Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Hello, friends. Just finished up Michelle Hodkin's debut novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and I was not disappointed. First of all, check out this cover:

Isn't it pretty? And not only is it pretty, but it also feels pretty, kind of satiny smooth. Enough about the cover, here's the dish on the book itself.

I honestly didn't know what to expect from the book because I hadn't seen/read anything about it. I was intrigued by the cover (because yes, I do judge books by their covers) so I thought it would be a good read. The story itself is something many people can relate to. Mara is a teenage girl recovering from a tragic experience in a new town. From there, the story takes on a more psychological exploration of how she deals with her previous trauma as well as adjusting to a new school, where she manages to ostracize herself from day one. The story takes a quirky turn into some supernatural elements that I was not really expecting. However, I probably should have expected them. They are slowly unraveled as the story progresses, sometimes almost too neatly. And the ending? There are really no clear answers at the end of the story, which pretty much ensures that there will be a sequel (yay!). Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

Now I'm trying to decide which of the hundreds of books I have I will read next. Any suggestions?
Until the next time, happy reading!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back in the blog-o-sphere!

Hello friends. I am officially back in the blog-o-sphere and have just returned from this year's fabulous NCTE/ALAN conference with a huge pile of new books to read and review. First up is this book:

I received this book Friday and finished it Sunday. I definitely gobbled it up. First off, I was totally fasinated by this book because it is a combination of pictures and literature. From what I have heard, the author (Ransom Riggs) collected the photos then used them to write a story. Intriguing? Absolutely.
The photo/literature combination is well balanced throughout the book. I can definitely tell that a lot of planning went into the story because there were pictures later on in the story that just fit so well with where he took the story. Also, the story itself is fascinating. I won't give too many details, but basically it is all about a young man who finds himself as he realizes that sometimes stories that seem fantastical can come true. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found that I couldn't put it down. Some of the pictures are a little creepy (and they are actual vintage photos the author collected from others), and initially I chose this book first because of that. Here are a few:


I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a good story.

Next up? The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. So far, so good.

Until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nightstand full of books...

Hello all. Shockingly enough, I have finished another book. Today I finished Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Now I've heard a lot of things about the book and the movie, so I had to find out what it was like for myself. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. 
Who would have thought that a book about writing a book would be so enthralling? I think the reason why it's so good is that each character is captured so well. The book is narrated from three different characters' viewpoints, and they are each so different in their own ways. And no book is complete with a villain, and let me tell you, I know plenty of Hilly Holbrooks that are still around today.
I did make one mistake, though, and that was reading this book in my office. I definitely teared up a few times and thought, "Oh my goodness, I hope no one comes in to ask about an assignment." I understand now why so many people say that the movie makes them laugh, cry, and rage all at the same time. I feel like Stockett took a risk writing this book because of the time period.  She definitely captures that era well and all the tensions that were present. Her timing is fabulous and the lines well delivered. More than one time I found myself thinking, yep, I know exactly what she means.
Perhaps this book resonates so well because I am from the South and have lived here from birth. A lot of these old South manners are still in the fabric of my family (though not to the extent of this book, thank goodness) and I think that also helped me relate more strongly to the book. Overall, I would recommend it to anyone who's up for a good read that's not afraid to be brutally honest about a tumultuous time period.

Well, that's on book down from the pile of half read books I have. What to finish up next? I have three books I've half finished that I plan on finishing up (Clash of Kings, Dark and Hollow Places, and The Vampire Diaries). We'll see which one I get through next. Until then, happy reading!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bloodlines Review

So I finished Bloodlines a few days ago. Let me say, I am completely satisfied with the book. All my favorite characters are present (Yes, we do get cameos from both Rose and Dmitri, although they do not appear at the same time). First of all, I love, love, love that we get more character development on Sydney. I was intrigued by her in the VA series, and she doesn't disappoint here either. Also, soooo happy to see Adrian getting more book time. I find myself rooting him on. As much as I liked when he was with Rose, I know they don't quite fit together as well as Rose and Dmitri. So for everyone who wants to see Adrian happy with someone? You might find yourself pretty satisfied by the end of the book. The premise of the story works well here, too. (Although I wonder if Mead has some connection to boarding schools since that seems to be where her characters always end up.)
Also, I must be slipping because I totally did not see the "villain" coming. Kudos to Mead for a good twist.
Next up on the reading list? I'm going to tackle The Help because I keep hearing how great it is. I don't want to see the movie before reading the book, so it's next in line.
Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, August 22, 2011

New book fun. Aaaahhhhh!

Just received this awesomeness in the mail today:

Just started reading Richelle Mead's new Vampire Academy spinoff, Bloodlines. I'm four chapters in and already super excited. More news to come later. Woot!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Musings on the Disneyfication of the World

Well, friends, I'm not dead. And my computer isn't either. But I have had a rather eventful summer, so my reading...well it didn't really happen. I think I might have finished three books this summer. Shameful, really. So I'm trying to get back on the bandwagon. Currently, I am about halfway through three books, so, I should be able to add three more soon. Yeah!
So anyway, in the meantime I thought I might throw out some random musings about various issues. Heck, some of them might even be literary. Woo hoo.
A few months ago, I attended the ACA/PCA conference, and I had a fantastic time. One of the sessions I went to was all about Disney princesses and whether or not they are a "good" thing. I have my own thoughts on that. Indulge me here.
I am not necessarily a fan of the Disneyfication of life. Think about it. Why do we let little girls grow up with a princess mentality? I am the first to admit I am guilty of this as both of my nieces adore Disney princesses and I do nothing to discredit them. But why introduce the idea of happily ever after when sometimes it's only that--an idea. There's a reason why early Disney stories end when the princess meets the prince.  After that, life happens and things can get ugly.
Let's look at a few examples. Take Aurora (you might know her better as Sleeping Beauty). Her prince kisses her and she wakes up. Hoorah! Riiiiight. (See the original story. Not so neat and tidy there.) She marries a guy she's never met because he kissed her? What happens after she gets to know him and he's a jerk who refuses to listen to anything she has to say? Then there's Cinderella. She meets the prince like, what, once? twice? After a little dancing she just knows he's the one? Really? Come on. Snow White-see Sleeping Beauty.
I know this probably makes me seem cynical, but I'm not. I'm just trying to be a realist here rather than an idealist. I do have to give Disney credit for some of the princesses though. You know, the ones who actually spend more than ten minutes with the prince before deciding to marry him. See: Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Belle, Mulan, Rapunzel, Tiana (I'm sure I'm missing others here, too. Feel free to add to the list). They get better with time, but the mentality of "the princess has to find her prince to be happy" is still there.
The point is, at some time we have to realize life isn't a Disney movie and that's not always easy. All is not flowers and rainbows and stars and ponies. Life is work, and relationships especially so. Disney never shows the after because that's too real. Besides, who wants to see Cinderella and her prince arguing over the castle budget? You know those mice don't work for cheap.

Anyway, just a few thoughts on Disney and life in general. Feel free to chime in with any of your own ideas, friends. And until next time, happy reading!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I AM still alive :)

Hi friends! I know, I know. It's been a short millenium since I last posted, but I am back for the summer. Woot! I plan on getting much reading accomplished in the next few months (since I still haven't read all the books I acquired at NCTE last year). Aaaaaaand, I have already started with the reading. Last week, I received (and read) the newest Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Reckoning.
To be honest, I wasn't really thrilled with this book. Or the previous one for that matter. In some ways, I feel like maybe Charlaine is trying to connect with the show too much. Or maybe the show is warping my view of the books? I'm not sure. All I know is these two books have felt  more like filler than anything else. These are the lettuce and tomato, now I need some meat. I want a book like book 4 or the book with the hotel explosion. Now those were fabulous, well written works. I am hoping that the next book in the series will fill that book hole I have in this series. If not, I will continue to be dissatisfied (because who are we kidding? I'll still read the books just to see what happens). That being said, did I still fly through the book to see what happened? Yes. Did I still enjoy it? Pretty much. Can I help compare it to previous books in the series I enjoyed more? Negative. Sometimes it feels like she's trying to put in too much at one time to really get a good thing. We'll see what happens with the next one.

I'm also reading through two other books at the moment, Matched and Clash of Kings.I am very intrigued by the base storyline of Matched. In this society, every single thing is set in place for you. I just read one part where the society selected 100 songs/poems/paintings, etc. that they deemed the best and most worthy of study, then tossed out all the rest. Can you say eek! I am definitely interested to see where this book goes.

So what is everyone else reading? Anything I need to look into? Until next time, friends, happy reading!

Monday, January 31, 2011

A day late, but that's ok

Hello again! Man, what's with this consistency lately? I must not be busy enough. :) Yesterday I finished Revelations, so here are my thoughts.

I feel like this book lived up to its title. There were several revelation, most of which had been alluded to previously. I was definitely a little sad by multiple elements, and I am glad that I have the next book so that I wasn't left waiting for the fallout. Here are the main thoughts I was left with:

*I am really curious about Bliss. I liked her character from the beginning, but now I am questioning my stance on her character. I want to like. I feel like she has been written to be a very likeable character. But because of who she is, I feel like maybe I shouldn't like her anymore. I really hope that something happens to make her character not be the bad guy in the end.
*I am frustrated with the whole Jack storyline. What is it about love that can't be that is so enticing? This book is a great study in love that can't happen. We want Jack and Schuyler to be together, but there are so many reasons why they shouldn't. After all, who really wants to break up the angel of death and the angel of destruction? That spells disaster.
*I was really sad about what happened to Jordan, Dylan, and Lawrence. (and the rest of the council) I wish that they were still in the picture. If nothing else, I hope we see Jordan again. She has always given off a creepy children of the damned vibe, which makes sense now. I was pretty bummed about Dylan and Lawrence though.
*What's up with Bliss' family? I really want them to get what's coming to them. Grrrrrr. Can someone please discover what happened?

Ok, enough ranting. Overall, really enjoyable, fast paced book. A lot of questions are answered, but a whole new batch is opened up. What will happen to the conclave now? Will Forsyth be found out? (I bet BobbiAnn's to blame.) I am now moving on to The Van Alen Legacy, so we'll see what happens there!

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vampire bite

Hello again, friends. No, I haven't finished another book...yet. I'm about halfway through Revelations, so you can expect an update at some point. However, I don't know how much time I'll have to read in the next week or so, so I'm not sure when I'll have an update for you. Today's post is actually about another of my crafty projects.

Not too long ago, I saw a cool vampire bite necklace on etsy. I thought it was a neat idea, and at the time my thought was "I can make that." True to form, I did indeed finally make the necklace. Here are a few photos for your viewing pleasure:

It's super lightweight, so I can't really even tell that I have a necklace on. Plus, it's super cute. So here is my homage to my long-time love of all things vampire (including the True Blood series, of which I am anxiously awaiting the next installments in both book and show form, Vampire Academy, and the Blue Bloods books, among others).


Friday, January 28, 2011

Paper Faces on Parade *spoilers*

Hello again out there in the blogosphere. Well, it's been a week, so you know what that means...time for another book review! Today's book is....Masquerade, the second Blue Bloods novel by Melissa de la Cruz.

I was not disappointed in this novel. I feel like it does a nice job of picking up where the first book left off, and we are left with several unanswered questions. I like that de la Cruz always ends a book leaving the reader wanting more. I feel like that is the case even more so with this book than with the previous book.

I still love Jack, and I still want Schuyler to be with Jack. Could the salvation of the blue bloods come from that relationship? Somehow I feel like that could be the case, but maybe that's too easy. Maybe it's Schuyler's sister instead (and btw, who else predicted who her sister was? I love the choice, and it makes sense), which is why she is plagued. Or perhaps it will be some combination of the two? I am curious to see where this will lead.

Also, the whole thing with Oliver? Bad idea. Saw that one coming, too, and I can only imagine where that will lead. It will be interesting to say the least. :) Also, anyone else hoping that Allegra will just snap out of it? I mean, come on. Snap out of it or leave the cycle. She's kind of on my nerves...

Anyway, the completion of this book leads me right into the next one, so I will picking up Revelations when I have time to read. What are you all reading?

Until next time, happy reading!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blue Bloods Review *Spoilers Ahead*

So, I finally got around to reading Blue Bloods (by Melissa de la Cruz) this week. This is a book I have heard lots of great things about, and I am stoked to finally begin the series. As with my usual habit, the plan now is to read the next few books in the series, which is good because the newest book was just released. Woot!

If you're interested in vampire books at all, I would definitely recommend this one.The take on vampirism is quite fresh and unlike anything I have read in the past. I have read a few other vampire series, and I love how all of the writers approach the subject with a fresh perspective. If you are looking for a fast-paced novel that blends past, present and future, look no further. I love the way things from the beginning of time are tied together with the colonists which are all tied to the present. There are a lot of subtle hints throughout the novel that become noticeable the closer you get to the end, too. Definitely an intriguing read (I finished the book in about a day and a half of intermittent reading), and I will be picking up with Masquerade tomorrow for sure.

If you haven't read the book and you don't want it ruined, you should probably stop reading now. For those of you who have (or who don't mind having things spoiled), read on.

I really, really, really like the premise of this book. The idea of vampirism that is present here is so different from what everyone else does with it. I like the spin on how vampires live forever. They don't literally live forever, they live in a cycle of regeneration. And the whole fallen angel idea? Brilliant. I personally don't have the creativity to draw such connections, so I can only applaud those who do. Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the connection to the early settlers of the US. I mean, where does that kind of inspiration come from? I love the idea of connecting what happened at Roanoke (which has never really been explained) to the idea of vampirism, too. So neat!

As for the characters, I like that we learn a little about each of them as we go. The slow revelation of connections helps lead the reader into surprises at each chapter. I feel like a lot of teenagers can identify with Schuyler especially. I mean, who hasn't lived on the fringes of school society at some point? I think there are many people who can relate to where she's coming from and who would respond to many situations as she does. The age old love triangle works well here with Jack and Oliver, too.

I was fortunate enough to meet Melissa de la Cruz a few months and she asked me if I was team Jack or team Oliver. At the time, I hadn't had a chance to read any of the books, so I didn't have a clear answer. At the end of book one, I would have to say that I am actually leaning more toward Jack than Oliver. The idea of breaking up the dynamic duo of Jack and Mimi is appealing. I always want to see the underdog get the guy, so I would like to see Jack and Schuyler together. However, I don't want Oliver to be left out, so I hope he finds someone fabulous, too! I am interested to see where the characters go from here!

So next time you hear from me, you'll probably be hearing my thoughts on Masquerade. Until then, happy reading!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Last thoughts

Well, I finished Game of Thrones today. On the whole, I would say it's an enjoyable book. Did it make me mad at certain points? Yes. Did it make me happy at certain points? Also yes. Do I want to read the next book to find out what happens? Yes.
On the whole, I thought the book was somewhat predictable. I wasn't at all surprised by the ending. There are a lot of hints peppered throughout the book to indicate what will happen. My fellow bookie and long time friend Kim said that a lot of people told her they liked this series because no character was safe; the author kills off "main" characters all the time. That's not something I think is especially appealing about the book or the writing style. I guess some people like the novelty of that, but I think that pretty much all of the deaths were predictable. I can't say I was taken by surprise at any of them. Now, there were some character actions that surprised me, but not any deaths. I still hate Sansa, but I am glad she finally got her wake up call in the end. I hope that she makes some large strides in the right direction in the next book. And I still love Arya. If I were a character in this book, I'd be Arya. I kind of hate how her character was left hanging at the end. Good thing this is just the first book of a series and I don't have to wait to see what happens.
Will I be moving on to the next book in the series? Not immediately. These types of books are great, but they are so dense that I need a breather in between them. Besides, my brother is currently reading the next book in the series, so I have to wait for him to finish it anyway.
For now, I'm finally going to start the Blue Bloods series. I have had these books for almost two months now, so I think it's time I finally read them. I should be able to plow through the series in a week or two (give or take, depending on how much "reading" time I make for myself). However, a recent purchase has given my reading a bit of pause. What's that, you say? Well, here it is:

Xbox 360 Console
That's right, friends. After years of resistance, I have finally joined the xbox world. *le sigh* I guess it was eventual. I have every other system, I figured I might as well add this to my gaming repertoire. Also, the kinect is much smaller than I thought it would be...

Til next time, happy reading!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts on the book

Hi friends. I know, I know. It's been a few days. And yes, I am still reading A Game of Thrones. I'm about 600 pages in (about 200 left), so I thought I would give you an update on my thoughts on the book.

On the whole, I am enjoying it. It still reminds me of some books I loved when I was younger, so I'm totally down with it. I am somewhat surprised at turns by what happens, and completely unsurprised at other turns. I think the story is pointing all the fingers at one person, but it's going to be another person. As for the characters, I find myself looking forward to the chapters about Daenerays the most. Maybe it's because they are so few or because she is the "bad" guy. From the beginning, I have thought it was interesting that we get positive insights into both the "good" side and the "bad" side. It makes it hard to dislike the bad guys. I also really like the chapters about Jon Snow. It's interesting to see his side of things, too. I would totally be like Arya, and I hope that we see more of her in future books. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate the chapters on Sansa. She is so dumb, really, really, dumb. Fo' real. That's about all I have to say about that.

More news on what I'm reading next as soon as I look over my options. Happy reading!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The scarf is (almost) finished!

So I finally started working on the scarf again, and it is pretty much finished. Woot! I gave it a few days' rest, then decided to just finish the sucker. I haven't fringed the ends yet (because I ran out of yarn), but I should have that finished in a day or so. Here are a few photos:

One thing's for sure. I won't get cold in this scarf. Happy times!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dante's firepit

Hi friends! Today I haven't accomplished much other than playing a little Dante's Inferno. This game...oy. In literary terms, I deem it Dante's firepit. I mean, really, anytime you have an adaptation of this sort you can't really call it more than an homage to the origins. I am constantly amused by what the game designers do with the Inferno. I mean, yes, there is a Dante, Virgil, and Beatrice. You do go through the various layers of hell, and when you die (as I inevitably do from time to time), you get a line from the text. So, yeah. Truthfully, though, I am legitimately grossed out by certain parts of the game. Can I just say, ew. One of my favorite parts of the game, though, is the ability to punish or absolve various historical figures (such as Atilla or Pilate). I am the kind of person who wants to forgive everyone, so I usually end up offering absolution every time, even to the little minions you can kill throughout the game. Anyway, here's a shot of Dante for any curious viewers:

That's right. He's holding the fiery cross of justice...along with a giant sycthe.You can't see it in this picture, so here's another:

On the whole, I am enjoying the game (I only have the final 3 levels of Hell left before it's over), but don't go into it expecting to learn everything the Inferno has to offer. But is it more fun because I am familiar with Dante? Definitely.

Until next time, friends, happy reading!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New year, not a lot of reading happening yet...

So I'm a little slow on the reading thus far. I think I have burned myself out a little on "crafty-hobby" type things over the break. I've been home for almost 4 weeks now. In that time I have:

*Christmas-ed to the max
*Made 5 button bracelets
*Read 6 books
*Beat 1 game, played parts of 4 others
*Watched all 5 seasons of Weeds on Netflix
*Watched a LOT of instant play movies on Netflix
*Dog-sat for a week and a half
*Shopped online. A LOT
*Worked on a Slytherin scarf (it's massive! more like a blanket really...)
*Completed 1 painting, started on another

So, yeah. I'm a little behind on reading. BUT I am steadily working through A Game of Thrones. It is surprisingly interesting. Fantasy is definitely my favorite genre, and this book reminds me of the books I loved best when I was in high school/early college. I admit that several things have happened that were not exactly "predictable," which is something I love about this book. More to come later! And, for your viewing pleasure, my progress thus far on the Slytherin scarf. (Hey, it's book related.)

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a great 2011 full of fun, adventures, and books. :) What am I starting the year off with? Game of Thrones; I mentioned this in the first post, but I will reiterate the idea. I am reading this monster of a book (ok, so maybe 800+ pages doesn't really constitute a monster, but it looks pretty massive in paperback form) so that I will be ready for the show when it debuts in April. I do admit, though, that I will probably not read the next two books in the series immediately because after this book I plan to go back to Kenyon's series and then on to the Blue Bloods books from there.

Happy reading to all in 2011! What's on your shelf this year?