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 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? 

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.