Thursday, August 28, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday #13

Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.

This Week's Question: 

Tell us about a book character you’d trade places with.


I thought about this question for about thirty seconds before the lightbulb went off. If there is one character I would trade places with, it's Elena Gilbert. I'm probably cheating here because, while I started reading the first book, I didn't finish it. That being said, I am a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries TV show, so I feel like I'm at liberty to say I would trade with Elena. Let me explain myself...


Need I say more? Well, okay.


I'm guessing you get it. 


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(School) Book Review: Land of Lincoln by Andrew Ferguson


Title: Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America
Author: Andrew Ferguson
Publication Date: June 10, 2007
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Pages: 288
Add to Goodreads

Before he grew up and became one of Washington’s most respected reporters and editors, Andrew Ferguson was, of all things, a Lincoln buff — with the photos hung on his bedroom wall to prove it. Decades later, Ferguson’s latent buffdom is reignited. In Land of Lincoln , he embarks on a curiosity-fueled coast-to-coast journey through contemporary Lincoln Nation, encountering everything from hatred to adoration to opportunism and all manner of reaction in between. He attends a national conference of Lincoln impersonators; attends a leadership conference based on Lincoln’s “management style”; drags his family across the three-state-long and now defunct Lincoln Heritage Trail; and even manages to hold one of five original copies of the Gettysburg Address. Along the way he weaves in enough history to hook readers of presidential biographies and popular histories while providing the engaging voice and style of the best narrative journalism. This is an entertaining, unexpected, and big-hearted celebration of Lincoln and his enduring influence on the country he helped create.

Okay, head's up, guys: I don't really like non-fiction. Unless it's about Disney World. Or Walt Disney. Or any other Disney-related thing. Alas, I'm in school and I have to read books there. This was the first read of the semester and holy crap, being a senior in college is tough. This is the first time in the history of my school career that I had to read an entire book in under a week. What was I thinking?! But I did it. I even finished it on time.

Land of Lincoln is not a biography. It isn't even really about Lincoln. It's about the places that are about Abraham Lincoln. Throughout this book, Andrew Ferguson takes the reader on a journey around the different historical sites that Lincoln has inspired since his death. He interviews Lincoln enthusiasts and Lincoln "haters" alike, though it's clear which position he takes on the matter.

I feel like I did learn a lot of things I didn't know before about Abraham Lincoln (this is school, after all). For example, I didn't realize Lincoln was not a die-hard abolitionist from the beginning. I learned about some locations I'd enjoy visiting, like the temple in Hodgenville that contains the "symbolic" cabin of Abe's birth or the Disneyfied Lincoln Library and Museum*. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of enjoyment to be found in this book - at least not for me. There was a lot of focus on various Lincoln conventions - from Lincoln impersonators (but they don't like to be called that) to Lincoln leadership workshops (yep, that's a thing).

The last three chapters of Land of Lincoln were the best. Ferguson tells the story of his family's trip down the Lincoln Heritage Trail, which was actually a bit of fun. I enjoyed hearing from his kids and especially his daughter. I could totally identify with their dread on this long, historical trek. In the last chapter was a story of a concentration camp survivor who was inspired by Lincoln and was able to get to the tomb to pay his respects. I wish the book had contained more of these types of touching, personal accounts.

My biggest issue with this book: On page 257 of the hardback edition, Ferguson does the unthinkable. He spells Disney World, Disneyworld. This is unforgiveable. 

To be fair, I was the wrong audience for this book. Still, I had to read it and so here we are. It wasn't terrible and I've most definitely read worse books during my (very long) time in college. I'd most definitely recommend it to any Lincoln buff. In fact, I'm loaning it to my dad tomorrow.

*This museum looks epic. Unfortunately, it would seem that I am far less scholarly than the rest of my class because everyone else thinks it's dumbed down and cheesy. I think it's a fantastic way to get information to a new generation. 

Let's face it, a lot of people think museums are boring. I really believe that a lot of museums cater to a specific set of scholarly individuals and, while I enjoy learning, I am not one of them. I won't read everything on the walls, though I will walk around and try to look intelligent. 

As any Disney World junkie will tell you, the Disney company has a way of educating young people (and even not-so-young people) using unconventional methods. Universe of Energy teaches guests about, well, energy, while Spaceship Earth shows us the changes in technology since the time of the cavemen until the '80s, and The Hall of Presidents lets every average Joe hear from each of the presidents of the United States. 

Say what you will, this museum (and the Disney company) is onto something. 



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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #12: The Vault of Dreamers

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is: 


The Vault of Dreamers
by Caragh M. O'Brien
Publication Date: September 16, 2014

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

Holy crap. This book sounds amazing (I wish I was cool enough to say something ridiculous like "amazeballs," but such is life)! It's like, a young adult version of The Truman Show! Seriously, if you haven't seen The Truman Show, go watch it right now. I never read the Birthmarked trilogy, but this book sounds like something fresh and, well, awesome. September 16th can't get here fast enough!


***


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #8: TBR books I don't own yet


Today's Topic: 
 Top Ten Books I Really Want 
To Read But Don't Own Yet

With so many amazing books coming out in the next few months, my TBR shelf is overflowing. There are so many books that I really want to get my hands on! Not to mention those that have been out for awhile (maybe even years), but I haven't been able to purchase or haven't had time for... So here they are in order from newest to oldest (because I felt like I needed some kind of order).



Creed (November 2014)
When their car breaks down, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his brother Mike walk through a winter storm to take refuge in a nearby town called Purity Springs. When they arrive, the emergency sirens are blaring and the small farming town seems abandoned. With no other shelter, they spend the night in an empty house... (read more)


Afterworlds (September 2014)
Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… (read more)


After the End (May 2014)
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there... (read more)


Echoes of Balance (December 2013)
For Chloe Moraine, fighting wild bears– and the occasional vampire– is a better pastime than the tediousness of keeping the universe in balance. But balancing is the family business. It comes with being one of the last in the ancient line of Naimei... (read more)



The Program (April 2013)
Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate... (read more)

The Raft (August 2012)
Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight... (read more)

Trust (July 2012)
The most important event in human history takes place in the middle of nowhere. Perspectives are altered. Perceptions are changed. Nothing will ever be the same again. Is this a moment of deliverance for the human race, or the beginning of its end? Tom Winter thinks he knows, but if he's right, then seven billion other people are wrong... (read more)


Our Kingdom of Dust (May 2012)
Man-child Blaine McKinnon is brilliant, wealthy, and completely alone. After an emotional breakdown, Blaine starts a new life at the only place he was ever truly happy: Walt Disney World. But he soon finds that just below the surface of his childhood paradise lies a kingdom corrupted by drugs, violence, and deceit... (read more)


Jesus The Extraterrestrial: Origins (June 2011)
The year is 34 AD. While Jesus is taken to Calvary to be crucified, in the desert nearby a spaceship descends from the skies and the occupant approaches Joseph of Arimathaea and gives him a cylinder in which he is to collect and keep the blood of Jesus. Joseph believes that it is an angel of God, and does as he is told... (read more)

Mouseschawitz - My Summer Job of Concentrated Fun (March 2011)
Though set at Disney World, this collection is far from Disneyesque (as if the title wasn't a giveaway.) Mouseschawitz - My Summer Job of Concentrated Fun - is Part 1 of a short collection of essays from an ex theme park employee and the unbelievable feats she witnessed one summer... (read more)




Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish -  a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. Click here to get involved! 

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review and Movie Tie-in: Horns by Joe Hill

Title: Horns
Author: Joe Hill (Joseph King)
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge. . . . It's time the devil had his due. . . .

A couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business, watching The Next Great Baker, when a trailer for a new movie popped up on my Facebook feed. Harry Potter's face was there, so I obviously watched it. I was in awe of this trailer. The film looked like it would be completely amazing, so I decided to share it with my friends. That was when I was told that it was based on a book and that the book was (apparently) epic.

I went into Horns with very high expectations after seeing such an awesome trailer and hearing such great reviews for the source material. The story is about Ig, a guy who has been dealt a really crappy card (i.e. his girlfriend, Merrin, was murdered and everyone thinks he did it) and wakes up one morning with horns on his head. Shenanigans ensue. I was completely captivated by the first fourth of this book. Then, very suddenly, the true murderer is revealed and the book completely switches gears.

The next half of the book is a series of long and drawn out (um, hello, it's half the book) unnecessary flashbacks. The book literally jumps back to Ig as a fifteen year old and the reader is taken through his teen years with Merrin, how they met, fell in love, etc. Ig's best friend, Lee, is also put under the microscope and we learn all about his childhood including, but not limited to, the tom cat that used to meow from his back yard. It was about this time when I found out that Joe Hill was, in fact, the son of Stephen King. It was about this time when everything started to make sense.

This is a Stephen King book written by another hand. Everything about this book screams King. Don't get me wrong - I love some of Stephen King's books. That being said, he has a way of dragging things out to a ridiculous point and including tons of minute details like which way the grass was blowing at this time or that. While it came in at only 368 pages, Horns took me 10 days to read and I actually listened to the last several chapters on audiobook on a four hour drive. Otherwise it would have taken longer. But I digress...

Apart from learning about the childhood of each character, the flashback portions of the book detail the murder of Merrin and all the events leading up to it from multiple points of view. While I understand that all of these flashbacks were supposed to relay relevant information that could only be portrayed by the person who'd experienced it, it could have been done in a different, less grueling way.

Finally, the ending. I had a few problems with the ending. The first is that it's far too neat and tidy. I guess the surprise at the end was supposed to be sweet and gratifying, but it just seemed ridiculous (which is saying a lot considering the book's premise). The other issue is that there were unanswered questions. For example, what the heck was the point of the horns? So he "needed" them? Why? I would assume that a bad person would end up turning into a devil - not someone who was completely innocent. And what was the actual point of the treehouse? It truly just seemed like a lot of randomness thrown onto the pages and attempting to make some deep, philosophical point.

I didn't completely hate Horns. I enjoyed the first little bit and really any part that dealt with present-day Ig and his horn problem. Overall, though, this book was just a "meh" book. Nothing special. I'll still see the movie, for sure, because I feel like it just has to be better. There's no way they can replay the same thing three times in the movie. Everyone would hate it!



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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Spine-Tingling Saturday and Interview: Spire in the Woods

Title: The Spire in the Woods
Author: TheBoyInTheClock
Posted on: October 2013
Location: Reddit

This ten part series was one of the first I fell in love with. Prior to The Spire in the Woods, I read mostly short stories that I could finish within a few minutes. But then I found this. And I read for hours. This story was truly spine-tingling. Like, I was legitimately freaked out, especially considering I have a fear of dolls.

The Spire in the Woods is a story about a guy who finds a strange (you guessed it) spire in the woods. He quickly becomes a little obsessed with the spire and its stories. And things start to happen... I really cannot recommend this series enough!

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview the author of this story this week! Hopefully this will bring a little bit of insight into the brain of an author of horror.



Author Interview

>How did you come to write Spire in the Woods? What was your inspiration?

Six years before I ever put pen to paper I had an image in my head of someone crossing a frozen lake in the dead of night completely alone. I had it in my head they'd just done something terrible and they didn't know what to do with themselves so they were going to go to this scary little island no one ever visited. That was it, it was less than an idea, but the image stuck with me.


>How long did the series take you start to finish? 

A few months. I didn't keep track exactly. I knew the beginning, middle, and end before I began writing it, but I didn't have any concept of how to estimate how much story I could fit in a page so I initially figured the story was going to be about a 1/5 of it's ultimate length and only take a few days to write. When I finally did finish it, I felt like I had missed the window to post it, so I stuck it in a draw for about six months before I even looked at it again.


>Is there any kind of message in your series that you want readers to grasp?

The importance of enthusiastic consent. There's a tendency people have to think of people who hurt others as monsters and, since they don't consider themselves to be monsters, then any hurt that they cause others is either the hurt party being too sensitive or justified by the particular circumstances - both of which are rarely the case. There's a variety of ways this manifests in the world, but what's central to the Spire is that if people (particularly young men) don't understand how their sexual behavior can be predatory regardless of their self image or intentions, they are much more likely to hurt people.


>If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about Spire in the Woods? 

I am something of a glass is half empty sort of person. So there are small things that will always stand out to me that I may yet change just for myself or if the Spire is published as a novella.


>Why did you choose Reddit as your outlet? 

I enjoy the NoSleep community. I particularly find the 'everything is real even if it isn't' rule delightful. There's actually a long history of authors (and other artists) playing with that idea. Everyone probably thinks about the Blair Witch Project's viral marketing campaign, but for people a bit older the big debate was whether or not the Faces of Death franchise was real, and, while it was before my time, the trial of Deodato for his part in Cannibal Holocaust is also quite fascinating. Both of these probably grew out of the 1950's publicity stunts where studios would hire actors to pretend to be movie patrons that were so terrified by the latest monster flick they had a mental breakdown and needed to be carted off from the theater by other actors pretending to be doctors and nurses.

But toying with this line is actually a far older tradition dating back to 1719 and the publication of Robinson Crusoe. Robinson Crusoe, often cited as an early example of realistic fiction, was originally presented as a 'just history of fact.' When it was later exposed that there was no Robinson Crusoe and the tale was created by Daniel Defoe, Defoe had to defend himself from accusations of 'lying like the truth.'  And if we also consider obvious fictions peppered into otherwise nonfictional documents as examples of how reality and fiction is toyed with by an author  we'd have to go back at least as far as The Travels of Marco Polo (c. 1300).

Anyway, all this is to say that a community that encourages you to toy with reality like that and so willingly plays along with you is tremendously fun.


>What’s your real-life, non-Reddit job? 

IT for a large energy company.


>How much research did you do and what were the challenges (research, literary, psychological) in bringing this series to life?

I did quite a bit of research. I wanted to make as many of the mundane/real world details as accurate as I could so that anyone who really wanted to take the story to heart and thought to check them would find that they were accurate and the story would gain credibility in their minds. There is, of course, a line though that I have to be careful not to cross. The story is a work of fiction. There may be superficial resemblance to real people living or dead, or actual events in the real world, but the characters in the story are invented and not based on anyone.


>If you had a superpower, what would it be?

If I could choose, I'd probably want teleportation or maybe shapeshifting. I love traveling but hate how long it takes and am never comfortable on airplanes or buses. I miss the East Coast but, even with all the time in the world, can't really afford to get out there very often. As for shapeshifting, well, I've never been overly self confident, particularly when it comes to my looks. Being able to present a more polished image or slip off into the wilds as an animal are both attractive options.


>If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of this series, who would play your characters?

I don't think I have enough familiarity with teen actors to say.


>How have you enjoyed the reader response?

I've enjoyed it immensely, for the most part. I was slightly disturbed by one or two letters that insisted the narrator's actions were perfectly acceptable and Alina was the real villain of the piece, but the vast majority have understood the story and been very supportive. I've also really enjoyed people writing to ask more details about the Spire because they want to visit it and hear the bells for themselves - questionable reasoning, but very flattering.


>What secret talents do you have?

I'm a beast at Trivial Pursuit games published during my life time.


>Are you working on anything new at the moment?

I'm helping a friend develop their story. I'm also jotting down lots of notes for my next one which I hope to do as a full novel.


>Think you’ll ever write a book? You could definitely turn Spire in the Woods into one! 

I do and thank you.


>As an author of horror, what is your biggest fear?

You probably won't be surprised to learn I have pretty severe automatonophobia. I have no idea why. There weren't any creepy dolls in my attic growing up and I never got stuck in a fun house or anything. I guess I just perceive the uncanny valley a little too acutely.


>Do you read much and if so what is your favorite book?

I read a lot. Mostly non-fiction. I often feel like my brain is atrophying if I'm not reading. I'm not sure if I'd say I have a favorite book, though I was extremely fond of Tiger! Tiger! (lots of trigger warnings here) by Alfred Bester and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson when I read them as a much younger man.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday #12

Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.

This Week's Question: 

What book/series do you think would
make a better TV show than a movie?


I think almost any long book series would make a better TV show than a movie. One that immediately springs to mind are The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. Two of the books have already been made into movies and, while Interview with the Vampire was well-received, Queen of the Damned was not. With the announcement of a new movie called Lestat, a lot of fans are hesitantly excited. This is one series that would have made a much better TV show. I feel like they try to hard to condense the books for film and it could really go either way. To spread it out over 10+ episodes would make for a much better experience, in my opinion.

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School Reads: Suffer With Me


Today marked the first day of my last year of school. Finally, after four years in the military followed by about a million years of school, I'm going to graduate (in two semesters). This semester is one of the most intensive yet, including a 400 and 600 level course, among some lower level classes. Here are a few I have to read that might not be terrible.

He found Rome made of clay and left it made of marble. As Rome’s first emperor, Augustus transformed the unruly Republic into the greatest empire the world had ever seen. His consolidation and expansion of Roman power two thousand years ago laid the foundations, for all of Western history to follow. Yet, despite Augustus’s accomplishments, very few biographers have concentrated on the man himself, instead choosing to chronicle the age in which he lived. Here, Anthony Everitt, the bestselling author of Cicero, gives a spellbinding and intimate account of his illustrious subject.

Augustus began his career as an inexperienced teenager plucked from his studies to take center stage in the drama of Roman politics, assisted by two school friends, Agrippa and Maecenas. Augustus’s rise to power began with the assassination of his great-uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar, and culminated in the titanic duel with Mark Antony and Cleopatra.
The world that made Augustus–and that he himself later remade–was driven by intrigue, sex, ceremony, violence, scandal, and naked ambition. Everitt has taken some of the household names of history–Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Cleopatra–whom few know the full truth about, and turned them into flesh-and-blood human beings.

At a time when many consider America an empire, this stunning portrait of the greatest emperor who ever lived makes for enlightening and engrossing reading. Everitt brings to life the world of a giant, rendered faithfully and sympathetically in human scale. A study of power and political genius, Augustus is a vivid, compelling biography of one of the most important rulers in history.


In the early morning of November 29, 1864, with the fate of the Union still uncertain, part of the First Colorado and nearly all of the Third Colorado volunteer regiments, commanded by Colonel John Chivington, surprised hundreds of Cheyenne and Arapaho people camped on the banks of Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado Territory. More than 150 Native Americans were slaughtered, the vast majority of them women, children, and the elderly, making it one of the most infamous cases of state-sponsored violence in U.S. history. "A Misplaced Massacre" examines the ways in which generations of Americans have struggled to come to terms with the meaning of both the attack and its aftermath, most publicly at the 2007 opening of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.

This site opened after a long and remarkably contentious planning process. Native Americans, Colorado ranchers, scholars, Park Service employees, and politicians alternately argued and allied with one another around the question of whether the nation s crimes, as well as its achievements, should be memorialized. Ari Kelman unearths the stories of those who lived through the atrocity, as well as those who grappled with its troubling legacy, to reveal how the intertwined histories of the conquest and colonization of the American West and the U.S. Civil War left enduring national scars.

Combining painstaking research with storytelling worthy of a novel, "A Misplaced Massacre" probes the intersection of history and memory, laying bare the ways differing groups of Americans come to know a shared past."

From the award-winning translator of The Iliad and The Odyssey comes a brilliant new translation of Virgil's great epic

With his translations of Homer's classic poems, Robert Fagles gave new life to seminal works of the Western canon and became one of the preeminent translators of our time. His latest achievement completes the magnificent triptych of Western epics. A sweeping story of arms and heroism, The Aeneid follows the adventures of Aeneas, who flees the ashes of Troy to embark upon a tortuous course that brings him to Italy and fulfills his destiny as founder of the Roman people. Retaining all of the gravitas and humanity of the original, this powerful blend of poetry and myth remains as relevant today as when it was first written.


These are three of the... ten or so I have to read this semester. But hopefully I'll be able to make it through. Are there any interesting books you've had the chance to read in school?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #11: MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is: 


MARY: The Summoning
by Hillary Monahan
Publication Date: September 2, 2014

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?

Guys, I'm starting to think I have to change my layout. My WoW is a horror novel about half the time and I think mint green and lace might be a little misleading... Thoughts? Anyway, this book looks epic! Because who among us didn't play Bloody Mary as children? I cannot wait to get this one! 


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"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #7: Books Others Recommend


Today's Topic: 
 Top Ten Books People
Want Me To Read

So I hate it when people are like, "OMG you totally HAVE to read this right now seriously read it!" I mean, I'm cool with recommendations. In fact, I enjoy recommendations! I've found some really good books that way! But seriously, guys, chill out. I can't take all your energy.



The Fault in Our Stars
I see this book EVERYWHERE. It has been recommended to me by no less than fifteen people and none of them have been family members since I can't think of any female relatives that read. I broke down and saw the movie with my mom and... well, I'm not disappointed that I didn't read the book. 


Pride and Prejudice
A lot of people are really shocked when they find out I haven't read Pride and Prejudice - especially when they find out that I love Wuthering Heights. But I haven't. Sorry. My best friend in high school read it like, a hundred times, and was basically obsessed. I bought the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies graphic novel instead. 


The Shack
This book has been recommended to me by several people, including my entire immediate family. I just have zero interest in reading it. But it never fails that they recommend it regularly. I won't be shocked if it shows up in my stocking one Christmas. 


The Selection
This book is on SO many lists. The entire series, actually. I tried reading book one when it first came out and I really couldn't get into it. Maybe I'll give it another chance sometime since there are other book available now. 


The Gunslinger
Okay, so I didn't try to hide the fact that I was a huge nerd in high school. Because of this, people felt the need to recommend every "nerd" book out there and this was a suggestion I got a lot. It still happens. Just last week I was nerding out with a friend who writes fantasy and she asked me about this series. Nerd ≠ Dark Tower fan. 


The Giver
This is another of my high school best friend's favorite books. She recommended it and so has my brother. It's one that I honestly wish had been in my school curriculum so I would have been forced to read it. I really do want to get to it before the movie comes out... 


The Last Lecture
This book has been on my shelf for a few years now. My former roommate gave me a copy and I did want to read it. She said it would change my life. Many others have recommended it since then. But I just.couldn't.do.it. I really don't know why. Instead, I watched the lecture on youtube. Highly recommended, by the way. 


Coraline
Another one my brother recommended. And I think even my mom read it. Of course, they're not the only ones to put this book in my face. It seems like everyone is in love with Neil Gaiman. I did love the movie, so maybe I'll give the book a try at some point. 


Anthem
This is another "life-changing" book that was highly recommended. This is also the only book on my list that I've actually read. A friend told me that I HAD to read it and it would change me FOREVER. I downloaded the audiobook for my school commute and listened to it in two days. It didn't change my life. I didn't get it. 


The Last Song
The book and the movie are applicable here. I cannot stand Nicholas Sparks books. I realize a lot of people love his work, but I just can't do it. I enjoyed A Walk to Remember (the movie) when I saw it many years ago, but every time I watch one of his movies or pick up one of his books, I have the overwhelming urge to vomit (sorry).





Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish -  a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. Click here to get involved! 

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Adam's List by Jennifer Ann

Title: Adam's List (NYC Love #1)
Author: Jennifer Ann
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Treetop Fantasies
Pages: 374
Add to Goodreads


I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review! 
This review contains possible 18+ elements.

She's ready to give up on life, hiding her depression with sarcasm and booze. He's got a secret and quit college, with few friends to lean on. When they discover each other, the sexual attraction is undeniable. So why does it seem impossible for them to be together?

Everyone wanted to be Jewels Peterson in high school. Naturally beautiful, exceptionally smart, talented cheerleader, life of the party, and with an All-American boyfriend to boot. One regrettable choice and fatal accident later, and Jewels found herself unceremoniously knocked off her pedestal. Now she’s in college, going through the motions, but not really living.

Adam Murphy is easy-going, charming, considerate, and crazy good looking; he’s exactly the kind of guy Jewels pictures herself being happy with. But Jewels is already involved with someone, and Adam makes it known that he’s guarding a dark secret, one that makes him the wrong guy for her. Trumped by the promise of an innocent friendship, Jewels is forced to ignore her overwhelming hunger for Adam.

After Jewels unknowingly helps Adam create a bucket list, they embark on the adventure of a lifetime that pushes their platonic relationship to its limits. But does she want to be with Adam without knowing the truth behind the skeletons in his closet, or is being with him just another pointless thing in her life?

Adam's List actually caught my eye because of the description and NOT the cover. If you've been following my blog for anytime at all, then you should know how incredibly rare that is.  While the cover is alright... I mean, it's not great. Anyway, none of that is terribly important as far as this review is concerned. Just thought I'd throw it out there. I had never read anything by Jennifer Ann (a.k.a. Jen Naumann) and after reading this book I'm honestly on the fence about reading anything else of hers. Please, let me tell you why!

Full disclaimer - I may be unnecessarily nit-picky 
during this uncharacteristically long review. 

This book is about Jewels, former high school cheerleading captain turned converse-wearing manic depressive - but she's good as long as she takes her drugs! The other main character is Adam, the gorgeous, sweet college dropout who is instantly drawn to Jewels. The pull is so mutually intense that Jewels immediately breaks things off with her long-time boy toy and agrees to go with Adam on a cross country trip. As is standard with New Adult novels, they're both hiding a huge secret (though we know Jewels' from the start), both of which obviously threaten to tear apart their friendship-turned-more. It sounds like a great premise for a book, I'll give it that. And, to be honest, it works. For the first half of Adam's List, I truly thought this would be a five star review. But then I got to know Jewels.

I -hate- Jewels and that's a word I reserve for special situations (last used in 2011, thankyouverymuch). The more I found out about her, the more I hated her. I found myself being literally angry while reading this book to the point that my husband noticed. She is a despicable person and I really cannot understand why everyone else in the story liked her. The difference between her "big secret" and Adam's is that she brought hers on herself by being a piece of crap! Some of the words I wrote down to describe Jewels are as follows:

  • Selfish
  • Skank
  • Moron
I stand by them. Let me share with you some truly infuriating scenarios from Adam's List (possible mild spoilers). 
  1. She breaks up with her "boyfriend" for Adam and then proceeds to have sex with the guy she broke up with anyway just because he showed up at her apartment. In doing this, she lied to both her roommate and to Adam, who caught her in the act. She is then confused about why Adam just wants to be friends and whether it is because he "thinks I'm really still involved with Levi." Hmm... Ya think that might be it, Jewels?
  2. This girl had a boyfriend, broke up with him, slept around a bunch, and then started semi-dating an older man who she all but calls a sex god (maybe she did call him that?)... and then we find out that no one in the history of her sexcapades has ever gone down on her. I'm not buying it. Not for a second.
  3. Adam tells her that he does not want sex with her to be "cheap" and he basically wants it to be intimate and special. He turns her down more than once when she tries to have sex with him in random public places like behind a dumpster. Well, she completely ignores him and does it anyway. On a public party bus. I literally put the book down after and asked myself, "did she just rape him?" Yes, he was pissed after. 
  4. After said bus rape, she is mad that he's mad and feels absolutely no remorse whatsoever. She makes him feel like the bad guy. She even tells the reader later that she doesn't want to revisit "why he's mad 'I took advantage of him' in the bus." She puts it in quotes. She thinks it's a joke. 
  5. She's so mad at him for being mad that she decides to basically dry hump and all-but-make-out with some random guy she meets at a house party (which she agreed they were going to without Adam's consent). She carries on a conversation with the same guy while he's naked, but Adam doesn't know. She imagines what it would be like to be with naked guy.
  6. When Adam reveals his big secret, Jewels is all like, "I knew it and totally saw all the signs but didn't want to admit it." No.You.Did.Not.Jewels. You are a liar and the truth is not in you. The only changes we've read about until this point is that his hair got a little longer. Jewels, you're full of crap. 
  7. I cannot reveal why, but Jewels is incredibly selfish and thinks the entire world revolves around her. Theo, the aforementioned naked guy, is the voice of reason, informing Jewels that "Love can't always be about what you want." This is some kind of huge revelation for her. 
  8. She spends the entire book talking about how gorgeous she is, how toned her thighs are, etc. (and having everyone else constantly confirm this) and then suddenly, at 80%, we get this jewel (pun intended): "Once I'm completely naked, exposing all my imperfections..." Oh, just shut up. 
  9. She totally rapes him bareback and then is suddenly concerned with condoms the next time they "do it" (because we use words like "down there" in this book).
I'm sorry, but I don't have a number 10. As you can see, Jewels is disgusting. I cannot stand her. At all. 

There were a few other things that just did not make sense in this book and I really think they were just oversights on the author's part. For example, Jewels describes Adam as the very best sex partner of all her many sex partners, yet Adam tells her she's the only one who's ever seen him naked. Um, what? Let me tell you, dear reader, people aren't just born great in bed. The other glaring detail I just cannot ignore is Adam's eyes. WHAT COLOR ARE ADAM'S EYES?! Throughout this book, they're described as gray, baby blue, and steel blue, and these terms are used interchangeably. I worked as an Ophthalmology Technician for five years and those are three distinctly different colors, folks! 


Finally, the formatting was weird. I'm not sure if it was just my copy, but there were no breaks between events. So one second we're running through downtown Chicago (literally) and the next paragraph is "I stir with a light tapping on the door." This would have been a simple fix and I really hope it's remedied. 

Okay, so you're probably asking yourself, "Does she have anything at all good to say about this book?" I actually do, believe it or not. I honestly did like this story. I enjoyed it. It was a good story. Every character other than Jewels was wonderful and, I'd imagine, a freaking joy to be around! Kelly, the best friend, was the kind of person I'd love to add on facebook. And even though Theo played into Jewels' skankiness when he didn't realize she was serious with Adam, he was a great guy too! I just can't understand why all these fantastic people would waste their time on such a terrible person. And why, oh why! is Adam attracted to her? Adam is wonderful. He's patient and kind and gorgeous and obviously a natural-born sex god, if Jewels is to be trusted. I loved Adam. I really enjoyed going with them on their trip, I enjoyed Adam's struggles (I honestly couldn't care less about the struggles of Jewels-Center-Of-The-Universe), and the memories they made. 

If Jennifer Ann had just made her main character a little less terrible and a little more sympathetic, this could have gone a whole different way. For the story, I'd give it five stars, but for Jewels I cannot, in good conscience, give such a fantastic rating. Because I enjoyed it overall and it kept me turning pages and up til 2am, I'll settle at three. 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday #11

Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.

This Week's Question: 

Suggest a question! We need questions
of the week for future FFs. Any ideas?


Okay, so truth time. I'm really bad at stuff like this. I cannot come up with stuff off the top of my head. But I'll try. I enjoy participating in F&F each week. I apologize for the boring nature of the questions that will follow. 

1. Who is your favorite superhero? How did you come to love him/her?
2. What's your favorite non-bookish website hangout?
3. Do you have any furry friends? Share a picture! 

Okay, I give up. Here's a picture of my dog to make up for this post: 


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Casting for Splintered: The Movie

Confession: I'm having a really hard time letting go of A.G. Howard's Splintered series until Ensnared graces our shelves next year. I found the series late and blew threw Splintered and Unhinged and now I don't know what to do (maybe it's not quite that serious). I thought I'd have a little bit of fun and cast some of the characters for the movie that is going to happen (because if they can make a Twilight they HAVE to make this).


Emilie de Ravin as Ivory

In my head, Ivory is a gorgeous, platinum blonde, innocent-faced woman. That is what I went looking for and that's what I found in Emilie de Ravin (come on, she played Belle). This photo with the super blonde hair just felt right to play the role of Ivory. 


Marcia Cross as Red

Red was a bit tricky. When I read about her, I really pictured her as being a middle aged [w]itch. So when I went looking for someone for the role of Red, I knew immediately when I saw Marcia Cross that she was the one! I mean, have you seen Desperate Housewives? But seriously, in this picture, she's perfect. 



Darren Criss as Jeb

Okay, so you'll have to put Blaine Anderson out of your mind in order to see this one (it took me a few minutes too). But Glee aside, Darren Criss definitely looks the part of Jeb as I'd imagined him... and his full lips totally match the cover of Ensnared. 



Amanda Seyfried as Alyssa

I have always loved Amanda Seyfried! I even have a couple signed photos and DVD cases from her! She fits perfectly as Alyssa, in my opinion. She has a look that can be either very innocent or super edgy. With the pink hair I think she just went up a few notches to land the part, as far as I'm concerned. 




Tyler Blackburn as Morpheus

I had such a hard time with the role of Morpheus! He is by far my favorite character in the books and I really didn't know what direction to go in to capture his sexy, dark, mysterious looks. Truth: I was dying to go with Johnny Depp or Ian Sommerhalder, but when it came right down to it, I don't think either of them fit. He's honestly not even one of my favorite actors, but once I saw this photo of Tyler Blackburn, I was sold. 



Izabella Miko as a Neverland creature

Because what the heck is with her face? 








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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Dream Boy by Madelyn Rosenberg & Mary Crockett


Title: Dream Boy
Publication Date: July 2, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 336
Add to Goodreads

Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

Available from:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Books | The Book Depository


Advanced Praise

“Dream Boy explores the mysterious world of dreams, where we access our deepest desires...the authors expertly weave fantasy and the real world in a perfect blend.”
– Erica Orloff, author of In Dreams

"Eerie, twisty, fast and funny, Dream Boy will forever change the way you see your dreams--and your nightmares. An exciting, imaginative look at what might happen when people from the corners of your mind suddenly show up in your real life."
– Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light



Excerpt
I’ve always been a dreamer. Daydreams. Night dreams. Dreams of grandeur and dreams of escape. If I were an onion and you peeled back the papery outside, you’d find layer after layer of eye-watering dreams. And in the center, where there’s that little curlicue of onion heart? There’d be a puff of smoke from the dreams that burned away.

It was all just brain waves, I thought—disconnected, like the notebook that my friend Talon keeps. She draws a line down the middle of the page; on the right she writes everything she remembers about a dream, and on the left she puts notes about the stuff that’s happening in real life, things that might trigger her subconscious. Reality on one side, dreams on the other—a clear line between the two.

But it turns out there are no clear lines, just a jumble of what is and what might be. And all of it is real.


Reviews

“The perfect book to add to your summer reading list. An awesome balance of love, humor and action, this new read may just be your dream come true!” 
GirlsLife

"Hits the chick-lit and romance buttons, adding suspense and an intriguing idea as well for nicely rounded entertainment." 
 Kirkus Review

"An original, twisty paranormal romance." 
– Booklist

“Five stars... Perfect writing, perfect characters ... perfect plot.” 
– Paperback Wonderland

“Dream Boy skillfully and creatively tackles the common theme of good and bad dreams coming alive.... The writing is tight and well-paced, and nicely balances action with Annabelle’s character development as she tries to unravel the mysteries of... her dreams. Her teenage voice is spot on: unsure of herself, but spirited, with a sarcasm that masquerades as confidence. The plot twists and moves in unexpected yet fascinating directions."
 The Roanoke Times






About the Authors

Mary Crockett likes turtles, licorice, and the Yankees. Madelyn Rosenberg likes cats, avocados, and the Red Sox. Luckily they both like the weirdness of dreams (and each other) enough to write novels together. The friendship has survived three moves, six kids and countless manuscript revisions. Madelyn lives just outside of Washington, D.C. Mary remains in the mountains near their hometowns in southwestern Virginia.


Author Links
Mary:  Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook 
Madelyn:  Website |  GoodreadsTwitter | Facebook


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