January 31, 2013

January Update: Books, books, books, and cute Pugsy

One of my resolutions this year was to start putting more of myself in my blog so I thought a good start would be monthly updates. They'll mostly be about whatever happened to me during the month worth noting (and some not :P) plus my newest favorites books and otherwise. Jaime at The Perpetual Page-Turner inspired me to do these with her awesome Monthly Rewind posts.

The month as described by Doctor Who:
That would be me and the 24th, a.k.a my last day at Unnamed Theater Company a.k.a the day before ALA.

Some Happenings:
>Did "Christmas" with my husband's family. December was so crazy we weren't able to get together until the beginning of January, but it was worth the wait. My awesome mother-in-law got me some books that I squeed over, among other things.

>I attended my first book conference. I know ALA Midwinter is smaller and more low-key than others, but I really enjoyed being able to talk with some of the publishers (Little Brown and Macmillan are awesome) and the crowds were still a little itnense for me. I also got to spend time with all the lovely Seattle bloggers which was fantastic :] I could post book haul pictures and whatnot, but I think these are better:

>Finished my Unnamed Theater Company job. Guys, I swear it was sucking out my soul. Give me a nice, cozy little bookstore and I'll happily work away. Just...don't make me go back.

>Got a new haircut. It's kind of weird having so much of my hair gone since it's been long for a few years now. I like it, though :] 

January wasn't really an eventful month, but I'm a-okay with that.

Some Current Favorites:

>Hansen's Soda. Guys, this stuff is clean and delicious. It's exactly what it says it is and that's that. The Mandarin Lime I had the other day was clear instead of bright orange! Seriously, it's all the soda with less guilt (I mean, it is still sugary :P) The Pomegranate flavor only has 5 ingredients (the others might as well, but this one is currently in front of my face so I can say for sure.) 

>My tiny giraffe necklace. It was my first Etsy purchase and it is awesome. I got quite a few compliments on it at ALA :] Shop I got it from.

>Sweaters. I mean, I've always kind of been obsessed with sweaters, but it's gotten so much worse this past month. I practically live in them and whenever I go to Forever 21 I have to resist the urge to buy ALL OF THE sweaters. And there are a lot.

Doctor & TARDIS <3
>My husband decided to start watching Doctor Who so I'm having fun rewatching with him and seeing him experience it all for the first time.

>Audiobooks. Okay, I've only finished the first disk of the first Percy Jackson book, but I'm really liking it. I don't really know that I have the attention span for something I haven't read before, but it's definitely great for rereads!


>Show: Haven't watched much, so I'll stick with Doctor Who.
>Movie: Tie between Pitch Perfect and Life of Pie
>Book: Apparently I've only read 7 books this month and I loved 4 of them :P 1) Splintered by A.G. Howard, 2) The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd, 3) Drama by Raina Telgemeir, and 4) Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Looking to February:

>The husband and I finally decided to get a cat and we're planning to adopt one when we go down to visit family :D
>Also, I'm getting new glasses which means I'll be able to see things again. Woo!

Pugsy of the Month:

January 30, 2013

My shelves are way too full

Before ALA I had a lot of unwanted books lying around taking up space.
After ALA I still have all of those PLUS a whole bunch of ARCs that really need a new home.
As I have way too many ARCs on my plate already, I don't really want any more. I can do 2-3 ARCs for one finished copy if you'd like, but if you're a ARC for ARC trader I totally understand.

So, here's my list of books:

Envy by Gregg Olsen
Dark Souls by Paula Morris
Croak by Gina Damico
Scorch by Gina Damico
Another Jekyll, Another Hyde by Daniel and Dina Nayeri

Dark Eden 2: Eve of Destruction by Patrick Carman
Wrecked by Anna Davies
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Railsea by China Mieville
My Friends are Dead People by Tony J. Ortiz

Origin by Jessica Khoury x2
The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arnston
Betrayal y Gregg Olsen
Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan
The Loop by Shandy Lawson

Captives by Jill Williamson
Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin
Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington
September Girls by Bennett Madison

In Too Deep by Coert Voorhees
The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe
The Rules by Stacey Kade

The Splinders by Lauren Oliver
Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George

The Conditions of Love by Dale Kushner
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle by L.J. Smith
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Envy by Gregg Olsen
I'd Tell You I Love You, But The I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
After by Amy Efaw
Eve by Anna Carey
Water Balloon by Audrey Vernick
My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
Wake by Amanda Hocking
Lullaby by Amanda Hocking

My wishlist is here.
You can reach me through Twitter (@ARoomWithBooks) email (aroomwithbooks @ gmail . com) or you can leave a way to reach you in the comments. Whatever works :]

January 25, 2013

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman {Review}

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: Rachel Hartman
Source: Ambuzzador program on Random Buzzers
Pages: 451
Series: Seraphina #1
Rating: Direct Hit
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical, minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary day draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered -- in a suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. 
I’m quite glad I got the chance to be an Ambuzzador for Seraphina since I otherwise wouldn’t have read this amazing book. I’ve been burned by fantasy a few times before and had decided that I just didn’t like the genre. Seraphina definitely has me rethinking that, though.

The language confused me a bit at times, but it wasn’t confusing in a way that hindered my enjoyment. Plus, Hartman was kind enough to provide a glossary! I was afraid there’d be tons of made-up words and confusing imaginary creatures, but that wasn’t the case. There are a few creatures and words that need explaining, but Hartman does just that. She didn’t leave me hanging in the dark wondering what in the world I was reading about.

I love the subtlety of Seraphina. It’s possible that most of that is due to the historical setting in which it’s set, but no matter the reason I loved it. The humor is never blatant and mystery is one that slowly seeps into the story. I actually found myself laughing out loud at times!

The characters are all fantastic as well. I really felt for Seraphina. I can’t imagine what it would be like to hate your own body not because you’re “too fat” or “too skinny” but because you have scales! When she took a knife to her scales I could feel her pain deep in my bones but I completely understood her determination and likely would’ve done the same to myself. Not only did she find the look of herself ugly, but she was an abomination to both societies. And yet, she was a strong, determined woman with a loving and compassionate side. In short, I adored her.

Then there’s Kiggs. He’s so prickly at times, but I could see the determination and reasoning for his action so I respected him as a character.
And then there’s Glisselda. I really thought I’d hate her when I first started reading but she turned out to be a completely wonderful character!

The story itself is both quiet and dramatic. The action and intrigue is never thrust right in your face, but I also found myself to never be particularly bored.
The Nutshell: If you think you don’t like fantasy, you might want to give Seraphina a try. I was a self-proclaimed fantasy hater until I read this. The characters are wonderful; the story is intricate, beautiful and fantastic; and the fantasy elements are actually easy to understand and wrap you head around.

January 23, 2013

Cover Lover {67}

Of course we all know you should never judge a book by its cover, but do we ever really listen to that?
Cover Lover showcases eye catching, intriguing, and beautiful covers.

This week's Cover Lover goes to The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell.
Publish Date:
The colors on this cover are absolutely gorgeous. I love how they blend together and stand out at the same time. Brightly colored covers (especially without people) are the bee's knees (see what I did there?) I also really love the way the roots are shown underground. 

January 21, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd {Review}

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: January 29, 2013
Source: Publisher for honest review
Pages: 432
Series: The Madman's Daughter #1
Rating: Hit/Direct Hit
In the darkest places, even love is deadly.
Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London -- working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.
Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward -- both of whom she is deeply drawn to -- Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius --and madness-- in her own blood.
Um, Miss Shepherd, can you explain what you were thinking when you wrote the ending? Because really, that's just cruel. Now, it is a series, but I'm not really sure where things can go from here. I'm curious to see where Shepherd takes the story next.

Enough about the future of the series, though, let's talk about the story itself.

For some reason I have this idea in my head that all historical books are always really slow and boring. The Madman's Daughter is yet another in the genre to prove me wrong. It did move a bit slowly, but not in the boring sense. It was maddening when mysteries were hinted at and answers felt just within grasp, but in the most delicious way. And don't fret about the aforementioned ending, you get all the answers it's just heartwrenching.

Juliet is pretty badass especially considering the setting. Here she is in a world where women are thought to be delicate, ignorant creatures and she's not afraid to do what needs to get done. She works scrubbing laboratory floors so she can survive without prostituting herself, she studies medicine, she stands up to her father, she chooses a guy for herself, among countless other things. She's not afraid to ask for help, either, which is an awesome thing on its own. One of the things I truly loved her for, though, was how confused she was. She knew her father was mad and found the things he did sickening but was drawn to them as well. The internal struggle was both wonderful and terrible.

I suppose you'd like me to talk about the boys as well? I honestly don't consider it much of a love triangle. There are two guys and only one girl, yes, but Juliet states from the beginning who she wants,. She does get a little confused, yes, but I think it's pretty fair given the circumstances. Plus, she doesn't go about stringing them both along. She ends up kissing both, sure, but she clearly tells boy B that she has feelings for boy A.

Juliet's father is absolutely terrifying and I felt anger, hatred, fear, and pity for him. Sometimes all at once.

If you're squeamish you might just want to back away now. The animal dissections were described so vividly I found myself wanting to wash my brain clean of them a few times. That's not to mention how I felt for the animals themselves. Maybe it's the vegetarian in me, but I can't stand to see animals abused. I mean, those damn ASPCA commercials make me want to cry and go adopt them all. So reading about vivisection? Not exactly awesome. It was, however, an important part of the story and meant to disturb the reader.

The mysteries here are crazy. I mean, we have Juliet trying to figure out whether her father is truly mad or a misunderstood genius (I mean, yeah, he's mad, but Juliet has some serious internal struggles about it), weird-looking islanders, unexplained deaths, and just general shady personalities. It was practically torture at times, but you'll get all the answers in due time. And I promise I do mean all (unless I missed something.)
The Nutshell: the Madman's Daughter is historical fiction/fantasy, but it's definitely not all busy London streets and corsets. The bulk of the story takes place on the island and they don't exactly sit around having tea parties. The romance is a nice addition to the story, but the mystery and horror is what will keep you turning the pages.

January 20, 2013

Have Your Cake and Read it Too {5}

Have Your Cake and Read it Too is a bi-weekly feature that will take a book and pair it with a food whether it be savory or sweet.

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops. 

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees. 

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?
We're branching out here this time, and going in the savory direction. I warned you this might happen, so don't go lose your head on me or anything. Now prepare yourselves for the craziness. Are you ready?
Bloody Mary. 
I know, I know, it's the obvious choice. But come one, how could I resist? Plus, the spiciness of the drink kind of goes with Pearl's feisty personality.
First off, you can obviously use any recipe you want. I like this one because it's vegan. Not that I've actually tried it yet, but I plan to do so in the near future.
Second, you can obviously make it without vodka and you just have some spicy tomato drink (this is my preference and should be of anyone who isn't legal age ;])
And last, if you really aren't a savory drink lover then I'd say a berry smoothie would go with the story as well (and if you add some cranberry juice it'll add that extra personality worthy of Pearl ;])
Vegan Bloody Mary (the title in the blog post isn't technically correct since what makes the drink a Caesar is the substitution of Clamato juice. Don't ask, I wrote a report once.)
Recipe from Oh She Glows

Source: same blog
4 cups (32 oz) vegetable juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-1.5 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2-2.5 tsp hot sauce, or to taste
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
3/4 tsp celery seed
Sprinkle of Herbamare or kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vodka, to taste (optional)
Kelp granules, to taste (optional)
1. In a large bowl or pitcher, add the vegetable juice. Now whisk in the rest of the ingredients all to taste.
2. Grab two 500-ml glasses and rim the edge with a lime wedge. Now dip glass rim into a shallow bowl of celery salt. Pour drink into glasses and garnish with a lime wedge, celery stalk, and ice. Serve immediately.

January 16, 2013

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: September 18, 2012
Source: Library (which is why I don't have a picture. I forgot and returne it)
Pages: 368
Series: Burn for Burn #1
Rating: Near Miss

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.
Kat is tired of the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person -- her ex-best friend -- and she's ready to make her pay.
Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.
Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.
I'm sad to say I'm a little disappointed after finihing urn for Burn. With all the hype surrounding the author collaboration I was figuring on something spectacular. I didn't particularly dislike it, and it was a quick read, but I didn't particularly like it either.

My first problem lies with the revenge itself. The first one exacting revenge didn't even really have a reason. She wanted to “protect her sister,” but I'm not entirely sure from what considering she was relying solely on second-hand information. Plus, the terrible thing that happened to her doesn't really have anything to do with what's going on with her sister.
The other girls' reasons had to do with bullying which is a little more understandable, but I still didn't really have much sympathy for them. Bullying is a terrible thing and difficult to go through, but I just couldn't get on board with the revenge. Normally I love a good revenge story, but you have to really mak me feel the rage and sympathy for it to work and Burn for Burn just didn't.

All that being said, I'll likely read the sequel. Both to see if it's better and simply because it was a really quick read. I'm hoping to see a little more substance and growth in round two (is it still going to be the same characters?) And I really need to know what is up with the paranormal stuff.

Speaking of which, I've seen a lot of people saying that the paranormal stuff was jarring and just tacked on at the end, but it really wasn't. It was there from the start and they weren't trying to hide it from the reader either. I'm a little confused as to how it kind of snuck up on so many people.
The Nutshell: If you're looking for something deep or emotional then Burn for Burn most likely isn't it. However, if you're just looking for a quick read and don't want to get too invested (like a palette cleanser or something) then it's worth picking up.

January 12, 2013

My Next 5

So the editing isn't the best, but it's a step in the right direction considering I didn't edit my other videos at all. Also, Sorry it's so long, but I did actually edit out 4 minutes :P
I have absolutely no idea why the audio and video aren't aligned right. I swear it was working last night in the program I had it in. Does anyone use a good video editing program I should know about?
Also Youtube took the liberty of cutting off my video early.
BUT, here's my face.

Books mentioned:
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arnston
Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum
The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

January 10, 2013

Splintered by A. G. Howard {Review} + Giveaway

Terrible picture, I know, but it was late and
the post needed to go up :P
Publisher: Amulet
Publish Date: January 1, 2013
Source: Publisher for honest review
Pages: 384
Series: No
Rating: Direct Hit
Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in an institution. Madness has run in her family ever since Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams.
But perhaps she's not mad. And perhaps Carroll's stories aren't as whimsical as the seem.
To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of the real Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas, a twisted fun-house reflection of Alice's childish tales. Alyssa brings her real-world crush -- the protective Jeb -- with her, but once her journey begins, she's torn between his solidity and the enchanting, dangerous magic of Morpheus, her guide to Wonderland. But no one in Wonderland is who they seem to be -- not even Alyssa herself...
Splintered is officially my new favorite Alice in Wonderland spinoff/retelling. I loved the Tim Burton/Disney rendition and the Syfy Alice special and Splintered is kind of like an awesome mish-mash of both. The bright colors and creepy setting of the Burton retelling combine with the awesome story and characters of Alice to create one amazingly fantastic book.

Though I compare Splintered to other renditions, it completely stands on its own. The story is totally new while still drawing similarities from the original and putting a creepy twist on them. There are certainly no fluffy pocket-watch carrying rabbits here. There are, however, boys. Yes, plural, but I think it works (then again, I'm not an adamant love triangle hater). I'm not one to think romance makes everything better, but it really adds to the story. I certainly wouldn't have cried had there been no romance...

Alyssa reflects Alice with her stubbornness and curiosity, but is definitely her own character. She takes the fate of her life in her hands and literally jumps down the rabbit hole headfirst. And when she's faced with a tough decision (be it who to trust, what to do when a walrus-octopus wants to eat you, or which guy to choose) she makes one. Of course, she's not always right, but we wouldn't want it that way, now would we?
Shall we talk about the boys?
First we have Jeb, the cute, scruffy skater guy who happens to be Alyssa's best friend. He's pretty overprotective, but he always has Alyssa's best interests at heart. Jeb is my favorite of the two, hands down with his sweetness towards Alyssa and their teasing banter.
Then we have our bad boy: Morpheus. He's dark, obsessive, and mischievous. Of course, he also has an irresistible and romantic side, but only for Alyssa. The tortured soul thing does something going on for it, though which made me almost sway towards Team Morpheus a few times.

Part of the ending felt a little rushed to me, but not all of it. More like the intro the climax and ending. That's really the only negative thing I have to say, though.
The Nutshell: If you're a fan of Alice in Wonderland retellings/spinoffs then I can almost guarantee you'll like Splintered. However, if you're not a fan of dark and creepy or simply refuse to read any love triangles at all it might not be the book for you. Splintered does a fantastic job of standing on its own and it kept me flipping pages as fast as I could right to the end.

And as a little added bonus I'm giving away my ARC :D
Must be 13 or older (or have parents permission)
US only (sorry, to all my international followers. I'll try to have another giveaway open to you guys soon :])

a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 9, 2013

Cover Lover {66}

Of course we all know you should never judge a book by its cover, but do we ever really listen to that?
Cover Lover showcases eye catching, intriguing, and beautiful covers.

This week's Cover Lover goes to Fuse by Julianna Baggott
Publish Date: February 19, 2013
I loved Pure's (first book in the series) cover, but I think I like this one even more. All the debris floating in the air is striking against the simple black backdrop. I love the simplicity of the wing against the black and the type on the cover frames it instead of overtaking it. What about you? Did you like Pure's cover better or is this one more your style?

January 7, 2013

The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse {Review}

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: July 10, 2012
Source: Library
Pages: 375
Series: The Forsaken #1
Rating: Hit
Alenna Shawcross hasn't seen her parents since they were dragged out of her house by government soldiers of the UNA, a new nation formed from the remnants of Canada, the USA, and Mexico. And now, as a sixteen-year-old orphan, she has failed a government personality test designed to diagnose subversive tendencies.
As punishment Alenna is banished to the wheel, a mysterious island where all the kids who fail get sent. A place where the conditions are cruel, and a civil war rages between two very different tribes of teenagers.
So when Alenna meets Liam, a charismatic warrior who is planning to escape she must find the strength to make a difficult decision: to either accept her new life on the wheel, or to embark on a journey that will uncover shocking secrets about the UNA -- and her own identity as well.

January 6, 2013

End of Year Book Survey 2012

This year I actually get to participate in Jaime's of Perpetual Page-Turner End off Year Survey and I'm super excited! I'm a bit late, but at least it's not too far into the new year yet. I don't want you to be here all day, though, so let's begin!
1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
Categories? Yes, let's.
Most Underrated: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Best Contemp: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Best Debut: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Best Sequel: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (and for the record, I've yet to read Insurgent)
Best My-Enjoyment-Really-Took-Me-By-Surprise: actually, it's a tie between Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood. I've never liked historical anything or fantasy so I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed both of these!
Best Published Pre-2012: Adult – Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion; YA – Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins; MG - ...I can't decide so here's my top 3: The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi, The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, and The Girl Who CircumnavigatedFairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Since Variant was one of my surprise favorites at the beginning of the year (I always get around to things way late :P) I was super excited for Feedback by Robison Wells, but I was really let down.
TheSpindlers by Lauren Oliver is another I can put under this category. I didn't hate it or anything, it just didn't quite wow me the way I thought it would.
Then there's Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne. I wasn't particularly looking forward to it until all the super reviews started coming out about it, but then it was just so...weird. Definitely not what I was expecting.
There's really quite a lot in this category, but I can't very well list them all.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012?
Off the top of my head, I'm going to go with Illuminate by Aimee Agresti. I hadn't even really been planning on reading it before a few good reviews popped up because it was paranormal, but I ended up really loving it. Definitely the best romance in a paranormal I've ever read.
Chained by Lynne Kelly is another one too. I never would have thought a book about a boy and his elephant could ever be so emotional and touching.

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
Probably the anything with Percy Jackson. I just love those books and they can reach such a wide audience. Plus, it's Percy, duh.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
HexHall by Rachel Hawkins and the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty . I'd never heard of JD before blogging so I'm really glad I was introduced to it. As for Hex Hall, I'd seen it around a few times, but the paranormal aspect threw me off. All the buzz of the third book's release finally convinced me to give it a try, though and I ended up loving it.

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
Now, there will be no throwing of rotten fruit because I already feel remorse...
John Green. And no, I did not start with TFioS. I want to read them chronologically, but I'm also buying them before I read them, so I've gotten through Looking for Alaska, An Abunndance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and Let It Snow (yes, I'm counting it.) I would have read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but to be honest, I haven't bought myself a book in AGES. (yes, it took me a few days to get this done :P)

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Never in a million years would I of picked this book up had I not been basically forced to.
Shortly before it came out, I got an email telling me I was chosen to be an Ambuzzador by Random Buzzers. I was jumping with excitement until I scrolled down and saw what it was for. Then, all I felt was dread. I DID NOT want to read this book (I've never been a fan of fantasy), but I also didn't want to let the program down since I was one of the chosen few.
So, it arrived and I shoved it on my TBR pile and tried to ignore the waves of guilt that flowed from it. I did a pretty good job for about 2 months, but then the program was coming to a close and I knew it was time.
And then I promptly fell in love. Well, it was a little slow going at first, but I was definitely in love by the end. I'm really glad this book was forced into my hands or I never would have read it and that would be a shame.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
I managed to narrow it down to three:
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis – This book was just so whack that I never knew what was going to come next and therefore HAD to know.
AMillion Suns by Beth Revis – The same can be said of AtU, but I actually stayed up until 6 in the morning finishing AMS, so...
Monument14 by Emmy Laybourne – This one had me on the edge of my seat nearly the entire way through. The tension was much higher than I'd anticipated.

 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Normally this wouldn't even happen because I've never reread before. But since I've made a resolution this year I'm hoping it'll stick :]
Lookingfor Alaska by John Green
I have a feeling this is a book that I'll see a different way every time I read it depending on what's going on with my life.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
Really, it's the whole package on this one. The art inside is great and the jacket is covered in little roaches (which yes, is also great if you were wondering.)

And as an honorable mention we have: the German Monstrumologist cover
The US covers are fine, there's noting wrong with them, but when I saw this cover on Goodreads I just kind of fell in love. Yes, I tend to like a lot of morbid or creepy covers :P

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 
Lola and Cricket. They're a package deal ;]

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (linked above already).
Honorable mentions include: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (also linked above), Lost Voices by Sarah Porter, and Tiger Lily (and linked above as well) by Jodi Lynn Anderson

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 
Looking for Alaska.
My grandma passed away shortly before I read this and it really had an impact on me. It helped me finally feel everything that had just been dammed up inside me. That's why I know the next time I read it I'll probably view it differently.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 
All the John Green books are the easy answer, so I'll go for the harder one.
Cheating a little more, I could say Fullmetal Alchemist and all manga in general. I'd always wrinkled my nose a little at anime and manga, but this year I discovered I had a secret passion for both :]
And now, for an actual book:The Search for WondLa (linked above)
I remember seeing this on the shelf at Walmart ages ago. I picked it up and thought it sounded good, wrote the name down, and promptly forgot about it. I rediscovered it at the end of 2011 and finally got my hands on it in the new year. Guy, this book. Is. Awesome.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 
"Which all goes to show tat it is hard to hide how you feel, when mirrors are out there everywhere, just waiting to pounce."
- Anne Nesbet, The Cabinet of Earths

 16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 
Longest (and also awesomest) The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan at 586 pages.
Shortest (discounting novellas) Bird by Rita Murphy at 160 pages.

 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!
Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne (linked above). If you wanted to put it mildly – I didn't see that coming. To be a little more specific – That. Ending. Was. Whack. If you've read it, you know what I mean.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Oooh. Tough one.
Tie between Finn and Cate of Born Wicked and Lola and Cricket.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Not counting sequels or companions (I'm looking at you, Lola) I'd say it's a tie between Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker and The Unwanteds (linked above) by Lisa McMann
Unbreak My Heart surprised me because it was so short. I didn't really expect so much emotion could be packed into such a small book. And The Unwanteds is still one of my favorite middle grades I've read to date.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
I never would have picked this one up because 1) it's humongous and 2) it seemed to fit all the typical paranormal cliches. When I said I was kind of thinking about it on Twitter a few people practically bullied me into picking it up :P I'm glad, though :]

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012? 
I did discover a lot of awesome blogs and same goes for the people who run them, but I'm going to have to go with Read. Write. Ramble. You can really see their personalities shine through in their reviews because they don't hold back. Lots of CAPS and exclamat!on points :P
Plus, Rachel is one of the best and most enthusiastic commenters on the entire planet. I can't even count how many times her comments have brightened my day and made me want to keep going when I was thinking about quitting.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 
It's a three-way tie between Lola, Nevermore, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated (All linked above at one point or another.) I feel like these are the reviews that have the most me in them. Sometimes I try to make my reviews serious ad professional, but I always end up liking the ones with more of my personality most.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I don't really do discussions on my blog since I've never come up with a worthwhile topic, but my favorite non-review post would probably be my Broke? Here's some tips for free books post.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
I can't really remember any in particular, but I like most every discussion type post Harmony does at Radiant Reads.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Well it wasn't really an event per say, but in December I got the chance to go to a dinner with some local bloggers and one awesome Harper rep. It was really fun and I felt honored to even be invited.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
Hrm. It doesn't feel like anything particularly spectacular happened this year, but I did reach my 1 year milestone back in June 2012, so that was big :]

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Going solely by page views and not counting giveaways, that would be my review for Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley. I find this rather odd and a little sad because it's not a great review by any standards and I didn't even really like the book.
Comments-wise, my most commented (at 20) is my Armchair BEA introduction post.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Considering how depressing it was to go back and see how few comments I've gotten over the past year, I'd love to say everything :P
If I was choosing I'd have to go with my Broke? post (linked above) and Have Your Cake and Read it Too posts because they're the ones I'm most proud of.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I don't know if this counts, but I'm going with it anyway:
Reading in the bath. See, I've always been terrified of dropping my books in the water and I don't really like just sitting there doing nothing, so baths hadn't been a thing since I grew out of them and into the shower. But guys, baths are great. You just sit in your scented bubble bath and read uninterrupted. It's good to get away from all the distractions and just have a book sometimes. And no, there have been no book casualties to date. I make damn sure of that :P

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I read well over the 125 book goal I'd set myself (ending number was 156 or something) and read a fair amount of books for each challenge I'd signed up for as well. I kept shelves on goodreads and tagged the reviews, but I don't have a comprehensive list. Maybe next year I'll be a little more organized :P
As for my blog itself, I'd say I did so-so. I posted much more in 2012 and had a fairly regular schedule for a while, but I didn't establish my blog and be a part of the community in the ways that I'd hoped. This year I resolve to give my blog a lot more breathing room so maybe there'll actually be some personality around here and help make it stand out.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
The Fault in Our Stars. There's a story here, I promise.
I've been wanting to read John's books chronologically since I found him in February 2012 (yes, I think I may, in fact, have been living under a rock). I'm a little particular about strange things, though, and this happens to be one of them. I wanted to own the books before I read them. So, I methodically worked my way through buying and reading LfA, Katherines, and Paper Towns (TfioS was actually the first one I purchased. Yes, I'm strange like that.) Then somewhere along the lines Life happened and I never really got the chance to buy myself new books again (I need them all in hardcover, you see) so Will and Will remained unbought and unread.
But that all changes today, my friends!
Literally, as of the day I'm writing this I'm a proud owner of Will and Will thanks to my awesome mother-in-law. We celebrated my husband's family Christmas today and I about jumped off the couch when I unwrapped Will. Now, I'll finally be able to call myself a true John Green fangirl ;]

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
There are tons of debuts and even more sequels I'm super excited for, but this honor goes to Michael Grant's Light, the last book in the Gone series. I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to see how this series ends!

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
I actually made an entire resolution post about this which you can read here, if you so wish :]

January 4, 2013

Pugsy says sorry (and so do I)

I bring you a cute pic of Pugsy as a peace offering
I know, I know. I've been saying I'm coming back since October, basically. This time I mean it, though, but things are going to be a little different around here. First, I just want to talk about some of the major stuff that's happened to me in the past year. And just to warn you, things are going to get a little personal, so if you want to skip over this post go right ahead :]

- I finally got a permanent doctor and medication regime to hep me with my depression.
- Around April I finally got my first job (yes, I'm a sad excuse for an adult) but it was only about 10 hours a week so I still had plenty of free time.
- Went to my first author events ever (Kimberly Derting and Gretchen McNeil/Daniel Marks.)
- Turned 20
- Chopped off the hair I'd been growing out for two years (and will probably go shorter again soon.)
- Had the biggest, longest blog funk ever.
- Turned this (#1) into this (#2)
- Discovered John and Hank Green (1 month after they were here on tour, sadly) You should watch the Vlogbrother videos if you don't know what I'm talking about.
- Hosted family Thanksgiving with both his and mine (and still managed to make way too much food.)
- Finally became a full-fledged Whovian. I mean, where was this show all my life?!
- Got a seasonal job at a theater chain which I'm currently finishing (no. Just no.) This is happening until the 24th and then I have ALA, so don't be surprised if it's still quieter than normal until February.
Portland sign.
- Celebrated our anniversary in Portland, OR.
- Celebrated 4 different Christmases (well, the 4th is tomorrow, but you know.) And in case you're wondering: my husband and I, my family, his parents, and his extended family.

So that was 2012.
Now it's time to move on to 2013.

Resolutions of sort both bookish and otherwise:

- Turn Have Your Cake and Read It Too into a bi-weekly feature since it's just a little too much for once a week. Maybe this way I can actually test the recipes out as well :] Also, I just want to give a big thank you to Rachel at Read.Write.Ramble who has enthusiastically commented on all of them and made me want to continue with it :]
- I don't do IMMs anymore because I know how jealous I get when I see other people's  so I don't want to do that to someone else. I'd still like to feature books in other ways than reviews, though.   So, I've decided to start making mini TBR vlogs. Probably monthly, but maybe bi-weekly. This will be a challenge since I don't plan my book schedule. I always just go to the shelf and pick whatever. I probably won't follow it to a T, but I'll try to keep close to it.
- I want to put a little more ME in my blog. Right now it feels like I'm just the faceless person who runs this blog and I want it to be more than that. I love the blogs and bloggers who tend to share more about their personal lives. It makes it easier to relate. And to show you I mean business, here's a picture of me showing off my love for Yoshi that I generally wouldn't show the public ;P (#3)
- I want to figure out how to make my pictures and such look prettier. I'm not a photographer nor do I aspire to be, but I would like them to look a little less bland. Are there programs that are free (or cheap) and easy to use? Leave me suggestions in the comments :]
It's really just better if you watch it :P
- And on that same note, I'd like to take a page out of VeganYANerds and PageTurner Jamie's books and start taking more of my own pictures, especially when it comes to book images (like the ones I put up with reviews)
- I'd like to start making more vlogs. I finally have a computer with a webcam, so it'll be easier. I think it'll help with making things more ME around here, but I think it might also help me come out of my safe little box some more as well.
Come on over, I promise we don't bite.
- Stop scheduling so much. Don't get me wrong, scheduling is definitely good, but I don't want to go about scheduling entire weeks of posts because I don't want to have a post every day anymore. I feel like when I try to fill all the days I just end up with loads of filler and boring stuff plus it stresses me out. For now, all that's concrete is three reviews a week and probably Cover Lovers and we'll see where it goes from there!
- Stop making everything a feature. Seriously, every time I get an idea I'm all "this could be a feature then my blog would be unique then everyone would love me!" or something like that. You know what happens after that? I get bored or discouraged and I end up only posting once or twice. This year I want to be a little more like Lisa is Busy Nerding and just post something if I find it interesting, no strings attached.
- Get a new design. I love the purple, green, and stars, but it's time for a new look. I want a really simple but pretty design so if you know anyone who does designs you should let me know about them in the comments. I was thinking Imagination Designs, but she's not taking any requests at the moment and I'm always open to suggestions :D
- Get into the community more. I've been in the blogging world for over a year and a half now and yet I still feel like an outsider. This year I want to do something about that starting with ALA at the end of the month. Also, use that Twitter thing I seem to have forgotten about. Any tips for a new ALA goer?
- Reread one book a month.

Isn't he the cutest?
-Become a better vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian for about 3 years now and I haven't cheated or anything like that, but I don't exactly eat good foods all the time. This year I actually want to make more meals that are good for me (that way I can still eat some of the junky stuff and not feel so bad ;P)
- Do yoga (grumble grumble). This is all the exercise you're going to get out of me. Yes, I walk most places in the city, but I know that doesn't entirely count. I kind of hate exercise, though, so yoga it is. Also, I'm pretty sure my husband will drag me to a class if he has to.
This is why even a book club is hard for me.
- Join a book club. Guys, I've been in Seattle a year now and I've met exactly two people that I've actually sen more than once. This has to change because it's really lonely to be in a big city and not have any friends.
-Get another dog or a cat. This probably seems like a no-brainer that doesn't need to be written down, but I've been meaning to for the past year. Granted, my apartment technically won't let me have another dog, but there might be a way around that. We'll see. And if a dog really isn't possible then I really need to just suck it up and pay the extraordinarily high cat deposit.
-Don't read (or do other things) just because I feel I have to. I spent a lot of last year going "I think I want to start this show or maybe that game" but then I'd always just think about the pile of books that need to be reviewed/returned to the library and do that or absolutely nothing instead.
I have this problem with one dog. Wonder what
another animal would mean...
- Get my poor doggy more exercise. Now, I may hate exercise, but she really needs it. Even if it's just a walk around the block once a day, that would be more than she's getting now.
-Take more pictures. I'm pretty sure my husband and I only have about 5 pictures from the past year and most were taken in December as a last ditch effort.
- Get. A. Job. Preferably, not one that I hate with a passion like my current job. Hopefully at a pet or bookstore.