March 31, 2014

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & the Olympians, #3
Source: Bought
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: April 8, 2008

But when you're the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh and guess what. The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive...

I'm going to come right out and say that The Titan's Curse was probably my least favorite of the series. I think I have a little something called "third book syndrome" because the third is always my least favorite. I mean, it would make perfect sense. I skipped the "second book syndrome" gene... I got something much worse. But enough about me and my genes.

We came here to talk about the book, so I'll begin. Probably my biggest problem with this one was that there was no precursor. I felt like the beginning was lacking - just thrown into a secret mission I know nothing about? Jeez, I'm confused now. All of the others at least had some hint of what was going on. Not to mention the fact that Annabeth goes missing about a chapter in... and Percy without Annabeth? Well, he's a little bit off. I think that Annabeth really balances Percy out, so without her around to mediate, he was kind of... impetuous, but also... a bit sad.

And I just missed Annabeth - she's a big part of the books for me, so with out her there it kind of fell apart. I did like the introduction of new characters, though. Nico, Bianca and Thalia all have a great part to play, and each has a distinctly different personality. I enjoyed Thalia's fiery attitude and headstrong ways; a few times I was even sure that her and Percy were going to outright battle over something!

There were several unexpected twists, and a few expected ones. I had my suspicions about Bianca and Nico - it turns out that in the end, I was right. All in all, The Titan's Curse is my least favorite of all the Percy books, but obviously it holds information that is important to me.

March 30, 2014

Scene it Sunday #13 - Red Riding Hood Movie Review

Red Riding Hood
Series: N/A
Source: Bought
Release Date: March 11, 2011
Leads: Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons

Set in a medieval village that is haunted by a werewolf, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family's displeasure.

It would not be a stretch at all to say that this story was much better suited as a movie than a book. Where the book added nothing new to this screenplay, the movie had better interactions and a more vivid storytelling. (Obviously, as it is visual compared to a book.)

I thought that the character portrayals were spot on, and that Amanda Seyfried did a good job as Valerie - she was less "I don't know" than the Valerie in the book - which was actually a good change. Because I really didn't care for the cluelessness of Valerie in the book, but Amanda portrayed her as more of an innocent clueless than a stupid clueless, which was a great thing.

Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons both did well in their parts, though I have to say that I prefer Shiloh, because he did an awesome job at playing the outcast. And he can say "I'll eat you up" with a completely straight face. (Needless to say, no one can watch that and keep a straight face.)

I really liked the atmosphere of the movie - all of the dark, twisty gothic-y stuff really looked very cool, especially with the hint of the "dark ages" going on. It was really neat.

All in all, Red Riding Hood was an interesting enough movie, but I guess it's just not one for the favorites shelf.

March 28, 2014

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4)
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, #4
Source: Bought
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: March 6, 2008
Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.
In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth - a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn
So, The Battle of the Labyrinth. I'm sure you're all expecting me to have something either completely bad or completely awesome to say about this one, considering the fact that this was one of my personal favorites of the series - but words... fail me. I don't even really know what to say! I was going to say that this was my ultimate favorite of the series, but since I've already read The Last Olympian, that's not true. I think that they're tied for my favorite.

I really loved the beginning of this one - it somehow made a bigger impression on me than all of the others - there was immediately something big going on. It was interesting to have Rachel back, after the part that she played in the third book, but I wasn't really sure what to think of her. (By the fifth book, though... I didn't want her around. PERACHEL SHALL NOT HAPPEN ON MY WATCH!)

Since that little outburst is out of the way... I was feeling kind of... I don't know. Sad because I knew that there was no way that everything I wanted could happen in the last two books? It was making me nervous. But in spite of all that, I REALLY love this series.

The Battle of the Labyrinth was the first book where Percy started to realize that Annabeth was a girl - and OMG, I almost died at the adorableness of that! There was some new developments between Annabeth and Percy, with a little bit of tension and GAH it was amazing.

I love the fact that as Percy gets older, it's shown in the books. He makes more mature decisions, and he has an older voice. I like that. It's not something that really happens very often.

I really liked the new twists and plot devices - there's always something super fun going on in this series, and I LOVE IT. Everyone had a part to play, and it was lovely to see everything playing out. I didn't see the ending coming, and it kind of left me stunned!

All in all, The Battle of the Labyrinth was a great continuation of the Percy Jackson series, and since I've read the fifth book, I can tell you that I'm sorry to see these characters go. (Especially Percy and Annabeth! And Nico. I have a soft spot for the little guy.)

March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #32

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: N/A
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
I'm a big fan of historical fiction, so this just sounds like an amazing read to me. And Gretchen sounds like a very interesting character... I'm kind of excited to see how a subject like this might be handled.

March 24, 2014

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, #2
Source: Bought
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: April 1, 2006
The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan's amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a "half blood" whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan's series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment. In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book's drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come

My happiness with this series continued right into this book - once again, we start out with a wonderfully action-packed beginning that thrusts us right back into Percy's world. And I loved it! Immediately, stuff was happening and the plot was twisting and Percy was Percy...

Speaking of Percy, I really do like him. There's something sweet about his personality, and I like the fact that he's so loyal to all of his friends. He would do anything to save them all, and I just think that he's a brave boy. I also like that he seems older in this one - he's growing throughout the books, and there's nothing better than that in my opinion.

I also liked that we get to meet a new character in this one - be prepared for Tyson, y'all. You will fall for his sweet little cyclops self. He's just so precious! There is a bit of drama associated with him, but believe me it's barely a blip - and he overcomes it with his adorable big puppy dog-ish-ness.

I loved the new quest - it seems like every book is going to have a different quest, and I'm not gonna lie - I'm super excited about this! It's like the perfect blend of nerdiness + fantasy for me. I mean, Greek mythology AND quests? There will never come a time when that isn't awesome!!

Let's talk about Percabeth, though. Let's really talk about it - nothing has really happened, but OMG. I want it to happen so bad, it's like I'm dying for it! I definitely definitely ship it, and I'd be the kind of person to push it on them. IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. Like, really.

AND THE ENDING. It's a cliffy, y'all. Be prepared to immediately reach for the next book, because you're going to need it!

March 23, 2014

Scene It Sunday #12 - Percy & The Flying Shoes

The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians, #1
Release Date: February 12, 2010
Leads: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario

A teenager discovers he's the descendant of a Greek god and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between the gods.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

Percy & The Flying Shoes, Book Scene -

I picked up the flying shoes and had a sudden bad feeling. I looked at Chiron. "I won't be able to use these, will I?"
He shook his head. "Luke meant well, Percy. But taking to the air...that would not be wise for you."

Percy & The Flying Shoes, Movie Scene -

In the movie, it seems like Percy is using the shoes every time you turn around! He uses the shoes to get the pearl. (Which is a completely made up quest, by the way.) He uses the shoes to fight Luke. He uses the shoes ALL the time!

This may seem like a small thing, but to me it really wasn't. That was a complete deviation from the book, and a bad one at that. It makes no sense to add that in, and obviously it's just kind of stupid. Did they do it just so that Percy could have cool flying shoes? Jeez.

March 21, 2014

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians
Source: Bought
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: March 21, 2006
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

I'm not going to lie here - the reason that I put off Percy for so long was because of the hype surrounding this series - I mean, we have buckets and buckets of fans. I don't even know if there's any haters, and let's be honest here - I tend to be a naysayer. But I'm super happy to tell you that I actually really enjoyed The Lightning Thief! But first, a quick backstory: Nitzan has been trying to get me to read Percy FOREVER. She was just telling me how awesome it was and everything else - and then, suddenly, whenever I looked at Pinterest, there were headcanons for Percy everywhere. And there were words on them, so I HAD to read them... and I became slightly obsessed. Then there was a discussion on Twitter, and the #PercyPowWow was born... that is the story of how I came to read Percy Jackson.

Now that I've cleared things up with y'all, let's start back at the beginning. I liked this more than I expected to! For some odd reason, I had this idea that I wouldn't really care for Percy as a character. Maybe because he's a guy, or because he's a pre-pubescent guy... whatever. Turns out that he's really great, though! Percy is just so snarky and lovable.

He loves his mom, and I actually think that he seems pretty smart. Flighty, yes. But still smart. I liked that he read like a twelve year old boy - it was nice that he matched up, and wasn't too mature or immature. I also liked the relationships that he formed with the other characters throughout. I loved his friendship with Annabeth & Grover, and I can't wait to see where those relationships will take him in the future!

Another thing that I liked about The Lightning Thief was the ridiculous jokes and the over-the-top plot twists throughout the book. I laughed out loud (hysterically) a few times, that's for sure. And every single plot twist - as ridiculous as they were - somehow made sense. Anyone who can fit pieces like that together most definitely gets my vote.

I liked the never-ending presence of the Greek gods, and the explanation for how they came to be in America. I, for one - have pretty much questioned every myth retelling ever, because of the fact that they all take place in America. It was WONDERFUL to have an explanation for once!

All in all, The Lightning Thief really was a fun read. I'm enjoying the series so far, and I can't wait for shipping Percy and Annabeth. Also, can't tell you how disappointed I am in the movie now.

March 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #31

To All the Boys I've Loved BeforeTo All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Series: N/A
Publisher: Simon Teen
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them...all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

It is most definitely possible for me to die about the idea of this book - I LOVE Jenny Han, and the premise? Mwah! It shall be magnifique, and I shall call it my squishy and I shall love it as if it were my own book. COME ON. LOOK AT IT. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

March 17, 2014

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Series: N/A
Source: Gifted
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: September 30, 1999
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.
I know that The Great Gatsby is a big literary classic, and that it defined a generation and all, but I just can't love it. I liked it, and that was that. Because, to be honest with you - the writing just didn't hit me right. There are a few amazing lines, but when you put them all together they just sort of become confusing, and I didn't care for that.

Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful sort of confusing - full of words and poetry... but still confusing. I can't get past that - several times in the book, I even wondered who Nick was talking about. To be honest, for about the first half of the book, I couldn't figure out who was narrating. It just never stood out to me, and I never really did connect with Nick as a character.

I'm going to come right out and say that I didn't read the synopsis of this at all - I read it solely on recommendation, so I didn't know that Gatsby and Daisy had a history. And let me tell you, that was one of the most romantic shocks ever. I loved that, and I wanted to see more on that front.

I loved the backstory on Gatsby - it was quite the crazy amount of coincidences, and I'm not sure how much of it was true - or how much of it was a lie. I'd like to think that all of it was true, but the personality of Gatsby doesn't necessarily allow for that. In the end, I'm not sure where this book really even took me. I liked it, of course - but I was easily confused by the language of that time, and don't even get me started on the movie. Once I read the book, the movie kind of just died.

All in all, The Great Gatsby is a good read, but it's slightly confusing and actually pretty sad. Gatsby built everything that he was, and in the end it didn't even matter.

March 16, 2014

Scene it Sunday #11 - Percy is Undetermined

The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians
Release Date: February 12, 2010
Leads: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario

A teenager discovers he's the descendant of a Greek god and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between the gods.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)

Book Scene, Percy is Undetermined -

Annabeth announced, "Percy Jackson, meet cabin eleven."
"Regular or undetermined?" somebody asked.
I didn't know what to say, but Annabeth said, "Undetermined."
Everybody groaned.

Movie Scene, Percy is Undetermined -

From the very beginning of the movie (as soon as Camp Half Blood happens) Percy is introduced as the son of Poseidon, and he's claimed almost immediately. They put him in his own private cabin, and he never lives in the Hermes cabin.

This is just one of the ridiculous changes that they made in the movie, but it's one of the bigger ones - it messed up Percy's entire developmental arc. In the books, he's shown as a relatively sweet and normal boy, who's obviously a little unsure. But in the movie, Percy is made out to be slightly arrogant, and a "hero". It's a stupid change. (Lets not even mention the fact that Percy is only twelve in the books, and is like 16 in the movies. Or the ridiculous quest. Maybe these will get mentioned at a later date... maybe.)

Did this change bother you? Have you seen this movie?

March 15, 2014

What Do You Look For in a Bookstore?

As some of you already know, my dream job is to open a bookstore, and BELIEVE ME when I say I will make it happen. I'm that kind of person. But I'm also the kind of person that lives way out - and I've only ever been in a total of three bookstores in my entire life - about one time each. SO. This puts me in the awkward position of knowing EXACTLY what I like in a bookstore, but nothing about what anyone else likes. I guess I'll include pictures, because I'm very strange like that. :P

First off, I noticed that two out of the three bookstores I went to had more nerd paraphernalia than they had books... and I asked myself, "is this really all necessary?" I didn't even bother to look at it. I sped right to the books, but I do want to have some fandom items in my store. (Obviously I'm not interested in a lot of the stuff that they had. I would have things that I liked.) But I don't feel like it's okay for a bookstore to have more DVDs and plushes and board games for Duck Dynasty or whatever than books. Blegh. How do you guys feel about nerdy/fandom/just cool items like that? Here are a few examples of stuff I would want to stock. I also want to stock locally made jewelry and art, with a few other cool things. (My dream location is Mountain View, AR, which is Folk music capital of the world. It's beautiful, and artsy and oh-so-perfect.)

These all came from my Bookish is BEAUTIFUL! and My Bookstore Inspiration boards on Pinterest.

There's a part of me that also wants to have some nerdy Star Wars fandom items as well, and maybe others. I'm into all of it. So which of these items do you like the style of? Would you buy any of them? (Obviously, I'm not planning on going into business RIGHT NOW or anything, but I'd like a general idea.)

And being me, I'd really like to have something very whimsical in nature - I'm very odd like that, and though it's going to take a lot of work, I want a store that feels magical when you walk into it. Wall to wall books, comfy chairs, well-lit and full of... stuff. There's just something very comfortable about a building that looks lived in - I love antique stores. So SORT of like that, but with new books as well - here are a few of the stores I've seen online that seem "magical" to me, or that have wonderful decorating ideas. (Of the three I was in... meh. Chain stores - no heart.)

Obviously the Chevy bench has nothing to do with books, but isn't it beautiful? But look at some of these rooms full of books... don't you just want to go in, and never come out again? Because I would. That's the kind of feel that I want in my bookstore.  I want quotes written on the walls, and words every where. I want someplace that people can walk into and just... lose themselves in. I want shelves that require a library ladder, and snarky shelf titles, like "Vampire Books that Don't Suck" or (for the Historical Romance) "Bodice Rippers". Just something that's completely me in every way.

I've toyed with the idea of a yogurt bar, or having a small cafe, with desserts and coffee drinks. Maybe, maybe not. But the end result is that I want to have so many books, and that I want people to be comfortable there. So... would you shop in my store?

What exactly do you look for in a bookstore? Fandom items, or books? Do you think coffee shops are necessary? Is there just something that you would love to see in a store?