Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Check Up

It's time to take a look at the season TBR piles I made this year to see how many of those books I actually read.

Book Resolutions:
1. Divergent by Veronica Roth
2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
3. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
5. Jane Eyre by Emily Bronte
6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
7. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
8. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl
9. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
10. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Honorable mentions:
Matched by Ally Condie
Legend by Marie Lu
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Spring:
1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
2. Legend by Marie Lu
3. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
5. Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
6. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
8. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
9. Matched by Ally Condie
10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Summer:
1. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
2. Prodigy by Marie Lu
3. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
5. The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
6. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
7. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl
8. Ready Player One by Ernist Cline
9. Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
10. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
11. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Fall:
1. Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro
2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
3. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
4. Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
5. The Bermudez Triangle Maureen Johnson
6. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
9. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
10. Dragonflight by Anne MaCaffery

14/35 books read = 40% of the books that I put on those list got read. Not bad, I'm going to shoot a little high for next year.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read in 2013

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

There is no order to this.  It's hard for me to put lists like this in an order.  It's like asking someone to pick a favorite child, you can't. Well, I imagine you can't, or at the very least you shouldn't and if you do, you should never write it down or say it out loud.

1. Anna and the French Kiss/Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
2. Cinder/Scarlet by Marie Lu
3. Legend/Prodigy by Marissa Meyer
4. Warm Bodies by Issac Marion
5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
6. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
7. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
9. The Entire Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
10. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I cheated a little but I don't care.  It's my blog.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Santa Could Bring Me

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

My Christmas List:

1. Splintered by A. G. Howard - The cover of this book is gorgeous and I wouldn't mind having it on my bookshelf.

2. Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - I've read both of these but I don't own them yet.  I would love for them to sit gracefully upon one of my bookshelves.

3. Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth - I have yet to finish this trilogy but maybe having it  in my possession would change that.

4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - I am really interested in reading this series and I think the covers are really cool looking.

5. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (The 75th anniversary edition) - These are beautiful and I wouldn't mind having another set of these books hanging around.

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling - This is the only book in the series that I do not own my own copy.  It got overlooked the year my parents decided to finished my collection. I'd love to have a completed set.

7. Legend, Prodigy and Champion by Marie Lu - I really enjoy this trilogy so far, and would love to own the set.

8. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - I really liked this trilogy up until the very end, but it's definitely worth owning.  I read my brother's copies of the books, but I wouldn't mind owning my own.

9. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Salone - The cover on this book alone is enough for me to want to own it.

10. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - I love this movie and I just feel the need to own and read this book, even though I have heard that it is completely different from the movie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors in 2013

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 

Stephanie Perkins - It's hard to believe that I only just started reading her books this year. I feel like she's been in my radar for a long time. I'm so glad I decided to pick up both her books. I loved them and cannot wait for the next one. 

Veronica Roth - She knows how to write an engaging story that kept me wanting more. I cannot wait to finish her trilogy.

Marie Lu - This woman has a way of crafting an intense narrative and weaving in an infuriatingly brilliant love story that does not negate the important point of the story itself, it merely adds to it.

Marissa Meyer - It's a wonder that it took me so long to read these fairy tale retellings.  I love them and her for them.

Rick Riordan - I'd heard about the Percy Jackson books long before this year. I even saw the first movie when it came out, but I never got around to the books.  I just finished the most recent book in his mythical world. First Percy Jackson and now the Heroes of Olympus, these story lines are incredible. 

Meg Rosoff - I happened upon her by chance and I really enjoy her style of writing.  I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Leah Rae Miller - She had a great debut book mixing in the right amount of nerdy into a great read.  I am looking forward to reading more of her in the future.

Libba Bray - I've been told for years that I need to read her books and now that I've started I can't stop.

Laini Taylor - She created a world that both intrigued me and captivated me.  Her imagination is wonderful and I'm excited to read more from her.

Gayle Forman - She tells a good love story and in a unique way that is beautiful and haunting.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.


1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
2. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
4. Champion by Marie Lu
5. Matched by Ally Condie
6. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
8. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
9. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
10. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Each of these books have been on my bookshelf for quite some time, with the exception of Champion, and I'm hoping to get through them these next couple months.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Notable Quotable: F. Scott Fitzgerald (#24)





"Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead."
     --The Great Gatsby

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fever 1793

by Laurie Halse Anderson
published: Simon and Schuster, 2000
pages: 272

Mattie Cook was focused on one thing when the rumor of the fever hit: growing her family's business.  The coffee shop was situated far from the docks and the mosquitos, the seeming source of the fever. Only dock workers and others close to the docks became infected. But when the death count begins to rise and the fever spreads, people begin to evacuate Philadelphia. Mattie and her family have to make a decision to flee or to stay and take their chances. With their choice, they begin a new fight - one for their survival.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is that the story was centered on an event that actually occurred in history.  Even though most of the characters are fictional, some of them were real people trying to survive in a real yellow fever epidemic.  I find it fascinating how the world of fiction and reality collide so well in this story.

It took me a while to get into the plot of the book. I was not completely engaged until about a hundred pages into the book, which I think is quite a bit of the story for a 272 page book. I held on because I love Laurie Halse Anderson as an author and I have always enjoyed her books. That and it's a prize winning book which made me think there was something to the story that I hadn't figured out yet.

I was not drawn to the characters in this book very much, but I did really enjoy Grandfather. I thought he had the right mix of wisdom and spunk that kept Mattie going when she could have very easily given up on her journey.  I think she saw the spunk in her grandfather which allowed her stubbornness work to her advantage in parts of the book. When everything felt lost, she was able to keep going.  While I admire that, I didn't connect with her on a personal level.

The story was intriguing and I am glad I read this book, but I definitely liked some of Laurie Halse Anderson's other books better.

Stars: 3/5

Praise:

"The plot rages like the epidemic itself."
     --The New York Times Book Review

"Readers will be drawn in by the characters and will emerge with a sharp and graphic picture of another world."
     --School Library Journal

"A gripping story about living morally under the shadow of rampant death."
     --The New York Times Book Review

"A vivid work, rich with well-drawn characters."
     --VOYA

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I haven't really been looking into releases for 2014.  I've spent so much time "catching up" this year, actually, it feels like a constant uphill battle of  "catching up".  There are only four books that I am aware of that I am genuinely excited about.  I mean, there are other books that I will probably read and probably like, but I haven't read the books before it or even the first in the series, so I don't want to put them on this list.  That kind of feels like cheating.

1. Cress by Marissa Meyer - This is probably one of the books that I am looking forward to most.  I cannot wait to find out what happens next in Lunar Chronicles.

2. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - I am ready for another feel good love story with incredibly frustrating circumstances.

3. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith -  The more I think about Jennifer E. Smith, the more I realize that I enjoy her books.

4. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - I am very intrigued by this sequel, although I'm going to have to reread the book to remember everything that happened.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Recommendations to my little sisters

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

A-hem.  Grace and Gabby, I'm talking to you.
I know you have probably read a handful of these, but if it's on here that means that one of you hasn't read it.  I just hope you guys enjoy this list.

1. The Giver by loius Lowery
2. Ender's Game by Orsen Scott Card
3. Legend by Marie Lu
4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer 
5. Perks of Being a Walflower by Stephen Chbosky
6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
8. The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
9. Anna and the French Kiss/Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
10. The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
11. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
12. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
13. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
14. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
15. Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Notable Quotable: Markus Zusak (#23.5)





"A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship."
     --The Book Thief

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Covers I wish I could redesign

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


1. & 2. Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - I know the covers have been redesigned, but the first ones were the worst.  They are corny and cheesy but not in a good way.  
3. & 4. The Name of The Star and The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson. - I'm not a huge fan of these covers. The redesign with the ghost-like lettering is much better than the first try, but I would like to try my hand at designing those covers. 

These are the covers that have recently stood out to me, but seriously I would probably make the worst cover designer, unless you really like the word covers. That would probably be the most of my designs, words.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I can't wait for!


hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I've read quite a few sequels in the last couple months, but there are still so many that I can't wait to read! Yeah, I realize that most of these are already published, but it's my top ten.  

1. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor 
2. Champion by Marie Lu - I cannot wait for this book, I need to know what happens in the end!

3. & 4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (and Allegiant) - With all the hype about Allegiant, I can't help but be excited about the last two books in this trilogy.

5. Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - I really enjoyed this story and the world that it is set in, I want to dive into it again.

6. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jeniffer E. Smith - This isn't technically a sequel, but I'm looking forward to reading it.

7. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare - After the plot twist at the end of City of Bones, I'm willing to give the series another chance only because I'm holding out some hope that it was false.

8. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray - I really liked the story in the first book, and I am very interested to see what happens next to those girls.

9. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - I'll be the first to admit it, I am a sucker for Stephanie Perkins books.  I can't help it.  I read them instead of sleeping, so yeah, I'm excited about this one.

10. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Maragret Stohl  - I think I may have fallen in love a little bit with Ethan, so I'm ready to see what's in store next for those two.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaNoWriMo

Hello everyone, this is a little note explaining to you why this blog will be more bare than usual in the Month of November.  That's right I am doing NaNoWriMo, which if you don't know stands for Nation Novel Writing Month.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge/program that people all over the world do in the month of November.  The challenge is to write 50,000 words this month.  It is a difficult task, but I have done it before and I will do it once again this year.

That being said, I will be writing in most of my free time, which means I won't be reading much.  I will do my best to keep posting on this blog, but the posts will most likely not be in the form of a book review.
Never fear! In December, I will be right back on schedule posting book reviews and other things.

Anyway, if I don't see you soon, I'll see you in December!
Cheers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Madness Underneath

by Maureen Johnson
published: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2013
pages: 290

After the attack, Rory finds herself back at Wexford Academy as an experimental transition into normal life.  However, immediately following her return, she begins to learn about new mysterious deaths around campus. With her new power, the Shades need Rory more than ever and she knows it.  But when all the stress of being behind in school and tracking ghosts get to her she turns to a therapist, who may not be all that she says she is.

My main issue with this book is it felt less like it's own cohesive story and more like 290 pages of set up for the next book.  While that isn't necessarily the problem, it becomes one when the plot doesn't really stand well on it's own.  It's spooky and intense and at the same time witty and humorous, but I felt like this book was more character development for Rory than it was story for us.  I wish that it had been a bit more difficult to wrap up the mysteries that were presented to us in the beginning of the book.  But I also have this feeling that they were easy to wrap up because of something that will be explained in the next book.  There were a lot of unanswered questions and suspiciously easy cases in this novel.  My hope is that this next book will relieve my disappointment.

On the character development side of things, it was great.  I loved getting to know more about our witty, smart-ass heroine.  Even though it felt a little self-involved at some points, it's reasonable.  I mean let's be honest, if I were in her shoes I would be self-involved too.  There's also some character and relational development with Stephen, Boo and Callum.  Although, Rory's Wexford friends seem to take a backseat in this novel, the new characters and issues that pop up in this story make up for it.

There is a twist at the end of the book and I did not see coming.  I have not decided yet if I like it.  It didn't seem force, it felt very natural to the story, I just don't know if I personally like it.  Like I said before, it depends on what happens in the third book whether or not this twist is justified.

There's a lot riding on the next book in this series.  I hope it brings me everything, or at least enough of what I want.  Maureen Johnson will never cease to find and expose humor in the most intense situations, and that one of the reasons I love her writing.  I look forward to, hopefully, the most epic of endings.

Stars: 3/5

Praise:

"Creepy, clever and ambiguous second volume in the Shades of London series...As always, Johnson wield words with a supple facility that keeps those pages turning.  The London minutiae are utterly engaging, the villains satisfyingly weird and numerous.  And there is kissing."
     --Kirkus Reviews

"Rory's internal monologue sparkles with the wit that Johnson's fans (and most of Twitter) will recognize, which is plenty entertaining.  The second half will satisfy readers' craving for what they came for - Rory's investigation of London's latest ghost crimes - while laying tragic groundwork for the next book."
     --Publisher's Weekly

"Johnson's sharp wit is ever-present, and her heroine is the perfect blend of snark and teen anxiety."
     --School Library Journal

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Notable Quotable: J.K. Rowling (#23)




"Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the they we expect."
     --Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Friday, October 18, 2013

Prodigy

by Marie Lu
published: Putnam Juvenile, 2013
pages: 371

June joins Day on the most wanted list in the Republic.  They are on the run and desperately looking for help.  When the Patriots - a vigilante group - come to their aid, they agree to help with some revolutionary plans.  But can Day and June trust the Patriots or have they become just another part of the Republic's plan.

After finishing Legend, I was looking forward to finding out what happened next to June and Day.  I found myself incredibly annoyed with everyone in this book at different times, because there seemed to be no trust.  There was too much time spent trying to keep Day and June a part.  I know this added much needed tension to their relationship, but at times I just wanted to yell at everyone.  Let them be a couple.  Day and June were often their own worst enemies, so I can't blame it on other people really, just their own stupidity.

There was a little bit of a lull in the middle of the book where the pacing was not up to par with the rest of the story.  I felt like there was a lot of time spent preparing, which is sometimes necessary, but maybe not as much of it.  Now, it could be that because I was reading it is small chunks it felt slow.  It doesn't matter, really.

What it lacked in pace, it made up for in character development and action.  There was plenty of action in this story, but along with that we got to see much more of Day, June and even Tess, as well as some of the other characters we met in Legend.  We learn more about the Patriots and what they are really after.

I cannot wait for the final book in this trilogy, it's time to find out how this all ends.

Stars: 4/5 

Praise:

"Marie Lu has beaten the curse with Prodigy...it has all the chivalry of Robin Hood and all the shine and grime of Blade Runner.. The well-drawn world, political undercurrents and the believability of the characters make it all feel fresh... Lu proves that a Book 2 needn't play second fiddle, providing intrigue and deep pleasure all its own."
     --The Los Angeles Times

"Lu opts for a high simmer of intrigue in her sequel to Legend... taut and insightful."
     --Publishers Weekly

"Stunning follow-up to Legend... The thrilling action and futuristic settings are sure to please fans of Divergent."
     --Self Awareness, Starred Review

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Books: Required Reading

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Funny enough, quite a few of my required reading in school ended up being some of my favorite books.

1. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee - I read this in 9th grade and loved it!

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I read this in 10th grade and started to fall in love with it, but it wasn't until I read it again on my own that I really fell for this book.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I first read it in 7th grade, when my English teacher gave me her copy.  I then read it for school couple more times: in 12th grade and sophomore year of college.

4. Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo - I read this sophomore year of college for my Child Lit class and loved it! Who knew I could fall in love with a mouse.

5. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I read this junior year of college.  I had heard quite a bit about the book and now I understand why so many people love it.

6. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt - I also read this in my Child Lit class, sophomore year of college.  This story is a beautiful one, that I would probably never had read if it weren't for that class.

7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - In 11th grade, my English teacher gave this to me to read over Christmas break.

8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - I read this senior year of college and it introduced me to the wonderful world of Agatha Christie.


Others, though, were a much less satisfying experience.

9. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - I read this in 9th grade and oh my it was a struggle, so much so that I have nearly considered never reading another Dickens book again, ever.

10. Eragon by Christopher Paolini - I read this in college for my Child Lit class.  I think this was one of the few books in that class that disappointed me.  I wanted it to be good, but I just didn't like it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Notable Quotable: Suzanne Collins (#22)





"What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again."
     --Mockingjay

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
published: Knopf Books, 2006
Pages: 183

When Norah accepts Nick's request to be his five-minute girlfriend, she doesn't know what she is getting herself into. She doesn't know that this particular Nick is still lovesick over his three-weeks-three-days ex-girlfriend who just so happens to be the girl for whom she has a deep-seeded hatred. And she also doesn't understand why she is responsible for her drunk best friend's safety every time they go into Manhattan. All she wants is to have a good time, and is it too much to ask for that night to be tonight?

I find myself thinking that my 14-year-old self would have loved this book. It has everything I liked at that stage of life: music, romance, adventure and teenage rebellion.  Now, it has just a tad too much needless swearing for my taste. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the book, but maybe I would have liked it more with a little less tastelessness. (Although, I do get that some teens speak like that so it's natural for the characters as well.)

One of the things I really liked about this book is that it's told from two different points of view: Nick and Norah's.  Their thoughts let us know so much more about them than their actions.  We know more about both characters than they know about each other and that's something I always love. Norah specifically drew me in with her unsure inner-thoughts and tough, bad-ass demeanor.  She very clearly is three dimensional and realistic. 

David Levithan and Rachel Cohn definitely have writing chemistry. I thoroughly enjoyed how their writing weaves together to create a story through two very different people. What they learn about each other, they also learn about themselves. The combination of these two things made me like this book. 

Starts: 3/5

Praise:

"Electric sexy...and genuinely poignant, this is a compelling story of the risks and thrills of burgeoning intimacy."
     --The Bulletin, starred review

"This compulsively readable novel's... energy comes from the rapid-fire repartee between the leads.  Readers will likely enjoy the ride, even if it is obvious where these two are headed."
     --Publishers Weekly

"The wattage goes way up as two of the bright lights of contemporary writing for teens come together for an incandescent he said/she said night of storytelling."
     --Kirkus Reviews

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Worst/Best Series Endings

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


BEST:

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien:  It's a bit touch and go, but finally seeing the ring that had manipulated and destroyed so many people, dissolved is one of the greatest feelings of relief ever.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling:  Our questions are answered and we get to see Harry and Voldemort finally duel it out in the last battle.  And while there was so much death, the resolution almost  made that death bearable.

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan:  These characters have grown up in this series from 12 to 16 in the last book.  I feel a little protective of them because I've grow so attached, but we really get to see Percy, Annabeth and Grover shine in the last installment.  They come into their own and take on an impossible task.  It was just so satisfying.

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley:  This is a incredibly clever and very entertaining series that drew me in every moment.  The ending gave us a glimpse into the girls' future in a way that didn't seem tacky and unnecessary.


WORST:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Some of you might really like this ending, but I didn't.  There was just so much loss and destruction that the idea of a happy ending doesn't seem possible.  It didn't seem like Katniss chose, it seemed more like she settle for what ever was left, like after all the fighting she was still just this shell of a person, living this shell of a life.  I don't know about you, but I think this series deserved a better ending than that.

Maximum Ride by James Patterson:  I'm going to say it right here.  I don't even remember the last book in this series and I read it this past spring.  Less than a year ago.  Good books are usually memorable, but if I can't recall a single thing about it, then there's trouble.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket:  I got so invested in this series as a kid.  There were so many questions that needed to be answered and by the 13th book I was ready for them all, except we didn't really get any answers.  And the answers we did get weren't all that satisfying.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers:  I didn't even like this series, but I will say that I was absorbed thoroughly when I read them. But when I read Breaking Dawn, I literally scoffed out loud.  The entire book was gearing up for an event that never even happened.  And it wasn't like it couldn't have happened, but they decided to talk it out.  That scene just solidified my dislike for the series.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Notable Quotable: A.A. Milne (#21)



"You are braver that you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
     --Winnie the Pooh

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lola and the Boy Next Door

by Stephanie Perkins
published: Dutton, 2011
pages: 338

Lola Nolan, age 17, believes that life is more fun when you're wearing a brightly colored wig.  Her love for life extends beyond that to her family and friends and her rocker boyfriend.  She expresses herself without a care for what others think of her, that is she does until the Bell twins move back into the neighborhood and her life.  Old lifelong feelings resurface and Lola must figure out what they mean and make an attempt to reconcile them before it's too late.

I'm going to say it.  I loved this book more that Anna and the French Kiss.  I don't how it's possible, but it happened and I have no regrets. Stephanie Perkins, I give you a standing ovation because you have out done yourself.

This book was just lovely.  There are no other words to describe it. The main characters, Cricket and Lola, are so unique but completely realistic in their quirks.  I love that Lola dresses up all the time, different wigs and outfits.  She's the embodiment of the idea of everything's more fun when you're wearing a costume.  Cricket's habit of writing on his hand with black permanent marker is very interesting because it's mentioned quite frequently but not explained.  It adds to his peculiar nature.

One of my favorite things is when people make appearances from other novels.  This book is a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, but not a sequel, so I had no expectations that characters would drift between the two, but I was wrong.  Anna and St. Clair show up here and there as supporting characters to Lola and Cricket.  They reference things that happened in Paris and mention their future.  It's a brilliant way to provide a bit of closure within a greater story.  It's always fun to see what characters are up to after their story ends.

Despite the terrible cover (I like the new covers much better.), I read this book in two sittings, with the second one being the last 280 some pages.  I couldn't put it down!  I was absolutely absorbed into this story and cannot wait to get my hands on Isla and the Happily Ever After.  I can't help wonder if Lola and Cricket will show up in that book.  Either way, I want to read it now!

Stars: 5/5

Praise:

"You're going to fall in love with Lola and the Boy Next Door.  Madly in love! Every page sparkles."
     -- Sarah Mlynoski, author of Bras & Broomsticks and Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have)


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Sequels Ever

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling - The back story we get in this novel is so good.  I love that kind of thing; it gives so much insight to the characters we know and love.

2. Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan - I'm not sure if the story was any better than the first, but I love Tyson so much.  He's introduced in this book, so I have to give it some love.

3. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - I just finished this one, but I loved it.  Not only does it have a great story but it also made me very excited for the rest of the series.

4. Tales From the Hood by Michael Buckley - All The Sisters Grimm stories are cute and entertaining, but I really liked how this story played out.  There was a little bit of the Little Red Riding Hood in this book and a little bit of time travel.

5.  Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - I think that Peta and Katniss' story continues so well in this book.  I like usage of the Quarter Quell and what that means for the two victors.  I think some of the new characters are great.

6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - It's a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, which is kind of like a sequel, right?  I love this story and Bilbo and the whole cast of characters.  I think it's beautifully written and not too descriptive. (I know how Tolkien loves to make sure his readers see exactly what he sees.)

7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - Depending on which way you read them, this is a sequel.  I absolutely love this story, the wonderment of find Narnia and how Lucy draws her siblings in, making them believe.  I just love it.

8. Where She Went by Gayle Forman - I loved that the narration in this book switched from the first book.  We finally get to know what happened, If Mia survived and how everyone is handling it.

I've got a lot of sequels left to read, but I'm sure some of them will end up on this list!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Scarlet

by Marissa Meyer
published: Feiwel and Friends, 2013
pages: 454

Scarlet's grandmother is missing and nobody seems to care. But she knows that her grandma would never just leave without telling her where she's going.  Scarlet decides that if the police won't do anything, she's going to find her.  With the help of a mysterious stranger,Wolf, she finds clues about her grandmother's whereabouts and uncovers secrets that she has kept from Scarlet.  In the midst of all this, Cinder is now running for her life, unsure what to do next.  Will she fight the evil Queen Levana or will the pressure of who she is be to much to handle.

I love fairy-tale retellings in any form of media and I loved Cinder, so I had high hopes that Scarlet would be just as excellent, if not more.  And it was.  I thought the way Marissa Meyer incorporated the story of Little Red Ridding Hood was a great addition to the overall story of Luna and the Earth.  It's a little easier it hide Cinderella in a story because the rags to riches theme is quite common but Little Red Ridding Hood is very distinct and quite often very noticeable when retold.  However, Meyer hid the story quite well.  The highlights complimented the plot and did not overwhelm the story at all.

I think my only complaint about this book is in regards to the characters, in that there are so many of them.  Well, actually there aren't that many, but they all have a moment in the spotlight.  The point-of-view changed quite frequently and while that wasn't really a problem, it sometimes felt like there was too much going on.  Specifically, Scarlet and Cinder primarily split this novel, so there was less time to see Scarlet and the characters in her story develop.  Whereas, Cinder had an entire book to herself and then her story continued in this book.  This makes me curious as to how much the future books will be split and hopefully the character development will be balanced well.  But I'll have to wait for that.

That being said, I cannot wait to see what happens in the next installment.  I'm ready for more Scarlet, Wolf, Cinder, Prince Kai and the new arrivals.  I loved reading this book and I'm still incredibly impressed by the way Marissa Meyer weaves the fairy-tales into the world she has created.  I don't want to wait until February, but the anticipation is fun!

Stars: 4.5/5

Praise:

"The author has stepped up the intrigue and plot from the first novel, and readers will be eagerly awaiting the next."
     --School Library Journal

"The sci-fi elements are stronger than the fairy-tale allusions this time out, but the story remains just as absorbing...Readers will be thrilled to discover that this steampunky fairy-tale/sci-fi mashup promises two more installments."
     --BCCB

"Returning fans of Meyer's Cinder will gladly sink their teeth into this ambitious, wholly satisfying sequel."
     --Publishers Weekly, starred review

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2013 TBR List

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

There are so many book left for me to read this year, and I want to get to them all.  That being said, some of them are from previous TBR piles.  I just didn't have time to read them, but that's okay, I'm hoping to get to them this fall.

1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
2. Ready Player One by Ernist Cline
3. Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
4. My Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
5. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
6. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
9. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
10. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

The last five are from a challenge that I'm participating in so they will all get read.  The others are either books I've recently bought or ones that fulfill the criteria of another book challenge that I'm participating in this year.  I'm hopeful that I will finish all my challenges, even if it means reading nothing but challenge books until the end of the year.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where She Went

by Gayle Forman
published: Speak, 2012 (originally Dutton Juvenile, 2011)
pages: 264

Three years after the terrible accident that changed Mia and Adam's lives forever, they have drifted apart.  Adam has gained major success with his band and Mia is showing incredible promise as a cello prodigy.  One night in New York they meet again and finally hatch out what's been holding each other back for years.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is the fact that it's told from Adam's perspective.  I love that we get Mia in the first book and now we get Adam.  It's powerful the way the narrators are used to convey their story.  I think that this story would have worked in Mia's point of view, but it's much more power in Adam's and likewise is true in If I Stay.  We get to know the characters so well.  I just love it.

The NYC setting is fantastic, partially because I've lived there and know details about the city that help me enhance the setting and the story.  NYC fits the story perfectly; it showcases the progression of their character, how they've grown and dealt with tragedy.  I think it's often hard for a setting to speak into the story, but Gayle Forman does that very well with her choices.

I'm one of those people that wants to know everything, so I was kind of disappointed that there was three years in between the books.  It just might be me being greedy but I wanted to know what happened in those three years.  We get glimpses of their past, and some of what happened to Adam in those years.  However, I still want to know everything, but I appreciate what was revealed and how it was revealed to the reader.

Gayle Forman scored huge on these books.  She wrote a very satisfying sequel and I enjoyed reading every minute of it.

Stars: 4/5 

Praise:

"Stunningly Memorable."
     --Romantic Times

"Achingly satisfying"
     --Family Circle

"A gorgeous portrayal of rejection and rekindled love.... A sensitive depiction of the kind of man we'd all love our daughters to meet."
     --USA Today

"Both characters spring to life, and their pain-filled backstory and current realities provide depth and will hold readers fast."
     --Kirkus Reviews


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Love to See as Movies/TV Shows

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I've been hoping for a movie version of this book for ages and now it's coming! I cannot wait to see this one.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I think this would be an awesome movie, and if it were done right, it definitely would be great.  The cyborgs and the lunars would be so cool on the big screen.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I have a feeling that this would either make an excellent rom-com or a TV series.  There's definitely potential as TV show, although I don't know how it would go past a season, unless they did the companion books too, but I don't care.

4. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - I'm sure there's been a movie and a TV show about this, but I would love to see a modern day version of this book.

5. Legend by Marie Lu - I want to see a movie version of this book so bad!  I love the characters and the setting.  Seeing those come to life on the big screen would be great.

6. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - Ever since I read this in middle school, I've wanted to see a movie version.  It's clever and quirky and just right for an engaging movie.

7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - I would be very interested to see how this story plays out on the big screen.  I feel like it would resemble X-Men, which I have not qualms about.  It could be quite good.

8. Maximum Ride by James Patterson - I've been dreaming about this movie/TV series since middle school.  I loved the beginning for this series so much.  I would love to see these bird kids come to life and kick some butt!

9. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - My dreams are coming true with this one.  I am so excited that this book is going to actually become a movie.  I've never been so excited to cry my eyes out.

10. Avalon High by Meg Cabot - I want a redo on this one! Disney made a DCOM (Disney channel original movie) and pretty much changed everything about the story.  I want to see one that's truer to the book, because there is nothing wrong with it!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie

by Jaclyn Moriarty
published: Arthur A. Levine Books
pages: 491

Bindy Mackenzie has always been the top student in her school. She is an incredibly disciplined and hard worker, some may even call her an overachiever.  She considers herself the kindest and most inspiring student in her year.  Unfortunately, she is alone in consideration.  At the beginning of the year, she is put into a group with unlikely friends who help her discover that she is in danger.  Apparently someone wants to kill her, and the clues are in her carefully documented life.  They have to figure out who wants to kill her and why before time runs out.

I was very unsure about this book to begin with, mostly because of the narrator.  Bindy Mackenzie's personality shines through her documentation of year 11 and while it is excellently executed, I found it hard to get into.  I was skeptical that someone so ordered and formal could also entertaining and inviting.  To be frank, she was kind of annoying.  Yes, it did take me a bit, but I finally started to enjoy Bindy's commentary and her portrayal of the other characters.

The voice of this book is just so ridiculous.  While the story seems very far-fetched, anything is up for grabs at Ashbury High. I had to extend my suspension-of-disbelief for this story.  It could happen but highly unlikely that it ever would happen.  I will say that is was almost entirely unpredictable, the twists and turns were welcomed and brought new life to the story.

One thing I did really enjoy was the connections back to some of Jaclyn Moriarty's other books.  I've only read one of them, but characters and situations are referenced from the other books.  Even though these were passing moments, I thought they were fun and clever.

Now that I'm getting used to Moriarty's writing style, might pick up another one of the Ashbury High stories.

Stars: 3/5

Praise:

"The novel - written entirely in letters, diary entries, e-mail, etc. - is fast and funny but not frothy.  Moriarty's story is complex, original, and unpredictable enough that it's much more than a guilty-pleasure read."
     --The Horn Book Magazine, starred review

"Moriarty's characters speak in voices as playful and inventive as the novel's format.... An unisial novel with an exhilarating pace, irrepressible characters, and a screwball humor."
     --Booklist, starred review

"Moriarty's novel keeps readers guessing - and...laughing out loud - all the way to the end."
     -- USA Today

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books You Wish Were Taught in School

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

In honor of the first day of school, here is my list of books that I think should be taught in school.

1. The Giver by Louis Lowery
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
6. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt
7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
8. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
9. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien



Thursday, August 29, 2013

And Then There Were None

by Agatha Christie
published: Berkley Books, 1991 (first published
1939)
pages: 204

Ten people who have never met are invited to Indian Island by a mysterious host.  None of them knew that they would meet a cruel fate. Shortly after arriving, people begin to die according to the an old nursery rhyme.  As the tension and fear rises, each person tries to figure out who the murderer is before they become the next victim.

Once again, Agatha Christie threw me for a loop.  She always manages to surprise me, even to the very end.  I've said it before, I love trying to figure out the mystery before the book does, but I was stumped.  At one point, I was willing to believe that there was something supernatural at work.  I knew that wasn't the case, but I really had no idea.

I loved that so much of the story was based on a nursery rhyme, "Ten Little Indians".  It makes it creepy and at the same time exciting.  We knew how the next person was going to die, we just didn't know who it would be or when it would happen.  This kept me on my toes.

Rarely do I throw out the word brilliant, but this story itself was, well, brilliant.  All the characters were brought together because they were outside the law.  I thought this premise was incredible and some what understandable in a twisted vigilante justice way.

Each character justified themselves in different ways and went about trying to lay blame on others.  Their thought processes showed a lot of their character in a short period of time.  This book takes place over the span of two or three days, and we only know those characters for that long and yet, we know them.  These characters let their actions speak loudly.  I love that kind of characterization.

I shall be reading much more Agatha Christie in the near future.

Stars: 5/5

Praise:

"The whole thing is utterly impossible and utterly fascinating.  It is the most baffling mystery Agatha Christie has ever written."
--New York Times

"There is no cheating; the reader is just bamboozled in a straightforward way from the first to last.... The most colossal achievement of a colossal career.  The book must rank with Mrs. Christie's previous best- on the top notch of detection."
--New Statesman (UK)

"The most astonishingly impudent, ingenious and altogether successful mystery story since The Murder of Roger Ackroyd."
--Daily Herald (UK)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Memorable Secondary Characters

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter) - He will always and forever be my favorite secondary character.  His character development over the course of those seven books blows me away again and again.  I love that he comes into his own and is completely underestimated.

2. Tyson (Percy Jackson) - I wasn't sure about him when he first showed up in the series, but I have grown to love him and his eagerness and bravery.  His spirit in the books makes them all the more lovable. He's a great companion and an incredible character.

3. Sophie (I Am the Messenger) - She may not be in this book all that much, but she is by far one of my favorite characters.  Ed helps her come into her own.  We first see her as a very shy person, but then she disappears for a while and after a bit we see her again and something has changed about her.  I love that we only see part of her transformation and the rest is left to mystery.

4. Metias Iparis (Legend) - I love that he devoted so much of his life to raising and taking care of June.  She is the kind of person she is because he instilled in her core values that he knew to be true.  He worked hard and did his job well, questioned what needed to be questioned.

5. M (Warm Bodies) - M is the greatest best friend any zombie could hope to have.  He has a great sense of humor and a sense of camaraderie which is hard being that he is in fact a zombie.  Even when he doesn't understand R's reasons or motives, M is there, ready to do whatever needs to be done, no questions asked.

6. Simon Lewis (City of Bones)- Some might find him annoying, but I really enjoy that he is a constant norm for Clary in her crazy mixed up world.  He is nerdy and loves music, but also incredibly brave when he needs to be.

7. Finnick O'Dair (Hunger Games) -  I think his character is incredible.  He has so many secrets that he keeps under this playboy air that deceives everyone.  And at the same time, he loves fiercely and has great loyalty to those he cares about.

8. Tiny Cooper (Will Grayson, Will Grayson) - His name may be Tiny, but tiny he ain't.  He character by far outshines any other character.  He is absurd and beautiful, comical and serious and all encompassing.  I love this character. period.

9. The Ents (Lord of the Rings) - I just love the Ents.  All of them, I love that they basically talking trees, that they take care of the forest.  I think these characters are one of the most interesting characters that Tolkien created.

10.  Fred and George Weasley (Harry Potter) - This pair is about as dynamic as any pair of characters can be.  I love them, their humor, bravery, courage and loyalty, among so many other characteristics.  I mean who can resist a pair of lovable red-heads?

Friday, August 23, 2013

City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare
published: Simon Pulse, 2007
pages: 485

Clary Fray is a normal girl living in New York City, but when she starts seeing people and things that her friends can't, she goes looking for answers.  She meets Jace Wayland, a Shadowhunter -  warrior dedicated to destroying demons, and Clary's carefully balanced world turns completely upside down.  The answers to her questions bring trouble and all sorts of complications to her life. When her mom goes missing and she is attacked by a demon, Clary looks to Jace and his friends to help find her mom and figure out exactly why the demon attacked her.

I hesitated hugely when it came to reading this book.  I didn't really know much about it, other than it is part of a series and that there is a movie adaptation.  There were several people who told me that I would love the book and some that told me it wasn't worth the read.  However, I decided that I wanted to see the movie, so naturally I had to read the book first.  

I was completely sucked into this story from the get-go.  It is fast-paced and gripping the entire way through.  I liked the city setting; New York City meshes well with the pace of the story.  It's a perfect place for things to go unseen and unnoticed.

Some of my favorite characters are actually secondary characters.  Simon and Magnus hold the top places in my book.  Magnus' charm and wit are completely entertaining; I couldn't help but smile when he was in a scene.  As for Simon, his loyalty and determination to help earn him a top spot.  However, I did find some of the characters highly annoying at very inopportune times.  I thought Clary needed to stop and think a little bit more before rushing into situations she was not well equipt to take on.

 This book has a solid plot with great pacing, but the last twist at the end was really very unnecessary.  It  irritated me rather than strengthened the story.  It felt like the author purposely put that in there to frustrate the reader.  If I'm perfectly honest, I'm not sure it was all that believable either.  This story didn't need the further complications that came because of the twist.  Needless to say, it was a bit of a let down.

Despite my reservations, I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series and exploring the lives and the world of Clary and the Shadowhunters.

Stars: 3/5

Praise:

"Clare's atmospheric is spot-on, informed equally by neo-gothic horror filmd and the modern fantasy leanings of Neil Gaiman... Fans of... Bufy the Vampire Slayer will instantly fall for this series."
     --Publishers Weekly

"Readers of urban fantasy will devour this deliciously overwrought adventure."
     --Kirkus Review

"This fast-paced fantastic thriller will keep readers on the edge of their seats."
     --VOYA

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make My Reading Life Easier

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. I love the Library! It is a money saver and, sometimes, a life saver.  Whenever I hear about a book that I decide I have to read, that's where I go first.

2. Goodreads is a really convenient place to keep track of the books that I'm reading.  And it's a great way to let others know what I'm reading and for me to find out what others are reading.

3. & 4. The Book blog and Booktube communities are awesome! I love reading reviews and seeing what other people are up to.  It helps me make decisions on which books I read.  Also, I love the conversations that happen in the comments.

5. I love bookmarks! This may sound like a given, but there was a time when I didn't use bookmarks.  I would either try to remember the page number or finish the chapter.  Mostly, I'd finish the chapter, probably because I'm a little OCD.  Now, I use bookmarks all the time; there are so many cool and fun bookmarks that I have way too many, but that's okay.

6. Summer has always made it easier to read, partially because I was always less busy and could read what I wanted without interference of classes. Even though I'm out of school now, I still feel like summer is somehow less busy.  In my mind, the word summer is a trigger to more free time and more reading time.

7. I take books with me everywhere.  You never know when you are going to have a few minutes, or a couple hours to spare.

8. I never travel anywhere without an audiobook or two.  I love listened to them in the car, especially on longer car rides.  It takes me back to my early years when people used to read me books.  Also, multitasking!

9. Friends with books are the second best thing, in my opinion, to a library.  Sometimes, it can be even better.  They recommend you a book and then lend it to you, what could be better!

10. A nice cup of tea and a good book is all I need to enjoy my leisure time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Notable Quotable: Erin Morgenstern (#19)


"Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasure and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words."
     --The Night Circus

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern
published: Anchor Books, 2012
pages: 512

Stars: 4/5

Le Cirque des Reves appears without warning and the magic begins.  Patrons come from all over to experience this unique and mysterious circus.  Little do they know, there is so much more at work behind the scenes.  Two young magicians have been raised to compete in a battle of skill and endurance, without knowledge of their opponent or the rules of the game.  The circus is their playground and before they know it the competition becomes more involved than they ever expected.  It is up to them to figure out how to end the game and who will win the title of champion.

The prose in this book alone is beautiful enough to keep reading Morgenstern's writing for the rest of my life.  It is elegant and enchanting, describing areas of the circus that I wish I could see in person.  The writing is poetic and poignant to the point that I would have been content with no plot connected to it.

However, the plot attached was equally beautiful and mysterious as the writing. The set up and the storytelling draws you in and immerses you in the world of the circus from inside the walls and from the outside visitor perspectives.  The jumps in time add to the ambiance of the story, allowing the more important details to be revealed in a different manner than they are actually played out.  It is as if the reader shares a gift and is able to read the story of the circus in whichever order we like.

I will say that there were a couple things left unexplained or under-explained.  I wish we knew more about "the challenge" that centered the main point of the story.  We get bits and pieces of it, but it is never really explained beyond the idea that it is more than what the characters thought it. And while the time jumps are a great addition to the novel, if you're not careful you'll lose track of what happens when and what stage the characters are at in their lives.  I had to pay close attention to that.

I really enjoyed diving into the beautiful circus world of Celia and Marco.  You can bet that I will be rereading this book in the future.

Praise:

"Get ready to be won over.... Part love story, part fable, and a knockout debut.... So sparklingly alive, you'll swear the pages are breathing in your hands... The Night Circus defies both genres and expectations."
     --The Boston Globe

"[A] few [ages in...and you know you are in the presence of an extraordinary storyteller."
     --The Daily Beast

"Morgenstern's exquisitely realized world will have [you] wishing to run off and join the circus."
     --USA Today

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books set in England

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I have a weakness for books set in England, well, in all of Europe for that matter.  I love getting into the setting of books and for me there's no better place than England, whether it's current day or the past.  Here are some of my favorite books set in England.

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - The first line alone is enough for me to love this story, but the romance and the characters are so wonderful.  They have me reading this book again and again.

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (as well as all the others) - This is an obvious choice for me.  These books were my childhood, but this one in particular has always been one of my favorites.

3. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin - I love this fictionalize memoir of the girl who inspired the beloved tale of Alice in Wonderland.

4. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - This story is told in 24 hours which I think is unique and incredibly compelling.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - It's a boarding school story with a twist, what's not to love.

6. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - This English ghost story is haunting and entertaining at the same time.  The main characters and setting are enough to keep me coming back to this book.

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - While the circus travels all over the world, it keeps coming back to London.  I love that it is conceived there and shared with the world.

8. Emma by Jane Austen - Emma's meddling ways can get her into trouble, but as long as she is in England everything is okay.

9. Sherlock Holmes (all of them) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Who doesn't love a good murder mystery?

10. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff - This book is unique in that it tells a story of an American girl who gets caught in the thoroughfare of World War II with her cousins in England.  They have to figure out how to survive when the German's unexpectedly attack.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters

by Rick Riordan
published: Disney Hyperion Books, 2006
pages: 279

Percy Jackson finds himself in the midst of adventure once more when Annabeth suddenly appears at his school on the last day of class.  They race off to Camp Half-Blood just in time to see that the camp is in danger.  It is up to them to find the only thing that can save the camp, the golden fleece.  Along the way, Percy meets new people and and discovers more about himself.  But how will he handle all this new information; will he use it to his advantage or let it get the best of him?

The characters in this book/series truly grow before my eyes.  Even though Percy and Annabeth are only a year older, they seem wiser and their friendship has grow closer.  The new characters are wonderful.  Tyson is one of my favorite characters, though he seemed like a very insignificant character at the beginning.

The world building that happens in this story is incredible.  We get to see more of the mythical world, and how the mist works on Percy and on mortals. (This mist is what conceals monsters and other mythical creatures and people from mortals.)  We meet new monsters and learn more about Greek mythology.  I think one of the coolest things about this series is that there are so many Greek myths recounted within the stories.  Percy gets ideas from them and takes their advice.  At the same time, these stories help build our own knowledge and that helps us understand Percy and Annabeth a little bit better.

Rick Riordan continues to be very impressive in this installment of Percy Jackson's adventures.  I am in love with Percy and his world.

Stars: 5/5

Praise:

"In a feat worthy of his heroic subjects, Riodan crafts a sequel stronger than his compelling debut in this second adventure.  With humor, intelligence and expert pacing, the author uses this tale of believable teens and their high-stakes struggle to bring the mythical lore up to date."
     --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[A] fast and funny tale, full of action, wisecracks, and superhuman powers.  It's an entertaining retelling of Greek mysths and a good bet for adventure and fantasy fans as well as reluctant readers."
     --KLIATT

"Riordan settle into the classical world he's created, introducing new monsters and the Odyssean ruses to defeat them, and balancing intensity with humor throughout the clevely constructed adventure."
     --Hornbook



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Wishful Sequels

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I'm one of those people who would be very happy if I got to know everything there is to know about every character I've ever read.  That being said, 9 times out of 10 I want a sequel.  I want to know what happens after the events and why people make the decision that they do and what consequences they have to deal with now.  So here are a few of the books that stick out in my mind right now.

1. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke - I would love to know if those children got into anymore trouble.  I have a feeling even Ida and Victor would take part again.

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - I would like to see what happens to the new city, if the intellectuals can bring back the importance of knowledge and books at all.  That would be very interesting to me.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I want a sequel.  I want to see Darcy and Elizabeth happy and married and wonderful.  I know there are sequels out there, but I would have love for Jane Austen to give us some insight into their lives after marriage.

4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - This one might be a little bit cheating because we know a sequel is coming.  However, I want to know what happens to everyone now!  Patience is a virtue that sometimes I just don't have. 

5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - I really enjoy this book, but again, I want more! I would love to know how their relationship progressed especially because of the long distance aspect of it.  I think it would be an interesting story.

6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I would love to Scout as a grown woman, see how she grew up, what's happening in her life and how she is changing the world because we all know that the daughter of Atticus Finch will change the world.

7. The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller - This is one of those books that show nerdy people in a positive light and I would love to see how Maddie further embraces her nerdy self especially now that she has someone to be nerdy with.

8. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - I want more Tiny Cooper!

9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I would love to see where all these characters are after the this story.  It's such heavy and important subject, I'd like to see how they handle it after the fact.

10. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I haven't finished this book yet, but I have a feeling that I'll be wanting more of these characters and this tale.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Notable Quotable: Erin Morgenstern (#18)


"I have listened to you read books aloud to my cats. When you were five years old you turned a laundry tub into a pirate ship and launched an attack against the hydrangeas in my garden."
     --The Night Circus

Friday, August 2, 2013

If I Stay

by Gayle Forman
Published: Speak, 2010 (first published 2009)
Pages: 262

Mia has a typical life, a loving family, great friends, a boyfriend that meant everything to her and a bright future.  She wasn't expecting the event that changed her life forever.  Now she's faced with the most important decision she will ever make, one that could, quite literally, mean life or death.

This story takes a look at life and death from a completely different take than the usual.  We are left to contemplate the idea that sometimes people do choose whether or not to live on, to continue fighting for life.

The poetic nature of the writing adds to the discussion.  There is a seamless flow to the letters, creating words, creating phrases, creating sentences, creating paragraphs, creating pages, creating this story.  The rhythm in all of this is very similar to the rhythm that Mia finds in her classical music, and any music really.  But there are also times when the story and her situation seem very edgy and sporadic, the way punk rock can sound sometimes.

I really enjoyed the music aspect of this story and how it brought people together, even if they were different styles of music.  It also threatened to tear people apart.  The ebb and flow of the music and it's connection to people played well with this story and the other themes present.  Gayle Forman masterfully weaves a compelling tragic story.  I cannot wait to read the sequel.

Stars: 4/5

Praise:

"This book is a do-not-miss story of love, friendship, family, loss, control, and coping."
     --Justine magazine

"A poignant novel... reminiscent of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.  Forman is a master at creating memorable characters and at tugging the heartstrings enough to keep us turning the page as we sob our eyes out."
     --Buffalo News

"If I Stay throbs with Love and tragedy .  And the dilemma of choice.  Long after its last moment, readers may find themselves dwelling on how the story resonates in their own lives."
     --Sacramento Bee

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Beginnings/Endings

hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. 

Here are the first and last lines of some of my favorite books.  I'll let the quotes speak for themselves.

Beginnings

1. "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

2. "My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog." - Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

3. "The morning after noted child prodigy Colin Singleton graduated from high school and got dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, he took a bath." - An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

4. "The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up." - Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

5. "Here we go again." - Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

6. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

7. "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit." - The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Endings

1. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

2. "Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too.  but perhaps it was only an echo." - The Giver by Lois Lowry

3. "Don't ever tell anybody anything.  If you do, you start missing everybody." - The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Notable Quotable: Gayle Forman (#17)



"It's quiet now. So quiet that I can almost hear other people's dreams."
     --If I Stay