Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 End of Year Survey

Survey and image made and created by the lovely Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner. :)

2014 READING STATS

Number Of Books You Read: 202!!!

Number of Re-Reads: 3 (the Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts)

Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy or contemporary? Not sure how to figure it out, but it's definitely one of them. Probably contemporary, though.


BEST IN BOOKS

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Published in 2014: The Kiss of Deception
Overall: Ten Tiny Breaths
Honorable Mention: Bully
Like how I totally cheated with this?

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: I really enjoyed this one but it was very confusing, and I totally thought I'd swoon over Noah but I didn't.
Sacrifice: Sometimes series enders disappoint you, especially when you've loved all the previous books.
The Fault In Our Stars: I just think this is so overrated.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah. Basically everything about this book was surprising.
Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher. I didn't think I'd like it as much as I did, and I also never saw much of what happened coming.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
The Raven Cycle series. I know I'm not the only one who pushed this series hardcore, so I doubt it was because of me. But quite a few people started it and some continued it. And I'd like to think I had a hand in that. ;)

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Series Started: The Kiss of Deception (Shatter Me, for a complete one)
Sequel: Blue Lily, Lily Blue and World After
Series Ender: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
K.A. Tucker (full list, TTT). I'm almost caught up on her backlist and am anxiously awaiting her new book, Becoming Rain.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Between Shades of Gray. It's not out of my comfort zone, but it's from a genre I don't typically read: historical fiction. I loved it, though; very gritty, very realistic.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Young Elites: Even though I read this in December, and it's very likely it's on here only because it's so fresh in my mind, I seriously couldn't put this book down. It has been a long time since a book has had me as entranced as this one.
Creed: Even though I was a little disappointed with where the story went, I could not put this book down. It was quick, quite creepy, and took me a little over 2 hours to read.

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Kiss of Deception. Because after that twist, I need to go back through and figure out how I missed it and also go through it with open eyes and knowing who is who. I also didn't savor it the first time around, and I missed a lot of subtle hints of the world-building.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Kacey Cleary, from Ten Tiny Breaths: One of the characters I've been able to relate to from the very beginning of a story.
Grimalkin, from the Iron Fey series. I fucking love this cat.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover. It was just so... beautiful.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue because Maggie Stiefvater's writing is always lovely.
Edit: Princess of Thorns because Stacey Jay's writing is so gorgeous and lyrical and gah, I love it!

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014? 
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker. I don't know if you guys know this, but I want to be a counselor. And I didn't know the specifics, except that I wanted to work with teens. But this book made me decide to work with victims of PTSD. So, yes, it was a life-changing book for me. <3

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 
Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. Someone please explain to me how I could possibly have waited this long to read these books. It boggles my mind.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
From Blue Lily, Lily Blue:
But what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were of her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn't all-encompassing, that wasn't blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she'd had this kind, she didn't want the other.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: Um, I don't know how to figure this out? I've read lots of novellas, and also pages aren't always exact on Goodreads.
Longest: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. 613 pages!

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Mortal Heart. Was it just me who totally didn't see any of that coming? I was all WHAAAAAA.
The Kiss of Deception. That twist with the whole not knowing who the two male leads are shocked me completely. I was so wrong and had to take a little break to get over it and reorient myself.
Of Scars and Stardust. This whole book was shocking and twisty and I'm still confused!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Gansey and BlueMint leaves, misdialed numbers, and almost kisses. ASDFJKL; MY FEELS.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Aria and Roar, from the Under the Never Sky series. I've always loved their platonic relationship full of feels.
Emily and Sloane, from Since You've Been Gone. I want a friendship like this.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine. I'm a huge fan of hers and am so mad that I've read all of her books and have nothing left. 

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Honestly, I didn't get pressured to read a certain book. But there was one that everybody kept saying was amazing and capslocking their love for the main character on Twitter. That was Finnikin of the Rock, which I read and loved.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014? 
Cricket Bell, from Lola and the Boy Next Door. Because he is my soulmate (and not Nobody's).

23. Best 2014 debut you read? 
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu. Very honest, very powerful book that I think all teens (and everybody else) should read.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
The Young Elites. The setting was SO vivid and dark and gritty and I could see everything happening perfectly in my mind. It was a whole new world of possibilities and danger.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? 
Lola and the Boy Next Door. I mean, seriously, I don't think I ever stopped smiling while reading this book.
Attachments. This one was so much fun, and I was constantly laughing.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Bully, Ten Tiny Breaths, Code Name Verity. I ugly cried in all three books.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Crane by Stacey Rourke. An NA that's not a romance!
Legendary by L.H. Nicole. It had King Arthur, his knights, and a kickass heroine. What more could you want?
The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons. One of the best books I've read that retold the tales of gods and goddesses.
Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton. Emotions personified. So unique!
I know I cheated, but I'm okay with it on this one. I wanted to give all of these books a well deserved shout-out. :)

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Code Name Verity. "Kiss me, Hardy!" *SOBS*

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Uncovering Cobbogoth by Hannah L. Clark. This had one of the most unique story-lines I've ever read. Very intriguing.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire. I feel cheated by this fucking book and would have thrown it against the wall if I hadn't borrowed it from the library.

I tried to mix it up and showcase as many books as I could that fit the questions. I didn't want to just reuse the same ones over and over again (even if they totally deserved it). And I know I cheated a lot, but I'm totally okay with this because of the above reason: I wanted to showcase as many books as possible that I think everyone should read! :)


YOUR BLOGGING/BOOKISH LIFE

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 
Whaaa, how can you expect to choose just one from all the bloggers I've discovered this year?! So I will pick two: Val (The Innocent Smiley) and Shannon (It Starts At Midnight). I can't believe I didn't know these two before the summer, because I feel like I've been talking to them forever. I love their blogs, I love their comments/Tweets, and I love them. And I can't wait to meet them at BEA in May! <3

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
Positive: Ten Tiny Breaths and One Tiny Lie. It was hard to put into words how much TTB meant to me, but I think I did a wonderful job. :)
Negative (snark, in other words): Beautiful Oblivion. This fucking book.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? 
Best discussion: YA and You. I asked a bunch of authors and bloggers what YA meant to them, and I got some thoughtful comments as well. :)
Favorite: 25 Days of Book Boyfriends. Creating a post all about Gansey was one of the most fun and creative ones I did this year.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I went to an author signing this past June and got to meet author Bethany Neal! I still haven't read My Last Kiss yet, but it's a priority for 2015.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
It was definitely changing my blog name! I can't believe it took me this long, because I'm so in love with the name and design. And The Fox's Hideaway is so personal to me. :)

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Most pageviews of a non-giveaway post: My blog tour stop and review of Uncovering Cobbogoth.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? 
YA and Me. It was the first really personal post I published on the blog, and I also talked a lot about YA, teens, and why I think many of the stuff in books should not censored just because of a reader's age.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? 
BookOutlet because they have freaking awesome deals! 
Brilliant Books in Traverse City, the first indie bookstore I found in Michigan that I really like. Too bad I don't live close to it!
Gillian's (Writer of Wrongs) shop on Society6. I seriously love everything and I want it all. Please and thank you.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? 
I completed my Goodreads challenge of 175! I also did 3 other challenges, but I only completed one of them, sadly. But I was really proud that I accomplished my goal of reading and reviewing 50 books for the NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge (and will be participating again this year).


LOOKING AHEAD

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
I'm cheating, because there are so many. The Sea of Tranquility, The Art of Lainey, Throne of Glass, and My Life Next Door.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
The Heart of Betrayal
In other words...

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
An Ember in the Ashes

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015? 
The Raven Cycle #4. 
But why oh why does it have to be ending?! *sobs*

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Sure I have goals and such, but all I really want to do is make more friends in this amazing experience. <3

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios! It was just absolutely wonderful. Y'all will want this book. Trust me.

Overall, I had a great year in books AND blogging! Here's to 2015! And if you did this survey, I want your links! Plskthanksbye. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Release Day Launch: Heartlines by S.G. Holster

Heartlines is not a standalone book. It is only meant to be read after first reading Thirty Seconds To Die andTerrible Lies.
Sometimes in battle surrender is the strongest move of all.

Brett Owen, the son of a Sentori leader, promised himself he’d never do the work of his brotherhood - killing reborn souls. He’d been naïve to make such a vow. He’d been naïve about a lot of things – such as the bond of family and love.

Taunted by a Sentori hunter, Brett does whatever he can to survive, even if it means embracing his dark Sentori side and earning the unwanted attention of the Sentori leaders. His life had never looked so frantic. And all the while, his true family is infecting his heart and mind.

When his heart is tied to an unexpected soul, he finds himself fighting for a future he desperately wants to live to see. It becomes clear that whatever freedoms Brett is hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Fragile lives that had been carefully woven together will be ripped apart swiftly and easily.

Faith is betrayed.

Remorse and innocence intertwine.

Fate and chance collide to mend the tattered strands of Brett’s heart in the shocking conclusion to the 
Thirty Seconds To Die series.
Goodreads | Amazon | BN
***
Lexi Flynn thought she could hide from her dreams.
She thought her fears were all in her imagination.
She couldn't imagine that after everything she'd been through, she could fall in love.
She was wrong.
An ancient society, one extraordinary letter, and the secret Alexandra Flynn would die for - again - to protect.
For Lexi, life had always been - normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. Her life quickly becomes the opposite of normal when Ren Miller moves to the small community where she lives. Mysterious, handsome, and dangerously charming, Lexi discovers Ren is no stranger. They've met before - in another life.
When Ren pulls her into his bizarre world of past lives and secret societies, all bets are off. They become the targets of the Sentori, an ancient, secret society who believes it must protect the sanctity humankind by killing those like Lexi and Ren, those who are reborn.
In an effort to protect Ren from the Sentori, Lexi is forced to enlist the aid of the most unlikely of all allies. Her decision ignites a series of events that lead to a heartbreaking decision and a devastating conclusion.
If your life was all you had to give, wouldn't you give it to save the only person you ever loved?
Thirty Seconds to Die draws the reader deeply into a story of danger and flight, of love and hate, and of the extraordinary power of the spirit - human or otherwise.
***
This is the second novel in the Thirty Seconds To Die series. Ren and Lexi's story continues...

"Love is whatever you can still betray.
Betrayal can only happen if you love."

- John le Carre


Against the odds, Lexi Flynn closed the passage for the souls. Fleeing to Alaska was a heartbreaking decision that has left her feeling devastated and alone. She wishes that her life could go back to normal. But as the protector for the passage and being pursued by superhuman assassins, it’s hard to tell what normal is. Just as she hits rock bottom, Ren sweeps in as her hero.

Refusing to let her go, he attempts to rebuild her trust. What no one knows is that Ren needs Lexi to save him from his own devastation when a dark family secret is uncovered. Transformed by their decisions, their choices become irrevocable as they learn that some secrets should remain hidden.

Lexi must fight to save those she loves while dealing with the conflicting emotions of grief, forgiveness, love, and while discovering the strength of her own identity.

Terrible Lies author S.G. Holster’s second book of the Thirty Seconds to Die series, is an exciting journey with twists, heartbreak, romance and sacrifice.
 ***
S. G. Holster Bio: S.G. HOLSTER lives in California with her husband and their two daughters. She is the author of the THIRTY SECONDS TO DIE series. The third and final book in the series, Heartlines, will be published late in 2014.

(23) Top Ten 2015 Goals/Resolutions

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015! 

Thank you Val for letting me know today was not the topic of 2015 debuts! I didn't find that out until 11, which left me less than an hour to come up with this post. Anyway, these are a mix of blogging and real life resolutions. I always try to do goals, but I never accomplish them. But I really, really hope to do that this year. Here's to making 2015 even better than 2014! :)

1. Be more open with people.
I'm not a very open person, and I have tons of walls up to keep people out of my life and my heart. And I want to stop doing that, because it's hurting my relationships with family and friends. And it's hurting me.

2. Have better organization.
I mean, seriously, I need some organization for this blog. I want to spend some time tweaking the layout and organizing my pages. I also need to better organize my time when it comes to reading, especially with ARCs and "me" books. And honestly, I just need more organization in my life, not just in blogging.

3. Make a schedule and stick with it.
I suck at sticking with schedules. I suck at making them. I especially want a blog schedule that I will actually maintain and keep up with. I think this goes along with my organization goal, but yeah, I want to be that person who color-codes and has everything set up months in advance. Okay, maybe not that extreme. Baby steps.

4. Meet as many people as I can at BEA.
I am so excited to be going to BEA! I'm probably, most likely going to be traveling alone from Michigan to New York. But once there, I'll be rooming with Shannon and Val and I CANNOT WAIT TO MEET THEM. And I want to meet as many other bloggers and authors as I can! So if you're going, let me know! :)

5. Be more spontaneous.
I'm not a spontaneous person at all, but I want to be more open to changes this year. I want to do something just because and not have to plan it out ahead of time. I want to live more, I don't know, freely and with less constraint.

6. Plan a cool, big event for The Fox's Hideaway.
I've never done a big event, but I want to. It'll probably be a little bit stressful, and asking authors to help out is intimidating. But I have one planned for March that I can't wait to start organizing! It's going to be awesome. I hope.

7. Visit and comment on blogs more often.
I used to be so good at this, but in the last few months, it's been a slow progress. And I hate that, because I absolutely love commenting and visiting other blogs, keeping up with their posts and actually reading them. But lately, I've stopped doing it and that makes me sad. I love doing this and want to get back to it. And I want to start visiting even more blogs and make new friends.

8. Not be afraid to DNF a review book.
Even when I changed my review policy, I only DNFed two review books. There were plenty of books that I told myself I was setting aside for now, but let's be honest; I probably won't ever get back to them. I need to keep reminding myself that it's okay to not like a book, that it's okay to put it away indefinitely. And then I need to remind myself that it's okay to write a DNF review.

9. Exercise. And actually do it.
Even though I say this every year, I haven't ever kept up with it. But now I have a bike for my room, so there's no more excuses not to be exercising. And I also want to lose some weight before BEA, so here's to sticking with this plan!

10. Live deliberately.
For the past four years, I haven't felt like I was really living. I would say this every year: this will be the year that I finally stop wallowing and living in the past. And it never happens. But I want to change that this year. I want to really make 2015 count. I want to live deliberately.

 What are some of your New Year's resolutions or goals? What would you like to change in 2015? As always, leave me a link! :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Writing Wishlist

Earlier today I saw this post on Cait's blog and thought it was so much fun that I had to do it myself. She got the idea from Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer. :) Basically, this is a writer's bucket list of stories that they want to someday write and hopefully publish. I don't know if I've said it that much on my blog (I feel like I have though), and I've certainly never shared snippets of a current WIP. But, if you're not familiar with me at all (or don't follow me on Twitter), then you might not know this about me. 

I want to be an author. I want to publish books upon books upon books. But, for me, this would be a passion. A dream. And since I'm a psychology major, I'm clearly not in school to make a career out of being an author. But oh, how I want to make this dream come true. And oh, how I'd love to be able to put a book out on shelves and for everyone to read. I want to touch people's hearts. I want to make them happy and give them what books have always given me: an escape from reality.

And these are the story ideas that I would love to write, or finish, someday! :)


1. One with curses and set in the South.
This one is pretty specific, but I want to write both a book that takes place in the south and one that's got curses (and preferably together). I'm a little nervous about it, because I'm not southern. At all. I'm very much a northern girl, so that means I'd have to try really hard to make it believable. I've written about 1,500 words in this, and I'm already excited about it. But I have no idea where I'm going with the curses part, so yeah.


2. One with a love triangle.
Yes, yes, I know what you're all thinking. ARE YOU KIDDING ME HOW DARE YOU LOVE TRIANGLES ARE EVIL INCARNATE. I know how much they annoy and piss people off (I'm not a huge fan of them myself). But guys, I have this idea about a girl who loses her memory after a car accident and who has to stumble through life with her identity always just out of reach. And yes, there would be two boys. But I would hope that I could write it where it feels genuine and realistic and needed.


3. A fairytale retelling.
Because who wouldn't want to write one? I adore reading them, and it makes me want to come up with my own unique spin on a classic story. Since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite, I think it would be insane to do something with this fairytale. However, I've been thinking a lot about a girl locked in a tower, so we'll see what happens.


4. A New Adult book.
It's kind of funny, but I was writing New Adult before it became a recognized genre. I started a bunch of stories about characters in this age group but I never got very far, which is not surprising to me at all. I have many ideas for contemporary romances set in this genre, and I'd love to write them. But for right now, I'm just going to stick with YA.


5. A mystery.
So, I'm actually in the middle of one right now. It's an Adult novel that would be part of a 3 book series that follows a set of characters who keep getting swept up in mysteries. There are dead bodies, but there is absolutely no suspense in them at all. I just don't think I'm cut out for this genre. But I adore these characters so much, and I just love writing about them. However, the actual mystery part needs A LOT of work.


6. A Civil War novel.
Remember that Twitter hashtag, #RBWL? It was created exactly for this. It's a bunch of tweets where bloggers, readers, authors, and people in the industry tell you exactly what they want in a book. And I kept repeating that I wanted more war novels, especially those set in the Civil War era. But I'm impatient and wrote a prologue that very same day. However, historical fiction makes me nervous, and I'm not sure how to get into the mindset of a character in this time period, so I've set it aside. But someday, I'd love to get back to it and write a love story that transcends a devastating war.


7. An epic (regular? high? urban?) fantasy.
This is my favorite idea at the moment. Dragons, an assassin, a princess who doesn't back down from a fight and becomes a fearless leader. I keep bouncing back and forth, trying to figure out where exactly I'd go with this. I *think* I have a plan, but I'm going to have to scrap everything I've already written and start over. And that is a daunting task.


8. A happy contemporary.
Why, you ask? Well, every time I start writing a story, it becomes darker and grittier than I mean it to. They're always filled with death, tragedy, unhappy home lives, characters who are in pain. I can't seem to write a fluffy, happy contemporary where no one is ever sad or depressed or angry or got screwed over by life.


9. One about gods and goddesses.
How cool would it be to run with an idea about the gods and goddesses? I know that there are so many of these types of stories out there right now, but I've always wanted to give it a shot. I have absolutely no clue what I'd even write about (and hell, I hate research, and it would require lots), but I adore the idea!


So yeah, I really want to write all of these. *le sigh* Someday.

Do you write? If so, what are some of the stories on your dream wishlist? Also, keep writing, even if it sucks, even if you don't think it's any good, even if you don't want to continue it. Just keep writing. :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking at the Characters

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Okay, so over a week ago this post about one reviewer's pet peeves opened up a discussion on Twitter that apparently blew up. I'm not here about the drama (which actually didn't seem that huge, unless I missed a bunch of tweets?) and I wasn't even around for it. I heard about this through a friend and decided to check it out because I'm nosy and curious and goddamn but if there's drama in the blogging community, I want to know about it. And I'm not taking a side, because I'm stuck in the middle of this. On the one hand, I can see how harmful the hashtag was, but it also made me think about how I was reviewing and how I could potentially be catering to gender stereotypes and the incredibly harmful messages in books sometimes.

Anyway, so this created some heated tweets about how bad the #reviewpeeves hashtag was and how it was basically telling reviewers how to do what they do. How they should review a book. And, yeah, I can see that. I'm not okay with someone telling me how to think and feel, let alone write. When I review, it's my honest opinion. MY opinion, which I am entitled to have. No one can take that away from me or tell me how to review a book. And that's why this hashtag is harmful. It's basically telling people that THIS and THIS and THAT are not okay to use as reasons for how you rate and review a book. And NO reviewer wants to be told that.

Two of the person's review peeves in that article were the TSTL (too stupid to live) characters and the ones who are called selfish. I'll be the first to admit that I will call out a character for being selfish and unlikable and stupid. Because, here's the thing, a book has to have a little something called CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Sure, they make mistakes as people do. Of course they should be flawed and not always at their best. That makes them more realistic and relatable. But if there's no development, then I'm sorry but I'll find most of what the character does to be unlikable. There has to be growth, there have to be reasons for their flaws. They can't be there for no underlying explanation or just to move along a relationship or plotline. As for downsizing this to just talking about YA, yeah teens do stupid things and are selfish. They can be pretty damn unlikable. Setting them to a higher standard probably isn't that fair, but that can't be an excuse for a character who does things for seemingly no reason or warning. Not to mention, there are plenty of people in real life whom I think are selfish and unlikable, and I can think the same damn thing about a character. It doesn't matter what age level they are at.

As to the other review peeve of that person, I don't actually see much of it. But yay for a person continuing to read a genre that has disappointed them time and time again. Sure, it's probably the reason why they don't like it and they're probably setting themselves up for failure each time, but they're entitled to their opinion, no? Yeah, they could just mention that it wasn't for them, and they should probably branch out into other genres and types of books if this one is just not cutting it for them. But again, that's their opinion and their choice!

Even though I think this hashtag was harmful, some of the tweets got me thinking about how I review. Certainly I'm not going to change how I review, but that doesn't mean that I could possibly be perpetuating the cycle of sexsim and female characters being shafted for so many impossibly unfair expectations. Elizabeth May (author of The Falconer) tweeted, "I've noticed how many of my #reviewpeeves have to do with character critiques that are often (I believe unintentionally) gendered." And I totally agree with her. I can't tell you how many times I've seen male characters praised for being assholes (and certainly, I've loved those types of book boyfriends before) while female characters are put down for just being a girl. For being emotional and making mistakes when it comes to guys. For being soft and simple and jealous and envious and overreacting to something that's been said. Basically, it doesn't matter what they do because you can always find something to criticize. And I can't tell you how many times I encounter this with female characters who are confident in their sexuality. Males can generally get away with more than females can, especially when it comes to sex. Because, as much as we don't want to admit it, females (in real life and in books) are set to higher standards. And, therefore, they're judged to a higher level.

They're not fair, these standards. To be judged for something that a male is praised for is not only sexist but harmful. Often, female characters can't get away with the same things as males. And that makes me wonder and think about how I judge female characters myself. There have probably been moments where I put higher standards on them and criticized them too harshly for something that I should have given them more leniency on. Not just on females, but teens in general. I used to think that YA was nothing more than fluff and simplistic, and I have definitely held teens to a higher standard before. It's easy to judge a character for doing something that you would not normally do. It's easy to forget that humans are full of conflicting emotions and make mistakes. Have their moments of jealousy and rage, their moments of hurt and guilt. They put their foot in their mouths and overreact. They can be stubborn to the point of wanting to stab them. But again, I believe female characters are judged more harshly for all of this. 

And it kind of kills me that I could have unintentionally perpetuated this sexism in books and the stereotypes of genders. I need to be more conscious of this. I think more people need to be conscious of this. And how their own gender socializations play into how they feel, think, and judge a character in a book. Sure, they're not real. It isn't life. But books are just one of many tools that continually reinforce old stereotypes and society's many diminishing views, perpetuate sexism and traditional gender roles. Not all of them are like that, no. However, they haven't exactly helped to make them better. And that's why I am so, so happy that there are many diverse books coming in the next few years. Ones that challenge society and gender roles and old-fashioned values. Ones that need to be written. #WeNeedDiverseBooks. :)

I've honestly been thinking about this a lot, especially after all of the books I read where people shame women for having sex, hooking up with more than one guy, or flaunting their confidence in their sexuality. I almost wrote a whole post about it, about casual sex in books and how it's portrayed in both males and females in particular, but never finished it. This whole gender inequality is especially present in romances. I love romances; I love contemporaries. I love New Adult. But those genres are so terrible when it comes to gender stereotypes, sexism, and misogyny. And I become annoyed and seriously pissed off at the constant slut shaming and male leads whose best charm is that they're an asshole to everyone. Let's just stop the never-ending cycle of bullshit, shall we? 

This wasn't meant to be a feminist piece about how women are unequal even in books. And it wasn't meant to bash the person who wrote that article. It was just meant to take a closer look at reviewing and how both male and female characters are portrayed and talked about in general. Something that has bothered me for a very long time but only recently taken root in my mind. I'm not going to change anything about how I review because of this hashtag, but I do know that I'm going to be more conscious of how I'm looking at the characters (secondary ones too) and what they say, especially the females. 


Your turn!
How do you feel about this #reviewpeeves hashtag? Do you think that characters are judged more harshly in books than they would be in real life? Do you think there's an unequal balance in female and male characters when it comes to reviews and criticisms?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

NERC Review #57: The Last Changeling

Title: The Last Changeling (Faerie Revolutions, #1)
Author: Chelsea Pitcher
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: November 1st, 2014
*eARC kindly provided by Flux via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
A Kingdom at War . . .

Elora, the young princess of the Dark Faeries, plans to overthrow her tyrannical mother, the Dark Queen, and bring equality to faeriekind. All she has to do is convince her mother’s loathed enemy, the Bright Queen, to join her cause. But the Bright Queen demands an offering first: a human boy who is a “young leader of men.” 

A Dark Princess In Disguise . . .

To steal a mortal, Elora must become a mortal—at least, by all appearances. And infiltrating a high school is surprisingly easy. When Elora meets Taylor, the seventeen-year-old who’s plotting to overthrow a ruthless bully, she thinks she’s found her offering . . . until she starts to fall in love.


My Review!
I've been wanting to read this ever since I heard of it. Pretty cover, faeries, secrets, a main character going "undercover" in the real world? Sounded awesome. And The Last Changeling was a good book, though it left me feeling underwhelmed.

I loved that this was told in dual POVs. It was nice to have both of the main character's thoughts and feelings. It was also really easy to tell them apart, and I so appreciated the author huge efforts to make Elora's venture into the real world seem realistic and genuine. It made for some pretty comical moments, because she was so lost and overwhelmed in a world so unlike hers. Speaking of Elora, I really enjoyed her character. At first, she seems flighty and naive, stumbling around in a world that she doesn't understand. But she's also a strong character who only wanted to save her people, and she vowed to do whatever it took to bring peace to the Courts. But I never truly gained an understanding of her, because I couldn't figure out what she wanted and what her motives were for the things that she was doing. She's still kind of a mystery, even though I know her life's story. The one she told Taylor, the guy who took her in and made her fall in love for the first time in her long life.


Taylor was one of the sweetest guys I'd ever read about. He was adorable, so worried about offending or hurting people, and not okay with the antics of a bully. But he's also shy, and quietly suffering in a pool of grief and guilt for a tragedy that happened years ago. It's why his relationship with his parents is practically nonexistent and why he lives in the apartment above their garage, which makes for the perfect way to hide a Faerie who dropped into his life so suddenly. Except, he doesn't know she's a faerie. She keeps her identity a secret, but Taylor is pretty open about himself and his life. He's not exactly hard to figure out. And that's okay, because I adored him and his awkwardness and caring nature.


Their romance was very slow to buildup, which is okay and all. I can't tell you how many books I've read where the characters just jump into a relationship before they really get to know each other. It was a nice romance, sweet and innocent and doomed before it even began really. Because how could a Faerie and human be allowed to have their love? I wish there'd been a bit more with it, because it didn't give me any feels. But that could be the snail's pace that it went (which, again, isn't a bad thing). I think I just wanted more development from it.


I loved that this book had a diverse set of characters! Elora and Taylor befriend members of the Gay-Straight Alliance club, which became a huge message and focus of the book. Many of these characters felt unwanted and unheard, bullied and teased for being who they are. And with the help and addition of Elora, they take a stand and are able to find their courage at being tossed aside by the school and their classmates. I adored them all, even if they didn't have very deep relationships with the main characters.


And I loved that this book focused on that club and about righting wrongs. I loved the message of standing up for what you believe in and not letting yourself be pushed to be what society wants you to be. But I felt that the book was taking off in that direction when it should have been focusing on the faerie aspects. I wanted more of the fantastical story-line. Not that I didn't love the other one, not that I didn't adore the diversity and beautiful messages. But this is a fantasy, not a contemporary. And so I was left wanting more, a lot more, of the Faerie world. The plot wasn't exactly loaded with surprises and twists, but it was still intriguing. And I liked how the author told the story of the Faerie world, without dumping us with the information and leaving it at that. It actually surprised me, and I loved that. And that ending was surprising, but in a good way. I just wish there'd been more Faerie focus in the book.


The Last Changeling was a good faerie book that has lovable characters and wonderful messages. I'm excited about the sequel, because I have a feeling much of it will be spent in the Faerie world. I'm hoping for awesome details and complicated creatures of the Courts. And I can't wait to see what happens after that ending! :)



RATING:
3.5 Paw Prints!

Friday, December 26, 2014

NERC Review #56: Awaking

Title: Awaking (The Naturals, #1)
Author: Madeline Freeman
Publisher: Madeline Freeman
Release Date: September 21st, 2013
*Review copy kindly provided by Madeline Freeman via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
Morgan Abbey's life is about to change. Just weeks before the beginning of her senior year, a mysterious stranger approaches Morgan with information that turns her world on end: First, the psychic ability she believes she has just been pretending to have since middle school might actually be real. Second, her mother, who disappeared abruptly and completely almost a decade ago, might still be alive. Morgan finds herself drawn into a centuries-old struggle involving a shadowy group with incredible powers. The Veneret have quietly coexisted alongside the common people of the world for centuries. Now they believe it is time for them to reclaim their former positions of power-and that Morgan is the key to their victory. Every victory comes at a price-but is it one that Morgan will be willing to pay?


My Review!
I'm going to admit this, but I totally read this book just because it had an orange cover. I probably would have kept putting it off if I hadn't read it for this challenge. But I'm so glad I did read it! Although I was a little annoyed with the romance and the lack of answers, Awaking had a unique concept that I found intriguing.

It also had a pretty sassy main character, Morgan Abbey. I really liked her in the beginning especially, because she didn't conform to the standards and she told fortunes to her classmates for money. However, she lost that boldness throughout the novel, that sassiness. She didn't question anything, she didn't press for answers. I thought she'd be more skeptical, more questioning. I didn't think she'd take everything at face value. There were times she was incredibly dense too. Morgan was also kind of portrayed as a bit of a Mary Sue. The one who's special, who is above all of the nonsense of high school. The one who can do no wrong and who is always morally right. The one that all the guys want.


Speaking of guys, the romance in this book left a lot to be desired. We meet so many characters, especially guys. There were at least two love interests (one who is creepy and misogynistic and ihatehimsomuch) one who was supposedly a friend but apparently not after that ending. I don't know where they all came from, or why they were all needed. There is a prophecy that explains two of them having a presence, which could contribute to romantic feelings. But none of them felt that believable, because Morgan's relationships with all of them were not that developed. I was left wanting there to be a clear love interest, and a focus on that relationship. Not all of this back and forth, confusing feelings in the main character. I don't think I would have minded it so much, if I had felt genuine chemistry between any of them and Morgan.


The concept, which didn't have as much focus throughout the book as I would have liked, was intriguing and different. It just didn't have that much development. Sure, we find out in the beginning what's going on and what Morgan is. But after that, the main character acted like it was all normal. There was no questioning, even when the people were not forthcoming with information and were being deliberately evasive. The plot lost me a little bit in the middle but then it picked back up once truths come to light and Morgan realizes that the people who told her that she was one of them might not be the ones who should be trusted.


Awaking was not the strongest beginning, but I'm curious about the sequel and what's going to happen to the characters next.



RATING:
3 Paw Prints!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Top 10 of 2014: Best Book Boyfriends

It's Day 4 of the top 10 of 2014 week, and it's the one I'm sure most of us have all been waiting for. It's time to rank the best of the best in terms of... BOYS. Yeah, that's right. We're listing our favorite book boyfriends of the year! 

1. Gansey
I'm sure no one is surprised by this. I'd tell you why, but I actually wrote a whole post about Gansey over here. I'm also giving away a book in The Raven Cycle series, so go enter if you haven't already. It's international. :)

2. Akiva
Oh, my Akiva. My strong, deadly fighter. My complicated angel who only wanted to find peace for everyone and make up for the past.

3. Balthazaar
A guy who struggles with right and wrong, past mistakes and regrets, but still manages to be a good man. One who is worthy of love.

4. Levi
His love for Pixie might be his most attractive feature. He would do anything for her, even at the risk of his own happiness.

5. Raffe
One of my favorite angels. He's intense, rough around the edges, and dangerous. But he can throw out a one-liner like no one's business.

6. Rafe
It's hard to tell you about this dude without giving anything away, so I'll just say this: he's sweet, protective, and he'll do anything for Lia.

7. Frank
Smart, funny, an all-around great guy to have as a friend or a boyfriend, even if he doesn't have the greatest taste in music. :P

8. Perry
A hunter who became a leader, a young guy who only wanted to save his people and the girl he loves and who would do whatever it took to protect them.

9. West
A fighter, a lover, a broken-down guy who only wanted atone for his mistakes and be seen as worthy of love.

10. Fear
I totally fell for this complicated and mysterious character, but what had me swooning was his fierce protectiveness toward Elizabeth.

Honorable Mention: Cade Maxwell from Caged in Winter. Because I'm reading it right now, and I'm already in love with him.


So, what were YOUR favorite book boyfriends of 2014?! :)