Tuesday, July 22, 2014

If I Stay.


Title/Author: If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

Genre: YA.

Publisher: Penguin Group.

Source: Purchased.


SynopsisOn a day that started like any other, Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving. ~Goodreads.com

Midnyte Musings:  Warning:  This review contains some spoilers! 

Wow.  Just wow.  And all the other cliches, like squee, OMG and add some emo gifs too.  I've had this book for years and yes, I've heard how amazing it was and how wonderful and how OMG it was.  But you know, contemporary is not truly my thing so there it sat on my TBR shelf.  Until I saw the trailer for the movie.  One scene in particular moved me, when the grandfather told her that she still had family.  Aw geez, kill me now. 

I read this book in two days.  Two.  Me.  Yes, me.  The one who takes so long to read.  Once I picked it up, it was very hard to put down.  Yeah, it is heartbreaking yet so worth reading.

This story is told by Mia in first person and her voice has a wonderful, easy flow.  The reader gets to know her through a series of flashbacks and we meet her family, her best friend and her boyfriend.  She is basically an open book without a lot of angst.  I loved that Mia had such supportive parents.  Parents that are cool and hip and that she gets along with.  I love that she has a younger brother she adores and that she is really a happy, well adjusted teen.  Her boyfriend Adam is an up and coming musician in the punk rock scene and I can see why he is so many people's book boyfriend.  Charming and smart and pretty much irresistable.  I love how Mia and Adam go through their rocky phases and their tiffs because of their different interests and personalities.  It's not all soda pop and roses, which makes them and their relationship all the more real.

Mia is caught in a kind of limbo where she is not dead, yet she is not in her comatose body either.  She is now relegated to observing those around her and their reactions to her accident.  She learns she loses her parents and then she loses her younger brother.  She is devastated and wonders how she will be able to deal with the grief if she does wake up.  One nurse told her family members that the decision is up to her, not the doctors and not modern medicine.  One thing though that Mia has issues with is the feeling of her belonging and now that her her immediate family is gone, those fears are prominent.  She doesn't know how she can go on without them and she doesn't want to be "the girl who survived."  How will she cope?  She realizes with the help of a very smart nurse, that whether she decides to fight and come out of her coma or whether she releases herself and passes on, is her choice.  The choice is not obvious, at least not to her.  What would you do in such a situation?

The writing is just gorgeous.  And not only that, it is smart and insightful.  The two observations I absolutely love are "Seventeen is an inconvenient time to be in love, along with the idea that a person is everything they have, even what they have lost.   I'm not one to read everything that everyone else has read, but I found If I Stay to be touching and captivating.

Starstruck Over:  This is pretty much a perfect book. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

BB Buzz Tour - Parajunkee & her Book Blogger Survival Guide!




For today's Book Blogger Buzz Tour stop, I am honored to have the unstoppable Rachel from Parajunkee on my blog today.  Rachel has not only helped me personally with her features and advice,  I would say she has helped the entire Book Blogging Community. Today she gives tips on how to navigate the sometimes murky waters of staying sane in the blogging world.

Are you creative or just depressed?  A mental survival guide for bloggers. 

A Book Blogger Survival Guide from Parajunkee

  1. Stay organized. Among the top things that I recommend to any blogger is to keep on top of organization. This is the main reason we stress out. Forgetting posts, forgetting to read a book in time for a release date, flaking on a blog tour. If you stay on top of your calendars, this is a good way to keep the stress level down and keep your mental state nice and happy.
  2. Read for you. Pick your own ratio, but I would say for every 5 review books, read 1 book for you. Make it an event, like you go to the library every three weeks and pick 1 book just for you. The reason I say one book, is that more books will lead to stress.
  3. Be honest. No matter what, write honest reviews. Don't EVER worry about what other people (author, publisher, fans) will think.
  4. Keep a journal. Write in a journal, long-hand and write out just fun things, or jot down notes about the books you are reading.
  5. Pros & Cons If you are feeling the pressure, make a pros and cons list. If your cons are outweighing your pros, maybe take a blogging hiatus. It doesn't have to be a forever hiatus - just maybe a week.
  6. Keep "real life" hobbies. Make sure you have other hobbies that are not online. I like to garden, make really crappy crafts, paint and sketch. It gets me away front the computer. And destresses me after a day online.
  7. Keep your priorities straight. Never put your blogging above your personal relationships. Unless your personal relationships really suck. Then you might want to reevaluate them. :D
  8. Ignore the stupids. Every now and again a negative trollish comment comes through, or someone sends you a crappy email that just ruins your day. The best thing to do is ignore it, mock it or laugh it off. Hard to do, but it saves mental anguish.
  9. Stop criticizing yourself You are your worst enemy. Stop basing yourself if you don't meet your blogging goals, don't like a book you really wanted to like or get negative feedback from a publisher or author because of a review. Don't blame yourself and don't let it get you down.
  10. Try something new. If you are feeling rather repetitive. Switch up your review style or try a non-book related post. Keeping things fresh can sometimes change everything!
  11. Own it. It is your blog. Do whatever you want with it. Don't let anyone tell you to blog, or how to post, or what to have on your sidebars. You can use tips and tricks as a guideline, if you want, but basically do what you feel works for you!
  12. Chug along. Move at your own pace. You do not have to blog every day. You don't have to read every day. If you can't read a book an hour, like some reviewers claim - who cares. I couldn't imagine having to write a review for all those books! Be happy you can't read that fast.
  13. Support Staff. Make friends with other bloggers. If you are feeling a little bit off, maybe discuss it with another blogger. Don't be afraid to bring up a controversial topic, especially if it is in confidence. Take to emailing back and forth, or chatting in a private message, instead of twitter convos.
  14. Keep your nose clean. If something is going on, especially drama - the best thing to do is stay out of it. Stay away from the RANT posts, or the opinionated posts if you are not prepared to to deal with the repercussions. Because there is a 50/50 chance that those repercussions might be negative. Unless you have a really good reason to post about a hot-button issue, maybe keeping your nose out of it is for the best.
  15. Delegate. If blogging chores become too involved, think about taking on a co-blogger or part-time reviewer. You might be surprised at how much of a help they can be.
About the Author:
Rachel, whom you might know as Parajunkee, is the blog owner of parajunkee.com and the design blog parajunkee.net. Rachel has been blogging for over five years, designing / web programming for over twelve, but her real love, reading, has been her favorite hobby since childhood. Rachel has won numerous awards for her writing, the blogs she has created and her design work. You can find Parajunkee on her blog or Twitter.



July Buzz Tour Schedule:

  • 07/01/14 Mama Kitty Reviews appearing on Me & Reading.
    Topic: Reading for Enjoyment vs. Reading for Reviewing - the difference in reading for enjoyment and the toll that reading review copies has done to our hobby. 
  • 07/10/14 Second Run Reviews appearing on Bibliognome.
  • Topic: Books you feel need more attention. A top ten list. Tell why you think they need to be read by everyone.
  • 07/14/14 Bibliognome appearing on Chapter Break.
  • Topic: You've been asked to write a short story starring a gnome character, what would the gnome be named and how would the story go?
  • 07/17/14 Reading Black & White appearing on My Midnight Fantasies.
  • Topic: What are those wonderful things you see in other blogger's reviews and think are wonderful? Or what do you like to see in other blogger's reviews?
  • 07/21/14 Parajunkee appearing on Midnyte Reader.
  • Topic: Are you creative or just depressed? A mental survival guide for bloggers.
  • 07/24/14 Janelle Reads appearing on Parajunkee.
  • Topic: What trends do you want to see next in book blogging? 
  • 07/31/14 Harlequin Junkie appearing on Janelle Reads.
    Topic: Dealing with your first negative review from an author you've enjoyed connecting with on social networks.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Script Magic - Guest Post by Erica Nunes.


There are many ways to go about writing, as many ways as there are genres to write about.  A common ailment of writers is the dreaded writers block. How does one get over it, move past and get down and dirty with the words?  I found a way.  Maybe it will work for you.

When I was in 6th grade my family and I briefly moved to a tiny town in Michigan called Walled Lake. Having grown up in South Eastern Massachusetts it was a bit of culture shock, pop was not music but something you drank, suckers were lollipops, and when I asked for jimmies on my ice cream I was told he no longer worked there, things were strange. The largest shock for me however, was due to the differences in grade structure. Although at home I had already been in middle school for a year in Michigan, I was dragged back to elementary school, to the uncool world of cartoon lunch boxes and sweatsuits. Oh, the horror! So to my classmates, I was the cool kid with my suede boots, vest  and with my mile high bangs (showing my age).

To keep up this facade I decided my best course of action would be to be a bit of a trouble maker, but keeping true to my good girl character talking out of turn, a lot, was the only bad girl behavior I was comfortable with. This resulted in punishment. My teacher, Mr. Doorlag's favorite punishment was indoor recess during which you were required to write, the amount of how many words required were in direct correlation to how tightly wound his bow tie was that day, no doubt. Little did I know this punishment was one of the best things to happen to me in regards to my love of writing.

In a hilariously, ironic twist, this article 
was written on my i-pad.
The words weren't profound, the stories weren't elaborate,  the grammar was no doubt atrocious (honestly still haven't mastered that particular skill), but the physical act of writing the words in my handwriting was what sparked my love of the written word.

Flash forward lots of years and I found myself in college for the second time around. There were many essays to write, many research and reflection papers, each time I sat down at the computer to write I found myself surfing the web or refreshing my news feed for the umpteenth time and daydreaming of my next tv show streaming marathon. I was drowning in technology every time. Did I really have writers block? Was that really a thing? Then I remembered my 6th grade self and papers of idle chatter whose words flowed out of my number two, and it hit me...

Write. Actual physical writing. Putting pen to paper and connecting to my words was like magic. Somehow this visceral act ignited my inner Shakespeare, well okay not Shakespeare but Meyer maybe?  It allowed me to stay away from the computer and it's beeping distractions and focus on the ideas in my mind. A secondary benefit of writing through this method comes during the editing phase. You have to transfer your beautiful chicken scratch to a digital format eventually right? During this process re-reading your work and typing it word for word is an easy way to come at it with fresh eyes, make adjustments, add, edit and in my case, fix the menagerie of grammatical errors.

So the next time you find yourselves staring down the pixels, pick up a blank notebook and your writing utensil of choice take a deep breath and get in touch with the ancient art of script.



Erica Nunes is a young housewife and mom of three living in South Eastern Massachusetts. Her passion for all things creative is manifested primarily in her makeup artistry, fine arts, and writing, with aspirations of becoming impossibly rich as a result of any or all of the aforementioned talents, or those not yet discovered, while remaining entirely gracious and humble.










Copyright: anyka / 123RF Stock Photo 

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Bone Season.

Title/Author: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon.

Narrators: Alana Kerr.


Genre: Fantasy.

Publisher: Audible for Bloomsbury.

Source: Library.


Synopsis: It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.


But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.


Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

Midnyte Musings:  I really didn't know what to expect from The Bone Season.  I picked it up at the library without ever hearing about it or the hype that went with it.  I can understand the excitement over it.  It is a unique, creative and lovely story. The world building is dynamic as Shannon tackles a re-written history starting from the early 20th Century which includes supernatural abilities and a Dystopian society.  However, not all is at it seems. 

Main character Paige Mahoney starts off by working for an underground criminal citadel utilizing her own unique talent, dreamwalking, which means she can infiltrate other people's dreamscape.  She is useful and important to her crime lord and is just trying to keep her head low and avoid trouble.  One day, she gets kidnapped and taken to a community long since believed to be defunct where she is basically a slave to an alien race of humanlike beings with more power than she can imagine.  She is forced to make difficult decisions.  She can succumb to her new life or she can die.  But perhaps there is another choice.  With the subtle help of her Warden, Octorus the alien who takes her into his home and trains her for work, she realizes that maybe there is another choice.  Fight back. 

Paige is an amazing character.  We get to know her by her actions, her memories and her choices.  She is street smart and brave.  Sometimes more reckless than is good for her.  As an Irish girl growing up in England, life was difficult for her until she found her niche in the underground crime syndicate. I also loved Nick, who Paige is in love with and misses terribly.  He is so kind and it is obvious that he cares about Paige, but I do not want to spoil any of the love story so that is all I will reveal.  Warden, the alien who "claimed" Paige is a very interesting character.  It is hard to know his true intentions and even Paige can't always figure them out.  In time, Paige and Warden build a trust in a world where it is hard to trust anyone.  The villainess,  Nashira is quite horrific and relentless in her quest to get what she wants and ruthless when she is crossed.

There is a lot of information in The Bone Season, names, slang, terms.  But it wasn't difficult for me to follow as it flowed within the context of the story.  I also found the writing lovely with snatches of gorgeous descriptions such as "...a smirk of a moon in the sky."

The only issue I had was sometimes I found myself hard pressed to imagine the details of the world and exactly where the characters were in the story. 

Narration:  Alana Kerr has the most beautiful voice I've ever heard in my entire life.  Period. Not only that, the way she performed this book was perfection.  Utilizing a melancholy tone that seemed to fit Paige, she brought the character to life with a slight Irish brogue, with heartfelt prose and realistic dialogue.  I felt Paige's turmoil, her sadness and despair.  I also felt her defiance.  It wasn't just Paige's voice Kerr did well, it was the whole book of characters done to perfection, in all accents and both genders.

Starstruck Over: I was charmed from the beginning by the lovely writing and narration.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Halfway to Horror Giveaway.



June is over and that means the 2014 Horror Reading Challenge is halfway over! Unfortunately, although it is my favorite genre, I only read one book.  Reader Fail!  But let's see how well the other participants did!

I Heart Reading - 13 Reviews.
The Writerly Reader - 6 Reviews.
Little Queen Rules - 6 Reviews.
Bride of the Book God - 4 Reviews.
Back to Books - 3 Reviews.
Cornerfold - 3 Reviews.
Betwixt Book Reviews - 1 Review.
Know it Not so Much - 1 Review.
Midnyte Reader - 1 Review.

Please check out all the Horror Reviews.

CONTEST:
~Win a $25.00 gift card from Amazon. 
~You don't have to be signed up for my 2014 Horror Reading Challenge to enter, however, those that have posted reviews will get that many extra entries that I will enter. (Example: If you have posted 3 reviews, you will get 3 extra entries.  But don't worry, everyone can still Tweet once a day for extra entries as well.)  

TO ENTER:
~Leave your name (use what I can announce on the blog if you win) and e-mail address on the Rafflecopter form. 
~That's it! No need to follow or Tweet unless you want extra entries.

RULES:
~Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter.
~Please see my contest policy HERE.
~This contest ends on July 9, 2014 at 12:15 am.
~If winner does not contact me within 72 hours (3 days) of my first e-mail, unfortunately another winner will be chosen.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck and thanks for visiting my blog!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Garden Ramblings - Ups and Downs

Garden Ramblings is a feature created by Karen from For What It's Worth Reviews.  I not only get blogging and book advice from Karen, but gardening too.  And because I want to be just like her, I decided to share what's "growing on" in and around my yard too.

I have a lot to catch you up on, since my last Garden Ramblings was at the beginning of May.  That month was a blur.  I had RT and BEA, which I still have to re-cap.

When I got back from RT, my seedlings were really coming along nicely.







I was hoping to plant them, but the best laid plans, etc., etc., etc., My side garden wasn't quite finished being mulched.  You can see below the side that has been mulched and the side that hasn't.  However, all the pruning and weeding has really allowed the Robin Hood Rose bush to really bloom.


And, I was hoping I'd be able to plant the vegetables in my vegetable garden.  But as you can see below, my attempts at making a fence just wasn't working out.  I was able to put in these metal posts (all by myself I may add), but I needed help with the actual fencing part.  My husband was afraid the deer (numerous in my area) and other animals would just be able to trample over the fencing so he bought wood posts and off I went to Home Depot to return the metal poles.


So BEA comes and goes and still no fenced in garden and unfortunately, all my little seedlings bit their own dust.  Even the tomatoes, which held on the longest, finally couldn't take not being replanted anymore and gave up the ghost.  



Over the past weekend my husband put up the wooden posts and this week we put up some of the fencing.  (Much sturdier). 


Remember my lovely NOLA balcony inspired garden from last year?  I had some issues there too.  I had a hard time finding Boston Ferns.  I found some at WalMart, but they weren't as big and lush as the ones I found at Home Deport last year.  Ah well.  My husband's roses are doing great, but my Tea Roses...not so much.  A lot of branches died and I really had to cut them back.  Also, more Black Spot like I had last year.  

One of my sad rose bushes. 

The other sad rose bush.  You can see the Black Spot on the leves.  With a lot of care, and staying on top of the Black Spot, some Tea Roses should still bloom.  I still love the way my NOLA garden turned out.







So that's what's been going on in my yard.  How about yours?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Blogger Buzz Tour!

Book Blogger Buzz Tour, Win a Kindle Fire HD


The Book Blogger Buzz Tour is stopping here!

For the month of July, book bloggers are coming together to discuss books and blogging, stories and reading!  Not only that, we're also giving away a Kindle Fire or equal Amazon Gift Card or Paypal cash.  Winners choice!

I couldn't be more excited.  All the topics looks so interesting and fun and I cannot wait to see what tips, confessions and insights my fellow bloggers have to share.  So please join us!

July Buzz Tour Schedule:

  • 07/01/14 Mama Kitty Reviews appearing on Me & Reading.
    Topic: Reading for Enjoyment vs. Reading for Reviewing - the difference in reading for enjoyment and the toll that reading review copies has done to our hobby. 
  • 07/10/14 Second Run Reviews appearing on Bibliognome.
  • Topic: Books you feel need more attention. A top ten list. Tell why you think they need to be read by everyone.
  • 07/14/14 Bibliognome appearing on Chapter Break.
  • Topic: You've been asked to write a short story starring a gnome character, what would the gnome be named and how would the story go?
  • 07/17/14 Reading Black & White appearing on My Midnight Fantasies.
  • Topic: What are those wonderful things you see in other blogger's reviews and think are wonderful? Or what do you like to see in other blogger's reviews?
  • 07/21/14 Parajunkee appearing on Midnyte Reader.
  • Topic: Are you creative or just depressed? A mental survival guide for bloggers.
  • 07/24/14 Janelle Reads appearing on Parajunkee.
  • Topic: What trends do you want to see next in book blogging? 
  • 07/31/14 Harlequin Junkie appearing on Janelle Reads.
    Topic: Dealing with your first negative review from an author you've enjoyed connecting with on social networks.


 
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