Friday, May 9, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday: A Dinner Invitation

It's been a while since I've participated in anything: Feature and Follow, Top Ten Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday, etc. I was on a little hiatus over the Easter holiday - three weeks to be exact - but now it's over and I'm back in the game... sort of.

I'm kind of taking my time getting back into the swing of things because.... (and this is a secret just for my fellow bloggers)... I've started writing again. Many of you probably don't know that I go through phases of writing for months, non-stop except to work, eat, sleep and use the potty. Then I poop out and don't touch a thing I've worked on for months. So I'm going full force this time, except with the intention of taking breaks and non pooping out and maybe, finally, possibly, hopefully attempting to publish (probably self pub) something. So with that being said, I want to start looking to authors and see what tips worked for them. Obviously mainly self-pub'd authors but even some bigger names. Which brings me to the reason I'm here today:

This week's Feature and Follow Friday question is:

What living author or authors would you like to have dinner with? (Try to think beyond JK Rowling)

That little addition kind of screws me up because honestly, my answer is J.K. Rowling. But for the sake of being a good sport and thinking outside the box, I've come up with my next answer(s) which were almost as easy as the first:

Rainbow Rowell,
Jodi Picoult,
and Nora Roberts

Rainbow Rowell is a recent addition to my list of favorites and I would love the chance not only to meet her, but to pick her brain about her amazing books and her writing process.

Jodi Picoult is one of the first authors I ever loved and everything of hers I've ever read, I've loved. Seriously. And I've read a lot of her novels. I'd love to talk over dinner and find out how she always packs one hell of a punch into each and every novel she writes.

and Nora Roberts: My writing hero. Though I've strayed a bit from the romance genre in recent years and while I know Nora tends to be a bit predictable and redundant in some of her newer novels, she is still the queen of descriptive passages and strong characters (female, especially). She is the first author I ever loved, and yes she has her faults but she'll always have a place in my reader's heart and maybe, maybe one day I will have the chance to pick her brain, too, about how she writes in such detail and sticks to such strong and willful female characters in different storylines.

So consider this my official dinner invitation:

I cordially invite you, Rainbow, Jodi and Nora, to a night out on the town with the highly sought after author of the blog I Solemnly Swear: Amanda (that's me!) :)

So ladies, will you have dinner with me?!

What authors would you like to have dinner with?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Series Review: The Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead

I've never really done a series review before, but since I have quick opinions on each book and some things to say about the series as a whole, I thought it'd be easier than posting four separate pointless reviews. Below are the mini-reviews for the following:

Bloodlines (#1): ISBN: 9780141337111, released: August 23, 2011;
The Golden Lily (#2): ISBN: 9781595143181, released June 12, 2012;
The Indigo Spell (#3): ISBN: 9781595143198, released February 12, 2013; and
The Fiery Heart (#4): ISBN; 9781595143204, released November 19, 2013.

**The following mini-reviews may contain spoilers for the Vampire Academy series. Click here for spoiler free reviews of the Vampire Academy series**



     I went into this first book looking forward to continuing a series I enjoyed a lot, Vampire Academy, but not expecting anything fantastic. While I enjoyed VA, it wasn't life changing and I had a lot of grievances over Mead's writing and choices in the story. As I started Bloodlines, I realized there was nothing life changing at first either, and then I realized that Mead was actually not doing some of the annoying things she did throughout VA, e.g., info dumps, etc. I ended up liking it a whole lot more than I expected to and really connected with Sydney, Adrian (who I really hated in VA) and some of the other minor characters (though Jill tended to get on my nerves). I loved it more than I think I loved any of the VA books and was so eager to move on to book 2.

*Please note there may be spoilers for Bloodlines in this mini-review*

     I ended up enjoying this one a lot but not quite as much as I enjoyed Bloodlines. I was annoyed by the way a lot of things played out, specifically a certain rescue that took two days! WTF! Some things just didn't go the way I'd hoped but one thing that did go the way I'd hoped was the Sydney/Adrian dynamic. I won't spoil anything that happens in this book but I love their friendship and the way they developed and Sydney stopped being an uptight little snotball (well, somewhat stopped) and opened up a lot. I really learned a lot about Sydney and grew to love her even though she was an uber-bitch in book 1.

*Please note there may be spoilers for the previous two books in this mini-review*

     I went into this one really wary, too, because a blog friend of mine, Kelly of Dandelion Dreams, didn't like it as much as the others. I was a little disappointed with the direction the Marcus Finch thing went in and I was especially surprised with the way the witch thing ended up going. All of those things aside, I LOVED this one for one reason and one reason only: Sydney/Adrian. I need nothing else in these books other than "Sydrian". This book was more character-driven this time around but I was totally okay with that. I can't count how many times my heart nearly burst from swoon and excitement and happiness and sometimes sadness. If it weren't for the out of place witch thing and the anti-climactic deal with Marcus Finch, this would've been a perfect novel!

*Please note there may be spoilers for the previous three books in this mini-review*

I just... am at a loss for words when trying to describe The Fiery Heart. By page one, I was already grinning like a fool and thanking the bookish gods for giving us Adrian's POV. He was hysterical, and so, so sweet, and sometimes reading about him made me a little sad. Adrian came off as very arrogant and selfish in the VA series and that's most of the reason I didn't like him. In The first three Bloodlines books we get to know him better, but nothing like in The Fiery Heart. My heart belongs to Adrian, that's all I can really say that sums it all up.

Sydney and Adrian were amazing - they just did something unnatural to my emotions with all of their interactions. And then comes the end of the book, which I guess I should've seen coming but I was very near hyperventilating and now I NEED Silver Shadows in my hands right now. It's even worse knowing I'll finish Silver Shadows in two days tops and won't have the next book for God only knows how long, 6 months, a year? Needless to day, The Fiery Heart was the best of the series so far and I think I'm going to re-read this one, just to relive all the feels.

SERIES RATING: ★★★★ 1/2 - Loved it!

I seriously didn't think I'd ever get around to reading the Bloodlines series or like it enough to read the whole thing because while I enjoyed VA, I didn't love it - not nearly as much as I love Bloodlines anyway. So when I finally picked them up and fell in love, it was quite the pleasant surprise. All four books were great, especially the last two which were fantastic!

Have you read the Bloodlines series yet? What did you think about them? If not, are you planning on reading it? You're in for a treat if that's the case! Let's talk books!

Happy Reading! A.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

ISBN: 9781423171027
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Series: Starbound #1
Released: November 20, 2013
Goodreads  |  Amazon

"It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it."

I was so incredibly excited when I finally was able to pick this book up back in February. The cover is gorgeous, the premise sounds amazing, the reviews are great. I started reading it and was pleasantly surprised at the solid writing and strong characters. Sadly though, I was slightly disappointed as I read further into the story. It was just good. I was hoping for something amazing, something mind-blowing but unfortunately it was not.

The pacing was pretty good at first but then about half way through, I was really ready for things to pick up and they just didn't. I felt like I spent the entire time waiting to "get to the good part". I was convinced that something big and epic was coming and while something did happen toward the end that gave me the scare of my life, it wasn't the epic thing I was looking for. Frankly, I just didn't think the author capitalized on all of the potential this story had.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I still did really enjoy this book. I LOVED the romance. It was my favorite aspect of the book. Tarver was downright hysterical and so swoon-worthy and I just loved him and Lilac together.

The writing was absolutely beautiful and the story was haunting and sometimes a little scary, to be honest. If I were Lilac, I think I would've freaked the hell out about halfway through the story. I also think the world-building was pretty well done but I just need more. I expect that we will get more with the release of This Shattered World in November of this year, but that is only a companion novel so while we will get more world building, will we get more Lilac and Tarver in any way? I need MORE!

RATING: ★★★★ Really Liked It!

I was hoping for something amazing when I sat down to read this book and while I did really like it, it wasn't mind-blowing or anything. The pacing was just too slow and I spent a lot of time waiting for something big to happen. With that being said, I adored the characters, the romance the world building and especially the writing which was amazing and beautiful.

I really want to read the next book because I believe the authors can build on the set up made by TBS and come up with something excellent.

Have any of you read TBS? If so, what did you think? Did the writing and great characters do it for you and you loved it with all your heart? Or, like me, did the pacing and lack of action kind of let you down a bit, but you still really liked it? Or (and I hope not) did you just hate it altogether? I'd love to know what you think!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

ISBN: 9780316056878
Source: Gift
Format: Paperback
Series: None, stand-alone
Released: April 5, 2011
Goodreads | Amazon

Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

Bossypants was the first book non-fiction I've read for review. Reading a non-fiction book was one of my goals for 2014 and I decided to start with a memoir because I didn't think a self-help or history book would be too fun to read or review. Bossypants, on the other hand,was super fun to read and really easy to talk about. Mostly because it is about one of the funniest women in television!

Tina Fey's memoir was so funny. But (and there is a "but").... it wasn't laughing-my-guts-out funny. I wasn't disappointed by that though. The parts that weren't that funny instead were touching or endearing and rather interesting (about her career, etc.). I actually found Fey really relatable in the sense that she didn't always feel confident or think she had what it would take to make it in the business she was in, but she went for things and tried things and hey, here she is. She's Tina Fey! SNL Sarah-Palin-impersonator-extraordinaire (I love those skits)!
RATING: ★★★★ Really liked it!

All in all, while there were points where it seemed like Fey was trying too hard to be funny, I actually did laugh out loud quite a few times and thoroughly enjoyed learning more about her as a person and about her career.

I'll say that for my first non-fiction read on the blog, it was a success! I was really nervous going into it because I'm a huge romance/dystopia/fantasy/sci-fi fan and I wasn't sure how a true story was going to go for me. I've only ever read a few other memoirs and they were all really sad ones, like that one about Jaycee Dugard being kidnapped and stuff. While those were really captivating, it was a nice change to read something happy and encouraging and that made me laugh out loud.

Have any of you read Bossypants? If so, what did you think? Did she have you cracking up laughing like I was? If you haven't read it, how interested are you in reading non-fiction and memoirs? Is this a goal of yours also or do you only read fiction? I'd love to hear what you think!

Happy Reading!