Archive for March, 2014


Giveaway Winner!

The giveaway has officially ended! Thank you to everyone who entered and participated. I’m very excited to have had so many entries. Don’t worry if you didn’t win this one. I’m planning on doing more giveaways in the future. 🙂

Now, for the moment you have been waiting for. The winner is . . . Michelle M.! Congratulations!

I have already sent the winner an e-mail, and she will have one week to reply to claim her prize. If she doesn’t reply by next Thursday, I will pick another winner. I’ll pick someone every week until the prize is claimed.

Thank you again for making this giveaway successful, and I’m looking forward to hosting another one.

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Choker Review

Genre: Young Adult

Choker by Elizabeth Woods is a mystery novel that revolves around a sixteen-year-old girl named Cara. Since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago, Cara has been a loner. She’s ignored by her classmates, and when she’s not ignored, she’s picked on by the popular kids. One day, when Cara comes home from school, she finds Zoe waiting in her room. As the story progresses, the reader learns how far one friend is willing to go for the other.

Even though Cara sits with the other girls on the track team, she doesn’t consider them true friends, and to make the situation even worse she is known as “Choker” because of an incident in the cafeteria. When Zoe comes back into Cara’s life, Cara is thrilled. She learns that Zoe ran away from problems at home, and Zoe wants to hide out with Cara for a while. Cara agrees and enjoys having her best friend back in her life. It seems Cara’s life has changed for the better, but it starts to collapse when a girl in town goes missing. Matters only get worse when Zoe begins to act strangely. Cara begins to wonder what Zoe does all day long while Cara is at school, and Cara starts to question who her friend has become.

Choker is a quick read and an interesting mystery. While there is a large focus on the mysterious aspect of the novel, there is more to the story to keep the reader engaged. There is a lot of focus on the relationship between Cara and Zoe. The characterization is well-done because the characters had very distinct personalities, and it’s easy to see why the two were friends. Zoe is the bold and outgoing one while Cara is more reserved and introverted. Since they were little, Cara has always been the follower while Zoe has been the leader. I enjoyed seeing the interaction between the two friends, and it does seem plausible. The character development is a bit intriguing when it comes to Cara. Even if there isn’t a great deal of development, the ending explains exactly why Cara didn’t particularly evolve in this story. 

While there is some great characterization and character development, the story can be predictable, and it’s easy to tell where it’s headed most of the time. Once the girl goes missing in town, it’s clear who did it and why. Although the twists and turns are expected, the ending will shock a lot of readers. The conclusion is a pretty big surprise, and it’s fun to go back through the story to find the clues that led up to the final confrontation. I have to say that I loved the ending. I did know what would be happening towards the end, but that’s mostly because I’ve seen a lot of mystery/thriller movies, shows, and books with this ending, and I enjoy it each time. It’s fun to see how each director and author will handle it. I feel that Woods handled this ending well.

The story is a fun read and will keep the reader entertained. There may be quite a few predictable plot points, but there are entertaining characters that keep the book interesting. I would recommend this novel to anyone wanting a fast and enjoyable story.

My Rating: ★★★★

March 2014 Book Haul

Here is another book haul. Oh the books keep piling up. I didn’t plan on having these book hauls so close together but there were so many great deals on books that I couldn’t pass them up. I also got two Lisa Frank coloring books in this order. “Why?” you may ask. Because why not. I miss Lisa Frank stuff, so when I saw them on bookoutlet.com, I knew I needed them. Plus, I really want to color. I’m such a child sometimes.

*All descriptions taken from Goodreads.

Pretty Little Mistakes: A Do-Over Novel – Heather Mcelhatton
Genre – Chick Lit./Contemporary

There are hundreds of lives sown inside Pretty Little Mistakes, Heather McElhatton’s singularly spectacular, breathtakingly unique novel that has more than 150 possible endings. You may end up in an opulent mansion or homeless down by the river; happily married with your own corporation or alone and pecked to death by ducks in London; a Zen master in Japan or morbidly obese in a trailer park.

Is it destiny or decision that controls our fate? You can’t change your past and start over from scratch in real life–but in Pretty Little Mistakes, you can! But be warned, choose wisely.

Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly
Genre – Young Adult/Historical Fiction

From the privileged streets of modern Brooklyn to the heart of the French Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.

BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Wuftoom – Mary G. Thompson
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

“Wildly imaginative . . . something utterly new and weird.”—Publishers Weekly

Everyone thinks Evan is sick. But Evan knows he is actually transforming. His metamorphosis has him confined to his bed, terrified, and alone—except for visits from the Wuftoom, a wormlike creature that tells Evan he is becoming one of them. Clinging to his humanity and desperate to help his overworked single mother, Evan makes a bargain with the Vitflies, the enemies of the Wuftoom. But when the bargain becomes blackmail and the Vitflies prepare for war, whom can Evan trust? Is saving his humanity worth destroying an entire species, and the only family he has left?

Arclight – Josin L. McQuein
Genre – Young Adult/Science Fiction

No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.

With a Name Like Love – Tess Hilmo
Genre – Childrens/Historical Fiction

One of School Library Journal’s Best Fiction Books of 2011

When Ollie’s daddy, the Reverend Everlasting Love, pulls their travel trailer into Binder to lead a three-day revival, Ollie knows that this town will be like all the others they visit— it is exactly the kind of nothing Ollie has come to expect. But on their first day in town, Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel, whose mother is in jail for murdering his father. Jimmy insists that his mother is innocent, and Ollie believes him. Still, even if Ollie convinces her daddy to stay in town, how can two kids free a grown woman who has signed a confession?  Ollie’s longing for a friend and her daddy’s penchant for searching out lost souls prove to be a formidable force in this tiny town where everyone seems bent on judging and jailing without a trial.

Four Summoner’s Tales – Kelley Armstrong
Genre – Anthology/Horror

In Kelley Armstrong’s “Suffer the Children,” an acute diphtheria outbreak kills most of the children in an isolated village in nineteen-century Ontario. Then a stranger arrives and offers to bring the children back to life. He wants money, of course, an extravagant sum, but more importantly, but for each child resurrected, one villager must voluntarily offer his life…

In David Liss’s “A Bad Season for Necromancy,” a con man on the margins of eighteenth-century British society discovers a book that reveals the method for bringing the dead back to life. After considering just how far he would go to avoid bringing his violent father back, he realizes the real value of this book. Instead of getting people to pay him to revive their departed, he will get people to pay him not to…

In “Pipers” by Christopher Golden, the Texas Border Volunteers wage a private war against drug smuggling by Mexican cartels in a modern-day South Texas town, complete with an indestructible army of the risen dead…

In “Alive Day” by Jonathan Maberry, a US Army sergeant must dive into the underworld of modern-day Afghanistan to try and barter for the release of his team, never dreaming of the horrors that await him…

Heartsick – Chelsea Cain
Genre – Mystery

Damaged Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent ten years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful serial killer, but in the end she was the one who caught him. Two years ago, Gretchen kidnapped Archie and tortured him for ten days, but instead of killing him, she mysteriously decided to let him go. She turned herself in, and now Gretchen has been locked away for the rest of her life, while Archie is in a prison of another kind—addicted to pain pills, unable to return to his old life, powerless to get those ten horrific days off his mind. Archie’s a different person, his estranged wife says, and he knows she’s right. He continues to visit Gretchen in prison once a week, saying that only he can get her to confess as to the whereabouts of more of her victims, but even he knows the truth—he can’t stay away.

When another killer begins snatching teenage girls off the streets of Portland, Archie has to pull himself together enough to lead the new task force investigating the murders. A hungry young newspaper reporter, Susan Ward, begins profiling Archie and the investigation, which sparks a deadly game between Archie, Susan, the new killer, and even Gretchen. They need to catch a killer, and maybe somehow then Archie can free himself from Gretchen, once and for all. Either way, Heartsick makes for one of the most extraordinary suspense debuts in recent memory.

 

The Sleeping and the Dead – Jeff Crook
Genre – Mystery

A new mystery series starring a Memphis crime scene photographer with ghostly assistance

Jackie Lyons, a former vice detective with the Memphis Police Department, is trying to put her life back together. Her husband has served her with divorce papers, she’s broke, and her apartment has just gone up in flmaes. But a failed marriage, unemployment, and an incinerated home aren’t her only problems: she also sees ghosts.

Since Jackie left her job with the MPD, she’s been making ends meet by photographing crime scenes for her old friends on the force, and for the occasional collector.  When she’s called to the murder scene of the Playhouse Killer’s latest victim, she starts seeing crime scenes from a different perspective– her new camera captures spectral images. As her camera brings her ghostly visitors into sharper relief, it also points her toward clues the ex-detective in her won’t let go: Did the man she has just started dating kill his wife? Is the Playhouse Killer someone in her inner circle?

As Jackie works to separate natural from supernatural, friend from foe, and light from dark, the spirit world and her own difficult past become the only things she can depend on to solve the case.

Giveaway Reminder

20140227_203205I just wanted to post a quick reminder that the giveaway for a used copy of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce is still open. It’s only half way over, but there is only one week left, so make sure to enter soon. So far only one person has entered . . . so your chances are looking pretty good. 🙂

For my original post and more information, click here.

You can find the actual giveaway using the link below:

Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Rating: PG-13

The Wind Rises was released in July 2013, in Japan and February 2014, in North America. It’s an animated historical fantasy directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It has been said that this was Miyazaki’s last film; however, there has been speculation that he’s not retired anymore. I’m not sure how accurate this information is, but if it’s true, I’m glad this wasn’t his last project.

The movie is about the life of Jiro Horikoshi and his accomplishments designing airplanes during World War II. He has dreamed of being involved with airplanes since he was a child, and even though he’s nearsighted and unable to become a pilot, he still joins a major Japanese engineering company to become an airplane designer. The Wind Rises covers a large portion of Jiro’s life while also showing historical events such as the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Great Depression, and Japan’s involvement in the war.

As the title hints at, I ended up watching the subbed version (Japanese with English subtitles) of The Wind Rises. This was not by choice but due to the theater’s poor advertising. Once I knew the movie would be subbed, I accepted and prepared myself for a Miyazaki film. However, there were a few problems. I’ve watched plenty of subbed animes, and I have quite a few favorites that I would not want to watch dubbed because I feel it would ruin the anime. With this film, however, I felt that the subbed dialogue was shortened so the audience was able to keep up. Since there is no option to pause the movie, there were only a few small lines of dialogue to read at a time. There were a lot of quiet moments, and at times, there were people mouthing words, but no sound came out and the audience received no subtitles. There were also no translations for the German dialogue, so I missed out on even more of the story. It sort of took me out of the movie because I had no idea what was being said, and I missed out on some of the sound that I normally get with a dubbed version. This will likely not be a problem for most viewers that saw the dubbed version, and I am planning on watching with English dialogue to see if my opinion changes at all.

Aside from the movie being subbed, I felt the story covered a bit too much in the time it was given. I know that it was about Jiro’s life from childhood to adulthood, but the viewers only saw small portions of each stage of his life. There was not a lot of time allotted to getting to know certain characters at different points. I wish it would have focused more on one time period of his life with hints at other stages. While I appreciated the representation of historical events in Japan, the movie seemed to only show the tragic events to a change in time periods because it was sometimes hard to know how much time had passed. Some of the events had little to no effect on the main character except to show what was happening around him.

On the other hand, I enjoyed the overall theme of the movie, to never give up and keep pushing forward no matter what happens. It was rather encouraging, and watching Jiro succeed at his dream was refreshing. The Wind Rises was beautifully crafted like always, and the visuals live up to Miyazaki’s other films. I always love watching his films because of this aspect. The dream sequences were a nice addition to show how passionate Jiro was about designing airplanes. While the animation was great, there were plenty of humorous moments and jokes about the Japanese airplanes that were funny. I liked how the creators were able to poke fun at the Japanese military and how far behind they were compared to other nations.

There was a romance between Jiro and Nahoko that was sweet, and I would have loved to see the movie focus on when he got involved with her and show his struggle trying to deal with work while being there for her. That brought up another issue I noticed while watching. There was no conflict. I never really knew when the movie was going to end because there was no build up or climax. While there were plenty of small issues, there was never anything to drive the story or the character besides Jiro’s passion for airplanes. There was nothing that was presented to the audience that hindered Jiro from following his dream besides his nearsightedness but that was only discussed during the beginning. 

I’m sad to say that The Wind Rises will not be added to my Favorite Hayao Miyazaki Films. I’m hoping that Miyazaki is back from retirement, so he can continue to make wonderful movies. Although, I was not a huge fan of this movie, I can’t wait to watch Miyazaki’s next film.

Feel free to let me know what you thought about the film or if you’re going to see it.

My Rating: ★★★

During February, I ended up reading the same amount of books I did in January which was around three. Even though I wanted to read more, other things decided to get in the way of my reading time. My overall reading goal for 2014 is to read 40 books, so at least I’m keeping up with my goal.

I’m still reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline because I ended up reading two other books. It has taken me quite a while to get back to reading this story, but I plan on finishing Ready Player One in March.

*All descriptions for books taken from Goodreads and all descriptions for movies taken from IMDb.

Ravens – Kaylie Austen
Genre – Young Adult/Paranormal
My Rating – ★★½

What are Ravens, and are they as the world wants us to believe—sinister and without human qualities? When abruptly taken from their world, select humans are transformed into creatures of the night with penetrating eyes and uncanny abilities that most believe are a threat to mankind. Stripped from their mundane and ordinary lives, these creatures have no choice but to stalk the night and fight back in order to survive.

One such Raven is eighteen-year-old Liam, who uses his telepathy to communicate with Kendra in order to lure her into the transformation. It proves to be a double-edged gambit that turns into a tumultuous journey. Racing against time to save her sister, whom she believed to be dead, Kendra falls through a portal and into a parallel world where humans hunt her. She becomes a Raven with ill-controlled powers, trapped in a torrid affair with Liam, and desperately struggles to find a grip on her new reality.

Review: Ever since I finished Ravens, I’ve been trying to decide what to rate it. Let me just say that I went in thinking it was about actual ravens, as you can see from my TBR post. I felt like an idiot when the story was about beings known as ravens. This fact didn’t affect my rating because after I found out, I accepted it and moved on with the story. I enjoyed the beginning, and the book had a good premise. However, I had a few problems with it. I wanted some things explained more such as the world, the ravens, and the hunters. I felt like I could have learned a lot more about each to really pull the story together. There were also aspects that I found a little bit unnecessary such as Randal’s point of view. It just seemed unneeded. Some of the conversations didn’t flow that well, and Kendra seemed rather calm when Liam was explaining the parallel universes. Overall, I was excited to read this book, but I was disappointed with it. I do want to read some of her other books though.

The Sheik’s Defiant Fiancée – Elizabeth Lennox
Genre – Romance
My Rating – ★★

Laila knew in her heart that marriage should be for love, not for duty. Her union with Sheik Jabril would help improve and maintain political stability in her country, as well as bring the people of her province honor and pride. And Jabril was certainly easy on the eyes. He was tall, built like an Olympian, and exuded power and masculinity. But the man was a player of the worst sort, with mistresses all over the world! She realizes that she cannot say no to the Sheik of Surisia, so she respectfully requests that they treat their marriage like the business arrangement that it is. His response? He kisses her! Through that kiss, he demonstrates that he will not accept anything less than her full acquiescence, but she also discovers that his passion and physical presence stir something within her that she cannot control.

Their first public event together convinces Jabril that he made an excellent choice for a wife. She is not only stunningly beautiful, but smart and socially adept. She will be a worthy partner to rule his kingdom, and to share his bed! Her trembling response to his touch excites him, but her suggestion that they essentially live separate lives confounds and amuses him. There is no way he will allow that. The intensity of their first kiss lingers in his memory and he will not relent until he has experienced all she can give. He wants her in his bed, every night. And he will have her!

Review: I started this book in between reading Ready Player One, mainly, because I just added it to my tablet. It was a very short story. It felt as if it was a novella, and I’m not sure if that was the intention. There wasn’t any character development and hardly an characterization. Throughout the story, I had a hard time understanding why Laila was pushing Jabril away. I mean I know the initial reason was because she believed he was a player, but once he tells her the truth, she doesn’t really give much reason to keep pushing. It also felt as if the story wasn’t developed enough. I ended up not caring about what happened to the characters because they’re not memorable. Others may like The Sheik’s Defiant Fiancée, but it wasn’t for me.

Beyond – Graham McNamee
Genre – Young Adult/Horror
My Rating – ★★★

Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: Her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer.

Review: I enjoyed Beyond for being a unique ghost story. Even though, I haven’t read that many ghost stories. I felt the visions Jane had were pretty accurate and well described. By accurate I mean, when she was experiencing them, she reacted how someone would feel and act in real life. Jane was an enjoyable protagonist that was easy to root for. She has a lot of near-death experiences that the reader will need to expand his/her disbelief for. It made me wonder how she kept surviving. There are a few more moments where it’s hard to believe, but it sort of adds to the ghost story. Jane and Lexi’s friendship was nice, and it seemed believable. Overall, I liked the plot of the story and the idea behind the shadow. I did want the story to be a little scarier and it didn’t end how I would have liked, but it was entertaining. Beyond is worth reading.

What About Bob?
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★★★

A successful psychiatrist loses his mind after one of his most dependent patients, a highly manipulative obsessive-compulsive, tracks him down during his family vacation.

Review: What About Bob? is a really enjoyable film. There were quite a few laugh out loud moments. It really lives up to the comedy genre because it was funny without being dumb, which a lot of movies have been doing for cheap laughs. There was a lot of good character development, and the characters were enjoyable. It was interesting how none of the characters were annoying. It would have been really easy to make any of them irritating, but they were all portrayed well. All character actions seemed justified and made the characterization even better. I loved the ending because it was funny and ironic. It took me a while to watch this movie, and I’m glad I finally did. It’s definitely worth a watch.