Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Thought I Was Heartless.... Alas If I Stay Gave Me The Feels | Sofia Speculates (2)

Welcome to the second ever episode of Sofia Speculates aka the feature I've been doing since I started blogging (rambling) that finally has a name. These speculations range from bookish to life to myself. So sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee, because I spend FOREVER sewing bits of my soul into the HTML brackets of this blog post discussing whatever topic is at hand.

This Is So Weird.... The booknerd has never cried because of a book. I feel almost as if this were a violation to who I claim to be. A book has never given me such feels that illicit tears. I'm a heck of a lot more likely to go around the room ranting and jumping than crying. It's Sofia nature (because we're still waiting on test results to see if I'm human or not). 

Yet that has all changed.....
Because of a book-to-movie adaptation.

I'm not sure if you've heard of it, but it's pretty popular
One of my earliest reviews on Loving the Language of Literacy was a Series Overview of the If I Stay Duology. Although I wanted to, I never got around to watching the book to movie adaptation. I actually remember coming home from school on a Friday and sitting in front of my computer to watch the trailer. I had goosebumps and literal chills running up and down my spine (in the most clichely realistic way possible). I KNEW the movie would be good, but I never guessed it would be as effective. 

Book-to-Movie Adaptation Mini-Review: While If I Stay wasn't even my favorite novel in the duology, I gave it a solid 4 out of 5 stars for a creative concept, I felt as if I couldn't connect with the characters the way the author intended me to, didn't care at all when the parents died, and did not receive the feels. The movie changed ALL of that and was a successful 5/5 stars.

Initially, I felt taken aback because of how unrealistically they portrayed Mia and her life. The idea of her watching all of the event of the hospital unfold around her seemed extremely "WTF?" whereas with the novel, I went along with it, no questions asked. Yet, by the end of it, I saw a brilliant story pieced together and got such a better feel for the character and the story. Hats off to the picture AND sound editing team. 

What Does An Automatic 5/5 Stars Need? The surest way to get Sofia to like your media - whether it's television, movies, or books - is to make her feel emotions, get her invested enough in the story to make her feel. Crying, something I never do, was what made this such a good movie.

Let's Have the Actual Backstory.... I flew with one of my parents to Los Angeles for a day (even longer backstory I won't divulge into) and the lovely airplane was playing If I Stay

Even though I wanted to read/be productive, it was If I Stay
The movie is 107 minutes long, and it wasn't until around the 85 minute mark that the first tear arrived. I thought it was from the high altitude that my eyes had gotten watery. Then another tear came.... then another.

Ten minutes later, the tears were just streaming down my face in great rivulets of being. I hadn't even felt this way with Where She Went. I don't know what was going on, the movie had just been so emotionally moving and the buildup was so surprising. For once, I actually felt sorry for Mia Hall and her life. When her relationship with Adam wasn't going well, when her family fathered in the waiting room and came to visit her, and then when we saw how truly awesome her parents were.... I just lost it. 

And there we have it, the story of how Sofia's heart grew three sizes over the span of two hours. 

Let's Discuss:
Do you have any embarrassing stories about when you cried because of a movie/tv/book?
Are you like how I used to be and never cry because of a medium?
Have you seen/read If I Stay and had the same feelings?

Friday, January 23, 2015

{BookTalk} All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1): Ally Carter

Rating: 35%
Series: Embassy Row #1
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Page Count: 310
Format: Physical ARC
Source: Scholastic 

Goodreads Synopsis: Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

Disclaimer: requested this ARC from Scholastic and they so generously sent me a copy to review, but that does not effect my 100% honest opinion. 

Would I Buy It?
There is a smaller chance than usual of me purchasing this novel because I dislike the cover AND I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped to. If I begin to enjoy the series (because as I said in my video, now I HAVE to continue reading because of that ending), I will probably purchase a boxed set in paperback.

Plot: 33%
Premise: 90%
Characters: 35%
Romance: 20%
Originality: 40%
Cover: 30%
Title: 60%
Feels: 50%
Writing Style: 30%
Pacing: 30%
Ending: 70%
Quotes: 20%

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
Even though All Fall Down wasn't the best book I have ever read by Ally Carter, but Heist Society #4 will come out someday and I can't miss out on a chance to see Hale/Kat together in an entire novel. Plus, I disliked the first Gallagher Girl Novel and LOVED the rest of the series.

Conclusion: While I usually love Ally Carter's books, this was a confusing, unexpected disappointment in character and plot, but I will be reading the sequel because of the suspenseful ending.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

When Your Hobby "Isn't Valid" | Sofia Speculates (1)

Welcome to the first ever episode of Sofia Speculates aka the feature I've been doing since I started blogging (rambling) that finally has a name. These speculations range from bookish to life to myself. So sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee, because I spend FOREVER sewing bits of my soul into the HTML brackets of this blog post discussing whatever topic is at hand.

I am here to discuss what it's like being Sofia Li and to reinforce the fact that I am not normal. I mean this in my usual blogging cadence but also with candor. I am a teenager, without a boyfriend, many friends, or organized sports/activities. That about sums of the GENERAL definition of having no social life.
This is me!
It's Friday night? The average teenager is probably getting ready to hang out with their friends, chow down on junk food, and relieve the stress of the week with cliche rom-coms everyone secretly loves. I'm getting ready to film a video telling people (I've never met) my opinions. I have the benefit of living with my best friend (there are posts to explain this - I'm not going off on this tangent) and I am 99% okay with this. I have a roof over my head, good food, a loving family, and the resources (such as the internet and the library) at my disposal to do the things I love. Do I wish I was a social butterfly with a ton of engagements and people texting me every moment of the day? No. Would I like to have a few more friends since moving to New York? Definitely.

Today, I am here to debunk all of these all of these myths, answer all of your questions, and generally explain how genuinely happy I am with the life I am living right now.
What Do I Get Out of Blogging/YouTube?
You Blog and YouTube? What does this mean?
Everyone from Christine Riccio's mother to Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner's now-husband, Will, to my very own parents don''t understand the freedom, the opportunities, and the salvation (to be extreme) that comes with putting yourself out there on the internet. Since the 10s began (I have no idea what to call this decade) YouTube and Blogging have begun seeming more and more like a legitimate career (not one I intend on pursuing professionally, but a valiant one for those who can make it). It's extremely hard to break into, find your personal niche, and all of that jazz. But I get something out of Blogging/YouTube that is unique and can't be found anywhere else because of its newness in the past years that no one (besides my generation) has ever experienced before.

Don't Lost Hope!

The Blogging and (more so) YouTube Cultures have become more and more of a an actual THING (to be as illiterate sounding as possible). The classic teenage response nowadays for why they are procrastinating is Tumblr or YouTube. You might think your content is crappy, but you HAVE to remember that SOMEONE out of the 7 (or is it 8 now) billion people on planet earth stood EXACTLY where you are at this very moment. Whether it's speculating as to whether or not you should take the plunge into one of these two of these communities, hanging on to the hundred or so followers you have and trying to grow your own brand, or being approached for a relationship between you and a company you have admired/loved since the very start.

Never Fear, The World is Big Enough For Us All.
ANYONE can be a content creator because EVERYONE is interested in something. If it's a common niche such as beauty or books, you are in luck. If you think you are the ONLY person in the world that likes something, the internet will most definitely surprise you. There will be people out there who will watch your videos/read your posts because no one else has experienced your life, no matter how boring it seems.

We Are Valid! 
I'm using Elsa.... THAT'S how strongly I feel about this
To others, especially in the 40+ range of adults (there are always exceptions ), this doesn't seem valid. They throw words like REAL and LEGITIMATE out there, wondering how GENUINE or HONEST either channel of self-expression could possibly be. You are basically selling yourself to the public, if not for money, but popularity or response. Yet, how different is that from an actor trying to land their first break-through role, an author attempting to query their 13th novel to reluctant agents, or a painter begging to have their piece displayed at a local gallery? Blogging and YouTube are daunting JUST because they're platforms with a possibly large audience and ANYONE with access to a computer can see.

Do you think I have earned a dime for ANY of this? 
The answer is the biggest, fattest, NO I can manage to type on this screen. This is 100% a labor of love. I'm going to spit out the usual disclaimer of "if you're Blogging/YouTubing to make money, you're doing it for the wrong reason." In future, there might be opportunities for monetization, and if it's something that helps me stay true to myself and the brand I have created, I will go for it. For now, every second of time I choose to spend or not spend on my greatest passion is my own.

The Best Part is.... I am my own Boss
You think I have a coach breathing down my back, ordering me to make my posts more grammatically correct (although, that would probably help)? You think my parents are telling me to churn out 4+ posts per week (when for the record, they have no idea what I talk about)? You think I'm letting down a team by deciding to watch Netflix instead of film (answering to myself is a lot harder of a job)? I make my own hours. I  carve out my own niche. I establish my own voice. I decide what I want to say. Basically, blogging/BookTubing is the best hobby EVER because I don't have to answer to anyone. The only people who are remotely effected by me not posting are my readers/viewers/friends.... who I have worked towards.

What's the point? 

Books, Reading, Writing, and Expressing Myself are my greatest passions in life. I will choose the bookstore over Barnes and Nobles ANY day of the week. I will blow all my money on BookOutlet, then go shopping at the Strand INSTEAD of H&M and Abercrombie. The point, is that this is ME. 100% genuinely who I am. I get to read books AND have people stroke my ego with views/comments in the process? Hell Yes! I get to talk to others who enjoy literature just as much as I do AND have thought-provoking conversations and learn different perspectives about the world? Yes, Please! (As Amy Poehler would say).

You cannot imagine how appreciative I am that I was born in a day and age where all of this is possible. With the move and the events of the past months, blogging/YouTube has been my life raft, my tug boat, my anchor. It's the ONE thing that never changes and will always be constant. We're of course disregarding the fact that people change and the internet is progressing every moment. But you catch my drift.

Why do I pour my heart and soul out if only a few people see it? 
The most FAQ question and IMMEDIATE impulse of people who I am discussing my blogging/BookTubing with is How many followers do you have? Out of ALL of the cliche, standard questions a person could ask, they question how many people follow or subscribe. I don't even need to mention that followers are the most crystalline sign of "legitimacy" out there.

Why is this so important?
For someone that isn't engrossed in this industry, it's a quantifier, a marker, something simple and easy to make a judgement on. This isn't even the most FAQ from peers my age, but adults. Plenty of my parents friends jump the gun and ask this question. Instead of "How did you get into blogging? What's the best part of it?" Out of all of the cookie-cutter questions adults have to ask, it's this one.

Obviously, the better content you have, the more followers you get. Someone filming with their iPhone against their living room wall obviously doesn't have the same quality as another with a DSLR, microphone, and ring lights. But, this doesn't mean that what you have to say, what you can give to people, is any less just because your following isn't as large. You can love something and be just as committed as the person with 100,000 followers versus your 100. It has taken me over a year to become more confident with my abilities, but every second of time I spend is worth it.

How do I know these people on the internet who watch my content aren't pedophiles?
Directed to parents 
This is the moment of truth for all the adults waiting and wondering what their children are doing on the internet. As teenagers, we don’t know. As adults, we don’t know. Internet safety is something extremely important and valued amongst the general populace. There are stalkers, there are bad people. What you really need to do is be responsible and make your own judgements on what you disclose on the internet. There are vloggers that tell us every aspect of their daily lives, and then there are people we love to watch, but don’t know a thing about other than the content they produce. It’s an entirely personal decision as to how much you choose to disclose. My number one piece of advice for parents is to trust yourselves that you have raised your children to be safe on the internet. 

Did you know that you can have friends online?
On the topic of interaction and “internet friends” it’s a lot easier to judge whether or not a person is who they say they are if you know of them through YouTube. With BookTubing, it’s impossible not to show your face or reveal at least a little about yourself. I consider book blogging a generally safe niche to be in when comparing to the beauty community or technology reviewers. With books, you actually have to read the darn thing and have general knowledge of books. I highly doubt a stalker is going to sit through Anna and the French Kiss, then compose a feels-filled review about Etienne St. Clair. Book Blogging is NOT the area you should be in if you want to be a stalker, too much work.

What's my experience with this?
I’ve never been contacted by someone illegitimate (that I know of) through my blog, youtube channel, or twitter account, but if I were…. it would become pretty clear pretty fast that someone was a faker. My twitter friends and I talk about books/book-related subjects 98% of the time and the other 2% is complaining about the weather and school. So to answer parent’s hesitation, no we don’t know…. but trust yourself that you have taught your kids good judgement.

You actually do things?
You want to come over here and tell me I don't do anything? You will get a one way ticket to the Arena, Erudite Headquarters, or the Batalla Hall prison cells (we’re just going to ignore the fact that those are all REAL places in America and going there will serve you no consequences). Blogging and YouTube are WAY more than filming, drafting posts, editing, and uploading. There is scheduling, time management, reading, prioritizing, networking, publicizing, responding to comments and emails, and sitting down in front of a computer to review a book is the tip of the ice berg my friend.

Looking at blogging and BookTubing with that perspective, the hours are truly endless, especially if you quantify them in comparison to a sport, instrument, or any other extra-curricular. I’ve heard a ton of bloggers say that its like a full-time job without getting paid. In the most literal sense, you’re running a business consisting of only yourself. *Ends rant* My point is not to put-down the value of what other people do as their past-times, but just to stake my claim that my hobby is 100% valid.

If you made it ’til the end of this blog post, I congratulate you! It took me way longer to compose than it should have and it’s a lot of work to read and take in all of my (caffeine induced) advice.

Now I want to know your opinions. Feel free to answer any of the points I make in the comments because I want to know your personal experience with this entire wonderful, crazy, tight-knit community.

Disclaimer: I used the typewriter image from FreePix on this website. All images, except for the parchment/quill are not my own, nor do I claim them to be.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

{Book Review} The Winner's Curse #1: Marie Rutkoski

Rating: 50%
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genre: High Fantasy, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult, Fiction, 
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Page Count: 359
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of Pompeii/Ancient Rome, Political Intrigue, Legend (Marie Lu), Kiss of Deception (Mary E. Pearson)

Would I Buy It?
I already have.... the image of the book is from my Instagram -*shameless self-promo @sslluvsbooks & Marie Rutkoski RTed it on Twitter also @sslluvsbooks*- I bought it for $2.50 from BookOutlet's Boxing Day Sale. To my disappointment, I ended up not loving it and am glad I didn't splurge too much. From my peer book bloggers, this is either a love it or hate it novel, and I would advise borrowing a copy from the library or some other means of book obtaining unless you are CERTAIN you will love it, just in case you feel the same way I did.

Background & Backstory?
Spring 2014 was a HUGE new release season in publishing and The Winner's Curse was the most hyped, most anticipated Macmillan Series Debut. Even if you didn't know what this story was about, you head ALL of the bloggers rave about the gorgeous cover and it's even prettier insides.

I was one of those ravers. I was a baby blogger (still am, but at least I know more about upcoming releases) and if everyone else was raving.... it HAD to be good, right? I actually encouraged one of my greatest twitter BFF's Nath to read this book, and she ended up not loving it (for these reasons). I also borrowed The Winner's Curse from the library 50 billion times and I never read it and ended up returning it to the library ANOTHER 50 billion times.

Finally, I bought The Winner's Curse in eBook form when Fierce Reads was having their holiday eDeals AND I bought the hardcover off of BookOutlet. Can you say putting all of your eggs in one basket?

And now I shall proceed with telling you my unpopular opinion for this novel that everyone and their mothers seemed to adore. I hope I can show my face later on Twitter.

[I saw this video in my subscription feed a few days ago by Thoughts on Tomes about dealing with Hype and Disappointment and I HIGHLY recommend you check it out because she does a better job than I ever could with explaining my disappointment because of the Winner's Curse]

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
Suspenseful ending! It tipped the rating to 3 stars, I want to read the sequel. But.... the overall story was a huge, boring disappointment ;(

Con | Political Intrigue Promises: *imagine I'm 2 years old for this sentence* I was promised political intrigue and I didn't get it! *stomps foot indignantly*

Yes there was political dealings with the military and Kestral's father was a general, but when I hear the two magic words, my expectations are sky rocketed to LEGEND status. Aka the queen of making politics actually sound like fun. We got a bit of an idea of how the military worked and the expectations for females in this world, but there weren’t any dirty dealings pertaining to a plague or swoon-worthy, well-meaning Elector’s sons who want to change the way things are run…. so I would say that this book did not fulfill that particular expectation.

Pro | Tacticians for the WIN!: While I disliked the two protagonists as characters themselves, I adored the characteristics the were given. Arin and Kestral have extremely intelligent minds built for leadership and the military. The book would have been awesome if the ENTIRE thing was the two of them being presented with various problems/battles and them attempting to find a solution together. I loved how they were quick-thinking, and witty at times, Arin knew he had to push to envelope, but knew how to do it in a way so that it would gain him respect and not a beating. In these aspects, they were a lot like June and Day…. my favorite power couple of all time. 

This is going to sound like one of the most unusual statements EVER for someone talking about The Winner's Curse but my favorite character in this novel was Kestral’s father. The intimidating, powerful, rich, and vicious general of the emperor’s army. This goes along with my borderline-unhealthy obsession with loving psychopaths in Young Adult literature. He reminded me immensely of the Commander (Warner’s father) in the Shatter Me Trilogy. I loved how ruthless and unapologetic he was, and the word “regret” wasn’t even in his vocabulary…. like every all-powerful, life-ruining psychotic leader should be. 

Con | Romance: A lot of people loved the way that the developed and cheered for Arin and Kestral whenever an external factor pushed them together. I’m not sure how this could scientifically happen (if book writing is in the least bit scientific), but even though nothing physically happened between them until around 60% of the book had passed, it felt entirely too rushed, insta-lovey, and out of no where. Of course I knew this book had romance in it…. that’s one of the biggest attractions for the reader. Of course I knew they would eventually fall in love and there would be chaos ensuing because slave/master love affairs are taboo. Yet, I could not wrap my head around them. There was no foreshadowing, in terms of chemistry and the dynamic between them. If anything, they seemed more suited to a parabati relationship than a romantic one. There was sincere mutual respect… that’s why Kestral purchased Arin in the first place. Yet, there were no electrifying touches, sarcastic remarks, or other indicators that proved they were attracted to each other or would make a good couple. 

Neutral | Would anyone like to explain to me the kind of world/genre are we in?: On the world subject, I felt as if I was reading a novel set in Ancient Rome, set in Pompeii. Yet, this was a completely made-up world. There were slaves, an emperor with generals and province-like locations. There was a strong focus on military and protection. Women were expected to marry or join the army at age 20 (that one was unusual). All of the usual parties, galas, and overall frivolity that comes with being rich was present. So let me break it down for you - I felt like we were in Ancient Rome (historical fiction), but the world was made up (high fantasy), and there was a somewhat corrupt government slaves were determined to overtake (dystopian). What does this mean? What genre do I classify this as? *cries and collapses from confusion*

Con | Pacing: *We resume Sofia’s two-year old rant with this statement* I was told this book was fast-paced! *sits on ground to pout* but I was able to tear myself away for the sake of twitter. A good book should NOT be able to let Twitter get in my way. The entire novel, I was thinking, “When are we getting to the big climatic scene?” Things started happening around the 60% point, but once they did, they weren’t able to hold my interest very well and I grew bored quickly. 

Pro | Writing Style: As an author trying to please Sofia Li, the number one thing you can do to boost your star rating is writing well. There isn’t a magic recipe or equation for greatness, but readers can just sense good writing when they read it. It wasn’t so much the way Rutkoski told THE story, but how she TOLD story. Her word choice was exquisite and (as odd as this may sound) the arrangement of her words was flawless. This mostly shone through with her descriptions/metaphors when painting a beautiful picture of minuscule details. She made exiting a room eloquent and playing a game lyrical.

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
There is so much pre-publication hype from a ton of bloggers I know, love, and respect their opinions. I'm obviously not going to purchase the hardcover at full retail price, but I am considering borrowing it from the library because Rutkoski could have a wonderful sophmore novel in this series. But it is most definitely not at the top of my list. (On top of putting too much faith in hype, I keep coming back for more.... no wonder I'm not in a romantic relationship with anyone)

Conclusion:I let the hype surrounding this novel get the best of me and didn’t enjoy the story or romance as much as I could have, but the way it was told was exquisite.

Let's Discuss~
Did you read/enjoy The Winner's Curse?
Was your reading experience spoiled for you because of hype?
Who was your favorite character?
Did you think this novel was fast-paced?
Do you ship Kestral & Arin together?
What do you think will be in store for us in The Winner's Crime?  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their site.
2. Post the award's logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions you've been asked.
4. Nominate 10 bloggers.
5. Set 10 new questions for your nominees.

Thank you so much Anne @ Anne Books AND Dana @ DanaSquare for nominating me :) & I apologize Anne for stealing your post format. I must be certifiably insane for answering 20 questions, but if the people want to hear from me.... then hear from me they shall. (I have no idea what I just typed)

Anne's Questions:
1) When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in December of 2013 because someone read one of my reviews, thought I was a good writer, and said I should write more. LITERALLY, I got sucked down into the habit hole of composing posts the night before instead of scheduling in advance, receiving 30+ twitter notifications when waking up, and providing myself more stress than usual to upload a new video. But (per cliche response) I wouldn't trade the friends I've made, the books I've read, or the world for anything else.

2) How often do you write posts?
It would be a nice idea if I scheduled/edited my posts, but I'm a mood reader as well as a mood lifer who composes posts when she wants. But if you want my answer quantified, that would probably be 4/7 days of the week for my blog, and 7/7 days of the week for my YouTube Channel, but the hours are ENDLESS.

3) How many books do you own in total?
I'm doing a bookshelf tour on my channel soon. Sooo, you'll find out then *faints when she attempts to count them all*

4) Have you ever been in a reading slump? And how do you got out of it?
I've never been in a truly bad slump, I claimed I did February 2014 when I only read 9 books, but it was really just a busy month when I WANTED to read but didn't have the time to. So, I don't know, and I hope to never find out.

5) If you could only own 10 books which were these?
Don't make me choose!

6) What do you do if you don't know how to explain your feeling about a book?
99% of the time, I won't review it. If I HAVE to, I will probably post some half-assed review where I pick on minute details and make general statements. Yeah.... I'm not the best example of what to do with this scenario.

7) Is there any possibility you would stop blogging and why?
The only possibility would be if I was just too busy or had no access to internet. Blogging/BookTubing are my number three and four priorities in life (that aren't NEEDED), right behind school and reading. I love it WAAAY too much and will persevere past drama and self-doubt.

8) Did you became friends with people over blogging?
I have a core group of three best internet friends, Mal/Nath/Tina, but I have a lot of acquaintances who I chat with a lot, and a lot of budding friendships that I hope to become good friends with over 2015. Nevertheless, my internet interactions have been truly amazing and just as valuable as an IRL one.

9) Which books do you really want to read in 2015?
I'm making a video about this soon. My most anticipated are THRONE OF GLASS #4 and A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES both by the lovely, earth-shattering, gorgeous, Sarah J. Maas.

10) Any reading goals this year?
I have an entire video on this.

Dana's Questions
1. What was the last book that you gave 5 stars to?
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline. A.K.A. the first book I read of 2015 and one of my ALL-TIME favorites. If you haven't read it.... I don't understand you

2. What book got you into reading YA?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins :) on a 5 hour car ride back home from Mammoth California.

3. What character from a series deserves their own spin-off book or series?
I'd have to say I want a novel in between the ending of CHAMPION by Marie Lu and the epilogue. Or an entire novel dedicated to Anden.

4. What is your most recent favorite genre?
High Fantasy :) I was daunted at first, but HF opens so many worlds I wouldn't have visited otherwise.

5. Do you collect anything other than books?
Nope! I don't have the money to, my wallet is officially broken after the holiday season of acquiring 38 books! But I do love (and demand) fancy pens. My favorite is the FORAY rolle, rollerball with 0.5 tip from Staokes in blue. Because you totally needed to know that.

6. What is you favorite TV Show?
Nashville! It's a drama on ABC about country music, two of my very favorite things. Plus, any playlist I have EVER created include a Scarlett & Gunanr duet.

7. What is the next book in you TBR pile?
THESE BROKEN STARS by Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner. My friends have been urging me and I've caved into the pressure. But its a good kind because I think I'll like it.

8. Who is your most owned author?
Suzanne Collins with the Underland Chronicles and the Hunger Games Trilogy 

9. When did you start blogging?
Look above

10. Which book that you love do you think deserves more hype?
SNOW LIKE FREAKING ASHES by Sara Raasch. One of my favorites from last year and a debut novel that should go down in history. 

My Questions: 
1. Favorite Genre of Music and Artist in that Genre?

2. First Book Read in 2015?

3. Physical Books or eBooks?

4. How much do you love reading?

5. Who is your favorite author PERSONALITY wise? Maybe you hate their novel, but love their jokes on Twitter.

6. Favorite Bloggers/BookTubers. Share the love <3 a="" and="" because="" can="" dying="" i="" joking="" know="" m="" me="" much="" narcissist="" not="" of="" p="" re="" say="" t="" that="" to="" totally="" you="">

7. Will you pay hardcover retail prices for books?

8. Do you DNF books?

9. What does your bookshelf look like?

10. Where did you get your blog design? (This is purely for selfish reasons because I'm on the market for a new design)

I Tag (For the record, I have NO idea who was tagged for this):
Xander @ Forever Bookish (you're a guy.... but there aren't any restrictions on the blogger's gender)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

{BlogTour/Giveaway/Review} Chronicles of Steele #1: Raven: Pauline Creedan

Rating: 82%
Series: Chronicles of Steele #1
Genre: Steampunk, Romance, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: AltWit Press
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Page Count: UNKNOWN
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

The Book Depository | Barnes & Nobles | Goodreads | Amazon

Human life has value.
The poor living in the gutter are as valuable as the rich living in a manor.
The scoundrel is no less valuable than the saint.
Because of this, every life a reaper takes must be redeemed.

Raven has lived by this first tenet since she was trained by her father to become a reaper. But since his death, she’s been spending years redeeming the lives she’s taken. By her count, she’s even and it’s time for that life to end. If she settles down and becomes a wife, she might just feel human again. But on the way to the life she thinks she wants, the baron of New Haven asks her to complete a task which she cannot ignore… Just when Raven decides to give up on her life as an assassin, she’s pulled right back in.

About The Author: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

In simple language, Pauline Creeden creates worlds that are both familiar and strange, often pulling the veil between dimensions. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long. Pauline is a horse trainer from Virginia, but writing is her therapy.

Armored Hearts, her joint effort with author Melissa Turner Lee, has been awarded the Crowned Heart for Excellence by InDtale Magazine. It is also the 2013 Book Junkie’s Choice Winner in Historical Fiction. Her debut novel, Sanctuary, won 1st Place Christian YA Title 2013 Dante Rosetti Award and 2014 Reader’s Choice Gold Award for Best YA Horror Novel.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Background & Backstory?
This was actually one of those blog tours that I signed up for, forgot about, and was promptly sent into a blank panic when informed that I was part of the tour. I had intended on procrastinating reading this until Monday (the 12th) on my plane ride to California. As a blogger, I always read one digital and one physical book at a time, and I had finished my digital one sooner than I had expected. So I picked up Raven before I had intended to and am SOOO glad that I did.

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
That LAST page kind of recked it for me.... But the book was good.

Steampunk: 90% | The very first steampunk novel I ever read was actually also an Xpresso Book Tour novel and I fell in love with the genre. I haven't read many since, but would love if you left me some suggestions. The steampunk elements were perfectly executed, not just in the subtle ways characters lived their lives, but were crucial to the plot. What reminded me of the Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare were the human-like automatons and I LOVED the role they played in the story as well as obstacles they provided.

Characters: 80% | If I could smoosh together the cast of Into The Woods and the Throne of Glass Series.... that's who would be in Chronicles of Steele: Raven. Raven seemed a lot like Celaena Sardothien, especially in the way she handled obstacles, plus a reaper is a synonym, of a sort, to an assassin. Celaena is more unapologetic than Raven, but their stubbornness and determination are perfectly matched.

This, of course, makes all of the surrounding character's lives hell. Jack Grant is the captain of the guard, and I couldn't help but draw the parallels between him and Chaol, especially because of his subtle, simmering attraction to Raven and the compassion he showed towards her. I thought Baron Solomon would have a larger role in the book, but the small amount of time we had with him constantly reminded me of Dorian. On the other hand, I envisioned the two witches as the one (played by Meryl Streep) in Into The Woods.
Romance: 69% | The romance was next to non-existent in this novel, and I sincerely wish there had been more to contrast Raven's steely personality with passion she felt towards another person. Without spoiling the novel, I will say that her romantic expectations don't follow through, but I wish they had OR that another character would have shown their feelings sooner.

Pacing: 70% | The pacing was a bit odd in the novel because I was interested in what was going on, but every time a new episode occurred, I was a bit bored afterwards. Nevertheless, the very beginning of every chapter were hands-down the best parts of this novel because there was a short passage or phrase in Creedan's beautiful prose that gave you an idea of what the chapter would be about. The moment I read the phrase that's paired with Chapter One, I knew I would enjoy this novel.

Ending: 78% | Chronicles of Steele: Raven, had a nearly flawless ending. The plot's wrap-up was well-done, bittersweet, and satisfying. I could have given the ending 100%.... if it weren't for the VERY last page. There's a conversation between the protagonist and a prominent side character that serves as a verbal montage (of a sort) of the events of the story. It's supposed to supplement the story and make the ending stronger, but what is said between them is hackneyed.

Quotes: 100% | The biggest WOW Factor of Pauline Creedan's writing is her prose. I have SOOO many highlights on my copy of Chronicles of Steele: Raven because of all the phrases that read like liquid poetry.

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
It's unlikely that I will pick up another Creedan book BY MYSELF, but as most often happens, she will probably have another blog tour in a year or so, and I will most definitely sign up for it so I can support her.

Conclusion: Chronicles of Steele: Raven was an intriguing story in a perfectly executed steampunk world, with lovable characters, and relatable conflicts, all told in Pauline Creedan's gorgeous prose.

Monday, January 12, 2015

{Blog Tour+Giveaway+Review} Body Electric: Beth Revis

Rating: 85%
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Scripturient Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Page Count: 482
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Nobles

Synopsis:The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

About the Author: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter 
Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s most recent book is The Body Electric, which tells the story of what was happening on Earth while the characters of Across the Universe were in space.

What YOU Could Win!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received this book from Expresso Book Tours in exchange for honest review. 

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of Exhilarating Science Fiction/Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic novels  with Strong Focuses on Science and Moral Reasoning such as Across the Universe (Beth Revis), Legend (Marie Lu), Partials (Dan Wells), Madman's Daughter (Megan Shepherd), Unwind (Neal Shusterman),  

Background & Backstory
I have a confession to make. I disliked Across the Universe, Beth's debut novel because I felt it was poorly paced, a tad confusing, and I disliked it because I dislike novels about space in general. Looking back, I can see that was a bit harsh, and I signed up for this tour to see if the book could redeem my opinion of Beth Revis. I am so happy to have read this novel and I see Beth Revis and her writing in an entirely new light now.

What Was My Reaction Upon Finishing?
What the frick just happened?

Warning: Whatever you do, do NOT have this book spoiled for you. It relies so much on the plot twists and mind-blowing revelations that it will not be half as enjoyable if it's spoiled. I am trying my best to be vague in this review, but there are so many little pieces of the puzzle that CANNOT be spoiled.

Science Fiction: A common misconception about Dystopian novels are that they are ALL under the umbrella known as Science Fiction. The Body Electric could be classified as a Dystopian novel, but more accurately.... it's Science Fiction. And may I just say.... this was a YA science fiction done right. I've seen Dystopian, Science-Fiction wannabes add a lot of cool technology and try to pass itself off as Science Fiction. On the other hand, books like Ender's Game are obviously Science Fiction with such complex worlds/conflicts, they can hardly be considered Young Adult. 

The Body Electric is a perfect combination of a thrilling, fast-paced world and intricate science fiction. The plot is NEVER slowed, but actually hastened by descriptions of new technology and concepts because they're answers to the mind-fudge that just took place. There were so many questions asked about what it means to be human (an oldie, but a goodie). And about the human brain and what it can do (always fascinating). And so many others that would make me want to live there if the government wasn't corrupt.

Romance: There wasn't a LEGITIMATE romance, in this novel... but there was a guy who insisted that he and the protagonist had been together for a long time. I felt so sorry for Jack because of how much he cared about Ella and her reactions to his feelings. At the same time, it was a wise decision to exclude romance because the plot was captivating enough without it, but the hints of it made the story even better. 

Praise Hafsah & Her Cover Design: I remember reading the "Journey to a Cover" post in September and was fascinated with the entire process. Of course, you won't recognize the significance of the cover until you read the book, but for a few minutes after finishing, all I could do was stare and revel in how perfectly it encapsulated the story. The bees and circuit boards hadn't made any sense, but they do now.... and the silhouette is perfect. 

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By Beth Revis?
I probably won't pick up A Million Suns or Shades of Earth, but I will definitely put Beth's next book on my TBR because of how much I loved this one.

Conclusion: A brilliantly fast-paced novel with a captivating plot influenced by a future that could be ours.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

{BookTalk} Retribution of Mara Dyer: Michelle Hodkin

Rating: 83%
Series: Mara Dyer #3
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Fiction, Young Adult,
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Page Count: 470
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

The Book Depository | Barnes & Nobles | Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

How Likely Is It That I Will Buy This Book?
I think it's highly unlikely unless there's some stellar sale on them because while the covers are pretty and feel AMAZING, they aren't worth the full-price purchase.

Plot 75%
Premise 89%
Characters 70%
Romance 90%
Originality 85%
Cover 98%
Title 100%
Feels 78%
Writing Style 80%
Pacing 60%
Ending 90%
Quotes 70%

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book By This Author?
It's a toss-up. While I enjoyed the Mar Dyer Trilogy in terms of entertainment, it definitely isn't a staple YA that you MUST read. Maybe if Hodkin's next release has a particularly interesting review or receives a lot of hype, I will consider reading it.

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