Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: "Cold Sassy Tree" Classic a Month #9

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
3 out of 5 stars

My stepmom recommended this for one of my classics...she had read it a long time ago and really loved it, so I picked it up at the library for this month. I did enjoy it, but it was a little hard to get into at first. The dialect in particular was hard to get used to, it's an extreme Southern country language with lots of "dern hit" (darn it) and "aint". And yes, I do have a strong Texan accent at times, but even I had trouble with this. There was also a lot of religious talk, so if you're not comfortable with that, you may want to skip this one.

Will Tweedy is a 14 year old boy in 1906 Georgia. He's used to working hard and doing what he's told. His Grandma has just died 3 weeks before and everyone is in mourning (which means no fishing trip for Will), except Grandpa Blakeslee. Grandpa busts into Will's home one morning, takes his daily gulp of whiskey (his wife wouldn't let him keep it at home) and announces to his two horrified daughters that he is getting remarried. To the much younger Miss Love Simpson, his employee down at the general store. He needs someone to take care of him by gosh and he'll be derned if he's goin' to be lettin' his daughters do it fer him. Or something like that. :)

I will give the author that, it's hard to write continuously in such a strong accent! My sister and I were discussing accents yesterday. She had read an article about how Texans are losing their accent (here's a similar article I found) because of so many immigrants moving into the state and young people not wanting to sound like that anymore. Which is true. I definitely say plenty of "y'alls" but I can put on or pull back that "Texan" depending on the time and place. When I'm down in East Texas (Paris or Cooper area if you know it) visiting my mom's family, it gets real thick and I start sounding like a hillbilly sometimes lol. But that's okay with me. I love being a Texan. It's not like any other state or country. :) Then my sister and I started saying different words like Don & Dawn or Cot & Caught and they all started sounding the same. Try it. Do they sound different to you?

Okay, back to the story! The family and town are horrified by Grandpa's actions but he doesn't care. He does his own thing and to heck with everyone else. Grandpa Blakeslee reminds me of Grandpa Cotton from King of the Hill, except Blakeslee's missing an arm instead of his shins. I heard his voice the whole time I was reading this. Will Tweedy becomes a sort of chaperone for the two after they go and get hitched suddenly. Grandpa and Miss Love both make it very clear that this is a business arrangement: he gets someone to take care of him and the house and she gets the house when he dies. Miss Love is only in her mid-30s but for that time period, she is already an old maid. All she really wants is a home and family of her own and Mr Blakeslee gives her a way to have it. Even though the family refuses to accept her.

We see and hear the aftermath of this atrocity thru Will's eyes, so it's a little biased. He worships his Grandpa and fancies Miss Love, so he's all for the relationship. But we do get a good mixture of funny and heartfelt exchanges and it brings us a nice, well-rounded story in the end. Like I said above, there is quite a bit of God-fearing, Bible-thumping going on here so if that's not your cup of tea, you may not enjoy this as much. I'm not an overly-religious person myself, so I didn't care for those parts too much but it wasn't overbearing. Will is a genuinely funny boy, he has a natural knack for story-telling and making jokes. Especially at the expense of his Aunt Loma, who is only a few years older than him.

There are some sad, heart-breaking moments too though. Will's family has to deal with a lot of death and sadness throughout the story. There's also a harrowing moment when Will gets stuck on a train trellis that will leave your heart beating faster and goosebumps down your arms. So really, this book has everything. :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

TILT: Book Posters Version 6.25

More book posters for today's Things I Love Thursday woot woot!! :)

(I always try to find the original link, but if one of these is yours 
& you don't want it up, please contact me!)

I Am A Book Hoarder by CinderellaInRubberShoes --my sister pinned this poster for me the other day because we were talking about how I am starting to hoard books and I may have to start sleeping with them soon lol.

Bookworms Aren't People Who Love to Read by Belcastro Agency (I believe) --absolutely!

Busy Library by MojaMoja??  --I'm not sure where this is originally from, so if you know, please comment below! I love the print though, that's how a library should be.

Say it Loud, Say it Proud: I am a Book Geek by CinderellaInRubberShoes --I think I found a Tumblr to follow, even though I have no idea how Tumblr works lol. I love a lot of this person's prints, so great!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Series I Haven't Finished (Yet)

Top 10 Series I Haven't Finished Yet by The Broke & The Bookish: excellent topic, as I have a bunch that I'm reading lol. I'm limiting this to series that I actually plan on finishing, not those that I gave up on (Sookie Stackhouse) or threw in the trash (ahem, Hush, Hush). :)

1. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz --I was so into these when they first came out, but it took so long in between that I stalled out on book 4. And I just noticed that there are 6 now ugh!

2. Wicked by Gregory Maguire --another one that I was super interested in, especially the first. I'm on the 3rd book, which was a little boring at first, so I put it down. The 4th one looks really interesting though, so maybe I'll pick them up again soon.

3. Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar --I read the first one last year (after getting a huge stack at the HPB Warehouse Sale) and thought it was totally gross. But I've heard they get better and I love the TV show, so eventually I want to give them another shot.

4. House of Night by PC Cast --I'm on book 9 and they've been getting worse as they go, but I don't really want to give up on them yet. I may wait til book 10 comes out too and reread them all.

5. Immortals by Alyson Noel --I just picked up the last book the other day at HPB. It's been over a year since I read the last (not very good) one, so it looks like another reread. Arg.

6. Gone by Michael Grant --I'm waiting for Fear, book 5, to come out in paperback lol. I just can't stand buying any more series in different formats! And this is one series I will be okay with rereading if needed.

7. Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent --I'm waiting for volume 2 to come out, which has an extra story in it. I really liked the extra story in volume 1, but I may not wait much longer.

8. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard --I finished the first 8 and liked them, but then when she started it back up, book 9 seemed kind of forced so I've stalled out there for now.

9. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins --I read the first book and thought it was okay, nothing great. But now I'm following her on Twitter and she's really funny and she's just like me and I feel like I should read the other 2 books now lol. Also, I want to know what happens. :)

10. Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M Martin --well this one is kind of obvious, because I'm being super lazy about reading them and there's only like 200 books. :) I just read Super Special #4 though so I'm going to try to get ahead some this weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: "Definitely Not Mr. Darcy"

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos
3 out of 5 stars

This was an impulse pick-up from the library the other day. It looked cute, so I thought why not? And I did enjoy it, even though it wasn't the best read ever. I think I'd like to read more Jane Austen soon, this kind of world and the fandom she produces is intriguing to me. Maybe November? October is going to be some scary Poe stories and December A Christmas Carol, I think. :)

Anyway, this book...I read it in 2 days, so it's a fast read. Chloe Parker is totally obsessed with Austen and all things Regency era. She's in her late 30s, divorced, has an 8 year old daughter (who seems either 4 or 14 at different times), and has a failing business in handmade paper products. When she hears about a Jane Austen documentary-type TV show in England, she decides to try out and of course, gets picked. So she packs up, sends her daughter to her parents, and jets off to sunny rainy England. Does it really rain that much there? We're in the middle of another drought here in Texas, so I can't really imagine soaking showers every afternoon.

When Chloe gets there, she is shocked and dismayed to realize that this isn't going to be a trivia-inspired documentary like she thought...instead, she's now competing with several other women in a Bachelor-esque dating competition. I hate The Bachelor/ette. After that Brad guy (or whatever his name is) decided not to choose either girl, I decided to boycott lol. Okay, so Chloe is pretty pissed, but she didn't exactly read the contract very closely, so I kind of didn't feel for her that much. She has to decide if she's going to stay and suffer thru this or go back home. The prize money is the deciding factor for her...$100,000. Oh and the hot guy and his equally hot younger brother. They help too.

Yeah, she decides to stay. I would too. Even though that now means she is completely immersed in the world of 1812 England: dress, mannerisms, dating, eating, everything. That means no cell phones, deodorant (lemon wedges), real underwear (!), indoor plumbing, showers, electricity. That also means lots of meat killed from the lands (she goes veggie real quick), chaperoned dates, no speaking to a man until "properly" introduced, etc...and then there are the competitions: how to mend a pen, make ink, ride a horse, trim a bonnet (whatever that means)...can she make it? Will she win the guy and the money?

Well, I'm not going to tell you. ;) If you like Austen or contemporary type romances, I would suggest this book. It does get a little dirty in a few parts, but I'm okay with that hah! There are far too many mentions of the "1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice" and Colin Firth with his wet shirt. I still haven't seen it yet, I know, shame on me. The ending is highly predictable, but that's okay. There's some misdirection and plenty of man candy in their tight "breeches" and a typical sassy, flippy-haired, smart-mouthed girl who excels at every competition and is here to win her a man and some land, by gosh!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dirty Little Secret Saturday

I know I've kind of slacked on the reviews this week boo. I'm at the library right now though and trying to work on some for next week. Until then, how about a Dirty Little Secret by Under the Covers?

What's your favorite place to read?

Well, I do most of my reading on the couch in the living room, while watching TV. (I'm a multi-tasker lol.) I always have a stack of books sitting on the table next to me, plus several magazines and bookmarks. I like to sit on the couch because then I can use the throw pillows to hold up my heavier books. :) I almost always have my cat sitting on me too.

If I don't feel like sitting in the living room, I'll sit in my big, ugly, comfy chair in my bedroom. When I moved my bookshelf the other day, I turned my chair sideways, so I can't put my feet up on my bed anymore which is annoying. But I can put one foot on a shelf, so that's not too bad lol. I'd love to eventually get a smaller, nicer chair and footstool, but until then, I'll deal. I like to sit in there on Saturday or Sunday afternoons and have classical music playing and a big glass of ice water (if it's hot) and just read for hours.

I hardly ever read in bed, except maybe magazines or extra large books that I need to lay flat to read. I do read/play on my phone in bed nearly every day though. Too much, probably. At work, I read at my desk on my lunch 1/2 hour and I go downstairs during my 15 minute breaks to the cafeteria. It's nice and quiet and I usually need a break from my coworkers.

How about you? Do you have a designated spot to read? Or do you just go willy-nilly? 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

TILT: Book Cats!

I was going to do my Things I Love Thursday with all pets and books, but it turns out dogs don't really read that much lol. I guess they're too busy catching up on TextFromDog. (I love that site!) Cats are obviously much more into books, as seen here...especially my own cat, Binks, who loooooves to get right up in my lap when I'm reading a big, heavy book lol. (He's the orange & white rubbing on the BSC book, naturally.) Do you have a bookish pet? I'd love to see pictures of them! Are dogs actually literate? Send me proof! :)

(pics from Polyvore & Pinterest, click here for details!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish People I'd Like to Meet

I stuck with just authors on today's Top 10 from The Broke & The Bookish, I didn't want to be all weird and stalkery naming bloggers lol. So here are my Top 10 (Author) Bookish People I'd Like to Meet (Alive or Dead-but not Zombie Dead):

1. JK Rowling --uh, duh. :) I could listen to her talk about Hogwarts & Harry Potter all day. I'd also like to hear how she's dealing with the huge amount of fame she came into so quickly.

2. Neil Gaiman --I follow him on Twitter and he's really funny and interesting. Plus he has really cool hair. (Pic from his twitter here)

3. Ann M Martin --another duh, for me anyway. We could discuss all the inaccuracies in the BSC books and whether Claudia was actually color-blind and where she really sees the BSC members now.

4. John Steinbeck --I kind of surprised myself with this one, but after my Summer of Steinbeck, I would really love to talk with him and hear more stories about Monterey and just anything really.

5. VC Andrews --the queen of incestual (I think I just made up that word, but oh well) romances, even 26 years after her death. I wonder how she would feel about that, knowing these people are cashing in on her name still and if she really intended to write every single book about a brother and sister hooking up in an attic lol.

6. Terry Moore --Strangers in Paradise is one of my very favorite graphic novels and I would looooove to discuss Katchoo and Francine with him. I'm also currently reading Echo and have Rachel Rising on my to-buy, plus he's done stuff with Runaways, Fables, and Buffy so Terry Moore is one of my favorite authors too, I guess! :)

7. Piers Anthony --As the creator of Xanth, I'm sure he is a super creative guy and lots of fun to be around (once you get past all the puns lol). I've read his bios and he seems like a genuinely nice guy too.

8. Christopher Pike --I would like to watch Disney movies with him. I think he would enjoy that lol. No one likes to be scared all the time, right?

9. Maurice Sendak --Wouldn't it be the best thing ever to have Sendak read you a bedtime story? I think so.

10.Haruki Murakami --I would ask him all the unanswered questions I still have after reading 1Q84 nearly 4 months ago!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Haul!

I took Friday off last week to take care of car stuff (yuck) and it ended up not taking very long at all (yay), so my sis and I decided to do a little shopping that afternoon (and the next day lol) and I ended up with 14 books! I thought I'd do a book haul post for y'all today to show off my goodies. :)

(click any of the pics to make bigger)

I got 10 of these books at the Half Price Books in Frisco, where I almost always walk out with a big stack. I guess because I don't go there very often. Of course, I didn't get a basket, so I ended up carrying around this huge stack the whole time and I had limp spaghetti arms afterwards! Plus, I kept dropping the Steinbeck lol. And I got the other 4 on Saturday at the big HPB in Dallas. 

Okay, starting at the top, we have Tortilla Flat, because I had read a library copy and wanted my own. Next is a couple of kid's/middle grade books: The Giver by Lois Lowry, Matilda by Roald Dahl, and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I've never read any of these and have been wanting to get some more MG classics, so thought these would be good choices. Plus, I love Matilda the movie. :)

Then I picked up a couple of randoms: A Separate Peace by John Knowles (not sure where I saw this one?), Commencement by J Courtney Sullivan (recommended by a friend a while back. Starting it at work today!), and Delirium by Lauren Oliver (which I've been wanting for a long time). 

And then there are the "pretty" books. :) Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor was a last-minute impulse buy, because I'd heard so much about it. At the Palace of Marie Antoinette by Bianca Turetsky is the 2nd in the Time-Traveling Fashionista series and I didn't even know it was out yet! I'm really excited about it. My sister has threatened to steal this one though (along with the first and the Elle&Blair one) and put them in her room, because they're so pretty. I told her if she read them, she could lol. She pouted. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han was a $1.00 clearance buy and Beneath the Glitter by Elle & Blair Fowler was mainly for my sister. She's obsessed with their beauty guru videos and this book just came out last week and we happened upon it in the new releases.

And finally, a couple more randoms...the last book in the Immortals series, Everlasting, by Alyson Noel, which I am sure I will have to reread because I have no idea what was happening. :( Hater, by David Moody, which I picked up after A Bookworm Belle's review of it intrigued me so much (isn't that cover great??). And a graphic novel called Chew by John Layman that I had read about on Amazon and wanted to try. I don't usually pick up graphic novels on my own, my dad usually recommends them, so I'm excited to try some new ones and see how I do. :)

So that's my awesome haul! :) It took some major finagling to fit on my to-read shelf though, I need to get busy reading! No more library books for me for a while lol. Did you buy/borrow/steal any books over the weekend? I'd love to hear about them! Don't tell me if you stole them though. ;)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: "Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel"

Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead
2 out of 5 stars

This is going to be a quick review I think, to wrap up "Vampire Academy" week lol.'s hard to rate this. I read a lot of graphic novels, so that's not the problem. This is absolutely meant to be a companion read for the series (so spoilers in this here review! Lol). In that case, I think it was good. The story itself is a little choppy if you haven't read the books, but they still give a nice picture of the characters and their lives. It's a very quick read, which is nice sometimes.

The artwork is not the greatest I've seen. The girls, in particular Lissa, just seemed really off to me. Lissa is very plain and unglamorous, where in the books, she's almost got that incandescent beauty of Twilight vamps. Not at all what I pictured. Dimitri, on the other hand, yowza. :) If I'd had that picture in my head while reading the books, I would have been all over Team Dimitri lol. Umm...literally. And honestly, I will be buying the second one soon, because I just saw pics of Adrian and woo hoo.

So we've got these great shots of Dimitri and then all of a sudden...there's the super creepy Strigoi. Like, what?? Why is she all hunched over?? And she's got long, monkey arms! Scary. OMG...I just, this second, realized what she reminds me of!! You know in Buffy, "Hush" episode? The Gentlemen's minions? Yep, that's Strigoi according to this. *Shudders*

Thursday, September 13, 2012

TILT: So Your Child Is Going To Hogwarts...

Today's Things I Love Thursday is dedicated to parents of new witches or wizards at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. :) School has been in session for 2 weeks now and you should have received your welcome package via owl post by now. If you haven't, we have provided all the replacement links below for your convenience. Do take advantage of these sales, because I'm sure they won't last long!

(if you do not wish to have your shop linked, please contact me!)

Hogwarts Acceptance Letter (center pic) by ThePaperDrawer --I'm sure you'll want to frame your child's acceptance letter, as this is truly a piece of art!

Hogsmeade Permission Slip (top left & clockwise from here) by LegendaryLetters --Don't forget to send in your kid's permission slips or they might end up trying to sneak out under an invisibility cloak!

HP Hogwarts Stamps & Wax by PropPrintables --perfect to use on your correspondence, either to your Hogwarts students or to family members "in the know". Be sure to use the right amount of postage for Owl Post!

Hogwarts Crest Patch by Patcheshome --Embroidered with the Hogwarts motto "Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus" which is of course Latin for "Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon" ;) Would be perfect sewn onto your winter coat!

HP House Color Scarf by Rebel666 --a perfect way to show off your school spirit at those cold Quidditch games!

HP House Color Mittens by TheSortingHat --why not get some matching mittens and hat (sold separately) to go with your scarf? It gets coooold in Scotland!

Hogwarts Alumni Sweatshirt by ShirtNinja --is your child a second or third generation wizard? Are you distantly related to the Weasley's? Wear your alumni sweatshirt with pride!

Hogwarts Honor Roll Bumper Sticker by PeelAndStickDecals --does your child take after Hermione? Show off to all those other parents when you go to the grocery store or Diagon Alley!

Gryffindor Quidditch Team Captain Shirt by SunDogShirts --your son or daughter made Quidditch Captain? Congrats and buy them this shirt to celebrate!

Hogwarts House Crest Ring by MonstresBijoux --gorgeous little rings to show your school spirit. Or maybe your son needs an extra one after his got swallowed by his toad? ;)

Hogwarts Parking Decal by ImprobableObjects --don't forget to get this for your older students! They'll need it to park their over-sized brooms and flying cars (preferably not near the Whomping Willow!).

Hogwarts Buddies Card by BlowFishBazaar --send to your favorite kid (instead of a Howler) to let them know you're thinking of them!

Hogwarts Keychain by DaliliceQueen --perfect for your house/flying car keys or just to hang on your student's backpack.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: "Bloodlines"

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
3 out of 5 stars

This is the first in a spin-off series of Vampire Academy and I just finished it last week, so I thought I'd go ahead and do a whole VA week lol. This series will focus on Alchemist, Sydney Sage, and I thought I would enjoy her story more but it just fell flat to me. I liked Sydney quite a bit in VA, she was bright and spunky, but it didn't come across in Bloodlines. I'm sure I'll probably still get the second book though, so hopefully she gets fleshed out more as the series progresses. Also a note: I wouldn't recommend reading this series as a stand-alone or before the VA because there are plenty of spoilers and characters from the first series that you will need to know about. I will be assuming you have read VA, so there will be spoilers in this review for it!

The Alchemists are a group of humans set up to protect other humans against vampires: mostly Strigoi but Moroi also. They are incredibly biased against all vamps, to the point of racism. It left me with a strong icky taste in my mouth, if you know what I mean. They were so completely and utterly blinded to anything good in any of the vamps, even the elite Moroi that they are forced to protect at times. The racism was just shoved down your throat. Ugh. Alchemists stand out by having a golden lily tattoo on their cheek, which is infused with, you guessed it, some of that Moroi magic they are all terrified of. Couldn't they have picked a little less conspicuous place for a tattoo though??

Sydney is pulled out of bed in the middle of the night by her dad for an Alchemist emergency. Seems that Jill, Lissa's younger sister, has been threatened by some Moroi because they can't directly attack Queen Lissa. The Alchemists agree to hide Jill away for a while, but they need someone youngish to stay with her and keep her out of trouble. Enter Sydney. Or actually, Sydney's younger sister, but Sydney doesn't want her involved in Alchemist business yet, so she insists on taking the job. Especially when she realizes the head guy on the "job" is a skeezy suck-up named Keith, whom she has a (not good) history with.

So Sydney heads out to sunny California (yep, vampires in Cali) and gets a pretty big shock when she finds out who Jill's chaperone's/escorts/Guardians are: Eddie and Adrian. Woot Adrian! He's pretty much the only thing that gave this book the 3 stars. Even though he was pretty dang mopey for most of the book lol. Stupid Rose, picking the wrong guy. Anyway! Jill, Eddie, and Sydney are enrolled in the local prep school, which excites Sydney, because she's a big old nerd. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) They have to pose as siblings, along with Adrian, which is pretty amusing, seeing as none of them look anything alike.

Jill is fifteen years old, but man is she boring and predictable. She's also apparently a guy magnet, because every guy not "related" to her is totally in love with her, and even the ones "related" are totally smitten. I don't get it. Is she using Compulsion? Does she have love magic along with water? I don't know, but it's weird and totally out of character for half the guys. I'm so glad the story didn't focus on her much, because I don't think I could have finished it. :(

There are a lot of unexplained things going on in this book: too many if you ask me. Are there actually Vampire Hunters? What's up with the teacher? How does she know stuff?? Who's trying to kill Jill? Why is everyone falling for her? Why is Sydney's dad such a controlling monster? (Because, really, I have no doubt that her eating habits, OCD tendencies, urge to follow the rules no matter what, and racism are thanks to him.) And finally...why, why, why, why on the last page!??!?!! That's all I'm going to say. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books That Make You Think

I decided not to be totally serious on this week's The Broke & The Bookish Top Ten Tuesday. :) So here are 10 books that make me think, either about serious things or how I would react in that world or situation.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--okay, well obviously this is a serious one. This book is up there with Anne Frank, Eli Wiesel, and others. It makes you wonder about the cruelty of people and if something like that could happen again now.

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett--I like to think that if I had lived thru that time period, I would have tried to change things too. I don't know if I actually would have had the guts to do anything, but I hope I would have.

3. The Future of Us by Jay Asher--this is coming up soon for me to review, so I won't say much. But I really enjoyed thinking about 1996 me and all the crazy fads again lol.

4. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin--I just read this one last week and it was heart-breaking in many ways; it really made me think about what I believe happens in the after-life and such.

5. Harry Potter by JK Rowling--no Top 10 is complete without Harry Potter and/or Anna & The French Kiss, right? Lol..."yer a wizard, Harry." I have spent so much time thinking, talking, crafting, researching Hogwarts I could probably find my way around without a Marauder's Map lol. (Oh and stay tuned on Thursday for a very special TILT!)

6. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck--what would you do to make your family proud of you again? Anything? Even at the cost of your own beliefs and morals?

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green--another heart-breaker. It made me think about life and death and how I'm living my life.

8. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami--this book has so many twisted, changing plots you have no choice but to think as you're reading it! I need to review it soon too, arg, I am so behind on my reviews!!

9. The Princess Bride by William Goldman--basically, this book makes me wonder what kind of drugs Goldman was on when he came up with this lol.

10.The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux--ending on a lighter note, I like to think about what week I would go back in time to and if I would change my future or leave it the same.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: "Vampire Academy" Series Books 1-6

Vampire Academy Series Books 1-6 by Richelle Mead
3.5 out of 5 stars averaged

I've been meaning to review these for ages now and just somehow keep putting it off. I started this series last September and finished it up in March. (I took about a two month break in between.) I just finished Bloodlines, the first in the spin-off series and really enjoyed it. I also just got (yesterday in fact) the first graphic novel, so I'm kind of excited about that and it'll hopefully help me get this dang review written! Lol.

The first book in the series, Vampire Academy, gets started setting up a world that is half Gossip Girl and half Twilight (but the good half): rich vampire teenagers at a boarding school. Sounds fun right? There's a few twists though. There are two types of vamps: the Moroi ("good guys", tall, thin, pale, beautiful, usually royalty, have magic powers pertaining to the four elements of earth, air, fire, water) and the Strigoi ("bad guys", hard features, like to kill for their blood, hate the sun). Then we have the Dhampirs, half Moroi and half human, who are basically groomed to be Guardians for the elite Moroi. Dhampirs don't need blood like the other two, but do have some super-human strength and fighting skills. Also, the Dhampir girls look super hot to the Moroi guys because they're more curvelicious and apparently, kinda slutty. (Going by our main character, Rose.)

Rose is a Dhampir and Guardian in training at the Academy; her BFF is Lissa (Vasilisa), a Moroi Princess and the last of her family line, the Dragomir's. Rose and Lissa have run away from school for an unknown reason at the beginning of Book 1, but they are soon caught by the Guardians and taken back. Among the Guardians is Dimitri, whom Rose immediately lusts after. Dimitri Belikov is Russian, in his twenties, and according to Rose, too good-looking for his own good. Honestly, I was never crazy about Dimitri. I know, shame on me. There's also a neat twist with Rose and Lissa, but I'm not going to ruin it for those who haven't read it yet. If you're into all the vampire/teen/angsty romance books, I would give these a chance. And now, onto the next book, so spoilers abound! :)

Frostbite takes us even deeper into the world and starts exploring the political side of things, while also introducing some new characters. New, awesome characters named Adrian Ivashkov. New, awesome, sexy Adrian Ivashkov. Now, him I get. It's winter break at St Vladimir's (that's the school name...yeah, that's not obvious to humans at all), but because of recent Strigoi attacks, the school officials decide to lock-down the students and take a school-wide trip to a posh ski resort. (Kind of like when the entire Stoneybrook Middle School goes to a ski lodge hah!) Rose is pretty excited, until she finds out her mom is going to be there as a Guardian. They don't quite get along and haven't spent time together in a long time, so things are tense, to say the least. Throw in some love triangles (squares? hexagons? I don't know) and you got yourself a pretty great story.

There isn't a lot of action (aside from the romantic entanglement) until the last half of the book, but boy does it pick up then. A few of Rose's classmates (Mason, who has a huge crush on her) have decided to go off in search of the Strigoi and she, of course, decides to go after them. Instead of maybe telling some adults or something. Lissa's boyfriend, Christian, goes with her. I really like Christian. He's kind of a black sheep in the community, because of his parents, but he doesn't let it get to him. He also very strongly believes in the Moroi learning to protect themselves more, which is frowned upon to say the least. The ending of this book is a real nail-biter: spoiler, highlight to read: When Mason is killed, I screamed in my head along with Rose. I was so, so sad. :( He gave his life up to save Rose and the others, and she doesn't even deserve it, in my opinion. /end spoiler

Shadow Kiss, for me, was one of the better books. Lots of action and suspense and one heck of a cliffhanger! This one delves more into the Spirit aspect of Rose and Lissa's relationship and we also get more of Queen Tatiana, who (whom?) I do not like at all lol. Rose is dealing with the aftermath of the end of book 2 and is understandably more subdued and serious now. But some weird things are going on in her head and she doesn't know what or why.

She also has to deal with the school's Guardian tests, 6 weeks of shadowing a Moroi and defending them against staged attacks. Rose has assumed all along that she would be guarding Lissa, what with their spirit bond and such, so she's pretty shocked and pissed when she is assigned to someone else. I really enjoyed seeing Rose's relationship with this person grow and become a friendship. And now, I have to put up the Spoiler Owl, because going forward, there is some crazy stuff and I got slightly spoiled reading the series from Goodreads, so I don't want that to happen here in case you still haven't read the entire series! :)

Okay, let's talk about Dimitri, shall we? I just don't get it. The Rose and Dimitri thing. The only thing they seem to have in common or like about each other is they are strong fighters and both pretty hot. How is that a relationship? And yes, they finally "do it" in this one and it's very "meh" for me. I much prefer Christian and Lissa lol. So when the Strigoi attack the school towards the end and that one dude (sorry, fuzzy on the details) realizes Dimitri means something to Rose and that's the perfect way to get back at her...well, I sort of saw it coming. It's very much Buffy and lovers, try to stay away from each other, finally have that moment of pure happiness, and dude loses his soul. I mean, come on.

Blood Promise quickly picks up where book 3 ended, with Rose leaving St Vladimir, Lissa, and her career as a Guardian behind to go to Russia and "take care of" Dimitri. And the Buffy/Angel comparison continues. Is she going to have to kill him or can she save him somehow? Will he still love her if she saves him? Will she still love him? Oh, the suspense!!

While I still really enjoyed this one, I felt Lissa's story suffered greatly. The constant flashbacks/"trips" inside her head from Rose's point of view started getting old real quick. It was a poor plot device that was way over used. We also get a bunch of flashbacks to conversations between Dimitri and Rose that I'm not quite sure when they happened.

There were plenty of good parts though. I really enjoyed the time Rose spent at Dimitri's home, getting to know his family. I didn't think it was necessary, but I enjoyed it. We also get some new characters in Abe, a mysterious gentleman who is trying to get Rose back to St Vlad's, and Sydney, a young Alchemist which is basically a group sent to protect humans from the vamps. I really liked both of them and was excited to see more in the future books. (And spinoffs)

And then there's Strigoi Dimitri. Ugh ugh ugh...I'm sorry, I just did not like it. Spoilers, highlight: I didn't like it when Rose got captured by Dimitri, I hated it when she went against her beliefs and became a "blood whore" (her words, not mine), and basically became an addict for weeks just so she could stay close to Dimitri. /end spoiler. Seeing Dimitri evil was not fun. When Angel turned into Angelus, at least I still liked him somewhat. I just couldn't make myself see any good in Dimitri. I am still very much Team Adrian and it sucked to see Rose treat him like a piggy bank and string him along. And then we get another huge cliffhanger. Double ugh.

Spirit Bound takes a deep, boring, down-turn again unfortunately. For the most part. There were some good parts, don't get me wrong. But by Book 5, I was starting to wonder if this series was ever going to end lol. Rose is back at school and back with Lissa, Christian, and Adrian thankfully. Graduation is coming up and Rose is actually allowed to complete the final Guardian exercises, although she's not quite sure what she will be doing after that. And that's about all I can say without big, huge spoilers. So let's put the baby Caution Owl up now and chat, shall we? ;)

Dimitri stalking Rose is just more creepy Angel/Buffy nonsense. And I think we all know that Rose will do anything to get him back to "normal", now that she knows there is a way. But seriously? Getting Victor Dashkov, the dude that nearly killed Lissa, out of prison and taking him on a wild road-trip to his mentally unstable brother? Worst.Idea.Ever. And yeah, okay, cool...Lissa was able to turn Dimitri back. But I'm glad he didn't want to be with Rose after that. She didn't deserve him OR Adrian. Thinking about sleeping with Dimitri is still CHEATING. I don't care if she "pushed the guilt aside". That doesn't make it okay. Ugh. Oh and hey, how about another huge cliffhanger? What's the deal with that anyway? Double ugh. Whew...went on a bit of a rant there, didn't I? :) 

The last book, Last Sacrifice, sees Rose sitting in jail, waiting for her trial for supposedly killing Queen Tatiana. Big, bad daddy Abe promises to get her out, one way or another. The Court is in chaos after the Queen's death and somehow Lissa gets nominated along with a bunch of other people from royal families. She's freaked but agrees to take the tests anyways. I'm sure you can all see where this is going.

Rose is busted out of jail and hidden away with Dimitri and Sydney, the Alchemist, and tries to figure out who Lissa's long-lost half-sibling could be so that Lissa could actually have a chance at being Queen. Because, you know, an 18 year old is totes capable of that. Along the way she tries to find evil Victor again (because, of course, he ran away last time), hide her true feelings for Dimitri, pretend she isn't breaking Adrian's heart, and find a former teacher Ms Karp, who turned Strigoi on purpose to get rid of the Spirits, and maybe save her too. The ending is predictable, but if you've gone this far, you may as well finish them out. That's pretty much how I felt lol. And I know this review has taken a sharp negative turn, but I really did enjoy them at the time!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dirty Little Secret Saturday

The lovelies over at Under the Covers are talking about anthologies for this week's Dirty Little Secret....

What is your take on anthologies? Love them? Hate them? And what is the last anthology you've read and enjoyed?

I could usually take them or leave them. I don't read them very often, but when I do, they are usually romance driven. I guess those are just more popular, especially Christmas themed, so that's what I pick up. A lot of times, I will get an anthology for one or two specific authors that I love and will read anything by, but it's also a great way to find new ones too. Here's a brief list of the few anthologies that I've read in the past and remember liking:

I <3 Bad Boys --I picked this up because I enjoyed Lori Foster (I accidentally typed Jodi first lol) and ended up really liking this one. There are a couple of others in this series, which I'm pretty sure I read: Bad Boys To Go, I Brake for Bad Boys, etc...

Double the Pleasure --okay, I haven't actually read this one, but it looks good lol. Lori Foster likes her anthologies, doesn't she?

Santa Baby --Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster, Carly Phillips...I don't quite remember it, but I'm sure I read it! :)

Irish Girls About Town --I got this one when I was on my Marian Keyes fix and enjoyed it so much, it has survived the many bookshelf culls I've done. There are 16 stories, so they are very short, quick reads and all about Irish girls, obviously.

Girls Night In --another one from my "Pink Book" crazed faze lol. This has stories from some of my faves: Meg Cabot, Jennifer Weiner, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Anna Maxted, and lots more. I'm pretty sure I still have this one too. I kind of want to read them now! :)

Into the Dark --this is Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld prequels & bonus stories. I just picked this one up the other day and haven't read it yet, but I'm excited to! I looooove LOTU. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

TILT: Reading Chairs

I'm continuing my Things I Love Thursday from last week with reading chairs...what's your ultimate chair to curl up in with your favorite book? Leather? Cushy? Floral? Plaid? I do have a reading chair right now, but it's this huge, plaid, stained monstrosity I got at the DAV (thrift store) a loooong time ago. It is so ugly. I'd love to get a new one, but A. I can't afford it and B. mine is so heavy & bulky, I don't think sis & I can get it down the stairs lol.

(click here for larger or here for details)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: "Stacey & The Mystery of Stoneybrook: The Baby-Sitters Club #35"

Stacey & The Mystery of Stoneybrook: The Baby-Sitters Club #35 by Ann M Martin
3 out of 5 stars

I crossed out the title page on this one with a red pen...guess I didn't like the title or something. This one was alright, not great, didn't seem to have much purpose. (Not that any of them do, I suppose.) Anyway, we open with Stacey coming home from a "fabulous" weekend in NYC with her dad. Quote marks because it actually kind of sucked. Her dad works most of the weekend and hounds her about her diabetes when they go out to eat. But she gets to go shopping so she can look tres sophisticated in po-dunk Stoneybrook. [Stacey] I had dressed for my train ride in a white jumpsuit, layered over a blue tank top. I had on white push-down socks with blue hearts all over them, a wide blue patent leather belt, and a wild necklace made of all kinds of plastic sea creatures in a rainbow of colors.

(click here for details on items used)

We actually get a double What Stacey is Wearing for this book woot woot, so here's Stace's new outfit she wears to school later on: I'd gotten this pink polka-dotted short skirt with suspender straps and had worn it with an oversized white T-shirt. I had on my pink high0top sneakers, folded down to show their striped lining. I'd also worn these great earrings Claud had given me for my birthday. They had all these little pink plastic hearts dangling down from one bigger heart. In case you haven't noticed, I do like the color pink! (Yeah, we noticed. I'm not sure how great that looks with your blonde hair and "golden" skin though.)

So, Stacey is home from a long weekend and at Monday's BSC meeting...Dr Johanssen, Charlotte's mom, calls and says that she & Mr. need to go out of town for a week to take care of Dr's sick dad. She wants to know if Charlotte can stay with Stacey and her mom for the week. I'm not really sure why she didn't call Mrs. McGill first for this, but I guess she knows Kristy has the final say-so lol. Mrs. McGill says yes and Stacey is super excited. She fixes up the guest room for Charlotte, putting new sheets on the bed and toys and books on the shelves. She thinks it will be just like having a little sister and it'll be so much fun, etc...

Well, Charlotte arrives and it is NOT fun. She's worried about her Grandpa, understandably, but also super clingy to her parents before they leave and Mopey Moperson after. To get her mind off things, she tells Charlotte about this old house that is getting torn down in their neighborhood. The other BSCers (those born there that is) are completely absorbed in this story for some reason. I guess they've never seen a house torn down before. Stacey is like "Whatevs" but Charlotte seems interested, so they go check it out. While there, some seriously weird (although explainable) things happen: they hear clanging pipes, see a face in a window after the workmen have left, there's a huge swarm of flies near the back door, and they see a fire in one of the windows but it immediately goes out, like it was never there. Freaky right?

Charlotte & Stacey take off after that and both have these horrible nightmares, so naturally, Kristy calls an emergency BSC meeting to figure this crap out. She finds some old books in Watson's McLibrary and finds out that Stoneybrook was built on an ancient burial ground (Whaaatt???) and the house is on the, supposedly, most sacred spot of all. Yeah, I can't make this stuff up. Is this what the mysteries are going to be like? Cause I don't know if I want to read them after all lol. Anyway, this is such an awesome mystery that it even interests Claudia and she goes where no C- art student has gone before: the library. ;) She finds the previous owner, this super old dude named...oh, it doesn't matter...and her, Kristy, Stacey, and Charlotte go to the nursing home to visit him and get some answers. He never has any visitors, so to keep them there as long as possible, he tells them all these wacky stories about how the house is haunted and don't go to the construction site, oooohhhh....Luckily, the BSCers are skeptical and don't quite believe him.

In between all this, Charlotte keeps telling Stacey she feels sick and Super Sitter that Stacey is, she thinks it's just homesickness. Until Char has a fever and is almost on her deathbed. Okay not really, but she does have tonsillitis and Stacey & Mrs. McGill feel really bad. Char hates her medicine and refuses to take it, until Stacey has the bright idea to show Char all her diabetes stuff and what she has to do every day. This was kind of anti-climactic for all that foreshadowing in the last few books of Stacey not feeling well and stuff. I was hoping for at least a fainting spell in the cafeteria again. But no, she just has to be even more vigilant. Boo.

Alright, it's the day of the house destruction, Charlotte is feeling better, so they decide to go watch. Along with most of Stoneybrook apparently. Everything is all normal and kind of boring, until Stacey suddenly sees the house catch fire. She freaks, but when she looks around, realizes that nobody else sees it! She gets this sudden urge to go see the old dude, so she leaves Char with Claudia and runs all the way to the home. When she gets there, she finds out he died last night and left her a note explaining that he was just kidding and the house was totally fine and he's sorry for lying. Okay.

When she comes outside, she is picked up by Kristy and her brothers, who tell her that they talked to the construction workers and everything weird is explained away. There was one worker left that day, who they saw in the window, and he was using a torch (fire), and the flies were actually bees (yeah, I think I can tell the difference between a fly and a bee). But it doesn't explain the fire Stacey saw that day, which is totally creepy. I think her insulin is getting to her. Anyway, Char's parents come home, Grandpa is fine, and everything is good...except for that one cold spot in the school gym. Oh and did you see that baby stroller floating by? Ooooh....haha!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books on my Fall TBR List

I have 27 books currently on my to-read list and 74 on my to-buy list. Yeah. So I'm going to split this week's Top 10 The Broke & The Bookish between those two. :)

The first 4 I actually just ordered on Amazon last Friday and should have them this week, so this is a mini-haul too lol.

1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro --fellow blogger A Bookworm Belle reviewed this the other day and it sounded so good, I had to order it.

2. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory --I got sucked back into Gregory's trashy history books with The White Queen lol, so I can't wait til this sequel gets here.

3. The Stepsister Scheme: Princess #1 by Jim C Hines --I'm not sure where I heard about this one, but it sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try. (Despite the horrible cover.) It's a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella, from Goodreads: What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with "Charlie's Angels?"

4. Vampire Academy Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead --maybe this will help me finally review the books lol. I also just finished the first in the Bloodlines series, so that has helped too.

5. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns --my stepmom suggested this one for one of my Classic a Month reads, so I checked it out at the library over the weekend and am going to give it a shot.

6. Last Breath: Morganville Vampires #11 by Rachel Caine --I just read the 10th, so I'd like to get this before I forget everything again lol. 

7. Unwholly: Unwind #2 by Neal Shusterman --this one actually just came out last week, so I'm pretty excited to pick it up. May have to reread the first though arg.

8. Divergent by Veronica Roth --so many people have mentioned this, I feel like I must get it. Soon. :)

9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky --I really want to see the movie, but I kind of have a thing against movies before books, so...

10.Cinder by Marissa Meyer --another that's on everyone's list. I feel left out lol. (eta: after I posted this, I found it cheap at Half Price woo!)

11.The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling --honestly, I'm a little iffy on this one (mainly because of the cover), but come on, it's Queen Rowling!! Can she do any wrong?? I bet she could rewrite Twilight and make it good hah!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Special Sunday Review: "Zeely" & "New Kids on the Block"

Time for another special throw-back Sunday review! As I said before, these were written for a college education class so they aren't the greatest, but I hope you still enjoy them! We have two reviews this time, because they were shorties. Hope I still got a good grade on them lol.

Zeely, by Virginia Hamilton, was published in 1967. It is about a young African-American girl and boy who go to visit their uncle in the country. They meet a girl whom they believe to be an African Watutsi queen. This book would probably be best for ages 9-12.

This book is good for teaching about diversity while not forcing the child to realize that they are learning. It tells an excellent story about judging people and becoming your own person. There was only one mention of their color, and otherwise you wouldn't know they were African, except for the pictures. It also teaches children to have pride in their backgrounds, especially young women. The girl had a very active imagination, which you don't usually see in older books. Overall it was well-written with a solid message.

New Kids in Town, written by Janet Bode, was published in 1989. This book is suitable for ages 10-15, but I think teens around 14 or 15 will appreciate it more. Many different cultures are discussed in this book, including Chinese, Mexican, Greek, and Indian.

This book is a collection teens' stories about coming to America. Each story is told in the teen's own words, so the emotions they felt coming to a strange country are conveyed quite well. These are obviously true stories, retold after usually several years in America. Some of the raw feelings, such as fear and anger, that they must have felt do not come across as well on paper as they might have when told to the author.

Some of the stories were interesting, like the one by the Vietnamese boy who came to America with his father and left the rest of his family back in Vietnam. The older teens, 18, 19, and 20 years old, seemed more interesting than the younger ones. I honestly don't think teens will like most of these stories, mostly because they are already so outdated. However, the book does do a good job of showing different cultures.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dirty Little Secret Saturday

This week's Dirty Little Secret at Under the Covers was too close to my Top 10 Confessions, so I decided to pick one from their archive. :)

What books have recently made you cry?

The latest would probably be Bitterblue by Kristin dealt with some really serious topics and it was pretty heart-breaking to read. I'll be reviewing it soon, so won't say more now.

And before that was Of Mice and Men, but honestly, who wouldn't cry reading that? You'd have to have a heart of steel not to lol. Oh and Sisterhood Everlasting...god, I don't think I stopped crying for about an hour after finishing that one!

And then there's the saddest BSC book ever: Claudia & The Sad Good-bye. :((( I miss you Mimi!!