Reflected In You (Crossfire #2) by Sylvia Day

If you read my review for the first book, Bared To You by Sylvia Day, you’d know that I wasn’t impressed, but I really wanted to give Day another chance with Reflected In You. I’m so glad I did.

13596809Gideon Cross. As beautiful and flawless on the outside as he was damaged and tormented on the inside. He was a bright, scorching flame that singed me with the darkest of pleasures. I couldn’t stay away. I didn’t want to. He was my addiction… my every desire… mine.

My past was as violent as his, and I was just as broken. We’d never work. It was too hard, too painful… except when it was perfect. Those moments when the driving hunger and desperate love were the most exquisite insanity.

We were bound by our need. And our passion would take us beyond our limits to the sweetest, sharpest edge of obsession…

My favorite thing about this series–that just so happens to be what makes it unique–is the issues both Gideon and Eva have. We finally get to see a little into Gideon’s past, and Eva finally puts on some big girl panties. I was really drawn into the book this time without a single thought of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Day’s characters became the characters instead of a caricature of Anna and Christian Grey.

This sequel really developed, not only into the next step for Gideon and Eva’s relationship, but also for the series itself. In other words, stuff gets real. This book really explores the question: How far would you go for love? After finishing the book, I loved Day’s answer. I thought it was relevant, intriguing and book-worthy. I was thouroughly entertained and enthralled by this book.

One issue I had with this book was the pacing. For example, there’s a moment when they sort of “break-up,” but it’s only captured in a paragraph and it supposedly lasted for days. This impeded my ability to feel the same sorrow and heartbreak Eva felt because it was over so quickly. If Day could draw these things out a bit more, they would have a bigger impact on the reader.

Other than that, this series has definitely built up momentum with a shocking conclusion that will leave you wanting more. I love that this book has become about the characters and their story, and not about that-book-similiar-to-50-shades. I will be reading the next book, Entwined in You, which is released May 7, 2013. There is even talk of a possible fourth book. We’ll see!

STARS: 4 out of 5

A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Wow. Just wow. I am blown away by George R.R. Martin’s A Game Of Thrones. I know I’m a little behind on jumping on the Game Of Thrones bandwagon, but my interest was piqued when the HBO series came out, and I vowed to read the book before I watched the TV series. It took me until now to find the time.

985873Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I had a few misconceptions about this book. I thought it would be dense and hard to read. It is long— a little over 800 pages — but it was so easy to read. I thought there would be so many characters it would be hard to keep track of them all like in epic Stephen King novels.  However, I never once was confused about who was who. Also, I never realized the characters in this series were so young! As a lover of Young Adult fiction, I was surprised there were so many young adult elements in this fiction book meant for older readers.  I was ever so pleasantly surprised!

A Game Of Thrones is the first book in the A Song Of Ice and Fire saga. I found myself wondering, why had I never heard of this book until it was turned into an HBO series? All I ever read growing up was fantasy novels. A quick glance at the copyright page answered my question; the book was released in 1996 (I was only seven years old!). So I’ve forgiven myself the folly of not recognizing the genius of Martin earlier.

This novel is truly, truly epic. Martin crafted each character so carefully that I fell in love with each of them — even though each possessed both good and evil. The game of thrones is a tricky one, simply because at any given time the tide will turn. People change. People cave. People fight to live.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters: my personal favorites being the rebellious daughter of Lord Stark, Arya; the bastard son, Jon Snow; and the younger Stark, Bran. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses that draw you in and make you become attached, even the “malformed” son of Lord Lannister, Tyrion. I also loved the direwolves, characters in their own right.

My biggest grievance with this book is the series-of-unfortunate-events tone. I found my heart both soaring and despairing as each character rises to the top only to be cut down. I fear nothing good will ever happen. That said, Martin does accurately reflect the hard truth of life in this mystic tale, especially a world as dark and dangerous as this one.

If you have any interest in epic adventures filled with knights set in a world filled with dark forests and colorful countrysides, or enjoy books filled with political intrigue that follow characters through their lifetime, this is the book for you. I highly recommend this intoxicating read that will get under your skin and invade your mind— it’s all you will think about! I’ll be indulging in the first season of the HBO series very soon. The next book, A Clash Of Kings, is on my to-be-read list. I may even have to move it up the line because A Game Of Thrones leaves the reader panting for more. After all, winter is coming.

2013 Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Publisher’s Weekly put out an article this morning ranking the top 10 anticpated book-to-movie adaptations for 2013. Read the article here: The Most Anticipated Book Adaptations In 2013. I just HAD to comment.

I love movies. The only thing better is books, and if you put those two things together you have either a masterpiece or a trainwreck, depending on the adaptation. Here’s hoping 2013 is a “masterpiece” year. This list includes some books I’ve never heard of but look interesting. However, I’m mostly interested in the YA adaptations.

#6 Beautiful Creatures: I HATED this book. It has a beautiful cover and compelling storyline, but I HATED it. Usually if I dislike a series, I’ll still read on to see if it gets any better. With this book, I didn’t continue no matter how many people raved about it. However, the movie looks like it could be good. And for the life of me, I can’t remember how this story ended, I only know it was lame. Anyone out there remember? I just might check out this movie when it gets to Redbox to find out.

#5 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: I think this one is a given. I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie, and even though I haven’t read the book (Shame on me, I know), this WILL be a good one with all the excitement and eccentricity of middle earth. You should go see it too.

#4 The Host: I LOVED The Host. Hands down, the best of Stephanie Meyer. Read my book review of The Host HERE. I’m ecstatic to see this movie! I really hope it captures the characters. I will be seeing this movie come March.

#2 Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Another no-brainer, I WILL SEE THIS MOVIE. I love, love, love Suzanne Collins, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie adaptation. Read my movie review HERE. I am so excited about this movie, and so is everyone else on the planet. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, you should!

#1 Ender’s Game: This is the one that caught me completely off guard. I hadn’t heard of this one coming out as a movie. I read Ender’s Game waaaay back in middle school. I’m super excited to see this movie and I think I’ll re-read Ender’s Game just to get caught back up on the specifics.

What do you guys think? Are you going to see any of these movies?

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

 The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson is the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns — a far greater masterpiece than its predecessor.

 In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

 Warning: If you haven’t read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, please be aware there are spoilers ahead.

 I am so enraptured by this series. The first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was good but I never got around to writing a review. It was too difficult to put into words how I felt about it. I just knew that I enjoyed it enough to read the second book, even though Rae Carson ended her first novel with some really depressing twists. I didn’t know if I would recover and I didn’t know how Carson could recover a series that ended so…bloody.

Alas, The Crown of Embers was magnificent, better than the first book. The main character, Elisa, is more confident and aware of herself. There is more character development and the plot churns on until the reader HAS to know what will happen. The best part, however, is the romance. Carson has perfected the forbidden love story. In the words of Mr. Darcy, Carson has bewitched me heart and soul. Hector and Elisa’s relationship blooms from the ashes of her loss of Humberto in the first book. I didn’t think it could happen, but Carson reignited hope into Elisa and into the reader. I clung to the tiny spark of hope like it was something precious throughout the entire book. Being Queen is not easy and a queen is never given many choices. Elisa is being pressured to find a husband, far too early since the death of the King only months prior. I was on the edge of my seat in desperation for Elisa to find love — and get to keep it.

 There is so much adventure and political intrigue in this book. I love the world Carson created and I love to watch Elisa’s failures and triumphs in the kingdom she is so desperately trying to save. She really puts herself out there to save her kingdom, making her an extremely relatable and likable character. I love that she also puts herself out there for Hector. There was all of this sexual tension and emotional turmoil. They were both torn between their feelings and duty, making for a very interesting plot twist in the end.

I have to mention how much I loved the “God” element. As the bearer of the Godstone, Elisa has this direct connection with God. (Just to clarify, I don’t know whether its the Christian God or Carson’s fictional god. Either way, I’m loving this additional layer of relationship.) The physical warning signs the Godstone puts out adds something unique to the story, and I, for one, can relate to such a devout character.

I really enjoyed this sequel. It was better than the first book now that the plot has been narrowed down to something more specific, not to mention Hector! The ending left me breathless in anticipation for the next book,  The Bitter Kingdom, which releases in September 2013. This will be a must-read in 2013 for me.

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

It’s My One Year Blogoversary!

happy_blogoversary1Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to start a book review blog. It’s been a whole year, and it’s my 1st blogoversay!. (I can’t believe I actually did it!) In celebration of this occasion, I’m going to set new book-related goals for 2013.

 1. Read more. I read almost every day but I still don’t feel like I get to read everything I want. I’m hoping to spend more time reading and less time with boring life responsibilities, like laundry. I could definitely give up laundry for the rest of my life.

 2. Buy more books. Now, I know what you’re thinking. From the resolutions I’ve read from other blogs, most people want to STOP buying books and read the ones they already have. I utilize my public library, so I borrow A LOT. However, it forces me to only read the books that are available to me and less that I really want to read. Therefore, I’m going to buy more books, the books I really want to read.

 3. Get more into the blog community. Initially, I was so busy trying to produce content for my blog; I rarely got time to read other blogs. I only get a chance to read the ones that send me email updates. I want to be more active in the blog community, get my name out there and comment more in 2013.

 4. Stick to a schedule. For the past year, I’ve posted an average of twice a week (with a few holes where nothing was published for awhile, Ooops!). I want to keep that same number, (I’m working full time AND trying to get my masters.) but I need to figure out a way to post regularly without worrying about not having a book review ready. Because of this fear, I have a bunch of reviews just sitting as drafts waiting to be posted. Most of the time I forget about them and they never get posted. With a schedule, I won’t have to worry as much and just enjoy reading.

 5. Worry less about my blog. I am so passionate about reading. Anyone who knows me can vouch for the crazy book-induced gleam in my eyes. I created this blog to share my love of books with the world. However, I constantly compare myself to other blogs, who post more, get ARCs, get author interviews etc. I cannot even begin to fathom what it takes to accomplish all that. Kudos to them! I just want to read what I want without (self-induced) pressure to conform or that discouraging feeling I get when I don’t feel worthy or adequate to have a voice in the blogging community. 

 6. Start rating books. When I started this blog, I did not want to rate books. I felt like people would only look at the star rating and gloss over the writing without finding out why I liked/disliked the book. I wanted to highlight the writing so I initially left the rating out. However, I post a majority of my reviews on Goodreads which “requires” a star rating anyway, so I might as well include it in my blog. That way, when I say I enjoyed a book, readers will know just how much I enjoyed it if it earns five stars.

That’s all I have for now. Here’s hoping I can stick to these goals for the next year! I’m super excited about all the amazing books I’ll get to read in 2013, and thank you to everyone who follows/reads my blog; it truly means the world to me. 🙂

MOVIE REVIEW: Les Misérables

51M1TsXn16L__SL500_AA300_I’ve had a great love of musicals since I popped in a VHS of Newsies in 1992. My love only grew as I got older discovering more and more amazing musical stories. It wasn’t until last year that I was exposed to Les Miserable, the musical (I know, waited long enough right?!) and I absolutely loved it. I watched the 25th Anniversary Concert Edition constantly, saw it live at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta and jammed out to Javert and Valjean in my car. I was truly inspired by the music but most of all by one of the greatest stories of judgment and redemption. The musical is based on the book with the same name by Victor Hugo, which is currently sitting on my very large, to-be-read list. I was ecstatic, but hesitant, when I heard it was going to be turned into a movie. However, the trailers took my breath away and I drug my husband to watch it in theaters the day after Christmas.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I can’t say that it blew me away. Nothing can compare to the special energy of seeing a musical on stage but the movie didn’t completely ruin it either. The best way to sum up how I feel about this movie is I enjoyed the actors/actresses that had done Broadway before. You could tell who they were; they could sing. I’m not saying the other big name actors couldn’t sing but they didn’t have that Broadway tone — that full, rich sound that fills giant theaters of expectant viewers.

One thing that makes this movie adaptation unique is there are no voice overs. What you hear is the actor actually singing as the scene is being shot. Anne Hathaway (as Fantine) did a memorable job and sounded really good compared to the other big name actors. I didn’t like how her acting got in the way of her singing, though. During “I Dreamed a Dream,” she was so busy crying, her notes sounded squashed and airy. This is Fantine’s moment! It needs to be epic!

I have to admit I despised Russell Crowe’s (as Javert) singing. It was so monotonous! Couldn’t they have picked someone else? He did a great job acting but the singing was mediocre. Javert is my favorite character, and I didn’t like Crowe’s rendition of him. Hugh Jackman (as Jean Valjean) did an amazing job acting. His singing was better than Crowe’s but still not up to par. I mean compared to Alfie Boe in the 25th Anniversary Concert Edition, who was the best Jean Valjean that has ever been, Jackman pales in comparison. He couldn’t hit those sweet high notes in “Bring Him Home,” which is my all-time favorite song in the musical.

Samantha Barks (as Eponine) was AMAZING! She was part of the 25th Anniversary Concert and she’s the perfect Eponine. Her voice was sweet, clear and perfect. She had me in tears during “On My Own” and “A Little Fall Of Rain.” Amanda Seyfried (as Cossette) was awful. She had the worst high-pitched vibrato that made all her notes too sharp. I want to cover my ears just thinking about it. Little Cossette, however, (played by Issabelle Allen) was PERFECT. “Castle On A Cloud” is another one of my favorites and she nailed it! Her sweet, innocent, desperate face on the cover of the movie poster makes my heart swell.

British actor, Eddie Redmayne (as Marius), had a peculiar tone that I can only describe as “ginger,” but his rendition of “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” was breathtaking. I truly believed in his grief that couldn’t be spoken. He wasn’t what I pictured as Marius but he didn’t completely blow it either. I have to give a shoutout to Daniel Huttlestone (as the street kid, Gavroche). He played his part so well I cried. I could probably sit here and give you a whole character analysis but I’ll stop now. 🙂

In case you’re wondering, yes, you should see Les Miserables. If you’re in it for the story, the movie is just fine but if you’re in it for the singing. I’d go see it live or I’d recommend you buy/rent the 25th Anniversary Concert version. Overall, the movie wasn’t bad. I love this story. Everyone should see it, so any way it can be shared with others is a great thing.

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

I needed what I call a “fifty shades fix” so I picked up Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard. What a frustrating read!

Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption. When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide. An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, “Gabriel’s Inferno” is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man’s escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible…forgiveness and love.

This book is loooong, coming in at 545 pages. Normally that is not a problem, the longer the better, but this story dragged for the first 300 pages. We are introduced to Gabriel, the hot, mysterious, tortured professor (who also happens to be a complete asshole), and Julia Mitchell, the sweet, innocent grad student with a dark past (who comes off as a complete dingbat). Seeing as I’m only looking for a literary fix, the cliché characters do not bother me. What irks me is the characters have flawed motives. Gabriel is so mean to Julia initially for NO reason. It made absolutely no sense why a professor would be so mean to a student let alone the female protagonist in the story. It seemed like forced conflict; I didn’t buy it.

My biggest issue with the entire novel was Julia. She was so timid, self-deprecating and overly shy. It was hard to read; it practically made me sick. Then, there were random parts in the novel where she would climb onto her feminist high horse and demand to be treated as an independent woman. This is a HUGE character flaw. Characters should be somewhat consistent but Reynard’s character seemed like she belonged in a mental institution. Gabriel had the same type of character flip-flopping but he’s supposed to be the messed up one with his “dark” past.

To be perfectly honest, I almost put this book down. Nothing made sense. Nothing was happening. The writing style is this awkward third person narrative that switches between trying-to-hard imagery and frou-frou language and modern, cheesy dialogue. Gabriel was a controlling jerk and it wasn’t even the sexy dominating kind. The Dante thing was cool at first but then it just became this vague or maybe painfully literal tie-in. The proper motives weren’t there and quite frankly I was bored with it.

HOWEVER…

I kept reading. By page 390 or so, the book actually started for me. If I was the editor, I would cut the first 300 pages. It’s unnecessary and quite frankly unfair to put readers through such torture — talk about an inferno! The last part of the book had action and character development, and I forgot that anything before page 390 had ever happened. Once the reader was given actual information, the story drew me in. Reynard spent too much time in the beginning of the book trying to be mysterious and using gimmicks to goad the reader to assume things when she should have just been divulging information because it was annoying. I guiltily became sort of attached to the characters once the story made more sense. The book didn’t finish very strong but it left me guessing for the next book, Gabriel’s Rapture. I’m undecided if I’ll continue this series but the story redeemed itself towards the end. It might have  only been because I stuck it out though.