Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Favorite Reading Spots

You can find out more information about the group Tuseday Talks on goodreads. It was created by Janie and Janelle and we have a new topic every week.

Favorite Reading Spots
Personally, I read anywhere and everywhere. I always have a book (or a few books) with me, no matter where I go. You never know when you might have some time to read. 

If I'm at home reading, you're most likely to find me on my couch or sitting on the floor. I don't enjoy reading in bed, so I don't tend to do that much. The couch, however, is a nice place to sit and read. Or lay and read. Either is fine. 

Reading outside is also fun. I love being with my horses at the barn, so reading around them is always great. Sometimes I'll just sit at the barn with the cats in my lap or at my feet, horses right there in the pasture, and enjoy a book. 

Where do you like to read? Any favorite spots? Why are they your favorites?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Occupy Wrestling Discussion

Over at Read Together, Blog Together, the goodreads group that Saloni and I started, we recently had the opportunity to read and discuss the novel Occupy Wrestling by Garrison Kelly. Here are some of my thoughts on that book. If you've read it, let me know what your answers are in the comments. 

Over a decade of hard work, sacrifices, and injuries have earned professional wrestler Mitch McLeod a chance at the KDW World Heavyweight Championship, at the time held by a 400 lb. monster named Jason Finnegan. Before their match begins, Jason assaults Mitch in the hallway, hoping for an easy victory later on in the ring. Despite the brutal beating, Mitch wins the match via pin fall after his finishing move, a variation of the superman punch, accidentally kills Jason. Legal issues aside, Mitch finds himself embroiled in a plot to have his newly won KDW World Title taken from him by science-fiction-like creatures hired by Keegan Day, the owner of KDW. A world title is a symbol of excellence for not only the wrestler holding it, but for the wrestling industry as a whole. Mitch will be damned if his oppressive corporate master is going to take it from him that easily.
What did you like most about this novel? 
I really enjoyed the writing. It was well constructed and had a nice flow that made it readable, even if the story and characters weren't my favorite.
What did you think of the combination of wrestling and the supernatural? 
I definitely thought this was a unique concept. I've never read a supernatural novel set in the world of wrestling (or any novel set around wrestling, for that matter) so it was an intriguing concept.  
After reading, was this similar to what you expected or very different? 
I don't know that it was very different, but I suppose it was some different than what I was expecting. I guess I was expecting it to be supernatural beings involved in wrestling and not so much demons being brought in to take over the sport.   

Was the conclusion satisfactory? Why or why not?
This is a tough question. While I think that in some ways it was satisfactory, it was kind of lacking for me. I was never able to fully connect with the characters, which made it difficult to appreciate what happened to them by the end of the story. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Believarexic~JJ Johnson | Review

Title: Believarexic
Author: JJ Johnson
Genre: YA Contemporary/Fictional-Bio
Length: 464 Pages
Release: September 2015
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

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

I expected this to be a very emotional novel and I was right. It follows Jennifer as she deals with Bulimarexia (a combination of bulimia and anorexia) in the 1980s. The story is a novelization of the authors own experiences with an eating disorder, so it makes it even more real. Just be ware that it does deal with very real issues surrounding eating disorders.

One thing that was really interesting about this novel was what Jennifer thought in comparison to reality. She seeks help and is admitted to a hospital for her eating disorder expecting it to be similar to what she's seen on movies. Her expectations are quickly thrown aside as reality sets in and she realizes that things are not always as bright as presented in the movies. It was refreshing to see the harsher side of treatment instead of a sugar coated version. 

Jennifer's experiences through the different stages of treatment were very real and very emotional. She makes friends in the hospital who help her along, attends therapy sessions where she traces her eating disorder back to its roots, has family therapy where she realizes that her view of her family has been severely skewed. Her time in the hospital is made even more difficult by a nurse who seems to hate her, but brightened by one who loves her. 

There's no focus on weight, other than becoming a healthy size. It never mentions how much Jennifer weighs at any point in her process of recovery, taking the focus away from the numbers and putting it on the feelings and healthy aspect. Toward the beginning Jennifer almost seems like she's walking through a dream and as the novel progresses she begins to wake up. It's a wonderful transformation. 

There were some things that I didn't particularly enjoy about this. The first section was told in third person while the rest was in first, which I found rather confusing at first. And while I felt that the raised issues were all very important, it was a bit overwhelming at times, with too much being opened without enough time to explore it. Obviously not everything needs explaining or exploration and some things need to be left open. It just felt like to many hard hitting topics were touched and then left alone, leaving me feeling not quite satisfied. 

Overall I found this to be very interesting and definitely eye opening. While I've never been hospitalized for any reason, this seems to present a more realistic version than many popular movies, books, and TV shows.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Alloy of Law~Brandon Sanderson | Review

Title: The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4 or Wax &Wayne #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 392 Pages
Release: January 2011
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

With the release of Shadows of Self coming up in October I decided to reread The Alloy of Law (I've been buddy reading the original trilogy and doing discussion posts as well). I wanted to make sure I was up to date on everything going into book two and I'm very glad I did read it over. 

It's been almost two years since my original reading and I had forgotten so much. I remember loving it the first time around, but I don't remember appreciating it nearly as much. 

Sanderson has taken the world introduced in the original Mistborn trilogy and moved it forward in time 300 years. You get to see the way that society has evolved, how the original characters shaped the current world (there are tons of connections), and how the magic has morphed over time. You also get to see how the magic is influenced or changed by technological advances as there are guns, trains, and electricity now. It's like a gun slinging western set in a fantasy world with a fascinating magic system. Very cool.

So let me hit some highlights. The magic system is amazing. Allomancy and Feruchemy have merged now that there is inter marriage between the Terris people and the nobility. Mistborns are part of myth now and only mistings remain (as well as Twinborn, individuals with both an Allomantic ability and a Feruchemy ability). You might imagine that the fighting and action can't be as exciting without Mistborns using all the Allomantic powers, but you would be wrong. Seriously, I don't want to get too deep and give away all of the best parts of the book, but the fighting scenes are sometimes even better than in the original books. 

Now onto the characters. Waxillium Ladrian (a descendent of Breeze) is a forty something lawman who fled the city many years ago. Now his past has called him back. Wax is a seriously awesome character. He's almost a mix of every single main character from the original books, it's amazing. We don't know much about what life was like for him growing up, but we do get glimpses into what he was doing in the roughs. 

Wax's trusty sidekick Wayne is possibly my favorite character (though it's difficult to choose). He's funny, loyal, and often wise (even though he doesn't always intend to be). He and Wax are like brothers and work extremely well together. Relationships are something that make Sanderson's books really stand out. And this is definitely a great relationship. 

Marasi is a noble lady studying law at the university. She's very different than Vin (the only real female lead in the original trilogy), but strong in her own right. She's smart, kind, and brave. We don't get in her head too much, but I hope to see more of her in book two. 

The rest of the characters are fascinating on their own. The villains are complex, as usual. The plot is not as complex or involved as many of Sanderson's other novels, but that doesn't diminish the quality of the story. It's a lighter read than the original three, but has a great set up for the rest of the series. Another brilliant book in the world of the Cosmere. 

Divine Intervention Discussion

Over in our goodreads group Read Together, Blog Together, we had the opportunity to read, discuss and review Divine Intervention by Edward Davies. Feel free to check out our group and join if you're interested in buddy reading having blog discussions.  The cover and synopsis are provided.

Jimmy Stewart Moon - his parents had been big fans of 'It's A Wonderful Life' - was bored, but not for much longer...
When he accidentally falls out of his bedroom window whilst peeping at his next door neighbour, he meets Frank – a man who claims to be God! Not only that, but Frank claims that His only reason for being on Earth is to help Jimmy get together with the girl of his dreams.
Unfortunately where there’s God, it always follows that there’ll be a Devil!

What did you think about the characters and characterization?
I would have liked some more development in the characters. Jimmy was the most developed, and he was likable enough, but I still didn't really feel connected to him.

Was the devil/angel plot crafted how you expected? If not, what was different?
This was slightly different than I was expecting. For some reason I thought they would both appear at the same time and it would be more of a fight to see who Jimmy wanted to listen to. I guess I thought it would be one of the devil's minions and not the actual devil as well.

Were you rooting for Jimmy to get the girl? Why or why not?
This goes back to characterization for me. There wasn't a lot of information about the girl to begin with. All we know is that she's attractive and Jimmy likes to spy on her. I can't really say I was rooting for him. I would have preferred if he just went and talked to her. I know that wasn't the point in the story, but since the love interest aspect was there I would have enjoyed a bit more with that.

Was the conclusion satisfactory?
I was satisfied with the ending, but it didn't blow me away. Some of the relationships with characters were too rushed for my liking. Everything worked out for the best, which was good, but I would have enjoyed just a bit more detail about their lives.

Friday, September 25, 2015

So...I Met a Vampire Discussion #2

In our group on goodreads, Read Together, Blog Together, we had the opportunity to read, discuss, and review So...I Met a Vampire by Paul McAvoy. This is our second discussion post for the novel. Feel free to join our group if you're interested in buddy reading and having blog discussions.

What did you think about Seymour's reaction to Jess having traded with Gee?

Courtney: It wasn't a very positive reaction. My first thought was that it was going to mean something unpleasant.

Victoria: Like Courtney said, I assumed it would mean something bad was about to happen.
Do you have any thoughts on Jess's struggle between her two selves?
Courtney: This comes into play near the end. I actually found it quite interesting and think that it hints at some rather interesting things for Jess in the future.

Victoria: I wish it had been explored more earlier in the book. We only really got to see the struggle at the end, and I was interested in where that was going to go.
How different or similar was the novel to your expectations when you started?
Courtney: I guess it was rather different than I thought it would be. I was expecting the vampires to be a larger part of the novel and for that to be the main exploration and it didn't really seem like they were.

Victoria: Quite different. I thought it was going to focus on vampires more, and I thought we'd explore some of the ideas mentioned in there more, like the secret organisation and the girl at the shop etc.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Books that have Influenced my Interests and Hobbies

It's time for another Tuesday Talks! This is a goodreads group that was created by Janie and Janelle and it's all about discussing bookish topics. 

Books Influencing Interests and Hobbies
I think it's definitely safe to say that my hobbies and interests have been influenced by the books that I read. A couple of years ago I read the novel Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John and afterward I really wanted to learn American Sign Language. Since then I have learned some ASL (although I've been a slacker and not been practicing enough). I was already interested, but reading a novel about a deaf character and the way they perceive things was really interesting. I've read a few other novels with deaf main characters since and I have the same feeling after reading those. 

Reading in general has also shaped what I enjoy doing. The more books I read that I like, the more I want to read instead of doing some other activity (most of which I don't think I would get nearly as much out of). That's not a specific thing, but it's still changed the way that I live. 

I'm sure there are many other things I've picked up from reading that I can't even think of. What about you? How has reading shaped your interests and hobbies? Let me know in the comments! 


So...I Met a Vampire Discussion #1

In our goodreads group Read Together, Blog Together, we read So...I Met a Vampire by Paul McAvoy. Here's the cover and synopsis as well as some thoughts regarding the first half of the novel.

On a foggy morning, thirteen year old Jessica wakes up in a strange forest, not knowing how she got there, but with a feeling she is being watched. Helped to a local police station, memories start to come back, about where she has been the last few days… She remembers a deal she had to make to stay alive… to obtain a small bottle of vampire’s blood. With the use of a magical phone, her journey takes her to the English Lake District, a lonely Scottish village and the bright lights of New York. She meets mysterious men who work for a secret government organisation and a vampire who seems willing to help, but is he and his teenage vampire friends to be trusted? On the run, she must reach a government hide out before her adversaries catch up with her and take her to a realm of darkness and blood…

Chapters 1-6
*What are your thoughts about Jess in the first half?

Courtney: Jess was kind of confusing and frustrating for me. She seemed like a really young kid at first, then when she met Devon she kind of turned into a punk teenager. Maybe it was the stress of what happened that dampened her personality at first, I'm not sure.

Victoria: It was hard to get to know her when she didn't know anything about herself. She also didn't seem to take her problems seriously, she was pretty casual about important stuff like dying.

*What did you think about the Reaper and his three challenges?

Courtney: The concept of the three challenges was interesting and familiar from other stories. The challenges themselves were rather odd. I understood that he was kind of playing with her at first, and it made the story shorter to have only one main challenge, but I think it could have been interesting to have three larger challenges (all connected) that she had to complete in sequence. 

Victoria: I really liked the idea that only one challenge had to be serious, and that you could tell he was obviously making the other two up on the spot. But I wish we could have got to know him better, he was a bit too ditzy and forgetful to really like.

*What did you think of Charles Devon, the vampire expert?

Courtney: Devon's introduction was kind of strange. He didn't seem to question who Jess was. He just picked up a random kid and had her tag along with him. I mean I guess he knew what was going on (to an extent), but I still would have liked more of an introduction as they were running away.

Victoria: Another person who is way too casual. I also didn't like that his story didn't wrap up properly.

If any of you have read this book, let me know your thoughts in the comments! If you haven't and are interested, please check it out. And visit our group if you're interested in book blog discussions!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Hero of Ages Discussion #2

It's time for another discussion post with Saloni from My Fantabulous Bookshelf! Here's our second discussion about The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson. This is the final book in the Mistborn trilogy.  As always, there are minor spoilers for the first section of this book as well as major spoilers for the events of the previous two books.

  1. How do you feel about Vin’s character at this point in the book?
Courtney: Vin can be a frustrating character, but she’s so real. In book one we were able to see her go from an untrusting, fearful street urchin to a powerful Allomancer, developing friendships along the way. In book two she was questioning herself a lot, trying to force herself into a certain role, but still managed to grow. I think she only continues to progress. She’s learned to accept and even started coming to terms with her role in Elend’s government as well as her role as a woman. I’m really enjoying the changes in her thought processes so far in this installment.   

Saloni: She’s definitely progressed throughout the series and I love how she’s finally realizing that she doesn’t have to pick one identity or the other. I love that she’s been able to accept and embrace both parts of herself. I think the the dual genetic nature of her Mistborn identity really comes into play into how well she fits both roles of nobility and skaa. I still hope there’s some type of confrontation between her and her father, if he has survived through all of this. I think it would give us good closure on her childhood.

  1. What are your thoughts on the religious issues Sazed is facing?
Courtney: It’s interesting to see this new side of Sazed. He was always the faithful one, believing in so many different religions because they brought hope to those who stood by their precepts. Now that he believes he’s lost his faith and is struggling to find truth within any of them, he’s easier to relate to in many ways. His faith was somewhat blind up until this point and he’s reached a sort of cross roads. I think that is something we all face, even if it’s not in regards to religion. It’s definitely been interesting so far to see how his story is playing out and his interactions with the crew. 

Saloni: I really think that everything Sazed is going through now is so relatable to what so many of us deal with today. He’s spending so much time trying to decide which religion is “true” but instead continues to find contradictions between different religions. I just find the whole process very interesting and I’m excited to see how Sanderson resolves it.

  1. Who do you think is telling the short narrations at the beginning of each chapter?
Courtney: These little snippets are something that I always enjoy about these books. They are insightful and give major hints as to what’s coming (if you’re looking closely enough). It’s hard to say who, exactly, is writing these, but since it surrounds the Terris people it would make sense for it to be someone closely associated with them.  

Saloni: In all of the previous books we’ve had similar narrations at the beginning of each chapter and, if I remember correctly, from the first and second book the narrator was the Hero of Ages not the Lord Ruler who was Rashek. The narration from this book involves facts from the present and the past which leads me to suspect a Terrisman, possibly Sazed or Tindwyl.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Digital Vein~David Cook | Music Review

Title: Digital Vein
By: David Cook
Genre: Pop/Rock
Format: Deluxe Edition CD
# of Tracks: 15
Release: September 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 Review by Track
#1 Heartbeat:  This is a slow building song with beautiful lyrics and the backing vocals are brilliant. There are also some tolling clocks (like a heartbeat) in portions that I absolutely loved. 

"And when the moment's dead and gone, with every star I'm wishing on, with every right and every wrong, the lonely nights that take us on. For all the stones I've ever thrown, another break against the bone. Close my eyes, I'm not alone." 

#2 Criminals: Criminals has an edgier feel, particularly in the beginning. It has an almost predatory vibe and a great beat that makes it a really nice dance song.
"Let's break out of this prison cell. We'll create stories the world will tell their children. In time we'll be forgiven."
#3 Broken Windows: A nice, catchy, somewhat edgy song about more than just broken glass. It's about not giving up on a crumbling relationship when the earth quakes of life come along. 
"I'm trying to see you through these broken windows."
#4 Laying Me Low: This one was released as a single a while ago. It's a song about falling for the wrong person or at the wrong time and not being able to stop yourself from continuing to fall for them. No matter what they do you just keep following them. But it's not dark like many songs with similar subject matter. It's upbeat and fun.  
"I fall apart when I'm with you. I cry when I kiss you."

#5 Better Than Me: This song is more of a ballad than any of the previous tracks. The singer is putting his soul out there for you to see, telling you to go and be better than he could have ever been. It's kind of like a confession where the singer is saying "here are the mistakes I made and the failures I've had" so he's tell you to take his mistakes and learn from them.
"All the hot lights and the famous streets. It's just the first step in forgetting me. Go be better than me."
#6 Carry You: Starting with the beeps of what sounds like a medical monitor this calls to mind a hospital. It feels like he's singing to a patient (someone that he loves) and will carry through the pain and trial of treatment. He's saying don't give up because I'm not giving up on you, no matter what happens.
"When the sun won't come around and your world keeps washing out, I won't let this love fall down, I'll carry you."

#7 From Here To Zero: The song starts with a catchy line and higher, softer notes. This is quite possibly my favorite of the album. It's just such a sweet, loving song. It's about holding onto the person you love no matter what. And giving yourself entirely to that person. It's about taking care of each other, no matter what happens.
"Till the clocks run out. Till the sun breaks down. I'll be all the love you need. Till the stars turn cold, I'll never let you go from here to zero."
#8 Kiss And Tell: With a more electronic vibe, Kiss and Tell weaves together Cook's beautiful lyrics with a more techno feel. It's about thinking you have it all and finding out that it was all a dream. 
"Now we're facing the flood and it's rising fast. We keep holding our breath till we both collapse." 

#9 Wait For Me: Another older track that was previously released as a single. A solid song about falling short and messing up again and again and asking for forgiveness. Another favorite. 
"Will you wait for me?"  
#10 I'm Gonna Love You: A song about staying in love through time. Through all the pain, trials, and angry fights his love is never going to end. It's beautiful. 
"Every crime that love commits, brings me right back here to this."  
#11 Wicked Game: This song brings to mind a stage performance. It feels like it should be sung while people are dancing, maybe some form of musical or just an interpretive dance. It's really haunting and beautiful. The song was originally written and performed by Chris Isaak. Both are beautifully done and this version adds a new element to the loved song, using more of a piano base than guitar. It's a nice touch. 
"What a wicked game you played, to make me feel this way. What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you." 
#12 Home Movies: The song starts with the sounds from a film reel, playing over all those old movies. It's about all those moments caught on tape and how you feel now looking back. It's about chasing your past, looking back at all you've done. Definitely a song to reminisce over the past. 
"Chasing ghosts in a hotel parking lot. Round and round til the stars go out. Never knowing that the best we'd ever get was in the here and now."

Bonus Tracks For Deluxe Version  
#13 Where Do We Go: Ever feel like you're just chasing yourself in circles? Yep. We all do. This song is about figuring out where to go to break that cycle.
"With every step that we're taking to the brink, we're cutting ties like a puppet from a string. So whether we're lost or found. Where do we go?"
#14 Firing Squad: I love the name of this song. And the song itself is pretty great too. It's all about acting for yourself and what you believe, not just going with the orders you've been following for so long. 
"You covered our eyes in blindfolds. The light always finds it's way back in. So go and raise your rifles and fire."
#15 But You Won't: The cycle of life and love playing through, everything that feels old but new all at once. It's about the heartbreak of being left behind and knowing that they could come back for you but never will. The song plays through years, comparing the feelings from year to year. 
"Now here we are. Face to face again. And you're telling me you still can see us making this thing work. That you still believe we could find our way home. But we won't."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tuesday Talks | My Reading Experiences

You can join in the Tuesday Talks discussions on goodreads through the group created by Janie and Janelle. It's a lot of fun and we have a new topic every week! So come and join in all the fun!

My Reading Experiences and Influences
I come from a family of readers. I have several older sisters and brothers, many of whom are readers, and my parents both loved to read. When I was really little we would read together and I practically grew up in a library. And I loved the library. 

Personally, I didn't really start reading a lot on my own until I was between ten and twelve and even then I didn't read a lot. As far back as I can remember I was a writer, but not much of a reader. Once I found something to enjoy, however, I couldn't get enough. I think I just wasn't ready at a younger age to really enjoy the reading experience. 

It was after seeing the first Harry Potter movie with one of my best friends for her birthday that I really got into books. I was ten then and absolutely loved the movie (I had never heard of the books) and my parents gave me the first two books for Christmas. After that, I started reading more. And when I was a teenager I was reading all the time (although I can barely remember what I read). 

I have gone through several phases where I would read a lot and then very little, but now I'm on a steady schedule. I read a lot (probably more than I should at times) and I love that I've been giving myself the time to do so. While I was in college I couldn't really let myself read because I would neglect my school work too much. Unfortunately, that means if/when I go back I will probably have to cut out a lot of my reading. 

Each time that I've been away from reading for a long time, I've picked up a novel and fallen in love with it. There's just something therapeutic about being able to immerse yourself in a good story. Now, I try to encourage other people to read. I think everyone can enjoy reading, even if it's not in the same way that I do. There are benefits for everyone. 

One of the things I'm most grateful for in my life is the fact that I grew up with a family that enjoyed reading. My life would be a very different one without that constant there. Not necessarily bad, but definitely not as great. 

What are your reading experiences? Have you always loved to read? Who/what influenced you to read? Let me know in the comments! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award | Take 2

I did one of these not long after starting my blog a year ago (hard to believe it's already been a year!) and it was so much fun! This time around I've been nominated by Hannah from TheDonkeyInvasion. Thanks so much, Hannah! 
*Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their page (Check it out above!)
*Place to logo on your blog post
*Answer the questions asked by the blogger who nominated you
*Make up ten new questions 
*Nominate other bloggers to do the post answering the questions you came up with
*Tell the bloggers they've been nominated and link them back to your post (I'll try to remember this part)

Do you read poetry?
Yes! I love poetry. Mostly I read old British poetry (not as much new stuff), but I love it. Some of my favorites are Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle" and anything by William Wordsworth (I particularly like his Lucy poems). 

Favourite ink colour?
Hmm. My favorite color is red, but if we're talking about ink to write with or ink that you would read in a book then generally black on white is my favorite. When I'm writing colors distract me, so I need things to be black and white. And when I read it makes my eyes hurt to have a lot of color.  

If you could blog about something different to what you do blog about, what topic would it be?
I mostly blog about books, but occasionally I do blog about other things. I would like to blog more about my writing, my horses, and history. I particularly love history surrounding the military(the Navy in particular) and cemeteries. I would like to do more with these topics. 
Is there a book that you hate and everyone else seems to love?
There are many, many books that I really just don't like and so many people love. Just to give you a couple: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (I know, sorry. I just couldn't get into this one), and the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi (I read the first one and nope. Not for me.).  

Have you ever read in public? 
All the time! I have a book or my kindle with me wherever I go and when I have down time I read. I even take one to work and when I'm not helping anyone I'll read a few pages.  

Favourite quote?
So many. I'll give you a few. 
“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.” From Legend by Marie Lu
“No one's life should be rooted in fear. We are born for wonder, for joy, for hope, for love, to marvel at the mystery of existence, to be ravished by the beauty of the world, to seek truth and meaning, to acquire wisdom, and by our treatment of others to brighten the corner where we are.” From Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz

“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” From The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” From The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

“He saw it in her eyes. The anguish, the frustration. The terrible nothing that clawed inside and sought to smother her. She knew. It was there, inside. She had been broken. 
Then she smiled. Oh, storms. She smiled anyway
It was the single most beautiful thing he’d seen in his entire life.” From Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

This list could continue forever, so I'm going to stop here.  

Do you have any bad reading habits? 
Not sure what a bad reading habit would be. Occasionally I do read the end of a book before I start. I guess that's not cool. Otherwise I can't think of any.   

Where do you primarily obtain your books from?
I read a lot of books from the library, but I also purchase a lot of books either from bookstores or for my kindle online. I also get a lot of ebooks in exchange for review. I love going to bookstores and library sales and finding good books.  

Do you wish you would read more classics?
I've read several classics, but I would like to read more. I really enjoy Charles Dickens, so I would like to read more of his novels. I tend to prefer British classics to American classics, so I probably won't be seeking out much of that. I really want to reread all of Jane Austen's novels, so hopefully I will be doing that soon. 
Which parts of your lifestyle have changed since you started blogging? 
I don't know that anything has changed a lot. I definitely have to take the time to blog and come up with things to blog about. Also, blogging is what really got me into reviewing, which I suppose has changed my reading habits a lot. I review quite a bit and it's opened my online community of friends quite a bit. I've met so many amazing people that I buddy read with and just talk to about books. Otherwise I don't know if it's changed much. Well, I guess it's improved my confidence somewhat. I used to hate for people to read my writing, now it doesn't bother me so much. 

My Questions
1) Do you have a favorite fictional character? If so, who?
2) What is your favorite genre of books? Why?
3) What book cover is your favorite?
4) What title is your favorite?
5) How long have you been a reader?
6) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
7) Are you a writer as well as a reader?
8) What is your favorite animal? 
9) Who is your favorite singer/musician?
10) Do you have a favorite author?

My Nominations
A J from Read All The Things
Lauren from La Romantique
Emily from Northern Belle Bookworm
Saloni from My Fantabulous Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Born to Run~Ann Hunter | Review

Title: Born to Run (North Oak #1)
Author: Ann Hunter
Genre: YA Equestrian/Horse Racing, Sports
Length: 126 Pages
Release: March 2015
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

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

When I was younger I dreamed about becoming a jockey. Horse racing was my obsession. I can tell you every Triple Crown winner and the year they won, as well as many other racing facts. I never could find many books that centered around horses, so when I do I get really excited. 

This novel is intended for a young adult audience. I feel like a lot of it seems more middle grade with the addition of some stronger language and more extreme situations. The book begins with Alex running away from what she thinks of as a murder. It's definitely an interesting start. 

The novel is told in third person, alternating perspectives between several different characters. For being so short, a lot happens. In some ways I think this is good and in others not so much. I do think that it's a good idea to have the multi perspective, I just think that at times it went too far. Having more of a focus on two or three characters would have made it slightly more easy to really get into and relate with. 

I found it difficult to connect with the characters a lot of the time. I think having fewer perspectives might have helped with this somewhat. It didn't feel like you ever got to know any of the characters particularly well and the adults all seemed to act like children. I didn't really dislike them, I just found it hard to connect with the characters because they all kind of felt the same age. 

The horses were a nice touch, though they weren't in here as much as I would have liked. I loved the weanlings and yearlings that Alex was constantly going to. Promenade sounded adorable. 

This series definitely has potential and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes next. While this wasn't the best beginning, it was very enjoyable and I had a lot of fun reading it. 

The Magic of Math~Arthur Benjamin | Review

Title: The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why
Author: Arthur Benjamin
Genre: Nonfiction Education
Length: 336 Pages
Release: September 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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

When I saw this book on Netgalley, I was immediately interested. I have a degree in mathematics and love learning new things about the subject. Magic and Math? Definitely something I would want to read. 

In this book, the author goes through several branches of mathematics, uncovering "magical" patterns. The book is designed to appeal to not only mathematicians, but everyone. While I think those who already have an understanding of some of the material would get more out of it, it's written with simplified explanations that would are easy to understand. 

The author discusses his love of puzzles and patterns and why he first got interested in math which really connected with me. I started loving math when I realized it was like a puzzle, sometimes in reverse. Sometimes you have to figure out how to take something apart to get what you want. Other times you have to build it from the ground up. And that's why I got a degree in math. 

My favorite sections were probably the very beginning with arithmetic and algebra, and then the calculus portion. These discussed some interesting patterns and theories with interesting examples. These are the branches of mathematics in which I've done the most and so that's probably why I enjoyed them the most. There are so many fascinating mathematically based things occurring in our lives that we don't even notice. Everyone should read these types of books just to see how math is everywhere.

The book uses a lot of pictures and illustrations and tables to explain the examples and theories being discussed. The formatting for these was somewhat off in the review copy I had, but will obviously be fixed in the final version. I really want to get myself a copy of this once it comes out. I think that many people would benefit from exploring these patterns whether they consider themselves mathematically minded or not. It was entertaining, fun, and informative.    

Tuesday Talks | Pseudonyms

Tuesday Talks is a book discussion group created by Janie and Janelle and every single Tuesday we discuss a new bookish topic. If you haven't checked out the goodreads group, you definitely should. It's a great way to connect with fellow book lovers.

A pseudonym is when an author publishes a book under an alternate name. Some authors publish everything under pseudonyms, some use a different one for different genres, sometimes it's a man's name, sometimes a woman. There are so many different reasons an author might use a Pseudonym to publish there books, so this week we're discussing our thoughts on the topic. 

I can understand why an author, particularly a well known one, might want to try publishing under a different name. If you want to branch into a different genre, it might be difficult to break a certain mold you've been following. Readers of the current genre might not like that you're moving away from what they liked and readers of the new one might not take you seriously. Sure there are some readers who will read anything a certain author puts out, but that's not always the case. 

In today's world I think it's hard for a writer to use a pseudonym. With everything so internet based people have an easier time of linking all of the names of one author back to that person. So I think it can be a good thing to use an alternate name to branch into a new genre, but once that's done I think it makes sense to acknowledge your other pseudonyms. 

Personally I don't really mind either way. If an author uses one (or more than one) name to publish, so what. It can make it difficult at times to follow an author that you really like, so I can see a downside, particularly for the reader. 

As a writer, I can see the appeal of writing under a pseudonym. You can choose to be whoever or whatever you want! It's part of the appeal of writing in the first place. 

This post is kind of a ramble, and maybe it doesn't make sense, but I find pseudonyms interesting. What do you think? Do you care one way or the other? 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Monthly Recommendations | Back to School Books

Monthly Recommendations is a goodreads group created by the booktubers Kayla Rayne and Trina(Between Chapters). Each month there is a new topic and you can pick any books that somehow fit that topic. No limit on number of books, so you can recommend as many or as few as you like! For the month of September, the topic is Back to School Books. I think most people are going with books set in/around schools and I'm going to stick with that theme. I was going to do books I enjoyed reading in school, but decided I'll do something else with that idea later. So here goes. 

Back to School Books
I recently reviewed this novel for the author and loved it! Saddie is an orphan with special abilities and lives among the other Caelian's at a special school. The school setting was one of the things that made this book so enjoyable. It just gave the characters this special connectedness that I don't think they would have had otherwise. 
This novel isn't specifically set in a school, but a lot of it takes place at school. The main character, Sam, is OCD and ends up finding her way into this group of misfit poets. I loved that part. So a lot of it was about the poetry group and Sam in school interacting with her new friends and her old friends. 

Another one that's not specifically set in a school. The main character has an abusive father and when a boy at her new school starts writing her notes on sticky notes, she begins to open up and start to trust him. It is one of the sweetest love stories I've read. A lot of this one is focused around school because that's where she's free from her father. 

This is probably one of my favorite reads of this year. Not set in a school, but Charlie is a student at a high school for gifted students in STEM subjects. He's a mathematician (thus the cover) and since I love math, I knew I would love this (hoped I would) and I did. It's sad but beautiful. A lot of it is focused around school as Charlie and his friends Greta and James try to drive away the new English teacher. 

Most of you who have read my blog posts probably know that I love Brandon Sanderson. He's a brilliant author. This is a YA novel set in an alternate US (with kind of a steampunk vibe) where Joel wants to be a Rithmatist (a mathematician who draws chalk figures and shapes to ward of evil Chalklings). It's set in a school where Joel is one of the non Rithmatic students, but is a Rithmatics expert. Sound weird? Yep, I thought so too. But it's so good!

While there are loads more books I'm sure I could recommend, I'm going to stick with these. You should all go and read them. Right now. Also, tell me in the comments what some of your favorite books that are set in/around a school are. I'd love to add some new books to my (semi controlled) TBR pile.


Friday, September 4, 2015

The Stereotypical Freaks~Howard Shapiro | Review

Title: The Stereotypical Freaks (Forever Friends #1)
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: YA Graphic Novel, Music
Length: 154 Pages
Release: November 2012
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

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

This graphic novel was a lot different than I was expecting, not in a bad way. It was just different. I guess I expected more of a lighthearted, music based read. It had so much more than that. 

The four main characters, Tom, Dan, Mark, and Jacoby, each came into the band with their own set of issues. Tom lacked confidence and change, Dan felt abandoned by his father, Mark was an athlete who didn't know how to be his own person, Jacoby was an exchange student with serious health problems. It definitely made for an interesting mix when these guys decided to enter the battle of the bands contest at their school senior year. 

The characters were likable enough. I did have a hard time relating with Mark. While he was a nice guy, I didn't like his two-faced charade. I understand the pressures of high school, I just found it hard to relate. All of the characters did seem a little younger to me. They seemed more around 14 or 15 than 17 or 18. 

I don't generally read a lot of graphic novels, so maybe the time jumps are a normal thing. I was a bit confused in the beginning when a month or two would pass in a page. Once I realized how it was being structured, this made a lot more sense to me. 

The art work here was nice. I really enjoyed that each character had something that was theirs. They each had their own look and style that kept them easy to distinguish. 

This was a really fun and fast read for fans of graphic novels.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Buddy Reading

Welcome to September! Can you believe over half the year has come and gone? Crazy, right? Anyway, as a welcome to September I have another Tuesday Talks discussion for you. You should check out the group and participate. It was created by Janie and Janelle and it's a lot of fun.

What do You Think About Buddy Reads?
I love buddy reading! Up until the beginning of this year I had only ever participated in a couple of buddy reads, but now I do them all the time. While I love reading on my own, it's nice to have someone to discuss the books you're reading with. I've gotten so much out of buddy reading. 

A lot of the buddy reading I do is with friends online through goodreads groups. One big one is the YA Buddy Readers' Corner group which has a lot of fun challenges and buddy reading. I've met so many great friends through this group and been introduced to so many new books because of them. It's been a lot of fun. I've also started a buddy reading and blog discussion group called Read Together. Blog Together with Saloni (another Tuesday Talker you can find at My Fantabulous Bookshelf) where we buddy read and post blog discussions about the books.  I've also done some buddy reads through BookTube Reading Buddies, which were a lot of fun. The challenges these guys put together are so relaxed that it's easy to enjoy them.

Occasionally I'll read books with people who live near me as well. My family is a group of readers (for the most part) but we tend to read different books. Sometimes we will read the same books (my mom and I are both huge Dean Koontz fans) and we will discuss the books together. It's so much fun!

So basically, buddy reading is a lot of fun and full of insightful thoughts. You can learn so much from other people and just improve your reading experience. This works really well for hard to get through books because you have someone to talk with them about. So go start buddy reading!

So what are your thoughts? Do you buddy read or not? Share your thoughts in the comments!