Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (7): Movies to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

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

So not all of these are strictly Halloween-themed because some are just straight-up horror films, but I do what I want! Scary movies always get me in the Halloween spirit. :)

Disclaimer: Not all of these movies are "great" movies, critically at least. Some of them are definite guilty pleasures. But I GREATLY enjoy all of these! Also, it was really hard to narrow this down to just ten. So I fudged a little...

10. The classics: Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. I'm lumping these all together because it's hard to put one slasher flick over the other, but these are all such classics in their own right! So I just HAD to include them. 

9. Stay Alive. This is super corny, but I still love it for some reason. It's just fun, and seeing Frankie Muniz in a scary movie? PRICELESS. 

8. The J-Horror craze: The Ring and The Grudge. For both of these movies, I love the originals AND the American remakes. After these movies came out, my mom and I got really in J-Horror for a while, and every time we were at Best Buy, we bought all the Asian horror films we could find. Some were great finds, and some were so not great, but these are the two that started it all! 

7. Zombieland. Zombies are like my FAVORITE paranormal creature. (Seriously, I own more zombie books than any other creature.) And this one has it all. Awesome zombies, tons of humor, clever dialogue, and a little bit of heart. SO GOOD. 

6. Thirteen Ghosts. I know this didn't get great reviews, but this is another one that I can watch all the time. Matthew Lillard is fabulous, and the ghosts are super awesome. And bonus: the DVD has a special feature that explains the backstory of every single ghost. Which is so awesome. 

5. Paranormal Activity. All of them. The first one, especially, was super original. It's a fairly short movie, but almost nothing happens for almost the entire movie. And then all of sudden, all hell breaks loose. And it is fantastic. And the sequels are more of the same, so it gets a little less original every time, but they're still a lot of fun. 

4. The Cabin in the Woods. JOSS WHEDON. Need I say more? Yes? Okay. This is a fantastic scary movie, but it TOTALLY turns the genre on it's head. It's scary but it is HILARIOUS. And full of attractive men. (Okay, so I'm a little shallow. It's fine.) 

3. Scream. This is a modern classic, and I still love it. Even though I know who the killer is and I've seen it a million times, I will watch it pretty much every time it's on TV. Because it's still that good! It manages to be a really great horror film while being super satirical at the same time. 

2. Oculus. This is a brand-new favorite of mine, but MAN, did this movie just get under my skin. It has the scare/jumpiness factor, but for the most part, it's a slightly quieter horror film. So much of the scary is psychological, and the non-linear structure is SO COOL. Like nothing I've seen before, and the second it ended, I knew it was one of my new favorite scary movies that I can watch over and over again. 

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is one movie that is basically a must-watch for me for both Halloween AND Christmas. It's definitely part of my childhood, and it just wouldn't be either holiday season without this movie. So it gets the number one slot! 

Tell me: what are YOUR favorite Halloween or scary movies? Let me know in the comment below! 

Book Birthdays! -- October 28, 2014


Today is a VERY exciting release day in the YA community, so let's jump right in!

*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!

Standalones

Title: Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie

Summary: Can you hear Atlantia breathing? 

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above--of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio's true self--and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden--she has nothing left to lose. 

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother's death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths. 


Series Starters

Title: Compulsion
Author: Martina Boone
Series: Heirs of Watson Island #1

Summary: Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse. 

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt's South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. 

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn't what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead. 



Title: Talon 
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Talon #1

Summary: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser. 

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. 

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons. 


Series Enders

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds #3



Tell me: what new releases will YOU be buying immediately? Let me know in the comments below! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (8): ALL FALL DOWN

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine


Title: All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row #1
Release date: 

Summary: Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things: 

1. She is not crazy. 
2. Her mother was murdered. 
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay. 

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her--so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door who is keeping an eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands. 

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace--no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. 

Her past has come back to hunt her...and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world all stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down. 

Thoughts: I have read the first three books in Ally Carter's Heist Society series, and absolutely loved them. They are the perfect mix of contemporary and adventure. And they're so wonderful because the situations may be crazy out there, but the characters are so real and relatable, even when they're doing the unimaginable. What I love the most about Carter's books are that they are just so much FUN, even when the plot may be a little serious. So I can't wait to pick this new series up! 

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this week? And have you read any Ally Carter books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (6): Top New Series I Want to Start


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

1. The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

I have been pining for this book for SO LONG. And if you saw my new unboxing video, then you know that I just placed a Book Outlet order revolving entirely around getting this book. So I finally have it in my possession, and hopefully will actually be getting to it soon, in time for the second book to release! 





2. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I'll be totally honest. When this book first came out, my mom kept seeing it and asking "Does it sound good? Should we get it?" And I was super "meh" about it. And I DON'T KNOW WHY. It sounds so awesome, and it has gotten so many rave reviews. Since the sequel just came out, I'm know DYING to know what all the hype was about! 





3. The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney

Dude. This book is a YA, dark, SUPERHERO series. I am SO there. Since I wrote my "Favorite TV Shows" post, you should know how much I love superheroes. Another clue? My favorite blanket is a Spider-Man blanket that we found in the kid's bedding aisle at Walmart. Yep. Definitely want to read this series! 





4. The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

I honestly hadn't even heard of this book at all until it was being raved about on booktube. And I listened! I've heard great things about this book, so I'd like to read it as soon as possible, to get a jump start on this series! 







5. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I own the first book and my mom has read it, but I haven't gotten around to it. YET. But it sounds absolutely amazing! 








6. Starbound by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

There is no end to the praise of this book, and with the second book being released later this year, I feel like it's definitely time for me to buy this book and get into this series! 







7. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd 

The third book comes out soon, and these sound SO COOL. Retellings of classic literary stories? I LIVE for that kind of thing. Retellings are where it's at. 







8. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Another book that I hadn't heard much about until booktube. Some people have really loved it, and I keep seeing it at Half Price Books. With the second book's cover being revealed recently, I'm getting more and more intrigued! 






9. Reboot by Amy Tintera

This is only a duology, so it's definitely something I'm interested in picking up and marathoning through. And it has SUCH a cool concept. Totally dying for this one! 







10. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

My mom and I are total horror buffs. We love every horror movie: slasher, ghosts, vampires, aliens, disease, possession...you name it, we are there. I've heard really awesome things about this creepy read, so it sounds like something we would both enjoy! 


Tell me: what new series do YOU want to read? Be sure to check out the Broke and the Bookish for their post, as well as the Linky to other Top Ten Tuesday posts! 

Book Birthdays! -- October 21, 2014


Time for another book birthday round-up! This week, there are too many new BIG releases, so this should be short and sweet! 

*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! 

Standalones 

Author: Natalie C. Parker

Summary: It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp--the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed. 

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance--and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her. 


Series Continuers

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements #2








Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3



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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Favorite TV Shows

I'm almost finished with Shiver, so I'll have another review up soon. But for today, I thought I'd take a mini-break from talking about books and talk about something else I'm completely obsessed with: TV shows! I have about 50 TV shows on my Netflix queue, and I watch probably way too much TV live, but I absolutely love it! And I'm always discovering new shows to check out. Today, I'm just going to mention a few of my absolute FAVORITES, and a couple new shows that have already captured my heart.


Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I'm a diehard fan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so of COURSE I was going to make the jump to the TV show when it started last year. And when I realized it was a Mutant Enemy show (which is Joss Whedon's production company), I knew I would absolutely love it. While Joss is not actually the showrunner, his brother and sister-in-law are, and it has all the hallmarks of a Whedon production: twisty plots, loveable characters, and ridiculously snappy dialogue. It's so much fun to see who from the MCU will make fantastic cameos in the show, both in person and just in reference. It's also great to see how the show and the movies get tied to each other. Last year, the show and the MCU became inextricably twined together, with the show foreshadowing the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the movie having huge plot ramifications on the show. I've always been desperate to see the movies as soon as they released in theaters, but watching this show has made seeing the movies on opening weekend almost a necessity, and I'm totally okay with that. 

Once Upon a Time: Fairy tale retellings are pretty much where it's at, and I've been obsessed with this show since before it even started. I love the way this show twists all of the most familiar tales into this amazing mythology specific to the show. For instance, Rumplestiltskin is not only the land's most dangerous sorcerer, but he is also Captain Hook's crocodile, as well as the Beast to Belle's beauty. I've loved their take on the Wicked Witch, and though I was wary of how they'd pull it off, I am, so far, very intrigued with season four's Frozen storyline. Also, this show has no end to its swoonworthy men, featuring Sheriff Graham (*sob*), August W. Booth, Prince Charming, Neal Cassidy, Robin Hood and my personal favorite, Killian Jones, aka Captain Hook. This show pretty much has it all! 

Red Band Society: This one is a brand new show for the fall 2014 season, and I'm already in love with it. I was a little wary about it at first, but after watching the first episode, I knew I was hooked. The show has so much heart, obviously, but it's also funny as hell, thanks in great part to Octavia Spencer's fabulously snarky Nurse Jackson. All of the kids are fabulous, and of course I love Dave Annable. This is one new show that I just can't wait to tune into every week! 

Doctor Who: Confession: I just became a Whovian last year. But in that year, I watched all seven seasons of the new series, catching up in time to watch the 50th anniversary special live with the rest of the world. And God, do I love it now. I cried, I laughed, I gasped. I just couldn't stop watching it. I've been horrible at keeping up with this season (Saturday nights are usually spent watching movies, not TV), but I've got On Demand, so I can catch up whenever I've got time! Confession 2: Christopher Eccleston is MY Doctor. As much as I adore David and Matt (and Peter, at least in the two episodes I've seen so far), I will always have a special spot in my heart for the leather jacket-wearing Doctor who brought the series back. (The first series finale KILLED ME. Buckets of tears.) 

Scandal: This should come as no shock. Many people love Scandal. I am just one in the crowd. Though you may be shocked to hear that I ship Jake and Olivia, not Fitz and Olivia. I love Fitz, but once Jake came in the picture, I was all over it. Also, this show has made me absolutely loathe the state of Vermont. 

How to Get Away With Murder: This is another new show for the fall 2014 season, but it's a Shonda Rhimes show, and since I love Scandal so much, obviously I was going to tune in for Viola Davis. Also, Dean Thomas (Harry Potter), Officer Bennett (Orange is the New Black), and Paris Gellar (Gilmore Girls) are all on this show about lawyers and murder. How could I NOT love it?

The Mindy Project: Last spring, I discovered my love for this show. That means that I missed the first season and a half, but I'm totally hooked. I love Mindy Kaling and her sense of humor, and DANNY CASTELLANO. Chris Messina is seriously perfect on that show. His dance to Aaliyah's "Try Again" was one moment in TV last year that I literally replayed at least a dozen times. Here, just watch it. You'll fall in love with Danny Castellano, too. 


American Horror Story: I only joined this show during the second season, Asylum, but man it is SO GOOD. My mom and I are horror buffs, so a show like this was right up our alley. I love that every season is different, so we get a complete story every year. I also adore the actors on the show. Jessica Lange is a goddess, and Evan Peters is so wonderful (and adorable.) Freak Show started last week, and I'm loving it so far! 

Haven: Why is that Syfy Original Movies are SO BAD, but their shows are SO GOOD? One of my professors watches Haven, and my mom loves Stephen King, so I decided to start this show on Netflix earlier this spring. I flew through the first three seasons in a few weeks, then the fourth season released on Netflix in August, just in time to marathon it before the fifth season started. Now we're in the middle of season five, and it's still so good. I've always loved Eric Balfour. And I have shipped Audrey and Nathan for SO LONG. This show plays on all my feels so well. 

So that's just a FEW of the shows I love so much. If any of these interest you at all, I definitely recommend giving them a shot! Most of the earlier seasons can be found on Netflix streaming, too. 

Tell me: do YOU watch any of the shows mentioned above? Or what other shows do you watch that you recommend I try? Let me know in the comments below! 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers

Title: This is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers

Summary: It's the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won't stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn't sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she's failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she's forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group's fate is determined less and less by what's happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life--and death--inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to? 

Why I read it: I've heard so many great things about Courtney Summers books, and especially This is Not a Test. So when I made my rather large Book Outlet order and saw this on the site, I knew I had to pick it up. Since it's got zombies, I decided it would be a perfect October read!

Thoughts: I totally understand why everyone loves Courtney Summers so much.

I had high expectations for This is Not a Test, and it fulfilled every one of them. This book has been described as The Breakfast Club with zombies, and I can see that. I've also heard from many a reviewer that this is not really a "zombie book." It's more like a contemporary that just happens to have zombies in it. I honestly think it's a bit of both. I'm having a really hard time putting my feelings into words here.

I really can't go into too much detail on plot or characters because it's a book best read blind. Read it without knowing too much, and just let the words speak for themselves.

However, I do love the characters. All six survivors in the high school, Sloane included, have such a variety of motivations and personality quirks that make them all different. And none of them are purely good or bad. Courtney's teenage characters are extremely realistic, each one having both their own strengths and flaws.

And the writing is marvelous. As I said above, I think this is both a contemporary book AND a zombie book. The heart of the book is the character development for all six characters--especially Sloane--but that doesn't mean that Courtney skimps on the action scenes. Every time the main characters interacted with the dead had me on the edge of my seat.

After I finished this book, I had to go back and read the last few pages again a few times, and really let it all sink in. This is definitely one of those books that make you think, and it's so wonderful and heartbreaking.

Oh, and Courtney is releasing an e-novella sequel in January, titled Please Remain Calm. I am literally jumping up and down in anticipation of another glimpse at this world.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read This is Not a Test? What were your thoughts? 
AND have you read any other Courtney Summers books? If so, which was your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Birthdays! -- October 14, 2014


It's Tuesday, which means it's release day! And we can't catch a break this month on all the awesome new releases!

*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!

Anthologies

Authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Pena, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White

Summary: Read if you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by Stephanie Perkins (who also contributes a story!). 



Standalones

Author: Kelsey Macke

Summary: Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters' story. Those girls don't get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing. 

Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after--in fact, she doesn't think they are possible. Ever since her mother's death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an "emotionally disturbed" special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status. 

When Imogen's new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she's been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace--the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant--aren't enough to save her from the pain this time. 

While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story. 

And maybe even find herself a happily ever after. 



Author: R.C. Lewis

Summary: Princess Snow is missing. 

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back--but that's assuming she wants to return at all. 

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperature on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines. 

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid. 

In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets...and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy's future--and her own--in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival. 


Series Starters

Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #1

Summary: A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making. 

Sixteen years ago, the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter's magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since. 

Orphaned as an infant during Winter's defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians' general, Sir. Training to be a warrior--and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather--she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again. 

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket than can restore Winter's magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she's scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she's always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn't go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics--and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own. 

Series Enders

Title: Undivided
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Unwind Dystology #4









Title: Clariel
Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #4









After much deliberation, I've finally decided to pick up the UK edition of My True Love Gave To Me. Both covers are wonderful! But the UK edition has pretty pink page edges, and a ribbon, too! Maybe eventually I'll pick up the US edition as well! 

Also, it's been such a good couple of months for fairytale retellings. Two came out this week alone! Which fairytale retellings have been your favorite? 

Tell me: what books will YOU be picking up this week? Let me know in the comments below! 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Series Review: THE SECRET CIRCLE by LJ Smith


Series title: The Secret Circle
Book titles: 
1. The Initiation
2. The Captive
3. The Power
Author: L.J. Smith

Summary: THE CIRCLE'S POWER HAS LURED HER HOME...

Forced to move from sunny California to gloomy New England, Cassie longs for her old life. Even so, she feels a strange kinship to a terrifying group of teens who seem to rule her school. Initiated into the coven of witches that's controlled New Salem for hundreds of years, she's drawn into the Secret Circle, a thrill that's both intoxicating and deadly. But when she falls for the mysterious and intriguing Adam, Cassie must choose whether to resist temptation or risk dark forces to get what she wants--even if it means that one wrong move could ultimately destroy her. 

Why I read it: This series was adapted into a TV show a few years ago by the CW, which is also home to The Vampire Diaries, another LJ Smith adaptation series. Unfortunately, the show didn't do as well as hoped, and it was cancelled after one season. Last year, I decided to watch that season on Netflix an absolutely fell in love with it. So when I realized that the season ended on a cliffhanger, I decided to read the books to find out what happens. 

Thoughts: The books are COMPLETELY different from the show. The changes pretty much happen from page one, so I still don't know what would have happened on the show. 

What a shame that is, because the story the show was telling was MUCH more compelling than the one LJ Smith told. And almost the entire main plot of these THREE books made it into the first season of the show. Which means that the show had SO MUCH POTENTIAL for the future. I am so sad it's over. 

I know that LJ Smith has a lot (A LOT) of fans, especially of her Vampire Diaries series. But I can't say that I love her as an author. At all. 

The plot is super contrived, which isn't always a bad thing. After all, the main premise is the same in the books and the show, and the show totally makes it work. First, we have the "special and she didn't know it" trope. Cassie is a witch, but she has never known about her heritage. Then we have the "love at first sight" AND the "true love/soulmates" trope. Cassie and Adam feel a strange connection to each other the very first time they meet, and the second time they see each other, Cassie tells him that she loves him. *eye roll*

Almost all of the characters are extremely one-dimensional, and play into stereotypes perfectly. We have Cassie, the Mary Sue. Then we have Adam, the perfect love interest. Diana, the purely good girl. Faye, the bad girl. And Nick, the bad boy with a heart of gold. Of all these characters, Nick is the one who intrigued me the most. He's the only one who shows any real growth, and he was totally swoonworthy to boot. 

The writing is so wooden. At the bottom of one page, two characters do the exact same thing, one line after another. Something about a smirk or a grin, but Smith uses the exact same phrase for both actions. And if I have to read another line about Faye's "honey-colored eyes" or Diana's "hair that is the color of moonlight," I may puke. 

Wow. This review is making it seem like I really hated the books. I promise, I didn't hate them. Yes, the three main aspects of a book that usually make me like it (plot, character and writing) are lacking, but I still almost liked them. It was a fun idea, even if the plot was predictable, and I had fun comparing it to the TV show. 

In the end, I'm glad I read the books. And if I hadn't loved the TV show so much, I might have liked the books a little better. 

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Film Review: THE BOOK THIEF


Adapted from: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Starring: Sophie NĂ©lisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Roger Allam
Release date: October 3, 2013

DISCLAIMER: I have not yet read this book. But my mom just finished reading it and requested that we watch the movie. So I cannot compare the movie to the book. Yet. What I can do, is simply share a few of my thoughts on the movie alone. 

The Book Thief tells the story of a young girl, Liesl, who is adopted by a German couple during World War II. This being a WWII story, I immediately knew that it would be an emotional watch. 

I fell in love with the characters. Liesl is a tenacious little girl, terrified by the war and the unknown, and still brave in the face of every bad thing happening around her. Her developing relationships are really at the center of the book and her journey. Her new father is a kind, warm man who teaches her how to read, and her new mother is a stern, scowling woman with a hidden soft spot. Seeing how her relationships with both parents grow is one of the great joys in the story. 

Her relationship with Max is also engaging, and the snowball fight made me laugh with so much joy in the middle of so much heartbreak. 

It is hard for me to discuss this movie without too many spoilers, so I will simply say this. This is one of the rare instances in which I may be glad that I watched the movie before I read the book, because I'm positive I enjoyed this movie much more than my mom did. Since she had just finished the book, she couldn't help but compare every part to what she had just read, and I think it diminished the experience for her, if only a little bit. 

I, on the other hand, had very few real expectations for the movie other than to be entertained and to be pulled emotionally. And I was both. The end of the movie had me sobbing, both in sadness and in joy. It was definitely a rollercoaster, but I can't definitely say that this is one movie that will stick with me for years. And it has only made me that much more excited for when I finally get around to reading the book. 

Tell me: have YOU seen OR read The Book Thief? What did you think about either the movie or the book, or both? Let me know in the comments below! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (7): FORGED

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine


Title: Forged (Taken #3)
Author: Erin Bowman
Release date: April 14, 2015

I won't put the summary here since it is the third book in a trilogy, but I am SO excited for the final installment in the Taken series! I read Taken early this spring, and Frozen this summer and just fell in love with the world and the characters and the intense plot. This is definitely a series that hasn't gotten enough love in my opinion, but I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a fun, original dystopian! 

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Birthdays! -- October 7th, 2014


It's Tuesday, and you know what that means, don't you? It's a happy book birthday to a few new awesome books!

*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!

Standalones

Title: The Fall
Author: Bethany Griffin

Summary: Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin. 

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline's life--revealed through short bursts of memory--has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house. 

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? 

Buy here: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Book Depository


Author: Beth Revis
(Actual release date: October 6th, 2014. Yesterday!) 

Summary: The future world is at peace. 

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift--the ability to enter people's dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother--to help others relieve their happy memories. 

But not all is as it seems. 

Ella starts seeing impossible things--images of her dead father, warning of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a revel group, using her ability to experience--and influence--the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love--even though Ella's never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing...

Someone's altered her memory. 

Ella's gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn't even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella's head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings. 

So who can she trust? 



Author: Julie Cross

Summary: Life loves a good curveball...

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own--most of which involve placing first at every track meet...and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher. 

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school "brats" who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough of her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love. 

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart...


Series Starters


Title: Lailah
Author: Nikki Kelly
Series: The Styclar Saga #1

Summary: The girl knows she different. She doesn't ago. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams--a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name of Gabriel. 

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from a unlikely ally--a rogue Angel, named Gabriel. 

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name. Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom? 

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is. 



Author: Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan #1

Summary: Forced to obey her master. 
Compelled to help her enemy. 
Determined to free herself. 

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she's now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters' every command. She'd give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle. 

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna's revolution and Nalia's sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother--all for an unbearably high price. Nalia's not sure she can trust him, but Raif's her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There's just one catch: for Raif's unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle...and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it? 


Series Continuers 


Title: The Invisible
Author: Amelia Kahaney
Series: Brokenhearted #2








Series Enders


Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus #5









Also released today is The Young Elites by Marie Lu! I posted a review for this book yesterday, so if you want to learn more, go check out the previous post!

The Body Electric is Beth Revis's self-published standalone that takes places on Earth while Amy and Elder are having their adventures on the Godspeed in her Across the Universe trilogy. I ordered my Limited Edition signed copy from Malaprops this summer (of which there were only 300), and those are sold out now. But you can still order a Special Edition copy from the above links. Do it! Support Beth in her self-publishing endeavor. 

If you didn't know it already, I live in the Kansas City area. And I think it's amazing that Julie Cross's book that heavily features the Royals is being released just after we've made it to the ALCS! (Blue October!) So I'll be very interested to see how KC comes across in Whatever Life Throws at You

Finally, don't kill me, but I STILL haven't started reading any of Rick Riordan's books. But I really want to! Hopefully I'll be getting the next paperback boxset of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series for Christmas, so next year I can FINALLY start. 

Tell me: what new release are YOU the most excited about? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu

Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #1
Summary: I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside. 

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina's black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family's good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever's survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars--they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites. 

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it's Terren who may possess the darkest secret of all. 

Enzo Vlenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them beefore the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they've never seen. 

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn't belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her. 

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt. 

Why I read it: I absolutely adored Marie Lu's Legend trilogy. I marathoned all three at the end of February and into March, and just couldn't put them down. Champion made me cry. So I fell in love Marie Lu's writing and when I heard she had a new fantasy series beginning this year, I did a little happy dance and featured it on a Waiting on Wednesday post a couple months ago. Then I won an ARC copy from a blog giveaway and got the opportunity to read it before it comes out! 

Thoughts: I finished this last week and had to take a few days to really process my thoughts on this book. Usually I know my rating for a book immediately when I finish it, but I really needed to sort through my feelings on The Young Elites before I rated and reviewed it. 

That said, I think I loved it. 

Our main character, Adelina, is one of the most complicated characters I've ever read, especially as a main POV character. She has been through hell in her sixteen years, so her dark tendencies and sometimes morbid fantasies are often understandable. And though Adelina does terrible things in this book, she remains, if not relatable, at least empathetic the entire time. Marie Lu has explained The Young Elites as almost a villain origin story, and having read the book, I totally understand where she is coming from now. 

The other characters are similarly gray morally. Certain characters are easier to love than others, but they are all complex and intriguing. Enzo and Teren obviously play huge roles in the story, but other characters make just as much impact. Raffaele, for example, is such a mystery. He quickly became one of my favorite characters, but by the end of the novel, it's obvious that there is more to him than we have even seen yet. The other Daggers and Adelina's sister, Violetta, round out this marvelous cast. 

The writing, as expected, was beautiful. Lu takes inspiration from Renaissance-era Italy for her Adelina's country of Kennetra, and it makes for such a rich, beautiful setting, and the bits of fantasy woven in really stand out. The baliras were one of my favorite small details, because they sound SO COOL. 

There is only one thing that really bothered me about the book, and it's something small that doesn't diminish my affection for the book. Most of the book is written in first-person POV from Adelina's perspective. But every once in a while, we get a chapter from Enzo, Raffaele, or Teren's POV, but they are written in third-person so that Adelina can remain the only first-person POV. While I understand the choice, it is a bit distracting because if we are meant to be in Adelina's head the entire time, we shouldn't have access to these scenes and/or thoughts in the first place. And honestly, many of these scenes seemed extraneous anyway, with the information gleaned during these chapters being revealed to Adelina again later. I think it would have had more impact if we had learned this information along with Adelina later on, rather than knowing it before her. 

Other than that, I loved this book, and I think the series has the potential to get even better in the second and third books! 

This book releases TOMORROW, 10/7/14, so definitely go pick it up and give this new fantasy series a shot! 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Tell me: do YOU plan on picking up The Young Elites? And if you read the Legend trilogy, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below! 




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: PROM by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Prom
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Summary: High school senior Ashley Hannigan doesn't care about prom, but she's the exception. It's pretty much the only good thing at her urban Philadelphia high school, and everyone plans to make the most of it--especially Ash's best friend, Natalia, who's the head of the committee. Then the faculty advisor is busted for taking the prom money, and Ash suddenly finds herself roped into putting together a gala dance out of absolutely nada. But she has help--from her large and loving (if exasperating!) family, from Nat's eccentric grandmother, from her fellow classmates. And in putting the prom together, Ash learns that she has choices about her life after high school. 

Why I read it: I really enjoyed Anderson's Speak, and I found this book at the Half Price Books clearance sale for a dollar, so I picked it up. Then I wanted to read one more book in August, and this was one of the shortest books I owned, so I knew I could finish it in just a couple of days.

Thoughts: It's cute. It is nowhere near the quality of Speak, but it was an enjoyable read.

In the beginning, I was caught off guard by the vocabulary of the main character and her speech patterns, which extended to the narration because we are in first-person POV. Ash lives in Philadelphia and does not live in the best neighborhood, but I wasn't expecting the slang and slight dialect that I encountered. I gradually got used to it, but I was a little off-put at first, sadly.

Once I got into it, however, it was a super quick, easy read. Everything is pretty straightforward and happens pretty much how you expect it to. There are no tricks here, no twists. It's kind of a Philadelphia-Cinderella story.

Some of the characters are fun. I love Natalia and her grandmother, who live next door to Ash. And Ash's family seems so real, with a father who takes on too many home projects and a mother who is semi-stuck in the 80's.

It's predictable. But I did end up rooting for Ashley in the end, and the book had a satisfying conclusion. In fact, the last sixty or so pages were my favorite part.

Prom is a fluffy, straightforward contemporary. So if you're looking for something super quick and light to read that won't stress you out at all, you may want to give it a try. But it's not something I would outright recommend to people. Only read it if you need a palate cleanse or a short, sweet book.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read any of Laurie Halse Anderon's books? If you've read more than one, which was your favorite? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: HEIR OF FIRE by Sarah J. Maas

*WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS for books 1 and 2* 
Proceed at your own peril. 

Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Summary: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien's only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan's Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King's Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan's biggest threat--and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love? 

Why I read it: Are you kidding me? You're joking, right? IT'S A THRONE OF GLASS NOVEL. Of course, I'm going to read it. I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING.

My thoughts: OH MY GOD. Seriously, it's really hard for me to put my feelings for this series into words. It is the sole reason I really got into YA epic fantasy. I've always loved dystopian, sci-fi, paranormal stories, but for some reason, I had never really read much high fantasy before Throne of Glass. And it was a total awakening.

Now remember, this review is going to be TOTALLY spoiler-y for the first two books in the series. There's really no other way. But I will not be spoiling HoF for you. Onward!

As usual, I just adored this book. Sarah J. Maas may not have the most lyrical of prose, but she weaves the most intriguing and emotionally complex stories I've ever read. Her characters are so well-developed, and the plot lines are complex and layered. I am never bored reading a Sarah J. Maas book.

We find Celaena in Wendlyn, where she is still grieving over Nehemia's death (and Chaol's role in it.) She journeys to meet with her Fae aunt Maeve, whom she believes has the answers to the problem of the wyrdkeys. Her journey in this book is all about finding herself again, and reconnecting to the Fae part of her that she has long suppressed since she was Aelin, a child and princess of Terrasen. And she has a new acquaintance to help her do it.

Rowan, a Fae warrior who is distant cousins with Celaena, is tasked with training Celaena. Rowan is all growls and bared teeth, and I absolutely love him. He matches Celaena like no one else, and the dynamic between them is a palpable chemistry, albeit not a romantic one. I SUPER appreciate the fact that Rowan is not presented as a new love interest for Celaena.

Back in Adarlan, we are also following two more plotlines. First, the story taking place in Rifthold is told by Chaol, Dorian and two new POV characters, Sorscha and Aedion. Sorscha is a young healer in the castle who is in love with Dorian, and Aedion is Aelin's cousin who is now a general in the King's army.

Sorscha was the one POV I really didn't care much for. Honestly, she never seemed that important to the plot and the few times we were in her head were not all that interesting. I'm hoping, with the events that happened at the end of the book, that we will see her significance more in the next book, but she is still one of my least favorite characters in the series.

Aedion, on the other hand, is deliciously complex. I can't say too much without giving things away, but suffice it to say that I loved his character development throughout the novel.

I obviously still love Chaol and Dorian. (And I still totally ship Chaolena. Just sayin'.) Chaol must decide where his true loyalties lie, and Dorian must come to terms with his understanding and control over his newfound magic.

And finally, we have the last storyline, and my absolute favorite new character. Manon Blackbeak is an Ironteeth Witch of the Blackbeak clan, and she is FABULOUS. The Ironteeth Witches are called to the Ferian Gap to train to become a new army for the King, by taking to the sky on wyverns. After Celaena, Manon may be my favorite character of the whole series. If you've read the book, you know exactly how fantastic she really is.

It's really hard to do reviews for middle books in series. But if you take anything away from this review, just know that this book is amazing. The series just gets better and better as it goes, and if it continues this way, then the sixth and last book may just be the death of me.


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (if I could give it more, I would.)

Tell me: have YOU read Heir of Fire yet? If so, let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are and who your favorite new character is!