Thursday, December 30, 2010

*Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Where I Got the Book: Barnes and Noble, in the store. I have one of the original paperbacks (that is, the ones with the gorgeous Alison Jay covers, not the funky photographs. Bleh).

In Short: adventurous, exciting, romantic

I don't think I need to tell you all what a huge fan of Shannon Hale I am. Book of a Thousand Days is my favorite book of all-time, and Princess Academy is lodged in a special place in my heart. Not to mention that this author is a Janeite, has a cardboard Colin Firth Mr Darcy at her house, and is absolutely amazing to meet in person--she's so down-to-earth, so sweet, and positively hee-larious (as is her husband--these two are a bona-fide comic act together).

With all this in mind, it's hard for me to not like any of her books. They're all special to me in their own ways. However, The Goose Girl, though one of the most beautifully written books written in modern times (imo), was, in my opinion, not quite as good as the others. I heard many say that its follow-up book, Enna Burning, was not as good--that it was quite lackluster and fell flat. I beg to defer. Enna Burning is my favorite, favorite, favorite Book of Bayern, and, though not as good as what Thousand Days did for me, it certainly gives Academy a run for its money in my personal standings.

From the moment I cracked open the spine of my delightfully illustrated copy (as I stated before, mine has Alison Jay's artwork on the front) and read the first few pages, I was in love. The Goose Girl had done the same for me when I first read it--I was absolutely spellbound by its first few lines and pages filled with stunning imagery through lyrical structure. Yet, The Goose Girl was slow. It was long. Don't get me wrong--I don't have anything against long books. But the action came in rather sporadic bursts in the first Bayern book.

Enna? Different story. Instead of a wind-speaker, we have our eponymous heroine. Enna had a few lines in The Goose Girl, and from the moment she steps into the picture in that book, she's a joy to read about. A whole book about her should be absolutely fun, right? Yes, it is...however, we're used to Enna's friendly and teasing nature, but her own book is anything but a joke. Funny lines here and there, yes. But much, much darker. I won't give too much away because if you have read it you don't really need to read this summary (and if you haven't, I'll end up spoiling everything), but unlike its predecessor, Enna begins with action, and said action is constant throughout. Our main character's brother, Leifer, seems to be able to control fire, but this "gift" instantly reveals itself to be a blessing in disguise: Leifer easily loses control of the fire, ultimately ending in his demise early in the book when in a battle between Bayern and the neighboring country of Tira. Thence, Enna discovers about her brother's gift and learns to adopt it herself. Determined to control the fire without letting it control her and eventually burn her up, Enna tries to help the soldiers by secretly practicing her power, only to get so carried away as to get captured by the enemy and held prisoner. While remaining captive, Enna must struggle against giving into not only the fire speech but also the Tiran captain Sileph, who may be trying to lure her into using her gift against her own country.

I simply adored Enna's kick-bum character; the wonderfully charming supporting cast (much of whom we met in TGG--my favorites would include Finn and Razo at the top of the list, and TGG enthusiasts will be delighted to see Isi and Geric hop along for the ride as well); the writing (of COURSE); the storyline; the quotes (TGG had many good quotes, but somehow, EB has more quotes I absolutely love)...I'm pretty sure the list simply goes on. Even if you've never picked up a copy of a Shannon Hale book, I definitely recommend this book. (To be really honest, I highly recommend this to those who've never read one of her novels--huge fans of TGG somehow find themselves more disappointed by EB...well, different strokes for different folks).

Red Flags: Granted, it is darker than TGG. There's more violence (not graphically described), and your usual SH clean romance/quasi-romance (kissing is the max). Nothing to be too concerned about...there have been some Amazon reviewers who claimed that it was much too dark. Characters are drugged, tricked, burned, but nothing too blush-worthy.

Plot: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Enjoyment: 10/10
Overall: 50/50

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Original Release Date: August 26, 2004

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Red Flags: Why I Use It and What It Does

For those of you who have read many of my reviews, you will notice that no matter what I review--books, movies, music albums, whatever--I include "Red Flags".

As an elementary schooler, I was extremely sensitive. I was watching the first and second Harry Potter movies yesterday, and I recalled seeing them as a seven- and eight-year-old (respectively) and being rather frightened of the climax with the special effects and all. I'm seventeen now, and I can watch them without flinching. But even now, I don't really care for excessive violence, language, or sensuality. Honestly, what kind of person reads, watches, or listens to it and relishes it?

When I read reviews, I do like hearing about the writer's opinion. But I personally like reading blogs like Reading Teen, Reading Rocks, and Good Clean Reads, blogs that let readers know about any questionable content in books. I'd rather hear from an honest blogger about whether such content is in a book beforehand than accidentally stumbling upon it after paying money for the book and reading it.

Maybe you'll think, "That's just you. I don't think that way. Who even thinks like that anymore?" You'd be wrong. I've been told by readers that yes, they like when I tell them to watch out for something in a book, or if there's some content in a movie or album. And I want to be a blogger who listens to her readers. That's why I started and will keep on using Red Flags. Granted, I sometimes get lazy and like to rely on CSM, but when that site misses something (or exaggerates), I will by all means let my readers know.

If you think I'm odd, crazy, or just a plain prude, don't get ideas that I like to ban books. I don't. Censoring a work of art (yes, books are art--if you're a writer, don't you consider yourself an artist?) is absolutely wrong. I'm not one of those crazies who go off preaching that Harry Potter worships witchcraft and condones misbehavior; that The Lord of the Rings teaches evil magic and is satanic; that To Kill a Mockingbird should be out of high schools; that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is profane; that Shakespeare should be profoundly bowdlerized; that Grimm's fairytales should not be read to elementary school children; that Animal Farm praises communism. So what do all of these books have in common? Yeah, they've been on ALA’s Banned Books lists. But they're also, in my opinion, some of the greatest stories written of all time. I don’t believe in book banning. However, I think that at times, a line has to be drawn.

Here's what I don't understand though: if you have the freedom to speak your mind about whether readers should be informed about content, if you think no books should be censored, if you think artists have the right to utilize their talent in whatever way they wish to the fullest extent of creativity, why can't bloggers write what they want on their blog? I think we can speak our mind about readers being informed about content. I don't think books should be censored. I think artists have the right to utilize their talent. And I think bloggers can express their opinion on their blog. That's what a blog is for. That's what reviews are for. And if you think that not informing your readers about questionable content is a no-no, hey, maybe we should get rid of the MPAA system, too. Because the purpose of that system is exactly that of my blog's Red Flags.

I'm sorry if I offended any of my loyal readers. I mean no harm, but this is a blog--I express my opinions. You're free to have your own blog and express yours. That's my two cents.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas...and some NftN Updates

Merry Christmas, my lovelies! Hope y'all have a good one...and remember why we celebrate this day! And in the words of Tiny Tim..."God bless us, every one!" :)

I'm really not doing much...mostly writing (and trying to churn out these reviews for you guys!). But I just want to give you all a quick notice that I'll be posting a rant soon that I wrote a few days ago (if anyone would like a preview, just shoot me a line. I actually need a fresh pair of eyes to take a look at it before I post :P ).

Also, NftN will be seeing a few changes soon with my review system. My older reviews will remain the same, but those written from this day one will include a new layout. To check it out, look here (books), here (movies), and here (albums).

Have a safe and wonderful Christmas and New Year! :D


ETA: for the record, Christmas really extends to past December 25--it actually ends on Twelfth Night, which is when I will switch up my design. :) So keep saying Merry Christmas and listening to that Christmas music--we're not through with celebrating it yet. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Guess I Should Start with "Hi"...

With that said...

Hello. How are you? Merry Christmas.

I'm fine, thank you. Been busy...which is why I haven't been blogging lately.

So, er...yes, I did go AWOL. But I've been planning my comeback and, uh, here it is.

What have I been doing all this time? Well...
  • Reading (a little)
  • Watching movies (a lot)
  • Writing (sporadically...hey, like my blogging!)
  • Playing the piano and guitar (even less)
And since it IS comeback should be definite. With more:
  • MUSIC!
  • AND....REVIEWS!! (and tumblr...)
    ALSO: I'm thinking of retiring "New Tunes" on this blog. I have way too many to do...I think I'm probably going to move it to my tumblr, where it will dwell very happily.

    AND ONE LAST THING! Check out the poll to the left (if you can't tell your right from your left like me, it's your more dominant hand if you're a leftie and your less dominant hand if you're a rightie ;) ). Please vote! I'm trying to figure out what to review next. :)

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    This Is the Buzz...

    I'm sitting here, typing this away, while busily munching (but not swallowing, of course) a piece of Trident gum. This fact is seemingly irrelevant, but nay, my friends, this is a change: I hardly ever chew gum. I'm chewing a piece now because first of all, it's relieving me from dehydration due to SoCal's ridiculous weather, but it's also a revolution. It's Bastille Day, and if you know a speck of history, that means that on July 14, 1789, a revolution took place in France. Two hundred twenty-one years later, I'm starting my revolution.

    No, I won't be whacking off heads (geez). This doesn't have anything to do with the government, or even with politics. It's more of a resolution then a revolution. Today, I resolved to do the following:
    • Twitter = no mas. Not for awhile, anyway.
    • Facebook = no mas. Not that I've been doing anything with it for awhile, it's just more official now.
    • Blogging = mas! I'm blogging more.
    • Writing = mas! At the minute, my WIP is my favoritest thing in the world. (yes, excuse the writer for messing up her grammar on purpose) Writing also includes songwriting. I've had an urge for returning to it for awhile.
    • Reading = mas! In case you're wondering, I'm reading Emma right now.
    That's basically my resolution: more writing, reading, and no social networking aside from blogging. My resolution also includes replying to emails, so if you'd care to drop a line, go ahead and do so.

    My resolution is also calling me to get busy on writing a new review as well as to fix my last album review...and to continue revising and writing my WIP.

    And since I'll also be busily listening to music, I'll try to update my tumblr often with music quotes. :)

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Wanted: A Blogger/Blogspot Genius

    Hey, folks! It seems that not too many of you really looked at my album review for Play On, and that's okay. I kind of don't blame you--if you at least glanced at it, you might notice what a mess it looks right now. What's happening is that Blogger (or at least, my Blogger) is messing with the HTML as soon as I press the "post" button. I have no idea why this is happening, or if anyone else is having the same problem, but it seems even the folks at the Google Help Group won't help or have no idea at all.

    So I'm in need of some assistance. Just let me know in the comments whether you have a Blogger blog, and check to see if you're having the same problem as well. It seems my whole posting option is screwed up, because I can't even edit old posts anymore without the screen getting messed up. PLEASE, please please help me if you're a wicked awesome genius with Blogger and with HTML. I need to know why my HTML is changing up on itself and how I can fix this. My one idea is because I use Century Gothic instead of the standard Blogger fonts, and if this is the case, then back to Georgia I go (not the state or the country, the font).

    Thanks in advance! :D

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Play On by Carrie Underwood

    Where I Got the Album: Target! Love that place.

    Before I begin, let me say how excited I am to finally be reviewing something from Carrie Underwood. Carrie is definitely one of my favorite, if not my top favorite, artists. No, I don't watch AI (confession: I've only watched a few reruns of the auditions because, you know, that's the really funny part). No, I've never been to her concerts--I've missed the opportunity to twice (*pout*). But yes, I own all of her albums, I can sing all the lyrics to almost all of her songs without looking them up, and I also own the duets she has done with other artists (AND I'm very happy that she just got married a few days ago!)

    Okay, so let me give a quick rundown of what I thought of her third album. There's usually this odd tendency for me to prefer sophomore albums over third (junior?) albums, and, to be honest, though I was afraid the same wouldn't happen for Carrie Underwood, it did. I really loved her debut Some Hearts, as well as her sophomore Carnival Ride, Play On was a little flat. Don't get me wrong--it's a nice album and definitely worth the buy for any Carrie Underwood fan, but something was definitely lacking in this third show. Unlike the freshness of Some Hearts and the honky-tonk rawness of Carnival Ride, Play On was a little too cleaned up with pop finesse for the true country fan who knows who Carrie truly is as a singer and knows what to expect from her. There are some gems---both of the more country sort and of the pop variety--but others failed to display Carrie's true talents. One thing though, speaking of her talents: I was glad to see that she got more involved with the writing of her songs. Singer-songwriters FTW.

    *1. Cowboy Casanova (Carrie Underwood/Mike Elizondo/Brett James): This. Song. Is. So. Addicting! Play On starts off with a strong country song, one that powers out a similar story and tune as those in Carrie's previous hits "Before He Cheats" and "Last Name". You can be insanely happy or insanely angry, and still sit back--or dance like mad--to this song. This is what Carrie Underwood is about: sassy, girl power tunes country fried to the right degree. Score: 10/10

    *2. Quitter (Max Martin/Shellback/Savan Kotecha): Though this is called one of the weakest songs on the album, I can't help liking this song. It's a nice segue after "Cowboy Casanova", but perhaps because the first song is so good, this one seems to fall a little flat. The songwriting isn't very strong, but it's quite catchy and cute--maybe too cute. For the record, I love the musical bridge. Score: 9/10

    3. Mama's Song (C. Underwood/Kara DioGuardi/Martin Frederiksen/Luke Laird): First off, I think you have to be in the right mood for this song. It's rather simple, but it's very sweet and resounds of a wonderfully strong bond between a mother and daughter. However, the first time I listened to it, I thought it was rather boring. Listen to the lyrics carefully, and you'll see that this is actually a very beautiful, poignant song. Score: 9/10

    4. Change (Katrina Elam/Josh Kear/Chris Tompkins): Where's the country-ness here? Nonetheless, this is a rather touching song, though it's quite pop-ish. One problem: if one doesn't listen to the song carefully and only ends up catching the words of the chorus, the message gets sent all wrong. Not to mention that some charity TV ads ARE scams (much of the donated money actually goes to their advertising, not to third-world countries). Score: 8/10

    *5. Undo It (C. Underwood/K. DioGuardi/M. Frederiksen/L. Laird): This is Carrie's current single. I'm not quite up-to-date on all things country at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is doing very well. This song has the same, girl power country tune as "Before He Cheats" and "Cowboy Casanova". Though one can say that the eponymous verse of "I wanna uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it!" is slightly corny, I personally think it's just catchy and fun--so ENJOY it. Score: 10/10

    6. Someday When I Stop Loving You (Hillary Lindsey/Steve McEwan/Gordie Sampson): Dear Ms Lindsey, You're one of my favorite songwriters ever, so when you write a song for Carrie Underwood that make me yawn...I mean, really?? I'm sorry to say that that is what your song "Someday When I Stop Loving You" did to me. Apparently, every top critic sings his or her praises about this song, even if they thought "Quitter" was weak and "Undo It" was corny, but I'm not seeing what's so great about this one. Don't worry--I still love all your other songs. Sincerely, The Nerdette. Score: 6/10

    *7. Songs Like This (Marty Dodson/Jerry Flowers/Tom Shapiro): After that yawner "Someday", the album finally gets back into some honky-tonk action with this track. Though it isn't quite as powerful or downright GOOD as "Cowboy Casanova" or "Undo It", it's still a pretty nice song. Thumbs up for the girl power, thumbs down for the weakness. I can't quite pinpoint what was so weak about this one--my guess is the music--but nonetheless, the title is quite clever, considering country isn't really known for its songwriting prowess. Score: 10/10

    *8. Temporary Home (C. Underwood/L. Laird/Zac Maloy): The first time I heard this song, though it was slow, I actually enjoyed it. It made me sad, though for the wrong reason (I misinterpreted the first verse as being about the little boy dying). I haven't watched many of Carrie's videos as of late, but I did see this one...and oh my goodness. I hardly every cry watching movies or reading books, but this one very nearly teared me up. Hollywood, get Carrie on the big screen pronto. This singing sensation would do fabulously on stage or on film. Score: 10/10

    9. This Time (H. Lindsey/S. McEwan/G. Sampson): It seems that Hillary Lindsey did a writing session with these two other fellows and wrote this song as well as "Someday" on the same day. "This Time" was, yes, weak. Perhaps not as weak as "Someday", for it has some prettily written verses here and there, but the music was much too cleaned up and pop-ish. Score: 7/10

    10. Look at Me (Jim Collins/Paul Overstreet): I believe this is a cover, and though it's probably not a bad cover, the song itself is just a yawner. It doesn't matter who's singing it; the music is boring, the lyrics are boring--must I expound on this more? No, I'd rather not. Score: 5/10

    *11. Unapologize (C. Underwood/H. Lindsey/Raine Maida/Chantal Kreviazuk): Another pop turn here--and not too bad of one. By the song title, one would assume it's another of Carrie's hard-hitting, boy-dissing tunes. Actually, it's anything but. It's sweet and cute, though again, perhaps a little too cleaned up for a true country fan. Nonetheless, a nice song. Score: 9/10

    *12. What Can I Say (C. Underwood/David Hodges/S. McEwan): I said before how much I love Carrie's duets, right? This song is simply gorgeous. The lead singer of Sons of Sylvia, a new country band currently touring with Carrie, has an amazing voice. Everything about this track--the music, the lyrics, the voices, the integration of the two talents here--fits beautifully together. If you're only going to buy a few songs form this album, this should definitely be one of them. Score: 10/10

    13. Play On (C. Underwood/Natalie Hemby/L. Laird): Finally! Now we know why this whole CD is called "Play On". Now, the titular track isn't a bad song; however, it's subject matter is a bit clichéd. The lyrics are all right, the music falls flat. I would still give this one a listen, but don't expect anything that will knock your socks off. It's inspirational if you're in a bad mood, I suppose.

    Red Flags: Check out Common Sense Media, but this is a pretty clean album.

    Vocals: 10/10
    Instrumentals: 8/10
    Songwriting: 8/10
    Lasting Value: 9/10
    Enjoyment: 9/10
    Overall: 44/50

    Producers: Mark Bright, Max Martin, Shellback
    Genre: Country
    Record Label: Arista Nashville/19 Recordings
    Release Date: November, 3, 2009
    Length: 48:28

    Also Recommended:
    • Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
    • Carnival Ride by Carrie Underwood
    • Kellie Pickler by Kellie Pickler
    Check It Out!

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    New Tunes #2

    It has been way too freaking long for this. (Of course, it's been way freaking long yet AGAIN that I've tried to blog. I am just so insanely lazy! :P ) In fact, I have a long, long list of all the songs that I need to do NTs for, but I’m splitting them up in pieces to make things easier for me. :)

    And because it’s been so long, it was too much to put all the artists that are going to be featured in this post in the title.

    In case you folks forgot, New Tunes is like The Story Siren’s IMM (In My Mailbox), except that instead of it being weekly and instead of it being with books, NT involves music that I recently put on my iPod, and NT has mini reviews of the songs listed. Like IMM, there is also a little Mr Linky at the bottom, if you want to get involved in the music action here. Usually these songs come from iTunes, unless otherwise stated (the ones here are all from iTunes but in some cases, I found them first from other sites such as Project Playlist).

    Like so:

    "White Liar" by Miranda Lambert from Revolution (2009). Written by Miranda Lambert and Natalie Hemby. I heard so much about this song all over the web, and, being a fan of Miranda Lambert myself, I knew it was a must-buy for me, especially as it is now hailed as one of her best songs and the most aired. I don’t think I even really sampled the song fully on Youtube or Project Playlist—I think I simply listened to a thirty-second sample without thinking about whether I liked it much before buying it—but I quickly bout it, and once I had it loaded up on my iPod, I listened to it immediately. It…wasn’t quite what I expected. I was in the mood at the time for a hard-hitting country rock song, not unlike Lambert’s previous hits, “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Kerosene”, and “White Liar” wasn’t quite that. Considering Lambert’s usual twangy vigor in her songs, “White Liar” was quite calm, though full of the usual cutting girl-power edge popular in many country songs nowadays. For awhile, I didn’t listen to the song much until Twitter and Facebook friends kept talking about it non-stop. So I gave it another go. Songwriting? Clever, catchy. Music? Again, calm for Lambert. Overall? Unique from other country, a slight departure from what is usually expected from this artist, yet very much teeming of Lambert. Score: 9/10

    "Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton from Films About Ghosts (2003). Written by Joni Mitchell. I kind of feel like I can’t really review this song, because I’d heard it so much even when I was little and always wanted to know what song it was. I didn’t find out it was a Counting Crows song until back when I was on my Vanessa Carlton high (plus, I thought that would make my online pal, Anilee, happy that I found a Counting Crows song I liked ;) ). There’s so much to like about this song, and although I’m fond of a few Vanessa Carlton songs, the part I least liked about “Big Yellow Taxi” was the fact that Carlton served as background vocals. Perhaps it’s because I usually find background vocals really annoying and cheesy unless it’s done by the lead vocals or unless it is a member of the band performing it, but I wasn’t a fan of her in there. What I did like? Mitchell’s clever, multi-dimensional songwriting full of depth in such a short song (though I haven’t heard the original and can’t judge it, I feel kind of proud to be listening to a song by an artist referenced to in You’ve Got Mail ;) ), Counting Crows’ vocals, and the fact that I found a song I enjoyed listening to on the radio as a little kid. Score: 9/10

    "December" by Norah Jones from December - Single (2009). Written by Norah Jones. Norah, Norah, Norah…she is by far one of the best artists of the twenty-first century. As always, graceful music, interesting songwriting, and mature vocals from a young artist who debuted with eight Grammys back in 2002. For some reason, I dislike listening to Christmas music during Christmastime (on my iPod, at least. Things are always different on the radio), but this song was easy to listen to, and I loved listening to it even when December had long past. Perhaps it’s because it’s not just a Christmas song—it’s more a song about the month of December, or it may be an allegory for lost love, as almost all songs are. Definitely recommended. Score: 9/10

    "Goodbyes" by Savannah Outen from Goodbyes - Single (2008). Written by Savannah Outen. I found this song completely by accident--I heard it on Vimeo (the MV was used an ad break song). I thought it was okay at first, just really catchy, and after I looked it up, it seemed to become...well, even catchier. After awhile, it kind of...well, it wears off on you. Savannah Outen, fresh out from YouTube fame, certainly has much talent as a singer (especially for her age--watch out, Taylor Swift), though is probably a little lacking on songwriting (apparently she wrote this song, and though apparently she wrote it as a middle schooler, it doesn't seem to have been written with added finesse later). I honestly think this is a fun song, especially for a graduation, and it's fun to perform on the guitar (and if you check out the video, Savannah has a wicked awesome acoustic guitar. I. Want. It. And I do need a new guitar), but it's definitely not a great song. This artist certainly has a lot of potential, provided she doesn't take the well-worn Radio Disney route. Score: 7/10

    After you've listened to some, all, or none of those songs above, how about giving your opinion on some songs you found lately, or even the ones above? Sign up on the Mr Linky below, and happy listening!

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010


    I honestly don't know how many posts I've done with the same title above, goes!

    So I've been totally neglecting this blog, and only really got back around to writing and posting on it after being reinspired by Julie and Julia (not that I was about to give up blogging--I was just being lazy), and because I'm kind of bored right now.

    Hopefully, I won't be so lazy to write up some posts and and reviews for you all!  And yes, I am on summer vacation...which should mean that I WOULD get more time to post on here but actually doesn' means I slack off a lot and attempt to study for the SAT.  (Yes, I'm asking for luck on the latter.) ;) Anywho, I feel like this summer vacation is going to be like some new year thing...hence, some resolutions.  That is, if I can keep them. ;)
    • Try to figure out a good blogging schedule, and STICK with it!
    • READ.  I have to finish all the books in my TBR pile before school starts. :P (In total, I have forty-seven books, two of which I've already finished only because I was almost done with them anyway.  I'm almost done with another two wish me luck!  I may do a counter thing on my sidebar for it.  I would LOVE you if you told me where I can make the best widget where I can do a sort of countdown thing showing how many books I've finished for my mini challenge.)
    • WRITE.  I'm absolutely determined to finish my book before summer ends.  I'm aiming for 2K a day, a common NaNoWriMo goal I think.  I'm hoping I can push myself to make this like NaNo, but more serious.  Plus, I have more time and I'm a good ways into my WIP.  (And yes, words cannot express how much I adore my book.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.)
    • SAT prep, as stated before...
    • Learn more guitar songs!  Master them!  (I really want to master "Goodbyes" by Savannah Outen, "Keep Holding On" by Avril Lavigne, "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" by Jewel, among others, especially now that I have actual picks!  w00t!)
    • Learn more piano songs...properly.  I'm absolutely determined to learn almost all of Regina Spektor's songs, and if I don't explode.  Or implode.  Maybe not really, but I'll be very, very frustrated.  I at least have to get "Samson", "On the Radio", "Fidelity", "Eet", "Laughing With", "Dance Anthem of the 80s", "Ne Me Quitte Pas", "Two Birds", among others, solid.  Okay, maybe at least a couple of those.
    • Finally jot down some good songs. :P
    • Exercise.  Yeah.  For some reason, putting that on here seems a bit of a TMI...oh well.
    • Change up the layout a little.  I might change the background to make it less spring-y and more summer-y, but if you guys notice, the static pages have kind of shifted around.  See it?
    • Chat with my pals on Skype and gmail!  Guys, e-mail me or something!!!
    This isn't possibly a little too much for my summer plate, is it?  Just wish me luck on them all...especially the reading thing, and the writing thing, and the SAT thing. :P Oh, and I also have a tumblr, though I have no idea what to do with it.  It'll mostly be a thing throwing out shameless plugs and quotes and songs and random thoughts once in awhile, but maybe eventually I'll figure out some good use for it.

    What are you all doing this summer? :D

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Truth: May Folks Are Awesome

    Note: the above picture WAS the same one I used last year for Priya. It's just so cute!

    I'm not one to really believe in horoscopes--I just find the ones about people's personality based on their date of birth or what year they're born in funny. (And I also really, really hate daily horoscopes. Very vague, very retarded. A total waste of time.)

    However, I've noticed something pretty darn amazing: many people born towards the end of May are AWESOME. They're just amazing. They do all sorts of different things, but they are so wicked cool. If you're not convinced, or you're angry at me because I didn't say that your birthday is awesome (which it probably is, but I'm just focusing on May here because, well, it IS May), just read on to find out.

    Jackson Pearce (May 21, 1984)
    So...our names are every-so-slightly similar (because if you call her Jackie and me Jackie, we would easily have the same name), but...c'mon. She's a YA author and a singer who totally pwned Ke$ha a few days ago with her hit single "Writers' Blok" (which, by the way, I'm currently playing on repeat on my iPod. Just so you know.). Not only did she debut last year (book-wise) with a novel that sounds eerily similar to one of my favorite TV shows, I Dream of Jeannie (As You Wish, which, I believe, is also somewhat based on a Shakespeare play), but also her second novel (a fairy-tale retelling, another favorite genre of mine), Sisters Red, is coming out very soon and can already be bought from various bookstores!

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (May 22, 1859)

    C'mon! It's the creator of Sherlock Holmes! And he was also a sort of sidekick helper-guy in Shanghai Knights. Though he isn't the author to first start writing the detective novel (that honor goes to Wilkie Collins with his novel The Moonstone, which I own and must read soon!), he established a classic book series that could be called Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys for Victorian era adults. In case you were wondering, my bucket list consists of reading the whole collection of Sherlock Holmes books--I've already read The Hound of the Baskervilles, one that I really enjoyed considering it was for summer reading freshman year.

    spider (May 24)

    Spider is awesome because: 1. I met her on LRRH back in the day, hence making her awesome. 2. She was on LRRH because she's a fan of Shannon Hale. 3. Her blog ROCKS. 4. She is freaking hilarious. 5. She's a constant blog reader of mine--that automatically gets sweet-and-awesome points in my book. ;) 6. She once helped me out with a project for Journalism/Yearbook. 7. We're both juniors born in the same year (though not all juniors born in the same year as us are awesome. Just saying. ;) ). 8. I think she tagged me before for a meme. Or I tagged her. 9. She could probably figure out I'm trying to come up with ten reasons why she's cool. 10. She is just cool. :)

    Jewel (May 23, 1974)

    Possibly one of the most talented singer-songwriter-guitarists out there. I simply adore songwriters who can weave poetry into music, a gift I wish I had, and Jewel can simply do it. I listened to "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland" on Sunday, forgetting it was her birthday (and I hadn't listened to her in awhile--however, I randomly had gotten it stuck in my head one day and didn't get to listen to it until then). Oh, and speaking of poetry, did you know that she actually wrote and published a book of poetry (and not just the lyrics written down in a book, though she has done that too for charity)? So neat. :)

    Queen Victoria (May 24, 1819)
    Um, hello? This is THE QUEEN. The one who reigned for sixty-something years in England and conquered almost the whole world (hence the proverb, "The sun never sets on the British empire.") including Europe, though the latter was more through her children's marriages (which is why she is called the grandmother of Europe, I believe). And as a side note, I have watched the mini-series on her, which was okay (and which starred Colin Firth's younger brother as Prince Albert! OMG! There is practically no resemblance whatsoever!), and I really want to see the new movie of her. :)

    Frank Oz (May 25, 1944)
    We all know it was Jim Henson who started the Muppets, but without Frank Oz directing the Muppets movies, they might not be as popular as they are today. He made Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Grover, and Cookie Monster a voice (literally speaking) 'cause...c'mon, what would the Muppets be without a pearl-wearing blonde pig, or what would Sesame Street be without that sweet-toothed blue fellow?

    Dorothea Lange (May 26, 1895)
    To you, she may just be a name in a history book, but really, her work from the Great Depression (such as Migrant Mother, which I'm sure you've seen somewhere) strikes Americans to the core even today upon realization of the hardships and struggles that the poor had to endure during the thirties. So Ms. Lange's awesome factor? Very high, considering her impact and her photographs' impact--especially at a time when photos were a pretty new medium still--on the U.S.

    Sally Ride (May 26, 1951)
    First of all, I'd like to say that if we play the Degrees of Separation game (which I LOVE), I'm two degrees from this amazing astronaut. TWO degrees from the first American woman astronaut! So. Neat. Her story always fascinated me, especially due to the fact that even though I'm not a fan of science, astronomy (NOT astrology, again, mind) interested me a lot, especially when I was in elementary school. I think she also taught (or is teaching) at Stanford, which also adds to her awesome factor in my book (even though chances are slim that I would get into there).

    Helena Bonham-Carter (May 26, 1966)
    Lucy Honeychurch. Lady Jane. Ophelia. Mrs Bucket. Bellatrix Lestrange. Admit it: this actress has played so many of literature's most famous characters, and she plays them well to boot. Not only that, she's Mr Bingley's cousin! Well, a "distant" cousin of the actor who plays Bingley in the Pride and Prejudice mini-series (ever noticed how in the credits there was always some fellow with the last name Bonham-Carter? That's him).

    Colbie Caillat (May 28, 1985)
    Another favorite singer-songwriter-guitarist of mine born around this time (though she is also a pianist and ukuleleist). I simply love her music because it's one of those that you simply can't place in one single genre, because it's one all of its own. Well, I've written a review raving about her debut album, so you should know already how much I enjoy listening to her songs. :)

    What do these people all have in common? Some love literature, others music, others history (or they are part of history) and me...wait, why am I mentioning me? Is it...possibly my birthday? Could it be that I joined the ranks of these amazing people seventeen years ago?

    YES! It's true! I...I...I'm a cool May person! I have something in common with these people!!
    Wow, as in...that wasn't just so corny. Well, 'nuff about me.

    A HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of these folks, though for many of them it is either a belated or an early birthday wish. :P

    **Nota Bene/Disclaimer: You could totally call this list biased, because upon research, the writer/blogger/birthday girl found that there were also some not-so-awesome folks born in the end of May as well. Such as Cambodian dictators and untalented singers. Just saying.**

    Also, folks I didn't mention but whom I also wish a happy birthday to include (but are not limited to): Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803), Ian McKellan (May 25, 1939), Amelia Bloomer (May 27, 1818). There were also several others, but I'll probably include them and those just listed in a exactly a year from now. :)

    BTW, I so would have posted this earlier had not HTML been such a jerk to me last night. :P

    Saturday, May 22, 2010


    How I Watched the Movie: I saw this in theaters with my parents not long after it came out this summer. We bought the DVD from Costco a months ago.

    If you know me well (and if you read my Ratatouille review), you will know that I am a huge Pixar fan. Okay, so I don't actually believe my mom when she says that I did see Toy Story when I was little (I seriously cannot remember that movie), but I've always loved their movies like crazy. Pixar has turned into a family tradition at my house. My parents have bought me a plush Dot (A Bug's Life), Boo (Monsters, Inc.), Nemo and Dory (Finding Nemo) and Jack-Jack (The Incredibles); we even named our cell phones after Pixar characters. (Nota bene, if you're wondering why I didn't mention Cars, it's because that's the only Pixar movie I have yet to see.) So we heard that Pixar was making this adorable movie about an old man's house attached to helium balloons that floats around in the sky, you bet we were pretty excited for this one. Sure, the premise sounds cute and fluffy, because just how far-fetched does a floating balloon-house sound? But despite the fantastical aspect of Pixar movies--anthropomorphic insects, animals, cars, and robots; living toys and closet-monsters--actually watching the movies is a whole other experience. Of course you chuckle here and there and "aww!" over the more juvenile aspects, but all in all, it's the moral and meaning behind the movies that reaches out to everyone, young and old. That is what has made Pixar a name brand, the one that trumps over Dreamworks and other struggling animating copycats.

    Up is no exception; in fact, it exceeds the other films. No other movie can make one cry in the beginning and leave one laughing over an inside joke that has now reached to international levels ("Squirrel!", anyone?). It is truly no surprise that this movie won (very easily, I must say) the Oscar for Animated Feature, in addition to a nod for the greatest Academy Award for them all (but truly, which one will you most likely remember? The heart-warming balloon movie or the war thriller no one has really heard of?). This movie stands out in so many ways. Yes, it does have many of Pixar's signature motifs (talking animals, check; hyperactive kid, check; fantasy, major check), but what was the last movie you saw that stars an aging balloon salesman who uses his area of expertise to make his house fly?

    Ever since he was a little boy, Carl Fredricksen (Edward Asner) has held a fascination over flying and exploring adventures. In fact, that's just how he meets his childhood friend, who later becomes his wife, Ellie (Elizabeth Docter). The two dream of one day taking a trip to the Paradise Falls, an almost mythical tropical paradise that has given their hero, Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer), his renown. After many happy years together--and after trying and trying to earn enough money to go to Paradise Falls, an elderly Ellie passes away, leaving Carl alone in their old home surrounded by modern-day skyscrapers and construction. Contemporary woes start to kick in for the senior citizen, as the construction workers try to buy his home from him and move him to a retirement home. However, using his skills from the trade he knows best--balloon-selling--Carl attaches hundreds and hundreds of balloons to his house to fly off to Paradise Falls. Along the way, he encounters a variety of characters who join him on his journey, including a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell (Jordan Nagai) who yearns to earn his "Assisting the Elderly" badge by helping Carl; a colorful tropical bird Russell spontaneously names "Kevin" (Pete Docter); and a Golden Retriever, Dug (Bob Peterson), who communicates in plain English via his special collar. When Carl meets his ambitious role model Muntz at Paradise Falls, Carl's trip takes a turn for an even more daring--and dangerous--adventure.

    Pros: It would take a whole essay for me to write about all the good things, but let me sum it up in short words. Animation. Characters. Plot. Sad. Funny. Cute. Action. Adventure. Whimsical. Creative. Don't you think it's awesome already?

    Cons: Nothing! :D (Though the beginning is very sad...which could either be a pro or a con, whichever way you look at it.)

    Red Flags: Nothing, except some intense scenes in which some characters' lives seem to be in peril. Check CSM here.


    Plot: 10/10

    Acting: 10/10 (all-star cast makes excellent voices for excellent characters!)

    Screenwriting: 10/10

    Originality: 10/10

    Enjoyment: 10/10

    Overall: 50/50  (a definite favorite!)


    Original Release Date: May 29, 2009

    Length: 96 minutes

    Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

    Producer: Jonas Rivera, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

    Screenwriter: Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy, Jim Capobianco, Aley Phelan

    Distribution Company: Walt Disney Pictures

    MPAA Rating: PG

    Also Recommended:
    • Ratatouille (2007)
    • Finding Nemo (2003)
    • The Incredibles (2004)
    • Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
    • Spirited Away (2002)
    Check It Out!

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Blogging Back with a...

    But not.

    After days of frantic studying and testing, my creative juices have run out! So bear with me here. :P (Yeah, I've become so lackadaisical that I haven't even been blogging until now.)
    (BTW, totally cool pic, right? Just Google in "bang", and that's what you get...amid all these Big Bang Theory pictures, of course.)

    So! This is my plan for the next few days, provided that all goes well. *crosses fingers*
    • BLOG! I pinky-promise! More specifically about the awesome signing I went to, erm, three months ago that I never talked about, and about a BUNCH of other things, including my writing, feminism, and uh...actually, I'm planning on TWO posts about feminism. Booyah.
    • READ! (Yeah, I'm kind of excited. The title of this post IS about blogging back with a BANG!) Books I so need to finish include: Boston Jane: An Adventure, every single Shannon Hale book I own and haven't read, Magic Under Glass, and Hamlet.
    • WRITE! Because I have my first real fan (fangirl?) now, even though I'm barely getting along with my book. (Said first real fan is KIM! w00t w00t! You go, girl!)
    • WRITE! Reviews, that is. Yes, same schedule as on the left (if you notice, it got slightly changed. I added some stuff. See it?)
    • ENTER CONTESTS! Not that that's an amazing thing, know...
    • WORK ON THIS PROJECT FOR YOU ALL! (Not shouting here. Really.) Yep...I've mentioned it on Twitter like...five times. And trust me--it's pretty darn cool. I'm quite proud of myself. *polishes fingernails*
    Aaaannddd....since I know you love my lists (NOT), this is the current buzz with me:

    • I has a webcam! And I had my first video chat on gmail with my good friend Jess. You know, it's SO much better to actually laugh and not just type "lol" or "rofl". So if any of you are on gmail and have a webcam and want to chat sometime, let me know! (P.S. I'll have to ask my parents, but I *might* be able to do actual VIDEOS on here. Schweet or what?)
    • I really, really like Kate Nash songs. Her cleaner songs, that is (and as of now, I only know of two: "Mouthwash" and "Merry Happy". 'em! Just wish she did more clean songs).
    • Even though APs are over, I have one APUSH project (which should actually be fun, considering I get to do what I want to do...gosh, that sounds bratty), one AP Lit project (which I hope to rock out on...hope to, mind), and three AP Psych projects (which sounds like a lot, but one is super short and easy, and they're all quite fun).
    • I LOVE THIS! Watch it. Now. NOW. I'm putting it on my iPod as soon as this up-and-coming artist puts up the single on her blog. ;D (ETA: So I just realized that the whole thing doesn't show up on my blog, which is a bummer. Just click on the video below to see the whole screen--it's totally worth it!--and then watch her other videos as well. :) )

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    The Buzz...(and goodbye until May 12!)

    You might to able to tell, but I've been fiddling around with the nitty-gritty design aspects of this blog. Hope you all like it! I probably won't be able to do more until May 12.

    Why May 12? Well...APs are coming up. Yep, Advanced Placement tests. I'm taking three this year (it will be my first time), and am I nervous. I have AP Lit this coming Thursday, APUSH the day after that, and AP Psych on Tuesday. May 12 is the day after my last AP test, so I'm hoping to finally relieve my stress on that day.

    But when I come back, I pinky promise to...

    • Read! A lot!
    • Read and give feedback on Inkpop, a writing site that has been like heaven for me as of late (if you have an account and are a friend of mine, you'll see why)
    • Play the guitar! And the piano! I'm abstaining from playing music (but not listening to it, of course) until my APs are over.
    • Write and post a ton of reviews (and schedule them :P )
    • Work on three projects I'm doing right now...I'm not going to reveal them at the moment, because I'm not sure how they'll go, but please wish me luck! Come to think of it, it's kind of four projects...Trust me, if this works out, I'll reveal it to you guys soon. :)
    • Write my novel. Yes, this also has something to do with Inkpop.
    • Possibly start writing a script. I'm not certain yet. I have two really good ideas, and I feel bad for not participating in Script Frenzy this year. :P
    • Uh...I feel like I'm missing more...oh! Recruit more people to be featured here! And try to get you guys talking a bit more here (ie, I'm going to set up a post where you guys ask me questions and I put them up on the "Who I Am" page, or somewhere similar). So if you guys want to be featured, you can fill out the forms (or if you have a rec for me, you can fill out a form too), but most likely I won't be able to get back to you until May 12 or later. Sorry! Also, first come first serve, unless I wait for waaayyy too long (like a week. I'm going to make a policy for this soon).
    And uh...that's it! Please, please, please wish me luck, and if you guys aren't on Inkpop, you should join and add my novel to your pick list! See y'all in a couple weeks! *tear tear*


    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    *Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    Where I Got the Book: I actually own two editions of the book; after I heard about the movie, I got an older version (paperback) from Amazon, but much later(as you will read a little later), a friend got me the copy (also paperback) that you see to the left.

    For the past fifteen years (going on sixteen, in May 2009) of my life, I have been a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan. So of course, when Oscar season rolled around back in 2006 and I heard that a new Miyazaki movie was nominated, I was dying to watch it. Without having seen it, I bought it almost immediately from Amazon. I don’t mean to segue into a whole topic about Amazon and its awesomeness, but thanks to that site, I’ve made some amazing discoveries. One of them was the book that Miyazaki made an adaptation of. The book sounded amazing, so obviously I stuck it in the cart along with the movie. Sadly, after the first two or three chapters, I abandoned the little gem until I decided to pick it up again when my pal from Wise Review left me a copy on my doorstep as a Christmas present (nota bene: Wisdom of Youth is a friend of mine whom I met when I was in the eighth grade). And then, reader, I began the most fascinating, the most intriguing, the most hilarious, and the most magical journey around Ingary in Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle.

    “In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.” For Sophie Hatter, it is just her luck to be born the oldest child out of three daughters of a hat shop-owner. So with this common belief in mind, she is certain that between her and her sisters Lettie and Martha, she will have the most miserable fate. As if that didn’t hurt Sophie’s self-esteem enough, Sophie’s father dies, leaving Sophie to become an apprentice of the hat shop. While she stays home trimming hat after hat, her sisters go off to seek their fortunes in pastry shops and apprenticeships with witches. Sophie’s destiny seems to be sealed to be terrible after her father dies and she is forced to become an apprentice of the hat shop and do mind-numbing hat trimming while her sisters go off to seek their fortunes. As if Sophie’s destiny isn’t sealed to be miserable enough, the infamous Witch of the Waste, for reasons unknown to Sophie, turns her into an old woman. Having aged more than seventy years, Sophie heads off to better her life and stumbles upon the treacherous Wizard Howl’s moving castle, where she strikes a bargain to rid her curse with a fire demon named Calcifer, befriends Howl’s fifteen-year-old apprentice Michael, and stands up to the notorious wizard himself! So many questions pop up that you want answered, and these keep you on the edge of your seat turning page after page, just dying to find out what happens next.

    First of all, if you are a Miyazaki fan and are thinking about reading this book, keep this in mind: someone wrote a Book-a-Minute version of the story, Miyazaki read it, and changed it in his own way. Alright, so maybe that’s not what really happened, but it sure feels like it; the only thing that is the same between the book and the movie are Sophie’s and Howl’s names (and even “Howell” was not mentioned in the movie), and Sophie’s curse. That’s about it, just keep the movie and book separate. As for my thoughts on the book itself? Read below.

    Pros: Everything about it! The characters were amazingly real, including their many flaws; the plot is breath-taking; and the integration with John Donne’s “Song”? Definitely a work of a genius! It takes the poem to new heights and new meanings.

    Cons: Sometimes the writing seemed too elementary for me, but perhaps it was because I had just finished Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl right before starting this one. Also, I feel like the book wrapped up a bit too fast—so fast, in fact, that the romance (hint hint) didn’t realistically develop (and yes, I know it is in the fantasy genre, but social and behavioral situations can still be realistic!).

    Red Flags: Ehh…none that I really remember, though it’s been awhile. It seems that this book is all clear with Common Sense Media as well. :)


    Plot: 10/10

    Characters: 9.5/10

    Writing: 8/10

    Originality: 10/10

    Enjoyment: 10/10

    Overall: 47.5/10


    Genre: Fantasy, Juvenile Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

    Original Release Date:

    Also Recommended:

    • The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley
    • The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
    • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

    Check It Out!

    I have just recently found out that Diana Wynne Jones is currently suffering from cancer. Please pray for her, or if you are not religious, please keep her in your thoughts. Thank you.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010



    I’m all like, “My WIP is a novel of social criticism.”

    Other times, I’m like, “My novel is pure FLUFF.”

    That is all.  For now.*
    (And OMG, I have a first follower! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Andye of Reading Teen! :D )

    *The inspiration for this post randomly came during #yalitchat. In case you wanted to know. ;P

    Oh, and I feel really awkward saying "like" so many times in such a short post. :P

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    *Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

    Where I Got the Book From: Bought the hardcover version (seen left) from Barnes and Noble.

    Ever since I was able to read (when I was about four years old, I believe), I always found something admirable about authors. Perhaps it was just so magical the way they picked out words, stuck them here and there, sewed them together, and, voilà! had their stories collected in nicely-bound books. It was as if they were a sort of literary witches and wizards. But now, they also strike me as chefs; some give you a tasty but calorie-packed hamburger with deep-fried French fries that fill you up but make you want something more (your everyday fluff fiction—which I’ve read none of), others cook up a plate filled with a perfect piece of filet mignon along a delectable side dish of vegetables (beautiful classics, e.g. Pride and Prejudice), and a few serve way a Thanksgiving dinner-type meal with too much to take in but are very good otherwise, like a Thanksgiving dinner (War and Peace, A Tale of Two Cities—not that I’ve actually read or finished either). If this was so—if those cheesy YA lit authors flipped burgers at McDonald’s and Jane Austen was the Julia Child of this world—then Shannon Hale would most likely be a sous-chef of the latter. Or perhaps I’ve just been watching a tad bit too much Food Network and cooking-related shows.

    Everyone gets grounded by their parents for misbehaving once in awhile; sometimes a ten-year-old can’t watch his or her favorite TV show for a week, or a teen is forbidden from calling their friends every night for a month. What would you do if you had the option to stay with a friend who was to be grounded for seven years in a tower, and if you didn’t step up to stay with her, no one would? This is exactly the question that Dashti, a young mucker living in medieval Mongolian times, faces when given the chance to become the maidservant of Lady Saren, who is given this sentence for refusing to marry a man she has feared ever since she was a young girl. If Dashti said no, this story would be nonexistent; but she said yes, and thus, an adventure began. I really can’t say more than that, or I’ll give it away, but if you read the “recipe” above, that is exactly what this three hundred-odd paged book contains: an intriguing plot, marvelous lyrical writing, characters you feel like you’ve known all your life, and fantastic adventure fantasy with the right amount of romance that will keep female readers young and old swooning (here’s a secret: I totally LOVED the romance and swooned for days on end :D ).

    I’ll be honest. I love fairy tales, especially Brothers Grimm ones. But never in my life had I heard of “Maid Maleen”, not until I heard about this novel. So after reading the synopsis of it on Wikipedia, you’d think Hale’s version of it would be exactly the same, just written and lengthened in typical Hale flair. In reality, it’s almost as if the author combined “Maid Maleen” with a trillion other classics: Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Jane Eyreto name a few; in addition, there is a scene towards the end that is easily comparable in artistry and intelligence to the famous pivotal trial in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Even if you don’t know me very well, you would—and should—be aware of my secret and unbearable obsession with this book, which I recommend to even the most reluctant readers. But allow me to put it this way: if you hate plots that are absolutely stunning, if you hate fantasy with a classic feel to it, if you hate heroines who have a little naïve goody two-shoes side to them, then you won’t like this book. But really, who doesn’t want at least one of those things?

    Pros: Pretty much everything and anything about it, but see below for the one thing I didn’t like.

    Cons: As much as I rave about this book, I may honestly say that there was one part near the ending that turned the story into complete YA (which is a little shocking, being that this is a Hale novel) and almost adult; it was a somewhat edgy scene (I don’t know if that’s the right word), and it totally came as a surprise for me. I wasn’t fond of it, and I think it could have been done without and changed.

    Red Flags: As stated in the “cons” section, there is a tad bit of weird stuff that those desensitized to edgy stuff will totally ignore and those not desensitized (like me) won’t.


    Plot: 10/10

    Characters: 10/10

    Writing: 10/10

    Originality: 10/10

    Enjoyment: 10/10

    Overall: 50/50


    Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

    Original Release Date: September 30, 2007

    Also Recommended:
    · The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
    · Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
    · Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    Check It Out!