Saturday, March 30, 2013

When We Wake

When We Wake
by: Karen Healey
When We Wake (When We Wake, #1)

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027--she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies--and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

This was a pretty good book. I wasn't expecting it to be as focused on religion and politics as it was, but I ended up really liking those aspects of it. I think a lot of the things were well done, if only a little forced. This was a nice, quick read that had some really good aspects to it. Nothing overwhelmingly great but nothing underwhelming either and it kept you interested and reading.
1. Smart and Brave Heroine: CHECK
I liked Tegan, she seemed pretty cool and stuff. She wasn't the most revolutionary female protagonist I've ever encountered and she wasn't anything particularly spectacular. She was well-written and decently developed as a character. However, I didn't feel a particular connection to her as I have to other main characters.
2. Intelligent and Brave Hero: CHECK
Abdi was pretty awesome too. Again, he wasn't anything new or particularly interesting, but he was a good character and a genuinely good guy. The romance aspect in this book was pretty great. I like that it didn't happen at once (as in, it wasn't even addressed until nearly the end) and it felt natural when it was discussed. You were rooting for them because the were good for each other which was nice.
3. Extraordinary Side Character: CHECK
And once again, the side characters were pretty good. I liked them or I disliked them as I was supposed to and they all served their purpose in the story. But just like with Tegan and Abdi, they weren't necessarily anything new or different. In fact, occasionally certain aspects about them felt forced and inauthentic. But other than that they were decently well-written and certainly interesting.
4. Original Setting and Unique Plot: CHECK
I loved the concept of a book about a girl from our future pushed into the even more distant future. I thought the details about 2128 were incredible! Karen Healey did a great job explaining that distant future and building up that future world. One small problem I had was with the details about 2027 because it seemed like our technology hadn't progressed any in those 15 years, which, based on how much technological progress we've made in the last 15 years (cell phones, expanding the internet, tablets, etc.) doesn't seem realistic. But I was able to overlook that by being completely sold on the year of 2128 she described. (Although a lot of the environmental problems felt sort of forced...)
5. Plot Twists and Page Turners: NOPE
This book kept me reading, but there was not a bit of surprise or anything. Nothing completely shocked me. A pleasant surprise was when we realized half-way through that she wasn't writing her story in a diary, but instead was broadcasting it in a 'cast. And I loved seeing how the two timelines slowly worked their way toward each other and eventually met up.
"It's easier if you treat the past like another country. You can tell yourself you've moved, and it's just been a while since anyone got in touch."
"Music is risk."

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Host--Movie Review.

The Host--Movie Review
Let's start out with the obvious, books are better than their movie counterparts 99.9% of the time. And this movie wasn't the exception to that. In the transition from a six-hundred page book this story lost some of its most important parts, the character development. That being said, this movie wasn't as horrible as I was afraid it would be. It was like they were telling the correct story just not quite in the best way.
Things I liked:
1. Saoirse Ronan
They did a brilliant job casting Melanie/Wanda. I think Saoirse did a great job portraying Wanda, both her soft-spoken, introspective side and her more forceful side. She made it believable.
2. The Sets
They totally nailed the locations. The desert looked incredible as did the cities and the stores and basically everywhere they went. I was also pleasantly surprised by the cave, it was very close to how it was described.
3. The Souls' Portrayal
They did a pretty good job showing the nature of the souls, that they weren't completely evil or vindictive. They weren't intending to destroy everything, it was what they had to do to survive. They did a good job of using tiny things to show that. Also I really like how the Souls looked.
4. Jamie
The little boy they cast to play Jamie did an really great job and he was SO adorable, just like I pictured him in the book. And his character was true to his motivation in the book. He learned to care for Wanda just like he cared for Melanie.
5. Uncle Jeb
He didn't get that much screen-time, but what we did see of Uncle Jeb was very close to his character from the book. He was crazy and a genius at the same time and I loved it.
Things I didn't like:
1. Lack of Character Development and Motive
 Ian: A. Ian never tried to kill her in the book, and it annoyed me that he tried to in the movie.
        B. His love for Wanda came out of nowhere in the movie, he just looked up at her in the field and was like, "hmmm, I'm going to change the way I've looked at these aliens for my entire life and fall in love with that girl." But in the book it is a much slower process, he got to know her and saw how good and peaceful and kind she really was.
        C. I just love Ian from the book so much, and for me movie-Ian just wasn't the same character and it made me sad.
Kyle: He was barely mentioned besides the fact that he just chose to try to kill Wanda randomly. In the book he had a reason to be so prejudiced against her, not so much in the movie.
Jared: It's a tiny detail, but it annoyed me that he guarded Wanda at first, because he was supposed to absolutely hate her at that point. Why should he feel like protecting the alien who took over Melanie's body when he still thought of her as a spy? exactly, he wouldn't have.
For me the motivations for the characters just felt way off. Like when Wanda ran away from the Seeker, in this movie it made it seem more like Melanie was forcing her to run away. But in the book it was a more of a mutual thing that Wanda wanted to protect Jared and Jamie too.
2. The Voice Over
I know that there was really no better way to do Melanie being inside Wanda's head, but the voice-over felt cheesy 80% of the time for me. It couldn't have been helped, but I wish they had thought of another possible way to do it.
Final Rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
by: Catherynne M. Valente
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2)
September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.
Another stunning fantasy that had all of the magic and whimsy from the first book and more. I did miss Ell and Saturday (as in, their not-shadow-versions) but the whole shadow aspect was really great. (I also want to point out the fantastic detail on the cover. I didn't realize this until I had finished the book, but the two shadows on the front are Halloween and Maud, September is wearing the red coat and drinking the tea, and even Gleam is there in the background!)
Things I loved:
1. September Growing a Heart
As we know from the first book, September was heartless, as all children are. But in this book she has grown the beginning of a heart. I loved that you could tell that too. You could tell that she's grown up since the last book; she's older and more used to adventure. I can see all of the character development that she's gone through. She is becoming the heroine that she has always wanted to be.
2. Halloween, The Hallow Queen
Otherwise known as September's shadow. The whole idea of shadows being like the real versions, with the same experiences, but also very different. They often reacted differently than their counterparts  because they were so used to being overlooked. September said many times that she would not have made the choices that Halloween made. And that Halloween is September if she had never learned that you cannot have everything; that sometimes you have to choose between things you love equally well just to keep the world from falling apart. But in the end I felt sorry for Halloween, because she wasn't truly a villain. She was just a little girl's shadow who was lonely and hurting.
3. The Side Characters
All of the people that September meets in Fairyland-Below are just as wacky and interesting as the people she met in Fairyland-Above. Including the Jarlhopp, Belinda Cabbage, and the Glashtyn. Once again, the people she met added whimsy and wackiness to the world.
3. The Cream and Sugar Wars.
Sure, these were only mentioned once, but oh my goodness, I loved the history lesson they gave about the coffees and the teas. It just made me laugh. I really liked all of the things that happened in the Duke of Teatime's and the Vicereine of Coffee's cottage. Including September deciding to be a Baron and the Duke and Vicereine choosing which beverage was best for her. It was just a lovely thing to read.
4. Wit and Study
Just like with the Jeweled Key in the first book, as soon as I forgot about Wit and Study they came popping back up into the story. And I absolutely love that. Then they returned into the story at just the right time to help September out.
5. Physicks and Physickists
Whether it was Quiet Physicks, Queer Physicks, or Questing Physicks I thought it was wonderful and fascinating and beautiful. It gave insight to how the world of Fairyland works. Catherynne M. Valente does a fantastic job at world building. You can tell that she spent a whole lot of time thinking about the things she put into this book.
6. The Quirky Humor
The humor in this book is such that if you're not paying careful attention, you can easily miss it. Just a quick comment here or a word there were all it took to set me laughing. My favorite type of humor in these books though is the lists. For example, the list below:
"Common imports: rice, lodestones, rain, spare engines, unwanted children, spring maidens, heroes with something to prove, ghosts, and shadows. Common exports: magic, tea, coffee, and pomegranates."
The great thing about this is that it only gets funnier and funnier as you look at each item on the list and think about what it means that Fairyland is importing and exporting these things.
7. The Narrator
Just as in the first book, this book had a wonderful and charming narrator. I'll just give you a really quick example,
"I shall tell you, for we are becoming good friends, you and I, and friends may tell each other things."
8. The Tiny Details
You know, the things like that they squidholes instead of wormholes or that they went fishing for their rulers from Fairyland-Below.
9. Maud and Marquess Parallels
I found it beautiful and fascinating how many parallels there were between September's dialogue with the Marquess in the first book and her dialogue with Maud in this book. Because The Marquess wasn't being kind or genuine or friendly when she offered September things, but Maud was. Maud was everything the Marquess claimed to be that she had pushed down into the deepest part of her. And that was so interesting to read.
9. Aubergine
I love that dodos still exist in Fairyland and that they have their own island. Aubergine was especially adorable and stuff. I like that she wanted to be a physickist and that she stuck by September even when she didn't have to.

10. Fairytale Awareness
I love that these books are so wonderfully aware that they are fairytales. And they are more than just aware of it; they expound upon the whole idea of fairytales. The only other way to explain this is to give you an example of what I'm talking about.

"She knew very well what became of Princesses, as Princesses often get books written about them. Either terrible things happened to them, such as kidnappings and curses and pricking fingers and getting poisoned and locked up in towers, or else they just waited around till the Prince finished his story and got around to marrying her. Either way, September wanted nothing to do with Princessing."
"For though, as we have said, all children are heartless, this is not precisely true of teenagers. Teenage hearts are raw and new, fast and fierce, and they do not know their own strength. Neither do they know reason or restraint, and if you want to know the truth, a goodly number of grown-up hearts never learn it."
"For having a heart leads to the peculiar griefs of the grown."
"Most folk have three faces--the face they get when they're children, the face they own when they're grown, and the face they've earned when they're old...You get the face you build your whole life, with work and loving and grieving and laughing and frowning."
"Hearts set about finding other hearts the moment they are born, and between them, they weave nets so frightfully strong and tight that you end up bound forever in hopeless knots, even to the shadow of a beast you knew and loved long ago."
"Shadows are where magic comes from. Your dark and dancing self, slipping behind and ahead and around, never quite looking at the sun...The body does the living; the shadow does the dreaming."
"She did not know that sometimes people keep parts of themselves hidden and secret, sometimes wicked and unkind parts, but often brave or wild or colorful parts, cunning or powerful or even marvelous, beautiful parts, just locked up away at the bottom of their hearts. They do this because they are afraid of the world and of being stared at, or relied upon to do feats of bravery or boldness."
"Hearts are idiots. They're big and squishy and full of daft dreams. They flounce off to write poetry and moon at folk who aren't worth the mooning. Bones are the ones that have to make the journey, fight the monster, kneel before whomever is big on kneeling these days. Bones do the work for the heart's grand plans. Bones know what you need. Hearts only know what you want."
"It is so soon for you to lose your friends to good work and strange loves and high ambitions. The sadness of that is too grown-up for you. Like whiskey and voting, it is a dangerous and heady business, as heavy as years. If I could keep your little tribe together forever, I would. I do so want to be generous. But some stories sprout bright vines that tendril off beyond our sight, carrying the folk we love best with them, and if I knew how to accept that with grace, I would share the secret."
"First Law of Heroics....Someone has to tell you it's impossible, or the Quest can't go on."
"A book is a door, you know. Always and forever. A book is a door into another place and another heart and another world."
"September suspected that destinies, which is how she thought of professions, simply landed upon you like a crown, and ever after no one questioned or fretted over it, being sure of one's own use in the world. It was only that somehow her crown had not yet appeared. She did hope it would hurry up."
"Patience is always the last ingredient in any spell, the last part in any machine..."
"For there are two kinds of forgiveness in the world: the one you practice because everything really is all right, and what went before is mended. The other kind of forgiveness you practice because someone needs desperately to be forgiven, or because you need just as badly to forgive them..."
"If she was to fight, the hard, strange, new part of her meant to win."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park
Eleanor & Park

It's 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love--and just how hard it pulled you under.
I have decided recently that I want to start trying other formats for review depending on what I think the book needs. So this is another book where I will just be listing the things that I loved about it. I will go back to the old format for most books, but for now I'm going to experiment with other formats.
Things I loved about Eleanor & Park.
1. Eleanor
Something that I thought was really well done in this book was Eleanor's journey from not quite trusting anyone to her letting people in. Not just letting Park in to her life and her problems, but also Beebi and Denice. I mean that she let herself open up, if only a little. I also love that she wasn't the typical YA girl who has it all together and who always tries to be pleasant. Eleanor got angry and confused and scared and taciturn and she mostly took it out on the wrong people,  but I understood her more as a character because of that. However, goodness, she was frustrating a lot of the time (especially toward the end of the book). But that didn't make me stop liking her as a character, it just made me want to jump into the book and make her send a letter to Park (but in the end I accepted the actual ending).
2. & Park
Park was really awesome. I loved how he was just trying to be himself and how he realized that Eleanor saw him for who he was. He loved his punk music and his comic books and he knew how to roundhouse kick someone in the face, but he was also sweet and layered. I really liked how complex his character was. He knew how much he thought of what other people thought of him was bad, but what he didn't know is that Eleanor worried about what people thought of her too. He didn't know that almost all teenagers do.
3. All the Small Details
Rainbow Rowell included so many small and basically insignificant details into this book, but when the book came to a close, the small details stuck in your mind. One of my favorite details was when Park was showing Eleanor a song and he interpreted the lyrics "I am the son, I am the heir" and Eleanor, instead, heard "I am the sun, I am the air." I thought that even that tiny detail was really beautiful and special.
4. The Inevitability of the Ending
Because Rainbow Rowell decided to start this book with Park's perspective after Eleanor you go through this book knowing that there IS an "after Eleanor." You know that somehow it isn't going to work out and somewhere along the line things will go wrong. And yet you find yourself hoping against hope that things continue to go right, that they won't have to say goodbye to each other. But you also feel the ending creeping up on you. You know that this book and their relationship could never end in anything other than heartbreak and separation.
5. More than just Romance
I loved that this book hit on themes more than just a cute romance. It is about feeling different or being an outcast. It is about friendship. It is about abuse. It is about relationships. It is about being young and falling in love, even if it can't and won't last. It was, at some level, about not judging someone until you let yourself get to know them because they might be just who you need.

6. Park's Mom and Dad
The characters in this book were all well-developed and deeply flawed characters. But they were always genuine. They felt like real people that you could root for or dislike. My favorite side characters were Park's mom and dad. They were truly nice people, and they had their issues with being a bit judgmental and everything, but when it came down to it they wanted to help Eleanor.
Things (or really, thing) I didn't like about Eleanor & Park.
1. Language
This book had quite a bit of bad language. Granted the scenes with her step-dad's freak outs wouldn't have felt as real without a bit of language, but there was an awful lot.
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive."
"He kept making her feel like it was safe to smile.”
"As soon as he said it, she broke into a smile. And when Eleanor smiled, something broke inside him. Something always did."
"Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something."
"He got why Eleanor tried so hard to look different. Sort of. It was because she was different--because she wasn't afraid to be. (Or maybe she was just more afraid of being like everyone else.)
"There was something really exciting about that. He liked being near that, that kind of brave and crazy."

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Demigod Diaries

The Demigod Diaries
by: Rick Riordan
The Demigod Diaries
What dangers do runaway demigods Luke and Thalia face on their way to Camp Half-Blood? Are Percy and Annabeth up to the task of rescuing stolen goods from a fire-breathing giant who doesn't take kindly to intruders? How exactly are Leo, Piper, and Jason supposed to find a runaway table, dodge a band of party-loving Maenads (who just might be a little psychotic), and stave off a massive explosion...all in one hour or less?

This was a great collection of stories about the world of Percy Jackson. And I'm going to go through this book story by story.

The Diary of Luke Castellan
This story was the most heartbreaking of the four. As if I wasn't already sad enough about Luke's entire life, I had to go and read this. And of course, I had to love it. But more seriously, I loved learning more about Luke and Thalila's life on the road, when they were fighting monsters and barely staying alive. It was really cool learning where Annabeth's dagger really came from. This story also gave insight to Luke's feelings toward Thalia and Annabeth.

Percy Jackson and the Staff of Hermes
Adoooorable. We finally get to see Percy and Annabeth on a for real date. Well, a battle and then a date afterwards. And can I just say that Percy is the adorable boyfriend that we all knew he would be? Because he definitely is. I mean, he took her to PARIS for their one MONTH anniversary, imagine what he's going to do for their one year anniversary or every anniversary after that! Also they fought a giant in the New York Sewer system. so that was cool.

Leo Valdez and the Quest for Buford
oh Leo Valdez, how I love you. This story had every bit of Leo's awesomeness. And it told a bit more about the origins of Buford the mechanized table. It also gave a bit more information about what Leo, Piper, and Jason were doing at Camp Half-Blood between The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune. This was probably my least favorite of the stories, but it was still pretty entertaining. Although, the absolute highlight of this entire book had to be the mention of Leo freaking Valdez singing the THE PSYCH THEME SONG. Yes, yes, I know, my mind was blown too! My life is officially made.

Son of Magic
This story had a different tone from the others, because it was written by Rick Riordan's son, Haley. But I really liked it, it was well-written and it added interesting new information to the world that Rick Riordan built up in the Percy Jackson books. And better than that, the information totally made sense with everything else that we know about both monsters and the Mist. Hecate became a more real character.

Overall I really liked this addition to the Percy Jackson series.


"Whatever nightmares were in my future, I had to survive today first."

"In fact, I'd never been happier. If she saw a future for us--if she was still planning to be with me next month, then that was good enough for me."

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by: Catherynne M. Valente
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland.

Okay. So this was one of the most inspired pieces of fantasy that I have ever read. It had the classic fantasy feel, but with a very intended twist. The writing was just beautiful and the dialogue was brilliant. And it's the kind of story that leaves you smiling. As this was a bit of a different kind of book and is just too wonderful to be described in my normal review format, I'm just going to list off and explain the things that I loved.

1. September
I loved that this was a book about a book about Fairyland and adventures about a girl who had read all about similar adventures and wanted some just like it. I think it added an interesting twist to the normal fantasy dynamic. Also September was a great heroine, way better than my 12-year-old self could have been. And that was the point, she was an "irascible" heroine who wanted to be an "irascible" heroine. And she succeeded.

2. Wyverary
A-Through-L is easily the most awesome Wyverary in the world (but considering that there are only three... that's not exactly hard). In case you haven't read the book (in which case you really should ;) ) I will explain what a Wyverary is. Basically Wyvern + Library = Wyverary. And from there you might be able to guess that A-Through-L inherited the knowledge of things that begin with anything between A and L. I'm not gonna lie, I want a Wyverary of my own now (can you say best pet ever?).

3. Saturday
He may not say much, but when he does say something, he's a sweetie. And that last thing that he said in this book? Yeah, I need the next book.

4.The fact that this book used phrases like "enterprising turtles".
This one needs no explanation.

5. The Gorgeous Writing
This is honestly the kind of writing that makes you ashamed of both the way you use the english language and the way most people use the english language. Also it makes you feel like your vocabulary is the size of a two-year-old's. But it makes you feel all of that in a good way. I loved the paragraphs that made my mouth hang open wide because I didn't know that words could be as phrased as beautifully as that. I literally want to be Catherynne M. Valente when I grow up. Here are some examples of paragraphs where I just could not wrap my head around the complete gorgeousness of this writing.

"Autumn is the very soul of metamorphosis, a time when the world is poised at the door of winter--which is the door of death--but has not yet fallen. It is a world of contradictions: a time of harvest and plenty but also of cold and hardship. Here we dwell in the midst of life, but we know most keenly that all things must pass away and shrivel. Autumn turns the world from one thing to another. The year is seasoned and wise but not yet decrepit or senile."

"The trees go all red and blazing orange and gold, and wood fires burn at night so that everything smells of crisp branches. The world rolls about delightedly in a heap of cider and candy and apples and pumpkins, and cold stars rush by through wispy, ragged clouds, past a moon like a bony knee."

And really sometimes I would just close the book for a second and bask in how beautiful these words were. The descriptions were always fantastic and really painted a picture of the scene for the reader.

6. Its shout-outs to other fairy-tales
This wasn't the only one, but here is one of the more obvious examples (talking about other kids who have stumbled into Fairyland),

"..and there's those that Stumble through a gap in the hedgerows or a mushroom ring or a tornado or a wardrobe full of winter coats."

7. All of the Wonderful Side Characters that September Meets
Calpurnia and Penny. Citrinitas, Rubedo, and Doctor Fallow. Mister Map and Neither/Nor/Not. Hello, Goodbye, and Manythanks. These funny creatures/people made the adventures that much more enjoyable. 

8. The Jeweled Key
It never failed that the Jeweled Key was always brought back into the story as soon as I forgot that he was following along. His sections were perfectly placed. I loved that it took you out of September's story for just a second, even while you are still technically being told September's story.

9. The Omniscient Narrator
It's been a long time since I've read a book with a really good Omniscient Narrator and I didn't realize how much I missed it until this book. A narrator, when done correctly, is a fantastic addition to a story to stir in a bit of whimsy. You know, narrators that say things like,

"It is true that novelists are shameless and obey no decent law, and they are not to be trusted on any account, but some Mysteries even they must honor."

10. The Chapter Heading that Explained Things, but Not Really.
At every new chapter the book gives a chapter title and then a brief description of what is in the chapter, but in very mysterious ways. For example, this is the summary for chapter two,

"In Which September Passes Between Worlds, Asks Four Questions and Recieves Twelve Answers, and Is Inspected by a Customs Officer."

I absolutely loved these. They are adorable and were charming to read and look for how they were fulfilled throughout the chapter.

11. The Fantastic Illustrations
All of the drawings at the beginning of each chapter were absolutely wonderful. It always gave you a hint into what was coming up in the next chapter and they were just beautifully drawn as well. (This also includes the gorgeous cover).

12. The Fact that there are Two More Books in this Series.
This ending was brilliant and I shut the book smiling. But I want more of this beautiful world and more of this beautiful writing. So I'm glad that more is available.

with such gorgeous writing, I'm sure you can imagine that I have a lot of quotes to add to this review.

"(It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.)"

"That's how you get the future: You mix up everything you did today with everything you did yesterday and all the days before and everything anyone you ever met did and anyone they ever met, too. And salt and lizard and pearl and umbrellas and typewriters and a lot of other things I'm not at liberty to tell you..."

"But no one may know the shape of the tale in which they move. And, perhaps, we do not truly know what sort of beast it is, either. Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to deliquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble."

"It will all be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or else why bring me here at all? And it's the wonders I'm after, even if I have to bleed for them."

"However unlikely it may seem, it is the truth and, therefore, one hundred percent likely."

"Well, very splendid and very frightening. But splendid things are often frightening. Sometimes, it's the fright that makes them splendid at all."

“... but as has been said, September read often, and liked it best when words did not pretend to be simple, but put on their full armor and rode out with colors flying.”  

"When one is traveling, everything looks brighter and lovelier. That does not mean it is brighter and lovelier; it just means that sweet, kindly home suffers in comparison to tarted-up foreign places with all their jewels on."

"When you are born...your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living.

"..and though you can have grief without adventures, you cannot have adventures without grief."

"That stirring, which had fluttered in her on first glimpsing the sea, that stirring landlocked children know so well--moved in her now, with the golden stars overhead and the green fireflies glinting on the wooded shore. She carefully unfolded the stirring that she had so tightly packed away. It billowed out like a sail, and she laughed despite herself, despite hunger and hard things ahead."

"All stories must end so, with the next tale winking out of the corners of the last pages, promising more, promising moonlight and dancing and revels, if only you will come back when spring comes again."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bookish Playlist #1.

Book Theme Songs
I've always associated certain songs with books in my head, but recently I decided to make an actual list to share on my blog. These songs are not always going to be direct matches lyrics-wise. For certain songs that I've chosen just the overall tone and melody of the song reminded me of the tone of the book. I'll try to explain exactly why I think the song matches, then at the end of each explanation I'll give a piece of the lyrics that I think best exemplifies the song.

--------The Maze Runner Trilogy--------
Q by: Cartel and A by: Cartel
This song has a steady beat and its lyrics talk about getting answers to questions or, in actuality, never getting answers. That fits the never-ending questions and manipulations in this book.

"They knew it then and they've been holding back for years, if you're not getting answers ask better questions."

A Fool's Dance by: Phillip Phillips
This book is very bittersweet, especially the ending. The fighting is over and the war is won, but they've lost too much to count it a full victory. This song is also very bittersweet. The lyrics speak to Katniss trying to figure out who she is and who this war has made her.

"Who am I? Who are you? What are we, anymore? Just a darkness in my life like a hole in the floor."
Black Keys by: Jonas Brothers
I know, I know, It's the Jonas Brothers. But I promise this song is beautiful. And it fits Delirium because the song is about a girl finding beauty in what is "wrong" (in this case The Deliria) and needing escape. Finding meaning in things that others say shouldn't have meaning.

"The black keys never looked so beautiful and a perfect rainbow never seemed so dull. And the lights out never had this bright a glow and the black keys showing a world I never knew."

--------The Last Olympian--------
Brighter by: Paramore
This pick is more about the tone and melody of it. It has the right amount of energy and bass to make it feel like the battle scenes in The Last Olympian. It gets heavier, but it never gets too serious about itself. As far as the lyrics go, everyone says that Percy is one of the most powerful demigods in history so he "shines brighter than anyone."

"We'll always know that you shine brighter than anyone does."

--------Mark of Athena--------
Burn this City by: Cartel
This book and this song both have fun and kind of epic vibes. It talks about a group of people living life to the fullest and  having adventures.

"We were smart kids with too much to say."

Camisado by: Panic! at the Disco
I've always thought this book is borderline satire, meaning it has some satirical aspects. It is by no means 'funny', but at some point it seems to mock certain aspects of society. And that mocking-but-serious style is perfected in most Panic! at the Disco songs. And this song really strikes a chord with the overall tone of this book. It's dark and a bit mocking.

"Can't take the kid from the fight, take the fight from the kid. Just sit back, just sit back."
Do It Now Remember It Later by: Sleeping with Sirens
If you've read this book then you'll probably think of a certain scene when you play this song. For me this song matches up with The Graveyard mob scene. The kids are tired of being told that a world without Unwinding will never exist, so they try to take it.

"Seen this place before back when I was young and I had something more to prove. Now that I'm older. I've seen all the things that I want and I'm ready to make my move"

--------The Phantom Tollbooth--------
Drops of Jupiter by: Train
The reason for this choice was just how whimsical it is and how it talks about going to another world to find yourself, which is exactly what happens to Milo.

"Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star, one without a permanent scar and did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there."

--------The Hunger Games--------
Fences by: Paramore
This one is pretty self-expanatory.

"You're always on display for everyone to watch and learn from. Don't you know by now, you can't turn back because this road is all you'll ever have."

Something Right by: Chelsea Lankes
The sweet aspects of this song sounds like Aza and Ijori's relationship to me. (Also I could picture them doing a duet on it and sounding just like Chelsea and Will on the actual track)

"How did I find you out? I wasn't even looking. How did I find this love? When it was least expected" 

---------Poison Study--------
Guns and Horses by: Ellie Goulding
This is another choice more about the melody of the song than about the lyrics. But I think, "every fire is a lesson learned" sounds like something Valek would say to Yelena.

"Let's join forces, we've got our guns and horses. I know you've been burned, but every fire is a lesson learned."
--------The Fault in our Stars--------
House of Hallways by: Go Radio
This is the one on this list that I think works the best with the book. There is a line about a "noble stranger" and I picture Hazel first meeting Augustus. Then there is a line a about "we're better off forgotten" which is exactly what Augustus struggled with all through the book. This song is haunting and stays in your mind even when you're done listening to it, just like the book.

"And the weight of it all is enough just to crush the best out of you and me. But I swear that there's someone who cares here enough to set us free. And if the world don't turn just enough to bring her honest then I guess we're better off forgotten."

--------Paper Towns--------
Misguided Ghosts by: Paramore
This song feels like something Margo would listen to as she was leaving. It addresses a lot of how she views the world and herself.

"See, I'm trying to find my place, but it might not be here where I feel safe. We all learn to make mistakes and run from them, from them with no direction" 
--------Anna and the French Kiss---------
So Easy by: Phillip Phillips
 This song strikes me as a song that could describe Anna and Etienne's relationship/friendship, because the way they were around each other was so easy. They were really comfortable around each other.

"You make it so easy this letting go is so beautiful, cause you make it so easy, to fall so hard"

--------Divergent and Insurgent--------
Arise by: Flyleaf
I'm cheating a little and using a song that Veronica Roth already put on her Divergent playlist at the back of certain versions. BUT, she has said that she listened to this song a lot while she was writing the book and I don't think you can match a book better than using a book that was part of the inspiration. So I have an excuse ;)

"Hold on to the world we all remember fighting for. There's still strength left in us yet."

Where are the Heroes by: Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
In Prodigy *spoileralert* neither side is fully good, there aren't any groups that have fully good motives. So June and Day have to reconcile themselves with the fact that they have to be people standing for good and find other people doing so. That shows in this song.

"When all I find are villains and zeros. Where are the heroes."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Archived

The Archived
By: Victoria Schwab
The Archived (The Archived, #1)
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out

I wanted to read this book because its promise of a great premise (also note the absolutely gorgeous cover). I read the summary and I knew that I just had to read it. But, a lot of books that start out with a great premise just never seem to be able to live up to their potential. This is definitely NOT one of those books. If anything, the actually story greatly surpassed its potential. It became something more.

Smart and Brave Heroine: CHECK
Mackenzie had her issues and her flaws, but she was always relatable and even likeable. It's no wonder she had so much trouble letting people in, she lived this whole life disconnected from everyone else meaning she spent most of her life lying to someone. It was a part of her job to become a convincing liar, but it meant that she had to deal with her problems mostly on her own. So when someone comes along (like Wesley) who she can trust to understand what she's going through she doesn't know what to do with that. She doesn't know whether to trust it. And since she had been taught to build walls between herself and other people to stop the noise she began building walls not toward the noise but towards the people, even to her own emotions a lot of the time. One thing I really liked about Mackenzie was that she did what she had to do, she didn't complain or moan. She did wish she could be normal, but only for seconds at a time and never in a whiny way. She dealt with the problems because she had to. Her character also developed in an important way in this book, she learned to open up at least a little when she could. She told Wesley everything at the end even though she could easily have lied again, but she knew that he deserved the truth.

Intelligent and Funny Hero: CHECK
Another thing I loved about this book was that there wasn't neccessarily a "love story" aspect to it. Yes, there is  chemistry between Mackenzie and Wesley and Mackenzie and Owen, but I would never describe either as "romance". Mackenzie spent time with Owen because he silenced the noise in her head and let her ignore her thoughts for a while, but that's just what Histories do, it wasn't unique to him. And Mackenzie and Wesley were only ever friends. By that I mean that there was refreshingly not even talk of a relationship or anything just to add angst and confusion. They really cared about each other, but not even neccessarily in that way. It's hard to describe because they definitely love each other, but it's just that neither made a big deal about needing to be in a relationship or even talk about being in a relationship. They were friends and partners. Okay, now I'm going to talk about Wesley anyway.

Wesley: I FLIPPING LOVE HIM. He was so funny and sweet and just nice. He didn't get too mad at Mackenzie, but he kept her accountable. And he made her laugh when she needed to the most. I loved that he dressed scary but wasn't at all and I loved that he read and was pretty smart but never felt the need to announce it to the world, he just let it speak for itself. And I loved how he fought through his area of the Narrows to get to Mackenzie and help her because she was his partner. And now some of my favorite lines of his,

"And I'm not going anywhere. It takes at least three assassination attempts to scare me off. And even then, if there are baked goods involved, I might come back."

"Well, there's this new girl who just moved in on floor three. Her family's re-opening the cafe. I hear she likes to lie, and hit people."

"You're clever, trying to distract me with my own good looks, but it won't work."

and I just think there should be more guys like him, or just more of him in the next book. Oh, and I loved how he didn't mind getting to know Mackenzie's mom and dad and how he helped her with her summer homework and just everything. EVERYTHING. yes.

Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
Roland: How can you NOT love a funny and cool Librarian in red Chucks? ;) But really, he was great. I really loved how much he cared about Mackenzie and how he didn't report her for Ben and basically anything that she did. He trusted her to start making the right decisions, and she did. He wasn't a replacement for Da, but I think he took Da's place in her life at least a little bit after Da died. Or at least he was someone who knew the Archive and how it worked and was watching out for her.
Mom and Dad: I loved how accurately their coping mechanisms were. Everything they did to get away from the memory of Ben were actually things that people do to cope with tragedy. They run and they pretend that everything is alright in the hopes that it will be. Or they throw things out or they hide behind constant action and noise. Their grief felt real and that's important.
Owen: I know that I probably should have seen it coming, but I did not expect his betrayal. As in it completely shocked me. I was just reading along (like you do..) and then BOOM it falls into my lap and I just thought, "Woah, this makes too much sense." Now I'm dying to know if he's really gone or if he can somehow come back from the Door to Nowhere. Beyond that I thought he was a very convincing character and villain, he was traumatized by losing Regina and he had the power to bring her back. Even Mackenzie gave in to her powers a little bit, it's easy to see someone less grounded than her giving in all the way.

Excellent and Thought-Provoking Plot: CHECK
This book was full of mystery and secrets, grief and pain, ancient murders and confusing cover-ups all leading to an inside job. But the best part was how all of these aspects started out as separate threads in the story until they started to weave together to form a pattern that matched to tone of the overall story. I loved how things slowly came together, connecting and twisting and then moving away again to connect with another part of the story. I think that this book was expertly paced. New things were always happening and interesting secrets were either being revealed or about to be revealed. And the plot wasn't just interesting, it was genuinely thought-provoking. Questions popped up like, would you try to get a family member back even if you knew it was against the rules and not even really them? Would you be able to send the Histories back after seeing how human-like they could be? Is history worth preserving despite all the trouble it causes? All of these things were really interesting to think about. And I loved the concept that objects could hold memories and that they could be accessed by the Keepers. I loved that dramatic, emotional events left deeper, brighter impressions on the surfaces and that patterns and repetive actions held a different, duller impression. I just think that was a beautiful concept and true to memories as they are held in our minds.

Brilliant Writing: CHECK
The writing was really fantastic in this book. It was clear and to the point, but also introspective in an odd way. I loved the bolded sections where Mackenzie was flashing back to talking with Da. It showed the depth of his influence on her and her beginnings as a Keeper. Another aspect of the great writing was the world building. The Archive was described thoroughly and consistently, the Narrows were rightfully chilling, and the Outer seemed a more interesting place after learning about all of the doors. I really appreciate Victoria Schwab's ability to tell a story and make the world feel real around you.


"But this summer is simple. This summer I am nine and you are alive and there is still time."

"Not every memory's worth holding."

"Fighting isn't really about using your strength, Kenzie. It's about using theirs."

"We protect the past. And the way I see it, that means we need to understand it."

"Requirement ruins even the best books."

"Isn't the point of a quest to get somewhere? To get home?"

"I hold my gaze and search for some of him in me, search for the part that knows how to lie and smile and live and be. And I don't see any of it."

"Because the only way to truly record a person is not in words, not in still frames, but in bone and skin and memory."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Falling Kingdoms

Falling Kingdoms
By: Morgan Rhodes
Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
This was a pretty good story.I had a few problems with it (particularly with the writing), but the world-building was awesome and the characters felt mostly authentic. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a great YA fantasy series. I can't wait for the next book.

Cleo: She could accurately be described as a spoiled brat for most of this book, as evidenced by this quote from her,

"If Cleo wanted something badly enough, it would happen. Why wouldn't it? It always had before."

She wasn't actually selfish, she was just always felt very entitled. It's understandable because she is the princess of a thriving country, but that doesn't make it excusable. But, this set her up for some very important character development. She transforms from the complete brat she was into a character trying to be strong and take back her country. I ended up really liking Cleo. Granted she's still quite naive, but she's also very young for everything that's happened to her.
Lucia: Also naive, but not nearly as entitled. Her and Magnus (who we'll definitely be discussing later) have major problems because of their parents. I mean, they aren't just a little messed up, they are completely screwed up in every aspect of their lives. But, can you blame them? Their dad is "The King of Blood" and their mom has kind of checked out. Although admittedly, Lucia is less messed up than Magnus is. Her main flaw isn't anything that she herself does, but that she goes along with what others tell her to do without questioning the morality of it all. But she also seems to have a good heart, and with all the power she has, she could really do something good.
Magnus: He is easily the most messed up of the four main characters (which is saying a lot). But I also felt sorry for him the most, he had to put up with a horrible father and a horrible mother and a horrible everyone else. There was only one person who was nice to him, Lucia. And while that storyline might have gotten really creepy and disgusting really fast, I honestly don't think it was added to the story just for a creepy factor (obviously not defending the actual storyline, just its place in the overall story). Magnus changed because of it (not in a good way) and it changed Lucia too. I think that when Magnus figures things out he'll really be a force for good and a great future king of Limeros.
Jonas: I think he is the main character that we see the least, but I still enjoyed reading his chapters. He was angry and stubborn, but he meant well. He felt deeply for his country, however that led him into not caring for the people of the other countries. But him and his brother were rebels to the core. Jonas often made decisions and judgments too quickly, but it had a lot to do with his temperment.

Setting and Plot:
The best parts of this book was the awesome world-building and the genuine characters. Mytica was very well thought out, the politics were interesting and the religions were worked in very well. The leaders had clear and obvious reasons for making the decisions made, sometimes because they were gullible, sometimes because they were power-hungry, but there was always a reason. The plot was also crazy awesome. This book isn't like most books that begin series, it wasn't just leading up to a impending war, it was the beginning of war. It didn't just promise action, it delivered it.

I also loved the viewpoints this book comes from. Very few books can pull off having the story told from two perspectives let alone the four (and actually closer to six) found in this book. And yes, it isn't technically told from first person so it isn't quite the same, but it is still quite impressive. It was so interesting to read about all the main characters and how most of them didn't like each other. But you wanted to be on each of their sides, even when those sides clashed with each other. The little details put into this book also impressed me. I loved how the beginning of each chapter said which of the three lands it was taking place in. And I loved the character guide at the beginning of the book (especially in the first few chapters, because there were a ton of names to keep straight) and I liked that it was sorted by country.

Supporting Characters:
Nic: What an awesome ginger. ;) But seriously, I like him a lot. I'm hoping that he either finds another girl or tells Cleo how he feels about her, but we'll see.
Brion: I was in love with Brion and Jonas' bromance. They joked around a lot which was a nice addition to the story. And we know that he is really brave, like when he stood up to King Gaius' soldiers and wouldn't bow to Gaius.
Emilia: I think she was a good character, but underutilized. A lot more could have been done with her and Cleo's sisterhood. I also think the fact that her death happened just minutes before the battle somehow diluted the emotion of it. But other than that she was very well-written.
King Gaius: Also known as The King of Blood. Needless to say, King Gaius is a very convincing villain. He is manipulative and selfish. His quest for power is what drives him to kill and destroy.
King Corvin: He was the only leader in Mytica who actually cared about something other than himself. He felt guilty for his part in Paelsia's troubles and what it caused for all of the people of the land.
Chief Basillius: I liked that this book didn't just have good rulers and evil rulers, it had a gullible and indifferent leader. Because it's not that Chief Basillius was this incredibly bad guy, he was just trusting and kind of apathetic toward the suffering of his people.
Theon: Gosh.. just when I started to really like him, he dies. But it was an important lesson for Cleo to learn, sometimes you can't have everything and sometimes you lose the people you love most.

Plot Twists and Action:
Another fantastic thing about this book is that things were always happening and new plans were being carried out. A lot of the action and intrigue stemmed from the story being told from so many different people in all of the three countries. It being told from people of interest in the affairs of the country (like Cleo, Magnus, and Lucia) and from people trying hard to change things (Jonas). I loved how real the war felt because there was no side that was completely in the right. The story could be told that way because it was told by people from all sides of it.

And to this review I am adding a very special section (and by special , unfortunately I mean bad). Because while the book met all of the qualifications above and it was truly great, I had a couple problems with it.

Problem 1. the apparent lack of editing. Really, some sentences had entire words left out that were important to what it was saying or had words in the sentence twice. Big, obvious problems that anyone could see while reading through it, so I don't get why those weren't corrected. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine.

Problem 2. the dialogue. While it's true that I loved the characters and most of their interactions, there were times when the dialogue was just so inauthentic. It didn't feel organic. It sounded like something that no one would say in that situation, let alone the characters whom the conversation was based around.


"Even paradise could become a prison if one had enough time to take notice of the walls."

"Whispered stories could turn to shouted truths as quick as day became night."

"Life itself sings from your existence."

"Some victories didn't taste quite as sweet as they should."

"Even in the darkest and most cruel person, there is still a kernel of good. And within the most perfect champion, there is also darkness. The question is, will one give in to the dark or the light? It's something we decide with every choice we make, every day we exist."

"But perhaps a heart takes experience and time to harden."

"And you must draw from that strength. You must increase it. And you must hold on to it because sometimes that small glimmer of inner strength is all that we have to help us press forward through the darkness."