July Monthly Recap

~*~On The Blog~*~

July has been a great month for me! It was my last full month devoted to the summer and I spent it with friends and also reading! While I entered a bit of a reading funk near the end, I definitely enjoyed this month for the most part. Reading MORTAL HEART, finally, helped a bit, too, obviously! ;)
Books Reviewed:
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally - 5 stars
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson - 4 stars
Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard - 4 stars
One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington - 4 stars
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo - 3.5 stars
Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne - 3 stars
Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre - DNF
Earthquake by Aprilynne Pike - DNF

Books Reviewed on Tynga's Reviews:
Haunted by Meg Cabot - 4 stars
Twilight by Meg Cabot - 5 stars

The Broadway Review:
  • I introduced this new feature here if you want to check it out! This feature is dependent upon audience interest, so please comment on any of the reviews if you still want me to keep it! 
  • I reviewed HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH which I saw all the way back before BEA. I chose to review this one because of the announcement saying they were briefly extending the musical. If you can get to NYC before the beginning of October, this is definitely a show worth attempting to see! Find out why here!
Giveaways:
  • I hosted a giveaway as part of the Christmas in July blog hop! It was actually a lot of fun! I have signed up for a few more blog hops in the future for ya'll.
  • All previous giveaway winners have been contacted!
Discussion Posts:
  • I had an experience where I attempted to read a sequel to a book whose prequel I loved, and I realized that in retrospect, reviews will often differ from your feelings in the present day.
College Blogging 101 Posts: 
  • My post went up about knowing when enough is enough and not forcing yourself to blog when you simply can't because of stress or lack of time or energy. 
  • Jessica stopped by to say that the best thing you can do for your blog is letting your mind go!
Guest Posts and Bonus Content: 
  • None this month, unfortunately. There was so much going on in June that I needed to take a break!

~*~What I've Been Watching~*~

Broadway Shows:
  • I didn't see any Broadway shows this month, but I have tentative plans for August, so my fingers are crossed!
TV:
  • Big Brother Season 16 is well under way and I'm enjoying it a lot more than last season. I love Donny and Derrick with Cody, Nicole, and Hayden right behind them. I liked Zach up until his attack on Wednesday night's episode. Caleb needs to go, Frankie needs to stop being a rat, Victoria needs to stop crying, and everyone else needs to play harder. What are your thoughts on the houseguests thus far?
  • So You Think You Can Dance is back and I try to catch the show whenever I can. No distinct favorites, but I really do love Ricky and Zach. Teddy was a surprise for me, as was Rudy and even Valerie. But I have to admit that I like the guys way more than the girls this season.
Movies:
  • Not many movies this month! Been spending it with the family and with friends. TV hasn't been catching my eye unless it is for Big Brother for the most part!
Do you have a monthly recap or thoughts on anything I'm reading/reviewing/watching? Share your thoughts below! Every comment is greatly appreciated! <3

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From


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

If you want to get technical, I own all of THE JUNIE B. JONES books and the NANCY DREW books, but they are waiting for my future children so I'm not counting those. A lot of these authors, JLA excluded, made this list because I read them before I became a blogger and though I may have preferred their books a lot more when I was younger, they'll have a special place in my heart because of the love of reading they instilled in me.

The ten authors I own the most books from is as follows...

1. Jennifer L. Armentrout/J. Lynn: 23 books
2. Cassandra Clare: 9 books
  • The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls
  • The Iron Trial  
3. Maggie Stiefvater: 9 books
  • The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series: Shiver, Linger, Forever, Sinner
  • The Raven Cycle: The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves
  • The Scorpio Races
  • Books of Faerie: Lament, Ballad
4. J.K. Rowling: 7 books (worth noting I own two different sets of this series so I really have 14)
  • The Harry Potter Series: Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows
5. Julie Kagawa: 7 books
  • Talon
  • The Iron Fey Series: The Iron King, The Iron Daughter, The Iron Queen, The Iron Knight
  • Blood of Eden Series: The Immortal Rules, The Eternity Cure
6. Rick Riordan: 7 books
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians original covers: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, The Last Olympian
  • The Lightning Thief new cover
  • The Lost Hero
7. Ally Carter: 7 books
  • Heist Society: Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, Perfect Scoundrals
  • Gallagher Girls: I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy, Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover, Only The Good Spy Young
8. Meg Cabot: 6 books (technically 7)
9. Sarah J. Maas: 6 books (soon to be 7 with the release of HEIR OF FIRE)
  • Throne of Glass Series: Throne of Glass hardcover, Throne of Glass paperback, Crown of Midnight ARC, Crown of Midnight hardcover, Heir of Fire ARC, The Assassin's Blade novellas
10. Jessica Day George: 6 books
  • Castle Glower Series: Tuesdays at the Castle, Wednesdays in the Tower, Thursdays with the Crown
  • Princess Series: Princess of the Midnight Ball, Princess of Glass, Princess of the Silver Woods
11. Aprilynne Pike: 6 books
12. Victoria Schwab: 5 books (she'd be higher on the list if she had more books currently released!)
IT'S OFFICIAL. I AM A BOOK HOARDER AND I AM PROUD! 

Don't forget to link your TTT posts below!

DNF Review: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

Series: Immortal Game #1
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 384 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I put this book down after a mere two chapters (33 pages). Such a thing is incredibly rare for me, but this book frustrated me so much that I couldn't continue. I haven't read anything else by Aguirre, but I know her Razorland trilogy and her adult steampunk have been super popular, so I'm a little shocked by this one being so full of frustrating cliches.

To begin, we're supposed to be able to pity our main character and feel for her. Edie is about to commit suicide in the very beginning of the book! But instead of feeling anything for her, I had a complete lack of emotional connection to her. This is because she is a walking paradox. The girl is incredibly intelligent, but has no common sense whatsoever, though this is an obvious trait that she inherited from her genius parents who don't even check paperwork properly. She tends to have a holier than thou attitude in regards to her views on the world, but quickly puts down alternating views of other people.

Also, the romance is made up of all things bad. Granted, it's not a romance yet, but I know it's going to blossom into one and I can't take it! The love interest, Kian, is other-worldly beautiful yet has a thing for Edie, who describes herself as the type of ugly that cannot be fixed. He's also her stalker. Seriously, he knows all of these creepy things about her because he's been using special powers (that have an unknown origin to me because I don't care enough to find out) and she isn't worried at all! She jokes that him transporting her home using some weird form of teleportation would be creepy, but the fact that he knows some of her weird secrets that not many other people know doesn't make her hesitate?! Common sense, girl. You have none...as evidenced by the fact that you so willingly follow him away from your death because you figured even if he is a murderer, you were going to die anyway. I wanted to shake her and scream "just stop!"

The underlying message of this book frustrates me beyond belief because it pretty much equates success to being pretty. If you aren't pretty, you are nothing. You can get nowhere in the world. You are worthless and you don't deserve to have dreams. Edie absolutely despises the pretty people for bullying her and hurting her because prettiness also equates to cruelty and stupidity, yet her very first "wish" is to become pretty. It's so hard to take her seriously when she "feels" with such great conviction and forgets herself pages later. Her obsession with hating pretty people and pretty things goes as far as her destroying a yummy looking strawberry milkshake because it looks like it came right out of a food magazine and was too beautiful to look at and touch.

As for the plot of this book, I have no idea what it is. There's something about warring corporations with different factions, wishes like genies except this weird paranormal creatures are not genies. However, you can't mention fairies because then Kian will become enraged and who wants the pretty-boy-with-muscles-you-never-noticed-a-boy-could-have-before-because-you-refused-to-look-at-unattainable-men-before mad? Just another example of the backwards thinking in this book with a plot that is really confusing and nothing at all like the blurb.

All in all, this book was not for me. It has been getting a few favorable reviews, but with my currently limited reading time due to both my job and my internship, I am choosing not to continue on with a book that frustrated me so immensely before I got 10% into it. However, please be aware that this is my personal opinion and many people are loving it. Choose whether or not to read this book based off of your own reading tastes.

~*~Links~*~

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

The Broadway Review: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Date Seen: May 25, 2014
Seating: Orchestra
Ticket Source: Gifted from Gillian
Rating: Two Gigantic Thumbs Up

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical comedy that tells the story of a fictional rock 'n' roll band, fronted by Hedwig, a transgender woman and “internationally ignored song stylist” from East Berlin.




Hedwig and the Angry Inch won best revival of a musical at the 68th annual Tony Awards.
Lena Hall won the Tony for Best Supporting Actress for playing Yitzhak.
Neil Patrick Harris won the Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Musical by playing Hedwig.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch also won for best lighting design.
Tied with A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder for most Tonys won at the 68th Annual Tony Awards!

~*~Journey to the Tickets~*~

I was actually sitting in a Panera eating an early dinner with my friend, Tabitha. I was in NYC for the day to hang out with her and to plan our BEA schedules together. Out of nowhere, I get a call from Gillian about the ticket. Tabitha can attest to the fact that there was a lot of thank you's and screaming and general freaking out on my end...in the middle of a restaurant! haha I caused a huge scene because I was so shocked and excited, but whatever.

I ran to a friend's apartment to change into something a little more appropriate and then headed to the Broadway theater! This ticket fell into my lap maybe three hours before the show. It was completely unexpected, but I am forever grateful because this is actually my current favorite musical of the Broadway season.  I initially wasn't going to review it with what little time is remaining in the run, but with the limited time extension I had to throw this up to insist anyone see it if given the opportunity to do so.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This show guys...this show. I don't even know what to say aside from the fact that you have to see this show! It was initially scheduled to end on August 17th, but because of its success they are expanding the run. Starting August 20th, there is a limited eight week extension of the show, except Andrew Rannells will be replacing Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig. I don't know how I feel about this decision. While I enjoyed him in THE BOOK OF MORMON as the original Elder Price, I don't know if he can compare to NPH's powerhouse performance. He's an amazing singer, though, so it looks like I may have to rush the show to see it for a second time so I can compare the two! *starts putting plans in place with my Broadway buddies at college*

Making this show happen was no easy feat. The producers actually put the show on hold a few years because they were so determined to get NPH on board and they wanted to do it when he was available to perform after the conclusion of How I Met Your Mother. Neil Patrick Harris, at 41, lost some weight and learned how to walk in heels. And, boy, can he strut his stuff. Seriously, he can do some things in heels that a lot of women can't even do. The man is a force to be reckoned with. He commands the stage and embodies Hedwig so perfectly that he literally carries the entire show on his shoulders. And, let me tell you, he is Hedwig. The show is downright hilarious, but a lot of the hilarity is actually improv. Neil Patrick Harris even yells at the audience when phones go off...as Hedwig. He seriously never breaks character.

If you want to see some of the intensity that is this amazing rocker, check out his Tony performance below for the song Sugar Daddy.


I was actually a little surprised when they picked this song for the Tonys. While I loved it, there are two songs from the show that wowed me a little more: The Origin of Love and Wig In A Box. This song is actually one of the more over-sexed songs of the show. This is a woman who just wants to be loved, so there is definitely a sexually charged atmosphere at times, but I felt like it reached a high point during this song. And that audience interaction? Yeah, he really does that during the show. But on an unrelated note, that kiss at the end?! Him and David Burtka are so freaking adorable! I love them together. A relationship born on Broadway! <3

Aside from NPH, really the only speaking role in the show belongs to Lena Hall, playing his husband Yitzhak. Their relationship is actually hilarious. Where Hedwig is loud and overpowering, Yitzhak is shy and quiet, though extremely talented. As the only female cast member, she holds her own and delivers a powerful performance while she goes through her own self-discovery on stage. Definitely a worthy adversary for Hedwig.

And the rest of the cast is made of the band, Tits of Clay. However, in the show, they're known as The Angry Inch. These guys are also disgustingly talented and awesome. Together, all of these people put on a powerful show that tells the story of Hedwig, an awesome German rocker that is pursuing her dreams after a botched sex change operation left her with an angry inch. This show will take you places you would never expect. You can laugh so hard you will cry, you will cheer and triumph with the characters, and you'll be left screaming for more.

This insanely talented individuals that make up this cast will take you on the journey of a life-time through a rock concert with no intermission. The feat is truly extraordinary. If you ever find the chance to see this show, do it!

And now...I must go replay the soundtrack that has been on infinite repeat since it was released! Stalk it on youtube if you get the chance! So, so worth it.

~*~*~

If you want to see my other Broadway Reviews, click here!

If you want to learn more about HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, click here!

Review: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 400 (ARC)
Source: Borrowed
In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.
 ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Eleanor Fitt has lost everything important to her thanks to the evil necromancer, Marcus. She's out for revenge to and right all wrongs with whatever it takes, even growing her newfound scary powers that threaten her very existence because every usage of black magic causes her to lose a bit of herself. She travels to beautiful and enchanting Egypt in search of the infamous Old Man to find the answers she has so desperately seeked since book one. This all leads to the final showdown...the question is whether Eleanor can discover how to defeat Marcus before it's too late.

The world-building, as always, is phenomenal. One thing I have come to expect from Dennard is great detail when it comes to the exotic locations she chooses to set her stories in. When I found out that book three was in Egypt, I was doubly excited to read it because, hello, Egypt! Despite the final showdown and everyone trying not to get killed, I couldn't stop freaking out about the fact that I got to take a reader's vacation to Egypt thanks to Dennard's detailing skills.

The characterization in this book was very strong as well. Though deeply flawed, Eleanor continues to be a very strong heroine that is easy to respect. She is very independent--something super rare for her time--and she genuinely tries to protect everyone she cares about. I've never stopped loving her and it's bittersweet to see that her story (meaning this trilogy) has come to an end. And then, of course, there's Daniel. Pure of heart and super intelligent, I feel as if he is the only constant thing in Eleanor's life whether she likes it or not. He will never let her struggle by herself and will always be there to help her, no matter what the cost. I think this is one of the many reasons as to why he is among my favorite love interests. Daniel is the epitome of swoons, I'm telling you.

This book has even more action than any of the other books combined. The final battle can only be described as epic. Like any duel, there was triumphs and setbacks, angst and success. Nothing is ever simple or easy, but I think that Dennard highlighted every character's sacrifice to rid this world of evil so well. While the ending will be very polarizing, I understand why Dennard chose to end this series the way she did. It is not what I wanted and I'm disappointed in the ending in that sense, but overall this was a very satisfying conclusion to an amazing series and perhaps the only zombie series I will ever willingly read. Anything Dennard delivers us will be amazing. She's truly one of my favorite authors.

According to Dennard, I was the very first person to e-mail her and tell her that I completed this book. She told me of the emotional trauma writing this conclusion wrought on her. Ending a series is never easy, and to see that she struggled so much with making things perfect the way she felt the story played out was amazing. It shows how much this series means to her and how much she hopes we love it. I will continue to recommend this series to anyone who wants to read it, and if you haven't already started it yet now is the time to do so because book three is officially out! Totally worth the binge read, I promise! Just don't forget the tissues.
 

4 stars

~*~Links~*~

Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.
I actually loved putting together this list! I managed to find friends, hotties, and survival pros so that we can live in a bookish wonderland without ever suffering. Something tells me this "stranded on a deserted island" will turn into a "vacation of a lifetime with no bothersome people ever again" type situation. I did it by book/series because I needed more than one from some of the faves, you know?

In no particular order, the top 11 (maybe more) characters I would want with me on a deserted island...

1. Ismae, Duval, and Beast from the His Fair Assassins Trilogy by Robin LaFevers - I feel as if Ismae would be an amazing friend on top of her ability to kick butt. Duval is just Duval and Beast is there for endless laughs and protection.

2. Ruby from Body In The Woods by April Henry - I hated this book, but this girl knows everything. She must know how to survive and can tell us what foods are good to eat, etc.

3. Chaol and Caelena from the Throne of Glass Series - We need some hotness so that there's something fun to look at, on top of the fact that he's a great strategist and can work with the island. Caelena is kickass and good at everything, plus she loves books. So these two were easy picks.


4. Hector from the Fire & Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson - I want Hector for pretty much the same exact reasons I want Chaol.

5. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling - Hello, magic! It can help us! A lot! Plus, she likes books! And I grew up idolizing her! All of the exclamation points!

6. Katsa from the Graceling Realm Series by Kristen Cashore - Girls got mad skills, don't even deny it.
 

7. Malachi from The Guards of the Shadowlands Series by Sarah Fine - His job is to fight beasts, so he can fight any beasts trying to kill us on the island and look hot while doing it. Plus, he's Jewish. ;)

8. Tarver from These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner - He knows a lot about survival because of his military training, so he'd be essential to surviving. And, hello, hotness!

9. Lainey, Bianca, and Micah from The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes - If a girl is stranded on a desert island, she needs friends to help her through and these friends are awesome. Plus, Micah is a baker and we're just going to give him magical powers so he can bake us yummy food throughout our entire stay on said island. Yup. Logic.


10. Liesel from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak  - If I'm stranded for my entire life, I need someone to talk books with. And I don't just need her, but I need the combined force of both of our expansive libraries to keep me busy for eternity because if this were to ever happen to me, I would obviously be conveniently transporting every single book known to humanity on the plane with me.

11. Sand from The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell - He has magical powers when it comes to fixing things. Need I say more?

Don't forget to link your TTT posts below!

Christmas in July International Giveaway & Blog Hop


The Christmas in July Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader and Laurie Here.


I am so excited to participate in my very first giveaway hop! I mean, look at that cute banner over there! I chose to participate in this hop because everyone needs some presents every now and then. ;)

Giveaway Rules:
1. This contest is open to the US and internationally!
2. Must be 13 years or older to enter
3. Do not cheat, I check all entries!
4. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my e-mail before I pick another winner.
5. The giveaway ends at midnight on the last day of the month!


~*~Prize~*~
One (1) winner will get a copy of a Dash & Lily's Book of Dares!


Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click the "read more" option below to check out the rest of the 100+ blogs hosting giveaways too!

Review: One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Source: From Publisher For Review
Name of overseas edition of Between The Lives.

Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole.

Until now, that is...


For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted... But just what - and who - is she really risking?
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Previously published overseas under the title Between The Lives.

This book was great. While the analytical reader in me had a few issues, I have to say that I was addicted to the plot and the attention grabbing tone of this story. While such a thing requires throwing all questions out of the window (like why does Sabine experience alternate lives but nobody else does?), it's very easy to stand behind this strong heroine.

Sabine lives two very different lives. Every twenty-four hours, she wakes up in a different world and her previous world pauses, only for her to pick up exactly where it left off when she shifts the next day. Both of her worlds are extremely different, though both have their drawbacks. In one world, she's Harvard-bound and incredibly rich. While she doesn't have the best relationship with either of her older brothers, she has a strong relationship with her mother and great friends as well as a boyfriend that makes her the envy of the school because they are the epitome of the perfect couple...even if she can't bring herself to love him and not be repulsed by his attempted sexual advances after dating for two years. In her other life, she dresses like a delinquent and has only one real friend. Her little sister is her entire world and her parents are rather detached and emotionless because they're so focused on their financial struggles and the demanding life of managing a drug store. While her situation may not be pleasant in this life, there's a boy...and he may be THE boy. His very existence turns her entire world and future plans upside down.

There is a weird kind of love triangle in this one, but because this is about alternate lives, it's sold in a really unique form that I enjoyed. Sabine didn't bring herself to consider one guy until things were over with the other, though she was constantly thinking about whichever guy she wasn't with because she felt as if she was hurting him despite the fact that she never had two boyfriends. Even she admitted that having two boyfriends in her separate lives would be wrong. She shuddered at the thought of eventually having two families. Going through high school twice was a challenge within itself in her eyes. Back to the boys, though. It's incredibly clear from the beginning that one of these boys was meant to be with her and the other wasn't. The process of getting there was rather surprising at times, but I have to say that I'm really happy with the way this romantic sub-plot progressed. Both potential love interests were incredibly different, which causes readers to lean towards one or the other immediately.

With that in mind, I have two small issues with the plot progression of this book. The first is that I guessed the huge twist at the end almost immediately. While this diminished my reading experience slightly, it also made me super excited because it was something I desperately wanted to happen. I figured that such a minor detail had to have been important if emphasis was placed on it for seemingly no reason. Boy, was my hunch correct. My other issue was the fact that there was a small case of insta-love here. The declaration of love came rather quickly timeline wise. But when I sat down and thought about it, I realized these two characters had been put through the wringer together and if literary soul mates existed, these two would be a perfect example so I can't even find it in myself to be mad. Neither issue ruins the book for me when such a thing typically would, and I think that this can attest to the fact that the tone of this book is absolutely addicting even though I know this is a case where I liked the book a lot more than my analytical brain thinks I should have.

All in all, this is a book where you temporarily suspend reality to allow it to be real. However, if you do that, Shirvington is about to take you on a wild ride. It's hard to find anyone who would believe you when you say you live two alternate lives, but Sabine is such a strong heroine that I loved her story, how she handled herself, and her struggles. For someone with such an insane life, this is a girl that, in the end, can be respected. Part of me almost wishes this was a duology because I don't want to let her go just yet, but at the same time I understand why Shirvington chose to end it where she did.

This is the perfect book to read if you want something unique that makes you question fate.


4 stars

~*~Links~*~

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

College Blogging 101: Let Your Mind Go


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, Jessica from the Crazy Red Pen stopped by to tell us how she has learned to balance blogging with college. The best possible way to do this? Let your mind go! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by the blog today, Jessica! I totally agree with the post below. If you can't get a post up, you simply can't get a post up. You can't let blogging rule college or allow college to rule blogging. If you just be you, eventually things will balance out and you'll find a happy medium!

~*~*~*~

Balancing blogging with college? No problem. Or at least that’s what I naively thought going into college. I had been blogging all throughout high school and college didn’t seem like a big hurdle. How wrong I was.

College is different in so many ways from high school. There are random, spontaneous trips, and so many other things that pop out of no where. Despite all of that, I tried to stay on top of blogging. After all, I like to blog about things that make my life easier, whether it’s mobile apps orproductivity tips in general. So how did I fall so far?

I was blogging on weekends, occasionally skipping out on random spontaneous trips to make sure that I was staying on top of my schedule. However, what I forgot was that going into these blogging sessions, I didn’t plan all too well what I was going to be blogging about and I had lost a good part of my love for blogging. Since I was perpetually crunched for time, I was blogging about the same old things. It felt stale, much like the food that was in the fridge down the hall (Note: don’t put your food in shared fridges! Put it in your friend’s fridge if you have to.)

 I decided to stop forcing myself to blog. I like schedules, don’t get me wrong. They’re what makes me wake up in the morning but I was pushing myself for something that I had lost passion for. I knew that I didn’t dislike blogging enough to quit so I decided that I was going to stop stressing myself out. I went out. I agreed to 10pm coffee runs to Starbucks. I stayed up until 4am in the morning. It is college after all. I read random articles on the internet. I forwarded my magazine subscriptions to my dorm.

Those things were so therapeutic. I found inspiration in the strangest things—something someone said at midnight, an article that I read on the internet, a blurb in a fashion magazine and so much more. The thing is, let your mind go. I was limiting myself to my blog and the little space that it occupies in the book blog world but at the end of the day, it’s still a very, very small piece of the world. Let your mind go. Don’t be stressed out by trying to juggle blogging with college. There are so many new opportunities and experiences at college that will make you a better person and inspire you to blog. You may not be posting everyday but the posts that you do post will be new.

These days, I don’t stress that much about blogging. I try to post regularly but if it doesn’t happen, I’m okay. When I cared, I was pigeonholing myself, stressed because I couldn’t find an original idea to blog about and anxious because I was wasting time just thinking about what to post so I always blogged about what I knew and was familiar with. I was rehashing the same things over and over again. I was letting blogging tell me what to do, not the other way around.

Go to the museums. Say yes to the spontaneous trips to places (but probably say no to 2am trips to sketch downtown places). You might be taking time away from blogging but who knows? Maybe you’ll come back with a new, brilliant idea where you’ll be pouring words out. Isn’t that what we all aim for?

Stacking the Shelves #76


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

Montana from The Book Belles made this week awesome! Thank you so much, girl! <3


Gifted from Montana from ALA (Thank you so much!)
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
Winterspell by Claire LeGrand
Invaded by Melissa Landers
A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris
Althea & Oliver by Christina Morano

For Review from Kensington (Thank you!)
Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer
Trade (Thank you, Alexia!)
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Library
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
 
What did YOU add to your shelves this week?

Waiting on Wednesday #49


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

My pick of the week is...

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.
 
~*~Why I Am Waiting~*~

It's been three years! Plus, this book is supposed to be the best of the three. I need it now! Stephanie Perkins is the queen of contemporary. Seriously.

Top Ten TV Shows I Want To Watch


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

I don't watch a lot of TV...when I thought of my top ten favorite shows I could really only think of Once Upon A Time, Veronica Mars, Big Brother, and Giants football. Come the Fall semester beginning, I promise some of these shows will begin because I live on Netflix during the school year.

1. Breaking Bad- The ending was terribly spoiled for me, but that doesn't make me any less curious or excited,

2. How I Met Your Mother- This is Neil Patrick Harris and a comedy. Need I say more?

3. House of Cards- I feel like I'm one of the few people in my family who doesn't want this show, so I need to give it a chance!

4. Orange is the New Black- I tried watching episode one last year and couldn't stand it, but I'm going to give it another chance because of all the hype surrounding it this year.

5. Sherlock- ...JUST LOOK AT THE BEAUTY THAT IS THE MAIN ACTOR!

6. Doctor Who- I have been watching this show! Slowly...I need to finish it! I'm still in the second season.

7. Teen Wolf- I got bored after season one, but I feel like everyone is obsessed with this one.

8. Orphan Black- Christianna is constantly yelling at me to watch this one. haha

9. Game of Thrones- I have to read the books first, though!

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer- I really have no excuse for this indescretion.

Do you have any thoughts on the shows that I am determined to watch and obsess over forever? Tell me below!

Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha Trilogy
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 417 (Hardcover)
Source: Gifted
The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I am so disappointed with this book. It's not a book I hated because, in all honesty, I think it's impossible for Bardugo to deliver a novel that I would absolutely despise, but I honestly feel as if Bardugo could have done better. While her writing is still gorgeous and her characterization is always above and beyond expectation, the plot of this one was seriously out of whack and I found myself becoming more and more frustrated as the book progressed. Books one and two are among my favorite novels ever, but it almost seems as if this book was written by someone else.
With all plot problems aside, Bardugo's writing style is so lyrical that it'll always drag me in. I am a reading slave to this woman. I will read anything she writes, though I may go in with more reservations now than I would have prior to reading this novel. One thing is for certain and that is the fact that Bardugo knows how to paint beautiful pictures and enrapture you with her prose.

Her characterization is also some of the best I have ever seen and this book gets major points for all the hilarious banter. All of our main characters grow in some way or another. Alina is still the reluctant saint that is simply fighting to battle evil and save Ravka. The Darkling is perhaps one of the most fascinating and amazing young adult villains of all time. His havoc and characterization are still unparalleled, though our last few scenes with him were not worthy of his legacy and power. For such a strong character, our last encounters with him were not only disappointing, but also lackluster. All other main characters and even some of the new secondary characters were strong and unique. It's certainly impossible to forget anyone in this series because every character stands apart from one another in their own way.

This book has a love square, I suppose. After reading the rest of the series, it's obvious that there are three contender's for Alina's heart and for quite a while, it's hard to figure out who she will end up with. While I had my specific ship, I could respect all three potential suitors because they were as different as three men could be. If there was even a small similarity between these men, this love whatever-you-want-to-call-it would not have been so successful, but in the end the only thing that these three men had in common were their admiration and love for Alina. With that in mind, I have to say that the person she ended up being with and the reasoning behind it was perhaps one of the biggest literary cop-out's ever. She had so many options and I can respect her for choosing one without stringing others along, but the reasoning behind her choice makes me shake with anger because of how I can use prior books to discount certain things. I was so heavily invested in her and her romance regardless of whether my ship was chosen or not, but the romantic resolution was extremely lacking.

Furthermore, I feel as if this book was predictable. Typically, this is a word I would not associate with Bardugo because when is Bardugo ever predictable? Books one and two constantly surprised me, but book three almost felt as if it mirrored its predecessors in general plot structure, but lacked in the detail they had. Things fell too conveniently into their laps. Many bad things happened, yes, but what's the point of having bad things happen when literally almost all bad things get resolved easily with a flick of a wrist? If characters die, they should stay dead. If they lose someone or something, some weird little form of redemption comes out of the wood-works. Events came out of nowhere and, at times, the explanations for potentially monumental moments were throwaways that didn't make much sense or didn't fully answer our questions. I kept reading out of curiosity, but my desire to be wowed slowly diminished every time I encountered an instance such as this...which actually happened often.

And, of course, there is the final battle. It wasn't what I wanted it to be. It didn't seem grand or powerful. Again, a lack of detail. There was way too many miracles and too many wrongs being undone out of nowhere. While lives were lost, the carnage wasn't what I expected of the Darkling. Really, I just wasn't wowed. This lack of true interest was continued in the epilogue of the book. While somewhat adorable and almost fairytale-like in the way it is written, I can't say it made me any happier with Alina's final decisions. While I can see why Bardugo chose this specific ending for Alina and her love interest, it doesn't change the fact that it was a lukewarm ending to a simply satisfying read.

While many people will hail this as an amazing novel, I can only say it wasn't for me. My expectations for this one were high, and perhaps that contributed to my utter disappointment after completing the novel. The bigger they are in your mind, the harder their fall is, right?

In the end, this book is definitely worth reading. It wraps things up. Whether you like how the book wraps things up is an entirely different situation. I know people who both hated and loved this one. Truly polarizing, it is worth the reading though I caution readers to check themselves and go in with realistic expectations. Perhaps your reading experience can be more enjoyable than mine was then. Either way, I will read anything Bardugo writes, but I will be a bit more cautious when beginning future reads.


3.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

This book was read as part of my summer of series.

Stacking the Shelves #75: The Mega Super Haul

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

This week tops all weeks! A ton of unexpected surprises arrived and found their way to me and I am freaking out with excitement. 

For Review From Bloomsbury (Thank you!)
The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington
Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers
Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Gifted From Jon (Thank you!)
The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

Library
Breakable by Tammara Webber

Trade
Boomerang by Noelle August (Thank you Abigail!)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Thank you Kelly!)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Thank you Kelly!)

For Review From Disney (Thank you!)
False Future by Dan Krokos

For Review From First Second Books (Thank you!)

For Review From Harlequin (Thank you!)
I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre  

~*~Rainbow Rowell Launch~*~

This week I was lucky enough to get a signed Fangirl, Attachments, and Eleanoe & Park by the lovely Rainbow Rowell. I also got an awesome picture with her. Is she not amazing?!
 
What did you add to your shelves this week? My week was surprisingly awesome.

Review: Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne

Series: Midnight Thief #0.5
Publication Date: Lion Quill's Press
Publisher: September 24, 2013
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 54 (eBook)
Source: Free on Amazon
James is skilled, efficient, and deadly, a hired blade navigating the shifting alliances of a deteriorating Assassin’s Guild. Then he meets Thalia, an alluring but troubled dancing girl who offers him a way out—if he’ll help her kill a powerful nobleman. With the Guild falling apart, it just might be worth the risk. But when you live, breathe, and love in a world that’s forever flirting with death, the slightest misstep can be poison. Poison dance is approximately 14,000 words, or 54 printed pages.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I've got to begin by saying that this cover is such a bummer. I think that the cover of book one, Midnight Thief, is absolutely gorgeous and this is just so...not. I understand that this book isn't really published by Disney, but I wish they matched and were on the same level of beauty.

With that in mind, I'm actually a little thankful that I read this free novella after I read book one. I'm really bad like that. I have a habit of reading novellas after the book they're meant to come before. It's technically because I don't like paying for really short stories so I never seek them out and partly because, at times, novellas make me really anxious for the book and waiting for it becomes even harder and more agonizing. However, I would venture to say that if I read this book prior to book one, it would certainly whet my appetite and make me want to read more.

This is the back-story of James, one of the prominent characters in book one. It takes place during a time where the leader of the Assassin's Guild was murdered, so the new leader, Gerred, is taking over and doing things his way. Because James is such a great assassin, he poses a huge threat to Gerred and Gerred refuses to trust him. James can't trust Gerred in turn despite his lack of desire to attempt to take control of the Guild and a huge silent power struggle ensues. This is the story of how the leader of the Assassin's Guild in book one comes to be.

In the end, this book serves its purpose. It makes readers curious and it gives you back-story to an otherwise mysterious character. Does it change my original opinion on James? No, but it makes me understand why he is the way he is and why has done what he has done. The writing is very fast paced and there's not a ton of detail, so it's hard to really connect with the characters and become invested in their stories. But, hey, that's what the novel is for.

If you're questioning whether it is worth picking up Midnight Thief or not, I would give this novella a chance. Not only is it free, it explains the mysterious and illegal workings of Forge, so you get to know the world and a few of the characters you will encounter in book one. It'll help make your decision easier and hopefully whet your appetite for more.

3 stars

~*~Links~*~

Reviewing in Retrospect


This is a problem that I've encountered recently and I'm wondering if anyone else has had the same thing happen to them. As a mood reader, I tend to look at some of my reviews in retrospect and ask myself what I was thinking. If it was what I needed in the moment, a book may get a higher rating than it would have other wise. Most of the time this happens when I'm sick or with my reviews from when I first began blogging.


Let me explain what led to the creation of this post...

I picked up a copy of EARTHQUAKE by Aprilynne Pike from another blogger during BEA. This is actually a book I really wanted. See, I nabbed its predecessor, EARTHBOUND, through ARCycling and greatly enjoyed it. I actually gave it four stars. Four stars!


Meanwhile, the only thing running through my mind after reading the first twenty pages of the second book in this duology was Go home book, you're drunk! Not even the book, more like Tavia. Tavia was drunk. In the first twenty pages of book two I decided that I just couldn't stand Tavia, yet I liked her enough to give her four stars the first go-around.

I can't figure out if this is because of the fact that I genuinely loved the book or because I wrote my review too soon without sitting on it and thinking about it further. All of this is made worse by the fact that I sat there for twenty minutes and I could barely remember anything that happened in book one.

My interest severely plummeted after that and a hasty DNF became a virtual inevitability. But my question is this...I was craving this book at one point because I enjoyed book one so much. Now that I have it in my hands, I don't want anything to do with it. In retrospect, what was I thinking?

Clearly my opinions have changed! But, hey, that's the evolution of blogging. Something you love in books one year can be something that makes it an automatic DNF the next because you're sick of it. The life of a book blogger, am I right?

I was wondering if anyone has had this happen to them? Where, in retrospect, you realize you didn't like a book as much as you thought you did in the beginning or vice versa? I think this can happen to any reader out there and I was wondering how often such a thing does happen.