Friday, December 31, 2010

End of 2010 Book Survey

Well, I found this cool survey!

It was created by Jamie from the Perpetual Page-Turner. (View her original post of the survey here.)

1. Best book of 2010:
Click here.

2. Worst book of 2010:
*Dark Flame by Alyson Noel
It drove me absolutely crazy, in a bad way. The story, the main character, the writing… It was all quite, well, bad.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010:
*Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
It’s not that I don’t like this book, because I honestly do. I just expected it to be… better. Well written. More exciting and maybe even a bit darker. Instead it went at nearly the same pace as Twilight (which isn’t bad, but I just don’t think it worked for this book).

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010:
*White Cat by Holly Black
I was quite hesitant to pick up this book, because I figured it would be just an average entertainer. I had no idea how complex and unique the storyline would be, or how much I’d like Cassel, the narrator.

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010:
*White Cat by Holly Black
*The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
*Under the Dome by Stephen King
My two best friends are guys, so they aren’t going to bother reading my *girly* books, therefore no *girly* books are on this little list. I think all three of these books are entertaining enough to be enjoyed by just about the entire human population.

6. Best series you discovered in 2010:
*The Hunger Games (trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
Even if by some wretched chance the final two books are disastrous (I highly doubt they will be though), The Hunger Games (book 1) will always be enough.

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010:
*Suzanne Collins
*Michelle Zink
*Jay Asher
*Holly Black

8. Most hilarious read of 2010:
…Did I read anything hilarious? =(
Sure I’ve had some fun book experiences. In fact, I usually get a few laughs out of each book, but none were “hilarious.”

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010:
*Burned by P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast
Well, sometimes I had to put it down because it made me nervous, but other than that, I couldn’t stop reading! I never loved a House of Night book this much before! I just wanted to know everything that was about to happen RIGHT NOW.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010:
*The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
I love Stephenie Meyer, and I knew that Bree’s story would be quite tragic. That’s all I needed to get really excited.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010:
*Fallen by Lauren Kate.
Is there really a competition for this one? LOOK AT IT!

12. Most memorable character in 2010:
*Rephaim (from Burned by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast)
He’s so troubled and his form is so complex (half man, half bird). That’s quite unique. I feel for him, and quite frankly, think he can be beautiful.

*Katniss (from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
Katniss is the most amazing heroine I’ve ever read about. She’s so, so strong yet compassionate, and she’s smart. Don’t mess with her; she’s armed with a bow and arrow.

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010:
Um… This is kind of hard…

*Fallen by Lauren Kate
Even though I had issues with characters and how real everything felt, I loved how this was written. Everything felt sort of sad, but some things were beautiful.

*Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
The writing reflected the time period, and the darkness of the situation.

*The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
Many disagree with me, but I love her writing style. You can tell she’s influenced by older works, and that makes everything more dramatic and theatrical.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010:
*The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This novel never really got out of my head… it’s so morbid and beautiful…

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read:
*The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This novel is absolutely stunning; I should have picked it up at first glance!

*To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Everyone needs to read this. It’s a classic, and it is so meaningful, so good.

There was an optional book blogging portion, but that part would be sort of difficult since I've only been blogging since April and have just eight followers.

I wish you all a very happy New Year, and high hopes for 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Divine by Mistake | by: P.C. Cast

Being a fan of the House of Night book series for young adults (and pretty book covers), I was very curious about this earlier adult trilogy from P.C. Cast.

Shannon Parker is an Oklahoma English teacher. She lives in the world as we know it; the only world she ever knew. But while on summer break, is sucked into a new world by an antique vase. Within this strange dimension, she is known as Rhiannon: Goddess Incarnate of Epona. In fact, she has stepped right into Rhiannon's role, which she has no choice but to play.

Immediately, she's treated like a (very rude and feared) queen and has to marry a centaur. Despite she's not the happiest about the situation, Shannon tries to be the kind, compassionate Goddess Incarnate that Rhiannon could never be.

Soon enough, she will see that dark creatures are lurking amongst this new world, and she knows that she must do her part to stop the sinister beings for the sake of peace as well as the people Partholon.

P.C. Cast is a really cool writer. I already knew that, and I've already established this here, but I may as well say it again. Though it's obvious that it's an earlier creation, it's still extremely well written and has her signature humor. It held my attention, and oftentimes fascinated me with the plotline and mythic creatures. As usual, each character had defined idiosyncrasies that were unique from other characters of the book (although Shannon sometimes reminded me of Zoey from the House of Night, but that was only because of slight smiliarities, or maybe just the way of the narration). With that being said, this book was not bland at all.

As I mentioned, I found it quite interesting to read about the creatures of this novel. Other than an appearance or two in a a few fantasy books I've read, I've never actually read a story that included many centaurs. P.C. Cast sort of makes me wish they'd appear more, since she makes them so beautiful and strong. I'm happy she included them.

The Fomorians, on the other hand, were quite scary. I know I talk about this book like it's so great (which it is) but there are other things I need to take account for, and these Fomorians have a little bit of something to do with it. Are they creative? Yes. After all, these beings only exist in this particular trilogy. Have I ever read anything so morbid? No. Sometimes their morbidity was too much for me, and I'd prefer to look away. It's not that their freaky description of appearance scared me away, it was the whole rape issue. I really can't stand reading about events of rape, or seeing it in movies. I don't care how good the movie/book is, if I know that there's rape in there, I avoid it. It disgusts me beyond words. I'm aware that it disgusts everyone, but the idea bothers me so much... you get the idea. So creepy monsters with no sense of goodness + rape was just way too much for me.

Divine by Mistake was just about exactly how P.C. Cast described it in her little note before the story began. It held my attention throughout the entire thing and turned out to be quite enjoyable, since there were no moments where nothing was happening. Even though P.C. left us with only a small cliffhanger, I plan reading the rest of the trilogy within the year.

This romantic fantasy is an entertaining and adventurous page turner that just gets better and better.

4/5 Stars

(Possibly a 3.5/5)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Books I Read: 2010

These are the best books I've read this year! In other words, these are the books I gave 5/5 stars to throughout the whole year. (Since I just started my blog this year, not all reviews have been posted, but most have been.) Books that have received a 4.5/5 star rating are considered the runner-ups.

I read so many awesome books this year!

Best Books - 5/5 Stars:

The Hunger Games
By: Suzanne Collins

A mesmerizing sci-fi! This one had me feeling so many different emotions! It's creative, beautiful, and morbid... a tricky combination done perfectly. The Hunger Games is always in my head.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella
By: Stephenie Meyer

Um... It's Stephenie Meyer. Therefore, it's a masterpiece. Bree's little story turned out to be moving and memorable.

BurnedBy: P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast

I never thought I'd love a book from this series so much. It kept me interested the whole way through and I became so nervous I'd actually talk to the

Thirteen Reasons Why
By: Jay Asher

This novel was magnificently haunting, and made me tear up a few times. So sad. So memorable and remarkable.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
By: J.K. Rowling

When reading this series, I skipped ahead to the ones that weren't already movies, and never got around to reading this one until this year. Brilliant, as usual. All of the Harry Potter books are.

Under the Dome
By: Stephen King

I never knew it was possible to write a story with so many characters! This book turned out to crescendo from first page to last, with non-stop action, and even some meaning.

Walk Two Moons
By: Sharon Creech

This is my second time reading this since the fifth grade. Now, I realize that this is the saddest book ever written. I bawled my eyes out.

To Kill a Mockingbird
By: Harper Lee

This year, I read this classic for the first time in my life. I read it twice in 2010. The multiple themes interpreted through a child's eyes is just so deep.

Runner-Ups - 4.5/5 Stars:

By: Aprilynne Pike

I loved how innocent this novel was, as well as interesting. Throughout reading it, I just wanted to eat a can of peaches and wear a sundress, like a faerie!

White Cat
By: Holly Black

The intricate storyline made me thankful that I didn't have to write this amazing book... I would have gotten a headache from creating all the twists and turns! I was hesitant to pick it up, but it was definately worth it. Very unique.

What a great year! High hopes for 2011!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2011 Stephen King Reading Challenge

I'm going to try for the 2011 Stephen King Reading Challenge! It's hosted by Book Chick City, and you can sign up and read about all the details here. I've loved Stephen King for a while, and want to read lots of his books (I'm a bit behind). You can read six of his books (minimum) or twelve, but you can read more than twelve if you want.

I'm going to read six, since I don't really read as much as these other book bloggers per year. I'm more than likely going to chose six from this list: Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, Salem's Lot, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, Desperation. Probably some different ones will show up along the way.

You can read my review of the Stephen King novel I read this year, Under the Dome here. It was my first ever review.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Thousand Suns | Linkin Park

Linkin Park has had much success from the very beginning with their 2002 debut. A Thousand Suns is sure to draw the same enormous amount of attention that their earlier releases have, but this time, the creativity stands out like a shining star in the center of darkness. Or a black hole clouding the light.

With the very first track, "The Requiem", it is very obvious that something is quite different. Linkin Park has always been a good band... but this intro is epic. A small female voice cuts in, and this intro builds and builds into "The Radiance", which is the second part of the album's intro (it includes a quotation of Robert Oppenheimer speaking).

Before we know it, we're into the third track, "Burning In the Skies" and it's basically the first proper 'song' on the album. This is the first time, from all I can recollect, of a Linkin Park album opening with a pretty, mellow song. However, it is definately, in its sound's definition, classically Linkin Park. Clean, superior vocals, over nearly techno (but not quite) guitars and piano. Luckily for me, I consider this sort of sound to be the best part of Linkin Park.

A war-fuled intro called "Empty Spaces" leads us to "When They Come For Me". This song is more evidence of the creative diversity on the album; it is a very strange yet cool rap song, with a chorus and ending that'll make you throw your hands up. It's definately not in the same catagory as the ever-relaxing and empowering, "Robot Boy".

Just when you think you've heard the last of the intros, "Jornada del Muerto" fools you wrong, and it leads us into "Waiting For the End", which a head-bobbing repitition of piano... yet it sounds a lot like reggae. Prepare yourself so you don't get whip-lash, for "Blackout" is completely different than the previous track; it's bouncy, filled with screams, and somehow alternativey. Still, you must prepare yourself: "Wretches and Kings" is rock-rap at its best. That's right - you just experienced three completely different types of music in about nine minutes.

"Wisdom, Justice, and Love" continues to include a man speaking, just as "Wretches and Kings", but since it is yet another intro, the voice fades out creepily and desperately with piano in the background, and we are led to "Iridescent". It has the same piano used in the intro, and is absolutely a loveable song with a nighttime sound.

"Fallout" is the next and last intro on the album. It's creepy in a Star-Trek sort of way, and following it, comes "The Catalyst". This is perhaps the best songs on the album, and my personal favorite song from the band. It builds and builds throughout, and Chester's voice hovers above all others, declaring the beautiful lyrics with more meaning than anyone else ever could. It is both mellow and upbeat; it is perfect. I get chills each time I hear "The Catalyst".

Acoustic guitars rule "The Messengers" - the final track on A Thousand Suns. Unfortunately, it's technically the worst song on the album. Chester's voice can be so great, but it's quite screechy on this one, and there's not many instruments to accompany it either. However, it's meaning is enough for me. The peaceful end to a CD centered around war.

It's amazing how much this band has evolved over the years. A Thousand Suns has proved that Linkin Park is never what you expect them to be. We already know that they can make some good songs and have amazing voices and are incredibly talented. But this album is so much more than that. They have pushed the boundaries of creativity and made it all beautiful. A Thousand Suns is a constant crescendo and completely memorable.

4.5/5 stars

(I could give this a 4/5... but it seems a little low-ish...)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Introducing: Classics

This is a little project I'm going to do once in a while here.

When I review books, I try to keep them recent, and I try to stray from books people have read twenty times already (Twilight, for example). But I really enjoy reading classics, like To Kill a Mockingbird and such. Just because we've all read the classics doesn't mean we can't discuss them. I will talk about these sorts of books in ways different than how I typically review books, and basically give you my thoughts. It may be a classic, but I don't have to like it. People may have read it enough to make them roll their eyes, but I could be completely moved. I don't really like keeping random opinions to myself, and this is no excuse. If I read a book, I want to talk about it.

In my own writing, I have been influenced by classic authors. Sometimes I think they're too overlooked with all of the modern stories out there today (okay, that's basically a known fact) but I refuse to forget about them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 | Directed by David Yates | Written by Steve Kloves

It's finally here. Based on the incredible novel by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 hit theatres yesterday, and I was anxious to see it today.

Keep in mind that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Therefore, my opinion is probably biased.

Using all of the information that Dumbledore gave them, Harry, Ron, and Hermione set out to find the rest of the horcruxes and destroy them. The only hope that they have in beating Voldemort has come down to this.

But Dumbledore didn't tell them everything. There's still much to uncover, for there is so much missing vital information needed for their quest. The three don't always get along, and the fact that there's nearly no one that they can trust is as evident as ever.

This is only the beginning of the end.

First of all, let me explain the history of my impressions of David Yates as director: For the past two Harry Potter films, he has aggrivated me quite a bit. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were the worst Potter movies in my own personal opinion, and he was the new director, so I of course blamed him entirely. I was completely afraid of what he'd do to this one, but somehow confident that splitting the book into two movies would be a good choice, and make the remaining films extremely accurate to the book. After seeing this film today, I am proud of him. This film adaptation left me begging for more, and (yet again) completely obsessive over this series. Spectacularly done!

As far as technical movie stuff, this could be the most action-packed film of the series. (Throughout the whole film, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the run.) Everything turned out to be a lot like I imagined it for the most part, and all effects were believable, as usual. Just like any other Potter movie, it was superior in this area. Do I really need to say anything about performance? We've all seen the Harry Potter movies; we all know that this is the best possible cast. Our little Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupurt Grint are all grown up now, and just as amazing as ever. Everyone was. I ended up being especially happy with Bill Nighy as the Minister of Magic, but this is mainly because I've been a fan of his ever since seeing him in the Underworld films.

Most importantly, this film is an emotion worker. Of course I care about Harry Potter. I love Harry, I've always loved the books and the films. J.K. Rowling did this to us with her writing, and that always carries on in the movies. So, sure, I've had times where I've grown sad or emotional during the movies. Does any of it compare to this one? No. Once I became teary eyed. Then, at the end of the film, I flat-out cried. This is a special moment, for no other Harry Potter movie has made me cry or proved its excellence in that sort of sentimental way.

Other than all of this, I'm not sure of what to say other than how much I loved it, since that's all I can think about. Writing this is so difficult. There's so much I want to say, but I don't know how. If there was anything I didn't like, then there would be more for me to ramble about. I mean, it's Harry Potter; of course it's a masterpiece in its own right... but this one is special. The story is unique in comparison to the others in the series.

To sum it up, this film adaptation is great for everything that it is, and will not disappoint eager fans. I loved every moment of it.


5/5 stars

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dark Flame | by: Alyson Noel

Reading The Immortals series has been a bumpy ride for me, and resulted in my choice to not purchase Dark Flame and just get it from the library even though I already owned the first three books.

Ever has a lot on her plate in Dark Flame, mainly because in the last two books she basically messed everything up. Damen is still in need of the antidote, and and Jude is still there, waiting patiently. But now, there's yet another thing to worry about. She's falling for her antagonist, her arch enemy that's destroying everything: Roman.

I'm not really sure how I'm going to do this, since I've never had so many negative things to say about a book I chose for myself to read. Please bear with me.

My schedule has been busy with school and show choir, and other typical things that keep me from reading. These reasons are not the only reasons why it took me so long to read this book. Three words: Lack of entertainment.

I'm giving you a warning: I don't have many positive things to say about this book. This review is extremely bleak and complainative. There will be some positive things written toward the end (but probably not the VERY end).

The other books in this series were quite predicatable with constant reiminders of Twilight in the plot. One good thing Dark Flame has going for itself is that this time it strayed from being predictable in that way. The only time I ever felt similarities between the two book series is when Ever describes Jude in comparison to Damen (it was virtually the same way Bella describes Bella in comparison to Edward, but not as deep).

Ever was a big problem for me. It's never a good thing when the main character (who is also the narrator) is annoying or cannot be taken seriously. She drives me crazy! All she does is mess up and whine about it! Nothing gets accomplished, because of her stubborness, resilience, and lack of common sense. (I can't think of an example without adding a spoiler, so I refuse.) For the first half of the book, I thought I was going to puke out of the corniness and annoyingness of hearing about how incredibly hot Damen is. I'm not sure if I would have finished the book if she didn't stop; it irritated me.

The writing style was... was... very drama queen-ish. I think Alyson Noel tried to be dramatic in a more theatrical way... but it just didn't work. Sentences often had the same patten which had one tiny sentence have a past tense verb, and then the next sentence starts with the same past tense verb. It always went something like this: "I walk. Walk until I've no idea how far I've gone" (page 151.) There's nothing wrong with this. But when you hear this sort of thing fifty times in one novel, it becomes quite annoying. (I know, I use the words 'annoying' and 'irritating' way too much in this review.)

In addition, the seven-paragraphs-in-a-row-that-contain-one-sentence-each-about-the-same-subject-in-order-to-be-melodramatic thing got under my skin after the fifth time. Why not make it one paragraph? And I also had a difficult time feeling Ever's attraction/obsession with Roman. It felt more like she was just saying random statements like 'It's eight in the morning' rather than having an emotional issue until I was three quarters in.

Something sort of positive about meaning:
The best part of this book, however, is the general theme. More people should believe in it, because it holds such truth: Love your enemy, and be positive. We get ourselves nowhere, otherwise. I'm not going to say anymore, because it'll give it away. No matter how good or bad a book can be, I refuse to give spoilers.

Other than this bit -which is very powerful to me - I didn't care much for the general theme. (I've actually found this love theme to be a bit corny.)

Dark Flame is basically the worst of the series, and I'm so thankful I didn't purchase it with my own money. There are two more books left, and I'm honestly not sure if I even want to read them. I don't know if I care enough or not at this point. I give every series a full chance to have at least one good book, but this is too much. I'll probably continue (knowing me). I just hope it won't be a complete waste of my time.

I don't know how this series went so far downhill when Evermore was such a beautiful debut.

At least I can say it holds more meaning than Blue Moon and Shadowland.

1.5/5 stars

Noel, Alyson. Dark Flame
New York: St. Martin's Press

Monday, November 1, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 | Directed by Tod Williams | Written by Michael R. Perry

Paranormal Activity 2 is the prequal to the first, where we see what happened before we saw Katie and Micah be antagonized and understand why everything happened to them in the first place. Old seances and deals don't go unremembered. This entity is patient.

We also get to see what happens after the end of the first film!

Fans of the first are sure to enjoy Paranormal Activity 2. Both films are quite similar, though there are different characters in focus and plenty of new scares are in store. This in itself, makes Paranormal Activity 2 better than the first. Personally, it made me jump about twice as much as the first.

The actors are especially good for such a b-movie. Even if it was a high-budget film, I'd still be able to say I had little to no problems with the acting, dialogue, or general characters. People weren't as clueless as the couple in the first movie; they actually had an idea of what they were dealing with. I suppose that could make it less creepy and exciting, but fans of paranormal shows and metaphysics probably already knew what sort of entity it was from the beginning. This was my case, and that it why it didn't make much of a difference for me on the scary scale.

The only thing you'll leave with after seeing this one is that it entertained you for an hour and a half. Maybe you'll rent it afterwards or buy it, but if this film didn't make me jump as much as I did, you probably would have found it quite pointless. Scary stuff happens when you aren't really expecting it, and it's all pretty random, so it think it'll please most people.

Entertainment is all it has in store. Nothing particularly favorable, but perhaps a little bit memorable. It wasn't bad.

3/5 stars

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Reckoning | by: Kelley Armstrong

Finally, I've had time to finish up The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong, the final book in the Darkest Powers trilogy.

Chloe and her supernatural friends seem to have finally found refuge, but nothing is as it seems. Now they have more than Edison Group to worry about; there are more powerful things to fear. It is never certain as to who should be trusted and who they should run from, and the mysteries only become cloudier.

Meanwhile, all of her friends and their relationships are changing. As they make plans to escape, fight, and search for answers, Chloe is also trying to distinguish the difference between her feelings for Simon (a sorcerer), and her feelings for Derek (a werewolf) while she helps him make the Change into a wolf.

All of this chaos makes The Reckoning a page-turner with almost too many twists and turns.

First of all, I'm happy to report that none of the characters annoyed me this time! In result (and many other reasons), this is definately my favorite of the trilogy. I never knew what to expect, and didn't really care if Kelley Armstrong's writing was on the fence at times because I was so into the ever-entertaining storyline.

Yes, The Summoning and The Awakening went along with plenty of action, but that's nothing compared to this. Each time you expect Chloe and her friends to have a working plan, a big roadblock pops into the storyline. I was beginning to wonder if anything was to be resolved by the end of the book, and I was somewhat right to wonder. It's not a perfect happily ever after where everything is resolved. Life never has one of those; life goes on - so why should this trilogy? The ending may not please a large audience because of this, but I really liked and appriciated it. So maybe Chloe's life isn't perfect and still has unresolved issues, but at least she finally looks at her life in a positive way. She finds herself content with everything the way it is, and wouldn't change it for anything. It was the perfect note to end the Darkest Powers trilogy.

4/5 stars

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Apologies for the lack of reviews. I know it has been pretty slow, but it'll be back to its normal pace soon. Life outside the internet has me occupied.

The next book review will be coming soon: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Hunger Games | by: Suzanne Collins

In The Hunger Games, North America is much different than we know it today. It has become a country built on dictatorship. Each year, two chosen citizens from each of its twelve districts between the ages of twelve to eighteen must participate in the Hunger Games, where all tributes must destroy another until the last one is standing; the lucky winner that survives. For as long as it takes, the tributes kill each other, by law, where the entire country can see: Live television.

Anyone can guess from the start that the Hunger Games itself is sort of disturbing and morbid. That's plain and clear. But this year in the Games, a beautiful story unfolds...

Katniss was not chosen to take part in the Games, she volunteered, so her young sister wouldn't have to. Although many in the Capitol find the Games to be entertaining, Katniss sees how trecherous it really is. Of course, she aims to survive. How could she go down without trying? Putting up a fight? But survival means she'll have to kill humans, and what will that make of her?

The Hunger Games stands out in every way. There were parts where my heart was pounding, and even my eyes were tearing up. Never have I read about a country where acts of innocence were considered rebellious and acts of love could be against the law. Nothing is better than a book completely unique AND moving. Also, the writing in The Hunger Games is impressive and descriptive. I found myself enjoying every word in this amazing novel Suzanne Collins created.

Although this strange country helps to make the enviornment of this book even more interesting, the bulk of this book mainly revolved around Katniss's survival and her relationship with the tribute boy from her district, Peeta. This alone made this book suspensful, yet filled of emotion. Still, it was more than that. It was their thoughts on the Capitol that captivated me, as well.

Katniss, the main character, is the greatest and strongest heroine I've ever heard of. She is always the provider, the hunter, for those she cares about and for herself. Constantly, she thinks of her family, and fears dying not for her sake, but for theirs. What would happen to them if she died? Her way of thinking was fresh, yet I could relate. I admire her.

I was always intrigued by she and Peeta's relationship, because it's so hard to describe. I knew that anything Peeta said or did could only be for the cameras, and hoped that it wasn't, but I was never sure of Katniss. So often she was so concentrated on survival that I couldn't tell if she could identify her own feelings for him, so how was I to identify them? Though I sometimes disagreed with her, I had utmost respect for her.

The Hunger Games was a magnificent story. One that many will enjoy, whether you want suspense, meaning, or romance. One that you'll never forget; one that I absolutely love. I was left fascinated.

5/5 stars

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Awakening | by: Kelley Armstrong

The Awakening is the second installment in Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers book series. The debut of the series (The Summoning) was much more impressive than I expected it to be, and I hoped The Awakening would give me a smiliar feel.

Chloe knows what she is now, a necromancer, someone who can raise the dead. She also knows about the other kids that stayed with her at the Edison Group home, a place for mentally disturbed teens. But as the story unfolds, she learns more secrets about the people behind Edison Group - secrets that startle her. Chloe and her friends (a witch, a sorcerer, a werewolf) cannot afford to be too involved with Edison Group's strange studies. They're desperate to get away. That's why they have to keep running, in hope of finding safety, no matter the costs.

Just like in The Summoning, The Awakening doesn't have dull moments. Chloe and her friends are on the run, and it's hardley smooth sailing for them. There's a lot of elements for them to deal with: A missing person ad, people from Edison on guard, dealing with finances, finding places to sleep, and trying to find the one person they know they'll be safe with - who happened to disappear. To top it all off, the four of them don't get along well a lot of times. So I never lost interest.

I have mixed feeling about the actual writing in this book. Kelley Armstrong writes clearly and I understand everything she's trying to say, but there's nothing fantastic about her style. One definate good thing about Kelley Armstrong's writing style (besides writing in a way that makes us understand clearly) is that she isn't overly dramatic. She speaks soley through Chloe's point of view, and it matches Chloe's personality. However, as mentioned, this is not the best written book in the world.

Again, this series is very unique in the lack of romance, which is a good change for YA books. This leads me to characters (and relationships): In the first book, Chloe irritated me. In The Awakening, she still does, but not as much. It seems she has a tighter grip on reality, and not quite as whiney. But now I have a problem with another character: Simon. He annoys me, despite he is somehow the most likable, and I'm getting vibes that he and Chloe will have a relationship beyond friendship, but I hope I'm wrong... because I still really like Derek! If this turns into a romance thing, I want it to be different. I want Chloe to pick what some would consider to be the less attractive one. This series has proven twice to be different, why stop?

Even though this book didn't have a completely sudden stop (thank you, Kelley Armstrong, for giving me an ending where I'm hanging off a cliff), I hope to read the third installment, The Reckoning, soon!

All in all, The Awakening is unique and a lot of people will enjoy it, since it doens't follow the typical Young Adult book suit. It is a great follow-up that matches the eldest of the series, The Summoning. It does the series justice, as well as the book in itself. To my surprise, I really like this series.

4/5 stars

Thursday, August 12, 2010

White Cat | by: Holly Black

In the world created by Holly Black, there are curse workers - people who have the magic in their touch to affect others. They can change their memories, luck, emotions, and even more if you're touched by one. Because of their amazing advantages over people, a lot of them become con artists. Cassel comes from an entire family of con artists, of curse workers, yet he has no magic. It seems the only thing he has that the rest of his family doesn't is the horrid guilt of killing his best friend years ago.

Since his family are curse workers, they have power over him, but family is everything to all of them, so they never con another. But Cassel is starting to question this, as secrets unfold. And it all started with the appearance of a white cat.

I was hesitant to pick up White Cat, but I'm more than glad I did. This story is so intricate, it's difficult for me to explain. It's one of the most unique books I've ever read in my life. I don't really know where to begin.

With a one of a kind storyline, you get a main charecter that lives up to the hype. (Thank you, Holly Black!) Cassel is a very likeable charecter. His narrations are very interesting to read. He's sarcastic at times, down to earth, yet sometimes he can seem deep, and when his heart aches, you ache with him. I had no difficulty to take him seriously. An complex charecter for a complex story.

I've never read any of her books before, but from White Cat, I can tell Holly Black is a great writer. Sometimes, I'd have to go back and reread sentences, only to find that she's written the statement too well. Her writing will leave an effect on you, as if she's a worker herself, cursing us with her wonderful choice of words. She also has some serious creativity. Curse workers? How did she come up with this concept? There were so many twists and turns in this mystery-filled book, I don't know how she could have kept track of everything. I would have lost my mind trying to write this novel! When you expect things to flow like a typical book, don't. White Cat is far from typical. I was surprised and filled with complete shock over and over again.

White Cat is mysterious, suspensful, and even a bit romantic. I was completely into this book, and I'll never forget this one. In some way, each element in this story falls into the perfect places, but you'll never see what's coming.

The ending will freak you out a bit, and you'll want the next book to appear on your bookshelf. I know I can't wait.

4.5/5 stars

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Runaways | Written and Directed by: Floria Sigismondi

I grew up listening to Joan Jett. Since I cite her for intruducing me to female fronted rock and to this day think she's totally awesome, I figured The Runaways would be the drama flick for me. Therefore, I can say that my opinion of this film is probably biased.

This film is about the true story of Joan Jett (played by Kristin Stewart) and Cherie Currie (played by Dakota Fanning) and their relationship when gaining success with their all girl rock band, The Runaways. Starting from being discovered by record producer Kim Fowley, the band goes from playing in people's houses and being targets for thrown cans, to a record deal and fame. Producer Kim Fowley pushes the girls to be famous, but his effect turns out to be negative, and fails to keep the band together. Meanwhile, in their short lived fame, the girls experiment with drugs, sexuality, and with that comes problematic drama.

First of all: Wow to both Dakota Fanning and Kristin Stewart. I never realized exactly how amazing these two actresses were until seeing such raw emotion in The Runaways. Dakota plays her role well as Cherie, being in her own world and a bit strange. Not to mention comfortable in her skin, and she sang extremely well. Kristin Stewart practically IS Joan Jett; no one else could have played this part better than her. When she screamed it was powerful and true, and when she's on stage singing, you'll wonder if it's Joan herself. Brava to both of them! EXCELLENT performances.

(Let me throw this in: I wonder if Lita Ford was really that unlikable and grouchy...)

This story has just about everything to it. Fame, drugs, money teen angst, rock 'n roll, love, and anger. I loved The Runaways. As you could expect, all of the music played in the film was awesome, and really, everything about it was interesting, especially since I'm a Joan Jett fan and am also into The Runaways. However, if you're no fan of Joan or The Runaways, you may think it's a good drama or an cool rock 'n roll movie, butI'm not sure you'll get the same effect.

One of the best films of the year. Kristin Stewart should win an award for this. Dakota Fanning as well

5/5 stars

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Summoning | Kelley Armstrong

I never wanted to read The Summoning. I didn't think it would be my sort of thing, so I never picked it up - until a few days ago. Halfway through the book, at the skeloton's appearance, all of that changed.

Chloe has been sent to a group home. After an incident at school, many think she's going crazy, or has some sort of mental problem, to put it nicely. All of a sudden, she can see ghosts and they can see her. Or can she? The doctors say she has schizoprenia, and if they're right, this is all part of her illness. None of it being real. But what about the other teenagers at the group home? Are they crazy, or do they just have uncontrollable special abilities? Chloe doesn't uncover the secrets about what she is and the group home by herself, she makes friends along the way, as well as enemies, kicking off Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers series.

The beginning of this book didn't float my boat. However, unlike a lot of YA books, the beginning was interesting. Things were always happening. What I didn't like was that I couldn't relate to Chloe and I didn't care for the bland writing style. I wasn't fascinated.

But after the half point, it kept getting better and better! Many scenes from this book had suspense and kept me intrigued. Sometimes, it was all I could do to put it down! I found the other charecters to be really interesting with their odd idiosyncrasies and powers, which helped me a lot in this novel, because Chloe just isn't my type of charecter for whatever reason.

Like I mentioned, The Summoning is a lot different than most YA novels. But do you know what I love most? There's little to no romance. Talk about something different for a change! But, there are a couple of guys in here that I'm thinking maybe Chloe will end up with. And I'm happy with that, because honestly (and I can't believe I'm saying this after wanting a non-romance book), I wish there were more sparks flying between Chloe and Derek. You know why? Because I like Derek. He's my favorite charecter of the whole thing. I think she should be with him because he's not Pretty Boy, Bad Boy like all the other YA guys. He's not hot, okay? He has some serious acne and a bit of a BO problem. He's not very nice either; he's grouchy 24/7. So, I'm hoping for romance, but different.

Whether or not you're looking for a Young Adult novel that's different than most (but still paranormal) and suspensful, The Summoning is the book for you. It's the first in its series, and you'll be begging for more after the last page.

4/5 stars

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fallen | by: Lauren Kate

Fallen is the first book in its series, about Luce, a girl sent to reform school after a terrible accident she barely remembers. She makes friends as well as enemies in the strange school, and even has a couple of love interests - which brings the subject of Daniel. He makes it absolutely clear that he isn't interested in her, but she can't stop being interested in him. She's drawn to him in a way that almost feels natural to Luce, though it makes no sense. There's just something about him that is unlike any other being, but is that part only Luce's imagination?

I was really into this book from the start. For one thing, the setting of this book is quite different than I imagined. Creepy, restricted reform schools just aren't the cliche place to be these days. But, it definately lives up to the beautifully dark cover art. (In fact, this may be the best book cover I've ever seen!)

Despite it had some originality to it, I was worried of being able to predict the plot. After all, most of these YA books have been pretty predictable to some degree. A lot of my predictions were true, but the ending was shocking. I truly hope Laren Kate can keep it up in Torment. Not much was explained in Fallen, so I hope that Torment will bring more information about the angels, and Luce's past.

Lauren Kate's writing is very good, and she has crafted quite a page turner. It took a while for things to really get going in this book, but for some odd reason, I still had trouble putting it down. Lauren Kate made me curious about what would happen next, even if not much was happening. The great books always make me do somthing crazy, like stay up extra hours reading, dreaming about the book, telling characters what to do, ect. Fallen would make me read and read and read against my own will. I'd sit there and feel like I've only read for ten minutes and look at the clock, when it's been thirty minutes. I even dreamt about this book. I dreamt of Daniel, and I dreamt of feeling silky wings.

Despite being a bit predictable and kind of slow, I really, really liked this book.

4/5 stars

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Life Starts Now | Three Days Grace

Ever since 2007, Three Days Grace has been one of my favorite bands. Their first two albums stayed true to their sound, though their sophomore album, One-X seemed a bit heavier than their first self-titled debut. I suppose I had a general idea about what was in store when I got their newest release from 2009, Life Starts Now.

"Bitter Taste" is the opening track. Three Days Grace typically opens with something hardcore, and this tradition still lives. The guitar riffs are nearly epic, and the lyrics are about forgetting someone from your life. It's a typical Three Days Grace song. There's an extremely intriquing guitar solo towards the middle of the end of the song. (Which I loved!) Adam Gontier's vocals are still amazing, harsh, and scratchy, yet so powerful.

The first single is the second track, entitled "Break". It's an okay song that seems to be about getting high, but it's really not that great. Nothing particularly special, like a spark, glows from it. "World So Cold" is next, and the sound still isn't the most impressive, but overall, I like the song with it's especially clear vocals and ten second organ break before the final chorus. I have many mixed feelings about the lyrics. The only thing that irks me the most is that the lyrics are so brooding, yet I do love the line "I'm too young to feel this old" from the bridge, and I also love the lyrics in the second verse.

"Lost in You" comes next. It's different than most songs by Three Days Grace. The guitars are sweeter, and it seems to be happier than most of their songs. It gives a bit of an alternative vibe, a vibe I don't think I've ever gotten from Three Days Grace. I really like this song. It relaxes me.

Song number five is like a mash up of Three Days Grace and Nickelback. It's called "The Good Life". It's easy to sing along with, and gives the 'Look, I'm a rockstar! Party and live "the good life"' feel and has a few synthesized vocals. But I'm not really into this track for whatever reason.

"No More" is sort of alternativey like "Lost in You", but heavier. It has layers of vocals, and is clearly about living in fear. The lyrics are simple, but quite good. The guitar riffs are really cool in this one, in a bit more of a mellow way, escpecially in the intro and in the outro. I really like this one, and I think a lot of people will.

PIANO? Yes! Three Days Grace and a gorgeous piano piece whisked me away in "Last to Know". Adams voice is so soft... and surprisingly perfect for the piano. If you read the lyrics on your own, they seem really corny, but it sounds nice with the music despite that. Later on, it picks up guitar like a magnet,drums come back, and Adam's voice is harsh again, creating an awesome Three Days Grace anthem. In the end, the lyrics are stronger, and Adam's voice softens when the piano comes back for the outro.

"Someone Who Cares" finally gives us better lyrics! It sometimes reminded me of something Genesis would do, with its eerie guitar effects. It's a song we can all relate to, and Adam definately made it come alive. For whatever reason, it felt like his voice was more emotional than usual. Towards the end, it gets pretty heavy, and has a very cool outro that slowly fades.

"Bully" opens with a bunch of random kids screaming before being blown away by guitars. Despite this bad impression, and having "Bully" for a title, it's not a bad song. The vocals are slightly sythesized, and it's pretty hardcore.

The opening sounds of "Without You" are awesome. It's a really good song, but the chorus doesn't entice me. It doesn't sound right... Adam's harsh and powerful voice saying he's "nothing at all" - I can't quite take that seriously. I really liked this track, overall.

Track eleven is "Goin' Down". If you mixed Korn with Three Days Grace, this would be the product. I loved the strange lyrics, but yet again, I didn't favor the chorus. I did enjoy the verses, though, and of course, Adam's voice. (In case you haven't noticed, I am a huge fan of Adam Gontier's voice.)

For the second time in a row, Three Days Grace titled their album after the final track. "Life Starts Now" is one of my favorites from the album (possibly my favorite). The lyrics are so different than the rest of the album. For once, we hear about empowerment that doesn't sound violent. In fact, it's even optimistic! I love this song! I find it inspiring. It opens with cool sounding guitars and it ends the album on a good note.

Even though there are some songs that I'm on the fence about, I think Life Starts Now is a good album. I don't think Three Days Grace fans will be disappointed, nor will anyone else that buys it. It's fun, it's serious, it has songs that people will relate to, and plays with a few different sounds. Go check this out.

3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Fame Monster | Lady Gaga

After Lady Gaga's explosion of success with her debut album, The Fame, hopes were set high for her 2009 album, The Fame Monster. Although there are huge differences between The Fame and The Fame Monster (mostly lyricwise), this album will not let you down, no matter what.

The Fame Monster opens nicely with the quirky but serious "Bad Romance". This song is about loving someone for EVERYTHING, even the ugliest, most bizzare parts of their personality. That's probably one of the coolest things Lady Gaga could have done - open her new C.D with a song that tells you, the listener, that she loves you for ever one of your flaws.

"Alejandro" opens with a pretty but sad violin part, leading into a build up of an electronic sound. Even though this is definately not the peppy song on the album, it's one that you'll dance around the room to while croaking out the lyrics as loud as you can. In this song, Lady Gaga says goodbye to past lovers, and corrects them: "Don't call my name, don't call my name..."

The third track is called "Monster". It has most interesting lyrics... Lady Gaga sings "He ate my heart" throughout most of the song, making it better than most pop songs with its unusualness. It's filled with overlapping vocals and has a bouncy and repetative chorus.

"Speechless" follows, and I was surprised when I heard it. The main instrument is piano, and the whole song has a very pleasant vibe - it's classy, out of decade, blues meets The Beatles, mixed with Elton John. What's not to like? It's a great song for everytime of day, chilling out and doing nothing. Lady Gaga's voice is soothing, yet still fierce.

"Dance In the Dark" has a build-up of an intro. It's a meaningful song that you can dance to, just like the other tracks on The Fame Monster, but to me, it's more special than the others, mainly because I can relate to it more. "Dance In the Dark" is the anthem for girls like me that may not be too comfortable in their skin and want to hide (or dance) in the dark. The first time I heard this song and knew what Lady Gaga wrote it about, I wondered if Lady Gaga wrote this just for me. The whole feeling kind of overtook me and I cried during its amazing ending.

The party song of this album is "Telephone" and it's a duet with Beyonce. I'm not a fan of Beyonce, but she did well in this song. It's full of repeated vowels and has cool vocal effects. It ends with a sort of 'finale' of sections of vocals, and finishes with the harp tune it began with. This is the most difficult song from The Fame Monster to find the true meaning to. (Good luck, poets!)

Even though the lyrics to "So Happy I Could Die" are beyond strange and make me worry, it reminds us of something we can all relate to: Being so happy and relaxed. This track is very mellow and quite calmer than the other Gaga songs.

The eighth and last track of The Fame Monster is called "Teeth". An unusual song title for a very bizzare (but very cool) song. I'm not really sure how to describe this song, so bear with me. "Teeth" definately has a sound of its own. In a way, it's like poppy jazz, and somehow Lady Gaga can pull this off, like "Speechless". Not many artists could sound so good doing different styles, but she definately pulls it off without hesitation. One thing I find interesting about it is that Lady Gaga doesn't use stupid metaphors like other pop artists do when they try to talk about sex - she makes it obvious; clear as crystal.

The Fame Monster is full of sounds, styles, and meanings. Each song is completely unique and creative, and I loved it.

4.5/5 stars

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blood and Chocolate by: Annette Curtis Klause

Vivian just lost nearly everything in a fire. Now in the suburbs of Maryland, she struggles to fit in with outsiders and longs for friends, since her family seems to be falling apart. Then she finds Aiden, a guy especially interested in the unknown. Since they're in love and he longs for the paranormal to be true, she believes she can trust him in knowing the truth about what she really is. She believes he'd understand and still love her despite she comes from a family, a pack of werewolves, loup-garoux, to be specific.

But to tell a human is to betray her family. And Vivian is sure that Gabriel, the one who could be the pack's new leader, would not stand for it and make her live up to what she's done - despite his constant interest in her.

Choosing between werewolves and humans can equate to choosing between blood and chocolate.

Annette Curtis Klause's writing is still a form of magic in Blood and Chocolate. But, this book itself does not live up to her first novel, The Silver Kiss. To be honest, sometimes this book could be too hormonally charged for me to handle. It seemed all the main charecter, Vivian, thought of was sex. This could be quite irritating. At first, I also found annoyance in Vivian's egotistical personality, but later I could see that that was her strength. Her empowerment. She contains the confidence we all long to have.

In the end, even though her hormones are a little out of control, Vivian is nothing but caring to everyone. She tries to do what's best for everybody and doesn't pick sides, making her a memorable heroine.

There are some things about this book that I don't like, trust me. But with Annette's more than impressive writing style and an ending with such meaning, it's worth it. All in all, I really liked this book. It was empowering and showed what it means to be true to what you are, and to love people for the good and the bad.

4/5 stars

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Star-Crossed Wasteland | In This Moment

In This Moment has been one of my favorite bands for a short while now. I first heard the amazing single "Beautiful Tragedy" from their debut album (also called Beautiful Tragedy) and enjoyed that album, despite it's flaws. Their second album, The Dream, really showed me what this band is capable of. In This Moment is every extreme - from heavy to melodic, and from softness to screaming.

In This Moment's third album released yesterday, A Star-Crossed Wasteland, did not fail to show these extremes.

The first song and single from A Star-Crossed Wasteland is the heaviest song In This Moment has ever done - that is not only my opinion, lead vocalist Maria Brink has said the same thing. In fact, this song actually managed to give me a headache. It's called "Gunshow" and its heaviness isn't the only thing that makes it different. It's lyrics are also extremely different than the typical poetry of In This Moment - cowboys are the center of the whole thing, and no singing is heard. That's right. It's all screaming. Despite Maria is probably the best screamer I've ever heard, this song isn't the most tolerable if you're not in the mood to hear her make up for the loss of screaming in the previous album all in one song.

"Just Drive" is the next track. This song reminds me a lot of older In This Moment songs, and it's good to have a bit of their old sound back. Even though they've evolved, In This Moment can still pull off showing off the style used in Beautiful Tragedy.

Third comes "The Promise"; a combination of singing and screaming. The guitar riffs are especially cool in this song, and we all get a surprise. Fabulously sung male vocals from one of the guys! Both voices fit together perfectly.

Next, we have "Standing Alone". Something about this song is empowering, yet it is sort of saddening. Heavy, epic riffs echo behind Maria's strong vocals (and occasional screams).

The title track of the album, "A Star-Crossed Wasteland", is my favorite track of the ten, and the very middle of the album. Heck, it may even be their best song EVER, to my opinion. It opens with sweet, dark piano, and slowly picks up the pace. Maria's voice is especially haunting, sewing itself into the fabric of the music. And somehow, the chorus, though with more major chords, winds itself in just as well. If you were to combine In This Moment with Evanescence, it could sound something like this.

The sixth track is entitled "Blazin'". In all honesty, the bubble-gum title made me afraid of this song at first. But, In This Moment still remains hardcore, with plenty of screaming in store. This is what I would call a metalcore party song. "We're not gonna stop tonight, we're gonna burn this city down!"

"The Road" is definately not the heaviest track, but it is still In This Moment. Again, we have more backing male vocals that fit well with Maria's voice, which is quite sweet in this song. This song fades out during an impressive guitar solo that would probably blow us away during a live performance.

"Iron Army" is addictive. It's quite powerful, in term of lyrics, melody, Maria's vocals, and even the additional male vocals. It's machine-like rythm gives a Tool feel, but since it's melodic, it makes it In This Moment.

As I mentioned for "Gunshow", cowboys seem to be the center of attention. In "The Last Cowboy", you know right away. No surprise there. But, Maria does a lot of narrating in the verses, speaking of one particular cowboy. She does this very well; she should do something with narration in films. Of course, she does not narrate the entire thing. When she sings, it's the same Maria we know and love. She holds notes out and does very well, as usual.

The last song is opened with a pretty piano part. "World In Flames" is the mellow song from A Star-Crossed Wasteland, even though its title makes it seem like it would be a heavy apocalypse theme. Instead, it's about having someone there for you, even when the world is enflamed. I really should have known, because this In This Moment always ends their albums delicately with a slow one. At the end, you hear Maria below it out like never before. Between her voice and the guitars, I got a couple chills.

A Star-Crossed Wasteland is In This Moment like never before. Maria is like Superwoman, being able to both sing and scream so well. Each song is very different, whether it's about cowboys or something so, so much deeper. It is a mixture of sounds that all speak for themselves, yet they are still threads of In This Moment.

I think this may be the best of In This Moment's three albums.

5/5 stars

Monday, July 5, 2010

Spells by: Aprilynne Pike

After falling in love with Aprilynne Pike's Wings, I was very excited for Spells. I had high expectations, and Spells lived up to them, for the most part, but I don't think I felt as happy with it as I felt with Wings.

Laurel is being split in two as she tries to live in both the human world and in Avalon (the faerie realm). She doesn't want to choose between the two, especially if choosing one world over the other means choosing her human boyfriend, David, or Tamani - the faerie that has loved her ever since the beginning. But she can't remember her past with Tamani. In her mind, she's only known him for a short while, and has barely spent enough time with him to love him. Still, she feels attracted to him, but she loves David so much. And the human world.

I was really into this little love triangle in the making, and I even got frustrated because I was not as confused about it as Laurel. She did not know what to do about this problem, but my mind kept screaming: "Tamani!" Which brings me to another issue I had with: Laurel doesn't treat poor Tamani very well. Unlike in Wings, I found myself angry at Laurel during this novel, yet I can connect with her problems.

There is also much danger for Laurel to worry about as well. The trolls are always waiting to make their next move, and they'll stop at nothing to get what they want. Even if it means hurting others to get to her. So she must learn about how to defend herself and do her duties as a fall faerie as quickly as she can in Avalon, and use what she knows in the human world.

If you read my review of Wings, then you know that I thought that book was so incredibly innocent. Since the focus of Spells has shifted to more of a romantic feel, most of the innocent mood is gone. But, some of it remains. In fact, I think this book had a nice blance between its sweetness and its romance.

I loved how there was always something happening in this book. There was no big long break for a climatic part, because in Laurel's life, chaos is sort of the norm and happens off and on due to the trolls. But, at the same time, the trolls were also a setback for me. I can't take them seriously with their deformation and strangeness. They seemed more than a little corny to me, but it's really nothing to fuss about because it was a great read!

Like Wings, Spells is very fascinating and interesting, filled with love of all sorts and action. I really enjoyed it, and cannot wait for the next one!

4/5 stars

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wings by: Aprilynne Pike

Wings is the debut book of Aprilynne Pike, and the first installment of its series that is to be four books long.

Laurel isn't a typical teenage girl, but she hardley realizes it. Sure, she eats fruit all the time, and doesn't care for candy bars. She also feels uncomfortable when she isn't around the sun, because she loves sunny weather. Are these idiosyncrasies or are they a sign of something... unnatural?

When she discovers petals growing out of her back, she and her friend, David, search for answers. But no one in this world as we know it would be able to explain this, because none of them know about the existence of faeries. Laurel and David are uncovering the truth about what Laurel is, the past she can't remember, and the dangers that await Laurel in result of what she is.

I loved this novel. Aprilynne Pike is truly a great writer; nothing written in this book bothered me, and we all know that I have pet peeves. At some points, I found it difficult to put down; I had to know what would happen next. The faerie realm that Aprilynne Pike created is very interesting and described as very pretty, full of the best parts of nature.

What stuck out above anything else about Wings is how sweetly innocent it is. The focus on love isn't as unmistakable as the focus on friendship. Laurel is scared of being in love with David, because she never wants to lose him as a friend. She wears sundresses and is around fruit and flowers, since after all, she is a faerie - the most innocent creatures I've heard of. When I finished this book, I wanted to eat a can of peaches while wearing a sundress.

4.5/5 stars

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse | Directed by David Slade | Written by Melissa Rosenberg

Fans of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga pre-ordered tickets and waited in line inside and outside movie theaters yesterday, in rush to see the third film, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. (I pre-ordered my tickets and waited in line for about an hour) Eclipse is directed by the horror film director, David Slade, and that is obvious throughout the film, and it gave it a darker side than the previous Twilight films, but there was still plenty of romance in store.

Bella, the wolf pack, and the Cullens all have to worry about a couple of things. First, they have the vengeful vampire, Victoria, trying to kill Bella (the usual). But now, there is a new problem... a big problem. Murders are skyrocketing in Seattle, and people are missing left and right. This is no work of a serial killer, but an army of newborn, bloodthirsty vampires.

And of course, you have the love triangle between Bella, Jacob, and Edward added to the mix. This is the main reason why males do not get into the Twilight sort of thing... but I am a girl that does not typically take love triangles seriously, so this is coming from a strange viewpoint: In the movie, I really did get into the love triangle thing, but sometimes it can be a bit overdramatic, for one reason and one reason only: Taylor Lautner. No, Jacob/Taylor fans, I am not picking on him. He has good intentions and so much to bring to the films. I really can't picture anyone else as him, to be completely honest. But at times, his acting can really make things kind of dramatic and corny, as if he's trying too hard.

So, with a perfect balance of romance and action, the Cullens and the werewolves team up into stopping the army of vampires, and all the while, dealing with Victoria. This movie has something for just about everybody. Not only that, but Kristen Stewart's narrations are amazing as usual, as well as her acting. Well, everyone played their parts really well just like any other time (except Taylor could be a bit irritating at times).

Since I have read the entire Twilight series, and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, I do have a biased opinion of the film. There are some parts that I think should have still been included or improved, like Bree Tanner saying that she surrendered to the Cullens, and the better parts of this love triangle, but that's the way movies go. Books are better than movies majority of the time, and that fact stands its ground here. There, I said it, I liked the book better...

But, I loved this movie immensly! It is a great compainion with the book, but I don't think people that see the movie and didn't read the book would have gotten the same effect. That goes for all of the Twilight Saga films.

I loved it. I loved it. I loved it.

However, my opinion is biased, and in my head I'm always going to think: "I loved the movie, but I the book was better." That is why I don't want to give this film a rating, because my opinion changes every minute. I encourage all to go see it (and maybe read the book first), because it is probably the best of the films, it's worth it... AND IT'S JUST AWESOME!

4/5 stars

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fallen | Evanescence

"Now I will tell you what I've done for you" is the opening line to Fallen, which makes it sound as if Evanescence's lead singer, Amy Lee, is about to tell a story. "Going Under" is the starting song, and Amy's voice goes very low and quite high in this song, as well as the rest of the album. "Going Under" was a great pick to begin the album.

Next comes "Bring Me to Life", a duet with the lead singer of the band 12 Stones. This track begins with piano and cresendos into a new sound, filled with booming guitars, Amy's strong voice, and Paul's vocals (that are more like rapping). The sound remains similar, though not as deep or dramatic, into "Everybody's Fool". The lyrics are angrier, but still incredible. And, as usual, Amy's voice stands out above everything else.

The next song is a slow one, the main instrument being the piano. It turns out Evanescence can make acoustic music with as much brilliance as their heavier tracks. "My Immortal" is sad, and seems to revolve around death and loss... but at the same time it is about something, or someone, that lingers.

Creepy and snythesized effects come next in the song "Haunted". Amy's voice seems to be sewn into the first couple of lines, and then BOOM! All of a sudden, the music is loud and the guitars are back. Unlike the other songs, the drumline in "Haunted" really sticks out.

An airy intro leads into the following song, "Tourniquet". This may be one of the darkest songs from Fallen. After all, it is a song about suicide. Amy Lee's voice soars and carries the music behind it. At some point, she surprises us all by screaming "I want to die!" The string outro from "Tourniquet" leads straight into "Imaginary", one of the best and most influential songs from Fallen. The guitar riffs are melodic and unearthly, and as usual, Amy's voice is delicate, yet so powerful at the same time. Nothing could ever break such an amazing voice.

"Taking Over Me" is about obsession. The effects behind Amy's voice are electric as her voice sounds the desperate lyrics. It is not the best from Fallen, but it is still amazing nontheless.

Now we dive into "Hello", a much different experience than the earlier tracks. For nearly the whole song, all the listener hears is Amy's piano and voice. This song holds so much meaning, so much despair, it should be no surprise that it was written about a tragedy that effected Amy Lee. Everything about this song is beautiful.

The tenth track is called "My Last Breath". It is particularly deep, and the most romantic song on the album. It is heavy and melodic, as most of the album, but there is something special about it within the lyrics and melody.

Last comes "Whisper", the darkest and heaviest song from Fallen. The opening guitar riffs are like classic Evanescence, edgy and awesome. Every lyrics is dark as a pit, but sung so gracefully, which helps to make it one of the most epic songs I've ever heard. A fabulous ending to the masterclass album.

Truth to be told, Evanescence is my favorite band, and Fallen is one of the best albums I've ever heard, if not the best. I love this album more than I could ever tell you; it means so much to me, and is truly extraordinary.

Epic, beautiful, and emotional, with a hard rock/symphoniac/electronic sound.

5/5 stars.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Opheliac | Emilie Autumn

Emilie Autumn is lovely, despite her artfully deranged appearance. The same can be said for her music on the album Opheliac, and if she's anything else like this album, then she's also deep and sarcastic - with a sort of elegance to it all.

Opheliac opens with a harpsichord intro, but then leads into a symphoniac industrial sound, with the perfect opening lyrics: "I'm your Opheliac." The next track, "Swallow", is peppier though the lyrics are still unhappy. Emilie's voice sounds sweet and light througout.

"Liar", the third track, is wickedly disturbing. It starts with Emilie's infamous electric violin, eerie as ever. In the previous tracks, you are almost afraid NOT to love her. After hearing the lyrics "I want to mix our blood and put it in the ground so you can never leave" you will be afraid to love her. "The Art of Suicide" follows; a creative and melodramatic harpsichord song. This is one of my least favorites, for there is simply not much memorable to it, musically.

"I Want My Innocence Back" is an electronic, angry song. Emilie Autumn sings, growls, and screams with more meaning than anyone else could possibly project over the spooky, thick music behind her voice. This is one of my favorite songs, and it leads into "Misery Loves Company", which is another of my two least favorite songs from Opheliac.

The next, seventh track is "God Help Me". It begins with a bouncy vibe, but it turns into something much more serious within seconds. It soon breaks down into an electric storm of chants for help. The vocals in this song stick out for being some of the best on the album, but not as much as the next song, called "Shalott". "Shalott" is one of my favorites from the album. Emilie's voice is at a gorgeous peak, the music is very pretty, and the lyrics are more than superb.

"Gothic Lolita" is a nice song, though the verses are sung too long, though the verses themselves are typical size... if that makes any sense. "Dead is the New Alive" is quite the tune. Clearly, it is about death and obsession. Though the lyrics are clever, it is definately not the greatest she's done.

Next comes "I Know Where You Sleep", which happens to be the very first track I'd ever heard by Emilie Autumn. The first few times I heard it, I couldn't help but laugh. It's a bit ridiculous. The lyrics are sung extremely fast, and Emilie sounds like a mad scientist rather than a singer, shouting "I know!" Like "Dead is the New Alive", it is clever, (and in this case amusing) but not her best.

Opheliac ends with "Let the Record Show". The mad scientist feel is still there, but in a much better tone. The song is still angry, even desperate, about a victim getting revenge on her killer. The music is very interesting and memorable, and I enjoyed it very much; it was a very good ending to the album.

Opheliac is wonderful and artistic. It is unlike anything I've ever heard before, and even a bit strange. I enjoyed it immensly and am hoping her new music will be as awesome.

4/5 stars

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella | By: Stephenie Meyer

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is indeed a short story of only 178 pages. It is about a newborn vampire, Bree Tanner, who already appeared in Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse, and all that she faces with the coven of vampires she lives in. She tries to stray far from the wild, untamed vampires she lives with, for she is much different than them. But just as she is starting to see the truth of the world of vampires, her creator (whom she does not even know the name of) and their coven's leader is preparing the little army for a stand-off against the Cullens.

Throughout The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, it is not hard to stay interested. Stephenie Meyer is just a writer that can make you want more. Bree is quite a different vampire in comparison to the others that surround her, as well as different from the Cullens that we know so well from the four novels of the Twilight saga. To be honest, the bulk of this book, though interesting, was dull.

But, it IS Stephenie Meyer. Since when has she ever disappionted her fans?

Twilight readers (like me) know the outcome of this story. They know ahead of time that it is tragic. Reading this book will make you even more sad, and feel even more for Bree; because that is what Stephenie Meyer does to us - she makes us care. In the end, you will suddenly care so much more for Bree that you want the story to end differently, and the whole book is suddenly worthwhile. Incredible.

5/5 stars

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Burned by: P.C. Cast + Kristin Cast

Burned opens darkly written, and well written at that. A thick, haunting, epic mood is among the first chapter - a beautiful introduction. This entire novel is dark, but since this is the first impression, it is given more recognition.

As we House of Night readers know, Zoey's soul has shattered. Since she is practically the most powerful High Priestess, this is a problem. She needs to be alive within her body to fight evil and Darkness in the name of Nyx. Together, her friends do all that they can to try to bring her back before it is too late.

The Cast women followed the trend they started in the previous House of Night novel, entitled Tempted, which they write about many of the charecters in third person in addition to Zoey's first person narration. Since Zoey's first person takes minimum space, the main focuses are around Stark on his quest to bring her back from the Otherworld, and Stevie Rae.

Stevie Rae is hiding a secret, and she must lie to all in order to protect that secret. As a matter of fact, she will do all that she can. She is the kindest being of all of them, trying to convert someone that knew only Darkness to Light. But that isn't easy, especially being so stressed out about Zoey and boy issues.

Love can be found in the strangest of places.

If I could tell P.C. and Kristin one thing, it would be "Wow." Because Burned is the best House of Night novel yet! Everything about it was superb, magical (well, in this case, magickal), and even a little bit meaningful. It amazes me to see how this series has evolved from something so simple, to something so majorly complex. I must include, on a more personal note, that I love how Stevie Rae is put more toward the spotlight, since she is my favorite charecter. She and Rephaim (my second favorite charecter) literately stressed me out! I was so nervous that I went crazy! I was talking to the book, telling Stevie what to do, how to act, etc. as I rocked back in forth on my bed and snapped at anyone who interrupted me. No book has made me feel that way since Twilight.

Well done, P.C. and Kristin, and thank you for entertaining me. Burned is now my favorite out of all seven of the current House of Night novels. I cannot wait for Awakened!

This is the very first book from this series that I've given this rating:

5/5 stars

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Avatar | Written and Directed by James Cameron

When I first saw trailers for Avatar, I thought it looked like a bunch of uncivilized Smurfs running around. Then... it all just started to look... pretty.

Scientists are learning the ways of the residents and of the natural features of the planet called Pandora. A few of them are actually experiencing what it's like to be those residents, the Navi. The humans (that are aliens to the Navi) seem to be disturbing them. Destroyers of their planet, the planet which they love very much. But will all of the humans remain loyal to the purpose of destruction to Pandora?

Avatar was beautiful and brilliant; a story like no other. It was crafted with care and born unique, and thank goodness the actors and actresses did the film justice. The world of Pandora is unlike anything I could imagine with its naturally illuminated forrests and facinating People. They way they believe in things is faith like no other, and their love for the forrests and their planet in general is so strong, it makes me jealous. It is a story of everything - love, war, moral, and knowing where you belong. James Cameron has proven to be amazing since his work for Titanic, but Avatar surpasses it for all that it is - the creativity, the beautiful story, the meaning. It is the best film of 2010 and one of the best science fiction creations.

I loved it.

5/5 illuminated stars

Beautiful Dead: Jonas | By: Eden Maguire

Darina's boyfriend, Pheonix, just died. He is the fourth student at her high school to die within the year, and his death is just as mysterious as the others. Of course, Darina is devastated. She lost the person she loved most, and although Pheonix is dead and buried, she begins to see him (alive). It doesn't take long for her to start to see her other classmates that have died that year as well.

Or is it all her imagination? After all, she is traumatized and depressed and her shrink says it's common for people to "see" the people they love that died. But Darina's case is different. She saw them all chanting something about the Beautiful Dead... and what was with the sound of wings beating, anyway?

Darina races against time to uncover the mysteries behind the deaths of the young people she knew that are now known as the Beautiful Dead - for their sakes and for the sake of holding onto Pheonix for as long as she can.

At first, Beautiful Dead: Jonas started out a little shaky for me. It fufills its purpose to entertain, and all of the meaning is held at a mild state. It is a tale about loss and what it means to truly love someone and lose them.

The imagery is great, except sometimes I'd have to read action filled paragraphs over again because it was not written in a particularly crystal-clear way. The charecters are defined well for the most part, but it is definately not the greatest story I have ever read. The storyline is not predictable, but it does not hold surprise either. It's kind of a bland book.

As I said, it started out shaky, but it kept getting better as I read through chapters. That is why it is so difficult for me to rate. I keep racking my brain, and I know for sure that it is somewhere around a 3, 3.5, or possibly a 4/5 stars.

The final verdict:

3.5/5 stars.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by: J.K Rowling

Harry Potter, the infamous wizard, returns for his third year at Hogwarts in a bit of chaos. First, there was an incident with of his aunts the previous summer that may have caused him to get into big trouble. Then, more significantly, he learns of a criminal that escaped from Azkaban prison right before he returns to Hogwarts. No one has ever escaped from Azkaban before until now. And worst of all, this murderous prisoner, named Sirius Black, escaped to come for Harry. Surely, this prisoner won't be able to come into the castle with all the precautions being taken. dementors, which are grim and horrific creatures, surround the castle in hopes of finding Sirius Black. But what if the others are right? What if Harry goes looking for Black? But Harry doesn't understand why he would have a reason to...

But, things aren't always as they appear to be. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, secrets of the past are unleashed, and these secrets could change the future, and consequences could leave room for changing the past.

This third installment of the Harry Potter series is filled with magic and mystery. Everything is unexpected, so I was always eager to keep reading. Sometimes, I couldn't stop. J.K Rowling is a phenominal writer, as we already know, and it is evident here. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has an amazing amount of entertainment within its pages, and with the entertainment comes meaning. That can not be said for most books, especially when they are in the middle of a series. Harry Potter in the Prisoner of Azkaban is truly epic.

5/5 stars

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Fame | Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga's debut album, The Fame, opens with "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis). It's a fun, party song and a fabulous introduction. From there, the listener is led to the more electronically serious songs, "Lovegame", "Paparazzi", and the infamous, "Poker Face". "Lovegame" is a bouncy, but somewhat stern track, which is perfect to lead to my favorite song from The Fame: "Paparazzi". "Paparazzi" is modern electronic art at its best, with its psychotically awesome lyrics and hardcore electric riffs. It's also one of the more mellow songs from this album, and it's quite phenominal in its strangeness and edginess. Anyone who listens to this and doesn't know that Lady Gaga is going to be as big as Madonna is crazy.

After the infectious "Poker Face" comes "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" - my least favorite from The Fame. It's a cute and corny short track, and is followed by a funky track entitled "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich". The next two songs are "The Fame" and "Money Honey". Both are materialistic songs that are obviously centralized around fame and money.

"Starstruck" includes Space Cowboy and Flo Rida. Flo Rida ruined the cool Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy Effect for me, but I'm sure most will disagree.

I liked "Boys Boys Boys". One of the things I've noticed about this album's lyrics is how Lady Gaga uses an unusual amount of imagery. That imagery is evident in this track, but it doesn't make this track as memorable as the others. "Paper Gangsta", for example, is one of the songs from The Fame that I find most memorable. The idea of combining piano with an edgy electric rythm was a very good idea, Ms. Gaga. This leads well into the blues-ish song, "Brown Eyes".

"I Like it Rough" is hard for me to understand lyric wise.

The ending note is track fourteen, "Summerboy". It's one of my favorite summer-based tunes, and a very nice end to The Fame, being one of two of the most innocent songs on The Fame.

From beginning to end, Lady Gaga experiments with sound and styles. All in all, she sings of love and fame in the most creative and visual of ways. It's catchy, it's classic, and it's the face of modern electronic music. This album is a very memorable piece of modern art in my collection of C.Ds and millions all over the world - let alone defined the future.
4/5 stars