Blogging Break: I’ll Be Back Soon!

Hi, all. I know I haven’t been posting much. It’s been crazy preparing to leave America, and the free time that I have had I’ve been trying to spend with my family. Now, I’m finally heading out to England, and as I get settled in I already know that I’m not going to be posting much for a couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll be back to scheduling regular posts in the very beginnings of September, once all the madness dies down a bit. On the bright side, I’ll probably be reading a bunch what with all the time spent in airplanes and at hotels that may or may not have wi-fi. So, with a tad of luck, September will bring many book reviews with it!

Wish me luck,

Erin

Bookish Games (Pick a Letter, Any Letter!)

So I encountered this really fun meme on The Broke and the Bookish’s page, although I tweaked it a bit. Basically, you get a random letter from the alphabet, and using that letter you pick your favorite book, favorite movie, etc. While you can be assigned a letter, I just used a Random Number Generator to find a number between 1-26 and found the correlating letter that matched up with it. I ended up with the letter ‘F.’ At first, I thought that my answers weren’t going to match up well, but after a bit of scrutinization, I realized that F isn’t too bad at all.

Favorite Book Starting with F: 

Oooh. I had some trouble with this one. Namely, just picking one. The horror! But in the end, there could only be one. So, I went with:

Basil_E_Frankweiler

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg 

I knew this was the right ‘F’ to pick, because just thinking about it makes me want to read it for the fifth time. There are quite a few children’s books on my favorite’s book shelf, and out of all of them this probably ends up in the Top 3. In this delightful book, Claudia is tired of her unfair and boring suburban life, so she recruits one of her younger brothers–Jamie–to run away with her. They end up camping in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where they eventually get involved in the mystery that surrounds a (possible) Michelangelo statue.

I love reading about how Claudia and Jamie manage to sustain themselves in the city. When I was younger, it represented the epitome of adventure, and I still sometimes imagine how my own run-away attempts would have compared to theirs’.

Book I Want to Read That Starts with the letter F: 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. 

It’s a classic that I need to get my hands on. I’ve enjoyed most of the Gothic literature that I’ve tried, and so I really don’t have an excuse for putting this book off for so long! I guess a journey to Barnes and Nobles or Half Price Books is going to be necessary…never a bad thing, haha.

Favorite Author Starting with the Letter F: 

That would have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby, is, of course, legendary. But I also enjoy his other works! I’m reading the Beautiful and the Damned right now, and I finished the Curious Case of Benjamin Button earlier this year. That said, he’s not my favorite author overall (in fact, I didn’t even think of him until I was searching a list of F named author), but I’ve only ever read books from a  handful of authors that have names that start with F!

Favorite Song Starting with the Letter F: 

For Good from Wicked and Forever Halloween by the Maine

 Unknown-8

Well, because I seem to have no discipline whatsoever in any way, I ended up picking two songs. “For Good” is one of the greatest songs (who am I kidding? They’re all great!) from one of my favorite musicals. This song has the power to turn me into an emotional wreck. If I listen to this on the wrong day, I will end up tearing up, especially when the harmonization gets especially intense. It’s just that powerful.

“Forever Halloween” is another favorite of mine, although I don’t know if it will have the staying power that “For Good” does (I tend to have a lot of “favorite” songs that quickly are replaced by other, even more favorite songs). I’m generally a pretty happy person, but whenever this song comes on I let all my sad emotions surface and just become a mini-wreck for approximately five minutes and twenty seconds. Once, I was walking home in the rain on a cloudy day and this song came on and I’m pretty sure if anybody had been watching me belt out the lyrics in that moment, they would have quickly walked away in the other direction. Who knows, maybe someone did. I would have been too busy revelling in teenage angst to have noticed.

And Finally (ha! Another F) Favorite Movie Starting with the Letter F: 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 

Bueller. Bueller. Bueller.

What are your favorite books, movies, and music that start with the Letter F? If you want your own letter, leave a comment and I’ll pass one on! 

 

 

 

The Hype, the Hope, and the Hesitation: On Reading Massively Popular Books

Book blogs raved about it, it was on the forefront of so many Top 10 lists, and even my friends were encouraging me to read it. And because I had ten dollars to spend and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was sold out, I caved. I finally bought the book Cinder.

Cinder

And I then finished Cinder. On the same day, at that. It was that good. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong–I love fairy tale retellings, and this one was definitely one of the more unique ones, but I just never really cared for the story of Cinderella.  (Never mind that Just Ella, another Cinderella retelling, is one of my favorite books. I read it in middle school because it was one of the only on my teacher’s bookshelf that I hadn’t finished.)

So while everyone went on and on about Cinder, I was busy with books like The Sisters Grimm, and the Looking Glass Wars. (Both fab.) And then people kept talking about Cinder, and I began to feel so jealous because what was I missing out on? What if the book really is great? And turns out, it was. Cinder was a spectacular twist on the original boring, slightly drippy tale of Cinderella and I loved it and if I had another ten dollars I’d buy the second book now, too. But after I finished Cinder and realized that the hype surrounding it had been hyping it for a reason, I began thinking about the nature of book-hype, and how it affects different readers. Because while I usually am more compelled to buy a book when everyone is talking about it, I’ve noticed many bloggers write that they are reluctant to read books because of the hype. And I can kind of see where they’re coming from. When everybody is raving about a particular book, the standards are impossible high, which often leads to disappointment. But the curiosity to find out what everybody is talking about always convinces me to buy the book, and in truth, I’ve found some of my favorite books by just going with the flow. Of course, just like anybody else, I’ve been let down by a book that so many people love, and I think that, in a way, that’s a really cool thing about books. That what a hundred people choose as their favorite book could be a letdown for one person, and that one person’s favorite book could spark nothing but antipathy in a hundred people. Books are all subjective; they mean something different and strike a new chord in every person they meet. They are like music for the eyes.

In any case, I digress. Because I was thinking about books and the hype that surrounds them, I found myself wondering what books I read because of the hype, and whether or not I think they deserved the hype. I also started thinking of books that deserved more hype. So I decided to tell you my personal example of each. Feel free to leave your own experiences in the comments!

 A book that you read because of the hype: Cinder, of course! As I said earlier, the only reason I read the futuristic retelling of Cinderella was because everybody was going glowy over it.

A book that you declined to read despite/because of the hype: Well, I don’t really choose not to read books that everyone else loves. Usually, hype makes me excited. But a book that I didn’t read that has a lot of hype would be the Maze Runner by James Dashner. (Whoah. Just noticed that the guy whose most famous book is the Maze Runner has a last name that includes the word Dash. Just whoah.) I probably will eventually, though. It’s just not that important to me.

A book that deserves the hype: Hmm. This is hard. Because a lot of books deserve the hype. But the one I’m thinking about right now would be the City of Bones. I started this series years ago, when it was still popular but not insanely, movie-out popular like it is today. But, like I said, it was popular and as I read it I remember thinking ‘well, no wonder.’

A book that disappointed: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. It seems like so many people were giddy about this book, but to me the best part was the cover. Finley had two different personalities, and I didn’t care about either one.

And finally:

A book that deserves more hype: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde. I absolutely loved this book when I was in middle school. It takes place almost exclusively in a virtual reality world where the heroine has become trapped, and follows her attempts at escape through the only means possible: winning the game.  The writing was witty, the main character was likable, and there was a dragon! Despite all this, I don’t think it was ever super popular, although it has a strong Goodreads score. So, yes, you should check it out.

So, my questions to you: Does the hype surrounding a book affect the likelihood that you’ll read it? If so, does it influence you in a positive way, or a negative way? Also, what books deserve the hype, and which ones don’t? Let me know in the comments, below! 

‹Oh, wow. Just realized this was my 42nd post. I shall take this time to pay homage to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

Sunday Funday: Week in Review (3)

Q: What kind of money does it take to buy a cow?

Ready for this? Ready? Are you sure?

A: Moola¹.

Since this feature is called Sunday Funday, I thought I’d open with that lovely joke. You’re welcome.

Anyways, this weekly meme is hosted by Girl in the Pages. If you, too, want to do your own Sunday Funday post then head on over to that page, and link up to her blog.

Life has been treating me rather nicely, lately. While earlier in the month I was fretting about my visa application and securing loans and all these other important, but slightly dull, processes, I now have my visa, got my loan, and am, for the first time all summer, free floating. Yay! I hope everyone’s own life is going great, as well. 🙂

Things I’ve Been Doing 

This week, I’ve mainly been reading, writing, and hanging out with my friends and family. I leave for my university (eep!) in less than two weeks, so I’ve been trying to spend time with those closest to me as much as I can. My friends and I wanted to take a road trip to the casinos right before everyone started to disappear, and much to my surprise, for once our plans actually went through! I studied the rules of black jack before I went, practiced with my friends beforehand, and walked into the casino feeling like I should be wearing shades as smoke wafted behind me, I was that cool. Then, I promptly forgot everything that I had learned, and just stared at the dealer, wondering if it was too late to smile and back away. Fortunately, there was a nice man at the table who was willing to mentor me and my friend a bit, and I actually walked away with twenty more dollars than I went in with. Of course, I then lost thirty on the slot machines, so not much of a victory there…not that I was expecting any winnings, though. Like Neil Gaiman writes in American Gods: “The secret is this: people gamble to lose money…They may brag about the nights they won, the money they took from the casino, but they treasure, secretly treasure, the times they lost. It’s a sacrifice, of sorts.” Still, I don’t want to make that many sacrifices when it comes to casinos. I think I’ll stay away for a while, yet.

Another fun thing I did was go see Guardians of the Galaxy. Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite shows of all time, and Chris Pratt as Andy is one of my favorite characters. That was the main reason I went to see the movie–I was interested in seeing how he did as a superhero instead of the lovable, child-like Andy. So, yes, I went for Chris Pratt. But now I’m getting excited for the next installment, and that’s just because the movie was awesome. I’m a big fan of superhero movies (aren’t we all?), and while Guardians of the Galaxy was no Ironman (because let’s face it, nothing will ever be Ironman), it was still massively enjoyable. It was way funnier than I was expecting, and Chris Pratt did, indeed, pull off his part as the Star Lord. I’m not ashamed to say that I was tearing up within the first ten minutes (why did the beginning have to be so sad?! My 3D glasses were all fogged up!) and close to doing the same in the last ten minutes.

Books I’ve Been Loving 

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. And now, Stardust by Neil Gaiman. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (a re-read). The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series (re-reading these, as well).

This book was so good. And, at times, devastating.

(This book is so good!)

Blogs I’ve Been Loving 

www.divascancook.com

www.aladyinlondon.com

www.anotherafterthought.wordpress.com

Upcoming Plans 

Well, I’m off to London in only a little more than a week! And so, mainly packing. And more packing. And then once I’m done packing, I’ll continue packing.

Thanks for reading! Anything interesting happening in your life? Tell me about it in the comments! 

¹Taken, in case you were wondering, from an old book call Pinocchio Was Nosey by Roy Doty.

 

Book Review: Carnival of Souls

Book Review: Carnival of Souls

By: Melissa Marr

Goodreads Score: 3.7

My Score: 3.7 (right on, Goodreads)

Highlights: Interesting Plot, Good Action to Romance ratio, Aya

Points of Interest: Told from multiple perspectives (mainly from Aya, Mallory, and Kaleb’s viewpoints, but with snippets of Belias, as well)

Carnival of Souls

Once every generation, a brutal, bloodthirsty competition is held in the City, a land where daimons live, and witches are condemned. The competition takes place in the center of the city, at a location named the carnival, and pits daimons of all castes against each other, with one winner gaining the opportunity to rule in the City’s government, and be raised from whatever life they were living before. Kaleb, Aya, and Belias all enter the competition, but for vastly different reasons. One for a chance at a better life, one to hide a deadly secret, and one to do anything to protect the daimon he loves.

Meanwhile, in the Human world, Mallory lives under constant vigilance. Born in the City, her mother gave everything she had to put Mallory under the protection of the powerful witch, Adam. Adam has spent the last seventeen years guarding Mallory and making sure that the past she fled from in the City doesn’t catch up to her. However, as Mallory’s eighteenth birthday grows closer, even the Human world cannot sever itself from the City, and there are forces there that are willing to do anything to bring her back…

Told from multiple perspectives, Carnival of Souls weaves the different plot lines that occur in the City and the Human world into one, making sure that the decadence and danger that is the carnival leaves no one untouched.


 

Usually my opinion differs at least a little bit from the Goodreads score, but surprisingly, this time I seem to be an average of everyone else. There were a lot of things I liked about this book, paired with a few things that I didn’t, as well as the general feeling that although I enjoyed reading it, I wouldn’t hunt down the sequel.

The concept of the book is cool. The idea of the carnival, where pleasure and murder can be bought with enough coin, is creepy and compelling, although these things weren’t center stage in the story. Carnival of Souls is told in multiple perspectives, and I can say confidently that my least favorite persepctive was Mallory’s. I felt like the gist of every single chapter of hers could have been condensed into ten, maybe fifteen pages, and on the whole she was just boring to me. And her fighting skills annoyed me.  Here is a girl that has trained her whole life learning to fight, and who is faster and stronger than the average human…but I would not be surprised at all if a kid with two lessons of martial arts tucked under his belt could kick her ass. I mean, seriously–she didn’t come out tops in a single confrontation.

Luckily, Aya’s viewpoint was a reprieve from the dullness that took place in the human world. She was a tough, relentless heroine who’s both ruthless and experienced, and who could probably crush Mallory with her scowl alone. At first I was a little taken aback by the lengths that Aya would go to win the competition, especially when it came to betraying her one love. I didn’t think I could get behind the forcefulness of her motives, although I was prepared to enjoy her side of the story. That’s why it was a surprising journey to find myself liking her and understanding her more and more as the book went on. Her storyline was the one that I liked the most, and if I were to read the sequel, my request would be to just focus on Aya ninety percent of the time and have a shout-out from Mallory at the very end.

The third main character, Kaleb, gave me mixed reactions. I liked reading his viewpoints, but it was less because I liked him and more because the things that were going on were interesting. Daimons are kind of like a cross between really strong humans and shape shifters (I think, in any case…), and living in the City the lowest castes of daimons are treated horribly and forced to either kill or whore themselves out for money. Kaleb is one of those low-caste daimons, and he’ll do anything to protect his pack mate Zevi, who despite being quite strong and fast and generally an awesome character, is treated by Kaleb as incredibly fragile. Kaleb has been assigned to watch over (and possibly kill) Mallory, but of course he ends up falling in love with her.

The love between Kaleb and Mallory was possibly my least favorite aspect of the book. Similar to the way Kaleb feels tied to Zevi, his pack mate, Kaleb feels connected to Mallory. It was Insta-Love to the max, and it irritated me because that’s all it was. It just felt shallow, rushed, and forced. And towards the end of the book Kaleb does what could go down in history as the worst decision ever, showing yet again that Kaleb may care about many people, but he sure doesn’t give a damn regarding their feelings and opinions.

All in all, though, I would recommend Carnival of Souls, especially for those looking for a book that’s a bit darker than a lot of fantasy worlds out there. I thought the world Marr constructed could have been further explored–many subjects were just touched on again and again, making them wide but not very deep–but I wasn’t disappointed with what I got. I tried one other book–Wicked Lovely–by Melissa Marr and I felt basically the same way. I think her ideas are always interesting, and I never regret reading her books, but would I go out of my way for another of hers? Well, meh.

What have you guys been reading lately? Have you checked out Carnival of Souls? Let me know in the comments below! 

 

My Bookshelves

So, I’ve seen a couple of posts around the Blog-O-Sphere showcasing reader’s bookshelves, and since I really enjoy looking at other’s shelves, I thought I’d do a post showing my own.

I don’t know about anyone else, but reorganizing my bookshelves is a recurring phenomena. I can only go so long with the same book shelf layout. Over the years, I’ve organized my books by author, by title, by genre, and even by color. Usually, I end up reverting back to the last name of the author within the set genre. Since I have a fair amount of  books it can be a bit of a hassle getting them all lined up again, but it’s actually quite soothing to sit on the floor surrounded by hundreds of books, stacking them into pile upon pile. It takes me hours to organize them because I always get distracted by books that I haven’t read in a while, and the first page turns into the second which turns into the third–and you know how the story goes. (Haha, story. Get it…book…story? Sorry…that was lame.)

My Bookshelves

My Bookshelves: (From BL up, to TL, to TR then down to BR) 1. Literary Fiction, Horror 2. Fantasy Pt. 1 3. Action/Adventure/Misc. 4. YA Contemporary Fiction, Chick-Lit, Romance 5. Mythology and Fairy Tales 6. Humor, TBR, Books That Have No Other Home (So…like Hermes’ Cabin in the Percy Jackson Series) 7. Books written before 1950, children’s books 8. Favorite’s Shelf 9. Paranormal Romance/Dark Fantasy 10. Science Fiction 11. Books in Diary Form, Historical 12. Mystery, Fantasy Pt. 2 

These are my bookshelves from my latest organizational overhaul. (It’s funny…I’m a self-proclaimed and other people-proclaimed disorganized person in almost all aspects of my life. But my books are the one thing about me that I keep in tight running order. Even when my books are scattered on my floor, I still always know where they are.) Instead of an alphabetical variation which is what I normally do, I decided to just clump shelves by certain genres and organize in different stacks and sorts the books that belong to said genre. It’s the first time all my books aren’t just lined up spine-to-spine, and although I’m two months into liking it, I have a feeling I’ll switch it back to alphabetical and straight before long.

Favorite Books

Favorite Books

This is my favorite shelf of all my book shelves. Literally…it’s where I keep all my favorite books (only one book from each series). The newest addition on there is American Gods, which found its way there early this morning. I’m so glad somebody recommended it to me on one of my blog posts. I think that’s one of the great things about having a blog and interacting with other people–I’ve read so many awesome books that I might never have done if not for all of you. My favorite shelf is fairly constant, although some books find their way on after a second read through, and some books I eventually decide aren’t up to par compared with all the other books I love. But for the most part, they are my precioussssss, and I love them. Like, a lot. Like, my love is actually kind of destructive. I’m so sorry Jane Eyre. So sorry.

Anyways, those were my bookshelves! They’re no grand library, no magnificent, beautiful, soul-searching enclave of wonder…but they’re mine. I’ve travelled to different countries and brought back those books. I’ve visited countless Half Price Book Stores, Barnes and Nobles, and Books-A-Millions for them. I’ve read them by the pool, in my bed, lying on the floor, while on road trips, and when I’m feeling particularly fearless: in the bath (again, so sorry Jane Eyre!). They’ve been laughs at two in the morning, friends during my worst moments, and a source of inspiration, always. They’re home. And I’m so lucky to have them.

Do you have a favorite shelf on your bookcase? What kind of books are on it?

Do you have any cool ways of organizing your books? I could use an awesome new method! Let me know in the comments below! 

Book Review: Summer Demons

So, I haven’t reviewed a book on here in a little, long while. That’s not to say I haven’t been reading, because I have. No, really. I swear. I have! A lot. But by a lot I mean I’m one hundred pages into about a dozen different books, and re-reading a couple too. Boo on me; I should learn to commit. Luckily, Summer Demons is only a little longer than a hundred pages, and so I’ve finally managed to actually finish a book to review. And watch out for the upcoming weeks, because as I actually start to finish all the books I’ve started there might just be a book blitz¹.

Anyways, onto the book review…

Summer Demons 

By: Mia Hoddell 

I was provided with a free ARC of Summer Demons by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Goodreads Score: 4.33 

My Score (Official): 3.0

Highlights: Easy, breezy read. A romance that’s sweet and fluffy. 

Lowlights: Ending felt rushed. Multiple perspectives were confusing. 

Points of Interest: Summer Demons is a novella. 

Mia Hoddell

Jenna Shaw ran away to escape her past. In fact, she jumped on a plane and flew to Portugal to try and forget it. However, it turns out leaving everything behind isn’t as easy as it sounds. 

She thought she could move on and break free of her fears–that if she had some space the pain would stop. But as memories resurface due to an ill-timed joke, the past crashes into her present once more and she didn’t see it coming. 

Jenna’s plans for normality are derailed by the charismatic Ethan Brooks. She sees him as an annoyance; he sees her as a challenge. But as he tries every trick known to him to impress her, they only serve to push her further away. He’s never faced this problem before and Ethan has to work harder than he ever has if he wants to win over and help his mysterious girl. 

A young adult romance, this novella would be a great book for teenagers or as a feel-good summer read.

(From Goodreads) 

I’m not usually one for the whole cotton candy-esque beach read. I do like romance, but with a few exceptions, I like it swirled with humor or combined with other genres, such as fantasy. That said, when I saw Summer Demons on NetGalley, I was intrigued. Here was a book that had the description: “A feel-good summer read” but with a cover that gave off the feeling that there would be actual demons crawling their way up from the pits of hell this summer. The summary of the book let me know that this was not true, but at 160 pages, I still wanted to know how this book was going to unfold.

I ended up with mixed reactions.

The beginning reads a little like an early R.L. Stine book. All the Fear Street readers out there will know what I’m talking about. Picture: our heroine Jenna, lounging innocently in the pool when–what’s that she sees? Red? It couldn’t be…blood! Jenna’s memories are plagued by her past. Since we don’t get to know the details of said past in the description, I thought it would be kept secret for a good portion of the novella, but although Jenna’s awful memories play a part throughout most of the story, we find out the exact details of the death early on, in a conversation between Jenna and her friend Amy, who are in Portugal on vacation.

Jenna’s scarred past is the main obstacle that is in place between her and the male protagonist, Ethan, who is likable in an arrogant, bordering-on-obnoxious-at-times way. He first meets Jenna by pulling her into a pool, bringing traumatic memories to the surface and putting him in a position to have to reverse the damage before he can gain Jenna’s affections. The regaining her affections part is done in a series of ‘chance’ encounters that made me wonder if Ethan wasn’t secretly stalking Jenna, although he swears he’s not. But, seriously, if this novella were to be made into a movie, it would not surprise me at all to catch Ethan crouching behind a parked car in one of the scenes, wearing a fake mustache and a sombrero, just waiting for the perfect moment to ‘run into’ Jenna again.

Ethan is basically the type of character seen in many romances. He’s arrogant, is intrigued by the challenge the girl presents, and doesn’t give up after a couple of ‘no’s. Still, since I happen to kind of secretly sometimes just maybe like the arrogant type, this didn’t bother me. Jenna’s character was reserved at times, and feisty and teasing at others. She is hesitant to let her true self shine in front of Ethan, but after a pivotal moment in the novella this all changes, and the change in her personality feels abrupt. I like Jenna’s best friend, Amy, as a character, though. Hoddell could have easily overdosed on the superficial, self-centered, party girl cliche…but Amy seems genuinely concerned with Jenna’s well-being, and the protectiveness that she shows for her friend balances her out nicely.

One thing that mildly irked me throughout the book was the way the perspectives were done. I think third person perspective that shifts from character to character can be awesome. Cassandra Clare pulls it off amazing, after all. Sadly, Summer Demons was just confusing. The switches were too abrupt and too hazy, and although I could usually sort out quite quickly who was doing the thinking opposed to who was being described by another character, it annoyed me. Another problem I had was that the grammar needed one last run through Word’s spell check. Sentences such as “…although a part of him thought it would be wise to forget her, like her friend ordered, a bigger part of him was intrigue by her,” weren’t too common, but I spotted a couple of them that could have easily been fixed.

Despite my gripes, Summer Demons was a light, easily swallowed (can you tell that I’m hungry right now?) novella that will appeal to people who want to plow through a romance while lounging in the sun, snacking on a bowl of grapes. I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to check out another one of Hoddell’s stories, but if I ever came across one, I don’t think I’d be opposed to giving it a try.

What books are you guys reading and loving/hating/being completely neutral over? What are your perfect beach reads? Let me know! 


 

¹Oh look, I’ve learned how to use footnotes on WordPress! …wait, should this be a separate footnote? Oh, I’m too lazy how to figure out a double footnote. I’ll just get to the point by saying that actually, this statement may be false, as in two weeks I’ll be moving out, and so will probably still sluggishly cranking out a couple posts a week, and then guility-ly watching Netflix…