Monday, October 28, 2013

Music Monday: OSU Marching Band

This week I am sharing the Ohio State halftime show from the OSU vs. Penn State game last weekend.  The theme was Hollywood Blockbusters and it is one of the best performances I have seen in a while.  I am sure you will agree, unless you are a Michigan fan :)

Go Bucks!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is about a set of eighteen year old identical twins, Cath and Wren, who are starting their first year of college.  They both wrote Simon Snow fan fiction growing up and have a large following.  Wren decides to move on to boys, drinking, and partying once she is on campus, while Cath is still living her life via the Internet.  She attends her classes, but she would rather spend her free time locked in her dorm room writing about Simon Snow.

Cath's roommate, Reagan, is a junior and eventually starts to help Cath come out of her shell.  Cath  becomes friends with Reagan's ex-high school boyfriend Levi, which becomes a little awkward as Cath realizes they may be more than just friends.  Levi is the complete opposite of Cath.  He is very outgoing and friendly.  Cath thinks that because he is two years older he is far more worldly and experienced than she is. There is no way they could have anything in common, right? WRONG....

The one thing that I really liked about this story is that it isn't a "boy meets girl they fall instantly in love" sort of story.  Levi and Cath are friends.  They have issues like everyone, but they learn from their mistakes and grow from them in the process.  I was "rooting for them" (if you have read the understand the significance of that sentence) and I was very happy with how it ended.

At the end of every chapter there was an excerpt from one of the Simon Snow books or from some of Cath and Wren's fan fiction.  Cath also reads several sections of her fan fiction to Levi throughout the book.  It was interesting to hear parts of the story, but I found them to be rather confusing.  Do these books really exist?  Maybe it is because I don't know the story or the characters that I couldn't really appreciate those sections as much as I probably should have.

I did love the rest of the story about Cath, Wren, Reagan, and Levi.  They are all such different characters, but they all needed each other in some fashion.  This is the first book of Rainbow's that I have read.  I really enjoyed her writing style and will definitely read more of her books in the futures.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Double Crossed by Ally Carter

This novella is book 2.5 in the Heist Society series and 5.5 in the Gallagher Girls series.  I have read all three of the Heist Society books, but I have only read the first two GG books so far.  I tweeted Ally to make sure I wouldn't encounter any spoilers since I do plan on completing the GG series.  She said there could be a very minor spoiler, but I probably wouldn't recognize it as such.  I couldn't wait any longer for another dose of Hale, so I decided to go ahead and read Double Crossed.

Macey and her parents are attending a party in New York along with the Hales.  All of society's elite are in attendance, which is how the characters from Heist Society and GG cross paths.

This is a rather substantial story for a novella at about 45 pages.  It contains completely new content, which is a major bonus.  It seems like so many novellas simply retell a scene from another character's point of view. That is a nice way to share additional information about another character, but I found this to be far more enjoyable.

It was interesting to see how spies and thieves could work together in a time of need.  They both have a unique skill set that complements each other very nicely.  I would definitely read another Spies and Thieves story if Ally decides to write one in the future.

If you haven't read any of Ally's books, I really think you can read this short story to get a taste of her writing style and characters.  There are minor references to events in her other books, but I wouldn't consider them spoilers.  It is available for FREE at both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Free Four by Veronica Roth

This is a short story.  When I say short, I mean REALLY short.  Veronica retells one of the Divergent initiation/training scenes from Four's perspective.  I thought the story was very well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Four's thoughts.  I never would have guessed what was going through his mind at the time and I actually developed a better understanding and appreciation of his character.  I always thought that he was a bit standoffish.  Sort of hard and lacking feeling, which couldn't have been further from the truth.

I am extremely happy that I read this before reading Allegiant.  I have already pre-ordered Allegiant and was ECSTATIC to see that it will be told with an alternating point of view.  We will finally get to experience the story from both Tris and Four's perspective.

I gave Free Four 4* simply because it was so short.  The story itself was worthy of 5*, but I was expecting more.  The entire ebook is only 43 pages and contains the first 2 chapters of both Divergent and Insurgent.  There was also an intro from Veronica about why she wrote this short story and how she ultimately selected the scene that she did.  There was only about 12 pages of new content, which would have been extremely disappointing if I had purchased this instead of downloading it from the library.  Since it was form the library, I took it for what it was and I am now ready for Allegiant.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves is the second book in the Raven Cycle series.  The series is about a few boys from Aglionby Academy, a private boarding school, who are looking for Glendower, an ancient Welsh king, who they believe is buried somewhere near their school in the town of Henrietta.  Gansey has spent the better part of his seventeen years researching and traveling the world in pursuit of Glendower.  He came to Aglionby Academy solely because of its location on the ley line, an electrically charged current, which is where Glendower is believed to be buried.

As I noted in my review of The Raven Boys, I felt the first two thirds of that book were very slow.  The ending, however, was action packed and left me anxiously anticipating the release of this book.  While The Dream Thieves did not take off with the same energy level, I did not find this book to be slow in the least.

The focus of this book was more on Gansey's roommate Ronan and his family.  We discover why he has a long history of insomnia and why his father felt it was important to teach his boys how to fight.  We also discover why his father left a large share of his estate to his sons, but forbid them from ever returning to their family home.

There is a new character who is referred to as The Gray Man.  He was hired by someone several years ago to find the Greywaren.  He has no idea what the Graywaren is, but he believes it is in Henrietta because of the same electrical charge The Raven Boys are tracking.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  Since the very beginning of this series, I have been on Team Gansey.  I love his character and hope the psychic's predictions are 100% incorrect.  There needs to be a loop hole for him as well as Blue.

The ending was very mysterious.  Once again, Maggie did not leave many clues as to what direction the story will take next.  I think the Raven Boys quest may expand to include one additional element, but this is purely speculation on my part.  I will definitely read the next book in the series as soon as it is released.  I desperately want to know what happens next for Gansey, Blue, and the rest of the Raven Boys.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Teardrop by Lauren Kate

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

Teardrop by Lauren Kate
Release Date: October 22, 2013

TeardropI'm not exactly waiting for this book because I received an advanced copy at the RT convention, but I haven't read it yet.  I was waiting until closer to the release date to start reading it.  It really isn't any fun for readers to see a 5 star review for a book they can't get for several months, so I try not to do that.

I read all of Lauren Kate's Fallen series and found it to be really slow until the final book.  I am really hoping this series takes off much faster than that.  If not, I'm not sure I will continue with the series....but I feel like I have to give it a try.

Goodreads Overview:

Never, ever cry. . . . Eureka Boudreaux's mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn't, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before.

But Ander doesn't know Eureka's darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance—a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth . . . and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined. From Lauren Kate comes an epic saga of heart-stopping romance, devastating secrets, and dark magic . . . a world where everything you love can be washed away.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Music Monday: New Constellation by Toad The Wet Sprocket

Toad was one of my absolute favorite bands when I was in high school and college.  (Yes...I am dating myself, I know)  I saw them play at Ohio University when I was a freshman and absolutely LOVED the show.

When they announced they were releasing their first album in 16 years and touring again, I was ecstatic.  I immediately bought tickets to the concert in Cincinnati on November 19th and downloaded the title track for their new album.

I have been counting down the days until October 15th, which is FINALLY almost here.  By tomorrow at this time, I will have their latest album on my iPhone ready for my morning commute.

This gives me over a month to learn all of the new songs before I see them in Cincinnati.  I hate going to concerts and not knowing all of the songs, so this is PERFECT.  

For more information about the album and to listen to New Constellation and California Wasted, visit their website.

New Constellation cover art

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels is the third book in the Heist Society series and is definitely my favorite so far.  First, I will start with the cover.  We have been able to see what Kat looks like from the very beginning, but we get our first glimpse at Hale...who I absolutely love.  The only problem is...we have learned from the very beginning of this series that what is shown in Kat's glasses is what they need to steal.  Book 1 she sees a painting, Book 2 it is an emerald, but how can Hale be the mark?

Towards the beginning of the book Hale's grandmother passes away and he inherits Hale Industries, passing over his father W.W Hale the fourth, even though he is a minor.  From the time the will is read, Marcus believes the will was tampered with and Hazel's wishes are not being carried out.  Kat doesn't want to hurt Hale, but she believes Marcus and takes on the job of finding the real will.

Kat and Hale later discover that Hale Industries has been working on a prototype of a new energy product that should generate a fortune for the company.  The problem is, someone has stolen it and the plans and replaced it with a fake.  As Hale begins to spiral out of control, Kat realizes that successfully completing this job is not just about saving Hale Industries, but Hale himself.  If she wants to save the boy she loves, she needs to complete the biggest job of her life.

This is the first book in which we get to meet Hale's family.  Every family has its secrets, but the Hale's appear to have more than most.  It doesn't take long to discover why Hale didn't really fit in and fled with Kat two years ago.

There will be a fourth book in the series, but it is currently unnamed and doesn't have a scheduled release date.  If it is on schedule with the prior release dates, it should come out around February 2014.  With the release of the final Gallagher Girls book earlier this month, Ally announced that she is currently working on a new series titled Embassy Row, which will come out sometime in 2015.  Hopefully there will still be plenty of additional Heist Society books in the future as well.