Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Talks | The Pros and Cons of ARCs

Janie and Janelle had the fabulous idea of creating the group Tuesday Talks where bloggers, booktubers, and book enthusiasts can discuss bookish topics each week. Check it out and join in the discussions!

The Pros and Cons of ARCs
For anyone who doesn't know, an ARC is an Advance Reader Copy. These can be obtained a variety of ways in both electronic and physical formats. In the digital age in which we live, digital ARCs are very easy to come by through sites like Netgalley. You can also get a number of ARCs from self published authors through their blogs or goodreads. After a while, they might even start seeking YOU out. 

So what are the pros and cons of ARCs? For me I think there are definitely more pros than cons. First of all you generally get to read the book before it's released (thus the Advance part) and don't have to wait nearly as long. You also get to read them before others, which maybe doesn't seem like a good thing (or a nice thing, since some people may not have an opportunity to receive an ARC), but can actually be a good thing from a reading standpoint. Not only are you able to read before there is a lot of hype surrounding a book (positive or negative) you also get to be one of those promoting the book if you really like it, which can be a lot of fun. 

In general getting ARCs can be a really great experience. I've had a lot of fun reading and reviewing ARC copies as well as other review copies. It also opens up a lot of opportunities as a blogger because authors (particularly the lesser known ones) will do interviews, giveaways, and many other things through your blog that helps you make more connections and is just really fun. 

Now for the cons of ARCs. Getting a book early then means you have to wait even longer for the sequel (if it's a series), which is not all that appealing. It can severely restrict what you read and when you read it. Often publishers and authors want your review to be released on release day (or very close to that date) which makes sense from a marketing perspective, but can be tough and stressful for readers when other reading or just life in general gets in the way. My main issue with ARCs though, tends to be with formatting. While I enjoy the books themselves, ARCs are not always formatted correct;y and can make reading a tad bit annoying. 

Honestly, I love getting ARCs. I try to limit myself on the number of books I take on for review so that I don't stress myself out, but sometimes I can't help it. And I've read some excellent books that I might not have known about otherwise. 

What do you think about ARCs? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mistborn: The Final Empire Discussion #1

My friend Saloni-from My Fantabulous Bookshelf-and I are buddy reading the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson right now and as part of that we're doing discussion posts after each section in the novel. And we've gotten to the first one! So here are some questions we came up with and each of our answers. Warning: There may be very slight spoilers ahead.

1. Did you have any expectations going into the novel?
Courtney: This is my second reading of the novel, so I already knew what I was getting, but I still had high expectations. I was hoping to be just as, if not more so, impressed than I was the first time around. I guess I was expecting a lot of action and world building, which I’m getting.

Saloni: Brandon Sanderson has been floating around on BookTube for quite some time now. Thus hype leads to high expectations. Known as the “King of Fantasy” Brandon Sanderson has been set to some high expectations, which I can already tell he’s going to exceed.

2. Who is your favorite character (at this point)?
Courtney: Picking a favorite Sanderson character is one of the hardest things anybody could ever ask me to do. Kelsier is intriguing, Marsh fascinates me, and Vin is both annoying and relatable. The rest of the crew is brilliant as well, so I guess that doesn’t completely answer the question. If I absolutely had to pick, then I guess Kelsier is my favorite at this point.

Saloni: I can already tell these characters are going to be complex and fascinating. I have to admit, right now, Vin is my favorite character. Her refusal to trust anyone combined with her strength and stubbornness make for a very interesting character. But all of these characters have a sense of realism to them, which isn’t very common these days.

3. What relationship are you most interested in seeing explored? Do you think it will be?
Courtney: There are so many good friendships and things being introduced or hinted at that picking one is hard, just like picking a favorite character. The one that intrigues me most though is the relationship between Marsh and Kelsier. I would like more information about them growing up and what life was like for the pair of them. Since I’ve read this before, answering the second question seems like cheating, but I honestly don’t remember how much exploration this gets, so I’m going to say that I think it will be explored and explained further, I’m just not sure it will go as far as I might enjoy.

Saloni: As of now, the only relationship that really stood out to me was between Vin and Kelsier. I think that’s my problem with high-fantasy is that I end up forgetting all the minor characters like Marsh and Breeze, so I focus a lot more on the main heroes. Not only that but I’m excited to see how Kelsier begins to break the wall Vin has up around her. Vin continually questions Kelsier’s motives, fairly I would say, and Kelsier continually assures her that he isn’t manipulating her or using her. I think if this type of interaction continues for a while, it might get a little boring, but I want to see Vin gradually begin to trust him and others.

4. What do you think of the writing style so far?
Courtney: Sanderson’s writing is brilliant in my opinion. The characters are beautifully depicted, the mist itself seems to live, and the action scenes. Wow. I know there haven’t been many yet, but what we have had was just beautiful. Everything just flows, naturally, like you’re watching it and not reading it. It’s overall just very readable.

Saloni: I completely agree with Courtney. While I don’t LOVE the action scenes, they’re just a bit too long for my taste, I absolutely love the intricacy behind each character and the way the plot is developing. It’s complicated, but not too complicated, a perfect balance.

5. What are you looking forward to most throughout this book?
Courtney: Finding out more about Allomancy. I find the magic system completely fascinating. Exploring the use of the metals and the different abilities they give will be fascinating. I’m excited to see how the magic really progresses as the novel goes forward and what new discoveries are made (again, I really can’t remember enough of the details).

Saloni: I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m really looking forward to the character development, specifically Vin’s character. To me, she has so much potential and I really hope she uses it all throughout the series.
6. What is your favorite aspect of this novel so far?
Courtney: Kelsier’s crew and their working dynamic. It’s fascinating how they’re all thieves, but good and honest (in most ways at least). They all play off of each other so well and I get excited to see their interactions. A large, interesting cast of characters is always a good thing.

Saloni: My favorite aspect of this novel so far is definitely the characters. All of the characters, or at least the ones I’ve paid attention to, have had so much depth and complexity to them. While I expected an incredible story and my expectations were set high, the characters completely blew me away.

Have you read the Mistborn books? If so, please share your thoughts on these questions with me in the comments below. And if not, then what are you waiting for?! Go ahead and pick up the book and read along with us!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Walking Among Graves~Cemetery Adventures and Stories

Hello, friends! Today I just wanted to chat about a recent trip I took and some of the story ideas I'm developing at the moment.

I recently took a trip to Wilmington, North Carolina and visited the USS North Carolina Battleship as well as Oakdale Cemetery (a historic cemetery that was opened in the 1850s). If you've ever met me then you know I love cemeteries. I think they are some of the most peaceful places to visit. Over the past several months I've had some story ideas rolling around in my head and now I want to share one of those with you.

While traveling I love to visit cemeteries and historic sites when I can find them. There are a few historic cemeteries near my house that I love to walk around and explore. There is so much fascinating information on gravestones (if you can still read them) and I've been playing with the idea of writing a novel or series of short stories set in cemeteries.

Let me fist show you some images from some of my travels through cemeteries. The pictures below are from Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington, North Carolina and Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina.

 I love that fenced in lot above. I believe this was a family plot. And the one on the right is the grave of a young child. The cradle stone is really interesting.
 The angel above is one of my favorites from Oakdale (although I didn't see nearly everything). It's part of a larger set of statues shown at the bottom.

The picture on the right is large and fascinating. You really have to see it in person to get the full effect.

So now that I've shared with you some of the pictures of graves that have inspired me, let me share a little bit about the stories that I am currently brainstorming.

The story (or stories) will center around a character who loves spending time in cemeteries. I have yet to decide if there will be any paranormal elements. I'm considering some type of mystery that includes ghosts communicating with the main character and leading him/her and his/her companion(s) on a road trip to visit several cemeteries that connect the overall mystery. Either way, one or more cemeteries will play a large role.

Without the paranormal I'm thinking of a road trip for an art or history assignment that takes the characters to multiple grave sites in order to study a certain historical period (the Civil War or something).

As you can see the ideas are not yet solidified and I am still playing with them. I'm currently researching for this and other stories as well as working on a novel. I'm hoping to have a rough outline in the next month or two so I can begin writing the story.

This post may be a bit all over the place (I've been staying up far too late at night and am kind of out of it), but if you have any thoughts on any of my ideas please share them with me in the comments. I would love to hear any feedback you might have. 


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

To Honor You Call Us~H Paul Honsinger | Review

Title: To Honor You Call Us (Man of War #1)
Author: H Paul Honsinger
Genre: Science Fiction/Space Military
Length: 454 Pages
Release: November 2012
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

While it took me quite a while to finish this novel it was by no means due to a lack of interest. I was hooked from the first page. The prologue was brilliant. 

This novel is set in the year 2315 where Earth, along with its allies, is fighting a war against the Krag-an alien race set on the destruction of humankind. The main events of the story take place aboard the USS Cumberland, a destroyer in the Union Space Navy. The Cumberland is up against tough odds, particularly considering the majority of its crew has little battle experience and are used to abuse from the commanding officers. 

One of the best things about this novel is the characters and the relationships that we see beginning to develop. Max, the young and impulsive captain, has a tormented past that leaves him haunted but he's very good at hiding his demons. Abrahim Sahin, the chief medical officer, is articulate, brilliant, clueless, and observant all in good measure. The combination is quite endearing. The friendship that begins to develop between these two characters was beautifully depicted and I hope that it continues to be explored and developed throughout the rest of the series. 

Some of the other characters that I particularly enjoyed were Brown, the chief engineer, who was hilarious. I was always laughing during his portions of the novel. He always had something funny to say that lightened the novel perfectly. Garcia, Max's second in command, was also a favorite. There were others I really enjoyed. The entire crew of the Cumberland really made this novel for me, even those I didn't particularly enjoy. 

The naval information was fascinating. At times there was too much information dumped on the reader that could have been more broken up and spread out, but it was all relevant and informative. Even when the explanations became lengthy it was still nice to have the information presented, rather than the author assuming that you understand all of the naval jargon and such. The glossary of terms at the end was also a nice addition. I used it to refresh myself on some of the terms and sayings. It was very informative. 

The main downfall of this novel for me was the action scenes. These scenes could be cleaned up and polished a bit to improve the overall flow. At times it almost became too descriptive and was more telling rather than showing what was happening. This caused me to lose the story in the details a few times.

I'm really glad that I decided to read this novel. I've had little experience with science fiction in the past, but that I have read has impressed me and this novel will join that list. I am very excited to start the second installment and see where Max takes his crew next.   

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday Talks | When are Spoilers not considered Spoilers Anymore?

To find out more about the weekly discussion group that is Tuesday Talks visit the goodreads group. It was created by Janie and Janelle and we discuss bookish topics every Tuesday.

Statute of Limitations on Books: When do Spoilers Become Obsolete?
This topic seems more geared toward either classic novels that have been around so long and are constantly being discussed or those really popular books that everyone reads and starts discussing. So let's discuss some of these things.

I think it's safe to say that there is always going to be someone who hasn't read the widely read books. Personally I've read a lot of English classic novels, but very few American classics. Some people are the other way around. Others may have read more novels from other countries and continents entirely (in a variety of languages). Most people I've talked with don't tend to mind spoilers where classics are concerned though. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they are so widely discussed and there are so many theories surrounding theme, style, and just overall meaning that people don't mind hearing one interpretation since they can ask someone else and hear something completely different. Or read it and get something completely different. 

Even with newer works that are extremely popular there are going to be many people who haven't read them. Harry Potter is a good example. Through my booktube channel, blogging, and goodreads groups I've met many people who haven't read this series. Surprisingly, it seems that most of them haven't been spoiled for them yet. 

As far as spoilers go, I think that it's important not to just discuss key events in novels with large groups of people (whether that be through goodreads, blogging, booktube, or just with friends) unless you know that everyone has read the novel. Small things don't really matter, but I try to avoid any key events or character introductions and things that might completely change how someone would read the story through for a first time. 

Personally I don't mind being spoiled for books. I've gone into many books already knowing what's going to happen, how it's going to happen, the key events that lead to that conclusion, and many other details. To me it's more about if I enjoy the writing and the story. If I do then I won't mind that someone has spoiled some of it for me. 

So my overall thoughts are that you should avoid discussing or sharing any overly specific information regarding books that you've read. There really isn't a reason to go spouting such things anyway, so just avoid it. 

What do you think? Is there a certain point that it's ok to discuss the details of a novel without concern for spoiling others?

Gone To Die~Stacy Green | Review

Title: Gone to Die (Lucy Kendall #3)
Author: Stacy Green
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Length: 258 Pages
Release: June 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

In this third installment in the Lucy Kendall series Lucy is forced to face her demons head on and confront the darkness that has been growing inside of her. It's a dark, thought provoking thrill ride that keeps you turning pages. Stacy Green certainly knows how to keep you reading. 

In this installment Lucy is reeling from the events that occurred in the previous novel See Them Run. She's been putting off everything in her life, trying to figure out what the darkness in her soul really means and if she is truly different from those she's committed to getting rid of. One thing that I love about this series is Lucy's constant self analysis. She may not always be able to read herself as well as she can others, but even when she's in darkness she's trying to figure out her own head. 

Chris, Lucy's friend and ally, goes missing early on in the novel. His mother, a serial killer, has taken him and no one truly knows how damaged he is until now. Lucy's world is thrown into more turmoil as she faces questions about her friend that she had never considered. He's not the person she thought he was and she doesn't know how to deal with the secrets that are being revealed. This was another brilliantly done aspect of this installment. Lucy has few allies or friends and to see her tested by these new revelations surrounding Chris brought a new depth to the story. 

Gone to Die is somewhat slower paced than the previous two novels and in some cases darker. Lucy is dealing with more depression than she ever has been before as she's forced to come to terms with her actions in the previous novel. I don't think this hindered the novel much though; it's still face paced and exciting, just with slightly less action. 

The characters, as usual, are brilliant. Lucy and her dark demons. Todd, a local detective and somewhat friend who has suspicions about Lucy's activities and encourages her to start over, is featured more prominently in this novel than he has been before. Todd is one of my favorite characters. He's strong, capable, broken, and yet good. Another character that I was happy to see more of was Kelly, Lucy's computer genius. She's had her share of pain and knows what suffering is. The friendship between Kelly and Lucy is one of the most beautiful things in this series. 

This is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys thrillers. If you haven't read the first two installments yet, I highly suggest that you go and grab them now. I am eagerly awaiting the fourth and final installment in this series.

Get Gone To Die~By Stacy Green Today!

AVAILABLE TODAY: The third book in Stacy Green's darkly thrilling, intensely psychological series about child-advocate-turned-killer-vigilante Lucy Kendall. Fans of Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), Lisa Gardner (Detective D. D. Warren and FBI Profiler series), and Karin Slaughter (Blindsighted) will find themselves ruthlessly sucked into the tortured mind of serial avenger Lucy Kendall as she goes after those who hurt the most defenseless members of society.


Lucy Kendall can no longer run from her own dark truth. Locked inside the torment of her mind, she’s struggling to find a reason to stay alive.

Until Chris Hale vanishes after a confrontation with his mother–serial killer Mary Weston.

With only a puddle of blood in the snow and a few cryptic email messages left as a trail, Lucy must play nice with an FBI agent who claims to know about her bad deeds.

When a secret from Chris’s past shatters everything Lucy thought she knew about her closest ally, she’s forced to consider a terrifying question: How easily will Chris bend to his mother’s evil will?

Get Gone To Die Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play
Add Gone To Die to your Goodreads list!

Need to start the series from the start? You're in luck: FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, get All Good Deeds, the haunting first book in the Lucy Kendall series, for only 99 cents! Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

SIGN UP for Stacy's Reader Newsletter to know when her next book is available and to be entered into newsletter-exclusive giveaways and contests.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Charade~Kristy Douglas | Review

Title: Charade (Sabby Carlyle #1)
Author: Kristy Douglas
Genre: Contemporary/Mystery
Length: 364 Pages
Release: March 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Sabine "Sabby" Carlyle's life is turned upside down when her grandmother, the woman who raised her, is murdered. Sabby refuses to accept that the man might get away and begins investigating the murder on her own. 

This story was fast paced and fun. Sabby is into fashion and dreams of becoming an actress. The novel is mostly a third person narrative that follows Sabby, but there are occasional jumps to other characters in the story. I think the story really benefited from this style. It kept it moving and fresh. Sabby could be annoying at times and I found her obsession with her clothes and accessories-even in the face of extreme danger-to be a bit unrealistic. But maybe that's just me. 

All of the other characters in the story were interesting and added in a nice perspective. Nathan, the FBI agent assigned to the case, was strong, supportive, and loyal. Nightengale, a new guy on the Upper East Side with great fashion sense and good looks, is fun and exciting. Lolly, Sabby's best friend and roommate, is energetic and supportive. Carter, the concierge to the building where Sabby grew up, is full of surprises. 

The mystery itself was somewhat predictable, but kept me interested nonetheless. The romantic element was a but much at times with Sabby unsure of her feelings regarding two different men, but it was never the main focus so it never bothered me too much. I would have preferred more development of Sabby's skills in research or investigation (since that's what she was trying to do), but at the same time I it was nice that she wasn't just some brilliant detective from the start.

Overall I found this fast, fun, and intriguing. I will definitely be picking up the next installment in this series. I'm interested to see where Sabby goes next and how many of the characters roll over into her next adventure.       

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Book Buying Bans

Another Tuesday has rolled around and you know what that means! Time for another Tuesday Talks. You can find out more about the group that was created by Janie and Janelle by visiting the goodreads group here. Join us in our bookish discussions, they're always a lot of fun.

Book Buying Bans
There are many different ways to interpret this discussion topic, for my purposes I'm looking at this from a personal standpoint. So here are some of my thoughts on setting yourself a book buying ban. 

I've never actually set a book buying ban for myself, so I don't have a lot of experience with this personally. I can't stand spending money, so I don't tend to make a ton of purchases in general. I definitely buy more books than anything else though. 

I can understand why people might set themselves a book buying ban, particularly if they have loads of books they own and haven't read, but at the same time it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Self control is definitely something that should be practiced, and maybe bans are the only way some people can control themselves, but  I think this places too many restrictions on things you can and cannot read. 

Banning myself from buying books (whether physical or electronic) would drastically cut down on the number of books that are available to me. I use the libraries near me a lot, but there are some authors that I love to read that they don't have. Particularly when it's a newer or lesser known author. So banning myself from buying books would prevent me from reading books that I'm really interested in. 

Do I think book buying bans are wrong? Of course not. It works for some people. For me personally I think it's more about teaching myself not to just buy a book because it's cheap, but to buy books that I'm actually interested in reading. 

So what do you think of book buying bans? Do you set bans for yourself?

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Ugly Stepsister~Aya Ling | Review

Title: The Ugly Stepsister
Author: Aya Ling
Genre: Fantasy; Fairy Tale Retellings
Length: 452 Pages
Release: June 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Kat accidentally destroys a Cinderella picture book and is transported into the story. In order to get home, she has to complete the story. All the way to the Happily Ever After. But Kat isn't Cinderella. She's an ugly stepsister.

Kat is transported into the story very early on in this novel, which was nice. There was just enough story about her to understand her character before she was thrown into a completely new world and forced to face insane obstacles. And one of the things I enjoyed most about this story was that it deviated from the usual tellings. Cinderella didn't match what you might expect, the fairy god mother is missing, the prince doesn't like attention or balls. And their are goblin kings who hand out curses to girls who tear up picture books. It was quite refreshing. 

The society that Kat is thrown into is very reminiscent of those in Jane Austen novels with some elements of Dickens and Gaskell thrown in. There are even some names borrowed directly from Austen. The mothers are trying to marry of their daughters to the richest men (similar to Mrs Bennet at times), but there's also some social issues with child labor and cotton mills that reminded me of Dickens and Gaskell (North and South in particular).

And Kat loves literature and pop culture, so there are tons of references to novels and movies woven throughout the story (I think I recognized them all). It kept the story connected to the modern world, which I think would appeal to a lot of readers. 

There was obviously some romance. The prince was sweet, gorgeous, and all around a good guy. The scenes with him and Kat were cute and often funny. Elle (Cinderella) was sweet, but quiet, which worked because Kat was the heroine in this story. And while this was a fairy tale retelling the romance never went overboard and the ending was very satisfactory. 

My only issue with this novel was really some of the pacing, particularly near the beginning. There was too much description. This lessened throughout the novel, but it kind of slowed down the story for a while. Kat was also a little too fixated on looks for me, but again, this was something that she kind of came to terms with in a way. Overall I was very impressed and look forward to reading more from this author in the future.    

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Merciless Memories~Eden Rowan | Review

Title: Merciless Memories (Brokenness Aside #1)
Author: Eden Rowan
Genre: New Adult; Paranormal; Psychological Suspense/Thriller
Length: 61 Pages
Release: June 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I am always wary of New Adult books. Most of the ones I've tried tend to be less about a story and more about some addictive love. I have experience with this writer, however, and this story sounded quite fascinating. And it was.

The subject matter is definitely rather dark, but it's not dealt with in an overly dark way. The main character, Mercy, was date raped several months previous to the beginning of the story and the after effects have been difficult to deal with. 

The characters in this story were well written and believable. I felt like they could easily be real people. Mercy and her struggles with what happened to her and learning to trust again (particularly men) is completely genuine. I've never had an experience anything like this, but the feelings seem completely rational. There were some things that frustrated me about how she handled the situation, but I'm sure many people would react in just the same manner she did. 

There is a touch of romance (no, it doesn't go overboard) between Mercy and a new guy Camden who has some special abilities. There scenes are sweet without being too cheesy or undermining the rest of the story. Camden also starts teaching Mercy how to fight for self defense, which was a nice touch. She's trying to get stronger which is always a good thing. 

The ending was definitely open since this is the first of a six part series, but it was satisfactory as well. I didn't find myself annoyed that it ended where it did (which sometimes happens when I read cliffhangers). I am definitely looking forward to the next installment. Highly recommend this one. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Underdog or Hero?

Today is Tuesday and you know what that means, it's time for Tuesday Talks! You can find more information about the group on goodreads here.

Underdog or Hero?
It seems that all of the topics recently have been ones that I'm not sure what to talk about. That's how I feel again this week. I feel like it really depends on the story. Sometimes I'm rooting for one and sometimes the other. Sometimes they are the same character. 

In general I think it's easier to connect with a character that's an "underdog" because they generally have more of the emotions and thoughts that I can associate with myself. A "hero" might have already overcome some of the obstacles that it's nice to see the underdog facing. 

A lot of the time who I root for is based on how the writing is executed. A well written story is going to be enjoyable no matter which characters I connect with most. And a lot of how an underdog or a hero is perceived is based upon how the author has written that character. A good writer can make me feel many different things toward any number of characters. 

So who do you root for? Do you prefer a story that's focused more on an underdog story or one that has a defined hero?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dark Legion~Paul Kleynhans | Review

Title: Dark Legion (Blood of Blood #1)
Author: Paul Kleynhans
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 478 Pages
Release: July 2014
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I received a free ecopy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by saying that three stars is NOT a bad rating. I really enjoyed this book. 

Saul, our main character and first person narrator, is a Prince/surgeon who was made a slave over a decade ago when his kingdom was conquered and his parents killed. In that time Saul has been turned into a torturer/assassin for Emperor Solas (the man who killed his family). But he's been plotting and planning his revenge the entire time. Now he's free and on a mission to restore his kingdom. 

There were several things I really liked about this novel and the characters were one of them. Saul, Marcus, and Neysa are the main characters, but there are other memorable ones as well. These three are complex, conflicted, and overall interesting. They also make a great team because they each bring something different to the group. 

The magic in this novel was quite fascinating as well. There are several different ways that magic is used within this novel. They are related, but distinct. True Names play a role (which I love because I've always found the concept of true names fascinating), and can be used to control people and elements when spoken correctly by the correct people. There is also more a general use of magic that relates more to witchcraft. It all blends together very well and I found the magic, while not drastically different than that presented in many other fantasy novels, had its own variations that gave it its own feel. 

The main reason this novel is only getting a three star rating from me is the flow of the writing. While I think the novel is well written, there was too much detail in many parts. Particularly toward the beginning of the novel it felt like every mundane detail of Saul's life was getting attention when some of that could have easily been condensed. There was also some rushing and abrupt transitions that threw me off at times. Again, most of this was toward the beginning of the novel. The last half of the novel didn't have many of these problems. 

There was some slight romance in the novel, but it wasn't overly done which was nice. Saul was a good narrator because he was so conflicted over the things he had done and was doing and had to come to terms with his actions. There is still plenty of development for him, but his progression was very well done. 

Overall I thought this was a really fun and interesting story. I am already looking forward to book two which will come out later this year. There are definitely some questions I would like to have answered in that installment of the story. A nice beginning to this new fantasy series.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Chasing the Crown~Can American Pharaoh Win?

Today I decided to write a post about something a little bit different than usual. I'm a huge horse person. I own and ride horses and just love them. When I was a teenager I was obsessed with Thoroughbred horse racing. I still have a lot of knowledge about the sport and since the Belmont Stakes is being run tomorrow, I thought I might as well write a quick post about The Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown is comprised of three races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. Training for these races is brutal and only the best of the best three year old Thoroughbreds have a shot. The races are run within five weeks of each other starting with the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of every May and ending with the Belmont Stakes at the beginning of June. If one horse wins all three races, they've won the coveted Triple Crown of American racing.

Ever since the beginning of the Triple Crown nearly one hundred years ago, there have only been eleven Triple Crown winners. And the last of those was Affirmed in 1978. The drought has been long. Many horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness only to go on to a defeat in the Belmont. This year, there's a chance at another Triple Crown Winner.

American Pharaoh won the first two legs of the Triple Crown and tomorrow will race for the third. He's fast and on a roll. But will that be enough? Watch the race tomorrow to find out. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Every Last Word~Tamara Ireland Stone | Review

Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 368 Pages
Release: June 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel deals with some pretty hard subject matter. Sam, the main character, deals with OCD. In her case, the obsessive aspect tends to be more of a concern and she's constantly having to fight away negative thoughts and panic attacks. None of this is helped by her "best" friends-a group of girls who have known each other since kindergarten and despite their growing differences refuse to go separate ways. 

Sam meets and befriends Caroline-a girl who would never be accepted by her social group-and gets swept into a secret group of poets. We see her dealing with her OCD issues through writing and sharing those thoughts with those around her, something that she has always found extremely difficult. But the teens of Poets Corner know what it's like to be judged, bullied, and shunned, so speaking your mind and accepting yourself is a must. 

The novel also touches on bullying and while this is not a major focus of the story it's very important to much of the plot and characterization. There is also some exploration as to how the brain might compensate for the traits you feel you lack. The author handled these difficult topics beautifully and I was very satisfied with the conclusion as far as Sam's OCD and the various other issues introduced were handled. Nothing was glossed over or pushed aside. It was all handled very realistically. 

I really enjoyed the characters, but it took me a while to really connect with Sam. In the beginning I wasn't really sure what she wanted or if she really thought change was necessary or good for her. As the story progressed I was able to connect with her more and came to appreciate her and her struggles. I also really loved her developing relationships with the other members of Poets Corner. AJ was particularly nice and I thought they worked really well together. 

The use of poetry and the written/spoken word was brilliant. I'm a huge fan of poetry and hearing about these people just jotting down their thoughts in the form of a poem on random bits of paper was wonderful. It reminded me of all of the receipts and chocolate wrappers where I've written out my own poems. Definitely something I can relate to. 

My main issue with this novel was the pacing. Through the middle it really felt like nothing was happening. There were important aspects of the story contained here, but it was presented without enough emotion or urgency for me to truly get invested. Toward the end though things picked up a lot and I had a hard time putting the book down.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Favorite Characteristics of a Heroine/Protagonist

Well, today is Tuesday, so it's time for another Tuesday Talks! Tuesday Talks is a goodreads group created by Janie and Janelle and it's loads of fun, so you should check it out.

My Favorite Characteristics of a Heroine/Protagonist
I really like this topic. It's one I've been thinking a lot about recently. There are many things that I find important in a female character, particularly the heroine or protagonist. I'm going to share a few of those with you. 
  • They shouldn't always rely on others to fix their problems. I want a strong leading woman, not someone who constantly needs to be rescued. However, she should be able to appreciate other people and the help they give/offer. So I guess strong and humble. 
  • Being single is ok. Maybe it's because I read so much YA but it seems like so many women in fiction are obsessed that they can't be alone. I really don't like that. Yes finding love is important, but you should be able to be your own person without having The One in your life. No one else can complete you. They can make you stronger, but only if you were already strong on your own. 
  • While being strong is important I think it's also important to show emotion. So many times I get frustrated with women in books who refuse to tell people they love them or cry in public (which yes, is also hard for me) or any number of things. But it seems like so many writers are trying to force me to believe that those are bad things and they aren't. Showing emotion does not make you weak. How you act on those emotions does. 
I'm sure there are many others that I'm not able to think about right now, but these are some things I've noticed recently that just really bug me.

So what characteristics do you want to see in the heroine? Let's discuss in the comments!