Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: August 25 through August 31


I am definitely not the only blog that does this and I'm definitely not going to be the last. This is a Sunday feature where make a masterpost of all the reviews and features I did the previous week along with tentative plans for the next week. But, let's be real here, I'm not all that big on following schedules. However, making them gives me an illusion of control. Sometimes I need that. I hope you enjoy it.


Reviews

Blog Hops

Not So Vicariously! Adventures: Book Signing In Powder Springs, GA

Coming Next Week
More Reviews!
More blog hopping!
A new Spotlight Saturday!
And a Fresh Stacking the Shelves Post
Disney Princesses Tag Meme
A Rebecca Speaks Moment
SPECIAL GIVEAWAY

Have a great week guys! I hope you're all doing well and you shall see me comment on your blogs very soon. Sorry for the absence and general lack of content. But here's to another successful week!


Not So Vicarious Adventures: The Bookworm Book Signing in Powder Springs, GA


So I was contacted by a person from Harlequin TEEN (and believe me, I freaked OUT) and informed about a book signing two hours north of me that would feature Adi Alsaid and his novel Let's Get Lost and Jennifer E. Smith who has written The Geography of You and Me, This Is What Happy Looks Like, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and many more. Seriously go to her GoodReads page cause Jennifer is an insanely talented and prolific author!

What I didn't know is that I'd stumble on the absolute upon a third author there named Vernell Chapman (look at her GoodReads) and find more books I want to read.

Please note: Now that Joel has abandoned me for Kansas (actually guys he's doing really really well there and is clearly still a part of the blog, but we've never lived more than fifteen minutes away for the fourteen years of our friendship) I plan on becoming more of a hermit, which suits me just fine. Though I highly suspect my little sister will drag me out on excursions and some of my friends will make me come out of my turtle shell more often, but I love spending time with them so this doesn't particularly bother me. But it does mean I will have more time for the blog and doing the stuffs I'm SUPPOSED TO BE DOING AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN DOING ALL ALONG. I WILL BE DOING ALLLLLL THE READING!


Myself and Breanna of The Critical Corner
So I'm going to tell you about the crazy that was this glorious day! And also be hosting a giveaway with some of the swag I got!

My friend from North Carolina is down visiting me, I call him Thumper, and he got to experience his first Walker Family Road Trip. My mom and dad, who are kinda awesome, were really excited to go with me. Plus with Powder Springs being a few hours from where I live, with the added stress of going to Atlanta traffic. I'm not the best driver in the world so it was decided that some one else should drive.

Please Note: Driving in Atlanta traffic is insane. You basically have to pretend you are in the Indy 500, take every chance you can to change lanes and turns, and try your damndest to prevent hitting other cars.
The lovely Vernell Chapman

I woke up and Thumper and I headed to the local mall because I needed to grab a few things. However my dad did not tell us we needed to depart at two pm, so with the rush to come home, shower, and get dressed we didn't leave until three-fifteen pm and I had to put my boots and makeup on in the car.

Thirty minutes into the trip, I hear a pop and my dad's tire light comes on. My dad pulls into a gas station and, lo and behold, we have a flat tire. Luckily my dad had a spare and he works on cars for a living. Changing a tire for him? Easy peasy. However driving on a spare tire isn't the best idea, especially when you've still got two hours left til you reach your destination and then the almost three hour drive back. My dad drove to The Bookworm anyways cause he's awesome like that.

The Incomparable Jennifer E. Smith
We still got there early, but I'm definitely the person who is always early to everything. I hate being late. I detest it with a passion. So at five thirty we are there and I'm trying to shake off all the nerves and anxiety (I have an anxiety disorder so socializing can be really really hard for me in person). I step into The Bookworm and it's this quirky, hole in the wall bookstore. I immediately fell in love. If you are EVER in Powder Springs, GA? They are a phenomenal new and used bookstore. You should definitely check them out and support their business. Not only are they total sweethearts, but they've got great steals on used books and a very extensive collection at that. It's definitely worth the trip guys!

I ran into Vernell first. She was sweet and easy to talk to. Her
books sound absolutely breathtaking. I can't
wait to get my hands on them. It eased my jitters a bit.

The Talented Adi Alsaid.
The other authors weren't there yet so I wandered around and found some awesome deals on books. And who did I run into? Another book blogger. Breanna is the blogger at The Critical Corner and an absolute sweetheart. After chatting and bonding over books we saw Adi and Jennifer walk in. We were both crazy nervous, but we approached them and introduced ourselves. It was right before the book signing started so we got to just talk to them for a bit. Both Adi and Jennifer were very kind and gracious. They also agreed (including Vernell and Breanna) to being interviewed for future Spotlight Saturdays.

Vernell, Jennifer, and Adi signing books.
Breanna and I got to take pictures with them and pick up some swag of our own while the authors signed our books. Adi and Jennifer were some of the most gracious people I've met and they were such a pleasure to meet. I saw them with a few other people and they were engaging, laughing, and it seemed like it was a good experience for all.

For all this I want to give a huge thank you to Jennifer E. Smith, Adi Alsaid, Vernell Chapman, and The Bookworm for making this such an enjoyable experience as well as Harlequin TEEN and Lisa Wray for informing me of this amazing opportunity.

Guys be prepared for next week! I'll be giving away some swag from the book signing and other things. Stay tuned and keep an eye on my twitter for more!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spotlight Saturday featuring Author Jessica Verdi


Spotlight Saturday is a feature that I came up with based of Singing and Reading in the Rain's feature calledBlogger Interviews. I take it a step further. I don't just interview bloggers, but I get reviews from authors and sometimes readers as well. I sometimes tap people on my own, but if you'd like to be tapped please go here and follow the instructions under Spotlight Saturday. Any content used in these interviews is the property of this blog so please contact me and ask to use it before you do. My e-mail is in my contact info.

I discovered Jessica after reading her book The Summer I Wasnt Me (click on the title to go to the review) and asked her for an interview. Being the fabulous lady that she is? She agreed and this is what happened!

Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for stopping by Vicariously! Why don't you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

Thanks for having me! Let's see, I live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband and dog. I was an actor in New York for a long time before I decided to pursue my MFA in Writing for Children from the New School. I graduated in 2012, and my first book, My Life After Now, was published in 2013. I also work full time as a Senior Editor for a romance novel publisher. I love watching scripted TV (reality not so much), I'm a vegetarian, and I put hot sauce on almost everything.
You wrote a book called The Summer I Wasn't Me, and it dealt with an extremely controversial topic: conversion camps. How did you come up with the premise?

When I was toying with ideas for the topic of my second novel, this story really called out to me. I’ve always been fascinated by these so-called conversion camps, places where religious leaders claim they can turn gay kids straight. There is no doubt in my mind that they’re claiming to do the impossible, and that telling LGBTQ kids there’s something wrong with them is nothing short of abuse, but the root behind these camps actually, in a twisted way, stems from a good place. The parents who send their kids to these programs truly believe their children are on the wrong path in life and that they will go to hell if they don’t make a change. These parents are desperate to “save” their kids, in their own misguided way. This is something that has long intrigued me, and a world I knew I wanted to explore in the book.

But it all came together for me when, funnily enough, I was listening to Lady Gaga’s song “Hair.” The chorus of that song goes, “I just want to be myself and I want you to love me for who I am.” And I started thinking about all the kids who aren’t loved for who they are, and that made me so sad. And I knew I had to tell Lexi’s story.

What did you find hardest about writing that book?

It was important to me to not just write a very one-sided story, where everyone thinks the camp is ridiculous and no one wants to be there, even though that's how I would personally feel. In reality, teens and adults go to and believe in these programs for all kinds of reasons, and the people who run them and the people who send their kids there are also usually coming from an authentic place in their hearts. It's a complicated issue, and so I knew the story had to show all those different perspectives. In order to do that, I had to really climb inside the heads of the people who believe in these places, believe the work they do there is good and right. That was very challenging for me, emotionally, but I think the book is the better for it.
Did you research conversion camps before you wrote the book? What did you base the camp, New Horizons, off of?

I did! I spent a LOT of time researching what these programs are like, and actually every "reparative therapy method/exercise" you see in the book came from research. I didn't make any of that stuff up. The camp itself is actually a composite of a few places I'd read about or saw in documentaries, and a setting that came from my own imagination. The things that happen at the camp are very real, but I made up this particular place in the mountains of Virginia.

When writing, do you have any music on? Is there a particular genre or artist you use to get yourself in a certain headspace?

I often do listen to music while I'm writing, but the genres and artists vary. It always has to be something that's the right "mood" for the project/scene I'm working on, but also not something too distracting that I'll just stop writing and start singing along. :)

Do you have any upcoming projects, books or otherwise, that you're pumped about?
I have a book coming out in Spring of 2015 and I'm super excited about it. It's a YA contemporary called What You Left Behind, about a boy named Ryden who is struggling with the guilt that if he hadn't gotten his girlfriend pregnant, she wouldn't have postponed her chemo treatments – and would still be alive. It's my first book from the POV of a boy. I just got a sneak peek at the cover -- it might be my favorite cover yet!


What made you want to be a writer and, had this not worked out (we are incredibly glad it did!), what would you have done?

I didn't realize I wanted to be a writer until I was in my late twenties. I'd always been a big reader, but never thought I could write a whole book. I was an actor in NYC for ten years and was growing frustrated with the long periods between gigs, so I tried writing a book as a way of getting my creative muscles working again. And I loved it so much that I decided to quit acting and go to graduate school for writing. If I hadn't done that, I would probably still be in the theater world!

What are three things about your life so far that you've found interesting or odd?

Haha good question! Let's see...

I feel infinitely more comfortable in cities than rural areas.
I'm OBSESSED with romance stories, but I'm actually not a very romantic person in my own life.
Thinking about outer space freaks me the hell out.

If you could pick a song to describe yourself what would it be?

"I Need a Dollar" by Aloe Blacc. LOL.
You're allowed to switch places with any fictional character for a week, who are you going to pick?

I would say Elizabeth Bennet, but the bathing facilities weren't quite top notch back in early 19th century England, so... I'll go with the most clich├ęd answer ever and say Hermoine Granger.

What are your biggest pet peeves in today's current YA books?

I LOVE dystopian love stories, BUT I think the premise needs to be executed well and the world has to be properly and convincingly built. Many authors do amazing jobs of this, but others don't, and seem to instead rely on the "trend" carrying them through, rather than taking the time to fully realize their world and the whys and hows of everything. You can tell the difference between an author who knows her world well, and one who doesn't. It comes through in the writing. And I think it can be a little insulting to readers to think they'll automatically love something, regardless of how much work or thought was put into it, just because the overall concept fits a certain trend.
YA adaptions are exploding into the media. Which are you most excited for?

My friend Amy Ewing (author of The Jewel) and I go see pretty much every single YA adaptation that comes out in theaters together. Some we're super excited about, and others we go see a little ironically. Haha. Right now I'm SUPER excited for Mockingjay. I think Catching Fire was quite nearly a perfect movie, and I'm so glad they're splitting Mockingjay into two films, to give that story the time it needs to fully shine.
You have 24 hours left before you cease to exist. In these 24 hours you are allowed to do whatever you want. You have no limits other than that pesky 24 hour thing. What would you do?

Get everyone I love together, including my dog, max out my credit cards and buy us all tickets to somewhere warm and beachy (but not TOO far away because of time limit), and eat lots of macaroni and cheese, Indian food, and Thai food on the way there.

Thank you for answering my questions. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the readers?

Thank you for reading and being interesting in my books! I know I often push boundaries in my books and I don't shy away from the Tough Stuff, but I'm so honored and lucky to get to continue to write books about things I truly believe are important. So thank you for reading, and allowing me to keep doing it!

And thank you Jessica for writing such amazing and evocative books!

About the Author

Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY, and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. She loves seltzer, Tabasco sauce, TV, vegetarian soup, flip-flops, and her dog. Visit her at jessicaverdi.com and follow her on Twitter @jessverdi.

Twitter | Goodreads | Website

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Fears


Life of a Book Blogger is a feature created by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat where we just get to know the bloggers behind our fave blogs with weekly questions unrelated to books. If you want to know more click the link above. I'll be doing this every Thursday. 

This week's topic is: Fears.

I'll be the first to admit that, while some of my fears are run of the mill? Most of my fears are kind of strange and quirky, much like me.

I would say that greatest fears are tornadoes, someone shaving my head while I sleep, someone hurting Benny, ants, my Papa's funeral, and that I'm an inconvenience.

The tornado fear stems from the fact that you can't really predict, control, or run from a tornado. Any other natural disaster doesn't faze me. But this one? I'm in tears every time it happens. In the south where I live? From March through October a tornado tends to crop up at least one a year. The whole family wakes up and huddles in the middle of the house. I always grab my cat and just try not to cry. Sometimes we sit there for five minutes, other times it's hours. I have GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) so I often have anxiety attacks during them as well. I hate not feeling safe. Your home is supposed to be a safe place. When something like that happens you aren't really safe anywhere and you can't outrun it. And if you get swept into it? They tell you in elementary school that if you get on the ground, against the wall, forehead touching your knees, and your hands holding your neck into place that you'll survive. If you get caught in a twister, you'll probably instantly die from your neck breaking, severing it from your spinal cord or be ripped limb from limb. 

The shaving the head thing. I'm not someone who's really vain, but I'm really really weird about my hair. I have very thick, curly, coarse hair. I actually have an afro unless I use heat styling and many products. I don't know where this came from, but I always had super long hair growing up. It wasn't until after I turned 23 that I cut it above my shoulders. People tell me it's liberating, but I just....it's a comfort thing. It's something I can hide behind if need be, something I can control. Sometimes. 

My inconvenience fear stems from the fact that my immune system is complete and utter crap as well as my mental illness. I end up in the hospital one to five times a year and in the ER more than twice. I'm constantly fighting off something. Sometimes I'm fighting off stuff no one my age should be fighting off such as shingles and whooping cough. I have so many doctors that it's crazy. Due to my many triggers and mercurial moods I can be a lot to handle. This stuff is expensive and it inhibits my life a lot. I can't control it. I don't let it control me, but most days things are really hard. My friends and family have to put up with a lot. Whether it be the fact that I'm unreliable due to these things or that there are some things I just cannot do, I worry that they start to see me as an obligation and not an asset to their lives. No one wants to feel this way. But I often do. And I'm scared they'll drop me for it. Luckily I've gotten where I have great people in my life that understand that I have limits and don't drop ableist or bigoted bullsh*t on me because I'm not always capable of what they are.

I HATE ants. I don't like most insects. I'm allergic to bees and yellow jackets. If I get stung my throat will close up. But ants are the bane of my existence. They are so ORGANIZED. I'm scared they're going to take over the world one day. I will lose my **it over ants.

First off, I think that hurting an animal is one of the most abominable things you can do. I'm terrifed that someone will hurt my cat. Baby passed earlier this year and now I have Benny. I am very very very protective of my cat. If something happened to him I don't know how I'd ever cope. with that. I can never have children so my cat...he's it you know? And I love him unconditionally and he returns that. 

My Papa's funeral...this is complicated, but I'm going to explain it like this. When my Nana died in 2011, that was the worst thing I ever went through. I lost the most important person in the world and the funeral was a nightmare. My uncle pulled some really effed up stuff and then decided to tell my mother that me getting sick was going to kill my grandfather. I'm scared of what he'll be like at this funeral. We don't associate or talk with my uncle. I know that my grandfather has made them come to Thanksgiving so that we can do that together...but I refuse to go. I'm pretty sure I'd slap him if I saw him.

There are a ton more fears like being locked in a completely yellow room (I hate the color), people who don't listen when you tell them NO, being tortured and then left to slowly die, doctors judging me before they meet me, people looking through my private journals, never being able to go back to college, losing my war with mental illness, losing my loved ones, heights, sharks, losing contact with my friends that don't live near me, turning into my dad, being forgotten, big crowds, people making fun of my weight, stigma, going blind, my mind atrophying,blacking out and doing things with no knowledge of it when I regain consciousness, and never being able to be seen as a person rather than my label of mentally ill.

What about you guys? Comment and leave a link so I can give you some love.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Read and Review: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Title: The Scorch Trials
Author: James Dashner
Series/Standalone: Series (The Maze Runner #2)
Genre(s): Young Adult, Dystopian, Mystery/Suspense
Summary: Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end.

Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.

There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.

The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off.

There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive.

**Trigger Warning**: There's sci-fi violence/action and disturbing imagery  
Review: Okay. If you've read my review for the first book in this series, than you know that I loved it. The pacing was quick, the action relentless, and the mystery wholly engrossing. It left me wanting to know what the hell these kids could face after such a crazy race for survival in the maze.

Well, let me just say that Mr. Dashner wasted absolutely no time letting us know that "The Maze Runner" was only the beginning of his crazy imagination. In this sequel, the gang from the Glade think that they've been rescued from the tortures of the maze. Suffice it to say, that's the biggest load of BS ever. Instead, our ragtag group is given a single night to rest up after the events of the first book before being thrust into a whole new set of trials where there are no rules and no aid. The boys are forced to trek miles across a treacherous and devastated wasteland in the hopes of finding a cure for a disease known as the Flare - which they have all graciously been infected with.

Now, as far as the pacing and the action goes, Dashner amps it up in this sequel. Just like its predecessor, this book has scenes of intense action that had me holding my breath more than once. The chapters are short, concise, and move the mystery of the story right along. Unfortunately, that's about all this book has going for it.

Trust me, I really wanted to love this book even more than the first. In some ways, I did. Yet, I mostly found myself wondering why Dashner didn't devote more time to the character development of our main group. Even worse, he throws more characters into the mix that add almost nothing to the actual plot and serve no real purpose other than giving our characters a way to get from Point A to Point B. One of the best examples of these characters is a second love interest that Dashner introduces for Thomas. She immediately, and I do mean immediately, attaches herself to Thomas and within a matter of hours, we are expected to believe that Thomas has real feelings for her. We're supposed to feel conflicted about who he should want to be with. However, this love triangle plot device feels so forced and out of place, that it drags the story down in a major way. After this aspect was introduced, I found myself constantly pulled out of the book because it was completely unbelievable.

And the ending made absolutely no sense. I don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to spoil it for any of you, but some wild, and I do mean wild, things happen that left me scratching my head saying, Really?

And not in a good way.

Rating:


About the Author: James is the author of THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy and THE 13TH REALITY series. He also published a series (beginning with A DOOR IN THE WOODS) with a small publisher several years ago. He lives and writes in the Rocky Mountains.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I'd Love to Read, but Don't Own Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature created at the iconic blog, The Broke and the Bookish. If you like making lists then I highly recommend that you participate in this. Check out about how to participate in the feature HERE.

This week's theme is a doozy. It's about books I'd love to read, but don't own yet. Here we go. For the record these are in no particular order.



1. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
SummarySydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets--and human lives." 
In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

This is the third book in the sequel series to "Vampire Academy" series. I've just finished reading the first two and I need to own this like burning. Money isn't exactly easy atm though,*le sigh*

2. The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
Summary: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives.

In The Indigo Spell, Sydney was torn between the Alchemist way of life and what her heart and gut were telling her to do. And in one breathtaking moment that Richelle Mead fans will never forget, she made a decision that shocked even her. . . .

But the struggle isn't over for Sydney. As she navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure — and re-education — looms larger than ever.


Pulses will race throughout this smoldering fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where no secret is safe.

This is the fourth book in the Bloodlines series that I need like I need oxygen. I hate having to wait for books. Often this is such a strong dislike that I'll wait until an entire series out before I'll read it.

3. Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off

This is the fifth book in the Bloodlines series. I will probably collapse in tears once I'm able to read it.

4. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Summary: Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

I'm a huge huge huge Sarah Dessen Fan. You could not pay me enough to stay away from this book and I'm ashamed that I haven't already read it.


5. Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie
Summary: In Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit, thirty-something Abby Cooper lives a life that's kind of like vanilla ice cream - good enough, but a little bland. Her work as a P.I. - Psychic Intuitive - can be rewarding, but she feels like somehow she's missing out on the hot-fudge topping...

Now she's getting what she wished for - when a client winds up dead and the clues start pointing in Abby's direction.Turns out she knows too many details about the murder for her own good. To make matters worse, the hot blind date she just met is the lead investigator on the case. And gorgeous Detective Dutch Rivers is convinced she's a fraud.

No matter how great her psychic abilities, Abby doesn't know if she can solve this case. Unfortunately for her, though, the killer thinks she can.

I'm going to fly through this, it sounds like the PsyCop series, which is one of my favorite series.

6. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his....

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves.

I cannot wait to read the sequel as I've just finished the first and I'm in love with the show. Review for the first one coming soon!

7. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
Summary: From the author of the breathtaking bestsellers Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, the extraordinary saga continues.
Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her...the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland... and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

This series is destined to break my heart. I know it is. I am going to end up with allll the feels.

8. Dances Through Glass by Polly Norman
Summary: From depression so major she had trouble functioning to uncontrollable fear in mania, Polly Norman reveals her struggle with manic depressive disorder and how it comes out in her collection of abstract art. Her experience as a dancer and dance photographer also influence the work. Subconsciously, the work took on a "dancey" look.

Norman is the inventor of an unusual technique of her own invention. To make her abstract pieces, she photographs objects placed behind glass block in black and white. Select works have photograms added and/or are painted.

Her pain and passion are revealed in visual art and writing.


9. Bad For You by Abbi Glines
Summary: Innocence was never meant for the addictive… 

Addiction was something Krit Corbin accepted as part of his nature a long time ago. He decided to embrace it and flip his finger at the rules. Women had always been the number one thing on his list of addictions. He couldn’t get enough. Being the lead singer in a rock band had only made access to his favorite addiction that much easier.

Being alone was the only thing Blythe Denton understood. The small town minister’s family that raised her hadn’t accepted her as their own. The minister’s wife had always made sure Blythe understood just how unworthy she was of love. When Blythe is sent away to college and given a chance to finally be free of living as an unwanted burden, she looks forward to having peace in her life. Being alone isn’t something that bothers her. She escapes reality in the stories she writes.

However, the ridiculously sexy tattooed guy who keeps throwing parties in the apartment above hers is driving her crazy. For starters, he doesn’t treat her like she would expect a guy with a different woman always hanging on his arm to treat someone as uninteresting as her. She looks nothing like the gorgeous women she sees parading in and out of his apartment, but for some strange reason he keeps showing up at her door.

During a party at his apartment, Krit’s new neighbor comes to the door with her long brown hair pulled up in a messy knot and a pair of glasses perched on her cute little nose. She wants him to turn down the music, but he convinces her to stay.

Krit Corbin may have just found his biggest addiction yet. And Blythe Denton realizes too late that she’s finally been claimed.

10. Hold on Tight by Abbi Glines
Summary: Six years ago, Dewayne Falco's life changed. He lost someone he never expected to lose. Resigned to punish himself for something he felt he could have prevented, he goes through life without getting too close to anyone.

What he didn't expect was for the girl across the street to move back home and remind him of what they both lost: Dewayne's younger brother Dustin. However, when a miniature version of Dustin opens the door to greet him, Dewayne realizes he might not have lost everything after all.

Sienna Roy loved Dustin Falco most of her life. He was the boy next door, the high school basketball star and her best friend. But when his life was cut short, she realized he left a part of himself behind.

Now, she's back in Sea Breeze, thankful to have a home for her and Dustin's son, but not sure if she can ever forgive the people across the street who abandoned her when she needed them the most — The Falcos.

Betrayal, lies, and forbidden attraction might end Dewayne and Sienna's story before it's even begun.

Abbi Glines is one of my guiltiest pleasures. I'm so in love with her writing and storytelling that it's not even funny.

So those are my top ten books that I'd love to read, but don't own yet. What are yours? Leave me a comment and link back to your blog and I'll check yours out!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Read and Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series/Standalone: The Naturals Book One
Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal Romance,
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.
**Trigger Warnings**: Gore, stalking, violence
Buy the Book: Books A Million / Barnes and Noble / Amazon / The Book Depository

Review: I've seen a lot of mixed reviews about this one and, partially, that's why I bought it. The other reason is because I love to read and watch stuff about criminal profiling. Behavioral analysis is a very interesting topic to me.

First of all, I believe this a a promising start for a new series. The author didn't spend a million years establishing a love triangle, no instalove, teased/foreshadowed things about characters (that will hopefully be elaborated on in later books) while maintaining a good base to build each character from. She also kept everything moving at a good pace. Not only was it enjoyable, but I honestly didn't know where the time had gone because it kept me hooked from beginning to end. I also have to give Barnes a major kudo for keeping the tropes in her book fresh and never misusing a psychological term.

Personally, I love the premise and it doesn't seem so outlandish. The FBI training is a little Agent Cody Banks, but people being a "natural" at profiling or reading emotions? That is not at all outside of the realm of possibility. If you doubt me? Look up the definition of mentalists for a brainbender. And Sloane's ability is pretty much an eidetic memory, much like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory.

I actually loved the switching POVs. They were written in such distinct voices that I had no trouble slipping from one mindset to the other. It not only kept you guessing, it added a sinister urgency to the story. I cringed on more than one occasion while reading the unsub's more primal language. And just saying? I so called it, though the author definitely had me second guessing myself in that scene.

I also loved the way that Dean and Cassie, as well as the three other Naturals, talents were showcased. The way Dean and Cassie (more Cassie in this book) walked you through someone's mind using behavioral and contextual clues to build up, not only a personality profile, but the motive and possible history along with it. The way they entered someone else's mindset and traveled that landscape was insane. However, I have to wonder about the psychological repercussions this is going to have on them in later books. I really hope Barnes does explore that. To do what they do you have to do into a very dark place and shaking off the shadows of it are far easier said than done. It's one thing to see trauma played out on a tv show, which some of us know can be jarring in more than one way, but to see the kind of carnage these kids see at a crime scene, the reality of someone being brutally murdered and mutilated? I really want to see how they cope. I don't think anyone could come unchanged and calm out of that, aside from a sociopath. Will they all become harder? Or more fragile? This is a hard field for an adult to handle. I guess time will tell.

I'm really impressed with the stakes that are presented in this world. They have it all riding on these kids. There is not a margin for mistakes or errors. A mistake could mean someone's life. This is something every character is aware of.

I'm very invested to see how this love triangle continues to manifest itself. I HATE love triangles, but this one was handled with a steady hand and minimal 'woe is me.' I will admit to comparing Cassie to Caroline Forbes, Michael to Klaus Mikaelson, and Dean to Tyler Lockwood of the TV show The Vampire Diaries in the intial set up of the triangle.

The only horrible part of this book is that I have to wait until November for the next one.

Suffice to say The Naturals is a solid foundation to build a fantastic series on. It's got the potential to have at least ten books without being a cash cow or stale. I can't wait to learn more about them all and watch them grow. Jump on The Naturals wagon with me. It'll be one of the best rides you take this year.


About the Auhor
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.

Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She'll be spending the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Twitter / Blog / Author Website / Goodreads