BOOK REVIEW: Within by Aaron Bunce

As a reader of mostly Young Adult books, Within by Aaron Bunce did not promise me a contemporary love story or even a dystopian tale. However, what I got was an epic adventure that included elements of both and much, much more.
There are several storylines throughout this dark fantasy novel, but there are even more plot twists and turns that kept me on my toes. I really cared about each character as they were introduced, celebrated their accomplishments and suffered their pains. Also, there were no prepackaged relationship dynamics; just as in real life, every conversation felt authentic.

It was easy to get lost in the world and experience real fear of the creatures that dwell within it. The imagery is so vivid, I felt like I was watching a live-action movie instead of reading. My favorite parts to read were the action scenes which Bunce skillfully crafted in such a way that my heart would race and my shoulders would tense up. I actually felt like I was personally involved in these scenes and isn’t that what most readers want to feel?

Within is definitely outside of the genre I usually read, but I was hooked a few pages in and truly enjoyed every single page that followed. I am working on getting through it a second time as I wait in anticipation for book two in the series to be released. I am confident that anyone who gives this book a chance, will like it as much as I do.

BUY Within on Amazon by clicking here.

BOOK REVIEW: Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout reminded me of all the reasons I love a good mystery story. If you are paying attention, there are enough clues to point you in the right direction. However, a talented author will give you those clues without you even realizing it and in the end you are kicking yourself for missing them. Let me assure you, that’s exactly what happens with this book.
Don’t Look Back tells of Samantha, who has been missing for several days and is found injured and without any knowledge of where she’s been nor what happened to the friend that went missing with her. In fact, she doesn’t have any memories at all, not even her own name is familiar to her. As she recovers from her injuries, Sam struggles to reconcile who she feels she is with how she treated people before the incident. That is only one of the puzzles this book offers.
I read this book in one sitting because I was on the edge of my seat from page 1. Throughout the book, I didn’t know whom I could trust; even the narrator was unreliable due to her memory problems. But I enjoyed turning Every. Single. Page. I thought I had the answers twice before the reveal at the end and I was proven wrong both times. If you are looking for a mystery novel that will keep you guessing, look no further, Don’t Look Back is that and so much more. Armentrout is able to weave witty humor, a bit of romance and plenty of realistic high school dramatics into this mysterious tale. I honestly hope she writes more books like this. ~Jolene

Buy Don’t Look Back HERE!!

Divergent Movie Review

I had the opportunity to attend an advanced screening of Divergent in exchange for an honest review.  The free tickets did not affect my opinion of the film.  I would have gladly paid for my ticket, in fact I plan to pay for several of my tickets when I return to see it repeatedly at the theater.

When it was announced that the Divergent book I loved so much, was being made into a movie, I was cautiously excited.  Excited because I always love to see my beloved fictional friends through someone else’s eyes.  But cautious because of the unknowns…. will they do it justice, will they tell the same story, will the actors get the characters right and will people who haven’t read the book be able to understand it?

Having seen it, I can assure you, I am now ONLY excited to see it again.  I cannot think of anybody (13 or over) that lives and breathes who won’t like this film.  The story flows well, there is plenty of action, and the plot follows the book.  Everyone I talked to after the movie agreed that this is one of the BEST book to film adaptations EVER!! Yeah, I said it.

I don’t care how many times you have read the book, you will still find yourself wondering, “Will she make it?”  “Are they crazy?” “Will she stop on time?”  I promise, you will be on the edge of your seat at times and your blood will be pumping.  The adrenaline rush I felt from watching it paralleled the rush I get from a 30 minute run.  At times, I actually had to catch my breath from holding it in so long in anticipation.

The score and soundtrack of Divergent deserve some praise too.  There wasn’t a moment when I was staring at the screen (afraid to blink and miss something) when my hearing sense wasn’t busy as well.

The music woven throughout the film added depth to the emotions being caused by the spot-on portrayals by the actors.  There is no more wondering; Shailene Woodley IS Tris and Theo James plays Four better than anyone else I could imagine.  I also want to give a shout out to Miles Teller for portraying the convincing douche canoe that is Peter and to Jai Courtney for kicking ass as heartless Dauntless leader Eric.

I feel a special thank you needs to be given to Neil Burger for putting this film together in the way he did with the cast he did.  My sincerest congratulations go to him for making Veronica Roth’s cameo appearance last for more than a fraction of a second.  Without giving away any spoilers, I will tell you that she bursts on to the screen and grabs your attention.  You can’t miss her!!!

Overall, watching this movie was like taking a courageous ride down a zip-line.  I was nervous, I was anxious, I was scared and then I was confident, I was entertained and I was brave.  Seeing the Divergent movie was a hair raising experience that I can’t wait to have again and again!!!! Who’s with me??

***Let it be noted that Casey attended the screening with me and she whole-heartedly agrees with this review.  That makes Divergent 4 thumbs up from Fangirl Moms!!  We are taking the husbands this week and we will let you know what they think!*** ~Jolene

Divergent Photo Shoot

Fangirlmoms had SO MUCH FUN during this Divergent photo shoot with our very talented friend and photographer, Mark Nodland!

http://www.nodlandphotography.com/

 www.nodlandphotography.com

 

 

 

Chicago DIVERGENT Red Carpet Adventure

When I recieved word that I would have 2 tickets to see Divergent on March 4th instead of having to wait until March 21st, I did what any fangirl would do and well… I fangirled!!!  Not only would we be able to meet the author Veronica Roth and the stars, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort and Amy Newbold, but we would actually be among the first to see the film!!  Casey and I immediately scheduled our long put-off themed photo shoot and got to work on our gifts for Veronica and the actors. The day finally arrived and off we set for our 4 1/2 hour drive.  Things started to get exciting when we crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois.  When we got the theater around 2pm, they informed us we would not be allowed to line up until 4pm.  We found nobody else lining up outside or inside so we returned to our car to put last minute touches on our gifts and make-up (we are fanGIRLS afterall).  Shortly before 4pm we made our way back into the theater to find they were leading in a line of people who had obviously been lined up outside.  I asked the theater staff if we were allowed to line up too and they said yes.  We hopped in line and asked the people we were standing next to what time they had gotten in line.   I was relieved to discover they had gotten in line around 3pm, so we hadn’t cut in front of anyone who had been there before us!  We made fast friends with Katie and Sarah.  When we were given our tickets, mini Divergent posters and allowed to line the red carpet, we made another important friend from the Talent Protection Agency responsible for everyone’s security during the event, Jeff.   See him and our friend, Katie in this selfie!

image (10)

He agreed to give us a signal when he was notified that any cast members or Veronica had arrived at the theater.  Fangirls and fanguys have a habit of breaking out in random fits of screaming just from the excitement and anticipation of an event like this and we didn’t want to get psyched out.  The first two people to arrive on the red carpet with fanfare were unexpected visitors.  The first appeared shortly to do one interview for tv and then came back later to meet with fans, more on her later.  The most interesting surprise guest was none other than the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel.  We didn’t get to meet him or talk to him but I did capture this picture to send to my brother (lover of all things Chicago) and he knew exactly who it was!  “That’s the President’s BFF!” were some of his exact words. LOL!

image (5)

We had been given tickets with a movie start time of 8pm. When 7pm rolled around I was starting to get nervous that none of the stars would have time to stop and sign anything or take pictures.  Shortly after that, we got the signal from Jeff that 2 stars were about to appear.   About 5 minutes later, screams from the front of the red carpet confirmed that Veronica and Ansel had arrived.  Each person had several media stops on the inside of the circle of the red carpet and fans to meet along the outside of the carpet.  Ansel’s method was to bounce around, back & forth and to greet as many fans as possible.  Veronica was very methodical and orderly which made her progression to us easy to track.  Meanwhile, Amy Newbold, who plays Molly, arrived (again) and following Veronica’s organized method of making her way around the circle (but enduring shorter media interviews) made her way to us before Veronica or Ansel!  She signed our books and asked us if we were excited.  OF COURSE WE WERE!!! Especially because Jeff gave us the signal that two more were about to arrive.  We got our picture with Amy before she moved past.

image

We watched Shailene and Theo arrive and of course fangirled at the idea we were breathing the same air!!!  Ansel stopped what he was doing to run and embrace Shailene stating that he hadn’t seen his friend since they wrapped filming on the Fault in Our Stars movie.  Of course, he was too far away for us to hear him say that personally, but word got around anyhow. The next thing we knew Veronica had stopped to talk with a “Make A Wish” young lady near us.  I noticed she had a pen in one hand and was handing out hugs with the other. I got nervous that she wouldn’t be able to hold on to our gift for her.  I noticed each star had a professionally dressed associate making the rounds with them, aside from their security.  I asked the one with Veronica if she was her publicist,she replied, “I am her agent.”  So, that gave me the idea to ask her to deliver our gift.  She agreed to take it as long as it wasn’t a box and wouldn’t you know, it was just a mini poster with shots from our photo shoot and a personalized note on the back.  They looked like this on the front:

FGM_Divergent

When Veronica got to us, she signed our books and took pictures with us and listened to us tell her how much she inspires our students, especially Casey’s Talented and Gifted ones!  She was humble and awesome and I still can’t believe all that has happened for her in the past 5 years!!  She’s only 25 years old!!!

image

As soon as Ansel’s agent got close to us, I asked if she would take our gift for him since he needed his hands free. She was happy to help us out and she looked at what we gave him. When she turned it over and read what we had written, which included wishing him well on his Ansolo music projects, she got all excited and said, “He will love this, I will for sure give him this.”  Then she went to where he was and showed him our gift.  When she turned it over and he saw we mentioned Ansolo, he looked up at us with the cutest look on his face.  I snapped a picture that turned out fairly blurry but you can see the big, genuine smile.

 

image

He offered to sign our gift and Casey assured him, “No, that is just for you, Sweetie.”  He walked right up to her and gave her a big hug!!  Katie and I offered to double hug him at the same time, which was awesome.  Then he signed our books and took some selfies with us.

image  image

After he walked away, I remembered our plan to ask about his cologne so I shouted out, “Hey Ansel, What cologne do you wear?”  He said, “I don’t wear any!” and laughed. I laughed with him a bit at my audacity and then we moved on and were discussing how smart it was to give the gifts to their agents.  I saw Theo’s agent finally within reach and I asked if he would take our gift for Theo whilst holding it up so that he could see it was not bulky.  He asked if he could fold it, and I agreed but instead he just bent it so he could hold it better (it was rather long and I understood).  Our personal body guard Jeff made a face, because evidently, he thought that was rude.  At that moment, I realized how much on “our side” he had become.  Whenever a celebrity got near our section, he would stand casually blocking the exit from our section until they stopped to talk to us.  Theo and Shailene were still making their way around to us and it was well after 8pm.  When Shailene was visiting with the “Make a Wish” young lady, NOBODY called out to her, they gave her time and space to spend time with her.  I was so proud of the fans at that point.  Casey was getting distracted by a media guy that kept walking around because he looked like he could have come straight out of one of the books we like to read with his unruly longer hair and tight clothes.  Meanwhile, I glanced up and caught sight of the one and only Theo James who locked eyes with mine and took 9-10 steps straight to me.  When he was a couple of steps away, his arms went up and mine mirrored his.  Without a word spoken we embraced.  As I was inhaling his fresh, clean scent with my head over his shoulder he spoke to me in his low English-accented voice saying, “I was going for a mouth to mouth kiss.”  FANGIRL DOWN!!!!!!!!  I was in Fangirl heart failure at the moment and stupid fell out of my mouth, “I’m a happily married woman!”  We both laughed and he happily signed my book first before moving on to Katie and Sarah.  He took a selfie with Katie’s phone but it was blurry and I was looking at him like I thought he was crazy:

image

So he offered to take another one so I could get Casey in it too… (Are you sensing the time he spent with me/us here???)  I told him Casey had a question for him and she asked what cologne he wears.  He told us he doesn’t wear any so I asked why he smelled so good to me.  He smiled and informed us it’s all natural.  I asked if maybe he wears a fragrant deodorant, and he said he thinks it’s the CVS brand.  Apparently, his phermones were pleasing to my senses!!  Much like his handsome face!!

image

It’s okay with me if you swoon with me here.  Casey described it best the next day when I was trying to process what had happened and she said, “He seemed to really like you, that was obvious.  It was obvious you had some kind of connection.”  It was purely a beautiful moment for me.  I may never get over it!  Our gift to him had the funniest thing on the back.  Part of the note said, “Ever since we saw you riding bareback on Downton Abbey, we’ve been anxious to see your bare back again.”  Okay, so it’s a little cheesy but what’s a fangirl to do?!?

Shailene spent the better part of 15 minutes with our young lady friend and her guests.  When she was hugging them all good-bye I heard her say to the mom, “I’m sending you so much strength, love and support.”  There is not much more a mother wishes to hear.  You will NEVER hear either one of these fangirl moms express any disappointment about not meeting Shailene that night.  She spent her time where she should have and our hearts were full from that!

We did see Ansel’s agent hanging around after Shailene walked away though.  We asked if she would please deliver our gift to Shailene and she agreed.  Later on, she stopped Katie and told her she had given it to Shailene.  However, that would have been the end of it if our hero Jeff hadn’t gotten involved.  We had seen a cameraman in the media section taking some pictures of Theo and Ansel talking with us.  I asked Jeff to find out where we could find those photos.  He actually acquired a business card for us.  The next day I tweeted and emailed that photographer AreJayImages and he tweeted back this picture!!!

image

Just look at what she has in her hand as she exits the theater!!! We would never have even hoped to see her holding it with our own eyes.  After we walked away from the red carpet I began to wonder if it was all real. But then I just opened my book and saw this:

image

Another successful Fangirl Moms adventure in the “books”.