Thursday, January 31, 2013

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Review

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, # 2)
Photo from Goodreads
Title:Beautiful Darkness
Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Published: October 12th, 2010 by Little, Brown and Company

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Fiona's Grade: B- 
I have some mixed feelings over this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed it- it was a nice read away from school work.  On the other hand, some of it reminded me of New Moon, which I did not care for. (In short the whole mythical person goes away against there will part accounted for most of that. Though it was made to look as if Lena had no choice. Then she did. Then the reader understood why.)

One thing I really liked about the book was the fact that Ethan was no longer a Mortal stumbling around in a mythical world. He was given a purpose in "The Order of Things" (actual quote in the book). It made his motives more complex throughout the novel, rather than just "I gotta get Lena back" although it was still one of his driving forces. I also really liked the new character, Liv. I think it will be interesting to see if/how she is incorporated into futures books, though I think her primary purpose (of making Lena jealous) is done.

I really didn't like (although after doing some soul searching, I do understand better) was Lena's angst. Angst, angst everywhere. It was understandable towards the beginning but after awhile it just got to be too much. And though I now understand why, it is still a little irksome.

Once again, I didn't really see the romance between Ethan and Lena. I think the authors are telling us rather than showing us this, because after all, a Mortal and a Caster can never be together (physically, a mortal will die.) So, I guess it's some sort of forbidden romance.

Overall, if you enjoyed Beautiful Creatures, you will probably enjoy this. It didn't go crazy off in some other direction, although there were a few twists you probably won't be expecting, which I for one enjoyed. The lower grade than the first is because Lena's angst really started to grate on my nerves, but once I got past that, it was very enjoyable. I do plan to read Beautiful Chaos, but it may take me awhile because the books in this series are not a short read.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme run by The Broke and the BookishEvery week, there is a new topic and you make a list based on that topic. This week's topic is "Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever". I usually don't find characters very frustrating so this may be another difficult list. Let's get started! 

1. Scarlett from Gone With the Wind

Oh Scarlett. You are so annoying and selfish. But yet you triumph in hard times because of your selfishness. But you're ungrateful and not very likable at all. 

2. Tris in Insurgent

I really enjoyed Insurgent, but Tris's "save-all-the-people" attitude got annoying sometimes. (I'm sure there's a better way to phrase that.) Similar to what Harry suffered in The Order of the Phoenix. Angst, angst everywhere. 

3. Lena in Beautiful Darkness
So I am reading this right now, and OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO ANNOYED! She is just doing so much stupid stuff, and it upsets me. It's vaguely reminding me of New Moon, except Ethan is being proactive. But hopefully the reason for Lena being so annoying will be explained at the end of this book. Note: I finished it, and while I am still annoyed by Lena's angst, I do have a better understanding of it. 

4. Ky in Matched
As you are probably aware, I didn't really care for Matched. And here is the reason why: Ky is the typical guy with a troubled past, even though the past is different because it is set in a dystopian society. I just found him really annoying during his and Cassia's whole "falling-in-love" section. 

5. Jessica Darling in Sloppy Firsts
Don't get me wrong- Sloppy Firsts was great! However, I found Jessica really annoying for the first half of the book. She was an angsty teenager. Thankfully, she improved and has improved as I have progressed with the series. 

6. Andi in Revolution 
I'm beginning to see a pattern here... Andi annoyed me for a bit because of her angst, but at least she had good reason for it. Revolution general is kinda an interesting read. 

7. Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey
Catherine isn't so much frustrating as she is naive. You really just feel bad for her as you read the book, mumbling to yourself, "Oh, Catherine..."

8. Aislinn in Wicked Lovely
I did not enjoy this book, which may be part of the reason I found the main character so annoying. The world building was done well, but I didn't like any of the chracters. They were all dull. 

9. Katniss in Mockingjay
I know I'm not the only one who was a little annoyed with her in the last book of the series. She and Tris (#2) have the whole "save-all-the-people" problem. (still must be a better way to phrase that). 

10. Mia in The Princess Diaries series
I can't remember in what book (it's been awhile since I read all of them) but Mia did annoy me in some of the books during her sophomore year, I think. Which is understandable, because sophomore year of high school is difficult for all of us. 

Those are my most frustrating characters. I am sure there are others I am forgetting. 

What are your most frustrating characters? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Appreciation Post

Hey, everyone! Today, in 1813, a novel written by "A Lady" called Pride and Prejudice was published by Thomas Egerton of London.  This novel would go onto be Jane Austen's most successful novel (to say the least) and one of the most successful English novels of all time.


Personally, I have loved Jane Austen since I first read P&P in seventh grade. I think it really molded by reading tastes fro then on out.  If you haven't read this book yet, today is a great day to start it. it's timeless for a reason! 

If you're not the reading type (or simply don't have time), I have a few adaptions to recommend you! 

Firstly, you could watch the Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley as Lizzie Bennet. 

Or you could watch the BBC miniseries adaptation with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. 

Or you can start The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is a modern take on the novel, a web series on Youtube. It's still running, so you would get your Austen fix every week! 

Another reason this novel is so timeless are the quotes! I love quotes and this book has some great ones! 

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man  in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. you must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymous  A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” 

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.

Also, check out some of these awesome covers! I love seeing fun covers of older books, like P&P. 
Pride and Prejudice
From Penguin. I love Penguin covers!
Pride and Prejudice
Random House UK
Pride and Prejudice
And one from B&N. Love the simplicity!
Pride and Prejudice
And another from Penguin
So in short, you should definitely read Pride and Prejudice because not only is it a good story, but it is also timeless. 

Have you read P&P? Did you love it? Would you marry Mr. Darcy? Let me know in the comments! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lock and Key Book Review

Lock and Key
Photo from Goodreads 
Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen 
Publisher: Speak (An Imprint of the Penguin Group) April 22nd, 2008

Plot Summary from Goodreads
Ruby, where is your mother?
Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.
That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?
Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again
Fiona's Grade: A-
Confession: I didn't like Sarah Dessen books for a long time. No real reason why; I just didn't think her books were for me. I attempted several of her books multiple time with only ever finishing one. Until, I went to my library and decided I would give it one more shot. And I am certainly glad I did.
Lock and Key at its core is a book about the idea of family. Ruby has always been a "one woman operation" and just because her mother has disappeared and she is living with her sister whom she hasn't talked to in years doesn't change anything.
This is a less-plot driven book and more of a character driven book. There isn't a character that makes you think "Oh this is a stereotypical _______." They are all complex, especially our protagonist Ruby. We get to look into her past a little and get inside her head and although she does do things we might find stupid, it somewhat makes since to her. And in the end she does the right thing. 
What I found interesting in this book is that the plot center in this book changes in an interesting way. We go from being a Ruby-centered story- her life and her problems- to being centered around another character and their life and their problems- and in the end, the climax of this book is actually related to them and not Ruby. This is important to notice because it shows that Ruby has gone from being a "one woman operation" to genuinely caring and being concerned about others that she loves. By the end of the novel she has also learned the importance of asking for help. 
Overall, if you enjoy great stories about the idea of family and learning just what that word means, this is a book for you. I'll leave you with this quote.
"Family isn't something that's supposed to be static or set. People marry in, divorce out. They're born. they die. It's always evolving, turning into something else. Even  that picture of Jamie's family was only the true representation for that one day. By the next, something had probably changed. It had to." p. 287.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Settings I'd Like to See More

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme run by The Broke and the BookishEvery week, there is a new topic and you make a list based on that topic. This week's topic is "Top Ten Settings I'd Like to See More". Let's get started! 

1. Paris
I really enjoy books set in Paris. I don't know if it's because they are romances most of the time or what. But I enjoy them. 

2. London
I also really enjoy books set in London. Probably for the same reason I enjoy books in Paris. 

3. The American South
This is especially true for paranormal books. I enjoy the haunting feeling of books set in the American South. This was the primary reason I liked Beautiful Creatures. 

4. Kansas City
I don't think I've ever read a book set in Kansas City. I think it's doable and could be interesting. 

5. A paranormal/fantastical world not too different from our own
Think like Harry Potter. A whole paranormal universe connected to the one we live in, but because we're mortals, we don't realize it. Same goes for fantasy. My boyfriend refers to this as "Paranormal America". 

6. Boarding School
I really enjoy boarding school books, especially if they have elements of #5 in them too. 

7. 19th Century historical fiction
The 19th Century is really interesting in terms of technological and social revolutions.l I really enjoy fiction set in that time, especially if there is some sort of interesting twist (paranormal, steampunk, etc.) 

8. Road trips
I like road trips novels because they are set all over the place! I like the variety of places that one can go in a road trip novel. The possibilities are endless! 

I can only think of eight settings that I really enjoy and would like to see more of. There are settings I really enjoy, but setting isn't necessarily something I prioritize. It's more like, "Oh this book is set this place, I'll have to check it out." 

What settings do you like? What settings do you hate? Let me know in the comments. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)
Photo from Goodreads 

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Authors: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company- December 1st, 2009 
Plot Summary from Goodreads
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything

Fiona's Grade: B 

When this book first came out, I started it, but didn't really care for it so I stopped reading it after only a couple of pages. However, when I heard a movie was coming out, I decided I should pick it up and give it another try. And I actually really enjoyed it. 

When I started it, I really enjoyed the Southern small town aspect of it- how they were living in the past. Those are the kind of stories that interest me. The first subplot with the Civil War Era soldier was really interesting to me for that reason. Not so much the magical stuff until the second half of the book. Probably not even the second half, more like the last quarter. I also enjoyed all the references int he book, particularly when they were quoting all sorts of people at the meeting halfway through the book. 

My one thing I didn't really get about this book was the whole romance aspect. I just didn't see it. What I saw is that Ethan was an open-minded human being, unlike the rest of Gatlin and was interested in making a new friend- even if that new friend was a little odd. Also, they went from being kinda friends to being in love and refusing to admit it to being in love and admitting it. That just seemed really rushed to me. 

The characters were okay. When I picked up the book the first time, I thought Ethan was a girl. I didn't make that mistake the second time around. Truthfully, all the characters were stereotypical. No one surprised me. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book for the two plots in  its massive page number. If you like paranormal novels, this is one for you. It was a little dull at time, but fortunately, I could put it down and pick it up at my leisure. When I looked on Goodreads, it had some truly awful reviews; I don't think it is that bad. Sure it has some things that could be fixed (I even noticed a typo at one point), but it's a debut novel. I plan to check it out but don't know whether or not I will continue with the series. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2013 Debuts

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme run by The Broke and the BookishEvery week, there is a new topic and you make a list based on that topic. This week's topic is "Top Ten 2013 Debuts I'm Looking Forward To" This actually took some research because I am generally not good about keeping up with new releases and debuts- something I hope to be better about this year. 

1. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd Jan. 29th. 

I mentioned this book in my new releases for January post. It looks really interesting and I'm excited to see how it will turn out. 

2. Pivot Point by Kasie West Feb. 12th 

What if you could see both the outcomes to any choice you make? As someone who is a constant planner/worrier, I find this concept fascinating. 

3. Dualed by Elsie Chapman Feb. 26th 

In order to survive, you have to destroy your alternate- a genetic copy of yourself. Looks super action-packed. 

4. The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett Mar. 5th 

This also looks really good. I really enjoy books about enchanted boarding schools. 

5. The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller May 7th 2013

This is the exact opposite of what you would expect from a typical YA novel. A popular girl who is a nerd deep down. I'm excited to see how the author plays this. 

6. Triangles by Kimberly Ann Miller June 18th 2013

This looks like a fun summer read with a dark place. It takes place on a cruise ship and she ends up living a ton of alternate realities. 

7. Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor July 30th

This looks like a fun girly read with a dark twist.  

8. Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger Feb. 5th
This isn't a debut novel; however, it is her first YA novel so that is kinda the same thing. Summary reminds me of Gallagher Girls, so I am really excited to read  it.  

9. Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed Jan. 22nd
This is another not debut but first YA novel. This mystery looks really appealing and I'm excited to read it. 

10. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger March 5th
This story looks really unique and I'm excited to read it! 

These are the debuts/first YA novels I'm looking forward to in 2013. What books are you looking forward to? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Half-Priced Books Book Haul

Book hauls are usually a very rare thing for me since 99% of the time I have a book I'm reading it comes from the library. However, I do enjoy going to bookstores and buying books, my favorite being Half-Priced books. So when my parents offered to take me to HPB yesterday, I grabbed my gift card I got for Christmas and off we went!

Even though I frequent this store, I sometimes don't buy books because either they don't have a great deal or I just don't see something I want. However, this time was not one of those times.

Books from HPB. Sorry for poor quality image
Here's the books I got:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I mentioned Just One Day in my January new releases, so I thought while I'm waiting to read that, I could read some of her other books. 

Fallen by Lauren Kate A friend of mine recommended this to me. I'm unsure whether it is my type of book, but it was on clearance so I figured if all else failed, I could sell it back. 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray I really enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty, and have been wanting to read more of her work. It's between this and The Diviners on what I will read next by her (Both look really good!) 

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield I checked this out last semester  and got about halfway through it before I had to put it down because of school. I'm hoping to pick it up again soon! 

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder. I have read and loved her Poison Study series and this book is a spin off of that. I'm really looking forward to getting back into that world. 

What books did you get this week? Did you go to Half-Priced Books? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Releases: January

Hey everyone! I thought I would start doing a monthly post where I list all the books I am looking forward to this month! I realize this one is a little late but here we go! Note: This is going to include books that were already released in January.

Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney Jan. 8th 
Little anecdote: In 7th grade, I had a reading class and as a class we read The Face on the Milk Carton. I was sick one day so I asked my mom to get this book from the library for me so I could finish it. I then read the rest of the series and I am excited to see how it concludes. 

Just One Day by Gayle Forman Jan. 8th 
I wasn't excited for this book because I haven't read any Gayle Forman, but then I read the summary and some reviews and realized that it takes place in Paris and may actually be something I would really like.

The Fault in Our Stars: Collector's Edition by John Green Jan. 14th
TFIOS came out last year, and B&N is releasing a collector's edition with an extensive Q&A from John Green and all new endpaper art. I don't want to buy this as much as I just want to look at it.  

 Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis Jan. 15th 
Oh my goodness I am so excited! I read the first two of this series over the summer and I am excited to see how the series will conclude!

The Murder Notebooks: Dead Time (Murder Notebooks #1) by Anne Cassidy Jan. 15th
This is a murder mystery story that looks really interesting. I plan on checking it out. 

The Archived (The Archived #1by Victoria Schwab Jan. 22nd
This is a new series coming out in 2013 and I'm really excited for it. The idea of the dead resting on shelves sounds really interesting and it looks like it could be a good series. 

Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers (Kiki Strike #3) by Kirsten Miller Jan. 22nd
Even though this a new release of a series I haven't read, I was intrigued by the cover so I read the synopsis. It looks really interesting so I may have to pick up this series soon. 

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd Jan. 29th
This is another book I've seen a lot of stuff about and it looks really creepy and terrifying which excites me! 

These are all the books I'm excited fore this month! Mind you, they may not get read until later this year, but I am still very excited! What books are you looking forward to in  January? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme run by The Broke and the BookishEvery week, there is a new topic and you make a list based on that topic. This week's topic is the "Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013".  I actually did a similar post (though less detailed) on Sunday, so you can check that out too if you want.  Let's get started! 

1. Read 50 books in 2013.
I've done this the last couple years, except last year I tried to read 75 and failed. I feel like 50 is a good target number. 

2. Blog more consistently.
As you might of noticed, I only really make time for blogging during breaks in my semester. I feel like I can work on this if I schedule more posts.

3. Review More
I read a lot, but I don't review a lot. Either because I have nothing to say or by the time I sit down to review the book, I've forgotten what I wanted to say. 

4. Interact with my subscribers more
I really want to get to know all of you better, so I'm looking for ways to work on that.

5. Post more than Top Ten Tuesdays and Reviews
I have a couple book-related posts in the works, and I think they could be interesting. 

6. Read more variety.
This past December, I fell into a reading slump because I was tired of reading what I thought was less-than-great YA and didn't know how to make the change. I would love to read more adult literary fiction and expand my reading horizons. 

7. Attend a bookish event
I'm not quite sure how this would go about because nothing really comes to KC and I really can't afford to go anywhere most of the time. But this is something I would really like to do. 

8. Read more books I own.
I have a serious problem with reading books I own as opposed to books I have checked out from the library probably because I feel the time crunch that can be associated with library books whereas I have all the time in the world to read books I own. 

9. Participate in a readathon. 
I would love to participate in a readathon, but they always just randomly appear  and I don't have time to participate. So I shall make the time. 

10. Buy more books.
I love libraries; they are where I get most of the books I read and I am never going to stop supporting them. That being said, I would like to build my own personal collection of books. But first, I need to invest in a new book shelf. 

Those are my bookish goals for 2013. As you can see, I have a lot of work to do. Do share any of these goals with me? What are your goals for 2013? 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Blogging New Year's Resolutions

So I am a little late on this but better late then never! I don't generally like doing New Year's Resolutions because I am a believer in constant change, but I thought I would share the changes I would like to make with my blogging habits.

1. Blog more consistently 
Yes, I am busy nine months out of the year with school stuff. But I am still reading for the most part. Or at least I am trying to read throughout those nine months. But I really get caught up with my reading challenges over breaks. Let's say this averages out to about one book a week (and it usually does because I read about 50 books in one year). This means I can post at least one review every other week, since I have trouble reviewing some books. And so I don't forget I can write them in advance and queue them up Which bring me to my next change.

2. Review more books
Some books I find that I have nothing interesting or intelligent to say about them. Or I have trouble figuring out exactly what I want to say. I feel like I can work on this. I am going to work on this.

3. Interact more with my subscribers.
There are around 10 of you and I would like to get to know all of you better.

What are your blogging resolutions?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched, #1)
Photo from Goodreads
Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile November 30th, 2010
Plot Summary from Goodreads
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow

Fiona's Grade: B- because "Eh..." 

So I really liked the first half of Matched but I was really upset for the second half.

This books doesn't feel like it's going much of anywhere during the first half and I was really enjoying it. The love triangle was going smoothly and I was actually enjoying this was book.

Then for the second half, if you'll pardon my language, all hell breaks lose.

The love triangle becomes rather one sided and everything just kinda escalates. There are only a couple hints in the first half as to what happens in the last half and I was just really upset by the end of it. I don't know if I'm going to read the second one simply because I feel like Crossed will be more of the second half than the first half and I can only yell, "I don't like this!" so many times at a book before I am really upset.

Anyway, the book is written really well even if there seem to be some holes in the plot. This book is written poetically and it is not a bad book. I was just a little upset with the love triangle at a couple points.

I did enjoy the twist at the end. It can make me understand Cassia's choices in some ways. In other ways I cannot understand why she does what she does. The back story of Ky was very interesting. I particularly enjoyed seeing her parents relationship as they were both conflicted at points throughout the book. I think that is one thing this book did really well. It showed that everyone was questioning whether the Society's choice was the right choice and I think that's more realistic in a dystopian novel.

Overall, I only somewhat liked this book and probably won't be reading the next one.