Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mini Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Movie: Saving Mr. Banks

Mini Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: Author P.L. Travers reflects on her childhood after reluctantly meeting with Walt Disney, who seeks to adapt her Mary Poppins (1964) books for the big screen.

Mini Review: I was curious about this movie but it was never one that I thought I had to see when viewing the previews. However, I ended up seeing it one night with my sister and I'm certainly glad. Emma Thompson (P.L. Travers) and Tom Hanks (Walt Disney) do a fantastic job bringing these personalities to life and the story they told was tear-jerking, but definitely heartwarming.

The basic idea is that Travers visits L.A. to talk about adapting Mary Poppins to the screen. We all know that she ultimately does, but watching this movie, you're definitely wondering how it happens. Travers finds little things to quibble over, even announcing she doesn't want the color red in the film at one point, but Disney is determined to make Mary Poppins come to life.

The "present" story is intermixed with Travers past as a little girl in Australia. It focuses a lot on her father, and viewers ultimately come to see why Travers is so protective of her story. It's a story that will leave many with tears in their eyes, but a smile on their face when everything comes together in the end.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tune in Tuesday with The 1975

Tune in Tuesday is from Tales of Books and Bands

This week I have the band The 1975 and their song "Chocolate." I'll admit I don't quite grasp the entire meaning of the lyrics, but this song is catchy and I need to listen to more by them!

"Hey, now I think about what to do, I think about what to say, I think about how to think
Pause it, play it, pause it, play it, pause it"

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Tenth of December by George Saunders

Tenth of December by George Saunders

Review by Lauren

copy from library, but all opinions are my own

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Official Summary: A collection of stories which includes "Home," a wryly whimsical account of a soldier's return from war; "Victory lap," a tale about an inventive abduction attempt, and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit.

Review: This summary doesn't sound all that interesting to me, to be honest, and if you agree, please ignore it. Because this was definitely an interesting short story collection that I really enjoyed. I want to read more short stories but I find I don't often like most of the them. George Saunders' most recent collection included a variety of tales about life today and what seems to be in the future, but each one deals with complex emotions. While I didn't fall in love with every story throughout this book, I found I liked almost all of them and therefore I would recommend others giving this one a chance.

Escape from Spiderhead

This is one of my favorite stories from the collection. It was just long enough to get the full impact, and while I would have loved a novel with this premise, it still works quite well as a short story. I assume this takes place in the future as the narrator, Jeff, is in a facility (a different option instead of jail) where they test scientific drugs on the inhabitants. These drugs allow people to fall in and out of love, speak well, and even experience horrible, emotional pain. It's a fascinating story that definitely makes you think about right and wrong, and how far you should go to 'help' society.

Al Roosten

The title character is someone I felt many could relate to on some level. He doesn't feel adequate enough; he's not as good-looking or as rich as people around him. He imagines people looking down on him and he judges their lives, but then feels bad and wants to be a good person. You can tell that Al is, in general, a decent guy but he has so many worries and insecurities that his mind often takes angry, or dark, turns. Not everyone is like Al, but everyone has something they think isn't as worthy as the person next to them.


This was definitely a sad story and one where I wanted to reach into the pages and scream at the women for not understanding what was really going on. Each point of view is a woman, a mother, and someone who can't understand the other. One is well off, with good children, while the other has to work harder and who has a son who obviously has some type of mental disorder. The well off woman wants to buy her kids a puppy and is visiting this other woman in order to check out the one she hopes to sell. I won't go into full details, so you can read it for yourself, but this is definitely a story of judgment and misunderstandings.

Overall, I liked most of these stories. They were interesting and easy to read, though many of them make you think and it might take a bit of time to fully grasp the story. Regardless, they are worth checking out and I'm definitely curious to read more by George Saunders.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sherlock: The Empty Hearse Review

The third season of Sherlock premiered this past Sunday with the episode The Empty Hearse. I don't want to say too much about the show since I know not everyone has made it through the first two seasons. Maybe you've heard spoilers elsewhere, but I'd like to avoid the large ones.

Basically, I wanted to share some brief thoughts about the first episode of this new season.

1. I'm sad there are only three episodes per season, of course. While each one is about the length of a shorter film, it just never seems enough!

2. Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch have wonderful chemistry as John and Sherlock. It was nice to see them back together again.

3. The actual episode was quite good. I still wish we had some definite answers, but overall, that's Sherlock and it makes sense. There are a mix of things happening throughout The Empty Hearse, but the biggest storyline is kind of a set up for the other two episodes, I believe. We will be getting a new villain and I'm very curious. After all, Moriarty was fantastic!

4. John is engaged to Mary, per the books, and I have to say that Amanda Abbington does a great job. She's with Martin Freeman in real life, which lends to a nice chemistry between Mary and John. However, she's also a feminine breath of fresh air on the show!

5. You get a bit of Sherlock's parents in this episode! Too funny, especially when you know that they are played by Benedict Cumberbatch's real life mum and dad. I believe they will be in the second episode too, so that should be interesting! I want John to properly meet them.

6. I loved how they brought the fandom of Sherlock into the show. You see wild theories about Sherlock and the overall popularity surrounding this sociopath.

Overall, a great start to a new season. I'm curious to get more into the mysteries that the show does so well with, but I loved how character focused The Empty Hearse was too!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Behind the Cover with Jennifer Quintenz

Behind the Cover by Jennifer Quintenz, author of "Thrall" (Daughters Of Lilith: Book 1)

I've gotten some great questions about the making of my covers, so I thought I'd do a quick post that kind of walks you through my process.  Hope you enjoy!

STEP 1: What do I want this thing to look like?

Inspiration.  The Big Idea.  That's the hardest part for me, both for writing a book and for coming up with an image for the cover.  I have to think about the tone I want the cover to set.  What is the mood of my story?  Who is my protagonist?

A lot of times I start (or ask the people whose covers I'm designing to start) by looking at a lot of covers and narrowing down what I like and what I don't like in a cover.  Usually as I'm scanning 100s of covers (one of the best parts of the process - I LOVE beautiful covers!), I'll start to get a sense for what I want my cover to look like.

STEP 2: Find the right source images.  

Some people have asked me if I drew the covers - I wish I was that talented!  I always start by finding the source images that fit my mental image of how I want my cover to look.  Many times that means combining a few different images together to get the desired outcome.

For example, for THRALL, I knew I wanted Braedyn to look kind of scared / self-protective - but also to give off the vibe that this girl can take care of herself.  Okay - seems kind of contradictory, I'll grant you that.

I found the perfect body posture in this stock photo (BTW - I get all my stock photos from, and I've been really happy with the selection they've got over there).

This is the stock image I got to be Braedyn's body for Thrall

I love the graceful way she's holding her arm with her hand, but I didn't want Braedyn to seem so self-assured.  Also, the makeup wasn't right for Braedyn, so I set about finding the right face for the image, and I knew as soon as I saw this image that I'd found it:
teen girl shaking head with long hair

STEP 3: Combine and manipulate stock images into something new.

I realized that I loved the idea of having most of Braedyn's face covered - since this is the book in which she transforms, it lends to the mystery of that transformation.  But Braedyn is described as having dark hair and light eyes, and the model in this photo has light hair and dark eyes.

Thus begins the work, in Photoshop, of taking these stock images and molding them into the vision I'm clinging to of what I want my heroine to look like.  I love Photoshop - even after having to pay the INSANE AMOUNT OF MONEY they charge twice so it will run on my updated OS.  I'm sure there are all sorts of programs out there that offer some of the same tools (hey, feel free to recommend some that you've worked with!).  But for now, I'm happy with Photoshop.

Right, random rant aside... I altered the color of her hair and her eyes.  I blended the two photos together so I got the desired head on the desired body (Frankenstein, anyone?).  Then there's the process of matching skin tones (her hand still looks a bit pale to me in this version below, but you get the idea), making it appear that the hair from one photo is artfully draped over the hand from the other photo, etc - just generally trying to make this look like a photo of a different girl.

gothic girl

Really, that's the hard part.  After that, it's just a matter of dressing up the rest of the cover.

STEP 4: Dressing up the rest of the cover.

I have a set of wings I found that I liked:


They have shown up in all the Daughters of Lilith covers to date, slightly altered from one to the next.

Then comes the fun part.  (Okay, the above is fun, too, but this is the part when it all starts to come together.)  I use a combination of textures that I buy or create and blend them together, fading them in and out, trying to create a weirdly supernatural feel to the background.

Once I messed with this to the point that I liked how it was turning out, I placed all the elements together, did a bit more shadow and mist work, and then added a flourish at the bottom, playing with the transparency until it felt right.

STEP 5: Finishing with the text.

From there, it was just a matter of coming up with a treatment for the title, subtitle, and author name that stood out, and we get the final result:


So there you have it!

I will admit, doing the covers for these books is like the special dessert I get to eat after the hard work of writing the story.  It's nice to get to switch gears and go from communicating with words to communicating with images.

Basically, I'm just so happy I can do both.  It's kind of a childhood dream come true!  Let me know if you have any questions about anything here - I love talking Photoshop and cover creation.  Enjoy!

About the author:

Jennifer Quintenz is an award-winning film and television writer, author, and graphic novelist. She has written for Twentieth Television, Intrepid Pictures, and Archaia Studios Press. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tune in Tuesday with The Hoosiers

Tune in Tuesday is brought to you by Kate's Tales of Books and Bands

"Somewhere in the Distance" by The Hoosiers

The Hoosiers is a band from the UK. I've loved their music for a long time, and I'm excited that they have a new album coming out in a couple months. Above is their new single "Somewhere in the Distance" and I love the actual video a lot because fans took part to make it! Various fans made clips of themselves for this song and you can see their work, mixed in with shots of the band.

"You’ve got a lot of nerve
To try and bring me down
Maybe you haven’t heard
That’s not the way we run this town
Cos when the times are tough we turn them round"

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth

The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth

Review by Lauren

copy from library; all opinions are my own

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Official Summary: Nate's not happy about his family moving to a new house in a new town. After all, nobody asked him if he wanted to move in the first place. But when he discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him under the floorboards of his bedroom, Nate is thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing many, many years ago. Now, as strange happenings and weird creatures begin to track Nate, he must partner with Tabitha, a local girl, to find out what they want with him. But time is running out, for a powerful force is gathering strength in the woods at the edge of town, and before long Nate and Tabitha will be forced to confront a terrifying foe, and uncover the truth about the Lost Boy.

Review: One of the things that really stood out to me about this graphic novel were the illustrations. They are all in black and white, but the detail makes things look fairly realistic. I loved the attention to detail and how the story came alive across the pages. As for the story, this is about a boy named Nate who finds a mysterious tape recorder from a boy named Walt, who lived long ago and found a secret world just outside his home; now Nate's home. The magic and intrigue that surrounded Walt all those years ago has now captured Nate and his neighbor, Tabitha.

Honestly, describing this book is a bit difficult. I suppose I'd call it a fantasy, and I love how the book includes a mix of interesting characters. You have a doll named Tom Button, an annoying squirrel, insects riding dogs, and more. Of course, all of these creatures talk and not everyone is on Nate and Tabitha's side. The biggest intrigue in the book is called the Vespertine and I found it to be quite an interesting character in the end.

The book ends with the main storyline wrapped up, but readers are given a glimpse that not all is well and it makes me excited to find out what will happen next. I do hope a sequel comes out soon!

I love showing everyone a little of what the book includes, especially to showcase the artwork, so here is a page from the book:

Like I said above, I really love the illustrations in this book. Some graphic novels have more of a cartoon feel, which can be fine, but The Lost Boy does well with the realistic drawings.

This is my first book read for the 2014 Graphic Novel Reading Challenge.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Game is On! Sherlock Holmes Mini Gift Guide

HE'S COMING BACK!!! Sherlock, season 3 finally debuts in the U.S. this Sunday, January 19 at 9:58 p.m on PBS.  If you're in the U.K, you've probably already seen please, no spoilers!!

In honor of this awesome occasion, here is a Mini Sherlock Gift Guide!!

Sherlock's Study Book Lovers' Scented Soy Candle from the etsy shop Frostbeard.

Sherlock Holmes Themed Infinity Scarf from etsy shop Panjerize.

this is something I'd love to have. it looks so comfy!

Lost Without My Blogger nail polish from etsy shop Lyn B Designs.

This is something specifically for the BBC Sherlock show, and I love it!

Sherlock Bookmark from the etsy shop bethydesigns
And finally, here is a "mini" episode for everyone getting ready to watch the third season of Sherlock on Sunday!!
"Many Happy Returns" - a Sherlock mini episode

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Random Thursday: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Me...

I found this meme on Linny's Vault and this is probably the second time I've done it, but they have some fun questions every I will try and take part more often.

Today's Topic: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Me...

I love getting to know bloggers a bit better, so I'd love it if some of you would do this post (or even just leave some facts about yourself in the comments!)

1. I'm obsessed with the U.K. soap opera Hollyoaks. I don't watch full episodes, but I do tend to follow various storylines and I'm currently trying to get caught up to the newest episodes. Watching Hollyoaks for too long makes me start speaking in an English accent though. I don't do it on purpose...and it's usually when I ask a question. I only know I'm doing it when someone points it out; mainly my sister.

2. I tend to get hurt in the weirdest ways. I got stitches above my eye when I was younger because I got hit in the head by a wooden baby swing. In eighth grade, I was in a play and I was doing a leap- a dance move for the beginning- and I ended up fracturing my ankle.

3. I used to be in an online book club for years and that's what led to my creation of this blog. Through this blog though, I ended up visiting New Jersey/NYC and meeting a lot of the members, attending Bamboozle Music Festival twice, and one of my good friends now is from this club.

4. Smith magazine published those 6 Word Memoir books which I think are awesome. When I was still a teenager (I'm 23 now) they had a chance for teenagers to send in their memoirs. Mine ended up being accepted and is including in the book called I Can't Keep My Own Secrets. My memoir was even mentioned in their introduction in the beginning of the book, which I thought was hilarious. My memoir? "I was named after a store." Laura Ashley. My mom didn't want to name me after someone in the family (Laura) so my name was changed to Lauren Ashley.

5. If I had the talent, my dream job would be to be on Broadway. I'm obsessed with plays and musicals but I can't sing and I'm way too shy to be able to get up in front of people. With the talent that I do currently have, I'd love to be a published author.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tune in Tuesday with a 2014 Bunbury Act

Tune in Tuesday is brought to you by Kate's Tales of Books and Bands

Bunbury Music Festival is a great weekend of music in Cincinnati, Ohio and it comes back this summer on July 11, 12, and 13. The final list of acts will be revealed soon but right now we know that playing on Saturday, July 12 will be-- Fall Out Boy, Paramore, and....

New Politics

"Harlem" by New Politics

"I spend my money on the regular miracles
Just like you, like me, like everybody else.
Up on the sun, lookin' sad and beautiful
Just like you, like me, like everybody else."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tune: Still Life by Derek Kirk Kim + Music Pick

Tune Book 2: Still Life by Derek Kirk Kim and Les McClaine

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are my own

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Official Summary: Andy Go thought he was signing on for an easy job as an exhibit in an alien zoo - but it turns out his contract is for life! How can he escape? In the second instalment of the TUNE series, our hapless hero Andy Go is settling into life in an alien one of the exhibits. It's not so bad: the food is good, and his environment is a perfect copy of his house back on Earth. But everything falls to pieces when Andy realizes he's been tricked: there will be no weekend visits back to Earth, as he was promised, and his contract doesn't last one lasts a lifetime.

Review: I wouldn't read the above summary if you're worried about any spoilers, but at that rate, you might not want to read this review. However, I'll try to keep things as spoiler-free as I can! Tune: Still Life is the second book in this graphic novel series. Andy Go is an artist who thinks that he can drop out of school and still be successful. Obviously, that's not always true, especially when it comes to the arts. Andy finds himself lying around his parent's house in the first book without much to do, until he is given what seems like a wonderful job opportunity.

Tune: Still Life is where Andy enters this new job and finally realizes that he is stuck for more than a year, but rather his entire life. He is just a creature to be looked at and most of his "employers" think they are above him. There is one girl though that is interested in Andy's artwork and wants to learn how to draw too, even if her father would be mad if he found out.

I love that Andy narrates the entire story, giving readers enough information. The world within Tune is very fascinating, though I don't want to go into too much detail for fear of ruining things for others. Regardless, Tune is a really good series and when I finished the first book, I knew I had to have the second. Tune: Still Life was a great addition to the series and once again, I am dying to read the third book.

As for the artwork, I thought it was well done. Everything is in black and white, but the objects are clear and easy to view. The boxes on each page all float on a black background of stars, which is suitable to the book and a different way of placing the photos and text on the page. The page below shows you want I mean!

Music Pick: "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Weekend Link-Up

Weekend Link-Up

Sometimes I come across various links throughout the week and I figured I would share some of them, in case anyone else was interested!!

The movie version of YA novel If I Stay by Gayle Forman was given a 2014 release date. It will be released on August 22 and the main role is played by Chloe Grace Moretz. I'm excited that the movie is finally coming out, as If I Stay was a book that I really loved. I still need to check out Where She Went, which I should definitely do before August!

J.K. Rowling is not finished with Harry Potter just yet...except this time he'll be on the stage! Now, before you get too excited, this play will be about Harry's years living with the Dursley's before he found out he was a wizard and taken to Hogwarts.

From the article: In a statement released Friday, the author said the production will "explore the previously untold story of Harry's early years as an orphan and outcast," living in the muggle world.
Though she will not be writing the script, Rowling will work with veteran producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender as co-producer and will work with the writer, whom has not yet been chosen, according to the AP (Associated Press).

I love anything and everything Harry Potter so I'm pretty excited about this. I just hope the play comes near enough so I can see it! I believe it will start out in the U.K.

Ned Vizzini, author of It's Kind of a Funny Story, committed suicide this past December. I just learned about this recently and it was really sad to hear. I read It's Kind of a Funny Story, as well as another book by Ned, when I was younger and really enjoyed them. He will certainly be missed by many.

And that's it! Not too much, but these were all bits of information I had wanted to pass along.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Wobbit by The Harvard Lampoon

The Wobbit, a Parody by The Harvard Lampoon

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are my own

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Official Summary: When Aaron Sorkinshield and his band of Little People embark on a totally feasible quest to reclaim the hoard of Academy Awards stolen from them by the lonely Puff the Magic Dragon, senile wizard Dumbledalf suggests an unlikely and completely unqualified accomplice: Billy Bagboy, an unassuming wobbit dwelling in terrorist-riddled Wobbottabad. Along the way, the company faces Internet trolls, moblins, one really big spider that must be at least an inch and a half wide, and worse. But as they journey from the wonders of Livinwell to the terrors of Jerkwood and beyond, Billy will find that there is more to him than anyone-Tolkien included-ever dreamed. Propelled to his destiny by a series of courageous adventures and indented paragraphs, Billy will set out on the greatest YOLO of all time that leads deep into the dark caverns hiding a mysterious man named Goldstein, who's just trying to have a nice seder.

Review: I read The Hunger Pains, a parody from The Harvard Lampoon about two years ago and found it really amusing. I noted in my review that it's one of those books you would probably only enjoy if you had already read The Hunger Games, and were also okay with making fun of the things you like. That was a combination that worked for me, so I figured I would give the latest parody, The Wobbit a chance. I read the actual Hobbit when I was younger, so most of what I could remember came from the first Hobbit film recently released.

While The Wobbit certainly had it's amusing moments, I didn't find it nearly as funny as The Hunger Pains. The book isn't very long, but for some reason, it just dragged. This may just be me, and others might find it goes quick. Regardless, I did finish the book and I thought I'd share a few thoughts!

Things I Liked: Gandalf was a mix of himself and Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books. If you know HP and LOTR, this makes sense since the two wizards do have some physical similarities. Therefore, the character became Dumbledalf and he was quite amusing, though very dimwitted. I liked the various Harry Potter references throughout, like Dumbledalf calling Billy "Hairy" and believing him to be a horcrux at some point.

The Internet Trolls were a clever idea, I thought! Instead of the actual trolls in the Hobbit, this version had internet "trolls" that worked their mischief online.

Things I Did Not Like: Three of the Little People were based on the Kardashian sisters. It just felt like a bad joke, since people have been making fun of these girls for years. It became annoying after awhile.

The book referenced the Lampoon quite a bit throughout the book, which was also bothersome. Maybe once or twice would have been fine, but it just felt like overkill and unneeded self-promotion.

Overall, this one wasn't the right fit for me. While I highly enjoyed The Hunger Pains, the Wobbit fell more toward annoying than awesome.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Psych's Premiere Brings them to England

do not own - credit

Tonight is the season 8 premiere of the show Psych. This is one of my all-time favorite shows, and I'm pretty sure this is the last season, which is very upsetting. Regardless, tonight's episode has Shawn and Gus in England where all Gus wants to do is visit a Harry Potter fan festival (who wouldn't?) but of course, the two of them get caught up in crime!

If you want to watch, turn on USA at 9/8c. I'll be working until 9, but I plan on taping the episode and then watching it around 10 or so!

Do you ever watch Psych? Will you be watching tonight? Feel free to share your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tune in Tuesday with John Newman

Tune in Tuesday is brought to you by Katelyn from Kate's Tales of Books and Bands.

I haven't done this meme in a little while, so I figured it was about time that I shared another song I'm currently loving with you all! Feel free to let me know what you're listening to in the comments.

"Love Me Again" by John Newman

"Know I’ve done wrong,
I left your heart torn
Is that what devils do?
Took you so low,
Where only fools go
I shook the angel in you

Now I’m rising from the ground
Rising up to you
Filled with all the strength I found
There's nothing I can’t do!"

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Fountain of the Earth by H.L. Le Roy

The Fountain of the Earth by H.L. Le Roy

Review by Lauren

copy from author, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Terra Vonn is fighting to survive in a destroyed world,
surrounded by unspeakable horror . . .
and things are about to get much worse.

After witnessing the horrific murder of her mother, fifteen-year-old Terra Vonn has a singular focus—exacting revenge on the killers. But before she can complete her plan, savagery intervenes, and she is cast alone into a brutal post-apocalyptic world. As she trails the murderers south—through a land filled with cannibalistic criminals, slave traders, and lunatics—the hunter becomes the hunted. Terra quickly learns that she is not as tough or as brave as she thought she was. Worse, she may be the only one who stands between what little remains of civilization and destruction.

Review: The Fountain of the Earth isn't the type of book that I normally choose to read. While I read and loved The Hunger Games, I haven't jumped into all the other dystopia novels where people have to fight for their lives in a barren land. However, when I was offered the chance to read this book, I found the summary interesting enough to give it a shot. I found that while there were brief slower moments, The Fountain of the Earth was a quick story of survival, helmed by one courageous young girl.

Terra Vonn can definitely give Katniss Everdeen a run for her money! At a young age and early into the book, Terra is faced with horrific violence and the notion that if the wrong man bids to marry her, she could enter what will essentially be a slave arrangement. Terra has her dad's old gun, though, and she uses this to fight back against the men in her clan, keeping herself free for the time being. When she is forced to go on the run, she must use her dad's map and her own hunting skills to keep away from danger long enough to make it to safety.

Safety is all relative of course. Le Roy repeatedly shows in the novel that places that are meant to be safe are not and that people must come together to make sure their lives are protected. Throughout the book, a group of savage men known as the Ghoraz, are ravaging clans and Terra is set on finding the ones who have led her on her own quest. She cannot forgive; she only seeks for their destruction, and for some, she wants them to die by her own hand.

There is more to Terra than her anger though. She is willing to help those in need, and she will even put herself at risk to make sure that justice is served for those that deserve it. While on her travels, there are some slower moments because Terra begins her journey alone. However, there are enough moments where Terra comes across other people that it never becomes tedious. I felt that The Fountain of the Earth gave enough detail of the land, without becoming overly descriptive and losing the thread of the story.

As for the romance, I think it was done fairly well. There were a few moments I thought Terra should forget about the boy(s) she liked, because it wasn't as important, but the romance never took over the story. The actual romantic story line was more of a budding relationship throughout this first novel, which I think worked.

Overall, I did enjoy this one and I'm curious to see where the story leads Terra next!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Graphic Novel Reading Challenge 2014

I'll be the first to admit it, but I don't do challenges very well. I tend to run out of time to finish them or I simply forget to keep track. However, I tried to read more graphic novels last year and I know I will continue to in 2014, so I figured it would be fun to take part in the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge.

I have a review for a graphic novel coming up, but I read it last year, so that won't count. However, the next graphic novel I pick up to read will be the start of my challenge. I think I can do quite well with this one, but I'm going to start slow.

Graphic Novels Read:

1. The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth- book review
2.Batgirl/Robin- Year One - book review
3. The Undertaking of Lily Chen - book review
4. The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story - book review
5. Batman: Li'l Gotham - book review
6. Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon - book review
7. Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol - book review 
8. Hidden by Loic Dauvillier - book review
9.  Adolf: A Tale of the Twentieth Century by Osamu Tezuka- book review
10. Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer- book review 
11. Coffin Hill: Forest of Night - book review 
12. Batman: The Long Halloween - book review 
13. Welcome to Nursing HELLo by Joel Craig- book review 
14. The Plain Janes - book review
15. Brain Camp- book review  
16. Tina's Mouth - book review
17.  Young Miss Holmes- book review
18. The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang- book review 
19. Through the Woods by Emily Carrol - book review  
20. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth - book review  
21. MIND MGMT Volume 1: The Manager by Matt Kindt- book review
22. Batman and Son - book review 

There are three levels, but I'm going to start at the bottom:

Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that's only 1 book a month)

I have finished the Modern Age (yay!) and now I'm moving up to-

 Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year

What about you, though? Are you taking part in any book challenges this year? Best of luck!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Blog Tour Review: See Jane Run

Blog Tour- See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne

Review by Lauren

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

copy from publisher, via netgalley, but all opinions are still my own

Official Summary I know who you are.

When Riley first gets the postcard tucked into her bag, she thinks it's a joke. Then she finds a birth certificate for a girl named Jane Elizabeth O'Leary hidden inside her baby book.

Riley's parents have always been pretty overprotective. What if it wasn't for her safety...but fear of her finding out their secret? What have they been hiding? The more Riley digs for answers, the more questions she has.

The only way to know the truth? Find out what happened to Jane O'Leary.

Review: See Jane Run was definitely an interesting mystery and it kept me reading until the end. I just had to know what was going on. I liked that there were a mix of surprises, so even if you were to figure something out, there should be at least a surprise or two in store!

When Riley and her best friend, Shelby, accidently come across a birth certificate for another girl in Riley's baby book, they instantly assume that there are secrets. Shelby jokes about Riley being kidnapped, but as she keeps on insisting that it could be true, Riley's anxiety grows until she starts to believe that maybe Shelby is right.

While I did enjoy Riley and the fact that her character is proactive, working through her anxiety and panic attacks to find answers, she could be a bit frustrating at times. There were moments where Riley really should have talked to her parents. The fact that she's worried about their lies gives her an out for asking too many questions. However, when Riley begins to suspect she's being followed and someone has been in her house, then this is obviously a moment most people would go to the police or find another trusted adult to talk with. Granted, she does confide in her friend Shelby somewhat, and a lot more in this guy from school, J.D., but nobody thinks to get Riley outside help.

All of this leads to some scary moments for Riley, where again, I appreciated her courage and her ability to try and think of ways to save herself, but sometimes she just didn't use enough common sense. Regardless, you can assume that Riley's anxiety and the pile-up of secrets and lies she uncovers is reason enough for her to keep some things to herself. I definitely wasn't sure what the truth was for awhile, so I understood Riley's hesitation to a point.

Regardless, I think the characters are interesting throughout and I loved that I found myself questioning almost all of them as to their motives. There is a bit of a blooming romance, but it never overtakes the mystery and suspense of the story, which I appreciated. This is my first book by Hannah Jayne but I am curious to read more from her in the future. Sometimes you just have to suspend disbelief and let yourself be taken on a thrilling ride!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Goodies Reveal

I mentioned taking part in the Chaotic Goddess Swap's 12 Days of Christmas Swap a little while back and now I'm here to share the fun goodies that I received. My swap partner was Montana from The Book Belles. I think this was the first time I got someone who ran a YA book blog, and I was super excited!

I wish I knew what order I opened my gifts in, but I'm afraid I only took an after photo with everything mixed together. Regardless, Montana had everything wrapped really cute and we even used some of the bags for other gift giving opportunities! hah! Neither of us gave each other numbers for what to open each day, so it was fun to just reach in and grab something.

I talked to Montana for awhile via email getting to know her and allowing her to ask me questions so we could try and find the best possible gifts for each other. I hope she enjoyed what I sent, since I loved everything she gave me.

I got an awesome book all about One Direction (I admit it, I love them), two books from my wish list (The Archived and Kill Me Softly), Victoria's Secret Perfume (mmm mmm) The Princess Bride on DVD (I think I saw this when I was younger, but it's been forever), Sheldon 'That's My Spot' bookmark (Love the Big Bang Theory), purple nail polish and filer, two hand sanitizers, a Sephora lip gloss, See's Candies, Truffles, and a red ornament that I put on my tree right away! Whoo, a whole lot of awesome goodness!

Definitely check out Montana's blog!

I'm linking my reveal over at Chaotic Goddess Swaps. Feel free to check out what some of the other bloggers received for their 12 days. You can also visit the main page to learn about the next swap, where you give your partner BOOKS!!! If you want to take part in a swap, this might be a good one for most of you!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One Ends, Another Begins: The Long Quiche Goodbye

Happy New Year! Today is the day I post the first book I found in the adult section of my library for the One Ends, Another Begins two-book challenge.

The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames

Review by Lauren, buy a copy now from The Book Depository

copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Welcome to the grand opening of Fromagerie Bessette. Or as it's more commonly known by the residents of small- town Providence, Ohio-the Cheese Shop. Proprietor Charlotte Bessette has prepared a delightful sampling of bold Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, delicious tortes of Stilton and Mascarpone, and a taste of Sauvignon Blanc-but someone else has decided to make a little crime of passion the "piece de resistance." Right outside the shop Charlotte finds a body, the victim stabbed to death with one of her prized olive-wood handled knives.

Review: The idea of this challenge is that you don't know what you're going to get, but it's a nice way to try something new. The Long Quiche Goodbye isn't a book I would have picked up just by browsing the shelves, but I am very happy that I had the chance to read it. I think it's hilarious that both novels I "chose" for this challenge were mysteries, and that Avery Aames' novel takes place in Ohio (as I'm in Kentucky). As for the actual story, this is a character-driven story that had me guessing until the end as to who-done-it!

Charlotte and her cousin Matthew have taken over their grandparents cheese shop, Fromagerie Bessette, and are determined to make it even more of a success in their town. However, on the night of the new grand opening, someone is murdered with one of their knives and someone in their family seems the current, likely suspect. Charlotte believes in their innocence and becomes a bit of a sleuth to try and find considerable doubt to keep them from going to jail.

I thought Charlotte was a very likeable character. She might get herself into some scrapes and tick off the town policeman, a former classmate, but she honestly means the best. When she starts to suspect certain people and realizes she is wrong, she feels bad and chastises herself for going too far. While she might do some things most people wouldn't, she is very relatable and you can tell she just wants the best for her family.

In simple terms, I would say this book is like Gilmore Girls with a murder, simply because the town reminds me of that TV show. Everyone knows everybody, though they might not be fond of each other. It's small, close-knit, and full of a nice cast of secondary characters. One of those characters is Rebecca, friend and co-worker of Charlotte, who used to be Amish but left her community to live on her own. It's a wonderful backstory and I love that Aames included random information about Rebecca and other characters throughout the book. It just helped the setting come alive and seem more realistic. I'm definitely curious to read more in this series now!

As for the mystery, I was constantly second-guessing myself, just like Charlotte. She comes up with various suspects that all seem plausible and in the end, I never did figure it out! I love a mystery like this, because it's fun to constantly be wondering, only to have your ideas thrown out the window in the end for a shocking reveal!

In the end, an enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend for those that like a fun mystery without all the gore! No need to keep the light on at night after reading this one! I've already ordered the second novel in the series, Lost and Fondue.

Make it a Gift

The cheese shop in the novel is all about cheese and wine. Charlotte focuses on the cheeses, and her cousin Matthew holds wine tastings. As such, I found the perfect thing to pair with this novel if you wanted to gift something unique!

Melted Wine Bottle Cheese Plate from MitchellGlassworks on etsy. They have a lot of other options too, if you don't like this one. However, if you do, you get the wine bottle plate and the cheese spreader! Just perfect!