Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Music Recommendation: The Mowglis

I'm not a giant music snob; I would call myself a casual music fan who doesn't limit themselves to one genre.
So today, I thought I would bring you a music recommendation for a change of pace. This recommendation is the album Waiting for the Dawn by The Mowgli's, released this past year.

One of my favorite bands over the past few months of this year is The Mowgli's. Their music is really upbeat and it makes me happy to listen to them. And yet while their songs are simply happy, they are also full of meaning. The album Waiting for the Dawn is full of this happy music. Some of my favorite tracks include "The Great Divide" and "Time".

Overall. if you are a fan of more pop-like music and want to listen to something upbeat, I would recommend the Mowgli's.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten (Five) New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday, as always, is hosted by Broke and Bookish. This week's list is "Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2013." Unfortunately, I did not really read as much as I would have liked to in 2013, even during my holidays from school. Going over the list of books I have read this year, I have five new authors that I feel could become perennial favorites. 

Lauren Morrill
Though I have only read Meant to Be, I really, really liked it. It was a beautiful travel story and I loved it. She has a new books coming out in 2014 and I cannot wait to read it. 

Kasie West
Pivot Point was phenomenal and I cannot believe it is a series! I cannot wait to read the next one. I also have her contemporary novel, The Distance Between Us that I have been meaning to read for forever. I cannot wait to read more of her work. 

Gail Carriger
Again, I have only read one book of hers, but I really enjoyed Etiquette and Espionage. I cannot wait to read the next one in this series then go on and maybe read the previous series this one was based on. 

Olive Schreiner
It maybe more be the book in this case, but I really enjoyed Story of an African Farm during a semester where I did not really enjoy reading. So much thanks to Olive Schreiner, for getting me out of a reading slump this semester. 

Rainbow Rowell
I just read Fangirl and absolutely loved it! It spoke to me on so many levels and I cannot wait to read the rest of her work. 

These are the five authors I read and really enjoyed this year. I have one honorable mention though; while her work was not new to me, I really discovered how much I liked it this year.

Rachel Hawkins
I had only read Hex Hall previously, but now, I have read all of her work. I really got sucked into her world and really enjoyed it. 

What are your new-to-me authors of 2013? Let me know in the comments. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How to Survive Finals Week

It's that time of year kids! No, not Christmas, FINALS WEEK.

My finals week was actually last week, but I know for many this is their last week of the semester. Having just gone through this experience, however, I feel I can offer some advice on the subject.

Tip #1: Study before the night before. 
This seems like a no brainer, but I think it still deserves to be mentioned. If you have no finals Monday, perhaps Sunday night you should study for the finals you have on Tuesday. Just a thought.

Tip #2: Get plenty of sleep. 
Don't stay up all night studying; it won't work out in your favor. Also, don't sleep all day and night the night before. Also doesn't work out. So getting about eight hours is your best bet for maximum productivity.

Tip #3: Relax and cut loose. 
It's okay to take a break and relax. Go get dinner with a friend or watch a funny YouTube video. Just take a break. You've earned it.

I hope this helps some of you. Good luck on finals!

Do you have any finals week tips? Leave them in the comments! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Photo from Goodreads
Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10, 2013, by St. Martin's Press

Plot Summary:
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts:
I love this book. I really do.

Maybe it's because it took place at a time that would've been my freshman year, Maybe it's because it's about fangirl culture, something I definitely understand. Maybe it's because I just identify with the protagonist on so many levels.

I don't know what the magic combination is, but this book seems tailored to me.

This book basically follows Cath through the entirety of her freshman year and the ups and downs that go along with it. However, it is more a chronology of her real life versus her life in the fandom. In my mind, it does not really add up to what the blurp on the inside cover says. The book focuses more on her life than the Simon Snow fandom.

I think the main reason I loved this book because I just "get" Cath as a character because in many ways, I am Cath. A lot of the things she goes through regarding college are a lot of things I went through myself regarding college, like roommates and dinning halls. As for some of the more complex conflicts, I definitely understood the emotions behind it. I also really loved the complexity of Wren and their Dad.

Overall, I would recommend this book to people in college who will be able to reminisce about their freshman year.  People who are about to start college may also enjoy this. If you enjoy fandom and fan-created works, you will also love this.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fall 2013 Semester in Review

Independence Hall in Philly
Hallelujah, the semester is finally over! This semester has been a rough one, what with taking seventeen credit hours and the emotions this semester has inspired. Let's review:

The month started off great with Phi Sigma Pi National Convention in Philadelphia, even though I got super sick halfway through the convention. And continued to be sick up until it was time to go back to school.
Our new kitten, Hoover

This is where things started to get intense. What with preparations for Shay's wedding and the semester picking up, I was starting to feel stressed beyond belief. Also, it should be noted that this is the month I started writing creatively again, which was great. At the end of the month, we got our new kitten, Hoover.

Uptown Theater for Sara Bareilles
Shay's wedding was this month, which was easily the highlight of the semester! More stress, more poetry. Also, I saw Sara Bareilles in KC this month, so that was super exciting too!

Phi Sigma Pi induction in November
Here is where the semester starts to both get better and get worse. I was a lot less emotionally drained during this month, but my stress levels went through the roof and would remain that way for the rest of semester. I also celebrated my four year anniversary with my boyfriend and finally got Pokemon X.
Bonsai Chipotle run! 

Last two weeks of the semester stress levels still through the roof. In spite of that, I was still able to have some fun with bonsai trips to Chipotle and other not school related activities!

And now I'm on break! Though I still have to work a couple weeks, I will mostly be playing Pokemon, hanging out with Kelly, and reading. I had my last final yesterday, so my stress levels are slowly going down. My body hasn't one hundred percent realized the semester is over.

How did your semester go? Now that it's over, how do you plan to spend your break?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Things I am Looking Forward to for Fall Break

So Fall Break is next week and it cannot come fast enough! Truthfully, I'm ready for the semester to me over, but a week off will be a good place to start. Here's everything I'm looking forward to that week.

Celebrating my four year anniversary with my boyfriend
Tomorrow (the 18th) my boyfriend and I will have been dating for four years. That's a long time! Though we won't be celebrating until weekend, I'm looking forward to spending the entire week with him!

Getting Pokemon X or Y
I've been looking forward to this game for a long time, and I've finally  saved up enough money to buy both a 3DS and the game. So if it seems like I'm hardly online, that's why.

I'm really looking forward to spending a lot of time with my family, even the relatives I don't get to see as often.

Black Friday
 My boyfriend and I also go Black Friday shopping every year for the experience.

Just relaxing
I'm really just looking forward to having a break. Everything is go, go , go all the time and I just want to slow down for a little bit.

What are you looking forward to on your fall break?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An Update

So upon realizing that for the past two months, I had done monthly favorites in terms of blog posts and that was it, I thought I should maybe do an update post to explain my absence somewhat. It really just boils down to one reason: College

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to take seventeen hours this semester. Never again. I have just be drowning in homework and Phi Sigma Pi stuff. Hopefully, during fall break at the end of this month I'll get to recharge for a little bit. I also plan to have a lighter semester next semester, if only so I can get some rest and not be so completely devoted to school.

Another reason is some of my personal relationships started to take over certain aspects of my life. I really don't want to go into a lot of details, but these last few months of 2013 are involve me taking a step back and realizing what is important to me and what I want to do, not what I think others expect me to do.

I'm hoping during fall break I will be able to recharge my batteries a little bit and make some life decisions on just where I want 2014 to take me. When I find that out, I will let you all know.

Happy November!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

September Favorites

Well, the month of October is upon us and that means it is time for another favorites post. Funny story, I haven't posted anything since my August favorites. Oops.

September was crazy busy for me, as usual. What with school being in full swing, the beginning of planning for regional conference, and a bunch of family of birthdays at the end of the month, there was barely any time for blogging. However, there was a little time for some new favorites to creep into my life.

1. American Authors
OH MY GOODNESS. I love this band so much. I'd heard "Best Day of My Life" on the radio and thought, "I like this." So one day I decided to listen to more of them at work. Another great decision. My current favorite is "Luck".
AND they are coming to KC in December and I'm really hoping to see them!

Farmstand Apple 14.5 oz. 3-Wick Candle - Slatkin & Co. - Bath & Body Works
2. Bath and Body Works Apple Candle
So early last month, I went and bought three mini candles from Bath and Body Works. Of these three candles, my favorite this month has hands down been the Farmstand Apple Candle. Apples are on of my favorite fruits, so having a candle that captures that scent is amazing! I'm considering buying a bigger one when I get the chance.

3. My new kitten! 
So the last week of September, my parents were surprised with a new edition to our family. He just showed up and decided he lived here now. His name is Hoover and he has a fractured pelvis and stitches in one leg. But he is the sweetest thing and I love him so much!

Da kitten

What are your September favorites? 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Favorites

So today is September 1st, which means all the witches and wizards are boarding the Hogwarts Express to go back to school. I, however, have been back at school for two weeks now and let me tell you, it's not all it's cracked up to be.

August has been an interesting month so far, what with Phi Sigma Pi National Convention  and starting back at work and school, and Kelly's 21st birthday. Here are some of my favorites from this month:

1. This shirt
I have been waiting for this shirt to get here since I ordered it in July and I finally got a chance to wear it yesterday and I am in love. (Ignore the fact I am taking a selfie in Target. Focus on the glory that is this shirt.)

2. My boat shoes
My boyfriend bought me a pair of boat shoes while he was in California and I have seriously been wearing them everywhere! They are so comfortable and I think I prefer wearing them over my regular ballet flats (which is saying a lot because I was a serious flats girl last year). They are also pictured.

3. Waiting for the Dawn- The Mowgli's
About halfway through this month, I decided to listen to more of The Mowgli's than just "San Francisco". Best decision ever. I have this album playing constantly on Spotify. (Link to playlist here!) Some of my favorite tracks are "The Great Divide" and "Time".

And that is all I can think of for favorites this month! Most of this month has consisted of work and school, as will September! And unfortunately, I didn't get much reading done at all this month! =[


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Plans vs. Reality

So before I left for my vacation to Philadelphia, I had all these beautiful plans to queue a ton of post to go up while I was away. Unsurprisingly, none of them happened.  Then, I was super sick and didn't feel like doing much of anything other than lying in bed and playing Pokemon (my default activity when I am too sick to do much else.) Then, I went back to work and have been consumed with fall distribution. Next week, I start up with school again, taking seventeen hours plus twenty hours of work a week plus Phi Sigma Pi activities. In short, I will try to have something interesting and relatively engaging up once a week, but cut me some slack, because I am busy.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Published: April 23, 2013 by HarperTeen

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending

My thoughts:
I wanted to LOVE this book. Really, I did. I was so excited about it when it came out. I waited for months to read it. I was so excited when I got it. I reread The Selection in preparation for it. 

And yet, I was disappointed. 

That's not to say I didn't like this book- I did. But I didn't love it like I was expecting to. 

Character-wise, this book kinda sends you between the poles of loving a character and hating a character. For me, this happens with America several times. One minute, I like her, the next she frustrates me to no end. Maxon, you love one minutes, hate the next. I don't like Aspen pretty much ever, so this pole never existed with him. I love the maids though. I love them so much. 

There was a serious lack of world-building in The Selection because it is mostly focused on, you know, The Selection. This was somewhat made up for in The Elite. By somewhat, I mean we got a little more information on how this system came to be, but still don't know a lot on how things work. I found the histories interesting and wished they would've been focused on more, rather than being introduced then there being a gap before it was actually used as a plot point. 

The whole competition in this book is a lot more intense than in the previous one because the number of girls is significantly fewer. America's jealous side comes out a lot because of this and it really hinders her relationship with Maxon.  What this book mostly was was America hindering her relationship with Maxon. 

Overall, it's a lot more frustrating than the first book. If you liked The Selection you'll probably want to read this.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reread Review:The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection (The Selection, #1)
Photo from Goodreads
Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Published: April 24th, 2012 by HarperTeen

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined

My Thoughts:This is a reread- I originally read this book last summer and never got around to reviewing it.

The main reason I really like this series because it has a fascinating premise. It's marketed as The Bachelor meets the Hunger Games and that is exactly what it is. However, this book has its faults.

America kinda annoys me sometimes. My main thing is her self-doubt, which I understand is supposed to be the thing she overcomes in this series, but, man, it's difficult to sit through.  In this book, we have two boys she has to choose from: Aspen her secret boyfriend who broke up with her before she was even chosen and Maxon the prince she is competing for.

There was a serious lack of world-building in The Selection because it is mostly focused on, you know, The Selection. The plot. America doubting herself the entire time. What we do learn, we can't know for 100% because America says there are a bunch of different stories circulating around.

Overall, I would recommend this book to people who enjoyed The Hunger Games and dystopian novels and general, but want more of a girly dystopian read.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)
Cover from Goodreads
Title: Etiquette & Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Published: February 5th, 2013 by Little, Brown Books

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

My Thoughts: 

This one was another amazing read for me! I've been excited about this one since I read about it last year when searching for books to look forward to in 2013. I read the summary on Goodreads and thought, "Well, this kinda sounds like the Gallagher Girls series, but taking place in the Victorian Era and maybe a little steampunky. I'm down!" I haven't read the series this is a spinoff of, but I plan to soon. One thing I will say is I don't think you had to be a long time fan of the main series to enjoy this book. It was very welcoming to newcomers. 

I really liked all the characters, hoping to see more of them in the next installment (Which comes out THIS November! EEEEH!). I'm sure some of them were  thrown in for long-time fans of the first series, but I couldn't tell the difference between new and old. I loved Sorphronia as a protagonist- she is very smart and a little sassy to her elders and I love her passion for invention. Also enjoyed Dimity and other minor characters.

The plot was fast moving, definitely felt immersed in Victorian culture, had some slang I didn't get due to not being familiar with the time period. In the beginning, I was a little confused as to what was going on, which I think was intentional on the authors part, since we see things through the eyes of Sorphronia. Really looking forward to the next one.

This book fulfilled part of my reading challenge as: Read a book that takes place in a state you have never been in. If you have been to all 50 states, choose a book that takes place in a country you have never been in. Also do the latter option if you are not American. Though I have not been to all fifty states, I ended up doing this as a country I have never been to. 

Happy reading! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)
Photo from Goodreads
*Hey, guys! This book is currently $1.99 on both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. Just thought you ought to know*

Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Published: February 12, 2013 by HarperTeen

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without

My Thoughts:
I seriously adored this book, it was so awesome! 

From when I first hear about this book, I was definitely intrigued by this book. I mean, who wouldn't want to be able to look into the future when making their decisions. But it turned into a dark story really fast, and I really wasn't expecting it. I also enjoyed that it alternated between the two options Addie had in front of her. I liked that they were a little connected, like the events would intersect and everything was really put together.

Addie was an interesting character. She definitely felt very real to me. So did her best friend Laila. I adored Trevor, he was awesome. I also really liked her dad; I thought his job was interesting. I didn't really care for Duke. Her mother was okay, I felt like she was kept at a distance on purpose.

I figured from the beginning the ending would be intense, but it wasn't the same kind of intense I was expecting. It was even better than the ending I had in mind. I completely understand why she choose the path she did and I agree with her choice.

I originally thought this was a standalone but I found our they're making this a series even if the next one sounds super dark, I'm excited to see where Kasie West takes it. 

Overall, I think if you like stories with multiple perspectives and a paranormal element, I would definitely recommend this book.

If you could, would you want to be able to see the outcomes of your choices? Why or why not?

*I am not getting paid to say these things. I just really like this book and think you would too!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins Review

Photo from Goodreads
Title: School Spirits
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: May 14, 2013 by Disney-Hyperion

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

My thoughts
This one definitely has a different feel than the Hex Hall series. It was a good different, but it definitely took me awhile to get accustomed to it, especially starting this right after finishing Spell Bound. It definitely felt slower to me in terms of pace, but it got there. 

I did miss Sophie a little bit, but I also really enjoyed Izzy. She definitely had a different voice and I think they would work really well together. I'm hoping for book with them both. It was also nice to see other characters reappearing from the first series, such as her mom and Torin, who got a lot more screen time in this book. The new characters were also good. I liked Izzy's friends Romy and Dex, and how human they were.  

The plot was pretty interesting too. At first, it looked like it could potentially be about her sister's disappearance, but it kinda shifted once they moved to Mississippi. Again, it started out a little slow, but picked up speed once she got there and found the ghost. Then it felt on pace in comparison to the Hex Hall series.

The ending was so good and not at all what I was expecting. I'm really curious to see how Izzy will adjust to the changes that this ending caused. I don't want to go into too much detail about it, but if you've read it, you'll know what I'm talking about. I'm also wondering if they will find Finely. Really hoping for another book since I have so many questions that haven't been answered! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

As always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is "Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition". This topic was super difficult. Let's get started!

1. Jennifer Donnelly. 
I haven't read her adult novels, but her young adult novels are amazing. The characters are complex, her settings are amazing. Her books are a little thick, but so worth it.
Recommended: A Northern Light, Revolution

2. Maureen Johnson
I never really see a lot of people raving about her. I don't see why not, as she's hilarious! She's written a lot of funny contemporary novels, but she also has the Shades of London trilogy, which are paranormal.
Recommended: 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Name of the Star

3. Rachel Hawkins
She only has one series out, but it's so good and I rarely see anything about it!
Recommended: Hex Hall

4. Sarah Strohmeyer
I picked up Smart Girls Get What They Want, not expecting a whole lot. Boy, was I surprised! It's engaging, it moved quickly! Definitely recommended for contemporary fans.
Recommended: Smart Girls Get What They Want

5. Kasie West
I've only read one of her two books out so far, but I bought her second one, since I am super excited for it!
Recommended: Pivot Point

6. Ally Carter
If you haven't read anything by Ally Carter, please go do so right away! She is a phenomenal writer and I don't see enough on the blogs I follow about how awesome she is.
Recommended: I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You, Heist Society

I can only think of six! My problem with lists like these is I can only think of super popular books, and my mind draws a blank on any gems.

What authors do you think deserve more recognition? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Voyage Visit: The To Be Read Jar

So yesterday, I was sitting around my room at home thinking, "Wow I have a lot of books out from the library.; Not to mention the ones I own and the ones for my Nook..." And then I realized I had no idea what I wanted to read next after my current reads are finished. So I decided to create a TBR jar. Or mug, in my case. 

For this, I decided to do all the books I owned but hadn't read, books I had out from the library, and books on my Nook. To give you an idea on the number of books, I thought I would show a few pictures.
By my nightstand
My actual bookshelf
My other bookshelf
For my "jar", I used the Mug my initiates in Phi Sigma Pi made me last semester. It is almost full, which means I will hopefully never run out of things to read!

The rules are not that I have to finish the book that I draw, but that I have to give it a fair shot. This means 50-100 pages. If I'm not feeling it, but still think I might like it, it will go back in the jar. If it's really not my thing, it gets taken off the list. 

I will hopefully be choosing my first book from this jar sometime within the next week! Stay tuned to see what I get!

Happy travels! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins Review

Title: Spell Bound
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: March 13, 2012 by Hyperion

Plot summary from Goodreads:
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

My Thoughts:
This one definitely keeps you interested from start to finish with a lot of humor too. I would say this one is a lot more intense than the past two, even the end of Demonglass.   It's been interesting to see how the series developed from the first book.

I liked seeing her family dynamic change, considering the cliffhanger at the end of this one and the beginning of the this one. Sophie grew up a lot throughout the series, but I think she grew the most through this book. I was proud of her for her decisions.
I liked Archer a lot more in this one, though Cal still holds a special place in my heart. I also liked finally getting the full story on Archer in this one. 
Great series overall, I'd recommend it to people who liked Harry Potter, but also wanted more female characters and a YA feel. 

Have you read this series? What do you think?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins Review

Phot from Goodreads
Title: Demonglass
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: March 22nd, 2011 by Hyperion 

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (a.k.a. witches, shape-shifters, and faeries). But then she discovered the family secret, and the fact that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie's a demon, one of only two in the world-the other being her father. What's worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will either destroy her powers for good-or kill her. 
But once Sophie arrives, she makes a shocking discovery. Her new housemates? They're demons too. Meaning, someone is raising demons in secret, with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they're using Archer to do it. But it's not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she? 

My thoughts:
I really enjoy this series. The second installment of this trilogy reads as fast as the first. Never a dull moment with this series. Early on, there was the usual love triangle element introduced, as is relatively popular in ya literature. However, I wouldn't call it a "love triangle" as much as a "love complication". You see, Sophie really likes Archer and while I much preferred the other guy, it was obvious who she was going to choose. There was no triangle about it.

Jenna also returned in this book, but I think the relationship between her and Sophie changed and was a little less delightful than in the previous book. I can't put my finger on it as to why though. I think they were just both busy doing other things this book so they just didn't have that much interaction. I really enjoyed seeing Sophie develop a relationship with her father and learn more about being a demon from him. It was nice to see them develop a relationship, even if it was strained at times.

There were definitely a lot of interesting twists I didn't see coming, which was nice. The ending was really intense and I'm glad I had the next one handy, as I wanted to know what happened next right away!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July Goals

Hey. everyone! Last month, I did a post on my June goals, so I figured I could do the same for July. Fun Fact: July is one of my least favorite months. I feel like everything I plan during the summer happens in June, and then July sucks by comparison. But this month, I am determined to not let it get me down! So here are my goals for the month of July.

1. Read at least 4 books this month/ one book a week.
That's one book a week for the month. I feel like this is enough to help me get through my Summer Reading Challenge, but not overwhelming. Plus, I can give myself adequate breaks between books, which is nice.

2. Prepare for National Convention
I am going to Phi Sigma Pi's National Convention at the very end of this month (I leave the 31st!) And there's things I need to do in order to get ready, including printing flyers for my chapter's ICR event and proposed amendments. I super excited to go to Philadelphia though!

3. Save money! 
I want to start saving money for several reasons. One is that I want to improve on my spending habits and not do so much wasteful spending.

What are your goals for the month of July?  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Hex Hall Book Review

Photo from Goodreads
Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: March 2nd, 2010 by Hyperion 

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect
I read this book for the first time back in 2011 and didn't really think much of it. I liked it well enough, but I didn't have any real desire to read the second one. So I put it off, read other things, and eventually decided I should reread Hex Hall before I continued in the series. So I put that off and read other things, until I finally got around to it. 
And I really enjoyed it. Enough to increase my rating on Goodreads. 
I think what helped the second time around is that I got sucked into the school right away. I really like Sophie,  as I did the first time around, but I think my enjoyment of her also includes a little perspective I've gained since I first read the book. She can be a little bit teenager-y at times, but she is a teenage. 
There is a lot of world building in this book, which kinda goes alongside the plot progression. Sophie has a lot to learn about being a witch and her absentee father as well. It's a very face-paced story that will keep you interested long after you finish it.

The ending is probably the definition of a cliffhanger, but perhaps less so than Rick Riordan's endings. Thankfully, I had the next book in my possession, so the wait wasn't long.

As I said before, I really like Sophie as a character, but I also really enjoy the others as well. Jenna is a really interesting character. And I liked the trio of Elodie, Chaston, and Anna. Hopefully, some of them will make a reappearance in the series. I also liked Cal and Mrs. Casnoff from the school. Archer was a very interesting character, but I haven't decided how I feel about him yet.

Overall, I would recommend this book to people who like books about boarding schools with a paranormal twist. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Intimidating Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish

Hey, everyone! Today's top ten is 'Top Ten Most Intimidating Books" As always, these are in no particular order. Let's get started!

1. The Diviners by Libba Bray
I've been wanting to read this for a very long time. I've heard good things about it, it seems right up my alley, but it's so long! And that is what intimidates me. The length.

2. Emma by Jane Austen
I love Jane Austen., and I'm sure I would really enjoy Emma, but I just can't get into it. I think it's part length, part one of the last novels I haven't read by her. Whatever it is, I'm a little scared every time I start it.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This is another one I'm sure I would love, but just haven't read because it's a 'classic' and apparently I find that intimidating.

4. Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides 
I got this book on clearance at Half-Priced Books for a dollar. And I was really excited because I've heard a lot of good things about this author and I really want to read some of his books. But I also find his books intimidating as they're 'grown up" books (literary fiction) and I generally don't read a lot of literary fiction unless it's for school.

5. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
 I read a short story by Faulkner in my freshman year comp class and I really liked it. So I bought one of his novels. But I have yet to read it because reading Faulkner is serious work and you need to concentrate for hours on end in order to read it and understand it. And that's not a priority.

6. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkein
I grouped these together for simplicity sake. I'm sure there are some people yelling at their computer screen, "ERMEGERD, YOU HAVEN'T READ LOTR! AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A NERD!" I am aware, but there is such tremendous pressure to love these books, and I'm not sure I can live up to that.

7. The 5th Wave by Richard Yancy
There's been a lot of people loving this book recently, and while I am intrigued by it, I'm not so sure it's a me book.

8. The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
I've read Jennifer Donnelly's young adult books (Northern Lights and Revolution) and they are both excellent, intricately woven historical books. And I bought this one at a bookshop in Westport last year, but I have yet to read it. However, I just realized the main character and I have the same first name, which is cool and will work for my summer reading challenge.

9. The Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin
I find this one intimidating much of the same reason as The Lord of the Rings. There's just so much pressure to like this series and I can't take the heat.

10. Most nonfiction
What do you mean they write books about things that actually happened?

What books do you find intimidating? Tell me in the comments! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Double Sign-Up Post: Summer Lovin' and Summer Reading Challenge

Hey, everyone!

Today, I'm combining two posts into one. This is my sign-up post for Semi-Charmed Life's Summer 2013 Book Challenge and the Summer Lovin' Readathon

Semi-Charmed Life's Summer 2013 Book Challenge
This challenge starts July 1st and ends September 30th.No rereads are allowed and each book must be at least 200 pages. One book can only be used for one category. And speaking of categories, here they are and the books I have planned so far.

5 points: Freebie! Read any book you'd like, as long as it follows the above rules. :)
5:  Read a book that is less than 150 pages long. (Yes, this is an exception to the general rules! You're welcome haha.)
10: Read a book with a color in the title. 
10: Read a book that is not the first in its series. (And yes, it must be in a series.) The Elite by Kiere Cass
15: Read a book it seems everyone but you has read! If I Stay by Gayle Forman
15: Read a banned book. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
20: Read a book written by a celebrity. This can be a memoir or a fiction book published by someone who was already famous by another means (e.g. James Franco). 
20: Read a non-fiction book that is not a memoir. It can be pure non-fiction or narrative non-fiction. 
20: Read a book that takes place in a state you have never been in. If you have been to all 50 states, choose a book that takes place in a country you have never been in. Also do the latter option if you are not American. This one will come to me. 
25: Read a book that is at least 400 pages long. The Diviners by Libba Bray
25: Read a book with a main character who shares your first name. If you have an uncommon name and really can't find a book, let me know and we can come up with an alternative. :)
30: Read a book written by an author who was born in the same year as you

Unfortunately, I don't have it all planned out so it will be surprise for us all what I end up reading and how many points I will get. My first update post should go up August 1st. 

The next thing I am signing up for is the Summer Lovin' Readathon! This readathon starts today and goes until the 7th! I will be updating my progress on my Goodreads account. 

I've been wanting to do a readathon for awhile, but when I tried to do one in May, but it failed epically since I was still recovering from the semester. However, I will be attempting to do one again. 

My goals right now is to finish what I'm reading now, Pivot Point,  as soon as possible. Then I have at least three books with me to get me through until I go home. Ideally, I was thinking I would start The Diviners  during this readathon, but I don't think that will be happening. 

Are you participating in either of these? Let me know in the comments! 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Favorites

Hey, everyone! I can't believe it's already the end of June (or Sunday for that matter!) This month just flew by! Here are some favorites from this month!
Not pictured: Perfect Scoundrels and Hex Hall 
Favorite Books
Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter (Review here)

Shades series by Maureen Johnson (Review of The Madness Underneath here)

Hex hall series by Rachel Hawkins (Review of Hex Hall up soon!)

Favorite Music
Kill your heroes- AWOLNATION
This song is my favorite of theirs that I've heard. I've become really fond of AWOLNATION recently.

Global concepts- Robert Delong
This song reminds me of my anthropology class I took over the summer. Plus, it's a really interesting song.

Cruise remix- Florida Georgia Line ft. Nelly

One of my friends declared this"The Song of Summer". And it's so ridiculous I can't help but agree.

"Cups (Pitch Perfect's "When I'm Gone") by Anna Kendrick
I've never seen the movie Pitch Perfect, but I really enjoy this song because it's just so catchy.

Trip to St. Louis to spend time with friends.
Got back into reading at the end of the month.
Not a favorite, but survived my first inventory at work.
Got my apartment!

Things I'm looking forward to in July
Spending the fourth with Kelly and possibly his family
Leaving for Philadelphia at the end of the month with Jessica!

What are some of your favorites from this month? Let me know in the comments! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Madness Underneath Review

Photo from Goodreads
Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Published: February 26th, 2013 by Putnam

Plot Summary from Goodreads:
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

Maybe because I read this one right after reading the first book in this series, but this one felt a lot shorter than the first one. In fact, I just looked at my copies of both these books and this one is a little less than 100 pages shorter than the first. Well, that explains it. I do feel like less happened in it.

I feel like this book is divided into two parts. The first half is more related to what happened in the first book and the second half felt like it was setting up for the final book (release date not until 2014 =[ ). And while I am still really upset about the ending, I also felt this book went from not much happening to everything happening at once. 

There were several new characters introduced, and not to give too much away but I was suspicious about a few of them from the start. And while I would like more of an explanation on their motives, I'm looking forward to seeing them again in the final book. 

I adored Rory in the first book, but in this one, she got on my nerves a little bit. She had been through a lot in the first book, and I think she was still recovering in this book and dealing with a lot of angst. And while angst is generally a no-no in young adult fiction, I think this a time where angst was accurately depicted. Teenage years are full of angst, especially if you're dealing with extraordinary things. Just ask Harry Potter. 

Overall, while I didn't love this book as much as I loved the first book, I did really like it and I will definitely be reading the last one when it comes out! 

P.S. With the death of GFC, you can now follow my blog on Bloglovin! Check it out! 
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Hey, everyone! I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in forever, so I thought I would give it a shot this week. BUT, since I haven't read that much in 2013, I thought I would do the one from last week, Top Ten Books at the Top of my Summer TBR list.

1. The Diviners by Libba Bray
I have been wanting to read this book for forever, so when I found a copy at Half-Priced Books at the beginning of the summer, I decided to buy it! I really enjoyed Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy and I want to read more of her books.

2. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
E&E is another book I've been really excited about for a really long time, and yet have not read it. Unfortunately, I do not own this one, so I will have to rely on the library for it. It reminds me of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series, and since I adore Ally Carter's books, I think I will like this.

3. The Elite by Kiera Cass
I really liked The Selection, but I've only recently become very excited about The Elite. One night, I was trying to decide what to read next, and I really wanted to read this. But I am only number four on hold for my library so I must wait.

4. The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
I'm really excited for this movie, but my inner nerd tells me I must read the book first before I see it. However, procuring this book will be rather difficult as it would appear neither of my libraries carry the book.

5. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld 
I borrowed this book from my boyfriend ages ago... and still haven't read it.

6. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I started this at the beginning of the summer and have yet to finish it, so I'm planning to soon!

7. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I bought this for my Nook when it was on sale, and haven't read it. I'll do this occasionally.

8. How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
I read Smart Girls Get What They Want last winter and absolutely loved it! (I also love the new covers!). So I figured I'd give another of her books a shot!

9. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I saw a review of this on the Perpetual Pageturner's blog ages ago and it sounded like something I would love, so I picked up at the library and I'm really excited to read it!

10. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
Truthfully, this is the one I will probably read next, as I'm a currently halfway through Demonglass and am hoping to pick it up at the library tomorrow.