Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: The Iron Knight, by Julie Kagawa (Finally!)

Title: The Iron Knight
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pub. Date: October 25th 2011

Read the first 20 pages HERE! (plus a sneak peak at the first book of Julie Kagawa's new Blood of Eden series: The Immortal Rules

Being someone who was only introduced to Faeryland fairly recently (You can find my reviews of the other books in this series here: The Iron King | The Iron Daughter | The Iron Queen), the Nevernever was still fresh in my mind when I picked up The Iron Knight, by Julie Kagawa, and embarked on this impossible quest with Ash and Puck. Still, I cannot say I was prepared for where this journey would take us.

I knew some things would come to pass, of course. For one, we were getting a new perspective. Ash was setting out to find a way to be able to remain in the Iron Realm with the girl he loved without it killing him. It was as inevitable that he would either fail or succeed as it was that he and his companions would fall into numerous scrapes along the way.

I was happy to see Grim trailing along for this journey as well, as he's always been a constant favorite. With Ash not knowing where to start, exactly, hunting down wise, old Grimalkin was the most likely way to be pointed in the right direction. Why? Because being a cat or, rather, cait sith, seems to mean you know everything, and if you don't (which is very rare) you know how to find out.

And then there was Puck. As all good knights do, Ash needed companions to go on a great quest with. With the history that surrounds these two fey, and the fact that Puck has been around for the past three books – the last of which, while not necessarily ending with them on better terms, had them not wanting to rip each other's throats out for the time-being, which was a plus – so it only made sense that we'd see him traipsing along beside our hopeful Winter prince. Of course, with him tagging along, and we being in Ash's mind, this meant we were bound to stir up some old memories.

And boy, did we. I won't go into great detail, but a face from the past was brought in to show Ash and his motley crew (which, by this time, also included the Big Bad Wolf, who I figured I was bound to hate, based on all the usual legends, but actually turned out to be one of the more honorable characters in the series. I have a thing for honorable characters. Plus, him and Grim were hilarious together.) just how he could find what he was searching for.

And then, the five of them were off, embarking on a quest to find Ash a soul so he could become human.

I thought it was refreshing, to read this tale from Ash's point of view. I've always enjoyed hopping into the guy's (or girl's, if the main lead is a guy) mind in any given series. It adds a whole new part to the character that we would not necessarily get from the lead girl's POV. Especially when the guy is a character as reserved as Ash is with certain aspects of himself. A lot of his conflicts have always been internal, and to get to see him play them out in his own head was a treat.

One of the other things I liked (Ok, LOVED! I'm a total fan-girl for this sort of thing.) was the bromance between Ash and Puck. I've said it before (in my Iron King review, actually), and I'll say it again: I love it when characters feel the need to deny their love for each other. This goes double for bromances.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Review: Cinder and Ella, by Melissa Lemon

Title: Cinder and Ella
Author: Melissa Lemon
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Pub. Date: Nov. 8th, 2011

Read the sample here!

If you drink water and breathe air, then you have heard the story of Cinderella. And, if you drink water and breathe air, you have heard it . . . wrong.            {Cinder and Ella; p. 1, first sentences - Kindle Edition}

When I first learned of this book during my early days of traipsing through the treasures NetGalley has to offer, I was intrigued immediately. I've always been fond of fairy tale retellings, when done right, and this particular story was offering a spectacular twist in one of my favorites.

The idea that Cinderella was not one girl, but two sisters (the Cinder and Ella of the title) left me wondering how they would take the story of one stepsister-turned-servant-girl and format it to fit two separate personalities. Such a thing (to my knowledge) had never been undertaken before in the retelling of a fairy tale, and trying to figure out how the author would approach it had me eager to pick this book up.

Once I started reading, I quickly learned this was no simple retelling of the tale at all. The description of the story was brief, so I had not been prepared for this – or for the intrigue that would grip me tighter the more pages I turned.

Cinder and Ella is the story of two middle sisters who, after their father's disappearance and their mother's subsequent shut-down (she merely sits at a spinning wheel paying only enough attention to her daughters to call for another), are forced to take the reigns in their family. Cinder (who is kind, goodhearted, and eager-to-please) is more than willing to take care of the others, and give them the attention they think they need. The more independent, fiery Ella thinks they should stop acting like children and learn to do things for themselves.

When Cinder goes off to work at the castle (because, well, somebody needs to provide for this dysfunctional family), she leaves her family's care in Ella's hands, but it soon becomes to much for Ella to bear, so she takes off -- literally walking right out the door leaving her sisters and mother screaming, in search of something else.

It's not long before she's dragged back home, however, to face the nefarious plans of a certain Prince Not-So-Charming, and that's when the real craziness begins.

It was simply mind boggling to read this book. I had no idea which way was up. Melissa Lemon weaved such a dark, twisted tale beneath the innocent tone of a fairy-tale narrator, I was left little time to process the story, yet I just could not put it down. From the moment I opened the book, I had to know more.

Even if the fairy-tale style narration was a bit irritating at times. Though that is part of what made this story so interesting, the style made the story seem too young, which greatly conflicted with and distracted from the darker themes, in my opinion.

For the most part, I enjoyed this story. I blazed though the pages, which is always a great thing in any book, and the story was most definitely original.

There are some things that I wished were focused on more and explained better, like the prince and his tree's indestructibility (I did not buy the whole: he's just so evil now, you cannot defeat him), or the connection of a person to their tree – a very intriguing concept that I don't feel was explored as fully as it should have been, in my opinion. For the most part, it was explained well enough, but I'd like to have known, in particular,  why chopping Ella's father's tree down had no adverse affect on him if people are, indeed, so connected to their trees.

Also, I feel the mother's fusing of Cinder and Ella to Cinderella was too hastily done, and I don't think it was explained properly why, upon fusing the two girls, the mother completely forgot the look of one of them. Or, another thing, how were the mother and two daughters left in the family home able to survive, when they seemed so incapable of fending for themselves before Cinder and Ella left?

I wasn't too fond of the ending. The bad guy, in my opinion, wasn't really defeated. Were this any other book, I'd say this seemed like the opening for a sequel (though I don't believe that to be the case, here), that's how little of a conclusion it felt to me. And that brings us back to the whole indestructible-prince thing.

"It no longer has the capacity to produce goodness, and therefore it is no longer vulnerable to anything."  {Cinder and Ella; p. 260 - Kindle Edition}
That was the explanation in reference to the Prince and his tree. I'm sorry, I know this is Melissa Lemon's world, but that is something I absolutely refuse to believe in, even in fiction. Especially in fiction, where good is supposed to trump evil.

As I said before, for the most part, this book was enjoyable.

I loved Ella's romantic interest, the bumbling knight, Sir Tanner, though his awkwardness did seem a bit forced at times. He was a major klutz, which I found endearing, especially at times when he was trying to help Ella and, say, practically tossed her over a horse. Still, he was willing to do anything to ensure her safety, and even a stint in the castle prison couldn't keep him away for long.

I also loved seeing Ella develop as a character. Again, though, this is something that seemed forced, and even rushed at times, but the end result was favorable. She was not one of the nicest of people to her two spoiled sisters. Being a sister myself, I could somewhat understand her frustration, but Ella acted almost as bad as those two in how she handled them. When the book came to an end, though, after everything Ella had gone through, she came out more mature. Possibly, even, better equipped to deal with those opposing personalities.

Overall, I liked this story. It kept me entertained, but I wasn't in love with it. I would rate Cinder and Ella 3.3 Crazy Hearts, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, dark, twisted fairy tale retelling(-ish), because this book is definitely worth a read.

Cinder and Ella

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Book Boyfriend (7) Thierry Descoudres (or so it looks now)

Hey Pretties!

So last week we asked you which of the remaining Night World (by LJ Smith) guys you would like to learn more about. The winner? Thierry Descoudres!

So, Thierry is this week's My Book Boyfriend (a meme hosted by Missie at The Unread Reader). Hope you guys enjoy him! :)

Thierry Descoudres:

* First Made vampire (from back in caveman times),
* which makes him older than Hell, though he only looks to be nineteen.
Our Thierry is played by Jesse Spencer.
Thierry tried to look past his own reflection in the window. It was disturbing, seeing that young man with the white-blond hair and the old, old eyes looking back at him. He had such a pensive expression ... so lost and so sad. {Night World No. 2, eBook p. 279/412}
"He might have been handsome in other circumstances. His hair was very light blond, lighter than the dry grass of the steppes. His face was well-made; his tall body was lithe. Hana could see almost all of that body because he was only wearing a brief leather loincloth. That didn’t bother her; everybody went naked in the summer when it was hot enough. But this wasn’t summer; it was spring and the days could still be chilly. No sane person would go traveling without clothes." {Night World No. 2, eBook page 296/412} 
* It took from shortly after he was turned 'til when the book took place (in the 90's) to finally get together with his soulmate (Hannah Snow), as she died in many, many incarnations before they could.

* He loves his soulmate, which is sweet and all, but he doesn't always take into account personal boundaries in regards to the fact that she really doesn't know him (or really care to, there for a while), and what she may remember from her past lives might not always be favorable (let's just say she didn't exactly die of natural causes). Because of this, he tends to resort to lurking in the shadows (to protect her) and randomly popping up unbidden and unwanted.

Why We Love Him:

Jesse: I think the reason I love Thierry is because he's so sad and guilt-ridden all the time. But it's not in an obnoxious sort of way. He has his reasons for feeling guilty. I mean, he slaughtered an entire village, including his soulmate, after he was forcibly turned into a vampire by that evil beyotch Maya. And then there's the fact that he runs Circle Daybreak. It's got to be a huge responsibility running the organization that will someday save the world...

He literally follows his soulmate Hannah throughout time. Whenever she dies, he vows to find her again. That's a testament to how strong the soulmate bond is. After hundreds, and thousands, of years Thierry never stops looking for Hannah. Not once. That also makes me love him just a little bit more!

Kira: Because he doubled his driver's salary just for handing him a plain old Bic (you know, the, like, 10¢ pens?) after his $800 pen died.

Seriously, though (though that is what sold me on him). I think what I love most about Thierry is that he is so not what everyone else seems to think.

If you remember back to a couple of weeks ago, when we did Ash Redfern for our Book Boyfriend, I said something along the lines of how I really didn't like him in the beginning. This is why:

In the very first night world book, upon learning that his cousin Jamie had (seemingly) broken all of the Night World's three major no-no rules (all of which are punishable by death for all parties involved) for his soulmate, Poppy, Ash decided to take Poppy to one of Thierry's parties to expose her (though he claimed it was just a joke). Thierry, of course, being an Elder, those who make and enforce the rules of the Night World, and thus a vamp to be feared.

So, basically, this is why I love Thierry (please excuse my horrible paraphrasing, as this scene never actually occurred):
Jamie and Poppy: No! Thierry must not know! He'll kill us!
Thierry (though we don't really find this out for a few books): Uh, guys? Yeah. I've been searching for my soulmate for, like, forever, and she's been human, let's see: ...1...2...12... Yeah. Every single time. I think you're safe.
Thierry's soulmate, Hannah, has been reincarnated many, many, many times since shortly after he was made. Just for clarification.

The Quotables:

"Thierry made a practice mark with the pen. No ink came out. He stared at the nib of it in mild disbelief. 'You buy an eight-hundred-dollar pen and then it doesn’t write,' he murmured." {Night World No. 2, eBook page 280/412}

"He said very quietly in the driver’s ear, 'Do you have a pencil?'

'A pencil?'

'Something that writes, Nilsson. An instrument to make marks on paper. Do you have one? Quick, because if I lose this connection, you’re fired.'

'I’ve got a pen, sir.' One-handed, Nilsson fished in his pocket and produced a Bic.

'Your salary just doubled.'" {Night World No. 2, eBook page 280/412}

"Funny, Thierry thought, how you never realized how accustomed you were to being obeyed until somebody defied you." {Night World No. 2, eBook page 288/412}

"The first sight of her broke through his animal state and gave him enough mind to stand up like a man." {Night World No. 2, eBook page 340/412} - This one makes me go "awwwww!" every time!

"People were gathering behind Thierry, murmuring anxiously. They were about to interfere and ask him to please let go of the girl he was strangling.

He ignored them.

Listen to me, he told Maya, staring into her mocking golden eyes. Listen, because I’m never going to say this again. If you touch Hannah again—ever—in any life—I will kill you.

'I’ll kill you,' he whispered out loud, to emphasize it. 'Believe me, Maya, I’ll do it.'" {Night World No. 2, eBook page 348/412}
Pick Our Next Book Boyfriend:

You guys did so well helping us pick out this week's awesome guy, we figure'd we'd put it to you again.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

TGIF! Feature, and Follow Friday (15)

Another week, and another round of our favorite memes. This week's questions from Feature, and Follow Friday (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and TGIF (GReads!) are holiday themed, which is fun. I know that I'm looking forward to seeing what books everyone is thankful to have received, or slapping on their holiday wish-list.

Ready for the fun?

Letter to Santa: Tell Santa what books you want for Christmas!

JesseOh my list of books from Santa is looooonnnnnggggg, so I'll share just a couple. Number one on my list is Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart. Unfortunately it's only published in Australia and the shipping rates are ridiculous. So, unless Santa plans on getting me a copy while he's delivering presents down there, I'm afraid I'm not going to get to read it anytime soon. I've also been dying to read Dark Heart Forever by Lee Monroe. This one is much more reasonably priced so even if Santa forgets to out it in my stocking, I may still be purchasing on my own.

Kira: Santa can do ARCs, right? I only ask, because the one I really, really, ridiculously want the most (though I agree with Jesse, that I-WANT-IT!-GIMMIE! list is veeerrrrryyyy long) isn't released until the 24th of January, and that's a little late for Santa to bring it to me. Just saying. But look how pretty the cover is!

I guess, if I had to choose a more realistic option (in the sense that I can actually have it for Christmas), I'd have to go with another gorgeous cover, Shattered Souls (which I'll probably wind up springing for myself. It is released closer to my birthday...), or Touch of Power, by Maria V. Snyder.

TaylorIf I could have any book written or not written for Christmas, I would totally choose the sequel to The Host by Stephenie Meyer. She hasn't said anything about writhing it except that it starts off with jogging. That is a book that I would kill to have and it would totally make my life if I got it.

Giving Thanks: Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?

JesseOne of the books I'm most thankful (to Kira) for is Crossed by Ally Condie. I've been dying to read it since I finished Matched, so when Kira recently purchased it I snatched it right up. I'm not to far in, but I'm already remembering why I loved the first book so much!

Kira: Technically, I haven't yet received the book I'm most thankful for yet (I hear it's in the mail, though, so maybe today or tomorrow *crosses fingers and hopes*), but I've been uber excited about getting my hands on Concealed, by Sang Kromah (which you may remember from a giveaway we held in in October) for ages now. I won (which is why I'm VERY thankful) my own copy of this book at the beginning of the year (either that, or the end of last year, it was either December or January).  I've been closely following the book's progress ever since.

On another note, I'm also very thankful (to Jesse, we buy and share a lot of books) for buying Lola and the Boy Next Door (which my tbr pile is still preventing me from reading. grrr), because I LOVED Anna and the French Kiss (which she also bought, way back when,  so technically I'm thankful for that one, too) soooo much, that I can't wait 'til I can finally squeeze this little gem into my schedule.

Taylor: Technically, Jesse didn't get the book for me at all, she got it for herself, but I most thankful for her getting Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson. She had to buy the book from England because they didn't sell it anywhere else, but it was totally worth it!
* We totally squee'd over the release of the Hunger Games trailer
* We had another of the lovely boys (John Quinn) from the Night World series (by LJ Smith) stop by for a date on My Book Boyfriend.  (P.S. If you haven't yet, be sure to VOTE for who you think should be our next featured Book Boyfriend!) 
* We (and by 'we' I mean Jesse, hopefully I, Kira, will have the review I've been working on up later today) reviewed The Pledge, by Kimberly Derting
* We received our first photo from the winner of one of our giveaways! You can check out her pretty pick on this Giveaways! page.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Book Boyfriend (6) John Quinn

For our last two My Book Boyfriends (a meme created and hosted by the amazing Missie from The Unread Reader), we've been introducing (and reminding) you Pretties of the awesome boys that  reside in LJ Smith's Night World series. More speciffiacally, we've been focusing on a certain brand of boy, and today we'd like to do something a little different.

A little, but not much.

Our boy, John Quinn, is still from the Night World, but unlike his Lamia brethren, Quinn is a Made vampire. To give you Pretty Readers a better idea of the difference, I'm cutting and pasting from here, because it's short and concise:
Made vampires are humans that have been made into vampires by exchanging blood with lamia or with another made vampire. Since older people cannot survive the physical transition, all made vampires look about age nineteen or younger. Also, unlike lamia vampires, made vampires do not age, eat and cannot reproduce. If a made vampire does not receive enough blood from the vampire and dies, they will awaken as a ghoul, where their only aim in life is to kill and eat.
Now on to the important stuff.

John Quinn:

* He's old, to put it plain and simple. He was Made into a vampire at the age of 18, and has remained so since the sixteenth century.
* Black hair
* Bottomless-black eyes

"The vampire was pale, and his black hair looked even blacker against his white skin. His eyelashes were dark on his cheek. A little blood matted his hair in the back." {Night World No. 2, eBook page 158/412} 
Our Quinn is played by Xavier Samuel.
"He was good-looking. Clean features that were strongly chiseled but almost delicate. A mouth that at the moment looked rather innocent, but which might be sensuous if he were awake. A body that was lithe and flat-muscled, if not very tall." {Night World No. 2, eBook page 159/412}

One of the most dangerous vampires in all the Night World. Maybe the most dangerous of the made vampires, the ones who’d started out human. She knew him by reputation—every vampire hunter did. He was supposed to be a deadly fighter and a brilliant strategist; clever, resourceful… and cold as ice. He despised humans, held them in utter contempt. He wanted  the Night World to wipe them out, except for a few to be used for food." {Night World No. 2, eBook page 163/412}

Why We Love Him:

JesseJohn Quinn is quite possibly my favorite Night World character. He was turned into a vampire when he was eighteen. He was in love with the wrong girl and he payed the price for it. And he is still paying that price, because he can't die. And that's what he wants. To just stop living the same, lonely life day in and day out. But then he meets his soulmate Rashel.

Quinn's relationship with Rashel is what made me fall in love with him. I love it when characters argue, and these two argue like they're mortal enemies. Oh, wait! They are. I love a good redemption story and if anyone has ever redeemed himself it's Quinn. He was a cold, calculating human-hater, who met his match in a human girl.

Kira: The reason I love John Quinn so much is because of his relationship with Rashel Jordan. They are my absolute favorite Night World couple. Why? Because he was a ruthless, human-hating (except when it came to eating them) vampire, and she was a vamp-hating vampire hunter (who was pretty bad-ass with a bokken).  Perfect match, no?

I love that whole "I hate you  and everything you stand for, but I can't help but be madly in love with you" dynamic. It makes things oh, so much more interesting. The fact that they are soulmates, and that's why they can't help but love each other makes it so much better because there literally is nothing they can do about it. So, she tries to kill him, he tries to kill her, and they both fail miserably. Ain't love grand?

Amazing Quotations:
"His eyes went dark as black holes—no light escaped. Rashel suddenly had the feeling of glacial cold. Look into eyes like that and what you saw alone might kill you, she thought."{Night World No. 2, eBook page 252/412}
"Rashel was suddenly struck by something. 'You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say your first name. I mean, I presume you have one.'

He blinked. Then, as if he were surprised himself, he said, 'John.'

'John Quinn. John.'

'I didn’t invite you to call me it.'” {Night World No. 2, eBook page 165/412}
“'I’m faster than any human,' the soft voice went on. 'I’m stronger than any human. I can see better in the dark. And I’m much, much nastier.'” {Night World No. 2, eBook page 167/412}
"'Don’t you understand? As long as you’re human, Night World law says you have to die if I love you.'

Rashel stood stricken.

Quinn had stopped short, as if he were startled himself by what he’d said. Then he gave an odd laugh and shook his head. 'If I love you,' he repeated. 'And that’s the problem, of course. I do love you.'" {Night World No. 2, eBook page 240/412}
“'I don’t know what’s going to happen—but as long as we’re right together, I think I can face it.'

I think we live or die together from now on, Quinn said simply."{Night World No. 2, eBook page 247/412}
Help Us Choose Our Next MBB:

Since us going through our Night World MBBs seemed to be pretty popular the past couple weeks, we decided to give you Pretty Readers one more (the lovely John Quinn above) before putting you guys to an actual vote.

Below, you will find listed the remaining boys of Night World.

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Release - Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Pledge
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: November 15 2011

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting tells the story of Charlie Hart, a girl trying to survive in a country ruled by an evil queen.
In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed. 
Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime. ~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Let me just say that I really liked this book. I loved the premise, the story, the characters, the writing. It was fantastic. The idea of language being a barrier between people, of a way to prevent rebellion, intrigued me. How people of every class, not just the higher classes, would use their language to mock and look down on people lower then them. The fact that people can be so inconsiderate of one another in dystopian novels always gets me. I know that it's not any different in real life, people will always ostracize others for being different, but it still makes me sad every time I see it portrayed in a book.

The character's were all so lovable, except for the Queen. I hated the Queen right off the bat. But Charlie was such a likable main character. She wasn't stupid about (most) things and I found myself rooting for her, and worrying about her, at every twist and turn. Toward the end of the book I was literally at the edge of my sit. I found myself, more than once, flipping the page and skimming briefly just to make sure nothing bad had happened to Charlie or her friends!

It's very difficult for me to choose my favorite character. It comes down to Max and Angelina. Max is the oh-so-scrumptious and unbelievably sweet Prince who stole my heart along with Charlie's. But I think that Angelina, Charlie's adorable four year old sister, has to be the winner. She's so strong, so tough. I can't wait for a sequel just so I can see Angelina develop more. Especially after everything that happened in that final chapter!

I kept picturing MAX as DREW ROY.
Just thought I'd share ;)

One of my favorite things about The Pledge was the setting. It takes place, not in a far off land or fairytale, but in our world, just hundreds of years in the future. Or at least it seems to. The cities are no longer named the same as they used to be (the Queen just names them using sectors and numbers), but traditionally children are named after long ago forgotten cities.  Like Charlie's friend Brooklynn, named after a borough in a once great city (New York City). The entire book I kept trying to figure out how and when the world could have fallen apart the way it must have if Queendoms were going to spring up around the globe in the future. Despite the magic used in the book, it still seems realistic enough to make me think that it is possible that The Pledge is set in our world.
I fell in love with Derting's The Body Finder series and now she has outdone herself with The Pledge. From beginning to end you'll be wondering what's going to happen, how it's all going to end. No one writes suspense like Kimberly Derting. The Pledge is definitely a must read!

The Hunger Games Theatrical Trailer Released!

For those of you Pretty Readers who have been hanging out in dark places for the past few day, we at Pretty in Fiction have been uber excited all weekend, waiting for the release of the OFFICAL, FULL-LENGTH The Hunger Games theatrical trailer.

As promised, it premiered today on Good Morning America, and for those of you who missed it, we have it here for you right here:

Was I the only one who got excited by this awesomeness right here? This part always makes me freak, even in the books.

SO, what do you think, Pretties? What's your favorite part about the trailer? Are you more excited now than before (I know I am!)? Post your thoughts below!

Friday, November 11, 2011

TGIF! & Feature, and Follow Friday (14)

It's Friday, Pretties! 
And, you know what that means: Friday meme time!
Follow Friday (hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read)  and TGIF (hosted by Ginger, from GReads!) were the only ones we saw up this week. so here we go.

In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran’s Day tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.

Jesse: I don't actually know any soldiers, although I think they are all pretty awesome. Just the courage it takes to do what they do everyday makes them heroes. But since I don't know any, I'm going to share one that I do know.

Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore.

Brigan is a great soldier and leader for his brother, King Nash's army. He is strong and bold and would willingly sacrifice himself to save his men. Here's an excerpt from Fire that shows a little about Brigan as a military leader:

"The greatest danger was to the men at the back of the line who would have to slow their pace as the horses entered the bottleneck of the nearest tunnel's entrance. The soldiers who made it into the tunnel would be safe. Raptors didn't like dark, cramped spaces, and they did not follow men into caves.

She understood from the talk she heard in the stables that Brigan had ordered the king to the front of the column and the best spearmen and swordsman to the back, because in the moment of greatest crisis the raptors would be too close for bows. Brigan himself would bring up the rear." {Fire, eBook page 119/542}

How many people would do something like that? Sure, it's easy to make the call when it's not you on the line, but a real soldier, a real hero, knows that if they're going to ask people to follow them into danger, they need to take the lead. Set an example. That's what I think a true soldier does. Sacrifices his/her own well being for the good of their fellow soldiers and country.

So, thank you to all the soldiers out there who are willing to step up for our country. You are all heroes, each and everyday.

Kira: A few years back, I was introduced to a miniseries that HBO released in 2008 called Generation Kill. It was seven parts, and followed the story laid out in the nonfiction novel by the same name, written by Evan Wright as an expansion of a series of articles he did for Rolling Stone in 2003.

I think the Amazon blurb of the book describes their story best:
In the tradition of Black Hawk Down and Jarhead comes a searing portrait of young men fighting a modern-day war.  
A powerhouse work of nonfiction, Generation Kill expands on Evan Wright's acclaimed three-part series that appeared in Rolling Stone during the summer of 2003. His narrative follows the twenty-three marines of First Recon who spearheaded the blitzkrieg on Iraq. This elite unit, nicknamed "First Suicide Battalion," searched out enemy fighters by racing ahead of American battle forces and literally driving into suspected ambush points.  
Evan Wright lived on the front lines with this platoon from the opening hours of combat, to the fall of Baghdad, through the start of the guerrilla war. He was welcomed into their ranks, and from this bird's-eye perspective he tells the unsettling story of young men trained by their country to be ruthless killers. He chronicles the triumphs and horrors-physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual-that these marines endured while achieving victory in a war many questioned before it began. Wright's book is a timely account of war; even more important, it is a timeless description of the human drama taking place on today's battlefields. Written with brutal honesty, raw intensity, and startling intimacy, Generation Kill is destined to become a classic and take its place in the canon of the most captivating and authentic works of war literature.
I was so awed and inspired by their story that it has stuck with me since that time. I may not have agreed with the war, but that doesn't mean I don't/didn't support our troops. I practically idolize them, and the courage and strength it takes for them to do what they do and fight for what they believe in. This series just put a face on several of these men, these soldiers.

Love-Hate Relationship: Which characters from a book do you love to hate?

Jesse: I seem to always love the bad guys in books. But of course as soon as I'm asked who I love to hate I can't think of a single one. But since I have Night World on the brain (check out our last two My Book Boyfriend posts -- Ash and Morgead -- to see why), I managed to find a truly awful character that I hate. Whether I love to hate him remains to be seen.

Hunter Redfern.

I hate him. I loathe him. I DEPLORE him! Just his name makes me gag, not to mention the thought of his hideous yellow eyes. He is the most awful of all the characters in L.J. Smith's Night World series.

Hunter appears throughout the series as a bad guy, but it's not until the fifth book, The Chosen, that we get to see just how evil he is. To give you a hint: he murders (or drinks since he's a vampire) a four year old in a children's play place.

Yeah. He's pretty terrible. But then he shows up again and again later in the series. And his awful daughter pops up here and there as well. Now, I can't bash the whole Redfern family, because most of them are favorite characters of mine, but he is a piece of work and a villain who deserves to be hated by all.

Kira: Of all the book characters I have read, the one I think I hate the most is Leek from The Seven Kingdoms series by Kristen Cashore. Now, I wouldn't say there is any love lost on this man, but I hate him with such passion that it's almost like a love-to-hate scenario.

For those that have read this series, you know that some of Cashore's characters are born with special abilities. Like Katsa, the protagonist of Graceling, who was gifted with survival. Unfortunately, not all those with gifts were very nice.

Leek was also a graceling. Only his gift made him much more sinister. Even from the time he was a child, as Fire shows us, he used his gift to commit heinous acts.

I suppose it's not too hard to fall into that pattern when your Grace makes it so that no one can disagree with you, that your every whim belongs to everyone else. All he has to do is speak his will, or have others who heard him speak pass it along, and then everyone within hearing range has fallen under his spell.

I won't get into the things he actually does, as I don't want to spoil bit s of either book for those who haven't read it, but I can guarantee they are all terrible.

Taylor: Who do I love to hate? Jeremiah Fisher from the Summer Series by Jenny Han. There are no words to describe the feelings I have toward him. I hated him during the first two books but he wasn't my most hated book character — *cough cough* Hunter Redfern *cough cough* — until the last book We'll Always Have Summer. Where you find out he cheated on Belly. *Gag. Cabo. Gag. Puke.* That's when I really started to hate him for real.

* We reviewed Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendra Blake
* and, Blood, by KJ Wingall
* and, of course, In the Forests of the Night, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
* We had another Night World boy for our Book Boyfriend (Morgead Blackthorn)
* and We got excited over some recent castings for The Host movie.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ian O'Shea and Jared Howe Cast in The Host Movie!


We finally have the three main characters in The Host cast!

First, Saoirse Ronan was cast a Melanie Stryder/Wanderer, a human and a soul inhabiting the same body.

Then, Jake Abel was cast as Ian O'Shea, one of the few surviving humans on Earth.

Now, Max Irons has been cast as Jared Howe, Melanie's lost love.

This would be great if Max Irons and Jake Abel would just switch roles! No, really, I'm excited to finally have a cast for this movie. After two years it was getting to the point where i was like, "Just cast somebody already! I don't care who." But I wasn't expecting them to teenage-ify the cast! The characters were older in the book, 20's and 30's, so why couldn't they have kept it that way?

But even forgetting about the age of the characters (considering these actor's are older then they look), I just can't picture Jake Abel playing Ian. Max Irons is fine, I think he'll be good as Jared. But I'm just not sure about Jake. Unless of course they plan on casting Jensen Ackles as Kyle O'Shea, then I agree one hundred percent with them casting Jake as Ian!

I guess we'll have to wait until the trailer before we find out if these three are up to the task of playing some of my favorite characters.

So what do you think? Do you like The Host's younger cast? Or will you still picture someone else as Ian, Jared, and Melanie?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Book Boyfriend (5) Morgead Blackthorn

Last week, in response to a comment someone left about picking up the Night World series because of our little introduction to Ash Redfern (ok, the boy we picked to portray him may have helped a bit, too), we said she should, that
There is plenty of boy-candy to go around. Ash is just the tip of the iceberg. We could spend a few months doing MBBs JUST on the boys of Night World, if we wanted.
Now, we may not stay a few months on these very loveable boys, but we wanted to give you another little taste of just what the Night World had to offer.

Some of you, based on your responses, seemed intrigued by the Lamia. These vampires who were born, not sired, who could have children of their own. Vampires who could who could age at will -- or, at least, until they decided they would stop aging.

Well, there are definitely plenty of Lamia in the Night World, and for those of you who weren't too fond of Ash, maybe this one will spark your interest.

This week's My Book Boyfriend (hosted, as usual, by the ingenious Missie over at The Unread Reader) is the rebellious gang leader: Morgead Blackthorn.
Our Morgead is played by Milo Ventimiglia.

- Morgead Blackthorn -
* 17
* Black hair
* Green eyes
* A Lamia vampire
"Morgead Blackthorn was seventeen, a year older than she, and her worst enemy. He was conceited, hotheaded, stubborn, and power-hungry—and it didn’t help that he was always saying she was those things, too." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 11/450} 
"His face was pale, making his dark hair seem even darker. His lashes were black crescents on his cheeks." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 46/450}
- Why We Love Him -
Jesse: The thing I love about Morgead is how stubborn he is. Regardless of whether he's right or wrong he'll fight for what he believes. And that's why he's the perfect soulmate for Jez Redfern (Ash Redfern's cousin). She, too, will fight for what she believes. But there in lies the problem. She fights for humans, he fights for vampires. But he loves her, always has, since they were children. He believes in Jez more than he believes in anything, so he can't do much else than help her.

His relationship with Jez is just too cute! They bicker and fight and are constantly competing with one another over anything and everything. They're in love but at the same time they act like enemies. Or maybe you'd call them frenemies? Either way I want one! Leather jacket and all.

Kira: One of the things I love most about Morgead is that I love reading about him and Jez together. I don't know why, but I love reading about couples that bicker. They always make things more interesting, especially when they bicker at the worst. possible. times. Jez and Morgead don't disappoint on that front. Why?

Because they're both equally as stubborn and always have to be right.

I also liked how these two already knew and loved each other (whether the were willing to admit it or not, though Morgy definitely was the less reluctant of the two) before we even started our story. That doesn't happen very often, because part of the joy in most novels is watching the leads fall in love.

And yet, this method worked for Jez and Morgead purely because they were so...I can't think of what the word I'm looking for here is. Confrontational, maybe?

Taylor: Morgead Blackthorn would be my dream boyfriend. He has so much about him to love. Like his odd overprotectiveness, or the way he loves to fight. He is scary to people who don't know him, and even to the people that do, but when he loves you he is way too overprotective.

"His face was two inches from hers. Jez galred at him, refusing to give ground.'I'm not just siding with them,' she hissed 'I am one of them. I'm a damned day breaker.' 
'Your a dead day breaker. I can't believe this. How am I supposed to protect you from the whole Night World?' {Night World No. 3, eBook page 130/450

Come on, how cute?

- Quotes - 
"Next you’re going to try for a head strike,' she informed Morgead coolly. 'Because you always do.'

'You think you know everything. But you don’t know me anymore. I’ve changed,' he told her, just as calmly—and went for a head strike.

'Psyche,' he said as she blocked it and wood clashed with a sharp whack." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 50}
"For just an instant neither of them moved; their weapons down, their gazes connected. Their faces were so close their breath mingled.

Then Morgead slipped out of the trap. 'Don’t try that stuff,' he said nastily.

'What stuff?' The moment her stick was free of his, she snapped it up again, reversing her grip and thrusting toward his eyes.

'You know what stuff!' He deflected her thrust with unnecessary force. 'That ‘I’m Jez and I’m so wild and beautiful’ stuff. That ‘Why don’t you just drop your stick and let me hit you because it’ll be fun’ stuff.'" {Night World No. 3, eBook page 50/450}
"She grabbed his wrist and locked it, with her hand holding his and her stick on top of his wrist. She could use leverage here to cause severe pain—or to break the bone.

'Give up, Morgead.'

'Bite me.'

'I’m going to break your wrist.'

'Fine. I hope you enjoy it.' He kept glaring." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 50}
“'And she’s not just a Daybreaker,' Pierce said. Finally he looked at Jez, and it was with venomous spite. 'She’s a mutant abomination. She’s half vermin. She should have been drowned at birth.'

'You should have been drowned at birth,' Morgead said through locked teeth." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 137/450}
"Jez couldn’t answer, but she shook her head very faintly, and looked at him in despair. She knew he could read that. Do you know what they’ll do to you? Especially when they find out you’re a fake?

She saw his faint answering smile. He knew.

What difference does it make? he said in her mind. You and me—we’re lost anyway. And without you, I don’t care what happens." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 140/450}
"Her eyelids felt heavy.

'Jez? Jez!'

It was a husky whisper. Jez opened her eyes to see Morgead’s face.

He was crying. Oh, dear, that was bad. Jez hadn’t seen him cry since…when was it? Sometime when they’d been little kids…." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 145/450}
“DON’T YOU DARE DIE ON ME, JEZEBEL! DON’T YOU DARE! Or I’ll follow you to the next world and KILL you.” {Night World No. 3, eBook page 147/450}
"'I Love you, you stupid human, Morgead gasped against Jez's cheek. 'I can't live without you. Don't you know that?" {Night World No. 3, eBook page 147/450}
“'Watch it, Jezebel,' he growled and leaned forward menacingly.

'Don’t call me that, idiot.'

'You’re the idiot, idiot.'

'And you’re—' But Jez never got to finish, because he stopped her mouth with a kiss." {Night World No. 3, eBook page 149/450}

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: In The Forests Of The Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Title: In the Forests of the Night
Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Publisher: Laurel Leaf (An Imprint of Random House Books For Young Readers)
Publish Date: May 9th 2000

In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes tells the story of Risika. She was turned into a vampire nearly three hundred years ago. And even though she hunts and kills, she can't seem to escape the morals of her past life. She grew up in the eighteenth century in a community that believed if you did one bad thing you were evil. After being turned she considered herself evil, but eventually she realized if you are weak, you die, if you are strong, you live.

Risika hasn't loved since the seventeen hundreds. Since her brother and her father died, but a few years ago she discovered a caged tiger in the zoo. Tora. She goes to visit her every night and she starts to treat Tora as if she were her pet. She loves her and cares for her.

One night Risika goes to visit Tora and finds her in her cage with a knife in her heart. There is only one person that Risika knows that kills with a knife. Aubrey. The man who helped kill Risika three hundred years ago. She finds him and challenges him to a fight. Will she win? Or will she die? 

I have been meaning to read this book for so many years. At least four. I finally decided to read it, and it was amazing. It's a short and enjoyable read that is hard to dislike. There is a whole series that goes along with this book, and me being me read the other books first, so I didn't find Aubrey to be the jerk that Risika thought him to be. I still saw him as the cute and sweet boy he was when he was with Jessica from Demon In My View, which is the second book in the Den of Shadow's Series. 

Even though it took me years to finally read, I loved it. Aubrey is one of my favorite characters that Amelia Atwater-Rhodes has written. He's a jerk, but he's sweet, and who doesn't love that?

I understand why Risika hated Aubrey, but I don't feel that much hatred made sense in their relationship. They talked less than five times over three hundred years, and they wanted to kill each other. If they had spoken more, maybe it wouldn't have seemed as forced, like Amelia was trying to get the story to move along faster. But every time they got close to one another all they did was fight. There wasn't much reason for it. It was like they were fighting just to fight.

Risika was a well written character. I liked everything about her except how much she hated Aubrey. That's really the only thing about this book that irked me. There was too much hatred and not enough cause. The thing about Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' books is she has such great ideas and characters but she doesn't develop her story or her characters to their full potential. Don't get me wrong, the stories are still great, but I wouldn't mind if they were longer and more detailed.

But since Amelia Atwater-Rhodes was only thirteen when she wrote In the Forests of the Night, I still think that it is worthy of four and a half Crazy Heart's. I recommend this book to someone who is looking for a quick and easy read.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review: Blood by K.J. Wignall

Title: Blood
Author: K.J. Wignall
Publisher: Egmont USA
Published Date: September 5th 2011 

Blood by K.J. Wignall is not your average run of the mill, twenty first century vampire story. It is based on the classics. Will isn't a brooding vampire who drinks animal blood and attends high school. Will is an 800 year old vampire who kills people in order to stay alive. He sleeps in a coffin for decades at a time. He doesn't know the latest trends or wear hipster leather jackets. He lives in a crypt and tries to keep a collection of basic clothing that could pass in any century.

I do not remember being bitten. I wish I did, for then I would know the creature who did this to me and I would have a purpose, to track him down and repay him for the poisoned gift he gave me.
Back in the Thirteenth Century, Will was destined to be Earl of Mercia, although he never lived to inherit his title. In the centuries that follow, Will has led a lonely life, learning to deal with whatever the present day throws at him, always searching for answers but never finding any. Until this time, when he awakens after a 20-year-slumber, hungry for the blood that sustains his undeath, when it appears that he is finally getting a glimpse at why he exists. He does indeed have a destiny, and an enemy, but revealing that fate will be a matter of trust...
~ Courtesy of Goodreads

Now, like most people, I love a good modern vampire story. But there is just something so intriguing about seeing the classic myths at play in a novel. A vampire who can't go out in the sunlight, who is sensitive to bright lights. A vampire who is deathly afraid of fire and actually kills his victims! These are the vampires that haunted my nightmares as a child. They aren't and never will be that mysterious cute guy in biology class! (Not to rip on Twilight. I love Twilight!)

Anyway, Will doesn't want to be a vampire (so says almost ALL vampires). He hates the creature who turned him and wants revenge. But most of all he just wants to know why? Why did this person he's never met bite him and cause him so much pain and suffering over the last eight hundred years? What was the point? Especially if he was never going to show up and explain himself. No wonder the boy is confused, he's been living on his own for hundreds of years after clawing his way out of the grave. (I'll take a cute Carlisle Cullen explaining how to be a vamp over that any day!)

There were a few things I found a bit odd about the story. There are a lot of "coincidences" in Blood. To be honest, Will figures most situations out the moment they happen. Sort of like he's "in on it". The author, while trying to make Will clever, sort of just makes it clear that they're the one in control of the characters. It's clear that he's writing what Will is thinking. And I would prefer if my characters make me believe that they're real. I want the illusion that the characters thoughts are his own, not just a well planned out storyline.

But even with that, I kept reading. Something about the book just pulls you in. It's a very intriguing story and I did like the characters. I wanted to know where it was going, what was going to happen. I wanted to learn who could be behind everything and why they wanted Will.

All in all, I'd give Blood a total of 3 Crazy Hearts. If your a lover of classic vampire legends or are just looking for a change of pace, Blood is sure to keep you reading.

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