A BOOK : Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge
Published January 2014
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Photo and summary from Goodreads

I ended up really enjoying Cruel Beauty for a smattering of reasons:

1.  I listened to the audiobook of this Beauty and the Beast retelling, and I have to say it was one of my best decisions in the last week. It’s narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden who exactly fits the tone. She has a smooth, flippant sounding voice and perfectly fit into the Gothic feel.

2.  Nyx is just awesome. She is a young girl given away to fix her father’s mistakes and she is angry. So angry. Yet, still determined. I love that she admits to feeling certain ways, and also admits to the flaws of those feelings. It made her more complex to me and thus more interesting.

3.  There are plenty of romantic bits, but the romance isn’t necessarily the main story. It’s more about duty and maintaining yourself even while in a bad situation. It’s about trying to figure out the truth, when your entire life you have been inundated with different information.

4.  This goes slowly, yet still keeps moving. There were parts where I was pretty ready for something new to happen, but thankfully just when I started feeling that, something new DID happen. Some things got a little repetitive, but I think that is mostly because the bulk of the book was set in the house Nyx is trapped in.

5.  This is a retelling of The Beauty and the Beast story and as a fan that likes Beauty and the Beast but doesn’t know much about the main story and the variations of it, I enjoyed trying to figure out in what ways Cruel Beauty would be similar and what ways it would be different.

If you are a fan of fairy tale re-tellings, dark romances, interestingly built new worlds, and complex characters, you should take a gander at Cruel Beauty.

Belated 24in48 Thoughts and Reading Ruts

A friend of mine asked how 24in48 went for me, and it made me realize I never gave an update anywhere with how that went.

For those that don’t know what I am talking about, it was a readathon lasting 11/15/2014-11/16/2014 in which participants read 24 out of the 48 hours. You can read more about it here and also take a look at my original post about it.

I ended up not successfully completing the 24 hours and  only completed 8 hours. Truthfully? I am one-thousand percent fine with that. While in that time I finished a book I’ve been wanting to finish and read a new book I have been wanting to read, what was more important to me was it helped me figure out what the heck has been going on with my reading lately.

I have been having a really hard time trying to figure out what I am in the mood to read, to the point where reading anything had been feeling like work or just something to check off that I’ve read on Goodreads. There are a lot of things I have read recently that I liked alright or maybe even a lot, but it didn’t hit that *SPOT.* You know? There is this moment where a writing style, a plot, a time of your life, and your mood just align and  BAM you have the perfect storm of everything you love about reading. That perfect storm has not been happening for me, and I have been desperately seeking it.

I did not reach that perfect storm that weekend, but giving myself permission to spend a HUGE chunk of my day just reading and allowing myself to start and stop books as I liked helped me figure out more of what exactly I am craving and helped me figure out what I am most definitely NOT wanting to read right now.

As a result, I am in a much much better reading place right now, because I have figured more of what I need out of my books and am able to select titles better suited to that. I am happily enjoying myself in the midst of three different stories and have just finished one this weekend that I have been thinking about constantly (How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran).

So maybe I didn’t achieve the exact goal I had set out to achieve, but what I did achieve was more important: I managed to make my passion for reading burn a little brighter. Best of luck to anyone else that has been experiencing similar difficulties! Getting out of these ruts is different for everyone and different every time, but just remember there is no right way or wrong way to read.

A BOOK : Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs

Breakfast Served Anytime
by Sarah Combs
Published April 2014

When Gloria sets out to spend the summer before her senior year at a camp for gifted and talented students, she doesn’t know quite what to expect. Fresh from the heartache of losing her grandmother and missing her best friend, Gloria resolves to make the best of her new circumstances. But some things are proving to be more challenging than she expected. Like the series of mysterious clues left by a certain Professor X before he even shows up to teach his class, Secrets of the Written Word. Or the very sweet, but very conservative, roommate whose coal-industry family champions mountaintop removal. Not to mention the obnoxious Mason, who dresses like the Mad Hatter and immediately gets on Gloria’s nerves — but somehow won’t escape her thoughts.

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

This is one of those titles that really show me the power of blogging and sharing books. Wayyy back in April I read GRead’s post raving about Breakfast Served Anytime and since then this book has been sitting on my mental “READ THIS ASAP” list. FINALLY, I did.

And I’m really glad.

Breakfast Served Anytime is seriously one big emotional treat. Soon to be senior Gloria is at Geek camp for the summer and is at the cusp of trying to figure out where to go next in life. Should she go to New York with her best friend and try to become an actress as they had originally planned? Or should she stay in boring old Kentucky because she will be getting a really good scholarship? And of course, just because you have your eyes on the future doesn’t mean every day life stops. There are still infuriating boys to deal with, surprising friendships, and  trying to figure out your stance on the world.

This book largely exists in Gloria’s head, and as a result, I feel like it is a ball of EMOTION. She is gloriously sentimental and nostalgic. I think that is what stuck out to me the most, especially as an adult reading this. There are times when she seems to love the moment she is in so much, that she starts to fret about when it will be over. I get that. I really, really get that.

And that is pretty much the sum of my experience reading Breakfast Served Anytime. I kept saying, “I understand. I get that.” It’s one of those books that is very unique in some ways, and because of that it I can see this as very divisive emotionally. It’s either “I get that!” or “What the heck is she on about?”

Bonus: There is something really enjoyable about reading about someone that isn’t afraid to love things. Gloria loves things passionately and shares that love. She loves her dad, she loves the anticipation before things, she loves reading, she loves To Kill a Mockingbird, she loves music, and so many other things. One of my favorite quotes about reading:

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes you can love a book not so much because of what it’s about or what happens in it, but because it belongs to a certain time or person in your life- like you’ll always remember where you were when you read it for the first time, or who gave it to you, or what season it was, or who you were before you read it and how you were different when it was over.”

So for those looking for a quieter book about interacting with the world and change and growing up or for those looking for a young adult novel that strongly stands on its own, you should check out Breakfast Served Anytime.

Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads

#24in48

So I have trepidly but fullheartedly finally decided to join in on the #24in48 readathon hosted by Rachel Manwill. You can read more about it HERE but essentially you read 24 hours in a 48 hour time period! I am soooooo behind in my reading and I am hoping this will satisfy that desire to just sink away into books and also my nerves of “falling behind” (whatever that means!).

So my proposed list:

image

This very well might change, but I am going for things I already own or have checked out from the library already.

I also have been craving poetry for some reason, so I stuck some Louise Gluck in there. Oh my goodness, I am excited.

I don’t know how I am going to be updating things but I may be using my twitter and/or instagram.

Happy reading to those choosing to participate or not choosing to!

*note- I am posting this from my phone for the first time, so apologies if this post ends up being all wonky. New adventures!  Haha

A BOOK : I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I’ll Give You the Sun
Jandy Nelson
Published September 2014

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Photo and Summary from Goodreads.com

I. Loved. This. Book. So much.

The narration is split between twins Noah and Jude, Noah’s sections being when they were 13 and Jude’s sections being from “the present” when they are 16. Both of the characters are poetic messes of people, struggling with parental attention, growing up, and trying to figure out how to live in the world. Maybe it’s through the use of the dual narration, but Jandy Nelson does a good job of breathing these two into real life, giving me a good idea as to their inner worl, and how they interact with the outer world.

I am trying to put my thoughts into words, but my ability to string them together is FAILING today. Instead I am just going to throw fragments at you.

-Jandy is a good writer. Really good. She uses a more unique style from what I’ve been reading recently, which to me personally was a breath of fresh air. Having just read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart I would say the language and the that were tools used come from a very similar place. I loved it.

-The family dynamics were really interesting, because from the two different narrations of siblings you end up getting two perspectives of the same thing. I found it really enjoyable that as a result of this you get to see the tension between perceptions the characters have versus reality in the book.

-The characters that fill up Jude and Noah’s life are really interesting. From a mysterious gruff stone sculptor to a boy with a mismatched face to a kid that searches for space debris- these characters shine in their own ways on their own. Sometimes it feels like all of the characters in a book are just created to build up the narrator and progress the story. This book didn’t feel like that. It felt like I had zoomed into a town, and then just chose to zoom into Jude and Noah’s lives.

I’ll Give You the Sun is all about art and creating things and understanding people and understanding yourself and falling in maybe love and being okay with who you are and guilt and responsibility and it is just bursting with beauty. Bursting! Plus, the cover. Look at that! Plus plus, I love the title even more now that I understand how it relates to the book. So read it. Okay?

Add it to your to-reads shelf on Goodreads!

The Haps: A book, a song, and a book!

Hi friends!

I just wanted to let you know I have not forgotten about this little space in book blogging land. Life is filled to the brim right now with so many amazing things, and unfortunately I have not been able to set aside time for this little guy, although I have been missing it dearly!

So an update–

I just started The Wanderer by Robyn Carr. I like it that it is so focused on setting. It reminds me a lot of the tv series The Hart of Dixie– just like that tv series an outsider comes to a small town with all of its quirky people and gossip. While it has a main male narrator (he is the wanderer referenced in the title), it also jumps between other people in the town so we get to have fun seeing people and events from all different points of view.

Click the picture if you want to take a look at it on Goodreads:

The Wanderer (Thunder Point, #1)

Other things? I have been listening to the same song for the past 2.5 hours now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zY6qqvrs-Y

And lastly? I am doing everything I can to not start the following book, because I am pretty sure the moment I do I will not do anything else. Which would be BAD. It sounds cute and I love the music element to it! You should read it so I can read it vicariously through you.

Open Road Summer

 

HOW ABOUT YOU?! Are you reading or watching anything great right now?

A BOOK : Conversion by Kathrine Howe

18667792Conversion
Katherine Howe
Published July 1, 2014

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.
 
First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
 
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
 
Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

Summary and Image from Goodreads.com

Do you ever read a book where you just kind of want to talk about it in ALL CAPS? For some reason, that is this one for me! I just find this novel so dang interesting and as a result I have been pretty much talking about it to everyone and anyone who will listen. Which is why I am now back to blogging. BECAUSE THIS BOOK IS INTERESTING.

-I like that it is based on a true story while taking large fictional leaps. In the last few pages Katherine Howe explains how she was inspired to write Conversion and as a result she mashed together these two separate stories that might seem different, but have more in common than we think.

-The mystery element is what kept me reading. I NEEDED to know what was going on with these girls, and yes– you do find out so you aren’t left hanging!!

-It’s all about girls and society– their role in society and how they are treated by society. This would make a great discussion book for that topic alone. I loved that Howe explored that and I loved how she did it in an artful way.

-A lot of the book centers around Colleen, and something about her– her obsession with getting into school, the comfort she finds with her friends, her voice in general– made me really enjoy reading about her. I think part of it is because she felt like a complete person with flaws that drove the story and endearing qualities that made me want to root for her.

So if you are looking for a book to really sink into (this one is longer clocking in at 432 pages) that will grab your attention, make sure to add Conversion to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.com!