Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I probably ought to start this review out with a confession- I am a huge Shannon Hale fangirl so if you're looking for an unbiased review this is not the review for you.

Here's the official Midnight in Austenland synopsis from Shannon's site-
When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?
Because I am a huge fan of Shannon's books I went into Midnight in Austenland with really high expectations. And in true Shannon Hale fashion my expectations were left in the dust.

I loved being back in the world of Austenland. It was so fun to see old friends and meet new characters. I hadn't realized that I wanted to know more about certain characters until I met them again in this book. I really enjoyed getting to know a few of the familiar faces a bit more. As for the new cast of characters, I was a little worried I wouldn't connect with Charlotte as well as I did with Jane in Austenland. I am single and obsessed with Mr. Darcy so it was really easy for me to understand Jane. Charlotte is a successful business woman, a mother of two and divorced. She and I don't have a lot in common. But that is the beauty of Shannon's writing- she creates characters that. even though there is very little common ground, you can understand and love.

Midnight in Austenland is classic Shannon Hale-  it has a strong heroine, is laugh out loud funny, poignant, thought provoking, adventurous and has just the right amount of swoon. In addition to all of those wonderful qualities Shannon has thrown a mystery into the mix. I have to admit that this crime show junkie had a huge grin on her face when one of the characters makes a comment about being on CSI Pembrook Park. Trying to discern between fantasy and reality is already difficult at Pembrook Park, adding a puzzle to be solved made this trip to Austenland even better than the first!

Go out and buy your copy today! You won't be sorry!! When you're done reading make sure you read the deleted scenes on Shannon's site.

Monday, January 30, 2012

One for the Money

My friends and I went to see One for the Money this weekend. I've been a fan of the books for years so I was really excited to see it adapted for the big screen. I was not disappointed! I really enjoyed it! It's been a long time since I read the first book so I'm not sure how close they stayed to the original plot which is probably a good thing since I'm usually bugged by big plot deviations. I thought they did a great job with the casting. The only character that didn't really fit was Ranger. He was good, he just wasn't as suave and mysterious as the Ranger in my imagination when I'm reading. The movie was full of laughs, adventure and swoonage- just like the books are so I was satisfied. I really hope they make a second movie.

In addition to being highly entertained by the movie I discovered a new celebrity crush- Jason O'Mara

He can call me cupcake any time he wants to...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things I am not a fan of

I've been in a little bit of a slump for the last week. I'm not sure what the cause is- school, the weather, a couple of disappointing books (although I'm reading one right now that I think will inspire a fangirly post) so I decided to make a list of things that I'm not a fan of. Hopefully getting it out will make me feel better.
  • Math
  • Real life interrupting my fangirl life
  • A book that you want to love just not living up to its potential
  • People being judgemental of other fandoms. If you don't like something, that's fine. There is no need to mock other people.
  • My alarm clock
  • Drama- especially drama that people create in their own lives and then complain about.
  • ALL CAPS- please stop yelling at me! The caps lock key has an appropriate time and place. Please use discretion when choosing to use it.
  • Raw tomatoes
  • Private blogs (I understand the reason- I just forget to check them since they don't show up on my google reader)
  • Finding a new author/musical artist that I love and realizing they only have one book or cd out. When I find a new love I want to immerse myself in it!! (Although discovering them at the beginning also has it's benefits- being able to say you were a fan from the start is always nice.)
  • Friends who get ARCs of books that I covet *swats evil jealousy monster away*
  • Football
  • Deciding on a movie to watch to then finding the DVD case empty.
  • Spam comments- on twitter, blogs and email. Don't these people have anything else to do with their time?!?!?
  • People who tweet/facebook only to promote a product. I follow you because in addition to be a fan I want to get to know you a little bit. It doesn't have to be really personal, just a little bit.
Ok, I think I'm done whining now.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oh Downton Abbey, how I love you!

I have a new obsession in my life. (Shocking, I know!)

I don't know how I managed to miss the first season of Downton Abbey but last Sunday after my Twitter and Facebook feed filled up with comments about the second season starting I decided I needed to do a little investigating. Luckily the entire first season is on PBS.org so my investigating was very simple. I watched the first episode and I was hooked. Oh my goodness!! This show is phenomenal!! I have used every bit of spare time that I had this week to get caught up so I can be ready for tomorrow night's new episode. I've laughed, I've cried, I've swooned and my heart has broken a little bit with this show over the last week.

I adore everything about this show- the cast, the characters, the drama, the costumes and the plot. Plus it has Maggie Smith it it, how can it not be amazing?!?!?

I honestly can't put into words how much I love this show. If you are a fan of period dramas of any kind you need to be watching Downton Abbey, you won't be sorry!!!

Don't resist...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shatter Me

My initial review of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi-
Ummm.... whoa.... wowza.... jdkewqpafdnbk...
(interpretation- 4.5 stars! OMGTHISBOOKISREALLYGOOD!!)
Now I've had a day or two to wrap my mind around the brilliance that is Shatter Me and I'm going to try and write a more coherent review.

You know those books that everyone says are phenomenal but you don't think it can live up to the hype but then you read it and you're blown away? Yeah, this is one of those books.

I have to talk about the writing style of this book. I'm not usually one rant and rave about a writing style but OH MY GOODNESS (!!!!) this book is so beautifully unique that I was blown away! It actually took me a minute to get into it because it was distracting at first but once I got used to it I was hooked.

I need to admit that I have a girl crush on Juliette. She is bad ass!! She is so very broken at the beginning of the book that I wanted to cry for her. I loved watching her grow and see the change that love brought into her life. I cannot wait to see where she ends up at the end of the series. I have a feeling she will blow me away with what she becomes.

Can we take just a few moments to talk about Adam? Because I can't write this review and not talk about him. You all know that I've got quite a collection of fictional boyfriends. Well, Adam has secured his place on my list. Not only is he on the list but his position on the list is near Ian O'Shea, Po, Cricket Bell, Four, Gilbert Blythe and Kaleb Ballard. Yes, he is that amazing. He and Juliette have some serious chemistry. I was worried my book would spontaneously combust a few times.

I was a little surprised by the end of the book. It went in a direction that I did not see coming at all. After thinking about it for a few days I've decided that I'm really excited about that twist and what it means for the next books in the series. My only problem is that I want the next book now ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

There are certain books that I clear my schedule for. Books that I make sure I have nothing planned the day they come out so that I can devote my time to reading. Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer was one of those books. 

Last Tuesday night I came straight home from work, changed into my jammies, put a do not disturb message up on Facebook and Twitter and then spent the evening just like this. 

It's taken me several days to be able to get to a place that I felt that I could even attempt to organize my thoughts about this book. I'm still not sure I'm going to make any sense in this review, especially since I'm going to try and keep it spoiler free.

Calla Tor declares herself a warrior in the first lines of the Nightshade. She and her pack take pride in their warrior status. The events in Nightshade and Wolfsbane leave no doubt that a final showdown between the Searchers and Keepers is going to happen. So, it is no surprise that Bloodrose is the scene of the last strategic moves building up to the battle, the actual battle, and the after effects of those events. 

As with any war there are casualties on both sides and things to do not always go as planned. It's in those moments that Andrea works her magic. Andrea has assembled a cast of characters that are fierce, loyal, broken and beautiful. The things that happen to these characters are funny and heart wrenching and swoon-worthy and unfair and inspiring.  These characters are strong and when they are pushed to their limits they truly shine. 

This book is not easy to read. It's brutal. There was one scene in the book that just about broke me. I had to close the cover and simply just cry. But in addition to the brutality, which always comes with war, Bloodrose is also beautiful and exciting and stunning. There are several moments that moved me to tears because of their beauty and the growth of the characters involved in those moments. The end of Bloodrose threw me for a loop. I had spent a lot of time contemplating what would happen in the book but I did not see that coming. Once I recovered from my shock I knew that this was the logical and the only correct ending- all is as it should be. 

The Nightshade series has become one of my all time favorite series. I love the ups and downs, the swoons, the heartbreak and the message. I've spent the last few days pondering the series as a whole and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction and peace. I'm so thankful that Andrea shared Calla and her friends with us. 

I'll leave you with the two tweets I sent after I finished the book- they sum up my thoughts perfectly. 
Dear Andrea Cremer: I don't know if I want to hug you, scream at you or just cry on your shoulder. Bloodrose is beautiful. Thank you <3
I cried myself to sleep over fictional characters last night. That is the sign of a brilliantly written book.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Safe & Sound on the Hunger Games Soundtrack

Here's something you need to know about me in order for this post to make sense- I am not a fan of Taylor Swift. It's nothing personal, I just don't like her voice or songs. I always turn the radio to a different station if one of her songs is on. I do not want to listen to her. I know that she has millions of fans and I think that's great. I'm just not one of them.

So when it was announced a few weeks ago that she is going to have a song on the Hunger Games soundtrack I was not happy. My first reaction was NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! and then I put on my angry eyes because I was sure that the Hunger Games people were just putting her on the soundtrack to sell more copies.

Of course, I had to listen to it just so I could be angrier but when I did something completely unexpected happened. I liked it. The more I listened to it the more I liked it. It's so beautiful and haunting. I love the simplicity of it. It's perfect for Katniss and Prim or Katniss and Rue- it works for both. Whoever it is for, it makes me want to cry.
Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You'll be alright
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I'll be safe and sound

So I now officially like a Taylor Swift song. I even own it. I think hell might have frozen over.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fangirl Fail

I've been a fan of Robert Downey Jr. for a long time. The first movie I remember seeing him in is Chances Are.

One of my favorite RDJ roles is in Heart and Souls-

I only watched Iron Man because he was in it

And, of course, there is his most recent show of genius- Sherlock Holmes

There are many, many more brilliant movie clips/trailers I could post but that would show just how crazy I am and I can't have my crazy showing that obviously. I thought I was a fairly well educated RDJ fan until recently. I've seen a large number of his movies, I've watched interviews. I've watched talk show and award show appearances. Then something happened that made me realize that I am a failure as a Robert Downey Jr. fangirl. One of my friends posted this video-

How does this video make me a failure? I didn't know Robert could sing!!! My biggest weakness is men that sing- how did I not know that he had a voice like that?!?! He even has an album out! I am so ashamed of myself!

To redeem myself I have spent several hours on youtube watching videos of Robert singing. I also bought his album, The Futurist. I'm feeling much better about my status as a RDJ fangirl.

Here's one last video- Chances Are with Vonda Shepard from when he was on Ally McBeal