Friday, January 25, 2013

TV Talk: The Following

TV Talk: The Following

Review by Lauren

do not own any images

Starring: Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore, etc.

Zap 2 It Premise: When serial killer Joe Carroll escapes from death row, the FBI calls on Ryan Hardy, the former agent who put him behind bars nine years earlier. While the team starts out thinking of Hardy as a liability, he proves his worth when he figures out that Carroll had been communicating with a network of killers while he was in prison and that they were planning more than just his escape. When Carroll's intended last victim from before his incarceration is kidnapped, it becomes clear that the psychopath means to finish what he started.

Review: The Following just aired its pilot episode this past Monday and it's already one of my new favorite shows. Seriously, it's very good. Your heart will ache for Kevin Bacon's character, Ryan, because of all he put into this case and everything he's lost. At the same time, he's a fighter and will not quit until the job is finished.

As for serial killer Joe Carroll, actor James Purefoy is creepy and sinister...but even moreso due to the scenes from the past where you can see how ordinary he looks. He's a good-looking, British man, who is a professor of romantic literature (with an intense love for Edgar Allan Poe). If you didn't know he was a serial killer, I think most people would find him charismatic, and that's obviously the truly scary part.

She has The Raven by Poe written on her body

Speaking of the Poe connection, that's kind of a nice twist on the story too. Carroll taught Poe and the people he killed nine years ago had their eyes removed due to Poe's stories that focus on eyes and how it represents people's souls. There is even references to The Raven and scenes from this upcoming season show that the Poe mentions will still be going strong. It's just another plus for me!

Finally, here is the Storyline, courtesy of IMDB that gives you more insight into what will come this season:

The FBI estimates there are currently over 300 active serial killers in the United States. What would happen if these killers had a way of communicating and connecting with each other? What if they were able to work together and form alliances across the country? What if one brilliant psychotic serial killer was able to bring them all together and activate a following?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Interview: Victoria Scott (The Collector)

Interview with Victoria Scott, author of The Collector

Questions by Lauren

Official Summary of The Collector (out April 2, 2013): Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence has made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple, weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag.

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal opportunity collector and doesn’t want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within 10 days.

Dante doesn’t know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky, Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect—he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector, and uncover emotions deeply buried.

Interview with Victoria Scott

1. First off, is The Collector going to be part of a series or a stand-alone? 

A series! Entangled Teen bought the rights to three books.

2. Since Dante Walker is the talk of the blog world (and there is even a "version" of him on your book cover), I have to ask: what current actor would you choose to play Dante if The Collector was made into a film? 

I would have Zac Effron play Dante. I feel like he's a strong enough actor and could pull off the swagger. Plus, you know, I could meet Zac. So there's that.

3. Your website includes songs listed as "Dante's Faves". Are these songs you think Dante would like, or are they actually pertainable to the story?

Great question! They are songs that represent Dante in some way or another.

4. Witty characters are quite attractive to readers these days. What were the best and worst (or you know, hardest...) parts of writing in Dante's voice? 

Man, it was pretty easy to nail his voice, but when writing smexy scenes I had to constantly remind myself that "I'm the guy right now." Ha!

5. Your summary describes Charlie as a "Nerd Alert chick". I take that to mean she's a nerd, or a geek, but could you elaborate? 

Oh, yes. She's quite the nerd....a lovable nerd, though. Someone who has friends and dreams and a good heart, but also someone who doesn't fit social norms for one reason or another. I heart Charlie Cooper something fierce, and hope readers will, too.

About the Author:

Victoria Scott is the author of THE COLLECTOR trilogy (Entangled Teen) and THE BRIMSTONE BLEED trilogy (Scholastic). Victoria has a master's degree in marketing, and lives in Dallas with her husband. You can find her online at:   

Monday, January 21, 2013

Movie Review: Argo

Movie: Argo

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.

Review: I won't pretend that I know a lot about history, so I didn't go into this movie with a ton of knowledge concerning the hostage situation in Iran. I'm telling you this mainly to say that it's not important how much you know beforehand. You can still see the movie and get all the information you need to understand while watching.

As for the actual movie, I know I'm quite late in seeing this and by this point, if you have not seen it, you might end up waiting until you can rent it. That doesn't mean it's not worth seeing in theaters. It is and I wish I could have seen this one earlier, but alas, life gets in the way.

Since Argo has been out for awhile, I won't go on and on about it. Basically, I think everyone did a great job. Ben Affleck made an amazing film (he directed) and his role as Tony Mendez was equally wonderful. You could see the emotion in him and how difficult it was to go into Iran, promising to bring these men and women to safety...especially when other forces are making things even more difficult.

The supporting cast was just as great and I loved seeing a lot of familiar faces...especially Bryan Cranston as Jack O'Donnell, who works with the CIA. He's back in America, desperately hoping this "best bad idea" will succeed. Cranston had some humorous moments as well, which were nice. I think Alan Arkin and John Goodman were the biggest comedic relief, though, and it was a welcome change here and there since Argo is kind of a suspenseful film.

Overall, good film; definitely deserves some awards!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Interview: Bella Forrest (A Shade of Vampire)

Interview with author Bella Forrest

Author of A Shade of Vampire (Buy the e-book for $3.99) 

Other Versions to Buy- 

USA, paperback
USA, eBook
UK, paperback
UK, eBook

Questions by Lauren

Book Summary: On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.

A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.

She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.
An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.

Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.

Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

1. A Shade of Vampire is called a young adult paranormal, but the summary
sounds like it could be a New Adult. To make things easier, what age range
do you feel the book fits into?

I would say anywhere from about 11 years upward. I even had a seventy-year
old contact me recently saying that she had enjoyed it!

So it's quite hard for me to define an age range, because the style of
this book seems to appeal to most ages.

2. Is A Shade of Vampire part of a series, and if so, how many books will
there be in all?

Yes. A Shade of Vampire is the first part of a series, although I am
undecided right now exactly how many books will follow it.

3. If you had to pick one song that fits the books (a situation, a
character, etc.), what would it be and why?

I don't know the answer to this one, because there was quite a variety of
music I listened to while writing this book. I don't think just one song
could encapsulate it - or at least, I can't think of one that does right

4. Finally, are you a fan of other vampire stories, and if so, what are
some you'd recommend? If not, what other books do you like to read?

I am a fan of vampires, but if I'm honest I'm not a huge fan of a lot of
vampire books out there.

Although I do love the fantasy/YA genre - I adore Harry Potter and The
Chronicles of Narnia, for example.

I also like murder mysteries. At one point in my life I was addicted to
Agatha Christie's books.

Connect with Bella

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Breaking the Devil's Heart is Selling Like Crazy (Buy E-Book for 99 cents)

Breaking the Devil's Heart by H.A. Goodman is available as an e-book for your Kindle and it's doing a fantastic job lately in sales! I'm so proud of this book. I read and reviewed it over the summer and loved it so much, the author is now one of my clients for Shooting Stars Promotion. If you haven't checked out this book yet, please give it a chance!

 Buy the Kindle e-book right now for 99 cents!

You can see how well the e-book is doing in the photo above! Definitely think about buying a copy today (and you can buy a physical version of the book too!)

A friend of mine bought the e-book recently (he wanted suggestions for books and I gave him this one) and he was really enjoying it the last I heard! This is a guy who loved Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and I figured Breaking the Devil's Heart would be a fine transition for has some romance, but not graphic, and it's full of action and fantasy, among much much more!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cultural Exchange Guest Post by Michael Harling

Cultural Exchange

A Guest Post by Mike Harling, author of
Postcards from Across the Pond

Mike's interview (as well as my review for Postcards from Across the Pond)

Ed. Note: This is a guest post that Mike wrote for my old blog, Bridge the Gap. It was posted in 2009, so obviously it's been awhile...keep that in mind when reading to the end! 

I was born in America; it seemed the natural thing to do. And there were times, I kid you not, when I would reflect on the rest of the world, marveling at how so many people could lack the good fortune or foresight to not have been born in America. Or at least Canada.

There was also a time when it seemed to me that anyone who really mattered came from America, as well. I shared this observation with my mother, capping it off with, "Even Jesus was an American." I was quite young.

My mom set me straight on the Jesus theory, but couldn't deny that the others on my list were true blue, as was I.

Over the years, I discovered the joys of travel, but never strayed too far from home (in a place as big as America, that's not as contradictory as it sounds) and certainly never considered leaving it. But then I did. (Short version: met a woman. Long version: buy the book.) Now I believe that every American should be required to spend a year living abroad. (In the interest of keeping their “Out of Nation” experience from being too much of a culture shock, however, it might be best if they started off visiting countries with indoor plumbing.)

Even the non-Americans I have posed this idea to think it’s a good one, as broadening the world-view of the United States is advantageous for all concerned, provided the Americans in question don’t come to “visit” as part of a large camouflage-clad group toting rifles and driving armored vehicles.

These days I reserve my wonder for the people in America who have never had the opportunity of experiencing a different culture; and I can’t help feeling a little sorry for them. They will never know the strange thrill that comes from seeing the weather map on the news not showing an aerial view of their own home county (like when you visited Baltimore that time on your school trip). They will never experience the simultaneous shock of astonishment, disbelief and disappointment as they ride down the A-303 and ask their travel companion about those strange rocks in the field off to the right and receive the reply: "Oh them; that's Stonehenge."

England, despite my erstwhile supposition of ubiquitous Americanism, figures large in our culture, or at least it did in mine. Remember that place the lady rode her Cock Horse to? Yeah, it's here. I drove through it a few months back. And the Muffin Man, well, he doesn't live in Drury lane any more, but Drury lane is still there. Also, once you get out of America you start realizing that many notable people (Prince Charles, for instance) are not, in fact, American. I mean, Oasis; who knew they were from Manchester? I thought they came from Seattle.

Even if you can’t arrange to live overseas, you should at least pop over for a visit. The UK is a good place to start because they sort of speak the same language and we share a great deal of heritage. And now would be the optimum time, while the dollar hasn’t free-fallen quite as far as the pound and you can actually get a decent rate of exchange. If you’re on a limited budget, visit London; it’s like New York City in that you can't swing a tea cosy without hitting something famous. On a pleasant day you could go for a stroll and take in Trafalgar Square, The Tower of London, Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Westminster Abby and Buckingham Palace and still have time for a pint and a visit to the gift shoppe. That’s value for money, and not always possible in other countries (try visiting Mt Rushmore and Old Faithful in the same day).

So think about it. Come for a visit or, if you can swing it, a longer stay, because nothing compares to the adventure inherent in the daily navigation of a foreign culture. Even after seven years I still, on occasion, look around myself and think, “Holy shit, I’m in England.” And being amazing by your own life is a great way to live.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Postcards from Across the Pond by Michael Harling + Interview

Postcards from Across the Pond: Dispatches from an Accidental Expat by Michael Harling

Review by Lauren

copy from author, but all opinions are my own

Michael Harling website

Michael Harling blog

Review: This is one of those review copies that I've had around for a long time, and for that, I'm very sorry because it's one enjoyable book! Postcards from Across the Pond is a collection of short essays (each one is usually about a page or two, so it's easy to read here and there when you have time) about Harling's time in England. He visited Europe...then ended up falling in love, getting married, and moving there. It's not what he had in mind, but he's enjoying his new life and quite humorously pointing out the differences between UK and US life.

I know a bit about England, but I've never been. However, I loved hearing about it from a fellow American. He loves the country, but he can see their weird quirks, and even how they are better than the U.S. in ways.

One of the highlights when reading this book is the essay on Thanksgiving...obviously England doesn't celebrate our Thanksgiving, so that was kind of fun to read about, but what made it even better is that I found myself coming across this essay on Thanksgiving.

While I said I'd never been to England, my sister has and I let her read this book too and she really enjoyed it. I actually gave it to another friend who will be studying in England this semester and she told me she loved it as well. If that doesn't convince you to check out this collection, then I don't know what will!! Remember, though, the author loves England (and he does repeatedly say so) so don't take anything to offence (especially if you are English, or you too love the country).

Now, I didn't get the book read/reviewed until now, but I did interview the author and had him do a guest post on my blog Bridge the Gap. I no longer use Bridge the Gap (everything that would go there just comes here) but it was originally where I wanted to focus on entertainment from other countries. I hope to do that moreso here, though, since I feel like I haven't in awhile.

Anyway, here's my older interview with Michael Harling (guest post will go up tomorrow!)

1. What made you decide on the title, Postcards from Across the Pond? Was this a first choice or did it come later? If it wasn't your first idea, what were some discarded ones?

It just seemed natural. It was the first thing that came to mind and I liked it and continued to use it; I have not regretted it.

2. When reading your book, what can people expect to find?

My book is very much like my website and blog; humorous articles on what it is like being an American living in the UK. The essays in the book are not featured on the website, but the style and subject matter is similar. So if you enjoy what you read on the website, you’ll like the book. And vice versa.

3. Do you have plans to write anything else in the near future? Will it be non-fiction or perhaps fiction?

My plan has always been to be a novelist. I fell into humor writing quite by accident and the fact that I have published a humor book still surprises me. I have written several novel manuscripts and my most recent one is still out there looking for a publisher. I am also working on my next novel.

Since this is an old interview, I wanted to let you know that Harling has other works out now (another Postcards from Across the Pond, as well as Postcards from Ireland) like his recently released first novel, Finding Rachel Davenport.

4. For those who don't live in or haven't visited England (especially other Americans), what would you tell them you like the best and the least?

Both are difficult to pin down; there is so much about England that I love and very little I don’t like. And it depends upon the person. History buffs can’t get enough of the castles, Roman ruins and places like Stonehenge, and others might like to tour the countryside and take in the views. And everyone likes the accents. As for me, I like the fact that I can get to so many places without having to drive for three days. What I dislike is the British Yob culture (football hooligans, lager louts, etc.).

5. What other books should everyone be reading these days?

If you like books such as “Postcards From Across the Pond,” there are others out there of a similar ilk. “Rules Britannia,” by Toni Hargis is a good one, as is Chris Rae’s “The Septic’s Companion.” Both are funny and informative.

Monday, January 14, 2013

DVD Reviews: Rear Window + Strangers on a Train

I start my on-campus classes tomorrow, as well as a new job at the library, so I won't be online nearly as much as I have been this past month. Don't worry, I'm still planning on posting a few times a week and I hope to comment back to everyone a day or so after they comment me. I don't want to get too far behind!

Rear Window

Movie review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

Review: I mentioned above that my on-campus classes start tomorrow, but I actually have an online class all about Alfred Hitchock. I'm a cinema studies minor (no that doesn't mean I'm a movie snob or that I even know a ton about films, but I love them!) so this is my last film class before I graduate in May. I've only seen about two Hitchock films in my life, so it's interesting to finally see some of these titles that I've heard about.

One such title would be Rear Window, and while I did enjoy it, it's a bit slow going. I liked James Stewart and his character is quite interesting, but it takes awhile before the main plotline to come into affect. For awhile, it's all about Stewart watching his neighbors through the window and enjoying but not wanting to marry his lovely girlfriend played by Grace Kelly.

Character-wise, Rear Window has some good ones. I really enjoyed Stella, who I assume to be the nurse or helper. She's quite an amusing woman, though, and it was enjoyable whenever she came onto the screen.

I guess my main complaint of Rear Window was the end. It was a bit more anticlimatic then I was led to believe...I mean, yes, there are some interesting moments, but it all seemed to be leading up to something that never quite came. It's a bit hard to explain, I suppose.

Would I recommened Rear Window? Yes, but be careful not to expect too much of a thriller.

Strangers on a Train

Movie review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder...a theory that he plans to implement.

Review: I'd never heard of this Hitchcock film before but it was one that I highly enjoyed and would definitely want to watch again. Guy Haines (tennis star) and Bruno Antony (socialite) meet on a train. Bruno recognizes Guy and starts telling him what he knows of Guy's he's married but really wants to be with another woman and that he will be divorcing his wife soon. Bruno then goes on to talk about murder, mentioning how he'd like to kill his own father. The way to a perfect crime is to have no motive, Bruno tells Guy...which essentially boils down to "I'll kill yours, if you will mine."

Guy doesn't take Bruno too seriously, getting off the train and going back to his life. When his wife tells him she won't divorce him, though, he's angry...and Bruno isn't ready to let his plan die.

I won't go into too much detail but I really loved how surprising Strangers on a Train was throughout. The characters were interesting and shocking, and you can't help but shake your head at the psychotic nature of Bruno.

I really enjoyed Guy, though, because he never does exactly what you expect him too. When you think he's about to do something, he switches on you, and that's what had me most engaged.

Recommend? Definitely!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

Review by Lauren

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: It follows the story of Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim's surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

Jumping between viewpoints of the love-struck Tim and Duncan, a current senior about to uncover the truth of Tim and Vanessa, The Tragedy Paper is a compelling tale of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their secrets.

Review: While I did enjoy The Tragedy Paper, I feel like this book has a case of "the summary kind of misleads you" and I know those often annoy hopefully this will clear some things up.

1. I wouldn't really say Tim and Vanessa have a full-on romance, but they do keep what they have a secret.  This doesn't really bother me, but if you're looking for a bigger might not find it here. However, the other point of view, Duncan, does have a relationship with a girl named Daisy. He gets the confidence to really pursue Daisy from Tim.

2. There is a Tragedy Paper that all seniors have to write, but the teacher, Mr. Simon, isn't what I'd call the most "least forgiving teacher." He's tough, yes, and I'm sure if I had him as a teacher, I'd be a bit scared of him. But he does care about his students and you can see how he helps them out throughout the book.

Okay, so that's not too bad, right? Still interested?

 Well, The Tragedy Paper is a book about Tim (for the most part) who is an albino, finishing up his senior year at a boarding school. He's new and he knows what it's like not to fit in, so he really just wants to survive the last of his high school career. He does more than survive though. He actually starts to become part of something, though he never really lets go of his uncertainty. I can't say I blame him. Some of the people who pay attention to him aren't the best and I'd be worried about them too...never really sure if they were up to something to embarrass you or not.

Regardless, Tim does try and fit in as best he can. The greatest happiness he has at Irving, though, is Vanessa. I liked that he didn't meet Vanessa at school, but beforehand, since this allows them a chance to know each other away from other pressures (particulary Patrick, Vanessa's boyfriend).

The other point of view in this book is Duncan (currently in his senior year) and while the main story is Tim's, I guess you could say the main point of view is Ducan's. His chapters are third person and Tim's are in first person's...this is because Duncan is listening to c.d.'s that Tim recorded, explaining his ill-fated senior year (Duncan's junior year). These c.d.'s have been sent to Duncan because in the end, he played a role in Tim's story and Tim feels he deserves to know the whole truth of what led to that moment.

If you've read Thirteen Reasons Why, then this means of telling a story will be familiar to you. I think it worked in The Tragedy Paper, though I won't say it's as good as Thirteen Reasons Why. It's a different type of story, though.

Finally, one thing I loved is how the beginning and end of the book came full circle. It immediately made me think of The Outsiders (a favorite book of mine). After finishing the book, I read the author's acknowledgments and she actually thanks S.E. Hinton for writing The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now. Pretty cool, if you ask me!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Review: Where You Are + Song Pick

Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

Review by Lauren

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Want to see what the author thinks of the book cover?

Official Summary: Robert Westfall's life is falling apart--everywhere but in math class.
That's the one place where problems always have a solution. But in the
world beyond high school, his father is terminally ill, his mother is
squabbling with his interfering aunts, his boyfriend is unsupportive,
and the career path that's been planned for him feels less appealing
by the day.

Robert's math teacher, Andrew McNelis, watches his best student
floundering, concerned but wary of crossing the line between
professional and personal. Gradually, Andrew becomes Robert's friend,
then his confidante. As the year progresses, their relationship-in
school and out of it-deepens and changes. And as hard as he tries to
resist, Andrew knows that he and Robert are edging into territory that
holds incalculable risks for both of them.

Review: You can have a favorite book but the rule seems to be that you can't have a favorite author until you've read more than one book by them. J.H. Trumble can now be included on my list of favorite authors, however, because I loved her debut Don't Let Me Go and I fell even more in love with her second novel, Where You Are. I posted my review of Don't Let Me Go almost a year ago today, so it's pretty fitting to now be sharing my thoughts about Trumble's latest.

We are all famililar with stories about teachers having relationships with their students, whether in the news or even in fictional accounts. For the most part, people look down on these relationships and blame the teachers for using their power over a minor. This isn't always the best way to look at a situation though. Every story is unique, whether you want to see it that way or not. In Where You Are, Robert is a teenager who falls for his math teacher, one of the few people he feels he can really talk to. As for Andrew, the teacher, he isn't that much older than Robert, so it's not a creepy older man perving on a teen. Andrew truly cares about Robert and he sees that he's going through a tough time (Robert's father is passing away from a cancer he's had for years) and he wants to be there for him. He isn't sure how he can, though, as he is worried. He knows the risks involved in getting too close to a student.

Both Robert and Andrew find themselves crushing on each other and there is a push and pull throughout the novel concerning their relationship. Robert feels comfortable with Andrew and when he's going through a particularly rough moment, Andrew is the one he wants to see, the person he most wants to talk to. Andrew is flattered by the attention that Robert gives him, but he actually does like him. He knows he's the teacher though and he has to be professional. He tells Robert they need to wait until graduation, as Robert is already a senior.

Obviously, waiting until graduation does not work and the two men suddenly find themselves inching over the line of professional friendship and romantic involvement.

I don't want to go into too much depth about the actual summary of the story because part of the thrill is reading along and wondering, what will they do next? Will their relationship last? Will they both be irrevocably changed by everything they are doing?

Where You Are is a phenomenal book. Trumble knows how to write an LGBT novel that goes beyond the boundaries. Yes, there are people with issues, but for the most part, that doesn't reach the main characters. Andrew and Robert are gay and they are fine with it. They might not have had the best experiences in their lives, but they are happy with who they are and just want to be with the one they love.

If you know you'll go into this book condemning Robert or Andrew, then I probably wouldn't recommend it. Yes, it could change your mind on things or make you think about the situation more, but I still feel like you have to go in being more open-minded. Personally, I think teachers and students are often very close in age and it makes sense that both parties would find themselves attracted to each other. It's not the best idea to start that relationship while one side is the student, but that doesn't mean it couldn't work after they have graduated. Where You Are does present consequences, and not everything is perfect in the end. It's also an ending that left me wanting more (Any chance of a sequel?)

While I would classify Where You Are as an adult novel, it's probably more New Adult. The book goes back and forth between both men's perspectives (which I loved, because it gives you all the insight you need into the motives of the relationship). Robert is a high school senior, but Andrew is in his early twenties, so putting that together, I'm going to say this borders New Adult/Adult. There are sexual moments in the book but nothing overly graphic.

Since this review is already bordering on essay length, I will start to wrap it up. Just know, though, that there is so much more I could say about Where You Are and how much I loved it.

To conclude, however, Where You Are was a novel that deeply affected me. I felt for the characters and I found myself thinking about moments in the book while away from the book. That is always a sure sign a book means something to you; if it's a story that you can't stop thinking about, even now, after finishing it. So, read it, please. And let me know what you think.


Finally, while the author has a playlist in the back of the book, noting songs she feels fit the book's moments, there is one song not included that I wanted to share.

It's called "Somewhere With You" by Shane Mack. Some parts of the song fit the book, while others not so much...regardless, I think the feel of the music/lyrics represents Robert and Anderw quite well.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Newspapers in Your Area?!

do not own
Hello everyone- I hope to have a book review up tomorrow, and hopefully another one over the weekend, but for now, I have a favor to ask!

Unfortunately, this is for U.S. readers only!

What are some local newspapers in your area that you know do book reviews (even if it's not all the time)? I've been researching some for a client of mine, but I'd love to get your help if you have any ideas!

Please leave either the name of the paper and the city/state or even the newspaper website link so I can go straight there!

Thank you so much.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Breaking the Spine runs the Waiting on Wednesday posts and I thought it would be fun to post one today, since I haven't in awhile. There are so many novels I want to read that are already released, and many more still to come, but I tried to find just one book to share with you all today!

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

Check it out on Amazon

Visit the author's website

Due out February 21, 2013 (so that's not too long of a wait!)

That's the day the trouble started.
The trouble that nearly ruined my life.
The trouble that turned me Dark.
The trouble that begs me for revenge.

Celia Door enters her freshman year of high school with giant boots, dark eyeliner, and a thirst for revenge against Sandy Firestone, the girl who did something unspeakable to Celia last year.

But then Celia meets Drake, the cool new kid from New York City who entrusts her with his deepest, darkest secret. When Celia's quest for justice threatens her relationship with Drake, she's forced to decide which is sweeter: revenge or friendship.
What do you all think? Does this sound like something you would enjoy? I love a good contemporary novel and this sounds like it could become a favorite.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Movie review by Lauren

I do not own any images

IMDB Summary: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

Review: I love musicals, but I have never seen Les Mis until I saw the movie. I figured I would enjoy the movie because I recognized various actors within it, and I'd rather chance the film instead of the play. Now I hope to see the actual play version some day because I really fell in love with the story.

I've heard some complaints about Russell Crowe, and I can see where people are coming from. Unlike the other actors, he is more of an actor than a singer. I still think he did a fine job overall, though. However, as I said above, I didn't enter this movie knowing all about the musical and hearing the songs performed by a Broadway cast. That might change how you hear the songs.

Apart from Crowe, I think everyone else did a really good job. Hugh Jackman was just phenonemal and him and Crowe are the cast that span the entire film. If you aren't aware (and I was not), Les Mis takes place over many years, so not all the characters will continue on through the entire movie. I didn't mind this though, because it allowed me to see many talented actors and it gave them their own moment in the movie to shine.

My favorite was probably Samantha Barks, who played the lonely Eponine. She sang "On My Own" and it was my all-time favorite moment in the film. It's such a haunting, beautiful song about being in love with someone who will never love you back the way you want them too. This was Barks' debut in film (she had already played Eponine on the stage) and I can't wait to see what she does next!

Eddie Redmayne wonderfully played Eponine's love interest, Marius. He cares about Eponine, but he actually falls for Amanda Seyfried's character, Cosette (the girl on the above poster is a young Cosette). This romance fell a bit short for me because it was so cliche. It takes place in seconds, and while I'm glad they had each other in the end, it makes me feel even more bad for she really knew Marius.

As for Cosette, my favorite version was the younger, because I love seeing actresses and actors shine so brightly at such a young age. Young Cosette was played by Isabelle Allen, a ten year-old in her first film performance. It's amazing! Another young actor in the film that was extraordinary was Daniel Huttlestone, who played Gavroche. This was his first film as well. I do hope to see these two go on to do wonderful things. They had wonderful voices and a great prescence. You couldn't not fall in love with their characters.

I could go on and on about this film, mentioning my love for Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen (who played some kooky characters that added a lot of much-needed comedic relief), but I don't want to make this review too long.

I'm curious, though, what did you think? Have you seen the musical?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Holiday Swaps (with Fun Pictures)

These blog swap announcements are quite late, and for that, I apologize! First, the holidays got in the way and then I couldn't get blogger to let me upload photos. I had to download firefox for this, but here we are!

The above photo is from the 12 Days of Christmas blog swap. We had to send 12 individually wrapped gifts (and we got 12 in return) to open up- one gift per day leading up to Christmas. This was seriously one of my favorite swaps, because who doesn't like to get a gift a day?

Britney over at Jesse's Girl ran the swap and she was actually my swap partner, so all my gifts came from her! Thanks so much Britney! I loved it all. She gave me a lot of ideas of things to buy for future swaps too! I really loved the DVD's (including A Knight's Tale- a movie I love but don't own), the hershey bar (yum, chocolate!) and the Elf makeup, in particular. It was all fabulous though!

Unfortunately, Britney is on hiatus so she hasn't posted what I got her, so I'm afraid I can't send you that way. You can use one of the links above to see what other participants got though!

My next swap was the Holiday Swap, which you can read all about at Linny's Vault (one of the hosts). I was matched up with Crystal from Thrifty and Frugal Living. What's awesome about Crystal is that she used to live near me, so she knew exactly where I come from! I think that's pretty awesome.

This swap is one where we gave our partners information about ourselves and then went wild trying to find items we thought they would like. Crystal knew I liked to scrapbook and be creative, so she got me some mini craft paper and stamps (which is great, because I didn't have any stamps). She also got me The Dark Knight on DVD, as I love movies and this Batman series...but I didn't own the movie yet. I'm glad I have it now though, as it's probably my favorite in the trilogy. Heath Ledger is just great.

I also got some awesome Brownie Brittle. I'd never heard of this but it's so a hard brownie. Oh my goodness, I hope my local stores have it. I haven't checked yet, but here's hoping, so I can get some more!

As you can see, I got some other fun items like notebooks and lotion and a mitten ornament and even some hair ties that Crystal made herself! How cute, right?

Crystal is way ahead of me and already has her swap post up, so if you want to see what I got her, go here to check it out!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Second Take Review: Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready

Review by Lauren

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, '60s psychedelia, '80s goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers just how the DJs maintain their cred: they're vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.

Ciara's first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WVMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station -- and the link it provides to their original Life Times -- the vampires would "fade," becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover is a matter of life and undeath.

To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara rebrands the station as "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll." In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs' vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around -- next to Ciara's complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the "gimmick" enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren't so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher -- and the perils graver -- than any con game Ciara's ever played....

Review: I feel like the summary above gives you more than enough information about Wicked Game, so I won't make this review long. I've actually read and reviewed Wicked Game already but I was offered the chance to check out the entire, finished series, so I decided to read Wicked Game again. I loved it just as much as I did the first time around.

I loved the spark that Ciara had and how she changed even in the first book, growing to learn more about life and love...and that not all attachments are bad. The musical references are also a positive point in this book, since I love listening to music.

If you like vampire books but want something more unique, I'd give this series a try! I felt that the vampire lore was really well done and I loved the idea that the vampires became stuck in the time period they died in, hence the music they become so obsessed with. It gives them a direct link to the time they lived in.

I'm excited to continue this series. I love Jeri Smith-Ready as an author but I must admit that I never got further than about halfway through the second book in this series. Sometimes life just gets in the way. I plan to take the review copies I was so lucky to recieve though and finally finish this series, and I'm sure it will continue to be great!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Movie Review-The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Movie review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on a "unexpected journey" to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.

Review: I'm not a fan of The Lord of the Rings in the same way I'm a fan of Harry Potter. For HP, I read all the books and saw all the movies. For The Lord of the Rings, I've seen the entire trilogy by Peter Jackson but was never able to read the entirety of the first book (and therefore, I did not continue). However, I knew I wanted to see The Hobbit because I did like the films and I've actually read this one (albeit awhile ago so I didn't remember much). As the release date grew closer, I became even more excited for another reason. Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. I am a newly cemented fan of Martin Freeman (Sherlock is phenomenal) and once I realized that Freeman would be Bilbo, I was set.

There really isn't a whole lot to say about the film except that I highly enjoyed it. Yes, it's long, like all other LOTR films, but it was almost always action-packed. I also think that Freeman did a fantastic job as Bilbo; he was definitely a good choice. He is believable as this hobbit thrown into one adventure after another, but learning to grasp the meaning of life and the value of true friendships. As he states in the film, he would have doubted himself too, but he proves quite an advantage to have around.

Obviously, more than Freeman did a great job. It was a wonderful cast of characters and I loved seeing some of the same actors from the LOTR trilogy like Gandalf and even Frodo Baggins in the beginning.

I did not see this movie in 3D but I kind of wish I could now. I'm not sure if I'll get the chance, even if I do see this one again in theaters. At any rate, non-3D is still quite enjoyable!

And now, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the film (taken from IMDB):

Galadriel: Why the Hafling?

Gandalf: Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That's because I am afraid and he gives me courage.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This Day in Music by Neil Cossar

Happy New Year! Yesterday was a much more hectic day than I thought it would be so I'm sorry I didn't get this posted on New Year's Day (that was the goal...)

This Day in Music: An Everyday Record of Musical Feats and Facts by Neil Cossar

Visit the Website

Review by Lauren

copy from - sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Here's the perfect gift for music fans--a full year's worth of the musical history and happenings from the past 50 years. Based on the massively popular website, this extraordinary day-by-day diary recounts the musical firsts and lasts, blockbuster albums and chart-topping tunes, and other significant happenings on each of the 365 days in the year. For each day, readers learn who hit #1 on the charts, who got arrested, which record won an award, and which concert broke new ground or signaled a band's demise. Also included are monthly feature pages which detail some of the pivotal events in music history, such as The Beatles opening gig at the Cavern Club, Woodstock, and the day Elvis died.

Review: This is seriously a wonderful gift for any music fan. I love that you can get it at any time because it spans the entire year. Of course, I'm doing my review now because I think it's fun to have it throughout the year (so think about grabbing a copy for a Christmas gift this upcoming year- you know time flies!) Another thing that's great about This Day in Music is that it's a website so you can visit them everyday and learn a lot of new facts. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get the book, but by viewing the site for a bit, it might help you decide on whether you want a physical copy or not.

Back to the book- each day of the year gets its own page with a list of who was born on this day at the very top. The rest of the page includes a year and then some facts (so you know, on say, June 29 of all these years, these things happen). There are even various photos (all black and white) on the pages that either show the event or simply the artist being mentioned.

On January 1, some of the following happened:

1962- The Beatles audition for Decca Records in London but A and R boss Dick Rowe turns them down.

1989- Nirvana sign a one-year contract with Sub Pop Records.

Obviously, I chose some of the smaller entries but there are ones that are a bit longer. My personal favorites are the ones the tell a story, not simply a fact.

The book is fairly recent. It seems like the latest facts come from 2009, but I could be wrong about that...meaning, there may be some a bit later.

It's also not just for Rock and Roll fans. Yes, they make up a lot of the facts, but there are mentions of pop stars and other musicians too (from The Spice Girls to Dr. Dre).

Finally, it ends with a few pages of random facts. Some Did You Know Sections and even a page that tells you artists real names versus their stage names.

AKA: Brian Hugh Warner is Marilyn Manson, Faroukh Bulsara is Freddie Mercury, and more!

Overall, this would make a great gift. It's thick like a coffee table book but it's a gift that keeps giving all year long. You don't just set it down for guests to peruse; you actually look at it everyday and learn more about the history of music. It's like a page a day calendar with more information!

Recommended? Definitely! And I love the look of the cover/back- it's like a musical scrapbook!