October 31, 2014

A YA Costume Party

You are cordially invited to a bookish costume party.
The only requirement (besides RSVPing): dress up as a character from Young Adult fiction.
So who do you dress up as?

Costumes for the Girls

This is my personal favorite: Tris from the Divergent trilogy. I actually dressed up as her for a costume party at my co-op last spring. All you need are black clothes and Tris's famous tattoo on her collarbone. I also wore my hair in a ponytail and, when I posed for pictures at home, I held a knife.

But what if you're not blonde enough to be Tris? Well, you could create a costume based on Linh Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles. You could mimic her ballgown or her mechanic's wear. Don't forget the cyborg hand and leg, which you can create with body paint!

Looking for a group costume? Then look no further than the 4 Gallagher Girls: Cammie, Bex, Liz, and Macey. All you need is the Gallagher uniform. My friend actually went as Cammie to the same costume party I went as Tris to, so there are Divergent meets Gallagher Girls pictures.

For more YA fantasy suggestions, how about Celaena or Nehemia from Throne of Glass, or Kestrel from The Winner's Curse? I actually considered Kestrel when I was brainstorming costume ideas for that party last spring.

Or, if you're looking for an excuse to wear a hooded cape, you definitely need to go as Scarlet from A.C. Gaughen's Scarlet and Lady Thief.

One costume I'd love to see at this fictional party is Alyssa from the Splintered trilogy. You could mimic her Wonderland look or create something based on what she wears in our world.

Which leads me to...

Costumes for the Guys

One of the coolest costumes for guys at this party would have to be Morpheus from the Splintered trilogy. Imagine how elaborate and amazing a Morpheus costume would be.

But for a guy who prefers something simpler, he can throw together a Percy Jackson costume. All you'd need is an orange Camp Half-Blood T-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and a sword.

Or how about Peeta from The Hunger Games? I'm not entirely sure how you'd pull this one off, but I'd like to see someone try.

Maybe you want to dress up as Morpheus, but the costume would be just a little too complex. How about the Darkling from the Grisha trilogy? Just as dark and mysterious, but simpler to put together as a costume.

And my last suggestion, for a guy who wants a fairly simple costume, has crazy hair, and is super tall... Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door.

All right, so which character would you dress up as? Do you think people would easily recognize you were said character? Let's discuss and have fun with this topic. :)

October 30, 2014

Review: Famous in Love

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
Grade: C
This ARC was provided by On the Same Page ARC tours in exchange for an honest review. (I also won an ARC on Twitter from Little, Brown's YA publicity team. Thank you!)
Summary: When seventeen-year-old Paige Townsen gets plucked from obscurity to star in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a bustling movie set on the shores of Maui, and she is spending quality time with her costar Rainer Devon, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie's famous love triangle, Paige's crazy new life begins to resemble her character's.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is -- and who she wants -- while the whole world watches.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: As love triangles for the sake of love triangles go, this one is a bit of a doozy. Paige Townsen is definitely drawn to both Rainer and Jordan. However, while her relationship with Rainer is a bit of a slow-burn, things happened way too fast with Jordan for my taste. My other primary problem with Famous in Love was that there wasn't much plotline beyond the romance. I like a good romance as much as the next blogger, but I prefer a little more to my books than just that. Also, there were some weird time jumps that made me reread sections a few times, just to make sure I understood what was going on. However, I did like the glimpses we got of the Hollywood scene through a newbie's eyes. And I really did enjoy Rainer and Paige's romance. There was some immediate attraction, but watching it develop was nice, and I look forward to what's in store for them in the sequel. (I think there's a sequel. I heard there was a sequel.)
Romance stayed fairly clean, maybe upper PG, lower PG-13. Language had its foul moments. The movie director was a bit fond of the f-word and a couple characters dropped the s-word.

The Verdict: As long as love triangles don't drive you batty, then this is a fun fluffy romance.

October 29, 2014

Review: Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Grade: A+
Release date: November 7, 2014
This ARC was provided by Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I am trying so hard to write this review in English and not fangirl. One of my favorite parts was on page 30 where we get one of the first POVs from the new killer. Before I'd even read the last sentence on the page, I thought, It has begun. Wanna know what the last sentence on page 30 was? I'm sure y'all have a pretty good guess.
All of the characters receive strong development. We learn more about how each one ticks and why they are the way they are. The semi-love triangle from book one continues, but it takes a backseat to the character development and overall plot. I will say this: it's completely resolved by the end of Killer Instinct, and I am happy with its resolution. Back to the character growth, though. It was interesting to observe that Cassie has a bit of PTSD, from the events of The Naturals (I'm sure any sane person would). Her friendship with Sloane grows, and that was exciting. Lia continues to clash with Cassie a bit, but Lia is still seen as a strong female character. We also meet Agent Sterling, and she's pretty awesome, as well. Jennifer Lynn Barnes excels at writing women who are strong in a variety of ways. Plus, we got to know Dean's father. Let me just say, that man is creepy, and I can't even begin to imagine what Dean went through as a kid.
I was kept guessing throughout the entire book, although I did have my suspicions and I was more right this time than last. That's all I'll say on that subject because part of the fun is the guessing game. So if you're coming here for spoilers as to who the killer is...I won't be spilling the beans.
Violence is as bad as last time. The serial killer's methods are described a fair bit, so if anything along those lines would be a trigger for you, then you might want to avoid this book. Romance-wise, kissing happens and other stuff (an affair and so forth) are mentioned but not described. One of the best moments for me was the description of hand-holding between two characters. I won't say who, but it got me very excited and I actually posted on Goodreads: I've never been so into a description of hand-holding. Language is pretty clean, too.

The Verdict: Overall, I found Killer Instinct to be an even stronger book than The Naturals, and I absolutely loved both. I definitely need more books in the series. Oh, and that cover? It's very important to the book. ;) I'll finish this review with some favorite (non-spoilery) quotes (all taken from my ARC, so they may be different in the final edition).

"Self-preservation was not Michael's strong suit."

"Come on Dean... You don't have to dance. Just brood in beat to the music."

"Maybe, to do what you and I do, we have to have a little bit of the monster in us."

October 27, 2014

So You Like... #7

I've covered a lot of genres so far (ok, only four, but whatever), and so I decided it was time for another So You Like... about a book, movie, or TV show. This time, I've chosen...


If you liked the family secret part of Princess Diaries, try...


If you liked the smart, sassy characters, try...


If you liked how Mia became comfortable with who she is, try...


If you liked how Mia was crushing on her friend's brother, try...


And, if you want more chick flick cuteness, try...

Just Like the Movies

October 26, 2014

Rewind & Review #24

Rewind & Review

And I thought I felt busy before the last Rewind & Review...
This time, I had fall break in there, but I kept busy! My friends who stayed on campus and I went shopping on Saturday afternoon and went to Keeneland on Sunday afternoon. Let's see...what else has happened? Oh, yeah. Taylor Swift music. *proceeds to fangirl for 13 minutes* "Out Of The Woods" is phenomenal and the clips in the Diet Coke and the Target commercials have me going crazy (particularly the Target commercial clip). I'm so excited for the whole album!

Books I Received
Stray by Elissa Sussman (traded with Stephanie)
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (via Read Between the Lynes)
The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson (via BookLook Bloggers)

Books I Bought
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen (e-book)
Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz

Books I Read
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (reread)
Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George (4 stars)
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (4 stars)
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (3.5 stars)
Magnolia by Kristi Cook (reread)
A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen (4 stars)
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller (reread)
Stray by Elissa Sussman (4 stars)
The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton (2 stars)
Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker (reread)
The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (reread)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed
   (From 10/13-10/18)
   (From 10/19-10/25)
Upcoming Blog Posts in the Next Few Weeks (subject to change)
  • So You Like... #7
  • Review: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Review: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
  • A YA Costume Party
  • 1989 ~ Thoughts on Taylor's New Album
  • The Sweet Scent of Books
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Never Want to Reread
  • A Bookish Swiftie's Recommendations Part 2
  • Random Friday: Favorite Season

October 25, 2014

You Might Be a Book Blogger

So you're a blogger. And you're wondering if you're a book blogger because you have absolutely no clue! (That statement is loaded with sarcasm, in case that wasn't conveyed since this is the Internet.) Well here are 12 ways you can tell for certain that you're a book blogger.

1. If you regularly read books at least a month before the majority of the country/world can read them.
"What? How is that even possible???" you may be asking. Well, some book bloggers get finished copies, but most of us get handy-dandy ARCs. Which leads me to...

2. If you know what ARC, DNF, TBR, BEA, ALA, and other acronyms stand for.

3. If you are more critical of books you read for fun.
Once you become a book blogger and fall into the groove of reviewing, it's easy to find more faults in your old favorites or just any book you read, even if it's not for review. It happens.

4. If you have been to at least a handful of author events.
I know several book bloggers live too far from major cities, but I'd say 95% of book bloggers have been to at least one event. (I have been to 6.)

5. If you regularly talk to authors or publicists on Twitter.
In this day and age, it's so easy to tweet an author your question or strike up a conversation with them or a publicist. And that's pretty darn awesome.

6. If you know how to send a review request.
Some bloggers only request e-galleys. And that's awesome. That's your way of sending a review request! But others send email requests to publishers, which is pretty daunting.

7. If you get really excited for cover reveal week.

8. If you learn to schedule posts months in advance.
*raises hand sheepishly* This is me. I get meme posts scheduled months in advance, and I try to get reviews done at least a month before they'll be posted. Plus, now that I'm in college, it's a real time-saver. I just work on posts whenever I have time.

9. If you do book haul posts/videos.
I do both! It's a fun way to thank publishers and fellow bloggers for the books they send you, and I also like talking about recent buys.

10. If you understand that ARCs, while technically free, are not actually free.
That's probably a bit confusing, so let me break it down for you. Bloggers do not have to pay for ARCs. ARCs are not for sale. But they do cost publishers money to produce, and it's expected that a blogger try their hardest to review any galley they get, as a thank you to the publisher.

11. If you know how to use NetGalley and/or Edelweiss.
I started out using NetGalley and joined Edelweiss back in January. I like that so many books go up on EW, but I've found it's easier to get approved on NG. (I seriously think some publishers just don't like me...)

12. If you always excitedly check the mail to see if you've received any bookish packages.

Voila. 12 ways to tell if you're a book blogger or not.

October 24, 2014

Random Friday: Favorite Disney Characters

Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following: 
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my post.
  • Blog about this week's topic.
  • Add the link to your Random Friday at the bottom of this post.
I can talk about books all day. Y'all know that, I'm sure. But I can also talk about Disney movies and characters for several hours. I've already highlighted Disney in several Random Friday posts (Disney songs, Disney pictures, childhood memories), but I've never once fully discussed my favorite characters. Although I'm sure y'all can guess a few. Let's start with the obvious.

If you combine Belle and Anna (with perhaps a little Rapunzel and then Aurora for looks), you have me.  I love bookish Belle, and Anna is a kindred spirit.

Cinderella and Giselle will always rank in my top favorite princesses.  Cinderella has an admirable spirit (she suffers emotional abuse for years, and is still kind, humble, a dreamer, and a little bit sassy), and Giselle is so much fun.

As for princes, I really like Aladdin, the Beast, Kristoff, and...

Flynn Rider. :)

And Mike Wazowski!  Especially in Monsters University.

And finally, a favorite carrying over from my childhood...

Pooh Bear! :)

So who are your favorite Disney characters?

October 22, 2014

Review: Mortal Heart

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Grade: A-
Release date: November 4, 2014
This ARC was provided by a fellow blogger. Thanks, Dawn!
Summary: Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has.

But across Brittany, the tides of war are drawing ever nearer, with France pressuring the beleaguered duchess from all sides. Annith’s search for answers threatens to rip open an intricate web of lies and deceit that sit at the heart of the convent she serves. Yet to expose them threatens the very fabric of her existence and risks an unforeseen chance at love, one that she can no longer deny. Annith must carefully pick a path and, gods willing, effect a miracle that will see her country—and her heart—to safety.

**Warning: potential spoilers for Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph**
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Erhmahgawsh. This book. My thoughts are going to be so hard to sum up because this was the first physical review book I've read since coming to college. I took lots of notes on mini Post-Its though, so here's my random jumble of thoughts. I loved getting a different view of the convent and learning secrets that were clearly brewing under the surface since Grave Mercy. Annith is amazing, y'all. She's so incredibly smart and manipulative for someone who seemed so demure, and I loved it. However, I felt like her narration sounded too similar to Ismae's. Butbutbut, I enjoyed seeing how much each book's title plays into the story.
One of the best parts of Mortal Heart was learning so much about Arduinna and her followers. They are so awesome, y'all. And I loved having all three girls together again. Their friendship still needed more development (we're mainly just told they're friends), but I could tell Ismae, Sybella, and Annith genuinely cared about each other.
And then you get to about page 305, and the bombshells just kept coming. I will say I didn't like one of them (it was just...weird for me), but most of them worked (especially the one about Salonius).
Y'all are gonna hate me for this, but I felt no chemistry in the romance. It felt under-developed to me, and I couldn't see where it was coming from, except for a desire to be loved by someone.
However, this trilogy is some of the best historical fiction I've ever read.

Favorite quotes (no spoilers):
"For all your love and affection and kindness, there is always a part of yourself that you withhold from others."

"When one has made as many mistakes as I have, one becomes very familiar with the fullness of God's grace and mercy."

"Your mortal heart shines like a candle flame and I, like one of those hapless black moths you used to leave as offerings, am helpless before its lure."

The Verdict: An awesome book with a great protagonist, but there are a few faults that lessened my overall enjoyment. Still, it's a great trilogy that I definitely want more of.

October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want to Start

Series I want to start! There aren't many (although the roommate is constantly trying to get me to read Harry Potter), so this will be a short post. And not actually a top ten post...

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

2. Legend by Marie Lu

3. Venom by Fiona Paul

4. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

5. Deception by C.J. Redwine
We're counting this, okay? I've only read the first book, and it's been hard getting my hands on the second and third.

6. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

So only six series! Are there any you recommend that you know I haven't read yet?

October 20, 2014

Surviving Dystopian Worlds

There was a day back in August when I was reading The Murder Complex. I noticed just how violent the world was, and that got me thinking about dystopian and futuristic worlds. Would I survive any? I don't have much faith in myself, so I'm saying probably not. But let's go world by world, and I'll tell you what I think my chances are.

The Murder Complex (by Lindsay Cummings)
Since this was the book that sparked this post, I figured I should start with it. Would I survive? I'd say there's a 99% chance I wouldn't. As much as I enjoy killing off characters, I'm not the type of person who could kill an actual person easily.

Divergent trilogy (by Veronica Roth)
I'd likely be Erudite or possibly Candor, so up until the events of the trilogy, I'd say my survival chances would be pretty high. I'm not sure I'd make it out of Allegiant (or even Insurgent) alive, though.

The Hunger Games trilogy (by Suzanne Collins)
If I was thrown into the arena, I definitely wouldn't survive the blood-bath. Quizzes often place me in District 8, although heaven knows how accurate that is.

The Testing trilogy (by Joelle Charbonneau)
Would I survive the Testing itself? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. No.

The Lunar Chronicles (by Marissa Meyer)
There's letumosis and Lunars to contend with, so I think my chances are pretty low. We don't hear much about America in the books, so I'm not sure how Illinois is doing. But since I live close to a big city (well, when I'm in IL), chances are I'd probably be killed during the events of Scarlet.

Landry Park (by Bethany Hagen)
Would I be gentry or Rootless? I really have no idea. Thankfully, this is a world that wouldn't be too hard to survive in, as long as I was gentry.

Not a Drop to Drink (by Mindy McGinnis)
I'd either die from dehydration or someone would kill me in pursuit of my water supply. So, if this happens to our world, it was nice knowing y'all.

The Selection trilogy (by Kiera Cass)
I'd probably be a Three (or least, I hope I would be, because that's my skill set and I could be a writer), so I think I'd actually have a good chance of surviving in Illea.

So let's talk dystopian worlds. Are there any you think you'd survive in? Are your chances better than mine?

October 19, 2014

Don't Stalk Bloggers

Authors are great. And oftentimes, there are many right ways for them to interact with readers and bloggers. But unfortunately, the bad ways come to light too often. So, authors, here is my advice.

DON'T favorite every tweet that mentions your book, unless you're tagged in it, you already follow the person, or someone you follow retweets it. It can come across as stalkerish, and it can sometimes be apparent that you're searching your book title.
But! If someone tweets positively about your book and tags you in it or someone you follow retweets it, then DO feel free to thank the person and/or favorite their tweet.

DON'T spend all your social media time sharing buy links, retweeting praise, talking about when your book comes out, etc. 
DO take the time to interact with fans who have asked you questions or praised your book, and also talk about random things in your life. Readers like an author who is relatable, who maybe likes the same TV shows or music as they do.

As a general rule, DON'T read reviews. If you know you can handle positive ones with some criticism and you know the review is positive, read those. Otherwise, steer clear of them, even if they're tweeted to you. I as a writer know that unsolicited criticism isn't always fun to read. But reviews are there for publishers and readers, NOT for the author. You've already gone through rounds of criticism and editing.
Additionally, DON'T respond to any negative reviews, subtweet about them, and so on. Yeah, the criticism stings, but be mature and keep your thoughts to yourself. Rant to a parent, spouse, or trusted friend instead.
Finally, if you're going to respond to a review (hopefully a positive one), DO limit your response to something along the lines of, "Thanks for reading, and thanks for the review!" There's no reason to respond to any of the criticism they might've included, even if you think it's valid and realize that's something you need to work on in future books.

I saved the best for last.
DON'T STALK BLOGGERS. I don't care if he/she hated your book. If you start reading all her reviews, and checking out all of his social media sites, and subtweeting bitterly about her, and eventually try to find where she lives or his private email address or her phone number or anything she's chosen not to share for a reason, YOU'RE A STALKER.
The good news is, the vast majority of authors don't need to worry if they're stalking bloggers or not. They know better. But unfortunately, there are those rare few that show up and make the author community and blogger community look terrible as a whole.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to finalize my name change and application to the witness protection program.

October 18, 2014

So You Like... #6

This is the sixth So You Like... post. Craziness! I've previously recommend futuristic books, retellings, historical fiction, and books for if you liked the American Girl stories. This time, the post is all about...

(As always, clicking on the book cover will take you to its Goodreads page.)

If you liked...




Both are cute, fluffy, probably unrealistic romances that I quite enjoyed.

If you liked...




Friends turned love interests!

If you liked...




Teen star comes to town to film a movie and falls for a local girl.

If you liked...




Mallory and Heart both have a thing for vintage dresses. (Plus, I'll take any opportunity I get to recommend both these books.)

If you liked...




Both feature an awesome trope - fake-dating that becomes something more!

Hopefully you found some new reads thanks to this post!  Let me know if there's a genre or book/movie/TV show you want to see for the next So You Like...

October 16, 2014

A Bookish Swiftie's Recommendations

If you're a new reader, then you probably haven't heard how big of a Swiftie I am (that's the name for Taylor Swift's fanbase). I love her music and sense of style, and I look up to her because she's very classy and hasn't made some bad choices like other young music artists I won't name.

I started thinking about which Taylor Swift songs remind me of YA novels, and there were a lot. So many that I'm going to have do several posts about this topic (especially since her new album releases very soon, and obviously, those songs aren't included in today's list). So without further ado, Taylor Swift songs and YA novels.

"Mean" ~ books about bullying

The List by Siobhan Vivian
#scandal by Sarah Ockler

"Mary's Song (Oh My My My)" ~ books about childhood friends who eventually date
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Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
On the Fence by Kasie West

"Haunted" ~ dramatic fantasy

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Splintered by A.G. Howard

"Today Was a Fairytale" ~ super cute romance
20801166 9754815
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

"Breathe" and "22" ~ books about friendships

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (y'all knew this book would be in this post somewhere, right?)
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

"Safe and Sound" ~ books where the main character needs lots of hugs

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson
Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

"Eyes Open" ~ books where the protagonist is in danger

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
All of Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

"I'm Only Me When I'm With You" ~ books where the protagonist learns to be herself
15777621 14744489

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

So that's the first post! Please let me know what you thought, and if you would be interested in more. (Although, let's be honest, I'll do more of these, no matter what.)