Mini Reviews: The Body Electric and All Fall Down

The Body Electric by Beth Revis

gr-thebodyelectric– The world building was really interesting. I especially loved all the technology featured. I found out after reading that this is actually the same universe as the Across the Universe trilogy, just what’s happening on Earth, so I thought that was neat.

– The characters were pretty bland, but I did like Ella better than Amy from Across the Universe. Both Ella and Jack have personalities, so they’re not completely cardboard, but nothing about them really stands out from the pages. After I finished reading, I saw where Revis said that Ella was actually based somewhat on Rick Deckard from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which I thought was an interesting concept. I definitely would have liked to have seen that played out more.

– The conspiracies got to be a little too much for me after a while. When you start being annoyed by how many weird plot twists there are, that’s not a good thing.

– Editing wise: This book repeated itself a lot. I felt like Revis wasn’t counting on us remembering things we read 50 pages before. Sometimes when I read long books that take a while I forget things from 200 pages ago, but I didn’t need to be reminded of certain events or certain relations with people over and over again in this 300-something page book. Also, I got to sick of every reference to bees. Everything goes back to bees. By the time I read All Fall Down (which, I had read The Deathly Hallows between these two books) there was just one reference to a bee I was like, No, not bees again! 

Overall, the story this one was pretty interesting, but I would have like to have seen more dynamic characters and a plot that maybe felt a little less dystopian/conspiracist and more just straight-up sci-fi.

Content Advisory: Moderate language (I don’t think there were any f-words), mild sexual content (there is kissing and a non-graphic memory of sex), and some violence. 

3stars2All Fall Down by Ally Carter

gr-allfalldownThis was my first Ally Carter book and I will definitely be coming back for more. I could tell that her tone was light, even when dealing with serious issues, which I think some people might not like, but it doesn’t bother me as long as I feel like she’s still dealing with the serious issues, which I feel she did. There were ZERO swear words in this book, which I really appreciated, and there was also ZERO romance (though I think there will be some in future books for this series).

Through most of the book, I was really finding no fault with it, though it wasn’t exactly blowing me away in a 5 star manner, but then the plot thickened and really picked up my interest, but then towards the end I was left confused by a couple of things. (Highlight for spoilers) I don’t understand what exactly happened that made Grace accidentally kill her mom. So she saw her mom’s death being staged (Why was she around? That was really poor planning, guys.), and so I guess she reacted emotionally (which is a tendency of hers) and sought to take care of the man who she felt killed her mother. But where did she get the gun? How did she end up shooting her mom? Is she THAT bad of a shot? Did her mom run out in front of the gun? I just don’t understand logistically how it all went down, and Ms. Chancellor only half explains it. 

Also, it really, really PO’s me to no end when adults in stories will lie, lie, lie to teens in order to “protect” them from the truth. I’m sorry, but just stop it. Just tell the truth. You made this girl believe she was crazy and screwed her up for 3 really essential years of her adolescence. Way to go, guys. 

And lastly, how did they expect Grace to trust Dominic enough to go off to another country with him if they weren’t going to play it straight with her? Again, Dumb Adult Syndrome really irritates me, and these adults seemed so competent and not like idiots until all this stuff came out at the end. 

Grace was a good character though. I liked how she was flawed but still sympathetic, even though she was not always likable. I think Carter did a really good job of finding that balance with her. I loved the secondary characters: Alexi, Noah, Megan, and Rosie, and I just love that she had people who really cared about her and supported her. I look forward to seeing more of them.

This book ends with the almost-revelation of a secret that will definitely be featured in the next book, and I look forward to reading more.

Content advisory: Some violence and traumatic memories, no language or sexual content. 

4stars2If you’ve read either of these books, what are your thoughts?

Recently Spotted Redesigns

I feel redesigned book covers is a pretty well covered topic in the book blogging world, but I recently spotted two redesigned book covers while browsing a bookstore that I had not seen on the Internet yet, and felt compelled to share!

The Redesign I Don’t Like

breathe-annie-breatheAfter reading just the first sentence of Things I Can’t Forget, I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to read any book Kenneally has set within a 50 mile radius of where I live (you can see me explain that here), but the cover for Breathe, Annie, Breathe really caught my eye when I first saw it. I think it was the font and the illustrated clouds, so cute! Also, it seemed to be pretty clearly about running.

With the redesign, on the other hand, we have something so much more generic. The focus is more so on a romance than on the running, which is fine, but it’s not where near as creative or interesting. I’m curious if they felt they needed to make this book seem more in line with her others.

The Redesign I Do Like

landry-parkI don’t dislike the original cover for Landry Park, but I really, really like the new one. I love the dress, I like the font, and I just really like the whole feel of it. I have no idea which one is more reflective of the actual story, but this new cover definitely caught my attention in a way the first one had not.

What do you think of these redesigns? Do you agree or disagree with my assessments of them?

Discussion: Plot Vs. Character?

I am always shocked when someone says they care more about the plot of the book than the characters. This boggles my mind to no end, because what’s the point if you don’t connect with the characters? I plan to do another post soon about the hero’s story arc, and to me that arc makes or breaks a story. But of course, I have to wonder…

tonystark-too-much-to-askI mean seriously, if you make me love characters enough, I will devour scenes where they just sit around and talk, but I have to admit, plot is imperative to make the story move forward. Can the character have an arc without a real journey? But what do the journey and the arc matter if you don’t even care about the character in the first place?

princessbride-intellectRecently I read The Body Electric by Beth Revis, and I found I had the same problem with it that I did with Across the Universe: the characters felt so bland even though they were in an intriguing world with high stakes. But since I didn’t care about the characters too much, what difference did it make? And then right after I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Of course it’s an unfair comparison, but let’s look at it anyway: I had gotten to know these characters and were already attached to them, but through their circumstances they grow leaps and bounds just in this one book. And when I read Shadow Scale, I was thrown into an interesting world with characters I already knew and loved, once again, but the arc felt so static. What was the point of the journey, ultimately? I really had no idea.

Characters help connect me to the story. The plot moves the characters through an arc. And if the arc is successful and I see positive change on the other side (or really well executed negative change), then I am ultimately satisfied with the story.

plot-vs-charactersDo you consider yourself more of a plot person or a character person? What do you think matters most in a story/character arc?

My Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books.

This was a hard one. First off, book quotes. I love awesome book quotes, but I sometimes keep track of them, sometimes don’t, and when I do, I do so in a myriad of ways, so finding them again is always questionable. Secondly, these quotes were supposed to challenge, inspire, make you think. I feel like my favorite fiction quotes deal more with the characters, or the way something is described, rather than inspire me. However, I did come up with 10 quotes, that are probably not my true top 10 (I didn’t want to overrun this TTT with C.S. Lewis), but that do inspire me, both in fiction and non-fiction.

Disclaimer: I have not read 3 of these books. I know you’re thinking, What?! Two of them I have seen movie adaptations, and the quotes were in those as well. For one, the quote is in a book I have read, I just have not read the book it originated from. Onward!

the-four-lovesC.S. Lewis is always on the money when he talks about love; he has so many great quotes about it. This one is challenging because it’s the realization that love really can and does hurt, but as he also explains, the only way to avoid it is to give your heart to no one or nothing, at all, period.

the-book-thiefAs a reader and a writer, I can definitely relate to this, and it challenges me as the latter.

little-womenWhen I first read this in Little Women, I felt as if Marmee was my mom talking to me. I had so many of Jo’s interests and I could see so much of myself in her, and so it really felt personal to read that about having extraordinary gifts. Of course, 10+ years later I have let life get me down at times: my career is no where near what I anticipated or had hoped (though I found contentment with where I am). But, I move forward. I continue to write, and my life is not over. Reading this inspires me to keep working towards that not ordinary life.

unbrokenSo much happened to Louie as a POW in WWII, and I remember when it came to this moment in the book, I mean it just made it really real. I teared up at the thought of Louie going through all the horrible stuff he did, then to come back to his safe, quiet home that had been marred by war, though not the way he had. When he returned he struggled with that sense of normalcy after so much pain. His journey was far from over at this point, but it was a beginning moment in his path to healing.

bird-by-birdAs a perfectionist, oh I can relate. And perfectionism hurts when you’re trying to write out that first draft (or two or three), which was what Lamott was referring to here. I have to write without fear of getting the words wrong; I just need to write from my heart.

lesmiserablesSo this is also a line from the musical, and when I heard it for the first time it really struck me. As someone who reads the Bible, I find it Biblical too. When you care and love for others, especially those who are hopeless, you really seeing God through it. It’s so simple but so powerful.

allegiantSay whatever you want about Allegiant, but this quote really stood out to me when I read it. It’s easy to allow ourselves to just overlook something we don’t like, but truth is truth.

the-giverI can’t imagine not being able to share memories, holding them in like Jonas had to. Sometimes the most fun I have it sitting down and reminiscing with someone.

mistbornI think this quote has a similar theme to others I’ve shared; that faith and belief aren’t always going to be appealing, but you have to stay strong through the hard times and hold on to that faith.

the-two-towersI love Sam’s whole speech, about how people in all these stories have all these opportunities to turn back, but instead they face the darkness and push through, and it’s exactly what he and Frodo and the others go through. But this is a powerful moment, the acknowledgment that despite all the bad, there is good, and it’s worth it to keep going it for that.

These lovely pictures are from Unsplash, Gratisography, and Raumrot

Which of my Top 10 quotes is your favorite? What is another favorite inspiring book quote for you?

I Read Shadow Scale and I Was Disappointed

I adored Seraphina when I read it last year. I even reread it before Shadow Scale‘s release because I wanted to be prepped for being back in the world. I couldn’t wait to get back in the world. But as the title of this blog post clearly states, I was not entirely happy with the result. It wasn’t dull or safe, if only it was, instead I just flat out did not understand the point of a lot of what happened in the story; and the ending left me feeling so hollow, especially when things did not play out the way I wanted them to, with nothing better or at least hopeful to counterbalance these things.

I will say one more thing before I get into the spoilery part of this. As someone who hopes to be published one day, I don’t ever want to make it appear like I’m bad-mouthing an author. Because of this, I have considered lately not posting negative reviews, since I feel I’m getting closer to hopefully becoming an author myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed all my books so far this year until now. I disagree with choices Hartman made in this book, but ultimately it’s her story and creation and I respect that, even I don’t care for the result. I want to make that clear because I might get ranty, but it’s only because I love Seraphina’s character so much and I felt so invested, only to be let down. I wouldn’t post this review if it had not been a highly a highly anticipated sequel for me.

(And if you haven’t read it I wouldn’t scroll down at all due to GIFs at the bottom, though I know I will get less comments that way, but I just really want to warn you!)

*** SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT ***

gr-shadow-scaleThe pacing of this book was quite strange in my opinion, kind of like Mockingjay. It starts off in Godderd, and I feel like I read that part so long ago I don’t even remember much of what happened other than Abdo and Lars experimenting with mind-fire. Then Seraphina sets off on her journey to find the other half-dragons. At first it was kind of interesting; she has varied success with those she comes in contact with the others of her kind. I was along for the ride because I love Seraphina, and Abdo too, though it was sad once he had his accident and was so much less himself.

Anyhow, I was going along with the story, not loving the pace but tolerating it, but then everything between Porphyry and going back to Godderd just felt sort of odd. I don’t know how to explain it. I was just really, really ready to move on at that point. The Porphyry part sort of dragged for me with not much happening (though I thought the setting was interesting), and then all the flying and walking and hanging out in caves was just boring.

The big bright spot of Porphyry was finally getting Kiggs back in the story. He has a new beard and Seraphina loves it! Ah it’s so cute! They do their best to maintain appearances though, but seriously, there seems to be no backing down, nothing to indicate the future heartache.

Now, in case you’re thinking I’m dense because of the prologue, I will say it worried me. I did know that them not being together in the end was a possibility, but I had hoped if that was the case, it would have been handled much differently. Mostly I was hoping I misinterpreted what I thought I was reading between Seraphina’s words to the historian.

And then what’s worse about how everything went down is that Glisselda doesn’t even love Kiggs that way because she loves Serpahina. It would have been more manageable if she loved Kiggs, because at least one of them could love the other in their marriage. Instead it’s entirely political, which might be realistic, but this is a book and I want my happy ending, dangit. But my ships have been sunk before, Louisa May Alcott did it without making me hate Little Women. So what’s the difference?

Well, where is Seraphina’s happiness? Or Kiggs’? I love them both dearly and want them to be happy. But I don’t feel we good closure for Seraphina AT ALL. She says she’s OK but I don’t see any development to indicate this or feel it from her. Orma doesn’t know who she is, so that sucks. If she absolutely could not be with Kiggs in Hartman’s mind, could we at least be able to go through Serpahina’s thought process and end up OK in the end with her? Maybe Josquin could come back in her life and we can see a hint of a possible romance there? (By the way what happened to him after that accident? I was expecting follow-up but we never got it!) Not that it has to be about romance, but I just want the girl to be happy, and being back home with her music and peace without her uncle or Kiggs or even Abdo is not enough for me.

And now seems just a good as time as any to bring up Orma. There was so little Orma in this sequel it was ridiculous. I understand why in the context of this particular story, but quite frankly I don’t think we needed this story. I think this could have played out differently. I loved Orma in the first book, and I wanted more of him and his snark.

So Pandowdy takes Jannoula to live in the cave with him for the next millennium? Why? What’s the point? Does he actually know he will be able to withstand her? It just feels like that leaves the door open for her to come back. I guess Hartman was trying to be humane, but honestly someone should have killed that woman. I’m sorry she had a crappy life but she was evil.

And The actual war is so glossed over it doesn’t even feel like it happened. I thought the book was going to be much more focused on the actual war, not the politics of its impendent.

There is so much detail about what Seraphina is able to do at the end with the fire and is she a Saint and all this stuff and I don’t like it really tied in well with the story overall and I especially don’t think it really did anything for the ending. I mean, the whole thing about half-dragon Saints and their abilities was really interesting. but everything felt so empty at the end anyway it was just like eh, what was the point?

But most of all, I’m furious about the Kiggs thing. There are few romances I have shipped harder than Seraphina and Kiggs, and she kept building it up in this book only to cut it off abruptly with lame reasoning that is reduced to a few sentences. If you’re going to burn my ship down, at least let there be gut-wrenching conversations, thorough thinking-it-out sessions, and one last goodbye kiss with all the feels. (I mean seriously, that scene early in the book when Kiggs is holding the book between him and Seraphina and he kisses it because he cannot kiss her I about lost it! It was the sweetest thing ever and then what?! UGH.) otp-feelsAt least sink my ship in a blaze of glory.

go-down-with-shipI hate for anyone else to feel the way I do, but I would also love to know if I’m not alone! Was anyone else disappointed by the ending of Seraphina’s story in Shadow Scale?

Mini Book & Movie Reviews: Fairest, The Half-Blood Prince, and The Theory of Everything

The Books

minireviews-fairesthpFairest

This backstory on Queen Levena was certainly illuminating. You can understand why, with the family that she has, that she would turn out so twisted, but that certainly does not excuse what she does. What she did to Evret Hayle made me extremely uncomfortable, and I was so sad for him and Winter and everyone else who was really involved. It was also really interesting though to see how everything tied in, and I think that helped me enjoy this book a little more. I think this is definitely an interesting addition to The Lunar Chronicles and have to hand it to Marissa Meyer for not pulling any punches with Levena’s character.

Rating: 4 stars

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

So I rated this one 4.5 stars on Goodreads, and I stand by that rating, but this has been one of the more forgettable books for me so far I think. I mean, what happens? Going to class, SNOGGING (I hate that word so much, especially since it sounds make up, but I guess it’s British?), Harry trying to spy on Malfoy, more snogging, Dumbledore sessions, and then SADNESS. Yeah, I had not been spoiled on that so I did not see that coming.

Ron was ridiculous in this book. I mean, I know he’s a teenage boy but wow, I wanted to rattle him. And then Ginny. I thought I was supposed to like Ginny? Actually, I did like her in the end and what she says to Harry, but I don’t like the Ginny who makes out in public and yells at Ron about it and just acts annoying. I was thinking what the heck does Harry see in her? And not only that, but I don’t feel Harry having feeling for her, I’m just told that he does. I’m not buying into the Harry-Ginny or the Ron-Hermione romances the way I hoped I would.

But I adore Luna. And I did like this book, overall, it just mostly feels like another stepping stone to the grand finale.

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Movies

minireviews-hptheoryHarry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

This is definitely my second favorite movie of the series so far now, as I felt it did a much better job of sticking with the highlights and not making too many unnecessary changes, except for a couple of glaring exceptions. First, what the heck was with them burning the Weasleys’ house?! And then that’s it, no follow up?! Maybe it will make sense to me later, but right now I’m just perplexed. That’s a big thing to just add in there! And then of course there’s Ginny…

I’ve seen where a lot of people complain about movie Ginny, which at first I wasn’t understanding, because, as I mentioned before, I found her kind of annoying in the book, and she seemed sweet in the movies, including this one… UNTIL IT GOT WEIRD. What was with her in the Room of Requirement when she’s like, “Close your eyes,” and kissing Harry and “I can stay if you’d like me to.” I mean, really?! That was the weirdest crap ever.

But I loved that scene with Harry and Hermione when she asks Harry how it feels to see Ginny with Dean, and he responds to her crying, “Like this.” So sweet. And I liked Luna saving Harry in the beginning, not that I had a problem with Tonks doing it in the book, but this way we got less Snape and more Luna. (I HATE THAT MAN.)

Rating: 4 stars

The Theory of Everything

This movie was not what I expected. No doubt that Eddie Redmayne did a phenomenal job playing Stephen Hawking, but I felt very hollow at the end. I didn’t feel I really got the “point” of the movie, and all the triumph in Hawking outliving his life expectancy is overshadowed by the brokenness of his family. If you’re expecting this movie to simply be a feel-good love story of Stephen and Jane and how they deal with Stephen’s conditions, then you’ll find yourself as disappointed as I was. This story ends with the deterioration of their marriage, which made me just feel sad for them, even more so than the diagnosis had.

Rating: 3.5 stars

What are your thoughts on any of these books and/or movies?

Bookish Wedding Inspiration: Magnolia

I thought it might be fun to try creating themed wedding ideas based off of books, and how the main character’s wedding might look with our modern sensibilities, and thus, Bookish Wedding Inspiration was born! This is my first time to do a bookish wedding post for a contemporary, which was kind of nice for once because I didn’t have to worry about time period, just personalities and setting! If you want to read more about my thoughts on Magnolia, feel free to check out my review.

bookish-weddingBride and Groom Look

The Tux and Dress

bride-dressDress Source

I spent a lot of time narrowing down a lot of beautiful dresses, trying to find something that was classic, elegant, and had a touch of vintage. Ultimately, I felt this picture was really just the whole package for Jemma and Ryder. I think it definitely evokes the feeling of a classic Southern wedding.

Bridal Veil

bride-veilI feel that Jemma would refashion a vintage veil, and perhaps end up with something like this Juliet cap style veil.

The Bouquet

bouquet-magnoliaSource

I thought it would be fitting for Jemma to carry a magnolia bouquet, and I found this one simple magnolia that I felt would be perfection for her.

The Boutonierre

Lisa Lefkowitz, Snippet & InkSource

And of course, Ryder needs a magnolia too.

The Bridesmaids

Dresses

bridesmaidsSource

I felt that with Jemma’s taste for retro styles, these Alfred Sung dresses from Nordstrom would be a good fit. I figured with five bridesmaids, they could each have a different style, like above, but all in the same champagne color. (Yes, they’re all supposed to be the same color, but we all know after that blue/black/gold/white dress incident that the appearance of colors can be deceiving.) Anyhow, I love how these dresses have a classic look with just a dash of an early 60’s feel to them. Plus they look like they would be great for wearing at a Southern spring or summer wedding!

Bouquets

bridesmaid-bouquetAnd to go with their champagne dresses, I envision the bridesmaids carrying bouquets of champagne hydrangeas.

The Portraits

portraits

www.sunglowphotography.comSource for bridal and wedding party portraits

The Venue

weddingSource

For whatever reason, I picture the ceremony at Jemma and Ryder’s home church, and the reception outside, probably at one of their family’s houses. These pictures really evoked Southern charm for me, I mean, check out those stained-glass windows, that willow, and those magnolia leaves on the table!

Reception Details

Lighting

lightingI love quaint lighting, and I thought this magnolia chandelier and these mason jar lights would both set the mood nicely for Jemma and Ryder’s wedding reception.

Place Setting

magnolia-leaf-place-settingSource

The Cakes

cakesMagnolia wedding cake/Groom’s cake

I loved how this cake had the same simplicity of the magnolia bouquet I chose for Jemma, and then how perfect is this cake for Ryder and his love of astronomy? Except the flavor would be caramel cake, his favorite.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of bookish wedding inspiration! What would you expect at Jemma and Ryder’s wedding? 

Discussion: Books from Childhood/Teen Years

Two things prompted this for me. The second was this week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic that I honestly feel too lazy to try to work out, which is Top 10 Books From My Childhood (Or teen years) That I Would Love To Revisit. The first was an interaction I had on Sunday morning. My mom works in the library at our church, and I always go in there to chat with her after service.

So this Sunday, there was a family who came in and one of the girls in this family came straight up to the counter and asked my mom if she had any recommendations. My mom was really sure, and then deflects the question to me. This girl was obviously young, and I was thinking geeze thanks, Mom, I have no idea. I asked the girl how old she was and she said 11. That didn’t really help me at all except now I know what an 11 year old looks like (there’s a blur between about 6 and 12 where all kids look the same to me). She ended up walking away with nothing, and I spent some time after that looking at the middle grade/YA section we have there, if you can call it that. I mean, the selection was fairly decent considering I don’t see much more (maybe even less sometimes) in this age category at a Christian bookstore. Obviously, there is a better selection at like a Barnes and Noble when you’re going beyond just Christian reads, understandably, but it really got me to thinking.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this girl goes through a similar experience than I did. When I was a kid, I was reading things like American Girl, Babysitter’s Club, Boxcar Children, and I also read some Christian books aimed for younger audiences, and thanks to looking at the shelves at the church library I remember some of those books: The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle by Bill Myers, Dixie Morris Animal Adventures by Gilbert Morris, and others I don’t remember the names of. But at some point, probably close to 11, is when I came across an awkward stage of life in my reading where I discovered:

– The books for younger kids weren’t cutting it for me anymore.

– The books for teens were annoying because they were all dating and drama.

– While I had the reading ability for many adult books, most of them dealt with adult problems.

I couldn’t help but wonder if this is where this 11 year old girl is at.

It does seem that there is a decent selection of middle grade/younger YA books out there now, that maybe there is a good selection that is appropriate for an 11 year old, but I feel I know I certainly missed that boat. I spent years struggling not knowing which books were worth picking up. And I know this isn’t a genre that most of my readers read, but I feel that there is definitely a black hole in the middle grade/YA market in Christian fiction. There really needs to be more options.

But then again, maybe there are plenty, I honestly don’t really know since I’m not seeking those books out. Maybe instead the problem is that all these books are just titles on a shelf. This 11 year old girl just wanted to know what we liked. What had been tested and approved by someone else? How do you get this sort of feedback when you’re 11, from someone other than friends? 11 year olds aren’t reading blogs or on Goodreads. I think the best option they have is book fairs, and even that only helps so much.

I think it’s easy for people to overlook this age group. I remember some of books from my younger childhood years, and I remember some of the books from my teen years, but there is a bit of a void in the middle. I guess what I want to know is: do you remember what books you read when you were in that preteen/tween age? Do you remember feeling an awkward stage between kids’ books and teen books?

The Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List. I was lousy at following these lists first, but after a while started doing better. I read about half of my winter list, so not too bad. Only time will tell how I’ll do this time around, especially with long books on my list…

1. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

gr-shadow-scaleThis was on my winter TBR, but I knew that was unrealistic anyhow. I will definitely read it soon though… probably next, in fact! I just got my copy and it’s so pretty!

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

gr-deathlyhallowsGuys, I’m almost done with Harry Potter! I won’t know what to do once I finish! Oh wait, yes I will… read all these other awesome books on my list… though I will also be a little sad it’s over.

3. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

gr-savethecatThis is a writing book that I have heard is helpful with plot. This could come in handy during Camp NaNoWriMo.

4. Do Over by Jon Acuff

gr-dooverI have loved all of Jon Acuff’s books so far and look forward to reading his new book, coming out in April! (P.S. If you pre-order, you get a free copy of the e-book that disappears on release day.)

5. The Well of Ascension & 6. The Hero of Ages, both by Brandon Sanderson

mistborn2&3This spring I will finally follow-up on Mistborn! Nikki said I’ve got to read these back-to-back, so I’m planning to do just that.

7. The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

gr-thelasttimeI’m nervous about this one, because I don’t do these intense contemporaries, BUT I think it might be helpful for me as I work on my WIP, and I can get it from the library. At least I’ve heard good things… if you call crushing people’s souls a good thing…

8. All Fall Down by Ally Carter

gr-allfalldownI have this one on hold at the library, so hopefully it’ll become available at a time I can read it. I haven’t read any Ally Carter yet but have been wanting to.

9. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

gr-firefightI’ve got this one on hold too. I already had to drop it once and put myself back on the waiting list again. One day I will get to it…

10. The Body Electric by Beth Revis

gr-thebodyelectricI bought this one recently and it sounds interesting, so I really would like to check it out sometime in the next few months!

What’s on your spring TBR?

Review: Magnolia

As unlikely as it seems, amidst Harry Potter and my other fantasy reads, I actually picked up a YA contemporary, Magnolia by Kristi Cook.

gr-magnolia

What I liked:

– This book it set in the South! I was born in Mississippi and while I did not live there long, I have family who lives there and I have gone back many times throughout my life. I understood several of their local references, and I also liked the nods to other places in the South that I could relate to, especially when they talked about Houston and things that they did there.

– There were Star Trek references! If you know me, you know that’s a complete win right there. Of course, knowing about said references ahead of time helped me move this contemporary up my TBR list. I was amused that the cats’ names were Spock, Kirk, and Sulu. Though the latter really should have been McCoy, but oh well.

– I mostly liked the story and romance and got caught up in it, but there were issues with it that I will delve into further…

What I didn’t like:

– How the romance ended up. I was all aboard for these two getting together, but I didn’t like how they hid everything from their parents, and were making out and probably more in each others’ rooms for who knows how long without their parents even knowing. I understood why they wanted to keep it a secret at first, like those first few days or a week, but six weeks later and it’s still a secret! When are you going to announce it? When you’re engaged, you’ve eloped, when you kids? When does it end?! Just fess up and let them have their happy dance, and let them be involved in your relationship. I know that sounds weird and old-fashioned of me, and I’m not talking some Duggar-style courtship here, but I think it’s good, at that age, to have some parental involvement, especially under their circumstances where they are already all friends. Also…

– Are their parents that dumb?! Six weeks of hiding their relationship and none of these four intelligent, grown-up people haven’t figured it out? I don’t buy that for two seconds.

– The pacing of their story. So, Jemma has hated Ryder since 8th grade. Senior year, she finally admits when it started, and it felt strangely unnatural, like this would have come up in conversation before. I mean, what have they been talking about for five years when her hatred of him comes up? When she talks about what happened at the dance, it honestly feels to me like this was something that happened 6 months ago, a year tops, not like it happened five years ago.

– In my opinion, there’s too much swearing, and let me explain myself on this because I know I’m more sensitive to this than most. Ryder is portrayed as being such a good guy (he doesn’t drink… but apparently he drops the f-bomb?) and he and Jemma are both raised by well-behaved Southern ladies. I’m not saying they wouldn’t swear at all… I live among people from these kinds of families and I know they do, but I think about a quarter of the swearing would have felt more appropriate. Some of it felt forced, like it was just thrown-in there just to prove these are red-blooded American teenagers.

– There are not enough Star Trek reference or of Jemma’s dad (who is where the Star Trek references really come from anyway)! OK, I admit, this probably would not be a complaint if Debby’s review of this book talking about this aspect of the novel had not sold me on bumping it up my TBR. But I wanted more! And I loved what little we got with Jemma’s dad; he seemed really cool.

– Seriously, two kids from Mississippi are going to go to schools in New York that they haven’t even visited? I appreciated all the sentiment about following your dreams and all that jazz, but this felt like too much of a stretch to me. We never even got resolution that Jemma’s parents could afford NYU. I think these kids are in for a rude wake-up call. (Man I sound so old right now, ha ha.) Jemma’s mom has not even researched NYU enough to know that the campus is sprawled out rather than traditionally more enclosed. Really?

– The Romeo & Juliet parallels felt pointless and really didn’t work for me. There’s the basic premise about the families, except it’s opposite from Romeo & Juliet because the families love each other and want to be united in marriage. But we have Ryder, who has an R name, and Jemma, who has a J name. There’s a character named Rosie (think Rosaline), and I think there might be someone with the last name Montague? There were probably more I missed, but anyway, it didn’t do anything for me.

Final Thoughts

This was pretty much a 4 star book until the ending kind of made it feel a little weak overall to me. Final rating: 3.5 stars.

3.5stars

mccoy-halfsmileWhat are your thoughts on Magnolia? Also, be on the lookout because I plan to do a Bookish Wedding Inspiration post based on Magnolia in the next couple of weeks!