Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Surprise In My Mailbox [13] IT CAME!

Normally I do my IMM posts over the weekend, but I just couldn't wait!
I'm so excited - a package came for me yesterday and I knew immediately who it was from! Getting a package, by the way, is an amazing feeling, yes?!

Thank you so much Razorbill/Penguin for...

The Replacement - Brenna Yovanoff
and thank you also for sending
The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller
Virals - Kathy Reichs

Can't wait to read!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

3rd WONDROUS STRANGE has a name, cover!


Got home from work today and noticed that Wondrous Strange #3 is now called Tempestuous. Very cool - I can definitely see the Shakespearean theme!

And look at the pretty cover design!










Tempestuous
is scheduled to be released January 7, 2011.

Teaser Tuesday: FORGIVE MY FINS

As always, Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB @ Should be Reading.Here's how it works: Grab the current book you're reading- Open up to a random page- share a little "teaser" from somewhere on that page.***Make sure your section is spoiler free!!
Here's my teaser from Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs:

"I pop back above water. 'What's wrong?'
'Kiss me.'
'What?!'
That's what got us into this mess in the first place.
'Kiss me,' he repeats, stepping closer. 'I trust you, but what do I know? If this is going to be my last breath, I want it to be a good one.'"

-
Forgive My Fins, pg 85

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In My Mailbox [12] & What Am I Reading?

Thank you to Cari for the swap! I'm looking forward to reading about a too-good-to-be-true boy!
:)

Right now, I'm reading

though I haven't started it yet.

Up next will probably be

Long live school librarians!



I got an email with this video in it - all I can say is, I wish my school librarian had been this cool!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

2 more months

It would have made more sense if I'd posted this on Thursday, but we've got 2 months (less than 2 months now!) until Mockingjay hits stores!

I just preordered mine a few minutes ago :) Can't go wrong with amazon
I'm probably the only person in the whole reading universe who hasn't read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire yet, but I know I will love them! I just know it. It's one of those "when you wish upon a star" things that's just certain. Why? Because of all the reliable feedback. For me, my beta-book testers are my brothers Hayden and Hutton (who used to read a lot but sadly don't much anymore), my cousin Kirby, and my roommate Lindsey. Oh, and Juju from Tales of Whimsy.

So...only 2 more months to go! It seems like just yesterday the pretty baby-blue cover was revealed. :)
Who's preordered their copies? Who's going to be busting through the doors on August 24th to grab a copy? And I haven't heard of any, but is anyone going to a release party?

2 more months!

Through a Lens: Danielle!


This week I have Danielle from There's a Book and Chicklit Reviews with me! Her sites are awesome, by the way, so if you get a chance, stop by!

Do you have character crushes? List as many as you want!
This is terrible...I only have two that I can think of right away. Captain Gray from Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien, just so much mystery there. And without a doubt Eric Northman from the Sookie Stackhouse books, just perfect!

If you could be any book character, who would you be?
Clary from The Mortal Instruments series, she's strong and has incredible skills. A definite favorite of mine.

If you could live in a fictional world, where would you live?
In Alicante from City of Glass, it just always seemed so peaceful and beautiful and now with so much diversity. It sounds perfect.

Is there a book/series that everyone seems to have read but you?
The Vampire Academy series, I've wanted to, but just can't seem to find the time.


Which book[s] make you cry?
The Half Blood Prince in the Harry Potter series had me balling like a baby for hours.

Which book[s] make you laugh?
I just finished reading Leaving Unknown by Kerry Reichs and it had me laughing so hard I woke my husband up reading it one night. For an every time I need a good laugh - The Sookie Books/True Blood - Charlaine Harris has perfect timing!

Have you ever been unable to finish a book?
Yep, just one that really sticks out - it was a nightmare - and unfortunately the beginning of my distaste for a certain type of book which I won't mention.

What book did you like when you were a kid?
Socks by Beverly Cleary, I think I read it so many times the cover fell off my paperback copy.

Any cool/funny reading habits or quirks?
I prefer to have music playing while reading and actually read about twice as fast if it is. Unfortunately, no else in my house appreciates this except my one year old daughter, who loves music. My husband can't read unless it's silent.

When is your favorite time to read? Favorite place?
At night when everyone is asleep, I can listen to my iPod and read until I pass out. Just love it!

If you could hang out with an author for a day, who would it be?
Just one? Well, it would either be JK Rowling or JRR Tolkien. Both of their imaginations are incredible, I'd just love to see how they came up with it all and what a day would be like in their lives.

If you could adapt a book/series into a movie, it would be...
Without a doubt, The Hunger Games.

What is your favorite word?
Implode - What can I say?

What is your favorite book quote?
“You can want something more than you can say. That doesn’t ever mean it’s yours.” p.205 The Heart Is Not a Size by Beth Kephart - I'm not even sure I could describe what this quote means to me, but when I read it I immediately connected with it. I read over it often just so that I can remember the importance of the words Kephart wrote.

ONE WORD ANSWERS FOR...
Bestsellers
Oprah
Book blogs Friends
Vampires Tasty
Science fiction Invaders
Classics Sleeping
Harry Potter Brilliant

If you could recommend ONE BOOK to everyone, it would be...
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, It's a favorite from when I was little and even now as an adult it teaches me to appreciate all I have.

Thanks Danielle! The Giving Tree is one of my favorites, too!
If you'd like to be featured on TAL, leave a comment with your email. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

YA is funny sometimes...

This is pretty much a post expressing thoughts on the feedback I've gotten from The Dark Divine... As always, these are just my views, arbitrary as they may be.

I've seen it here on this blog and I've also seen it on my goodreads and on other reviews, and now I've talked to 2 people in real life who have echoed this - but apparently The Dark Divine has received negative/mixed reviews. In my own snide mind, I can just take a wild guess as to why. And it just makes me shake my head and want to post my TDD review over and over again, if only to get the word out. Despite what it may seem, I do not like writing negative reviews, so it makes me giddy with glee to write positive ones. And lately, I've had the chance to do that a lot (Sabriel, TDD, Eyes Like Stars, Wildwood Dancing).
So now I come to my obvious thesis: YA is funny sometimes. It really is. It is completely beyond me that a book like The Dark Divine would get mixed and negative reviews. I really, REALLY do not see it. Yet other books like Hush Hush, The Iron King, Tithe and Bleeding Violet (to name a few) generally get glowing reviews, which read more like endorsements. It's just funny sometimes. Seriously, I would find the opposite true. Have you ever felt like you were in the minority on a certain book? On a more lighthearted side, I get that a lot with Twilight, haha! Somebody actually said to me on goodreads "I bet you're one of those Twilight fans" as if that was some kind of pejorative.

I love YA, it's definitely (along with MG) the main genre that I read, but it sure can be funny sometimes. I think it's funny the types of things that readers will let an author get away with in a book, or the things they don't mind reading, and the things that readers on the other hand don't like. Like I said, I must be missing out on something obvious, but I cannot think of anything that would warrant such negative reviews for TDD.
To each her own, I guess, but I just wanted to do a little pro-TDD post again and pose the question, because it sure seems awkward sometimes to feel like somehow you're missing or not getting something. Hmmm!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review - SABRIEL

Sabriel - Garth Nix
Genre: YA Fantasy; book 1 in the Abhorsen (US)/Old Kingdom (AUS) trilogy
# of pages: 311 (pb)
Publisher (US): Harper Collins
Recommended for: HS & beyond!
My Thoughts: WOW.
Sabriel completely took my breath away.
The fantasy elements were phenomenal: fun, interesting, and unique. So unique, in fact, that it took me a few chapters to wrap my mind around the world Nix created. It's not simply high fantasy, it's more of a parallel world: in one country, the culture seems to mirror an early-20th-century England, and in the other country seems to mirror a more medieval setting. So one culture has technology, the other has magic. Very, very cool!

As for the characters, Sabriel, Touchstone, and Mogget (a spirit who takes the form of a white cat) made an entertaining trio. Nix's characters are written with a great balance of emotion and action, though I will admit to wishing that the romance played a bigger role. (I know, what can I say? I like love stories...*facepalm*) I thoroughly enjoyed Sabriel - once again, a girl who's strong without being snarky. Touchstone was definitely my favorite character, mainly because I don't really see a lot of guys like him in fiction. So many YA love interests seem to have this inherent haughtiness, so it was neat to see a guy who (while not a wuss) struggled with fear and insecurity. It was really cool to watch him come to terms with his guilt and his past. And he's just so sweet!
And Mogget the cat was hilarious and just a little creepy. I tell you what, if he and Grimalkin from the Iron Fey series had a tomcat alley fight, Mogget would WIN. He fights dirty!
But man, oh man, the ACTION of Sabriel was just riveting! I really do think that the best way to write entertaining fantasy that keeps readers' interest is to have some kind of journey or quest. The characters and plot keep from getting stagnate by being in some kind of state of motion, both physically and mentally. And it's just edge-of-your-seat reading!

Final Grade:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Review - THE DARK DIVINE

The Dark Divine - Bree Despain
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
# of pages: 371 (ARC)
Publisher: Egmont
Amelia's Age-Level Recommendation: 13/14+
The Dark Divine @ Parental Book Reviews

My Thoughts:
Simply put, this book exceeded all my expectations.
YA is fun, but let's be honest: sometimes...it can be a little repetitive: you feel like you're reading slightly altered versions of the same story over and over. Ordinary girl meets dark, paranormal bad-boy and "complications" ensue. What kinds of complications? Well, usually the same ones.
In all honesty, The Dark Divine's formula is similar to other popular YA books out there, but there are so many aspects of the story that are very original. For example, authors have been using folk tales/fairytales, myths, and even other classic books as their inspiration for awhile, but this is the first one that I've read that is based off a parable. And Bree Despain's take on werewolves - which I'm sure we're all familiar with - is so INCREDIBLY original and actually makes sense! I remember thinking, "yeah, definitely! Why not?" Bravo, Mrs. Despain!

I don't mind sharing that I connected with this book on a personal level, too. I'm the granddaughter and niece of pastors, and I thought having a pastor's daughter for a main character was exceptionally refreshing. I connected with the Divine family and especially liked the idea of useful, responsible parent-figures. I think we can all agree that parent figures in YA are frequently absent, so it was nice to have helpful parent characters. Now, I do think that sometimes the Divine family was portrayed a little too...stereotypically... Grace and Jude are great characters, and I DO know boys like Jude, so no, I don't believe that he's "unrealistic" at all - but sometimes they both acted a little too contrived (my cousins are children of a pastor, and they do NOT spend their free time at food pantries, nor do they discuss clothing drives. Maybe they *should*, but...)But that one little mention is the only thing that I can think of to say about this book: aside from the Divine family's kind-of blatant portrayal, all the characters were very real, very well-rounded, and easy to relate to. For me, it's always a plus to have grounded, practical characters with values and a good head on their shoulders. Now Grace isn't perfect, and there is one point in the story in which she is swayed by popular opinion rather than rationality, but hey, no one is rational all the time. Jude is a really interesting character, too. At the beginning, he was a little too Richie Cunningham for me, but as the story progressed, he really turned interesting. As the Prodigal Son scenario played out, both he and Daniel became incredibly fun to explore.

Daniel and Grace's relationship was fun to read. It wasn't rushed, but it didn't beat around the bush; it wasn't abusive, it wasn't superficial, it wasn't inappropriate. Rather, I found Grace's devotion to Daniel and her (ultimate) willingness to help him (despite one brief stint of doubt and assumptions) very touching.

Even though this book really doesn't have a designated villain, the plot remained strong and interesting throughout, and the story was evenly paced and for me, never dragged. The Dark Divine was a fast read, but that's mainly because I was so engrossed, I could not put it down!

I really can't praise this book enough. Yes, there are religious elements in this story, and at times, it read like a Christian Fiction novel, (I don't read much of that particular genre, but I will admit that portions of the book read that way) but take it from me, this book is not one to miss. It's not CF, it's not designed to be CF, so please, PLEASE don't let that possibly dissuade you from giving this a try. If there's ever a YA book that I would recommend - besides Eyes Like Stars and Wildwood Dancing - it's The Dark Divine.


FINAL GRADE:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In My Mailbox [11]

Yay - this week I got a few books! My buying freeze is OVER!

Shipped
Sabriel - Garth Nix
Bookstore
Forgive My Fins - Tera Lynn Childs
Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Trade
The Dark Divine - Bree Despain
^^ thank you Natalie!

Upcoming Reviews
The Dark Divine

Currently Reading
Sabriel

Up Next
Probably Forgive My Fins

Has anyone read any of these titles? If so, what did you think?


Real quick...

I still have a few books left to swap! If you're interested at what titles I have, click on the link at the top of the page, under the Header :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Through a Lens: Meet Rae!

Today I have my buddy Rae with me. She's an awesome blogger who was kind enough to answer some of my questions! Visit her @ Goodreads or her blog!

If you could be any book character, who would you be?
hmmm...This is a tough one. Probably either Hermione Granger (she's smart and can kick your butt), Annabeth Chase (she's a child of Athena, so she's smart, and she's got mad skills. :) lolz), or Enna from the Books of Bayern (who wouldn't want to be able to 'talk' to fire and wind? of course, with great power comes great responsibility. :))

If you could live in a fictional world, where would you live?
hmmm....Bayern would be a nice place, though the world of Harry Potter would be great. :)

If you were organizing an art exhibit of book covers, which ones would you show?


Ever been scared/freaked out by a book villain?
only occasionally, and I have to be really into the book to get freaked out.

Is there a book/series that everyone seems to have read but you?
Not at this moment- I was gonna say the Book Thief by Markus Zusak, but I'm in the middle of reading it right now. :)

Which book[s] make you cry?
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. I got kinda depressed in New Moon when Edward left, but I didn't cry- I don't normally cry when I read.

Which book[s] make you laugh?
The entire Percy Jackson series, The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley--I could go on....

Have you ever been unable to finish a book?
sadly yes. I hate it, though I can't help not getting into a book- the author's writing style just doesn't pull me in.

What book did you like when you were a kid?
Ooo yay! an easy one! The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osbourne, The Babysitter Club by Ann m. Martin, and, of course, could I forget to mention Nancy Drew? (i still love to go back and reread all of these from time to time.)

Any cool/funny reading habits or quirks?
When I come to a funny part in a book/story, I can't just laugh (or appear to be able to), I have to set the book down and clap my hands while squealing- It's weird, I know. I've just always done that (since I can remember I mean.) According to my sister, when I get really into a book, I shush those around me. :)

When is your favorite time to read? Favorite place?
Fave time? whenever I'm not on Goodreads. though I have adopted the *principle* i guess you would say that I have to read before i go to bed to fall asleep.
Fave Place? the couch, in my room, pretty much anywhere really im not partial to one spot.
If you could hang out with an author for a day, who would it be?
hmm....Rick Riordan. He's my all-time favorite author, and he seems very humorous and like a good person to talk to.

If you could adapt a book/series into a movie, it would be...
I would redo the PJO movie. :) but for one that isn't already a movie I would love to see Shannon Hale's Princess Academy become a movie (as long as I can be in charge of casting and help with the script so it don't stink)

What is your favorite word?
befuddle- it sounds like puddle, but with a 'bef' instead of a 'p' hahaha
and awesomesauce- they're tied. :)

What is your favorite book quote?
"The Aurors are part of the Rotfang Conspiracy, I thought everyone knew that. They're working to bring down the Ministry of Magic from within using a mixture of dark magic and gum disease." -Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

ONE WORD ANSWERS FOR...
Bestsellers-
woo!
Book blogs-
awesomesauce
Vampires-
Twilight
Science fiction-
TARDIS!
Classics-
Austen
Harry Potter-
wands

If you could recommend ONE BOOK to everyone, it would be
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Thanks for stopping by, Rae! She's one cool girl, and she's the one who introduced me to the Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale - which are GREAT books by the way! And did you notice how she said she'd redo the Percy Jackson movie? Atta girl!

If you would like to be featured on Through a Lens, just leave me your email in the comment section and I'll get in touch with you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!


Hey everyone - it's Friday, time for another hop!
Head on over to Crazy for Books to join the Book Blogger Hop, a great way to connect with other book bloggers and share your links!

Thank you so much for visiting Imagination in Focus! Leave me your link too and I'll follow you too! :D

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shout-out to great book review sites

Personally, I want to know what to expect when I read books...just the same as wanting to know what to expect when I go to the movies. However, some book reviews - and I'm sure we've all heard them (maybe even written some ourselves) - sound a little too much like ringing endorsements and less like personal reviews. And even less have content information. We typically write reviews based on how we feel, which can be different from how someone else feels. And if we don't think something is that big of a deal (to us), we may not include it in reviews. For example, I'm unfortunately really uptight about sexual content and really lax about language and violence. One of my goodreads friends pointed out that unless a book has the F-word in it, I won't say anything about language. So I'll try to be more factual in that department... :)

And for a little shout-out within a shout-out: to Juju @ Tales of Whimsy... her reviews were really the first (not the last, but the first) that I saw that actually gave me a good indication of what to expect when reading. If you haven't been to her site, she has different "meters" that gauge content and give age-appropriate suggestions, which is brilliant. So thank you, Juju!

But anyway, on to the sites: These are two of the best sites that I know of for 1) parents and 2) readers who like to know what to expect when going into a book. All of my aunts and several of my other parent-friends know about these sites and use them routinely.

My favorite is Reading Teen: Parental Book Reviews. This site is just like Screenit (the best movie review site on the internet!) only for books. It breaks down topics by content and gives quotes from the book you're reviewing. They update their site often and feature reviews for very popular and new teen books... they're my favorite! I don't know if it's one mom or a team of moms, but I love their little commentaries at the bottom - they're cute! And most importantly, they're effective. In fact, their ratings have a link that takes you to actual passages from the book. In a situation like this, I really don't care about spoilers, but some of you might, so that link is optional.

Another good site is Common Sense Media - Books. This site is definitely more "professional" looking and they have way more titles to search. Personally, I ignore their age categories, because some of the 12-14 books I would consider better suited for 15-17...and a few of their reviews (for books that I've read myself) have left out content, plus obviously different interpretations on what is and is not "graphic." But again, they have more titles to choose from.

Okay, so I don't know how many parents may read this, or how many of you find book reviews like these useful. But I've been meaning to do a post like this for awhile, so here it is. :)

My recommendation? Bookmark these sites!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Which is more popular?


Both are YA dystopian series-novels
Both have legions of fans
Both have film adaptations in the works.


So I'm curious...

Which one is more popular?
and...
Which do you like better?




PS - I may be the only one, but when I hear that a book is going to be adapted into a film, my first reaction is kind of negative...like, ohh how many changes are they going to make THIS time?! Eragon and PJ just lost my faith in film adaptations. But hey! Apparently Suzanne Collins is writing the screenplay herself - that must mean that the movie will be faithful to the books? What are your thoughts on film adaptations of books? Yes or no?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Books for Trade! (US Only)


I got this idea from the wonderful Natalie over at Mindful Musings.
Seeing her post, I realized that I have a lot of books need to be cleared away

Basically they are ones that I...
1) have two copies of
2) probably won't read anymore
3) never read and likely will not get around to them any time soon

Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld
Specials - Scott Westerfeld
Captivate - Carrie Jones
Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness
This World We Live In - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Rampant - Diana Peterfreund
Oh My Gods - Tera Lynn Childs
Artemis Fowl - Eion Colfer
The Alchemyst - Michael Scott

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review - WONDROUS STRANGE


Wondrous Strange - Lesley Livingston
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
# of pages: 321 (pb)
Amelia's Age-Level Recommendation: 13+
My Thoughts: Did a little something uncharacteristic in that I read two very similar books back-to-back - The Iron King and then Wondrous Strange (both being YA modern-faerie-tale stories). I'm glad I did, though! Truth be told, TIK had me in a little bit of a funk, and I was holding out for a hero to rescue me from bad faerie books (okay, so TIK wasn't "bad" - it just was "flat okay")

And let me tell you - Lesley Livingston is a hero! A hero and a wonderfully creative storyteller, too! This book was so fun, so enjoyable, such a delight to read! I love writing happy, positive reviews! It makes me not sound like a harpy :)

Wondrous Strange, to me, offered a very clever, very interesting amount of mythology and folklore to explain the faerie world. This is particularly interesting because the entire story takes place in New York City - the "Otherworld," as it is known, is only referenced.
There's something in particular that I found really neat: So often in faerie fiction, you hear the same things over and over: Seelie/Unseelie, Winter & Summer Courts. Well, those concepts are all here, but Livingston brings more to the table by having 4 courts: yes, Autumn and Spring are represented too! That was really cool. And the Midsummer monarchs: Titania and Auberon (instead of Oberon--cool!) are here as well, but they're not near as stereotypical. In fact, Titania is only referenced, and Auberon is portrayed in a way that makes sense with his character background.
This may sound redundant (because it is a FAERIE book), but in WS I actually liked the portrayal of the faeries. What I look for are not necessarily cute, adorable little J.M. Barrie/Tinkerbell fairies... but I do look for faeries that make sense for what they're portrayed to be. For example, if fairies are so magical/wonderful/beautiful/immortal/exotic, that should reflect in their culture and behavior. I don't want to get off-track here, but the easy way to write faerie fiction (it seems) has been to portray them as raunchy and too over-the-top... Not so here. Faeries aren't perfect - by any means - but they're not overdone.
Girls, you will *love* Lesley Livingston's writing style! It's just so beautiful, lyrical, and incredibly witty. Seriously, there were a few passages and quotes that made me laugh out loud!
Also, I loved that Livingston chose to tell Wondrous Strange using double perspectives. Sometimes seeing things from the point of view of the "normal girl character" can be a bit limiting, so it was really cool to read Sonny's perspective and be able to have a window into the faerie world through him.
And last but not least: the main character. I liked Kelley Winslow a lot. She's smart, spunky, and capable, but she's also able to let somebody else take the lead, too - a very good quality to have in a well-rounded and mature person. And she graduated early - very cool (I liked that little bit because I graduated early too!).

If you are a fan of faerie fiction, Shakespearean-influenced literature, or just a fun, entertaining summer read, definitely check out Wondrous Strange!

Final Grade:
I have Darklight, but I want to make the series last as long as I can! Wondrous Strange #3 won't be published until January 2011!

What to read next? need input!


Right now I'm reading The Spook's Nightmare, book 7 in the Wardstone series, but after that... I'm stuck in a rut. Help!

These books have been waiting patiently on my bookshelf, but now they're getting restless!
Which books should I read next? Have you read any of these, and if so, what did you think of them?

Round Two!

Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Impossible - Nancy Werlin
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
Darklight (Wondrous Strange #2) - Lesley Livingston
The Wizard Heir & The Warrior Heir - Cinda Williams Chima
The Hunger Games & Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
The Maze Runner - James Dashner
The Golden Spiral (Hourglass, #2) - Lisa Mangum

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Quick Interview with Lisa Mantchev!

That's right! The exceptionally talented, creative, and very-busy Lisa Mantchev stopped by to answer a few of my questions. She's currently working on Theatre Iluminata #3, so it was even more incredible that she made time out of her busy schedule to stop by!

How would you describe your writing style in 4 words?

Descriptive, lush, theatrical, silly

What was the inspiration for the THEATRE ILUMINATA series?

Bertie entered into my head with her full name (Beatrice Shakespeare Smith) and the mental picture of her surrounded by fairies flying on wires.

Your books are full of great quotes from classic Shakespearean plays. Do you have any favorite quotes?

I love almost all the super-snarky quotes from Taming of the Shrew.

What can readers look forward to in the 3rd book?

More of the love triangle between Nate, Ariel, and Bertie, of course. More family issues, plus some surprising complications on the road back to the theater!

If Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Moth and Cobweb were coming over to your house for tea, what would you serve them?

Chocolate ganache cupcakes, lemon-glazed apple pie, cheesecake, strawberry tarts, fudge, orange soda, and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream.

If the THEATRE ILUMINATA had a soundtrack, what songs would be included?

There is actually a song called "Eyes Like Stars" by a band called Faulter, plus "The Assassins' Tango" from the Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack (that's Ariel and Bertie's tango.) Other than those two, the soundtrack from Cirque du Soleil's Corteo and Kooza were favorites!

How would you finish this sentence? A successful author is someone who _______.

writes every day.



Thank you again, Lisa! I love the snarky dialogue from The Taming of the Shrew, too (and the inspired musical, Kiss Me Kate!)

Where to find Lisa on the web:
The Theatre Iluminata (a must-see place for Theatre fans!)
Lisa Mantchev's website
Lisa on Goodreads
Lisa's Livejournal

And of course, here are the masterpieces:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: WONDROUS STRANGE

As always, Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB @ Should be Reading.Here's how it works: Grab the current book you're reading- Open up to a random page- share a little "teaser" from somewhere on that page.***Make sure your section is spoiler free!!
Here's my teaser from Wondrous Strange, by Lesley Livingston:

Sonny's face became open, wounded, his expression wide with longing and a strange anguish. "Oh, Kelley," he said. "I am so very far from hating you that I think it would be a great deal safer if I did. For both of us - GET DOWN!"
Suddenly he launched himself in a running dive through the air, knocking Kelley off the path toward the Wonderland statue.


So under normal circumstances, I try not to read certain books back-to-back; reading a faerie book, then reading another one. But I have to say, I'm about halfway through WS and
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! I think "the search" may be over!! :D

If you haven't read this book - you definitely should! I'm not even finished with it and I recommend it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Really Late READING STATS


Okay, so I am finally up and running again!

I had a pretty slow reading week, mostly because my family came into town and because I'm doing a lot more WRITING! Some days are better than others, as far as that goes, but it has taken precedence over reading...

Books Reviewed
The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1)


Currently Reading

Wondrous Strange - Lesley Livingston

Up Next...

The Spook's Nightmare (Wardstone, #8) - Joseph Delaney
Christina @ Reading Extensively's Reviews
The Lonely Hearts Club - Elizabeth Eulberg
The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordan
Guardian of the Dead - Karen Healey

Saturday, June 5, 2010

THROUGH A LENS V: Sarah!


TAL is now back on schedule! This week I have with me the ever-awesome Sarah, from Book Reviews Inside an Igloo!

Let's begin!
Do you have character crushes? List as many as you want!
YES!! Tons and tons; Jace (TMI series, and Jace from Shifter series), Barrons (Fever series), Edward (Twilight, sorry but I must confess), JM and V (BDB series), Peeta (Hunger Games), Dimitri (VA series)... Man I could go on and on and on

If you could be any book character, who would you be?
hmm any strong, complex, female character; Katniss, Mac (Fever series) and Clary (TMI) come to mind. Good question that’s a stumper...

If you could live in a fictional world, where would you live?
I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong century, so If I could pick any other time period to live in I might pick 16th century England of course I would want to be one of the few women who’s head Henry VII didn’t cut off. Different world I would say probably The Mortal Instrument world or Percy Jackson, mythology vs. demon hunting; tough call.

Ever been scared/freaked out by a book villain?
Well this isn’t a villain but from The Devouring, that creepy clown/ amusement park scene when the clown things run around with butcher knives still gives me the hebbie jebbies. Also the king from Graceling that can control people with mind control freaks me out, I don’t want anyone else in my head! It’s cramped as it is.

Is there a book/series that everyone seems to have read but you?
well, Amelia you might cause bodily harm to me for this one, but I STILL have not finished the Percy Jackson series. I . Must. Make. Time.

Which book[s] make you cry?
MY SISTER’S KEEPER. Enough said.

Which book[s] make you laugh?
Jace from TMI series cracks me up every time. I quite frequently will rereads passages with him in them.


Have you ever been unable to finish a book?
Yes, sadly. Bleeding Violet comes to mind... Odd odd book.

What book did you like when you were a kid?
I read the Boxcar children series, and VC Andrews books like their were going out of style.

Any cool/funny reading habits or quirks?
My book marks are everything and anything. I once used a tag I found on a pair of underwear. I can read anywhere; plane, car, public bus, through a movie even. I even sometimes read with my ipod earplugs in, listening to music, helps me to “get in the zone”.

When is your favorite time to read? Favorite place?
anytime! Bed is usually a favorite, but I get uncomfortable after long periods. A lazyboy with a starbucks holder, personal massager, heated back, and access to munchies would be ideal.

If you could hang out with an author for a day, who would it be?
Shakespeare. I think I interpret wrong.

If you could adapt a book/series into a movie, it would be...
Hmm that’s a tough one because I don’t really like movie adaptations, they always cast incorrectly to me. Ruins the fantasy. But if I had to pick one it would be TMI series. Seeing Jace reincarnated on the big scene serenading his witty lines to me would be perfection. I could die happy.

What is your favorite word?
facetious

What is your favorite book quote?
"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains."
— Dr. Seuss (Oh, the Places You'll Go!)

And because I have talked Jace up, here’s on of my favorite Jace ones;

"...Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?'
Jace said, "Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself."
..."At least," she said, "you don't have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland."
Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting."
— Cassandra Clare (City of Bones )

ONE WORD ANSWERS FOR...
Bestsellers-
hitormiss (I cheat...)
Book blogs- euphoria
Vampires- Angel!
Science fiction- sometimes
Classics- meh...
Harry Potter- Voldemort

If you could recommend ONE BOOK to everyone, it would be...
Im going to break with convention and not say The Hunger Games and say The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, its a classic but It’s the book of my childhood and has a special place in my heart.


Thank you very much, Sarah! I totally see what you mean about Bleeding Violet - sheesh I'm staying away from that one! And yes, YOU MUST FINISH PERCY JACKSON! The last one is the best! I also love that you put in a Dr. Seuss quote - :D

If you would like to be featured on TAL, leave me your email in the comment section and I will get back to you!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Finds [8]

Haven't done one of these in over a month, so here goes!
Need & Captivate by Carrie Jones
(synopsis for Need)
Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now. She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

I love Maine, so it'll be fun to read a book with a cool setting! And having a book about pixies seems very intriguing. My Goodreads friends' reviews have been all over the place, but most agree that it is entertaining. This is book 1 in a series of 4, I think. The second book, Captivate, was published recently...

Have any of you read this? What did you think?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thank you, C.S. Lewis

Time for another random post! I've been meaning to write this for awhile, but never got around to it until now :)

This past semester I took "Religious and Literary Studies of C.S. Lewis," or as we 80 students called ourselves, the "Lewis Crew," and it has become one the best college experiences I've had. A class of eighty at my school is huge, and yet it was a homely feel. Anyway, we read pretty much every major book by this incredible author, and obviously my appreciation for him has skyrocketed. He was always the Narnia guy, but I didn't know that he wrote at least a book a year from 1931 until his death in 1963. Prolific!
He was a soldier, professor, theologian, husband, and storyteller - what a busy, fulfilling life! I didn't know, for
example, that he married Joy Gresham, a divorcee, in a civil ceremony in order for her to legally live in England. Well, they ended up falling in love and they had a religious wedding ceremony the following year. Her death 1960 was the inspiration for A Grief Observed. What I loved most about my class, therefore, was that in addition to giving great insight into Lewis' life, it allowed me to learn about his works in greater detail.

When most people think of Lewis, they think of Narnia, probably. Well, he is also famous for his apologetic writin
g, and he is considered one of the greatest apologists of the 20th century, if not all-time. Yes, the Narnia books are amazing and deserve all the recognition they receive, but Lewis' talents extended far beyond Professor Kirke's wardrobe. He was a pioneer in the genre of science fiction with his Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. He wrote two primarily allegorical stories: The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, which personally are my favorites!
Here are some of the b
ooks we read and studied, and (of course) my quick-takes on them. I don't know about your personal situations and beliefs, but I do want to showcase Lewis' other works and greatly encourage you all to check him out!

The Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength
We went over these books first. It's cool because they were written in the 30s-40s, so as far as science fiction goes, they're classics! They are allegorical like the Narnia series, but this series is geared more towards adults, so the style is more mature. Perelandra especially deals with a Garden of Eden scenario: it is supposed to represent Earth as it should have been. The series follows a college professor named Ransom who makes various space travels over the course of the first two books. That Hideous Strength takes a different direction, as it is set on Earth entirely. It also features a wicked-awesome big bear named Mr. Bultitude :) Take THAT, Winnie the Pooh!

Mere Christianity (1952, based on radio broadcasts given during WWII)
This was our first apologetic work, and I would strongly suggest reading this book first. Pretty much the book makes a case for the reality of the Christian faith, using the concept of universal morality. I recommend this book in particular to anyone who might be interested to know what an apologetic work sounds like. This is Lewis at his clearest, if that makes any sense. As the class progressed, his concepts get a little more advanced, and so this is definitely my favorite of his apologies, just because it's the easiest to understand. And his metaphors are so clever and amusing, it's very easy to follow along with what he's saying. Give this one a shot!

The Problem of Pain
(1940)
The idea behind this book is "why do we have pain in our life?" or more specifically, "If God is supposed to be good, why does He allow suffering?" We had to give chapter presentations on this one, and of course, I had to do the "Hell" chapter. So if you read this book and get to the Hell chapter, you can think of me :P This is also one of my favorites, because even though it's a little more advanced than MC, it seeks to answer questions that seem to be asked a lot. The thing that I love about Lewis is that he always backs up his points. It's never this, "Oh, well I have all the answers and here they are!" You may not agree with his interpretation (and some of the times in this book, I didn't really see things the same way he does) but I understand where he's coming from. I guess what a lot of people can appreciate about Lewis is that he really tries to back up what he's saying.

The Great Divorce (1945) & The Screwtape Letters
These two blend fiction with apologetic nonfiction in that they are allegorical. Some people don't like allegory, but I eat it up like I eat up Skittles. It's just so clever. So these two are Lewis' allegorical works (or at least, the ones we covered in class). They are also my FAVORITE WORKS BY CS LEWIS EVER!!!
No, The Great Divorce is not about people getting a divorce (not gonna lie, that's what I was expecting it to be, haha). It's about a bus that takes people in Hell up to Heaven for a tour. The ghosts are promised by the spirits (who are not transparent like the ghosts are) that they can stay in Heaven if they desire it. This book specifically gave me goosebumps, I found it that thought-provoking. It really kind of freaked me out, too, when all of the passengers (ghosts) decided to return to the Grey City because it was familiar to them and they were terrified of change. I strongly recommend this one!
And the other one is The Screwtape Letters, which is about the closest thing to humor you will find in C.S. Lewis writing, unless you count the talking animals of Narnia. The funny thing about Screwtape is that while it deals with an incredibly serious subject, it's so funny, too. Screwtape is pretty funny. And yet there's something inexplicably dangerous and deviant about what he's saying. The Screwtape Letters is written in letter-format, as Screwtape, a senior devil, instructs his novice nephew Wormwood, how to successfully tempt a human soul. It's an incredibly clever book, too, because the whole thing is written by the bad guy. So you have to train yourself that everything "good" to him is supposed to be bad. I can't imagine how long it must have taken Lewis to write this! Even if you may disagree with Lewis' message, I'd encourage reading this book just to be able to say you read it, and just for curiosity's sake. It's pretty entertaining, too! And also, there's this new audio version read by Andy Serkis (who played Gollum in LOTR). THAT is awesome!!

The Four Loves
This is going to be a bad summary, because I was so confused by this book. I wouldn't read this one unless you just love C.S. Lewis and want to read all his works, because his other apologetic writing is less obscure and "deep" as this one.

A Grief Observed
With this book, you have the interesting situation of an author seeming to contradict his words from a previous book. Lewis wrote this as he was coping with the death of his wife, and the first half seems to negate all of the principles proposed by Lewis in The Problem of Pain. The second half, though, is much more uplifting, as Lewis moves beyond grief. It's really emotional, and a great read, particularly for anyone who has dealt with loss.

Letters to Malcolm (1964, published posthumously)
This book is not fiction, even though Malcolm is a fictitious character. Pretty much this is a "dear diary" book about customs in Lewis' Anglican church, with an emphasis on the aspect of prayer. This was the last book in our unit, and so we skimmed through it, but it is a fairly easy read, and if you ever had any questions or interest in basic religious practices, this would be a good book to read. :)

Did not read:
The Pilgrim's Regress
(1933)
The Abolition of Man (1943)
Miracles (1947)
Surprised by Joy (1955)
Till We Have Faces
(1956)

Clearly, Lewis was a busy, busy man! While Narnia will always be his most famous work, his talent and beautiful prose can also be found in several other monumental works. I have CS Lewis to thank for making an impact on my life: he's an inspiration not only as a writer but also as a person, and I'm glad I had the chance to learn more about his incredible works. I highly, highly recommend checking out some of his other non-Narnian books

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review - THE IRON KING

The Iron King - Julie Kagawa
Genre: YA Urban/Paranormal Fantasy
# of pages: 361
(pb)
Age-Level Recommendation: 15+
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
The Iron King @ Parental Book Reviews

First off, I want to start this review by asking a question:
How AMAZINGLY beautiful is the cover design?!

It's one of my favorites! And The Iron Daughter is pretty, too :)
Okay, this is one of those books where I just have a lot to say, I guess. First of all, I enjoyed The Iron King. Truly, I did. It was good, and I had fun reading it. I was a little disappointed, though. From all the other reviews I've read, I was expecting this book to be incredibly good: I expected the book to be as awesome as the cover design, and it wasn't. I liked it, but I didn't "love" it.. For what it was, I liked it okay. But it wasn't as good as I expected it to be.

Trying to keep it simple:
What I liked:
1) The Main Character: If I don't connect with the main character, the book just totally strikes out. End of story. Meghan Chase was a good character for me. She's not stupid, but she's not exactly practical, either. The reason why I think she's a good character is because she has enough positive qualities to make up for her negative ones. She's a good and loyal sister and while my family life is pretty much the polar opposite from hers, I still felt like I could relate to her. She had a good sense of humor, too. The best way I can describe Meghan is that while she has valid feelings and concerns, she frequently jumps to conclusions and is a little too impulsive. That's why things keep happening to her that a lot of times could have been avoided. Like my awesome affiliate Christina says, you just have the urge to shake her. But I still liked her. And it's like, if I was in that situation, who's to say I wouldn't behave exactly like her?
2) Supporting Characters: what The Iron King had that the other faerie books lacked (for me, at least) were likable supporting characters. Grimalkin and Puck were great. Puck makes so many appearances in fiction nowadays, he's practically a stock character, and a talking cat is not that original, but they were fun and interesting. That counts for something.
3) Originality: There are certain elements of this book that are petty original. The whole "iron fey" thing is interesting and definitely unique, and it's always fun to read about something new.
4) Fun, Quick Read: Maybe I'm lightening up over the years, but I just enjoyed this book more than the other faerie books I've read. It was just a fun, quick read

What I disliked
1) Repetition of plot: Okay, this got to be really annoying in the middle of the book. Meghan and company encounter scary, nasty creatures - then they escape. The continue on, and then they encounter some more scary, nasty creatures - then they escape. Over and over. It's obvious why: action sequences keep the plot from getting "boring," but it got very repetitious and predictable...which is the same thing as boring.
2) Repetition of characters: there are so many stock characters here, I felt like I was at a blue-light special. I said that the iron fey concept was pretty original; everything else had a used/worn feel to it. I didn't really find this book that creative or that different from other faerie books. It was more enjoyable, but there wasn't anything particularly special about it. I know how critical this review sounds, but when a book gets all sorts of praise and high reviews, I naturally have expectations. And while it was fun, it wasn't special.
Her faeries are pretty much exactly like Holly Black's and Melissa Marr's. And that's too bad. When your "good guy" characters act almost exactly like the "bad guy" characters, what kind of contrast exists? Tell me, how are Mab and Titania any different? And yet one is queen of the Unseelie Court - Unseelie usually implying malevolent. No contrast. The faeries are so frustrating because they seem to possess a "devotion to rules and proper etiquette" (according to Ash on pg 166) but they're portrayed as obscene, oversexed, orgiastic revelers. Those are contrasts in behavior, and it happens over and over. I was so hoping that Kagawa would give me something truly different, but she obviously took the easy stereotype. And she didn't miss a chance to take a few chapters and throw in teenage stereotypes either: mean jocks and cheerleaders. Haven't heard those before.

Summary: I enjoyed The Iron King, and I'm glad I read it. It was entertaining, but not special. In fact, pretty much every scene in the book reminded me of similar scenes I've seen in another book or movie. Still, even if most of the plot was predictable and borrowed, it was entertaining. It may not sound that way from the review, but I did like it. I just have pretty low standards for faerie fiction, I guess. Here's hoping Wondrous Strange will be a better experience.

Quick Content Check
L:
strong and consistent vulgarity throughout, including the "f" word.
S: Nothing but kissing happens with the main characters, but the narrative mentions somewhat graphic sexuality on part on the faeries.
V: if Quentin Tarantino got ahold of this, he'd have a new movie in no time. Strong, consistent (albeit predictable and repetitious) blood and gore.

Final Rating:
The Iron King may be best suited for upper teens only.

SHADOW HUNT winner!


Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway on such short notice! The winner of the Shadow Hunt ARC is...
LIZ

Congratulations, Liz! I've sent you an email :)

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

I'm in summer school now, but when I get a chance I'll post my Iron King review :D

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Through a Lense IV: The Critic

Apologies, folks! I got a little off-schedule with my features, but I'll be back on track Friday :)
So without further ago, here is the Critic from Books and Their Movies. She's also on Goodreads here.

Do you have character crushes? List as many as you want!
Oh my gosh, well Dodge from The Looking Glass Wars was a hottie. So was Kartik from A Great and Terrible Beauty. And yes, my soft spot is Henry in The Luxe series although I probably would not hang out with him if he did exist in real life.

If you could be any book character, who would you be?
Hmm, I'd love to be Gemma in A Great and Terrible Beauty. I just NEED her sense of humor.

If you could live in a fictional world, where would you live?
Please don't ask why, 'cause I don't know myself, but I'd love to live in that Poison Study world. Again, don't ask.

Ever been scared/freaked out by a book villain?
Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events was creepy enough. I mean, he has an eye. ON HIS FREAKIN' ANKLE!!

Is there a book/series that everyone seems to have read but you?
Oh God, my three main ones are The Clique, Marked and Gossip Girl. Never read them, never want to.

Which book[s] make you cry?
I'm an unemotional animal. I'm not a teary-eyed gal. However, Emile and Karl ALMOST did it for me.

Which book[s] make you laugh?
The whole Great and Terrible Beauty series really had me laughing out loud at times I mean, it's not a funny book, but Gemma and co have some GREAT one liners!

Have you ever been unable to finish a book?
Yeah sadly I hate not finishing books but sometimes ya just can't get into them no matter how hard you try so yes I have.

What book did you like when you were a kid?
I still love A Little Princess, it's such an uplifting story. And Edward Eager's books are brilliant I read every single one of his books and loved them, his worlds are so creative.

Any cool/funny reading habits or quirks?
I yell at characters. Sad, I know, but it's true.

When is your favorite time to read? Favorite place?
My ultimate favorite place is my bed. Personally, sitting up reading is really uncomfortable for me. And I love reading before I go to bed, it calms me down before the big sleep comes.

If you could hang out with an author for a day, who would it be?
Definitely Scott Westerfeld. I mean, the guy can creates amazing worlds from his imagination, he composes music, and he seems REALLY cool.

If you could adapt a book/series into a movie, it would be...
Leviathan. I'd love to figure out how to create the machines, the battle scenes the animals OOOOOOH!!! THAT WOULD BE AN AMAZING MOVIE!!!

What is your favorite word?
"Grannyfy." Random word I found on Dictionary.com, and the word basically gives away the definition. So precious!

What is your favorite book quote?
"It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together." - The Virgin Suicides

That book has some of the best writing I've ever read in a long time.

ONE WORD ANSWERS FOR..
Book blogs AMAZING
Vampires Groan
Science fiction Cool!
Classics Some
Harry Potter Smile
If you could recommend ONE BOOK to everyone, it would be...
One? Just one?? Is that supposed to be an evil question or something???
Just kidding! I would recommend The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap. It's really an underrated piece of historical fiction.

Isn't she hilarious?! If you would like to be featured on Through a Lens, email me or leave your email address and I'll send you the questions!
 
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