Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 79

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to learn about new books.

Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien

After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia’s absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher. Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what—or whom—she loves most? (from GoodReads)

I've already read and enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, Birthmarked and Prized, so now it's time for a third! Promised will be released October 2, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 25

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.
Top Ten Books I'd Play Hooky With
I'm making this list about books that I couldn't put down while reading - though I always managed to somehow get myself to school.
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
3. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
4. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
6. Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
7. The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
8. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
9. Heist Society by Ally Carter
10. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book vs. Movie: Game Change

A few weekends ago I watched the HBO movie Game Change, based on the novel by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. I loved the book, which was about the 2008 presidential election. The book discusses the campaigns of Obama, McCain, Clinton, and Edwards, but the movie just focused on John McCain's campaign and specifically his decision to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate.
I thought the movie did a great job of staying close to the plot. The dialogue was taken practically verbatim from the novel, which I always like to see. The story is about Sarah Palin and how she affected the election. No matter how you feel about her, it's obvious that she wasn't vetted properly for her selection and she really wasn't qualified to be vice president. I also think there is room for interpretation. If you like Palin, the movie does at times seem sympathetic towards her and if you don't like her, there's definitely places where it's not.
Also I thought Julianne Moore did a fantastic job portraying Palin. She looks and sounds just like her!
Overall, I was very entertained by the movie and thought it provided a lot of great background information about the McCain campaign, which I found extremely interesting. If you are interested in politics I definitely recommend checking out both the movie and book.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book vs. Movie: The Hunger Games

So last night I went to see The Hunger Games! It was AMAZING!!! I was trying not to get too excited because I didn't want to be disappointed. I thought it really captured the spirit of the book as well as staying really true to the plot. Not that much was changed which was awesome. I have some bullet points I'd like to address, and there might be spoilers.

- I thought all the actors were perfectly cast and did a fantastic job. That obviously includes Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth as well as the rest of the cast. I was especially blown away by Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. He had a much bigger part in the movie but I was okay with that because he did such a good job. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was spot-on as well.

- The set was just how I imagined it. Distict 12, the Capitol and the arena were beautifully designed and really similar to how they were described in the book.

- The entire plot and dialogue were pretty much the same, for which I was glad. There were small differences and obviously things were cut, but the important points were all hit.

- The book is Katniss narrating in first person. But since the movie wasn't just from her perspective, we got some extra scenes with the Gamemakers and President Snow. I really liked these additions because I think they explained things that might have gotten lost in the book to movie adaptation.

- I've always really liked Peeta but now I am in love with him. Josh Hutcherson did a wonderful job and I'm really glad he was cast.

- For some things I didn't like, I was surprised that almost half the movie was the training that goes on before The Hunger Games. I think some of that time should have been added to the arena portion, which could have been longer. I thought that Katniss's relationships with Rue and Peeta could have been developed more. I know a lot of it is them sitting in a cave talking, so I understand why that was cut.

- People have been mentioning they didn't like the shaky cam, but it actually wasn't a problem for me. I didn't even notice it but I also don't get motion sickness which could be part of it.

- I like Lenny Kravitz, but I wasn't really a fan of his portrayal of Cinna. I felt like he should have been more emotional than he was. He didn't do horrible and hopefully he'll step it up in the next movie.

Overall, I loved The Hunger Games and I was very impressed with the movie. It really stays true to the book and now I wish I could watch Catching Fire on-screen so I can see the rest of the series come to life. I would definitely recommend seeing this soon!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin's magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin's stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. (from GoodReads)

I wasn't sure how I was going to like A Game of Thrones. My brother is reading the series and has literally been begging me to read it for months. I finally went home for Spring Break last week so I had an opportunity to start the books. A Game of Thrones was pretty good, but not quite worth all the hype.

The bad thing about A Game of Thrones is that it takes forever to get into. I think I read maybe 150 pages before I understood everything going and started to want to know more. That is a long time for a book. Heck it's even the length of entire books. Looking on GoodReads, a lot of people said they didn't finish the novel and I think that might be way.

The book changes point-of-view between eight characters, which is a lot. Luckily the book is 600 pages so everyone gets ample page time. My brother kept asking me who my favorite character was and I couldn't answer. The way each character is written is pretty similar and no one really stood out to me. Everyone was ok, but there wasn't a character I loved.

The plot is pretty good. It's standard royals-battling-over-thrones and nothing was really that special. This was supposed to be fantasy but there were only a few elements of actual fantasy. It was more of an alternate Medieval time period. I will say that is a lot of unnecessary detail and description that probably could have made the book a lot shorter.

Overall, the book was pretty good. But the fact that it is very slow in the beginning and extremely long will definitely turn off readers. I would have been one of them, but my brother really wanted me to read this book so I pushed through it. I'm glad I did, because now I'm going to watch the show. But unless you have a lot of time and patience you might want to skip A Game of Thrones.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from brother

1996/Spectra/674 pages.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 78

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to learn about new books.

Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making. (From GoodReads)
This sounds really interesting. I like how Rachel is paired with Logan and then their romance blossoms from there. Defiance will be released August 28, 2012.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 24

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.

Top Ten Books on My Spring To Read List

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

2. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

3. A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

4. The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting

5. The Selection by Kiera Cass

6. Gilt by Katherine Longshore

7. Being Friends With Boys by Terra Lyn McVoy

8. Purity by Jackson Pearce

9. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

10. Cross My Heart by Katie Klein

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 77

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are coming out.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school's most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off the from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine? (from GoodReads)

I'm pretty sure this is a retelling of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, which is why I'm so excited to read this! And Then There Were None is an awesome book, so I'm excited to see a modern version of this story. Ten will be released September 18, 2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 23

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.

Top Ten Historical Fiction Novels

1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Even though this was written in the thirties, it's still historical fiction because it's about the Civil War. Obviously this is an American classic and it definitely lives up to it's reputation. Even the movie is amazing.

2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
I love all of Philippa Gregory's novels, but this one is my favorite. I love reading about King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, so this story was perfect for me.

3. Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall
I read this in middle school and then again a few years ago. It's about a girl who moves to Poland during the Cold War. There's romance, adventure, danger, so obviously it's good.

4. The Season by Sarah MacLean
This is a very well-written romance and mystery set during the Regency period of England.

5. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
When I first read this I thought it was like historical fiction Gossip Girl, though not quite as fluffy.

6. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
This is half historical fiction and half contemporary but it's such a good book it still ends up on my list. It's about a girl suffering from extreme grief who finds a diary from the French Revolution.

7. A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
A female spy during the Victorian era? Yes please!

8. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
I think this is an obvious pick!

9. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
I read this a while ago but I remember it being really good!

10. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Another Philippa Gregory book because I couldn't think of a tenth but this is also a super book.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Being Nikki by Meg Cabot

Things aren't pretty for Emerson Watts.

Em was sure there couldn't be anything worse than being a brainiac the body of a teenaged supermodel.

But it turned out she was wrong. Because that supermodel could turn out to have a mother who's gone mysteriously missing, a brother who's shown up on her doorstep demanding answers, a former best friend who's intent on destroying Stark Enterprises to avenge the death of his lost love, and a British heartthrob who's written a song about her that's topping the charts.

How can Em balance all that with school, runway shows, and weekend jaunts to St. Johns — especially when she's got ex-boyfriends crawling out of the woodwork who want more than just a photo op; a sister who is headed to the high school cheerleading championships; a company she represents that seems to be turning to the dark side...

Not to mention trying to convince the love of her life that models aren't really airheads after all...especially one model in particular.

But then, nobody said it was going to be easy being Nikki. (from GoodReads)

I have had Being Nikki on my shelf for the longest time, but just got around to reading it now. I was afraid that I wouldn't remember anything about the firs book, Airhead, but as soon as I started reading it all came back to me. Being Nikki reminded me how much I love Meg Cabot because this was a great sequel.

The concept of this series is very original. A normal girl, Em Watts, has had her brain transplanted into the body of supermodel Nikki Howard. So now Em has to get used to being rich and famous. Unfortunately for her, Nikki works for an evil corporation and discovering all the secrets of Stark is the crux of this novel.

Stark really is one evil entity, but I loved seeing Em get to the bottom of how evil they really are. I really want to see Stark taken down and I think we're on our way to that, which is awesome. I'm really hoping that's what happens in the next book Runaway. Being Nikki also is full of twists and turns which make me even more excited to read the next book.

This review is pretty short because I'm getting ready to go home for Spring Break (whoo!) but I really did enjoy Being Nikki and thought it was just as good as its predecessor (which almost never happens). I'm really looking forward to reading Runaway and seeing how this series is concluded.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: Christmas gift.

2010/Point/336 pages.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 76

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Never Let You Go by Emma Carlson Berne

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. . .

You always want what you can’t have.

Megan never meant to hurt her best friend Anna. She made a mistake, and she’s spent all year trying to regain Anna’s trust. So when Anna invites her to spend the summer on her uncle’s farm, Megan is excited…and relieved. The past is finally behind them.

On the farm, Anna quickly falls for Jordan, a rugged summer-hand. Megan and Jordan have their own spark, but Megan’s betrayed Anna once before and she’s not about to do it again.

Still, the more time that Megan and Jordan spend together, the harder it is to deny their chemistry. But Anna doesn’t like to be ignored—and she doesn’t forgive and forget. What started out as the perfect summer is about to take a very dark turn…. (from Goodreads)

This sounds so creepy, but in a good way! The cover just completes that image, as well. I also like that the main character is named Megan. But it's funny because my roommate is named Anna! I'm getting scared... Anyway, Never Let You Go will be released late 2012.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 22

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like lists and books.

Top Ten Favorite Covers

1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
I absolutely love the colors on this cover - it's so bright and beautiful. I also like the silhouettes, as well.

2. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
This is probably my favorite cover ever. I love that the model has red hair and her pose/costume just sums up the book so well!

3. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
This is so pretty and I love that it looks very vintage and couture.

4. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
I love the guy model posing as Will, especially his Victorian era clothing.

5. The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
I didn't really like this book but I love the cover. It's so mysterious!

6. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
The dress!

7. The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
Very pretty beach scene.

8. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
This is another one my top favorites. I love the juxtaposition of modern and historical - it works so well!

9. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotwood
This isn't released yet, but it's very pretty.

10. The Selection by Kiera Cass
Another one that's not out yet, but I love the dress and the mirrors! It fits the synopsis perfectly.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler

Sometimes the end is just the beginning.

Gabby lived under the radar until her makeover. Way under. But when she started her senior year as a blonder, better-dressed version of herself, she struck gold: Billy Nash believed she was a the flawless girl she was pretending to be. The next eight months with Billy were bliss...Until the night Gabby woke up on the ground next to the remains of his BMW without a single memory of how she got there.

And Billy's nowhere to be found.

All Gabby wants is to make everything perfect again. But getting her life back isn't difficult, it's impossible. Because nothing is the same, and Gabby's beginning to realize she's missed more than a few danger signs along the way.

It's time for Gabby to face the truth, even if it means everything changes.

Especially if it means everything changes. (from GoodReads)

Where It Began was an okay book. I would have liked it a lot better except there were some elements of the plot and characterization that I could not get over. I didn't hate it, but with a few improvements Where It Began could have been a much better book.

The premise was really interesting because it highlighted how you could manipulate the legal system, especially if you have a lot of money and you're still a minor. Billy is the best example of this, because his family is loaded and they are able to keep him out of juvie by hiring the best lawyers and some well-placed bribes. Everyone knows the rich and famous are treated differently when they commit crimes, but here it is in contemporary YA.

Gabby gets a taste of this when she crashes her boyfriend Billy's car while driving drunk. So there's several offenses here, but Billy and his family of privelege are here to help her, as long as she acts a certain way and says all the right things. Luckily for everyone involved, Gabby can't remember a single thing about the accident due to a head injury.

There is a twist surrounding the circumstances of the crash, and I figured it out in the first chapter. I think Where It Began would be much more interesting if I didn't know how it was going to end. Regardless, I felt like the plot was bogged down by unnecessary narration and Gabby's thoughts. The writing wasn't as seamless as I would have liked and I found myself skipping pages just to get away from random details.

Most of the characters in Where It Began are very shallow, Gabby included. I didn't really care for any of them and Gabby was super annoying throughout most of the story. Even though Billy does not treat her that great, she sees him as the best boyfriend ever and has really low self-esteem. It was frustrating to see Gabby go along with everything Billy said and not stand up for herself. Even when she finds out the truth, she still doesn't stand up for herself. Luckily one of her friends does it but it irked me that Gabby still refused to take control of her whole life.

I thought Where It Began was interesting in regards to the legal situation and how it can be manipulated with money. But the rest of the book was hindered by shallow characters and little action and plot movement. However, I understand that this is the author's first novel and I think if she fixes the problems in Where It Began, her next book will be much better.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
Release Date: March 6, 2012
FTC: sent by publisher

2012/Simon Pulse/384 pages.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Guest Blog: Mary Pauline Lowry

I am really excited to share with you a guest blog from author Mary Pauline Lowry. Her new book, The Earthquake Machine was released back in September.

"How I came up with the concept for THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE"

The summer I was 15 I climbed out my bedroom window in Austin, Texas and ran away from home. I left a note for my parents with a quote from John Irving’s novel THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE. The note said, “Life is serious, but art is fun!” I made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico.

I knew even back then that I wanted to both immerse myself in great adventures and in literature. But sometimes I felt that being a girl held me back from being as daring as I wanted to be. First off, I felt like being female made many things more dangerous and risky. And most of the stories of great adventurers I read were about men and boys (ex. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Count of Monte Cristo, etc).

I decided to commit myself both to writing books with interesting female protagonists and to living life fully. At 21, I became a forest firefighter on an almost all male, elite Hotshot crew. I then wrote a novel about it called THE GODS OF FIRE. (The novel has not yet been released, but has been optioned for film. I wrote the screenplay and the film is in pre-production).

I then moved to Durango, Colorado and began to work as an apprentice carpenter. I kept thinking about my adolescent fascination with running away and my wild trip across the Mexican border when I was only 15. And so finally I began to write THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE about an American girl who runs away to Mexico and “passes” as a Mexican boy while she searches for her one true friend, who has been deported to the state of Oaxaca.

Thank you Mary for visiting Simply Books! If you would like more information, just scroll down for a book synopsis and author bio.

Book synopsis:

The Earthquake Machine

The book every girl should read,
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.

Author bio:

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This One Time With Julia by David Lampson

Joe's twin brother, Alvin, disappeared. And with him went Joe's tenuous grip on real life. The rest of it: the road trip, the maybe-murder, the burned-down house--all of that came later.

At eighteen, Joe is stuck in limbo. Directionless and simple, he blows through his inheritance playing poker and eats only cheeseburgers, pizza, and guacamole. Then his twin brother, Alvin, disappears--and Julia, Alvin's tempestuous girlfriend, takes Joe on a whirlwind road trip from L.A. to Tennessee. There, he's thrust into the dysfunctional dynamic of her wealthy family. For the first time, Joe has a job. He has a suit he wears every day. And he's in love with a crazy, beautiful girl who only talks honestly in her sleep. Joe's so blinded by his seductive new life that he almost misses the truth about what happened to his twin...

Maybe Joe can't grow up--but he can love. (from GoodReads)

I did not like This One Time With Julia at all. My expectations were already pretty low but I still would not recommend this to anyone.

My biggest problem was that the book was weird. I hate using that word because normal is so relative and almost meaningless. But I am telling you, This One Time With Julia was very strange. Joe is like a little kid, even though he's eighteen. He has some developmental and learning disabilities that were never addressed when he was younger, so now he can barely function in society. He can't read, he can't think critically, and doesn't really have any life skills. It's super unfortunate and I did sympathize with Joe. He was a sweet guy and the only geniune character. I didn't mind reading from his point-of-view, but the reader never learns anything because he is unobservant.

The other characters were also very strange: from Joe's twin brother to his older brother to new gilfriend Julia. None of them were developed properly so they didn't feel real. I honestly didn't care about any of characters, except maybe Joe.

Because all the characters are so weird and caractiture-like, the plot is also weird. It sounds like it's supposed to be a mystery, but a ghost/hallucination tells Joe the truth about Alvin's disappearance. So there isn't really much for Joe to discover. There is also no conclusion to this story: the chapter ends and that's it. Nothing is wrapped up and it's almost as if the author forgot to add some pages. And when I shut the book, I had no idea what the point of the story was. There was no moral or purpose (that I could ascertain, at least) for writing this book. I'm just very perplexed.

Honestly, I did not care for This One Time With Julia at all. Please don't waste your time reading this novel.

Rating: 3 out of 10.
FTC: from Flamingnet Book Reviews

2012/Razorbill/232 pages.