Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #39: Most recent TBR


Today's Topic: 
 Ten Books You Recently Added 
To Your To-Be-Read List

Okay, I'm just going to go into Goodreads and pull the last ten I added. I have literally no idea what I will find there, so we're both in for a surprise! (I skipped multiples from the same author.)


        

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Mr. Hands by Gary A. Braunbeck
Phoenix Island by John Dixon
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
The Detour by S.A. Bodeen



        

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Beneath by Roland Smith
The Novice by Taran Matharu
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder




Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish -  a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. Click here to get involved!
Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry


Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Publication Date: April 26, 1993
Publisher: Laurel-Leaf Books
Pages: 179
Add to Goodreads

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community's Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price.

The Giver is set in a future society which is at first presented as a utopia and gradually appears more and more dystopic, so could therefore be considered anti-utopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life. Jonas' society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to "Sameness", a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of "Receiver of Memory," the person who stores all the memories of the time before Sameness, in case they are ever needed to aid in decisions that others lack the experience to make. As Jonas receives the memories from his predecessor—the "Giver"—he discovers how shallow his community's life has become.

My brother has been trying to get me to read The Giver for years. It's one of his favorite series and I've heard him talk about it over and over but, for some reason, just never got around to picking it up. If I had to guess, it's probably because it's a classic and I don't usually love those.

I should preface this review by saying that I saw the movie first. I know, I know. But I did. The movie was actually pretty good! I really did enjoy it... until I started reading message boards and realizing how different it was from the source material. That is why I decided to finally read it and I'm really glad I did!

The Giver is definitely a heck of a lot different than the movie that was recently released. Honestly, I did enjoy some of the changes in the film and I can totally understand why they were made. I really am not sure if the book could have been translated exactly to screen. But I digress.


The book opens with Jonas as he prepares to get his assignment - his job, essentially. Much is revealed about the workings within the community he lives in. There is a huge focus on precision of language, sameness, and honesty, to name a few. It quickly becomes very obvious that this is a community run by very strict guidelines that are never -not- met. Jonas, however, is a questioner. Though he feels guilty, he doesn't do everything exactly the right way and sometimes sees strange things. This starts to make sense to Jonas once he is given the assignment of Receiver of Memory.

The previous Receiver (now the Giver) explains a great many things to Jonas through memories. Jonas learns of how things were before the world became the way it is. He learns about colors and pain and love. But these things that previous Receivers were content (or not) with are not enough for Jonas. He always wants to know more and asks all the why's.

I greatly enjoyed the characters in this book, although they were obviously very strange. I liked Jonas a lot simply because he was not content with what he was being told and he wasn't content with the way the world had become. The Receiver, though sometimes gruff, had the feeling of a grandfather who was concerned and wanted his grandson to have (know) everything. Fiona and Asher were also interesting characters, though I would have liked to have known more about them.

The story of the Giver is very imaginative. It made me laugh at times and it also made me cringe at a few moments (okay, more than a few). The only downside for me was that I didn't feel like I knew enough. Like Jonas, I wanted to know more! And this book left me with more questions than answers. I guess that the remaining books share a little more about what may have happened, but I feel like The Giver itself was abruptly ended and needed more explanation.

Back to the film, I liked the touches of romance that were only very briefly hinted at in the book, though I did like how the book explained more about how romance within the community worked. I also felt like the book did a better job with their assignments since Asher's especially seemed a little ridiculous in the movie. And while the movie's landscapes seemed a little far-fetched, I did like that it was better realized, while the book left pretty much everything completely to the imagination. Overall, I liked both the book and the movie for different reasons and I'd definitely recommend both!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Weekly Recap: 3/22 - 3/28





My Super Exciting Life 

Well... it's been a little boring this week, which I'm certainly not complaining about! On Tuesday I met up with my parents and brother for dinner, so that was basically the highlight... Haha!

I went to Toys R Us to look around because I'm five and found a gorgeous Cinderella doll, which led me to search DisneyStore.com for their version, which is OMG gorgeous! Unfortunately it's sold out at the moment, but it isn't limited edition so I'm hoping they stock more!!

There was a graduation fair on Thursday, but it was over a mile from where my classes are held and it looked like it was going to pour rain, so I didn't risk it.

But the absolute best thing that happened this week was that I found out my husband will be home in a little over a week if everything goes right!! For those that don't know, my husband is a Merchant Marine. He's been on a ship in the middle of the Pacific for almost four months so I can't wait to have him home! I'll try not to go off the grid. ;)



New Book Buys

This week was really slow for book purchases, but I did get one that's pretty great!! 




In Case You Missed It

Monday audiobook review of Bound by Spells
I posted books I loved as a teenager for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Their Fractured Light for Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday was the first quarter update for the Horror Reading Challenge
I talked about BEA for Feature & Follow Friday



This Week I Read

  
 


Upcoming Review




I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #41: BEA



Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.


This Week's Question: 
Have you ever been to BEA? 
If not, what's stopping you? 


I haven't been to BEA! I'm almost a year into blogging and I only recently found out it! I'm dying to go, but schedule and location are currently stopping me. I'm definitely hoping to go one day!! 

Horror Reading Challenge: First Quarter Update



Aaaaand we've made it! Welcome to the official update post for the first quarter of the Horror Reading Challenge! This is the first challenge I have ever hosted and I am super excited to have 20 participants joining us! I realized after making the original post (like, kind of a long time after making the post) that I had forgotten to include the link up for your reviews.


I've also posted it on the original challenge page to make it less confusing. Sorry! Please make sure to add your links so everyone can see your progress. I can't wait to hear how everyone is doing! Here is what I've read so far:

  1. The Madman's Daughter (review)
  2. The Amityville Horror (review)
  3. Uzumaki, Volume 1
  4. Mortal Danger (review)
  5. Asylum 
  6. Her Dark Curiosity 

Not all my reviews are up yet, but they'll be posted soon! I originally committed to reading 6-10 books (Running Scared) but, since I'm already at 6 and we're only three months in, I'm going to officially up myself to 11-15 (Fearless). We'll see what happens! How has everyone else been doing?

There will be a giveaway for everyone who's participating at the next update on June 25th so keep in touch and don't miss out! It's never too late to join the challenge! I'd love to have you with us!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #42: Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner


Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:


Their Fractured Light
by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.

Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

I was so hesitant to read This Shattered World after realizing the characters were different, but I finally did and now I am DYING to know what happens next! Mostly I'm just dying to see the final cover right now though...



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #38: Favorite Teen Reads


Today's Topic: 
 Top 10 Books From My Teen Years
That I Would Love To Revisit

When I was a teenager, Goodreads was not a thing. At least not until very late in my teen years. As you can imagine, by the time there was a rating system for the books I'd read, it had been quite a long time since I'd read all of the books on today's list. For that reason, they are all ranked as four or five star books on my Goodreads account. However... I have a tendency to remember things as a lot better than they actually were. That's why I'd love to revisit all of these to find out if they were really that awesome, or if my brain just romanticized all of them.


        

The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Children in the Night by Harold Myra
The Crown of Eden by Thomas Williams
English Ivy by Catherine Palmer
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien



        

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte




Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish -  a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. Click here to get involved!
Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Tour Review: Bound by Spells by Stormy Smith



Title: Bound by Spells (Bound #2)
Author: Stormy Smith
Publication Date: March 19, 2015
Publisher: Perfect Storm Publishing
Pages: 472
Add to Goodreads
Review for book 1

Aidan Montgomery hadn’t been prepared for Amelia Bradbury to walk in and then out of his life. He also hadn’t expected to find the powerful magic hidden deep within him for the last nineteen years, but he’s embracing it — finding more control and more answers every day. Now, with the help of Amelia’s best friend, Bethany, Aidan is on a quest to understand his destiny and find Amelia.

Amelia decided to stand by her duty, which meant walking away from her first chance at love. Trapped in Cresthaven at the Queen’s mercy, she spends her days with Micah — an ally she still holds at arm’s length — struggling to manage her heartbreak while keeping her mind focused on the task at hand. As she continues to unlock the secrets of the Keeper power, Queen Julia’s true motives reveal themselves, forcing Amelia to decide, yet again, how much she’s willing to sacrifice.

Will Aidan get to Amelia before it's too late, or will the very power that sustains them keep them apart? 
Purchase
Last summer I was lucky enough to participate in the Bound by Duty blog tour. Here was a book I had never heard of and really went into blindly, but came out totally in love! But... you know how it is when you read a book right when it comes out and then have to wait seemingly forever for the next one? Well, thank goodness book two didn't take a full year! I was so psyched when I found out Bound by Spells was being released that I absolutely had to get in on the pre-release events! And this one was totally worth the wait.

Bound by Spells picks up right where Bound by Duty left off - with Amelia amongst her enemies and Aidan unsure of how to help her. Not only that, but Aidan's also fighting an internal battle with himself since discovering his animage powers... and his inner wolf. Amelia is also learning to control the torrent of power that has been released within her and trying desperately not to give in to it completely. But the very best part is that the location shifts for book two, to the magnificent home of Micah's mother. While I definitely liked the college setting of book one and felt like it was a perfect way to get to know all of the characters, I loved getting to explore this new place with Amelia and Micah! Especially the library...

I fell in love with the characters of Bound by Duty and they continued to wow me throughout book number two. I so loved watching as Aidan discovered things about himself and came to terms with them. He definitely became my favorite character in the series for so many reasons, not least of which was his stepping up to the plate when he could have said no. Amelia too made some amazing choices in Bound by Spells - some that I wanted to beat her over the head for, but still... And, well, Micah was still Micah. I liked him for sure, but he definitely isn't the main man!

The action in this book, while a little scarce, was still exciting and moved the story ahead at a good pace, never dragging like some middle books do. My only complaint is that Amelia and Aidan are not together (well, not really) for most of the book. It's a little bit of a pet peeve of mine when characters spend an entire book trying to get back together (see my review for World After). Luckily though, Bound by Spells made up for it in another way, so it wasn't as bad as it could've been without that small, spoilery detail.

Overall, I really liked where this book took the series. Stormy Smith has written a fantastic story with amazing, strong characters who have held my attention from book one, page one. She has been on several of my top ten lists over the last year and, after finishing book two, I can confidently say she'll be in a lot more of them. I can't wait to see where book three goes (and I'm really hoping for a lot more Aidan/Amelia moments)!


Excerpt
Through our first month of class, I sat back and observed the quiet girl who moved with the same weighted motions I did. She understood loneliness. It was clear in the way she would brighten at an instructor's question, but dim as she refused to allow herself to answer. The way she moved with awkward grace, always bumping into things, but never people. I had overheard her and Bethany talking, and I knew she would be at that party. It was why I'd gone. But I felt like a creeper. I had been hiding out, berating myself for being there, when she came flying down the stairs.

I watched Amelia leap from the bottom stair of the deck like she could fly ― all of the awkwardness gone and her movements fluid and beautiful. She pushed her way into the oncoming tide. She was lit up in the moonlight as her head dropped back and from my angle, I could see her smile. I was an intruder on the moment, but her smile broke something open inside of me. She was content and I was jealous. I wanted to know her secrets. I wanted to know how she found that place. She was my beginning and my end. Because now that she's gone, I'm some kind of magical freak and I'm alone — again. (Aidan)


About the Author

Stormy Smith calls Iowa's capital home now, but was raised in a tiny town in the Southeast corner of the state. She grew to love books honestly, having a mom that read voraciously and instilled that same love in her. She knew quickly that stories of fantasy were her favorite, and even as an adult gravitates toward paranormal stories in any form.

Writing a book had never been an aspiration, but suddenly the story was there and couldn't be stopped. When she isn't working on, or thinking about, her books, Stormy's favorite places include bar patios, live music shows, her yoga mat or anywhere she can relax with her husband or girlfriends.


Author Links



Giveaway

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekly Recap: 3/15 - 3/21





My Super Exciting Life 

Although Spring Break has ended, this was a pretty good week! It was a fairly easy week as far as school went - just a lot of showing up and listening. On Sunday I saw Cinderella with my mom and it was amazing! I am absolutely in love with this new live-action version, even though it's basically an exact copy of the animated Cinderella. Continuing the movie trend, my mom and I watched Divergent Sunday night and, of course, she loved it. That was when I came to the realization that Divergent is one of my favorite movies. There are very, very few films that I can watch multiple times, but apparently this is one of them... because I had a couple friends over on Friday night to watch Divergent again, in anticipation of Insurgent, which I saw on Saturday. And it.was.awesome. Holy crap, this movie! Moving on...



New Book Buys

After I left the theater I headed straight to get a copy of Allegiant. I read the full trilogy when it first came out, but I had it on a Nook, which I no longer have. You see, my brain does this thing which is pretty useful - once I finish a book I generally forget most of the details. You might think this would be really annoying. I kind of like it! It means everything is surprising all over again when I go back for a reread. However, now I'm having a fit to read Allegiant again because, while I remember the very end, I don't remember all the in between. While I was out I also went to a thrift store and came away with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The DaVinci Code, and Winter's Heart for $1.88! Score!




In Case You Missed It

Monday audiobook review of World After
I posted my spring TBR list for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Reawakened for Waiting on Wednesday
I talked about inspirational characters for Feature & Follow Friday
Saturday Author Spotlight & Interview of Catherine Coulter



This Week I Read

  



Upcoming Review





I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Author Spotlight & Interview: Catherine Coulter


If you follow my blog regularly, you are most likely aware that the vast majority of the books I read and review are Young Adult books. But before I read YA, I shopped library book sales to score my next read (or reads for the next year, rather). That is how I came upon Catherine Coulter in what was probably my sophomore year of high school. 

I had never really been a fan of romance novels. But I recall the moment when I picked up Warrior's Song and looked at the cover, not quite sure what it would be about. I read the back and realized it was a romance novel, but ultimately decided to take a chance on it. Keep in mind that this was back before Goodreads and smartphones (high school was a long time ago) so I truly was taking a chance! And it definitely paid off! 

That was the beginning of my Catherine Coulter collection/obsession. In the years since I have collected many (not all, admittedly) of her historical romance novels and have consistently enjoyed every one of them. And my very favorite part of her books? Fabio is not on the cover! 


Something I always thought was very interesting about each of these books was that they all had a letter from the author on the back. Each of these would tell a little about how the book came to be and would end with an invitation to email her personally with thoughts about the book. Never before or since have I seen this personal touch on a book! 

Over the years I emailed back and forth with her a couple times, but recently I worked up the courage to ask her to sign a couple books for me and she graciously obliged. Not only did Mrs. Coulter sign the books I sent, but she signed and mailed back a copy of The Maze, one of her FBI Thrillers which I had to admit I had not read. 

I also feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to ask three questions of my favorite author, which was quite a daunting task!



Author Interview

Tracy: How did you celebrate publishing your first book? 

Catherine: I celebrated the sale of my very first book with two bottles of champagne -- Moet et Chandon -- and tacos -- what could be better?

Tracy: Many of your historical romance heroines are presented as very witty and even stubborn. Do you identify with any of the female characters in your books? Do you have a favorite?

Catherine: Yes, of course my heroines reflect my personality, impossible not to, although, and this is rather a surprise, my own personal favorite of all my books is Beyond Eden, and the main female character is nothing like me. Go figure. But usually, yes.

Tracy: What inspired you to move away from historical romance and towards your series of FBI thrillers? They seem so different!

Catherine: What happened is that I wrote nine straight historicals -- three trilogies -- and found I was burned to my heels. Was at a family reunion and my sister (whose never done this before or since) walked up to me and asked, "Have you ever heard of a small town on the coast of Oregon, called The Cove? They make the world's greatest ice cream and bad stuff happens." I went en pointe, told my publisher and wrote The Cove, which turned out to be the first of the FBI series. Isn't serendipity a wonderful thing?


About the Author

Catherine Coulter is the author of more than 70 novels, including 66 New York Times bestsellers, occasionally, after exhaustive prayers, hitting #1. She earned her reputation writing historical romances to pass the time while aboard the ark. Over a decade ago she added suspense thrillers to her repertoire-- with great success. The Cove, the first book in her bestselling "FBI Suspense Thriller Series" spent nine weeks on the New York Times list and has to date sold over 2 million copies. Since then, she has written 18 more bestselling thrillers in the series. Coulter is now working on a new suspense thriller series -- A Brit in the FBI -- co-writing with bestselling author JT Ellison. The third book in this series, The End Game, will be released in September 2015. You can visit Catherine at her website!
Thursday, March 19, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #40: Fictional Inspiration



Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.


This Week's Question: 
Have you ever been inspired by 
a book character to do something? 
Who was the character and what was it?


What a great question!! I really had to think long and hard about this one, but my answer is ultimately YES! I have been inspired by more than one character and as far as I can tell, they have inspired me in some more serious areas of life.

For example, Catherine from Into the Darkest Corner inspired me to get a grip on some OCD tendencies I had been noticing. Her life scared me a little, even though it was fiction. Now I can throw my coffee cups in the cabinet in any order without being bothered! :P

And I've recently been inspired by Penryn from Angelfall. When reading this series I was struck by the way Penryn was able to handle herself in pretty much any situation and realized that I definitely couldn't do the same! I've been giving some very serious thought recently to self defense training.

I can't wait to hear the ways everyone else has been inspired by fictional characters!! This is why we read!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #41: Reawakened by Colleen Houck


Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:


Reawakened
by Colleen Houck
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can't imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

I used to have a thing for Ancient Egyptian mythology, so when I saw this book I obviously knew I had to read it!! Not to mention the cover is gorgeous!! I cannot wait to get my hands on this one!



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.