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Tegan Mae's bookshelf: currently-reading

Witch Finder
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Gilt
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards



Title: Six Months Later
Author: Natalie D. Richards
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Tea: Lemon Herbal tea, read and you'll see why
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

"She has everything she's ever wanted. But not her memory...

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows..."
(Goodreads - Six Months Later)

I kept hearing so many rave reviews about Six Months Later and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. When it finally came in at the library I was super excited. I started this coming off of an awesome adult psychological thriller, so I was definitely in the mindset for another one. While this one was good, it didn't quite live up to the hype, in my opinion.

The beginning intrigued me right away, girl wakes up and doesn't remember six months of her life. What is going on? Why is she friends with these new people? How is she dating the hottest guy in school? So many questions that are begging to be answered. As the story goes on Natalie D. Richards has you quickly turning the pages trying to figure out what's going on, but soon a pattern emerges.

This pattern consists of: Chloe figuring something out, but quickly being convinced she's wrong by someone else. This girl does not stick by her convictions. I get that she doesn't remember anything, but that should instinctively make you trust your gut even more. It also consists of her and Adam constantly in a yo-yo of "I like you, but I can't". I swear the same scene happens 5 times between the two of them, even in the same location.

I also think that the answers that we are given don't quite pack the punch you expect after all the build up. The book I read before this one is still running through my head and I'm trying to wrap my mind around it, while I finished this one this afternoon and I haven't really thought about it too much.

It is a good novel, not bad by any means. The writing keeps your attention and the mystery has you going until the end. Sadly I didn't get quite what I expected. But if you're new to thrillers, this may be a good place to start.

Hump Day Spotlight: Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope everyone's week has been going well so far. This week's Spotlight novel is actually a trilogy. The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix consists of three novels: Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen. It's one of my absolute favorite series and he's finally writing a fourth book call Clariel! It's due out in October, so hopefully this gives you all time to read the first three in preparation! If you're looking for a great Sci-Fi/Fantasy, here it is!

"Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.
With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether."
(Goodreads - Sabriel)

"WHO IS LIRAEL?

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr’s birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.

In this sequel to SABRIEL, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger."
(Goodreads - Lirael)

"The Ninth was strong and fought with might, But lone Orannis was put out of the light, Broken in two and buried under hill, Forever to lie there, wishing us ill. So says the song. But Orannis, the Destroyer, is no longer buried under hill. It has been freed from its subterranean prison and now seeks to escape the silver hemispheres, the final barrier to the unleashing of its terrible powers.

Only Lirael, newly come into her inheritance as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, has any chance of stopping the Destroyer. She and her companions -- Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget -- have to take that chance. For the Destroyer is the enemy of all Life, and it must be stopped, though Lirael does not know how.

To make matters worse, Sam's best friend, Nick, is helping the Destroyer, as are the necromancer Hedge and the Greater Dead Chlorr, and there has been no word from the Abhorsen Sabriel or King Touchstone.

Everything depends upon Lirael. A heavy, perhaps even impossible burden for a young woman who just days ago was merely a Second Assistant Librarian. With only a vision from the Clayr to guide her, and the rather mixed help of her companions, Lirael must search in both Life and Death for some means to defeat the Destroyer.

Before it is too late. . . ."
(Goodreads - Abhorsen)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Biographies to Read

Happy Sunday everyone!! It's been a busy one, including dumping a bucket of ice water on my head for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. So while I'm drying off I'm going to curl up with a good book, including one off of this week's list! This week's Sunday Funday List is the Top 10 Biographies to Read. I haven't done a non-fiction list and I think this would be a great way to start. On this list are biographies I want to read and ones that are highly rated/reviewed/recommended. Also big shout out and thank you to Tamra for helping me to come up with this list! In no particular order, here they are! (All synopses from Goodreads)

1. Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever
"In MARIE ANTOINETTE, Evelyn Lever draws on a variety of resources, including diaries, letters, and firsthand accounts, to write this sumptuous, addictive delight. From family life in Vienna to the choke of the guillotine, this gripping work combines a fast-paced historical narrative with all the elements of scandalous fiction: Marie's wedding at Versailles to Louis XVI, the French court, boredom, hypocrisy, loneliness, allies, enemies, scandal, intrigue, sex, peasant riots, the fall of the Bastille, mob rule in Paris, imprisonment, and, finally, execution.

From primary source documents Lever fashions an insightful glimpse into the French court at Versailles. The characters of court are expertly drawn. There is the dashing Axel Fersen, Marie's great love; Maria Theresa, the scheming mother trying to place her daughter on the Hapsburg throne; the legendary Madame du Barry, lover to Louis XV; and, of course, Marie herself.

Luxuriously evocative of the Versailles court, historically sharp and witty, and detailing the compelling story of Marie Antoinette's life, Evelyn Lever's biography entrances readers."

 
I chose this novel as Marie Antoinette is my favorite Queen. I love reading anything fiction and non-fiction about her. For those of you who don't know much about Marie Antoinette, this looks like it would be a great place to start!

2. J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets by Curt Gentry
"Shocking, grim, frightening, Curt Gentry s masterful portrait of America s top policeman is a unique political biography. From more than 300 interviews and over 100,000 pages of previously classified documents, Gentry reveals exactly how a paranoid director created the fraudulent myth of an invincible, incorruptible FBI. For almost fifty years, Hoover held virtually unchecked public power, manipulating every president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Richard Nixon. He kept extensive blackmail files and used illegal wiretaps and hidden microphones to destroy anyone who opposed him. The book reveals how Hoover helped create McCarthyism, blackmailed the Kennedy brothers, and influenced the Supreme Court; how he retarded the civil rights movement and forged connections with mobsters; and what part he played in the investigations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. A New York Times bestseller. 'This massive new study promises to be the most extensive and controversial yet. . . . A chilling look at the darker side of American politics,' Library Journal."

Tamra suggested this one and it looks very interesting! I don't know a whole lot about J. Edgar Hoover and I think this biography would be a great way to learn more about him!

3. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
"How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom.

Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk; a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate; became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom, and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals.

These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age."


Having learned a lot about him in my seminar on cosmologies class and written a 20 page paper on him I still don't feel I can begin to scratch the surface. Walter Isaacson is known as one of THE biography writers and I can't wait to read what he's written about one of the greatest minds of our time.

4. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
"More than a million readers have thrilled to Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln, the page-turning work of nonfiction about the shocking assassination that changed the course of American history. Now the anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts in gripping detail the brutal murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—and how a sequence of gunshots on a Dallas afternoon not only killed a beloved president but also sent the nation into the cataclysmic division of the Vietnam War and its culture-changing aftermath.

In January 1961, as the Cold War escalates, John F. Kennedy struggles to contain the growth of Communism while he learns the hardships, solitude, and temptations of what it means to be president of the United States. Along the way he acquires a number of formidable enemies, among them Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Alan Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  In addition, powerful elements of organized crime have begun to talk about targeting the president and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

In the midst of a 1963 campaign trip to Texas, Kennedy is gunned down by an erratic young drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald. The former Marine Corps sharpshooter escapes the scene, only to be caught and shot dead while in police custody.

The events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century are almost as shocking as the assassination itself. Killing Kennedy chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot, bringing history to life in ways that will profoundly move the reader.  This may well be the most talked about book of the year."


Though this isn't about JKF's whole life, I'm very interested to read it. I've heard nothing but good things about this book (and Bill O'Reilly's other books), so this along with other JFK bios are on my list!

5. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
"The tempestuous, bloody, and splendid reign of Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) is one of the most fascinating in all history, not least for his marriage to six extraordinary women. In this accessible work of brilliant scholarship, Alison Weir draws on early biographies, letters, memoirs, account books, and diplomatic reports to bring these women to life. Catherine of Aragon emerges as a staunch though misguided woman of principle; Anne Boleyn, an ambitious adventuress with a penchant for vengeance; Jane Seymour, a strong-minded matriarch in the making; Anne of Cleves, a good-natured and innocent woman naively unaware of the court intrigues that determined her fate; Catherine Howard, an empty-headed wanton; and Catherine Parr, a warm-blooded bluestocking who survived King Henry to marry a fourth time."

I'm a huge Tudor fan and have been especially interested in them after going to London, where I bought this book.  I'm a fan of Alison Weir's fiction and know I'll love her non-fiction as well.

6. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
"With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before. But that past has caught up with her. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424—one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system. From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance. Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there."

I have to watch the show, since I've been told to a million times, so I figured I should also read the book! Thank you Tamra for showing me that a book even exists! If you like the show and you're not a reader, this might be a good way to start!

7. The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created Alice in Wonderland by Jenny Woolf
"Lewis Carroll was brilliant, secretive and self contradictory. He reveled in double meanings and puzzles, in his fiction and his life. Jenny Woolf’s The Mystery of Lewis Carroll shines a new light on the creator of Alice In Wonderland and brings to life this fascinating, but sometimes exasperating human being whom some have tried to hide. Using rarely-seen and recently discovered sources, such as Carroll’s accounts ledger and unpublished correspondence with the “real” Alice’s family, Woolf sets Lewis Carroll firmly in the context of the English Victorian age and answers many intriguing questions about the man who wrote the Alice books, such as:

• Was it Alice or her older sister that caused him to break with the Liddell family?

• How true is the gossip about pedophilia and certain adult women that followed him?

• How true is the “romantic secret” which many think ruined Carroll’s personal life?

• Who caused Carroll major financial trouble and why did Carroll successfully conceal that person’s identity and actions?

Woolf answers these and other questions to bring readers yet another look at one of the most elusive English writers the world has known."


I love Alice in Wonderland and I read a novel about Lewis Carroll and the girl that inspired Alice entitled Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin that I really enjoyed. Once I saw this biography I knew I had to read it. Authors have so many interesting back stories that inspire their works and I can't wait to read more about Lewis Carroll's.

8. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
"From best-selling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

In Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs' professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs' family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation."


Being a Mac and Apple girl (other than my Samsung Galaxy S5, sorry not sorry) I'm intrigued by the innovator behind the trademark apple with the bite out of it. Again Walter Isaacson writes about a powerhouse in another applauded biographical novel.

9. Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie
"Sleek. Chic. Notoriously guarded. Welcome to the secret world of Gabrielle Chanel.

The story of Chanel begins with an abandoned child, as lost as a girl in a dark fairy tale. Unveiling remarkable new details about Gabrielle Chanel's early years in a convent orphanage, and her flight into unconventional adulthood, Justine Picardie explores what lies beneath the glossy surface of a mythic fashion icon.

Throwing new light on her passionate and turbulent relationships, this beautifully constructed portrait gives a fresh and penetrating look at how Coco Chanel made herself into her own most powerful creation. An authoritative account, based on personal observations and interviews with Chanel's last surviving friends, employees, and relatives, it also unravels her coded language and symbols, and traces the influence of her formative years on her legendary style.

Feared and revered by the rest of the fashion industry, Coco Chanel died in 1971 at the age of eighty-seven. But her legacy lives on. Justine Picardie brings Gabrielle Chanel out of hiding and uncovers the consequences of what Chanel covered up, unpicking the seams between truth and myth in a story that reveals the true heart of fashion."


I don't know much about Coco Chanel, but see references to her on a daily basis and I think it would be interesting how she turned into the legacy that she is. Tamra found this novel and the synopsis hooked me! Can't wait to read it!

10. The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir
"The imprisonment and execution of Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife, in May 1536 was unprecedented in English history. It was sensational in its day, and has exerted endless fascination over the minds of historians, novelists, dramatists, poets, artists and film-makers ever since.

Anne was imprisoned in the Tower of London on 2 May 1536, and tried and found guilty of high treason on 15 May. Her supposed crimes included adultery with five men, one her own brother, and plotting the King's death.

Mystery surrounds the circumstances leading up to her arrest. Was it Henry VIII who, estranged from Anne, instructed Master Secretary Thomas Cromwell to fabricate evidence to get rid of her so that he could marry Jane Seymour? Or did Cromwell, for reasons of his own, construct a case against Anne and her faction, and then present compelling evidence before the King? Or was Anne, in fact, guilty as charged?

Never before has there been a book devoted entirely to Anne Boleyn's fall. Alison Weir has reassessed the evidence, demolished many romantic myths and popular misconceptions, and rewritten the story of Anne's fall, creating a richly researched and impressively detailed portrait of the dramatic last days of one of the most influential and important figures in English history."


Anne Boleyn is another one of my favorite Queen's. I'm intrigued by her story and her portrayal in modern culture. Thanks to Tamra for showing me this one as well. Looks like Alison Weir has done it again!

Bonus!: Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
"The eminent British historian John Guy has unearthed a wealth of evidence that upends the popular notion of Mary Queen of Scots as a femme fatale and establishes her as the intellectual and political equal of Elizabeth I.
Guy draws on sources as varied as the secret communiqu├ęs of English spies and Mary’s own letters (many hitherto unstudied) to depict her world and her actions with stunning immediacy. Here is a myth-shattering reappraisal of her multifaceted character and prodigious political skill. Guy dispels the persistent popular image of Mary as a romantic leading lady, achieving her ends through feminine wiles, driven by love to murder, undone by passion and poor judgment. Through his pioneering research, we come to see her as an emotionally intricate woman and an adroit diplomat, maneuvering ingeniously among a dizzying array of powerful factions — the French, the English, duplicitous Scottish nobles, and religious zealots — who sought to control or dethrone her. Guy’s investigation of Mary’s storied downfall throws sharp new light on questions that have baffled historians for centuries, and offers convincing new evidence that she was framed for the murder for which she was beheaded.
Queen of Scots, the first full-scale biography of Mary in more than thirty years, offers a singularly novel, nuanced, and dramatic portrait of one of history’s greatest women."


Mary Stuart is quickly becoming my second favorite Queen behind Marie Antoinette. I've seen a lot of her in modern pop culture, but haven't read much about her historically. Can't wait to check this one out!

Any of these historical figures someone you'd want to read about? Anyone you'd add to the list?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mortal Danger (The Immortal Game #1) by Ann Aguirre




Title: Mortal Danger
Author: Ann Aguirre
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Tea: Lipton Raspberry, tries to be different but just ends up the same as some other bland stuff (sorry Lipton)
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.


Yeahhh, no.

So this is my first book by Ann Aguirre and I was excited as I've heard nothing but rave reviews about her other novels. Boy am I sorry that this was my first one. The premise sounds really intriguing: girl on the brink of killing herself due to bullying makes a deal with a demon to get revenge. Sounds very Faustian and interesting. But that is NOT what you get. I had three main problems with this novel: Insta-Love, No Revenge and Weird Random Supernatural Crap.

Insta-Love: As has been said in reviews before this one, Kian (our main hottie) can give Edward Cullen a run for his creeper money. He knows EVERYTHING about Edie (our main character), even stuff from fourth grade. How on earth would he know all this? Especially since he didn't get to be what he is until much later in his life. And Edie instantly has the hots for him, even while she's practically dangling off of a bridge. So long story short: Edie gets three wishes to make her life better, she then has to do three things for this weirdo company Kian works for (more on that later). So BAM! She's beautiful, which is when Kian decides to say he likes her, even though he "did before". Riiight. Anyway, their relationship is weird and very not normal. It is the YA insta-love curse. You even find out he let her get hurt when he could've stopped it and may be responsible for the death of another girl. But y'know, that's cool, he's gorgeous. Blech.

No Revenge: Ugh. That was WHY I wanted to read this book. I love a good payback. The Teflon Crew (the popular kids) tortured Edie throughout school. And supposedly something they did so horrid that it sent her over the deep end. As much as I'd like to know what that was, I can't push myself through the rest of the crap to get there. So all of a sudden Edie is beautiful, and not just on the outside. She magically has a whole change of personality and is brave, flirty and gets everything she wants. Nay good reader, nay, that does not happen. So when she finally decides to "infiltrate" the Teflon Crew, she winds up befriending them?! Uh, no. Also her "revenge" is spreading silly gossip and calling a girl out on her eating disorder. This is not Emily Thorne ladies and gentleman, this is a girl turning into the people she hates, but then being a hypocrite and saying how horrible THEY are.

Weird Random Supernatural Crap: So Kian works for this company, that at first reminded me of Wolfram & Hart from Angel, so I was like "Yeah! Sweet!" But then you find out there's another company and they're fighting over Edie cos she's so super special. Seriously? Really? This is a tale as old as Twilight: plain, overlooked girl; finds a hottie; finds out is super special; everyone loves her. No. Then there's all kinds of other supernatural stuff thrown in there that just doesn't make sense. It's just in there to be there.

There's also a lot of cliches, like "You can't be smart if you're pretty" and crap like that. She tries to make the main character say that's not right, but Edie in fact does act like all of that is true. I just couldn't get past all of that. I get what the author was trying to do, bullying isn't okay, you should never make someone feel like that. But the execution was poor. It goes from being a story about a girl becoming strong and fighting for herself to some weird mystical factions that think she's so special.

Just didn't do it for me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hump Day Spotlight Novel: The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

"From the bestselling author of The Double Bind, Skeletons at the Feast, and Secrets of Eden, comes a riveting and dramatic ghost story.

In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts.
           
The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 die on impact or drown. The body count? Thirty-nine – a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village – self-proclaimed herbalists – and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous?  

The result is a poignant and powerful ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian: a palpable sense of place, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply.

The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead."
(Goodreads)

I chose The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian for this week's Hump Day Spotlight Novel because he has recently released his newest novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, and it is definitely getting all kinds of attention. I have yet to read that one, but I know his books are great and would recommend him to anyone.

This was my first Chris Bohjalian novel and I really enjoyed it. I've been told it's different than his other novels, so if you're a reader of his it may be different than what you've come to expect, but it's worth it. It was vaguely reminiscent, to me at least, of Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin. This book is so much more than a ghost story. But you still might to sleep with the lights on.

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

 Title: The Vanishing Season
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Type: Young Adult/New Adult
Genre: Gothic/Magical Realism
Tea: Silver Needle, seemingly simple, but much more elegant and rich than expected.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

"Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind."
(Goodreads)

First off let me say that this is not your typical ghost story, if you're looking for that, you won't find it here. I expected to be scared and not be able to sleep, I wasn't. Though I was haunted by this book for quite awhile after reading it. It's very elegant in its simplicity and so much happens, though you don't realize it while you're reading it. For a book where very little "happens" it really makes you think and deserves the praise that it has received. This isn't a book for everyone, it makes you think and it's not as lighthearted as it may seem. It is a book about people and relationships and growing up.

Maggie moves to Door County, WI from Chicago to an old house that has been in the family for years. There's something else in the house too, in the basement, but it's not scary. It's lost and confused. Maggie meets her neighbors, Pauline and Liam, a very strange couple and the adventure begins there for the three of them.

The missing girls are tied into the novel, but not as big of a part as I expected. I understand why it's in there, it shows the fear that the town faces and why people feel the way they do and act the way they do. Everything in this book, though it may not make sense at the time, ties together.

Jodi Lynn Anderson's description is perfect. You feel as if you're in the snowy woods with Maggie while she hikes around looking for birds. You feel her discomfort in the basement of the house. You feel her anguish and excitement as her life changes.

The end was truly heartbreaking. It made me very sad. I was shocked as well. I did not expect what happened. This is a book that is hard to explain without giving anything away, but I recommend it.

If you're looking for a fairly quick, yet deep and meaningful read, I suggest this one. It's not your stereotypical YA novel, I would also call it New Adult, as the characters are older and starting to learn what it's like to be an adult.

If you choose to read this, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Selection (The Selection #1) & The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass

"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 a palace and compete for the heart of 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."
(Goodreads)

"The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away."
(Goodreads)


*This is a review for both The Selection and The Elite*
Author: Kiera Cass
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
Tea: Early Grey, something you've had before, but has an air of sophistication
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

 This series starts off with The Selection, which is an Abraham Lincoln Award nominee, which is voted upon by students. The premise intrigued me, and it can be best described as a hybrid of The Hunger Games and The Bachelor. It may not seem like a fight for their life to many, but to America Singer, the Selection is the only way to save her family.

This is another dystopian series, but it is definitely different than many that are seen on the shelves today. We see what the United States, and the world itself, has turned into in "our future". There is a class system in place and each class has a specific duty to perform. By entering the Selection, and possibly marrying the prince of Illea, America can secure her and her family's future.

This novel is more than girls prancing around in dresses and trying to get a guy's attention. Kiera Cass writes about the rebellion against the crown from two factions, the North and the South. You learn of their differences and what they want from the capital of their country. You also see how the characters deal with it and how it is something the girls need to take into account if they want to be the princess, and one day the queen. In The Elite you get some more insight into the two different factions, but you don't get all your answers right away, leaving you clamoring for The One (which I still am, as I'm a little ways down the hold list!).

The only thing I dislike about this novel is the love triangle. I understand why it's in there, since it would be too easy for America to simply love Prince Maxon right away. But the other point of the triangle, Aspen, is a horrid character. He's terrible to America, but when they try to reconcile, he makes her feel like she's been the one in the wrong, and she totally goes along with it. She's constantly apologizing and he's just like "Yeah, it's cool" like he didn't do anything. Every time I see his name on a page, I groan. I can't wait to see if he's gone, I sure hope so! Also, his hair being described as "stringy" did absolutely nothing to lend him an appearance of beauty.

I'm definitely intrigued by these and I am looking forward to reading The One and seeing how Kiera Cass ties up this tale. She also has two short stories entitled The Prince and The Guard, which I am looking forward to reading.

If you're looking for a different, but more lighthearted dystopian, check these out!

September Girls by Bennett Madison

"When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here."
(Goodreads)


Title: September Girls
Author: Bennett Madison
Type:Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Tea: Sleepytime Tea, whimsical, a little ethereal, feels like a dream.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

I was very excited when I found September Girls by Bennett Madison. I am a huge magical realism fan and was particularly intrigued by his use of mermaids in this manner. It also takes place, predominantly, in North Carolina, and I am a huge fan of the Carolinas, so this intrigued me even more. Perfect beach read (though I didn't get to it while on the beach, sadly).

At the beginning of the novel we meet Sam, your typical high school guy, with your not so typical family. His mom up and left them to live on a commune, his dad is freaking out and randomly uprooting him and his college age brother for a vacation at a beach he went to when he was younger.

While I enjoyed the premise of this book and trying to figure out the mystery of the beach and the Girls at the beach, it moved a little too slowly for me. I felt there was a lot of unnecessary description of things. Maybe it was to get a better feel for Sam and his brother, but I didn't quite see how that connected with the story overall. The saving grace was the magical realism element.

I liked the story of the Girls and I liked the background clues you got about them between chapters. I understand how this is a book about growing up. And how you can't just expect to find something, it comes to you when you least expect it and when you're not actively looking.

So not a bad book, but not the page turner I was expecting either.

But if you are looking for a mermaid tale with some magical realism thrown in, I highly recommend Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Historical Fiction Novels

Hey everyone! It's Sunday again. This week's Sunday Funday List is the Top 10 Historical Fiction Novels! Whether it's realistic fiction, fantasy or mystery, it might make its way onto this list. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and can't get enough of it. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites (all synopses from Goodreads):

1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley
"It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. 'I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.'"


Flavia de Luce is one of my all time favorite characters. She's the coolest eleven-year-old you'll ever meet. Her mysteries are intriguing and she's incredibly smart. You get a great sense of 1950's England from her stories. Alan Bradley's description really brings this world to life. The following novels in the series continue this fantastic story of this amazing young girl.

2. The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose #1) by Jennifer Donnelly 
"East London, 1888 - a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger's son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

But Fiona's life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan's tea trade. But Fiona's old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future."


This story really took me by surprise! The premise intrigued me, but it was really so much more than I expected. It spans continents and years and lifetimes. It gives you a glimpse into life in London while Jack the Ripper prowled the streets. It lets you experience moving to America and trying to create a life for yourself. Such a great novel, and the second two, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose, don't disappoint.

3. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
"Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline.

In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they -- and Grace -- know the truth.

In 1999, when Grace is ninety-eight years old and living out her last days in a nursing home, she is visited by a young director who is making a film about the events of that summer. She takes Grace back to Riverton House and reawakens her memories. Told in flashback, this is the story of Grace's youth during the last days of Edwardian aristocratic privilege shattered by war, of the vibrant twenties and the changes she witnessed as an entire way of life vanished forever."

All of Kate Morton's novels are fantastic, I had a hard time picking just one to put on this list. I had to though, otherwise four spots would be filled. Any fans of Downton Abbey will devour The House at Riverton. Kate Morton's descriptions are vivid and you feel as if you're there with the characters. The mystery is also very intriguing and just when you think you have it figured out, she throws you a curve ball. If you haven't read her, I highly recommend it. And read all of them!

4. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
"'Whatever time we have,' he said, 'it will be time enough.'

Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the Cornish coast, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers. There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.

But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs."

If you're looking for historical fiction, with some time travel, a little romance, some pirates and mystery thrown in, then look no further! This was my first Susanna Kearsley novel and it did not disappoint! Her melding of the two time periods is seamless and her description is beautiful. Can't wait to read more of her novels!

5. Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger
"Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?"

If you enjoy steampunk, or are going "WTF is steampunk?", then this is the book for you! It's great for fans and a great introduction to those who don't know what steampunk is. It's also a fun paranormal story. Alexia is not your average heroine. Gail Carriger writes with wit and creativity that are hard to find in other series. I highly recommend this series, as well as her YA Finishing School series, which is a prequel of sorts to these novels. She also has a series coming out in 2015 (YAY!) that takes place after this one. Read them, just do it.

6. Wideacre (Wideacre #1) by Philippa Gregory

"Beatrice Lacey, as strong-minded as she is beautiful, refuses to conform to the social customs of her time. Destined to lose her family name and beloved Wideacre estate once she is wed, Beatrice will use any means necessary to protect her ancestral heritage. Seduction, betrayal, even murder -- Beatrice's passion is without apology or conscience. "She is a Lacey of Wideacre," her father warns, "and whatever she does, however she behaves, will always be fitting." Yet even as Beatrice's scheming seems about to yield her dream, she is haunted by the one living person who knows the extent of her plans...and her capacity for evil.

Sumptuously set in Georgian England, Wideacre is intensely gripping, rich in texture, and full of color and authenticity. It is a saga as irresistible in its singular magic as its heroine."


From the queen of historical fiction, Philippa Gregory, best known for her Tudors series (i.e. The Other Boleyn Girl), comes an intriguing and captivating trilogy. This was my first novel by her and I instantly fell in love with it. It's more than just a favorite historical fiction novel, it's one of my favorites period. Her description and attention to detail are unparalleled. And her storytelling is fantastic. Not necessarily for the faint of heart as it is a rather twisted tale, but one that you can't stop thinking about once it's done! I HAD to start the second one as soon as I finished.

7. Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
"When Lily meets Albert, a refugee from Hungary, during the summer of 1944, they begin a special friendship. However, Lily and Albert have both told lies, and Lily has told a lie that may cost Albert his life."

I love this book. I read it obsessively when I was younger and still think about it all the time. It's one of my favorite books ever. It's a great story and a very touching one. It's also a good way to introduce younger readers to that time and what it was like for kids during WWII.

8. Witch Child (Witch Child #1) by Celia Rees

"Enter the world of young Mary Newbury, a world where simply being different can cost a person her life. Hidden until now in the pages of her diary, Mary's startling story begins in 1659, the year her beloved grandmother is hanged in the public square as a witch. Mary narrowly escapes a similar fate, only to face intolerance and new danger among the Puritans in the New World. How long can she hide her true identity? Will she ever find a place where her healing powers will not be feared?"

Another book I obsessively read. My copy is very well loved. Such an intriguing story and another great way to introduce younger readers to a time period. Celia Rees gives enough description to allow the reader to feel like they are there, but not to bore or overwhelm someone that isn't a big reader or isn't ready for that level yet. What a great story. Sadly the sequel, Sorceress, didn't quite hit the mark, at least for me.

9. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
"Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashums. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir's choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies."


Oh man, what a book. I cried, oh did I cry. This story is beautiful and heart-wrenching. Khaled Hosseini writes in a way that you feel you're watching everything unfold over the main character's shoulder. You can't help but get wrapped up on this novel. I was reading it on the train and found myself yelling at it out loud, much to the confusion of several passengers. This is definitely a book to read.

10. Becoming Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette #1) by Juliet Grey
"This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette. 

'Why must it be me?' I wondered. 'When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?'

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother's political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon. 


Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change "everything" about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen. 


Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike."


Marie Antoinette is my favorite Queen and I will read anything about her that I can get my hands on, fiction or non-fiction, anything. I was so excited when I found this series and Juliet Grey does a wonderful job! You learn so much while reading this novel, but you're so engrossed in the story it just flies by. Like the description said, great for non-fiction and fiction lovers. Her description of Versailles makes you want to hop on a plane and go visit. If you like Marie Antoinette, or want to learn more about her, check this series (2. Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow; 3. Confessions of Marie Antoinette) out!!

So there's this week's list! Anything you would put on your list that you didn't see here? See anything that piqued your interest?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Worst Book to Movie/TV Show Adaptations

Sunday we meet again!

Hi everyone. This week's Sunday Funday List is the Top 10 Worst Book to Movie/TV Show Adaptations. We all know how we feel when we see one of our favorite books being turned into a blockbuster. First we're excited "Yay! It's coming to life!" Then we worry "What if they screw it up?" Then we're angry "How dare they?! They left everything out!" Below I have compiled some of (but not all, as that list would be a million years long) the worst adaptations, at least in my opinion. In no particular order, here they are:

1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
First, yes I know these books weren't the best books, but listen. I enjoyed them for what they were, and honestly I think the hype and the horrible movies ruined them even more. Yes, in the book Bella is obsessive and whiny, but at least she emotes! Sorry KStew, but you're a brick wall. Her "happy", "sad", "scared", etc. all looked the exact same. How am I supposed to know if she's scared or happy that Edward is creeping on her while she's sleeping? (For the record, she was happy, not that you can tell). But it wasn't only her, everyone was horrid. It was so cheesy. These actors are in other movies and they're great, but this just was sad. The special effects leave a lot to be desired as well. If you've seen the movies and feel the same way, or haven't seen the movies but don't want to actually watch, or just need a good laugh, go watch this: Honest Trailer: Twilight.There is so much more I could say about this, but I'd be here forever. And all the other films are pretty bad too. Eclipse and Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 made some headway, just a little, but it all went back downhill in Breaking Dawn Pt. 2.

2. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
They changed the ending. THEY CHANGED THE ENDING! Jodi Picoult, how could you let them do this?! That ending is the WHOLE POINT of the book. Like...just...ugh. Even the movies made for Lifetime based off of your novels are better than this! Sure, the ending of the movie was sad, but not what was written in the book. The movie didn't even come close to the emotional punch and complexity of the novel. I was working at Six Flags at the time I was reading it and had it with me at the food stand I worked. It was August so a lot of kids were going back to school, so I had ample time to read. When I got to the end I was crying like a baby, much to the concern of the customers. And Cameron Diaz did not fit the mom character, no offense, but she is not at all what I pictured. I was quite disappointed by the movie. I recommend reading the book, don't bother with the film.

3. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
To any girl, especially girls around my age, this book was the s*hit. We discussed it like we were in book club and had a test on it at school. My copy is so worn due to obsessive re-readings. Everyone wanted a Prince Char to come rescue them from some weird curse, heck, we wanted a weird curse! Ella's adventure is so cool. She meets giants and fairies and a talking book. I want to go re-read this right now. But the movie? Oh the movie, it hurt. They turned it into a comedy. Yes the book had funny moments, but it was serious too. And the cheese factor in the movie was horrible. The step-sisters were practically comic book characters and VERY unrealistic. And the random break out into song and dance scene? That was just so Anne Hathaway could show off. This is one of those movies that when you're sick at home and nothing else is on TV you leave it on since it won't make you think (I did that). If you haven't read the book, do it, this movie will do nothing for you.

4. Bag of Bones by Stephen King
This novel terrified me. I couldn't sleep after I read it. I had to wait until I had company staying the night in order to finish it. And it was so good! The characters, the plot, the ending, everything. But the TV miniseries on A&E? Horrid. They tried to keep to the main plot, but then changed one of the most important parts of the big twist/ending. You had a perfectly good story, why keep some of it and then completely change the rest? And no offense to Pierce Brosnan and Annabeth Gish, but they did not fit the main characters, at least to me. They felt (again, apologies) too old for the characters described in the book. And here it goes again, they had the bad guys almost comically cheesy. I had a hard time taking them seriously. In the novel they're scary and you wouldn't want to run into them anywhere, but in the miniseries  I just shrugged when they showed up. Also their portrayal of the haunted house left something to be desired. There was so much potential for a great movie/tv show/miniseries in this novel, but unfortunately they floundered it.

5. Under the Dome by Stephen King
Again, another Stephen King. What's going on dude? Keep Hollywood in line. This novel was great. Even though it's 1,074 pages long I tore through it in just a few days. This novel has such an interesting dilemma and makes you think about what you would do if you were in that situation. It's scary! There is, again, so much you can do with this novel. So CBS turned this into a TV show. I watched the first, two, maybe three episodes. Awful, just awful. I think you either need to stick to the story or TOTALLY make it your own. This show is somewhere in the middle, and it's not pretty. For anyone that read the novel you'll be sorely disappointed if you watch this. The characters are different, but they still try to throw the same storyline in there. It's just not going to work. They also made it so people in the dome can't talk through the dome with those outside of it, which is a big point in the book. And again, there's a big cheese factor. For me the final straw was watching a cow get sliced in half when the dome came down. The way they changed the characters, there's no way that they could possibly stick with the story line, unless it's incredibly convoluted. And even if I hadn't read the novel, I don't think I would want to watch it, it bored me. *sigh*

6. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
I really liked this novel, like the rest of the general populace. It was intriguing and the mystery kept my attention. There were great twists and turns and made for great story telling. Fitting all of that into a movie is difficult. It almost felt as if everything fell into the characters' laps the whole time. It all seemed too easy, which is you read the novel, you know it's not. They do way too much to fit into a 2 hour movie. Also I did not see Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. I love Tom Hanks, he's a great actor, but he did not fit this part. That ruined part of it for me. And, little peeve since it plays a fairly big part in the ending, Sophie didn't have red hair. When it's a big plot point in a book, don't change it. Ian McKellan was fantastic though, he may be the saving grace of this film. He makes, at least his parts, worth watching.

7. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
This is hands down my favorite book by Dan Brown. And again, Hollywood screwed it up. You can't fit everything that happens into the timeline of a movie. Which I get, I know they can't do that, but when it comes to these books, you NEED everything. Without everything the story doesn't make sense. It's not like they were trivial little scenes that had nothing to do with the plot. Everything had to do with the plot. And I still can't take Tom Hanks as Robert. It just doesn't work, even in this second film (even though this book was first). I've only seen this once, as I was so disappointed, so I can't say too much about the little details, but this is not what I was expecting. I think most other fans agree, as they haven't made The Lost Symbol into a movie yet (which is good, 'cos I really liked that one too).

8. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
I read this book in 8th grade and fell in love with it. I couldn't put it down. So when I heard they were going to make a movie about it I was excited, but nervous since there was a lot they could screw up. I checked it out from the library and unfortunately, they did. The visuals are stunning. And I really enjoyed how they did the training scenes, it looked like I envisioned it. But I was just bored. It couldn't keep my attention. I found myself going on my phone, reading articles, picking up books. I had to constantly rewind. After what I thought was maybe an hour and a half, I was only half an hour or so in, so I gave up. It did not catch my attention at all like the book did. Maybe if I could just look at the pretty visual sequences, I'd be fine.

9. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
What a great book. What a great series. I couldn't wait to see the movie. The actors were great for the parts, the visuals were beautiful, the effects were good. But the storytelling. Oh the storytelling. It starts out okay, but starts to disintegrate as it goes, especially the ending. They change it, a lot. It defeats the whole purpose of the ending in the book. Why movies do this I'll never understand. Why stay true to a book, at least mostly, throughout and then change the ending? Especially when the ending is integral to the book and the rest of the series. This film isn't the worst adaptation from a book, but the ending is what put it on this list. I may just stop the movie before I get there next time and pretend it didn't happen.

10. The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
I was excited to see ABC Family adapting Sara Shepard's other series since I enjoy Pretty Little Liars (go ahead, judge me). I was really enjoying it at first, but then it started to drag. The same things kept happening and nothing was really moving forward. The books haven't been as big as PLL, but they're quite popular and very well rated. The story line moves forward quickly and keeps you intrigued. The show started lacking that quality. The reason I kept watching was that Charisma Carpenter joined the cast and I have to watch anything that Buffy alum are in, plus she's a great actress. The show managed to get a second season, but unfortunately kept going downhill. If you're interested in this, I recommend just reading the books.

Honorable Mention:
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - The movie just didn't cut it.

So there's my list for this week. Do you agree with these? Is there something you thought you'd see on there that you didn't? How do you feel about all these books being turned into movies and TV shows?

August's Book Recipe: Hummingbird Pancakes

Hi everyone! Here is the first edition of my recipes related to books post.

This week my choice is Hummingbird Pancakes. Hummingbird Cake (which these pancakes are a variation on) is similar to carrot cake, but uses banana and pineapple. To me Hummingbird Cake screams summer. It is also an important cake in one of my favorite books, The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen.

Food plays an important role in her novels, and you can often find recipes at the end. If you haven't read any of her books, I highly suggest them.

I got my Hummingbird Pancake recipe from Southern Living. It turns out that when their original Hummingbird Cake recipe was printed in 1978 it wound up being the most requested recipe in their history! That's some pretty good cake.







Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas 
  • 1/2 cup drained, canned crushed pineapple in juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten 
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil 
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • Cream Cheese Anglaise
  • Garnishes: sliced bananas, chopped fresh pineapple 

Preparation

  1. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together buttermilk and next 5 ingredients in another bowl. Gradually stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in toasted pecans. Pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto a hot buttered griddle or large nonstick skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look dry and cooked. Turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until done. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and keep warm in a 200° oven up to 30 minutes. Serve with Cream Cheese Anglaise.
  2. Note: When using a griddle, heat it to 350°.
  3. Tip: For tender pancakes, don't overmix the batter; it should be lumpy.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Most Dramatic Characters

Hey everyone!

Sorry this is being posted on Monday, had a busy Sunday! But here is the latest Sunday Funday List. This week it is the Top 10 Most Dramatic Characters, compiled with help from Sarah! All sorts of drama are on this list: relationship drama, kingdom drama, full of themselves drama, etc. In no particular order (except for maybe the first two), here they are!

1. Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl

Blair is an Upper Eastside princess. She lives in a glamorous home, with her designer mother and doting servants. Her goal is to snag a royal and live happily ever after. (The Blair in the TV show is pretty much the same, just add Chuck Bass). She is a scheming, lying, manipulative character, but there's something about her that you can't help but love. Maybe it's her vulnerability that she masks with the deceit, you feel bad for her. But the reason she's a contender for the top two most dramatic is the second anything goes wrong in her world, she loses it. She has to concoct a grand scheme to figure out and fix things, all while freaking out. Even the smallest of "infractions" can lead to a total meltdown. She's one of those characters where you can't wait to see what happens next. You love her, and sometimes hate her. But no one does the Upper Eastside like Blair Cornelia Waldorf.

2. Joffrey Baratheon from A Song of Ice and Fire
Joffrey Baratheon is the craziest teenage boy you'll ever meet. You thought the guys in high school were nuts. This kid has the power to do whatever he wants, and he wields it in a terrifying manner. How better to woo your betrothed than to show her her father's head on a pike? He's a little kid playing at a king. He doesn't know how to rule a kingdom and uses bluster and dramatics to get his way. He throws temper tantrums and pouts, which gets his mother to assist him in whatever he wants. Just like with Blair, it's his out of control schemes and reactions that gets him into the top two of this list. And I can only commend Jack Gleeson on his portrayal of this nut job on the TV show.

3. Bella Swan from Twilight
Bella falls under the relationship drama category. Holy. Crap. When I first read this I was in high school and I enjoyed it for what it was, didn't read too much into her obsession. But when I re-read it in college. Um. Whoa. Calm down there psycho, but for the record, Edward is just as dramatic. Watching a girl sleep by sneaking into her room at night? But I digress. Bella falls for the "bad boy", hard. She's super obsessed, especially when he leaves in the second book, to the point where she endangers her life to "see" him. Delusions are normal in high school relationships, right? Anyways, Bella is a great example to young girls of how to NOT behave in a relationship. Not everyone is as equally dramatic. Edward takes this all in surprisingly great stride, I guess after 100+ years you can accept some (or a lot of) crazy.

4. Quentin Coldwater from The Magicians
Quentin, at least in the first and some of the second novel, would fall into the full of themselves and kingdom drama. The last book falls into the kingdom drama and some relationship drama. Overall, Quentin is a dramatic person, but it's not really obnoxious, he's relatable. He's dramatic in a way that a lot of us are, but probably don't see. That's one reason I love this series, it's very real, even for fantasy novels. Before I go into the amazing-ness of this series (expect a review soon for The Magician's Land!), I'll move back to Quentin. Magic is his whole life and he wants nothing more than for Fillory, a fictional land, much like Narnia, to be real. Once Quentin learns of the world of magic, his life changes forever. Over the three novels we see Quentin grow, the series is a real coming of age story, and as he grows we see his priorities change. We see the focus of drama shift, much like it does in our own lives. You can't be mad at Quentin, even though you want to, while you read these books, since you know it is likely something you've done before yourself.

5. Lord Akeldama from The Parasol Protectorate
Lord Akeldama is a fabulous, rich vampire. He lives in a mansion and has a series of Drones at his service. He is always dressed to the nines and at any society function. He lives for the drama in this Steampunk society set in Victorian England. He always knows what is going on with anyone that is anyone in this society. He always shows up when you least expect him and is somehow always involved, even though you don't find out until the end. He's that friend that somehow knows everything that is happening, but manages to keep his nose clean. He is a hilarious character and his outfits are always spot on. And despite his kindness and quirky-ness, he is still a vampire and will not hesitate to do what he has to, with dramatic flair of course.

6. Rita Skeeter from Harry Potter
Rita Skeeter is an over the top, dramatic, gossip queen. You hate her, but at the same time can't get enough. She takes everyone's life stories and completely spins them in her own direction. All of her stories are larger than life and are not very accurate. She writes whatever she thinks will sell and make her a bigger name in journalism. She goes as far as to Transfigure herself into a lady bug to get information. If real life was actually like her stories, it would be enough to send anyone into a nervous breakdown. Thankfully she doesn't write our papers here...or does she? That would explain a lot...

7. Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby
Jay Gatsby has A LOT of drama, like...a lot. But the biggest, in my opinion, would be relationship drama. He's in love with a girl and throws extravagant parties on a regular basis, just hoping she'll show up, instead of just you know, contacting her. He gets involved with all the wrong people and gets in the middle of a messy relationship. He goes to these dramatic extremes to be the man he thinks Daisy wants him to be. He's not afraid of doing whatever, he thinks, it takes to get the girl. But without his extreme dramatic tendencies, this novel would not be the amazing story that it is. I think Jay represents a part of us that we have inside, but can't afford (literally and metaphorically) to let out.

8. Ali, Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily from Pretty Little Liars
So I know this is 5 people, but I honestly can't pick one that is the most dramatic. Ali would probably win, but the other four sure have enough of their own. Their drama encompasses EVERYTHING. Relationships, school, full of themselves, all of it. One girl assists her sister's boyfriend in cheating on her. Another shop lifts jewelry from Tiffany's. The next one has an affair with her English teacher, while in high school. And this is just the beginning. Those even start to look trivial after awhile. These books and these five girls are so full of intrigue that you just want to know what will happen next. I can only imagine what the author will have to do to continue writing the series, which is in the double digits now. But I'm not gonna lie, I can't wait to find out.

9. Junior Rennie from Under the Dome
This kid is, almost, in a league of his own. He's up there with Joffrey Baratheon. He's just not right, which you learn RIGHT away.  This is a scary guy, and being locked into an impenetrable dome with him sounds horrid. He slowly devolves into even deeper madness and it's terrifying. He thinks his thoughts, his beliefs, his feelings are the only right ones. He will do whatever it takes to get his way. He also has a scary following, he can manipulate almost anyone into doing what he wants. His reactions to what occurs in the dome is dramatic and something that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

10. Jean Claude from Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
Here we are, another vampire character, but he is 100% drama. He dresses in romance novel garb: white billowy shirts with tight black pants and has long, flowing hair. And he is obsessed with Anita. He will do whatever it takes to have her. Any opportunity he has to to tempt her, he'll try. He offers to assist her as to bring him closer to her. This is a far cry from the obsession that Bella has over Edward. This is more than just, oh I want the boy to like me. Sometimes it's a lot for the reader to handle, and a lot for Anita to handle (at least as far as I am in the series currently). He always shows up when you least expect him, and surprises you with his choice of actions. Living a life with Jean Claude would be endlessly surprising, but not necessarily always in a good way.

So there's my list! I know there are some more great dramatic characters out there, anyone you wish you had seen?