Friday, August 22, 2014

I've Got to Be Honest...


It drives me nuts when I feel like I'm not going 100%. For the last two weeks or so, I haven't been able to give 100% on The Canon. 

To keep it short, life's been a little long the past few weeks. Not bad, not at all. Hours at work are very long, so much that I come home, go to bed, and get back up to go back to work. I haven't been able to answer comments or emails, even write posts well (feels like my mind is constantly falling asleep on me). Yesterday, my staff had to repeat each question to me twice. I think they found it funny, so there's a bonus! 

Anyway, things are changing starting today. I have a post in the works for tonight (sneak peek here!) and I'm reorganizing everything. I don't like being this stressed out, so time for change. When I feel frustrated or starting to lose it, I blast this...


It makes me smile and want to wear bright red lipstick to work today. Shaking it off, picking up the pieces, and moving forward. Thanks for sticking with me. 

Review | Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo {website}
Publication Date: June 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Series: The Grisha {Book 2}
Source & Format: Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.


I don't know exactly why I didn't expect to fall in love with Bardugo's series, but her first installment knocked me off my feet. When I found Siege and Storm sitting on the new shelf next to Ruin and Rising at the library, I took it as a sign: KEEP READING! So, now both books are sitting on my shelf and I am pacing myself to finish out my August scheduled reviews before I grab Ruin and Rising, tearing into it like a madwoman. 

The battle between Alina and the Darkling intensifies in Siege and Storm, but both characters' weaknesses are revealed. Alina's struggles with her own character development, her power, and her relationship with Mal create a deeper character than found in Shadow and Bone. Instead of being the wonder child, Alina has to face both the bonuses and consequences of her sudden rise to fame. There were times her decisions drove me crazy, but I was hooked on her character. 

Her opponent, the ever-powerful Darkling, becomes a little more human himself. His character isn't as present in person in Siege and Storm; instead, the fear of him rules the actions of the Grisha. For the most part, his role in the story is to be a catalyst, forcing the plot and the characters' own motives forward. His reign of terror blanketed not only Ravka but the world. 

Siege and Storm kept me hooked for the most part. I felt the pacing dropped off after the second half of the novel and my interest dropped when there was a hint of a love triangle (please, no). The love interest that springs up in male characters for Alina seems to be intrigued with her power instead of the person herself. The love triangle itself isn't my favorite. 

THE RATING:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review | It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Philips

Title: It Had to Be You
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips {website
Publication Date: January 1994
Publisher: William Morrow
Series: Chicago Stars {Book 1}
Source & Format: Library; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
The Windy City isn't quite ready for Phoebe Somerville—the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not ready for the Stars' head coach, former gridiron legend Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises—a meddling bimbo who doesn't know a pigskin from a pitcher's mound.

So why is Dan drawn to the shameless sexpot like a heat-seeking missile? And why does the coach's good ol' boy charm leave cosmopolitan Phoebe feeling awkward, tongue-tied...and ready to fight?


The sexpot and the macho guy are favorite romantic stereotypes for a reason: they are simply so much fun. Their stories can wear old after a while, but Phillips kept the characters fresh and memorable in her romance It Had to Be You

Now, here's the thing. Normally, a sexpot romantic heroine does nothing for me. I can't identify with her, making it hard to care about her journey. I fell in love with Phoebe almost instantly. With the third person limited narration, Phillips lets us as readers into Phoebe's mind, history and motives, creating an entire soft and vulnerable personality behind the hard rock of her Marilyn Monroe attitude. Dan Calebow gives the same depth of character behind the "good ol' boy" act, but it's Phoebe's story that shines in It Had to Be You. Phoebe's history envelopes both of them and forces them to consider not only each other, but themselves. 

I loved the romance. Phillips was one of the first romantic authors I read, and I've been a fan ever since. The amount of tension between Phoebe and Dan was electric, intensifying as the plot moved forward. It became dang near impossible to put this book down; I ended up reading it in two sittings. The depth of characters made me fall in love with their story, their romance, and crave the ending. 

Overall, the plot was well-constructed, engaging, and tied together neatly in the end. There was one particular element that I felt didn't fit the overall plot and didn't had a satisfying conclusion (I don't want to bring it up in case I spoil it). This was the only dark spot on a satisfying read, one that I felt could have been left out of the story all together. 

THE RATING:
 WHY:
- strong characters
- amazing romance
- clear, concise and descriptive writing
- only one little blip in the plot

RECOMMENDED FOR:
Romantics, especially those with a love of matches on and off the field.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Great TBR Pileup Update and Bookshelf Organization


I mentioned the other day that I have very strange book buying habits, but when I do buy, I go crazy. It's like all my sanity flies out of the window and I rush around the used bookstore, waving my credit card like a white flag. 


Therefore, I have a ton of books, some of which I've never started/finished/read, but would love to. At the beginning of this year when I was setting this year's blog goals, I decided to challenge myself to finally pick up all of those books sitting on my shelves. 

BY THE NUMBERS...

Books TBR in January 2014 | 19
Finished | 7
Added | 15
Need to Read | 28

As it turns out, I haven't made the best progress on this particular challenge. The last few months have been particularly hectic, making my reading and blogging schedules a little more complicated. To finish this challenge, I will have to read 7 books a month. A tall order, but I can make it!

How do I keep my books organized? I have three giant bookshelves, two courtesy of Target and one snagged from my parents' neighbor's free pile during the biannual yearly cleanup. All of my library books, binders and reference books live on the neighbor's bookshelf. It's the tallest, so it's perfect for my odd-sized reference books from college. My target bookshelves are jammed with my book collection...and kinda spill out of the floor, but don't tell anyone. Everything is organized alphabetically by author last name. It's easiest for me to find books this way, especially if I'm looking to see if I already have a book on my GoodReads TBR before I request it from the library. The books that are on my Great Pileup list are marked by a orange post it on the spine, which makes it easy to see at a glance what I haven't read yet if I feel like mood reading.

I really want to make one of these book jars. Maybe this will be my next day off project! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peer Pressure | Eight Books I MUST Read


I'm terrified by hype. It took me years to finally pick up Siege and Storm (and that was only because I was trying to clean out my Kindle...but more on that tomorrow). If a book becomes too popular before I've had the chance to read it, I get a little nervous about picking it up. My interpretation of today's TTT topic over at Broke and Bookish led me to this list...

1. Anything by Gayle Forman
2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
5. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
7. The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
8. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Have you read any of these books? Are there any that are worth the hype?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review | The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith

Title: The Geek's Guide to Dating
Author: Eric Smith {website}
Publication Date: December 2013
Publisher: Quirk Books
Source & Format: Library; hardcover

Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 
You keep your action figures in their original packaging. Your bedsheets are officially licensed Star Wars merchandise. You’re hooked on Elder Scrolls and Metal Gear but now you’ve discovered an even bigger obsession: the new girl who just moved in down the hall. What’s a geek to do? Take some tips from Eric Smith in The Geek’s Guide to Dating. This hilarious primer leads geeks of all ages through the perils and pitfalls of meeting women, going on dates, getting serious, breaking up, and establishing a successful lifelong relationship (hint: it’s time to invest in new bedsheets). Full of whimsical 8-bit illustrations, The Geek’s Guide to Dating will teach fanboys everywhere to love long and prosper.

"What was once a derogatory terms for a socially inept person has now been taken back by a community of people proud to wear the title....We're eccentric, enthusiastic, intelligent, and, occasionally, kinda awkward" (Smith, 19). 

My favorite kind of people. 

The Geek's Guide to Dating is a down-to-earth, kind, funny book that makes dating not so scary. Ladies, although the book is guys, Smith makes a point to include the "gal geek," especially as he begins his advice. There are some sections that are more appealing to the dudes then the girls (I figured I could skip the facial hair tips), but the overall advice spoke of general dating tips, ideas that appealed to me, a "gal geek." 

This book stood out from the gobs of other dating advice for two reasons: one, it is aimed a particular demographic (but still delivers reliable dating advice) and two, has one of the best narratives I've found. Smith's narration was never dry or dull; as only a minor geek (M says I'm more of a nerd than a geek), I didn't pick up on a lot of the inside references to video games or lore, but reading this book on break felt like I was talking with a good friend instead of sitting outside with my salad. The easy nature of the narrative gave way to quick puns, clever tips, and made it easy to read Smith's work. 

One of the book's potential downfalls is the fact that it relates only to a certain demographic: the geeks. However, the advice inside the covers was stellar: I particularly loved the geek breakdown (the book nerd was my favorite!) and the date planning portion. Planning a date (especially an early date) is terrifying, but Smith's ideas, framed in geek references, makes it look simple and fun. 

THE RATING:

WHY:
- Loved the fun narrative
-Solid relationship and dating advice that can be used by everyone
- A fun read

RECOMMENDED FOR:
Geeks, nerds, tweebs and whatever other term is out there (is tweeb even a word? Or is that from a Molly Ringwald movie?) who need a little extra help with love and dating. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer of Sookie | Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

Title: Definitely Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publication Date: May 2006
Publisher: Ace Books
Series: Sookie Stackhouse {Book 6)
Source & Format: Owned; paperback
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
As a person with so few living relatives, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never guessed that it would be her cousin Hadley—a consort of the Vampire Queen of New Orleans. After all, technically speaking, Hadley was already dead. And now, as unexpected heir to Hadley’s estate, Sookie discovers the inheritance definitely comes with a risk. Someone doesn’t want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley’s past—or for that matter, Hadley’s possessions. And they’re prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. But who? The range of suspects runs from the Rogue Weres who reject Sookie as a friend of the Pack to the Vampire Queen herself, who could be working through a particularly vulnerable subject—Sookie’s first love, Bill.

Whoever it is, they’re definitely dangerous—and Sookie’s life is definitely on the line…


After the hiccups in Dead as a Doornail, I was so happy to see Definitely Dead got back on track. Definitely Dead stood as a full, completed novel instead of the segue books that are so often found in series. There are themes for the entire series running throughout each novel,  but the climax and resolution for Definitely Dead left me feeling good. 

This installment veers away from the mad-love-for-Sookie spell that the men of Bon Temps had fallen under. Thankfully. Instead, Sookie's love life becomes dramatic in a different way. Her new beau holds more power in the supernatural world than she realizes, and Bill's reaction creates a love triangle (of sorts) that was much more enjoyable to read. Quinn loves Sookie for who she is, not what she smells like or her novelty telepathy. 

Bill and Sookie's relationship (or what remains of it) takes a new turn in Definitely Dead. One of Bill's deepest secrets comes to light and I loved the changes his revelation took on the story. 

There is an underlying disconnect when it comes to Harris's plots. The "someone [who] doesn't want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley's past" didn't keep me enthralled; honestly, I forgot about it. The complex storyline of the queen took the stage and I fell in love with the story of Hadley and her royal lover. It was a more complex plot line, and one that introduced another paranormal group of characters: witches. This minor plot didn't have enough oomph to save the main story of Definitely Dead, but it picked it up! 

Definitely Dead left me wanting more from the Sookie series, but in the best way possible. I couldn't wait to get started on All Together Dead (luckily, I had it waiting on my bookshelf). 

THE RATING: