Tuesday, December 31, 2013


By: Rainbow Rowell

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives. Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

RAINBOW ROWELL HAS DONE IT AGAIN. She made me feel all of the things and care about all of the characters, and that's why she's become one of my favorite authors. I mean, she had me sold on this premise, while under the management of any other author it could turn out incredibly weird, she made it work.
The flow, the language, and the characters really shone. I loved watching Lincoln going about his life. It felt normal, like what life is actually like. He had good days and bad days and days that were slow and sort of gray. I just love the portrayal of real life.
Fitting with Rainbow Rowell's strengths, Lincoln felt like a very genuine person. All of his relationships (with his D&D friends, with Justin and Dena, with his mother and sister) were incredibly real.
^^That is exactly what I feel like when writing a review for a Rainbow Rowell book. But I can't say that it's not completely accurate.
My favorite part, however, was probably the emails between Jennifer and Beth. They were hilarious, in a incredibly witty way. I wanted to be friends with them, because not only were they funny, they were loyal and kind and great friends to each other. It was spectacular how Rainbow managed to make them 3-D characters in just a few lines of emails to each other, not even describing most of their lives, not even knowing what they looked like.
I loved how you didn't know what they looked like, but you didn't need to. You knew their fears and the things they loved. You (and Lincoln) experienced their essences before ever seeing them in person.
The plot moved along like I think a contemporary's plot should. It was sometimes a bit anecdotal, in the best way. There were some meandering scenes that you didn't see how they would fit into the overall plot, but then somehow they did and they added to the atmosphere of the read along the way.
This lived up to all the things I have come to expect of a Rainbow Rowell book. I'm pretty certain now that I will read anything and everything that she writes. (Including Landline, that comes out next year and for which I AM SO EXCITED).
"Tonight it was enough to be one of them. To be someplace where he always had a spot at the table, where everybody already knew that he didn't like olives on his pizza, and they always looked happy to see him."
"Every moment feels meant for me. In October...I have faith in my own rising action. I was born in February, but I come alive in October."
"It's so easy for someone else to say, "Don't worry. Everything's going to be all right." Why not say it? It doesn't cost anything. It doesn't mean anything. No one will hold you to it if you're wrong."
"Things get better--hurt less--over time. If you let them."
""So what did you see?"
"Just...the sort of girl who would write the sort of things that you wrote."
"What things?"
"...I pictured a girl who could be that kind, and that kind of funny. I pictured a girl who was that alive...A girl who never got tired of her favorite movies, who save dresses like ticket stubs. Who could get high on the weather... I pictured a girl who made every moment, everything she touched, and everyone around her feel lighter and sweeter. I pictured you."
"I didn't know love could leave the lights on all the time."

Monday, December 30, 2013

Magic Under Glass

Magic Under Glass
By: Jaclyn Dolamore
Magic Under Glass (Magic Under, #1)
Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport.
I don't have that much to say about this book other than that it was a really engaging short fantasy. It was really cool to find a good fantasy that's also compact. Fantasy (particularly high fantasy, which this sort of is) is typically longer and more detailed. But I liked this story because it was a compact fantasy with deeper aspects disguising itself in a quieter type of story.
The characters were really touching, if not overly memorable. I think it stuck to the important aspects of fantasy, light versus dark, fighting for love, but in its own distinct way.
This book also included steampunk aspects to the story which I LOVED. The whole idea of steampunk excites me, but it's not often that I find a steampunk book. In fact, going into this one I didn't even know that it was a bit steampunk. So it was this amazing surprise while I was reading.
I think the plot was handled very well in this just-over-200-page book. It managed both introspection and action, as well as plot progression and character development despite its length.
Like I said, I don't have much else to say, but that I really enjoyed this book. I'm looking forward to reading the second one quite soon to find out what happens to Nimira and Erris.
"What's the good of modern progress if you haven't any gardens."
"Sometimes before you make any plans or resolutions, before you declare your heroic intent to persevere, you just have to cry."
"It isn't the place of mere men to judge who is godless, but rather, our duty to be the world's keepers and protectors..."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Book Thief---Movie Review

The Book Thief---Movie Review

It took forever for us to find this movie because it was not released anywhere near us for about two months. But I've finally seen it! AND IT WAS SO GOOD!
Things I Loved:
-The casting was really great, especially Rudy, Hans, Liesel, and definitely MAX! The acting was emotional and overall brilliantly done. I felt like I was seeing the actual characters, the story came to life in them (which is the most important aspect of movie adaptations). The relationships between them felt like they did in the books. They evoked the same emotions from me that the book did. Possibly heightened emotion because I did know the characters from the book, but the people I was with who hadn't read it said they felt for the characters as well. I loved that they kept in the parts that made it a sort of meandering story. It still felt like a documentation of their lives rather than a plot-driven type of story, which I loved.

-They did leave out some of the more anecdotal stuff, their neighbor and her son and things of that sort. Rudy's story was also changed quite a bit. But I felt like those changes were necessary in the movie (plus it leaves some things for people now motivated to read the book to discover).

-The cinematography was gorgeous. The scenery, like Himmel Street and their city, were beautiful and quite a bit like how I imagined it. I think this story especially deserved to be a visually beautiful movie.

-I liked their focus on the twisted parts of Germany, using music and the children from school to show how messed up it all was. One scene that particularly struck me was the choir of children singing while the Jews' homes were being destroyed. It felt like what the book was trying to get across.

Things I Didn't Love:
-I know that there were reasons to leave them out, but I'm still a bit sad that they left out Max's drawings. That is a big part of who his character is, and while they used other moments to showcase that side of him, I think they could have done some gorgeous scenes with his drawings and his stories to Liesel.

-Death's voice was too cheery. It almost came off as comical and I think they could have done more with him and his deeper statements. But he didn't show up too much, so it was sort of okay.

Overall Rating: This was a fantastic book-to-movie adaptation. There were obviously some language related things that couldn't translate because the writing in The Book Thief is just that gorgeous. But I think they stayed true to the purpose and feel of the book. 4.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars
By: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Wow. Oh wow. What a ride in this book! I've heard nothing but rave reviews of this book since the ARCs first started coming out. Now I get why! The characters are delightful, the world was interesting, and the writing was really great.
Let's talk about the characters first:
Lilac: I loved her. Her story arc was terrific and her development, both mentally and behaviorally was through the roof (which I love to see, especially for characters that only get one book from their perspective). I loved that her strength was something other than physical power or even brain power (although she had fair amounts of both by the end). Her power was in turning tables, dissecting conversations. Her power lay in very social situation; she could read people. So it was interesting seeing her thrust so thoroughly outside of the world she was used to, but then seeing her use her strengths from that world throughout her development.
"If my father were here...He'd tell me to find the power in this situation and get it back."
I also appreciate that despite her slightly vapid behavior and her shallow beginning, she truly is good a the core of her. It was just letting that part of her show that was the issue.
Tarver: I really liked him. I think his character was well developed. He was exactly what this story needed, moral, hard-working, and a bit too sure of himself sometimes. I think all of his flaws perfectly contrasted his attributes. That being said, sometimes I felt like something was missing when reading his chapters. I'm not sure what it is, so I don't know if that still counts as a viable critique, but I did feel something missing. But I did enjoy his character. I especially loved his and Lilac's bantering and it was cool how it kept them motivated in the beginning. I loved all of his comebacks.
“Major, to what extent did you act upon your feelings for Miss LaRoux?"
"Excuse me?"
WOAH. As wonderful as the characters were, I think the plot is where this book really shone for me. It was engaging, enthralling and it kept you guessing. It was very well-thought out and very, very well-written. Along with the plot of the story, the pacing matched the plot fantastically. It wasn't too quick, leaving time for the proper character development, but it wasn't slow either. There were rises and falls before the ultimate climax.
The tone of this book was also one of its strongest points. It was so clearly sci-fi, in the best possible way. I feel like sometimes sci-fi tries to hide behind other things, like it's afraid to be so openly science fiction. But this book didn't feel ashamed of all of its science-fiction (it's a word if I say it's a word) goodness. The scale of the adventure managed to work its way into epic territory, while the relational aspect remained intimate. It felt like both a large story and a quaint one simultaneously, which makes for a very good mix.
"You don't mention death when it's hovering near someone you love. You don't want to attract the reaper's attention."
"I nearly killed it when I fell of the roof and landed in the middle of it, but it was tougher than it looked. Kind of like another Lilac I know."
“And there it is, against all hope, like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. The smallest hint of a smile.”  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dying to Know You

Dying to Know You
By: Aidan Chambers
Dying to Know You
Karl, aged seventeen, is hopelessly in love. But the object of his affections, Firella, demands proof, and poses him a series of questions regarding his attitude to the many sides of love. But Karl is dyslexic, and convinced that if Firella finds out, she will think he is stupid, and unworthy of her, and leave him. So Karl asks a local writer to help him construct his replies - and an unlikely, but extremely touching, friendship develops between the two men. They both come to learn a great deal about about life from a very different perspective, and when an act of violence shatters their calm, they find their respective appraisal of life shifting in profound ways.
A heart-warming read that is solely relationship based, something that, when done correctly, can be truly touching. That is exactly what this book was. Refreshing and new, but in a quiet sort of way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Since this was a character and relationship based story, there wasn't all that much plot to speak of, namely that Karl meets the author. I loved the author's understanding of Karl, based on his younger self as it was. (And in a strange way, I really love that the author is never given a name.)
The most intriguing thing about this Young Adult book is that it is not told from the perspective of a young adult, not even close. The narrator is a seventy-something year old man with no children. So how can this be Young Adult, you ask? Well, the main character is a young adult. This is not the narrator's story, but Karl's. That was such an interesting concept and something that you do not encounter all that often, but it worked really well for this story. It was a coming of age story from the perspective of someone long come of age. It was someone who already went through that confusing time observing and describing someone else go through that time. For some reason, in this book it felt like that sideways go at the topic of youth made it hit its point even stronger.
Part of that is due to the fact that the difference between the struggles of the old and the struggles of the young stood in stark relief. The young are trying to find out who they are and what they want to do for the first time; the old know who they've always been and it wears at them that they can't go back and change things.
The relationships in this book felt genuine. It was true-to-life in its portrayal of the true kindness and the true ignorance that both exist in the world. The characters alone were also very realistic. I understood their motives, their emotions, their struggles. For example, I don't like Fiorella, but I get her character. I have known people much like her. She was a character that I had seen and thus, her motives made sense to me. I love how her emails showed just how desperately she wanted to be a great writer (too desperate) with the misunderstanding of big words.
Dialogue was a huge part of this book. Aidan Chambers showed himself to be a master of conversation. The words they said felt like what they should be saying, even when they weren't saying what needed to be said. By that I mean that their language corresponded to their individual character.

I loved the dialogue near the end about what art means and how hard some people who don't understand it try to destroy it. It was bittersweet, yet hopeful.

This book contains a quiet story. It isn't boisterous or exaggerated. It doesn't shout at you. But it does whisper important things, things that could help you in your own life, lessons that all the young must learn. That is what made it so beautiful.


“However much you love somebody, you should always keep a part of yourself to yourself. Never give it all. You can never be yourself otherwise.”

“And trust dies from ifs and buts”

“Rooms are a fixed size, which can't be altered without pulling down walls and building new ones. They should be unchanging in shape and proportions. But sometimes they do change depending on who's in them."

“Life is not like a novel, but a novel can be like life. The best ones always are.”

“For one thing, the dickheads never manage to smash everything. And for another thing, if you, and the people like you, the true artists, keep on making, the philistines can’t smash up everything. There may be fewer of you. Of us. But we win in the end.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
By: Mindy Kaling
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
One thing that you should know about me is that I love The Office. The humor is always brilliant and the characters are weird, but loveable. As it is Christmas season, I've begun indulging one of my personal Christmas traditions. That tradition would be watching all eight Christmas episodes of The Office on repeat. I can't explain it, but they get me in the Christmas spirit like no other.
For this reason, I decided it was a great time to pick up Mindy Kaling's book. (If you don't know, Mindy Kaling is a writer on the show as well as playing Kelly Kapoor). I knew that to be a writer on this particular show she must be hilarious in her own right.
Basically, I was correct.
It was the kind of funny that works really well in books like this. You know, books that tell stories from the person's life, not necessarily in chronological order. It told about her childhood and her college years, her time in New York looking for an in into the industry, and eventually it told about her time in LA working on The Office. I really enjoyed all the stories she told. She had a way of including enough detail to give you a good laugh, but not so much as to make the stories boring.
I also particularly loved the sections where she wasn't exactly a story, it was more like she was giving an opinion about life in general (like how men look best, why she loves karaoke, and other random tidbits).
I don't have much else to say other than that this was a charming and genuinely funny read. If you like The Office or funny books of any kind, I'd recommend this one.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings
By: J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)

In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power - the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord's evil dominion.

Okay, I know I haven't added a review in a while, but now that you see what I've been reading, it makes sense. Right? I've wanted to read these for the longest time, but we have the bind-up version of all three and it's HUGE. and INTIMIDATING. and also SCARY. Yeah, so I put it off over and over again.
But for a high-fantasy buff like myself, it was an inevitability. But 2013 was the year, the year I finally did it (and in about 10 days, too). I FREAKING LOVED IT.
I think that this is the kind of book that, if you love it, you REALLY love it. It's like Harry Potter, it's above reproach and reduces you to blabbering on about honor and heroism and sacrificial acts of courage. You know, the beautiful things that seem to exist on a different plane when they are present in fantasy.
I could discuss those sort of obscure topics for ages, but now I'll try to hone the discussion down to just talking about these books.
Basically, I don't know how to even talk about these books. They were beyond anything that I was expecting. This truly is high fantasy at it's best. It sets the standard. I think it's fair to say that in our culture, it IS the standard. And it has earned that title with every page, every word.
If you love fantasy, DO NOT PUT THIS OFF. Read it now. You will not be sorry.
Let me list the reasons:
1. It's organic. It's not forced. J.R.R. Tolkien almost seems to play the role of historian rather than writer, in the best way. Honestly, Middle Earth seems like a world to its own, like it could actually exist in an alternate universe.
2. The sheer scale of the world is off the charts. There is so much history in the world that you know exists, but that is just hinted at. You don't have to know everything, but you feel like there is so much knowledge there to learn about the world.
So many bromances, man. Legolas and Gimli. Sam and Frodo. Pippin and Merry. Gandalf and Aragorn.
I loved them all. They were really sweet and genuine. They made the characters seem real because they had little jokes with each other and everything. They were just beautifully written relationships.
4. The Characters
I loved and hated each as I was meant to. They were strong, unique, interesting, and heroic in turn. It would take an incredibly long time to go through each every character and say what I liked about them, but I'll discuss a few of them.
Pippin: It would be nearly impossible to quantify a favorite character. But Pippin is pretty high up there for me. He's hilarious and downright adorable (not to mention freaking awesome). I just love him, okay?
Frodo: Just what the hero of a tale this grand should be, compassionate, clever, and determined.
Sam: Adorable! He made me sad and he made me laugh in equal measure. His loyalty to Frodo was easily his greatest quality and one that I love in a character as it isn't displayed this honestly all that often..
Gandalf: LOVE. Such a great character, truly understood wisdom is seen displayed in Gandalf quite clearly. He also got around 60% of the epic moments all to himself. He deserved them, too.
Eowyn: YES! Beautifully written and such a touching subplot. I loved every bit of her story. I was crying and cheering at her big scene, you know the one I'm talking about. ("But I am no living man").
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli: It was so great reading about them, too. I loved all who were in the fellowship.
5. The Epic-ness
As to be expected of a phenomenon fantasy that is 1,000 pages long, it was quite the epic tale. Quests and magic, Royal bloodlines and mythical races. All of it fantastic. All of it glorious.
I know that my pitiful words can't possibly sum up the absolutely brilliant piece of work that is The Lord of the Rings. But I hope I've done a fair job.

And now, with glee in my heart and complete and utter excitement, I am going to watch ALL THE MOVIES (probably extended editions, too). *grabs popcorn* *scurries off to watch eleven hours of footage*


"And he who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom."

"The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came..."

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps greater."

"Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?"
"A man may do both,"

"For it is easier to shout stop! that to do it."

"Often hatred does hurt itself!"

"The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Fold seem to have been just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on - and not all to a good end, mind you' at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, finding things right, though not quite the same...But those aren't the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?"
"I wonder," said Frodo. "But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to."

"But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place."

"Follow what may, great deeds are not lessened in worth..."

"There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?"


Monday, December 2, 2013

City of Bones

City of Bones
By: Cassandra Clare
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
This book begins when fifteen-year-old Clary Fray first meets the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know... 

Let me start this review by saying, I have been putting this book off for ages. That's why I was sure I had heard a chorus of, "Wait, you haven't read this yet?" the entire time I was reading it. But yes, I was procrastinating big time. Because I'd heard some pretty mixed things about the series and the characters, so I just didn't read it (I wouldn't say I actively avoided it, more like I had so many other things to read that I purposefully didn't give it a second thought). But now, having read it, I can say that I really quite liked it. So that's good, yeah?

---Let's get one more thing out of the way. I adored The Infernal Devices (which I read first because I typically enjoy historical fiction better than things set today). I promise not to compare (too much). But I'd just like to mention that City of Bones didn't quite grab me like Clockwork Angel did, but that it was still a great read.---

Clary: She's a good character, I think. I didn't mind being insider her head, even enjoyed it. She's funny and caring, if sometimes a bit too naïve. I think she has a lot of potential for character growth so I hope that's utilized in the coming books (which I will be reading and probably soon).
Jace: Okay. I have opinions about him. He's a well-written character, complex, characterized thoroughly. My problem is that he's a love interest at all (**not because of the 'plot twist.' I've been spoiled so I know it's not true.**). Just because he's so rude all the time. I don't think his small kind comments make up for the arrogance and the harsh words. I feel like he sandwiched every tiny compliment between fifty rude comments. I don't think it makes sense for Clary or for Jace's previous characterization. But beyond the romance, yeah, I think he's a well-developed character, at least so far.
Simon: I LOVE him. He's hilarious and dorky, which is always a win. I really like his and Clary's friendship. I want more of his sass. One of my favorite comments by him was,

"Filters are for cigarettes and coffee."

As soon as I read it I said out loud, "Well that's something I'll be saying more often."
Isabelle: I don't think we saw enough of her for me to say anything beyond that I like her character. I'm interested in seeing her and Clary's friendship develop, too (assuming that it does).

The beginning was a bit slow, but as soon as the action toward the end hit I did not want to put the book down. The action was engaging and engrossing. The climax was interesting and didn't disappoint on plot twists.
But, having read this now I can see why people say that Clare recycles plots. This book wasn't as different from The Infernal Devices as I would have hoped. The only difference was that this one wasn't as appealing to me personally.

Overall Feeling:
I did enjoy this book. It's a fun and intense ride with well-conceived characters (for the most part). Some aspects were kind of meh for me (like the love triangle-ish things). But I get why this series is a hit, it's action-packed, witty, and immersive.


"There is nothing...quite like the moral absolutism of the young. It's easy as a child to believe in good and evil, in light and dark."

"Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow. Royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants...and it's no picnic being different."

"They say pity is a bitter thing, but it's better than hate."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cold Spell

Cold Spell
By: Jackson Pearce

Cold Spell (Fairytale Retellings, #4)
Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together. But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough. If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?
This series is brilliant. I love how each new book expands on the concepts found in each book. With each new story you see another step into the process of the fenris. As well as meeting new characters (main and supporting) who have real backstories.

I loved Ginny and Kai. Jackson Pearce kept up her pattern of writing realistic, well-developed lead female characters. Ginny definitely matches all those qualifications. I love that this book wasn't Ginny and Kai's love story, it was Ginny's self-discovery story. Not often do you read a book about a girl who falls out of dependent love. I also love that she didn't feel like she had to break up with him, she could love him and still become less dependent on their relationship. I also loved Kai for supporting her independence.
The supporting characters also really shined in this book. I loved Lucas and Ella. It was really cool seeing a Reynolds guy who wasn't the love interest. I thought their relationship was really well-written and I loved how they sort of adopted all the others who had lost their families (Ginny, Kai, Flannery, Callum). I wouldn't mind seeing all these characters interact for another whole book. This quote made me smile, quite a bit.

"Ella and I are a family. And we decided, now that we've tracked the Snow Queen, made breakfast, and essentially committed a murder together, that you're family, too. Family sticks together."

Flannery was awesome, as well. Her dynamic with Callum was really great, too. I love that he understood her desire to be unmarried even though they loved each other.

Mora: What an interesting character. I love that in this world, all the villains (except for the Fenris, of course) are always sort of ambiguous. I mean, all of them are given pasts and personalities, they are given reason. It's hard not to empathize with a character when you are in their head, so the reader had a special connection to Mora.

The Plot:
Action-packed as the books in this series always are, but with plenty of time for the building of relationships and the thoughtful, introspective moments. I love how this was sort of a road trip book, but with a definite twist.

Speaking of the fairy-tales, I've loved The Snow Queen story for a while now (since I read Winter's Child by Cameron Dokey, which is a vastly different take on the story, but still quite good). So I was really excited when I heard that the fourth book of this series was going to be based on that story. If you want read my review of Winter's Child, you can click here.

The World-Building (The Connections):
I cannot state enough how awesome this series is in terms of world-building. I love how the scope broadens with every book, yet some patterns are the same. There is at least one Reynolds in each book, there are always Fenris, there is always a twist to the fairy-tale. This makes you connect with each book from the start, even when the characters are unfamiliar.


"I feel as if someone has pulled out an organ. One of those that doesn't seem essential, to the layman---not my heart or my lungs, but rather my pancreas, or my spleen, or my gallbladder. Something that doesn't seem as if it should matter so much, until it's gone and your body can't figure out how to operate and your heart won't stop beating and just give up already."

"Huge difference," she says. "People who don't do anything annoy me. People who don't do anything yet excite me, because they can potentially do everything."

"Nothing happens because of 'just.'"

"So what happens if you don't get him back? You're a paper doll for the rest of your life?"
"I used to think so," I say. "Part of me still thinks so. I never pictured a version of my life without him."

"But I don't love him just because he loved me back, so I can't hate him just because he's stopped."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Brightly Woven

Brightly Woven
By: Alexandra Bracken
Brightly Woven
Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
I really enjoyed this book. It's interesting to read a fantasy stand-alone (usually there just isn't enough time to fully flesh out the world), but this book did that really well. It had a lot of typical fantasy aspects, but in a really interesting way.
Things I liked:
-I loved Sydelle. She's smart and independent. She acted as a heroine, rather than just reacting. I loved her dynamic with North as well. She didn't let him get away with stuff, she called him on his attitude in a way that helped him grow.
-I loved North. He was confusing at times and pretty frustrating, but you always knew that he meant well. As I said, I loved his and Syd's dynamic. I particularly love that he was given a very decisive arc in this story, he's not some perfect hero. He had to grow up a bit in this book, which he did admirably with Syd's help.
-I thought the political aspect was very well done. Things happened quickly in the political aspect, but the alliances and the possibility of war as described made sense in the context of the world.
-A well-written villain. I thought that Dorwan was going to be left as this sort of faceless threat until the end, but I liked that we learned his story. Then he delivered lines like this that made me realize how well his motive was thought out.
"You talk of curses as if they're some sort of rarity. They aren't. Everyone is cursed, from the farmer with the pain in his back to the girl who can destroy worlds," Dorwan said. "And do you know how you destroy a curse, Sydelle? You become one. You consume your fear and become it. You plague everyone and everything that dares to hurt you or stand in your way."
-I loved the immersive quality of the world. It took we a lot longer to read this book than it usually takes me, but I think that probably has more to do with NaNoWriMo and all the time that's taking out of my schedule. When I did pick up the book, I didn't really want to put it down.
Things I Disliked:
-At the beginning the writing was extremely confusing. It felt like whole sentences were missing. By this I mean that it wouldn't mention anything about rain and then a suddenly it'll say something like, "It stopped raining."
-Even toward the end the writing was sort of choppy in a way that I wasn't  fond of. It didn't flow the way I typically like the fantasy books I read to flow.
-A couple things could have stood to be fleshed out or even just explained a bit more.


"Do you know what this wench just accused me of being?"
"A filthy pig," North said good-naturedly. "But there's only one filthy pig allowed in her life, and the position's been filled."

"The glass and petals...They're refired into new shapes and forms. It's meant to show that even if the city is set forth into ruin, it can always be built back up. We're a city of re-creators, you know. It's in our blood to start again."

"Love him," she said. "For someone who has grown up hating himself and fearing that there's nothing for him in this world but pain, there is no greater gift."

"How do you tell someone that he is a part of your past, and not of your future?"

Catching Fire---Movie Review

Catching Fire-The Movie
There are loads and loads of horrible book-to-movie adaptations (Percy Jackson & Eragon). There are hosts of just okay adaptions (The Host). There are even great adaptations (Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.) But never in my life have I seen a PERFECT book-to-movie adaptation, in fact, I was convinced such a thing did not exist...
...Until last night.
Catching Fire was EVERYTHING that it should have been and EVERYTHING that it could have been and EVERYTHING that I wanted it to be, all rolled into one emotional, heartbreaking movie.
It's unreasonable to ask movies to leave in every single detail from the book, but honestly, they managed to leave in most of the details anyway. And more vitally, all the important stuff was not just included, but highlighted, the plot-moving things and the world-building things specifically. Even most of the lines were nearly directly quoted from the books.
Now on to the emotional side of things. My cry count was a total of 4 times where I had tears streaming down my face, but I spent the entire movie in a state of 'almost-crying'. Another fact of note is that the tone and the themes of the book can be found prominently displayed in the movie. It is about corruption and political power-struggles and selflessness. It is about the destructive nature of human beings and our ability to accept even the most disgusting, violent things as normal.  For movies like this one, that could be so easily misinterpreted into something violent for the sake of violence, they stayed true to the book's brilliant purpose of using violence to sensitize us to violence (rather than desensitizing us, like most things). I think one of my favorite parts was the slow breakdown of part of both Effie's worldview because of the actions of the victors. The interviews with Caesar were perfectly executed. They managed to thwart at least some of Snow's ideology.
Now to casting. THEY COULD NOT HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB. It mattered less if a person wasn't like how I pictured the character in the book because the hearts and souls of those characters were all perfectly in place.
Jennifer Lawrence is a genius and deserves all of the awards. ALL OF THEM. NOW. She taps into Katniss' snark as well as her heartbreak. She presents the character in the way the character deserves to be presented. I particularly loved that Katniss was allowed to break down, she was allowed to cry and still be a powerful character (I'd say she was a more powerful character for that). They did a great job of showing the effects that the first Hunger Games had on her and her mental state. If she wasn't shown as having a form of PTSD then she wouldn't be the selfless heroine that we know from the books.
Josh Hutcherson is the perfect Peeta. He's good at playing the selfless hero as well as the angry tribute in a few scenes. I was especially impressed with him in the district 11 scene and his scenes in the arena and the train. Okay, so I was impressed with all his scenes. For all the doubt in him, he brings Peeta to light in a way that is truly brilliant.
Sam Claflin WAS THE ABSOLUTE PERFECT FINNICK. (For the record, I realize that I am using the word perfect a lot, but I honestly do not care one bit. It's all true.) His Finnick is spot on with how Finnick is supposed to be. His every scene with Mags was touching. And him with the Jabberjays? And him being sarcastic with Katniss? And him? Finnick is alive in him in a way I didn't anticipate, but it was wonderful.
My reaction toward Jena Malone as Johanna Mason: IMPRESSED. IMPRESSED. I AM SO IMPRESSED. She played on the anger and the bitterness that is Johanna. She made me remember why I love that character, she is cruel and cold and angry at the world, but because she has reason to be. (Yes, I'm going to use that word again,) Jena Malone is the PERFECT Johanna.
Liam Hemsworth. Okay, I don't know if it was his lines in the Hunger Games, but I was not that into his performance in the first movie. I didn't hate him in it, he just came off as a bit cheesy. But in this one? He really surprised me (a pleasant surprise). He did excellent work in this movie and I feel much better about him as Gale. Which is good because we are headed into Mockingjay where he has a MUCH bigger part.
The lady who played Mags (Lynn Cohen) did a fantastic job, even without having any lines. I just want to give her a big hug. She made me cry (or almost-cry) every time she came on the screen. Mags has always been a silent hero, someone that we should aspire to be like, and Lynn Cohen showcased her magnificently.
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. He did a great job in The Hunger Games, but in my opinion in this movie he was given better lines to show Haymitch's sentiments as well as his humor in a way that didn't detract from his humor. We see him caring about Peeta and Katniss. We see their small, pieced-together family on the tour as well as when they return for the Quarter Quell. Woody Harrelson has become Haymitch in my mind. He fully embodies what the character is supposed to be. (I'm trying not to say it again. But he's the perfect Haymitch....oops).
Donald Sutherland as President Snow. YES. Creepy, disgusting, conniving. He embodies everything that President Snow is supposed to be. I personally love all the behind-the-scenes of the games that they show in the movies that the book can't show because it is from Katniss' perspective alone. But all of the scenes that are added in are heavily implied and, I believe, necessary for the movie to show.
Philip Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. For me, he was exactly how I pictured him. But beyond just appearance, I think he did a great job of pretending to be evil and manipulative (well, you could make the argument that he really is manipulative. But either way...) I loved that if you hadn't read it, you would be held in suspense just like you were in the book.
Characters that really impressed me, but that I don't want to spread this review out for miles to go into detail for all of them.
-Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman
-Lenny Kravitz as Cinna (he added to the cry count)
-Elizabeth Banks as Effie
-Willow Shields as Prim
-Rue's Mother (she added to the cry count)
-The Morphlings

I loved how they showed the rebellions in the districts in a way that aided the climax of the story as it was supposed to. The scope of this movie is broader than the first one (just like it is in the books). We see victors and other districts and allies being made. We are being prepared for the destruction that is Mockingjay.
This movie ripped my heart out just like the book did and I am both dreading Mockingjay and am anticipating it. I hope Francis Lawrence stays on the project because he upped the game by about a billion.
If every book-to-movie adaptation was like this one, the world would  be a better place (albeit not a happier one because let's be honest, if this movie didn't kill you emotionally there is something wrong with you).

Monday, November 18, 2013

One Year.

One Year.
One Whole Year.

That's how long I've been running this blog. I have posted 111 reviews. This blog has inspired me to read more than I thought I could. I've loved summarizing my feelings about books in a way that I can go back to and reference later.
I have a history of starting projects and then getting distracted by other projects. I don't finish many things. So when I decided to start blogging book reviews, I thought, "Well, I don't know how long this will last, but I'll give it a chance." Thank goodness, I did. I think my life has improved for running this blog and I am definitely aiming toward two years now.

Most importantly, thank you to anyone who has read even one of my posts from this past year. It really means a lot to me that I can post my opinions and people read them (even if you hate me for them or strongly disagree). Basically, the internet is cool.

And I think it's a shame that I don't know any of you who read things that I write on here (if that 'you' even exists). So really, feel free to comment on any of my posts if you agree or disagree or are just plain neutral.

Thank you, all.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


By: Marie Lu
Champion (Legend, #3)
June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has.
YES. This book. I was reminded instantly why I love these books so much. They are fast-paced. Not just in action, but in also in emotion and relationships. By that I mean that things are always changing. There are no segments when the same things keep happening. Forward motion is the key to this series and part of what makes it so brilliant.
Day: Oh gosh. I've always had mixed feelings about Day, in the best way. I think he is a brilliant character and is written perfectly. That's part of why I've always had mixed feelings. He makes me happy and sad, frustrated and in awe. He's a hero and sometimes a jerk. That's just how it is. And I love that. I think it's important how well his characterization is done.
In this book especially, he really shone. For once he doesn't have his physical abilities to rely on. He had to come to terms with his slowly fading health, as did the reader. It was heartbreaking, but it truly made me sympathize with and respect him. He's just such a great character, okay?
His feelings for June always make me both happy and sad inside. They loved each other, but there was just so much crap between them. (I also loved that it wasn't necessarily "relationship drama" between them, it was their positions and roles in the Republic. It was also the fact that they were each so connected to the other's most painful loss.)
June: She's my homegirl. I love her so much. She's smart and physically capable and logical. But she is also heartfelt and genuine. I liked her in Legend. I started to love her in Prodigy. In this book she made me completely love her character. I respect her and her decisions so much. It's crazy how well she is characterized as well. Like when she went to 'talk to' Metias and the sacrifices she made (even to the little details like knowing exact seconds and minutes or exact distances).
Tess: I wish we'd seen a bit more of her, but I finally started loving her in this book. Her character arc is one of the ones in the background, but it was also really cool. I love how she and June became good friends in the end, even with the absence...(well, that's a spoiler. But if you've read it you know what I'm talking about.)
Eden: THE POOR BABY. I love him. A lot. His relationship with Day is one of the sweetest sibling relationships I have ever read.
The feel of these books is so immersive. The fast pace and the interesting dynamics of government against government keeps you grounded in the world. In Champion we definitely got to see more of the emotional side, I think. In the other books emotional issues were presented, but they all came to a head in this book in particular. I love the sort of odd mix of action and emotion that I have only as distinctively in these books.

Marie Lu is a master. Her voice is perfect for the world she's built and the characters he uses to tell the story through. Her straight-forward tone at first makes you underestimate her, but when the story gets intense or complicated, the writing remains beautiful as well as functional. You never forget that you're in a battle scene when you're in it, but she works in other emotions into her action-writing (which I absolutely love). I also always forget how truly fantastic her just-emotional writing is. As in, I read her tensely emotional scenes and I feel it in my gut like I am supposed to. Her scenes like that stand in stark contrast to the rest of her books, too, because she doesn't drop one on you every two seconds. She makes the moments like that that she does take, and makes them matter.

And can I just discuss for one minute how this series breaks nearly EVERY DYSTOPIAN TROPE OF ALL TIME? There is no good side and bad side. The Republic isn't really the enemy, it is something they are fighting for despite it's flaws.
Isn't that how life is most of the time. You fight for a cause, not because it is flawless or inherently good, you fight for a cause because it is what the world needs most.


"Absolute power is absolute power, no matter what it's called. Isn't it?"

"I don't know why I want to stand on the hill with them now. Maybe I have a little bit of faith."

"...the boy of light and laughter and life, of grief and fury and passion, the boy whose fate is intertwined with mine..."

"I scream for everything that has gone wrong. I scream for everything broken in our lives."

"It's an odd feeling to wander these same streets as the person I am now. At once familiar and strange."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Far From You

Far From You
By: Lisa Schroeder
Far from You
Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole. Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife. But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful. Perhaps she's not so alone after all.

I decided to jump right into another book in verse. 1.) because the first one so much and 2.) because I am a bit behind on reading because of NaNoWriMo and I knew I could fly through it in a couple hours.

I will say that I really liked this one. Once I started it I wasn't sure that I would. I've read stories like this before (contemporary with blended family troubles) and while I realize why they are important to people, I've never really connected to them. But this was one that I genuinely liked. I don't know if it's because it felt like the character development happened quickly, rather than her slowly coming to the conclusion that she was wrong.

The writing was really pretty, particularly in the car bits of the story. I loved that it was more of a snapshot into their lives (I think that kind of story works best in verse). You got close to all the characters and I felt like I understood them despite the relatively short time you spend with them in the book.

I was surprised that I genuinely ended up caring about Alice and Victoria. In these types of stories I usually find myself lacking empathy for the characters, but I really wanted them to both work it out.

I don't have much else to say, but this is a quick and good read if you're interested in books told in verse.


"As if sadness
can be thrown,
like a small stone,
into a raging river
and quickly

"What I believe
is that life
is music and fabulous fall foliage,
but it's also cancer and wars."

"But in an instant,
I saw what I couldn't see,
and it was
and sad
all at the same time."

"I don't think it matters how hearts are mended, Al.
Just that they are, you know?"

"Everything's always changing.
Nothing stays the same,
Yesterday's gone forever,
I've got memories and my name.

But like Alice I grow bigger,
and I shrink back, yes, it's true.
It's the ebbs and flows of life,
it's the rabbit hole we go through."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

YallFest 2013

This past Saturday I had the chance to drive to Charleston, South Carolina for YallFest. YallFest is a huge YA Literature Festival. This year there were over 50 authors in attendance. The day is filled with panels, discussions, and signings.

But since everything is scheduled at the same time you have to prioritize between signings or panels. I was lucky to get everything done that I wanted to get done.

We got to the Music Hall at 6:30 to wait in line. The first 500 ticketed fans were let in to meet Veronica Roth and get one book signed by her. We were lucky enough to be in the first twenty.

Then we were let into the Music Hall at nine to wait for the Keynote Speech. The authors speaking during the Keynote were Veronica Roth (Divergent) and Rae Carson (The Girl of Fire and Thorns).

They discussed the power dynamics between girl and boy characters in YA literature. It was a really interesting discussion. They talked about the power balance between Tris and Four as well as Hector and Elisa.
Then we got moved upstairs to the Veronica signing. Then I met VERONICA FREAKING ROTH AND IT WAS AMAZING.
She signed my copy of Allegiant and said it was awesome to meet me. Needless to say, I was Fangirling. As one of my favorite authors (and one of the ones that most inspires me to write) it was so fantastic to meet her.
Then we were late for any 11 o'clock panel. So we got in line to get Marie Lu's signature. The line was humongous though! It wrapped around a block and a half of the street and went around two corners. We then realized that she wasn't going to be able to get to all of us. So we headed to the Taherah Mafi (Shatter Me) and Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children) Coffee Talk. (The Coffee Talks were basically two authors discussing their books and giving anecdotes.)
This was one of my favorites that I went to all day. They told funny stories about their books or their lives. They were the absolutely adorable couple that I was expecting as well.
Then we went to a Fantasy and Sci-Fi panel with Victoria Schwab moderating (The Archived), Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), and Marie Lu (Prodigy). They discussed what it is like to write fantasy and sci-fi (with a focus on world-building).
Victoria Schwab

Marie Lu

Leigh Bardugo

Then my kind mother decided she was done with panels and agreed to go wait in line for me. She stood in the Rainbow Rowell line (which was HUGE) while I went to a Coffee Talk with Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss) and Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl). They talked about why they write "nice" characters and why they avoid writing bad boys (because Levi and Etienne wouldn't be nearly as awesome if they were "bad boys"). They also talked about how writing can be therapeutic and can allow writers to work through events in their lives in a healthy way. This was my favorite panel I attended all day. They were funny and serious in equal measures. They gave good advice and were really honest and open.
Then I went to a panel about the craft and business of writing YA and Middle Grade. They discussed the bias against books for a younger audience and how unfair that judgment really is. It was really cool hearing them giving advice for aspiring authors who do want to write solely YA. I loved when they said that finding the voice for YA or Middle Grade can be just as difficult if not more difficult than finding the voice for literary fiction for adults. They also discussed how people find themselves thinking that teenage readers are less discerning, but that they actually can call crap like it's their job. They know when something is inauthentic or forced.
After that panel I had the chance to jump into the line where my mom was waiting with my books to meet Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park). Then she signed my copies of Eleanor and Park as well as Fangirl. When I told her that Fangirl was one of my favorite books I have read so far this year she gave me a Fangirl button. (AND SHE TOLD ME SHE LIKED MY DRESS AND THAT WAS COOL. I don't think I'll ever get rid of it now. Ever.)
Then Marie Lu was kind enough to offer a second signing for all those who didn't make it to the front of her first line. We were about fourth in line because we got there early. We got in to meet her really quickly and she signed my copies of Legend, Prodigy, and Champion.
Then we ate a small snack in between our last signing and the Smackdown. We saw Tiger Beat perform, which is a band made up of authors. It includes Libba Bray (The Diviners ) as lead singer and she ROCKS HARDCORE! After that there were improvisational games for all the authors to participate in and it was pretty dang hilarious.
Overall it was a fantastic day. I just loved being around so many different bookish people from around the country. I loved connecting with strangers over the books that we'd all read and loved. It was awesome seeing the authors being their own kind of geeky selves. (I mean, how many people can say they've seen Veronica Roth jamming out to a song? Her dancing is adorable, by the way).
I'm really hoping I'll be able to go next year, too.