31.7.16

Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2016!

Another month has come and gone so let's see what my reading month has been like! Below you will see what my stats were, my favourite releases, and my anticipated TBR for next month!

Reading Stats:

Total Books Read: 44 (OH MY GOD. I THOUGHT I HAD A SLOW MONTH)
Average Rating: 3/5 stars
Books Purchased: 21
Books Received For Review: 37 (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5)
Books Pre-ordered for Next Month: 3 (VICARIOUS, THE TELLING, THE RAT PRINCE)
Books Reviewed: 11

CRYSTAL CROWNED

Author: Elise Kova
Series: Air Awakens #5
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars
REVIEW!
Series Review!

Summary:
Long live Solaris.

One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

Purchase:

THREE DARK CROWNS

Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Untitled #1
Source: ARC via BBTC
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary:
Fans of acclaimed author Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood will devour her latest novel, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose...it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Purchase:

29.7.16

#Review: EVE & ADAM by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate

EVE & ADAM

Authors: Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate
Series: Eve & Adam #1
Source: Purchased from BookOutlet
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Summary:
And girl created boy…

In the beginning, there was an apple—

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect... won’t he?

Purchase:
This had an interesting premise but the story wrapped up too neatly and the writing wasn't doing it for me. Considering there are sequels, I was hoping for more of a cliffhanger ending than what we got. I was anticipating a bit of a genetic thriller (are those a thing? They should be a thing) where Eve creates this boy and they have to be on the run because it's illegal, but this novel wasn't really that at all.

28.7.16

#Review: JERKBAIT by Mia Siegert

JERKBAIT

Author: Mia Siegert
Source: Purchased from Chapters
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Summary:
Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself.

Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other's lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can't escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie's future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer.

As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie's secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27220352-jerkbait
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
One of the best things about Jerkbait was that while it was dark and raw, it was also hopeful and witty -- oh, and super gay! I really enjoyed the look at how young sports athletes feel pressure to be The Best™ and To Succeed™. I also really liked that Tristan was trying to figure out his own shit while also helping Robbie deal with his. I loved how family dynamics were shown in this one.

27.7.16

ARC #Review: GIFTED by H.A. Swain

 
Hello and welcome to my blog tour post for

GIFTED by H.A. Swain!

 Today I have a review of the book for you plus you can enter to win one of three finished copies of the book (US/Canada), which you DEFINITELY want! But first, let's learn more about the book...

GIFTED

Author: H.A. Swain
Source: ARC via Publisher
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary:
In Orpheus Chanson's world, geniuses and prodigies are no longer born or honed through hard work. Instead, procedures to induce Acquired Savant Abilities (ASAs) are now purchased by the privileged. And Orpheus's father holds the copyright to the ASA procedure.

Zimri Robinson, a natural musical prodigy, is a "plebe"--a worker at the enormous warehouse that supplies an on-line marketplace that has supplanted all commerce. Her grueling schedule and her grandmother's illness can't keep her from making music--even if it is illegal.

Orpheus and Zimri are not supposed to meet. He is meant for greatness; she is not. But sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. Here is a thriller, love story, and social experiment that readers will find gripping--and terrifying. 

Purchase:
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was a good mix of class issues, learning how to use your station to make a difference, and creation. I liked the idea of genius being bought and sold. I thought the beginning was a little slow but it picked up nicely and ended up being a really exciting novel.

26.7.16

#Review: THE THOUSAND NAMES by Django Wexler

THE THOUSAND NAMES

Author: Django Wexler
Series: The Shadow Campaigns #1
Source: Audiobook from Audible
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary:
Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel—but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic....

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

Purchase:
I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I was SUPER enthralled every time I was listening to it. I tried to listen only when I was doing chores and stuff and ended up just sitting on my bed and listening rather than doing anything. The storyline is really compelling and the characters are ones you really root for. However, I thought there could have been a bit more explanation at the end and I thought the first little bit was a bit thick with explanations. I also feel like there could have been a better handling of the races of the two warring factions because it reads really white but probably shouldn't based on the setting.

25.7.16

Discussion: Easy Organization!

I post across three blogs, so organization is KEY for me. I have o know when things are being post, on which blog, and in what time zone (those GMT-ers kill me). Being organized is the reason I have been so successful with everything I have done in my life, including blogging. And while I may have been using agendas at a young age, I'm going to give you guys some tips to staying organized even if you have never ever been organized before. There are two sections here: organizing your BLOG and organizing your READING SCHEDULE.


Organizing Your Blog

Try Out Lots of Different Systems

One thing I have found is that different systems work for different tasks. Don't be afraid to try out colour coding, bullet journaling, Google calendar, EVERYTHING!

If you are co-blogging, a good service to use is Team Up, which allows you to put up to 10 different calendars in one spot for free. This way you can see what you are posting across your blog and never double up! (Or at least not intentionally.) Team Up is also great for group projects in school so you can see when people are free and available for team meetings! I used it a lot in both university and my college courses and will for sure be using it again in my graduate studies.

It takes 28 days to break a habit, but only 30 seconds to make one. Set an alarm for a time every day you KNOW you can work on your scheduling/organizing and do it then. It will help keep you organized -- even if you only do it for 5 minutes before bed.


The ideal organization system is one that
  • Makes sense to you
  • You WANT to use
  • Isn't too complicated

Try this easy starter system for your blog:

  • Monday: Book Review
  • Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday
  • Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
  • Thursday: Discussion Post
  • Friday: Blog Tour/Freebie
  • Saturday: Fun Feature or Empty Day
  • Sunday: Stacking The Shelves
It doesn't matter what you do on those days, but make sure you make a system and stick to it! You can still be flexible, but to get organized, this is a quick and easy system that will get you started on your way to high organization!

Keep Everything in One Spot

You want to make sure that your schedule and ideas are in one location. You don't want to be searching all over to see if you wrote something in one place but saved it in another! My best advice is to save everything in Google Drive or another cloud-based system that you can access across multiple devices in multiple locations. That way, if you have inspiration or an idea, you can jot it down AND save it in the right spot.

If you are like me and always carry around a journal or a notebook, have a specific spot for blog post ideas or your scheduling ideas for the future. This is what I love (and dislike) about bullet journaling!

But try to choose ONE method. Of course, try out different ones to see what you stick to and what works best for you, but don't have too many places for your ideas or you will eventually lose them or double post (both have happened to me and I don't want you to make the same mistake!)

Don't Feel Guilty About Those Last Minute Posts

We all have them. We realize 30 minutes before they are supposed to go up that we actually haven't writen anything yet and scramble to do them. It has happened to all of us and will continue to happen even with the most perfect of organization systems.

The point of being organized is so that EVERY post doesn't feel like a last minute post. Even if 4 out of 5 posts for the week are last minute, at least you have that ONE you had finished a while ago!

Organizing Your Reading Schedule

This is where it gets to be a bit more ricky because reading is a hard thing to keep up on and is a very personal thing to me. Everyone reads differently and has different reading paces. So here are some things I recommend doing so that your ARCs don't pile up and you aren't scrambling to read everything in a short amount of time.


Prioritize Your TBR

If you are like me, you don't like making lists because then you NEVER READ THOSE BOOKS, but sometimes you have to finish a book by a certain date whether it is for the releases date or a blog tour. Those come first; however, don't FORCE yourself to read anything. Take breaks to read other books you may want to read first! This really helps me get into the groove for reading, espeically if I receive a highly anticipated release early or want to binge and entire series.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be responsible, however. If you are committed to a blog tour spot, make sure you follow through. Remember that most of these are promotional tours, so it's a good idea to read these ASAP in case you don't like the book and need to arrange something different with the host. It is ideal to give them at least a week's notice, but do not do less than 48 hours.

Try Participating In Some Reading Challenges!

Have some books you want to finish but aren't sure how to squeeze them in? Participate in reading challenges for the year! This will help you feel as though you are accomplishing something by reading! There are some great ones that allow you some flexibility to read pretty much whatever you want and knock off challenge prompts.

Reorganize Your Shelves

I know we don't all necessarily have time to do so, but I find that when I reorganize my shelves, I find book I may have forgotten about that I then read sooner than I would have if I hadn't touched my shelves.

TBR Jars

I personally don't use tese, but I know lots of people who do and are successful with them! Put your immediate TBR pile into the jar and pull them at random to spice up your reading! Alternatively, use this to have a bit of a break from the books you feel pressured to read but don't necessarily want to read right now

Reading Goals!

Jacquelyn (@jacquelynreads) has a method of creating Reading Goals that she wants to achieve (typically in a day but you could modify it to fit your reading schedule. She reads like a champ!) where you state how many pages in a book you want to get to in what you are currently reading. I find this super helpful and have included a couple of her photos below so you can see the types of goals she sets.

Change Reading Locations

Sometimes we get into a bit of a slump because our scenery doesn't change, so scope out a new place to read and go read there! New coffee shop, cafe, the library, antyhing! Just change your environment to help you continue to read.

But Life Can Get In The Way

Your life and your mental health are way more important than anything else, so if you are having a hard time reading or getting things done, take a break! Binge watch a series on Netflix, catch up with friends, etc... Just make sure you do what is best for you!
And that's it! These are just some tips to create a foundation for your organization, but they will getyou started so you can make your organization your own. Try different things, google organization methods, and make it work for YOU. Don't use someone else's system if you are having a hard time understanding what it means or having trouble keeping up with it. Take all these with a grain of salt and don't forget that it is YOUR blog and you should do what you like the best with it! I just hope that some of these help!

Which of these tips are you going to adapt? 

Is there anything different you do that might help others?

24.7.16

#SST: SIGNS OF YOU by Emily France // Guest Post + #Giveaway

Hello and welcome to my Sunday Street Team post for

SIGNS OF YOU by Emily France!

Today I have a Guest Post from the author about life as an author. At the bottom, you can click to see the rafflecopter to enter to win a copy of the book! But first, let's learn about the book...


SIGNS OF YOU

Author: Emily France
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: July 19, 2016

Summary:
Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and they’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.

When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasn’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why he’s become so skeptical and distant.

When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27272341-signs-of-you?ac=1&from_search=true
Purchase:


10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn't Know Before


1.     You'll be (almost) as nervous about your book launch day as you were about your wedding day.

2.     As a writer, sometimes you'll feel really glamorous. (Apple iBooks picked SIGNS OF YOU as a Best Book of July!) And sometimes you really, really won't. (I've been editing the same paragraph for three days! In my sweatpants. And fuzzy socks.)

21.7.16

#BlogTour: SIXTH PRIME by Dan O'Brien

Hello folks! Today I have a special Guest Post for you today about

SIXTH PRIME by Dan O'Brien! 

Dan discusses diversity and gender roles and how it relates to his newest novel, SIXTH PRIME, below. But first, let's learn more about the book!


SIXTH PRIME

Author: Dan O'Brien
Publication Date: July 22, 2016

Summary:
2.3.5.7.11.13.

A war brews as a galaxy struggles to maintain a peace treaty signed in haste. The Commonwealth boasts sprawling cities built upon slums. The Sovereignty has placed the yoke of industry upon its citizens. Sixteen men and women are connected in a way they cannot yet understand. A murder of a prominent artist begins a chain of events that will ultimately determine the fate of the universe.

Only thirteen will remain.

In the end, there can be only one Prime.

Are you a Prime?





Purchase:
When I started writing SIXTH PRIME, I decided early on to do something very deliberate: I would make half the main characters female; I would make sure the personalities better reflected the myriad of the human experience; and I would describe characters without using skin color or an physical identifiers.

You might be wondering: what exactly is the point of that?


Women represent half the population. 


I would be remiss if I ignored the statistics right in front of me. 82% of females are female, so why wouldn't you include female characters when so many readers are women. I don't mean the traditional roles of queens and romantic interests; I'm talking about adventurers and villains, scientists and soldiers, and everything in between. The goal should be to tell the best possible story. I waited until I had outlined everything, and then randomly assigned characters as men and women (this includes romantic relationships as well, so buckle your seatbelts).


Personality guides behavior and decision-making.


I went to graduate school for psychology, and as such I've always had a fascination with why people do what they do. This, naturally, translated into thinking about how I could smuggle personality psychology into a narrative. The Prime saga, beginning with SIXTH PRIME, is an attempt to do just that. I wanted readers to feel like they were represented by one of the characters in such a way that the decisions and consequences felt more real to them.


The reader should decide how the characters look.  


I know it's a long shot, but maybe (just maybe) the Prime Saga becomes a movie or limited series. I bring this up because nothing is worse than people arguing how characters should look or the kinds of actors or actresses who should play them. Really, even if an adaptation is not in order, I love the idea of people coming to their own conclusions about how a character should look based on their choices, personality, and behavior. I want the characters to be defined by how they make readers feel; I want a reader to be able to see themselves in the character and as the character.


Click here for a brief excerpt of SIXTH PRIME!

Dan O’Brien has written over 50 books, including the bestselling Bitten (which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012). Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com.

20.7.16

#Review: BARKING MADNESS by Ryan Hill

BARKING MADNESS

Author: Ryan Hill
Source: ebook via Author
Publisher: Self-pubbed
Publication Date: October 19, 2014
Rating: DNF @ 5%

Summary:
RECOMMENDED FOR READERS 17 AND UP DUE TO STRONG LANGUAGE, SEXUAL SITUATIONS, DRUG USE, AND MILD VIOLENCE.

"My life is crumbling away before my eyes while I do nothing to prevent it. I have visited too many funerals, for too many friends who haunt my dreams. Everybody dies eventually, right? No, everybody dies young when they befriend me. Was I born to die young? I don't think so. I'm the only one here with the nerve to stay alive. I can't be left alone. Not with that hollow man, the one who hides his face. That's what he wants, me to be alone, because once I'm alone he's going to kill me!"

Seventeen-year-old Rosetta Harper is plagued by nightmares of a masked man. With her father’s new career move, her family has just relocated from Florida to the small New England town of Ashwood. A quiet town and close-knit community where you know your neighbors, and trouble is a word unspoken. But soon after her arrival, her world and the worlds of her classmates come crashing down.

Michael hates his family and feels alone and unloved. He only finds comfort when he's with his friends, but even they get on his nerves. Everything about Ashwood and his life bores him, until Rosetta Harper moves into town. With her as a new classmate, Michael finally gets the excitement he was looking for, but it may be at too high a cost.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24473052-barking-madness?ac=1&from_search=true
Purchase:
Disclaimer: I was sent an ebook of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

DNF @ 5%

Oh man. I  usually try to make it 25% of the way through a novel before I DNF it, but there are some exceptions to this rule. This is one of those. After two chapters I know that I am not going to enjoy this one so I am putting it down. The description makes it sound like it will be a great paranormal YA novel -- and there was a great opening scene -- but I just can't do it.

19.7.16

ARC #Review: MANNHEIM REX by Rob Pobi

MANNHEIM REX

Author: Rob Pobi
Source: ARC via Simon & Schuster Canada
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary:
From the internationally bestselling novelist Rob Pobi comes Mannheim Rex, an homage to the blockbuster Jaws and the classic American novel Moby Dick.

After the sudden death of his wife, famous horror writer Gavin Corlie retreats from New York City to a secluded house on Lake Caldasac. But his new life in the country is far from idyllic, and when a thirteen-year-old wheelchair-bound boy named Finn Horn nearly drowns in the lake, Gavin discovers a startling secret: people in this peaceful lakeside community keep vanishing. Is the corrupt, drug-fuelled town sheriff to blame? Or is Finn’s account of a lake-dwelling leviathan more than a near-death hallucination?

Racing against time and Mother Nature, Gavin and Finn embark on a quest to catch a nightmare beast. It’s survival of the fittest, and it isn’t long before the pair realizes that they might be out of their depth…and that the hunters may have become the hunted.

An homage to Peter Benchley’s Jaws and the classic Moby Dick, Mannheim Rex is an unsettling thriller that switches seamlessly between heartwarming friendship and heart-stopping action.

Purchase:
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I was nervous going into this one because my defining personality trait is "jumpy" and I was, well, scared. But this one wasn't nearly as scary as I anticipated and I am glad it had a good monster scary and also a good people scary aspect to it.