Monthly Archives: March 2014

River’s March Wrap-up

Best book in March

18114921

Loooooooooved Salvage! And as one of the books I was most looking forward to in 2014 I am SO happy that I did! Ah, check this one out guys, it’s amazing!

Despite traveling at the beginning of the month, and feeling like I was NEVER EVER going to finish ANYTHING I managed to read TWELVE BOOKS! I read ten ARCs and two of my own books. I’m sadly in the middle of two books right now so I wont have a nice round ‘finished’ amount of March, but I should at least get them finished tomorrow and technically it will still be March somewhere… hahaha.

Music

Guys. guys. GUYS. I cannot believe it CANNOT believe it that Taking Back Sunday came out with a new CD and IT IS GOOD. I was so scared that it would suck. It’s been forever for them and I am a HUGE fan and went to their shows ~back in the day~ and I listen to them when I’m depressed because I just feel so damn powerful for some reason when I do. TBS has gotten me through two of THE MOST difficult times in my life and I wouldn’t be who I am right now without this band. So when this song came out and I LIKED IT I was so excited. Then ‘Stood a Chance’ came out and while I like the song the video made me cringe so I got a bit worried and then the CD dropped and I listened to it like twice and wasn’t wowed or anything so. But then I put it on repeat while I was tromping through Tokyo on a rainy day a few weeks ago and THAT. WAS. IT. I was hooked and have been hooked and cannot stop listening to this CD. There’s such a sense of nostalgia that I feel like I’m 20 years old again and then it feels fresh enough that I can enjoy finding new things to love and just. wow. Words. I don’t have them.

 

Health

Before I go into this I want to start by saying that I don’t think I’m fat. In fact, I know I’m not. I’m the perfect weight for my height and body type. I’ve been overly thin, even underweight, my entire life. I am NOT saying that I am fat. Thus stated… I AM out of shape. Painfully so. The past year I was super busy with personal things. STRESSFUL things. I didn’t eat well, I didn’t exercise, didn’t sleep well and overall just wasn’t very healthy. Also, when I’m stressed, I don’t eat. SO now that I’m A LOT less stressed I’m eating normally. Maybe even more than normal. And I have gained some weight. I’m also still incredibly out of shape. So I’m trying to do something about that. I’m trying to make healthier, smarter (and cheaper) choices.

So I’ve started eating less crap and I’m working on improving my diet. I USED to just eat a piece of toast in the morning. Now I’m eating a bowl of oatmeal (with vanilla sugar) for breakfast. I used to go to the grocery store and buy a prepared lunch (Japanese obento) which not only costs over $5, but it’s also not that healthy. So I’ve started buying fruit and lunch meat and soups and I’m eating like an after school special but whatever. Ham and tomato sandwich. Mixed fruit. Tomato soup. Tasty, healthy and much cheaper. Plus this way I can eat BEFORE going to the grocery store, stressing myself out less and BUYING less.

For dinner since I usually eat at work I have to buy something from the grocery store (or convenience store). I know I could make my own food, but that is just too much effort (did I mention that I’m lazy?) But I’m trying to go for healthier items. No more chips, no more cookies, no more snacks. I’m eating prepared noodle meals, salads, and fruit-jelly cups. I’m spending so much less and WASTING so much less too. I always end up buying more than I can eat and since most of it expires at the end of the day (or will go bad in my work cubby if I choose to save it for later) so I just toss it. wtf self.

So that’s been something I’ve been working on since the beginning of the month, and I must say, I’m feeling a lot better. I’m still super out of shape, but my energy levels are much better, I’m sleeping a bit better, and I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it.

 

TV

Nothing too exciting this month. I started Starcrossed and it’s kinda lame so far. I’m almost scared that I’m getting too old for CW shows. GASP. I’m going to give it a shot though, I thought TVD was super lame at the start, but I came to love it. I also gave The 100 a shot and it was pretty good… I have NOT read the book and probably wont because it has like a million perspectives and that’s totally not my thing. I’m going to give that a few more episodes before deciding if it’s going to be something I keep up with. Other than that I’ve been loving The Originals and Arrow. Still not sure about TVD this season, which makes me sob.

 

New Blog Feature

Did you guys see my new feature? It’s called Before & AfterThe way it works is that at the beginning of every month I’m going to choose one book that I am DYING to read and one that I am SCARED to read. I’m going to write down why I can’t wait/ am afraid to read the books. This is the BEFORE. Then I’ll read them! And at the end of the month I’m going to update with the AFTER: how I felt about them, if they lived up to my expectations/disappointed me/blew my mind etc. I’ve already posted my BEFORE for March, so make sure to check out my AFTER post (following this one). And feel free to join me!

Secret news

IMG_4763

Have a picture for now… real announcement to come…

Personal Post – Book Buying Ban

BcQ63rzCYAA7nu7It’s weird how the words “Book Buying Ban” has been flying around as of late. It seems like that rush of awesome Winter 2014 releases is still on the move, and I admit I’ve gone a bit crazier than I have meant to, having grabbed a lot of new books recently from Amazon, used book stores and the soon-to-be-lost, World’s Biggest Book Store.

But I’m freaking out: I own way too many books, and while I’m always reading, I feel like as of late I’ve been accumulating more than I can handle. It also doesn’t help that I’m acquiring review books and library books like a crazy cat lady. So, I need to combat this problem, I need all of you out there to try and keep me on the straight and narrow. I can’t take credit for this idea as I was completely inspired by The Little Book Owl and her video on bans. I think, like she said, sometimes you know when it’s time, no matter how hard it may be.

As of April 1 until May 31, I am going on a book and library ban. I have to find a way to combat this problem and this is the hardest way to do it, but it also might stop me from going a bit crazy considering I’m a full time student again (in Library Science, so I lie to myself a lot and say it’s research… it totally is research. Totally.) Every two weeks on the blog, I will update you all on my progress, and what I’ve decided to do is make a bit of a challenge for myself for those two months. The goal is to knock out at least fifteen books from my backlog that I own and are not review.

  • 5 Adult Books
  • 5 YA Books
  • 5 Middle Grade Books
  • 1 of these must come from the borrowed pile.

And then review books will be throw around here and there. In the two week report, I will update you on what I read, if I enjoyed it or not and all that good stuff. If it’s a book I can’t see myself loaning out or rereading, it’s going to library donation bin or to the Odette Centre for Cancer Research where they have those free book tables (that I may or may not peruse when I am there).

To my friends who I see on a regular basis, your challenge is to tell me NO when we are out when it comes to books. To those who read this blog, all I ask from you is your encouragement, recommendations, and support. In fact, if you want help, feel free to look at my to-read shelf on Goodreads and scream “OMGREADTHATONE” at me.

At this end of this ban, if I succeed (and if I don’t), I’ll be hosting a giveaway, where in I will giveaway some of my favourites I read during the ban. Obviously I don’t know which books those will be, but we will cross that bridge when we get there. It’s just getting terrible that I’m pushing 400 books unread books and seriously, I gotta stop.

How do you combat the problem of owning or buying too many books? Let me know in the comments!

One — Before & AFTER

In case you missed what this feature is about… check out my post here: BEFORE & AFTER

So how did the two that I chose hold up? You might be surprised (or not, if you already read my reviews).

18106481Remember how excited I was about this? Well check out my review here. Yes, only 2.5 stars. This was sadly not as gritty and sexy as I had hoped. It was incredibly underwhelming, Nearly was smart, but not as cunning as I had hoped, and the love story was just gag, gag, gag. I didn’t swoon at all. SO SAD. I really did want to love this. HEART CRUSHED.

takingHoly hell I LOVED this! You can read my review here if you want the long version. But short version: this surpassed my expectations. The romance worked for me, Kyra and the mystery surrounding her worked for me. The pacing, the writing, the craziness… it all just worked and I loved it all so much. SO happy I gave this book a try!

 

One – Before & After — Books I am dying for and scared of

Every month I know what I’m going to read. I have a not-so-elaborate system set up on my goodreads account that shows me what books I have scheduled to read each month. I know a lot of people use google calendar or even a good-old day planner to schedule in their ARC reads-&-reviews, but I tag my ARCs on goodreads. The way I do it is if a book is, let’s say, set to release in April, I tag it for March and then read it in March. I LOVE clicking on my goodreads shelves and seeing the books on the list with filled in stars, indicating that I’m making progress.

Every month I have a few books that I am DYING to read. It’s sometimes PAINFUL forcing myself to stick to the schedule (and sometimes I super fail at it coughFEBRUARYcough and just read whatever) but it’s worth it if I get the reviews done. (And I’m actually doing really well so far this month — see for yourself!) And on the flip side of that sometimes there are books on my list that I’m scared to read. Why do I add them to my list? Because I WANT to read them, it’s just that maybe somebody that I know really well (or my coblogger, usually my coblogger) didn’t like it or it got a lot of really awful reviews. But I still want to give it a shot.

So I thought that at the start of each month I’d choose two books that I’m going to read in the following month. I’ll pick one that I’m DYING to read and one that I’m scared to read. I’ll say why I feel that way about both and then at the END of the month I’ll post and report back… a Before & After kinda thing… so for now I’ll be cheating a little bit (because I’m already well into my March reads and I’ve already read one of my DYING TO READ books) but… here’s my first before post…

BEFORE

18106481

(If you’ve already seen my review on this… pretend you haven’t.)

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano. I am (was) DYING to read this book. Sam tried to get me an ARC from her publisher hook-up and sadly couldn’t so when this popped up on Netgally I was all CLICK GIMME NOW OMG PLEASE and was SO excited when I got a copy! So yay! Why am (was) I so excited to read this? IT SOUNDS SO SEXY. It sounds dark and gritty and Nearly sounds so smart and FRINGE and mystery and sexy bad boys and swoon. Yes. That is why I want (wanted) to read this book. It just sounds smart and sexy.

taking

(I am currently reading this book, so it’s a little less cheating)

The Taking by Kimberly Derting. I am so SCARED to read this book. I’ve read all of Derting’s other books and I have a lot of mixed feelings on them. I loved her first few Body Finder books but once the love triangle started I just let out a huge sigh and became really sad. The same thing happened with her Pledge series. I loved the first one and then it went downhill from there due to a love triangle and lack of my favorite character (Max). So I’m scared to read this book because while I do like Derting’s writing and (most) of her characters I’ve heard a lot of negative things about this… going to give it the college try and hope for the best…

And there we have it! One book that I am (was) DYING to read and one that I’m SCARED to read. These are my BEFORE thoughts on them and at the end of the month (next week) I’ll post my thought on them and if my excitement and fears were warranted.

So what about you guys? What books are you dying for or scared of? Lemme know!

ARC Review – The Wizard’s Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke

17790234Title: The Wizard’s Promise

Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.

As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

Huge thank you to Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I really enjoyed Clarke’s The Assassin’s Curse duology. It had a lot of my favourite, excluded elements in fantasy, particularly pirates, sailing the high seas AS a pirate, and a kick butt heroine who becomes a pirate-assassin. The Wizard’s Promise definitely shares quite a number of elements with its big sister, and while I wasn’t sold immediately, Clarke really has a way of building a story.

The Wizard’s Promise is slow. In fact, it took me about 30% for I found myself really engaging with the story. It has a lot it has to establish right away, something that will break even the most patient reader, but implore you — it’s worth sticking with to see how Clarke builds the world, crafts her characters, and the last 25% percent of this book, where hell really breaks lose, it’s quite the delightful, if eerie romp.

I feel like I’m not doing a the best job of representing this book, but it really is going to be one of those novels that will have a very polarizing affect. In one sense, how do you keep reader’s going when your beginning is molasses slow? How do I compel people to get to that last 25% which really makes the story shine? You can’t ask that of every reader.

Clark’e prose is stunning. She has this way of articulating her descriptions that just makes me shiver. Everything is vivid, so easy to visualize, and I feel like since a good chunk of this novel takes place on the high seas, that she’s trying to play to our inner-pirate’s again, which is fine by me. I wasn’t entirely sold on the characters right away, but Hanna grew on me. She wants to be a full-fledged wind witch, and she has so much persistence in what she wants. She never gives up, never lets people tell her she can’t — we need more of this in YA. She’s definitely hard-headed, but her supporting cast really helps keep her in check for most of the story.
However, she is entitled, a bit bratty, but it worked for me because when she had her ass handed to her, it was handed hard. Really, it was the supporting cast and their issues that kept a lot of the novel fresh for me. No love triangle, though the male cast was quite entertaining in how they handled Hanna’s behavior at times.

Admittedly, there were times where the book took it’s dear sweet time to where it was going, and sometimes I found myself engaged, other times I was screaming to get one with it. The best way to approach The Wizard’s Promise is to have patience, because isn’t the most smooth of sailing from start to finish. However, the events that do transpire are both scary and clever that I have to handle it to Cassandra Rose Clarke for including those moments, in what mostly felt like a long introduction. I do hope the pacing issues get ironed out for book two, because I am interested in seeing where Hanna’s adventure will take her next.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Things on my Bookish Bucket List

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List (could be blogging related, book related etc. — meeting authors, reading x many books per year, finishing a daunting book, etc.)

River

1. Read all of the books that I own! I have a HUGE problem with buying books and then I get a huge stack and… it’s never ending.

2. Meet Maggie Stiefvater. I just want to meet her and have her sign my Raven Boys books and thank her for Ganseyyyyy.

3. Buy my favorite ARCs. I feel bad that I almost never buy finished copies of ARCs that I love. I mean, I HAVE, but not many. I always want to though, but then I tell myself to buy something that I haven’t read so… hopefully someday I can flesh out this collection a bit.

4. Re-read The Raven Boys at least once a year. So far I am totally winning this.

5. Go to BEA. Now that I’m going back to the USA this seems like something I could totally do!

Sam

1. I am going on a book ban starting April and ending the 1st of June (post to come on that), so I am going to be updating bi-weekly on the progress of that. April is when all my exams are happening, May I have visitors the whole month, and I challenged myself to read 15 of my own books (excluding ARCs). I think I might fail. The bucket list item is really I just want to see (and record) how long I can go without buying a book. 🙂

2. Meet Marissa Meyer. She’s come to Toronto twice and both times she has come I have been unable to make it out to one of her signings and it makes me horribly sad.

3. Clear out at least 5 chubby books (over 500+ pages) because damn, I have quite a few on my shelf like Eon, The Count of Monte Cristo, nearly all my adult fantasy novels… yeah, chubby books are hard.

4. Clear out at least five non-ARC books off my Kindle. I have so many not ARCs on my Kindle that keep getting pushed back and it breaks my heart. I just got Gail Carriger’s “Crudrat” on my Kindle (from kickstarting the audio book) and I LOVE her books, but ARCs keep taking priority and it makes me unhappy some days. 😦

5. Run some giveaways on the blog. I am working on the first one still and it’s more of that I haven’t had the time to sit down and put the post and contents together thanks to a different kind of bookish giveaway I will be doing over at RPGamer in the upcoming weeks. I think we may definitely do Contemporary Summer Fling again with a giveaway. That was such a fun experience. ❤

ARC Review – The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

16068341Title:  The Truth About Alice

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 / ★★★★★

Synopsis: Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

Huge thank you to Macmillian and Netgalley for this advance reader copy.

River’s Review (4.5 Stars)

I FLEW through this. Read it in less than 24 hours. I mainly picked it as my end-of-month read because it’s short (and because I was free from my January ARCs to read whatever I wanted) and wow.

This book is told from four different perspectives. If you know me, you know that I do NOT like multiple-first person-POV novels. But this worked really well. The voices were all VERY clear. I never had any question about who was speaking. And I thought that the choice to tell Alice’s story from four other perspectives was what made this book unique.

Overall this is a book about mean girls (and boys). Small town drama. I actually thought this was similar to Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. Only rather than being told from the POV of the exiled, persecuted ex-mean girl, it’s told from the mean girls (and boys) POV. THAT was fresh and different. Each character has some truth about Alice that they’re keeping to themselves and for the first half of the book I was wondering all kinds of things.

The truth of this book is that people will believe what they want, they’ll do whatever they need to do to stay on top, and they will spin stories to save their own faces. I was SO MAD at how awful these people were (well, Kurt wasn’t too awful, he was probably the only character that I could stomach) but that’s the point. Ugly pretty people. All of them blaming Alice for their own shitty choices, it was just… so awful. And the best part is that they KNOW they’re being awful. Kelsie’s story made me want to punch her. I felt bad for her, but any sympathy I had vanished when she blamed Alice for her own TERRIBLE choices. For her own stupid mistakes. I’m not even sure if Josh knew WHY he was blaming Alice, he was so oblivious to his own confused feelings.

This book is a unique, quick, though-provoking read and I think fans of contemporary YA will really enjoy it. Especially fans of Courtney Summers.

Sam’s Review (5 Stars)

My co-blogger was actually the one who told me I needed to read The Truth About Alice. She knows I have a love for books about crappy and disgusting people who get a comeuppance and what many readers are going to find with this book is a surprisingly engaging, if a touch disturbing mystery that involves a young girl who supposedly slept with two guys at a party, one of them dead shortly after.

The Truth About Alice is one of the best books I’ve seen that deal with bullying and slut-shamming. The characters in this book, each and everyone of them is guilty of this action and since you don’t get Alice’s perspective, your left to your own devices in terms of figuring out who is telling the truth and who is lying. Who is out there to stir the dramalama pot, and who’s genuine. I love the way Mathieu portrays these awful people because I love when naughty teens get a good hard lesson. One which isn’t just solved with a quick apology.

Alice is actually my favourite character because her presence in the story is minimal and almost ghost like. She’s there, but not, and as the novel develops you see more of her and you realize who she truly is is not what she’s painted as. She admits to fault, is brave for not attempting to go to extreme levels because she knows the truth and she knows that all actions have consequence. It doesn’t make it any harder to roam around Healy High, but you get a sense that despite her timid demur she’s quite humble, lovable even.

The interactions with Kurt and Alice were actually my favourite. A lot of the time they played well of of each other and Kurt’s point-of-view always felt the closet to the truth for me. That’s not to say he’s a good person either, because his reveal is one of the more gut-wrenching, but I appreciate Mathieu didn’t just make Kurt the “goodie goodie” because he’s actually anything but if you look at his motives.

The imagery painted in this novel is haunting and disturbing. It’s not a book I recommend with every reader in mind, but I loved it from start to finish. I loved that every action had a consequence, I loved the mystery surrounding Alice and Brandon and I loved that there was no sugarcoating on the subject. Plus the final chapter is really what sold the whole book for me, because having that truth really can make you a whole lot stronger.