15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (5)

Day 5: Recommend a tear jerker

I'm notorious for never crying at books, so I really can't recommend any! Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan had some parts that really hit me and were hard to read, but it also had a lot of comical parts so I can't really say that it was a "tear jerker." 


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (4)

Day 4: What's the last book you flung across the room?

Probably In Honor by Jessi Kirbi. It just didn't click with me, and I really wasn't enjoying it by the end. I finished it solely because I was already halfway through when I realized that I wasn't enjoying it... It wasn't a very pleasurable experience, unfortunately. 


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (3)

Day 3: Who are your blogging BFFS?

I'm sorry to say that I don't have any! I'm not very good at networking, and I have too many troubles with being consistent on this blog. Maybe a blogging buddy would help with that, but who knows?


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (2)

Day 2: What's Your Bedtime Reading Ritual?

Step 1: Climb into bed. 
Step 2: Tell myself that I'm going to read before bed. 
Step 3: End up getting too sleepy/ comfy to read. 
Step 4: Fall asleep with my lights on. 
Step 5: Wake up the next morning having not read. 
Step 6: Repeat.


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (Day 1)

Good Books and Good Wine is hosting a book blogger challenge over at her blog to help get things moving with her posts, and I figure that it will do the same for mine! Challenges like this combine two of my favorite things: talking about books and talking about me reading books, so let's get started!

Day 1: Make 15 book related confessions

1) I'm really distressed that I've found so few fantasy/ sci-fi YA books with non-straight/ gender non-conforming main characters (recommend some in the comments!)

2) I've been trying to read more non-fiction about Christianity in the United States (Check out my review of The Unlikely Disciple!) because I find it so fascinating.

3) I wish that more authors valued the friendship between men and women as they did the potential for romance. Not everything has to end in a kiss.

4) I've been seriously considering getting an Artemis Fowl tattoo for over a year now (a small acorn, on the back of my neck.)

5) I'm a Darwinist (Leviathan series, by Scott Westerfeld)

6) I read The Hobbit because I loved the line "You'll have a tale or two to tell when you come back," from the movie trailer. It isn't in the book.

7) I've never read a Harry Potter book. I started the first one a few weeks ago when babysitting and hope to finish it this summer.

8) My favorite book in first grade was Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne. I still have my copy.

9) I think that there's a serious problem with the glorification of abusive relationships in young adult fiction today.

10) I've only read one Sherlock Holmes story, the first, and don't really like him in general

11) The last book that I purchased was the second volume of Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. It's one of only a very, very small handful of books that I'll purchase this year

12) My library card was registered on July 7, 1999. I was five and a half years old.

13) I have over 31 items out of various libraries now, all books (and one magazine) piled in a crate next to my bed.

14) My greatest book "success" is the Skulduggery Pleasant series. Someone mentioned it on the Figment boards and I added it to my Goodreads list. A month or so later I looked up some YA books to listen to while I worked and it was one of four random ones that popped up. I downloaded it and two days later it was one of the best books I've read/ listened to. I spent the next four months reading all six that were out at the time, buying them from Europe because they never caught on in the United States.

15) I had to read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad last semester and wrote a paper about how I believe that the jungle itself is sentient and should be regarded as a character.

And... that's all I've got! Hopefully you guys learned some new things about me with this list and you'll keep learning more about me as this challenge goes on!


Review: The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose

Title: The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester At America's Holiest University
Author: Kevin Roose
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 26, 2009
Page #: 324
ISBN: 044617842X

Goodreads + Author's Website

Goodreads Summary
As a sophomore at Brown University, Kevin Roose didn't have much contact with the Religious Right. Raised in a secular home by staunchly liberal parents, he fit right in with Brown's sweatshop-protesting, fair-trade coffee-drinking, God-ambivalent student body. So when he had a chance encounter with a group of students from Liberty University, a conservative Baptist university in Lynchburg, Virginia, he found himself staring across a massive culture gap. But rather than brush the Liberty students off, Roose decided to do something much bolder: he became one of them.
Liberty University is the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's proudest accomplishment - a 10,000-student conservative Christian training ground. At Liberty, students (who call themselves "Champions for Christ") take classes like Introduction to Youth Ministry and Evangelism 101. They hear from guest speakers like Mike Huckabee and Karl Rove, they pray before every class, and they follow a 46-page code of conduct called "The Liberty Way" that prohibits drinking, smoking, R-rated movies, contact with the opposite sex, and witchcraft. Armed with an open mind and a reporter's notebook, Roose dives into life at Bible Boot Camp with the goal of connecting with his evangelical peers by experiencing their world first-hand.
Roose's semester at Liberty takes him to church, class, and choir practice at Rev. Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church. He visits a support group for recovering masturbation addicts, goes to an evangelical hip-hop concert, and participates in a spring break mission trip to Daytona Beach, where he learns how to convert bar-hopping co-eds to Christianity. Roose struggles with his own faith throughout, and in a twist that could only have been engineered by a higher power, he conducts what would turn out to be the last in-depth interview of Rev. Falwell's life. Hilarious and heartwarming, respectful and thought-provoking, Kevin Roose's embedded report from the front lines of the culture war will inspire and entertain believers and non-believers alike.

 I wish that Kevin Roose had been a little more fair to himself when he said that his work wasn't exactly an ethnography. Enter an unknown land by yourself with the intent of researching and writing about your experiences among people who live and believe differently than you, trying to stay non-judgmental all the while? Certainly sounds like an ethnography to me.

I had read The Year of Living Biblically, written by Roose's mentor A.J. Jacobs, a few years earlier and can definitely see similarities in their experiences and writing styles. It's refreshing, not too stiff or clinical but instead personable and relatable, to everyone. Though liberal college-age students will probably understand a bit better where Roose is coming from, it really is a book for everybody. Though he enters Liberty University having only attended Brown University, his work has the marks of the journalist he is. He goes in with an open mind, and it pays off.

There were a few elements of his writing style that I did question though, and a few times I was wondering why he was writing the way he was. Though he does touch on some of the anti-LGBT opinions held by his classmates, he moves through them very quickly for someone with friends and family that identify with the LGBT community. I understand that those kinds of situations were uncomfortable for him, and he does discuss them a little bit, but I would have liked to see some more reflection on Roose's part.

This was Roose's first and last foray into religious non-fiction*, which I think is unfortunate. Still, The Unlikely Disciple is an insightful book for the saint and sinner alike.

*He currently writes about economics and Wall Street happenings. His next book, Young Money, will be out 2014


Review: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Title: The Summer Prince
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Page #: 289
ISBN: 0545417791

Goodreads + Author's Website

Goodreads Summary
A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.
The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.
Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.
Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

One of the first things so apparent about The Summer Prince is that Johnson talks frankly about race, class, sexual orientation, sex, love, death, and more. This book covers everything and doesn't apologize for any of it. Nothing in this book feels like it was forced in, nor does any of it feels like Johnson put it in because she had to.

Another element of the book that I would congratulate Johnson on was how she wrote a sci-fi novel set in the future without making it sound campy or confusing. The descriptions of Palmares Tres feel natural, none of it forced. Because of this it feels like a location one could logically visit instead of just some fantasy land that we know is rooted in fiction.

The one thing that I am most thankful for in The Summer Prince has to be the unconventional love triangle that June has found herself in. There's no cattiness, no betrayal, and the emotions that flow between the three main characters feels as natural as can be. This is a book about loving, not fighting, and honors old ties more than it does new flames, something that I feel many modern young adult writers are reluctant to pursue for the sake of preserving the age-old love triangle cliche of, "There can only be one."

That's where my sympathies with June ceased, though. Many times I was left wondering why she did what she did, or why the story was taking her in the direction that it was going. Some of her choices didn't feel natural, but instead were spontaneous (in a not-good way) for the sake of pushing the novel forward. I had some troubles linking up with her on a personal level, particularly towards the end. Still, I honor Johnson's decision to make her the narrator and feel that seeing the events of The Summer Prince unfold through her eyes was the best choice for the story.

The Summer Prince is not only a wonderful story about love and death, but also a real step in the right direction for young adult fiction. Johnson writes frankly about sexuality, class, and questioning the status quo and her work deserves to be recognized and held as an example for what young adult fiction can be.

Four and a half stars!


Feature and Follow Friday (13)

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted over at Parajunkee and Alison can Read. This week's question:

Q: What is your preferred reading format? Hardcover, eBooks, paperback etc?

I prefer hardcover books, but I like paperbacks too! I don't read eBooks, nor have an eBook reader.


Feel free to leave a comment and follow any way you please! (Twitter - Goodreads - RSS)


Teaser Tuesday: Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan:

She flipped open the magazine she'd purloined from Charmaine's stash. People showed Brick beaming as part of a story about him buying an alpaca farm for a costar who'd expressed a passing yearning to make sweaters, and he was in Us's "Stars... They're Just Like Us!" section as someone who "loves sandwiches," illustrated by a grainy photo of Brick coming out of a Subway restaurant.
-Pg. 33


Teaser Tuesday is hosted over at Should Be Reading.


The End of Google Reader

Unfortunately, as of July 1st Google Reader will be no more. I've been a fan of the service for years so it really upsets me to have to look elsewhere, but alas things must go on.

Thankfully, my search wasn't long. Feedly let me transfer over almost all of my blogs to their services. The only ones that won't be making it are the ones that I registered for through the Google Reader app. This isn't a major problem for me, as I already separated out the book blogs that I read frequently and put them in a new category that successfully made it to feedly.

This switch-over has also been very cleansing for me. I was following a lot of blogs that weren't posting anything anymore and many that were reviewing books that I wasn't interested in reading. It's nice that I'm kind of being forced to put my priorities in order and look again at what sorts of blogs I want to be reading and what sorts of content that I want to be reading.

I hope that everyone who is being displaced by Google finds the system that works for them!


Polish and Prose (3)

It's been a long time since I picked up this book, When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, but the cover is so dynamic that I thought it would translate well to my nails:

These were also done simply. I painted my nails red and waited for the polish to dry. Then, I placed a piece of clear tape down the center of each, pressed it down, and painted the uncovered sides black. After they dried I tidied them up a bit and here they are!

Until next time!


Review: Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory

Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's Choice
Title: Chew vol. 1: Taster's Choice
Author: John Layman
Artist: Rob Ruillory
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: November 1st, 2009
Page #: 128
ISBN: 1607061597
Acquired: Purchased

Amazon, Goodreads, series website

From Goodreads:
Tony Chu is a detective with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he's a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn't mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why. He's been brought on by the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet, to investigate their strangest, sickest, and most bizarre cases.
Collects CHEW #1-5.
I've been staring at my draft page for this review for a while now, having put off writing it for two weeks after I devoured volumes one and two, no pun intended, as quickly as I could. You'll have to forgive all of the eating puns, but Chew is very much like your favorite food. It's indescribable, and whether or not everyone loves it as much as you do doesn't matter because you will still go and tell your family, your friends, and any person who asks just how much it satiated you.

Chew is one of those stories that can only be told in comic form. I've been turning to comics more and more often because the stories are grittier, more mature with a hint (or in the case of Chew, bucketloads) of quirkness that you can't always find in novels.

I can't really describe Chew for you, and I know that me just telling you "Go read this," won't be enough for the people that follow this blog for the young adult novels. YA and comics like Chew don't mesh well, I can't remember the last time I read a young adult novel that gave me the same strange, obsessive, slightly nauseous (in a good way) feeling that Chew gave me. All I can do is ask you to step out of your comfort zone just this once and give it a shot.

Five stars!


Getting Settled

I'm a week and a half into classes at school and I'm glad to say that things are going well!

I'm at a dry period in my day now: I had just one class this morning, which I supplemented with going to the gym and are now just hanging out in my room watching Danny Phantom on Netflix.

Other than Spanish this morning I've got two anthropology classes on Tuesday and Thursday paired with a required honors class that I have to take.

And, even better news...

My library card came in the mail yesterday! All I have to do now if pop off to the city and get it validated at one of the libraries and I can start taking out books! This will probably happen over my President's Day break in a few weeks, so I'll make a post about how that goes!

Also, a this-just-in piece of news:

We have a new family member! Her name is Marley, and she's about a year old. She's been adopted from the local pet and animal supply store that has been working with a local shelter to get some of their cats adopted out to good families :) I'm still grieving a bit over the loss of my last cat and longtime friend Whiskers, but it will be nice to have another furry face around and I can't wait to see her over spring break!

More college news later, and next week I'll try and get back on track with my memes and reviews. Thanks for the patience while I get settled in again!


Teaser Tuesday (8): Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride!

"Friendly neighborhood perv. May I come in, dear lady?"
-Page 14


Teaser Tuesday is hosted over at Should Be Reading


Polish and Prose (2)

Next week marks the release of the much-celebrated sequel to Legend by Marie Lu, Prodigy. I have a review up here and did a set of nails to go along with the cover:

Painting my nails while I watch a movie/ television/ YouTube videos is one of my favorite pastimes (these were done during Disney's Princess and the Frog, by the way), and these nails weren't nearly as difficult as I thought they would be.

I'll have to remember to take some in-progress pictures in the future, but these were done by covering the tips of my nails in overlapping pieces of clear tape and painting the uncovered parts of the nails black. My ring finger I just painted totally blue. I then freehanded painting the tips blue and painted black tips on my ring finger.

This is one of my favorite designs that I've ever done on my nails, I think they came out looking quite chic and professional :) Here 'til next time!

P.S. I'm coming back to college today after my insanely long winter break so expect some dorm posts up soon!


Top Ten Tuesday (3): More Settings I Want to See

This week's top ten five is based on an essential element of all writing: the setting. Some of the settings that I would like to see more of in books, or simply in books period:

1. Ancient Egypt: Ah, the wonders of the ancient world! My favorite ancient civilization to talk about, I would love to see more about the lives of the average person (farmer, merchant, craftsman, etc.) rather than always turning to Cleopatra or other princesses as a source of inspiration.

2. Non-European-based fantasy setting: Fantasy is really restricted to European influences in both setting, people, and culture, leaving plenty of perfectly good groups of people out. I would love to see more fantasy with African, Asian, Native American, and Aboriginal Australian inspiration. Nickelodeon did just that with Avatar: The Last Airbender and the result was fantastic!

3. Dystopian after a failed revolution: I'm getting really specific here, but I really want to see someone take a broken down society that's tried to change but failed. You can't win 'em all.

4. Adirondack Mountains:  A beautiful setting that is a marvel of beautiful waterfalls, amazing flora and fauna, and small, hidden towns all along the way. Most of Adirondack-set books that I've come across focus on old murder mysteries set in the region and it's a little tiresome from a place that has so much more to offer.

5. Antarctica: Why not? The world's largest desert, meteorites, scientific facilities, and you'd be mistaken to think that everything is just ice all the time:

Photo by Mike White , from Mental Floss website

Teaser Tuesday (7): Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas!

"You look rather pretty today," was all he said before the doors opened and they walked forward. Celaena raised her chin as they entered the crowded room.
-Page 65


Teaser Tuesday is hosted over at Should Be Reading


Polish and Prose (1)

One of my goals for blogging in 2013 has been to put a little more of myself into my blog, which includes sharing some of my other book-related hobbies with my readers and followers. One of those passions? Nail polish!

Polish and Prose won't be weekly, nor will it always coincide with what currently I'm reading or reviewing, but I have a couple of designs lined up that I think turned out pretty well :)

The first is from Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans, released just yesterday!

Nothing particularly fancy, not like these lovely Level 2 nails from The Overflowing Library that I came across last week, but I think they turned out nice none-the-less :) The inspiration comes from what I'm assuming will be the book jacket:

Stay tuned for more book-based nail art!


Top Ten Tuesday (2)

This week's top ten, discussing the top ten new books that you're looking forward to in 2013!

1.  Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans: I've already read and reviewed it, and I'm happy to say that it satisfied! I've been following Lenore's saga over at her blog for a while now so I'm glad that everything has finally come together!

2. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd: The description on Goodreads has me hooked. I love science, and I love reading about what can happen when science goes wrong, so I'm going to try and get myself a copy as soon as possible.

3. Game by Barry Lyga: The sequel to one of my favorite books of 2012, I Hunt Killers, I don't know how I'm going to make it until late April for this one. 

4. Transparent by Natalie Whipple: I'm all for superpowered teenagers, so I'm hoping that this book will be as good as it looks. I'm not certain if it will necessarily go the "superhero" route, but it sounds like it's worth looking into to check!

5. Reboot by Amy Tintera: What I'm hoping will be a strong addition to my sci-fi/ dystopian list of books this year, this was one of the first 2013 releases that I picked up on.

6. Control by Lydia Kang: Another dystopian/ sci-fi thriller, not to mention is being released on my birthday. I love books with commentary on modern scientific/ political issues, so I'm really hoping that that is what's going on here. Looking forward to it!

7. Altered by Jennifer Rush: It's already been released, but hopefully I'll be able to grab a copy on my next break from school. With more genetic manipulation, it's really looking like 2013 will be the year of science fiction for me.

8. Coda by Emma Trevayne: I'm still a bit uncertain about this one, but I'm willing to give it a shot in hopes of locking onto one really good dystopian novel this year. Who knows, I might be surprised!

9. Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum: Robot uprisings + a distinctive dystopian feel in the description = an instant addition to my to-read list.

10. Starglass by Phoebe North: I'm more than happy to be adding spaceships to my seemingly-never ending list of sci-fi to read in 2013. I've really been falling more and more in love with space recently so I'm more than happy to add this book, and others like it, to my list!

Bonus Titles: Nobody (Jennifer Lynn Barnes), In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Cat Winters), Shadowlands (Kate Brian), Linked (Imogen Howson)

The more I look at it, the more that 2013 looks to be an amazing year for book blogging! And I can't wait to stop by some other posts to get even more recommendations to fill up my Debut Author Challenge list, so get posting!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Teaser Tuesday (6): A Midsummer Tight's Dream by

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from A Midsummer Tight's Dream by Louise Rennison!

I became icicle-like. I was an icicle in dance tights.
-Page 85


Teaser Tuesday is hosted over at Should Be Reading.


Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Title: Level 2
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Page #: 280 (in my ARC, 288 according to Goodreads)
ISBN: 1442441852
Acquired: ARC from Simon & Schuster

Amazon, Goodreads, Author's Website

From Goodreads:
Three levels. Two loves. One choice. Debut novelist, Lenore Appelhans has written a thrilling otherworldly young adult novel about a place that exists between our world (Level 1) and what comes after life (Level 2).
'I pause to look around the hive - all the podlike chambers are lit up as the drones shoot up on memories ... I've wanted to get out of here before, but now the tight quarters start to choke me. There has to be more to death than this.'
Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend ... and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her.
Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves.
Most young adult novels dance around the idea of an afterlife, their characters somewhat apathetic in regards to what happens when we die, though not explicitly atheist, even when faced with imminent death themselves. Here is where Lenore Appelhans goes where few young adult authors have gone before. Her mythology of the afterlife, based mainly in Christian doctrine with a beehive motif, Level 2, is curious world where the dead may not rest in peace after all.

To me, the main character Felicia was a little difficult to relate to, but had her good points. We are introduced to the highs and lows of her life and get a first-hand glimpse into her past frequently throughout Level 2. I thought the usage of a machine to relive Felicia's memories incorporated into Level 2 was a brilliant way to give us a glimpse into her past without the standard, cliched flashback. Felicia's devotion to her new friends, Beckah and Virginia, is admirable and consistent, which was nice to see in a character that had previously had difficulties in the friendship department. I also liked her growth throughout the story, and I could see her becoming a better person as the story went on.

The other characters, not so much. Except for Felicia's boyfriend Neil, who we do not meet outside of flashbacks, I could not get myself to like the other characters or to feel anything for them at all. I'm still not entirely certain if I'm supposed to hate Julian or see him as sexy and irresistible (assuming that he is the second of the "two loves" mentioned in the Goodreads description), which he is not. Rude, manipulative, and cruel, every time he slithered onto the page I felt myself shiver in disgust. I'm actually really surprised that Eli, another guy introduced later in the story, is painted by Felicia to be this horrible guy. Writing him as this pseudo-villain seemed a little forced, especially since he was basically just Julian without the flirtatiousness.

Aside from the ending, which I felt stumbled quite a bit until things settle down in the very last pages, Appelhans' writing is very compelling. Felicia's past, including her death and another life-changing event during her time with the living, is mentioned again and again, but isn't revealed until the climax. I saw this as a nice build-up, and kept me pressing forward all the way to the end.

This was a lovely debut, despite the rushed ending, and regardless of whether Appelhans chooses to continue her series by focusing on Felicia or by introducing us to some new characters I will certainly pick up the next volume!

Three and a half stars!


My Challenges for 2013

One of the methods that I'm going to try and use to get myself to read more this year (70+ books won't come easily!) is that I'm going a couple of reading challenges. I'm trying not to do too many, otherwise they just become garbled and unreasonable and I lose track of what I read for what challenge. Three to start sounds reasonable, no?

Goodreads Challenge 2013

Probably the easiest one to join up and participate in, you just read! If it shows up on Goodreads you can stick it on your challenges shelf as soon as you're done and it will get counted. All you need is a Goodreads account to participate, and voila!

I'm going for 70 books this year, at least. I read 50 in 2012 and around 30 in 2011, so this seems like the next logical step. I'm counting all novels and trade paperbacks that I read.

This one is a little more difficult, at least for me. The goal is to read at least 12 books published in 2013 by new authors. Not just new books, but the first books published by the new, fresh-faced authors of the publishing world!

I spent the latter half of 2012 being out-of-touch with what was being published, especially with newer authors, so I'm hoping that this challenge pulls me out of that funk. I want to be tuned in to what's new in the publishing world and this sounded like the easiest way to do it!

A genre that I've neglected greatly, I really want to get back into fantasy books new and old. Their plots always sound so interesting to me, but for some reason they always slip away from me before I can really get into them. The goal for me is around ten books, but hopefully my love for the genre will reignite and I will read more than that :)

I'm also excited for the "middle grade" part of this challenge. I'm not a fan of romance, which I think is a little less prevalent in middle grade fiction than it is in young adult, and I don't think I've read a true "middle grade book." I really just jumped from a reading slump in middle school into young adult novels in high school, so it will be interesting to go back and see what I missed.

More challenges might be added, depending on how far I've gotten by the time summer rolls around, but you can keep up-to-date with my progress by checking out the "My Challenges" tab at the top of the blog. Wish me luck!


Feature and Follow Friday (12)

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted over at Parajunkee and Allison Can Read. This week's question:

Q: If you could choose one supernatural being/creature to really exists what would it be and why? ex. fae { submitted by @SeeingNight }

Dragons were the first thing that popped into my mind. I've been such a fan of them ever since I was a little girl, and playing Skyrim for the first time recently has rekindled that adoration. And also, how could I forget my own little dragon? ;)

Feel free to leave a comment or follow any way you please! (Twitter - Goodreads - RSS)


Teaser Tuesday (5): Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans:

Both methods produce error messages. I'm going to have to go in the back way and code my own path, something I don't like to do because it reminds me too much of my own sins. 
-page 36


Teaser Tuesday is hosted over at Should Be Reading.


Read like the wind! or, Why My School Library Stinks, or I Get a Library Card, Part 1

There are ten floors, six of them with books: stacks and stacks of them. Within all of these stacks you would have assumed that there was something you could read.

When I first heard that there were ten floors worth of library to explore at my university, I was more than excited (obviously). I brought my own novels from home, sure, but I would have more than enough to read at school, right?

A herd of elusive wild animals...
Unfortunately... wrong. The past few weeks of my winter break I've been stuffing my face with as many library books as possible, from here that is, from libraries that recognize that reading is more than something you just do to outline an essay or write a paper. I've taken out more than 35 items, mostly books, in just a short two-week period. There's no way that I can finish them all, but I like variety.

I have no idea if other school libraries are like this. There's no way that I, lover of libraries since I had first learned to read, had picked the only school in the nation with a library without a single piece of fiction (or creative non-fiction) within those shelves... right?

I'm righting this wrong the only way that I know how: applying for a library card not just from another library, but THE other library. I'm talking about...

The New York Public library! At only about forty minutes away, by train, I figure that once a month I could get a couple of novels out of the library and scratch that itch. Trust me, I love keeping books of my own in my little wardrobe at school, but after a month or so that collection gets a little stagnant. 

Applying for a card was easy enough, there's a form on the website where you choose if you want a card mailed to you or you want to pick it up in person. Depending on which one you choose you go from there and BAM! You enter a state of pure, unadulterated literary bliss (that is, as soon as you validate it).

I've been meaning to visit the NYPL for the longest time and I'm glad that I can go as more than just a tourist when I finally stop by.  But my question is... Why does it have to be like this? I'm excited, sure, but why doesn't my school library at least have a small collection of fiction? There are no local public libraries within walking or shuttle distance (I know, I checked), and not all of the students have cars. There are plenty of clubs and sports to keep us busy, no to mention classwork, but I can't be the only student who's upset at the fact that we can't indulge in fiction every once and a while? I hope not.

For those that have attended college, was your library like this? What did you do about it?


Feature and Follow Friday (11)

Feature and Follow Friday is hosted over at Parajunkee and Allison Can Read. This week's question:

Q: What New Years Blogging or Writing resolution have you placed on yourself?

I'm going to try and be more honest in my blog posts. I don't think that I should be writing fluff just because everyone else is writing fluff, but instead that I need to work and find my own blogging voice this year. I feel that many book blogs that I follow have their own personalities, and I'm going to work hard this year to try and find mine! 
I'm also going to try and include more from my personal life. I want this blog to be more personal, and for my readers to get to know me more as a person rather than just a little blogging machine that churns out opinions on books every once and a while. I have other interests too, I swear!

Feel free to leave a comment or follow any way you please! (Twitter - Goodreads - RSS)

Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Title: Prodigy (Legend #2)
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: January 29th, 2013
Page #: 371 (in my ARC, 384 according to Goodreads)
Acquired: ARC at New York Comic Con 2012
My review of the first book, Legend

From Goodreads:
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.
It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.
But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?
In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

Prodigy starts off pretty much where Legend left off and continues from there. The book has a very quick pace to it, and pretty soon June and Day are thrown into a world of revolutionaries and social unrest. I really don't want to give away too much of the plot, but even though I was uncomfortable with the pacing at times I felt like everything fit just where it should have. The plot putted along at a good pace and never once did I feel like it was lagging, or that a scene that had been added was just fluff.

My favorite thing about the book was Lu's self-reflection on June and Day through her secondary characters. I agreed with the opinions that some of these secondary characters held and was glad to see that they were being addressed within the novel, that Lu looked at her work and said "This seems like this, does anyone else notice this?" That's very mature writing on her part, and I enjoyed that aspect. As for those secondary characters, we meet some old faces from the previous book who fit nicely into their new roles in Prodigy, along with some new ones that help to shape the personalities of and highlight the differences between June and Day further.

The lack of detail that we get of cities and daily life is a double-edged sword when it comes to dystopian fiction, or any kind of fiction, really. On one hand, a little more layout detail would have been nice. I had trouble picturing a few of the fight and flight scenes because I felt like there wasn’t enough detail to make an accurate mental picture. I often had to change that picture in my head as I went along.
On the other hand you don't want the characters telling you a whole lot about where they live because it's normal life for them, and normal life, no matter how unpleasant, isn’t something that you feel compelled to describe. I don't think that Lu should be criticized for not showing us every single chunk of concrete in every city of her novels, even though that's something that June could certainly share with us.

The ending was heartfelt, and not having another page to turn after that was difficult for me, but understandable. I thought that the book ended just fine, and so I'm a little surprised to read in Lu's FAQ that the series will be a trilogy. We only get a vague allusion as to what happens to several characters, one of my favorites among them, which was a little disappointing for me so I’m hoping that these characters will get some more solid endings. Where we go from here I really don't know, which makes the prospect of a third book all that more exciting.

If you've read Legend I would pick up Prodigy (and if you haven't read Legend, well, that's another thing all together). I loved getting a chance to peak at the next chapter in the world of the Republic, and I'm very interested to see what Marie Lu will bring us next!

Four Stars!
P.S. There are a TON of spoiler-y things that I would love to discuss with people who have read the book (or, heck, have read Legend with no intention of reading Prodigy), so if you want to chat email me at bravenewshelf[at]gmail[dot]com!

And before I forget, there was a little two-sided postcard tucked inside the ARC. Sorry about the harsh light spot in the center:

We've got Day and June advertising the Facebook game based on the series. I've yet to check it out, but I just might and review it later. Day looks a lot different than I pictured him, and towards the end of the book I adopted this as my mental image. I'm assuming June is wearing the military uniform, which I had originally pictured as black. Still, I think they both look awesome, it's always great to see what other people's depictions of characters look like. Thoughts?


Teaser Tuesday (4): Prodigy by Marie Lu

My Teaser Tuesday for this week comes from Prodigy by Marie Lu:

"Even Metias has trouble watching out for you. What chance did I have of keeping you safe?"
-page 105


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted over at Should Be Reading.