Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Wrap Up | Giveaway!

Wow, has January been a busy month! I don't think I've been this prolific in the entire year of 2015, if I were honest. Dozen original posts, old reviews and new reviews in abundance, it's no wonder you could barely keep up!

To help you make sure you didn't miss a thing, here is a roundup of January!

MY READING MONTH
My reading month absolutely sucked, if I were honest. I kind of lost my reading mojo, which is the worst thing that could happen to me on the first month of the blog being active, but there you go. I just... didn't read. And when I did, I wasn't feeling any of it--even one of my greatest anticipations of 2016 didn't manage to get me out of the funk! 

I ended up dnfing two of the books above (which are not in my reading challenge, don't fret. They were there just to remind me to properly write their reviews lol)

However, you can expect reviews for all of the books above, so at least I'm not behind on the reviewing aspect of things, right? 
Currently Reading
Haha, I know - two heavy lifters! Hoping these two will bring back the mojo!

POSTS
         

REVIEWS
                  
 


GIVEAWAY! 
As promised in this post, after a month long extravaganza showcasing all the 2015 reads I adored, you can now enter for a chance to win one of my 2015 favorites: 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Of Beast and Beauty, Shadow Study, Written in Red, Vicious, The Book Thief, Doing it For Love, Deerskin, The Duff, Heart Shaped Hack, Uprooted, Shadow and Bone, Unearthly, A Rusk University book, Scarlet (not reviewed this month), Blue Lily Lily blue (not reviewed this month)
OR another book in the series if you've already read the book above. 

Giveaway rules:
1. This giveaway is international, as long as The Book Depository ships to your country. 
2. If you're under 18, you need to have parental permission to enter this giveaway. 
3. If you follow by mail, you must confirm the subscription for the option to count! 
4. The winner will have 48 hours to answer my winning email. If he/she fails to do so, another winner will be chosen. 
5. Don't cheat, I check entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 29, 2016

Series Review: The Rusk University Series by Cora Carmack (Favorites Extravaganza: Day #14)

So, if you've been following this month long extravaganza filled with favorite books all leading up to an awesome giveaway, you know I've been posting reviews for my 2015 favorites all month long.

What you don't know is that adding to those thirteen books are three other books you could chose from at the end of the month. and because I never actually wrote reviews for them, here is a sort-of-kinda series review ;)

The Rusk University Series
All Lines Up // All Broke Down // All Played Out by Cora Carmack 
First Published: 2014 / 2014 / 2015 
Own Kindle
New Adult, Romance

I love Cora Carmack. She is seriously one of my favorite contemporary writers, possible the favorite when it comes to the budding new adult genre. She write sweet, cute, believable romances that value the story and the characters more than it does steamy scenes and physical attraction, which is something I appreciate when so many in the NA genre relay on sex to carry their novels.

And her newest series of companion novels surrounding the players and people connected to a Texas college football team is trademark Carmack.

To say I devoured these books would be an understatement. It took me barely a day to finish each book in the series, and I immediately wanted the next. They're just good.

They don't need excessive drama or over the top circumstances to fuel the plot, they just need their two leads--be it Dallas & Carson, Dylan & Silas or Nell & Mateo and the cast of characters surrounding them.

The stories are different, but the chemistry, journey and addictive-ness is all the same, no matter which book you chosen to read.

Honestly, when people are looking for contemporary novels, Carmack and her books are at the top of my list, every time.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

How To Name a Blog

I don't know about you, but I have a really hard time naming things. I tend to go toward names that are really long and I love them because they're like sentences, which was how I came up with the name of my first blog - Drugs Called Books.

But these type of names also tend to be clumsy and a bit tedious after time. For this blog, I wanted something simpler. Something that will have this punch and would convey everything I want to say about the blog in one simple word.

And for the longest time, I actually wanted to call it THE UNDERWORD. 

You know, like what's under the words? A world for what you can find between the words, of my opinions, of what I truly think. And this just stuck with me. So when I started working with Amanda, the amazing designer for the blog, I told her about this name.

I was really excited for it, too.

But then Amanda asked me some questions. Really important ones.
"If you've got a Pinterest account, making a private board that you can store inspiration onto would be fantastic. When I say inspiration, I mean just anything you like the look of, pin it and collect images that make you feel the things you want to feel about your blog - happy, positive, motivated - just images that you like really...

Choose 7-10 words you want to use to describe your new blog. They could be anything, like: personal, comforting, delicate, bold, powerful, inspiring - just words that you feel would fit your future blog.

Other small things (although important) would be a name [it might be worth brainstorming what you want this new blog to be, thinking of the type of content you want it to have and working that way, I can help with that if you want/need it] so I can practice and play around with different looks.... 
Those things ended up making me understand The Underword was just not the right name for this blog.

First, I started with a Pinterest board for it because, let's be honest, it's just great fun so why the heck not?
As you can see, most of the images I added to this board were dark and going toward the deep blue. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, expect that I realized that this type of feel was, essentially, fantasy. Same as The Underword, with it's obvious Underworld connotation, is very darkly fantastical. 

And I love fantasy... but thinking about the words I wanted to represent my blog, and what I wanted it to be, Amanda's two other requests from me, it just didn't match. Because the words I came up with were personal, versified, inspiring, positive, free style and safe harbor.

I want this blog to be my home away from home, my place to talk about everything and nothing at all - ordinary things that have nothing to do with books, opinions I can't let out anywhere else, inspirations and aggravations and yes, books. Because that's just one of my favorite things in the world. But I don't read just fantasy, either.

I didn't want to limit my blog to something fantastical. And while I loved my original idea of it - of the Underword as this magical place underneath seemingly ordinary stuff, hiding underneath the regular world, no none can deny The Underworld (and by associations The Underword) is dark and gritty, even if what's underneath words and what words create is everything and anything at all.

That's not what this blog is about.

This blog is something open and free and real

You can ask Amanda how truly hard it was for me to discard this name. I literally told her I was set on the Underword about a dozen different times, told her this was the name I saw my future blog having in my head, that this is what stuck.

And then one day, I came to her and told her I was going with Afterwords instead.

Simple as that.

Afterwords has a very definitive connotation to reading. But it doesn't have to be - Afterwords are literally words that come after something, which is exactly what I'm doing in this blog. After I read something, watch a show, be in a certain situation, I come here to talk about it.

So those are my words, after the fact. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (Favorites Extravaganza: Day #13)

2015 Favorites Extravaganza: Day #13

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly #1
First Published: 2011
Kindle Edition
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . .
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.
I wrote and re-wrote this review about three times. Maybe more. It took me about a month to finally post it at all, and I wasn't sure I was ever going to get there. For once, it's not because I don't have what to say. It's because I have too much and I just don't know how to put it down in writing or what to focus on and it's driving me nuts.

It's been a long, long time since I've read such a solid and well balanced contemporary YA fantasy. Especially one that's an angel book. And, to be honest, I really wasn't expecting this to be this good; this well rounded; to have all the elements I'm looking for in a story.

First of all, the whole concept here is refreshing and well thought out. It's obvious the author knew exactly what she was going for and not only that - knew what she wanted to develop it into. We don't learn everything in this book. Far from it. We're given enough so we understand everything that's happening, while making it clear a lot of vital information is still missing from this puzzle and will be unraveled in the future. I love that.

I loved Clara, the main character. Geez, when was the last time I read of a YA heroine who is level headed, logical, rational and real. Who fights for what she wants and for her life. Who is willing to listen. Who doesn't give up. Who is actively working on her life and not just... waiting for something to happen--Especially when the whole plot actually revolves around waiting for a certain event to happen?

This was so precious to me. I was 100% behind Clara and with her.

And then, the romance? My god. I was so afraid of the romance because the synopsis seems to tease Insta love and I am happy to inform the synopsis is lying! No insta love for this book, thank god. Just a case of insta attraction which is a-okay with me. Instead, we've got delicious, slow burn built up between two people who I think are meant to be together and asdfghjkl so many feels.

Is there a love triangle? Kinda. We do have two boys.

The first is Christian, the guy who Clara uprooted her whole family for. He's sweet, nice, kind of removed... but I didn't feel much towards him. He's, to me, not appealing. There isn't too much to him, and even when he was nice to Clara it never felt like he was really invested in her.

The second? Love of my life, light of my soul, what else could a girl want when she's got the sweet and layered rancher Tucker Avery in her life (romantically wise, anyways)? He starts off as the guy who teases and makes fun of Clara, in a rather fun manner. Then he grows to be more, showing her around the place and being sweet af and just... I can't with this guy.

Don't need to tell you which team shirt I'm gonna buy, is there?

Then we've got the surrounding relationships in the book which were all wonderful. The siblings in this novel love each other. They are also a pain in each other's butts, but when they need each other they are there for them. It's so realistic and heartwarming and I loved it.

Then we have the parental relationship between Clara and her Mom which was a big part of the story. I loved their relationship, even as we watched it begin to fracture underneath the weight of secrets and lies and destiny. But their love was never in question. 

And everyone in this story are such good friends to one another. Good, real, healthy friendships. You've no idea how much I miss those in literature sometimes. 

I highly recommend this novel to everyone who love YA and fantasy, and I will most definitely read the sequels! 
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2016 TBR!

As any Book Lover can testify, our tbr list tend to be longer than The Great Wall of China. I hold no illusions I can ever finish it, but... I do believe I can clean my physical selves of the pesky un-read books.

This post is dedicated to all of the books I own as of January 1st that I vow to read in 2016. So, you know, these are some of the reviews you can expect *Wink*

NEXT IN SERIES PILE
Not pictured: Beautiful Darkness, World After. I'm actually doing fairly well with this TBR! :3
Those are really my top priority as they are seconds and more in series that I've already started, and I'd like to continue with them before starting new series (#IAlreadyKnowThisIsGoingToFail).

STANDALONE PILE
This is my second priority, because reading these books is not a commitment to another series and extra books, so I feel like I'm actually cleaning my tbr when I'm reading them. Which is why it's also the smallest lol

THE NEW SERIES PILE
Not Pictured: The Circle, Defiance, Breathe, Born Wicked, The Eternal Ones, Confessions of a Murder Suspect, Prophecy of the Sisters, Partials, Delirium, The Madman's Daughter, Wicked, Tunnels, The Gift, Clockwork Scarab, Crewel, Deviants. Doing less well with this one lol
We all have this tbr. The series that blow up or we suddenly find that we have to get even though we have three dozen series we're already reading. This one is my last priority, as I want to finish the series I'm currently reading first (or at least some of them) & because they guarantee that I'll just expend my tbr with their sequels ;) 

You can come back to this post throughout the year and watch as slowly (but hopefully surely) books are crossed off as I read them!