February Monthly Recap & Introducing a New Feature

I've decided to do monthly recaps in order to review what happened on my blog this month, as well as share some personal things I've done throughout the month. You know...what television shows are currently interesting me now that I finally have Netflix, what movies I've recently seen, and what Broadway shows I had the luck to see. I figured since everyone here is my go to fangirl community, then we can fangirl over non book related things, too! This post idea was inspired by Christina's monthly recaps.

~*~On The Blog~*~

Books Reviewed:
Half Bad by Sally Green - 5 stars
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski - 4.5 stars
Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi - 4 stars 
Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas - 4 stars
Proxy by Mindee Arnett - 3.5 stars
Avalon by Mindee Arnett - 3.5 stars

Books Reviewed on Tynga's Reviews:
Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi - 3 stars


Discussion Posts:
  1. My birthday happened this month, and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for making this year special already. 
  2. I did a post about how re-reading, re-watching, and re-seeing books, television shows, and Broadway shows isn't always that great. In other words, the second time ain't always fine. I'm actually super proud of this post and would really love some more opinions on it. This is stemming from my experience of seeing Mamma Mia! for the second time and not enjoying it at all. 
  3. Yesterday I brought up the topic of novellas. Do you love them or do you hate them? I used to be on one side and now I am on the other, so I'd love to hear other opinions too!
College Blogging 101 Posts:
College blogging 101 launched this month and the first 4 posts are up! Please check them out as I am hoping that this feature can last a while!
  1. Our first post was written by me and the topic was about cushioning the experience from transitioning to college blogging after high school blogging. It's really different but entirely do-able if you put your mind to it.
  2. Gaby from Queen Ella Bee Reads stopped by for our second post and discussed the huge conundrum about when the proper time to start a blog is. Check it out if you are thinking of starting a blog in college!
  3. I tackled the third post on the topic of whether or not it is worth getting a co-blogger in college and explained why I never plan on getting one.
  4. In contrast, Krista from Nawanda Files shares her personal experiences with having a co-blogger and how it saved her blog in college. There are totally positives to having co-bloggers too!

~*~What I've Been Watching~*~ 
TV:
  1. I began watching Legend of Korra season one at the suggestion of several friends because I freaking adored Avatar and watched all four seasons in a week back in high school. I've got to admit that the first five or so episodes really turned me off, but once the ball got rolling there was no stopping it. Korra isn't as easily likable as Ang. Where he is young and childish, she's stubborn and trying to assert her independence as a teenager still on the brink of adulthood. In the end, she's pretty damn awesome and I absolutely adored her best friends and other acquaintances in this series. Nobody can beat Sokka, though.
  2. Obviously, after watching season one I immediately jumped into season two of Legend of Korra at my RA's (resident adviser's) insistence because he says it's even better then season one. He was right. I blew through this season in a mere two days it was so good and I lost out on some valuable sleep because of it, but I wouldn't have it any other way. The plot twists in this one can only be described as intense and it blows season one out of the water. If you are a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, give this sequel series a chance, but don't allow the first few episodes of season one to discourage you. There's got to be some world-building and background information somewhere, right?
  3. If you have paid attention to my Twitter feed at all late at night, you'll come to know that I am now obsessed with Once Upon A Time. I started watching this show because fairytale re-tellings are my addiction and this concept had me enamored. Plus, I wanted to be able to continue watching it when my friends pick up with season three in the beginning of March. Suffice to say, season one was absolutely amazing. The acting is not only great, but there's a lot of surprises and it's absolutely fascinating to see how every character's fairytale story relates to others. The season ending was a killer and it made me start season two immediately, so updates on that upon its completion next month. But, ladies, take a moment to watch this series for Sheriff Graham and David. That's all I've gotta say.

Movies:
  1. The first movie I watched this month was Eurotrip. It's pretty much this story of a nerdy high school kid whose hot girlfriend, Fiona, breaks up with him the day of graduation. He's devastated and rants to his long-distance European e-mail pen-pal whose gender he ends up mixing up and before he knows it, he convinced the hottest girl he knows to block him on e-mail after getting a little too drunk one night. Oh, let's not forget to mention that this girl is the potential love of his life. He simply has to take his best friend on a European adventure to hunt her down and tell her how he really feels before it's too late. To put it simply, this movie is bad in the best possible way. It's raunchy, it's full of cliches and sex, and hilarious escapades ensue. It was sort of an "in the moment" pick and I can't say I regret anything. My friend Carolyn and I were cackling, though I can see many people disliking it. All things aside, Michelle Tratchenberg is in it and is very different from her character in Ice Princess. This movie also gave us the musical gem "Scotty Doesn't Know" performed by a punked out Matt Damon. Check it out here.
  2. It's a mostly weekly tradition (except for this month) for some of my friends and I to have a movie night every Friday night, so we picked The Descendents because a) I had it on my laptop and b) one of us had never seen it before and that is blasphemy. George Clooney plays the father of two rebellious daughters whose wife is in a coma and about to die after flipping a boat during a race. Their marriage was on the rocks for a while and upon the realization that she is going to die, he finds out she was cheating on him. Clooney begins chasing down the man she loved all over Hawaii while struggling to figure out whether to sell his family's large amount of land and managing his children's lives. It's an amazing movie that leaves me breathless every time I watch it because it simply is so well done. This movie showcases Shailene Woodley's amazing acting abilities and it also shows how hilarious it is to watch George Clooney run in a dramatic fashion while wearing boating shoes. It's seriously laugh worthy despite that specific scene being so powerful.
  3. The movie night crew and I decided to bring back a blast from the past by watching Kiki's Delivery Service. Need I really say anything about this amazing movie that we all grew up with? Kiki is a witch with a talking black cat, Gigi. They go to a new town when she is thirteen for her to learn how to be a proper witch. While there she is taken under the wing of  kind bakery owner who helps her start her own delivery service. She meets friends, specifically Tombo, and learns to be happy with her abilities in regards to flying a broom. Sad fact that my friend broke my heart with: the reason Gigi stops talking half way through the movie is because the man voicing him passed away during recording. How terrible!
  4. The last movie that I watched this month a mere two days before this month ended was Sydney White. Several people on my floor plus myself were sitting in our lounge reminiscing about old school Amanda Bynes and how much we missed her. A commercial came on advertising this movie and I admitted I've never seen it. Many of them, guys included, forced me to watch it. So I curled up in my room alone with a bowl of popcorn on a Wednesday night and saw what all the fuss is about. Let me tell you, I really miss old school Amanda Bynes. This movie is a hilariously dorky and adorable Snow White re-telling taking place in a college with evil sororities and seven dorks who actually make the best of friends. If you like her old movies like What A Girl Wants at all, then you should definitely give this one a chance.
Broadway Shows & A New Feature:
I have also seen many broadway shows this month! I discovered the wonder's of student discounts in regards to Broadway and I am officially in love. So, I've been enjoying my ability to see shows and have decided to introduce a new feature here at Lili's Reflections called "The Broadway Review!" Scattered randomly throughout the month will be reviews of all the Broadway shows I have seen while being a student here at Pace. This won't have a planned schedule since it's in accordance to when I see shows, but I've got reviews of Cinderella (without Fran and Carly), Newsies, Mamma Mia!, The Twelfth Night, and The Glass Menagerie definitely coming up. Some shows that I have plans to see and will eventually definitely get reviewed are Pippin, Once, The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, If/Then, and Cinderella (with Carly and Fran!). Keep in mind these will be mini reviews since I can't say I'm great at reviewing shows, but I thought this would be a fun feature to bring something new to the blog.

The only shows that I have seen in the past that will not be featured are Big Fish because it is off Broadway, Hairspray because it is off Broadway, and Wicked because I have to see it again in all of its glory in order to truly appreciate it.

Tapings:
  1. I saw Amy Adams at Inside The Actor's Studio! My college happens to be the home of the Michael Schimmel Theater for the Arts, which is where Inside The Actor's Studio is hosted. The very first week of this month, Amy Adams stopped by to promote American Hustle. We laughed and cried and had an amazing three hours of filming together (well, the two of us and the other 600 audience members). But, hey, I got in for free and this was one of the most fun things I have ever done in my life. I will certainly do this again, though I'm bummed I missed the cast of How I Met Your Mother stopping by since I was busy with my birthday and everything.
So, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you like this new feature and recommend me keeping it? What are your thoughts on my new Broadway feature? What shows are you currently watching and have you watched any of mine? Comment below!

Novellas, Si o No?


Sorry for the title, I'm in an Italian mood this morning.

Novellas...before I was a blogger I hated them. I didn't understand the purpose of them. What is the point of paying a dollar to read a little book that is less then 100 pages when you can pay a little bit more for the full story? I know I wasn't alone in this belief.

It didn't matter that some of my favorite stories came out of novellas, a great example being Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King. I still hated them.

But now, with novellas coming out left and right, I'm beginning to realize that in some cases they are sort of a genius marketing ploy. It's become a mini movement in the young adult industry.


There have been times where I was so desperate for more of a story that I turned to the novellas to be in the author's world just a little bit more while my wait for the next book dragged on. This most recently happened with Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME novellas, Brigid Kemmerer's ELEMENTALS series as well as Sarah J. Maas's THRONE OF GLASS prequel novellas. For the most part, these stories wowed me.

But then there are other novellas that I feel like are just there. Katie McGarry's PUSHING THE LIMITS novellas feel as if they were there to serve as a filler. And that's saying a lot because I adore Katie McGarry. I just can't say I saw any sense in Crossing The Line.

But, that takes me back to my first point. What's the point of paying for such a little story? The sad truth is that I am your a-typical broke college student that has no money. I can't afford to spend a dollar on a book when it can get me a yogurt in the supermarket at the moment. Thus, I decide to wait for novellas to be put out for free or to go on sale and then I hoard them when I need some quick reading material.

Novellas often go on sale when the release date of the next actual novel in the series approaches. And, if not, there are little deals here and there with them throughout the year. Some are just free from the get-go. Then there are superpower publishers like Tor who just make many novellas available for free to us and I just want to get on my hands and knees and thank the heavens for such a reading gift. It caters to broke bloggers like myself and makes me happy. Thank you, Tor.


If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can check out their series and comics here.

Novellas, I've discovered, are just as interesting as your average novel. They tell their own type of story when they are written right. They saturate your hunger and hint at what is to come while keeping your interest. And they're a slowly growing force in the book blogging community. I regret ever having doubt in them for their admittedly slightly steep prices.

I often find myself turning to a novella every now and then when my reading progress in a book is too slow. It gets a review up that I would hope interests others and it gets me back into my reading groove because novellas are typically so easy to get through. They're sort of the best type of help a blogger could ask for in regards to reviewing. 

They're also a really great distraction in my lecture hall when my Professor begins to drone about his family.

Novellas deserve a hug, if you ask me.


~*~*~*~

Have your views of novellas changed while you have been part of the blogosphere? Do you value them or dislike them? Why? Let's get this discussion going! I'm really curious.

Review: Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 336 (ARC)
Source: Edelweiss
Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all...
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

As the cover of this book suggests, this is a really cute read. There's no other way to describe this besides saying it is full of adorableness and banter and fluffiness that makes one beyond happy inside. It's the perfect read for any reader who likes a bit of fluff in their life every now and then and I highly recommend it.

Our main character is named Heart LaCoeur. Honestly, I saw this name and cringed a little. I'm all for originality in regards to naming characters, but her name is seriously cringe-worthy. However, I like how Czukas took this as a way to make the story realistic and instead had our main character get picked on for her name. Sure, it's rather childish, but I really loved this touch of realism. With that in mind, I adored Heart. I found her to be one of the most hilarious characters I have come across in a while. She really carries the book and makes it unique, though I can easily see some readers being less then amused by her antics because she does possess such a strong and unique personality.

It came as no surprise to me that Heart got three offers to Prom. Hell, I would want to attend Prom with such an awesome girl. Her friends happily named their group the No-Drama-Prom-A asked her to go, her brother's best friend Troy asked her to go, and Ryan asked her to go. All three of the above options are not date material, but she owes something to every individual. She doesn't want to break any hearts and let anyone down so she engages in some terrible indecisiveness that leads to some seriously twisty prom escapades as the chapters alternate between her date options.

I think that my favorite aspect of this novel was the awesome cast of supporting characters. Theater people really stick together. If you think it was bad in high school, imagine how it is when you go to an amazing performing arts college in New York City (like I do). My personal experiences with theater people in college made me love Heart's group even more than the average reader because of the fact that I just get how it is to have people that understand you better than anyone else. It does help that all of her friends are awesome and easily memorable because of their unique yet outrageous personalities as well.

The book alternates between what would happen if she went with Troy and what would happen if she went with Ryan. There was cuteness, there was adorableness, there was some weirdness that had me rolling my eyes--but I couldn't have asked for a better book. While the dual perspectives and overall outcome is reminiscent of the way that Pivot Point by Kasie West is written, Ask Again Later stands completely apart as its own super fluffy and funny Prom read depicting the trials and tribulations of your averagely amazing high-school girl.

If you like fluff and laughter then this is a book for you.


4 stars

~*~Links~*~

FTC Disclaimer: I received no form of compensation in exchange for my honest review.

College Blogging 101: The Pro's of Having a Co-Blogger


College Blogging 101 is a weekly meme hosted by Lili's Reflections where a variety of hosts answer questions and give advice in regards to blogging in college. The purpose of this is to help upcoming college students and to create an open discussion forum. If you would like to write a guest post, please fill out this form. If you have a question you want answered, please fill out this form.

This week's guest post is brought to you by Krista of Nawanda Files. In contrast to my post last week, Krista has enjoyed having a co-blogger and feels as if it saved her blog while experiencing college, so this is a different perspective to see which option may appeal to you more.

~*~*~*~

If you’re blogging in college, then this is the ultimate question you should be asking yourself: to get a co-blogger or not? Because, let’s be honest, college eats your time. Blogging is also a time consuming affair. So this question will go through your head more than once. I ran Nawanda Files alone my junior year of college, but after this was happening to me…


I decided it was time to call in backup. I was lucky enough to have a twin sister who offered to help. So I’m here at Lili’s Reflections today to talk about the pros of getting a co-blogger.



MORE “YOU” TIME.

This is the most obvious and biggest reason to reach out and get a co-blogger. Blogging is TIME CONSUMING. Between reading, posting, commenting, and reviewing, you can see that blogging becomes a time bandit. Add college: tests, clubs, studying, labs (they are hella long!) and social time (even fun, this stuff takes time too). Then you can see that college + blogging = one big time suck. 
 

Having another blogger immediately divides your work. Even if your co-blogger only blogs two out of the seven days, it’s still time they’re giving back to you. Overall, co-blogging relieves stress.



MORE FRESH IDEAS.

After a while, if you’re chugging along and doing the same old things on your blog, you may fall into the dreadful “blogging slump.” It’s happened to me many times. The great thing about co-bloggers is that two heads are always better than one! Coming up with new memes or features, something fresh and cool is a whole hell of a lot easier when you’re bouncing ideas off someone else. With the two of you, you could even come up with something BEYOND brilliant!



 
Plus, these ideas can be complicated! Want to throw a month-long contest? Want to have a feature with crazy graphics and more work than one person can manage? It’s possible with a co-blogger. You don’t have to do something simple and easy if you have someone else helping you out. Note: I still usually do the simple and easy thing. Who’s an underachiever *points to self* this girl.



YOU CAN STILL HAVE CONTROL.

I’m a control-freak. I fully admit it. I have issues handing over my baby…I mean my blog…to other people. Especially someone I only know from a one-page questionnaire. That’s why a few months ago (when I was super stressed for time) I realized that I didn’t just need a co-blogger, I needed guest reviewers. These people are freakin’ life savers.


  So how this works is my guest reviewer reads the books I send her (usually from Netgalley) and she sends me her reviews in a word doc. I still have full control over uploading/formatting the review to my blog, and she saves me so much time. Because what eats up blogging time (at least for me) isn’t writing reviews or composing posts, but actually reading the book.



WAYYYYY MORE FUN.

This is my favorite point. I loved blogging before I nudged my sister to join me on Nawanda Files, but it was a completely different experience afterwards. It became ours and something that was much more enjoyable and fun. And I know many other bloggers who’ve become great friends with their co-blogger. It can truly be an awesome experience. 


Thank you, Lili, for having me on your blog today!!!
 
~*~*~*~

Next week's post: I answer the question of where to store books in your admittedly small dorm room! There's certainly some creative solutions to this problem.
Next next week's post: Kelly from Effortlessly Reading is going to stop by and explain how to find books at college if you're unable to bring them from home. Two birds with two posts, guys!

Do you have a co-blogger or do you not have a co-blogger? Weigh in on this discussion below!

Stacking the Shelves #60 & Giveaway Winners


 Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Gifted from Bekka (thank you!)
Be With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout



Gifted from Inky (Thank you!)
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Miles

Gifted from Carolyn (Thanks, girl!)

Trade
Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Bought 
Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Won at Harper Dark Days Event
Death Sworn by Leah Cypress
Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

~*~Giveaway Winners~*~

Sheryl S. won CRESS and Lorie P. won ELUSION! Hope you both enjoy them and thank you for responding to your e-mails so prompty! 


What did you add to your shelves this week?

The Second Time Ain't Always Fine


Lately, a sad fact of life has been hitting me hard...the second time ain't always fine. I think this in regards to many things, books and movies and shows in particular.


Heartbreaking, right? Things that I loved once when I was younger just aren't as great the second time around. This realization struck me when I picked up one of my favorite books from age thirteen and was shocked that I once loved it. But it really struck home when I went to see Mamma Mia! on Broadway earlier this month.

I saw Mamma Mia with my sister, my mom, and my aunt for the first time for my thirteenth birthday. We all absolutely adored it. Now, I saw it at age eighteen, about eight days before my nineteenth birthday for free with my college because I was housing a prospective student overnight. I can't say I enjoyed it. On a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome and one being "shield your eyes, children!" I would give it a 4.5 rating. It's the same story, the same dancing and songs, but the acting and my expectations have been depleted greatly. It doesn't matter how awesome ABBA is, it can't save a sinking ship.


And it got me thinking...why am I so surprised that this sucked? In regards to books the answer is obvious, when I was thirteen my taste in books was not refined. I was not reading the types of books I read now and I didn't understand what created a good book. Now I do, thus the shock of books that once meant so much to me. I'm honestly a little scared to reread other old favorites for fear of losing the happiness and love that I initially associated with them.

I can't believe I was once so non-bookish and naive.
In regards to Mamma Mia! I am absolutely lost. I called my mother upon returning to my dorm room and we both reminisced about how absolutely awesome our cast was and how we both loved it. Certainly it wasn't naivety that made me love the show if my mother, over forty years old at the time, adored it just as much as I did. What changed? I'm going to sit here and hope that it is the fact that it's nearing the end of its Broadway run and is on its way out, so the acting and talent isn't what it once was. 

So now I've been sitting here and just thinking...is re-reading worth it sometimes? Or re-watching and re-seeing? There are times where I have been utterly disappointed. I mean...Mamma Mia! Here we go again! But then there have been times that I've been just as blown away as I was the first time I read a book, like The Book Thief, or seen a movie, like Catching Fire.

What do you think contributes to this trend? Age and naivety creating blinders on our eyes or a big case of "I loved you more than I should have" syndrome? Please comment below with your thoughts, I'm super curious. Do you think it's worth rereading books that once meant so much, though your opinions may be tainted now that you are a more experienced reader?

But, whatever you think this is, I know one thing is for certain...Though the Broadway show sucks, at least I still have the movie masterpiece.

Yum!

Waiting on Wednesday #45


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.

My pick of the week is...

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.
~*~Why I Am Waiting~*~

It's no secret that Sarah Fine and I are good friends. I was acknowledged in her recent book, FRACTURED, and it's only natural that this makes me super excited for her next publication. I'm especially excited for checking this one out for two reasons. One: it takes place in a slaughterhouse which really creeps me out, so this is my way of fulfilling my promise to myself to read a book that is out of my comfort zone in 2014. And two: there is an individual of Asian descent on the cover, which intriuges me since this is so rare for young adult fiction.

Don't forget to link me to your WoW picks!

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger/Reader


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

In no particular order I love being a blogger and reader because of...

1. My friends. All of you understand me and some of you I simply cannot live without. I would not have met you if not for being a blogger.

2. My fellow bloggers. You guys keep me going and help me create new ideas for my blog. Thank you for challenging me to keep up with everyone else.

3. My readers. As stupid as it seems, you motivate me to be a better and focused person. Every comment makes me so happy, you have no idea. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read my blog and show me that my work is appreciated.

4. I have an escape. Where do people that don't read escape to?! I don't get it! Everyone needs an escape!

5. I've discovered so many new books. I never would have discovered half of my favorite books if not for the blogosphere. This is also attributed to the fact that the blogosphere has taught me how not to be a cover snob.

6. I have befriended authors. I've finally realized that they are not untouchable, but they're real people too.

7. I've solidified my choice in my future career. I know that whatever I do, I must always be surrounded by books.

8. I finally understand my taste in books. I no longer have to waste money on crappy pieces of literature that make me cringe.

9. I always have something to talk about. Even if someone doesn't care, I've got a new book that I can prattle on about forever.

10. I have perfected the art of fangirling. If I have introduced you to a new book, then you have the blogosphere to thank for this.

Don't forget to link me to your TTT posts!

Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Series: Shatter Me #3
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
Source: Bought
The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, called "a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love"

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew-about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam-was wrong.

In Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi created a captivating and original story that combined the best of dystopian and paranormal and was praised by Publishers Weekly as "a gripping read from an author who's not afraid to take risks." The sequel, Unravel Me, blew readers away with heart-racing twists and turns, and New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia said it was "dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense." Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and climactic end.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This is, perhaps, the hardest review I have ever had to write. Normally, the hardest reviews I have ever written are five star reviews because it's so hard to properly explain why you love a book. but this book takes the cake. Why, you may ask? Because I so desperately wanted this book to be a five star book, and it simply isn't. This book has no plot, there was a lot of unnecessary character changing though there was some phenomenal character growth, and there was no additional world-building. Yet, in all truth, this book was beyond emotionally satisfying, hence my need to explain my very hesitant four star rating, though my complete frustration at the fact that I can't talk about so much in order to avoid insane spoilers.

This book picked up exactly where book two left off. A lot of people think other people are dead, there's no real certainty about what is going on in the world, and sides are drastically changing. The wonderfully dramatic chaos of war as at its peak and I loved every minute of it.

But the plot that was so important in book one and book two were nearly nonexistent in this book. I have to say there was no additional world-building as well. This book focused on revealing some huge secrets and planning for a huge event that will currently remain nameless that happened in the last forty pages and was overwith way too fast. There was over 350 pages of build-up for the book to be over all too soon. I found this to be incredibly frustrating. I was left with a lot of questions about the future that I am not emotionally and mentally prepared for them to remain unanswered.

The other thing that this book has is a lot of boy drama. Most of it is completely unnecessary because, to put it simply, Mafi sort of decimated the character growth of one of the leading men in Juliette's life to make the other man so domineering and perfect. And, well, he is perfect and I ship them hard, but I don't like the way she went about this. Though my ship docked successfully, it still felt like Mafi was catering to one team more then the other. The boy that was characteristically slaughtered, so to speak, showed no redeeming qualities until almost the very end of the book, which just wasn't right. Both Warner and Adam changed drastically. Mafi says this was her plan all along, but even I sit here slightly dissatisfied with how she presented the changes in both characters. Juliette went along with things a bit too easy in regards to one case and things were unnecessarily out of control in the other case. That's how things were in this book...too easy or too hard, and unfortunately the big showdown was also way too easy to be real.

These character mishaps, the lack of true plot, and the easy showdown disappointed me severely. I don't know how else to put it.

With that in mind, there was a lot of sexytimes in this book that made me explode with happiness. Seriously, if there is one thing Mafi knows how to write....just wow. But, all things aside, I was really happy to fall back into Mafi's poetic writing style. She immediately reintroduced it to us when trapped in Juliette's thoughts in the first chapter and in moments of intense emotion such beautiful writing returned and only intensified my feelings. I will never get enough of her beautiful story-telling.

The best part of this book was Juliette. She grew in ways I never thought imaginable. Last book when she had to be rebuilt a second time might as well have not existed. This girl's power is on the rise and there ain't nobody out there able to stop it. She's truly invincible and watching her finally realize that she is strong and able to stand on her own two feet was moving. Furthermore, watching her realize that she is loved by many and her coming to terms with her new family was great as well.

And, most importantly, there's the comic relief in this book. Kenji...how much I adore you is indescribable. Though I had several issues with this book, Kenji's constant comic relief often kept me from boiling over in moments of rage. Just like I can't let this story or Juliette or my ship go, I'm not ready to let Kenji go either. He needs his own series, I am telling you. Let's just revel in his hilariousness for a bit, shall we?

"I know I am an extremely attractive man, J, but I am not Bruce Lee."
"Who's Bruce Lee?
"Who's Bruce Lee?" Kenji asks, horrified. "Oh my God. We can't even be friends anymore."
"Why? Was he a friend of yours?
"You know what," he says, "just stop. Just--I can't even talk to you right now."

"You're not an ape, don't just throw your shit everywhere."

"I'll buy you a balloon the second the world stops shitting on itself."

"This shit is bananas!"

In the end, this is going to make some people really happy and some people really pissed off. I'm emotionally satisfied but analytically disappointed. Even then, this finale is unavoidable. It's not the best way to say good-bye to such a beloved series, but it certainly gets the job done in its own, interesting way.

Mafi, I simply cannot wait to see what you have in store for us next.


 
4 stars

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Today's My Birthday? What!

You heard it right! On this day, nineteen years ago, I was brought into the universe. What a monumental moment, eh? ;)


But really, that's beside the point. The point is that today marks the day of my 19th birthday and it took 19 years for me to be really happy. I don't know what it is about 2014, but this is the year of looking up for me. The end of 2013, really the last three and a half months spent at college, was probably one of the lowest points of my life. I was past the point of misery to say the least and even contemplated leaving my school at one point. Things were tough.

But here we are, a mere month and a half into a new year, and things are already looking up. I can't say I've had great birthdays recently. I failed my drivers test on my birthday two years ago, last year I fell on my ass and nearly died while I was also sick. The list goes on. But this year, I'm content. More then content really, I'm happy. Thus, 2014 is looking bright.

I think that this is in large part due to my trip to Israel. As I said before, this trip changed me. Though it may not have been religiously, it definitely affected my temperament and the way I look at the world. I don't let the negative things effect me as much and I'm trying to be more positive. The annoying people that annoy me prove to be a source of laughter instead of distaste. Like the girl who is sitting in my lounge currently talking about how she is such a slut and wants to have some steamy sex. Girl, I'm laughing so hard you're giving me some amazing abs. Keep the insanity that causes nobody to take you seriously coming.


But, really, a huge part of my happiness is thanks to reconnecting with all of my blogging friends. I wasn't that active with any of you during my first semester and I seriously think that contributed to my misery. The people who I can rant to no matter what and will listen to everything I have to say and simply understand were not in my life. So, today's really a day to thank you!

I don't feel like I have to sit here and write paragraphs upon paragraphs detailing why I love each and every one of you because I hope, by now, you know how much you mean to me.

So thanks...

Gillian, Christina, Ellis, Krista, Becca, Jennifer, Bekka, Jenni, Kelly, Jon, Meg, Alexa, Stephanie, Tynga, Jenn, Helen, Christianna, Gaby, Shae, Summer, Samantha, Steph, Kara, Jenni, Blythe, Katie, Molli, Jessie, Montana, Hannah, Liza, Inky, Jamie, Angie, Nelli, and so many more that I can't even name you all.

Some of you I have known for a while, some of you I haven't known for long, but you all mean something to me, even if you don't know it. I love having all of you in my life. Thanks for everything and, well, you know...keeping me sane. <3

    Just because I can...

    College Blogging 101: Co-bloggers...Yay or Nay?


    College Blogging 101 is a weekly meme hosted by Lili's Reflections where a variety of hosts answer questions and give advice in regards to blogging in college. The purpose of this is to help upcoming college students and to create an open discussion forum. If you would like to write a guest post, please fill out this form. If you have a question you want answered, please fill out this form.

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    Whether or not to get a co-blogger to lighten the workload is a huge question in the blosophere today, not just for college students. So many individual blogs are turning into outright group blogs or at least a co-blogged blog. I can't complain, I am part of Tynga's Reviews and I love knowing that there are five other people helping out to lessen the workload, even though I'm actually one of the ones helping out, but that's beside the point.

    As much as I love the help that other bloggers offer, I will never get a co-blogger. That's just me, though. So, I want to discuss why I won't even fathom getting a co-blogger, but next week's post will be all about from the positive experiences of having a co-blogger in college to help you get the full viewpoint on both sides.

    The simplest way to put my reasoning behind never getting a co-blogger is my blog title: LILI'S Reflections. That's my name, not someone else's. It's not a generic title where anyone can join in. It signifies one person only, and that is me.


    I'm really territorial of this blog, and I think that's mainly because I never thought it would blossom to what it is today. I still remember freaking out the day that I got my first follower, Amy. Or when I got my first comment on a review....the day I got my first blog design and came up with my name. It doesn't matter that this blog was started on a whim, it was started as a place for me to escape and not stress. Plus, I'm really terrible with remembering the endings of books so it served as an awesome way to remember past reads. I could love a book with my entire being and still forget 90% of it within a year because my memory sucks, but when it's been jogged it all comes back to me--which is the original reason I started this blog.

    I'm a book snob with a bad memory.
    This blog served as my escape from reality. I've only just begun sharing it with people in the real world because I love that it allows me to just...get away. I love that it is fun for me and not a chore. And, yes, I will admit it's not super easy to blog in college, but I'm surrounded by people who accept my weird reading quirks and allow me to do nutty things in reaction to insane moments in books in the middle of our television lounge. I'm happy with my blog continuing and if that means less reviews a month, so be it. I'm not ready to let my little piece of sanity go yet.

    Well, Lili, if your review count is lower in college, why not get that co-blogger to raise it up?

    A co-blogger normally requires a sense of responsibility. This was my blog originally, so I have to not only teach them my ways, but the things I expect of them. I have to check up on them however much I see fit, make sure their first few reviews don't shame authors or are rude before I begin to trust their reviewing style. I'm not saying I have to babysit them, but I've gotta keep a close eye on them. I have to put the hammer down when necessary and turn into a boss. That sounds like more work then play to me, doesn't it?
    That is not what this blog is for.
    This all brings me back to my name: LILI'S Reflections. My name is on this blog so the content of this blog will be reflected on me. My blog is on my resume' in regards to bookish jobs and I'm responsible for everything that goes up on this blog, scandalous or not. Well, I actually do welcome a little scandal every now and then, actually. Giveaway goblins, anyone? I don't want negativity and I don't want waves. I don't want the risk of being brought into the limelight for negativity when I didn't do anything. Sure, it may have been the co-blogger's actions, but I was the one who chose that co-blogger, which makes me responsible for everything they do since this blog has my name on it.

    Perhaps my feelings towards a co-blogger would be slightly different if I chose a more generic blog name without my name in it, but I wanted this. I wanted something that was solely mine and that is what Lili's Reflections is. In times of distress, I employ guest bloggers, like what I do twice a month for this feature. I tell them that this is still my blog, but I'll very clearly state that that content belongs to them and not me. And I do. And, in all honesty, that's the closest I will ever get to having a co-blogger unless something incredibly drastic changes in my life that forces me to find one before I am emotionally and mentally ready to let my blog go.


    That's not to say that co-bloggers will hurt your blog at all. In most cases that I have heard of, it's helped the blog thrive. But if you're employing them to give you a break, don't kid yourself. You may be writing less posts, but you're leading a new individual and have to answer their questions and help them out in place of those posts. It makes your life easier, but you're not exactly home free with less responsibilities. With that being said, I've rarely heard of negative co-blogger experiences. It's just my stubborness and extreme territorial ways in regards to my blog that prohibit me from welcoming a co-blogger.

    After all, this blog isn't called Lili and Co.'s Reflections, is it?

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    Next week's post: Krista from Nawanda Files weighs in with the opposite opinion about why it is so helpful to have a co-blogger in college while sharing her personal experiences.

    Next next week's post: I share convenient ways to store books in your admittedly tiny dorm room so that you'll never have to leave such a luxury behind.

    Comment below with your thoughts and personal experiences below. Do you think you will get a co-blogger or are you a lone soldier like me?

    Stacking The Shelves #59--Birthday Part 1


    Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

    I got some amazing books this week, starting with my birthday books!

    For Review from Macmillan (Thank you!)
    The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson


    Gifted from A New Friend! (THANK YOU! This was so unexpected!)
    Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
    Scan by S.E. Fine & Walter Jury
    The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin
    Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin
    A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
    This Is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky
    The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams


    Gifted from Ellis (Thank you!)
    The Falconer by Elizabeth May
    This book doesn't come out in the US until May, but it was already released in Europe and now I have a copy! Muahahah! <3


    Gifted from my Mom, Dad, and Sister (Thank You!)
    Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
    The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
    Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
    pre-order of The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
    pre-order of Half Bad by Sally Green

     
    Free on iBooks
    Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

    Thank you for all of the lovely birthday gifts! I can't believe I turn 19 tomorrow!