Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Birthdays! -- September 23rd, 2014

Time for another edition of book birthday celebrations! Some more awesome books came out today, so let's get to them!

*Note: when celebrating birthdays for books in a series other than Book 1, I will not list the summary, in the interest of avoiding spoilers. If you've read the first books in the series, or are just insanely curious, follow the book title link to the Goodreads page to read the summary there!


Title: Afterworlds
Author: Scott Westerfeld 

Summary: Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings...

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved--and terrifying--stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts my not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most. 

Title: Rooms
Author: Lauren Oliver

Summary: Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family--bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna--have arrived for their inheritance. 

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself--in the hiss of a radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb. 

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide--with cataclysmic results.

Series Starter

Title: Firebug
Author: Lish McBride 
Series: Firebug #1

Summary: Ava can start fires with her mind...but is it a blessing or a curse? 

Ava is a firebug--she can start fires with her ind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men...and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus--who is now her boss. 

When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum. 

Series Enders

Title: Remember Me
Author: Romily Bernard 
Series: If You Find Me #2

Author: Mindy McGinnis 
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2

Title: Unmade 
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy #3

Tell me: what new releases are YOU excited for? Let me know in the comments below! 

Top Ten Tuesday (5): Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!

1 and 2. Asylum and Sanctum by Madeleine Roux

My mom keeps seeing these books at WalMart and demands that I order them because SHE wants to read them so badly. So these sound like good October/Halloween reads! 

3 and 4. Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer 

I FINALLY just ordered these from Book Outlet, so now I'm really looking forward to getting into this series and jumping on the bandwagon! 

5. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Luckily, I won an ARC of this, so it is absolutely NEXT on my TBR, as soon as I finish Heir of Fire!! Considering how much I love Marie Lu's Legend series, this should be no surprise. 

6. The Body Electric by Beth Revis

I also ADORED Beth's Across the Universe trilogy, so when I heard she was self-publishing another novel about what was happening on Earth while Amy and Elder were on the Godspeed, I freaked out. And I ordered my signed limited edition copy from Malaprops, so I can't wait to receive it! 

7, 8 and 9. The Darkest Minds, Never Fade, and In the Afterlight, all by Alexandra Bracken. 

I've been excited for this series forEVER, but for some reason I haven't started them yet, even though I own the first two books. So since the third and final book comes out this fall, I'll be marathoning the series! 

10. (And a bonus 11 and 12!) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and The Retribution of Mara Dyer, all by Michelle Hodkin. 

I've been hearing some great things about this series. A couple of months ago, Michelle announced that ALL pre-orders of the third book would be signed, so I jumped on that! In one day, I pre-ordered the third book and ordered the first two books in  hardcover to match. So I'll also be marathoning this series! 

Tell me: what books are at the top of YOUR fall TBR? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, September 22, 2014


*WARNING* Mild spoilers ahead*

Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter
Release date: September 19th, 2014

I read The Maze Runner at the beginning of this month in preparation of seeing this movie. You can read my review for the book here, if you're so inclined! Long story short, I gave the book a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It had an entertaining premise, the story line was intriguing, but the characters were wooden, and it suffered from a case of "tell-don't-show." However, I was still super excited to see the movie. After all, it looked better than the book.

It was.

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the movie. I saw it with my mom and dad, and even my dad loved it. A couple weeks ago, I told you that I preferred the movie adaptation of If I Stay to the book. The same thought can be applied here.

Despite various changes being made to the story, I honestly feel like these changes were justified. The Grievers are ten times more terrifying in the movie than in the book, and the eventual escape method from the maze makes that much more sense. The movie also just compacts events slightly, letting the story continue to flow, rather than slow down and speed up at random intervals. Also, I'm really glad they cut Thomas and Teresa's telepathic connection, and their insta-love. In fact, there wasn't a big emphasis on the romance at all, which I actually appreciated.

Speaking strictly of cinematography for a moment, I have one small complaint and one HUGE compliment. My one complaint is that the scene where the Grievers invade the Glade is super shaky and choppy, making it hard to follow what is happening and who is getting taken. However, all of the shots in the Maze are beautiful, especially when Minho and Thomas are running through the outer sections.

For the most part, I was impressed with the acting. Dylan O'Brien just continues to grow on me, and I love the way he let his emotions play on his sleeves. Aml Ameen as Alby was perfect, and Blake Cooper made the SWEETEST Chuck. And you should know for future reference that I absolutely ADORE Thomas Brodie Sangster (AKA Ferb, from Phineas and Ferb), so of course I loved his performance as Newt. I also adore Patricia Clarkson, even though we saw very little of her.

Surprisingly, I really loved Will Poulter as Gally. I absolutely HATED Gally in the book (as I'm sure you're supposed to), but movie Gally was much more sympathetic. He even had his bouts of kindness, rather than being the all-out villain he is in the book.

The only complaint I have acting-wise is that Kaya Scodelario did absolutely nothing for me as Teresa. I know many people love her as an actress, but she did not impress me. That may be due in part to the screenplay, which gave her very little to do in general and made her character less important, at least in this first movie. But overall, her performance was forgettable for me.

All in all, I loved it. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and even gave me a few laughs. It definitely made me more invested in the story emotionally, and the end punched me much harder seeing it than it did reading the book. If you liked the book at all (or even if you didn't read it!), I definitely recommend you see the movie! The promise of a sequel depends on the success of the first, so go spend some money and see it in theaters!

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Tell me: have YOU seen The Maze Runner yet? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments below! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

August Book Haul 2014

As you may have seen on my last Facebook post, I had some technical difficulties with my videos for August. I used my mom's old video camera instead of my phone to film both of my August videos, but we cannot find the cord to connect the camera to the computer to transfer the videos so I can edit and upload them. So while I can probably find a Micro SD card to transfer them, it's entirely too late for the videos to go up from August. So instead, I thought I would just do a "stacking the shelves" type post and tell you the books I got in August, accompanied by some pictures! I bought a total of 24 books in August, so let's get started!

First, I took a couple of trips to a local thrift store and found several books.

1. Marley & Me by John Grogan
2. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
3. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
4. Matilda by Roald Dahl
5. The Daughters by Joanna Philbin
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

There are a couple of Half Price Books locations in my area, and they had a GIANT clearance sale at the convention center, where everything was $2 or less. So, I absolutely HAD to go. And--unsurprisingly--I found several books! Surprisingly, only half were YA, and the other half were adult or chick-lit. 

8. Shopaholic Ties the Knot BOTH by Sophie Kinsella
9. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
10. The Devil Wears Prada by Laura Weisberger 
11. Sirensong (Faeriewalker #3) by Jenna Black
12. Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson 
13. Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg 

Then I actually found a few memoir/biography/humor books by celebrities at a garage sale!

14. This Time Together by Carol Burnett

While I was at the HPB clearance sale, I almost picked up this next book, but my mom's friend said she had a copy that I could have, so I got this one for free! 

17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Then I ordered the next book from the Half Price Books marketplace online, because it was pretty much the ONLY place I could find it in the hardcover that I wanted!  

18. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

I want a matching set of Stephanie Perkins' books in paperback, so I went ahead and ordered a signed copy of this book from Malaprops Bookstore, which is Stephanie's home bookstore! 

19. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Towards the very end of the month, I finally made a trip to my Half Price Books for the first time in a month. And it was during the 20% off EVERYTHING Labor Day sale, so I found some awesome deals! 

20. F My Life (this was 50 cents on clearance, so it was 40 cents with the sale!)
21. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour 
22. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
23. Panic by Lauren Oliver

FINALLY, the last book I got was a Book Outlet find. They only had two copies, and I had wanted it for so long, so how I could I pass up a Book Outlet cheap price? 

24. Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr

So that's it! Those are all the books I bought in August. I've already started accumulating some books in September. I've started substituting, and I got the go-ahead from my mom to spend some of my first paycheck, so of COURSE I spent it on TV shows and books. What can I say? I have a little bit of a problem...

Tell me: what books did YOU buy/receive in the month of August? Let me know in the comments below! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Birthdays! -- September 16th, 2014

Today I'm starting a new feature--at least, new to this blog. I'll be celebrating the book birthdays of the YA new releases each week! Today, several great YA releases came out, so let's get started!

*Note: when celebrating birthdays for books in a series other than Book 1, I will not list the summary, in the interest of avoiding spoilers. If you've read the first books in the series, or are just insanely curious, follow the book title link to the Goodreads page to read the summary there!


Author: Stefanie Gaither

Summary: When Cate Benson was a kid, her sister, Violet, died. Two hours after the funeral, Cate's family picked up Violet's replacement. like nothing had happened. Because Cate's parents are among those who decided to give their children a sort of immortality--by cloning them at birth--which means this new Violet has the same smile. The same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all of the same memories as the girl she replaced. 

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school. 

At least, that's what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She's used to defending her sister, too. But Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Because Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true. 

In a thrilling debut, Stefanie Gaither takes readers on a nail-biting ride through a future that looks frighteningly similar to our own time and asks: how far are you willing to go to keep your family together? 

Author: Jandy Nelson

Summary: Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways...until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else--an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they'd have a chance to remake their world. 

Series Starter

Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Series: Untitled #1

Summary: The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding--and what it truly means to dream there. 

Series Enders

Title: Echoes of Us
Author: Kat Zhang
Series: Hybrid Chronicles #3

Author: Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Series: Burn for Burn #3

So that's it for this week! I've read the first two Hybrid Chronicles books, so I'm super excited for the conclusion to the trilogy. And I own the first two Burn for Burn books but haven't read them yet, so now I'll be able to marathon the entire series! (Is anyone else annoyed by the slight cover change for the Han & Vivian books? I LOVE the original covers...)


The Fault in Our Stars, the film adaptation of the book by John Green, is releasing on DVD this week! If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Go buy it, rent it, borrow it...just go check it out!

Starring: Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort

Tell me: are YOU excited for any of these new releases? Let me know in the comments below! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner

Author: James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Summary: If you ain't scared, you ain't human. 

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone. 

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade. 

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive. 

Everything is going to change. 

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. 

Remember. Survive. Run. 

Why I read it: This series has been on my radar for quite some time now, having made a splash in the YA community--enough of a splash to warrant a published, full-length prequel to the trilogy. And with the movie coming out later this week, I wanted to give it a shot before I saw the movie. (And I'm going to see the movie. I've seen every YA movie adaptation in theaters in the year 2014 so far, and I'm not going to break that streak now.) Plus, I just genuinely enjoy dystopian books. 

Thoughts: After hearing most of the booktube community complain about this book, I finally know why. This is not, by any means, the worst book I've ever read. Not ever close. It is not uninteresting, nor is it unoriginal. It is just not fantastically written. 

James Dashner's story of a boy waking up in a strange place with no memory of his previous life is intriguing. I wanted to know more. If anything, the book kept me guessing, kept me invested in the story until almost the very end. 

My real criticisms of this book lie in two main problems: the characters, and the writing. 

Thomas, our main character, falls flat on the page. His characterization is obviously hindered by his memory loss, but he still fails to develop much of a personality throughout the book. He is very much simply a stand-in for the reader. He seems to be good at everything. He oftentimes "just knows" something is about to happen. He is very much a Gary Stu. 

The other characters fare a little better, but still lack big, distinct personalities for the most part. My favorite characters ended up being Newt and Chuck, the two boys with the most evident personalities. (By the way, did anyone else ship Alby and Newt? Dashner totally missed an opportunity there...)

Dashner's writing also suffers from a severe case of "tell-don't-show." Major plot points happen because Thomas remembers something, or discovers something, which leads to lengthy monologues or conversations that move the plot along, rather than real bouts of action. Cliches also abound, the phrase "I forgot to breathe" making several appearances throughout. There is also a bit of insta-love, though it's not a main focus of the story. 

Most readers will also spot the plot twist in the epilogue from a mile away, especially since all three books in the trilogy have been published. I know I did. 

The story here really is engaging, and with a different main character, may have been even fantastic. I will continue with the series, with the hopes that it gets better. (Even though I've heard the contrary...) It's not in my blood to abandon a series, so I will soldier on. Just not this month. 

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Tell me: have YOU read The Maze Runner? If so, let me know in the comments below if you did or did not like it! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Film Review: IF I STAY

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley
Release date: August 22nd, 2014

If you've been reading my blog, you know that I recently read If I Stay by Gayle Forman to prepare for the movie. You can read my review of the book here, if you're into that sort of thing. If you want the quick and dirty, I rated it a 4 out of 5 stars.

Let me tell you, I loved the movie even more.

It's rare that a book reader prefer the movie adaptation to the original book, but that is completely the case for me here. As I've said, I enjoyed the book, but didn't completely connect to it emotionally, and so didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. But the movie is a different story.

The basic structure of the story is unchanged from the novel to the film. It still bounces back and forth between the present and flashbacks, and it all interweaves beautifully. The only difference here is the start of the story. In the novel, we start out almost immediately with a bang, beginning only a few pages before the big accident, the inciting incident for the entire novel. In the movie, we are treated to a small bit of backstory before it happens, giving us a little more emotional attachment from the get-go.

The performances by Chloë Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley are spot-on for the characters. Chloë's Mia is unassuming, yet snarky; confident, yet hesitant. Perfect Mia. And Jamie Blackley...

I could go on for days about how absolutely PERFECT Jamie Blackley is as Adam Wilde. Seriously. He was BORN for the role. He IS Adam Wilde. 

The supporting characters are amazing, too. I especially enjoyed Mireille Enos as Mia's mother, though it was Stacy Keach's performance as Mia's grandfather that really stole the show toward's the end of the movie. 

The increased emotional attachment to the characters in the movie derived from the fact that Mia's character is just more emotional in the movie, which was the biggest thing I thought the book was lacking. 

And yes, I did cry. I did not cry when I read the book, but I cried like a baby at the movie, and so did my mom and dad. 

In all honesty, the ONLY thing that bothered me was the fact that Shooting Star was renamed for the movie...to Willamette Stone. Wait, what? And it's never really even discussed. I didn't even realize the band's name was different until halfway through the movie, when I realized that the name was on the drumset. It was, in my opinion, confusing and unnecessary. 

All in all, I absolutely loved it. I appreciated the fact that not only did the movie stay true to the book--in both feeling and storyline--but it also contained a great deal of dialogue pulled straight from the book. And it's that kind of attention to detail that made this book-to-movie-adaptation a success in my book.(Get it? Book? Yeah, that was punny.)  I definitely recommend it for both fans of the book, and fans of general tear-inducing movies. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tell me: have YOU seen If I Stay yet? If so, what did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (6): THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Release date: January 13th, 2015

Summary: Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they're destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she's found the thing she's been made for. 

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. 

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. 

Until one day, he does...

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough? 

Thoughts: Where do I start? First of all, there is a HUGE dash of fairy tale in this summary. Knights and bards and faeries and a glass coffin in the woods. I'm a total sucker for fairy tale retellings, and ESPECIALLY original fairy tales, which sounds like this book. Also, the town of Fairfold reminds me a bit of Wall, the town from Stardust. And though I haven't read Stardust yet, I really love the movie. 

I'm also really intrigued by the gender roles hinted at in this summary. For a book with a fairy tale feel, the gender roles seem to be flipped and twisted a bit. It's Hazel, not her brother Ben, who believed she was a knight as a child. It is a boy sleeping in the glass coffin, rather than a girl like Snow White. And BOTH Hazel and Ben were in love with the boy as children, which I absolutely love. 

I haven't read any Holly Black yet (I know, blasphemous!), but I've heard her name come up SO many times in the booktube community, and I'm also really interested in reading her new middle grade series collaboration with Cassandra Clare. So I'm starting to think that Holly Black's books are right up my alley, and I can't wait to give this one a try. 

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (5): MORE HAPPY THAN NOT

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Author: Adam Silvera
Release date: June 16th, 2015

Summary: Happiness shouldn't be this hard...

When it first gets announced, the Leteo Institute's memory-alteration procedure seems to good to be true to Aaron Soto -- miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. Aaron can't forget how his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. He has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough. 

Then Thomas shows up. He doesn't mind Aaron's obsession over the Scorpius Hawthorne books and has a sweet movie set-up on his roof. There are nicknames. Aaron's not only able to be himself, but happiness feels easy with Thomas. The love Aaron discovers may cost him what's left of his life, but since Aaron can't suddenly stop being gay Leteo may be the only way out...

Thoughts: Adam Silvera semi-recently joined the ranks of wonderful people over at Pub(lishing) Crawl, a blogging site that has also been home to Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, Amie Kaufman, Kat Zhang, Alexandra Bracken, and Leigh Bardugo, so Adam is in VERY good company. Since I've bought books by a LOT of Pub Crawlers and loved the ones I've read so far, I'm fairly certain I'll continue that streak with More Happy Than Not. Rather than being a cover buy (buying it only based on the attractiveness of the cover), this will be an association buy (buying because of close colleagues of the author.) 

PLUS, it was pitched as a YA Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So what else do I really need to know? 

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments below!