just what it sounds like…reading as a religion

Mystery

YATV

What. Am. I. Going. To. Do!!!!!

It’s the crappiest part of the tv year!  All my favorite shows are just minutes away from their season finales or they are taking ridiculously long hiatuses so they can make it to May Sweeps with new episodes left. Dumb!

To make me feel better about all this tv sadness, I am going to share some of my favorite YA-inspired tv shows.

GOSSIP GIRL

GOSSIP GIRL

Gossip Girl

This one’s currently on a break, but it’ll be back in April.  Thank goodness!  This one is all about the DRAMA.  If you’ve been living under a rock, here is the scoop:

Lost of rich kids living in New York City and getting into all kinds of trouble.  (I was going to say their were some not so rich people, but even the Humphreys are now shacking up with the Van Der Woodsens.)

This is one that I initially loved.  Over its four seasons, I’ve gone back and forth on this one.  There is definitely a lot of drama and lots of intrigue.  But, I can only take Lily and Rufus getting into the same fight so many times.  However, this show is more about the young’ins and they are crazy.  They have been through every ridiculous situation out there (drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, long-lost siblings, almost-incestuous relationships, mean girls, class issues, corporate espionage, secret societies, death, car accidents, missing persons, backstabbing, banishment, amnesia, and on and on and on).  However, I’m a little tired of the constant relationship back and forths and am often annoyed by the couplings.  Can Serena please be with someone…anyone… for more than 2 episodes? 

Still, I love this show.   It divulges quite a bit from the books (as any tv show based on a book does), but it is really addictive.  You can’t help but be jealous of the gorgeous clothes and the gorgeous people.  I will continue to watch it as long as it’s on, but I can’t guarantee I won’t be shaking my head thinking, “This. Is. Ridiculous.”

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars

This one is currently running, but we only have 3 episodes left this season.  Pardon me while I shed a tear. 

Four high school girls reconnect after the death of the 5th member of their group, Allison.  When they start receiving messages from a mysterious A who knows things only Allison knew, they get caught up in a dangerous game of cat and mouse and start to realize Allison might not have been the person they thought she was.

This show makes me so tense.  I am dying to know who A is and who killed Alli.  I haven’t read the books, but I have read spoilers online.  Still, there is no guarantee that the show will follow the storyline of the books. 

The primary antagonist of this show is the mysterious A character.  He/She only speaks to the girls through various non-verbal messages (text, email, post-its, etc.)  A’s threatening messages usually involve some sort of blackmail about the many secrets the girls hide (a mom who stole money from work, a student-teacher relationship, being a lesbian, parents who cheat, past relationships with sister’s boyfriends, etc.) 

Hints online suggest that we might find out who Alli’s killer is by the end of season.  Are Alli’s killer and A the same person?  That’s one we’re going to have to wait a little longer for.  Also, showrunner I. Marlene King insists they are going to keep A’s identity secret as long as possible. 

This one is definitely a puzzle, but I’m enjoying trying to figure it out.  Even if it doesn’t sound like you’re thing, check it out.  At least for the opening credits.  Some of the best I’ve seen in a long time!

And Now….the Granddaddy of them All….

Vampire Diaries

Vampire Diaries

VAMPIRE DIARIES

Probably the best YA-based tv show on right now.   Also, currently on a break.  I hate you CW.  Look for it again in April.

The town of Mystic Falls, VA seems to be a magnet for all things supernatural (Vampires, Witches, Werewolves).  Lots of pretty teens deal with keeping the supernaturals a secret, while also trying to protect all the people they love.

Popular human Elena Gilbert seems to be the center of everything.  She is torn between her love for two vampire brothers.  Stefan, the good one, is her boyfriend.  Damon, the bad one, loves her but is fighting his urge to be a better person.  I am definitely a Delena shipper.  These two are just two hot to not be together.  (Plus, Stefan seems to have much more chemistry with new vampire Caroline.)  Add in the fact that both brothers used to be in love with the vampire Katherine, who is the greatxabunch grandmother of Elena and who could be her twin, and you have some serious drama.

As you watch the show, you discover that Mystic Falls has a long history of supernatural connections and the present is no exception.  Everything that has happened over the course of history seems to have built to the present, where Elena struggles to figure out how it is all connected to her.  As she tries to figure out the mysteries of the past, the present seems to be ever on the tipping point of all out supernatural destruction of one sort or another.

This one is very sexy and very bloody.  I hope it stays around along time.  Unlike every new character on the show.  Who seem to have a 2-episode max before they die.

All in all, I love me some YA-inspired tv shows.  All the drama of a good YA book with tons of yummy actors.  I’m gonna be on a boat for the next week, so I’ll be taking a little break from my tv.  My DVR will be waiting patiently for my return.

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I’m Baaa-aaaaack!

Damon and Stefan

I usually put a book cover here, but I couldn't resist the opportunity for a little Damon Salvatore.

Hi y’all!

Things have been so crazy here!  Thank goodness it is the end of the semester!  I am so excited to take a nice break and then come back for my FINAL SEMESTER OF GRAD SCHOOL, after which I will be a REAL LIVE LIBRARIAN.  So exciting!

Anyways, you’re probably wondering what I’ve been reading.

Well, in the last month, I’ve technically read four books, but I wanted to wait till I was done to review them.  That’s because I’ve been reading the Vampire Diaries books by L.J. Smith.  I have the nifty two-in-one versions that combine the first two books and the last two books into two compiled volumes.  So, basically, once I finished the first book, I had to go right into the second because they are in the same volume and all.  Then, when I was done with that, I figured I might as well read them all before I write about them.  Truthfully, I haven’t quite finished the last one, but I’m getting there.  Enough about my madness, let me talk about the books.

Here’s the deal.  Again, this is one of those cases where I watched the tv show first.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you that I am in L.O.V.E. with the tv show.  SO exciting and dramatic and sexy!  I went into the books with the typical understanding that a book and a movie are never the same.  This has never been more true in my eyes.  I liked the Vampire Diaries books, but they are definitely not the tv show.  If you go in expecting them to be the same or vice verse, expect the tv show to follow the books, you are going to be really disappointed.  Besides the names of the characters and some of the minor plot points, these are two TOTALLY different entities.

So, to look at the books themselves, I thought they were enjoyable.  Standard vampire danger and allure.  Romance.  Requisite love triangle (not nearly as hot as the tv stelena/delena struggle).  Epic battle of good and evil.  These are a good read for a lazy day, but not something I am just crazy about.  I actually found it kind of hard to connect with the characters.  Overall, however, a good time.

What’s up next, you ask?  Well, it’s Christmas break, so I will definitely be doing some reading.  A few years ago, I took the break as an opportunity to read the entire Gossip Girl series.  I can get a little single-minded, occasionally.  This year, I have some ideas in mind.  I don’t have room to take a ton of books to my parents with me, so everything waiting on my bookshelves will continue to wait.  I think, with the help of the public library, I am going to tackle reading the 5 Fitzgerald novels. I am OBSESSED with the Jazz Age right now.  Although, really, who isn’t?  Have you seen Boardwalk Empire? Plus, then I will totally be in the right frame of mind for reading Vixen and/or Bright Young Things, which I will (fingers crossed) hopefully receive as Christmas gifts.

That’s about it for now.  Stay classy!


The Following Book is NOT, I Repeat NOT About Vampires

So, I went on a little bender….a v-bender that is.  To be more specific, I dropped out of the realm of the living to read all the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris.  I will admit that they got to me.  I am definitely hooked.  I will also admit that I am one of those foul people who watched True Blood long before she ever picked up one of the books that it’s based on.  Better late than never though, right?  Anyways, I won’t get into them too much here because they aren’t a YA series, which is mostly what I write this blog about.  Don’t get me wrong….everyone who knows me can tell you that I will not stand for any kind of censoring of any sort.  Truthfully, I very well could have read these books in high school, but I grew up in a pretty liberal household.  I just want it to be clear, for those young adults who prefer literature of a higher moral code, that these books were not written for a YA audience.  As such, objectionable language and sexual content abound.  But, for those of you who don’t mind such things or who relish this kind of literature, I say DIG IN!

So, if I’m not gonna write about the SoVampMysteries, what am I gonna write about? Something that is NOT, I repeat NOT about vampires.

I just want to make sure we’re clear about this, the following book is NOT about vampires.

Why am being so adamant about this, you may ask?  Let me explain.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Earlier this year, I heard a lot of talk about Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  Everytime I heard someone talk about this book, it was in the context of a discussion about vampire books.  Add that to someone telling me that this is like Twilight, but the girl is the vampire–and I built up this whole notion of what I thought this book was.  Finally, this weekend I sat down and read it.  Guess what?  It’s not about vampires, at all! What were all those people smoking?

What is it about, then?  Well, I don’t want to tell you because it’ll ruin the fun of discovering it for yourself.  I will concede that is about something supernatural…but not vampires.  LOL

Ethan Wate grew up in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina, just like his father before him and all the Wates before him.  They live in the same house, surrounded by the same people, living the same life.  Nothing ever changed, until now.  After Ethan’s mom dies in an accident, Ethan’s dad locks himself away in his office writing and Ethan succumbs to terrible nightmares.  Every night he dreams the same thing.  A girl is falling, leaving him, and he can’t save her.  When his dream girl shows up in Gatlin, Ethan thinks that maybe his life is gonna turn around.  But when unexplainable things start to happen and Ethan’s housekeeper Amma, the one person he feels like he can always trust, tells Ethan to stay away from the new Lena, Ethan knows that change might not always be good.  Still, Ethan knows that he has to look deeper, that everything must be happening for a reason.  Can Ethan and Lena learn to trust each other so that they can figure why they are so powerfully connected?  Will change mean a new future or no future?

Watching Ethan and Lena learn to trust each other and fall for each other is breathtakingly beautiful.  The connection between them, with its supernatural appearance, also seems to resemble the nature of true love–powerful beyond all things, even when it might mean danger or heartbreak.  At times, it was slightly frustrating watching Lena continue to distrust Ethan and push him away.  But, while this is painful, it lends a nice touch of a real relationship.

While many powerful and heartbreaking things ensue, this book also provides its share of lightness and humor.  I think it’s mostly due to the badass female quotient.  Amma, the Wates’ housekeeper, is tough as nails.  It is amusing to watch her as she lays into Ethan with the tenacity only true caring and love can create.  You know in an instant that no one crosses Amma because she does what she does for your own good.  Ethan’s three eldery aunts, the Sisters, are just as endearing.  At times slightly off-kilter and at other times just plain stupid, the reader knows the Sisters’ way and word are law–even it means there are only 11 true states (the Confederate ones) and itching is spelled ichin’.  There’s just something you have to love about women who think that being buried with your recipes so as not to share them is a sin of the highest order.

There’s also a badass supernatural quotient in this book.  I told you before, I’m not gonna give too many details here.  Let’s suffice it to say that Garcia and Stohl have built a pretty enchanting world here.  You are gonna love unraveling it.  Wrap up all that supernatural goodness and put it in a nice package with a southern drawl and you are gonna be instantly charmed.

I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Beautiful Darkness.  I’ve got an advance reading copy from ALA sitting right next to me.  I think I’m gonna take a night off and enjoy a chick flick though.  I could do with a little light to balance out the dark.

As always, happy reading!  And if you’ve read Beautiful Creatures already, I wanna hear from you.  Did I miss something?  Did you think it was about vampires?  Cause, I’m still mulling that one over. 🙂


And So, We Reach the End.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Note: You may find spoilers here.

Recently, I proclaimed my excitement over receiving my copy of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the final installment in the Hunger Games Trilogy. I have been waiting in anticipation for this novel to be released because I became so deeply attached to the characters and the story in the previous two novels in the series. I was certainly not disappointed by this last chapter. Collins writes this novel with as much intrigue and emotion as the previous novels. I will say, however, that this one depressed me. I think the only reason I came away from the book feeling less than satisfied was due to the level of sadness in this novel. I’m a sucker for happy endings. However, I found that the emotional nature of this book made it far more realistic (given the content), than if the novel had been a happy fairy tale ending to the series.

Katniss does not live in a happy fairy tale world. The future, dystopian society in which she lives is full of very real problems and struggles. The point of this novel, and the series thus far, has never been about giving Katniss her fairy tale ending, in my opinion. Sorry, if that spoils something for you. However, if you’ve read the first two novels, you probably aren’t expecting this one to be all rainbows and sunshine. Katniss has always been on a journey to find herself, to decide what she values, and to determine what she wants from life. She has struggled in determining her views of right and wrong and in developing her sense of trust.

I don’t want to give away too much plot detail, as I am forever encouraging people to read this series from the beginning. I will just say that this third installment, Mockingjay, is superb. It is suspenseful and gut-wrenching. You won’t be able to put it down. I will warn that it is considerable more violent than the first two installments IMHO. However, it may just be that the violence is of a grander and more random scale, more so than it being more graphic, which gives it such an intense feeling. Also, though you may have already picked this up, this one is sad. Be prepared with a large box of Kleenex!

Finishing a book series is always a bitter sweet moment. One is anxious to see how their favorite characters end up, but is sad to know this is the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games Trilogy as a whole. It is one of the best things I have read in some time, for its emotional qualities and its detailed content. I urge you to read this series if you haven’t and I look forward to seeing what comes next from Ms. Collins.


Heartbreakingly Beautiful, or Why Tragedy Can Make a Person So Endearing

Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

O.M.G.

I am totally reeling after reading Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James.  This fast-paced psychological thriller is intense, but I loved every moment of it.

17-year old Katherine Patterson has suffered a terrible tragedy. (I won’t share it here because, although I had some idea of what happened prior to reading this novel and some reviews give it away, unraveling all the details of Katherine’s past is one of the most suspenseful aspects of this novel.) But, Katherine has moved to the city to start a new life.  Her many attempts at remaining alone and aloof are easily squashed by the beautiful, exciting Alice, who wants to be her friend.  Katherine, who has spent a long time being sad and avoiding any traces of her old party-girl lifestyle, is easily persuaded to take up Alice’s fun and relaxed ways.  But is Alice really as carefree as she seems, or does her beautiful exterior only hide terrible secrets?

This book is so many things at once–thrilling, seductive, touching, intriguing, scary.  Told in alternating settings of past present and future, readers of this novel won’t be able to help but wonder if Katherine will ever overcome the tragedies of her past or if she is destined to end up far worse off.  This novel will hook you from the opening page and keep you guessing throughout.  I couldn’t put it down.

This book was published for adults by Random House, under the Bantam imprint.  When it was promoted at the Random House Fall Preview for adult titles, it was mentioned that it would also appeal to young adults.  Upon reading it, I found that it would definitely be appropriate and appealing to the young adult reader.  The underlying path of the story finds the 17-year old protagonist coming to terms with what it means to grow up.  I would recommend this to a certain type of young adult reader.  However, I will warn those of you reading this review that the novel is quite dark.

I was prepared to tell you to look for it on August 31st , as that’s what my advance copy claims it’s release date to be.  However, upon doing a little further research, it turns out that this book was actually released last week.  Lucky you! You should really go out and get yourself a copy.


The End of an Era, or Why I’m Feeling a Little Disheartened

The Luxe Series Books

The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen

I have just returned from a lovely weekend in Pennsylvania, spending time with my family and visiting with relatives.  Most delightedly, I was afforded quite a bit of time to read.  As such, I was able to finish digesting the dubious chronicles of Manhattan’s social elite in Anna Godbersen’s decadent Luxe series.

Oops, so sorry for such a formal tone.  It seems reading this series has left a mark on my grammar.  Anyway, per the title, I’m feeling a little disheartened as I finish this series.  I definitely enjoyed reading it.  Godbersen writes so deliciously about the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s turn-of-the-century elite that one can’t help but soak it all up.  So, in essence, finishing this series has saddened me as I wish there was more to read.  However, although I couldn’t tear myself away from the series, I felt myself a little disappointed as the ending didn’t turn out as I expected and wished.  Though, this is possibly one of the greatest characteristics of the series–the ability to make you believe you know what will happen next and surprise you all the same.  Fear not, while I was momentarily disappointed by the ending, I did find it quite satisfying.  As such, I urge you to read this series if you like a good tale of passion, society, and debauchery.  For those of you considering getting into this series, you might be swayed by reading my earlier review of the first title, The Luxe.  The excitement and mystery of this first novel is certainly carried out through the series’ three other titles, as they take twists and turns you might not ever have imagined.

I will have to be satisfied to wait for the first of Godbersen’s Bright Young Things.  This new series of four titles will bring the excitement and scandal of the Luxe series to the Jazz Age, with a new cast of young ladies to live vicariously through.  The fist title in the series will be released in October.  I wait in anticipation, for the beginning of this new era.


De-Luxe, or Why I Am In The Best Mood Ever!

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

So, I’ve begun digging into my mountain of books.  Some have been better than others.  But, one has triumphed above them all.  I just finished it and I must say, “Fantastic!”

Title: The Luxe

Author: Anna Godbersen

The Story As It Is: The book opens with the obituary of one Miss Elizabeth Holland, the princess of Manhattan society in 1899. On what was to be the day of her wedding to Mr. Henry Schoonmaker, only son of one of Manhattan’s oldest families, everyone instead gathers at her funeral.  Jumping back, Godbersen then recounts the weeks leading up to this tragic event.  The reader begins to see that Miss Holland and many around her were keeping quite a lot of secrets.  This novel gives the reader an inside look at the treacherous world of Manhattan’s high society, where rules matter and appearances can be deceiving.  Shifting focus between chapters,we are privvy to the lives of Miss Elizabeth (who is the picture of a perfect lady, totally practical), Diana (her younger sister, who isthe exact opposite and quite the romantic), Penelope Hayes (society upstart and the realization of the word ‘frenemy’), Henry Schoonmaker (a turn of the century Chuck Bass, being all play and no work), and Lina Broud (Elizabeth’s maid and one-time friend).  Each has their own rules to follow and, in turn, secrets to hide.

The Story As I See It: The privileged young ladies of this novel live in a world I’ve been known to dream about.  They are outfitted in only the best fashions and attend lavish balls.  Young men trip over themselves to court Miss Elizabeth.  With its obsession with luxury, turn of the century Manhattan appears to me like a fairytale world.  Combine this lavish, wealthy society with all the drama and scandal of today’s Gossip Girl and you have The Luxe. Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down.  Each little detail fits together like a giant puzzle as you draw ever closer to the moment of Elizabeth’s death.  Was it an accident or was she murdered?  Along the way, you have a little bit of everything–romance, mystery, plotting, back-stabbing, and even a little passive aggressive cat-fighting.  I don’t want to spoil the book by giving away too many details.  I think that this novel’s quality of unfolding its mystery ever so slowly is what makes it truly special.

The Verdict: If you are a fan of Gossip Girl and the sort, you will love this–end of story.  If you are very much NOT a fan of Gossip Girl, I urge you to pick this up anyway.  While this novel plays out with all the drama of today’s modern equivalent, it does so without the crassness critics of Gossip Girl cite in their dislike of the series.  It is, hands-down, a novel that sweep you up into its luxurious, dangerous world and have you feeling like you never want to leave.  I have the sequel on request at the library and I am dying waiting.