Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bout of Books Challenges - Day 2

BOOK SPINE POETRY

Challenge:
1.  Minimum of 3 books and no maximum.
2.  All words in title of the book go toward your poem
3.  Take a picture of your poem and type it out so we can read it.
4.  You can only use the title and you get 1 free extra word for every book in the poem.
Hunger,
Lies,
and Fear.
Perfect.
Something Real.
 
 
Okay, so it's a little dark, but it also kind of explains my book preferences... =)
I used 1 free word, "and."
 
Books in Poem
 
Hunger, Lies, and Fear by Michael Grant from the Gone Series
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bout of Books Challenges - Day 1

SCAVENGER HUNT

1. A Book that begins with “B”  (for Bout of Books!)
 
    Found: Beautiful Oblivion.
 
    Haven't read it yet, but look at that cover!  
2. A book that has been made into a movie/tv show
 
Found: The Giver.
 
Fav, just fav.
3. A series you love
 
Found: The Luxe Series.
 
Trying to be different & I DO love these books!
4. An anthology of poems or short stories
 
Found: Runaway Rhymes.
 
My first exposure to poetry =)
5. A book on your TBR shelf, or your full TBR shelves
 
Found: Too many, yet not all of them...
 
 

PLAYLIST

Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn

1. Maybe from Annie the Musical 
2. Anything, but Ordinary by Avril Lavigne
3. We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel
4. One Voice by Billy Gilman
5. How do you like me now by Toby Keith

 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

BOUT OF BOOKS READ-A-THON 11.0 ANNOUNCEMENT



I will be participating in the Bout of Book Read-A-Thon 11.0. I can't guarantee I will do well in said read-a-thon. I have work all week and an out-of-town bachelorette party, but I'm gonna do may best. Also, so sorry to be away so long. Bar exam. Enough said. =)

My reading list is as follows:
  1. Probably finish reading Where I belong by Mary Downing Hahn unless I read it all tomorrow.
  2. Read Player One by Ernest Cline
  3. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  4. Finish The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
  5. Back up books include Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper and The Assassin's Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke
I will be doing periodic updates so keep an eye out for that! =)

Check out my announcement video and TBR at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE2amwWU2EA.

For more info on the Bout of Book read-a-thon
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
My only real goal is to average 100 pages a day at least...

Updates

Monday

Books Read Today:
   Completed: Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn
  In-Progress: The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Challenge: http://ctwood09.blogspot.com/2014/08/bout-of-books-challenges-day-1.html
Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 57 + 44 = 101

Tuesday
Books Read Today:
  Completed: None
  In-Progress: The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Challenges: http://ctwood09.blogspot.com/2014/08/bout-of-books-challenges-day-2.html
Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 101 + 69 = 170

Wednesday
Books Read Today:
  Completed: The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
  In-Progress: Anna and the French Kiss (I know this wasn't on my TBR, but I just got it in the mail and I can't resist!)
Challenge: Skipped
Total Books Read: 2
Total Pages Read: 170 + 185 = 355

Thursday
Books Read Today:
   Completed: None
  In-Progress: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Challenge: Skipped
Total Books Read: 2
Total Pages Read: 355 + 128 = 480

Friday
Books Read Today:
  Completed: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  In-Progress: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Challenges: Skipped
Total Books Read: 3
Total Pages Read: 480 + 250 = 730

Saturday
Books Read Today:
  Completed: None
  In-Progress: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Challenge: Skipped
Total Books Read: 3
Total Pages Read: 730 + 0 = 730

Sunday
Books Read Today:
  Completed: None
  In-Progress: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Challenge: Skipped
Total Books Read: 3
Total Pages Read: 730 + 139 = 869

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Inland by Kat Rosenfield Review

"In the movies, drowning is the most undignified of deaths.
But that's not how it happens at all."
 
 
 
 
My Synopsis: Callie watches her mother drown when she is just a little girl. Her father in a desire to leave the pain and hurt and memories behind moves her inland. As time passes, Callie begins to have very serious, unexplained breathing problems. Then one day, her dad is offered a job on the coast in Florida that he can not pass up. Once they arrive, Callie begins getting miraciously better. She finals begins to feel normal until she begins to "hear the call of the sea." Whether this is a literal, paranormal, psychological, or psychotic call, you have to read to find out. 
 
     This book was a mystery. Literally, everything that happened was just a clue to the conclusion, even the epilogue. It was very well written, and if you wish to spend the time to dissect the book, there are many messages hiding in the story that can be relatable once taken out of the book. However, I was not a fan of this book. I want to start by saying that I in no way want to discourage anyone from reading this book. It is not simply a bad book. It was just not for me.
 
    I REALLY wanted to like this book, but the beginning was a chore for me to read. I felt like someone was telling me ABOUT the story instead of actually me reading the story. It was a style thing, not a writing talent thing. The writing was actually really good. I just got tired of reading the passages that sounded pretty and creepy but gave nothing to the story or character. Then the book got better. I started to get really interested in the idea and in the mystery. I should make the point that the concept and idea of the book were really good. Then the end just frustrated me. Honestly, I went on goodreads to see if there was supposed to be a sequel. (None announced yet.) Also, while the story was interesting, it wasn't as shocking as I think the author was going for. That is unless I missed something and the ending was actually supposed to mean something else. See what I mean? Frustrating! My last note of goodreads after reading this was "Wait. What? What happened?! I DON'T UNDERSTAND." And that is all I can think when I think about this book. I mean nothing happened in this book that wasn't a clue, and yet in the end, I'm still not completely sure what happened. Not some cliff hanger either where I am suppose to make my own ending. I really just don't know what the ending means.
 
     I'm no more sure as to what the story is really about than when I started the book... Then again, maybe that is the point. Huh. Profound moment. Really this may be a very good book for you. It just wasn't for me. The style was the biggest problem for me. It just didn't pull me in. It could really make you think if you want to take the time to do so, but I wanted a story with some thought behind it. Not a game of Clue followed by a "And how did that make you feel?" or "What do you think that means?" session. It was kind of reminded me of poetry in a way which I like poetry, but only occasionally and preferably shorter, not 388 pages, poems. 
 
     In conclusion, if you want a well written book that almost cradles you with feelings, though sometimes with no context, and can give you some full in a "What does that mean?" book discussion, then I'd give this book a shot. If you what a book with action and solid conclusions, then I would not pick up this book.
 
All this said. If there was a sequel, I'd read it. What that says about the book, I don't know.
 
Video review coming soon...
 
 
 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bout of Books: Tuesday Challenges

There were two challenges today.

First, from River City Reading, What are 10 books I'm looking forward to?

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
2. Days of Blood and Starlight Laini Taylor
3. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor                                                                            (these 3 have been in everyone of my TBRs for months)
4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
5. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
6. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (My first Rainbow Rowell book ever!)
7. We Were Liars by e. lockhart
8. Reboot by Amy Tintera (She's an Aggie like me!)
9. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (Like now. I'm not gonna be good at waiting for this one.)
10. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (Come on! That can't be that shocking.)

Second, from My Life in Books, the Bookish Battle Royal Challenge, which I am going to copy and paste the rules to cause there are specifics...

The Rules
  1. Choose three or more fictional characters as combatants – they can be haphazardly picked or themed (for example, I went with badass classic literature protagonists)
  2. List three strengths and weakness for each contender (feel free to skip this step if you’re using social media to participate in Bout of Books i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads…)
  3. Determine who would come out victorious and give a little explanation why you think they would win – get creative with the outcomes!
  4. Link in the comments and if you tweet about this challenge make sure to use the hashtag #bookbattleroyal in addition to #boutofbooks because I want to see all your dueling characters!
My entries:
     Characters: (1) Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass, (2) Johanna Mason from Catching Fire, and (3) Risa Ward from Unwind.
     Strengths: (1) Celaena - trained assassin, passionate, confidence; (2) Johanna - badass with an ax, screw you attitude, bigger heart than she'd like you to believe; (3) Risa - amazing pianist, medic, know self defense
    Weaknesses: (1) Celaena - prideful, arrogant, unable to follow orders...ever; (2) Johanna - traumatized, temper, no filter; (3) Risa - stubborn, tendency to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe its the right place at the right time. Depends on how you look at it), not trained with any weapon...
    Winner: Honestly, it completely depends on the circumstances. Maybe Celaena and Johanna would just kill each other and Risa would win with her resourcefulness by hiding/running and just getting away. Then again Celaena is a trained and famous assassin... But Johanna survived the Hunger games TWICE... Yeah, it feels too easy and isn't creative at all, but my bet is on Celaena. She just has a lot more avenues of success than the others. Still think Johanna would be the best fighter in a group and Risa I think would do the best just surviving the real world, real life, but in a Battle Royal, I gotta give it to Celaena. =)

Friday, May 9, 2014

BOUT OF BOOKS ANNOUNCEMENT

 


 I will be participating in the Bout of Book Read-A-Thon this year, and I am SUPER excited about it. My reading list is as follows:
  1. Finish whatever I was reading left over from the #AYearAThon read-a-thon this month (Probably Erased by Jennifer Rush)
  2. The Taking by Kimberly Derting
  3. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  5. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  6. Back up books include the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor and The Assassin's by Sarah J. Maas
I will be doing periodic updates so keep an eye out for that! =)

Check out my announcement video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXHQBU_CCRE&feature=youtu.be

For more info on the Bout of Book read-a-thon
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Updates

Monday, 5/12

Books Read Today:
   Completed: None
  In-Progress: The Taking by Kimberly Derting
Challenge: If u like dystopians w/ action & a lil romance, but can also be an intelligent comment on society, try Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Total Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 99

Tuesday, 5/13
Books Read Today:
  Completed: None
  In-Progress: The Taking by Kimberly Derting
Challenges: http://ctwood09.blogspot.com/2014/05/bout-of-books-tuesday-challenges.html
Total Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 99 + 101= 200

Wednesday, 5/14
Books Read Today:
  Completed: The Taking by Kimberly Derting
  In-Progress: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Challenge: I paired Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor with the Blue Lagoon movies. Its like the sequal I ways wanted! =) https://twitter.com/holliwood_09/status/466773739120500737
Total Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 200 + 100 + 6 = 306

Thursday thru Sunday, 5/15-5/18
Books Read Today:
  Completed: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  In-Progress: Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Challenge: I blame work. I didn't do the challenges
Total Books Read: 3
Total Pages Read: 300 + 323 + 377 + 58 = 1,058

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Almost Sleeping: A Vocabulary Story

I wrote this as a junior in high school so I was either 16 or 17. It was part of a vocabulary assignment. We had a list of words we had to use in the story, so if a word choice seems odd that is why. Maybe another Thursday I'll post my updated one were I got rid of some of the vocab words. Hope you enjoy!

Almost Sleeping

Vocabulary story


            The sunlight glittered off the gentle, cascading waterfall. His mystical, bright blue eyes latched onto mine. Even as the land of enchantment around us began to deteriorate, his eyes stuck with me. Even as I drifted in that area of semi-consciousness, his eyes remained embedded in my mind. Then I was yanked from this realm by my annoying alarm clock. It was 6:30. Great! It’s time to get up.

            As I went on with my insipid morning routine, for some unknown reason I became very distracted, disoriented almost. By the time I was ready, my dad was gone and my mom was waiting, rather impatiently.

            “Okay, okay, I’m ready.” I said, grabbing my bags for school. In the car, I was overcome with this gut-wrenching, almost prophetic, need to put my seatbelt on. I invariably do not wear my seatbelt to school because I live right across the street, but I succumbed and as we backed out the safety belt was hugging my body gently.

            I remember pulling out of our driveway talking to my mom about how exalted I was about getting Homecoming Court. Then I was blinded by this bright, white light. I felt my entire body jerk. Now, I’m here in this black room. It’s not really a room because as far as I can tell there are no walls. It’s more of a nothingness, an abyss.

            “It doesn’t have to be.” I heard a voice and for some curious reason I felt my heart jump. It was a guy’s voice.

            “Hello?” I called. “Who are you? Where are you? Where am I?”

            “So many questions.” A boy about 15, my age, jumped out in front of me. “That’s just like you.” As his familiar eyes caught mine, the darkness faded away, replaced by a familiar scene. He smiled. When I finally managed to pull my eyes away from his angelic visage and look around, I realized I was back in my dream from this morning.

            “Am I asleep?” I asked, stepping away from the boy and inspecting my surroundings with a discerning eye.

            “Not exactly,” He answered, “but close.”

            I tried to repress my panic but I was loosing the battle quickly. I turned around and scrutinized the boy. He seemed amiable enough.

            “What do you mean ‘not exactly’?” Then a morbid thought overcame me. “What do you mean ‘close’?”

            “I mean you’re in a comma, which is kind of like sleeping, in that you’re stuck in your subconscious,” he gestured to the world around us, “like when you’re sleeping.”

            I suddenly became incredibly dizzy. I muttered an “Oh, God.” Put my hand on my head and fell back against a rock.

            “Are you okay?” the boy asked.

            I was suddenly unbelievably indignant.

            “And who are you?” I snapped.

            He seemed slightly apprehensive as he revealed his identity. “I’m Johnny Adams, your dream guy.” I gave a little chuckle. He grimaced as if I had slapped him, but then he seemed to lose his compassion and matched my anger.

            “What’s up with you?” He mimicked my loathing attitude perfectly.

            “Are you kidding me?” I looked at him as if he was the one who had lost his sanity. “Oh well, I’m sorry if I’m being a bit callous but you’ll have to forgive me. I just found out that I’ve gone crazy posthumously!”

            “Well, you always wanted to do something unprecedented.” We just glared at each other for a moment then he broke the silence. “Oh, Taylor, quit being so melodramatic. You haven’t gone crazy posthumously because you’re not dead.”

            “Meaning I’ve just gone crazy, much better.” Then something dawned on me. “How do you know my name?”

            “I’m a figment of your imagination, smart one.” He said emphatically but I could tell his anger had left him. “I’m in your head. I know everything you know, nothing more, nothing less.”  

            I walked away from him saying, “This isn’t plausible. It’s unconceivable.”

            For an answer I got a disembodied voice. “ ‘The Unkind Bee’ ” My mom’s voice. “ ‘I was out in the garden…’ ” It was an excerpt from my favorite poem.

            “What’s going on?” I asked Johnny. He gave a sympathetic smile. “You can still hear when you’re in a comma.” He hadn’t spoke but I knew somehow he had helped me with the answer

            “ ‘Smelling a rose, …’ ” My mom’s voice again. A storm cloud covered the sun. As a raindrop fell from my eye, a tear fell from the cloud. “ ‘When a great big bee/ Stuck his sting in my nose…’ ”

            “What do I do?” I turned to Johnny for the answer. “I want to see her.”

            “ ‘It was very unkind-’ ”

            “Please.” The word dripped with desperation.

            “ ‘As unkind as could be-’ ”

            Johnny’s face showed he had an idea.

            “ ‘When I didn’t hurt him,…’ ”

            “Please” I repeated. It was pouring now.

            “ ‘For that bee to sting me.’ ”

            “Honey?” My dad’s voice.

            “I might know a way.” Johnny got up from the rock he had sat on during the continuing storm.

            “What are you doing?” Dad.

            Johnny came into proximity to me and gently lifted my powerless hand into his.

            “I’m reading to Taylor.” Mom.

            Johnny’s breath warmed my ear. “This world around us is very malleable. You have the power to change it.” He whispered.

            “Sweet heart.” Dad’s tone brought more tears to my eyes.

            Johnny’s breath warmed my ear again. “Imagine what they are doing. Close your eyes. See them.”

            “She loves this poem. She can recite it verbatim, by memory.” Mom was determined.

            “She can’t hear you.” Dad’s voice sounded closer. I opened my eyes and gasped. I heard Johnny laugh. I looked him in the eye and found myself smiling.

            “Yes, she can.” My mom was saying. I broke apart from Johnny and turned my eyes onto the hospital room I was now standing in. I saw my dad standing up and looking down at my mom sympathetically. My mom sat in a chair next to the bed with my tattered copy of Runaway Rhymes in her hand.

            “This is ineffectual.” My dad tried to persuade my mom.

Then my eyes turned to the bed, my bed. I saw me lying on the bland sheets customary to hospitals, tubes going in and out of me, machines surrounding me.

“Oh, God.” I gasped, terrified at what I saw. “I look so… wan.”

“Well, you’re in a comma; you don’t get much sun here.” Johnny joked.

“It’s not funny.” I said.

“She can hear me” My mom began talking again. She opened the battered book and read. “ ‘There was plenty of room/ In the heart of that rose…’ ” The hospital scene faded away… “ ‘For a rather large bee/ And a very small nose.’ ”

We were back at the waterfall. The storm had stopped but the area still reeked of gloom. I had regained my composure.

“You know that wasn’t real, right?” Johnny said. I spun around and stared at him. “What they said was but what you saw was what you imagined was happening.” He sat on the same rock he had earlier.

“So, I can’t really see them.” He sadly shook his head. I went and sat next to him.

“Honestly, I’m surprised you imagined so much negative stuff and not anything positive.” He had regained his pompous air. “I always thought you were an optimist.”

I smiled. Yes, I actually smiled. What is it about this guy?

“Hello!” He knocked on my head softly. “I’m your dream guy.”

“Hey!” I said, pushing his hand away. “Stay out of my thoughts.”

“I am your thoughts.” He laughed.

“All right then what ‘positive’ stuff do you think I should have imagined.” I was trying to change the subject. Talking to your dream guy is a little weird.

“Uh-huh, trying to change the subject I see.” He laughed again.

“Stop doing that.” I snapped then laughed myself.

“Well, to answer your question. Flowers.” He said

“Flowers?” I was lost in the mixing subjects.

“You could have, should have imagined flowers in your hospital room.” He clarified.

“Why do you think I’d have flowers in my room?” I questioned.

“Now you’re kidding me, right? You have like a million friends.”

“Whatever.” I rolled my eyes jokingly. “I’m just a crazy vegetable. Why would anyone want to be my friend?” Johnny got up from our rock.       

            “Maybe because when you’re conscious you have no contempt for others, you’re never condescending. Maybe they’d be your friend because you’re ethical, you’re vibrant. It could be because you’re whimsical.-”

            “That’s a good thing?” I interrupted.

            “Yes, it is. Who likes a Plain Jane? It could be because at times, and I’ll give it to you that it’s not all the time, not even most of the time but, on occasion you’re judicious. You are a mentor to many. You have tons of charisma.-”

            “Okay, okay.” I rose from the rock and grabbed his hands he had been gesturing wildly with. We laughed together. 

            “Face it, beautiful; you are among the elite of human kind.” I was blushing as he bent down and kissed me. My insides melted and my knees buckled. Johnny caught me in his arms, laughing.

            “I don’t know what to say.” I whispered, resting my head on his chest.

            “You inarticulate? Never!” His breath warmed my ear again. I gently pulled myself away from him so I could look into his eyes. I felt myself start to drift away. “Don’t fight it.” He whispered. “Don’t be scared.”

            The sunlight glittered off the gentle, cascading waterfall. His mystical, bright blue eyes latched onto mine. Even as the land of enchantment around us began to deteriorate, his eyes stuck with me. Even as I drifted in that area of semi-consciousness, his eyes remained embedded in my mind. Then I was yanked from this realm. I found myself in a hospital room similar to the one I had imagined, less tubes, more flowers. I laughed.

            My mom quickly took notice and called a nurse. All the ruckus my mom and dad were causing called a lot of attention to my room. Through all the faces, I noticed a boy candy striper in the doorway. As his mystical, bright blue eyes met mine, he smiled.    

 

              

                       

 

                       

 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Discovering Me Prologue

This I did not actually write that long ago, about a year ago I think. It is the prologue and basically explains the premise of a book I am trying to write. Darn law school keeps getting in the way =) But I graduate on Saturday!!!!! I do hold this piece a little more dear to me, but I would love opinions as to the writing and/or the idea in general. Thank you for any constructive criticism.

Discovering Me Prologue
          
            Breathe.
            I peek around the curtain to see into the house of the auditorium, scanning the crowd. I find Athena, Leo, and Albie in the second row a little off to the right, but no him. Where is he? Leo spots me peeking, smiles, and gives me a double thumbs up as he nudges Athena, who begins waving spastically. Albie, who I can see chuckling at the other two even from back stage, gives me a simple one sweep wave with a small smile on his face. He’ll be here. Breathe.
            “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,” Curie Kingsley, Albie’s mom and one of the city’s liaisons, addresses the audience taking center stage. “As you are all aware for a member of the Elite Caste to graduate from their studies and begin work in their area of choice, the Elite member must present to the city their first significant discovery which must be approved by a committee of qualified Elites.” Breathe. I should have just read the paper to him there and then, or given him a copy at least.
“Today we have one of our most promising up and coming Elites presenting.” Curie smiles over at me in the wings. She thinks she’s being comforting. Ha! “Her areas of study are more numerous and broad than most, covering primarily psychology, psychiatry, sociology, archeology, anthropology, and a little neurology. I know. She never was good at making decisions.”  The audience laughs. If only I thought it was funny. Breathe.  
“Now without further ado, I am proud to welcome Antigone Lace to the stage for her graduation discovery presentation.” Applause roars through the auditorium. Curie exits as I head towards the podium center stage where she had been.
            Breathe. One foot in front of the other. Look up! Smile! Breathe. Begin.
“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” This. I’d do this. Look up! Stronger. Louder. “What would you do if you knew you could not fail? A question originally posed by famous American Pastor Robert H. Schuller. Later the question would inspire Sophia Randolph to create the Randoplh Aptitute Dectecting Scanner, or the RAD Scan.” Breathe. “Over a century ago, it changed our world forever. The RAD Scan can determine as early as the first day of a person’s life what said person could be guaranteed to achieve, the maximum of their potential if correctly applied.” There are so many eyes. All staring at me! “The country in an attempt to improve both efficiency and level of achievement began using this device to separate each child into a group of those with similar capabilities called castes. Each city was divided into a series of sectors, one for each caste. The children are nurtured in whatever manner is required to make the most of the talents that the RAD Scan guaranteed.” Twenty-four seats per row. Thirty rows. Twenty in the balcony. “Since switching to this way of life, the country has produced more philosophers like Aristotle, more scientists like Isaac Newton, more artists like Picasso, and more saints like Mother Teresa than have existed across the entire span of history.” 1,200 people. Approximately fifteen people standing. 1,215 people. Two eyes each assumedly. “While separating the castes has cause some distance between the groups, there is no tension.” 2,430 eyes. “Only great peace has existed since the systems implementation.” All on me! Where the hell is he?! Breathe. “What would you do if you knew you could not fail? It’s an expression meant to free the world’s possibilities. That is what it did for Sophia Randolph. That is what Sophia Randolph meant to do with the RAD Scan. But…” Dark blue eyes. There he is. I said smile not goofy grin. Deep breath. “But the expression, this way of life, has slowly become a cage, a limitation on our dreams…”
                Here goes nothing.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Death of an Actor

This is a poem I wrote for my creative writing class in undergrad, so I was about 18 or 19...

Death of an Actor

I lay in my childhood bed in peaceful slumber.
I dream,
The curtains move along their chains.
The bright stage lights warm my skin.
Act well your part
for there all the honor lies.
I feel the applause wash over me.
The end comes
with surprising ease and excitement.
---
With surprising ease and excitement,
the end comes.
I feel the applause wash over me
for there all the honor lies.
Act well your part.
The bright stage lights warm my skin.
The curtains move along their chains.
I dream,
I lay in my childhood bed in peaceful slumber. 

All the world’s a stage

in life and in death.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski Review

“A rich emotion played across his features, offered itself, and asked to be called by its name.
Hope.” – The Winner’s Curse


My Synopsis: This is a star crossed lovers story. Kestrel’s father is a famous, big shot general in the conquering country, Valoria, where war and honor are everything. Arin, now a slave, was a citizen of Herran before the Valorians invaded and presented its people with the choice of death or becoming slaves. Volorian tradition requires all women by the age of 20 to either join the military or marry. At 17, Kestrel is too independent for marriage and wants no part of the military. She’d rather just play the piano which is very taboo because music was something the Herrian people valued. Although Kestrel personally loathes the idea owning another person, on an impulse she can not really explain she ends up purchasing Arin at an auction on the streets of Herran. Arin hates all Valorians on principle, but the General is literally from his nightmares, so his distaste for Kestrel is particularly potent. That is until they actually get to know each other of course. =) But Arin isn’t just any slave…

                I really, really, REALLY liked this book. I had a very odd reaction at the end of the book. When I sat there and was reflecting on the story, I couldn’t think of any part that just really stood out to me. While a lot of things happened in the book, a lot seemed to happen off stage. After a lot of thinking, I figured it out. There is action in this book, plenty, but the thing is when there was action the scene wasn’t about the action. It was about the betrayal or the honor or the love, etc. It was about the people and their emotions no matter what the action level was, which brings me to what I loved about this book.

                I LOVED these characters. I loved the romance. Now the romance was predictable BUT it was real. It was not insta-love, but hard-won love.  And not just won from the other person, but winning the battle against themselves to love the other. The characters were incredibly well developed. They existed outside of the story. There were characteristics of the characters that played no role in the story other than being part of the character, and I liked that. It was real. Honestly, the book was all around good, but the characters are what sold me. The story could have been horrible (it wasn’t though) and I would still pick up the next book just so I could spend more time with Kestrel and Aron. It is just amazing how you can see so clearly their hearts, their minds, who they are that you are sitting there reading and not knowing who the heck you are rooting for. Even when you pick a country (Herran or Valoria), you hate the idea of that side winning because of how it effects the other person! This book really exemplifies why I could never be in the military. While there may be a truly evil person on the other side, 90% of the soldiers on the ground are really just fighting for what they believe in whether you or I personally believe it is right or not, and they all have families at home praying to whichever god they believe will answer for their safe return.  I understand war can sometimes be necessary. I think it was necessary in this book, but you get to feel that conflict because you have 2 characters in the exact same position on opposite sides of a war, both of whom you fall in love with.

                Quickly on the writing, I loved it. I thought the display of emotions was beautiful. The way the characters would sometimes, often really, refuse to recognize or name an emotion because they wanted to ignore it was real and poetic. Like I said before the romance was pretty predictable, but despite the fact I knew what the characters really felt for each other, some of my favorite moments were the moments when the characters were shocked by the realization of their feelings. The scenes were written as if the character’s stream of thought was a street and the realization an unseen pot hole. They just stumbled into the realization suddenly and unexpectedly. I could almost hear the characters gasp when it hit them. It was just written perfectly, very real. 4, nearly 5, stars.

Can NOT wait until the next book. I'm pretty sure it is going to be even better. =)


Video review coming soon...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rebel Belle By Rachel Hawkins Review

“If by ‘graciously volunteered,’ you mean ‘was threatened and coerced,’ then yes, I did.” – Rebel Belle


My Synopsis: Cheerleader, president of everything, Homecoming Queen, and true southern belle Harper Price is suddenly a magically super warrior with a sworn obligation to protect none other than her high school enemy and rival, David Stark. Neither wants the roles they have been dealt, but neither can walk away. Because of destiny, a word both begin to hate, or because of emerging feeling about each other, only time will tell. Until then craziness, cotillion, prophecy research, and history teachers wielding swords create a hilarious, yet surprisingly relatable story ensue.

                Most of my complaints about this book are personal pet peeves. First, I hate the valley girl, Patty Simcox, ‘like,’ ‘you know’, ‘ew!’ voice. It is a personal thing because I was that girl in high school. Cheerleader, student body president, homecoming court etc. and I get unreasonably insulted when fictional characters in similar positions have this stereotypical tone. However, this became less of a thing as the book went on and came to a more realistic and true to character level. My only complaint that others may agree is that Harper jumped to “I must have superpowers” a little quick to me. It happens in a lot of books where characters jump to the needed conclusions a lot faster than any reasonable person would in real life. Not that I think that Harper reacted necessarily inappropriately when she came to the conclusion, she just stopped looking for other more reasonable or does not defy laws of physics etc. explanations for what happened. Further, I though David’s reaction to every discovery was very realistic.

                But those are all my complaints. I really liked this book. I usually go for darker fiction, but this book is a great light version of the books I usually read. To be clear, it was not overly light. It was more than just fluff and rainbows. It definitely has some sad, serious stuff, but everything is dabbed with humor which honestly is probably how a lot of people would react to sad, serious stuff in their lives, and definitely how a lot of people would respond to this kind of craziness in their life.

                As I said earlier, I was basically Harper when I was in school, so I can say that I really think (after the valley girl-ish beginning) she was very real and spot on. I found her very relatable. A lot of the choices she made, I thought were spot on for what a real teenage girl in that situation would make. In books, the main character, while usually flawed in some way, is usually very honorable and selfless.  Ex. Katniss, Tris, etc. One of my favorite things was that Hawkins wasn’t afraid to let Harper be a little selfish and spoiled. She wants her own life and not to give it up for someone else. That is true for any real teenager, particularly that girl, president of everything etc.


                The ending. I obviously do not want to spoil anything, but let’s just say a new player gets added to David and Harper’s team that I think is going to add a very interesting dynamic in the next book. Also, the closing scene and line, I thought, were perfect. Everything in this story was wrapped up, but the next story in the series was prompted, and I want it NOW.  Please and thank you. =)

Video review coming soon...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor Review

“I think about the island, and I wonder if it’s possible, if you can ever really go back to a place you’ve left behind.” – Searching for Sky


My Synopsis: This book is basically part II of all the Blue Lagoon movies, but with a slight twist. Sky has lived on Island for as long as she can remember. It was just her, her mother, River, and Helmet, but it has just been her and River for the last year. Each has their own jobs and enjoys their lives. To Sky, her and River, Falls and Shelter, Rocks and Fishing Cove, Island is all there is. Until a boat comes. Sky and River are separated, and Sky must learn the truth of her past and learn to deal with her present in a world much bigger than the only universe she’s ever known.

                First, I gave this book, a contemporary 5 stars. It is a story I have been wanting to read or watch since I first saw the first Blue Lagoon movie. And Jillian Cantor did not just give you what you wanted to hear. She told a real and honest story. She was not afraid to make you mad or make you cry. I mean I LOVED this book…until the last page which thoroughly confused the heck out of me. It had me wondering if there was supposed to be a sequel. (Not that I would mind a sequel. Would actually welcome one greatly.) It wasn’t so much a cliff hanger as it was the start of another story. More accurately it was either the start to another story or a poorly executed metaphor for hope.

NOT ragging on Cantor writing. I loved it. First, read the above quote. Very pretty, but realistic, not flowery language. Further, I loved seeing how Sky’s voice changed as she learned about our world. Even better was how Sky’s voice stayed the same despite what she learned. Just if the last page was suppose to be symbolic or some sort of metaphor… it did not come across clearly. So was it symbolic or literal? I would really like to ask the author… I have chosen to simply ignore the existence of the last page because unless it is literal and there will be a sequel, it really does not affect the story, so… 5 stars! =)

The best part of the book was Sky’s relateblity or realness. You can feel Sky’s frustration, and as Sky was yelling at the people around her, whether in her head or out loud, I was yelling right alongside her. I was so frustrated with everyone! I began to agree with her that everyone here in society was cold and a skeleton. You really saw the world through her eyes. What would you think of stairs if you had never seen any? What would you call a car if no one told you its name?


Warning: You will cry. Cantor is not scared to rip your heart out or make you scream at people’s stupidity. And she does it well because you will fall helplessly in love with every one of her characters even when they are being idiots.

This book has not yet been released. I received an ebook ARC from netgalley. Searching for Sky will be released May 13, 2014. I will post a video review closer to release.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: What is normal?

I wrote this back in 2006, so I was 15... I think it was for an English class. I don't really remember all the details, but I enjoyed the topic. =)

What is Normal?

As children we aspire to stand out, but as teenagers we beg to blend in. We plead to be considered “normal” by mediocre standers. One question must be asked. What is “normal”?
            It is a mocking reality that we at tender ages could see what we are now blinded to. A kindergartener always has Mommy put her pretty picture on the refrigerator, but a teen plays dumb just so they won’t be labeled a “nerd”. It is as if we are born wise but allow ourselves to regress due to society’s stupidity.
            The wisdom from our childhood permitted us, consciously or not, to comprehend the complexity of normal through na├»ve eyes. As time passed, we learned the dictionary definition of normal and even allowed ourselves to put characteristics to it, but we let ourselves lose our innate insight in this intricate quality. What we perceived then that we are now ignorant to is that normal does not exist.
            We all can define it. We each can paint a picture of it. The question, though, is how many of these portraits will even resemble another. Since we all have unique images of what normal is, then whose is correct? Which normal is normal?
            Back when I was not much more than a rug rat like my favorite cartoon characters, when my gentle eyes were still glazed with innocence, I wanted red hair, auburn or strawberry blond to be exact. I wanted blue eyes, bright blue eyes the color of the sky. I wanted to be left handed. I wanted to be different.
            I blinked. Now I’m nineteen years old. My hair is now blonder not redder. My eyes are standard hazel. I’m still a righty. Even though I am fortunate enough not to have completely lost my immature views on things such as normal, I find myself conforming. I fight it. Normality can be viewed as a big black hole, not even light can escape it. You will lose yourself in it.
            We must regress in age to enhance in insight. Now look upon this mere utterance and see what is not there. Normal may be me, it may be you. It is an essence labeled by ones imagination.
            Normal can be defined as a setting on a washing machine or, as it is in Webster’s dictionary, conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom. Since every individual holds their own characterization of normal, giving it no standard, normal is ironically so very not normal.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira Review

“I mean, words can’t be good enough for a lot of things. But, you know, I guess we have to try.”  – Love Letters to the Dead


My Synopsis: Laurel lost her sister a few months ago and is now starting high school. A different high school than the one her sister went to because she doesn’t want people to know, doesn’t want them to ask questions because there are secrets that Laurel just can’t say aloud. Then Laurel’s English teacher gives her the assignment to write a letter to a dead person. Laurel writes to Kurt Cobain because her sister loved him, but she doesn’t turn it in. Instead, she continues to write to a whole cast of characters that died too soon. Through these letters (and with the help of some awesome friends with struggles of their own) Laurel tells her story and discovers life, love, and herself.

                        First let me say that I find that I am harder on contemporary books when it comes to the star system, so I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. I really liked this book. The fault that lead to a 4 instead of a 5 stars is that it did drag a bit every once in a while, but honestly that is to be expected in such an introspective, character driven book. The voice in this book is amazing. It had an emotional core that kept you attached to the characters, but at the same time all the events that happened were being told to a third party, the dead, which gave a unique perspective.

                        Another beauty to the letters was in who they were written to and who they were not written to. As Laurel discovers things about herself and her sister and the world, the letters begin to reveal more and more of what Laurel really wants to say, and it pulls at your heart strings as you, the reader, begin to release who she is really talking to even when Laurel still believes she is writing the Kurt or Jim Morrison or Judy Garland.

                        The friends in this book are amazing. They see everything that Laurel needs even before she knows she needs it. You will very easily fall in love with all her friends and be rooting for them in their own struggles. And first love. =) Of course, there is a first love. It is… real. All of the members of this little group are very real. They each have weaknesses and each have strengths. In the romance, in all the romances, you watch in frustration as their weaknesses pull them apart and back together and apart and back together again.  


                        Comparing Love Letters to the Dead to other books, I would say it is a mixture of Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Looking for Alaska by John Green. (May, Laurel’s sister, really reminds me of Alaska.) In other words, you will cry. A lot. 
        
            
            Video review here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday: What Reading Means to Me


I wrote this when I was 16 as part of a Hastings summer reading contest. In 200 words or less, I had to explain what reading meant to me.

What Reading Means to Me?

I’ve been to Venice, Italy, and to another planet in another galaxy. I’ve been a goddess, a witch, and a frightened child. Books are tickets to another’s world. An author’s words are the paths you must follow. It is on these paths we find unimaginable truths in these imaginary worlds. Truths that reality is too shy to share. Even our basic morals are taught to us through story books in the form of evil witches and handsome princes. Reading is what prepares us to face the subtle, yet brutal realities of our world. Reading is also what allows us to escape from these brutal realties.
I live among a generation where imagination has become “unnecessary”. Technology has caused us to have no need to pretend. Reading keeps imaginations alive which is crucial because imagination is the only material we have to build our dreams. Authors are dreamers and their words are the frozen essences of our thoughts and feelings. It is essential for us to open as many ink and paper imaginations as possible. It is not essential for survival but essential to making survival worth wild. Reading makes dreams come true and imaginations run free. I read. I dream.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas Review

“One of them has to break…Only then can it begin.”
– Crown of Midnight



My Synopsis: Caleana has become the king’s assassin, but she is doing her best to balance her obligations to the king (under threat to the lives of those she cares for) and her true loyalties. More mysteries unfold that once again fall to Caleana to solve. Honestly, it becomes a bit of a scavenger hun, a very dangerous and exciting scavenger hunt. Still while this careful balancing act causes many ups and down and she still has many secrets, Caleana manages to find happiness at least for a little while. Then everything falls apart, but then again maybe everything is actually finally coming together. At the end, a great number of secrets are revealed that leave everyone, characters and readers alike, questioning everything and everyone.

            Once again, I LOVE CALEANA! I loved this book and gave it 5 out of 5 stars. Since the majority of the review will be a rave, I’ll start with the one thing that bothered me. The love interests in this book are great. I love them both and would be happy no matter which Caleana ends up with. However, I thought the beginning of the book just focused a little too much on the romance too fast. In Throne of Glass there is the love triangle, but a lot of the feelings are really more hinted at and barely recognized by the characters themselves. Now I am never one to complain about to complain about a book having some romance, I just thought in the beginning of the epic fantasy about an assassin the romance was all that was going on. I wanted a little more of the rest of the story mixed in the beginning.

            Comparing Crown of Midnight to Throne of Glass, Throne of Glass is basically the book the introduces the world and the character with its own story, but Crown of Midnight is where you are introduced the actual story that the whole series is about. Now, a lot of people have said that they really preferred Crown of Midnight over Throne of Glass. However, I would give the slight edge to Throne of Glass, but let me explain. To me, Throne of Glass was 5 stars from the first page to the last. Crown of Midnight was 4 to 4.5 stars until about half way through then it was all caps FIVE STARS until the end. Seriously. I hit a certain point in Crown of Midnight and could NOT put it down. I had a very long, tired day of classes because of this. I think the issue is that I had just finished Throne of Glass and was so excited and heard that Crown of Midnight was ever better, so I had to be let down a little by the beginning. I didn’t want to be eased back into the story because I hadn’t left. Also for me, literally no time had passed between the events in Throne of Glass and the beginning of Crown of Midnight, but in the books months had passed.

            The rest of this review is going to be an absolute RAVE! I loved this book. It was exciting. There was tons of mystery. And for all the complaining I did about the placement and pace of the romance, OH THE ROMANCE! *Swoons* Now this book is really hard to talk about without giving spoilers, so I can’t really say a lot, but I'm going to try. I talked a lot about the unanswered questions in Throne of Glass. Well first, after reading Crown of Midnight, I know why there were so many unanswered questions because they are all SO important in this book that Maas just couldn’t give. Also, in Throne of Glass these unanswered questions were hinted at, but they were never really posed. They were background we wanted, but nothing that was really necessary for the story at that point. In Crown of Midnight, it was more like Maas would lead you to the edge of the cliff, give you a gentle push until you are teetering, and then move on to lead you to another cliff without letting you know if you were going to fall off the first one or not. So many times I found myself growling in frustration “I HATE THIS…I LOVE THIS… OH MY GOD THIS BOOK!!!!” Now Maas did wrap up the story. You know by the end of the book which cliffs you fell off of and which you didn’t (mostly), but it was that whole “we will get the results after the commercial break” phenomenon. In the long run, I loved that about this book. At the time, my sleep deprivation had me pulling my hair out because I couldn’t go to bed until I knew.


            Basically, amazing book. Go read it now. I am now read The Assassin’s Blade because I just must have more Caleana. However, I’m going to be honest. After reading Crown of Midnight, you will be like I was I’m sure. Pacing back and forth muttering “I need the next book. I need it NOW!” over and over again. J Hang in there. We only have until September 2 until Heir of Fire. Only… I really do need the third book NOW!

Video Review found here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas Review

"You could rattle the stars," she whispered. "You could do anything, if you only dared. And deep down, you know it too. That's what scares you most." -Throne of Glass


My Synopsis: This is the story about a girl and an assassin, whom happen to be the same person, Celaena Sardothien. She is a very flawed human being with a lot of unrevealed baggage, but she also has the potential, unseen by most, to be a hero. A prince with daddy issues, Dorian Havilliard, tracks her down where she is in a prison camp in order to sponsor her as his champion in a competition put together by his father, choosing her mainly to annoy his father. The winner of the competition will become the King’s Champion and after serving a term of years will be freed and forgiven of all crimes. She comes to the castle to win her freedom. She is trained and carefully watched by the Captain of the Guard, Chaol Westfall, and she befriends a foreign princess, Nehemia Ytger. However, things are complicated when Celaena’s competitors begin being brutally murder and for some reason it falls to Celaena to do something about it.

            I think it is very fitting that since this is my first official book review I use the words of some of the characters I fell in love with during this book to explain a philosophy I always follow when critiquing anything whether it be in judging some competition or reviewing a book.

What's the point in having a mind if you don't use it to make judgments?"
"What's the point of having a heart if you don't use it to spare others from the harsh judgments of your mind?
 ” -Throne of Glass

            Put simply when I critique something I like to give at least one example of something that was bad or needed improvement (because I have a mind to make judgments and nothings perfect) and at least one compliment (because I have a heart and there is something good in everything).

            So, since I loved this book, I will start with something I didn’t like. So many unanswered questions! Now this book is not a stand-alone but the first in a series that is supposed to be like 5 or 6 books, so obviously not everything could be explained, not all questions could be answered. However, particularly with Celaena, the main character and assassin, there was a lot of background information that was hinted at without going into any detail. I assume that her past is going to be a big deal in the future, but I would have liked just a little more. Or if there was really nothing else that could be revealed about Celaena’s past, I would have liked to hear more about Dorian or Chaoll. I’m always big on back stories, so… I have the bind up of the novellas so hopefully that helps. And of course I have already started Crown of Midnight, the next book in the series.

            Easily my favorite part of this book is Celaena. Honestly I loved all of the characters! At least all of the characters that I was supposed to love. I thoroughly hated the characters that were, well, evil. But Celaena… I have not identified with a character that was so unlike me ever before. (Not that I’m perfect by any means. I’m just differently flawed.) There is a blurb on the back of the book by USA Today that says “[Celaena is] a truly remarkable heroine who doesn’t sacrifice the grit that makes her real in order to do what’s right in the end.” I could not put it better myself. Celaena is vain, arrogant, competitive, angry, overly distrustful and selfish at times. This is a girl who was complaining about how dirty she was while she was chained up in a death camp! Yelled at a cue ball because she missed! She is an assassin! Still you fall in love with her. She is very flawed, but more precisely, she is beautifully flawed. Like the worn cover of your favorite book.

            While Celaena now has a comfy place as one of my favorite characters of all time, she was not the only thing I loved about this book. I loved Dorian, the prince, and Chaol, captain of the guard. Both of these men could easily be any girl's prince charming, but what I found so interesting about these characters was how Maas used them to show this world she created, and Celaena specifically, in two very different and both accurate lights.

            I don’t want to have any spoilers in this review even if they are pretty obvious one, so I won’t say much about the villains in this book. The villain, at least the true villain, you don’t really see much in the book, but when you do… you feel it, physically feel it. There is just enough of this evil presence in this first book that you can began hating and, honestly, fearing him or her ;). I think that is what I loved about how the villain was presented in this book. You always have someone you can hate, but I can’t think of the last book where I actually feared the bad guy.

            As for Erilea, the world where all these wonderful characters live, I want to see more. This first book takes place largely just in the castle, so understandably we haven’t seen much. The characters also seem to have a lot to learn, so we can’t as readers know what they do not. A lot is hinted at and some history is reveal, but I just want more. So I’m going to get off here so I can start reading Crown of Midnight!

Oh! And any book that both recognizes the power of books and the power of music wins for me. =)

“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.” 


"It was a mournful piece, but it made her into something clean and new...She forgot about time as she drifted between pieced, voicing the unspeakable, opening old wounds, playing and playing as the sound forgave and saved her." 
-Throne of Glass

Here is a link to my video review: Throne of Glass Review & Discussion