Friday, February 28, 2014

A Month in Review: February 2014

Books Read in February





TV Episodes:

Other Posts (Highlights)
Music Monday: #3, #4
Waiting on Wednesday: #3, #3.5, #4
Characterize It: #5, #6, #7, #8

Personal and Bloggish Stuff That Happened
1. Became one of the new writers at Lit Up Review
2. Another book signing! Yay!
3. Changed some of my features and finally made banners for them!
4. Went to Barnes and Noble 3 time in one week, probably the most I've ever gone in a week.
5. Participated in (and won!) FAWM
6. 4 year anniversary of joining a forum that's very dear to me.
7. PRESIDENT'S WEEK BREAK (aka that time I was actually pretty relaxed)
8. Watched like 4 or 5 movies. Pretty impressive for me.
9. Dress rehearsal for dance! 
10. Prepping for a fun feature with Eli @ RealityLapse. :)

Hope you've all had a great month!

Review: My Yellow Umbrella by Chris Robertson

My Yellow Umbrella by Chris Robertson
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Release Date: October 15th, 2013

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author. This did not affect my review in any way.
Reviewer's Note: This is the first time I've reviewed a picture book, and I have no idea how to do this well, so this will be very short.

The Yellow Umbrella is short, cute, and imaginative. The illustrations are very well done and go right along with the words. It's a truly inspirational read, and I think everyone can get something out of it, no matter how old one is. I definitely recommend this to parents to read to their children.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Characterize It (#8): Wild Card

Wild Card: Favorite Secondary Character(s)

The (s) is because there are so many!!! (I consider the majority of love interests as major characters, so they're not included. Ex. Augustus in TFiOS wouldn't be included.)

(Everyone) Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, Albus Dumbledore, Fred & George Weasley, etc etc FROM Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Pen AND Alice AND Basil FROM Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Reagan AND Levi FROM Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Isaac FROM The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Annabeth AND Grover (unless they're considered main characters...because I did consider the Golden Trio main characters for HP...) FROM Percy Jackson and the Olympian series by Rick Riordan
Harper Shaw FROM Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott


Who's your favorite secondary character?

Talk About It Thursday (#4): Audiobooks

Every other Thursday (probably; this one is the most subject to change) I will make a post that's meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. This can be about a book, movie, artist/album, or anything!

Ahhh, audiobooks...

A few months ago, I signed up for a blog tour for an audiobook. I thought I'd enjoy it. After all, people seem to generally really like listening to audiobooks. They seem to think it's helpful when they're multitasking. So I thought I'd give it a try again (I had listened to a couple of audiobooks when I was younger). *sigh* I wish I hadn't. Not only did I have to pull out of the tour, but I learned why audiobooks don't work for me.

Firstly, there's the issue with attention span. Generally, I'm pretty good at paying attention. But I just can't do it with audiobooks. I'll zone out and have to go back again. And again. And again. I can't listen to audiobooks while doing anything else because I'll forget about it. It'll become background noise. I can't concentrate on what's going on, so I don't take in or comprehend anything. It doesn't work for me because I'd have to stop everything and focus intently on the audio. If that's the case, I'd just prefer reading a physical book. I could probably finish the book faster too.

My other issue is with the pace and narrator. So many audiobooks have narrators that really don't work for me for a variety of reasons. I tried listening to an audiobook on a car ride. Probably not the best idea because I need to sleep in the car, but anyway. The narrator's voice was so flat and monotone. Not good at all, at least for me. Then there's the problem of pacing. So many times, I'd read faster than the narrator. As I mentioned above, I could probably finish the book faster. This is the reason I hate when we have to read out loud in class or when we do popcorn reading. I'm so sorry to some of my classmates, but PLEASE read faster. I'm already skipping ahead. At my school, when reading Shakespeare, we generally listen to a recording and follow along. But there are so many times when I'll want to skip ahead. No such luck.

In the end, it's just personal preference. Audiobooks don't work for me at all. Maybe some day it will, but for now, I'm stuck with just books, physical or electronic. Sure, I'd like to be able to read audiobooks, but I'm also okay with not being able to listen to them.

What do you think? Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you have similar issues or does it not bother you? If you listen to audiobooks and used to have similar issues, what's changed?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: Fearsome by S. A. Wolfe (ARC)

Fearsome by S. A. Wolfe
Date Published: 10/1/2013

Jessica Channing’s big city life should be more exciting than sixty-hour work weeks and popcorn nights with her girlfriends, but it’s not. She has worked hard fulfilling her role as a child prodigy and graduating college years before her peers. She’s the good girl, the brilliant girl.

Unfortunately, she’s also the dateless young woman.

That all changes with one phone call. Jess’s rigid, predictable life upends when she must visit a small, obscure town to deal with a relative’s death. This isn’t just any little speck of a town, though. Long lost memories come crashing down on Jess’s world when two men, the Blackard brothers, seem to lure her in.

Dylan is cover model handsome, and pursues Jess the minute she comes to town. Then there is tall, dark and gorgeous Carson, who hides his own secrets behind his hardened reserve.

For someone who has been governed by her own obsessive behaviors and fears, Jess lets her guard down and jumps at the opportunity to have an affair with a man she actually finds attractive for a change.

There’s just one problem. Jess discovers that she can’t have a simple romantic fling because true passion does indeed come with some very big strings attached to it. She will have to own up to her own truths about love and face the two extraordinary men; both troubled in their own ways and both determined to have her.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for a tour, and it did not affect my review or rating of the book whatsoever.

Let me start off by stating the obvious. I don't normally read NA, and I'm probably still a bit young to be reading NA, but the book did intrigue me, so.

In it's most basic form, the story isn't bad. A little predictable in some ways, perhaps, but in other ways, also very surprising. There were some revelations about characters that I was not expecting, and there was enough tension at the very least to keep me reading. The tension between Carson and Dylan was particularly interesting to read, and I liked seeing their relationship evolve. (And personally, I don't like sibling love triangle plots, so that was a bit of a turn off for me.)

But I did have a problem with Jess. I just could get myself to like her. I couldn't connect to her, and while I could sometimes understand where she was coming from, she wasn't someone that I liked very much. She was bearable enough to read the book, but there was something unsettling to me about her and the way she treats people. Her reactions seemed extreme most of the time and they didn't seem to fit who I thought she was at the beginning.

There were other characters, however, that I did like. I'm still a little hesitant on Carson, but I absolutely loved Lauren and Imogene. They were hilarious and fun. Perhaps they weren't as complex as I would have liked them to be, but I think that it balanced out Dylan, Jess, and Carson, who were all so complex that it almost overpowered everything else. Thankfully there was always Lauren and Imogene.

All in all, this was a decent read. I didn't particularly enjoy the apparent telling over showing, but it was more along a fine line than completely being too much. There were a few characters that I really enjoyed and some others that were decent and interesting enough to get me to finish the book. I don't know if I'd recommend it, but I definitely think it's a bit too erm...steamy for younger readers, even if they're my age.

You can find Fearsome on: Smashwords | Amazon | Barnes and Noble
You can find S. A. Wolfe on: Website | Facebook Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Event Recap: Ransom Riggs at Barnes and Noble 1/25/14

Woot! Another event! Okay, so I was beyond excited for this event even though I haven't gotten around to reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children yet. Anyway, I did record the event and everything, but I don't have much time, so I'm sadly not going to recap it right now. What kind of a recap is this, then? Good question. I'm really sorry. I'd love to recap, but a) a lot of the questions were in relation to Miss Peregrine and the 3rd book and b) a lot of the questions were questions that I had seen in his FAQ. Of course we also briefly talked about the awesomeness that is his wife, Taherah Mafi, and half of us fangirled about her too. I was too shy to ask a question, but it was really fun, and Ransom is really funny (and tall). ;)

Anyway, here are some pictures! (By the way, we were facing a window, and it was snowing and bright, so.)

Yup, that's me with Ransom Riggs!

We got these awesome posters!

My signed books!

(I was so excited I forgot to take a picture of him signing my books, but while he was signing Miss Peregrine's, the Sharpie wasn't working well, so it was kinda funny, but that also explains why he didn't really sign his last name fully, as you can tell by the comparison.)

Well, there you have it! :D It was really awesome. hehe

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Hudson Lights by Hudson Lights

Hudson Lights
Hudson Lights

Composed of 4 vocal artists from the Rocky Mountains, Hudson Lights creates a fresh fusion of contemporary pop and jazz like you've never heard before! World-class harmonies and consummate showmanship make this an unforgettable music experience. Equal parts thrilling, inspiring, and effortlessly charming, Hudson Lights brings a classy edge back to mainstream pop.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the CD to review for a tour.

Firstly, let me just say DAMN. These guys can sing, and they can sing WELL. Like exceptionally well. Their voices and their harmonies just blew me away. I was expecting something decent, but they were far more than exceptional. 

The album starts off really strong. Hold On to Me was extremely well done, but I think one of my favorites was Brave. Perhaps part of it is that I love Josh Groban, but these guys also give so much to this song. There are so many times when they sound just like Groban! Beautiful Day is a very close second, and it was these three songs that took me right away. The latter songs are also fantastic. There is so much depth to their singing, and you can tell that they're giving it their all. Their harmonies flow so well together, and it sounds like something you'd hear in heaven.

The one thing that I personally felt was that the first half was much more upbeat than the second half. It made me feel a little tired at the end, although their singing continued to be fantastic. Perhaps it's just me, and perhaps it was just poor track order. But nevertheless, upon hearing it for a second and third time, I really came to appreciate and love the last few songs too. Maybe it just takes a bit more of a push to get into it.

The variety in the music also really highlights how talented this group is. It may sound like a strange mix at first, but it shows how versatile Hudson Lights is. They adjust to the song, but they execute it well. They can be soothing, upbeat, fun, sad, and plenty more. And they make the listener feel the same way! Really well done!

Overall, I HIGHLY recommend this! I, for one, am going to be on the look out for their other stuff.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Summary Saturday: 2/22/14

Sunday (2/16/14):

Monday (2/17/14):

Tuesday (2/18/14):

Wednesday (2/19/14):

Thursday (2/20/14):

Friday (2/21/14):

Saturday (2/22/14):

Hope you had a great week!

Review: Rook by Monica MacDonald (ARC)

Rook by Monica MacDonald
Could you be the monster to save who you love?
Two women, separated by generations, must leave what they know to start a new life. Seventeen-year-old Kate's senior year is ruined when she's moved from the only home she's ever known. After an isolating month alone in her apartment, school starts, but neither her classmates nor her teacher are who they seem. Kali, a single mother living in the nineteenth century wilds of Montana, is stalked by a malicious past. She fights to keep her daughter safe while her freedom is threatened by her less than benevolent benefactor. Both find love, and with it hope, but that is quickly ripped away as one woman must learn the lessons of the other -- before it's too late to save either.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review for a tour. It did not influence my rating or review in any way.

The plot of this novel completely intrigued me. It was interesting to see all the pieces fall into place, and it was paced relatively well, albeit being a bit slow in the beginning. I don't want to give too much away, so!

Next the characters were pretty interesting too. They each have very unique personalities and the interactions between the characters was fun to read. They each have their own issues, and even the characters that you shouldn't like, you'll probably like. The other great thing about the characters is that you can tell the difference between the past and present. Kate and Kali's voices are very distinct yet enjoyable.
Yet, I also found myself finding it hard to concentrate while I was reading it. There was a lot more telling than even I normally enjoy. At the same time, there was quite a bit of description. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, I can personally never read too much description before I just start skimming and skipping sections. I don't think it really took anything away from the book, but I felt a bit guilty not reading everything.

Additionally, I found the pace at the beginning to be a bit slow and dull, although there was a sense of foreboding. I knew something big was coming up involving the characters, and there were plenty of clues about the characters to make me suspicious of a few of them. But I think that the amount of telling also took away from it and made it less exciting.

All in all, a very interesting book with a really thrilling plot. The characters are also spectacular and each is very unique.
You can find Rook on: Goodreads | Amazon
You can find Monica MacDonald on: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Ascension to Omni Bundle (NCIS:LA)

Ascension (Aired 9/24)

This isn't related to the episode, but confession: I'm TERRIBLE at remembering TV show plots. I'll know that I've watched an episode, but I won't remember the ending (most of the time), and after a few days, I would not have a clear recollection of the episode. But anyway, I shall review it to the best of my ability.

Moving on, the episode was on the one hand predictable, but on the other hand, the execution was done so well that you're thinking about more than that. It was an extremely emotional episode, but I think the cast and writers did a great job of really portraying not only the characters and their reactions to the events but also of portraying PTSD. So many shows try to show trauma, but they don't execute it well, unlike this episode.

I'm also really glad that they got in a solid Sam and Deeks scene without making them out of character. Sam's apparent ability to bounce back fits his character, as he's an ex-Navy SEAL. And Deeks' reaction fits him and his personality as well.

And not to get to in depth with my own biases, I'm glad that they brought up, in some ways, Deeks and Kensi's current relationship. You can visibly see them treading on thin water, but you can still see the affection there. Clearly, the events have to affect Deeks and thus his relationship with Kensi. And I suppose it was their way of addressing the kiss. I'm glad the showrunners aren't rushing to get them together, but I do hope that the showrunners are smart enough to learn from NCIS and not drag it out too long. At the moment, I think they'll find that happy medium.

They really used this episode to tie up some loose ends from the last season. But the one thing that was extremely predictable and a bit frustrating was that they kept Janvier alive. It was clear that NCIS:LA wasn't going to get rid of him, but honestly, I think they need a new arc. They got away with it for so long because it made sense because of both Callen and Janvier's personalities. But it's gotten to the point where I'm just like, "Come on! I know what the finale will probably relate to..."

Impact (Aired 10/1)

This episode definitely makes the list as one of my favorites. If Ascension handled PTSD well, Impact did so with flying colors. I am so happy that they didn't dismiss the effects of torture on Sam because even the toughest of guys will break down. I loved seeing Nate back because I just love Nate, but it's clear that he still has a close relationship with the team. I'm glad that he was the one brought in to talk to Sam and Deeks, even if neither of them wanted it. Not only did Nate bring up a hidden side to Sam, but he was really able to get to the heart of Deeks' relationship with Kensi.

This episode was definitely a lot more character driven than anything, but I'm glad they're taking the time to develop and delve into the effects of the traumatic events from last season. They could have easily brushed it off, but they're using it to their advantage. And for that I am grateful.

And lastly, of course, I HAVE to bring up the Deeks/Kensi scene at the end. I liked seeing them just hanging out as friends. You can tell how much Kensi really cares about Deeks, even if she's scared to admit it. It's a sweet, touching scene. It hints at possibilities, but it leaves enough open that anything could happen. And I love that.

Omni (Aired 10/8)

I was so disappointed in this episode after the last two episodes, but maybe it was just me.

Firstly, I felt that the case was pretty easy to figure out, and I pretty much knew who had done it as soon as we first met the guy. It was probably enough to convince and trick some people, but I'm sure that for many people, it was predictable. And this episode was a lot less character-centric as the previous two.

Now, that doesn't mean there wasn't anything. There was still a lot about Deeks recovering, but it fell a bit flat in both that area, as well as others. Yes, of course the whole deal with Deeks and shooting is going to be a hot topic, but I still felt like something was missing. The way that Kensi joked about Deeks' ordeal seemed so insensitive in a time wen she should have been on high alert.

I did enjoy the Nell/Eric scenes, but even that seemed to be a filler. Sure, it was hilarious, and it was so great to see Eric stumbling over his own words, but there wasn't really any need for the whole pants and girl's night out ordeal. It seemed like the producers were trying to hard to show things building up between Eric and Nell, but it wasn't executed as well as they probably thought it was.

I'm still a bit iffy on how I feel about this episode, but for now, my rating:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Characterize It (#7): The Mr. Darcy

The Mr. Darcy (Male character that acts standoff-ish at first but really is attracted to the female character)

*tries to remember as many books as possible*

Fitzwilliam Darcy (Mr. Darcy) FROM Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Guy Chambers FROM Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

1) Why not go with the one this theme was named after? Darcy's the classic example!
2) Yup...I'm still not a huge fan of Guy, but this does fit!

Which male character do you think is standoff-ish but really likes the female character?

Talk About It Thursday (#3): When TV Shows Lose Momentum

Every other Thursday (probably; this one is the most subject to change) I will make a post that's meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. This can be about a book, movie, artist/album, or anything!

Well, this is going to be a long post...and one filled with confessions and a little bit of sorrow. And this will also be filled with many case studies based on shows I watch, as well as my own personal OPINION(S).

Basically, this post is about when TV shows lose steam. I'm sure we've all seen a beloved show start to fade. We're probably in denial about it, but we know it's true. So the problem becomes, do we stop watching the show if it's not that well done anymore? Do we stop watching the show because we know it likely won't get better anytime soon? Or do we keep watching, hoping it will turn back up again? Do we keep watching if we know the show is almost over anyway? Do we keep watching out of loyalty? Or because it used to be one of our favorite shows? What do we do and should we try to focus on the positives rather than the negatives?

Case Studies:


Confession: NCIS used to be my favorite show.
Confession: It isn't anymore, thus the "used to be."

A lot of people that watch NCIS blame its recent downturn on Cote de Pablo, who played Ziva David, leaving the show and Emily Wickersham (Eleanor "Ellie" Bishop) entered. But in my opinion, the show started going downhill long before de Pablo's departure from the show.

The plots were getting old. The relationship between Tony and Ziva was stretched out for too long. Ziva wasn't the same Ziva we knew anymore, for better or for worse. To me, it didn't leave the same impact it used to anymore. If I missed a few episodes, I didn't really think twice about it. Not a lot pulled/pulls me back anymore in terms of the actual show.

But I LOVED the show before. It was my #1 favorite show just a few years ago. So I keep watching it, keeping up with every episode as best I can. Because I feel like I should. Because I keep hoping it'll get better again. Because I know there might be one episode or one plot arc that I'll be interested in. Because I'm not quite ready to leave all those characters yet. Because I know the show probably won't end soon because of it's high viewership. Because I want to believe that it'll get better.

But will it? I don't know. Maybe not. Probably not. The show is in its 11th season. I think everyone's running out of fresh ideas. They're not exploring issues as well anymore. They're just trying to fill in with episodes such as ones with Gibbs' ex-wife or that one with the awkward flashbacks to Mike Franks. Bishop isn't that great, at least in MY opinion. (I know a lot of people like her and are happy to have her on the show.)


I always give Psych such high praise. It deserves it...generally. It's a funny crime show with lots of awesome references in it. The cast is amazing, and everyone involved just appreciates the fans so much and tries their best to interact with fans.

But confession: I'm still around 6 episodes behind.
Confession: I've been procrastinating on watching those episodes. I don't know why exactly.

The thing is, I know the show is waning too. Season 8 is likely to be one of the last seasons, if not the last season of Psych. Shawn and Juliet are together. Gus has a girlfriend. Lassiter is married. Shawn and Gus, I feel in many ways have went back to their extremely childish ways. The episodes seem to try to please the existing fans more than to try to make them better to appeal to others. The musical was okay but not spectacular. I feel less and less invested, and it makes me feel a bit guilty, to be honest.

I love the show to pieces. I love the character interactions. I loved watching Shawn and Gus grow and mature and LEARN. But are they regressing? Is the show losing its steam, now that Shawn and Juliet are together? We know Shawn's secret will be out any day now.

But I adore the show and the cast. It's nice to watch when I want to watch something that's light and funny (although it can involve ALL THE FEELS). I want to be invested in the show again. And I mean, in some ways I still am, but in other ways, I'm not. And that makes me so sad.

Doctor Who

This one probably upsets me the most. 

Confession: I'm most certainly NOT a Moffat sympathizer. 
Confession: Eleven was okay for me but not as great as so many people believe. Again, that's just me.
Confession: I don't like Amy, and I DEFINITELY don't like River Song (is she finally gone???)
Confession: I like Clara, but I hate how the show treats her. *ahem*Moffat*ahem*

Two summers ago, I fell in love with Doctor Who. I watched it with a friend(ish). We talked about the show. I fell in love with the show and the story and the Doctor and the Companions and the TARDIS. 

But I personally feel like the show's gone downhill since Moffat took over. Seasons 5 and on just weren't the same. It didn't feel like the Doctor Who I'd come to love anymore. I want to go into everything but that would end up in a rant and that would not be pretty and it'd be very long. If you ever want to discuss it with me, feel free to email me, but yeah.

I feel as if I HAVE to continue watching the show because I love(d) it so much. I liked some of the recent Companions. But I feel as if Moffat has honestly ruined Doctor Who. I don't want to continue to watch the show go down, down, down. BUT I have hope that it'll continue on. That someone will eventually (FINALLY) take over and that maybe that person will handle the show better than I believe Moffat has. I am not aiming to bash Moffat, but I believe that a lot of the problems stemmed from him. Don't get me wrong, there were some things I wasn't too fond of when Davies was in charge, but I liked how ran the show. 

So, I know with Doctor Who, I'll continue to watch the show, holding out, waiting for the day it gets better again.

Covert Affairs

Last one, promise! This is getting SO long, and I'm getting tired.

I'm one of the people that started watching this show ever since it began. One of the original fangirls. But now? I'm behind by half a season AT LEAST. Although I want to watch the show and catch up, there's a small part of me that doesn't care anymore.

The thing is, many of the characters kind of bother me now. Annie doesn't seem like the spy she used to be. She's gone rogue. She doesn't follow the rules. She does what she wants. And on the show, when she does that, things still work out in the end. That bothers me. She never learns from her mistakes. She keeps on making reckless decisions. She needs to learn and she hasn't yet (at least up to the part I've seen).

The show has also jumped the gun on the Annie/Auggie relationship. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE them together. I ship them so hard. But I don't want them to be together yet. I want them to be able to handle it like NCIS:LA handles Kensi/Deeks and Nell/Eric. I want them to be able to (sort of) handle it like NCIS (they dragged it out for too long, and it backfired, but the idea of dragging it on for a little bit). I want them to be able to handle it like Fringe. I want them to be able to handle it like Psych. BUT NOPE. I don't know...a lot of people like it, but I'm not a huge fan of it. I'm happy they're together, but this show doesn't rest on much. Their relationship was their safety net once they ran out of plot lines and needed a boost. Oh well.

The story lines are becoming more and more predictable and less and less exciting. Again, maybe it's just me. I don't know. But there's something about the show that's changed, and that has affected my view on the show. I'll continue to watch it/catch up, but we'll see where the show goes...

What are some other "case study" shows? What do you do when a show you love starts to lose momentum? Do you have any advice for me on what to do with some of these shows?
Let me know!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#4): Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

This feature is hosted by Breaking the Spine!
For more info on this feature, see my features page.

Prisoner of Night and Fog
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Release Date: April 22nd, 2014
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

Why I Want to Read This Book

I LOVE historical fiction. It's usually hard to find really good historical fiction, but the past few that I've read have blown me away, so I have faith that upcoming ones will as well. 

I think it's really interesting to see it from the POV of someone that's grown up a Nazi. It reminds me a tiny bit of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (although that's very different), and I'm intrigued. I grew up loving stories about people being conflicted because they loved/liked someone on the opposite side during war time (mostly the American Revolution, but there's not many American Rev historical fiction books anymore).

Overall, as a historical fiction lover that finally knows a lot about the external context of wars other than the Civil War and the American Revolution, I'm really excited.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: Sept. 17th, 2013
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
There's so much to say about this book. I love it to pieces, and it's on my list of favorite books for sure. The thing is, I think that only some people will get as much out of the book as I did. If you've never been in Elise's situation, or at least to that extreme, then let me be honest, you probably won't love it as much as some of us do (you might though!).

This is a heart-wrenching book, but it's a book that totally gets it. Elise's thoughts are spot-on, and I connected with her in so many ways. She was real, and I saw myself in her. And that's part of why I loved the book so much. I've struggled in situations similar, but not quite the same, as the ones Elise struggles with. Elise never came off as annoying or whiny to me, possibly because I've been there. The way that Leila Sales can get into a character such as Elise's brain so perfectly really amazes me.

I also love the incorporation of awesome music. It enforced the whole DJ-ing aspect of the book, and I liked how it allowed me to find out about more awesome music! I also enjoyed that romance wasn't the focus of the book. It focuses on friendship, family, honesty, and a different kind of love.

A lot of the side characters are also incredible. Whether you love or hate them, they're complex and have their own problems too. They feel real, and it's like they could be real people. I really came to love Vicky and even the security guard (I currently feel a bit brain-dead, so I can't think of his name right now). They all brought something to the table, and each person had their own agenda, whether it went along with Elise's or not.

In the end, I think it's a book that you can only truly appreciate and understand if you've been there. I'm not saying you won't like it if you haven't, but there's a deeper connection to it. There's something about it that just pulls you in if you've gone through something similar, particularly if you've found friends and something you love like Elise did. There's something that you can't grasp or understand if you don't know what it's like. And I think that's why there are people that didn't enjoy the book as much. You don't get as much out of it. If you don't really have a million "yes, yes, yes;" "THIS!;" or "THIS JUST GETS IT" moments, then yeah, you probably won't enjoy it as much as someone who does. (Again, I'm not trying to say that this fits every person, but.) It's an inspiring book, really, and it's very much character-based, but there isn't as much drama or any of that stuff as compared to other contemporary books and just YA books in general. But for me, this book was almost beyond perfect because it just got it. It showed me that people understand, and that I'm not alone.

You can find the book on Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books a Million | Powell's | IndieBound
You can find Leila Sales on Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | her official site

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tour: The Star Thief by Jamie Grey (Guest Post and Giveaway)

Jamie Grey, Author of The Star Thief, Guest Post

The Star Thief Dream Cast

I started The Star Thief a few years ago, and it’s had a few cycles of changes, but what’s never changed is how I saw these characters in my head. It’s so hard for me to do these kinds of posts because I have such specific images of these characters. I know them, picture them every time I write a scene, but I know it’s always fun to see how an author views her characters. So here goes.

Renna - the Star Thief, is tough, sexy and amazing at what she does. I wanted someone who could fit that bill, so Amrita Rao was the perfect choice. She’s a well known Bollywood actress, and looks very similar to what I imagine Renna looking. She also plays some kick-ass characters. 

Captain Finn (aka Hunter) is a former mercenary-turned-good guy, so I wanted someone who was handsome, but also has the hint of a scoundrel. You know, the Han Solo type. I think Shane West fits that bill pretty closely, though my Finn has blue eyes. And of course he looks pretty hot in a uniform.

Doctor David Aldani is the scientist behind many of mysteries Renna is trying to solve. My doctor reminds me a lot of Idris Elba. I mean who wouldn’t want to play doctor with this guy?

During the book Renna rescues Myka, Aldani’s nephew. I imagine he looks a lot like Jayden Smith. The kid has been through hell, but he never loses his strength or personality.

The other big characters in this book are all alien, so I can’t give you a good picture of Viktis the Ileth pirate, or Lieutenant Keva, a Delfine soldier. (I suck at drawing or I would try to sketch them for you!) You’ll just have to read the Star Thief to get a sense of what they look like!

What do you think? Have you read The Star Thief? Do these characters look at all like what you pictured?

Thank you for sharing, Jamie!

Here's some more info about the book and about the fabulous author:

The Star Thief by Jamie Grey
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 31st, 2014
She might only be twenty-three, but Renna Carrizal is the most notorious thief in the galaxy. There’s just one problem – all she wants is to get the frak out of the business.

But when Renna rescues an injured boy from the warehouse she’s casing, she finds herself on the run from the mob instead of enjoying retirement on a garden world. Turns out, the kid was a plant to lead her to MYTH, a top-secret galactic protection agency.

MYTH needs Renna’s special skills, and they make her an offer she can’t refuse – unless she'd like to spend the rest of her life on a prison ship. To make sure she does her job they shackle her with a MYTH watchdog, the handsome but arrogant Captain Finn.

A former mercenary-turned-galactic-hero, Finn happens to have his own dirty secrets. Secrets that Renna wouldn’t mind uncovering for herself. Together, they discover an experiment to develop illegal cybernetics that will create an unstoppable army. The intended target? The human star fleet.

Now Renna must use her skills as the Star Thief to pull off the biggest job of her career – saving the galaxy. And herself.

Recommended for 17+ due to mature themes and sexual content.

About the Author

Jamie Grey spent most of her childhood writing stories about princesses who saved the day and pretending to be a daring explorer. It wasn’t until much later that she realized she should combine the two. Now, as a tech-obsessed gamer geek, her novels mix amazing scientific developments, future worlds, and the remarkable characters that live in them.

Jamie lives in Michigan with her significant other and their pets, who luckily tolerate her overspending on tea, books, and video games.


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