Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bite Sized Reviews: The Frog Princess, Cloaked, & Frogged

Bite Sized Reviews at Debz Bookshelf

Because I’m sort of weird, I’ve always loved when multiple things can be creatively worked into fitting under the same theme, and this time around I didn’t even have to do any work! All three of my reviews are about retellings of one of my favorite fairy tales!
 
 
The Frog Princess (Tales of the Frog Princess, #1)
 
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: November 9th, 2002
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Source: Purchased
When I Read It: May 15th, 2013
Amazon | Goodreads

Princess Emeralda a.k.a. Emma isn't exactly an ideal princess. Her laugh is more like a donkey's bray than tinkling bells, she trips over her own feet and she does not like Prince Jorge, whom her mother hopes she will marry. But if Emma ever thought to escape her troubles, she never expected it to happen by turning into a frog! When convinced to kiss a frog so he might return to being a prince, somehow the spell is reversed and Emma turns into a frog herself! Thus begins their adventure--a quest to return to human form.

Fascinating and hilarious characters ranging from a self-conscious but friendly bat to a surprisingly loyal snake and a wise green witch confirm that readers won't soon forget this madcap story. A fantastic debut from the talented E.D. Baker.

The Frog Princess has all the elements of the classic fairy tale, and then turns it upside down! When an awkward princess and a shady frog meet, you know that it's time for an adventure.

And what an adventure it was! The plot was so much fun, and super cute. I loved all the characters they ran into on their journey to become human again.

I'm surprised it's taken me such a long time to read what is slowly becoming another childhood classic among fairy tale lovers, but I'm happy to say that E.D. Baker has found another faithful reader!

Cloaked
 
 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 1st, 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: ARCycling
When I Read It: March 13th, 2013
Amazon | Goodreads

I’m not your average hero. I actually wasn’t your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn’t a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I’ve ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.

Don’t believe me? I didn’t believe it either. But you’ll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got CLOAKED.

As impossible as it may be, this is my favorite Alex Flinn book! Her novels are all so much fun and incredibly creative, but this beats all the others out by a long shot.

The characters had a timelessness about them, which I think is key in any fairy tale, but at the same time they felt modern and realistic. They were so original and fresh, and very classic Alex Flinn.

The actual plot was just so much fun! It took a handful of fairy tales, most unfamiliar, and craftily mixed them up together in a way that worked so, so well. It was exciting and hilarious, and you were never quite sure what was going to happen.

Alex Flinn is an expert at bringing fairy tales to life in a whole new way, and I can't wait to see what she has in store next!

And bonus points for quoting Les Miserables and Into the Woods!

 
Frogged
 
Publisher: Harcout Children’s Books
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Source: NetGalley
When I Read It: May 4th, 2013
Amazon | Goodreads

A princess should be as good as she is beautiful.

So says The Art of Being a Princess, which Princess Imogene is supposed to be reading. But since she is neither particularly good nor all that beautiful, she skips her homework to visit the pond. There she meets a talking frog who claims to be a prince under a witch's spell. Imogene kindly kisses him to remove the spell - and gets turned into a frog instead!

Now the only way for the princess to un-frog herself is to convince someone else to kiss her. But before she can figure out a plan, Imogene gets kidnapped and becomes the unwilling star attraction in a third-rate traveling theater company. Can she find a way t undo the witch's spell - or will she be frogged forever?

**I received an ARC and was not compensated for this review**

This book is exactly the kind of book I would've loved when I was eight or nine. It had that unique whimsy that can only be captured in certain middle grade stories.

Blank*teen year old me loved it just as much, if not more, than I would've when I was nine. It made me giggle and sent all sorts of silly daydreams into my head.

The story, while somewhat predictable, was just too much fun for me to care. Imogene was a very spunky character, who I think a lot of girls could relate to (except for, y'know, the frog part...)

With clever writing and a satisfying 'Happily Ever After', I'm sure this story will be entertaining readers for years to come!

*What, you didn’t think I’d reveal my true age, did you?

Have you read any of these? How would you say they compare to the original tale?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge Update

It has been decided that instead of monthly link-ups, there will be quarterly link-ups, which will take place in March, June, September, and December. All those who link up their reviews (whether they be from blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, etc.,) will be able to enter a giveaway, which will most likely feature an assortment of old and new releases!

You can sign up for the challenge by clicking this link!

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bite Sized Reviews: Origin & City of Ember

bitesized

Origin
 
 
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: September 4th, 2012
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Romance
Source: Gifted
When I Read It: August 20th, 2013

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home―and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin―a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

For some reason I thought I wouldn't like this. After the first 60 or so pages, I really didn't, but then the story suddenly did a 180 and I fell in love with everything about it!

This book really makes you think, and question what you know about life. The scientific aspects were fascinating, while the story itself dealt with something more complicated and important that science.

Mysteries abound and morals are questioned, all on the quest to create the perfect human.
I wasn't a huge fan of the insta-love between Pia and Eio, but for whatever reason it didn't bother me nearly as much as I expected it to.

Pia was the most irritating whiny brat in the beginning, but once she'd discovered the real world and started thinking straight, she became an admiral, strong character.

Origin is incredibly unique, and a wonderfully satisfying standalone!

 
 
 
The City of Ember (Book of Ember, #1)
 
 
Publisher: Yearling
Release Date: March 13th, 2003
Genre: Dystopia
Source: Library
When I Read It: June 26th, 2013

Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness….

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

The whole time I was reading this book, I had this weird feeling that I'd read it all before. It all seemed so familiar. It turns out that it's because I'd seen a ton of trailers for the movie right when it came out.

The premise is very promising and interesting, and it definitely delivers on all fronts. The world building is wonderful and the adventure and mystery in the novel were exciting and puzzling.
Nothing about the characters really stood out, but they were well written, and carried the story along.

The story was fairly simple, but I found myself wishing the book was longer and certain plot points had been expanded upon.

Definitely a wonderful read for all ages that will make many a happy reader.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped (Bumped, #1) 
 
 
 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 26th 2011
Genre: Dystopian Satire
Source: eBook from Library
Challenge(s): Dystopia
Find it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

I don't know how I ended up reading this, quite honestly. I'm just not a huge fan of tons of sex in my books, or tons of religious stuff, and so logic says that this is THE book to avoid. But I picked it up anyway, because I was kind of curious. A satire dystopia about teen pregnancy and the power of media? Intriguing for sure!

But the whole novel just rubbed me the wrong way. It was really easy, yet hard at the same time, to remember that it was meant to be satirical, because of the overbearing nature of it. It seemed like the author was trying so hard to get her point across, that the message was more important than quality writing.

The characters were sort of weird. Melody and Harmony were such polar opposites. They both seemed pretty two-dimensional, but they almost seemed like real people when compared with the male characters. Just overall they were flat, and it was fairly obvious that they were meant to be nothing more than pawns in the story.

I honestly do appreciate the message this novel was trying to send about media and sex and choices, but this didn't seem to be the right medium for me personally.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{Blog Tour} Studio C Review and Giveaway!

studio c tour 
Tour Schedule

  Studio C DVD  

Website * Facebook

**A DVD was provided for me to review--I was not compensated for this review**

You’re probably wondering what I’m doing reviewing a TV show. Generally I wouldn’t have joined this tour, but Studio C is something special, guys. I was first introduced to the group of weirdos that make up the cast of Studio C through the most amazing music video I’ve ever seen. Ever since then I’ve been following this group of oddballs, and so when Studio C first came into existence I was among it’s earliest watchers.

Studio C is basically the family friendly version of Saturday Night Live. As much as I like Saturday Night Live, at the end of the day it’s sort of depressing, and living in a tiny house full of children, it’s probably not the wisest thing to have playing on TV. Studio C, on the other hand, is made by a bunch a nerdy college kids who like to keep it clean. (What can I say? It’s Utah!) And to anyone who thinks that there’s no such thing as ‘clean humor’, I dare you to try to watch a full episode with a straight face.

Their skits feature a wide variety of different styles and techniques, and are always incredibly witty. Each actor has a distinctive personality and style, which makes their performances hilarious and memorable. Their skits also have a wide appeal to all sorts of people. It’s impossible for my family to agree on anything, but they all manage to get something out of Studio C, which itself is a miracle.

But the thing that really makes me love this show the most is how genuine it is. These people like to make people laugh, and they’re good at it. Sometimes it comes off as corny, or just…weird, but it’s still genuine.

If I could list all my favorite skits I would, but I can’t. Though I do love those which feature an assortment of literary puns, grammatical errors, or tongue twisters. As for which ones those may be, I’ll leave it up to you…

Below you can find some more information, as well as a few hilarious videos so you can get a feel for their brand of comedy and see if it’s up your alley. You can also find a giveaway for a $25 Gift Card!

Studio C Seasons 1 and 2 of the hilarious BYUtv sketch comedy series, Studio C, featuring Whitney, Mallory, Jason, Matt, and the rest of the cast pulling out all the stops with two full seasons of enough rip-roaring hilarity to make you spit milk out of your nose. Travel back to the moment it all began and watch some of the very first Studio C sketches, plus two never-before-seen features! Includes popular episodes featuring

  • Presidential Shoulder Angel
  • Facebook Friends Song
  • Flirting Academy
  • Captain Literally
  • The Center for People That YouTube Made Infamous
  • Candy Land Character Conference
  • Bollyside
  • Dana’s Dead
  • And many more!
Special Features
  • Exclusive Feature: “Just Jeremy Date”
  • Exclusive Sketch: “Substitute Miss Frizzle”
  • Season 2 Outtakes
Studio C is a hit sketch comedy series that the whole family can enjoy. Like the popular TV show Saturday Night Live, the cast performs original sketches that parody American culture and the hilariously awkward moments of everyday life; but with a refreshingly wholesome yet hilarious spin. With their huge fan-base and increasing popularity, Studio C aims to produce clean, family-oriented comedy for a national audience.  

Purchase Amazon * Deseret Book

       
Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/31/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Book to Broadway Challenge!

broadway button

Surprise! I’m hosting another challenge! This one isn’t as upscale as the Fairy Tales Retold Challenge, and it’s mostly a personal challenge, but I figured I’d make it all ‘official’ and everything.

The challenge is to read any book OR play with a musical based on it, and then watch and/or listen to that musical. Sounds fun, right? This is a pretty specific challenge, without an enormous selection, but hopefully it’ll still be lots of fun!

  • This doesn’t actually have a specific start or end time, unless it would be simpler to stick to January 2014 – December 2014. I’m not picky!
  • Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, fairy tales, and short stories all count.
  • I’m personally only going to be reading/watching things which have made it to Broadway or West End, mainly because it’s a lot harder to track down recordings/soundtracks of shows that were only ever off-Broadway or regional productions.
  • Each book DOES NOT count until you’ve seen/listened to the musical.

Ultimately, have fun exposing yourself to excellent literature and musical theatre!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bite Sized Reviews: Shadow and Bone & Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

bitesized

I introduced this idea back in September, and since then I’ve reviewed exactly one book. Something is obviously wrong with this picture. Luckily I’m in the process of whipping out short reviews at lightning speed, so that I can catch up and begin to focus my energy on providing more quality content on this blog.
 
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
 
 
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: May 17th 2012
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: Purchased
When I Read It: May 13th, 2013

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

I unfortunately don't remember most of the plot, but what I do remember is how enthralling the novel as a whole was. I loved the Russian influences, and the world building was really good.

I liked Alina, but nothing about her made her stand out. I really didn't like the Darkling--I just don't go for bad boys. Mal was okay, but pretty dull. I think if the characters had been more fully developed, this book would've really stood out to me.

This book was good, but not great. I'd heard so much hype about it, so it was kind of disappointing. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable.

 
Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)
 
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Source: ARC from Publisher
When I Read It: May 24th, 2013

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

I remember even less of this plot than that of the first book, which is unfortunate because I remember that I enjoyed it so much more than the first. It had a rough start, but soon I was wrapped up in it. It seemed very much like a bridge book, but not in a bad way.

There was more character development than in the first, especially along the lines of romance, but by the end I was more frustrated with the characters than anything else.

The ending was quite crazy, and left me hungry for the next book!

Stacking the Shelves (17)

It’s been a month since I last did this, and I’m surprised by just how much things have changed during that time! The biggest news in my neck of the woods is that I’m hosting the Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge for the third year in a row! Another thing that it’s probably wise to alert you to is that I’m in the process of moving, which won’t effect this blog too much, but just in case, I now have an excuse for my sporadic absence (:

      Received This Month

      Purchased

      Proxy (Proxy, #1)The Innocents (The Innocents, #1)Cinderella: Ninja Warrior (Twisted Tales, #1)The Cadet of TildorThe Devil's Arithmetic  Impostor (Variants, #1)Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)

      Proxy by Alex London
      The Innocents by Lili Peloquin
      Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan
      The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
      Impostor by Susanne Winnacker
      The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

      I got all of these—brand new—from my favorite bargain outlet which always has a huge selection of books. They were each $2, which is a steal!

      Hero by Alethea Kontis

      In my nearly three years of blogging, there has never been an author event within 50 miles of my house, and then who should happen to book an event here than one of my favorite authors? So of course I had to go! And now I have a beautiful signed hardcover (:

      NetGalley

      DangerousThe Winner's Curse

      Dangerous by Shannon Hale (*squee*)
      The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

      Two of my most highly anticipated releases—I can’t wait to dig in!

      Library

      Crewel (Crewel World, #1)SeraphinaIf I Stay

      Got some amazing-looking audiobooks from my library, and just in time, too!

      Luckily I got that business sorted out.

      Found in Garage

      Anna KareninFahrenheit 451The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)

      Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
      Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
      The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
      Maria: My Own Story by Maria von Trapp

      As part of this whole moving business, I’ve been slowly digging through boxes in our garage in an attempt to de-junk. 90% of what’s out there are books, and I’ve been gradually transferring them to my shelves. I’m especially excited about Maria because I’m a Sound of Music nerd.

      Blogged This Week

  • #MYGReadAThon | The I Haven’t Reached My Reading Goals Yet! Read-a-Thon TBR
  • 2014 Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge
  • Incarnate Series Read-A-Thon!
  • 2014 Reading Challenges

Lots of event focused posts this week! Next week should be more traditionally Debz, with some long-overdue book AND movie reviews (something I’m going to be doing more frequently!)

Read This Week

Tumble & FallThe Shadow Girl

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer

To Read Next Week

Friends and Traitors (Slayers, #2)Right of WayPride and PrejudiceIron Hearted Violet

Slayers: Friends and Traitors by C.J. Hill
Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill

I have a staggering TBR pile, so I’m going to be trying to tackle it this week!

How was your week? Leave links in the comments below!

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