Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review Sunday: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Stand-alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge."



Thursday, February 25, 2016

ARC Review Thursday: Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran by Laura Secor


Stand alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"The drama that shaped today’s Iran, from the Revolution to the present day.
 
In 1979, seemingly overnight—moving at a clip some thirty years faster than the rest of the world—Iran became the first revolutionary theocracy in modern times. Since then, the country has been largely a black box to the West, a sinister presence looming over the horizon. But inside Iran, a breathtaking drama has unfolded since then, as religious thinkers, political operatives, poets, journalists, and activists have imagined and reimagined what Iran should be. They have drawn as deeply on the traditions of the West as of the East and have acted upon their beliefs with urgency and passion, frequently staking their lives for them. 
 
With more than a decade of experience reporting on, researching, and writing about Iran, Laura Secor narrates this unprecedented history as a story of individuals caught up in the slipstream of their time, seizing and wielding ideas powerful enough to shift its course as they wrestle with their country’s apparatus of violent repression as well as its rich and often tragic history. Essential reading at this moment when the fates of our countries have never been more entwined, Children of Paradise will stand as a classic of political reporting; an indelible portrait of a nation and its people striving for change."


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

ARC Review Tuesday: Soulless by Sarah J. Pepper


Once Wicked #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"Our love is imperfect in the most perfect way. It is love done our way. Raw. Unconventional. Sexy as hell. Most importantly, it is honest to the core, or so I think. One little, white lie shouldn't do so much damage. Yet, it changes me forever.
The worst part is that Declan whispered that sweet nothing out of protection. My safety is on the forefront of his mind, especially since there are others who’d hurt me simply to get at him. I never think that he would be the one to cut me so deeply. And it all starts with that first prick—the night he saved my life.

***

His perilous stare deepened as his grip fastened around my waist. The maniacal thoughts passing over his eyes confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who wanted all the space between us eliminated.

I

could hardly breathe when his gaze fell to my lips. It left me speechless. It was the very way a passing glance could leave you without words. But Declan didn’t just take a glimpse. No, he unapologetically looked me over. He

loved

me, but didn’t say them in so many words. Yet, I heard them all the same. I heard them with each moan that echoed in the air. I felt them as he held me gently in his arms. Even if I didn’t feel the desire radiating off of him in a fury of passion, he bore that intensity in his gaze. The world around us melted away until there was on me and

him."



Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bookish Discounts


A couple of good discounts found my inbox in the past couple days so I thought I share them with you!  Here we go!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Best YA Blogs of 2015!

EXCITING NEWS!!  I'm kind of late on this because I lost the link and I was too absent-minded to actually just look back at the original tweet but Derek Murphy tweeted me that I had won a spot on the Best YA Bloggers of 2015.  But that's all beside the point.  This is so exciting!  It's also reminded me that I wanted to create a new blog design this year... Anyway, here's the gorgeous graphic:


This will, of course be going on my awards page :)

There are so many awesome blogger on this list including some blogs that I love reading!  Here are some of them:







To see the full list and to learn more, click HERE.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Review and Compare Thursday: The Martian by Andy Weir


The Book


Stand-alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale."


Review:
I've decided to write more list-based reviews because of the feedback but also because it helps me be so much more organized with my thoughts!  So without further ado, let's get into it!

1.  The reality.  This isn't something that's unique to this book (it's pretty common in science fiction) but I loved how real this situation was.  If you've been following the news in the past decade, you'll know that the NASA space program was cancelled while different companies compete for money granted to the company that can propose a doable method for commercial space travel.  We have been looking at Mars for quite some time as a potential human mission.  With that said, this book is set a bit in the future in the midst of the Mars missions.  The author went to such lengths to make sure that everything was explained with real world physics and chemistry.  The amount of work that went into this book must have been astronomical!

2.  The characters.  I really loved all of the characters but the MC especially.  His humor was the perfect thing to buoy up the story and keep it from getting too dark.  It made me laugh and kept me reading along with the suspense.  All of the other characters are very nicely developed as well and are very 3-dimensional.

3.  The science.  I've already brushed on this but I want to talk about more in depth.  I really liked the amount of science that was included.  It kept it very real and made it feel as though this had actually already happened.  It also held the plot accountable and made sure that nothing that was against the rules of physics and chemistry could happen (to my knowledge, of course).

4.  The spatial aspects and building scenes.  I do wish that the author would have included sketches or something of the sort to show visually what everything looked like.  This requires a lot of imagination and sometimes I just couldn't picture everything.  This may seem like a small thing but it's the only reason why this book is 4 stars.  Yes, it's a small issue to begin with but it cascades over the rest of the book and soon I was just glazing over those parts.

5.  The overarching plotline and the journey back home.  I really loved how the plot was developed.  It's perfectly paced and the different steps that had to take place to get Mark home are great and are very realistic.

The Final Verdict:
Overall, this book is so realistic and so cool and suspenseful.  I really loved the characters (especially the humor!) as well as the science that was included extensively.  However, I do wish there had been sketches or something of the sort included so I could visualize everything better.
4 stars


Quotes:
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.” 


“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.” 
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”



“Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.” 


“I guess you could call it a "failure", but I prefer the term "learning experience".”


“I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.” 


“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”



The Movie


Stand-alone to date

IMDB Blurb:
"During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Award Tuesday: Versatile Blogger Award #1


So a year ago (don't say a word...) Lauren @ Always Me nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!  Here are the rules:

1. Write seven facts about yourself.

2. Nominate fifteen other bloggers for the award.

3. Let nominees know you have tagged them.  (Don't forget to thank and link back to your nominator.)


Here we go!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review Monday: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller


Stand-alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
            
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?"

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mini Review Sunday: Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins


The Sweet Series #4

Goodreads Blurb:
"Bad boy Kaidan Rowe has never wanted for anything—money, popularity, musical talent…hot girls—but seducing them is part of his duty as a Nephilim, slave to the demon Dukes. As the son of the Duke of Lust, Kaidan has learned his father’s ways, becoming a master of passion, a manipulator of chemistry. Disobeying his father would mean certain death. Thankfully for Kaidan, he’s good at his job. And he enjoys it. 

Until he meets Anna Whitt—sweet, smart, feisty, and inexplicably good—the one girl seemingly immune to his charms. The daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, she has a certain power over him, one that makes him wish for more than he could ever deserve. 

Determined to save all the Neph from their dark lives as the influencers of sin, Anna joins forces with Kaidan to overcome the demons’ oppressive ways. In the light of her affections, Kaidan must undergo his toughest test of all, a battle of the heart.

Sensual and swoon worthy, this companion volume to the acclaimed Sweet Evil series from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, told from the perspective of the irresistibly sexy and mysterious Kaidan Rowe, gives readers revealing insights into his struggle, his intense connection to Anna, and most of all, the true emotions that drive him.


Author Note:
Sweet Temptation will encompass the entire trilogy in a condensed version, beginning with Kai's life before he met Anna, and taking readers through the epilogue of Sweet Reckoning. Sweet Temptation is a companion novel, not meant to be a stand alone story. It will definitely be a richer experience for those who have read the original trilogy."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review Thursday: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang


The Hybrid Chronicles #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cover Reveal Tuesday: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


The cover for A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas was finally released a couple of weeks back and I thought I do my first cover reveal discussion post!  So without further ado, let's get into it!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Short Story Mini Review, Interview, and Revisit Monday: Letter from a Desperate Father by Maron Anrow


Stand-Alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
""I know how my recent actions must seem. My story is not a simple one, though it pains me to dwell on how things turned out. All I ask is to see my son, and I hope you’ll be willing to help me after reading this letter."

An innocent man has been imprisoned. Hoping to see his son one last time, he composes a letter explaining the devastating event for which he's been blamed. LETTER FROM A DESPERATE FATHER (a short story) is a chilling tale of grief and betrayal with supernatural elements."


Sunday, February 7, 2016

R&R Review Sunday: The Book of Prophecy by Stephen J. Guscott


Stand-alone to date (although sequel possible)

Goodreads Blurb:
"No one in this quiet world knows what ignited the change; no one suspects that it all began with a secret book... Living among the innocent, in a society that has blossomed under seven centuries of tranquility, Dragatu expects to live out his days following the same path as his father before him, without even the smallest challenge to lift the monotony. But when he and his brothers are granted incredible mythical powers, every skill they possess is put to the test. Their actions will determine the fate of their people. What has been passed on in trust threatens to tear the brothers apart. Honour, love, power; all are at stake, and with them the only hope for a return to peace."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

2016 Blogging Resolutions and Goals


Finally!  I know, it's already February and I'm just posting my resolutions.  That's because I'm just really bad about planning ahead, okay?  :D  Anyway, here we go!


1.  Actually have posts scheduled ahead of time.  This is a really big one for me because this past year I tried and failed.  And then I got super behind on everything.  Another reason, I collect notes on books and then they never get reviews written!  Which is how I got so behind on my Goodreads yearly goal.  That's all going to change this year!

2.  Do more discussion posts.  I really like writing these but somehow they fell by the wayside in the last 6 months of last year.  I really hope that I'll be able to do at least one discussion post per month.  Excluding January, of course!  Because, you know, me and my procrastination.

3.  Not allow myself to read another book until I write a review for the one I just read.  For the life of me I can't remember who gave me this tip but it's one of the best pieces of advice ever in terms of my personality.  This will really help me whittle down my 'review' pile and keep it under control.

4.  Catch up on all R&R books before February 29th.  This is the one resolution that I WILL NOT FAIL ON!  My R&R pile has gotten so bad and I feel horrible for authors that I've kept waiting when I told them 3 months at most.  So I'm going to fix that and not fall into that hole in the future with my next resolution.

5.  Have a maximum of 4 R&R books per month.  I'm really bad about simply accepted pretty much all of the review requests that turn up in my inbox and while I love to help as many authors as possible, it isn't really viable if I want to keep a schedule.  So, if I'm going to keep accepting all of them, I'm going to schedule when I'm going to read all of these books so I can give authors an accurate estimate of when I'll have a review up.

6.  Interact with more bloggers and bookish people in general!  I did pretty well in 2015 in terms of commenting on people's blogs but I'd like to discover more blogs this year and maintain friendships I've made!



There you have it!  I'd also like to talk about the things that I'm going to be doing to keep all of these resolutions.

1.  Keep spreadsheets.  I've already made these spreadsheets (if you were wondering what I was doing in January, here it is).  I have a total of three: one for new releases of the year, one for R&R books and one for statistics.  I've recently discovered the awesomeness of spreadsheets in a book blogger's life and am loving the organization!  I'll actually be able to provide monthly wrap-up posts this year!

2.  Schedule R&R books.  Like I've already mentioned, I'm going to start scheduling R&R books so I can get reviews up in a timely manner.  I'm also going to use this technique to finish up the R&R books I already have so I can open up requests again ASAP.  So that means this month is definitely going to be busy!  I'm reading Little Women in the group read-along, participating in a buddy read for 2 weeks for Pivot Point and Split Second, reading 2 R&R books a week, as well as one library book a week.  Still, that only translates to about 4 books a week which is pretty manageable the way I read books.  Here goes nothing!

3.  Dedicate one hour every week day to visiting blogs and 3 hours over the course of the weekend to comment.  I really want to separate post-writing time vs. blog visiting time so this is my strategy!


That's all for today!  What are some of your resolutions?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2015 End of Year Survey: Part 2


This is part two of the year end survey hosted by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner!

If you missed part one, you can find it HERE.

So without further ado, let's get into it!


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

So here's the thing, I don't really keep track of when I follow blogs so I have no idea what new blogs I've followed this year!  Maybe that's something I'll keep track of this year...  Here are some blogs I've really had fun reading this year though!
Rachel, Julia, and Mishma @ A Perfection Called Books
 Cari and Haley @ My Addiction: Books
And so many more!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

I have two!
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - see my review HERE
A Court of Thorns and Roses - see my review HERE 

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I haven't posted a discussion post in a while and it makes me sad :(  I'll definitely be posting more in the future!  I did post some earlier this year though and here's one of my favorites:

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I actually did my first few buddy reads this year which was really fun although I did find out that I have a hard time keeping pace with the other person/people because I usually just read books in one sitting... 

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

I was officially featured in an actual printed book and it was just fabulous!  It was in the book Goodbye, Magnolia by Krista Noorman.  I was involved in the launch team and we originally connected when she asked if I'd be willing to review her previous book, The Truth About Drew.  Here's the photo I posted to Instagram!



6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

The most challenging thing that I'm still struggling with is staying on top of my R&R's.  I got so behind this summer when I over estimated exactly how much free time I'd have to write reviews so now I have a whole pile (some from a year ago) that need reviews to be written!  My goal for these first three months of the new year is to finish all of my R&R's from last year so I can finally reopen requests!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Actually, none.  I mean, the whole reason I blog is so that I can share my opinion and to connect with other people in the blogosphere.  I'm not really in it to have page views or anything.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

This answer is also going to be kind of general too because I didn't really buy anything bookish this year although some of my favorite bloggers started Etsy shops including Anna from Enchanted by YA.  You can check out her announcement post HERE!  She makes these awesome mini bottle necklaces that are so cute!  They're labeled things like basilisk venom and starlight that relate to different books and fandoms.

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

If you frequent my blog, you may know that I don't really don't do well with organized challenges.  I'm more the "let's see how many books I can read this year!" kind of person.  I actually didn't meet my Goodreads goal of 150 books this past year.  I came up short with 100.  I'm challenging myself to 100 books this year but I'm hoping to hit 150 to redeem myself :)


My next post will be all about my resolutions for the new year!  I know, I know, this is coming really late but I'm determined to get it done!
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