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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist #1) by Rick Yancey

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: September 22, 2009
Pages: 454
Source: Won from YA Book Shelf (Thanks!)
Rating: 5 Stars - Super Crazy Awesome!

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.
So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was eating her, Will's world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagus—a headless monster that feeds through a mouth in its chest—and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.

In short: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is a masterpiece, a thrilling horror with exquisite writing and terrifying monsters.
Monsters are real and some of them come in the form of headless seven foot tall hominoids with thousands of razor-sharp teeth in their stomachs, called Anthropophagi. Oh, how refreshing to read about monsters that want to rip you to shreds rather than the more romantic fare that we are so used to in YA these days! The Monstrumologist is horror at its best: terrifying and thrilling, enthralling and unputdownable, despite the absolutely nightmarish horror of the events.

I don't often comment on the writing in books but I simply must do so for Rick Yancey's writing. The Monstrumologist is definitely the best written book I've read this year. The prose is mesmerizing and rich and portions of it left me in complete awe. With a few well crafted phrases, Rick Yancey can paint a horrifying image that becomes imprinted in your brain and follows you long after you finish reading. There are a few terrifyingly gorgeous images from The Monstrumologist that I will never, ever forget.

I wouldn't say the writing style made The Monstrumologist an easy read, however. Taking place in Victorian New England, there were quite a few words and terms that went over my head. I needed to read The Monstrumologist with a dictionary in my other hand. I don't see this as being a negative point though. I love feeling challenged and I love that Rick Yancey didn't dumb down his writing and in the process, patronize the reader.

I was also very impressed with the attention to detail with regards to the biological aspect of The Monstrumologist. Coming from a science background, I often nitpick instances in books where there are scientific falsities that the author failed to research when writing. I am happy to report that I found nothing of the sort to nitpick in The Monstrumologist. Rick Yancey's knowledge of evolutionary adaptations and anatomy was evident, of which I was very appreciative.

And lastly, the characters in The Monstrumologist were brilliantly written, perfectly developed, and completely intriguing. I loved the dynamic between the monstrumologist, Dr. Warthrop, and his twelve year old assistant, Will Henry. The Monstrumologist is told as if written from Will Henry's journal and follows Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop's monster hunting adventures together. They have two very different personalities that often warred (Dr. Warthrop is egocentric and obsessed with his work and Will Henry is sweet and brave and honourable) but you could tell they care for each other deeply as they are the only person in each other's life.

Overall, The Monstrumologist was absolutely fantastic (and other people must agree because it won a Printz Honour award)! Certain passages left me awed and breathless, they were so well written and horribly horrifying. I highly recommend The Monstrumologist to fans of horror and historical fiction. I can't wait to read more of Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop's monster hunting adventures in the sequel, The Curse of the Wendigo!

Other Reviews:
A Myriad of Books
Page Turner's Blog
Good Books and Good Wine

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the YA Series Challenge

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush #1) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: October 13, 2009
Pages: 391
Source: Won from Simon and Schuster Canada (Thank you!)
Rating: 3 Stars - I Liked It

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along. 
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. 
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

In short: Though Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick has a cliched plot and romance, it also has an addicting quality that compels you to read on.
So a boy and a girl meet in Biology class and the boy proceeds to stalk said girl. The girl is taken with the boy but cannot help but notice that something is not quite normal with him and does some research online. Turns out he is a paranormal being! Where have I read this plot before?

So yeah, my main beef with this book was that it was just a little too reminiscent of Twilight for my liking. One might argue that most paranormal romances follow a similar formula but I thought Hush, Hush had numerous plot points that were just uncanny in their similarity to Twilight. The dynamic of the developing romance between Nora and Patch was thankfully much different than Bella and Edward's though.

That said, while I was happy that there was a sufficient difference in the dynamic of their romance, I have to say Nora and Patch's particular brand of romance really didn't appeal to me. You see, Nora is frightened of Patch, but "that fright was equal part allure." Hmm. It's just not my thing. I don't find anything alluring about being flat out stalked by a guy and feeling frightened for my life. I think there was a time when I used to be much more tolerant of bad boy-good girl relationships but I find now that I'm, at the very least, annoyed by them, and at the very most, angry by them.

I was slightly more amused by the dynamic of Nora with best friend Vee. Their dialogue together was a constant source of hilarity. Even still, many of their shenanigans in Hush, Hush were outright silly. Their attempts at interrogation and sleuthing to solve a murder mystery were ridiculous and juvenile. And for an honours student, Nora makes some pretty stupid and questionable decisions. Her character was bordering on TSTL territory.

All these faults set aside, I cannot deny that Hush, Hush was an addictive read. At the same time that I was finding the romance and characters frustrating and annoying, I was compelled by some unknown force to keep reading and keep reading quickly. I might put this down to the simplicity of a well known plot and the state of mindlessness and ease that I achieved while reading it. Hush, Hush may have been cliched but it was an easy read and I could not help but be entertained throughout the majority of it.

Other Reviews:
365 Days of Reading
Alison Can Read
Just Another Story

Stalk the author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the YA Series Challenge

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (11): Witches and Magic

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which an upcoming, eagerly anticipated release is highlighted on the blog.

This week, I am waiting on books with Witches and Magic:

Title: The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion
Date: August 2, 2011

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Title: Witchlanders
Author: Lena Coakley
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date: August 30, 2011

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.
It’s all a fake.
At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?
But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—
Are about him.

Title: Witch Song
Author: Amber Argyle
Publisher: Rhemalda
Date: September 1, 2011

The world is changing. Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons-but not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor. All but Brusenna. As the echo of their songs fades, the traitor grows stronger. Now she is coming for Brusenna. Her guardian has sworn to protect her, but even he can't stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her. Because if Brusenna doesn't, there won't be anything left to save.

Title: Beautiful Chaos
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown
Date: October 18, 2011

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?
For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.
Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

It's no secret that I love books that have witches and magic. I love the fantastical spells, the damning prophecies, and the ancient curses. And I love seeing authors find new ways to reinvent the lore and the magic in their books. The Near Witch is one that has been getting a lot of buzz lately, mainly due to the great writing and storytelling abilities of Victoria Schwab. I've read Witchlanders (My review) already and loved it for its original high fantasy world and refreshing Bromance. Out of all these, Witch Song is the one I know least about but I love the blurb so I hope to learn more about it soon. And Beautiful Chaos is, of course, the third book in the fantastic series, The Caster Chronicles. I've only read Beautiful Creatures (My review) so far but I absolutely fell in love with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's writing as well as Ethan Wate, the protagonist.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these books with Witches and Magic? Are there any upcoming books featuring Witches and Magic that aren't included here that you feel I should know about?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Muggle Monday (15): Deathly Hallows Part 2 Movie Review

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I post a quote, a video, or a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Mondayposts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this meme: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This week, I'm posting my thoughts on the final movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I have to say, I don't think it's really sunk in yet that it's over. I'm still in shock and don't know what to think. I'll have to watch it a second time to get a full appreciation of what I saw on the screen because I was freaking out so much in the theatre the first time around.

In the meantime, here are a few frazzled and jumbled point-form-thoughts that I did manage to form after watching the movie for the first time:

  • The special effects in the Gringotts Dragon Escape scene were stellar. Though I didn't like that they made it Hermione's idea to jump on the dragon when it was Harry's in the book. I think Harry is the only one of the Trio who is stupidly brave enough to think up such a thing.
  • Out of my Top 10 Favourite Moments from the book that I hoped would make it into the movie, the only one that was axed was Dumbledore's backstory. So yay! that the majority made it in, but boo! that they left that out.
  • Professor McGonagall is my hero.
  • Ron and Hermione finally kissed and it was cute and satisfying.
  • The Grey Lady scene didn't make my Top 10 Favourite Moments from Deathly Hallows, the Book but it definitely does in Deathly Hallows, the Movie.
  • The Prince's Tale scene was my favourite of the movie. Lengthy and involved and crying-ugly-tears-sad.
  • Alan Rickman is an Acting God.
  • Harry's Walk of Sacrifice was also perfect and crying-ugly-tears-sad.
  • The piece of Voldemort's soul in the King's Cross scene was even more creepy looking than it was in my head.
  • Some of my favourite lines in the book including, "You've been raising him like a pig for slaughter," "After all this time? Always," "Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?" and "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" all made it in, so yay!
  • Neville Longbottom is my hero.
  • The only real WTF scene of the movie was Harry hugging Voldemort and then flinging themselves off the castle and then flying around and then at one point their faces merge together? and it was weird and confusing and didn't make any sense. W.T.F.
  • Scratch that: another WTF scene was when Voldemort's stringy robes reached out and wrapped around Harry as if they had a mind of their own. W.T.F.
  • All the little kids in this movie in flashbackwards/forwards scenes were super cute. I just wanted to squeeze them.
  • The aging process for the men in the Nineteen Years Later scene was well done, but the women looked like they had barely aged at all strangely.

Hmm, I've probably forgot many things worth mentioning. Overall, I am very much pleased with the movie. And I promise I will like it even more after a second viewing once I've calmed down and can absorb more and not be so critical. Have you seen the movie yet? What were your favourite and least favourite moments? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


It's time to announce the winner of the BlogFest Giveaway of any book worth up to $15 CAD from The Book Depository! There were a total of 307 entries. I was so happy to take part in this blog hop and I hope to take part in it next year as well! And the winner, according to random.org, is:

Congrats! Please email me with your address and your choice of book (either an old release or a preorder) within the next 48 hours at ayleejaine(at)gmail(dot)com.

Update: Unfortunately, the winner never got back to me in time. Shame. But be on the lookout for my next giveaway in a month!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BlogFest 2011

BlogFest 2011 is an event hosted by A Journey of Books (Tracking Site).

Well, hello there, welcome to my blog! As you can probably tell, I had a particular inspiration when I created it. By the way, the last Harry Potter movie EVER is released today (just in case you've been living under a rock) and this means life, as we knew it, is over. Not even a hint of an exaggeration in that statement. As if I wasn't already having trouble recovering from my addiction when the books ended, now that the end is even more final I'm going to need a Twelve-Step Program, for real. Excuse me while I go sob in the corner in the fetal position.

Ahem. Sorry about that. Onto to happier things: for this blog hop, I'll be giving away...

Any Book worth up to $15 CAD from The Book Depository!

1. To enter, leave a comment with your email
2. Following is not required but always appreciated!
3. Open Internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to you
4. Ends July 17 at 11:59 PM EST
5. Entrants must be at least 13 years old
6. The winner will be announced on the blog and will have 48 hours to respond.

Good luck!

Here are the next five stops in the BlogFest Blog Hop:
Red Hot Books
Refracted Light Reviews
Rikki's Teleidoscope
Riverina Romantics
Romantic Love Books

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: August 30, 2011
Pages: 411
Source: For Review from Simon and Schuster Canada (Thank you!)
Rating: 4 Stars - I Loved It!

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.
It’s all a fake.
At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?
But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—
Are about him.

In short: Witchlanders by Lena Coakley is a fascinating and original high fantasy debut with a refreshing Bromance.
The synopsis for this book is a bit misleading. You would think the story was all about Ryder but it was really about two main characters and their relationship: Ryder, a Witchlander, and Falpian, a Baen. The synopsis also suggests, to me anyway, that romance is likely between Ryder and this "beautiful and silent witch" he must confront, but there is barely a hint of such a thing. Also misleading: the cover. There is no character in the book who has the features of the girl on this cover, pale skin and blond hair. In the world of Witchlanders, the Witchlander race has brown skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, whereas the Baen race has pale skin, black hair, and black eyes. Even the one mixed race character of note does not have the features of the girl on this cover. So that's odd.

Even though I was expecting a much different book, I loved the book I ended up getting. Witchlanders is a high fantasy tale with a richly developed and creative world. Coakley created her own complex and involved history of the Witchlander and Baen people and their longstanding feud. I was just so impressed by Coakley's imagination, to create a whole new world, creatures, magics, and religions. The background information is integrated so well with the story; the reader is not removed from the action in the process of learning more about the lore. The world building was definitely the highlight for me in Witchlanders.

Something else that I really enjoyed and found refreshing in Witchlanders was the lack of romance. Instead, we got a hardcore Bromance between Ryder and Falpian. It was interesting to follow their story as they find each other and learn their destiny. Something I was less fond of was the character building which I found a bit lacking. I just needed a bit more. Sometimes I found myself confused with certain character motivations that weren't explained as well as they could be. One character that I truly loved though was Bo, Falpian's sabre-toothed Dreadhound, who was intelligent and endearing. Though if you know me, it's really no surprise that I would be so taken with a charming dog in a book.

The pacing was well done and flowed quickly and the final action sequence was especially intense and lengthy. The final clues as to the antagonist and the reasonings behind their actions were uncovered brilliantly. The immediate conflict in the story was wrapped up nicely and yet, a continuing conflict was left open. I am unable to find any evidence of a sequel, however, leaving me to believe Witchlanders is a standalone. I didn't even know standalones existed anymore.

Stalk the Author (not for serious):

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Monday, July 11, 2011

Muggle Monday (14): Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I post a quote, a video, or a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this meme: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This week, I'm posted my completely unbiased review of the final book in the Harry Potter Series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

WARNING: I usually try my best to avoid spoilers in my reviews however, for this review, I made no such attempt. You should not read this review unless you've read every book in the Harry Potter Series (and if you haven't, then why the heck not?)!

Publisher: Raincoast Books
Published: July 21, 2007
Pages: 607
Source: Bought
Rating: 7 STARS

Harry is waiting in Privet Drive. The Order of the Phoenix is coming to escort him safely away without Voldemort and his supporters knowing if they can. But what will Harry do then? How can he fulfil the momentous and seemingly impossible task that Professor Dumbledore has left him with. In this final, seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling unveils in spectactular fashion the answers to the many questions that have been so eagerly awaited. The spellbinding, richly woven narrative, which plunges, twists and turns at a breathtaking pace, confirms the author as a mistress of storytelling, whose books will be read, reread and read again.

I've been staring at the keyboard, wondering what to type for this review, for a very long time now. You see, even though I am a self-confessed Harry Potter Addict and built my blog around that theme, I never actually planned to write reviews of the Harry Potter books themselves. I never thought it was doable and I'm still not sure if I can complete this review. How do I review a book series that has meant the world to me? I simply can't. I could not possibly be able to put into words, put into even the most gushing praise, how I feel about this series and about this final installment. I can't do the books justice. But I will give it a go, I think.

As any self-respecting Potter Super Fan, I lined up to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at one minute past midnight on July 21, 2007 and proceeded to devour it as soon as I received it. This is one heavy action book. It both starts and ends with intense and epic action sequences, perfectly put together by J.K. Rowling to induce heart-pumping fear for the lives of our favourite characters. Jo had previously stated that book seven was going to be a bloodbath and thus, I spent the entirety of the book more tense and prone to random bursts of crying than I've ever been when reading a book. My copy of this book still has stains from my tears from when Hedwig, Dobby, and Snape died. Though at no time was I more of a sobbing mess than when Harry is walking to his death in the most horribly and beautifully poignant scene in the series.

There were no really big surprises in this book for me. Again, like any self-respecting Potter Super Fan, there wasn't a day that passed from 2005 (when Half-Blood Prince was released) to 2007 when I wasn't pondering about what was going to go down in the final book. I correctly predicted that R.A.B. was Sirius' brother, that Slytherin's locket was the same one they found when cleaning Grimmauld Place in Order of the Phoenix, that Snape was ultimately Dumbledore's man and the two of them had planned Dumbledore's death together, that Snape was in love with Harry's mother, that Harry was a Horcrux that would need to be destroyed, and that ultimately, Harry would make it through the battle to marry Ginny, and Ron would marry Hermione.

But I admit I was taken by surprise by the reveal of Dumbledore's past. Of course I should have known better. J.K. Rowling excels at writing complex characters that do not fall under the too easy "good guy" and "bad guy" categories. I had been fooled once before into thinking James Potter was an all around good guy only to have been rudely awakened to the reality in Order of the Phoenix, so I feel dim that it didn't once occur to me that Dumbledore could be anything but the complete anti-Voldemort. But if anything, the realization that he is susceptible to the draw of power, and therefore not perfect, makes me love the character oh-so-much-more. With the inclusion of his flaws, he ironically becomes the perfect character in my view.

There are some amazing character moments in this final installment. Not only do we get to see the return of many characters that we hadn't seen for awhile, but our most beloved characters of the series receive shining moments to showcase their audacity and nerve one last time, one last hurrah, for the last book. Neville really comes into his own, becomes a badass, really, and leads the cause against the Death Eaters that have taken over Hogwarts. We see for the first time a man who could have been The Chosen One, as he truly might have been had Voldemort chose him as his equal instead of Harry. Molly Weasley also has one of the most brilliant showcases of badassery in her showdown with Bellatrix Lestrange. "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!" will forever be one of my favourite lines of the series.

Jeez, I just looked up and realized how long-winded this review is. Sorry guys. I guess that's why it's good to plan out what you want to talk about in a review first before just writing willy-nilly all of your thoughts. I think I'll stop here even though I could probably go on for several more paragraphs. If you're interested, I wrote a guest post for The Book Addicted Girl talking about my Top 10 favourite moments from the second half of Deathly Hallows.

I guess I'll just say that in summary, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling is the perfect ending to the perfect series. But I think you all probably could have guessed that I would say as much.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Guest Post and Related Announcements

Today I guest posted for The Book Addicted Girl's Fortnight of Guests! In my guest post, I talk about my Top 10 favourite moments I hope to see in Deathly Hallows Part 2, the movie. Thanks for having me Megan!

As we are fast approaching the release of the last Harry Potter movie EVER, the hype surrounding it has been building up like crazy! I'd like to share with everyone several HP related events that will be happening around the blogosphere and on TV:

  • Akua Harris of ICED Media has asked me to pass along a reminder to tune into the extremely exciting media event: a Larry King Special - Harry Potter: The Final Chapter, airing July 10 at 8pm ET on CNN. Be sure to tune in to catch a glimpse of exclusive interviews with the cast and never before seen footage from the film and behind the scenes!
  • Jillian from Random Ramblings is putting together a Harry Potter Video Tribute Project! Cool, right? Well, you can become apart of this project by providing a video or pictures. For more information and to fill out the form, check out Jillian's post.
  • Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag is going to be highlighting some hot Harry Potter products that fans should know about. I know I love me some HP merchandise, especially ones that are worth my money like the ones Lauren will be highlighting!
  • Brodie from Eleusinian Mysteries is hosting Harry Potter Week with three other bloggers! The event will run from July 10-17 and you will for sure want to take part as there will be giveaways! RSVP to the Goodreads event here.
  • The Deathly Hallows Part 2 World Premiere took place in London. It was the largest premiere to ever take place in London, spanning both Trafalgar and Leicester Squares! I just needed to share this video with you: get your tissues out and watch the Trio and Jo talk about how much the books and movies have meant to them:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2011 Resolutions 6 Month Update

I cannot believe that 2011 is already half way done! Crazy. Anyway, I thought now would be a good time to check up on how I am doing on my 2011 New Year's Resolutions.

Book Related Resolutions:
1. Read at least one book a week (barring any blog hiatuses that I need to take): Success!
2. Review at least one book a week (barring any blog hiatuses that I need to take): Success!
3. Design my blog: Success! I made my banner shortly after making this resolution.

Non-Book Related Resolutions:
1. Stop using the word "like" excessively: Complete Fail! Ugh, this is so much harder than I thought it would be. I don't see myself completing this resolution by the end of the year. Maybe in, like, 10 years.
2. Use less water: Success!
3. Exercise more: Success! I'm finally starting to gain muscle mass! I wasn't even able to do a pushup before, for real.

Well, I'm pretty satisfied. How about everyone else? How are you doing on your book and non-book related resolutions?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (10): Gods and Mythology

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which an upcoming, eagerly anticipated release is highlighted on the blog.

Due to time constraints, I am only going to be taking part in this meme once a month. Each month, I'll post a compilation of books that I'm "waiting on" that fall under a theme.

This month, I'm "waiting on" books with Gods and Mythology:

Title: Wildefire
Author: Karsten Knight
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: July 26, 2011

Every flame begins with a spark. 
Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Title: Fury
Author: Elizabeth Miles
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: August 30, 2011

The first book in a paranormal teen trilogy featuring three beautiful, mysterious girls wreaking havoc on a small New England town. 
Sometimes sorry isn't enough.... 
It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems... 
Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend. 
On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed. 
In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay. 
Em and Chase have been chosen.

Title: Sweet Venom
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: September 6, 2011

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.
Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, especially on a school night, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.
Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they're triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters.
These three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful gorgon maligned by myth, must reunite and embrace their fates in this unique paranormal world where monsters lurk in plain sight.

Title: Half-Blood
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Date: September 15, 2011

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure-bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.
Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:
Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.
Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

I've read Fury already (based on the myth of the vengeance deities called the Furies) and loved it. Other than that, I'm not terribly familiar with YA and MG books featuring Gods and Demigods, like Half-Blood. Nope, I haven't read The Percy Jackson Series yet (though I plan to remedy that soon hopefully). But of course, I love reading about Greek mythology. I am super excited for Sweet Venom (who wouldn't be with that gorgeous cover?), which is based on the myth of Medusa. What intrigues me about Wildefire is that it is based on Polynesian mythology, which is very unique.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these books with Gods and Mythology? Are there any upcoming books featuring Gods and Mythology that aren't included here that you feel I should know about?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Muggle Monday (13): Review: The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I post a quote, a video, or a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this meme: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This week, I'm posting my completely unbiased review of The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling:

Publisher: Children's High Level Group
Published: December 4, 2008
Pages: 180
Source: Bought, Collector's Edition
Rating: 6 STARS

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers’ attention in the book known as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J. K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore. Never before have Muggles been privy to these richly imaginative tales: “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump,” and of course, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” But not only are they the equal of fairy tales we now know and love, reading them gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter.

What an absolutely brilliant showcase of Jo's talent. This woman is a genius. Jo has crafted Wizarding fairy tales that could pass for actual fables, like the ones written by Aesop or the Brothers' Grimm. Not only was she able to create enlightening, witty, and moral tales, she did so based on the titles alone! For those who don't know, when Jo wrote Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she only wrote "The Tale of the Three Brothers" in full within The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She randomly made up four other strange and silly titles that make up the other tales in the book ("The Wizard and the Hopping Pot," "The Fountain of Fair Fortune," "The Warlock's Hairy Heart," and "Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump").  When she decided to write The Tales of Beedle the Bard, with all royalties going to Children's High Level Group (which has since changed its name to Lumos), she used her insanely brilliant imagination to make up fables for those nonsensical titles.

Not only does The Tales of Beedle the Bard contain these wonderful five Wizarding fairy tales, but Jo also wrote commentary for each story as Dumbledore. Dumbledore's commentary offers amusing anecdotes, intelligent insights, and interesting tidbits of Wizarding history. We also learn that, just like Muggle books that are deemed unsavoury by parents for their children, The Tales of Beedle the Bard has been challenged by many people, for different reasons. Beatrix Bloxam rewrote the stories in her book "Toadstool Tales" as she felt the tales were too mature for children and they needed to be protected. And Lucius Malfoy requested the tales be modified or banned from Hogwarts shelves for their themes of tolerance towards Muggles. Amusing to read, considering how many times the Harry Potter books have been challenged for ridiculous reasons as well.

I bought the special Collector's Edition from Amazon (pictured above) for much more money (but who cares when the proceeds are going to such a great cause). It's pretty dang cool. It looks like an actual Hogwarts textbook! It also includes ten full page illustrations. Did I mention that The Tales of Beedle the Bard is illustrated by Jo herself?! I highly recommend The Tales of Beedle the Bard to any huge Potter fan. It is truly a special gem of a book, absolutely spellbinding in its brilliance.