Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rules are Rules

I have a rule. I read the book before I see the movie. Because the book is always better than the movie. 

My sister also has a rule. She sees the movie before she reads the book. Because the book is always better than the movie.
(my sis is an awesome movie/television blogger, you should check her blog out)

Now I realize that our motivations are the same - but I'm obviously right. I mean, Hollywood always messes up the story by making it into the movie (which I always gladly pay too much money to go see in the theater) and so it is better to know the whole thing before we go and see it. Right? 

This morning I was pleased because BuzzFeed agreed with me, posting a list of fourteen books to read BEFORE you go and see the theatrical versions.

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth --- read and enjoyed. I'm not going to say loved because the whole story kinda fell apart for me in the end. I haven't read the second in the series yet, but hopefully that pulls it all back together again.

2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card --- well, I haven't read this one (I'm ducking subconsciously as I write this because I'm imagining the shock/horror on my friend's face because she has recommended it no less than 5 times). Okay, okay, I'll read it before it is a movie - cross my heart!

3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare --- obviously I love this series and the way that Cassandra Clare writes. I'm a little disappointed with how the film was cast - but I look forward to seeing it (maybe they will surprise me).

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green --- I haven't read it. I don't plan to. I don't really plan to see the movie either. When the first line of the description tells you it is about a "terminally ill girl" I kind of lose interest.

5. The Maze Runner by John Dashner --- I haven't read this one, yet. But I did buy it at the last Friends of the Library Book Sale, so I'm getting closer.

6. The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort --- I hadn't even heard of this book until just now. However, since it stars Leo DiCaprio I think I'll be reading this one really quick before, what BuzzFeed says is a "Leo film that is bound to be a masterpiece."

(from BuzzFeed)

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn --- here is another on my "to read" list (the amount of adult books on this list is officially at two #6 and this one). However, Reece Witherspoon is rumored to play the part. Please tell me this is a grown up person in this movie? I loved Water For Elephants - but she was WAY too old to play the part (and then they cast the sparkly vampire opposite her - heavy sigh). 

8. The Moments of Men by Robert M. Edsel --- remember I said there are only two adult books on my list. This one isn't one of those.

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak --- are there people who haven't read this book? It was good, not one of my favorites, but good none-the-less. It should be a great movie!!

10. Serena by Ron Rash --- okay, sometimes I break my own rules. This doesn't sound like an interesting book to me (like Western sounding, am I right?), but it looks like a great movie. Good for whomever cast this by putting Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper back on the screen together so quickly, sure to bring out the audiences :)

Cress, a Sneak Peak!

 Just as Marissa Meyer and her peps promised a few days ago - we have been granted a sneak peak at the newest addition to The Lunar Chronicles ...

It was the perfect way to start my sick day (hey, if I have to be dying in bed, I may as well get to read something!) and I hope you enjoy it as well.

My feelings? Obviously you can't write a review from the first chapter (otherwise I'd say the detail was shallow - if fleshed out completely I'd say it was too wordy, you understand, I'm just never happy). The first lines are captivating. The ten-year-old-self is creepy (in a good way, I think). Oh, and her name, I love her name ... but no more spoilers, go read it!

That last sentence? What is it? What does it mean? Why isn't this going to be released until Feb 4, 2014. I'd like it now. Please?!? Comment below!! 

(this pic is from GoodReads and is not the cover)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: City of Lost Souls

City of Lost Souls 
Cassandra Clare

June 23rd

I've started this book twice ... and Jace wasn't there ... so I put it away.
However, I really should have given it a few chapters, because thank-goodness he came back (before Chapter 3, this isn't really a spoiler, after all he is on the cover), but he is only sorta back. 

So, I'm 26% of the way through this book (I love that GoodReads figures that out for you) and it is back to the story lines that I love. Clary and Jace, Magnus, Alec, Isabelle, Simon, the werwolves (who aren't important enough to me to keep straight), parents, etc. all coming together into a mass of complications and frustrations.

Clary may be in love, but I could just shake that girl for all the brains she is currently demonstrating. Her mother is too overprotective for the fact that Clary (although dim) can obviously take care of herself, and I would have appreciated some reminder of who this overly large cast of characters are. But, I have a feeling that soon I'll be too wrapped up in the story to care.

July 30

So, over a month has passed and I haven't finished this book. Not because I've been busy. Not because I've been reading anything else. But because I can only read about four pages without getting frustrated by the poor quality of this book (especially when compared to Cassandra Clare's other works).

Read my Serious Question for Cassandra Clare Readers and jump in the conversation.

August 4

I finally finished it! It was a long and tough road, but it is done. Okay, all the frustration I've felt was all fine, all good, no problem whatsoever - because the epilogue made it all okay. It brought us back to the story and the characters we know and love. So keep reading friends it gets so much better!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor

June 22nd

I can't believe I'm even breaking from reading to write this review (except it is easier to type and eat dinner than read and eat dinner). This book -- wowza. I was enchanted from the first page. It has won tons of awards so far, so I shouldn't have been surprised (but then again, everyone loves The Great Gatsby and I had to suffer through the terrible thing, so I usually don't take people's opinions as fact).

Karou (which I'm pronouncing Ka-roo, but have no idea if it's right) is living in Prague, has just broken up with a self-centered narcissist, and has a pretty loyal friend (Zuzana). She is going to art school, has 94 sketch books that she has filled throughout her life, and everything about her past seems pretty shaded ... for about the first 70 pages.

Then as we start to find out what has actually been going on in Karou's life, the reader (i.e. you and I) are sent through a whirlwind of adventure. I have had to re-read sections to figure out if I'm missing things. Just hold on, things are bound to get better and clearer!

Lastly, there is this Angel guy. Is he good? Is he evil? Tell me he is Karou's love interest for the book because he sounds delicious.

June 23rd

Last night, around 10:00pm I posted the following on Facebook.
Well, finishing the book won out ... I just couldn't put it away knowing I was so close to finding out what was going on. 

This book has so many layers, just when you think you know what is going to happen, Ms. Taylor pulls the rug from under your feet and you realize you didn't know what was going on after all. I love that. Although the love interest was maybe a little predictable, it was held out for so long I found myself holding my breath. 

Page 305 ... the last page of chapter 42. I found myself holding my breath, unsure of what I hoped the next page would say, fearing turning the page of a book. At this point I was not sure what I even wanted to happen. I waited a full five minutes thinking about it, re-reading the previous pages, wondering what could make it okay. Leading up to this point had been amazing ...

This book is a roller coaster of emotions and you are never sure what you are hoping for. The ending, well I wouldn't have ended it any other way, I love when it isn't tied up in a neat bow. This just means that the beginning of Days of Blood and Starlight is going to be amazing. 

Pick up this book and you won't regret it.

Hard to start a new book

It is hard to start a new book when you are still thinking about the last one. 

From Zero to Well-Read ... a BookRiot piece

First, I love book lists, I like to go through and check off all of the ones I've already read. Second, I forgot all about the "note" function in Facebook and thought it was maybe time to try it out once again. Finally, it is good to review what some people (in this case Jeff at BookRiot) think are 100 great books. Seriously, look at #100 ... he hasn't great taste, but I'll try and conquer some of my holdouts this summer (except that one, I have no desire to read that). 

Books I've already read are bold. Books I'd like to read are italicized

So here’s the list, in alphabetical order:
  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  4. All Quiet on the Western Front by Eric Maria Remarque
  5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay  by Michael Chabon
  6. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  9. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  11. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  12. Beowulf
  13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  14. Brave New World by Alduos Huxley
  15. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  16. The Call of the Wild  by Jack London
  17. Candide by Voltaire
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  20. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  21. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  22. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  23. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  24. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  25. The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
  26. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor 
  27. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  28. Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  29. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (blah, don't ask why)
  30. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  31. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  32. Dream of Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
  33. Dune by Frank Herbert
  34. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  35. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  36. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  37. Faust by Goethe
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (according to Kindle, I'm at 72%, I should really finish it)
  40. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  41. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
  42. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  43. The Gospels
  44. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  45. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  46. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  47. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  48. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  49. Harry Potter & The Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  50. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  51. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  52. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  53. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  54. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  55. Howl by Allen Ginsberg
  56. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  57. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino
  58. The Iliad by Homer
  59. The Inferno by Dante
  60. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  61. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  62. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  63. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  64. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  65. The Little Prince by Antoine  de Saint-Exepury
  66. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  67. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  68. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  69. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  70. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  71. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  72. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  73. The Odyssey by Homer
  74. Oedipus, King by Sophocles
  75. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  76. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  77. The Pentateuch
  78. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  79. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  80. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  81. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
  82. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  83. Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  84. The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
  85. The Stand by Stephen King
  86. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  87. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  88. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  89. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  90. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  91. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  92. Ulysses by James Joyce
  93. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  94. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  95. Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
  96. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  97. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  98. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  99. 1984 by George Orwell
  100. 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James
That brings us to 46 read ... and 14 I am interested in. What about you? Let's discuss, what books are missing from this list of being well-read? What books shouldn't be on here (a la 50 Shades of Grey)? What are you reading this summer?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy
by Polly Shulman

June 21st

I was shelving (which I avoid at all costs, partly because it isn't necessarily my responsibility, mostly because I hate it - also partly because I check out dozens of books I never read) and I ran across this gem in our new book section. It isn't a new book and I was brining it back to where it belonged when the titled sang out to me. As a lover of fairy tales I had to read the description (which sounded like an awesome version of Warehouse 13) and found out the main character was named Elizabeth. 
I have this thing for main characters with my same name, I'm just fascinated by their stories.

You'd feel bad for the unfortunate, Cinderella style life Elizabeth is living in the first few pages of the book - except she has a heart of gold. Now the book isn't so bold to tell you that, but the opening scene shows Elizabeth giving her gym shoes to a homeless woman in sandals, in the middle of winter. Then, we don't really talk about the whole thing again until later. It was a sweet gesture, which really begins to show us who Elizabeth is.

Elizabeth gets a job at a brilliant, I-want-to-work-there, materials lending library. If you need a fondue pot, they are your library; if you need a medieval costume, they are your library; if you need something magical ... well, I'm assuming we are getting there, but I'm not there yet. There is something evil lurking in the library and I, as a reader, am not sure who I should be trusting. But I'm sure Elizabeth will figure it out, because we Elizabeths are pretty awesome!

June 22nd

Well, stomach aches are good for one thing - you get to stay up late reading a book without having to make up an excuse. I was able to FINISH The Grimm Legacy in one day. I love when that happens.

Even if Elizabeth had another name, she would still be awesome. She is real, she makes mistakes, she feels guilt, things don't always work out, and she is a little insecure. However, she is awesome - she saves the day, she has good ideas, she wants to trust people, and she is willing to have everyone be involved in the solution. 

The story itself is pretty intriguing. I expected things to work out one way ... and they didn't. It wasn't a twist, but rather the book avoided cliched story lines. The ending was excellent, it was tied up in a pretty bow, but still excellent. I really enjoyed this thrilling tale of the "real" Grimm story artifacts and how they are stowed away just waiting for certain people to check them out ... only what will they leave behind.

The next book in the series is The Wells Bequest ... Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!

In this grand time-travel adventure full of paradoxes and humor, Polly Shulman gives readers a taste of how fascinating science can be, deftly blending classic science fiction elements with the contemporary fantasy world readers fell in love with in The Grimm LegacyDescription from GoodReads.  

Quick note about level: Although School Library Journal levels this book at 6th-9th grade, I would say that elementary students would also love it. "Rating" wise there is nothing here to keep them away from and, as long as the reading level was appropriate, I'm sure many would enjoy it. 

New Books that look BRILLIANT

Here are some new YA titles that I'm looking forward to sinking my teeth into ;)
Book titles link back to original book descriptions.

Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.
Then again, neither is Knox’s. Son to a master manipulator, Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics—at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade.The very best will graduate as “poets”: adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive. Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love. Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. It turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. In order to survive, he must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Sixteen-year-old Winston Winters is awaiting the inevitable.

Stuck at a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of unimaginable tragedy, Win knows it’s only a matter of time until he transforms into something dark, something wolfish, just like his father. Until he hurts people too. So in order to do the least amount of harm to those around him, he masters the art of shutting others out.

But meeting fellow cross-country runner Jordan Herrera thwarts Win's plans for emotional isolation. A scholarship student with secrets of her own, Jordan’s boldness and wit draw him in. And when she asks Win to accompany her to an all-night party in the deep New England woods, he’s torn. Because he’s not sure they should get any closer. He’s not sure Jordan will be safe with him. But she insists. And he goes.

Win wants to believe he’s not dangerous. That he would never hurt someone he cares for. But as he leads Jordan into the wilderness with his father’s blood running through his veins and wild wolves running through his fragile mind, Win knows this is simply not true…

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

Born of Illusion is the first book in a new series. Each book in the series will introduce a new historical figure, whose legend is shrouded in magic, along with the young woman whose fate is irrevocably tied to his. The through line in each of the books will be The Ghost Club, the real life secret society that was founded in 1862 by the likes of Charles Dickens, Sir Conan Doyle, and W. B. Yeats to advance mankind’s knowledge of the paranormal. The first three books in the series will deal with Houdini, Aleister Crowley and Rasputin.

Geeking Out on YA Fiction News

Well, here is some YA News for you that will probably have you freaking out too :) 

1. Did you read Ransom Riggs' "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"? You didn't. Oh, heavens no! Go get it right now. Seriously, don't wait because the line at the library will soon be SOOO long. Why? Right, my point, they are making it into a movie. This book has the awesomeness of the X-Men and avoids all the right cliches by adding family mystery, adventure, and danger the likes that you don't expect. Who is good, who is evil. Seriously, read it now.

Even better than them making it a movie? They have Tim Burton (yes TIM BURTON) as the director of this creepy tale. I couldn't have chosen someone better if given the responsibility. Now, as long as they cast it well (please don't cast someone known to be Miss Peregrine, please!), this movie is sure to rock our socks of ... July 15 2015.

2. If that wasn't great news enough for this book - they are making a sequel (Hollow City) and there is a sneak peak at one of the creepy pictures!!

Here is the book description from GoodReads

This second novel begins in 1940, right after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends flee to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they encounter a dangerous madman named Caul, who also happens to be Miss Peregrine’s brother. Caul has discovered a way to rob Peculiars of their abilities and steal them for himself—and it will take all of Jacob’s efforts to save his friends from certain extinction.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly creepy) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

3) If you've been paying attention you know that I really, really like the Lunar Chronicles. I've read (and Reviewed) Cinder and Scarlet. Cinder was actually the very first book I reviewed here on the blog. Well, Marissa Meyer is writing away and a sneak peek of Cress, the Rapunzel story we are all awaiting, will be available shortly! Check out the Facebook page to stay updated. In the mean time, read the short prequels to Cinder (The Queen's Army) and Scarlet (Glitches).

By the way, Marissa Meyer, I wouldn't mind a post-story to what happens with Scarlet. Crossing my fingers that we will see more of her in Cress!

Marissa Meyer is awesome (as if we didn't already know) and responded to my statement via Twitter

4. This isn't really new news, but if you liked Shadow and Bone, you can read the first five chapters of the upcoming Storm and Seige from Leigh Bardugo. You do have to have some kind of reader to read this one, but I hadn't seen that was out yet and am excited to dig in!