Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Memory Boy ~ Will Weaver review

Memory Boy
January 3, 2012 (first pub'd March 6, 2001)
240 pages
add on Goodreads/buy on Amazon

It's been two years since the volcanic explosions in the Pacific Northwest. More than just eruptions, this series of  events left the volcanoes - and really - the country irrevocably changed. With Mount Rainier and Mount Adams among other erupted, their ash spilling out across the country, sunlight is scarce and gasoline, food and other staples are being rationed.

Miles Newell and his family are leaving their Minneapolis home behind, settling out on the Ali Princess, a contraption Miles invented, before it's too unsafe for them not to do so.

Memory Boy charts their course on an uncertain journey across a, now, very different world.

Miles and his family aren't hoping to go far - with gas rationed and their not driving a car, that much is obvious, but we do get to see a lot about how different even just Minnesota has become in the two years since all of the volcanic eruptions.

Memory Boy
 is told in three stories almost: that of Miles two years ago, around the time of the eruptions/explosions; Miles now; and through another character whose who and when are explained later on in the story. As the book is short (the novel itself just over 200 pages), it's nice to get some of the background  while also getting the current story.

The book is short, though. It's best described as a glimpse. A glimpse of what Miles was like two years ago. A glimpse of how Miles helps his family now. A glimpse of how his family interacts with each other - now and before. A glimpse of how the ash is affecting the country - or, at least, the towns the Newells pass through. A glimpse of what different people will do - or choose to do - to survive.

Memory Boy is not hugely complex. It is short and sweet. In fact, it stopped right when I really wanted it to keep going. (I've stared the sequel The Survivors, though, and am hoping that will give me some more.) I do think it's shortness and not have a complicated plot is to its benefit. It will be great for younger readers and also, those who it's hard to get to read. I know someone I have trouble getting to read things and this being short and a fast read, I think I can get them to read it. And then draw them to other books (including The Survivors with it).

Rating: 8/10

Thank you to Harper for my copy for review

Other Books You Might Like:  Life As We Knew It (& the rest of the Last Survivors series) by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Girl ~ Paige Harbison (eARC) review

New Girl
January 31, 2012
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Fascinated by the Harry Potter books and thinking that boarding school would open up a whole new - amazing - world to her, she'd applied for the first time before even starting high school, to Manderlay Academy. Only to be rejected.

At first she hated the the local public high school, Saint Augustine High School, finding it plain in comparison the the possibility of the esteemed Manderlay. But she's grown to like, if not love, her life - 'walks' with her dog consist of throwing a tennis ball into the waves, she has a best friend, the ocean air blows in her bedroom window every night - when her parents present their surprise.

Over the years - it's the summer before her senior year - they have been secretly submitting applications on her behalf to Manderlay. And she has been accepted. Not wanting to disappoint her parents, she feigns enthusiasm and has one last blowout summer with her friends before heading off to soon-to-snow New Hampshire to find what awaits her.

Far different from what she imagined when she first applied, she finds the is a place for her because the schools new girl of the year before, the girl everyone wanted to know Rebecca (Becca) Normandy has been missing since the end of the last school year.

Everyone seems to see her as replacing Becca - or trying to as it's obvious she never could. Becca's name and face are everywhere. Becca's photos have been left pinned to the wall on the side of the room that was Becca's but is now hers. Everyone has a story about Becca . . . Becca this . . . Becca that. The only one who doesn't seem to be as all about Becca is Max.

It's obvious to her that Becca's life was much, much beter . . . what's not obvious to any of them, though, is if she's really still out there just waiting to come take it all back.

New Girl is a retelling of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, one of my favorite, if not favorite-favorite books ever. So, perhaps I had higher hopes than most starting this? I definitely liked that it did keep a lot of the Rebecca story elements. Some of the things that were in New Girl were just little things - characters names that transferred over, if slightly changed, or locations that were used - but it was nice to recognize the similarities and how they connected Rebecca to New Girl.

While I do think that knowing Rebecca allows a reader to get more out of - or at least catch on to some things faster with - New Girl, I don't think it's a case of needing to. In fact, I plan on rereading Rebecca because New Girl brought the story up in my head enough (and reminded me how much I love it enough) that I want to revisit it!

It was hard while reading New Girl and the New Girl (we don't get her name until very late in the story) was having such a hard time at Manderlay to understand her desire to stick it out only to not disappoint her parents. (Or even, really, to go in the first place.) I wish some of that had been played up a little bit because it never seemed like she had a bad relationship with her parents but then she's having such a hard time and still doesn't want them to think she's anything other than cool. It just felt odd.

While it was interesting to see chapters from Becca's perspective as opposed to solely hearing everyone else rave about her or say how much the missed her, there were a couple of things that didn't quite follow through. One of them, I felt was going to explain her behavior some, (it's about half way through the book and would be spoilery or I'd quote it to make sure I'm not mistaken) but then nothing else came of it.

She does get deeper at a few points, but it wasn't quite enough to make me care about her or sympathize with her.

There's also more sex (or maybe the way it's a part of the novel, not necessarily how frequently?) and swearing than seems necessary - at least for a YA book.

Rating: 6/10

read thanks to HarlequinTeen & NetGalley

Soundtrack: Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO and The One That Got Away - Katy Perry

Other Books You Might Like: Rebecca
by Daphne DuMaurier and Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cinema Saturday [The Big Year]

The Big Year
20th Century Fox
January 31, 2012
PG/100 minutes
info at IMDb/buy on Amazon
(Based on Mark Obmascik's book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession)

In the world of birders, there's a goal set each calendar year, and based on the honor system: who can spot the most varieties of our feathered friends?*

Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is the current all time champion and known in the birding world for his accomplishment. Brad Harris (Jack Black), new to the birding world and trying to work a full-time job all the while and Stu Preissler (Steve Martin), a CEO who's currently un-retired are out to have their own big years . . . And Bostick is back for his second, aiming to keep his record alive.

Harris and Preissler are less concerned with beating each other (though both want tot win) than with keeping the arrogant Bostick from winning his second big year.

The Big Year takes the characters all over the world in their hope of seeing the most bird species in a calendar years. From New Mexico to Alaska to the Everglades to New Jersey, they travel all over the United States in search of new birds. Sometimes chasing each other, sometimes trying to evade each other.

When I first saw the previews for this movie, I thought it was not at all my kind of movie. Something about the trailers didn't appeal to me. I thought it looked just goofy and weird (sorry!). But when I looked into it more when Think Jam emailed me about it, actually read what it was about, I thought I might like it.

It turns out, the movie is a lot different that I expected it to be. It's not a slapstick comedy or like an SNL skit about birdwatchers and how serious they can get about their sport.  While The Big Year does show how seriously birders can take their big years - or even just recreational (albeit semi-serious recreational) birding, it's not a big joke about that.

The movie is more of a grown-up buddy comedy. Their is a great friendship in the movie between Priessler (Martin) and Harris (Black) that has its ups and downs. There is also a great focus on the different familial relationships the different men have; and how hard it can be to have a passion for something (birding) and balance that with your home life and/or work life. Some of the characters do a better job than others figuring out where and how to dedicate themselves.

The Big Year is, of course, incredibly funny (I don't think you can have Steve Martin and Jack Black and Owen Wilson in a movie and it not be funny - one of them, I'm sure, two of them maybe, three of them and it not be funny? I'd have to see that.) . . . it is, however more of a dramedy - as long as the emphasis stays on the medy part.

This was a great movie with some really fantastic actors, great scenery (even if the characters don't enjoy it, you can), and a good story line. It should appeal to a lot of ages.

Thank you to ThinkJam for providing my copy of this movie :)

*from Amazon synopsis

Friday, January 27, 2012

Article 5 ~ Kristen Simmons (ARC) review

Article 5
Tor Teen
January 31, 2012
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

It's been three years since the war ended but already life in the United Sates is almost unrecognizable. Seventeen year old Ember Miller remember what it was like before: when there were police, not just the soldiers, the Federal Bureau of Reformation; when there was the Bill of Rights, not the Moral Statues; when you could read the books you wanted, go out after dark, when there was enough food to go around, new things were still to be had and cities - and people - were whole.

Now, though, cities have been abandoned, some destroyed, too, by the war. The FBR, or MM (Moral Militia) as Ember and her friends call them, rule all. Despite her single mother who seems to all but love breaking the rules (reading inappropriate books and magazines) that can lead to citations and arrests, Ember has learned how to stay under the radar, how to get by.

Until, that is her mother is arrested.

Arrested for not complying with Article 5 of the Moral Statues.

What's even worse is that one of the MM officers at the arrest is Chase Jennings. The boy who left years ago. The boy Ember still loves.

Ember's life falls apart when her mother is arrested . . . but that moment is only the beginning of a dramatic journey for Ember in this new, drastically different society.

Kristen Simmons' debut is so, so splendidly amazing. It's a book that will keep you up late reading and inf you do have to sleep (darn you, sleep), you'll find yourself putting off everything else during the day (breakfast, personal grooming, work, whatever) to finish it. It's truly remarkable that this is her debut novel.

The chemistry that is present between Ember and Chase - even while they are doing their best to deny it to each other, themselves, and anyone who might notice or listen - is absolutely enticing. It's the kind of chemistry that draws you in as a reader and makes you want to somehow be a part of it. (Though, like literal chemistry, adding another element would likely cause some sort of combustion, explosion, fizzling or other harm ) The fact that Simmons can so well portray the relationship between these two characters given the situation (and I won't give it all away) that they find themselves is that much more impressive.

I'm kind of in love with both of them - separately and together.

Another thing that really makes Article 5 shine is how well the author conveys emotion. The language and phrasing she chooses is just phenomenal and really pulls at you. I looked for quotes I wanted to use but as I typed them in, I worried they were to spoilery. . . trust me?

Kristen Simmons creates characters, makes you care about them, places them in a world that could seem absurd but really, truly does not, and then jerks those characters around (and you, the reader with them). You worry for the characters, you feel their pain, there's suspense, you feel their hope, there's anger. When I say Article 5 is an emotional book it's not just emotional because it's sad at points, it has the full spectrum of emotions.

The only, only thing that - while reading - I could possibly have wanted from Article 5 that I didn't get was a little description of the war or how it started or why there wasn't water or if it was just the US. Background, I guess. But, the book stays so in the now, in the present, that I soon forgot about all of that. After finishing the book, I'm not sure it was necessary or a missing element, actually.

This is a gripping, emotional debut with two main characters I need to read more of...

Requested from TorTeen for review

Other Books You Might Like: Beyond the Gates (Tomorrow Girls #1) by Eva Gray and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday 13

13 Books I'm Glad I Don't Live In

(They're Imaginative and Engrossing [for the most part] . . . But I'd Hate to Live There For Real!)

  1. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (hoping to get that review up later today if my migraine lets up - otherwise tomorrow am)
  2. Hunger Games series
  3. Eve by Anna Carey
  4. Bumped by Megan McCafferty 
  5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  6. Roboapocalypse by David H Wilson
  7. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  8. Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
  9. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  10. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  11. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch WIlliams
  12. The Awakening by Kate Chopin (I LOVE this book - but I think the lack of women's lib would bring me down . .. along with the character's overall feeling)
  13. The Scarlet Letter (again with the women's lib and also, I don't like this book -sorry)

(Thursday 13 is hosted here)

Don't forget to Enter to WIN a Blu-Ray copy of To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Edition today's the LAST DAY!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday

The first is another book I suppose I figured you'd all just psychically know I was wanting to read (it's possible based on the book) but in case not, here it is in a post:

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

June 19, 2012 from St Martin's Griffin

What's not to love about a book written by Courtney Summers? Really? Also, it has zombies. That is all.

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.
May 1, 2012 - HarperCollin's Children's Books

Hate to break it to you, but my 'why' for this is going to be short, too . .. it's the sequel to Divergent (which apparently I still need to post a review for?!?!). Also, it's a sequel to Divergent - and have you seen how old Veronica Roth is not? You should have to be older to come up with such great great things (flawed logic, I"m sure but still, my logic).

Once (Eve #2) by Anna Carey

Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?

Brimming with danger and star-crossed romance, and featuring a vivid dystopian landscape, this electrifying follow-up to Eve, which bestselling author Lauren Kate called “a gripping, unforgettable adventure—and a fresh look at what it means to love” is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes adventure of The Hunger Games and the irresistible love story of Romeo and Juliet.

out July 3, 2012 from HarperCollins

While Eve was not my absolute favorite, favorite book of the fall (review) after its ending, I very much want to see where the story takes things. Even more so after reading a bit of that synopsis and finding that things might not be as safe as Eve thought they were going to be - and are likely even less hopeful!!

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

On the night of Becca’s high school graduation, the discovery of an unidentified dead girl left to bleed out on the side of a dirt road sends the town—and Becca—into a tailspin. Becca has always longed to break free from her small home town, but as the violence of the outside world creeps into her backyard, she withdraws and retreats inward, paralyzed for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson’s life are intercut with Becca’s own coming-of-age summer, unfolding into the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and tense romantic relationships as the summer’s tumultuous events twist Becca closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s murder.

July 5, 2012 from Dutton Juvenile

While this is not like Lauren Myracle's Shine (review) it does have enough shades of it in the summary that I find it incredibly appealing. I also love small towns, self discovery/identity and the idea of finding out what it was that happened to Amelia . . . the tension that could possible create would make for a great (if frustrating?) read.

I also really love that cover. It's simple but oh so beautiful.

Those are the books (I couldn't pick just one or two this week) that I'm excited to read - what about you?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In Darkness ~ Nick Lake (eARC) review (blog stop)

In Darkness
Bloomsbury USA Children's
January 17, 2012
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two.
After the Haitian earthquake of 2004, teenage 'Shorty' is trapped beneath the rubble of a hospital. There for a shooting wound, Shorty is now thirsty, hungry, scared, and alone in the darkness. Raised in the slum of Site Soleil Shorty has seen more violence in his short life than most of us will ever see. Drawn to the gangsters that rule his are, he has also become a part of it.

He has seen his father killed and his twin sister taken away. A twin sister he longs to find again. A twin sister who has the other half of his soul, someone he is linked with forever.

His long-lost twin is not the only one Shorty is linked with, though. He also has a link with Toussaint L'Ouverture. Two centuries ago, Toussaint led a slave rebellion to get the French out of Haiti.

As Shorty grows weaker and weaker in the darkness her relives his life, leading up to the bullet wound that brought him to the hospital. Toussaint's life and rebellion are also seen - as is what connects the two.

Can either of the two, living in Haiti, hundreds of years apart, ever be free?

I will say right away, that In Darkness is going to be a hard book for me to review. Something about it just did not engage me. The story is incredibly compelling. The way that the 2004 earthquake is used as a sort of catalyst for readers learning Shorty's story (or his telling it) is really fantastic - and perfect, too because it's not only something that did happen and was an overwhelming event but given the characters in the book, I can't think of another time (or reason) that any of them would sit down and reflect on their life.

I don't know why either I didn't connect with the book or it didn't connect with me. How the two stories were told (Toussaint's and Shorty's) through Then and Nows was very well done. They seemed to fade into each other well, without seeming jarring or like one was stopping or starting too suddenly.

In Darkness does let readers in on a part of Haiti - and I would say life in general - that is too seldom addressed both in fiction and nonfiction. Through Shorty's recollections and small mentions of his life in the Site, we see just how little they did/do have. And one can only imagine how much of that is likely gone now after the earthquake (and cholera). Nick Lake doesn't beat readers over the head with the hardships of his characters - fictional but from a real place - but sometimes its the subtlety that makes the most impact.

I would say that the last twenty of so pages did resonate with me. I did have more of a connection with them than with the rest of the book. It is a very strong ending that really pulls everything from the rest of the book together incredibly well.

I just could not get into this book, could not connect with it (or, therefore, the characters) though. (I may try to reread it sometime and see if we get on better then.)

Rating: 6/10

Thank you to Kate at Bloomsbury for my NetGalley copy of the novel

Monday, January 23, 2012

Everneath ~ Brodi Ashton (arc) review

Balzer + Bray
January 24, 2012
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Nikki Beckett disappeared for six months . . . only for her it was more like one hundred years. While her friends and family had no idea where she was, Nikki was in the Everneath with Cole. Cole is an Everliving survives by feeding off the emotions of humans. During the Feed, Nikki was the human he fed off of.

Now, instead of staying with Cole, Nikki has decided to Return to the surface, to humanity for six months. She hopes to make it up to everyone, her boyfriend Jack mostly but also her father, her brother, her friend Jules, for suddenly disappearing on them last spring. Before, that is, she disappears again . . . for good.

Something made all the more hard by Cole who has left Everneath and followed her not only to the surface, but to her hometown and high school.

Does redemption exist for anyone, let aloe Nikki - and will she be able to find it in time? As Nikki's sixth months draw to a close will she be able to accept that time is all she has or will she want to tempt her fate in a an attempt to stay with Jack longer? Or will she return to Everneath with Cole?

Everneath is a book that starts off with the reader not knowing the full story. You don't really know how/why Nikki disappeared, just that everyone seems not that pleased with her even though she is back. Half of the story is told in the present and half in flashbacks so we learn about Nikki's life before she went to Everneath and we slowly learn what led to her going to Everneath even as we see why she doesn't want to be there now.

I did go through the beginning (and even middle, actually) of the story feeling like I was missing something. There was such a little amount of discussion about either the how or why Nikki had disappeared - either from her father (especially) or younger brother or friends questioning her or Nikki offering some sort of (likely false) explanation. Same for her return. It just seemed that a teenage girl who had been gone for six months would inspire more questioning than what occurred. There seemed to be a general consensus that she had been off doing drugs and there a was a little of that used, but I still thought she slipped back into life too easily.

Maybe I'm just being picky. (Or not.)

The premise of the story (aside from my little grip above), all of the mythology used, the way things around that mythology played out, and the different characters were all incredibly original. The ending (or 100-150 pages) was fantastic. The way the different elements and the little things mentioned throughout the novel really come together is great.

As this is book number one in a series, I'm really excited to see where the second book takes the characters (especially after that ending).

I love that there are some books now that are putting new twists on some of the ancient myths - so much better when they're so incredibly original, well thought out, and resolve themselves well but leave you itching to see what happens next!

Rating: 7/10

(review copy received from publisher)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cinema Saturday [To Kill a Mockingbird]

Today's Cinema Saturday post is a bit late (I overslept this morning!), sorry about that.

Today's movie is To Kill a Mockingbird 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray/DVD Combo.

I'm so, so happy I watched this film again. I know how much I liked it when I watched it several years ago in junior high when we were reading Harper Lee's classic of the same name. Now, though, I've gotten so much more out of it.

Not only is this remastered (and Blu-Ray quality) version just stunningly beautiful, but I've noticed things in the plot that I know I didn't before. I don't know if it has to do with not watching it when I knew I was going to have (or just had, I can't remember) a test on the subject or if it's because I'm older . . . either way, but I'm getting a lot more out of it this time.

Before I loved the movie for the plot and the way it could resonate with just about anyone at just about any point in time, now, though, I can almost appreciate the cinematic beauty of To Kill a Mockingbird. Just about any shot would be a beautiful still photo.

To Kill a Mockingbird deals a lot with innocence - whether it's childhood innocence (both the children growing up and losing [some of] theirs or how their innocence affects the adults around them); criminal innocence or even childlike innocence.

It's lovely to see how great Gregory Peck is as a father figure and a role model. Someone who is trying to do right by his children and the community, even when its not what they want from him. I had really missed, I believe, when I saw the movie before how Jem's view of his father grew over the course of the film.

This Anniversary Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird absolutely magnificent. It will leave you wanting a giant TV to watch it on because it's really that gorgeous looking - and you'll want to reread the book (or read it if you somehow haven't read it before) because it portrays it that beautifully.

The special features are really worth watching, too: interviews with Gregory Peck and Mary Badam (Scout) and more.

Even if you already have this on DVD, you really need this version - it's a film that you really should own on Blu-Ray!

My Giveaway of the Blu-Ray

(I need to watch this and A Time to Kill some day . . . they're both fantastic court dramas that really deal well with injustice, too.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird (Movie) 50th Anniversary Edition Giveaway

Win a Blu-ray copy of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: Top Ten American Classics of Our Time

Digitally Remastered and Fully Restored with Over Three Hours of Bonus Materials Including Two Full­Length Documentaries

On Limited Edition Collector’s Series Blu-ray™ Combo Pack,
Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, one of the screen’s most beloved and critically acclaimed films, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a commemorative Limited Edition Collector’s Series Blu-ray™ Combo Pack as well as on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD from Universal Studios Home Entertainment on January 31, 2012. The powerful and poignant adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel hits the half-century mark, digitally remastered and fully restored from high resolution 35MM original film elements, plus more than three-and-a-half hours of bonus features chronicling the making of the cinematic masterpiece.

I am absolutely thrilled to be able to host a giveaway of this film. Not only is it a remarkable film - it's one of probably two classic films (along with Rebecca) where I just LOVE both the book and the movie adaptation equally.

This anniversary edition has some amazing special features:
Fearful Symmetry which is a feature-length documentary on the making of the movie featuring cast and crew interviews; plus a visit to Harper Lee's hometown
A Conversation with Gregory Peck feature-length documentary with the film's star that includes interviews film clips, home movies and more
100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics a look at the film restoration process (Since The Film Foundation started talking about movie restoration on DVDs I've been interested in this, so this should be great!)

plus a whole lot of other great special features including Mary Badham who played Scout sharing her experience . . .

(Giveaway using Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post - click 'read more' if you don't see it!)

Unquestionably an American classic, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is one of the most beloved films and novels of our time. In honor of its release on Blu-ray on January 31, we will take a look back at other classic books and movies that have helped define our nation over the last century.


Set on Long Island’s North Shore and in New York City during the Roaring Twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is often cited as one of the best novels of the 20th century. The novel has spawned seven film adaptations, numerous book and graphic novel interpretations, stage productions, a BBC radio special, computer games and even an opera.


Based on the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1939’s The Wizard of Oz is adored by both children and adults the world over. This film is unique due to its early use of Technicolor, special effects, and bizarre characters, sets, costumes and makeup. Despite all of the love the film receives now, it was initially a financial failure, but rereleases have more than made up for its early disappointment.


John Steinbeck’s amazing novel The Grapes of Wrath won the Pulitzer Prize in 140, as well as the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. The novel is set during the Great Depression and focuses on a family trying to escape their bleak life in the wake of the Dust Bowl. This classic American novel has been the inspiration for a great film of the same name, a play, an opera and a song by Bruce Springsteen.


Starring and directed by Orson Welles, Citizen Kane is considered by many to be the absolute greatest American film ever made. The film is loosely based on the lives of both William Randolph Hearst and Welles himself. Citizen Kane is noted for its innovative cinematography and unique narrative structure, and was nominated for nine Academy Awards.


J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye has become incredibly popular with teenagers over the past 60 years. The book focuses on angst, alienation and rebellion, and some of the content, like its use of profanity and sexuality, have made it frequently challenged and sometime banned by different governments. This novel has also been famously linked to numerous murders and crimes, most notably that of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman.


The 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird is often cited as one of the greatest films ever made. This film’s impact on American cinema is widespread, and it has received many honors over the past 50 years, including being preserved in the National Film Registry and winning three Academy Awards. Atticus Finch has often been cited as one of the greatest movie heroes, and Gregory Peck’s performance is widely considered to be one of the great performances in American film history.


Truman Capote’s 1966 novel In Cold Blood detailed the 1959 murders of a Kansas farmer, his wife, and two of their children. This non-fiction work took Capote six years of work, researching the family, their community and their killers, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, with his childhood friend (and author of To Kill a Mockingbird), Harper Lee. At the time, the book became the best selling crime novel.


Based on a 1969 novel of the same name, 1972’s The Godfather is an epic American crime film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Picture and helped revitalize Brando’s career. This stunning film also starred film greats Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton.

BELOVED (1987)

Set after the Civil War, Toni Morrison’s breathtaking 1987 novel Beloved is the story of an American slave who escaped slavery by fleeing to a free state with her children. After killing one of her children rather than sending her back into slavery, the woman and her family are haunted by the presence of the child’s ghost. Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988, and was adapted into a film staring Oprah Winfrey in 1998.


1993’s Schindler’s List is a film about a German businessman who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film, directed by Steve Spielberg, won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Schindler’s List stars Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes.

For your chance to win a copy of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION, simply answer the following question:

To Kill a Mockingbird was written by which Pulitzer-Prize-winning American Author?
·         Harper Lee
·         Alice Adams
·         Isabel Wilkerson

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don't Breathe a Word ~ Holly Cupala review

Don't Breathe a Word
January 3, 2012
320 pages
add on Goodreads/buy on Amazon

Joy Delamore's asthma is suffocating her. Her parents barely let her go anywhere, if they do they want her supervised by one of them. Her older brother has been charged with her care. They'll do anything to keep anything from happening to her. All this after Joy's asthma almost claimed her life.

Her new boyfriend promises them to he will take care of her. Soon, he's smothering Joy just as much - or more.

She can only take their 'caring' and Asher's intensity for so long before she has to get away. Joy leaves it all behind to seek out Creed, the one person who has offered her help; a homeless boy.

Leaving her old life behind Joy finds a new life on the streets of Seattle and learns more about her self in a short time than she ever did in her years in with her parents.

After reading Holly Cupala's first book Tell Me a Secret and finding it incredibly emotional, I very, very much wanted to read Don't Breathe a Word; I was thrilled when Harper sent me a copy to review. About a seemingly completely different subject matter - yet also a difficult one to approach - than Tell Me a Secret, Don't Breathe a Word is also about a young girl finding her own strength in the midst of a very difficult situation. One where a lot of people (of any age) could easily lose themselves.

Holly Cupala writes great novels of girl-power that are also just about you-power, whether you're female or male. I do think that Don't Breathe a Word will work better with male audiences (given the subject matter) than her first book.

Cupala's sophomore novel is much stronger and more consistent, if maybe less emotional, than her first book.

I had more of a personal connection with the story in Tell Me a Secret so it's possible that's why I found that tale to have more of an emotional impact. This one does have more of a subtle emotional kick all of the way through.

I'm thrilled the publisher gave me the chance to read and review this title and am already looking forward to Holly Cupala's next title (and recommending this one!).

Rating: 9/10

Thank you to HarperTeen for my copy for review

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Internet on Strike

Waiting On Wednesday [The Selection]

Instead of just swooning over the cover for this book and whining talking about it on Twitter when ever it comes up, I am going to make a full Waiting On Wednesday post about:

Kiera Cass' The Selection

The dress on the chis cover is one that makes me wish I had some sort of 'creation' machine where I could either stick the book in or point at it and say 'Make that!' and have that dress. It's glorious; it's magnificent!

The novel itself sounds a bit like Wither meets maybe Entwined and something entirely original . . . here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

if you want to add the book to your Goodreads (I'm sure you do), it's page is here and it's here on Amazon.

The Selection releases April 24 from HarperTeen by debut author Keira Cass who is pretty entertaining on Youtube :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stolen Away ~ Alyxandra Harvey (eARC) review

Stolen Away
Walker Children's
January 17, 2012
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

After bringing us humor, romance, a little violence and a lot of adventure (along with some some vampires) in her Drake Chronicles series and romance, humor and a very swoon-worthy boy in the spiritualist era stand-alone Haunting Violet Alyxandra Harvey is back, this time with the fae, in Stolen Away.

Eloise is a normal seventeen-year-old, spending early days of fall with her friends, trying to escape the oppressive summer hear that won't seem to break. She is eating ice cream with her best friends Jo and Devin when a strange young man approaches her. It's his attire (easily something more out of A Knight's Tale era than today), calling her Lady Eloise while kneeling, and insisting she come with him to be safe that disconcerts Eloise. Of course, he is gorgeous, too, but that's not really of issue at the moment.

The three friends are able to get away from Lucas. But it's definitely not the only time they see him and he is definitely not their only problem. In fact, his warnings might have been right.

Eloise is stolen away by Lord Strahan and imprisoned in his Rath. She knew little to nothing about the fae beforehand but now she is their prisoner. Strahan is only meant to rule for seven years, as faery law dictates but he refuses to comply. He hopes to use Eloise to lure her, somewhat elusive and mysterious Aunt Antonia, his wife to him as she is the only thing threatening to end his reign. A continued reign that is wreaking havoc on both worlds.

Eloise knows, as everyone works to rescue her, that she is going to have to rescue her aunt - even if it means working with the fae.

Stolen Away  is another absolute stunner of a book from Alyxandra Harvey. She has taken all of her strengths from her previous novels, the humor, the romance, the action and adventure and introduced them - and readers - to an entirely new world and characters. And the fae.

Harvey has a talent for writing best friend relationships that seem so absolutely real that you, as a reader, just almost need to be their friend, too. There's closeness, humor, background, history, jokes, sometimes fights, everything in those relationships that make them honest and realistic and amazing. She writes my favorite best friend relationships in books. (Besides the friend relationships in The Drake Chronicles and in Haunting Violet, the only other best friend relationships that good are in Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Raised by Wolves series - maybe it's something with the Devon/Devin name?)

I think I really, truly adore that Alyxandra Harvey's books have characters that are sneaky and backstabbing and manipulating . . . unless they're supposed to be.

This is a story that - when it's not making you just that little bit anxious as to the outcome and sometimes even then - makes you happy to read. There are lines that make me smile, the characters interactions are sweet or snarky - or both. The way they work together is brilliant and refreshing. It's a book that will make you smile.

The only, only thing I didn't love to pieces was that I thought Jo was 'in love' a little fast with her guy. I don't think it affected the plot any (in fact, I think it actually helped it) but I just wasn't seeing where her words came from, personally.

The faery lore used is really great. While I don't read a ton of fae themed/focused books, I do read quite a few and there were several things in Stolen Away that either I hadn't heard before (or had possibly forgotten) or they were things that were rarely, rarely used. Alyxandra Harvey really draws from outside of the commonly used faery mythology in Stolen Away.

After reading Stolen Away (and Bleeding Hearts just about a month ago), Alyxandra Harvey is in my top three favorite author - if not the very top!

Rating: 9.5/10  . . . so we'll round up for tagging purposes and such ;-)

Thank you to Bloomsbury and NetGalley for my digital galley

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fracture ~ Megan Miranda (eARC) Review + Interview

Walker Children's
January 17, 2012
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon

There's only so long a person can fall through ice, be in the freezing water and survive. At least that's what Delaney Maxwell thought before she fell through the ice of Falcon Lake. Delaney was under the ice for eleven minutes before she was pulled out. Eleven minutes.

Her heart stopped. Her brain stopped. Delaney was dead.

Common - and medical knowledge alike say that Delaney should have brain and other damage yet when she wakes up from her coma, she seems fine. At least, outwardly.

Brain scans show her brain is damaged, but there's no evidence of that damage in her actions . . .

The only way Delaney feels different is the inexplicable 'pulls' she feels. Suddenly, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. But what comes first: her appearance or the fact that they will die?

With everything in and around her seemingly different, Delaney feels more alone than ever. When a mysterious new boy, Troy, appears and claims to know about her, about comas, will he help her, be an outlet? Or will her bring more trouble?

Fracture is an amazing debut. When we learn of Delaney's coma - and her waking from it - the detail that is used is great. It helps understand everything that the characters are experiencing - both Delaney and her parents. It's much better than if Delaney had just woken up, details had been glossed over but the general picture given. The details really help me as a reader connect with Delaney.

I very much enjoy the directions the different characters take over the course of the story. They weren't all predictable - in fact, most of them were not - yet their actions did fit with the plot and what was happening around those characters. I love when characters do things that aren't predictable or expected, that are deeper, more thought out than the easy, predictable actions. When they flow as well as they did in Fracture, that is.

Megan Miranda seemed to have a great grasp of the characters emotions given some very difficult situations, no less. Her writing, too, was something I really loved. The different phrases she used, seemingly simple but such a beautiful way of comparing or portraying things.

The only place where I could have wished for maybe just a little bit more was with Troy. I wouldn't have hated just a little bit more development of his character.

The ending of Fracture is . . . ooh, I love it. It sneaks up on you, but then wow is it there. And it is pretty darn amazing.

Rating: 9/10

egalley received, through NetGalley, thanks to Kate at Bloomsbury

Author Interview with Megan Miranda

You were a high school teacher, have any of your students made their way into your book?

They have not. Actually, it was something I tried to be really careful about—at first, I went so far as to make sure none of the names overlapped, either. But there are so many! 90 kids a semester…that’s a lot of names. So eventually I gave up—I’m sure some of the names overlap, but I promise none of them are based on any real people. It’s more likely that parts of my high school friends made it in (but they didn’t, I swear!), because I knew them in all their dimensions, not just as a teacher.

Which of the Apocalypsies would be your book's BFF? (Or character would be Delaney's?)
Slide by Jill Hathaway would totally be Fracture’s BFF. They both have a paranormal element set in an otherwise typical world. And I’m sure Delaney and Vee would have a lot to talk about. They both know things that they’d probably rather not…

How did your science knowledge/background help in writing Fracture?
I think it helped even more than I originally thought it did. It was really the questions about the unknown that inspired me to write Fracture, but I would never have had those questions if I hadn’t spent that time studying science. So, sure, my background helped with the details, but it was also essential in coming up with the entire premise, even though it wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision.

Your book tour's going to Chicago; any chance you'll be ice skating anywhere? [note to readers: the Chicago part is not that random - ever skated on the rink by Marshall Field's?] Or do you stay away from ice/frozen lakes after writing Fracture?
Oh, definitely not! Though part of me thinks this is also just a product of me getting older. There are things I did when I was younger that I now cringe about. Walking on ice was definitely one of them. So after A) getting older; and B) writing Fracture…you couldn’t pay me enough.

Also, I am highly, highly uncoordinated. Ice skating, even on a rink, is probably not something that would end well.

Any writing/upcoming book news you can share?
My 2nd book should be coming out early 2013 from Walker/Bloomsbury. It’s another standalone, psychological thriller that walks the line between science and paranormal. But it’s also very different from Fracture. It’s about memories, the thin line between the real and the imagined, and friendship.

Is there an upcoming 2012 YA novel that you think we all just have to read?
Well, I already mentioned Slide, so that’s a definite. I think humor is really hard to pull off, but I laughed so hard through Robin Mellom’s Ditched. Highly recommended. And I loved Veronica Rossi’s Under The Never Sky.

Congratulations on Fracture's release!
Thanks for having me!

Thank you Megan for the interview and Kate for setting it up!!

While I don't have a giveaway, Jill Hathaway, author of Slide is being a good book BFF and has a giveaway that ends Thursday!! Here it is L I N K

And here is Megan Miranda's Fracture tour schedule and the Facebook page

In My Mailbox Monday

This is actually a In My Mailbox post that covers about two weeks (I forgot to make one last week!) . . .  

from Harper:

Black Boy White School by Brian F Walker

Memory Boy and its sequel The Survivors by Will Weaver

Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan M James

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

from Penguin/Philomel:

Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street by Peter Abrahams

from Random House/Sandra Kring:

A Life of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring

from ThinkJam

What's Your Number 

The Big Year

Did you get any good reads - or views - this week (or the last)? Anything you're hoping to get this coming week?
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