December 31, 2012

2013 Series Catch-Up Challange

This challenged is hosted by Lost at Midnight Reviews and Emilie's Book World. I'm sure you have all been there, you start a series but never seem to finish it. I do that often and read so many different series that I have decided that this is the perfect challenge for me!

Details HERE // Start Date: 1/1/2013 // End Date: 12/31/2013

My Goal: Series Caught Up On - Series Lover (8 series)

  1. Darkness Rising Series by: Kelley Armstrong (1 book)
  2. The Strain Series by: Guillermo Del Toro (2 books)
  3. Myron Boltaire Series by: Harlan Coben (1 book)
  4. Outlander Series by: Diana Gabaldon (6 books)
  5. Immortal Beloved Series by: Cate Tiernan (1 book)
  6. Heather Wells Mystery Series by: Meg Cabot (1 book)
  7. Insatiable Series by: Meg Cabot (1 book)
  8. Neighbor from Hell Series by: R.L. Mathewson (1 book)


2013 TBR Pile Challenge

Since I just started blogging in June of 2012 this will be the first challenge that I  have ever participated in! I found this wonderful challenge over at Roof Beam Reader. It seemed like a perfect fit since my TBR list always seems to grow, and never gets smaller.

Details HERE // Start Date: 1/1/2013 // End Date: 12/31/2013

My 2013 TBR Pile Challenge List:

1. Vanity Fair by: William Makepeace Thackeray (1848)
2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by: Junot Diaz (2007)
3. Fahernheit 451 by: Ray Bardbury (1953)
4. The Submission by: Amy Waldman (2011)
5. The Penelopiad by: Margaret Attwood (2006)
6. City of Bones by: Cassandra Clare (2007)
8. The Lost Symbol by: Dan Brown (2009)
9. The Giver by: Lois Lowry (1993)
10. Cosmopolis by: Don DeLillo (2003)
11. The Diary of a Young Girl by:Anne Frank (1952)
12. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by: Laini Taylor (2011)

1.11/22/63 by: Stephen King (2011)
2. A Great and Terrible Beauty by: Libba Bray (2003)

December 28, 2012

My Christmas Loot

Here is a list of the books that I received this year for Christmas! (These totally made up for the fact that I had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.)

At first I was a little disappointed that I didn't get that many books for Christmas, and then I emptied my stocking from Santa and inside was a $100...

I'm not sure what books I am going to buy yet, but I'm super excited!

Did you get any good books for Christmas? Share below in the comments section!

December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope you all have an amazing day. I will be at work and then having family time!

Here is an older and funny music video for your enjoyment! I confess, I still listen to this song every Christmas.

December 20, 2012

Review: Monument 14 by: Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14 by: Emmy Laybourne (2012)
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
294 pages
Genre: Dystopian/ YA/Survival

Summary: The year is 2024 and a horrible hailstorm, a tsunami, earthquakes and a chemical spill tears the nation apart. Fourteen kids ranging from kindergartners to seniors in high school are stuck in a superstore. They must work together to stay alive. Dean, one of the high school kids, is a writer and this story is his journal of what happens inside the store.

Review: From the very first page of this book I was captivated. If you haven’t read this book yet then you absolutely need to. It isn't perfect, but it reals you in. I really enjoyed it and will be reading the next one.

“I expected the story of our hailstorm to be all over the news. It wasn't. Our little hailstorm was nothing.” (pg. 33)

Warning: Once you start reading this book you will not want to put it down. Even the cover is captivating. You will also start to wonder what your response would be, and how you would act, in this situation of survival.

Let’s talk about the characters. I have a mostly love with a tiny bit of hate relationship with the characters in this book. At first I was concerned that the age of some of the children would annoy me, it is hard for me to read books where the main characters aren't at least 17. I was dead wrong to be concerned. Every kid in this book makes you feel for them in some way or another. They are in no way annoying; they are interesting, cute, funny, and heartbreaking. The author not only created wonderful memorable characters, but she made them believable. These kids are trapped without their parents in a superstore when the world around them is crumbling and their actions make them seem real, from screaming for their mothers, to being so tough that you would never guess how young they are.  Alex, Dean’s younger brother, is my favorite character and I promise you will love him too.

There is only one problem with this book and yes it deals with the characters I just raved about. This book doesn't do a great job at portraying women. They are kind of cliched and somewhat stereotyped. The strong boys fight it out to be the leader of the group, but what about the girls? They are usually portrayed as the weaker ones. I also want to note that I do realize that this book reads a little like the breakfast club, which is a little annoying, but this divide between cool and uncool kids is still present in our society. Therefore that part didn't bother me that much, especially because in the end the kids show us that it isn't about who is popular and who is not. What is really nice is that Dean is the main character of this novel and he is just an average kid.

I don’t want to say anything else about the plot and the actions the kids take to survive. I want you to be surprised like I was. All I will say is this; the chemical spill is interesting and a twist that I thoroughly enjoyed. I know I have some negativity in this review but this is still a really good book. 

I do have some good news. If you read this book now, you only have to wait until May to get your hands on the next one. Trust me when I say that you will be waiting impatiently. The one thing this book doesn't give you is answers to all  of your questions.

Rating: 5/5   BUY Monument 14
December 19, 2012

Library Loot #4

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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.

My Library Loot 

The Borrower by: Rebecca Makkai
  • This book was recommended to me by my mother. So far it's really good.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by: Michelle Hodkin
  • I've heard so much about this book for a long time, so I finally decided to pick it up from the library.
Cloaked and Bewitching by: Alex Flinn
  • I read Beastly and enjoyed it so I went ahead and got two more books by Alex Flinn to check out.

I didn't get a whole lot of books but I still have one left over from my last library trip and it will probably be a little busy with the holidays. I'm guessing I won't have a lot of time to read.

December 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays #1

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Make sure to share the title and the author too!

My Teasers
"He dropped down on the floor so I couldn't see him. "You mean you're closed on both those days too? So you're closed for three days?" (pg. 65)
"I refused to have bookshelves, horrified that I'd feel compelled to organize the books in some regimented system-Dewey or alphabetical or worse-and so the books lived in stacks, some as tall as me, in the most subjective order I could invent." (pg. 30) 
~ The Borrower by: Rebecca Makkai 

I just started this book and I am already hooked. So far it is a very lively read and perfect for book lovers. A review will be up soon! Hope you enjoy the teasers!
December 14, 2012

Review: Hidden by: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Hidden (House of Night #10) by: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast (2012)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
320 pages
Genre: Fantasy/Vampire/YA
*Review contains spoilers of the previous books in the series.*

Summary: The series continues right where it left off with Zoey Redbird and her friends fighting darkness. The Vampyre High Council finally knows about Neferet, but as always, more issues are still to come.

Review: The second half of this novel was really good, but the first half just seemed more of the same old same old.

Although I was originally a huge fan of the House of Night series, with every new book my interest seems to drift farther and farther away.  I don’t want to be a drag, I am still interested. I still want to find out the conclusion of this series, and Stark and Grandma are my favorite characters that I can’t get enough of. There is just so much repetitiveness.

No offense to the cute, nice, human, Health, but I have had enough. Stark and Zoey just need to be together and be happy. I really don’t want to see anymore love triangle drama. I also am starting to get annoyed with Neferet. It took 10 books before the High Council found out the truth, and yet I feel like she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’m kind of ready for the big battle... that better happen.

I will say that there are actually two twists in this novel and they are pretty good. They made me more excited about the novel and I read the last 100 pages of the book like there was no tomorrow. On the other hand, everything else I could predict, like I said, it’s somewhat repetitive.

Another good aspect of this book is the character development of Zoey. She finally seems to grow and start to become an adult. I know she has had mature moments before, but she still, for the most part, acted like a child, not someone the Goddess has gifted. I know she is just a teenager, but with everything she has been through one would think that she would be a little more mature, and we finally get to see that in this novel.

If you like the series, you might as well keep reading it, you have lasted this long already and the ending alone will be worth it. If you have yet to read any books in this series, be warned. The series starts off really good, but the authors are really starting to drag this out. Even the covers have gotten boring. 

Rating: 3/5   BUY Hidden
December 12, 2012

A Pile of Mini Book Reviews: The Lifeboat, Guilty Wives, & Reflected in You

There are several books that I have read recently, but I haven't had the time to review each one. So I decided to throw them together in a post with a brief review of each book. Hopefully this doesn't happen very often, but here you go, three totally different book reviews.

The Lifeboat by: Charlotte Rogan (2012)
Genre: Fiction/Survival

Summary: Grace Winter has a semi-impromptu marriage to Henry, and while they are on board an ocean liner in 1914 there is an explosion. Henry sacrifices himself and gives Grace a spot on the lifeboat. This novel tells the story of Grace, and her time as a wife, widow, survivor, and maybe soon to be prisoner.

Review: This novel was thought provoking and very well written. I enjoyed reading Grace's story. The only downside to this book is that I wanted more. I wanted more action and I wanted more information about Henry and Grace's relationship. However, the author does an amazing job at knowing when to switch from the present, where grace is on trial, to the past, when she is in the lifeboat. This book is worth your time.

Rating: 4/5  BUY The Lifeboat

Guilty Wives by: James Patterson and David Ellis (2012)
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Summary: Four best friends take a mini vacation in Monte Carlo to get away from their stressful lives and relationships. Their vacation gets a little crazy and after a hard night of partying they wake up to find themselves being handcuffed and taken in for questioning. Now they must fight to stay alive and convince everyone that they are innocent.

Review: It's a typical James Patterson book, and not one of his best. Although the story has some good shocking revalations for the reader, it isn't as creative as I would have liked. Originally I thought all these wives would be stuck up and married to millionaires, but that isn't the case. There is a lot more to these characters then I expected, the highlight of the novel. The main wife, Abbie, is such a strong woman that all I could do was root her on in her race to find the truth.

Rating: 3/5  BUY Guilty Wives

Reflected in You by: Sylvia Day (2012)
Genre: Steamy Romance

Summary: The sequel to Bared to You, a novel for fans of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Gideon is rich and falls for Eva. They both have some demons from their past that they are fighting while trying to make their relationship work.

Review: This book takes you on an incredibly crazy and intense emotional roller coaster ride. If you liked the first book you will like this one, for the most part. I enjoyed it more than Fifty, partly because it is better written. This is a good guilty pleasure book and the ending is delicious. I do want to give you one warning, this book gets redundant  they fight, they are fine, they fight, they are fine... there is a lot of that in this book and it gets a little frustrating. Too much of this back and forth made me only give it a 3.

Rating  3/5   BUY Reflected in You

December 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday #2: Top Ten Favorite New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted over at The Broke and the BookishThis list is in no particular order. Each author's name is paired with the picture of the book that I read by that author. I usually read more young adult books than anything else but surprisingly there are not many on this list, probably because I have a tendency to stick to authors I already know I like.

Robin Wasserman

R.L. Mathewson

Diana Gaboldon

Paula McLain

Charlotte Rogan

Rachel Bertsche

Stephen Hunter

Marissa Meyer

Markus Zusak

Carl Hiaasen

December 6, 2012

Review: Carnival of Souls by: Melissa Marr

Carnival of Souls by: Melissa Marr (2012)
Publisher: HarperCollins
320 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy

Summary: I couldn’t do this summary justice so I took this off the Barnes and Noble website. “In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.”

Review: I am a fan of Melissa Marr’s other young adult novels so I gave this one a try. I was in no way disappointed.

I am still a little shocked that this is a young adult novel. I know there is “The Hunger Games” where teens are forced to fight to the death, but this goes beyond that. So here is my warning, there are some very in your face adult sexual themes and death in this book.

There are three main characters in this novel. Kaleb is a daimon, one that struggles to stay alive in the caste system of The City. He will do anything to make sure him and his pack mate can live, and I mean anything. Aya also plays with fire and is handling adult situations, and let’s not forget about Mallory. She doesn’t live in The City, but in the mortal world where witches have been forced to live, and she lives a very interesting life.

There is no shortage of action, romance, mystery, and friendship in this book. There are twists and turns that will make your head spin and action scenes with Aya and Kaleb that will make you root for them like no tomorrow.

Although this book can be somewhat confusing at times, don’t give up hope. Everything becomes clearer the more you read. You may have to double back and re-read a few passages but it will be worth it. The complex world that Marr created is nothing short of cringe worthy awesomeness.

Are you a fan of Melissa Marr? Did you enjoy “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” and other books like those? If you answered yes to those questions then there is no doubt in  my mind that you will enjoy this one. Even the cover is enticing.

Rating: 5/5   BUY Carnival of Souls
December 5, 2012

Book Review: Outlander by: Diana Gabaldon

Outlander by: Diana Gabaldon (1991)
Publisher: Bantam Dell
850 pages
Genre: Fantasy/Historical/Romance

Summary: Claire Randall was an army nurse. Once the war ended she was reunited with her husband. The year was 1945. On their second honeymoon, she touches an ancient stone that sends her into the past. Now the year is 1743 and she is in the middle of Scotland where she must try to stay alive and where she meets the irresistible James Fraser.

Review: I was cruising the internet one day looking for a good romantic novel. I’m not usually that into romance novels but the mood hit me. This book kept popping up over and over again in my search results. Although the plot didn't pull me in at first, I ended up checking the book out at the library.

This book is a great romantic novel. Don't worry, it is also full of fight scenes, adventures, escapes, and of course, men in kilts. My favorite part of the novel is James and Claire's relationship. I very much enjoy their relationship and above everything else, I enjoy reading about an adult relationship. I love young adult novels but this relationship is better, even though there are secrets and centuries between them, their shyness and honesty are genuine. James is the perfect fictional character from a book to have a crush on. 

Gabaldon did a great job at making the reader truly believe they are actually in Scotland during the 1700s. She writes so vividly and is amazing at depicting the physical and emotional drama of the characters. There is only one downside to the amazingly real descriptions Gabaldon gives us. There are some brutal torture scenes that are somewhat unnerving to read. It made me hate the evil scum that tortures people beyond my imagination and sometimes it really rolled my stomach. I suffered through and although it was hard to read, it really showed the characters in a very personal light and made you connect with them even more.

This book is a big novel and took me longer than it normally takes me to read most books, but it wasn't drawn out. I soaked up every sentence on every page. The worst problem was that it ended and I realized that there are many more books in the series. At least the ending didn't totally leave me hanging.

Grab this book next time you are at the library, especially if you are looking for a good romance novel to sink your teeth into to help you forget about the real world.

Rating: 4/5      BUY Outlander
December 2, 2012

Editing College Papers 101

The fall semester is coming to a close and I'm sure all of the college students out there are starting to get a little overwhelmed with the amount of papers they have to write. I have been in your position before and I learned the hard way how important it is to do some kind of editing before turning in a paper.

You might as well try these tips. What have you got to lose besides getting a higher grade and feeling good about yourself, getting wonderful praise from your family, plus bragging rights to your friends?

Easy and Quick Editing Tips

  • Once you finish your paper, even if you are a procrastinator, if you leave just enough time to read your paper out loud you will be able to catch a whole bunch of small errors that you may have not noticed before. This doesn't take long and it will be worth it. You will catch things that spell check in Word can't. Of course I also suggest you don't do this somewhere public, you may look a little funny, but if you don't care what other people think then go for it!
  • Seriously, have a friend, boyfriend, rommmate, parent, sibling, or even your teacher read over your paper once you finish it. Even if you have already edited it yourself, having a fresh set of eyes can really help. Don't be nervous about asking for help, I loved it when my friends asked me to read over and edit their papers, I was honored, especially being an English major and all. If you have that English major friend don't feel bad about taking advantage of that.
  • Don't always do all your editing from the computer. I know that this may waste ink, which is an expense a college student can't really afford, but it will be worth it. I always find it a lot easier to catch mistakes while reading it from a piece of paper than on the computer screen. Plus, it is probably better for your eyes anyway.
  • If you just finished that horrible 10 page research paper you proabbly are not in the right mind set to edit it right away. Just put it aside and look it over once before turning it in. Taking some time away will help you notice things that you may not catch after you have been writing that stupid annoying paper for five hours. Also, if you happen to be a procrastinator, I've been there, then you may be up late at night finishing your paper before it is due the next day. Once you finish take a power nap and then edit it before going into class. Just make sure you leave at least an hour before class for editing.
  • If you are currently writing your 5th paper for a class I'm going to guess that you have gotten some feedback from earlier papers you have written from your professor, at least from a good professor anyway. Take a look at those papers. You may be continually making a small mistake over and over again and with that knowledge you will be able to look for it in your current paper. Perhaps you forget transitions or always have hanging quotations. If you still have those other papers, take a look at them, knowing what your teacher looks for when grading papers is helpful.
Some things to look for when editing your paper
  1. Grammar (punctuation, fragments, etc.)
  2. Spelling
  3. Capitalization
  4. Repetitive Words
  5. Check to make sure your thesis statement matches your conclusion
  6. Good Transitions
  7. Hanging Quotations
  8. Be consistent with how you refer to places, people, etc.
  9. Any specifications given by your professor including word length, title, answering the prompt, etc.
You may not have the time to look for all of these things or perform all of these tips, but remember that doing something is better than doing nothing. 

Feel free to share any comments you may have or to give your own editing tips in the comment section below.
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