ARC Book Review: Trial By Fire

Trial By Fire CoverBook: Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini

Expected Publication is September 2, 2014 by Feiwel & Friends|Expected Number Of Pages: 270

Where I Got It: I got e-ARC from netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy #1

Genre: YA Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Alternate Universe

You can find Trial By Fire on goodreads & Josephine Angelini on Twitter, Facebook, & her website

Goodreads Summary: 

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian…Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

In Josephine Angelini’s Trial by Fire, what makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

What I Thought:

I have so many thoughts about Trial On Fire!  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it’s definitely interesting!

I wasn’t sure what to think at first, with Lily and all of her allergies I wasn’t sure where it was going, and when she went to alternate Salem, I really wasn’t sure what to expect!  It was hard to get into, because you’re thrown into a different Salem where science is outlawed, and magic rules.  For some reason, I wasn’t expecting it to go where it did.

Still, I liked the idea of alternate worlds and how what you do in one can have consequences for the other worlds.  I liked seeing Lily learn magic and trying to figure out this different Salem she found herself in.

For me, there was something really weird about this world- people seem scared of Lilian, and I really wish we got more of her, as she’s a big part of why Lily ended up in alternate Salem, and why people don’t seem to trust Lily.  There’s just so much going on that nothing really gets explored really well, and this alternate world didn’t seem as vivid as it could have because of that.  And yet, because of everything going on, I could tell that there was so much more to this world.  And it makes me wish we got so much more of Lilian, who was pretty non-existent for someone who’s the villain- and also the villain who brought Lily into this world.

I will say the ending was a bit abrupt- and also a cliffhanger!  I actually don’t mind the cliffhanger, but for those who aren’t fans of cliffhangers, keep that in mind when reading Trial by Fire.  I just wish it didn’t end so abruptly!  Because when I got to the end, I wanted a little more, because I felt like it ended on too much of a random note.

Let’s Rate It:

I couldn’t completely get into Trial By Fire  because I felt a little overwhelmed by everything going on.  Still, I liked the different elements, because there is something very vivid and different about this world.  I do like it enough to read the 2nd book, though.  Trial By Fire gets 3 stars.

ARC Book Review: Mary: The Summoning

Mary The Summoning CoverBook: Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan

Expected Publication is September 2, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion|Expected Number Of Pages: 256

Where I Got It: I received the e-book review copy from netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: Jess Tennant #1

Genre: YA Horror/Paranormal Ghost Story

You can find The Summoning on goodreads & Hillary Monahan on Twitter, Facebook and her website

Goodreads Summary: 

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her. 

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go. 

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror. 

Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?

What I Thought:

I haven’t been super-impressed with the few paranormal books dealing with ghosts out there, but I did like Mary: The Summoning!

I actually love that it’s based on summoning Bloody Mary Worth (not to be confused with Queen Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII) and I am curious about Bloody Mary as inspiration for the book.

There are definitely some creepy moments throughout the book, and I really liked what actually summoning Mary meant for anyone who did manage to “successfully” summon her.  It was definitely different.  What was also interesting was the interest Jess had in summoning Mary, especially when you learn more about Mary.  However, the random tidbits Jess dropped throughout the book did get annoying and frustrating, because she definitely knew more than she was letting on, and it was very much like she didn’t want anyone to know her real interest in Mary.  And it also very much felt like they were going to know what she wanted them to know.

I did like the relationship between the girls, which is what is standing out as far as the characters go.  I did feel like they didn’t particularly stand out as individual people. and I found like it was a little bit hard to care about them.  I did find that I found some of the things that Jess did to be completely horrible, and she seemed like a horrible friend- to the point where I was wondering why the girls were friends with her in the first place.

Jess is a big reason why I didn’t love Mary, and as someone who just knows that saying Bloody Mary 3 times in front of a mirror is supposed to summon her…I liked what Monahan did with the story, and how it connected with the present, and even the letters that we have from Mary, but part of me wishes Monahan had gone more into Mary’s story.  But this is also the first book in the series, so it would make sense that we don’t get the whole story just yet.

Let’s Rate It:

I liked Mary: The Summoning, but I found that my feelings toward Jess resulted in me not liking the book as much as I would have liked.  Mary: The Summoning gets 3 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want To Read That I Don’t Own

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books I Want To Read That I Don’t Own

So, I thought this list would be really hard, as I tend to buy books, and not read them.  But as I have a tendency to keep adding books to my TBR-pile, I actually found that this was easier than I expected!  It’s mostly non-fiction, because I’m more likely to buy non-fiction in print, and yet I’m also more hesitant to buy non-fiction.  Still, these are books I really want to own someday!

  1. Dear Mr. Potter.  A printing was done ages ago, and it looks like another one isn’t going to be done anytime soon, so it actually looks like I missed the boat on this one.  Which bums me out, because I’d love a copy of this book.
  2. Fruits Basket…like, volumes 16 to whatever the last one is (I think it’s 22 or 23 but I can’t remember).  I’ve been so slow with finishing this manga.  I put reading it on hold for some reason I can’t remember, and now it’s out of print.  I think I’ve seen used copies on Amazon before, so I may have to check that out.
  3. Winter by Marissa Meyer.  As it hasn’t come out yet…but I really want to read it!
  4. The Art Of Spirited Away.  I love Spirited Away, and it would be so cool to have this book to look through.
  5. I also want to have a Harry Potter collection!  I have the books in print, but I really want the audio books- both the Stephen Fry narration and the Jim Dale narration.  And there are so many interesting covers of the books out there (like, the Dutch covers are pretty cool, and the Swedish covers are really odd, but entertaining enough to be on a bookshelf).  I don’t even care that I’m sadly not fluent in any other languages, because I am that obsessed with Harry Potter.
  6. Brian Froud’s World Of Faerie.  I LOVE fairies, and while I’d love to have all of Froud’s books, this is the one that is at the top of the list.
  7. The Art Of The Disney Princess.  Apparently, artsy coffee-table books are on my mind today, because I’m just interested enough in Disney Princesses to want this book.
  8. House Of Leaves by Mark Danielewski.  This book sounds completely bizarre and I am utterly confused as to why I don’t have it yet…because I am a fan of weird things.  (Just don’t let my love of YA fool you!)
  9. Unsouled by Neal Shusterman.  I’ve been wanting to read it for a while and yet I never seem to get to it…it’s such a different world that I really can’t wait to see where things go.
  10. School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins.  I really liked Hex Hall, so I don’t get why I don’t have this one yet…especially since this is a spin-off of Hex Hall.

Book Talk: If I Stay, The Movie

Book Talk

Book Talk is a new feature where I talk about book-ish things that aren’t book reviews!

Today’s discussion is about If I Stay, which I saw yesterday in theaters yesterday.

Here’s the non-spoilery part of my review: I think fans of the book will like If I Stay.  For those who haven’t read If I Stay- you will like this movie if you like books/movies  that deal with similar topics…but if that’s not your thing, you may or may not like this movie, so maybe read some reviews of the movie before making up your mind.

Now, onto the part where I spoil the movie- so if you don’t want movie spoilers, stop here! (Or skip down to where I talk about the soundtrack- there’s a note there saying that spoilers are done).

So, I liked If I Stay a lot!  It’s weird, because I thought it was a great adaptation, but as a movie…not so much.  I mean, I still liked it, but it’s one of those books that seems hard to translate to the big screen.  With all of the flashbacks, and the amount of time you spend in Mia’s head…I wasn’t sure how well it would work in a movie, which is so very visual.

There was a lot of voice-over narration by Mia, which wasn’t annoying.  At least to me, but other people may be annoyed with it. And, as you’d expect, there are changes made to the movie.  Like, the name of Adam’s band is Willamette Stone, and not Shooting Star, like it is in the book.  And the distraction used to get Adam into the ICU is different- those are the only two major changes, but there are a few minor ones throughout the movie.  And of course, not all of Mia’s flashbacks made it into the movie.  Which I didn’t mind, because that would be a lot of flashbacks.  And I get why quite a few of them are so focused on Adam and her relationship with them, but I do wish that some of the flashbacks were more focused on her family.

Still, I get the idea of focusing on why she should stay, even when she has so many reasons to go.  And the flashbacks really stood out, because you really do see how much her life is going to change if she stays, and what she’s no longer going to have if she stays.

And the music!  The music was awesome, and I loved that we got to see Willamette Stone play!  And I loved that we saw Mia play the cello- which actually makes me curious those scenes.  Like, did they get shots of Chloe Grace Moretz holding the cello, and then have someone actually play the cello, and then do whatever it is they needed to do to make it look like Moretz was playing the cello?  Because I kind of feel like that’s what was done…although, if she really could play the cello like that, I’d be really impressed (but I also think we would have heard about that).  Still, whoever is playing the cello did a great job.

Overall, I felt like the movie stayed pretty true to the heart of the book, and one thing that really surprised me was the ending of the movie.  So, the movie ends with Mia waking up, and choosing to stay- just like it happened in the book.  I really was expecting there to be another scene after that, but I was also glad that the movie ended the way it did in the book, because anything else would have felt so inauthentic.

I will say that lead to one of my favorite moments, because the screen goes white as she’s deciding, and everyone was waiting to see what would happen, and then she woke up, and then the screen went to black, and everyone was just kind of sitting there…and when the credits started rolling, you could hear someone say “No!”  And then we all laughed…and the mood definitely shifted after that, because you could hear all kinds of sniffling going on in the movie, so it was good to have that moment.  Which isn’t all the surprising, really.  Oh! There were quite a few funny moments throughout the movie, which was actually really nice, because it balanced the overall seriousness really well.

Now that I’m done talking about the movie…I thought I’d talk about the soundtrack to the movie, because with a movie-centric movie, I can’t leave it out!  

The soundtrack is great, I wholeheartedly recommend the soundtrack.  Movie soundtracks aren’t something I’m typically drawn to, but I knew I had to check out this soundtrack in particular, because I knew the songs would be awesome, and I’m glad I wasn’t wrong.  You can’t go wrong with any of them, and the ones by Willamette Stone (Adam’s band) are particularly great. But I thought I’d share a few of the songs that really stood out to me as great choices.

1- Promises by Ben Howard.  This song gets me so emotional every time I listen to it, and it’s such a good choice for the soundtrack.

2- Halo by Ane Brun and Linnea Olsson.  It’s a great cover of Halo- and at first, I didn’t even realize that it was Halo, but I couldn’t figure out why it seemed so familiar.  I also love that it’s accoustic, because it fits Mia and her cello so well.

3- Heal by Tom Odell.  It’s such a beautiful song, and it’s perfect for both book and movie.

Hope everyone has a happy week!

ARC Book Review: How To Fall

How To Fall CoverBook: How To Fall: A Novel by Jane Casey

Expected Publication is August 26, 2014 by St. Martin’s Press|Expected Number Of Pages: 225

Where I Got It: From netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: Jess Tennant #1

Genre: YA Mystery

You can find How To Fall on goodreads & Jane Casey on Twitter & her website

Goodreads Summary: 

Sixteen-year-old Jess Tennant has never met any of her relatives, until her mother suddenly takes her to spend the summer in the tiny English town where she grew up. Her mom’s decision is surprising, but even more surprising is the town’s reaction to Jess. Everywhere she goes, people look at her like they’ve seen a ghost. In a way, they have—she looks just like her cousin Freya, who died shortly before Jess came to town.

Jess immediately feels a strange connection to Freya, whom she never got to meet alive. But the more she learns about Freya’s life, the more suspicious the circumstances of her death start to look. One thing is for sure: this will be anything but the safe, boring summer in the country Jess was expecting.

Beloved author Jane Casey breaks new ground with How to Fall, a cleverly plotted and remarkably written young adult mystery.

What I Thought:

I liked How To Fall!  I wasn’t sure what to expect with How To Fall, but…I didn’t like it as much as I was hoping but I also liked it more than I was expecting.  I know that sounds weird, but it really describes how I feel about How To Fall.

How To Fall is definitely a mystery, as Jess tries to figure out what happened to her cousin Freya after Freya’s very mysterious death.  What really happened was not what I expected AT ALL, and given everyone has a different idea of what happened to Freya and what was going through her mind when she died and what could have resulted in her death.  It just goes to show that some people are just so terribly cruel, and I hate that people are like that.

I like that Jess and her mom go back to where her mom grew up, and that Jess gets to see that part of her mom’s life.  I know the story is more about Jess trying to figure out what happened to her cousin, but there’s still part of me that wishes we knew more about why her mom didn’t talk to anyone in her family until recently, and what got her mom to change her mind.  And part of me still feels like there’s more to the story.

Speaking of Jess and her mom…I felt like Dan, who her mom was interested in as a teenager and reconnects with was really odd, and for a while, I thought maybe he was the one behind Freya’s mysterious death.  I feel like he’s up to something and while I don’t know why I feel this way about him, I just get this vibe that Jess and her mom need to stay far, far away from him.

I don’t really have strong feelings about the characters either way, and I thought Jess’ fixation on Freya’s death to be a little weird, considering she didn’t know Freya at all.  I wish we got to know Freya a little bit better, but I also understand why we don’t.  We do learn a little bit about Freya throughout the book, but it was still hard for me to get into the mystery of her death…especially when we learn what really happened the night she died.

Still, I liked Jess, who’s pretty sarcastic.  I’m definitely interested in reading more of her story, and I’m glad there’s another book in this series, because her story is far from over.  I’m also really curious about what other mysteries she comes across and solves, because Port Sentinel seems like a place full of secrets!

Let’s Rate It:

I liked How To Fall, and while there are some things I’m curious about because they seem a little strange to me, I’m still interested enough to keep reading this series.  How To Fall gets 3 stars.

Book Talk: The Giver Totally Surprised Me, But In A Good Way

Book Talk

Book Talk is a new feature here at Reading Books With Coffee, where I talk about bookish topics that aren’t book reviews!

Today…I am talking about The Giver as a movie!  Before I get started on what I thought of the movie, I thought I’d explain a little about my thoughts on movie adaptations of books.

I’m definitely in the minority, because I’m big on movie first, book second.  I hate going in with every last detail hanging over my head, and the last thing I want to do is go into expectations of how the movie should be.  I’m pretty relaxed about changes made, because it’s something I have no control over, so why spend the movie talking about how this is different and that thing is all wrong, and why on earth would they do THAT?!?!?!  (However, that’s my preference, and everybody should go into a movie adaptation however they want).

And now, there are going to be spoilers for both book and movie (but mostly the movie), so if you don’t want spoilers, this will be where you’ll want to stop reading.

When I first heard The Giver was being made into a movie, I was surprised, curious, happy and nervous.  I loved the book as a kid, and it held up pretty well when I re-read it as an adult a couple of years ago (see my review here).

There are definitely changes- the two biggest being the characters are several years older in the movie than they are in the book, and Fiona and Asher, who are BFF’s with Jonas, have different jobs.

Let’s start with the characters being a few years older- this really worked for me, because it made the story much more believable.  Being the one person who has ALL the memories is not an easy job, and it’s one that has to take its toll.  After re-reading the book this week- after seeing the movie, of course- it’s actually hard to believe that an 11-year-old would be able to handle the things that Jonas has to deal with.  And it’s no wonder that the previous Receiver-In-Training asked to be released. I felt like everything explored in the book was explored differently (in a good way) because the characters were older.  Like Jonas and Fiona- there are hints of romance there (which I did see in the book) but feelings of romantic love were better suited with 16-year-olds.  And I felt like everything Jonas learns about his community and his reaction towards what they did, and what things used to be like were there but much more subtle than they were in the book.

It’s not as jarring as it was in the book, and a lot of that has to do with Jonas being older.  Older, movie Jonas experiences things very differently than younger, book Jonas, and I found that the story works really well no matter how old the character is.

As for Fiona and Asher having different jobs- it works, given how everything unfolds, especially in Asher’s case.  Speaking of Asher and Fiona, I liked that Fiona had a bigger in the movie than she did in the book, and that you do see how her relationship with Jonas changes over the course of the book.  She did seem open to what he had to say, and that she was willing to help him, even if it meant she would get into massive trouble. We’re talking Release to Elsewhere trouble.  Asher, on the other hand…I just didn’t love movie Asher at all. It was like he had some issues with Jonas, and I couldn’t help but wonder what his deal was.  However, Jonas does change, because he knows of things like love and war.  I wonder if Asher didn’t like the changes he saw in Jonas, and was acting differently because he felt like he was losing Jonas.

I LOVED that part of the movie is in black-and-white, and that you get random splashes of color throughout the beginning part of the movie…and that it’s black-and-white until Jonas starts receiving memories from Giver.  Going from black-and-white to color really added to what was going on, and it highlights what this society is missing out on when they erased memories.  It adds to the feeling that this society is not as perfect as it seems.

I actually loved seeing Jonas react to the different memories he received, and what he experiences really changes his relationships with people- particularly his friends and family.  I loved the scene where he showed Fiona what sledding was like, and I love that we get those moments.

His parents were colder than I remembered, and I wished that we had that one scene in the book, where it’s dinner and his sister and parents are sharing their feelings, and Jonas knows that they aren’t experiencing true emotion.  That scene in particular stands out as one that highlights how isolated Jonas is becoming as the Receiver, and how isolating of a job it is. We sort of get that throughout the movie, particularly with the Giver living so far apart from the community.  And I think Jonas’ changing relationship with Asher shows that as well.  It did seem to be very subtle, and shows up in other ways, but part of me still wishes that we had more of that.

The only other thing I didn’t like was that Rosemary wasn’t a big part of the movie.  You get the basics of her story, but our real introduction to her came at a weird time, and I felt like her story really influenced the selection of future Receivers.  It’s a shame that you don’t really see how much has changed in the last 10 years as far as what it means to be a Receiver, and why certain rules were in place.  Especially since Taylor Swift seemed like an AWESOME Rosemary.

Actually, I thought the movie was cast really well!  Jeff Bridges really stood out as the Giver, and I can’t imagine anyone else in that role- and I can honestly say that about ALL of the actors cast.  Meryl Streep was awesome, and Odeya Rush, who plays Fiona, and Brenton Thwaites, who plays Jonas were also great choices. There was something so sweet about Odeya as Fiona, and I felt like Brenton brought a sense of joy and wonder to receiving the memories.

Oh, the memories!  One of my favorite scenes of the entire movie was when you saw the memories come back to this community.  You don’t get it in the book, where I had never thought about what happened to them when they had to deal with the memories.  But I LOVE that they included it in the movie.

And one other interesting thing is this scene between Giver and the Chief Elder, where Giver is telling the Chief Elder that he knows she feel’s Rosemary’s loss.  Which I thought hinted that there was something between Giver and Chief Elder.  It didn’t go any further than that, but it was interesting because it added something to their backstory.

Overall, I thought it was a great adaptation, especially given that I only had a couple of issues with the movie.  It has everything awesome about the book, and it felt like it was made with a lot of care to the original story.  It really is The Giver brought to life, and that was the one thing I kept thinking during the movie.

I’ve only seen one review of the movie, which I like (and agree with very much).

And, of course, the two official trailers, below.  Enjoy!

Trailer #1 (All in color):

Trailer #2 (With the black-and-white scenes):

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books People Tell Me I MUST Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books People Tell Me I MUST Read

If some of the books on this list seem familiar, it’s because some of them may have made my TTT for last week…as hesitant as I may be to read certain books.  Actually, consider this the list of books I need to read so I know what people are talking about, because that describes most of the books on my list this week.

  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  As hesitant as I am to read it, I feel like it’s one of those books I need to read so I know what people are talking about.
  2. Eleanor And Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I’m even more hesitant to read Eleanor And Park, but it’s another one that I want to at least try reading because so many people have loved it that I need to read it.
  3. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.  I have them so I’ll read them at some point, but people seem to love it more than Mortal Instruments, so I’m curious to see what else Clare has done in the Shadowhunter world (even if all of the planned series set in this world makes me nervous).
  4. Bloodlines by Richelle Mead.  This is another series where people seem to like the spin-off more than the original (or, at least, they seem to like it as much as the original series) so I’m definitely going to have to read it eventually.
  5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman.  Again, a lot of people seem to love, so I’ll have to read it one of these days.
  6. A Discovery Of Witches.  I’m fairly certain this was recommended to me at some point (I wish I could remember who) and while I’m feeling too lazy to see what it’s about, I’ll definitely have to read it.
  7. A Confederacy Of Dunces.  It’s come up as a topic of conversation with some friends quite a few times, and while it wasn’t recommended to me specifically, I feel like it’s another one to read someday.
  8. Pretty much anything by Sarah Ockler.  Unlike my list so far, I’ve actually gone ahead and included an author as opposed to a specific book.  But again, she seems to be someone people love, to the point that I want to see why so many bloggers seem to like her.
  9. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.  I’ve seen it reviewed quite a few times, and I’ve been curious about it, especially since it seems like reviews are mixed.  But it still seems right up my alley!
  10. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.  My friend Heather recommended this one a while ago (come to think of it, I’m pretty sure she recommended A Discovery Of Witches) and I’d really like to read it someday!

Gilmore Girls 3×18: Happy Birthday, Baby

Happy Birthday, Baby originally aired April 22, 2003.  This episode was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and was directed by Gail Mancuso.

Gilmore Girls Season 3 Graphic

This episode opens with Richard cooking Friday night dinner.  Rory and Lorelei tell Emily and Richard that Rory’s going to Yale, and Emily and Richard don’t react right away.  In fact, they act like everything is perfectly normal…until they are really happy, and go off to call their friends.

At the Inn, construction is underway, and has to be done in 10 days, when guests are scheduled to arrive.  Lorelei is having an emergency staff meeting with Sookie, Michel and Tobin, the night manager.  Lorelei is looking for ideas to keep the inn going, and Michel suggests a B & B.  Lorelei and Sookie shoot it down, but Tobin agrees with Michel and suddenly, Lorelei is willing to consider it.  Michel doesn’t want Tobin’s help, and Michel isn’t happy that Lorelei said she’d reconsider when Tobin agreed.  Tobin got Lorelei an early birthday present, and Michel and Tobin have this weird glaring/looking at each other weird moment.  Michel and Tobin try to one up each other throughout the episode with birthday gifts getting more awesome, and Tobin with a bunch of ideas on what to do with the inn that Michel doesn’t like.

Rory is busy planning Lorelei’s birthday party- from a cake at Westin’s, to the world’s largest pizza.  The pizza has some issues throughout the episode, and while Rory is getting soda, Jackson talks to Rory about how Sookie’s crying because Rory didn’t ask her to make the pizza, or ask him for vegetables for the pizza toppings.

While all of this is going on, Lorelei meets with Richard for lunch, where she gets a very large check.  Richard had made an investment in real estate when Lorelei was born, and got a letter saying that the complex was sold, so she is now getting the check.  She’s really excited, and we see her and Rory trying to decide what to do with the money.

Then, we have another Friday night dinner, where Lorelei pays back Richard and Emily for Rory’s tuition at Chilton.  She’s very thankful for what they’ve done, but Emily doesn’t take this well at all.  She thinks they don’t need her anymore, and that she doesn’t want the money.  Emily also thinks that Lorelei was unkind to use her birthday to tell them that Friday night dinners are over, and even though Lorelei never said it, Emily believes the check got the point across.  Richard never told Emily about the investment he made, and paying them back was one of the first things she thought of.  Richard told her that Emily wasn’t supposed to know, and Lorelei is confused, since he didn’t specifically tell her not to say anything.  However, meeting in secret was how Lorelei was supposed to know.  Emily tells her that they are released from their obligation of Friday night dinner.

In Stars Hollow, Rory wants to know why Lorelei did it the way she did it, and that Lorelei had to have known they wouldn’t want the money back and that Emily wouldn’t take it well.  According to Lorelei, Rory doesn’t know how hard it’s been for Lorelei to go to her parents for help with Rory’s tuition, because Lorelei decided that she didn’t want their help a long time ago. She did go to them for help because of Rory and doesn’t regret that.  Rory thinks she could have done it differently (but isn’t sure what that would be) and Lorelei talks about how her relationship with her parents is very different than the one that Rory has with them.  Lorelei isn’t going to let anyone make her feel guilty for paying back a loan that she always intended to pay back, and certainly doesn’t want Rory to judge her for doing so.  Rory apologizes but Lorelei says it’s fine.

The episode ends with Lorelei seeing the party Rory planned for her, and loves that Rory did that for her.

What I Thought:

The check that Lorelei gets…I have so many thoughts on this!  It’s one of those things where I get everyone’s side- well, mostly.  I get why Emily acted the way she did and I don’t blame her for not taking it well.  I do agree with Rory that Lorelei could have done it differently, and I get why Lorelei not only went to her parents for help but also why she wanted to pay them back.

I did find myself irritated with Richard for not explicitly saying “don’t tell Emily.”  It is very like Richard to have a meeting shrouded in secrecy where said secrecy implies that Lorelei not say anything.  But subtlety doesn’t seem to work well with Lorelei, and Richard really should have been more clear.

I also got annoyed with Lorelei when she and Rory were back in Stars Hollow after her birthday dinner with her parents. One thing I’ve thought since starting up with the re-watch ages ago is that we get a very one-sided picture of Lorelei’s relationship with her parents, and while I know the show mainly focuses on Lorelei and Rory, I really wish we saw more of what her parents side is.  I was definitely reminded of that towards the end of the episode.  I get she doesn’t have a good relationship with her parents, and I just really wish we got more of Emily and Richard’s side (instead of just what Emily says once in a blue moon).  And that Lorelei was more specific about why they were horrible parents.

I would like to randomly add that Rory didn’t have to go to a fancy, expensive private school that Lorelei really couldn’t afford.  I don’t know if Chilton offers scholarships, or if that would even be enough to cover tuition.  And I know it’s there so Rory can get to Harvard (at the time) and so that Emily and Richard are around, but still…it just seems weird to me.

Favorite Line:

Michel: “I don’t eat bagels.  They are like glue in your intestines.”

Pop Culture:

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Clash, Gangs Of New York

Let’s Rate It:

I liked this episode, especially given there are no more Friday night dinners.  I didn’t completely love it, because I found Lorelei and Richard to be slightly irritating, but overall, I feel like we’ve hit the point where the story line that leads up to the season finale is set in motion in this episode.  Happy Birthday, Baby gets 3 mugs of coffee.

Audio Book Review: Beholding Bee

Beholding Bee CoverBook: Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco, narrated by Ariadne Meyers

Published February 2013 by Listening Library|Run Time: 8 hours, 5 minutes

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

You can find Beholding Bee on goodreads & Kimberly Newton Fusco on Twitter & her website

Goodreads Summary: 

Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face—though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost.

Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting. There two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won’t enter the building themselves. And, strangely, only Bee seems able to see them.

Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world–if only she will let herself be a part of it.

This tender novel beautifully captures the pain of isolation, the healing power of community, and the strength of the human spirit.

What I Thought:

I have mixed feelings about Beholding Bee.  Liked, really mixed feelings.

So, I liked that Bee found people who care about her after leaving the carnival she worked at, and how much she learned about herself over the course of the book.  One interesting thing is that the book takes place in the U.S. during World War 2, and when she starts going to school for the first time in her life, she’s placed in a class that would be considered special ed today.  That was actually really interesting because you see how cruel kids are to them because they’re different, and that they have several teachers who are there just to be there, and don’t seem to care about them.  Until they get the one teacher who believes they should be able to be around the other students (at least during recess) because it’s not fair to keep them separated from the other kids.  This doesn’t go over well with the principal, who’s basically doing it so they won’t get bullied.

I found that part so interesting because for some reason, I wasn’t expecting kids back then to be so cruel, but at was actually really important to see why they shouldn’t be separated from the rest of the school- at least in terms of recess.  And I liked Bee learned how to stand up for herself, even if I didn’t like she did it.  It made sense and I get why Bee acted the way she did, but I couldn’t help but think less of Bee after that.  (Not a lot, but just enough that I was a little put off by it).

One of the biggest reasons why I didn’t like Beholding Bee was the mysterious women who take her in.  I felt like it really took away from the rest of the book, because I wasn’t expecting 2 women that only Bee can see. I just found it to be annoying, and I think I would have appreciated/liked their role in things if they weren’t so…ghostly.  It really did take me out of the story, and I wish their own history, especially in relation to Bee, were explored more.

I also expected Bee to be a little bit older.  It’s hard to believe an 11-year-old could take care of herself , with the help of her two “aunts,” and slightly more unbelievable that a young woman in her earlier twenties would be willing to take care of Bee, even if she had been doing since she was in her teens when she took Bee in. Then again, I have no clue how these things worked in the 1940’s, so it could be related to that.

Let’s Rate It:

I did like how Bee learned to stand up for herself, and to not hide herself away because of her birthmark.  And I liked how she realized that people will care about her if she let them.  However, I felt like Bee seemed a little too young at times (understandable, given how she grew up) and her aunts really took me out of the story. Beholding Bee gets 2 stars.

Book Talk: Introducing Book Talk

Book Talk

I came up with the idea for Book Talk a while ago, and I thought I’d actually (and officially) introduce this feature!

Book Talk is my way of talking about non-book review bookish things.  How I feel about different things (like movie adaptations of books) and I how approach and think about reading has changed so much over the last 3.5 years, and my reading life is so different now than it was when I first started book blogging.  I do a lot of reviews (okay, mostly reviews) and lately (like, pretty much all year) I’ve wanted to do something bookish but not the book review kind of bookish.

My reading life before the blog is a bit of a blur, but it’s been such a positive experience for me.  I get to talk what I’m reading and I’m so much better able at talking about what I’m reading and why I feel the way I do about books.  I feel like I’m better able to pick out books I’ll like and put down the ones I don’t.  I feel like I’m more open to different ways of reading- I feel like I’d try an app like Oyster (or similar apps) and different formats (switching between print, e-book and audio book is no problem now) and even genres that I don’t normally read (which isn’t as often as I want it to be).  I feel like I’m more aware of what I’m reading, and am more open to reading things outside of my reading comfort zone, even though I have a tendency to go for what I know I like, instead of truly making an effort to diversify my reading.  I’m more likely to check out an author’s other books if I like what I’ve read by them.

I could go on and on about how much my reading life has changed because of the blog, and I’m hoping to talk about all of these things and more.  There are so many things I want to talk about, but I have a tendency to get scared about sharing my opinions. I’ve started so many posts that I end up deleting because I’m worried that what I’m trying to get across isn’t coming out right or that I’ll come across as stupid (or some combination of the two).  Sometimes, I don’t chime in, because other people have (and have said it much better than I can) or because I’m not sure what my opinion is.  And often, it’s because I feel like I don’t have anything to add to the conversation.  But I really want to get over that, and I feel like this new feature will help with that.

Another big reason why I’ve wanted to do something like this is some of the things that came up in a recent Top Ten Tuesday list where we shared some bookish/book blogger confessions.  I talked about how I feel guilty for not doing more discussion posts but I also shared how I wanted to do some non-review posts.  That post has really motivated me to get this feature going, because one thing that came to mind while working on that post was how I really do want to start talking about other book-related topics, and how I want to get over my fear of being a bit more open.

I also think it would be interesting to go back and look at it in a few years to see how much things have changed.  And I have so many ideas for what I could talk about- like not finishing books or what I think about series and or movie adaptations or even fun bookish events like when I went to a book launch party for The Kiss Of Deception.  Or even what I think of any adaptations, like The Giver (which I’m seeing this weekend) and If I Stay, which I plan on seeing next weekend.

Now I’m actually get really excited about it!  I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting the Book Talk posts, but for now, it’ll probably be once or twice a month.  Maybe more, but it depends on how chatty I’m feeling.