Thursday, October 22, 2015

NaNoWriMo

I've been away from the blogging/goodreads space for a while. I just haven't really be reading as much, but I'm going to do the youth NaNoWriMo this year. I'm in love with my plot line: When Siobhan starts volunteering at Caring Cors Community (similar to real world Big Brothers Big Sisters), she's not prepared for the difficulties that come with spending time with a little girl, Jayla, who's clearly hiding something, but won't let go of her secret. Coupled with problems at home, can Siobhan find the strength to stand alone? Or is will that only be her downfall?

Siobhan is super Irish. I actually had to look up a youtube video on how to pronounce that name. xD It's like "Shovanne".

Caring Cors Community is based off of Big Brothers Big Sisters corporation. It's basically where you can sign up to get a mentor (or to be one). It's not necessarily like tutoring, but more like just spending time with them--A good outside influence, if you will. I was originally very put off by the website because when you sign up to become a Big Sister, they ask you to try to get some men in your life to sign up as well, because there aren't enough Big Brothers. When you go to the page to become a Big Brother, it doesn't say anything about trying to get your girlfriend into becoming Big Sister. I was like, "Fine! My help isn't good enough for you? Then you won't get it!"

Also, you have to be, like, 18. So, yeah.

Annnyway, in my book there's going to be lots of Latin phrases awkwardly spouted off by Siobhan, scary secrets, and no love story (probably). I love me a good love story, but you can only take so many.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Which I Am Stranded + What I Should Have Brought

So, I'm typing this in the college lobby. A few hours ago I got the car keys from my sister, put my empty mason jar in the car (it had held a smoothie--mason jars for the win!), and then gave the keys back to the sister--or so I think. She says I never gave them back. So now we're waiting for my mom to come pick us up with the spare keys.

Annnnyway, remember that college checklist I posted a few weeks ago on the first day of school? Here's an updated list on what I've learned.


  1. Bring spare keys, dang it.
  2. Also pack something that doesn't need Internet. On the first day, my laptop wouldn't connect and I was super bored. It does now, but I still bring my kindle fire to play games on while waiting for my sister to finish classes.
  3. Ear buds are a must. I forgot them today and really missed them (ESPECIALLY RIGHT NOW).
  4. $1 bills are easier to use than $20s. You can't use those on vending machines.
  5. I have located the coffee vending machine! It's seriously the coolest. This homeschooler had never seen on until I took the placement test, but once school started they got rid of it (???). Anyway, I found one on the other side of the building and intend to frequent it. I'm drinking a whole chocolate caramel one now. Very tasty.
  6. It's okay to be on your laptop before class starts, or even at the beginning when your teacher is summarizing what happened at the last class (unless a quiz is coming. Then pay attention). I'm pretty sure I'm distracting the guy behind me since I've been bookmarking recipes on allrecipes.com. ;)
How's the beginning of school been for y'all?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Finding Audrey Review

Finding AudreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lot of people are saying this book makes "light" of mental illness. It doesn't. But then again, that's just me.
Audrey can't leave the house. she can't even take off her dark glasses inside the house.

Then her brother's friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again - well, Starbucks is a start.And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she'd thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.
As someone once said, "No two people read the same book". Judgments are based on experiences, and what one person finds deep and touching, others find cheesy. Or what some people find hilarious, others are offended. Books about mental illnesses are no exception--everyone perceives them differently. I don't find it too shocking that Linus helped Audrey recover. Isn't having a good support group essential in managing anxiety? Linus was there for her when she needed it the most. Yeah, I find it weird that she was so okay with touching and kissing him right away, but overall I didn't mind.

My main complaint against the book is that Audrey doesn't really do anything--everything that happens is because of someone else. She's kind of a fly on the wall. On one hand, that's okay. She's recovering from something horrible that happened at school and she's not exactly at an adventurous point in her life. But it was still kind of boring. Also, what did Linus see in Audrey? I get why she liked him, but why did he like her? I wanted to understand more from his point of view.

Audrey's family, though, is the best. Well, more of the worst. But they sure were fun to read about! Her mom is obsessed with computers, but not about using them. She's obsessed about Audrey's brother, Frank, using them. Is Frank older or younger than Audrey? He felt older for some reason, but acted younger. Also, shout-out to Felix, the four year old! This is the first time I've read about a little kid that actually acted their age.
"How's school, Felix?" I say. "Are you still friends with Aidan?"
"Aidan has chicken pops," he tells me.
"Chicken pox?"
"Chicken pops," he corrects me, as though I'm an idiot. "Chicken pops."
"Oh, right." I nod. "I hope you don't get them."
"I will fight the chicken pops with my sword," he says importantly. "I'm a very strong fighter."

The author, Sophie Kinsella makes a decision about revealing what started Audrey's disorder that I don't really know how to feel about. (view spoiler: She does nothing! It's implied that something really bad happened at school, but we're never told what. Sophie Kinsella said she decided not to reveal what happened to make Audrey more relatable--you can fill in the blank with something that's happened to you, for example. I don't think I like it very much? But I didn't mind.)
I would still totally read other YA books by her though. I love her light writing.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Language: B?
Sexual content: A

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

College Checklist

Hey y'all! Today I start my dual-enrolled college rout. Fun!!! Here's a list of everything in my backpack. Later I'll make another list of the things I actually used or wish I had brought, to find out what really should be in there.

  1. One purple 3-ring binder with loose leaf paper
  2. My criminal justice textbook (as a dual-enrolled student, I'm only allowed to take 3 classes. Today I only have one though, so I'm just bringing that one book.)
  3. A box of pens, pencils, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, and highlighters. At my old school, I was the one people would go to if they forgot a pencil. You can never be too prepared!
  4. My journal. Don't think I'll use this, but hey, I might!
  5. My laptop. I downloaded Spotify y to it yesterday and made a track of piano/instrumental only songs ("As Long As You're Mine" from Wicked has especially pretty music.) I'm going to make an Upbeat track soon too.
  6. Earbuds for said music
  7. My laptop charger and wireless mouse
  8. My student ID, $20, and various other things you'd find in a purse
  9. My Finding Audrey (very good book, by the way. RTC) coffee slip thing that I got from Uppercase Box. There's a coffee vending machine on campus where I think I'll be putting in a lot of use, but they don't come with the slips or lids when I used it last when we were getting books.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Design Change!

Soooo I changed the design of my blog! I wanted stars (a tie-in with the name) on white background. What do you think? Do the colors work out together, or is it difficult to read some of them? Few blog designs drive me as crazy as having unreadable text, so if that's the case here, please let me know. I want this to be an enjoyable experience, not one hurts your eyes. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Admiring a Blogger + Life Updates

So...Rachel @ Random Rants by Rcubed is basically my soulmate. We're almost the same age, we both run, we're both excited for school (or at least, I am) and we're eager to drive, (also, we both got new laptops!) Seeing her posts makes me want to post as well. Hence, this update on life.

1. Learning: Instead of going to a Catholic co-op twice a week this year, now I'll be going to community college as a dual enrolled student. That means I'm still in high school (although I plan to "graduate" early), but it'll be on college campus and with college credits. Since I'm dual enrolled though, I can only take three classes, and two start late. :P So soon, I'll be taking Intro to Criminal Justice, and at the end of September algebra starts (I'm not getting college credit for that though, since it's below college level), and in early October my fitness class starts. The only one I anticipate being difficult is algebra. :P

2. Running: I'm running a half marathon in October! The training plan has been perfect so far--right now I'm running for 9 minutes, walking for 2, repeat ??? amount of times (it depends). When I started there was no way I could do that, but now I'm ready for more.

3. Reading: I was in a reading slump for a while, but I think I'm pulling out of it. I finished a book the other day and I'll write a review for Goodreads soon. The amount of books I have in my room waiting to be read (maybe twenty?) were overwhelming. Frankly, Netgalley books are at the bottom of my list. Right now, I prefer physical books. I'm sure my preference will flip soon but that's where I'm t right now, so yeah.

4. Writing: I really want to get into this again! I bought 642 Things to Write About to try to ease in. Maybe I'll do NaNoWriMo this year.

5. Watching: I'm looking for TV series recommendations! I've finish BBC Sherlock, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, and Downton Abbey. I can't sit still for a movie, but I can watch 5 episodes in a row or something. Less emotional commitment.

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo there you go. Hopefully I'll start posting more regularly soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Liebster Award!

I LOVE getting tagged for awards an' stuff, but unfortunately I don't always have time to do them. :( I've been in a blogging/reading slump for a while, but I just finished a book that pulled me out of it (Every Last Word--review to come!) So if someone's tagged me and I haven't gotten to it, I'm sorry! I'm still really grateful, even if I don't end up posting it. Briana @ Reader, Writer, Critic (a blogger I've admired for a super long time!!!) tagged me for the Liebster Award. Let's go. :)

1. What is your favorite quote?
Hm. Tough one. You can see all of them on Goodreads, but here's a couple more:
There's this:
BBC Sherlock

And this:
Gone With the Wind
And 'The Old Astronomer to His Pupil', by Sarah Williams.

And this: "My heart never says Why? only Who?" Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl

2. Do you tend to borrow or buy books more?
Buy! I like to keep them looking pretty on my shelves, even though I almost never re-read them.

3. What is your least favorite type of dessert and why?
Hm...maybe cake. I love it every once in a while, but you can only have so much till you burst. Ice cream, on the other hand? I can have that all day, any day. Which is why I work at an ice cream place. ;)

4. If you could be a MC in a Disney movie, who would you be and why?
None of them. :P I love Disney, but I wouldn't want to be in any of the movies, except maybe Enchanted.

5. Is there a restaurant or store you visit on a regular basis?
Haha, yes. I work at an ice cream place, so I get things FREE while working and 50% off when I or my family just stops by. I go more than any other employee combined.

6. Is the career you currently have, or dream of having related to books, reading, or writing?
Surprisingly no. I'm going into criminal justice/FBI stuff.

7. Do you have a best blogger buddy? Who?
I more of a loner blogger, actually. There are several I admire, and several more that whose posts I can't wait to read, but I seriously need to start commenting more. I'm afraid I won't be coherant, but I think I usually am? So yeah.

8. Is there any kind of book you won’t read or try?
I usually leave paranormal alone...too weird, and I can't suspend my disbelief for very long.

9. What is your favorite thing about each season?
Winter: ICE, ICE BABY. And peppermint and Christmas and happiness.
Fall: IT"S ALMOST FALL!!!!!!!!!! Woo hoo! Back to school shopping, pumpkin everything, long sleeves, sweaters, and coziness.
Summer: uh...ice cream? But you can have that any time. I like flip-flops and swimming though.
Spring: that term does not compute for this Michigander.

10. Do you have any superstitions?
No...? I think.

11. If you were to re-name yourself, what name would you pick?
Hm...I probably wouldn't. Julia is #26 of the most popular names in my birth year, but I only know, like, three that are within three years of my age, and I don't know them well, so I guess it's not overused or underused. Rebecca's a cool name though.

Thanks for tagging me, Briana! I'm kind of in a blogging slump, so I'm just going to finish this post. Any one who wants to do this can, and just use the questions above. <3 you all!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Reading Schedules: Yay or Nay?

A little while ago, Allie @ Little Birdie Books asked if reading schedules suck the fun out of reading. At the time, I commented, saying,
I have the same problem! I buy a bunch of books simply because I want to read them, but then I request books for free that look interesting. Then I have to read those books BEFORE I can get to the ones I wanted so much I was willing to buy them. It can be kind of a pain, but thus is the dilemma of blog tours. At least those typically have an HTML already for you that I've just got to stick my review in. I think if I'd use Excel, I'd lose my mind, because I'd always forget to add some book. 
But now I've been thinking about it a little more, and I've decided to give schedules a try. Why the change of heart? They give order. With so many books in the world, how do you know what to read next? I usually have 4+ going at a time, so it takes me forever to finish one. On the other hand, becoming too obsessed with reading the right book at the right time defeats the purpose of reading and reviewing for fun. I don't get paid for this--I spend money on it!

Hence, I've come up with a plan. If it doesn't work for me, I'll throw it away. First, I made a list of the different formats of books. Here's what I came up with:

  1. Audio
  2. Netgalley/blog tours
  3. Purchased e-book copies
  4. Purchased print copies (hardcover or soft)
  5. Library
  6. Subscriptions (love Uppercase Box!)
  7. Other. I don't really know what fits in here, but I have a feeling I'll find out soon.
Then I divided them up per week.

First week of the month: Netgalley/blog tours. I've always had a problem trying to finish blog tour books a few days before I'm scheduled to have an opinion on them, so hopefully this will help. Now I'll read and review them right away, and post the reviews whenever I'm supposed to.

Second week: library. Usually when I get books at the library, they hang around in my room for a while before I return them because FINES. If I have a week dedicated to reading these, maybe I actually will.

Third week: subscription week. I signed up for Uppercase box in June, and I'm only now reading The Wrath and the Dawn! I still have July's book to read too, and soon August's. Since the books ship on the 15th of every month, I think this will work out.

Fourth week of the month: purchased book week. THIS I'm very excited about. As I told Allie, the books I give so much priority to that I'm willing to buy generally are at the bottom of my list. No more! (The fact that it's the last week of the month has no bearing on how much I love the books I buy.)

And there you have it! Sprinkled throughout will be audio books or really long ones that take more than a week to read. These are just guidelines for me, not rules. I can't wait to see how this goes.

Comment: do you have a reading schedule? Why or why not?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Healing Rain Blog Tour


Woop woop! Another blog tour! I was so happy when I got approved for this one.

Some people just naturally seem to have it all. Until five months ago, sixteen-year-old Rain Sawyer was one of those people. She had the perfect life, with a loving, wealthy family and a strong Christian faith, complete with popularity, sports, clubs, and good grades. 
When one tragic incident shatters everything Rain thought she knew, she finds herself five hours away, starting over in a small town very different from her glamorous big-city life. 
Armed with a different outlook on life – one that no longer includes her faith – she struggles to create a new identity for herself. Determined to keep her dark past as secret, she navigates through a new school year, a new town, and new relationships while trying to figure out who she wants to be. 
Buy Links:



You gotta take a look at the book trailer. It's one of the bests I've ever seen. 

Author Bio: Katy Newton Naas
Katy Newton Naas
From the time she was old enough to talk, Katy Newton Naas has been creating characters and telling stories. As a child, they sometimes got her into trouble. She knew she wanted to write books when she won a Young Author's competition as a second-grader for her short story titled, "The Grape Pie." (Don't let its tasty title fool you - it was actually a sad little tale!)

Katy devoured books as a child and young adult, always doing chores and odd jobs in order to make enough money to buy more of them. Though she continues to age, her true literature love is and has always been children's and young adult fiction.

Katy currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children's church. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor's degree in English Education and a master's degree in Reading and Language Studies. She enjoys her life out in the country with her husband, her sweet and rowdy young son (soon to be SONS - her second little boy is due any day!), and all her four-legged kids: Shakespeare, Poe, Morgi, Cappy, Ana, and Gray.

She loves creating both realistic and futuristic stories about kids, tweens, and teens, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.

Author Links:
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Book Tour Organized by:


Friday, July 17, 2015

July Uppercase Box!

Last month I vlogged about my first experience with Uppercase, a subscription service that sends you a book each month, plus bookish goodies! Uppercase Box is so much fun, because what's better than a surprise each month? I have the Expert Pick subscription, where Lisa picks the book. You can also choose a personalized box (say, if you hate fantasy--you can opt out of those and get something else instead), or you can get just the book of the month. Most of the fun for me is the stuff that comes with it, so Expert Pick, at $30 a month, is perfect.

They always come in these sacks.
Goodies!!!!
Book this month: Finding Audrey
One of my favorite reviewers gave this one star...fortunately we have opposite tastes. I'll probably love it.
Also in the box:
Socks (YIPPEE! I've actually see these on pinterest before and really wanted them. They're a smidge too big, but super adorable.)
Books marks with quotes from Paper Towns (which I'm totally going to get from the library tomorrow)
A coffee sleeve which promptly made me go to the coffee shop uptown
A book club ice-breaker booklet
A personalized note from Lisa
The author's signature (Sophie Kinsella).
A few of my favorite things!
Yes, my church is having an ice cream social soon. That's all the silverware in the background.
I also got a new dress today!
I can't wait for August's book of the month!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Go Set A Watchman

Go Set a Watchman (To Kill a Mockingbird, #2)Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was incredible.

First off, the Atticus here looks very different from the one we all know in To Kill a Mockingbird. He's extremely racist. He's a little annoying oh wait, he was in the first book as well. And yet, he's still very much the same. I don't know how much editing, if any, that Harper Lee did in the past year, but still, this book was written first. This is the real Atticus. Many readers feel as betrayed as Scout is when they find out what he really thinks, but something Uncle Jack said at the end fits perfectly: Scout (and everyone else) needed to stop making him God. Atticus is only human. He's makes mistakes, goshdarnit, but what can you expect? He's not perfect.

There's other shocking differences from TKAM as well. Calpurnia, Jem (OH MY GOSH I WAS SO SAD), Scout's horrific teen years, and Henry/Hank, whoever the heck he is. Frankly, I didn't remember him at all, and I'm pretty sure I read TKAM last year or something. Still, he's darling. At least in the beginning.

Scout, or Jean Louise as she's more often called, is back in town for two weeks when the book takes place. She's a firecracker! I wish she had held to her beliefs a little more strongly, but again, all of the characters are very, very human.

Go Set a Watchman had similar problems to TKAM, but fortunately pulled through better. It's not nearly as boring, even though barely anything happens. Scout's desperate/sarcastic narration glued me to the book. All in all, I'm so glad I read this anyway even though I didn't like the first book. Go Set a Watchman gave me a lot to think about.
[Scout's] voice was heavy with sarcasm: "We've agreed that they're backword, that the're illiterate, that they're dirty and comical and shiftless and no good, they're infants and they're stupid, some of them, but we haven't agreed on one thing and we never will. You deny that they're human."

"How so?" [Atticus said].

"You deny them hope. Any man in this world, Atticus, any man who has a head and arms and legs, was born with hope in his heart. You won't find that in the Constitution, I picked that up in church somewhere. They are simple people, most of them, but that doesn't make them subhuman.

"You are telling them Jesus loves them, but not much. You are using frightful means to justify ends that you think are for the good of the most people. Your ends may well be right--I think I believe in the same ends--but you cannot use people as your pawns, Atticus. You cannot.

So many messed up morals--sexism, racism, to name a few--but still worth the read.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Language: D
Sexual Content: A or B
Violence: A?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dream of Me Review

You may remember when I participated in the blog tour for Dream of MeYA Bound Book Tours (or any blog tour company) ask that 3 star reviews or less not be posted during the tour, since they're trying to promote the book positively. While I definitely think negative reviews are good for books, I agree those reviews can wait. So since I was kind of iffy on DOM, I held off to post my review till now. But FIY, all the supporting characters ROCKED. Just not the main ones.

Dream of Me (Dream Maker, #1)Dream of Me by Quinn Loftis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note to self: reading on a computer makes me ridiculously indecisive.

Thank you, Quinn Loftis and YA Bound Book Tours, for this free book to review!

Usually I read books in print or on my kindle, but since I didn't know how to download the file for this book, I had to read it on the computer. I have no idea why, but reading books in a format I'm not used to somehow makes me less angry at character flaws. So I'm pretty sure Dair is a possessive stalker and Serenity has no personality beyond "nice", but I'm not super mad about that. I HAVE NO CLUE WHY. So maybe they actually were great? I dunno.

The only character I know for sure that I like is Emma. She's one of those spunky kids who's always got a good quote from her mama. And yet NO ONE (except Raphael, but he's an angel and wasn't allowed to get too involved) helped her! Apparently Serenity's aunt was very kind to Emma, but when her drunk/high guardian showed up at the library to make Emma go home, Aunt Darla did nothing! Maybe she could have, hm, called a child protection agency or something? Pretty sure those exist. She had such a lame reason at the end for not doing anything--apparently they would "take too long", so it's better to do nothing.

Also, there's no plot besides romance. On one hand, duh, this is a romance novel. Of course that's the main focus. On the other hand though, Dair only influences the dreams of people who are going to impact history in a major way. The dream he gives Serenity is to convince her not to leave her tiny town after graduating, because something is in store for her. Serenity accepts this without hesitating! She's so busy drinking in Dair's "swirling" eyes that she never even considers leaving, so Dair's visit at the beginning didn't seem to matter much.

On the up side, I did enjoy Quinn Loftis's writing, although she kept using "drug" instead of "dragged". That created multiple hilarious images in my head...Serenity's inner monologue was deliciously sarcastic though. I love it.

Would I read other books by Quinn Loftis? Maybe. She's got a knack for writing awesome supporting characters, like Serenity's friend Glory.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Nora and Kettle Cover Reveal!

I can't WAIT for Nora and Kettle to come out! It sounds a little...violent, but it's published by Clean Teen Reads, so it at least won't have sexual content.

Nora and Kettle
Release Date: 02/29/16
Clean Teen Reads

Summary from Goodreads:

What if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?



Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.



Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to na├»ve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.


For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, NORA AND KETTLE explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world. 

About the Author
Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology. 

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing. 



She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.


Author Links:
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Discussion: Are Negative Reviews Bad for Your Book?

All around the Internet you hear stories of authors flipping out over a negative review. One author showed up at a reviewer's house but left when no one answered the door, another flew from England to Ireland to throw a wine bottle at a blogger, someone else made a list of everyone who received an ARC copy of his book but didn't review it for various reasons, and one person wrote a negative review so the author promised free books to anyone who would give him a glowing five star one to balance his ratings, even if they didn't read it, ect.

Obviously not all authors are like this--a lot of them used to be or currently are reviewers themselves and are more understanding. But when some people get negative reviews...watch out. Take, for example, the first author I mentioned. When someone wrote a scathing review of her book, other people on Goodreads commented and said the review made them change their mind about reading it. Ergo, the author lost readers who otherwise would have given her book a chance. She believed that one review had damaged her career, so she showed up at the review's house and absolutely killed whatever chance she had left (duh).

Just because she believed her career had been badly hurt.

Yes, negative reviews lower you overall rating on Goodreads and can often sway other people from picking up your novel. But what if those reviews actually help you instead?

Here's a scenario all too common in Christian fiction and self-pub novels especially: I saw browsing through Goodreads and found a self-pub Christian fantasy novel for new adults. I think I'd like New Adult fiction, but they tend to have a lot of sexual content. But a Christian fantasy? That sounded good, so I checked out its page. All I saw were positive reviews, so I checked its balance of ratings.

It's overall rating is 4.52 out of 5. There are no one star reviews, but four people gave it two stars. None of them left a review. 14 people gave it 3 stars, but only one person wrote a review, and she only mentioned good things about the novel and gave no reason why she didn't give it 5 stars. All the rest of the reviews/ratings (134) are 4 and 5 stars.

WTH?

This gives me the impression that the only people who reviewed her book were her friends and family who received books for free. Obviously, I'm sure that didn't happen--I highly doubt she's given away 100+ copies of her book since it was published last year. But still. If unbiased people had read her book, wouldn't someone have given a negative review?
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I ended up adding this book to my to-read list, but I don't intend to get to it any time soon. Why? Because the author has no credibility. Maybe her book is great, but no matter what you do, someone will hate it. I've been the first person to post a negative review before--it's awkward. If everyone loves it, then something must be wrong.

The same goes for reviewers. There's quite a lot out there who only write positive reviews because they believe no book deserves 1 star, simply because the author worked so hard on it. If they don't like a book, it simply disappears from their Goodreads shelves. But again, these people have no credibility. If you seem to love everything, why should I trust your judgement on a book? Now, maybe these people don't care what people think, and that's fine. Most people (or maybe it's just me?) do care. I want to appear credible. I have a public profile on Goodreads because I want people to friend me. I want people to look at my reviews and think "That's exactly what I thought!" or "I disagree, but dang, I like her style of writing". ;) Only posting positive reviews would diminish my believability.

It's okay if you don't like an author's book. It's totally fine to say that. Statistically speaking, no one is going to try to hurt you. Don't apologize for your opinion! Own it!

Comment: What do you think about negative reviews? Also, a giveaway is coming up in a couple days, so stayed tuned!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Magician's Dream

The Magician's Dream (Oona Crate Mystery, #3)The Magician's Dream by Shawn Thomas Odyssey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I hardly remember anything about this at all.
A break-in at the museum, mysterious visitors to the grand new library, and a cute guy that Oona is just beginning to notice provide obstacles, distraction, and aid as Oona navigates her way among the politics of her wizard neighbors to discover who is to blame in the latest Oona Crate mystery. 
What I liked:

1. The general idea. As someone pointed out in a review of The Magician's Tower, it's kind of like Harry Potter: A magic world corresponding with the "real" world. Here, however, that world was in the 1800s, which was neat.

What was meh:

1. The characters. I did enjoy Oona (her name fits her perfectly) but she and the others felt shallow. And why are police characters ALWAYS idiots? Really?

What I didn't like:

1. The world building. Grant it, I haven't read the other books in the series, so this is probably just my faulty opinion.

2. The plot was loose and full of holes. I read and reviewed it in August 2014 though, which is probably why the writing felt like a rough draft. It is. Apparently all of the books in the series have typos though....

Am I eager to read the other books in the series? Not really. I wouldn't complain if I did though: Oona is a fun narrator.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hello, I Love You

Hello, I Love You: A NovelHello, I Love You: A Novel by Katie M. Stout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I appear to be in the minority on this one.

Thank you, Netgalley and St. Martin's Press, for this free book to review!
Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol. 

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
Most people get offended by this book. Grace didn't go to Korea because it's, you know, Korea (which is way cool! Love Korean books!), she went because that's what came up first when she googled Intentional Boarding Schools. She never learns how to speak their language besides "Hello" (which is like five words long), and she clearly is used to American food. And yet, the only thing above that bugged me was the language part, because I love foreign languages. But you know what? Not everyone does. Grace didn't go for the experience, she went because she wanted to leave her home. Of course she's not going to have a perfect attitude about everything.

Frankly, I love the way the Korean culture was presented. If it's as inaccurate as some people say, than I feel slightly jilted, but if it is real? Than I totally want to go there. As with every book set in a foreign country though, I could never tell any of the cities apart. They're all big, they're all loud, and they all have insane traffic.

I really like Grace. She's super flawed--she looked down on Kpop and basically every music she's not used to, manages to forget when American Thanksgiving is, and adjusts perfectly to a school IN KOREA, which you would think is significantly more difficult than American schools. But she has spunk, goshdarnit, and she will make her way in the world after her family's tumult and no one can stop her.

Jason confused me just as much as he confused Grace though. Does he like her? Does he hate her? Why couldn't she tell Yoon Jae, a total sweetheart, definitely likes her? It kind of bugged me how Grace would want to date him and do date-ish things with him (like kiss), but when he attempted to make it official, she rebuffed him. I get that her past was traumatic and she's still recovering, but it was still annoying.

And yet...I still love this book. Everything is so vibrant and full of life, so how can I not? I will definitely read more by Katie M. Stout in the future.

View all my reviews

Grading:

Language: A
Sexual Content: A
Notes: underage drinking by other characters, not Grace.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Survey Results!

The results are in for the survey I took! You can still take it and write your response in the comments at the end of this post. Just because I'm showing some pie charts doesn't mean I don't want your input anymore. :)
Pie charts
Frankly, I'm a little surprised that personal life got the most votes.
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I guess you can expect some posts about hearing loss, driver's ed, and going to college!

Book discussions come in second. I've been thinking about how good negative reviews are for a book's publicity, so I'll either do a vlog or a blog post about that soon. Next comes giveaways in general, Modern Decency, and Link-Ups (someone commented about a video "link-up" she'd like me to participate in, so can I just say YES YES YES that will be coming soon). After that comes giveaways by me (so I'm in charge of shipping, not someone else), and then book reviews and "other". Unfortunately, either they just didn't put anything into the blank, or their response just didn't get logged. Sorry about that!

Every blog has that one little thing that drives the heck out of their readers, so I asked what I did that was annoying.

Two people said I'm too vague in my reviews, and when I asked how to make my blog better, I also got two that said they're not fans of my blog design. I am currently working on a new one. A lot of people seem to use white backrounds, and that looks very clean and non-cluttered, so I think I'll go that route. I still hope to incorporate stars somehow, since I love fantasizing about them.

This time, four voters said "other", and all the responses saved! One person said she wasn't personally a fan of GIFs (I know who said that! ;) and I almost agree with her. Not completely--I think GIFs are great at breaking up big chunks of text and make reviews more interesting. On the other hand though, one time someone said on their blog that they try to make the GIFs all come from the same movie or whatever, and so I started doing that too, instead of picking whatever seemed to fit. Suddenly, they had to be themed and coordinated. I've been spending way too much time trying to find the perfect GIFs, but guess what? That blogger doesn't even follow their own advice anymore! So while I will still include GIFs here, I may not do them as often.

Someone said "We Are Writers, as mentioned above" so maybe they were the person who said "other" at the top? Anyway, about WAW...since I'm not really writing anymore (or not anytime soon, that is), I've deleted WAW.  A couple people submitted, so I'm really sorry I won't be able to use their pieces. Maybe another time! If it ever comes back, I'll use their pieces first.

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated. As much as I want to stay "out of the crowd" and do the stuff I like, I still want to take other people's opinions into account.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Color of Happiness


Aww yessss, another book blitz! I really hope it's also going to be a book tour, because I would love to read this book.

The Color of Happiness
Release Date: 04/01/15
Radiant Books
218 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
Faith Lane is the girl who has everything. At least, that’s what everyone thinks when they see her rocking a killer dress while laughing with her best friend, Tiffany. But Faith’s life is far from flawless. Her peers torment her relentlessly, and her parents expect her to be the epitome of perfection. Criticized and pressured at school and home, Faith retreats into silent acceptance and finds an escape in her passion of dancing.

Then she meets Alex – quirky, forever with a pass, and concealing a mysterious secret of his own. And through his encouragement, Faith starts believing in her gift for dance and gains courage to stand up for herself. But will she be able to keep her footing when the events of one night consume her with the need to jump off the rocky cliffs near her coastal home? And what has pushed her to the edge of reason?



Buy Links:
About the Author
K.P Gazelle is a true bookworm at heart - she can spend hours with a good book and a hot cup of coffee. When she's not reading or writing you can find her playing with her many nephews and nieces, photographing landscapes, or eating a delicious meal. 

Author Links:
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GIVEAWAY:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Don't forget to answer my survey! I appreciate it a ton.**

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Neophyte's Tale


Woop woop! Time for another book tour! I was also part of the cover reveal for this book, but I'm only just now noticed that it's not a moon behind the girl, it's an orb held by a super-skinny-yet-super-strong hand. Hm.

Yes, there's a giveaway at the bottom of this post. Speaking of giveaways, that's rated pretty highly on my survey. If you haven't filled it out yet, please do! It's not very long, I promise.

A Neophyte's Tale, an Abbey Thorne short story
Series: Prequel to The Netherwalker Series
Author: C.K. Dawn
Publication Date: April 27 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Book Links: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon || Smashwords

Abigail Thorne hears voices. Well, one voice repeating one word over and over again. Soft and sweet with the promise of power, it calls to her. The twelve year old has no idea that the tender little word is a catalyst that serves to reveal a world hidden to most humans.

Abbey has yet to discover that following the word’s call to its origin will change the course of her life forever. Abbey and her mother don’t have much, and depending on the day, sometimes they don’t even have a roof over their heads. She wants more out of life than just wondering where her next meal is. So she shouldn’t be wasting her time daydreaming about going on a selfish quest, should she? Does she have the strength to leave behind what little she has?

Will she have the courage to break through the illusions surrounding her and lift the cloak of shadows?

C.K. Dawn
CK lives with the love of her life John, his cat Scout, her cat Hagrid, their mutually adopted and socialized feral kitten Pepper (yes, cats have favorite humans. It's a thing), and their dog Diesel (aka Methane-- Please, don't make her explain).
She credits her mother for the strong independent woman she is, her father for her inner peace and beautiful outlook on life, and the summers of sweaty, manual labor on her grandparents' farm for her strong work ethic.
In writing, CK has truly found her bliss. Stay tuned, because there will be a lot more to come in her Netherwalker series. Seriously, things have only just begun. 
 
Giveaway

This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Modern Decency #3--Mary's Graduation

So, a hundred congratulations to my sister, Mary, who graduated from high school on Wednesday! She's in Europe right now on a school trip, so...yeah. That's weird. I'm, like, the only girl home besides my mom. Come home soooooooooooooooooon, Mary! (I love you, Mama, but we seriously need Mary back)

I don't have any good pictures of Mary in the dress she wore, nor can I find it online. :P We both wore purple though, and so did some of my little brothers.


Earrings made by my super talented friend Christie. I have no idea where the bracelet came from.

I wanted to buy this dress years ago, but I didn't because I might not have been able to wear it to school. On the model, it barely covers her knee, and the dress code for school I used to go to says skirts have to be well below. Mary said since we're short (I'm 5'2, she's a smidge taller), it would probably be fine, but I didn't want to find out the hard way. So even though it's a modest Mormon company, I didn't buy it until I realized that I'm never going back, and dang it, and I want this dress.
"Madeline" Modest Dress in Plum

That's how long it is on the model. Here's me:


I wonder if I would have been allowed to wear this.
Dress: my total was $70 dollars. I had a 10% off coupon for being a new customer, but I needed pretty fast shipping for it to arrive before graduation.
Shoes: $50.

The customer service at Jenclothing is great. At first I ordered this dress a size too large, so I emailed them about it right away. Soon I got an automatic email saying it had already shipped, so I decided I would just wear the larger dress. Within a couple hours though, someone replied to me and said they had changed my dress size for me and the smaller one was the one they had sent. Yay! It fit wonderfully. I highly recommend this company.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Youtube + Survey = Huzzah!

So, I just started a youtube channel! Got any advice for a new youtuber? I'm going to discuss books and open packages and talk to myself, which is surprisingly awkward to do for a camera. Please check it out and follow my channel. :) I promise not to have the same content there as on my blog--I want y'all to follow me in both, not just one because they're basically the same. But yeah, both my blog and my vlog are about books, so that rocks.

I also have a survey for you about how to make my blog better! It's just three questions, so please take the time to do this.

Thanks so much, y'all rock! I'm going to try to sound as not-cheesy as possible, but seriously, you guys are amazing. Yes, I do notice when I get another follower and it makes me very happy, so thank you soooo much. :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rebel Belle

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dang, I thought I put way too much thought into my characters' names, but Rachel Hawkins's take the cake. Bee Franklin? Really?
Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.
I listened to this on the audio version, and at first I was iffy about the narrator's voice. The Southern accent felt awkward (to me--I live in Michigan), but I'm glad I stuck with this. She really brought the story to life.

The characters AND dialogue were fantastic. Isn't that awesome when you get both in the same book? Harper and David have been rivals for years, and then Harper becomes his Paladin. But how the heck is she supposed to explain that to her friends? That's another thing I love about Rebel Belle--Harper is determined to keep her previous relationships while navigating this new world, and she does it as well as she can.
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First sentence: "Looking back, none of this would have happened if I’d brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.”

Now I'm stuck wondering what would have happened if she'd brought her own lip gloss. Who would become David's Paladin next? It could be been Benjamin Franklin Bee.
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I totally recommend this book to people who love the South. Are any towns in Alabama this idealistic though? I've only ever driven through it, and maybe spent the night in a hotel on the way to Florida.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Sexual content: A
Language: B
Violence: B