Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: Give Up The Ghost

Give Up The Ghost
Megan Crewe
Copyright 2009, Square Fish an imprint of Macmillan

Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody…and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.
But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.
As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad—and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance…. -- Goodreads

For what seems like the first time in forever (if you're like me you just burst out into song, sorry about that!) I actually understand Cass. I mean, who hasn't been burned by evil ex-best friends? Ok, so none of my ex bff's were all that evil, but still. The female population in general is most likely nodding along right now, knowing a rumor or two has been spread to or by them at one point or another. That's probably what I love the most about this book. And no, it's not even mentioned in the blurb! You see, Cass has been pushed to the outer realms of the social hierarchy that is high school. And she's pushing back - with secrets she's picked up from her ghost friends. And none of this is because she's some wicked girl who loves drama, she really thinks she's doing the right thing! She's helping people make the decision to quite being two-faced and kissy-faced if they think they can get away with it! She's improving society!! GO CASS.

But then a boy enters the scene. Not just any boy, but a boy who has recently gone through some tragedy...and is reaching out to Cass to help him get through it. Remember how I said Cass is actually helping people? Well, how is she supposed to say no? Especially when he stumbles upon her secret?

Here's where the book lost some steam for me. I was cheering them both on, completely intrigued! But, well...

 **********SPOILER ALERT****************




Ok, here goes - They never freaking make a connection! No kissing? No hand holding? No googly faces? COME ON! I wanted *so* badly for something. BUT. We all know that I'm the girl that is like "No kissing? Pass." So, that probably explains that...

Like stated, the book totally kept my attention and I loved all the characters, especially the ghosts. I could really relate to loathing your ex bff but in the same breath dreaming about how great the good old days were! But to really get all my stars, you have to have a kiss. Just one. More than one is better, but one is all I need.

I hate that I even have something not perfect to say about my experience with it, but if you like honesty then I guess you'll like this review anyway. I really, really, did like it - but the non kissing left a whole in it for me.

It's been out for awhile, have you guys read it? Am I the only one obsessed with the love?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Baby Bedding & The Picky Mom

Well, we've reached 16 weeks gestation and, thanks to some chromosomal genetic testing, we not only know the baby is a girl - but the madness that comes with designing her nursery has begun! Now, I've always been called a princess. Naturally, when we announced "It's a girl!" I had plenty of people pointing out Cinderella embroidered bedding and just about anything pink with a tiara.

But the truth is, I don't want a princess theme for my little Thumbelina*. What I do want is something over the top whimsical and elegant. Something that screams fit for a princess, without it being screen printed on every square inch of fabric.

After HOURS of searching Baby's R Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and a few other sites and stores, I found several perfectly nice sets. Many of them reasonably priced and available to walk in and out with. But none of them screamed mine.

Until I found Carousel Designs. Yes, some of them are a bit pricey, but oh my goodness. This is some of the most beautiful bedding I have seen! The designs are fresh with just the right touch of elegance. Another perk is that if you're not sure about a particular design, even though they show you close ups of the fabric in every one of the colors and designs, you can order samples of the designs - for free.

You can get up to 30 free samples before a $4.00 fee is assessed. Another option is to buy the fabric by the yard, so all you DIY types can adhere it to wooden letters, picture frames, whatever Pinterest inspires you to do!

You can also sign up to receive emails from the company, receiving the heads up on free shipping or savings opportunities.

But speaking of all you crafty people out there, they also have a function on their site that allows you to create your own designs! Talk about personalizing your nursery!!

I'm telling you, if they start selling Emma's crib mobile from Once Upon A Time I may just look into buying stock. I am 100% in love with this company and I hope that if you're looking for that extra special touch to finish off your nursery you'll check them out too!

*As much as I love the name Thumbelina, it's not her name :) Husband wants to make her name a big announcement, so for now, Thumbelina it is! <3

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Wondrous Strange
Lesley Livingston
Copyright 2009, Harper Teen

17 year-old Kelley Winslow doesn’t believe in Faeries. Not unless they’re the kind that you find in a theatre, spouting Shakespeare—the kind that Kelley so desperately wishes she could be: onstage, under lights, with a pair of sparkly wings strapped to her shoulders. But as the understudy in a two-bit, hopelessly off-off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wishing is probably the closest she’s going to get to becoming a Faerie Queen. At least, that’s what she thinks... In this fun, urban fantasy, Kelley's off-stage life suddenly becomes as complicated as one of Shakespeare’s plot twists when a nighttime trip to Central Park holds more than meets the mortal eye. - Goodreads

This poor book has plagued my TBR Shelf embarrassingly long time. There was something about it that never allowed me to donate or give away, but I was never in "the mood" for it either. And then, as I scrounged for a good read during my breaks at work (TV Camera Op Job that tends to equal a lot of hurry up and waiting), I stuffed it in my bag and left without giving myself a chance to second guess the choice. My TBR Shelf has grown into almost an entire book case, it's time to start reading those suckers!

Honestly, I'm surprised I waited so long. If you are a fan of the Fey world, this is definitely a read you will enjoy. It brought me back to the days of reading the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, but with its own characters, twists and voice.

The heroine, Kelley, handles the changes to her life - and world - really well and the chemistry she has with Sonny is spot on for a young teenage romance. Sometimes we get a good swoon going while we're reading and you think "Oh who cares that you don't know him! He's standing in the alley by your work and waiting for you!" Because we know his name is on the back of the book or the way he's introduced into our world, we know he's "the one." But that's not always realistic, now is it? If every guy in the alley next to your work wanted to talk to you and you decided to drop everything because he must be "the one" - you'd probably be living in a dumpster right now.

Livingston did a great job of keeping the reality of a potential creeper, the swoon only fictional romance can bring, and a whole secondary world falling right smack dab into the middle of our own.

Wondrous Strange was a thoroughly enjoyable read; whether you're hitting it for the swoon, the fairy mythology or just curious what could happen when an unsuspecting changeling gets the role of a lifetime in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance
Elna Baker
Copyright 2009, Plume a member of Penguin

Elna Baker's memoir reads more like a novel than the story of her life. Which is kind of awesome. I'm not generally big on memoirs, too much "I did this" "Whoa is me" "If only I'd known" clichés, however, when one of your best friends says "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS," what's a girl to do? So, I took a break from the world of YA stolen kisses and dove into...New Adult stolen kisses. No, seriously. I won't read a book that doesn't have kissing and this hilarious, yet insightful memoir definitely has it! Including maps of the kissing locations!

Elna is a Mormon, a faith that I personally know very little about. I know it's a branch of Christianity, which is where I find my faith, but that's about it. While detailing her life, parts of her childhood and dealing with weight gain, self image issues and the one thing I think we all deal with more than we'd care to admit: figuring out just who we are.

At points, I was actually thinking "I wish this chick was real! She sounds like a blast to hang out with!" And then...duh. She is. Which is kind of cool, because really, we don't get the opportunity to say that very often!

If you're looking for a dose of funny, a hint of insightful and a whole lot of bonding with a "character" that is actually super real, definitely check out this memoir!

If you'd like to see this adorable chicky and hear a little from her, because yes she is adorable and hilarious, click here for a video with Elna talking about her memoir! When you decide you're cracking up and you want to read it all in detail and hear oh so much more, get the book!!

And thanks Ash, it was a good read :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Towering by Alex Flinn

Alex Flinn
Copyright 2013 Harper Teen for Harper Collins

When Rachel was taken to live in a tower by a woman she calls Mama, she was excited. She felt like a princess in a castle. But many years later, Rachel knows her palace is really a prison, and begins to plan her escape. She is encouraged by the speed with which her golden hair has been growing. It's gotten long enough to reach the ground. And she's begun dreaming of a green-eyed man. Could he be out there in the world? Is he coming to save her? Or will she find a way to save herself?

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved fairytales. Now, as an adult, it's even more fun when those fairytales are brought to life, reinvented, or a new culture of fairytales is brought into the American mainstream (think Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble).

Needless to say, the idea of revisiting Rapunzel through a strong female lead who is thinking of saving herself seemed like something right up my alley. An alley that quickly went from a one way in the well lit summer to a maze of alley's that run above ground through frozen tundra's and then dive into the seedy underbelly of a surface-quaint small town.

What I mean to say is that you should not open this book thinking "Girl has magic hair, girl dreams of boy, girl lets down her golden hair and saves herself," because good-golly, there is a whole lot more going on.

From missing children to drug rings, fairytales to ghostly whispers and - of course, love - Towering covers so many topics and issues that it would be close to impossible to start laying them all out without spilling the beans. And those magic beans are exactly why you'll find yourself turning page after page.

There were points as I was reading that I thought "What the crap am I reading?!" and checked the cover to make sure I hadn't picked something else up. Not because I wasn't enjoying it, but because whoa the alleys.

As many of you know, I write, too. And the weird part about writing and having someone working on edits with you is that, for me, as I read I find myself going into my editors brain and thinking "I'd have to cut that. Take that out, it doesn't progress the story." But the best part? I found that days after having finished the book I was out in the snow, seeing things that reminded me of the book. The very scenes that editor brain (I am in *no* way an editor, but I try to think like one sometimes to help my own stuff) told me to take out, were the things I was fondly recollecting.

To close, I want you to be sure that when you pick up Towering you realize that you are definitely not getting your grandma's story of Rapunzel. Or Disney's for that matter. I noticed the "star rating" on Amazon is 3/5, which kind of surprised me. There is a great deal of plotting and planning and character growth throughout the entire novel, and while at times I found myself questioning what world I'd stepped into, it all made sense in the end. Maybe those 3 stars are the result of not expecting so much out of a retelling of a classic. SO. Now you know! Don't expect a one way street to a female lead liberating herself or you'll limit all the other things going on in the story!

Have you already read Towering? Do you plan to? Talk to me!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Vampire Academy Movie: The Good, The Changes, and The Roza

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead has been my absolute, hands-down, favorite series since the first sentence of the first page on the first time I opened book one.

A close second would be the Beautiful Creature's series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. When that movie came out....I wept. Big, fat, ugly tears of despair.

Vampire Academy The Movie - will NOT be having that effect. I was concerned - excited - but concerned. Because...Beautiful Creatures...but I watched every trailer and read as many interviews as I could and felt a little bit of hope.

As I sat down in my theater seat tonight, I tried to put all hopes and fears out of my mind. It's an adaptation, changes happen, it's to be expected...right? I hand out a few VA temporary tattoo's I had gotten at a book thing, excluding the molnija mark I wore proudly on my own neck, and happens. The lights dim, my date for the night and I giggle about how bright the exit signs are - and wow, there is no way you're missing the exit in that theater - and then BAM, it starts. No previews, no warm ups; just the glorious, brilliant, intricate, addictive world of Richelle Mead.

Guys. I'm not going to lie, spoiler, or sugar coat anything here, but....THEY NAILED IT. Chief concerns I had prior to the viewing:

The Waters Brothers - Mean Girls was great...but what if they turn my beloved Rose Hathaway into Catie?! What if Mia says "Fetch"!? What if it's too funny or too vampire-y or too something other than VA?

Dimitri's Hair - I know, I know, it's long in the book...but idk, maybe it's too long in the movie.

St. Vlad's - How are they ever going to find such a monstrosity of a school, yet make it familiar enough that you're pretty sure you could find the dining hall on your own??


Awkward Trailer Scene of Kirova's Desk -  WTPoop?!

Rose. - Rose is my girl. My girl crush. My hero. My idol. I LOVE ROSE AND SO HELP ME IF YOU MESS UP HER HAIR OR HER HUMOR OR HER ANYTHING.

Dimitri. - *sigh*

Now...those were concerns I had before the movie. Here are some after thoughts:

I love you, Waters brothers. I really, truly love you and will continue to wear pink on Wednesdays. What hair? There was a hair issue? All I saw was eyes and smirk and Russian and....yeah, I could totally take you to the dorms, but we should probably check out Lissa's church attic hiding spot on the way. Oh, and the actors? I'm not sure, I could be wrong, but I think Richelle may have sent each of them a copy of the entire series, (which of course they read and loved because they can read and have brain cells), and then had in-depth conversations with them about just "who" each character is. Because seriously...there was not on single moment that I thought "Nah, he/she wouldn't act like that or say that or wear that" - there was no Zoey, Danila, Lucy, Dominic, Gabriel, Sarah, Sami or Cameron. They don't even exist. They truly became their characters.

All in all, not only did everyone involved in this book to movie adaptation do a fantastic job...but hold on to your horses guys, because they definitely left it wide open to continue on!!! WE COULD HAVE MORE "ROZA." And I don't just mean in the "I love Rose" way - but in that heck of a Russian hunk that says it like....*sigh* Oh, and exit signs? Remember when you first started the series and your entire world disappeared until you were fully absorbed into theirs? I couldn't even tell you where those exit signs were, now.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Musings from a week long Gilmore Girls marathon.

If you're friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest you'll have noticed that in the past week or so, almost all I've done is watch Gilmore Girls. What can I say? I got on eBay and bought the series and since they started arriving in my mail - well, let's just say my living room may as well be Stars Hollow between all the junk food and increased banter. Oh, it's true. I've noticed my husband and I (yes, hubby has been watching with me! He's so great!) have been wittier lately! It's fun!

There's so much you can learn from everything in life, and I think - as corny as it may sound - our television preferences as well. I know when my Sex and The City phase was in full swing, my credit cards sky rocketed. I needed new shoes! And clothes! And Cosmo's! Now, I'm not saying that my entire life changes based on what I watch, but even biblically we're told that what we listen to, watch, hear, etc. becomes part of our heart.

One thing that I don't think will ever be part of me is letting people push me around. I love to help others and even if I'm not in the mood - if you're a friend and you need something, I will be there for you. But it's been KILLING me lately that every character, aside from Jess, bends and breaks to everyone around them. There's a distinct difference between dropping an argument, avoiding saying certain things to keep a person's feelings intact, being disrespectful or being a doormat.

When Lorelai's parent's harp on her for her past mistakes, I'm so torn! Because sure, it hurts her so they should stop - but they were also hurt by her actions and she very rarely seriously addresses that.

When Lane wants to talk to a boy, she hides him from sight and ear shot. She creates elaborate plans to be able to see him, talk to him, go out with him. And the whole time I'm thinking "Why don't you just be honest with your mom?" Granted, Mrs. Kim is intense. But there needs to be a point where you learn that showing respect isn't just in obeying the rules or not getting caught, but in the honesty of your heart.

How about how bad Rory played Dean?! Now, we've all had those toxic relationships where you have the good guy, the one who is respectful and pretty much perfect and yet we throw them to the side for the bad boy. But oh my gosh! Dragging it on, much?!

There are so many instances of problems that could be solved with one or two sit down conversations that I've been finding myself screaming at the television. Like, when Lorelai's dad is taken to the hospital and they aren't sure what's going on with him and he's laying in bed with tears in his eyes and they're just staring at each other. I kept wishing I could jump into her body and speak for her,"I love you, Dad." Just to get it out, ya know?!

I do adore the mother-daughter relationship. My mom and I have always been really close, so that's not a shock if you know me. I love that, albeit sometimes it takes awhile, they always share what's on their hearts. And that they are, unapologetically, true to themselves. You can't make Lorelai feel bad for her coffee addiction or crazy home décor. And Rory is not going to give you a second glance if you think she's crazy for studying so much or being close to her mom. And I *LOVE* that about this world. I love the small town, the crazy neighbors and that you scream and do cartwheels when they show Lorelei and Luke together - even if it is in a dream.

But what I hope people who watch also take away from it, is the need for communication. I hope I'm not alone when I'm screaming at Rory that she does not under any circumstances have to let Paris ruin her night of plans - even if those plans are to do laundry and watch TV alone. That would be the day. That girl could have showed up and my doorstep and I may have let her in just to make sure it wasn't something horrific, but then no, I'm sorry. You have to leave! I hope I'm not alone in wanting neighbors like those in Stars Hollow or to have so many friends around town. Could you even imagine living somewhere like that? Walking everywhere? First name basis with the pizza place? ...Ok I kind of am on that part, but it's just because OMG CRAVINGS. Not because my town is super small and awesome :)


Don't get me wrong, I've pinpointed a lot of "scream at the tv" issues here, but I looooooove this show. I love the language, the life, the style - all of it.

What do you guys think? Are there "old" shows you watch and long for, even with little things that make you scream like me and Gilmore Girls? Am I losing my mind? I should be starting season 4 tomorrow, so I'm sure some of you know a whole lot more about what's to come than what I remember from when it originally aired :) It's a sickness. If loving Gilmore Girls is wrong, I don't want to be right! But I do want to keep open lines of communication....