Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: RADIANT and BOUNDLESS by Cynthia Hand

*WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS for Books 1 and 2.*
Proceed at your own peril. 

Titles: Radiant and Boundless
Author: Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly #2.5 and #3

Why I read it: To finish the trilogy and find out what happens!

Thoughts: I liked Radiant, but Boundless was my favorite book in the trilogy.

First of all, I'll briefly discuss Radiant. This novella is the bridge between books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, and it follows the POVs of both Clara and Angela as they spend their summer between high school and college in Italy with Angela's family. I really enjoy Angela as a character, but I didn't like being in her head. For most of the series, I questioned her intentions, but this glimpse into her mind doesn't really lend itself to continue that speculation. \

In my opinion, the best novellas for series change your perspective on something, whether that be a plot point or character. Take for instance Destroy Me, the first novella from the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. Since Destroy Me is written in Warner's POV, we see a completely different side of him than we saw in the first book, and it changed how I reacted to him in the second book. We also got to see events in Destroy Me that are important to the plot, but would have been impossible to learn about in the main trilogy since Juliet wasn't there to witness them.

With that in mind, I don't think Radiant is a successful novella. The Angela and Phen plotline is essentially summarized in book three, so I don't think this novella offers anything new or important. It also didn't really change my opinion on Angela very much; if anything, it made me like her a little less, but I don't think that's what Cynthia Hand set out to do; I just didn't like being in her head at all.

My official recommendation would be to skip this one and save your two dollars.

Boundless, on the other hand, I absolutely loved. I loved seeing Clara's relationships with Angela, Tucker and Christian, and how they all developed in different ways. One of the things I love the most about this series is the way it deals with morality, and good vs. evil. For a book about angels, there are few characters who are entirely good or entirely bad. Sometimes good people make bad decisions, and sometimes bad people can be influenced by love and sympathy. I loved it. I also loved the way the angel-bloods mythology is even further developed and utilized within the story.

This book, more than the first two, really twisted in unexpected ways, especially toward the end. I was not expecting that ending at all, but I think it fits the story beautifully. And I am more than pleased with how it ended. I think I even cried there in the last few chapters.

I admit that I had been hesitant to read this for a while, but I am so glad I decided to pick it up. For anyone who is wary of angel books, I would recommend giving this series a try!

Radiant: 3/5 stars
Boundless: 5/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this book yet? What was your opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Film Fridays! -- August 28, 2015

*movie titles link to IMDB pages*


Okay, I promise. This is going to be the last ALL-review edition of Film Fridays! It's been a busy month, but I've managed to watch quite a few movies. So here we go!

Mission: Impossible series

Title: Mission: Impossible
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Ving Rhames

Thoughts: For the longest time, I had absolutely no interest in watching this series. The first came out when I was little and my parents never really cared about it either, so it wasn't part of my childhood. But when Ghost Protocol came out a few years ago, it just looked so good. So we bought the boxset of the first three, and then the fourth when it came out. And this summer, when Rogue Nation came out, we decided to finally marathon through them.

And I am so glad we did!

This first film is fun. It's got a great cast and the action is always fantastic. The famous scene where Tom Cruise ends up dangling an inch from the floor? I knew it was going to happen, and I still gasped when it did. I was rooting for Ethan Hunt the entire time, and it was fun trying to figure out who the real bad guys were. Better yet, it set up the tone for the rest of the series. After I watched this first movie, I knew exactly what I was in for with the rest. And because of all the awesome spy technology used, it hasn't dated itself...very much. They do still use a floppy disk, which made me laugh. Overall, it got me really excited for the rest of the series!

Rating: B

Title: Mission: Impossible II
Starring: Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Dougray Scott

Thoughts: After watching the first movie, I looked up the Rotten Tomatoes score of all five movies. And once we started watching this movie, it was easy to see why it had received the lowest score of all. 

This installment was directed by John Woo, and even from the opening credits, it is highly stylized. Blurred movements and weird camera angles abound, and the action sequences are the worst offenders. Even Tom Cruise seems slightly ill-at-ease in this movie, making strange facial expressions and wearing the Vanilla Sky-era longer hair that pretty much no one liked. He's less charming here, for which the film definitely suffers. Plus, the acting here is probably the weakest in the franchise.

But all that's not to say that I didn't enjoy this movie. Because I did! I enjoyed Ethan's relationship with Thandie Newton's character, Nyah. I loved seeing Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) again. And the story overall was thorough and engaging. However, this movie almost feels more dated than the first, just because of the overly-stylized sequence and camera work. 

Subjectively, I really liked it for what it was. Objectively, I can see why it's the least-liked entry in the franchise. 

Rating: C+

Title: Mission: Impossible III
Starring: Tom Cruise, Michelle Monaghan, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Simon Pegg

Thoughts: I loved this one. Tom  Cruise is definitely back on top of his game here, charming and sexy and intense all at once. Have I mentioned that Tom Cruise does his own stunts? I mean, the guy nearly slides off an inclined glass roof in this movie. It's insane, and awesome. 

I loved Ethan's team in this movie: Maggie Q and Jonathan Rhys Meyers are both fantastic, as well as Ving Rhames, as usual. They worked together so well, and unlike in other movies, I never questioned any of their loyalties. Philip Seymour Hoffman makes a pretty fantastic villain, as well. 

Of course, the plot twists and turns in unexpected ways, and I was never sure exactly what was going to happen. The relationship between Ethan and his girlfriend Julia (Michelle Monaghan) also gave me plenty of feels. This movie has it all: emotions, action sequences, amazing spy gear, and an engaging plot. This was my favorite of the first three!'

Rating: A

Title: Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner

Thoughts: Now this is my favorite so far. 

Tom is still super charming, yet a little melancholy. I liked Paula Patton's character, and I loved Jeremy Renner's character. And Simon Pegg is basically always the best, so I am so glad he stuck with the franchise after a relatively small part in the third movie. 

Even more than the third movie, this one really has it all. Everything the third movie had, this movie has it in spades. Plus, this movie has some downright hilarious moments. Between Simon Pegg's usual humor and Jeremy Renner's dry, skeptic humor, I laughed out loud more in this movie than the previous three. 

I just loved this movie so much, and I can't wait to see Rogue Nation when it comes out on DVD.

Rating: A

Title: The Gift
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton

Thoughts: I was pretty skeptical about this movie for a while. But I heard so many great reviews and my mom wanted to see it so badly that we went to see it last weekend.

I was definitely pleasantly surprised.

What I didn't realize until the end of the movie, was that Joel Edgerton had written, produced and directed it, in addition to starring in it. That's a talented man, there, because he excelled in all aspects.

All three of the main actors are superb. There's this overwhelming sense that nothing is as it seems all throughout the movie, but very few things are explicitly spelled out. The audience is given snippets of things and expected to suss out the implications, which made it a very smart thriller.

I don't want to say much, but the ending is a little abrupt. When the credits started to roll, I felt a little unsatisfied. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, that it was a perfect ending for the movie, because I couldn't imagine what more of the story would need to be told. I appreciate the movie for taking a risk, because it paid off. I'm still thinking about it almost a week later, so it has done its job.

Rating: B+

Title: Unfriended
Starring: Shelly Hennig, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz

Thoughts: A new scary movie came out. Of course we were going to watch it. This movie follows a group of friends who are harassed online by someone who claims to be a girl who committed suicide one year before after being the victim of cyberbullying.

When I watch a scary movie, I usually ask myself three questions.

1) Was the storytelling original? Yes. The entire movie is shown through the main character's computer screen. We see her Skyping a group of her friends, Googling things, playing music from Spotify, checking Facebook, and using iMessage.

It's a very unique movie in that respect, though I do have a feeling that the Millenial generation would understand it more than anyone else. One picture that shows up on the Facebook profile of a character uses the acronym "STFU" and my mom had to ask what that meant. And to someone who is not as used to multitasking on a computer, the mere use of so many applications at once might be confusing. But I really appreciated the unique format the film took. There's so much to look at on the screen to catch easter eggs and small hints, which is fun for a filmgoer such as myself, who revels in finding the details.

2) Was it predictable? A little. Once the movie got going, it was very easy to see what was going to happen next. Even though the way the story is told is extremely original, the story itself takes a very typical route, through to the ending. Though I knew what was going to happen in the end, the way it happened still took me by surprise.

3) Was it actually scary? Not really. There are a few creepy moments, and the death scenes are certainly unique, but nothing really made me jump out of my skin. I was definitely intrigued, and the way the story was told had me on edge a little, but most of it was because of the technology aspect instead of the actual scares.

So would I recommend this movie? If you're interested in seeing a movie with a really cool, unique format that's interesting to watch, then yes. Especially for the ending. Tell me if you're as taken by surprise as I was. But if you're looking for a great scary movie that will make you want to sleep with the lights on? I'd skip this one.

Rating: C-

Tell me: what movies have YOU seen recently? Any that you'd recommend to me? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (31): DREAMLAND

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Title: Dreamland
Author: Robert L. Anderson
Release date: September 22, 2015

Summary: Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people's dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person's dream more than once. Dea has never questioned her mother, not about the rules, not about the clocks or the mirrors, not about moving from place to place to be one step ahead of the unseen monsters that Dea's mother is certain are right behind them. 

Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, come to town and Dea finally starts to feel normal. As Connor breaks down the walls that she's had up for so long, he gets closer to learning her secret. For the first time she wonders if that's so bad. But when Dea breaks the rules, the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate. How can she know what's real and what's not?

Thoughts: That cover was what immediately drew me to this book when it was first revealed, but it sounds kind of dark and creepy and fantastical, and that sounds like such a perfect combination. I've heard mixed things so far, but it's definitely one that's on my radar!

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this Wednesday? Does my choice sound interesting to you? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bout of Books 14 -- Final Wrap-Up!

Wow! This past week has been a whirlwind. I am so sorry that my update posts (and posts in general) went by the wayside. The end of the week was kind of crazy, and I had such a fun weekend that I totally forgot to carve out some time to blog! BUT, I did keep reading, so let's get on with my wrap-up for the entire read-a-thon!

Final Wrap-Up

Total pages read -- 1437
Total Books Read -- 7.3
Books finished -- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins -- 5 stars
                             Avengers: Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick -- 5 stars
                             Hawkeye Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction -- 5 stars
                             Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits by Matt Fraction -- 5 stars
                             Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction -- 5 stars
                             Hawkeye Vol. 4: Rio Bravo by Matt Fraction -- 5 stars
                             Matilda by Roald Dahl -- 4 stars
Currently reading -- 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
     So far? I'm a third of the way through this one, and I'm definitely enjoying it so far. I love the 
                  format of each chapter being one of the 99 days, and I especially appreciate the fact that 
                  every day is accounted for; none of the days are skipped, even if there's only a single 
                  sentence for that chapter. 

Final thoughts -- I think I had another successful read-a-thon! Could I have been better about doing my daily updates? Of course. Thursday I had a legitimate excuse, but on Friday, I was definitely just lazy. But at least I kept reading! I ended up completing my TBR by Saturday, so I even got to start an extra book on Sunday! I am so proud of myself again, and so happy that I participated once more. The next Bout of Books will be held in January, and I will definitely be participating again. Click HERE to go to the Bout of Books site for the exact dates and more general information. 

Tell me: how did YOU do during Bout of Books 14? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bout of Books 14 -- Day 2 Progress and Day 3 Challenge!

Day 2 Progress Report

Pages read -- 212
     Total pages read -- 491
Books finished -- 2: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins and The Avengers: Enemy 
                                 Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Currently reading -- Hawkeye Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction
     So far? I haven't actually started it yet; my plan for today is to (hopefully) finish at least two 
                  volumes of Hawkeye, so as soon as this post is up, I'm off to read!

Day 3 Challenge -- Bookish MASH

Today's challenge is hosted by Sarah over at Rocky Top Real Talk, so go check out her blog!

The challenge today is to play the bookish version of MASH! You remember MASH, right? The game you played when you were young to find out where you were going to live and who your husband would be...all that jazz. Well today, we're playing the bookish version! Instead of using celebrities or real people for our husband choices, we're using book characters! I also used some book-related items in other categories as well. Also, whenever we play MASH in my circle of friends, we always pick a "bad" choice for each category, just to make things interesting. 

AND, of course I took pictures. Whose blog did you think this was? 

I started out with a brand new notebook and turned to a random blank page.

Then I wrote out all my categories and left 5 blank spaces for each one. 

Then I got to the arduous task of figuring out how to fill them! This is what I came up with. 

I then did a little spiral and came up with the number 8 by counting the spaces! (Outsides included.)

Then I got to work! By the time I was done, it looked like this. 

Then I turned to a new page and wrote out my summary. (If you can't see the picture very well, I typed it out below, as well.)

"I live in a mansion in the underworld with my husband Roger Sullivan (from Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson) and out chimera cat, Sadie. (For an idea of what a chimera cat is, click HERE for a link to Venus, the Chimera Cat, even though she's probably not actually a chimera. They're just really cute!) We have no kids, but we do drive an SUV. I work as a receptionist. 
...I want a do-over! 

So as you can see, I didn't get the best outcome in today's MASH, but that's part of what makes it funny! And there's always another tomorrow, another MASH to play. I was very pleased that I ended up with Roger because he is so sweet and understanding...and let's face it. He's the only contemporary character on  my list. So he could really exist! And I still can't believe I got stuck as a receptionist among all those choices. *facepalm* But c'est la vie! '

I love MASH. Even in college, my friends and I used to play it all the time. This was such a great challenge. Thanks, Sarah!

So that's it for today, everybody! Be sure to check back all week to see my reading progress and to see me complete the challenges. If you're participating as well, I wish you all good luck! 

Tell me: how is YOUR reading week going so far? If you participated in the challenge for the day, link your picture(s) below so I can see them! Let me know in the comments below!

Waiting on Wednesday (30): THE SHADOW QUEEN

WoW is a weekly  meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Author: C.J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire #1
Release date: February 23, 2016

Summary: Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common--magic. She'll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen. 

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol's father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic--and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman...and bring her Lorelai's heart. 

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected--beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable--and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman--who she likes far more than she should--Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn't going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose. 

Thoughts: THAT COVER. *drools* But in all seriousness, this is obviously a Snow White retelling, but the fantasy setting and the way the tale is twisted feels so original. And come on, who doesn't love a sexy huntsman? (Chris Hemsworth and Jamie Dornan both come to mind.) I've been on kind of a fantasy slump lately, but it's looking like early 2016 is going to bring up a breath of fresh air in the genre. I haven't read C.J. Redwine's Defiance series yet, but this one is definitely peaking my interest!

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this Wednesday? Does my choice sound interesting to you? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bout of Books 14 -- Day 1 Progress and Day 2 Challenge!

Day 1 Progress Report

Pages read -- 279
     Total pages read -- 279
Books finished -- zero so far
Currently reading -- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
     So far? Still loving this, though my heart hurts a little lot. 

Day 2 Challenge -- Scavenger Hunt

Today's challenge is hosted by Kristen over at The Book Monsters, so go check out that blog!

The challenge is to take photos that fulfill the items on the scavenger hunt list! I managed to complete four of the five hunts and (as befits the challenge) posted my pics on Instagram, so follow the link HERE to my profile to check out my entries! And once again, make sure to follow me if you haven't already!

The only hunt I didn't do was "Books in your favorite genre," because I'm wondering if I even have a favorite genre anymore. I used to think it was fantasy, but I've read more contemporary this year than anything else. But I still wouldn't say that contemporary is my favorite I think I'm an equal opportunity book lover! 

Also, fun fact: I don't actually have a full-on TBR shelf, so for that fifth hunt? I took all the books off those two shelves, collected a bunch of books from around my house, and rearranged those shelves with those TBR books. And after I took the picture, I put them all back where they belonged. What we do for the sake of good book pictures! 

So that's it for today, everybody! Be sure to check back all week to see my reading progress and to see me complete the challenges. If you're participating as well, I wish you all good luck! 

Tell me: how is YOUR reading week going so far? If you participated in the challenge for the day, link your picture(s) below so I can see them! Let me know in the comments below!

Top Ten Tuesday (24): Auto-Buy Authors

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!

10. Stephanie Perkins
All I've read by Stephanie Perkins is her contemporary series and her contemporary short story in My True Love Gave To Me. But I haven't been disappointed by her yet, so keep them coming and I'll keep reading them. 

9. Marissa Meyer
This is a bit of stretch, because the only things I've read by Marissa Meyer are the Lunar Chronicles books. But if the next thing she writes has characters as amazing as Carswell Thorne, then I'm definitely sold. 

8. Tahereh Mafi
Also a stretch because I've only read the Shatter Me series. But this woman gave us Warner. I would follow her books to the ends of the earth just for that...

7. Susan Dennard
I loved her Spirit-Hunters series. I cannot tell you how jealous I've been of all the people reading Truthwitch this summer when it doesn't come out until January. I can't wait to read more from Susan.

6. Leigh Bardugo
She gave us Nikolai. And she's giving us more Grishaverse this fall with Six of Crows, so I will keep wanting more of that world as long as she keeps writing it. And of course, anything else she writes will probably be fantastic, as well. 

5. Rainbow Rowell
I have read Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline so far, and I have loved all three! I hope to acquire and read Attachments soon, and I've already pre-ordered Carry On! I just love her writing and I'll buy anything she puts out there. 

4. Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. Need I say more?

3. Courtney Summers
I've read 3/6 Courtney Summers books so far and absolutely loved them all. She knows how to destroy you in the best possible way and I love it.

2. Morgan Matson
I just read Since You've Been Gone and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour this summer, and adored both of them. I will be ordering Second Chance Summer soon, and I'll be reading whatever she comes out with next. (I'll also be starting her Katie Finn books soon, too!)

1. Scott Westerfeld
Ah yes, Scott Westerfeld. You show up quite often on these kinds of lists for me. I own all 14 of his YA books, and I've read 13 of them. He's just so creative and everything he puts out there, I know will be wonderful. He has a collaborative novel coming out this fall, and a graphic novel next year, and I can't wait for either one!

Tell me: who are some of YOUR auto-buy authors? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14 -- Day 1 Progress Report and Challenge!

If you scroll down to the last post here on my blog, you'll see that I just announced my participation in the Bout of Books 14 read-a-thon, so here I am to do my very first update! 

I started reading at 12:01 AM last night, exactly as the read-a-thon started in my time zone, so I've already got a little bit of progress to report! 

Day 1 Progress Report

Pages read -- 72
     Total pages read -- 72
Books finished -- zero so far
Currently reading -- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
     So far? I LOVE THIS BOOK. I pretty much knew I was going to; after all, I adored both Anna 
                  and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. But I totally love Isla so much as a 
                  character. She's adorably awkward and neurotic, and I love the way she talks too much 
                  and in circles, even in her own head. I can't wait to see where this one goes!

Day 1 Challenge -- Fictional World Travel

Today's first challenge of the week is hosted by Leann over at Between Library Shelves, so go check out her blog! The challenge is to list books that take place in different countries around the world outside of your own country. And you're allowed to include books that take place is futuristic, fantastical or alternate versions of today's countries. I took a photo of my choices and Instagrammed it, so follow the link HERE to go check it out, and make sure to follow me if you haven't already!

So that's it for today, everybody! Be sure to check back all week to see my reading progress and to see me complete the challenges. If you're participating as well, I wish you all good luck! 

Tell me: what country would YOU most like to visit? And have you read a book set there? Let me know in the comments below!

Announcement: BOUT OF BOOKS 14

Hey, y 'all! It's time for another round of the Bout of Books read-a-thon! I participated in the last round in May and just had a really great time with it. (You can see May's posts by clicking the "Bout of Books" tag at the end of this post.) So I decided to do it again! Here's a little more information about Bout of Books if you're new to the read-a-thon! 

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01 am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. -- from the Bout of Books team
Just like last time, I plan on participating in all of the challenges, so I will be posting daily updates here on the blog to keep track of my progress. Since I'm a little late in getting this post up, expect an update post later today!

Bout of Books Goals!

I have my TBR planned for the week and I feel very confident that I can accomplish it, During the read-a-thon, I'll keep you updated on the books I'm reading and how many pages I've read, so here are the books I plan on getting to this week!


1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins -- 368 pgs.
I have the first two Stephanie Perkins books in paperback, but this came out last year in hardcover. So I've been waiting to buy it and read it until it came out in paperback, and I'm so excited to finally read it!

2. Hawkeye Vol. 1-4 by Matt Fraction and David Aja -- 138, 136, 120, 160 pgs.
I've been slowly collecting this series for a few months, and now that the fourth volume has finally been released and I have them all, I just want to marathon through the whole thing!

3. The Avengers: Enemy Within by Kelly Sue DeConnick, et. al -- 152 pgs.
I've become obsessed with Captain Marvel recently, and absolutely loved the first two volumes. But this one has been ridiculously hard to come buy, as it's selling for upwards of $30 on the Amazon Marketplace. But my mom decided to gift it to me (THANK YOU, MOM), so as soon as it gets to my house, I'm devouring this baby.

4. Matilda by Roald Dahl -- 240 pgs.
On a whim, I decided to round out my TBR with a children's classic, because I haven't read a children's book in a really long time. And I figured, "If I have these books for my future children, shouldn't I read them, too?" So onto the TBR it went!

The read-a-thon has already officially begun, so I'll be posting my Day 1 update fairly soon. Any time you want or need to go to the Bout of Books homepage, you can either click on the Bout of Books picture in the upper right sidebar of my blog, or the picture I'll put at the top of every update post. The picture in both locations is linked to the blog! 

Tell me: are YOU participating in Bout of Books 14? If so, what are you most excited to read this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Discussion: Book Unhauls

A couple of nights ago, I found myself watching several "book unhaul" videos on Youtube. If you don't follow booktube and are unfamiliar with the concept, this is a video in which the booktuber shows us all the books that they have decided to get rid of, and tells us their reasons for doing so.

Sometimes I enjoy these videos, but more often than not, I just find myself feeling irritated and irrationally angry. It's happened enough that I decided to write a discussion post to share my feelings with you all, and find out if anyone else feels the way I do!

Getting Rid of Books

Obviously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting rid of books. Just yesterday on Twitter, I saw Alexa's post at Alexa Loves Books about what she does with books she's culled. (I love her terminology.) I encourage you all to go check it out HERE; it's a great resource if you're not sure what to do with books you don't want/need anymore! 

Almost everyone unhauls books, including me! In fact, I took two recyclable bags full of books to Half Price Books today and sold them for store credit. I was able to turn around and buy two more books that I am much more excited about. But honestly, it doesn't happen very often; even when there are books I wouldn't mind getting rid of, my mom might like them more than I do, so we keep them around her house so when I move out, she'll still have books on her shelves. 

So the problem I have with book unhaul videos isn't the act of getting rid of books. That's part of life. My main problem/question is this: Why do you feel the need to show us all these books you don't want anymore? Most of the time, it doesn't seem entertaining; it just feels overwhelmingly negative.

But, if for some reason, you feel the all-consuming urge to tell us what books you're saying goodbye to, at least tell us why you're getting rid of them. Though that doesn't always exempt you from getting on my nerves...


The following is a list of reasons or excuses for getting rid of books in a book unhaul, in order from understandable to drives-me-nuts. I have actually heard every single one of these in at least one video, usually more. 

1. "I didn't love/disliked/hated this book."

First reaction: Get rid of it!

By all means, you are under no obligations to keep a book you didn't like, so away it goes! If you've reviewed the book, link the review in the description. It's a great way to find viewers with similar opinions to yours! This is easily the most understandable reason for getting rid of a book. Unfortunately, it's also the least common reason I hear...

2. "I just have no interest in reading this book." 

First reaction: Then why did you buy it?

However, there may be an understandable reason for this, too. 

People talk a lot about the "booktube binge," or that period at the beginning of your booktube channel when you feel like you need to buy a bunch of books just because they're being hyped on someone else's channel. The result? You end up with a ton of books that maybe you thought you should read, but that don't actually appeal to you that much. If that's the case, please get rid of it! Clear room on your shelves for books you actually care about. But tell us about it because chances are, some of your viewers may be in similar situations, and this could stimulate a new discussion! It also helps to show new booktubers what not to do.

Also, for those of you considering starting booktube, but are worried about spending money: you do you. If you are fortunate enough to have the money to spend on however many books you want, then go for it. Don't feel guilty about it! If you don't want to buy a bunch of books, then don't do it! Booktube is what you make it; as long as you're talking about books and having a good time, that's all that matters. Read books you own. Utilize the library. Borrow books from friends. You don't have to spend a bunch of money on books just to create content for your channel. Be creative!

3. "I've heard so many negative reviews that I'm not interested anymore." 

First reaction: Don't be a follower!

In our world, it's unavoidable; reviews and opinions are everywhere! It's hard not to let other people's opinions influence our own. Even if we are trying to avoid them, we will see reviews (negative or positive) on books, music or movies before we experience them ourselves. But can you honestly tell me that there's never been something that you heard bad things about, but you ended up loving? I'm positive that everyone has that movie that has great reviews and an amazing score on Rotten Tomatoes, but you just didn't like at all. 

So why wouldn't books be the same? There are series or books that everyone else seems to love, but that I just don't care about, and vice versa. When you listen to other people's reviews of a book and let them color your own interest, pretty soon there's no diversity in what people are reading. The only books getting talked about are the same books everyone loves, and that gets boring. So if you want to read something, if something interests you, then go for it! Form your own opinion and don't be afraid to express it. Differences in opinions is what makes the bookish community so fantastic, because we can disagree on things and be respectful about it.

Short version: read what you want to read, not what others tell you to read. 

4. "It's a big book, and I don't want to spend that much time on it."

First reaction: Again...why did you buy it?

Similarly to above, why did you buy it in the first place? One booktuber even prefaced this statement with, "This sounds really interesting and a lot of people love it, but..." If a book is entertaining, if the writing is beautiful, then even a thousand-page book might go by quickly. You can't judge a book by its length. But even if it takes you a while to get through, what's the problem with that? If you're worried about your Goodreads challenge, or reading enough books in a month, then maybe you're not reading for the right reasons. We read because we love reading, because we are book lovers. Because we enjoy a great story. When it becomes about the number of books read, or how fast we read something, we're losing something. 

Also (and this is a personal, petty thing), if you can read an 800-page Mortal Instruments book, please don't complain about a 500-page book because its's a "big book." 

5. "It's an adult book, so maybe I'll read this when I'm older, but right now I'm not interested."

First reaction (say it with me): WHY did you buy it, then?

That aside, let's leave "age" designations out of things. There are so many "journalists" out there writing disparaging articles about young adult fiction. It seems like every other week, there's another burst of outrage on Twitter at these articles. These writers judge the entire category based on a few examples that have entered the mainstream. They make vague assumptions about genres without reading the books themselves, or doing the proper research. They insinuate that people who are reading YA, no matter their age, are doing themselves a disservice by reading stories that are "uncomplicated and not complex" instead of "adult" novels with "literary value." Which is all complete crap. 

We hate it when we're judged for predilections for young adult literature, so why do we have to do the reverse? Just because a book isn't YA, that doesn't mean we won't enjoy it. YA readers are not an unintelligent group; we can read whatever we want to read. If the concept of a book sounds at all interesting to you, then go for it! Break outside your comfort zone and give something a chance. You might discover a new favorite. I read almost exclusively YA, but if I hadn't given the adult genre a chance, I never would have discovered The Night Circus, which I absolutely loved. 

Also, isn't it just a huge waste of money to get rid of something you think you might buy again in the future? You're just setting yourself up to spend money on the same book twice, which makes zero sense.

What about me?

As I said before, I don't get rid of books very often, but I do have several books to get rid of right now. So why do I get rid of books? 

1. I have read them already and not liked them OR enjoyed them, but will probably never reread them or they're not a genre I want to collect anymore.

This is the case with most of my unhaul books. They include things like the Au Pairs series by Melissa de la Cruz, the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen, and several books by Ellen Hopkins. I've read all of these books and enjoyed them, but I don't see myself keeping them around for my collection. I may still read Ellen Hopkins in the future, but I don't necessarily want to buy them anymore. 

I'm also unhauling Struck by Jennifer Bosworth because it was one of the few books in the last year that I had to really struggle to get through. 

2. I have duplicate copies.

I already owned copies of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and Dracula by Bram Stoker, but I bought the much prettier Word Cloud classic editions recently, so I'm selling the old ones that I bought years ago.

So what now?

I hope for the booktube community (and the bookish community in general) to be full of positivity and support and a lot of fun. Based on what I've observed from book unhauls, they usually don't fit that criteria, especially when people are unhauling books they've never read. They are usually very impulsive videos and lack thought and entertainment value, in my opinion. 

Personally, I probably won't be watching very many unhaul videos in the future. I will stick to watching well-planned reviews, fun book tags and challenges, and book hauls so I can get ideas for my next trip to the bookstore!

Tell me: what do YOU think of book unhaul videos? Do you get rid of books? If so, what are your reasons? Do you agree or disagree with the above reasons? Start a discussion and let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (29): HOTEL RUBY

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!

Title: Hotel Ruby
Author: Suzanne Young
Release date: November 3, 2015

Summary: Stay tonight. Stay forever. 

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she's grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother's death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief. 

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating,, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions--including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey's pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn't have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel's dark past. 

The more Audrey learns about the new people she's met, the more her curiosity grows. She's torn in different directions--the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems...

Welcome to the Ruby. 

Thoughts: Man, this just sounds so intriguing! It sounds like a psychological thriller, horror, contemporary all rolled into one. And the characters already sound interesting, and that synopsis just pulls you right in. I have a feeling that once we read this book, the characters aren't going to be the only one who can't leave the Hotel Ruby. I haven't read any Suzanne Young books yet, but this one is definitely striking my fancy!

Tell me: what are YOU waiting on this Wednesday? Does my choice sound interesting to you? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (23): Most Read Authors

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish!

About a year ago, one of the very first TTT topics I had the opportunity to participate in was Top Ten Most Owned Authors, so it seems fitting that a year later, I'm here to talk about the authors that I've read the most of! 

First, I have five authors whose work I read religiously when I was younger, in my middle school days. I don't own their books anymore but I wanted to mention them nonetheless. So we have an honorable mention category! 

5. Lisi Harrison -- 9 books
I read the Clique books back in the day, even when I was probably too old for them. And I still enjoy the movie that was produced by Tyra Banks. It's adorable! Plus, all those girls went on to do other things. (The girl who played Massie was just on PLL!)

4. H.B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld -- 10 books
I read the T*Witches books back in the day, too. Man, I still have fond memories of these books. But when the Disney Channel made the movies based on them? Ruined. Sorry, Tia and Tamera. You just don't cut it for me!

3. Zoey Dean -- 10 books
Zoey Dean wrote the A-List series, about a girl trying to make it in Hollywood. I was all over these kinds of books when I was younger. But when the main series ended and the spin-off series started, I was out!

2. Meg Cabot -- 11 books
I'm sure you know what books I'm talking about here...the Princess Diaries books! I read all 10 of those books, as well as one of the in-between books. But honestly, I can't remember anything about them, so I guess I didn't love them as much as other people did! 

1. Cecily von Ziegesar -- 21 books
WHOA. 21 books, you say? Oh, yeah. I read all of the original Gossip Girl series, several of the It Girl books, and the first book in the Gossip Girl: Carlyles spin-off. But once the Carlyles started, I was getting older and bored with these types of books, so I quit while I was ahead!

Now, onto the REAL Top Ten! There are a few of these that I don't own anymore, either, but I'm still keeping them on the list! Also, I had a TON of authors with 5 books to their name on the list, so I chose the ones I loved the most!

10. Stephenie Meyer -- 5 books
Books: The Twilight Saga, The Host
Of course, Stephenie Meyer is on this list. Even though I don't love the Twilight Saga, it's still a huge part of who I am as a reader today. And I actually love The Host, so there's that. 

9. Ellen Hopkins -- 5 books
Books: Crank trilogy, Burned, Identical
I really enjoyed Ellen Hopkins writing style for a while there. Now, I'm still interested in her books, but I don't know that I will buy them anymore. Still, those are some good books written in verse, and tackling tough subject matter.

8. Melissa Marr -- 5 books
Books: Wicked Lovely series
I love this series. Still do. It's a faerie series that doesn't have as many fans as other series, but it's definitely one that kept me hooked from beginning to end. 

7. Jenny Han -- 5 books
Books: Burn for Burn trilogy, To All the Boys I've Loved Before duology
This is a very recent addition to this list! I read Jenny's duology at the end of June, and then read her trilogy collaboration with Siobhan Vivian in July and loved both! So I'll definitely be picking up more Jenny Han in the future. 

6. Tahereh Mafi -- 5 books (including novellas)
Books: Shatter Me trilogy + novellas
I couldn't not include Tahereh on this list. (And no, I don't think including novellas is cheating!) The Shatter Me series left me speechless at the beginning of the year, and I can't wait to see what else she comes out with in the future!

5. Alyson Noel -- 6 books
Books: Immortals series
This is probably the only author on this list that I don't particularly like. I read the entire Immortals series, but I'm still not entirely sure why, because I didn't care for them. But I tend to do that a lot; finish a series I start, even if I don't like it. But I probably won't be picking up more Alyson Noel books.

4. Melissa de la Cruz -- 8 books
Books: Au Pairs (now Beach Lane)(4), first three Blue Bloods, Girl Stays in the Picture
This is another author that I am no longer interested in (for the most part). I read these books a long time ago and while I enjoyed the Au Pairs books when I was younger, I found myself very disinterested in the Blue Bloods series so I never continued it. But I'm willing to give her another try with The Isle of the Lost, which is the prequel novel to the Disney Channel movie Descendants!

3. Sarah J. Maas -- 9 books (including novellas)
Books: 1st three Throne of Glass + novellas, A Court of Thorns and Roses
Another author for which I had to include the novellas. At first I was just going to count The Assassin's Blade as one book, but then I realized that I couldn't do that if I was going to count Tahereh's novellas. But I absolutely love Sarah J. Maas, and I will read anything she puts out there. I can't wait for the next book in each series!

2. J.K. Rowling -- 9 books
Books: Harry Potter series, 2 Hogwarts Library books
Of course, J.K. Rowling is going to be on this list. Harry Potter will remain one of my favorite series for all my life. I just need to read Quidditch Through the Ages, and my Harry Potter reading will be complete. 

1. Scott Westerfeld -- 13 books
Books: Uglies trilogy + companion, Midnighters trilogy, Leviathan trilogy, Peeps duology, So Yesterday
As you can probably tell, I love Scott Westerfeld's books. Hopefully I'll be reading Afterworlds soon, and then he has another book releasing this year. And this number will just continue to increase!
Tell me: who are some of YOUR most-read authors? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Film Fridays! -- August 7, 2015

*movie titles link to IMDB pages*


WOW. I've missed a lot of blogging in the last couple of weeks, and I've watched quite a few movies, so today's Film Fridays is going to be ALL reviews!

Title: Black or White
Starring: Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer

Thoughts: This movie was much better than I was expecting. Let me tell you, the trailers make this movie seem like a completely different movie than it is. The trailers really played up the racism aspect, but that wasn't the main focus of the movie. In fact, it was only brought up a few times, most importantly at the end. But it's not what the movie is about.

The movie follows a man who, along with his wife, has been taking care of his granddaugher since her mother died in childbirth. When his wife dies, the girl's paternal family wants a bigger involvement in her life, and it spirals from there. I really enjoyed the characters in this movie. They're all deeply flawed, but they all want the same thing: what's best for the little girl. The journey they take is emotional and difficult, but it plays out very realistically. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it!

Rating: B

Title: Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast
Starring: Mae Whitman, Ginnifer Goodwin, Rosario Dawson

Thoughts: If you haven't watched the Tinker Bell movies yet,  you really need to, no matter what age you are. The first one is very cute, but the rest of them are devastatingly wonderful. I've cried multiple times during this series, and this one may be my favorite yet. Even my mom cried watching this one.

This particular movie focuses more on one of Tinker Bell's friends, Fawn, who is an animal fairy with a penchant for finding and bonding with more dangerous creatures than the other fairies. Just when she is determined to follow the rules and not risk any more damage to Pixie Hollow, she discovers a new creature: the Neverbeast.

Really, you don't need to know more than that. But if you're a movie-crier like me, keep a box of tissues handy. You're going to need them.

Rating: A+

Title: When the Game Stands Tall
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Matthew Daddario

Thoughts: This is the true story of the high school football team who hold the longest winning streak in high school football history, winning 151 games in a row. The first game the movie shows is the game that broke that streak.

I love inspirational sports movies. We Are Marshall, Remember the Titans, A League of their Own...I cry every time I watch those movies, so I was excited to watch this movie. Then, as the previews on the DVD played, I got a little worried. This was produced, or at least distributed, by Affirm, a Christian company that also distributed the Kirk Cameron movie Fireproof. Because of a difference in opinions and beliefs, I cannot stand Kirk Cameron or his movies, so I was a little worried that this movie would be a little too Christian intensive for me.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. It is not nearly as preachy as I was afraid it would be; in fact, it veers into that territory early on, but quickly moves on to the actual football-playing. So I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I expected to.

The young actors in the cast really shine here. We have Alexander Ludwig of Hunger Games fame, whom I love. And Matthew Daddario, who will be playing Alec Lightwood on the Shadowhunters TV show next year! (Sidenote: he really IS attractive. Good casting.) And Jessie Usher will be playing Will Smith's son in Independence Day: Resurgence next year.

If you enjoy emotional sports movies like I do, I definitely recommend this one!

Rating: B+

Title: Ant-Man
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll

Thoughts: YAASS. You should know by now that I am a HUGE Marvel fangirl. So of course I was going to see Ant-Man in theaters.

Paul Rudd was a brilliant casting choice for Scott Lang. As usual, he's hilarious, but he can also pull off the drama and action when he needs to. Really, I have absolutely no complaints for any part of the cast. They are all perfect for their roles.

I think some people are/were apprehensive about this movie. But let me just say this: if you've liked the other Marvel movies, you will love this one, as well. It's paced well, the comic timing is on point (especially Michael Pena, MAN that guy has good timing), and it's got a lot of heart. I almost cried at one point.

I will also say that this is a fairly self-contained installment, but it does have significant implications on the larger MCU as a whole. And on that note, make very sure that you stick around for both the mid-credits and post-credits scene, because they are both important to the universe as we move forward!

Rating: A+

Title: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson

Thoughts: My parents saw this a long time ago, so I was so excited to finally see it when it came out on DVD. And I LOVED it just as much as I thought I would.

I knew that Twitter had gone gaga for it earlier this year, but I hadn't experienced the hype for myself. But it's so great! The plot is fun, the action is fantastic, and who wouldn't love Colin Farrell as a gentleman/secret agent? And Taron Egerton? That boy needs to score more movie roles, because he is fine.

What is really great about Kingsman is the way it plays off of old spy movies, especially James Bond. There's a moment near the end that seems to directly parody the James Bond movies, and it is so fun.

I honestly have nothing bad to say about this movie. Is it perfect? Probably not, but I couldn't name a single flaw. If you enjoy comic books, violent action and spy flicks, you would love this movie.

Rating: A

Title: Descendants
Starring: Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce,  Booboo Stewart, Kristin Chenoweth

Thoughts: This is one Disney Channel movie that I've been anticipating for a long time. The prequel novel, The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz, was released earlier this year. I haven't read it, but I might have to pick it up now.

It was just really fun. The premise follows a group of villain's children who are invited to the school for hero's kids in order to grant them a second chance, an opportunity to not follow in their parents' footsteps. We meet Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Evie (daughter of Evil Queen), Carlos (son of Cruella), and Jay (son of Jafar). But when they're invited to leave the Isle of the Lost, Maleficent orders them to seize the Fairy Godmother's wand for her purposes, so the villains can take over the kingdom again. But do the villains' kids really want to be bad?

It's just so cute. I love these actors. Most of the kids are Disney Channel kids from other shows: Dove stars on Liv & Maddie, and Cameron is a star on Jessie. But Booboo Stewart is Seth from the Twilight Saga, and he is just adorable. And Kristin Chenoweth as Maleficent? It's so perfect for the Disney Channel. She is just the right mixture of malice and hammy showtunes.

The characters are fun, and there are so many side characters and references from other Disney movies. And while the movie wraps up the story nicely, there is plenty of room for a sequel. I know that Melissa de la Cruz is planning a second Descendants novel for next year, and there is an animated series starting soon. So I think it'll be fun to follow these characters in the year to come and see where the story goes from here! 

Rating: B+

Title: Home
Starring: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin

Thoughts: Ever since JLo sang her Home song on American Idol this spring, I've been dying to see this. Her performance of the song alone made me cry, so I had high hopes for the movie.

IT'S SO CUTE. Jim Parsons is hilarious as Oh, the Boov. And Rihanna is surprisingly adorable as Gratuity "Tip" Tucci, the young girl trying to find her mom. There's plenty of humor and a lot of emotion. I manage to keep it together until almost the end, and then the floodgates opened.

The music was perfect for the movie, and I loved the Boov so much. Not much to say here; just go watch it. You won't regret it.

Rating: A

Title: Midnight Madness
Starring: David Naughton, Stephen Furst, Michael J. Fox

Thoughts: This is a movie I'd never heard of, but one of my mom's coworkers loaned it to us because she thought we'd like it. And dude, if you've never heard of this movie either, go check it out. Right now. I'll wait.

This is the story of an elaborate game that five teams of college students are playing overnight. The idea is that the teams are given a clue that they have to solve which will lead to a location, and there they will find another clue, until they reach the finish line.

This is Michael J. Fox's first movie role, and he is so young and adorable! The other actors are great, too. This was released in 1980, but don't be put off by the '70's feel. It's especially bad at the beginning, but it's not as apparent throughout the rest of the movie. And man, it is just FUN. There's a cameo by Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman), and it's fun to try to solve the clues along with the teams. And the race to the finish line is so epic and awesome. So go watch this movie if you're looking for a good time!

Rating: A-

Tell me: what movies have YOU seen lately? What are you planning on seeing very soon? And what trailers are you the most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!