Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Night Date Night: Lincoln

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.


A while ago I had the opportunity to go see Lincoln.  A bunch of people at work were all talking about how amazing it was and so when a friend asked if I wanted to go, I immediately said yes.  

I have a confession...the beginning was so slow and I seriously was wondering how all of these people thought it was so amazing.  Quickly though the action started picking up and I was on the edge of my seat.  At one point I actually threw my hands in the air in excitement....yea for Thaddeus Stevens.  What a momentous era; I wish I could have been there.  But alas, I was born too late, but this movie helped bring a little of the glory to life.  


Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis were amazing.  They were so passionate and completely believable.  Surprisingly there were many actors in Lincoln that I had seen in other films or shows; I had not been expecting that.  The costumes and setting were brilliant and really transported you back in time.  

This movie was truly wonderful (once you get past the first part).     

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Audio Review of Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Size 12 Is Not Fat (Heather Wells #1)Title: Size 12 is Not Fat (Heather Wells, #1)
Author: Meg Cabot
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Published by: Books on Tape
Length: 10hrs, 5min
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: HEATHER WELLS ROCKS!

Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two-and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings. Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather's perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York's top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather's residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective! 

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong. . . 

Light, hilarious, and down-right fun; Size 12 is Not Fat was the perfect book to take me away from that crazy hectic thing we call life.  

I am a bit late to the Meg Cabot worshiping.  I never read many of her YA series, and every once in a while I'd pick up one of her books, but never religiously.  Well, I think that is about to change with this series.  I'm not quite sure if it was just the right book at the right time syndrome, or if this is as fabulous as I think it is, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was laughing-out-loud one minute, commiserating with Heather the next, and then seriously wondering who that dang killer was.  Even though there were some serious moments, the over all feel of the book was light-hearted and fun. 

Heather is a retired pop singer who landed a job at a New York College as the assistant director of one of the resident halls.  She's a fresh voice and while at times she can be a bit ditsy, she's also super funny and seems down to earth.  Her imagination tends to run wild, along with her curiosity, which land her in some sticky situations.  She is definitely a take charge kind of girl, without seeming pushy.  The whole cast of characters in Size 12 is Not Fat were entertaining and seemed to fit really well into the story.  

If you are looking for a light read, or dreaming of those days of beach reads (it's only dreaming here...we still have snow!) add this series to your list!  

Since I am so late to the game, what is your favorite Meg Cabot book? Or are you like me and haven't read many (or any)?      

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review of MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza

Mila 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1)Title: MILA 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1)
Author: Debra Driza
Published by: HarperCollins
Pages: 480
Source: Publisher/Edelweiss
Format: ebook
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads : Mila was living with her mother in a small Minnesota town when she discovered she was also living a lie. 

She was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was never supposed to remember the past—that she was built in a computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much, and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology.

Evading her enemies won't help Mila escape the cruel reality of what she is and cope with everything she has had to leave behind. However, what she's becoming is beyond anyone's imagination, including her own, and that just might save her life.

Futuristic, fun, and filled with action; MILA 2.0 is a book you wouldn't want to miss.  

What a wild ride.  While this book started out a bit slower, it ended with a spectacular fireworks.  Looking back I can't believe how much was crammed between the pages.  Seriously, by the end of the story there were games, explosions, high speed chases, crazy androids, and murderous scientists.  I flew through the pages trying to figure out how it was going to end and who was going to live.  It was a bit exhilarating.      

While Mila was just trying to be a normal teenager, things soon go south for her when she realizes she is a artificial being who is highly coveted.  Even though Mila is not human, she does have the emotions of a teenage girl making her both weaker and stronger for it.  This really plays out towards the end of the story as she uses her emotions to not only fights to save her own life, but also those of people she truly cares for.  

The one area of MILA 2.0 that I wasn't sold on was the characters.  Yes, I liked them, but I didn't connect with them.  Maybe it was due to the fact that Mila isn't human, but I never felt like I got to understand her or some of the other characters.  But I have to say that Debra Driza did a great job at creating the villains.  They were so creepy and scary people that I would not want to find myself alone with them...ever.  

While part of Mila's story came to a close, there was a lot left open which I think will lead nicely into the next book in the series.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Blog Tour: The Devil's Triangle by Toni De Palma

Inline image 1Title: The Devil's Triangle (The Devil's Triangle, #1)
Author: Toni De Palma
Published by: Crescent Moon Press
Pages: 218
Source: Author
Format: ebook
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil's sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.

While Cooper figures out his mission, he's thrown into the life he's always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend who can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn't watch out.

While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what's keeping him and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined.

An original story about what's in store for you when you deal with the devil, or his sister for that matter.

I have read stories about angels and demons, but I'm not sure if I've ever read one that dealt with the devil.  I liked that this story was a bit different than what seems to be mainstream YA right now.  It was unique and the idea of getting a second chance was hopeful, and yet Toni De Palma didn't make Cooper's journey a ride in that park.  He had to go through many obstacles and while at times I thought maybe his mission was hopeless, there seemed to be some subtle divine intervention at the perfect moments.

The characters in this story were a bit hard for me to like.  First, a lot of the characters were quite evil and vindictive.  This always rubs me the wrong way when someone gets controlling and hurtful.  Toni De Palma did a great job at making me dislike these bullies and even at times fear them...we are talking about the devil and his minions so some fear is to be expected.  However, I didn't feel like we knew enough about the 'good' characters to like them.  Cooper and Grace are the main characters and yet we see little into Grace's life, and Cooper's life is kind of jumbled so that makes it a bit hard to connect to him.  My favorite character ended up being Cooper's brother Ryan.  He seems like a genuinely great guy who has had a horrible hand dealt to him, yet he seems to take it all in stride.  I wish we got to see more of him.

With Cooper's life being as convoluted as it was, I had a hard time following what was going on.  I wish I would have gotten a little more back story to understand Cooper and Grace's past and the events that led them up to today.  The missing information made it hard for me to read The Devil's Triangle at times, because I wasn't sure what was going on.  Eventually most of it plays out by the end of the novel, but I'm still a little confused about a couple of things.  Maybe they will be explained more in the next novel.

I really enjoyed the unique plot of The Devil's Triangle, but with the hard time I had connecting to the characters and following the plot left me wanting more....hopefully the sequel will fill in some blanks for me. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review of The Culling by Steven dos Santos

The Culling (The Torch Keeper, #1)Title: The Culling (The Torch Keeper, #1)
Author: Steven dos Santos
Published by: Flux
Pages: 421
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Format: ebook
Rating: 5 stars

Summary from GoodreadsRecruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die...

For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother.

Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits’ loved ones. What Lucky isn’t prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly...

I am not one for dark, violent, and horrifying tales but The Culling captivated me and turned my world upside down.

I'm having a difficult time putting into words what I feel about The Culling.  I was incredibly horrified and yet I could not take my eyes off the pages.  Think of facing the scenario of not only have to fight for your freedom, but if you lose you have to choose which of your loved ones to's heartbreaking and so scary.  I didn't really contemplate the situations that these young adults were put into until the day came when they were put through The Trials...I felt so hopeless and broken.  I could not believe the emotions that Steven dos Santos evoked in the reader.  It is really quite amazing that he was able to convey all he did through one novel.

The Recruits were people who were desperate and did barbaric things.  I wanted to hate some of them, but I couldn't because at times I could relate to them and  I have no idea who The Trials would turn me into.  Lucky and Digory were by far my favorite characters, but I came to like most of the Recruits by the end and if I didn't like them I could at least understand them.  Cassius, while I despised him, was the perfect villain   He had a way of complete and utter control over others that made you cringe.  It was worse than someone who used violence, because he really messed with a person's mind and emotions.  It was utterly brilliant, yet horrifying.  

The one thing about this novel that I adored is the incorporation of  homosexuality.  It wasn't obvious at first or even the center of the story.  There was no gay best friend, or homophobic jock.  The world as a whole was pretty messed up in The Culling, but how they viewed homosexuality (essentially homophobia didn't exist) was something I can only hope our world will someday achieve.  The romance was completely natural and something that I think everyone will enjoy and root for.

Overall I was amazed by this novel.  I don't only suggest you read this, but do it now.  I only wish I could go out and buy everyone's that good!    

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review of The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

The Office of MercyTitle: The Office of Mercy
Author: Ariel Djanikian
Published by: Viking Adult
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Weaving philosophy and science together into a riveting, dystopian story of love and adventure, The Office of Mercy illuminates an all-too-real future imagined by a phenomenal new voice in fiction.

Twenty-four-year-old Natasha Wiley lives in America-Five—a high-tech, underground, utopian settlement where hunger and money do not exist, everyone has a job, and all basic needs are met. But when her mentor and colleague, Jeffrey, selects her to join a special team to venture Outside for the first time, Natasha’s allegiances to home, society, and above all to Jeffrey are tested. She is forced to make a choice that may put the people she loves most in grave danger and change the world as she knows it.

Haunting, spellbinding and thought-inducing.

The Office of Mercy is the type of book where just when you think you know which side you stand on everything shifts and your left wondering whose opinions are the right ones.  While this dystopian novel mirrored many young adult novels, there was an added elements that made it stand on it's own.  It was the first adult dystopian novel I read so some of the situations were a bit more mature, but I think it would be a novel that any adult or teen would enjoy. 

Natasha was  refreshing character.  She was a bit feisty and didn't go along with the stream of followers.  She knew what she seeing and feeling was not right and instead of continuing the blind trust, she took matters into her own hands to right some of the wrongs of her society.  Besides Natasha, we don't really get to know too many characters.  This made me feel a bit disconnected and since we were following the story through Natasha's eyes, I felt her loneliness and understood how hard it was for her to not conform. 

The best thing about this book is the complicated feelings it induced.  I thought I was on one side of the battle the entire time, until all of sudden things exploded and then I didn't know what to think.  What I thought was originally morally wrong, I had to go back and examine to determine if what the people did was the right thing to continue the human race and make a better future.  As always this novel shows that ethically many decisions are not always black and white, and while you may not agree with every issue sometimes you just have to pick a side. 

A great debut by Ariel Djanikian, The Office of Mercy is sure to bridge the gap into adult dystopian novels.   
Don't forget to enter my giveaway for chance to win an Admission Prize Pack.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Giveaway: ADMISSION starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, based on the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Ya'll know I love when books are adapted into movies.  It just makes my day and now I'm going to make yours.  To celebrate the release of the film Admission featuring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd (who doesn't love these two actors) the wonderful people at Focus Features are letting me give one of my lucky readers a chance to win an Admission Prize Pack. 
One (1) winner will receive:
An Admission Prize pack including:
· Folder
· Notepad
· Pen
· Drawstring Bag
· Toothbrush
· Movie tie-in book
· Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey (Date Night, 30 Rock) and Paul Rudd (I Love You Man, Knocked Up) star in Admission, the new film directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz (About a Boy), about the surprising detours we encounter on the road to happiness.

Straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer Portia Nathan (Fey) is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Rudd). Pressman has surmised that Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), his gifted yet very unconventional student, might well be the son that Portia secretly gave up for adoption many years ago. Soon, Portia finds herself bending the rules for Jeremiah, putting at risk the life she thought she always wanted -- but in the process finding her way to a surprising and exhilarating life and romance she never dreamed of having.

Release Date: March 22, 2013
Genre: Comedy
Directed by: Paul Weitz (“About a Boy,” “Being Flynn,” “In Good Company”)
Written by: Karen Croner (“One True Thing”); Based on the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn, Gloria Reuben, Nat Wolff, Traveris Spears, Lily Tomlin

Giveaway rules:
You need to be at least 13 years old to enter
The giveaway is only open to US readers (I will have an international giveaway check back)

The winner will have 3 days to respond before a new winner is chosen
I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review of Hooked by Liz Fichera

Title: Hooked (Hooked, #1)
Author: Liz Fichera
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Format: ebook
Rating: 3 stars

Summary from GoodreadsGet Hooked on a Girl Named Fred...

HE said: Fred Oday is a girl? Puh-leeze. Why is a girl taking my best friend’s spot on the boys’ varsity golf team?

SHE said: Can I seriously do this? Can I join the boys’ team? Everyone will hate me—especially Ryan Berenger.

HE said: Coach expects me to partner with Fred on the green? That is crazy bad. Fred’s got to go—especially now that I can’t get her out of my head. So not happening.

SHE said: Ryan can be nice, when he’s not being a jerk. Like the time he carried my golf bag. But the girl from the rez and the spoiled rich boy from the suburbs? So not happening.

But there’s no denying that things are happening as the girl with the killer swing takes on the boy with the killer smile....

Liz Fichera doesn't hold anything back in her debut novel Hooked.  While the story focuses on Fred, the first girl on the guys varsity team, there are many underlying issues at work.  Some of them include: racism, alcohol abuse, stereotyping, physical abuse, infidelity, gender inequality and socio-economic status.  This may seem like a lot to handle, but it was presented really well in the story. 

Fred, a Native American girl golfer, joins the varsity team only to cause an uproar.  The guys are not only upset that there is a girl on their team, but that she is better than all of them.  While I wasn't a fan of a lot of the characters I thought most were true to what you'd expect.  I'm not saying I agree with many of their actions, but I felt like Liz Fichera portrayed each character in a manner that suited them and their behaviors.  While we really got to know both Fred and Ryan and their home lives, we only got glimpses of the other's lives.  These supporting characters felt a little flat to me since I didn't know much about them.  Fred on the other hand, I did like but at times I thought she was a bit naive.  She was a tough girl, who has led a rough live and so that aspect of her character didn't fit for me.

The story started off really well, as I love the thought of gender - equality, and if I'm being completely truthful the thought of not only a women, but a minority women showing up all these rich snobby white boys had me cheering Fred on and hoping she would succeed.  Soon though, things started to get twisted up and I felt like there were too many communication errors and other situations that it felt jumbled and like we were hoping from one scenario to the next.  It just happened to be too much drama for me.

While this book wasn't a hole-in-one (sorry I couldn't help it), I still enjoyed it and will most likely read the next book in the series. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Review of For the Love of a Vampire by M. Leighton

For the Love of a Vampire (Blood Like Poison, #1)Title: For the Love of a Vampire (Blood Like Poison, #1)
Author: M. Leighton
Published by: Self Published
Pages: 278
Source: Obtained free from Amazon (on 12/27/2012)
Format: ebook
Rating: 2 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Like most seventeen year olds, Ridley Heller thought she had her future all planned out. What she wanted most in life was to get out of small town Harker. Her only goal was to keep her mouth shut and her grades high so she could win a cheerleading scholarship to Stanford. But that was before she met Bo. 

In Ridley’s wildest dreams, she could never have planned for someone like Bo, for a love so intense it left her breathless. No human girl could.

A haunting stranger that watched her from afar, Bo stole Ridley’s heart from the moment she laid eyes on him. But he has secrets. Bo’s a vampire. Both his past and his present are a danger to Ridley, but the biggest threat is not her blood; it’s her heart. He’s feeding a thirst for revenge that will cost him his life, and it may already be too late. 

The more darkness Ridley uncovers, the more she realizes that her life will never be the same—with or without Bo. Can she sacrifice her future and her heart for someone who has a death wish?

M. Leighton brings a different twist to the typical young-adult vampire love story.  

While we are all used to the typical girl meets cute mysterious boy, but soon realizes something is different about him story, For the Love of a Vampire adds a interesting twist.  Bo's father was killed a while ago and now he's out for revenge, but the act of the revenge itself is literally killing him. 

I liked that Bo wasn't a happy-go-lucky kind of guy.  He's a bit dark and a lot mysterious, but he's actually a great guy underneath it well, besides the whole revenge thing.  He makes Ridley not only want to be a better person, but to actually act like one too. She's not living the easiest life and she tries to coast through by just ignoring everything around her.  Her 'friends' are actually quite horrible people.  I don't like conflict or anything, but I don't think I could have just sat there a let them talk like that or get anyway with things they did.  I felt like this was a good example of peer pressure and how wanting to be like everyone else sometimes causes you to ignore things that are blatantly wrong and hurtful.  I'm not condoning anyone's  behavior, but I'm sure this is something that happens is school everyday and I'm glad that the author showed this is unacceptable and something needs to be done.  By saying nothing to bullies you are encouraging them without using words.  I'll stop ranting now...    

This novel started out really well.  I liked the internal conflict that was going on with Ridley between who she truly was and how she outwardly acted.  I even liked originally meeting Bo and him challenging her to do what was right, however, the story kind of deteriorated from there.  There was huge case of insta-love between Ridley and Bo and I just didn't get it.  They were not connected in anyway that I knew of and yet they were in love by the second day.  That was just too much for me and it seemed to override everything else happening in the story.  The plot was interesting, but I felt like everything happened too fast and with not enough detail.  The whole thing, their romance and the conflict, seemed to speed along without the reader getting to savor what was happening.    

I think this would have been a great story if Ridley and Bo's relationship slowly built as the story continued as well as, flushing out more of the conflict.  M. Leighton was creative with her character's circumstances and the plot behind the story, which brings a lot to the table, however, it just didn't come together for me.