Saturday, May 30, 2015

It's My Birthday - Ask Me Anything!

not my image - source
Happy Birthday to me!!! In case you're curious, I am now 25 years old. I am still in New York City but as this will be my final post before I'm back home, I wanted to let you all...ASK ME ANYTHING!

I did one of these posts a few months back, and with my recent discussion post on sharing personal information, I thought it was about time I let you all ask me some questions again.

So, go ahead: what would you like to know about me? You can ask personal questions, though nothing inappropriate (I assume you all know the difference, right? haha). I have the right not to answer something you ask, but I'll do my best to answer them all. I'll let you ask questions for a bit before I answer them, so you have some time.

In honor of this post and my most recent client, Allison Burnett, I wanted to let you know that his movie (based on his novel) is now available to watch on Netflix.

I do recommend it. It makes you think about online identity, what you share and with who, and so much more. If you do check it out, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

For now...ask away!

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Look Back at Blog World (10)

A Look Back at Blog World (10)

It's been a few weeks now since I've done one of these posts, so I figured while I was away in NYC, it might be a good time. Let me know what links you like best in the comments!

Books I'm Now Curious to Read:

I found Disclaimer by Renee Knight through a review by Luanne at A Bookworm's World. Please do read her thoughts and learn more about this intriguing book!

What do you think? Is this something you would like to now read too?

Interesting Posts:

The blog Mundie Moms shared a picture from the new illustrated Harry Potter, coming out this fall.

I personally can't wait for this book to come out. I've seen some of the illustrations already released, and I love them!
Life Anchored shared a really cute Road Trip Survival Kit on their blog. They even share a free printable for the sign so you can make your own kit. I'm not going on any road trips this summer, but I really love this idea for a picnic or going to the pool, etc.

AttaGirl Says has a really fun, easy recipe on how to make Edible Sand Art this summer. This is seriously something I'd like to make for myself and I'm in my twenties. I can't imagine how excited a younger kid would be to learn about this! She even includes some free printables so you can label your jars and even set up a Sand Art Station.

Gluesticks shares a cute MARVEL Avengers Survival Kit. This would make a super awesome present for any little Avengers fan in your life. What do you think?

And remember: If you visit any of these links, please leave a comment and let them know that I sent you!!

Questions from the Blog:

The following question was from my review of Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick:

I'm curious to know if this is a compilation of short narratives or if this is an actual plot line that holds a painter, a ghost, a vampire and a viking all one take!

There is an actual plot line. The book goes back in time, but every part of the story forms one cohesive narrative. So in simple terms - not a book of short stories!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New York City, Center of the Universe

do not own image- source
Hello my blogger friends! I am headed to New York City today to attend Book Expo America tomorrow and Friday. I am excited to finally be able to really experience BEA and I hope to see some great authors and find wonderful books, but most of all, I really hope to make connections. I want to meet you, and you, and you! So please, if you're attending BEA, don't be afraid to talk; I'm definitely going to try and keep that in mind myself, as I'm quite shy in person.

I'm truly sorry for those of you who cannot make BEA this year, but I hope you enjoy all the wonderful things your own town has to offer this summer. I won't be online much while I'm away, but please visit and comment on the couple posts I have scheduled and I will get back to you when I have time.

*also, the title of this post comes from the musical RENT*

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding

Blowing Off Steam by Joy Lynn Fielding

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Sam Chancellor has been in love with the steam engine Old Bess since he was six years old. Well, maybe not literally, but even when he’s lost everything else in his life, he’s always had her. But now her place in his heart has been unexpectedly challenged. Her new driver, Ryan Saunders, is the embodiment of all Sam’s fantasies.

Ryan has written off Sam as just another geeky trainspotter—until the moment Ryan sees him without his usual shapeless hoodie, and realizes that for a nerd, Sam’s pretty built.

When Ryan overlooks Sam’s awkwardness long enough to suggest a hook-up, Sam seizes the opportunity—and Ryan—with both very eager hands. Finding common ground in their shared love of Bess, their time together is better than Sam ever dared dream.

But there’s a reason Ryan never talks about his past. And when Ryan’s job is threatened, Sam’s well-meaning intervention puts both Ryan and Bess in deadly danger.

Review: I really liked Blowing Off Steam and how it dealt with a topic I didn’t know much about – steam engines. Sam Chancellor loves a particular engine named Old Bess, a love he shared with his late uncle who basically raised him. When Ryan Saunders gets the job as Bess’s new driver, it doesn’t take long before Sam is noticing him as well. As for Ryan, he eventually takes note of Sam, but only as a baggy-clothes wearing nerd who likes to come and watch the trains.

Obviously, when the two officially meet, it doesn’t take long before they are really getting to know each other. What starts out as a physical relationship soon turns into more. Ryan has never had boyfriends in the past and he isn’t really interested now. As for Sam, Ryan is his first everything, but he knows not to push or he’ll lose whatever they are forming.

Blowing Off Steam has a bit of a mystery included, when Ryan is in risk of losing his job and information comes to light that could ultimately help save it…if they can figure out who is behind it all and gather enough evidence. I liked that this was more than just a romance, though there is plenty of that (and forewarning – there are graphic sexual scenes if that bothers you). I do wish that it had been a bit longer, though, or we were able to dig deeper into the characters more. Ryan has a secret past, but I feel like it wasn’t dealt with enough between him and Sam. 

In all, not a bad read!

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Wicked + The Divine Graphic Novel Review

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

Review by Lauren

Source: library copy; all  opinions are my own

Official Summary: Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critically thermonuclear floor-fillers Young Avengers and Phonogram reunite to start a new, ongoing, superhero fantasy with a beautiful, oversized issue. Welcome to The Wicked + The Divine, where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you're immortal, doesn't mean you're going to live forever.

Review: I came across this graphic novel when I was perusing one of my local libraries and I was immediately enticed by the summary. This book follows a young lady named Laura who is obsessed with the gods- as everyone knows that these powerful pop stars are all supposedly real gods. Not everyone believes it, but the story and their personas are too enticing not to notice them. When Laura meets one of these gods, Luci (Lucifer), she finds herself seeing all the gods close up and working to clear Luci of murder. 


Volume 1 collects the first five comics of The Wicked + The Divine, so it’s a relatively quick read, but it’s also fascinating and really well illustrated. I’m so excited that Volume 2 comes out in July. I loved that while our heroine is Laura, we also get to learn a great deal about some of the other gods. They are all larger-than-life and often overdramatic, but at the same time, you can’t look away. They capture the mind and you simply want to know more. 

The Faust Act was a fantastic introduction to this series and again, I can’t wait for more. The book ended with a big twist that definitely has me excited to see where the story goes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Scarred Souls by T.T. Kove

Scarred Souls by T.T. Kove

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: On a cold, wet afternoon Damian stumbles across a young man huddled beneath a tree crying his eyes out. He's got more than enough problems of his own, but is compelled to give the bloke a place to crash for at least the night.

Josh is used to being alone, and most days it's easier than trying to deal with people who can't, or won't, understand him. When Damian takes him in for the night, Josh assumes it's going to be one more go round of sex and get out in the morning.

Neither of them expects the friendship that develops, and they're far from prepared when friendship starts to turn into more.

Review: Based on the summary, you might be thinking this is your typical gay romance novel, but it’s so much more than that. Damian meets Josh one day when he sees him sitting in the rain, crying. Not giving it much thought, he invites Josh home and they end up spending the night together. Josh is used to people using him for sex, so he’s surprised when Damian turns his offer down. If Damian doesn’t want sex, why is he helping him?

Eventually Josh learns that Damian is essentially asexual. I don’t think I’ve read a book where someone was asexual, so I thought this was great. It should be given more awareness. There are degrees to being asexual, but the main idea is that people who identify as such just aren’t really interested in sex. Some will only have sex with one person, some do it to make their partner happy, and others aren’t interested in that aspect of a relationship at all. For now, Damian isn’t, but he is getting close to Josh. He cares about him, kisses him, and can sleep in the same bed as him. For Josh, he has a dark past when it comes to sexual encounters, so having someone love him without that aspect is new, but ultimately good.

I thought Kove did a good job with both Damian and Josh. They both have some dark elements in their past, but what they have gone through just brings them closer. They have issues and quirks that take time to understand, especially with each other, but again, this just proves that love comes in all “shapes and sizes” if you will and the relationship between these two was great to read about. I would love a sequel!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shooting Thoughts: Let's Get Personal

Shooting Thoughts: Let's Get Personal

I feel like the majority of people that read my blog (and have their own blog) focus on books or other forms of entertainment. Some of these blogs share some personal details about their life, some share a lot, and others just focus on the book/entertainment content.

Personally, I like learning about the blogger behind the blog but I understand why some people don't feel the need or are afraid to give out too much information. I probably wouldn't have shared as much when I first got started, but I've been doing this for awhile now and I've slowly gotten used to sharing stories or giving information about my real, everyday life.

What about you though? Do you think personal details are a no-no on your blog? Do you like learning about other people through their blogs? Do you ever follow "personal" or more real life blogs? 

When it comes to the latter question, I do like blogs that focus a great deal on their life. They still might have reviews or other fun posts, but they also give you information about their everyday experiences. It's great to see how you might have things in common, as well as how you are different.

In honor of this whole idea I thought I would share just one of the more everyday blogs that I follow.

Krysten from Why Girls are Weird: She's a wife, a dog mom, a bookworm, and more. I love Krysten's blog because she talks about real life issues and topics but she also shares new products and book reviews here and there. It's a nice mix! Plus, every Friday, she posts the top 10 things that made her happy that week! Who doesn't like that?!

If you look at my blog list on the left hand side of this page, you are sure to find some other blogs similar to Krysten...or at least similar in the fact that they are more "personal."

So, please do share your thoughts on being personal on blogs! Don't forget the questions above if you need help generating a thought. :)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Signal Boost by Alyssa Cole

Signal Boost by Alyssa Cole

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In a secluded cabin, John and his loved ones have survived. He should feel grateful. But his family is in his face 24/7, he has to watch his best friend, Arden, and brother, Gabriel, flaunt their love, and as a techie in a Luddite world he’s pretty much useless. The cabin is brimming with people, but he feels utterly alone.

Until he catches Mr. Tall, Blond and Gorgeous raiding their garden. Mykhail is an astrophysics student, he makes John’s gaydar ping like crazy and he thinks he knows what caused the devastation. He’s on a journey to his university to find answers, and John invites himself along. Partly to get out of the house, and partly because he can’t let Mykhail go without acting on the mutual attraction that’s so obvious even John’s mom is playing matchmaker.

The closer they get to campus, the more Mykhail lets down his walls. But with answers come secrets both devastating and deadly, and before they can save the world, they’ll have to save themselves.

Review: I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but I found myself really enjoying this one. I felt that the romance aspects were a nice backdrop to the overall story. That doesn’t mean romance fans wouldn’t enjoy this title, but it also talks about a worldwide power outage that actually made sense. Cole had explanations that made me sit back and go “wow, I feel like that could actually happen.” It made the story feel more realistic and that’s always good for science fiction.

As for the romance, John is desperate to get out of the house and prove he can do something useful but he doesn’t get that chance until Mykhail stumbles across their house. He has an idea of what is happening and he wants to visit an old mentor at the local university. With an almost immediate crush and the urgency to do something, John is ready to join Mykhail on his journey. Mykhail isn’t thrilled by the prospect, even though John knows they have some sort of connection, but he ultimately lets John join him as John is adept in navigation. 

On their journey to the university, they have to be wary of people willing to shoot first and ask questions later, as the world has gone back to pre-technology, fight and survive days. They work together to make their journey, and at the same time, they begin to learn more about each other and grow even closer. Their relationship isn’t without issues of course, which I appreciate, since no romance is ever perfect. 

Overall, I did really like this one. I liked that the science made sense, I liked the romance, and I thought Cole did a good job creating a book that was suspenseful and engaging. The story begins in Radio Silence with John’s friend Arden and his brother Gabriel falling in love (FYI: Arden is female). I did not read this book first, but if anyone is interested in reading in order! I felt Signal Boost made sense without it though.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sign Up Now: Favorite Color Blog Swap

I know it seems like I just did a swap, but Chaotic Goddess Swaps is hosting their annual Favorite Color Swap, so I had to join in again. The idea is that your swap partner buys you items in your favorite color and you buy your partner items in their favorite color. I love purple and green  - I did purple last year, so this time I signed up with green.

Dates to Know: You still have time to sign up!!

  • Sign-ups Open: Monday, May 11th.
  • Sign-ups Close: Monday, May 18th.
  • Giveaway Ends: Tuesday, May 19th.
  • Partners Assigned by: Wednesday, May 20th.
  • Packages Ship: on or by Saturday, June 6th.
  • Show-Off Linky Opens: Wednesday, June 10th.
In other news, I'm sorry for the lack of consistent posts. I had a lot scheduled out for April but not so much for May. I'm finished with my school semester (finally) so I hope to get a lot of reviews I've written scheduled out for the rest of this month and into June!! I am trying to keep up with all of your blogs too though - I should be commenting around the blogosphere more tomorrow. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Expo America: I'm Going, Are You?

It's official: I will be attending Book Expo America 2015. I have gone once before in the past, but it was years ago and I was not able to attend as much as I would have liked. This time around, I won't be there 24/7 but I will have more of an opportunity to enjoy. I'm flying in Wednesday afternoon, so my first official day will be Thursday and I should be there almost the entire day. As for Friday, I will be there for about half the day if all goes to plan. As I said before, I'm flying in Wednesday afternoon/early evening and leaving really early on Sunday so I technically have about three and a half days to enjoy BEA and NYC.

I already have some idea of other NYC attractions and restaurants that I want to visit, and a friend of mine lives in Brooklyn so I'll spend a bit of time with her! BUT if there is something you think I should try and do, let me know in the comments. I don't have my full schedule figured out yet so you never know!

What I REALLY want to know though is the following-

"Who else is going to BEA this year? And would you like to meet at some point?"

When it comes to meeting, this could be at BEA when we're both there or somewhere else in NYC where we can all hang out whatever - if our schedules work out.

I haven't met that many bloggers in person, and many of the bloggers I have met are no longer blogging, so it would be great to finally see some of you face-to-face!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

All I Can Handle: I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano

All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa: A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism by Kim Stagliano

Review by: Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Dr. Spock? Check. Penelope Ann Leach (Remember her?) Check. What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Check. I had a seven hundred dollar Bellini crib for God’s sake!

Everything was perfect…”

...and so begins Kim Stagliano’s electrifying and hilarious memoir of her family’s journey raising three daughters with autism. Always outspoken, often touching, and sometimes heartbreaking, Kim Stagliano is a powerful new voice in comedic writing—her “Kimoir” (as she calls it) is the next must-read within the autism community and the literary world at large.

Review: I had seen this memoir at the library I work at for a while now. I guess something about the title jumped out at me and I knew I wanted to read it. One day, I finally took it off the shelf and brought it home and I’m so happy I did! While I’m not a huge fan of the cover (seems too simple, I suppose), the inner contents of this book are well worth praise. Kim Stagliano is a happy wife and mother of three daughters: Mia, Gianna, and Bella. What is not so typical of her and her family is that all three girls have a diagnosis of autism. They do not all have the same issues when it comes to autism, which made reading about them even more interesting. I think most of us have some idea of autism in our head (I know I do), but All I Can Handle helps flip that image a bit by providing various examples from Stagliano’s girls to other people she has met on her autism journey.

All I Can Handle deals with serious topics from the girls, to unemployment, to working on marriage when times are tough, but it’s never depressing or too dreary. Stagliano has a matter-of-fact writing style that makes you feel like you know her in person, and she’s always adding in needed doses of humor throughout her stories. Each chapter is essentially an essay describing a particular moment or topic from her life. She’s open and honest about her financial struggles and how difficult it is to deal with three girls with autism. She loves her kids and would do anything for them. She believes in a cure and hopes that her girls will lead happy, independent lives in the future. If not, she’ll do whatever she can to at least make sure they are happy and safe. Stagliano has learned to appreciate the little things in life, especially with her girls, but that doesn’t mean she’s not sometimes frustrated or mad. Life with autism is not always easy, but being a good mom means pushing through even if it’s not always perfect.

All I Can Handle is a wonderful look into the personal side of autism and how it affects the entire family and not just the one with the diagnosis. Reading it will hopefully bring comfort, empathy, and understanding- depending on the reader.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Jottery by Andy Selsberg

The Jottery: Thought Experiments for Everyday Philosophers and Part-Time Geniuses by Andy Selsberg

Review by Lauren

Source: publisher sent a copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: In The Jottery, you'll find a series of prompts, suggestions, commands, and questions that are intended to cause neurons to fire and a spectrum of ideas to surface--possibly good, potentially useful, conceivably profitable, maybe illuminating, and hopefully amusing. There's also a chance you'll come up with nothing, and experience a beautiful "idea-lessness" that would be the envy of Zen monks everywhere. Also a win.

Review: This book reminds me a bit of those Wreck This Book titles, except instead of doodling on random pages or ripping another to shreds, this book is full of random ideas and questions to get you thinking...and hopefully writing. There is a bit of room after each prompt where you could write in the book, if you wished, but it's also a place to jot ideas or thoughts before using another medium for your actual writing.

I wish writing classes had books like these as part of the curriculum. It would be a great way to get people writing and seeing what they can discover about themselves and their imagination.

Here are some examples from the book (in bold) and my own answers.

What could ATMs dispense, other than money?

Gift Cards - Books (I'd really love the book idea).

Your personal trainer instructs you to do fifteen dudesquats. Describe what you do.

Squat down into a chair (basically just sit) and eat some chips, watch some television. Repeat fifteen times per week.

Now it's your turn! How would you answer either of these prompts? Do share in the comment section!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Review by Lauren

Source: Library copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera's rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited--not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters is the final book in Laini Taylor’s fantastical trilogy. When it comes to series, people tend to feel a bit in-between on endings. There were definitely things that I thought worked well, and others that felt a bit too good to be true.

Let’s start with the latter – for a book that seems to lead up to a fierce battle, things end a bit too quickly for me and without that many casualties. I know, you’re probably thinking “you want your favorite characters to die?” and the answer is yes and no. Do I want it? No, of course not. But I think it’s realistic in books like these. There is a war going on and not everyone will make it, but it just seemed too easy for many of them. I won’t go on because I don’t want to ruin the ending. Now, back to the things that worked well. I love the history that Taylor reveals in this novel. There is a lot going on that neither Karou nor Akiva were aware of, and it’s fascinating to learn more and see how this affects their chances of a happy end, for them and everyone else. I also really appreciated that not everything was fixed in the end. War leaves aftereffects; things aren’t perfect even if you win. This is clearly shown in Dreams of Gods and Monsters. For the survivors, there is much still to do.

At the same time, because there is more to do in this world, I wish we as readers had more to read. This is true in one particular instance, because I feel like it warrants its own story. Again, I’ll stop there so you aren’t spoiled too much. While I wish I could see into the future of this world, I am happy to have reached the end of this trilogy and honestly able to say that I truly loved it. It’s not always perfect, but it’s imaginative, well-written, and full of amazing characters, so definitely well worth reading.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Review by Lauren

Source: Library copy; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood?

Review: I have heard that Sedwick’s newest novel, The Ghosts of Heaven, intertwines multiple stories as well, so if you have read that book, you might not be too surprised by the style of Midwinterblood. This was the first book I have read by this author, and while I did not love it, it’s easy to see he’s a fantastic writer and someone I hope to read more from in the future. In my YA Literature Course this semester, we were assigned this book to read during our fantasy/mind-bending literature section. Midwinterblood is certainly mind-bending, but it also very much keeps you reading.

Eric starts and ends this story, or perhaps I should say he ends and starts this story. The book feels very much like a circle, going back in time and then leaving you at the end of the book and wishing you could read it again, but this time, from the end to the beginning. This book is very difficult to describe, especially because I do not want to give away too much for those of you interested. Basically, this book takes place on an island called Blessed and features a man named Eric and a girl named Merle. These three things are constant, though their names will change slightly with the times. This is a magical place where love transcends time and even death.

I am glad I had the chance to discover Sedgwick. I am curious to now read The Ghosts of Heaven, in hopes that I will enjoy the story even more. Midwinterblood is a curious novel, but it’s worth a try.