Waiting on Wednesday: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

scarlet

From Goodreads:
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Is there a rule about only showcasing new and upcoming releases for Waiting on Wednesday? Because I’m breaking it.

I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer last year, and the author’s creativity blew me away. Scarlet has been on my wishlist ever since, but I never got around to gifting myself with the book. I like to pretend that it’s because I have excellent self-control, but really I’m just broke. I need to re-re-re-setup my Nook so I can download library books again. I digress! Now that the third installment of the Lunar Chronicles is hitting shelves early 2014, my desire to read Scarlet has turned into a need. I’m so neurotic about this book that every time I cross a review for Cress, the third book, I immediately close the window. I won’t even let myself finish reading the description because I don’t want to spoil anything in book two.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Published: February 2013
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

When did book series become so complicated?

Figuring out book series these days is difficult. It’s not like the good ol’ days of Harry Potter where there were seven books in the series and you could tell easily in what order to read them because of the nice numbers on the spine of the book.

Harry Potter

These days there are supplemental novellas popping up all over the place, like Julie Kagawa’s Iron’s Prophecy or Winter’s Passage or Summer’s Crossing. I actually purchased two of these back before I was familiar with Julie Kagawa, so I didn’t realize they weren’t stand alone stories. These new novellas have really throw me for a loop the past year and a half. I have about a half a dozen of these supplemental novellas on my Nook. For books I don’t even own. I don’t know how I keep missing that key bit of information.

I don’t know if these novellas are entirely relevant to the story line, but I do understand that they may flesh out the story since they provide different points a view and perceptions. I haven’t actually ready one of these novellas though. I guess I’d rather spend my time and money on full length novels, though sometimes I feel like I’m missing out even if it is only 70 pages.

Cassandra Clare the Mortal Instruments the Infernal Devices

And there is series within series—like Cassandra Clare’s books. Mortal Instruments came first. Then she wrote the Infernal Devices to delve deeper into the history of the world and characters she created or something. I read sometime last year that she is (potentially) writing a third series revolving around the Downworld and the Shadowhunters. I’m not really one of her die-hard fans, so I don’t know if that was just hearsay or if the information was legit. Anyway, I honestly started freaking out half way through the Clockwork Angel because I thought I was reading Clare’s series out of order and thus missing out on a lot of really cool things. I thought I was supposed to read the Mortal Instruments first. After talking to one of my co-workers who thinks Clare is the bee’s knees, I learned that’s not necessarily the case. I mean, her series are all related, but you don’t have to read her original series in order to understand what’s going on in the spin off.

Fast forward a bit to now. A week or so ago, I received a lovely box of books I won from a giveaway hosted by Bitching, Books, and Baking. It was filled with all sorts of enticing books, but the one I decided to read first was a book from the Vampire Diaries series. Only, I didn’t realize that the Vampire Diaries was one of those series that had series within the series (possibly within a series). I guess it’s more like…the Vampire Diaries Franchise. And unlike Cassandra Clare’s books, it appears you actually have to have read the original series to understand what’s going on in this new one. This is what I picked up to read first:

the Vampires Diaries: the Hunters

It says “Vol. 1″ right on the cover, so the error I made is understandable. I don’t know why they don’t call it “Book 8″. Nonetheless, I feel pretty foolish. I know the Vampire Diaries is a pretty popular series, so you’d think I’d know which book to start with. It would appear though that my research abilities have become null ever since I graduated college. Anyway, I read 46 pages into my book and decided to put it down. The first few chapters are recapping what happened in previous books…and holy crap, I feel like I’m missing out! I mean…why didn’t anyone tell me sooner that exciting things actually happened in this book? Maybe they did but I stuck my nose up at them because the book is about vampires, and my track record with the mythological beasts is not a positive one (which in turn begs the question, why do I keep picking up books about vampires?). You may be pleased to know that I’ll be borrowing the Vampire Diaries: the Awakening from the library this weekend.

This all makes me very curious about what other readers think of these series based on previous series. Or, maybe it’s more accurate if I consider them multiple series that take place within the same world. Do you like them because it allows you to revel in one of your favorite worlds? I mean, I guess I’d feel that way if there was more about Hogwarts from J.K. Rowling. I’m sure even if the proceeding works were mediocre (as if that were possible) I’d still gobble them up (because Hogwarts is my home!) Or, are you tired of them popping up all over the place now? Do you think authors are clinging on to something that made them popular? Or do you think that’s the only story they have to tell? Or maybe you’re more benign about it—do you think maybe authors just like the world they’ve created and want nothing more than to just escape into writing about all of the lives that inhabit it? (Note: The Vampire Diaries might be a little different considering the later books were written by a ghostwriter instead of L.J. Smith.)

Bite Sized Book Reports

I read these two books back in 2012, but I never got around to writing a review for them. Now, so much time has passed that anything I could come up with wouldn’t do the books justice. I did want to highlight these books though because I think they are still worth sharing.

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Released: January 2012
Publisher: Feiwell and Friends
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 390
Won from a giveaway hosted by Fiktshun.
Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Most of the books I purchase end up donated to the library after I’ve read them. But, I do have a selection of books that I’ve held on to for my hypothetical, future children. Cinder by Marissa Meyer is now a part of that selection. It is such an imaginative fairy tale re-telling. I mean, Cinderella is a cyborg. What’s not to like? Plus, the world and characters Meyer creates are rich and vivid. Cinder is the type of book that makes me truly excited to read, which seems more and more like a feat these days. If you’ve not already read the book, go out and buy it now, and read it as soon as you get home. Better yet, see if your mom/dad/sibling/significant other/neighbor/pastor will give you a ride to the store so you can start reading it during the ride home.

The next book in the series, is Scarlet, and the book introduces us to another fairytale inspired character. With a name like Scarlet, I bet you can guess who it is. Needless to say, I’m very excited for the new release, and I want it to be in my possession. Like now, please.

The MockingbirdsThe Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Released: November 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 332
Purchased for my Nook
Goodreads

My Thoughts
I think I didn’t write a review for The Mockingbirds because I couldn’t find the right words for it. The Mockingbirds deals with rape and sexual assault, and it made me feel discomfort in a way that Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen did not. Not that the book was distasteful– it just seemed all so real the way protagonist Alex Patrick re-lived that night and the way she avoided confronting people following the attack. And what makes matters worse, her attacker’s “boys will be boys” attitude just makes me taste bile.

I only have two concerns with the Mockingbirds. First is Whitney’s execution. I felt like some aspects were redundant. The author seemed to explain how the Mockingbirds worked and the purpose of the vigilante group frequently, like it was a concern that the reader would forget from two chapter prior. I’m also a little weary of the resolution. SPOILER ALERT! I appreciate the idea behind the Mockingbirds, especially since the school’s faculty seems to turn the other cheek to the horrific incidents described in the book. But, I felt like the punishment delivered was the equivalent to a slap on the wrist. Yet Alex was okay with it. It made me angry because I didn’t feel like any justice had been served.

I know the story of the Mockingbirds continues, but I don’t know if I will read on or not. I’m not sure how it could possibly measure up to book one. Then again, maybe Alex will realize she didn’t get the justice she deserved, and maybe she’ll seek out a better resolution. Like with actual legal implications.

Books I Missed in 2012

2012 was not a year of many reads for me. Frankly, I was a slacker, and I used my preoccupation with my Intermediate Accounting class as a scapegoat. [Digression]I earned a 100% on my accounting final. Oh yeah![/Digression]. There are loads of books on my TBR list that I never got around to reading.

Life Eternal, The Marked, Dearly Beloved

Of all the books that hit shelves in 2012, Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon, The Marked by Inara Scott, and Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel were the three books I’m most disappointed I didn’t pick up. These were the books I anticipated most this year because their predecessors made it onto my list of favorites from 2011. But, before I knew it 2013 was a few days away, and I never got around to snagging myself copies!

 

This is Not a Test, The Other LifeI’m a sucker for Zombies, and This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers seemed like a fresh approach to the somewhat saturated zombie market. Perhaps I’d be a sucker for Weepers too. I wouldn’t know because I never got around to reading The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker either. Oh woe!

 

Scarlet, Kill Me SoftlyFairytale and folklore re-tellings are abundant, and I’ve not been disappointed by any of the adaptations I’ve picked up so far. I’m happy to say that I read and LOVED Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but I’m disappointed that I missed out on Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen and Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross.

 

article 5I’ll admit it. My interest in this book was superficial at first. The cover reminded me of one of my favorite video games– Fallout 3. I wasn’t even disappointed when I found out this book had nothing to do with nuclear fallout, but rather it dealt with the abolishment of the Bill of Rights. Say it isn’t so! I lick my chops hungrily when I see this book. The sadness I feel for not having read Article 5 by Kristen Simmons is similar to the sadness I felt when I couldn’t eat chicken noodle soup for the two years I was a vegetarian in high school. (Note: Chicken noodle soup is pretty much my favorite food group.)

There you have it, folks. Of the myriad of books that were released in 2012, these eight were the ones I regret not reading with the rest of you. Which books do you feel you missed out on in 2012?

Book Report: Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Timeless by Alexandra Monir


Timeless
by Alexandra Monir
Released: January 2011
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-Fi? Supernatural?
Pages: 304
Source: Won from Kathy @ I Am a Reader Not a Writer

From Goodreads
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

My Thoughts
Book hype can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it certainly draws attention to a book, and it can help drive sales. On the other hand, the more the book is built up, the farther it has to fall. Such was the case with Timeless by Alexandra Monir. I had high hopes for Timeless. Every review I read about the book seemed to rave about it. But, after I finished the book I was left scratching my head and wondering why. Now wait just a tick! This is already starting to sound like a negative review. I promise you, it’s not really. It’s just one of those books that made me wonder why there was all the hype.

As an individual who loves character development and character driven plot, Timeless left me feeling disappointed. All of the characters in this book read a little generic to me. Michele was alright as a protagonist because she wasn’t annoying, whiny, weak, or any other negative personality trait that really grates my nerves. But, she didn’t really stand out to me either. She wasn’t the kind of character I could relate to or empathize with. Unfortunately, I felt that way about most of the other characters in this book except for Lily, one of the Windsor ancestors Michele meets during a time travel episode. Even though Lily is essentially a caricature of a 1920s flapper girl, I couldn’t help fall in love with her boldness and her sass.

Then there is the issue of the romance. Michele has been having dreams of a handsome boy with astonishing blue eyes all her life. During one of her time travel episodes, she comes across him. This boy! He’s real! His name is Phillip Warren! And then they start a cross-time love affair. I mean that kind of literally since Michele’s presence causes Phillip to break off his engagement with another one of Michele’s ancestors. And then ever since, the Windsors have hated the Warrens. Way to go Michele. You’ve started at century long family feud. Anyway, I digress. I get the feeling that Michele falls in love with the idea of Phillip and not Phillip himself. I understand she’s been having dreams of him forever, but that’s all they really are– dreams. Throughout Michele’s time travel episodes, she probably has only spent literally 2 or 3 days total with Phillip. And yet, she professes her love to him! And he breaks off an engagement! I mean, if ever there were a case of insta-love, it’s present in Timeless. And, the whole time I’m wondering, if 100-year-old Phillip Warren were still alive in Michele’s time, with his wrinkles, grey hair, and liver spots, would she still love him? I mean, that’s the kind of thing you have to take in consideration when time travel is involved!

When Phillip and Michele weren’t professing their love to each other, they were writing and composing songs together. As a music lover, I should have appreciated this, but it just came across as really cheesy. Especially when the song lyrics were included in the book. Song lyrics out of context make me cringe. On the plus side, Alexandra Monir actually had these songs produced, and you can listen to them on her website. In this context, the songs are wonderful! Especially Bring the Colors Back. Monir’s vocals and the jazz band sound really capture the 1920s atmosphere. Unfortunately, this isn’t a review on Monir’s singing abilities.

The final aspect of the book that struck me as problematic was the time travel. Time travel is pretty neat, but I imagine it’s difficult to write about. There seemed to be a lot of inconsistencies in the time travel in Timeless. Michele has no control over her time travel episodes. All we know is that it involves a special key necklace and maybe an old Windsor relic (most of the time). Except for that one time when Michele suddenly hopped back in time when she was watching a Broadway show. Uh wut? But, then Monir tries to go scientific on her readers. One of Michele’s new, smart friends brings up Einstein’s theories of time travel as a way to justify her belief that Michele is actually traveling through time. But, it just doesn’t work for me as a reader. Because there is no scientific basis for Michele’s experience. A key necklace does not even have the physical properties to bend space-time, so don’t try to convince me that it does. Also, there are inconsistencies in the way Michele meddles with the past. At first, she has no problem stealing the heart of her great-great-great aunt’s fiance. But, she’s too afraid to tell her aunt from the 1940s that America wins WWII. She thinks if she spills the beans America will lose the war. Really? Telling one insignificant person that there is hope will ruin the world? But, boyfriend fiance-stealing is okay.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering why I stuck around for 304 pages. I thought the characters were alright, I hated the romance, and I pointed out all the inconsistencies in Monir’s time travel. But honestly, at the end of it all, I simply loved Monir’s writing. The descriptions were beautiful, and I could see the events unfold in my head. Even more, Monir’s accounts of America in the past were stunning. The atmosphere she created and the descriptions of new Ford Model Ts along side horse and carriages just struck a chord in me. It’s so evident that Monir put a lot of time and research into the eras she wrote about, and I whole-heartedly appreciate that as a reader. Also, Monir wrote about the Gilded Age. The only time I’ve read about the Gilded Age was in 10th grade, and I read about it in a school textbook. I found Monir’s inclusion of this time period to be absolutely fascinating!

 Overall,
Due to all of the inconsistencies, this book was mostly a miss for me. But, because of Monir’s beautiful writing and in-depth research I stuck around for the entire book. There were aspects of this book that were lackluster, but then there were aspects of this book that made the book hard to put down. I’m truly conflicted!

Cover Story:
This is quite possible one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen. You can’t really tell from the picture on my blog, but the image continues onto the back, and it’s like it tells a story. Lovely! Truly lovely!

Read if you like books about time travel, but you aren’t a stickler about time travel theory and paradoxes. Read especially if you’re interested in the Gilded Age. If generic characters and insta-love aren’t you’re thing, you might want to approach this book with caution. Then again, maybe not because almost every review I’ve read for this book is a positive review despite that.

Book Report: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King (The Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima
Released:November 2009
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 506
Source: Won from Heather @ Proud Book Nerd

From Goodreads
When 16-year-old Han Alister and his Clan friend Dancer encounter three underage wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea, he has no idea that this event will precipitate a cascade of disasters that will threaten everything he cares about. Han’s life is complicated enough. He’s the former streetlord of the Raggers—a street gang in the city of Fellsmarch. His street name, Cuffs, comes from the mysterious silver bracelets he’s worn all his life—cuffs that are impossible to take off. Now Han’s working odd jobs, helping to support his family, and doing his best to leave his old life behind. Events conspire against him, however. When members of a rival gang start dying, Han naturally gets the blame.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna has her own battles to fight. As heir to the Gray Wolf throne of the Fells, she’s just spent three years of relative freedom with her father’s family at Demonai Camp—riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Now court life in Fellsmarch pinches like a pair of too-small shoes.

Wars are raging to the south, and threaten to spread into the high country. After a long period of quiet, the power of the Wizard Council is once again growing. The people of the Fells are starving and close to rebellion. Now more than ever, there’s a need for a strong queen. But Raisa’s mother Queen Marianna is weak and distracted by the handsome Gavan Bayar, High Wizard of the Fells. Raisa feels like a cage is closing around her—and an arranged marriage and eroded inheritance is the least of it.

My Thoughts
I love fantasy movies, but fantasy novels? Not so much. I like books that are character-driven, and it would seem that the majority of fantasy novels I’ve read are the antithesis of that. I can appreciate exquisite world building just as much as the next person, but that won’t keep my attention for long unless I fall in love with the characters. But, I’m happy to say The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima kept me enthralled from start to finish.

I loved the characters in this book. Even though they were a tad archetypal, their attitudes, their motives, their personalities were refreshing. First there is Han “Cuffs” Allister. If ever there was a male protagonist to make me swoon, Han is that character. And apparently he makes several of the ladies in the Seven Realms swoon too. He’s handsome. He’s cunning. He’s mysterious (just what are those cuffs he’s worn since he was a babe, and why won’t anyone let him take them off?). He’s also reformed! He used to spend his days as one of the most feared street lords (see: thief). But, it caused his mother and sister too much grief, so he put his life of crime behind him (d’awww). But, just try convincing rival street gangs and local law enforcement. Even though he’s been “clean”, he’s always finding himself in trouble. Or is trouble always finding him?

Then there is Princess Raisa. I thought she was going to be another stuck up princess in a poofy gown, but this girl has an admirable strength within her that we only begin to see in book one. She’s the kind of female protagonist who gets to get her hands dirty AND she gets to wear the most luxurious gowns. She doesn’t have so sacrifice femininity for strength, and I love that about Raisa. Her mind is more preoccupied about living life among her kin in Marisa Pines (a place of common folk, naturalists, and Demonai warriors) than living in her royal court. She’s more interested in military affairs than debutante balls. And she’s more interested in playing the field than settling down with one suitor (because, you know, she just turned 16, which is the age that most ladies get married off); this especially is refreshing.

Chima also creates some deliciously evil characters. They’re the types of people who use their status and power to strike fear into the hearts of others. They also harbor a mysterious, magical power that was thought to have been banned centuries ago, and they’re now using it to their advantage. But, their true motive has yet to be revealed, and I’m dying to know. And on top of that, Chima kind of blurs the lines between evil and misguided. One moment you’re thinking “burn him at the stake!”, and the next minute you’re thinking, “Awww, now my heart is crying for him”. You’re toying with my emotions Cinda Williams Chima! And it feels so right.

I could prattle on about how great Chima’s world building skills are, but that would take forever. So, I’m thinking you’re going to have to take my word on it. The world building in The Demon King was exquisite. From the vivid descriptions of the locations in the Seven Realms to the hierarchies and the every-day-life of the societies in the Seven Realms, Chima wins at world building. Oh, that’s not to forget the conflicts between the realms or the conflicts between the different social groups. Or the religion or the way magic works. With any book that includes world building, some slow spots in pacing can be expected, but I wasn’t as bothered by it as I thought I would. I love the characters and the action that are in the book, but I also loved reading about the different realms and the folktale that lends its name to the title of the book. Chima’s work was truly wonderful.

Overall,
I loved this book. I loved this book! And, I am very lucky that I have the next few books in the series, so I can dive right into them whenever I want. After the ending (with all it’s plot twists and drama), I’m dying to know what happens next!

Cover Story:
Oh my gosh! Look at it in all its beautiful glory. Look at the colors and that mysterious serpent pendant. Look At It!!!

Read if you’ve ever picked up the Lord of the Rings and then put it down and walked away from it half way through the series because you couldn’t take it anymore. The Demon King is written in a way that’s easier to digest for those who are not normally nuts about high fantasy. Chima figured out the perfect balance between character development, plot, and world building, and it opened me up to try out other books in the (high) fantasy genre. Additionally, read if you’re nuts about Bethesda’s Elder Scroll series. (I’m actually mostly kidding about that last one, but I really couldn’t help but notice some similarities between the book and the Elder Scroll games.)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d love to see made into a movie

What are the top ten books you’d like to see made into a movie?

1. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel – If this turned into a movie, it would be total eye candy. The beautiful Victorian clothing. The high-tech, steampunk inspired gadgets of the year 2195. The special effect makeup of the zombies. And with an amazing storyline to boot, why hasn’t this hit theaters yet?

2. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry – I’d love if Rot & Ruin were turned into a movie. I think it would be a nice contrast to the zombie flicks that are already on the market. The movies have the initial outbreak covered. We see the hysteria, the head shots, and the gore time and time again. But, to see a movie that shows what life is like after a society has been ravaged by monsters would be interesting! Plus, I’d love to see my two favorite characters, Lost Girl and Nix, brought to life on the big screen. Oh, and that villainous Motor City Hammer too.

3. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – I’m actually kind of baffled this hasn’t been made into a movie yet. I mean, it’s an action packed, sci-fi/fantasy adventure. I read somewhere Colfer described his books as Die Hard with Fairies, which could totally be true if Bruce Willis’s character was a criminal mastermind instead of a police officer.

4. The Candidates The Talents (Delcroix Academy series) by Inara Scott – So, maybe Dancia isn’t a superhero yet, but I kind of get the feeling she’ll be using her powers more in the books that follow. Superhero movies have been popular lately, but how many of them have a female main character?

5. Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage – This was one of my favorite reads of 2011, so of course I’ve gotta add it to this list. I loved the world Annastaysia Savage created; it was both beautiful and full of creatures with unique personalities.

6. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor – The story itself is a unique twist on Alice in Wonderland. But, it’s the visuals that made me decide to put this book on the list. In the middle of my book there are illustrations of some of the characters in the book, and they are so beautiful. If the movie’s art inspiration were anything like the illustrations I saw, the movie would be stunning.

7. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson – I’ll be honest, this isn’t one of my favorite books, but I’d still love to see this as a movie. I mean, she treks across Europe for goodness sake! Whoever would land the role of playing Ginny would be one lucky gal.

8. Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger – Throughout high school, this was one of my all-time favorite books. The characters and the struggles they endured were real enough in the story, but I’d still love to see this in movie form.

9. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly – This is one part coming-of-age story and one part murder mystery. Unlike most books that made it on my list, this book won’t have special effects. But, it doesn’t need them because it’s just a good story all around.

10. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall – Do you remember those nostalgic feelings you got when you watched The Sandlot even if you didn’t grow up in the 1960s? I kind of get the feeling The Penderwicks would evoke those feelings of nostalgia too. Except without baseball. Between the unique characters and the summertime, cottage setting, The Penderwicks would be a sweet and feel-good, family film.

What do you think? What books would you love to see turn into movies?

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Book Report: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Released: March 2010
Publisher: HarperCollings
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 470
Source: Christmas Present

From Goodreads
What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death–and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

My Thoughts
Maybe it’s too early in the year to tell, but Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver just might be my favorite read of 2012. Yeah, yeah, I realize it’s only four months into the year. But, Before I Fall is that good of a book!

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver made me feel an array of emotions. Isn’t it amazing when books can do that? At first I was angry and annoyed with the main character, Sam Kingston. She seemed so much like the selfish and entitled brats that annoyed me when I was in high school. But, despite that I wouldn’t wish Sam Kingston’s fate on anyone– to live her last day on earth over and over again. As each day passed, Sam Kingston learns about herself, about her friends, and about the people she alienates. And, as each day passed, I found myself becoming more and more sympathetic to this girl I initially deemed shallow and mean. As each day passed, part of me started feeling angry and frustrated and sad about all of the obstacles Sam had to face– friends, family, the kids she alienated, love and heart-break, all of it! I just wanted Sam to find peace and happiness.

The tone of Before I Fall is very bittersweet. There were moments in the book that made me smile– like when Sam returns to her childhood secret spot, and she invites her little sister to tag along. It was an endearing moment, but considering the circumstances, I couldn’t help feeling sad. So sad, in fact, that Before I Fall will go down in my personal history as the second book ever to make me cry. (While the rest of my 6th grade class was weeping at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows, I was the only one with dry eyes. Even the boys cried! And, I didn’t even cry during any of the Harry Potter books.) And, Lauren Oliver’s writing was a perfect match for Sam Kingston’s story. It was beautiful and poetic (yet, Sam’s voice still seemed genuine), and that probably played a role in making my eyes tear up.

Overall,
Before I Fall was amazing. It’s a shame this was the second book I read of 2012. It sets a pretty high standard for the rest of the books I will read this year.

Cover Story:
Not that the cover is unattractive, but it doesn’t really do anything for me. In all honesty, if it weren’t for other bloggers raving about this book, I probably would have overlooked it. To me, the cover is just a generic close-up of a pretty girls face. Meh.

Read! Notice how I didn’t write “Read if”? That’s right, because this book is a must read! I don’t care how old you are. If you’re a teen girl in high school, read this book. If you’re an adult who remembers what it was like to be a teen girl in high school, read this book.

Book Report: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched #1) by Ally Condie
Released:November 2010
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 366
Source: Won from Ren @ Ren’s Rambles

From Goodreads
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

My Thoughts
I was weary about reading Matched by Ally Condie (how many times have I started out my reviews like this?). For starters, I was very much aware of the hype surrounding the book– something that probably would have eluded me if it weren’t for fellow book bloggers. Don’t get me wrong, hype isn’t inherently bad, but it’s often hit and miss. I was also weary because based on the summary and other bloggers’ reviews, Matched revolved around a romance, and I’m always skeptical of romance in young adult books. (Then again, I’ve said that here, here, and here, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised each time. Maybe my tastes have evolved, and I shouldn’t be so quick to put my nose up.)

Matched by Ally Condie paints a bleak portrait of a Western society that a government has, at one point, deemed to be over saturated with culture. Now, the world Cassia knows has been reduced to just 100 paintings, 100 poems, 100 songs, etc. Also, there is little choice in Cassia’s world. Decisions are left to statistics and the Sorters who analyze them. An individual’s vocation, the type and amount of food they eat, the types of activities in which they can participate, where they live, and who they marry is predetermined by Officials. And yet, this society, built and maintained by officials and statistics is about to crumble. By doing the things we take for granted, like learning to write cursive, reciting [forbidden] poetry, and falling in love with someone [she wasn't matched with], Cassia is challenging the very foundations on which her society is built.

I really appreciated the way Ally Condie incorporate poetry into Matched. For example, “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas had a functional purpose in the prose. By just knowing the poem, Cassia risks her family’s well-being. The poem also has value among a cultural black market too. Then the poem is also symbolic of Cassia’s character, yet it doesn’t seem trite.

What I loved most about this book? Dare I say it? The love triangle. I never thought I’d see the day where those words were ever typed by my own fingers. The love triangle seemed natural; it did not seem forced– not like, there is a love triangle in this story for the sake of having a love triangle (see also: for the sake of all things trendy or for the sake of the ever lusty reader). The relationships made sense! Cassia loves Xander, her most handsome BFF4E. And, according to the statistics, they are each other’s perfect match; there should be no second guessing, right? Yet, when a glitch in the matching (or better yet a mistake) makes the ever mysterious Ky the apple of Cassia’s eye, things start to tumble out of control. He’s handsome and familiar like Xander, but he is also an anomaly. An anomaly– that’s not a good thing, by the way.

Perhaps my only complaint about the story is the vagueness of the geography and current events. I wish there was an illustrated map on the inside cover or something! What I wanted to know was where Cassia lived in reference to the war-torn Outer Provinces. Where is Cassia’s world in reference to our world? I’m also kind of confused about the war that’s going on. I have to assume that Ally Condie is only letting on as much information that Cassia’ would be aware of, but it’s frustrating because so little information was given that I kept forgetting about the war. That being said, I’m really interested to know why a perfect society would be at war.

Overall,
I loved this book, and I devoured it in three sittings. I thought the characters and the world were rich with development, and I though Cassia’s relationship with Xander and Ky was lovely and genuine.

Cover Story:
This book has the kind of cover that would NOT make me feel embarrassed to read this book in public. It’s simple and monochromatic, and I like it. That being said, I still left the cover at home when I read this book at work. I didn’t want it to slide off or get damaged. Honest!

Read if you’re a skeptic of love triangles! Maybe this book will demonstrate that they can actually be pivotal to the story as opposed to just being an overused and often sub-par plot device or a sad excuse for character development. Just sayin! Alternately, read if you’re a sucker for the arts or you’re a sucker for the dystopian genre. 

Waiting on Wednesday: The List

From Goodreads:
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

I’m going to admit something here– I’ve not actually read a book by Siobhan Vivian even though she seems really popular amongst book bloggers. I will say, The List is the second book of hers that has really piqued my interest (The first being Not That Kind of Girl, and I don’t have any excuses for why I haven’t read it yet). The story itself seems like it’s going to be rather profound even though it dwells on something as superficial as appearance, and I think the story will resonate with many young women. I’m making an assumption based off the synopsis because I haven’t read anything about this book, but I get the feeling each girl affected by the list will have a chance to tell their own story. I’m a sucker for multiple points of view, so this is another reason why I’m eagerly awaiting this book.

The List by Siobhan Vivian
Expected Publication: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Push

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.