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.
gone with the wind animated GIF
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.
film animated GIF
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

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance

Lola Carlyle's 12-Step RomanceLola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance by Danielle Younge-Ullman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have no idea when this book will be published. On Netgalley, it says the pub date was in November, but on GoodReads it says this just released. Maybe Netgalley had the dates switched up.

Thanks you, Netgalley and Entangled Publishing, for this free book to review!
Lola Carlyle is lonely, out of sorts, and in for a boring summer. So when her best friend Sydney calls to rave about the fun she’s having at a luxurious Malibu rehab (it’s basically a spa!) and reveals that the love of Lola’s life, Wade Miller, is being admitted, Lola knows what she has to do. Never mind that her worst addiction is decaf cappuccino; Lola is going to rehab. Lola fakes her way into Sunrise Rehab, only to discover she’s actually expected to be an addict. And get treatment. And she has insane roommates, and an irritatingly attractive intake advisor, Adam, who’s determined to thwart her at every turn. Worst of all is the strictly enforced NO ROMANCE rule.  Oh, and Sydney? Is gone.  Turns out Sunrise is more jail-like than spa-like, and it’s going to take more than Lola bargained for just to get through the program. 
I really liked Lola. She's honestly trying to do the right thing, but she manages to mess it up every single time. I related to her on multiple levels, except I've never lied my way into rehab for a guy I hardly knew!

My main issue with this book is how little it portrayed emotions and rehab life. I mean, the people there were really messed up, but the serious problems were never fully addressed. While Adam sure had a ton of chemistry with Lola, all of the other characters fell flat, especially Wade.

Also, I'm really confused about Lola's friend, Sydney. Maybe she will be explained more in the final version of the book, but frankly I never understood what was going on with her. Why would she try to convince Lola to get into rehab when Lola was fine?

Overall, it was really funny, but it's about a girl who lied her way into rehab. That's kind of a big deal.

View all my reviews

Grading:
Sexual content: C.
Language: C?
Notes: So, I wrote this review months ago, but I still remember not liking it that much, even though my review seems mainly positive. I kind of wish I hadn't wasted my time reading this.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Bookshelf Link-Up!

Sunny Smith @ A Splash of Ink is hosting her first link-up, and it's all about bookshelves! I've wanted to show off my shelves for a while now, so I'm totally glad she's doing this. :)

Top shelf:

Yes, I have a baby naming book. It has good inspiration for character names!

Middle Shelf:


Bottom shelf:



How do you sort your books? Author, genre, not at all?
My top shelf is for non-fiction and my "to-reads", the middle shelf is for paperbacks, and the bottom is for hardcovers (and also The Host. My paperback shelf is stuffed). That way they look nice and uniformed.

Do you have any special trinkets or decorations on your shelves, or are they purely business?
Uh, let's see...on the bottom shelf I have a cardboad box that I'll use the next time I'm hosting a giveaway (I took it out for the picture because it blocked too much light). I know I've had a lot recently because of the book tours, but I'm not the one sending out the prizes--it's something the author does. But you still get points for following my blog, so that rocks. ;)

I also have two pretty stationary boxes, one with (surprise!) stationary, and the other with stuff like post-it notes and ink for my feather pen.

What genre dominates your bookshelf? Or what genres make up your bookshelf?
Hm...I have a lot of fantasy.

Are there any books on your shelf that you're particularly proud of?
Probably TFIOS and Blind. Also, my growing collection of Gallagher Girl books is one of my favorites. I bought the first three as a set, and I got the fifth one from a library book sale. Now I just need the fourth and sixth.

What is the ratio between read books and TBR books on your shelf?
I've read about 85-90% of the books I own. More like 70-80% if you include the books on my kindle.

What is the most recent addition to your bookshelf?
I bought Flipped from the library for 50 cents. I read it a while ago, but a couple scenes from the movie were actually shot three blocks away from my house, so I think I'll read it again.

Describe your dream bookshelf setup.
A walk-in closet of books.

Now I'm often to admire the other linkers' book shelves! I hope Sunny does another one soon. :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Only Ever Yours--YES!!!

I want to read Only Ever Yours since before it came out, but it wasn't available in the USA. But I think a new edition just came out, so when I saw I could sign up for a book blitz, I totally did. If I don't win the giveaway at the end of this post (yes, I'm going to enter), then I think I'll buy it anyway.


Only Ever Yours
Release Date: 05/12/15
Quercus/Hachette
398 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O'Neill's world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls (called "eves") are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. Freida and Isabel are best friends.

Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions--wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives--life as a concubine, or a chastity (teaching endless generations of girls)--are too horrible to contemplate.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty--her only asset--in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future--even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

Buy Links:

Advanced Praise for Only Ever Yours
"Terrifying and heartbreaking, O'Neill's story reads like an heir to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and M.T. Anderson's Feed, and, like those books, it's sure to be discussed for years to come."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"A dark dream. A vivid nightmare. The world O'Neill imagines is frightening because it could come true. She writes with a scalpel."
—Jeanette Winterson

"An ingenious exploration of gender roles, female identity, and female competition."
—Buzzfeed

“Unbelievably believable, compelling, utterly riveting... Whilst it is dark, uncompromising and utterly daunting to read as a woman, it is and should be a classic in the making."
—Liz Loves Books

About the Author
Louise O' Neill is from Clonakilty, in west Cork. After graduating with a BA in English Studies at Trinity College Dublin, she went on to complete a post-grad in Fashion Buying at DIT. Having spent a year in New York working for Kate Lanphear, the senior Style Director of ELLE magazine, she returned home to Ireland to write her first novel.

She went from hanging out on set with A-list celebrities to spending most of her days in pyjamas while she writes, and has never been happier.



Author Links:
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GIVEAWAY:
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Excerpt from an interview:

I didn’t always want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress although there was a brief period where I thought I might become a nun much to the delight of my grandparents. The joys of a Catholic childhood. While I didn’t harbour any ambitions to become an author, I always wrote. I kept journals from the age of eight, I wrote short stories and incredibly bad poetry as a teenager. Writing was my way of making sense of the world. Sometimes, I have to sit and start to write before I can begin to understand how I feel about something in my life. My opinion is formed through my pen.
I studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin and it was here, walking on the same cobblestones as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett did before me, that I decided I would try to make words, beautiful words, my career.
Life is not always so simple.
At 25, I started working as a fashion intern for the Senior Style Director at ELLE magazine in New York. There are no The Devil Wears Prada type stories – she was lovely and kind and supportive. Yet I wasn’t happy. Faced constantly with fashion’s obsession with extreme thinness, the anorexia that I had battled as a teenager re-surfaced and I relapsed.
It was January 2011. I was sitting in a Starbucks in Brooklyn, waiting for the Q Train to start running again. I was reading a trashy gossip magazine, poring over photos of celebrities with ‘circles of shame’ drawn around their cellulite, stomach rolls, sweat patches. There is a woman sitting near me who is eating a muffin and I am fascinated by her. How can she eat that muffin and seem so carefree? Why is she not having an existential crisis over the calories that are in that muffin?
I was hungry. I wanted a muffin. But I thought if I ate a muffin, I would get fat. If I ate a muffin, I would have failed.
Suddenly, a vision flared in my mind. It was bold, bright, beautiful. It was a young girl, standing in her bikini in front of a classroom while an older woman with a bald head was standing in front of her. The older woman had a red marker in her hand and she was drawing circles around the young girl’s ‘fat areas’ while the rest of the classroom chanted FAT. FAT. FAT. I grabbed my notebook and I started writing.
A world in which girls are bred for their beauty.
Why? Because women are no longer able to bear daughters. Their wombs will only accept a male fetus.
I sat in that coffee shop for two hours, scribbling pages and pages of notes but it wasn’t until March 2012, when I had returned home to Ireland, that I started to write what would eventually become Only Ever Yours.
I began sending it to literary agents in November 2012 and the reaction was instantaneous. Within a week, agents wanted to see the full manuscript. I had offers from five agents, some of whom were amongst the most well respected in the world. I had offers from a number of different publishers, finally signing with Quercus in May 2013.
Only Ever Yours was published in Ireland and the UK in July 2014 and my world has been irrevocably altered. While the awards and the rave reviews are gratifying, it is the reaction from readers that has been incredibly humbling. I receive letters and emails almost daily from women who want to share their stories with me and who want to tell me how my book has changed their outlook on life. That people have connected on such a deep emotional level with my work is something that I dreamed of but could barely hope for.
I truly hope that you enjoy Only Ever Yours. You can find me on Twitter @oneilllo to either message me or to read my increasingly inappropriate ramblings!


-Louise

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Life Unaware

I wrote this several days and blog tours after reading the book, so it's definitely not my best review. :P Sorry about that!

Life UnawareLife Unaware by Cole Gibsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dang, I love this book.

Thank you, Netgalley and Entangled Publishing, for this free book to review!
Regan Flay has been talking about you. 

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother's "plan" for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every mean text. Every cruel email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she's ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend's hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan's going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn't really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she's barely holding it together under her mom's pressure. But the consequences of Regan's fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched...

Especially Regan Flay.
I just can't get over how real this is. Maybe the ending ties everything up in a bow, but leading up to that? Not so much. A lot of things were sickening. Thankfully, Regan did have a few bright spots in her life, such as Nolan Letner. This is one of the few times it actually made sense for them to hate each other, then fall in love. Usually that drives me crazy, but not in this case. Regan held out long enough for it to be realistic.

Regan herself is awesome. I can't stand it when people give bullies one dimension--no, they're people too, and they're acting out for a reason. That doesn't make it okay, but that doesn't mean you should bully the bullies. Regan (and her "friends") are all so much more than that, even if they made, well, crappy choices.

It's also an eye opener for what it must be like to be the child of a politician. Regan's mom is always worried about everyone's teeth and weight, which is the start of Regan's anxiety. I say "start" because there's always tons of factors, but those were the main ones.
movie animated GIF
My one quibble with the book is that in the end, Regan's anxiety is completely healed and she stops taking her pills. Just because things are looking up doesn't mean her anxiety would just suddenly go away.

Would I read more by Cole Gibsen? Absolutely. I want more of her relatable characters!

View all my reviews

Grading:
Sexual Content: A?
Language: B or C
Other notes: homosexual characters. While Regan says some things to them I don't agree with, no one deserves to be bullied for who they are, and I'm glad she came to that conclusion.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Material Girls

Material GirlsMaterial Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wish there had been more kick-butt characters and less tree hugging lectures.

Thanks, Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group, for this free book to review!
In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?
What I liked:
1. Ivy Wilde! While her voice was pretty similar to Marla's, I liked Ivy more. She's so full of life and has to make a ton of hard decisions, while Marla's seem pretty obvious. I gotta admit, Ivy's last chapter took me by complete surprise. Spoiler: She gives up and becomes a singer with an addiction issue! Even though making a deal with her record studio was obviously not a good idea, I'm impressed she had the gumption to make that choice. I reluctantly respect that.

2. Elaine Dimopoulos's decision to write Ivy's chapters in third person and Marla's in first. It was so seamlessly done I actually didn't notice it for a while! Maybe I should give it a try....

3. All the cool ins-and-outs of the fashion industry! It's obviously very different that what it's like today, but still really exciting.

What I didn't like:
1. The preaching. I get it, you like the environment. I don't need it rammed on me again and again. This may have been my fault though--I had expected it to be more of a dystopian instead of people arguing over workers' unions.

2. The people who go on strike are almost as bad--or worse--than their employers. I wish this book would have explored the downfalls of mob mentality more, but it seemed totally fine with it instead, since they were advocating for a good. But seriously, they were actively violent, while Torro-LeBlanc was more subtle. Which is worse? That's up to you. Personally, I find it hard to side with people who are totally chill about their friend clubbing an officer.
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3. What the heck is up with the CSS people? Are they personal law enforcers for the fashion industry, or are they government police? Because if they're from Torro-LeBlanc, Marla should have gotten help from someone, and if they're real police, then she REALLY should have gotten help from someone. Like Katniss Everdeen.

4. Marla never says what she's thinking. I know some people like to think before they speak, but seriously, she could have called some people out on what they did. It's hard to read about someone who never speaks her mind.

Still, I loved the writing so much I could hardly put this book down. If you plan on going on strike at work, maybe this will help (hint: get a celebrity on board, but be careful with the consequences!).

View all my reviews


Grading:
Language: B or C
Violence: A? B?

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Healer Book Tour!



Yep, it's another blog tour with a giveaway! This one's got a five star review. I highly suggest you add it to your to-read shelf, and then read it. Soon.

The HealerThe Healer by C.J. Anaya
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I were to describe this book in one word it would be "epic". But since this is a review for a blog tour, I'm going to describe it with many more.

Thanks so much, C.J. Anaya and YA Bound Book Tours, for this free book to review!
Hope Fairmont is a normal teenage girl. She attends public school, gets good grades, has a normal best friend…sort of normal…and works as a janitor at the local hospital. Unfortunately, that’s where the ruse ends. Oh, sure, she might be tidying up hospital rooms here and there, but Hope is also using a gift she hides from everyone in order to heal any patients who might need her, which, in her mind is everyone. She and her father may have been able to keep her healing gift a secret for most of her life, but there are others out there who know who Hope really is and what her gift for healing is truly meant to accomplish. Hope’s life spirals out of control when two, handsome young men mysteriously appear, claiming they must protect her from a demon god determined to end her life before she can fulfill her destiny.
The Healer truly is epic. My favorite part is how it's entirely inside Hope's head. There's no jumping from character to character or accidental head-hopping--this is Hope's story and she's the only one who tells it. The characters are all awesome too. Here's a rundown:

Hope: Super awesome girl who's tough and knows her rights and isn't afraid to ask for them. Personally, I don't see why she likes Tie over Victor, but at least she's making her own decision. The decisions made for her aren't necessarily bad though, which leads to...

Victor! He's nice, cute, and friendly. There are a couple of times Hope finds him too controlling and possessive, but usually I would have done the same thing. If someone you loved was in danger, wouldn't you try to protect them? I didn't (often) get the impression that he thought she was helpless. Maybe a couple times though.

And then there's Tie. I'm not sure if, being the Japanese god of love, he naturally attracts people or not. If so, you can't really blame Hope for her crush on him, but if it's actually real? I don't see how she puts up with him. I have a feeling that will be explored in the next book though, but I can't say anything without spoiling it.

Hope's dad and best friend were awesome too--I love how neither of them fade into the backround once Hope finds out about her destiny.
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Perfect friendship.
The whole Japanese mythology and healing powers were totally believable. There's no instant acceptation of everything. Hope already knows something is up because she could heal people since she was seven, so when Tie and Victor appear, she's slightly prepared for their news, and so was I. There weren't any info-dumpings either, because it was spread throughout the whole book. As much as I don't like info-dumping, that may lead to my only issue. The whole thing feels like a set-up for the rest of the series, like it's just the backstory but the real book will come later.

I totally want to read what comes later, though. C.J. Anaya is epic.

View all my reviews

Grading:

Violence: A or B
Sexual Content: Nothing but some intense kissing.
Language: B

Buy Links:

C.J. Anaya
About the Author
C. J. Anaya began writing short stories for family and friends when she was thirteen years old. This soon morphed into an extensive project every year during Christmas as a way to create a fun and inexpensive Christmas gift.

Her passion for reading and writing led her to following her own dreams of becoming a published author. She was born in Utah and raised everywhere else. She even lived a few years in Brazil, enjoying the people, the culture and learning the beautiful language of Portuguese; a language she is still fluent in to this day. As a result of her exposure to varying peoples and cultures, her interests became varied as well.

As a mother of four children she is now a singer and a songwriter, a baker and a cake decorator, a dancer and a choreographer, a girl with a degree in Criminal Justice and a first time published author of YA paranormal romance and fantasy. She is also married to the most deliciously, handsome looking Latino. As always, she has plenty to write about.

Author Links:

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