Monday, January 28, 2013

Heads Up: This Week and Next

So this week and next is going to be pretty hectic, so I thought I'd give you guys a heads up.

I'm in two book tours: The Way Back To Me by K.L. Conlon and Ancient Guardians: The Legacy of the Key by S.L. Morgan.

Therefore, this week and next week will look like so:

Fri., Feb. 1: The Way Back To Me book tour post
Mon., Feb. 4: The Way Back To Me review (not part of the book tour)
Wed., Feb. 6: Ancient Guardians book tour post
Fri., Feb. 8: More Than A Stranger by Erin Knightley

As you can see, there won't be a review this Friday since the book tour post will take place, instead it'll be on Monday. After Wednesday, the schedule will go back to normal, though I plan on doing more book tours, so who knows?

So there it is, the schedule for this week and next.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Review on Snow

We all know the story of Snow White. An evil queen wants to kill her beautiful stepdaughter for being more beautiful than her. She escapes to a house with seven dwarfs and then the queen finds her and puts her into an eternal sleep. Later, the dwarfs kill the queen and a prince comes out of nowhere and kisses Snow White, breaking the curse, and then they all live happily ever after.
But I like those stories that use this story like an outline—a retellingand then add their own twists and flourishes to it. And this book definitely did.

Snow by Tracy Lynn
Snow White, Rose Red
In a tiny Welsh estate, a duke and a duchess lived happily, lacking only a child—or, more importantly, a son and heir to the estate. Childbirth ultimately proved fatal for the young duchess. After she died, the duke was dismayed to discover that he was not only a widower, but also a father to a tiny baby girl. He vowed to begin afresh with a new wife, abandoning his daughter in search of elusive contentment.
Independent—virtually ignored—and finding only little animals and a lonely servant as her companions, Jessica is pale, lonely, and headstrong...and quick to learn that she has an enemy in her stepmother. "Snow," as she comes to be known, flees the estate to London and finds herself embraced by a band of urban outcasts. But her stepmother isn't finished with her, and if Jessica doesn't take control of her destiny, the wicked witch will certainly harness her youth—and threaten her very life... 
Age: 13 years and up
Review: 4 stars
I really liked this retelling of Snow White. You could see the similarities between this story and the original Snow White, but this one had a lot of originality that it kept me riveted.
Snow—or rather, Jessica—is a child raised by servants. Since the servants obviously do not know how a proper duchess is to be raised, Jessica mostly runs wild among the estate. That is, until her father remarries. Everyone, including Jessica, is fooled by Anne, the new duchess, except for Alan, the fiddler. He is Anne's servant, and has an enchanted chain around his neck that prevents him from being able to tell anyone what goes on in Anne's room. Alan is also Jessica's best friend, and when Anne reveals her plan to steal Jessica's heart, Alan rushes—and strugglesto try and save Jessica without revealing anything.
Then we meet the band of outcasts, Chauncey, Mouser, Sparrow, Cat, and Raven. They take Jessica in when they find her wandering on the streets of London, and quickly become her family.
But then Anne claims to have changed, and Jessica—now known as Snow—who yearns to have a mother, is willing to give her a second chance. Here is where I had a bit of qualms with Snow.
The duchess, Anne, tried to kill Snow. Yes, I understand that Snow wants parents who care for her more than anything, but Anne tried to kill her. I would not be willing to go back and say, "Oh, hi, I know you wanted my heart for yourself and all, but I'm just gonna go meet you and put it all behind us." What?
Though I know it was essential for the plot, I still wanted to smack some sense into Snow and scream at her that it was a trap.
The Lonely Ones (the band of outcasts that take Snow in) quickly captured my heart with their quirks and care. As they became Snow's adopted family, I came to care for them.
Another thing I really liked was the way the author wrote the book. It was in third person, which allowed us to see what was going on everywhere and be privy to what the duchess was going to do (and then yell at Snow for being so naïve.) Also, some chapters were things that weren't essential to the book but that allowed us to see what other character's were thinking, such as Alan's letter to his sister after accepting the position as a fiddler in the Welsh estate.
Though I knew (for the most part) how the story was going to end, it wasn't boring in the least and provided much entertainment that kept me wanting to know how the author planned to have things happen—and therefore kept me eagerly turning the page.
I recommend this book to people who love retelling of fairy tales, love, magic (or science), and a happily ever after that's not so expected.


*Note: Both the cover and the blurb are from my copy, now obsolete. By clicking the Amazon link on the title above the cover, you can look at the new cover as well as the new blurb.

Monday, January 21, 2013

FFT: Les Misérables

Well, I haven't done a FFT in a while, have I?

As you can see, I'm here to talk about Les Misérables, the movie. Les Misérables is rated PG-13.

The poster shows a young girl in the background of a dark night. Text above reveals the cast listing and text below reveals the film's title.

Let me quickly say that I've never read the book (though I've wanted to!), so my comments on Les Misérables are purely based on the movie.

Now, I've gone to see the movie twice. The first time was with my mom and I mistakenly did not bring any tissues, so I had to borrow my mom's tissue pack and go through it while trying to hide my bawling from the other people. The second time was with two of my best friends, one who had seen the movie before and the other who had not. This time I brought a tissue box with me, but I cried less than the first time now that I knew what to expect.

How to start? Let me say this: I LOVED IT. If I reviewed movies, I would give this movie 5 stars. Maybe more. It was that good.

When the movie started, I immediately thought: "This is how a movie should start."

The music, in my opinion, was the best part of the whole movie. It gave it more feeling, more emotion than if the movie had just been talked throughout. I'm still singing the songs, and it's been a while since I watched it.

Every time I thought it was safe to put down the tissue, another heart-wrenching scene came on and the waterworks started again.

When people told me I was going to cry during this movie, I thought that I would only be crying near the end. Nope. Within the first hour, I had already burst into tears more than a few times. Just ask my mom. Or my friends.

Let me show you a screencap of my tweets after the movie ended the first time I watched it. Remember that the order is from newest to oldest, so the tweet at the bottom is the first one.

That kinda sums up how I felt. I wasn't coherent; words do not describe the extent of what I felt.

You have to beware that this movie isn't for the faint of heart. There is death and gore and blood. There is injustice. There are things not suitable for children.

Hello? The title is called The Miserable Ones. How more obvious can you get?

Since I am a romance and fantasy type of gal, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it, let alone like it. But I did. So much. It touched my heart.

Watch it. That's all I can really say. Go watch it.

For you: Have you watched Les Misérables? If yes, what did you think of it? If not, why not?

Also, if you have watched it, I recommend you watch this Les Misérables medley. It's truly amazing.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Review on The Siren

Ha! I just realized that there has been this same title before, so I have to clarify that this is completely different from The Siren by Tiffany Reisz. Very different. I read this book a few years ago and recently re-read it. The concept is what made me curious. We all know the stories of sirens and how they lure sailors to their deaths. This is a very original spin on it, and it had me wanting to read it.

The Siren by Kiera Cass
"You must never do anything that might expose our secret. This means that, in general, you cannot form close bonds with humans. You can speak to us, and you can always commune with the Ocean, but you are deadly to humans. You are, essentially, a weapon. A very beautiful weapon. I won't lie to you, it can be a lonely existence, but once you are done, you get to live. All you have to give, for now, is obedience and time..."
The same speech has been given hundreds of times to hundreds of beautiful girls who enter the sisterhood of sirens. Kahlen has lived by these rules for years now, patiently waiting for the life she can call her own. But when Akinli, a human, enters her world, she can't bring herself to live by the rules anymore. Suddenly the life she's been waiting for doesn't seem nearly as important as the one she's living now.
Age: 13 years and up
Review: 4.5 stars
This is a love story with a twist. Kahlen is a siren. This means that, along with three others (there can only ever be four at one time), she sings people to their deaths. Her voice makes people want to drown themselves. Why does she do this? To help the Ocean. The Ocean needs these people's lives in order to survive and maintain the balance of the world. The few for the many. We've all heard that saying.
Kahlen was on the verge of dying when the Ocean gave her a choice: live as a siren for a century and then get a second chance at life or die. Seems like an easy choice, no?
But the sirens don't know what they're getting themselves into. Not until it's too late. Kahlen is lonely, as is everyone after they've been on their own for as long a time as her. And suddenly—this boy pops up. Akinli. They're attracted to each other, and that first meeting sets off a chain of events that has Kahlen putting everything in danger. The Ocean's and siren's existence as well as Akinli's life.
Kahlen also doubts her role as a siren. She is essentially killing people, and she feels extremely guilty about it. There is a lot of internal struggle in this book that is essential to the story.
I loved the new twist that Cass puts on the "siren" thing. The fact that the Ocean needs these lives is an extremely original concept that had me picking the book up. The amazing plot and characters kept me reading and not putting it down.
Akinli's love and trust in Kahlen had my heart melting. He is such a sweet person and the fact that he trusts Kahlen so much means that he is that good of a person.
There are other sirens, but this is Akinli and Kahlen's story, and talking about the others gives away too much of the story—I fear I've given away too much already!
Only one tiny thing prevented me from giving this book 5 stars, and that is the fact that Kahlen sometimes seemed a bit foolish. A few things she did in the book had be questioning if she really had matured throughout the time she'd been a siren.
All in all, I really loved this book and strongly recommend it to people who love fantasy, characters who grow as the story goes on, and most of all, love.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Review on Forever

I first read Shiver back when it first came out and I had to wait a whole year for book 2. After that, I had to save money for things like food and gas for the car, so I couldn't buy many books. This series has been staring at me in the eye going like "complete me!" ever since I finished Linger. And I've been dying to finish reading it ever since it came out back in 2011. Finally, my family was tired of hearing me want this book so my sweet, darling brother got it for me for Christmas. I immediately started reading the whole series over again and finally got to finish this amazing series.

Be warned, though this review doesn't contain any spoilers for Forever, it does contain spoilers for the previous two books.
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives. 
That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt. 
Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.
This is the third and final book of The Shiver Trilogy (also called the Wolves of Mercy Falls series).
Age: 14 years and up
Review: 5 stars
As a werewolf fan, I absolutely loved this book. Now, bear in mind that these books came out when werewolves weren't all that popular. These werewolves aren't at all like the ones you read now-a-days. Being a werewolf is a disease. It's something people can't control—you turn when it's cold, period. I love this. It's such a good change from the werewolves that are so popular right now and also makes werewolf-ism the "bad guy" in these stories.
Like the previous two books, the point of views switch between Sam and Grace, but also Isobel and Cole. I really like this because we get to see how everyone is and why they do the things that they do. We understand the characters better—and in turn connect with them better.
Sam (God, I love him) and Grace are trying to figure out how to be together. They had it all "fixed." After all, Sam was cured, wasn't he? They were finally supposed to be together. But no, the werewolf disease intervened yet again. Cole had to bite Grace so she could turn into a wolfotherwise she would've died. Sam is left alone as a human and Grace's absentee parents are accusing him of kidnapping Grace.
Isobel and Cole start learning how to be better people in this book, which makes me happy. I kinda liked Isabel in the second book, so here it's nice that we really get to see what's going on inside her head and how she's maturing. Now Cole I really didn't like when Stiefvater first introduced him, but here we get to know why he is how he is and I like him a lot more.
There was this huge incident that made me bawl my eyes out close to the end and I both curse and bless Stiefvater for it. To keep this review spoiler-free I can't put it on here, but it was so GOOD.
What was slightly disappointing yet also a very good thing was that this book didn't have an everything's-fine-and-dandy-and-there's-happiness-and-rainbows-everywhere ending. It was realistic. The disease wasn't definitely cured; Sam and Grace still have a lot of hoops to jump through, but things are looking up. The ending was sweet and made my heart melt.
Stiefvater has said that there will not be any more books to the series because they ended the way they were supposed to end.
I get that.
I really do. I liked the ending; I felt satisfied with it. It's an "open ending," like Stiefvater calls it.
Does that mean I don't want there to be another story? Heck no! But I understand why it ended the way it did and I'm happy with it.
Also, I can always re-read the trilogy ;)

P.S. Maggie Stiefvater talks about why she ended things the way she ended them here, but you have to read Forever before you watch it, there's a lot of spoilers. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review on Wildest Dreams

WARNING: This post and the links from it contain adult content. If you are under 18 years of age or if such content offends you, please EXIT now.
First review of the year! I thought I'd start with an awesome book.

The first thing I thought when I finished this book is "By the gods, she's done it again." (I adopt the way they speak in the book for a while after I finish reading it.) I am a huge Kristen Ashley fan. She writes the best stories containing the best strong (yet sweet) alpha men with the best plots and twists. I've read a lot of her books (which are a lot; you can find a list here). However, because the list is extensive, I try to read them slowly to savor each and every one of her books.

Wildest Dreams by Kristen Ashley
Seoafin "Finnie" Wilde was taught by her parents that life was meant to be lived, every breath was a treasure and to seek every adventure she could find. And she learns this lesson the hard way when they perish in a plane crash when she's fifteen. But she never forgets and when she discovers there is a parallel universe where every person has a twin, she finds a witch who can send her there so she can see her parents again and have the adventure of a lifetime.
But nearly upon arrival in the Winter Wonderland of Lunwyn, she realizes she's been played by her twin of the alternate universe and shortly finds herself walking down the aisle to be wed to The Drakkar.
Instantly thrown into inauspicious circumstances, with years of practice (she did, of course, survive that elephant stampede, if she could do that, she can do anything), Finnie bests the challenges and digs into her adventure. But as Frey Drakkar discovers the woman who is his new wife is not Princess Sjofn, a woman he dislikes (intensely) but instead, his Finnie, a free-spirit with a thirst for venture just like him (not to mention she is his destiny), without her knowledge he orders his new bride bound to his frozen world, everlasting.
This book is the first of the Fantasyland series.
Age: 18 years and up
Review: 5 stars
We have Finnie, a bright, adventurous woman with no thought to her safety (seriously, some of the things she does border on reckless). But because of this, her attitude towards life is that it should be lived fully—and makes her so much fun to read about.
Frey is, like all of KA's men are, an alpha man. Add onto that the huge responsibilities and power he has and he's amazing. I fell in love with him quickly.
Wildest Dreams has danger, however. Finnie, or rather Sjofn, has enemies because she is a princess. Add onto that the enemies of Frey, and, well, that's a lot of enemies. All of these enemies want to kill Frey and Finnie, so there's a lot of high-paced action here.
But this story is a love story. As Frey and Finnie fall in love, my heart just melted. I sighed, I cried, and I laughed throughout this whole book.
Add onto that magic, dragons, and elves and you've got a freaking amazing tale. I've always enjoyed KA's books but I loved this one because of the fantasy factor. I am a huge fantasy fan so to have elves, dragons, and magic in this book plus the love and adventure meant that I was riveted from start to finish.
At the end of this book, there is a sneak peak at what will happen in the next book, but this book can be read as a stand-alone seeing as these two specific lovers' love story is over. But, as for me, you'll catch me reading the next book. And the next.