THIS BLOG IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
If things look a little weird/unreadable, links don't work, etc., please forgive me while I try to spruce this place up.
Thanks for your patience and for visiting!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reading Challenge Update [February 2015]




February started out okay for reading, but the weather was so miserable, and I think it put me in a slump. Here's hoping for more books and better weather in March!


 This Month: 7 Books

The Books:
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Columbine by Dave Cullen


This Month: 3 Books
Total: 18/50

The Categories/Books:
A book that became a movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
A memoir: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A graphic novel: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll


This Month: 0 TBR Books
Total: 10/40


Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Spies, Thieves, and Diplomats GIVEAWAY [CLOSED]

Ally Carter's books are some of my favorites because they are always about strong girls in action. They are fun, have bits of swoon, and are always an adventure.

One of the common premises in Ally's books is they tend to feature teenage girls involved in or at war with 'the family business.' In the Gallagher Girl series, 'the family business' is espionage. In the Heist Society series, it's thievery. And in Ally's newest book, All Fall Down, the first in the Embassy Row series, it's diplomacy.

From Goodreads:

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.

From Goodreads:

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

From Goodreads:

A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

So using these themes, I've come up with a little game based on the classic Kiss/Marry/Kill. Using celebrities/fictional characters/well-known entities, who would you spy on and why, who would you steal from and why, and who would you befriend and why?

Here are my answers:

I would SPY on Jennifer Lopez to get her workout routine.
I would STEAL Darcy's country estate, Pemberley, because it's gorgeous.
I would BEFRIEND Anna Kendrick because she is hilarious.

Whether you are already a fan or new to the books, now is your chance to win two signed novels by Ally Carter. First, check out my Giveaway & Rules page and then fill out the Rafflecopter widget below. There will be one winner and the giveaway ends at 11:59pm on February 16th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

From Where I'm Standing [17] - Ally Carter

I have been a fan of Ally Carter for the past seven or eight years. I found the audio book of I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You on sale, bought it, and discovered YA lit was a thing that I enjoyed. Along with Harry Potter and Twilight, I credit Ally Carter's Gallagher Girl series for getting me in to reading YA again.

The last time Ally Carter visited Tennessee, she only had a stop in Memphis, which is too far away for a day trip, so I was beyond elated to see that Chattanooga had been added for this latest tour to celebrate the release of Ally's first Embassy Row novel, All Fall Down. Not only did it make it possible for me to meet Ally and get some of my books signed, but it also gave me an excuse to see my blog bestie Hannah, of The Book Vortex.


Ally Carter answering fan questions.
Ally Carter signing books.

The event wasn't set up in the best way (no chairs at all!), so Ally spoke briefly about All Fall Down and then took a few questions. There were lots of students from local schools present, and many of them looked like they had dressed up as Gallagher Girls because they were wearing their private school uniforms. Meeting Ally was so much fun, and I'm glad Hannah came along, as we got to hang out quite a bit and catch up (and a thank you to her for taking pictures!).
 
Hannah and Me
Me and Ally Carter
If you want to win two books signed by Ally Carter, just head on over to this post!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Reading Challenge Update [January 2015]


After the catastrophe that was last year's reading challenges, I've scaled back a bit for this year and am only doing three.

The first is the yearly Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I've set a goal to read 75 books during 2015.



The Books:
The Prince of Mist (Niebla #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Midnight Palace (Niebla #2) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth
Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The second challenge is the PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge. For this one, there are 50 reading goals you try to meet during the year. I've decided to do a different book for each instead of letting one book count for multiple categories, so that's 50 books total. I've also altered a few of the categories to be a better fit for me. For example, for "A book that made you cry," I read the sequel of a book that made me cry rather than reread the original book because I'm not much of a re-reader.

15/50 Books

The Categories/Books:
A classic romance: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A book by a female author: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
A book with a one-word title: Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth
A book of short stories: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
A book set in a different country (India): The Midnight Palace (Niebla #2) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A book based on a true story: Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
A book you can finish in a day: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
A book with antonyms in the title: The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani
A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit (England): The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
A book that came out the year you were born (1986): The Prince of Mist (Niebla #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A book with a color in the title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
A book that made you cry: Certain Girls (Cannie Shapiro #2) by Jennifer Weiner
A book that was originally written in a different language (German): Emerald Green (The Ruby Red Trilogy #3) by Kerstin Gier
A play: The Tempest by William Shakespeare


The last challenge is the TBR Takedown. It's unofficial because I made it up for myself. I want to read 40 books that were on my physical or e-reader shelves before 2015, so no newly bought books will count. I haven't completed any of my previous TBR challenges, so hopefully this year will be different.

10/40 TBR Books

The Books:
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling
The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Quirk [Series] Review: Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

Author: Veronica Roth ~~ Series: Divergent
Release Dates: 2011 - 2013 ~~ Sources: gift, local used bookstore, Blue Bicycle Books
WARNING: Spoilers are tagged are below.

About Divergent from Goodreads:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves...or it might destroy her.

PREFACE:
I remember when Divergent was the new cool-kid-on-the-block for YA lit. I recently finished the last book, and, having heard how many were not satisfied by the ending, I wanted to put my thoughts out there because I seem to be among the minority who loved the trilogy from beginning to end.

WRITING:
Roth is one of those writers who is able to say so much in seemingly few words, so her prose never feels bloated or descriptions unnecessary. While her writing is direct and uncomplicated, she has the ability to punch you in the gut with certain passages, making them beautiful without changing the overall style.

SETTING:
The atmosphere of dystopian Chicago existed easily in my mind, even before the film came out. In addition to Roth's good use of description, her style of writing aided in creating the stark, gray landscape of the Divergent world, as well as the times certain aspects of it contrasted against each another. As the world got bigger with each book, Roth's world-building didn't lag.

CHARACTERS:
Tris is one of my favorite protagonists of all time. She is good to the core, tortured over what happens to her and those around her, extremely brave, and in the end, true to herself above everything. Over the course of the first book she grows and changes, becoming the kind of person she wanted to be. The second and third books show how far she is willing to go in order to save and protect those she cares about and to make the world a better place. Her bravery and courage are inspiring, as is her will to go on despite so many losses.

Four, or Tobias, as he is known by both names, was a character I liked throughout the first two books and, while I didn't exactly like him less in the third book, I didn't really enjoy being in his mind. Like Tris, he agonizes over things that have happened, but more than anything his family's dysfunction and his own fears are what he thinks about most. Unlike Tris, he does so to the point that it incapacitates him. It causes him to make decisions that, were he less reactive to his past, he wouldn't make otherwise.

There is a whole slew of characters that appear with Tris and Four throughout the trilogy. My favorite among them is Christina, Tris's friend and fellow Dauntless initiate. I also enjoyed Uriah, a Dauntless born, and though I can't say I liked him, Peter, another Dauntless transfer, was an interesting character to watch because you were never sure what he would do.

While there are a handful of characters who could be termed 'villains' in this series, really, the culprit underneath it all is human nature. Fear of change, mob-mentality, greed, prioritization of control/power over everything else - all of these things contribute to the tribulations that Tris, Four, and their friends and family go through. Some of the villains were, however, pretty convincing. The first, while I understood her point of view, I was completely disgusted by her methods. The second was a bad apple that was occasionally on the right side of an issue, but, even after everything that happens, he wouldn't change his ways. A third made some big mistakes but was ultimately redeemable. The last one was rather sneaky because he truly believed that his methods and outlook were objectively good, despite being completely bad and unfair.

COOL STUFF: [Here there be SPOILERS!]
When I first heard that readers were hating the last book, Allegiant, and that there were two POVs where the other two books had just been told from Tris's perspective, I figured out the main ending event pretty easily. So in that way, I was spoiled for what was coming. However, unlike the majority of readers, I thought Tris's death was not only perfectly reasonable, but a beautiful piece of writing.

From the first book it was clear that Roth was not going to pull punches. I'm a sucker for books with action, but I was shocked when Edward lost his eye and when they pulled Al's body from the chasm. I was shocked when Tris had to shoot Will, and when both Tris's mom and dad die practically in front of her. But I was less shocked when Tris risked her life trying to pull Four out of the attack simulation. And later, when she turned herself in to Erudite in Insurgent, it made sense, because that was exactly who Tris had become.

So when Tris risked her life at the end of Allegiant, it was no surprise. True, she did it to save Caleb, who was one of my least favorite characters ever because he was a spineless jerk, but it was exactly what Tris would have done. She'd already shown, several times, that she was willing to give up her life for others. I don't see how it could have ended any other way. Sure, Tris would have survived, but she would have been living with the guilt of her brother's death and feeling like a coward for the rest of her life. I, for one, am glad she stayed true to herself.

One thing I was not expecting was for Tris to survive the death serum. I loved that she believed she would survive it and then she did. I think that, though being divergent outside the city wasn't supposed to mean much, it showed that Tris really was special, even beyond what everyone expected. I feel like her surviving the death serum, doing what no one else could, was a metaphor for her making the choices no one else would.

Another thing I enjoyed, that I pretty sure a lot of Tris+Four shippers did not, was how Tris and Four fought a lot in the last two books. I thought it felt realistic, considering everything they were going through. Couples in the real world fight plenty without having to deal with what was going on the Divergent world, so it made complete sense that the two would have major issues as things got worse. It made me respect Roth immensely.

VERDICT:
While reading Veronica Roth's trilogy wasn't always comfortable or easy, it was an experience I enjoyed and that will have a lasting impact on me. The writing made the world come alive, Tris was a character I will love forever, and the lengths Roth went to to tell a good, meaningful story make her one of my favorite authors. If you couldn't already tell, I highly recommend this series.


Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 Reading Challenges Summary Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my challenges summary!

Goal: Listen to 75 audio books
Total: 25
Status: Not Completed

The Books:
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Saving Raphael Santiago (The Bane Chronicles #6) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare
Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu
What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Icons (Icons #1) by Margaret Stohl
Until I Die (Revenants #2) by Amy Plum
If I Should Die (Revenants #3) by Amy Plum
 Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) by Alethea Kontis
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1) by Megan Shepherd
Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
One False Move (Myron Bolitar #5) by Harlan Coben
Alphas (Alphas #1) by Lisi Harrison
The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
 Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd


 Goal: Read 12 books with titles relating to 12 keywords
Total: 11
Status: Not Completed

The Keywords/Books:
WILD: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
DARK: The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
FOREVER: The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1) by Avery Williams
NEVER: none
AND: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
GRAVE: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
ME: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
SHADOW: Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree
THE: The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe


Goal: Read 12 books with themes relating to 12 motifs
Total: 12
Status: COMPLETED

The Motifs/Books:
Around the World: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson
Award Winner: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Fairy Tales: Enchanted (Woodcutter Sisters #1) by Alethea Kontis
Short & Sweet: The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
Mystery, Murder, & Mayhem: Prep School Confidential (Prep School Confidential #1) by Kara Taylor
A Long Journey: The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus #3) by Kaitlin Bevis
Assassins, Warriors, & Rebels: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
Alternate Reality: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Book to Movie: Austenland (Austenland #1) by Shannon Hale
The Witching Hour: Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
An Oldie but Goodie: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
That's a Wrap: The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass


Goal: Read 40 TBR books
Total: 23
Status: Not Completed

The Books:
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1) by Avery Williams
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Alphas (Alphas #1) by Lisi Harrison
Persephone (Daughters of Zeus #1) by Kaitlin Bevis
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk


Thanks for visiting!



2014 Reading Challenges Summary Part 1

First things first, 2014 was a horrible year for me. My whole life suffered, including my reading. Even so, I wanted to sum up what I did read for the year, even if I didn't complete most of my challenges. Hopefully 2015 will be better!


Goal: Read 110 books
Total: 60
Status: Not Completed

The Books:
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Saving Raphael Santiago (The Bane Chronicles #6) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
Shadow Eyes by Dusty Crabtree
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Icons (Icons #1) by Margaret Stohl
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
C. Auguste Dupin Collection by Edgar Allan Poe
Beautiful Redemption (Caster Chronicles #4) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Alphas (Alphas #1) by Lisi Harrison
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Very Bad Things by Susan McBride
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker


Goal: Read at least 1 classic
Total: 3
Status: COMPLETED

The Books:
C. Auguste Dupin Collection by Edgar Allan Poe
 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
 The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe


Don't forget to check out Part 2!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...