Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's the Little Things That Make Me Happy

Okay, that's a lie because these things really aren't "little." They seem like it on paper, but their significance make them huge. These are the things that make me truly happy as a book blogger. Every day, at least one of these things puts a smile on my face and brightens my mood. 

Being on receiving end of a bookmail tweet

I've had some people tweet a picture of books they got from me and it's as good as receiving bookmail myself. It's just so exciting!

Being able to act silly and tease close blogging friends

If I joke around with you on Twitter or on comments (on either my blog or yours), that means I'm comfortable around you. It means I consider you a great blogging friend. I joke around with close friends and family members offline, so it makes me happy that I have some blogging friends I can do that with. I can show more of my personality when talking to them!

Being asked for help or advice

A lot of times, this is attached with an apology, as if the person is afraid of bothering me. You're not bothering me. I love your questions. I don't get them very often (in the blogosphere or offline), so I feel special whenever someone comes to me with a blogging question.

Reaching milestones--big and little

There's not a single milestone that I let go by unnoticed. There's follower numbers here and on social media accounts, but there are also blogger/reviewer firsts. I love it when I do/get something for the very first time, like review a book for a publisher I haven't received anything from before. 

Maintaining a longish conversation on Twitter

Okay, this one may be a little weird, but for me, it's definitely not. I'm not great at conversations. I frequently find myself having short conversation (two to maybe six tweets) after short conversations on Twitter because I . . . I just don't have much to say. I'm usually the listener in conversations, which kinda makes it tough for me to talk to people online a lot.

So, can you imagine why I love it when I am able to maintain longer conversations? It's like a little personal accomplishment whenever I do that--like a gold star.

Being followed (on Twitter) by an author I knew of/read a book by pre-blogging

It feels . . . surreal. I never even considered the possibility of interacting with those authors in the slightest back when I read their books (or considered reading them). This doesn't happen often, but it's really cool when it does!

Being complimented on a review or a post

Whenever this happens, it shows that must be doing something right! My words actually make sense

Being mentioned in a blog post

It's exciting! 

Any sort of email or mail

(Well, unless it's the rude kind. Or spam or junk mail.) It just makes me feel special! On the rare occasion that I get an email from a publicist, I'm in a cloud of happy.

There are more seemingly little things about book blogging that makes me happy, but these are the the things that have put a smile on my face recently. The non-blogging portion of my life is a bit meh right now, but these things have brightened my days and made it tough for me to have a completely sucky week.

What little things make you happy? Do you still consider them little things when they make such a big difference?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (56) ~ A Two Week Haul

This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we share what books we have recently added to our physical or virtual shelves. I like to use the meme to also give a recap of the week's posts.
(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads.)

I skipped posting last week because Love-A-Thon was going on. Plus, I wanted to post a giveaway.☺

Amazon Ebooks
Addicted to You was free!! I've been so curious about for a really long time, but I've been a bit reluctant to get it.

Digital Review Copies
Devoted is a huge surprise. I usually don't get approved for Macmillan titles!

Thank you to Harper Teen/HarperCollins, Edelweiss, Macmillan, and Bloomsbury for the review copies! 

In the Mail
I bought Venom from BookOutlet (there was another book in my order, but it's for my #OTSPSecretSister) and The Unbound on Abebooks.☺

I'm so excited to read these ebooks! I'll also be able getting All Played Out when it releases. Thank you to Sarah @ What Sarah Read for these.☺

I won my first bookish tote bag! Thank you, Martina. :)

Hmm . . . do I have anything to report? I got a single cup coffee maker and tried some brewed cocoa, which wasn't too bad (I used way too much cocoa, I think). I may go shoe shopping tomorrow.

That's it for me this week! How about you? How has your week been?

Catching Up On Reviews

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
Series: Don't Get Mad #1
Genre: Contemporary / mystery
Pages: 320
Publication date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Goodreads Description: 
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher exchange for an honest review. 

For the most part, I really liked reading Get Even! I had a good time reading it and was left wanting more after I finished.

The mystery was pretty good. It got really interesting towards the end, so I'm anxiously waiting for a chance to read the sequel. I really wanted to know who the killer was what his/her motives were. There was a Pretty Little Liars feel to it that I loved. Also, I loved the bits of romance! I was rooting for John and Bree the most. I also loved the romance that Margot had. She was my favorite, I think. 

There were two things that I didn't like about the book. Sometimes, I had to push myself through reading it. I didn't feel sucked in by what was happening. It was also a little hard to distinguish characters from one another. I was able to tell them apart easily in the second half, after I gathered info associated with each character, but it was all just so much in the beginning. There were so many details and characters, so I got confused. I ended up really liking the characters and feeling sympathetic for them when things went wrong, though. 

Overall, Get Even was a nice read with mystery, drama, secrets, and romance mixed in with its story. The ending left me needing the sequel. What will happen next? Who is the killer? What's in store for DGM? I really want to know!
2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez
Genre: YA mystery/thriller
Pages: 432
Publication date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Goodreads Description: 
Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.  
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Kiss Kill Vanish was a surprise. When I first discovered it, it looked so good! However, after reviews started coming in and the book had been on my Kindle for awhile, I kinda lost interest. I'm glad to say that when I finally got to reading it, I got REALLY into the story. I really liked reading the book! Intrigue and the mystery and the drama and scandal--it was all so great!

The romance was the thing that kept me reading. I was always hoping for something to develop between Valentina and a certain guy. I was on the edge of my seat, looking for signs that the two characters were attracted to one another. As for the characters, I loved Marcel. Despite his jerkish behavior at times, he was one of my favorite parts of the book. He had a soft side that I couldn't resist. Valentina didn't feel like a solidly built heroine. She seemed a bit . . . scattered. All over the place. I liked her, but she didn't stand out as a great character. Emilio--ugh. I never liked him. I didn't like his and Valentina's relationship. It was too love soaked--too passionate-in-a-bad-way. 

The story is dark with bursts of dramatic color--just like the cover. It was a thrilling book! I was almost always on the edge of my seat and feeling nervous about what would happen next.

Overall, Kiss Kill Vanish was an exciting ride. I'm glad that I decided to pick this one up. It was fun!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge

A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

Series: The Madman's Daughter #3
Genre: YA historical fiction
Pages: 400
Publication Date: January 27th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Goodreads Description: 
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Cold Legacy was a decent conclusion, but it was the weakest installment of The Madman's Daughter series for me. It was missing . . . something. I wasn't nearly as drawn in by this book as the previous two. I didn't feel connected to the story or very interested in what was happening. It was like that certain special aspect of of the series wasn't there anymore. However, I still loved teh characters and the themes. I was impressed by Lucy because she seemed to grow and take on a much more important role. As for the themes, I loved the one of deciding your own fate. It helped make the ending a satisfying one.

Overall, I was a little let down by A Cold Legacy because it just didn't interest me as much as the rest of the series did. Nevertheless, I still liked certain elements that I liked in the first two books. Also, I was happy with how the entire story was concluded.
2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge

When My Heart Was Wicked by Tricia Stirling
Series: standalone
Genre: YA paranormal
Pages: 192
Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Goodreads Description: 
"I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins.

But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good."

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She's a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.

Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter's heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the "old" Lacy starts to resurface.

But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light? 
Source: I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have almost zero reaction to When My Heart Was Wicked. I didn't connect to the characters or the story or ANYTHING, yet I kept reading because I didn't want to DNF such a short book. What I can say, though, is that I felt confused and disconnected. There didn't seem to be enough development, and attempts at development didn't work well for me. The magic was . . . weird. There didn't seem to be much of it (at least, much of anything really interesting) and the bits that were there confused me. Lacy didn't seem to change that much--or, at least, not become as dark as I thought she was going to become. The book was just a letdown. When I finished, I wondered what the point of it was, which is the biggest reason I gave this book only one star.

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
2015 Debut Author Challenge
Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: standalone ?
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 352
Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen

Goodreads Description: 
Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

There wasn't enough to A Wicked Thing to make me want to finish the book. There was little plot development and it felt like there didn't seem to be much of any importance happening. By the time it felt like something was occurring (or starting to occur), I was so disconnected from the story that the new development felt sudden. It seemed to come out of nowhere to me. That was near 50 percent, and I decided to move onto other books shortly after that point.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

15 Confessions I've Been Meaning to Make

This is in the style of the Nineteen Random Songs From My Queue and 19 Random Facts About Me posts I've made. These lists are personal type posts that allow you to get to know me more outside of bookish stuff! 

These confessions are mostly related to books or entertainment, but there are a couple more serious ones.

Enjoy the list (and don't be too mad at me about some of these, especially the last one).

1. I'm not a fan of libraries.

I know, this is an unpopular booklover opinion. The libraries I've been to have just been . . . unwelcoming. It's too quiet. When I walk through one, I feel like I'm going to make a wrong move and disturb every single person in the building. It's like I'm walking on eggshells! My public one seems even more unfriendly because I was rejected for a library card twice and almost a third time (for various reasons that made me really upset).

Maybe when I move away to another area, I'll like libraries more. I'm certain I've just been to the wrong ones.

My first library card . . . which I used once.

2. I've only ever checked out one book from a public library.
This was when I was in first or second grade when I got my first library card. For some reason, I never used that again (though I still have it). I got a library card on my 18th birthday, but only used it a couple times to check out a few audiobooks through Oregon's online library. 

Don't worry. I have checked out books from school libraries before.

3. I don't know if I'll ever watch The Fault in Our Stars.
Maybe. One day. Not soon, though. I have this weird aversion to the idea of watching the movie. 

4. I'm a fan of Twilight.
Twilight is actually one of the books that got me into YA. I consider The Golden Compass as the book that made me fall in love with reading, This Lullaby as my gateway into contemporary romance, and Twilight as my gateway into YA in general. I finished the series before the first movie was even played in theaters and it's one of my favorites. I feel like the movies absolutely ruined the books.

5. I really like movies with Kristen Stewart in them.
I've seen quite a few of them! She was one of my favorite actresses before Twilight and continues to be one of my favorites. 

Movies I've seen with her in them: Speak, Zathura: A Space Adventure, The Messengers, In the Land of Women, The Cake Eaters (such a strange movie), Into the Wild (small role, I know), The Yellow Handkerchief, Twilight series, Adventureland, Welcome to the Rileys, The Runaways, and Snow White and the Huntsman.

6. I technically DNFed Harry Potter the first time I tried the first book.
I think I tried reading it in fifth grade? I'm not sure how much I read, but I just remember not finishing it for some reason. I tried it again after I fell in love with reading, and loved it then.

7.  I used to look through books for interesting parts when I was bored, then didn't go back to finish reading them.
Sometimes I would just feel so stuck in one spot of a book. So, I sometimes flipped through the pages to see what would catch my eye. I did this with Going Bovine, which is why I know how it ends when I can't seem to make it through half the book without DNFing.

8. I don't like cussing around people.
When I'm alone, I'll use bad language. When I'm thinking, I'll use bad language. But when I'm around people? I have super innocent language. 

9. I've never used a picture of just myself in any of my social media profile pictures.
There were maybe one or two times where I used a group photo as my FB profile. Other than that, I rarely post any pictures with me in them. Most of the ones online are ones my friends uploaded and tagged me in.

Selfies are just not my thing.

10. My Twitter account used to be a giveaway account.
I'm not proud of this admission, but hey, my account is used for way better things now! I didn't see how amazing Twitter is until maybe a month after I started blogging. 

11. I'm really interested in working in marketing, but it terrifies me.
Me in marketing? Ha! I laugh at that, but it's one of the only fields I'm even interested in working in. In my senior year, I was so sure that I wanted to work in zoology, but then my interest starting shifting. My college plans changed. My life plans went up in smoke. One of the biggest reasons why I hated senior year was this "what the hell am I going to do?" crisis I was having. It was at the end of my first term of college (just this last December) that I embraced the fact that I had absolutely no interest in working in science anymore.

Adulting is scary, people.

12. I'm a shy person that wishes she were more extroverted.
This is my daily battle. Whether I'm at the college or at home on Twitter, I feel so . . . socially awkward. I love Twitter, but sometimes it just makes me feel more alone. There have been so many times when I feel like I'm incapable of forming strong relationships or interacting well with people as well as the majority of those that I know. This confession has been running in my mind over and over and over for over a month now, and it does feel good to finally get the words out of my head.

13.  I've never seen a James Bond movie.
And I've never been very interested.

14. I've never seen Star Wars or Star Trek or anything related to either one of them.
I know very, very little besides either one. My limited knowledge came from That 70s Show and various movies, tv shows, or books that reference either or both of these . . . star show/movie/series things.

15. I'm not a fan of Taylor Swift anymore.
Around the time Red released, I started disliking her. I still loved her previous music and there were a few songs on her new album that I liked, but there was just something about her that I just . . . don't like. Now, whenever one of her songs comes on the radio, I immediately change the channel.

I apologize to Holly and Nova for this confession.

I'm okay with being a hater.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (49) ~ An Unwanted Marriage

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What am I waiting on?

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
March 24th, 2015 from Nancy Paulsen Books

Goodreads description:
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.
Why am I waiting on it?
This book looks like it would be rich--rich in culture and meaning, as well as in the descriptions. It looks like a great one for me.☺

That's my WoW this week! What's yours?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

When Joss Met Matt Blog Tour ~ Review & Giveaway

Welcome to the blog tour for When Joss Met Matt! I'm excited to share my review. This book left me with a big grin on my face.☺

Here's the blog tour schedule!

Genre: NA contemporary
Pages: 368
Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Goodreads Description: 
In the tradition of New Adult superstar Jessica Sorensen, Ellie Cahill’s debut novel is a charming friends-with-benefits story . . . with a twist!

What if after every bad breakup, there was someone to help “cleanse your palate”—someone who wouldn’t judge you, who was great in bed, someone you were sure not to fall in love with? “Sorbet sex” could solve everything—as long as it never got too sweet.

Joss and Matt have been friends since freshman year of college, meeting one night after Joss is dumped by her boyfriend. After a few drinks, Matt humors her with a proposition: that he’ll become her go-to guy whenever she needs to heal a broken heart. In return, she’ll do the same for him. The #1 Rule: They’ll never fall in love with each other. People scoff at the arrangement. But six years later, Joss and Matt are still the best of friends . . . with benefits.

Through a string of boyfriends and girlfriends—some almost perfect, some downright wrong—Joss and Matt are always there for each other when the going gets tough. No strings. No attachments. Piece of cake. No problem. After all, since they wrote the rules, surely they can play by them. Or can they?
Source: I received an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Joss Met Matt was a really, really good New Adult contemporary. It was fun, romantic, and oh, so addicting. I read it in one day without even meaning too. I started reading and . . . couldn't pull myself away for very long. It sucked me in that much.

I LOVE friends with benefits type stories. They just instantly draw me in. This one had a fun twist, and that made the whole thing even better. Looking back, I'm not surprised that this one sucked me in so much. I was hoping it would, after all!

My early reaction to was a bit of disappointment because I had trouble connecting completely to the story. This was a problem I faced with the author's YA books. I enjoyed them, but there was just something missing. With this book, though, I eventually got past that feeling. I'm not sure when that happened--maybe it was when I started crying over the possibility of Joss and Matt NOT ending up together (as there's always a possibility that a book's main couple won't get an HEA ending).

My only other problem--not too big because the story was so addicting--was the repetition. There was a cycle in which Joss and Matt started dating new people, experienced a break up, had sorbet sex, and repeat. Mixed in were Joss's present day perspective (the book runs over a span of about seven years). I sometimes wished for something else

The sex scenes were tastefully done. They were definitely there, but not very detailed (in NA terms). They seemed to be quite realistic. Not dramatic or forced into sexiness. There was awkwardness in the beginning, and the two characters grew more and more comfortable with each other over time. There were nice sexy scenes, but not of the steamy variety. 

I absolutely loved Joss and Matt. They grew so close to each other--I loved how they interacted with one another. There chemistry was great. They were so easy to love, and I rooted them on throughout the entire book!

Overall, When Joss Met Matt was a great read that reminded me just how much I like reading NA books. They're addicting! I could NOT put this one down. I highly recommend reading it!

2015 challenges this book counts towards:
105 Challenge
Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas. She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat.

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