Monday, December 26, 2011

In My Mailbox



In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi, The Story Siren. It's our opportunity to get a peek into what books everyone is receiving for review, borrowing from libraries, buying in bookshops and download onto eReaders.

ADULT:



BLOOD FEUD by Kathleen Sharp (Dutton; 9/20/11; Hardcover; 432 pgs)
THE CROWN by Nancy Bilyeau (Touchstone/Simon&Schuster; January 10, 2012; Hardcover; 405 pgs)
THE LAST ROMANOV (Sourcebooks Landmark; April 3, 2012; Paperback; 352 pgs)

 
YOUNG ADULT:



 
IRISES by Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic; January 1, 2012; Ages 14+; hardcover; 304 pgs)
THE WAY WE FALL by Megan Crewe (Hyperion; January 24, 2012; Ages 12+; hardcover; 320 pgs)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness; Illustrated by Jim Kay

Stunning. Took my breath away!

I am going to share two reviews with you today.  The first I will write as if you are visiting my blog for the first time, and you're looking for a simple review of an incredible book.  The second, I am writing to you in the dark, and we are going to have a very personal conversation between friends, because this is no simple book.

THE FIRST:

"The monster showed up just after midnight.  As they do."

Every night, Conor had the same nightmare.  One night at 12:07, Conor woke up from that nightmare and came face to face with a monster. The monster was startled that Conor wasn't afraid of him. This monster wasn't nearly as scary as his nightmares, neither the nightmares he had while asleep, nor the nightmares he experienced while Conor was awake.  Conor had bullies tormenting him at school, a grandmother who didn't seem to like him very much, a father who rarely left his other family in America to visit him, and his Mum was battling cancer. 

The monster returned to visit Conor, promising him to tell him three stories.  The fourth story was up to Conor to tell.  It must be his story and it might just be his most difficult challenge yet, because the monster demands something from Conor that no one else does - the fearsome truth.

"You know that your truth, the one you hide, Conor O'Malley, is the thing you are most afraid of."

Readers will be swept up by Conor's journey as he travels through his tricky forest of grief and pain with the monster as his guide. You will feel Conor's loneliness, his despair, his rage, and his utter sorrow.  Patrick Ness has taken this idea by the late Siobhan Dowd and brilliantly weaved it into a beautiful book that readers of all ages will enjoy.

"You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do."

The illustrations by Jim Kay are particularly beautiful, full of movement and emotion that will give a reader pause.  The darkness and the light jump off the page.  Even though the subject matter and the illustrations are dark, do not let this deter you. The beauty of A MONSTER CALLS is its ability to traverse this slippery tale by focusing on the fear, instead of the sorrow.  It may hit a reader hard if the subject matter hits close to home, but this book should not be missed.

I highly recommend A MONSTER CALLS for you, for your family, for your best friend. 

------------------------------------


THE SECOND:

If we measure the success of a book by the level of emotion it elicits in a reader, than A MONSTER CALLS is surely at the top of my list.

"Stories are like wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?"

When I opened this book, and let it loose, it certainly did wreak havoc.
I wish I could tell you I read A MONSTER CALLS in one sitting, because not only is it possible, but it's probably recommended to get the full effect.  Instead, I forced myself to walk away from it. Several times. I was hoping to take a breather, hoping the ending wouldn't hit me as hard as I thought it might.

I was wrong.

A MONSTER CALLS left me in a puddle of tears and a sob stuck in my throat that still hasn't gone away.  Still. You see, I was Conor.   I was ten years older than Conor, so I didn't have the bullies tormenting me, or the grandma to scold me.  But, I did have a mom with cancer.  I had the loneliness that pushed my friends away.  I had the few friends that wouldn't let me.  I had the disillusion that I was in control.  I had the truth, and the stubbornness that wouldn't let see it.  What I missed, what I needed, was the monster to put a hand on my shoulder and guide me, to tell me the truth was okay, no matter how ugly it might seem. 

It has been 11 years since my mom died of cancer, and even though I'm an adult and time has passed, there is a lot about that time I wish I could change.  Like Conor, I didn't want to let go.  I wouldn't let her go. I sill hold on to a lot of guilt, even though common sense tells me there was nothing I could have said or done that would have kept my mom alive.  I know there was nothing I needed to say, because she knew it all.  Moms always do. Here I am, though, 11 years later, and the truth still hurts...and I still can't let her go.

This second review has been  beyond difficult to write, to share.  I'm not even sure I'll keep it here.  But, it's just you and me. Two friends, in a dark room.  Holding onto a pillow. Until the tears stop falling and sobs end, and life moves forward.  Thank you for allowing me to share this with you.

If you have a friend or loved one who has experienced loss, give them this book with care...but give it to them.  They might just learn something about themselves from Conor, the monster, and their stories.

--------------------------------------

I first learned of A MONSTER CALLS from Raging Bibliomania (read her review here). Her glowing review caught my attention, and I knew I had to read it. Thank you, , for introducing me to a book that has touched me so deeply.

Book Extras:
Add it to your Goodreads TBR List
Candlewick book page
www.patrickness.com
Siobhan Dowd Trust

About the Book:
A MONSTER CALLS By Patrick Ness, Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
Illustrated by Jim Kay

  • Hardcover: 214 pages
  • Recommended Age: 12 and Up
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press (May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406311529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406311525


  • About the Authors:
    Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy. He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he lives in London.

    Siobhan Dowd spent twenty years as a human rights campaigner for PEN and Amnesty International before her first novel, A SWIFT PURE CRY, was published in 2006. She won the Carnegie Medal posthumously in 2009 after her death at the age of forty-seven.

    About the Illustrator:
    Jim Kay studied illustration and worked in the archives of the Tate Gallery and the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, two experiences that heavily influence his work. His images for A MONSTER CALLS use everything from beetles to breadboards to create interesting marks and textures. Jim Kay lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Review: Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

    Even better than I had anticipated!

    Meredith Delin's husband, Freddy, was convicted of stealing billions of dollars from his investment firm's clients, and was sent to jail for 150 years.  Meanwhile, Meredith's home, clothes, cars and bank accounts have been possessed by the government.  No matter that she lived in an elite section of Manhattan or that she had custom made couture gowns in her closet.  She is left with nothing except a small savings from before her marriage, one suitcase of clothes, and a small box of personal possessions including a cherished record her father gave her as a gift.  Still under investigation, no one will speak to her except for her lawyer. She can't even get her hair done, because she has been blacklisted, not that she could afford her regular cut and color anyway. 

    Meredith made the only call she could - to her childhood friend, Connie.  Even though it had been quite some time since the two friends spoke, and as strained as that last meeting was, Connie invited Meredith to stay with her at her Nantucket home for the summer.  It is here the two friends reconnect and Connie realizes just how lonely she was before Meredith came to stay.  Unfortunately for the two friends, trouble follows Meredith.  The two women may be sharing the same house, and they may have shared a past, but they have their own challenges, their own family problems and their own inner turmoils to battle.  In spite of it all, love manages to find its way in to the friends' summer plans.

    Not only do I enjoy Elin Hilderbrand's writing, I have come to anticipate the releases of her novels with fervor. She writes the quintessential summer book. The setting is always Nantucket in the summer, her writing is smart and fast-paced, and her storyline grabs a reader's attention and keeps the pages turning. 

    Even though this book is not written in the first-person, the stories alternate between those of Meredith and Connie.  For this reason, the audiobook has two narrators, both of which read their parts beautifully.  This switch in narration allowed me to feel more empathetic toward these characters, root for them, and cry for them.


    We may be too far to add this to your summer reading list, but if you are planning on escaping the winter chill, take SILVER GIRL on vacation with you!



    Book Extras: Elin Hilderbrand website, Facebook, Twitter

    About the Book:
  • Hardcover: 416 pages 
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; 1 edition (June 21, 2011) 
  • Language: English 
  • ISBN-10: 031609966X 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316099660



  • About the Audiobook:
    Janet Metzger (Narrator), Marianne Fraulo (Narrator)
    Audible Audio Edition 
  • Listening Length: 14 hours and 28 minutes 
  • Program Type: Audiobook 
  • Version: Unabridged 
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio 
  • Audible.com Release Date: June 21, 2011 
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005745HHK

  • About the Author: (from HBG)
    Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her five previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

    Disclosure:  I purchased the audio version of this book under no obligation to the publisher, author or bookseller.

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Review: Mental_Floss: The Book, Only the Greatest Lists in the History of Listory

    Highly entertaining!  But watch out, you might just learn something while you're too busy laughing!


    Book Description:
    For ten years, the knowledge seekers at mental_floss have been hunting and trapping the world’s rarest facts, locking them into captivating lists for the world to admire. Thanks to their tireless efforts, Mental Floss: The Book is packed with a decade’s worth of the smartest, quirkiest stories around, including:

    Five Presidential Fashion Flubs
    Seven Shameless Abuses of Diplomatic Immunity
    Five Units of Measurement Weirder Than the Metric System
    Four Toys That Have Gone to War for America
    Seven Reasons Mister Rogers Was the Best Neighbor Ever
    Five Things Your Body Can Do After You Die
    Six of Baseball’s Strangest Trades
    Four Foods People Actually Die For
    Seven Things Walmart Has Banned
    Four TV Shows That Changed the Course of History
    Ten “Q” Words That Aren’t “Q-U” Words
    Four Horrifying Parasites to Keep You Awake at Night
    Eight Fake Archaeological Finds
    Five Articles of Clothing That Caused Riots
    Four Memorable Moments in Cross-Dressing History
    Five Doomsdays We’ve Already Survived
    And 124 Other Extraordinary Lists!

    ----------------------------------------------

    If you're not familiar with Mental Floss, let me catch you up to speed.  Back in 2001, Mental Floss launched a bi-monthly magazine presenting educational pieces and factoids in humorous ways.  Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur co-founded Mental_Floss when they were still students at Duke University. (Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur among Inc. magazine's 30 "coolest young entrepreneurs"). Since then, Mental Floss has grown into a very popular blog, which contains trivia, humor, lists, and pop culture.  They have also published several books, and sold witty merchandise that's both smart and funny.

    Mental_Floss The Book: Only the Greatest Lists in the History of Listory celebrates its 10th Anniversary with this compilation of compilations.  Let's face it, we all love lists. 

    Here's one list book lovers will enjoy:

    SIX WORDS INVENTED BY AUTHORS:
    1.  Bump - Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
    2. Quark - James Joyce's Finnegans Wake
    3. Nerd - Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo
    4. Tween - J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring
    5. Runciple Spoon - The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear
    6. Cyberspace - William Gibson's short story, Burning Chrome

    In addition to the lists, and there are also fun facts running along the bottom of the pages, like a news ticker, except this one is more fun than what MSNBC has going across the bottom of their screen.  Learn things like:
    - Alaska is the only state whose name can be typed on one row of keys.
    - Slumber Party Barbie of 1965 came with her own "How to Lose Weight" book.  One of the tips: "Don't eat." 
    - No U.S. President was an only child
    - The "black box" on an airplane is actually blaze orange, which makes it easier to find amid wreckage after a crash

    No, I have not read this book cover to cover. I don't think this is the kind of book where you're supposed to do that, or at the very least, skipping around is not frowned upon. There are no rules with Mental_Floss.

    It's a great gift book for those people in your life that like Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy...or something to read each morning while they're eating their Corn Flakes (which, in a 1907 ad campaign, offered a free box of cereal to any woman who winked at her grocer.).

    Book Extras:
    Mental Floss - the website
    Mental Floss - the store

    Harper Collins book page

    About the Book:
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062069306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062069306

  • *Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

    Amazing debut novel!

    Synopsis:  Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the earth forever.

    Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when Yellowstone erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

    Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.
    ---------------------------

    While I read ASHFALL, I couldn't help but recall scenes from one of my favorite books, The Road by Cormac Macarthy (reviewed here).  Only, in this case, the writing is more accessible, especially to the younger audience for which it is intended. 

    I received this book for review, and the cover caught my attention, but it wasn't until I read Miss Remmers' Review that I picked it up.   (Thank you again, Reagan!)  And once I picked it up, I could not put it down.  The only time I think I glanced up from the book was to ask my husband, "Could the supervolcano at Yellowstone actually erupt?" or, "How do we get water if we lose power and the generator?"  or ,"Do you think we need a gun for protection in case of a cataclysmic event and everyone around us loses their minds?" 

    This is what happens to Alex, or more appropriately, what happens around Alex.  The adults around him have fallen victim to one of the most devastating side-effects of a crisis - panic.  The ugliness these people demonstrate is enough to make any person give up hope.  Instead, Alex pushes forward, despite the dark skies, lack of natural resources, and unknown. 


    "The volcano had taken our homes, our food, our automobiles, and our airplanes, but it hadn't taken our humanity.  No, we'd given that up on our own."


    He sets out on a journey to find his family, meeting both hope and despair along the way.  Most importantly, he meets Darla.  She is one of the best female characters I have discovered all year.  She's smart and practical, tough yet sensitive, and she becomes the one person in this ugly unknown world that Alex can trust. 

    Even though Alex is a typical teenager who fights with his sister and rebels against his parents, he is also a black belt in Taekwondo.  As someone whose sons are currently enrolled in classes at the local dojang, I am learning that martial arts is more than punches, kicks, and defense.  It's about hard work, commitment, and character.  Alex is obviously a product of that. 

    I don't want to give too much of the storyline away, because I really want you to read this book.  It's everything a book should be - interesting, creative, exciting, thoughtful, and suspenseful.

    Even though I probably shouldn't have read this book following the Snowtober storm that dumped 16 inches of snow in my part of New Jersey, leaving us without power for a week, I HIGHLY recommend this book for adults and older teens alike.  I especially think boys will be grabbed by the collar from the first page. 

    Ashfall was written to be a trilogy, with the second installment due out in October 2012 from Tanglewood Press.


    Parents' Note:  Many bookseller websites are recommending this book for ages 12 and up.  I have raised that recommended age a bit to 14 years old.  It has been a long time since I wrote a parents' note for any book, but I feel the violence in Ashfall may be too graphic for a younger audience.  As always, when in doubt, read it yourself before giving it to your teen.


    Book Extras:
    Official Ashfall website
    Mike Mullin on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+ and his blog


    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Tanglewood Press (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933718552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933718552

  • About the Author:
    ASHFALL is Mike Mullin's debut novel, which has already received awards and honors.  Prior to writing, Mike worked for Proctor and Gamble.  Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats.




    Disclosure:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for nothing more than an honest review.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Movie Review: Holes

    Great movie!

    We recently read (and reviewed) HOLES by Louis Sachar and set off to watch the film.  Unfortunately, I failed in recording the movie to the DVR.  Lucky for me, Walden Pond Press/Walden Media has some of the nicest people!  A friend at Walden found out The 9 Year Old and I were reading the book, and she sent over the DVD! 

    We loved HOLES!!  We are already on our third viewing!


    First, the casting was perfection!  For anyone who watches the movie adaptation of any book, you know this is the key to making or breaking the film.  Shia LaBouf, Sigorney Weaver, Patricia Arquette and Jon Voight anchor this cast, which also includes rock solid actors like Henry Winkler, Tim Blake Nelson, Siobhan Fallon, and Eartha Kitt.  But I think it's the boys that made this movie work - Armpit, ZigZag, Twitch, Magnet, X-Ray and especially Zero were played brilliantly.  Not to mention, Mr. Louis Sachar makes an appearance in the movie as well as Mr. Collingwood!



    One of the things that can also make or break a movie is the soundtrack.  At times,  I wanted to rewind the movie, just to listen to the song again!  One of the songs in the soundtrack is performed in part by the boys in the cast.  It's a great song, you can check out part of the video (with clips of them in the recording studio) of the D-Tent boys singing Dig It.

    I just have to laugh.  We have recently seen trailers, television shows or movies with Jon Voight, and every time The 9 Year Old sees him, he says, "It's Mr. Sir!"  Mr. Voight, for all of your memorable and brilliant roles, in our house, you will, from this point forward, be known as Mr. Sir. 


    Read the book.  See the movie.  In that order.  You will not be disappointed!  (Might even make a great gift set for the Middle Grader in your life!!)

    Movie Extras:
    Holes Website (deleted scenes, gags, etc.)

    About the Movie:
    Directed By: Andrew Davis
    Original Release Date: 9/23/03
    Written By: Louis Sachar
    Studio: Walt Disney and Walden Media
    Approximate Run Time: 117 minutes
    MPAA: PG. Violence, mild language, and some thematic elements
    Trailer:

    Winners Announced!


    The winner of all three:

    UNDERDOGS by Markus Zusak
    THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch
    iBOY by Kevin Brooks

    is

     

    (The winner has been contact via e-mail)

    Many thanks to Big Honcho Media and Scholastic's THIS IS TEEN


     

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Mega Trailer

    The best eight and a half minutes of your morning is about to begin...



    The musical score is by Trent Reznor - a 35 minute preview of the soundtrack is available free for download at iTunes.

    Review: Holes by Louis Sachar

    One of my favorite Middle Grade books for boys!

    "There is no lake at Camp Green Lake." 

    The judge told Stanley Yelnats he had a choice:  he could go to a juvenile correction facility or he could go to Camp Green Lake.  He chose camp Green Lake where he was to dig a hole each day, because, "If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy."  Stanley learns that the holes have purpose, and Green Lake has a past. 

    There really are two stories in this book - the story of Stanley at his time at Camp Green Lake, and the friendships he forms with the boys in his group; and the story of people like Kissing Kate Barlow, who lived at Green Lake when there actually was a lake there.  The two stories come together in the end in one of the most clever, interesting Middle Grade books I have ever read.

    The 9 Year Old noticed the movie was coming on television and asked to see it.  Well, you should all know by now of the rule in our house - you MUST read the book BEFORE you see the movie! (Movie review coming!)

    Both of us flew through HOLES, and agreed that it's one of our favorites!  We spent a lot of time laughing about and talking about HOLES.  The two stories, and the way they come together is exciting and imaginative, but we spent most of our time talking about the cast of characters.  The boys in Stanley's group at Camp Green Lake are diverse, interesting, and hilariously funny.  What else would you expect when you put twelve boys in the desert all day? 

    As funny and clever as this book is, HOLES is also a thoughtful tale of family, greed, selflessness, and friendship. 

    I highly recommend HOLES!! 



    *I have also recently learned that Louis Sachar wrote two more HOLES books:  Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake and Small Steps, a spin off book featuring Armpit.

    Book Extras:
    Louis Sachar's HOLES page

    Awards:
    1999 Newbery Medal
    1998 National Book Award for Young People's Literature
    A Christopher Award for Juvenile Fiction
    An ALA Notable Book
    An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
    An ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults
    A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year
    A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Book
    A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
    A Publishers Weekly Notable Children's Book of the Year
    A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
    A Horn Book Fanfare Title
    A Riverbank Review 1999 Children's Book of Distinction
    A New York Public Library Children's Book of 1998-100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
    A Texas Lone Star Award Nominee
    A NECBA Fall List Title

    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 10 and up
  • Paperback: 272 pages 
  • Publisher: Yearling (May 9, 2000) 
  • Language: English 
  • ISBN-10: 0440414806 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440414803
  • About the Author:
    Full bio HERE.

    Born in East Meadow, New York, Louis Sachar is probably best known for his Sideways Stories from Wayside School book series and his novel, Holes, for which he won the 1999 Newberry Award and 1998 National Book Award.



    *Disclosure:  We borrowed a copy of Holes from our local library - GO LIBRARY!!


    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    Christmas Idea!!

    My friend, Theresa, told me about an idea her niece posted on her blog, Our Little Pebbles.  I thought it was such a fabulous idea I asked to re-post it here so I could share it with all of you.

    Thank you, Sadie!!

    Original Post:  Christmas Countdown With Books

    Sadie wrapped 24 Christmas-themed children's picture books, put them under the tree in her living room, and each night before Christmas, her children unwrap a book and they all read it together.


    I just love this idea!

    Sadie gives more details on the books she chose, where she found those adorable gift tags and what she does with them after the kids open the gifts, so go check out her original post!!

    Since it's only December 4th, I don't think it's too late to start this special countdown...or maybe if you want to plan ahead for next year, you can begin collecting books.

    Christmas AND Books!!!!
    What could be better than that?


    A very special Thank You and Merry Christmas to Pastor Sadie and your family!



    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

    I really wanted to love this one, but I didn't find it nearly as enjoyable as the first book in Andrea Cremer's NIGHTSHADE series.

    Synopsis (from official website, because I'm afraid of giving away too much):
    This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended-Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she's certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer-one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack-and the man-she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.


    In a word, this sequel was slow.  Calla is with the Searchers in their hidden lair, and she learns a lot about them, their history, and how her pack came to be under the leadership of the Keepers.  Unfortunately, this is a solid two-thirds of the book, and not much actually seems to happen.

    There are a few revelations that I wish I could say were startling, or surprising, but Andrea Cremer may have hinted at them one too many times to make me gasp in surprise.  Calla was torn between Ren and Shay in the first NightShade book, and she seems to have made a decision by the end of this installment, yet I'm not really sure she's comfortable with it.  She loves them both. 

    It is said more than once, "Alphas are born, not made," yet I was waiting for Calla to embrace her role as Alpha, even in her love life...especially in her love life.  The Keepers were no longer with her to hold her back, and the elder Alphas were not there to push her down.  I wanted her to stop acting like a little naive girl and show some courage.

    I'm hoping this is what Bloodrose will give us when it is released January 3, 2012. 

    I also have to make a note on the audiobook.  I believe the same narrator read WOLFSBANE that read NIGHTSHADE, yet this time her voice wanted to make me listen to the book on 1.5 speed.  She was a little too dreamy and added to the slow pace of this book.

    I'm sorry, but I didn't enjoy this one as I had hoped I would. 



    Book Extras:
    Official NightShade website
    Andrea Cremer on her Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook
    Nightshade website - anything and everything you need to know!
    Download an excerpt
    Penguin's Nightshade page


    About the Book:
  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages 
  • Publisher: Philomel; 1 edition (July 26, 2011) 
  • Language: English 
  • ISBN-10: 0399254838 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399254833



  • About the Author:
    Full Bio HERE


    *Disclosure:  I purchased a copy of this audiobook for my own enjoyment.


    Buy the Series from IndieBound:








    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Book to Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1

    I'm about to get my snark on, so if anyone is feeling particularly sensitive to their love for all things Twilight, you may want to move on.   I'll wait while you pack up your Twilight tent, shirts, replica of Bella's ring, and commemorative plates.  Oh, don't forget your wedding dress and the Eclipse wine.  (seriously?!?)


    Yes, I'm talking to you.  Put down the glitter and back away from the cardboard cutout of Robert Pattinson.

    First off, you must know, I loved the first three books in the TWILIGHT SAGA.  Loved.  I'm not a Twilight hater, at ALL.  (This is usually the part where I tell you how I was one of the first people to read and love the series, and waited for each book's release...but that's redundant and braggy, so I'll leave it out).  Breaking Dawn, the book, was, in my opinion, stretching this storyline too far into the realm of ridiculousness.  All due respect to Stephenie Meyer, whose writing I adore (go read THE HOST if you haven't done so already!) she lost me at Renesmee.

    So, this past weekend, I went to see Breaking Dawn Part 1. Why? You ask. I didn't particularly like the book, so why did I see the movie? Curiosity, my friends, Curiosity.

    You should also know that I have been the obnoxious person in the movie theater giggling at Kristen Stewart's stuttering over her lines, Robert Pattinson's Chanel Lipstick (Red Passion No. 5, if I'm not mistaken), and the awkward lack of chemistry between the two.  I apologize, but I couldn't help myself.   I have never connected to the cast, and had a very hard time with the movies...all of them, even the adaptations of the books I loved.


    The one thing that really shocked me was the lack of dialogue.  Was this because K-Stew had so much trouble remembering her lines for the first three movies?  Did they turn her microphone off so we didn't hear her sighing and figured, hey, why not stop her from speaking altogether?  Did someone actually think that R-Patt was at his best giving brooding looks?  (I'm still miffed that the producers didn't allow R-Patt to slay us with his British accent. I would have suspended that disbelief!  Brits are sexy.)  I don't know if it's a sound issue, but it was as if they had a quiet set and all the actors had to whisper.  None of the dialogue, as little of it there was, felt natural or comfortable.

    Don't even get me started on the inappropriate soundtrack selections!  The music didn't match the movie in several places.  This just added to the already awkward vibe.

    Jacob had the most, and best, dialogue of the entire movie, except for Charlie (LOVE Charlie!!).  In fact, we wanted more of Jacob.  He's adorable, and his acting has grown beyond hot-guy-without-a-shirt. We also missed the banter between Jacofb and Rosalie.  She didn't call him a dog nearly enough, nor did he give his cute half-smile, and a sarcastic, "Sure, sure," that I grew to love in the books.  More Charlie and more Jacob next time, please.  The story is about Edward and Bella, you say?  Pfshh.  whatever.

    Speaking of Edward and Bella...as if you didn't know by now...they get married.  The best part of the wedding?  The TOASTS!  Hilarious!  Ok, ok, so I loved her dress too.  It was perfect - elegant, unique, beautiful, and true to the books with a touch of lace.  It fit K-Stew perfectly too (more on her bod later).  There are no pictures on the web that do the dress justice - you have to see it from all sides to really appreciate it.  Gorgeous. 


    The worst part of the movie for me?  Wolf pack meeting voiceovers - so bizarre.  It made me think of the dogs from Pixar's UPSquirrel!

    At least the movie opened with Jacob losing his shirt within the first 15 seconds...unfortunately, that was the only time you'll see him lose his shirt, so enjoy it while you can.  Ugh, does this make me sound creepy? Taylor Lautner is adorable, and as someone firmly planted in Team Jacob, he has made me proud.

    During the honeymoon, I couldn't help but notice K-Stew's bod - she looked great!  Made me realize I need to hit the gym. That is, until she didn't look so great.  In fact, they made her look like Gollum in the post-honeymoon scenes.

    The most interesting part of the movie happens AFTER THE CREDITS...PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE!  Someone tried to get all clever by introducing some interesting between-the-credits scenes with the Volturi.  We accidentally caught it because we were too stunned with underwhelmed confusion to get out of our seats fast enough in the dark.  Whose idea was this?!? 

    I think readers who actually enjoyed Breaking Dawn the Book will find Breaking Dawn the Movie entertaining and slightly less uncomfortable, if not downright nauseating at times (vomit, blood, bruises and Gollum - I truly was nauseous and said "ew" a LOT).  Those of us who do not acknowledge Breaking Dawn The Book as part of the great Twilight trilogy will find Breaking Dawn the Movie just as ridiculous as the book.

    Because I am a glutton for punishment, I will probably see Part 2 and suffer through Bella's sparkling. 

    Don't be afraid, K-Stew actually smiles in this movie.  Just once, so I felt like I had to share the still.


    Editing this post to add:  I have gotten some *ahem* backlash on my snark, so I felt that I should add another statement.  I fully and honestly admit that I am thirty-something years old.  Neither the books NOR the movies were intended for me and my generation of women (despite the age of some women camping out).  Were I in my teens, I would be all over The Twilight Saga movies and books.  Had I not grown up in the era of Sixteen CandlesSay Anything and The Breakfast Club, Robert Pattinson would be my Jake Ryan, Kellan Lutz would be my Judd Nelson, and Taylor Lautner would be my John Cusack.  So, despite my snark, I get it.  I really do.   If you're a teen.

    (Oh, and by the way, I just wasted a solid 30 minutes on YouTube looking at clips from some of my favorite 80s films.  You know what?  I still love Judd Nelson and John Cusack...and still have a crush on Jake Ryan!)

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