Monday, September 1, 2014

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa

by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end. 

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Expected Publication: September 23rd, 2014
Received from: Liberty Bay Books
Format: Physical ARC
My opinion of this one is quite complex and mixed. So don't put too much value in the star rating, you'll get a better idea of my thoughts from the review itself.

I utterly devoured this book! I was less than half way through and loving it. I decided right then and there that this was going to be a flawless five star, rave of a review. I spoke to soon. Don't get me wrong, I still really LOVE it, but I began to realize two issues that really really bothered me, making it not flawless or five star worthy.

Issue number one: The relationship. It was insta love but not really. I loved them as a couple, their relationship developed odly and their friendship and relationship came out no where. They went from one of them threatening the other and barely convincing him to let her stay with him for one night, to besties, totally trusting eachother, and totally at ease together. That went on for a while and then the romance. That romance sneaks up on you! I mean I knew it was coming (we all did) but then it just wasn't happening and nothing was leading up to it. Then there was a little joke thing. Saying I love you to someone before you die.  After that I wasn't sure if that was like a real moment and things were starting or if it was just kind of a mock or fake moment, and then life was going on and they couldn't have moments. And then the end came and it was just like,

I half liked that it kind of snuck up, but not really. In general the pacing of the relationship just didn't work even though they were cute. 

Issue number two: The plot. I actually didn't end up having as big an issue with this as I thought I would. It wasn't bad! I want to establish that now, I didn't really not like it, I just didn't like it. In hindsight, it wasn't really an issue per-say, it just wasn't something to rave about. The pacing and just the way it was put together was a little...interesting. I was sometimes a bit confused because there was SO much going on! It wasn't bad and it wasn't good as I said before the whole plot was just kind of eh, as far as how well it was done, however, it keeps readers hooked for the most part and is suspenseful. 

The Action. This is very much an action book. Really all it is is action. I like action and the action was well done and logical. You couldn't really cut out any of the action they put in but, at times there was just too much action, and it was easy to get a tiny bit lost. Generally speaking though, I thought it was well enough done, and good for an action book. 

The Characters. I loved Sarah. She was strong, fun, kind, and stunning with the perfect amount of snark. Pierce/ Thomas was equally awesome. He was funny sweet, smart and totally swoon worthy. I felt like all of the characters were very vibrant and stayed true to themselves and the personality established for the most part, with the exception of Sarah and Pierce / Thomas when they suddenly became best friends and more. They had some background and such, but I felt like they could have been a touch more developed, but really they were all solid enough characters and you just can't help but love them to pieces. 

The Writing. The writing was ok. It wasn't a shining example of what authors should aspire to write like or anything, but it wasn't awful. It was just kind of there and a smidge bland. The story could have benefited a bit from things like more vivid descriptions, better imagery, stronger and more meaningful wordchoice, ect. but all in all the writing was decent. It didn't hold the story back so I was ok with it. 

The Concept/ Story Line. The concept was really interesting and made for a great story! The idea of a surgery that would help some people, and give others a chance at the real fresh start so many crave is highly intriguing! Then playing upon the other ways such research could be used added depth to the concept. It would have been interesting to see more of the moral issues dug into a bit, but there was already, SO much going on that it probably would have been too much in addition to everything else. 

Last Thoughts: Over all, I liked the book a lot. It definitely had some issues and it wasn't perfect, but it was still a really fun and unique read. The entire thing was a bit of an action packed whorl wind read and that was both good and bad. It's great for a quick and fun read, and I'd recommenced it if it sounds interesting to you. I gave it three (or three and a half) out of five stars.

Add it on Goodreads and buy it through Liberty Bay Books here..

Gif. Consensus:

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial

by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Expected Publication Date: September 9th, 2014
Received From: Liberty Bay Books
From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
The issues I had with it:
-Call. Ugh, ok I get it his name is Callum and the nickname version is Call (Pronounced Cal), but it is spelled like the word CALL ( like you do on the phone). I don't mind the nickname, but it kept really messing me up when I was reading! They could have just written it as Cal and eliminated that entire issue!

Why I loved it to pieces:
- The world building. It was flawless. Impressive and absolutely stunning. 
- The plot. It was perfectly paced, and I didn't see the ending coming, I had different suspicions but the out come that happened was not the one I was predicting. 
-The voice of the writing and the writing itself. The basic mechanics of the writing wasn't anything special, but it was still really well done. The thing I was most impressed with is the fact that it was written by two different people with different voices, but you couldn't tell from reading it. It was just one seamless voice.
- The Humor. I actually almost laughed out loud a few times. ( I never laugh out loud so that's saying a lot.) 
-The concept. It was totally original and a blast. The world building really made it and helped flesh it out. 
-The characters. They were fun and realistic. 
Last Thoughts: As you can tell, the pros HIGHLY outweighed the one small con. It was a great book for all ages, middle grade and up. It was highly entertaining and had a great plot. It was fab-u-lous! I give it five our of five stars and recommend it to any fantasy lover. 

Gif. Consensus: 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Swoons

Designed by Skylar Finn
It's another spectacular Sunday and so it's time for another sweet edition of Sunday Swoons! Remember it's more fun if you join the party and you are free to take the topic/theme in any direction you want to! Have fun with it! 

If you're just joining the party, Sunday Swoons is an original feature hosted by Skylar Finn @ Life of a Random and myself, wherein  we chat about a different swoon worthy topic every Sunday. 

1. You're welcome to use the button Skylar designed as long as you cite her as the source/give her all the loving credit she deserves! 

2. You can post in whatever style you would like: list, discussion, etc. as long as what you are talking about goes with the topic for the week.

3. You either must follow the topic given OR you can do a post on the opposite of the topic we give. (Example: Our topic-- Top 5 Favorite Couples, Your topic-- Top 5 Least Favorite Couples.)

4. Your posts don't have to have anything to do with books you are reading right now. If you reference specific books, they can be past or older reads. (It's nice if you put in the Goodreads link to the book, or another site that will take readers to the book's synopsis, cover, and other information.)

5. Please remember to link back to us in your post, giving us credit for the feature! Also, you can add your link to the link-up tool at either of our posts ( it may only work on mine the first time because we are still working that part out.). 

This week's topic is: The Friend Factor in Relationships: How other friends fit into main characters's relationships and what affect they can have.

I'm kind of fudging with how well my post fits the topic, but I really have been wanting to discuss this and since it is related to the topic I'm rolling with it and maybe I'll throw a little something else in too that fits the topic better. It depends on how long the post is looking like it is going to be.


One thing I've noticed lately in a lot of more "cookie-cutter," (as I like to call them) type YA books, is that there is always one girl friend or the main character, usually their very bestfriend, that is a total guy magnet, and flirtatious and/or provocative, maybe not all the time but whenever there is a hottie involved.

I've never understood why the main character can't be the confident, flirtatious and score all the guys they want. I also feel like it would be really hard to be the bestfriend of someone with such a strong personality like that. (Not that the personality is strong but that the personality is so strong AND made up almost entirely of the qualities mentioned previously.) It can't be good for the self confidence at least for certain types of people. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that these characters aren't like certain real people, or that they are bad for others, I'm simply pointing out that you have to have a certain amount of self-confidence not to feel inferior, at least to a small degree, to such a confident well loved person.

I'll admit it, I actually love these characters. They don't at all bother me, I don't have any problems with them. I just start to wonder things, like the questions brought up earlier, why is it never the main character with that kind of personality? Obviously if the main character didn't have the right kind of personality to get along with their firecracker bestfriend without conflict or other emotional repercussions and deeper issues in the relationship. Why do we never see any of this in books? I mean they can't all be perfect matches of personalities.

How do you feel about these characters? What patterns and repercussions have you noticed?


Uffda, as much as I would love to talk about something else that fits the topic better or make a list of examples of something, but I just don't have the energy to, sorry guys. I guess I'm keepin' it short today.

Next weeks topic is.... Couples on Covers!

Tools of the Trade Day 7: How to make your blog more well known

How to Make Your Blog More Well Known:

1. Find blogs that you like and leave a comment on the post. The owner of the blog might go and comment back and possibly follow you.

2. Make blogger friends. That will obviously make you get more followers and you might be able to do fun features with them on your blogs.

3. Let yourself be known to the blogging world. There's a group on Goodreads called Blogger Lift where all bloggers can join and get more followers, learn more about blogging, and can meet more bloggers.

4. In Goodreads, there is about at least 1 thread about blogs in each group. You could post updates on your blog and links to your posts and maybe some people will check out your blog.

5. Follow a lot of blogs. There's about a 1 out of 10 chance that someone that you follow will follow you back or at least check out your blog too.

Clarissa is the fabulous blogger behind the book blog Books Equal Awesomeness. She's fairly new to the game but definitely knows what she's talking about so check out her blog here and read some of her reviews!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stacking The Shelves

I've been trying not to get too much stuff lately, but I did get one thing so I'm linking up with Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews anyways.

From Net Galley and Abrams Publishing:

Thanks so much to Net Galley and Abrams for the e-ARC copy! I was highly intrigued by the synopsis for this one and the title is just lovely! I don't typically like historic fiction, but I have a soft spot for suffragists and the entire concept was compelling and unlike anything I've ever heard. Check it out on Goodreads

What did you get?

Of Monsters and Madness

Of Monsters and Madness

by Jessica Verday


A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father's home in 1820's Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father's assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they're letting on.
Expected publication date: September 9th, 2014
Received from: Liberty Bay Books

Oh goodness, this was an interesting one for sure. I was really intrigued by the idea of a Poe inspired book and was very excited to get my hands on it. Naturally it was weird and twisted, Poe is weird and twisted, so it makes sense, but I don't know, this might have been a little too weird and twisted for me. 

The pacing of the plot I found to be awkward and poorly done. I had no idea what direction it was going in until I was only about 60 pages to the end. Then it went in a crazy wild card direction. It went Jekll and Hyde on me folks. Who would'a seen that coming? I sure didn't and that was a huge turn off for me. Not because it wasn't predictable, I don't like predictable, I like surprises, but I like practical and realistic surprises, which this was not. It was far far from it. That twist came from absolutely NO WHERE. The ending was almost worse if that's even possible. I have never been more confused when reading. It was going along one way then all of the sudden it was a new chapter and things were happening that I had no idea where happening and I was so SO lost.  Let's just say it was greatly flawed. 

The writing was acceptable, if a bit mundane. It didn't stand out in a good or a bad way. I suppose that is better than it being horrid. Right? 

I couldn't really love any of the characters. I didn't really connect with them. They didn't really have especially strong or vibrant personalities. They felt bland and two dimensional, they were just kind of there. They didn't really seem to grow or develop. Like the writing, they weren't bad, they just weren't anything special.

Last Thoughts: It was not my cup of tea. It was bland and the whole thing seemed kind of black and white in a way (lacking color and interesting things). It was strange and not in a good way and the plot kind of ruined the whole thing. Without characters that I really, really loved to redeem the book, it had nothing I could really enjoy. I give it about one and a half stars out of five. 

If you feel like it you can add it to Goodreads or buy it through Liberty Bay Books. Don't let my opinions stop you! You may like it!

Gif. Consensus: 

Tools of The Trade Week Day 6: Battling Blogger Burnout

Blogger Burnout
To begin the wind down part of  Tools of The Trade week I'm going to talk about the dreaded blogger burnout with you guys!

Every blogger has at least heard of the phenomenon and many bloggers have experienced it, myself included. It's horrible. (For those of you who don't know what it is, blogger burnout is when bloggers are overwhelmed and extremely stressed causing fatigue, frustration, and apathy from all that blogging requires. This all can often cause them to stop blogging all together for a prolonged amount of time.)

For me burnouts begin when posting and writing reviews begins to feel like work that I don't want to do rather than something fun to do in my spare time. This usually occurs when I have a long list of posts and reviews I need to complete and don't know where to begin. So I'm going to list some ways to prevent it and some things that can cause it.

Cause: making a list.

I love lists. I make tons of lists on sticky notes and plaster them everywhere when I am attempting to be productive or am starting to get overwhelmed. This often backfires, because when I am so stressed that I start making lists it is usually because I have so many things I want to get done. When I have a lot of things to get done then my list is really long and it overwhelms me even more just looking at it! Here is the thing, when I make lists I have to finish that list the day I make it so when I have a massive list of detailed posts to write there is no way that I can do it all in one day and it is crazy to feel like I have to finish them all, but that's how I feel when I write them all out. It gets so overwhelming that I procrastinate until I avoid posting all together, and thus the burnout begins.

Prevention: make a list

I know crazy right! I just said that making lists can cause burnouts and now I'm telling you to make a list to avoid a burnout! What? Allow me to elucidate (yay big words, I love big words!), so if you read what I said above then you should have noticed that what overwhelms me about the lists is the self pressure and mindset of them as well as the sheer size. I actually find lists quite helpful for trying to get things done. Here is how to make lists helpful rather than harmful.

-Make lists shorter and more achievable by organizing them by date, priority, subject, or other method.
Example: Today's Posts 
               -Feature A
               -Review X?
-Remind yourself that you don't have to do everything on your list today. If you do choose to make one big list (I really don't recommend that method, but hey, it's your life), you may decide to scribble a note reminding yourself of this at the bottom or deadlines by each individual item on your list (prioritize).

Prevention: make a calendar.
This is a great and more visual alternative to making a list. For a really long time I thought all those bloggers that actually planned out posts were certifiably insane. (Sorry guys, I was wrong. I loved you guys anyways though.) It helps me because I can put posts where I want them and see what things I have to do by what date and it keeps me from feeling like I have to get them all in one day, but I can still see all that I want to do and have it recorded so that I don't feel like I'll forget about a post idea.

Cause: all work and no play. 

As I mentioned above, burnout frequently happens when blogging begins to feel more like work than something that I enjoy and becomes a hassle. I think to hard about what posts I need to be doing and all the reviews that I should do, but maybe I'm not that excited to do. If I'm not excited about the things I need to do and I have a lot of things I need to do but don't want to do, then I get into this "Eww, this is not fun and it feels like work and it's just such a pain!" funk/mood. That usually ends up with me choosing to not post because I have no desire to do seemingly unnecessary gross work.

Prevention: do something fun!

If it begins to feel like work and your not excited about any of your posts then take a step back and really look at the posts you are planning on and ask yourself if you really need to do them. If you actually have to do them, that's fine, but sometimes you'll find that you are only posting them because you feel obligated to when there is actually no reason that you should have to. If the latter is the case then toss those gross work-ish posts and brainstorm some fun ones that you can get really excited about. If you really do have to do the work posts, realize that there is no reason you can't sprinkle in some fun discussions or games, or something else you're excited about in between! (If you want. If additional posts stress you out even more then don't even go there, just leave it be, push through and change some other things and try other methods!)

Cause: the "have to" feeling.
I mentioned this when I talked about work posts, feeling or thinking that you have to review everything you read or every book you mention on Goodreads, your blog, Google+, or other media can end badly. Let's face it there reviews we just don't want to write. Whether it is because we don't feel like we have enough to say about a book, we felt too neutral about it, or while it may have been a very entertaining book, we can't think of how to analyze it in any amount of detail, there will always be reviews that we just don't want to do.

Prevention: realize that you DON'T have to review every book.
For a long time I felt like I had to review every single book, I touched and I would be so upset with myself if I missed a review or couldn't write a good one for a book. I've learned, and I've gotten over that. Sure there are some books that we need to review because we were given it in exchange for  a review, but there are lots more books that we got on our own time that we have no obligation to review if we don't want to or don't have time to. Just because you mention it doesn't mean that you have to review it.

Prevention: mini reviews.
You guys have read my Short and Sweet reviews and lots of other bloggers have their own similar version of the same thing. These mini, paragraph long reviews, are one way I deal with having a huge list of books that I want and need to review. They are fast and easy and I can check several reviews off my list at once by doing them this way, since it takes so much less time than a full review.

Prevention: fall in love again.
It's easy to get so caught up in blogging and life that we forget to do the little things that we really love and what got us blogging in the first place. Sometimes it all takes over and we don't get time to read or do whatever else. Schedule in time to read, take a break for a few days a week, or set aside some time just for reading or doing those little things. (You can (should try to) do this without completely stopping blogging!) Fall in love with your favorite activities all over again!

Prevention: ask for help! Reach out!
I absolutely cannot stress this one enough. The other things I listed are all pretty basic and are things many people already do. This one though is something I have trouble with remembering to do and that I think most people don't think about. For a lot of bloggers one of their favorite parts of blogging is the community, how close-knit, helpful, loving, welcoming, and accepting other bloggers are (followers too! I love you guys!). No one minds if you reach out to them and ask for help, or request a guest post or invite them to co-host, or do something else on your blog, or for you. Catherine @ Stray Imaginations has been a life saver for me this year. When I go on trips she is always happy to thrown the occasional post up on my blog so that my followers don't get bored, I can relax, and my blog continues to show up regularly in all my followers feeds. Whether you ask a fellow blogger to do a guest post, help you host and organize a feature or event, or basic maintenance  like how to format something, work a program, or use HTML, every blogger I've ever met has been happy to help with whatever I need if they can! It is amazing and it can really help take some stress off! I don't know a single blogger that would be upset or weirded-out that someone asked for their help (it is actually pretty exciting to most bloggers that you respected them enough to think that they could help you! It means a lot to them too!). Don't be scared to contact other bloggers for help (or just for fun)! It is a big part of keeping the blogging world spinning and spinning happily at that. I am always happy to help in anyway I can and you can always reach me on Goodreads, Facebook, or e-mail.

Briana is a high school student obsessed with reading and writing. She started this blog a few years ago and enjoys the fact that there is always more to learn. She is working on accepting her mistakes and the fact that she'll never know everything and is currently drafting a plan for world domination. If you have any suggestions on how she could accomplish this, or just want to chat about books and other things, go ahead and hit her up! She'd love nothing more than to talk with you...except maybe ruling the world. In the meantime you can email her or message her on Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook!