Top Ten Tuesday: Characters with Whom I'd Trade Places

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over at The Broke and the Bookish. They'd love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week they will post a new top ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
Top Ten Characters I'd Change Places with For 24 Hours:

1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter - I don't think this one really requires an explanation, and if it does, then you're not really a fan. Hermione is a bada$s witch with some seriously awesome friends, and if I could be her for a day with all her knowledge (and prettiness), I'd be one happy camper.

2. Arwen from The Lord of the Rings - Well, first of all, guys, she's an elf, and elves are the best. Second of all, pretty sure that she was fairly chummy with Legolas, and Aragorn loved her. Seriously. Aragorn? I rest my case.

3. Lyra from His Dark Materials - Lyra gets all this amazing adventure in her life, and while she always seems to get into some sort of mishaps, I wouldn't trade those opportunities for the world. Plus, she gets to hang out with all of the coolest characters in the world.

4.Ella from Ella Enchanted - Ella had some serious snark. Plus, she had the most awesome, awesome retelling of Cinderella going for her. I swear her world was alive.

5. Mara from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Well, if you know me, this should be a given. This girl has some serious issues, and Mara isn't really her name (or is it?!), but hell...she rocks. Dark and twisted, I'm pretty sure I could get around in her world!

6. Rose from Vampire Academy - I have a few reasons for this choice, obviously, but I'm going to stick with the most obvious. She's sassy. She loves Dimitri...regardless of their "circumstances." I think it would be awesome to be a kick-a$s heroine like her.

7. Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice - This girl marched to the beat of her own drum in a time when it wasn't really acceptable to do so. I wish I had half the courage she did. I also want Mr. Darcy, if only for 24 hours.Although, I'd probably fight her to keep him.

8. Carly from Raw Blue - This actually might seem like an odd choice because of her inner turmoil, but let me explain. She is one of the strongest, most powerful characters I know, overcoming tragedy and heartbreak to find a new lease on life. I admire that strength, and I'd love to experience it for a day.

9. Elena Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries - Ok, while this series isn't really one of my favourite book series, I would totally change places with Elena to get my paws on Damon Salvatore. Or Stefan. Or both. But let's be honest...mostly Damon.

10. Yalith from Many Waters - There's something about her character that makes me think she's got this quiet strength that sings through a huge cast of characters. Her life is bleak, and she most likely won't survive, but she has two hot twins in love with her, and she has the angels on her side. I would love to live in the time of Noah for a day.

Drain You by M. Beth Bloom Review

Monday, July 30, 2012

Title: Drain You
Author: M. Beth Bloom
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: July 24, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Every night I'd lie there in bed and look out at the hills behind our house, listening. I knew there'd be consequences. Actions meant reactions. Sunrises meant sunsets. My fear was too permanent, lasting longer than eyeliner, something I wore every day and didn't wash off.

Quinlan Lacey's life is a red carpet of weird fashions, hip bands, random parties, and chilling by the pool with her on-and-off BFF Libby. There's also her boring job (minimum wage), a crushed-out coworker (way too interested), her summer plans (nada), and her parents (totally clueless). Then one night she meets gorgeous James, and Quinn's whole world turns crazy, Technicolor, 3-D, fireworks, whatever.

But with good comes bad and unfortunately, Quinn's new romance brings with it some majorly evil baggage. Now, to make things right, she has to do a lot of things wrong (breaking and entering, kidnapping, lying, you name it).There's normal, and then there's paranormal, and neither are Quinlan's cup of Diet Coke. Staying sane, cool, in love, and alive isn't so easy breezy.(less)
Quinn’s teenage existence follows the status-quo in every way possible. She has a decent job, decent friends, decent interaction with her parents and, well, pretty much decent everything. However, she’s bored. There has to be more to life than the petty sun-up to sundown life she revolves in constantly. Then she meets James, the mysterious stranger that will turn her life upside down and change everything she thought she knew forever. James is darker than anything she’s ever experienced before, and with the darkness comes fear and instability. Maybe she should have thought twice before wishing for more excitement. Can true love really conquer all?

I do believe there is still hope in the YA genre for vampire books. Despite all the bad ones that keep cropping up, I still have hope for the fact that there might just be a diamond off there, hiding out in the rough. Drain You, however, follows the somewhat well-known formula of a vampire novel, giving us the boy, the girl, the drama and all the fixings in a mashup of plotlines and intrigue. Author M. Beth Bloom has crafted a novel that will surely please a wide audience of vampire-loving young ladies, and her easy, fluid writing style is certain to whet many a YA appetite.

I absolutely hate writing bad reviews. On the flip side, I also hate when a book has all the potential in the world to break the stereotypical mold and simply rests on its laurels instead. Most unfortunately, Drain You was exactly the latter of the two. In the case of vampire novels, each new book that emerges on the scene has the chance to take the genre and turn it on its head, but none of them really seem to do so, which is quite frustrating. Quinn, as a main character, infuriated me. She was self-absorbed, clueless, self-deprecating and completely complacent to just let the ridiculous chips fall as they may. James, too, was a very surface heavy character with little to no depth at all. He had the dark aura we’ve come to expect, as well as the brooding temperament and utter lack of personality. Yet, somehow, there is this “love” connection that blossoms instantaneously throughout this drawn out and rather chaotic plotline. My main issue with that is that I can reconcile with insta-love if there is a fragment of believability in the characters, themselves. Unfortunately, neither of the main characters in Drain You sung enough alone to make their chemistry (or lack thereof) resound together.

I realize I’m being atypically hard on Drain You, but the fact of the matter is that we, as a young adult reading audience, should expect more depth and more drama below the surface. I want tension, and I want to make a connection with the characters. Both, unfortunately, simply didn’t work with this novel for me. I give it a 1.5 out of 5, and I would recommend it to those looking for the YA audience looking for a simple, run-of-the-mill vampire novel.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Let's Talk: Book to Film vs. Book to TV Adaptations

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let's Talk is a new weekly feature here at i swim for oceans. I think it's important that we all have our say, and there's something to be said for raising our voices. Simply put, here on the little old blog, I like to host some of my very own discussion posts because, well, I like to converse with you all.

And so, Let's Talk will feature questions or prompts, which I will answer, too. Love it or hate it, weigh in or don't, it's my hope that Let's Talk will at least get you thinking...and maybe even get you discussing with the rest of us!
Question: Do you prefer book to film or book to TV adaptations?

I was actually asked this question by a friend the other day, and it really got me thinking. To be honest, guys, I don't know of a ton of book to TV adaptations, but the ones I do know of, I quite appreciate and enjoy. That said, there are also some really great book to film adaptations out there, as well. It's hard to say that I enjoy any visual version more than the book, but you catch my drift. They all have their merits, right?

On one hand, you have book to film adaptations like Harry Potter that just soar. You guys know the depth of my love for all things Harry Potter, but the series honestly just got better and better - visually and emotionally. As the actors grew, so did the characters, and I felt such a strong connection with them. Though there were elements missing throughout (not TOO too many though), I felt like the films stayed pretty dang close to the books, themselves, which made the series that much better for me. And, as such, Harry Potter is probably my favourite book to film adapation series, overall. There are singular book to film adaptations that were beautifully done, as well, such as A Walk to Remember. However, I find myself struggling to find more stand-alone film adaptations that really pop for me.
Then you've got my favourite book to TV adaptation, The Vampire Diaries. I know there are a lot of book bloggers out there that didn't really love this book series. However, those same bloggers are often HUGE fans of this TV show, and can you really blame them? LJ Smith has a very distinct writing style that appeals to some and alienates others. However, the show creators bring the worlds within her books, as well as the characters, alive in a way that really breathes new life into the pages of her books. By giving us season upon season of the show, as well, we're given an opportunity to become fully invested in the characters, the storyline and the plot, as a whole. 

So, while part of me thinks this should be a toss-up, I'm actually going to have to say I like book to TV adaptations better. I think we have more time to actually flesh out the story and grow attached to the characters over time. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could tune into Harry and Hogwarts every night? I'm jussayin'.

Circle of Silence by Carol M. Tanzman Review

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Title: Circle of Silence
Author: Carol M. Tanzman
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: July 24, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher
It's my turn to run a "Campus News" crew, and I've put together a team that can break stories wide open. And Washington Irving High has a truly great one to cover, if only we can find a lead.

A secret society has formed in our school. It announced its presence with pranks: underwear on the flagpole, a toilet in the hallway, cryptic notes. A circle of silence keeps the society a mystery. No one knows its members, agenda or initiation secrets-until a student lands in the hospital under "strange" circumstances.

I "will" blow this story wide open and stop others from being hurt...or worse. And while my ex, Jagger, might want to help, I don't trust him yet. (And, no, not because of our past together. That is "not" important to this story.)
Valerie Gaines wants nothing more than to be a reporter, and when she’s given the job of producer in her school’s television class, she’s fairly certain that she’s made it. This is her shot to break the news, chase the story and get to the heart of the issue, and Val knows how important it is to get the story at all costs. But then the pranks start. They’re innocent to start – underwear flying, toilets in the hall and a mysterious signature letting people know there is a real person behind it all. Things start to unravel though, when a cryptic warning tells her to stay away. Should Val keep investigating, or should she simply cut her losses and play it safe?

I remember when I first heard about Circle of Silence, and I was excited by the rich blend it seemed to put forth. First of all, you have the investigative reporting angle, and then you have the angle of behind the scenes drama that seems to unravel into something more than a childish prank. It sounded a bit like a Lifetime movie, but with all the right things happening, rather than one of those too-much-to-bear stories that becomes cloying and obnoxious. Carol M. Tanzman has crafted a cloak and dagger mystery story with an engaging heroine, an ever-shifting plot and lighthearted touches of romance to heighten the story.

Guys, stories with journalism are an instant attraction to me…as are mysteries. The two combined is, in a nutshell, a recipe for excellence in my books. Circle of Silence cleverly cultivated both, giving me the best of both worlds, while teasing me at the same time. The story offers up just enough details throughout to keep me entranced, but it was like keeping you on the edge of a cliff and holding you back just enough not to let you jump. I thought Val was a fantastic MC. She has a level head throughout the story that is believable at her age, and her investigative reporting is more of a personal drive than a cutthroat desire to succeed. Val’s emotions were honest, and her intentions were admirable, and I could definitely empathize with her situation and her want to figure out who was behind the mysterious “MP.” The subtle twists and turns that wove throughout the characters and plot points were intricate and well thought out, though I’ll admit some of the characters, namely Jagger, through me for a loop in the middle. The best part hands-down, however, was the fact that I had absolutely no clue who “MP” was until the end of the story. The hints of foreshadowing never gave too much away – just enough to keep me guessing.

Overall, Circle of Silence was surprisingly good. I thought it was well executed, and though I wish I had a bit more backstory on the characters, I thought it definitely came full circle. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I definitely recommend this one to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and mysteries.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Waiting on Wednesday: Falling Kingdoms

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Falling Kingdoms
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Razorbill
Publish Date: December 11, 2012
Genre: YA, High Fantasy
Pages: 412
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
Guys, I saw high fantasy, and I was sold at just that. Now, there are some people who think that Falling Kingdoms might fall into the same trap that so many have done, turning it into a cliche and muddled mess. I, however, think this one has a ton of promise. From the cast of characters, to the world that the synopsis implies, I think I could find myself truly invested in this story. And heck, I need a good fantasy to whisk me away from this world every now and again! Besides, I'm in lust with that cover. Whoops. What do you think, and what are you waiting on this week?

So...I Disappeared.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So, I've been a fail blogger lately, but I PROMISE I have an excuse. Most importantly though, I am back! I had planned to take my hiatus until August 1st, but I'm feeling ready to dive back in. I will be overloading this lil' blog with reviews and features in the coming weeks to catch back up, but here are my excuses for being MIA.

A) I had a self-imposed timeframe in which I had to finish my manuscript revisions and submit RACE. The process has begun. Oh joy.

B) I've been working on a career change, and I'm SO excited to say I'm heading over to World Travel Holdings on August 6th!

C) I moved right before BEA, and I never really had a chance to settle into the new apartment. It's still a work in progress.

D) I've been busy having my a$s handed to me at CrossFit Free every single day so that I can be strong enough to compete. Proof? See below.

Regardless, I'm back. I'll have my regular Waiting on Wednesday post tomorrow, and I'll be back on track with reviews and such, too! Missed all your sweet faces.


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