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.          

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reviewed of Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

Title: Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood #7)
Author: J.R. Ward
Published by: Penguin Group
Pages: 672
Source: Purchased
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood-even though his sister is married to a member, for he harbors a deadly secret that could make him a huge liability in their war against the lessers. As plots within and outside of the Brotherhood threaten to reveal the truth about Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in his darkening world, Ehlena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him-and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

With another installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood our knowledge of these deadly and sexy creatures grows.  While Rehvenge may not be part of the brotherhood and was always seen as the big bad drug lord, Lover Avenged brings out a completely different side of this warrior and what he'd do for love.

Ehlena and Rehvenge made quite the couple.  I think out of all the mates I have liked Ehlena the most.  She's down to earth and willing to fight for what she thinks is right.  She's determined and carries herself with a dignity that far surpasses those of the glymera.  Along with this couple we get to see more into the lives of the other brother especially Wrath and Beth and John Matthew and Xhex.  I love how intertwined each of the brothers stories are and it's kind of a treat when they make a larger reappearance in the later books.  I've missed some of them greatly and wish we'd get more glimpses into their lives.

The pace of this novel was a little off for me.  I found it quite slow at times and I didn't enjoy any of the scenes with the lessers.  In fact, I kind of skimmed over those because I couldn't connect to them at all.  Even though this wasn't my favorite book in the series, J.R. Ward left us with a cliffhanger that makes me eager to read the next book. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review of Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Title: Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Published by: Dial
Pages: 563
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

I have been waiting to read this novel ever since I finished Graceling about 2 years ago.  Kristin Cashore has created a fantasy world that's rich in detail, creates vivid images and characters that you'll form instant attachments too.  There was a lot of mystery in this novel that was a pleasant surprise but also at times I found distracting as I wasn't sure who to actually trust. 

In the aftermath of King Leck's death, Bitterblue is trying to restore her nation and heal it, while others are continuing the horror and death.  I can't imagine how some of these people felt after being controlled by King Leck.  He was a truly awful person and commanded not only complete and utter obedience but also for his subjects to commit heinous crimes.  Bitterblue doesn't know much of what happened then or what is currently happening in her city and it makes it difficult for her to rule.  The complicated feelings of these characters  experienced made the reader's connection to the story that much greater.  To sympathize with the victums led to a greater understanding of the complexity of the situation and each person's actions.

The story itself was captivating and heart-breaking.  I didn't expect this story to touch my heart as much as it did, but the desperation and longing that the story held made it impossible not to.  Thankfully there are many funny moments too that helped counteract some of the more serious issues and a touch of romance to spark your interest. 

Overall I really enjoyed the story, but I was hoping for a lighter and more encouraging tale.  Instead, I got a very truthful and realistic tale that is not found in many fantasy novels but was refreshing quite wonderful. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Night Date Night: The Lucky One

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.
The Lucky One 
Again...confession time.  I only read this novel and saw this movie because of how good Zac Efron looked in the advertisements.  He's definitely not in high school anymore and I wanted to see how he turned out as an actor playing a more serious role.
Sadly, I didn't really like this novel so I was hoping the movie would be better.  I was wrong.  Usually I like movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels, but this one didn't do it for me.  The acting felt stiff and forced in places.  Logan's (Zac Efron) character fell flat and while we did get glimpses of a fun loving guy, there was something missing. 
With any book to movie adaption there were changes and a lot was left out.  I'm not sure if adding some of these things back would have made the movie stronger or not.   
Has anyone else seen this movie?  What were your thoughts?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review of If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Title: If I Lie
Author: Corrine Jackson
Published by: Simon Pulse
Pages: 276
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

A complex tale of one person's secret and another's lie.  If I Lie is not only a powerful, emotional novel, it is also wonderfully written with a skill that far surpasses a debut author.

What a heart-breaking novel.  It was raw, pure and unbelievably good.  Quinn is completely ostracized by not only her friends and classmates, but the whole town.  The dynamic of this military town is fascinating.  They all band together to support those serving overseas and to do something that betrays one of them is unthinkable. 

Immediately before the secret came out I knew what it was and I adored Quinn that much more.  She took verbal and physical abuse just to protect someone's secret.  In fact, she is protecting multiple secrets and bears her suffering in silence.  Quinn definitely got the short end of the stick, but instead of complaining she finds an unlikely companion in the VA hospital that her father forced her to volunteer at.  Quinn uses this friendship to help heal her and make her go from a scared little girl to a strong and independent woman. 

Corrine Jackson blew me away with this debut novel and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.