Friday, August 29, 2014

Feature Friday: Kathy of Read This Instead

Guys, as this is one of the last days left in August, it is also my last post in collaboration with Utah Books commemorating Utah Book Month.  *sniff sniff.*  

The good news is that we're going out with a BANG.  Today I've got an awesome interview for you from a fellow book blogger: Kathy from Read This Instead!  I learned from this interview that Kathy also dislikes folding down pages of books (hear hear!) and also wishes people wouldn't dismiss chicklit books because of the title "chicklit."  Seriously, she is so right!  Kathy, I also feel like I should warn you that I might kidnap you and not release you until you've watched Star Wars and at least one of the Indiana Jones films.  Read on for further (and less threatening) insights:

1. What prompted you to start blogging?
I started reading a lot after I had my first kiddo and I wanted a way to connect with other bookish people. I don't remember how I stumbled on some local book bloggers but I started going to events at the library and everyone was so welcoming. The social aspect was really important to me, and I've made some great friends this way. I don't have as much time to devote to blogging as I used to, but I still try really hard to keep up with the people. :)
2. Describe your ideal book in three words.
Funny, swoony, character growth (let's just pretend like character growth is one word)
3. What authors have earned your trust and are automatically on your to-read list?
Sara Zarr (a Utah author!), Stephanie Perkins, Maggie Stiefvater, Jandy Nelson

4. Do you have any reading quirks?
I hate when people dog ear the pages of books! Hate it, hate it! Seriously, use an old receipt or something to mark your place. :)

5. What book(s) would you like to give a different ending to than the author intended and why?
Maybe Mockingjay. Not so much the ending but much of the middle. That was just a depressing, slow book.

6. Han Solo or Indiana Jones?
This is a sad, true story. I haven't seen movies with either of these guys. Guess I'm not a big Harrison Ford fan. 

7. What would you change about YA fiction?
I wish people didn't think it was beneath them, or a bunch of fluff chick lit. Of course not all of it is good, but I wish the whole genre wasn't dismissed because of it.

8. What is one of your goals in life?
I wrote a story for NaNoWriMo last year and I would love to fix it up enough that I'm happy with it. I don't know if I'd ever try to query it or anything, but I'd like to spiff it up. Even if it's just for me.

9. Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?
Chocolate covered strawberry! But if I could only have one it'd be chocolate.
10. What is the grossest thing you have ever eaten?
In college I spent a semester in Bolivia and ate all kinds of weird things: kidney, some kind of blue egg... thing. I'm still not sure what it was.

11. What book(s) changed your life?
The Harry Potter series is what got me reading as an adult. I wasn't much of a reader after elementary school because I wasn't reading books that interested me. Harry Potter let me think it was ok to read just for fun.

12. What is one of your non-bookish hobbies?
I really like doing family history. There are all kinds of people in my family tree and I've had a lot of fun learning about them.

13. What bookish tropes do you wish would die a thousand deaths?
Love triangles. It's always so obvious who will end up together and I hate how it usually gets dragged out over two or three books.
Also, plots where it turns out one of the characters has been dead the whole time. I can usually spot those before the big reveal, too. So they're not so fun to read.

14. What book do you love that no one else has heard of?
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr is usually my go to answer, but I just read Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan. It's funny and has some interesting sibling relationships. I just really like obscure contemporary YA.

Thanks Kathy!  It was a pleasure having you here at the BDrag!  :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Rating: 2 stars
Source: Listened to Audiobook via Audible
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love."

Review: I honestly can't tell how much my low rating has to do with the story itself and how much it has to do with the narrator, who I found to be extremely and irritatingly melodramatic.  They are both to blame in some regard, however, so I'll mete my criticism on both.

First, the story.  

So, this Beauty and the Beast retelling should have been an easy win for me.  I love fairy tale retellings, and Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites.  Nyx was a difficult and conflicted protagonist, the villain is not what he seems, and several of the plot twists were unexpected, so there was a lot there that could have been great.  But, for me, it just wasn't.

The biggest problem for me was the inclusion of Greek mythology.  Nyx and her kingdom have every appearance of medieval France: I could easily picture the thatched roofs and surrounding forest, the foreboding castle in the distance.  The village square is reminiscent of the classic Disney movie, and so the mentions of Zeus and Hera were jarring and uncomfortable.  They didn't fit with the rest of the picture.  Maybe this was supposed to be medieval Greece instead?  If so, I'd buy it, if there were other things in the story to hint at that kind of setting.  At it is, the mash up between Greek mythology and Ignifex's castle is just confusing.

Other things that are confusing: Why Ignifex wanted a bride?  Who exactly Ignifex's masters are?  What Ignifex's keys are for?  What Ignifex wants?  Why Shade can talk once he is kissed, but not before?  What in the world the bloody hermetic lamps and signs and hearts were for, how they worked, and what their purpose was?  What the kindly ones wanted, and how they were related to the rest of the mythology?? 

This book is certainly complicated, and usually I love a good, complicated book.  But its logic didn't make sense to me, and so I found myself becoming increasingly irritated as the book went on.  The ending was at least unpredictable, but by the time that twist came I was too disillusioned to care.

But the biggest problem of them all was the narrator.

I'm not a big book-on-tape gal.  This is the first audiobook I've reviewed here on the BDrag, and it might be the last.  I'm sure the narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden, is a lovely person.  But I found her narration of Cruel Beauty to be overdone and overly dramatic, to the point of ruination.  Every single moment was dragged out and overemphasized as if it carried some enormous emotional weight.  Some moments were emotionally charged, but, good grief, not everything!  For the love.  

For example, she would slow down her reading and lower her voice for dramatic effect at the end of nearly every sentence.  Like, the sentence, "The door clicked shut" could be dramatic if the door was trapping Nyx in a room holding some unknown horror (which did happen and so the drama was appropriate) but it isn't all that scary (and isn't meant to be scary) if she's just closing the door behind her as she goes to the dining hall to eat breakfast.  In that case, the drama is not applicable and just comes across as silly.  I found myself rolling my eyes more than once at the ill-timed and misplaced melodrama.  Although I did have many problems with the story, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the physical book instead of listened to it.  At least things got better once I sped up the narration speed.

Bottom LineI can't say I would recommend Cruel Beauty.  The primary emotions I felt while reading were confusion, irritation, and disappointment.  I'd be curious to hear from someone who loved the book, though.  If you did, tell me where I went wrong!  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book-to-Film: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

It's been a while since a Narnia film has been released, and there was even some speculation that the producers would just skip straight to The Magician's Nephew (the last book in the series) and leave the rest undone.  But fans can now rest easy, official word is that the franchise is continuing with the next book in line: The Silver Chair.  

From Big Books Tiny Voices:

Speculation about the Narnia franchise has been all over the place for some time now- some people thought it was finished (the film rights have bounced from studio to studio) and those who had not lost faith were certain that the next film was going to be The Magician’s Nephew (because they had basically said as much). Have no fear- official word is in and they are moving ahead with the fourth film in the franchise, which will be The Silver Chair! Screenplay writer David Magee, who has an Academy Award nomination for his work on Life of Pie, will pen the script.

Hopefully this one is more like the first two and less like the third one.  But who am I kidding, I'll see it regardless.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly Words: Edd McCracken

Friday, August 22, 2014

Author Interview: Jennifer Nielsen

YOU. GUYS.  I have the greatest post for you today!  But first, some back story.

When I signed up to participate in Utah Book Month, one of the things I agreed to do was to host an author interview.  A few weeks later I had the great pleasure of interviewing the one and only Jennifer A. Nielsen, fellow Utah native and New York Times Bestselling author of The Ascendance Trilogy, Infinity Ring, and Underworld Chronicles.  Cue major squealing and hand flapping.

I don't know about you, but in my head I envision authors as these sage, mythical beings, much like unicorns or sphinxes, who occasionally bless the rest of us muggles with their wisdom, creativity, and insight in the form of books.  (Authors, you are welcome to try and prove your status as regular human beings, but until I obtain verifiable evidence to the contrary I'm going with my mythical creature theory.)  So when I first contacted Ms. Nielsen to arrange the interview I was a ball of jittery nerves.  What if she thinks my questions are dumb?  What if she changes her mind about the interview?  WHAT IF I SPELL SOMETHING WRONG?!??  

Luckily for my nerves, Jennifer was gracious and friendly, responding quickly and kindly and giving the best answers to my questions.  I was so happy to learn that she also loves dark chocolate and Jane Austen, and, seriously you guys, the projects she is currently working on sound rad.  I've already added Mark of the Thief and A Night Divided to my Goodreads to-read list, and you should too.  

But enough of my blabbering.  On to the interview.  Take it away, Jennifer!

1. What are you working on?

Hee-hee. Right now, this is one of those questions where it feels like I should answer what aren’t I working on? In February, I will release a new series, MARK OF THE THIEF, which takes place in Ancient Rome with an escaped slave, some stolen magic, and a battle to control the fall of an empire. I’m so excited for this release but there’s also a ton of promotional stuff to be done to get ready.

I’m also writing the second book in that series, and am on chapter um...well, let’s just say I really need to pick up the pace!

I’m also in the middle of edits for another historical book I’ll release in fall 2015 called A NIGHT DIVIDED, which tells the story of a girl in Cold War East Germany who wants to escape the Berlin Wall to reunite her family. I love this book!

And then I’m beginning research for the book to follow that one. Can’t say much about it yet, but I can’t wait to start talking about it!

Sheesh, no wonder I’m tired.

2. Describe your ideal writing situation in three words.

Time…Quiet…Fine Dark Chocolate.

Darn, that’s five words. I’ve got to cut two:

Fine Dark Chocolate.

3. Put these in order from most to least favorite: outlining, writing, revising.

Revising --> Writing --> Outlining

For me, outlining is the hardest part of writing. I’m not always good at envisioning how the story will come together and my outline changes so often during the actual writing that I sometimes wonder if I’m writing the same story that I just outlined. That said, the better my outline, the easier my writing, so it’s definitely an important part of the overall process.

And my favorite is the revision process, which is when the words become art. My first draft gets written pretty quickly, but I spend a lot of time rewriting, and rewriting. And rewriting.

4. What's your favorite thing about living in Utah?

As a writer, I find Utah to be an inspirational place to find story. A lot of the settings of my books are inspired by places in the state that I love, even if it doesn't appear that way as you’re reading.But beyond that, I think Utah is a wonderful place to raise a family.

5. What fictional world would you like to live in?

I could totally lose myself in Jane Austen’s world. Whenever I re-read her books, I find myself wishing I could walk inside the pages. That’s not a feeling I often experience as a reader, but I always do with her stories.

By the way, if Colin Firth could walk into the pages at the same time, that’d be bonus!

6. If you weren't writing books, what would you do for a living?

I’m a mom and always put that first, but if I weren’t writing, I would open a theater in my community to put on shows and teach lessons there. I love the theater and every time I see a show, I am shocked by how much I miss being on stage. But writing seems to fill that same love, so I’m incredibly lucky to have a job that fits me so perfectly.

7. What is one of your writing goals?

I think of writing goals as compared to climbing a mountain. While you’re writing your first manuscript, you look up to the summit. Reaching it means you’ve completed your story and that’s fantastic when you get there, but it also means that now you can see another summit, even higher, which is publishing it. And once you get there, you realize that there are other goals still to be obtained. We are all climbing, all of us, and it doesn’t matter where we are on the summit, as much as that we’re all gaining altitude.

Even before I was published, I had three goals: One was to make the NYT Bestseller list. The second was to have a movie studio adapt my work and turn it into a movie. And the third was to see someone in public with whom I had no connection, reading my book.

The first is checked off the list. The second is…well, we’ll see at the end of February 2015 when Paramount makes their decision on THE FALSE PRINCE. But the third has yet to happen. Friends of mine have seen other people in public reading my book, but I have not.

There are other goals I’ve added since then, but that last elusive pre-publication goal is still nagging at me.

8. What objects are currently sitting on your writing desk?

To my left are some of the writing awards my books have won and a small piece of the Berlin Wall, a recent birthday gift from the hubby. Straight ahead is a jar that used to hold pens, until my kids discovered that’s where all the best pens in the house were kept and looted it. To the right is a stack of foreign FALSE PRINCE books that I sometimes bring along when I’m talking to kids. They don’t belong there, but I haven’t put them away yet (and probably never will, if I’m being honest). Beneath my computer is an assortment of papers for research. Inside the desk is a bag of Starburst. I can’t imagine how my kids have not yet discovered it, but it’s only a matter of time. I’d better enjoy them while there’s some left!

9. Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Well um, I have been assaulted by fans, but only twice. Or three times, depending on how we’re defining assault.;-) But I heard a great description the other day that I think all writers will identify with: Writing is like being on call to your brain 24/7. This is definitely an occupational hazard – never fully getting away from story. Most writers I know will describe their tales of waking up in the middle of the night with just the right ending, or from a dream that they can’t shake from their imagination, or of pulling over on the side of the road to write down the dialogue that popped in their head. When the story calls, life gets set aside, and that’s just part of the process.

10. What is your most and least favorite part of the writing/publishing process?

My least favorite part of the process is the waiting. So much of publishing involves waiting: for the agent or editor to respond to a query, for the acquisition meeting, for editorial notes, for the book’s release…everything. I’m more used to it now, though I’ve also decided that I’m not the most patient person. And who wants patience as a virtue anyway, right? You know how the saying goes: Good things come to those who….well, whatever. I’m still not a patient person.

My favorite part is when the story’s key moment comes together in the perfect way. Sometimes writing is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You fit pieces together with only a vague idea of how the finished picture will be and become excited as that picture starts to emerge. But there’s always one part of the puzzle where nothing seems to fit and every piece you try is the wrong one. And then there’s a moment where you pick up a piece and you know it’s going to fit and that it’s the key to the rest of the puzzle making sense. For me, finding that piece is the same feeling as when I know I’ve just figured out the scene that will bring the entire story together.

11. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

When I talked earlier about summits and writing goals, I think this made all the difference for my career. When I told people I wanted to become a NYT Bestselling author, they sometimes laughed and suggested I try to become any published author first. Fair enough, but knowing where I wanted to go laid out a path for the summit I wanted to climb and kept me focused on it.

In publishing today, there are so many options for a writer, and an infinite number of ways to define success, which is a great thing, but it’s also easy to get distracted and accept less than what you really want. So wherever you are in the publishing process, I’d encourage an aspiring writer to step back and decide where you want to go. Because each decision places you on a different path in terms of where you’ll eventually end up. And the better your focus, the greater your chances of success!

I also believe in dreaming big. You’ll never achieve higher than your biggest dream, so go for the craziest, boldest, awesomest dream you can imagine, and then figure out how to make it happen.

Thank you so much, Jennifer!  Isn't she awesome?  
Now go read her stuff.  :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 4.75 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?"

Review:  Oh Ms. Rowell, if I wasn't sure before, now I'm absolutely convinced that I'm in love with you.

This book tells the story of a married couple who love each other, and yet who are deeply unhappy.  Love isn't Georgie and Neal's problem, and it never was.  Rather, the problems are a lack of focus and attention and communication and affection and appreciation.  So, basically, Georgie and Neal could be any of us.  Through Georgie and Neal, this book asks the question: What do we do when we have love but not happiness?

Everyone knows that marriages take work.  And a lot of people know how quickly a relationship can deteriorate, and yet often people are surprised when it happens to them.  This book, told from Georgie's point of view, starts at the moment when Georgie realizes just how bad things are between her and Neal, and follows her desperate desire to heal their marriage, all without knowing whether or not it's too late.

The whole magic phone bit could have gone catastrophically wrong, but, as always, Rowell pulled it off.  Although possessing a phone that can call the past is a very supernatural element, this book still felt very much like realistic, contemporary fiction.  Don't let the magic phone scare you.  Trust me, you'll believe it too. 

I always adore Rowell's characters, and this book was no exception.  Georgie isn't perfect, but she is relatable, and I empathized with her frustrations, her worries, and her struggle to reconcile her career with her family.  I loved reading about a married couple who isn't dealing with Huge Problems (addiction, cheating, abuse, etc.) but who still have really huge problems.  Plain old neglect can be just as destructive as anything else.  Georgie and Neal have both made a lot of little mistakes, and, at the culmination of all those little mistakes, are now in a mess of a relationship.  Through watching them struggle to get back up I was reminded of why we struggle.  Because family is important.  It matters.  Few things are more important than how we treat our spouse.  It's worth it to keep trying.

If I could change one thing about my reading experience, I would change when I read it.  I read it in August, and wish I had read it in December.  The whole book takes place the week before Christmas, and I would have loved to have a little bit of the holiday spirit I felt in the books mirror reality.  But, hey, the book was still good in August.

On the whole, this book was tremendously good.  I found myself shaking my head in awe of Rowell's writing prowess on multiple occasions.  Just to try and convince you (in case you need convincing) I've included a few of my favorite quotes from the book for you to admire:

"And she knew he was unhappy.
That was just a fact.
That wasn't Georgie being melodramatic or paranoid or delusional.  That was Georgie being honest.
Neal wasn't happy.  Neal hadn't been happy in a long time.
He didn't complain about it.  He didn't say, "I'm unhappy." ...He just wore it, breathed it.  Held it between them.  Rolled away from it in his sleep."
-Landline pg. 86

"You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there.  You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin.  How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten - in fifteen.  When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems."
-Landline pg. 201

"Georgie was pretty sure that having kids was the worst thing you could do to a marriage.  Sure, you could survive it.  You could survive a giant boulder falling on your head - that didn't mean it was good for you.
Kids took a fathomless amount of time and energy... And they took it first.  They had right of first refusal on everything you had to offer.
At the end of the day - after work, after trying to spend some sort of meaningful time with Alice and Noomie - Georgie was usually too tired to make things right with Neal before they fell asleep.  So things stayed wrong.  And the girls just kept giving them something else to talk about, something else to focus on...
Something else to love.
When Georgie and Neal were smiling at each other, it was almost always over Alice and Noomie's heads.
And Georgie wasn't sure she'd risk changing that... even if she could.
Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastation."
-Landline pg. 220-221

"Georgie couldn't change the past - she could only talk at it.  If Georgie had a proper time machine, maybe she could actually fix her marriage.  She could go back to the moment that everything started to go bad, and change course.  
Things didn't go bad between Georgie and Neal.  Things were always bad - and always good.  Their marriage was like a set of scales constantly balancing itself.  And then, at some point, when neither of them was paying attention, they'd tipped so far over into bad, they'd settled there.  Now only an enormous amount of good would shift them back."
-Landline pg. 219-220

 Are you convinced yet?  Read it.

Bottom Line:  Highly recommended to anyone who has been in a serious relationship for more than 5 years, particularly if children are involved.  (Those not in a relationship and/or without kids will still enjoy this book immensely, because this is an immensely enjoyable book.  I'm just saying that it is more applicable to those who fall into the "married with kids" category, and they will more easily be able to apply its lessons.  But, honestly, I'd still happily throw this book at anyone.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book-to-Film: Bollywood takes on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This is possibly the greatest news I've heard all week.

I must own this as soon as possible.  

From The Times of India:

The Hollywood hit The Fault In Our Stars, based on John Green's bestseller by the same name, is all set for a Hindi remake. Says Vijay Singh (CEO, Fox Star Studios), which is producing the movie, "The story resonates with the emotions of today's youth and has found universal appeal. We are excited to adapt the film for Bollywood and can't wait to get started." The cast of the film is yet to be decided. The plot revolves around a 16-year-old cancer patient, who falls in love with an ex-basketball player, who is also a cancer survivor.

Stand aside, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.  Bollywood is TAKING OVER.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's prompt is:

Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read

So, being a reader has one pretty big and pretty awesome occupational hazard: I get a TON of book recommendations.  And I love it.  I love it when people recommend books to me!  I love the feeling of knowing that a friend thought of a book and thought of me, and decided to set us up.  I love knowing someone else has already run through the book once and thought it was good enough to recommend.  I love knowing that there will be someone on the other side with whom to discuss the book when I finish.  I love knowing there are people I can go to when I don't know what to read next, and they'll have a dozen prospective books at the ready.  Receiving book recommendations really is awesome.  

In the circle of recommended books I get, a few books tend to pop up more often than others.  Here is my list of the top ten books that get recommended to me the most:

10. Scarlet and Cress (books 2 & 3 in The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
I read Cinder and loved it, but decided to wait until the rest of the books were released before I continued the series.  I've been happy to see that others have enjoyed the series and say that it gets better and better as it goes.  I'm definitely looking forward to reading more, I just want to wait a little longer before jumping in!

9. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Emma Watson's recommendation is enough for me.

8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Eleanor & Park just doesn't hold the draw for me that her other books do.  Everyone keeps saying I should give it a chance anyway.  (I mean, it is Rainbow Rowell after all.)  They're probably right, but I'm just not sure I want to read it.

7. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
For some reason, an unusual portion of the world thinks of me when they read this book.

6. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
The Internet has been screaming at me to read this book for the last several weeks.  I think I will oblige, thank you very much.

5. The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
When I was young I thought this series was just a Harry Potter knock off.  Clearly, though, it has become its own niche.  Plus, many HP fans are also PJ fans.  Always a good sign.

4. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
You know who you are.  Yes, I will read it.  Someday.

3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
It's just so HEAVY.  But I'll read it eventually!

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I love how many people LOVE this book.  I'm curious about it, but I found out a few spoilers and now I'm not sure if I should read it or not.

As an introvert, I'm told I will love this book, and be thrilled that someone is finally speaking my language.  It intrigues me, but nonfiction just isn't as exciting to me as dragons.  Sorry.  I'll probably read it on an airplane one day or something.

What books frequently get recommended to you?  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekly Words: Molly @ Wrapped Up In Books

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feature Friday: Me!

As you may or may not know, August is Utah Book Month!  I'm participating in Utah Book Month in a few different ways this year, and one of them is by writing a guest post for Utah Books!  I am so excited  to be featured on their blog, and have loved reading all the other posts highlighting Utah-based blogs and books and authors.  If you're from Utah, or have visited Utah, or, heck, even if you just like to ski, you should go check our their blog!  Plus, Suey and Jessica, who run the blog and organized the posts and features celebrating Utah Book Month, have been some of the most delightful people to work with.  I'm so glad they run that website, it has made the whole process of finding other local book bloggers and authors a dream.  Utah is home to a lot of bookish talent, and I bet you'll learn something you didn't know by clicking around their website.  

Start with my post.  

/shameless plug.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 4.75 stars
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for."

Review: I loved this whole series so hard, I'm having trouble forming coherent sentences.  

Ravka is such an interesting and captivating world.  The Russian influences make Ravka familiar, while the mystical powers make it foreign.  Together, they make Ravka a dangerous and captivating land in which I had so much bloody fun I can hardly stand it.

It's a tribute to Bardugo's characterization that I was rooting for every single person in this book, both the good guys and the bad guys.  Alina was strong and nuanced; Sturmhond was funny and cunning; the Darkling was greedy and ruthless and somehow likable; Genya, Baghra, David... the list goes on.  I loved them all for different reasons, and knowing they wouldn't all get out of this story alive filled me with dread.  (The good kind of dread, when you know the reason for it is because you're reading a really, really good book.)

The only person I didn't LOVE with all caps was Mal.  He felt a little too Peeta Melark-ish to me, and I don't dig the self-sacrificing lamb thing.  However, I liked him more in this book than I did in either of the previous two books, and I really liked how he became just as strong of a fighter as the Grisha, even though he didn't have their cool powers.  Props, fellow regular human.

And,  OH MY GOSH, CAN WE PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE STURMHOND CHARACTER ARC??!?!?  Every time Sturmhond was on the page was my favorite moment of the story.  He is by far one of my all time favorite characters I've read this year - maybe ever - and what happened to him ripped my feels into a bajillion pieces.  Sturmhond should be the next Prime Minister, people.  Seriously.  

Some of what I thought was going to happen in this story really did happen, but much of it was a complete surprise.  I love being surprised.  This story was a wild and exciting adventure, but it was also about greed, desire, ambition, love, identity, and belonging.  In addition to all that, I think that at its heart this book was about choice. Alina and the Darkling really could have been "soulmates," but their choices made that impossible.  And, as Alina and the Darkling's story can attest, aren't we all defined by our choices?

I knocked off a quarter of a star because I wished that the Apparat and company had come into stronger play towards the end, and I also spent a good chunk of the novel trying to remember what the different terms meant.  (Squallers do what exactly again?)  I wish I had read the Wikipedia entries of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm before jumping into this one, because there wasn't much in terms of a refresher.  I also wish a little more attention had been given to certain characters' apparent immortality.  I'm not sure I or they understood the ramifications of that.  But these quips are minor, and only slightly detracted from my otherwise really positive reading experience.

In conclusion, I give a major tip of the hat to Leigh Bardugo for this book, and will probably be sending her a very large box of chocolate chip cookies in the near future, as thanks for writing this fulfilling, gripping, spectacular series.    

Bottom Line: So, so good!  A fabulous ending to a fabulous series.  Fantasy fans, you have GOT to read this one.