Thursday, June 26, 2014

Project Gemini (Go Christophe!)

Project Gemini (The Mission League, #2)Project Gemini by Jill Williamson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yaaaaay. It feels so good to be back with a Jill Williamson book. I had to take a long hiatus from her while I tried to scavenge some money.
After an exhausting school year, Spencer is thrilled to discover that the summer training mission will take him and his fellow agents-in-training to Okinawa, a tropical paradise. But there’s little time for R & R as Spencer must attend school, volunteer at a local martial arts training facility, and track and report a mysterious girl named Keiko. Spencer thinks he knows exactly what to do, but the more he discovers about Keiko, the more questions he has. All he really wants to do is protect Keiko from her ex-boyfriend and stay out of trouble, but where Spencer Garmond is concerned, trouble is never far away.
Let's have some lists, shall we?

Things I liked:

1. The dialogue. Jill Williamson is THE MASTER. Spencer's internal monologue is entertaining and hilarious.

2. The setting. While the descriptions were sometimes lengthy, I really liked seeing Japan through Spencer's eyes.

3. Christophe's sacrifice. I nearly started crying then, and I might just start crying now. Self sacrificing characters are the best.
College Finals As Told By Harry Potter GIFs
Things I disliked:

1. Where is Nick? He doesn't end up going to Okinawa, but it's never explained why.
28 Reasons Fred And George Are The Best Characters In The Harry Potter Series
2. Spencer is quite dumb. I hate to put it so bluntly because I love him anyway, but sheesh. I know main characters should be flawed, but Spencer's an idiot.

3. The ending was a bit too preachy. Mr. S...gosh. I had a LOT of second hand embarrassment there. If I hadn't still been frozen in admiration of Christophe, I probably would have been a lot more bothered.

Would I buy more books by Jill Williamson? You'd better believe it. A few downsides doesn't ruin a book. I am a devoted fan :)

Go Jill Williamson, author of The Mission League, Replication, The Blood of Kings Trilogy, and more!
Look what I made!!!

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Beautiful People Link-Up

Cait and Sky are hosting a link-up to help us delve into our characters more! Thanks ladies!

The character I'm using is Gianna, from A Kingdom of Isolation.

1) What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it? 
Gianna Otto. I spend a ridiculous amount of time finding a name meaning to match the character's personality. Gianna means God's grace, and Otto means prosperous. The Otto part was unintentional, though. It just seemed to flow.
2) How old are they, and when were they born? 
Originally, Gianna was sixteen. I'm considering making her fourteen though.
She was born in the Black Tree hospital. It wasn't very far away from her house (maybe a fifteen minute drive?) and her dad wanted them to just walk there. While his wife was going into labor. Fortunately, however, Mrs. Otto insisted they take a car, and Gianna was not born on the side of the road.
3) Describe their physical appearance. (Bonus questions: 1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity? 2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!) 
Gianna, as you might be able to tell, is Italian. Thus, brown hair, brown eyes. On the tall side.
Gianna, running after Ares
Gianna, running after Ares when he leaves during a date.
4) Describe your character's personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences. 
Insecure.
She thinks she needs a boyfriend because sometimes he makes her feel special. Usually he's just mad at her though.
Ares
Her boyfriend, Ares.
5) What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?
"Let It Go", absolutely. Even the title salutes it. I know I'll have to change it due to copyright issues, but it just fits so perfectly. She's all anxious and messed up for a while but in the end everything is okay (sort of. I'm working on making it sadder).
6) Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character? 
Hm. This is a tough one. Maybe pride? She thinks she can do everything by herself, only to realize life is a little too messed up for that.
7) If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?
Probably air with a touch of fire. Because I love fire.
Check out my Fire Elsa board on Pinterest. So much awesomeness.
8) What is their favourite word? 
Relaxation or ballet.
For Gianna
9) Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.) 
Christie (previously Natalie). I can't say because spoilers, but.... *Sob*

10) What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?
Christianity (does that count?), skirts, and little kids.

Woo woo! Thanks, Cait and Sky, for doing this!

A Kingdom of Isolation, page one:

“One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. Jump higher, Gianna! And don’t look like you’re dying, whether if you feel like it or not.”
My ring tone goes off in the middle of an arabesque. Mrs. Salto glares at me. “Go ahead, take the call.”
My face burning, I clobber over  in my pointe shoes to my sweat smelling dance bag. I scowl at the caller ID. It’s Ares.
“I told you not to call me!” I whisper furiously as the music starts up again for the other girls. “I’m at ballet practice. I need to get back to it.”
“Then why’d you give me your number, beautiful?” Ares answers. “I love you so, so, so much.” He punctuates each so with a kiss. Meanwhile, the other dancers continue with their arabesques.
“You said you’d only text me when you know I’m not busy.”
“Okay, whatever. Hey, do you want to go out tonight? I remember a pizza place I went to with, some uh, buddies. Want to try it out? We could also go to a movie.”
“Yeah, sounds good. I’ll sneak out of my house again. Just like last night.” My feet tap the floor, following the dance moves. PliĆ© and and leap, land as gracefully as a swan. A flash of guilt zips through my mind. I shake my head. “All teenagers need fun. Movies and pizza are fun. Therefore, all teenagers love movies and pizza. That’s sort of a logical syllogism, isn’t it?”
I can image Ares rolling his eyes at me. “You’re making no sense, but I got to go. Bye babe.”
“Love you.”
Now I’m free to go back to dance.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Turning on a Dime

Turning on a DimeTurning on a Dime by Maggie Dana
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This probably would have made more sense if I were a horse person.

Thank you, Pageworks Press and NetGalley, for this free title to review!

Don't get me wrong, I love horses. But I don't understand how people can have such strong connections with them. I've been looking for a book that would help me understand that. Was Turning on a Dime that book? A little bit.

What I DO understand is that I love lists, so here we go:

Things I liked:

1. The civil war time period. Not enough YA books are set in there. So thank you, Maggie Dana. :)

2. There was only a smidgen of romance. Now I love me a romance, but it's nice to read books that also focus on something else.
30 Harry Potter Facts That'll Make You Want To Reread The Series (Again)
3. The cover is GORGEOUS.

What I disliked:

1. Girls never, EVER wore breeches in the 1860s. Ever. Even a tomboy would have been scandalized. And Caroline mentioned wearing a dress without a hoop skirt. Um, if you wore a civil war styled dress without a hoop skirt, there would be so much fabric billowing at your feet you could hardly walk.
Next time you want to travel with your Civil War hoop skirt use a Space Saver Bag (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004N80WV2?ie=UTF8=B004N80WV2=xm2=jafa-20 ). Your hotel will have a vacuum you can borrow when you leave or you can buy ones that you simply roll up.
They weren't all THAT big, but still. Tons  o' fabric.
2. Everyone accepts the time-traveling concept very well. If a stranger showed up in my bed in clothes I'd never seen before, it would have taken me a long time, if ever, to accept the fact that she came from the future. And while obviously that's not easy to do in a book, Caroline is pretty quick in coming to terms with it.
Mycroft
3. No one talked with an accent. Gideon didn't sound like a Bostonian. Caroline didn't sound like a Mississippian.

4. Are they fifteen or twelve...? Their voices felt very young.

5. Their recklessness. (view spoiler)
College Finals As Told By Harry Potter GIFs
Overall, this was a good book. But would I buy other books by this author? Probably not.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Labyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta

Labyrinth Society: The Versailles VendettaLabyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta by Angie Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When will the second book come out? Angie Kelly did an amazing job. Thank you, NetGalley and Patchwork/Astaea Press for this free book to review!

The plot was stuffed with action, with only a few inevitable info-dumps at the beginning. Most of the book takes place in a single day, but it doesn't feel dragged out.

I really liked Mia. While she and the other girls often appeared older than twelve, she was still a spunky and understandable character.

The ending was confusing, but then again, NetGalley labeled it sci-fi and fantasy, and most books in that genre are. If I mull over it some more it might make more sense.

The writing style was mostly great--Angie Kelly does character voice very well. While all the girls were somewhat similar, each had personal features that helped distinguish them. However, it was often wordy and I had to re-read sentences a lot.

Would I want to read other books in the series? You bet!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Joys of NetGalley

For those of you who don't know, NetGalley is an organization where publishing companies can upload (?) their books for book bloggers to review. It's a win-win for both of us--the book will get more publicity, and the blogger gets a free book to review!

To get approved for a book, some publishing companies required that you have, say, 800 followers and 20,000 twitter followers. Fortunately (whew) many companies have little or no guidelines.

Here are the pros and cons to NetGelley:

Pros:

1. FREE BOOKS. You can't top that.
Shailene Woodley’s impression of John Green  Pretty compelling.
2. More occasions to blog. I love having an excuse to do that.
The many cute faces of Ansel Elgort.
3. While you are obligated to write a review, you're not obligated to finish the book. Recently I got approved for an e-book that didn't turn out to be something I was interested in. I simply deleted the book from my kindle and mentioned in my review why I didn't finish it but that there were still some good parts.
Cons:

1. The archive date. I didn't realize one of my book reviews was four days late.... Fortunately, the book wasn't un-downloaded from my computer and I'll still be able to add my review. The book has just been taken down from the website.

2. A book you request might end up not being something you want to read.

3. Sometimes the only format available is to download it to your computer, which is pretty inconvenient for me. I can't carry a laptop around with me everywhere (hence the book that missed the archive date).
Shailene Woodley’s impression of John Green  Pretty compelling.
4. You might not get approved for the book you want.

All in all, however, nothing trumps a free book, except for maybe a Dairy Queen Arctic Rush with ice cream up the side. Thank goodness for NetGalley.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I've Been Nominated--Again!

This time for the Sunflower Award! Thanks Sarah!
1. What song made you want to punch the window because you hate it so much?
I don't listen to the radio very often, but "Counting Stars" drives me crazy because I love the tune but don't know the lyrics. I can only hear them mumbling.

2. What is your pet peeve?
When people talk while I'm trying to concentrate.
3. Frozen or Tangled?
Frozen, all the way. I don't relate to anyone in Tangled.

4. Favorite characters from a story you've written?
Gianna, from A Kingdom of Isolation, which I'm about to start editing. She's pretty sarcastic.

5. Elves, hobbits, or dwarves?
Elves. They're cool and graceful and intelligent.
And they are fabulous.
6. Favorite animated movie?
Frozen or Anastasia. I've only seen a little bit of the former, but all historical fallacies aside, it looks pretty cool, and the songs are amazing.
7. Celebrity you would most like to meet?
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH.
8. Favorite psalm?
One time I was going for a walk, and I turned on a street where a "creepy stalker" lives. When I realized that, I immediately started praying, "Yeah, though I walk in the valley of darkness, I shall fear no evil...." I don't know if I can attribute my safety to the fact that I remembered the psalm, but maybe it helped. :)

9. In your opinion, what is your least favorite movie based on a book?
Hm.... I haven't seen many of those, but I guess the Harry Potter ones. The books are so long that it makes sense to leave some things out, but still. If you don't read the books first, the movies would probably be confusing.

Again, I nominate my followers and people who just drop by. Here's ze questions:
  1. Would you rather drink a bottle of bugspray or three spiders?
  2. Does coffee need sugar and creamer?
  3. Does your hair part in the center of your head or to the side (mine is annoying off-center)?
  4. I can't think of more questions, so how about you list four facts about yourself instead.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Only with You

Only With You (The Jane Austen Academy)Only With You by Cecilia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Strangers are just future friends", as Emma says. I'll try to remember that as I go out today and see people....

Thank you, Cecilia Gray and NetGalley, for this free book to review!

Can I just say: the characters! We got to delve into Emma's personality and see her motives for things she's down in previous books. She overreacts sometimes (does it really matter if the guys go to a bonfire without telling her?), but she can be really sweet. And if I were Anne, I would totally love Rick too. We never saw him much in the other books, but this time we got a little more. I can't wait for the next one in the series, which will be Persuasion.

The plot was the same as most of the other books: girl loves guy, guy flirts with other girl, first girl is hurt, but then the guy says he never meant anything with the other girl and actually loves the first one. A little variation, please? But it was still quick and fun, and I can't wait for the next book, Always You, which comes out in December.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

I've Been Tagged!

Thank you, Sarah, for nominating me!



Rules:
  1. Follow the blog that tagged you (optional).
  2. Include two or more pictures that include your favorite characters, books, movies, or lyrics from songs (they can also be your own edits or pictures).
  3. Tag five or more bloggers and tell them.
  4. Answer the blogger's ten questions related to characters, books, movies, or lyrics.
  5. Create your own questions having to do with the same thing.
Here we go! My answers are mostly from Disney, but there's sprinklings of other things.

1. Which fictional character relates/speaks to you the most? Elsa. She's so...me. We both want to be alone without being lonely.

2. What lyric from a song describes you the most? "Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone!" In the first semester last year, I felt a lot of pressure to do everything right. Then I heard "Let It Go", and it changed my perspective on things. Cheesy, but true.

3. Whose character change is your favorite (like how Elsa found her strength and became the girl she is)? I don't really notice that sort of thing, but probably Lizzie from Fall for You. In that book, she's always stressing out about something, but later in the series she seems to relax and loves people more.
Frozen wow
4. Has any kind of book or story made you realize something or changed your opinion about something? Um...again, this is something I don't really notice. Except for, you know, the Bible, I can't recall anything like that, except for maybe The Fault in Our Stars with all its poetic quotes about death and infinities.

5. Which character death made you the most sad? Oh gosh. This is a tough one. But probably The Tragic Death in Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix (I don't want to spoil anything so he can remain unnamed. But let's just say, there was a lot of sobbing).

6. What is your favorite message in a Disney movie and why?  Probably how in Frozen Elsa says that Hans might not be the right guy for Anna. Just because he's the first, doesn't mean he's perfect.
Haha thank you Anna
7. Favorite song from a Disney musical and why? Besides "Let It Go", I really like "I Won't Say I'm in Love". The tune is awesome. xD

8. Favorite lyric from a Disney musical and why? See #2.

9. What are your two favorite songs from Frozen (Because "Let It Go" is the number one choice)? Yes, it is. xD So, "Let It Go" and "Love Is an Open Door".

10. If you could make a sequel to any Disney movie, which would it be?  Hm.... I would say Frozen 2, but they might ruin it. A spin off movie where Elsa has fire powers would be cool though.Fire Elsa
Woo! Thanks again for tagging me, Sarah! I tag all of my followers or anyone who stops by my blog in general. Go for it. I believe in you.

Here are my ten questions for you:
  1. Which Disney villain do you relate to the most?
  2. How often do you want to scream at characters for not seeing the obvious?
  3. Which Disney song do you like the most (besides "Let It Go")?
  4. Which one do you dislike the most?
  5. If you could be a character in any Disney movie, which would it be? Do you think you would survive the whole movie?
  6. On a scale of 1-10, how creepy is Jungle Book (if you haven't seen it, watch it or rate a different one)?
  7. Do you think sequels are great, or do they ruin the first movie?
  8. How much do you know about Moana, the Disney princess who's coming out in 2018?
  9. Which Disney movie, other than Frozen, do you like the most?
  10. Which do you like the least?

Suddenly You

Suddenly You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #4)Suddenly You by Cecilia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a little confused about this book, to be honest. Actually, a lot confused. But thank you to Cecilia Gray and NetGalley for giving me this title for free to review!

Things I liked:

1. Fanny.
She was SUCH a good heroine. While she seems more outspoken than the Fanny of Mansfield Park--with which I am only about half way done--her strong sense of morals is admirable.

2. Fanny's relationship with her mom. It's extremely realistic.

3. Tran.
How the heck is Tran a nickname for Edmund? But no matter. He was so sweet and so oblivious. Gosh. Are all boys like that? HELLO. Fanny was kind of melting without him, and he didn't seem to see.

Things I didn't like:

1. The Ouija board.
Just...ugh. I skipped that part of the chapter and still understood the book. It didn't advance the plot and the characters could have found out everything in a much less...inappropriate way. Hello people, it's not just some board game (yes, I'm a Catholic, and yes, I went to Catholic.com to make sure I had my facts straight). It's a shame such a great series had that in there.
Love Letters To the Dead by Ava Dellaira (um...deja vu?) | Notebook Sisters
2. Tran and Lucy.
Poor Lucy. She always goes after the wrong guy. And that twist at the end...it didn't fit. (view spoiler)

3. How Fanny always said she was hiding her feelings.
The way she hid them just didn't seem realistic. I felt the same way with So Into You. Is it really that big of a deal that she didn't tell everyone about the awards?
Dont. Lie. To me. - Reaction GIFs
Will I read the next book in the series? Probably. The Ouija board really through me off though. Being a writer myself, I know it won't be in the next book (if you do something once, you don't want to do it again), but still. It was unnecessary.

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