Fracture

First Lines: The first time I died, I didn’t see God.  No light at the end of the tunnel.  No haloed angels.  No dead grandparents.  To be fair, I probably wasn’t a solid shoo-in for heaven.  But, honestly, I kind of assumed I’d make the cut.

I have 4 new books in my possession.  To say I’m excited would be an understatement.  It’s fantastic when my library gets in new books and separates them from the rest of them.  I love just being able to pop in and see what’s new.  And this was one I just had to grab when I saw it on the shelf.

Eleven minutes changed Delaney Maxwell’s life.  For eleven minutes, she was trapped under the ice at a local lake until her best friend Decker pulled her out.  And in those eleven minutes, Delaney died.  But somehow, she survived.  Now, everyone wants Delaney to be the same girl she was before, but she doesn’t feel like that’s her anymore.  Strange sensations make her brain itch and her hands shake for no reason.  Oh, and Delaney is drawn to the dying like a magnet.  Troy Varga is a boy who went through sometime similar to Delaney and has the same ability.  But is this ability really a gift or a curse?  And is Delaney really the miracle everyone is making her out to be or the freak of nature she feels like?

There was a lot of depth in this book.  I was surprised.  I thought it would focus more on the ability to sense people dying, but it really didn’t.  I mean, it was definitely part of the plot, but it wasn’t as big a part as I was expecting.  It really focused on Delaney’s struggles with returning to normal life after a life-changing accident.

The characters were all pretty great.  Delaney has this insane depth to her.  There’s so much about her that is in agony and is grieving, but no one really sees how much she’s hurting because they’re too relieved she’s still alive.  I mean, do we really think about what it’s like for survivors like this?  I don’t.  But now I certainly will.

Other characters.  Decker.  Such a sweetheart.  I fell for him about as hard as I fell for Peeta.  Delaney sees him so well, but at the same time, she doesn’t.  It’s an interesting contradiction.  (If you’ve read this or plan on reading this, may I also suggest you take a look at the 28 page short story of those eleven minutes from Decker’s POV?  You have to pay in the form of a tweet or a Facebook post, but c’mon.  That’s nothing.)

I felt like there was a lot of character growth in this story and that made me super happy, especially since it’s so short (260 pages).  Megan Miranda is definitely being added to my watch list.  I expect more great things from her in the future.

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Spotlight Friday (34)

Hello, lovelies!  I apologize deeply for missing last week’s installment, but I had a crazy busy weekend and there was no time to work in a Spotlight and get my homework done.  One had to go to the wayside and, well, you know which one I picked.  But here are three new books!  I hope this makes up for it!

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Release Date: April 24, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life. 

But her revival, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process. 

What’s To Like: Ok, so even I can admit that the tagline on the book cover is cliche.  “Stop the countdown.  Save the world,” sounds so much like Heroes tagline, “Save the cheerleader, save the world.”  Apart from that, I’m very much looking forward to this.  I just finished a book about a girl who died but was brought back to life.  I love stories like that, oddly enough.  And I love that already this is super suspenseful.  FBI agents, a countdown clock, nothing being an accident.  I just hope it doesn’t come out cliche.

My review of Unraveling.

7 Clues To Winning You by Kristin Walker

Release Date: April 26, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)When a humiliating picture of Blythe goes viral, she’s instantly the target of ridicule at her new school. To salvage her reputation, Blythe teams up with Luke to win the Senior Scramble scavenger hunt. But Luke is an unlikely ally and potentially can’t be trusted. 

Perhaps it’s his Shakespearean witticisms that reel Blythe in despite her better judgment . . . or maybe she just craves the thrill of the game. But as the hunt progresses, their relationship heats up. Soon their madcap mischief spirals out of control. Blythe is faced with arrest and expulsion, among other catastrophes –until Luke shows her what the Scramble (and love) is really about.

What’s To Like: Kristin Walker is one of those authors that, after I read her debut, I instantly added her to my watch list.  Her writing style is real and hysterically funny.  A Match Made in High School is one I still turn to when I need a good laugh.  So I’m very much looking forward to the cooky characters she dreams up for this one.  Especially this Luke and his Shakespearean witticisms that will, likely, turn me to mush.  Such is the life of an English major.

My review of 7 Clues to Winning You.

Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads): Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t any more. 

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

What’s To Like: I can totally relate to this.  As a girl who has always been more comfortable with boys than girls (I thank my 3 brothers and 0 sisters for that), I’ve been through stuff like this.  It’s so cool to see that other girls are like this because girls never talk about it.  It’s not cool after elementary school to be friends with boys and not like, kissing them.  Or at least it was where I was from.  So yes, I can relate to this premise.  I hope it lives up to my expectations of it.

Jessica Rules the Dark Side (Jessica, #2)

First Lines: “If you are reading this, Antanasia, it means that fate has unfolded as your father and I intended, and you have found your way home.  I hope that your existence up to this point has been a happy one–and that you are prepared for the challenges and risks to come…”

I went absolutely bananas over the first book in this “series”, if you wish to call it that.  It’s really more like a stand-alone novel that suddenly got a sequel.  It’s not a series, per se.  Anyway, I really enjoyed the first book, so I couldn’t not read this one.

*Um, there’s sort of JGtDotDS spoilers ahead.  (isn’t that a crazy acronym?)  Anyway, venture ahead at your own risk.*

Happily married, Jessica feels like her life is finally falling into place.  But being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Isolated and alone except for Lucius, Jessica feels enormous pressure to conform to rules she doesn’t even know.  And before she knows it, Lucius is fighting for his life after being charged with a crime he didn’t commit…or did he?  Jessica has to find out the truth before it’s too late to save her true love.

So, there were things that were similar to JGtDotDS and things that were different.  Luckily, the things I liked about Jessica’s Guide were in this one.  Like how we get to read Lucius’s correspondence.  That always lets so much insight into his character.  I love it.  And there’s stuff about their relationship, which I find so adorable.

There were also scenes from Mindy’s point of view, which was excellent.  I found myself liking her more than Jessica in this book because Mindy was actually willing to be funny and say things that could be misconstrued badly by the other vamps present.  And she allowed us to see more of Raniero.  Can you say “heck yes”?

Anyway, there were also things I didn’t like so much.  There’s supposed to be a mystery surrounding this whole business of who framed Lucius, but I had it figured out very early on.  It seems the only one who doesn’t know is Jessica, so when you read from Mindy’s perspective, it all gives it away.  Sure, the ending was a little more involved than I thought it would be, but still very predictable.  I was actually trying to see who might be framing who in this Matrix-Inception styled thing where the framing just kept going on and on and on.  Unfortunately, it was not that complex.

Overall, I would probably say I liked it.  It wasn’t amazing like the first one, but it wasn’t terrible.

The Hunger Games

May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor.

Do I need to go into why I wanted to see this movie and what it’s about or can I skip that today?  I do believe I’ll skip it and just pretend I did actually give you everything you probably don’t read anyway.

I liked it.  A lot.  It’s not quite love level, but it was very good.

Where do I start?  Well, there were a few things that were different from the book.  I knew about a few from a People or Entertainment Weekly article, I’m not sure which.  Anyway, I knew about some of the changes, but not a few.  A few I think should have been in the movie, but whatever.  I guess it sort of was, but not as clearly as in the book.  I’m not making any sense, am I?

I really liked the actors and actresses.  I know there was a lot of “Oh, is so-and-so really suited for the role?”  But I thought it was really good.  There were moments Jen Lawrence totally nailed Katniss.  There was once I could actually see her shaking.  And while there wasn’t much of Gale, Liam totally nailed the part.  I was this close to changing my mind from Team Peeta to Team Gale.  Yet I restrained myself.

That’s the next thing: Peeta/Josh Hutcherson.  I will talk about both.  Now, I was really unsure about him.  I mean, he seemed alright in the previews, but he didn’t ooze Peeta like Jen oozed Katniss.  (That sounds really gross, my apologies.)  Do you see what I mean?  There wasn’t a lot of Peeta personality in the previews.  But my God, did he play the part well.  He’s charming and subtly charismatic.  I was always drawn to him.  Seriously, holy crap!  There’s one Peeta you’ll see in the interview with Caesar Flickerman (which was so charming) and one you see with Katniss and in the arena.  Everything, to me, screamed Peeta.  And I loved it all.

Is it awful of me to say that Peeta was my main reason for wanting to see this movie in the first place?  Don’t get me wrong, I adored the series.  It’s amazing.  And I knew I was going to see it regardless of all that.  But Peeta is almost the soul of the story, if Katniss is the heart.  The two are so different and yet so similar.  And Peeta’s so self-sacrificing it’s humbling.

I was grateful there wasn’t much shown violence in this.  There was, absolutely, but not to the extent it could have been.  I’m a squeamish person, so I’m not a fan of large amounts of blood shed. Even some of it that was there was nearly too much for me to look at.  But honestly, it wasn’t much at all.

I kid you not, I was shaking the whole time I watched the movie.  I was anxious, nervous that things weren’t going to live up to my expectations.  I was excited for certain scenes I was really hoping would be amazingly awesome (ahem, the cave, for example, or Peeta’s interview with Flickerman).  Once, I totally grabbed my brother’s arm and shook him.  He didn’t appreciate that.

I think it completely lives up to the hype, but my brother disagreed.  So make up your own mind after you see it.

Once Dead, Twice Shy (Madison Avery, #1)

First Lines: Everyone does it.  Dies, I mean.  I found this out for myself on my seventeenth birthday when I was killed in a freak car accident on my prom night.  But it was not accident.

I believe what first caught my attention and lead me to this series was a short story in an anthology called Prom Nights from Hell.  Trust me when I say you’re going to want to read that before you read this.

Madison was killed on her prom night…which was ironically also her birthday (in case you didn’t happen to get that from the first lines).  Four months later, she’s still trying to come to terms with what happened.  She stole the reaper’s amulet when she died, which now gives her the illusion of having a body.  A light reaper (aka a good one) named Barnabas is trying to train her in the art of reaping.  The dark reaper that killed Madison is still after her and she’ll do whatever she has to to get him off her back.  With the help of her new crush and her guardian angel, Madison’s ready to tackles what comes her way…or the trouble she seeks out.

What seems to bother everyone that reads this is how abruptly it starts.  You are tossed into Madison’s world without any real explanation of what happened four months before.  It was really hard to keep up with a few things…and I even read the “prequel”!  That could have been vastly improved upon and easily, like memory sequences or something.  There was nothing like that.

Otherwise, it wasn’t that bad.  There were a few other things I had minor issues with, but they really aren’t worth mentioning.  The ideas about reaping were interesting, especially since there’s are “good” reapers and “bad” reapers.  It’s quite weird how they differentiate themselves.

The characters were interesting, but not at the same time, you know?  Maybe not.  What I mean by that is there were times when I was excited to see what happened to them next and others when I’m just like, “I am done with you.  What happens next?”

So I give it an “eh”.  It was alright, but it wasn’t spectacular or anything.

Cloaked

First Lines: I’ve never seen a princess before.  And it looks like I won’t be seeing one today either.

I’m a fairy tale junkie.  It’s a problem, but one the media keeps feeding, what with Once Upon a Time and all the upcoming fairy tale retelling movies like Mirror, Mirror.  So yes, I know my fairy tales.

Johnny’s life is not exactly typical, but definitely relatable.  For generations, his family has worked in shoe repair, which you can imagine doesn’t make much money anymore.  Anyway, it’s what Johnny spends his afternoons doing.  Until a princess comes along and asks for his help.  See, her brother has been turned into a frog.  The princess needs him back otherwise all sorts of terrible things will happen to her kingdom.  With a lot of magic and a little help, Johnny sets off on the adventure of a lifetime.

Maybe you can tell from the summary a bit, but it’s an amalgamation of about 6-8 fairy tales.  I give it props for that because just sticking with one of these really short fairy tales would have made for a very short book.  It gave the story more levels.

And even though I only knew about 2 of these fairy tales, the whole story was entirely too predictable.  I picked up on one major plot twist in the first third of the book.  So that sort of ruined that surprise.

I thought the book was alright.  It didn’t amaze me by any means.  Johnny was just an alright guy.  He refers to himself as “average” a lot, and that’s really all he is.  He doesn’t stand out among male protagonists.  I had to pick up the book again just to remember what his name was.  I’ll probably completely forget about this book in a month.  There wasn’t anything about it that had that spark.

Some of the other characters, I felt, were more dynamic than Johnny.  Like his best friend Meg.  She was awesome.  She kicked butt.  I thought she should have been the one telling the story rather than Johnny.  I thought she had more to say than Johnny did.  And she had a different perspective on things than he did.  It’s nice to have characters you can relate to, but if they’re too normal…they’re forgettable.

So yeah.  Overall, I suppose I liked it.  But I had too many criticisms of the story.

The Shawshank Redemption

Fear can hold you prisoner.  Hope can set you free.

Before a week ago, I had barely ever heard of this movie.  I mean, it had been on my instant Netflix list once, but I had never gotten around to it and I certainly didn’t know what it was about.  Then one of my friends loaned it to me saying, “You’re going to love this.”  …I hate when people say that.

Andy Dufresne was a young, successful banker in the 1940s before his life took a dramatic turn for the worst.  Now he’s in prison serving life terms for the murder of his wife and her lover.  Andy is unlike any prisoner Red has ever seen before.  He’s…different.  He carries himself differently and he has a different attitude than the other inmates.  This is their story.

It wasn’t until this movie was actually playing that I saw it was based on a Stephen King story.  My initial reaction?  “Ah great.  Here come nightmares.”  Thankfully, this was different from most of King’s work.  By that, I mean nothing creepy or paranormal.  Hallelujah.

I really fell in love with this movie.  Andy has this unassuming nature about him that just makes people flock to him.  He’s trustworthy and honorable, in a place where most aren’t.  He’s one of those characters you don’t realize you care for until he’s weaseled his way deep into your heart.

Red is probably one of Morgan Freeman’s greatest characters.  He takes an almost fatherly role in Andy’s life, especially early on.  After that, it becomes a friendship.  But you can tell the two really care about each other.  I loved Red’s nature as this wise, sneaky prisoner.  He generally had a good heart, even if it didn’t always show through.

I must say, I had no idea what was coming, through the whole story.  It was told in a delightful way where you think you know what’s happening, but you don’t.  Not really.  And it’s a good thing I watched it by myself because I spent a lot of time yelling at the TV.