Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cinema Saturday ~ Water for Elephants ~ (DVD & Book) review

Water for Elephants
Book (movie tie-in version)Algonquin Books/March 1, 2011/368 pages/
DVD Fox/November 1, 2011/120 mins; Blu-ray (+ digital copy)

(Giveaway info at bottom)

Ever dream of running off to join the circus? If you didn't, after reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen you'll be packing your bags. Jacob Jankowski is left penniless and without a degree when his parents both die during his final exams for veterinary school. It’s the 1930s and the Great Depression so neither jobs nor money abounds and Jacob sets off in search of Albany and some form of work.

He never makes it, though Instead he finds himself on a train belonging to the Benzini Brothers Circus. Soon he’s in charge of the animals. Working for Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth he meets Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star – and wife to August, the animal trainer who’s as enigmatic as he is twisted – and Rosie, the ‘untrainable’ elephant. The three will form a bond that may have to be stronger than any other.

The characters are what really drive – and make – this story, both human and animal alike. Even if you might suspect somewhere during the story, what will happen at the end – and you might still be wrong – it’s what’s happening in the middle that keeps you reading. Those middle parts – and, of course, the delightful characters and the circus. The circus in Water for Elephants is so well written and real feeling that you want to travel back in time and join a real, live traveling big top. You absolutely feel like you’re in a 1930s circus.

Jacob, the 90 – or possibly 93- year-old narrator (he’s not sure) is made absolutely lovable in both his grumpiness and the way you wish for him to be back as that 23-year-old working the circus. On principle you wouldn’t imagine that a 90 (or 93) year-old narrator would be that perfect, but he is.

Water for Elephants is a romance, but personally, I found the circus life and Jacob’s life independent of Marlena – or at least his interactions with her, not necessarily his recollections- were stronger and more enjoyable to read. I don’t think it was a lack of chemistry, etc. More that it was that Jacob was such a strong, enjoyable and lovable character that anyone else was really competing with him. It was his story.

Rating: 7/10

Water for Elephants is a brilliant film – sure to instantly become one of your favorites. Staying very close to the novel, the movie will be an excellent viewing for fans of the novel and those new to the story, both.

One of those movies you can easily watch again and again, Water for Elephants has everything good about the novel (see my review above), but is also one of the few, few book to film adaptations I liked even better than the book.

In the novel I saw the story more as Jacob’s story and didn’t view the romance as very strong. In the movie, however, it was fantastic. Both Reese Witherspoon as Marlena and Robert Pattinson as Jacob were very expressive and did a terrific job; the romance came through brilliantly. You truly feel for both characters – and their relationship with each other.

The movie is different by starting with Jacob at the circus and remembering the circus and things then staying in the thirties. It is very different from the book and all but takes out the elderly Jacob character (who I loved in the book) but it really allows the viewer to get immersed in the 1930s storyline and stay with things. It works fantastically.

There are a few scenes (from the novel) missing from the film but their absence does not detract from the film's quality. Instead it allows the movie to retain a more central storyline and keeps as much of the focus on the relationship between Jacob and Marlena (and the circus) as possible. (And the absence of some of the racier things from the book keeps a PG-13 rating, as well.)

The fashion in this film is great! It fits with the time period but also with the setting. It’s 1930s friendly and circus friendly . .. I really want to be a 1930s circus performer for Halloween now.

The filming of Water for Elephants is downright beautiful, too. There are some films that you watch and regardless of whether you like the content or not, you have to admire their cinematic quality – I would argue that this is one of those. It’s one to own on BluRay.

There’s really nothing bad I can say about this movie – it took everything I loved about the book and seeing the story portrayed one film improved other parts.

(Definitely check out the special features after you watch the movie, too – especially “The Traveling Show - Page to Screen” which looks at the transition from book to film.)
Here's a great study guide the wonderful Fox Publicity people sent me. It has some great things to think about:

From October 29, 2011
I addressed some of the Study Guide questions already in my review, one I didn’t address but would like to is: “Discuss Christop Waltz’s villainous August. Have you seen him in other films as the baddie? Die he add to the story and character of August in your opinion?” I’ve seen Inglorious Bastards and while watching Water for Elephants I remarked how perfect Waltz is for this period pieces – that it’s good he wasn’t living during this time period; he would have had to be a bad guy!

Rating 10/10

Now that you know how great both are, surely you want to win a Book/DVD bundle of Water for Elephants? ENTER HERE

gigantic thank you to Fox for my copy of Water for Elephants so I could review it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

DVD/Book Bundle Giveaway ~ Water for Elephants


Win a novel/DVD bundle of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, out on Blu-ray and DVD November 1

Based on Sara Gruen’s epic novel about forbidden love, and directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Francis Lawrence (Constantine), WATER FOR ELEPHANTS stars Robert Pattinson as Jacob, a man devastated by the sudden death of his parents at the height of The Depression. When Jacob abandons his veterinary studies and stows away on a train carrying circus performers, his life is changed forever. Hired as a veterinarian to care for the circus’ animals, Jacob is temporarily filled with the promise of an exciting life that comes with a traveling circus troupe.

However, as he falls in love with the star of the show, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), they become prey to the circus’s owner, Marlena’s abusive husband August (Christoph Waltz). With their love on the line, the circus begins to crumble from within, and Jacob and Marlena come to a crossroads that will forever change their destiny.

For your chance to win a prize bundle including Sara Gruen’s novel and a copy of the WATER FOR ELEPHANTS DVD, simply answer the following question:

• Christoph Waltz
• Richard LaGravenese
• Francis Lawrence

More on the book available here at Amazon or Goodreads - & the movie on Amazon or imdb.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for my movie/book post (review) for Cinema Saturday!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Between the Sea & Sky ~ Jaclyn Dolamore (eARC) review

Between the Sea and Sky
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
October 25, 2011
240 pages

Esmerine's family has the almost unparalleled honor of having two sirens in the family, now that Esmerine has joined her sister Dosinia as a siren. The two eldest sisters in the family have always been close and enjoyed exploring land together so Esmerine has looked forward to joining Dosia in being a siren. She imagines the two of them sitting on the rocks, doing their siren duties, changing their tails into legs for short - but painful - trips onto the beach.

What Esmerine doesn't imagine is her beloved sister going missing.

With Dosia on land - possibly stuck there forever - Esmerine knows she has to find her, even if only to bring the sad news back to her family. Making the perilous journey on land, on unsteady legs, she comes across Alandare, an old friend from childhood.

Along with Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people, Esmerine will travel in search of her sister. And discover old - and new, deeper -feelings for her old friend. Feelings that aren't limited to her home in the sea or his of the sky.

Jaclyn Dolamore has created an amazing world, full of mermaids, sirens, flying people, and regular old ordinary people in uncomfortable dresses in Between the Sea and Sky. The characters have depth and the relationships are complex.

Anyone who loved (or could even kind of stand) The Little Mermaid - in whichever form - will be enchanted with Esmerine. She's a fascinating character. The introduction of the characters, the party, and the sirens is very appealing but the more we, as readers, get to know about Esmerine, the more enjoyable she is as a character.

The Fandarsee - the winged folk like Alandare - that Dolamore created for this tale are incredibly well imagined. I'm impressed with how well thought out and developed they are and how they fit with the mermaids and sirens, They don't feel as if they appear just in this novel, but like they're an already established thing borrowed for these pages.

Sea and Sky will leave you wondering why you haven't read more mermaid books - or if you have, why they weren't as good as this one.  (And if the Fandarsee can appear in anything else.)

(I also love this novel's title more and more . . )

Rating: 9/10

thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for letting me read this at NetGalley

Destined - House of Night Giveaway & Trailer

Perfect for Halloween, I have a giveaway of PC &; Kristin Cast's ninth House of Night novel, Destined

(on Goodreads and Amazon)

ENTER GIVEAWAY BY CLICKING 'READ MORE' - not sure why it's not showing on the on the main entries page

the synopsis via Goodreads:

“…Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet – which would be a whole lot easier if the High Counsel saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx’s gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together – if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father’s shadow…”
Series site - great info on books, novellas and more!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cold Kiss ~ Amy Garvey & Bad Taste in Boys ~ Carrie Harris reviews

Here are Halloween book reviews two and three . . .

Cold Kiss
Amy Garvey
September 20, 2011
304 pages

Feeling alone after her boyfriend Danny dies, Wren does something about it. What Wren wants is Danny back and with some research into some musty old books, an incantation said at Danny's grave under a full moon, Wren has what she wants.

Or what she thought she wanted.

Undead Danny isn't quite the same as the fun, happy alive Danny that Wren remembered. The Danny that Wren fell in love with. And now, unable to tell anyone what she's done - not even her mother who won't discuss the powers she and Wren seem to have - Wren is hiding Danny in a neighbor's garage. Wren's life is slowly coming apart.

Then transfer student Gabriel starts paying a lot of attention to Wren. Certainly more than she would like. Somehow Gabriel can sense not only Wren's power, but also what she's done. And he wants to make it right.

It's up to Wren, though, to undo what she's done . . . no matter what.

Cold Kiss is a zombie book without being a zombie book. It's much less about Danny being a zombie, if he even really is a zombie, he's actually just lacking a heartbeat - and much, much more about Wren and her dealing with losing her boyfriend.

It's definitely a different take on how not to react when your boyfriend dies but it's great to see Wren's growth both in understanding her powers, grieving for Danny and learning how to deal with the friends and living the rest of her life without Danny in it (at least publicly).

It might have been nice to see a glimpse into Danny and Wren's relationship while he was still alive, early in the book to really understand just why she was so willing to bring him back. To really see the love that they had for each other, but seeing things solely from Wren's perspective has its own merits as well.

The book really picks up and develops more depth about half way through. As things get trickier for Wren, we get to see more development in her character and more characters are introduced to help her - and really aid the story.

A fun story for anyone who thinks zombie books are too gory or scary and would prefer something more introspective.

Bad Taste in Boys
Carrie Harris
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
July 12, 2011
208 pages

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris is probably the most fun zombie book you'll read. Kate Grable dreams of being a doctor. One way she's working towards that is by being her high school football team's trainer. Everything's going fine until she finds out the coach is giving the team steroids.

Even worse than that? The steroids are turning the team into zombies. That's right: (even more) mindless, flesh-eating zombies. With everyone - from her brother, Jonah, her crush, Aaron, her friends, Kate, the rest of the students, everyone - in danger, Kate's going to have to find an antidote.

With time running out, Kate, Rocky (her best friend), Jonah, and Aaron will have to battle to save their town . . . or risk turning zombie.

What's great about Bad Taste in Boys is that while it is incredibly fun - and funny - it also has some serious plot points, it doesn't move entirely to satire to be funny. Funny books are great when they have enough serious to have a real story to them as well.

The relationship between Kate and her brother Jonah (not to mention Jonah's character on his own) is fantastic and a really amazing addition to the story.

Bad Taste in Boys is a short book, but the characters still feel very real. They're very well written and portrayed so that, even without pages of back story or other interaction between the characters, they all fit well together and are believable.

The only thing that did seem short or quick was how easily Kate accepted the zombies.

The humor in this story is great and the ideas are incredibly unique and also make a lot of sense - they don't just pop out of nowhere at the end.

Rating: 8/10 for both

Waiting On Wednesday [Until I Die & Revived]

What to do when you find covers for two great looking books by two authors you love? Have two books for in your Waiting on Wednesday post, of course:

Until I Die by Amy Plum

Kate has chosen to leave the comfort and safety of her human world in order to join Vincent in the dangerous supernatural universe he inhabits. For his part, he has sworn to go against his very nature and resist the repeated deaths that are his fate as a revenant—even though it will bring him immeasurable suffering.

Heady with romance and rife with danger, the second book of the DIE FOR ME trilogy follows Vincent and Kate as they search—separately—for a solution to their plight, pursuing their quest from the glamorous streets of Paris to the city’s squalid underbelly. Although the experiment that Vincent attempts is progressively destroying him, he insists on seeing it through to the end. This prompts Kate to strike out on her own into the dangerous world of the revenants to find another way. But she unwittingly puts everyone she loves at risk when she discovers a family of ancient healers who hold the key to a secret that could help the bardia—the good revenants—overthrow their murderous enemies, the numa, forever.

And while the lovers search for something they have little chance of finding, a new threat arises among the numa. Kate finds herself in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, not as a bystander...but as a target.

I adored Die for Me - evidence - and cannot wait to read the sequel. (And not just so I can get back to reading 'revenants' in a French accent.) Amy Plum was also super nice when I met her in Naperville - and had very, very good chocolate with her, always a bonus.
The released cover is the British one, but as you can see, the US and UK covers for Die for Me were very similar - here's hoping the US cover of Until I Die is just as similar.

Goodreads page for Until I Die & on Amazon

Oh, how will I wait until May 3 when Harper releases it?

The second book that has to be a Waiting On Wednesday book for today is:

 Revived by Cat Parick

As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger — and more sinister — than she ever imagined.

Cat Patrick's debut novel - these are two of my favorite debut authors and books of this year - Forgotten blew me away. It was incredibly creative - Revive seems to at least match Forgotten's creativity. So happy that she has a second novel coming so soon!

And have you looked at that cover? I really kind of love it. It has so many possibilities.

This one wants to make me wait even longer - Little, Brown isn't releasing it until May 8! (Goodreads page & Amazon)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warm Bodies ~ Isaac Marion review

Halloween is coming up, so of course it's necessary to review some Halloween-y books! Here is the first one:

Warm Bodies
Atria Books
April 26, 2011
256 pages

R is a zombie. He knows he once had a name, but he cannot recall it - all her knows is that it likely started with 'R.' The other zombies that he lives with in the airport don't know their names, either, if they're lucky they have a letter to go by.

R might only be able to speak a few syllables, grunt a few sounds, but he is much deeper than that. His mind works on a more complex level than the expected zombie level of 'Brains!' or 'Kill. Food. Brains.' R has thoughts, dreams, maybe even feelings and fears.

The world as it is now, in R's day, has been destroyed by multiple wars, the collapse of society, and now zombies. People are living together, in fear of zombies and the end of the world altogether.

After eating a teenage boy's brain on one of the zombies' trips into the city for food, R starts experiencing the boy's memories. Then making a choice that leads to a strange, awkward but also kind of sweet relationship with the boy's living girlfriend, R might end up changing himself, the other zombies, perhaps the living ... and even everyone.

Warm Bodies is definitely a different kind of zombie tale. For one - very major - thing, the zombie at the center of it all isn't a mindless, heartless killer only out for brains. And that's something that works.

It is a little strange to have this zombie who is so unable to speak or move or say things but then can narrate a story so well. At first it does seem like a disconnect. After a bit, though, you get used to it as how R is and how his being a zombie is.

It's never explained how zombies came to be in the Warm Bodies world - nor is it really a part of the story - but it is something you kind of wonder about at points.

The characters are most definitely the strong point of this story. The reader is able to see a zombie the same they would a living, breathing person and care about him in much the same way - even while he spends parts of the story eating parts of someone's brain. Or perhaps, because of that.

It's an added bonus that the human/living person side of the story is as well developed and thought out as the zombie side. We don't just get a strong story with R and the zombies at the airport, but with where and how the people are living as well. A book could have been written from the perspective of one of the people living there with the zombies as the outside threat, as well. It would have been a different story, but there was enough imagination to that element that a whole story could be there as well.

If you enjoy zombie stories and/or you're looking for one of a different sort, you should really give Warm Bodies a read.


thank you to the publisher for my copy of this book

Monday, October 24, 2011

In My Mailbox Monday

Here are the books I received in the mail the past week/10 days:

for review:

Everything We Ever Wanted an adult novel by PLL series author Sara Shepard - at Amazon and Goodreads
Lost in Time: A Blue Bloods Novel by Melissa de la Cruz - at Amazon (not currently available from Amazon due to something strange, though....) and Goodreads
If I Tell by Janet Gutler - at Amazon and Goodreads
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (I read the hardcover of this, but seemingly did not review it?) Paperback is out tomorrow - at Amazon and Goodreads
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon - at Amazon and Goodreads
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (can't wait to start this)- at Amazon and Goodreads
Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Vol 1: Phantom by LJ Smith (also out tomorrow) - at Amazon and Goodreads

*If I Tell is through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers, the others are directly from publishers/publicists/media companies

(In My Mailbox & Mailbox Monday host links on Schedule page)

Did you get anything exciting in your mailbox this past week?

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Just in case you've forgotten - because I'm sure you've heard - today is Shatterday! Shatterday is just what it sounds like a Saturday where Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me (a past WOW book of mine, for which my want has only increased) will be previewed on Facebook.

Shatter Me's Facebook page is HERE and the preview - a new chapter each hour all day so there's already quite a few - as well as a giveaway to enter and a Livestream with the author at 8pm is under the SHATTERDAY tab

(Check the wall for links and help if the tab's not loading right - I've had some trouble with it.)

I'm still hoping to get a copy of Shatter Me but if not 25 chapters (ahead of it's November 15 releases (by Harper) certainly is not bad.

(Shatter Me's GoodreadsAmazon pages)

Cinema Saturday [Monte Carlo]

Monte Carlo
Fox 2000 Pictures
October 18, 2011
109 minutes

Monte Carlo is perfect when you're looking for a fun Saturday afternoon in. Based on Jules Bass, but very different (the book was about four middle aged women who set off to Monte Carlo intending to pose as rich women, the movie about three teens who travel to Paris and are mistaken for someone rich), Monte Carlo stars Selena Gomez (Ramona and Beezus and "Wizards of Waverly Place"), Leighton Meester ("Gossip Girl," Country Strong) and Katie Cassidy ("Supernatural," Taken and some "Gossip Girl," too).

Grace (Gomez) has been saving up to travel to Paris after graduation with her best friend Emma (Cassidy) - but when her mother and new stepfather tell the girls that Meg (Meester) is going as well, no one is happy. Meg and Grace are not happy about being 'sisters' and Meg and Emma - both older than Grace - couldn't stand each other in school.

Things only get words in Pairs when their hotel is not what they expected and their tour bus leaves them behind. The girls are sure their trip of a lifetime is ruined until Grace is mistaken for a wealthy socialite and the three are taken, in a whirlwind, off to Monte Carlo where glitz, glamour, boys, and fun await them. If they can (and want to) keep up the ruse.

Monte Carlo is a fantastic movie for tweens and teens - but one that anyone who enjoys a lighthearted teen movie with some feeling will really enjoy watching. The three girls (Gomez, Meester, and Cassidy) all do a fantastic job; even after seeing them in other roles - and roles that you get used to seeing them in, characters you strongly associate them with - it's easy to let those go and see them as their characters in this movie.

In the very beginning of the movie it was a little confusing (having not read much summary-wise) to know what the girls relationships to each other was and it would have been nice to have just a tiny bit more with them together before they went to Paris - but it was okay to do without.

It was really nice to see the way their relationships developed over the course of the film. Each girl got to have her own story that was strong on its own and developed well yet the central relationship that the girls had together didn't suffer for it. Their bond -as friends and/or sisters really grew and developed from start to finish and it was great to see.

The new guys that were in the movie - Luke Bracey as Riley and Pierre Boulanger as Riley - were fantastic. Not only are they quite fun to look at in a movie, they're also not at all bad at acting. I haven't seen either of them in anything before but they were excellent counterparts to Grace and Meg's characters. (And I do hope to see them in something again.)

Cordelia, the heiress that Grace is mistaken for - and also played by Selena Gomez - may have been a little over the top, but it worked because she was obnoxious and annoying so you didn't sympathize with her or think, "Maybe they shouldn't be doing this." At least not based on her. (It also kind of works for the character, actually.)

The filming of Monte Carlo is really bright and beautiful. The shots that are outdoors makes you really want to visit Paris and Monte Carlo. It keeps well with the plot (and the age range that the film will/should appeal to) that the filming is all bright and well lit.

There aren't a ton of costume changes in this movie - fewer than most, actually - but there are some beautiful dresses and the clothes that there are are help define the characters.

The soundtrack definitely fits each scene. Most of its fast and upbeat with a few slower or older (or even French) songs but each fits extraordinarily well with each scene in which its played.

With the novel which Monte Carlo is based on sounding so very different from the movie, I'm not sure I will read it -but I do think if you've enjoyed The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot or Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Last Little Blue Envelope, you should give Monte Carlo a look - and the reverse.

Monte Carlo is a good movie with great filming and scenery that's great for tween and teen girls (or anyone -like me - who generally enjoys movies usually marketed to them), it has nice guys and some nice values, too but is still a whole lot of fun.

Thank you to Mandy at Fox Publicity for my copy of the movie

Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me ~ Brian Rowe review

My birthday's a good day to review a book with this title, right?

Happy Birthday to Me (#1)
April 7, 2011
175 pages

You've had someone ask you, on your birthday, if you 'feel any older,' right? Well, what if you didn't necessarily feel older but you looked older - a lot older?

Seventeen-year-old Cameron Martin has just about the perfect teenage life. He's a star on the basketball team, dating beautiful, popular Charisma, has applied to Yale and is only waiting on his acceptance. Cameron's friend Wes also loves birthdays - and the free things they can get you - and would celebrate his every day of the year if possible. Cam doesn't think it's as fun as Wes, but doesn't see the harm in it.

Until he wakes up the next morning and each day after that looking one year older. At first Cameron doesn't notice anything, he just thinks he's finally grown some facial hair, but after a few days he and his family become alarmed.

With Cam growing one year older with each day that passes, his time may be limited. Very limited.

This is a terrifically fun idea for a novel. The start reminded me quite a bit of Beastly by Alex Flinn: the popular, hot guy who's a little full of himself, has a bad relationship with his dad has something unexpected happen that affects his looks and things go from there.

Happy Birthday to Me is different though because Cameron is a very different person and the journey is also vastly different. It's interesting to me to see how Cameron reacts to his predicament - it might not have been the most logical reaction, but it worked well for a story. It was nice to see the way the family's relationship with each other developed of the story.

I would have liked a little more character growth with Cameron, to get just a little more insight into how he was dealing with things. There seemed to be not a lot of introspection from Cameron about a huge situation - or maybe I just wanted him to have more.

One of the characters - as well as the other characters reactions (or lack thereof to that character) seemed kind of inappropriate - and in one scene - a little squicky. I wasn't quite sure how to react to them.

It's a great idea for a series and now that I know the 'how,' too it might be possible to enjoy the sequel more - in the beginning of this one I wondered about the 'how' a lot.


thank you to the author for sending me the ebook for this title for review

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Iron Knight ~ Julie Kagawa (eARC) review

Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4)
Harlequin TEEN
October 25, 2011
400 pages

Ash is now Meghan's knight and she knows his true name. Which all sounds great . . . But, even as the last surviving son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court, he can never return home and is dead to her and Meghan, the new Iron Queen forbade him from entering the Iron Realm.

Ash is now on a quest to gain his soul back so that he can stand at Meghan's side in the Iron Realm.

Along the way we see a lot of interaction between Ash and Puck as well as a face we thought was lost to their past - and, of course, the great Grimalkin.

The Iron Knight, the fourth installment in this series is told from Ash's point-of-view with Meghan missing except for some dreams and a few scenes.

While it was great to see the rivalry/friendship between Ash and Puck back again - and see some of their past brought to light giving their relationship some more depth - without Meghan there, it was different. I really missed Meghan as the main narrator. Ash was, understandably, a bit ...mopey or emotional. While it made sense character-wise, it wasn't quite as much fun to read as when all three characters were interacting.

Either that, something with me personally, or some other factor prevented me from ever really connecting with this story. It never really grabbed me and I was never fully engaged with it. I do love this series, though, and will probably reread the book sometime in hopes that it clicks better with me.

The ending is fantastic. It's a great wrap-up to the series and whether you're Team Ash, Team Puck, or (like me) haven't quite picked a side yet go back and forth/like both of them, you won't be disappointed.  Julie Kagawa has created a fantastic new fey world in this series - the Iron Fey are pretty darn amazing - and kept her characters true to form throughout all four books, concluding their story nicely.


thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this egalley

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday [The Right & The Real ~ Joëlle Anthony]

The Right & The Real
Putnam Juvenile (Hardcover)
April 26, 2012
288 pages

Kicked out for refusing to join a cult, seventeen-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own

Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right and the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn’t just an ordinary spiritual leader, but Jesus Christ, himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church’s disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh is the most popular boy at school too, and the first boy outside the drama geeks to give Jamie a second look. But getting her Dad involved in a cult was not part of the plan when she started dating Josh. Neither was her dad’s marriage to the fanatic Mira, or getting kicked out, or seeing Josh in secret because the church has deemed her persona non grata.

Jamie’s life has completely fallen apart. Finding her way back won’t be easy, but when her Dad gets himself into serious trouble, will Jamie be ready to rescue him, and maybe even forgive him?

"Nail biting tension and a plot that just won't quit. The Right & the Real is a romance with attitude and a romp with heart." - Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author of The Uninvited and the critically acclaimed, Blink & Caution

“The Right & the Real has everything a reader could want: a gutsy heroine, romance, betrayal, and a pace that will keep you reading late into the night. Anthony’s character shows us what it takes to survive in a gritty urban landscape when all you have are some unlikely allies, your own wits, and belief in your future.” – Eileen Cook, author of The Education of Hailey Kendrick and Unraveling Isobel

I have not yet read Joëlle Anthony's Restoring Harmony, but The Right & The Real has completely grabbed my attention. I tend to love books most books about religion and/or cults and it's even better when the two are woven together well.

I hope I won't have to wait six months to read this one, but if I do, it will give me something else to look forward to as spring/summer approaches!

Any book you're especially waiting on this week?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shine ~ Lauren Myracle review

Amulet Books
May 1, 2011
376 pages

When her best friend, Patrick falls victim to a hate crime, Cat isn't content to sit back and let their small town sheriff handle the investigation (what little there seems to be), instead, she's going to find the perpetrator.

While the police are sure it's an outsider, someone outside of their tiny town of Black Creek, North Carolina, Cat thinks someone they know did it - and she's determined to find out who.

With Patrick in a coma, Cat will talk to friends she hasn't spoken to in years, eavesdrop on everyone she can and, inadvertently, put her self in danger as she tries to find out who beat her friend and left him for dead outside the gas station.

Shine is a fantastic boo that addresses a topic that is much, much to seldom addressed in fiction, much less this well. Myracle manages to write a novel not only about bullying (in its almost severest, cruelest form) but also about homophobia and yet neither topic is forced or done in a way that the book feels like a PSA or that it's pushing an agenda of any kind.

The characters are all complex, richly developed and ones that near any reader would be thrilled to read a novel about even if the main plot point of this novel were completely different. If this were just a novel about Cat and her hometown, about her summer, it would still be good if only for the characters and their complexities.

But it's not just that. It's also a rich story about the interaction between the characters, their flaws, the secrets we all have, the darkness and the quest to to be better and how that all manifests itself.

All of this is mixed with the bits of charm of Cat's Southern upbringing, her aunt's view's on a meal, her garden and the way people from the different towns see each other. Everything, somehow, all pulled into a whodunit of a mystery, too.

Shine is a novel masterfully written about incredibly relevant topics that will leave you wanting to make sure you're not only letting your light shine, but sure other's are able to lets their shine as well;


Monday, October 17, 2011

Small Town Sinners ~ Melissa Walker (ARC) review

Small Town Sinners
Bloomsbury USA Children's
July 19, 2011
288 pages

Lacey Anne Byer has spent her whole life as a member of the House of Enlightenment, an Evangelical church in her small Southern hometown. She's always been the good girl; wanting to please God, her father and mother and do what's right.

And now it's Lacey's junior year: she'll have her driver's license and the chance to try out for her church's annual Hell House (a haunted house of sin with scenes like Abortion Girl, Gay Marriage & Suicide).

With the appearance of a new boy, Ty Davis, will Lacey want to test some limits - for the first time ever? Will she start to question things, including her faith and just what will that mean?

Small Town Sinners isn't the kind of book where you fall in love with a relationship or a character, necessarily - not like Melissa Walker's previous book Lovestruck Summer, at least. It's one where you witness a character's growth and her acknowledgement and acceptance of that growth and her change.You can respect her as she grows and matures.

It can be hard to read at times - but that's a good thing. Walker doesn't take what could be the easy way out and make Lacey and her friends less intense in their beliefs or Hell House less intense in its practice. Nor does she mock them or belittle them. They are who they are and they do what hey do - and that's some of what makes certain parts hard to read, but also what makes Lacey's development and growth real and the story something you certainly won't be sorry you read.

This is a book with  religion but I dare to say it's not a book about religion - at least not only about religion., also, if not more so, about finding and accepting who you are as you grow up and distinguish yourself as an individual.

There are not a lot of YA novels written that involve religion (few in a non-mocking way, fewer still that treat the characters with understanding) much less to this extent and it was nice to see here because it really is a large part of a lot of teens' lives. Maybe not the kind of religion that the House of Enlightenment practices . . . but maybe that, too. (Small Town Sinners stemmed from/was inspired by a piece, "Hell House," Melissa wrote for ELLEgirl which is linked HERE on her website.)

The characters were each very enjoyable in the novel, bringing something unique and different to the story. I loved Starla Joy, Dean and Ty as her friends. It was also nice to see her parents. The glimpses we saw or her mother (we saw more of her father) were small, but fantastic.

Melissa Walker's novels seem to be quite different from each other, but always leave me eagerly awaiting whatever is coming next.


huge thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for my review copy of this book

In My Mailbox Monday

This is admittedly an odd post . . . I did get things in my mailbox, but as my birthday is Friday (yay!) I've decided to keep everything until Friday and then open them ;-) (I'm pretty sure what a few of them are - an LT Early Reviewers book and one or two for review but some I don't know.)

So, instead, I'm curious what you've gotten this past week - either that you've purchased to read, gotten for review or anything else!!

And if there's something you think I should get (with that birthday coming up and all) let me know and maybe I will . . .

(Email inboxes and ebooks count , too.)

(mailbox pic found here)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cinema Saturday [Beastly]

movie: June 28, 2011 (DVD/Blu-ray); Sony Pictures; 86 minutes
novel: February 8, 2011 (movie tie-in paperback); HarperTeen; 336 pages

Book summary:

I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

Beastly is a close retelling of Alex Flinn's novel by the same name. In the movie the characters are introduced much more quickly (which moves the story along well and gets the movie going) than in the book.

The movie also starts with almost an abundance of displays of vanity and we see right off the bat that Kyle is a guy not to be liked. But this, too, moves everything along nicely. Kendra is part of the story almost immediately - and as a witch, too - not just a strange girl. Mary Kate Olsen as Kendra is one of my favorite characters in Beastly. I think she does a superb job. She has the right amount of oddness along with some great acting - it really makes you want to see her in more things.

Little things, of course, are different than in the novel - it's a different dance, little different lead up (and the earlier introduction of the characters) but the fantastic thing is that the relationships between the characters - throughout the story - stays true to what they were in the novel.

The lighting of Beastly and the fast filming used especially during scene changes really makes it feel like a young movie - but not one (at least, I don't think) that will feel dated in just a few years. The music featured is also a nice selection, it sets the mood for a lot of scenes - even adds to them - but isn't ubiquitous Top 40 that will feel dated, either.

Kyle's relationship with his tutor Will is downplayed in the movie which is really a shame as Neil Patrick Harris is great as the character in the film and the relationship, in the novel, really helped Kyle grow and develop into the new him.

It's understandable what they changed for the movie and unless you've just read Beastly you maybe won't catch or miss most of it, but reading the novel really will give you a deeper grasp of the story. Overall, though, Beastly is a very enjoyable movie with some great characters (Neil Patrick Harris [Will], Mary Kate Olsen [Kendra], and Lisagay Hamilton [Zola] especially).
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