I know I have been a bad blogger lately (bad Christine), but next week I hope to get back into the swing of things. I have some interesting news to share with you all, so that will be exciting, right?
October 19, 2012
I know I have been a bad blogger lately (bad Christine), but next week I hope to get back into the swing of things. I have some interesting news to share with you all, so that will be exciting, right?
September 18, 2012
Published: September 18, 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.
Speakeasies, flappers and demons, oh my!
The Diviners is the story of Evie, a girl who got in trouble at her hometown in Ohio and is punished by being sent to New York City (how that’s really a punishment, I don’t really know). It turns out Evie has a secret that comes in handy when she gets to New York where a mysterious serial killer begins using a “Brethren” text as his instruction manual and her Uncle is asked to assist in the investigation. With historical fiction, religious undertones and paranormal aspects, this book has a little something for everyone (and had everything I enjoy reading).
When I first heard about this book, I knew that I had to read it. I mean come on a book set in the 1920’s at the beginning of prohibition with flappers and Ouija boards, how do I not pick it up? And the best thing about it, it surpassed all my expectations. I think this comes in a very close second to my favorite book of the year and let me tell you why.
The first thing that really puts it over the top for me was the “language” of this book. I could tell that Libba Bray did quite a bit of research on the time period. The way she made Evie, a true flapper, sound was exactly like I would expect a girl at that time by using popular phrases like “cat’s meow.” And the banters between Evie and another character, Sam were quite hilarious; chock full of great 1920’s lingo.
Speaking of Sam and Evie, I have to say that their relationship to each other is my favorite although all of the characters and their relationships and how everyone is connected to each other were wonderful. Just the way Sam and Evie met as well as how much they don’t like each other/get along, mainly because their personalities are quite similar in my opinion. I mean when the two of them get going, watch out.
And I have to say, I think this book increased my heart rate quite a bit while reading it. I don’t think I have been that freaked out by a bad guy in quite some time. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s really not that bad and for a lot of people it’s probably nothing. But for me (a girl who believes in ghosts/spirits) it got a little nerve racking to where I would be looking over my shoulder constantly. Basically, if you read this book and get spooked by demons and such, don’t read this at night unless you are prepared to lose sleep.
The one thing that didn’t do it for me was the ending to The Diviners. I understand that this the first book in the series but I was just expecting a little bit more of a “dun dun dun” moment. Really it’s minor and not a huge deal it was just half way through I was hoping for a couple of things but Ms. Bray saw it differently and I really wasn’t a fan of one of the conclusions, for now anyway (maybe that will change with the next book).
All in all The Diviners by Libba Bray is the cat’s pajamas with just enough creepy crawlies to be on the trolley and I am recommending it to everyone. Seriously, move this one to the top of your “to be read” list and get your hands on it as soon as you can! I cannot wait to continue this series and see where it goes.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 checkers:
September 6, 2012
Published: August 28, 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.
With his new novel, David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.
“Every day a different body; Every day a different life; Every day in love with the same girl,” is the tag line that drew me in. I was still on The Host withdrawals and this book sounded like it could help suppress them for a while.
Every Day is about A, a genderless body snatcher if you will (even though that is still a poor description of him. He’s like nothing I have ever come in contact with before) who changes bodies/lives every night at midnight. Almost sounds like a Cinderella timing issue doesn’t it? Anyway the way this book is set up is that the chapters are essentially each day of his life, which is something that I really enjoyed. Plus, with this set up it almost felt like there were multiple points of view and a singular point of view all wrapped up in one with all the side stories you get with each person that A becomes. But you also get A’s main story which is seeing him fall in love with a girl Rhiannon, the girlfriend of Justin, the first person he wakes up as in this book.
I have to say that most of this book was beautifully written and a lot of the societal issues (including sexual orientation, race, etc.) were handled wonderfully (well except for one, which I will get to later). We see A being so open minded about a lot of them, since he has essentially lived in all of their “shoes” and speaks from experience. A lot of what he says when he reflects on certain issues, like love being love no matter what the gender and some religious undertones with devils and how people blame the devil for all the bad things they do, even though the devil was not involved. I thought everything was handled quite nicely.
But then again maybe not everything, I’m going to start off by saying that I really am trying to give the following the better of the doubt. Maybe this reaction from A is to show that he is more flawed other than he changes lives every day. Or maybe Levithan is trying to illustrate that Rhiannon and A isn’t in love as much as they think they are. But whatever the case I still take away a bad message from it none the less (I’ll admit, I’m a little sensitive to the issue, but if I’m getting this message I’m sure a lot of other people will as well.
So what’s the issue? Well one day A wakes up as a 300 hundred pound teen, going so far as to describe it as having “meat sacks tied to limbs and torso” and “this would be pathological if there was any meticulousness to it.” I think what gets me the most is that we do see A being so open minded when it comes to a lot of things that I see as more controversial than being overweight. A even goes so far to say something about trying to impart a scary memory that would make the boy stop eating as much. I mean who says that? Ugh, just ticked me off! Besides, what kind of message does that send to young people (whom this book is aimed towards), most of which have body image issues? What I take away from is “if you are overweight you should feel like shit” personally. Made the 7th grade me shiver from horrible memories that 22 year old me tries to forget. I could keep going about disorders, genetics and everything but I think this is enough of a rant as it is.
But other than my little spiel there, it is a great read, although the ending (which I did enjoy) felt a little rushed for me. It just left me with some open ended questions and I wanted some more detail on a branch off of A’s story other than just the relationship between him and Rhiannon. Still I think that it is a book that everyone should check out because it is so unique and like something I had never read before (despite me thinking it would be like The Host).
P.S. I also did a video review on my YouTube channel that is in two parts. Most of it is what I covered here, but you are more than welcome to check those out as well.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 checkers:
September 4, 2012
August 29, 2012
This month, one of my favorite book bloggers, Misty @ The Book Rat is hosting "Austen in August," two weeks full of giveaways, guests, interviews, reviews and more of all things relating to Jane Austen. She is also having a Persuasion Read-A-Long where you can discuss and interpret with everyone else participating. For the read-a-long, Misty provided us with some questions to help guide us for discussion and you will find my answers to those below for the "End: Chapters 19-24." You can also see last two weeks responses here and here.
What was your initial reaction to Persuasion as a whole? Did you connect with Anne as a heroine, and Wentworth as a hero?
I was a little apprehensive at first. This was the first time I read Persuasion, or any Austen novel for that matter. But as soon as I started reading I fell in love with Anne. I felt that we had a lot in common in terms of personality and I was a very proud mama at the end when she stood up for herself. At first, I was a little put off by Wentworth, but then I remembered how hurt he must be and he soon found a place in my heart. I love them both!
Has your perception of Persuasion changed since reading it, especially if you've read it more than once?
YES! The language was what worried me about even starting but after talking with Misty she persuaded me (did you see what I did there?) to read it and that eventually I wouldn't even notice it. I also had both print and audio copies and would use both at the same time to also help (that's just how my brain is).
The characters are constantly on the move in Persuasion (from Kellynch to Uppercross to Lyme to Bath, etc), so the reader gets to see a variety of scenes; did you like the constant changes of scenery? Did you have a favorite? Do you think the different locations bring out different aspects of the characters?
I did like having the constant change of scenery. With this being my first Austen novel it was helpful to get a better understanding of the time period. My favorites would have to be Uppercross and Lyme, although all of the locations were wonderful sounding. I think that Lyme was quite the pivotal point in the story and where a lot of characters switched gears. But I think each location did bring out different aspects in the characters.
Discuss one of the biggest fangirl-inducing moments in Austen: "The Letter;" did you know the ending was originally written without "The Letter" in it? Do you think your overall perception of the story would change without "The Letter"?
I did not know that the original was written without "The Letter." Considering that is probably one of my favorite parts my thoughts of the story would have definitely changed. I mean that letter just made my heart melt!
What do you anticipate for the futures of any of the characters, but particularly Anne? Will her family ever come to accept Wentworth, or is she essentially disowning herself by marrying him?
Well since her family is on the downfall, at least that is what I took from the last chapter, I am sure that they will try and weasel their way back to the top using Wentworth's name and what have you. Even if they don't I think Anne would be better off anyway without her father and Elizabeth. I think Mary will always be there for Anne, but mostly due to her being so wrapped up in herself she won't care.
On reflection, are you ever bothered by the fact that Anne is essentially put in the same position - to give up the life she knows and loves for Wentworth, and that the same is never expected of him? Does this bother your modern sensibilities, or do you think the right decision is made regardless?
No, I'm never bothered but I have a "traditional" kind of sensibility. I think I also separate her world from my own because they are so different. And if I was in her shoes I would have probably done the same.
What were your favorite parts of the novel? Your least favorite? Things you wish were different?
My favorite parts are "The Letter" & anything with Admiral Croft (I loved him). I also did enjoy some of the hot and cold parts with Wentworth, just made me want him more. I also loved the Musgroves, except Mary (ugh, that women). As for least favorite, that would have to be anything with Mr. Elliot. I just didn't like him; he was a threat and from the beginning I thought he had a second agenda. Which was proven by Mrs. Smith (you go girl!)
Any last thoughts on the book?
Made my usually cold heart warm. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to Jane Austen's other novels as well :)
August 28, 2012
August 22, 2012
This month, one of my favorite book bloggers, Misty @ The Book Rat is hosting "Austen in August," two weeks full of giveaways, guests, interviews, reviews and more of all things relating to Jane Austen. She is also having a Persuasion Read-A-Long where you can discuss and interpret with everyone else participating. For the read-a-long, Misty provided us with some questions to help guide us for discussion and you will find my answers to those below for the "Middle: Chapters 8-18." You can also see last weeks responses here.
Now that we've gotten to know most of them a bit, discuss the side characters: who is your favorite? least favorite? Were there things Austen did with these side characters that you absolutely loved or hated?
My favorite side characters are the Crofts, Musgroves & the Harvilles. Mostly because they treat Anne well, something she doesn't get that often. Also there is a point where Admiral Croft asks Anne if they should get Wentworth to Bath, I mean how did he know? As for the least favorite characters it would have to be Anne's family, except for Lady Russell. I mean Anne is way more sane than she should be! First all of them are snob-nosed, greedy little imbeciles who feel more like white-trash than anything respectable. Plus there is Mary who is completely annoying with the constant illness and that "Elliot pride." Ugh, that Elliot pride! I also never cared for Mr. Elliot either, there was just something about is presence, probably because I saw him as a threat to true happiness but still he felt quite "douchey" to begin with.
As Anne and Wentworth are thrown together more and more, how do you feel about the fact that they never address their shared history? Do you find either to be irrational or unjust in not being open with the other and broaching the topic? Do you find Anne too self-sacrificing?
Hello? Let's just ignore the big elephant in the room shall we? I mean how has there past not come up yet? I think that they are acting childish, although if I were in their shoes, well Anne's anyway I would be the same way. I don't like conflict and I feel Anne doesn't either, especially with trying to keep the piece all the time. Anne can be a little too self-sacrificing indeed in those times where she just wants to please everyone that it get's tiring. I think the reason why I don't like Anne at times is because I can see similar characteristics between her and me. But as for Wentworth, I really don't quite understand. He should be used to conflict with his profession, but I can see how hurt he is that to learn more from Anne might hurt him even more and he doesn't have the strength to deal with it.
Is there ever a time you dislike Capt. Wentworth? Were you put off by his treatment of Anne?
I don't think there was ever a time that I disliked Capt. Wentworth to be honest, however I did not care for the yo-yoing he did with Anne. I'm sorry, but they entire time of Wentworth/Anne contact Katy Perry's Hot 'n' Cold song played in the background in my head. You can see how hurt he is, but in return he forgets how he is confusing and hurting Anne while he is trying to figure out the mess inside is head. So I really can't blame him.
Discuss the incidents at Lyme; consider Louisa's fall from the cob and Wentworth's subsequent praise of Anne, the appearance of Mr Elliot and his reaction to Anne (and Wentworth's reaction to him), etc.
Oh Lyme, how I love Lyme! It really was a pivotal time that closed some open ended issues but also added more in ways of interrupting Wentworth and Anne's reunion. Am I the only one who had a very short victory dance when Louisa fell? Don't get me wrong, I liked Louisa but she was just messing everything up. But with her fall Anne could show how she hasn't changed as much as Wentworth thought, she is still the caring, loving soul she has always been. As for the introduction of Mr. Elliot, well from my previous discussion up above I'll just let you draw your own conclusions of how I feel about that whole mess.
Discuss Anne's arrival in Bath, considering the continued presence of Mr Elliot, Anne's reaction to her family and the way she begins to distance herself from them and stand up for herself more than she has been known to do.
All I can say is, "it's about freakin' time Anne!" I have never felt more proud of Anne than when she started to see her family for what they really are and realize she didn't want to be a part of that anymore.
August 16, 2012
Published: May 6, 2008 by Little, Brown and Company
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.
When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.
This book is legen-wait for it-dary, LEGENDARY! Ahhh, it was just so good! I was so sad that it was over; I don’t think I have felt that way about a book in a very long time, which is surprising. What’s even more astonishing is the fact that I am saying that about this book (do you remember my feelings about Twilight?).
What grabbed my attention about this book was the premise of things taking over a person’s mind/body. Also the fact that the way the setting could happen a few years from now, well that is if souls/aliens invaded Earth. The setting for most of the book is in Arizona, a place I fell in love with my freshman year of college.
The book starts with Wanderer, a soul, being implanted into Melanie. The way Meyer describes Wanderer is almost poetic and reminds me of those feathered seahorses more than a centipede/worm they refer it to in the book. It’s just sad that these souls take over human minds and have full control at least that is what is supposed to happen. But that isn’t what happens in these two women’s case. Melanie is still present in the mind and puts up a good fight by sharing memories of her little brother and the man that she fell in love with, who are still out there…uninfected. Wanderer soon has feelings for them and together they go on adventure to find them. But first they have to shake off Wanderer’s Seeker, who was put in charge of watching her and soon becomes more of a stalker than anything else. I would go on but I don’t want to give too much away, I already described the main events in the first half of the book (that is the one thing I didn’t like about this book is that the first half reads pretty slowly).
I fell in love with all the characters, especially Wanderer/Melanie. You can’t help but sympathize for them both, although Wanderer felt more relatable to me. Stephenie made them feel so real to me that when I was done with the book my heart broke because I already missed them. They became like a family to me, the whole lot of them! I especially miss Uncle Jeb and all his insight. He is probably one of my favorite characters of all time and I wish he was a real person in my life. Another favorite, well favorite bad guy anyway, is Kyle. He is so stubborn and violent that I pretty much hated him from the get go, but towards the end I felt apologetic for hating him so much at the beginning, although he is hard to love.
The love triangle/quadrilateral/spider-web thing is done to perfection in my opinion. It wasn’t overly cheesy or mushy. It was just enough for where you saw how they cared for each other and saw how they fell in love. One of them even made this cynical girl melt a little even. I still feel all twitter-pated about it!
Amazing book, amazing characters, amazing premise, amazing setting, what more could you ask for really? If you haven’t checked this book out, do so soon. You won’t be disappointed.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 checkers:
August 15, 2012
This is the first time I have read Persuasion, and well anything by Jane Austen for that matter. I have been meaning to read some of her works for quite sometime, but was a little apprehensive with the language. I'll admit, I didn't think I was smart enough to read it at first, but once I started reading and some encouragement from Misty it wasn't at all an issue. And I can see more Austen in my future!
My first impressions of this book was, "Poor Anne, you really were dealt a nasty hand of cards for the game we call life." Anne is a character I hold near and dear to my heart because she is so relatable. She lost her mother at a young age, is invisible to her father and sister, Elizabeth, acknowledged by her sister Mary (who is too self involved and sick to really care), and under the wing of Lady Russell (a fairy god-mother if you well). Anne tries so hard to try and keep the peace and please everyone, but in return her needs are ignored by her family, especially her father. In fact, so far it seems the only time he took interest in her was when Anne fell in love and was to marry Captain Wentworth.
You see Anne's father, Sir Walter Elliot, is of high standing in society and anyone who does not rank to his level or better is not worthy of joining the family, as was the case with Wentworth. He was essentially a nobody and Sir Walter would hear nothing of one of his daughters marrying him (no matter if Sir Walter didn't particularly care for the daughter in the first place). It just makes me sick! And Anne giving up Wentworth, a love that comes only once, due to her family's wishes is even more grotesque. However, I can't really blame Anne. If I were in her shoes I would probably do the same thing even though I would like to think if I were lucky enough to find a love like that, I would hold on to it.
As for Wentworth's reaction, he has seemed unchanged, still charming and warm to everyone. Well everyone except Anne. To her he acts cold and distant. He makes little digs at her behind her back as well (a common theme I have noticed in this book. Can no one tell the person how they feel to their face?). Plus, he is always seen with two of the Musgrove girls on his arms (trying to make Anne jealous). Hell hath no fury than a man scorned?
I'm looking forward to see how the story unfolds with the family having money troubles, Mary using illness as a way to get attention, and Wentworth saying he has come to find a wife (that sounds a bit like Anne...hmm). Should be quite the read!
August 14, 2012
August 5, 2012
Writer: Clare Boothe Luce (play) & Anita Loos (screenplay)
Stars: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell
Favorite Quote: “There is a name for you, ladies, but it isn't used in high society... outside of a kennel.”
Within New York City's Park Avenue society matrons, the current gossip, fueled primarily by catty Sylvia Fowler and Edith Potter, is that Stephen Haines is cheating on his faithful and loving wife, Mary Haines, with a perfume counter shop girl. The gossip is indeed true, the shop girl being the young and gold-digging Crystal Allen, and the gossip and its contents which Mary is initially unaware. But Sylvia does whatever she can to spread the gossip, especially having it get back indirectly to Mary. As Mary's mother and Mary's friends give her advice on what to do, as Mary meets Crystal herself, and as the gossip hits more public conduits, Mary has to decide what to do, which takes into account the fact that she and Stephen have an adolescent daughter also named Mary. Mary's perspective on her life changes after she meets a group of women in a similar situation as her. That perspective includes how to deal with her so-called friends and how she really feels about being married to Stephen. But she finally makes her decision when she comes across what she believes to be the truth.
Since I was a little girl, I have watched classic movies. But it wasn’t until high school that I really took the time to learn more about the time period, the actors and the studios. On its own, The Women is an amazing movie (one of those old-fashioned, catty yet witty films about how a manicure, perfume and a “trip to Reno” can turn a woman’s life upside down), but knowing a little bit of what went on behind the scenes makes this film much more entertaining. Most people know that Joan Crawford stepped on quite a few toes as an actress, one of the first being Norma Shearer’s, MGM’s “First Lady” if you will, leading to a well acknowledged feud between the two. They did not like to cross paths, and George Cukor had a heck of a time getting the two women to do their scenes together. And neither woman, wanted to share billing with Rosalind Russell, but eventually agreed as long as her name appeared smaller than theirs. But that’s enough about the history, (because I could probably spend all day talking about it) and on to the actual film.
If you couldn’t tell, I absolutely love this movie. Not only do the women look gorgeous, but it gives you “claws mother, Jungle Red.” The setting of this movie is in the dog eat dog world of high society women and their gossiping mills. Not something I would want to live in, but it’s highly entertaining to watch. Plus, it lets you tap into that side we all try to keep hidden, but every now and then she wants to come out and play (the evil twin, so to speak).
And the characters, oh the characters! You have Mary Haines the content, devout wife, Crystal Allen the perfume counter, hussy who has sunken her teeth into Stephen Haines, Sylvia Fowler the instigator of it all, who is also Mary’s cousin, Peggy Day the innocent, newlywed whose husband has money issues causing marital issues, The Countess De Lave, amour has given her a lot of trouble and seems to make numerous trips to Reno, and Miriam Aarons, a new divorcee that finds new love. I mean how can it not be hilarious when all these women cross paths? My personal favorite character is Lucy, a woman who opens up her ranch in Reno to women waiting on divorce finalizations. She takes no guff from anyone, and says whatever is on her mind. Plus she is played by Marjorie Main, who brings a little bit of Ma Kettle to all the characters I’ve seen her play.
The other thing that I enjoyed/found interesting about this movie was the fact that all the characters were women (unless you would count Stephen Haines as one, but he isn’t played by an actor). Also, there is a fashion show in the middle of the movie that shows off such exquisite dresses, aw. And it is said that F. Scott Fitzgerald help write the screenplay but was never given any credit.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 checkers:
August 2, 2012
“A” is for Alibi (A Kinsey Millhone Mystery)
By Sue Grafton
Published: April 15, 1982 by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston
Laurence Fife was a slick divorce lawyer and slippery ladies' man. Until someone killed him. The jury believed that it was his pretty young wife Nikki, so they sent her to prison for eight years. Now, Nikki's out on parole and Kinsey Millhone's in for trouble. Nikki hires Kinsey to discover who really killed her husband. But the trail is eight years cold, and at the end is a chilling twist even Kinsey doesn't suspect: a second eight-year-old murder and a brand new corpse
This was my first mystery novel, and I have to say that this series was okay. I mean it didn’t wow me but it sure raised my heart rate to a dangerous level.
The beginning of this book opens up with Kinsey Millhone saying that she has killed someone and basically letting you know that she is this kick-ass private eye, who takes crap from no one. I could really relate to Kinsey as well by the fact that she doesn’t let a lot of people in and has a hard time trusting people (which is no wonder given her profession). Basically, I developed a girl crush on her.
The only down side to her is that she runs…a lot! And it’s insane how much of this book revolves around those runs. Maybe if she actually thought about the case on these runs or things going on in her personal life, I would have been okay with it. But mostly they were just descriptions like “the sea mist hit my face.” That’s nice and everything but what does that really have to do with the actual scheme of things? As for the case, it was amazing! Some parts were pretty predictable but other things were so twisted from what you would think that you just had to say, “WHAT?!?” Plus there is a side job that she is doing about a person trying to cheat on insurance that adds a bit of comedy to the whole book as well as her kooky, old landlord and everyone else that is a mainstay in her daily life.
All in all it was a decent read. I was a little apprehensive about it being written in the 80’s, expecting some interesting descriptions of characters, but nothing seemed to date this book other than a reference to Barry Manilow and Olivia Newton John. Both of which I smiled for when I saw their names.
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 checkers: