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. 


 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!

  • 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. 


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.


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 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? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

I've been trying to come up with the exact words to use for this review. It's difficult. Snow Like Ashes made me feel conflicted throughout the story, not loving it, but not hating it either. 

What I liked: 

1. The political and power aspects. About 75% of this book, I'd have to say, was about politics and power. There was war that made me picture the "FOR NARNIA AND FOR ASLAN!" scene in The Chronicles of Narnia. There were poverty and power struggles between leaders. There were scenes with strategies laid out and you felt the struggle everyone was in. I've been getting more into these type of books lately so I appreciated it all.

2. The narrative. I like first impressions are important not just for real life, social situations, but also for books. I need to like the narrative and even better, if it's from the start. I quickly got into Meira's narrative, which is always relieving when it's through an ebook. I might have had issues in the story and my interest may have fluctuated throughout, but I liked the narrative.

3. A lot of THINGS happen. It's so vague, I know. But like I said, THINGS happen and I liked that nothing wasn't ever truly settled throughout. 

What I disliked: 

1. The lack of punch. While I like that THINGS happen, I still didn't get that WOW factor. I waited for that love to kick in, for me to be hungry for more, or to feel fangirling emotions for it. But I didn't. I just nodded and went, "Okay, that's a nice book." I can't wait to read the next book, not because of how this one affected me, but because I NEED answers and closure (which is a positive actually). 

2. The looming threat of a love triangle. Like Kiss of Deception, I feel weary about how the sequel plays out the romance. Meira has always had a crush on her best friend Mather. But then this new guy shows up and throws a wrench in everything, but always stirs something up in Mather. Typical. But a love triangle doesn't actually come to life. It's implied. It's definitely hinted at for the next book. I wouldn't be surprised if it does, but oh, I'll be disappointed. So it hasn't crossed that line yet, but I hate that I felt that way throughout. 

3.  I was so dang confused. World building in a fantasy book is tricky. It's especially difficult when debut authors try to make complex worlds. Props to them, but I could've used more clarifications. I didn't really understand how the Seasons worked. At about halfway, I felt that I had a little grasp on what I was reading (eerily similar to how I feel about geometry concepts), but not enough that I could explain to others...or anywhere close. 

It wasn't the best fantasy I read, but it definitely wasn't horrible. It came close to which outweighed more: positives or negatives. But in the end, the positives won. Because of the political aspects, the few surprises (albeit some were predictable), and THINGS, I'd tentatively recommend this one. 

Verdict: Not a fantasy that I LOVE, but I'm hoping for the best (and no love triangle) for the sequel.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
I feel like I think this every time I do a Top Ten Tuesday, but this week was hard. I came close to cheating a lot by picking not only 2015 picks, but spring 2015 picks. But I did it. The first six have been published already and the last four haven't.

I've been waiting for this one. When I get a little breather during school to really appreciate another book, I want to buy this one and treat myself. Of course, it may just be a time where I FORCE a pause.

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
I've heard so many positive things for this one. I'm all for another win.

Firebug by Lish McBride
Another fire book that I've heard fantastic things about. Keep it coming, you pyromaniac authors. (This book comes out today!)

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton
This one...this one will be harder. I received an e-galley for this and have been having a horrible time connecting with the book. Need. To. Finish. Or at least get through the first several chapters. (Another book birthday!)

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
I don't know if I can do it. I've heard the cliffhanger is killer.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Another one I don't know if I can do. THERE WILL BE HEARTBREAK.

Dangerous Deceptions by Sarah Zettel
Once I got into it, I really enjoyed the first one in this series. And my sister has said raving things about it. 

Mortal Heart by Robin Lafevers
My heart will definitely feel its mortality while reading this, I'm sure, if you know what I mean.

Cut Me Free by J.R. Johansson
This really, really interesting book is waiting on my kindle. I'm so excited.

EDIT: I actually forgot two of my picks. One, The Start of Me and You, isn't out until 2015, while the other, Storm Siren, is already out. 

 The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Emery Lord! *pumps fist*

Storm Siren by Mary Weber
I've heard RAVING reviews for this one. *looks at Lauren*

What will you be reading?