Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Queen of the Tearling

Hey guys! - I've decided not to keep going with my Pandora list, mostly because I have a lot of charms, and it takes a while to make one of those posts. 

I just finished a book last night, The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen. I was first interested in reading the book when I read online that Emma Watson would be producing the film version and would star as the protagonist, Queen Kelsea Glynn (Raleigh). Although the book was marketed as a combination of the Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, I didn't see it that way, but the book was still an interesting read. I got the book on my Nook, so it was not long, only 340 pages or so. 

The novel starts with a 19-year-old Princess Kelsea Raleigh being escorted from the little cottage she was hidden in with Barty and Carlin, by her late mother's Queen's Guard. Kelsea is described as a plain girl with green eyes, a bit on the chubby side. 19 is the age of coronation in the Tearling, a poor kingdom with little resources, and now it is time to ascend her deceased mother, Queen Elyssa Raleigh's, throne, which is occupied by her uncle, the Regent, Thomas Raleigh. In truth, though, her uncle is merely a puppet of the neighboring kingdom, Mortmesne's, monarch, the sorceress Red Queen. Her uncle has been hunting her down and hires the Caden, a group of skilled assassins, to kill her, determined to not have her crowned. She finds out many things about her kingdom along the journey to the Keep, in New London, the truth about her mother and her kingdom and many other important things were hidden from her by her adopted parents. She meets and gets to know several people along the way, including Lazarus (the Mace), the most renowned and effective Queen's Guard, and the Fetch, a mysterious and frightening master of thieves that appears to want the best for the Tearling and its people and deeply detests her uncle. From the very beginning, it is obvious that Kelsea is very different from her mother, who was vain and weak. She makes it to the Keep alive and deposes her uncle and is made Queen, but the job is definitely not easy. I won't say more, you'll just have to read for yourself! 

The book has several points of view, including the Red Queen of Mortmesne, who is unnerved by Kelsea Raleigh, her uncle, Thomas Raleigh, Javel, a Gate Guard of the Keep, Father Tyler, a priest who crowns Kelsea, and the Fetch. 

Many things are left unanswered in this book. I wanted to know more, like the identity of Kelsea's father, the Red Queen's background (and her real name), the Fetch's background and also, his real name. I had a feeling that he was Kelsea's biological father, but that would be weird, especially since Kelsea develops an unhealthy crush on him. I also wanted to know about Queen Elyssa's fate. Kelsea definitely isn't the most interesting character in the book. For me, The Red Queen and the Fetch were much more fascinating. 

The book has its faults, that I can't argue with. Some things don't add up or just don't make sense, especially regarding the history of the Tearling. I hope the author clears this up in the next books in the series. The Tearling seems to exist in the same world as America and Europe, as William Tear and his people sailed there, but did this land mass just suddenly pop out of the ocean or what? A lot of things are confusing in the book. Nevertheless, the book was a decent book to read by the pool over the last few days. 
Kelsea Raleigh, Queen of the Tearling

Also, just a warning: I honestly expected this book to be like Harry Potter in the sense of its innocence. But this book has its share of gore and profanity and does make many references to sex and rape. I would compare the violence to that in Game of Thrones instead of the Hunger Games. Definitely a step up for Emma Watson, huh? From wands and broomsticks to beheadings and romance that's more mature than Hermione and Ron's love story was...

I'd give the book 3.5/5 stars. I'm hoping that Emma Watson will make the film much better than the book. Otherwise, I don't see why she signed on for this series after Harry Potter. I don't know how they're going to portray Kelsea in the film, because Kelsea is not quite ugly and doesn't have any sophisticated, regal features, and Emma is gorgeous. Is Emma a bit too beautiful to play ordinary Kelsea? Judge for yourselves.

 Positive Review: Book Review by USA Today: 'Tearling' Combines Future and Past to Great Effect

More Negative Review: 'Queen of the Tearling' presents interesting characters, jarring anachronisms
NY Post: Emma Watson set to star in, produce 'The Queen of the Tealing'

The next book I will read is The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan. I'll write a review when I finish! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pandora #2

I'm going to diverge a bit from my list of Pandora charms that I have. There are a couple of extremely rare Pandora charms I love, but anytime I find them, they exceed $500, sometimes even over $1,000 and I definitely do not have the money for that. I'd love to get my hands on each of them! 
Indsamling Gold Feather charm

1) Indsamling Gold Feather Charm - This is a charity charm that Denmark companies and Pandora released to benefit children in Africa. Released in early 2012, this charm fetches a pretty penny as it was only released in Denmark. Perlen was willing to ship out of the country, but it was a limited edition charm. It would be a wonderful addition to my gold charms bracelet! 

2) Royal True Love Charm - Released in 2008 to commemorate the wedding of Prince Joachim of Denmark to Marie Cavalier. This charm has two enamel red hearts with gold crowns, and on the back is their wedding date, 24/5 2008. There is a general version of this charm that is widely available, but it doesn't have the engraved wedding date. 

Royal True Love charm
Royal Denmark Cathedral Charm

3) Royal Denmark Cathedral Charm - Another charm that celebrates a royal wedding, between Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson. The charm is the shape of a church, and has a gold crown on the bottom and their wedding date, 14/5 2004. This charm is extremely rare, as only 1,000 were made. 

Pandora Cruise Charm 2013
4) Any of the Pandora Cruise Charm - One of my vows is to attend the Pandora cruise getaway, but until then, I have to simply covet the exclusive charms. Pandora makes as many charms as there are guests, so that could be less than 200! 

There are other charms I want, like the Staff Charm, but these are the top ones. 

Images credited to Charms Addict.

Pandora #1

I have A LOT of Pandora charms. It's an obsession, bordering on unhealthy. I've been buying the more rare and hard-to-find charms, which yanks more money out of my pockets. 

Anyway, I'm going to list my favorite charms, from first to last. I have a lot, so bear with me. 

The Christ Charm
1) The Christ Charm - A dainty little golden heart - made exclusively for Christ Jeweler's in Germany, and only 1,000 were made. I scooped this charm up on eBay for $250, and whenever one does become available on eBay, it goes for over $400. I got a deal on this one. 

2) The Star Dangle Charm - A little gold star that dangles. It's retired now, but is still kind of easy to find. I was expecting the star to be bigger, but I'm glad it's not. 

3) The "P" Charm - A charm in a global shape that has lots of P's on it, some in gold. My name starts with a P, get the picture. 
Black Friday 2013 - Let it Snow

4) Let it Snow Charm - The 2013 Black Friday charm. I bought this one on Black Friday, and stocks were depleted at my Pandora concept store quickly. It's sparkly, the only sparkly charm I have from Pandora. The charm has sparkly snowflakes on it, and '2013' is engraved. It's very pretty. 

Black Friday 2011 - Midnight Hearts
5) Midnight Heart Charm - The 2011 Black Friday charm. I bought this one on eBay. It has three black enamel hearts and one gold heart with 2011 on it. 

6) The Bear Charm - This one was a Mother's Day 2013 charm, I think. It's still widely available, but I think it's just adorable. It's a silver bear that carries a gold heart. 

7) Star Charm - This is the most expensive non-retired charm I've bought, for $150. I got it for the free bracelet promo a couple of months ago. It doesn't have as much gold as I expected for such an expensive charm, but it's a nice charm. 

8) I Love to Travel Charm - This is an exclusive charm that can only be bought on certain airlines. I got mine on eBay though. It's a suitcase, with one side being I Love to Travel (Love is a red heart on the suitcase) and on the back is the continents. It's the perfect charm for my travel bracelet. 

9) Vintage Heart - This Mother's Day 2014 charm is really nice. It's an openworks heart with a smaller gold heart inside. 

10) Tree of Life Charm - A circular charm with silver and gold leaves on it. I fell in love with it and had to get it. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Anatomy of Injustice

I know that based on my blog entries, it doesn't look like I could possibly be a college student, but it's true. My university assigned a reading assignment to the incoming freshmen, to get us accustomed to the school's academic honesty policy. We have to read this book, and then come up with a research question and make an annotated bibliography. 

I was dreading this assignment, to be honest. Reading books hasn't been my main hobby lately - movies kind of took the #1 spot - and it's rare that I finish a book I start reading. However, once I picked up "Anatomy of Injustice" by Raymond Bonner, I was completely hooked. I was genuinely surprised that any academic institution assigned me an INTERESTING book to read.  

The novel is an in-depth analysis into America's justice system - or rather, the many, many faults in our justice system, particularly in capital punishment cases. The book reads like a gripping novel, with cases sprinkled throughout the novel to make a point about an issue. The story revolves around a murder case in the 1980's, a mentally-challenged man thrown into prison for the crime, and a young lawyer's utter determination to prove his innocence. 

In January 1982, a wealthy widow, elderly Dorothy Ely Edwards, was found brutally murdered in her home, which was located in a racist majority-white community in South Carolina. Quickly, the police found the perpetrator, a 23 year old poor, mentally challenged, but incredibly polite, kind and quiet black man who worked for Mrs. Edwards from time to time, Edward Lee Elmore. This arrest warrant was based on a fingerprint of his on her doorknob, and her checkbook - he had done a job for her recently and she had paid via check. Represented by incompetent lawyers - one a drunk, the other racist, against a determined, charismatic, dramatic prosecutor, he was convicted for the crime only 40-some days after his arrest. Soon, the mainly-white jury decided on a death sentence for him. He had two more trials, both a repeat of the first, before Texas-born lawyer Diana Holt looked at Elmore's case, 11 years later. Coming from a troubled past of her own, she was fascinated with capital punishment cases. The more she studied his case, the more her resolve strengthened to help him. She was sure that he was innocent, that somebody else the woman knew committed the crime. As she fought against the state for a new trial, a fair trial, she uncovered shocking acts by the local police and the South Carolina Law Enforcement division, including hiding evidence that would indicate Elmore's innocence, planting and testing knowingly false evidence that would keep Elmore on death row, encouraging an cellmate of Elmore's to testify against Elmore, that if he did so they would "take care of him." For these reasons, among others, Elmore was imprisoned, constantly awaiting execution.

I won't tell you how this story ends, that you'll have to find out for yourself. At moments in the book I literally cried at the injustice dealt out to Elmore and other inmates on Death Row. I was angry, so angry at the human manipulation in the American justice system. The book can turn a staunch supporter of the death penalty to an opponent, if they have even a bit of compassion, empathy, and aren't racist or total rednecks, of course. I highly recommend this book to anybody, even those who don't think they would like to read a crime book. 

Get this book online using the links! 
- Barnes & Noble -
- Amazon -

It's summer now, the perfect time to grab a good book, like this one, and lay out in the sun. Happy reading! :) 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cheyenne Martin #3

Oh, I forgot to mention that Ivy Slade and Cheyenne Martin were once best friends, before Cheyenne chose to join Billings and Ivy refused. Now they are staunch rivals. And while Cheyenne is not as manipulative as Noelle was, she can still be very mean and tends to act like she is superior to everybody else.

3) Meaghan Jette Martin

Tell me what you think: Who would be the best Cheyenne Martin?

Cheyenne Martin #2

2) Blake Lively - Serena van der Woodsen 

Cheyenne Martin, The Successor

Cheyenne Martin is a Billings girl largely unmentioned in the first arc of the series, but becomes more important in the second arc of the series. When Noelle, the leader of Billings leaves, Cheyenne soon takes her place, as Kiran and Taylor, two of the most popular girls in Billings, are gone, too. Cheyenne has blonde hair and blue eyes, and wears clothes that match. Sometimes it looks like she tries too hard at making her outfit perfect. She likes the color pink.

When tragedy befalls Cheyenne, Reed becomes the president of Billings.

Several actresses' looks remind me of Cheyenne. Blake Lively and Taylor Momsen from Gossip Girl for example. I also thought of Meaghan Jette Martin. I'll post pictures of all three and let you guys choose who looks the best for the part of Cheyenne.

1) Taylor Momsen - Jenny Humphrey

I actually thought that Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf would make a good Noelle Lange. She's my second choice for the part.

More characters!

Later on in the series more characters become prominent. Ivy Slade, Cheyenne Martin, Sabine DuLac, Reed's original friend Constance Talbot has a bigger role, too. The Billings girls also have more spotlight in the second arc of the series, as Noelle and her friends leave Easton for reasons you'll just have to read the books to find out!

I'll also get to the boys at Easton, too. Josh Hollis, Thomas Pearson, Dash McCafferty, and Gage Coolidge are the boys constantly in the series (except for Thomas, but Thomas plays an important role in the series). 

I'll start with Ivy Slade. Ivy Slade returns to Easton as a senior in the second arc of the series, when Reed is a junior. She had left Easton the year before. She opposes everything Billings stands for, and hates the Billings girls with a passion. She was invited to join Billings at the end of her sophomore year, but she declined. She is an equal to the Billings girls in beauty and status, though. Ivy becomes Reed's enemy #1, believing that Ivy is determined to ruin her and Billings in the process. She has dark hair and dark eyes. 

I think of Ivy as Elizabeth Gillies as Jade West in Victorious. Like Jade, Ivy is sassy. Even though Elizabeth has blue eyes, I can see Ivy look like her. Both wear a lot of black, both look like rebellious girls who don't fit the norm, etc.