Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflecting on the Past Year~ Happy Blogoversery

At the end of every year I love to reflect over the changes my life went through in the next year. Its always fun to go back later and look at what happened over the past year. Today it has been a year since I took the leap and wrote my first blog post. I really can't tell you why I wanted to start a blog when I first wrote this post. I had thought about starting a blog a number of times and published that post by impulse. Over the last year it has become a great hobby for me.  My first post was all about New Year's Resolutions, which are my favorite way to celebrate the New Year. All my Resolutions were book related in that post.

Look back over that first month of blogging I think it really took quite awhile to establish my footing as a blogger. The posts I post now are so different from the posts I posted back then. I really figured out by reading other people's blogs the kind of posts I wanted to post. Over the past year blogging has become an extremely joyful hobby. I have a post coming up of the changes I want to make moving forward on my blog so I won't spoil those for you now.

Looking back at the year so much has happened. My cousin Dylan is 1 year old today. It seems like a lifetime ago that we were seeing him in the hospital.

I graduated from High School in May of 2013. It was a glorious day and a day I was very proud to finally accomplish. Graduation taught me what I really could achieve in life. I had the honor of receiving a scholarship at Graduation. I got the letter about Summer Bridge a week later. 

Starting college in July really changed my outlook on life. At the time I didn't really appreciate the experience just wanted it to be over with. Now looking back on my month of college I'm really proud that I was able to complete math and speech in just one month and achieve high grades in both. I think it has helped me to feel more prepared and relaxed as a college freshman. I just finished up my first semester and have learned that all grades were great. I'm extremely proud of all the effort I put into college. I know I will be able to achieve high standards on this academic ground. 

Not to mention my cousin Alli made her appearance in the world on August 23rd, 2013. The day I moved into college. Boy this girl has timing. I wasn't able to meet Alli until November thanks to a lot of hard scheduling. It seemed every time I was home my cousin was busy so we couldn't come see the baby. I have seen in total 3 times now which is pretty good. 

Senior Year was only the beginning of the many changes that would occur in my life. I think this year has been a great year in books and my personal life. I hope to continue to find courage in myself in 2014. I hope to continue to meet great people and continue to move forward in establishing my life. 

I want to thank all my readers for following me over this past year. It has been a fun, joyous journey. I look forward to another great year of blogging in 2014. I have more plans to become more involved in the community and create a more fun atmosphere for everybody on my blog. 

Have a safe and Happy New Year


Top Ten Books 2013

My Top Ten Books I Read The 2nd Half of 2013:
I couldn't choose just 10 books for the whole year and I have a Top Ten Tuesday post on my favorite books so far. These are my Top 10 books from June through December. 

1. Fly Away by Kristin Hannah- The sequel to Firefly Lane. This book got me through a really hard time and I loved to just get lost in their world. I think this book handled grief really well and I hope to reread it next year. 
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins- This book was amazing. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next and I fell in love with St. Clair. 
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth- I put off this book for a long time because of the hype, but I'm so glad I read Divergent. I loved the world Roth created. I loved the character relationships and just fell in love with Divergent. 
4. Looking for Alaska by John Green- I have major book hangover from this book. This book touched me in so many ways I never thought a book would. It brought me to tears. 
5. If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman- I tried not to cheat on this list, but as far as favorites go it is impossible to decide between these two. They were both raw, emotional, amazing novels. 
6. Towering by Alex Flinn- I love the story of Rapunzel and I love Flinn's twist on the classic tale. I really loved that Wyatt was the main character and the mystery of the story.
7. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen- Her newest book was great. Emmaline was an amazing character. I have always loved the name Emma so I was quick to fall in love with her name. She had a strong personality that really made the novel. 
8. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu- Looking back I really loved the themes of this novel and how the novel changed the story of The Snow Queen. Read this book and then go see Disney's Frozen. They are both amazing. 
9. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks- His newest novel was a great addition. Although I don't think this is my favorite novel by Sparks. It kept me up late in the night and ending blew my mind. 
10. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare- This is still my favorite book in the mortal instruments series. It was so action packed and changed everything for this series. City of Glass made the next book in the series City of Fallen Angels a disappointment.

2013 was a great year for reading. I have many more wrap up posts coming in the next week. I hope you had a great reading year and here is to 2014 being an even greater year for reading. 


The In The Middle Reading Challenge 2014 Sign Ups

The In The Middle Reading Challenge is back for its second year. I'm so grateful to everybody that joined the challenge last year. I had so much fun watching the review list grow as readers achieved their goals to not let those books that are In The Middle be left out.

The major change for this year is that books up to 450 pages will count. I realized last year that books that were from 400 pages to 450 pages did not fit into any challenge. I hope this will help people read the books they want to and not just books that complete their reading challenge goals. 

Challenge Guidelines:

  • This challenge will run from January 1st, 2014 to December 31st, 2014
  • All books read in 2014 count that includes bound, ebook, and audiobooks
  • All books must be from 300 to 450 pages in length
  • For audiobooks: look up the page number on Amazon and use that number
  • You do not need to be a blogger to participate although I would appreciate if you leave a comment to tell me what level you are aiming for and a link where I can track your progress. This could be a shelf on goodreads or shelfari or any other website you can think of. I would appreciate non bloggers putting their link in the linky if they can. 
  • For bloggers, grab the button and make sure to post what level you are aiming for. Then be sure to link your post in the linky below
  • You don't have to review books however if you do. I would be glad to read them. You can also link your reviews in the linky below
  • Have Fun (as the quote in the button says "the pages we read transport us into a whole new world". Reading is about the experience and if you do not enjoy reading you will not get the full experience of the story) I want this challenge to create little stress in your mind. 

Leafing through the Pages: 5 books
Cruising through the Pages: 10 books
Fly Through the Pages: 15 books
Never Stop Reading: 20 books

The Linky will be below so please be sure to sign up. Thanks to everybody who joins. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green (no spoilers)

Book: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publication: December 28th, 2006
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (From Goodreads):
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

 After. Nothing is ever the same
My Thoughts:

John Green is absolutely brilliant. I can't believe I waited this long to read this novel. In the span of 221 pages John Green took me from happiness to sadness to peace. Some themes covered in Looking for Alaska are friendship, love, loss, the afterlife, guilt and denial.

The book starts out with Miles Halter moving to a boarding school in Alabama where he meets his roommate Chip (The Colonel) and ever so mysterious, beautiful Alaska Young. Miles is nicknamed Pudge and the story takes off from there.

The character development in Looking for Alaska was amazing. I felt so deeply connected to these characters which is why this book was so incredibly heart wrenching. Miles (Pudge) was slightly awkward, innocent boy from Florida who by his friends standards had a normal life with two parents. Then there is The Colonel who has a mom that lives in poverty and Alaska who says she is homeless.  Pudge had no idea what he was walking into when he came to The Creek, but it was an adventure he will never forget.

Then there is Chip otherwise known as The Colonel. He is Pudge's roommate. The Colonel is confident and very full of himself as far as characters go. There was something inside The Colonel that was broken that made him the way he was. The Colonel is the ring leader and gets Pudge to do many things with him on campus.

Then there is Alaska Young. This is a character that is going to stick with me for a long time. The funny part is Alaska is the type of character that I am least likely to ever look up to. Alaska enjoys sex, drinks and smokes excessively. There is something brilliant about Alaska that I just haven't quite put my finger on yet. She was the character I grew most attached to during this novel. I think part of it was the mystery behind Alaska. She was quick to ask about Pudge and The Colonel's life, but very seldom would she share her secrets.

John Green created a book full of mystery. He starts out with Before, but we have no idea what Before he is talking about. I had all these ideas running through my head of what Before could be. Then Before happened and it was least what I expected or wanted Before to be. When Before happened I was brought to tears and I started to deny that it ever happened. I felt my heart rip to pieces over this Before.

I also love how religion ties into this novel. Not so much one type of religion, but the things all religions share in common. All religions usually believe in some sort of afterlife and some end to suffering. Miles remembers people's famous last words and he tells his parts he is going to The Creek to seek a "Great Perhaps. (Francois Rabelais' last words)" I don't know if Miles really ever achieves his goal, but he does find friends that actually care about him and friends that he actually cares about also. The question Alaska wonders so often during the novel is "How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?" I looked up labyrinth after finishing this novel and it is a series of passages that are hard to find a way out of. Alaska finds her answer in the least expected way.

I didn't understand the cover of this book until about halfway through or the title for a matter of fact. Now I understand what the candle and the smoke represent. John Green crafted a novel that was mysterious and although I don't want to spoil the After I will say that I read that whole section in one sitting. I think an important lessons to be learned from Looking for Alaska is Hakuna Mata: You can't change the past so put it behind you, the only person you can truly control is yourself, and true friends will be there for you through thick and thin. The ones that don't matter will not. As much as The Colonel and Pudge want to blame themselves for the events that happened in Looking for Alaska it wasn't their fault. I think that is something we all need to remember in real life.

This book may be short, but Looking for Alaska changed my life. I was making up my 10 favorites of the 2nd half of 2013. I left two spaces in my favorites for the books I hadn't read yet. Now I understand why I did that. I know I have read The Fault in Our Stars and that is supposedly the best John Green book, but I think Looking for Alaska may be MY favorite John Green book. I did not feel as many emotions reading The Fault in Our Stars as I did over Looking for Alaska. I left a space in my favorites for a reason. That reason is sitting right here in my hands. Looking for Alaska is a brilliantly written novel that will resonate with me for a long time. My only regret is how long it took for me to read this amazing novel.

Thanks for reading


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Book Review: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments #5) (no spoilers)

Book: City of Lost Souls
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publication: May 8th, 2012
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
The New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments continues—and so do the thrills and danger for Jace, Clary, and Simon.

 What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

 Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series
*may spoil previous novels in the series*

My Thoughts
I struggled with City of Fallen Angels so I have to admit I didn't have too high of expectations coming into City of Lost Souls the fifth book in the Mortal Instruments Series. City of Lost Souls took me a while to get into, but once I did the action was intense and kept me reading. Still the novel took me a while to read just because of its pure size. City of Lost Souls has become my 2nd favorite book in the series behind City of Glass.

The character development in this novel was amazing. I have known these characters for five books now, but they seemed dull and boring in City of Fallen Angels. They were alive once again in City of Lost Souls. We finally really got to know Sebastian's character and boy is he evil. The love between Clary and Jace continued, but in a much different way from how I would want it to be. Clary finally seemed like herself again in this novel. I enjoyed the love story between moody Magnus and jealous Alec. I even enjoyed the parts with Simon because Isabelle has always been one of my favorite character. I actually think these two would make a good match up, but we will see what choice they make in the final novel City of Heavenly Fire. We also see Maia and Jordan's characters developed more fully so we can see their personalities. I always love Clary's overprotective mother, Jocelyn and Luke's role in each novel.

The world building as always is amazing in City of Lost Souls. Clary is in very many different places in this novel and Cassandra Clare was able to keep a vivid image in my mind about each one of them. I think Cassandra Clare made the transition from characters flawless. It didn't feel like she was leaving out a missing piece of Clary's life before jumping back to Simon. It all seemed like it was building on the story. I loved all the downworlders and mystical creatures that helped Simon, Magnus, Alec, Maia, Jordan, and Isabelle in this novel. I think this novel really helped me further understand Cassandra Clare's shadowhunter/warlock world. She really explained what they can and can't do relating to Angels and Demons. Some the answers seemed easy until Magnus explained the consequences of every action.

The fight to save Jace wasn't easy and I liked that fact. It took 500 some pages to come to a conclusion and find their not so happily ever after. Of course Cassandra Clare left this novel with a huge cliffhanger so that I can highly anticipate City of Heavenly Fire. All I know is if the last novel has half the action of this novel it is going to be amazing. There is going to be lots of action with Isabelle, Simon, Magnus, Clary, Alec, Jace, and Sebastian. The shadowhunter world will never be the same after reading City of Lost Souls.

Thanks for Reading


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kristin Hannah Reading Challenge Sign Up

This photo is used with written permission from Dandelion Moms

It is no secret that I have fallen in love with Kristin Hannah this year and her world of Firefly Lane. That is why I decided to create a reading challenge so I could spend a year lost with Kristin Hannah novels. 

I created the Jodi Picoult reading challenge last year and have to admit I myself did not have success with the challenge and it created very little buzz around the blogging community. I have to say I don't expect many people to join this one either, but I'm excited to host it never the less.

I plan to reread Firefly Lane and Fly Away in 2014. I might even host an event to go along with me rereading the novels. I don't know. For sure Firefly Lane and Fly Away have been the books I have recommended the most in 2013 and will continue to do so. These books were so deeply emotional and these were the characters I  got the most deeply involved with in this past year.

I created this challenge so I could read more Kristin Hannah books and I hope that other people will join in with me. Her main theme in her novels is Friendship, which is a theme that is so easy to relate to. Kristin Hannah is an author that I hope everybody will give a try and I hope you will join in this challenge with me.

The Challenge Details:

  • The Challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st, 2014
  • Any Kristin Hannah books finished after January 1st will count
  • The goal is to read or reread as many Kristin Hannah books as possible
  • any format will count (book, ebook, audiobook)
  • you can list books in advance or list them as you go. It is not required that you review the books for this challenge, but if you do feel free to link them below
  • rereads and crossovers from other reading challenge are allowed and encouraged
  • You do not have to have a blog to participate in this challenge as long as you have a site to keep track of your progress. Post a link in the linky below where I can keep track of your progress

  • Walk Down the Road: 1 to 2 novels
  • Evening Stroll: 3 to 4 novels
  • Sprinting Down Firefly Lane: 5 to 8 novels (thanks Tara)
I don't expect to read any more than 4 novels this year of hers. If you read more and would like to come up with a new level name for me please do. I want to thank everybody in advance for joining. I will look forward to reading all the lovely sign up posts. The linky will be posted below. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Covers of 2013

Hosted by Fiktshun and Magical Urban Fantasy Reads and Two Chicks on Books

All these books are books I read this year. 

1. Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstilskin by Liesl Shurtliff- This book has a beautiful imaginative cover that I just loved looking at. I love the castle in the background and the two characters descriptive features. 
2. Rapunzel Untangled by Cindy C. Bennett- This cover was a beautiful representation of a wonderful book. 
3. Fly Away by Kristin Hannah- One of my favorite books of 2014 also features one of the most beautiful covers. I love the lanterns and the purple. I also love the bikes in the background as the representation of the first novel. 
4. Towering by Alex Flinn- I think the gray is perfect for this cover and I like how we are able to see the girl with all her hair. 
5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer- I think this cover is absolutely beautiful. I love the way Scarlet's cape flows on the cover. Cress the third novel in the lunar chronicles also has a magnificent cover.

6. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen- I love the letters and the simplicity of this cover. I think it represents a warm summer day. 
7. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult- A girl reading a novel is a great representation of this beautiful story.
8. When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney- I really enjoyed this book and I think the cover represents that there is light at the end of the tunnel. 
9. Doomed by Tracy Deebs- This cover represents the technology in this book. I think the colors are perfect fit for the novel.
10. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks- most of the novel takes place on a ranch so this is the perfect representation of the novel. It represents a warm spring day and makes me think of warm open fields. 

Top Ten Books I wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me for Christmas

Top Ten Tuesday is Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This Top Ten Tuesday is the 10 books I wouldn't mind Santa bringing me for Christmas. I know for a fact I'm not getting any more books for Christmas so I picked out Ten books that I absolutely plan to read in 2014. Yes, I wouldn't mind Santa bringing me any of these Ten novels. 

Top Ten Books I wouldn't mind Santa bringing me for Christmas
These first five are Rapunzel themed books I have chosen to read for an event I have coming up in March or April depending on how fast I read these novels. 
1. Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
2. Golden by Cameron Dokey
3. The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon
4. Rapunzel Revenge by Shannon Hale
5. Twice Upon A Rapunzel by Wendy Mass

6. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows- I will be joining the Incarnate series readathon so I will be reading the first book to kick it off. 
7. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George- I have wanted to read this book since I first heard about it this year, but haven't so I hope to get to it next year. 
8. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George- This has been another book bloggers have raved about that I just must read. 
9. Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey- Another book in the Once Upon a Time series I would love to read.
10. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner- I found this book in People when it came out in 2010 and I have been telling myself to read it since. For some reason I have never picked up this book. I want to make it a priority in 2014 to read this novel. 

What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?

Have a safe and happy Holidays


Monday, December 23, 2013

End of The Year Readathon Wrap Up

I read a total of 534 pages in 13 hours and 26 minutes in 14 days. This is about 38 pages per day. I do have to admit this was not my best readathon. I just really haven't felt like reading. I read 23 hours in a week for bout of books and only read 13 hours for a 2 week readathon. I have been busy making end of the year posts for the blog and trying to stay on top of the blog that maybe my reading has been neglected a bit.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book Review: Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Book: Breadcrumbs
Author: Anne Ursu
Publication: September 27th, 2011
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn't help it - Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn't fit anywhere else.

 And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it's never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack's heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it's up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she's read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn't the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

 Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

My Thoughts:

Breadcrumbs was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013 after I read a review by A Backwards Story. She wrote this review way before I was a blogger, but I believe I found it around April. Although I really wanted to read this book I put it off until now. I think one of my key problems is that I had so many other books I needed to complete to satisfy my reading challenges. Another key reason was this book was at my library and it was always there on the shelf so I knew I had time. When I found myself down to one book left and no other books checked out from the library I knew I had to make a library trip. That is when I finally picked up Breadcrumbs.

Another key point that really pushed me to finally pick up Breadcrumbs was Disney's Frozen. I saw the movie the week before and I absolutely fell in love with the movie. Breadcrumbs is a retelling of the Snow Queen, which is a fairy tale I know little about so with Frozen in my mind I had the basic story of the Snow Queen in my mind as I began Breadcrumbs.

I do have to admit it took me a long time to become intrigued in this novel. The beginning of the novel was necessary to explain Hazel and Jack's friendship, but I found it to be slow moving. Once the White Witch got involved and Jack's whole personality changed. I became very interested in the novel. Hazel is indeed a typical 11 year old girl. She is trusting of people she shouldn't be trusting of and when her friend disappears. She knows that she has to rescue him. I loved her time spent in the forest and all the fairy tale characters that made it into this retelling.

As a whole this story is about the power of friendship. Jack and Hazel's friendship is the key to this novel and the reason Hazel makes the choices that she does. This novel is also about discovery, adventure, imagination, and growing pains. Hazel matures a lot with her journey through the forest and realizes that there is a danger in the land. I think Anne Ursu did a beautiful job of telling this story. I'm so glad I got to reading this book this year. Jack and Hazel are characters that are going to stay with me along with their beautiful story. I thoroughly enjoyed Breadcrumbs and Anne Ursu's take on The Snow Queen. I will look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

My final point is about the beautiful cover of this book. I put the falling snow on the book cover using Google Plus. I think this book is a great book to cuddle up with during a cold snowy day. The colors of the cover are magnificent. I like how it has elements from the novel, but is not too busy. Also who doesn't like a book with pictures. This novel has beautiful artwork inside, but there wasn't too many and none of them took away from the story.

Thanks for reading


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Anna #1) (no spoilers)

Book: Anna and the French Kiss
Author Stephanie Perkins
Publication: December 2nd, 2010
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

 But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

My Thoughts

I can't believe that this novel was a debut, but besides being Stephanie Perkin's first book. It was also a nanowrimo novel meaning the first draft of this novel was written in 30 days. The only reason I picked up Anna and the French Kiss was to satisfy a reading challenge. I'm so glad I read this book because it has become one of my favorites of 2013. I always wanted to read this novel and often found it hard to put down when homework needed to be attended to.

The story starts with Anna, a teenager who is shipped off to paris to live in a boarding school for her senior year of high school. Anna doesn't want to go to Paris, but instead wants to continue going to high school in Atlanta with her friends. Everything changes when Anna meets beautiful, smart, and charming Etienne St. Clair.

If I could marry fictional characters I would seriously be married to St. Clair. He was hot in my mind and the whole novel I was rooting for him and Anna to get together. St. Clair was actually a very complex character. His actions sometimes were not justified and I was constantly questioning his actions. St. Clair went through some very hard times in this novel and I felt that his emotions were written in such a complex way that they felt very real.

Anna was also a great character. I really related to Anna because it was her first time being away from her family for a long period of time. I have also had to adjust to that this year with college. I think Anna is a very mature character and handled her challenges well. Anna also had to adjust to a different culture, which I think would be very difficult. I loved Anna's character and would love to read another novel with Anna as the main character. I found Anna to be highly relatable in the fact that she acted like a normal teenage girl would act when put in the situations she was put in.

The main focus of this novel was Anna and St. Clair's friendship, which went through many ups and downs throughout the novel that left it where the novel ended. Each interaction had me waiting to read more and wait until the next time they would talk. I was very intrigued by the whole situation.

Congratulations to Stephanie Perkins on a well crafted young adult novel. I loved every moment of this novel. I found every character to be a great addition. Meredith had to be my favorite besides Anna and St. Clair. I also thought that Stephanie Perkins did a great job with the setting being in Paris. I have never been to Paris, but her novel described in such a way that I felt like I was walking beneath the Paris lights. I highly recommend Anna and the French Kiss. It was way more than I ever expected it to be. I can't wait to read the companion novel Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent Trilogy #2) (no spoilers)

Book: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication: May 1st, 2012
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
One choice can transform you, or destroy you.

Every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves, and herself, while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

My Thoughts:
I have to say that I enjoyed Divergent a lot more than I enjoyed Insurgent. In saying that Insurgent is still an amazing, beautifully written book. I enjoyed learning more about Tris' faction world.

In Divergent the characters were woven into the novel in a way that helped me keep track of the characters names. I found myself getting confused on which character Tris was talking to in Insurgent. Veronica Roth's writing is still absolutely beautiful although it was a little confusing in Insurgent. I also found Insurgent a little hard to get into Insurgent because the beginning was a little bit slow. I was looking for a book that was actioned packed. Eventually the book picked up and I became very engrossed in this wonderful story. Then I came to a point where the novel was so good that I didn't want to put the book down. There was an intense scene later in the novel that really got me into the novel.

Tris and Four's relationship continues to be interesting and intense in Insurgent. I continue to be interested in their relationship. Jeanie is a character, I can't say I liked her as a character, but I definitely loved the action she brought to the story. We also got to learn more about Marcus and Four's mom Evelyn. Tris' brother Caleb also was a significant character in this novel. I also loved how all of the factions were incorporated into Insurgent. I read Insurgent in a remarkably fast amount of time thanks to being on Thanksgiving break. I basically read my whole entire break and couldn't put the book down.

Although I still enjoyed Divergent more. I really did enjoy Insurgent. Towards the middle of the book I couldn't wait to find out the ending and what choice Tris would make that would ultimately break or save the faction society. The ending of the novel was quite a cliff hanger although not as big of a cliff hanger as I expected. Insurgent is one of those novels I think I would pick so much more up if I read the novel a second time. I hopefully will reread it in the future. I hope to get my hands on a copy of Allegiant soon.

Book Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (no spoilers)

Book: When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publication: June 4th, 2013
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (From Goodreads):

Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity.

 Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

 Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore. 

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

My Thoughts:
When You Were Here starts out on the day of Danny's graduation. His mother died two months earlier after losing her five year battle with cancer. Graduation was the one day his mom wanted to see. I can relate to this aspect as I graduated from high school this year and was praying that my own grandparents would be able to attend my graduation. Tears filled my eyes to see them there and healthy. Unfortunately things didn't work out like that for Danny. This books was about love, pain, grief, happiness, and forgiveness.

Then Danny gets a letter from Kana talking about possessions left in Japan. Danny decides to buy a one way ticket to Japan and go find out more about his mom. I loved how realistic the character of Daniel was. He was a very realistic male character. He felt lost and didn't know how to make sense of his life after his mother's death. I especially loved the character of Kana. She was energetic, lively, and not afraid to be herself. I loved her relationship with Daniel throughout the novel. She helped Daniel to find out key moments about his mom's life.

Secrets and lies were another key aspect of the book. Daniel's mom kept many secrets in Japan and it was Daniel's job to uncover them. Daniel finds out from Kana more about his adopted sister Laini. Laini was adopted from China and left the family in her college years to live in China. Daniel hasn't heard from her, but he finds out secrets about her while he is in Japan. He finds out more about his ex-girlfriend Holland too. Holland was his mom's best friend's daughter when Daniel and Holland started dating so they already had an easy friendship to build off, but something changed when Holland went away to college. This part was the most intense part of the book. It had me up late to try to read farther and figure out what was going to happen.

The most important theme of this novel was acceptance. Daniel had to come to acceptance with many aspects of his life. He had to make important decisions regarding a variety of situations. He had to find peace and a new life without his mom there to guide hime. When You Were Here was an amazingly, emotional novel, and I would highly suggest reading it. My favorite part of When You Were Here is that it was set in Japan and narrated by a male character. There are both things I don't see very often that made Daisy Whitney's book unique. Daisy Whitney has beautiful writing and gave her characters strong voices throughout the novel. I would gladly read another novel by this author. When You Were Here is a novel I believe many people would enjoy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (no spoilers)

Book: The Longest Ride
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publication: September 17th, 2013
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads):

Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

 A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

 Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

My Thoughts:
The Longest Ride was by far not my favorite Nicholas Sparks book, but in saying that I'm always up for a good love story and Sparks didn't disappoint in that aspect. The Longest Ride took a long time to get interested in. There was never a time when I didn't like the book, but there were times I was bored and wanted to just skip those parts. Once I got into The Longest Ride I was hooked.

Ira was a character I often struggled with. The beginning of his chapters were often dry and repetitive. The flash backs of Ira and Ruth's marriage was the part I liked best. It showed the difference in time period. Their love radiated off the pages. That is how I fell in love with their characters and the story of their lives.

Then there was Sophia who had just broken up with her boyfriend. She meets Luke, a cowboy, by chance and that is where their love story begins. Luke is a bull rider with many secrets and the secrets have the power to destroy their relationship. I believe the writing style was different than in Sparks other novels and there were times I felt it was hard to connect to Sophia and Luke. I did very much fall in love with their love story and was dying to know their ending. I enjoyed Sophia's chapters the most of this novel. I was very connected to these characters by the time I reached the end of the novel.

Nicholas Sparks crafted a novel full of fear, excitement, love, anger, joy, and pain. I felt myself on the roller coaster of life. The last 100 pages of Nicholas Sparks novel kept me up late into the night to finish. I had to know the ending. I have to say that Nicholas Sparks didn't disappoint. Ira, Luke, and Sophia finally connected as characters in a way which I would have least expected it. The ending was nothing like I predicted and I enjoyed the fact that although I have read several Nicholas Sparks books he is still able to craft novels that keep me up late at night and surprise me. This is not the first Sparks book that I have stayed up late to finish and I guarantee it won't be the last. Nicholas Sparks continues to prove himself as a superb author. 

Thanks for reading


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten New To Me Authors 2013

Top 9 New to Me Authors:
These are authors I read for the first time this year and will continue to read their books in the years to come. 

1. Marissa Meyer- I read both Cinder and Scarlett this year. I fell in love with both books and I can't wait for her third novel Cress when it comes out. I think Marissa Meyer did an excellent job retelling the story of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood in a new unique way. Rapunzel just so happens to be my favorite fairytale and my favorite Disney Princess so I'm super excited to see how Marissa Meyer presents Cress. I have a special event coming up in honor of Cress. 

2. Gayle Forman- I read Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay, and Where She Went this year. I loved all three books. Gayle Forman has such emotionally raw writing. I feel like I am right there with the characters. I can't wait to read Just One Day and Just One Year. 

3. Cassandra Clare- I read City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels this year. I loved every single book and the movie for City of Bones was wonderful. Cassandra Clare created a vivid imaginative world in the mortal instruments series. I have fallen in love with her characters and can't wait to find where they end up. I hope to continue to read her books. I want to read The Infernal Devices Series and finish off the mortal instruments series. I'm hoping to read City of Lost Souls this year and the last book in the mortal instruments series, City of Heavenly Fire comes out in March 2014. 

4. Veronica Roth- I read Divergent and Insurgent this year. I'm hoping to get to Allegiant before the year ends. The first two novels in the Divergent Trilogy were beautifully written, well-crafted worlds, and the characters were so easy to fall in love with. I can't wait to find out what happens to Tris and Tobias in the last book. This is a series I would highly recommend. 

5. Stephanie Perkins- The only book I read by Stephanie Perkins was Anna and the French Kiss, but I so thoroughly fell in love with that book that I know I will be reading more novels by this terrific author. I think she did a beautiful job on the storyline and I still can't believe Anna was a debut and a nanowrimo novel. 

6. John Green- This year I read Paper Town and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I'm hoping to read Looking for Alaska before the year is over. I think John Green is such a raw, emotional writer. He crafts characters that are fascinating and novels that are either terribly happy or terribly sad. He created characters that stick out as vivid pictures in my mind. I can't wait to see what The Fault in Our Stars looks like on the big screen. 

7. Alex Flinn- The two books I read by Alex Flinn were Breathing Underwater and Towering. I didn't think I was going to like Breathing Underwater, but I think Alex Flinn did an excellent job on the story. It was real and emotional. Towering was a Rapunzel retelling so the chance of me not liking it was slim. I loved the way she retold Rapunzel's story. The review of Towering will be coming up during an event I have going on next year. 

8. Cindy C. Bennett- She wrote Rapunzel Untangled, which I absolutely could not wait to get my hands on. I loved the way she retold the story of Rapunzel and put some of the dark elements in the story. My review for Rapunzel Untangled will also be up next year. 

9. Daisy Whitney- She wrote When You Were Here, which was an amazing novel full of real emotions, narrated by a boy, and set in Japan. I thought the novel was very unique and well-crafted. I hope to read another book by Whitney in the future. 

Thanks for Reading


Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth (no spoilers) (Divergent #1)

Book: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent Trilogy
Publication: February 28th, 2012
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

 During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Thoughts:
I have to admit that Divergent is a hard book to write a no spoiler review over. It is also a hard book to just not totally fangirl throughout the review. Words can not explain how much I loved this book. I initially put off reading Divergent because everybody loved this book so much. I didn't want to disappoint anybody or have to write a negative review over this book so I put off reading it. I also didn't want there to be another book that my sister loved and I didn't.

I'm glad I read this book because I fell in love with Tris and Veronica Roth's dystopian world. The beginning of the novel filled me with so many questions and excitement. I couldn't wait to find out which faction Tris would be in and what the ending of this novel will be. We also see many themes in Divergent such as growing up, finding yourself, self confidence, and choices. Tris has many choices to make and each choice will effect her life in a different way.

The rest of the book is very intense with just the right spark of a love story. It is hard for me to write this part without spoiling anything, but I loved every part of initiation. It put fear in my mind for Tris and the other characters. I loved that Tris was a strong and capable female character. She was fully capable of showing her worth in this faction through her fighting and defense skills. Tris was a complex character that I felt a connection to during this novel. I can't wait to read more about Tris in the upcoming novels. It made me think about myself and which faction I would choose. It also gave me the encouragement to continue reading even though I should have been doing something else.

Four was one of my favorite characters of this novel. He is the faction mentor of the faction Tris chooses. He is slowly developed as a character and we learn that he is quite complex. He has many similarities with Tris. He also is unique in this faction's statistics. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't continue, but I will say that Four is quite the character and I believe he will be important in the upcoming novels.

I found it very interesting also the relationships among the five factions and how they work or don't work together. I see this relating a lot to our world where some countries get along while others are constantly at war. As usual in dystopian books the government is corrupt creating another interesting dynamic for Divergent.

Divergent is the fastest book I have read during college so far which goes to show how amazing I thought this novel was. I fell in love with Veronica Roth's characters and her world. I immediately went and put myself on the hold list for Insurgent and Allegiant. I can't wait to continue the series. The ending of Divergent could have made this just one book, but I'm glad Veronica Roth decided to continue the series. I want to find out what choice Tris makes next.

Thanks for reading


Friday, December 13, 2013

Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman (no spoilers)

Book: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication: April 5th, 2011
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Summary (from Goodreads):

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

 Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

 Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

My Thoughts:
It has been three years since we have seen Adam and If I Stay. Adam has changed a lot over the past three years especially in his level of stardom and his relationship with his band. Mia and Adam are brought back together when Adam gets stuck in New York.

Mia and Adam's relationship is beautiful. There are so many unanswered questions at the beginning of Where She Went. How did Mia and Adam break up? Why doesn't Mia want to be with Adam? What made Adam the way he is? These questions kept me reading and oh the emotion. I fell in love with Mia and Adam in If I Stay. The emotions in Where she Went are so raw. Where she Went was one of the unique novels that I got lost in for a while. I never wanted to stop reading.

If you thought the ending of If I Stay was raw and emotional Where She Went's ending will not disappoint. Of course I was hoping for a happy ending, but I didn't expect one. I have to admit I'm a bit of a pessimist about young love and relationships working out when people are in their early 20s, but in my heart I  wanted to believe that Adam and Mia's relationship would. Gayle Forman gave me an ending that surprised me and moved me. I read the ending over and over agian. It was so absolutely beautiful. I wanted to read another book about Adam and Mia after finishing this one. Gayle Forman is an incredible author and I can't wait to read Just One Day and Just One Year soon.



If You Have Read Where She Went Join In The Discussion With Me
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

End of the Year 2013 Readathon Cram Progress

Day 1 December 9th
It was a slow day, but I hope to get more done today. 
pg 98 to pg 111 8:47 to 9:29
pg 111 to pg 120 10:47 to 10:57

Pages Read: 22
Time Read: 52 minutes

Day 2 December 10th
Teaser Challenge is hosted by Book Loving Hippo. The Challenge is to post two sentences from the current book. 

"Jack and the white witch took off in the sleigh, and in the blink of an eye they were in the woods behind the sledding hill. Jack had been in these woods many times, but they had never been like this." ~ Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

pg 120 to pg 132 10:26 to 10:41 pm

Pages Read: 12
Time Read: 15 minutes
Total Pages Read: 34
Total Time Read: 1 hour 7 minutes

Day 3 December 11
pg 132 to pg 147 7:32 to 7:55
pg 147 to pg 163 10:49 to 11:05

Pages Read: 31
Time Read: 39
Total Pages Read: 65
Total Time Read: 1 hour 46 minutes

Day 4 December 12
pg 163 to pg 191 3:42 to 4:20
pg 191 to pg 193 5:31 to 5:34
pg 193 to pg 199 10:26 to 10:34
pg 199 to pg 211 10:37 to 10:50

Pages Read: 48
Time Read: 1 hour 2 minutes
Total Pages Read: 113
Total Time Read: 2 hours 48 minutes

Day 5 December 13
I didn't do any reading today and I really don't know why. I didn't read a single page today. Today's Challenge is My Favorite Book to Movie of 2013. 2013 had so many good books to movies. I really have a hard time picking a clear winner. I'm going to have to pick: 
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. 

The Mortal Instruments Series has become one of my favorite series of this year. I think the movie did a great job following the book. I also loved Lily Collins as Clary and Jamie Bower as Jace. What is your favorite book to movie of 2013?

This challenge was hosted by Falling for YA

Day 6 December 14
pg 211 to pg 285 10:26 to 12:15
pg 285 to pg 312 12:54 to 1:24 (finished Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu)

pg 0 to pg 7 6:51 to 6:57
pg 7 to pg 9 7:35 to 7:41

Pages Read: 110
Time Read: 2 hours 31 minutes
Total Pages Read: 214
Total Time Read: 5 hours 19 minutes

Today's Challenge is hosted by Book Briefs. The challenge is to recommend a book for each season.

A book for a snowy day
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu is a retelling of the Snow Queen. I think it is fitting for this challenge seeing as I just finished the book. The cover is beautiful and the story is imaginative. This book transported me into a whole new world. I think it would be a great book to cuddle with on a cold winter day. If only I didn't have to face the cold to go to class. 

A book for a rainy day
I have to recommend Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. This book is all about love and friendship and two girls that live a lifetime together. I think this would be a great book to snuggle up with when it is rainy and dreary outside. This was definitely one of my favorite books of 2013. I fell in love with the characters and would love for it to be a more widely read book. 

A book for a Beach Day
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins was by far one of the best romance novels I have read this year. When I'm reading by the pool I want a book that is light and fun. I think Anna and the French Kiss had just the right amount of series parts to make it believable, but it was also such a fun read. 

A book for a Spooky Night
I don't really think this book is scary, but it definitely has a lot of action and adventure to be a wild ride. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is a character driven book set in a beautiful, vivid world. If you need anymore reason to read this novel it was also made into a movie this year. Go get your hands on a copy. 

Day 7 December 15
pg 9 to pg 28 8:16 to 8:51
pg 28 to pg 40 10:59 to 11:29

Pages Read: 31
Time Read: 1 hour 5 minute
Total Pages Read: 245
Total Time Read: 6 hours 24 minutes

Day 8 December 16
pg 40 to pg 46 10:17 to 10:35 am
pg 46 to pg 52 10:48 to 11:01
pg 52 to pg 59 11:58 to 12:11
pg 59 to pg 67 12:13 to 12:27
pg 67 to pg 69 4:09 to 4:12
pg 69 to pg 84 8:53 to 9:17

Pages Read: 44
Time Read: 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Pages Read: 289 
Total Time Read: 7 hours 49 minutes

Day 9 December 17th
pg 84 to pg 108 1:13 to 1:52
pg 108 to pg 126 1:54 to 2:26

Pages Read: 42
Time Read: 1 hour 11 minutes
Total Pages Read: 331
Total Time Read: 8 hours

Day 10 December 18th
pg 126 to pg 132 8:01 to 8:11
pg 132 to pg 133 7:25 to 7:27
pg 133 to pg 148 10:01 to 10:22

Pages Read: 22
Time Read: 33 minutes
Total Pages Read: 353
Total Time Read: 8 hours 33 minutes

Day 11 December 19th
pg 148 to pg 172 3:22 to 3:51
pg 172 to pg 184 3:56 to 4:18
pg 184 to pg 190 6:48 to 7:00
pg 190 to pg 204 8:27 to 8:54

Pages Read: 56
Time Read: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Pages Read: 409
Total Time Read: 10 hours 3 minutes

Day 12 December 20th
pg 204 to pg 210 9:10 to 9:19
pg 210 to pg 228 9:23 to 9:57

Pages Read: 24
Time Read: 43 minutes
Total Pages Read: 433
Total Time Read: 10 hours 46 minutes

Day 13 December 21st
pg 228 to pg 251 9:30 to 10:01
pg 251 to pg 259 11:34 to 11:50
pg 259 to pg 260 12:56 to 12:58
pg 260 to pg 275 3:24 to 3:53
pg 275 to pg 298 4:17 to 4:53
pg 298 to pg 313 5:09 to 5:31
pg 313 to pg 329 5:41 to 6:05

Pages Read: 101
Time Read: 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Pages Read: 534
Total Time Read: 13 hours 26 minutes
Day 14 December 22nd
We had family Christmas this day so I didn't get a single page read.