Saturday, February 28, 2015

Giveaway | Godsend by Meredith Mawr

Hello Fantabulous Readers!

I have a very special giveaway for you guys today!

In celebration of the release of Godsend by Meredith Mawr, we will be giving away three prizes with three separate winners!

Here's what we're giving away:

1. $25 Amazon Giftcard and signed Paperback copies of both Godsend and Summon
2. $25 Amazon Giftcard and Digital copies of both Godsend and Summon
3. $25 Amazon Giftcard, Digital AND signed Paperback copies of both Godsend and Summon

All you have to do to enter is fill out the rafflecopter below! May the odds be ever in your favor.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stacking the Shelves | February 2015

Welcome to the very first (of hopefully many) Stacking the Shelves posts!

February wasn't as filled with book-related purchases as I'd hoped it to be...though my wallet seems to appreciate that. Nonetheless, I did add four books to my actual bookshelf and one ebook to my digital bookshelf.

Cress and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The two books I bought were Scarlet and Cress, books two and three of the Lunar Chronicles. I just finished these and, my god, am I impressed with these books. It's just a perfect blend of fantasy, dystopia, romance and general kick-assery!

Diamonds in the Rough by Michelle Madow

The next book I actually won in a giveaway by Michelle Madow! I read the Secret Diamond Sisters a couple months ago and, intrigued by the plot, had to know what happened next. I haven't read this book yet, but I can't wait to! 

Godsend by Meredith Mawr

The next book I received was one I actually betaed back in July: Godsend by Meredith Mawr, the second book in the Summoner Series. I got the opportunity to read the manuscript before publication and now having the published copy is an incredible experience. Not only that, but I'm quoted on the back cover which is pretty awesome! Check out the first book while you're at it: Summon

RED by S. Elle Cameron

The final book I received this month is RED by S. Elle Cameron, the sequel to A Tragic Heart. This was one of the books on my Most Anticipated Books of 2015 post, and when the author contacted me about reading it prior to the publication date, I was incredibly excited. I honestly could not put this book down. Despite the fact that I had exams the following week, I spent most of my weekend reading it, definitely worth it! If you need more convincing to pick up this series, check out my review for A Tragic Heart and RED

What books have you guys added to your bookshelves? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Disabling Booktuber Comments

Today's Tuesday Talks, a Goodreads group by Janelle and Janie centers on the comments section on YouTube, and whether YouTubers, specifically BookTubers, should disable their comments.

As some of you may know, I was a BookTuber for a short while, and never once did it cross my mind to disable my comments. In fact, comments made my day. I loved interacting with people and discussing different opinions on books.

The reason YouTube is so ubiquitous in our society is that it provides a different type of interaction between the audience and the "performer". It's more one on one, no studio audience, no script, just people in their bedrooms being themselves. The comment section is just an extension of this community, somewhere where we directly can give feedback and criticisms without corporate companies and commercial influences hindering us.

Yes, people can be mean. As humans we judge everything, from actors to YouTubers, and the platform shouldn't make a difference. Personally, I think if you've decided to put a video of yourself on the Internet, you should be aware that anyone is capable of saying anything and be fully aware of those consequences before posting a video.

Am I justifying these mean and degrading comments that people post? Absolutely not. But I am saying that it's all about perspective. Glean the good things out of the helpful comments and ignore the bad comments, there's no need to prevent everyone from giving feedback because a small amount of the population decided to be jerks.

What do you guys think? Should YouTube comments be disabled? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Popular | Maya Van Waganen

A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen 

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? 

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

I thought that the concept of this book was really interesting. I loved the innovative idea and the effort and bravery Maya took to conduct this experiment. As an eighth grader it can't have been easy talking to those at the "top of the food chain". Honestly, it couldn't have been easy taking the initiative to talk to other in general, I know, now, I still have trouble initiating conversation. 

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I'm not typically a nonfiction person. I've lived inside my YA bubble for quite a while and as people have been recommending this book I decided to give it a read and I was honestly blown away by the writing style. The way people, places and events were described was done so well and I just didn't want this book to end. 

This book is heart-warming, inspiring and something everyone should read, it's one of those books that everyone can relate to at some point in their lives. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

RED | S. Elle Cameron

Sixteen year old, Peyton is all grown up and lives without the guidance of her mother or father. Raised by her older cousin, Mason and his wife Adalyn, she lives life making the same reckless mistakes her parents once made; left with only hallow words penned in her mother’s journal and vaulted music from her father’s band. But sometimes mistakes are necessary to grow even when they mean life as you know it will completely fall apart.

After constantly getting involved with the wrong guys and making questionable decisions, things start to look up for Peyton when she’s introduced to Ronan, a newcomer from New York. Nevertheless, when things start to look up we should be ready to shift our eyes downward because a fall is sure to come.

As Peyton makes a mess of her life in Arizona, she relocates to Los Angeles to live with her famous Uncle Jackson where she meets her musical muse, Alex Kinsley. But does a change of scenery really change who we are?

In the second installment of the RED Tragedies series, RED picks up where A Tragic Heart left off.

Review of A Tragic Heart

As the first book I read from my Anticipated Releases post back in 2014, this one did not disappoint. In fact, it's almost 600 pages and I finished it in a little over two days. That being said, it wasn't perfect. In fact, the characters were, more times than not, frustrating and bipolar. They did and said the wrong thing at the wrong time which, of course, ended up in a whole lot of trouble. But that's what humans do, isn't it? They break things again and again until they're irreparable. 

Like A Tragic Heart, RED is intense, though, I will admit, it lost its element of surprise from the first book. Cameron does a fantastic job of making the reader feel as though they're right there, witnessing Peyton's actions, however reckless they were. And the character development in this book was absolutely phenomenal. Watching each of the characters struggle through the aftereffects of A Tragic Heart, particularly Mason and Jackson, was an incredible journey, and I honestly can't wait for the next two books. 

While the writing and events of this book were especially well done, this book did make me very angry. There are moments when I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into Peyton, tell her to wake up from the fantastical life she thinks she's living. And a lot of this feeling had to do with the fact that, personality-wise, I couldn't connect with Peyton at all. I couldn't wrap my head around her rash, intense behavior because I could never picture myself in her situation. But nonetheless, I could still appreciate her personality and development as a character. 

Overall, this was a captivating read and I do recommend this book/series, more for an older audience, as it does contain some racy and controversial behavior. But it's the perfect passion-filled book to spice up a bland and boring day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Dating Non-Readers

Today's post centers around dating non-readers, people who don't enjoy the same hobby we love. While I understand those who are unable to date others who don't share the same interests, I don't think that it would bother me so much if my significant other didn't enjoy the literary world as much as I did. Typically, I don't broadcast the fact that I'm a "reader" so much to people when I meet them (unless of course I'm at a book-related event), more times than not I've been made fun of for reading and I like staying away from those reactions. However, when I do date someone, they typically know me well enough to know my love for reading and as long as they don't directly hinder my reading and my blog, I don't particularly care.

They have to accept the fact that I love to read, even if they don't appreciate the same activity. I don't want to hear comments like "Ugh when are you going to start reading real books" or "Are you still reading dumb fiction." All it does is make me want to burrow more into my world of books. It doesn't do anything for him, and it especially doesn't entice me to put down my book to hang out with him.

Honestly, the only thing someone needs in order to understand my love for books is some sort of passion. Whether it be photography, beading, drawing, etc. if you can love something for the sake of nothing else but doing it, you can understand my passion. In fact, just the other day I was talking to a guy who does competitive ballroom dancing. Let me give you a little background, I am in no way a dancer, in fact I can barely walk straight, but he talked about dancing like I talk about reading, and I immediately understood how he felt. He ended his anecdote with "Well that's my world, how about you?" And instantly I just talked about literature and my blog, something I don't typically disclose to people moments after meeting them.

I know I went a bit tangent from my original point, but essentially I don't mind dating someone who doesn't like reading as long as they can understand my passion for it without insulting it, though of course if they did like reading it would just be a plus on their side.

What about you guys? Would you date a non-reader? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Half-Girlfriend | Chetan Bhagat

Once upon a time, there was a Bihari boy called Madhav. He fell in love with a rich girl from Delhi called Riya. Madhav didnt speak English well. Riya did. Madhav wanted a relationship. Riya didn't. Riya just wanted friendship. Madhav didn't. Riya suggested a compromise. She agreed to be his half-girlfriend.

From the author of the blockbuster novels Five Point Someone, One Night at the Call Center, The 3 Mistakes of My Life, 2 States and Revolution 2020 comes a simple and beautiful love story that will touch your heart and inspire you to chase your dreams.

I had pretty high expectations for this book. Everyone in India praises Chetan Bhagat as a writer since he's sold thousands of successfully books which have also been made into movies, however, based on this book, I don't understand the obsession. I'm in no way attacking Chetan Bhagat or his career, I'm simply calling into question the popularity of this particular book.

Personally, I found it cliched and poorly written and I really wouldn't recommend it, however I do plan to give Chetan Bhagat a second chance by reading another one of his books.

There are several reasons I disliked this book, and in order to discuss these I'm going spoil different parts of the books, so if you want to read this book and haven't, I don't recommend continuing this review. I also don't recommend continuing this review if you really liked this book, since there are many rants ahead. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Afterworlds | Scott Westerfeld

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… 

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

I thought the concept was quite genius. I hadn't read anything like it and I thought it was really ingenious. The writing styles for the two different sections were slightly different which made it easy to distinguish between the two. 

Though I will admit, the fact that an eighteen year old high school graduate got a three hundred thousand dollar publishing contract is a bit unrealistic. Darcy is fairly irresponsible with her money, and I didn't fall in love with her character, or her relationship with Imogen, but I really enjoyed seeing a bit of the backstage life of a writer. 

The first chapter of Darcy's book was fairly hooking, though I will admit I began to lose interest near the end. I never really liked Lizzie's relationship with Yama, a lot of which had to do with Yama's name.

The biggest thing this book did for me was ensure that I will be attending BEA this year. The descriptions of all the free books and authors have made me so excited. I need to go. I'm hungry for books. 

(A very accurate representation of me)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Over Hyped Books

I've decided to join the group Tuesday Talks on Goodreads and today's discussion topic is Overhyped books.

There are a lot of overhyped books floating around in the YA bookosphere and odds are you've heard of them (TFIOS, Percy Jackson, Twilight, The Hunger Games, the list goes on and on). But frequently these books aren't as great as their hype builds up, which is the cause of much disappointed.

I, personally, steer clear from any major opinions. I just want to know whether it was "good" or "bad" before reading it, and even that is sometimes too much. Before going into a book, if I expect greatness, then I typically am let down, but the vice versa stands true as well. Since I spend so much of my time reading ARCs and lesser-known books, I frequently get behind on the "latest" teen reads. Usually I just read them, regardless of their hype, just so I can be in the loop and stay part of all the discussions and fangirling.

My general thinking goes "if a book is popular, then there must be a reason why"(though I'm still figuring out Twilight's answer), so I am definitely not someone to turn down a book simply because it is "overhyped" and honestly it bugs me when people do. The philosophy "I'm not going to read this because it's popular" bothers me because not only are they missing out on a good book, but, by automatically judging the book as a "bad" one, they're subconsciously persuading other people to do the same.

While overhypedness does have its negatives, there are some positives. Of course, hyping a book boosts its success. The more people that know about it, the more people that read it, the more people that buy it, thus the more money the author gets.

Though overhyping creates ridiculously high expectations, there's a lot of books I wouldn't even know had it not been for the hype. Like most things it has its good and bads.

Let me know what you guys think in the comments below! Do you frequently read overhyped books? Or do you try and stay away from them?

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer | Laxmi Hariharan

A YA thriller, with strong dystopian undertones and a kickass protagonist, taking you on a white knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay City. 

A girl desperate to rescue her best friend.

A cop willing to do anything to save the city he serves. 

A delusional doctor bent on annihilation. 

When Ruby Iyer's best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Kamini Braganza, she will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the reticent Vikram Roy, a mysterious cop-turned-rogue on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza's teen army. As Bombay falls apart around them, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram?

While the plot itself was fascinating, I couldn't find myself getting into the book all that much. There are several reasons why and I'll get into each of them. 

1. Writing Style 
Personally I like dialogue over detail. I like things happening and people talking over the detail of a setting, and personally I thought there was too much detail and too many analogies for my taste. Several sentences at a time would be dedicated to setting up the scene, which isn't necessarily bad, but to me it felt like too much. I would frequently skim these long paragraphs of description and ended up missing crucial information to further the plot. I wish more of the substance was focused on the characters and their relationships, which brings me to my next issue.

2. Characters/ Relationships
I didn't feel any type of connection with the characters. I was super excited when Vikram and Ruby's romance started, but the way it played out wasn't how I was expecting it to be, and I didn't exactly love the way it played out. The relationship between Panky and Ruby was mediocre. Though I did feel their relationship was strong, it didn't strike any emotional chord in my body. 

Like I said, I think the plot was fairly intriguing, I especially loved the bomb/terrorist scenes, but the plot alone wasn't enough to get me completely hooked. Another thing I liked about this book was the frequent plot twists near the end. I thought those were well done and did a good job of wrapping up the whole book, making connections to the events and thoughts from the beginning.

Overall, I wish I liked this book more but if you are someone who is extremely visual, this book does a really good job with providing a large amount of sensory information about the setting. The plot was interesting and action-packed so if you're someone who enjoys a good thriller, you should definitely think about picking up this book.