Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read with My Dream Book Club

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
Having a book club would be so useful so that 1. I can stay on top of my reading, 2. have people I can discuss feeeeeelings with, and 3. to not only have a "support group" of some kind, but to develop great bookish relationships. Below are books that are mostly coming out this year and would be great conversation starters. 

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Why: to admire Robin Benway and to compare against other disappearing and reappearing best friend books.

Why: to recap on our feelings of the first book then talk about all the historical/nazi elements involved and the TENSION.

Paperweight by Meg Haston
Why: to talk about the deep stuff like suicide and eating disorders. 

Why: to ask each other "would you pay to cure heartbreak and erase your memory?" Also, I'm very interested in others' heartbreak stories. 

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
 Why: to talk about everything involved with organ donating. It's a fascinating subject for me. 

After Hours by Claire Kennedy
Why: honestly, I just really want to know about everyone's job and dare experiences

The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen
Why: we can be typical girls and complain about guys. 

Why: THE CUTENESS. I want to talk about the cuteness! 

Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Why: to appreciate one of the best romance trends. Another "let's read this as a group so we can squeal about the cuteness." 

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Why: if by some chance I'm not the only one who hasn't read this, we can support each other!

What books would you want to discuss? Do you have a book club? 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: SOULPRINT by Megan Miranda

Title: Soulprint
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: February 3, 2015
Source: an ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.
*Any quotes were taken from an ARC and may be changed.

Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.

I actually had a surprisingly easy time getting into this one until I was interrupted and had to wait a few days to resume. Connecting with the narrator's voice is high up on my "needs to happen" list while reading. Megan Miranda succeeded. 

I love me some sci-fi and dystopian-like worlds, but I wondered if I'd be able to actually understand it all. Souls are passed on when someone dies to a newborn baby so you don't just have your parents' DNA in you, but you have someone else's soul inside of you. Alina had a tougher time since she was stuck with a criminal's soul and locked up for it. But she fought to be different than June, her soul, and wanted everyone to see that they were different. Most importantly, she wanted to be free and be herself without any stigma of June attached. 

I want to stop chasing the last life and live this one instead.

While some parts seemed to drag a bit, I was fine with it. Personally, I focused more on how "real" it seemed, just like Mockingjay became slow in parts, it was realistic. I won't even get into how people bash on Mockingjay for really no reason if they think about it, but as for Soulprint, I thought it was nicely paced. The whole book is her being on the run. On the run from different people and in a search to be free from June, but also to solve the mystery surrounding June. So with her being on the run (with the cute Cameron and his sister Casey), you're going to get high action and then slow "let's think and wait" scenes. And I honestly didn't notice too much anyways (and there IS action, plenty of it, really).

I really liked the "surprise" that happened somewhat early on in the book, but still a bit disappointed that I guessed it from the absolute get-go. I want to say more, but I think it's classified as a spoiler, so you can message me if you want to talk! 

None of the characters truly shined for me so while I didn't have that connection with any of them (sadly that includes Alina), I was invested with the plot. More specifically, I was invested in the idea of the plot. Some serious ethical questions are raised in this and, yes, just like The Hunger Games, these things can happen. Not the souls being transferred exactly, but everything that affects Alina. She's locked up for crimes she didn't do, but that her soul did. The government (or whoever, really, I never did quite understand) appeased the public by showing her once a year and giving her access to normal things (side note: another thing I didn't understand was that she had a computer. They monitored her, we all knew, but come on, she couldn't get help or code things?). But the government still hid her away and essentially stripped her of every right. 

Speaking of the government, this quote really connected with our present day, yes? 

"Who controls the power? Not the president, or congress, or people even. They're all figureheads. Puppets. Chess pieces. It's the people who are in the shadows who determine what we see and how we see it...what gets reported, what gets covered up?"

Having been in several mass communications/mass media classes where they talk about this, it was a very HEY! THIS SOUNDS FAMILIAR moment for me. In my class last semester, my professor taught about how the media and the people "behind the scenes" control the power. If you don't know something, it didn't happen, right? (Anyone else thinking of our man Denton from Newsies who explained that if it's not in the papers, it didn't happen?) 

It also makes you think about life and how you need to focus on the now. People will try to remind you of the past...

"So you see," he says, "it's not just the past life that can come back to haunt you. It's the past in this life, too."

But that robs you of many great now moments. I think that you should resolve what you can of the past, but sometimes, you have to take a page out of my friend Taylor's book.

And shake it off.
I could've let the lack of character connection go, but what robbed me of giving it five stars was the fact that I was so confused. I really tried to understand in the end with what their motivation was (yes, power and money and all that jazz) and the mystery was behind it all and who was behind it and...it was just confusing. I think I somewhat understand it now, but it involved way too much thinking on my part. Of course, this might just be me. 

Verdict: I'll be having more of Megan Miranda's writing, thank you.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Ultimate Book Binge

If none of you have ever book binged before, whether it's a 350 page contemporary or two-book series, you need to live more. During a book binge, nothing else matters. For me, usually, I'll read some of the book and when I come back later, that's when I binge. I'll read the last half of the book in one sitting and feel a complete rush when I finish. I'll ride on that high until an hour later and realize that I'm not ready to read another book just yet.


And that's when I realized what book binging really was.

For 18 years, I never read or watched Harry Potter, not even a movie trailer (although I did see the first 10 seconds once when I was changing the channel on ABCFamily). I knew I would once I turned 18, but even when my birthday came and went, it wasn't the right time. Transitioning to college, not enough time, so nervous that I'd be the black sheep. I didn't want to be that girl who waited all these years and ended up in the depths of despair because I couldn't even get past the first book or finish the seven-book series.

My winter break was quickly closing and I realized I needed to start the series. I figured I would continue reading through spring semester and hopefully finish by the end of my first year at college.

I finished in nine days. From December 22nd to December 31st, I devoured this new world. In nine days, I finished the whole 7-book series plus a contemporary (Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn). I started and finished the Half-Blooded Prince and the Deathly Hallows* in one day. I made this Tumblr post about it afterwards.
(*Technically, I finished at around 2am the next day, but it was a continuous read and when I do that, I count that as "late" that night)

It was the biggest book binge I ever did and it was exhausting, but exhilarating. 

Since this is 2015, almost everyone (especially in the bookish community) has read Harry Potter. So you all know how long those books are hi Order of Phoenix. But most importantly, you know how great it is to be in that world. 

I haven't been living under a rock so even before I read the series, I knew who the characters were. I knew most of the plot points. However, here's most of my major reactions for things as I cashed in my Harry Potter virgin card.

1. Hermoine Granger is the most wonderful character ever. She's even better in the later books when Ron becomes more of a jerk and Harry has his moments. She continually saves them and voices reason. You do you, Hermoine.

2. Quirrell was a surprise.

3. The characters had a lot of stupid moments, but characters tend to do that so I tried to brush it off.

4. I have such mixed reactions for Hermoine and Ron. On the one hand, I don't like them together because I feel that Hermoine can do way better. On the other, how can you NOT ship Hermoine and Ron? I'm such a sucker for friend-turned-lover relationships.

5. Hermoine's "I don't want to be second place" line during her screaming match with Ron is one of my favorite romance tropes.

6. There was one death I didn't know about ahead of time and when I found out before I actually read it, I FELT ALL THE RAGE. That's not even right.

7. However, there was also a death that I knew about, but didn't know how it was supposed to work out because of all the issues involved.

8. I never realized how much I'd love Dumbledore, especially when he sheds a tear and explains his whole thought process with Harry. Dumbledore rocks.

9. I knew Snape's history, but I loved his flashback so, so much.

10. And then Harry with the stone and his mom and IT WAS TOO MUCH.

11. I finished the Deathly Hallows at around 2am, remember, but I felt all the feels when finishing.

Verdict: I am a Potterhead. 

Now I need to go back to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal so I can experience it with a new perspective and a deep appreciation and understanding. Because the first time I went, my eyes almost popped out when my middle school friends said they wanted to get butterbeer and my naive self thought it was actually alcohol. Oh, how naive I was. 

I've already started the second half of the Harry Potter journey by starting the movies and will mourn the day I'm officially done. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Never Read

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
So many great 2014 books I never got to read. I don't even know where to start. HOW do you do this sort of thing? Well, I rummaged through 2014 Top Ten TBR posts and picked 2014 books I listed, but didn't read. Also, I picked a few from Goodreads. There were great ones left behind.

Hungry by H.A. Swain
The title describes my whole life. But for all seriousness, the synopsis sounded really interesting and my sister had a copy, so I can't believe I never got around to reading it. 

Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs
Can you see a theme here?

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Many, many great reviews about this one. I need it.

Firebug by Lish McBride
Again, SO MANY GREAT REVIEWS. And it's about fireeeee!

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
I seemed to have avoided a lot of series enders in 2014 and I think it's because I was already going through so much, ending and beginning things, I just couldn't handle more trauma. And I feel like this would certainly give me heartbreak.

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
I need to remedy my 2014 mistake. 

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Another series ender that I need to get to, but I don't know if I can handle.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Fantasy, fantasy, fantasy. I had this in my winter TBR for 2014, but ended up binge-reading Harry Potter instead. Sooo....

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
Lauren Miller! I adored Parallel so I'm bumping this one up on my TBR. 

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
I think this was on every Top Ten Tuesday TBR list I had in 2014. 2015 will be the year!

What books do you wish you had gotten to in 2014? 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 End of Year Book Survey Part 2

Again, graphics are being wonky for me.
On Friday, I posted part one of The Perpetual Page-Turner's annual end of year book survey. If you missed it, here it is. Today is part two, which includes the blogging side of the survey and looking ahead to 2015.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 
Many great ones, but this goes to Booked Til Tuesday by Kel. Not only is her blog great and I love seeing her artwork, but she's one of the nicest people (I got a Christmas card!) and we're book buddies for the very very likely possible BEA.  

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 
I feel like I keep mentioning it too much, but a fun review was probably Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. I loved pairing all the gifs together of different Disney movies that it seemed to incorporate.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
In my post Surfin’ in the USF I basically recap the beginning of college. It’s purely selfish, but I like it because while it’s general, I can look back at it later in life and realize what happened. Other favorite posts are mostly Top Ten Tuesday related. 

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
The Bloomsbury Shindig! I was invited to participate in this virtual revealing of 2015 books and I loved looking at faces of Twitter folk, but also see all the great books that are coming out.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Jennifer Lynn Barnes recognized me!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Can I just lump all the reviews in this answer? 

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Sometimes if you go to a publisher tent at a book fair at the end of the day, they’ll give you a new hardcover for super cheap. This year wasn’t filled with many bookish discoveries.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo.  

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE! I made a whole list about it here. But if I had to name at least one book, unsurprisingly, my mind instantly goes to Ally Carter’s All Fall Down. Coming out this month!

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Like I said on my Top Ten Tuesday list, I really want Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud (coming in July). It hurts how much I want it. 

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
I feel like this is one I’m completely blanking on, but The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski looks wonderful. And FINALLY, we’ll have Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (both out in March.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
I also made a list about that here. But I also want to accomplish making changes to this blog. That’s such a vague statement, I know, but you’ll see. 

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Er, I was so swept up in Harry Potter that I haven’t gotten around to my 2015 books. I do recommend The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, which comes out in March! 

And that's it! I hope you have a great 2015!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 End of Year Book Survey Part 1

[Sorry, for some reason the graphics are all wonky in coloring]
 Another year has ended, which means it's time for the 2014 end of year book survey, which is hosted by Jamie at the Perpetual Page-Turner. Today will be Part One and on Sunday, check back in for Part Two. I also added a few questions of my own in the reading stats because my reading log is extensive and I thought it a shame to not use it. Organization is wonderful.

Number Of books you read: I read 53 books this year, which is really sad. I didn't even complete half of my goal, but I should've realized how many changes I'd be going through and how busy I'd be.

Number of re-reads: The number above does not reflect rereads because I didn't keep track of those. However, I estimate the number of rereads to be 3.

Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary wins out at a total of 32 books. Fantasy came in second place at 16, sci-fi at 2, then mythology, historical, and dystopian tying at 1.

Format You Read the Most Out of: I read 20 e-galleys, 17 hardcovers, 11 physical ARCs, and 4 paperbacks.

Source You Mostly Used: 26 from the publisher, 14 from the library, 5 from Shae, and the others from various sources.

Publisher You Read the Most From: 16 from HarperCollins, 7 from Scholastic (all Harry Potter), 6 from Bloomsbury, 6 from Macmillan, 5 from Simon & Schuster, 4 from Disney Hyperion, and 2 from St. Martin's Press. Harlequin, Hachette, HMH, Random House, and Penguin all tied at 1.

I was going to list how many ratings I gave books, but it got confusing. I actually had 9 5-star reads though, which I think is a win. And mostly all my reads were published in 2014.

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
And of course, I couldn't possibly pick only one so I'm breaking it down by...contemporary and fantasy. That's embarrassing. I realized these two dominated the game so here's the best contemporary and best fantasy!

Contemporary: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Fantasy: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski with a second place tie between Crown of Embers by Rae Carson and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (and the Deathly Hallows)by J.K. Rowling

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I DNF'd it and skimmed the ending.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Technically, I pushed my beloved favorites from previous years more. But from the books I read this year, I probably pushed The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski the most and Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson recently.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Best series: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, hands down.
Best sequel: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes...again, hands down.
Best series ender: I actually didn't finish many series (and I read a lot of standalones), but The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson deserves this title.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
SO MANY. How can I choose? Emery Lord, Rosamund Hodge, and J.K. Rowling will now forever by in my heart.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
This doesn't really apply to me, but I guess I'd have to say Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, which was in a mythology-type of genre.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER. Specifically Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I had already started and finished a HP book that day and then decided to start and finish that one in the same day as well.

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg and The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, no doubt.

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Hermoine Granger because she kicks butt in brains and power.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
I’m not sure. I wish I had put these kind of details in my spreadsheet! Don’t Touch or Cruel Beauty, I guess.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson or Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Wait for it...Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Were you expecting anything else?

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
There were many that stood out to me (especially in Harry Potter), but I tweeted out this one:

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” - Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?
Shortest: 256 pages - Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana and Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita

Longest: 870 pages - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Excluding the plethora of surprises througout Harry Potter (although that in of itself is surprising since I knew so many deaths beforehand), KILLER INSTINCT BY JENNIFER LYNN BARNES! She always manages to surprise me.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Even after all this time, I instantly thought of Elisa and Hector from the Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The great Harry Potter trio (he sought them out afterwards, which I thought incredibly important) and all the Cress friendships.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
I don’t think it’s fair if I count series in here so it’d have to be Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. I never read the back cover until many, many people recommended it.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
I did feel rather flushed when reading about Aelyx from Alienated.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I already said I loved Rites of Passage, so not counting that, Alienated by Melissa Landers was so much better than I hoped.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Landline by Rainbow Rowell, The DUFF by Kody Keplinger,

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. ROLLER COASTER OF EMOTION.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Alienated by Melissa Landers! And I still think Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt needed more recognition

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
If it made me tear up, of course Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows crushed my soul.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
If by unique you mean diverse, Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson and Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy because I hated the main character, but oddly still liked the book.

Don't forget I'll be having Part Two of this survey on Sunday!