Month in Review: March 2012

March was a busy reading month for me.  I did a lot of reading, but not as much reviewing as I needed to.

Book Reviews Posted:
Book to Movie Reviews Posted:
  • One for the Money was just as good as the book, and I sure hope they keep making movies based on Janet Evanovich's bestselling series.
  • The Lorax was a huge hit for Natalie and her kids.
  •  I finally watched The Help and loved it!
  •  Breaking Dawn: Part 1 was just as good as I thought it would be, if not better.
Other Posts:
How was your March?

Stephenie Meyer Update

So, after 10 months of inactivity, Stephenie Meyer has finally updated her personal website.  I regularly check her site for all things Twilight and thought, after going so long with no posts or any news at all, that the site was dead in the water.  I was happy to see her finally posting again and eagerly read her posts on The Host movie, Austenland, and Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and Breaking Dawn: Part 2.  

Read her latest posts here:
The Host News  (The Host has an official release date of March 29, 2013!!)
Austenland News
Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2 news

In other exciting news, Stephenie Meyer confirms that if she ever does write another Twlight book, both Lionsgate and Summit are willing to make a sixth Twilight movie!  Don't you think a book from Renesmee's point-of-view would be great?

Book Review: Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker

Can love really heal all things? If Sam Carroll hadn't shown up, she might have been able to get to her mother in time. Instead, Allie Everly finds herself at a funeral, mourning the loss of her beloved mother. She is dealt another blow when, a few hours later, she is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Beatrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept. Poetry and letters written to her mother become the only things keeping Allie's heart from hardening completely. But then Sam arrives for the summer, and with him comes many confusing emotions, both toward him and the people around her. As World War II looms, Allie will be forced to decide whether hanging on to the past is worth losing her chance to be loved.

Release Date: February 14, 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Zondervan
Source: Review copy from publisher

Historical, Christian fiction---one of my favorite genres!  I went into Interrupted with very little expectations, as I had forgotten what the story was about from the time I accepted the review copy to the time I finally got to sit down and read.  I like when I can go into a book totally open-minded.

My husband asked me, "What book are you reading?"  I answered him, telling him about the book, and he said, "What, no werewolves, aliens, futuristic setting, dystopia, or vampires?  I didn't know you still read "regular" books!"  And I answered, "Yes, I do and this book right here is why----it is so good!"

I was drawn into the story from the very first page.  I really felt for Allie, a 14 year-old having to completely care for her sick mother.  Allie and her mother are separated from everyone and live a sheltered existence.  Allie's only friend is her neighbor Sam Carroll, whom she considers to be a nuisance as he is always following her around.  Then, one day, an accident happens, which leads to her mother's death.  Allie blames Sam, and is sent to Maine to be adopted by a stranger.  Allie's heart is as hard as stone, as she never fully recovers from the loss of her mother.  Her only comfort is her art: she draws and writes poetry.

Overall, I loved the story, and Allie's growth.  The first person narrative gave so much insight into Allie's thoughts, which really added a lot of depth to the story.  I thought her coming to Christ experience was very sweet and well-handled.  I also loved the poems by Emily Dickinson at the beginning of each chapter, which really set the tone for the book.

My only complaint was that some of the vernacular did not sound appropriate to the time period.  There were a couple of times while reading that I thought, "what?  That doesn't sound like something someone who lived in the 1940's would say." Not that I have any personal experience, but just through my love of historical fiction, some of the language did not feel time-appropriate.

Overall, I loved Interrupted. I stayed up late reading because I just had to know how it ended.  I loved the ending and the fact that things weren't 100% perfect for each and every character, because it was so realistic.  I would recommend this book to fans of Christian fiction, and fans of historical fiction. 

Book to Movie Review: Breaking Dawn: Part 1

I saw Breaking Dawn: Part 1 at the theater but never got down to writing a review for it.  After finally receiving my Blu-Ray version from Amazon (I'm not going to forget my disappointment when they didn't pre-ship for a LONG time), I decided a review was overdue.  

I have loved all of the Twilight movies, despite the criticism they have received.  I think that Breaking Dawn: Part 1 was the best one so far, although there is a special place in my heart for the first movie.  Seeing the characters I loved so much come to life for the first time was so special.  I'll never forget how I felt the first time I saw Rob Pattinson as Edward!

I thought that this movie could have felt slow, but the director managed to keep it exciting and full of action (even though some of that action was not found in the original story, grrr).  I was so happy that there was not part of the movie narrated from Jacob's perspective, like there is in the book.  I think it would have really slowed the movie down and changed the tone of it completely. 

My favorite part of the movie was the wedding: Bella and Edward have been heading towards that wedding since Edward walked into the cafeteria in Twilight.  Didn't Bella look so beautiful?  Although I did enjoy the honeymoon too...   

I loved the special effects, especially the way Bella looked while pregnant.  She was scary!  And I loved the way they handled her transformation.  She looked like Snow White: so beautiful!  But one question---has Kristen Stewart always been this tiny?  She is so, so small.  I could not believe how thin she looked in her wedding dress and in her swimsuit on the honeymoon. 

Overall, I loved Breaking Dawn: Part 1.  I can't wait for part two---just the flash-forwards we got of Renesmee were tantalizing and I want to see more of her, and Bella as a vampire!

Book Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Release Date:  February 14, 2012
Age Group:  MG/YA
Publisher:  Knopf books
Source:  NetGalley

I saw this book on NetGalley and wasn't sure if I should request it or not.  I was afraid it would be overwhelmingly sad, and I like to keep my reading happy and light.  But, just from reading the summary, I had to know more about August and his story and decided to request the book.

And I'm so glad I did, because Wonder was an excellent read.  It is told from several points-of-view, which I love because I really got to know several of the characters.  I loved reading about the same events from different points-of-view.  It's neat to see how different people view the same event.  Everyone has their own interpretation of things.

Wonder answers the question: how does it feel to be the person other people stare at?  The one that causes people do a double-take when they see you?  Everyone has probably seen someone different and looked twice, or looked from the corner of their eye (to keep from staring).  August catches all of these looks, as well as ugly comments, and nothing escapes his notice.  To see how much people's reactions affect August and his family was truly heart-breaking.    

I went from laughing on one page to crying on the next, this book was that emotional.  I was in awe of August's strength of character and unfailing positive outlook (as well as his parents').

I thought that Wonder would feel very young, since it is written mainly from a 10-year-old's point of view, but it did not.  August is mature for his age and his voice was sometimes young, but sometimes much older than a 10 year-old's should be.  He has to grow up fast due to his abnormalities and his narrative voice reflects that.

The book ends on a positive note, although that did not stop me from crying yet again, just due to how emotional the book was on the whole.  I loved it and think everyone should read about August!

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop Winners

 The hop has ended and it's time to announce our three winners!

Congratulations to:

and Tracy

You each won a stamped lucky penny and bookmark.  We've emailed you the details and you have three days to respond and claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who visited I'd So Rather Be Reading for this giveaway!

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

We are excited to be a part of the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!  Many thanks to I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, Books Complete Me, and Author Cindy Thomas for hosting this fun giveaway.

Click here to visit the other blogs on the hop!

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, three lucky winners will receive a St. Patty's Bookmark and a stamped "Lucky" penny (pictured below).

Book to Movie Review: The Help

I have been wanting to see The Help for months now but missed it at the movies.  Having absolutely loved the book, I felt sure that the movie adaptation would be just as good.  Read my review of the novel by Kathryn Stockett here.  

I watched The Help during my 11-month old's naptime, which meant that I watched it with subtitles to keep the volume down.  I think I got more out of the movie that way.  Some of the dialogue was difficult to understand, and watching with subtitles meant that I didn't miss a word.

Of course, there were some changes from the book to the movie version, but they did not bother me too much.  I did feel like some of the important scenes were omitted from the movie, especially the part about Minnie and the miscarried baby.  

The casting was excellent and everyone did such a good job.  I especially loved Viola Davis as Abilene and Octavia Spencer as Minnie.  And Emma Stone is such a good little actress!  I have really enjoyed all of her movies to date.  Allison Janney was a perfect Mrs. Phelan and I thought her scenes were some of the movie's best.

The movie adaptation was not as good as the book (which was just outstanding) but it was still a really good movie.  I enjoyed it a lot, and think just about anyone would like it.  It is a powerful movie that really makes you think about what it was like to live through the Civil Rights movement.

Did Not Finish Review: Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot

Katie Ellison is not a liar. 

But she can't exactly tell the truth, either—not when she's juggling two boyfriends, secretly hating the high school football team everyone else worships, and trying to have the best summer ever. At least Katie has it all under control (sort of). Her biggest secret, what really happened the night Tommy Sullivan is a freak was spray-painted on the junior high gymnasium wall, is safe. 

That is, until Tommy comes back to town. Katie is sure he's going to ruin all her plans, and she'll do anything to hang on to her perfect existence. Even if it means telling more lies. Even if, now that Tommy's around, she's actually—truthfully—having the time of her life. 

Release Date: May 1, 2007
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Library

I've read three Meg Cabot books now, and remain unconvinced as to her status as the unofficial queen of teen lit.  I was wholly unimpressed with Insatiable (although I was in the minority there), although I did really enjoy Size 12 is Not FatPants on Fire did absolutely nothing for me, and I stopped reading about 50 pages in.  

I could not identify with Katie, our narrator, not in the least.  I just can't like someone who unashamedly lies so much and cheats on her boyfriend.  When I got the feeling she was going to start fooling around (apparently if you are just consistently making out but not going any further, it's okay) with three guys at once, I was done.

Pants on Fire is written in a gossipy, girl-talk kind of style.  That made the writing feel very young for me, and was another turn-off.  I have to really be in the mood for that type of writing, and I just was not.  So, my problems with Pants on Fire were probably partially my own and partially the fault of the book.

I am willing to read more from Meg Cabot but will definitely be getting her books from the library---she has not earned "buy" status from me yet.


I've been tagged...

Angie at Angels are Kids and Furkids tagged me to answer a set of questions.  I usually don't take the time for these kinds of posts, but I liked the questions so here you go:

Do you have a favorite book?  If so which one?
Ken Follett's World Without End. Read my review here.

Where do you think your love of reading stems from?  Or how did you come to love reading?
I have always loved reading, from the first day I learned how to read.  It has always been my favorite activity: I used to ask friends over to "read" instead of play!

When you have "down time" what do you enjoy doing most?
Besides reading, watching TV.  I follow several series.

Would you ever own a black vehicle?  Why or why not?  (lol, sorry this just popped into my head here)
I currently own an Acura MDX, which I love, but my next car will not be black: it's too hard to keep clean!

What is your favorite animal?  Why?
My favorite animal is my cat, Bella (whom I named before the Twilight craze, by the way).  She is a Russian Blue and has the most beautiful silvery-gray fur and green eyes.  She is so loyal and loving.  She loves to sit in my lap while I read.

Do you have an author whose work you read no matter what?  (even if it is a book that doesn't look good to you?)
Yes, I have several: Richelle Mead, Stephenie Meyer, Ken Follett, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa Marr.  Also Charlaine Harris, Karen Moning and Kim Harrison.

If you could be a super hero, which one would you chose to be?
Probably one who could fly.  So I guess that would be Superman?  I wouldn't want to change genders, so maybe I could be Superwoman?

If you could have any house you wanted, money is no object, what kind would you build or buy?
Oh geez, don't get me started.  I think about this all the time!  One with a proper mudroom comes to mind, and an exercise room and library.  No carpet, and lots of  hardwood floors (provided someone else will be cleaning them!).

What state have you always wanted to visit?  Have you been there yet?
Hawaii and not yet, but I hope that my husband will take me one day.

What's your favorite movie?
That's easy.  The 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. I watch it about once a month: I just can't get enough of Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy.

What is your "ritual" when you settle in to read?
Get my water, call my cat to come get in my lap, put my feet up and dive in! 

Book to Movie Review: The Lorax

This is a MUST-SEE family movie! We went as a family to watch The Lorax opening day (in costume of course) and were not disappointed. I caught every one of us laughing at some point. It has a great little message about recycling and taking care of our environment and it was also quirky and had great characters. I will definitely buy this movie to add to our family collection.

Since the movie opened on Dr. Seuss' 50th Birthday Celebration, we had a VERY Seussical day! My daughter's school celebrated the day with all kinds of fun activities and of course I had to have costumes for all my kids :) I was the proud momma of a Zlock from behind our clock (A Wocket in my Pocket), a Sneetch (Sneetches) and a Who from Whooville (Horton Hears a Who). My baby's shirt said "A Person's a Person No Matter How Small". And I must note that I made these costumes WITHOUT Pinterest... I know, I know it is hard to swallow but true.

Book Review: The Body Finder (The Body Finder #1) by Kimberly Derting

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

Release Date: March 16, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Library

I've been hearing great things about The Body Finder for years now and was excited to see that my library had an eBook available.  While I've read many positive reviews on the book, I never really read the summary or even knew exactly what the book was about, so I went into the book without a lot of expectations.

My favorite thing about The Body Finder was the sweet, sweet relationship between Violet and Jay.  They were so cute together!  Their transition from best friends to something more was so well done.  The tension was palpable, and I loved the back-and-forth between them.

What I didn't like about The Body Finder was how young the writing felt.  This almost felt like a middle grade book to me.  The plot was predictable, which was another negative for me.  But what bothered me the most were Violet's dumb decisions, which continually put herself in danger.  I wanted to smack that girl upside the head a few times!

I will keep reading the series, and will pick up the next book when I need a light, easy read.

Book to Movie Review: One for the Money

Unemployed and newly-divorced Stephanie Plum lands a job at her cousin's bail-bond business, where her first assignment puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past. 

Click here to read my review of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.

I went into One for the Money with great trepidation.  Seeing this movie was one of the few times I got to get out alone (I have a 10-month old baby girl) and I didn't want to "waste" my precious me-time on a bad book-to-movie adaptation.  All those fears were for naught, though, as I left the theater with a smile on my face.  

This movie was just as good as the book, if not even better.  The casting was perfect, just perfect.  I wasn't sure how Heigl would do as Stephanie Plum, but she was great.  She got her personality and quirks just right, and all without affecting a totally fake New Jersey accent.  And as for Ranger and Morelli, they are just about exactly how I pictured them while reading.  "Yummy" is all I can say!

The three main characters
The movie had the same trademark humor as the book, and I found myself laughing out loud several times.  I wondered how they would handle the plot, if the plot from book one was enough to base a movie on, and it was.  As far as I can remember (it's been a couple of years since I read One for the Money), the movie stayed true to the book.  In fact, watching One for the Money made me want to read the book again, which is an indicator of a successful book-to-movie adaptation.  

If you have not read any of the Stephanie Plum books, watching One for the Money is a great way to tell if you'll like the series.  I give the movie (and books) a strong recommendation!


Book Review: Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4) by Richelle Mead

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice...

Release Date: December 27, 2011
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: Bantam
Source: Purchased
Other Books in the Series: Storm Born, Thorn Queen, Iron Crowned

On the whole, I have loved this series!  I don't think anything can live up to Mead's Vampire Academy series, but the Dark Swan series comes pretty darn close.

Overall this was my least favorite book in the series for one huge reason---which I will not reveal to keep from spoiling the book for you. 

I don't like the heroine, Eugenie, personally, but I care about her as a character.  Something has always kept me from truly identifying with her, though.  And now I am finally able to put my finger on what that something is.  I've never really agreed with Eugenie's decisions regarding her personal life, and her behavior in Shadow Heir was no exception.  Eugenie's decision regarding her children ruined the book for me.  As a new mother, I just could not understand her decision---it was infuriating and a constant source of bafflement for me throughout the book.  

I liked how Eugenie's romantic life is resolved but did not think the relationship was healthy the way she kept so many secrets.  When you keep secrets like that, and never fully open yourself up to your partner, the relationship is doomed, in my opinion.

What I did like was the fast-moving pace, the intricate plot twists, and the well-developed minor characters.  These are all things Mead does excellently, and they really saved the book for me.

In the end, I would recommend this series.  I just did not agree with the blase way Eugenie handled her major life decisions.  It showed a lack of character growth, which really cheapens a book for me.

Book Review: Pirate of My Heart by Jamie Carie

When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.
Release Date: September 1, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: B&H Fiction
Source: NetGalley

Having read and loved two of Jamie Carie's novels: The Guardian Duke and The Forgiven Duke, I jumped at the chance to read one of her stand alone novels.  There's just something about knowing how everything ends up that appeals to me.

I enjoyed Pirate of My Heart even more than Carie's other novels.  The characters appealed to me so much, especially Kendra's situation.  Her beloved father dies, leaving her an orphan.  Her uncle, who is secretly out for all of her father's money, gives Kendra the choice of either marrying an old man (for money) or leaving her home to go to America with her aunt and uncle (whom she has never met).  Kendra refuses to marry unless it is someone of her choosing, so she decides to go to America and live with her aunt and uncle.  Kendra travels to America as the sole female passenger on a cargo ship, and is under the protection of the captain.  Captain Dorian Colburn has decided he will never love again, after a disastrous first marriage.  There is an instant attraction between he and Kendra, but he tries to ignore it.  He is set on staying single and enjoying his fast-paced life of travel and excitement.

What follows is a tender love story set amongst an exciting tale of betrayal and revenge.  I could not believe the lengths Kendra's uncle went to in order to ensure his own gain.  He was truly evil!  The minor characters were very well-written.  I especially liked Dorian's family.  I loved the resolution of the story and was totally satisfied with the ending.    

Overall, Pirate of My Heart was a great read.  Jamie Carie is a new favorite for me, having read and loved three of her books now.  Fans of Christian fiction and historical fiction will really enjoy it.