Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Here is the link to the Top Ten Tuesday information from The Broke and the Bookish.

Since I missed last week's Top Ten, and I really want to share my TBR, I'm going to go with last week's topic which was Top Ten Books on my Fall To-Be-Read List.

1. Loop by Karen Akins

This has been on my TBR for awhile now, as it's a review copy. I will be reading this very soon so that I can post my review before its release on October 21st.

2. My True Love Gave to Me by various authors

To be honest, I'm not sure why I haven't already read this. I suppose I'm waiting for the weather to cool off again - this just seems like a book best read with a big blanket and cup of tea. I've actually read the first three short stories in the collection, but I'll be finishing it up before its release on Ocober 14th. 

3. The Only Boy by Jordan Locke

I bought this one quite awhile ago, then my TBR piled up and it had to be pushed to the back. I really hope to make time for it by the end of Autumn.
4. The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

I couldn't even tell you how long I've been meaning to read this book. This is a book that's been on my TBR forever that I REALLY need to finally read. I've read a sample of it and just know it'll be fantastic.
5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This is another I've been meaning to read forever. I'm a little afraid I won't like this one, which is why it's taking me so long - however, it seems that everyone's read it, and I really want to at least say I've given it a chance.
6. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I would love to read this entire series. My plan is to read books one and two before the release of the third book, so I'm prepared and can read that (hopefully) very soon after its release. We'll see how it goes!

7. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I wanted to read this when it was first released, but I still haven't found time. I'm really hoping to get to it soon as possible, because I really miss Rainbow Rowell's writing! Her books are some of my favorites.
8. Slated by Teri Terry

I have a buddy read of this book coming up in late October, and I'm super excited about it! I have high hopes for this series.

This is my first time reading these books, and I would really like to finish the last two books before the end of the year. If not, it will have actually taken me more than a full year to read the series, as I started way back in January!

10. Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

This is another review copy. Since it comes out in December, I really hope to have it read by the end of November at latest. It shouldn't be hard, since I'm really looking forward to this one. (Also the cover is SO PRETTY.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Climb the Eiffel Tower by Elizabeth Hein

 I received a free review copy of this book through Netgalley.

When I first joined Netgalley, I was excited. I didn't look into some of my requests as closely as I should have. Maybe if I did, I wouldn't be faced with the challenge I have now. Or maybe I would have misinterpreted this book anyway - I really did think I wanted to read this one.

But I'm not here to tell you it's a bad book. It's not. How to Climb the Eiffel Tower isn't my type of book, but it's extremely well-written. It flowed nicely and I enjoyed the somewhat slow pacing as it helped the reader understand the characters and situation. 

Immediately starting the book we find out the main character, Lara, has been diagnosed with cancer. She's a closed-off woman with a difficult past to work through. She is also constantly exercising and part of her workout is "climbing the Eiffel Tower" through a setting on a machine at the gym. She would never think of climbing the actual Eiffel Tower, but her diagnosis and her new friend Jane change her perspective and make her realize that sometimes difficult things can be worth it.

I'm telling you about the book because I think it would be wonderful in the hands of the right reader. I think it would be touching and heartfelt and everything it was written to be.

If you're looking for complete honesty, I did not finish this book. But I didn't want to call this a DNF review, because I don't want to give the wrong impression. I went into this expecting a light chick-lit, although I knew it involved cancer from the start. I looked at the title and was excited about the Eiffel Tower, which as far as I can tell is not actually visited in the novel.

Readers who don't have these same expectations will probably love this book. Those who read more adult contemporary will probably love this book. It's one of those that I'm not sure exactly why it wouldn't click for me; it just didn't. But I encourage you to give it a chance if it interests you. And if I haven't done a great job convincing you, check out the reviews on Goodreads. So many people loved this.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why I'm Changing the Way I Rate Books

I never paid too much attention to book ratings. I joined Goodreads a couple of years ago now, which was way before I began reviewing books. I didn't even notice their rating scale (like, dislike, etc.) back then, although it is obvious. Two stars clearly means you disliked a book.

The thing is, I barely gave two-star ratings. I didn't want to be mean. I write myself, and so I thought it was harsh and surely for even writing a book an author deserved a little credit. Writing is hard!

When I didn't like a book I would give it three stars and if I did write about it, my review would be sugar-coated. I would say it was good but . . . And it was difficult for me to express my dislike, because I worried too much about the author, or those readers who liked a book, and hurting their feelings.

Maybe I'm just done sugar-coating things. As a person, not just a reviewer, I've realized a bit of a change in myself lately when it comes to making things I don't like sound pretty and nice to avoid hurting feelings. I'm not saying I plan to be hurtful or cruel in my reviews or elsewhere, but I do plan to be more honest.

I want to clear up that I don't recall ever lying in a review. However, I do think we've all been to the place where we boost a rating because it's a lesser-known book and we think the author might see. Or because it's a popular book and we should have liked it.

Anyway, my main goal for this post is to explain my rating system now, as compared to before. Because three stars used to mean, I don't like this book. It also used to sometimes mean, this book is okay. I would like to be more clear than that from now on.

1 star - I can't stand the book. Most likely, some part was very offending or awfully written.
2 stars - I didn't like the book, but didn't hate it. It just wasn't for me.
3 stars - The book is okay, but I find it to be forgettable and pretty average.
4 stars - I really liked the book, but it had its flaws.
5 stars - This book was fantastic. It really touched me or has possibly become a new favorite. It's a book I know will stick with me for awhile.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Talk: The Death Cure by James Dashner

This is a book talk, not a book review, therefore it does contain spoilers. If this bothers you, make sure you've read The Death Cure before continuing this post.

I do not have a non-spoiler review posted on the blog, however it can be found on Goodreads

After reading this, I felt so conflicted. As it's the end of the trilogy, I expected to feel more satisfied. And while I guess most of my questions were answered, that just wasn't enough.

I felt cheated so many times while reading. The first was, of course, when Thomas and everyone close to him (except Teresa, who conveniently wasn't around anyway) chose not to have their memories restored. I do admit the decision fit well with Thomas's character and it was believable, so for that reason I wasn't too upset at that point in the book.

Then we have the deaths. Newt was killed to simplify the fact that there was no cure. I'm not sure why he wasn't written to be immune in the first place, except to show Thomas losing someone very close to him - which we had already seen before. Teresa was saved only to be killed a bit later while saving Thomas who must be absolutely invincible after all that happened to him. The death of these two ruined the story for me - not only because they were cop-outs for the cure and the love triangle - but because of the impact (or lack of) on Thomas.

I don't believe for a second that anyone could go through what he did and remain hopeful afterwards. He was lied to through his entire life and it's an absolute miracle that neither him or the others have severe trust issues. That along with seeing so many of his best friends being killed wouldn't leave him hoping to be happy one day. It would leave him depressed, likely suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, and that would probably just be the start of his psychological issues. It's an optimistic outlook, but it's not reality. It's not what any real person would feel.

The lack of cure seemed to make the series a bit pointless as well. I feel like a huge theme of the series was that you shouldn't sacrifice people's lives "for the greater good." That a few people being hurt still matters and it isn't okay even if others benefit. And I feel like the easy ending ruined that. Thomas's feelings about wanting to escape are completely understandable, but the escape of those who were immune went against the rest of the novel. They're fine while the rest of the world suffers and dies - is that not just as bad, if not worse, than what WICKED was trying for in the first place?

I guess I've made in plain that this last book disappointed me. It's definitely my least favorite of the series and although the first and second books had some of these problems as well, they're bigger problems in a conclusion to a story. That said, though, I didn't hate it. I don't regret reading the series, although I'm no longer positive I'll read the prequel. This book was enjoyable, but its flaws make it difficult for me to say I liked it. Half the reason I kept reading was in hopes that things would get better and be explained more, and instead I seemed to be let down over and over.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How I Feel About Review Copies

I guess I should say now that the title isn't exactly accurate. If you were wondering, I love review copies. I created my Netgalley account alongside my blog, filling in information and learning as I went. I looked carefully at each publishers approval preferences and sighed at the realization that six followers, after all, was not a 'significant following.'

But I don't know any reader who doesn't like the idea of getting free books - the chance of getting the ones they've been waiting for all year - early.

I've planned to talk about something that's probably quite a bit more disagreeable: Readers requesting review copies, and how they read and review them.

Even before I began blogging, I would see people complain because they had so many review copies to read through. I would see them skip over books - often ones that were unpopular anyway - or read them months after their release.

The problem is, authors and publishers give away review copies in return for reviews. If they give them away early, chances are they want the review published a bit early. They want their books talked about.

I try very hard not to look at review copies as free books, because they're not. Once you start thinking that way, it's easy to brush them aside for books you would rather read. But the fact is, your review is your payment. You reading and talking about the book is payment for that free book you received.

It is not the author or publisher's fault if you requested too many review copies that month. It is not their fault if you requested a book you weren't particularly interested in or no longer have the interest to read.

Things happen, and sometimes you just absolutely don't have time for a book - so you read it late. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, when it doesn't happen all of the time. I also realize that sometimes those with a larger audience get swamped with review copies they never even requested - and that's a different thing, too.

But I don't understand requesting more and more books, while feeling overwhelmed or simply skipping over previous requests. I feel like it goes against everything review copies are made for.

I feel like most bloggers are here to talk about books, and to promote them - and I think we should stick to that. We should think about the books we request, because I know we've all been to that place where we wonder why we ever wanted to read that book. But while we're there, we should also pick that book up and give it a chance.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: Scratch by Rhonda Helms

Quick Facts
My Rating: 3.5 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: August 23, 2014

Source: Free review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Publisher: Kensington Books

Genres: New adult, romance

Summary (taken from Goodreads): The most painful scars are the ones you never see. In her DJ booth at a Cleveland dance club, Casey feels a sense of connection that's the closest she ever gets to normal. On her college campus, she's reserved, practical-all too aware of the disaster that can result when you trust the wrong person. But inexplicably, Daniel refuses to pay attention to the walls she's put up. Like Casey, he's a senior. In every other way, he's her opposite. Sexy, open, effortlessly charming, Daniel is willing to take chances and show his feelings. 
For some reason Casey can't fathom, he's intent on drawing her out of her bubble and back into a world that's messy and unpredictable. He doesn't know about the deep scars that pucker her stomach - or the deeper secret behind them. Since the violent night when everything changed, Casey has never let anyone get close enough to hurt her again. Now, she might be tempted to try.
I'd say this is your average new adult - girl with a damaged past meets boy who tries to fix her. The plot isn't anything super special. Casey is living with a roommate she barely talks to and is especially close to her grandparents, who raised her since a tragedy took her parents and sister. When she meets Daniel, she slowly learns to open up and trust others.

I do think there are parts of this worth noting, though. The music is an interesting part of the book. Casey works as a deejay, and even creates her own songs. I do wish there had been more about that - and about her safe, practical choice when it came to her college major. She took a chance with a lot of things as the story progressed, and she did think about how nice it would be to go into music. It would have been great to see her consider it more, though. Not that she was the type to toss everything else aside - nor should she - but she could have begun chasing her dreams a bit.

Daniel was different as well. He didn't do everything right, like some love interests in books, but he was genuinely a nice guy and his heart was in the right place. I like that he pushed Casey more than she wanted, and that he was willing to fight with her. It was also admirable that he could admit to being wrong.

The one thing that bothered me was their separation. When Casey wasn't around Daniel, she was miserable. Although I do think she grew a lot, I also think she should have depended on him a bit less. While she said herself that she could live without him, I just wasn't believing it. There were hints at her developing her own life and growing comfortable with herself. Maybe there should have been more of that, in order to better show Casey's independence and the fact that she could manage on her own.

Overall, this one was good so long as you aren't looking for something way different. If you know what you're getting into, I don't think you'll be let down. I definitely wasn't.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free Ebooks I've Read and Loved

I don't think there's anyone who can be new to ebooks and NOT be excited for all the freebies. During my first iBooks experience on my old (now dead) iPod, I remember finding the free section and going crazy. I downloaded books I would read, books I might read, books I never saw myself reading - but they were free!

Later on, when I discovered the Kindle section of Amazon, it happened all over. I was back daily to check up on the free books, and to see if any new ones had been added to the list. When I found out that some books were a special offer and only available for a few days, I'll admit that I checked more than daily - how could I miss out on a free book deal?

Anyway, I think this initial excitement also teaches us to pick and choose. Some of those ebooks are free for a reason - you'd feel bitter if you actually paid for them. Sometimes, maybe unfairly, I feel bitter just because I took the time to download them.

Here are a few (non-classic) free ebooks that I enjoyed.

The One You Love by Paul Pilkington

I read this one quite awhile ago, but I remember really enjoying the twists. It is a crime novel, which is different from my normal reads. The dialogue was frustrating because it didn't flow very well, but other than that this one was an enjoyable read. 

Kindle  |  iBooks


Red at Night by Katie McGarry

This is a young adult romance. It's a short story, but still amazing. I would especially recommend it if you enjoy or have yet to try her books, because I love Katie McGarry's writing.

 Kindle  |  iBooks


Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker-Smith

Normally, I probably wouldn't have downloaded this book. I had nothing to read, I was panicking because my cat ran away, and I happened to see this on iTunes. It was late, past the hours of bugging every neighbor I saw, so I curled up and read this by an open door as I waited for him to come home.
It was probably about one or two in the morning when we managed to get him in the house. I had purchased the second book in the series by then.

Kindle  |  iBooks


I hope this has helped you guys a little bit in your searching. If I find time to read some more freebies, between my endless TBR of purchased books and review copies, I'll be sure to create a part two of this post.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review: Once Upon an Ever After

Quick Facts

My Rating: 4 stars
Series: Continuation of Once Upon a Road Trip

Date Read: September 8, 2014

Source: Review copy from author

Publication Date: November 1, 2014

Publisher: Artifice Press

Genres: Memoir, romance

Summary (taken from Goodreads): Set after the events of Blount's debut memoir, Once Upon A Road Trip, this short story anthology focuses on the unusual courtship of Angeli and Vincent.

When Angeli left Minnesota on a post-high school road trip, all she wanted was to see the East Coast and finally meet some of her online friends. She didn't expect to end up in a long-distance relationship with a computer-savvy Southern boy. Yet Vincent seems determined to defy the odds. To prove his intentions, he sets off on his own quest to visit Angeli and win her family's approval. But along the way he’ll have to contend with her offbeat friends, trigger-happy father, and a few questionable run-ins with Northern hospitality.

South meets North this time around, and "normal" isn't anywhere on the map.

With a thousand miles and radically different upbringings between them, can Angeli and Vincent forge a forever-worthy bond? Or are the roadblocks they face too much for either of them to overcome?

My first impression of this book was that the writing seemed to flow better than I remembered in the first book. I also really enjoyed reading the rest of Angeli's story. It proved to be an easy read and actually managed to bring me out of a reading slump, which was greatly appreciated.

However, I did feel like something was missing. I think this was mostly due to so many parts being skipped over. That said, it is understandable - there likely wasn't much story to tell about the times Angeli and Vincent were apart. It also helped in keeping the story pretty fast-paced.

The dialogue was another flaw. I can't remember if this was a problem in the first book (I read it quite awhile ago), but at times it pulled me away from the story. Clearly it would be impossible to remember every conversation in the book word for word, but some of them seemed edited to the point where I couldn't see anyone speaking that way.

Overall, I did enjoy this a lot. It's a short, easy read and I definitely thought it was worth it. It also has many of the qualities of the first book, being a nonfiction work written so much like a contemporary that it felt like fiction at times. I really enjoyed that aspect, not being a big nonfiction reader myself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Discussion: Audiobooks

During my recent reading slump, I really got into audiobooks as a way to keep reading at least a little bit every day. For me it's usually a solution for when I'm too tired to read myself, but I have gotten into them as a way of multitasking as well. It's great to have an audiobook playing while doing boring tasks such as cleaning, I've learned.

I have been interested in this for some time, when I see others reading audiobooks. Personally, I have been sticking to classics, which can be found in so many places for free. I have an app on my iPad that I recently downloaded on my phone as well, in order to keep them more mobile.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Here is the link to the Top Ten Tuesday information from The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme is Top Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More. (I have stolen all of the author pictures off Goodreads to make things a little more interesting, since book covers don't really fit this week.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. Blount

Quick Facts

My Rating: 4 stars

Date Read: September 28, 2013

Source: Review copy from author

Publication Date: November 1, 2013

Publisher: Artifice Press

Genres: Young adult, contemporary, romance, memoir

Summary (taken from Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Angeli doesn't "fit in." She's never been on a single date, and she lives vicariously through an online world of storytelling. With the pressures of choosing a practical future path bearing down, she needs a drastic change. Too old to run away from home, she opts instead to embark on a solo 2-month road trip. But her freedom is tempered by loneliness - and anxiety tests her resolve as she comes face-to-face with her quirky internet friends.

Aside from contracting mono and repeatedly getting herself lost, Angeli's adventure is mired by more unforeseen glitches - like being detained by Canadian authorities, and a near-death experience at the hands of an overzealous amateur wrestler. Her odyssey is complicated further when she unwittingly earns the affections of two young men. One a privileged martial artist; the other a talented techie with a colorful past. 

Bewildered by the emotions they stir, Angeli spurns the idea of a doomed long-distance relationship. But she is unprepared for the determination of her hopeful suitors. In the wake of her refusal, one man will betray her, and the other will prove himself worthy of a place in her future.

Angeli sets off in search of a better understanding of herself, the world, and her place in it. What she finds is an impractical love, with the potential to restore her faith in happy endings.

A true story with an unapologetically honest outlook on life, love, faith, and adventure - Once Upon A Road Trip is a coming-of-age memoir.
This book is a memoir, but it read a lot like fiction. I'm not a big reader of non-fiction, but this didn't feel like much of a transition from my regular contemporary reads. I would definitely recommend it for those trying to ease into non-fiction.

The story of Angeli's road trip was written so honestly. It was easy to relate to the characters, and they were all portrayed in a way that felt real. I feel like it would have been so easy to leave out some of the negatives, some of the flaws, throughout the writing, but this book captured both the good and the bad very well. The writing style was wonderful and allowed the reader to feel as if they were along for the trip.

Reading about a real experience gave the book a natural, genuine vibe that most fiction books strive towards, but rarely achieve. And although I was unsure about picking this one up at first, I'm very glad I gave it a chance.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Second Blog + More Layout Changes

After months of telling myself that one blog was enough, I finally made a second. Writing Under Stars is going to be a random/personal blog where I talk about writing, art, and other things that I might think of at the time. I would love if you guys could check it out and follow if it's something you think you'd be interested in.

Also, I spent hours yesterday putting things together and getting that blog set up. The layout was made using the "simple theme" on blogger, but I finally found images to use for the header, sidebar, etc. and was able to change the colors around. That's what I plan on doing for this blog as well, so there will be more layout changes soon. Hopefully it'll be the last time in awhile that I end up changing everything.

Anyway, I'm super excited to share this with you guys, so I'm hoping you like the second blog as well as the upcoming new look!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Talk: Sway


This is a spoiler discussion of the book. If you'd like to read a review without spoilers, or any of my usual information on the book (publication, date read, etc.), that can all be found here.

I received a review copy of this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the very start, Jesse presented himself as an unlikable character. His thoughts were unfiltered and often mean, and his voice was blunt and unemotional. Still, I liked him. Of course he was a jerk, but I rooted for him all the same - to become better, to see the brighter side of things, just to get what he wanted.

It was so interesting to see things through his eyes. The thing that kept me going in this book was his voice, and the fact that I was interested in the story and what he had to say. Jesse struck me as very believable and realistic, and I loved that.

His relationships with others were also great. Mr. Dunkelman, Jesse's fake grandfather, and Pete, an unlikely friend, could be just as bad as Jesse. Their interactions made me smile, even though they were less than polite towards one another. Pete was also a nice way to bring in a character with disabilities, without putting too much emphasis on this or making him out to be the poor disabled kid. I liked that
Jesse didn't take pity on him, because Pete took enough pity on himself - which was also good to see. He had flaws and was treated like an actual character, same as the rest.

Bridget brought some balance to the story. In the middle of these grumpy, somewhat unlikable people, there is this nice, seemingly perfect girl. The way she cared for Pete and the other kids she worked with was so touching, and I adored her and Jesse together. She didn't let him go, even at the end. Her understanding was admirable and she saw right through Jesse's act - "I'm determined to like you even if you don't want me to."

I don't think there was a way not to predict the ending; it's so typical of a storyline. Guy betrays girls trust and she finds out. They still fall in love. What I liked was that it didn't feel too overused here. And at first, after everything came out, I wondered if there actually would be a 'falling in love' part.

This was when I really began to feel for Jesse. I saw it coming, him being beat up - it wasn't really hidden or used as a surprise. But hearing him admit it, that he wanted to die, had me nearly in tears. It was around the time that I knew he was sorry and that maybe it wasn't enough, but I wanted things to be okay for him. I needed him and Bridget to get together at the end of this book.

But this was also around the time that we saw how many people were happy because of Jesse's actions. Sure, he didn't seem to intend for that to happen. He called it business and didn't even like half the people he 'worked' for. After reading, though - awhile after reading - I had to wonder if, even subconsciously, he had done it all as a way of making people happy.

The thing is, the business was all about giving people what they wanted. And Jesse didn't really get much out of it - money, sure, but also favors, which he used to make another person happy. With everything that happened to his mom - depression, the drugs, suicide - it's clear that he couldn't make her happy. And a few times in the story, it's shown that he's not over it in the way that he'd like to be.
And then there's his dad, who lost a wife and is pretty messed up over it as well. I just think that, as complicated and seemingly indirect as it was, he might have been trying to make people happy for once. He wasn't doing these things for himself, but for others.

Overall, I really love this book. The more I think about it, the more I love the entire story and all the characters. It's definitely a new favorite.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: Sway by Kat Spears

Quick Facts

19286535My Rating: 5 stars

Date Read: August 9, 2014

Source: Review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: September 16, 2014

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Genres: Young adult, contemporary

Summary (taken from Goodreads): In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

From the very start, Jesse presented himself as an unlikable character. His thoughts were unfiltered and often mean, and his voice was blunt and unemotional. Still, I liked him. Of course he was a jerk, but I rooted for him all the same - to become better, to see the brighter side of things, just to get what he wanted.

It was so interesting to see things through his eyes. The thing that kept me going in this book was his voice, and the fact that I was interested in the story and what he had to say. Jesse struck me as very believable and realistic, and I loved that.

His relationships with others were also great. Mr. Dunkelman, Jesse's fake grandfather, and Pete, an unlikely friend, could be just as bad as Jesse. Their interactions made me smile, even though they were less than polite towards one another. Pete was also a nice way to bring in a character with disabilities, without putting too much emphasis on this or making him out to be the poor disabled kid. I liked that Jesse didn't take pity on him, because Pete took enough pity on himself - which was also good to see. He had flaws and was treated like an actual character, same as the rest.

Bridget brought some balance to the story. In the middle of these grumpy, somewhat unlikable people, there is this nice, seemingly perfect girl. The way she cared for Pete and the other kids she worked with was so touching.

Overall, I really love this book. The more I think about it, the more I love the entire story and all the characters. It's definitely a new favorite.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Update & Discussion: Blogging and Reading Slumps

For a long time I was reading and blogging like crazy, especially during my first months as a blogger. Everything was going so easily that I didn't consider what would happen if it stopped - if I no longer had inspiration to write blog posts.

I did consider reading slumps - it's why you're still seeing reviews. I have review posts scheduled until almost the end of September, which gives me quite a bit of time if I fall into slower reading periods.

The problem is, my recent reading and blogging slumps came around the same time. It's why I haven't been so active here, although I tried to keep it up for a bit. I needed a break, and I didn't have regular pots scheduled. I took my break anyway.

It was nice, I'll admit, but I'm ready to get back to blogging regularly now. I don't know if I'll be as active as I was in the beginning, but I will be posting daily and answering all comments still.

I had many great plans for this blog, and I haven't forgotten them. I just wanted to let anyone who was wondering know what was going on, and that I won't be quitting on you anytime soon.

Thank you so much if you've taken the time to read this all. And if you're a blogger as well, how do you stay active and out of slumps? Any tips?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Quick Facts

My Rating: 4 stars

Series: 2nd book of The Maze Runner

Date Read: August 25, 2014

Source: Purchased ebook

Publication Date: October 12, 2014

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genres: Young adult, dystopian

Summary (taken from Goodreads): Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end.

Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.

There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.

The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off.

There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive.


This series continues to be crazy and complicated. I thought things would become more clear through the second book, but I was wrong. There are still so many questions.

These books are so fast-paced. This one was even better than the first, although I really just wanted everything to end for all the kids. They have been through so much already and still have to make it through a third book!

One thing I am getting sick of is that Thomas gets into enough trouble, but always gets out of it because he's special. I'm sure there's a reason, but it's still getting old. Towards the end it became boring when Thomas was faced with danger, because it was so clear that he would be fine.

Other than that, though, and a pretty repetitive writing style - things tended to be repeated again and again - I enjoyed it. The complexity of the plot really makes up for the faults in this series. I can't wait to read the next book.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Quick Facts

My Rating: 5 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: August 25, 2014

Source: Purchased ebook

Publication Date: May 6, 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genres: Young adult, contemporary

Summary (taken from Goodreads): It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just...disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?

Go skinny-dipping?


This book is so perfect and so inspiring. It's difficult to lose friends, especially in the way Emily lost Sloane - with no warning and no way of contacting her. She really pulls through and confronts her fears, though, and I admire her for that.

I enjoyed that Emily grew so much. I feel like she really grew into herself and found this place where she was a lot less dependent on others. She learned to be a lot less judgmental, although she never judged in an awful way - just in the way that so many of us do. She took what she saw and decided that she knew people who she didn't, and I like that the book showed how misleading that can be.

She also conquered so many fears. I'm not at all sure that I would be so brave in her situation. Of course, it all starts off as a way of getting back to her safe place - being able to hide behind Sloane. To go back to being the best friend. Even so, it took courage on her part. And when she was finally checking off the list not for Sloane, but for herself, it felt like this major turning point.

The writing was great as well. It moved at a nice pace, and I was never bored. Everything had a purpose and it was fantastic. The entire book was fantastic. It did a great job of showing that things can change in an instant - and while that idea can be terrifying, it can also be hopeful and fun.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What is New Adult?

This subject has been on my mind lately. Of course I know about the New Adult genre, but I have also noticed that so many books about new adults are not classified as "New Adult books."

An example I always think of is Fangirl. This is about a girl who goes to college and finds herself. When you simplify it that much, it honestly sounds like your typical New Adult. But it's classified as YA. A couple others that I've read and wondered about are the Just One Day books. The characters are college-aged, but they're "Young Adult books."

I realize that there's a real blurry line between these two genres, especially because they're newer than others - and especially because the term genre is used so loosely to describe them. I have also heard that YA supposedly includes characters up to twenty years of age - although personally, I haven't read about main characters past eighteen that I have considered to be part of a young adult novel.

There's also the fact that these are basically just what I call "age group genres," and they are definitely a big part in the marketing of a book. Also, the two authors whose books I mentioned had previously written young adult - so perhaps it was thought hat their books would do better in that market, where they were already known.

Still, I have heard so many readers complain that New Adult shows the same stories again and again. It's like there's a formula to writing it, and nothing that's too different counts. I'm thinking that more people would enjoy the New Adult genre if it were a bit broader and included all new adult characters, rather than the ones who fit a certain frame.

What do you think about the New Adult genre? Are you a fan? Do you wish it had more variety? What are your favorite New Adult books (whether they're technically classified as NA or not)?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

Here is a link to the Top Ten Tuesday information from The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table.

 1. Samantha Reed from My Life Next Door

I really loved Samantha's character in this book. She made some really tough decisions and she proved herself to be so strong. I would like to think her bravery would rub off on me a bit. I also wouldn't mind if she brought along the Garretts!

2. Cath from Fangirl

I found myself relating to Cath so much while reading this, so of course I think we'd be best friends! We could write and be awkward and maybe she'd let me read her fanfiction. (Or we could eat. Because this is lunch.)

3. Levi from Fangirl

Obviously he's Cath's (I kind of love them together anyway), but he's still so sweet and I would love to have him at our lunch table.

I really love Dinah. She's so sweet and even though she's misguided, she's always trying to help people. She's so childish, but caring.
5. Rose from Vampire Academy

Rose has actually annoyed me quite a bit in the series, but she's also loyal and a really good person at heart. I'd like to have her around, despite her flaws.

6. Mia from The Princess Diaries

Mia's voice really made these books stand out. She's so sweet and funny. I loved seeing her grow up, even though she could act immature at times. Also, we'd have a princess at the table!

7. Maddie from Awaken

Maddie is such a complex character, and I would love to get to know her even better than I could in three books. I also think she would be a great person to look up to, especially after reading Still Point.

8. Kim from If I Stay

Kim wasn't seen a whole lot through the book, but I remember her friendship really sticking out to me both times I read it. She was great to Mia and I would love a chance to be around her and see more of how wonderful she is.

I'm cutting it short at eight this week. Don't want our table to get too crowded!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review: Dream On by M. Kircher

Quick Facts
My Rating: 2 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: August 29, 2014

Source: Free review copy from author

Publication Date: April 22, 2014

Publisher: Astraea Press

Genres: Young adult, paranormal

Summary (taken from Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old dreamwalker, Em, might have to choose—leave her mother forever in the dreamworld or save the life of hot, rebel Gabe.

Emily Dal Monte and her mother, Lily, are special. They’re humans with a glitch in their genetic code that allows them to explore the fantastic, and often terrifying, world of their dreams for as long as they choose to remain asleep. But when Em’s father is killed in a tragic accident and her distraught mother loses herself more and more in the dreams of her crumbling mind, Em is forced to support the two of them the only way she knows how, by writing down her mother’s amazing dreams and selling them as books. Enter Gabriel Sobel, the punk newcomer at Em’s high school who realizes Em is the daughter of his favorite, reclusive author. Gabe can’t figure out why Em keeps brushing him off and makes it his mission to find out what’s really going on at the Dal Monte household. He stumbles upon their shocking family secret just as Lily takes a turn for the worse. It’s up to Em, Gabe, and one very nosy book editor to hop from one extraordinary dream to the next, to find Lily and convince her to wake up before she loses her mind…and before Em loses her first chance at love.
This book wasn't for me. I have seen a number of positive reviews and the plot sounded super cool, so I went into this excited to begin. Unfortunately, it wasn't anything like I expected.

I think the main reason behind this was that I didn't like the protagonist, Emily. She had her good side - she was caring and very responsible - but that was overshadowed for me due to her constantly whining about her life and responsibilities. Many times, I felt she was feeling too sorry for herself. She also tended to be very repetitive.

This book is set in the future, which I didn't expect. However, I feel that the talk of new technology was so far from the point - Emily and her mother's ability - that it took from the story rather than added to it.

Overall, this book had so much potential, but I don't feel that it was reached. Maybe it's just me, and I was looking for something too different going into the story. It isn't a bad book, but I can't say I enjoyed reading it either.