Monday, December 29, 2014

For Real

For RealFor Real by Alison Cherry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For some reason, I suspect the next season of the Amazing Race will have a romantic twist to it.

Thank you, Netgalley and Random House Children's, for this free book to review!

I have a lot to say about the characters, especially Will Divine. I kid you not, that is his legit name. As Claire points out, his driver's licence must say "Divine, Will", which is one of my favorite parts of the book! His twist at the end felt too rushed though, although in hindsight, I suppose there were some hints.

I don't really know what to say about Claire. Her introversion was relatable at some points (especially the dancing--ooooooh my gosh, I love the idea of it, and doing it by the myself, but in a crowd? of people? Yikes). Something about her bugged me though, but I can't quite pinpoint what. She was naive enough to believe someone's lie, but then again, so was I.
DisneyGifs.com - Disney Gifs
Maybe that's it: I can't point a stick at her for stupidity without it turning around toward myself. ;) I was also concerned by how determined Claire was to look sexy for Will. I mean, she's trying to prove to her sister and the world how mature, capable, and independent she is, and then she gets angry when he jokes with other girls instead of with her. Then again, I'm sure I've done that too. :P Sorry, guys.

The other racers, besides Miranda and her ex, pretty much blended together.

Writing a novel about a romantic Amazing Race sure was a brilliant idea though. This book has actually answered some of my questions about how race shows work. Pretty cool, right? I would absolutely recommend this book to TV lovers.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Language: B?
Adult Content: B? Even though the producers of the show Claire is on wanted her to go pretty far, she never did.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Modern Decency #2--Christmas

Guess what I got for Christmas?

A kindle fire!

Since it can take pictures, I decided to write another Modern Decency post. The pictures may not be the best quality, but I'm just glad I can take them.

Outfit 1/3: Vigil mass and morning mass
So, this is what I wore to the five o'clock mass on Christmas eve, and then again today on Christmas morning. I attended all three masses, in case you're wondering. I went to the vigil mass because that's the one my family goes to, and the morning mass to sit with a family with five kids under the age of seven. The mom is there too, of course, but the dad is our singer/organist/cantor, so he can't help keep his mini army quiet. So I do (sort of).

This is my sister's room, in case you're wondering. I had to use it because she has a full length mirror. Thanks, sis.

Black dress: eshakti.com, AKA one of the best clothing companies ever. They're sort of expensive, and they ship from India, but they have good sales. Especially if you're a first time customer, which I was when I bought this dress. Overall, it was $30-40. Wearing a dry-clean only dress while holding a seven month old baby may not have been the best idea, though.

Jewelry: Christie @ The Celtic Cowgirl made me the earrings, and the owl necklace is from my grandma. Pictures do not do these pieces justice.

Since the neckline is a little lower than I'm used to, I wore a black Cami Secret with it. It's just a clip-on rectangle with some lace at the top, so it's really light weight. On Amazon, a set of three is about $10.

Outfit 2/3: Midnight mass
Because I'm in the adult choir, I got to sing at the midnight mass. I wanted to wear something simple, so I could change easily when I got home. I was up waaaaaay past my bed time.



I forgot to put the purple earrings back in (and my glasses), but I've still got the same necklace on.
Wool skirt: I really have no idea where it came from. But it's comfy.

Green skirt: rummage sale, about fifty cents. Got to love rummage sales!

Purple sweater: Cold Water Creek, a few months before they went out of business. I think they're back now though? Anyway, the beads on the sweater kept falling off, so it's definitely not the best quality. But it's purple and works with everything, so I wear it a lot.

Outfit 3/3: Christmas day

Prepare to be amazed, because it is just spectacular. So effortless, so soft....



Drum roll, please!



**Drums**




Ta-da! ;) I had been asking for a UoM sweatshirt for a while now. My brother goes there, and I hope I will too.

I've also got on same green shirt that I wore when I went to the midnight mass. The pants are from a resale shop--maybe four dollars? Since we don't have any family nearby anymore, it was just us on Christmas, and I totally went for clothes I love over clothes that look fancy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Beautiful Books #3

Unfortunately, none of the blog buttons are working here, but anyway, I'm linking up again with Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, for round three of Beautiful Books! This month? All about editing.

1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best) how well do you think this book turned out?
That's a tough one; maybe a six? Overall, it should be low, but it's only a rough draft, and any draft is better than none.

 2. Have you ever rewritten or edited one of your books before? If so, what do you do to prepare yourself? If not, what’s your plan?
I'm currently editing When I Depart, my Jane Eyre retelling. I finished it right before NaNo, and then began editing December 1, so that gave me a four week break. I fixed up some minor parts, then sent it out to my critique partners. I've got a bit of a dilemma here: was I supposed to edit it a lot and then send it out, or should I have sent it out right away? I don't want to give my dear partners junk, but I don't want to edit something to perfection, then decide it doesn't fit the story and delete it. (Elizabeth, I know you follow my blog: what's your opinion?)

3. What’s your final wordcount? Do you plan to lengthen or trim your book?
I Won't Fly, a Swan Lake retelling, is 25,025 words long. I'm going to lengthen it as much as possible. 60,000 words total sounds good to me.

4. What are you most proud of? Plot, characters, or pacing?
Hm...mostly the characters. I love my plot, but I think it needs more going on.

5. What’s your favourite bit of prose or line from this novel?
The title, I Won't Fly.


6. What aspect of your book needs the most work?
Hm...probably their religion. Halfway through I added their worship of the stars, and referenced it from there on out. It probably should have been there from the beginning.

7. What aspect of your book is your favourite?
I really, really like the idea of a Swan Lake retelling, as well as Odette, my main character. She's always trying to do the right thing, even when it's hard.

8. How are your characters? Well-rounded, or do they still need to be fleshed-out?
Ugh. Just went over my characters. :) Odile and Siegfried might need some work, but Odette feels fine.

9. If you had to do it over again, what would you change about the whole process?
Hm.... I don't know. Maybe I'd have worked more on the world building?

10. Did anything happen in your book that completely surprised you? Have any scenes or characters turned out differently to what you planned? Good or bad?
I knew where most of it was going, although I had several different ideas for the ending. I like the note it ended on though.

11.What was the theme and message? Do you think it came across? If not, is there anything you could do to bring it out more?

Uh....

Well....

I have no idea. I guess the theme is "Don't hang out with swans".

12. Do you like writing with a deadline (like NaNoWriMo) or do you prefer to write-as-it-comes?
Like most people, I'd prefer only to write when inspiration strikes, and have it strike every day when it's just me and the computer. As that never happens though, NaNo is awesome as keeping me on track, and Go Teen Writers' 100-4-100 challenge (where you write at least a hundred words for a hundred days) ends on Dec. 23, and I'm am probably not going to write again until 2015. I NEED A BREAK.


13. Comparative title time! What published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men, etc.)
Big surprise here: I Won't Fly is based off of Swan Lake.

14. How do you celebrate a finished novel?!
By not looking at it again for as long as my editing brain will allow.

15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?
Tough one.... I guess I want them to be a little sad, but slightly hopeful.


And then I want them to do this:
#bookworm #readingGilmore Girls
Thanks, Cait and Sky, for hosting these link-ups!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rite of Rejection

Rite of RejectionRite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not only is this good "for a self published novel", it's just plain good.

Thank you, Netgalley and Sarah Negovetich, for this free book to review!
"Before you stands the future."

Straight-laced, sixteen-year-old Rebecca can't wait for her Acceptance. A fancy ball, eligible bachelors, and her debut as an official member of society. Instead, the Machine rejects Rebecca. Labeled as a future criminal, she's shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.

A life behind barbed-wire fences with the world's most dangerous people terrifies Rebecca. She reluctantly joins a band of misfit teens in a risky escape plan, complete with an accidental fiancé she's almost certain she can learn to love.

But freedom comes with a price. To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence, Rebecca must embrace the criminal within.
Seriously. If I had known this was self published when I saw it on Netgalley, I probably wouldn't have requested it. I've been burned too often to be comfortable in that area. I am so glad I got this though. Rite of Rejection was so well written, I highlighted a few quotes on my kindle.

I never really understood why the machine Rejected Rebecca (because she was good in English?), but I really liked her. She was so naive, even to the point of defending the cardinal after she got in the PIT, and kept thinking, "What would a lady do in this situation?" Then she turned into a determined criminal who wanted to take a stand. Fabulousness.

And then there's the guys. Daniel was friendly and adorable, but their crush felt way too rushed at first.
the hunger games animated GIF
I was pretty impressed with Eric, through and through. He must have been just as confused by everything as Rebecca was, considering they were both Rejected in the same day.

My main problem is with the ending. It was abrupt to the point where it felt like the final paragraph wasn't even finished. Also, their country was so evolved, while still looking just like America, I wanted more of their history! After Rebecca was thrown into the PIT, I didn't get much.

Would I read other books by Sarah Negovetich? Absolutely! Check out her author bio and blog; she's hilarious.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Adult content: B
Language: A?
Violence: A? B? It's a dystopian. They're generally violent.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

Time is up! Now to announce the winners.

The lucky fellow who won Gilded is...Elizabeth Anne D!

And the lucky fellow who won Replication is...Katy O!

Congrats, guys! I'll email you for your addresses, then send them right away. Thanks for entering, everybody!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Stepsister's Tale

The Stepsister's TaleThe Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally know how Cinderella got her name. I mean, who names their kid after ashes?
What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire. 

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...
Let's be honest: the classic Disney film left a lot unexplained. Why does such a noble family have no other servants besides a stepsister, why do none of the neighbors wonder why this third girl was suddenly degraded to servant, and who the heck names their daughter Cinderella? Thankfully, The Stepsister's Tale answers these questions, and more.
perfectloops animated GIF
The beginning was good, the ending was great, but the middle sagged. While I was certainly interested to see what would happen next, and how they kept themselves from starving, I wanted to see more of Cinderella. I was expecting to see why the stepsisters were so cruel to her, but it turns out that she was just overeating to make people feel sorry for her. Seriously, she didn't do any work; she just sat in the ashes, trying to keep warm (hence, Isabella morphed into Cinder-ella).

I really liked Jane, the eldest "ugly" stepsister. Her mother is mentally off (like, a lot), and Maude isn't even a teenager yet, so everything fell to Jane. Jane doesn't whine though, she toughens up and makes friends with a boy of the woods, who is SUCH A SWEETIE. How could anyone not want to kiss him? I may have melted when they did.

Would I read other books by Tracy Barrett? If she writes another retelling! I'd love to see a Rapunzel one.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Violence: A
Adult Content: A
Language: A

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Judge Who Stole Christmas

The Judge Who Stole ChristmasThe Judge Who Stole Christmas by Randy Singer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tried to find some Grinch GIFs, but I couldn't find any that were appropriate. Plus, it appears to be the creepiest looking movie ever. I've only seen the animated version for a reason.
It starts innocently enough in the town square of Possum, Virginia. But it ends up as a spectacular national scandal: Can a federal judge outlaw Christmas?

Thomas Hammond and his wife play Joseph and Mary in the annual live nativity scene in their hometown. But a federal judge rules the display unconstitutional and a Christmas showdown ensues. Thomas refuses to abide by the court order and ends up in jail. From the courtrooms of Virginia to the talk shows of New York City, the battle escalates into a national media spectacle. Caught in the middle is law student Jasmine Woodfaulk assigned to represent Thomas as part of her school's legal aid clinic. 

Whatever happened to peace on earth?
My main problem with this book is the fact that Thomas was such a misguided person. He meant well, but he had killed his child a year before. Seriously. His four year old has appendicitis (something my own brother nearly died from), but he refused to bring the kid to the hospital until it was too late. Instead, he decided to tell God what to do and fully expected God to pull a miracle at the last minute. THAT IS NOT OKAY, and now one of his kids is dead. This made it seriously hard to root for Thomas.

Also, why didn't he just apply for a permit to put up the manger scene? I'm sure he would have gotten approved.

About half way though, however, I really warmed up to the story, especially to Jasmine. She's being pulled in all different directions by a potential employer, her family, and a law case she never really wanted. I had to admire how she managed to keep her sanity.

I am now completely in the Christmas mood. Bring on the carols, especially "Away in a Manger"!

View all my reviews

Grading:
Violence: A
Adult Content: A
Language: A

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Orphan of Torundi

The Orphan of TorundiThe Orphan of Torundi by J.L. McCreedy
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF at 57%.

Thanks anyway, Netgally and Penelope Pipp Publishing.
To find the truth, she must first uncover the lie ….

Orphaned as an infant, Sam is raised by a pharmaceutical research mission in the rain forests of Torundi. She wields a mean machete, makes soap from candlenuts and is a fairly astute amateur entomologist. You know, the normal stuff. But a month before her seventeenth birthday, she is exiled to an American boarding school in Malaysia.

Armed with little more than her unusual upbringing and church-lady clothes, Sam must contend with her new existence as the world's most socially unprepared high school senior. Well that’s just fine. Because she is determined to solve the mystery behind her banishment and return home tout de suite.

But when she discovers the unthinkable – that her banishment is tied to an enigmatic corporation with illicit designs on Torundi – she realizes the real mystery she must uncover is ... why? Soon, Sam is caught in a whirlwind of intrigue, danger and greed. As she chases this thread of truth to its end, she unravels a plot that threatens her beloved Torundi, her trust in the boy she has grown to love and her own existence.
When I saw this book on Netgalley, I was so excited that I immediately requested it and got approved. Because I was reading other books at the time, however, this was put off to the side. When I was ready to read it though, I discovered it had been archived! I had been so excited for this, but I knew eventually, I would forget all about it. This could have been the greatest book ever, but I'd missed my chance. I was seriously disappointed.

Then it came on Netgalley again. I was thrilled at the second chance, requested it again, got approved, and downloaded it to my kindle right away.

Then I read it.

And regretted it.

Seriously. I had such high expectations: a girl from some unknown country is suddenly uprooted and put in modern society? How cool is that? It turns out, however, that Sam has no personality. She adjusts perfectly, loving the food, mentioning the temperature difference only once, and understanding all of her schoolwork with ease.
fun animated GIF
Unfortunately, it can.
My second problem was Jones. He was SO CREEPY, and yet Sam adored him. Um, this guy has a dubious past, is your teacher (illegally, by the way), but conveniently only nineteen, so he can still be the love interest. How awkward is that?
disney animated GIF
I stopped reading when they kissed.
Then there's the writing. It was beautiful at times, yes, but so forced. A girl who grew up in the forests of Torundi could certainly have beautiful quotes, but they would be subtle, not poetry.

While I have no desire to finish this book, maybe you would like it. It does have an interesting premise, even though it wasn't for me.

View all my reviews
Grading (up to where I stopped reading):
Violence: A
Adult Content: A
Language: My mind fails me right now, but I think A.

In other news, don't forget to enter my giveaways for Replication and Gilded!

Monday, December 8, 2014

TWO Giveaways in Time for Christmas!

Guess what? I'm having not one, but TWO giveaways! They should arrive in time for Christmas. You can keep them as a treat to yourself or give them to a fellow bookworm.
Running Through the Stars
Giveaway #1
Gilded (Gilded, #1)
Gilded
Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she's next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There's also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae's heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae's been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she's always been looking for.

It's like Percy Jackson, but with Korean demigods and for a slightly older audience. You can read my review of it here. This one is never used; I read Gilded on my kindle, then won a giveaway of a print copy. It just sat on my shelf though, so now I'm giving it away.

Giveaway #2
Replication: The Jason Experiment
Replication
What if everything you knew was a lie? Martyr---otherwise known as Jason 3:3---is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to 'expire' in less than a month. To see the sky. 

Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars. 

As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures---the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he's ever known.

Yes, I am giving away a Jill Williamson novel! I have another copy I like better. You can read my review of it here. This book is lightly used, but I took good care of it. It's still in perfect condition.

Rules:
1. You can enter both giveaways, but you can only win one book.
2. USA only
3. You must have fun

May the odds be ever in your favor!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, apparently there will be six books in the series. The third came out earlier this year.

Reading this now was a terrible decision.
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
 
I absolutely love Caelena. She is not merely An Assassin, but she also likes dresses and lost puppies. While I'd like to know how, and why, she decided to be that way after going to the death camp that is Endovier, she is so endearing. And frankly, I don't know who to ship her with! All of the characters are so fleshed out, even the sneaky Kaltain. Hats off to Sarah Mass!

Another aspect I adore of this book is the names. They're all pronounceable! In high fantasy, you usually run into names like Bazizkilbmahsamki and Xiqrhigy (say those ten times fast, I dare you).
The Hunger Games animated GIF
But here everyone's names were awesome. Chaol, Dorian, Caelena, Kalkain.... Epic.

Doesn't Caelena realize though that as the King's Champion, she would be ordered to kill people? What's to stop the king from ordering her to kill Chaol? Or Arobynn, the one who trained her to be an assassin in the first place? Scratch that, actually. Someone needs to take him out. Caelena was a kid! Arobynn was brutal.

And oh my gosh, the symbolism of the glass castle and the state of the empire...dang. The king may live in a beautiful castle that's stood for years, but one crack could destroy it all.

I got the impression this would be heart wrenching, and while I teared up a little, I was never crying. Beware the hype, I guess. But I've got a feeling that this is the kind of series that builds and builds and builds, and then crashes into tragedy, leaving the readers devastated and more in love than ever. Something to look forward to, I guess, IF I CAN SURVIVE UNTIL THE LAST BOOK COMES OUT IN 2017!
the hunger games animated GIF
Yeah right.
I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Crown of Midnight.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Language: B
Adult Content: A
Violence: B?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cait's Blog Change + Tag!

Guess what? Cait from notebooksisters.com has moved to paperfury.com! Check it out, because it looks SO COOL. And she's having a tag to generate news about her move, and I totally joined, because I am her minion.

1. Why did you start blogging?
A lot of my sister's friends got blogs at around the same time, and so I wanted one too. None of them update theirs very often, but I've fallen in love with blogging.

2. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?
I tried a bunch of different names at first, but blogger said they had already been taken. Then I wanted to include stars in the title because I think stars are just the prettiest things ever. Somehow I ended up with Running Through the Stars, which I absolutely love.

3. How many designs have you been through since you started blogging? (Pictures! We demand pictures!)
Sorry! I don't have pictures, but I used to have one that was like Elizabeth's @ Incidents of a Literary Nature, actually. Later I changed it to the starry one now.

4. Have you ever switched blog platforms? What made you move? If you haven’t ever changed…why?
I've never changed from blogger to anything else because my computer skills are so sad it's comical. I've figured out how to use blogger though, so I'm going to stick with it until I see a really good reason why I should move.

5. How long does it take you to write a post? What’s your postly process like?
I don't usually time myself, but I did this time! I always write a rough draft first, then go back after a quick break and do a few edits, and maybe add some GIFs. And it took me...four days. But only 40 minutes.

Yep.

6. Have you ever been super nervous about a post? Why?! What was it?
I don't usually care what people think, but I was eager to see their responses to my Intro to Modern Decency. I think some Christians go waaaaay too far in their pursuit of modesty. I mean, at some point, guys just have to man up and take responsibility for their own lust problems. The way I dress can't fix them.
peter-pan-10.1
7. Do you have a blogging schedule?
Nope. I try to blog weekly, because I like having fresh content for my readers. Whenever I read a book that hasn't come out yet, I mark the date on google calendar and post the review on my blog then.

8. Do you tell people In-Real-Life about your blog? Their reactions?
My classmates don't talk about blogging that often, so I usually don't bring it up. Also, most of them aren't really readers, so I don't think they'd care very much.

9. Top ten blogs you read/comment on the most! Go! Go!
I actually don't comment very much! I'd like to, and I often write comments and then delete them before even entering them, for some reason. If a blog has over 20 comments, I usually don't add mine. I mean, they have plenty of comments! How could they care about mine? I realize if I were them, I'd totally care, but that hasn't quite gotten into my brain yet.

Top Ten Blogs I read:
  1. Go Teen Writers (Best. Website. Ever.)
  2. Paper Fury (Duh)
  3. Forever Changed (Sarah comments a lot, so I like to check out her blog as well)
  4. Celtic Cowgirl (Celtic Thunder fangirl! Check her out!)
  5. The Book Chewers (Cait also blogs here...I'd follow her anywhere, apparently)
And...that's just about it. I check out a ton of other blogs every once in a while, such as my sister's blog, Marchaelary, but she and her blogging friends don't post very often.

10. If you could change/improve things about your blog, what would they be?
Hm.... I'd say I'd like more of my followers to support the authors whose books I read. It was the greatest feeling ever when I got a couple of people to read Jill Williamson's books, and I just love helping authors.
image
Now go buy a book.
And there we have it! Please follow paperfury.com, because Cait is awesome and loves cakes. Enough said.