Shipping Sunday #2

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hosted by Space Between the Spines

So, there's probably some sort of meme about this somewhere, but I haven't seen any so I decided to make my very own. In this meme, you talk about your favorite coupling in a book, or pit two "teams" against each other. We all have those "Team" stickers on our blogs, so why not devote a post or two to defending them? If you like this idea, feel free to do your own posts, just make sure to keep my link. Feel free to share your posts with me as well! I'd love to get to know all my blogger friends and followers a little better. =)
I figured we'd get back to the basics this week and pit the two boys from The Hunger Games against one another: Gale and Peeta!
First of all, I admit - Yes, they're both awesome eye candy. But, ultimately, that's not what this meme is all about. So, let's move along. But feel free to take a glance every now and then while reading my post. =P

Team Gale? I can understand why there are Gale Shippers out there. Gale was always Katniss's best friend. The fact that both their fathers died in the same mining accident really helped to solidify their friendship and they were able to connect with one another, seeing as they were really the primary providers for both their families. And, to be fair, I don't really think that Gale is all that bad a guy. He was caring enough and the fact that he was willing to sacrifice so much for his family says quite a bit about his character. But, in my opinion, he really has nothing on "the boy with the bread." The fact that he didn't even reveal to Katniss that he liked her until AFTER the first Hunger Games (after Peeta stated he liked her) really left a bad taste in my mouth. Like he was trying to win her back, after she'd become so popular and sought after.

Team Peeta? As you can see from my sidebar, I'm a big Peeta fan. I found the fact that he secretly pined for Katniss as a child incredibly cute, particularly the incident where he was beaten by his mother in order to give Katniss a loaf of bread to eat when they were younger. My love for Peeta only grew when the 74th annual Hunger Games started. While I was initially suspicious of his actions - associating with the top players and the like - he really proved where his loyalties lied. He proved over and over again throughout the series how much he cared for Katniss. I mean, who didn't full-on swoon when he volunteered as tribute in the 75th Hunger Games? While I still don't think Katniss ever truly deserved Peeta and his devotion, I still think he's the ultimate book boyfriend.

My final verdict? 

So what do you think? Are you Peeta or Team Gale? Feel free to tell me in the comments! I'd also like to know if this is a meme that you'd enjoy seeing more of in the future.

Review - The Death Cure by James Dashner

 The Death Cure
By: James Dashner
Release Date: October 11, 2011
 Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.

Wow. I’m hesitant to even review this book, considering it’ll be very difficult to do so without revealing too many spoilers. Particularly since many of the issues I had with the book revolve around these “spoilers.” But I will try. Forgive me if the review completely sucks. >.<

The Death Cure is the final installment of James Dashner’s Besting-Selling Maze Runner series. It starts out with Thomas at the WICKED headquarters where they were brought after finishing the Scorch Trials in the second book. Early on the in book, perhaps within the first forty pages, all the participants in the trials were given the opportunity to get their memories back, or to have “The Swipe” removed. For a reader like me, who had grown very frustrated over the course of the series by knowing next to nothing about Thomas or his history, I was pretty excited! We’d finally get to see what he had done in the past – why he’d believed that WICKED was so good in the first place! But does he get the procedure done? Nope. He, Minho, and Newt all decided that they didn’t want their memories back, both because they didn’t want WICKED messing with their heads anymore (which is understandable, I guess) and because they just don’t WANT to know what they chose in their past. 

This was really where my first issue with the book started. I have a healthy respect for books in which you read and discover the plot from the main character’s point of view. You get to experience the mystery and suspense of discovering the twists and turns of the plot, as well as the bonus of really getting to know the main character. (The Vault of Dreamers – which I reviewed a couple months ago – is a fantastic example of this scheme) But there comes a time when the author finally has to deliver on their promise; you have to bring the plot full-circle and let the reader in on everything if you really want to impress your reader. And I didn’t feel like we really got this from Dashner. We understood the gist – that Thomas had willingly cooperated with WICKED and that he, at one point, thought they were doing the right thing – but WHY did he think that? What happened in his past that led him to believe that such a sacrifice of human life was acceptable? I almost feel like Dashner himself didn’t know and so he just left his readers hanging. So that was where the frustration with the book began.

After that disappointment, we finally have Thomas, Minho, Newt, Brenda, and Jorge escape the WICKED headquarters. They had initially been separated from the rest of the group, seeing as they didn’t want to have their memories returned, and when they escaped, it was without knowing that Teresa had led an escape with the others as well. Eventually, they make it to one of the last thriving communities, Denver, where they hope to meet up with the other group and find out what to do from there. In a series of connected events, they meet the “Right Arm” and – together – they plot how they can finally take down WICKED for good. And I’ll keep it at that to keep from revealing too much. 

Another one of the issues I found with this book is that it was considerably slower than the previous two books in the series. In the last two, we had something strange and/or exciting happening every chapter. I’d stay up late telling myself, "just one more chapter." But that really wasn’t the case for this one. It took me a good four days to read it, which is pretty long considering it was a shorter book. I just didn’t feel as compelled to pick it up. Eventually, though, after about a third of the story, it did start to pick up, only to bring in other frustrating issues. 

The first is the insanely unnecessary love triangle that developed when Brenda got thrown into the series in the second book. I think that with Thomas and Teresa’s long and interconnected past, they could’ve made a very interesting couple. The fact that their memories were wiped would have given the readers an interesting opportunity to see the couple work through serious and touchy issues. But nope. Dashner just threw in another girl and made Teresa out to be the bad guy that just couldn’t be redeemed, no matter how much she tried. Add to that the fact that TWO main characters die in this book. Two of my favorite, just to make it worse. And what really irritates me is that I felt at least one of them was entirely unnecessary and did nothing to further the plot of the book. And the other one? Well, it just hurt to read about. Just plain hurt. 

That said, I still really enjoyed the crazy ride that was The Maze Runner series. I definitely liked the first two installments better, but when given such a bleak setting for the story, it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate ending than what we got. (You know, besides the two useless deaths. >.>) Despite my irritation with not knowing Thomas’s past, I did really enjoyed getting to know him and his innermost thoughts throughout the series and he really turned into a hero to root for. More so that than, though, I really admire the three characters that died to help make Thomas the amazing character that he was. RIP Chuck, _______, and _______. You’ll have to read to find out the other two! 

So, if you’re looking for an intense, sometimes dark and definitely confusing read be sure to pick up the Maze Runner series. Just expect to be more than a little frustrated with the final book!As for me, I'm going to be up the prequel book, The Kill Order, in hopes that I finally get some answers about Thomas and Teresa's past!

Top Ten - Books on My Fall TBR List

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List

Here's another edition of The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday, in which I talk about what books are highest on my list of books to be read in the fall. While some of these books might not have released this fall, they still made it on the list, because I've been bad and avoided reading them for some reason of another. >.>;; Also, they're in no particular order!

Anywho, here we are!

Number 10: Becoming Bea by Leslie Gould

After just finishing Minding Molly, you can see my review directly below this post, I'm very eager to continue the series and read about Molly's secretive little sister, Beatrice, particularly since she's had such a love/hate relationship with the male MC. I was actually approved for an ARC through Netgalley, so I'll start this one after my current read! 

Number 9: Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry

Wow, just look at that cover! I squeed when it was revealed last Thursday. Anyway, this is the conclusion of Noah and Echo's story from the first book, Pushing the Limits. And while Noah and Echo aren't my favorite couple, I'm definitely curious to see what McGarry adds to their relationship. And who knows? Maybe I'll like them even better after the read. Plus, it releases on my birthday! =D

Number 8: Doll-baby by Laura Lane McNeal

I have a particular love for southern fiction novels, particularly if they relate to the civil rights era. Books like The Help and The Secret Life of Bees are some of my favorites and when I saw this book, I knew I needed to add it to my TBR shelf. It's southern, it's a coming of age novel, and it's set in an emotionally turmoil past - what's not to love? 

  Number 7: Embers by Karen Ann Hopkins

I did a cover reveal for this book a couple of weeks back and I'm really eager to get my hands on a copy. I loved Hopkins' Temptation series and while this is definitely different from what she's written in the past, I'm eager to see how it pans out. After all, I'm a sucker for a good angel book. 

Number 6: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

Gosh, I've been meaning to get to this book for ages and I have yet to have time to pick it up. I admit, the length is a little daunting (though, that's never stopped me before). I guess I keep meaning to pick it up, then tell myself, "Oh, but I've been meaning to read this book, too, and it's shorter. I'll get to Gone Girl next." And it has yet to happen. =/ I really need to read it before the movie comes out though! I need to see what all the fuss is about!

 Number 5: The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

Ah, Magnus, Magnus, Magnus... Who didn't love this eclectic warlock? He's one of my all-time favorites characters in Cassandra Clare's books and I can't wait to get my hands on the bound, hardcover copy of all the novellas. Since we don't know much about Magnus's past, it'll be interesting to learn more about him through all these little tales. I'm also hoping for a few "Malec" scenes in there, too. ;)  

Number 4: The Blazing Star by Erin Hunter 

 This list wouldn't be complete without the upcoming Warriors release on it! We're right smack-dab in the middle of the prequel series and things are really starting to heat up! I can't wait to see how our rivaling clans resolve their differences, as well as poor Thunder's decision concerning his father and uncle. Hurry up, December!

 Number 3: Battle Angel by Scott Speer

This came out a few weeks ago, and I finally got my copy in the mail earlier this the week! I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed this book was a direct to paperback release. Sure, it cost less, but my two previous books in the series are hardbacks. It... just annoys me. Anyway, I hope to pick this one up very soon, as it promises to be a pretty quick read. But I have to get a few reviews done before I move to this one. Hang in there Maddie and Jacks!
Number 2: House of Hades by Rick Riordan

I know that if anyone has a Rick Riordan book on their list, it'll probably be Blood of Olympus, this conclusion to the series. But I have yet to read HoH, though I got it on release day last year, when Rick came to my town to talk. Again, I've been meaning to pick it up but between school and work, there's hardly any time. By now, though, it would probably be easier to just read them back to back next month. Oh, well!
Number 1: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

If any of you have read some of my previous posts, you know that I've been meaning to read this book for an age. I liked Throne of Glass well enough, but I wasn't fangirling over it like everyone else. Everyone keeps telling me the story gets much more exciting in this one, so I'm hoping to pick it up soon and delve in. Hopefully you guys are right!

And that's my list! What did you guys think? Did you have any of the same books on your own list? Did you have different ones that you'd like to share? Feel free to comment and let me know what you think! I love adding new books to my TBR, though it's insane in size as it is, haha!

Review - Minding Molly by Leslie Gould

Monday, September 22, 2014

Minding Molly
By Leslie Gould
Release Date: February 1st, 2014
Genre: Christian/Amish Fiction
Source: Purchased

If you know me pretty well on Goodreads, or have followed my blog for any period of time, you can probably guess I have a weird fascination with Amish fiction. And in addition, I love retellings of all types whether they’re fairy tales or classics or what have you. So, when I came across the Courtships of Lancaster County series by Leslie Gould – which combined both these favorite genres – I knew I had a recipe for the perfect series. 

The Courtships of Lancaster County series is a retelling of different Shakespeare’s plays. The first book, Courting Cate, is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, one of Shakespeare’s few comedies. The second installment of the series, Adoring Addie, is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Finally, the third book – which I will review here – is based off of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. It really is a shame that I can’t get the full enjoyment out of the retelling. I’ve only read a handful of Shakespeare’s plays (Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and Macbeth), so the only one I’ve really been able to adequately compare to the source material is Adoring Addie. However, I know the gist of many of the plays – even if I had to do a little research before writing the review. Haha!

Minding Molly centers around the ever vivacious Molly Zook, who we’ve seen before here and there in the previous two books. After her father dies in an unfortunate accident, Molly, her mother and her sister, Beatrice, are having a hard time paying the bills for their home. So far, their thriving landscaping business, where Molly grows flowers, shrubs, trees and herbs, has kept their heads above water, but the family knows it’s only a matter of time before things take a financial downturn. Their mother thinks she has the best solution for both Molly and their family: have Molly marry the next door neighbor’s boy – Mervin Mosier – and combine their two farms together. Molly, who has no interest in marrying Mervin – and is quickly falling for a handsome man, Leon, down the street – is left with quite the dilemma. Not wanting to disobey her mother or hurt Mervin’s feelings, she helps set up a camping trip, where all her friends are invited. Hannah – who’s pined for Mervin for years – Mervin, his twin brother Martin, her sister, Leon and plenty of others. It’s up to Molly to win Leon’s heart, while also trying to set Hannah and Mervin up together. And, in between all the relationship drama, she has to find a way to save her family home. 

What I’ve really come to like about Gould’s work is that her retellings are definitely well thought out. They aren’t some loosely based plot idea, but specific characters actually relate to specific characters that Shakespeare created. For example, Molly represent Hermia who is in love with Leon (Lysander) but is told that she needs to marry Mervin (Demetrius). Meanwhile, Hannah (Helena) is secretly in love with Mervin (Demetrius). It’s just so perfectly plotted together, especially considering that many of these characters are recurring, meaning we’ve seen and met them in the previous two books. To have all these characters so intricately weaved together demonstrates that Gould really plotted her series carefully before even writing the first book. I love when authors put in so much effort. To top it all off, much of the book takes place during the camping trip, out in the middle of nowhere in the woods, much like how the classic is told from a magical forest. 

That said, this book isn’t without its flaws. Due to the setting in the story, we get plenty of chapters that are relatively slow, many of which dealing with detailing the forest and camping trip itself. There were only so many hikes I could read through before I started skimming to get to the next serious part. As far as the characters, I really like the distinct personality that Gould has given to all her characters. When it comes to Amish fiction, it’s easy – simply by the nature of the Amish – to have characters that demonstrate the same qualities, beliefs, and values. Gould manages to keep her characters true to their faith without giving us that same, dried up and over-used Amish girl and guy.

Of course, the major set-back with this book – and the main reason I gave it four stars – is the insane insta-love that occurred between Molly and Leon. Yes, I get that it’s a retelling and, yes, I get that part of the Amish customs have a play in it, but really? You know the guy TWO DAYS and you’re already confessing your love to him? I’d be more apt to marry Mervin, whom I’ve known for years, rather than some good looking stranger I know next to nothing about. But that’s just being suspicious, sensible me. But of course, Leon ended up being a great guy and all. I just couldn’t excuse the book that ridiculous intsa-love, though. Thus, the four stars. Overall, though, it’s a fantastic retelling of an awesome classic that I REALLY need to make time to read. And as far as Amish books go, it’s definitely up there. Check it out if you haven’t already and, if you’re new the Amish fiction genre, considering picking up the first book, Courting Cate. (As of now, it's a KINDLE FREEBIE!) It’s great as well!