Harry Potter Christmas Party

I have had a lack in blogging lately- I'm crappy at keeping up with this during the holidays... always have been. I've been reading at a slower pace as well, but do have some reviews to write over my break (can't wait til Friday!)

So, until then.... I would like to share some pictures of a super fun Christmas party we went to over the weekend... our friends Jess and Tim hosted a Harry Potter Christmas party. We all dressed up as various characters and got "sorted" upon arrival. We played Quidditch pong and some other board games (like Apples to Apples) to earn house points. We ate yummy Harry Potter treats like Peanut Butter Frogs (I made those), pretzel Wands, Deathly Hallow cookies, and (adult!) Butterbeer... there was also a potion station to mix your own adult bevies. I went as Professor Trelawney and Bear dressed as a random Hogwarts student. Both of us happened to be sorted into Ravenclaw- and at the end of the party, Ravenclaw took the House Cup!

It was geekery at its finest... not only were we all Harry Potter geek-ed out, but we also discussed such geeky wonderfulness like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory, and Firefly. Yep.. we're all a bit nerdy. So without further ado.. check out some eye candy from our very Harry Christmas!

Peanut Butter frogs I made for the party
I dressed up as Professor Trelawney, complete with a crystal ball and lots of doom & gloom predictions

Banners that I won (for best costume!), Moaning Myrtle hanging in the bathroom, Death Eater & dead Cedric, full shot of my Trelawney outfit, Jess (hostess with the mostest!) and I, Bear and I, and Darla (a free elf!)
Quidditch pong!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


2013 Challenge Preview

I can't believe that I'm already thinking about 2013 challenges! Wow... where did 2012 go?

In 2012 I joined in a few challenges- some were a month or so in length, like RIP7... while others were months, like the Harry Potter Reading Challenge.. and some were year-long ventures, like the Dystopia Challenge. This post is a round up of my anticipated year-long challenges. I am sure I will join up with smaller month-long challenges throughout the year as well.

I am going to be a bit ambitious with my year-long challenges in 2013. I don't often take on many year-long ventures, but these ones just seem like challenges I would really enjoy.... so without further ado:

Challenge #1 {and the one I am most excited about!}
Challenge Goal: 
Read 1 book each month that has one of the 10 keywords in the title
** there are some allowed tweeks to keywords- check the challenge post for the specifics **
Challenge Timeline: 
Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013
Challenge Keywords:

Challenge #2 {and the one I'm most nervous about}
Challenge Goal:
Read 9 books with colors in the title
Challenge Timeline:
Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013

Challenge #3 {and the one that is completely necessary}
Challenge Goal:
Read a specified amount of books from your TBR pile
Challenge Timeline:
Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013
Challenge Level Choice:
Pikes Peak -- 12 books from my TBR

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Crossed by Ally Condie

Well guys, I promised this review some time ago... better late than never right?

In my review of the first book of this series, Matched, I swooned over the characters and the world that Ally Condie created. The same holds true for Crossed. Characters continue to grow and the world of the Society shifts.

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake. 

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Ally Condie ended Matched with the promise of a new future. Things shifted rapidly in the ending of Matched for Cassia, Ky, and Xander. They must forge a new path for themselves. Crossed primarily follows Ky and Cassia... Xander takes a backseat for this part of the trilogy. He appears intermittently throughout Crossed and we see bits and pieces of him that we had yet to recognize. Xander may not be a major player, but he is not forgotten. Condie also changed the format- the chapters are now written from specific perspectives, switching between Ky and Cassia. New characters are also introduced in Crossed. Eli, Indie, and Vick all come into play in this novel. They are developed and are key players in the story. Each new character brings out another dimension in Cassia and Ky. As they struggle to find one another, uncover the truth, and break away from the Society, the reality of the Rising begins to unfold. 
The ending to Crossed is a major cliff-hanger. I'm talking "oh my god where is my copy of Reached?!" status. There is no closure to this one. Crossed sets serious anticipation for Reached. Thankfully for me, I had my copy of Reached in the mail when I finally closed Crossed. I was practically salivating when it showed up (late!) in my mailbox.

Up next: Reached - the conclusion to the Matched Trilogy.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Matched by Ally Condie

I cannot swoon about Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy enough. I loved the first two installments, and the conclusion comes TOMORROW with Reached. I am desperately waiting for the mailman to deliver my pre-order copy tomorrow. Yes yes yes!

So, what it this trilogy all about, you ask? Well, let's just say that in this dystopian society, nothing is as it seems. Statistics and control are the name of the game for The Society. Cassia Reyes, Xander Carrow, and Ky Marckham are the main players in the Official's game of chess.

From Ally Condie's Matched Trilogy website:

In the Society, Officials decide.
Who you love.
Where you work.
When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when he best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one... until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.  Now Cassia is faced with the impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion.

Check out the Matched book trailer below:

Ally Condie created another universe with the Society. A look into a not-so-distant future, the Society is based on statistics. They know who you are and how you are likely to react to anything they throw at you. They tell you what to read, what to listen to, what to watch and when to watch it. The Officials have it all planned out for you.
The structure of the Society's government is well developed. Condie clearly put a lot of work into setting creation. While reading Matched, I felt like I knew what drove this Society and how our world turned into the structured and overbearing government that it is.
I also was quite drawn to the characters. Cassia is easy to fall in step with. You can see yourself in her, both in her obedience and her rebellion. Xander and Ky are less developed, but this isn't their story.. yet. Cassia is the focus of Matched and she is clearly portrayed in writing.
Condie fabulously developed the two most important aspects of a novel's backbone- the setting and the characters. As a reader, you want to feel in tune to the place and the people. Condie did just that. She created a world that was both understandable and terrifying. She formed characters that you can find within yourself and in your life. The backbone of this trilogy is well formed.
Beautifully depressing, Matched has an amazing story that swiftly pulls the reader in. Stunning in her prose and her thoughtfulness, Ally Condie created a story that I feel all humans can relate to on some level.

Since Matched is the first novel in this trilogy, it needed to pull us in and not let go. It did just that. Barely able to put it down, by time I reached the end I was craving more. I knew that this trilogy would be this way- that is why I held off on reading it until I could time it just right for the release of Reached. I began the journey with Cassia in Matched and followed her into Crossed. The ending of Matched is amazing, by the way. Part of me feels that it can stand alone. The ending allows closure, while opening up a whole new can of worms at the same time. It left so many doors open after shutting one. Condie did a fabulous job of making the reader want more.

Overall, this book is phenomenal. I loved the premise and the amazing depth that was within the pages. Ally Condie wrote an amazing story that plays out beautifully on paper.
Crossed in the second book in this trilogy, and I will post my review of that later in the week. Crossed is a stunning read as well. The final installment of the Matched Trilogy reaches up tomorrow, November 13th. Reached will be released in hardback and I will be anxiously awaiting my copy.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book Sale!

Last night Bear and I went to the annual Penguin Book Sale. Like I said this weekend, I have been every year for ages. I've stocked my classroom library, personal library, and get awesome Christmas gifts every year with these amazing closeouts. 

For those of you living near upstate NY, here is the schedule for the warehouse sale:

I started going when I was in high school... knowing back then that I wanted to teach, I purchased hundreds of books and class sets for my future classroom. Now I have bins of elementary school books and sets in my  garage (I teach middle school now) and an amazing middle school library here in my classroom.

Back in the day, I used to wait in the long line to get in on Saturday... I no longer do that. It is cold and always super busy on Saturday, since that is the opening day. Now, that isn't to say that it is calm and collected on the other days- BUT it is noticeably less packed on the weeknights. For instance, it was busy last night but I didn't need to wait in a line outside to get in and I waited only 10 minutes in line to purchase my items, and it was only that long because the woman in front of me was paying by check. Also, I know a lot of people think going on the first Saturday gets them the "better" books- NOT true. The books are stocked constantly and on a rotating basis. Plus, there are hundreds of each book. So, no matter what day you go, you will get great books at amazing prices and you can expect to run into crowds regardless.
People checking out the book selection, and our haul as we wait in line.
This year, I elected not to purchase books for my classroom- for the first time in years. Instead, Bear and I brought $50 and two reusable grocery totes and purchased books for us and for our nieces and nephews. We got 34 books and spent $46 in an hour- I walked in at 5:06 and left by 6:10. We got plenty of sticker books for the young ones and Marvel Superhero books for the boys. We also always purchase Madeline some books- this year we scored a beautiful hardcover Disney Princess book, 'Madeline in London' (because she is obsessing over London right now & loves looking at my parents photo album from their trip there), a few Ladybug Girl books (she loves her!), and some great Disney & Pixar movie tie-in books. I also purchased a bunch of books for myself. I scored some sweet Lego Harry Potter books (yep- total geek) and a few good YA books I have been holding out for. In all, I think I purchased 9 for myself... looks like I've got a lot of reading and reviewing to do this month!

Our book haul - on the left, books for me (except the Star Wars Lego) and on the right, the Christmas collection for the kiddos

You'll notice in my pile that I got the critically acclaimed Fault in Our Stars by John Green ($2), Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson ($1), and The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler ($1). All three of those books have been on my TBR list and I was holding out the hope that they'd be at the sale. So happy I scored them! The rest of my collection are books that sounded interesting to me, some are YA dystopian and some are mysteries. In all, I am super happy with my book sale haul. I can't wait to dive into my new books!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Coming Soon

Hello All! Hope you had a spooktacular Halloween and a wonderful weekend. How are you feeling with that amazing extra hour of sleep?! I'm certainly happy about it, but that earlier darkness for now. Boo.

Any-who, I have plenty coming up on the blog. I'm currently reading the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie. I got the first book, Matched, when it first came out in November of 2010. Then I never read it- it sat on my TBR shelf and soon Crossed (November 2011) sat with it. Finally I picked them up, since the third installment, Reached, is released this month. I have my order in for Reached and will be thrilled when it comes in! I've finished Matched, so look for that later this week. Crossed and Reached will follow later this month.

I also received my updated & revised version of Harry Potter Film Wizardry when it came out last month. I love Amazon for delivering items on the day they are released! I am super happy that I waited to get the updated version, instead of buying it when it was originally released (with only Deathly Hallows part 1). Be on the lookout for plenty of pictures and my thoughts on Film Wizardry soon!

With the film release of 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I decided to revisit the story on my Kindle. It was as stunning as it was the first time I read it. I plan to compare it with the movie if I make it to see it before it leaves theaters. If not, I will post that review & comparison when the movie is released to Netflix or RedBox and I pick it up.

This coming week will also feature some photo-posts. Tomorrow Barrett and I will be going to the Penguin Putnam Book Sale. We go every year... I've been going since I was in college, and know NOT to go on Saturday. WAY too crowded. I like to go on the weeknights. This year will be one trip for personal books & Christmas gifts for my nieces & nephews. Typically we both get books for our classrooms, but this year we are electing to skip out on the class books and just do a smaller book haul for us. For those of you who haven't been, I will post pictures so you can see the amazingness that is the book sale! I'll also post some Halloween photos, basement workout room additions, and maybe a few funny work photos.

Oh, and a quick update on The Casual Vacancy- I started it and was interested, but other books tore me away. I am going to give it another go-round later this month. I need to pull my mind away from JK Rowling and Harry Potter so I can truly enjoy the book for what it is.

I may also be updating the look of my blog this month... is it too early to change to a Christmas theme?! This snow & promise of an upcoming Nor'Easter are getting me in the (early!) spirit! 

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Full Dark, No Stars

I picked Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King for my Peril of the Short Story section of RIP 7. I've had a ton of fun reading and participating in RIP 7 and am happy that I joined in. I was certainly exposed to books I wouldn't normally pick up, like this short story collection. They just aren't my cup of tea. BUT, this is Stephen King. That makes it a whole new ball game. I finished up Full Dark, No Stars last week and I must say- it was amazing. I love Stephen King. His writing is beautiful yet terrifying. I'm always a bit suspicious of short story collections, but this was definitely phenomenal. It was just as creepy as any of King's full length novels.

Reading Full Dark, No Stars at one of Maddie's soccer practices
Full Dark, No Stars contains four grisly tales from master of the eerie, Stephen King. The version that I picked up was the May 2011 paperback reprint edition by Gallery Books, which also included a fifth tale titled "Under the Weather". I was thrilled to purchase this book at Ollie's for a mere $2.99 -- woohoo bargain books!

Let me first say that I love the version I purchased. I think this cover is much more eye-catching than the hardcover version. KING plastered across the top does, as always, scream "buy me!" (well, at least for me!). King's writing is plain spectacular, without a doubt.
Full Dark, No Stars features the short stories "1922", "Big Driver", "Fair Extension", "A Good Marriage", and included in this paperback version, "Under the Weather". I certainly enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, but do have thoughts on each in their own respect. I will just breifly touch on them, as I do not want to provide any spoilers.

  • The first story, "1922" starts this book out with a bang. It is intense and thrilling, leaving you guessing until the end. I think this is one of the best in the book, and am pleased that this is what leads the book. It definitely plunges you into the creep-tastic land that is Stephen King's mind.
  • The second tale, "Big Driver" was gruesome. There were some moments when I had to put the book down for a break- some scenes were so disturbing that I needed to take time away to clear my mind of the images. I did like the story, even if it was quite upsetting at times.
  • "Fair Extension" is well-placed in the book. I thought this was the weakest of the stories. It is the shortest of the four main tales and in my opinion, is better off for that. The story didn't feel fully developed to me, and the ending kind of left me hanging. Strange, but not really scary or creepy, which is what I like from King.
  • The conclusion of Full Dark, No Stars comes full circle with "A Good Marriage". This one was by far my favorite of the stories. Not only was this story grisly and terrifying, it was also thought-provoking. It really put into mind intense situations viewed from the inside. I think it gave readers a reason to question when they are being told, in a non-judgmental way.
  • Lastly, my version contained the story "Under the Weather". A short addition to the book, I thought it was okay. It didn't blow me away but it didn't disappoint me either. I did find it predictable, but I know that MANY people reviewed it as being shocking too. Maybe I just watch to many horror flicks.

In all, this book is a great collection of disturbing stories that is sure to set your hair on edge and prickle your skin. Stephen King once again delivers exactly what his readers want: gruesome, interesting, scary, thought-provoking tales. I would highly recommend this to any King fan and to those looking for a few good scary stories. This is a great book for cuddling in a blanket on a dark and stormy night!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Graveyard Book

I recently read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for RIP 7 and the October Read-Along, and I am completely impressed with Neil Gaiman's writing and this story. I have not experienced any Neil Gaiman books, although I have seen the movie Coraline which is based on Gaiman's work. Without RIP 7 I probably never would have read this book and for that, I am grateful. Thanks to RIP 7 I enjoyed this magical tale and will certainly be reading more of Gaiman's work.

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . . 

From the very beginning of this tale, Gaiman puts the reader on the edge of his seat and wondering. Who is the man named Jack and why did he kill Nobody Owen's family- and why on earth is a man out looking for a baby to murder?! We enter the graveyard with Bod and the man named Jack in pursuit. There we meet who is to become Bod's family and where he will subsequently live. Imagine, a baby being raised by ghosts and growing up in a graveyard. Sounds both mystifying and heartbreaking; which is exactly what this story evokes.
Bod grows up  in the graveyard among ghosts as he tries to navigate through his adolescence. What will happen to a little boy raised in such a dark place?
Gaiman wrote this story in such a beautiful and haunting way. Some parts are terrifying and others are lovely. Filled with beautiful language and a setting that is strangely stunning in my imagination. I could see the graveyard where Bod was living and learning. The characters are also wonderfully developed- with enough mystery to keep the reader guessing but enough connection to feel like you know these members of the graveyard.
I discussed the middle chapters of this book in a previous post, which can be found here. If you click along to RIP 7 and the Graveyard Book discussion pages, you will uncover many views and pieces to the puzzle by other readers who joined the October read-along. I cannot say more except that Gaiman composed an extraordinary tale.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow



As most of you are aware, I subscribe to the eReader News Today newsletter, where I get daily updates of new Kindle books that are currently free. I often grab a fair amount for free and peruse them later... sometimes I question the purchase, sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, and sometimes I get freebies that I've been waiting for. 

Okay, so long story short: 
I purchased (for free) 54 Ways to Save Money on Gas! by Dan Eitreim the other day & browsed through it last night.
I don't even know what to say about this. First of all, it starts off with a disclaimer... basically to make sure I don't sue the author or publisher for any information that may be misleading or incorrect. Okay fine, I get it- things change after publication and they want to cover their asses.

So I started reading and must say that I pretty much just glossed over. I read the 54 tips and for all but a few, I just skimmed the paragraphs breaking down the tip. This book was filled with "duh" moments. Almost all of the tips were common sense... like take the bus or take fewer trips to the store... gee, thanks for pointing out the obvious. Some of the tips were ones that I knew because I took the time to learn about basic (and I mean VERY basic) car information... like tire pressure and changing the oil and filters. Again, thanks for recapping what my Dad taught me when I was 16. I know I'm being a bit snarky, but I totally felt led on by this book. I was thinking I'd learn some tricks, when in reality most of it was stuff I knew or stuff that its just plain common sense. BUT, I did find a few useful tips that I had been unaware of or just forgotten. One was buy gas on Wednesday- it is typically the cheapest day of the week (oh, and along with that thought process, buy 3 days before any holiday- that I did know already). Another is to buy in the morning-- I knew this, but didn't know why.. the book did explain the science behind this which was cool. Lastly, I learned that you shouldn't ever let your tank get to E and when you fill up, always fill up all the way but don't "top off" to get that last teeny gas squeeze (it'll just end up evaporating anyways). The whole "don't get to E" was interesting too- apparently sludge & gas nastiness is at the bottom of your tank and it can make your engine wear faster of you're always running on that last gunky bit of gas in the tank.

Basically, don't pay for this book. It is not worth it. The $3 is better spent on (less than) a gallon of gas. I'm glad it was free, because if I paid for this I would feel completely duped. Even still, I was annoyed that I wasted my time with the book- sure it was a quick read, but I can't ever get that time back! Haha. Even for the few tips I did take away, I'm pretty sure that none of it is going to make me save any considerable amount of money.
Oh well. At least I know that my "always fill up in the morning" mantra is actually scientifically backed.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The Graveyard Book Discussion II

I'm currently reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman as part of RIP VII and our October Read-Along. RIP VII mastermind, Carl, is the our fearless host for this read-along. We're reading the book in 3 sections from Oct 1st - Oct 21st, with discussion posts throughout. Of course, being the non-organized and busy blogger that I am, I didn't write up a discussion post of the first chapters. Oops. So, before I delve into discussing chapters 4 - 6, I will give you a few thoughts on the first chapters.

Overall, The Graveyard Book quickly sucked me in, especially in the first few chapters. Right from the get-go I was interested in the man Jack and his motives. Meeting Mr. and Mrs. Owens was a pleasure, and the entire concept of ghosts raising a live baby is fascinating. As the story unfolded before me, I was searching for snippets of information pertaining to Bod and his rearing in a graveyard. The language and formalities in The Graveyard Book are both magical as they span centuries.
The illustrations are also a beautiful edition to the story. I have the Kindle edition, but think I will likely end up purchasing the hardcover so the gorgeous illustrations.

Basically, I was swooning over the first few chapters of The Graveyard Book. I was quickly falling in love. As I plugged along as a fierce pace, I was falling even more in love with Neil Gaiman and his writing. It is simply spectacular. Being the first Gaiman book I have ever read, I wasn't sure what to expect. Plain and simple- blown away.

Bod is such a sweet sweet boy. In chapter 4 (The Witch's Headstone) we get to see his curiosity continue to flourish as he tries to uncover (and help!) the resident witch. Bod begins to show signs of independence as he  once again disobeys his parents and guardian. I was certainly on the edge of my seat when he went in to town and tried to pawn the brooch- and what exactly IS up with the brooch?? It sounds stunning and I totally want to know more.

The Danse Macabre was a bit confusing to me, it seemed somewhat out of place in the story. I did enjoy the songs that were sung throughout that chapter. Quite poetic, actually.

The Interlude awoke my questions about the man Jack... what exactly is going on?? I am thrown off and once again thinking back to the very first chapter where we first meet the man Jack. 

The 6th chapter, Nobody's Owens' School Days, has a great message about bullying and standing up for others but also a bit about ego and growing up. I think Bod got a little bit high and mighty in this chapter, especially in the way he handles the bullies. I loved Silas' role in this chapter as well, especially how he saves the day. Overall, I enjoyed this chapter and had a difficult time stopping myself from reading on!

How are the rest of you enjoying the book so far? I know it is a re-read for many of the RIP VII participants, so I am interested in reading your posts & hearing your opinions on the chapters, especially with the knowledge of the rest of Bod's adventure in the graveyard and beyond. Check out other participants and link up your thoughts over on Carl's blog.
I'll be seeing you all around the blogosphere this week!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


RIP Movie Review: The Tall Man

Last week I was trolling around on Netflix and stumbled across The Tall Man, a thriller starring Jessica Biel that was released to DVD on the 25th of September. It is an "English-language French mystery film". As I was looking for some screen shots and movie posters to add this this review, I stumbled upon some reviews- mostly poor. Now, I cannot say that this movie was in any way scary and I certainly wouldn't even put it into the mystery category. I would call this more of a psychological thriller. The premise of the movie is based around the legend of The Tall Man- a dark and mysterious man who steals the local children, never to be seen again. The main character is Julia, a widowed mother who is also the local nurse. Her world is turned upside down when her son is stolen. When taken, Julia fights to find her son and take him back. As the story unfolds, the twists and turns get quicker and more substantial. I must admit that I was surprised by a lot of the twists, but did figure out the ending mid-way through. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the movie. The setting the dark and dismal, the characters were interesting, and the myth was intriguing. Not overly amazing, but certainly not disappointing. I would recommend this on Netflix for a filler movie when you're in search of something different and of a psychological thriller.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


FEED by Mira Grant

I admit that the cover is what drew me in. The story is what kept me there.

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives - the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
Synopsis from Goodreads

FEED (Newsflesh Trilogy, Book 1) by Mira Grant is not your average zombie book. Zombies play a pivotal  role in FEED, but so does blogging, the news, and politics. Part zombie horror and part political thriller, this novel was a lot to digest. The protagonists, Georgia and Shaun Mason are bloggers who have been invited to follow the campaign trail of Senator Peter Ryman, positioning for the Republican bid. It is 2039, and America has been living in a post-apocalyptic world. Kellis-Amberlee has been born, and is now a fact of life, creating zombies and destroying our world. As a result, the news is no longer popular in print, but a booming blogging industry has helped to mold the way people get their information. Georgia and Shaun are at the front of the pack. FEED follows the duo as they uncover some ugly truths about Kellis-Amberlee, the government, and the CDC.

I did enjoy this novel. It wasn't a 'typical' zombie novel. The political thriller aspect really added a new dimension to the sub-genre of zombie thrillers. The characters were well developed and the overall world was created with skill. Grant also did a fabulous job with the back-story of Kellis-Amberlee and the Mason's family. I find myself always searching for those answers in books, and she delivered. I can imagine that explaining the medical back-story of such is difficult, but Mira Grant explained it well enough that I feel like I can totally explain Kellis-Amberlee to anyone as if I was living during the zombie era.  I do feel as though the novel was a bit overworked at times, and a bit of a drag. I hit some spots where I just got a bit tired of it- not quite as fast-paced as I would have enjoyed. However, the overall concept is what pushed me through. I was beyond glad that I did, because as I moved further into the story and the political thriller became more evident,  the novel just propelled itself. The last chapters of FEED were all-consuming, and I just couldn't put it down. Grant has many twists and turns that keep the reader interested, but the ending was mind blowing. I was shocked and can honestly say that I didn't see it coming- which doesn't happen often. Thrilled and surprised, I closed FEED and was immediately anxious to continue the story with the next in the series, Deadline.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


RIP 7 update & scenes from reading

I've been away from the blog for much too long! Things have been busy the past few weeks with work and Autumn planning (we have a Fall Festival at work that I help organize for the kiddos and I've been busy making & baking around the house!). I have been reading and perusing the creepy movie scene. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Sinister next week (Oct 12) and cannot wait to go! I heard on the radio the other morning that it was so scary people are walking out of the theaters... FINALLY- a movie that may be worthy of true fear. I haven't seen a movie that freaked me out in ages, so I am hoping that Sinister is able to fill the void.
Reading has been slow though. My classroom just received our 14 Galaxy tablets and my time was spent diligently unlinking social networking, setting up the WiFi at work, creating student gmail accounts, and downloading and adding educational apps. Which, let me tell you- sounds like no big deal, but goodness gracious! It took for-ev-errrr. 

I've been reading FEED by Mira Grant and although I am enjoying it, it hasn't been holding my attention to plow through... I spent a lot of time at the doctors offices waiting this past few weeks, so I got a fair amount read there. However, I still have about 150 pages left, but I am determined to finish it by the weeks end. 

I've also begun The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for the RIP 7 October Read Along... that is on my Kindle and of course I just started it when my battery died. Ugh. Plopped her on the charger and I will resume reading this evening.

Recent scenes from my reading:
Reading FEED in the car, reading on the window seat in our hotel, FEED in bed, sometimes I hoop & read, reading Goblet of Fire aloud to my class, and reading in the doctors office
Saw this in a bathroom stall & just had to share!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book Blogger Hop

Welcome to the weekly Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jen over at Crazy-for-Books

This week, she asks a blogging question:
What is the one thing your blog followers do not know about you?

You probably have no idea that I have dabbled in photography. I have a beautiful Nikon DSLR and have spent many wonderful moments photographing both people and things. I've been featured in the newspaper, featured during Binghamton's First Friday Art Walk at a local cafe, featured in the Arts in the Parks summer fest, and had multiple pieces in rotation at local galleries. I've also done engagement photos. All of these things were a few years ago (mainly late 2007 to early 2010), as I am  not actively photographing anymore. Now I only photograph for pleasure. While I enjoyed my stint in photography, my life just happened to lead me in another direction. 

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow



Prized is the second book in the Birthmarked trilogy by Caragh M. O'Brien. This young adult novel follows Gaia Stone as she continues her journey through her dystopian society, trying to find the strength to stand for what she believes in.

Please note that this synopsis and my subsequent review may reveal some story lines from Birthmarked (book #1) and Tortured (bridge book #1.5)
You can find my review of Birthmarked here and my review of Tortured here

Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone survives only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code, but how can she deny her sense of justice, her curiosity, and everything in her heart that makes her whole?

I really enjoyed this novel. When I finished Birthmarked, I was very eager to continue the trilogy. It obviously took me some time to get around to it, but once I started Tortured all the memories of the plot lines in Birthmarked flooded back. The same happened when I began reading Prized. Birthmark left us hanging in the balance- wondering what would come of Gaia and baby Maya. Prized answered those questions. Gaia made it to the wasteland and found herself in a new society, Sylum. As she began to learn the rules of this new society, ruled by women, her beliefs were challenged. Prized allowed us a glimpse into Gaia's mind and her struggle to define her values and beliefs as she was taken in by Sylum. When Leon appears in the Sylum jail, things begin to shift inside Gaia. As she works out her own issues, Leon is doing the same. They both have a lot of baggage to sift through while they discover what they want in one another and what they want for their futures.

Prized kept me engaged and interested- the society that O'Brien built in Sylum was extremely consuming. There were some aspects that I did not find plausible, but for the most part, Sylum was a believable dystopian society. It was built by women (for women) and developed over years of control. I can see how in the beginning the society was formed to help sustain a simple life and continue their population.... and I can also see how the years changed the women, creating power and control hungry leaders. O'Brien also created a lot of depth of character in Gaia and Leon as they changed while living in Sylum. While reading Prized, I felt much more connection to all of the characters. They were fully developed and the characters in the shadows were also multidimensional . Prized had a strong internal struggle throughout the story, which I think really created a platform for character development.
Aside from the deep connection to Gaia's struggle, I thoroughly enjoyed Prized for its pace and constant movement. I remember feeling a bit stalled while reading Birthmarked, but I certainly didn't feel that way with Prized. The moments that it did lull, I was still anxiously awaiting the turn of the page. Again, O'Brien left us with another major cliffhanger at the completion of Prized. I would highly reccommend this book for young adult and dystopian fans alike. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of Promised on Oct 2nd and cannot wait to download it to my Kindle and dive in!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


BBAW day 4

As always, I am late to join in Book Blogger Appreciation Week. You'd think I would get on top of this by now. But, not so much. Today is DAY 4 of BBAW. I've been busy trolling the linkys over at BBAW2012 and enjoying seeing amazing new blogs. I've been an on-again off-again blogger for ages, so I missed a lot when I was in an off-again moment. My goal nowadays is to limit off-again to vacations from the blog (with pre-posted material!)

Ohhh okay, anywho... back to BBAW day 4
Todays topic:
Pimp that Book!

Today we get to be pimps and share a book or author we love.

I'm pimping Heather Gudenkauf. I love her writing. It is magical. I know a lot of people enjoy her as well, so I'm pimping her book "The Weight of Silence", written in 2009. While it it still appreciated (as is her writing in general) I want to pimp this author out because EVERYONE should read her! "The Weight of Silence" is spectacular... go get it.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow