Betwixt the Books Recommends: Beachy Reads

Wherein Michaela and Gretchen discuss a handfull of books that they feel are great books to bring to the BEACH or just generally read during those hot summer months.

Worth It Wednesdays: “Hex Hall” by Rachel Hawkins

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

Hex HallTitle: Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Goodreads Description: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Why it’s worth it: I know, it sounds kind of like Harry Potter, right? That’s what I thought. And, you know, that’s kind of correct. I honestly almost didn’t pick up this series because I thought, “Yikes, this sounds like something I’ve read before.” But you know what?

THIS SERIES IS SO MUCH FUN.

I often call this series “mind candy,” because that’s how I think about it. The plot isn’t overly complicated and the characters aren’t necessarily deeply nuanced, but I love it all the same. The dialogue is spot on, the action is packed and you can read through them like butter. Every time I re-read one of these books, I laugh out loud–and I don’t do that often!

I was so enthralled by Sophie and her narration that I almost couldn’t bring myself to read Hawkins’ next series, Rebel Belle. But, it turns out, this is just how she writes. I’ve been won over by her sense of humor and fast paced, easy reading–and I think you will too!

Read it if you’re looking for: Strong female friendships, swoon-worthy romance, fast paced action, books like Harry Potter, sassy main characters, magic, fantasy, witches, demons, humor and feel good moments

Top Ten Beach Reads

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

So here is my definition of a beach read: mind candy. I don’t want anything in the way of emotional upheaval, and I just want to laugh a little. My brain doesn’t want to have to work hard to process anything. So here are my top ten beach reads, in no particular order.

Continue reading

Top Ten Books To Get In The Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Alright guys, this is kinda a strange list. My typical idea for this post would be scary books, but I don’t read many of those. So we’re just going to try this out and hope it goes well.

1. Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

ZOMBIES. That’s Halloween-ish, right? You know it. I also reviewed this book at the beginning of the blog. So yeah. ZOMBIES.

2. Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

I actually DNFed this one because it FREAKED ME OUT. But I’m thinking some of you might like that, especially around Halloween.

3. League of Strays by L. B. Schulman

This doesn’t include any ghosts or ghouls, but it leaves chills at the back of your spine and that counts for me. I used the word “creepy” way too much in my review.

4. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

VAMPIRES. EPIC vampires written BEAUTIFUL and CORRECTLY. You can’t get better than that. See my review for more.

5. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

DEMONS. Awesome demons. You can never get enough demons on Halloween.

6. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Necromancy. Werewolves. Genetic experiments. FREAKING EVERYTHING. You can’t miss with this one.

7. Jessica’s Guide to Dating the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

If you’re looking into snagging your own Edward this All Hallow’s Eve, allow Jessica to be your guide.

8. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Arguably my funniest entry on this list, but c’mon. I couldn’t NOT put it on here. It’s HEX HALL. It has EVERYTHING. Spell Bound is the only review I have on the blog, but I loved them ALL.

9. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Given the origins of this holiday, let’s through in some mythology, shall we? Also, demons and demon slaying. My review of the second book in this series, Wings of the Wicked, might tell you more.

10. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

BEST VAMPIRE BOOKS EVER. READ THEM. (AND THEN READ BLOODLINES AND THE GOLDEN LILY.)

Top Ten Books for People Who Liked “Anna and the French Kiss”

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

You guys may or may not know that Anna and the French Kiss was my first 5 star review. This was even more shocking because I haaaate teenage romances. Usually. Unless they’re done REALLY WELL. So I decided to take that book to show you just how picky my tastes are!

1. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

This one made me laugh and cry. It was absolutely fantastic. I just…I just can’t even put my feelings into words. Oh wait, yes I can. I reviewed it.

2. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Alright, alright, I know this one isn’t a contemporary, but bear with me. I’m going with the criteria of FANTASTIC ROMANCE with this one. This one doesn’t have a love triangle or a cliché ANYWHERE. It’s just … awesome. See my review for more.

3. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Yeah, this one is a semi cop-out, but c’mon. You know it’s true! (Although, I don’t actually think this one measured up to Anna…)

4. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

No, this isn’t a contemporary EITHER. I didn’t say they all would be, did I? This was a fantastic ride on several levels, not to mention the cute romance to be had. I’ve gotten several people hooked on this series and I’m proud of it!

5. Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci

Okay, so, these aren’t particularly romance heavy, but the romance in them is done really well. They (it’s a duology) are also ridiculously powerful books that I’ve checked out multiple times from my library. They are just EXCELLENTLY written.

6. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot

Again, cop out, because Meg Cabot is like the queen in certain circles, but to be honest I never really enjoyed much of hers. This one, though, is SO EXTREMELY CUTE I COULD DIE. I love it. It’s like candy.

7. When it Happens by Susane Colasanti

Again, cop out, because it’s SUSANE COLASANTI. But still. This book. SO CUTE. I love it. It’s amazing. It makes me SO HAPPY.

8. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Not a contemporary, but people who’ve read both series can’t tell me that Anna and Sophie wouldn’t be BEST FRIENDS FOREVER if they met in “real” life. I certainly think they would. 😀 (Plus, Archer? HELLO SEXY. He and Entienne could burn down buildings just by walking into them.)

9. Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

This is actually a second book of a series that is connected but doesn’t particularly have to be read in the same order, but I think it’s the best one for Anna fans.

10. Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce

No, not a contemporary. But I still think Anna and Aly would make fiiiiine friends. OHMYGOD, SOPHIE, ANNA AND ALY. THIS WOULD BE THE BEST BOOK. Someone help me get these guys on that…

Follow Friday #4

It’s time for another Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read! You follow me, I follow you – it’s as simple as that! You can follow me by email, Feedburner, Linky or NetworkedBlogs. Twitter follows and Facebook likes are nice, but I don’t count them unless you also follow another way. In the comments, PLEASE TELL ME HOW YOU FOLLOW ME. I always follow back as close in kind as I can. (Meaning if you follow me multiple ways, I will also follow you multiple ways.) Now onto the question!

Q. What is one thing you wish you could tell your favorite author?

A. Well, having been able to talk at length to Tamora Pierce thanks to a writing workshop called Alpha, I guess I’ll have to pick another of my close favorites…

Dear Rachel Hawkins,

No one has a right to be this funny. Seriously. I never get tired of ANY of the Hex Hall books, and I’m literally chomping at the bit to see what you write next. I live for snark, and you came up with some of the BEST SNARK EVER. Snark is great, original snark is hysterical. The best thing is, you’re even that funny on your Twitter. (@LadyHawkins) Someday I really hope I can meet you in person, because you just seem awesome all around.

Love, Gretchen

Top Ten Books I’d Like To See Made Into A Movie

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Let’s face it. Books-to-movies is a really touchy thing. I even blogged about it once, back when I really couldn’t find many things to blog about, it’s THAT important. 😛 However, I’ll make up this list with the hopes and dreams that studios could get a hold of these books and NOT demolish them. So is my faith in humanity. Some of these books might even have options on them or whatever, but I don’t keep track. I usually don’t even know until the trailer comes out. 😛 So here they are, in no particular order!

1. The Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins

Seriously, I want this to be a thing. I’d be very, very vocal about their casting choices because Sophie and Archer and, er, everyone would have to be JUST perfect, but gah. This would be a beautiful thing. Laugh out loud comedy AND magical action? I’d bankroll the project myself if I could.

2. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

I know this already has on option on it, thank you very much. I’m even a fan of the movie’s page on Facebook. But that DOESN’T mean that it will actually be made into a movie, so just let me lend it some more support. It SHOULD be. For the only reason that I want to see Dimitri come to life.

3. The Angelfire series by Courtney Allison Moulton

THIS WOULD BE AMAZING. Nonstop action, sarcasm and supernatural butt kicking. This would be a spectacular movie; it already reads like one! I would shave my head to have this happen. (Just please don’t actually ask me to shave my head. That would be awkward. I have an oddily shaped head.)

4. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

How in the world would anyone NOT want to see giant dragons flying around spitting acid, a building that moves and talks AND THAT MASQUERADE. I would do ANYTHING to just see that masquerade come to life. Heck, I’d put one on. Any Incarnate fans want to help?

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Quite frankly, I’d be floor if something wasn’t already in the works for this, but hey. I haven’t heard anything about it, so HI LIST! I’d pay good money just to see the scene where they jump off the train. And the scene where their fears come to life. And the scene–er. Ahem.

6. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

This could be the darkest, coolest teen vampire movie ever. At least nothing would sparkle. Plus, those zombie-vamps? That’d be cool to see–especially the fight scenes. Now please?

7. The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

I know they’re casting a Mortal Instruments movie, but I’m worried that if they screw it up we’ll never get to see the Infernal Devices come to life, which would be upsetting. The Mortal Instruments is awesome, but their supernatural world mashed with clockwork soldiers? Now that gets even cooler.

8. At least ONE of Tamora Pierce’s series

I mean, come on! You could pick anyone and have awesomesauce right there. They’ve been optioned, apparently, but the studio thinks they’d be too expensive to produce. Pardon me? I saw the Hunger Games. I can guess the fx bill for one SCENE. If there is interest, they will make it. HI, HERE’S INTEREST!

9. The City’s Son by Tom Pollock

Though I can’t share my review of this book with you guys until August, I CAN give you guys a teaser here so you know what I’m talking about. While I wasn’t impressed with some of the characterization, I’d pay money just to see this world come to life. Lightbulb people? Steel wolves? Mirror people? Yes please!

10. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Just finished this one, and it’s one of my new favorites of the year. Historical romance with a girl assassin? How can you go wrong? Plus, I’m a sucker for period pieces like this because I want to marry the costume department EVERY time. Can you blame me? Can you see the dress she’s even wearing on the COVER? This is a definite must for me.

Review: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Review: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Four stars

Talk about timing…

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. With her powers locked inside her, Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies–the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t so sure.

The only known spell that can help Sophie regain her magic is at Hex Hall–the place where it all began, and now the headquarters of the evil Casnoffs. Together with her best friend, the vampire Jenna; her boyfriend, Archer; her fiance, Cal (yeah, her love life is complicated); and a ghost for a sidekick, Sophie must battle an army of demons. But even with her friends at her side, the fate of all Prodigium rests on her shoulders alone.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride… Can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Okay, I should be noted I’m a total fangirl of these books. Did you not SEE my Waiting on Wednesday post a couple of weeks ago? So you can understand that I really, really wanted to like this book. And I did, I really did. But there was a problem.

THIS BOOK WAS WAY TOO SHORT.

Now, I’m really not saying that because I love these books and I’m sad that they’re over. I’m being downright  technically serious. So much happened in this book, and Sophie was bopping all over the place and it just went way too fast. I didn’t feel like I got a chance to really get to know any of the new characters (Izzy, anyone?) and some of the biggest, most heart wrenching scenes just … happened. And all the while Sophie is here, Sophie is there, Sophie is back there again and then gone and then–aiyee! You can’t process what just happened because it’s all just WHOOSHED right past. Now, you’re probably thinking, doesn’t she LIKE fast paced books? Didn’t she say she loved Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton because it read “like a rapid fire machine gun”? Yes, yes I did. But this … wasn’t that. It seemed way too choppy in places, and a lot of important things weren’t handled with as much care or as fleshed out as they could have been. It left my head spinning–and not in a good way.

That is basically the entire reason this book only got four stars, unlike the 5 I’d have given Demon Glass or Hex Hall. I wanted this to be the roaring, hysterical, funny finale to an amazing series, but in the back of my mind I was just always a little thrown off by the writing.

Yes, in the back of my mind. In case you were worried, Sophie is still entirely Sophie. I was still laughing out loud at her snark. I still want to be her best friend. Speaking of which, you don’t really need to wait that long in the worry that all her friends and family are missing. They start popping out of the woodwork in ones and twos in the first third or so of the book, which almost made me upset. Hawkins set up that tension so well, and then it kind of resolves itself.

If you were going to bring back Archer that early, there should have been more make out scenes. Just sayin’.

Two last things to discuss: Elodie and Cal. Let’s start with Elodie…

Okay, we get that the girl is a ghost tied to Sophie. Personally, her constant actions regarding Sophie didn’t really bother me too much. They seemed entirely like an angry Elodie would act. The problem was really when Sophie started leaning on said Elodie as a crutch, but that didn’t last all that long (as nothing did in this book) so I got over it pretty quickly. I know a lot of people have been annoyed with how much that certain event happened, but I kinda just took it in and went with it.

Now. Cal. (Please note that we are about to devolve into fangirl rantings, not a technical critique.) CAL. CAL. RACHEL HAWKINS. I… I… I FEEL ALL THINGS. THAT ENDING. THAT ENDING. Personally, I don’t find anything technically wrong with it. I thought it was actually poetic. BUT. BUT. THE FANGIRL IN ME DIED A LITTLE. AND THEN SOARED A LITTLE. AND THEN CRIED A LITTLE. And now you know.

I realize that this review doesn’t sound all that complimentary, but hey, that’s what a review is. It’s basically a place to nitpick at books. 😛 I gave it four stars for a reason. Spell Bound was a good ending to the Hex Hall series, and hopefully left it open for Hawkins to return to this world–hopefully from the eyes of Izzy. However, it wasn’t spectacular. Sometimes I think that the endings to series can never be everything you want them to be, but after I had closed the book I just had such mixed feelings. Everything that I had wanted to happen, happened. Just not in the way I wanted it to. Everyone has their own opinions about how they want series’ to end, and maybe I’m not capable of separating my fangirl from my critical reviewer. But I think BOTH of them wish that Spell Bound had taken a little longer to really give itself a finished polish.

Books are the Best Medicine – Here’s My Preferred Prescription!

Today’s post is going to be a little bit of a shorter one, because as you may have guessed I’m so ill as to be seeing stars and hanging out all day in bed. Of course, hanging out in bed all day DOES come with the awesome upside of having a lot of quality time to spend with one’s bookshelf. Therefore, I decided today’s post would be all about those books of mine that I just read over and over and over again when I’m feeling down. After all, who needs meds when you’ve got books? (Let it be noted that the following are just a sample. My books number in the thousands. :P) If you have a book that helps YOU feel better, let me know in the comments! My cough tells me I’m going to have a loooot more time to kill before I get much better. ^.^

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This is probably the newest book I’ve added to this list, but I just can’t get enough of it. You can check out my initial review of the book here–it still shows how I feel about this book quite well. I just CANNOT get enough of these characters or the story or … anything. I actually reread it just the other day and discovered that–despite how many times I’ve read this–I still have to be careful while I’m reading, because I STILL laugh hysterically at the jokes that always happen to show up every time I want a drink.

Demon Glass by Rachel Hawkins

Yes, Hex Hall too, but at the moment I’ve been reading Demon Glass a bit more with the reason that the third book IS coming out March 13. These books are action packed AND include cute guys and awesome one liners. I’m not one who easily laughs out loud at books, but when I’m STILL doing that on my one gajillionth reread, I know I’ve got something special that I just refuse to let go.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I COULD have titled this entry “anything by Cassandra Clare” and still be telling you the truth, but I really have a thing for City of Glass. Probably because of all the Jace/Clary-ness but whatever. I just had a new urge to reread the entire Mortal Instruments series (if you want to know just what these are, check out my article here) again after going through Clare’s section of Goodreads quotes and laughing so hard I tipped over my chair. All that goodness undiluted can kill, I swear. These books are also so awesome and widely appealing that my brother read them, so we have quote wars. It’s amazing, let me tell you.

Squire by Tamora Pierce

Now, throughout this post you’re going to notice I have a thing with rereading the final books in series. If you know anything about Pierce’s Protector of the Small series, however, then you’ll know Squire is actually the 3rd of 4 books. Don’t ask me why, but I just adore this book like nobody’s business. I actually broke the spine of the library’s copy before I realized I should prooobably get my own. But hey, how can you go wrong with Kel, Raoul and a baby griffin? (The answer is, you can’t.)

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Alright, here we go, back to the “last book in the series” trend. Well, I’ll be honest, any time I name one book in a series it’s a good bet I just spend all day rereading the ENTIRE series, but this is just my favorite. You’ve got the Shang Dragon AND George AND Thom AND Jon AND her friends AND–erm. Everything. This book has everything. I better just leave it at that…

The Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Full disclaimer: I usually don’t reread the entirety of this book. In fact I usually don’t read the entirety of this series. I reread all Rose and Dimitri sections and flip through the rest. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the other characters–Adrian especially after Bloodlines–but…AAGH. Rose and Dimitri. Never have I shipped a couple so hard. Seriously. (Although Sydney and Adrian are coming up close second.) I have reread this book quite a few times, but I have mauled the end pages that include Rose and Dimitri’s “happily ever after.” I may be a sucker, but you can’t tell me it isn’t reasonable with this two.

Countdown to 2012: Books I Can’t Wait to Read (Part 1)

Does anyone else write down book release dates on their calendar? Because I do. The second I get a date, it’s scrawled on the calendar in a colored pen so fast the ink gets mussed. I got a calendar as a present and that was the first thing I did. Thank you, Goodreads. Here’s a list of books I’m waiting for and their release dates! If you see one that’s on yours too, SQUEE WITH ME. If there are ones that aren’t on here, and that fact BLOWS your MIND, tell me in the comments! You can never get too many books.

JESSICA RULES THE DARK SIDE by Beth Fantasky (Jessica #2)

Release Date: Jan 10

Why: Because I’m honestly curious what Fantasky is going to do, since I was so sure the first book–Jessica’s Guide to Dating the Dark Side–was a stand alone novel. It certainly didn’t leave any loose ends or anything. It was genuinely interesting and a new take on vampirism, so I enjoyed it. I may or may not be a sucker for “what happens after the fairytale ending” stories. Plus, Lucian was a hot vampire. Sign me up!

HALLOWED by Cynthia Hand (Unearthly #2)

Release Date: January 17

Why: I linked to my review of the first book, Unearthly, which will talk more about my feelings about the book, but I will say again that I am genuinely curious how Hallowed is going to unfold, not just plot-wise but also writing style-wise. Unearthly was good but slow, though I was too intrigued by Hand’s take on angelicism to put it down. I think without the time constraints that she was limited to by her own plot conventions in the first book, Hand can really do something special with this one. Or at least I’m hoping. You’ll certainly be the first to know when I figure it out! I’ve already got it pre-ordered.

EVERNEATH  by Brodi Ashton

Release date: Jan 24

Why: THIS BOOK SOUNDS SO COOL. Alright, blurbs can often be very misleading, but, come on. This book has a really, really neat concept as described here. It’s been advertised on inkpop and all over Goodreads, and I can’t help but cave. It probably won’t be on my instantly pre-ordered list because of all the series I’m excited to further and finish, but I most definitely want to pick it up when I get the chance.

WINGS OF THE WICKED by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire #2)

Release Date: Jan 31

Why: Angelfire made me go gaga, plain and simple. Just…gaga. The storyline is awesome, the mythology is awesome, the twists were awesome, the romance is awesome and the guy is one I would love to date. Need I say more? Because I will, actually. The end of book one left opened up twists that I sure as heck didn’t see coming and left more questions than answers, and I NEED ANSWERS. It’s already been preordered and I am counting down days.

FEVER by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden #2)

Release Date: February 21st

Why: Alright, yes, my book review of the first bookWither–wasn’t completely complimentary, but I can’t help but be intrigued. DeStefano handled some really tough issues really well and wrote in some great relationship stuff (and some not great, but I hold onto hope)…and the blurb talks about Rhine and Gabriel ending up in a “twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls.” Maybe I’m a sucker. Maybe I’m a big sucker. But come on. This is crazy enough it just might work, and Wither was good enough that I’m not ready to give up on this world quite yet.

SPELL BOUND by Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall #3)

Release Date: March 13

Why: WHY DO I NEED TO TELL YOU? Ahem. Anyways. Have you read these? Because you need to read these. Yes, girl at magical boarding school has been tried and tried again, but I am in LOVE. LOVE. LOVE with this books. They are interesting, they are funny, they are will written and the love interest(s) are to die for. Oh, and it is SO NOT FAIR how Hawkins just leaves you hanging again and again. …I am very impatient when I just NEED to know what happens next, you may have noticed. I tend to pre-order by month, so you know what I’ll be doing March 1st instead of celebrating my father’s birthday.

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth (Divergent #2)

Release Date: May 1

Why: Divergent may or may not have been overhyped for a reason. It isn’t groundbreaking amazingness, but it is pretty darn near close. I’ve yet to read a dystopian that I’ve enjoyed this much. It was the realist, and the one I connected the most with. It had pretty much everything I look for in a book, plus I truly enjoy reading Roth’s writing. It’s easy but it sends a message clearly, which is really hard to do. It started a new wave of dystopian trends for a reason. If you haven’t read it yet, READ IT.

CITY OF LOST SOULS by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #5)

Release Date: May 8

Why: CASSANDRA CLARE. That should be enough for anybody. I’ll admit,  I was almost a little upset when Clare decided she was going to write 3 more books in this series instead of keeping it at a trilogy as planned, but that doesn’t stop me from being a freakish fan girl. Jace and Clary make me so amazingly happy–not to mention Alec and Magnus and Simon and–everybody. Let’s just go with everybody. The last book wasn’t great; it was almost like Clare was actually making stuff up to keep the series going. Now, half of the people I talk to are pretty sure she was actually doing that, but goodness don’t SHOW it. Either way, sign me up for this one and all the rest. I just can’t put these books down EVER.

There were just too many books for this post, so you can find part 2 here!