Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Blogger Hop/Follow Friday

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop: 
The Question of the Week is: 
In honor of Banned Books Week, what is your favorite “banned or frequently challenged book”? 

Answer: Of the 2010-2011 banned reads, the only one I've read is 'Hunger Games'. They banned the book for supposedly giving children nightmares and numbing readers to violent acts. I may be in the minority here, but I didn't find Hunger Games to be violent. It was depressing and some dark things did happen, but we never really saw the heroes of the novel do many violent things, just saw their reaction to the violence around them. 

Plus, the news is filled with far more violent acts, so I don't see why parents choose to blame this book for 'numbing' their children's reaction to violent acts. (A good movie to see if you liked Hunger Games is Battle Royale. It's a Japanese flick that I found similar and just as entertaining as 'Hunger Games'!) 

The Question of the Week is: 
What book that hasn't been turned into a movie (yet) would you most like to see make it to the big screen, and who would you like cast as your favorite character? 

Answer: I'd like to see the 'Stravaganza' series (by Mary Hoffman) made into a movie. The books take place in the contemporary world, as well as Talia, a fantastical version of Italy. I'd love to see the 'Stravaganza' series come to life on film! I don't know who'd I cast as the main characters... That is sure something to think about!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink

Title: Circle of Fire 
Author: Michelle Zink 
Genre: YA, Historical, Romance, Supernatural 
Perfect for: Readers of the original two novels-- don't start with this one!!! 
Star Rating: 4/5 stars

Taken from Goodreads, "With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help--or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister--and maybe still does. James doesn't know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way. There are some secrets sisters aren't meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them." 

 As this is the third and final book in a series, this review is going to be short and sweet. 'Circle of Fire' is a fitting ending to the 'Prophecy of the Sisters' trilogy, regardless of its faults. While the pacing of the story felt off, I sped through the pages. Lia and Dimitri had some cute moments, the interaction between Lia and Alice came as a welcome shock, and, overall, the story's end felt right. 

I didn't like all the elements of the story-- it was a little dark at the end (though I probably should have expected that!). Also, some of this story felt like it would have been better placed in the second book. Along the same lines, I didn't feel that we learned enough about the new keys to really care about them. 

If you've read the first two novels, you'll want to read 'Circle of Fire'. This is one ending that definitely brings closure to the story. 'Circle of Fire' gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Follow Friday/TGIF

TGIF is hosted by GReads!

Question of the week: Reading Challenges: Did you sign up for any this year? How has your progression been?

Answer: I fail miserably at challenges so I am not participating in any. When I really aim to sit down and read tons of books, that is when things come up or get in the way! I do much better when I don't have a time table or list that I feel I 'need' to read. :-)

Question of the week: Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it? 

Answer: Series? Not really. I've found there's always a book that I don't care to reread in each series. Books within a series? Here are a few of my favorites: Twilight (Stephenie Meyer), The Grey King (Susan Cooper), Greenwitch (Susan Cooper) and Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling)... I try to re-read the entire 'Dark is Rising Sequence' every now and then, as well as 'The Chronicles of Narnia'.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Updates/Book Blogger Hop/Follow Friday

Hello again to all my friends, I'm glad you came to play, fun and learning never ends-- oops, sorry channeled Barney there for a moment!  Thanks for stopping by the blog.  This past week was pretty centered on 'Divergent'.  

New This Week:
Divergent Fantasy Cast
Divergent Review

And the hops...
The Book Blogger Hop: 
Book Blogger Hop

The Question of the Week is: As a book blogger, how do you introduce yourself in your profile? 

Answer: Do I have a profile? Hmm. Not so much.. I may have to work on that. In my soon to be updated profile, I'm sure I'll mention my love of reading, my goal to work in television or at least get a script or two produced, and my other hobbies (ie: doll collecting).  Maybe all in Q and A style?  I'll probably have some silly little quote in there from Doctor Who. I think that it's important for people to know who the writer is on blogs. That's why I do these hops and why I do the fantasy casts. Those two things give a little more insight into me, I think. I'll have to make my profile reflect that, too. 

Follow Friday:
The Question of the Week is: It's that pesky magic book fairy again! She has another wish: What imaginary book world would you like to make a reality? 

Answer: Does 'The Neverending Story' count? I've always wanted to hold a book with the Auryn on the cover and the whole idea of being part of the book while reading it? One word-- Awesome!

Thanks for stopping by this week. See you again soon!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fantasy Cast: Divergent

Back in March, it was announced that Summit acquired the film rights to 'Divergent' by Veronica Roth. Since speed reading it this past week, I thought I'd put together another fantasy cast-- this time on 'Divergent'

Matthew Lewis (Harry Potter films) as Four: 
(Runner Up: Drew Roy)

No one can deny that Matthew Lewis has grown up into a nice looking guy! Why choose Matthew Lewis for Four? First, he has a unique look to him. He's not your typical cookie cutter male lead, he has some uniqueness to his physical looks. Second, we've really only seen Matthew play minor characters. I think it's about time this boy was given a lead role! He could totally pull off Fours conflicting emotional states and the humor his character surprisingly has a knack for!

Malese Jow (The Vampire Dairies, Big Time Rush) as Tris: 
(Runner Up: Dakota Fanning)
Yes, I know this choice doesn't fit the physical description of Tris exactly, but Malese has a unique look to her (like Tris) and has the petite body type associated heavily with Tris. From what I've seen of her in Vampire Diaries, she could pull off both the frigid, insecure side of Tris, as well as the tough, confident Tris that shows emotion.

Jake Abel (Supernatural, Percy Jackson) as Eric:
I'm not typecasting Jake, but he does play troubled characters well. I could totally see him striking fear into young Dauntless hearts!!! 

Tommy Knight (The Sarah Jane Adventures) as Al:
Yes, Al is supposed to be this larger than life sort of fellow physically, but it's really hard to find an actor that plays young, but is that much of a brick wall. Tommy Knight is an actor who I see having a great future. With a little time in the gym, I'm sure he could buff up a bit to become a believable Al AND still pull off the emotional bits that are necessary to get Al right.

Will Poulter (Voyage of the Dawn Treader) as Will:
I think I've used Will in these posts before and possibly for yet another character with his actual name, but I stand by this choice. Going totally off looks, he strikes me as a fellow who would, if we had a society like Roth's, come from a class of intellectuals. Plus, I think this kid can act! 

??? as Christina: Actually, I'm not sure who I'd cast as Christina... Any thoughts on who you'd like to see? 

??? As Caleb: Again, I'm not sure who I'd go with here, either. Any thoughts on who you'd like to see?

So, there's my fantasy cast... Who's on yours?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA, dystopian, action, romance
Perfect for: older YA readers who like dark dystopian reads
Star Rating: 3/5 stars

Taken from Goodreads, "Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger."

Oh, 'Divergent'... What do I say about you? 'Divergent' delivered in terms of being an addictive, thought provoking debut. It's one of the better 'present tense' books that I've read-- up there with the 'Uglies' trilogy. I can see why people have been hyping the title, because it is overall a well rounded, entertaining dystopian novel. However, there are a few things that bugged me about 'Divergent', too, that stand out too much to skip over.

'Divergent' has one of the better 'present tense' voices that I've read-- and I don't usually get into books written in 'present tense'. Tris has a specific voice that comes across well, making this quite an addicting read. 

At over 400 pages, 'Divergent' is a long read. Normally, a book that is 400 pages takes me three or four days, but 'Divergent'? I felt compelled to finish it in two. Be warned now that 'Divergent' is one of those books that will keep you thinking about it even when you're not reading (like, when you're supposed to be shelving books at work and you're instead thinking about the crazy factions and their values!!!).

Debut Author Veronica Roth clearly defines her dystopian world and does a good job of making it stand out among other dystopian worlds. I can't say I didn't find any (whats the word?) issues with the world, but in terms of getting what it felt like across to readers, Roth did well. I wish Roth would have gone further into the setting outside of Chicago or, if it is the same system everywhere, mentioned that somewhere. 

Also, the factions never made sense to me-- I never understood why Chicago (or the entire world) separated people as they did. Yes, Roth had a line or two about it in the book, but more would have been nice. Usually I can pick out a trait about whatever dystopian society I'm reading that makes sense or seems to fit an aspect of our lifestyle, but this dystopian Chicago just seems wrong to me.  Granted, for all I know, we could be getting more of this in the sequels.

One other thing that didn't come across to me-- why do people fear being faction-less when being faction-less seems to be the best option? I can't believe that all the faction-less people in the streets of Chicago are sad, depressed, shadows of people. There must be some factor-less (like Divergent factor-less) that see the lack of one specific cast as a lifesaver. As I mentioned before, Roth might address something like this in future books, so maybe she is just saving this morsel for later, but as far as 'Divergent' is concerned, I just couldn't wrap my head around the factor-less.

The characters in 'Divergent'? I liked *most* of them. Four, Will, and Christina were great characters that really helped bring me into Roth's world. Four, in particular, really stole the show for me.  The character I had the most trouble with was, ironically enough, the main character Tris. I didn't hate Tris-- I mean, how can you hate the main character in a novel told in first person-- but she got on my nerves. The best way I can describe it is that while reading Tris, I was reminded of reading Tally from the 'Uglies' trilogy. Tally was hardly a like-able character in the beginning of the novels (and the sequels, for that matter), but even so, the novels ended up on my list of favorites. Some of Tris' characteristics, especially when it came to violent/mean spirited tendencies frustrated me. You can shrug it off by saying 'well, that's her factor', but for a Divergent, I would think that she would have acted differently. Don't get me wrong-- I liked Tris as a character, but I would be lying if I said she didn't irritate me, too.

The pacing of the novel was done well and I think you'll find yourself hard pressed to not make a marathon of reading 'Divergent'. I enjoyed Roth's romantic storyline in the novel between the two leads. It wasn't exactly the typical 'lust' at first sight thing that we're seeing now a days. The romance had time to develop. The best part of the romance was that, unlike other novels, the characters in this novel weren't blinded by love, but they had the typical concerns, doubts, fears that couples in real life tend to have. It was nice to read. The action was paced well and, I'm happy to say I didn't get bored or feel the need to skim over it! The ending was a little quick for me and I was worried that it was going to be one of those 'stop in mid thought' cliffhangers at first, but it turned out to have a proper (fast) ending. Thank goodness!

'Divergent' gets 3 out of 5 stars. I'll be recommending this read to fans of darker, slightly more violent dystopian novels. Even with the problems I had with the novel, none of which are deal breakers, I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in Roth's world. 'Divergent' is available in stores now!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Updates/Book Blogger Hop/Follow Friday

Hello friends! Down a laptop, I haven't been able to post my usual three posts a week here. Apologies. It didn't help that my reading schedule has been off this past month. You know when you're in a reading rut? Yep, that was me. :-) 

Now, I'm back. I have two book reviews 'in the wings' and am going to start another book tomorrow. 

As far as the reality TV show front, things are looking good!!! Keep your fingers crossed for me. I think I made a good choice to stay behind the camera in television. I've read recently reality 'stars' don't get very much money compared to the creative team. 

Anyone watching Falling Skies? I think that wins for my new favorite show of the summer. 

See you all next week!

Book Blogger Hop

The Question of the Week is:  What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season – A particular book release? Halloween? The leaves changing color? Cooler temperatures? A vacation? (If your next season is other than fall/autumn, tell us about it and what you are most looking forward to in your part of the world!) 

Answer: I really enjoy Halloween. I'm a ham at heart, so dressing up and pretending to be something new and exciting for an evening, even if I'm too old for trick or treating, always makes me happy!

The Question of the Week is: If you could change the ending of any book (or series), which book would you choose? And, why? 

Answer: There are a few, actually! 

I would have told Stephenie Meyer to stop at 'Twilight', first off! There are bits of the sequels I like, but it would have been fine as a standalone! 

I'd probably have to go to K.A Applegate and get her to make a happy ending for the 'Animorphs' series. (Wiki to synopsis of the final book) I remember really disliking the negative vibe the last books in the series had. So not the way to end it!

I'd also like to knock on George Lucas' door and tell him that he needs to find a way to get Chewie back from the dead and to redeem Jacen from his dark downfall (I'm thinking, we can do JR and call it all a dream!) in the EU Star Wars novels! There was no reason for Star Wars to get so darn dark, in my opinion.

Review: Dark Life by Kat Falls

Title: Dark Life 
Author: Kat Falls 
Genre: Juvi, YA, Dystopian, slight romance, action, adventure
Perfect for: readers across the board-- younger YA readers and older YA readers! (first book in series) 
Star Rating: 4/5 stars

Taken from Goodreads, "Dive deep into the vivid underwater world of Dark Life! The oceans rose, swallowing the lowlands. Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor: the Dark Life. Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea. When outlaws attack his homestead, he finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from Topside, Ty ventures into the frontier's rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life. Secrets that threaten to destroy everything." 

You know the awesome feeling you get when you pick up a book thinking you'll read it to kill a little time, only to then look up and see you've spent half the day sucked into a fantastically, addictive story? That was my experience with 'Dark Life' by Kat Falls. It was recommended that I take a look at the debut novel. I put it off, as juvi fiction is somewhat hit or miss for me and the cover wasn't as appetizing to my palette as I would have liked, but after reading it, I must say, 'Dark Life' rocked. 

As far as cons go, the few I found were pretty minuscule. While the dystopian world is described well, small details about the characters took a while to be mentioned. For example, I didn't know for sure how old the characters were until two-thirds of the way into 'Dark Life' when Ty mentioned how far he was away from getting his own bit of land. I had assumed that they were around 15 because of the voice, but it was a bit annoying not knowing! Another reader I spoke to was unsure of the gender of Ty, the main male character, until a few chapters in. Little details like gender and age can be forgotten so easily, so I understand, but it did bother me a bit! 

While this isn't all together a con, the ending of the novel did feel a bit rushed. I think that came from the fact that so much happened in 'Dark Life' that the slow down was bound to feel abrupt. The ending wasn't bad by any means, it was just quicker than I would have liked. 

Now, on to the good stuff-- and there was plenty! I loved the world Falls set up. It was one of the more unique dystopian worlds I've read. It seems that YA is full of novels set in underground tunnels or dark city streets, but I haven't read one set in an underwater environment like Falls created. She created a world that was simple to understand, but was pretty complex at the same time. 

The story played out like a movie, which might be the reason Disney picked up the film rights prior to the books release. 'Dark Life' is definitely a novel that can be described as an action/adventure. It didn't lag and just when you thought you'd figured something out, something new happened! The story should entertain middle grade readers, as well as older YA readers. 

For those romance readers, there was a very small bit of romance in the novel.  Most of the 'romantic' bits were very first love/school yard romance-esc.  The story was more concentrated on the action and the slight (very slight) bit of romance there was never crossed into 'teen only' territory!

The best thing about this novel? Even though it has a sequel, 'Rip Tide', it has a complete beginning, middle, and end. You're not left on a huge cliff hanger, like many series that have come out in the last year. It could have even been a standalone, if Falls had wanted it to be! 

If you haven't read 'Dark Life', I suggest giving it a try. I think you'll like it! Both 'Dark Life' and 'Rip Tide' are available everywhere books are sold!  'Dark Life' gets 4 out of 5 stars!