Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Regency era demon hunter? Sign me up! 

Release Date: January 26, 2016

New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

What are you waiting for this week?  

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ten Books to Read If You Liked Snow Like Ashes!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Here are my Top Ten Books to read if you like... 

(If you haven't read it yet, go start it right now!) 

What is on your list this week? 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The TBR Book Tag!

I was nominated by Functioning Insanity Reviews

How do you keep track of your TBR pile? 
This has changed throughout the years. I normally do a mixture of everything I have ever tried now (but hopefully I do it better!) 

I keep a list of all books I have requested because I love being able to physically mark the books off when they have been read, and because it is nice to visually see every book that I need to read. 

I also keep the dates of all of my requested books in a certain blank month view section of my planner. I list every book that needs to be reviewed that month in the "To Do" section and cross them off as I go. The ones that are left over get carried over to the next month's list. 

For books that I bought myself, those are pretty much always in an eternal "TBR" pile that may one day be touched... 

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?
Mostly E-book. I used to say that I preferred physical books and I do think that is true to a degree... but I prefer to look at them on the shelf as a physical copy. As far as the act of reading goes I feel like reading on my Kindle is faster, it is easier (I don't have to hold a BOOK!), it has almost all of my review books already on it, and there is always a light. 

It's kind of a no brainer. 

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
I read based on which book is coming out next. 

There are exceptions, sometimes I really don't feel like reading my third contemporary in a row, but normally I can stick to the general list pretty well and go based on date of release. 

I'm not exactly a mood reader, but I'm often battling between fantasy, contemporary, and historical fiction. Those genres are my favorite and normally my mood fits in with one of them more than the others. So, really it all just depends. 

A book that's been on your TBR list the longest?
Ha. As if I even know the answer to that question. 
When I started reviewing seven years ago I became obsessed with owning the books that everyone talked about. Now I have seven years worth of books that were all the rage and I don't even know where to begin. 

Recent books that I have bought though are The Winners Curse, Legend, The Red Queen, Scarlett, etc... 

A book on your TBR strictly because of the beautiful cover?
I really love the Splintered by A.G. Howard cover. It was striking and it made me look at the synopsis which sounded amazing! So, not purely the cover... but it was a large part of putting it on my radar. 

A book you recently added to your TBR?
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir -- Apparently it is amazing. I bought it recently and must read it... someday. 

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?
Anything that I bought in 2010. My reading tastes then were all over the place and if it sounded objectively interesting I was all over it. Now, I realize that I was setting myself up for failure with my choices. 

One day I will go through my bookshelves and make amends. One. Day. 

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?
The Red Queen. It seemed like for a good three months I couldn't go to any page without seeing it somewhere. I think it even invaded my personal Facebook with ads at one point. 

A book on your TBR that you're dying to read?
Red Queen, Ice Like Fire, The White Rose, Blackhearts, The Royal We, etc...

There are so many! 

An unpublished book on your TBR that you're excited for?
Ice Like Fire, The White Rose, Blackhearts, Newt's Emerald, DaVinci's Tiger, etc... 

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

An Ember in the Ashes and Throne of Glass. I need to get on those ASAP!  

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

I only sporadically put everything on Goodreads, so don't take it as a true estimate... but it is currently at 164. There are probably even more than that though which is truly sad. 

My Nominations:

The Book Vortex! Pure Imagination! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week's pick is a ways a way... but just look at that cover! 

This one sounds so good! 

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Nicholas Sparks fans will devour this heartfelt romance by an exciting debut author.

Middie Daniels calls it the Leaving Season: the time of year when everyone graduates high school, packs up their brand-new suitcases, and leaves home for the first time. 

This year Middie’s boyfriend, Nate, is the one leaving. Nate, who’s so perfect that she can barely believe it. Nate, who makes her better than she is on her own. Nate, who’s promised to come back once he’s finished his gap year volunteering in Central America. And when he does, it’ll be time for Middie to leave, too. With him.

But when tragedy strikes, Middie’s whole world is set spinning. No one seems to understand just how lost she is…except for Nate’s slacker best friend, Lee. Middie and Lee have never gotten along. But with the ground ripped out from under her, Middie is finding that up is down—and that Lee Ryan might be just what she needs to help her find her footing once more.

Cat Jordan’s heartbreaking story proves that no matter the season, no matter the obstacles, love can help you find yourself in the most unexpected of places.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish! 

I will read these... eventually! I need to understand what everyone is talking about. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy [Book Review]

Title: Dumplin' 
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: From publisher for honest review. 
Release Date: September 15, 2015

From the author of Side Effects May Vary comes what is guaranteed to be one of your favorite novels of the year—about an unforgettable heroine called Willowdean Dickson who decides to take on her small town’s beauty pageant.

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed "Dumplin'" by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked...until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroineDumplin' is guaranteed to steal your heart.

I read this book in about five hours. While in a car today to and from Dollywood today I was obsessed with Willowdean's story... and then I planted myself on my couch and continued reading until it was complete. Little did I know this morning that this book was the perfect book to ready while surrounded by Dolly everything today!

I was so overcome with Willowdean and her story.  I needed to know more... and I still can't pin point exactly what it was. I laughed with her, I teared up at her struggles and I found myself rejoicing whenever hope was found.

We begin the story with our heroine, Willowdean Dickson who is a self proclaimed "fat-girl" and a bit confused with some aspects of her life. She is normal. Average. She works at a fast food restaurant and has a best friend who seems to have everything, but loves her just the same. Her story is so relatable that her story and my own story overlapped in many ways which led to this strange kinsman-ship that happened through the page. She was very likeable... if a bit stubborn and hard on herself.

To get this out of the way, I loved Bo. Bo was a great character and to me, he felt real. No, he wasn't perfect... but he tried.

There was a bit of a love triangle in this one, but given the subject matter I think it made sense to Willow's character.

I loved the focus on Dolly Parton in this novel. As a Southern girl, Dolly is an icon.. particularly in my part of the country. I was raised a hop and a skip away from Dolly's home town where streets are named after her and she isn't a celebrity... she's a legend. It was nice to see the love of Dolly in this novel portrayed as something different, and as something that lifts them up.

While reading, Willow's voice is so real that her choices make sense, and her struggles feel like the issues your own best friend would have and tell you about on any given night during high school.

Her voice is so real because her emotions are ones we all have felt. We have all felt as if we weren't good enough, and we have all struggles with aspects of our body. Society has formed us to believe that a certain picture and idea of beauty is what we should listen to... but this book turns that around and screams for recognition of a different kind of beauty; the beauty found within yourself.

Overall: Please read Dumplin'. It is so, so great and I will be screaming its praises for years to come. If you have ever felt as if you don't fit in, or struggled with any aspect of yourself... this book is for you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Conversation with Cindy Dees!

Hello! This is the week of the interviews! 

I am very happy to have Cindy Dees with me to talk about her upcoming book, The Sleeping King and her writing process! 

Release Date: September 8, 2015 

Out Now! 

-What are your perfect writing conditions?

What a great question! For me, it would be curled up in a big chair by a fire while it rains or snows outside with a cup of hot chocolate at my elbow and laptop computer in my lap. Just thinking about that makes me want to go write!
            Of course, the reality is more often sitting on hard bleachers at my daughter’s gym with a couple of screaming two-year olds using me for a jungle gym while I dodge them and try to type…and not a drop of hot chocolate in sight.

-What made you want to write a fantasy?

            The Dragon Crest world itself and the brilliant, funny, heroic characters who play in it made me want to write about them. And the only logical way to write about them was to do so in their own medium—epic fantasy. My husband and I have played in the world Bill created for twenty years, and for about nineteen of those, I’ve been secretly plotting books set in this remarkable imaginary universe of Bill’s.
            Dragon Crest is a live-action fantasy game, which means people dress up and go out in the woods and act out the story (as opposed to sitting at someone’s kitchen table eating pizza and describing what their character is doing).
Because of its live nature, people can artificially be put into dastardly moral dilemmas and difficult, stressful situations. It’s endlessly fascinating to me to watch the unexpected things people do in these extreme circumstances. Honestly, as a writer I couldn’t ask for a better research source on human nature at its very best and most unexpected.

- What is one of your most embarrassing moments? 

So, let’s talk about how I met Bill Flippin. He played a knight in a big, live-action roleplaying game, and that day, for the first time, I was playing a live fantasy game. We’re talking my very first day.
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a professional belly dancer. And I’d been invited to dance at a large feast that was being thrown at the live fantasy game in question. The music started, I took off dancing, and everyone in the room started yelling at me to dance for the shy knight at the head table. Knowing no better, I obliged.
I still look back on that moment with a certain horror. What an awful way to meet one’s future writing partner!
As an aside, I also happen to know this was one of Bill’s most embarrassing moments ever, too. I’m fairly certain no man in history has ever blushed any harder. He’s going to kill me for mentioning that, by the way.

- How do you deal with writer’s block?

            In my experience, writers come up with words from a combination of two sources: creative inspiration and planned, pre-plotted ideas. When I hear writers talk about being blocked, my first question for them is which source of their writing has run dry?
            If your creative well has gone dry, doing things to refill it is required. For most writers that involves reading, traveling, listening to music, spending time with friends, learning a new hobby, doing crafts, exercising, taking a class, losing themselves down the Internet research rabbit hole…I could go on, but you get the idea.
            If it’s the plotting, the outlining, the “what comes next” that has failed a writer, then I suggest a brainstorming session with fellow writers or smart non-writing friends, or reading an excellent how-to book on writing. In this situation, it can be just as important to find the right question to ask about the story as it is to find the answer.
            Often, “I can’t write” is actually, “I don’t wanna write.” I can’t help with that. Discipline is a key ingredient for all writers. No book gets done without a whole lot of it. I actually have a plaque sitting on my desk that says, Discipline is more important than talent.
            If all else fails, I recommend cheap wine, expensive chocolate, and a few of your closest friends who are guaranteed to make you laugh until you snort bubbles out your nose.

- When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In all seriousness, I was NEVER going to become a writer. I was a pilot in the Air Force and a part-time spy, and I fully intended to continue to operate in those fields. Writing wasn’t even on my long-range radar, let alone an actual goal.
Then I read a terrible spy novel on an airplane while flying home on leave to visit my parents. I got off the plane, handed it to my mother, and declared, “Even I could write something better than that!” To which my mom responded by betting me a dollar that I couldn’t.
Now I’m not saying I’m competitive or anything, but based solely on that bet I went home, bought a computer, learned how to use it, sat down, and wrote my first book. (It was actually my 9th published novel, titled KILLER INSTINCT.) And that was it. I was hooked on writing.

- What differs from writing thrillers and fantasy? Any challenges you didn’t expect? 

Wow. Another fantastic question. The obvious difference is the extensive world-building that goes into writing a fantasy novel. Thankfully, I have Bill as a writing partner and he’s a god at it. Ultimately though, I’m finding that good writing is pretty much the same no matter what genre a book falls into—likable characters, interesting plots, exciting action, emotion—they translate to any story.
            That said, I blow up more stuff in my thrillers.
            The one thing that really took me by surprise was just how huge an epic fantasy book is. It’s so much to keep straight that I’ve had to sacrifice an entire wall in my office to index cards thumb-tacked to it to keep all the plotlines straight and leave no loose ends hanging.

- When co-writing a book, what does that writing process look like? 

I fly to Boston and sit at Bill’s kitchen table for about three days non-stop. We brainstorm and plot intensively, and I take dozens of pages of notes. Then I comb through all the notes and create a list of possible scenes. We go through that and add the scenes we need to make the story flow.
            Then I start typing. Oh, and I ask a lot of annoying detail questions along the way that Bill is very patient about working through with me. When I’m done with the first draft, I take a deep breath and hand it over to Bill. Let the record show he’s one of the toughest editors I’ve ever worked with. But that’s exactly what the book needs to whip it into the best possible shape. Then we both take a deep breath and hand it over to our amazing editor, Claire Eddy, at Tor.
            Last, but not least, we rinse, lather and repeat on the next book in the series.

- If you could describe The Sleeping King in one word, what would it be? 

Epic is too obvious, isn’t it? How about sweeping? Or maybe extravagant.

-What is your advice for aspiring writers? 

ABC. Apply Butt to Chair. No book gets written without actually putting in the time and doing the work. You can revise, edit, tweak, and polish any piece of writing, no matter how bad it starts out. But you cannot do anything to an empty page. This gig is a marathon, not a sprint. Heck, it’s an ironman triathlon. If you want to be a writer…then write! And keep on writing.

Thanks so much to Cindy for being here with us today! Be sure to get your hands on The Sleeping King! It is sure to be epic. :) 

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Conversation With Annie Noblin!

Today I am very pleased to welcome author of the recent release Sit! Stay! Speak! - Annie Noblin!

I am reading Sit! Stay! Speak! and it is fantastic so far, Annie was kind enough to treat us to a look behind the story, and behind her writing life!

1.) Where did the idea for SIT! STAY! SPEAK! come from? 
A) I lived in the Arkansas Delta for a year while teaching developmental English for the University of Arkansas. I loved living in the Delta, and was inspired by the people I met and the places I visited.

2.) How did you get started working with rescue organizations? What part of it have you found most rewarding?
A) I bought a dog in 2006. It turned out that I bought a dog with many chronic illnesses, and through research I discovered the world of animal rescue and the reality of many breeding operations across the country. Although my dog didn’t come from a bad breeder, many dogs do. I live in Missouri—the puppy mill capitol of the United States, and there are always dogs needing help. I think the most rewarding part of animal rescue work is seeing a dog you rescued from an awful living situation begin to thrive in their new home. There is nothing in this world like the love of a rescued animal.

3.) We all know having a pup can be a struggle; do you have any dog tales that still makes you laugh?
A) When I was in graduate school, my Boston Terrier puppy ate the flash drive with my master’s thesis on it. She also ate a Lazy Boy couch. At the time I didn’t find it amusing, but now I can look back and laugh. She’s much calmer now that she is almost 10 years old.

4.) What does a typical writing day look like to you?
A) I still work full-time, and I have a four year old son. I also have three dogs and two cats (plus a husband) to take care of. My days are pure insanity until I get my son to bed about 8 o’clock at night. After he’s in bed, then I can settle myself onto the couch, pour a glass of wine, and try to get a bit of writing done. I also sneak writing in whenever I have a break at work or a second or two to gather my thoughts.

5.) How long did it take you to write SIT! STAY! SPEAK!? 
A) I wrote the first draft in about six months. Then it took another year to get it shaped up into the book that people will be reading. I do my best work under pressure, which means I’m very deadline driven. Give me a deadline, and I’ll make it happen!

6.) How do you deal with writer’s block? 
A) I eat. I nap. I read a book. I play with my son. I try to keep myself busy enough that I’m dying to come back to that laptop or notebook. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. ;-)

7.) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
            Never. Give. Up.
I mean it. I don’t care how many times you’re rejected. I don’t care how many people tell you that you won’t make it. I don’t care how long it takes to get that novel (or work in progress) written. If you don’t sell the first book, write another one. If you don’t sell the second, well, get started on the third. The only possible way for you to be a failure as a writer is if you stop writing. As long as you’re putting the words inside of your head on paper, then you are a writer. And don’t let anybody tell you differently.

Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and four rescued bulldogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in Creative Writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English full-time for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, AR. Her first novel, STAY, was inspired by the year she spent teaching developmental English in the Delta of Arkansas, a place she says still has her heart. Her poetry has been featured within publications such as the Red Booth Review and the Moon City Review, and in 2006, she co-edited and co-authored a coffee table book entitled, Gillioz: Theatre Beautiful. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week has been so busy already and there was a holiday! I can't get over how exhausted I already feel. 

The Decatur Book Festival was fantastic! More on that later. 

For now, here is what I am looking forward to this week. 

Release Date: April 12, 2015

A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and ever herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

What are you guys wanting this week?  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stacking the Shelves!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews! 

So... I am currently in the Atlanta area preparing for some Decatur Book Festival fun tomorrow! 
(Did I mention that I will get to MEET Sarah Dessen tomorrow?) 

So, to celebrate me fan girling out, here are the fabulous books I received this week. 

For Review: 

From Edelweiss: 
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallari
The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan 
The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Physical Copy (unsolicited) 
Lone Star by Paulina Simons


We've discussed my obsession with dog books recently, right? I started this one and I legitly started to bawl my eyes out. So. Many. Feels. 

Also, there was a Charles Bukowski daily sale on Kindle... and I can't not. I love Charles Bukowski's poetry and have been wanting to read his fiction since discovering him. It is particularly good when you can do this on the cheap. 

What did you guys get this week? 

I will try to keep you all up to date with my adventures tomorrow! I will post my pics to Twitter and Instagram so follow it up if you haven't already! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

DNF Reviews: Some You Win, Some You Lose

This is a post I always hate to do. I try to get through every book that comes my way... but unfortunately I can't like everything. 

This post is for books that I just didn't click with. 

Here I will explain why it didn't work for me, but also why it may still work for you. 

Most Likely to Suceed

I think this DNF may be due to the fact that I have not read any other Superlative novel prior to this one. I see so many reviews raving about Sawyer and flailing with excitement about his story... but to me I was totally lost. For me it seemed like the events came out of nowhere, and I was completely taken by surprise when on page five we are already having cupids arrow flying through the air with... feelings. Seriously, there were a lot of feelings and to me they felt very premature.

Most likely because I did not already know these characters... but for those who have, this was probably wonderful.

Maybe one day I will be able to pick this one back up and finish it, but currently I think I will have to move on. 

Until Friday Night

This was a book I was so excited about! We all know that I love the South, football, and love stories. Clearly, this book was supposed to be my book. It screamed, "Christina will like this!" Unfortunately, I just couldn't do it. 

It wasn't the writing, the setting, or anything of that nature. What really made this book not work for me was the use of language towards women... which is a problem I can normally ignore. I get that we live in a patriarchal society and that characters will often times reflect that, but in this case it felt like sexual harassment was actually happening. 

Practically all the guys in this book (from what I saw) used derogatory language towards the women that reflected how sexually appealing they were. This for me was a huge turn off. I feel like I knew guys like this in my small football town growing up... so perhaps that is also one reason why it was particularly hard for me to take. 

There was also quite a bit of telling and little showing that bothered me. There was a ton of internal issues that seemed to repeat themselves over and over and over... I get that people deal with pain in different ways, but is being a sexist pig really one of them? And should that be okay if it is? 

Both of these characters had a ton going on, and it felt like a blast of emotional explosions whenever they began to think. 

That on top of all of the "she's hot as hell, looks like she needs me" comments and I just could not do it. 
You may like this one if you're really into books involving emotional struggle. If you don't mind that some of the language is derogatory then I think you should definitely give it a go! It definitely has potential, I'm just particularly sensitive to statements that make me feel uneasy. 

Now, if this language gets better later on, and the men learn the error of their ways I will revisit this one... so let me know if you've read it and it becomes worth it in the end! 
Let me know if you guys have read either of these books and loved them! I am always willing for people to change my mind! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This one sounds like an awesome girl Doctor Whoish tale. I can't wait! TIME TRAVEL! 

Release Date: February 16, 2016

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.
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