and how the main character should act, I just wasn't fond of her. *see more evidence it was me and not the book*

I think if the main character was different I would have loved this novel.  It has all the elements to be a great novel and I've read some spectacular reviews for it, so again it points to it being more of a me issue than a bad book issue.  If you've read this novel let me know what you thought of Mary?       

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Night Date Night

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie review (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 chillin with the girls.

A couple months ago my bookclub got the choice to pick between two books; one I don't remember and the other one was One Day by David Nicholls.  We ended up picking the other book, but I was still intrigued by One Day.  I thought it was so interesting that the author followed the lives of two people and peaked in on them once a year on the same day for twenty years to see how their friendship has changed.  I bought the book and to this day it still sits on my shelf.  So I decided to cheat and watch the movie instead.

I heard really wonderful things about this movie so I was excited to see it.  I really enjoy Anne Hathaway as an actress and I think Jim Sturgess is such a cutie.  I instantly fell in love with this movie.  It was so adorably cute and made me feel all bubbly inside.  I knew that this would be a movie I could watch over and over again. 

While this movie started out light and bubbly, it soon delved into deeper more personal issues.  There were times I could have just slapped Dexter (Jim Sturgess) because he turned into such a jerk.  I was so disappointed in him as I'm sure Emma (Anne Hathaway) was.  At the same time Emma seemed scared of life and of taking risks.  Emma and Dexter seemed like polar opposites, but they still had this magnetic pull towards one another.   Their friendship had it's ups and downs like most friendships do, but somehow over the years and distance apart they were still a huge part of each others life. 

To borrow the words of Anne Shirley the movie was so "Romantical."  There was laughter, tears, pain and happiness...it truly portrayed the complex emotions of friendship. 

Want to learn more?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review of White Cat by Holly Black

Title: White Cat
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Listening Library
Discs: 6
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook
Rating: ★★★

Summary from Goodreads: Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail—he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.

What a scandalous read!  Curse workers are what happens when the mafia steals the X-Men's powers and try to blend in with the rest of the world (at least that's where my imagination took me).  They are ridiculously scary and it's crazy to think how much they can mess with a person's life.  It kind of makes me scared to touch other people now for fear they are going to mess with my memory or worse, kill me.  But alas I should have no fear since of course the curse workers live in a fictional world.

I thought it genius that White Cat was told from a males point of view.  For some reason it feels more intense and  adventurous hearing Cassel's take on things.  I came to really enjoy liked Cassel as a character as the book progress.  At first I though he was a scheming, arrogant, liar but that quickly changed when the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place.  He hasn't lived the easiest life, or had the best support a family could offer, but he seemed to find his own way through life.  Even though he tried to make friends, the death of his best friend still haunts him.  This part of the story confused me at first because his action of killing his best friend didn't seem to fit with his personality.  As the story progresses Lila's death becomes quite the scandal. 

Another aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the mystery the arises.  While I feel a little silly for not figuring things out sooner, the twists and turns the novel takes will have you changing your opinions of the characters often and always second guessing what really is true and who has been worked.  While the plot scheme is intense, it is presented in a way to entice the reader instead of confusing them.  Like anything 'the mob' is involved with, there is always some sort of power-play at hand and Cassel's seems to be stuck in the middle of it.  Poor boy! 

This book has a little bit of something for everyone.  There's action, adventure, romance, mystery and double-crossing.  I can't wait to see what Red Glove has in store for Cassel and his friends.