Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day of Thanks and Pie


Happy Thanksgiving! Today is when people watch the parade and football, agonizingly wait for the meal, and then stuff their faces. Oh, they also—hopefully—acknowledge the whos and the whats that they're thankful for. Instead of reiterating the same "family, friends, dog" list, I thought I'd highlight just a few of the bookish things (and whos) I'm thankful for as a reader and as a blogger. 

I mentioned in a previous post (and others) that The Hunger Games was a big stepping stone for me as a reader. After tons of historical and contemporary fiction, it was the first different genre I read. Gallagher Girls is contemporary, but it was still different from the other contemporaries for me. Also, this series gave me the best bookish characters to be friends with (my greatest wish was to be a Gallagher Girl). Seraphina was the first fantasy book I ever read and the first book I read to review later for my blog. Without these books, I wouldn't love so many books so much. 

Livia Blackburne, Stacey Kade, and Jessica Brody
The authors that I've met and interacted with have been many and they've all been wonderful, but these three were milestones for me. Blackburne gave me an incredible opportunity, Kade's The Hunt was one of the first ARCs I ever received and she was the first author I interviewed, and Brody gave me the best author meet-and-greet experience (we basically became bffs in two minutes). These women and their books rock.

Bloomsbury, HarperTeen, and Disney-Hyperion
These three publishers are the nicest publishers I've worked with and read from. I can't exactly go into detail, but Bloomsbury and its publicists have really made me grow as a blogger (they're also credited as giving me one of my first ARCs as well). HarperTeen has given us all the lovely EpicReads girls to interact with weekly. Then Disney-Hyperion has continually been an absolute joy to work with (doesn't hurt that the publicist I talk to is super nice) and never fails me with their books. Overall, though, these three have published some amazing books, especially in 2014. My reading log can prove it (and will do so with the End of the Year Survey coming in December).

I'm also incredibly grateful for: 
  • Gifs
  • ARCs
  • Bloggers
  • Fandoms
  • And, of course, PIE

I'm thankful for all of you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR



Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I always loved winter, but now I have a whole new appreciation for it since going into college. Winter now = winter break = no school = EVERYTHING IS GREAT! Homemade food, no annoying floormates, no evil professors, no homework, my own room, Christmas movies...and of course, more time to read (hopefully). It's a beautiful time.


All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Release: January 27 from Scholastic

ALLY CARTER ALLY CARTER ALLY CARTER 

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Release: February 3 from Henry Holt & Co

I had mixed feelings about her previous book, Something Real, but I do know that I enjoyed her writing style. I want this.

One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin
Release: February 10 from Spencer Hill Press

Super cute romance plot alert!

Release: February 10 from Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen

This sounds like it will be really sad, but strangely enjoyable.

Release: December 9 from HarperTeen

I've heard positive things about this and since I just finished her other book, Ask Again Later, I know I'll love this. At least I hope so.


Invaded by Melissa Landers
Release: February 3 from Disney-Hyperion

*pumps fist* Landers surprised me with how much I loved Alienated, the first book, but I really shouldn't have been since Disney-Hyperion is the greatest.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Release: January 27 from Viking Juvenile

Forman is an artist at emotional books. I'm ready.

Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Release: February 3 from Bloomsbury

I actually have this one waiting for me in my dorm room! The lovely Bloomsbury ladies sent me this and I'm excited to start it soon.

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Released: October 14 (2014) from Amulet Books

I can't express how intrigued I am with this.

Released: May 13 (2014) from Feiwel and Friends

Cuteness alert. Level: 10. 

What are you wanting to read this winter?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mockingjay Part 1 + the Miami International Book Fair

My weekend has been very bookish so far. And it feels so refreshingly good.

I usually see any Hunger Games movie the night before it officially opens, whether it's midnight or 8pm. This year, though, I had to wait to see it on Friday night since my best friend, who I always go with, couldn't do it the night before. So not only did I have an extra day of pent-up excitement, but this is MOCKINGJAY. Does anyone understand this? This is part one of the most heartbreaking, stress-inducing, soul-crushing books ever.


They included direct quotes from the book, skipped a few parts (and twisted them around), and even added a few things. Like the other two movies, Mockingjay Part 1 had "behind the scene" type of scenes, what I like to call "background scenes." In the books, it's solely told by Katniss's perspective so we don't know anything except for what she tells us and thinks. However, in the movies, they can't portray that so they add scenes from the Capitol's perspective, District 13's perspective, and even gives us further insight into scenes we didn't have. SPOILER-ish: In the book, when they go rescue Peeta, all we do is wait with Katniss and rejoice when they're found. In the movie, Katniss and all of us watch them break in. The whole audience grows more tense, even though we've read the books, because we're waiting for what they find and the suspense grows. Personally, I LOVED this. END OF SPOILER. 


I tried looking up Mockingjay gifs, but the really good ones (like with Peeta) are too spoilery in my opinion. If you've seen the latest trailer, you'll know how he looks, but I think seeing his transition progress is the best way to really FEEL. I don't want to rob you of that. It's also possible that my heart broke all over again and I was feeling super emotional while looking at those Peeta pictures and gifs. 

Again, I say, if you're "Team Gale" this is for you:

He's a jerk and you obviously haven't read the 2nd half of Mockingjay
I tried to ignore any comparisons or critiques I had and watch it from a moviegoer's perspective. But there was one thing that I loathed entirely: Jennifer Lawrence's wig. It wasn't so bad when she wore her hair in a style, but when it was just down, it distracted me. (The guy who sat in my row and laughed during tense, emotional scenes visiting District 12 anyone? and whose cellphone went off didn't help either. He can go have an unhappy life.) 

And then I met some amazing authors the next day. 

My sister, her friend, and I went to the Miami International Book Fair on Saturday. First, we sat in on Robin LaFevers and Kami Garcia's panel. I recorded LaFevers, but the quality didn't turn out well and I'm too lazy. Basically, she gave us a rundown of her books (Garcia, too). But it was really interesting to hear about how she came up with the idea. She found Brittany, which is a region of France, and its cultural and historical roots. Also, Anne of Brittany is pretty cool, and she talked about her influence with the series so I suggest researching her up. As for Kami, she was hilarious and I could've probably listened to her for a long time.

Shae and Robin meet. I snatch a selfie with her. 

Shae is Ms. Robin's assistant and after the signing, she took us to the author's suite (a big room filled with all the authors from the HUGE event) to talk. 

This doesn't even do it justice for how many people were in here
Then we said our goodbyes and got in line to have Maggie Stiefvater sign our books. 


An hour or so later, we listen to Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Melissa Marr talk for their panel. They completely captured my attention. I inwardly begged to listen to more because I'm so intrigued by Barnes' psychology brain and Marr's insight from her own personal situations. 

 AND SHE RECOGNIZED ME! 

 Afterwards, the guy who was in charge of the HarperCollins booth made me a deal and gave me a brand spankin' new hardcover of Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (one of my 2014 favorites) for only $5. I hugged it all the way to the car.

My $5 favorite and the three signed books! 
I'm feeling overwhelmed with school (my tweets are proof) and I'm trying to take advantage of being home for about 10 days, but having two days devoted to books (even if it's a movie adapted from a book) was worth it. I thank my friends for dealing with my fangirling tendencies before, during, and after Mockingjay Part 1. And I thank my sister for brining me to the book fair.

Have you seen Mockingjay Part 1 yet? Have you read any of the books above? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award


I was tagged by Lili from Lili's Reflections. Not only did I love reading her questions and answers, but it was a fun blog post to do!

Guidlines: 
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their website.
  • Post the award's logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions you have been asked.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers and ask them 10 other questions. 

Questions:

When and why did you start blogging? 
I started in October of 2012 after my sister pressured me to. A whole community who loved books as much as I do? Sign me up.

What is your favorite genre and why? 
This is awful. How do you pick? I guess I'd have to say fantasy. I honestly love many genres for different reasons. Contemporary comes close because it was my first love and dystopian is third because it introduced me to a whole new world of books. But I guess I'd have to pick fantasy because I have read so many great (and diverse) books in this genre that I think happy thoughts.

Recommend a book you love that you think deserves more hype. 
I'll always say Gallagher Girls, but I LOVED Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley and didn't see a lot of feedback. Maybe I missed something, but I think it deserved a lot more hype.

Aside from reading, what are your favorite hobbies?
Of course I get asked this when I feel completely lost in a list of have-tos. I guess working out, but that's a love/hate relationship. Basketball, maybe. Does watching TV count? oh my gosh I sound boring

Top 3 books you have ever read?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, and Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (although The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes comes close)

Who are your favorite authors and why? 
Ally Carter, hands down, because she wrote two amazing series, which was a stepping stone for me in YA. Meg Cabot, Janette Rallison, and Jen Calonita, because their contemporaries make me happy. Marissa Meyer, because she's a genius. And so many more.

What is the best book you have read so far this month?
Well, I haven't read this much this month, but even so, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord.

What book is responsible for the reader you are today?
I could take this question so many ways. If it's for the "more mature than juvenile" reading, then The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick. If it's to show that my sister actually has good tastes (which is very important to how I am now), then it's Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy. But if it's for the diverse-loving reader (who doesn't snub non-contemporary books) I am today then it's all to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

I over-answered this question, but I didn't think it fair to ignore such important books.

Do you collect anything other than books?
You could probably count notebooks/notepads. I love notebooks and never want to throw them away. I'm such a pro-notepad kind of girl too (yellow legal pads make me happy to write on).

Tell us a weird fact about yourself that we probably didn't know.
I'm super picky in my personal music. I don't mind listening to the radio (I actually enjoy it) or to others' music. But when I'm listening to my headphones, I can only stand certain music. Usually it has to make me feel something, I can daydream to it. I love OneRepublic and all, but oldies are my jam.

My nominees: 
1. Jen at Starry-Eyed Revue
2. Lisa at Lost in Lit
3. Danielle at Love at First Page
4. Kel at Booked til Tuesday
5. Emily at Forever Literary
6. Emma at Awkwordly Emma
7. Jessica at Just Another Teen Reading
8. Marley at Flyleaf Review
9. Lauren at Love is not a triangle
10. YOU! 

Questions for YOU: 

1. What YA book to movie adaption is your favorite?
2. Do you listen to music while you read and if so, who's your go-to artist?
3. What's the best book you read this year?
4. What's your favorite and least favorite genre to read?
5. What did you rate the last book you read and why? (DNFs count)
6. Do you like reading outside or inside better?
7. Who's your favorite OTP? (one true pairing/fictional couple)
8. Gifs or no gifs in reviews?
9. Do you read more ebooks or physical copies?
10. What's one book you wish everyone would read?

What would you answer to the questions I was asked and to the questions I'm asking you? Tell me below or make your own blog post! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review: KILLER INSTINCT by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: Killer Instinct
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publication date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: an ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.
All quotes may be changed from ARC to publication.

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.



Spoilers from the FIRST book MAY be ahead. Proceed at your own risk if you haven't read the Naturals.


First line: The majority of children who are kidnapped and killed are dead within three hours of the abduction.

Not to sound like an utter psycho, but I felt immediately assured that this sequel would meet my expectations after I read the first page line. 


What made such a strong impression on me when I started Killer Instinct was that it felt like my favorite crime shows. The characters may have dealt with a huge shock in the last book (I almost needed CPR last go-around) and they were still sifting through their emotions, but we were already introduced to a new crime. Just like, say, Blacklist there's a major plot line running through, but we see them dealing with new issues as well. The first case we see in Killer Instinct is not the main one throughout the story, but does a great job of leading us back into the characters' lives. 

The real case, however, deals with college students and a suspected professor. First of all, it seems like college crimes are a must have at least once in a crime series (which I love, don't get me wrong, but being a young female in college makes me conflicted). Fortunately, this book doesn't get carried away with cliches. Instead, it makes this normal college crime scenario anything but normal. 

It also dives deeper into the mysterious Dean's life, specifically his serial killer father. If you thought you had daddy issues, you have NOTHING on Dean. Zero. I won't get into detail about Dean's past because if you read this book (which you should), you'll find out and that's part of the fun. Because of this path that the book takes, we find more about Dean's and even Lia's past. Also, this causes Cassie to think about and help Dean more. Of course, that also makes us more aware of her love triangle at hand, but I really think that Barnes does such a great job with the love triangle that I'm not bothered by it. The love triangle is not a big issue in the plot (hello, they have other stuff to worry about), but there's still enough scenes for it to not become stagnant either. 

While I love (and I mean love) the character development, even the new characters, and plot in this sequel, the twists made me enjoy the sequel even more. Just like the first book, Barnes included some of the best twists I ever read. Not only did I become sucked into the story so much that I forgot I wasn't actually in it, but when the twists came along, I was blown away. I might have rivaled the characters' surprise. 


All of the characters are still dealing with what happened before in the first book, but new conflicts arise, making the plot fresh. More sequels need to learn this. A major theme can carry through the story, but it shouldn't become stalled. There should be progress and analysis even, but something to keep me interested. So once again, I applaud Barnes and Disney-Hyperion. 

Verdict: One of the best (if not THE best) sequels I've ever read. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Need to Read

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
So not only have I been in a MAJOR blogging slump and had to start a new blog for class, but there was a big pot of drama happening in the blogosphere this past weekend. Really, it was more than drama. It was WRONG. A criminal offense. A sickening situation. I'll leave the link (that does not contribute in pageviews) HERE. So I blame all of this for forgetting about the Top Ten Tuesday that I was actually going to do. Thus, I tweaked the list.

Series I need to start: 

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
EVERYONE is talking about Blue Lily, Lily Blue this year and I obviously need to catch up and see what all this commotion is about. Also, Stiefvater was against Hale's actions, even better!

Splintered by A.G. Howard
The covers are so preeeeeeetty. Ever since the first one came out, I've said I wanted to read it. Why haven't I yet?

The Archived by Victoria Schwab
I have no excuse. This one has been on so many TTT lists and is on my bookshelf for Pete's sake. Need. To. Start.

If Only by Various Authors
It looks so cute and its publisher is Bloomsbury and I've heard positive feedback about how fun it is. I must have, especially in this dark time (otherwise known as "college"). 

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein
I read a few chapters of this while housesitting and wasn't able to finish because I had to go back to my own house. I NEED TO READ MORE. Bonus: big voice in being against Hale!



Series I need to finish:

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
I've heard it's anticlimatic, which plays into my hesitation, but why must such a good thing end?

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
I've gone back and forth on how I want it to play out love triangle-wise (and PSA: I do not like love triangles) and since I finally determined a side, I'm scared to be wrong. 

Split Second by Kasie West
I read every Kasie West as soon as it comes out. I'm baffled at my unpredictable actions. But I need to finish this.

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
It deserves a spot on here, but there's nothing left to say because I put it on MANY TTTs and every time, I say I'll read it, but that the cliffhanger terrifies me (and ya'll support me in this because you know how heartbreaking it is). Another TTT repeated offender: Ruin and Rising

Deception by C.J. Redwine
Another sequel I need to read because I loved the first one, but ALSO, she was a fantastic voice in how Hale behaved badly. Go, Redwine!

What series do you love or need to read so you can love on it?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Surfin' in the USF

In August, I talked about going to college.

COLLEGE 

Once again, I say college. I did dual-enrollment, but that was living at home. I know other bloggers on here (hey, Lili!) blog in college, even with other responsibilities. I only hope I'll be able to juggle it all as well as they do someday. I never realized how difficult the transition would be for me. The actual schoolwork isn't so bad, but suddenly I'm procrastinating my time a lot more. 

In the first week, I tried to really put myself out there socially. I went to almost all of the events, hung out with my floormates constantly, and had a minuscule amount of "me" time. All I wanted was to watch some The Big Bang Theory, ya'll. I finally did, but was developing procrastination issues. 

But here's what's been happening so far.


I've been trying new things...

Like rowing! Okay, I quit it recently, but I stuck it out for a month. I woke up at 5am Monday to Thursday EVERY week. The practices lasted unofficially from 5:45 to 8am, possibly a little longer. Land workouts (running, core, the machines, calisthenics) and water workouts (technique on the boat) happened every week. Surprisingly, rowing has more to do with the legs than the arms. 

Not like that though.
I quit because of back issues along with other things, such as money and time. It was for the best, but I'm glad I tried it. 

But today (I'm writing this on Wednesday), I actually tried a pilates class! I have no strength whatsoever, but I tried it. I'll be doing even more fitness classes next week! 

I've made extreme progress in my TV shows.

Probably not something I should be proud of, but it's as if all that "me" time I was lacking came back in full force and I binged watched several shows I was behind in. And it's possible that I watched two seasons of Big Bang in one week. 

I read and received some pretty great books.


HELLO, Killer Instincts! I was a little nervous to start it since I LOVED the first book, but this sequel. Wow. THIS SEQUEL. It blew me away and got me really motivated to make time for reading. 

I also received the gorgeous German version of Where She Went by Gayle Forman, which I don't understand, but it'll look pretty on my shelf. Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson came digitally to me and man, I'm excited. As well as a print version of Soulprint by Megan Miranda, thanks to Bloomsbury. 

But I think the letter from Emma was just what I needed. 

I had many breakdowns.

I'll try to not spend too much time in this negative portion, but I think that it's important to say that I cried. A lot. It's embarrassing how much I did in these last two weeks. Depressing phone calls to my parents, feeling overwhelmed, hating change...it all happened. And again, I wonder, WHY IS THIS NOT PORTRAYED IN FICTION? I give major props to Fangirl because it is the ONLY book I've read (or heard of) that has done this. Rainbow Rowell writes Cath's transition perfectly in my opinion. Props to them. Now let's get more out there so I can feel normal. 

Food and I have an even more intense love/hate relationship.


Well, first you have emotional eating. Then you have proximity eating (meaning, I'm in my dorm, the banana nut cheerios and peanut butter are RIGHT THERE). Dining halls and dining dollars (stuff you get with your mandatory meal plan that gets you "free" food on the onsite restaurants...hello, Jamba Juice and Chick-Fil-A!). And no homemade meals. And a college student's budget. I go to the gym, but I've definitely had anxiety about weight. 

But I know who my friends are.

I've had difficulty with people here. Mainly, one girl on my floor. I've never had a bully before, but she's a semi-one. While we were undeniably close in the first few weeks, I realized she's not someone I want to be around, especially under that treatment. At the same time, I've gotten texts and calls and even visits from my friends back home. I never communicated my problems here with them, but I believe they sensed I needed them. 

I've also gotten lots of support from bloggers (you know who you are). 


Next week, I'll be doing more fitness classes. I've already done Zumba and Pilates, but I want to try something I've never heard of before. I'll hopefully try out the fencing club. I'll be trying out this other Christian organization. I'll be motivating myself to get on top of visiting blogs and working on my own...but not feeling guilty if I fail. I'll be pushing myself, but still maintaing my TV shows, let's be honest. 

I'm still getting used to USF and pushing down fears of doubt, but at least it's normal. (It IS normal, yes?) And there's your super long catch-up post. If you made it through, congrats! 

Is transition this hard for you? What was your college experience?