Thursday, May 29, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (42): Favorite Movie Moments

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

It's a free week, and I thought it'd be fun to make a list of:
Favorite Movie Moments

My introduction to the world of Harry Potter actually began with the movie adaptation of Sorcerer's Stone. After seeing the film, I devoured the four books that were available at the time. The movies have always held an extra special meaning for me, and I thought I'd highlight my favorite moments from each of them for this week's post.

Sorcerer's Stone

There are so many memorable scenes to choose from, but I absolutely loved the giant living chessboard the trio has to get across in their quest to find the stone. I just thought it was amazing, and it was so cool how Ron got to be the hero here.

Chamber of Secrets

The diary flashback was so well done, showing us how young Tom Riddle appeared to be the model student, though Dumbledore suspected something else lurking beneath the facade even then. Christian Coulson was excellent as Riddle, portraying both the suave prefect and the power hungry, future ultimate evil.

Prisoner of Azkaban

To start with, I have to mention Hermione punching Malfoy; that punk had it coming! Two of my all-time favorite characters in the series make their first appearances: Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. Therefore, I need to pick a scene with both of them in it, so I'm going with their reunion in the Shrieking Shack. That part where Lupin tries to stall Sirius from killing Peter Pettigrew in order to explain everything to Harry first and Sirius exclaims that he's spent 12 years in Azkaban waiting for this moment of revenge—it floors me every time. So much anguish in that single line.

Goblet of Fire

Every scene with David Tennant as Barry Crouch, Jr. gets a thumb's-up from me! I also really like the Yule Ball scenes. The shock on Harry and Ron's faces and Ron's ensuing jealousy when Hermione turns up with Krum are both hilarious.

Order of the Phoenix

Lupin and Sirius, together again—yay! I loved Harry's flight over London to Grimmauld Place; the city looked so beautiful. There's also Harry and Sirius's poignant chat in front of the Black family tree, and on a much lighter note, Fred and George's departure from Hogwarts! This is the only HP film I saw in IMAX, and the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic was EPIC.

Half-Blood Prince

This sounds so terribly inappropriate, but it's true: I laughed out loud in the theater during Aragog's funeral thanks to Harry acting all loopy after drinking Felix Felicis. The parts where he imitates Aragog's pincers and is like, "Oh yeah!" when Slughorn asks if the deceased had any family crack me up. I also loved the visual effects used for the cave scene when Dumbledore sets it ablaze to drive away the Inferi—just spectacular.

Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Watching Harry's doubles transform into him after drinking Polyjuice Potion is a lot of fun and one of the lighter moments. One of my other favorite scenes is Harry getting Hermione to dance with him in the tent. They're both in such low spirits after Ron's departure, and forgetting about their troubles for a few is precisely what they need.

Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Oh man, where to start with this one? It's the end, and each minute is precious. There's the thrilling break-in to and escape from Gringott's, the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry's gut-wrenching look into Snape's memories, the epic duel at the end, the Epilogue, and so much more. So basically the whole movie qualifies as a highlight to me. But, the scene that makes me bawl my freaking eyes out EVERY TIME is Harry's trip into the forest with the Resurrection Stone. I'm tearing up right now! That scene is made of 100% perfection and is just . . . beautiful.

What are some of your favorite moments from the films?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Our City of Heavenly Fire Wishlist

* SPOILER WARNING FOR THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS AND THE INFERNAL DEVICES! This post contains spoilers for BOTH series, so if you're not caught up on all of the books in the two series, you may want to quit reading this post here.

It's release day for City of Heavenly Fire, the last book in Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series! Even though Ally and I are both more partial to Clare's Victorian Shadowhunter series, The Infernal Devices, we still feel a certain attachment to TMI. It was one of the first YA series that the two of us discussed enthusiastically, and we love its NYC setting. We wanted to do some kind of post for the TMI finale, so we decided to put together a list of things we'd like to see happen in CoHF. We quickly discovered that we couldn't do that without constantly referring to TID, hence the spoiler warning for both series. (We are also still in denial about TID being over and can't just let it go.) So, here's once more chance to avoid spoilers!

Ally's Wishlist

The Real Deal vs. The Frauds

In The Infernal Devices, the best relationship is between Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs. They are the true epitome of parabatai—they're closer than brothers and would literally die for/without each other. The bond and connection they share is definitely inspiring. In The Mortal Instruments, Jace and Alec are parabatai. Will and Jem easily put their Shadowhunter descendants to shame. Jace and Alec's parabatai bond pales in comparison to Will and Jem's bond. Yeah, Jace and Alec are buddies and everything, but I wouldn't say that they're any closer than brothers. I'm sure they would die for each other, but they wouldn't die without the other. Jace would be able to survive without Alec, but Will wouldn't be able to survive without Jem (hence the whole Silent Brother ordeal). I seriously doubt the parabatai bond Jace and Alec share. Looking at what Will and Jem had just makes Jace and Alec all the more disappointing. Will and Jem just need to travel to the future and show them how the whole parabatai thing is really done.

Malec ♥

The ending of City of Lost Souls left Malec fans, including myself, heartbroken and destroyed. One of the cutest couples in the whole Shadowhunter world broke up. Malec went back to just being Magnus and Alec. It was terrible; I could barely cope. I just about cried while reading the break-up scene. After the initial heartbreak, I went into denial. There is no way, in heaven or hell, that Magnus and Alec are going to remain split. I take comfort in the fact that this isn't the end to their relationship. It just can't be. They love each other too much. Magnus and Alec will be back together before the end of City of Heavenly Fire, just you wait. And I'm sure their reunion scene will make the break-up worth it!

Brother Zachariah's Butterfly Transformation

Thanks to the beautiful epilogue in Clockwork Princess, we all know that Jem finds a cure and is released from his Silent Brother vows. Yay! We know that this happens but we don't know the how. I'm just going to assume that our pals from TMI help Zach turn back into our precious little Jem. Jem turns into Brother Zachariah in Clockwork and is still a Silent Brother in City of Lost Souls. Some time between those two books, Jem is cured. This all means something greater—Jem is going to have a lot of book time in Heavenly Fire! I'm so looking forward to that. I'm also looking forward to Jem telling all the modern Shadowhunters about all his bad-arse adventures from back in the day! Hopefully Tessa and Will can make an appearance, too.

Lee's Wishlist

The Characters from TID Whom I Hope Make an Appearance in CoHF

Ally just gave me the best segue ever there! Tessa and Jem are pretty much guaranteed to turn up in CoHF, which of course makes me happy. Something I'm really looking forward to in this final installment of TMI is how it ties into TID. And if we're going to come full circle, I think somehow working Will into CoHF would only be fitting. I'm not sure how this would be possible in the way that Tessa and Jem are able to be present in the modern Shadowhunter chronicles, but I can still dream about Will being a part of CoHF, can't I? How about a flashback?

The Wisdom of Elders

Clockwork Princess featured a family tree that illustrated the lineage of the TID characters down to their TMI descendants. If I could put myself in the shoes of the Victorian Shadowhunters and impart advice to the future generation, it'd go something like this. Charlotte Branwell (née Fairchild) could counsel both Jocelyn and Clary on how to be a strong leader. The latter two have annoyed me at various times throughout TMI, and I feel that they could benefit from taking a few pages from Charlotte's book. As for Jace, I doubt that the the mopiness that has drained a lot of the life from the character I fell in love with in City of Bones would meet the approval of William Herondale. I dream of a scenario in which Will manages to make contact with Jace and tells him to snap out of it and get his crap together, phrased in Will's unique style of insult-wrapped-in-Victorian-politeness, of course.


I think Simon and Isabelle make a cute couple. I was so glad that he quit pining for Clary, because that was a lost cause the moment Clary met Jace. I like how adorkable Simon complements spitfire Izzy, and those two deserve a nice little happily ever after. Or I will be terribly, terribly upset.

Are you looking forward to anything in particular in City of Heavenly Fire?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Road Trippin' to UtopYA Con!

In just a few weeks, Ally, The Melissa, and I will be heading to Nashville for UtopYA Con! Not only is this our first ever bookish event, but it's also our first road trip together. None of us has ever been to Nashville, either, so this is an all-around big adventure for everyone.

A definite upside to driving is not having to worry about luggage restrictions (within reason, of course. My car is pretty roomy, but not, like, 20 boxes of books roomy.). I have also already been threatened with being forced to do push-ups or jumping jacks or some other form of exercise if I make any reference whatsoever to work while I'm on vacation.

We're extremely excited to finally be attending a bookish con, as well as looking forward to exploring Nashville. We're also psyched to meet fellow bloggers, so if you're going to be there, we'd love to say hi!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
By Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Angels and demons never seemed real to Clary Fray, but a night at the Pandemonium Club proves otherwise. An entire world of vampires, warlocks, and werewolves has been painstakingly kept hidden from her until now. It’s time for Clary to finally embrace her true identity as a Shadowhunter, one of the angelic descendants dedicated to protecting humans from the evil they don’t even realize surrounds them. Clary’s first priority, though, is to find her missing mother whose sudden disappearance may be a sign that a past conflict among the Shadowhunters is about to reignite.

Review: Rereading a book, especially one that I first read pre-blog, is always an adventure for me. I’m interested to see if my opinion has changed or if I feel the same way about the book in question. City of Bones had more than a little pressure on it to be as good as I remembered it. Although The Infernal Devices remains my favorite Shadowhunter series, City of Bones was my introduction to the Shadowhunter world, and I couldn’t help feeling a bit sentimental while turning its pages.

I’m probably going to wind up referring to TID a few non-spoilery times throughout this review, just because I’m still unable to, on a somewhat subconscious level, let go of that series. So here’s reference #1. Before the release of Clockwork Princess, my nerdy self required a reread of Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince. Those two books blew me away all over again with their awesomeness. I didn’t expect quite the same reaction to a reread of City of Bones because I didn’t consider it a five star read the first time around. It was a solid four, maybe four and half then, and I still think so now. The world of angels and demons with some vampires, warlocks, werewolves, and faeries thrown in was just as exciting to discover all over again. I am also such a sucker for books set in New York City, and City of Bones scores extra points for referencing real places in my old Brooklyn neighborhood. I get a geeky thrill from the thought of the Shadowhunters walking the same streets I did for a good part of my life.

In addition to the richly detailed world and its pretty epic scale, the novel’s other standout is Mr. Jace Wayland. I cannot explain why I go for the snarky boys; I just do. (It should come as no surprise that I love TID’s snarky Will Herondale, too; in fact, I love him more than Jace.) Jace is arrogant and a smartass, but he’s also the guy whom you want fighting on your side. Without a doubt.

Something I noticed this read around was the pacing. The disappearance of Clary’s mother, Jocelyn, is central to the plot, yet the book is in no rush for her to be found. Speaking of Clary, I’m sorry to say that I’m still not impressed with her as a heroine, at least at this point in the series. She does not particularly excel at putting two and two together; helloooo Clary: your best friend is in love with you and you have no clue! Clary is also impulsive in a way that tends to lead to trouble as opposed to making me see her as a badass.

I don’t think any amount of rereads could keep me from going, “What the . . . ?!” at the ending of City of Bones. Despite that crazy twist not being a complete shock this time, my brain encountered some difficulty processing it. Again. There’s really not much you can say after an ending like that, and on that note, I do believe this review is done.

All in All: The Shadowhunters continue to rule as the coolest demon fighters around, whether they’re saving Victorian England or modern day New York. City of Bones is where everything Shadowhunter-related started for me, and it’s a very good beginning, indeed.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (41): Favorite Hogwarts Ghost

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Favorite Hogwarts Ghost

First of all, I'd like to say this is a pretty awesome topic, just plain brilliant! Anyway, my favorite ghost is hands down, Peeves. I know, technically he is a poltergeist, but same difference, right? I think it's really cool that he has been at Hogwarts since it was built—it is said he came with the castle. I'm highly amused by all of his pranks and disasters; he never picks favorites—he tortures everyone. In short, Peeves keeps things interesting! ;) Whom did you guys pick as your favorite ghost?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Discussing Game of Thrones: Mockingbird

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Mockingbird.”

Tyrion Needs a Champion

An angry Jaime accuses Tyrion of throwing away his shot at avoiding execution, a chance that Jaime bargained for. Tyrion can't get over Shae's betrayal, while Jaime warns his brother he's the last friend he's got. Tyrion recalls his last trial by combat in the Vale, when Bronn fought for him. Jaime says he's sorry, but he can't be Tyrion's champion this time, either. Tyrion asks Jaime to find Bronn for him and hopes aloud that Cersei picks Meryn Trant as her champion. Cersei, however, is going with Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, and we're treated to a lovely scene of him hacking away at some very unfortunate victims.

The Other Clegane Brother

While we're on the subject of the Clegane family, it's a timely moment to check in on Arya and the Hound. They come across an injured man who's slowly dying from his wound, and if you know the Hound well enough by now, you know he's going to put the poor guy out of his misery. The Hound gets a nasty surprise when out of nowhere pops Rorge and (I think) Biter, two of the prisoners who were in Arya's traveling party to the Wall. The Hound is quite the recognizable fellow and there's quite the bounty on his head, but the Hound takes care of Biter and Arya takes care of Rorge by putting Needle through his heart.

Your Ideas Are Dismissed, Lord Snow

Ser Alliser Thorne continues treating Jon like crap. Once again the Night's Watch is arguing about how to best handle the impending Wildling assault, and Jon insists they block off one of the tunnels. Thorne and Janos Slynt delight in reminding everyone how Jon lived among the Wildlings, with Thorne also reminding him that he's just a lowly steward.

Tyrion Still Needs a Champion

Whoa! Is that Bronn in those fancy new clothes? Why, yes it is! Not only has he gotten a wardrobe upgrade, but he's also set to marry a highborn lady, Lollys Stokeworth. Bronn's sudden status elevation is no coincidence, of course, and Tyrion knows it. He's willing to pay the sellsword whatever price he names, but at the end of the day, Bronn's sense of self-preservation is what makes him part ways with Tyrion.

Are You Lost or Something?

Daenerys is surprised to find Daario in her private chamber. He wants to kill people for her. She has other things in mind for him.

Who Walks in Like That?

Selyse Baratheon walks in on Melisandre's bath time. Really, I didn't get the point of this scene and all I got out of it was that Selyse seems like a mean mother and I'm a little worried for her daughter.

Another Awkward Run-In

Jorah runs into Daario, who's looking smug and just leaving Daenerys's room. Jorah is not happy and talks some smack about Daario to Danaerys. Daario and the Second Sons are bound for Yunkai to retake the city and execute the slave masters. Daenerys is pretty snippy with Jorah in this scene, but by the end of it things are smoothed over, with him convincing her not to take such drastic action against the masters.

The Hound Remembers

Arya advises the Hound to apply fire to the wound Biter gave him even though he's afraid of fire, thanks to his brother. The Hound recalls what his brother did to him, and in that moment casts a pretty sad figure.

The Return of Hot Pie!

Brienne and Pod make an awesome duo (obviously not as good as Brienne and Jaime, but I digress) and stop at Hot Pie's inn. They get around to discussing Brienne's search for Sansa, and Hot Pie once again mistakenly calls Winterfell "Winterhell." That kid cracks me up! As Brienne and Pod are getting ready to hit the road, Hot Pie reveals that he knows Arya and sends them off with a direwolf shaped loaf of bread that actually looks like a direwolf this time.

Tyrion Has a Champion!

Tyrion receives yet another visitor in his cell, but this time it's quite an unexpected one. Oberyn Martell recalls meeting baby Tyrion at Casterly Rock, and even then, Cersei wanted her younger brother dead. The Red Viper still wants his revenge against those responsible for the deaths of his sister and her children, so he's going to fight Gregor Clegane.

Let Her Go

At the Eyrie, Sansa builds a replica of Winterfell out of snow. She's admiring her work when Robin Arryn starts complaining that there's no Moon Door. He ends up ruining the snow castle, and Sansa bitchslaps him. As Robin goes crying for his mommy, Littlefinger creeps in. Sansa wants to know why he killed Joffrey, and first Littlefinger reminisces about how much he loved Catelyn before kissing Sansa. EWWWWWW!!!! Lysa Arryn witnesses the whole thing, and Sansa has to go face her aunt. Lysa goes ballistic, ranting about how her father and Catelyn stood between her and Littlefinger, and now Sansa's doing the same. Lysa tries to push Sansa out the Moon Door until Littlefinger walks in on the whole thing. He promises Lysa he'll send Sansa away and Lysa releases her hold. And then, in a very classy move, Littlefinger tells his new wife how he's only ever loved one woman: Catelyn! And then he pushes Lysa out the Moon Door!

In the Next Episode

Ramsay gives Theon his marching orders to be, um, Theon Greyjoy; Lysa's death is investigated; the Wildlings inch ever closer to the Wall (They might even get there by the end of this season!); The Red Viper vs. The Mountain!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (40): Best Harry Moment

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Best Harry Moment

How do you choose just one here?! I mean, we're talking about The Boy Who Lived and saved everyone—wizards and witches and Muggles alike! This is a really tough decision, but I'm picking Harry conjuring the Patronus to save himself and Sirius from the dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban. He had struggled so much with the spell during his lessons with Lupin, and to see him finally conjure the stag, and under those circumstances, was just freaking amazing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Laws of Gods and Men

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Laws of Gods and Men.”

From the Iron Throne to the Iron Bank

Stannis sets sail to meet with some friendly customer service representatives from the Iron Bank of Braavos, led by Mycroft Holmes from Sherlock. Stannis tries to make a case for his claim to the Iron Throne, hoping that Mycroft and his pals will be so pissed that the Lannisters have not, in fact, paid their debts that the Iron Bank will support him instead. Mycroft doesn't like Stannis's odds, however. Davos flashes his missing fingers and gives a very eloquent, impassioned speech on Stannis's behalf before fetching pirate Sallador Saan from some, uh, very important work and informing him that they're hitting the high seas.

Do You Love Me?

Yara Greyjoy storms Ramsay's house with a party of Ironborn, determined to rescue Theon. She finds her little bro caged like an animal, and unfortunately, he's so psychologically broken, he won't go with his own sister. Ramsay walks in on the rescue and is all like, “Heyyyy. Let’s get this party started!” After the fighting between his men and Yara's, he releases the hounds. Yara considers her brother dead to her and leaves. For his loyalty, Theon is allowed to take a bath and is to be given a special task.

Court Is Now in Session

Her Royal Queenliness Daenerys is holding court in Meereen. First she hears the claim of a man whose goats were barbecued by Drogon. Next is Hizdahr What's-His-Name. (Sorry—I’m too lazy to go look up the whole thing. The show has actually nicely streamlined Daenerys's entourage because in the books, it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.) Hizdahr's father was one of the men whom Daenerys had crucified, and he claims that his father was against crucifying the children whom she saw on the road to Meereen. Hizdahr asks for his father's body so that it may receive a proper burial.

The Small Council Is in Session

There are some new faces on Tommen's council: Mace Tyrell and the Red Viper himself, Oberyn Martell. The council discusses reported sightings of the Hound (if only they knew who his traveling companion was!) and the threat Daenerys poses. Tywin declares that she must be dealt with. Alone together in the throne room, Varys and Oberyn have a nice little chat.

Court Is Now in Session, Part 2

Jaime retrieves Tyrion from his cell to bring him to his trial and feels bad about having to shackle his brother, but he's acting on their father's orders. Before the court, Tommen recuses himself from the case and hands the proceedings over to Tywin. Meryn Trant and Pycelle testify against Tyrion, with Cersei giving a command performance during her turn on the witness stand. During a break, Jaime complains to his father about the unfairness of the trial and promises to quit the Kingsguard and become lord of Casterly Rock if Tywin spares Tyrion. Their father agrees. Tyrion is to plead guilty and ask for mercy, which he’ll receive in the form of being sent to the Wall. Jaime’s plan goes straight to hell, though, when surprise witness Shae gets called to the stand and declares Tyrion guilty, guilty, guilty. Tyrion gives a heartbreaking, Emmy-worthy speech and swears his innocence. The episode ends with him demanding something that he’s only too familiar with thanks to the fun time he had at the Eyrie back in Season 1: trial by combat.

In the Next Episode

Don’t give up on Tyrion just yet; the Mountain shows no one mercy; Daario wants to kill people for Daenerys; the Hound and Arya are still squabbling; Melisandre and Selyse Baratheon stare at some flames; Sansa gets too close to the Moon Door.

Monday, May 12, 2014

ARC Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
The Truth About Alice
By Jennifer Mathieu
Roaring Brook Press
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: June 3, 2014

To Sum It Up: Not only is Alice Franklin a complete outcast at school, but just about everyone in the small town of Healy, Texas talks about her. Healy is still recovering from the death of its high school’s star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, who was reportedly exchanging texts with Alice when his car crashed. Alice’s reputation was already the subject of gossip even before the accident, with rumors swirling that she slept with two guys, one of them Brandon, at a party. Scorning Alice is only too easy, if only because it keeps everyone’s own secrets from becoming the talk of Healy.

Review: I normally don’t go for potentially drama-heavy books like this one, but I happened to be in the mood to read something different, and I’m glad that I picked up The Truth About Alice. There’s really not a whole lot that’s extraordinary about the plot itself; you have a teenage girl who’s not only been labeled as a slut by just about everyone in school but who’s also blamed by most of her small town for the death of its high school football star. High school football is one of the few sources of entertainment in a place like Healy, making the loss of Brandon Fitzsimmons even more devastating. Wild rumors dog Alice Franklin wherever she goes, and she’s a pariah at school. These aren’t exactly elements that I usually seek out in a book, but they totally work here. Credit Jennifer Mathieu with writing a very well paced novel that I found difficult to put down.

I’ve blathered on before in other reviews of contemporary novels about how my attention needs to be grabbed quickly. That was not a problem here; the prose was engaging from the get-go. The book could have easily become bogged down in trite melodrama, but the sharp writing prevents that. You know from the beginning that you don’t have a full picture of Alice’s character, only a sketch that’s based on what everyone else says about her, most of which is far from flattering. The promise of finding out who Alice really was and what actually happened the night Brandon died were what kept me turning the pages eagerly.

The book is narrated from the alternating POVs of a handful of Alice’s classmates, and whatever you learn about her is through their eyes. It’s a technique that works extremely well as you’re left to absorb all of the details and then form your own opinion of Alice. Each chapter isn’t just about Alice, though; Elaine, Kelsie, Josh, and Kurt are all given a good deal of depth. Even when I was angered by the way some of the characters, like Elaine and Kelsie, treated Alice, I was as invested in their individual stories as I was in Alice’s. Mathieu does an excellent job tying her characters’ lives together and utilizing multiple POVs to great effect.

Sometimes a book just clicks with you, even when there’s a familiar ring to some elements of the plot. The top-notch storytelling in The Truth About Alice sets it apart, though, making is a very worthwhile read.

All in All: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the writing and the characters.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Cover Reveal: This Is Sarah by Ally Malinenko

This Is Sarah by Ally Malinenko
This Is Sarah
By Ally Malinenko
BookFish Books

Cover design by Anita B. Carroll at

Synopsis: When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin's world unravels as he is transformed from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, what is Colin willing to do to bring her back?

And as Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape that is life without her sister. Even as her parents fall apart, Claire is determined to keep on going. Even if it kills her.

This Is Sarah is a meditation on loss, love, and what it means to say goodbye.

Ally Malinenko is here today sharing the AWESOME cover for her YA novel, This Is Sarah, and giving us a glimpse into her morning. Welcome, Ally!

Thanks! So, here's what my mornings look like.

The alarm goes off at 5 am. No wait, that’s not right. It’s before 5 am. My husband nudges me and I murmur five more minutes, please, just five more minutes burying my head under the blanket. Then June, the tabby cat, starts crying. And not your usual meows – these are ear splitting, I’m-dying-give-me-food-now-you-puny-humans sort of cries. Really intense End of the World Ragnarok sort of stuff.

We stumble up and out of bed. Coffee on. Teapot on. Cat fed. Pee. Computer on. Radio on to classical station. Teapot whistles – oh teapot why must you be so loud!

Then I sit in my closet (literally) and write. Sometimes I write poems or stories, provided I managed to think of an idea since yesterday morning. Most times I go back to the current novel. I read through yesterday’s writing. June comes in. She climbs into the empty comic book box on the floor and curls up to sleep. Good. This lasts seventeen seconds. Then she’s trying to climb into my lap. I give in, reading through yesterday’s writing. She stands on my lap and meows at me. I bend my arms around her to rewrite stuff and wonder how one person can switch tenses that quickly. I catch typos. I fix them.

I write. I put June down. I think about my main character – how angry he is right now facing this pain alone. I put words in his mouth. I read them out loud. I cringe. I delete them. The cat jumps up on my lap again. I finish my tea and make more. I write some new dialogue. I look at the clock. The morning is going too fast. I have to get ready for work soon. I write some more. I check my email again. I put June down. She cries. I delete three paragraphs of what I just wrote. I yawn. I get more tea.

I write. I reread it. I cringe less. I write more. I reread it. I skip ahead and jot down notes for a future scene. June cries and jumps back in my lap. My husband comes by, reminds me of what time it is. I squeeze out another page but don’t have time to reread it. I save my work, shut off the radio and get ready for work. I hope tomorrow morning will be just as good. June meows. She hopes so too.

About the Author:

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection, The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), and the children’s novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). This Is Sarah is her first YA book. Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a very ridiculous tabby cat. She blogs at and you can follow her on Twitter at @allymalinenko.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (39): Favorite Edition/Covers of the Harry Potter Books

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Favorite Edition/Covers of the Harry Potter Books

My favorite edition of the Harry Potter books is my own, lol. I'm actually not very familiar with the various editions, but I'm very attached to my own copies. I've had the earlier books in the series since I was around ten and I've never replaced any of them. My copies look like crap now but I still love 'em!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Review: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1)
By Rachel Harris
Entangled Teen
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: As the daughter of both a famous actress and director, Cat Crawford has grown up amidst the glamour of Hollywood. She hates the spotlight, however, which makes Cat dread her upcoming sweet sixteen bash even more. But first Cat is off for a vacation in Italy with her father and future stepmother, a trip that finds Cat traveling back in time to the Renaissance. She is now Patience D’Angeli, who is not supposed to use modern slang or technology. As Cat tries to blend in with the era, she’s also on a quest to discover why she’s been sent back to the past.

Review: I’d seen My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century quite a bit around the blogosphere, and the positive buzz landed it on my to-read list. The time travel element of the novel also intrigued me; a Renaissance Italy setting? Yes, please! Once the novelty of our protagonist, Cat, finding herself zapped back to the past to sixteenth century Florence wore off, however, I found it rather hard to stay focused on the book. Both the characters and the plot fell flat for me; I just didn’t feel the need to know what happened next.

By far my favorite aspect of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was the attention to period detail. The time travel was an immersive experience thanks to the vivid imagery that really brought the Florence that Michelangelo knew to life. Cat happens to be an art aficionado, and she could not have asked for a more perfect era to be sent back to. Her attempts not to get caught using her iPod or modern lingo are pretty amusing at times. Everyone thinks she’s Patience D’Angeli, who has arrived in Florence from London to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. Luckily for Cat, Patience’s social gaffes, of which there are quite a few, are attributed to her unfamiliarity with Florentine culture.

What I found most difficult to get used to was Cat’s narrative voice. Her mom is a famous actress whose romantic exploits are constant tabloid fodder. Her dad is a famous director and the parent Cat is closest to, but his bubbly fiancée, Jenna, is a rather unwelcome addition to the family. While Cat tolerates her stepmother-to-be, she’s totally averse to Jenna’s plans to throw Cat a monstrous sweet sixteen party in her honor. Cat is not one for the Hollywood spotlight and doesn’t want that kind of attention. She tends to keep to herself because she never knows who’s just being nice to her because of who her parents are. All of the above are recurring thoughts of Cat’s throughout the novel, and I just didn’t think her problems were all that bad. She wasn’t a character I could relate to, and that’s what makes me hesitant to continue with this series.

The ending features a very interesting twist that does pique my curiosity about the sequel, but again, I’m not sure that’s enough of a draw for me. Curiosity might win out eventually, but for the moment I’m in no rush to sate it.

All in All: The time travel was well done, and I did enjoy watching Cat explore sixteenth century Florence. I wasn’t as enthused with her as a main character, though; her life sounded pretty privileged to me, so I couldn’t drum up a whole lot of sympathy for her.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Discussing Game of Thrones: First of His Name

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “First of His Name.”

And Now His Reign Begins

There's a new king in Westeros; Tommen officially receives his crown. Cersei catches him exchanging looks with Margaery and makes her way over to where Margaery is watching the coronation. Cersei asks her if she still mourns Joffrey and admits her son was a monster. Margaery pretends she hasn't given any thought to still becoming queen by marrying Tommen; honey, you're such a liar.

Good News Travels Fast

The Meereen party discusses Joffrey's death and what their next move should be. Westeros is vulnerable with a boy king on the throne, but Daenerys has more pressing, local problems. The masters of Yunkai have retaken the city, and the council that was established in Astapor has been overthrown. Mormont suggests she take Westeros now, but she vows to re-liberate Slaver's Bay first.

The Eerie Eyrie

Littlefinger and Sansa, using the alias Alayne, make their way to the Eyrie in the Vale. Guess who's returned to the show this week after a long absence? It's crazy Lysa Arryn, Catelyn Stark's sister! Lysa wants to marry Littlefinger now, now, now now! She also reveals that it was she, under Littlefinger's orders, who killed her own husband, Jon Arryn, Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon. Littlefinger looks thrilled to be marrying her, by which I mean he doesn't. Stay away from the Moon Door, Sansa.

Wedding Planning

Lord Tywin and Cersei discuss plans for Tommen to marry Margaery and Cersei to marry Loras Tyrell. What? She's suddenly cool with both marriages after vehemently opposing them? I don't understand this Cersei. Father and daughter also talk about how the Crown is broke, with the gold under Casterly Rock having been tapped out a while ago. The Lannisters need to maintain their alliance with the Tyrells for economic reasons above all else before the bank of Braavos comes looking for the money that's owed them. So much for the Lannisters paying their debts!

The List

Arya is performing her nightly recital of the names of the people she's going to kill. The Hound is totally on board with his brother, The Mountain, meeting his end. The last name on Arya's list? The Hound.

The Green-Eyed Monster

Lysa is acting all nice and aunt-ly to Sansa when the conversation suddenly turns to why Littlefinger is so concerned about Sansa. Lady Arryn, soon to be Lady Baelish, freaks out and apparently still isn't over her husband-to-be loving Catelyn.

Best Friends

Pod is doing his best to be a squire to Brienne, but he burns dinner and Brienne isn't too impressed with his skills. She even tries to release him from his oath.

That's Not How You Hold a Sword

The Hound mocks Arya's sword skills and goads her into trying to stab him. Unfortunately, he's wearing armor, and she ends up getting knocked to the ground.

I'm a Poet and I Know It

Cersei questions Oberyn about Myrcella. He assures her that her daughter is doing well in Dorne. Cersei asks him to bring Myrcella a gift since she missed her name day.

A Squire's Work

Poor Pod is still struggling to actually be a squire in the traditional sense. When Brienne asks him what exactly he did as Tyrion's squire, he recalls killing the Kingsguard who tried to kill Tyrion during the Battle of the Blackwater.

Time to Clean Out Craster's Keep

Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds are still captives of the Night's Watch gone bad. Jojen tells Bran he has to find the tree from his dreams. Meanwhile, Jon and his group of volunteers have arrived to serve up some justice. Locke, who scouted Craster's Keep and spotted Bran and the others, lies to Jon and tells him they need to avoid the place where they're being held because there are hounds there. The Night's Watch attacks and during the melee, Locke tries to kidnap Bran. Bran wargs into Hodor and kills Locke, who finally gets what he deserves. Bran spots Jon and they're thisclose to one another, but Jojen convinces him to continue searching for the three-eyed raven. I kind of wanted to punch Jojen because seriously, he stopped a family reunion. Jon fights Karl and puts Longclaw right through the back of his head. Ghost gets Rast! At least there's one reunion in this episode: Jon and Ghost! Jon offers Craster's wives a place at Castle Black, but they don't want that and burn Craster's Keep to the ground.

In the Next Episode

Yara Greyjoy tries to rescue Theon; Tyrion stands trial.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cover Reveal: Empower: Fight Like a Girl

Empower: Fight Like a Girl
Empower: Fight Like a Girl
Anthology of short stories ranging from crime mysteries to paranormal thrillers
Publisher: Words Empower Media
Publication Date: May 1, 2014
Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: Women of TV have united against lupus! Presenting Empower: Fight Like a Girl, a special collection of short stories by top women writers from some of your favorite shows, including: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Family Guy, Person of Interest, Grimm, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Law & Order: SVU, Star Trek: Voyager, Eureka, Twisted, The 100, Malcolm in the Middle, Millennium, Being Human, The Shield, Castle, Chuck, Gilmore Girls, and Game of Thrones. In this anthology, you'll discover supernatural thrillers, crime mysteries, horror, comedies, and more.

Authors contributing stories to this volume include:

All proceeds will be donated to the non-profit Lupus Foundation of America to help solve the cruel mystery of lupus.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Mortal Instruments Reread (Sort Of)

The end of this month will see Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series conclude with the sixth book, City of Heavenly Fire. I admit that I'm a bigger fan of her Infernal Devices series, but TMI was my introduction to the Shadowhunter world, and I'm still a bit sad to see it end.

I read the first four TMI books pre-blog, and rereading them and reviewing them have always been near the top of my blogging to-do list. It bugs me whenever I see the link to Book 5 in the Review Archive, there all by its lonesome self. I need to fix that.

My original goal was to start rereading the series from the beginning last month, but as with any plans I make lately, time has not been cooperative. So here we are in May, and I'm only just now getting around to City of Bones. Oh well. And, as the following image illustrates, I'm only rereading four of the books:

City of Lost Souls is actually still pretty fresh in my mind; I paid extra, extra special attention while reading it because I was on the lookout for any references whatsoever to The Infernal Devices. Plus, Ally and I jointly reviewed that one, so I figured I'd brush up on what happened in Books 1-4 only and review them. I might do an update or two on the progress of the reread, time permitting. Ally and I are planning to do some kind of post to mark the end of TMI; we do love speculating on how a series will wrap up.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (38): Most Anger Inducing Scene

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Most Anger Inducing Scene

I speak for all of us at Rally the Readers when I say the most anger inducing scene is when Fred Weasley dies in Deathly Hallows. Like, wtf?! I know there is a battle going on and that death is inevitable, but why Fred?! Why?! Fred is having a good time, finally bonding with his brother, Percy, and then he's hit. The worst part is that he dies with a smile on his face. That's so Fred. Percy probably feels awful, and George must be inconsolable. I know I was inconsolable. Fred Weasley didn't have to die! He should have lived!