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FF7 will always be the core of my nerding

when i was in elementary and middle school, i secretly played Final Fantasy on my NES. it was apparent to me, even at that age, that the rest of the girls i knew were not playing video games, let alone rpg video games, for hours and days on end. because i wanted to fit in (just like every other middle school girl ever in life), i kept it on the low.

in high school, i got Final Fantasy VII for Playstation and played it all the time. like, ALL the time. but again, totally on the down low because i didn't want my friends to know what a super nerd i was. i'd stay up late playing FF7 on weeknights. if there was nothing going on during the weekend, i'd have a secret FF7 marathon. seriously, it was an addiction. the worst part is when THE BAD THING happened, i had no one to go to with my shock and tears. damn you, Sephiroth!

but now that i'm older and have fully embraced the nerd that i truly am, i can share this with you.

and in case you wondered, Red XIII is my fave according to this flowchart of awesome.

in related news, i think an epic replay of this game is in my not too distant future. sadly, my original Playstation is long gone (RIP friend), so if you have any helpful info for helping make that happen, let me know! 

stand alone vs. series

this is part of the fun meme ,TGIF, hosted by Ginger at GReads! (which is a pretty great blog, if i do say so myself). each friday she hosts a question that the literary lovers in the world can ponder. this week, the lovely Ginger asks:

Stand Alone vs. Series: What's your Stance?

i KNOW you guys, Ginger really brought the ruckus this week. this is a tough one. 

if you recall, i have a serious series problem. i'm not against series by any means, but i am against reading a book that is part of a series...and not really liking it. this is personal preference of course, but part of me is tempted to continue reading JUST for closure. 

okay i really just can't wrap my brain about this any other way. i need to make a pro and con list. yes, i am that girl.

+ furthers character development 
+ expanded plot timeline provides more time with your favorite characters
+ potential for growth in characters, world, plot, writing style
- cliffhangers
- reading the first book and wanting to know what happens...but not liking it enough to continue and relying on Wikipedia instead. thanks, internet!

stand alone
+ closure. sweet, sweet closure
+ tight and thoughtful writing
- if a book is really good, i typically want just a little bit more after the ending.  or a lot more. 
- sometimes the minor characters get the shaft and we don't get to spend as much time with them as we'd like.

well boys and girls, judging from my pros and cons lists, it looks like i prefer series. i honestly would not have claimed that as my stance, but the pros and cons speak for themselves. 

to see what others have to say, or to share your own stance, pop on over to GReads! 

Land of Corn Chips cover reveal

Eleven-year-old Nate Hansen never believed in dragons before an eccentric man with a purple-feather hat kidnaps him. Spirited to the Land of Corn Chips on the back of a mechanical yellow dragon, Nate must find a way to avoid being ground into compost. His only hope of escape is to earn the friendship of the local wrestling gang and zombie kids, and to believe in a parent he no longer trusts.

sounds crazy cool, right?

i present to you, the reveal of the cover!

to learn more about Angela Carlie and her previous book, Dream Smashers, check the following links.

thanks to Angie for letting me present her crazy cool cover, and to Ginger GReads for shooting me the information. much love!

this. is. TORTURE.

you can read the first chapter of the man, the myth, the legend Patrick Ness's new work A Monster Calls.

you guys, the first line is:
"The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do."


read the first chapter here.

and for goodness sake, if you haven't read his Chaos Walking Trilogy, stop whatever you're doing and DO IT. then you can come back here and thank me for recommending it to you and then start sending crazy fangirl emails and tweets to the man who created such incredible narratives to share with you.

Sarah Dessen Week

i read and loved This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, and i've wanted to read more by her. i just haven't gotten around to it.

thankfully, the girls at The Reading Housewives and YA Bibliophile are helping motivate me by hosting Sarah Dessen week. holla!


you should totally join me. for real, Sarah Dessen crafts a seriously awesome narrative.

Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

in a sentence or so: Gwen, who up until her first trip back in time, was certain that her cousin Charlotte had inherited the time-traveling gene. Gwen is totally unprepared for traveling through time, for the secret society that she has to be a part of, and particularly unprepared for this broody boy named Gideon who is going to be her partner through all of this craziness.

Gwen knows her family is different. for one, she lives in a gigantic house with a ball-room, a butler, and much of her extended family. she calls her grandma "Lady Arista". her aunt has strange visions. her cousin has taken fencing and foreign language lessons to prepare herself for time-travel. Gwen can see and talk to ghosts. yeah, Gwen knows all of these things are strange, which is why she's most happy when she's with her best friend Lesley talking about movies.

and then, to everyone's surprise, Gwen travels back in time. though only for a moment, she now knows for sure that she is the carrier of the time-traveling gene and not her super prepared cousin Charlotte. Gwen, after having dished every single detail to Lesley, tells her mom. she's then immediately whisked away to a secret building and secret underground society where secret people carry secret folders with lots of secrets hidden inside. okay so you get the whole secretive deal.

Gwen's place in the time traveling circle is called Ruby. there's Diamond, Citrine, Emerald, and so on...and the last one is Ruby. Gwen is the final time traveler, which means not only is this whole experience foreign to her, but she has a Big Job to do. as soon as she figures out what that is, she'll let you know.  the only thing she knows for certain is she's partnered up with a stuck-up know-it-all who just happens to be pretty dang attractive.

this book was a blend of The Princess Diaries and The Mortal Instruments series, but without the supernatural creatures. okay, there are ghosts but no werewolves or angels or anything. also, Gwen's relationship with her best friend Lesley was a great way for the reader to decompress the information and connect with Gwen as the heroine of the series.

being the first in a series, Ruby Red lays some good groundwork that i'm sure will prove relevant. there were some minor characters who were mentioned more than once who i'm sure will come up with a more important role later on. the core of this read was Gwen's discovery of being a time-traveler and sharing all that information with her bestie. we learn about the society that Gwen is now a part of, though there are still plenty of mysteries to unravel.

and i am SO in for the unraveling of the mysteries. Gwen is hilarious, easy to relate to, and so authentic. i love her realism placed within a story with supernatural elements. honestly, this didn't feel like a Fantasy Novel, and for that i'm thankful. obviously with the time-traveling and the ghost seeing, there are some supernatural elements...but Gwen's personality and voice were so refreshing and contemporary that i hesitate to typecast it as a paranormal.

if you're in the mood for a rockin' heroin on a great and mysterious journey through time with an infuriatingly charismatic partner, check this one out. you will not be disappointed!

fave quote: "'What will happen when the Circle of Blood closes?' Good heavens, I heard myself talking just like one of them. Circle of Blood. Next thing I knew, I'd start speaking in verse." (pg 177)

fix er up: i should note that this is already a best-selling series in Germany that's being translated into English. that being said, i didn't detect anything that felt awkward or clunky in the slightest. why put that in the fix er up part of my review? i don't know. but there it is. there's nothing i want to fix up, so i may as well address what i THOUGHT was going to be something worth fixing.

title: Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy 1)
author: Kerstin Gier
publisher: Henry Holt and Company (imprint of Macmillan)
genre: Contemporary, Fantasy
release date: May 10, 2011
buy the book: Amazon

[ftc notice: i received an advance review copy of Ruby Red courtesy of Macmillan publishing in exchange for an honest review. i did not receive any compensation for this review.]

Review: Firefly (the series)

Firefly is an uncontested part of the nerd canon. i assumed this was because it was set in space and therefore it was nerdy etc.

but after watching the series, i'm left wondering...what is so nerdish about it? is it just that geeks have latched on to this and therefore it's geeky? let's talk about what makes Firefly awesome and see if we can't get to the bottom of this quandary, shall we? okay!

  • okay, so it is a space western. i think a lot of the elements that make this show awesome certainly could have been re-purposed to a different setting and i CERTAINLY don't think that being in space makes it so nerdish that it would kick out mainstream viewers. the western element makes it seem historic, not necessarily futuristic. i mean, i only saw awesomely cheesy lasers like 3 times (not enough, imo).
  • the main storyline is this crew of misfits transports goods - legally or illegally - across space. kinda like Futurama. and who doesn't love Futurama? of course there are character dramas and minor story arcs etc but the core purpose of why they are where they are, are the deliveries. 
  • the costumes are mostly modern with a few western pieces thrown in now and again. nothing sci-fi heavy or super futuristic. the set is a bit industrial (i mean, it is a spaceship and all), but again...not inherently nerdy.
  • the main character is a sexy guy who says sassy and sarcastic things and is secretly a big softie. guys love him because he's totally in control and protects his crew and is their leader etc. girls love him because of his sexiness and secret soft side. again, this is not the main character i'd imagined for show with such a hard core geek following.
  • the minor storyline involves a girl named River who underwent some mysterious testing at the hands of the government. she's a nut and a half, and also has what some might say is a special power...but that's stretching it a bit to declare that this element is what makes this a nerdy show. i just don't buy it. plus, i really REALLY don't like or care about the River storyline. i have watched the entire series but NOT the movie...yet. more on that in a minute.
  • there are no aliens. there are no weird animals. only people who are still struggling against an oppressive government and small settlements on the frontier who deal with the challenges of ethical and moral dilemmas.
  • this show is witty and snarky and funny. and as if the sarcasm coming from all directions all the time isn't enough, my favorite splash of humor in the series is most assuredly Wash. he's snarky and sassy, but he's also downright silly and goofy. plus, Alan Tudyk is kind of a beast and i love him. 
so there you have it. after watching the entire Firefly series, and LOVING it, i can't figure out what makes it so nerdy. is it just that Joss Whedon has his name on it? i'm not sure why he would necessarily denote a nerdish following...but you KNOW how many geeks love Buffy.

so what do you think? what makes Firefly a nerdy show? 

in the meantime, i'll be watching Serenity, the Firefly movie that was made to wrap up the loose ends from the series. it was cancelled with some outstanding questions still looming, and rumor has it that the movie covers a lot of those. as for me personally, i hope we learn more about who the hell the Shepherd is!

add it to the list [9]

inspired by Kristi's meme In My Mailbox, at The Story Siren, here are some books i've added to my ever growing pile of books to read this week.

for your nerdish delight, Tor.com

The Killing Way by Tony Hays
Forge Publishing

The Divine Sacrifice by Tony Hays
Forge Publishing

The Beloved Dead by Tony Hays
Forge Publishing

special thanks to Tor Books and Forge Publishing for sharing these fabulous books with me!

final thoughts on A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

i did it! i finished A Game of Thrones! all 800+ pages of it!

for my thoughts on the first third of the book, check here.
for my thoughts on the second third of the book, check here.

for my final thoughts, read on my fellow nerds!

1. WAR. so much war. the groups of men fighting groups of men type of war. the scratching and clawing for the throne type of war. the internal struggle type of war. yeah, lots of war.

2. i still hate Sansa. a whole lot. she doesn't get any better. in fact, she kind of gets worse.

3. i haven't talked about Varys up to this point, but arguably my favorite scene in the last 1/3 of the book contains his presence so let me introduce you. Varys is a eunuch and is often referred to as "the spider". he's like the gossip QUEEN of court and he has eyes everywhere. so of course he has a ton of information and distributes it as he sees fit. i truly believe he's only acting in his own best interest, but that doesn't mean he's screwing people over or acting like a jerk. Varys is in it for Varys but still tends to be a pretty nice guy. SO - there's a conversation between Varys and Eddard while Eddard is being held against his will that is refreshingly honest. in a world where everybody has something to lose and more to gain, Eddard and Varys have a brief and authentic conversation that demanded my attention and re-reading several times through. it was the best.

4. i continue to love Tyrion Lannister and his overt sauciness. however, it has become increasingly apparently that his wit and cunning are coping mechanisms to feelings of self-doubt and low self-worth. all the same, Tyrion is an incredible character and i love his storyline and his banter.

5. a new love has entered my heart with Robb Stark. he's been kinda downplayed up to now, but as the oldest child of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, Robb is the heir of Winterfell. he's a teenager with a man's job to do, and he knows it. he has one leg in both worlds - the heir of Winterfell and the teenage brother to guide his siblings. his struggle with growing up too fast and trying to do what's best and remain true to his honor and his house are heart-wrenching and inspiring.

6. anything goes. i really mean that. as a fan, it makes me cringe to know that any character can die at any moment. but as a critical reader, i highly respect the ability of an author to stay true to the story and the natural development of a plot and make sacrifices. even if it BREAKS my heart again and again and again.

and to conclude, allow me to share with you some of my favorite quotes from the book.

"Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?' 'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him." (pg 16, after Bran witnesses his father, Eddard Stark, cutting off the head of a deserter)

"A nightmare this might be, yet it was no dream." (pg 565, when Jon Snow wakes up in the middle of the night and there is some seriously shady business going on)

"'Then Lord Eddard is a man in ten thousand. Most of us are not so strong. What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms...or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That's our great glory, and our great tragedy." (pg 662, when Jon Snow is talking with a mentor-type figure about some serious decisions he needs to make...and now.)

title: A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice & Fire #1)
author: George R. R. Martin
genre: Fantasy
publisher: Bantam Dell
Amazon | Goodreads

[ftc notice: i totally own a copy of this book so the review is for my own fun. okay, so it's my husband's copy but whatever we OWN it so we're good to go for the non-biased review.]

keep it real, please.

this is part of the fun meme ,TGIF, hosted by Ginger at GReads! (which is a pretty great blog, if i do say so myself). each friday she hosts a question that the literary lovers in the world can ponder. this week, the lovely Ginger asks:

Explicit material:
How do you feel about explicit language and/or sexual content in YA books?

we all know those people who swear for the sake of swearing, make dirty comments when they are totally not appropriate, and try to hit on someone when it's clearly not the right time. but then, we know those people who make us laugh, who make us feel, and who are totally and honestly authentic.  obviously, we love the authentic peeps and cringe at the forced fitting in situations.

the same goes for how i feel regarding explicit language and sexual content in YA. i think it's pretty common knowledge that people say naughty things and do sexy things. in some writing, it's blatantly obvious that the author was trying to make their character seem hard by having them swear or have meaningless sex or whatever. and it's also blatantly obvious that the character development is seriously lacking in those cases. 

if the explicit language feels forced, drop it. if it flows and truly adds to the character and their story, keep it. 

if the sexytimes are just a way for an author to show that a relationship is progressing to avoid using, you know, WORDS and CONVERSATIONS from forwarding their relationships, drop it. if sexytimes are a natural flow to the narrative and a way for the story to progress in a way that makes sense to the overall plot, keep it.

honestly, at my age there's not much that shocks or freaks me out when i'm reading a book. well, i suppose that's not entirely true...but i LOVE when i get freaked out or shocked or gasp when i'm reading. i'd much prefer that surprise come from a plot twist and not from a surprise f-bomb, however. because really, swearing and sexytimes don't really phase me as an adult reader. 

but if i put myself in the mindset of a teenager, i think the most important piece of the explicit language or sexual content within  a book is that it feels like it should be there and is done so in a way that's not overbearing or overwhelming or forced or lame. 

in short, keep it real. please. 

to see what others had to say, check out the links at GReads! 

Review: Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

in a sentence or so: Charlotte just moved with her genius little brother, her professor mom and her newly famous author father to the Pacific Northwest. now, all she has to do is prepare herself for college, make friends, and otherwise be a huge success during her senior year while being horribly socially unaware and with zero idea of what she's doing. hopeful cringing ensues.

Charlotte Locke is smart. she's clever. she's witty. she's sweet. and she's lost. after moving to a new school her senior year, and not the same one as her genius little brother James Henry, Charlotte has to start a whole new life. which, as you can imagine, just might be the most anxiety inducing process ever.  so throw in the mix that Charlotte has dyscalculia (a learning disorder that makes math darn-near impossible), and Charlotte's difficult transition is made exponentially worse.

Charlotte slowly learns the ropes of the new school from the mousy student ambassador over the first few days and quickly spots the bright pink hair of Amanda. Amanda radiates confidence, sex appeal, and just has whatever It is that Charlotte does not. the fates throw Charlotte and Amanda together and soon Charlotte is entrenched in Amanda's world. deciding she needs to do something to stand out on her college applications, Charlotte decides to go for the debate team - which has nothing to do with her public speaking skills (none) and everything to do with a hot boy named Neal.

Charlotte has no idea who she is or what she wants from life. she knows what her parents want for her life, and what her friends want from their lives, and even what the boy-next-door Milton (who's obsessed with mushrooms, btw) wants from his life. but when it comes to her own, she's struggling to find out who she is and what she wants.

this book put a pit in my stomach for just about the first 3/4. Charlotte is seriously lacking social awareness, her parents are obviously going in drastically different directions, her shaky relationship with Amanda and Neal is frightening, and her total abandonment of grades and future focus is disheartening. it's a lot to handle. and that's the point. it's all too much for Charlotte and it spirals out of control and she's in over her head and you are right there with her, hoping she can stay above the surface.

i love Charlotte so much. i wanted to hold her and hug her and be her real bestie and give her legit advice and encourage her to be who she really is...instead i had to hope for the best and cheer for her when she got it right and mourn for her when she didn't. plus, her little brother is the BEST. seriously, he reminded me a bit of Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time so you know he's incredible. his friendship with Milton and his genuine adoration for Charlotte add in just the right amount of hopefulness to keep you moving.

i was all about Charlotte from the very start to the very end, and you will be too. sometimes she makes you cringe, and sometime she makes you laugh. ultimately this was a story about self-discovery and overcoming labels and loving yourself. such a good read for anyone interested in a high school drama with depth and a focus on self acceptance.

fave quote: "Yes, it was true. I was the biggest black hole of them all. Or I had been, at least, because that's how I'd seen myself. That's how I'd seen myself before Milton came along that day in the woods.  Sometimes it takes another person to help you see yourself. Sometimes it takes a mushroom boy." (pg 300 | 304 Nook)

fix er up: i would have liked to see parts of the plot a bit more fleshed out - particularly the stuff with her parents and her coming into a relationship with Amanda. that's not to say it all didn't sound believable...i just wanted more development.

title: Girl Wonder
author: Alexa Martin
publisher: Disney Hyperion
release date: May 3, 2011
genre: Contemporary
learn more about this book at: Amazon | Goodreads

[ftc notice: i received a digital galley of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.]

tbr tuesday [5]

the following lovely ladies have inspired this new meme for me - inspired by "a peek at my TBR" by Jen atMakeshift Bookmark, "Waiting on Wednesday" by Jill at Breaking the Spine and "Books to Pine For" by Kristi at The Story Siren.

here's a look at two books i have sitting in my To Be Read pile. i don't necessarily own these books, but they are books i intend to get around to reading soon!

[all summaries are from Goodreads. links are from Amazon.com]

Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Summary: Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

This fascinating novel represents a stunning new direction for acclaimed author Mary Pearson. Set in a near future America, it takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. Mary Pearson's vividly drawn characters and masterful writing soar to a new level of sophistication.

why i want to check this out: it's like, one of the first books that started the Dystopian landslide in YA lit right now. plus, the idea of bio-medical ethics intrigues me. so there.

Author: E.M. Forster
Publisher: Signet Classics

Summary: This Edwardian social comedy explores love and prim propriety among an eccentric cast of characters assembled in an Italian pensione and in a corner of Surrey, England. 

A charming young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson-who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist-Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England, she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion. 

The enduring delight of this tale of romantic intrigue is rooted in Forster's colorful characters, including outrageous spinsters, pompous clergymen, and outspoken patriots. Written in 1908, A Room with a View is one of E. M. Forster's earliest and most celebrated works.

why i want to check this out: okay, honestly i had not heard of this until they were raving about it at Forever YA. and then i scored a sweet galley of Queens of All the Earth by Hannah Sternberg that's a retelling of this classic. so yes, this is one that is definitely on my to be read pile.

5 thoughts on the 2/3

in case you didn't see the first post, you might want to check out  my thoughts on the first third of A Game of Thrones. you can peep it here.

in short, A Game of Thrones is a massive read and i broke up the review into thirds. this portion is a bit smaller than previous because now i have hella spoilers to avoid.

so anyway, here's my five thoughts on the 2/3:

1. SO many young adult characters. truly, there are lots of young adults. while they are in a world ruled by adults, they are certainly players in the game. and they are young adults who ACT like young adults. who knew George R.R. was skilled at writing from the adolescent perspective? now you do.

2. Dothraki culture is the coolest. okay, so there are some weirdnesses with "mating" that are a bit...different...but i love how they are so much more than they appear. Dany, the daughter of the king who was killed before A Game of Thrones begins, marries the head of the Dothraki. while it's easy to view the Dothraki as savage horse lords, the author makes it clear there's more to them that meets the eye.  while they are nomadic horse people, they are also greater in numbers than most of the rest of the seven kingdoms realize and while their methods may seem archaic, there is a structure and nobility within their culture that the others should totally fear.

3. there are two mysteries i'm pretty sure i've cracked. the first is 'who killed Jon Arryn' (if you're interested in my theory, hit me up! otherwise, i'll omit it for spoilery purposes) the second is what his final message "the seed is strong" means. (edit: i was TOTALLY right about the seed is strong quote. i'm awesome.)  Jon Arryn was the hand of the king, which essentially meant he did all the king's dirty work and then he "died suspiciously" after "making a discovery". but telling you he was murdered isn't a spoiler because they make it pretty obvious with the hinting but then outright say it like 20 pages later.

4. i DETEST Sansa. yeah, i know she's 13 but whatever. she is awful. i mean, take her sister Arya. sure she's sassy and doesn't play by the rules, but she doesn't hate on others because they choose to play by the rules. she just accepts that people want different things out of life and broods about her own fate. fine - that makes sense. but Sansa, NO. she's all hatin' on Arya and hatin' on anyone who could potentially compromise her betrothal to Joffrey because, you know, she's seen him twice and is in love etc. SANSA IS THE WORST. (i am very passionate about my anti-Sansa statnce).

5. i love that there are just some downright nutty characters. not just quirky, but straight up cray-cray. it makes for some serious wild cards in the bunch.

there you have it. watch for my final thoughts on A Game of Thrones later this week!

and if you're interested, the HBO series is doing a really fabs job thus far with their adaptation of the book. just so you know.

previously: 7 thoughts on the 1/3 of Game of Thrones

[ftc notice: i totally own a copy of this book so the review is for my own fun. okay, so it's my husband's copy but whatever we OWN it so we're good to go for the non-biased review.]

add it to the list [8]

inspired by Kristi's meme In My Mailbox, at The Story Siren, here are some books i've added to my ever growing pile of books to read this week.

Morgan's Curse by Joseph Pusch
Tate Publishing
Available: April 5th, 2011

Tomorrow Girls (Behind the Gates #1) by Eva Gray
Scholastic Publishing
Available: May 1st, 2011

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Little, Brown Young Readers
Available: April 12th, 2011

The Cardmaker's Workbook by Jenn Mason
Quarry Books

[ftc notice: the titles i received from publishers were in exchange for an honest review and no compensation. the book from my library was checked out by me for fun and i loved it because i love libraries etc.]

dream come true

in which Patrick Ness answers questions about Monsters of Men and other things.

and he reads an excerpt.

and i go down in beautiful flames of fangirl glory.

if you're unaware of my total and complete adoration of the series, please peep the reviews.

forget visiting, i wanna LIVE there.

this is part of the fun meme ,TGIF, hosted by Ginger at GReads! (which is a pretty great blog, if i do say so myself). each friday she hosts a question that the literary lovers in the world can ponder. this week, the lovely Ginger asks:

Fictional Places: If you could visit any fictional setting in a book, where would you go?

again, we have ourselves a tie.

most awesome place ever #1: HOGWARTS. obviously. i am so intrigued by the moving staircases and the great hall that's an all you can eat buffet every night made by house elves, visiting Hagrid's hut, the owlry, Dumbledore's office, the astronomy tower...oh man. how cool would that be? seriously. the good news is, Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a reality now. the bad news is, the hubs and i would need some serious cash money to get there. one day!

most awesome place ever #2: NARNIA. obviously. but only after the white queen is gone and the Pevensies are ruling the land. okay so mostly i'd want to hang out in the royal court and become besties with Edmund.

i'm all about the fantasy adventure lands, it would seem.

if you want to share your ideal fictional vacation, head on over to GReads! and link it up!

geekish girl underground

my week was MADE when i discovered a whole plethora of geeky girl blogs out there.

and the initial discovery that unleashed this incredible and fantastic avalanche of awesome?

this post from Girl Gone Geek's blog.

my personal fave (for obvious reasons):

Review: Clarity by Kim Harrington

in a sentence or so: Clare's ability to channel experiences through touching objects hasn't always been the most socially acceptable talent. but when the local police and new detective need her abilities to find out who killed a tourist in their quiet seaside town, she's all over it.

Clare, short for Clarity, isn't your typical sixteen year old. she can see experiences that others have had by touching objects they've touched. so if you gave her your cell phone, she might be able to recall the last conversation. or if you let her touch your purse, she might be able to tell you where and when you bought it. or, if you cheated on her and you're wearing the same jacket, she might be able to tell you that too.

of course, this ability also makes Clare a social outcast at school. getting called a freak day in and day out is something she's kinda used to. i mean, she does have a business with her mom and brother providing psychic insight to tourists all summer long and they do live in a house that screams "spiritual readings". but in all reality, Clare is a pretty cool girl. she's been labeled as an outcast, so an outcast she remains. until a tourist winds up dead in a hotel room and the police have absolutely no leads. at all. they are so desperate, in fact, that the mayor's son (enter ex-boyfriend) Justin and the new detective's son (enter dark and sexy outsider) Gabriel, are asking for her assistance. and Clare, being the decent and genuinely awesome girl she is, knows she has to help.

this was totally reminiscent of Veronica Mars, and i dug it. i tried to watch the show a few months back and just couldn't get into it. methinks it was a case of right show, wrong time. but i digress. we've got a teenage girl who's a detective outcast trying to solve a mystery because that's how she rolls. she's torn between her feelings of strong attraction to the new boy in town, Gabriel, and harboring some familiar feelings for Justin, the ex-boyfriend.

i was initially worried this would be super paranormal feeling, but it wasn't. sure, she has a gift for seeing things that others can't and that complicates her life. but she knows this, and we don't have to learn this from her - which is great. but more so, the story is about the murder mystery. and i LOVE a good mystery.  Clary starts to realize that those closest to her were involved with the victim, and discovering the truth might be one of the hardest things she's ever done. you know, if she can keep her head on straight from the two swoon worthy boys working the case with her...

i loved that the mom's gift was reading minds. can you imagine anything worse than your mom reading your 16 year old mind? okay maybe her reading the 16 year old mind of your boyfriend is worse...but Clare's mom is a splash of humor and genuine love that helped balance this read. the tone was comfortable and i fell into step with Clary immediately. her voice was intelligent, sweet, smart, and sincere. the plot was sure to include bursts of intensity now and again to keep things exciting. success.

i'll definitely be checking out the future books in this series. a well written, light-but-not-fluff, funny mystery series with a girl as awesome as Clare in the lead is exactly the kind of book i crave from time to time.

fave quote: "The investigation wasn't getting anywhere. And mostly, I wanted to forget the way I felt when I'd seen Justin at the banquet. I wished I could say a magic word and make all my feelings for him disappear. Maybe I'd get a lobotomy. For now, I'd eat." (153)

fix er up: the cover. oh my goodness the cover. granted, i have the advanced review copy cover, but it's pretty much the same as the actual cover on the book. yeah, Clare is a redhead...but she has curly hair so it's not accurate. and also, it just looks...meh. i'm diggin the color scheme though, so there's that.

title: Clarity
author: Kim Harrington
genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Contemporary
publisher: Point (Scholastic)
buy the book: Amazon | Borders | Barnes & Noble

[ftc notice: i received a copy of this book for review from the Amazon Vine program. i did not provide the review for compensation of any kind. nor do i ever!]

popcorn and Pi

The Life of Pi is going to the big screen. i am wary, although Ang Lee's attachment to the project puts me a bit more at ease...

"Tobey Maguire has been cast in Ang Lee's adaptation Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi, which is shooting in India. Deadline.com reported that Maguire will play a writer interviewing the boy--who was stranded on a life raft with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a tiger--as an adult."  (from Shelf Awareness Newsletter)

in related news, i need to re-read that sometime soon. because, you know, i don't have enough books to read at the moment. 

tbr tuesday [4]

the following lovely ladies have inspired this new meme for me - inspired by "a peek at my TBR" by Jen at Makeshift Bookmark, "Waiting on Wednesday" by Jill at Breaking the Spine and "Books to Pine For" by Kristi at The Story Siren.

here's a look at two books i have sitting in my To Be Read pile. i don't necessarily own these books, but they are books i intend to get around to reading soon!

[all links and summaries are from Goodreads.com]

Mad Love
author: Suzanne Selfors
publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

why i want to check this out: it's a blend of historical mythology with modern day drama. how awesome does that sound? also, i'm interested in seeing the exploration of a mother/daughter relationship in YA.

author: Kathi Appelt
publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road. 

A calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained-up hound deep in the backwaters of the bayou. She dares to find him in the forest, and the hound dares to befriend this cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate. They are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise her kittens there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them. But they are safe in the Underneath...as long as they stay in the Underneath.
Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten's one moment of curiosity sets off a chain of events that is astonishing, remarkable, and enormous in its meaning. For everyone who loves Sounder, Shiloh, and The Yearling, for everyone who loves the haunting beauty of writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Flannery O'Connor, and Carson McCullers, Kathi Appelt spins a harrowing yet keenly sweet tale about the power of love — and its opposite, hate — the fragility of happiness and the importance of making good on your promises.

why i want to check this out: it's totally got a Milo and Otis thing going for it, and i've been jonesing for some middle grade reads lately.