Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Dark Lover b y J.R. Ward

*This is not YA

Since I haven't been able to write (stupid wrist!) I've had lots of time to read. My Kindle is really great for that. Now, Dark Lover is a book I actually bought last year. It's a book I started and failed to finish. But since the Black Dagger Brotherhood is an extremely popular paranormal romance series, and I want to understand how well written PNR works, I decided to give the book another go.

I'm glad I did.

Here's the thing: since I read both YA and NA / adult books, I can have trouble switching gears. I can struggle to remember that there are things I will accept from an adult book that I would not tolerate in a YA book for reasons of logic, credibility, etc. When I got back to the point where I DNFd Dark Lover my first go around, I could see exactly why I had, and I still didn't appreciate what was there. However, I decided to continue and on the whole I really did have a good time. Want my full thoughts? Read on.
(Summary from GoodReads)
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.
First, I bet you wanna know what made me DNF my first go around. The sex. It's not that it was poorly written! Rather, it's that after being traumatized by another guy a few chapters earlier (and only by a day or so in time) the heroine then has UNPROTECTED sex with the hero. Yes, she thinks its a fantasy! Yes, he can't give her an STD, etc. But it was the principle of the thing. Remember, I jumped into this on the heels of 5-10 YA books. It felt off to me, and no wonder.

Fast forward to the present? I still wasn't a big fan of this plot development, nor of the fact that there was not really enough reaction to it as the book went on. I found the connection between Beth and Wrath really, *really*, shallow. I didn't really care about them the way I *should* have. It was all too on the surface for me to really get invested.

That doesn't mean I hated the book though! On the contrary, I'm about to start book 4! Why? Because despite the fact that this romance here was not my favorite, the world building, lore, and overall cast in this book--which all carry on as the series progresses--are FABULOUS! J.R. Ward has a real talent for developing a group of characters who really do feel like family, and who felt very real to me. I wasn't crazy about how Wrath and Beth got together, but I was *glad* they did. I also knew I'd want to come back to find out more about other characters I liked, such as Rhage, Butch, Phury and Vishous. (Sorry, people--I'm not a Zsadist fan. Nothing against him, he just didn't grab me.)

As a writer, one thing I really like about this series are the variety of POVs. As someone who uses quite a few, and has characters in her own novels whose lives continue to grow, I found how J.R. Ward juggled this very interesting--and I am thrilled with how it is progressing with each book I read. As I hope I made clear above, it makes the whole series feel like a long term investment emotionally, even though the h/h in this book weren't necessarily my favorite couple ever.
Here's how I see it: Dark Lover is a 'good' book in what is shaping up to be a great series. If you are just looking for *a* romance to win your heart, I don't think this is where I wound point you. *But* if you are looking for a world to invest in and become obsessed with, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and be extension Dark Lover, are highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon 2014

The Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon is hosted by My Shelf Confessions. I've been taking part in these read-a-thons for years now, but what are the odds that one would be happening right when I decided to get back to blogging? The timing could not be more perfect. :)

This is probably the longest read-a-thon I've participated in, and I think it will be interesting to see how that turns out. At the same time, I need to get back into the habit of blogging, and I have a novella rough draft and novel revisions going on, so I'm not trying to win any awards with the number of books vs. number of days here.

What I'm Reading: 

The next few days will likely be all about contemporary YA and NA. Why? First off, books in these genres tend to be quick and are likely to easily grab my attention. Second, I have a ton of paranormal and fantasy reviews to write and these will complement them. And third, contemporary tends to be what I want to read when I am drafting, which is what I'm doing with the Sealer's Promise prequel, To Grant A Dark Gift. With all that in mind, here's what I hope to devour during the read-a-thon:


1. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry --  I've promised to read this book a zillion times and have made a thousand excuses why I haven't. I finally got it for Kindle, so my days of excuses are over. It's time I see what all the fuss is about. I'm very interested in the premise of Katie McGarry's latest book, but I like reading things in order, so let's do this!

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell -- I bought a print copy of this and the print was too small. So now I've got it for Kindle and will finally be able to enjoy it. Yay! I've been excited to read this for a while, as part of my own writing history is being involved in several fandoms. I haven't written for one in years, but that + the whole college thing should meld together in interesting ways.

3. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally -- I'm sure you've all heard my thousand and one excuses for not getting this one done. And I'm sure you know none of them were that I disliked the part I read. So again--let's ditch the excuses and get this done. It's long overdue and a book I've wanted to get back to for a while.


4. Finding It by Cora Carmack -- This is pretty much guaranteed to be great. I've read and loved other books by Cora, so I figure, why not read this one as part of the read-a-thon? I'm taking a few chances on new authors, so I may as well have a couple books in here that are by people whose stories I already know I enjoy. :)

5. Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker -- I have heard so much good about this book and I want to know why. The premise sounds promising, the cover is gorgeous, and it's under 300 pages. What have I got to lose?

6. Played by Liz Fichera -- I absolutely loved Liz's first book, Hooked. So reading Played is an absolute no brainer for me. I liked Sam and Riley in book #1, so finding out how they get together should be a fun journey to take.


N/A ... for now.

Daily Updates:

Tuesday, July 15th

Wednesday, July 16th

Thursday, July 17th

Friday, July 18th

Saturday, July 19th

Sunday, July 20th

Monday, July 21st

Tuesday, July 22nd

Wednesday, July 23rd

Are you taking part in this year's Wicked Wildfire Read-a-thon? Feel free to tell me what you're reading or to link me to your post. :) 

My Top Ten TV Shows / Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, a (usually book related) topic is selected and we list our top ten choices relating to it.

This week's topic is:
My Top Ten TV Shows / Movies

I'm going to lump TV and movies together to keep things simple. If it's a dull, rainy day these are all shows or movies I might turn to.

10. Beauty and the Beast

Yes, there is a lot of criticism that can be leveled at this movie. It's definitely a film where someone can 'touch your Disney' and really pick it apart. But while I did enjoy Frozen (bought it last month) and appreciate it's message, I still feel very strongly that classic fairytales like Beauty and the Beast have their place. The Disney film is the adaptation that made Beauty and the Beast my favorite fairytale, so I feel this list would be incomplete without it.

09. The 10th Kingdom

This is a TV mini-series that is about ten hours long, and it bridges the gap between 'TV' and 'Movie" about as much as it does the gap between our world and a realm made up of fairytale kingdoms. This is one of the first works I saw that blended our world with one full of fantasy elements. This means it was probably one of the first things I saw that did this, and that it likely influenced my enjoyment of other stories that take place in multiple worlds.

08. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Great music, an interesting and quirky plot, and lots of Tim Curry. What's not to love?

07. Sailor Moon

The show that started my love of anime. This is important since when I am writing I envision most of what I am working on as if it is done in an anime style. I don't know *why*, I just *do*.

06. The Princess Bride

C'mon, who doesn't love this movie?

05. Desperate Housewives

I usually don't go for contemporary styled TV, but the characters in Desperate Housewives are so compelling, and the plotlines get so shockingly twisted, that I can't look away. This is also a personal favorite (and I'm sure I'll say this about other shows) because the characters actually grow.

04. 10 Things I Hate About You

Ah, the movie that defined my own teen years. I wanted to be Katerina Strafford so bad. *laughs, shakes head* I had a heck of a time choosing between this, She's All That, Bring It On and Save The Last Dance. Legally Blonde was also a contender, though that wasn't a thing until my first year of University.

03. Avatar: The Last Airbender 

I think what makes Avatar stand out for me is the fact that it has such fantastic depth of character while using animation rather than live action. I mean, seriously... Zoko has more depth than most antagonists in any artistic medium--he even receives redemption. If Sailor Moon fostered my love of animated entertainment that can tell an awesome story, Avatar proves that me aging has not taken away from the fact that it is possible for animation to do this time and again.

02. Mortal Kombat

I saw this movie for the first time when I was in 7th grade, and it has fueled my imagination as a writer ever since. I love the balance between various things like action, exploration, romance, and even humor. I was already invested in the characters and their plight since I played the games. And this, to me, is one of the (extremely rare!) video game movies that does not suck. In fact, (again, to me) this is one of my favorite movies of all time.

01. Farscape

If you like science fiction, fantasy and romance you owe it to yourself to check out Farscape. I've praised other things on this list for character development and continuity, but Farscape takes things one step further. Farscape is, of all TV series I've watched, the only one I've seen that truly feel like it has book quality storytelling. Plus (get this!) if Farscape was a book, it would likely be classified as romantic science fiction. (The only other thing I can think of that comes close is Lexx, and that gets all buggered up.) Science fiction and romance generally do not mix in the TV world, so for those who would like to watch some, and watch it done well, Farscape is a true gem.
So, what are your favorite movies and TV shows? Feel free to leave a comment or link me to your top ten Tuesday post. :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

If We Were Having Coffee (2)

Well, *you* can have coffee--I want tea. :D But that's beside the point, no? Hello, people! :)

It's been a long while, but I'm back. And since it's been a while, it seems like it would make the most sense to start by filling you guys in on some of what I've been up to in the last couple months. I'm going to talk EVERYTHING here, since it's not like you know what I've been reading, writing, etc. anyway. Here we go!

1. Why Did I Decide To Take A Break?

It did totally start out with the issue with my left hand / wrist. But it was long past due, if I'm being really honest. I needed some time away from my blog to sort out my priorities and figure out where I was going and where I wanted to be. Fortunately, that is definitely "here". But regardless of that, I think it was the right thing taking some time and recharging my batteries.

2. What Am I Going To Do Now That I'm Back?

I'm still going to talk about books and writing, but I'm also going to take about other things I love: music, gaming, movies / tv shows... They won't become the focus, but I'm not going to let myself feel so boxed in anymore. Sometimes I'm reading, sometimes I'm not. It may sound weird to say that since I'm a writer, but writing can actually juggle my mood on reading for some reason.

3. What Have I Been Reading?

Expect to see reviews for more of Larissa Ione's Riders of the Apocalypse quartet--and likely some for her actual Demonica novels once I get to them; also expect to see more reviews for J.R. Ward's Dark Brotherhood series. On the YA front, I should have reviews for Pushing The Limits (I know, I am so far behind here!), Stolen Songbird (one of my most anticipated new releases this year, which I just bought for my Kindle last night), Played (very excited to be reading the sequel to Hooked) and After The Storm (which I can already tell you I loved--I just couldn't review because my hands had started acting up.) Last, but not least, let's talk NA. Most importantly, let's talk Until We Fly by Courtney Cole... Well, let's talk about that *soon*, anyway. ;)

4. When Tragedy Strikes, It Strikes Hard...

Six days shy of his tenth birthday, my beloved Schnoodle, D'Argo, went missing. He slipped off the collar attached to his leash while he was in the backyard, and must have bolted since a storm had started. We have tried everything to find him--posters, ads in the paper, online pet search networks--to no avail. We have not given up hope, but being without my little buddy is hard. (And it effects my Mother even worse than me; she was his favorite and they were extremely close.)

5. TV and Games...

I've been doing a full watch of Buffy The Vampire Slayer since the start of July. I've never seen the full series, and my Aunt purchased the entire set so we are cycling through them. I am nearly at the end of Season 2. I will be doing seasonal reviews for Buffy and other shows I watch from now on since I'm kind of a DVD addict.

As for gaming, I got a Wii U in May and have been playing loads of Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World since my hands stopped flaring near the end of the month. I also got Tomodachi Life for 3DS, and Final Fantasy X / X2 Remastered, Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny, and Dragon Age: Awakening for my PS3. I should be writing about some or all of these this summer, as well as sharing my thoughts on PS4 when I get it in August or September. (Can't decide whether I want the normal black one, or the glacier white one that comes with the Destiny bundle.)

6. Writing and Revisions...

Sealer's Promise is STILL not ready. Part of this is because of the flare-up. Part of it was taking a pause the same as with my blog (I used that to game, spend time with family and just try to untangle basically) and part of that was sorting out a major decision to do with the story--which I finally know the answer to and totally love.

I'm also working on a prequel novella, To Grant A Dark Gift, which should be coming out a month before the book. I wanted people to be able to get a more fleshed out version of Sarena's past and her initial meeting with Kyden, Kesyl, Avish and Cait. It's going quite well and since it's a smaller piece than Sealer's Promise, it's a bit more manageable.

I'm going to be giving weekly updates on how my writing is going to try and get things accomplished. We'll see how that goes!

7. Jay Came To Visit...

We got to spend time together from the 17--25 of June. Highlights included dinner with my mother and brother at the Loaf & Ale (right), defeating Bowser in Super Mario 3D World, three trips to Kingston, and beating Beyond Two Souls (which is totally amazing--gamer or not, you want to play that for the story!)

Now that he is home, I am actually working on designing a Photobook of our visit. I'll be doing a video about that and sharing my thoughts on Shutterfly's service sometime in the next few weeks.
So, what have you been up to? Read anything amazing lately? Let's talk! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Quick Notice

Hey guys,

I have injured my wrist and am going to need to bow out of the A to Z challenge. I will be back and posting stuff as soon as I can--thanks to A to Z I have tons of topics I want to discuss and books I want to review.

Thanks for your time. Talk to you soon! :)

My Five Favorite Fast Food Fixes

So, this was suppose to be a review of Frozen. But I didn't get a chance to get the DVD, so I'll improvise.

Some of you probably already know that I *love* fast food. But I thought today, since I need a quick and easy post since the one I had planned didn't happen, that I'd share with you a few of my favorite things.

#5: KFC's Toasted Wrap

It's a small, straightforward thing. A chicken strip, lettuce, and pepper mayo wrapped in a toasted tortilla. I like to add bacon and cheese to them. I think I pay something like $2.50 each. If I grab a few of these and a drink, they make a nice meal. Plus, we have a KFC locally that will deliver to my house, so they're convenient.

#4 McDonald's French Fries

As long as they are hot, I think that McDonalds have the best fries around. Crispy, satisfying and capable of making me want to eat just one more, they are one of the things that I most look forward to when I go to McDonalds for food. Clearly there's a reason those golden arches are such an iconic part of their business.

#3: Orange Julius Berry Pomegranate Smoothie

I actually discovered this on accident. I normally order strawberry banana smoothies when I get one from any store, but when I heard that Orange Julius (via Dairy Queen here) had a smoothie with pomegranates, I was curious. Pomegranate seeds play an important role in Sealer's Promise, so I wanted to get an idea what the fruit tasted like. Well... I still can't attest to pomegranate (since there are other berries here, too.) But I can tell you I'm totally hooked on this smoothie. My parents went out of their way on our trip to Watertown to find a store that sells these when we went across the border last month.

#2: Dairy Queen Chocolate Covered Strawberries Waffle Bowl Sundae

First up, I won't lie: this thing is expensive. But it's big, it's absolutely decadent, and if I had to pick an item on this list that you all need to try NOW, this would be the one. I've only had this Sundae once. I was out with Shawn, Kate, and Jay. But oh my God I want it again (and I'm sure I'll get to have it when Jay visits.) The flavors here make sense and I suppose it could be argued that this Sundae plays it safe. But when you add the fact that you get to eat the waffle, which is covered in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberries at the end, it just takes this whole thing to another level. Yum!

#1: Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheeseburger

I know what you're probably thinking: "Really?!". The JBC is one of Wendy's value items, not one of their (admittedly delicious) premium high end burgers. Yet 9 times outta 10, if I'm ordering Wendy's this is the burger (well burgers--I usually get two) that I want. Why? I hate messy burgers and the JBC keeps things manageable while still giving me all my favorite things. Plus, I'm more likely to eat the veggies on a JBC, where I'll usually order without or pick 'em off any other burger. Lastly, since I tend to buy two of these, I get to enjoy the actual flavor of what I'm eating longer--again, without worrying that it's getting all over my hands. For me, the JBC is the hamburger equivalent of Baby Bear's porridge. It's just right.
So, what's your favorite fast food, and why? Feel free to share! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review: Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione

*This is not YA.

I've looked at the Lords of Deliverance series several times in the past couple years, thought, "Gee, I should read that.", and then went "Nope, not until Sealer's Promise is written." Well the good news, for you and me, is that I caved.

The first book in the series, Eternal Rider, isn't the one I really want to get my hands on. But I'm very much a "start at the beginning" kinda girl when it comes to series. Yes, I realize there are book prior to this from the Demonica series, and now that I'm done this I'm tempted to go back. But still... Starting here was smarter than starting with Lethal Rider or Rogue Rider, right?

Curious what I thought of Eternal Rider? Read on and find out. :)
(Summary from GoodReads)
They are here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't-or won't-understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.
When I sat down to read Eternal Rider, I did so with two questions in mind. (1) How long will it take me to get to the book that made me want to read this series? and (2) Can this author write? That may sound really cold, but I've read a LOT of PNR, and it is my "home" genre. It's what *I* write. So yeah, I won't lie: I'm tough on books I read here, just as I (hope) I am on my own work. 

The good news? Eternal Rider totally rocked. Of the four books I've read by this author, I actually liked Cara the most out of the heroines I met. And while Ares was not my favorite hero, he was up there and I did enjoy him. Plus, the way that the rest of the horsemen, and a wide variety of other characters, were intermixed into the story added a level of richness and 'life' / 'world' / 'lore' that really kept my interest. 

Oh, and I loved the Hellhounds! They play a really cool role in this book and I found it refreshing and interesting. It goes very well with the concept that this series seems to spin around, which is pretty much the idea that any creature--angels, demons, humans, etc--can be good or evil. I won't tell you what our furry, slobbery friends actually do here, but I will say that if you love stories where animals--mythological or otherwise--play a great role, this is a book you'll want to read. 

On the other hand, if you're not a fan of scorching hot sex scenes, this is probably best avoided. It's a crying shame since the book was both really thrilling and really fun, but the truth is the truth. Further, this is one of those books where the sex was, in many cases, there for sex's sake. It wasn't *too* bad, but it was noticeable. 
Original, sexy, and fun, Eternal Rider was a book that I could not put down. If you are a paranormal romance fan and haven't read this yet, I'd highly recommend that you check it out. Please be aware that the Lords of Deliverance series is a spin-off of the Demonica series. I jumped in and did okay, but I'm pretty sure certain things would have been even better if I had read from the very beginning. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Discussion: Do You DNF Books?

DNF. These three letters, used together, are something I often see cited as a book blogger mark of shame. In the book blogger world they stand for "did not finish", and when we use them we are talking about not completing a book we have started. Scandalous!

I'm going to tell you all something shocking: I DNF books. A lot. And I'm in absolutely no way sorry.

There are a million reasons that I might decide not to continue reading something. A few examples:

-- A love interest is seeking romance while still in a relationship.

-- A book is about something other than what I thought it was, or it isn't delivering on the aspect of what I thought it was about that I started reading it *for*.

-- The writer's style and my tastes as a reader totally clash, making me unable to get sucked in.

-- The lead character(s) unintentionally annoy me or bore me.

-- A book has extreme, repetitive, and pointless cruelty to small animals.

-- A book comes across as 'preachy', 'propaganda', or 'manipulative'.

-- I think I need to pin my eyes open if I want to stay awake and keep reading. (Again, I'm bored!)

As a blogger, I can somewhat empathize with why others have issues with quitting a book. Especially if it's an ARC. But at the same time... How are you going to know you will like that book when you approve it for review? If you reach a point where you already know you hate the thing, what are you really gaining from reading more? If you wish you didn't have to finish, are you even the right person to be reading it?

And the gray area becomes much less apparent when I think as a writer. Having people read my work is a gift, an honor, and a privilege. At the same time, one of the first things anyone who wants to write has to learn that some people--hell, maybe even most people--with either not like your work or flat out won't care. That probably sounds kinda callous and disrespectful toward my work, my characters, and other writers. But the need to develop thick skin about this aspect of writing is absolutely crucial.

So, are you curious to see a few of the books I've DNF'd since starting I Write, I Read, I Review? I've picked out three that stand out. (Ironically they are all varying takes on paranormal, which is what I write. Go figure.)

Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter -- This one kinda breaks my heart. Gena Showalter is one of my favorite authors. Has been for years. So to not like her YA title, much less not to finish it, was almost devastating. There is a very pivotal shift in Alice's character that actually made me literally wall-toss this book. I think I've maybe, actually, done that three times in my entire life. I'm tempted to go back and see whether there is eventually an explanation for the shift that made me so angry, but I haven't had the courage to yet. (DNF'd at approximately 25%)

Splintered by A.G. Howard -- I was so sad when I didn't end up finishing this one, but it did something that made me unable to like the heroine. She's going totally batty for her already-taken friend. I don't care if his GF is the biggest bitch on earth. I just couldn't muster any respect for a girl who is hanging onto feelings for someone she cannot have. Move on! Seriously! (And my money says they'll get together. Her weakness + the cliche bitchy gf + my theory = pass!) (DNF'd at between 25 - 30%)

Indelible by Dawn Metcalf -- How did this graduate from being a Kindle sample to a full purchase? I'm sorry if that's harsh, but I really wish I could remember *why*. You see, that's the problem. I actually cannot remember a single thing about this book, except that I DNF'd it because I was bored. So very, very bored. (DNF'd at approximately 20-25%)
So, do you DNF books? Does it bother you when you do? What things will make you stop reading something? I'd love to know! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Love Contemporary YA!

There are two genres that make up the largest bulk of what I read and I'll be covering both this month. Since Contemporary starts with a C, it gets to go first.

Why I Love Contemporary YA: 

What makes Contemporary novels so compelling to me is that sometimes, things that could happen in real life are even more fascinating to me than things that happen strictly in the realms of fantasy or paranormal. Further, as a writer who mostly focuses on speculative fiction, I feel that my own work is enriched by an enhanced awareness and sensitivity to the things people face every day. Hidden demons that might not get as much time as vampires and werewolves but which are much more frighteningly real.

Then, of course, there is the opportunity to, though a book, essentially borrow a character's life. To experience what it would have been like to have a date for prom. To see how someone else's pre-college preparations may have differed from my own. Through contemporary, I can insert myself into any social group, situation, etc. without the need for a time machine or even having to leave the comfort of my chair. Pretty powerful stuff, I'd say.

So today I'm going to post a few trios of books. I'll list my top three contemporary recommendations. I'll share three books by beloved authors that I can't wait to read. And I'll list three books by new-to-me authors that I'm totally dying to check out.

My Must Reads:

I've read tons of contemporary YA that I totally love, and if I tried to list all of it I'd be here all day. Since neither of us have time for that, I've narrowed it down to these three.

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles -- While I love the entire Perfect Chemistry series, Carlos and Kiara's book was my favorite. Probably because Carlos is a bit of a rebel, and Kiara reminded me a bit of me.

Waiting For The Storm by Marie Landry -- A beautiful story of surviving the worst and learning to truly live again. Love, family, friendship... This book has many of the things that make contemporary such a compelling genre.

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens -- This book is equal parts harrowing and hopeful. I absolutely loved the characters (and damn did I ache for them!). Despite all that happens in this book, it is one where I did not want the story to end.

My Most Wanted:

This is kinda unfair, since these are all from authors I've read and loved. I was going to do a category for authors I want to try, but I'm behind on this and I want to go to bed!

After The Storm by Marie Landry -- The next book in the Angel Island series. This one is from Ella's point of view. Considering how she was in Waiting For The Storm, I can't wait to see how she will be here and whether she will be able to win readers over.

Played by Liz Fichera -- Sequel to Hooked, which was one of my favorite contemporary novels last year. I've been waiting a LONG time for this one and I absolutely cannot wait to read it!

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson -- Jandy's first book, The Sky Is Everywhere, isn't just one of my favorite contemporary novels. It's one of my favorite novels *ever*. So when I discovered that she has a new book coming out this year, there was no way it wasn't getting on this list.
So, what are your favorite contemporary YA novels? Which ones are you excited for this year? I'd love to know. :) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Top 5 Book Buying Habits

My book buying habits have changed a lot from when I started as a blogger, to various milestones I've had in the time I've written my blog, to where I am today. As part of the A to Z challenge I thought it might be fun to share five things about my current book buying habits, as of right here, right now.

1. My Kindle is my go-to device. I never thought that I would EVER feel this way, but after buying a copy of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell in November and then realizing I couldn't see it properly to read it, I got very serious about what I actually bring home from a bookstore vs. what I buy off . I love having the ability to alter the font. It saves me from unwanted surprises.

2. Summaries / back blurbs decide whether I will buy a book or approve a review request. I'm all for a good cover and a catchy title, but it's what I read on the back of the book that will make or break my decision. Especially for people contacting me for reviews. I'm sure as heck not a back blurb guru, but it's something I've spent time learning about and something I've gotten pretty good at using to spot books I'll want to read--and books I won't.

3. Now that I buy digitally (mostly) I buy my books one at a time. I use to buy gigantic hauls of books going to chapters, and on rare occasion I still will. But for the most part I prefer to buy a book, read a book. I found that having too many books unread on my shelves actually made me feel like I was under a lot of pressure to get to them, even when they weren't ARCs. So I'm trying to get that a lot more under control.

4. I've finally remembered that I read for me. You'll probably notice that I have four reviews from books in one series this month. I read all four of those in less than a week. Why? Because that's what I wanted to read. If I want to read, the whole reading thing goes a LOT faster than if I'm trying to analyze what should go up on my blog next. Reading to review, rather than reviewing what I read, nearly destroyed my interest in reading. I'm being very careful how I proceed and I take getting the order right (read > review) very seriously.

5. Despite all this, I have not lost my appreciation for print books. I still think they are totally beautiful. I still cannot wait to hold a copy of my own book in my hands. I still buy certain types of books in print, and I still buy print copies of books I love. I'm just a lot more choosy about what goes on my shelves.
So, what are your book buying habits? Have they changed since you started blogging? During your blogging journey? I'd love to know! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Music Review: Artpop by Lady Gaga

It took me a while to get into Lady Gaga. I think it was six months or so after her last album, Born This Way, released that I actually bought it. After loving songs like "Born This Way", "Judas", "Fashion of His Love", "You and I" and "Electric Chapel" I was ready to see what Gaga's new album would have in store.

For the most part, Artpop does not disappoint.

Unlike Born This Way, which had an underlying religious theme which Gaga toyed with in some way during pretty much every song, Artpop's most standout feature, right at first listen, is definitely sexuality. But to simply say that and walk away would be to sell this album short. I can't speak for everyone--music is a really subjective thing--but this is either as good as Born This Way, or even better, as far as I am concerned.

My favorite tracks on the album are "G.U.Y.", "Mancure" and "Swine".

"G.U.Y." had me at it's opening. I initially thought it was "Greetings from Eros..." but the lyrics are actually "Greetings, Himeros / God of sexual desire / son of Aphrodite..." . How can you knock a song where, rather than being about or from a God or Goddess, the piece actually addresses the deity point blank? I don't actually care that I, who have done my fair share of Greek myth studies, didn't recognize him. When I'm working on Sealer's Promise, where many of my ladies are mortal and my guys aren't, this song becomes a pretty much add to playlist instant choice.

"Mancure" was the song that immediately made me decide to buy the album. It's not an extremely deep piece of music, but it's high energy and within ten seconds it produced a scene in my head that ended up leading me to write the entire outline of one of my novellas. Some people might be annoyed by lyrics such as "put your hands all over my bodyparts", but if you can try not to take it too seriously, the song is catchy and a lot of fun.

As for "Swine", what makes it great is the strong beat going on underneath it and the way that it works with the lyrics to put forth a really angry but energetic aura--both anger at a person *and* self anger. Not every time we are attracted to someone, or have someone be attracted to us, is a good thing and while Swine doesn't go too into that, it captures a raw and honest reaction very well.

The rest of the album isn't a slouch, either. "Aura", "Venus", "Do What You Want", "Artpop", "Donatella", "Dope", "Gypsy" and "Applause" are all varying levels of great and for the most part I can listen to this whole album without needing to skip...too much.

What songs bring it down? "Jewels and Drugs" is Gaga with some rappers in a trainwreck of a piece where she sounds like she is guesting on her own album. It doesn't go with anything else. Pass. "Sex Dreams" isn't entirely horrible. I think it's kinda clever how it could be interpreted as being two bi women attracted to each other because of how she does the song in two pitches making it sound like they are singing to each other. But it's not my kinda thing. As for "Fashion"? A beautiful intro leads to a song that does absolutely nothing for me. And the same goes for "Mary Jane Holland"--even a reference to Apollo can't save this one, folks. :p

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with my purchase of Artpop and I',m really glad that I bought it. If you like Lady Gaga and have her other albums, I can see no reason why you wouldn't want to add this to your collection.

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