Archive for May, 2014


I haven’t finished The Way of Shadows or The Forest of Hands and Teeth yet, but I’ve decided that I want to participate in the book discussion bookoutlet is hosting for Monstrous Beauty on June 4th. I need to read the book before the book talk, so I can join the conversation. I’ll come back to the other two books once the book talk is over.

Monstrous Beauty – Elizabeth Fama
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

Pivot Point – Kasie West
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

*Descriptions taken from Goodreads.

I’ve actually never read a mermaid book before, so I’m excited to read Monstrous Beauty. It seems like a darker take on mermaids, and I’m interested to see how the author handles it. I’ve heard great things about Pivot Point, and I want to find out what everyone is talking about. Hopefully, these two books are quick reads, so I finish in time for the book talk and can get back to the other two books.

Godzilla (2014) Review

Rating: PG-13

Godzilla was released in May 2014 and was directed by Gareth Edwards. It’s a science fiction monster movie for obvious reasons. The movie stars Ken Watanabe, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, and Bryan Cranston. I have to say that I was incredibly excited to watch this movie, and even though my only experience with Godzilla leading up to this was the 1998 version, I was still optimistic about this new installment.

Two scientists Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) discover unusual objects within a strip mine. Meanwhile, a nuclear plant supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) are at work when a disastrous event occurs, destroying the plant and rendering the surrounding area under quarantine. Years after these events, Joe Brody believes the disaster was not natural and that the government is covering it up. When Joe finds evidence, his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) becomes involved as well. Ishiro Serizawa is still researching the objects that were found years before. All of their stories intertwine when disaster strikes yet again.

I went into this expecting to see giant monsters fight, and I got that and much more. There’s a great plot with intriguing characters, and there’s plenty of action to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The tone of this movie is much more realistic and serious than previous versions. Godzilla is set up in a way that makes it seem plausible. Instead of a mindless beast destroying the city, it’s much deeper and far more complex. The creatures in this movie are more animal like than monster. They are driven by instinct, and they’re trying to live in a world populated by humans. It’s interesting to see them with animal instincts rather than just destroying everything around them just because they can.

There are many engaging characters in Godzilla. Joe Brody’s character is by far the most interesting and well-rounded. He’s believable as a person and reacts in ways that are expected, and as a result, he is my favorite character. The only complaint I have is that I wish he had more screen time. Ishiro Serizawa is also well-developed. He’s the voice of caution, and he wants nature to take it’s course without human intervention. Even the secondary characters are enjoyable to watch, and they contribute to the plot in interesting ways. Ford, on the other hand, is the weakest character and comes off a bit flat. He’s likable and it’s easy to root for him, but he lacks charisma.

Godzilla is a great summer movie. If you were worried about seeing this because of previous versions, don’t be because Godzilla has been redeemed in this movie. It’s the perfect blend of action and suspense and contains great acting and special effects. Of course, I wanted to see more Godzilla, but it makes it more enjoyable when he is onscreen. I’ve read that there’s a possibility of this becoming a trilogy. I’m excited for future installments and hope to see Godzilla in all his glory.

My Rating: ★★★★½

May 2014 Book Haul (#2)

More books! My wallet no longer likes bookoutlet. I seem to always end up with books in my cart on that website, even when I’m only browsing. I just need to stop browsing, I suppose. I’m happy to say that I don’t have anymore books in my cart at the moment. That will change soon, I’m sure, but I’m doing great so far. I did end up buying two graphic novels in this haul that I’m excited about. The covers are beautiful, and the artwork is even better. I’ve never bought a graphic novel before besides the Vampire Academy in my last haul. The only bad thing about this is that I want to get more now. I’m sure there will be plenty of book hauls in the future that will have some graphic novels. I would love to have recommendations for some good graphic novels if anyone has any to share.

*All descriptions taken from Goodreads.

The Sons of Liberty #1 – Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos
Genre – Young Adult/Historical Fiction

Forget everything you thought you knew about America’s early days-history packs a punch in this full-color, two-fisted, edge-of-your-seat adventure!

Graphic novels are a revolution in literature, and The Sons of Liberty is a graphic novel like no other. Visual and visceral, fusing historical fiction and superhero action, this is a tale with broad appeal-for younger readers who enjoy an exciting war story, for teenagers asking hard questions about American history, for adult fans of comic books, for anyone seeking stories of African American interest, and for reluctant readers young and old.

In Colonial America, Graham and Brody are slaves on the run-until they gain extraordinary powers. At first they keep a low profile. But their mentor has another idea-one that involves the African martial art dambe . . . and masks.

With its vile villains, electrifying action, and riveting suspense, The Sons of Liberty casts new light on the faces and events of pre-Revolution America, including Ben Franklin and the French and Indian War. American history has rarely been this compelling-and it’s never looked this good.

 

The Sons of Liberty #2: Death and Taxes – Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos
Genre – Young Adult/Historical Fiction

Several years have passed since Graham and Brody escaped the bonds of slavery. Now, when the streets of Philadelphia erupt in violence, the two boys must decide: will they use their extraordinary abilities to aid the growing rebellion or to quell it? An ambitious, thought-provoking, and visually stunning graphic novel, Death and Taxes offers an entirely new way to experience all the hope and heartbreak of America’s early days.

 

 

Don’t You Wish – Roxanne St. Claire
Genre – Young Adult/Contemporary

Plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad’s whacked-out inventions into a parallel universe Ayla Monroe – gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school. In glitzy Miami, her different billionaire dad supplies money but is absent. Friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilarating, and illegal. Ayla has a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she’s ever seen, but she’s still Annie on the inside. Will she take the chance to leave the dream life and head back to dreary Pittsburgh?

 

Siren’s Storm – Lisa Papademetriou
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Nothing has been the same for Will ever since what happened last summer. One day, on an ordinary sailing trip with his brother, there is a strange accident. When Will wakes up, he learns his brother has disappeared, presumed drowned. Worst of all, Will can’t remember what happened—his family finds him unconscious, with no memory of the accident.

Now Will and his best friend and neighbor, Gretchen, are starting a new summer. Gretchen seems troubled—her sleepwalking habit is getting worse, and she keeps waking up closer and closer to the water. Will is drawn to Asia, the exotic new girl in town. Nobody knows where she’s from—all Will knows is that her beauty and her mesmerizing voice have a powerful effect on people.

Then there is another mysterious drowning, and Will and Gretchen begin to wonder: Is Asia just another beautiful, wealthy summer resident? Or is she something entirely more sinister . . . and inhuman?

Fury’s Fire – Lisa Papademetriou
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

At the end of Siren’s Storm, the Sirens were defeated, and now the town of Walfang is once again a peaceful beach community.

Or is it? Gretchen and Will are still haunted by the memories of the night the Sirens were destroyed—Gretchen because she can’t remember what happened and Will because he doesn’t know how to tell Gretchen what he saw. He doesn’t even understand what he saw, but he does know now that Gretchen is more than what she seems, more than a human girl. And at the same time, he is more in love with her than ever.

Gretchen knows there’s something wrong, too. She feels like an alien in her own body, but she doesn’t know why. And she feels a presence stalking her at every turn. Have the Sirens returned to Walfang? Or has some other force come to claim her?

Torn to Pieces – Margot McDonnell
Genre – Young Adult/Mystery

Anne is used to her single mother’s being away on extended business trips. But when her mom is a few days late coming home and her hotel phone has been disconnected, Anne knows something is wrong. Then a strange man starts leaving messages on their answering machine, threatening a woman Anne has never heard of.

Frightened and worried, Anne confides in her grandparents, who give Anne a sealed envelope containing a letter that her mother wrote before she left. With each page, the fabric of Anne’s relatively normal life is torn to pieces. Not only does her mother explain why she disappeared, but she reveals other dark secrets that put Anne in grave danger. Now Anne doesn’t know whom to trust . . . especially since those closest to her are not who they claim to be.

Outpost – Ann Aguirre
Genre – Young Adult/Science Fiction

Deuce’s whole world has changed.

Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris
Genre – Non-Fiction/Humor

David Sedaris returns to his deliriously twisted domain: hilarious childhood dramas infused with melancholy; the gulf of misunderstanding that exists between people of different nations or members of the same family; and the poignant divide between one’s best hopes and most common deeds. The family characters his readers love are all here, as well as the unique terrain they inhabit, strewn with comic landmines. ‘The Rooster’ is back, and getting married in the funniest wedding ever described. David attends a slumber party and gets the upper hand in a unique version of strip poker. ‘Rubber or plastic?’ The strangest questions can tear people apart. A skinny guy from Spain, wearing a bishop’s hat and accompanied by six to eight men, invades your house and pretends to kick you. Is this any way to spend Christmas? With this new book, Sedaris’s prose reaches breathtaking new heights and marks off a territory that is unmistakably his own. Read it and weep tears of humane laughter.

Psychos – John Skipp (Editor)
Genre – Horror

This collection of thirty-five terrifying tales of serial killers at large, written by the great masters of the genre, plumbs the horrifying depths of a deranged mind and the forces of evil that compel a human being to murder, gruesomely and methodically, over and over again.

From Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs) to Patrick Bateman (American Psycho), stories of serial killers and psychos loom large and menacing in our collective psyche. Tales of their grisly conquests have kept us cowering under the covers, but still turning the pages.

Psychos is the first book to collect in a single volume the scariest and most well-crafted fictional works about these deranged killers. Some of the stories are classics, the best that the genre has to offer, by renowned writers such as Neil Gaiman, Jack Ketchum, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch, and Thomas Harris. Other selections are from the latest and most promising crop of new authors.

The Thief Review

Genre: Young Adult

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner is a fantasy novel about a thief named Gen. The story begins with Gen in the king’s prison where he has been locked up for bragging about stealing from the king. As Gen tries to figure out how he will escape, the king’s scholar, the magus, has other plans for him.

The magus believes he knows where an ancient treasure is located. Since Gen claims he can steal anything, the magus enlists him as the thief who will steal the treasure. Gen’s intentions are unclear, but he agrees to help the magus. As they travel, they tell tales of old gods and goddesses to lighten the mood of their dangerous journey.

For a fantasy novel, The Thief is a quick read. It’s surprising how much description was in this 280 page book. Even though it’s relatively short, it doesn’t lack in the fantasy department. The world is effectively built and explained to the reader. The characters are developed and fit into the world well. While the story can be slow at times, it’s mostly fast-paced with lots of events taking place.

There’s good characterization within the novel, especially Gen. He’s a character that’s hard to figure out at first. Gen is quite arrogant, but for me, he’s able to embrace his obnoxiousness enough to make him likable. It’s shocking to find out what his true intentions are. I never guessed what he actually wanted from the whole journey until it was revealed at the end. The character development is done well and made me enjoy the secondary characters more. As they travel, each person reveals more about himself, making each of them seem more real. I liked the banter between Gen and the magus because it provided some entertaining conversations. While Gen is cocky, the magus is able to counter him every time he attempts to brag.

The Thief is a fast and fun read. There are some slow moments, but the story is never hindered by these parts. The characters are well-developed and play important roles that add to the novel. The story’s climax is unexpected but rewarding. I would recommend this as a good introductory book to the fantasy genre. I’ve read that the second book, The Queen of Attolia, is even better, so I’m excited to read about more adventures in this world.

My Rating: ★★★★

As some may have noticed, I haven’t posted a TBR in a while. It has been quite a busy month for me, but I seem to be back on track now. I finished reading This Song Will Save Your Life, but I haven’t finished Geek Love yet. I’m going to complete it this week. I did manage to finish Emotional Blackmail. I’ll have reviews for all of these in my monthly wrap-up. Here are the books I will be reading this week:

The Way of Shadows – Brent Weeks
Genre – Fantasy

From New York TimesBestselling author Brent Weeks…

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

 

The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan
Genre – Young Adult/Horror

In Mary’s world there are simple truths.
The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

*Descriptions taken from Goodreads.

I’ve been meaning to read The Way of Shadows for a long time. I started reading it and enjoyed it, but I ended up putting it down and never picked it up again. However, I really want to read this trilogy. I’ve heard great things about it, and Chad loves it, so I want to read it. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a part of a trilogy as well, and I’ve heard good things about it. I’m excited for both of these books.

May 2014 Movie Haul

Here are all the movies that Chad and I bought over the weekend. This haul consists of mostly DVDs, except for three VHS. Some of the movies we have seen and loved and others are ones that are new to both of us. Hopefully, some of these will show up in my wrap-up at the end of the month.

*All descriptions taken from IMDb.

Sleepy Hollow
Rating – R

Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.

Director: Tim Burton

Writers: Washington Irving (story), Kevin Yagher (screen story)

Stars: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson

 

Knowing
Rating – PG-13

M.I.T. professor John Koestler links a mysterious list of numbers from a time capsule to past and future disasters and sets out to prevent the ultimate catastrophe.

Directed by Alex Proyas

Writers: Ryne Douglas Pearson (screenplay), Juliet Snowden (screenplay)

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne

 

Minority Report
Rating – PG-13

In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Philip K. Dick (short story), Scott Frank (screenplay)

Stars: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton

 

Jerry Seinfeld: “I’m Telling You For the Last Time”
TV Special

Live from New York City, Jerry Seinfeld, aided and abetted by a host of friends and fellow comedians, performs his 1998 Emmy-nominated performance on Broadway.

Director: Marty Callner

Writer: Jerry Seinfeld

Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Barryte, Grace Bustos

 

Devil’s Advocate
Rating – R

A hotshot lawyer gets more than he bargained for when he learns his new boss is Lucifer himself.

Director: Taylor Hackford

Writers: Andrew Neiderman (novel), Jonathan Lemkin (screenplay)

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron

 

Die Hard
Rating – R

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro and several others, taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan

Writers: Roderick Thorp (novel), Jeb Stuart (screenplay)

Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

 

Desperado
Rating – R

A gunslinger is embroiled in a war with a local drug runner.

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Robert Rodriguez

Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida

 

 

Hero
Rating – PG-13

A not-so-nice man rescues passengers from a crashed airliner, only to see someone else take credit.

Director: Stephen Frears

Writers: Laura Ziskin (story), Alvin Sargent (story)

Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis, Andy Garcia

 

 

Agent Cody Banks
Rating – PG

A government agent trains Cody Banks in the ways of covert operations that require younger participants.

Director: Harald Zwart

Writers: Ashley Miller (screenplay), Zack Stentz (screenplay)

Stars: Frankie Muniz, Hilary Duff, Andrew Francis

 

Waterworld
Rating – PG-13

In a future where the polar ice caps have melted and most of Earth is underwater, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw “smokers,” and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.

Directors: Kevin Reynolds, Kevin Costner (uncredited)

Writers: Peter Rader, David Twohy

Stars: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper

 

The Pebble and the Penguin
Rating – G

A lovable but introverted penguin named Hubie plans to present his betrothal pebble to the bird of his dreams.

Directors: Don Bluth (uncredited) , Gary Goldman (uncredited)

Writers: Rachel Koretsky (screenplay), Steven Whitestone (screenplay)

Stars: Martin Short, James Belushi, Annie Golden

 

The King and I
Rating – G

Traveling to the exotic kingdom of Siam, English Schoolteacher Anna Leonowens soon discovers that her most difficult challenge is the stubborn, imperious King himself.

Director: Richard Rich

Writers: Oscar Hammerstein II (adapted from the musical by), Arthur Rankin Jr. (conceived and adapted for animation)

Stars: Miranda Richardson, Martin Vidnovic, Christiane Noll

 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Rating – PG-13

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris

Genre: Young Adult

*I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

Casting Shadows Everywhere by L. T. Vargus is a thriller about a 15 year old boy named Jake. He has low self-esteem and considers himself weak and pathetic. He can’t bring himself to ask his dream girl Beth out on a date, and he is bullied at school. To change his life, he seeks out help from his cousin Nick, a professional burglar.

Nick takes Jake under his wing in an effort to help him become more confident. Unfortunately, Nick’s way of doing that is to break into people’s homes and steal valuables. Besides breaking into homes, Nick teaches Jake about his belief system that nothing is right or wrong. In the beginning, Nick’s ideas aid Jake in overcoming his “weakness” and allow him to stand up to his bullies. However, as time passes, Jake begins to get more aggressive, and he realizes that Nick has done more than just rob people.

This novel really surprised me. It’s written like journal entries without dates. The main character Jake is writing about his experiences with his cousin Nick and his friend Beth while including sections about his dreams and lessons from his psychology class. The writing style is interesting and fits with the tone of the story. Since it’s in Jake’s point of view, the writing can be crude at times, and there is some strong language, but it adds to the realness of the story and makes it believable.

All of the characters are well-developed and have unique personalities. Jake has a hard time standing up for himself and has a lot of self-doubt. He knows that Nick isn’t the best role model, but Nick is the closest thing Jake has to a father figure. He enjoys learning about psychology and relates everything back to his every day life. Nick, on the other hand, has a dark philosophy that he lives by and teaches Jake. Nick doesn’t believe in right and wrong. He only believes in events that have no meaning. Burglary doesn’t bother him, and once the twist is introduced, the reader finds out that robbing people isn’t the only thing Nick is okay with doing. Another important character is Beth. She has her own problems that she has to deal with in the story. She’s a smart girl with a lot of helpful advice for Jake about being able to change yourself for the better.

While there are some slow points, the novel is pretty fast-paced and full of twists. The twists in this story are some of my favorites of the year. They’re not predictable and are a nice addition to the plot. They fit in with the overall story and make sense for where the novel was headed. I’m sure all of the twists will shock a lot of readers. I know I was pretty shocked while reading. The ending is a nice wrap up and fits the tone of the story.

Casting Shadows Everywhere is not an every day young adult novel. While there are some crude moments and strong language, there are some meaningful themes throughout that make the reader think. The characters are unique additions to the story, and the twists keep the reader guessing at every turn. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys surprises and interesting characters within their stories.

My Rating:  ★★★★

May 2014 Book Haul

*I wanted to apologize for hardly posting anything this past week. It’s been kind of crazy, and I’ve been super busy. I promise to get back on track.*

It’s been an entire month since I’ve posted a book haul. It’s amazing that I haven’t bought any until now. I have quite a few books to show today. The book fair opened up again, so I ended up buying books this weekend. Afterwards, Chad and I went to thrift shops and a pawn shop and bought some books and movies. I’ll have a movie haul up on Wednesday of this week. On another note, I won a Goodreads Giveaway recently for an ARC of The Fever by Megan Abbott. I’ll have a bit more information about the book in this haul.

*All descriptions taken from Goodreads.

Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel – Richelle Mead
Genre – Young Adult/Paranormal

After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It’s filled with intrigue, danger—and even romance.

Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.

Willow – Julia Hoban
Genre – Young Adult/Romance

Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow’s parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it–Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.

Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself.

And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow’s secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she’s created for herself, and into a difficult, intense, and potentially life-changing relationship.

Julia Hoban has created an unflinching story about cutting, grieving, and starting anew. But above all, she has written an unforgettable tale of first love.

Folly – Marthe Jocelyn
Genre – Young Adult/Historical Fiction

Three fates intertwine in this moving and passionate love story set in Victorian London.

Mary Finn: country girl, maid to a lord in London

Caden Tucker: liar, scoundrel, and heart’s delight

James Nelligan: age six, tossed into a herd of boys

When Mary Finn falls into the arms of handsome Caden Tucker, their frolic changes the course of her life. What possesses her? She’s been a girl of common sense until now. Mary’s tale alternates with that of young James Nelligan, a new boy in an enormous foundling home.

In Folly, Marthe Jocelyn’s breathtaking command of language, detail, and character brings Victorian London to life on every page, while the deep emotions that illuminate this fascinating novel about life-changing moments are as current as today’s news.

Anger: Taming the Beast – Reneau Z. Peurifoy
Genre – Non-Fiction

DON’T LET ANGER CONTROL YOU

If you or someone you love is experiencing difficulty coping with their anger, this useful and practical book is the first place to turn to for help. With its clear, evenhanded approach, this book will show you

o Why you handle anger the way you do, and how to change
o How to manage anger in positive ways
o When anger is a fitting response
o How to express anger appropriately and effectively
o How to handle frustration and resolve conflicts
o How best to cope with stress, embarrassment, and shame

Whether you have an explosive temper or are brooding over suppressed anger, the questionnaires, step-by-step exercises, and strategies outlined in Anger: Taming the Beast will teach you how to change the way you experience and express anger. You will learn how to speak up strongly and effectively, set limits and say no to unreasonable demands, and relate your feelings to others without losing your cool.

Emotional Blackmail – Susan Forward with Donna Frazier
Genre – Non-Fiction

Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win the pay-off they want: our compliance.

In Emotional Blackmail, bestselling author Susan Forward dissects the anatomy of a relationship damaged by manipulation to give blackmail targets the tools they need to fight back. In a clear, no-nonsense style, she outlines the specific steps readers can take, offering checklists, practice scenarios, and concrete communications techniques that will strengthen relationships and break the blackmail cycle for good.

Clockwork Princess – Cassandra Clare
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy

Tessa Gray should be happy—aren’t all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, will do anything to save her.

 

The Fever – Megan Abbott
Genre – Young Adult/Horror

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire,The Fever affirms Megan Abbot’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation” (Laura Lippman).

Songs of Love and Death – Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, Jim Butcher, etc.
Genre – Fantasy/Short Stories

In this star-studded cross-genre anthology, seventeen of the greatest modern authors of fantasy, science fiction, and romance explore the borderlands of their genres with brand-new tales of ill-fated love. From zombie-infested woods in a postapocalyptic America to faery-haunted rural fields in eighteenth- century England, from the kingdoms of high fantasy to the alien world of a galaxy-spanning empire, these are stories of lovers who must struggle against the forces of magic and fate.

Award-winning, bestselling author Neil Gaiman demonstrates why he’s one of the hottest stars in literature today with The Thing About Cassandra a subtle but chilling story of a man who meets an old girlfriend he had never expected to see.

International blockbuster bestselling author Diana Gabaldon sends a World War II RAF pilot through a stone circle to the time of her Outlander series in A Leaf on the Winds of All Hallows. Torn from all he knows, Jerry MacKenzie determinedly survives hardship and danger, intent on his goal of returning home to his wife and baby, no matter the cost.

New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher presents Love Hurts, in which Harry Dresden takes on one of his deadliest adversaries and in the process is forced to confront the secret desires of his own heart.

Just the smallest sampling promises unearthly delights, but look also for stories by New York Times bestselling romance authors Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, and by such legends of the fantasy genre as Peter S. Beagle and Tanith Lee, as well as many other popular and beloved writers, including Marjorie M. Liu, Jacqueline Carey, Carrie Vaughn, and Robin Hobb. This exquisite anthology, crafted by the peerless editing team of George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, is sure to leave you under its spell.

The Killing Club – Marcie Walsh with Michael Malone
Genre – Mystery

Over a decade ago in the small town of Gloria, New Jersey, feisty, red-headed outcast Jamie Ferrara and eleven friends from Gloria Hart High School started a club. They would come up with ingenious ways to kill people they didn’t like – pretty much everybody they knew – and write down these “pretend” murders in a Death Book. Calling themselves the Killing Club, the group of misfits voted on who was most likely to get away with their imaginary murders. It was harmless fun, or so they thought.

Now, more than a decade later, Detective Sergeant Jamie Ferrara of the Gloria Police Department, has a homicide investigation on her hands. The victim is Ben Tymosz, one of her fellow Killing Club members. And worse, Ben’s death is an exact replica of a “murder” once dreamed up in the club. Jamie’s boss (her fiance, Rod) is sure the death is just a ghoulish accident. But when the club reunites for Ben’s funeral, the unimaginable happens: another murder, another Killing Club member dead, another crime copied from the Death Book.

Soon, Jamie is getting death threats – anonymous notes with details only those in the club would know. Someone is targeting the Killing Club, and all signs point to one of their own. Jamie’s oldest friends turn into suspects. In a race against time, Jamie must separate her teenage memories from her hardened cop’s instincts and find the killer – by learning dark secrets at the heart of the Killing Club – before everyone in the group is dead, including Jamie.

Carniepunk – Rachel Caine, Jennifer Estep, Kevin Hearne, etc.
Genre – Fantasy/Short Stories

The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town. It is a place of contradictions—the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker’s seductive call. It is a place of illusion—is that woman’s beard real? How can she live locked in that watery box?

And while many are tricked by sleight of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on. One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show. To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns—or maybe some magic of one’s own.

Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed,Carniepunkis the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic.

Thirst No. 1 – Christopher Pike
Genre – Young Adult/Paranormal

Includes:
The Last Vampire
Black Blood
Red Dice

As to blood –ah, blood, the whole subject fascinates me. I do like that as well, warm and dripping, when I am thirsty….

Alisa has been in control of her urges for the five thousand years she has been a vampire. She feeds but does not kill, and she lives her life on the fringe to maintain her secret. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must break her own rules in order to survive.

Her quest leads her to Ray. He is the only person who can help her; he also has every reason to fear her. Alisa must get closer to him to ensure her immortality. But as she begins to fall in love with Ray, suddenly there is more at stake than her own life….

Death Match – Lincoln Child
Genre – Thriller/Mystery

Everyone’s looking for the perfect match, a life-long partner, and Lewis and Lindsay Thorpe have found theirs, thanks to hi-tech matchmaker Eden Inc. But when the happy couple’s life together ends in what looks like a double suicide, Eden Inc. has some explaining to do. So they hire forensic psychologist Christopher Lash to figure out what went wrong. And then another perfect match ends in death…

 

 

 

We Are the Goldens Review

Genre: Young Adult

*I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt is a contemporary novel about two sisters named Nell and Layla. The sisters have had a close bond that only grew stronger once their parents divorced. There seems to be nothing that can come between them until Nell finds out a secret about Layla that could destroy everything.

Nell adores her older sister. She and Layla have always been one unit, both relying on the other, but Layla begins changing. Nell discovers that Layla is in a relationship with one of the teachers, and she tries to support Layla’s decision, but she is torn between her sister’s happiness and her own feelings that the relationship is wrong. Nell must decide what she will choose to do before it’s too late.

The writing style is different in We Are the Goldens. It’s in first person, but Nell speaks directly to the reader as if she is talking to her sister Layla. She will state things like “do you remember the time we did this” or “mom and dad were mad at us about that” (not direct quotes from novel). I’m not used to the narrator speaking directly to me as if I was one of the characters, but it worked well for the story. It adds a unique voice to the narration and makes the reader feel more connected to Nell.

Nell looks up to Layla and wants to be more like her in every way. While I understand that Nell admires Layla, Nell did seem a bit “obsessed” with her sister at times. Although I didn’t fully understand Nell’s “obsession” with Layla, I did appreciate their relationship. It would be nice to have a bond with someone from birth and to have him/her be there for you during tough times. Though Layla was quite annoying at times, the way the characters were portrayed made them realistic, and I could believe that this family existed. When the secret is revealed, Nell only wants what is best for her sister.

There is a focus on character interaction that helps make the plot engaging. It’s easy to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. I enjoy that the secret was already explained, so there is more time spent on figuring out what Nell should do next. The characterization is nice throughout the novel, and it’s interesting to learn more about each character. The ending is left open-ended for the reader to decide what truly happens next. Even though I wanted a little more closure, I liked how it ended.

We Are the Goldens focuses on a bond between two sisters. It’s a fast-paced story that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens to Nell and Layla. The characters are believable and make for a really interactive and enjoyable story. The writing style is different than other young adult novels, but it added to the plot. It’s a well-rounded story that I would recommend. We Are the Goldens is still available on Netgalley, if anyone wants to read it before the publication date May 27th, 2014.

My Rating: ★★★★

April was a fantastic month for me! I read eleven books and watched seven “new” movies. Most of these movies were not new releases, but they were new to me. I’m surprised I did this well. It’s really exciting, and now, I know that it’s possible for me to read a bunch of books at once.

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

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Genre – Science Fiction
My Rating – ★★★★

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Review: I have a full review for Ready Player One on my blog. Overall, Ready Player One is an enjoyable read. There are plenty of 80’s references to satisfy anyone’s need for nostalgia. While there are a few issues, the novel is entertaining and keeps the reader wanting to find out what happens next. The finale is intense and should be quite fulfilling for most readers. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is looking for a unique story.

Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow – Katy Towell
Genre – Children/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★

Twelve years ago, for 12 days straight, the town of Widowsbury suffered a terrible storm, which tore open a gate through which escaped all sorts of foul, rotten things. Strange things and strange people were no longer welcomed in Widowsbury, for one could never be sure of what secrets waited under the surface . . .

Adelaide Foss, Maggie Borland, and Beatrice Alfred are known by their classmates at Widowsbury’s Madame Gertrude’s School for Girls as “scary children.” Unfairly targeted because of their peculiarities—Adelaide has an uncanny resemblance to a werewolf, Maggie is abnormally strong, and Beatrice claims to be able to see ghosts—the girls spend a good deal of time isolated in the school’s inhospitable library facing detention. But when a number of people mysteriously begin to disappear in Widowsbury, the girls work together, along with Steffen Weller, son of the cook at Rudyard School for Boys, to find out who is behind the abductions. Will they be able to save Widowsbury from a 12-year-old curse?

Review: Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrow is an interesting story. While there are very stereotypical characters such as the overly mean head mistress or the almost too sweet librarian, it has enjoyable main characters that are unique in their own ways. The plot was entertaining, and I loved the spooky aspect of the story. The villain is predictable, but it was fun to see the girls solving the mystery of the missing people. The novel is definitely targeted at younger audiences, and it won’t be for everyone but children should enjoy it.

The Archived – Victoria Schwab
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★★

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what she once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

Review: When I first started reading The Archived, I felt extremely confused. I kept thinking Da was Mackenzie’s father and had to go back to reread certain parts. There did seem to be a lot of information given to the reader at the beginning of the story to explain the world, but once it gets passed the first chapter or so, the story picks up. Even though the novel had a shaky start, I liked the world building. Everything felt as though it could exist. The story has a nice mystery theme throughout. Although the villains are predictable, it has likable characters and an engaging world.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone – Laini Taylor
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★★

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone is beautifully written. The story and the world are so well-crafted with some great characters. Each character has a distinct personality. It’s easy to have characters blend together in some stories, but Taylor has a way of describing them that makes them stand out. They are unique and different from the rest. There is a large focus on the romance in the story with the two characters, mainly, pointing out that the other was very attractive. Near the end, when everything is being explained, the story was sort of sluggish, and I wished the unraveling was placed at a different part of the novel. However, it didn’t take away from the story. I’m excited to read the next one.

Red Dragon – Thomas Harris
Genre – Horror
My Rating – ★★★★

In the realm of psychological suspense, Thomas Harris stands alone. Exploring both the nature of human evil and the nerve-racking anatomy of a forensic investigation, Harris unleashes a frightening vision of the dark side of our well-lighted world. In this extraordinary novel, which precededThe Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, Harris introduced the unforgettable character Dr. Hannibal Lecter. And in it, Will Graham — the FBI man who hunted Lecter down — risks his sanity and his life to duel a killer called the … RED DRAGON.

Review: Red Dragon was a nice introduction to the Hannibal world. Even though Hannibal is barely in this novel, it’s entertaining to read. The characters were realistic. There was a lot of characterization that really made the story. Although I didn’t like Will’s side of the story, getting inside his mind was cool, and I liked his meeting with Hannibal. I loved learning about the Red Dragon and his past. He was an interesting character, and it’s possible to even feel sorry for him at some points in the novel. I enjoyed the writing style and the plot. I’m excited to read The Silence of the Lambs, and I want to learn more about Hannibal since readers only get a tease of him in this novel. I want to finish reading the books before I watch the movies, but the Red Dragon movie is getting harder to resist watching every day.

The Moth in the Mirror – A. G. Howard
Genre – Young Adult/Fantasy
My Rating – ★★★½

An original ebook-only novella in the Splintered series, told from the points of view of both Jeb and Morpheus. Morpheus wants to know more about his rival for Alyssa’s affections, so he digs into Jeb’s memories of his time in Wonderland. But he may be surprised by what he finds.

This brand-new story and perspective from A.G. Howard’s dark, magical world stands alone, but also provides a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come in Unhinged, the sequel to Splintered.

Review: I’m glad I read this novella because it helped me understand Jeb better. Of course, he still isn’t my favorite character (Team Morpheus!). I felt that this helped explain what Jeb thought of Alyssa and how he only wanted to protect her, instead of control her, which is how it seemed in the first book. I did wish there were more moments with Morpheus, but I will settle with what I got until I read the second book, Unhinged. I really need to buy Unhinged soon, so I can continue reading. Plus, I just found out it’s going to be a trilogy!

The Broken – Shelley Coriell
Genre – Romance/Thriller
My Rating – ★★★

He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim—and only survivor—of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .

Review: Full review for The BrokenThe Broken was an entertaining read. The characters were likable and provided some great moments in the novel. There were some problems I had with the plot, but I did end up liking the overall story. The killer was not the best or most memorable, but the plot was enjoyable. I would recommend this book. I will most likely be picking up the second book The Buried because it tells Hatch’s story. The synopsis sounds really interesting, and I’ll get it when it’s released later this year.

We Are the Goldens – Dana Reinhardt
Genre – Young Adult/Contemporary
My Rating – ★★★★

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

Review: I’m planning on a having a full review of this up tomorrow. The writing style is different in We Are the Goldens. Nell is speaking directly to the reader as if she is talking to her sister Layla. Although I didn’t fully understand the “obsession” with the older sister, I did appreciate Nell and Layla’s relationship. Nell looked up to Layla, and Nell only wanted what was best for her sister. The characters are realistic and the plot is engaging. It makes you keep reading to find out what happens next. We Are the Goldens is still available on Netgalley, if anyone wants to read it before the publication date May 27th, 2014.

Red Bang – Brandt Monroe
Genre – Fiction
My Rating – ★★★★

Adam Murphy is a Hollywood screenwriter who has clearly lost his way. His wife, Jess, is a Los Angeles publicist who just lost her job. With the bills mounting and nowhere to turn in the City of Angels, Adam takes a chance on a complete life reboot – taking a job in Seattle at a billion-dollar, Fortune 500 technology behemoth and bringing his family along for the ride.

While working at The Company is a gloriously heady, benefit-laden playground for today’s smartest minds, Adam quickly realizes he has descended into a foreign land where the language, customs and politics will either make him stronger or cause a meltdown of epic proportions. Faced with a ‘win or fail’ attitude, Adam must find a way to deliver an innovative new product, defeat his political nemesis, align with a mysterious Company founder, and save his wife from a weather-induced depression all before The Company finds out he has no idea what he’s doing.

Inspired by the unbelievable things that go on behind closed doors of America’s largest companies, and bolstered by a warm-hearted, humorous look at one family’s fight against a Stepford-like culture, RED BANG will take you on a hilarious journey into the ridiculous hive mind of today’s tech giants.

Review: Full review for Red BangRed Bang has relatable characters and takes place in a realistic world. I enjoyed watching Adam develop through the story. While the story is based off of real life companies and products, it refrains from being predictable and has a satisfying ending. If you’re looking for an interesting story with lots of real-world references, you should definitely check out Red Bang. You won’t be disappointed!

Casting Shadows Everywhere – L. T. Vargus
Genre – Young Adult/Thriller
My Rating – ★★★★

In his own words, 15 year old Jake is a “huge pussy.” He flinches. Always. He’s too timid to make a move on Beth, the buxom girl of his dreams, and too busy getting face-slammed into lockers by bullies to do much else. He seeks the guidance of the biggest badass he knows, his cousin Nick.

Nick is a professional burglar and makes Jake his apprentice. They stalk suburban neighborhoods night after night, ransacking houses for jewelry and sweet valuables. Nick teaches Jake the finer points of breaking and entering along with his dark philosophy – that there is no right or wrong in the world, just a series of events that happen without meaning.

At first, adopting Nick’s callous worldview helps Jake get over his fears and confront his tormentors, but he also unleashes an aggression in himself he never thought possible. And as he learns more about his cousin, he realizes that Nick’s crimes go way beyond burglary.

In the end, Jake must face not only the monster in his cousin but also the one in his own heart.

Review: I’m planning on doing a full review of this novel as well. Casting Shadows Everywhere really surprised me. I, honestly, was not expecting to like the story as much as I did. The novel is written like journal entries without dates. The main character Jake is writing about his experiences with his cousin Nick and his friend Beth. It is crude at times, and there is some strong language, but it adds to the realness of the story. I loved the ending, and I’m sure all of the twists will shock a lot of readers. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys surprises and interesting characters within their stories.

Trapped – Michael Northrop
Genre – Young Adult/Survival
My Rating – ★

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . .

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . . .

Review: This was such a disappointing story. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy anything about Trapped. I wish I did because I was looking forward to a survival story, but it didn’t impress me. The characters were flat and some were hard to distinguish from each other. A lot of unimportant events were talked about such as going to the bathroom. I don’t need to know when and where the characters go to the bathroom. One explanation would have been fine, but it was discussed at a lot of different points in the story. Scotty even talks about his zit on more than one occasion. This mainly seemed to show that he was a teenager and had no other reason to be there. The novel had no surprises. Since Scotty says that not everyone survives at the beginning of the story, it’s easy to tell who doesn’t make it as soon as they are put in a life or death situation. The ending was unsatisfying, and it left so much unresolved. I normally can handle an ending with some unexplained events, but it felt as though some chapters were ripped out. It was a frustrating read, and I don’t recommend it.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Rating – R
My Rating – ★★★★★

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Review: What an amazing movie! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. While the movie was playing, I was trying to get some work done, but I ended up focusing all my attention on the film. It’s a pretty long movie at 161 minutes, but it doesn’t seem like it. No events drag on, and every scene has a purpose that adds to the story. All of the characters were fantastic and had great characterization. That ending! I was on the edge of my seat while the confrontation was happening. I was constantly asking Chad what was going to happen. Of course, he wouldn’t tell me, so I was even more anxious. This was such a incredible movie, and I can’t believe it has taken me this long to finally watch it. I would highly recommend this!

Planet of the Dinosaurs
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★

A space-ship gets lost and is forced to make an emergency landing on an unknown planet. The planet looks much like Earth, only with no trace of civilization. Soon the crew discovers that there are dinosaurs on the planet, and blood-thirsty buggers at that. The crew hopes to be found and rescued, but they have to struggle to survive until then.

Review: Chad and I did a full review on Planet of the Dinosaurs. My review was especially silly because I felt it matched the movie. Planet of the Dinosaurs is far from a well-made movie, and it’s quite terrible at some moments. If you do plan to watch it, just be aware that you will most likely laugh. A lot. It’s one of those films where it’s so bad, it’s funny. Of course, it’s unintentional, but we enjoyed ourselves while watching.

Cannonball Run II
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★

The original characters from the first Cannonball movie race across the country once more in various cars and trucks.

Review: This was such a disappointing film. After loving The Cannonball Run, I was looking forward to the second installment. I’m used to sequels not being as good as the first, but this was not even close to the original. There were a ton more famous celebrities involved, and it took away from the story because everyone had to have a longer amount of time on screen. A lot of these characters were pointless and the scenes were even more pointless. It mostly felt like the creators were like “let’s see how many famous people we can shove into one movie.”  The plot was lacking and about half way through, it completely changed into something else. I know that it was probably just a movie for fun, but I would recommend The Cannonball Run for that. It’s an entertaining movie while maintaining plot and characters. Overall, Cannonball Run II is worth skipping.

The Nut Job
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★

An incorrigibly self-serving exiled squirrel finds himself helping his former park brethren raid a nut store to survive, that is also the front for a human gang’s bank robbery.

Review: When I first saw advertisements for The Nut Job, I didn’t have high hopes for it. However, I decided to give it a try. Sadly, it was not impressive. It’s not a very unique story and the characters are generic. There is not much for an adult to enjoy, but I’m sure children will like it. It’s a pretty straightforward plot and doesn’t have too many surprises. There is supposed to be a sequel to this movie coming out in 2016, so some people must have enjoyed it.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Rating – PG-13
My Rating – ★★★★

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

Review: This sequel was quite entertaining. I really enjoyed getting to know the dwarves more, and I liked watching Bilbo grow as a character. It’s full of action and fast-paced scenes. There were some moments where the plot dragged on but that will happen when you make three movies based off of one book. I’m looking forward to the third installment of The Hobbit that is supposed to come out in December of this year.

Top Secret!
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★★★

Parody of WWII spy movies in which an American rock and roll singer becomes involved in a Resistance plot to rescue a scientist imprisoned in East Germany.

Review: I really enjoy parodies. Anything that pokes fun at something while also being witty and educated about the source material is always entertaining for me. Top Secret! was a fun movie. The movie combines spy movies and musicals that featured Elvis. Every scene is filled with something funny, and it’s easy to find yourself laughing out loud during some. This was also Val Kilmer’s first feature film so that’s always interesting to know.

Airplane!
Rating – PG
My Rating – ★★★★

An airplane crew takes ill. Surely the only person capable of landing the plane is an ex-pilot afraid to fly. But don’t call him Shirley.

Review: I figured since I watched Top Secret!, I might as well watch Airplane!. This is also a pretty hilarious parody movie directed by the same guys who directed Top Secret!. I enjoyed the random moments or the scenes where the character would look at the camera as if the character knows he/she is in a movie and goes along with it anyway. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to have a fun time while watching. Just don’t eat the fish.