Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reading Rainbow: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I'm guessing now isn't the best time to introduce this week's book to you, being the busy holiday season and all, but I think you'll need an idea for all those bookstore gift cards you're about to receive, right?  Yes, you will. Since there is nothing better than an epic tale of epicness to sink into during those dreary January days, this book should be on your gift-card shopping list: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.


From Goodreads:
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

I should point out that I love fantasy novels.  If you build me a believable world with strong central characters and some magic thrown in, I'm game. And, if the strong central character is a girl?  Even better.  Elisa starts out a little bit... erm... annoying.  I'm not going to lie.  But, she grows and learns and changes, and you all know I love a story about growth and change, right?  I think Veronica Roth's goodreads review of this book is spot-on in regards to Elisa: "Sometimes I got annoyed with her, but I think that's the mark of a good character--you don't always like them, just like you don't always like your friends or your family or your peers, but you do always root for them."  I concur.  Elisa is such a great character.  You may not be sure of her at first, but you will be wanting to cheer for her in the end, trust me. I honestly think this book is made better by Elisa's insecurities and faults in the beginning of the novel.  

And, oh! the world-building!  It's fantastic.  I loved, LOVED sinking into this world of Elisa's and  learning about it just as she did.  It was fascinating and truly well done.  It's also a story with much heartache and loss, and I always respect that in a book, even if it is hard (and sad!) to read.  But, Rae Carson makes it all worth it.  All of the trials and loss that Elisa endures is what makes her into the person she is at the end.  

And the ending!  This was perfect for a book that is the first in a series.  No ridiculously high cliffs, but instead a true resolution of the story that still made me long for the next book to come out.  I cannot tell you all how happy it makes me to read a book that does this well.  And even though I'll have to wait until next October (!) for the second book, I'll be first in line to pick it up!  

So, if you're like me and love to sink into fantasy during the colder months, definitely pick up The Girl of Fire and Thorns.  Get yourself a chair by a fire and a hot drink and enjoy!  

P.S. We will probably be taking a break (big surprise- hah!) next week, but we'll be back for our BLOGAVERSARY along with a giveaway of Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare!  Yay!  In the meantime, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and a very Happy New Year to all! Love, Leigh and Stacie

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reading Rainbow: Fun and Fast Reads

The holiday season is upon us and for a lot of us, that means traveling.  I always love having a fun, fast read in my hands before boarding a plane, starting a road-trip, or spending time with the out-of-town family.  I like having something that is not too-engrossing, but still a great read.  So, today I am sharing with you three of my Fun, Fast Read picks.  They are all told from a boy's point of view, which is not something I normally pick up, but I loved all three of these boys.

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber


I loved everything about this book.  It was crazy, action-packed, and even a little bit sweet.  My favorite thing about the book was that each chapter was titled with a question from a college application.  It put a unique spin on the action and was a fun way to set up the events.  I also loved that there was a Chick Who Could Kick My Ass, of course. 
Goodreads Synopsis here.

Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford


This is a little gem of a book.  I read it for a book club and had no idea if I would like it or not.  It's not really my type of book, if you know what I mean.  But, happily, I ended up loving Carter and cackling at his antics.  I read this book while on vacation with (almost) my entire family and I often worried if my ridiculously loud laughter would wake anyone while I read in the wee hours of the morning.  I was very much surprised at how much I liked this book in the end and I will probably read it again.  Most likely when my son becomes a freshman in high school!
Goodreads Synopsis here. 

Beastly by Alex Flinn


Okay, so I know this has been out forever and it's already been made into a movie but I have never seen the movie and I had resisted the book because it's hard for me to like asshole main characters (like the MC in this book).  But, I do love fairy-tale retellings, so I finally gave in.  And?  I am glad I did.  I loved how Alex Flinn changed the story of Beauty and the Beast, but also how she retained some of the original elements and added her own twists.  I'm a sucker for romance and self-discovery as well, and this book had plenty of both.  It's a sweet story with some dry humor and a fantastic ending. 
Goodreads Synopsis here.

So there you have it: three picks for your holiday traveling needs!  Feel free to leave me some suggestions if you have any - I need some quick reads for this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reading Rainbow: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I know that we usually only rec YA books, but every now and then a book comes along that, while not categorized as YA, has that "YA feel" to it.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is one of those books.  (And you all know I mean that as a very high compliment, because YA books are the best!)  I was very excited to read this book, mainly because of the gorgeous cover, but also because of the much-discussed, intriguing first line, "The circus arrives without warning."  How could I resist that?


From Goodreads:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

I will start by saying that I have a HUGE love of imagery, especially when it is does well.  Some people find this book "too descriptive" and I could not disagree more.  I loved the every last word of this book, and nothing seemed superfluous to me.  Each scene (and oh, the scenery!) seemed so real, so vivid - I could not help but fall in love.  

And then, THE STORY!  It's mysterious, romantic, dangerous, and magical all rolled into one amazing story.   It does jump around quite a bit, so if you're a detail person, pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter.  It took me a bit to realize that the book is not linear, and sometimes this bothers me, but not so in this case.  I loved the way the story folded in and knitted itself together in the end.  The last line of the book (prior to epilogue) actually made me gasp and say (out loud), "Wow, that was good."  

So, if you want to sink into a delicious novel that will keep your mind's eye very busy, definitely pick up The Night Circus.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Edward Cullen Discusses the Name Renesmee

  If you're new-ish around here, you may not know that Stacie and I met over a mutual love of - wait for it - Twilight. Two young (shut it) moms bonding over Twilight? Why, that's a completely original story that NO ONE ELSE ever shares. Except, like, everyone. So, new or not, it's not exactly shocking. When we started the blog we used to kick around with some Twilight-themed posts for fun, which it was, but as time went on we moved on. (Publicly, at least.)

With the advent of Breaking Dawn: Part 1, however, we felt compelled to break our Twi-silence. No, this is not a recap. (We liked it a lot, in case you were wondering, but it was not without the lulz.) This is more of an homage to something the movie did right. There was a lot of humor in this one, and for once it was intentional. We both especially loved a small bit where they poked fun at Bella's choice for a baby name. In honor of that, I give you a conversation that should have happened about the worst name ever chosen in literary history.
"I knew I should've played for future-baby-naming rights!"

Edward Cullen Discusses the Name Renesmee with His New Vampire Wife, Bella

Listen, Bella, honey, we need to talk about the baby.

No, not Renesmee, that's what we we need to talk about... No, no, no! There's no other baby, I just meant.. Okay, this isn't going how I'd planned.

Here's the thing - See, we all thought you were going to die, right? I mean, honestly, no one expected you to make it. So when you suggested Renesmee, well, we just didn't see the point in disagreeing with you. Why upset you more? You were already so pale and thin and lifeless. But then it was obvious you were going to make it through and we realized we couldn't say "Renesmee" without snickering.

Look, sweetheart, we're not making fun of you, really. You were in a lot of pain, and with all the hormones and everything you weren't thinking clearly. It's just a bad name. Even Esme hates it, and she likes everything. 

Don't huff like that. Admit it, it wasn't your most thought-out decision. I can see it on your face.

Anyway, we were going to wait for you to come up with a new name, but with the way she's growing we really weren't comfortable with that. She heard us mention Renesmee and sent me the image of her puking on Rosalie, so I knew we had to do something. No, I swear I am not making that up. Next time you pick her up try it, you'll see.

The bottom line is that we've decided to name her Norah. I thought you might like it because it has the same old-world feeling as Esme and Renee. It seemed important to pick a name that none of us have "associations" with, if you know what I mean. Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Not using the name of someone we've eaten, turned, or dated pretty much ruled out all the traditional names. Okay, so not 'dated' in my case. But I couldn't name our daughter after someone I'd had an impure thought about, could I? And we couldn't use anyone that Rose remembered as being a, and this is her term, not mine, 'skank' from any of our past high schools. And then there was Jasper. We made it halfway through the list on BabyNames.com without finding one he hadn't... well, you know... so we decided to ignore his history.

Plus, you had that one Norah Jones CD in your box so I figured you wouldn't hate it.

Bella, You have to believe me, we all spent hours pouring over this.

All of us except for Jacob, that is. He's come up with his own nickname for her.

I'm pretty sure it's the Quileute word for "I swear I'm not a pedophile."