Monday, May 31, 2010

Music Mondays - (5/31/10)

Today is Memorial Day and I would like to first honor all the men and women who have given their lives to defend our country. Without them, we would never have the lives we do. All those who have served, are serving, or plan on serving, are true heroes. Thank you.


Music Mondays spotlights a band/artist that I particularly enjoy. I'm not sure who started it, but I know that Reverie Book Reviews does the same thing.

This week I'd like to go with a more acoustic vibe by featuring City and Colour. It's really the one-man-band of Dallas Green. If you've never heard his music, you have been missing out. He is one of the most unrecognized, talents around (he's also the guitarist for alexisonfire). His vocals never cease to amaze me. Here's one of my favorite songs, 'Comin' Home.'

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In My Mailbox - (5/30/10)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.

No books this week, but I did win some awesome swag

Won: The High School Flashback Tour swag
The Body Finder bookmarks(signed), stickers, and bag from Kimberly Derting
The Mark notepad, glowing pen, and bookmarks (signed) from Jen Nadol
The Cinderella Society glass slipper bookmark from Kay Cassidy




Saturday, May 29, 2010

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Ashes (Mortal Instruments #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: McElderry Books
Hardcover, 453 pages
Date Published: March 25, 2008

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.
Clary Fray was thrust headfirst into the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders. Now that she has evaded the clutches of her evil father Valentine, Clary hopes for a semi-normal life. It’s too bad that semi-normal is hard to come by when her mother is still in a magically-induced coma, her crush-turned-newfound brother, Jace, is a Shadowhunter nearing a breaking point, and Luke, the only father she has ever known, is a full-fledged werewolf. Clary’s life is anything but normal and now that Valentine is out in the open and ready to acquire the last two Mortal Instruments, she must prepare for the life that she never knew she belonged to. With nice, normal, possibly boyfriend Simon in tow, Clary must face off again in this action packed sequel.

City of Ashes picks up right where City of Bones left off and it never lets up. There seemed to be absolutely no dull spots and I had trouble putting the book down. There were a few nights where I fell asleep with the book in my lap. It wasn’t from boredom or a slow pace either; I needed the sleep. Staying up until 4AM reading will do that to you.

There are so many new characters in this installment, most prominent being Mrs. Lightwood, Alec and Isabelle’s mother. Maryse Lightwood has been the only mother that Jace has ever known, but the revelation that he is Valentine’s son leads to mistrust and Mayrse orders Jace out of her home. This hurts Jace more than he would like to admit and even though he continues to remain snarky and somewhat rude, he is hurting.
“I don’t want to be a man,” said Jace. “I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can’t confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.” ~ pg. 45
All of this leads up to quite an emotional story. On the surface, City of Ashes is about stopping the evil Valentine from bringing on a war with the Shadowhunters. Deep down though, it is an emotional journey for Jace, for Clary, for Alec even. Each character goes through some sort of emotional turmoil. Jace is plagued with his feelings of isolation, while Alec has to deal with his feelings for Magnus. Clary is faced with the possibility that her mother won’t wake up and has to battle her feeling for Jace, while trying to reconcile her feelings for Simon. 
“When you love someone, you don’t have a choice…Love takes your choices away.” ~ pg. 211 
Jace and Clary also have to come to terms with their feelings for one another and how the discovery that they are siblings must put an end to all of it. City of Ashes isn’t your typical epic adventure, it is so much more than that.

Magnus, Alec, and Isabelle all get their fair share of dialogue this time around. Simon also plays a more prominent role. I have to say that my love for Simon has only grown with City of Ashes. I may even adore him more than Jace, though Jace still has that charm that is undeniably attractive. The introduction of more werewolves and faeries was a wonderful addition here.

Once again, Cassandra Clare has weaved a magical, mythical world right inside our very own New York City. The plot was solid with many twists and turns that made it even more exciting. I never knew just what to expect. The suspense is ratcheted up a notch and builds and builds until it culminates in this momentous realization that has both Clary and Jace discovering some abilities that they never knew they had. We also get some confusing and dubious information that leads me to question Jaces’s true lineage and a true transformation for one character. City of Ashes has so much to offer and I enjoyed even more than the first in the series. City of Glass is next in line and I cannot wait to read it.


Opening line: The formidable glass-and-steel structure rose from its position on Front Street like a glittering needle threading the sky. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines: Maybe it was true what the Seelie Queen had said, after all: Love made you a liar. ~ pg. 247

You know what the worst thing I can imagine is? Simon had said. Not trusting someone I love. ~ pg. 289
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher: Little, Brown
Hardcover, 324 pages 
Date Published: June 7, 2010

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for.


Twenty-five-year-old Jackson Pearce delivers a dark, taut fairy tale with heart-pounding action, fierce sisterly love, and a romance that will leave readers breathless. 

Scarlett and Rosie March are two girls, two sisters, with one heart. They are each others world. They have been since their grandmother was slaughtered by a Fenris and Scarlett threw herself in its path to protect Rosie. Seven years later, they are still each others world, but Scarlett is damaged now. She devotes all her time and all her energy to hunting and killing the Fenris. Rosie can’t seem to muster the same devotion to the hunt, but she is mustering something for Scarlett’s best friend Silas. When the three leave their small town to hunt the Fenris in Atlanta, things begin to change for all of them. Their lives could forever by altered by what happens in Atlanta, in a month, under the moon.

Sisters Red looks like it has a lot to offer and it does not disappoint. The story starts off with a bang and an attack and doesn’t slow down too much. The chapters alternate POV’s between Scarlett, the determined, scarred, older sister and Rosie, the sweet, almost bubbly younger sister. Both girls are polar opposites of one another. Where Scarlett is all hard lines and grimaces, Rosie is softer and I could almost feel the life coming off of her. While completely different people, the girls are connected in a way that I can’t even describe. I suppose many sisters have a deep, seemingly unbreakable bond, but I don’t have a sister so I have nothing to compare this to. Pearce describes it as the girls being separate beings with one heart.
We have the same heart. Where I go, she goes, and where she goes, I go. ~ pg. 138
When they are together, hunting, they feel like one person because they are so entwined with one another. When Silas, the hunky woodsman, begins to take a shine to Rosie, that one heart begins to split.

The fight scenes in Sisters Red are action-packed and thrilling. Pearce makes the Fenris life-like and terrifying. Each fight scene had me on the edge of my seat, biting my nails. This is definitely not the Little Red Riding Hood from my childhood. This is fast-paced, dark and twisted. The wolves aren’t just going to eat you grandma, they’re going to rip you to shreds too. Scarlett, Rosie, and Silas go to Atlanta to make a difference killing the Fenris. Once they’re there, things begin to change and tension escalates. Silas and Rosie don’t want their entire lives to be wrapped around hunting, as Scarlett does. They begin to grow closer and in doing so, Rosie and Scarlett grow apart.

Scarlett has made it her life’s mission to protect others from the fate that she suffered at the teeth and claws of the wolves. I feel bad, and almost pity, Scarlett. At times, I found it difficult to even like her because of how angry and hurtful she can be. I can understand her feelings though. After the attack that left her with one eye, she has no desires but to hunt. Her entire life has become the hunt and that is truly a sad thing. Rosie still has the desire to live her life and to explore. She wants more than the hunt and wishes that Scarlett did as well. Their bond is the heart of Sisters Red. Their fight against the Fenris drives them to become individuals and to discover exactly who they are. The twist in the story is a bit predictable, but I still like the way Pearce went about it. Rosie and Scarlett grow stronger, in their own ways, and while it may be bittersweet, they grow up.

When I initially picked this book up, I expected it to take place in the early 1900’s or something. Instead, I was surprised by a present-day story with a creepy fairy tale twist. It’s exciting, scary, emotional, and heartwarming/heartbreaking in a way. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I was pleased with the outcome.

Opening line (From prologue): Stranger never walk down this road, the sisters thought in unison as the man trudged toward them. ~ pg. 1
(From chapter 1): He’s following me. ~ pg. 9

Favorite lines: When we were little, Scarlett and I were utterly convinced that we’d originally been one person in our mother’s belly. We believed that somehow, half of us wanted to be born and half wanted to stay. So our heart had to be broken in two so that Scarlett could be born first, and then I finally braved the outside world a few years later. ~ pg. 46
 *This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In My Mailbox - (5/23/10)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.

I got a couple of great books this past week. Now I just need to get through my HUGE TBR pile that just keeps growing.
Bought:
The Daykeeper's Grimoire (Prophecy of Days, #1) by Christy Raedeke
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Even though I have an extremely large TBR pile, I think that Sisters Red will be my next read, so be on the lookout for a review of it very soon.




Saturday, May 22, 2010

Not Going to BEA?


WillowRaven from Red House Books is going to BEA this year (I'm jealous!) and she plans on grabbing some goodies for everyone who can't make it.

For those of you who cannot make it, take a look at this BEA Contest and for those who are going...HAVE FUN :D

Hooked on YA Books Birthday Bash


Alexa at Hooked on YA Books is gearing up to celebrate both her 16th birthday and her blogoversary. In celebration, she's holding a huge Birthday Bash including a comment contest and a cover remake contest.

Make sure you head over to her blog, wish her a belated Happy Birthday (it was May 9th) and check out the contests. The remake a cover contest ends today, so sorry about posting this so late, but the big giveaway is open until June 30th.

For my entry into the Remake a Cover contest, I used Beastly by Alex Flinn. The book was made into a film recently and the movie will be out this July, so I used Alex Pettyfer, the actor playing Kyle Kingston, on my cover. (Many of you may recognize Alex as the fan choice for Jace Wayland in the Mortal Instruments series)

The original cover

My fanmade cover



Friday, May 21, 2010

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: McElderry Books
Hardcover, 485 pages
Date Published: March 27, 2007

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know....

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.  
 
Clary Fray and her best friend, Simon, venture off to the club Pandemonium on a night like any other, but when Clary witnesses a demon being killed by three teenagers, her normal night disappears. Clary isn’t supposed to be able to see demons or the Shadowhunters who kill them. Jace, one of the Shadowhunters, becomes intrigued by Clary and her Sight and soon enough, she is thrown into a world full of angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, and all the things that she never thought existed. Clary must come to terms with who she really is, save her mother, find the ancient and powerful Mortal Cup, and cope with her attraction to Jace while it’s clear that Simon has a thing for her. It’s a lot for a formerly average fifteen year old girl to handle.

City of Bones opens up a series of epic proportions. The mythology and vast expanse of history behind each and every character is phenomenal. Clare melds modern day New York City with the ancient Underworld and hidden world of the Shadowhunters. The Shadowhunters themselves are one of the most unique creations I have ever seen. They are part angel (Nephilim) and gain their powers through the runes, or tattoo like inscriptions, that they carve along their bodies. The image they provoke is hauntingly beautiful.

Hauntingly beautiful is a great way to describe the entirety of City of Bones. The characters are all tortured in their own ways, but Clare is able to counter her own dark story with the charm of Jace and the wit of Clary. The characters are incredibly strong throughout the story and kept me riveted. Jace has this charm about him that is impossible to resist. 
Jace’s grin was a white flash in the darkness. “It means Shadowhunters: Looking Better in Black Than the Widows of our Enemies Since 1234.” ~ pg. 179
Clary is beyond intelligent and I love how she is so far from the average YA novel heroine. She rarely comes off as being airheaded or controlled by her love/lust for another and I adore that she is a ginger. Clary's best friend, Simon, gives Jace a bit of competition for Clary's affections. I loved Simon. He is the somewhat dorky boy next door that I would love to just hang out with. He also had some fantastic lines.
“That’s why when major badasses greet each other in movies, they don’t say anything, they just nod. The nod means, ‘I am a badass, and I recognize that you, too, are a badass,’ but they don’t say anything because they’re Wolverine and Magneto and it would mess up their vibe to explain.” ~ pg. 340
Not only does City of Bones deliver with an urban fantasy adventure, but the characters are intriguing and captivating. This debut novel from Cassandra Clare is incredibly well crafted. There were a few inconsistencies that I noticed, but they didn’t take away from the story. I will say that there was one thing towards the end that had me cringing. For those who have read it, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Still, I have the next book in the series begging to be read and I will certainly oblige.

Opening line: “You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines: If there was one thing she was learning from all this, it was how easy it was to lose everything you had always thought you’d have forever. ~ g. 160

Remember. If the rune were a word, it would have been that one, but there was more meaning to it than any word she could imagine. It was a child’s first memory of light falling through crib bars, the recollected scent of remembered humiliation, and the cruel forgetfulness of old age, when the most ancient of memories stand out with agonizingly clear precision and the nearest of incidents are lost beyond recall. ~ pg. 233

*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

In My Mailbox - (5/17/10)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is a list of any of the books you may have received in the past week from bookstores, libraries, authors/publishers, trades, etc.

It's been a while since I've done one of these, so this is what I've gotten in the last month and a half or so:

Bought:
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
The Cave by José Saramago
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Spells (Wings #2) by Aprilynne Pike
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Won:
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa from Twisted Fates Cafe
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr from Tales of a Ravenous Reader
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman from Karin @Spring Break Reading Challenge
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (Signed) and Jekel Loves Hyde (Signed) by Beth Fantaskey both from her create a book trailer contest
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher from Book Bound
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock Teens Read and Write
Arson by Estevan Vega from A Good Addiction

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Title: Wings
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: HarperTeen
Hardcover, 290 pages
Date Published: May 1, 2009

Description (Taken from Goodreads)
Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words. 

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings. 

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever. 
Laurel has been home schooled her entire life, but when she moves to a larger town with her parents, the 15 year old must brave public school, new friends, and a strange protrusion on her back. Laurel manages school and even grows close to David, the cute (and awesomely science-geeky gorgeous) boy next door. Everything is fantastic for Laurel, until the protrusion on her back sprouts wings and her life turns upside down. As Laurel’s ‘wings’ blossom, so does her relationship with David, but all good things must come to an end and David may end up with a broken heart when Tamani, a faerie who obviously adores Laurel, tells her the truth about her past and who, or what, she really is.

Wings surprised me on so many levels. I’ve never been a fan of faeries or even all that into the whole love story thing, since it often seems to be the driving force of a story. Wings has a good deal of both, but the difference here is that it works really well. The characters are simple, but their simplicity is what makes them real. Sure, Laurel is a faerie and that is far from normal, but she has been living in the human world, with a human life, and has experienced human emotions and events. Her devotion to her family and her intense love for others is a huge part of her. At times, she may be a little annoying, but aren’t all teenagers? David is the boy next door who can’t help but love Laurel. He goes above and beyond for her because he cares for her and above everything, he accepts her. YA novels tend to have the bad boy fall in love with the female lead, but David is no bad boy. He’s the guy that everyone should want and I adored him for that. That being said, Tamani has so much going for him (and not in the bad boy way either) and the love triangle has so much palpable tension. It’s nearly impossible to not see the allure from both sides.

 I don’t know much about faerie lore, but it seems to me that Aprilynne Pike was able to create a uniquely beautiful and magical world. The mythology behind who (or what) Laurel is so complex, but it made sense. Some of it seems like a stretch, but that’s the purpose of a fantasy novel. It doesn’t necessarily have to make perfect sense in our world, as long as it makes sense in that fantasy world. The entire story flowed so well that I never felt like I was reading for a long time and that’s the best way to read. The action had me flipping pages like it was my job and the chases, near-deaths, and troll encounters are perfectly weaved into this story about growing up and coping with any bumps that may come along.

Excellent writing, believable and lovable characters, and an enthralling plot make Wings a magical debut into a fantastical world. Spells sure has a great deal to live up to and I’m truly looking forward to where Laurel’s wings take her from here.

Opening line: Laurel’s shoes flipped a cheerful rhythm that defied her dark mood. ~ pg. 1

Favorite line: “I like it better when I can bewitch you without my magic.” ~ pg. 149
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Do You Want to Read Beautiful Darkness?


Have you read Beautiful Creatures? Are you dying to read Beautiful Darkness?
Well, here's your chance.

Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, authors of both books, are giving away a signed ARC of Beautiful Darkness in conjunction with Twilight Moms. You can see the detailed information on Twilight Moms and make sure you keep checking back at Caster Girls for more information.

For those of you who have never heard of or haven't read Beautiful Creatures, you NEED to. I read and reviewed it back in November and here's just a little snippet of what I had to say about it:
"Words cannot describe how much I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures. The plot, the characters, the pace…everything was so perfectly developed that I couldn’t picture it any other way." 
To read my complete reaction, check out my review of Beautiful Creatures.

To stay up to date with everything Beautiful Creatures, visit the  Beautiful Creatures official website

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Think About It Thursday (6): Books in a Series

Image used under Creative Commons - Original belongs to Salady
Lets’s talk sequels…

I’ve noticed that it has become increasingly popular for YA novels to have sequels or be turned into a series. So many books have the open ending that just begs for a follow-up and even though I love a good series, sometimes it drives me crazy. I rarely find and read a book that ends with that last page. Most of the time, a sequel is already in the works or is announced soon after.

I do really love books in a series though. A series offers a lot in terms of character development and story arcs, but sometimes, I just wish I could read a story that is told just in that one book and doesn’t lead to this story of epic proportions. Turning what was planned as a standalone book into a series or even giving it a sequel sometimes feels like a ploy to make more money. I’m not saying it’s the authors either. I’m not against anyone here at all because there are so many book series that I enjoy and I often read a book and want more, but I hate what it does to my bank account.

So what’s the general feeling towards sequels and book series? Are you all for it, or do you have some mixed feelings? What are some standalone books that absolutely blew your mind? I know John Green and David Levithan tend to have some great books, but I need to branch out and discover some other authors who have some books that don’t fall into the category of a series.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - City of Ashes (5/11/10)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading


The Rules:
•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) or so “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

This weeks teaser comes from City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare:
There were levels and levels to the Silent City, and he had seen only the first two, where the archives were kept and where the Brothers sat in council. The prison cells were at the very lowest level of the City, beneath the graveyard levels where thousands of buried Shadowhunter dead rested in silence. The cells were reserved for the worst of criminals: vampires gone rogue, warlocks who broke the Covenant Law, Shadowhunters who spilled each other's blood. Jace was none of those things. ~ pg. 80

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.
To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?
In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

*Description taken from Goodreads

Disney/Universal Recap

Some of you may remember that two weeks ago I went on vacation to Florida with my family. We went to both Disney and Universal, so I have some pictures to share:
Cinderella's castle at Magic Kingdom
  Mickey Mouse at Hollywood Studios
Mickey's Sorcerer hat at Hollywood Studios
Islands of Adventure
The Rip Ride RockIt rollercoaster at Universal. My brothers and I went on it. The rollercoaster goes straight up then drops down and has some loops.

And for the stuff you've been waiting for....The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogwarts looks incredible
 It looks like there is some sort of rollercoaster by the castle. I have a feeling it could be the Hogwarts
Express.
Hogsmeade!!


So that's it. Florida was a blast. On the way back, my mother and I willingly got bumped from our flight, so got two free roundtrip tickets to anywhere the airline flies. I plan on using my tickets to go back to Florida and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Soulstice by Simon Holt

Title: Soulstice
Author: Simon Holt
Publisher: Little, Brown
Hardcover, 266 pages
Date Published: September 1, 2009

Description (Taken from Goodreads) 
The terrifying, nail-biting, and grossly intriguing sequel toThe Devouring.

It's been six months since Reggie first discovered and fought against the Vours, malicious and demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on the eve of the Winter Solstice.


The Vours still haunt Reggie, but only in her dreams-until one night, when an unexpected visitor turns her nightmares into reality.


The battle against evil continues in Soulstice, the second book in the thrilling The Devouring series, which School Library Journal called, "Comparable to books by R. L. Stine and Stephen King....A must-have for horror fans." 

Six months have passed since Reggie entered her younger brother Henry’s fearscape and expelled the Vour that had taken over his body. Six months since handsome, popular Quinn turned out to be a Vour and Reggie’s best friend Aaron battled him to the death. Six months since Eben, the owner of the bookstore and Reggie’s boss, turned out to be a lot more than just a kind old bookstore owner. In those six months, winter turned to spring, which turned to summer and school is letting up. Henry has been having more than a few problems at school and his memories about the Vours have begun to haunt him. Reggie’s nightmares are terrifying, but not as much as the late night visitor that she never expected. The Vours are up to something and the summer solstice is their deadline. Their after Reggie and she’s not quite sure what their endgame is. After Aaron is accused of murder and terrorized by a Vour, Reggie holds the weight of everything alone and she has no choice but to join forces with her nighttime visitor and risk her own life in the process. With the summer solstice rapidly approaching, Aaron, Reggie, and her unexpected ally must find a way to stop the Vours before their devious plans can be set in motion.

Simon Holt unleashes another bone-chilling tale with Soulstice. Reggie is once again haunted by the Vours, but this time she forms an alliance with one and the consequences could be dire. The alliance with this Vour is making Reggie feel empathy for him. She begins to not only work with the Vour, but begin to trust him. Reggie is the type of person who is passionate about the people and the experiences in her life. The Devouring showed exactly how much she can love someone and how far she would go to protect that person. Henry means everything to Reggie and the knowledge that the Vours may be able to unleash their horrors on the rest of the world scares Reggie more than she would like. Because of this fact, she feels obligated and almost responsible to be the one to do something.

Reggie’s ventures into other individual’s fearscapes hold much more gruesome horrors and terrifying creatures this time around. Holt paints a bloody, gory image throughout each layer of the fearscape and he does so with a resounding terror. It’s impossible not to feel at least a little bit of the fear and isolation that Reggie must conquer, but the overwhelming feeling of despair really resonated with me. The Vours take these children and for years they are trapped in a fearscape with nothing but their most horrible nightmares brought to life. Reggie braves these things over and over again because she is the only one who can. Once Reggie discovers that there is a group of people called Tracers who track down Vours and destroy them, she won’t stand for their destruction at the expense of the human they have taken over.  Things are changing for Reggie and it’s hard to discern if those changes are good or bad.

One thing is for sure, and that is Soulstice is a fantastic, if not gruesome, follow up to a creepy tale. Holt expands upon the mythology he created and develops a deeper, more involved world where the Vours have more purpose than to simply wreak havoc on poor human souls. There is tons of action this time around as well. Reggie is constantly on the move and Aaron is able to move outside of his role as just a geek and get his hands dirty. Reggie’s relationship with Henry was essential to The Devouring, but it takes backseat this time around. Their love and devotion to one another is still evident, but Reggie’s constant action doesn’t allow the reader to linger on it. All of the action makes Soulstice feel like a less passionate and character-driven story, in comparison to The Devouring, but I’m still looking forward to the next installment. I have to say that the ending was predictable, but it still had the desired effect and I’m seriously aching to see where the story goes now.

Opening line (from prologue): I kept my eyes closed, smelling the buttered popcorn and cotton candy, hearing the ding-dings of the Midway games, feeling the warm sun on my skin. ~ pg. 1

Opening line (from chapter 1): Six months, Reggie Halloway thought Friday morning as the hot water from the shower poured down her chilled flesh. ~ pg. 5

Favorite line: What if rescuing a soul from the fearscape was just dooming it to a different kind of hell in the real world? And dooming other innocent victims to those psychotic crimes? ~ pg. 61
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it. 
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