Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Audio Review of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator:  Rebecca Soler
Published by: Macmillan Audio
Length: 11hr., 20min.
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own. 

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

First Cinderella, now Little Red Riding Hood.  Marissa Meyers captivates us with her unique twist in the retellings of our favorite classics.

Of course after finishing Cinder I wanted more of Cinder and Kai's story.  How dare this new person intrude!  But soon Scarlet's story took over and I couldn't decide which story I wanted more of.  I'm glad they switched back and forth because it gave me time to appreciate each of the story lines and eventually how they intersect.  I thought this may be confusing to listen to in the audio version, but it was done really well.  Rebecca Soler was a pleasant reader and I didn't have an issue keeping the stories straight.  

Along with Scarlet, the new characters were a fun addition.  They were entertaining, especially Wolf, and at times humorous.  Don't get me wrong, I loved reconnecting with the characters from Cinder, but it's always fun to meet new people.  Scarlet is definitely my sort of girl.  She's determined, head-strong, and a bit wild.  I connected with her more than I did Cinder and that made her story more interesting for me.

One thing that Marissa Meyer does well is cliffhangers.  As soon as we get into the action and the conflict...BAM...we would change chapters.  This drove me insane (in a good way) and kept the pace of the book fast.  However, one thing I felt was lacking was the world building.  We have this new setting which is unlike any I've seen.  At times I felt lost trying to understand some of the background, and while bits and pieces were revealed there is still more mystery...not only with the chapters, but how the world around them came to be and how it works.  Cinder and Scarlet are so original and have this amazing setting and I just wish I knew more about the world they live in.

All in all, I think I may have enjoyed Scarlet more than Cinder.  *Gasp* I know, crazy right?  How did you feel Scarlet compared to Cinder?  Are there any "sophomore" novels that you have enjoyed more than the first in the series?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Audio Review of This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: This World We Live In (Last Survivors, #3)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Published by: Listening Library
Length: 6hr., 53min.
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. Miranda and her two brothers spend their days scavenging for food and household items, while their mother stays at home and desperately tries to hold on to the ordinary activities of their previous life. But they all know that nothing is truly normal in this surreal new world they live in.

The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship. Then a devastating tornado hits the town of Howell, and Miranda makes a decision that will change their lives forever.

Dystopian at its best.  This World We Live In makes you question your morals and ethics when there are few left in the world to keep you accountable.

Ahhh...the ending.  I promise I won't give anything away, but I still don't know what I think about this ending.  I cannot imagine being one of the last survivors on earth, so I don't know what I'd do when it came to trying not only to keep myself alive, but also others.  You read about who each of these characters turn into and the things they do to to survive, but if you were in their situations would you do any differently?  

Miranda has grown up a bit since the first novel; I guess the situation she's in will do that to you.  I still, for some reason, was not a fan of her.  I felt that she was irrational, selfish, and immature.  Then I have to look at the situation she was in and reassess.  Does that ever happen to you?  I feel like she should have handled things differently, but then I have to check myself and ask what would I do if I was that age and in that situation.  Sometimes the two just don't mesh together for me.  Am I alone here or does anyone else have this issue as well?

The best thing about This World We Live In was how it tied the whole series together.  In the first novel we meet Miranda and her family and in the second novel we meet Alex Morales and his family.  The last one brings everyone together and while you may think isn't that a nice way to wrap it all up, it was still a bit unsettling.  It may be because of their hardship and struggles or that for this series a fairy tale ending does not fit with the flow of the story.  

Susan Beth Pfeffer did an amazing job at making this novel seem real.  There are no knights with shining armor, or secret government holdings to protect these common people.  They have to steal, pillage, starve and lie to survive.  They watch everyone around them die and yet they need a will to survive and keep living day to day.  There was so much interwoven in This World We Live In that it will stick with you long after you read it.  It is the kind of novel that will constantly make you self reflect and wonder, but at the same time it is an enjoyable read.  Plus the narrator is really good.  Emily Bauer not only read the first book in this series, but has narrated many novels I have read including novels by Meg Cabott, Anna Godbersen, Tera Lynn Childs, and Ann Aguirre.  If you haven't listened to something read by Emily Bauer you should.    

This World We Live In ended the series in a way that left you wondering about the future and what it will hold for these characters.  While the ending was a bit frustrating, it was also realistic making me appreciate the novel that much more.   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Names I Love

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

Top Ten Character Names I Love

1. Calla from Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.  I have loved this name since I first open this novel.  I think it is so pretty.  I also like the nickname of Lily for Calla even though it is totally corny.  
Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)
2. Aria from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  I literally feel like the name Aria is sung instead of spoken.  It instantly brings to mind gorgeous flowing melodies.
Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)
3. Ginevra from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.  I do like both Ginevra and Ginny both, but Ginevra sounds more regal.  
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
4.  Scarlett from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  Such a gorgeous name.
Gone with the Wind
5. Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.  I don't know if this is her name in the original story, but I have liked this name since I was little and first saw the movie.
Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty
6. Guinevere from The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Tennyson.  Yes this is very similar to Ginevra but I do adore them both. 

7.  Lancelot from The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Tennyson.  Maybe it's just Camelot but I'm loving all their names...well maybe not Merlin.  
The Lady Of Shalott
8. Lyra from The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.  Not sure why I like this one, I just do.
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
9. Holden from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  I think the name Holden is unique and masculine yet not overly masculine.  
The Catcher in the Rye
10. Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  Another name that I've always been drawn to + I think the Urban Dictionary definition of Sebastian is hilarious.  Here is a little peak of it
 "Sabastian a perfect specimen of a man. Well manicured, clothes pressed, whitest teeth ever. A passionate lover, friend, and art fanatic. Publishes poetry and woes all the girls. Danger keep away your women because he is the smoothest of all operators"
City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)
What are some names from literature that you like or that you have always been drawn to?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Night Date Night: Beautiful Creatures

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.


Long ago when I heard that Beautiful Creatures was going to be made into a movie I was excited and scared.  We all know the movie never lives up the books and the world that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created was beautiful and complex. 

Did I think that the movie nailed the book?  No, far from it but I went into the movie differently than I have before.  I didn't reread the book before I watched the movie...GRASP.  I know completely crazy right?  Anyway I found I didn't remember every little detail and I could just enjoy the movie for what it was, a loose interpretation for the novel.  I cannot say for sure how well the movie aligned with the novel, because honestly I don't remember as much about the novel as I should have.  However, I had a feeling while I was watching it that the story was slightly off than what I was used to, especially the ending.  

Beautiful Creatures (2013) Poster

As for the characters I did enjoy Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan and I loved Emmy Rossum as Ridley, but I wasn't feeling Alice Englert as Lena.  I cannot say exactly what is was about her or the acting, but that was not the Lena I imagined in my head and I could not reconcile the difference.  

The setting, however, was just as I imagined Gatlin County to be like.  It was haunted and gorgeous.

While there were some issues I had with the movie, overall I did enjoy it + it made me want to go back and reread the novel.  Always a good thing in my book! 

What are your plans for this Friday Night?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

11337089Title: Slice of Cherry
Author: Dia Reeves
Published by: Simon Pulse
Pages: 505
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Rating: 1.5

Summary from Goodreads: Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities…

Slice of Cherry is definitely not like anything you've ever read before.  Dia Reeves puts her own twist on a coming of age, horror story with a touch of fantasy.

I have to admit that the cover and then the synopsis is what drew me to this book.  I do not typically read this type of novel, but I wanted to give it a try.  For me it was a little too realistic to be fantasy, and little too light to be horror.  I'm not really sure what I would classify it as, but this novel wasn't for me.

The characters were well developed, though it was often difficult to determine what type of people they were.  At times I felt I could really like them and understand them and then they tortured and killed someone without remorse and it became a game to them.  Maybe I'm too sensitive or I just read Slice of Cherry at a time when there were too many stories in the news of teens killing people "because they were bored," but I didn't understand the torture and killing from these girls.  

There were some redeeming parts to Slice of Cherry as well, like the parts featureing the siblings fighting, the coming of age of Fancy, and the towns dynamics (what we saw of it) I enjoyed.  They are what kept me reading from page to page.  Though, I'm still really confused about the monsters...not the human ones, but the ones living in the woods.  Can anyone explain them to me?  I felt like I didn't understand this world or that it wasn't developed enough for it to add to the story.    

One thing that is remarkable is the originality of Slice of Cherry.  I have never come across another plot or story-line quite like this one.  While I didn't understand the girls, I think if the world and some of the smaller details of the book would have been explored further I could have ended up liking this story more.

It is not a bad story and if you think you may be interested, I would say you should read it.  However, this story was not for me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was "Forced" To Read

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

Top Ten Books I Was "Forced" to Read

"Forced" by the (school) District

1. Beowulf by Unknown.  I am sad to say but I did not like this book one bit.  For me it was grotesque and a bit violent from what I remember.  The semester after I had to read this, one of my classmates's parents complained about this book and after that there was an option between this book and 1984 by George Orwell.  I am still upset (ok not really, but I was at the time) that I had to read Beowulf and did not get the option to read another book.  

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell.  Again this book was not one of my favorites.  I do not think I was really mature enough or worldly enough at the age I read this to truly enjoy it.  I have thought about rereading it to see if my opinion changes, but the first experience was not pleasant and I am not sure I can get over that.   

Animal Farm

3.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  We read this book in eighth grade and I absolutely loved it.  I felt like I was in a game of clue and had to figure out who did it.  This one brings back such happy memories for me that I wish I could go back and thank whomever decided this was required reading.

The Westing Game

4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  This novel I actually read while I was on vacation in Florida during my freshman year of high school.  I sat by the pool, soaking up the sun and Dickens, imagining this is what college would be like (ha...I was sorely mistaken).  While I did enjoy this novel, there was a bit of a communication error where I though my teacher said we were reading the entire book during the 2 weeks I was gone and instead the class barely read two chapters.  Needless to say I was quite bored in lit class the rest of the semester.  

Great Expectations

"Forced" to read in College Lit

5. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.  I read this novel for my African American lit class, which happened to be full of the baseball team because they heard it was an easy A (which I have to admit it was).  However, while I did read this novel I'm pretty sure I was only 1 of 3 people who did out of a class of 30.  I quite resented the rest of the class for just restating what the 3 of us talked about during discussion or saying they either couldn't think of anything or that they didn't have anything to say (hello...what a cop out!).  Anyway because of that experience I have a bad connotation with the book.  Horrible I know, but that's life. 

Invisible Man

6. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  Another book for African American lit, but this one I loved.  It brought me to a place that I had never been and opened my eyes in a way I will forever be grateful for.  It was a beautiful novel and it makes me sad that I didn't get a meaningful discussion in my class for this novel.  

Their Eyes Were Watching God

"Forced" to Read for Book clubs 

7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  My bestie and I were in the same book club when this book was "assigned" and while she hated it and did not finish it, I fell in love.  Seriously, I know many people do not like this book, but I could not (and still cannot) get enough of it.  The crazy, messed up love that Catherine and Heathcliff had breaks my heart and gives me hope at the same time.  Were they certifiably insane?  Maybe, but the love they had for each other was all-consuming, fierce, and unlike anything I've seen before.          

Wuthering Heights

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  This may come as a surprise to many of you, but I did not read this beloved YA favorite until I had to for my young adult book club.  The first time I read it I did not enjoy it.  I appreciated all the underlying themes, but I could not get passed the part about the government forcing children to kill children for sport.  

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

9. The Life You Longed For by Maribeth Fischer.  This novel was amazing.  I cannot describe to you how wonderful I thought this book was.  Then on top of it she came to our book club discussion.  Essentially this book is about the choices we make and how we have to live with the consequences.  Here is a little blurb from Goodreads: 

 "Grace's son Jack is a miracle. At three years old, he's fighting a mysterious, deadly disease that his doctors predicted would kill him as a baby. To the world, Grace's fierce dedication is the sole reason for her son's survival. But someone suspects that perhaps Jack's disease is not what it seems. When an allegation of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is leveled against Grace, she begins to live in constant suspicion of everyone -- from the doctors and nurses surrounding her son in the hospital to her own husband. Who could possibly think that she has been purposely making her son ill to gain attention for herself?"

I am so happy that I was introduced to this novel because I don't think I would have read it otherwise.  

The Life You Longed For

10. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  This novel started my love affair with Melina Marchetta and I couldn't be happier.  This is one of those untouchable books for me and one that holds a special place in my heart.  It reached me in a way not many books do and introduced me to the notion of characters being beautifully flawed.  

Jellicoe Road

What about you?  Were you forced to read any of these novels?  If so, what did you think of them?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Audio Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

17837641Title: Ten Tiny Breaths
Author: K.A. Tucker
Narrator: Elizabeth Louise
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 8 hr and 58 min
Source: Review copy from Simon and Schuster Audio*
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, Kacey and her fifteen-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. They’re struggling to make ends meet at first, but Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything—anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart—even if it means revealing an explosive secret that could shatter both of their worlds.

Ten Tiny Breaths was an emotional, heartbreaking story that was quite complex yet beautiful.  This story has it all. 

I am not really sure where to start with this novel.  There were so many layers to Ten Tiny Breaths and I can't believe how well K.A. Tucker weaved them together.  The first thing I want to discuss is the title.  Ten Tiny Breaths happens to be a coping mechanism that Kacey's mom taught her and let me tell you it definitely came in handy in this novel for Kacey during difficult times (and for me listening to them).  I loved how this was incorporated throughout the story and really connected Kacey to her past.  

Kacey herself was an emotional mess.  However, no matter what happened in her life she protected her sister.  Everything she did was for Livie and to keep her safe and happy.  I loved the relationship between these sisters and how they helped each other heal.  K.A. Tucker wrote the relationships between the women/girls in this story so well.  It is often difficult to write female relationships that are real and appropriate for different age groups and yet K.A. Tucker nailed it.    

Besides the female relationships, the interactions between Trent and Kacey left me frustrated and sometime breathless.  The tension between these two was ridiculous .  And I do not mean like it was silly ridiculous I meant it as  I do not know how other people could be in the same room as them and not feel suffocated or that they were witnessing something that was about to get inappropriate for an audience.  On another note, I am happy though that their relationship started slow (much to the disappointment of some readers and that tension that was swirling around) and progressed in a natural way .  Call me old fashion, but I did love how Trent came to the rescue all the time.  It was sweet.

I do not think you can discuss this novel without talking about the secrets and twists.  They are everywhere and take you by surprise.  At times I had to reread (re-listen) to parts just because I could not believe that just happened.  However I must admit that there were instances I felt like I had heard this story before.  It is not that I did not enjoy it, but it had many similar elements to other books out there.  

Elizabeth Louise was a great narrator.  Her edge to her voice fit Kacey perfectly and made me imagine the tough, protective, and broken character she was.  The audio help me with some of the pacing issues and also from stopping myself from skimming parts because I wanted to get to the "good stuff."  Sometimes I get too caught up in a story line and want to skip all the minutiae and only read the stuff relevant to the situation at hand.  

If you are looking for something that is beautiful but in a broken way, Ten Tiny Breaths is for you.

*I did receive a copy of this audio book for review, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review Post: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

17286849Title:  Fangirl
Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin 
Pages: 434
Format:  Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating:  4.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:  In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

We as book lovers get attached to characters, worlds, plots, authors, and essentially every other aspect of a book.  These people and places become a comfort to us and a part of our lives just like their non-fiction entities.  Who didn't hope for their very own letter to Hogwarts, to be able to shoot an arrow like our favorite fearless heroine, or dare I say it...want a sparkling boyfriend of our own at one time or another?  We get completely immersed in the story and it becomes part of who we are. 

The same is true for Cath.  She is not only a Simon Snow fan, but she is THE fan.  You know the one who has fans of their own.  Not only does she live for the books, movies, world, and characters but she is also one of the most famous fanfiction writers out there with a massive following of her own.  She's a bit obsessed to say the least and it is taking over her life.  

I really loved Cath as a character.  She was a bit naive and sheltered but she also didn't bend to peoples will or change who she is.  However, Cath was just one of the outstanding characters in this novel.  Wren was eccentric and a bit wild.  She knew what she wanted from life and went after it.  Levi was completely and utterly adorable.  Where was he when I went to college?  And my favorite character had to be Reagan.  I loved her and her surly attitude.  I thought she was a riot.    

College is a tough transition and I think that Rainbow Rowell did an amazing job at capturing two of the different ends of the spectrum with Cath and her sister.  Both of these girls were going through some traumatic experiences and tough times, then on top of that they move away to college.  They handled things very differently, though truth be told also very typically.  Looking back on my undergrad days I can definitely see myself in both of these girls and their actions (is that a good thing?)

Fangirl was a different take on YA/New Adult and I think I quite liked it. For me at least, it seems a bit more relate-able than other NA books, yet it still had most of the elements + it was hilarious.  There were so many times I laughed out loud when reading this novel.  (side note:  This novel seems to bridge both YA and NA, though in an interview Rainbow Rowell states she feels it is more YA.)

Fangirl is definitely worth the hype.  I think I'm going to stock up on a couple of these books, as they will make great graduation gifts.      

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

That awkward post...

I was reading a beauty/hair/style blog post from Kate of The Small Things blog the other day and she mentioned that everyone has that awkward first post and/or the awkward coming back post.  Well, here is mine...

I was one of those people who would always take a couple of days off blogging for vacation or something, but I never thought about taking a longer break.  In all honesty I didn't understand the need for a long break.  When I started my blog I was a Ph.D student and even though I was busy I still found time to read and blog.  At times when things got crazy or the days long, I would listen to audio books instead because that was something I could do while analyzing data.  Starting last winter everything changed though...I was finishing up my projects and it came time to write my dissertation.  Well I soon found out that listening to audio books was no longer possible (since I'm not talented enough to listen to one thing and type another), and working 80-100 hour weeks left me too tired to read.  The little free time I had I wanted to spend with my family.  Hence the decision to stop blogging for a while.

Then came summer.  I had finished my dissertation, passed my defense, and thought I would get finally get back to blogging, but I got offered a new position across the country and while I was reading and listening to more audio books, I still didn't have the time (or to be completely truthful, the desire) to blog.

Now that I'm settle in my new town and new position came the debate of whether to return or to just hang up my blogging hat.  It is not like I have a big blog or anything, but it took me awhile to remembered why I started blogging.  It was for me personally to record my thoughts and opinions about books and to talk to others who shared this passion.  That is what I started this blog for and that is what made my decision to return.  I don't think I'm going to post everyday (more like 3-4 times a week) as I want to try and find a balance that works for me.  Hopefully things will work out, but my goal is to remember the joy of blogging and why I started.

Here ends the awkward blog post....