Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Lifeblood by Gena Showalter

(Everlife #2)
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Hardcover, 443 pages, Harlequin Teen
Genres: YA, Paranormal

My Firstlife is over, but my Everlife is only now beginning.

With her last living breath, Tenley "Ten" Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences.

Because Ten possesses a rare supernatural ability to absorb and share light, the Powers That Be have the highest expectations for her future—and the enemy wants her neutralized. Fighting to save her Secondlife, she must learn about her realm from the ground up while launching her first mission: convincing a select group of humans to join her side before they die. No pressure, right?

But Ten's competition is Killian, the boy she can't forget—the one who gave up everything for her happiness. He has only one shot at redemption: beating Ten at a game she's never even played. As their throw-downs heat up, so do their undeniable feelings, and soon, Ten will have to make another choice. Love…or victory.

My Review

Firstlife was a fun read, if a bit odd and scattered. There was a spunky heroine, a couple of hunky guys, and a unique paranormal-esque world to keep my attention. While most of those things continued on in Lifeblood, they seemed to have lost momentum since book one.

Ten is still spunky, which is fine. She has some sass to her, but that sass seemed to get in the way of actually getting to know her as a person. She’s too obsessed with numbers and being all goody two-shoes for readers to even connect with her. Don’t get me wrong, her obsession with numbers is a great quality, but she doesn’t have any realness to her other than that oftentimes distracting characteristic. She doesn’t even spend enough time with her family in book two for readers to get a sense of how she would interact with them.

Part of the reason it’s hard to get to know Ten is how fast-paced the book was. A lot of things needed to be slowed down for not only character development, but also world and relationship development. It was difficult to get to know other characters and to even care about them when something bad would happen to them. It was also hard to understand the limitations of the Troikan and Myridian powers in this sequel. I was constantly asking myself questions: Why can Ten do this? Why couldn’t she do that earlier? Why can this person do that? How does this thing connect to that other magical thing from before? Why is this character acting like Ten’s servant? Why does Killian/Asher/Deacon/anybody even like Ten? Like I said, I was confused.

Part of that confusion may have been my fault. I didn’t remember a whole lot from Firstlife. And, while I believe there is a glossary at the beginning of the book that outlines some of the terms in the Myridian and Troikan realms, reading Lifeblood in ebook form and trying to flip back and forth isn’t an easy feat.

All in all, I do have to hand it to Gena for trying to build a unique world in a time period where the same ol’ same ol’ fantasy and paranormal books are all the craze. I just wish she’d taken the time to really build a world where the rules and restrictions are clearly set out for readers. And, while I’m a little let down by this series, enough to where I’m not sure if I’ll pick up book three, I definitely won’t be giving up on Gena’s future non-Everlife books anytime soon.

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Thoughts on the Beauty & the Beast Trailer

I thought I’d share my thoughts and feels about the new Beauty & the Beast trailer. In case you haven’t seen it, I’ve posted it below:

Okay, so I have to admit that I was super pumped about the cast when I originally heard who was playing which character. Now, though, I’m having a few doubts. While I still love the idea of Hermione, err… Emma Watson playing Belle, I’m not making the mental connection between the two in this trailer. Hopefully, though, that’s just because it’s a trailer, not the film. Also, if you’d like to see Emma singing “Belle,” I’ve linked that for you. I enjoyed it, but, again, I have my doubts.

As for the rest of the cast, I like Luke Evans, despite some people I know (*cough* my sister *cough*) not approving of his lack of a barge-like build. Unfortunately, Ewan McGregor’s French accent for Lumiere is tripping me up. Oh, and so is Chip’s. He doesn’t have an accent, but the voice isn’t right. Ian McKellan as Cogsworth is fine, and most of the other cast is good. I guess I just really want the voices from the cartoon for this film, but that’s obviously not going to happen.

My biggest problem comes in the form of what the animated characters look like. The Beast doesn’t look beastly. He looks like a well-groomed, CGI antelope. I need him to be scruffy and dangerous looking. Fortunately, I do very much like the actor they got to play him. Sadly, in my opinion, Mrs. Pots, Cogsworth, and Lumiere also look strange. I guess I thought those three would look more like their cartoon selves. I was kind of hoping they would, actually.

One thing that is on point, though, is the music. LOVE IT. Of course, most of it’s from the original version, so not a whole lot could go wrong there. Additionally, Belle’s more intense and dramatic scenes are very well done. I guess I’m just a little iffy on Watson’s more light-hearted scenes in the beginning of the trailer and movie.

All in all, I love the castle, the scenery, most of the cast, and the nostalgia. I really want this movie to be awesome, as it and The Jungle Book are really setting the standard for how I feel about all of the upcoming live-action Disney movies. (Aladdin, Lion King, and Mulan, here I come!)

Let me know your Beauty & the Beast thoughts in the comments!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stacking the Shelves: The Buttons Edition

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

I probably won’t be buying any books over the next few months. I’m trying to save money for when I move. That being said, I do actually have something to share with you.

These are the buttons fans got for pre-ordering the fifth book in the Falling Kingdoms series, Crystal Storm. These were delivered a while ago, but I had them delivered to my parents’ house because I thought they would arrive over the winter break—they didn’t. They’re very pretty, but I still don’t think Cleo is who’s depicted on the first book.

What books (or swag) have you bought/received lately?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Dean Winchester Friday

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

Have I posted this before? I don’t know if I have… Even if I did, you should just watch it again. I mean, it’s Jensen Ackles singing. How much better could a video get?

Side note: This video is not mine. It belongs to the owner of the YouTube channel (unless that person stole it from someone else…?).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New York Trip Recap (Days 4 & 5)

This is a recap of Day 4 and 5 of my NYC trip, so if you haven’t read the Day 1, Day 2, or Day 3 post, head over there to get the full gist of the trip. 

 Day 4 of the trip wasn’t as physically exhausting as Day 2’s adventure was, but it was still a new experience.

 My first stop of the day was a meeting with two editors for Simon & Schuster. This meeting came about as a rather happy coincidence and a phone call I conducted with one of the editors to ask about her job and its various ins and outs. 

Me across the street from S&S. Please ignore the zooming taxi.

Needless to say, for someone who has been wanting to work in the publishing field for years and years, this was an awesome experience. I was able to walk into a major publishing house and talk to real-life editors! 

I won’t go into too much detail with what was talked about in the meetings, but if you want more info, just let me know in the comments. I will say though, that it was definitely a fantastic experience. Both of the ladies were ridiculously nice, and they answered all of the questions I had about editing and publishing. I wish I could have had time to take the whole thing in a little more. It all went by so fast! 
I did manage to snag (and by snag I mean they were given to me) some books from both of the editors. (In case they ever read this, I’d just like to say a major thank you!) It was crazy trying to get these things to fit in my bag on the plane ride back to Chicago. 

Books gifted to me by the S&S editors. (Thanks again!)

After Simon & Schuster, my sister and I finally explored Times Square. We did all of the touristy things that we could think of at the time. 

Me conquering Times Square.
There was the TKTS red steps, a comic book store, the M&M store, the Hershey’s store, the Disney store, and various NYC tourist stores. (There were a lot of stores visited on Day 4.) 

Red steps! These things always remind me of the second Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movie.

 My sister ended up buying some souvenirs for my parents, her husband, and my younger sister. I got my younger sister something for her birthday, but I didn’t get anyone else anything. #brokecollegekid 
Walking around Times Square wasn’t terrible, but our feet were still tired from Days 2 and 3. However, we decided to forego stopping at our hotel and instead we made the short walk over to Rockefeller Center. 

I have pictures of me with the tree, but they're vertically aligned and I don't feel like editing them right now.

Thankfully, we were there at just the right time to be able to see the giant Christmas tree. It was scheduled to be taken down either the next day or the day after that. My sister was so excited because the Home Alone theme song was playing as she walked up. Apparently, that was her favorite part of the trip. 

Once we saw the tree, it was time for food. My sister had been hankering for a New York-style slice of ‘za, so we ended up going to Little Italy for our last true NYC meal. She got some sort of spinach thing, and I ended up getting plain ol’ cheese. Unfortunately, she neglected to tell me that all of the reviews of Little Italy claim the cheese pizza isn’t as good as their other stuff. *sigh* 

My sister's Little Italy box. Mine looked exactly the same.

Alright, that was Day 4. Now, onto the chaos of Day 5. 

 Day 5 was the flight back to Chicago. We got up early, took the wrong cab, and sat in a freezing cold terminal. Oh, and my sister got pat down by the TSA this time (Haha!). 

It was snowing pretty heavily by the time our plane was scheduled to take off, and the attendants were all joking around about the flight being delayed/cancelled. We passengers didn’t find their humor all that funny. 

You can kind of make out the plane's wing. Kind of. Stupid snow.
While we did get on the plane, it took us forever to take off as the crew had to spray orange and green gunk all over the outside of the thing before takeoff. Oh, and someone around us smelled very badly of BO. Ugh. In the end, our plane landed almost two hours later than scheduled. 

 All in all, it was a great trip with some minor bumps along the way. Now that I know how the whole flying thing works, I plan on doing it a lot more. I also really want to work in New York, so I’ve got to fly back there at some point. 

Well, that’s it for my NYC trip. Thanks for reading all about my adventures!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

 "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...

Blood Rose Rebellion
(Blood Rose Rebellion #1)
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Hardcover, 416 pages, Knopf Books
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

My Thoughts

The synopsis says this is for fans of Red Queen. Well, guess who’s a major fan of Red Queen? Moi. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I think I can see past that if this book is as epic as the magic system sounds.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New York Recap (Day 3)

This is a recap of Day 3 of my NYC trip, so if you haven’t read the Day 1 post or Day 2 post, head over there to get the full gist of the trip.

Day 3 of the trip was more relaxing than Day 1 and 2. We didn’t have any meetings to go to, planes to catch, or long walks to take. Instead, we took a stroll through Central Park. However, our stroll was a just a wee bit painful at times, simply due to how sore we were from our ridiculous journey to the ferry. My sister had bruises on her ankles from her tennis shoes, and my feet were sore from my boots. But Central Park had to happen.

Getting from our hotel to the park wasn’t a long walk, just a couple of blocks. We saw a few cool pieces of scenery along the way, like The Late Show and Simon & Schuster’s office (which is where I went on Day 4, but I’ll get to that later). 


We walked into the park and, if we didn’t look up at the skyline, it basically felt like we were both back home in Missouri. It was pretty warm, but the park wasn’t crowded, so it wasn’t bad to walk around. Although, we did need Google Maps to get around because of the park’s size.

The weird mix of trees and buildings.

Our main goal for the Central Park visit was to see the castle. Unfortunately, the castle is on the complete opposite side of the park from where our hotel was. Guess what that meant? More walking…


The trip to get to the castle was fine, but about halfway through the walk back, I was dead. My feet were so sore.

The carvings were the coolest part! One was in the shape of a book! This one's an owl.

My sister wanted to look around some of the shops on our walk back to the hotel, so I grudgingly followed her into some tourist-type shops. She didn’t end up buying anything though. Ugh.

Before the castle. There is no after the castle pic. We were too tired to do a group pic.

The trip to Central Park took up a majority of our day, so other than shopping a little bit, we didn’t do much else. I mainly got ready for my meeting the next day. Oh, and we immediately got under the covers when we got back to our hotel because our bodies were so very cold. My sister couldn’t get warm. Of course, I laughed at her complaining about how cold her butt was. Hee hee.

That was it for Day 3. It seems like a short one, but all of the photo taking and walking took a good stretch of time.

Stay tuned for Day 4’s recap on Thursday!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ceruleans Anniversary Giveaway!

In case you needed something to look forward to today, here’s a giveaway for all five books in the Ceruleans series in honor its five-year anniversary!

Before I get to the giveaway, check out the synopsis of book one, Death Wish!

Death Wish
Publication Date: October 2016
Genres: NA, Paranormal


Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit: run away from school, join a surfing fraternity, drown in a tragic ‘accident’.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to an isolated English cove to uncover the truth. And, as it turns out, to fall in love with the place and its people, especially a certain blue-eyed surfer with a serious case of the heroics.

But as Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Power.

What transpires is a summer of discovery: of what it means to conquer fear, to fall in love, to choose life, to choose death.

To believe the impossible.

The Ceruleans: soulful, coming-of-age romance with a paranormal edge. Five books, one question – if the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

(Previously published under the pen name Megan Tayte.)

The Giveaway

The Author

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess. ‘Write, Charlotte,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Charlotte is a professional writer. For authors and publishers, she writes and edits books as The Book Specialist. For herself, she writes soulful, coming-of-age romance for young adults.

Charlotte grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in a village of Greater Manchester with her husband and two children. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, baking up a storm, or embarking on a DIY project. She recently achieved a lifetime ambition of creating a library in her home to house her ever-increasing collection of books. She pretends not to notice that the shelves are rather wonky.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Stacking the Shelves: The Most Anticipated Edition

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

It’s here! It’s finally here! Barnes & Noble took forever and the UPS guy lied about having delivered it, but I finally have the book I’ve been waiting for in my arms!

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Golden Son by Pierce Brown

King’s Cage is one of my most anticipated books of 2017! Team Cal, ftw! I can’t believe I finally get to read it. I should be a good girl and wait to read this during spring break when I have more time, but I don’t think that’ll happen.

As for Golden Son, I finished Red Rising last year and really enjoyed it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the ending, so I decided to pick up book two to see what happens next.

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dean Winchester Friday

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

Dean from last week’s episode of Supernatural. This makes me smile.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New York Trip Recap (Day 2)

This is a recap of Day 2 of my NYC trip, so if you haven’t read the Day 1 post, head over there to get the full gist of the trip.

On Day 2 of the New York trip, I had a meeting with a faculty member at New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, so the first part of the morning really revolved around that. Her office was only a block away from the hotel my sister and I were staying at, so it was a short walk. We grabbed some muffins from our deli and set off.

Because the office was so close by, we ended up stopping by the New York Public Library to look around. We didn’t stay long, though, because there was nowhere to sit and eat besides outside. My sister wanted a place where she could use Wi-Fi, eat, and look up our plans for the rest of the day while I met with the NYU rep. She ended up going across the street to a less touristy branch of the NYU library system.

New York Public Library

After my meeting with the representative (which went pretty well, I think), my sis and I did something pretty stupid. We decided to walk from our location to the Staten Island Ferry using Google Maps as our guide. My sister’s reasoning was that she hated the subway, mine was that I had no idea four miles would take so long to walk.

So we trekked out. We weren’t wearing the best clothes for a hike either. I was wearing my boots and semi-fancy clothes (skinny jeans and a nice sweater) with my backpack on in case we bought any souvenirs; my sister was wearing tennis shoes, but she didn’t have a real coat on, just a short denim jacket. While I was comfortable with the walk up until the last 45 minutes when my feet began to tire, she was very vocal about being cold. I had a big, puffy coat on. Heehee…

Anywho, on the walk there, we went through a couple of parks. For the life of me, I can’t remember their names, but in one of them, the squirrels would eat right out of people’s hands. It was bizarre.

This was the squirrel that ate out of the sitting woman's hand.

We also saw the Flatiron Building on the walk to the ferry.

The Flatiron Building. Stupid trees got in the way.

The most important thing for book lovers though is my visit to the Strand. Our stop here was about a third of the way through the four-mile walk. We didn’t stop here long though. It was very crowded and miserable in there. It was a cool experience, but we were tired and didn’t have a lot of time to browse if we wanted to make it to the Ferry before nightfall. (We didn’t end up making it before nightfall anyway.) My sister did buy a hoodie to wear over her clothes on rest of the walk though, and I bought a T-shirt for later wearage.

My bag from the Strand. I also got a free bookmark.

After a Starbucks snack trip and a short stop at a geek store (I write that with the utmost respect. There were Harry Potter figurines in that store.), we finally made it to the Staten Island Ferry. I’m not sure exactly how long the trek was, but it was loooooong. It was something like 30ish blocks. It was a fun experience, though.

What we felt like when we got to the ferry. I was so happy to finally be there.

The ferry was relaxing compared to our trip getting there. The wind outside on the viewing decks was very cold and a random guy kept getting my sister to take pictures of him, but it was a lot less stressful than the walking had been.

I finally got a chance to sit down.

I couldn’t get a decent picture of the Statute of Liberty because my phone’s night mode is awful, but you can kind of see it in one of the pics.

You can kind of see the Statue of Liberty. It's in the middle of the picture. It's a small, shiny, green speck.

All in all, it was an adventure that I don’t want to repeat. I’ll take a bus or ride the subway for any trip longer than seven blocks. Needless to say, we got a cab on the ride back to our hotel. We also were too tired to do anything but order a pizza delivery and rest our aching bodies once we got back.

That’s it for Day 2. Day 3’s recap should be up sometime next week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

 "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...

Defy the Stars
(Untitled #1)
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Hardcover, 512 pages, Little, Brown Books
Genres: YA, Sci-Fi

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

My Thoughts

I featured this a few weeks back as my favorite cover of 2017 (so far). Isn’t it gorgeous?! I’m sure the inside will be just as good as the outside, but I just love ogling it.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?