Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: The Here and Now

Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Genre: ya, sci-fi, romance
Published: 8 April 2014
Pages: 242
Rating: 3 / 10
Challenges: NetGalley Reading Challenge
Full Disclosure: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year. (from GoodReads)

My Review: This is a really difficult review to write. I actually finished the book over a month ago, but I kept putting off writing the review because I really, really didn't like it. I was so excited when I was approved for Anne Brashare's new book on NetGalley! I loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, so I expected to enjoy this story as well. Here's the thing, though: Prenna is really boring and dumb. Reading everything through her eyes was incredibly frustrating, because I wanted to shake her and point out all the clues that she was missing. I was also not a big fan of the romance. Ethan is a "nice guy," and while Prenna swooned over him from day one, I found him seriously suspect. By the end of the book, I felt as though I had read a story about Ethan's journey rather than Prenna's. Is it possible for a male character to be both a Mary Sue AND a Manic Pixie Dream Girl? The only thing I really enjoyed was the paradoxical implications inherent in time travel, and I really didn't feel like that was explored enough.

That said, I'm positive this book would be a big hit with my students. Between the pseudo-science, the dystopian future, and the romance it pretty much hits every YA trope on the BINGO card. The ending also leaves the story up to serialization, but I think it works better as a stand-alone.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tune in Tuesday: Heathers the Musical


Last month Jon and I went to New York for a few days. The impetus for the trip was the impeding end of the Colbert Report, for which Jon secured tickets after news broke that Stephen Colbert would be taking over for Letterman. In addition to that taping, I talked him into seeing Heathers: The Musical. I first heard about this potential disaster over a year ago, and I did not have high hopes. If you haven't seen the movie from the 80's, check it out on YouTube. It's one of my favorite black comedies and an inspiration for other films, such as Mean Girls and Jawbreaker.

The musical is nothing short of brilliant. I didn't have high expectations going in (especially given how cheap tickets turned out to be), but both Jon and I were completely blown away by the cast and the songs. I'm still singing them now, weeks later, and we've even ordered the soundtrack. (Fair warning: this musical is VERY MUCH NSFW.)

Here's a medley of a few songs being performed on stage (so you can get an idea of the set and costumes):


This is "Candy Store," one of Jon's favorites:


And "Dead Girl Walking" (my favorite):


If you have a chance to see this musical, DO IT!

Review: Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell

Title: Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell
Author: Paul Dini
Artist: Joe Quinones
Genre: graphic novel, fantasy
Published: 27 May 2014
Pages: 144
Rating: 10 / 10
Challenges: NetGalley Reading Challenge
Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this OGN from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:
Black Canary. Zatanna Zatara. Two of the DC Universe's brightest stars join forces to combat a deadly new threat-a chilling supernatural foe that preys on their weaknesses and unleashes their awesome powers against each other.

A year ago, Black Canary infiltrated a gang of female criminals set to pull a dangerous heist at a Las Vegas casino. Its leader was skilled in hand-to-hand combat and with more than a passing interest in the occult, specifically black magic, one nasty customer. Rather than be taken by Canary or the law, she went to her death, vowing she would get revenge on Canary and her own former gang members. Now, a year to the day later, death stalks those gang members, and Canary must turn to her friend Zatanna to help investigate. (from GoodReads)

My Review: Compared to what's happening in the rest of the DC New 52 right now, this OGN was a much-needed breath of fresh air! The story opens with a meet-cute on the side of Mount Everest that gives readers a basic understanding of our two leads: Dinah is tough and no-nonsense, while Zatanna is unsure of herself and her abilities, but willing to take a risk. There's a sisterly vibe established here that stays with the girls throughout the rest of the story. They tease each other, but there's also a mutual trust and respect that readers can see forming from the get-go.

The "Bloodspell" referenced in the title comes from a heist that Black Canary is a part of several years after that initial meeting. Tina Spettro has brought together a group of girls to help her rob the casino of her one-time lover, and she uses black magic to ensure that they won't betray her. The heist goes sideways and Tina ends up dead, but not before an excellent and pun-filled fight between Tina and Dinah takes them all over Vegas. A year later, Dinah realizes that the other girls involved in the heist are dying under suspicious circumstances and she calls on Zatanna for help.

There are several things in this story that made me smile: the lack of pre-52 continuity (Ollie and Dina are still together!), cameos by other JLA members (Superman, Elongated Man, Hal Jordan, a pretty funny/awkward introduction to Martian Manhunter), the father-daughter dynamic, the fact that Zatanna's idea of a "road trip" includes a self-driving car, the clever uses of Zatanna's powers...I could go on, but one of the highlights is undoubtedly Joe Q's art. I loved his covers on the previous run of Captain Marvel and was really looking forward to seeing him take on interiors. I wasn't disappointed! He draws female superheros in a way that makes them look beautiful and strong without being overly porny. Dinah's muscles were believable and awesome, and both leads wear their fishnets without looking ridiculously sexy. They also seem to be genuine friends who enjoy hanging out together. It made me really miss the Stephanie Brown/Kara relationship in the old Batgirl series.

Basically, it's a light-hearted story with great cartooning from Joe Q. If you're looking for an introduction to superheros or just want to have fun with characters you love, check it out.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday Comics for 25 June 2014


Batman #32: The penultimate Zero Year issue finds Batman being one-upped by the Riddler (again) before finding his hideout...and discovering that the Riddler is STILL one step ahead. There's a lot of tension building up, but considering the fact that Gotham is still standing five years in the future and all the major players are still alive, next month's conclusion seems pretty enevitable. Capullo's art is nothing short of amazing, and I'm impressed he's been able to consistently illustrate this series for so long. There's also a preview for the new Grayson series which seems interesting. 

Chew #42: I continue to love this series and everything about it. Tony is awesome and has really grown into a strong, confident agent. There are some nods to previous plot threads and hints (dire warnings?) about what is still to come. The highlight, however, will always be Rob Guillory's art:


That's a Quacken, but notice anything about the cephalopods around him? There was also a flash forward to issue 60 in one panel featuring gray-haired Tony. I'm relieved that he survives, but even more nervous about Colby's fate (especially given the "doomed weddings" book at his nuptials). Fingers crossed for a happy ending!

Justice League #31: The Forever Evil storyline is over (hooray!), but we're still dealing with the fallout. At least it's interesting! I'm really curious about Luthor's angle re: joining the Justice League, and I like the new "villain," Jessica, an unwilling barer of the Power Ring. Shazam is growing me, too, with his ping pong table obsession. 

Ms. Marvel #5: A perfect ending to this first arc, and the reveal of a villain weird enough to lead us into the next one. Kamala learns to use her powers to her advantage, and even gets a pretty cool costume (which I will be replicating for DragonCon). The family dynamic - especially the father-daughter heart-to-heart - is really touching, and a huge part of what makes this book so special. 

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #6: The mini-series wraps up (mostly) happily, but still leaves the story open-ended enough for another volume (which, according to my sources, won't be happening any time soon). This issue seemed a bit short, but it could just be that there's so much that happened and it all jumbled a bit. Mal & co. have taken on two new crew members, and now there's a mysterious new person (a clone?) hot on their heels. I've really enjoyed getting back into the Firefly universe and am sad to see it end again, but at least we have new fodder for fanfic and the potential for another comic book series...someday. 


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NYC 2014: Day Three

Today Jon and I mostly hung around Brooklyn. We went to a few comic book stores, found some interesting books, and made my traditional pilgrimage to the Way Station. We also went to the City Reliquary, which was full of interesting historical and cultural artifacts:



Brooklyn also has the best street art:





After spending the day in Brooklyn, we went to a live taping of the Comic Book Club podcast at a bar in Chinatown. I hadn't listened before, but I definitely will now! It was a lot of fun, and the guest tonight was Tom King, one of the writers on Grayson:


If you listen to the show, know that I was the only girl in the entire bar, and thus the only person clapping when the guys started asking about Dick Grayson butt shots. :)

I'm a Bill!


Which secondary Harry Potter character are you? Find out here!

Monday, June 09, 2014

NYC 2014: Day Two

Today Jon and I went to Midtown Comics, where we found some sweet variant covers:


I especially love the Katie Cook "Moooooo-n Knight." Most of these are by Scottie Young, so we can get them signed at Heroes Con in a couple weeks. 

For lunch, we went to this Southern fusion place, Vynl, that Jon found. I had the truffle mac & cheese, which was delicious, but my favorite thing was the ladies' bathroom:



That BeyoncĂ© mosaic was right over the toilet! They also played nothing but BeyoncĂ© in there. Jon said the men's room was the same, but with Michael Jackson. 

After lunch we walked to Hell's Kitchen for the event that was the impetus or our trip: The Colbert Report taping! We stood in line for several hours, but it worth it because we sat in the front row. We're going to watch tonight to see if we show up. 



Dinner was at a great ramen/dim sum place owned by a former Chinese child actor. :) Tomorrow: Brooklyn!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

NYC 2014: Day One

When I tried to document our trip to NYC last year, I didn't get very far. We'll see if this time goes better. :)

Jon and I woke up early, had some Sweet Hut buns (I seriously cannot wait until their Midtown location opens later this month), and drove to Hartsfield. Security has changed SO MUCH since last year: we were allowed to keep our shoes on, we didn't have to pull out our toiletry bags, and we were allowed to use  our phones (in airplane mode) during takeoff and landing. It's crazy. The flight was great - we flew Southwest, which we weird because they didn't assign seats. You just line up and sit wherever. 


When we arrived in LaGuardia, we took the bus/subway to Times Square and dropped our lone suitcase at the hotel. While we waited for check-in, we wandered around and saw the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Lego Store, and Nintendo World:


After a nap and dinner (street car falafel, whut-what!), we went to see Heathers: The Musical. 

It was SO GREAT. Campy and hilarious and so so so much fun. The leads were amazing, and I will definitely be buying the soundtrack on June 17.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.

I found so many great new words while reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Creation!

1. "The ceiling was very low, with roots coming through, and everything had a genteel fade to it, the old lace and code-breaking machines, the anchors and heavy picture frames, the dinosaur bones and orreries." (12)

orrery - an apparatus showing the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system by balls moved by a clockwork

2. "In the midst of copper statues and fountains caked with verdigris rested three huge bathtubs." (58)

verdigris - a green or greenish-blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on copper and consisting of one or more basic copper acetates

(I actually guessed this word had something to do with the color green just based on the root "verdi.")

3. "All traffic travels widdershins, September thought, giggling." (62)

widdershins - in a left-handed, wrong, or contrary direction

(This term gets referenced - and defined - later in the book, but I thought it was a great word! Also, a twitter friend of mine decided to start using it on the same day I found it in the book. That's quite a coincidence!)

4. "'The Changeling Recital at Dandytown Hall went off splendidly last week, featuring an orchestra of violins, oboes, one piano, a nickelstave, two tubas, a lorelei, and a full grummellphone section.'" (87)

lorelei - a siren of Germanic legend whose singing lures Rhine River boatmen to destruction on a reef

(Neither nickelstave nor grummellphone are in the dictionary, so I'm guessing they were made up. I ran into that A LOT in this book.)

5. "'My name is Doctor Fallow, and I am the Satrap of Autumn.'" (135)

satrap - the governor of a province in ancient Persia

6. "'Do you see an Order of the Green Kirtle on my chest?'" (166)

kirtle - a tunic or coat worn by men especially in the Middle Ages

7. "'What is an indirect dative reserved for things.'" (197)

dative - of, relating to, or being the grammatical case that marks typically the indirect object of a verb, the object of some prepositions, or a possessor

(Sadly, this is not the only grammatical term I've encountered recently that I didn't learn about in school!)

Those are the new words I learned this week! How about you?

Armchair BEA - Novellas/Short Stories


Novellas/Short Stories
Now it is time to give a little love to those little stories in your life. Share your love for your favorite shorts of any form. What is a short story or novella that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves? Recommend to readers what shorts you would recommend they start with. How about listing some short story anthologies based upon genres or authors?
I read a lot of short stories thanks to teaching. Here are a few favorites:

"Lamb to the Slaughter" Roald Dahl
"The Landlady" Roald Dahl
"Candle Cove" - One of my students recommended this to me; it's pretty creepy!
"Down to a Sunless Sea" Neil Gaiman
"The Story of an Hour" Kate Chopin
"Word Problem" Bruce Holland Rogers
"The Necklace" Guy de Maupassant
The Lottery Shirley Jackson (suggested by Stacy)

And a bonus:
"Thoughtcrime Experiments" - a sci-fi/fantasy anthology collection

What's your favorite short story? Link to it in the comments and I'll add it to my list.

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

My answers:

I'm currently reading: Wonder Woman Unbound by Tim Hanley (to be reviewed on NetGalley). I'm also rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for my HP book club meeting this weekend. It's my least favorite in the series, but I've enjoyed revisiting the stories and seeing how much of the ending was there all along. JK Rowling is a friggin' genius.

I recently finished reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, The Here and Now by Ann Brashares, and the first volume of Batman: Lil' Gotham. I was pretty disappointed with The Here and Now, but the other two were great!

Next I think I'll read: My comic book pulls for this week and something else from the huge stack of NetGalley ARCs I mentioned last week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tune in Tuesday: Kiesza


Today's video comes courtesy of the amazing Seanan McGuire, whose tumblr never fails to disappoint.



According to the OP,
* Her name is Kiesza. She is Canadian.
* She is a classically trained ballet dancer.
* She was a codebreaker in the Canadian Navy.
* The song is called Hideaway. It is the jam to end all jams.
* The song is bringing back C+C Music Factory 90s house realness.
* This is going to be huge.
Enjoy! I'm going to be dancing to this song all summer.

Armchair BEA - Author Interactions


Welcome back to day 2 of Armchair BEA! Today I'm sharing pictures from my three favorite author interactions. I'm really lucky to live in an area that my favorite authors visit pretty frequently.

First up, Neil Gaiman!



Yep, I've actually met him twice. Both times were at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. The first time he came, the audience was asked to write questions for him on index cards. He answered one of mine, which was pretty exciting! (I asked him about maintaining privacy while blogging, tweeting, and otherwise putting his life on display.) The second time my Sandman comic book club had been discussing Morpheus's changing appearance and I made a bit of an ass of myself asking him about the way Dream appears to blind people. Oops.

Next, Lauren Myracle!



My BFF and I drove up to Kennesaw State to see her do a reading and signing. She was so friendly and awesome! My students love her books - all of my copies of the TTYL series went missing within a month of me putting them on my class bookshelf. :)

And last (but by no means least), Rainbow Rowell!



If you read yesterday's post about my favorite books, you will probably not be surprised AT ALL to see Rainbow on this list. I loved hearing her talk about her characters and her process. We even discussed fanfic, which led to the GREATEST inscription ever:



What are your favorite author interactions? Have you ever experienced the abject humiliation that comes with saying something profoundly stupid in front of a person you admire? If you could meet an author, who would it be? What would you ask him/her?

I'm Donna!


Which Doctor Who companion are you? Find out here!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Armchair BEA - Introduction


Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

Hello, Armchair BEA-ers! My name is Jessi, and this is my first time participating in Armchair BEA. I started book blogging in 2006, fell off the wagon in 2009, and I've recently started getting back into it. I've already written more blog posts in 2014 than I did in 2010-2013 combined, so that's something. I started book blogging because I LOVE to read, and it was a great way to make new friends and find new books. I currently live in a tiny little town in Georgia that you've never heard of, but I'm moving back to Atlanta in a few weeks and I couldn't be more excited!

Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. -- so we can connect more online.

Casual Dread is a place for me to share my thoughts and opinions and to keep track of what I read - which is a lot!

Twitter
Tumblr
GoodReads
LibraryThing

What genre do you read the most?

I love to read YA because I teach high school English and I like to know what my students are interested in. And because I enjoy it! I also love to read sci-fi/fantasy because I enjoy the escapism and Jane Austen novels because I adore her characters.

What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year?

My favorite book last year was Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. It reminded me so much of myself and my own obsession with Harry Potter fanfic in college. I wasn't quite as socially awkward as Cath, but I found her incredibly realistic and relatable. A close second would be Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park, which is one of the sweetest and saddest YA love stories I've ever had the pleasure of crying over multiple times while reading. My favorite book so far this year was Attachments by (you guessed it!) Rainbow Rowell. My boyfriend gave me a first edition hardback for Christmas and I absolutely adored it! The protagonist, Lincoln, reminded me so much of my boyfriend that I couldn't help but love him. I'm sure Rainbow's newest book, Landline, will make it onto this list when I get my hands on it in July.

But seriously, if you haven't read any of her books, do yourself a favor. They're spectacular!

Share your favorite book or reading related quote.


I read To Kill a Mockingbird every year with my tenth graders, and every year I point out this quotation. It makes my day when my bibliophiles agree with Scout!

What book would you love to see as a movie?

One of my favorite books is Frank Herbert's Dune. I blame my dad, since he named me after one of the characters! Although it's been made into at least two movies (a theatrical release in the 80's and a Sci Fi channel TV mini-series), neither really captured the book accurately. After watching Jodorowsky's Dune, a documentary about the original attempt to translate the book to a film, I really wish he had gotten the chance. Check out the trailer below, and if it seems like your cup of tea, the entire thing is available on YouTube!



Thanks for learning about me! I'm looking forward to discussing books with everyone this week. :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday 56

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

Today's excerpt comes from The Here and Now, a futuristic love story by Ann Brashares:

"I get some toiletries at a blindingly bright drugstore. Ethan tags along as I pick out a toothbrush, toothpaste and a pink plastic hairbrush. In a distant way I think the old thoughts: Am I doing this right? Would a normal person buy this? Am I giving anything away?"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Comics for 21 May 2014



Batman and Robin #31: Batman teams up with Frankenstein('s monster) to track down Ra's and recover Damien's body. After a brief misunderstanding with some yetis (?), the issue ends on a "cliffhanger" that I'm betting will turn out to be the resurrection of Damien. These team-up books are starting to wear thin; I wish they'd just bring him back already and be done with it. 

Batwoman #31: This issue feels really short (probably due to the Superman preview), but a lot happens. Batwoman wraps up the Wolf Spider case. The Spider gets away, but we get definite confirmation as to his real identity (which was obvious from the start, IMHO). We also get a brief glimpse of a woman whom I'm guessing will be the next big bad. This was a pretty solid issue - excellent fight scene and some nice characterization with Kate and Mags, although it seems like they might be heading for trouble in their relationship. Why can't DC let its heroes be happy?

Forever Evil #7: This ending took FOREVER (ha!) to get here, but it was pretty satisfying when all is said and done. There's some interesting character work with Lex (his bromance with Bizarro is the stuff ships sail on), and the Crime Syndicate gets (mostly) taken care of. 

Justice League #30: I'm pretty sure this is the only series still milking the "Forever Evil" nonsense. Lex attempts to join the League, but Superman puts his foot down. Poor Clark is having a hard time concentrating because he normally filters out ambient chatter...unless people mention Lex Luthor. Which they're doing constantly. That was my favorite bit from the book. The rest was okay; I'm curious to see if Lex blackmails Bruce to get on the team or what. 

Lola XOXO #2: The storytelling was a little confusing in this issue. We met a lot of new characters, including some carnies who were forced to fight wild animals (how very Ancient Rome) and Edgar, Lola's new boss. The art is still amazing (Siya's sketchy style is perfect for the post-apocalyptic setting), but I'm wondering where the story is going. Looking forward to issue three!

Saga #19: Oh, man. I love this story so much. There was a major time jump, so now we have Hazel as an adorable toddler hiding out on a neutral planet with her crazy family. The art is gorgeous as usual (the opening page is quite...interesting), and the characters are as dynamic and lovable as ever. BUT the issue ends on a pretty heavy cliffhanger that I'm hoping is just a big fake-out, ala Lying Cat's death. 

Wonder Woman #31: Some big things are happening, and I'm so glad this book doesn't tie in to the events going on in the rest of the DCU. Diana is still adjusting to being a god and queen, Hades is gone (dead?), and the Amazons are learning how to deal with a man on the island. It's all leading to an epic battle, and I can't wait to see oh it turns out. I'm really going to miss this creative team. 

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.

I found a few wondrous words in one sentence from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making: "'The earth, my dear, is roughly trapezoidal, vaguely rhomboid, a bit of a tesseract, and altogether grumpy when its fur is stroked the wrong way!'" (pg. 5)

1. trapezoidal - of, pertaining to, or having the form of a trapezoid (a quadrilateral plane figure having two parallel and two nonparallel sides)

2. rhomboid - having a form similar to an oblique-angled parallelogram with only the opposite sides equal

3. tesseract - the generalization of a cube to four dimensions

Hooray for math-related vocabulary!

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

My answers:

I'm currently reading: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente. I just started it yesterday and haven't gotten very far, but my FYA book club is meeting this Sunday to discuss it, so I really need to finish!

I'm also reading The Here and Now by Ann Brashares and the first volume of Batman: Lil' Gotham, both for NetGalley. Clearly, I'm really far behind on my reviews. I'm hoping that school ending this week will help with that.

I recently finished reading: Jaka's Story and rereading Dune, both for book clubs last weekend. I enjoyed both, but Dune is one of my favorite books. I've read it several times, and each time I notice something new.

Next I think I'll read: Wonder Woman Unbound, Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel, Neptune Noir, The Science of Shakespeare, Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle, Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell (all of which I need to review for NetGalley or LibraryThing), and the new comics I'm picking up today.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tune in Tuesday: Au Revoir Simone


Happy Tuesday! Here's the song that's currently stuck in my head:



There's not an official music video, sadly, but the sound quality on this one is better than the live versions on YouTube. "Backyards of Our Neighbors" is such a hauntingly beautiful song! It reminds me of summertime for some reason, and since this is my last week of school (with my students at least), it's been on my mind recently.

I'm Pretty in Pink!


Which Romantic Comedy best describes your love life? Find out here!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bout of Books 10, Day 6

Today's goal update:

1. Read for at least two hours every day. [Done!]
2. Finish Dune before Saturday's book club meeting. [Done! I actually sat in the car for 15 to finish before the meeting started, but I made it! We had a great discussion - everyone liked the book.]
3. Read Jaka's Story before Sunday's comic book club meeting. [Done! I didn't like the ending as much as the rest of the book, but I'm  excited to talk about it tomorrow.]
4. Participate in one twitter chat (probably Wednesday's). [Done!]
5. Any other books read must be ARCs on my Kindle. [N/A.]

Since I've met my two biggest goals, I'm spending the evening reading my comics for the past two weeks. Tomorrow I'm going to knock out The Here and Now, which has been unfinished for months and needs to be reviewed on NetGalley. This readathon was exactly what I needed to get motivated again!

Bout of Books 10, Day 5

Today's goal update:

1. Read for at least two hours every day. [Done!]
2. Finish Dune before Saturday's book club meeting. [I'm on page 339; I'm sure I'll be finished in time.]
3. Read Jaka's Story before Sunday's comic book club meeting. [I'm on page 354 and on track to finish by Sunday.]
4. Participate in one twitter chat (probably Wednesday's). [Done!]
5. Any other books read must be ARCs on my Kindle. [N/A.]

This post is going up late because we saw Godzilla last night and I didn't have the energy to post after. It was NOT better than Pacific Rim, no matter what anyone tells you. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bout of Books 10, Day 4

Today's goal update:

1. Read for at least two hours every day. [Done!]
2. Finish Dune before Saturday's book club meeting. [I'm on page 321 and plan to keep reading tonight.]
3. Read Jaka's Story before Sunday's comic book club meeting. [I finished the second book, but I left it at school and don't know what page I'm on.]
4. Participate in one twitter chat (probably Wednesday's). [Done! I had so much fun, I decided to participate in today's challenge, too!]
5. Any other books read must be ARCs on my Kindle. [N/A. Today's reading was all Jaka's Story and Dune - I still haven't read my comics from yesterday!]

I'm feeling really good because I've actually done more than I thought I would. I like having a lower-stress goal and a longer time frame in which to read and get involved. How's BoB10 going for you?

Bout of Books 10: Spell it Out Challenge

Today's challenge comes from Kimberly of Kimberly Faye Reads (http://www.kimberlyfayereads.com/2014/05/15/bout-of-books-10-0-spell-it-out-challenge/). I spelled out my name in book titles!

 
 Jurassic Park
 Eleanor & Park

 Sense & Sensibilty

 Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters

 IQ84

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bout of Books 10, Day 3

Today's goal update:

1. Read for at least two hours every day. [Done!]
2. Finish Dune before Saturday's book club meeting. [I'm still on page 296.]
3. Read Jaka's Story before Sunday's comic book club meeting. [I'm currently on page 262, so I got a lot read today! I'm planning on reading more before I fall asleep - I want to finish book two tonight.]
4. Participate in one twitter chat (probably Wednesday's). [Done! My first tweet-up ever and it was so much fun! I'm craving potatoes like whoa, though.]
5. Any other books read must be ARCs on my Kindle. [N/A. Today's reading was all Jaka's Story - I didn't even crack open my new comics yet!]

Hope day three went as well for you as it did for me!

Wednesday Comics for 7 and 14 May 2014



I've been sick for two weeks now, so I skipped a week at the comic book store. These are the books I picked up for both the 7th and 14th of May.

Action Comics #31: This issue is part of the Doomed storyline that I'm not reading, but it's pretty easy to figure out what's happened so far. Superman has been infected by Doomsday, and it's slowly changing him. It's a good issue, even if I'm not going to continue the crossover. Plus: Krypto makes an appearance!

Aquaman and the Others #2: I picked up the first issue because Aquaman has been one of my favorite new 52 comics. The Others (a group of superheroes who also posess Atlantean weapons) have shown up a few times and I thought they would be interesting. This issue was okay, but I don't think I'm going to continue reading. It doesn't tie in to the Aquaman storyline; if anything there are allusions to Futures End (which I am emphatically NOT READING, despite its featuring Grifter).

Batgirl #31: Barbara finally goes to visit Ricky, who reveals something pretty shocking (but completely understandable, given the circumstances). As she's leaving the hospital, Babs gets a call from her roommate, Alysia, who's being attacked by the creepiest Batgirl villain ever. I really enjoyed this issue, especially Ragdoll. He seems like a fun addition to the Batgirl rogues gallery, and I hope to see him again. There's some shadowy conspiracy stuff going on with Nightfall that I care less about, but at least it seems like it's building toward something significant. 

Batman Eternal #5: My store was sold out by the time I got there, but it's been ordered so I should get it soon. 

Batman Eternal #6: Batman teams up with the Spectre and Batwing to take on the mystical forces surrounding Arkham. I was disappointed to get away from the Stephanie Brown and Harper Row storylines, but it's interesting to see different heroes working together. Less interesting is the inclusion of the Joker's Daughter, but I'll keep reading anyway. 

Black Widow #6: Natasha manages to capture the guy she was going after last issue, but there's an issue when she gets him back to SHIELD. I loved seeing Nat and Maria bonding. There's a bonus Hawkguy appearance and Liho gets invited into the apartment! Noto's art is gorgeous as always. His pencils perfectly capture the action sequences.

Captain Marvel #3: Carol and the Guardians of the Galaxy get control of Carol's shop away from Tic. Carol returns Tic to her planet and gets a pretty awesome smack down when she offers her services. I like that we're getting away from Earth and exoring the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. I also liked seeing Carol getting shot down, because I feel like a lot of times superheroes just assume they can "save the day" without really thinking through as to what that entails. It was a clever bit of writing on Kelly Sue's part. 

Fathom: Kiani #3: Kiani deals with the aftermath of the explosion and an unexpected friend shows up! There are still a ton of questions to answer, so I'm a little skeptical of getting a complete wrap-up in next month's final issue for this volume. Especially given what happens to Luzhin in the final panel...

Lumberjanes #2: This series keeps getting weirder. In this issue, the girls go canoing on a river. Ripley (who is my favorite, honestly) freaks everyone out with tales of river monsters. Mal especially has reservations about the trip. Of course the girls run into strange creatures and have an adventure. I love this series so much already - it's what I imagine Girl Scouting to be like in Night Vale. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bout of Books 10, Day 2

I didn't do a wrap-up post yesterday because I joined the fun so late in the day, but here's where I stand with my goals as of day 2:

1. Read for at least two hours every day. [Done! Although I fudged it a bit - more on that with #5.]
2. Finish Dune before Saturday's book club meeting. [I'm currently on page 296, so I'm a little more than halfway.]
3. Read Jaka's Story before Sunday's comic book club meeting. [I've started it now, at least. I'm currently on page 78 and plan to read a bit more before bedtime. There are lots of text-heavy pages that have significantly slowed my usual graphic novel reading pace.]
4. Participate in one twitter chat (probably Wednesday's). [N/A]
5. Any other books read must be ARCs on my Kindle. [Like I said, I fudged it a bit. I did read Jaka's Story for an hour, but I also read a bunch of student journals and essays to try and get my grading under control. This close to the end of the school year I'm really pressed for time, so I'm counting it.]

How is your bout going? Good luck with day 3!

Only With You Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!


Welcome to the Casual Dread stop of the Only With You Blog Tour!
This is my first book blog tour, and I'm very excited that it was for a book I really enjoyed! Please read my review below and enter the awesome giveaway! You can find the rest of the tour stops here.


Title: Only With You
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: YA, Jane Austen-paralit, romance
Published: May 2014
Pages: 130
Rating: 9 / 10
Challenges: N/A

Synopsis: "Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph…

Emma has it all – looks, money, and luck. It’s not like she keeps it all to herself – she’s totally committed to helping those less fortunate. AKA, everyone. She invites her heartbroken friend to help with a weekend charity event with an eye to matchmake, but when that friend turns her eye toward the guy Emma wants for herself, how will she choose between friendship and her own feelings?

* * *

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is hot guys to flirt with. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And it’s about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

The Jane Austen Academy series are modern retellings of Jane Austen classics set at a beachside California boarding school."

AUTHOR BIO:

Cecilia Gray lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she reads, writes and breaks for food. She also pens her biographies in the third person. Like this. As if to trick you into thinking someone else wrote it because she is important. Alas, this is not the case.

She’s rather enamored of being contacted by readers and hopes you’ll oblige.

Author Links:
Homepage
GoodReads
Facebook
Twitter

My Review: This was the Jane Austen Academy story I was looking forward to more than any other. Emma is my favorite Austen heroine. I love her because she's flawed, and also because she reminds me of myself. I, too, have played matchmaker for my friends - one couple even got married on my birthday! - and I've also put my foot in my mouth more times than I can count. I may not be as rich nor as perfect as Austen's Miss Woodhouse, but I admire her earnestness and lively spirit. Thankfully, Cecilia Gray's Emma is just as lively (and as flawed, even if she doesn't want to admit it). This novella is a quick, breezy read that kept me entertained and eager to see what would happen next. Or rather, to see how it would play out - the happily-ever-after-with-the-guy-of-her-dreams is a foregone conclusion, but getting there is a lot of fun. Emma invites steadfast Anne, male BFF Knight, and playboy/actor Josh to her parents' house for a weekend. The goal: hookup Anne and Josh, both of whom are nursing broken hearts. The reality turns out to be a bit more complicated, as Anne's ex, Rick, also shows up. The kids spend time volunteering at an animal shelter (complete with a vet named Frank Churchill!) and Emma learns a thing or two about love - namely, that she can (and does!) feel it.

One thing I love about Gray's adaptations is seeing how the characters fit into the minor roles in each new book. Josh, ever the playboy, takes on both Mr. Elton and Frank Churchill. Anne makes a much more interesting Harriet Smith than OG Harriet ever did, and Rick is pretty much spot-on as Robert Martin. There are a few characters absent, of course (understandable, given how short the book is). I love Jane Fairfax as a foil to Emma in the original and would've loved to have seen Lucy in that role. That would've paired her with Josh, too, but I get the feeling that's being saved for the Louisa-Benwick-Wentworth triangle in the last book. Another interesting change from the source material is Emma's relationship with her elderly widowed father. Here, Emma's mother is living and Emma constantly tries to live up to her. It bothered me a bit at first (that father/daughter dynamic is central to Emma's characterization, I feel), but it makes a lot of sense. Both Emmas are trying hard to live up to expectations, and I love the idea of modern Emma being a insecure "mean girl" who isn't actually mean.

I received a review copy of Only With You, but you can purchase one at B&N or Amazon. Thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.