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The Pitch:  Immediately following the events of Conspiracy of Us, Avery and gang are trying to decipher clues that haven’t been solved in centuries.  Obviously – smoldering angst, murder and mayhem hound them on their quest.

The Pros:  So much Stellan.  Mmmmmmm.  I guess Jack too.  Elodie, Luc and Colette rounding out the gang.  See # below and link to MNAR.

The Cons:  Ahhh….it ended?  There might be faults – but I can’t see them I’m so deep in fandom land.

The Soapbox:  All my fangirling aside I’d like to point out something incredibly awesome that happened when I started listening to this book – I emailed the author and she EMAILED.  ME.  BACK.  Maggie Hall has been nothing but gracious and appreciative of my frantic and feverish attempts to pry more information out of her.  She is all things awesome and amazing.  I highly suggest you get on the Fandom newsletter so you can see all the “cut scenes” from the two books as well as her uplifting advice.

I have just been floored by her hospitality and also baffled why this book hasn’t caught on.  It’s basically ripe with fandom…it has all the pieces there.  So this is my plea to everyone out there – come to me.  Talk to me.  Let’s exchange notes!  Let’s argue about who Avery should be with!  I am dying to talk to people that aren’t my friends and co-workers about this.  That is the fun of fandom!  I’ve written a novel…literally…on what I think could go down in Ends of the World.  Let me read your stuff!  Let’s start this now!  There is only one book left…come out of hiding and unite.

The Breakdown:  Much like any book Rick Riordan writes – I have nothing bad to say about this novel either.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say it takes up 75% of my thoughts all day.

Rating: All the stars…like infinity.

Reasoning: #fangirl #stellan #cannes #greece #IWroteNovelLengthFanfictionAboutTheseCharacters

Recommended For: YA fans, Escapist Fiction, Teenage Readers

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The Pitch:  Avery West’s decision to defy her mother and go to her junior prom starts a chain reaction of destiny, death and destruction.  Faster than she can manage, she’s in too deep and no one escapes the Circle.

The Pros:  So much fun!  Very quick read.  Smoking hot male leads.  Escapist adventure at its best.

The Cons: First third was hard for me to get through.  I could see how some people would hold that grudge through the rest of the book.

The Soapbox:  I drive a lot.  Some people say too much.  So I have switched to Audible to get most of my reading done these days.  Audible kept telling me I would like this book and I kept telling Audible – no thanks!  But one long summer day, when I had an extra long drive home to look forward to, I decided to take the plunge.  I’d gone through so many heavy books and non-fiction duds I needed something fun.

I’m going to be completely honest with you, I kept nodding and rolling my eyes for the first third of this novel.  Of course the hot new boy likes the main girl!  Of course the new girl has to keep to herself because she moves a lot and it makes her special!  Of course the other hot dude that appears is looking for her!

BUT.  Then things made a turn in the epic direction and I was hooked.  Just sucked in.  Obsessed.  Consumed.  She got me.  Maggie Hall got me, and now I can’t stop thinking about this series.  As soon as I knew I only had a chapter left to listen to I immediately downloaded the next book.

It’s that good.  #fangirling

I could write pages about this series – but I’ll let my feverish text messages between myself and my best friend (I cohersed into reading it) speak for me.

The Breakdown:  As long as you come into this book knowing that first third might make you roll your eyes a lot you’re gonna like it.  You’re going to like it a lot…

Rating: Four Stars

Reasoning: Lots of stereotypical YA stuff happening in the first third, but the second and third more than make up for it.

Recommended For: YA Fans, Teenage Readers, Escapist Fiction, YA that ISN’T Post-Apocalyptic! 

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mortal_instruments_city_of_bones_movie_poster_1As The Mortal Instrument series has progressed I have become more and more angry with the books.  As you can see in two of my reviews on this website.  I have even blogged about my gut reaction of “they casted WHO???!!!”  But I was still holding out hope that perhaps – just perhaps- I would be pleasantly surprised when the first trailer rolled around.  My friend informed me of the joyful news this morning and as I finished watching the final few seconds all ideas of a fantastic movie accompanying an awesome book series were shattered.

Maybe I’m being too harsh, maybe I’m being a bitter fangirl full of wrath.  It happens, I know we all have at least one friend that is so obsessed with something you tip-toe around the subject so not to poke their ire.  And I will admit that I tend to get a little hot headed about all things young adult; but I have a blog about it so it’s kind of my hobby and business to know.  I know that I’m spoiled from Harry Potter.  It’s not everyday that you get a 90% satisfaction feeling from a movie franchise that was based on the books (I still can’t watch Deathly Hallows Part 2 all the way because I don’t want it to be over!)  But surely we have seen, as a society and as directors and producers, what good casting and script writing can give you!  Holy hell even good casting and mediocre screen writing can get you *coughTwilightcough*.  WHY oh WHY do we keep getting these awful attempts at awesome books?

mortal-instruments-city-of-bones-lily-collinsAll the pieces are there: up and coming lead actress, recognizable and rising lead actor, director coming off a success, screenwriter that has a history of success, even the supporting cast looks incredibly promising.  Yet here we are with the first trailer and I am still completely underwhelmed.  Maybe it was bad editing of the trailer, there was a lot of ‘flashes’.  But what I really think is happening is this – Hollywood wants it cash.  The Mortal Instruments series has been a great success on paper so naturally any producer in Hollywood looks at it and thinks TWILIGHT.  Can we all stop comparing everything to Twilight now.  That ship has sailed, the cash cow is over, the teen book/movie bubble has popped.  The only way you are going to ensure that you have success with a book to movie adaptation is if you at least attempt to stay true to the novels.

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From panarmenian.net

I think my problem is I just don’t believe in the casting.  For all I know this is a page by page adaptation that was meticulously overseen by Claire herself.  It could possibly be the best adaptation ever and I’m just stabbing it in heart before it can make it out of the coffin.  But this is the main reason why I think it’s going to sizzle and then snuff out quickly in the box office – Jace.  You don’t read The Mortal Instruments series for Clary…you don’t.  While her casting is spot on and I am actually interested to see what Lily Collins will bring to the table that’s not the reason you slog through 600 pages every book.  You do it for Jace Wayland.  If I can’t look at the actor playing Jace and believe that he is Jace then you have no movie.  It might be personal preference but a guy that is known for being the snooty Volturi and jumping out a window in a Harry Potter movie just isn’t going to cut it for me.

There…fangirl wrath extinguished.  Here’s hoping I can find a babysitter to catch the matinée before it limps out of theaters.

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http://www.paleycenter.org/Do you remember…maybe it wasn’t that long ago for you…when you became absolutely obsessed with a television show?  I can remember what the first one was for me – Dawson’s Creek.  I was a teenager; the WB (now the CW) was in full swing and at its prime.  There was a fantastic lineup of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson’s Creek, and some other rotating show.  But you tuned in for Buffy and Dawson – no matter what.  This was long before the days of TiVo and Hulu, and my mom sure didn’t let me tape them, so if you missed the show you were S.O.L.  I look back fondly on those days.  I look back with such rose-colored glasses that I’m actually afraid to watch these shows again.  It would be heartbreaking if they turned out to be awful.  And the Buffy hate mail begins…

Regardless, I was very surprised to find myself, many years later, actually watching a show with commercials feeling a frenzied sort of appreciation that I had not felt since my angsty, angsty teenage years.  That show is The Vampire Diaries.  If you’ve looked at my blog, or read it, you know that I do a lot of YA reading – so no I have not read the series this television show is based on.  I have no intention of reading the series because I’ve heard it isn’t very good, and that the show has gone in a 180 direction from the books.  I’m totally okay with that, and have no inclination to see just how different they are.

So when my good friend, the same one that introduced me to Paramore, told me that our favorite show on television was going to be at PaleyFest this year I could barely contain my squeal.  PaleyFest is a wonderful festival that happens in Beverly Hills every year that showcases popular shows on a series of panels.  You buy the ticket, you get a great seat, you get to see some clips, someone interviews the cast and crew of the show, the crowd gets to question the cast and crew, and then there is a bum rush to the stage to have the cast and crew sign anything in your hands.

PaleyFest 2012

It was well worth the ticket price for this year’s Vampire Diaries panel.  Almost the entire core cast was there on stage, the creator of the series was also there, and the moderator held nothing back.  The moderator attempted to pry any kind of information out of the cast about the rest of the season but it seems as though everyone has taken a blood oath of secrecy.  That – or they are really afraid of losing their jobs.  I don’t see why they would be, the show is doing great, the fanbase is solid, and it’s one of the best shows on the CW.

Those of us there were privileged to see an entire unaired episode!!  It was all things awesome and amazing and I can’t wait to see it again.  I was also sworn to secrecy not to divulge any details so I’m not going to spill.  If there is anything that bugs me more it’s spoilers.  So let’s just say that it was fantastic and the plot twist at the end both came out of nowhere and made perfect sense – in true Vampire Diaries fashion.

The cast was hilarious.  There were so many sex jokes flying around it was really hard to keep up.  The amount of inside jokes they were referencing was both highly entertaining and thoroughly confusing.  While not much was learned about the rest of the season it was entertaining the entire time they were up there.  And of course Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev were very comfortable with each other.  At one point Ian took his jacket off to give to Nina without much conversation passing between them.  So I think this is pretty much a confirmed thing, at least in my opinion.

It was a fantastic time and once the panel discussion and audience questions were over there was this mad dash to the stage.  Since my wonderful friend had done PaleyFest before she was able to strategize perfectly and we were right up next to the stage.  I was able to get Ian and Matthew Davis’ signatures (although Matthew Davis apparently was using his fanfiction name…), as you can see below.  But then I pretty much stopped trying.  I honestly thought I was going to be trampled or crushed to death at the sheer amount of people pushing to get their magazines and flyers to the front.  It was chaotic, it was madness, it was frightening, and yet exhilarating all at the same time.  Would I ever do it again – HELL NO.  But it was an interesting experience to have.

I honestly can not tell you how fascinating it was to watch the teenage girls around me absolutely near tears as they screamed out the character names and actual names of the actors signing things on the stage.  It was as if they thought their cries could be heard, and that a signature from one of the actors would complete the meaning of their existence.  I mean I’m talking gut wrenching screams here – and tears…real tears.  I was completely flabbergasted.  Didn’t they know the actors couldn’t hear them?  Didn’t they know a signature wasn’t going to change their lives?  Didn’t they realize the actors had spouses, significant others?  Didn’t they realize wearing the sluttiest dress they owned and six-inch heels wouldn’t warrant some kind of special attention from the actors?  Like I said – a real psychological study of the teenage mind was happening around me.

But once the crowd finally let up, the actors left, and my friend and I were examining the signatures with grins plastered to our faces I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I was being too hard on these girls.  Would I have acted the same way – almost a decade ago – if Joshua Jackson’s junk was eye level with me?  Probably.  To tell you the truth I probably still would today.

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I finished this book a while back.  October 5th to be exact, but my life has been so absolutely crazy with my teaching credential that I decided to throw all caution to the wind and write this with half a brain.  Forgive me if it’s rambling and odd.  But I have such love for this author that I couldn’t NOT write a review!

Let’s get this party started with the man that is number one on my fictional badass list: Percy Jackson.  You read that right – Percy has effectively bumped Harry out of the number one spot (this month), and it is all because of this book.

Because I want everyone to read this book, this series, and the series before it, I am not going to throw out any spoilers – which will be hard – but instead tease you until you feel as though you HAVE to read this book.


This books starts out with a boy named Percy being chased by some monsters.  You might remember Percy from books such as these:

Or you might remember Percy from the end of this book:

But you should never equate this:

For real – just don’t do it.

Poor Percy has been fighting these awful monsters for days now and neither of them seem to be able to die.  Percy doesn’t know why because Percy doesn’t remember anything.  He knows he’s special, he knows he can fight demons, but he doesn’t remember much else except a name: Annabeth.

He remembers that she is important; that she is special only to him, and that he must get back to her.  If you aren’t already swooning at the epic love story building here then maybe you should just slink back into your frozen cave you loveless monster.

Once Percy arrives in…temporary… safety the real adventure of this novel begins.  A prophecy needs fulfilling, a team of demigods receive their quest, and this time it’s a crazy, winding journey to the great white north – where the protective power of the gods can not extend.  This is where pure demigod awesome comes into play, and this is why the new peeps we meet this novel: Hazel and Frank are lucky that Percy is around.  Wild and dangerous is his kind of time.

This novel is full of all your old friends from Camp Half-Blood, a particular demigod from the Underworld, all your new friends from Camp Jupiter, and very little involvement of the gods – except for Hera…and no one likes that bitch.  There was so much action in this novel that I seriously almost read it for 24 hours straight.  I could not put it down because every page was important to plot development.  There is a fantastic weaving of a lot of the old myths that you remember reading such as Phineas, harpies, Amazons, and bad Cyclopes armies.  I could really dive into it more but just know that the usual tongue in cheek humor of Riordan is still out in full force – Amazons running Amazon…amazing!

The same three narrator approach is still being used to its full advantage in this novel and the other characters are so involved when not narrating that you never feel like they are lost within the story.  The climax of the novel is absolutely breathtaking in both the fight sequence as well as the self-sacrifice that happens within each of the characters and if the end of the novel is leading right into the next then I am going to spontaneously combust from happiness due to the epic kiss that will take place.

My book even came with a nifty little brochure explaining to me the wonders of Camp Jupiter…still not sure if it beats Camp Half-Blood.

I’ve tried really hard not to spoil anything here but my hope is that you are intrigued enough to read this series.  You have no excuse if you are a fan of the Percy Jackson series.  These books are engaging, entertaining, enlightening, and…enduring…yes – they will stand the test of time because who doesn’t like a great story with an amazing hero?

Final Score: FIVE FANTASTIC STARS!

Reasoning: Mixing the old with the new, the Roman with the Greek, the whoop-ass with the bad-ass, and everything in between = epic awesome.  If you haven’t read any of these series yet you are missing out on so much my heart hurts for you a little.

Recommended for:  YA fans, Percy Jackson fans, Greek fans, Roman fans, mythology fans, fantasy fans, adventure fans, girls and boys alike, students that are struggling with reading, teenage sons, teachers, educators, parents…have I covered everyone yet??  Because it’s everyone.  This book is recommended for everyone.

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I know I have been MIA for a while.  My teaching credential started and that has basically sent me into a barely contained constant state of panic.  Between Financial Aid, figuring out all my classes, starting online classes for the first time, willing my books to get here faster, and generally just trying to stay afloat I am exhausted.  Plus, I had to stop reading for my Goodreads book challenge (although I’m already two books ahead so I figured I could pause that), and I have been completely blocked up by my current idea for a writing project…I just haven’t been very productive.  Call it the Post-Deathly Hallows blues if you will…

Until I ran across THIS abomination!

Excuse me?!  That scrawny, baby-faced, pretty boy is supposed to play Jace “I’m cooler than ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World'” Wayland?!

Fan art never ceases to surprise me...

Look, I’m not saying this guy is bad actor – he’s landed both Twilight and Harry Potter.  He’s doing something right.  I’m not attacking him as an actor, I’m attacking the casting director for City of Bones!  WTF were you thinking?  Are you going to “go Lautner” on him and just pump the kid full of steroids for filming?  Because there is no way this guy could ever bulk up naturally enough to remind me of Jace.

Now – there was a very lovely, glowing review from Lily Colins about his screen test with her.  She seems convinced that he WAS Jace and therefore deserved the role.  But I think we all remember that Robert Pattinson had the kind of intensity needed for Edward but that didn’t really translate to screen very well…did it?  Constipation face?  Thank you…

I’m not even all that convinced that Lily Colins is the correct casting for this role.  Sure the girl can dye her hair and put some contacts in, and she’s willowy enough for it:

But she has always struck me as a very strong female lead.  The kind of girl that doesn’t get pushed around, the kind of girl that doesn’t LET the boys make her stay behind.  And I think we all know Clary’s biggest flaw is that she is annoyingly girly from time to time.  Clary has her moments…but Hermione Granger she is NOT.  I just don’t see Lily being able to tone that down, it’s too big a part of her personality.  Perhaps they are re-writing Clary to be a little bit more bad ass, that could be good.  But it would be the worst tragedy of movie adaptation if Clary ended up being manlier than Jace.

I’m really hoping for the best here.  I think they could have something really amazing if they did this movie right.  But if I learned anything from the Goblet of Fire and Percy Jackson adaptations I am going to be woefully disappointed.

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My sister-in-law posted an article on her Facebook the other day that at first glance I thought to myself, ‘you know this author is right’, and then once I finished reading it I was filled with such a deep annoyance that I felt compelled to write a blog about it.  I would like to state right up front that my belief on Feminism is the purest form of it: Feminism is the right to CHOICE, and that choice extends out to every decision of a woman’s life.  So buckle up and get ready for this blog post and to my sister-in-law…this one is for you!

There are two Hermione Granger’s.  There is Hermione in the books and then there is Emma Watson playing a re-written Hermione in the movies.  I feel like this is obvious to state but they are two totally different Hermione’s and if it took you getting to Deathly Hallows: Part Two to figure that out then I fear for your sanity and the safety of others around you.  You might be a danger to society because of the unbelievable suspension of disbelief you have going on in your skull.

Did everyone notice that Ron wasn’t the same?  Didn’t anyone notice that HARRY isn’t the same?  Why would Hermione be any different?  I’m not even going to touch the train wreck that was Half Blood Prince in depth because it will just anger me beyond control but that is a shining example of how VERY different everyone is in the movies.  Honestly, if anyone should be angry it should be fans of Ron because Hermione was given tons of his lines, his moments, and his parts throughout the movies to make her seem smarter and braver!

So Hermione has this moment of weakness in the Chamber in DH:2 and tells Ron that she “can’t” kill the Horcrux and all the sudden we need to ditch her completely?  WE DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CHAMBER.  If you had read the books you might have remembered that.  For all we know she DID tell Ron that in the Chamber because if you remember correctly she’d just been tortured to the point of passing out, was then forced to transform into her torturer, break into a vault and almost be buried alive by fake coins and trophies (which didn’t scald her skin…), fly on the back of a dragon to escape (she hates flying), only to be thrust into an epic battle on the grounds of the one place that she felt wanted – Hogwarts.  PLUS – the Horcruxes tried to kill Harry, twice now, and Ron’s Horcrux made everyone nearly barf in the theater for what came out of it…so I honestly don’t mind that much that she had a moment of hesitation about killing something so evil that it tried to kill her at every moment of her life over the past year.

A woman being able to have a moment of hesitation is still girl power.  She still did all those amazing things.  She still did keep the boys alive.  She still saved Harry’s and Ron’s life over and over again.  She still bosses Ron and Harry around.  She is still a role model.  Having her tell Ron, the man that she loves, that she thinks she can’t do it makes her HUMAN.  I didn’t know that we were trying to make superhero’s here.  The whole allure of the trio is that they are teenagers thrust into making and living through adult decisions.  And Harry had to tell Ron to kill his Horcrux so why did Ron get off so easy?  Having Hermione have a moment of hesitation and need Ron to help her makes her strong because she was willing to show her vulnerable side to someone she loves and ask for support.  Anyone who thinks differently is living a very rigid and intense life if you ask me.  Oh – and BTW she still killed it by herself so what’s the big deal?

*As a side bar (if you did read the article) how could ANY of the above bad ass moments of Hermione’s existence be diluted by her wearing skinny jeans and perfume?  Really?  You’re going to go caddy on this one and not allow the girl her right to wardrobe and perfume?  Maybe she packed the perfume because she figured they wouldn’t be able to take showers that often and she didn’t want to stink.  Maybe those jeans were the only ones she owned.  Why does what she wear have anything to do with her actions?!  And it’s not even like she was walking around in a mini skirt with her tits hanging out.  She was covered neck to boots for the majority of the movies.  Stupid point article author.  Alright back to my ranting.

Hermione Granger in the books is not the same Hermione Granger in the movies and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The Hermione in the movies is a little more ballsy and not so bossy, she’s a little more compassionate and not so by the book, and I honestly think that Emma Watson did an excellent job in the last couple of movies of embracing who Hermione is in the books and adding her own little spin on it.  I still believed it was Hermione; I still liked her choices, but was it perfect – no?  But why should that matter?  And why is everyone so up in arms about it?

I am starting to get incredibly irritated by people that keep posting articles and blogs, snide little comments on their Facebook’s, and talking loudly about how different the Hermione’s are with friends at Starbucks.  I have only this to say to these people: if you think, even for a moment, that the books and the movies are even remotely the same you are an incredible idiot.

The books and the movies are two entirely, completely, dramatically, and unwaveringly DIFFERENT things.  I am SICK of people making parallels between the books and the movies and trying to make it seem like they are constructing a valid point. The movies stopped being anything like the books by Chamber of Secrets!  And if you could not pick up on that fact then you are either ignorantly blind or have never read the books.

I understand that you want them to be the same; I even understand that you feel entitled to them being the same but they aren’t.  I had to get over that really fast myself or I was never going to enjoy the movies.  The cast of characters in the movies reacts differently, act differently and sometimes do a completely different thing then they would have in the books and that is FINE.  You want to know why it is fine?  Because JKR thinks its fine and if she (the creator of this entire universe) thinks it is fine then who am I to judge?

I get that people think this was a horribly missed opportunity for girl power (even though I still think they accomplished that), I get that everyone thinks Hollywood is evil and refuses to have a strong, independent, and fierce female lead, I get that brave and smart role models are needed in the media for girls and teens and women alike, but if they needed Hermione to be a role model then they should have been reading the books. PERIOD.

When did it become Hollywood’s obligation to create female role models in television and movies?  I have always had the distinct feeling that they are not in the business of creating role models – they are in the business of making money and sex sells people.  It sold when they first invented film and it sells now.  And this is going to sound harsh but if you are relying on television and movies to create positive role models for your children you are being a lazy parent.  You just have to watch ten minutes of TV to figure out that it will never be a medium where something constructive is going to happen in that department.  Alright – maybe the woman on Mythbusters…she’s a good example of being smart but even SHE is sexualized on that show.

Literature and real life role models are always the best because they are controlled and created for that purpose alone.  Real life role models live their lives by their own rules.  Literature role models are created with the author’s rules.  Television and movies can’t have role models because they are created by a committee of men who need to break even (at least these days).  It will never be something you can sit your daughter in front of and know in your heart that she will have a lasting and important role model to follow.  And honestly if you can find one that hasn’t been sexualized, marginalized, or dumbed down I would LOVE for you to give me examples.  I’ve given up on TV and movies being anything but entertainment for me and I think anyone that thinks differently is lying to themselves.  Including the author of that article that got me so riled up in the first place.

I still feel that there was an accurate portrayal of Hermione in the movies – the smart, brave, loyal, loving, and bossy Hermione that I grew to love.  But if that isn’t good enough for you and you want to find Hermione – the true, amazing, fantastically flawed Hermione – you only need to look as far as Prisoner of Azkaban.  She’s there, and if you could take the time to read and not think the movies were a better alternative you’d find her quite easily.

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