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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That People Have Been Telling Me That I Must Read

This is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where each week bloggers share a list of books for the prompt given. So hopefully I'll have a new list to share with you all each week!

This Week's Topic: Books That People Have Been Telling Me That I Must Read

Oh gosh, there are so many books that I've heard rave reviews for but just haven't gotten to them yet. Whether I read reviews on my favorite blogs or hear a recommendation from my sister, my TBR list grows bigger and bigger every day. But here are some books that I've been dying to read because my family or other bloggers have recommended them. Hopefully I can read them all some day! 

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
3. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
5. Looking for Alaska by John Green 
6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

7. Wait for You by Jennifer L Armentrout 
8. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
9. Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

10. Forgiving Lies by Molly McAdams

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekly Roundup [8/12-8/18]

HAPPY LAST WEEK OF SUMMER! Well, at least my summer! I spent my last weekend of summer celebrating my brother's engagement to his girlfriend at their engagement party and it was fun meeting all of her family and eating some yummy cookout food. My week ahead is full of packing, finishing up my last day of work, and spending as much time as possible with my family before leaving them for school. I already have plans to see What If (Daniel Radcliff's new movie) on Tuesday and If I Stay on Saturday with my sister. I just read If I Stay a couple of weeks ago and can't wait to finally see the movie. Oh, and all of the previews for The Maze Runner playing everywhere have me absolutely dying for the movie to come out. I just recently read that book too and gave it to my dad to read because I thought he would really enjoy it. The trailer seems just as intense as the novel was, so I hope the movie does it justice! 

Book Reviews
Virgin by Radhika Sanghani 
Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James
If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Book Review: The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan

The Islands at the End of the World
By Austin Aslan
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Source: Publisher
Summary: Right before my eyes, my beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I...

Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she's an outsider - half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic.

While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.

Review: I normally don't read books about the apocalypse, but this one sounded intriguing being set in Hawaii with a 16-year-old epileptic main character. I knew going into the story that it was going to be a unique read, but I definitely have never read a book as powerful, emotional, and desperate as The Islands at the End of the World. 

16-year-old Leilani wants nothing more than a normal life, which is pretty hard to do as an epileptic half-white, half-hawaiin teen living on the big island of Hawaii. Lei has felt like an outsider at school and only finds relief surfing, which her epilepsy has made dangerous to do. Lei and her dad decide to go to Oahu to test a drug to treat her epilepsy when global disaster strikes and every electrical device and mode of communication shuts down. Facing a world that's falling apart, Lei and her father embark on a dangerous journey that tests their strength both mentally and physically as they attempt to find their way back home to the rest of their family on the main island. 

Have you ever wondered what it be like when the world was ending? When all communication is cut off and there's no electricity, appliances, or personal electronics? Well, Austin Aslan made those questions a reality for Lei and let me tell you, things got crazy. Under extreme situations, the true side of people comes out and not everyone is inherently good. No, Lei and her father encountered very scary people who were either power hungry or only cared about themselves. They tried surviving both on their own and under control of the military throughout their journey, exploring the many different aspects of survival during a global disaster. The situations they faced were downright frightening and I was completely drawn into their perilous journey towards reuniting with their family. 

The only problem I had with this story, though, was the family Lei was so desperate to get back to. Lei would talk about how much she missed her mother brother, grandfather, and best friend, but I didn't really feel her immense connection to them when they were together in the beginning of the novel when life was normal. I wish we had gotten a bit more of their "before" life and understood just how connected Lei was with her family so that we could become connected with them ourselves. When it came to Lei's father, though, we were able to witness her deep love and connection to him as they both tried to survive a world that was completely hopeless and desperate. 

Overall, this was a great novel that dealt with the apocalyptic storyline. I loved how it was set in Hawaii, an environment I am not familiar with at all and rarely read about. Lei was so proud of her Hawaiian heritage and it was interesting to learn the culture differences and stigmas that were present there. While I was a little skeptical of the sci-fi elements at the end of the novel when Lei was convinced that her epilepsy uncovered answers about the mysterious things going on, I really enjoyed the complexity of the story and how the author backed the sci-fi elements up with actual scientific facts that kind of made sense to the reader. If you want a very unique, emotional, and distressing story about a global disaster occurring while trapped on an island with no communication to the rest of the world, you should definitely check out The Islands at the End of the World.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (112)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers share what they got throughout the week!

From Online
I am so excited because in September I am going to a signing for Colleen Hoover, Abbi Glines, and Jamie McGuire. I have books from Colleen and Jamie, but I don't own anything of Abbi's, so I thought I'd get one! Little did I know, I accidentally ordered the second book in the series, not the first! But I'm still excited to read her books and be able to meet such fantastic authors!

From Publisher

Ahhhh, I've been waiting for this package from NAL Berkley and it finally showed up on Thursday! You could say I was excited to rip it open and find these beauties inside. I am obsessed with Kim Karr's series and I finally have the fourth book! Ahh, so excited for the characters that Frayed revolves around. As for the other four, they all look phenomenal! I can't wait to read these as summer comes to an end. 

From Giveaway 

I was beyond excited to win a giveaway from Caroline at The Attic Reviews. I was able to pick one book from Book Depository and I chose Maybe One Day. I've been dying to read this one, so I'm so happy I have a copy now! Thanks for the giveaway!

That's it for me! What did you all add to your shelves this week? 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Follow My Book Blog Friday (148)

This is a meme hosted every Friday by Parajunkee, where book bloggers answer a question each week and check out how others answered it. It's a cool way for bloggers and viewers to connect and learn more about each other!

Question: Suggest a question! We need more questions of the week for future FFs. Any ideas? 

Do you have any fun collections (other than books)? 
What do you do for a living? 
If you could have any job, what would you do? 
Cover models! Who would you love to see as a cover model on any novel? 

That's all I can come up with! Haha, I'm not very good and this. Did anyone come up with some good questions? 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay #1)
By Gayle Forman
Release Date: April 2, 2009
Source: Own Copy
Summary: Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

Review: I can't even tell you how long I've had this book sitting on my shelf. I've heard for awhile now how great of a read it is, but I just haven't had the time to read it among all of the other books I have on my shelves. With the movie release quickly approaching, though, I knew I had to read this one before seeing it come alive on the big screen. 

17-year-old Mia is at a point in her life where her future is completely unknown. Does she try to achieve her dreams of playing music? Even if it means losing her boyfriend Adam and leaving her family behind? She just doesn't know. But when she's in a car crash with her family, none of those choices matter except whether or not she can bring herself back into a life that will have drastically changed forever.

Wow. From page one, I absolutely fell in love with Mia's family and how quirky they were. They truly loved each other and her parents created an environment that truly cherished Mia as a person. That being said, when they were involved in that crash shortly after being introduced, my heart instantly went out to them. How could that happen to such genuinely good, fun loving people? I think that the way Gayle Forman tugged on our emotions and formed that bond between the reader and the characters involved in Mia's life truly put us into Mia's mind and allowed us to understand what she was going through as she was in a coma. 

I think that the state Mia was in, not quite a ghost but still outside of her body, was perfect for telling her story the way it was told. (As a side note, I absolutely loved the Ghost reference. So appropriate because that's what I immediately thought of with Mia's situations). Most of the story was told as flashbacks of Mia's past life while she was presently witnessing her loved ones waiting for her to wake up from her coma after the accident. When you think about it, nothing really happens all that much in the present except for Mia reliving her past and what she loves most about her life. That being said, though, there was so much that contributed to the emotional dilemma Mia was facing now. We got to see her love for her family, how her relationship with Adam developed, her passion for her music, and her connection to her best friend. If I Stay reminds you of the most important components of life and cherishes those moments with those you love the most. 

The one thing I didn't like? It was so short. Seriously, I was reading, reading, reading, and it just ended. I thought I had a good 20 pages left, but that was all discussion guides and a preview of the next book. I was so sad that it was over so soon! I could have read a good 200 more pages of that book, which I guess I'll have to wait for the next book to get. I definitely can't wait to see this movie and read Where She Went to see what happens next in Mia's story.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James

Jane Austen's First Love
By Syrie James
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Source: Publisher
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jane Austen dreams of three things: doing something useful, writing something worthy, and falling madly in love. When she visits her brother in Kent to celebrate his engagement, she meets wealthy, devilishly handsome Edward Taylor—a fascinating young man who is truly worthy of her affections. Jane knows a match between her and Edward is unlikely, but every moment she spends with him makes her heart race—and he seems to return her interest. Much to her displeasure, however, there is another seeking his attention
Unsure of her budding relationship, Jane seeks distraction by attempting to correct the pairings of three other prospective couples. But when her matchmaking aspirations do not all turn out as anticipated, Jane discovers the danger of relying on first impressions. The human heart cannot be easily deciphered, nor can it be directed or managed. And if others must be left to their own devices in matters of love and matrimony, can Jane even hope to satisfy her own heart?

Review: I am absolutely obsessed with Jane Austen, so I couldn't have been more excited to read this book. I've seen the movie Becoming Jane where she falls in love when she's 20, but I was interested to read more about her earlier life and supposed "first love." 

Jane Austen is 15 years old and not yet out in society. When her sister Cassandra is finally old enough to come out, Jane can't help but feel jealous as she's left at home, never to find that grand love she enjoys writing and imagining about. So when Jane has the opportunity to go to Kent and attend balls and parties in honor of her brother's engagement, Jane couldn't be more excited. There, Jane meets Edward Taylor, an intriguing young man who seems every bit as adventurous as she is. Even though there are other interested parties in Edward's affections, Jane attempts to take matters into her own hands and see if she can find the love she's only dreamt of having. 

There's a reason I love Jane Austen, and Syrie James reminded me of every single on of them. First, the time period. I love how the families are so involved in who is allowed to court who, which makes going after who you really like that much more difficult. Jane may have liked Edward, but that doesn't mean that other families didn't have their eye on him for their own children. The second thing I love is the society as a whole. Who wouldn't love to get dressed up for a ball or have a huge party just to go strawberry picking? Life just seemed so much more fun back then and Syrie James truly brought Jane's world alive. 

Not only was Jane's world vividly described, but so was her life. I know that Jane was very close with her sister Cassandra, so it was nice seeing just how close those two really were in this novel. Then, it was fun to see how imaginative Jane was and how much she loved to write. Overall, I really enjoyed getting to know my favorite author when she as 15 and simply observing the world around her. I was worried that this would feel too juvenile seeing as the main character is 15, but Jane is too smart and observant to be juvenile. I loved seeing the world through her eyes and watching her fall in love for the first time and attempting to play matchmaker, which we learned from Emma doesn't always work out. 

I think that any Jane Austen fan will enjoy this historical novel. While it was a bit slow in places, I loved getting lost in Jane's world that was beautifully captured by Syrie James. Jane is such a fun character, and so are all of the unique people she runs across during her stay at Kent. I am truly impressed that Syrie James could create the fantastic world of my favorite author.

About the Author
Syrie James, hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings, is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Nocturne, Dracula My Love, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: SONGBIRD and PROPOSITIONS. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages.
In addition to her work as a novelist, Syrie is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. An admitted Anglophile, she loves romance and all things 19th Century. To learn more about Syrie, check out her website at
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