Search This Blog

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Destined by Aprilynne Pike

Today seems like a day of endings. I'm feeling a bit melancholy, so I figured it would be a good time to review Destined by Aprilynne Pike. Yes, it is finally time to say good-bye to Laurel, Tamani, David and Chelsea and it makes me feel a bit blue to say goodbye to old, old friends. I held off reading this one for a while because I knew it would be the last, but I finally plucked it from my TBR pile and finished it within the week.

Book Description (From Amazon):
Release date: April 30, 2013 | Series: Wings

Destined delivers all the romance and action that fans expect as it brings Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series to a deeply satisfying conclusion.

Laurel used to think she was an ordinary girl from Crescent City, California. She never would have believed she was truly a faerie from a realm called Avalon.

Now Laurel must risk her life to save Avalon from destruction by Yuki—a rare and powerful Winter faerie—and troll-hunter Klea. But Laurel won’t have to fight alone; David and Tamani, two boys she loves in different ways, will be by her side, along with her best friend, Chelsea.

Readers of the Need and Graceling series will want to follow Laurel’s story from its beginning in Wings to its heart-stopping end in Destined.

My Review:
The story opens to a very tense scene. Yuki is being held hostage and Tamani, Laurel, David, Chelsea and Shar are taking turns guarding her. Now that the know she is a winter faerie, they know how dangerous she is. They are expecting Klea to come for her. When she finally does, it's chaos and carnage.

Laurel's sole purpose of being sent to the human world was to guard the gate of Avalon, but Yuki has ripped that information from her mind and our stalwart heroes know it will not be long before the assault on Avalon begins. In the wake of Yuki's rescue, our friends race to get to Avalon to warn them of the imminent arrival of Lea with Yuki and any number of trolls.

They arrive in time to warn Avalon, but the Queen, foolish as she seems to be, heads back to the Palace her successor in tow and about 200 guards that will be essential in the defending of Avalon. In their arsenal, the young heroes have Jamison, another winter faerie. He takes them to the Palace where he relays the story of King Arthur and Excalibur. King Arthur, being a human, rose up and protected the court of Avalon with the mighty Excalibur, only it's not a myth and the sword is real and embedded in a stone. Jamison requests David take of the sword to defend Avalon once again.

With sword in hand, David becomes invincible, but he will be vulnerable if the sword falls from his hands. Leading the way, David with Tamani, Laurel and Chelsea head off to defend Avalon against the horde of trolls storming the gates.

While danger and the possibility of death has been central to every volume, none are more tense than this final volume. The stakes in the final battle are high with either side unwilling to give in. Laurel, Tamani and company fight to protect Avalon and the right to live another day, while Klea fights to right the wrongs perpetrated against her. Yuki fights for Klea with a misguided sense of loyalty. The battle does end, but at what cost?

Laurel also comes to understand who it is that holds her heart, finally at the end of all things. Where David and Tamani had been rivals for Laurel's attentions, now they become brothers in arms. Where Laurel and Chelsea are the best of friends, now she feels jealous of Chelsea's love of David. Laurel finally has to accept her own feelings for one as well as the hurt she must cause the other, but she must at last embrace one of the boys and let the other one go.

Within this final installment there is an overwhelming amount of sorrow and tragedy, but there is also love, joy and the celebration of life. It is never an easy thing to say goodbye to those we care about, but life moves on, and they remain, as they always were, locked in our hearts and minds.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Stacking the Shelves

So, for the past three weeks, where have I been? Well, I did spend a few days at my mom's. My brother Kenji, sister-in-law Emily and Nephew Tai have come in from Germany. They are in Vermont now for her sister's wedding, but I wanted to spend time with them while I could, since I'm not 100% sure when I will see them again and I've really missed them.

Beyond that, the weather has been getting to me. The humidity has been brutal and has been making me very tired. So, every night I say I'm going to work on my blog, but I have been so miserable in this weather. Lots of headaches, upset stomach, insomnia. While I have had every good intention, by the time I can post anything, I just can't keep my head up, so I post nothing. I'm trying to rectify that, though.  It's just how the summer can be in New Jersey. 

My last STS post was June 26th and I have collected some lovely things since then.

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.


Invisible (Smith High) by Marni Bates - I really enjoyed Decked with Holly and Awkward.  Invisible focuses on another one of the circle of friends.

The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes - This was a bargain book.  I picked it up since I got her new book at BEA.

The Arrivals by Melissa Marr - While I haven't read all , or even most, of Melissa Marr's books, I still buy them all.  Per haps I should catch up.

Raven Flight: A Shadowfell Novel by Juliet Marillier - Likewise, I always pick up books by Juliet Marillier, although I am woefully behind.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West - This one was also a possibility for my bookstore coupon, but sadly, I only had one coupon, so could only buy one book.  I read chapter one at the café and liked what I read, so I ordered it on line.

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski - This one had me from the first page when I downloaded a sample.  I mean seriously, she set her ex's car on fire because he cheated on her.  She's unhinged!!   I needed to find out more about this girl, Rosie.

Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family) by Melissa de la Cruz - I got an ARC signed by MDLC at BEA, but I had never read any of her books.  There are just so many different stories, I didn't know where to start, but I picked up Book 1 of the Beauchamp Family story as a bargain book.  I have since ordered Book 2 also as a bargain book.

Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris - I couldn't put down Unravelling, so had to order the sequel before I even finished the first book.  It came just in time.  This was another BEA miss..

From Notting Hill to New York...Actually by Ali McNamara - I picked up from Notting Hill With Love...Actually on Kindle.  The sequel was only available as a secondary market paperback.

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss - I saw a postcard for this at the NY Comicon or BEA last year.  When cleaning out my niece's room, I looked up the book and found a bargain edition.  It is a flip book.  Nice idea.  Each side is an opposing view of the story, one from her perspective and one from his.

French Kiss (Diary of a Crush Book 1) by Sarra Manning - Love my Brit Chick Lit, but this one was less than stellar.  It was okay, but not destined to be a favorite.

Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend by Louise Rozett - I never picked up Confessions of an angry girl, but I went to the local bookstore with a coupon in hand and the one book I did want, no one had.  With that coupon burning a hole in my had, I took a stack of books to the café and settled on this one.

Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz Book 5 by QuinRose - How many series for this one premise are there?

Undone: An Unravelling Novella by Elizabeth Norris - I read Unravelling and started Unbreakable, so this was a no-brainer.

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard - Picked up the book at BEA, but this was a Kindle Daily Deal, so now I can take it anywhere.

Wish You Were Here by Victoria Connelly - Not a US release and trying to purchase from Amazon Marketplace was about as much as the Kindle.  It's not her usual style of prose when she's writing Austenesque stories, which I found refreshing, but then again, I only read a sample so far.

The First Star to Fall by Diana Peterfreund - A sequel to Across a Star-Swept Sea, which I already pre-ordered since I was thwarted at BEA.

J.A.C.K. by Forever the Sickest Kids
Poorly Formed by the Swingin' Utters
Damage by Jimmy Eat World

Digital mP3:
Zero by Hawthorne Heights
This is How the Wind Shifts by Silverstein
Should've Gone to Bed by Plain White T's


Howl's Moving Castle - One of my favorite Hiyao Miyazaki films.  I have it on DVD, but just had to get it on Blu Ray.

Snow White and the Huntsman - I know, I know, the movie was less than stellar, but it was a bargain price and boasted of being the Extended version, though upon watching, I cannot determine where the extra minutes are.  I had hoped for more Chris Hemsworth.

Warm Bodies - I like the premise, a zombie that can become more human from his relationship with a human girl.  When hubby saw the trailer for this, he gave it the know finger, while I sighed wistfully to myself.  I had to stealth buy this Blu Ray and add it to my pile hoping he wouldn't notice.

Oz the Great and Powerful - The movie did not get a lot of great reviews, but I missed it in the theater.  This was a thwart purchase, so I'm hoping I'm not sorry I bought it.  Can't always wait for video and I hate the idea of paying for on demand if I might like it enough to want to buy it.

Moonrise Kingdom - Sleeper hit.  It now has become one of my favorite movies.  It's a quirky indie film about two youngsters who run away together to get married.  It's delivered in a very deadpan manner and has a stellar cast.

Stardust - I finally bought it in Blu Ray.

Perfect Sense - Ewan MacGregor for about $5.00.  I'll buy!

That's it for this week, but I believe I've done quite enough damage.  My TBR pile has once again gotten out of control.  It may be time for a book buying intervention.  (No, P, you may not have my Neil Gaiman books.)


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Outlander (the movie) - Casting Jamie Fraser

 Starz’s Outlander has its Jamie Fraser!

And you thought your relationship was tough? Claire and Jamie faced many issues in the epic romance, Outlander. We were overjoyed when we learned the beloved book would be coming to TV with Starz in 2014 and have been waiting for casting news. Well, wait no more. Jamie Fraser, everyone’s favorite ginger, has been cast and Scotsman Sam Heughan will take up the tartan. What does Outlander author Diana Gabaldon have to say?
"Having seen Sam Heughan not just act, but be Jamie, I feel immensely grateful to the production team for their painstaking attention to the soul of the story and characters."
That’s a pretty rave review for the casting and we’re hoping the casting of Claire is just as much a success. We’ve fantasy cast the book in the past, but obviously didn't think Chris Hemsworth would take up the role like we hoped—Heughan is ginger and Scottish, and fits the part, at least outwardly. He has been seen in mostly smaller roles on British shows including River City, Island at War, and Misomer Murders, with a British Soap Award nomination for his role as Scott Nielson on BBC’s Doctors.

What do you think? Does he match what you imagined? Who would you like to see cast as his time-traveling true love Claire?

(Copyright from:

So, what do all you Outlander fans out there think?  Is he the embodiment of Jamie? 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review: Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

The day had started as so many days that had gone before, threshing about in a pocket of humidity that clung to my pocket of the room. I couldn’t sleep, nor could I stay awake. The pillows weren’t right, the blankets were too warm, the blankets weren’t warm enough. I had been dreaming of Viggo Mortenson. Don’t ask me what the dream was. I no longer remember the particulars.

It was a work at home day. That meant I didn’t have to get out of my pajamas if I didn’t want to. Heck, I didn’t even need to brush my teeth, but I did, though I kept my hair unkempt. Some mornings I find it difficult to run the brush through my hair, today being one of them.

I wasn’t in a mood, those days reserved the worst kind of days, but I will admit to being in a funk. Is that the same as I mood? I don’t think it is, not quite. I got on the scale. I wished I hadn’t. And I vowed, today would be different, today would be a new start, but to start things generally requires energy and I hadn’t slept well. I succumbed to the call of the chocolate chip scones. I had three. They were small, though.

The day was long and mentally draining. I’d say I was looking forward to the weekend, but that just meant working overtime, so not really a break. Still, I plugged away at it, feeling sleepy off and on throughout the day. That is the only reason I can account for flipping on Bad Girls of Valley High, a 2005 movie starring Julie Benz. After about 20 minutes of viewing, I still had no idea what it was about.
Work was over-long, with two conference call meetings and Egg trying to put in his two cents when no one asked for it. I hope his plaintive cry could not be heard through the phone line. I had to complete my mid-year review. There is no personal benefit to it, no gain associated with it, but also no punitive measures to be taken. It is just a gauge to track performance, one I did not relish having to complete. What more could I say than I meet expectations. Anything more would be pompous bragging and anything less would be pitiful modesty.

Once completed, I logged off as quickly as I could, rolled over pulling my Penguins blanket over me and promptly fell asleep. Once again, I awoke groggy and disoriented, but no dreams of Viggo to shock me awake. I’ve often noted that if I awake from a happy dream, I can never get back to it, but if I awake from a nightmare and fall back asleep, I am right back in the dream.

Dinner was tolerable, heated up left overs that didn’t quite heat up enough. When faced with the decision of what to watch, I just couldn’t commit to an hour long episode of Supernatural, as much as I would like to. I felt restless and directionless, but I knew what I had to do. I found myself climbing the stairs, sitting down to the computer. Opening up a new word document, I began to write.

Book Description (From Amazon):
Release date: September 17, 2013 | Age Range: 8 and up
"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."
"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."
Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.

My Review:
Fortunately the Milk is one of two Neil Gaiman books coming out this year. This book is not only a children’s book written about a grown-up, but also an apology to father’s everywhere. Having once written about a child swapping his dad for two goldfish, Neil Gaiman had shared that he felt like he put father’s in a very bad light and the fact that the book has been given as a Father’s Day gift over the years has made it worse. So he decided to make amends.

Fortunately the Milk is about what happens when a dad is allowed to go fetch the milk for the morning cereal and, if left unattended, all the wonderful mischief he can get into.

This book has everything from pirates to hot air balloon (sorry, Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier) manned by a Stegosaurus to green mucus aliens to volcano gods and even to piranhas. Through it all, our brave parental unit keeps tight hold of the milk, but is it possible to keep the milk safe when it might just be the only thing between life and the complete destruction of the universe?

I found Fortunately the Milk to be witty, fantastical and just a little bit mad, in the best sense of the word. The illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to such a madcap adventure. This is a story that will appeal to both the young and the young at heart.

[Advance Reading Copy received at BEA courtesy of HarperCollins Publishing.]