Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Blog and Reading Resolutions

It’s almost 2016! I feel like 2015 flew by so fast, but at the same time, it seemed to take forever. How is that possible? But we made it! We have successfully completed a year of our lives. Woo! Time to celebrate!


Because it’s going to be a bright and shiny new year, I decided to make some New Year’s Resolutions. I also made some resolutions for 2015, so we’ll see how I did on those first.


In 2015 I made the following resolutions:

-Write 35 reviews. I’ve written 25 in 2014 and that’s pretty good for me, but I want to increase my review count.
-Post a bookshelf tour video. I’ve been promising you guys this for like 3 years. I just don’t have the best lighting or a good enough camera to really do it. [Insert sad face]
-Finish 20 series. I have multiple third books in a series that I need to read so that I can be finito.
-Read 10 adult books—doesn’t matter what genre. I just think I need to spread my wings a little bit.
-Read 3 classics (I have been dying to read Pride and Prejudice all the way through and I just don’t have time).
-Read 100 books for the year. This has been my Goodreads goal for the past three years and I’ve achieved it every time.
-Read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin because why not?

Of these seven resolutions, I’ve completed three of them. Those three are:

-Write 35 reviews. --I've actually written way more than that this year. I tried to count, but it was too much effort after I got to 35.
-Read 10 adult books.  -- Most of these books were for school, but they still count.
-Read 100 books for the year.  -- I’m still working on this one, but I’m confident I’ll have it done by midnight tonight.

The ones I haven’t completed include:

-Posting a bookshelf tour video. -- I just don’t think this one’s ever going to happen. As much as I want it too, I don’t have the equipment.
Finishing 20 series.  -- I was sooooo close to this one. I finished about 15 series this year, but I guess I forgot towards the end of the year that I was hoping to get to 20.
-Reading 3 classics. -- I’m not too upset about this one. I read Pride and Prejudice, and that was my main goal.
-Reading Outlander or the A Song of Ice and Fire series.  -- I actually don’t think I’ll be reading these books anytime soon. I watch the TV shows and I think that’s enough for now. (I know, book-lover blasphemy, right?)


For 2016, I’ve come up with the following resolutions:

-Read at least 50 books. -- I’m cutting my goal down since I’ve had so much trouble reaching 100 books in 2015.
-Read another Jane Austen book. -- I really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, and I have all of her books, so I think I should pick one up.
-Read at least 20 books that I owned before 2016. -- I have too many unread books on my shelves. The only way to solve this is to read more. End of story.
-Post on the blog as much as I did in 2015. -- I’m really proud of my blogging progress this year, so I hope 2016 is just as fruitful.
-Update/redesign the blog and take better Instagram photos. -- Yep. Sounds weird, but it’s a goal.

***

And there you have it, those are my New Year’s resolutions. What resolutions do you have this year? Any that are book-related? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

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

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

The Winner’s Kiss
(The Winner’s Trilogy #3)
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Hardcover, 352 pages, Farrar Straus & Giroux
Genres: YA, Fantasy

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.

But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?

My Thoughts

More Arin? Yes, please. 

Okay, so I wrote this post before the cover was changed. Now I must talk about it. I am mad. Not because I don't like the new covers, because I do, I just wish they had waited to change them until AFTER all of the hardcovers had been released. Plus, I do think the covers are eerily similar to the Throne of Glass books. 

As of this moment, I'm not going to buy the third book. I've got it on hold at my library and I'll read it, but my hardcover collection will forever remain incomplete. Perhaps I'll get the new paperbacks one day, because like I said, they are pretty.

*Edit:* They changed the cover back for the hardcover. Yay! I don't know if I should keep the book on hold at the library and just buy it later or just buy it when it comes out. Decisions, decisions.

 What say you on this issue and what book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’ve watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens twice now, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and feels. If you haven’t watched it, please don’t read this post unless you don’t care to get spoiled. I’ll try not to spoil anything, but I make no promises.

And, in case you have been living under a rock in the middle of nowhere for the past six months or so, here’s the trailer:


Okay, so my first point has to start with the opening scene. Did anyone else feel like bursting into tears when the music came on and the intro started scrolling up? I’m not even that big of a Star Wars fan, but I just felt so nostalgic. I also felt this way when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s trailer showed before the movie, even though I’d already seen it on my computer. I’m getting sappy in my old age. Hee.

I think I felt this way throughout the entire movie. It was just so surreal to see Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and the rest of the gang on the screen with the new cast. This new cast was fantastic, by the way! I think they did a great job of blending the newer feel from the prequels with the atmosphere of the original films. And Daisy Ridley as Rey is fantastic!!! Rey is an amazing, phenomenal, brilliant female character! And she’s amazing in that she isn’t feminized into being “female.” All of the women in this movie are not treated as inferiors because of their sex in any way whatsoever. Of course I don’t remember Leia or Padmé having this issue, either, so kudos to you, Star Wars. Daisy also really looks like some certain people who I won’t mention in detail. And Rey’s strength and will are just refreshing. I think she’s my new woman crush.

Finn and BB-8 were awesome. BB-8 is adorable and Finn is entertaining. I didn’t like the cast of the bad guys, for spoiler-y reasons I shall not mention beyond their appearance. But the eh-ness of the bad guys was overshadowed by the old cast. Yes, they weren’t in the prime of their lives, but they looked good.

The plot was a little bit familiar towards the ending, but the beginning was new and awesome. Rey and Finn’s mysterious origins have my family coming up with wild theories and Googling possible answers to all the questions the movie poses. The movie’s plot itself isn’t confusing in any way, but after it’s over, you keep asking who people are and why they are where they are.

All in all, you have to see this movie. It is a fantastic addition to the franchise and a fun movie to see if you don’t even know anything about the Star Wars world. I’d recommend this to EVERYONE!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: Coach Maddie and the Marine by Blaire Edens

Coach Maddie and the Marine
Publication Date: January 11, 2016
ebook, Entangled Publishing (Bliss)
Genres: Adult, Romance

After the combat death of her Marine husband, grief counselor Maddie Westerfield has thrown herself into helping other families—leaving no time for dating. Which is just fine with Maddie since falling in love again, especially with another man in uniform, is out of the question. No matter how gorgeous he is. Plus, she’s busy looking after her eight-year-old nephew for her deployed sister.

For the last eight years, Lieutenant David Sterling has lived with the guilt of losing one of his soldiers in an ambush in Afghanistan. So when the opportunity presents itself, he jumps at the chance to help the beautiful widow coach her nephew’s football team. But keeping things strictly professional between them is harder than he expected. And even though he knows a relationship with Maddie will only lead to heartbreak, he can't help falling for her.

My Review

Why yes, yes a woman can coach a football team. And thank you, Blaire Edens, for writing a book where a woman doesn’t have the typical “female-romance-character” job, or in this case, maybe I should say hobby? Since Maddie’s real job is a counseling position… Oh, well. The point is that Maddie Westerfield is showing that she can be just as good as the guys, and I really like that.

The characters in this clean romance story are more developed than some of the typical romance characters out there. David’s past gives him a unique background and Maddie’s sister’s deployment and her own experiences make up a fully functioning individual. And of course, Andrew is cute—as he’ll no doubt be willing to tell you himself. I do wish Andrew had a little more interaction in the story, though, just because his interactions with Maddie and David are adorable.

But while these characters are distinctive and do have their own personalities, I found Maddie’s lack of confidence and the way people treated her just because she is a woman very disturbing. While women are often underappreciated and unrecognized in society, simply because they aren’t as “take-charge” as men (because society hasn’t taught them to be that way), this idea is never recognized in the story. Maddie just accepts the fact that all of the football kids’ parents respect Lieutenant David Sterling and not her. It made me feel sorry for her, as well as a little sick inside.

I’ll move on from that piece of negativity, though, and go to a more light-hearted topic—the plot. Of course, since this book is a romance, it’s obvious there will be some form of Happily Ever After. And there is. What’s good about this book’s HEA, however, is that it’s very realistic in its journey, with only one exception. The ending was too fast and convenient. If not for that, this book would have provided a very satisfying, realistic, and motivating read, minus the disrespect shown to Maddie because of her sex.

All in all, I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick, romantic read in his or her life. It will pick you up, give you the warm-and-fuzzies, and leave you smiling afterwards.


*Note: I received a copy of this book to review via Netgalley. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Christmas Haul

As most everyone knows, it was Christmas a couple of days ago, and since Christmas was on a Friday and I was busy all day, I didn’t post my Christmas haul on Saturday with my Stacking the Shelves pics. Instead, I’m going to post them today, so you guys don’t have to wait to see it.


There was only one single book in this haul, plus two box sets: The Blood of Olympus and the new editions of The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series.

I also got three Funko Pop!s: Katniss, Peeta, and Castiel. The other stuff includes (from left to right): a Supernatural “My Fandom is Better Than Your Fandom” t-shirt, a purple tool-kit, Aladdin on DVD, a Kohl’s and a Victoria Secret gift card, and some chocolate.

All in all, Christmas yielded a pretty good haul this year. My mom also said she got me something else, but I’ll wait to share that in another post.

Let me know what goodies you got for Christmas. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, what goodies did you get this week?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: The Funny Stories Edition


"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme that is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

I didn’t buy a single books this week! Unfortunately though, I had to pay for a $200 test, so there’s that.

So, how did I get these books, you ask. Well, I was lucky enough to win TWO giveaways. Woot! Woot!

The Wild Ones by C. Alexander London
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I won all of these books from Penguin Teen’s Marie Lu Holiday Book Wish List Sweepstakes. Thank you, Penguin!!!

I also won another book:

Persuasion by Martina Boone

I got this one from Brenda Drake. Thank you, Brenda!

There’s funny stories for both of these hauls. The first story: The Penguin Teen box came at the same time a Christmas present my mom ordered came in, so my dad thought the box was something my mom had ordered online. Thus, he scooped it up and hid it in his room. When my mom went to wrap it, she was very confused because she didn’t order any of the books inside. I’m surprised they didn’t just wrap the box anyway.

The second story: I went home for Thanksgiving break when Persuasion was supposed to be delivered. However, the UPS man left no note (that I found) to say there was an attempted delivery. I had to contact UPS who said the package had already been shipped back to Barnes and Noble, but Brenda was nice enough to send it again. Thank you again, Brenda!

Oh, and be on the lookout for my Christmas haul tomorrow. I just need some time to gather it all up and take some good pictures. :)

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Dean Winchester Friday + Christmas!!!

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the pic.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=dean+christmas+supernatural+image&view=detailv2&&id=D988D38ED8F521C6F7C421B84A64C481EF46940E&selectedIndex=27&ccid=aErDNIs%2b&simid=607999191807493117&thid=JN.s8AwHJvq0NpM%2b2YMAYE4Ig&ajaxhist=0

It’s Christmas! But it’s also Friday! And I found this image and it’s perfect. Don’t you agree?

MERRY CHRISTMAS to those that celebrate! If you don’t celebrate, then HAPPY DEAN WINCHESTER FRIDAY!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Top 5 Covers of 2015

It’s that time of year again. The time I round up all of the books and decide which covers really stood out and which ones had me in a state of awe.


Unfortunately, 2015 hasn’t been the greatest year for me—cover-wise. I haven’t been too terribly impressed with some of the designs. I think it’s because a lot of publishers are moving away from cover models and more to inanimate objects, but I like the cover models better.

So, for this post, I will simply be giving you exactly what the title says: My Top 5 Covers of 2015. These are all 2015 releases. Also, I may not have read the book yet, so please don’t spoil anything in the comments. Thanks!

I decided to only do five books because there aren’t a lot of 2015 releases that had my eyes going “Oooooo,” so narrowing it down to five was just easier. I do have some honorable mentions to name, though. The two book covers that came so very close to being in my Top 5 are, in no particular order, Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes and Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas.

Now, onto the real Top 5!

Death Marked by Leah Cypess

Like I said, normally I don’t like the inanimate object on the book cover, but this tower/castle building thing is so beautiful. And that purply-pink color is gorgeous. I love this one more than the first book’s cover, and that one was pretty too. I also love how the soft pink color is mixed in with the grays. It gives the book an earthy feel, but it’s still magical. Plus, I really like the typeface choice for the title. I’m not a huge fan of the covers with just large typography on them. I like something else to feast my eyes on, so this title font suits me well.

Check out my review of the book.

Reborn by Jennifer Rush

It’s hard to find a book with a boy cover model on it. I think the only genre that really has this is contemporary YA, and most of the time there’s a girl in the picture, too. I like that the books in this series have boys on the covers, simply because those boys are a central part of the story. Now, their shirtless state is just an added bonus. Although, the second book’s cover had a really young looking boy on it. I didn’t find that appealing. But the gray-scaled background with that amazing blue color behind the font is just beautiful (the other books have orange and green and are just as pretty).

Check out my review of the book.

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

I haven’t read this book, nor do I own it, so I don’t know if it’s as pretty in person as it is on my screen, but I’m betting it is. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the background and the way the cover model is positioned. She’s mimicking Sleeping Beauty’s position, without actually being prone and lifeless. I also really like the dress she’s wearing. I think I have a weakness for book’s with cover models in white dresses (*cough* The One by Kiera Cass *cough*). And the gold lettering really stands out against the cover image, without detracting from it.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Okay, I think it’s obvious why I had to put this cover on my list. This thing is so fantastically lovely. The silver and the red and white with the black lettering. I swear I have a drooling fit every time I look at it. You would think an upside-down crown all by itself wouldn’t cause so much cover lust, but it does. It just does.

Check out my review of the book.

Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Yes. This is it. My #1 cover of 2015. Why? Because it’s gorgeous. It’s light purple and dark purple and more purple! I love purple, just in case you hadn’t noticed. I mean, I’m sure it’s not obvious with my blog being the color it is, or anything. I have to admit that I didn’t really see the appeal of the first two books’ covers, but this one. This one is just begging me to pet it. A lot.

***

I almost forgot, I have one more cover to share with you. This is the cover that I believe to be the worst of 2015.


Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I don’t think this one would have been so bad if it hadn’t been for the fact that I actually really liked the first two books’ covers. When Harlequin Teen announced the cover change, I think I died a little inside. I’ve seen a fan-made version on Goodreads and it looks so beautiful. Right now, this book looks so plain and blah, and that is definitely not what the inside of the book is like.


I really hope another cover change for all three books happens sometime in the future—a better one.

***

Well, there you have it. Those are the best book covers of 2015. Of course, these are just my opinions (but they’re the right opinions. Jk. Mostly.), so feel free to disagree. If you do disagree, or if you have other covers you’d like to share some love for, feel free to do so in the comments! I love seeing beautiful book covers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

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

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

The Shadow Queen
(Ravenspire #1)
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Hardcover, 400 pages, Balzer + Bray
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

My Thoughts

Gimme. Gimme. Gimme. This book just needs to be in my hands right now.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Top 5 Reads of 2015

It’s that time of year again. The time I look over every book I’ve read and decide which ones made a more lasting impression on me, as well as just completely knocked my socks off. 


So, for this post, I will simply be giving you exactly what the title says: My Top 5 Reads of 2015. Now, these won’t necessarily be 2015 releases; they’re just books I’ve read in 2015. Oh, and I know 2015 isn’t over yet, but I don’t plan on reading any book as awesome as these five in the next couple of weeks.

I decided to only do five books because I only had about eight or so that I even considered to be part of my Top 10, so narrowing it down to five was just easier. I do have some honorable mentions to name, though. The two books that came so very close to being in my Top 5 are, in no particular order, The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

Now, onto the real Top 5!
Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I don’t think any yearly reading list is complete without a JLA book in there somewhere. And while this book had a few predictable scenes, it was still a really good, fun, sexy paranormal book and I can’t wait to read the sequel. When would Torn be coming out, Ms. Armentrout? Could we dedicated and needy fans please have a date? And a cover?

To better understand why this book made it onto my Top 5, check out my review.


This book provided me with a wealth of feels. But it wasn’t just a touchy-feely kind of read. It actually made me smile. A lot. And I just really enjoy reading LGBT literature. The world needs more of it and I want to read more of it. That being said, Albertalli’s debut was a great addition to a category that needs to expand so I can read about all kinds of types of love! :)

To better understand why this book made it onto my Top 5, check out my review.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Oh, this book. I put off reading it for a long time, just because I’m getting tired of having to do the year-long wait between release dates of sequels. However, I just couldn’t take the mystery anymore. I had to know what the big deal was. And boy, did I find out. I need to get my hands on the sequels. I’ve been biding my time for the second book, just so I don’t have to wait as long, but I have a feeling it’s going to happen. Soon.

To better understand why this book made it onto my Top 5, check out my review.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

How can I make you all understand the love I have for this book? I don’t even think I understand it half of the time. It’s just so lyrical and magical. Plus, the characters are all fierce and tormented and it just makes for a fantastic YA romance and fantasy read. Oh, and TEAM KHALID!

Seriously though, this book is like a smidgeon away from being my #1 pick. Maybe the second book (Why is it so far away!?) will knock it into the #1 spot for next year.

To better understand why this book made it onto my Top 5, check out my review.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Is anyone surprised that this is my #1 pick? Well if you are, you shouldn’t be. I’ve only gushed about it almost every day since I’ve read it. I love the world and the power system in this story. Superpowers are cool on their own, but when you add in royalty and blood types and hot boys (*cough* Cal *cough*), I just can’t handle myself. I’m ridiculously excited for Glass Sword (only a couple more months, come on Rachelle, you can make it!) and the subsequent books being released after it. 


And just FYI, I’m going to meet Victoria on Glass Sword’s release date. And get my books SIGNED! You can’t hear it, but I’m cackling to myself right now.

To better understand why this book made it onto my Top 5, check out my review.

***

Well, there you have it. Those are the best books I’ve read in 2015. Of course, these are just my opinions (but they’re the right opinions. Jk. Mostly.), so feel free to disagree. If you do disagree, or if you have other books you’d like to share some love for, feel free to do so in the comments! I love hearing about great books!