Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Hard Books

What hard books have you read? That's the question today over at The Broke and the Bookish. I've decided to divide my hard book list into two subjects, hard because it's difficult to read and/or understand and hard because the subject is a difficult one.

Five Hard to Read Books
1. One Hundred Years of Solitude
2. Love in the Time of Cholera
3. Bleak House
4. Possession, A Romance
5. The Way We Live Now

Five Six Hard Subject Books
1. Rose Under Fire
2. Wintergirls
3. Twisted
4. Blindness
5. Thirteen Reasons Why
6. Room

Yeah, so basically Gabriel Garcia Marquez books, Laurie Halse Anderson books, big fat classics, and books about the Holocaust or WWII POWs! :)

What would you put on your list? Write a post and link it up today!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review Discussion: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Book: The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Genre: MG Fantasy
Rating: ★★☆ ☆ ☆
For: Review

From: Received for free from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. 

Short Synopsis: Call is a magician but he needs to pass the tests that allow him to get into magic school. (These tests are called the Iron Trials.) His dad is adamant that he fail, because if he ends up going to this school it will be BAD BAD BAD. But Call does not know why. All he knows is that his dad has told him that magicians killed his mom and that they want nothing but to do bad things to people. Despite his best efforts, Call passes and ends up at the school being tutored by the best teacher there. Adventures ensue and he, along with his new found friends, learn some deep and dark hidden secrets.

My Response: Hmmm... sadly, a little on the boring side for me and I struggled to get through it. All the description of the actual physical school... boring. All the back history of the magicians... boring. I enjoyed the characters and their interaction, but it seemed a small part of the story. I enjoyed the bit of mystery that Call needed to find out, but only a little. It wasn't compelling to me. I'm wondering if younger kids will like this one? Maybe. Maybe it will be too boring for them too? And the whole thing is much too Harry Potter-ish for comfort.

Bottom Line: It was okay in parts, but in the end I was disappointed.

Let's Talk About: Do you think all magic school books from now on will be compared to Harry Potter? Is that fair? Can no one write about a magic school ever again? I think it's okay if you make it very unique and different from Harry Potter. But so good if you make so very similar. What do you think?

Other Reviews:

The book is not a fast read. Especially not for a MG book. It’s actually quite slow to get started. By the end, though, it was kinda hard to put down. I wanted to keep reading, but didn’t find I had to. From Proud Book Nerd

Fans of Harry Potter will enjoy both the differences and similarities here, though readers of Percy Jackson will also find themselves right at home. From Walking Brain Cells

The Iron Trial has a fun story line with some unexpected twists and the characters are fun, but it really let me down when it came to world-building. From A Word of Reviews

The Magisterium series is not about to usurp Harry Potter in my heart. I truly loved reading it, but until the series continues I can’t say whether this story will become important to me or not. From Bibliomantics

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Currently: Pumpkins and Kitties

(as written on Saturday evening)

My brother's pumpkin patch.
We bought a few at his Harvest Party.

Listening: to my Imagine Dragons station on Pandora. I'm sort of in the mood to blast something, but it's kinda late.

Watching: watched a few season premieres this week. Parenthood and Survivor. Caught up on Outlander. Need to still watch the new Amazing Race, and tomorrow hopefully we'll see Once Upon a Time. Ah, TV is back! Now to keep up on it all!

Reading: I just finished Cruel Beauty. Interesting book. Not sure how to review this one! Maybe I'll finish The Letters this weekend. It's a tiny book, but has been put on the back burner and is taking me forever to finish.

Writing: Sigh. I'm so frustrated. I want to do this thing so bad, but I'm constantly second guessing myself. Constantly. I must get over that somehow. I have a new writing space though! So now I HAVE to keep writing stuff! I will show you pictures soon, I have a couple more things to add to it and then... pictures!

Blogging: Bloggiesta went well. I had fun running things, but I didn't end up with much time to actually work on my own blog. I don't know what's up with blogging these days, but something is off for me. Ugh.

Eating: Two plus months tracking what I eat and not one pound lost. I need to fit in the exercising more, but I've been doing it more than I was, so there's that. And still... nothing. I want to give up.

Crafting: I should delete this category...

Mika the new kitty!

  • We got a kitten! To kill mice. And to inspire stories. And to cuddle while reading. And to make us crazy I think too. It's been 2 1/2 years since our other cat died. I guess it was time to embark on the journey with another one. We named her Mika after the French singer we've been enjoying of late. But I still tend to just call her Kitty.
  • Went to see Laini Taylor today. She who authored the most awesome trilogy that starts with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I loved loved loved the writing in these books and what do you know... she struggles! She agonizes! She stresses! She takes days on one paragraph! And here I just thought it poured out of her! (I'm sure it still does more often than not. I mean... have you READ her stuff?) Anyway, I wanted to fangirl a little but I maintained composure. I think. Perhaps I'll write more on what she had to say later, if anyone is interested.
  • Wow, but it rained today! Loved it!
  • I think I've told you everything else that's been going on around here.
Laini Taylor. She really does have pink hair. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review Discussion: All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

Book: All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Beehive Awards
From: The Library

Short Synopsis: Judith was abducted when she was 14 years old. And now, two years later, she's come back.. a changed girl. But then she seeks out her abductor in order to save her Puritan village. She doesn't expect that this act will throw suspicion onto the boy she's loved her whole life.

My Response: This is the first book I've read as part of the Beehive Book Award project. (See my explanation here.)  I was so happy to get my hands on it and finally read it. And once I started, I could NOT put it down. Except for those moments where I started getting nervous for the characters and I had to stop to breathe and gear up to read what I knew. . .felt. . . thought. . . was coming next! Ah, I love books like that were you are scared and nervous and anxious for the characters and you are DYING for certain things to happen and certain things to NOT happen. So good. I loved it. It has some disturbing things and deals with a pretty painful subject, but it's ultimately a beautiful love story that will have you swooning.

I also loved that it was written in second person. I mean, it was also first person as the girl is narrating and is the "I." But she is talking to the boy she loves, Lucas. So everything is "you this and you that". It was so well done and so different and the perfect way to tell this story.

Bottom Line: Loved loved loved it! I'm pretty sure this book will be on my top ten year end list.

Let's Talk About: The second person point of view. Do like it when authors shake up the whole point of view thing? What other second person books have you read that were done really well? Does it worry you that this book is in the second person and might keep you away from it? (Please, I hope not!!)

Other Reviews:

It’s a dark story but within the intensity comes a beauty that you cannot help but want to see shine through. From Good Books and Good Wine

I loved this one. I thought the narrative was beautiful, haunting, memorable. The book was not what I expected at all, based on the cover. It was so much better. From Becky's Book Reviews

Is it a mystery? Yeah, kind of. Does it have way more going on? Definitely WAY more going on. From Lisa Likes Books

All the Truth That's In Me truly hit all the right notes, at least in my book. Not only did it take a myriad of challenging qualities (see above) and make them work, but it also took the essentials I look for in a good story - characters with depth, thriller plot lines, and emotional undertones - and excelled in those areas as well. From Ivy Book Binding

This story is masterfully constructed full of suspense and twists along the way, which all leads to a chilling conclusion that will stir many emotions. From Book Nerd Reviews

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Book: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Genre: YA Romance
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun
From: Bought at Amazon

Short Synopsis: The third in the trilogy, yet a story all on its own, we have Isla who lives in New York, and goes to school in Paris (the same on as Anna, though they weren't really friends.) She has had a crush on Josh forever and he finally takes notice of her when they go head back to school. (Josh IS friends with St. Clair from the first book.) So this is their ups and downs, their back and forths... their romance. Isla can't believe he really likes her, after all this time, and this feeling could make or break their relationship.

My Response: It's awesome to read a book set in Paris after having been there. Barcelona too for that matter. I need to see all the cities so I can feel this with every book! :)  I need to re-read Anna that's for sure! I liked these two characters, though Isla made me crazy at times. Josh seems like a pretty genuine guy, which is the best. The best part was the end when all the characters from all the books got together. How fun that was! Everyone always talks about... so which couple was your favorite? I still stick by Lola and Cricket I think, just because I fell hard for Cricket. I need to re-read that one too just to see if I still feel that way. Anyway....

Bottom Line: Cute, fun and fluffy. You just can't help but get caught up with these books and these characters.

Let's Talk About: Why does everyone love these three books so so much? Can you put your finger on it? I think it's because they are real,  and Stephanie Perkins can capture feelings so well. They settings are a big part of these books too. I think all three stories are fun and exciting romances. A new hot exotic guy, the boy next door you never noticed, and a guy you had a crush on for three years. Hmmm... all awesome fun scenarios, agreed? Anyway, what do you think? Why are these books so well loved?

Other Reviews:

Isla and Josh are, by far, my favorite couple in this entire series. Not that I didn’t love Anna and St. Claire and Lola and Crickett, but there was just something uniquely special about Isla and Josh. From YA Reads

Perkins reminds me of why I fell in love with her writing in the first place. Within the first chapter, I knew. From A Backward Story

I had so much fun reading this book and would recommend it to any fan of YA contemporary. From Chachic's Book Nook

Josh has made me rethink my stance of being on Team Cricket. From Book Nerd Reviews

Isla and the Happily Ever After is such a vibrant and true portrayal of falling in love and how dizzying, but confusing and painful it is. It made my heart ache in all possible ways. From So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR (Possible Beehive Books)

Here in Utah we have the Beehive Book Awards, which I've talked a bit about before, And this year I get to help read and review and rate a bunch of books that have been suggested for this award. I think from this list they come up with the actual list of nominees, and then from THAT list... the reading public reads and votes.

Here's what it actually says on the site: "The award winning book in each category is chosen by the children and students of Utah who read ten to twelve books and vote on their favorite. The title with the highest percentage of votes from the children wins the award. In order to prepare the lists of the ten to twelve books members of CLAU create a long list of books which though a committee process is then whittled down to the top twelve. "

Yes! I get to help with the whittling! I've already read a bunch from this list, but I hope to read a bunch more. So I thought I'd list ten from this list that I hope to read by the end of this year. Please let me know if you've read any and if you loved them or not.

1. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
2. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
3. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
4. West of the Moon by Margi Preus
5. Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy
6. Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
7. The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise
8. Love by the Morning Star by Laura Sullivan
9. All Our Yesterdays by C Terrill
10. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

I'm a little late to the Broke and Bookish party today, but if you want to see other Fall TBR lists, you can see the huge linky here!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

Movie: The Maze Runner
Genre: Drama
Starring: Dylan O'brien, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Rating: PG13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

Guys. I've been looking forward to this movie for so long! How fun was it to finally be going on Friday night? SO fun! We went to the IMAX and happened to pick the showtime that the author, James Dashner himself was going to introduce and do a little Q and A beforehand. Also, sign movie posters as it turned out. We were there early and in line when he showed up. He saw us (me and Toto) immediately and even though he was with a ton of people and there were a ton of people there in line, he came right over to us and said something... I can't remember what.... like "Hey, you guys came! Thanks for coming! This is going to be awesome!" And I said, "I'm so excited!" Yeah, it was a great exchange,but it was cool that he said hi and singled us out. It helped that we had just seen him at a signing a few weeks before, which helped him to remember that we've been stalking him for all these years.

All the boys

Anyway, so that was a great start the evening! We got our poster signed, found our seats and then eventually, he did come in and talk a bit and answered a few questions. Then the movie started... no previews or anything. And being in the IMAX? Well, you know I love it, like so so much. The sound that rattles your bones and seriously makes you feel like you are in the movie, just like the IMAX intro says ("watch a movie? Or be in one?")


The movie starts out with a bang with that awesome scary elevator ride. . . Thomas flying up up up and into the glade. Dylan O'brien did an amazing acting job and pretty much blew me away. I love love love him. The other boys were freaking amazing too.

I loved the look of The Glade. Just as I pictured it. And then, there was the maze. Wow, but it was cool. And creepy and scary. It's very own character for sure. The noises and the moaning and groaning it does? So cool. And all the running these guys do through it? Just what you'd expect with a movie called The Maze Runner!

The maze

If you haven't read the books.... this movie is about a kid who shows up at this place where he discovers he and bunch of other boys are trapped in the middle of a huge, massive maze. Some of the boys run the maze during the day and have been trying to figure a way out for years. They don't go at night because there are awful terrible monsters out there. When Thomas gets there, things start changing and either they'll all be dead soon or they'll get out.

It's crazy exciting and very intense. The music adds so much to it all and is wonderful. Everything was done so well and not at all cheesy as I sort of worried about.

Seriously guys, it was awesome.

So much so that we went again Saturday night with the rest of the family.  Not often that I'll see a movie twice on opening weekend.

Here's trailer if you've not yet seen it:

And here's a taste of the music, with lots of movie clips thrown in. If you are a fan of movie music, listen and tell me what you think. :)


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