Tag Archives: YA books

When Reading Becomes Magic

It’s Guilty Pleasures Friday and I think it’s about time we talked books again here on the Happiness Project!  I’ve been a bit slower with my reading progress this year, and feeling underwhelmed by some of the books I’ve started.

Therefore, it was a delightful change of heart when I finished reading Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins the other day.

Hex Hall is the story of Sophie, a teenager who cast a love spell gone wrong (hmm – I may have cast a few of those myself as a teen).  Endangering herself and all magic beings by showing her power in front of humans, Sophie is sentenced to Hecate Hall, or Hex Hall as the students call it.  A little bit Crime and Punishment, Hex Hall is the boarding school for misbehaving witches, faeries, shapeshifters, werewolves, and exactly one vampire – who just happens to be the most hated person at the school, and coincidentally, Sophie’s roommate.

Raised by a human mother, Sophie knows nothing of her magical family’s past, and with flying colors on her first day, manages to piss off the three snootiest teen witches she’ll ever meet.  For Sophie, this is going to be a long year.

I must say at the start of the book, I judged it to be easily “figured out,” and thought the book contained too many similarities to the recent book/film hit, Beautiful Creatures.

I was wrong.

About halfway through the book, I didn’t want to put it down!  Things started getting dangerous!  Students were mysteriously attacked, left with bite marks and no memory!  It seemed like Sophie’s crush, Archer, may be more than what he seems.  And the ghost who was randomly appearing to Sophie, was now giving private magic lessons in a graveyard!  I love cemeteries!

The hardest thing for me to do right now is not give away the amazing jaw dropping twist the end of the book reveals!  I’m dying to tell someone about it, but then why would you read it?

So you have to read it for yourself!

Sometimes, it’s fun to lose yourself in a story, even if it’s another YA paranormal read and you already have too many of those on your bookshelf!

Hex Hall was fun.  And best of all, it was surprising.  And I think more great things will come from the author, who’s completed the Hex Hall trilogy with the sequels, Demonglass and Spellbound.

Rachel Hawkins

Rachel Hawkins lives in Alabama and is working on another trilogy series currently.  She taught high school English for 3 years before leaving work to pursue her bigger passion – the book that became Hex Hall.

If you’re interested in learning more about her, I linked to her blog by clicking on her photo.

Give me a shout!  Have you read Hex Hall?  What did you think?  What other books have completely surprised you once you got into them?

And what’s next on your “To Read” list?

Guilty Pleasures – Beautiful Creatures

Did I say I was going to stop watching movies?  Oh c’mon guys, you know me better than that! 

So when wednesday rolled around, and it was date night…

I convinced my guy to go see Beautiful Creatures!

The film is based off the book series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  Incredibly well webbed, Creatures tells the story of Lena Ducannes (played by New Zealand actress Alice Englert), just returned to the small, judgmental town of Gatlin, LA.  There, she meets Ethan Wate (played by Steven Spielberg discovered Alden Ehrenreich), a boy who is counting the days until graduation and his subsequent escape from Gatlin.

Rounding out the spectacular cast of the movie, we see Viola Davis (The Help) as Amma, a Seer, Emmy Rossum (Phantom of the Opera) as Ridley, Lena’s wicked cousin, Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee) as the Church zealot Mrs. Lincoln, and one of my man crushes, Jeremy Irons (Man in the Iron Mask, Voice of Scar in The Lion King) as the patriarch of Lena’s family, Macon Ravenwood.

Early on we learn that Lena and her family are different from the other townspeople.  In fact, they’re witches, or “Casters” as they prefer.  As Lena and Ethan become closer, their family histories will become more and more entwined than they can imagine.

What I loved about the movie, and it has to be said that my guy liked it to, so if you’re guy is saying he doesn’t want to go, he’ll probably like it!

…Where was I?…

Oh yes!  What I loved about the movie is that it’s the story of good vs. evil, but with depth.  There really aren’t any characters that seemed one-sided.  Even though they all stand for one side, their emotions, their dreams, and most crucially their families are intertwined.

I was really impressed with newcomer Alden Ehrenreich who plays Ethan.  As a fan of accents (and someone who tries to pick them constantly) I loved his portrayal of southern boy charm.  Within minutes of the opening scene, my honey commented, “I like this guy.”  That’s saying something!

The plot line for those are obsessed with paranormal YA books may be predictable, but I still loved how every bit of tension possible was maximized and  yet believable.  The ongoing tension of the first film is Lena’s upcoming claiming.  On her 16th birthday, she will be claimed for either the light or the dark and her fate will be sealed.  There was a variety of elements at play though.  Yes, destiny has its spotlight, but there’s also a family curse, a forbidden love, and the conviction of your own beliefs.

Nothing was easy, but it was very entertaining.

If I can compare Beautiful Creatures to any movie, I’d say Twilight, which I do like.  But Creatures is done much better all around!  Guess here’s another series for me to be addicted to!

Have you seen Beautiful Creatures yet?  Have you read the book?  What did you think?  

If you haven’t seen it, do you want to?  What are your favorite YA films or books out there?

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