Friday, June 26, 2015

Redeemed | by: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

*This review likely contains spoilers for those who have not read the first eleven House of Night books. You've been warned.

Despite the fact that everyone seems to hate the House of Night series (I will never understand why people who hate a series continue to read and bash the books, but whatever), I LOVED these books. Go on, judge me; I don't care. The first three weren't the best, but from the fourth book on, I was really impressed. Very few series have been this fun to read. Redeemed is the twelfth and final book, and I must say I'm sad that Zoey Redbird's story has reached its end.  However, I found that Redeemed was quite satisfying. I flew right through it.

The end of the previous novel, Revealed, was a bit crazy, so right away it's apparent that Zoey really has to get her shit together before Neferet and Darkness take over the world. In order to restore balance, she must also be balanced, and she and her friends are running out of time. Once again the Cast women write through multiple narrations to tell the story, so Zoey's resolution isn't the only one to look forward to: Kalona and Aurox/Heath notably take the spotlight at times, and I must admit that the twists revolving around these two characters truly surprised me and had me gasping/OMG-ing. (Anyone catch the 'true love' thing at the end? Anybody?) We also get an interesting new relationship.

Even aside from all this, my favorite aspects of this series are found full force. The characters are humorous and continue their growth quite smoothly, and of course, the magick. I have always loved the spellcasting of the House of Night and how it relies on the elements and circle-casting; it's so interesting and fun! Granted Nyx's vampyres tend to get in on most of the action in this department, but it always made me happy to see the humans get involved in their own way, be it through Aphrodite's visions, Grandma Redbird's smudging, or the nuns' prayers. The House of Night series has always seemed to encourage spiritual unity, and it's quite prevalent in Redeemed.

The afterward/epilogue brings a sense of finality to a series full of chaos, and I thought it was lovely to check in on the Nerd Herd as adults in action and see how they made a difference among vampyre and human communities. I realize that a lot of people hated on this series so hard because the characters are so silly... but what does it matter? It's amusing, and furthermore, there are a lot of silly people in the world. As the Cast women enforce, it's about the purity of one's intentions and whether or not they intend to do good in the world. The House of Night series preaches love and forgiveness, hence the title of the last book being Redeemed, and I'll always hold it in high regard. This long series finished up well.

"Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Top Ten Tuesday Topics

Today marks a very special Top Ten Tuesday. This meme has officially been held by The Broke and the Bookish for five years! Obviously I think Top Ten Tuesday is pretty special since it's the only meme I participate in (and we all know how many other memes there are in this wonderful, crazy place we call the Internet). It allows us book bloggers to think about our reading habits and see how we compare to others, and it leads us to exciting blogs we've never encountered before. As a blog that still doesn't get a lot of traffic, I'm always super grateful for the extra traffic Top Ten Tuesday brings because these readers occasionally lurk and I end up getting to look at there blogs as well. Granted I've only participated in twenty five before this post, but without further ado,
Top Ten Favorite Top Ten Tuesday Topics
As always, feel free to leave me your links so I can see how we all compare!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Favorite Music Videos: Part 1

Today I'm going to dive into a subject I rarely ever mention on this blog despite having such a prominent place in my life: Music videos. The spectrum of them is enormous, and I feel as though I'm probably picky about music videos. I tend to not like those that try to convey a whole plot since I just don’t think it works in such small time slots. (This is why I'm not a fan of short stories unless they're from authors like Katherine Mansfield, who tell a story of psychology rather than of extrinsic plot.) Instead, I prefer the abstract. I prefer metaphors – they can say so much without a big plot. I prefer great cinematography over chaos. I have a collection of favorites that will only keep growing, so I've decided to make this a little series of posts for me to work on off and on. For now, here's the first part, containing only five of my favorite music videos.

"Oceania" - Bjork
To be honest, when I think of my favorite music videos, Bjork's "Oceania" is often the first to come to mind (along with another that I'll discuss in another post). This also happens to be my favorite Bjork song, and fortunately, the video matches the song's oceanic beauty. Bjork is covered in sparkles as she sings from the perspective of Mother Oceania as though addressing humanity, her children. So, the video consists of underwater shots of plant life, jellyfish, and fish. It's colorful without having too many colors. Really, it's a shame that we don't really have an HD version of this stunning visual aid, but this will just have to do for now.

"The Islander" - Nightwish
"The Islander" is one of the most Finnish-sounding Nightwish songs, and in my opinion, it is their prettiest and most subtle music video. "A lone man by a seashore at the end of day" is not sailing his ship, but carrying it across dry lands, and he is haunted by ghosts as he keeps trekking. I also really love the shots of the band (which even foreshadow pipe player Troy Donockley's membership): They're sitting in a circle of fire under the moon as they revel in their  pretty acoustic music. (We can't get more old school Nightwish than that, can we?)

"Call Me When You're Sober" - Evanescence
I love a lot of Evanescence videos, so don't be shocked when half of them make an appearance in these posts as I continue this little series. However, I must note that "Call Me When You're Sober" has the only video that increases my love for the song. The band plays with the Red Riding Hood theme (with actual wolves and a figurative one), so there's a lot of red imagery, and Amy Lee is at her most badass. The video ends with her stomping across a table as the plates, food, and chairs, fly away from her feet. If that doesn't say "I'm pissed and I've had enough," I don't know what does.

"Perfect Life" - Steven Wilson
I recently discovered this beautiful song and video through The Metal Pigeon, a fantastic metal review blog (despite Wilson's music not being metal). The imagery in this perfectly-shot video is quite beautiful as it was made amid open fields. All this video consists of are shots of nature and two actresses (which, based on the narration, play the role of foster sisters who have long been separated). It's a very simple visual aid that takes its time, which suits the song very well. Everytime I watch it I can practically smell the summer air.

"There Goes Our Love Again" - White Lies
I figured I'd end this post on a more fun and peppy note with the British alternative band White Lies' infectious song and video, "There Goes Our Love Again." It's more of a performance video as White Lies remain on stage the whole time, but the most exciting performance is that of the energetic dancers, led by a tiny lady in gold. It's so much fun to watch; I dare you to view it and not feel happy.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour | by: Morgan Matson

I've decided that I don't read enough contemporary, and one lovely day when I was at a bookstore decided that I'd randomly give Amy and Roger's Epic Detour a try, especially since I'd read a number of positive reviews of it over the years and it was seriously time for a summer read. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour ended up being exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I expected with a great combination of lighthearted moments and darker emotions. It's definitely not a new favorite but it served its purpose and I really enjoyed it.

Amy Curry needs to move all the way across the United States, from California to Connecticut. She and her family need to 'start over' after her father's death, which she blames herself for. Ever since the accident Amy has refused to get behind the wheel of a car, so an old friend from early childhood that she doesn't really remember, Roger, has agreed to drive her on his way to his father's home. In search for personal answers concerning Roger's last relationship and Amy's unspoken grief, they decide to take a detour, and they go from being near strangers to something much more.

Amy and Roger's time on the road leads to a lot of growth and development for both of them. This, and their budding relationship, marks the novel's best asset: The transitions are so smooth. And really, when you think about it, the book's premise sounds like insta-love just waiting to happen since Amy and Roger are essentially all alone and sometimes have to share beds, but Morgan Matson keeps it real. Plus, both characters have their flaws, but none that make them particularly unlikeable, and they meet some really nice people on their trip. That's not to say that everyone is lovely though. Amy's mother tended to bother me even though I did feel sad for her, and let's face it, no one likes Roger's ex, Hadley. The only thing that was a little strange was how willing Amy was to telling strangers about her problems before people she knew... But then again, that's also understandable.

Not everything is resolved in the end. I realize that may bother some people but it doesn't bother me; sometimes we just have to hope that everything will fictionally work out the way we want it to. However, the ending also enforces that we really never know what's going to happen. Ever. That theme prevails throughout this book, and on one side it's bleak, but it's also exciting and full of promise. You know, deep life stuff we all love. Even though there's a lot of serious drama (is that even the right word?) going on and I got a couple tears in my eyes here and there, the road trip itself is exciting and the romance is kind of fluffy.

The way Matson lays out the novel, with Amy and Roger's travel playlists and the actual photos she took when she went to all these places, made the experience really unique. I've never encountered anything quite like it, and I don't really have any major complaints with this book. I think my least favorite aspect was the writing style, but it's not that it was bad, it just didn't stand out to me. But like I said, I really enjoyed this book, and I understand the hype. It's a great summer read, and that's just what I needed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'd Love to See as Movies

Time for another Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish; it's fabulous. This week we have one of those topics that cause us book bloggers to dream about a perfect bookish world that gives us what we want. 

Top Ten Books I'd Love to See as Movies
Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi
(A live action sequence of five films for each of the story arcs: The Dark Kingdom, Black Moon, Infinity, Dreams, Stars)
Just imagine the special effects. The galactic landscapes...
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
(Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter)
Such badassary must be translated to film immediately. Meyer confirmed that the rights have been sold, but as we book lovers know, that means nothing. Pre-production is the place where adaptations die.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
This book is an emotional rollercoaster despite being middle grade. Even though this story is full of death, it's full of youth, and it think such a story would translate really well to the big screen.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
(Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth)
If these books were movies, they'd be visually stunning, action-packed... Just all-around amazing.
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
 While I imagine this one would be difficult since a lot of the story is about Lucy's psychology (kind of like with Holden in The Catcher in the Rye), I feel like this would make a great indie film.
Crossing the Threshold by Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer
This would be a great teen movie. There's a perfect combinatino of happy and sad, contemporary and fantasy. But first more people need to read this book before it can ever be adapted.

The House of Night by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
(A six-film franchise which combines books.)
P.C. Cast confirmed ages ago that we could be getting a franchise... Unfortunately it seems as though this project has been neglected. Probably because a lot of people hate this series. BUT I LOVE IT AND I WANT MOVIES.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
(The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, The Dark and Hollow Places)

Let's all think about this for a moment; These would be some freaking frightening movies. And there's certainly a market for them since a lot of people are into the whole zombie scene. Personally I'm not fond of zombies but I love these books, so there's certainly cross-over appeal. So... why the hell not?

Let me know which books you want to be adapted! If you leave the link to your Top Ten Tuesday, I'll take a peek!