Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Redemption is the final installment in the Caster Chronicles. Ethan has paid the ultimate sacrifice, restoring the balance to the Order and saving the ones he loves. When he wakes in the Otherworld, all he can think about is Lena and those he left behind. He soon discovers that the destiny he believed was his was really the result of dark forces trying to upset the balance and bring an end to the Mortal race, and that there might be a way for him to reverse his fate and return home. Armed with a renewed hope, Ethan sets out on a journey to return home.

Meanwhile back in Gatlin, Lena refuses to give up on Ethan and is determined to believe that he is not gone and that he will find a way back to her. When she starts receiving messages through the local paper's crossword puzzles, Lena vows to do whatever is necessary, including making deals with old enemies, to bring Ethan home. Can they find their way back to each other even when they are worlds apart?

This is probably one of the most anti-climatic endings to a series that I have ever read. I wanted it to be amazing and had hope after reading the third book that maybe the story had really picked up some momentum...Nope! I felt like the story had tremendous potential and there was moment after moment when I saw a glimpse of greatness, only to have it snatched away. The story was almost lackadaisical, like it couldn't be bothered to tell the exciting version. There were no real surprises including the return of one character which I felt was completely unnecessary. Ethan's journey home seemed almost too easy and there seemed to be a general lack of angst and suspense. There didn't ever seem to be a question of whether or not Ethan would get home, but rather how long it would take. I was hoping for more of a struggle, more of an emotional journey wondering if he would really be able to reunite with Lena. The ending was somewhat disappointing and I wasn't left with heart-wrenching, sigh inducing, sense of fulfillment I have experienced with other series.

Overall, I did not love this series. I'm not sorry that I read it, and there were elements and characters that I really liked. I think the whole thing could have used a good edit and it will probably be a "one read" series for me. I was not left with the desire to return to the world of this series. It's more like a "been there, done that" for me. Reviews for this series are largely mixed and I think it is one of those series that you either love or you hate. I fall somewhere in the middle, but I am curious to see how this series will translate to the big screen. This may be a case where I like the movie better than the book...I guess I will have to wait and see until the movie hits theaters on February 14th. 


Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles #3) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Lena has claimed herself for both and Light and the Dark, and the consequences of her decision quickly become evident as Lena and Ethan return to Gatlin. Soon the town is plagued by a series of apocalyptic events - an oppressive heat wave, swarms of insects, and devastating storms. Even Lena and her supernatural family are effected, as their powers begin misfiring.

As Lena and Ethan begin searching for a way to restore the balance, Ethan finds himself being haunted in his dreams again. Even worse, he slowly begins to lose pieces of himself - chocolate milk no longer tastes the same, he can't remember phone numbers he has dialed a hundred times, and he can't recall memories of his own past. As the events in Gatlin continue to escalate, it becomes clear that the Old Order is broken and a sacrifice is needed to restore the balance. Now Ethan and those he loves will have to answer tough questions. What would you be willing to sacrifice to save the people you love most in the world? When the time came, would you be able to do what is necessary? Even if it meant that there would not be a happy ending?

Beautiful Chaos is by far my favorite book so far out of this series. Once again I found it to be fairly predictable, but I wasn't so annoyed by it this time. It could have used a good editing, as it once again seemed to drag or dwell too long on certain things. I have come to really like Ethan as a character and like how he has become much more central to the story over the course of the last two books. In many ways this was the typical 3rd book - love triangles (rectangles) were resolved, the non-supernatural embraces their destiny, and the story moves toward the final climax and hopefully (undoubtedly) the happy ending that we all want. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the final book - Beautiful Redemption.


Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles #2) & Dream Dark (Caster Chronicles #2.5) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Darkness is the continuing story of Ethan Wate, whose life was forever changed when Lena Duchannes, a caster, moved into his small southern town of Gatlin. Lena, suffering the loss of her uncle, is pulling away from Ethan and spending more and more time with Ridley and a strange newcomer named John Breed. Lena is keeping things from Ethan and acting more and more like a Dark caster. Meanwhile, Ethan is experiencing visions unlike anything he's had before - visions of the past that will further entangle his own history with the history the town. When Lena, desperate to escape a reality she cannot face and a fate she feels she cannot control, runs away with Ridley and John, Ethan sets out on a journey to find her and bring her back. A journey that will not only have far reaching effects on the people he cares about, but will also revel his own destiny and role he plays in the supernatural world of Gatlin.

Beautiful Darkness was highly predictable and cliche, almost to the point of ridiculousness. As with most paranormal series, book two often finds the lovers being pulled apart as the realities of their doomed relationship begin to sink in. Fans of these types of series know it's coming, and it is the author's challenge to execute this in a way that keeps readers interested. The inevitable love triangle is introduced and we learn that the mortal is not just your average mortal, that somehow they are different and therefore able to exist on the fringes of the supernatural world. Not so sure if I can say this was a successful execution. Lena really got on my nerves in this book and her emotionally riddled tantrum was almost too much to bare at times. It was clear from the beginning that she would end up deserting Ethan, believing that he was better off without her, and that Ethan, having the usually white knight syndrome, would charge after her. I've read this story a thousand times, but this time I had a hard time buying into the story emotionally.

**Some spoilers included, so read with caution**

Of course, book two also introduces the star crossed lovers to the third option, creating the inevitable love triangle, or in this case rectangle. Both Lena and Ethan find themselves presented with a possible alternative to each other, an easier choice to be made. Lena's option I get. John is a supernatural being who can understand Lena in a way that Ethan cannot. Ethan's was something else entirely. Liv (another L name), is a research assistant and Keeper-in-training from England. Ethan and Liv become friends as they both work at the library, and somewhere along the way they apparently fall of each other. I don't know if Ethan was just feeling rejected by Lena, or what, but this whole thing annoyed the crap out of me. Ethan was supposed to be the steadfast one, the one who doesn't give up, and I was annoyed that this story line was introduced at all. I think it was unnecessary and underdeveloped. It was clear that Ethan would never chose anyone else other than Lena and to suggest otherwise was stupid.

Finally, we also discover that Ethan is in fact not just your average mortal - shock and dismay!! He is in fact a Wayward, a mortal guide for the supernatural. His family's history is explored more and we find things out about his mother's past, which are of course ensnared in Lena's family history. Again, predictable. The only thing that saves this book is that it is action packed. Most of the story is about Ethan's journey to find and save Lena. It of course ends with another cliff hanger and no resolution.

Dream Dark is a short little novella which focuses on Link and his transformation after being bitten by John in the tunnels. I really like Link as a character and he is obviously the comic relief in this series. He's also an amazing loyal friend to Ethan, having his back when others would have walked away. I am hoping that this side story indicates that Link will play a larger role in the remainder of the series. His antics are endearing and he is one of the few characters that I don't find myself annoyed with on a regular basis. It remains to be seen how the journey Macon sends him on will effect the larger story or if it will even be eluded to in the third book. Nevertheless, as annoyed as I am with this series I can't help but finish it, even though I am pretty sure I know what is coming...


Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate is counting down the days until he can escape the small town of Gatlin where he has lived all his life. Gatlin is a small southern town where nothing ever seems to happen, and where people love tradition and the status quo. For months Ethan has been dreaming of a girl he has never met and the connection he has with her is something he has never felt before.

Lena Duchannes is hiding a dark secret - she is a caster. When she moves to Gatlin to stay with her uncle, the town's recluse, she is desperate to hide her power and fit in. Ethan is drawn to Lena, and even though she tries to keep him at a distance, Lena cannot fight the connection between them. But Lena's family is cursed. On her sixteenth birthday, Lena's power will either be claimed for the Light or the Dark. When all fingers point to the Dark, Lena and Ethan desperately search for a way to stop fate and find a way to stay together.

I picked up Beautiful Creatures because the movie is coming out in February and the movie trailers looked good. Since I refuse to see a movie before reading the book, I decided to pick the series up. The reviews for this book are very mixed and I can see why. I did not love this series, but I didn't hate it either. There were things that I really liked about the book, but other things that I felt were superfluous and detracted from the story. I like that it was told from Ethan's point of view, which is something different from many of the other YA paranormal series I read. I'm usually dying to know what the male lead is thinking and for once I got to see the events from his point of view. Having said that...I didn't always feel like I was seeing things through the eyes of a guy. Let's face it, men and women think differently, and sometimes I didn't buy the fact that I was seeing things through Ethan's eyes. It felt like a female author trying to see things through the eyes of a male character - it's hard to explain, but it didn't always feel right.

Another thing I didn't like about the story was the rampant cliches of a small town southern town, complete with Confederate flags and Civil War reenactments. Although I know there are many southern towns who still fly Confederate flags and love reliving the Civil War, at times it just felt a little too exaggerated in the book. The story seemed to go on and on in some parts, and there were many things that I felt were unrelated to the central story and could have been cut. The book seemed to suffer from a lack of editing. Even though I didn't love it, I am intrigued enough to continue with the series, so it is on to book two - Beautiful Darkness.


The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden (The Coincidence #1) by Jessica Sorensen

"In the existence of our lives, there is a single coincidence that brings us together and for a moment, our hearts beat as one."

Callie's world is shattered on the day of her twelfth birthday and she has spent the last 6 years trying to hold it together and become invisible. Kayden might appear to live the perfect life, but looks are deceiving and suffering in silence and shutting down are the only ways he knows how to survive.

Callie and Kayden have gone to school with each other for years, but Kayden never really paid attention to her. On the night of Kayden's graduation party, Callie happens to be in the right place at the right time and saves Kayden's life. She then disappears off to college, hoping for a new start, but Kayden cannot stop thinking about her. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he is determined to get to know the girl that saved his life. As Callie and Kayden get closer, they realize that they both are hiding dark secrets. The pull that Callie and Kayden feel for each other is undeniable and both must learn to trust and open up again if they are ever going to save each other.

I originally came across this book as a recommendation on Goodreads and after my good friend Erlynn over at Books Hug Back insisted that I read it without delay, I decided to pick it up. I loved it! Be prepared for some heavy subject matter if you pick it up. The characters are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff including rape and child abuse, but they are raw and real. I enjoyed the author's style and liked how the perspective of the story switched back and forth between Callie and Kayden.

Fair warning there is a fantastically tortuous cliff hanger that left me with my mouth hanging open, tightly gripping my iPad, and gasping with shock. There appear to be two more books planned for this series with unclear publication dates - sometime in 2013. It is going to be tortuous to wait for the next book as I really want to know what happens next, but such is the plight of a bookworm. If you don't handle cliff hangers well, you may want to wait until the whole series is out, but this is definitely one you do not want to miss. If the end result is anything other than Callie and Kayden riding off happily into the sunset however, I might find myself a disappointed (and angry) reader...just saying ;)


The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Sargent has always been warned that she will cause her true love to die. Growing up in a family of clairvoyants, she has seen any number of strange things. Blue does not possess the power of sight, however. Instead her gift is to magnify the energy of those around her.

Every year on St. Mark's Eve, Blue sits beside her mother and records the names of the spirits of the soon-to-be-dead as they walk by. Blue has ever seen these spirits until this year. This year Blue encounters the spirit of a boy who speaks directly to her. According to her aunt, "there are only two reason a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve. Either you're his true love...or you killed him." The boy's name is Gansey and Blue soon discovers that he is a Raven Boy, meaning that he attends the well-to-do Aglionby private school. Raven Boys are notorious for trouble and Blue has long since had a policy of avoiding them.

However knowing that he is going to die and that she might have something to do with it, Blue can't seem to stay away from Gansey. Blue soon discovers that Gansey is more than he appears. He and his friends are on a quest to find a legendary king rumored to be hidden along a ley line. Blue finds herself caught up in the lives and quest of these Aglionby boys. As their lives converge, one thing becomes clearer and clearer - Everything has changed. Something big has begun.

This book was amazing! I was hooked from the very beginning and the momentum of the story continued to build and build. There was never a dull moment and Maggie Stiefvater weaved the stories of all the characters together beautifully. The story was exciting and mysterious, and the characters are complex and dynamic. I loved every minute of it! Unfortunately, we are left with so many more questions than answers (but in a good way...the way that makes you look forward to continuing the journey) and book two is not scheduled to be released until September, 2013. This story is clearly building towards an amazing climax and I can't wait for the next installment!


Falling in Love by Stephen Bradlee

Falling in Love is based on a true story. Sherry Johnson would appear to have everything going for her, except one thing - Sherry is addicted to sex. While physically surviving an abusive childhood involving abandonment, sexual abuse, and neglect, Sherry is left with emotional scars so deep that they causes her to "act out" and seek the love she never received from her family in the wrong places. Sherry's life has become one endless cycle of drunken nights and even hazier mornings when she wakes up in yet another stranger's bed.

Desperate for a change, Sherry flees her hometown only to meet Paul and fall head over heals in love with him. Sherry cannot escape her demons and when Paul finds out about her latest indiscretion Sherry flees again, this time to New York City. There she meets Elaine who introduces her to a 12-step program for sexual addiction. As Sherry struggles to face her demons and finally take back control of her life, she meets several women, and a few men, along the way who become the family she never had and support her on her way to sobriety.

I was given this book by the author for an honest review. I really liked this book and think that Sherry is an amazing and inspiring woman. I appreciated that the story was told from her point of view because it made taking this journey with her that much more profound. The story was well written and there were no salacious scenes, which one might expect from a book about sex addiction. Instead the book really focused on Sherry's journey and was handled with the utmost respect.

I was able to relate to Sherry in so many ways, having grown up with a parent who was an alcoholic and verbally and emotionally abusive. While I myself have never lived with an addiction, the scars of growing up with an addict are painfully similar. Sherry acted out, while I avoided anything that might lead me to turn out just like my father. I too know what it is like to feel powerless to control what is going on around you, to feel like you don't deserve the good things in life, and always waiting for the "other shoe to drop." Like Sherry, I strove to attain a level of perfection that was unattainable and hated myself for failing time and time again. It took me a long time to realize that I couldn't live my life for other people and that the only opinion that really matter was my own.

I think that is why Sherry's story is amazingly inspirational. She was able to build herself back up and take back control, despite mistakes and set backs along the way. That's what makes stories like Sherry's so powerful. It's the realization that you are human and that you are going to make mistakes, but that you keep getting back up and make the conscious decision to keep moving forward. Judging by the ending there will most likely be a sequel to this book, and I sincerely hope that there is. I look forward to reading about the next chapter in Sherry's journey. 


Taking Chances by Molly McAdams

Harper has grown up with a distant (and in my opinion, emotionally neglectful) Marine father, surrounded by the jarheads of her father's unit. Having finally turned 18, Harper escapes across country to San Diego State University determined to start a new life for herself. Her new roommate, Bree, quickly takes her under her wing and introduces her the college life and her family.

Harper quickly finds herself falling for two guys and smack in the middle of a love triangle. Brandon is tattooed, ridiculously muscled and handsome, a fighter in the Underground, and incredibly sweet and gentle with Harper. Chase, Bree's brother, is a hot, tattooed artist with a reputation for going through girls like socks. Even though she knows he's wrong for her, Chase gets under her skin like no one else can and is determined to become a better man in order to be worthy of Harper. Harper finds herself torn - she knows she loves Brandon and wants to spend the rest of her life with him, but she just can't seem to forget about Chase. One weekend of wild passion will have far reaching consequences for both Harper and the men she loves.

There is a sequel to this book, Stealing Harper, scheduled for release in the Spring/Summer of 2013. It appears to be the same story told from Chase's point of view, and as I am a firm proponent of Team Chase I will definitely be picking it up when it is finally released.

I wanted to love this book so much! I desperately wanted to love this book. To finish it and sigh with utter contentment that everything worked out how I wanted it to. This did not happen and it kind of pissed me off. I did enjoy the book and my own prejudices are probably preventing me from giving it a 4 star rating as opposed to a 3 star rating, but I can't get past how the book ended. It was totally not what I had pictured happening. I'm sure there will be readers out there that will disagree with me, but to each her own!

Okay, the real ranting will begin now. Fair warning...there will be spoilers. Stop reading now if you don't want to spoil anything. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


Fallen Too Far (Too Far #1) by Abbi Glines

Nineteen year old Blaire has no where else to go. Her mother has just died of cancer and she is forced to sell her home and everything else to pay the medical bills. She has spent the last 3 years taking care of her mother and she needs a place to crash until she can get a job and get back on her feet. The last person she wants to go to is her father, who abandoned her family after the death of her twin sister in a car wreck in which he was the driver. Blaire's father is married again and has himself a new family. When Blaire pulls up to the house she knows instantly that she will not fit into this family. Adding further insult to injury, Blaire discovers that her father isn't event there. He has escaped to Paris with his new wife.

The house is owned by her 24 year old step-brother, Rush Finlay. Rush, the only son of a famous rock star, is used to getting his way with everything. He life is an endless party and stream of girls, and he is sexy as hell. It is clear from the beginning that he does not want Blaire there. He takes pity on her and offers her the small room located under the stairs (very Harry Potter) for a month while she finds a job and saves enough money to get a place of her own. Despite his warnings and the warnings of others that Blaire should steer clear of Rush, she finds herself drawn to him, and he to her. Rush has a secret though, a family secret that everyone seems to be in on except Blaire. A secret that has the potential to shake Blaire's world to it's core, a secret he can't bare to share with her, because both of them have already fallen too far.

Loved this book. Rush has all the elements of a damaged bad boy and Blaire is your perfect innocent girl next door, and together they are hot! This book is quite steamy at times and definitely left me wanting more! The sequel Never Too Far unfortunately does not get released until March 2013, so I will have to wait to find out what happens next. BOO!! I am hoping that we get to learn more about Rush's history in the next book as his character was never really fleshed out. I am hoping that he is more than just the philandering playboy. There were definitely glimpses of a more tortured soul and I am hoping to learn more about him in the sequel. My only complaint about this book is that I now have to wait on pins and needles for the next one.


Slammed and Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Layken Cohen's life has changed dramatically in the last 6 months. Her father died unexpectedly and now her mother, younger brother Kel and Layken have packed up their home, left Texas behind, and moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan. Just when all hope seems lost, Layken meets Will Cooper. Will is her 21-year-old, attractive neighbor with a passion for slam poetry. Layken and Will form an intense emotional connection and Layken finds herself falling for Will hard, even after only knowing him a few days.

Their relationship takes an unexpected turn when Layken discovers that Will is in fact her new poetry teacher. Will, who is caring for his younger brother, Caulder, after the death of their parents cannot afford to jeopardize his job, which means that Layken and he have to break it off. Now the two are left with daily awkward exchanges and broken hearts. Layken's world is further rocked when the real reason why her family moved to Michigan is revealed. The only thing that Layken seems to know for real is that she loves Will, but will they ever be able to overcome all of the obstacles life has placed in their way?

Point of Retreat is the continuing story of Layken and Will, and told from Will's perspective this time. Having overcome enough of the obstacles to their relationship to be together, Layken and Will soon find that love may not be enough to get them through. When Will's ex-girlfriend reemerges after 3 years, Layken is left questioning the very foundations of their relationship. Will must now figure out a way to prove to Layken that their love is real, that "sometimes two people have to fall apart to realize how much they need to fall back together."

I loved this series! Loved, loved, loved it! I have to admit when it was revealed that Will has in fact Layken's teacher I thought that was it, that there was no way I was going to make it through this book. As a teacher, the idea of anything but a professional relationship between student and teacher just grosses me out. But I am also OCD when it comes to finishing a book and I'm glad that I was able to work past that little issue, because I really enjoyed this series. The characters are fantastic and create a wonderfully imperfect family, proving yet again that blood does not always a family make and that the human heart is stronger than it may appear.

I was slightly annoyed with Layken in Point of Retreat and felt that most of her hang ups where the result of her own insecurities and not Will's actions, but I also really loved watching Will find ways to prove her wrong. I enjoyed the poetry element of the book, as I myself am a big fan of slam poetry, although it loses some of its essence when read and not seen. It would be a really cool element to include should these books ever be made into a movie. This series is a quick read and full of plenty of angst, which will appeal to romantics and YA lovers. Solid 4 stars for me! 


Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Seventeen-year-old Sky has led a sheltered life - home schooled, no TV, no cellphone, no internet. Her best friend, Six, lives across the street and has a horrible reputation. A reputation that has given Sky a reputation simply through association, and not based entirely in fact. Now Sky is getting ready to attend public school for senior year, just as Six is heading off to Europe via an exchange program. High school turns out to be just as horrible as Sky predicts and she is forced to endure her classmates rather unimaginative slurs and attempts to bring her down. Her only solace is Breckin, a fellow outcast.

Sky's life takes a most unexpected turn after a simple trip to the grocery store where she meets Dean Holder, a boy with a reputation worse than hers. She finds herself drawn to him and feeling things that no one else has ever made her feel. Sky knows that Holder is no good and that she should stay away from him, but he seems determined to know everything about her. He feels dangerous to Sky and his mood swings leave her reeling. What she doesn't know is that Holder is tied to a past that she never realized she had, and being with Holder drags her back into it. Meeting Holder changes every single facet of Sky's life and she is left questioning who she is, where she comes from, and what the future holds for her.

This book was heart-achingly good and Dean Holder is my new literary hero. Readers be warned - this book deals with some heavy stuff, including sexual abuse. The twists in this story are amazing and Colleen Hoover weaved this story together beautifully. It was in no way predictable for me. Usually I can figure out where stories like this are headed fairly quickly, but with Hopeless I often found myself not realizing a twist until it was just about to happen. Sky and Holder are beautifully flawed and their love story made my heart swell over and over while my eyes fill with tears. They are two damaged souls who save each other. This is a solid 5 star read for me, a rating that I do not dish out often. I know that this book will become a re-read (several times over) for me. Fantastic book!

Update 1/19/13:

Just when I thought I couldn't be any more in love with Holder I come across this bonus scene told from his point of view. Check it out here. God I love him!


I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Poppy Wyatt is on cloud nine and has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her dream guy, Magnus Tavish, and life looks perfect. That is until she loses the one thing she shouldn't have - her engagement ring, which also happens to be a Tavish family heirloom. As if her day can't get any worse, Poppy's cell phone gets stolen. Lost without her phone, she happens to find a discarded one in a trash bin. Desperate, Poppy picks it up and soon finds out that it is in fact a company phone owned by the PA of Sam Roxton, who wants the phone back.

Poppy, who has given this number to every employee of the hotel where her ring went missing, convinces Sam to let her hold onto the phone for a few days, but only after promising to forward all of the emails and messages on the phone. Poppy and Sam can't help but to meddle in each other's lives as they share an inbox and an unpredictable series of events will lead to an outcome that neither one could have predicted.

I loved this book and have probably found a new favorite author. I loved the characters and found myself laughing out loud several times throughout the book. Poppy is a great character and some of the situations she finds herself in and misinterpretations were hilarious. This story will appeal to any hopeless romantic and it's a very quick and enjoyable read (good romantic comedy film too). I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself picking it up again in the future.


The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Planet Earth has been invaded and the human race has become “hosts” to a race referred to as “souls.” The souls inhabit the bodies of their human hosts and take over their minds. Most humans succumb to this invasion easily, others, such as Melanie Stryder, do not. When the soul Wanderer is placed inside of her, Melanie refuses to disappear. Wanderer might have control of her body, but Melanie will not give it up without a fight. 

Sharing a body is not without it's complications and Wanderer soon finds herself in love with Jared, the man Melanie is in love with, and worrying over Jaime, Melanie's younger brother. Unable to resist her any longer, Wanderer with the aide of Melanie sets off to find Jared and Jaime. What she discovers is an underground resistance movement of humans. Now Wanderer and Melanie's future is even more uncertain. Can they convince the humans that Melanie is still inside of Wanderer? Can the humans put aside their prejudice? Can love survive even in the most hopeless and impossible of circumstances? What will the future hold for both the souls and the human race?

I have to admit that I was hesitant to pick up this book. Not because I didn't think the story sounded interesting, but because I was afraid that after Twilight, Stephenie Meyers might be a "one hit wonder." I knew that I would not be able to read this without comparing it to Twilight. While I did enjoy this book, I did not love it the way that I love Twilight. It took me a bit to get into the story and I did not connect with the characters as quickly as I did with Twilight. I also wasn't able to lose myself in the world of this story the way I can when I read Twilight. This book (and potential series) is one that I really did like, but I know that I will not come back to it again and again like I do with Twilight. The story is well written and by the end of it I did connect with the characters. I think that it will be interesting to see how it plays out on film (movie to be released in March) and if the two rumored sequels are published I will read them. For those of you who are not fans of Twilight and sparkly vampires, I would suggest giving this one a chance and not dismissing it out of hand. It is different from Twilight and written with an older audience in mind.  


Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

What better way to end a year and bring in another one than re-reading my favorite (tied with Jane Eyre) book of all time by my favorite author! Yes, after meeting my goal of reading 75 books I decided to celebrate by reading Pride & Prejudice yet again. I've lost count of the number of times that I have read this book, but I think this makes 10 re-readings.

For those of you not familiar with this book (and shame on you if you are not!), Pride & Prejudice tells the story of the Bennet family, a well-to-do (but by no means wealthy) family with 5 daughters living in an age when their sole concern was securing an advantageous marriage. The Bennet sisters' world is turned upside down when a Mr. Bingley moves into Netherfield Park and is instantly taken with Jane, the eldest Miss Bennet. It is through Mr. Bingley that Elizabeth, the second eldest, meets Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Bingley's very wealthy and prideful friend, and takes a disliking to him. When she learns that Mr. Darcy played a hand in the sufferings of her acquaintance Mr. Wickham and in separating Mr. Bingley from her beloved sister, Elizabeth is determined to dislike him forever. However a series of events, intrigues and misunderstandings soon show that first impressions can be misleading, and Elizabeth soon finds herself desiring a connection with Mr. Darcy that she previously considered most displeasing. Both she and Mr. Darcy must overcome their pride and prejudices in order to find the happiness they both seek.

People always ask me why I re-read this book over and over. There are so many reasons that I could probably write a whole book about how much I love this book, but I will try to keep my admirations in check. First, I love the language. Words and phrases like supercillousness, pedantic, impertubabuly grave, and connubial felicity make my heart and mind sing! Nobody talks like this anymore. We as a society have become so lazy when it comes to language. The fewer letters and syllables we use the better. Words like LOL and OMG now appear in the dictionary! A complete travesty if you ask me. The art of using language (and letter writing) has all but died away. I love that it often takes a character several lines to say one thing rather than a few short words.

Secondly, I love the characters. Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite female literary character and I know that we would be very good friends if she really existed. I love her wit, humor and her ability to put Darcy in his place on numerous occasions. Darcy is my ultimate literary crush. I fell head over heels for him from the first reading. His swoon worthy phrases - "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." - induce sighs in me every time I read them. In my opinion he is perfection personified. Yes he is proud, but he is also generous, loyal and passionate (not to mention rich). If he existed in real life I would not hesitate to snatch him up! Elizabeth and Darcy's love story is amazingly heartwarming and I love watching the events that change their perceptions of each other so drastically unfold.  Even though I know how the story ends, in all of my subsequent re-readings I still find myself so wrapped up in the world created by Austen that I worry over whether or not Elizabeth and Darcy will really end up together.

Jane Austen writes with a fluidity and ease that can sometimes be missing in classics. The story is full of humor, friendship, gossip, and romance. She is by far my favorite author and I have read just about everything of hers that has been published. While I have many Austen favorites - Sense and Sensibility,  Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion - Pride & Prejudice is by far her crowning glory. I don't ever seem to be able to get my fill of it - both literary and even film wise. If you have never read this book, I implore you to pick it up. It is a book that I will continue to love, cherish, and probably re-read a million more times.