10 YA Halloween Costumes You Might Want to Try

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit OR Top Ten Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween. I don’t usually dress up for Halloween, and when I do, I generally keep it super simple. But I thought it might be fun to compile a list of characters that others might want to try out for Halloween.

Prom/Formal Dress Reuse

America from The Selection

america-costumeDress source

If you have a blue, ruffled dress hanging in your closest, you can pretend you’re America participating in The Selection.

Kestrel from The Winner’s Curse

winners-costumeDress source

Have a dress that resembles Kestrel’s? Then brush up on your Bite and Sting game and strategize for a fantastic Halloween.

Lilac from These Broken Stars

brokenstars-costumeWith an emerald or jade gown you pretend to be Lilac on board the Icarus, or if you’re not afraid to, you can rip and tatter the dress for her look once she’s stranded on the planet surface with Tarver.

DIY

Katniss from The Hunger Games, The Girl on Fire dress

katniss-costume-firedressPattern/tutorial source

If you enjoy making your costume, you might enjoy this DIY tutorial for Katniss’ girl on fire dress!

From Your Closet (or Thrift Store)

Katniss in the Arena

katniss-costume-arenaSource 

There’s a chance you’ve got several of these basics in your closet: boots, khaki or olive green cargo pants, a black top, and a black jacket. Cap it off with a braid and bow, and don’t forget the Mockingjay pin!

Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Costume Theatre Style

lizzie-bennet-costumesSource

Even though The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet isn’t really YA and I’m really pulling from the Youtube series for inspiration, who cares? You can dress in one of Lizzie’s more iconic looks or, for even more fun, sport one of the costume theater outfits!

Deryn (Dylan) Sharp, from Leviathan

deryn-costumeSource 1 and 2

For something unique, you might want to try this alternative history/steampunk look of Deryn disguised as a boy airman.

Tris from Divergent

tris-costume Source

With the simple outfit of pants, tank top, and boots, added with the flair of bird tattoos (though I would advise against permanent ink) you can achieve Tris’ Dauntless look.

Hermione from Harry Potter

hermione-costumeIf skirts and sweaters are a part of your wardrobe, find some Griffyndor colors and perhaps a robe to add, and suddenly you’re Hermione!

Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles

cinder-costumeSource 1 and 2

 There are several ways to approach a Cinder outfit, mechanic wear or ball wear or prisoner wear or fugitive wear, showing her cyborg parts through clothing like these leggings or through makeup, etc. And if you dress for the ball, don’t forget the iconic red heel from the cover!

Are you dressing as a YA character for Halloween? If not, which of these would you dress as? 

Advertisements

Dreamcast: Free to Fall

Hey, remember how I’ve attempted dreamcasting a few times? Today I’m bringing it back with Free to Fall, a book with an awesome plot but unfortunately so-so characters and ending…. but that’s OK, because in this dreamcast version it will also be directed by Christopher Nolan with screenplay by him and his brother Jonathan, and they will cut out the dumb stuff and optimize on the good! Hooray! Now here’s who I see playing these (improved) roles.

Isabelle Fuhrman as Rory

Isabelle-FuhrmanI feel like Isabelle physically matches the description of Rory pretty well, plus she’s about the right age.

Asa Butterfield as Beck

Asa-ButterfieldEven though Asa still really looks like a child to me, he is the right age and I think his look would actually work well for Rory’s quirky, artsy best friend.

Ross Lynch as Liam

ross-lynchIt was extremely hard to find a picture where Ross didn’t look so “rockstar,” but I still think he could pull off preppy Liam.

I don’t have anyone picked out to play Hershey because she’s mostly generic pretty girl and a lot of girls could play her. With North, I don’t even know where to begin. But thankfully in my dream version of the movie the Nolans are rewriting him and he’s super awesome.

Lupita Nyong’o as Taurus

lupitaIf you’ve read the book, I don’t think I have to explain how perfect Lupita’s look is.

Wes Bentley as Robert Griffin

Wes-BentleyI think Wes has about the right age and look, and I believe can carry the role of a big-time tech company CEO well. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also be a good fit for this role, but I was trying to think of someone I haven’t talked about as much before.)

Michael Caine as Dean Atwater

michael-caineBecause it’s not a Christopher Nolan movie without Michael Caine. (What will we do when Michael Caine dies? Cry all the tears.)

I’m sure C. Nolan would find a way to sneak some more or his favorite actors in here. Obviously there has to be a role written in for Christian Bale. 🙂

Who would you dreamcast (and/or dreamcrew!) for a movie adaptation of Free to Fall?

Book Review: Free to Fall

It seems I have a love-hate relationship with Lauren Miller books, and all reviews of her books require GIFs (this time, Gilmore Girls, in honor of Rory). (See my review of Lauren Miller’s Parallel)

Free to Fall takes place in 2030, in a world where most allow their decisions to be guided by the decision-making app Lux.

gr-free-to-fallFirst off, they seriously make the most boring covers for Lauren Miller books. Just faces of girls who don’t look the way I picture the main character (ESPECIALLY in the case of Free to Fall where she has freckles). And these books have a sci-fi twist so they could do fun things with them! But nope, just faces. OK, this is just a rant that has nothing to do with Lauren Miller’s writing, so let’s move on.

Let’s talk characters first. I liked Rory at first, but she got more annoying throughout the book. For someone so smart, she doesn’t have very much common sense. I figured out things before her (not the answers to the Few’s riddles or anything like that, but plot twists) and then there is the whole her and North thing, which I will elaborate on later. Of course, to be fair, I was looking for plot devices because I was reading a book and she wasn’t, but still.

I wanted to briefly mention Beck, Rory’s best friend who is prominent in the first couple of chapters but not so much after when she leaves for Theden. I loved Beck and thought he was definitely the most interesting character in the book. I would have loved more of him.

Now North. First off, his name is North, like North West (you know, Kim Kardashian and Kayne’s baby), except not really, because it’s Norvin. Who names their kid Norvin? (The same people who name their kid Hershey, I guess.) Just as a side note: the main characters were born 2012-2014, so while names like Liam, Beck, Nora, and Rory (Auora, her true full name, maybe a little less so) make total sense, because according to my Facebook news feed, these are today’s baby names (I don’t actually know any babies named Beck, but it sounds in the right vein. I do know of babies named Liam, Nora, and Rory though). Norvin and Hershey? Mmm, not so much. And yes, I get the whole unique names thing, but I kind of have a thing about too many people with too unique of names together in one place conveniently for a book (unless it’s fantasy or further-out-in-the-future-science-fiction).

Second, North is RIDICULOUSLY PRETENTIOUS. OK, to be fair, he’s actually a pretty nice guy, at least to Rory. But he also breaks the law and he acts like a modern-day hipster except he’s shunning his technology and embracing ours. Oh, and he has a Mohawk, tattoos, is hacker and a barista, doesn’t believe in vaccines, and is a high school dropout because school “isn’t for him.” HELLO, STEREOTYPE.

lorelei-coffee-cynicismAlso, SCHOOL IS FOR YOU UNTIL YOU’RE 18. BECAUSE YOU ARE A CHILD. DEAL WITH IT.

Let me explain my thoughts on the world-building to further explain my feelings about North. The technology feels mostly spot-on, though it probably isn’t actually advanced enough. But the general direction feels real. But the clothing trends, the word “hipster” getting thrown out once, felt so incredibly like TODAY. I understand trends come in cycles, but honestly it did not feel like a resurgence of trends to me, because there would have been a variation of the trends. I didn’t really feel there was though, with talk of Toms and Wayfarers and popped collars it just felt like TODAY.

Which leads me back to North. Other than his love of retro tech being today’s tech, he feels so much like a modern-day hipster (except hipsters don’t generally don Mohawks, but seriously, that is the most stereotypical “Oh look at me I’m different” hairstyle ever). Basically, I felt Miller took a stereotype and made him a nice guy and expected me to like him, despite the fact that he makes money off an illegal career and is a high school dropout and basically is going to have a seriously rude awakening when he is about 25 years old. I honestly don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who make poor decisions, unless it’s part of a greater character arc. Not so much here.

gilmore-girls-ughSo now let’s put Rory and North together. This was one of the worst romances I have read in a while. I guess since Abby and Michael in Parallel, actually. The first time Rory sees North, she doesn’t find him all that attractive or interesting. But then afterwards, she’s intrigued because he concocted this great drink for her. After this second meeting with him SHE CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT NORTH. OK, teenage hormones, whateves, it happens. After meeting three when they hang out she is really into him. And then she ignores him for a while because she’s mad at him and blah blah blah and then after that she just rushes way too fast and never once do I understand why she likes him romantically. Maybe as a friend, but Beck was way cooler and their relationship was always just platonic. Honestly, if North and Rory could have just been friends the story would have been so much better. Or if we got to root for them getting together because North ended up being a guy who would be really good with Rory. Instead, any time they got “romantic” I could care less and sometimes felt a little disgusted.

rory-face-eatingAnd North ends up being a bit creepy. He says things that Rory completely glosses over but I did not find them OK. Once, he mentions “playing Doctor.” I don’t care the intent of the joke, that is an automatic creep alert for me. Second, he hacks into Rory’s Lux profile the day he met her. And last, he gives Rory a necklace embedded with a tracking device and camera in it towards the end of the book. It seemed the intent was for in case something went wrong with the initiation, but seriously? What if she goes to the bathroom? And if your intentions were pure, why didn’t you just tell her about it? Not OK.

rory-creeped-outLet me talk about something I did like, because part of this novel I loved, and that was the whole story line of conspiracies and clues left behind and tech companies trying to take over the world. A lot of it actually felt pretty realistic. The heavy Paradise Lost references got a bit old, but overall, everything with this plot was interesting. I also thought the psychology of fabricating the idea of “The Doubt” was really interesting.

But now that I’ve mentioned The Doubt, I can’t ignore another problem I had with the book. The Doubt felt WAY too mystic for me. It did not feel like a conscience or a gut-feeling (it was implied it could be these things), and really, not even like God. Coming from someone who believes anyone can have a personal relationship with God and believing that I do, it just felt off if the intent was that it was God. Especially since Rory was not even pursuing God, I honestly don’t believe she would hear Him that way. I’m sure there are people who think differently though, including quite possibly, Lauren Miller. But if you want to take away the God factor, then you have Rory following this voice that seems to know exactly what is going to happen and is always assuring her in ways she could not possibly do herself. I don’t know. It was just weird to me no matter what angle I looked at it from.

gilmore-girls-emily-lost-mindAnd now I want to talk about the ending (about the last 15%ish of the book, more specifically), without spoiling anything, I am going to say that it was first of all sloppy, and second off too Disney-esque. A lot of bad stuff happened in the story. PEOPLE DIED. But basically we find absolutely no repercussions of everything that happened.

For spoilers, highlight: So apparently after finding out the truth about her mom, her true father, and Taurus, dealing with the latter two dying, not to mention  Hershey sleeping with an adult man (AND NOT PRESSING CHARGES WHAT THE CRAP), not having yet seen face-to-face the man she grew up believing was her father since she found out he wasn’t, it’s totes normal to shack up with your high school dropout boyfriend (I guess she is one now too?) in his NYC apartment that he conveniently has (for reasons that are NEVER explained) and be happy and not at all worried about ALL THE CRAP THAT JUST HAPPENED. The chick needs therapy after this. She cannot be in a good place. Boys do not fix problems. She needs her dad that she knows. She needs friends. She needs anyone whose name isn’t North. And the dove-shaped aurora? Are you kidding me? What sense did that even make?

This book has an incredible amount of potential. I was very engaged with the actual story. But the characters and sloppy ending left me wanting more. But since the plot was so promising and my enjoyment was on par with Parallel, I give it four stars.

4stars2My thoughts on Lauren Miller’s writing in general: Miller is obviously intelligent, because it’s evident in the way she writes, and I really like that. She also has very compelling ideas for stories. But her characters leave something to be desired for me. The teens she writes do not feel like real teens. I feel like she created these characters (in both her books) and tried to make them sound and act like teens. Just because Rory is a teen girl does that mean she has to be so enamored with North’s kisses or that when she thinks she might die the first thing she wants to do is rip off his pants? It didn’t feel true to her. And just because Abby is a teen girl does that mean she has to drink underage when really that just doesn’t go with the rest of her who is? I wish she would create more characters who felt more independent and are actually different from the norm, instead of pretending they are like North. Like Beck in Free to Fall or Caitlin in Parallel (even though Caitlin wasn’t my favorite character, she was actually one of the most well-rounded and interesting characters).

Content advisory: Moderate language, talk of sex but no sex scenes, mild violence, and underage drinking.

What are your thoughts on Free to Fall?

Birthday (& Beyond) Book Haul!

I promised to show you guys my birthday book haul, but after getting a Barnes and Noble gift card and ordering a book, I thought I would wait until I had ALL THE BOOKS, at least that I was planning to get for now, before showing the complete haul.

DSC_7329

Birthday gifts: Behemoth and Goliath by Scott Westerfeld, The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Book order: Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler

Impulse “it was on sale” purchase: To Live is Christ to Die is Gain by Matt Chandler

Purchased with Barnes & Noble gift card: Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang and The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Needless to say, I think I’m in good shape until Christmas! (Except I will need to buy my next book club pick, The Young Elites before then, unless I can borrow it from the library…)

So about Shadows Beneath… one of my regular podcasts is/was (unfortunately, I just don’t get to listen to them liked I used to) called Writing Excuses, and features the authors who contributed to the anthology. So I was listening to one of their podcasts from like June (because I’m hopelessly behind) and they talked about this anthology now being available. Included in it are a new short story by each author, the first drafts of each of these stories, as well as critiques/notes/behind-the-scenes of the crafting of each story. Basically, it’s perfect for aspiring authors who want to see someone else’s writing process and the end result (which of course was the whole point). Oh, and apparently if I ordered it for Brandon’s store website, I could get it signed by him and a free e-book version. For less than $30, it sounded like a bargain; sign me up! So I ordered it pretty quickly after hearing about it! It took a while to process but only a day or two to ship out! I’m really looking forward to going through it!

And really, I’m looking forward to reading all these (well, except Behemoth, but only because I have already read it and enjoyed it :))! I’m so glad to have rediscovered my love for reading because new books give me such a warm happy feeling. 🙂

What’s been your latest book haul? What from my haul should I read first (or next, since I’ve already read Behemoth)?

Compare & Contrast: The Winner’s Curse & Of Metal and Wishes

Before I got around to drafting a review of The Winner’s Curse, I was reading Of Metal and Wishes and was noticing that while the story was very different from The Winner’s Curse, it also had many similarities, so many that I felt inclined to write a different sort of review for both of these books, where I will compare similar elements of the stories and discuss what did and did not work, as well as explain the differences. There will be mild spoilers for Of Metal and Wishes, and more serious spoilers for The Winner’s Curse.

Compare

One People Group Overtaking the Other in the Past

In The Winner’s Curse, with the Valorians and the Herrani I felt shades of the Narn and Centauri from Babylon 5, which won’t make any sense if you haven’t watched the show, but basically, the Centauri overtake the Narn (twice, once in their history and then again later on the show), though on the surface the Narn seem as they would be the more powerful race, and enslave them.

In Of Metal and Wishes we had the Itanyai who had overtaken the Noor in the recent past. For some reason, I wasn’t thinking of Narn and Centauri this time, perhaps because it was less prevalent throughout the book, but I did eventually get to thinking of The Winner’s Curse.

Both of these books feature the “lesser” of the people groups revolting and fighting back, but again, I felt this was much more prominent in The Winner’s Curse, where it is clear from the start that the Herrani were overtaken and are slaves to the Valorians. In Of Metal and Wishes, I thought the Noor were just people from another land that the Itanyai didn’t think highly of and were willing to work for cheap (kind like America hiring cheap labor from other countries), but later there’s mention of a past takeover and all that.

Fantasy Settings… but Not Really Fantasy Elements

Since I really haven’t read much fantasy before this year, I was surprised when I realized that the best way to categorize these stories was fantasy even though there weren’t dragons or magic or, in the case of Of Metal and Wishes, lots of swords. Fantasy means a new or re-imagined setting though, and doesn’t necessarily have to have those other elements. So yes, they are fantasy settings, but they are different from what I would typically expect of fantasy. The Winner’s Curse actually feels more like a fantasy setting (minus the magic and creatures and whatnot), but Of Metal and Wishes takes place in a re-imagined industrial China, has a dash of steampunk, and is a retelling of Phantom of the Opera so yeah… how do you categorize that?

Also, I really appreciated that both books made a point to mention the different languages between the two people groups, even mentioning what some of the differences were! Attention to detail for the win!

Forbidden Romance

Ever since I read Romeo and Juliet for school, forbidden romance has decidedly not been my favorite thing ever. The forbidden romance in both of these, as you can probably imagine, is between a girl of the dominant people group and a boy of the enslaved people group. How well did I think these romances fare? Both of them are handled pretty well, actually, but I will go further into my thoughts in the contrast portion.

Stockholm Syndrome

I feel this is much bigger plot point in The Winner’s Curse when Kestrel is basically under house arrest in Arin’s home after the revolution begins, but it is somewhat present in Of Metal and Wishes as well with The Ghost taking in Wen. Thankfully, Wen doesn’t promise to stay with the Ghost or to love him as he loves her, but she does promise to visit. I think she truly cares for him as a companion, though she knows he’s dangerous, because he is kind to her, but that is kind of how Stockholm Syndrome works, it’s just that the only time she is really his prisoner is when she goes to see him at his hidingplace. She also makes this promise because she wants to protect and care for Melik.

In The Winner’s Curse, holy cow there was Stockholm Syndrome all over that! But what I appreciated was that Kestrel actually fought really hard against it and was always thinking, trying to plot ways to outsmart and escape Arin, even though she did care for him. She does get overwhelmed some and kisses him while in house arrest, but then distances herself away from him and eventually escapes.

The Dead Mother/The Father With Expectations

This seems to be a fairly common theme in stories in general. Both girls’ mothers had died (Kestrel’s several years before, Wen’s only shortly before the story), and both girls’ fathers desired certain career paths for their daughters. For Kestrel’s father, he wanted her to join the military and be a great strategist. For Wen’s father, he wanted her to become a doctor, which she seems interested in but they don’t have the money for the schooling.

winnerscurse-metalI do love the covers for both of these books!

Contrast

Kestrel’s Interests VS. Wen’s Interests

I thought Kestrel was pretty interesting. She was very intelligent, good at strategy, and she had a great passion for music. Wen on the other hand… I have no clue what she was into. She could sew very well because of both parents, and she loved the dresses her mom made for her, and she also seemed to kind of like helping her dad out with medical needs. However, I never got a strong grip on what she actually loved to do. It almost felt as if her life before the story started was irrelevant because she was stuck in this crappy situation at the factory with her dad and no money, and while I understand why that was the proper tone of the story, I wish just once she could have expressed what she wanted from life, other than to go back to the sea or for her mother to be alive. With Kestrel, it was clear what’s she was good at, what she was not good at, and what she wanted.

Kestrel’s Attraction for Arin VS. Wen’s Attraction for Melik

These were both relatively slow-burn romances for the most part. The first thing that I think Kestrel noticed about Arin is his determination, which I like, instead of her being like, Ohmygosh look at that totally hot boy for sale. With Wen and Melik, it’s similar, she noticed his quiet strength and leadership. So far, so good.

In The Winner’s Curse, Kestrel and Arin had a fair number of interactions in which she continued to see good qualities of his, plus he had a mysterious side to him, particularly when it came to the possible connection between him and music. She also started to play Bite and Sting with him and had conversations with him. I understood why she liked him when all that finally came to the surface.

Considering we had a dual POV, I felt we got slightly cheated out of seeing more of why Arin felt the same way about Kestrel. You got to hear some of his thoughts and it kind of made sense, but I would have liked more. I would also like to point out that I actually was not all aboard the Kestrel-Arin ship, which may surprise you if you already know my rating for this book. It did make me feel some feels, and I wasn’t against the relationship, but I wasn’t really 100% completely rooting for it either. I actually liked Ronan quite a bit, and I KNEW Kestrel didn’t care for him that way because she said so, but that hindered me some in being a total Kestrel-Arin shipper, in addition to wanting some more build-up on Arin’s end. Plus, I knew what Arin was planning and thought there was no way their relationship could work.

In Of Metal and Wishes, Wen kept running into Melik in various situations, like we stopped the Noor boy from assaulting her, as he cared for the other Noor who were sick or injured, etc. Then she quickly found ways to deliberately see him, fascinated by him. After a while, it was clear he cared for her and they talked about it some. What they had seemed pretty sweet and innocent for the most part, though I did think they were maybe a little too into each other a little too quickly. But I was fine with the whole thing. But then when the two got locked up in the meat locker together and had a serious make-out session, I completely lost interest in their relationship. I don’t know how to explain why I felt that way, but I did.

Ronan VS. The Ghost

Neither of these were a love triangle in the sense that the girl was conflicted about who to choose, but they did have other guys who were interested in them. (Oh, and both girls had pervy older guys who are lusty for them which is… not awesome, but I digress…) In The Winner’s Curse this guy was Ronan, Kestrel’s best friend’s older brother, whom she is also friends with. I really liked Ronan a lot, which also made it hard for me to completely get behind Kestrel and Arin (as mentioned before). He was a flirt, but it was clear to me from the start that he cared about Kestrel, even though she was oblivious at first.

Ronan was clearly set up to represent what Kestrel’s life could look like, what society expected of her. She could marry him, play her music, and lead a very safe, comfortable life (well, before the Herrani revolt she could have). Arin was a more dangerous choice, and I hate the trope of the girl choosing the “dangerous” guy, but it wasn’t completely like that here. He was actually what Kestrel was looking for in a guy in terms of qualities, but he also happened to be a revolutionary who wanted to overcome her people, so things become dangerous because of that. Honestly, I would have completely understood if Kestrel had chosen Ronan, but I also understand why she doesn’t.

In Of Metal and Wishes, we have “The Ghost,” real name Bo, who represented the Phantom figure. He… had some issues. He cared about Wen, having heard stories about her from her father (who treated Bo and saved his life after the accident that everyone else believes killed him), but he was willing to ruthlessly kill people to get what he wanted. While he was capable of kindness and I found him a bit more sympathetic than the Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera, I was definitely not sympathetic enough to really and truly like him. But I think Wen did a pretty good job though of balancing how she could help him and be there for him without agreeing to stay with him or promising to love him.

*EDIT* THIS SEGMENT IS AN ADDITION TO THE ORIGINAL POST BECAUSE I FORGOT IT WHILE DRAFTING*

Kestrel’s Friend Situation VS. Wen’s Friend Situation

One thing I really enjoyed in The Winner’s Curse was Kestrel’s interactions with Jessi and Ronan. Even though Kestrel thinks differently from them about certain matters, she doesn’t shut them out, and they don’t shut her out either. Wen, on the other hand, is less fortunate. She has one “best friend” whose name I have forgotten, and basically they don’t really seem to have much anything in common except they used to go to school together. This friend is also friends with the other guys and girls their age who work at the factory in the office/manager type positions, so Wen spends some time with them (mostly at lunch), but it’s clear she doesn’t really connect with any of them. And then some of these acquaintances (the male ones specifically) are awful to Wen and try to sexually assault her, and at another point (it was probably before the aforementioned incident, but I can’t remember for sure) they get angry with her (the guys and her “best friend”) just because she’s bringing medicine and bread to a Noor (it was probably Melik, but I don’t remember for sure). Anyhow, as much as I understand that the point was that things weren’t going well for Wen and she was lonely, I did find myself annoyed by the fact that she had no decent friends before Melik shows up. And no wonder the Ghost almost seems like good company, compared to these people… sheesh…

Conclusions

I got pretty caught up in both of these books for a portion of them, however, where I felt that The Winner’s Curse had a strong ending that left me wanting more, the ending Of Metal and Wishes made me feel less enthused about the story and also did not feel like a story that needed to continue, despite the open-ended feel of it.

What stands out most to me about The Winner’s Curse was it got me thinking about psychology a lot: the psychology of war, the psychology of love, Stockholm Syndrome, etc., and any book that gets me thinking about psychology definitely gets bonus points in my book. I also loved that Kestrel was able to sort of step back from her feelings and examine what needed to be done (though I do think she did sometimes allow her feelings to get in the way, she was still overall much better about not letting them control her than a lot of YA heroines), access what risks she should take, and that in the end she made choices that took Arin and the reader by her surprise. I’m pretty excited to see what happens in book two.

4-5stars-editContent Advisory: Some mild language and violence and a rape attempt (not graphic)

With Of Metal and Wishes, I was interested in seeing how the various Phantom elements played out and found most of it really compelling, but by the end of the story I felt a little lackluster about Melik, especially when he just disappeared on Wen. He explained why later but it felt sort of flimsy, especially considering the ending already felt a little weirdly paced to me. But the final image of Bo having left Wen with the metal figures of her with the faceless guy I thought was a great image and, quite frankly, I am satisfied with that as the final image of this story and don’t really care to read the next book. I don’t want to really see how the revolution carries out or what happens with Melik. To me, The Phantom of the Opera was retold in this book and my interest in these characters does not go beyond this plot.

4stars2Content Advisory: Some gory details of violence, some sexual content but no sex scenes

What are your thoughts on these books and their similarities and differences?

Harry Potter Mini Reviews

Movies: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 

harrypottermovies1&2While overall I liked the first two movies well enough, I do hope they get better. They’re not bad, but they are only pretty fair adaptations in my opinion. I don’t mind changes that help speed things along, but I hate completely unnecessary changes, some are even downright awkward, like Draco and Harry having their first encounter in front of everyone instead of on the train. I noticed the director changes after the second movie, however, so maybe I will like the next director’s way of doing things better. A lot of the direction felt inconsistent, with moments that felt well-done like the invisibility cloak, but then there would be simple scenes, like in the second movie when Harry and Ron are hiding from Dumbledore, Mr. Malfoy, etc. in Hagrid’s cabin and the whole scene was just so poorly staged. I do like the actors and actresses though, but of course I’ve known of who was who in the cast for years now, so I already feel familiar with them. I’m also looking forward to continue watching them grow up (even between the first two movies Harry had a growth-spurt and poor Ron was going through puberty!).

Book: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

harry-potter-new-chamber-of-secretsSee my review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone here

I don’t have too much to say about Chamber of Secrets, especially since I waited too long after reading this book to start writing this review, but it felt a little too much like it was trying to stick with the formula of the first book, and it didn’t really introduce very many new elements or character insights. I did, however, really like the chapters we got where Harry spent time with Ron’s family. It was nice to get more of Ron’s mom and to meet his dad, and I’m looking forward to more reading about the Weasleys (all of them!) in the future books. I’m surprised by how quickly Hermione was fine with breaking the rules (even suggesting it!), but I guess after everything that went down in the first book she realized things could get pretty serious at Hogwart’s. But still, why don’t these kids ever just tell the adults what’s going on?! But as mentioned before, I’m still really looking forward to continuing the series.

What are your thoughts on the first two Harry Potter movies and on The Chamber of Secrets book?