Jan 2, 2017

New Year & Goals


This past year flew by! It feels like it's been so long since I sat in front of the computer and written here even though it hasn't been that long. In all honesty, I have struggled to keep this blog going this year. At some point, I think I became unsatisfied with the way I changed my reviews to be really simple like I had originally made them. I am not sure how, or if, I will be writing my reviews from this time forward, but I really want to get back to actually doing it.

I also became a more active booktuber, and my channel has been slowly growing. I post videos almost every week and have really enjoyed that. But this has also caused me to neglect this little blog over here. I plan to change that this year. While I am still getting comfortable being in front of the camera, I find myself most comfortable here. This blog has been a part of me for almost 8 years now, and I love it so much, I can't imagine it not existing.

So like the past few years, with the new year, I figured the best way to jump right back into my blog was to post my goals for the new year. These past few years, my resolutions have been easy. And I want to keep them that way, but also challenge myself just a bit. Here goes nothing...

On books and reading: 
  • I've made my Goodreads reading challenge 52 books these past few years, but this year, I want to try and surpass that goal. 
  • I want to try and read all the unread books on my shelves
  • Limit my book buying (I haven't bought a book since October, so I am doing pretty well there!)
  • Read all the ARC's/e-ARC's I have ever received.
Blogging and stuff:
  • Review most (if not all) the books I read. I have failed so terribly at this. BUT I can have a fresh start
  • Post at least once a week *fingers crossed*
  • Clean up the blog - I transitioned back to Blogger and have tons of broken links, posts that need readjustments, and maybe a few that need to be deleted. I want to focus on fixing and revamping my blog so that I love it again. 
Stay healthy and happy: I did well in staying healthy for the most part and regularly go to the gym these days. This year, I want to disregard my weight loss, and focus more on looking and feeling fit, run more, and maybe, finally participate in a runDisney race. I also want to have another really happy year :)

Dec 15, 2016

Excerpt + Giveaway! | Lost in Shadows by Anita DeVitos





Lost in Shadows by Anita DeVito
Series: Lost, #2
Publication: 12.12.2016 by Entangled Publishing
Format: E-book
Source: Publisher
Rating: N/A

Private security entrepreneur Jeb McCormick is in over his head with his latest client. Not only is the painfully shy woman he’s meant to be protecting a total knock-out, she’s also his former Army buddy’s sister. Helping her find the reason why anyone would ransack her house is demanding enough, but keeping his hands off her is proving to be the real challenge.

Carolina Walker wants a quiet life, thank you very much. She left intrigue and deception behind in Washington D.C., never expecting it to follow her home to Bowling Green, Kentucky. When events happen that can’t be explained away, help arrives in the form of the very attractive and muscular Jebediah McCormick. But as the tension escalates between Jeb and Carolina, so does the danger facing them…

Each book in the Lost series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.

Excerpt:

Less than an hour later, Carolina practically skipped through the large department store, laughing as she held Jeb’s hand. True to his word, he wore his game face, and what crowds there were parted to let them pass. No one paid attention to her. One look at his hard face and eyes stayed riveted there until he had passed. For the first time in her life, she made it through the cosmetic area without being mobbed by pushy saleswomen.

Being burdened with packages like a pack mule didn’t lessen the effect of his game face. Although she noticed he earned more than a few sympathetic looks from husbands and boyfriends who were themselves weighted down by frilly bags. She grinned at him, carefree and happy.

“Enjoying yourself?” he growled.

“Immensely. I never understood why people enjoyed going to the mall. This is totally surreal.” She laughed softly. “You know, all these people think you are my boyfriend and that I have you…what’s the expression?”

“Pussy-whipped. And you knew the expression. I’m sure you read it in a book. I thought you said you were just picking up a few things. Why did we have to go to that store twice?”

“I wasn’t sure the dress was the right one the first time. I had to be sure, didn’t I?”

“No,” he muttered.

She dismissed him with a wave of her hand. “I’ll order the rest online, but shipping takes a few days. I need enough to get by.”

“How much more could you need? A guy would buy five pairs of underwear, two pair of jeans and three shirts. Good for a month.”

She stopped outside a store selling bras and panties. “I, uh, think I’ll go in this one alone.”

He raised an eyebrow and looked in the window. “I don’t know. I do have some expertise in this area.”

She blushed and pointed to a set of metal benches guaranteed to be as uncomfortable as they were ugly. “Go.”

“Fine. But in case you were wondering, I’m partial to push-up bras, thongs, and that little thing in the corner of the window over there.”

She waited until he sat on the bench with the armload of bags spread out next to him. He gave her a wink and resumed intimidating the world.



Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo
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Check out the other books in the Lost series:

Giveaway:

Thanks to Author's Pal for hosting this tour, providing me with the e-book for review, and offering you a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Nov 22, 2016

Unfinished Reads | Summer 2016


A Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin

While it's very interesting, I was reading this for about 4 months and only got about 100 pages into it because it was so dense.

Instead, I ended up watching the show and loved it so much, that I do plan on giving this series another chance soon. I definitely want to try reading this again but plan on reading it at a slow pace then as well.

Rating: DNF

Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler

I was really excited to finally read this one after putting it off for years, especially since I had met the author a couple times.

Unfortunately, I found to be the main character and her parents to be unbearable. I hated the dialogue, the main character's thoughts, and the entire plot was just ugh to me. I was really disappointed with how much I disliked this one, but will definitely give this author another chance with other work. I technically "finished" this one but I really only skimmed the last half to find out what actually happened.

Rating: ★

The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond

There were a couple things that bothered me from the start, but the mostly farfetched beginning had me rolling my eyes, and I knew it was a bad start. I had a hard time liking the main character, or her parents. Also, the romance seemed very unrealistic.

I got about 21% into it before I decided I wasn't really interested in continuing.

Rating: DNF


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

This was my first Vonnegut book and I was pretty excited because of the praise this author receives. Not sure if it was this book, or if maybe I am not going to be a fan of his writing, but Slaughterhouse-Five was so lame. Half the time I was wondering what in the world was going on, who was narrating the story, and really, what was the point? But I really wanted to push through so instead of continuing to read it, I downloaded an audiobook copy of it instead of hoping I'd get through it that way.

Wrong. I found myself daydreaming for a lot of it, and having to rewind it constantly to catch what I had missed. About 40% of the way through, I decided to give up. I definitely want to look into more of Vonnegut's books; there are plenty to pick from. I hope I have better luck with the next one.

Rating: DNF

Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson

I wasn't feeling it; the writing felt choppy and I wasn't liking the main character or the immense amount of characters that she meets in the first few pages.

Maybe it's the ARC copy I have, but I wasn't really interested in finishing this one. Only read about 30 pages /:

Rating: DNF

Aug 9, 2016

Read + Giveaway! | It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover



Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.

Colleen Hoover has the magical ability to keep me up way past my bedtime to read her books. I was up until 3AM reading It Ends With Us. Then after sleeping for a few hours, I woke up and continued reading it. To say that It Ends With Us is an emotional roller coaster that broke my heart is an understatement.

I literally had no idea what It Ends With Us was about, but as soon as I was offered the opportunity to take another part in CoH0's newest book, I jumped at the chance. After reading one of her previous books, she easily became one of my favorite authors, and I think I will read anything that she writes from this moment forward. Once I had a copy, though, I didn't read the synopsis, because I hardly ever do, and dove right into this without the slightest idea what to expect.

Woah.

I can't say much about It Ends With Us without spoiling the story, but this book is so much more than just a romance. CoHo is known for taking a romance and twisting it a certain way that literally breaks your heart, and It Ends With Us is probably her most emotional book. And it's so difficult to write my feelings without giving anything anyway that I don't know what to say.

Things I loved about It Ends With Us 

- All the characters
- That it made me laugh (in public = I got lots of stares)
- That it made me cry (real tears, I even sobbed a few times)
- That it's a romance
- But also deals with tough stuff
- The story line
- The unexpected things that I don't even see coming
- How it helped me understand things I didn't before about a very difficult subject
- It hurt my heart
- Made me feel all kinds of feels
- The ending
Things I didn't love about It Ends With Us

- It kept me up until 3AM
- That I am done reading it

I guess it's easy to see that I very much loved It Ends With Us and am Colleen Hoover's newest, biggest fan. I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves romance, contemporary, adult fiction, books about tough subjects, and everyone else. This book is amazing and definitely one of my new favorites.



Jul 21, 2016

Update & Some Things



After attempting to post lots of new stuff around here and get all active and everything, I didn't. Not because I didn't want to but because things happened. I'm not sure what exactly now and realized I wasn't even stressed about it as much as I normally would've been. Partly because this is my blog and I do what I want, and another part because it feels like I hardly have readers nowadays. And that's actually okay.

With that being said, I do have plans to continue blogging (duh) but have also started a YouTube channel (again.) If you've followed me for a while, you'll know that back when The Story Siren was popular with her IMM posts, I started up a YT channel. But I am so awkward in front of a camera that it was short lived. Well, guess what? I restarted my channel! I am just as awkward but I am getting a little more comfortable with it and am editing better and so far it's going okay.

But with that becoming my priority, I was also neglecting this little blog over here. So I decided to compromise. I realized I feel like I haven't been posting interesting content on my YT channel, and I haven't been posting anything here at all, so I was trying to think of ways that I could remain active on both, and the answer is quite simple: not to do too much at once. Even though I only started my channel a couple weeks ago, I already feel myself pressuring myself to put out videos about three times a week. That's a lot! Not only is there filming and editing, but what am I even supposed to film about?! I've found myself doing more tags and readathons than anything else, and that's not really the point of what I wanted to share on there.

I've also found myself buying an overwhelming amount of books. I had done really well in limiting myself to buying less, but recently discovered so many new books that it's almost impossible to not buy them all.

So I've come up with a plan that might or might not work out, that involves both my blog here and my channel over there, that keeps my spending money on books at a minimum, and is less stressful to me. And more of a note to myself, here are my plans.

  • Post a video/blog post about book haul and to be read pile

  • Tag/meme/feature

  • Unboxing video/blog post with feature or other

  • Monthly wrap up of all books read for the month

That seems easy enough to accomplish and I am looking forward to starting fresh (yet again) because really, I love sharing my thoughts on books to all you out there. Happy reading :)

Jul 20, 2016

Reading Harry Potter as an Adult | Harry Potter and the Chamber ofSecrets


The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?


Confession time: I didn't like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that much
reading it now as an adult.

I KNOW.

I'm not sure if maybe I never noticed before, but Chamber of Secrets is probably my least favorite book in the series. It makes me a little sad.

A lot of sad actually.

But it's a different experience reading these now that I am not very close to Harry Potter's age, and I'm only just realizing how crazy dangerous some of these events are and he's just a child (again, I feel so McGonagall saying that, but it's true!)

I have to also admit that there were a few things that I disliked, and even found a little annoying. For example, I didn't really like Dobby, who never really bothered me before. I never really adored him or anything but now I had a difficult time seeing what the appeal was to him in the first place. Is that terrible?

Just writing this is depressing me, but I'll point out that I am rating this one three stars this time around which is lower than I ever thought I would rate a Harry
freaking Potter book.

I am looking forward to reading the third book in the series, but also a little terrified. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favorites (the favorite) because it introduces the character of Sirius Black (who is for sure, my favorite) but what if I don't love it as much?! I'm scared I'll come to the end of the series and feel like I've been living a lie LOL.

That's impossible, though...right?