Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Reading Challenges

I've only done one reading challenge before, which was to see how many books I could read in that year (I read 116 books this year), and that was fun, so I decided to do some more reading challenges! (Because, really, who doesn't love a good challenge?!)

Each participant must come up with a list of at least 12 debut books to read and review in 2013.

The goal: To read as many sequels as you can. You set your goal at whatever number works for you.
I'm setting my goal for 15 books.

The goal is to read one book featuring each of the following paranormal creatures:
Other (ie: sirens, unicorns, centaurs, timetravel etc.)

Using the 2012 Book Blogger Recommendation List, chose books from the list. You can decide to read books only on the Top 25 list or from the entire recommendation list. You do not have to make a list of books before the challenge begins.
The Levels:
Level I - Read 5 books from the 2012 Book Blogger Recommendation List
Level II - Read 10 books
Level III - Read 15 books
Level IV - Read 20 books
Level V - Read 20+ books

The 2013 Ebook Challenge. Encouraging readers to expand past just physical books to embrace ebooks in all forms, whether on Kindle, Kobo, computer, or any other reader.
Floppy disk – 5 ebooks
CD – 10 ebooks
DVD – 25 ebooks
Memory stick – 50 ebooks
Hard drive – 75 ebooks
Server – 100 ebooks
Human brain – 150 ebooks

So, are you up to the challenge? Good luck! :D

Part Two: Cash In the Books

 Hello, and welcome to Part Two!
I've decided to do a new thing. Whenever I get a check and spend it on books, I'll call it "Cash In the Books." I figured it was a pretty sweet name.
Anyway, I got about nine more books, so I should be set on books until around April when I'm getting some more books for my birthday. Just leave a comment on one you want a particular review or my thoughts on. By the way, I will be doing more recommendations, so look forward to that!

I hope you've all had a great 2012 year filled with a wonderful abundance of books! Let's all hope this next year will be great (or better). And, hey, let's all be thankful about the world not ending. (Unless you wanted that. Otherwise...)

Happy 2013!!

Featured: 2012 End of Year Book Survey

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012
Best Book(s) of 2012
Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck and Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Best Debut
Skinny by Donna Cooner
Best Sequel(s)
Arise by Tara Hudson
Best Historical Fiction
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Best Dystopian
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Best Paranormal
Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck
Best Contemporary
A Midsummer Tights Dream by Louise Rennison
2. Book you were Excited about & Thought you were going to Love more but didn’t?
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson. I just wasn’t feeling this one.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender. I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would (and it’s now become one of my favorite series. I’m so sad it’s over now, though).

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and the Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
(For the record, these are authors new to me, not necessarily new to the world) Jennifer L. Armentrout, Susan Kaye Quinn, Ransom Riggs, Tara Hudson, Kendare Blake, Colleen Houck, Julia Kagawa, Louise Rennison, and many more.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort
zone or was a new genre for you?
Contemporary is a new genre for me that I used to not be very fond of. Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti was what really started my enjoyment for it, though.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
As Dead as it Gets by Katie Alender.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are
Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.
Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout.
Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck.
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It has that spooky and enticing feel to it.

11. Most memorable character in 2012?
Daemon from the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Because, seriously, he’s… he’s Daemon.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
Hmm. Probably Tiger’s Destiny, Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and As Dead as it Gets by Katie Alender.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?
Skinny by Donna Cooner.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited
UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From
A Book You Read In 2012?
 There’s actually a few (couldn’t choose):
“I'll love you until the day after forever.” Beautiful Chaos

“I finally found him sitting on his balcony. He was leaning back against the wall with his eyes closed. Soft music played, and a cool ocean breeze blew back my hair as I stepped on to the balcony and inhaled the scent of the sea.

"May I join you?" I asked softly.
He didn’t bother opening his eyes. "If you like."
The moon in the dark sky looked like a giant white plate dipping its edge into the ocean. We sat quietly for a while. I closed my eyes too and listened to him hum along in harmony with the music.
"You haven’t played your guitar in a long time. I miss it," I said when the song was finished.
Ren turned away. "I fear there is no music left in me.” –Tiger’s Destiny

“What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.” –Uglies

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?
The Face on the Milk Carton by
Caroline B. Cooney
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You
Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It?
(a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a
steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
The steamy kiss in Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Actually, kisses. There were a lot of epic revelations, steamy kisses, and WTF moments to fill that book. Also, in Tiger’s Destiny when someone died (SOMEONE). There were so many great books, it’s hard to choose which scenes!
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book
You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Daemon and Katy from the Lux series, Cas and Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, and Hayden and Ember from Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout (as you can tell, I’m obsessed with this amazing author).
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012
From An Author You Read Previously
Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck.
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based
SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?
Frozen's Blog, obviously.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012?
My favorite review I wrote is probably Confessions of An Angry Girl, because I was really able to describe my emotions on the story.
3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I don't have discussion posts on my blog yet.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion
you read on somebody else’s blog?
Frozen (AKA Wild Heart Books) has some amazing reviews. Here’s one I really enjoyed, on Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout.

5. Best event that you participated in
(author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Unfortunately, I have been too busy this year to participate in any author signings, but I do have some virtual author signings, from Susan Kaye Quinn and Lacey Weatherford. There was a book fair at Barnes & Noble I attended, however, that was quite fun.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
When any of my friends (or anyone, really) cares enough to check out my blog and possibly comment. J

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog
(whether it be by comments or views)?
The most popular post this year on my blog definitely has to be my post on Jennifer L. Armentrout. It has around 41 views so far, but this is the most views I’ve gotten on one post.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Any or all of my reviews that have zero comments.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related
sites, book stores, etc.)?
There are two book-relate sites I’ve really grown to love. The Reading Fever and Vampire Book Club are just two of them, but definitely check them out!
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
This is my first year participating, but I did complete the goal for this year.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012
But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
The Diviners by Libba Bray.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
 The fifth and final book in the Gallagher Girl series (which is currently untitled).
3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish
Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
Fix up my blog a bit (even though I’m not that great at that type of thing) and get to reviewing and discovering more great books!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

Description: Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild (there’s a mention of robbers who steal laptops, iPods, etc. in the mall, and some cases of revenge, some risky and including BB guns)
Sexual: Mild (a few kisses and innuendo)

Thank you, NetGalley and publishers, for providing me with an ARC.

Have you ever had that feeling where the pacing is so slow that you feel you’ll lose interest in it quickly, and yet at the last moment when you’re about to close the book, you just need to find out how the book will end? That’s how I felt after finishing Tempestuous.

I’ve never read The Tempest by William Shakespeare, so I had to go on Spark Notes and find more details on it, because I searched Barnes & Noble’s website for a vague description, but it only told me things on the physical book, rather than the story on the inside. So, after reading the summary off Spark Notes, I understood a bit more about Tempestuous. It’s actually semi-amusing to me the way the authors modernized and twisted this story until it was molded into their own creation. I appreciate that. It takes guts to try to modernize a Shakespeare masterpiece, and so I give a round of applause for Kim Askew and Amy Helmes.

This being said, there are a few things in the book I didn’t appreciate. I didn’t like how everyone but Caleb was practically a slave to Miranda; I don’t know if this was the case in the original Shakespeare play, but I’m going to go on a whim and say it is this similar class, and if it is, I apologize for the negativity on that part. Still, I felt the whole grudge on her ex-friends and ex-boyfriend went on for a bit too long. I realize Brian cheated on her with her best friend, but the revenge seemed an inch below her level.

Other than the few things I didn’t care for, this was a pretty good book. There were some slow moments, some that weren’t as interesting, but even the lesser intriguing parts was still well written and made me want to continue on with the story.

The title of this book was actually what captured my attention—“Tempestuous: A Twisted Lit Novel.” If that doesn’t get you to read through the synopsis, I don’t know what will. Twisted Lit? I’m a fan of all old stories that have been manipulated into modern literature, and that’s the main reason I requested this one.

There was another thing I loved about this book. Actually, two things: firstly, this entire book takes place in a little more than one day (how cool is that?), and secondly, the chemistry that grew between Miranda and Caleb had a force to the readers that’ll have them cheering for them.

Now, I don’t know if you will fall upon the same issues I have with this novel, or if you will find it as surprising as I did, but take a chance and pick up this book. It’s not one you can easily forget.

Cover: I like the cover. It reminds me of a mall fountain mixed with an Old Roman/Grecian one, but that was probably the point, right? The soda on it is cute as well.

Setting: The local mall.

Characters: Miranda is a girl who can be very self-centered at times. It makes sense that her nickname is “princess,” because it seems she has many people wrapped around her finger, especially her friend and coworker Ariel, who she sends off to get revenge for her on her two ex-friends, even though those friends did nothing but emotionally hurt Miranda and her “friends.” (Really, it was Brian and Rachel who were to blame.) But thankfully, I got to know her better as the story progressed, and she isn’t as bad as I thought.
-Caleb is a character all in his own. I love how he doesn’t put up with Miranda’s crap, and points out her selfishness whenever there’s a chance. It seems as though he doesn’t care about what anyone thinks about him, and I like that about him, too, along with the fact that he has just an edge of bad boy genes in him.
-Chad and the other jocks Miranda accuses of being “nut-logs,” some of which include the infamous band, aren’t all that bad. They aren’t exactly the nicest people in the world, but they’re much better than Brian is, that’s for sure.
-Whitney, Britney, Rachel, and Brian were all complete jerks at the beginning of the story, especially towards Miranda, Ariel, and Caleb. Although Brian remains a player and the three besties’ eyes are only set on revenge, and I did get more than a little tired of reading about this, the story wouldn’t be as interesting without them.

Storyline: Teenagers get locked in a mall after being snowed in.

Writing: The writing is okay, in my opinion. It’s a little amusing at times, while the narrator can also appear snotty at others.

Surprises: (A small spoiler here.) I know this sounds a little weird, but I laughed so much at the thought of Caleb, Chad, and a few other guys in a band together. Just picture a sarcastic and stony-looking guy who works at a game store wearing a magician’s cape with a jock in another funny costume playing guitar and drums together. Laughing yet? No? Okay. Other than this, there actually weren’t a whole lot of surprises until the very end. The rest was more amusing than surprising, however.

Overall: 4 stars. This is interesting story that others may have enjoyed somewhat more than I did, but I did give it the rating I think it deserved. Like I said before, I really like Shakespeare, although I’ve only read a few of his works, and this was an intriguing and exciting book for me.

Recommended: I’d recommend this one to all who love Shakespeare and would be interested in reading a twist on the story all the fans know and enjoy.

“Remind me why I'm doing this again?" I whispered back.
“For your real friends, of course: Me, Caleb, and Chad.”
“That's sweet of you to say, but I'm not sure we're all friends. Mr. Darcy over here," I indicated Caleb with a nod, "finds me barely tolerable.”

—“Where are you taking me?” he asked.
“To Got Games for a pair of those trick handcuffs,” I said. “I’m not letting you get away so easy this time.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Description: Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it. 

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

Language: None (besides the term "sucks" and whatnot)
Violence: Mild (mostly talk of surgery, side effects, etc.)
Sexual: Mild (a few brief kisses)

I have to be honest here: this story really hit home hard.

I’ve never been three hundred and two pounds, but there was a time when I weighed a lot more than I do now. So I could relate to Ever. I remember feeling as she did; invisible, lonely, feeling as though nobody gave a crap whether you were in the room or not, as long as you didn’t bother them too long or even at all. I was scared of what people thought of me, and I had a voice like Skinny in my head. I still do, but that won’t change. Like her, I managed to push it out, but it still appears every so often.

The author of this story went through many things Ever did, both emotionally and physically. Cooner had done gastric-bypass surgery herself and is said to still be struggling with her weight. Now, I don’t know the situation she was in, but if she was feeling like Ever had, then I would say she was a brave person for doing the surgery.

In my experience, I could understand why Ever wanted to give up on trying to lose weight and just go through with the risky gastric-bypass surgery. There was nothing that was working for her. For me, I never went through with that, was too scared to even think of the possibility. Maybe that was something that annoyed me about Ever, how she seemed to grow tired of even trying to lose the fat on her own. She simply gave up trying and went deep into something that could kill her. At least it sounded like she gave up, because it didn’t mention her ever exercising on her own.

I don’t want to say that gastric-bypass is wrong, because it has helped a lot of people. Apart from this, it has also damaged or killed many people as well. Perhaps not as many, but definitely quite a few in this situation have. Honestly, since I’ve thankfully never been three hundred pounds, I can’t say whether or not I would go through with the surgery. So my opinions, if you’ve been in the situation, you will have to excuse me on, as I’ve never experienced it.

Putting this aside, there was something that bothered me about Ever. She was mean, and that probably had more to do with why it appeared to her many people disliked her than the fact that she was overweight. This thought hadn’t even occurred to her, however, and she assumed it was her obesity. Another thing: the main reason she went through the surgery was to get her life-long crush, Jackson, to like her again. I don’t appreciate this, how she didn’t just do it for herself. No, it was for someone else. Someone who didn’t even like her in the end.

In the end, she discovered she was only in love with the memory of Jackson, rather than the physical boy. There were a lot of things I wanted to yell at her (as well as yelling at Skinny to shut up constantly), and things I felt she could have realized sooner. I could relate to her in a lot of ways, yeah, but I don’t think I would have done some of the things she did, like dissing the only person who actually cared about her.

Despite everything that annoyed me, everything that was a touchy subject for me, and everything I felt could have been put differently, this was a realistic read that has taught me many things about myself. Much like Ever, I’ve learned to not care as much what everyone else thinks about me, and to know more about myself and the answer to the issues that have unfolded in the past.

The main thing is, don’t listen to that voice in your head. You may be able to overcome it, but don’t even listen to it telling you to give up. If you’re in this situation, or you know someone in this situation, tell them or yourself that you can do this, you can fight this, and you can’t just give up and lose everything you gained. Push Skinny away and keep the hope rising up above your head.

Cover: This cover is actually one of my favorite contemporary ones. Something I noticed about it, though, is if you look at the author’s picture, the cover model on Skinny looks impeccably similar, albeit a younger version of the author. Maybe it’s just me, though.

Setting: High school.

Characters: Ever. At times I felt bad for her, but most of the time she annoyed me. Honestly, she cares way too much about how others think of her. I feel like it took her too long to realize that life isn’t about being thin or popular.
-Rat. The kind-hearted, smart, and gentle person who sees what’s on the inside verses outside appearances. Maybe that’s why I love him. He can be sweet, but at the same time logical and humorous. Because of how much I enjoyed reading about him, I felt offended myself if someone called him geeky-looking.
-Briella and Whitney: the two have something in common at the beginning, how they both appear self-centered. But as I continued reading, I found that Briella feels insecure and dumb most of the time, and just wants a friend. Whitney, however, is exactly as I thought she would be: selfish and an attention-whore.
-Kristen. She’s a refreshing, nervous girl, who Ever seems to prefer to at first be nice to.
-Jackson. I knew you were up to no good, you jerk.

Storyline: An obese teenager risking gastric-bypass surgery to lose weight.

Writing: I enjoyed this writing, but at times Ever did irritate me (as she is the narrator, I felt I had to include this).

Surprises: There actually weren’t many surprises for me in this one. It was fairly predictable, but there was something about that I liked. There are hardly any books I prefer this with, but Skinny was unique enough for this case.

Overall: 4.5 stars. Skinny is an emotional whirlwind that touches sensitive issues on obesity, the desperate feeling of wanted to be loved, and the loneliness that resurfaces and makes you feel worthless.

Recommended: I would recommend this book to anyone who ever feels invisible or thinks of themselves as a project that can never be altered enough for perfection.

“I loved you when you were three hundred and two pounds, and I love you now." -Rat

—It just wasn't fair. God made some people naturally skinny and some people naturally fat. I'd never know how my life would have been different if I'd been one of the ones He made skinny. I didn't know how He chose. This one will be blonde, with long thin legs and great skin. This one will be short and fat with legs that rub together when she walks. I just knew I wasn't one of the lucky ones.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Part One: Book-Related Presents for Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you had a great day celebrating Jesus' birthday.
There are a lot of things I love about Christmas. Obviously the first is being reminded of the day our Lord and Savior was born from the Virgin Mary, but the second has to be seeing the reactions of my family and friends as they open gifts I gave them. The third, well, is pretty obvious. Opening presents myself! I can't deny that I'm pretty sure we all love doing this.
I had some great surprises. I got a laptop (which I received before Christmas, but I still count it), a very nice camera (because I love photography), a small camera from my sister that gives it automatic vintage frames around the photo, some candy in my stocking, and Barnes & Noble gift cards. Guys, you have no idea how many of these I received. Four. FOUR. And I am so happy and grateful with all the things I was gifted!
So obviously I used the gift cards right away.
The first gift card was for NOOK, and those books I bought on Christmas Eve and listed on the December Book Haul. But the rest are for physical books. Yes. Physical books. It's been awhile, guys. It has. (Not that I don't love NOOK Books, because of course I do!)
After all the presents were open and my family who visited retired to their own homes, I went straight to B&N and ordered some books for myself. More than half of these books are used, but they are in great condition (either Very Good or Like New, for around two dollars or less, not counting shipping prices). The newer ones you see near the bottom are brand new from the website.
I'm so excited to get started on these!


Have you guys read any of these books? If so, please comment and tell me how you like them, and which you'd like me to review. And any recommendations are always welcome!
By the way, I also received a check from my grandma, which I will use to buy more books (I think I'm obsessed with using everything to buy more books. Aren't we all, though?), so look forward to Part Two!

Monday, December 24, 2012

December Book Haul

Hello, and welcome back!
Today I have a December Book Haul for you guys! (Well, for me, too, obviously. I am reading these, anyhow.) It's quite lengthy, and that is because a few of these books are gifts and some of them I found free, while the others I bought on my own (there are only two of those). Only two of these books are not eBooks.

Without further ado, let's get on with it.

I'll make a separate post on where you can get free NOOK Books and possibly Kindle Books. I also have some books from NetGalley, but you can comment if you want to see those, but otherwise I'll just make reviews for them and you'll see then.

What books have you gotten this month?