Monday, December 5, 2016

His Royal Highness Prince Overprotective Brother // Christmas at the Castle Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway

I went into Christmas at the Castle, looking for something cute and fluffy, which is pretty much what I got. Despite a couple issues I had with the novel, I enjoyed it overall.

Synopsis & Details:

A royal wedding. A meddlesome mother. An unexpected union. A European getaway during the Christmas holiday is exactly what veterinarian Katrina “Kat” Parsons needs. She can’t wait to be a bridesmaid in her childhood friend’s royal wedding, but she hopes to steer clear of the read more... bride’s arrogant older brother.

Crown Prince Guillaume wants his younger sister’s wedding day to be perfect, but he’s suspicious of Kat. He and his mother on are on high alert, afraid Kat is not just there for the wedding, but also to find a prince of her own.

But when Kat’s kindness and generosity prove them wrong, the prince realizes there’s more to her than he ever imagined. Can he trust his heart or will he lose the one woman he can’t live without?

Title: Christmas at the Castle (Ever After #3)
Author: Melissa McClone
Series: Ever After
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: I received an arc through H.C.L. Author Services, this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

The romance kind of comes out of nowhere, I'd seen the build up, but then it appeared a tad early.

In my opinion, it could have used a few more pages to develop.

Some parts of this book felt really cliche, and not in the good way (like with Kasie West's P.S. I Like You), but in a cringy-ish way.

At first Gill really annoyed me, his reasons for disliking Kat just seemed extremely immature.

90% of the notes I made while reading, were just me being a 100% annoyed, with Gill, thinking about how Kat, was a gold (royal) digger.

However he really began turning around towards the second half of the book, his POV quickly became my favorite after that.

As for Kat, I never felt like her character really developed, she felt a bit flat.

Christmas at the Castle had a couple really humorous moments, and the second half of the book was definitely better than the first. If you're looking for something cute to wave in the winter holiday season, then this one might be up your alley.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

What are you looking foward to this winter season? Are you anticipating any book releases?
About Melissa McClone
Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she travelled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over twenty-five romance novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members through Soldiers’ Angels and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.

Blog Tour Schedule
December 4th
December 5th
December 6th
December 7th
December 8th
December 9th
December 10th
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Why I'm Thankful for the Bookish Community & How It's Helped My Book Nerdiness Flourish // The Thanks U Give

Why I'm Thankful for the Bookish Community
This post is part of The Thanks U Give, a bookish community Thanksgiving celebration hosted by Hazel and Mishma. You can read the other posts in this blog hop here.

There are many countless reasons I'm thankful for the bookish community, countless ways it has improved my life. I can not imagine life if I had not discovered this wonderful bit of the internet.

Becoming a book blogger and joining the online bookish community has made me even more of a bookworm (if that's even possible).

If not for this community, I probably wouldn't have picked up many of the books I read this year (I'd wager at least 99%). My bookish horizons have widened, I've begun reading a larger and larger assortment of genres.

Another less expected side-effect of book blogging, has been me, gaining a love for web design.

This was utterly unexpected, but also utterly exciting and fantastic. I'm hoping to build upon my current coding knowledge, so one day I can perhaps create beautiful themes for other people's' blogs.

I've also found an outlet to express my bookworminess (none of my irl friends share my same level of bookish madness *sigh*).

Before, after finishing a particularly amazing book, I'd try to convince my friends to read it, generally to no avail. However, now I have the chance to pester the entire internet into reading a book. And of course there's the wonderful humans, people to fawn over pretty covers with, cry over dead ships, and screech about amazing books. (Unfortunately I have yet to become close friends with any fellow book bloggers, due to my inane fear of introducing myself, and my terrible friend making skills.)

When I first began blogging, I found writing reviews to be a bit difficult (though all posts were a bit of a challenge back then).

Though now I quite enjoy writing them, they've gotten easier too, as I've become better at putting my thoughts about the book into words. Reviewing books has also caused me to put more thought into my reading, I've noticed so many things that I wouldn't have before.

The bookish community is just overall a pretty brilliant bunch of people.

Though we've definitely got a sliver of a dark side, that makes an appearance ever so often, we're generally bursting with bookish love and amazing people.

In what ways are you thankful for the bookish community? How was your Thanksgiving?
continue reading

Monday, November 14, 2016

Who Am I Tag // How Well Do You Know Me? How Well Do I Know Myself???

I saw this tag on Amber's Blog and I decided I was tagging myself cause #rebel. I'm a quiz junkie so I'm super excited about this tag cause there's a ton of quizzes to do.


What is the meaning of your name?

I checked Urban Dictionary first, because their definitions are always amusing, especially when it comes to names. Here's my personal favorite:

A girl, whose parents were hippies and named her after a Grateful Dead song. But, it's okay her name is unusual, because she's the coolest person ever. (source)

And if you're wondering, no this is not true. My parents are the least-hippest people I know.

Also if you curious about the song the Urban Dictionary mentioned:

Other than this highly amusing definition, there was also a ton of entries about a hip-hop dude, who's stage name is Cassidy, and some from people who were either:
  • In love with a Cassidy, in ah... the most lusty way.
  • Apparently best friends with a Cassidy, who they think is awesome.
  • All in all that was an amusing experience (10/10 would do again). Moving on, let's get to the actual definition. According to Baby Name Wizard, my name is derived from the Gaelic elements cas, which means: a twisted lock of hair; ingenious, clever, sly. And apparently Cassidy therefore means "clever one, one with the twisted locks." I've also seen it defined as curly and red headed, which is wrong on all counts, as my hair is terribly straight and definitely not red.


    What is your Myers Briggs personality type? (link to the quiz)

    I took the (really long) quiz, and I got the ENTP aka "The Debator" personality type. The site provided a really long explanation about ENTP traits, which took forever to read, so to save your eyes here's a short list of what I learned:

    • ENTPs are the ultimate devil's advocate, also we love shredding arguments and beliefs (so basically #ass).
    • According to the site, we like "questioning the prevailing mode of thought" which makes us good at "reworking existing systems or shaking things up and pushing them in clever new directions."
    • ENTPs make up 3% of the population.
    • We can step on toes a lot with our ability to debate, we are unyieldingly honest, and tend to care more about being truthful, then about being viewed as sensitive or compassionate.
    • Strengths: We're knowledgeable, original, charismatic, and energetic. We make excellent brainstormers and are quick thinkers.
    • Weaknesses: We're argumentative, insensitive, and intolerant. We dislike practical matters, and can have a hard time focusing.

    Some famous ENTPs include: Mark Twain, Tom Hanks, Thomas Edison, Cèline Dion, and Sarah Silverman. Some fictional ENTPs include: Captain Jack Sparrow, Tyrion Lannister, Dumbledore, and the Joker from Batman (yikes).

    Most of the stuff listed above fit me pretty well. I like debating and can have a sharp tongue, but some of it is up for contention.


    What is your zodiac sign?

    I've considered myself an Aquarius my entire life, and I thought I was, until I found out through Amber that due to some sciencey stuff NASA has discovered I'm actually a Capricorn. However since Astrology is already pretty fake, I'm just sticking with Aquarius (also this is definitely me being overly dramatic, but I'm currently feeling a faint sense of betrayal).


    What Hogwarts house would you be in? (link to the quiz)

    Pottermore says I'm a Ravenclaw and I agree whole heartly, however this quiz gave me Gryffindor. Which is actually quite weird, as I can't ever remember getting Gryffindor, despite the many times I've retaken the Pottermore test as a result of always forgetting my password, and having to create a new account. *shrugs*


    What are your learning styles? (link to the quiz)

    Took the quiz, and here are my results: Kinesthetic: 11, Visual: 8, Aural: 7, Read/Write: 4. The last one's kinda odd, a person who loves to read and write, but doesn't learn that well through reading and writing? Haha this quiz just confirmed my suspicions, I'm weird.


    Are you more of a left-brain or a right-brain person? (link to the quiz)

    So I got the exact same thing as Amber, creepy or what. Like her I got 44% left and 56% right, so I use my brain pretty evenly.


    What is your blood type?

    I really don't have any clue. I never had my blood drawn/tested as a child, and my major fear of needles and syringes is keeping me well away from finding out my blood type anytime soon (I don't mind needles or syringes on their own, but the second their within each other's vicinity, I start freaking out).


    What career are you meant to be in? (link to the quiz)

    So I got writer! Which made me pretty happy, because my two dream jobs at moment are: working on story/character development for animated films or writing YA novels (now if only I could actually finish a first draft).


    Which Divergent faction do you belong in? (link to the quiz)

    So I got Erudite, not sure if this is a good thing, cause all I can remember about the Erudites is one power hungry monstrosity of lady, and one stone cold brother. For some reason the quiz didn't give me a description of Erudite like it does for the other results *shrugs*. So I dug around a bit, and found this description on the wiki:

    Erudite values the virtue of intelligence and wisdom over any other. The members focus their lives on the pursuit of knowledge. Erudite are expected to delegate themselves in the library reading books, or, most commonly, reading something from the computer. They are also known to have memorized the city map. Members are also known to be particularly eloquent. (source)


    What does your birth order say about you? (link to the article)

    I'm the oldest child in my family, but only by two years (I have one younger brother). According the the article, I am therefore a natural leader, ambitious and, responsible. Honestly I'm not sure how well these fit me... Good leader? Well I know I can get bossy sometimes, oops. Ambitious? I do have a competitive streak, and I've been raised to always aim for the highest grades. As for responsible, ahahaha.... I always turn in my homework, but I might have stayed up till 2am doing it cause I love procrastinating.

    So who do I tag?

    What are your results? Take some of those quizzes and let me know.
    continue reading

    Monday, October 17, 2016

    The Various Pros and Cons of Hardcopies, Audiobooks and Ebooks

    I'm sorry to say you can probably be expecting more erratic posting in the future, this is mostly due to the fact that high school started recently, and my time is already slipping through my fingers... *sigh* Now that we're done with the depressing stuff, let's move onto todays topic...

    First up, those good ol' original paper-made books... I have to admit out of all the formats, this is my most beloved.

    After all this is how I started out reading, books that I've read as a child hold memories for me in a way I believe no other format can.

    I find that I read hardcopies the fastest, and they look gorgeous on my desk (so pretty to stare at). Plus there's just something special about actually holding the book in your hands, and turning every page. Also hardcopies make thee best bookstagram photo props, there's no competition.

    On the flip side of things, with physical books, you can only fit so many in your bag before the carrying capsule has reached it's undeniable limit. Another downside is hardcovers are really heavy, but paperbacks are easier to damage, so neither is completely optimal for transporting around.

    I'm not sure if this is really a downside or not, but I'm uber protective of my hardcopies,

    if there's so much as a crease on a page's corner I feel agony. This can be pretty bad if someone asks to borrow one of my books. For example, once a friend of mine asked to borrow a book, and the next day I brought it to school in a gallon sized plastic bag. In my defense it was a signed copy, and of quite high value to me.

    Next audiobooks, I tend to listen to them while I'm working on something.

    I find them to be quite entertaining when I'm free to multitask. My mother first introduced them to me, we used to check audiobooks out from the library so we could listen to them on car trips. I loved this, mostly cause car trips are the worst. If I wasn't bored, than I was carsick. Audiobooks fixed those problems (well not sure it did to much for the latter).

    If the voice acting is good, it can be like movie minus the visuals. (which kind of is the whole point of the movie but whatever)

    However on the flip side if the voice acting is bad, then *cringe*.

    Bad voice acting can even lead to me DNFing a book if it's really so bad that I can't stand it. Another issue I have with audiobooks is, occasionally I'll get distracted, and then after a few minutes realize I have no clue what just happened.

    Now for the last one, honestly I started off really disliking ebooks, but I've slowly grown to appreciate them more.

    I love the slimness and compactness of ereaders, they're just so portable and light. A couple hardcover books can really add some serious weight to your bag. I received a kindle from my aunt awhile back, and it was nice to have, until I broke it of course. (whhhyyy am I such a clutz...)

    I've been intending to buy another, but I also need to get a new laptop and phone (hence my aptitude for breaking things, surprisingly enough the laptop has not become one of my victims, it has miraculously lived long enough to become too old and slow for my impatient soul).

    Another win for ebooks is they are easier to read in the dark at 2 am when your parents may or may not think you're asleep. Cause you know there's no need for that clunky flashlight you keep dropping on you face.

    Okay, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret, when I read on my phone I get distracted...

    (I know, I know, I'm a terrible bookworm *shame*. What should distract me from books? Nothing. But you know sometimes the internet is a siren luring you in...)

    So yeah, it can sometimes take me a little bit of time to finish an ebook. However when (if I ever) get around to getting an ereader this problem should pretty much go poof.

    However the biggest issue for me is I like being able to hold the physical book in my hands and turn the pages, and with ebooks that not exactly an option.

    So while ebooks offer a ton of advantages, and audiobooks also have their benefits, I'm gonna have to go with hardcopies as my favorite.

    Though, depending on the circumstances, at times I will prefer one of the other two.

    So you've heard my opinions, what are yours? What are your rankings for the different reading methods?
    continue reading

    Monday, October 3, 2016

    Shakespeare and Gay Rights // This Above All by Lindsey Culli ARC Review

    This Above All by Lindsey Culli Piper is already going behind her father's back when she auditions for the school play. Then to make matters worse she is cast as Romeo, a role her uber-religious father will most definitely not approve of. As to him, a woman playing a man's role in a play (a romantic one no less) is an act of homosexuality, which he considers, a sin against God. Piper is forced to decide between the religious beliefs she was brought up on, and the her newly developing opinions.

    Synopsis & Details:

    When sixteen-year old Piper is cast as Romeo in her school’s production, she’s as surprised as everyone else. Not only because she’s a girl, but also because she’s from one of the region’s most notorious ultraconservative families. But when the school principal demands that the part be recast read more... “appropriately” or the show cannot go on, Piper faces a choice: become the figurehead to appeal the principal’s decision or accept the message the administration’s ultimatum sends to the school’s gay students, including her new friends. Namely, that they should be ashamed of who they are or whom they happen to love.

    Pitched as Dirty Dancing meets Saved!, when the daughter of one of the region's most notorious ultraconservative families is cast as Romeo in her school production, drama is sure to follow.

    Title: This Above All
    Author: Lindsey Roth Culli
    Series: N/A
    Publication Date: August 29, 2016
    Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
    Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Curiosity Quills!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

    I requested This Above All from Netgalley because the synopsis intrigued me.

    I found the story idea to be really unique, and I'd also recently taken an interest in theatre (Hamilton's to blame).

    At about 10% this book really sucked me in.

    I did nothing but read for a couple hours (this may have also constituted forgetting about my homework and staying up too late on a weeknight). While I didn't manage to finish This Above All that night (it got too late, and if I sleep any later than 1:00 am then I'm guaranteed horrendous suffering the next day) the first thing I did next morning, was to finish the book.

    It was really interesting to see Piper's views change.

    I've seen plenty of character development, but I hadn't seen one quite like this before.

    I'm not completely sure whether the portrayal of Piper's very religious family is 100% accurate, being raised in a pretty unreligious atmosphere myself. It seemed a bit extreme in some cases, like the flushing people out of the woods with foghorns and flashlights. Though the anti-gay protests definitely felt realistic, and it really hurt to see her family treat people so poorly simply cause their sexuality.

    The ending was a bit anticlimactic, I just felt it fell a bit flat.

    (view spoiler)[Also Piper's father ends up giving a rose to her after her first performance as Romeo, and while that was an undoubtedly sweet moment, I didn't really see where it came from.] As for the love interest, I had a meh-ish attitude towards him. He wasn't too bad, except the part where he does some stupid things to supply romantic conflict.

    Overall This Above All was a great, quick read.

    The story deals with difficult and controversial topics without being too preachy, and has beautiful character development.

    Rating: 4/5 Stars

    Have you read any Shakespeare? Have you ever been in or tried out for a play?
    continue reading

    Monday, September 26, 2016

    Introducing My Genderbent!Mulan/Amazons Retelling // Beautiful People #21

    Beautiful People is a link-up hosted by Sky @ Further Up and Further and Cait @ Paperfury. At the beginning of every month, they post a couple questions, which you can answer with info about the characters in your current writing project. The link-up is designed to help you learn more about your characters and share them with the world. Find more info here.


    How did you come up with this character?

    Currently none of the characters in my Genderbent!Mulan/Amazons project have solid names (and I also don't have a title yet, normally those two are like the first things I come up with, but this writing project's been a bit different). I think my main character's name will most likely be Keung, but that's definitely liable to change.

    Keung popped into my head when I decided I wanted to do a Mulan retelling, at first he was girl, but then I decided I wanted to genderbend it and so his gender changed. Honestly I haven't been focusing to much on his character yet, I've been busy doing research on The Amazons and Ancient Chinese culture (you'd think me being of Chinese descent would mean I'm already well versed in the latter, but I'm really not in the slightest). So yeah that's how Keung came to be.


    Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

    Keung and his family are rather well off, so from what I've plotted out so far, no. However as I develop the plot further, I feel like such a scene will probably come along, and if it did, he'd break the fast with some steamed buns and rice porridge.


    Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?

    So in the world of the Genderbent!Mulan/Amazons story, every family has special power or skill that is passed down from a mother to her children (sorry dads). So the power Keung inherited is skinshifting (which means he can change his appearance. However he can't like grow a beak, he can only manipulate the feature he already has. Also pretty much the only thing he can't change is those uh unique male parts...). Also skinshifting is like really really rare and one of the more powerful skills, so yeah he's proud of his ability.


    List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.

    Messing with Keung's family is pretty much the surefire way to piss him off, and he definitely has plenty more pet peeves coming in the future, I just haven't gotten around to building that part of his character.


    What is their favorite type of weather? Least favorite?

    Keung likes the rain, but only when it's not getting in the way of his life. Finding him watching the rain as it streams down the windows and beats down against the world is a pretty common occurrence. As for least favorite, he absolutely despises the blistering summer heat.


    What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?

    I'm gonna have to go with the obvious and say Hufflepuff, after all the Ballad of Mulan is all about family. Mulan takes her father's place out of love for her father, Keung will do something similar for one of his family members.

    If I had to put him in a house other than Hufflepuff, I'd say Ravenclaw, as he kinda is the smart friend. Basically when everyone else is planning on doing something stupid, he's the one nagging them all about being idiotic, and trying to prove their idiocy to them by poking holes through their plans.


    Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?

    For Keung it depends, if there's major problems in the present to worry over, he'll think and contemplate about them until he's completely worn out. However if everything is going jolly well, his mind tends to wander to futuristic issues. (Basically, he's a full-time worrier like someone I know *cough* me *cough*)


    What is their favorite thing to drink?

    I'm going the extra cliche route and saying, tea. Well, for now. I haven't had this writing project running around my head for that long, so I'm still figuring out the plot and characters, and I have zero clues what Keung would like the drink.


    What is their favorite color? Least favorite?

    Blue is his favorite, specifically the pale tones. And his least favorite is gold, too gaudy for his tastes.


    What is a book that changed their life?

    I really have no clue which book I'd pick. I haven't read a lot of ancient Chinese novels, and I'm not even certain which time period I'm sticking this fantasy in....

    Are you working on a story, or do you plan to? If you're working on one, how far along are you?
    continue reading

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Their All Grown-Up // Frost like Night by Sara Raasch Blog Tour + ARC Review + Giveaway

    Small warning this review will contain spoilers for the first two books in this series, Snow like Ashes and Ice like Fire.

    Frost Like Night was a wonderful conclusion. I was a bit worried about this one cause the second book lacked some luster (though that can most likely be attributed to middle book syndrome), but Frost like Night was amazing and unlike Ice like Fire, never reduced me to an angry, flaming, human.

    Synopsis & Details:

    Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe. Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she read more... jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

    Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

    Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

    As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

    Title: Frost like Night (Snow like Ashes #3)
    Author: Sara Raasch
    Series: Snow like Ashes
    Publication Date: September 20, 2016
    Genres: YA, Fantasy, Romance
    Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Balzer + Bray!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

    I'm pretty satisfied with how this series ended.

    Though I was a bit annoyed with how looonggg it took them to realize the solution to the, (view spoiler)[Meria has to die to save the world issue. It was pretty obvious to me the second the Cordellan dagger appeared.] But I can definitely see why the plot worked out how it did.

    The love triangle conflict wasn't as prominent (if not practically none existent) in the third book as it was in the second (Which was a REALLY good thing). (view spoiler)[I sorta realized that Theron was pretty much only a conventional romantic blockade™, and had like zero chance of ending up with Meira. Which was kinda annoying, since pretty much the only reason the second book bugged me so much was that curse of a love triangle. Though Mather, the dude I was rooting for, did end up with Meira, so there's not really much for me to complain about.] I also acquired a new otp, Jesse and Ceridwen rather quickly stole my heart in Ice like Fire, but in Frost like Night they ran away with it.

    Despite being a near 500 paged book, Frost like Night moved relatively quickly for me.

    One afternoon I just sat my butt down, decided I was gonna finish my copy, and pretty much whipped through it in a couple of hours. So if you're worried that this one's gonna be a tad slow, like Ice like Fire, then you've got nothing to fear.

    I'm sure this is kinda of a weird thing to say, but toward the end of the book, I had this little "my child's all grown up epiphany."

    It just suddenly hit me how much the story had evolved, and how much Meira and all the characters had grown. I'm really going miss them, though I'm super excited to see all that Sara Raasch has in store next.

    Rating: 4/5 Stars

    Have you read this series? Are your Team Theron or Team Mather?
    About Sara Raasch
    Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray, and the sequel, ICE LIKE FIRE, comes out October 13, 2015. Neither features her hand-drawn pictures.

    Blog Tour Schedule
    Week One
    Week Two
    continue reading