aMAYzing

May turned out to be one amazing month for me. I applied for, interviewed for, was offered, and accepted a new job that is only ten minutes from my house. For those who may not know or recall, I was driving an hour one way before. I am now commuting less in a week than I previously did in a day (unless traffic happens, which I learned on my way home the second day that it can. Of course, traffic happened a LOT on my previous commute.)!

I also celebrated my 5/10 anniversary with my husband, that being 5 years married, 10 years together! It’s amazing to share life with my best friend.

The day after our anniversary, we left Tennessee for a seven night vacation on the beach in Destin, Florida! If you’ve never been but love a beautiful beach, I’d definitely recommend it! This is the third time we’ve been since we’ve gotten married and we love it there. We never want to leave, but alas, we have to eventually.

Because of all this glorious relaxing, I read way more than usual! I finished The 5th Wave, which I had started before the trip, started and finished The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, started and finished Shadow and Bone, and started reading The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I bought at a local bookstore in Seaside, a little over half an hour from Destin. I had heard about Seaside and asked if we could check it out one day on our trip, and of course the bookstore was a must-see.

DSC_7191-editThey actually had a pretty decent YA section, which impressed me, but I didn’t see anything that I was particularly craving for at the moment, but when I spotted The Scarlet Pimpernel for $5, based on my love for the retelling Across a Star-Swept Sea, I decided to grab it!

DSC_7223And it came with a souvenir bookmark!

While reading I snapped a few pictures of some quotes I liked. From The 5th Wave

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“Cruelty isn’t a personality trait. Cruelty is a habit.”

From The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

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“And in August it will be fifty-two years together.” “Wow… that’s amazing.” “I wouldn’t call it amazing… It’s easy when you find the right person.”

And from Shadow and Bone

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“Thanks for finding me.” “Always.”

Also, I mentioned back in December a life change, and well basically, soon it’s not going to be a thing anymore. So yeah… May has been great.

Coming back from vacation I felt refreshed and renewed, ready for new things, and excited about stories again after reading so many new books and revising my NaNoWriMo project one last time before I send it off to a few Beta readers… which I haven’t done yet but I will SOON.

And lastly, yesterday I found out I have been nominated for the YA Highly Web Awards, and I am EXTREMELY honored! Apparently the nominees went up on Monday but no one told me I had been nominated! I just happened to click on a link from Kelley @ Oh the Books‘ tweet when she mentioned their nomination, and was shocked to see my name under the Aspiring Author category! I don’t know how long voting lasts (probably not much longer), but if you feel so inclined, you can cast a vote for me here. Regardless of what happens, I am humbled to have been nominated… I mean, that means someone thought to vote for me to be a nominee! So whoever you are, thank you! 🙂

So how was your May? What are you looking forward to?

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A Few Thoughts on Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Finale “The Beginning of the End”

Alright, so I’ve gotten behind on things, as I really wanted to discuss the last three episodes of SHIELD and I simply got busy and by this point I’ve forgotten details, but I remember that they were AWESOME. Especially the finale, which I did rewatch (while multitasking, which generally results in me not actually absorbing as much of it as I would have liked, but I have a weird thing about rewatching TV episodes I’ve seen before when I’m home alone where I always feel like I have to do something else at the same time, I don’t know why!). But I wanted to share a few of my thoughts.

* WARNING – SPOILERS! *

– It was basically perfect. I thought the storylines that needed to wrap up did so nicely and without getting too tropey. Ward wasn’t redeemed and is still an antagonist in the eyes of the team. Garrett was killed in the most awesome way. But of course, there were things planted to make way for new storylines in season two (and there is going to be a season two, yay!).

– Fitz + Simmons = OMG FEELS. Look, I know I’ve been kind of obsessed with the Fitz-Simmons development lately, but seriously, the chemistry! These two will break your heart.

So my prediction for these two in season two, with Fitz being alive but possibly not quite the same, is that he’s going to lose some of his memory and forget that he admitted to Simmons that he had feelings. He may even forget that he started to develop feelings for her. Meanwhile, Simmons will have to grapple with knowing while still trying to figure out if she feels the same way.

Fitz-Simmons-boxElizabeth Henstridge has been quoted as saying that “Fitz is going to be her main priority. 100%” in season two. So yeah, I’m dying. I NEED SEASON TWO NOW.

– Nick Fury tells Coulson it’s his job to rebuild SHIELD, and to do it right. I’m sure this will be a big part of Season 2. And I’m hoping that in doing this, by Avengers 2 he can finally let the Avenger crew know that HE’S ALIVE!

– AGENT KOEING LIVES! Sort of… So at the end of the episode we’re introduced to Agent Billy Koeing in a new secret facility of SHIELD, twin brother of Eric Koeing perhaps? And by twin brother, I mostly mean clone, because I’m thinking there must be several Koeing clones in these secret bases. I mean, he says the same exact things! It seems a bit unethical but… I’m game to have Patton Oswalt back on the show.

The show did start off slow, but there was a point where it really started to pick up and would deliver week after week, often times getting better week by week. I finally grew to love and care about the characters, there was a lot of action, some fun cameos and references, and some back-stabbery. Now that SHIELD has found its footing, I really can’t wait for season two, and especially with Agent Carter being picked up alongside it! I love Haley Atwell as Agent Carter and I’m really looking forward to how they translate her character for TV.

Share your thoughts on the season finale of Agents of SHIELD, as well as your thoughts on the show overall and what you’d like to see in season two! 

The Top 10 Books I Might Not Have Discovered Without Blogging

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a freebie!

Before I started this blog, I found some YA book blogs that I would run across when searching for what to read after The Hunger Games, which is how I came across The Selection, Matched, and Divergent. I wasn’t religiously following these blogs yet though, and I still didn’t know what it was like to see hype surround a book at its release as I do now. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot from blogging, and I’m thankful to the community for introducing me to some great reads that I might have otherwise not found! This week’s list is in order of my absolute favorite book discovery from the blogsphere to well, I’m still really glad I found this!

Note: These aren’t necessarily my absolute favorites that I’ve read since blogging, but what I don’t think I would have read on my own. Some of my favorites I found on my own or I know I could have because of my awareness of something that would have directed me to it (like my awareness of Brandon Sanderson from his podcast would have still potentially led me to Steelheart). 

1. The Lunar Chronicles

GR-cinderI highly doubt I would have ever picked up a story about a cyborg Cinderella had I not read so much hype about it on various blogs. And it was rightly earned! I thoroughly enjoyed Cinder and Scarlet, and then Cress was just so near perfection… I just love this series, so much. I love the characters and just… everything!

2. The Book Thief

GR-bookthiefI might have had more feels about this book after reading it than I did while reading it. It’s just when I think of Liesel and Rudy I can hardly handle it! Their story is so poignant and I’m so glad I discovered it from blog hype.

3. Across a Star-Swept Sea

acrossastarsweptI decided to separate this one from its previous book, instead of lumping it together like The Lunar Chronicles because… it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to! Or I guess because they stand on their own a little better. I ADORE THIS BOOK. I can’t imagine this still not being in my Top 3 for the year at the end of the year, and that might be a bold statement to make in May, but it had everything I want and love in a book. I NEED MORE IN THIS UNIVERSE, DIANA PETERFREUND.

4. For Darkness Shows the Stars

GR-fordarknessThe day I found out that Jane Austen retelling + genetic engineering existed in a book was a glorious day indeed.

5 (tie). The 5th Wave

GR-the5thwaveAgain, there was a lot of hype around this one that piqued my interest. Alien apocalypse? Hmmm… could be interesting. I really enjoyed it and am glad I checked it out!

5 (tie). Shadow and Bone (Grisha trilogy)

gr-shadowandboneI just finished Shadow and Bone last week and I am definitely intrigued by this world and its characters. I’m hoping that the trilogy will end strong, and it seems everyone also enjoyed Siege and Storm, so I’m looking forward to getting it and reading it soon so I can truly be on the bandwagon.

7. Code Name Verity

code-name-verityEven if I had discovered this one outside of blogging, I most likely would have dumped it because I would not have been so sure it would all turn out to be so interesting. (OK, so I have DNF’d one highly revered book after blogging, but I just couldn’t go on. I could get through this.) Even though I didn’t experience all the feels like some, I do have a great appreciation for this story.

8. Pivot Point

GR-pivotpointMy first recommendation for this book was actually from a non-blogger friend, but it was via Goodreads and I didn’t know what Goodreads before I started blogging so… there you go. And what really prompted me to read it was its rave reviews (oh, and the e-book was on sale! That’s actually the case with many on this list; take note, publishers!) But seriously, I love the sci-fi paranormal meets contemporary twist. I still need to read more Kasie West!

9. The Scorpio Races

scorpioPretty prose and a unique world.

10. Ready Player One

GR-readyplayeroneI do think I could have discovered this one without blogging, especially since I remember it being reviewed on Epbot a while back, but I read it for my book club that I’m part of with some fellow bloggers, so that was what really got me to read it. It’s certainly one of the most unique books I’ve read.

What are some of your favorite books you may have never discovered without blogging? 

Mini Reviews: Steelheart, Popular, The 5th Wave, & The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

I have been cranking out the reading lately, but not the reviews, so I thought I should remedy this with a slew of mini-reviews!

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

GR-steelheartI was really anticipating this read from all the positive things I heard about it and the author, plus I listen to Brandon Sanderson on a podcast that I thoroughly enjoy. Overall, I enjoyed the read, but it was just slightly less than what I was hoping for. Some bullet points:

– The book is mostly action-packed (in fact, the first ten or so chapters was one consecutive scene), but for some reason, I felt that part of the story was missing. There were some gaps in time that were only vaguely mentioned and I wasn’t really confused, I just felt something was lacking there.

– The concept and the world were very interesting, and Sanderson did a good job of naturally describing the world through David the narrator.

– I never really fully connected with any of the characters. This was the one thing that disappointed me about the book. I liked everyone well enough, and wanted things to go well, but I really did not feel like I got to know them super well, even though…

– The characters were mostly well-rounded. There were a couple of characters who felt inconsistent to me, but then it turned out there were reasons that made sense later in the book. And then there was Cody… who was maybe just too quirky. I almost felt like Sanderson came up with too many quirks for a character and gave most all of them to Cody. He’s spent much of his adult life in Nashville and says “y’all,” yet he says it to address a singular person as well as multiple people (no one I know does that, and I live in the Nashville area!), and he also says all these Irish and Scottish and British things and… I don’t know. It was too much for me. I know some pretty quirky people, but Cody just didn’t feel real.

– The ending was great, pitch-perfect really. The last 10% of the book was what sold the whole thing for me and made me excited for the next.

Content advisory: Violence and a few mild swear words

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenan

Popular_comp9.inddThis was loaned to me by a co-worker, and it was a cute, light read. It’s a memoir that follows author Maya’s eighth grade year as she follows the advice of a 1950s popularity guide written by model Betty Cornell. The book was clearly written by a teenager and includes many relatable awkward junior high school  moments that I never EVER would have shared about myself when I was that age (or probably even now, ha!), but the honesty of it is refreshing. And through even the silly and awkward mishaps, Maya learns some really valuable lessons about how we treat others that I think we can all learn from.

Content advisory: Talk about sex (mostly in an educational sense, nothing too graphic) and a few mild swear words

3.5stars

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

GR-the5thwaveMy complaints about The 5th Wave are very few, so I’ll get them out of the way upfront. I was never fully engaged with the characters, so I didn’t feel a whole lot. For me to rate a book 5 stars, I need to feel ALL THE FEELS. That didn’t happen for me here. But, I was always intrigued and so much of the story juts hit so right for me.

The book started out pretty slowly, which almost always bothers me, but something about Cassie’s desperation, even if I wasn’t completely engaged with her as a character (though I did like her fine) kept me hanging on. I wanted to understand exactly what she went through with each of the waves The Others delivered.

One other small complaint: the shifting POV’s were confusing. Each part offers a new POV, usually first person, and usually it’s Cassie or Ben, but there are also some third person POV’s of other characters. Before the storylines become more distinct it was sometimes hard to know whose head I was in, but I figured it out eventually. I enjoyed both Cassie’s and Ben’s POVs pretty well. I liked reading Cassie’s story more, but what was going on in Ben’s story was really interesting.

Which brings me to something this book did majorly right: it made so much sense psychologically. Everything about the way the humans reacted made sense. We love the alien stories like Independence Day where we can easily whoop some alien butt, but this felt so much more real. And certain aspects of this made me think of Star Trek.

(Side note: If you enjoyed The 5th Wave, you’ll love Star Trek!)

There was some more swearing in this one than I generally like, but in the middle of an alien apocalypse it felt way more natural than when it’s just angsty teenagers who want society to understand them and their love life…

All that to say, I really liked it and am really interested in reading the next book. Even though I wasn’t super engaged with the characters themselves, I was really into the story.

Advisory content: Language (mostly mild but a few harsher words are used) and violence

4-5stars-edit

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

GR-thestatisticalprobabilityThis book was pretty much exactly what I expected from it: a cute, fluffy contemporary.  I was a little wary of the whole “love at first sight” idea, even though I knew to be prepared for it, but it’s obvious Hadley doesn’t think she’s necessarily in love. She doesn’t even know what to think about love and marriage with everything that has happened with her parents. And though there was serious content along with the romance, it pretty much played out like a Disney movie (despite Hadley saying, “I know this isn’t a Disney movie”).

I enjoyed it overall, but have a few complaints. What I disliked the most was that the story was told in third person present tense. I am pretty sure I have never read this combo before and I don’t think it really works all that well. It should have been first person present or third person past, in my opinion. I know many times it feels it would make a huge difference, but I don’t see that being the case here.

I appreciate that Oliver wasn’t perfect, but the deal with the whiskey was a bit too much for me. And his Daddy issues… yikes! Let’s just say didn’t fall for Oliver.

One last issue is that despite the fact that this book only takes place over a 24 hour period, Smith still manages to cut out a significant amount of time from the airplane ride and we just catch glimpses of these conversations in flashback. I understand why she didn’t want to include hours of conversation, but… I don’t know, I just would have liked a little more.

Content Advisory: A few mild swear words. 

3.5starsPlease share your thoughts on any of these books that you have read!

5 Books I Thought About Putting Down But Didn’t

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn’t. I couldn’t come up with 10, but did come up with 5. And to say I almost put these books down is a bit of an overstatement for some of these, but the thought had to cross my mind at some point for it to make this list. I decided to put this list in order to “holy cow, I’m really glad I didn’t put it down!” to “dang, I would have been better off to have that time back.” 

1. Code Name Verity

code-name-verityI don’t think anyone warned me that this book started off slow. Everyone was just like, “Oh, this book is awesome!” That first part was hard to get through. I thought Verity was a true traitor and some parts of her story didn’t make sense and I didn’t understand what the point of it all was… but boy did it start to click in Part Two. I’m glad I hung on.

Final Rating: 4.5 stars/ My review

2.  Never Let Me Go

never-let-me-goWhen the thought to put down this book crossed my mind, I was really too far into it. It wasn’t the story or the characters, I was just afraid the whole rest of the book was going to be about sex, as the narrator started to talk about it more and more. But I decided to stick with it because I really did want to know the rest of the story. And it was somewhat worth it. The ending was a little unsatisfying, sadly.

Final rating: 3 stars/ My review

3. Any of the books in The Maze Runner series

GR-mazerunnerWhen my co-worker loaned me the first book I wanted to push through it because I thought she saw something in it. And then the end of the first book piqued my interest in the second book. The second book was a strange combo of weird and fascinating, and then of course I read the third. And hated the end. And then I didn’t learn my lesson and read the prequel, hoping for something more satisfactory, but NOPE. I just wish I had been smart enough to STOP at some point.

Final average rating of series: 2.25

4. The Testing

GR-testingI felt completely emotionally detached from the characters, the writing was simplistic, and the plot heavily borrowed from some others. But I bought this one as a hardcover so I kept going. The premise of this one was intriguing, but the execution was lacking a bit for me.

Final score: 2 stars/ My review

5. Not A Drop to Drink

GR-droptodrinkI never got emotionally attached to anyone in this story either, and I didn’t get what the “point” of the story was. I probably would have stopped reading if it had not been for book club, because the thought did cross my mind more than once.

Final rating: 2 stars/ My review

What books did you almost give up on? Are you glad you didn’t or do you wish you had?

P.S. Let me know what you think of the new blog theme! I was ready for a change.

P. P. S. Be sure to check out my guest post today over at Oh, The Books!

Review: The Distant Hours

I would have never picked up The Distant Hours on my own, but when someone loaned it to me, I thought I should give it a shot. Thankfully, it was a pleasant surprise.

Note: It’s been long enough ago since I read this that I am not sure if I can remember enough to write a full-fledged review, so I will just be elaborating upon the notes I jotted down shortly after finishing the book.

distant-hours

Incredibly layered and rich in story-telling: This book is like Code Name Verity on crack in terms of layers. I’m really impressed with all the storylines and characters Morton had to keep straight in order to successfully weave everything together so seamlessly!

Several fascinating mysteries, secrets, and connections: This is really just a further elaboration of the first point. There is so much going on, in the past, in the story’s present, interweaving between events and characters and secrets that get revealed at various points in the story to various characters.

Loved the castle setting: When I started this book, I was in the mood for reading something with a fantasy or fairy-tale feel, which I wasn’t expecting to get from this, but the castle setting that part of this book takes place at gave some of that feel without it being completely otherworldly.

Usually enjoyed going back and forth between the past and present narratives: The fun thing about this book is we get two narratives in one really, one from the past and one of the “present” (it’s the early 1990s, but it is the present for the narrator). However, at some point I did get a little tired of so much back and forth, especially when the narrative shifted just as something really exciting was happening in the current narrative.

(Sorta vaguely spoilery) So incredibly tragic for the sisters – thankfully there is more hope for Edie and her mom: This story doesn’t end happily for everyone, but there is some hope in the end.

Never felt super connected to the characters: I can’t complain about the characters. They were all incredibly distinct, three-dimensional, and interesting, but I think in part because of how much “book time” is spread out among them, I never felt a real connection with any one of them. Just when I was relating with Edie or Saffie, I was switched to another character, and then I didn’t necessarily get the feeling back when I returned to that other character.

Felt too long at times: This book is 562 pages long, and I honestly felt it. As someone who reads YA fiction primarily, I don’t read many books over 400 pages, and when I do, the pacing is usually fast and helps me get through the book quickly. It took me a long time to read this book and after a while, it started to wear on me a little. I was interested in everything going on, but couldn’t it just go a little faster? Thankfully, when it did start to feel a little draggy to me, something would usually spark my interest again for a little while longer.

Raymond Blythe was a terrible father: Seriously. This is a case of someone trying but failing miserably.

Never really understood what “the distant hours” means: There were several references to some song or poem that Edie’s mom told her about that mentioned “the distant hours,” and it gets mentioned in reference to the castle, but I never understood what the heck it actually meant. (If anyone can explain it, I would appreciate it.)

Overall, it was a very good read that I would recommend to those who enjoy stories with mysteries, secrets, and who have an interest in how the past and present can be linked.

4stars2

Advisory content: Some sexual content and references (nothing graphic) and some mild language. 

Have you read The Distant Hours? What are your thoughts? 

The Wheels Fell Off My Bus But I Don’t Mind

April is over, and I failed to meet my word goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, even though I lowered it 10,000 words from my original goal of 20,000. But it didn’t just slip past me. I simply stopped writing new material after the first week and a half and I knew what I was doing. My April was filled with a lot of things going on in my life, and I quite frankly wasn’t inspired to write any story other than my November NaNo project.

Now, I do understand that I need to write even when life is crazy and I’m not inspired, but I think you can take a break sometimes, so after about a week and a half or forcing myself to write in April, I just stopped, minus a little editing for my other project and a couple of other odds and ends added to older story ideas (I have well over a dozen story documents that have been started but are no where near fleshed out, but that’s another post for another time, I suppose). I was busy, but I had chances to make the time, and I knew it.

But over the next month or two, I believe I will have the chance to refocus. May is already shaping up to look like an interesting month, but a good one. So after my failed attempt at Camp NaNoWriMo, I do intend to reevaluate how I spend my time writing, and trying to construct a more workable schedule for me. I don’t intend to always allow the busy nature of life to delay my dreams. I need to keep writing, and keep practicing, and slowing down on this blog has been helpful. Thanks to everyone for their patience. Having friends who are rooting for me seriously helps me.

dory-writing