Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Round Up

My September

Despite the month flying by it seems like Labor Day was ages ago.  I threw a party out at my yacht club which was a blast.  Then on Labor Day the club threw a party with a live band and everything.  I got to race in another club race, this one we received a DNF (did not finish), there was absolutely no wind once we got slightly offshore.  That night I acutally got stuck on the island due to rain, but ended up having an amazing time, someone had his guitar out there and we saw the best sunset of the summer.




Aside from sailing related stuff I took a day trip up to Vermont for a wine and liquor tasting festival.  It was gorgeous up there even though the leaves haven't turned yet.  I may go back on Columbus Day weekend, the foliage is awesome then, especially seeing it from the top of a mountain.



I received my very first Owl Crate.  Unfortunately the book this month was Dumplin' which I already received a copy of (signed to boot!) so I guess that means I'll have to do a giveaway for it at some point soon.  The other goodies from the box were pretty awesome though.  Here's the unboxing photos



In clockwise order I received a dauntless tote bag, a Daenerys Targaryen funko pop keychain (of which I removed the keychain part), an arrow necklace, a meowbox coupon that has a drawing of Hermione and Crookshanks on it, a Hermione print, and Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Daenerys Targaryen has joined Thor on my computer (for now, we'll see how easily they fall) and Hermione's picture is currently on my wall.  


One of these days I'll have to do a photo-tour of my work desk.  I'm pretty proud of the geekiness of it.  Or I can let little things can surprise you guys in my pictures.  Can you find Harry Potter on my desk?  He makes an appearance in two photos!

I've also been busy with my ballroom showcase I did at the end of the month.  It was fun and went well, minus my slightly sprained ankle.  I go through years of dancing with heels and multiple run-throughs the day of the showcase, and I roll my ankle halfway through the actual performance.  Go me!  Fortunately it's not that bad and I was able to complete the routine, without obvious errors (nobody even noticed that my ankle rolled except my partner who thought I had just stumbled).

September's Artsy Stuff

Despite how busy I've been I did get some craft time in.  

My butterfly wing nails 
This design I found on Pintrest

 My Doctor Who nails, I did them to celebrate the start of the new season.  There's a TARDIS on my thumb if you look closely (it was difficult to get it in the shot)
This design is my own, but is inspired by galaxy nail art and dalek nail art.

I made this watch, and I'm totally obsessed with it.  I think I'm going to do another one in a similar style soonish.

I don't think this bracelet is done, it's definitely missing something, it's so plain and boring right now.  I'm thinking about adding small blue beads in between each ship wheel, but I'm not sold on if that'll do what I'm going for with this.


I made these earrings for fall, I want to do another pair in bronze, since I have bronze leaves as well.  I just need to make a necklace to go with them now :)

September Blog News

The summer giveaway was a success, there were four winners, and miraculously all of their top pics were different, so everyone got the set they wanted!  Congrats Dani, Lauren, Kimberly, and Tara!

As I said above I'll most likely do another US-only giveaway for Dumplin' (the actual released book, not the ARC).   I also wanted to do an international one for Winter or Immortal Heights, I'm not sure which.  I may postpone the international giveaway until early next year.  We'll see how crazy life is going to get for me.  I'm currently in the calm before the storm work-wise.

Waiting on Wednesday [20]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating











This week I am waiting on Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus (October 6, 2015)


Summary from GoodReads

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can't shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer's behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she's forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that'll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.


Why I'm Waiting

I love Paris, if there's a book set in Paris I want to read it, then if it's a YA book and deals with romance, I will read it.  This sounds almost Anna and the French Kiss like, but way darker.  I can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday [18]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics









Top Ten Books to Read if You Like Tamora Pierce


1 - Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas



This one has a girl disguising herself as a boy for school (a la Alanna) as well as crazy awesome magic (a la Tris)










2 - The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley



Bad-ass female protagonist along with dragons and magic.











3 - Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling




Students learning magic, as well as three very different main characters (very Circle of Magic)









4 - Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor




This deals with non-human creatures and humans (and not-so-humans) getting mixed up in it.  So, sort of like the Immortals series.









5 - The Queen's Theif by Megan Whalen-Turner



The setting of this one is a lot like Tortall and Gen reminds me a bit of George.










6 - Sabriel by Garth Nix




Strong female protagonist who undergoes a journey to the underworld.  I got a little bit of an Immortals feel to this one, but with the underworld instead of the Realms of the Gods as well as a Trickster's Choice feel.







7 - Crown Duel / Court Duel by Sherwood Smith



It has the same Tortall feel that makes for an awesome setting of a fantasy book










8 - The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede



A bit of a Daine feel to these.  Minus the creepy relationship with Numair.










9 - Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville




His magical world is very Tamora Pierce-esq.










10 - Take a Theif by Mercedes Lackey



This one has Briar written all over it.  I actually think that's the main reason why I loved this book so much, Skif is so much like Briar.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Awake

by Natasha Preston



Summary from GoodReads

Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it...because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.



Thoughts on the Book

I got this book at BEA, there was a huge cool stack of them done in this pretty circle.  The cover is gorgeous, and it came in this dust jacket type thing that added to the mystery of it.  I'd been itching to pick it up and give it a read, so I happily grabbed it when it made it's slow way to the top of my BEA pile.


My Review

This book is about Scarlett, who doesn't remember anything before the age of four.  Everyone things this is completely bizarre, especially the new guy, Noah.  Right when Noah shows up Scarlett falls for him, and the feeling is mutual.  Everything changes when Scarlett is in a car accident and she begins to remember things from her early childhood.

When I began to read this I was like "Oh, okay, we're going with the main character falling for the new mysterious boy meme, it's not horribly overdone yet, so sure".  That part actually wasn't too bad, it wasn't insta-attraction/obsession a la Twilight, it felt a bit more natural, they were friends first then began dating.  But where shall I begin?  Let's stick with characters first.

Scarlett was an okay protagonist, she wasn't a great heroine and she did make stupid mistakes.  But she is a sixteen (or almost sixteen, I couldn't figure that out, it kept switching back and forth) year old girl, they're bound to make a dumb mistake or two.  Especially involving a guy.  Trust me, I once was one, I know this from experience.  At the end of the book when she really needed to stand up for herself she was so weak, she spent most of the time crying.  I get that what she was going through was hard, and she did make the wise choice of pretending she would go along with stuff, but she really spent too much time crying.  It got annoying.  Fast. 

Noah was another solidly okay character.  He's supposed to be this big mystery, who is he, what does he want with Scarlett? But he's just boring - a good guy who likes Scarlett.  Who everyone forgives way too easily.  The other characters are stupid.  Imogen?  Completely pointless, the other "best friends" that I completely forget the names of because they were so insignificant - pointless.  The members of Eternal Light, so stupid, if they're important enough to be mentioned they should at least have some sort of personality.

The parents were weird.  The first time Scarlett goes over to Noah's her parents insist on following to meet him, they then talk to his parents.  This right there should have negated the entire story, but NOPE!  After that point her parents completely love Noah.  They spoke to him for like 5 minutes before he and Scarlett left for the movies.  Noah's parents were also weird, or at least his dad was.  How was the end even a thing?  No father would do that, especially a father who has spent the last 18 years raising his son.  Oops was that a spoiler?  Oh the horror!  Noah being 18 was such a big reveal at the end, despite the totally awkward "foreshadowing" (if you could even call it that) right at the beginning. 

Now for the stupidest part of the whole book.  Lately, completely unrelated to this book, my friends have been talking about how little they remember before the age of 5 or 6.  I remember quite a bit from my preschool years, as does one other friend, the rest don't remember much of anything.  So why, WHY is it such a big deal that Scarlett can't remember anything earlier than her 4th birthday?  Most people can't!  She, her parents, Noah, everyone makes such a big deal about how weird it is that she can't remember anything.  She even goes to a shrink to try to remember!  SO STUPID.  Maybe it would be weird if it were like anything before the age of 10, because that's a solid 4 years that most people do remember parts of.

Overall I give this book a 3/10.  I nearly stopped reading it, but I hate leaving things unread, and I feel like I can't properly hate on a book without finishing it.  And as I've said before, I'm a masochist when it comes to bad books, I have to finish them!

Friday, September 25, 2015

World War Z

by Max Brooks
Narrated by: Max Brooks, Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, Eamonn Walker, Ajay Naidu, Jay o. Sanders, Dennis Boutsikaris, Becky Ann Baker, Steve Park, Frank Kamai, John McElroy, John Turturro, Rob Reiner, Carl Reiner, J├╝rgen Prochnow, Waleed Zuiater, Dean Edwards, Michelle Kholos, Maz Jobrani




Summary from GoodReads

“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. 

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brookssays in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.
Eyewitness reports from the first truly global war

“I found ‘Patient Zero’ behind the locked door of an abandoned apartment across town. . . . His wrists and feet were bound with plastic packing twine. Although he’d rubbed off the skin around his bonds, there was no blood. There was also no blood on his other wounds. . . . He was writhing like an animal; a gag muffled his growls. At first the villagers tried to hold me back. They warned me not to touch him, that he was ‘cursed.’ I shrugged them off and reached for my mask and gloves. The boy’s skin was . . . cold and gray . . . I could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse.” —Dr. Kwang Jingshu, Greater Chongqing, United Federation of China


“‘Shock and Awe’? Perfect name. . . . But what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t! That’s what happened that day outside New York City, that’s the failure that almost lost us the whole damn war. The fact that we couldn’t shock and awe Zack boomeranged right back in our faces and actually allowed Zack to shock and awe us! They’re not afraid! No matter what we do, no matter how many we kill, they will never, ever be afraid!” —Todd Wainio, former U.S. Army infantryman and veteran of the Battle of Yonkers


“Two hundred million zombies. Who can even visualize that type of number, let alone combat it? . . . For the first time in history, we faced an enemy that was actively waging total war. They had no limits of endurance. They would never negotiate, never surrender. They would fight until the very end because, unlike us, every single one of them, every second of every day, was devoted to consuming all life on Earth.” —General Travis



Thoughts on the Book

I read this book years ago and I loved it.  For my road trip I grabbed it, I figured of all books to listen to, this one would be the best.  It is, after all, an oral history on the zombie war.


My Review

This book is about World War Z, or the Zombie War.  It is a compilation of different stories about the war told by representatives of each aspect of the war.  

The audio book is sadly abridged, it cut out some of my favorite parts, like the K9 unit and how important dogs were to the war.  I also loved the astronauts section of the book.  But it was still amazing to listen to.  I loved hearing all the different voices telling the tales.  It made it so much more real.  And that's saying a lot because the way Max Brooks wrote this it sounds 100% plausible.  Well, plausible if zombies were actually scientifically possible.

I thought it was so cool that the narrator, the main narrator not the people giving the accounts, was actually Max Brooks.  It gave it that authentic feel.  Max really did interview these people for the United Nations Postwar Commission, the Zombie War was a real thing.

There's so much I love about this book that the audio did an amazing job capturing.  I feel like I'd just be sitting here listing each part of the book saying "this was awesome, I love how they did this"  So main points of the story I absolutely loved - Battle of Yonkers, Israeli Refugee camp (which they cut short- boo), Japanese atom bomb survivor, and the sweep of the United States - especially the battle they needed to be bulldozed out of.  And check out some of the narrators, they're fantastic! Mark Hamill, Rob Reiner, Alan Alda, Becky Ann Baker. So damn good!

I give this a 10/10.  Fantastic book, fantastic narration.  Max Brooks is as much of a genius as his father.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday [17]

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish that allows bloggers to share their top ten lists for that week’s topics









Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR

1 - A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Brugess



This has been on my TBR for a while, I've now made it a point to read it. 









2 - Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate




I got this one at BEA and I've been dying to read it, other books keep working their way to the top of the pile though








3 - Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas


This one finally came out, so I'm reading it!











4 - Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas



I've been dying to read this.  The day it comes out everything else gets put on hold.









5 - Winter by Marissa Meyer




I've been waiting far too long to read this one.  Again, the day it comes out everything else goes on hold.







6 - Le Menteur by Pierre Corneille



I saw this play in English earlier this year and I've been wanting to read the original ever since.  I'm a huge fan of Corneille as well.









7 - Unlovely by Celeste Conway



Another BEA book that I've been dying to read.










8 - Carry On by Rainbow Rowell




I can't wait to see what Rowell did with this.  I have really high hopes for it!








9 - Emma by Jane Austen




I've been wanting to finish this one for a while.  I restarted it when Emma Approved started, but then stopped reading.  I will finish it this fall!








10 - The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff


I've been putting this one off because it sounds like it's a sequel, and I've never read the first, so I guess I'll have to do that before I read this one.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Goodbye Stranger

by Rebecca Stead



Summary from GoodReads

Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade? 
This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl--as a friend? 
On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

Thoughts on the Book

Another BEA book.  When I opened it up I was surprised to see I had gotten this one signed, I completely don't remember doing that.  I also didn't realize that it is considered a children's book since it takes place in middle school.  I guess I should really pay more attention to the books I pick up...


My Review


This book is about a girl, Bridgette - aka Bridge -, who got hit by a car and should have died, it was through the efforts of the surgeons that she survived.  Goodbye Stranger takes place a few years later once Bridge is completely healed and fully reunited with her best friend Tabitha and new since the accident best friend Emily.  The book deals with the struggles of growing up and basic middle school awfulness.  

Reading this book made me miss my friends from middle school (and high school), the three of us were inseparable, and we can still be found together around town occasionally, although those sightings are become more and more rare the more life gets in the way.  (And, side note, it's super appropriate that this is the review being posted today because it's one of those two best friends' birthday today - Happy Birthday Jessi!)  So I related to Bridge, Tabitha, and Emily greatly.  Even the Sherm side of things I could relate to, although I wish my past matched their future.

I mostly loved this book.  I loved the story-line of what Emily was going through, how the three friends did their best to stick together through it all.  I also loved how welcoming Emily and Tabitha were of bringing Sherm into the group, they didn't force Bridge to choose new friends over old and Bridge never shunned her old friends to hang out with Sherm.  Even Emily did her best to not do that, despite not being around much because of soccer practice.

There were only three things I didn't like, two bugged me a little, and the third I would have hated the book if it went on for more than it did.  First, Sherm's grandfather.  I don't get it, what was the point?  It was such a random thing to have happened and it really didn't add anything to the story.  All it did was allow for Sherm to write letters to him. Second, all the nicknames, no one was called by their full name, it was all Bridge instead of Bridgette, Sherm instead of Sherman, Tab instead of Tabitha, and Em instead of Emily.  For all these characters I actually prefer their full name to their nickname. The third thing was the random chapters in second person.  Who writes in second person? Seriously, it's awful.  It added absolutely nothing to the main story.  It was an unnecessary "mystery" that the resolution of was stupid.  Moral of the story - we all have friends!  

Thankfully those chapters were very short and it was just a minor annoyance.  Bridge's story was so good that it made those chapters fade into the background.

Overall I give this book a 9.5/10.  It would have been a solid 10 if not for those second person chapters.  Seriously though, who writes in second person if you're not writing a choose your own adventure book?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tonight the Streets Are Ours

by Leila Sales


Summary from GoodReads

From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven't met yet.

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she's tired of being loyal to people who don't appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called "Tonight the Streets Are Ours," the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was, either.

Thoughts on the Book

This is another BEA book I got this spring.  After I picked it up I sat in the Richelle Mead line and the girl in front of me was gushing about Leila Sales and how amazing This Song Will Save Your Life is.  This was one of many people who commented on Sales with the same sentiment.  I'd never read it, so I went into this book hearing nothing but awesome things about that book and the author, so I finally got around to picking up this one to read.

My Review

This book is about two best friends, Arden and Lindsay.  They are inseparable and completely opposite each other.  Lindsay keeps getting into trouble by making stupid mistakes while Arden is forever bailing her out and helping her.  Arden is also in a relationship with the star of the high school theater department.  One day Arden finds a blog online and her and Lindsay go on an adventure that changes Arden's life.

I LOVED this book.  I think one of the reasons why was because I happened to read the right book at the right time in my life.  It was the perfect escape for me, a nice bit of light, fun, reading after too many epic, in depth books.

Aside from timing of me reading it, the characters were great too.  Arden was such a realistic character.  I could completely relate with her, I've been her, minus the impromptu trip to NYC to stalk someone she "met" on the internet.  I wasn't really a fan of Lindsay, and I actually loved their fight, it was exactly what needed to happen to them.  I enjoyed Peter too, he was interesting, and way more complex than I originally thought he would be.

All the non-New York secondary characters were really flat, Lindsay's parents were fit nicely into one stereotype, Arden's dad fit into another, and her brother filled the annoying younger brother stereotype perfectly.  Chris was the perfect self-centered asshole of a boyfriend, the girls at school were your typical mean girls.

Once Arden and Lindsay got to New York things got a little bit more interesting character-wise.  The reader met everyone through Peter's blog, but then got to meet them in real life.  It was really fun to have your preconceived opinions about them completely thrown out the window.

As for the plot, it was a cool premise, but not so realistic.  Who drives six hours from middle of nowhere suburbia to one of the country's most major cities when they've been there once before (when they were 8) to find the author of a blog - on a whim.   Then there was the subplot with Arden's mom, it felt off and unnecessary.  Essentially it felt like a plot device for New York.  

Despite everything I didn't like about the book it came together beautifully and it was really just a story about Arden growing up and coming into her own.  The good things from the book completely overshadowed the bad.  To the point of if I wasn't thinking about it to write the review I simply would have said I loved the book.  It wasn't until I had to figure out why I loved it that I kept thinking of all the stupid/bad bits. And I still can't come up with a solid reason why I loved it.  I just did.  It must be some Lelia Sales writing magic.

Overall I give this a 9/10.  It was great, en lieu of what I complained about above - trust me.