Welcome to The Romantic Scholar, a book review blog. Thanks for stopping by and I hope that you enjoy your stay.

After an eight month long hiatus, I am back. And I could not be more excited about it.

***My comments are located at the top of my posts***

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A while back, I interviewed Jackson Pearce, author of As You WishSister's Red and Sweetly. I first met Jackson at the Decatur Book Festival in 2009. I later found out that she is friends and co-workers with my cousin. Such a small world!! Well, I instantly fell in love with her writing and ever since, I have been dying to do an interview with her. I will have companion reviews to follow this interview shortly dealing with the series that we are discussing. I hope you all enjoy the interview and thank you so much Jackson for answering my questions!!

Do you use experiences with your sister as inspiration for your books?
I think I use experiences from everything in my life in my books, but yes, my sister did specifically play a big role in inspiring SISTERS RED. Like Scarlett and Rosie, we often had a hard time understanding one another when we were younger, but became closer as sisters when we were able to view one another as individuals instead of just “my sister.”

Is there a character in SISTER'S RED that you can relate to, or modeled after yourself?
A lot of people think I must have based Scarlett after myself, since like Scarlett, I’m the older sister. The truth is, I think I can relate to both Scarlett and Rosie, which is part of the reason telling the story was so interesting—I understood and empathized with both characters.

Who is your favorite character from your books?
I don’t have one, though lately I’m especially partial to Sophia from SWEETLY.

Is there any one author that inspired you to write?
It was actually the lack of a specific author/book that inspired me to write—I wanted to find a very specific book in a bookstore, and when I couldn’t find it, I decided to write it myself.

Is there anything that you like to do or have while writing?
I like it to be very, very quiet—I usually don’t even have any music playing. I also always want a giant cup of water or sweet tea or diet coke (trying to cut back on the diet coke, though that isn’t going very well).

If SISTER'S RED were to be made into a movie, who would your choice cast be?
I don’t really dream cast my books—what my characters are like personality-wise is way, way more important to me than how they look. In fact, I specifically don’t describe them in detail in some books, because I want readers to imagine whomever they want in the role (PURITY, for example, contains very little physical character description). There was, however, a girl named Tania Raymonde who was in Lost—I always thought she’d make an excellent Scarlett or Rosie.

Thank you again, Jackson, for taking the time to answer my questions and to share your insight with us! I look forward to reading more from you and perhaps we will be able to talk again about your work!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Overall Rating:

Age Recommendation:
This book steps up the violence and gore a bit more than Catching Fire did. It is a lot more brutal of a tale and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has read the other books already. If you are a young reader, I would say that you most definitely cannot have a light stomach to handling violence and gore. Your strong reading abilities will not help you there. This books takes emotional turns that were not even attempted in the other two.

Cover Art:
My usual statement for this series remains. Simple. Clean. Elegant. Eye catching. Doesn't give away a thing. These covers continue to capture my eye and draw me to them whenever I see them. It is now a symbol with immense meaning that can be incorporated into our own lives in today's world.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

My Thoughts:
With how impressed and in love I am with the first two novels in the trilogy, my hopes were set incredibly high for the epic conclusion. Collins, however, had other ideas. It seems as though she was trying to please every single reader with outcomes rather than creating a single, solid, and undeniable ending. For the most part, a lot of things were left up in the air and I had questions. So many questions. If I can get a hold of her, I would absolutely love to do an interview with Suzanne to talk about why she did what she did in the finale of her amazing series.

This final chapter of the trilogy tests a lot of factors in the character's lives. This book is mentally and emotionally trying, which is quite impressive since Collins' writing style is so simple. So much happens in this book that at times I think that it could have been split into two separate novels creating a saga which would have given more time for her to expand on the story and not leave readers with so many unanswered questions. But so much of it is necessary to happen all in one book to create the continuous flow of events that Suzanne has spun for us.

This book took me on a roller coaster of adventure, pain, love, and joy. While a lot of this book did not sit well with me, I could not put it down at all. Just like her other books, this was an absolute page turner. So much happens to Katniss that it's almost unfathomable how one person could have so much bad luck in life.

The entire series is incredibly re-readable and you definitely cannot borrow these books. You definitely have to own them in some way, shape, or form. It is an amazing series that you will be drawn to again and again.

Mockingjayby Suzanne Collins
Pages: 400
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Purchased from store  

Friday, March 30, 2012

My Overall Rating:
5/5 (Can I give it a 6??)

Age Recommendation:
Same as my recommendation for The Hunger Games. A strong reader who can handle mass amounts of violence and gore. This one steps it up a bit from the first book, but not by so much that I would recommend an older reader.

Cover Art:
Again, much like the first book in the series, the art remains very simplistic. The single Mockingjay pin is significant to the story and the characters. As well as it is significant to the reader supporting the districts. It still doesn't give any anything or lend any ideas to the story that could potentially mislead the reader.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

My Thoughts:
The Quarter Quell is here. In the second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy, we find ourselves being forced into yet another terrifying Games. This time, however, the odds are a little different. Because Katniss and Peeta won the 75th games, The Capitol attempts to exact revenge by creating a few special rules for this Quarter Quell. Only victors will be chosen as tributes. And we all know what that means. For District 12, there are only three victors. Who will be forced to fight to the death this time? I'm sorry, but you'll have to read to find that one out for yourself.

Once again, Suzanne Collins kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting in insane anticipation as to what would happen next. I could not be happier that Eli turned me on to this series. The writing is incredibly captivating while remaining simple enough to read in one go without getting a head rush from having to think too much.

I am even more invested in these characters than I thought before. And in my review of Mockingjay, I'll tell you who my favorite character of the entire series is. (Don't want to give away too much here, now do I?) The re-readability factor of this book is completely unlimited. I sense that no matter how many times I read this book, it will have a similar effect that the Harry Potter novels had. It will never get old and I will always be able to find something new that I didn't catch before.

I can't wait to get to Mockingjay which is sitting right beside me, waiting for me to pick it up. Catching Fire has such a cliffhanger that you can't not already have Mockingjay in your possession by the time you complete Catching Fire.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Pages: 400
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Purchased from store 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Okay, so I just got back from the midnight release of The Hunger Games. I have to say, I was quite impressed by the work done to make this film work. It was quite the spectacle. Being the midnight premiere, people do some interesting things. Dressing up is one. And I am proud to say that I was a part of that. It was a whole group effort. Some of us, myself included, just went as tributes. We had a Katniss, and Effie, a Rue, and a Foxface. The fun part of this cosplaying, is seeing all the other people who dressed up for the occasion. But the costuming isn't what I really want to talk about here. I want to talk about the film and the experience that went along with it.

We saw the film in a Regal RPX theater. For those of you who don't know, RPX is the Regal equivalent of IMAX. Huge screen, amazingly comfortable seats, and exceptional sound quality, this theater made the experience of seeing this film so much more amazing. With the crazy camera angles and movement, the enhanced screening made it much easier to follow than how a standard screen would have been.

The crazy camera work that was done was very effective at creating the sense of chaos that was enveloping the arena. It created a sense of desperation that otherwise would heave only been interpreted by dialogue and the characters portrayal. While at times it did make me dizzy and slightly annoy me, I think that it really added to how the audience interpreted the emotions felt by those in the arena.

Now, what everyone is waiting for. How did the movie hold up against the book?

Well, to be honest, they did a fairly good job of staying true to the book. The changes made by the filmmakers for the most part were done in the best interest of the film and I think that for the sake of being a movie, they were well advised. There were some things that were left out that only made sense if the viewer had in fact read the books or did some serious research before going to see the film. My boyfriend accompanied me to the film. He had not read any of the books and I found myself explaining quite a few different aspects of the film that were left out. Things about the history of Katniss' family and the history of the districts and The Capitol. However, the film has convinced him to read the books. As I'm sure it has done for so many of the viewers.

All in all, I'd say that this is one of the better film adaptations of a novel and I cannot wait until Catching Fire comes out. Rumored to be November 22, 2013. Let's hope that they stay on track!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Overall Rating:

Age Recommendation:
I would recommend this book to any strong reader who can handle violence and gore. The writing itself is not difficult to grasp.

Cover Art:
The cover art is extremely simple. I really like this since it does not lend any outside interpretations into the book, while it still supplies an eye catching cover to attract interest. I am also incredibly fond of this cover art because of the meaning that it has for the novel as well as the fact that it does not give away any hints to the story.

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated.

As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss' sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place. 

My Thoughts:
While this is incredibly similar to the plot of Battle Royale, there are quite a few significant differences. The first is that this book is not the end of the tale. Battle Royale is solely about sending children into battle against one another where only one can live because of the uprising that children have had against adults. Similarly, in The Hunger Games, children are sent into the battlefield once a year as a tribute to remind all districts of the mistakes they made when they attempted to revolt against The Capitol. The difference is that The Hunger Games is not only about sending these children off to war. The significance of the story is much greater than that and has an immensely important message to be taken away by the reader.

When I sat down with this book, I was sucked into a world of which I could not escape. While Katniss is slightly annoying due to her whiny personality, I found myself growing fond of her and her family as I got to know them. Because of the superb writing that Collins has given us, I found myself in Katniss' place in the games.

The use of description in this book is so incredibly vivid that I felt as though I was watching a film. When Katniss felt pain, so did I. I honestly did not think that I would be so sucked into this book after finding out how similar it was to Battle Royale, but after reading both, the differences are enough to where I can have a separate place for both.

Collins kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book, anticipating what would happen next. I have to say that I am so greatful to have jumped on The Hunger Games bandwagon after all three books have been published because after reading this one, I definitely had to immediately dive into the next.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Pages: 384
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 14, 2008
Purchased from store

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Overall Rating:

Age Recommendation:
This book is such an easy read that I would say that any strong independent reader would be able to handle this book very well. The subject matter is nothing that I would consider too inappropriate for someone over the age of 12.

Cover Art:
The cover says it all. Actually, I was fairly judgmental about this book when I saw the cover. Which, of course, breaks the cardinal rule of reading. Don't judge a book by its cover. The cover of this book definitely did its job of catching my eye. And after reading, I really like how is gives a teaser of what this book is going to be about. It's also a very good portrayal of the character's personalities.

What if your soul mate is...your best friend's boyfriend?

Lani and Erin are lifelong best friends--and total opposites. Lani's a down-to-earth Taurus; Erin's a fiery Leo. Lani likes to do her own thing; Erin prefers an entourage. They've always had wildly different tastes, from pizza toppings to guys.

That is, until Erin starts dating Jason.

From the minute Lani meets Jason, she can't deny the the amazing connection she feels with him. It's like they've known each other their whole lives. She's not sure if he feels it, too--but even if he does, he's off limits. Lani's determined to ignore her feelings for Jason, no matter how powerful they are, rather than hurt her best friend.

Then Erin goes away for the summer--and Jason seems to appear everywhere Lani turns. How long can she keep running from the guy who might just be the love of her life?

My Thoughts:
Would you ever steal your best friend’s boyfriend? What if you believed that you had more in common with him than she did? What if you believed in fate, and your fate was aligned with his? What if he was your soul mate?

That’s how it is for Lani. She and Erin are best friends. And now Lani is finding herself falling for Jason, Erin's boyfriend. What would you do if you believed that your soul mate was your best friend's boyfriend? Would you pursue it? Susane Colasanti takes us into the life of Lani in Something Like Fate. This is a novel about complex and complicated relationships that could potentially question the morality of the characters but is handled in such a way that the character knows that her morality is being question by the reader, the public, and herself.

This is the first book that I have read by Susane Colasanti. I have two of the books that have been published prior to this one, however I just never got around to reading them. She makes it so easy to jump into the life of her characters with a simple writing style that makes the book a page turner on top of the incredibly invested story that she has created. I really feel like I have gotten to know the characters and have sat in Lani's shoes as she goes through the difficulties of doing what's right for her friend and what's right for herself.

Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti
Pages: 268 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Purchased from store

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I would like to inform you ahead of time that if you have not read the other three books in the series, things will be spoiled within the summary and potentially in my personal review of the book. I am sorry for any spoilers. However, if you have not read the other three books, you should do so! It is a fantastic series and such a good read. They are fast paced and will keep you on the edge of your seat!

My Overall Rating:

Age Recommendation:
Again, as with the rest of the series, I would have to recommend an age of at least 13. I've said it before, it's a dark series.

Cover Art:
Normally I rave about the cover art for this series. Now, I now that a lot of authors have no say in what covers will look like, but so far, her covers have been pretty good at actually having something to do with the story. This one however, keeps throwing me off. The colors? It just stands out against the other three books in the series. It still leaves me questioning things throughout the book but I don't think this one has any relevance.


High school junior Camelia thought her powers of psychometry only gave her the ability to sense the future through touch. But now she’s started to hear voices. Mean voices. Berating her, telling her how ugly she is, and that she’d be better off dead. It’s a troubling development that has Camelia terrified for her mental stability, especially since her deranged aunt with a suicidal history has just moved into the family house. More torturing, ex-boyfriend Ben, who has similar psychometric abilities, has been spending more time with their classmate Alejandra.
With the line between right and wrong fraying, Camelia turns to pottery to get a grasp on her emotions. She begins sculpting a beautiful figure skater, only to receive frightening premonitions that someone’s in danger. But who is the victim? And how can Camelia help them when she is on the brink of losing her own sanity?

My Thoughts:
In the midst of losing your own sanity, would you be completely absorbed in protecting someone else? Every time I read about Camelia, I'm baffled. This girl either has a hero complex or she is just so amazingly genuinely good-hearted that she simply wants to save everyone. However, I'm leaning more towards the hero complex. No matter what, this girl just can't stay away from helping someone she THINKS could be in danger.

Laurie Faria Stolarz wowed me again with the second to last installment of her TOUCH series. When it comes down to it, this series is very reminiscent of her Blue is for Nightmare series. Although it is geared toward a slightly older audience within the world of Young Adult fiction. It seems like in the third book, Deadly Little Games, that she really fell into the groove of having us get to really know the characters. No more am I forgetting who is who and what has been going on. I finally feel like I know the characters. Even if it did take a couple of books. I love the thrill of all of the anticipation of what will happen next.

This book is a page turner, just like its predecessors. I read it in one go and couldn't put it down. And like the others, it is so much fun to read alone at night. It's just enough suspense to give you that thrill while still ensuring a decent night's sleep. If you don't pick up another book, that is. The writing of the book is very fast paced making it an extremely easy and fun read. Laurie keeps you on the edge of your seat guessing and wondering what will happen next as Camelia and crew continue on their journey to understand the strange power of psychometry.

As where the last book left off, I'm really glad that we get to really know Aunt Alexia in this installment. Her connection to Camelia has been one of the biggest driving forces that has kept me hooked on this series since her introduction. I can't wait to see how the story unfolds and wraps up in the final book in the series, Deadly Little Lessons, on December 12, 2012.

Deadly Little Voices by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Purchased from store

Friday, January 27, 2012

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?
Look at the list and observe those you have read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel
22 The Great Gatsby- F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma-Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Naboko
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web- EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
That's 41. How many have you read?

I think that it is incredibly important to have these classics and bestsellers under your belt. The more you read, the stronger your comprehension becomes and the better you can read contemporary literature. You become so much more attuned to noticing small details that essentially become crucial to the plot of a story. There is also a lot more to gain from these novels because you can draw conclusions that use comparisons that authors make in hopes that readers will understand. There are also key literary elements that go hand in had with writing such successful novels that landed certain best sellers on this list to begin with.

For example, without the knowledge of Shakespeare, the writing style of Harry Potter still makes sense. However, with the knowledge of the Shakespearean plays, The significance of how the Harry Potter series was set up makes so much more sense and certain aspects are more prevalent in earlier readings than coming across them later.

Happy reading guys!! These classics really are worth it!!! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I am back from hiatus. I will not, however, be posting anything on books today. As I am jumping on the protest against SOPA and PIPA.

I will be back tomorrow with a regular post. Thank you to all those who have continued to follow me in my absence.

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