Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 4 Part 2 - Non-fiction

Day 4 of Armchair BEA is about Ethics and Non-fiction. I've done my post on ethics.

We bridge the genre gap from fiction to all things non-fiction. Do you read non-fiction? Why or why not? Is there a specific type of non-fiction that you prefer to read (i.e. historical, true crime, memoirs, biographies, etc)? What is the perfect book for a first-time non-fiction reader?

Um yes. Remember when I discussed fiction and I said I read MANY genres? Well non-fiction also falls into this category. I don't typically read much history, true crime, memoirs, or biographies (all the types mentioned above), but I will and would. Remember how I said for me what determines how I feel about a book is about the emotion behind the story. All of these categories are still about stories. If there are emotions involved, I'm there.

However, there's another kind of non-fiction that wasn't mentioned above. I know this is debatable (as most genre classifications are), but to me...anything that's not fiction falls into non-fiction (makes sense, right?). And so that type of non-fiction is SELF-HELP! I love me some self-help books.

Actually, I'm all about ANYTHING in life that can help me grow as a person, as an individual, as a Christian, as a blogger, as a wife, as a hopefully-one-day-mother, as an employee....basically if there's any aspect of my life in which I can grow--that would be all of them, right?--then I'm not only open to it, I'm eager to devour it.

I've actually found that I'm almost more eager to hand out my 5-Star rating to books that I feel really have helped me grow and those are typically self-help books. I realized about halfway into my first year of blogging that the only books I was giving 5 Stars to were self-help books--and most of those at least have religious undertones if not straight classified as Christian. I've remedied that by now of course by reading some pretty awesome 5-Star fiction books, but it did bring to my attention the fact that I really do enjoy books that can help me grow as a person. Of course, fiction can help you grow as a person too, but it's not always designed to do so.

My top 5-Star Non-fiction books are as follows--all of these are books I feel like EVERYONE should have to read:

The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Push by Chalene Johnson

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Honorable mentions are:

48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage by Stormie Omartian

What about you? Do you read non-fiction? Are there any must-reads on your list that I need to check out?

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 4 Part 1 - Ethics

Day 4 of Armchair BEA is about Ethics and Non-fiction. I'll do my post on Non-fiction next.

We get back into discussions with the heavy topic of ethics. Do you have recommendations to new bloggers to ensure credit is given to whom/where credit is due? Have you had an experience with plagiarism? How did you deal wit it? What are guidelines as bloggers that we must follow?

I personally have never had an experience with plagiarism that I'm aware of. I am aware (vaguely) of what all went down a couple of years ago, but I was so new to blogging and I never really got the whole story that I basically just used that situation as a really stern example of what not to do while staying as far away from the drama as I could. What that situation did do for me was teach me the importance of documenting my source. CITE CITE CITE people! Cite your source for anything and everything. Cite who/what you quote. Cite your photos. Cite yourself. And don't just give credit to whom credit is due...that's great...but link to them if possible that way there is no question about your source.

Trust me. You do not want your reputation ruined over this.

To be honest, the backlash of the events of the past scared me to the point where I hardly ever read reviews of books BEFORE I've written my own review. I know that sounds crazy considering that part of the point of writing a review in the first place is to either entice someone to read a book you enjoyed or steer them clear of it if you didn't enjoy it. But I have found in my own life--through school and such--that when someone else words something in a way that is just perfect that I can't improve upon it or the sentiment behind it, I can't seem to get that thought or the wording out of my head. Knowing this about myself, I have just found it easier to avoid reading reviews of books that I know I plan on reading until I've finished my own review. (I will check out someone's rating of a book I intend to read though so I'm pro ratings--I know there's a lot of debate about this.) There have been occasions where I couldn't stop myself from reading a review someone else wrote before I finished my own review of the same book, I couldn't get what they said out of my head, and so I quote them (citing and linking back to their own review) in my review. Although, I generally try to avoid this.

However, I also am very aware that "there's nothing new under the sun." And I am often times not the only person to think a certain way or come up with an "original" idea. So while I'm extremely fearful of and do everything I can to avoid plagiarism, I also think that "to err is human and to forgive is divine."

I think the best guideline you as a blogger can follow is as I've already said "cite (link to) everything" and "err on the side of caution."

Serious topic...and here's a link to some things you might not know about plagiarism (more about plagiarism here). What do you guys think about this subject? Anything I need to add?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 3 - Literary Fiction

Day 3 of Armchair BEA is about literary fiction.

Wikipedia defines literary fiction as "fictional works that hold literary merit. ... To be considered literary, a work must be 'critically acclaimed' and 'serious.'" --See...I had to look it up.

And so here's the thing...I just don't read many books that "critics" like. It's the same with movies. If a book or movie is "critically acclaimed," it tends to be the opposite of what I like.

But I did I find this site with a list of book awards and their winners.

Ooo...ooohh...I found one I've read and loved! Code Name Verity was an honor book for the 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction in 2012. Here's my review for Code Name Verity.

Code Name Verity

By: Elizabeth Wein

Published: February 6th 2012 by Egmont Press

447 pages

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

Sourc: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | )

Goodreads description--I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

I'm not going to retype my review, but I loved this book. Typically I want to read books where people fall in love, but Code Name Verity still measured up despite not having anything to do with people falling in love. I put off reading it because the description wasn't what I normally read, but it was so worth breaking outside of my norm.

What about you guys? What award-winning books am I missing? Let me know!

Belonging - Review

Belonging (Temptation, # 2)

By: Karen Ann Hopkins

Published: April 30th 2013 by Harlequin TEEN

408 pages

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | )

Goodreads description--I left everything I knew behind.

But it was worth it. He was worth it.

No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren't even allowed to see each other. Not until I've proven myself.

If I can find a way to make it work, we'll be NOAH & ROSE

together forever.

But not everybody believes this is where I belong.

I went into Belonging with quite a bit of trepidation. I enjoyed Temptation, but I also found myself also frustrated with it and the characters. So I just wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Belonging. Not to mention that the only review I've seen of Belonging was a 2 star rating. And after reading Belonging I still feel myself torn. On the one hand, I eagerly read Belonging and struggled with putting it down--I wanted to keep reading; while at the same time, feeling extremely frustrated with these characters, their decisions, and specifically the last 20% of the book. I can't decide if the writing style that kept me devouring the pages wins out over the fact that I wanted to smack these characters.

My issues with Belonging are pretty much the same as they were with Temptation. You can read my review of Temptation here, but this will pretty much be a repeat of those same issues.

I still found myself annoyed at Rose's ignorance of the Amish culture while at the same time deciding to join it. Their culture is not some obstacle in the way of your forbidden romance (yes, I'm talking to Rose). It's a way of life. And the only way you survive it is if you believe in it (now speaking in general). Rose continually gets frustrated with the rules placed upon her and the differences in the gender roles, but she actually does a pretty good job of biting her tongue which I give her kudos for. As I said in my review of Temptation, I actually find women who are extreme feminists really annoying, and Rose bordered on that for me.

Continuing from Temptation is the fact that both characters still wish to change the other so much. Noah actually says in his first narration that it's Rose's wild side and spunk that he loves more than anything else. How is that going to work when she turns into a meek, chaste, Amish girl? Summer, a new character to the series who becomes Rose's best friend, actually brings this up to Rose. If she changes who she is to become Amish, will she still be the girl who Noah fell in love with? And if Noah wants someone who's wild, unpredictable, and full of heat, passion, and fire, then is Amish was he really wants? *Minor spoiler alert (just skip to the next paragraph): And why does Rose wait until AFTER she's taken the vows to join the Amish church and community to bring up her thoughts to Noah? Why would she think that he would suddenly become English AFTER she's already gone and joined the Amish community? There's no reason for him to. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Am I right? (That's rhetorical, you don't have to answer.)

All of that said, I still find myself questioning whether Rose and Noah's relationship can possibly survive the test of time when all they want to do is change each other. And that's not to mention the other issues facing them. This is one of the rare cases when I don't think love conquers all. I could never marry someone who's world view is so vastly different from mine. Plus there's the reaction that both Rose and Noah have to some misinformation which causes them both hurt and pain. They both lean toward the immature side, definitely typical of teenage behavior, but it doesn't indicate a response of someone capable of making such big decisions that will affect the rest of their lives.

While I can't say that Belonging was an exactly predictable book all around, it was easy to spot signs throughout the book that led my thinking in one direction or the other. For example, when I was about 45-50% through and a certain event takes place that I could have imagined happening closer to the end of the book, I begin to think, "well obviously something's going to happen to disrupt these events that are taking place now." And then when I had 20% left there were similar feelings. I could guess a general feeling of "bad things are coming" or "now it's time for us to be happy again" based on where I was in the book and the other events taking place, but as Temptation had a twist and cliffhanger, so does Belonging.

I enjoyed the addition of the new characters in Belonging. Rose makes friends within the Amish community that you can't help but love. And these new friends show a darker side of the Amish culture proving that no matter the culture, the human element can be unpredictable, dark, and rebellious. Sam, Rose's brother, is an additional narrator in this installment. There were times when I struggled with Sam's character, for instance that he seemed to find Summer appealing only because she wasn't fawning all over him like every other girl, and other times when I was rooting for him and I could understand his concern for his sister's life choices.

Even after writing my review, I'm not 100% sure how I felt about Belonging. I couldn't put this book down, but I felt that the characters decisions, thought process, and reactions were usually frustrating, immature, and unhealthy. Frustration drove my frantic pacing through this book. Because of the ending to Belonging, I've GOT to find out how this story ends, but I can already tell that I'll be continuing with the same frustrations in the next book as well.

All in all, Belonging gets 3.5 Stars from me. Have you read Belonging? What did you think? Let me know!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 2 Part 2 - Genre Fiction

Day 2 of Armchair BEA is about blogger development and a genre discussion about fiction. I've already posted about blogger development.

Genre Fiction

What draws you to a specific genre? Do vampires, zombies, or witches float your boat? Or, do you prefer the heat of romance? Recommend your favorite genres and/or books and help build reader TBR shelves a bit more!

Truthfully, I like many genres. When it comes to fiction, the most important thing for me is that the book make me feel. If I can get wrapped up within the emotion behind a book, it doesn't matter what the genre is.

My love for reading got re-sparked after reading Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. At the time, I hadn't read anything like it. And I was surely surprised to find myself in love with a "vampire book." But this single vampire book not only re-sparked a love for reading for me, but it started a new love for paranormal fiction. I read every vampire book I could get my hands on after reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. But that soon branched out to werewolves, witches/wizards, faeries, zombies, angels, demons...any other supernatural or paranormal creature I could think of. I once tried to explain this to my husband by telling him that paranormal fiction just adds an extra layer of conflict to the story.

Zombies from my paranormal fiction reading led me into post-apocalyptic, and I quickly became fascinated by all of the ways that society as we know it could be brought to dust. And with that came thoughts and wondering about how humanity would cope and survive. While I used to shy away from scary movies, somehow I find myself in love with all things zombie related. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan was the first zombie book I ever read, and it changed my world. Of course, a zombie outbreak isn't the only way for the world to go to pot.

From post-apocalyptic, I moved into dystopian. What if the world didn't quite end, but it just wasn't really ideal either? Dystopian is the opposite of Utopian, which is an ideal world. I can't say for sure, but The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the first dystopian that I remember reading, and yet again, the possibilities of writing and books and stories seemed to grow even more.

There isn't exactly a segue from dystopian to contemporary that makes sense, but I found myself reading a couple of books that just sucked me in emotionally and spit me right back out. Those books told me that I didn't need creatures that aren't real, the end of the world, societies falling apart, or anything "extra" to make a book into a great story. What I need is basic human emotion, that is real, and deep, and powerful. There are some contemporary novels that have turned me into a blubbering mess more than any other book or genre.

Of course, there are many other genres that I read occasionally, but not all of the time. I.E. sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, mythology, etc. But the common theme through all is the emotion behind the story. What's the use of an epic world created by the author if there's no emotion within the characters? What's the use of surviving the zombie apocalypse if there is no hope? What does is matter if vampires exist if there is no fear and no perfect love to cast out fear? What does it matter if society is in ruins if the characters who live there don't experience love? And that's what it all boils down to for me.

My favorite books from the genres mentioned above:

Paranormal: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Post-apocalyptic: The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, Deadlocked by AR Wise

Dystopian: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Divergent by Veronica Roth

Contemporary: Slammed by Colleen Hoover, Hopeless by Colleen Hoover, The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, The Fault in our Stars by John Green, and Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry,

Fantasy: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin

Sci-Fi: Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Partials by Dan Wells

Historical Fiction: Grave Mercy by RL LaFevers, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Persuasion by Jane Austen

What are your favorite genres? What draws you in to one specific one? Let me know!

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 2 Part 1 - Blogger Development

Day 2 of Armchair BEA is about blogger development and a genre discussion about fiction. I'll do my post on fiction next.

Blogger Development

Have you branched out into your community? Do you partner with other bloggers? Have you gone "pro" or begun supplementing your income through your blog? Are you a long-term blogger, and how has your online personality developed over the years? These are simply ideas. Think development and tell us what comes to mind.

I've learned a lot about blogging over the last two years, specifically over the last year. But I guess I'm a bit of a slow learner. I get into a comfortable place, and it takes me a while to work up to adding, changing, or enhancing my blog. Part of that is because I just don't feel like I have enough knowledge. Part of that is because it takes me a while to work up to anything--even calling the hair salon to make an appointment for a hair cut. I learn a little bit, as I go.

So no...I've not really branched out into my community. I'm not sure where I would even start, though I love the idea. I guess there are some ways that I partner with another blogger, my sister-in-law Holly @ Words Fueled by Love. We've discussed some events and things that we can do in the near future, but we haven't gotten the logistics worked out just yet. While I am an affiliate for Amazon, The Book Depository, and Books-a-Million, I have yet to receive payment from any of these businesses.

Getting paid to blog is both an exciting and scary concept for me. On the one hand, I think it would be really awesome to get paid to do something that I love. On the other hand, I worry about my ability to maintain my blog's integrity if it were turned into a "job"--if that makes any sense.

While I've only been blogging for over two years, I would consider myself a long-term blogger. At this point in my life, I can't imagine going back to life before blogging. So I'm definitely not going anywhere as long as I have any control over that. I have increased my posts by participating in various memes, and I have changed my reading preferences a little over the last two years of blogging, but I don't think my personality has changed. I've always tried to include personality into my posts, but I have a blunt personality and sometimes that means I just get to the point and move on.

What I think about when I hear "blogger development" is growing my blog. How do I, personally, go about trying to grow my blog?

My number one principle is "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."/"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." What that means is that whatever I hope to do with my blog (gain followers, comments, pageviews, etc), I must first reach out and do for others. Meaning, if I want others to follow me, I follow them. If I want others to comment on my reviews, my memes, my discussions, I must comment on theirs. If I want others to read my posts, I must first read theirs. Why should I expect anyone to do for me what I am not willing to do for them?

I also take my blog seriously. Not the point of not having fun with it, but if you're flippant about your blog--not posting regularly or not interested in your own content--others will feel the same way. If you're excited and passionate about your blog and your posting, others will be able to tell.

Memes are a great way to meet other bloggers, to get introduced to new books, products, and ideas, but I find I want more for my own blog than memes alone. Memes can be great, but just be sure you're excited about your content. In the same way, giveaways will generate traffic to your blog, but I don't want people to follow me solely for that reason.

Finally, schedule, schedule, schedule. I schedule reviews and posts ahead of time, usually about a month in advance. But truthfully I have hard time keeping up with the date each review needs to be posted according to their publication dates because I'd prefer to publish my reviews in order of when I've read them. Using NetGalley, Google Calendar, my home organization binder which has a section for my blog, and Goodreads all help to keep me on track.

*Last minute addition, while I have yet to "meet" anyone in this community that I would prefer that I had not, I do advise caution when commenting on others' posts. It's completely fine to disagree with someone, but there is no need to stir up conflict unnecessarily. When someone mentions that they loved something that you hated, I advise discretion. There is no need to reply to that person that you hated what they loved. You can always reply that you didn't enjoy "it" as much as the poster did. Responding otherwise isn't going to win friends, followers, commentors, or repeat blog visitors--all of which are necessary to grow your blog.

What about you? Do you have any advice for me about development? How to go about connecting with my community? Let me know!

Waiting on Losing Hope

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

Losing Hope (Hopeless, # 2)

By: Colleen Hoover

Expected Publication: July 9th 2013 by Atria Books

256 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

( Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | )

Goodreads description--In the follow-up to Colleen Hoover’s #1 New York Times bestseller Hopeless, the charming and irresistible Dean Holder tells the passionate story that has melted thousands of hearts.

In Hopeless, Sky left no secret unearthed, no feeling unshared, and no memory forgotten, but Holder’s past remained a mystery.

Still haunted by the little girl he let walk away, Holder has spent his entire life searching for her in an attempt to finally rid himself of the crushing guilt he has felt for years. But he could not have anticipated that the moment they reconnect, even greater remorse would overwhelm him…

Sometimes in life, if we wish to move forward, we must first dig deep into our past and make amends. In Losing Hope, bestselling author Colleen Hoover reveals what was going on inside Holder’s head during all those hopeless moments—and whether he can gain the peace he desperately needs.

Oh yeah! That's what I'm looking forward to. What are you anxiously waiting for this week? Let me know!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 1 Part 2 - The Classics

Day 1 of Armchair BEA is introductions and a genre discussion of the classics. I've already posted my Introduction here. For more information on Armchair BEA, please click the link above.

About the Classics

So many directions this subject can go in.

I've always wanted to read more of the classics. The first classic I remember being exposed to is Jane Eyre. I was in the 5th or 6th grade, and my teacher read it to us. However, I didn't really remember much about it, so I re-read Jane Eyre this year. And LOVED IT!

My all-time favorite classic is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I'm not sure I could ever review P&P, but that's okay with me. I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time in the 7th grade. Since then I've read it probably 7 or 8 times--I've lost count. I've got it on audiobook as well so I can experience it whenever I want.

As an Austen fan, I've also read Persuasion, which I love as well. And Northanger Abbey. I've got Sense and Sensibilty, Emma, and Mansfield Park in my possession, but I haven't taken the opportunity to read them yet. I hope to read at least one other of these by the end of the year.

Of course there are other classics that I read during school, but I've made it a goal of mine to read 6 classics this year. So far I've read 2 (Pride and Prejudice re-read and Jane Eyre), but I've got 4 more to go. I was listening to A Tale of Two Cities on audiobook, but I kept getting distracted and truthfully don't really have a clue what's happened. I'm going to need to go back and start over. I guess I better get started.

Sometimes I struggle with the classics because of the language. Typically, I prefer books that I can blow through quickly, so when I read the classics, I find that I have to slow down in order to take everything in. This has hindered me from reading the classics in the past, but I knew I was missing so much by letting that keep me back.

So after all that rambling, I'd like to leave you with two pieces of advice. Read the classics--press on through the language to get to the story. And read Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, or Jane Eyre as your first choices.

Do you read many classics? Which is your favorite? Let me know!

Armchair BEA 2013 - Day 1 Part 1 - Introductions

Day 1 of Armchair BEA is introductions and a genre discussion of the classics. I'll be posting my part about the classics next. For more information on Armchair BEA, please click the link above.

Introduction to Me

1) Please tell us a little about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I answered this question in my post for last year's introduction, but instead of directing everyone back to that post I'll answer it again.

My name is Sandy. I'm a Christ-follower. I'm 26 years old. I married my best-friend 4 years ago. I hope to be a mother in the next year or so. And I'm a computer programmer for an insurance company.

I started blogging in March 2011, so I've been blogging just over 2 years. I started blogging because I love reading. I have several friends who read as well, but we don't all read at the same pace even though we usually read similar books and genres. Blogging became a way for me to get my thoughts about a book into a more permanent form and a way for me to keep up with everything I'm reading. It was also my way of letting my friends who read know what I've read, what I thought about it, and what I would recommend them to read. But over time blogging has become so much more to me, and I've loved every minute of it.

2) Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.

I live in central Alabama about 25 minutes (we measure distance by time here in the South) away from Montgomery--the capital of Alabama--in a city called Wetumpka. There's a good bit of history surrounding Montgomery--most of it involving the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King Jr. type of stuff. But a fun fact about Wetumpka is that the movie Big Fish was actually filmed here. And another interesting tidbit is that my husband was an extra in the movie.

3) Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?

I did participate in Armchair BEA last year. I still plan to try to make it to New York to BEA one year, but that just wasn't in the cards for this year. And Armchair BEA is a great way to participate from afar. It's a great networking opportunity, and not only did I have a lot of fun participating last year, but I also learned a lot as well.

4) Name your favorite blog(s) and explain why they are your favorite(s).

I follow MANY blogs. And it's hard to keep up with all of them sometimes, but I find that it's helped me as a blogger. Not only do I follow tons of book blogs, but I also follow other types of blogs. I'll start with those first.

Cleaning/Organization blogs (these help me to stay inspired for cleaning and organizing my house which is one of my goals for 2013): Clean Mama, A Bowl Full of Lemons, Organization Made Fun, and FLYLady

Hair & Beauty/Fashion blog (while I have yet to perfect ANY of these hair tutorials, I love the ideas that I get to try something new with my hair): The Small Things Blog

Christian blogs (these help me keep my focus where it needs to be): Brightly Salted (my husband's blog/website), Chasing A Lion (my brother's website/blog), A Wordy Woman, Word Points (Diligently Seeking God, Reaching Forward, and Enthusiastic Ideas)

Book blogs: Words Fueled by Love (my SNL's blog), The Caffeinated Reviewer (love her originality), A Librarian's Library (fellow Alabamian and we typically like the same stuff), The Aussie Zombie (she has different preferences than I do, but I like being exposed to the different books she reads), Anna Reads (the first book blog I ever stumbled upon)...I could keep going.

5) What is your favorite part of the blogging community?

I love how open this community is. There is room for all different kinds of opinions on books. There is room for love for all different kinds of genres. I just love it.

I recently tried to participate in a meme that wasn't based in the book blogging community, and while the bloggers were all about linking up to the host site, they just didn't appear to visit the other pages linking up, and they definitely didn't comment on each other's posts. I found that kind of sad. The book blogging community is so good about encouraging you to visit many sites and comment on many posts. And while sometimes I get overwhelmed with all of that because I'd rather be reading, it's a great way to really engage in the community.

Also, this community is really great about spreading tips and tricks around. There are several bloggers that I know that do regular posts on tips on blogging in general, on coding, on all different kinds of stuff. It's a community of people who want to grow and who want to share what they've learned.

I said this last year, and I still feel the same way, I've never encountered someone in this community that I really just wish I hadn't.

So, now it's your turn to tell me about you! Answer these questions (if applicable) in the comments below, or link me to your introduction post!

Top 10 Favorite Book Worlds

Top Ten Tuesday is a post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic was a freebie. I decided to choose Top 10 Favorite Book Worlds.

1) Vampire Academy/Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
2) The Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
3) Harry Potter by JK Rowling
4) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
5) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6) Divergent by Veronica Roth
7) A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin
8) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
9) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
10) Graceling by Kristin Cashore
11) Partials by Dan Wells
12) The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein
That's my Top Favorite Book Worlds. What are yours? Let me know!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dare You To - Review

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, # 2) By: Katie McGarry

Published: May 28th 2013 by Harlequin Teen

462 pages

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million )

Goodreads description--Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

I LOVED Pushing the Limits. That book came at exactly the right time for me. And when the book ended and I found the first chapter to Beth's story, Dare You To, I was so excited. I saw bloggers showcase Dare You To all over the place and I was dying to get my hands on a copy. When NetGalley finally posted that it was available, I stopped everything to sign in and request it.

I read Dare You To in a day. Granted I was stuck in a car for 10 hours straight, so I pretty much had time and opportunity to get it done. But even if I hadn't, this was one book that I didn't want to put down. Beth is such a broken character. She's been through so much. And so many times I questioned how much more she could take, how much more did the poor girl have to go through. But what I loved about Beth was that she didn't give up. Things got messy, she might have gotten hurt, but she kept pressing on.

And Ryan...God love him! He's through and through a really good guy. Constantly wanting to prove himself to Beth. Of course, that's kind of necessary when you start your relationship off based on a bet. But I loved that he fell in love with Beth because of who she was and who she was capable of being and not who she used to be. He really characterizes what it means to help someone grow and move forward in their life.

I don't think it's too spoilery but just in case maybe skip to the next paragraph, but I loved how Katie McGarry said at the end of the book that she originally did see Beth and Isaiah together, but then she realized that neither one of them could grow as long as they were together. I LOVE that! It's so true of real life relationships. Sometimes we have people in our lives that we love with all of our hearts, but whether they intend to or not, they hold us back, or we hold them back. It's not really anyone's fault, but learning to let go is extremely hard and so many people never do, choosing instead to stay where it's safe, comfortable, and KNOWN.

Dare You To did have a slight cliche that I've grown increasingly frustrated with throughout literature today. As frustrating as that was, it couldn't stop me from loving Beth and Ryan and the struggles they had to go through to be together and to grow as individuals and as a couple. I don't know if my expectations were too high or not, but I don't know that I loved Dare You To as much as Pushing the Limits, but it was definitely up there.

Fans of Pushing the Limits, Slammed, Hopeless, The Sea of Tranquility, and fans of emotionally charged contemporary will love Dare You To. I'm giving it 4 Stars. Have you read Dare You To? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Post - 46 & Stacking the Shelves - 19

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

This was kind of a long week. But I'm so thankful for the long weekend. Hope everyone has a Happy Memorial Day! Also, next week starts BEA & Armchair BEA. I'm stoked to be participating in Armchair BEA again this year, and specifically I'm participating as an Armchair BEA Cheerleader.


Monday: Review of Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, # 3) by Cassandra Clare (4 Stars)

Tuesday: Top 10 Favorite Covers of Books That I've Read

Wednesday: Waiting on The Forever of Ella and Micha

Thursday: Review of The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen (4 Stars)


Monday: Review of Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, # 2) by Katie McGarry

Tuesday: Top 10 Favorite Worlds; Armchair BEA Introductions & Classics

Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday; Armchair BEA Blogger Development and Genre Fiction

Thursday: Review of Belonging (Temptation, # 2) by Karen Ann Hopkins; Armchair BEA Giveaways & Literature

Friday: Armchair BEA Keeping It Real & Children's/ Young Adult Literature

Saturday: Armchair BEA Wrap-Up

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

The 5th Wave

By: Rick Yancey

Published: May 7th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile

480 pages

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic

Source: Borrowed from my SNL, Holly @ Words Fueled by Love

( Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | )

Goodreads description--The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Rose Under Fire

By: Elizabeth Wein

Expected Publication: September 10th 2013 by Disney-Hyperion

368 pages

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | )

Goodreads description--While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbr├╝ck, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden - Review

The Coincidence of Callie & Kayden (The Coincidence, # 1)

By: Jessica Sorensen

Published: December 13th 2012

336 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Personal Kindle Library ($1.99 right now)

( Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million )

Goodreads description--There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.

Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved.

Jessica Sorensen participates in the writing style that hooks you with bits and pieces early on in the book that hint at troubled times in the past. The narrator, in this case swapping back and forth between Callie and Kayden, mentions an event of the past in a way without going into detail that hooks the reader. Each time I've been able to figure out what the event was, but that doesn't matter. It's the way she leaves you with other questions about the details behind the particular event that keeps you devouring her books in order to find out all the answers to your questions. In my opinion, it's a great writing strategy.

Callie and Kayden have known each other pretty much their whole lives. But they have one of those relationships where they really just lost touch. Each one dealing with traumatic events in their own lives leaves them little able to see each other during that time period. All that changes the night that Callie saves Kayden's life. These two have issues a mile long and this book reminds me somewhat of Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster--not in the Travis needs anger management or these two have a completely unhealthy relationship kind of way, but in the fact that both of these people have deep seeded issues. They both have unhealthy ways of coping with emotions. And you would think that putting that together would equal a volatile combination. While we do see some of that, for the most part, Callie and Kayden make each other better--they help to heal the wounds inflicted upon the other.

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden touches on a LOT of issues, and neither Callie nor Kayden handled their issues very well. It's hard to comment directly upon these subjects because I have never experienced either the events that happened to Callie or Kayden or the paths they took to alleviate their pent up emotions. However, it doesn't take Psych-101-Seth (a character in this book) to figure out that their way of coping was just as unhealthy as the circumstances that were forced upon them. I wish Jessica Sorensen had taken to opportunity at the end of the book to reach out to readers who might be struggling with some of the same circumstances in their own lives and offer them links, phone numbers, or SOMETHING for them to get help--which is ultimately what Callie and Kayden should have done, but didn't.

All in all, I was pretty hooked on The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden and very much look forward to picking up book 2, The Redemption of Callie and Kayden later on this year. I'm giving The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden 4 stars. Have you read it? If so, what did you think? Let me know!