Guest Post: The Help (Book to Movie Review)

We would like to thank our friend Abby for bailing us out on this book to movie review! She fits right in here at ISRBR... mother of 4, avid reader and dessert extraordinaire (although, Kelli and myself are more into taste testing sweets versus creating them)!               ~Natalie
The Help is one of my favorite books so I could not wait to see it on the big screen!   Anytime a book is turned into a movie, there’s a lot of pressure for it to be how we envisioned it while reading the book.  Fortunately, the movie lived up to the book!  There were no major changes and it followed closely with the book.
Normally when I hate a book to movie, the casting is to blame.  I really think they did a phenomenal job casting The Help.  Emma Stone as Skeeter was spot on.  My one gripe is her hair.  It was too pretty.  Skeeter’s crazy frizzball mess of hair played a major part in who she was, so for them to give her pretty hair was puzzling to me.  Kathryn Stockett based the character of Minny on the actress who played her in the movie, so Minny of course was superb!  I do wish a little more of Celia’s story was shown in the movie.  Her storyline was one of my favorites in the book.  Jessica Chastain embodied the ditzy naive Celia perfectly.  I also wanted to see more of her interaction with Minny.  Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly was perfection.  I hated that snotty girl even more on screen.   She makes me want to cuss!  I’d like to feed her the whole dang pie!  I loved seeing Aibileen with the adorable Mae Mobley, but there weren’t nearly enough scenes with them together.  Now my one serious, serious gripe is the casting of Constantine’s daughter.  I can’t figure out why they would change a detail so important as her skin color, especially within the context of this particular book.  Overall though, it was a great movie!
I will definitely watch this movie again when it comes out on DVD.

Book Review: Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse #11) by Charlaine Harris

With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but her attention is divided when she realizes that her lover Eric Northman and his "child" Pam are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, Sookie is drawn into the plot-which is much more complicated than she knows...
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Age Group:  Adult
Publisher:  Ace
Source:  Purchased

Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series is one of my all-time favorite series.  But, something was lacking for me with Dead Reckoning.  The book was a very slow starter.  The day-to-day happenings of Sookie's life, interspersed with moments of intense violence, did not make for an easy read.  I was bored by the first part of the book, and by the time the action started, I was not emotionally invested in the outcome.  Someone wants to kill Sookie---this is the plot of every Sookie book and it's starting to get old.  

My complaint about Dead in the Family was that the book was dark.  And my complaint about Dead Reckoning is that the book felt sad.  Sookie is not the same girl she was at the beginning of the series---how could she be?---and the writing reflects that.  I think that Sookie is having trouble mentally reconciling the fact that her life will never be normal.  She wants to be normal, but she never will be.  She has a unique gift and is a key player in paranormal politics.  But so much has happened since she first met Bill.  She has loved, lost and loved again.  So many people have died...she has been a part of so much violence.  Sookie is forever changed, and I find myself hoping that she could just find love, true love, and run away from the paranormal world as a whole.

Dead Reckoning contained a conclusion to an important story line: Sandra Pelt.  Finally, we are through with the Pelts!  I was so tired of waiting for Sandra to show up and kill Sookie.  I also really liked the cameo by Lily and Jack.  I loved their series and enjoy seeing them make an appearance in the Sookie books.

The relationship between Eric and Pam is strained.  So is, for that matter, the relationship between Eric and Sookie.  Which, for me, was okay.  I still believe that Sookie and Sam will end up together, and have started to emotionally distance myself from Eric (who used to be my favorite character).  What I really want to know is, how many more books will be in this series?  I need to know when the story is going to end!  It feels like it's time for things to come to a close.   


100 Most Popular YA Books

I saw this list at The Book Vixen and wanted to see how many of the most popular YA books I have read.  The books I've read are in bold.  
  1. Alex Finn – Beastly
  2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
  3. Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
  4. Ally Condie – Matched
  5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
  7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
  9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
  12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
  13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
  16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
  17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)
  18. Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
  19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
  20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
  21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
  22. Ellen Hopkins - Impulse
  23. Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
  25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
  26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
  27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
  28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
  29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
  31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
  33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
  34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
  37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
  38. John Green – Paper Towns
  39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
  40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
  41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
  42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
  43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
  44. Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
  45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
  46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
  47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
  49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
  50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
  52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief
  53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
  54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
  56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
  57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
  58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  60. Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now
  61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
  63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
  64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
  67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
  68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
  69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
  71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
  72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
  74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere Carnal Over 40 Winks
  79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
  80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
  81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
  82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
  83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
  84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2)
  86. Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3)
  87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
  88. Shannon Hale - Princess Academy
  89. Shannon Hale - The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4) 
  90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
  92. Stephenie Meyer – The Host
  93. Stephenie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
  94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
  95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
  96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
  97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
  99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
  100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped
I've read 36 out of the 100 books/series.  Looks like I have some new additions to my TBR list!  How many of these books have you read?

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Review copy from publisher

I have so many feelings about The Scorpio Races.  On one hand, I enjoyed the book.  On the other hand, I was still harboring disillusionment over the ending of Forever that it tempered my enjoyment of The Scorpio Races.  I kept saying to myself: "I'm reading about horses that eat people and I still don't know if the cure worked on Grace!!!"  In the end, I was able to overcome my lingering negative feelings (no pun intended) about the end of Steifvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series to really enjoy, and furthermore, appreciate The Scorpio Races.

Going off of the summary, I thought that this book would be about horses and racing.  For some odd reason, I thought it was a dystopia.  It is not---I have yet to learn the actual classification--but for me, it was a paranormal fiction.

The idea of water horses is very unique.  I have never heard of them before, with the exception of traditional sea horses with curly tails.  But these are no benign, cute sea horses.  These are normal looking horses, with the exception of square pupils, that live in the sea and once a year, come out of the water to live on land until the sea calls them back.  The water horses are only found on the island of Thisby.  The men of the island catch the water horses and race them every year.  This is the main event of the island, but the races are dangerous: riders who fall from their horses are either dragged into the sea and drowned or they are eaten by the horses.  The facts surrounding the sea horses were murky for much of the book.  Steifvater clues you in bit by bit (something that usually keeps me interested but in this case made me want to stop reading in frustration).

At the end of the book, there is an Author's Note where Steifvater talks about why she wrote about sea horses and the mythology the capall usice are based on.  I found myself wishing I would have read the Author's Note first.  I think it would have made me like the book more.  As it was, I kept stumbling over the words: capall uisce (the proper name for the water horses).  I had no idea how to pronounce the words and kept wondering how I should be saying it, instead of just pronouncing it phonetically.  Finally, a character sounds the words out and I learned how I should be saying capall uisce to myself.  But, by then it was too late and I was already in the habit of mispronouncing the words. 

The best part of The Scorpio Races was the emotion.  Similar to The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, The Scorpio Races is highly emotional and intense.  Stiefvater sets the scene so that you really feel like you are there.  Everything was described in detail: from the water horses themselves, to the townspeople, to Thisby's beach and weather.  This kind of description makes for an emotional and intense read.  My most favorite part of the book was the very end.  I love what Corr does!!  It made me tear up.  I also really liked that The Scorpio Races was a stand-alone novel.  I love having closure, not having to wait for months to years to find out what happens.  Steifvater resolves the conflict in a way that satisfied me, and I was left feeling moderately happy (it's hard to feel 100% happy in the midst of people dying).

Fans of Steifvater will love The Scorpio Races.  People who are on the fence with Maggie's books will most likely enjoy this one.  

Book Review: Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Chocolate by Caedem Marquez

Can chocolate heal a broken heart?

In the three years since the love of her life, Jonathan, died, Rachel McDaniel, 39, has lost her love for life. She busies her life by working in her chocolate shop and visiting Jonathan’s grave each morning.

Rachel thinks she is happy with her hermetic lifestyle until one day a handsome writer, Daniel Martinez, walks into her shop. Suddenly, chocolate isn’t the only thing on her mind.

Even as Rachel and Daniel learn to love each other, Rachel also learns to live again as more people enter her life and her once solitary existence bursts with new friends, such as Sister Mary from the local church, and Jake, an acquaintance and single father. But not everybody is a welcome newcomer. Matthew, a mysterious church volunteer, looks with disdain every time he sees Rachel, and soon the contempt is mutual.

However, not everything is as it seems, and as Rachel experiences both the joy and heart break that comes with opening her life to the world around her, she begins a trek down an unexpected path that will lead not only to pain, but also to a surprise place full of love and healing.

Release Date: August 31, 2011
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from author

This book was an unexpected treat!  I went into it feeling ambivalent, based on the summary and cover, and ended up really enjoying the book.  I liked Rachel from the first line of the book, and liked her even more the more I read.  I read this book in two sittings because I just couldn't wait to find out how Rachel's story would end.

I have to admit that I fell for Daniel right away, right along with Rachel.  I really thought they were meant for each other.  I loved the development of their relationship---it was love at first sight, which is something I don't usually like, but I liked it here.  Rachel was always so excited to see him, which was so sweet.

I also enjoyed reading about the day-to-day running of a chocolate shop.  I have always been a chocolate lover, from my very first taste of chocolate, so I really identified with Rachel there.  She was an artist of sorts, and I thought that part of the book was very well done.

But my favorite part about this book was Rachel's devotion to Jonathan.  She honors his memory daily---but it's to the point that she can't move on to her life.  I loved that she loved him so completely.  It made me like her as a character.  I also liked how she overcame her struggle with honoring Jonathan's memory while allowing herself to fall in love and be happy again.

I liked the ending of the book and found it believable.  I was rooting for Rachel all along and delighted in her happiness.  Overall, I really enjoyed Life, Love and the Pursuit of Chocolate and would definitely read more from Caedem Marquez in the future.  

Why I Did Not Read Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead recently released the last book in her Georgina Kincaid series: Succubus Revealed.  Just typing that title makes me think of my husband yelling out, "SUCC-U-BUS!!!" whenever he catches a glimpse of one of the Georgina books. He thinks that the titles are hilarious and makes fun of me to no end for reading the Georgina series.  Now, I did buy and read the first five books in the series.  See my reviews here:
But, when I moved into my new house three weeks ago, I decided to donate the Georgina books to my local library.  I have decided to only keep books that I love, books that I want to read again.  And while I did read the first five Georgina Kincaid books, I do not want to ever read them again.  And I was not of a mind to spend the money on the last book, not when I've never really liked Georgina.  When she started taking away pieces of Seth's soul just to have the pleasure of touching him, I lost what little positive regard I used to have for her.  I'm usually not one to give up on a series, especially right at the end like this, but in lieu of reading Succubus Revealed, I read a bunch of spoiler-y reviews on Goodreads.  And, frankly, they told me all I needed to know.  Maybe it's me, but I never did get into this series.  It doesn't hold a candle, or even a half-burned flickering match to Mead's other books. 
Have you read the Georgina Kincaid series?  What did you think of it?

Book Review: Heroes 'Til Curfew (Talent Chronicles #2) by Susan Bischoff

In the world of the Talents, kids with supernatural powers are condemned to government research facilities from which they do not return. For a Talent, the most important thing is keeping the secret…

--Six weeks ago, Dylan Maxwell slugged it out with his best friend. Over a girl.

But Marco had it coming. After all, it looked like he was going to use his supernatural strength to kill Joss Marshall. That should have been the end of it, but Marco’s got bigger plans for crime in Fairview than Dylan ever understood. This time he’s going after the town’s merchants with a crime wave that threatens Joss’s family’s business and all the Talents’ secrets.

--Six weeks ago, Joss Marshall was alone.

Now there’s Dylan. It’s not always comfortable being just friends with the guy she’s had a crush on forever. And the more she learns about the boy with the easy smile, who always seems to know what to say, the more she learns how much they have in common. He’s so much more than she understood, and so much more than she could stand to lose.

That was then, this is now.

And now, everything changes.
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from author

I really enjoyed Hush Money (Talent Chronicles #1) so I jumped at the chance to review Heroes 'Til Curfew.  And while I did like the book, I liked Hush Money better.  

I love the premise of the Talents.  I think the varying Superman-like abilities add such a good twist to the story.  I liked how the Talents teamed up to fight the bad guys together.  I liked the twist about the mole and Mr. Dobbs, which was surprising.  I couldn't believe how evil Marco and his cronies truly were.  I liked the sense of justice Bischoff imbues in her writing: everyone usually gets what's coming to them.  I love that!  I really liked Joss and Dylan in the first book and thought their mutual crushes on each other were sweet.  I liked seeing their relationship develop into something more.  I also really liked that Bischoff's characters did not automatically rebound from adversity.  They had some trouble dealing with things, which was totally believable and realistic. 

I felt like Heroes 'Til Curfew was a little too adult to be classified as a YA read.  There were some pretty graphic (and long) fight scenes, and a lot of bad language.  The bad language got old for me, and it had me wondering if teens really talk/think like that?  I know I sure didn't talk like that when I was a teen---or now---and that kind of language cheapens a book for me.  Yes, I am an established prude: see my post about my prudishness here

Overall, I liked Heroes 'Til Curfew, although not as much as its predecessor, Hush Money.  I will definitely keep reading the series, and look forward to seeing how Joss and Dylan's stories end.