Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Ramblings on Also Known As by Robin Benway

Also Known As
By: Robin Benway
Release Date: February 28, 2013
Author Website
Book Provided by NetGalley


Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.

Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover. (from goodreads)

My Ramblings: 
This was a good book that could have been so much better. When I read the synopsis I got really excited. The plot, about a teenage spy, isn't one that I've seen a million times, so I was really looking forward to diving in. And it was good. Very good as a matter of fact. I liked the plot, I liked (most of) the characters and I loved how it all ended. However, there were a few things that irked me and I found I couldn't over look them. 

***Spoilers Ahead ***

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Ramblings on Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run 
By: Christopher McDougall
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Author Website

Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.
(from Goodreads)

My Ramblings:

I reviewed this book over at From the Page to the Princess, a running group I am part of. We are training for the Princess 1/2 Marathon at Disney World. I picked up this book this past week and needless to say, this book totally blew my mind. It made me question everything I know about running (and sneakers) and has given me some new running goals. Check out my entire review HERE.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Ramblings on Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality
By: Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Author Website
Book provided by NetGalley

A hilarious new novel from Elizabeth Eulberg about taking the wall out of the wallflower so she can bloom.

Don't mess with a girl with a Great Personality.

Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.

The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it.
(from goodreads)

My Ramblings:
There are a few authors that I can trust to deliver a great book every time. Eulberg is one of them. Without fail her books have been in my best of the year lists every year. Her characters are dynamic and her story lines are so easy to relate to. This time we find Eulberg and her characters entering the terrifying world of pagents and it's so good. 

At the heart of the story is Lexi, a girl who seems to have a pretty good life from the outside. She's got a good job, great friends and a plan for the future. On the surface this story seems to be a fun coming of age story centered around the world of pagentry. Once you delve in though and begin to chip away at Lexi and her life you begin to see that all is not what it seems. Lexi is a pretty typical high school girl, especially when it comes to her crush Logan. She knows she can't have him, and she doesn't even try to get him, but boy does she think about it a lot! Part of what makes Logan so attractive to her is that he completely understands the strange world of pageants. Lexi and Logan spend every weekend watching them, Logan for his girlfriend and Lexi for her little sister Mackenzie. 

**Spoilers Ahead**

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Ramblings on Boundless by Cynthia Hand (a teaser)

I reviewed Boundless as part of a book tour over at Eve's Fan Garden. This is one of my favorite series and this book was a fitting farewell to some characters that I've grown to really love. So check out a snippet of my review here and then read the entire thing over at EFG!

By: Cynthia Hand
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Authors Website


The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

My Ramblings:

I was terrified to read this book. I put it off for a full week. I let it sit there on my shelf as I read other books, wanting to pick Boundless up, but not quite ready to do so yet. Has this ever happened to anyone else? I love this series. It is one of my all time favorites, so when Katie at MundieMoms contacted us about being part of this tour I of course jumped all over it. Then the book came and I couldn't bring myself to open it. Not because I thought it might disappoint, but because I was not ready to say goodbye yet. It's rare that a series is this good all the way through, and I love reading about the characters and the world that Hand has created in the Unearthly series and I wasn't ready for it to be over yet. I said to someone on facebook that these are book nerd problems. Who else frets about having to say goodbye to fictional characters? After all that though, with the deadline for our tour stop looming, I finally picked the book up and 4 hours later was in tears. It was over. And it was so, so good.

First off this book really does have it all and Hand managed to surprise me several times. There are a few love connections going on in this book, and it isn't all about Clara, Christian and Tucker. We see Angela and Jeffrey both struggle with relationships and trying to figure out who they truly are and what they want. They are all dealing with the constant pressure of living up to their purpose, while still trying to also deal with surviving the real world. We also see some shifting relationships between people who we thought were evil revealing themselves to not be the 100% bad guy we anticipated. There are also a few deaths. Yes, a few. Including one that completely caught me by surprise and reduced me to tears. Not everyone survives in Hands world, which I actually like. It's more realistic then everyone magically living happily ever after. That being said, there is a fair share of magic in this story, which I also like. when you are dealing with angels and heaven and hell, there has to be a sense of faith driving everyone's actions and that leads to impossible things happening. Hand strikes the perfect balance between what we can all relate to and the magic that is there right below the surface. In the end everyone ends up exactly where they are supposed to be. Hand even managed to write an epilogue that I like! I usually despise epilogues, but I felt like Hand took it far enough into the future that it felt like peaking in on old friends instead of trying to wrap up loose ends...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Ramblings on The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise

The Boyfriend App
By: Katie Sise
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Author Website

In The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can’t wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring.

But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love? (from GoodReads)

My Ramblings:
I'm waffling on whether or not I like this book. Which is a pretty horrible way to start a review. Have you ever had a book that you know is good, but you get in your own way while reading it? That was this book for me. Allow me to explain.... (there will be spoilers after the break)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Ramblings on The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe

The Lives We Lost
By: Megan Crewe
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Author Website
Book Received From: NetGalley


First, the virus took Kaelyn’s friends. Then, her family. Now it’s taken away her home.

But she can't look back—the life she once had is gone forever.

A deadly virus has destroyed Kaelyn’s small island community and spread beyond the quarantine. No one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine in her father's abandoned lab, she knows there must be someone, somewhere, who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, they encounter a world beyond recognition. It’s not only the “friendly flu” that’s a killer—there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the vaccine. How much will Kaelyn risk for an unproven cure, when the search could either destroy those she loves or save the human race?

Megan Crewe's second volume in the Fallen World trilogy is an action-packed journey that explores the resilience of friendship, the ache of lost love, and Kaelyn’s enduring hope in the face of the sacrifices she must make to stay alive.

My Ramblings:

I've been very, very impatiently waiting for this book to come out, technically I should still be waiting, but by an excellent stroke of luck I got the book from NetGalley. I was actually terrified to start it- I was so in love with the first book that I was concerned this book would disappoint me. It's happened before. Great first book, downer of a second and then by the time the third comes out you're only reading to know the ending.This book absolutely lived up to every high expectation I had. 

When we last saw Kaelyn, Tessa, Gav and Meredith they were coping with their whole world falling apart and seeing Leo, Kaelyn's old best friend for the first time since the virus began. With Leo's arrival they also learned that the rest of the world is no better off then the island, and this knowledge changes everything. 

****Spoilers Ahead*****

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Ramblings on Lincoln

"As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves." (from

The last movie I saw over winter break was Lincoln, yet another movie that was based, at least in part, by a book. In this case it's a book by Doris Kearns Goodwin called Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. A book which, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, I haven't read yet. It is on my ever growing to be read pile though, so at least that is a step in the right direction. 

As a history nerd (big, big history nerd) this movie was right up my alley. In both undergrad and graduate school my concentration focused on two things- Native American history and the time period from the Revolution to the end of the Civil War. Needless to say I have done a lot of reading and research on the time period during which this story takes place. When we decided to go see the movie I was halfway expecting to see a rehashing of things I already knew, but also excited to see if I could learn something more about Lincoln. I thought the movie was great, and Daniel Day Lewis was spectacular as Lincoln. A lot of it was stuff I already knew, but getting to see it acted out on the big screen brought an entirely new perspective to the story. We all know that Mary Todd Lincoln was a tad bit crazy, but getting to see Sally Field's portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln really gave a great insight into what the pressure of the White House did to her, and how dealing with her and their family impacted the president. 

What I particularly enjoyed about this movie was that it gave a nice inside glimpse of how congress worked back then (and still works now). Was it 100% accurate? Probably not, but the feel of it was right on. 

I loved seeing the internal struggle of both Lincoln and Thaddeus Stevens as they tried to reconcile what they were doing and what they needed to do in order to reach their end goals. It played as a story of whether or not the ends do truly justify the means. One quote by Steven's (and I'm trusting IMDB on the exact wording here) that was particularly telling was "The greatest measure of the 19th century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America." essentially admitting that yes, things were done behind the scenes that were wrong and corrupt, votes were bought and sold all over the place, but the end goal was a great one and that the smaller things that got them there, even though they were wrong, were nothing compared to the good that was done by ending slavery. Now, you argue left and right about whether Lincoln was acting outside his office as president in his actions in getting his amendment approved. In fact one of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when Lincoln essentially debates himself on that exact fact. He knows what he is doing, he is unsure of whether it is legal or not. but he has reasoned his way around to believing that regardless of whether it is right or wrong, he made his choices based on the fact that the end goal is for the betterment of the country and all it's people. Legal or not, he stands by his choices. Seeing that internal struggle was awesome. I wish there was a clip of that scene online that I could point people towards, but there's not.

As for the cast of this movie. It was really spot on as well. DDL and Field were great as the Lincolns and there was a nice balance between their personal lives and what was going on in the government. I loved James Spader as W.N. Bilbo, basically a sleeze ball hired to "persuade" congressmen to come around to Lincoln's point of view. Tommy Lee Jones was great as Steven's, who had some great moments as he went head to head with the democrats on the issue of slavery. I particularly like the moment when he acknowledged to his colleague that he was willing to compromise some of his beliefs in order to get the amendment passed. He knew that everyone was not ready to accept true equality, so he bit his cheek and went after what he knew he could get. Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one of my favorite actors, Walton Goggins, who played Clay Hutchins. A smaller part, but an important one. His character was used to show how both sides were pulling at the folks in the middle, making offers and making threats to get what they want. When it came down to it though, Hutchins voted from the heart. Many others did too, but in using Hutchins to represent the group was a nice way to show the politics that were being played out behind the scenes. 

So... this post is getting long. It could be longer still. Whenever I see a movie like this I disappear down the rabbit hole a bit as I start reading up on the major players and compare what's out there with what I saw on the screen. I'll cut it here though. This was a great movie. Beautiful to watch and fabulously acted. If you get a chance definitely go see it!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Ramblings on Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli

Hokey Pokey
By: Jerry Spinelli
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Author Website
Book Provided by: NetGalley


Welcome to Hokey Pokey. A place and a time, when childhood is at its best: games to play, bikes to ride, experiences to be had. There are no adults in Hokey Pokey, just kids, and the laws governing Hokey Pokey are simple and finite. But when one of the biggest kids, Jack, has his beloved bike stolen—and by a girl, no less—his entire world, and the world of Hokey Pokey, turns to chaos. Without his bike, Jack feels like everything has started to go wrong. He feels different, not like himself, and he knows something is about to change. And even more troubling he alone hears a faint train whistle. But that's impossible: every kid knows there no trains in Hokey Pokey, only tracks.

Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli has written a dizzingly inventive fable of growing up and letting go, of leaving childhood and its imagination play behind for the more dazzling adventures of adolescence, and of learning to accept not only the sunny part of day, but the unwelcome arrival of night, as well.

My Ramblings:
What a strange and wonderful book this is. I'm a fan of Spinelli so when I got the opportunity to pick up this book I was very excited. I'll be honest though,  this was a hard, hard book to get into. It started out almost too strange for me, in fact I wasn't even sure what I was reading. Was Jack a real boy? Was this a fantasy land? Are they toys? Who are all these kids just running around unsupervised? I almost put it down. Then I took a peak around online just to see what what others though of this book. Every where I looked people were saying the same thing I was thinking... but then they said "keep reading" "it's worth it" "it will all make sense". So I did. And it did. And it was so, so wonderful. 

****Spoilers Ahead****

My Ramblings on Les Miserables

Les Miserables
By: Victor Hugo

Summary (again, for those of you who are not theatre nerds...)

In this story of the trials of the peasant Jean Valjean--a man unjustly imprisoned, baffled by destiny, and hounded by his nemesis, the magnificently realized, ambiguously malevolent police detective Javert--Hugo achieves the sort of rare imaginative resonance that allows a work of art to transcend its genre. (from goodreads)

My Ramblings:
Just yesterday I read this article from over at Jezebel about why Tweens/teens love Les Miserables so much despite it being such a dark and depressing show.  I think they nailed it. When I was in High School I loved this show. I thought it was beautiful and heartbreaking and by god did I love Eponine. She was smart and tough and could take care of herself and she loved Marius. She dies in his arms and is happy because not only did she die saving his life, but he is there for her at the very end, to hold her close until she is gone. As she says in the show he was never her's to lose, but despite him not loving her, they were friends and he was there when it counted. What teen wouldn't love that whole story line? I even sang On My Own for every audition I ever did in High School. As an adult I was much more into the adult story lines then I was in High School. I don't remember it being so tragic because I was so focused on the love triangle that I missed everything else. Which is why I'm so glad this movie came out. 

They did a great job. The entire cast. Yes there were some very noticeable weak links. (looking at you Crowe), but by and large they all did the show justice. I thought that Anne Hathaway as Fantine was spectacular (and yes, I did cry) and Hugh Jackman's Val Jean was great. His only weak spot was the new song, Suddenly. I appreciated that they wanted to bridge that gap that existed between Val Jean taking Cosette and her being a teen, but I thought this particular song missed the mark. If you have the opportunity to write a new song, specifically for the actor who will be singing it, then there's no excuse for it to be out of his range. I thought that Jackman sounded like he was reaching for that entire song, which was unfortunate. 

The rest of the cast was great- Across the board I didn't have many complaints, I bought all of them in each of their roles. I especially liked Aaron Tveit as Enjolras and Daniel Huttlestone as Gavroche. Sometimes it's easy to forget that this little love story is occurring in the midst of a serious and bloody conflict and I thought that both characters brought you back to what was at stake really fast. Although I did really want to hear more of "Little People". 

I could probably go on and on about the cast and the sets and the costumes (which I loved), but I'll end my ramblings here instead. This is a great story and I'm so glad that everyone involved was committed to making a show that so many people love really come to life on the big screen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Ramblings on Wolf Storm by Dee Garretson

Wolf Storm 
By: Dee Garetson
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Author Website


This is Stefan's big break. He's on location in the mountains far from home for his first movie role, filming a blockbuster sci-fi adventure. The props, the spaceships, and the trained wolves on set should add up to a dream job, but acting turns out to be much tougher than he ever imagined, and he feels like his inner loser is all that's showing through. From the way his famously stuck-up co-star, Raine, treats him, he's pretty sure she thinks so too. And worst of all, no one will believe his claim that there are wild wolves haunting the forest around the set.

When a blizzard strikes, isolating the young co-stars and bringing hungry feral wolves into the open, Stefan must take on his biggest role yet--working together with his co-stars to survive. With no second takes, they only have one chance to get it right.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Dee Garretson takes suspense and danger to new heights with her thrilling tale of friendship and survival against all odds.

My Ramblings:
This was a quick and easy read that packed a punch. Centered on Stephan, a young actor taking on his first role, the story hits on a number of elements including relationships, a survival story, and him being a fish out of water and it does it all well.

The author does a nice job of weaving the story together, spending just enough time on Stephan's experiences on set, dealing with rude co-stars and the pressure of getting things right for the camera or risk losing the job. The author hints that Stephan's movie career will be a game changer for his family, his mother is home working and he is there with his aunt. His mother couldn't miss work, so it gives you sense that the money that Stephan will make will change everything for his family, even though the author never explicitly says that. It adds to the pressure that Stephan feels. The relationships that Stephan builds (or tries to avoid) during the first part of the story carry the plot believable into the "surviving a disaster" portion of the book.

As for that section- it's again really well done. Not only do Stephan and his two young co-stars (and one older co-star) survive an avalanche brought on by a blizzard, but they then have to figure out how to deal with wild wolves who are desperate for food while trying to figure out a way to get to help and safety. By keeping the time frame fairly short (a matter of days) and by referencing back to things the characters have learned about survival (like "a wild animal that will approach you in the daylight and without fear is desperate. Get away.") made it believable that these three kids could survive this disaster.

This isn't to say that they don't face serious danger. Besides the wolves there are fires, explosions, more snow, extreme cold and hunger. AND they have to find a way out since they have no way of knowing if anyone is coming for them. The only thing that irked me a little about this book is that I felt like the resolution came too quickly. There was a lot of build up and then... it was over. I won't tell you haw it all resolved, but I can say that I felt like it wrapped up to quickly and neatly for the story that came before it. Maybe that's just me as an adult reading it wanting to see more action and tragedy come out of it, so I won't knock it too much. This is a book for Middle Schoolers and in that respect it was well done. The story managed to get a lot into a short number of pages and I really appreciate that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Ramblings on Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Geek Girl
By: Holly Smale
Release Date: February 28, 2013
Author Twitter
Book Received From: Net Galley


Harriet Manners knows a lot of things. She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?
(from goodreads)

My Ramblings:

This was a really fun read. As a self-professed geek-girl myself, it was easy to relate to the main character Harriet. Although her vast knowledge of facts far outweighs mine, it was not hard to find common ground with her feelings of being the outsider, of being a little weird and wanting to be something, and someone different. 

****Spoilers Ahead***

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Ramblings on Lost in the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Lost in the River of Grass 
By: Ginny Rorby
Release Date: February 9, 2011
Author Website

Lost in a River of Grass is in the tradition of survival stories like Hatchet or On My Side of the Mountain, where the young protagonist finds herself as she struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness. In this case, the setting is the Everglades, and Sarah, the 13-year-old narrator, sneaks away from an overnight school field trip for what was supposed to be a quick air boat ride with Andy, a boy who lives in the preserve. Naturally, disaster strikes and they're forced to walk out of the Everglades (they've got a knife, a small amount of Gatorade and some suspicious Spam). The author also skillfully layers in a story about overcoming prejudice. Sarah is black and Andy is the son of a Confederate-flag waving self-described redneck. (from

My Ramblings:

This is a great book. I almost said "this is a great middle grade book" since I specifically picked this book up as I was looking for books for my library (6-8), but then I caught myself. It's a great book regardless of your age or grade. Sarah is the perfect center for this story about getting lost in the Everglades. She's smart and funny, but she's also a total outsider. The poor girl on scholarship at the fancy school- personally I liked that she was on an athletic scholarship (for swimming) instead of a financial one. It highlighted her strengths and still made it clear that she was outside the group.

The book starts with Sarah going on a field trip with her class into the Everglades. She's feeling left out and alone and skips a part of the field trip which is where the entire adventure really begins. Instead of sitting alone in her room she meets a boy named Andy who is just as alone as she is and together they decide to have some fun and go on an air boat ride. When the boat sinks they are forced to face their fears, lean on each other and find their way home.

Interwoven into the lost in the wilderness story is also a story about overcoming prejudice and stereotypes. Sarah is black and Andy's father is an ex-con who doesn't hide his hatred for anyone who isn't just like him. In the end Sarah and Andy don't just save each other, but they teach everyone around them about accepting people for who they are.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Ramblings on Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut

Finn Finnegan 
By: Darby Karchut
Release Date: March 2013
Author Website


Finn (not bleedin' Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.

Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn's survival. Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of "fighting Irish."
(from Goodreads)

My Ramblings:

I could keep this short and sweet and call it a day with one sentence. I could just say Darby writes another winner and leave the rest of you to ponder why this book is a winner. I won't do that, but I will try to keep it concise. This is another fabulous book by Darby Karchut, again set in Colorado and revolving around a young boy who is just beginning to find out who he is and what he can be. (side note- you've all read The Griffin books right? If not, get on that.)

****Warning: Spoilers Ahead****

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Ramblings on The Hobbit

Everyone has holiday traditions- one of ours is to go see as many movies as we can during our week off. It's a little harder to see a bunch of movies now that we've got the kiddo at home, but I still managed to squeeze 3 in. And every one of them were based on books. The first movie I saw was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and it was great! 

In case you are not a total Hobbit/LOTR nerd like I am...

The Hobbit
By: JRR Tolkien
Release Date: First published in 1937
Movie Website

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

My Ramblings:
I last read the Hobbit a few years ago. I intentionally didn't reread it before seeing the movie because I knew that the movie was going to be different then the book. For one, the story is being broken into three movies. Secondly, in order to accomplish that feat, Peter Jackson mined some of Tolkien's other works. It was great to walk into the theater both knowing exactly what was going to happen and knowing that I would be surprised. How often does that happen?  

This movie definitely did not disappoint. It was great to see familiar faces like Frodo and Galadriel make an appearance and exciting to get to see new characters come to life. There were a few absolute standouts for me. Martin Freeman as Bilbo was perfect. It was great to see how the whole story began, to see him start to write it all down for Frodo and to go from being a reluctant hobbit to flying out the door to go on an adventure! The other standout was Richard Armitage as Thorin. He was fabulous as he tried to lead the Dwarves on what might be an impossible journey. He is hesitant about bringing Bilbo along at first, but he trust Gandalf enough to take the chance, and by the end of this first installment he is beginning to see why Gandalf was so confident that Bilbo would be a good addition to the party. 

This section ends before they reach Erebor and have to face off against Smaug, but there was still plenty of action as they went up again Orcs and Trolls and Bilbo has a battle of wits with Gollum. I personally can't wait until the next installment comes out, but it will be a wait. The Desolation of Smaug will hit theaters in December of 2013 and There and Back Again won't be out until July of 2014. Until then I'll be rereading the Hobbit and taking a little trip into The Similarion and the Appendices to The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy to see if I can find some of the new additions that were made for the movie. It will be a grand adventure indeed.