January 30, 2014

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Secret of Isobel Key by: Jen McConnel


The Secret of Isobel Key by: Jen McConnel (Dec. 2013)
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Mystery       
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Source: I received a free copy for my honest review for being a part of the Xpresso Book Tours.
Synopsis: Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past. Flashing between the seventeenth century and modern day Scotland, The Secret of Isobel Key is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.

My Review

The Secret of Isobel Key may be a little rough around the edges, but it is a solid read with an interesting story mixed within the past and present. 

Two of my favorite aspects of The Secret of Isoblel Key was that it was told in the present, and also in the past during the witch trials in Scotland, and that the transitions between the two were spot on. There was also a slight air of mystery surrounding the “witch” Isobel Key that was developed and revealed really well throughout the novel.

Now let's talk about the main character Lou, a very relatable and nice person who can be somewhat of a negative Nancy. I loved getting to read a book where the main character is a young woman struggling with finding a job after college, although this isn’t a huge part of the book, it was still nice that the author acknowledged that life right after college isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Lou’s trip to Scotland was fun and enlightening for Lou and for the reader. I really like that friendship plays a big role in this book, but on the other hand, I honestly don’t think it was handled very well. It seemed just a little forced. Brian, the tour guide and love interest, was a good character, except that the author really didn't need to remind us constantly what Brian looked like. Not that I mind reading about a hot Scottish man. ;) The writing was a little off and seemed choppy at times, and small details were not really needed, but overall none of these small issues kept me from enjoying the story.

The Secret of Isobel Key is worth taking a look at. It is an interesting story centered around witch trials that really tugs on your heart strings. I like that this book was new adult, but not like the majority of new adult books out there, it was unique.







Author

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.  She is the author of The Secret of Isobel Key (NA 2013) and Daughter of Chaos (YA 2014).  Visit www.jenmcconnel.com to learn more.




Giveaway




9 comments
January 28, 2014

TTT #17: Top Ten Characters I'd NEVER Want to Trade Places With


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. 

In no particular order... here are the top ten characters I would never want to trade places with. Basically, I value my life and would probably lose in a fight. (Although I don't know if I'm a bad fighter for sure, but I hope I never have to find out.) Share your Top Ten lists in the comments!

1. Mara Dyer from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer  - Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to have Noah Shaw as my boyfriend and always be by my side, but I would not want to trade places with a girl who ends up in an institution, who doesn't know who to trust, and seems to be losing her mind in the process.

2. Katniss from The Hunger GamesFighting to the death isn't really my thing. I doubt I would last more than a minute in the games.

3. Cia from The Testing - I don't think I'm clever enough to trade places with Cia and be able to survive. 

4. Melanie from The Host I prefer to have control over my own body. Just saying.

5. Lela from SanctumShe may have found the man of her dreams, but losing a best friend, having a horrible foster father, and much more makes me not want to trade places with her.

6. Tris from Allegiant I love Four, but I'm sure anyone who has read Allegiant knows why she made it on my list.

7. Lynn from Not a Drop to DrinkI would not want to constantly fight for the basic necessities needed to live.

8. Jake from Eat Brains LoveHaving an uncontrollable need to eat my friends isn't something I would want to strive for.

9. Katie from The Hallowed OnesShe has to make some hard choices and go up against some evil creatures, so I'm going to pass on this one.

10. Anyone from Game of Thrones - I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain myself here.
18 comments
January 27, 2014

Mini Reviews: Cinder & Scarlet by: Marissa Meyer

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by: Marissa Meyer (2012)
387 pages
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: The Library
Goodreads Summary: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague
ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Review: I really enjoy a well done fairy tell retelling and although slightly too weird for my tastes, Cinder didn’t disappoint. All of the characters are interesting and I enjoyed the setting. Cinder, a cyborg, is an interesting character that is easy to feel for, I mean she does have an evil stepmother and an evil stepsister and they treat her like crap, so who wouldn’t feel for this young girl? I love that Cinder has a built in lie detector, I would love that, or maybe I wouldn’t, but either way it is pretty neat. I love her friend/android Iko. I was intrigued by the prince and found him to be quite cute, and all the other minor characters were pretty nicely fleshed out as well. I enjoyed Cinder and have no problem recommending it to other fairy tale retelling fans out there, but I would warn them that it is pretty sci-fi, because I just wasn’t expecting the book to be so weird. Overall, Cinder was a fun read.

My Rating: 3.5/5 

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by: Marissa Meyer (2012)
454 pages
Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: The Library
Goodreads Summary: The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review: Scarlet is even better than Cinder. I wasn’t a huge fan of Cinder, but I’m a huge fan of Scarlet. Part of the reason as to why I liked this book more than the first is because I was prepared for all the weirdness (people from the moon with magical powers, cyborgs, etc.) this time. Not to mention that I loved the new characters that we are introduced to in this second book in the Lunar Chronicles series. Thorne is a little smart ass devilishly handsome man, Wolf is a delicious bad boy incarnate, Scarlet is that strong female heroine I love in my books, and Cinder is also back. I love how Meyer wove the Little Red Ridding Hood fairy tale into this book, it was definitely unique. There was more adventure in Scarlet, which is a major plus for me. At first I was worried this book was going to be way too predictable, but I was proven wrong the more I kept reading, boy was I not disappointed. I enjoyed this book so much more than Cinder that I would recommend people read this series solely based off the awesomeness that is Scarlet. Scarlet has better characters, more adventure, better/less predictable twists, and like I mentioned earlier, the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale was by far superior to the Cinderella one. 

My Rating: 4.5/5 
7 comments
January 26, 2014

The Bookish Report

Here are all of the top bookish stories, blog posts, pictures, and videos I found this past week. I put this post up every Sunday so come back again next week for more bookish awesomeness. 

Click away and enjoy your Sunday!




News

These Broken Stars is going to be hitting the small screen.  This book just came out last month and I haven't even read it yet, and already it is being made into a television show. I feel like everything lately is based off of books. I love it and yet it makes me nervous.

As an English major myself I found this list of 16 signs that you were an English major spot on. 

I'm not a big science fiction fan when it comes to books and I'm not sure why. I have no problem watching science fiction movies or television shows (although I only watch a select few). I guess I'm just nervous because sometimes things are just a little too weird for me in science fiction books. Either way, instead of continuing to read my ramblings, you should read this post Your'e a Sci-Fan and You Don't Even Know It.


Blog Posts

If you are a writer or know someone that is then you really should read The Sweet Bookshelf's post about how to properly be a writer's friend. It has some good advice on there.

I have the perfect post for you to read if you are in the mood for a laugh. Stop by Book Love so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy her Funny Friday post.

The Novel Hermit has started a new feature on her blog all about different types of fonts. It is interesting and worth a peek.

Video
The first look of Outlander is here! (I know another book to t.v. adaptation, but I guess I'm a sucker.)


6 comments
January 23, 2014

Library Loot #14

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I really need to start reading some more adult books again. Anyway... I'm loving the library loot I picked up this week! Click on the covers to learn more about each book. Have you read any of these? Did you get any interesting books from the library as of late? Share in the comments below!

My Library Loot

                                 

                                     
9 comments
January 21, 2014

Review: Attachments by: Rainbow Rowell

Attachments by: Rainbow Rowell (2011)
336 pages
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Source: I purchased this one!
Goodreads Summary: "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

My Review

Attachments is the first book I have ever read by Rainbow Rowell. Attachments is cute, quirky, and fun, and I liked it a lot, but I didn't love it. 

The MC, Lincoln, is an adorable dork who is also kind of hot, and he reads the emails of Beth and Jennifer (best friends who have a quirky and wacky way with words) while at work. This story takes place when computers were becoming more popular, and therefore it is Lincoln’s job to read emails at his place of work (newspaper) that have been flagged to make sure his co-workers are not using their work emails for personal reasons. The best part of the setting of Attachments is that it takes place before the whole Y2K thing. I found it funny to see how much Lincoln’s boss was nervous about Y2K and the computers crashing, especially since I lived through all that and as far as I know all the hype was all for nothing as long as programs were updated. I also loved the newspaper setting because I used to work at one, and it is portrayed pretty darn well. So the setting was spot on, the characters are very likable, and Attachments is an incredibly cute novel but...

There really wasn't any sort of plot momentum or conflict until half way through the book, and as you all probably know by now, I’m not a fan of books that have a slow first half. However, once the book started to pick up pace I was hooked. It is charming and fun. The emails between Beth and Jennifer are funny and clever and Lincoln’s reactions to them are even more interesting. I know you may be thinking that this whole set up is kind of weird and creepy, a man falling for a girl just by reading her private and personal emails is creepy, but Rowell manages to work past it by showing Lincoln's issues and regret with reading the private emails, and the fact that he has to read the emails for work, making the situation a little less creepy. Anyway...

I do want to give a big round of applause for Rowell for how she handled Lincoln and Beth's meeting/interaction/real life discussion. It was perfect, okay it was a tad cheesy, but I like cheese. I awed and giggled a lot. I wish the ending wasn't quite so abrupt because I would have loved to get to spend more time seeing how Beth and Lincoln’s future unfolds, but other than that the ending was nice.

I recommend this book to Rowell fans and to those of you who are looking for a cute and funny romance novel to read. I know the beginning is kind of slow, but hang in there and you will be pleasantly surprised. 

10 comments
January 19, 2014

The Bookish Report

Here are all of the top bookish stories, blog posts, pictures, and videos I found this past week. I put this post up every Sunday so come back again next week for more bookish awesomeness. 

Click away and enjoy your Sunday!




News

With all the crazy stuff I see floating around on the internet lately I'm really starting to believe that people just have too much time on their hands. And yet, I still look at the funny photos and read the funny articles, so maybe I have too much time on my hands. Anyway, If Your Favorite Literary Icons Had Dating Profiles is one of those type of articles, but it is worth the read. 

Did you know that Gone Girl's ending was rewritten for the movie! What is up with that?

The cover to the last book in The Discovery of Witches trilogy has been revealed! I'm so excited for The Book of Life! There is also an excerpt

I really didn't realize so many book to movie adaptations were happening this year, although I shouldn't really be surprised. Although book to movie adaptations don't normally end all that well, I'm really excited about some of these, like Divergent.

Blog Posts

Do you ever forget what you read? I do. I read a lot of books and I just can't remember everything that I read. Sometimes I'll even start reading a book only to realize part way through that I have read it before. This isn't an issue as much anymore thanks to goodreads, but if this has ever happened to you I suggest you take a minute to read: Forgetting What I read: A Justification

I seriously didn't even know using hahstags in your blog post titles was a thing. Well apparently it is. 

Do you ever watch documentaries? I do on occasion and was super excited that Foil The Plot came out with this helpful list of documentaries you should give a chance. I watched Blackfish...I won't be going to SeaWorld ever.

There have been a few times where I have come across a book cover with someone on it that looks like a celebrity. With that being said, you must read:  Celebrity Doppelgangers on Young Adult Covers

Video

The first Game of Thrones season 4 preview is out!
10 comments
January 17, 2014

Coping 101: How to Handle an Emotional Read

We all wish that every book we read left us feeling like this...



In all reality many books make us feel like this for one reason or another.



Whether you are suffering from a series ending, a favorite character of yours dying, a break-up between the best fictional couple ever, or really any kind of book hangover, I suggest that you do the following.

It's okay to be in denial at first, but once you get past that stage try the following...

1. Scream and go a little crazy! Don't hold back.



2. Bang your head against a pillow.



3. Grab some tissues and have a good cry.



4. Throw something, preferably not at someone. (I usually throw the said book in question.)


5. Hug it out!


6. Eat something delicious and don't feel bad about it.


7. Have a drink.


8. Watch any light hearted movie or television show. I recommend Friends.


I hope some of these tips help, but in the end you just need to hang in there. Remember the best thing to make you feel better is to...

source: http://mindpetals.com/i-really-love-reading/
Fall in love with another book and read your heart out!

What do you like to do to help you get through a rough time after reading an emotional book?
6 comments
January 13, 2014

Review: Life As We Knew It by: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It (The Last Survivors #1) by: Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)
337 pages
Genre: YA/Survival
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: The Library
Goodreads Summary: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

My Review

A friend I work with was shocked when I told her I hadn’t read this book. Actually, I hadn’t even heard of it. She promised me that it was exactly the kind of book that I would like and that I should read it. So I did, and I’m really glad I did. Life As We Knew It did not disappoint.

Here is my long list of reasons as to why you should read Life As We Knew It:
  • Family is present and central in this book. This doesn’t happen very often in a lot of young adult books so this was a very nice change. I love the family relationships between mother and daughter and the siblings.
  • The book is told in journal entry format. I love when authors differ from the norm in how they tell their story.
  • There is this one scene with Miranda’s mother that blew my mind, was hilarious, and I could relate to it (I would have done the same thing she did). When they realize s*** is about to hit the fan her mom begins to stock up for the worse, and her trip with the kids to the local super market to get all the food and other supplies they may need to survive is chaotic and just plain entertaining.
  • Life As We Knew It is one of the better survival stories I have ever read. It was interesting to see how the community, Miranda and her family, and the world reacted to the moon incident. It also seemed very real, like maybe I should have an emergency pantry stocked with food and water just in case. This is a survival story at its finest.
  • Miranda grows throughout the book, making her so very real. She also never annoyed me, (which is a huge plus) and acts like a teenager when logical but also steps up as an adult when needed. I also liked all the other characters as well.
Here are the two minor issues I had with Life As We Knew It:
  • There isn’t a lot of action and the book is kind of slow at times, but that didn’t keep me from being engrossed in Miranda’s story so it wasn't a horrible thing.
  • It seemed a little weird that the scientists had no idea the moon was going to be hit hard enough to be pushed closer to Earth causing full blown chaos, but I’m no scientist and the book was too good for me to care about that small tiny detail.
So obviously I think you should read Life As We Knew It. Some people may not like the slower pace or how it is written in journal entries, but I still think it is worth a try. It is a great choice for all those survival story enthusiasts! I can’t wait to read the other books in the series, luckily I snagged them all from the library right after I finished this one.

4 comments
January 11, 2014

Bout of Books Challenge: Book Staging

Bout of Books
Book Staging
Hosted by: Midnight Book Girl

The Challenge: You know how real estate agents will stage an apartment to attract potential buyers?  Well, that’s what you’re going to do to a book! 

The Rules: Take a picture of a book you’re reading today, or any book you have lying around.  In the picture you should have the book in a setting, or surrounded by items, that represent the book.  It can mimic the cover, or represent characters/events/etc from the story.  Basically, make us want to read the book based on picture alone. This must be a picture YOU take and upload.  Simply stage the book, and upload a picture to your blog, Twitter or Goodreads account. If you don’t have any of these, than you can post your picture on my blog’s Facebook page.

I have never participated in a challenge like this before, but it was a blast. Enjoy the photo. I apologize for my poorly worded description. 


I staged Gretchen McNeil's Ten. I added the movies Clue and I Know What You Did Last Summer to the photo because Ten reminded me of those movies a little bit when I read it. I also added a knife with "blood" (aka ketchup) on it because it is a gory novel, and I thought it would catch someone's attention. I also played with the color a little and tried to make the photo give off a creepy/dark feeling to help emphasize that Ten is a horror novel. 
7 comments
January 10, 2014

Review: Vicious by: Victoria Schwab

Vicious by: Victoria Schwab (2013)
368 pages
Genre: Adult/Sci-Fi
Publisher: Tor
Source: The library.
Goodreads Summary: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

My Review

Victoria Schwab sure knows how to write a gripping novel. She was one of my favorite new author discoveries in 2013. Vicious is nothing like anything I have ever read before, in a very good way. Therefore, I was having a hard time putting how I feel into words, so I will keep this review short and sweet.

Vicious is dark and gritty and starts with a bang. The whole story reminds me a little of Batman and X-men. There is some scientific talk in this book and I was worried it would be so far over my head that I wouldn't enjoy it, but I was wrong. It wasn't a problem. The whole science take on Extra Ordinary people is unique and very interesting. 

The characters in Vicious are memorable and one of a kind. Victor and Eli are deliciously fascinating. I love that there isn't a good person or evil person, the line between right and wrong is blurred throughout the entire novel. I of course lean more towards Victor being nice and Eli being evil, but both are just really different, both have reasons for why they do the things they do, and both are crazy.

So there you have it, my very short review since this book was so shocking, intriguing, and different, that I just can't figure out what else to say about it. I can tell you to give it a try and read it, especially if you are in the mood for a dark book that involves super powers. But remember, this one doesn't have any “heroes,” and in my opinion this makes it all the more better.

2 comments
January 7, 2014

TTT #16 : My Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. 

1. Keep to a schedule/plan ahead with blog posts.

2. Take a break if needed and don't feel guilty about doing so.

3. Actually finish my TBR pile challenge and series challenge this year. Not to mention complete my goodreads challenge... so basically just read all the books!

4. Discover some new blogs and hopefully make some new close blogger friends.

5. Write more discussion posts and stick with my Book Recommendation feature.

6. Write reviews shortly after I finish a book, sooner rather than later.

7. Start and finish editing the novel I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo.

8. Write at least one new novel this year.

9. Do something different with the layout of the blog. I'm not sure what yet, but I feel it coming.

10. Make it to at least one author signing/bookish event. 
23 comments
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