Tag Archives: fiction

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…



(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.


(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!

River’s Reasons for a DNF

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I present three books that EVERYBODY AND THEIR DOG loved that I could not bring myself to finish. I know that I’m not alone, but I am in the minority (on these particular titles). Yes, I am a book quitter (sometimes).

I used to never DNF books. Like ever. I think the very fist book I ever DNFed (back before I even knew what ‘DNF’ meant) was The Host. According to my memory (and my notes on goodreads) I gave up when I got to the part Wanderer started going by Wanda. After the whole train wreck that was the end of the Twilight series (and the awful Renesumeueadsljfasd baby name) I was really upset with S. Meyer and just felt my skin crawl when she changed an AWESOME name to a rather plain name (sorry to any Wanda’s that might be reading this) FOR AN ALIEN IN A SCI-FI NOVEL. Come on. I was also just really bored with the book for the longest time and in a moment of defiance I quit the book.

I think the next time I actively quit a book (or DNFed it) WITHOUT realizing it (I know that I’ve started a bunch of books and then just lost interest and forgot about them… they’re probably all laying around my parents house back in the USA) was when I gave up on trying to read Game of Thrones for the millionth time. I wrote a whole blog post about that, so you can read if you like.

After I got into book blogging and ARC reviewing I felt a lot of pressure to FINISH allllllll the books. I was even told that it’s “not okay” (or very wrong) to DNF ARCs. Well… in my opinion, it’s not. I know that the publisher allowed me to read the book in advanced FOR FREE, buuuuuuut I’m doing that in exchange for an HONEST review. And if I force myself to read a book, a book that I really DON’T want to be reading, am I being honest? No. I feel that it is totally acceptable to take a good stab at  a book before honestly quitting it. I’ve DNFed a handful of ARCs (you can see them on my DNF shelf on goodreads) but when I submitted feedback to the publisher I was TOTALLY UPFRONT about it. I didn’t submit a review, I didn’t rate it anywhere. I simply shelved it and wrote an note thanking them and apologizing and giving the reason WHY I quit. This way I’m not contributing to negative feedback while still being honest and letting others know how I felt about it. I feel that this is totally acceptable.

So WHAT makes me stop reading a book? A lot of things. Poor writing, boring characters, confusing plot that seems to be going NOWHERE. Cliches. Subjects that I really cannot stomach. Sometimes I read a YA that is more middle grade than I feel it should be and I can’t connect with it. Other times the characters do really stupid things right away that are just totally unbelievable. If I’m not hooked by 25% I just cannot MAKE myself finish a book. I have way too many other things that I WANT to read.

What makes you DNF a book? How far do you read before you give up? Let me know in the comments!

River’s End of Year Book Survey


1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Just One Day by Gayle Foreman

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Tie between The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. My friend Melissa kept pushing them on me and I REALLY had no interest in them at all. I got The Raven Boys when it was on sale in the kindle store and even THEN it sat on my TBR shelf for a VERY long time. It was only when I got an ARC of The Dream Thieves that I decided to finally read it and then… well, if you know me, you know how THAT went. So I finally decided to try The Scorpio Races and THAT was amazing as well.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

The Raven Boys

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I know it’s not finished yet, but I read the first two and they’re the start so it counts.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Maggie Stiefavter and Jessi Kirby. It’s a tie between the two of them! I love their books SO much!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Before I read this book I was NOT a fan of contemporary. I’d read Sarah Dessen books, but those were IT. So reading this was very different for me.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Tie between Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne and Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Raven Boys… I’m actually already re-reading it and 2013 isn’t even over yet!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?


11. Most memorable character in 2013?

Maggie from AKA & Going Rouge by Robin Benway! Omg she is my FAVORITE!!!!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Golden by Jessi Kirby

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Tie between The Raven Boys and Golden. I feel like Golden had an impact on me in a very emotional way, but The Raven Boys somehow became my NUMBER ONE BOOK OF EVER.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

The entire Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. Well… maybe I can believe that I waited so long because… zombies.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

She asked, “Is this thing safe?” “Safe as Life,” Gansey replied. Blue & Gansey from The Raven Boys

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest – An Autumn Dream by Melissa Giorgio
Longest – Feed by Mira Grant

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I actually can’t think of anything right now, but I’m sure there was TONS of stuff that I ranted and raved about to Sam!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Roar and Perry in the Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Tie between The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black and Mind Games by Kirsten White

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

The Raven Boys

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

Contemporary. I went through a HUGE contemporary kick over the spring and summer and I LOVED it. So glad I got super into that genre!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Ganseyyyyyyyyyy (from The Raven Boys)

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy MicGinnis

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Coda by Emma Trevayne

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

AKA by Robin Benway

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I SOBBED through the end of this.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas! OMG this book is insane and I felt like NOBODY was talking about it. There should have been a collective OMG heard around the world the night it came out because everybody should have read it and been all OMFG at the ending!!!

Annnnnd in NO particular order, my


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What are your tops 10 books read in 2013? Leave your list in the comments!

ARC Review – The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater


Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for allowing me the chance to review this book.

While I wasn’t huge on her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, I found myself still attracted to Maggie Stiefvater’s work. She has this amazing way of pulling readers into her stories and even if you don’t like what is happening, it’s still pleasurable to read. I couldn’t believe how much I loved The Raven Boys, and I’m happy to report that The Dream Thieves might in fact be superior to its predecessor.

First off, I loved that the novel was mostly about Ronan, and it was great to finally have his back story. Ronan has a lot of complications, but perhaps the biggest of all, is that his dreams are haunting him both figuratively and literally. Actually, a lot of his novel feels like an untold chapter of Nightmare on Elm Street, only better. I was so pleased to have the story be focused on him because I found myself sympathizing a lot with his family situation, his lack of trust in others, and his desire to find someone who would understand him. He’s a very well-rounded character overall.

What I also appreciated was the constant growth of all the returning characters. A lot of them are finally maturing, and it was quite the wonderful to see. I loved the interactions between Gansey and Ronan, but I equally loved the creepy, almost sinister conversations between Ronan and Joseph Kavinsky — a lot of their discussions gave me the chills! Kavinsky might be one of Stievater’s best written characters as he makes you uncomfortable, hes destructive, and it’s often difficult to know what is truly going through his mind. I am even hesitant to say he might be my favourite character in this series.

Stiefvater also writes wonderful kissing scenes. She makes me happy when characters kiss because to me she makes them sound genuine, tender even. The romance, while not a focal point for me in this story was still very enjoyable. I still think the mystery elements in this series are excellent, and while mainly issues are not tied up entirely, we get a few answers, but lots ore questions.

I really cannot wait to see how this series will continue to develop. For me, I don’t even have to like Stiefvater’s work entirely to see what a talented and strong writer she is. I do think she writes excellent, fully fleshed out characters, and creates worlds with just enough of mystery that she’ll keep you guessing. Magic is a terrifying element, and in Raven Boys’ world it’s something that they will never be able to escape. I really do hate, however, how long I’m now going to have to wait for the next installment of this series.

Stacking the Shelves (8)

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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Ten Tiny Breaths — K.A. Tucker
Taste Test — Kelly Fiore

Just two ARCs this week. I didn’t come across any good Kindle deals and I’m trying to save some book money to hit up Kinokuniya when I go to Tokyo later next month (I am CRAVING a bookstore with um, ENGLISH books, lol. Sadly the closest one is a 3 hour train ride away ;__;)

Have you read either of these? I’m almost done with Ten Tiny Breaths and… I’m not impressed.

Not a Drop to Drink


Title: Not a Drop to Drink

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Rating:  ★★★ ★★

Synopsis: Teenage Lynn has been taught to defend her pond against every threat: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most important, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. But when strangers appear, the mysterious footprints by the pond, the nighttime threats, and the gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it. . . .

New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant says Not a Drop to Drink is a debut “not to be missed.” With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a frontierlike world not so different from our own.

Review: I made my mom read this after I finished it and I told her ‘this totally reminds me of you, and our family’. She got about 20% into it and was like WTF HOW DOES THIS REMIND YOU OF US?! And then she kept reading and… it clicked.

How many of you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Or a fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games? How about if you were faced with a killer virus? Killer robots? A 2nd ice age? Yeah… these are some of my favorite end-of-the-world book scenarios  but… these ones don’t terrify me (well… maaaaaaaaybeeeeeee zombies) as much as the idea of having to just plain survive. I mean, we’d all die if any of these were to actually happen. But what about when the odds are against you… and survival IS possible (and not because you’re an olympic-trained fighter). What then?

I grew up in basically… the same back-woods countryside that Lynn survives in in this book. My house was in the middle of nowhere, and we have a huge pond behind it. My father, an avid hunter, taught us how to shoot, hunt and track. I went to outdoor wilderness camp every summer growing up, and I know how to fish, purify water, and gut a deer (ew, right?). My family has a huge garden, my mother cans EVERYTHING and our freezer is usually filled with venison. All of these things that I grew up with rang SO TRUE with me while I was reading this book.

I’m from Michigan, where we get snow about 6 months out of the year, and I’ve gone without power and running water more times than I can count.

So if we ran out of clean drinking water, could I survive? Could my family? I think we’d have a chance. And this is why I connected so well with this book. This is why I had to share it with my mother. I could see and feel this entire story from start to end. It was so easy to put myself in Lynn’s shoes, to think about the choices she had to make, and compare them to the ones that I’d make if I were in the same position.

This book is bloody, raw, and emotional. It pulls NO punches and spares no one. There is pain and suffering all around, but there is also hope, growth, happiness, and I love how Lynn changes through the book. I had actual moments of gasping-OMFG THAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN-throw my kindle down on the bed-tears in my eyes CANNOT STOP READING hysterics.

And one of THE MOST refreshing things about this is that it’s a standalone. You get a full story with a bittersweet ending and a perfect conclusion that just sits so right. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Keep your eyes out for this one when it hits shelves. It’s a MUST READ!

I received an eARC of this from Edelweiss. Thank you!

Giveaway — THE SIGHT SEER & Anna and the French Kiss


Gabi Harkins likes to think she’s a pretty normal sixteen-year-old. She goes to school, suffers though an awful part-time job, and deals with a bratty younger sister. But when a potential shoplifter morphs into a monster right in front of her, Gabi realizes her life is far from normal—especially when that monster follows her home and ends up battling a boy wielding a sword in her backyard.

The boy, Rafe Fitzgerald, is a member of Silver Moon, an organization devoted to eradicating demons before they kill humans. If this little bit of news isn’t earth-shattering enough, Rafe reveals that he needs Gabi’s help. As strong as Rafe is, he does not possess the Sight—a rare ability that allows a hunter to See through a demon’s glamour, enabling them to strike before the demon does. But guess who does?

While Gabi is reluctant to face another demon, she knows she owes Rafe big time for saving her. Together, they’re thrown headfirst into heart-stopping situations as they battle newer and more frightening demons. When she starts to fall for Rafe, Gabi knows her normal life is gone forever.

HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS! Check out this book. My VERY good friend (we’ve been friends since high school!!! We used to write the most ridiculous stories together about pretty boys in love. And she even came to Japan and stayed with me for a week) Melissa Giorgio‘s VERY FIRST BOOK is being released on JUNE 14TH. It’s a Young Adult paranormal (first in a possible series) and I am SO EXCITED FO HER! I also can’t wait to buy my own copy and read it’s gorgeousness in all it’s published glory.

To celebrate her book birthday I’m going to host my very first GIVEAWAY!!!! This is open INTERNATIONALLY. Not only will I be giving away one e-copy of THE SIGHT SEER I asked Melissa to choose a book to add to the giveaway and she picked…

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Anna and the French kiss… one of her current favs (and mine too!) So hot damn you get a YA Paranormal AND a contemporary out of this giveaway. Something for everyone.

For THE SIGHT SEER I can only send you a KINDLE version of the ebook, so if you don’t have a kindle and don’t want to read it thru the kindle app then we can talk about a physical copy. The ebook of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS will be available for any device tho.

And the winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize.

So please fill out this rofflecopter (sorry I can’t embed it, wordpress rules…). You can: follow us on twitter, subscribe to both our blogs by email, and tweet about the giveaway. That’s it 😀


you have until June 14th to enter!

Monument 14


Title: MONUMENT 14

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. 

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

Review: I LOVED THIS BOOK. I read it in my pre-travel OMG-I-HAVE-TO-FLY-ON-AN-AIRPLANE-FOR-TEN-HOURS-I-HOPE-I-DON’T-DIE anxiety. And you’d think that reading an ‘end of the world’ novel would have just pushed me further into my hysteria, but… it didn’t. This book sucked me in and distracted me for a full 24 hours pre-trip so I was able to cope.

Yes, I read this book in 24 hours. I did have to take a break to sleep, eat, pack, and go to work, but in all that in-between time I had my nose glued to my kindle as I read this.

I actually happened across this book by total chance. It was on sale in the kindle store (the only place and price I’m allowing myself to buy books these days) so I looked it up on Goodreads, saw that it was a disaster novel, and pushed the ‘BUY NOW’ button (my favorite button on the internet).

At exactly 3% into the story I was already updating my Goodreads page raving about it. THIS IS HOW YOU START AN APOCALYPSE. Kids on a school bus, giant pieces of ice falling from the sky. One plucky driver crashes her bus into the closes Mega-store and saves the kiddos. Well, only 14 of them. Must have been early on her bus route.

The story starts off with a bang and does NOT slow down. They go from super hail to the biggest earthquake in history, MEGAtsunamis, and a chemical weapons spill that I thought was pretty unique (for ya know, a chemical weapons spill).

Now, this was pretty much the only thing that bugged me… the earthquake. Maybe because I DID live through the ‘biggest earthquake in human history (two years ago on March 11th)’ I’m a bit sensitive to earthquake’s in fiction. This earthquake was bigger than the March 11th one, but they had NO aftershocks? And the building survived? I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know anything about earthquakes that happen because of MEGAtsunamis, but I do know that there are aftershocks (for years!) after huge quakes. So I tried not to let this bother me, but I did make a note about it.

Outside of the whole ‘world is ending’ portion of the novel, the heart of the story is how the kids survive inside of the giant Wal*Mart (that’s what I pictured anyway). The one adult goes to find help, leaving some teenagers in charge of a handful of Junior high and Elementary students. With only 14 kids we get A LOT of personality. And I loved these crazy kids. We had the adorable twins, the Spanish kid (who doesn’t speak English), a super religious boy (who kept telling everyone they were going to hell), a hilarious kid who’s basically lived the life of a 45 year old trucker (Max, he was my favorite. His stories about strippers and other random forms of ‘adult entertainment’ were hilarious). And then the ‘older’ kids; a couple of jocks, a popular girl, another girl who probably could have been the class president, a pre-teen who thought it was a great idea to try to dress sexy and try to get the older boys to hook up with her (her storyline was probably one of the most interesting and really knocked you in the gut, but man, there were times when I just wanted to scream at her and knock her down a few pegs), a boy scout, and then our narrator (who was kinda a nerd) and his computer-genius brother.

So all of these kids in this store… and things go from super fun (freedom and LOTS of candy), to Lord of the Flies. There are some tense moments and some truly terrifying moments. There are plays for power, moments were they have to choose who to trust, and even times when they’re just a bunch of stupid kids doing stupid things. And teens doing stupid teenager things.

I can’t say too much more without spoiling it, so just take my word for it and check out this book! The next one, MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE comes out later this month, and I just found out that there’s also a short story. Super excited to check them both out!


The house had no windows, only artificial lights hanging from the ceilings. Long spider like legs dangled from above, plunging down, suddenly stopping and hanging precariously above everyone’s heads. Each studio was outfitted with glass bulbs mounted on extendable arms, stretching out from walls, reaching and wrapping around to illuminate the canvas with the best possible reflections and refractions.

First words (paragraph) of 2013.




I finished NaNoWriMo 2012 yesterday night at 50,557 words. I also finished the novel with a plot twist and a cliff hanger.

For me NaNoWriMo isn’t a chance to ‘write a novel’. I never work on my serious works during this time. Instead it’s a month long writing exercise where I start with a small idea and see how far I can make it go with minimal planning.

Things I learned this year:

+ I really like Scrivener and plan on buying it.

– Don’t write from a POV that doesn’t work for the story.

(I wrote from a male POV but the story would have worked SO much better from the main female or third person) This is the second time I’ve done this, and I need to listen to my gut more than going with ‘what I want to do’.

+ I have lots of free time for writing, so I really need to just focus more.

(I totally watched ALL of The Walking Dead AND still managed to work full time and finish NaNo a day early)

+ Writing just to write without obsessing over the words is fun! (Edit later self. I spend way too much time editing as I go and I get nowhere, often)

– I write sci-fi for a reason. This year I tried to write something more contemporary (with a paranormal twist) and had some logistical issues with things like… it doesn’t take 4 days to drive straight across the USA.

Over all I’m glad that I did NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m also glad that it’s over. I want to focus on other projects now that I’m back in the habit of writing. And I’m going to take some of these lessons to heart as I do so.