Top Ten Tuesday- No, Thanks

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

toptentuesday
This week we are discussing fictional worlds we’d never want to live in (or characters we’d never want to trade places with). Look out: I think you’re in for a load of dystopic settings here…

The Places

Katniss Panem1. Panem, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins–When I read a book I usually try to momentarily put myself –me as me, not as Katniss or anyone remotely cool–in that story and I ask myself what I’d do, how I’d survive it. And yeah, Panem in particular is an utter nightmare. It’s horrifyingly inhumane and as a parent I cringe at any story where adults are unable to truly protect their children from imminent danger. In this series life seems so hopeless.

Divergent Chicago2. Divergent era Chicago, Veronica Roth– Ditto, especially to life in the Dauntless clan. I’d have stayed at home with my mom and dad living the quiet, simple life because I’m a giant scaredypants.

 

More Than This3. The World of More Than This by Patrick Ness– I don’t know the proper name for this place but I am certain I don’t ever, ever want to go there. If you haven’t read the book you’re just going to have to trust me there (and read it because it’s awesome).

 

Knife of Never Letting Go4. Life on the planet in The Chaos Walking series By Patrick Ness– These are some seriously jacked up folks, people. Seriously. There’s a disease where everyone can hear the thoughts of every man. EVERY THOUGHT. Do you want to live with that? I don’t. And then, in this one town, they killed every woman in sight. And they want to kill their youngest boy, Todd and a girl whose ship has just crash-landed on their planet. These kids are thirteen and an entire town is trying to hunt them down and kill them! It’s heartbreaking–and fantastic. One of my all-time favorite book  series ever.

THE-GIVER_612x4125. Anytown Anywhere in The Giver series by Lois Lowry–There are definitely moments of sweetness in this quartet, but there is darkness in each setting, though it’s not as obvious as it might be in real life. It’s a threat that sits quietly and simmers in the background until you don’t realize it’s boiling over.

Wither6. The World of The Chemical Garden trilogy By Lauren DeStefano– I cannot recall the name of the country/town in which these characters reside, but the premise of living in a world where women are kidnapped to become wives, prisoners and basically baby machines to help continue the human race (as everyone under a certain age is supposed to die by the age of twenty) due to a genetic disorder.  There’s just no ray of sunshine there, I’m sorry. But the books are very good.

 

The People

Dracoy and Bellatrix1. Draco Malfroy, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling– Yes, I know he’s an incredible poo throughout most of the series, but I actually felt bad for him when he’s told–when he’s bound–to kill Dumbledore. He’s been raised on the side of the bad guys his entire life and though I think it takes him far too long to see the light, I could see the struggle he was dealing with, being torn between loyalty to his family and realizing that the way he’d been thinking, the way he’d been raised, was actually wrong. I mean, I still thought he was a giant tool for most of the series, but really he was a pawn, a victim of the circumstances into which he was born.

If I Stay2. Mia, If I Stay, Where She Went by Gayle Forman–I love this story with every part of me. I love MIa’s romance with Adam, but she has suffered such intense loss, such tragedy, I can’t bear to think of how she was able to cope. Maybe that’s why WSW was such a healing, amazing book for me. I got to see where Mia was in life and know she was good. In fact, she was better than good; she was happy.

The Body FInder3. Violet, The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting— I love these books, but yeah, there’s pretty much no part of me that wants to hear echoes from the dead. Nope. I don’t care how hot her boyfriend is.

Delirium4. Lena, The Delirium series by Lauren Oliver– Oliver did such a beautiful job portraying the melancholy life of a world where love (in any form) is outlawed and treated as a disease. However far-fetched the idea may be, the themes of government-imposed controls, of fear regarding the vulnerability love gives you, all felt very real to me.

 

That’s all for now. Happy Tuesday!

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday- Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

toptentuesday

Well, it’s feels like forever since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday. I know, I’m sorry. I’ve been lacking in the list-making department.  But never fear. Today I’m ready to tackle this week’s subject: My Reading Wishlist. This can be regarding more from a particular author, certain issues tackled, etc.

So let’s get to it!

I Heart MM1. You know what’s coming, right? But I have to say it. Have. To.

Michael Moscovitz. I want more of Michael Moscovitz Fake Man of My Dreams. So this goes out specifically to Meg Cabot: I need more Princess Diaries. I know the series has wrapped, but I reread it a couple of times a year in its entirety, then I pick up individual books from the series at random (so pretty much, I’m always reading a PD book). I need more.

love to laugh2. Funny Books- I love books that make me laugh out loud. I respect the fact that most authors say it’s more difficult to make someone laugh than it is to make them cry. I believe that. But I want to laugh. I want to giggle. I want to read smart funny, witty funny, silly funny, goofy funny…just funny.

kissing books3. More kissing books- There really isn’t a shortage here, I just like them and will never tire of a sweet romance. NEV- EEEER. And can we take out that whole thing where Good Girl is paired in Bio labs with Bad Boy/Mysterious Hot New Guy in School? It’s been done. I’m open to anything else though.

boarding schools4. More Boarding School Settings- I probably never would have survived boarding school, but I like to think I would have been the Frankie Landau Banks of any school I attended. Humor me here (because it’s so NOT true. I am a rule follower all the way).

Hermione5. Speaking of Frankie, I’d like more girls who kick butt. I don’t just mean physically tough girls (those are great too), but girls who outsmart everyone. We need more girls like that.

Clueless6. Best Friend Stories- I love a good romance, but sometimes I just want to read a girl story about the ups and downs of friendship. Not boy/girl friendship (which I also love, hello adorable), but tried and true BFFs who share makeup and have sleepovers and who know everything about each other. I’d love to see more of that.

Paris7. Fish out of Water Stories- I love books about people adjusting to life in a new place (like Anna and the French Kiss). I can’t move to a new city. In fact, I’m a stay at home mom; I can’t fly to a new city. I want to visit a new place, get to know it like a local, all through the eyes pf my protagonist.

Harry P8. Wizards- I know there’s no one who can do it like JK Rowling, but I’d love more books about wizards. I’m not a huge genre Fantasy fan, but I could get behind a good wizard story again.

Boys in Books9. Boy’s POV- I really love a boy’s perspective. I especially love it if it’s a love story. Alternating perspectives, his and hers versions, work for me too. I just really enjoy getting into a boy’s head. If it’s done well it’s fascinating.

ryan_ya10. Contemporary YA- I love YA, obviously. I love everything about it. We’ve seen our vampire stages and fallen angels stages and plenty of mermaids, and dystopias. There has been good (and bad) in every facet of YA, but I can never get enough stories about normal girls, ones without superpowers or a wolf fetish (because really. I still don’t get it. It’s like falling in love with your dog) or who live in worlds that have survived some kind of apocalypse. These are all great, interesting things, but show me a girl who has a funny after school job and a crush on her co-worker, let me get to know a girl whose just lost her best friend or whose life has been rocked by tragedy, and I’ll get sucked in almost every time.

And what about you? Anything you’re wishing for?

Catching Up (For reals, I swear)

I’ve barely posted anything lately because my wonderful children were still on Christmas vacation. That is,  until this week. Now, as life returns to normal I’m realizing that I a) have about a billion reviews to write  and b) have about ten billion books to read and c) this is seriously going to put a dent in my Once Upon a Time viewing.

Anyhoo, since I’m feeling a little procrastinatory (this is a real world. I declare it), I thought it would be fun to fill you in on some things that I am currently loving:

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green–  Well, yeah, I know, I mean, of course it’s good. But still, I’m really enjoying in. In fact, I’m savoring it because this is my bathtub book, which means it’s going to take me forever to read because I will only let myself read it in the tub (otherwise I run out of books because I have things on my Nook and since I can’t take that in the tub I end up grabbing a book I’ve read repeatedly and find myself rereading an entire series because I just can’t stop and then I still have a million books on my Nook that go unread. It’s hard to be me).

enhanced-buzz-15123-1389464957-24This adorable Pride and Prejudice themed engagement because…you guys. Just look at it. Read the article. It will make you smile.

The Outlander trailer is out and oh em gee. Have you read that book? I love it. I’ve read it a couple of times and it’s steamy steamy with a smart heroine, a swoony hero, time travel…everything. I hope the show lives up to it. I think the trailer is gorgeous.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak–  It’s been a couple of years since I first read this and now I get to reread it and –be still my heart–discuss it with some dear bookish friends because this is our January book club selection. Yay!

I loved this fantastic article about Jane Austen swag. Can we just agree that everyone needs a little Jane in their life?  I especially adored the Captain Wentworth quote tee because OMG his letter. To die for. Like, I need to do a Persuasion reread pronto.

And finally, the new GOT trailer is out. The images. All of them. It’s an awesomeness overload. Holy crap.

Howdy Stranger!

I’ve been pretty much MIA lately because of the holidays. With that comes Christmas vacation for my husband and children and everyone is home together watching White Christmas, wrapping presents, building things out of Legos and visiting tons of family.  This week, my husband went back to work but my children are still home with me for another week. I love this time with my girls, but it leaves little time to blog.

Also, I have to admit, while I’ve been burning the midnight oil lately, I haven’t been reading. And I haven’t been writing. I’ve been fine tuning my couch potato skills. Normally, I watch 1-2 hours of TV a week. Maybe. I’m just not a television person and so other than an episode of Downton Abbey or The Vampire Diaries, I don’t watch a lot. Until now.

Last week I fell in love, albeit it quite late, with Once Upon a Time. And it gave me all the feels I could ever dream of having.

RAPHAEL SBARGE, LANA PARRILLA, JARED GILMORE, JENNIFER MORRISON, JAMIE DORNAN, ROBERT CARLYLE, GINNIFER GOODWIN, JOSH DALLAS

Fairy tales, romance, KISSING? Where has this show been all my life?

I watched an episode or two when I was under the weather. And then it was like crack. I was cramming in two episodes every night while my family slept soundly. I watched twenty-two episodes last week. The entire first season. That’s like more TV than I’ve watched in ages. Or ever.

But because of my new Netflix addiction, I didn’t read anything other than a chapter or two of a book I’d already been reading for two weeks. TWO WEEKS! So I promised myself I’d cool it on season two for a while, maybe pick up something new, finish the things sitting on my night stand. But then my oldest daughter, who recently became a huge Jane Eyre fan (Chloe, you’re welcome) asked me to watch one of the Jane film versions with her. So I spent yet another night watching TV.

Jane and Rochester

When Michael Fassbender asks you to marry him you say YES. No doubt about it.

And you know what? It was so worth it. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books and though none of the films truly do it justice, I still always enjoy them. Plus it made my heart swell to see my daughter so in love with these characters, so excited to see them come to life on the screen.

Yep. I’ve been a total couch potato lately, but it’s been a beautiful thing. So, I’m backlogged on reviews and I have ten thousand books to finish. I’ll get there soon, I promise.

I hope thus far you’ve had a very happy new year!

Favorite Books of 2013

Well hellooooo there. Long time, no chat. Sorry. Things have been crazy here what with the holidays, and the whole family being on Christmas vacation, and the one awesome day I spent with the stomach flu (which sucked, but led me to discover my new favorite TV show, Once Upon a Time. Thank you Netflix). Whew. Crazy times.

We are long overdue for a list, and of course, I felt it was appropriate to tell you my favorite books I’ve read this year. Now, I have to be honest, this was a tough reading year for me. I fell in love with fewer books, but never fear, the ones I did like I fell quite hard for. Hopefully, you find some books here you loved too or, even better, hopefully you find some titles to add to your TBR list for 2014.

 

The Stand Alones (or first book in a series)

E&PEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell- You’re seeing it on lists everywhere for a reason. Read it. Fall in love with it.

 

My Life Next DoorMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick- I love a good love story. There. Said it. Done.

 

If You Find MeIf You Find Me by Emily Murdoch- Beautifully written, stark and heartbreaking at times, but so worth the read.

 

GiverThe Giver by Lois Lowry- I waited far too long to read this. Thank goodness my daughter convinced me to go for it.

 

sea of tranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay- Beautiful. Just absolutely beautiful.

 

Book of Broken HeartsThe Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler- Get out your tissues. This book is near-perfect.

 

The Raven BoysThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater- I was late to the game here, but this book was phenomenal.

 

The Sequels

Unravel MeUnravel Me ( Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi- Do I have to keep saying it? Chapter 62.

 

Siege and StormSiege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo- Fantatstic sequel. Totally excellent.

 

AllegiantAllegiant ( Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth- Broke. My. Heart.

 

Quintana of CharynQuintana of Charyn  (The Lumatere Chronicles #3) by Melina Marchetta- Saying goodbye to Finnikin, Isaboe, and Froi and their beloved story was hard indeed.

 

Honorable Mentions

Going VintageGoing Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

 

Happy New Year!

Pawn

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

PawnFor Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand. (Goodreads)

The Story:

Another dystopic? Yes. But hold on, this one is different.

Kitty Doe, a poor kid raised in a group home for orphans, has a distinct eye color. It’s not unlike Lila Hart’s, member of the all-powerful Hart family, niece to the Prime Minister.  It’s the Hart family that seeks Kitty out, making a deal to raise her from a Level III (trust me, it’s not a good life for Kitty down there on three) to a Level VII (which, basically only a member of the Harts can be). The catch? Why, she just has to do this one tiny thing they need of her (and, you know, it’s not like she really has a choice).  Fast forward. Kitty wakes up soap opera style to find that she has been surgically transformed to look identical to Lila Hart. Lila has been killed by…wait for it…her evil Prime Minister uncle, Daxton (the guy who called Kitty in to be her double). Now Kitty has to leave behind her old life, which wasn’t so great except for the fact that she had a boyfriend, Benji, who now thinks she’s dead, and a “mother” from the group home, both of whom she loves. Daxton and his creepy, evil mom want Kitty to play the part of Lila to a public who thinks she’s still very much alive.

And here’s where it gets quite sticky (in a good way). Apparently, Lila was killed because she was the leader of a rebellion. She went out and made all these speeches that went against the grain of everything her family and government stood for. Daxton wants Kitty to stop these silly rebellion shenanigans. And now Lila’s mother, Cecelia, and her fiance (yes, the one Kitty now has to marry), Knox, want to help Kitty continue Lila’s work. All Kitty wants to do is escape to a place far, far away. And she wants to do it without jeopardizing the safety of Benji, who, despite his unfortunate moniker, is just trying to go on with his life now that he believes Kitty to be dead.   He doesn’t know that Daxton and his mother are already watching him, threatening his very life if Kitty makes one false move.

My Thoughts:

I was totally sucked into this one. I thought the premise was fun and Kitty, as a heroine, is pretty kick ass. Even though she’s really not in the position to bargain, she finds a way to outsmart those around her. She’s very strong and bright and even though she has so much to lose–you know, her life, Benji’s life–she says what she thinks and she goes for what she believes. I loved her from the start.

Now, lets the discuss the Harts. They are one sick, dysfunctional family. Cecelia is someone Kitty isn’t sure she can trust. She is distraught over losing Lila and immediately seems to dislike Kitty. But on the other hand, she needs Kitty’s help. Sometimes she’s cold and other times she acts human, almost nurturing to Kitty. Either way, you get the feeling that she’d kill Kitty herself if necessary. And Daxton and his mother (whose name escapes me, I’m sorry), they’re pretty psycho, Daxton especially. I mean, to kill your own niece/granddaughter? That takes a set.

But then there’s Lennox Creed, otherwise known as Knox. Doesn’t his name just roll off the tongue (It’s better than Benji, I’m sorry)? I loved this character. He’s Lila’s fiance, but he’s pretty upfront about the fact that Lila didn’t want to marry him. Right away he seems like the most trustworthy guy in a house full of totally crazy, power-hungry people. I’m not saying he’s perfect, but I am saying he’s a good guy. And that Kitty should probably makeout with him sometime in the near future.

As far as Benji is concerned, I wasn’t a fan. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just lackluster, especially in comparison to Knox. He and Kitty already have an established relationship when the book begins, so we don’t get to watch her fall in love with him or see what makes them tick, but I think as a character, I just needed more from him. I wasn’t really on his team.

This story has good twists and turns and fun surprises. I really enjoyed it. In fact, I had a hard time putting it down!

Crush Intensity: 4.25/5 Read it!

Thank you to Harlequin Teen and Net Galley for sharing and e-galley of Pawn with me. I can’t wait for book 2!

 

NaNoWriMo- The End

nanowrimo2-660x963

Soooooo, how’s it going? Is everyone feeling better/worse/accomplished/like a big fat failure?  Yep, I’m glad it’s over too.

This last week of NaNoWriMo flew by. My husband and children were off and we were hanging out, doing family things, eating lots of food, making cookies. The one thing we weren’t doing is sitting around watching me write.
But that’s a-OK with me.

My final count for the month ended at about 10,400 words.  Yeah, it was way short of the NaNo stupid, ridiculous, INSANE goal, but I’m happy with the start I got. It’s a beginning (actually, it’s a bunch of scenes out of order, but we’ll ignore that, shall we?). Originally I’d hoped for 20K, or 15K. Now I’m satisfied with 10.

I hope that wherever you ended you’re pleased and inspired to keep going, keep writing, keep reading, keep setting goals to reach for.

 

NaNoWriMo- Two Weeks Down

nanowrimo2-660x963Soooo, we are at the halfway mark! How’s it going? Have you thrown in the towel yet? If not, I applaud you. This is right about where I gave up last year. I’ve since continued last year’s story and made great progress, but it was sucking the joy from me to try to get 50,000 words out in thirty days last year. Wasn’t happening. I had to stop. I’d have all these ideas and images flying through my head when I was out doing errands or someplace where writing it down was not an option, and then I’d get to my computer and stare at it in silence. The words refused to come.

This year, as I mentioned last week, I’m taking a different approach. I’m writing. I’m not stressing. If the words fail me (because it’s the word’s fault and not my brain’s, right?), I move on to the story I was working on before NaNoWriMo began, and then, of course, I read. Reading inspires me. It takes me away, makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me want to have twenty-five first kisses with my husband (who was, in fact, my first kiss way, way back in high school, late bloomer that I was).

This week, I’ve only written about 700 more words than last week. Yikes, I know.  To be fair, this happened:

And then, OBVIOUSLY, I became obsessed with this:

Four

Because…ZAZOW.

So, despite the word count, it’s still been a good week. And as I write this, there’s still another night to get some typing in so that at the time this posts, I could actually have thousands more words. Could happen. Yep.

Good luck to you in your writing adventures (or as you sit and giggle about mine. Don’t worry, I do it too). Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up! Every word you write–even if it’s nowhere near 50,000 words for the month–is one word more than you had before this began.

 

The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie St

Dream TheivesNow that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…(Goodreads)

This book is the sequel to the fabulous, fantastic, awesomely rad (oh, I went 80’s on you. Yeah), The Raven BoysThis is a tough book to review without getting super-spoilery though, so I’m going to keep the chatter to a minimum.

What an incredible world Stiefvater has created here, balancing between the normal (Swoony boys! Crushes! Embarrassing family!) with the outright crazy (I’m still not entirely sure what a let line is. There. I said it), supported by amazing characters, full of pain and depth, surprisingly real even though they’re living through experiences you and I never will. And reading this I felt so absorbed, so completely immersed, I never wanted it to end.

In this book there is a much greater focus on Ronan, a character who was deeply mysterious in book one. Ronan has an incredible power barely hinted at in the last book. Do you remember it? Spoiler alert: he can pull things from his dreams. It’s a strange gift that can be viewed as both a blessing and a curse, both exhilarating and terrifying, an amazing ability but it’s partnered with other terrifying issues (creepy bird men monsters that try to kill him. Word to the wise: The word creepy doesn’t even do them justice). There’s alot going on with the boys and Blue individually, the struggles they have, the lots they’ve each been given in life, and yet they all intersect, each person a unique part of the whole. I still felt for Adam, I ached for Noah, and I crushed on Gansey. But the star of the show by far here was Ronan.

As always, Stiefvater’s prose is gorgeous, lush and somewhat dark. This is the perfect sequel, one that pushes us deeper into this incredibly strange world, moves the story forward but still totally and completely leaves you hanging in the end. I cannot wait for the next book.

Crush Intensity: 4.5/5 This book was truly awesome. I love this series. I love the characters.

Thank you to Net Galley and Scholastic for sharing an e-galley with me in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

NaNoWriMo- One Week In

nanowrimo2-660x963I didn’t post about NaNoWriMo on November 1 because it was my birthday. Or rather, it was my blog’s birthday. But yes, as in years past, on November 1, I started NaNoWriMo along with every other glutton for punishment writerly person out there.

Of course, the debate rages on: Is Nano a healthy exercise or does it kill the soul? (I am on both sides of the argument at different times in November, obviously because at the beginning I’m psyched, I’m ready to roll and then by the third week I’ve usually decided Nano is an instrument of the devil, created only for people far more talented than I. Or me. Whatever). Is it about free-writing without edits or should we be more concerned with quality? Do people actually write good novels in a month? I hear Anna and the French Kiss was a Nano story, so at the very least, good ones can start there, right? But in my experience, I’ve found that I start out all excited and peppy and then somewhere in the middle I lose steam. I work on other stories. I get nowhere near 50,000 words (though I have complete WIPs with more), I complain like crazy and then I vow never to do it again. Like, ever.

But my girls love Nano. In fact, I wish Nano for Grown Ups was a little more like YWPNaNoWriMo, where you can set your own goal. My kids always hit their goal (and we set them high and often increase them throughout the month).  And I see them get excited and inspired and then I get all sucked in again. Because that’s what writing is about. Being inspired. Putting it on paper. The thrill of taking that crazy jumble in your head and making some sense out of it.

So in the first seven days, November 1- November 8, I’ve written 5,000 ish words. To be fair, I’ve only taken an hour or two over the course of maybe three days to do it, and yeah, that number is still super-sucky, but you know what? I’m not going to judge myself this year. I’m going to throw down all those parts that have been in my head for the last few weeks. I’m going to put the puzzle pieces on the table and stop worrying about how they’ll all fit together and just write it. Am I going to hit 50,000 this month? Negatory. I’m not even going to try. But I’m aiming to get a good start on a new story. Whatever I have on November 30th is more than I had on October 31st.

We’ll see how the next week goes.