Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Month/Year In Review: December 2013

I can't believe it's already the end of December! This is going to be quite a long post. First, I'm going to try to pick my top thirteen books of the year (not in order because no). Then I'll have my regular AMiR highlights. Then who knows?

Top Thirteen Books I Read in 2013
(In no particular order)

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Amazing characters, world building, suspense, plot, everything.
Made me remember how much I love epic fantasy and how little of the genre I've read recently.

2. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
This book just understood.
Mostly character driven and would mostly be enjoyed by those who've felt similarly.

3. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Amazing prose, lovely characters, intriguing concept.
Also one of the most physically beautiful books ever.

4. Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Interesting, new concept. Well-written characters. Really enjoyed it.
It was a can't-stand-the-wait-for-book-2 type book.

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Perfect for all fangirls/boys, especially Potterheads.
Well-written, relate-able, one of my top reads ever. 

6. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Reminded me of how much I love historical fiction.
Amazing characters, great character-driven plot, well-written historical fiction.
One of my top reads ever.

7. Once We Were by Kat Zhang
Amazing prose, unique concept, well-written characters.
Left me needing book 3.

8. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Lots of action. Great characters. One of my favorite heroines.
Zombies! Daniel! <3 Couldn't wait for book 2.

9. You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert
Character driven. Not YA. Well written. Invested in characters.
Made me cry and laugh. Makes you want to hug your best friend.

10. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Love the concept. Love the setting.
Intriguing characters. Great plot. Lovely book, inside and out.

11. Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
(This doesn't come out until next year, but I just finished reading it.)
Fast paced. Amazing main AND supporting characters. 
Everything The Hunger Games wasn't (and more).
Also, Pandoras!

12. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Cute. Quick read. Great for holidays.

13. Prodigy by Marie Lu
Much better than Legend.
Intense. Action packed. Plot twists. Well-written plot and characters.

Honorable Mention: 
Sekret by Lindsay Smith (ARC), Altered by Gennifer Albin, What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Top Five Movies/TV Shows I Watched in 2013
(In no particular order)

1. Orphan Black (BBC America)
Fast paced. Intriguing. Clones.
Fantastic and extremely talented cast.

2. Frozen
Cute. Inspirational. Amazing soundtrack.
Unexpected ending. Exceeded expectations.

3. Graceland (USA Network)
(I am admittedly a few episodes behind.)
Great cast. Interesting characters.
Great mix of talents, agencies, and plots.

4. Catching Fire
Better than the books (I'm not a fan of THG books as a whole).
Well done. For the most part, outstanding cast.
Cinna! Johanna! Finnick! Haymitch! 'Nuf said.

5. Fringe (Fox)
Amazing series finale. Sad that it's over.
Fantastic well-rounded, diverse cast and characters.

Honorable Mentions:
NCIS:LA, Psych: The Musical and Psych's 100th episode, Elementary

5 Blog Related Things
1) Cal and I kicked off the What's In the Snow? event!
2) I reviewed a picture book for the first time ever
3) I'm almost done with the new blog. Just a few things I need to fix/edit/add before the new year.
4) I got back into the blogging spirit
5) Preparing to wrap up my time at this URL

5 Personal Things
1) Caught up on some shows; started watching some other shows
2) Started practicing typography (send me quotes if you'd like!)
3) Started planning a huge fundraising project
4) Got more bruises from dance than I could ever care for
5) I kind of can't remember much, but my aunt visited!

I suppose that's it for now. I hope you all had a wonderful month and year! Happy Holidays! The next time I post, it'll be about my move to a new blog URL! Make sure you stop by and check it out. (Actually, I'll have to post my What's In the Snow? post, so after that post!)

Monday, December 30, 2013


Hey guys! As you can see, I haven't been posting lately. This is for a couple of reasons, mainly that I'm moving over to a new URL soon. I don't want to have to repost anything extra, which is why I'm not posting the reviews I have drafted. Those will go up, along with all the reviews that are already on here, once I switch over. I have yet to make a big announcement about the switch, but don't worry. It's coming. ;)

Anyway, thanks for being patient as I get ready to switch. I hope you all understand. I'm really excited for you guys to see my new blog, and I'm happy to start over on a clean slate, learning from what I've done here. I never intended for this URL to become permanent, so I'm glad to have finally figured something out that I like and that fits my blog a lot more.

That being said, please continue to check out the What's In the Snow? event. I KNOW I haven't been tweeting about it lately but PLEASE check it out (just click on the picture in the sidebar). The second big giveaway has started, so if you're interested, check it out. I hope to get back on track with tweeting about it, but I've been so busy. My apologies!

I love you all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tour: Godsland Series by Brian Rathbone (Top Ten)

Welcome to my stop on the Godsland series blog tour!  This is a YA epic/high fantasy adventure series by Brian Rathbone.  The tour consists of reviews of all of the books and the audiobook, as well as guest posts, interviews and more. Be sure to check out the tour page with all the tour information and additional tour stops.
The books in the Godsland series:
Call of the Herald (Book One) - FREE
Inherited Danger (Book Two)- FREE
Dragon Ore (Book Three)
You can also find it in one bind up called The Dawning of Power Trilogy Omnibus.

Find the full list of titles and links at http://brianrathbone.com/ As this is only the first trilogy in the World of Godsland series.

Top Ten Favorite Literary Characters

1. Tasslehoff Burrfoot - This lovable kender is my vote for most memorable character or all time.
2. Will Ohmsford - Of all Terry Brooks characters, I related most with Wil Ohmsford.
3. Fizban - The alter ego of the god Paladine, this Dragonlance character is the reason my wizard carving has a white feather attached to the top.
4. Thomas Covenant - Donaldson made us hate Covenant for who he is and what he does, and then he makes us forgive. My wedding band is of white gold--just in case.
5. Sioned - It's been many years since I read The Dragon Prince, but the name Sioned always bring back find memories.
6. Fitzchivalry - Robin Hobb's assassin partly inspired my saying: a broken hero is still a hero.
7. Arthur Dent - 42
8. Belgarath - Awnry old devil.
9. Mat Cauthon - I can't roll dice without thinking of him.
10. Tyrion Lannister - For doing things I probably shouldn't talk about since the TV show isn't there yet...

Godsland Book One - Call of the Herald
243 pages 

Echoes of the ancients' power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind's deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war. When a Catrin Volker, a teenage horse trainer, inadvertently fulfills the prophecy of the destroyer, she becomes the most feared and hunted person on all of Godsland. With the help of her friends, she must convince the world that she wants only peace.

Godsland Book Two - Inherited Danger 
276 pages

Leaving her homeland behind, Catrin Volker goes in search of knowledge and peace, unaware that she will face the greatest evil her world has ever known.


Godsland Book Three- Dragon Ore
268 pages

Dragon Ore is the exciting conclusion of The Dawning of Power trilogy. Clinging to life, Catrin Volker struggles to regain her strength as her foes go in search of even greater power. Ancient enemies threaten and forgotten alliances emerge.

Brian Rathbone started out as a professional racehorse trainer, but he later transformed himself into a network engineer, programmer, and, more recently, rural broadband specialist. One thing that never changed was Brian's love of reading fantasy fiction. For years he would think of story lines for his own stories as a way to keep from dreaming about writing code. When the time came that Brian could concentrate on writing, The World of Godsland became real.

Author Sites:
WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Trailer | Free Web Game Feral Dragons | Free Web Game Grumpy Dragons

Books can be found at: GoodReads | Amazon 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: Catching Fire Movie

Before I start this review, I have to admit that I am not a Hunger Games fan at all. I never liked Katniss and still don't. There were certainly some aspects of the book that I liked, but it wasn't enough for me to a) finish Mockingjay and b) like the series (which is also evident from my ratings on Goodreads). However, Catching Fire was my favorite book of the two that I read, so I was a little bit more excited about this movie. I also have to say that this series is one of the rare instances where I think the movies are better than the books. But without further ado, my review.

I think the most important aspect to hit upon first is the characters/acting. I've been feeling very conflicted on this because the movie has changed some of my thoughts on the characters from when I read the book. But I'm going to break this down in some of the different characters. I suppose I should talk about Katniss first. Like I said above, I never liked Katniss. The movies have not changed that, and I'm not sorry to admit that. I certainly think Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress, but I've been wondering how much I've been enjoying her performance. In some ways, I was first thinking that this (and The Hunger Games) was one of her weaker performances on screen. But before you yell at me, let me explain. I saw Katniss to be very emotionless in the first half-ish part of the movie. I know a lot of you will argue with me about that, but that's how I saw it. Later on, I do think it got better, but there was still something that irked me. Jennifer Lawrence's performance didn't honestly help me at all. I still feel the same way about Katniss, and if anything, the movie reinforces how much I really don't like Katniss. I get why a lot of other people do like her, but I think the bad parts I see far outweigh the good that they see. And that's when I realized that maybe that made Jennifer Lawrence a good actress who has done a great job representing Katniss. What I mean is that for those who like/love Katniss, the movies have reinforced that, but for me, among the minority, it just reminds me of everything I don't like about Katniss. Lawrence's performance is good in that I guess she has done a great job playing who Katniss really is, for better or for worse.

Next, there's Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Let's start with Hemsworth first. I just...no. Sorry. Unlike many, I didn't mind Gale in the books (maybe because I never read past ~5 chapters of Mockingjay). But I don't think Hemsworth has captured the character's essence. Maybe part of it is the writing, but I think a large part of it is that he really seems unemotional, and that doesn't fit him, at least from how I interpreted Gale from the books. His performance has really made me dislike Gale. Who knows, maybe that's the point. Josh Hutcherson, on the other hand, I feel has done a great job. I don't even know why, but I was never fond of Peeta in the books, which is weird because in real life, I probably would like him. But I think Josh has done a great job of understanding and portraying Peeta, with a ton of emotions and expressions, and it's made me really like Peeta a whole lot more.

Haymitch and Effie are just as great in this movie, if not better (particularly Haymitch). Also, that mahogany reference? Perfect! Cinna is also still magnificent in this movie, and I'M SO SAD BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENS TO HIM LIKE WHY. (Just as a note, my favorites from the books were Haymitch, Cinna, Finnick, and possibly Johanna (I say possibly because I don't remember much from the books, so I don't know if I liked her).) Speaking of Finnick, MY GOSH SAM CLAFLIN. Yes, yes, yes, yes. He was so perfect as Finnick, and I just love him even more! And speaking of loving a character, Jo-freakin'-hanna! I fricking love that girl. Jena Malone, you are my favorite (not really but okay, maybe in this movie yes). Johanna was so beyond fantastic. I loved how snarky she was, and I loved her unique personality. You could definitely see the hatred she had towards the Capitol. And her attitude and personality and just everything just blew me away. I think Malone's performance was one of the best, if not the best, out of all of the actors.

On a last note about characters after that mini freak out, I don't know how I feel about how Mags was portrayed. I still loved her, and you could still understand her personality, but I didn't really like how she didn't talk. I know it was probably to get around the speech issue that I don't remember but was apparently in the books (you can see how much I didn't like the series in general...also it's been a long time).

Next, on to everything else. I loved the clock arena, and it was definitely freaky. I didn't really like that they didn't at least introduce all the tributes, which made it confusing when they showed the dead. I get that they weren't important, but I'm picky, and I couldn't stop thinking, "Did we ever see that person? Who is that?" I don't know if they were mentioned in the books, so maybe that's why, but still. But the arena was really well done in general. I also loved the Snow scenes, and the parts with his granddaughter were really well done. Caesar's scenes were hilarious as well.

I didn't really understand the huge jump in advanced technology. I get that it's the Quarter Quell, and I get that they had a much higher budget (the movie, I mean), but I don't know...it felt so weird to see such a vast difference in technology in, I believe, less than a year. I know it's not real and whatnot, and I do think that some of the technology did help to add to the movie and to make it look cooler, but I think the movie would have been just fine without that huge jump. Maybe I'm just being over picky.

The last nit-picky thing for me was the awkward scene cuts. It was definitely a lot better compared to The Hunger Games, but there were still a couple of times when this bothered me, particularly the one that cut abruptly from a dark scene to a light scene, making my eyes go WOAH NO.

In general, I really enjoyed this movie. As much as I'd hate to admit it, it's definitely one that I'd see again, and I think it was VERY well done. I would gladly freak out about the movie, as I have a bit already, just as long as you don't mention the book series to me (maybe Catching Fire is the exception but I don't really remember it) and push it in my face.

Basically, as a whole, I think the acting was phenomenal. Almost every actor brought something to their character, whether I personally enjoyed it or not. The pacing went well (if you don't mind that the arena lasted roughly 2 or 3 days and a lot of time was spent on everything before), and I loved the arena. The ending was perfect, and Katniss' facial expression? Awesome. Everyone really stepped it up a notch with this movie, and it really helped to make this epic. While I will never say that this is my favorite book-to-movie adaptation (despite its flaws, I'll always go with Harry Potter, and I'm not sorry about that. Argue with me all you want, but I will never let anything, especially THG, take over that spot. I'm stubborn that way), it's probably on my top ten list, as much as I'd hate to admit that.

Seriously, if you can, go watch it (if you haven't already). It will possibly almost blow your mind away by its greatness.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Welcome to the What's In The Snow? Scavenger Hunt!

Hi everyone! I'm really happy to announce the start of the What's in the Snow? event that I'm co-hosting with Read Books and Live Green (Cal)! We've been working on this for a few months now, as you may or may not have seen on Twitter. It's both of our first time hosting an event, and while it was a lot of work (and weren't exactly the best hosts at times), we're really excited to kick off this event!

So I suppose I should start by telling you guys what this is all about. Basically, from today (December 15th) til January 15th, different bloggers will be posting winter-related posts. Many of these include some kind of author interaction. We have some great interviews coming up, as well as some awesome giveaways. Other bloggers are posting about various topics relating to winter and the holiday season. The schedule will be posted below, so please check out all the posts the wonderful bloggers involved are planning!

On to the fun part: giveaways! As I stated above, many of the blog posts will have some form of giveaway, whether they be bookish swag, books, ARCs, or gift cards. Most of these have been donated by the wonderful authors involved, so I want to thank them for not only participating and answering interview questions but also for donating some really awesome prizes. Every 2 weeks, there will be a big giveaway (so there will be 2). You can find the Rafflecopter for those right here. There will be multiple winners, and the prizes are first come, first serve. (The Rafflecopter can be found at the end of this post.)

Now, I also need to explain the situation with our clues. Each blogger has a different clue for their post(s). This clue will be included in their post somewhere. Where it is located in the post is up to the blogger's discretion. The answers to these clues are extra entries into the grand giveaways (so it's split half and half). You don't have to enter in all the answers, but it'll give you more entries. It's up to you! (This may be confusing, so if there are any questions, just ask in the comments!)

Without further ado, here's the schedule! Be sure to check back every day (I will change the links as the posts are put up, so this brings you to the exact post) and see which clue and post is up! (NOTE: No posts will be posted on Christmas Eve, Christmas, or New Year's Eve.) (Also note that I am changing my blog name and URL in the new year! The event will still be hosted here though!)

15th--Read Books and Live Green; Reviews Abound (Intro Posts ONLY)
16th--The NerdHerd Reads; Musings of a Blogder
17th--The YA Book Butterfly
19th--BooksForBirds; Fiction Is the New Reality
20th--Book Loving Hippo; My Nook, Books, and More
21st--The Sarcastic Palm Tree
22nd--Icy Cold Reads
23rd--Reading Is My Treasure
27th--Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews
28th--Friction to Fiction
29th--In Italics
30th--My Nook, Books, and More

1st--Reviews Abound
2nd--The Lovely Grace
3rd--Lost In Ever After
4th--Just Another Teen Reading
5th--Forever Literary
6th--The Book Aviary
7th--The Bibliophilic Nerds
8th--The Bibliophilic Nerds
9th--The Bibliophilic Nerds
10th--The Bibliophilic Nerds; Beauty and the Bookshelf
11th--The Bibliophilic Nerds
12th--Book Loving Hippo
13th--Read Books and Live Green
14th--Christiney Reads
15th--Reviews Abound; Read Books and Live Green (Wrap Up Posts ONLY)

Must be 13+ or have parent permission
Winners have 48 hours to respond to email or another winner will be chosen
Prizes are distributed on a first come, first serve basis
Mail items are US ONLY; eBooks are INT

Here are the buttons if you'd like to use them!
What's in the Snow?
What's in the Snow?
What's in the Snow?
A huge thank you goes out to the authors involved, most of who have both donated their time to answer interview questions despite busy schedules, as well as some awesome prizes. As an extra thank you, I've put their Twitters as a giveaway entry for whichever Rafflecopter they're on. We couldn't have such a great event without the awesome authors we have involved.
Secondly, a MASSIVE thank you goes out to all the bloggers that have joined the event. This would be nothing, literally, without you guys. Thank you for taking a chance on not one, but TWO, newbie bloggers that figured out this event. Thanks for all your patience and support and excitement. This wouldn't have happened if it weren't for all of you.
Thirdly, a special shout-out to Klaudia (@ObservantGirl_) for being the one to basically get this idea rolling. Cal and I could never have come up with something this awesome without you, so thank you, thank you, thank you!
Next, a huge shoutout to Arial and Emz for making the awesome banners and buttons we have for this event. They're all lovely, and they're much more creative than anything I could have made in Photoshop. Thanks a ton, you guys!
Last but not least, I must thank Cal a hundred thousand times. This event would be nothing if it weren't for Cal. Thank you, Cal, for being the best co-host I could ask for. Thanks for taking a chance on another newbie that just wanted to put on a big event such as this one. I'm so glad we've gotten to become friends, and I'm so glad that sheer coincidence made this happen! Thanks for always giving me such great suggestions and ideas on how to make this thing happen. Thanks for always being so willing to email people or work on something last minute. And I really need to thank you for getting so many bloggers involved! Most of the bloggers here said they only heard about this through your Twitter! So thank you! I hope we can do this again, or at least something similar, and if not, at least I know I have one more blogger friend!

That being said, I hope you all enjoy this event, and we hope to make this an annual event (if we're successful!). Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: Altered by Gennifer Albin (ARC)

Altered by Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: October 29th, 2013

Life. Possibility. Choice.
All taken from Adelice by the Guild—until she took them back.
But amid the splendid ruins of Earth, Adelice discovers how dangerous freedom can be. Hunted by soulless Remnants sent by Cormac Patton and the Guild, Adelice finds a world that’s far from deserted. Although allies are easy to find on Earth, knowing who to trust isn’t. Because everyone has secrets, especially those Adelice loves most. Secrets they would kill to protect. Secrets that will redefine each of them. Torn between two brothers and two worlds, Adelice must choose what to fight for.
In this thrilling sequel to Crewel, Adelice is about to learn how tangled up her past and future really are. Her parents ran to protect her, but nothing can save her from her destiny, and once she uncovers the truth, it will change everything.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from a giveaway held by the publishing company. This does not affect my thoughts on the book.
Reviewer's Note: I would also just like to add that it's been a while since I finished the book, and I'm terrible at remembering books and their plots, characters, etc, so bear with me.

I was so beyond excited to receive an ARC of Altered after being blown away by Crewel, the first book. I had high expectations, and while some of them were met, this fell short in many aspects. (Also, as a note, I now have both the ARC and a final copy, but since I read the ARC, I'm listing it as such.)

Altered picks up right after Crewel ended, with Adelice, Eric, and Jost falling down to Earth. We're then introduced to a bunch of new characters, including Dante, whom I'm still conflicted over. We also meet Kincaid, who's almost like the Cormac Patton of Earth. We also learn a lot more about Adelice's parents and what they were involved with, although the full truth only comes out later on in the story. There's a lot about the Cypress Project and the interesting man and scientist, Kairos. Don't worry, you'll learn more about all of that when you read the book. And one of the best parts, at least for me? Learning about what "The Agenda" is. If you've seen Albin's Twitter campaign and promotions, you'll find that she had a bunch of stuff set up relating to the book and using the hashtag #JoinTheAgenda (I also posted about it a few months back).

The plot was generally well-written, and there were a few plot twists that took me by surprise. Albin continues to weave a fantastic new world, leaving the reader captivated and generally engaged. There were a few times here and there where the plot moved a lot slower, but there was also a lot of character development and influential decisions that were made. It was interesting to see where all the characters were headed towards, even if it wasn't exactly what I would personally want.

But speaking of characters, I want to discuss that aspect in particular detail. I still love Adelice, but there was something about her that irked me at times. I think part of it may have been her stubbornness, though given her, ah, family, I can't say I'm surprised. Despite this, I can understand where she's coming from. Most of her emotions, feelings, thoughts, decisions, and actions are understandable. And it's wonderful that she's not strong all the time and that she's affected by her weakness.
Jost, however, really bothered me. He seems to have turned into someone completely different, and while I understand the reasons why, I hate how he's turned into someone else. It feels almost icky, but I'm holding out hope that this will change when/if he finds his daughter and gets her back.
I'm still stuck on Eric and Dante. Eric also seemed to be very different from how he was in Crewel, but there's still something that doesn't sit right with me. Dante...he's a very interesting, complex character, and I love that about him, but there was always a little part of me that was annoyed with him.
I think that Albin is really pushing for that "love triangle" or whatever it's more appropriately called between Jost and Adelice and Eric and Adelice. But it all felt so unnatural and fake. None of the potential relationships seemed real to me anymore. I had been a pretty ardent Adelice/Jost shipper, but with Jost being all...weird...it didn't fit right anymore, but it also always felt like Eric was up to something. We'll see, I guess...

Yet despite all of this, I still did enjoy the characters in terms of their complexity. I feel like a lot of what I said above are personal opinions that have more to do with how I read and understand the characters than the characters themselves. They're all interesting and very three dimensional. They all have something that they want, and they're all willing to do what they can to get that. I think that this book highlights a lot of their individual characteristics. The decisions they make reflect where they are in THIS book, and I think it sets up well for Crewelest.

Also, can we talk about that ending?! I'm glad that Adelice made the decision, even though I kept shouting "NO!" I think it showed how much Adelice learned and changed throughout the book. I think that making such a big decision and an even bigger sacrifice is monumental to her as a character. But can I just say, [SPOILER] WHY AMIE?! [END SPOILER]

All in all, while I still enjoyed the plot and Albin's storytelling, the book suffered from Second Book Syndrome. I'm hoping that Crewelest will be even better though, especially the way that this book sets it up. I'm excited to read the final book to the series! And remember to #JoinTheAgenda! ;)

You can find Gennifer Albin on: Official Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest | Tumblr
You can find Altered on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | The Book Depository

Monday, December 9, 2013

Music Monday 12/9/13

Yay! I'm so excited to start doing this again!

This week, I've been obsessed with a song many other people have been obsessed with recently. Check it out below, and see which song I've been belting out to for the past week.

You know what my favorite part of the song is (besides the lyrics and video and empowerment)? "My power flurries through the air into the ground/My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around/My thought crystallizes like an icy blast/I'm never going back. The past is in the past." I just think that this part really highlights how amazing Idina Menzel's singing is (I mean, it's all really amazing but especially the bridge).

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: March 30th, 2012/August 7th, 2012
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. 
Where do I even begin? Before I started the book, I had kept hearing about how great this book was. Everyone seemed to just absolutely LOVE it. And rightly so! I'm just one more blogger that agrees.

I guess I'll start with the characters. They're all phenomenally written, and what I think Maas did best was that she made sure that all of the characters had flaws. Celaena, who is one of my favorite heroines of all time, was so well-written and so real, partially due to the fact that she wasn't perfect. She had her own moments of weakness, and getting to see both sides of her was great. (I also found it interesting to see how girly Celaena could be despite her, ah, profession.) And of course it wasn't just Celaena. There was also Chaol, Dorian, Nehemia, the King, and everyone! Maas builds up her characters extremely well, and they're all very well-rounded characters.

Next is the plot itself. I've always been a fan of epic/high fantasy, and Throne of Glass made me fall in love with the sub-genre all over again. The world building was beyond phenomenal. Of course, there's also a map at the front of the book. Awesome, right? Anyway, back to the plot. It felt perfectly paced, and it was suspenseful and intriguing enough to keep me interested and invested in the story through the entire book. I never wanted to put it down! If it were up to me, I would have spent the entire day reading it. Seriously, why didn't I read this book before??? I'm also really glad that although there was some light romance, it didn't overshadow the main plot. If anything, it enhanced it. And I personally thought there was enough in it for you to at one moment want her to be with Dorian and the other to be with Chaol (I was originally a Dorian fan, but I think I'm siding more towards Chaol now; thinking back on it now, especially having started Crown of Midnight, it's obvious she was never meant to be with Dorian, and they didn't seem to really come together naturally). It's interesting to see how the different relationships, all of which are very different (as in not just romantic relationships), affect the plot. I don't really know how else to describe everything I loved about this book. It was just everything!

What else do I talk about? (It's been too long since I've written a review, clearly.) Basically...intriguing, complex characters with compelling relationships, great character and world building, perfect pacing, extremely invested in the story, enjoyable style (at least personally), and a really well executed plot and story in general.

I kind of just love everything about the book, so I highly recommend it.

You can find Sarah J Maas on: Facebook | Twitter | Official Website | Blog | Goodreads
You can find Throne of Glass on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository | IndieBound

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: My Yellow Umbrella by Chris Robertson

My Yellow Umbrella by Chris Robertson
Publisher: Xist Publishing
Release Date: October 15th, 2013

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author. This did not affect my review in any way.
Reviewer's Note: Chris, I am so incredibly sorry that this is so late, but I've been so swamped. I hope you understand!
To everyone else, this is the first time I've reviewed a picture book, and I have no idea how to do this well, so this will be very short.

The Yellow Umbrella is short, cute, and imaginative. The illustrations are very well done and go right along with the words. It's a truly inspirational read, and I think everyone can get something out of it, no matter how old one is. I definitely recommend this to parents to read to their children.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I'm Back!!!

Hello everyone! I'm back!

So the past few weeks have been really busy for me, but then again, what week isn't? So I'm not going to do a post to wrap up November because I've barely posted anything. But I did participate in NaNoWriMo! It was awesome, albeit stressful, and I finished with a word count of 50,800. The most exciting part of it was not actually winning though! It was the fact that I actually wrote it all the way to the end (okay, I skipped a part and just added an epilogue, but I'll revise all of that later). IT'S THE FIRST TIME I'VE EVER FINISHED A NOVEL (even though it's a WIP)!

As you can tell, I'm incredibly proud of this accomplishment, and I plan to somewhat revise and edit this story for once. It's tough because it's not really a priority right now and just because I think it sucks so much, but you know, whatever. I figured out where I really wanted my story to go, and I realized that I wasn't going to write in a romance and that that's okay. But I am continuing on with this, both for myself and for school.

The bad thing is that after reading a couple of books (not much, but still a lot considering how much work I've had), I'm now in a slight reading slump. I just finished Prodigy, and I have an ARC of Champion. I tried to start it and just couldn't get into it, no matter how much I wanted to. So I picked up Crown of Midnight again, which I started a while back. I also could not get into the reading, even though I really enjoy the book so far. I also have a couple of books I have to review this month, and I can't get into them either. I feel so stuck, and it's such a horrible feeling because it's not like I don't want to read the books because I do! Who knows...hopefully this will go away soon!

Anyway, I hope you've all been well! I want to remind you of the What's In the Snow? event that's coming up. You can find info on that if you click the picture in my sidebar. I still have to send out emails and fix everything, but I'm really excited! It's been a lot of work, but it's also been really fun, and Cal is an awesome co-host!

Lastly, here's just a quick list of what will likely be up on the blog sometime soon (you know, if life doesn't get in the way again, especially since I'm prepping for an MUN conference again):

Reviews: Throne of Glass, Altered, Shadow and Bone, Legend, Prodigy, Catching Fire movie, My Yellow Umbrella (Children's book; request), possibly NCIS/NCIS:LA/Elementary (not sure! I might just make a post about my general thoughts of recent episodes), Almost Human (may not be a formal review but rather a thoughts post)
Other: Event Recap of Fierce Reads signing at Books of Wonder, discussion post about the 50th Anniversary Ep for Doctor Who, Liebster Award, return of features (HUGE STS/SS post if I remember what books I have/have not already made a vid for; Music Monday, etc)

Also! Many changes will be coming in 2014, including the fact that I'll be moving over to a different URL. Almost all my pages are the same, but I was never that fond of this URL, and it was meant to be temporary, so I found one that I like a lot better. I will probably start posting there on New Year's, but all the event posts will still be on here for convenience.

And lastly, I just want to thank everyone that slowly comes back on here. I know I had a long hiatus, and I'm so sorry about that! I know you all understand, so thank you for that! I appreciate all of your help and encouragement, especially those of you on Twitter. I know that since I was on Twitter, it almost didn't seem like I had stopped posting though I did. You all rock, and I'll try to put up a giveaway once I move over to the new blog. :)

EDIT: I'm also aware that there's an issue with the comments thing for my posts and that you can't seem to see the comment link. If you'd like to comment, please just click on the title of the post, so that it'll bring you to the post page. I'm not going to bother to fix the comment issue because I'm focusing on my new blog. HOWEVER, it may factor into the giveaways for the WITS? event, so!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tour: The Child of Denys by Nicole Gillette

***I am still on hiatus.***
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Title: The Child of Denys by Nicole Gillete
Publication Date: 10/31/2012
When Katie finds a cat hiding in her mother's garden, she has no idea the kinds of adventure that await her.A new kid appears in school at the same time Katie's friends and family begin having nightmares, and she begins to have amazingly vivid dreams. In her dreams this new cat speaks to her, telling of darkness that has invaded the Dream Realm and encouraging her to begin a journey to help save not only the Dream Realm but the real world as well.
Max, the new kid in school, has a dog that seemed to adopt him. Just as the cat had claimed Katie. Max's mom recently died in a car accident and his father had a very difficult time dealing with her death. That left Max alone and without any friends other than his new dog.
Katie, her family and her friends learn that a simple, caring gesture is sometimes all it takes to change the course of the world. Join Katie and Max as they learn the true power of our dreams and the importance of our friendships.

About the Author:
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Nicole Gillette (or Nikki to her friends and family) describes herself as a wife, mother, crafter, gardener, chef and whatever else is needed. She stays busy following her two children around to sporting events, creating amazing art pieces, writing, and running her online business "Creating Amidst Chaos."
Growing up in Northern Michigan Nikki learned to appreciate spending time outdoors. She enjoys camping, hiking and fishing and collects memories and mementos on her trips to use in scrapbooks, crafts, art projects and writing. Nothing is off limits to use!
As she began to explore different art techniques her friends and family encouraged her to teach lessons on scrapbooking and mixed media art. As a result she developed a series of written tutorials that are now available in e-book format.
In addition to the crafting tutorials she has written children's books that are engaging and entertaining for children and adults as well. Most of the inspiration for her writing come from the wonder she sees in the eyes of her children as they explore our world.
Nikki ensures us that as a 'Jack-of-all-Trades' you can be sure of only one thing. As time goes by she will develop and change so you can expect her projects and writings to do the same.

Author Links:
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