Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Beastly

Author: Alex Flinn
Release Date: October 2, 2007
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 304
Rating: 4 Cows

Goodreads Description:

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright--a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever--ruined--unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

“Beastly” is a modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which has always been one of my favorite fairy tales.  I loved the idea of someone falling in love with a beast despite their appearance.  Although admittedly, I think my love for Beauty and the Beast stemmed in part from jealousy.  The castle library guys! C’mon! It’s basically every bibliophile’s dream.  Anyhow, I have yet to read a fairy tale retelling of Beauty and The Beast yet, so I thought I’d give this one a go.  It’s been out for years now, and there’s even a film adaptation of it, which I plan to hunt for this week.  Did I mention I found this at Goodwill for $.91?  Needless to say, I couldn’t say no!

As far as YA goes, “Beastly” was a little cheesy at times, but cute.  I really enjoyed the setting though.  I loved that “Beastly” was in modern day New York City, with Linda (our modern ‘Belle’) living in a dumpy apartment with her drug addict father.  It made for an interesting twist on the classic fairy tale.  For any Gossip Girl lovers out there, Kyle Kingsbury is reminiscent of Chuck Bass; lots of money and conceited to boot.  It’s his arrogance and unwillingness to show kindness towards others, that puts him in his predicament.  A witch casts a spell on him, rendering him ugly until he can find someone to love him despite his appearance.  He’s given the deadline of two years, at which end’s time he will be stuck looking like a beast.

I liked the fact that Alex Flinn decided to include two of the characters from the movie Beauty and the Beast: Lumiere and Babette.  AT LEAST I believed that as I was reading “Beastly.”  Kyle (who changes his name to Adrian later in the book, once he’s outgrown his old mean personality) has a tutor at his new house his father sends him to.  His tutor, Will, is blind and acts as a conscious for Kyle.  He encourages him throughout the book to be a better person, and work towards the witch’s cure.  He reminded me a lot of Lumiere!  Also, Magda reminded me a lot of Babette.  In “Beastly” she was Kyle’s maid at both his old and new house.  Despite her small appearance in the book, she does play a pretty large role in the ending.  (don’t worry, I won’t spill it!)

One of the cheesier parts of the book was the online chat room discussion, that is included between each new part of the book (there are 6 parts in all).  In the chat rooms, Kyle goes by his username ‘BeastNYC’ and talks to other creatures going through transformations.  Despite it being slightly corny, it was funny.  In the conversations are other characters who display alikeness to fairy tale characters such as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, the frog from The Princess and the Frog, and even one of the bears from Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  I thought Alex Flinn created a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that was bothnew and exciting, while also sticking to some of the maincharacteristics of the Beast and Belle from the original story.  I’d definitely read this book again, and I’m in the mood to read another fairy tale retelling!  Any suggestions?  What are your favorite modern retellings of classic fairy tales?  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (74)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015

  1. I want to make a 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge, and stick to it.  Last year I made a Goodreads account halfway through the year, and never got around to updating all my books, so I am nowhere near my goal.  This year though, I’m thinking of setting my challenge to 75 books.  I know most bloggers have challenges of 100 books or more, but with being in school full time, that just won’t be realistic for me.

  2. I’m going to pick back up a weekly workout routine.  I’m usually pretty good about having one, until around halfway through each semester, when I tend to get overwhelmed with schoolwork.  My goal for 2015 is to make it to the gym at least 3 times a week.  

  3. One of my other hobbies besides reading, is scrapbooking.  I LOVE taking pictures of my family and friends when we hang out, and I love going back to look at these pictures later on.  I know it’s a lot of work when you could just look on your computer at all your photos, but there’s something about printed photos in an album that you just can’t beat.  It’s kind of like reading the actual book as opposed to the electronic version.  For me, the hardcopy is always better.  In 2015 I want to set a day aside each month to work on my scrapbooking, even if it’s for a few hours.  

  4. For 2015 I want to make Dean’s List again for college during at least one of my semesters.  

  5. As well as Dean’s List, I want to be inducted into SigmaTau Delta, my school’s form of English Honors Society.

  6. In 2015 I want to read some classics.  I’m making it a goal of mine for 2015, because it is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.  In particular, I really want to read some books by Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde.  

  7. One of my personal resolutions is to be more positive.  I find when I talk more positively, and choose to focus on the good instead of the bad, I am happier and more optimistic.  It’s such a great mood booster as well!  

  8. I’ve been thinking hard on a few weekly post ideas, and for 2015 I would really love to come up with a new weekly blog post!  

  9. I want to bake and cook more in 2015.  I know my close friends and family are probably laughing reading this, because they think I already do a ton of this, but during the school semester I really fell behind in trying new recipes and working on my baking skills!  In 2015 I want to make a resolution to take a few baking classes for cake decorating, as well as try new recipes.  I’m currently on the hunt for the PERFECT gingerbread man recipe, so if anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

  10. Last but not least, I want to make more time for God.  Whether it’s through prayer, going to church on Sundays, or just stopping in for more activities like Bible class, I want to improve my relationship with God.  I owe everything to him, and as a devote Christian, I want to make sure in 2015 I spend more time focusing on some of the important things in life, like my faith.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (73)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

These are a few of the books I wouldn’t mind seeing under the Christmas tree this year!  I know, I technically cheated on a few of them and put the whole series!  Some of them were on my list for last year that I never received, so fingers crossed this year is the year!  

Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year

1. The Hollow Trilogy by Jessica Verday
2. The Kill Order (Mazerunner #0.5) by James Dashner
3. A Game of Thrones Series by George R. R. Martin
4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
5.City of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
6.The Giver by Lois Lowry
7. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
8. Sabriel by Garth Nix
9. Black Heart by Holly Black
10. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Way of the Wombat: The Quest for the Gray Ironbark & Giveaway

The Way Of The Wombat: The Quest for Gray Ironbark

Author: AdriAnne Strickland
Release Date: February 2, 2015
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Publisher: WhomBatz, LLC

Which Way would you follow?
When Laz, a young wombat, goes from playing a game with his friend Kita in their idyllic tribal village to witnessing the nightmare of a Tasmanian devil attack, he reacts in the only way he can: he fights back. He accidentally kills a devil while trying to save his sister, but his sister is still taken captive. To make matters worse, the tribal elders banish Laz, Kita and Zeeg—the three youths who fought back—for failing to follow the way of the wombat.
Frustrated and adrift, the three friends embark on a quest through red rocky deserts and deep eucalyptus jungles to discover their own way. With a cheerful koala warrior as a guide and a wise platypus as their trainer, they hope to survive long enough to find a legendary weapon that could save their tribe and Laz’s sister from the devils. But danger lurks around every tree…
Find your own Way at!


Pre-Order Link:

About The Author:

AdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can't seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, launched in 2014 from Flux Books. THE WAY OF THE WOMBAT is her first foray into the world of middle grade fantasy adventure. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or over at her website.

Prize Ships to US Only. 
Must be 13+ To Enter
1 Winner will receive a finished copy of the The Way Of The Wombat: The 
Quest for Gray Ironbark and a WhomBat Thorn in their choice of color, red, blue or black.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: I Was Here

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Juvenile Viking
Pages: 288
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Format: ARC
Rating: 3 Cows
Goodreads Description:
Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.
After hearing countless people tell me to read Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay,” I was really excited to receive this arc of her book “I Was Here.”  Despite not getting around to “If I Stay” yet, I was eager to read my first book by Gayle Forman.  Whether it’s the movie release of “If I Stay,” or just because she’s an awesome author in general, there’s been a lot of hype around Gayle lately.   
Even though I try to avoid it, I find myself rating a book (for review later on) at random intervals in my reading.  I’ll get to a really good part (or bad) and think, this is definitely 5 cows, I have to give this 5 cows, but then change my mind later on.  Yoyo dieting is a thing, right?  So is there such thing as Yoyo book rating?  If there isn’t, I’m officially making it up! As I was reading Gayle Forman’s “I Was Here,” I bounced back and forth between ratings.  Let me explain.
I know I’m being a hypocrite by saying this, because I typically complain about the start of books being too slow, but I felt like this was TOO fast.  It started immediately with Meg’s death, and memorial services for her.  There was no time to get to know the main character (who is actually Cody, not Meg) and it made for a confusing beginning.  Within the first 20 pages, Cody is already on a bus to Meg’s apartment to clean it out.  From this point in the book stems the main plot and what leads Cody on her ‘journey’ for answers about her friend’s death.  
Another thing I really had an issue with, was character development.  While good for some of the characters (Meg specifically despite her death), most of them just weren’t done well.  I think that’s why I had a hard time liking Cody, because I just felt like there was so much more that could have been done there.  Ben was another one that I felt just wasn’t done right.  I wish we could have seen more of his life or a glimpse into it, because I would have enjoyed his character much more.
It sounds like I’m complaining a lot so far, but now here’s where I list the positives.  I thought the progression of emotions Cody goes through in her grieving was SPOT ON.  The beginning of the book it almost seemed like she was in shock, and then there was a period of denial.  She can’t place her memory of her friend Meg, who always seemed so happy, with the stereotype of someone who’s suicidal or depressed.  She even has a hard time believing Meg’s parents when they tell her Meg went through depression in the past.  Meg had told her it was mono, and Cody believed it.  
I thought the ending was great too!  I really felt for Cody, because she finally starts to grieve at the end for Meg.  Without giving away spoilers, some other really exciting things happen too (GO READ IT!) that I had my fingers crossed for the entire time.  
Does the Yoyo rating make sense yet?  Overall, I had to give this 3 cows as a result.  It was really good at times, but some of the other slow parts made finishing this book hard.  I like Gayle’s style of writing and I might try reading this again in the future, but maybe I’d have more luck with one of her other books?  Like “If I Stay?” I don’t know! What do you guys think? Has anyone read, “I was Here” yet, or another Gayle Forman book that they’d recommend?  Let me know in the comments!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Falls Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

Title: Winter Falls
Author: Nicole Maggi
Series: Twin Willows #1
Publisher: Medallion Press
Release date: December 22, 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Format: ARC
Source: MMSAI Book Tours 

Goodreads Description: 

Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small town of Twin Willows, Maine. Things look up when a new family comes to town, but when she falls for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down.

Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals.

Alessia never would’ve suspected it, but her boring town is the site of an epic struggle between the Benandanti and the Malandanti to control powerful magic in the surrounding forest.

As Alessia is drawn into the Benandanti’s mission, her relationship with Jonah intensifies. When her two worlds collide, Alessia’s forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make.

Winter Falls is an unique story. The mythology of the Benandanti and Malandanti was quite interesting and I was happy that the author included a note about the truth about the Benandanti at the end. The story got off to somewhat of a slow start to me but after a few chapters it really picked up.

Winter Falls is a relatively short read at just over 300 pages. I was able to knock a good portion of the book out in a single night. The pacing of the story also helps it to be a quicker read.

I enjoyed Alessia and Jonah's relationship. I must admit that I didn't see the turn in their relationship  coming. It took me completely by surprise but I think it did add to the story and made Alessia's choices that much harder.I'm curious to see where their relationship goes in the coming books.

One thing I wasn't crazy about was that the writing was sometimes redundant and would sometimes have two sentences when once would have sufficed.

Over all, I found Winter Falls to be a very interesting read. While I didn't love the writing style, I did enjoy the storyline and the mythology behind it. I recommend this book to fans of fantasy or anyone looking for an unique new story.

About the Author

Author Photo 1 - high res
Nicole was born in the suburbs of upstate New York, and began writing poems about unicorns and rainbows at a very early age.  She detoured into acting, earned a BFA from Emerson College, and moved to NYC where she performed in lots of off-off-off-Broadway Shakespeare.  After a decade of schlepping groceries on the subway, she and her husband hightailed it to sunny Los Angeles, where they now reside, surrounded by fruit trees, with their young daughter and two oddball cats.  Her TWIN WILLOW TRILOGY launches this December from Medallion Press; the first book is WINTER FALLS.  Her standalone YA thriller THE FORGETTING will be released in February 2015 from SourceBooks Fire.Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

Must be 13+ To Enter | See Terms & Conditions in entry form for shipping restrictions and more info.

$1 Winner will get a 50 Powell’s Book Store Gift Card (if the winner resides out of the US, they will be receive $50 PayPal Cash)

1 Winner will get the opportunity to name a character in Nicole Maggi’s in the next book she writes!

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