Monday, September 30, 2013

Movie Monday #16: Pitch Perfect

Monday, September 30, 2013 with 13 comments

We all delight in seeing our favorite books brought to life on the big screen.  We cringe at casting.  We scoff at release dates.  All the while, we're gearing up to see if the director's vision lives up to the world we've conceived in our own imaginations.  Sometimes it does...and sometimes it doesn't.  We could lament the movies that don't measure up, or we could return to the books for a re-read, possibly with a slightly different mind-set.  All's fair when it comes to artistic vision, right?

This week, I'm featuring the following adaptation:

Title: Pitch Perfect
Director: Jason Moore
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin
Release date: October 5, 2012
Based on: Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin

View on IMDb

Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.
The Barden Bellas are a collegiate, all-girls a cappella singing group thriving on female pop songs and their perfect looks. After a disastrous failing at last year's finals, they are forced to regroup. Among the new recruits is freshman Beca, an independent, aspiring DJ with no interest in the college life. But after she meets Jesse, from the rival all-male a cappella group, Beca has a new outlook and takes it upon herself to help the Bellas find their new look and sound and get back into the competition.

So, I finally watched Pitch Perfect over the weekend.  I've had it DVRd for a couple months, probably, and after Natalie's glowing review, I knew I had to see it, despite my lack of enthusiasm for the show Glee, which I assumed is what this movie would be like.  But it wasn't, at least not as far as I can tell.  Honestly, I've tried to watch Glee a few times, but I just don't get the draw.

Anyway, it wasn't until I was putting together this post that I realized this movie was actually based on a book.  One I've never heard of, but whatever.  It was actually pretty hilarious.  Campy, but hilarious.
[Their bus starts to sputter and slow]
Aubrey: What the hell?
Fat Amy: It's pretty cool, actually... I think we're just running out of gas.
Aubrey: No, that can't be! You just filled the tank!
Fat Amy: Yeah, I did! And yet, maybe I didn't, because I got hit by flying Mexican food.
[the bus sputters to a stop]
Fat Amy: And we're out.
Aubrey: A-ca-scuse me?
Fat Amy: A-ca-believe it! 
What really made this movie for me was the characters and the actors who portrayed them so raucously.  I liked the two nice kid main characters, played by Anna Kendrick and Skylar Astin.  I kind of love everything I've seen Anna Kendrick in -- even that one series.  But the most fun came when Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids) or Adam DeVine (Workaholics) had screen time.  They are over-the-top and had me laughing hysterically, which also made me glad no one was around to see the giggle-snorts.

It was also fun seeing Elizabeth Banks as one of the commentators for the competition that the a cappella groups attend, and I even believe I saw her name listed in the credits as a producer.  I adore this woman's affection for the young adult genre in general.

This movie is full of witty dialogue, girl-bonding, and a sweet romance that never felt saccharin or took center stage.  (Pun intended.)  Pitch Perfect is what Glee wishes it could be.  I'll be keeping this one on hand when I need a good laugh.

Have you read the book?  Did you even know there was a book?  What do you think about it being made into a film?  Have you seen the movie or do you have any plans to?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

In My Mailbox #101

Saturday, September 28, 2013 with 18 comments

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  It's a weekly meme where we all get to brag about the books and swag we got in the mail, for review, won in contests, etc.

I still haven't gotten around to reorganizing my bookshelves, and I've taken in a lot of new books lately, so I think it's time.  It's supposed to be pretty nice with a few showers sprinkled in here this weekend, so I think I'll open the windows and welcome the fall weather into my library/office.  =)  I'll also be putting out the fall decorations (finally) and hopefully I'll get to Katie's bookshelf and doing a little cleaning up there, as well.  They start their reading program at school this coming week, so it seems like the perfect time.

For Review:

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)

Thank you, Harlequin Teen & Netgalley!!!

Crash into You by Katie McGarry
Pawn by Aimee Carter


Untold by Sarah Rees-Brennan
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young
Shadows by Paula Weston - I've already read this, but I loved it so much I had to buy a finished copy (review)

If I Stay (If I Stay #1)Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I caved and bought these audiobooks.  They're relatively short, but I've heard amazing things about this author and this series, plus the first book is being adapted for film, so I have to read/listen to it before then.  :D


And these are all of my now signed and/or Maggie-doodled books, after the signing on Wednesday.  She had a ton to autograph and yet she still took the time to doodle a horse in my HC of The Scorpio Races.  =) (I'm sure she did that for everyone who had a copy of the book, but still...awfully nice of her.)

So, that's my haul.  How about you?  What did you get this week?

The Week in Review:


Current Giveaways:  Banned Books Week Hop (ends TONIGHT!) and SIGNED copy of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Promotional/Discussion Posts:  Banned Books Week, The Great Goodreads Debate & the Maggie Stiefvater signing at Half Price Books

Jen's Currently Reading/Listening To:

If I Stay (If I Stay #1)Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2)Finishing up Never Fade and For Darkness Shows the Stars, both of which are awesome.  Then I think I'm going to start Fractured by Sarah Fine.  Maybe.  It depends on what I'm in the mood for then, I guess.  :D

I'm pretty excited to start this series.  I went ahead and bought both books on audio, just because I know I'm going to love it.  It'll probably be the same with her other series when I get to it.  :)

The Week Ahead:

Reviews:   Never Fade and For Darkness Shows the Stars...and probably If I Stay and Where She Went.  Also, I'm really going to try to get my reviews for Haze and World After written this weekend, especially since the friend who let me borrow Haze really wants to borrow my ARC of World After.  :) Though, the review for World After won't post until closer to the pub date, at the publisher's request.  Sorry!

Ends tonight!!!

 photo b5eacd21-1df6-4425-9819-6a0331d668ff_zps48ca95dc.jpg
Win a SIGNED copy of The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater!

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Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

On Wednesday night, I was lucky enough to attend the Maggie Stiefvater signing and Q&A session at the flagship Half Price Books here in Dallas.  For the last few releases of her books, I've pre-ordered Maggie-doodled copies from Fountain Bookstore, and the release of The Dream Thieves was no different. I own all of Maggie's books, though -- with the exception of the anthologies that her work appears in -- so I had quite a collection that wasn't signed.  And, well, we can't have that.

This was my first time to ever meet Maggie, so I was a lot excited and a little nervous.  But I had no reason to fret.  Maggie is just as personable and approachable in person as she is online.  She's this little ball of energy that just won't quit, and it's no wonder she writes some of the craziest, most unique books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.  Oh, AND she recognized the name of my blog! Squeeeeee!!!  :D

Maggie read a scene from The Dream Thieves, with some help from the audience, and it made me want to read the book all over again.  I've just about determined that it's my new favorite Maggie book, barely squeaking past The Scorpio Races on its way to the top.

In addition to the signing and reading, Maggie also took questions, and here are some things that were mentioned:

  • Every character she writes starts from a blank human mold and then she changes it as she writes.  In fact, she and Ronan share some DNA...she based Ronan's character on herself at that age.  Except he has reasons for the way he is and she really didn't at that age.  =)
  • Kavinsky's character in The Dream Thieves was a challenge for her to write because she always tends to write her villains bad "but with a heart of gold" and he had to be all evil.
  • Maggie writes by scene count, not by word count.  If she sets out to write a certain scene for the day and it only takes her twenty minutes, she's done for the day.  Conversely, she'll still be pecking away at the keyboard until the wee hours of the morning until said scene is finished.
  • She had just finished reading The Time Traveler's Wife for the second time when she decided that that's the type of book she wanted to write.  One that left you ugly crying no matter how many times you read it.  And soon after, Shiver was written.  Maggie is diabolical.
  • Her favorite scene to write in The Raven Boys was the one where "Adam gets the shit kicked out of him by his father."  She said it had "action and cars...what's not to love?"
  • She actually started writing The Raven Cycle when she was nineteen, and at the time, Ronan was the main character.
  • The Scorpio Races was the book she wanted to read as a teen.  Maggie says to write the book YOU want to read.
  • When asked if she'd ever write a sequel to The Scorpio Races, she responded that the characters got to the end of their story arcs so she has no plans to, but maybe in fifty years or so she'll revisit them if the whim hits her.
  • The Scorpio Races used to be Maggie's favorite book that she'd written, but that changed with The Dream Thieves.  (Seriously, it's that good.  If you haven't read it yet, well, you'll get your chance below.  :P)

Hope you learned something new about one of my favorite authors!  :)  It was rough rearranging schedules and such so both Mendy and I could attend, so I want to give M a big shout-out for coming with.  [She also wants Emily to know that she totally owes her for pretending to be her and getting her books signed so I didn't look like a total ass with like 20 books to get signed.  =)]

So, I was totally thinking of you guys while I was there, and I picked up an extra signed copy of The Dream Thieves to give away to one lucky reader!

  • This giveaway is US only.  Sorry, international peeps, but I do have another giveaway open that's international.
  • One entry per household.
  • Entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.  Please check your SPAM folder!!!
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you all get the chance to meet Maggie one day.  She's so much fun and just so witty and weirdly charming.  :D

Thanks for stopping by & happy reading!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Title: Rampant
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Narrator:  Luci Christian Bell
Series: Killer Unicorns, book #1
Length:  11 hrs 44 mins
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 27, 2012
Source: purchased audio
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns...

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

Wherein Jen Reviews a Book About Killer Unicorns

Sorry, couldn't help myself...that's how each chapter starts out:  Wherein Astrid blah blah blah.  It was repetitive but cute.

So, if you know anything about unicorns at all, you probably think a) that they're mythical and b) that they're these beautiful horses with a golden alicorn (that's what a unicorn's horn is officially called) atop its glorious head.  And you'd be wrong in both cases, at least according to Astrid Llewelyn's mother.

I adored the snarktastic ambivalence Astrid showed her mother regarding her predilection to research and track down any mention of the supposed mythical beasts.  But now that Astrid's boyfriend has been attacked by one of the beasts, it's up to Astrid to humor her mother and attend unicorn hunting school in Italy.  Hey, an all expenses paid trip to "The Eternal City" doesn't sound so bad.

Astrid is a descendant of Alexander the Great, who famously tamed a unicorn the size of an elephant as his loyal steed. As such, it is her duty to protect humanity from the killer unicorns that are plaguing the world, attacking innocents and just generally wreaking havoc.  At the cloisters, she meets other such descendants, some of which share her hesitancy to pick up the, erm, "family trade".  Others are very gung ho about the whole business.

I think when I read the phrase "killer unicorns", my mind immediately assumed this would be a fantasy story, with a contemporary vibe.  But it's more of the latter and less of the former.  I'm not complaining...I had a lot of fun listening to this one, especially last night while I was stuck in traffic for two hours.  But rather than focus on the fantastical, this novel focuses on the mythological aspect of unicorns, with special emphasis on the role of the virgin maiden and the magical and/or medicinal properties of the alicorn.

According to most lore, unicorns love them some virgins.  By nature, unicorns are apparently ferocious, feral beasts unable to control their bloodlust, but for virgin maidens, they will lay aside their lack of impulse control and can become almost like pets.  The Zhi in this novel are some such unicorns.  The rest, however, have no compunctions about killing a girl, virginity intact or otherwise.

There's a rape plot in this novel that removed one of the girls from the ranks of the unicorn hunters, and for the most part, I thought it was handled in an acceptable manner.  It wasn't written into the story just for the sake of added drama...the removal of choice in this instance played a big role in the girl's life as a hunter and as a young woman, and I thought it a valid storyline in addition to the actual hunting.  I just would have preferred that in addition to the consequences for the girl, the notifying of the police, the clinic visit, etc., we could have seen what happened to the guy, who abruptly went missing after the ordeal.  There's a reason for his absence, but I can't say for risk of spoilers.  I haven't started the second book in this series, so I can't say that we don't see a resolution to this in it, but I'm still waiting for a confrontation, especially considering the circumstances regarding the deed.

Anyway, that aside, the book is fun.  The narrator was great...she sounded like an actual teenager and her emphasis on the sarcasm was perfect.  She had Astrid's snarky attitude down pat.  The narrator employed a variety of voices for different characters and somehow made a gaggle of girls all sound different.  My one complaint, though, would be that she made Astrid's love interest sound more like a surfer dude than the art history major he was by giving him such a laid-back voice.

Rampant is my first experience reading (listening to) a novel by Diana Peterfreund, though I'm also reading For Darkness Shows the Stars right now.  I'm slightly more impressed by that book, but I'm definitely impressed by the author's writing in general.  And the narrative voice in each book is totally unique to each story, further impressing me.  I've already got the next book in each series queued up on my reading and listening devices...seriously regretting how long it took me to discover this author!

About the author:

Diana Peterfreund has been a costume designer, a cover model, and a food critic. Her travels have taken her from the cloud forests of Costa Rica to the underground caverns of New Zealand (and as far as she’s concerned, she’s just getting started). Diana graduated from Yale University in 2001 with dual degrees in Literature and Geology, which her family claimed would only come in handy if she wrote books about rocks. Now, this Florida girl lives with her husband and their puppy in Washington D.C., and writes books that rock.

Her first novel, Secret Society Girl (2006), was described as “witty and endearing” by The New York Observer and was placed on the New York Public Library’s 2007 Books for the Teen Age list. The follow-up, Under the Rose (2007) was deemed “impossible to put down” by Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist called the third book, Rites of Spring (Break) (2008), “an ideal summer read.” The final book in the series, Tap & Gown, will be released in 2009. All titles are available from Bantam Dell.

She also contributed to the non-fiction anthologies, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, edited by Jennifer O’Connell (Pocket Books, 2007), The World of the Golden Compass, edited by Scott Westerfeld (BenBella Books, 2007), and Through the Wardrobe, edited by Herbie Brennan (BenBella Books, 2008).

Her first young adult novel, Rampant, an adventure fantasy about killer unicorns and the virgin descendents of Alexander the Great who hunt them, will be released by Harper Collins in 2009. When she’s not writing, Diana volunteers at the National Zoo, adds movies she has no intention of watching to her Netflix queue, and plays with her puppy, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever named Rio.

Find Diana:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads | Pinterest

I usually refrain from offering up my two cents on these author/blogger debacles, unless they involve a friend, and only then to comfort said friend.  But this change in the Goodreads ToS affects us all, some more than others, obviously.  (I didn't have an author-related shelf on Goodreads.  At least, it wasn't labeled as such.  It's simply listed as "not in this lifetime", but the objective is the same as those who had "due to author" or "authors behaving badly" as their shelf titles.)

Anyway, I don't agree with Goodreads' handling of the situation. At all. If they'd at least given notice prior to doling out this twisted retribution, things might be a little different.  I might not have been directly affected by this change, but I feel for those reviewers who lost hours of hard work in the form of honest reviews.

I agree with so many others before me that this move seems very pro-author. Goodreads has always been a site for readers, for book lovers, for people who just genuinely want to discuss books.  We don't always like the same books, and for the most part, we've always been okay with that.  There are some trolls out there who will never stop trying to convince us of this or that book's superiority, but there are far more honest-to-goodness book lovers on the site.

I didn't interact with authors all that much in the beginning on Goodreads, and to be honest, I still don't really. I've added some as friends, but for the most part, my interactions with authors, at least on Goodreads, has been very limited.  I've only had a few comment on my reviews, and it's usually a pleasant experience.  I called one a debut author in my review, and she politely pointed out that the book was actually her second novel.  Another simply wanted to thank me for taking the time to read her book.  Those interactions are nice. I've never had a not-nice situation with an author, luckily.

But to be truthful, I've always believed Goodreads should have remained a place for readers to interact with each other.  I understand that authors are readers, too, but their presence on Goodreads should remain as such.  Especially when it seems that so many of them cannot take constructive criticism.  It's unbelievable how some have treated our fellow reviewers.  I daresay they'd think twice about attacking a reviewer from a major publication.  But we're no one to them and so we're easy targets.

At first, I wasn't going to say or do anything.  And then I read more and more of that thread and got more and more incensed.  It does almost seem as if Goodreads is rewarding bad author behavior.  I know, I know.  They're cracking down on that, too, or so they say.  I understand where Goodreads is coming from...they just want everyone to go back to their separate corners, call the fight over.  Honestly, isn't that what we all want?  But is this change the way to go about it?

I like Goodreads...I didn't want to abandon ship after several great years.  And I still haven't completely because they provide valuable content that, so far, isn't easily accessible all in one place.  I know a lot of people are heading to one of Goodreads' competitors:  LibraryThing, Shelfari, or BookLikes. I debated if any of these were right for me, or if should suck it up and hope that Goodreads would set things right. They've tried to make amends, but for some, it's too little, too late.  In the end, I decided to make a new home for myself over at BookLikes.  I think it's the only of these sites that isn't at least partially owned by Amazon.  In general, and from a purchasing standpoint, I like Amazon. But they have no place on a site made for readers.  Not when all they're attempting to do is collect data from us and line their own pockets. And definitely not when, because of their influence, a site I favor over all other social media has struck out against its very own users.

So, yeah, I've still got a profile on Goodreads.  I may never fully leave it, simply because of the wealth of information it provides.  I know I have a little while before my shelves finish importing over to BookLikes...something like 44 hours.  And it'll take me awhile to familiarize myself with the general setup of BookLikes.  I like it, but I don't love it.  Not yet, anyway. But I'll keep playing with it.  In the meantime, I've still got a foot planted firmly over there at Goodreads, despite everything.  I can't help it...I feel like I've lost a good friend, but we're still trying to work on the friendship, ya know?

How are the rest of you coping with these changes?  Were you affected?  Are you completely abandoning Goodreads, or are you still feeling things out like me?

If you've moved to BookLikes, feel free to add me; I'm under starryeyedjen.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

Title: Of Metal and Wishes
Author: Sarah Fine
Series: n/a
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: August 5, 2014

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There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

I loved Sanctum, and I've got the sequel to it coming up in a couple of weeks.  But then Sarah Fine goes and writes this genie-like ghost story that just sounds unbelievably awesome.  I really hope this one is as good as it sounds.  Too bad the release date is almost a year away!!!  Waaaah.

Now that you know what I'm dying to read, what are you waiting on this week?  Feel free to share it in the comments or leave a link so I can stop by!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Sequels Ever

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 with 18 comments

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.  Apparently, they are overly fond of list-making and love to share their bookish lists with the rest of us book nerds.  =)  I'm game.

This week's list features the Top Ten Best Sequels Ever:

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Everbound (Everneath, #2)Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2)

Um, it appears that even though I already knew I loved fantasy best of all, I really, really love fantasy sequels.  :D

Oh, and honorable mention goes to these guys:

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)Rebel Heart (Dust Lands, #2)Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)The Dead-Tossed Waves (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #2)

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday, so go easy on me...I tried to narrow it down to ten, I really did!  =)

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