Monday, September 30, 2013

Music Monday 9/30/13 (Part 2)

Surprise! Okay, so this isn't the song I was planning on sharing, but I forgot to type that one up, so I decided to share this one instead. I wrote this yesterday in like 2 minutes, and the more I look at it, the more unsure I am about it. But I wanted to share something with you guys because you're all awesome.

So this was inspired by two things. One, This Song Will Save Your Life, which you'll hear me gushing about for forever. Two, talking to Nova about...stuff. But here we go.

Music Monday 9/30/13

(I REALLY need to make graphics for my features and my blog in general. *sigh*)

This week's song is...
Wonderwall by Oasis

I mainly chose this because I was listening to the Spotify playlist of the songs mentioned in This Song Will Save Your Life, and I already knew this song (and loved it), so I just kept thinking about it. So yeah.

A Month in Review: September 2013

This month has felt like both the longest and the shortest month ever. Anywho!

4 Blog-related Things
1) I figured out how to make nicer blockquotes, which you won't see until my review of A Darkness Strange and Lovely, but!
2) 10 GFC followers! (It's not much, but it's something.)
3) Finally got around to my first set of "graphics," which is hearts for my ratings. You'll see them in my ADS+L review as well!
4) I actually reviewed something other than books.

5 Things Relating to Books
1) I went to my second book signing ever!
2) I won some awesome books, so I have a ton of books to read! (There's still more coming too!)
3) I was approved for 2 (!!!) books on Netgalley for the first time.
4) I fell into a slight reading slump and then got out of it.
5) Finished This Song Will Save Your Life in 2 days.

5 Things Relating to TV/Music:
1) I discovered Elenowen. (Thanks, Taylor!)
2) Fall shows are back! (Although I have yet to watch the new episodes.)
3) Discovered some cool indie and whatever genre music (thanks to This Song).
4) I finally got around to listening to a bit of Passion Pit (not enough to judge)
5) I continue to count down to the 50th Anniversary of DW

5 Personal Things:
1) School started. Yuck.
2) Dance also started. Cool.
3) I found out that I'm also doing jazz for dance competition. And I've never taken jazz before. What
4) I made so many awesome new blogging friends!!! (Notably: NOVA, Crystal, Meredith, Kayla, Stacie, and Momina.)
5) I got rid of my Tumblr obsession (at last!).

How was your month? What exciting things happened to you?
(Also, would you like me to include anything else in these posts?)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Showcase Sunday/Stacking the Shelves 9/29/13


Hosted by Books, Biscuits, and Tea, Showcase Sunday is when the blogger showcases the newest books or swag they've received, including books they've received for review, books they've borrowed from libraries, and books they've bought in bookstores or on eReaders. 
(For my own blog, I will also include anything related to TV shows, movies, music, etc if I have anything to share!)

The OTHER VERSION of this is Stacking the Shelves It's basically the same thing, but a lot more people participate in that one (or of the ones I know). So if you'd like to see/learn more, check out Tynga's Reviews.


I also didn't include the library books that I still have, but they're the same as last week's so. (And sorry for the stretched screen. Also, I'm not sure how loud the sound is for you, so if it's too quiet, apologies.)

Books Mentioned (In Order of Appearance)
The Compound by S. A. Bodeen
The Fallout by S. A. Bodeen
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales 
(^Update: I've now finished the book, and I'll be reviewing it soon!)
Champion by Marie Lu
Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
The Pentrals by Crystal Mack
Picture Me by Lori Weber

As always, thanks for stopping by! Let me know what you got this week. :)

Set Up Sunday 9/29/13

Hopefully this week will be a bit better, though I'm starting NaNoWarmUp so who knows.

Sunday:
Set Up Sunday

Monday:
Music Monday (Hopefully a review this time)
Also, I'll probably be posting a song I wrote (probably the one I'm submitting to Genn. Or you guys can help me decide which one to submit.)

Tuesday:
HOPEFULLY a TV Tuesday post of some sort

Wednesday:
Waiting on Wednesday???

Thursday:
Book Blitz
Hopefully a TAIT post

Friday:
???

Saturday:
Picture Me Gone review

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Features Update

So I have decided to cut down very slightly on my features.

At the moment, I have decided to discontinue doing Flashback Friday. I love the idea of it, and I think that it was one of my more creative feature titles (which is not saying much). I'm not going to keep doing this anymore just because then I feel like I'm tied down to reviewing older books/movies/TV shows (or episodes I guess)/music. This doesn't mean that I won't continue to review them; it just means that it won't be a set feature. They'll just come up as they do. :)

I'm also going to make Talk About It Thursday a little more random. Sometimes, I'll get ideas for discussion topics, so I'll schedule them one right after the other (in terms of weeks). Then other times, I'll have nothing to talk about or discuss, so I just won't have them for however long that lasts.

For now, the other features will probably remain the same.

I am also thinking about adding a feature involving letters, as I've mentioned before. It'll probably be something that I would invite others to do as well. It's just for fun and much more arbitrarily posted than other features. I'm thinking that it's basically going to be me writing letters to people, whether they be authors, characters, bloggers, other friends, relatives, etc. Of course, bashing and hate will not be permitted, but I love the idea of writing letters, and I'd do it more often if I could. So that's kind of where this came about. The people they're addressed to aren't necessarily supposed to read it. Letters written to people "in real life" will be addressed as Dear Whomever It May Concern, or some version of that (just as long as it's not their name. This is my own set rule, but you're free to do otherwise. Also, if I know it's a positive message or not as personal, I may just address the person by name.)

I don't really know how I feel about the idea yet, and I'm trying to come with a name for it. The main one that's been sticking to me has been Letters To No One because they're not really meant to be written to be sent, if you know what I mean. It's not that the person isn't supposed to read it so much as that you're not actually sending it to them. Does that make sense?

What do you think of my new feature idea? Do you have a suggested name/title for it?

Summary Saturday 9/28/13

What a boring week it's been. Sorry about that! School was just too much. *sigh*

Here's a look at what happened on the blog this week!

Sunday:
Set Up Sunday
Showcase Sunday/Stacking the Shelves

Monday:
Music Monday
Reader's Choice #3
NaNoWarmUp Info

Tuesday:
TV Tuesday (Related to Doctor Who 50th!)

Wednesday:
N/A

Thursday:
Talk About It Thursday (Things I've Learned About Blogging)

Friday:
N/A

Saturday:
Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Summary Saturday

Love you all!

Jess <3

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (ARC)

Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts on the following book.


Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Book for Young Readers
Release Date: October 1, 2013

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

This is the first time I've read any of Lauren DeStefano's books. And boy was I glad that this kicked things off. I plan on reading her Chemical Garden Trilogy someday, but for now, let's go into my review of this fabulous book.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Talk About It Thursday: Things I've Learned About Blogging (Ed. 1)

I've decided that I this post will probably be like the first edition to a series of many more. (Also, I realize I really need to make a graphic or something for this. So I'm getting on that soon-ish.)

So, here are some things I've learned.

1) It takes up a TON of your time.
Since I started the blog, I've hardly been on main Tumblr, I've barely been on my main twitter (although that may be for the better), I realize that I have a lot less time to watch my TV shows, and I've neglected many other forms of social media not related to this blog. And while I'm happy with the way my blog is going, I wonder if I'm too invested in this blog. Maybe I am. Maybe I'm not. But I want to find a better balance.

Additionally, managing my time is HARD. There are posts to write and schedule, there are tours and blasts and blitzes to keep track of and sign up for, there are twitter chats to participate in, there are books to read, there are TV shows to watch, there are artists to listen to, and there are movies to watch. And that's just the beginning. Given, it's a bit more difficult here because I'm not just book oriented, though it may seem that way. (I've just fallen very far behind on many of my TV shows, and it's a lot easier to read a book while pretending to do homework than it is to watch a TV show.)

2) You're not going to become the next big blogger.
I didn't expect to become a really popular blog very quickly, but many of those bigger blogs did intimidate me a lot. Like how can I compete with that?! I can't code, I can't read nearly as quickly, I don't have connections, I can't get authors and other bloggers to pay attention to me, etc etc. Sure, there are some people that can hit it big in a few months (ahem, Meredith @ Pandora's Books), but most new bloggers won't. Maybe we'll never make it big. And that's okay too. I enjoy the friends I've made so far, and I'm enjoying this experience.

3) Participate and be active in the community!
This sounds so painfully obvious, and every blogger has given this advice, but I never really considered it. Many times, I figured that bloggers would mostly comment on their friends' blogs and posts. But that isn't always the case. Just the other day, Cait from The Notebook Sisters found me through one of the comments I posted on their/her blog. You may not think bloggers would go check out your blog, and some probably won't, but some do!

But even besides that, get active on Twitter (and possibly FB and Pinterest. I'm not as into those for blogging)! Talk to authors, comment on people's tweets, answer another blogger's question (even if you don't think they'd care), participate in an author or Twitter chat, ask people for advice, and so much more! I can't tell you how glad I am that I've been participating in some author chats. Not only are there opportunities to win cool stuff, you also get a chance to meet new bloggers, you get to learn more about the author, and so much more. Besides, it's FUN!

4) Don't expect free books and ARCs, but don't count yourself out either.
I asked for an ARC through Kat Zhang's site. I was honest and said that I was just starting out but that I was trying hard and at least, I could reach my local community since I write for the school paper. I was definitely not expecting a reply and definitely not an ARC at all. And guess what I got? Yup. An ARC.
I also tried to request an ARC of Lauren DeStefano's upcoming book, Perfect Ruin. I definitely did not think I would get it. I wasn't even informed about it. It just arrived one day and took me by surprise.
I've won a couple of Goodreads contests, as well as other books through Twitter contests and author chats.

On the flip side, however, this doesn't mean that you should expect to receive a bunch of free books and such. I have an Edelweiss and netgalley account. I tried getting a few books. But the thing is, I quickly realized that I've only just started. It makes sense that they'd give it to other people. And that's okay. I'm still new to this whole blogging thing. For the past 4 years or so, my reading habits get worse and worse during the school year. Suddenly having so many new books to read (I don't get to buy them often) and still so little time to read them has partially been why I've been neglectful of social media (see #1), but it also made me realize that I'm not ready to be bombarded by books yet. I already have no idea how I'm going to manage to read everything I have in a timely manner. I honestly don't. So that's why I don't mind that I'm not getting all these books/ebooks.

5) Utilize the library.
I mean, I've always loved the library, and I've always borrowed tons of books from the library because I don't get a chance to buy books very often. But I still wasn't utilizing the inter-library loan system. I'd used it a bit before but not usually for books. I would just scan the shelves at the library and take something that seemed interesting. Not only am I more open to new books, new genres, new authors, etc, I'm more knowledgeable about how to use what I have. It's okay that you're not reviewing new books. Read what you'd like, explore a bit, see what others are reading, and just enjoy it. Write a review if you'd like. Don't if you don't.
~~~
There are SO many other things I've already learned, but I suppose I'll stop it there for now. This post was supposed to be about how I choose which books to read first, but then I thought this would be more interesting, and because I've honestly been having a tough time deciding as well.
~~~
As always, thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TV Tuesday: Top Ten Reasons You Should Be Excited for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who

TOP TEN Reasons Why You Should Be Excited for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who

1. David Tennant, Billie Piper, and probably a whole slew of other people we aren't aware of yet are going to be in the episode! What's not to love?

2. Remember the opening credits to Journey's End and how awesome that was? Yeah, we'll probably get that again.

3. It's only a few months away!!!

4. TEN AND ROSE AND ELEVEN AND CLARA
Just imagine the awesome-ness for a moment...Yup.

5. The poster is such a tease!
(From Bad Wolf to John Hurt's Doctor)

6. Aren't you always excited for new Who?
(Okay, maybe not, but still!)

7. We just want to know who's been lying to us about not being in the episode.

8. Even though it means we only have one more episode with Matt, we still want to see this because at least we still have some time.

9. Ahhh, just imagine the internet (or just Tumblr) exploding. All the Whovians that haven't left yet will (most likely) be bursting. New gifs to make, new posts, new jokes, new discussion topics, new "MOFFAT" posts, new rants, new graphics, new EVERYTHING. (Also one episode closer to 12!)

10. IT'S THE FRICKING 50th, OF COURSE YOU'RE EXCITED 
(Come on, 50 years of a TV show?!)

Monday, September 23, 2013

NaNoWarmUp with Kat Zhang and Savannah Foley

Firstly, if you don't know Kat or Savannah, I suggest fixing that right away!

Secondly, you should know that I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, and I plan to again this year (more on this in October). As it turns out, Kat and Savannah have also participated in NaNo, and they both love it.

So the two of them came up with this idea. It's not always easy to suddenly write 50,000 words in a month (~1667 per day). And so they decided to create something called NaNoWarmUp for the month of October. The goal is to write 25,000 words (~800 per day) to get back into the flow of writing and get ready for NaNo. And they've invited us to join in!

Since I know I'm going to have a hard time (again) this November, I decided, why not? I need motivation to finally finish Book 1 of my series so that I can start Book 2 in November. That being said, it may mean less time for me to read and watch TV and watch movies and review and blog in general. (Maybe music though? Sometimes I write with music...)

Feel free to join us! You can find more information and sign up here.

Thanks for sticking around! <3

~Jess

Reader's Choice #3

I honestly have no idea what I'm going to read next. I have about 10 new books and have more on the way. Then I have e-books and books to review for tours, as well as library books and ARCs. So I honestly have no idea what to do. I'm just going to put a picture of the books, but it'll be linked to Goodreads. I'll also describe if there's a certain situation with it (library book, ARC, for tours, etc). And if you'd like to be EXTRA HELPFUL, let me know what order you'd like me to read and/or review all the books! :P

Music Monday 9/23/13

This has to be the easiest one to decide on so far.

ELENOWEN

Okay, so they're a duo, and they're awesome, and I have to thank Taylor so much for the recommendation. I can't even pick one of their songs to showcase. I love their sound. It's like a mix of country and folk, but it's really beautiful. Their voices are both great, and they compliment one another. I mean, it may remind you a bit of The Civil Wars, but Elenowen has a much more country sound than The Civil Wars does.

Their music is deep and rich. The melodies flow well. And I just gahhh!!!

Here just listen to them sometime.

(I'm going to write a review of their album soon-ish too. That will be better than this mess.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Showcase Sunday (/Stacking the Shelves) 9/22/13


Hosted by Books, Biscuits, and Tea, Showcase Sunday is when the blogger showcases the newest books or swag they've received, including books they've received for review, books they've borrowed from libraries, and books they've bought in bookstores or on eReaders. 
(For my own blog, I will also include anything related to TV shows, movies, music, etc if I have anything to share!)

The OTHER VERSION of this is Stacking the Shelves, which I didn't realize until now. It's basically the same thing, but a lot more people participate in that one (or of the ones I know). So if you'd like to see more, check out Tynga's Reviews.


I'm SO sorry that this is extremely late! I'll make a post about the signing soon, and that'll have better pictures. And apologies for the awkward jump cut near the end, the terrible lighting (I didn't even realize), AND the awkwardly stretched screen. (And yes, I know who Patrick Ness is, okay? :P)
Books Mentioned (In Order of Appearance)
Invisibility by David Levithan and Andrea Cremer
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
More Than This by Patrick Ness
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Perfect Ruin (ARC) by Lauren DeStefano
Silevethiel (ARC) by Andi O'Connor
A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Neptune's Tears by Susan Waggoner
Beneath the Glitter by Elle and Blair Fowler
Where Beauty Lies by Elle and Blair Fowler
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
And as always, thanks for stopping by! <3

EDIT: I forgot to add e-books, so here they are!
A Dawn Most Wicked by Susan Dennard
Resilient by Patricia Vanasse
Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson
Enclave by Ann Aguire

Banned Books Week (9/22-9/28/13)

(Source)

So today is the first day of Banned Books Week. Thus, I decided to talk a bit about it. I assume you know what Banned Books Week is.

It honestly makes me sad that people would go so far as to ban books. If you don't like it, can't you just simply not read it? Plus, most of the reasons books are banned are relevant to life. It ranges from sexually explicit language and themes to language to religious reasons to violence to homosexuality. But all of these topics are important in life. Language? Go to almost any high school or even middle school, and you'll find kids using curse words. They're already exposed to that. It would be realistic to have that in books. Violence? What about all those shootings or bombings or even wars going on all over the world? And religion and homosexuality/sexuality make me the most upset. First of all, who gives you the right to deem what's correct/incorrect or acceptable/unacceptable?! A book talks about or supports Satan? FINE. A book has a homosexual character? FINE. A book has a heterosexual character? FINE. A book talks about or supports Catholicism? FINE. I don't see how the last two are any more appropriate than the first two. They're all FINE.

The thing is, if you don't support these, fine. It's your life and your choice. But don't stop others from reading those books. Don't ban them from libraries and book stores. I would go so far as to say don't keep your kids away from them. It's important to read and learn about these subjects, whether you support them or not. Books affect people differently, and people interpret books differently. Just because you don't like the lessons it teaches or the language that's in it or the themes in the book doesn't mean that the book shouldn't be out there.

And to anyone that's been told not to read a banned book, I say go ahead. Read to your heart's content. Don't let someone determine for you what you should or should not read. Don't let someone determine for you what's appropriate and what's not. Figure it out for yourself. Don't read books you don't want to read (unless it's for school...then sorry). Read what you're comfortable with, but don't take away what you don't like from others either. Sure, give them a warning if you'd like. But let them decide, just like you'd like to decide on your own.

As for myself, I'll read whatever I'd like. I'll choose what I want to read. I'll choose what I don't want to read. I'll read banned books and celebrate them, especially Harry Potter. I'll treasure books that have touched me or helped me or changed me or shaped me, and I'll treasure books that have affected me in one way or another, whether banned or not. I'll still recommend books I love to people, whether they're banned or not. Because other people's opinions shouldn't shape my own.

What are your thoughts on Banned Books? What are you doing to celebrate Banned Books Week?

How Blogging Has Helped Me With My Tumblr Obsession

The title really says it all.

I, like many before me, got sucked into Tumblr the moment I joined. I have some friends there, and I definitely have some awesome followers. I would queue hundreds of post and like ten thousand more (to be queued later...and that I never got to...whoops). So you could say that I was a bit obsessed. I was always trying to improve my Tumblr. I was always trying to get new followers. I was always trying to come up with a new URL and a new queue tag (and I still am...for both).

And I would procrastinate. A lot. And go on Tumblr. A lot. Maybe more than a lot. -.-

But then this blog came up! So I'm trying to do many of the things I did on Tumblr in some sense. I wish I was creative enough to come up with a better URL. I wish I could be creative enough to make my own header or button. I wish I was more technologically smart so that I could have a snazzy cool theme. (Or I at least hoped it would be as easy to find amazing themes like it is on Tumblr. Alas, it works VERY differently. And I still have no idea how to code anything for either.) I try my best to increase my viewership, though it's a lot harder here.

But this blog also means that I'm not on Tumblr anymore. Like almost at all. In the past month, I've rarely posted (for a couple of reasons, not just because of this blog). But really, blogging takes up SO MUCH TIME. A lot more time than Tumblr. This blog requires reading, watching TV shows and movies, listening to music, writing reviews, exploring, connecting, etc. And Tumblr has a lot of that too. But it's different. There, you can just reblog something. I can get away with not watching a show. I can get away with not posting. I can get away with just procrastinating. Here, yes, I'm still procrastinating, but it's a different kind of procrastinating. At least I'm still reading and writing. Yeah, it's a TON more work, but it feels a lot more fulfilling (okay, that might not be true. whatever).

So I guess there wasn't really a point to this post other than to admit that I've hardly been on Tumblr (sorry followers and friends!) because I've been so preoccupied with blogging (and related things, especially Twitter and author chats and the whole shebang). Maybe it's better. Maybe it's not. I definitely don't have the same kind of followers here, but blogging has it's fair share of drama (Goodreads anyone?), and just like Tumblr, it takes a lot to establish yourself and get yourself out there. Am I up for it? Maybe. Maybe not. Will I ever abandon this blog and go back to being Tumblr obsessed? Maybe. But I'm willing to give this blog a chance. One day, it'll be worth it, I hope. I'll have blogger friends. I'll read so many more books. I'll learn more about books and writing and craft and awesome-ness. I'll connect and chat with authors and other cool people. Most importantly, I'll continue to have fun.

Are you Tumblr obsessed? Have you had a similar experience?

Set Up Sunday 9/22/13

I literally forgot about this until last night. Whoops. I have hardly any plans because I've been so pre-occupied with other things. But here we go.

Sunday:
Set Up Sunday
How Blogging Has Helped Me With My Tumblr Obsession
Showcase Sunday (hopefully)
BOOK SIGNING EVENT :D

Monday:
Music Monday

Tuesday:
TV Tuesday
Book Birthdays!

Wednesday:
Waiting on Wednesday?

Thursday:
Talk About It Thursday
Book Birthday

Friday:
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares Review???
Something about book signing event?

Saturday:
???

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summary Saturday 9/21/13

Ack! By the time this is up online, I'll be in the middle of taking the ACT. -.-

Anywho, let's see what happened on the blog this week!

Sunday:
Book Blast: Sisters in Love
Set Up Sunday
Once Upon Another Time (EP) Review

Monday:
Fangirl Review
Music Monday

Tuesday:
Book Birthdays!

Wednesday:
Waiting On Wednesday

Thursday:
#JoinTheAgenda

Friday:
Book Blast: Sia

Saturday:
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares Review (Maybe)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flashback Friday: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I realize that no one probably even cares about this book or whatever. I wouldn't either. But I had to read it for my summer reading assignment. So let's talk.

I went into this knowing that there were extremely mixed reviews. After reading it, I could see why. It's not really my type of book, and I had a lot of reasons not to like it. But it wasn't terrible.

The plot actually wasn't that bad. It got really repetitive, but Cormac actually wrote it well and there was something compelling about it. It can get boring at times, but I really loved the symbolism in the book. I liked that it made me think. I actually enjoyed the ending a lot, or at least until the last paragraph. I still have no idea what that was supposed to mean, and it just made a strong ending weak.

And there were so many other aspects of the book that I had trouble with. The first and foremost was the grammar an writing itself. McCarthy made good use of diction and syntax, but I wasn't willing to throw away everything I knew about writing just to get through this book. There's the lack or punctuation or misuse if them. There were fragments and ridiculously long run on sentences. There were no quotation marks, making it very hard to follow along with whoever is speaking. There was just so much that I couldn't get used to and couldn't push away. Maybe that was part of McCarthy's lesson. Who knows?

Honestly, I have no idea why anyone would want to make a movie out this. It was mostly predictable. It was extremely repetitive. The characters didn't even have names for goodness sake. 

Should you read it? Maybe. Would I ever re-read it? Maybe. But I wouldn't put this on your TBR list, at least not anywhere near the top.

Rating: 3/5

Due to me being sure there's not a large demand for this book, I won't add links. Sorry!

Book Blast: Sia by Josh Grayson



When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

About the Author: Josh Grayson
Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

Excerpt:
While I wait for my driver, I sit on a step outside the school. I watch the kids go by. No one stops to say hello to me, and I'm starting to understand why. Then I see Kyle trudging out of the school, shaking his thick brown hair back from his brow. I decide to go talk to him. But he changes direction when he sees me approaching. 

Wait! Kyle? Is that your name? Kyle?” 

He stops, but doesn't turn around. 

Undaunted, I run up from behind. “Listen, I just wanted to apologize for Duke in the cafeteria today.”

“Why? Can’t he take care of that himself?”

"I guess he can, but I don’t think manners are his strong point.”

Kyle squints at me, trying to read my expression, so I keep my eyes wide open. If he's looking for dishonesty or cruelty, I'm determined he won't find any there. 

“I don’t get it,” he says skeptically. “Why would you apologize to me?”

I shrug. “Because it was wrong of him to be like that.”

“If you're gonna apologize on behalf of Duke, you should apologize to Ben, not me.”

“Um…okay, I will.”

After a moment of quiet, Kyle says, “Okay. Thanks.” He sniffs and looks at the ground, obviously uncomfortable. “As long as we’re apologizing, I guess I owe you one, too.” He runs his fingers through his hair. “I’m sorry about yelling at you at the soup kitchen. That was you, right?” 

I nod. 

“So I guess it was my yelling that made you run into the street, wasn’t it?” 

I nod again. 

“Well, I’m really sorry. About all that. I had no idea.”

“Of course you didn't. Don’t worry about it.” I look down the street, past Kyle, but I can't see John and the car yet. I glance down at my nails, still torn and ratty from living homeless. “What were you doing there, anyway?” I ask.

He shrugs. “I volunteer there sometimes.”

“Oh.”

“My parents own a bakery nearby. I work there almost every afternoon. When we have day-old bread and stuff, I take it over to them.”

“You…Oh!” I suddenly recall the slice of bread I'd enjoyed just before Kyle yelled at me that day. Soft, homemade, and unforgettable. It brings a smile to my face. “Well, I know from personal experience that they really appreciate that. It’s very generous of you and your family.”

“It’s the least we can do.” He hesitates. “So you’d been eating there?”

“Yup. All week. With my friend Carol.”

“Carol? That older lady? I know her. She’s sweet. Helps a lot of the kids out. I guess she’s kind of a teacher for lost souls, huh?”

“You could say that,” I agree, remembering my wise friend fondly.

A dark car pulls up to the curb. 

I smile with apology. “Sorry, but I have to go. That’s John, here to pick me up. So are we okay?”

“We?”

“Yeah. You and me.”

After a second, he returns my smile and holds out a hand. “Sure.” 

I step closer so I can shake it, and while I'm there I purposefully inhale the smell Amber had so detested. She's right. He smells like bread. Banana bread, I think. And cinnamon. Not unpleasant at all.
~~~
Sia will be released on November 20th, 2013

You can find Josh Grayson on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and his official website.
~~~
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

#JoinTheAgenda

At last, I am posting about...THE AGENDA.

So basically, it was created by Gennifer Albin to go hand-in-hand with her series, The Crewel World.

Here's the recruit video:

When you sign up as a recruit, you get a welcome package with some cool exclusive swag. (I'm not sure what this means yet because I have yet to receive my package.)

And if you become an Agenda leader, you get the full package with even more cool stuff. (Again, I haven't gotten my package yet, so I don't know what this means. All it says on her site is that leaders get the full recruit package with more swag, a Crewel World t-shirt, and more.)

So if you read that correctly, I have become this week's Agenda leader! Remember that post about my favorite fierce moment in Crewel? Yeah, that post, and more importantly, the song included, was enough to get me a spot. WAHHHH!!! I am BEYOND happy, and I'm excited to learn more about The Agenda.

***And right now, Genn is hosting three scholarships to Agenda members! Only two have been unveiled. One is the Tattoo Scholarship and the other is an Art is the Truth Scholarship! (I'm going to tell you not to enter the Art is Truth one because I want to win...hehehe)***

So what are you waiting for?! #JoinTheAgenda and spread the truth!
(More info can be found here and here)

News/Announcement/Something Awesome!

Holy cow, guys! I'm nearly at 400 Twitter followers. So a lot are from the book blasts, but nonetheless, I want to THANK YOU ALL. So someone suggested a giveaway. You have no idea how much I'd LOVE to do a giveaway. But I don't have nearly enough money to get books for myself even (library books FTW). The few books I do have, I treasure dearly and bought for an important reason since I can't pre-order/buy many. Plus, there's also the issue of my parents. See, the thing is, I honestly haven't told them about this blog almost at all. Whoops... They'd disapprove. They'd say it's just a distraction (okay, it is in some ways).

So, I wanted to know your thoughts. What would you like me to "give away"? I'm still a newbie with very few followers. See above for my hypothesis as to why I have so many Twitter followers. (The thing is, I might not do it as often anymore because then I don't get a sense of accomplishment. I don't feel like I earned half, if not more, of those followers.) BUT STILL. Do you have a proposed solution?

My biggest thought is that I may be going to a book signing at Books of Wonder this weekend. Perhaps it would be a good time to tell my parents about this blog. And maybe I could get something to give away. We'll see. But please let me know!

Thank you so much!

~Jess <333

EDIT: I just remembered, thanks to my sister, that I still have an extra copy of The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson. I'm sure those who wanted the book got it long ago, but that's always a choice too. (It's the second book to the series, and it's fabulous.)

EDIT II: I also realized I should make this open to music/movies/tv shows as well. So I was thinking maybe like a personalized mix? It could either be digital or physical. You could pick a theme or book/tv show/movie that you'd like it to go with, if at all. You could request genres. You could just ask for my favorites so that you can maybe find new music. Or really just about anything. (Just PLEASE don't mention rap, kay?)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday 9/18/13

This feature is hosted by Breaking the Spine!
For more info on this feature, see my features page.

Note: The links NOT the pictures will take you to Goodreads! :)

Books: (so many to choose from!)



TV Shows:
1. Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

2. Return of Fall shows
-Elementary
-NCIS
-NCIS:LA

3. Psych Musical

Music:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Birthdays: 9/17/13

Happy Book Birthday to all of the authors of the following books! If I could, I'd read them all. :)

1. FROZEN by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

2. ONCE WE WERE by Kat Zhang
(You can read my review here!)

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

3. THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...





4. THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Leila Sales

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.


5. UNITED WE SPY by Ally Carter

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever.




6. 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo. 

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

7. THE BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas


Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

8. DEAD GIRLS DON'T LIE by Jennifer Shaw Wolf


Rachel died at two a.m . . . Three hours after Skyler kissed me for the first time. Forty-five minutes after she sent me her last text. 
Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. But that was before. . .before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. Then Rachel is found dead. The police blame a growing gang problem in their small town, but Jaycee is sure it has to do with that night at the old house. Rachel’s text is the first clue—starting Jaycee on a search that leads to a shocking secret. Rachel’s death was no random crime, and Jaycee must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth. 


Which book are you most excited to read?
I'm personally looking forward to This Song Will Save Your Life and of course, Once We Were.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Music Monday 9/16/13

In all honesty, I haven't listened to a lot of music lately. But I still have a pick for this week!

I was originally going to go with Imagine Dragons, but I think I'll choose them next week or something.

This week's pick is The Wanted's new single, Show Me Love!


I'm really excited for their new album! You should probably know that they're probably my #1 music guilty pleasure, okay? ;)

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review: Once Upon Another Time (EP) by Sara Bareilles

Tracklist:
1. Once Upon Another Time
2. Stay
3. Lie to Me
4. Sweet as Whole
5. Bright Lights and Cityscapes

Can I start by saying that I absolutely love the cover art? SO PRETTY. It's simple, but it's sophisticated (much like Sara's music!).

Set Up Sunday 9/15/13

I'm going to under-schedule this week, so that there's a bigger chance that I'll actually stick to it this time, okay? ;)

Sunday: Set Up Sunday, Sisters in Love Book Blast
Monday: Music Monday, Fangirl review (if not Monday, then hopefully Tuesday)
Tuesday: Book Birthdays!
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday: Post about The Agenda (#JoinTheAgenda/Scholarships)
Friday: Sia Book Blast
Saturday: Summary Saturday, Maybe a new feature??? (Probably not...who knows?), Review???

Book Blast: Sisters in Love: Snow Sisters by Melissa Foster


Danica Snow has always been the smart, practical, and appropriate sister. As a therapist, she prides herself on making reasonable, conservative choices, even if a bit boring, and as part of the Big Sister Program, she has little time for anything more in her life.

Blake Carter is a player. He never gets bored of conquering women, and with his sexy good looks and successful lifestyle, he has no trouble finding willing participants. When his friend and business partner dies in a tragic accident, he suddenly, desperately, wants to change his ways. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to stop doing what he does best.

When Blake walks into Danica’s office, the attraction between them is white hot, but Danica isn't the type to give into the heat and risk her career. Danica’s desire sets her on a path of self-discovery, where she begins to question every decision she’s ever made. Just this once, Danica wants to indulge in the pleasures of life she’s been so willingly ignoring, but with her Little Sister in turmoil and her biological sister’s promiscuousness weighing heavily on her heart, she isn’t sure it’s the right time to set her desires free.

SISTERS IN LOVE is a light, uplifting work of women's fiction and will resonate with readers who enjoy emotional journeys of the heart with strong heroines and sexy, lovable heroes. Readers of books by Jane Porter and Beth Kendrick will enjoy Danica and Blake's story.

~~~You can find the book on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.~~~

About the Author
Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary CafĂ©. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on The Women’s NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Join Melissa and the YaYa Writer Girls at their annual in-person event. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.


~~~You can find Melissa on Twitter and her official website.~~~

GIVEAWAY

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~~~~
This blast is brought to you by


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Review: The Impossible

A regular family - Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids - travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. They get an upgrade to a villa on the coastline. After settling in and exchanging gifts, they go to the pool, like so many other tourists. A perfect paradise vacation until a distant noise becomes a roar. There is no time to escape from the tsunami; Maria and her eldest are swept one way, Henry and the youngest another. Who will survive, and what will become of them?

I actually watched this movie WEEKS ago, but I just never got around to this review...whoops. But anyway. I wanted to watch this movie ever since I saw the trailer for it in theatres.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was a really emotional movie, and I cried a lot, I'm not going to lie. It's really inspiring, and it's so unbelievable that you know it's real, as one of my teachers says. It literally seems so impossible, yet somehow, it's so true.

Summary Saturday 9/14/13

Once again, I strayed quite far from the schedule. I'm going to try and schedule the posts today, but I still have homework, and I desperately need to focus on studying this weekend so we'll see.

Here's a summary of this week!

Sunday: Set Up Sunday, Review of Once We Were (ARC) by Kat Zhang, Showcase Sunday
Monday: Music Monday, I asked a question (that no one answered)
Tuesday: For Nick Book Blast, TV Tuesday (Graceland Mix), Book Birthdays!
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday: Talk About It Thursday (Sexism and Homophobia in the Dystopian Genre), Favorite Fierce Moment in Crewel (+a song!), Harry Potter Movie News!!
Friday: Darkest Worlds Book Blast
Saturday: Review of either Dash&Lily's Book of Dares, Fangirl, or The Impossible (movie) (coming later today, hopefully!)

Thanks for a wonderful week!

Jess <3

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book Blast: Darkest Worlds (Anthology)


darkest worlds

Darkest Worlds: A Dystopian Anthology An anthology that explores what humans are made of when society falls to its knees. Darkest Worlds includes six original novellas by award-winning authors and best sellers of Young Adult and New Adult Dystopia.


All proceeds go to Girls Write Now, a charity that promotes literacy of inner-city girls.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Big Harry Potter News!

Guys, I am SO happy and excited right now (I wrote this right after I found out, but I never finished this post, so while I'm still extremely excited, I've calmed down a bit). By now, I'm sure those of you that care, and maybe even those that don't, have already heard the news, but I was extremely busy and didn't get a chance to finish this. I shall explain, but first let me preface this with some background info. If you know anything about me at all, you'll know that I am a pretty big Potterhead. Now, I know I'm not the biggest Harry Potter fan (by far), although I'd like to be. But it has been a huge part of my life.

Which leads me to the news. JK ROWLING IS WRITING A MOVIE SCRIPT BASED ON THE "AUTHOR" OF FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. It's within the Harry Potter universe though it doesn't overlap much. It'll start in NYC and is set 70 years before the Harry Potter books.

For Potterheads, this is a huge thing. We've lost some fans as they left, moving on to other fandoms. But now we're coming back together (though many of us never left), and it's just so amazing. Seeing friends freak out about it and feeling what it's like to have something new again. I'm super excited for this, far beyond what I can put into words.

That's really what I wanted to say, I guess. I was going to go more into me and being a Potterhead, but I have a mini position paper to write for tomorrow so thanks for reading! <3

Favorite Fierce Moment in Crewel (SPOILERS)

As you may (or may not) know, I finished Crewel recently. This also meant that I signed up to #JoinThe Agenda (join here!) So this week, they've asked that we share our favorite fierce moment in the book. (I'm also going to make a post more specifically geared towards The Agenda and the scholarships Gennifer is offering but!)

Let's start off with me admitting that I'm already a bit hazy on the details of this book, but the one thing I do remember is Adelice, and if anything, she's DEFINITELY fierce. But I think that my favorite moment would have to be right near the end when (SPOILERS) she has to be the one to decide whether or not she'll take the chance and go to Earth. Before then, almost everything in her life had been laid out for her and decided for her. Before then, she never truly had to face what she didn't know. She was faced with a possibly permanent decision. She had been surrounded in a society where girls are told and expected to be lesser than men. She had faced big, treacherous situations before, but none had been as huge as that moment.

And you know what? She went anyway. She decided that for once in her life, she was going to change her destiny. She wasn't going to let anyone tell her what to do. She wasn't going to keep sticking around, hoping that the Guild would change. She took matters into her own hands. She listened to her own heart and intuition. She was willing to go to an unknown place where she could potentially die, dragging along with her other people, making her responsible for them as well. But she stood up to the Guild and to Cormac and to Maela and to everyone else. She wanted to prove that political power doesn't mean you have power over free will. And she did.

That is basically why I pick this as my favorite fierce moment. Because she's proving that she has power too, and she uses that power to try and spread the truth and create a better world.

I'm not very creative at all and haven't had much time, but I decided to write a short song based on/inspired by this scene so here you go!

Talk About It Thursday: Sexism and Homophobia in the Dystopian Genre

So this discussion was originally going to be about the pros and cons of audiobooks, and I was going to go into why it doesn't actually work for me (although I am now stuck with listening to one to review a book, but that's beside the point). But then, I started reading Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (review to come), and I realized a trend across most of the dystopian genre (I assume. I actually don't read many dystopian novels, though I'm getting more into it now).

I have found a troubling pattern amongst the dystopian books I have read thus far. Why is it that every government in those books deem that men>women and that you can only have peace and security if you only have male-female marriages? Why is it that the governments deem same-sex marriage to be a threat to society? Is it because many people do believe that in society today? Is it because the author simply wants to spark conversation? Is it because it's become a norm in the genre?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday 9/11/13

This feature is hosted by Breaking the Spine!
(With school, I'm sorry that I am far too busy and lazy to copy information about the books or to link to them. Most of them are mentioned elsewhere or will be reviewed/featured soon, so.)

Books
#1: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Well, waiting to read it. It was released yesterday!)

#2: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

#3: Altered by Gennifer Albin

#4: The Winner's Curse

TV
#1: GRACELAND FINALE (Don't tell anyone that I've missed a few episodes and probably won't watch the finale yet, but still!)

#2: Covert Affairs Summer Finale (I believe...I'm probably wrong, but whatever. I am also behind on this, so.)

#3: The return of all my Fall shows, particularly NCIS, NCIS:LA, and Elementary.
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