Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bison, Moose & a Grizzly...

Sorry everyone for my lack of posting. I've been on vacation this week and I am actually still there. My family and me took a trip to Yellowstone. I figured living in AZ I was close enough and it would be a good vacation for Hubby being that we are in the outdoors. If it wasn't so cold we would have camped, but we just rented a little cabin up by the East Entrance. It's been really fun and I'm glad we did it. Next time though, I'm so bringing binoculars and my better camera.

Here is my oldest showing me the dirt for her castle building. Needless to say they definitely got baths after that.

here is Hubby with my youngest just on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. We were standing on a rock watching the Grizzly bear. :D

Here is said grizzly bear. I know it's far away, but my camera wasn't the best. I left my good camera with my zoom lens at home....on accident. My memory is going.

Here is some buffalo that were walking along the road. It was pretty cool to see them so close. Their heads are freaking huge. I think like half my body size and I am no small person.

This is a female moose and I was so excited to see her. I really really wanted to see a moose so I kind of did a little squeal when I saw them.
Here is me and my youngest freezing our buts off in the rain that didn't stop all the day the first day we were here.


Anyway, I'll post more pics after we leave. And when I get back I'll be back to my review posting. Hope everyone is having a good season.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky - A Book Review

Title: Awaken
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Pages: 352
Published: May 23rd, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Books
Synopsis:

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space. (from goodreads.com)

I actually read this book back in January, but I wanted to wait until it was closer to the release date to post my review. That way you wouldn't forget about it by the time the book was actually published for sale.

Awaken, one of the many dystopian novels released this year, is an intriguing take on the future that will rope you into the depths of it's electronic insanity. In Maddie's world, with everyone in front of their computers for socializing and school, you can be whoever you want to be. Don't like what you said, no problem, just hit delete and you're set.

But, is that ever really enough?

Personally, I'd say no, but for Maddie, our main character, she's mostly content with her life. It isn't until she's persuaded to attend a study group, that she actually gets out of her house and meets up with some new people, face to face. BUT, why are these people so insistent on persuading Maddie to get out of the house? I mean, they don't really know her. There has to be something we aren't seeing. Of course there is, but what is it exactly...???

*insert evil plot music here*

The premise for the book was rather interesting. I've read dystopian, quite often in fact - as it's being published right and left - and I felt that this particular read was a little different than some of the others. The world Ms Kacvinsky creates actually saddened me a bit. To think of a world void of any real paper to write on or read from because there weren't really any real trees. Instead, the trees and grasses were artificial and their aroma couldn't permeate the air. Furthermore, the sea life was dead due to pollution. I mean, at the rate we are going, I see it happening some day (FYI - I read this as an e-book *wink wink*), but it's so very sad. It really makes a girl think.

As to what I think - I don't know how I really feel about Maddie, our narrator. She was strong and seemed smart, although I could have used more development on that front, but moreover she seemed overly trusting. This above all else gave me pause. I mean, she meets Justin and I get the automatic attraction (not love, mind you), but I don't get why she trusts him so fast. He is always asking her "do you trust me?" and she is always replying with "yes", but I don't see the reasoning behind it. Plus, I also think that when Justin screws up, Maddie forgives him WAY too quickly. Then again, I may have forgiving issues, but still...

A third of the way through the book I didn't know how I felt about it, I was frustrated with the turn of events and the development. I was frustrated with the characters and their personalities. I was frustrated with the lack of a back story on said characters. But, then the book progresses and picks up and it was like, whoa! This book just raised up to a whole new level. The plot began to move faster, the development of the characters started to make a whole lot more sense and we got to see so much more of the world behind the madness. A world where Maddie's father is truly intent on power, a world where her mother is a loving, caring person, a world where love still exists, a world where maybe, just maybe, Justin earns his trust from Maddie.

Overall, I enjoyed this book; the characters and the story that was woven through my electronic pages. I enjoyed the police chases, the electronic craziness and the world Ms. Kacvinsky created. The more I learned about the world Maddie lived in, the more it made sense. It may have been slow to start off, but it picked up by the end. So, if you are looking for a new Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction book that has a spark of life to it, this could be a perfect fit for you.

Quotes:

My mom gave me an old leather-bound journal for my seventeenth birthday. At first the blank pages surprised me, as if the story inside was lost or had slipped out. She explained sometimes the story is supposed to be missing because it's still waiting to be written. Leave it to my mom to give me something from the past to use in the future.

"Let's just say there's only so much of life that can be taught by pushing a bunch of buttons and looking at a screen." he took a fast turn around the corner and I could feel the car accelerate. (Justin)

I spoke my answer out loud an dmy voice was automatically converted into a digital message. I decided maybe was the best response, just in case I lost my nerve. I hit send and a second later he responded.


Life is too short to say maybe.


I narrowed my eyes at the screen. Why was he pushing this? Why couldn't he let me be noncommittal and leave me alone about it?

"Don't worry about hurting me, if that's what you're afraid of. I want to get hurt. At least I'll feel something for a change." I stared him straight in the eyes. It was a relief to finally say these things out loud.


He let go of my hands. He didn't say anything, he just watched me. I stood up and walked toward the house. I knew Justin wouldn't come after me. And he didn't. But maybe I was getting through to him. He forced me to open up all my sense, to imagine a lifestyle different from the one I settled for. Maybe I was having the same affect on him.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Winner of the Spring Blog Carnival Hop


Okay everyone, I don't know about you, but that was a crazy week last week. Now, I'm here to announce the winner of my giveaway for the Spring Blog Carnival Hop. I had 149 entries total, which was totally amazing, by the way. Every entry was assigned a number and I then used random.org to pick the winner. So, the winner is:

*drum roll*

Nicci

Congrats, Nicci on your win! I hope you enjoy! :D



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tangled Threads (Elemental Assasin No. 4) by Jennifer Esteap - Book Review

Title: Tangled Threads (Elemental Assasin No.4)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Pages: 357
Published: April 26th, 2011 by Pocket Books
Synopsis:Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too.

The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling . . . or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead. . . (from goodreads.com)

Okay everyone, I don't know about you, but I'm totally pumped about this fourth installment in the Elemental Assasin series by Jennifer Estep. Our dearest Gin Blanco is back and deadlier than ever and ready to kill anyone who even looks like a mob-boss minion. Could I just tell you, The Spider, is waiting!

Tangled Threads starts off with our dearest Gin on a stakeout waiting to take out her latest target in her quest to crumble the mob-boss', Mab Monroe's, pyramid of corruption. Of course, something turns up, not only foiling her stakeout, but creating a very electrifying hurdle to pass in on the road of murder and mayhem. Don't fret though, Gin is patient, she is deadly and she doesn't mind waiting. She's the Spider, it's what she does.

Estep's work is fun to read and action packed. She likes to throw in the little quips here and there and she always makes watching Gin fun and exciting. I think it's because we always get to see Gin be her patient self, we get to see her wait for her opening, we get to see her get it on with Owen.

Wait! What?! Did I just say Owen?! Oh yes I did baby! Now, I so much prefer him, the metal elemental hottie to the asshat cop she was dating, just in case you all wanted to know. Owen is graceful, talented, not afraid of a little blood and sexy to boot. I'd love to lick him from top to bottom, that's all I can say.

This fourth book was exactly what I was looking forward to in the series and it was nice to see Gin grow and find her way through her blackened heart, even if it was just a little bit. I enjoy watching her grow and attempt to overcome the crap that's been passed her way. I love that she doesn't snivel and complain about it, she just puts on her iron, hardcore, tough-girl panties and kills who she must.

The only thing I would say is that I wished we could have seen more Sophia and Finn. They didn't seem to be in it as much and I especially missed Sophia's dark, funny, disturbing, dwarf-self. All in all though, it was an enjoyable fourth book and I'm excited to see what's in store for Gin in book 5. (especially after that first chapter I read in the back of book 4 *sigh*)


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hard Bitten -(Chicagoland Vampires No.4)- by Chloe Neill - Book Review

Title: Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires No.4)
Author: Chloe Neill
Published: May 3rd, 2011
Pages: 350
Synopsis: Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.

Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem too ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands... (from goodreads.com)

I don't really know how to start into this review. It's a review that if I didn't need to get the feelings inside me about it out, I wouldn't share it at all. But, so much has happened in this book, so many events, so much chaos. I know none of this makes sense to those who haven't read it, so I'll attempt more coherency. *clears throat*

The book starts 2 months after the last ended. (First three books reviewed here) The last being a book that gave us hope for the future. A hope that would surely come true, would it not? As readers, we are torn and twisted by these authors through plotlines and character trails and for what?! To watch the emotional turmoil of these characters, these characters that become more real every time we hear their name, to see them rise, to see them fall so that one day, they may end in some sort of peace. Authors though, they make it hard, they make us work for that happy peaceful ending.

Why?!

I'll tell you why. One of my favorite authors said it best when she said, and I'm paraphrasing here, plot is driven by trial and tribulation. Readers are happy when they get what they want, but they are even happier when they don't get what they want. That may sound ludicrous, but for me - most of the time - it's true. In instances like this, seeing the characters hurt, seeing them suffer through the most imaginable pain makes me care about them, makes me care about the plot. It gives me the draw to read the book with the complete and utter impossibility of putting it down for any moment. PLOT IS DRIVEN BY CONFLICT. It just is. And though I may not be able to see it now, though I may be hurting over the plot in this book, because yes, I am that into it, I'm looking to Neill and hoping with all hope that she will help me. That at the very end of the series, even if it's in the last pages of the last book, she will give me my peaceful place and make me feel that everything is the way that it should be.

This book I had been waiting for, waiting for so long - it seems - to be released. To read more of Merit and Ethan. To see them flow around each other and find their places in this different time where vampires are real and everyone in society knows. In previous books, they had a relationship that was fun, that was different. It wasn't something that just happened, they weren't madly attached at the hip. Their sexual tension lit up most of the pages in the first, second and third books. We could see their everyday dance around each other, only occasionally meeting in the middle and those brief moments were something we looked forward to. This book was similar in that their loveable, witty, snarky repertoire was still there. It was just different in that their feelings were visible. It wasn't a dance of wanting and needing, but not giving in. It was a dance of feeling, grieving, trusting, wooing. It was one where they knew how each other felt and the build up was coming. The development of something huge.

That development is what made me never want to put the book down. The conflict involved in their relationship, in the deepening plot lines of the book, in Merit's other relationships, they were strong and they were detailed and horribly lovely. In a way that flipped and turned and pushed through every page with reckless abandon. A way that was eloquent and thoroughly addicting.

But then, then Neill does something, something that makes us, the reader astonished that she could or would ever do it. Her plot, her damn conflicting plot throws us for a metaphysical loop. It pushes us in front of that oncoming train that we were nowhere near. It makes us look at those words, those horrible horrible words and wonder what will happen, what could possibly happen now?! How on Earth is she going to fix this, because she needs to fix this, she really really needs to fix this. And as the reader, you think how did this happen, is it true, are we missing something? Can this really have happened? Please, say that it didn't. Don't take everything from us. Don't take it, please. And in the end, we have no choice but to sit back and wait and hope that Ms. Neil does something. Hope that she will fix this and make us feel better. That she will make the sadness that we feel for these characters dissipate.

I hope more than anything, that she will.

This book, this book driven by massive amounts of conflict was intense and exciting and will bring tears through it's words. It will rip a course through your body and make you want to flip every page careless for the consequences. It touches on so many emotions and pushes you through til the very very bitter end. I wouldn't ask for anything else in a book. The only request I do have: please Ms. Neill, fix what happened. Make the hurt go away.



Monday, May 2, 2011

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer No.3) by Jenny Han - Book Review

Title: We'll Always Have Summer (Summer No.3)
Author: Jenny Han
Pages: 288
Published: April 26th, 2011
Read: May 1st, 2011
Synopsis: It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever. (from goodreads.com)

The Summer series by Jenny Han was a surprising series that I didn't expect to love so much. Before this series, I looked at contemporary fiction as something that I liked. Something that went between my great reads. The Summer series, for me, was the series that made me realize that I could LOVE contemporary, YA fiction. That it could be a great read.

(Review for The Summer I Turned Pretty, No.1 in the Summer series here)
(Review for It's Not Summer Without You, No. 2 in the Summer series here)

With Belly, Conrad & Jeremiah playing the leading roles in all three books, characters who filled the pages with so much thought and so much emotion, I couldn't be anything but in love with them all. Their characters were so real and so realistically flawed, it made me love them even more. It made them seem not like characters, but like people I interact with everyday, with everyday problems.

This third book in the series takes place later in Belly's life around the time she is 18. She is just finishing up her first year of college when all of these life experiences suddenly hit her. And all her experiences are emotional, hard and real. We watch Belly grow and realize so many things in her life that make other things possible. That life's events happen for a reason. Furthermore, we watch Jeremiah and Conrad grow into the men that their mother could be proud of. It may take the whole book, but that was something I needed to see most of all. For Susannah's sake.

And what would these books be without the other characters, namely Susannah and Laura? I'll tell you, nothing. Because in the end, no matter how much we grow up, no matter how many hardships we go through, no matter what life and death may bring, we always want our mother. Or someone there to care about us and nurture us in that motherly way.

With this third book, Jenny Han has brought out all the details of life and shoved the thoughts and feelings attached to those details to the surface. Her words brought me to tears. There is nothing else for me to say, that I am sad that the series is done because I will miss Susannah, Laura, Steven, Taylor, Jeremiah and Conrad. Most of all though, I will miss Belly for being exactly who she is and nothing else.


Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls No.3) by Maggie Stiefvater - Book Trailer

It's getting closer to the release date of Forever everyone. So, here is the latest book trailer. This is the official one by Maggie Stiefvater, music and all. Enjoy. And if you are looking to buy a signed readers copy (because Maggie is good like that!), you can buy it HERE!



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Movie News (Volume 2)

Okay readers, here is volume 2 of movie news. I think I may make this a regular occurrence, this movie news thingy (great technical term, eh?). Today's movie news is for

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Okay, here is the new casting
(if you want to see casting for details of Katniss, Gale & Peeta see Volume 1)



Willow Shields
to play
Primrose Everdeen (Katniss' sister)




Paula Malcomson
to play
Katniss' Mother











Elizabeth Banks
to play
Effie







Jack Quaid (left)
to play
Marvel
male tribute District 1

Levin Ramblin (right)
to play
female tribute District 1



Jan Nelson (left)
to play
male tribute from District 3

Kalia Prescott
to play
female tribute from District 3

Ethan Jamieson (left)
to play
male tribute from District 4

Tara Macken (right)
to play
female tribute from District 4


Chris Mark (left)
to play
Tribute from District 5

Jackie Emerson (right)
to play
Foxface (from District 5)


Amandla Stenberg (left)
to play
Rue

Dayo Okeniyi (right)
to play
Thresh

Both from District 11

It will be really interesting to see how everything turns out for this film. I'm excited to see the finished outcome.


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