just what it sounds like…reading as a religion

Supernatural

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!

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Do You Believe in Magic?

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia

The biggest issue in sequels and series, more often than not, is that later titles are never as good as the first.  Of course, there have been titles and series where this is obviously not true, as well.  I was pretty delighted to find that Beautiful Darkness, the sequel to Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures, is IMHO better than its predecessor.  I’d been really excited to read both books in this series since I got an ARC of the second at ALA.  If you read my review on Beautiful Creatures, you’ll know that I thought the authors did a beautiful job creating the mythology of the magic in that novel.  This second novel is abundant in magic, which makes this girl REALLY HAPPY.  Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I have always been a little obsessed with magic of all sorts.  I love love LOVE princesses and fairy tales.  I spent quite a bit of my childhood determined that I was a FABULOUS magician.  Boxes of memorabilia in my parents’ attic can attest to an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.  The recent surge in urban fantasy and paranormal romance has been like heaven to me.  There is this little glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, magic is real.

If any of the previous has left you thinking “Man, this girl is nuts!”, Beautiful Darkness might not be the book for you.  Creatures presented us with a very typical Southern small town, with the magical aspects very slowly appearing throughout the novel and presented as a very small and hidden underworld of the town.  In Darkness, that underworld takes center-stage and the reader realizes this is much, much bigger than just a few magical people living in a normal town.  So basically, although this continues the story from the first book, I kind of felt like this was a totally different kind of book.  Although, this kind of makes sense.  Ethan is getting farther and farther into the magic, so the book has to become more and more focused on the magic.   But still, this makes it a different kind of book.  The first book is so much about teenage relationships and learning to trust another person, with the magical aspects being important but merely a detail in this larger romantic story.  On the other hand, this book is about the relationship between Ethan and Lena, but much more so about Ethan understanding the magical world and avoiding an epic magical war.  I think this difference is important because I felt as though I was making progress and getting deeper into the story, whereas if we just had more magic girl in normal world drama, this book might have felt stale.

At this point, you’re probably like “Come on, Sarah, give us the dirty details.”  Well okay then!

  1. Amma is awesome!!!!  If you’ve read Creatures, you know this.  In this book, she gets even more A.W.E.S.O.M.E., with capital letters.
  2. Lena is a crazy person.  You’re probably gonna hate her this time around.
  3. Ridley actually has depth.  I knew it!
  4. Link is smarter than you think.  I just wanna give him a big hug.
  5. Magic exists where you least expect.  This is a reoccurring theme.
  6. It wouldn’t be magic if there wasn’t an ancient war going on.  Duh!
  7. And…best of all…Link’s mom watches Cat Week.  It’s like Shark Week with cats.  Strangely funny that Ellen just did Cat Week on her show last week.

I know,  I know.  These details aren’t very dirty.  I just really don’t want to spoil this one for you.  It’s too good.  I will admit that quite a few of the plot twists were obvious before they happened.  However, I also had quite a few moments where I was like, “WOAH! You got me!”  I do think that part of the fun of a book is trying to figure things out and I think that this book provided a good balance of foreshadowing and complete surprise.

If I have anything to negative to say about this book, it’s only that after the intense ending of the first book, the beginning of this book is kind of calm.  Therefore, at first, it took me a little bit to get into it.  I think this was because I was ready to get right into more intrigue, whereas the beginning of this book is heavy on basic exposition to get people the back story if they haven’t read Creatures or if they have forgotten some of the detail.  However, once this book gets into its central plot arc, it really moves.

I urge you to check this series out, especially if you are into any of the paranormal romance/urban fantasy stuff that’s really big lately.  This second novel in the series, Beautiful Darkness, hits stores Tuesday, October 12.  (That’s next week, so you should be pretty excited!)


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. 🙂


AAAAAAAHHHHH…….REAL MONSTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, or Why Freaky is Fabulous

Monster High by Lisi Harrison

Monster High by Lisi Harrison

No, I’m not talking about a fabulous old Nick cartoon, I’m talking about a fabulous new book series.

You may know Lisi Harrison from her Clique and A-List Series.  Well, in September, Lisi is introducing her new series Monster High and I am loving it!  The first volume is aptly titled Monster High and introduces readers to the unique place that is Merston High and the interesting students that attend there.

Melody Carver has just moved to Salem, Oregon from L.A.  Unlike her sister Candace, who has nicknamed their new home bOregon, Melody is excited to move somewhere where looks aren’t top priority.  Although work by her plastic surgeon father has left her visibly flawless, Melody still feels different on the inside.  She appreciates the beauty in individuality.  With one look at her new neighborhood, where every house is as different as the people who live inside them, and Melody knows she’s gonna like it on Radcliffe Way.

Frankie Stein is new, too.  Really new.  15 days new. Not just to Radcliffe Way and Merston High, but to the planet.  Frankie, as evidenced by her name, was built by her father–just like every family member in the long line of Frankenstein monsters before them.  Frankie is just like any other teen girl, except that she is made of metal parts and has to charge herself every night.  However, with the help of Fierce & Flawless Makeup to cover her green skin and her obsessive love of pop culture and shopping, Frankie might just be able to pass for normie.

Monster High by Lisi Harrison Back Cover

Monster High by Lisi Harrison Back Cover

Follow Melody & Frankie as they begin a new year at Merston High, where monsters and normies mix.  New girls trying to fit in at a new school, sounds pretty simple right?  Oh, did I forget to mention that if the normies find out monsters exist, there will be major trouble?  Oh yeah, and Frankie has a tendency to want to fight for the cause of equality and freedom for monsters? And, oops, Melody (a normie) just might be dating Dr. Jekyll, or is it Mr. Hyde?

Monster High is a perfect blend of teen girl drama with the hot supernatural trend.  I found myself delightfully surprised by this novel and am eager to follow along as this series unfolds.  I will warn this first novel introduces a lot of characters.  You might want to read slowly or reread some parts, so you can get them all straight before the series goes further (and possibly delves deeper into the lives of the background characters.  However, you may also choose to just focus on the trials and tribulations of the two main characters: Normie Melody Carver and Monster Frankie Stein.  The novel alternates between the viewpoint of these two characters introducing the normie view of Merston High and the monster view of Merston High.  Melody and Frankie are both admirable protagonists for their real imperfections.  They present a relatable character for young girls who don’t associate with the pretty and popular type.  They take their imperfections and are proud of them, which can hopefully empower young readers.

On a side note, the Monster High book series seems to be just one part of a bigger picture–a Monster High franchise by Mattel in partnership with Hachette Book Group.  Mattel has already released a series of dolls and web content based on the Monster High characters.  I stumbled upon this after seeing a tv commercial for an animated web adventure called Monster High bearing the same pink bow skeleton logo as my Monster High advance copy book.  So, I went and checked it out at http://www.MonsterHigh.com.  This website offers children and teens the opportunity to enroll in Monster High, play games, and watch animated webisodes featuring the Monster High characters.  I will note, however, that the web content and the dolls only feature the monster characters in their more natural monster state.  No normie characters like Melody and her friends here.  Also, in the web series, the monsters attend Monster High, as opposed to Merston High, where there are no normies–just monsters–and a really creepy setting.  However, on its own, the web content and the dolls are quite cute and fun and will definitely broaden the audience for Harrison’s coming book series.

All in all, I’m pumped for the release of Monster High and future titles in the series.  The are just a good, fun read for a rainy day snuggled in bed or a sunny day by the pool.

P.S. Did you catch that Merston High is an anagram of Monster High.  Nice touch Lisi!

P.P.S. Isn’t the cover art adorable? Totally voltage!!!!

P.P.P.S. I haven’t read much of Lisi Harrison’s work before, so I just recently stumbled upon her website:  http://www.lisiharrison.com.  You should go there and check out her blah-g (blog)–it’s fun and funny!


Getting Graphic Part 1: Welcome to the Black Parade

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way

In my new series, Getting Graphic, I’m gonna explore the world of graphic novels.  It’s something I’ve been interested in for awhile and a medium that I think is really exciting.  For this first part, I’m sticking with a comic staple—SUPERHEROES!

Title: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite

Author: Gerard Way

Illustrator: Gabriel Bá

The Whole Picture: In this collection by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, we meet the Umbrella Academy, a futuristic group of superhero orphans raised by a mysterious scientist called The Monacle.  Each of the seven members of the Academy has struggled with figuring out who they are and the life they want to have.  The death of The Monacle brings them all together again as adults where they must deal with the past as they try to save the future.  This motley collection of strange superheroes is both fascinating and slightly disturbing—creating a hero comic for the modern age.  The characters of this book are its most intriguing feature.  Unlike typical heroes, the members of the Umbrella Academy seem to live in the real world where the distinction between good and evil isn’t black and white.  As you read, you will see the psychological depth of these characters and what being ‘super’ does to them as they try to understand what it means to have the powers that they do.  The Umbrella Academy is strange and quirky, but intensely enjoyable.  The characters, unlike any I have ever met, are weird and wonderful and leave the reader begging for the story to be continued.  If you enjoy this book, the series is continued in the 2nd volume, The Umbrella Academy: Dallas, and the forthcoming 3rd volume, The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion.


Slightly Bewitching, or Why I Just Can’t Help But Love Books About Magic

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Let’s just start this off by saying that I love books about magic.  I’ve always been just a little obsessed with magic and dreamed about it being real.

Title: Once a Witch

Author: Carolyn MacCullough

The Story As It Is: Tamsin Greene comes from a family of witches.  Having a Talent is not only common, it is expected.  When Tamsin, who has been foretold to be the most Talented of them all, passes her all-important 8th birthday without any signs of a Talent, she feels left out of her family’s world.  When a handsome stranger comes looking for help and mistakes Tamsin for her Talented older sister Rowena, Tamsin takes the opportunity to prove she belongs.  This simple act will change Tamsin and her family forever, as a centuries old battle of good and evil is reignited.  Having always felt useless in comparison to her Talented family, will Tamsin have what it takes to save them?

The Story As I See It: Tamsin is a really cool heroine.  Unlike most female protagonists, who are often shy and/or somewhat average, Tamsin is tough and edgy.  Wearing thrift store clothes and feeling comfortable around boys, Tamsin is a rock star.  The reader will wish they were friends with Tamsin and could go out in NYC with her and her best friend, Agnes.  As in all underdog stories, I was definitely rooting for Tamsin to succeed–not only in finding her purpose in life, but also in her romance with childhood friend, Gabriel.  Even with her tough exterior, Tamsin is truly loveable and her adventure is dangerous and exciting.  You won’t be able to put the book down as the tension builds.

Verdict: This one is fun and exciting!  The author builds a great magical history and legend that is well-imagined in a modern world.  The end will leave you screaming for a sequel.


The Meaning of Thirteen, or Why I Made This Awesome Podcast

So, this one’s all about a class assignment.  But, I promise that there are some awesome books within.  Basically, I had to book talk three books like I would as a librarian for a teenage audience.  The tricky part is that it had to be recorded as a podcast.  This is my first foray into podcasting, so be gentle.  Anyways, it needed to have some kind of general topic or theme.  Being the nut that I am, I couldn’t just pick any old theme.  So, I came up with what I consider to be an awesome idea: Books With the Word Thirteen in the Title

I know it’s probably not nearly as exciting to you as it was to me when I had this epiphany.  So, I’ll get to the point–what books did I choose?

Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman

Well if you’ve read my blog previously, you will know that I already reviewed Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why and loved it!  That was my starting point.

From there, I added Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman.  I’ve had an advanced reading copy of this lying around since October.  I loaned it to my teenage brother and he told me it was awesome.  For some reason, probably general lack of time, I’ve put off reading it.  All I have to say is, boy, I wish I’d read this sooner.  Exciting and thrilling!  Totally great new take on the current trend towards the supernatural.  This book just hit the shelves last week and I am glad to be able to recommend it.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Rounding out my podcast, I added something for those of you that prefer sunnier reading–Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.  In this book, Ginny finds herself traveling alone through Europe following a mysterious trail of letters that her dead aunt has left for her.  Along the way, she finds adventure, romance, and littleof herself.  This one is definitely ‘awwwwwww’-inducing.  So of course, I loved it–despite its slight cheesiness.

So, without further ado, if you would like to listen to my podcast it is located at: http://readligion.podbean.com

Enjoy!