Top Ten Tuesday- Book Characters I’d Switch Places With For a Day

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week we’re talking about book characters we’d switch places with for a day.

Believe it or not, this was a really difficult topic for me. Wha??? I know. I realized that many of my favorite heroines suffer from some serious drama such as dead siblings or parents, or any range of stuff that would freak me out (like hearing dead people or avoiding tracker jackers. Love reading about it. Would never want to do it). I like my life just the way it is thankyouverymuch, but here are a few people I’d consider being for a day.

1. Bridget Jones, Bridget Jones’ Diary– This is of because Bridget lives in London, a city I dream vividly of visiting one day and, of course, has nothing to do with the images in my head of Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. Obviously.

2. Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series– Come on you guys, she attends Hogwarts. Do I really need to explain this?

3. Mia Thermopolis, The Princess Diaries series– Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m listing Mia because of my crazy insane love for Michael Moscovitz (and you’d be so very right)  but honestly, I just adore everyone in this series other than JP that awful, disgusting corn hater.  I’d love to meet them all, check out Fat Louie’s collection of shiny things behind the toilet, have some Number One Noodle Son and make fun of Rommel a bit.

4. Jane, Austenland– When I read the premise of this book (Darcy-obsessed girl goes on all-expenses paid vacay to a super-secretive Jane Austen-themed resort in England), I wondered why no one has actually done this. You know, opened a resort like that. Can you imagine how fun it’d be?  And how many nerds would dig on it?  I’d totally go!  But alas, since Pemberely Park is not real, I’d be happy to switch places with Jane for a day as she attempts to shed her Darcy fixation once and for all.

5. Charlie Bucket, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory– I believe I’ve mentioned my intense love of chocolate, so obviously this makes sense on every level. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

6. Belly, The Summer series– Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely some sadness in Belly’s life.  Her story isn’t always easy, but I love the idea of the Fisher beach house and how Belly spent every summer there growing up with the two boys she’d one day love. Also, I love the beach and have always, always wanted a beach house. Just putting it out there in case someone wants to buy me one.

7. Clary Fray, The Mortal Instrumenst series– Clary also has her fair share of drama what with being in love with a guy who may possibly be her brother (major ew factor).  And yes, there are demons and things always trying to kill her and the people she loves, BUT MAN, this girl is fierce. I love her, I love the Shadowhunters and this incredible world Cassandra Clare has created. Oh and Clary’s boyfriend, Jace? He’s all right too. Ahem.

8. Frankie Landau Banks, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks–  For some odd reason, I’ve always wanted to go to boarding school. And be awesome. I’ve always wanted to be awesome.

9. Anne Elliot, Persuasion– Admittedly, Anne doesn’t have the easiest, most charming time in this book, but I’d love to switch places with her on the day she gets the letter from Captain Wentworth. Oh, that letter.  One of the most romantic things I’ve ever read in a book.

10. Emma, Emma– I would love the chance to switch places with adorably mislead little rich girl because I adore the sweet world she lives in. England, hello. Wealth, yes please. The object of one Mr. Knightley’s affections, um, yeah.

Honorable Mention:

Kate Wetherall, The Mysterious Benedict Society– I love Kate and that darn bucket.  I bet she grows up to be spectacularly fabs.

TGIF- July 20th

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads.

This week we get to pick any past TGIF topic we want. I LOVE THIS IDEA!!! Mostly because I am very easily excited about the smallest things, but partly because I’ve only been participating in TGIF for a little while.  I feel as if I’ve missed out on some fun discussions.

So..drumroll because I’m sure you’re DYING to know my choice right? Ahem.

I want to discuss series finales, ones I loved, ones I, um, didn’t feel quite so happy about.  I mean, the end of a series is a HUGE DEAL. I get very psyched/stressed about the whole thing.  How I remember a series hinges on that last book.  And usually, if I really, really love a series, I have a hard time admitting that I didn’t LOVE the the last book. My loyalty always wins out. Also, I’m a glass is half full kind of girl, so I’ll always look for the positive–but some endings are better than others.

For example, I loved, beyond words, Forever Princess, the final book in The Princess Diaries series.  Here we got to see Mia graduate high school, we got to find out where she’s going to college, to  see what happens with the Genovian elections and we got to see JP (that stupid Corn Hater) go down. Even better, we found out that Michael knew all along that Mia was smelling his neck as a way of calming down.  Oh, and he’s pretty much perfection, as we all knew he’d grow up to be. Hello, it was obvious to some of us thankyouverymuch.

And then there’s Where She Went by Gayle Forman.  Oh, you guys, I was so afraid to read the sequel to a book as beautiful and moving as If I Stay.  I can’t believe it, but I actually love WSW even more.  It’s all because of Adam, his pain, his deterioration, and about the opportunity to catch up with Mia, to see how she’s doing all these years later. I needed to know that she was alright. And I needed to see Adam get the healing and the love he so desperately deserved.

Oh, and then there’s We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han. Holy wow, I love this series. Conrad has been such a d-bag at times, so it was wonderful to see him as a grown up.  It was great to actually have the opportunity to be annoyed with Belly for some of her stupid mistakes (all while totally relating to her and to her love for Suzanne and her boys).  I was so happy to see the young woman Belly grew into and to finally see her end up with the Fisher boy she was always meant to be with–but only after she’d found her way as an individual.

Then there were the let downs. Be warned. The spoilers here are aplenty as, I feel I must rant.

I had such mixed feelings about Mockingjay. For the most part, I liked it. I loved that life in District 13 wasn’t the perfect Utopia we were all hoping for.  I loved getting more Gale and more Finnick (Finnick! Don’t make me cry).  And even though I felt bad for him, I was totally into the whole Crazy Peeta storyline.

I was very unhappy with Gale’s story (yes, I’m biased as I’m totally Team Gale).  He just sort of petered out at the end. He never visited Katniss in the hospital and then he just skulked off to District 2 never to be heard from again. After all they’d been through? Really? I know he felt guilty, but that wasn’t believable to me. And I really wanted Katniss to do two things: 1)To tear Prez Snow’s head off and pee down his throat and 2) To make a definitive choice between Gale and Peeta. Neither thing happened. She wimped out with Snow (and then made some weird comment later about continuing the Hunger Games in Prim’s memory. I’m sorry but, WTF?) and she ends up with Peeta, (who I believe was the right choice for her)—but it was more like they ended up together because no one else was around since Gale was busy spreading his awesome around District 2.

So did I have some issues with the book? Hell to the yes. But somehow I still liked it.

Breaking Dawn and I had some rough moments too, but we made it through every freaking page (there were a lot of them). I was very happy that Stephenie Meyers did some things I felt I needed: she gave me closure with every character I cared about.  She gave me the wedding and honeymoon I really wanted to see. But holy freaking sparkly vampires, did I need an entire third of the book narrated by Jacob?  And did I need that whole Rosemary’s baby thing? I’ll answer that. No.  She lost me a bit there.  Overall, I was happy with how the series ended, but that middle portion bored me.  Also, I hate Jacob. The less I get of him the better.

What about you? Any series endings that you loved or hated?

Top Ten Tuesday- Books from the Last 10 Years that I Hope Will Be Read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books From The Past Ten Years That I Hope Will Continue To Be Read In The Next Ten (or longer).  Whew! That’s a mouthful.

And I’m warning you now, I’m totally going to cheat. There’s a series or two where the initial book came out more than ten years ago–while the final book and most of the series came out in more recent years–and I’m SO going to count them. Yes, I’m bending the rules because I’m referring to the series, which is complete in the correct time frame. But I’m only doing this because  their sheer awesome needs to be around for future generations.  I can’t deny it.

1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling–  WHAAATT??  I told you I was going to do that, right?  And there it is.  While the first book came out back in 1997, the series wasn’t complete until 2007.  And truly, I think anyone who’s read these books will agree with me, they will stand the test of time.  They should be required reading.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins– This is such a powerful story and it’s a great gateway book; a way to introduce someone to the incredibly awesome young adult books out there.  I think this will become a YA classic that others will be measured by. In fact, I think it’s already happening.

3. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson– As you all know, I adore this book. It explores grief and loss and first love and lust and friendship and everything in between with such honestly and sweetness.  I want everyone to read this book and love it. It’s practically impossible not to become completely engrossed in Nelson’s beautiful writing.

4. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot– Holla! I did it again.  The first book in this series came out in 2000, but the last once wasn’t released until 2009.  Let’s go with that date, shall we?  These are funny, sweet books, but more than that, Mia is a wonderful heroine.  She is awkward and she struggles with the same things that normal teenage girls do (only it’s amplified because, being a princess, she’s often thrust in the spotlight).  Royalty or not, there are still mean girls who torment her, best friends who get angry with her, boobs that haven’t seemed to arrive yet and boys she hopelessly crushes on–just like any other high school girl. It is so fun to watch her grow up throughout the series, to laugh at her mistakes and cringe and some of the things she does, and then to smile and be proud of who she becomes in the end.  Also…I think you know where I’m going with this…Michael Moscovitz. All future generations should be exposed to that particular brand of awesome.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak– This is such a powerful story set in Germany during WWII, made all the more intriguing because it is narrated by Death.  There is a great deal of sadness in it and at the same time, there is a sense of hope.  The characters in this story are faced with terrible circumstances that no one should have to be exposed to, and yet they find big and small ways to fight back, to rebel and to stand firm against the inevitable. Everyone needs to read this book.

6.  Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta– This is such a complex, wonderful book.  It introduced me to a cast of characters I fell in love with, a place in the world with which I was completely unfamiliar and, more important, it opened my eyes to Marchetta and her beautiful stories.  This is again, another fantastic gateway book to YA.  It shows that YA isn’t all vampires and angels (or whatever the rage will be in ten years. Ogres? Who knows.).  The writing is flawless and characters like Taylor Markham and Jonah (effing) Griggs are impossible to forget.

7. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger– This isn’t YA, but it is my favorite book.  I think it’s just such a beautiful picture of love and marriage. And all that awesome sci-fi time travel stuff totally sucked me in.

8. Night by Elie Wiesel– This is a book that’s powerful because of how painful it is.  Wiesel is brutally simplistic and honest in telling the true story of the time he and his father spent in German concentration camps during WWII. Do yourself a favor and read it. You’ll never forget it. And no one ever should.

9. If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman– I love these books.  I feared they’d be depressing, and although there are many parts that made me cry (Teddy and Harry Potter.  I could barely take it!), the overall story, the memories Mia had of her family and her friends, were so uplifting. Then, in WSW, to watch that love she and Adam share, to watch the brokeness and the healing they both needed to experience, it sort of took my breath away.  These books so accurately describe familial bonds, friendship and real, true, romantic love.  It is out there and I think Forman completely nails it here.

10. How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr I love all of Sara Zarr’s books. Seriously, if you haven’t read one, do it.  They are all completely different and they all have a strong message without being overly preachy or self-righteous.  There is pain in all of them and there’s always a bit of hope mixed in with the realism.  I particularly loved How to Save a Life because of the themes involved: dealing with grief, the pain of saying goodbye to a relationship, the hope of a new life and the dynamics of what truly makes a family a family.  There are so many ways Zarr could have ended this story, there are so many tragedies that could have occurred–all totally believable–and yet she chose such a sweet, heartfelt ending that I wanted to hug my book.

I said I was going to cheat, so let’s make it Top Eleven Tuesday too, OK?

11. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness– You guys, oh, you guys, this book is so excellent. And I know you may read the premise and think, “Um, no thank you” but do yourself a favor and read it.  The whole series is amazing and it is the type of story that needs to be around forever because it’s just THAT GOOD.

Starters

Starters by Lissa Price

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. (Goodreads)

The Story:

Callie is has been given an enticing option; a way to provide money, safety and a better life for her little brother, Tyler.  After all, he’s her responsibility now that her parents are dead.  The Spore Wars have killed off everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty, leaving a world full of Enders—the older generations who can live upwards to two-hundred years—and the Starters, the younger generation.  These groups of people survived the war because they, being the most at risk, were vaccinated first against the deadly spores.

Struggling to survive, Callie and Tyler have been living on the streets for the past  year since their mom died and their father was taken away, the looming threat of his impending infection too great a risk to the rest of society.  They’ve befriended another Starter, Michael, and the three of them are practically starving, squatting in abandoned buildings, dodging violence and trying to hold out hope that things will change.

Then Callie hears about Prime Destinations.  They offer Callie more money than she can possibly imagine in exchange for her body. They’re a discreet business, catering to wealthy Enders who wish to live in a Starter’s young, healthy body for a while.  PD sweeps the bodies clean of any nasty flaws, inserts a chip into their brain, hooks everyone up via computer, and bingo! Insta vacation for the Ender.  Even better, the Starter wakes up afterward with no recollection.  What could be easier?

Callie only has to do three rentals to get the money.  The first two go by in a snap.  If only the third one had gone quite as smoothly.  Instead, Callie wakes up finding herself embroiled in whatever strange life the Ender was living—which, crazy alert, includes a murder plot!  And a cute guy. There is always, always, a cute guy.

My Thoughts:

This book instantly drew me in. I’m a sucker for anything that has a Twilight Zone vibe and, hello, this screams insanity.  The overall experience at Prime Destinations is creepy, precisely because it isn’t (at first). It shouldn’t be as easy as it was.  It shouldn’t seem crazy not to do it.  I mean, were I in Callie’s shoes, I would have gotten completely sucked in too.  It seemed like the answer to all of her problems.

I liked Callie, especially her devotion to Tyler.  As much as she probably wanted to crawl into a corner and die, she fought on.  But as she attempts to make friends and make sense of everything, I found it really disturbing that she starts to fall for a guy. I get that he’s hot and that she’s still a teenager, but it seemed weird to me that she was interested in going on dates when, you know, there was someone in her head who wanted to commit a heinous crime. Also, what about her little brother?  She still has an underlying concern for him, but that should have taken precedence over her love life (and most of the time it does…but not all of the time).  I saw the draw in her love interest, Blake, but it just felt strange to even go there when her head is still somewhat attached to some old broad back at Prime Destinations.

Also, there was a huge EEEEEEEWWWWW moment near the end.  I think you’ll know it when you get there. It may take some recollection, but you’ll see it.

Still, despite those two minor issues, I was totally into this book.  It was a pretty sweet ride and I am definitely going to read the sequel, Enders.

Crush Intensity: 4/5

The Way I See It:

Annasophia Robb as Callie

Zach Roerig as Michael

Tom Sturridge as Blake

Thanks, as always, to my friends at Gone Pecan for sharing their copy!

The Cupcake Club

The Cupcake Club: Peace, Love and Cupcakes by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk

Kylie will never survive fourth grade in her new school without friends. And starting a cupcake club seems the perfect way to meet other girls. But getting the club up and running is not easy– especially with trouble spelled M-e-r-e-d-i-t-h trying to ruin them. In taking on the class mean girl, Kylie and her new friends may have just bitten off more than they can chew. (Barnes and Noble)

I’m super-excited about the opportunity to review this book because a) I love middle grade books, b) I love baking, especially the eating part and c) I love cupcakes!  And since I have a ten year-old daughter who is obsessed with all three things and who is quite the bookworm, I asked her to read and review this book—written by a mother-daughter duo— with me.  It makes sense, right?  Of course it does!

So please, allow me to introduce my oldest daughter,  Chloe.

Chloe’s Synopsis:

Kylie Carson dreads going to school, as the main victim of her class’s queen bee. But when her new teacher asks her to start a baking club, everything might just change. She recruits other “outsiders”, and as they grow closer together, they learn to deal with the queen bee’s hurtful words and threats, with each other to lean on and help out.

Chloe’s Thoughts:

The Cupcake Club is a cute, delightful read. The story of Kylie, her fellow club members, and their bond is very touching and sweet. This book also has a few (DELICIOUS) recipes and Carrie’s tips on baking perfect cupcakes. After all, she is a cupcake connoisseur!

Overall, Sheryl and Carrie Berk whip up a great story that is sure to be a treat for both children and adults.

(I know. OMG, isn’t my kid adorable?). Sorry, proud mom moment. 

Chloe’s Crush Intensity: 4.5/5

My Thoughts:

I thought this book was so cute.  It was light and fun, it dealt with mild mean girls in a positive way and it had a very sweet, albeit flawed, heroine.  I loved that although Kylie was a good, bright girl, she didn’t always make the right decisions and she had to learn from her mistakes.  Overall, the writing was fun, the story was fast-paced,  and it had me dreaming of baking. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Chloe and I want to extend a huge thank you to Sourcebooks for sending us a copy of The Cupcake Club.  We loved it!

Monsters of Men

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking, Book 3)

As a world-ending war surges around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions. The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people. Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even as a convoy of new settlers approaches. And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many. The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist? To save the life of the one you love most, or thousands of strangers? To believe in redemption, or assume it is lost? Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale. (Amazon.com)

I just finished this book last night and you guys, my emotions are still totally raw.  This book is phenomenal.  The entire series is totally breathtaking.  If you, for any reason have skipped out on it (like, for example, I was never interested because a) it didn’t sound like my thing and b)I knew it would tear me up), do yourself a favor and read it. It’s not a snuggly, warm, happy series, but it is so good and Ness has given you characters to completely love, characters you want to root for, characters you want to see succeed. And then he’s created those you will hate with a fierce passion. Bad guys who are supposed to be good guys and bad guys who are just inherently evil and guys who aren’t bad but want revenge.  It’s all so dramatic and it’s so, so good.

If you’ve not read the other books (start with The Knife of Never Letting Go), there are some spoilers here, so be warned.

In this final installment we pick up where The Ask and The Answer left off. Todd has untied his prisoner, Mayor Prentiss, in the hopes that he will help him fight against the oncoming attack from the Spackle, now organized into an enormous army with weapons the humans have never seen.  Viola is on her way to the Scout ship, which has finally landed, signaling that the new settlers are only a couple of months behind.

There is so much war in this book. And Todd is becoming more powerful. He can quiet his Noise now. And he can control people with it too.  And it makes Viola feel cut off from him when she can’t hear him.  He’s getting too close to the Mayor (hoping he’s changing him, making him a better man).  And all the while, Viola is spending more and more time in a sick-bed on the scout ship because the band on her arm is badly infected, bad enough to kill her.

I know. Ugh!

This time around, we hear from a new voice.  Todd and Viola still share the story from their individual perspectives, but we get to know the Spackle and that notorious number 1017- the one who vowed to kill Todd for his cowardice. By sharing more about the Spackle, we get insight into the planet and its Noise and how this is not necessarily the curse that men have thought it to be. Perhaps it could be a good thing if only they’d let it be.  Or unless you’re the Mayor and believe that controlling people is for their best interest.

This was such an excellent end to a fantastic series. I’m so sorry that it’s over.  I loved these characters, especially Todd and Viola. The love they have for each other is beyond friendship (and only has the slightest tinge of romantic love). It is deep and all-consuming in the best, most self-sacrificial way. These two would do absolutely anything to save one another.  And it’s that devotion, that drive to see the other survive that pulls them through and keeps them fighting against what often seems like insurmountable odds.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 Was there ever any doubt?  This book had me before it began because I loved the characters so much already, but it was truly a good story on its own and such a painful, heart-wrenching conclusion that had me sobbing. And yet somehow, in the very end there was still hope. THAT is what I needed for my Todd and Viola.

Memorable Quote:

(Viola)

I was going to cause this damage myself.  I was going to say, yes, do it, fire it—

Kill all these Spackle, these Spackle with their real reason to attack someone who deserves it more than anyone on this planet—

If it would save Todd, it wouldn’t have mattered, I was going to do it—

I would have killed hundreds, thousands to save him.

I would have started an even bigger war for Todd.

And that realization is so huge I have to reach out a hand to Acorn to steady myself. 

Loss

Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler

Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on, from the school bullies to the teachers. But things change drastically when Death tells Billy he must stand in as Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now armed with a Bow that allows him to strike with disease from a distance, Billy lashes out at his tormentors…and accidentally causes an outbreak of meningitis. Horrified by his actions, Billy begs Death to take back the Bow. For that to happen, says Death, Billy must track down the real White Rider—who is lost in his memories.

In his search, Billy travels through White Rider’s life: from ancient Phrygia, where the man called King Mita agrees to wear the White Rider’s Crown, to Sherwood Forest, where Pestilence figures out how to cheat Death; from the docks of Alexandria, where cartons of infested grain are being packed onto a ship that will carry the plague, to the Children’s Crusade in France—all the way to what may be the end of the world. When Billy finally finds the White Rider, the teen convinces the man to return to the real world.

But now the insane White Rider plans to unleash something awful on humanity—something that could make the Black Death look like a summer cold. Billy has a choice: he can live his life and pretend he doesn’t know what’s coming, or he can challenge the White Rider for his Crown. Does one bullied teenager have the strength to stand his ground—and the courage to save the world? (Goodreads)

The Story:

Billy Ballard is bullied on a regular basis.  And when he gets home each day from that crapfest, he’s babysitter to his ailing grandfather, the man who is now only a shell of the guy who was once his hero, any distinguishing qualities of his old personality having long been stolen by Alzheimer’s.  Billy’s mother, dear and kind as she is, is always at work in an attempt to cover her father’s rising medical costs. And Billy’s dad? He skipped town years ago. The only bright spot in Billy’s life is Marianne, his best friend who somehow went from being his only friend to his biggest crush virtually overnight; the girl he’d like to kiss but he’s never had the courage to.

Enter Death.  Oh, yeah, Death. He comes around to inform Billy that when he was a child he was tricked into one day taking on the role of Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And One Day has arrived.  The only way to undo this is to find the original White Rider and bring him back.  The problem is that all those years of being well, Pestilence, has turned the White Rider into a bit of a crazyfest.  And he has some wicked plans.

My Take:

This book had some truly heartbreaking elements to it.  I mean Billy’s life just utterly sucks. He’s a bright boy, he does what is expected of him,  he takes care of his grandfather—but he awakens each day vomiting, he walks around with a painfully nervous stomach and he looks for ways to avoid his tormentors at school.  It’s terrible because it’s so real.  I could feel his dread.  Even remembering it now makes my stomach hurt.

Though I’ve not read the other books in this series ( she’s written Hunger and Rage ), I love the concept of writing about the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse.

That being said—and I know this sounds crazy—I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as dark as it felt at times. I know, it’s Pestilence and apocalyptic themes and all, but I think combined with the elements of bullying and of Billy’s grandfather’s illness it was a lot to take in.  Each of those three ideas is huge unto themselves.  Kessler does a great job with the subject matter (be sure to read her beautifully honest author’s note at the end), however I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Billy’s real life (how he deals with being a Rider in his everyday life).  There was a great deal of time spent in “The White” (where Billy sees the other Riders, the history of Pestilence, etc) and those parts dragged for me.

All in all, I think this is a solid read and I would definitely pick up the other books in the series.

Crush Intensity: 3.5/5

 

I want to extend a huge thank you to the author, Jackie Morse Kessler for giving me the opportunity to read her novel. Thank you!

The Most Awesome Hunger Games Recap Ever

Ok, so you’ve all seen it by now…right?  If not, why are you on the computer when you  should be at the theater watching the film in your HG finery?  Like this:

This is what I wore, thanks to a husband who appreciates his wife's nerdiness

For everyone else, I know you saw it. I know you loved it because it was totally and completely spazzworthy to 1) see such an epic YA book turned into such a fantastic non-Twilightesque film and 2) to know that this continues to open doors (doors helped along by the success of a certain crappy sparkly vampire movie franchise) to other hopefully amazing YA book to film adaptations.

More than anything, I hope this film makes people pick up this series and read. Read it for the first time, read it again–whatever.

To me, a big part of why I loved this movie was the supremely perfect casting of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  She was amazeballs.  Absolutely awesome.

As far as the guys…well, I know that everyone is in love with Peeta (even me, a total Team Gale girl, thinks Peeta is truly swoonworthy).  And it’s hard because Josh Hutcherson isn’t some serious stud, but I thought he captured that balance of softness and bravery that Peeta has.  He may not be the way we all pictured him, but Collins never really makes him out to be some hottie. (Also, in case you were wondering, my husband is staunchly Team Peeta and says that outside of his shortness, Hutcherson is exactly how he’d pictured his Peeta. Y’all, we’ve discussed it at length. I’m serious).

While I’ve never been thrilled with the casting of my man Gale, there is so little of him in this film that it’s hard to form much of an opinion.  I’m sure he’ll be fine (not fiiiiine, but you know, okay).

And then there were the Capitol peeps.  I loved everything about the Capitol: the colors, the costumes, the behind the scenes of the games (which was such a brilliant way to explain things like the trackerjackers).  Effie and Caesar were great and I loved the extra scenes with Seneca and Snow.  Donald Sutherland gave Snow such a pure, understated sense of evil (not as in your face as I would have thought) and that made him even scarier.

I also think they really nailed that relationship with Cinna and Katniss (okay,  and it doesn’t hurt that Lenny Kravitz is all kinds of hot), but I really felt that element was well-done.

I’m not among the ranks who feel that the film wasn’t violent enough. I thought it hit the right note. As I remember it in the book, Katniss is hearing about many of the deaths through the cannon blasts. So, while I always thought that the idea behind the story is terribly grotesque, the details were never too much. In the same way, I thought the film showed some great action and real brutality without going for too much gore.  That being said, I encouraged my ten year-old to read the series (which she did and loved), but I thought she wasn’t quite ready for the movie.  That’s just me though.

My only two complaints are very small:  First, I thought Haymitch should have been darker.  Woody Harrelson did great with the funnier aspects of his character, but he never came across quite as wounded as I’ve always pictured Haymitch.  And last (this is a minor one),  I wonder why the mutant dogs at the cornucopia didn’t have the faces of the dead tributes. Maybe it would have come off as cheesy?  Who knows, but it totally impacted me when I read the book.  It would have been pretty stellar to have seen it.

So…what did you guy think?

Goddess Interrupted

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone.(Goodreads)

This book is a sequel to The Goddess Test. If you’ve not read TGT be warned–Thar be spoilers ahead, Matey. (Why am I talking like a pirate?)

Vee and I both loved the first book because in a world full of mythological retellings, this one had a fun twist. If you need a refresher, you can check out Vee’s review here.

The Story:

Kate has just returned after six months away from Henry and the whole crazy clan.  She married Henry, that big ball of brooding hotness (otherwise known as Hades) and then basically left for her six moths of freedom.  She’s all set to officially be crowned as the Queen of the Underworld and to take her rightful place beside her husband (filling the shoes once worn by her sister, Persephone.  Awkward!).

But wait. Something goes awry. You figured that out, right? This book is called Goddess INTERRUPTED.

It seems that the nasty girl who caused many of the problems during Kate’s testing—Calliope—is back.  And she’s feeling a little pissy about the fact that Kate had her banished.  In order to get revenge she seeks the help of Cronos, the evil Titan who’s been locked up for ages (or eons, or some very long span of time).  Cronos is one of the few things that can kill Henry, Kate and the rest of the council.  The fact that they are the ones who’ve kept him prisoner all this time doesn’t make him feel too warm and fuzzy toward them, so he’s more than willing to partner up with Calliope.

The Council needs to join together and with the help of Persephone (I know!) they will have to find a way to defeat their enemies.

My Take:

This is a good sequel. The story is solid and the suspense is good. I, of course, was far more interested in the relationship between Henry and Kate (who cares if everyone in the Council could die. Is there kissing!!!???).

Henry was distant and cold throughout much of the story and it made me quite upset with him.  I wanted him to take his woman into his arms and properly show her how much he’d missed, but it was almost as if they were strangers.  And poor Kate. She needed sexytimes reassurance.  Henry was still such a good guy, but for a portion of the book he’s so caught up in his self-loathing (and yeah, their impending doom and all) that he couldn’t quite be what Kate needed.

The romance does pull through and I felt quite in need of a cigarette richly rewarded for the long wait I’d put in hoping for some smooching.  It would have been lovely to have had some of that sooner, but it makes sense in the way that the story plays out.  And when it all comes together it is goooooood.

Kate remains admirably strong, although she was a bit more undone in this book.That may be because of the business with Henry, or the fact that the woman he loved like crazy is now back and trying to help them, or it could just be that everyone thinks they’re all gonna die.  Take your pick. She feels pretty helpless because she’s such a newbie to the whole goddess thing and you know what happens to newbies.  They do risky things to help the people they love.

I still really love the way Carter uses mythology while adding her own creative elements.  Her stories always contain a bit of mystery because you aren’t quite sure who Kate can trust. That proves to be especially true in this book because we’re left with quite the cliffhanger ending.  This story is complete, but the next phase sets up quite nicely.

Crush Intensity: 4/5 I liked it because I already loved this world and the characters.  Of course I already had a thing for Henry (hubba hubba) and Kate and this awkward love they’re trying to build.  This one was a little slower for me than the first book, but it was still good.

The sequel, Goddess Inheritance, comes out April 2013. Why do we have to wait so long?

Thank you to Net Galley and Harlequin Teen for allowing me to read an e-galley of this book. Goddess Interrupted is in stores March 27th.

Shatter Me

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I love this cover

“You can’t touch me,” I whisper.

I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him.

He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him.

But things happen when people touch me.

Strange things.

Bad things.

No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever. (Goodreads)

The Story:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in 264 days.  She’s locked in an asylum because she has a gift an abnormality (get used to the strikethroughs because this is something the author uses quite well to get her point across in the book).  When Juliette touches people they die. Instantly she reminded me of someone else with a lethal touch.

Yes, it's Rogue from X Men. I would have chosen a cartoon image, but they all had ginormous boobs, which is just not how I picture Rogue

The world outside Juliette’s cell is completely different from ours.  Life is controlled by The Reestablishment.  There isn’t enough food, there is disease—even the weather patterns have changed. And as the army of The Reestablishment pushes forward promising a better way, things only look more bleak.

Warner is the son of a valuable man in The Reestablishment.  He has Juliette removed from her asylum because he wants to harness her power and use it as a weapon (which terrifies Juliette). Let me be very straight here.  Warner is pure evil.  There is no doubt about it—so why did he make my toes tingle?   Because the man is dead sexy ( OMG, I hate myself for saying that. I’m so ashamed.  Normally I don’t like guys who kill people for pleasure. I swear). But truly, I wanted Juliette to facepunch him after having a steamy makeout with him. Warner wants to team up with Juliette and in his own twisted way he wants to love her. It was totally intriguing to me and almost Darth Vader-esque.

Aww, remember how he just wanted Padme to help him rule his new empire? The one he tried to establish after he killed all the Jedis.

One soldier, Adam Kent, has been assigned to care for Juliette.  Adam and Juliette knew each other when they were children. And as it turns out, Adam remembers her quite well. In fact, he volunteered to watch over her.  But he really isn’t Team Warner. He’s Team Juliette all the way. And the steaminess between Adam and Juliette? It’s off the charts. It’s TO DIE FOR. Like, I found myself reading and rereading those parts over and over again and fanning myself.

Adam and Juliette do not want her used to kill and torture people, so they devise a plan to escape.  And while Juliette still sees her ability as a problem, she begins to understand that most of those around her view it as a gift.  Now she has to decide how to use it.

My Take:

This book was totally excellent.  I loved all of the characters (even that wanker Warner!).  They were so layered with secrets and pain and they were all willing to go to such lengths to protect Juliette.  And Juliette…I loved her. She was so kind and selfless. She had no idea how powerful she really was. And she was brave beyond words.

And lordy the swoon between Juliette and Adam was truly spazzworthy. Every moment. Every touch (oh yes, touch) was breathtaking. Adam is wonderfully written—so full of love and so willing to go to any lengths for Juliette. I loved his character and found him to be somewhat reminiscent of another tough guy I adore, Jonah Effing Grigss. WHAT??? I know? Is it the military thing? Maybe.

And the end– I loved it.  Shatter Me was a complete story unto itself, but the story sets up perfectly for the next book in the series.  Now I’m just bummed that I have to wait!

Book #2, Unravel Me comes out February of 2013

Crush Intensity: 5/5 I totally loved this book.  Can you tell?

The Way I See It:

For Juliette, I like Lily Collins.

For Warner, I like Alex Pettyfer

And for Adam…seriously I have no idea. I’m open to suggestions, but I’ve thought long and hard about this. I’ve done every internet search possible and sought the opinions of others. It’s tough to put that kind of perfection on one guy. Read it and see for yourself.

Soundtrack:

The Killers, Bling (Confession of a King). I chose a video with subtitles because I love the words.