Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eragon by Christopher Paolini - an Inheritance Event

Summary from Goodreads:When young Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his adopted family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of inescapable destiny, magical forces, and powerful people. With only an ancient sword and the instruction of an old, mysterious, hermit storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a Emperor whose evil and power knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands….

Thoughts on Eragon:
Like I said before, when I read this book for the first time, it was everything: inspiration...an amazing example of really really good literature...a motivation for me to work hard to get published early in life. I remember thinking the writing was great, the story super intense, the characters fully developed.
Then I read Eldest. Then Brisingr. Then Eragon again. My opinions have...ummm....changed.
I'll say first off that I want to cut this guy some slack. After all, he did write this when he was just 15, and that's pretty darn amazing if you think about it that way. But really, if you look at it from the viewpoint of one who has read a lot of really great literature, Eragon is nothing super duper special. Good, but...lacking.
The writing is good, but it lacks life, meat. Paolini gets across what he wants you to see, but not in a way that gave me chills or made me want to live there or experience that world with Eragon.
Speaking of Eragon, he's just average. I never felt a connection with him, through all the books. I liked him, but not enough to really care about him. I cared more for Arya and Murtagh. Murtagh is actually one of my favorite characters in the whole series, a great, tragic character who caught my eye from the first. And Brom...oh Brom. I loved him.
The story is fairly good, but not as strong and original as I'd want. It was, however, enough to keep me interested and a couple of the scenes, because of their sheer danger and magical intrigue, really stuck with me. So, this book is worth the read, because it is good, and because the series just gets better and better.

3/5 stars

Check back tomorrow for my review on Eldest!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini - a week long event

Four years ago when I first started reading Eragon, it was everything.  It had changed the writing industry (from my inexperienced viewpoint); it was inspiration and it made me determined to get published at a young age.
There isn't one person I know who hasn't heard of the book/movie Eragon.  Most of them have read/watched it.  It was the hit for quite a while - and now the fourth and final book is making its release this November.  I've been wanting to write about this series for a while now, and this impending release has motivated me.

For the next four days I'll be posting my thoughts on Eragon, then Eldest, then Brisingr, then the series as a whole and what I'm looking forward to in Book #4, Inheritance.  The reviews will be a bit shorter than usual and not my typical set-up, so I won't overwhelm you with a million reviews to read in one week. ;)

Enjoy my own little makeshift "Inheritance Cycle Event"! :D

Happy reading!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Buys 5/6-27/11

I got some fun, cheap stuff these last couple of weeks....  Here's the list:





This is my favorite find - I keep hearing it's amazing!
$2.00 for this beauty that's in almost perfect condition! :D

Happy Reading! :D

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Ty lives in a world of the beautiful and strange; of new and old; of safety and danger.  He lives in the ocean, four hundred feet under the surface, on a homestead with his parents and sister Zoe.  At fifteen, his dream is to one day own a homestead under his name.  But for now, he makes good use of his time exploring near the dangerous, dark, lifeless areas of their ocean wonderland.  When Ty makes a journey to a forbidden place and finds an abandoned sub and a frightened Topsider (the name for those still living on land) named Gemma, he is sucked into a mystery and a terrible accident involving his neighbors and the ocean's most terrifying group of men - the Seablite gang.  If he doesn't do something - and quick - every homestead under the water's surface could be in danger, and his whole world might turn upside-down.


My thoughts -
WHY did I not keep reading this when I picked it up first a year ago?!  Ok, I seriously enjoyed this book.  When I won this book in a giveaway, I was so excited to start it back up again.  I was expecting it to be good - and instead I got great.

I really loved almost everything about this book.  The one thing, however, that didn't quite live up to the rest of the book, was the world building.  While everything else was close to perfect, the less-than-300 pages of this book didn't hold very much detail about the world Ty and his family and friends live in and why they're there.  You get the gist of it, but I felt there could have been more.

Kat Falls has a really neat, clean writing style that I enjoyed.  (Although, with her future books, I have to remember to read a little slower to get in all the descriptions - I missed some important details because I was going so fast!)  Her word choices sometimes made me stop and go, "Oh wow, she's good."  And I loved all the technical terms that she used for underwater equipment.  It made it all seems so much more real.  I was really amazed that this is her debut novel, and boy oh boy am I excited for Rip Tide!

Character notes -
I loved the way the author built the characters in this story.  They were very charming, or evil, or intimidating, or funny.  Ty was an extremely likable guy who I fell for in chapter one.  He was a young boy at the beginning - but by the end of the book (over a course of two days) he was...older.  More mature.  I adored this change in him, seeing him go from boy, always wanting to explore and be his own man, to actually being that man.

I loved all the side characters as well.  Gemma is a great, strong character with lots of tough 'tude.  She complimented Ty's character perfectly and only added to make this book all the more enjoyable.  Also, Zoe and Hewitt made me laugh out loud quite a few times.  At young ages, they both had stark personalities with crazy ideas about life that made me laugh out loud.

Story notes -
What a story!  Like, from front to back, every scene was riveting, or fascinating.  The entire book is filled with action - it doesn't stop before the end, like, slow down to wrap things up.  It goes and goes and goes, until the last page.  It totally took me by surprise.  And there was quite a bit of mystery mixed in, which I loved.  It was like, action, fantasty, dystopia, and mystery.  I don't know why but that mixture of genres hit me as just really really cool.  And I seriously thought I knew what the answer to the mystery was, but...well, let's just say I was surprised.

The end was really well wrapped up, but it definitely leaves you hanging for more.  The character interactions added to the story and left a lasting impression on me.  It's been at least two weeks since I finished it and I still remember it all so clearly!

One word/phrase to sum it up (final thoughts) -
The word vigorous comes mind when I think of this book.  I looked up the definition online and what came up was, "Strong, healthy, and full of energy."  That word is seriously nutshelling this book.  I highly recommend this to all readers, of all ages, because...how can you not love a book full of action, adventure, a touch of (clean) romance and mystery, underwater guns, saloons, outlaws, and really really great characters!  It really is a gem o' the ocean.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberly

Grand Fenwick is a little known country near France, a small duchy that has flourished for centuries because of their popular wine company.  Recently, however, the wine business has failed to bring in enough money to live on.  There are those who wish to dilute the wine, and others who are against this notion.  Both parties continue to argue over the outcome until a grand scheme is devised:  small, itty bitty Grand Fenwick will declare war on the U.S. - attack, lose, and then receive all sorts of benefits for their trouble, as they had seen happen to every nation who lost a war to the U.S.

But of course, this isn't at all what happens.  In fact, Grand Fenwick, the smallest nation in the world, wins this war.  And becomes the most powerful nation in the world.


My thoughts -
I looked forward to reading this book for nearly 9 months before I finally got to read it for school.  It most definitely did not disappoint and I want to say right off the bat that everyone should give this a try! :)

For one, this book is hilarious.  Everything about it - the characters, story line, and dialogue - has some sort of humorous tinge to it.  I laughed and giggled through the whole thing.

Yet, at the same time, there is a strong sense of seriousness and peril, as well as great honor, throughout the entire story.  I couldn't help but follow along to discover what would happen, knowing I wouldn't be disappointed.

Character notes -
I loved all the characters in this book.  From the Duchess of Grand Fenwick to Tully Bascomb; from the President of the U.S. to the Russian Commissar.  Even if they weren't the most in-depth characters in literature (because this story wasn't exactly meant to focus on character), they were fascinating and realistic all the same.  I actually think the U.S. President is my favorite, with Gloriana (the Duchess) coming in at a close second.  I respected them both and loved the way they handled the sticky situations they were put in.

Story notes -
This story really focuses a lot on politics - with a mixture of action, silliness, romance, and character history on the side.  I was quite taken with the story line from the start of the book.  I cared about Grand Fenwick and their financial struggles and wanted them to find the solution.  Then, when they proposed war, the action started.  Then more politics...then suspense...and so on.  I loved the perfect trap the U.S. walked into, and the perfect set-up to win the war that the warriors of Grand Fenwick had.  And neither side knew it.  Quite a way to set up an unexpected ending to an already hilarious (and intriguing) story!

One word/phrase to sum it up (final thoughts) -
Uproarious!  I loved it all, even if it wasn't super deep or life-altering.  A bit of silliness, romance, and war mixed in with political disagreements of all different kinds makes for a lovely story and enjoyable read!

Monday, May 16, 2011

King Solomon's Mines by Sir H. Rider Haggard - A "For the Classics" Guest Review

This month For the Classics we have a lovely favorite blogger of mine here to review one of her favorite classics - King Solomon's Mines by Sir H. Rider Haggard.  Please welcome Small Review!


A little bit about Small:
Thank you so much for having me here, Sierra! I often think of Sierra as my book soulmate, so I’m super excited to be able to take part in her feature For the Classics. On my own blog, Small Review, I mostly babble about the YA books that make me happy (and not so happy), but I do try to sneak in a few mentions about classic books every now and then.

Visit her Blog.
Visit her Goodreads.

Her review:

Working in a library and considering myself a book lover, I know I’m supposed to hail classics as paragons of literature. But I have a secret to confess: the fact is that a whole lot of them just bore me to tears. *Runs and hides*

I often find myself helping kids locate the latest classic they were assigned to read for class. Usually my library kids are a mix of annoyed and apathetic over the prospect of slogging through whatever classic they’ve been assigned.

My heart breaks for those kids, but I also feel bad for all those great classics that get unfairly lumped into the “boring” category. Somewhere along the way “classics” has become synonymous with “boring” for my library kids and, admittedly, me. This is a shame though because so many classics are actually really great stories.

King Solomon’s Mines is a classic book that most certainly is NOT boring. Here’s what you get:

Three rugged British men
A missing brother
Questing for hidden treasure
African safari hunts
A war between the true king and the man who exiled him and stole his crown

Sounds pretty good, right? The three men band together to search for a missing brother and, with any luck, discover King Solomon’s famed treasure. They set out across the African plains where they battle great beasts, the harsh desert, and treacherous mountain passes. Their adventures lead them straight into the middle of a tribal war surrounding a despot and an heir wrongly removed from power.

I should include a warning here: King Solomon’s Mines is a product of its time and would probably offend a lot of people today (HRH’s views of Africa/Africans and women in particular are so NOT PC anymore). If you can get past all that, then you’re in for a rollicking good time. One of my favorite parts is the super-creepy Gagool—an old hag who advises the false king. She is as hilarious as she is spine-chilling. Gagool is a character I absolutely love to hate.

Throughout the whole book I was gasping and giddy over all of the totally kick-butt events. The pacing could be a little better, but I blitzed through the slower parts with no problem because I was completely wrapped up in the adventure and I wanted to see what would happen next. The final showdown toward the end of the book makes the whole thing so worth reading.

And that showdown? Totally NOT boring.


And let me end this wonderful post by saying:  "Thank you Small!!!! You rock!"  If you haven't visited her blog or followed her yet, do it now.  You really, really won't regret it!!  :)

Want to read last month's For the Classics Guest post?  Click here!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (book 1) by James Patterson

'Being a mutant isn't always easy. In fact, it's never easy. Maximum Ride and her friends - her family - are six mutants created by scientists at the School. They...well...they have wings. They can fly. Max, Fang, Iggy, the Gasman, Nudge, and Angel: a family, the best of friends, in hiding, freaks to the rest of the world, never completely safe. They are on their own, after their savior and father figure, Jeb, was killed.
But when the youngest of their Flock, Angel, is kidnapped by the Erasers, creatures created by the School for evil purposes, Max and her friends will do anything and everything to get her back - and they might just discover some startling secrets and life-or-death obstacles along the way.

My thoughts -
This story is told from Max's perspective, and let me just say first off - Dang! That girl has one powerful, impressive, and strong voice. But more on that in a bit....

This was one heck of a book. It was another "Well...I'm not sure if I'm going to like it" book. Another, "Holy crud I was sooooo wrong" book. I can't say enough good stuff about it - in fact, I'm lacking any sort of criticism...because there's nothing to criticise! James Patterson has all sorts of talent - in every area of writing/story-telling. It blew me out of the water.

For a while I was like, "Wow, this book is really well-developed in the story factor!" Then, a bit later, I thoguht, "He really focuses on characters and making them real...I'm impressed!" Then, the same thing about the action. Then the writing. Then the emotion. I went on like this in dog-chasing-tail fashion before I realized: It isn't one of these aseptcs...it's all of it - the whole flipping package!

Character notes -
From the very first pages, I felt like I knew Max already. She's strong, sweet, loving, and tough when she needs to be. When I think of Max, I think mature. She's had to go through so much, had to practically raise these kids on her own, and even through all the tough pockets of life, she loves them more than she loves herself. Her selflessness amazed me - as did the rest of the Flock's. All six of them were willing to give their lives for the others in a heartbeat.
I loved the whole Flock. All of them, so so much. They all brought something to the table, something vital to the story. They were all alive - I can still picture them perfectly, as though I've known them all my life. It's a pretty neat feeling.
(It's a difficult job, picking a favorite in a book that holds so many great characters, but Fang has got to be at the very top. He was wonderful the whole time. I love how his eyes and his fraction-of-a-second smiles convey his moods so perfectly, and all the while keep his character consistent and just awesome. And the sacrifices he makes for his "family"...man...I was so impressed - let's just say that!)

Story notes -
This is one of those books where everything bad that could possibly happens - happens. Like, there is no end to the amount of trouble, danger, and action. There are bombings, chase scenes, going under cover, fist fights, and lots and lots of secrets. Every chapter held a new dilemma, every chapter brought up some new disaster that kept the Flock from attaining their goal. This only worked to make this book even more genius than it already was.

The actual story is super duper emotional. More so than I was expecting. On top of the action-packed scenes (which take up the majority of the book), I couldn't help but feel deeply...for the entire book. It was heart-breaking, pitiful, and just plain yucky-feeling that these kids have nowhere to go...that they are looked upon as freaks, cast-aways of society. Life will never be normal for them. And when they triumph over their enemies in scenes throughout the book, all I wanted to do was jump out of my seat and whoop for joy! James Patterson really use the characters and their sticky situation to tug at your heart and keep you sucked into the story until you've turned the last page. And even after, coming from my perspective.

The writing is just as wonderful as the rest of this wonderful, awesome package of a story. It's simple, its own style, with a touch of humor and lots of really great dialogue to keep it flowing perfectly. Each character had his/her own way of speaking/expressing him/herself.

Oh, and the irony of this story.... Geeeee it kept me on my toes. Max was often put in ironic situations that she couldn't get out of, or that reminded her of something terrible from her past, or both. And this leads me to...
One word of phrase to sum it up (final thoughts) -
Ironic. Seriously ironic. And of course, all the other words you can use to describe a wonderful, action-packed, emotional sci-fi adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. Except, this isn't the end. There are six more books, and this is making me sooooo happy. I'm just dying for book #2 to come in at the library! (This is one of those series where I cease to care about all other books I have to read - I must...get...the...next...book!) Recommended to anyone and everyone...seriously. Don't hesitate to pick this up!

This is a very clean book - I think good for ages 12 and up! :)

Read my other reviews!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Gabi and Lia Betarrini are tired of being in Italy.  While most girls would love to spend summer vacation in Italy, it is not so for the Betarrini girls.  Their mother is a major archaeologist who spends most of her time in old tombs and castles.  The girls think it's boring to do this every summer, and especially now, since their father has died in an accident.  But when the girls come across some hand-prints in the wall of a tomb (a tomb they're not supposed to be in), Gabi is separated from her sister as they are transported back in time - right into the middle of a political land feud in the 14th century.
At first, it's like she's dreaming.  But when she realizes that this past world is real, she must face dangers like she never dreamed to find her sister and get them both home.  But the young man who rescued her at the tombs and gave her a place to stay in his family's castello - he's so wonderful.  She's never met anyone like him, and knows she never will again.  He is engaged to marry a very prominent young lady in Italy - but what if he loved her back?  Would such a love be strong enough to convince his family they were meant to be together - to make Gabi never want to leave this past time ever again?

My Thoughts -
I liked this book from the start, but it took me a while to love it like I was hoping to (about 150 pages).  But after those 150 pages, I was flying through, totally sucked into the story and loving the characters.  This really is a great time travel story.  I loved how it was all planned out, each aspect of the story so closely entwined with the others.  I felt very...involved.  As though I was living in the story.  It is original and builds the story on a world that, if I'm not mistaken, has been written about very little.

I sometimes felt like the dialogue was a bit off (examples: language back then was much more proper.  It's one thing for Gabi to use lots of contractions, but I felt like Marcello and Luca used too many.  Also, random word choices were just a bit too...modern for me); but most of the time I was swept away by their conversations.  I especially loved the politics involved in this story; to me, a bit of political intrigue added just the perfect touch to this story.  It wouldn't have been the same without it.

Character notes -

Let me start by saying that Gabi is one of my favorite heroines.  Every time she did something brave (which was most of the book), all I could think was, "You go girl!!!!"  I admire her so much and love her brave heart.  She's a "she-wolf" all right!  I really loved how it showed her growing faith and trust in the Lord - how she heard prayers that were really felt by those saying them, and how she began to cling to that communication between her, a feeble human, and the Almighty God.  Inspiring. :)

I may be a "loner" here, in saying what I'm about to say...  But:  I didn't fall for Marcello right away.  In fact (this goes for both Marcello and Luca), I wasn't even sure if I liked his character.  Both he and Luca were a bit bland to me at first.  But after a few chapters, once things got into full-swing, they became more realistic.  Also, I came to appreciate Marcello's personality and strong character before I found his physical features attractive.  I couldn't quite picture him for the first 100 pages, but after that I could see his face clearly.  For those wondering what I thought:  Yes, he's a good-looking guy, but I prefer...less shoulder, more height.  Every time Gabi would admire his broad shoulders, it kind of bugged me...until I started to like him, as a person.  Then I was okay with anything she did or said. ;)

I never quite got into Luca...he stayed bland to me through most of the book.  But Fortino - he's a definite favorite character.  I felt bad for him in his sickness, cared for him, and felt pain when he did.  He was really well developed to me and I can't wait to read more about him in the second book!

Story notes -
Everything about this story was well pieced together.  The time travel, the events, the battles, the relationships...  The love story is my favorite aspect - it had me gasping because they couldn't be together.  Stupid, wonderful forbidden love - you make me crazy!  I must admit, though:  for the first 100 pages I didn't quite see the connection between them.  I could see how/why he was crazy about her, but I didn't quite understand her side, and why she was attracted to him...  (It was probably because I wasn't even sure what I thought about him.)  But then...oh!  Then there was the secret-meeting-to-dance scene (well, that's how it ends up...), and I was all for the romance, and could totally see why Gabi loves him.  That scene was one of my favorites!

The peril in this story is definitely intense.  Like, for the last 100 pages or so I bit my nails down to the quick.  I knew that at any moment, anything at all could go wrong.  To be able to do that to your readers is very good story telling.

One word or phrase to sum it up (final thoughts) -
The word that runs through my mind when I think of this book is daring. It was so full of adventure and romance and wonderful twists and turns that had me shocked. (AKA - for those who have read it - chapter 19, page 288 specifically. If you read this and weren't gasping for breathing and absolutely shocked by this turn of events...and that stupid ***spoiler!!!*** blank page...well...I don't even know what to say to you. HA!) I definitely recommend this book and think everyone should give it a try! :) Now, I have to wait for book 2, Cascade, to come out. At least it's only three weeks! :)
For the parents -
Honestly, nothing. There's a quick, one paged scene where some bad guys throw Gabi to the ground, tacking her there with their swords. One guy moves to untie his pants...and the good guy comes running in. The word "rape" is not even mentioned; his intentions almost went unnoticed to me. There are a few kisses, innocent and sweet. Good for ages 12 or 13 (depending on maturity level) and up. :)

Wanna read my favorite quote from the book? Click here!

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Oh, the cleverness of me!"

When in need of a great post title, look to James Barrie for guidance.  You'll surely  sound...clever.  ;)

I'm not really that clever.  I just love Peter Pan.  With a passion.  If you haven't read it, you need to add it to your TBR.  And if it's on your TBR and you're hesitating to read it, I'm going to be a nosy book pusher and tell you to go buy it and read it now.

And if you have read it, let us spend a moment, basking in the glory of Barrie's genius....


....I wish that moment could last longer, but I have an important announcement to make!

Today, I hit a milestone.  This milestone, when hit by other bloggers, usually involves a giveaway...

I now, officially, have 50 followers!!!!!!
My one year blogoversary is coming up in less than a month!!!!!

I am absolutely beyond excited about this - and I want to share this excitement with everyone.  I don't quite know what the prize will be, but rest assured - it will be a lovely book of sorts!!!  I promise to have the official giveaway post up soon.  It will probably last for a month, maybe more! :D

Besides all this exciting blog stuff...my life is starting to slow down, to a certain extent.  The SAT is over, thank you Jesus!  Now, I only have a few major subjects left ('tis the beauty of being homeschooled)...  I will be a high school graduate on June 17th (!!!) and my summer will be in full swing.  I have friends coming from out of town, camping trips on the beach...all the usual fun summer stuff.  AND, of course, LOTS of good reading! :)

Oh, and I can't forget:  A very Happy Mother's Day - belated, sorry!  Mommy, you're the absolute best ever.  I want to be like you - God was so kind to place me in this family!  And a happy birthday shout out to my daddy!!  Daddy, you're amazing.  I pray I marry a man as fantastically awesome as you.  ;)

Happy reading everyone!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

April Summary

This month I'm doing my summary a little bit differently!  There's a picture of each book I read, and next to it is a little excerpt of my review, so you can kind of get a feel for the book/review.  :)
I read a total of 11 books this month and, while I liked some of them and loved others, there were a couple that I just..blech.  (There are 2 more not included in the 11 that I couldn't even finish!)  I could complain about this...but, I won't.  After having an incredible month of reading last month, I was beginning to worry if every book I read for the rest of the year would be rated five stars or close to.  That's why I'm glad I got a couple of two and three stars in there, to prove that I'm not losing my (somewhat) critical eye.  ;)

Overall I enjoyed this month and am excited for what May brings!  Because we might be moving very soon, and lots of end of the year studying, and week long conference coming up, this blog may or may not be neglected...  But I promise, once I'm a graduate things will pick up again! :)

Here are my reviews for the month!

"Oh, sigh...  How immensely I love this book.  If I could have my way, I'd write out the whole entire book as my review, just because there is really no way to do it justice.  However, I will try.  I will try my hardest.

This is my third time to read Scaramouche.  So, as you can imagine, I've spent a lot of time with this book..."

"Delirium shook me to the core.
No, really, my hands were shaking and my breathing was coming fast.
But first, I must rewind to the beginning.  At the beginning, within the first ten pages, my jaw dropped.  This is quality literature, I told myself, sucking in those pages without delay.  The writing.  The characters.
The atmosphere.
Picture yourself sitting, surrounded by the white halls of a hospital.  Everything smells clean, sterile, and you can't help but notice the faint echo, as though life, real life, is outside the walls that surround you..."

"How cute!  I wasn't sure what to be expecting from this book, but I quite enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.  It wasn't as polished or detailed as I was hoping - the writing was a bit plain for my taste - but nevertheless it was so fun and sweet and innocent and I will definitely be reading it again!..."

"I seriously wanted to like this book.  I had heard amazing things about it and, knowing it is a love story and I am a sucker for love stories, I was so excited to dive in.

When I did, I was met with:  an unexpectedly low pace; major character inconsistencies; a really weird atmosphere that didn't match up at all with the time period; modern dialogue; stupid, inconsistent emotions, or too much exaggerated emotion; and a whole lot of waiting...and waiting...and waiting...."

"This is my first time reading To Kill a Mockingbird (people have looked at me, shocked, for saying that), and not only can I say that I've read it, but I can also say that I loved it.
I was quite moved by this story.  Moved to laughter, moved to sorrow, moved to anger, moved to love.  I was inspired by this little girl Jean Louise who saw the world so innocently.  I wanted to be like her.  I want to be like her.  She was precious to read about...."

"I love this book!  I'm so happy to be further into the series now and I can't wait to read book #3!  There is so much to love about this book...  The fun characters, the original atmosphere, and the well-built story.  This is quality literature and I'm definitely a fan...."

Read the full review!

"I liked this book.  It didn't shock me or wow me or bring me to tears.  It didn't carry me on the waves of love or hate or disgust or longing.  This story has a strong atmosphere - but that's about it.  I enjoyed the feeling of waves beneath me, being the only ship for hundreds of miles in a vast and unpredictable see, the salty sea-spray that was constantly in the air...  But it lacked action, determination, and characters to attach myself to.  I wasn't longing for more when I set the book down; I was actually happy it was over, as I'd started to feel the pages slowly creeping past, counting the amount left until it'd be over...."

"I wasn't quite sure if it was possible. I didn't know where Rallison was going to go with this book, and while I was sure it was going to be great, I didn't exactly know how great. My Fair Godmother was an exceptional piece of literature - serious, light, fluffy, adventurous, dangerous, funny, and romantic, all in one book - and I didn't think she could do it again.
HA! I laugh at my own stupidity. To think she couldn't do it again - and then to find that she has done it better. Yes. You read correctly - better.
My Unfair Godmother was a little darker, had a bit more action....."

Read the full review!

"Ohhhhhh sigh...happy happy sigh.  I was hooked from the very beginning.  The massive amount of character, the darling relationships between the sisters, the perfect fairy tale world - it made my heart flutter.  Even when there wasn't a lot of action or mystery, it was still undeniably interesting and fascinating.  Everything about this world inspired me and made me want to live there, even if just for a time.  It became my favorite castle, my favorite fantasy country (the landscaping Heather Dixon did was magical!), and my favorite magical underground pavilion....."

Read the full review!

"I'm immensely proud of Harry!  He has three years at Hogwarts behind him and has lived through all of them (if only barely).  He has become like a friend, especially through this third book in the series, which I found to be better than the last.  Everything about this book was awesome.  But not only the story and characters; I felt like I could picture everything a whole lot better, like putting my glasses on in the morning...."

Other than reviews...
I hosted some Friday Buys.
My darling friend Laura from A Work of Fiction wrote a guest post For the Classics that you can read here.
I hosted two giveaways.
I share some wonderful quotes.
I published my first ARC review.
And I published my Review Policy!!!! :D

My Pages:
TBR list
About me
Book Reviews
Review Policy/Contact page
"For the Classics" sign up!
Blogs I Love (this is new!)

Happy April, everybody! :D

Friday, May 6, 2011

Waterfall (Quotes)

Marcello ceased his pacing and stood before me.  "Can you maintain the charade?  Truly, see it all the way through?"  His tone was calmer now, as if his fear for me returned.  "If the Paratores - or Lord Vannucci - discover that you intend to double-cross them, they will not hesitate to slit your throat..."  He shook his head.  "There will be no second chance, Gabriella."
- Chatper 13, pages 215-216

My favorite quote from Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren!  It really captures the intensity of the moment (and most of the book), is a great example of Marcello's character, and shows off a bit of the lovely dialogue within these covers. ;)

(If you've read the book, just know I felt out a sentence after "throat" because it gives away...something...)

I really love how the story is playing out, the character/relationship building, all that.  It is one super good read! :)

Friday Buys 4/29/11 - 5/6/11

This was a fun week of buying.  Got one smokin' deal and another good deal....  But I would pay a good amount of money (to a certain extent, of course) to get my hands on Entwined, so $10 isn't that bad!

Entwined by Heather Dixon
If you haven't read this book yet, I have one question for you:  "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!"
Sorry.  Excuse my rude interruption.
Anyways, I was beyond excited when this lovely copy came in the mail.  It is now sitting on my shelf, the shelf that I wish it to call home for a long, long time.  If anyone removes it without my permission, spills food on it, bends its pages (no dog-earing!), loses it, mars it, or destroys it in any way will lose a hand.  Or two.
Just kidding...sort of.

Gorgeous.  I love the old feel of it, just like an old childhood fairy tale that you've always loved and always will... :)

Not only are the cover and contents beautiful, but the actual layout of the inside is beautiful! :)

Dark Life by Kat Falls (Dark Life #1)
I picked this book up a year ago, loved what I read, but had to put it down due to circumstances.  I've always meant to pick it up again, but hardly remembered it amidst all the other titles that bombarded me after I started my blog.  (This is a good thing!)  But, after a lovely Goodreads giveaway, I miraculously won one of five hardcover copies of Dark Life.  It's signed, too!!  So basically, I'm DYING to get into it again! :D

The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl #2)
I haven't read the first book, but I found this copy in pretty darn good condition for 50 cents!  Sorry, I canNOT pass up a deal like that.  Now I've purchased #1 and #2 for a total of $1.00.  Super proud of myself here...  Keep this up and I'll have the whole series for less than $5.00. ;)  (Now all I need to do is read them...)

Happy reading everyone! :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guest Posting at "My Love Affair With Books"!

Wanna read a guest post?  This one is an interview of sorts, one that was soooo much fun to do! :)  Thank you so much, Misha, for giving me this opportunity!

See the post here!

My Love Affair With Books

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

This is the third book in the series.  This review is free of spoilers!  However, to read my reviews of the other books, click below:

Harry is thirteen years old now.  But of course, his birthday isn't going as planned.  For one, he needs his Uncle Vernon to sign a paper that will let Harry go to the town near Hogwarts with his friends, and he doubts his uncle will allow him that happiness.  Plus, a dangerous criminal has just been reported as on the loose and immensely dangerous.  And, to make things worse, Uncle Vernon's sister, Aunt Marge, is coming to see them.  Marge has never exactly been friendly to Harry (in fact, she's been a complete jerk), but Harry promises to be a "good boy" as long as Vernon promises to sign his paper to let him go to town.  But after a terrible accident with Aunt Marge, Harry takes a chance and runs away - and is rescued and taken to Hogwarts.  Now, however, there is greater danger: the escaped convict, Sirius Black, is actually an evil wizard who has been locked up in Azkaban for twelve years.  He has managed to escape the prison, something no one has ever done, and now he is after Harry.  As the mystery of Black's whereabouts begins to unfold, Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermoine, realize there is more to Black than appears, and he may have a much closer connection to the Potters than Harry would have ever dreamed, not even in his nightmares.

My Thoughts -

I'm immensely proud of Harry!  He has three years at Hogwarts behind him and has lived through all of them (if only barely).  He has become like a friend, especially through this third book in the series, which I found to be better than the last two.  Everything about this book was awesome.  But not only the story and characters; I felt like I could picture everything a whole lot better, like putting my glasses on in the morning.  Now is the time when I've become attached to the characters, the world, the underlying story.  I'm so excited to soon get to the next book!

Character notes -

I now officially love Harry.  I always liked him, but he really grew up in this book.  Even still, though, my favorite characters (from the whole series so far) are Fred and George Weasley.  They make me laugh soooo hard and I can never get enough of their mischief and wit!

Professor Lupin was also a favorite...  He fascinated me from the first time they see him, sleeping in the train.  I also wasn't sure if he was good or bad the whole time...hard to explain to someone who hasn't read these books yet, but I'm sure most of you HP fans out there kind of have an idea of what I mean.

One thing about the characters that really really stood out to me:  the sacrifice between friends.  When Ron gets hurt, and the three friends are caught in a life-or-death situation, they all three offer their lives instead of the others'.  That made me grin - you know friends really love each other (really really really love each other) when they're willing to give their lives for each other.

Story notes -

This story was much more intense and enthralling than the last two (and I believe they get even more intense and enthralling, from what I've heard)!  The mystery involving Sirius Black, the practices/games of Quidditch, the revealed information about Harry's parents and Voldemort, the new classes introduced, and the awesome twists at the end - it all made me love the series ten times more than I had before.

One word or phrase to sum it up (final thoughts) -
There were two words running through my mind the whole time I read this book : absolutely fascinating.  And now that it's over, the three words going through my mind are:  next book please!  If you've waited a long time to read these books (like I have), don't wait now.  Get them and read them!

Read my other reviews here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Azalea is the oldest of eleven girls - soon to be twelve.  Her mother has been sickly for a couple of years, and now that the baby is about to come, she is worse off than ever.  Before the Christmas Ball, the queen asks Azalea to promise to keep her sisters safe - to protect them.  Azalea promises, determined to keep that promise.
The girls' mother dies only a short while after.
Now, in mourning, the girls are not allowed outside, they cannot visit with anyone except on R.B. (royal business), and they cannot dance.  But dancing is their way of life - it is what their mother taught them to do, what keeps them going and joyful through the day.  They must dance.
When the girls discover a secret tunnel that leads to a breautiful, magical pavilion, they are invited to dance there every night by the Keeper, a dark, gorgeous, and silky smooth young man who seems to have an eye for Azalea.  But when things start to get out of hand (the girls learn that the Keeper likes to keep things), family ties are strengthened, and romance buds, the girls must find their way out of a trap that could very well lose their lives - and the lives of those most precious to them - to an terrible cursed gentleman who wants nothing but revenge.


My thoughts -
Ohhhhhh sigh...happy happy sigh.  I was hooked from the very beginning.  The massive amount of character, the darling relationships between the sisters, the perfect fairy tale world - it made my heart flutter.  Even when there wasn't a lot of action or mystery, it was still undeniably interesting and fascinating.  Everything about this world inspired me and made me want to live there, even if just for a time.  It became my favorite castle, my favorite fantasy country (the landscaping Heather Dixon did was magical!), and my favorite magical underground pavilion.

Seriously, this world is perfect.  It's exactly what I, personally, feel should be every fairy tale (even though that's impossible).  I've had this vision of the perfect fairy tale world - what it should look, feel, smell like - and I've waited a long time to to read a fairy tale that's like it.  This one hits the bull's eye.  Completely and utterly.  It had just the right amount of creepy, lovely, feminine, adventure, mystery, beauty, silver, glass, black, colors, dancing, romance, personality, and magic.  I'm so impressed!

Character notes -
I loved all of the sisters, each and every one of them.  Each one had her own lovely something to add to the story:  a cute lisp, an adorable stutter, beautiful long hair, a love for reading, a brash vocabulary, or a desire to serve.  And they all love to dance, which bonds them together.

Azalea was a beautiful example of an elder sister who loves her sisters more than herself and will do everything she can to help/protect/serve them.  Bramble is a personal favorite, just because of her "colorful" word choices.  She always uses words that don't quite sound princess-y, but they are perfect for her wild personality.  Her relationship with Delphinium made me laugh - they reminded me of Jo and Amy March from Little Women, respectively.  The practical girl with the straightforward way of speaking, compared to the romantic girl who is always dramatic - it's a duo that I'll never get tired of.  All the rest of the girls were just as wonderful but....as there are twelve of them...I shouldn't get into it.  I could probably write individual books about them, they all have so much to offer! ;)

Now on to the gentlemen.  There were a lot of male characters presented in this story, which I loved.  They were all so unique!  The King was a great character because of the conflict he brought to the story.  Minister Fairweller was awesome; he may not be a favorite of the characters but I, personally, loved him.  Lord Teddie...  OH!  He had me rolling on the floor laughing for minutes on end - and that's NOT an exaggeration!  I would laugh out loud, snort, snicker, and just giggle hysterically.  He had the funniest vocabulary!!  And for anyone who has read/seen Little Dorrit - he totally reminded me of Edmund Sparkler!!  Mr. Keeper is, without a doubt, one of my favorite antagonists.  He was so smooth and richly handsome - but I never really knew if he was good or bad.  He had me chilled to the bone and then doubting my own feelings about him.  Wow.

And, last but most certainly not least....  Mr. Bradford.  Lord Bradford.  Captain Bradford.  I love him.  Forget all those super sleek and beautiful and dashing men - Mr. Bradford made me grin from ear to ear in happiness, and shortly into the book he had me wishing I was Azalea.  His ruffled hair, stiff collar, and quiet selflessness all had me wishing he'd appear out of the book and fall for me!  (Unfortunately, these things never do happen...)

Story notes -
This story had me on my toes the entire time.  I read at a minimum one hundred pages a day and had the book with me at all times.  I wished for more, more, more!  The twists and turns and the originality of it (all the while keeping really close to the Grimms' story) were almost too good to be true.  Like I said above about waiting for a book to have that certain feel about - it was just...so perfect.  There were no breaks in the story line, the writing flowed gracefully from beginning to end, and there was always something new to chew on.  There were a few scenes that really stood out to me (the masque ball, the broken ornaments, the mirrors, the funny scenes with the girls asking the men on R.B. obnoxious questions), but honestly, every scene was phenomenal.  Really. :D 

One word to sum it up (final thoughts) -
I'm going to do something I've never done before - take from the title.  Entwining.  This book pulled me in with graceful fingers and let me go with a lasting impression - something I'll never forget.  I want my children to one day read this gorgeous version of this fairytale because it is just so wonderful!  (And just so you all know - someday, I want to show my husband the Soul's Curtsy.  That scene melted my heart!)

Nothing for the parents!  This was an extremely clean book!