Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hiatus

So, I think everyone knew this was bound to happen. I haven't written a full-fledged review in months and the only posts that were going up with any regularity were my IMM posts. Occasionally I will toss us some movie reviews, but even those are few and far between.

The reason for all of this is that I've been in a quite a funk for the last several months and it doesn't appear to be getting any better. There's been a lot of upheaval in my personal life and unfortunately my reading and blogging have taken a hit as a result. I have read maybe 7 books that I loved so far this year, and only a few of them are YA books. I'm not reading as much as I used to, and I'm not liking much of what I do read.

So after thinking long and hard, I've decided to step away from my blog for a while. I will probably still update my Books Read in 2013 page, but I hate looking at my blog and only seeing IMM posts. I don't want anyone to think that I'm keeping this blog open just so I can brag about what I get every week. The reality is that the IMM posts are the ones that require the least amount of thinking for me to prepare.

My heart just isn't in the YA world right now. I'm still reading YA, but not with the fervor I had been. It has nothing to do with the genre itself and everything to do with me. I'm in a weird place in my life right now--my heart just isn't in anything except taking care of my Best Girl.

So I hope you will understand my absence (I know I just gave you a convoluted mess to read through, and I apologize, but that's how my brain has been working as of late).  I am not deleting my blog because I do hope to return to reading and reviewing. Right now I just need to figure some things out and try to get my life to a better place.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, May 19, 2013

In My Mailbox (135)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

ARCs received from publisher to share with my teens (thank you, Little, Brown!): Two copies of Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff, Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler, and Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass!


Borrowed from the library:
  • Free Fall by Chris Grabenstein (adult fic)
Um, yeah, that's it! I have some other movies on hold but I'm not checking them out until next weekend, so I'll add them to next week's IMM. And I have most of last week's stuff to catch up on, anyway.

What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, May 12, 2013

In My Mailbox (134)

Happy Mother's Day! I hope all the moms out there have a great day. This is my first Mother's Day without my mom, and also my first Mother's Day as a single mom, so it's a bit difficult for me. But I've got my Best Girl and that's all I need!

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

A big, beautiful box of ARCs from a co-worker! She knows that I host a huge giveaway for my teens at the end of the summer:


(The Originals by Cat Patrick and Nantucket Blue by Leila Howard have been on my to-read list forever, and since my nook is no longer working, these are the two I have chosen to accompany me on vacation...the timing couldn't have been more perfect!)

Borrowed from the library:
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • Freak Show by James St. James (June's Book Club selection at my library)
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Broken City
  • The Impossible

What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Monday, May 6, 2013

Movie review: Iron Man 3


So Best Girl and I went to see Iron Man 3 on Friday. We are big Marvel movie fans--I specifically say movies because neither of us read the comics, but we do enjoy the films and the superheroes (I, especially, enjoy watching Thor, preferably shirtless. Yum.).

So this is just a brief review of the movie. We loved it.

Did you want more? LOL Truly, we enjoyed this movie from start to finish (stick around for the bonus after-credits scene!). I can't imagine any other actor succeeding in this role like Robert Downey Jr. does. His constant stream of consciousness talking is something that not many people can do well, but you can tell it's just second nature for him. The scene between Tony and the kid, Harley, he meets in Tennessee, was one of my favorites in the movie, just because of the quick-witted back and forth between the pair.

Iron Man 3 shows us a different side of Tony Stark, one that makes him seem a little less Iron and a little more man. I love Don Cheadle, so it's always a pleasure to see him as the Iron Patriot (although we totally agree that War Machine sounds way cooler). I wonder if there's been any consideration of expanding his story? Would love to see that!

And of course Pepper gets to wear the suit! I'm not sure how I feel about Gwyneth Paltrow, honestly. She's pretty good in these movies, and I get the sense that not just anyone can keep up with RDJ, so she's got that going for her. Do I think she's the most beautiful woman in the world? Um, no. But anyway, she has many of her own kick-ass moments in this movie. It's always awesome to see girls fighting the baddies right there with the boys.

The reason I opened this review with the declaration that we like the movies, not the comics, is because I'm sensing that a lot of comic book purists will not be happy with some of the events in this movie. The little research I've done suggests that the Mandarin, is a completely different villan in the comic books than he is in the movie. I can absolutely get and appreciate how screwing with a book character in a movie is totally wrong (Madge from The Hunger Games, anyone?), but for this movie, I thought the Mandarin twist was pretty cool.

So overall, we felt the movie was very entertaining and had us completely engaged from start (actually, pre-start, because they showed the trailer for Thor: the Dark World. Again, YUM.) to after-credits.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In My Mailbox (133)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Panic by Sharon Draper
  • Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
  • The Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa Bick
  • That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems (picture book)
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Parental Guidance
  • Rise of the Guardians
  • This is 40
  • Life of Pi
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, April 28, 2013

In My Mailbox (132)


In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:

  • Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Django Unchained
  • The Sessions
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, April 21, 2013

In My Mailbox (131)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
  • Period 8 by Chris Crutcher
  • Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, pictures by Adam Rex (picture book, super funny)
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Christi

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Catching Fire--Ramblings

I finally got around to re-reading Catching Fire and finished it up last night. Can I just say that I am so, so nervous about the movie? Catching Fire was my favorite book of the trilogy, and I think that there's so much going on that perhaps this should have been the book to split into two movies.

Here are just a few of the things that bother me (these might be spoilers if you haven't read CF yet):

  • Bonnie and Twill--the two runaways from District 8 that Katniss meets in the woods--aren't mentioned on the IMDB Catching Fire page. This, to me, is a pivotal plot point and I'm scared to see how it's going to be mangled.
  • Madge--I had forgotten how important the roles of her and her family were in CF. Not only the whole thing about her mom and the reaping, but Katniss really sees the uprisings for the first time on a TV in her house. AND SHE WASN'T MENTIONED IN THE FIRST MOVIE. No record of her character on IMDB, either.
  • And after watching the trailer? I am even more scared. Yes, I know they didn't show any of the Quarter Quell, but remember, they didn't show any fighting in any of the trailers for the first movie, either. That doesn't bother me at all (although I fear they will dumb down the monkeys the same way they dumbed down the Muttations). I got the impression that they are going to great lengths to spell things out for the viewer, which pisses me off. President Snow did not admit to doctoring the Quarter Quell decree-things in the book (at least, not in Catching Fire)--readers knew it was all too perfect to be coincidental but we were with Katniss as she slowly came to that realization. Here, we learned in the trailer that Snow has tricks up his sleeve.

Ugh, I don't know. Of course I will be at the movies the weekend Catching Fire opens (I don't think I can do a midnight showing!), and I will be GLAD, ECSTATIC, to come back here and tell you all that I was SO WRONG AND THEY ROCKED CATCHING FIRE. Will I be doing that? Only time will tell.

I do know that I found Liam Hemsworth immensely less stupid-looking--dare I say, almost hot?--when he presented the trailer at the MTV Movie Awards. The facial hair made him look more like his brother, my next husband, Thor.

What do you think? I know I've missed a ton of stuff here.
Enjoy your reading!
Christi


Sunday, April 14, 2013

In My Mailbox (130)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.
So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Four Secrets by Margaret Willey (it's been on my radar ever since I processed it a few months ago)

DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Killer Joe
  • Killing Them Softly
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Monday, April 8, 2013

Early April Movie Reviews

Since I haven't been reading as much lately, and I really haven't been enjoying what I've been reading all that much (with a few exceptions, god I have to get some reviews up!), here are some thoughts on some movies I've seen recently:

Jurassic Park (in 3D, natch) (rated PG-13): Best Girl and I saw this over the weekend. I have ZERO memories of this movie from its first release EXCEPT: when my parents got their big, 50-inch TV, my mom would always pop JP into the VCR to demonstrate the surround sound system. Best Girl LOVED the ride at Universal, and we were pleasantly surprised to see how true the area in Florida was replicated from the movie. The movie was pretty scary (I will venture a guess that 1993 PG-13 standards are not the same as 2013 PG-13 standards!), but overall we very much enjoyed the movie. We enjoyed it so much, in fact, that we picked up the movie on DVD at Target the same day. :)

Robot & Frank (rated PG-13): my colleague at work does lunchtime films for the adult population once a month, and she decided to show this one. I'd never heard of it, so I put it on hold. It was interesting--it takes place in the "near future" and is about an ex-con (Frank, played by Frank Langella, who I love) whose son gives him a robot health aide to make sure he's eating well, sleeping enough, and to basically be a loyal companion. It seems Frank might be starting to get a little...forgetful. Frank soon realizes that Robot might be the perfect companion to pull off one more big heist. This was a cute movie with a great cast (James Marsden, Susan Sarandon, and also Liv Tyler, who I'm not really fond of). Much of the movie revolves around the local library and it's transformation to a digital repository, which of course I found especially interesting.  It wasn't a movie I would've picked up on my own but it was cute enough.

Easy A (rated PG-13): my brother and I were discussing how much we love Stanley Tucci one night, and he (my brother) pulled up a few of Tucci's scenes from this movie on YouTube, so of course I had to borrow this from the library. I have to say I thought this movie was absolutely adorable. Of course Stanley Tucci OWNED this movie, but Emma Stone is adorbs and Thomas Hayden Church was a nice surprise, too. I don't know why I was so hesitant to see this one; I loved it!

What have you seen lately?
Enjoy your reading (and viewing)!
Christi

Sunday, April 7, 2013

In My Mailbox (129)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (adult fic)
  • The Adults by Alison Espach (adult fic)
  • Hysteria by Megan Miranda

DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Robot & Frank
  • Breaking Dawn Part 2 (It's over. Thank the lord, it's finally over!)
  • Last Play at Shea (Billy Joel's concert, the last one held at Shea Stadium. My brother thought I'd enjoy it.)
ARC received from publisher to share with my teens at the library (thank you, Little, Brown Books!):
  • Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin 
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi


Sunday, March 31, 2013

In My Mailbox (128)

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate!!!

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library (I actually made a trip to work--during my vacation!--to pick up my holds!):
  • Bluefish by Par Schmatz
eGalleys downloaded from NetGalley:
  • Rotten by Michael Northrop
  • Dare You To by Kate McGarry
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Argo
  • Lincoln (see why I made the trek to work?)
  • Girls, Season 1
What did you get?

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Movie Reviews (and my feelings on James Franco)

I have been on the fence about James Franco for a long, long time. I really want to like him--I love the idea of him being our generation's Renaissance Man--but something about him just doesn't ring true. My ex-husband has always said never to trust anyone with beady eyes, and for the most part he has been completely spot-on with that advice. Something about James Franco just doesn't ring true for me, like he's made it his life's mission to make us all look like idiots or something.

Still, I enjoy some of his work. Of course I loved him in the Spiderman movies :) and he was absolutely amazing in 127 Hours (rated R)--especially THAT scene, which was done in one horrifying take (I really feel he deserved the Oscar that year, not just a nod). If you can stomach it, I highly recommend it.

Best Girl and I (and a few of my friends) saw Oz: The Great and Powerful (rated PG) a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Mila Kunis is, as aways, stunning. James Franco was better than expected, although I felt the cockiness of the character was more along the lines of how I think Franco might act in real life. But who knows?  The two things I loved best about this movie were Finley, the flying monkey, and the China Doll. I want each of those things for my very own.

Finally, this evening I treated myself to the movies to see the other Franco film out right now, Spring Breakers (rated R). Entertainment Weekly has been raving about this movie for several weeks, and naturally I was curious to see Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens fully breaking out of Disney. Hudgen proved herself, but Gomez's character was a little too clean-cut to really gauge how well she's going to do outside of the Disney bubble.

I was also curious to see how James Franco did as Alien, rapper and local thug. I was not disappointed but instead quite surprised at how well Franco transformed himself:



Until Franco took off the sunglasses, you couldn't even really tell it was him. He didn't just embrace this character, he became this character. It was an amazing transformation. 

This movie is not for everyone, of course. Lots of drug use and drinking, sex and gratuitous nudity, and violence abound. But it was an interesting film that I enjoyed. I never took a spring break trip during college, and you can bet your butt I'm not going to let Best Girl take one, either!

I don't have a final verdict on James Franco. I do enjoy his performances as an actor, but I get the feeling that he's always acting.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In My Mailbox (127)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:

  • Banished: surviving my years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain (adult nonfic)
  • Six Years by Harlan Coben (adult fic)

DVDs borrowed from the library:

  • Easy A
  • Boiler Room
  • Arbitrage

What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, March 17, 2013

In My Mailbox (126)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

So here's what I got this week!

Received from author for review:

  • When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney


DVDS borrowed from the library:

  • Compliance

A pretty slow week for me, but that's OK. Some weeks are like that.
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ugh, word verification

Even though I know I don't get many comments, I am being forced to turn on the word verification for a while. Amidst the few but very sweet comments I have been getting lately is an increasing number of spam comments. The only way I know how to deter them is with word verification. Hopefully it will be only temporary.

Does anyone have another suggestion for me? If you're willing to do the verification, that is!

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, March 10, 2013

In My Mailbox (125)




In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

Here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Who Done It? Investigation of Murder Most Foul (an anthology compiled by Jon Sceiszka featuring over 80 children's and YA authors proclaiming their innocence in the murder of an editor)
  • The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (adult fic)
  • Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun (adult nonfic)
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Looper
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Red Dawn (2012)
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Thursday, March 7, 2013

DVD Reviews 5


Here are a couple of DVDs I watched recently--borrowed from the library, of course!

Seven Psychopaths (rated R): I just could not get into this movie,  I don't know why. I thought all the actors were interesting but the storyline was just all over the place for me. There's just something a little scary about Christopher Walken, I gotta be honest. Woody Harrelson was fun as a psychopath with a soft side for his puppy, though.

Inglourious Basterds (rated R): EXCELLENT movie. I now officially love Christoph Waltz--he was such a good character in Django Unchained and such an evil character in this movie but good or bad, his characters definitely made each movie. I thought this movie was very engaging, although with more subtitles than I was expecting. Still, I was definitely kept involved in this movie, and of course, being a Quentin Tarantino film, there were more twists and turns than expected. Brad Pitt played a redneck with ease, and the actress playing Soshanna was stunning. I did love that Samuel L. Jackson and Harvey Keitel loaned their voices to some small parts, too!

Have you watched anything fun lately?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Monday, March 4, 2013

Island Eyes, Island Skies review

Island Eyes, Island Skies by Richard Levine
Feathered Tale Books, January, 2011
RIRI: Author provided copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
While at her cousin's birthday party, young D.C. meets Rob. They have a great time and promise to meet again over the summer, but a father's untimely death and a mother's miscarriage keep them apart. Reunited at school, smart-alecky D.C. and introspective Rob slowly form a bond, as they share time, adventures and sporting activities together; they also share thoughts about the workings of the mind and nature, and observations about the quirky qualities of certain members of their own families. When tragedy strikes again, they try to come to terms with what it leaves behind, struggling to accept the uncompromising, unidirectional nature of time. In the end though, separately, they come to believe in the future and the second chances it will bring.
I thought this was a very sweet coming-of-age story for middle readers looking to bridge the gap into YA literature. The chapters alternate mostly between twelve-year-olds DC and Rob, but there are some chapters narrated by moms, teachers, and even younger siblings, giving readers an even more intimate look at the lives of these characters.

DC and Rob are both so individual and completely likable. DC is tall for her age and is on her way to being a striking young woman, but she's also got that awkward "I'm 12 and have no idea what to do with this body" thing going on, which pretty much makes her a normal kid. Rob is an easygoing kid who knows right from wrong and is just a good kid. Together, the pair spend time playing sports and creating elaborate made-up scenes--his servant to her queen, etc. If it all seems a little innocent, that's because it is. It's so nice to see two kids just acting like kids. It's totally obvious that each has feeling for the other, but they are also so content to just hang out. It's really, really sweet.

I have to say, though, that the second tragedy (or third, I suppose) happens, it totally took me by surprise and was sudden and extremely unsettling. Seeing how the pair will recover from it just made this a very engaging read.


The author has graciously provided a giveaway copy! Entering the giveaway couldn't be easier, just enter the Rafflecopter! Contest is open to US residents ages 13 and up, and closes on March 15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In My Mailbox (124)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

Here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • The Zodiac Killer: Terror and Mystery by Brenda Haugen (nonfiction)
  • Leverage by Joshua Cohen 
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Seven Psychopaths
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In My Mailbox (123)


In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

Here's what I got this week!
Borrowed from the library:
  • Crash by Lisa McMann
  • The Ruining by Anna Collomore
  • Cross My Heart, Hope to Die (Lying Game #5) by Sara Shepard
  • Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt (for Best Girl. I have to get a review of this up for you guys, she's having such a good time with this book!)
  • Hotel Transylvania (DVD)
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Ruining by Anna Collomore

The Ruining by Anna Collomore
Razorbill, February 2013
RIRI: 2013 Debut Author

Summary from Goodreads:
Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door. 
All too soon cracks appear in Annie's seemingly perfect world. She's blamed for mistakes she doesn't remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she's always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie's fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play? 
The Ruining is a complex ride through first love, chilling manipulation, and the terrifying depths of insanity.
I had such a hard time reading this book. I get it that Annie has a crappy home life and that escaping to San Francisco is a dream come true, but for the first half of the book I was cringing and I really thought I knew how the book was going to turn. I mean, if it sounds too good to be true (Annie's job, in this case), it usually is, right? And there were so many things that just felt familiar, like I've read them before.

Happily, this novel twists in a way that other too-good-to-be-true stories doesn't, and that's what made it interesting for me. Truly, Annie has no self-esteem or courage to be her own person and that comes through in the events in the middle and towards the end of the book. This is one of those books that you can't really review because everything is a spoiler, but suffice it to say that I thought the turn was a good one. I did think the ending was a little too neat, but another reviewer mentioned that the ending shows that Annie hadn't really learned anything from her experiences, and I think that's pretty spot on, and if that's the case, the ending totally fits.

Anyway, a decent trek into mental illness and an enjoyable psychological thriller.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February Movie Reviews

Sheesh, I really suck at this whole blogging thing, don't I? To be fair, a lot of what I'm reading now are books for consideration on the awards list I read for, and I'm not loving most of those titles. And you all know how I feel about reviewing books I hate.

BUT! I watched a bunch of movies this weekend!

Flight (rated R): borrowed this one from the library because I'm trying to get as many Oscar noms in as possible before Sunday (not doing too well on this one, I gotta be honest). Good movie, difficult to watch. My coworker worked for an airline in a past life and won't watch this out of principle. I gotta admit, the idea of a drunk and high airline pilot is scary. Denzel Washington pulls it off, though, and I thought the movie addressed the theme of culpability fairly well--was the pilot's state of inebriation to blame for the accident? If not, should he still share some of the responsibility? And, I have to say that the actual crash scene was soooo difficult to watch. Very well done.

Django Unchanged (rated R): drove to a movie theater an hour away to catch this one before it comes out on DVD, and I'm so, so glad I did. Lots of blood, more so than Pulp Fiction and I think less than either of the Kill Bill movies, but this film is quintessential Quentin Tarantino. EXCELLENT acting all around. Christoph Waltz is AMAZING, Jamie Foxx is endearing, Samuel L. Jackson was PERFECTLY cast, and yes, I even enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio--he pulls off evil surprisingly well. (Seriously, WTF is it with that kid, that he doesn't age at all? He looks almost exactly the same as he did in his Growing Pains days!). I liked the dig at the Ku Klux Klan, and I truly enjoyed Quentin's cameo role. My bladder felt the movie ran a little long LOL but it was a great movie and I'm glad I made the effort to see it on the big screen, the way it was meant to be watched.

Tiny Furniture (NR): I borrowed this from the library. After seeing Lena win the Golden Globe for her series Girls (which I haven't yet seen but am on hold for), and reading her cover article in EW, I was a little intrigued by her. This movie, though, was just beyond me. I get it--it's about a post-grad with no job prospects moving back home--but sadly I just couldn't get into it and was just WAITING for something to happen. Sigh.

What have you seen lately?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, February 17, 2013

In My Mailbox (122)

In My Mailbox is a meme created by The Story Siren to showcase new books received.

Borrowed from the library:
  • 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn by James Proimos (for award committee)
  • Seventeen's Ultimate Guide to Style: how to find your perfect look by Ann Shoket (for nonfiction award committee)
  • Little Rock Girl 1957: how a photograph changed the fight for integration by Shelley Tougas (juvenile nonfiction for award committee)
  • World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky (for nonfiction award committee)
  • The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo (adult fiction, for award committeee)
  • Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson (you guessed it, award committee assignment!)
  • Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (sequel to Shatter Me!)
  • Sever by Lauren DeStefano (final book in the Chemical Garden trilogy!)
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Flight
  • Tiny Furniture
Have to get my committee work done so I can get back into my must-read list!!
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, February 10, 2013

In My Mailbox (121)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:

  • Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando (for reading committee)
  • In Darkness by Nick Lake (Printz winner and it's up for consideration on the summer reading list)
  • Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alie Saenz (BIG award honoree and winner)

DVDs borrowed from the library:

  • Here Comes the Boom
  • Red Dawn (original)

I have a ton of reading to do for the award committee I'm on, so a lot of what I've been wanting to read might have to wait for a while. I think I have nine books to read before the next meeting (which is in early March), and unfortunately for me, I'm in a bit of a reading funk lately. Sigh.

What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

DVD reviews 4


More movies, yay!

Pitch Perfect: Not sure why I wanted to see this, except that everyone said it was a great movie. I thought it was OK, I'm certainly glad I borrowed it from the library and didn't pay for it. I most enjoyed Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as the commentators (JMH is a spectacular actor, just sayin'). Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin are adorbs. It was a cute movie, there's just a little too much innuendo for me to want to show it at a movie night at the library, but it was cute. 

The Bourne Legacy: Best Girl has a thing for Jeremy Renner (uh, Hawkeye AND he's a lefty, like her!), so that's why we borrowed this. Plus, someone told me that we didn't have to see the first Bourne movies to follow this one. Wish I could remember who that person was, because THEY LIE. We had no idea what was going on for the first 45 minutes of the movie LOL Thank goodness for IMDB--I was sitting on the couch trying to follow the movie with the plot synopsis, and then trying to explain all of that to a 10-year-old! Once the action started up, the plot didn't really matter that much anymore, and we did enjoy those parts. Best Girl hates when movies end without definitive endings, though, and this is one of those.

Enjoy your reading (and viewing)!
Christi


Super Short Reviews (19)

Here are some quick thoughts on some recent reads. Book links will take you to Goodreads; RIRI is Reason I Read It.

What We Saw at Night by Jacqueline Mitchard: from library. RIRI: I usually love everything Jacqueline publishes. Sadly, I struggled to get through this novel. There was so much (necessary) emphasis on XP (get a brief overview at Wikipedia), Parkour (again, link to Wikipedia), and teens coming of age that the mystery seemed awfully muddled. There's one or maybe two suspects, there may be one or more murders (or maybe none), and Allie, our narrator, appears to be sane but I was really hoping she'd turn out to be off her rocker, if for no other reason than it would tie everything together for me. And then, I turn to what I think is the last chapter of the book only to find out it's a preview of the soon-to-be-released sequel, What We Lost at Night! So the book ended unexpectedly with a meh-cliffhanger. I was not impressed and won't be reading the sequel.

Fall to Pieces by Vahini Naidoo: from library. RIRI: it sounded interesting and a 2013 debut author. Here's another disappointing book. Strange, though, that I read two books in a row that have to do with teens and dangerous physical behavior. In this one, Ella and her friends do Pick Me Ups, which basically means that they make these really stupidly high jumps and get all banged up so that Ella can try to remember what happened on the night her BFF Amy jumped to her death. WTF? I didn't care about these characters at all, I didn't care why Amy jumped, and the reason was such a nonevent that I felt cheated. Most of the reviews are more positive than mine, so I'm going to chalk this up to me instead of the book. And you know it never bothers me, but I will offer up the fact that the "F" word is used an awful lot. 

Hoping that much next reviews will be more positive!!
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, February 3, 2013

In My Mailbox (120)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Newberry winner and I put it on hold before that!)
  • Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
  • Shadowlands by Kate Brian
  • Return to Me by Justine Chen
  • Back to Front and Upside Down! by Claire Alexander (picture book and winner of the Schneider Family Book Award)
  • This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (picture book and winner of the Caldecott Medal)
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • The Dictator
  • Bernie (Jack Black and Shirley MacClaine? OMG!)
  • Waiting
  • Zombieland
  • The Expendables 2 (I know, I know. I just think it's going to be so awful it might be funny.)
  • Broken Lizard's Super Troopers
Wow, I've got some baaadddd movies to watch!!!
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DVD reviews 3


I watched a few more movies this weekend; thought I'd share my thoughts.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (rated PG-13): I picked this up because of the little girl who's been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress (Quvenzhane Wallis)--she was 6 when she made the movie and is 9 now. Let me tell you, this girl has some acting chops. I don't know if she's the best actress out of those nominated, but she has tons of talent for her young age, and she's cute as a button to boot. Anyway, I can't really even describe the movie appropriately--here's the description from IMDB: 
Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.
Even that doesn't do this movie justice. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before, and is fantastical but hauntingly realistic at the same time. A really well done film.

Frankenweenie (rated PG): In general, I am a fan of Tim Burton's work. I like almost everything I've seen of his (granted, I haven't seen everything). Having said that, I must admit that I didn't finish this movie. I just couldn't get into it, and I'm not really sure why. I just had to put our beloved chocolate Lab down last week, so maybe it was a little too close to home for me? Whatever the reason, sadly I didn't finish this movie.

Have you seen anything good lately?
Enjoy your reading--and viewing!
Christi

Sunday, January 27, 2013

In My Mailbox (119)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

Received from the author in exchange for an honest review: Island Eyes, Island Skies by Richard Levine (and an extra copy for a giveaway, too!)


Borrowed from the library:
  • Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
  • What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard
DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Pitch Perfect
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Friday, January 25, 2013

Super Short Reviews 18


I don't want this to turn into a strictly-movie-related blog :) so here are my thoughts on some recent books I've read. Links go to Goodreads. RIRI= Reason I Read It.

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff (from library): RIRI: the premise sounded interesting, and I remember being really excited about The Replacements by Yovanoff awhile back. Say what you will, she has some pretty awesome book covers. Anyway, I enjoy murder mysteries, and I don't mind ghost stories if they're done well. Paper Valentine was interesting. Hannah is trying to deal with life after her BFF's death--while also dealing with the ghost of her BFF. Then girls start getting murdered in her small town (her BFF's death is unrelated) and, as is the way in YA mystery books, Hannah is thrown into the investigation. An engaging read, with a twist I didn't expect (although in retrospect I should have seen it coming, but I was distracted by everything else going on).

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz (from library): RIRI: I loved Break, but just couldn't get into Gone, Gone, Gone, so of course I had to read this one! And I have to say that I must have put this on my to-read list because of Moskowitz's name alone, because I was not expecting it to be a fantasy novel about magic health-improving fish and a merman. You know that in general I avoid fantasy at all costs. This novel, however, was a refreshing twist on fantasy and I think it raised more questions than it answered. If you can be healed by eating the fish that exist only off of this island, then you can never leave the island. And what if all the fish suddenly disappear? Plus, Teeth. What an extraordinary character, I've never read about anyone quite like him. And bonus ew factor for how Teeth came to be...

My Beautiful Failure by Janet Ruth Young (from library): RIRI: The Babysitter Murders (now retitled Things I Shouldn't Think) is on my MAHROAT list, so naturally that means I will eagerly read anything else Janet writes. And while I enjoyed this novel, I didn't love it as much as her previous novel, and I found the main character, Billy, to be a gigantic dill weed. He's just so sure of himself and so convinced that he always knows what's best (for his family, his father, the freakin' suicide hotline)--he's the kind of person I want to punch in the face. I so wanted his suspicions about his father to be wrong, only because I wanted Billy to get knocked down a few pegs. His behavior and his egotism are absolutely necessary to the story, and I totally get why Janet wrote Billy the way she did--I just found his character to be so unlikable that it was hard for me to truly enjoy the story.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More movies!

I told you I was falling behind on my reading! I did watch two more movies today though--yes, in one day! I was off of work for an appointment today, and the appointment didn't take nearly as long as I'd thought it would, so I treated myself to an afternoon at the movies. By myself. Which I have done before, back when I was pregnant (Best Girl is 10, to put that in perspective). There's a stigma to going to the movies by yourself, but I don't know why. I didn't have to share my popcorn, I didn't have to worry if my companion was having a good time, and I was able to leave when I wanted.

And the movie? Silver Linings Playbook. A. MAZ. ING. You are aware that I heart Bradley Cooper, right? Jennifer Lawrence can apparently do no wrong and Robert DeNiro, Chris Tucker and the woman who played Bradley Cooper's mom nearly stole the movie with their supporting roles. I was engrossed from beginning to end--and was even able to overlook the whole Philadelphia Eagles aspect of the movie (which is saying a lot coming from a Giants fan!). Seriously, I love this movie. It's rated R mostly for language, but I felt it was a very realistic portrayal of families and of mental illness. And can I just tell you that I saw Matthew Quick (author of the book the movie is adapted from) at my first Collingswood Book Fest (he was promoting Sorta Like a Rock Star), and I DIDN'T get his book and I have been kicking myself about it for, what, three years now?

Then this evening Best Girl and I sat down and watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green on DVD. What a sweet, sweet movie, a quiet movie, which makes it a departure from most of what Disney puts out. It's a movie about a couple who desperately wants a child of their own, but can't conceive. There was nothing inappropriate at all in this movie (it is Disney, after all), no violence or language. It was just a sweet story and I really enjoyed it (although, to be fair, Best Girl did not like the ending. I thought it was a good fit).

So, that's what I've been up to. I have a ton of movies on hold at the library, so hopefully you don't mind the movie reviews, because I'll have more coming up soon!

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In My Mailbox (118)


In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

Here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:

  • Just One Day by Gayle Forman
  • Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
  • Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
  • Fall to Pieces by Vahini Baidoo
  • The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan
  • Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli
  • The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (who is only writing this because his therapist said he had to, which stinks) by Susin Nielson

DVDs borrowed from the library:
  • Frankenweenie
  • The Bourne Legacy
  • The Odd Life of Timothy Green
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild

Whew! I've got my work cut out for me this week!!
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Namesake

The Namesake by Steven Parlato
Merit Press, January 18, 2013

Summary from Goodreads:
Gifted artist? Standout student? 
All his teachers are sure certain that Evan Galloway can be the graduate who brings glory to small, ordinary St. Sebastian's School. 
As for Evan, however, he can't be bothered anymore. 
Since the shock of his young father's suicide last spring, Evan no longer cares about the future. In fact, he believes that he spent the first fifteen years of his life living a lie. Despite his mother's encouragement and the steadfast companionship of his best friend, Alexis, Evan is mired in rage and bitterness. Good memories seem ludicrous when the present holds no hope. 
Then Evan's grandmother hands him the key--literally, a key--to a locked trunk that his father hid when he was the same age as Evan is now. Digging into the trunk and the small-town secrets it uncovers, Evan can begin to face who his father really was, and why even the love of his son could not save him.
In a voice that resonates with the authenticity of grief, Steven Parlato tells a different kind of coming-of-age story, about a boy thrust into adulthood too soon, through the corridor of shame, disbelief, and finally...compassion.
This was the third book I accepted from Merit Press, the new YA imprint from F&W. I thought the premise of this one was the most interesting of the three--Evan attempts to discover who his father really was after his father commits suicide. Sadly, I enjoyed this book the least out if the three (click to read my reviews of Louder Than Words and Girl in the Wall). I felt the story itself was strong--Evan discovers through his father's journal, art and cassette tapes that Evan Sr. was repeatedly molested by a trusted and respected adult in his community. It's a topic that needs to be discussed.

What kept me from truly enjoying the story was all the subplots. Evan is supposed to graduate early but I see no evidence why and I think this plot point could have been deleted. Likewise, he's supposed to be a super-talented artist like his dad, but we hardly ever see him create anything. Everyone says he's such a great student and kid but we don't see that. The relationship between Evan and his best friend Lex (who he loves, naturally) isn't as developed as it should be. Lex gas suffered from her own family trauma (we're led to believe molestation), but there's no reason for this plot point either. She is of no help to Evan once he discovers his father's past. There's a subplot involving a local restaurant that yes, does relate to the plot, but there are all these extra details that only divert your attention from the main plot.

Finally, there is one scene in the book that is so graphic that it just doesn't have a place in YA fiction. Now, you guys know me--you know that I don't get grossed out easily. This one thing, though...it was just too much for me. Especially because **spoiler** the majority of the molestation is glossed over or alluded to. It seems that the author went to great lengths to make the descriptions of the molestation appropriate for teens, but this one thing just seemed to slip through. I don't know. For that reason I would recommend this title for older teens (emerging adults?) and adults.

ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Monday, January 14, 2013

January DVD Reviews


Obviously I"m not doing a great job on my resolution to blog more in 2013. While I'm not in a reading slump, per se, I haven't been reading as voraciously as in the past. I have, however, been trying to catch up on my DVD movie viewing. Want to hear some thoughts on them? 

The Hangover, part 2 (rated R): Loved the first movie, and heard they're working on a third, so wanted to catch up. I was disappointed that the plot was almost exactly the same. I love Bradley Cooper, but Ken Jeong clearly stole this movie. And I like saying Zack Galifianakis LOL

Ted (rated R): I had such high expectations for this movie but sadly, it wasn't as...bad...as I had heard it would be, which meant that it wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. I know, I'm demented if Ted wasn't raunchy enough for me! I've always had a crush on Mark Wahlberg (yes, even back when he was Marky Mark) so that was definitely a bonus. And Mila Kunis continues to amaze me--her role as Jackie on That 70's Show gave no indication that she would become a beautiful, stellar actress. As for Ted himself, I'm sorry, it was just so hard for me to listen to him talk and not picture Peter, Stewie or Brian Griffin. It was a funny movie, just not as pee-in-your-pants-funny I thought it would be.

The Words (rated PG-13): I love Bradley Cooper, have I mentioned that? OMG so much. And so I wanted to see this movie no matter what. It was an interesting story--Dennis Quaid reading from his book about a man who published a book as his own, that actually belonged to yet another man. A thinking movie, you know? And great casting--not just Cooper, but Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Olivia Wilde--who I don't think I've seen in anything before, but she's stunning--even Michael McKeon and JK Simmons (the Farmers Insurance guy!). 

Have you watched anything awesome lately? Let me know in the comments!
Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In My Mailbox (117)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

Here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:

  • My Beautiful Failure by Janet Ruth Young (YAY!)
Eep, that's it for this week, but one book from one of my favorite authors is better than 20 from authors that are just OK. Plus, I've got some TBR stuff, and I've gotta start on my assigned reading list for the 9-12 section of the award committee I'm on!!

What did you get? Enjoy your reading!
Christi

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In My Mailbox (116)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:

  • Heads in Beds (adult nonfic about the inner workings of hotels) by Jacob Tomsky
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (adult fic)

eGalleys from NetGalley:

  • The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
  • The Sin-Eaters Confession by Ilsa Bick

What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!
Christi