Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life of a Blogger: Goals and Dreams

So this week's topic on Life of a Blogger is goals and dreams.
Hosted by Jessi from Novel Heartbeat
 Wow...another difficult topic! I'll give it a try!

  • Right now, we're looking at houses. This is a dream come true for me! I'm really hoping that we get something cute at a reasonable price -and- it won't need too much work. 
  • Another goal is for John and I to live in the same city. Currently, we're spending a lot of time traveling between cities.
  • My reading goal for the year is to read at least 50 books. I didn't make it last year, I only got to 44. Here's to getting back in the groove of reading!
So those are some of my goals and dreams for this year. I'd love to hear some of yours!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday:Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club (If I Had A Book Club).

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club (If I Had A Book Club).

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
There is soooo many questions that would lead to good discussions. Is the main character really making poor choices to protect her family or because she feels its the right thing to do? What would be the repercussions of other various choices she made? 

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Again, there are numerous discussion points. Dementia. Making your path, different from what your family would chose. Coping with a chronic illness, etc...

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
This would be a fun book club read. This is a fun book in general! It would be fun to discuss the various locations of the book and the overall romance. 

Every Day by David Levithan
I'm not where to begin with this one. Can you change genders? How was "A" born? Did "A" have parents? Was "A" just soul or something more? What determines which sex you are attracted to?

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This brings up a lot of family issues. What the most appropriate way to raise a child? Is there a right way to begin with? What can be gained from Walls' childhood? Would she be the same person today if she had different parents?

Graveminder by Melissa Marr  
I would gear the discussion around the writing. Is there a lack of character development? Was this book based more on a premise than actually delivering a solid story?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This book has a lot of discussion potential. Segregation. Feminism. Social class. There are endless possibilities. 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Unfortunately, I can't share my discussion points with this one because it would spoil the ending, but trust me...there are some good questions regarding the ending!

This realistic distopia leads one to ponder many questions. What would we do if our water supply ran low/out? What measures would you take to protect what you had? Would you leave the safety of what you know for the promise of something better? Is there more we could be doing to retain our resources so this doesn't become a problem?

Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder 
This whole series should be a book club MUST HAVE! Discussion points include: Did the main character make the right choice or should she have stood her ground on principle? Do you find the romance forced or natural? 

There are so many good books that would be great for a book club. What are some that you would recommend? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Eye of Zoltar (Chronicles of Kazam #3) by Jasper Fforde

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Orphaned sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, a Mystical Arts Management company that rents out wizards for cash. The Mighty Shandar tells Jennifer that if she finds a mysterious jewel named The Eye of Zoltar, he will spare the dragons he didn't manage to kill in Book One.
It is said the Eye was last seen around the neck of the really very legendary and not at all likely Sky Captain Morgan, who reputedly plunders jetliners from the back of the equally legendary and probably not real Leviathan, a kind of flying manta ray the size of a coach.
Meanwhile, the King and Queen of Snodd thinks that Jennifer, 'a young lady of considerable daring, moral worth and resourcefulness' should take over the tutelage of the hideous spoiled teenage Princess Shazzine, in order that she learns to rule with distinction once the King and Queen are gone.
Jennifer agrees with some reluctance, and together, she, trainee magician Perkins and the princess - cunningly and without any originality disguised as a handmaiden - cross into the neighbouring Cambrian Empire, a dangerous country strewn with peril and a focus for bored daredevils seeking perilous adventures as a form of Jeopardy Tourism.
After procuring a tour guide aged ten named Addie, they venture deep into the heart of the most dangerous place in the most dangerous place in the whole Ununited Kingdoms: The Empty Quarter, within which lies their goal: The legendary Leviathan's Graveyard, inconveniently perched at the very top of the mountain known as Cadir Idris, its lofty summit permanently shrouded in cloud.
Many people have visited the mountain, but none have returned. Perhaps the legend of Sky Pirate Morgan and the Leviathans are true - or perhaps the clouds that obscure the summit hide a far deeper secret. Pretty soon the Princess, Addie, Jennifer and Perkins are fighting the powers of darkness not just for their lives, but for everything they know and love...

Book Review:
Oh how I love this series! Here is my review of the first book. Fforde combines magic and comedy in this lighthearted story. Jennifer makes for a great main character with her bravery, sarcasm, and quick thinking. However, the supporting characters and just as important and vibrant as ever. I loved the addition of the princess and tour guide. They're such fun, quirky characters! Fforde leaves nothing out...castles, pirates, dragons, and adventure galore! I highly recommend this series if you're looking for a fun venture.

Cover Art Commentary:
This is not the cover that I currently own. Mine can be found here. I find that the cover shown above goes along with my other books in the series. It's colorful and whimsical, just like the story.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Life of a Blogger: Achievements

So this week's topic on Life of a Blogger is achievements. This is kind of a difficult topic for me, but I'll give it a go:

  • Graduating nursing school. This was several years ago, but it was very difficult. My mom was just reminiscing about how she would come home from work to find me at the kitchen table doing my homework in tears because I didn't think I would make it through, only to get up the next day at 4 AM to drive to clinicals.
  • Getting engaged to the love of my life...a.k.a. this guy: 
  • Completing by BSN. Yes, as if nursing school wasn't difficult enough, I went back for my bachelors. It has opened so many doors for me. 
  • Getting back into blogging. I left mid-2013 and took a long break, but now I'm back sharing my love of reading, films, and apparently various other aspects of my life. ;)
  • Reading over 40 books last year even though I changed jobs twice, got engaged, and moved. 

What are some of your achievements? Leave a comment and let me know! :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred—the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic. . . .
THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.
THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia’s overpowering magic—all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.
THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.
The only certainty in these dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica. . . . but the four element gods of the Kindred have other plans.

Book Review:
How do I not review this without getting all fan-girly? We start out in what seems to be an impossible situation. A princess trapped in an unhappy marriage to the son of the tyrant who killed everyone she knew and loved. Everyone is hungry for power and willing to go to extreme measures to get their hands on the kindred. Let me tell you, things go from bad to worse. Reminiscent of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, This YA high fantasy almost takes on an adult tone. I think that might be the appeal for me. It complicated, without being overly complicated...if that makes sense. I don't know how Morgan Rhodes writes these interweaving story-lines and intricate plots, but she's pure genius and I definitely plan on reading everything she writes.

Cover Art Commentary:
Love the covers of the entire series! This is possibly the most menacing of the bunch, which make sense as this story is the most menacing of the bunch.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Film Feature: Into The Woods

I've been begging John to go see Into the Woods and we finally went last weekend. Unfortunately, I have not seen the musical live (I would love to), so I cannot compare. That being said I absolutely adored it. Emily Blunt really makes this movie, along with Maryl Streep. Their characters were my favorite, and they played their parts well. Here is a clip from one of my favorite parts of the movie. 

What might be surprising for some viewers, is that this really isn't a musical for kids, it's actually more geared toward parents. That being said, if you are a fan of fairy tales, especially performed in song, then this movie is for you. I would love to hear from you dear reader. Have you seen the movie or the musical live, or both? If so, what did you think?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Life of a Blogger: Bad Habbits

I am late to the party, but I just stumbled across this post from Novel Heartbeat and thought I would join in on the fun! Technically, bad habits was last week's topic, but better late than never!

  • Surfing the internet. It is such a time killer and I am guilty of it through and through! Facebook, instagram, goodreads, reading blogs, food blogs, you tube...yep! Guilty!
  • Ignoring voicemail. I'm not a big talker to begin with. I absolutely hate when people leave mundane messages such as "Just wanted to tell you I went to the store to buy apples, and ended up with enough butter for the year." My mom does this ALL. THE. TIME. It drives me crazy, and I end up leaving VMs for up to 3 days before listening to them. 
  • Buying more books than I could ever possibly read. I'm a sucker for a gorgeous cover and a clever summary. I think I'm always going to have more time to read than I actually do. 
  • Taylor Swift. I'm such a sucker and totally ashamed. 
  • Carbs. Pasta, pizza, bread, you name it, I love it. I'm trying to eat healthier this year so I've cut way back on my carb intake. But, boy, do I still love me some carbs.
  • I guess this goes along with "surfing the internet," but my newest craze is make-up videos, which leads to excessive spending. It's an endless cycle!

Okay, I think that's enough for now. What are your bad habits?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day
5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market
4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi
3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm
2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)
1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000
Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

Book Review:
Ok. So I was recommended this book via goodreads. Initially, I was grabbed by the cover! It's just darling! I read the description and was hooked by the top 10 lists...such a cute idea. This book met and exceeded my expectations. At first I was expecting...well see the you tube video below:
What I got was a fun little YA mystery that had a little of drama, making new friends, romance, snarkastic comments. I read through this little jem in no time at all. I will definitely be looking to Czukas for future books!

Cover Art Commentary:
In case you didn't notice my previous sqeeing...This cover is absolutely adorable! It's playful, colorful, and whimsical!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs

Book Summery (Via Goodreads): This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

Book Review:
Let's jump right in, shall we? Slightly disappointed with this follow-up to Miss Peregrine's. The first book was certainly more successful. This time around, I felt like Riggs struggled to incorporate the pictures into the story. The result was a choppy, slow-placed story line that didn't speed up until the end. I also felt slightly disconnected from the characters. I have mixed feelings regarding if I'll continue the series or not.

Cover Art Commentary:
I enjoy the originality of these covers. This sequel follows suit with the black and white photos. The photo that is featured is a critical point in the story, so I appreciate that makes me appreciate it even more.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Film Feature: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Recently, John and I saw the latest Hobbit movie: The Battle of the Five Armies. In full disclosure, I have not read The Hobbit. I have tried to read it several times, but I never made it through. I got confused with all the names and there's a lot of singing. 

However, I have enjoyed the movie series. It makes me wish that each Lord of the Rings movie had been broken down into 2 or 3 movies. 

I did enjoy this final installation of The Hobbit. That being said, in all honesty, it wasn't my favorite out of the three movies. I enjoyed the first movie the most. There were many enjoyable parts to this movie, however. I enjoyed the overall arc of the characters, particularly the elves and the dwarfs. I enjoyed learning more about the wizards and some of the precursory story to the Lord of the Rings

What were some of your favorite components of this movie? Is this your favorite out of three? If not, which movie is your favorite?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Lola's Lounge: Top 10 Books of 2014

I know, I'm late to the party. But, just like cheese, I get finer with age...or moldier. Ok, let's forget the cheese reference. I didn't do any blogging last year, but I did get some reading in. Here are my top ten favorites that I read in 2014, let's just dive in shall we?:

1. The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde: I love the entire series, The Chronicles of Kazam. However, this little beauty happens to be my favorite out of the series, at least thus far. The next book is arriving today, so that might change. The Chronicles of Kazam are full of lighthearted British humor (I bet you didn't know that existed) and whimsy. There are dragons, wizards, and of course, the ever elusive quarkbeast. I highly recommend this series. They're fairly quick reads, give 'em a try!

2. In A Handful of Dust by Midny McGinnis: Ok, so you're probably noticing a trend...I like series. I think it's because I don't like a story to end (at least if it's good). This is a companion to Not a Drop to Drink, which if you haven't read, you should. Like now. These are distopian novels, but very, very believable. Sh*t gets real, if you know what I mean. They definitely make me grateful for what I have, like clean water, medicine, and food. 

3. Curtsies & Conspiracies and Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger: Ok, so I'm counting both of these as one book. There are worst things in the world, like pickles and beets, and of course other non-food related items. I digress! Gail Carriger is one of my top favorite authors. Period. I just adored her adult series, and while her YA series isn't quite up to where her adult series stands, they're just as fun and whimsical. I love the steampunk setting, Carriger pens the Victorian era so, well. It might take you a bit to settle into her style of writing, but it's sooo worth it! 

4. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: This book is for anyone who has every felt out of place and didn't know where they fit-in, or if they were ever going to. So basically like every high school kid. Ever. Words can't describe this book, it really is an experience that you can only accomplish by reading it. 

5. My Life as A White Trash Zombie and Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland: I am confident, dear reader, that you have come to accept that I am going to break the rules, and I thank you. Another series! Woo Hoo! These are both quirky, light reads that had me chuckling along the way. They came as recommendations from two online readers/bloggers that I have bonded with over my years of book blogging. When I got their recommendations, my first reaction was "you can't be serious." Well, the story is based around a white trash zombie, so I leave the level of seriousness for you to decide. P.S. We're half-way there! 

6. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: As much as I would like to say that I am not a contemporary reader, Sarah Ockler has won me over time and time again with her YA contemporaries. I half-listened to the audio book and half-read the actual book (I had to take the audiobook back to the library mid-way through the story. Darn those teens and their love of audiobooks!). I melted into the story within the first few sentences. This book center's around the main character's father, his early onset of Alzheimer's, and how said character copes. Ok, if you know nothing about me, that is about to change. I'm a nurse. I've worked in the nursing field since I was 16. I have spent a lot of time with dementia and Alzheimer's patients. Ockler got it exactly right. I highly encourage everyone to read this book, even if you don't like contemporaries. ;)

7. Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams: This book combines my love of cooking, cooking shows, an reality cooking shows. What more could I ask for?! I would get so hungry while reading this! After a while I would have to stop reading and whip up some pasta or definitely not a book that kept me on a healthy diet. 

8. Cress by Marissa Meyer: Ok, so I like steampunk. However, The Lunar Chronicles are so different from the series' that Gail Carriger writes. I love how Meyer incorporates fairy tales into her own steampunk creations. WHO DOES THAT?! It's pure genius! I can not wait for the next book in the series! Meyer, why must you torture me so?!

9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: So I put off reading this book for a loooong time. I just didn't get how the creepy pictures could be incorporated into an actual story that I would believe, much less like. Oh little child! I couldn't have been more wrong. My fiance fiiiinally convinced me to read this and once I started, I devoured it. John bought me the squeal, Hollow City, for my birthday, which I am reading now. At this point (about 25% through the book), I like Peculiar Children better, but only time will tell which book will end up victorious! 

10. Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis: This little gem was the final book I read in 2014. Way to go out with a bang! If I had to compare it, I'd say it reminds me of a YA version of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Very mysterious and dark, an absolute treat to read. I'll definitely be looking at Ellis in the future for more treasures like this! 

 Honorable Mention: The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Mass: Again, this was a series that I had waiting a long time on before actually reading. Sometimes, when a book or series gets a lot of hype, I get turned off. There are times when I've been right to be weary (Twilight, anyone?) and times when I feel like I've missed out by waiting so long (Harry Potter). This series falls in the latter group. However, it didn't land in the top ten because I think there are some consistency issues. I enjoyed the first book, loved the second even more, then the third felt like a step back. Heir of Fire had this essence of being stretched out for stretched-out sake. The slower pace and prolonged storytelling did not add anything the book or series. It felt like the author was trying to sate her fan's appetites, while unsure of where the story will go. That's just my opinion. I still read the third book with gusto and plan to continue the series, but I will hold on to my reservations.

Ok, that's it folks. If you made it through this list, I thank you. I'd love to hear your input, so comment below! Here's to another great year of reading in 2015!!!