Book Buddies: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Buddies is a discussion-style review that takes place with Lauren @ Bookmark Lit. (Learn more and see past reviews here) We both read the book and then have a private discussion about it. We post our discussion as a review on the last Wednesday of each month. You’ll be able to see our similar/different opinions on the overall book, characters, writing style, etc. – just like a regular review. The first half our discussion will take place right here, and the second half will be on Lauren's blog! (Link at the bottom)

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Ruby Red

Author: Kerstin Gier
Pages: 324
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: May 10th 2011
Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust. 

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If you would like to read the other half of the discussion click here to go to Lauren's blog!

(There are some spoilers in this discussion so be cautious!)

1. This was definitely an interesting start to the trilogy! I've heard people mention that the world building dragged on for too long and could have been shorter. Do you think the author took enough time to really get us used to the world and introduced to it or do you think it dragged on for too long? (Or do you have a totally different opinion?)
L: I know what they mean. As I was reading, I kept thinking that not much was happening even though I was getting farther and farther into the book. I was about 80% done with it this morning and she had just gotten back from her first time travel with Gideon. It made me wonder what the heck I was reading for the entire beginning of the book! It was more of a hindsight sort of thing though - I was always interested in the story and never felt like nothing was happening as I was reading. I've read 2 of Gier's other books in the Silver trilogy and realized they're the same way. I think it's her writing style that keeps you engaged even though not much is happening. I like being introduced to the world and learning about it, so I'm always okay with this! I'd rather have more information than not enough information. Overall, it felt kind of anticlimactic though.

K: I agree with you when you say that it kept me engaged even though not much was happening. I'm surprised I didn't get super bored reading this book really, not much had happened. That's a pretty interesting writing style because the thing that kept me reading was how interesting the time travel concept was and how I wanted to read more about the world that Gwen is introduced to. For me, it didn't feel anticlimactic because it wasn't even getting fast-paced until the near end of the book. There were no moments to get anticlimactic if I shall say. I am hoping more stuff happens in the next book though because three books where 80% of the book is world building is not going to work out...

2. There were many characters introduced to us in this book, do you have any thoughts or theories on any of them? Did you have any particular favorites or anyone you really disliked?
L: Ugh Glenda was the absolute WORST. I wanted to punch her every time she opened her mouth, especially once they realized that Gwen was the one who could time travel instead of Charlotte. I'm curious about the rest of the characters that work there too. Her mom was adamant that she shouldn't trust anyone, so I definitely expected there would be a betrayal of some kind. I loved her interactions with Gideon at the beginning; I could just FEEL a hate-to-love romance brewing. I am so down for that 100% of the time. I was really expecting to see some more intrigue with some of the characters but I felt like the twisty parts towards the end didn't involve the people I suspected. One random issue I had was keeping people with similar names straight in my head - two boys with G names and three girls with C names. Gah!

K: YES, I have to agree with you on the Glenda thing. Ugh, she was just so immature I wanted to tape her mouth shut at one point because she was always yapping away at Charlotte and Gwen. Even before we found out Gwen had the gene, she was still super annoying. I am excited to see more of the other characters though. Gwen's mom is definitely going to be an interesting one seeing as though she has had a very mysterious past and I want to know everything about it because I feel like there is more to everything she is telling us. More to why she helped Lucy and Paul, more to why everyone thought Charlotte had the gene and not Gwen, and maybe there is more behind her husband's death? Maybe not but who knows? I loved Gwen and Gideon oh my lord. They definitely started off on the wrong foot but I am really looking forward to reading about them, especially with that ending! Haha, I totally understand what it's like to get confused with the names! So many names similar to each other, even I got a little confused.

Waiting on Wednesday #43

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Breaking The Spine where we share upcoming releases that we are excited about!

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The Darkest Corners

Author: Kara Thomas
Pages: 336
Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: April 19th 2016
The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become. There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them. Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good. Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch. But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth. Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away

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Why I'm Waiting...

I never read these type of creepy, mysterious, killer novels and I always get so excited when I find one that I am interested in reading because of the few I have read, they're so interesting and always seem to have the best plot twist at the end. I am looking forward to reading more about Tessa and Callie and what the heck had happened to them when they were younger. I want to know more about Fayette and these ghosts. So many things mentioned in the synopsis make this book seem so mysterious and I am really looking forward to reading this book because I need to know more about Tessa and Callie's story.

So tell me: What do you think of The Darkest Corners and have you heard of it before? Do you plan on reading it now?

Top Ten Tuesday #18

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme held over at Broke and Bookish. Each week there is a topic and we list off our top ten items based on that topic.

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Ten Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

1. The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine
This one is my most recent 5-star reads and probably one of the few retellings I had ever read. I really loved this book. It had a great storyline, magic, and the characters were great. I really can't wait for the next book because that means *whispers* I get to read more fro the Ravenspire world!

2. The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
This book was a pretty exciting release for me, reading it was just as exciting, and I loved it. The writing was fabulous, the ending was just so beautiful, and the plot and different aspects make this book very unique. Definitely cannot wait to read more from Emily.

3. Underwater by Marisa Reichardt
Ahhh Underwater was a great read. It had great characters and I especially loved the character development that went on during this book. The main character grows tremendously and it was so awesome to be able to read something like that.

4. Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
This was Lit Up Review's January Spotlight Book Club read and I really enjoyed it. The characters were really great, there is diversity and people of color in the book (!!!), and I really loved the plot and settings in this book. If you want a fun read with great diverse characters, definitely check out this book.

5. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Illuminae was such a fabulous read omg. It kept me up (something a book has not done to me in awhile) and I enjoyed every page of it. The plot was beautiful and it kept me on my toes throughout the whole book. Also, the ending killed me and I basically sitting in my grave, waiting for the next book.

6. The Rose Society by Marie Lu
I honestly waited so long to read this book (and I really don't know why.) and it was sooo good. Marie Lu again manages to completely amaze me with her books, no matter the genre. I fell more in love with the characters and I am so excited to read more with this story line. 

7. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
This book is probably my favorite out of all the Throne of Glass books, next to Crown of Midnight. I got through this book soo quickly and really loved it. It was definitely a change compared to the other books in this series though. We get to see a new side of Aelin, more of the other minor characters, and the ending was just sooo epic. I cannot wait to be able to finally read the next books.

8. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Dumplin' was such an awesome read. I loved the great message it sent and the characters were honestly so great. This was my first Julie Murphy read and it made me pretty excited for her debut novel, which is a book I have yet to read. This was a fabulous read though and if you're looking for a more realistic read when it comes to one's body, definitely try out Dumplin'.

9. Violent Ends by Shaun Hutchinson 
Ugh, this was such a great book, and a unique one at that. Violent Ends is basically a book of short written by different authors and these stories basically are told in perspectives of the characters who were affected by the situation or the shooter. It was actually really interesting how much one person could have on so many's people's lives and I loved how the stories weren't told about the shooting but rather the shooter.

10. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Another great Erin Bowman read. I was actually really intrigued by the whole Western thing because at the time, I had only read one Western novel (Under a Painted Sky) and wanted to expand more. I actually first didn't plan on reading this one but am so glad I did BECAUSE IT WAS SO GOOD. I loved the characters, plot, and the Western feel and setting was just amazing. If you're looking for a Western, definitely go for Vengeance Road.

So tell me: Have you read of these books and what did you rate them? Any books you haven't read but want to?

Let's Talk!: The Shadow Queen by CJ Redwine

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Shadow Queen

Author: CJ Redwine
Pages: 387
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen. In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart. But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose. 

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I got an eARC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review from the publisher, none of my thoughts are affected by that.

I am not someone who reads a lot of retellings, partly because I can never pick up a book that is a retelling but I definitely do now because if all retellings are as good as The Shadow Queen, then sign me up. You can probably now tell that I really enjoyed reading this book. The writing was great, I really enjoyed the characters, and I am so excited for the world this book takes place in. If you're looking for a great fantasy retelling with a very interesting antagonist, definitely check out The Shadow Queen because it may be for you.

This book is told in three points of view: Kol, Lorelai, and Irina. I think telling the story within these three characters brought great perspectives to the book. Not only do we get to read from Lorelai's point of view, but also get to see what Irina and Kol are up to. Each character was different in their attitude toward the whole situation and that made reading each character's perspective a little bit more interesting because I never got too comfortable reading one person's perspective. Kol's story line kept me on my toes, I was always dying to read about Lorelai, and whenever an Irina chapter would show up, I devoured it because she also has a really great storyline. Irina was a great antagonist thought. She is such an unexpected character honestly. Some of the things she did completely took me by surprise and she is definitely a huge factor to why this book was so suspenseful and had so many twists and turns. She is like the mini version of Queen Luna from the Lunar Chronicles. They both take sacrifices for things they love and you really love them, despite the fact that they're pure evil.

Like I mentioned above, the world really interested me, along with the magic and Irina and Lorelai both had. Reading about the different abilities and things you could do with the magic was so enjoyable and one reason on why I really enjoy the Ravenspire world. I'm pretty sure the next book is going to have a different set of characters but I am excited to see how that will work out because if it's a spin-off, I have zero ideas on what characters will be in the spin-off.

I gave this book 5 stars because it was a fabulous read with a great world, magic, and I loooooved the characters in this book.

Sunday Street Team: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae (Review and Giveaway!)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop for the Sunday Street Team tour for Ava Jae's Beyond the Red. I have a review of the book talking more about my thoughts on it and also a giveaway if you would like a copy of Beyond the Red. I hope you enjoy the review and make sure to enter the giveaway. This tour is hosted by ReadWriteLove28.

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Beyond the Red

Author: Ava Jae
Pages: 360
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Release Date: March 1st 2016
Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule. Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him. When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

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I got an eARC of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review, none of my thoughts are influenced by this.i

The thing that caught my attention when I first read the synopsis for Beyond the Red was how epic this book sounded. You have two really great characters, secrets, and a possible genocide? It definitely something I would love, and I did really enjoy it. The characters in this book were really interesting to read from, I really enjoyed reading about the world that Beyond the Red takes place in, and the plot was filled with so many events that left me wanting so much more. If you like dystopian reads that are filled with action, Beyond the Red is definitely for you.

There are many vital characters in this story, but Kora and Eros are the two main ones. Beyond the Red is written in both their point of views and that definitely added to the suspense and drama. Also, I think the story line really calls for this book to be written in two points of view. Not only because there is one general story line, but each character also has their own personal story that we get to read about through their eyes. Both Kora and Eros develop greatly throughout this book but I really love the development Kora goes through. In the beginning of the book, she is just a ruler who doesn't know what she wants to do with the kingdom she has. By the end of the book, she has grown and realized very important things and those pieces of information will definitely benefit her decisions she makes as a Queen and I look forward to reading more about that in further books. But there is one thing that stayed consistent about her throughout this book, that is her total badass-ness. (Fingers crossed for another book. Based on the ending, I am assuming there will be one...)

The plot is probably my favorite part of this book because there are so many things going on this book, it was really hard for me to get bored. You had Kora and Eros's shared story line, but also get to read about the personal struggles that Eros has to attend to and Kora taking care of her Queenly duties. Then there is the matter of her (asshole) brother. I mean when I read the synopsis, she already had so much on her shoulder but I read about her violent twin brother, and I immediately knew he was going to be trouble. The plot was definitely a build up and at the end, things were really exciting and it was just a series of setbacks, somehow miraculously getting through it, which made it really exciting. The ending definitely made me super excited for the next book (LOL IS THERE EVEN GOING TO BE A NEXT BOOK BECAUSE THERE BETTER BE.) and I want more. Definitely want more.

There are two more things I want to talk about with this book. The awesome world Beyond the Red takes place in and the one thing that knocked my rating down. Let's start with this world because I loved it. I don't know how to classify this book honestly. It is a little bit fantasy but also dystopian. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading about this world and how it did not take place on Earth. Our planet is mentioned here and there but I am interested to know more about this world that Beyond the Red takes place in and more on Earth no longer became a place for humans.

And then there is the matter of the one thing that knocked my rating down, which was the fact that I felt like Eros and Kora's relationship seemed a bit rushed. There were moments where I want to walk in the book and tell these characters to slow the heck down because they just met. It bugged me a little, but not enough for me to talk to rant to someone else about this matter, you know what I mean? I wished it didn't seem rushed but it didn't affect me enjoyment that much.

I gave this book 4.5 stars because the plot and characters were just fabulous but I felt like Eros and Kora's relationship could have been taken a bit slower...

Why Blogging for ARCs Does Not Work Out

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I wanna say this before I start, this post isn't meant to school or tell someone what they should do. If you want to start a blog for ARCs, fine, but this post is just explaining why that may not always be the best idea and what happens when people become desperate for that one ARC. Okay, now read on.

ARCs...ooooh ARCs. They are a touchy topic of the blogging community in my opinion. I have heard some ridiculous stories of ways people have tried to get ARCs and one of them is just by simply starting a blog. 

First of you, you must understand what an ARC is. It is a way for publishers to get early reviews on the book and to gain attention and publicity for that book so when it finally releases, sales do well. ARCs don't go to everyone and they're not meant for every blogger. One important thing I have come to realize pretty early on in my blogging journey and that a blogger is not entitled to an ARC. Just because you have a blog and sent in an ARC request to a publisher does not mean that a week later you will have an ARC sitting in your mailbox. As a blogger of almost 2 years now, that is something newbies need to realize. ARCs, followers, and page views (I feel like) is basically the West of American Expansion. (Comparison brought to you by the fact that I am currently learning about Manifest Destiny in school. Interesting concept by the way.)  People stopped at nothing to get more land, to own more land and in some ways, people stop at nothing to get an ARC that they want, or just any ARC. 

I'm pretty sure you have heard me or other people say this: "Don't blog for ARCs." If you haven't heard this yet, you might as well. "Don't start a blog for ARCs."
Sure, I will admit, ARCs are kind of like free books, but not really. Publishers don't get money when they send out ARCs and us bloggers have now made a commitment to read and review these ARCs. Both sides of the situations pay in some way. 

So why shouldn't I start a blog for ARCs? I mean, I love books and I want to be able to read books before everyone else. No harm right?

Mistake one, right there.

Starting a blog for ARCs is like building a treehouse on a skinny tree. There isn't enough support for the treehouse, just like ARCs won't give you enough motivation to keep blogging. Let me tell you one thing, ARCs don't come easy. They really don't. Ask anyone in the blogging community and I am pretty sure 99% will tell you they didn't get ARCs until they starting blogging for a good amount time. 

Okay, so you start a blog and hope that sooner or later, you can get an ARC of that one book you have been having your eyes on. You make that blog, get that name, and start messing around with the posts and design. Maybe you try to find some posts on how to get ARCs. This is where the person finds out you have to provide page views, followers, and that fun junk.

A possible mistake two in the making.

If you're anyone who knows a moderate amount about ARCs and have read up to this part of the post, then you will know that ARCs don't come like free stuff at a carnival. If you have 3 blog followers and about 60 twitter followers then there is a pretty good chance the publisher isn't going to send you an ARC, I am not going to lie. So if you reeeeally want this book then you either build up your following orrrr....lie about stats. 

If you followed that path of lying, boom, game over, mistake two.
(Image Source)
Finding the easy way out never works as well and publishers will know if you're lying. You started this blog a week ago, have one "Hi, Welcome!" post and already have 500 twitter followers and 300 blog followers. Yeah publishers aren't stupid, so you shouldn't be too. Lying doesn't work well and in the end, it will catch up with you. 

Okay, rewind, (If you thought of Satisfied just because of the word rewind then high five to you) let's say this person decides to quickly build up some followers and page views. They become hell-bent of getting these people to follow them and view their blog. Worse case and laziest scenario: they refresh their blog a couple hundred times, make a few hundred twitter accounts, etc. If you're that desperate on getting an ARC, you might as well do #BooksForTrade because, people that is a lot easier and less time consuming. Or *gasps* how about we wait for the book to come out!?!? Like all the other people who don't have ARCs of the book! 

But then you also have these people who follow a whole bunch of people and then TWEET or DM them telling them about their blog and to check it out and blah blah blah. (And you what is even better?? When they unfollow you because you haven't followed them back within the last 39 hours!) If you want to use that as a marketing tool, you do you but puh-lease do not tweet or DM me every 20 minutes telling me to check out your latest post.
Yeah, no one likes that.

The whole problem with people starting a blog for ARCs is that usually, they start to become impatient for ARCs. They started for ARCs and they become disappointed when they publishers don't have ARCs flooding their mailbox. I'm not saying that all people and bloggers are like this, but this is usually what happens. If you walk into a store intending on finding one thing but they don't have it or you have to order it, you're most likely going to leave. (Or you end up buying something else. In that case, that person may have started a blog for ARCs but later find they enjoy sharing their thoughts more than getting ARCs.)

So people either stop blogging because they don't get what you want or they become more desperate. Yep, I'm talking buying ARCs, annoying publishers, buying followers, frauding #BooksForTrade, and those are only a few ways a desperate person can get ARCs.

Don't be that person that blogs for ARCs. People, if you want ARCs or are thinking of starting a blog for ARCs, I want you stop and think for a second. Blogging takes time and effort and you will lose sleep. If you're not willing to give that up for ARCs then don't start a blog for ARCs. Publishers don't send ARCs to everyone. Loving blogging and having a passion for it is only one of the things that makes a great blogger/blog. If I can see someone is trying to get ARCs by blogging, publishers definitely will definitely be able to as well. 

Moral of this whole post, blogging solely for ARCs does not work out because ARCs don't come easy and they take time. People who blog for ARCs can get impatient, desperate, and just not really be blogging for themselves and what I see blogging as, a way to share a love for books and connect with other readers. 

So tell me: What are your thoughts on this matter and have you heard stories of someone starting a blog for ARCs? I would love to know!

Let's Talk!: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Passenger

Author: Alexandra Bracken
Pages: 486
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: January 5th 2016
Passage, n. i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes ii. A journey by water; a voyage. iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time. In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now. Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not. Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

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Passenger was a pretty exciting release for me. I found the synopsis really intriguing and loved the line "A scavenger hunt through time." It was Lit Up Review's February spotlight book club read and I was pretty happy to be able to read it with the ladies from Lit Up Review. It wasn't as good as I had hoped and expected it to be. I spent about three weeks on this book before finally finishing it. (I read books in between these three weeks but it took me so long to work through it I had to stop to read other books.) I liked it but the main issues I had with it was how slow the plot was, how rushed some situations were, and mostly how lacking the adventure it was for me. But if you enjoy fun and captivating reads with time travel definitely try Passenger, because you may enjoy it more than I did.

I enjoyed reading from Etta and Nicholas as they were both interesting characters with very interesting backgrounds and pasts. Etta is from 2016 but Nicholas is from the 1800's I believe? Somewhere around that time. They both are somehow tied into this whole situation and go looking for clues to find this stolen object. Both Etta and Nicholas were very different characters but similar at the same time. They both were very smart about situations, each knowing different things that helped them on this journey. I especially liked reading about the character development that Etta goes through. She is thrown into the whole time traveling thing and she has to adjust and learn as she goes through the whole life scavenger hunt. By the end, she is a lot more informed on time travel and also has gained from knowledge from the situations she was put in. I am really looking forward to the next book when we get to see Etta in a situation I definitely didn't expect her to be in.

The plot is probably the reason why I write "I am excited for the next book." I have never read an Alexandra Bracken book before Passenger but if this is what her plots are like then sign me up because the whole time travel aspect and scavenger hunt is genius. I just want to establish my love for the plot and the whole direction the book is series is headed, especially that ending (More on that will be in the spoilers section). Okay, not what brought my rating down? It is what makes the plot better than it already is. Perfect pacing, making sure the book doesn't drag out for too long, ect ect. The problem I had with Passenger was that I was bored out of my mind for the first 150-200 pages. I get that there were things that needed to be introduced and stuff but I came here for that "scavenger hunt through time" and going through 200 pages for that is a bit much for me. And once it did get to the actual scavenger hunt, the pacing was a bit too slow for me and I felt like the entire hunt through time lasted about two minutes long. Hopefully, this doesn't happen too much in Wayfarer (the next book!) because it pains me that this plot could have had so much potential but it was held back by the pacing and just how long it took to finally get into the plot.

Also, just wanted to mention real quick that I really love the time travel world that Alex has created and I can't wait to read more from it.

The one last thing that brought down my rating was how rushed things got with Etta and Nicholas. I just feel like their feelings for each other just popped up out of nowhere. Like it was one chapter where they were just talking about what was happening then the next Etta is maybe liking Nicholas? Yeah, no thank you rushed feelings. They're cute together but I really wish the relationship could have been handled a bit more realistically...

I gave this book 3 stars because I enjoyed the plot and characters but there were too many things that bugged and prevented me from being able to fully enjoy it.

5 Simple CSS Tweaks to Beautifulize Your Blogger Blog!

Monday, March 21, 2016

As someone who has a blog and a blog design, I often get complimented for my beautiful blog design, which I made myself. I am that kind of person that really cares about her blog design and it's appearance, it's one of the main reasons why I moved to Blogger. Today, I have 5 simple and easy tweaks for people with Blogger that can help clean up your blog just a bit. I these should be pretty easy but if you have any problems or questions, tweet or email me! I hope you find these useful.

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1. Transition

This is probably my favorite and in my opinion, most simple way to make a hover better and smoother. So, with a normal hover without the transition tag, you have this:
EXAMPLE
but with a slowed transition, you get this:
EXAMPLE
So, to achieve this effect you would insert this code into your CSS for any item that you want and this would be within the tag that doesn't have the :hover. (More on that below)

transition: all 0.7s

You can also always change how slow or fast the transition is by changing the "0.7s" to any fraction of a second you want. The higher the number the slower it will take for the item to fully achieve the hover affect.

So for those who don't understand, in order to achieve a hover reaction (ie: background color change, making something smaller) you need two pieces of code in your CSS. One normal (let's say I want to change something in my sidebar, I would use the .sidebar tag in my CSS) and one telling you what the hover reaction is ( that would be .sidebar:hover in my CSS). When using the transition code, you want to make sure you put it in the set of code that does not have the :hover in it.

2. Links

Ah links! As a book blogger, I like tons of things within my posts and a way to make links look better is by changing the effects of their hover. Now with Blogger, a link automatically has an underline to it, which in my opinion is kind of annoying. To get rid of that, you would insert the following code into your CSS:

a:link {
    text-decoration: none;
}

a:hover {
    text-decoration: none;
}

If you want to add a transition so that the hover of the link is smoother, you would add this into your CSS:

transition: all 0.7s

Like I mentioned, the transition will make the hover smoother and you may like getting rid of the underline when you hover over a link...

3. Sidebar and Footer Background and Border

Sidebars and footers can easily get boring. Adding a colored background or border around them will add a bit of color and pizzaz. Let's say I want my sidebar widgets to each have a blue background with a red solid border, I would then add this code into my CSS:

.sidebar {
background: blue;
border: red 1px solid;
}

But then the sidebar would be all pressed against the border! So I would then add some padding around the widget and border, just to give it a little breathing space. My code would then look like this:

.sidebar {
background: blue;
border: red 1px solid;
padding: 5px;
}

There are so many other tweaks you can make to your sidebar as well. Changing the text color, font size, and more and more. Now if you want these tweaks to go to your footer, all you do is change the .sidebar tag with .footer. So now your CSS code would look like this:

.footer{
background: blue;
border: red 1px solid;
padding: 5px;
}

Okay, so no one really wants a blue background and red border right? We must change the colors! To do that, all you have to do is find the color you want here or here, take the HTML code for that color, and replace it in the code. If you want your border color to be #81DAF5, I would change my "red" to that #81DAF5. If I want my background to be #DF01D7, I would change my "blue" to that #DF01D7.

There is also the matter of border styles because there are many different types of borders. You have your typical solid border but you can also have dotted, double, and dashed.

This is a dashed border! ↑
This is a double border! →

← This is a dotted border!
This is a solid border! ↓

If you want your border thicker or thinner, change the number in "1px" to whatever your heart desires.

4. Center Navigation

The nav bar! Menu bar! Whatever you want to call it I honestly think it looks better when it is centered. In order to do that, all you need to do is paste this code into your CSS and boom! Centered pages.

.tabs-inner .widget ul { text-align: center;}
.tabs .widget li, .tabs .widget li {display: inline-block; float: none;}

Now if you want to get a little complicated...


5. Custom Read More!

For this part, I am going to guide you to Dana's tutorial for a custom read more but I want to share with you the CSS code I used for my new Read More button. You can definitely do whatever you want with your read more but if you want to use mine, feel free to use the code below!

.jump-link {
width: 100%
height: 26px;
background: white;
transition: all 0.7s;
text-align: center;
margin-top: 9px;
padding: 5px 0 5px 0;
border: #66C0BC 1px solid;
font-family: 'Open Sans Condensed', sans-serif;
font-weight: bold;
letter-spacing: 10px;
font-size: 20px;
}

.jump-link a { color: black;}
.jump-link a:hover { color: white;}
.jump-link:hover { background: #66C0BC;}

Thank you everyone for reading! Let me know what your thoughts on this post are and whether or not you tried any of these codes. Also, if you want more of these post, let me know that as well.

Sunday Street Team: Where You'll Find Me by Natasha Friend (Interview and Giveaway!)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hello everyone and happy Sunday! I hope you guys had a good week and have another good one ahead of you. Today, I have a super exciting post! Natasha Friend is here to talk about her book, Where You'll Find Me, a book about growth and a girl moving on from life's hardships. Enjoy the interview and make sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of Where You'll Find Me if you're interested!

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Where You'll Find Me

Author: Natasha Friend
Pages: 272
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 8th 2016
The first month of school, thirteen-year-old Anna Collette finds herself… Dumped by her best friend, Dani, who suddenly wants to spend eighth grade “hanging out with different people.” Deserted by her mom, who’s in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. Trapped in a house with her dad, a new baby sister, and a stepmother young enough to wear her Delta Delta Delta sweatshirt with pride. Stuck at a lunch table with Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker and Sarabeth the Irish Stepper because she has no one else to sit with. But what if all isn’t lost? What if Anna’s mom didn’t exactly mean to leave her? What if Anna’s stepmother is cooler than she thought? What if the misfit lunch table isn’t such a bad fit after all? With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna just may find herself on the road to okay.

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1. First of all, hello and welcome to Next Page Please!
Hi Kaitlin. I’m happy to be here.

2. Your past books have mostly been in the upper Young Adult age group, what was it like to be writing a slightly younger book and what was different about it compared to your past books?
My first three books—PERFECT, LUSH, and BOUNCE—were all upper middle grade with thirteen-year-old protagonists. I made the departure to upper Y.A. for FOR KEEPS and MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE, and, frankly, those books didn’t resonate as well with older teen readers. For WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME, I decided to return to my sweet spot. Perhaps because I’m still a thirteen-year-old girl at heart, I’ve found that my younger voice is both more authentic and easier to access. Writing this book felt like coming home.

3. Anna seems to be caught in a pretty difficult situation in Where You'll Find Me. What is some advice you would give to Anna to help her get through the struggles she goes through in the book?
If I were Anna’s friend I would tell her that whatever emotions she’s feeling about her mother’s illness—shame, guilt, frustration, fear, sadness, anger—they’re all okay. I would tell her that she could talk to me any time, but I would also encourage her to talk to a trusted adult, to get some professional support not just for her mom, but also for herself.

4. What inspired you to write a story about a girl with a suicidal mother and how did that work out for you when you were writing this book?
Like Anna, I grew up with a mother who was battling clinical depression. I never talked about it, and I never asked for help; I was coping the best I could. Luckily, my mom has since found the support she needs, and we are able to speak frankly about her depression. This openness was particularly helpful while I was writing WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME. I could call her up and say, “Describe what a deep depression feels like,” and, “Describe what it feels like to climb your way out.” Anna’s story—although some parts may be painful to read—is ultimately one of resilience and hope.

5. Describe the Where You'll Find Me cover in three words!
Wistful, honest, buoyant.

6. What are some books readers who enjoyed Where You'll Find Me might also enjoy?
WONDER by R.J. Palacio. FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. COUNTING BY SEVENS by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

7. Now that your book is out, what are you doing to celebrate?
Going out on the town with my favorite girls!

8. What message do you hope readers will pick up from this book?
True friends—no matter where they sit in the lunchroom—will always buoy you up.

9. If you were stuck on an island and had to wait 3 weeks before you were rescued, what 3 books would you bring?
GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell. YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler. CARRY ON, WARRIOR by Glennon Doyle Melton.

10. Thanks for being here Natasha! Now for our final question, which author do you look up to the most?
Judy Blume, always and forever.

Let's Talk!: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Friday, March 18, 2016

Starflight

Author: Melissa Landers
Pages: 369
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: February 2nd 2016
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith. When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...

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I have been a pretty big fan of Melissa Lander's writing and books. Really loved the Alienated series and I was quite excited to hear that she was writing a new series, Starflight! Melissa writes great stuff that has something to do with space and with that synopsis? Label me intrigued. I finally read it and enjoyed it. The space and sci-fi aspects really made the book fun and enjoyable to read and I really loved reading about Doran and Solara. Their situation definitely made reading Starflight hilarious and brought so humor to the book. If you enjoy a funny and suspenseful read with sci-fi, definitely try out Starflight!

I really loved reading about these characters and the newer characters that get introduced as the book progresses. When I read the synopsis, I knew Solara would be an interesting character. Girl is able to survive living in a world where they tattoo you if you're a felon, so everyone basically knows what you have done. That makes it a lot harder to get a job as you can image no one want's a criminal washing their toilets. I really loved how independent Solara was and also how smart she was in certain situations. A lot of the things that had happened to her in this book were most definitely new to her and I love how smartly she reacted in some of them.

Doran was also a character I was looking forward to reading about. Not only because he seemed like an interesting character but his history with Solara didn't seem the best so I went into this book wondering whether or not he was going to be a complete jerk or change a bit from high school. The relationship development (is that a phrase? Well! It is now) between Doran and Solara is also great because it really changes throughout the book. Obviously they start off hating each other and by the end, I am glad to say that they have both grown in their own way, but their friendship also grew as well. Looking forward to see how this goes in the next book!

The plot of Starflight was just as great as the characters. The synopsis was super vague on what was happening in this book so I went in not really knowing much on what was going on. I wanted to find out what this "twist of fate was," how, and why they are on this shady ship. I am glad Melissa delivered such an interesting story and Starflight constantly kept me on my toes. Really also enjoyed how the story travels to several parts of the Starflight world, which got me understanding more on this more advanced universe. It made me really want to read more in hopes of getting more of this world and I really had a fun time with Solara, Doran, and the Banshee crew as they got themselves into pretty weird situations....

The one problem I had with this book was how stiff and unrealistic the dialouge got at some points. It definitely did hinder my enjoyment of Starflight just a bit. I felt awkward reading some lines because of how unrealistic they were to me. Other than that, this book was great!

I gave this book 4.5 stars because I really enjoyed the plot and characters but wished the dialouge could have been a bit more realistic and less stiff.

Mid-Month Reading Update #13

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hello and welcome to the March Mid-Month Reading Update! I am back and alive after that hiatus and reading to be back blogging. Talked about a lot of things going on in my life in the "Happening Now" section of this post and also looked forward to the rest of March! I hope you enjoy this update post and look forward to more posts. :D

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Ruby Red

Author: Kerstin Gier
Pages: 324
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: May 10th 2011
Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust. 

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What Have I Read...

  • The Shadow Queen
  • The Harvest
  • Dare to Dream
  • Enslaved
  • Ruby Red
  • Raining Embers
  • Bookishly Ever After
  • Legacy of Kings
Alas, I have seemed to lack on the reading AGAIN. I am honestly just really hoping I can get through this month reading the books that need to get read because some of these books are actually sent in for review and it's been forever since they have been so I am hoping to at least get 3 more books read within the rest of the remaining month.

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Now that it is March, choir competition season has begun! I had a performance last week, another one yesterday, and one in April and two in May, which is a good amount of performances considering my choir never really did performances except for the occasional concert. I really do love performing though and I will always love the sensation of singing in a room with great acoustics and the sound of the whole choir filling the room.

I found a new thing new on Sunday. So, as someone who likes to occasionally scroll through the "studyblr" tag on Tumblr, Momentum is a hugely common Chrome desktop extension. I actually used it for awhile but for awhile, I had seen a different extension around the community and it wasn't until Sunday where I found the extension I was looking for, Lanes. I installed it and immediately fell in love with it. Honestly, I prefer it over Momentum. It doesn't have the beautiful pictures that change everyday like Momentum but I honestly don't care about that because the Pomodoro timer (which is currently ticking away as I write this post), the to do lists, and set-up in general is amazing. I recommend it for anyone for does to-do lists a lot and if you're really worried about the background picture, they always give you the option of changing it so you can customize the background to whatever you want.

I am really getting into redecorating my desk, which is very much needed. I spend so much time at my desk and I have honestly been feeling so messy in it so I decided, it was time for a desk change. So, I am currently in the midst of redecorating and reorganizing things. I got some things from IKEA and also will be going to the Container Store soon to get more things to help me organize more. Clean and organized desk shall hopefully be achieved by the end of Spring break!

Speaking of Spring break, it is almost here! Yep, I just gotta survive until Friday and then I'm home free for the week. I am really hoping to get some reading done and drafting more posts throughout that week because if you don't know, I had to take a hiatus recently and the main reason of that was just because I couldn't keep up with posts and I just needed time to collect myself and get some things drafted. Here is fingers crossed for more reading and blogging and sleep!

Okay, one final thing. (Phew! This is getting long!). What is ahead in the next couple weeks for the blog? Well, I have some reviews coming out, blog tours, a post about blog designs (?!?!?!?), and a discussion post, which will be interesting because it touches on a very....depending thing. Look forward to it!

So tell me: How is your month going so far, when is your spring break, and what do you plan on doing within that break?


Waiting on Wednesday #43

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Breaking The Spine where we share upcoming releases that we are excited about!

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Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here

Author: Anna Breslaw
Pages: 288
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: April 19th 2016
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor. When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them...until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett's stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

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Why I'm Waiting...

You know what this book really reminds me of? Read it and Weep, which was a movie I didn't full watch, but I caught the gist of it. There are many aspects of this book that I am looking forward to. The fact that Scarlett writes stories about people at her school, which I am pretty excited for seeing as though I am someone who is a big person of stories (duh!) and fanfiction, which is a huge guilty pleasure for me. I will admit, I have always wanted to read more of books where it had more fangirl aspects. The only other books I have heard of where the main character does fandom like stuff is Fangirl and guess what? Yeah, I have yet to read that book...

Anyway, I am also really looking forward to Scarlett going through the events that are mentioned in the synopsis. Her TV show being canceled (that would be a nightmare for me), her crush no longer being in her reach, and the events that come out of writing fanfiction about people in her school. Also hoping I can somewhat relate to her in some ways because I do love books with fangirl aspects in them.

So tell me: What are your thoughts on this book and have you heard about it before?