Bout of books 13 – day four progress


I have to admit day four of this marathon has been my best day for reading. I managed to read 44 pages of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and it’s getting really good.

How was your fourth day?

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Review: Turning Pointe by Katherine Locke


Turning Pointe by Katherine Locke
Publication date: April 10, 2015

Series: District Ballet Company #0.5

Synopsis: Zedekiah Harrow is Alyona Miller’s other half—the Z to her A, her rock in the chaotic, competitive world of professional ballet. He’s the one person who can talk her anxiety away, the one person she knows will never judge her. That she’s starting to think about him as more than a best friend is something new entirely.

Aly is Zed’s everything, but their “just friends” label is beginning to chafe. When the company embarks on a month-long European tour, the magic of Amsterdam and a nearly indecent pas de deux routine combine, making their chemistry—both on and off the stage—impossible to ignore.

But just as Aly and Zed begin to see what everyone else already knows, just when they’ve taken the leap from friends to lovers, the unthinkable happens. And in the blink of an eye, Ally and Zed are taken back to the beginning…

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

After reading Second Position in April, I just HAD to read the prequel! Let me tell you guys, this book was freaking amazing! I absolutely loved seeing the chemistry between Ally and Zed before the events in Second Position.

This novella was everything I wanted and so much more. It had all of the broken characters from Second Position and it gave a background to exactly WHY they were broken. It showed the relationship between Zed and Ally as well as the stress they underwent as dancers. It was exquisitely written and I didn’t want it to end!

I really liked seeing the life Ally and Zed led before Second Position and why they still felt so much stress after leaving dance. The relationships both characters had with other members of their dance company were gorgeous and hilarious. The easy banter between Ally and Zed was just wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time.

Thank you so much for writing this short prequel Ms. Locke because it was perfection!

Overall, Turning Pointe was an amazing prequel novella to Second Position and I ABSOLUTELY NEED Finding Center now!

Bout of books 13 – day three progress


We’re on the third day (in terms of updates) of Bout out books—we’re actually on day four as I write this. Sadly, I made less progress than I did on day two. However, I did manage to read a bit.

I read 14 pages—one chapter in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer which is about half of what I read on day two.

So far in day four I’ve read fifty pages but let’s see if I manage more.

How did you do?

Book Blitz: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill


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Today I’m participating in a book blitz for Only Ever yours and I’m so happy I can share this book with you guys. When I saw the summary I was hooked! I’ve been looking for a book with a plot like this after reading The Jewel and Mine and this sounds like the perfect book!

Only Ever Yours
Title: Only Ever Yours

Author: Louise O’Neil

Publication date: May 12, 2015

Publisher: Quercus/Hachette

Pages: 398

Synopsis: Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O’Neill’s world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls (called “eves”) are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. Freida and Isabel are best friends.

Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions–wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives–life as a concubine, or a chastity (teaching endless generations of girls)–are too horrible to contemplate.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty–her only asset–in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future–even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

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Advanced Praise for Only Ever Yours

“Terrifying and heartbreaking, O’Neill’s story reads like an heir to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and M.T. Anderson’s Feed, and, like those books, it’s sure to be discussed for years to come.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“A dark dream. A vivid nightmare. The world O’Neill imagines is frightening because it could come true. She writes with a scalpel.”
—Jeanette Winterson

“An ingenious exploration of gender roles, female identity, and female competition.”
—Buzzfeed

“Unbelievably believable, compelling, utterly riveting… Whilst it is dark, uncompromising and utterly daunting to read as a woman, it is and should be a classic in the making.”
—Liz Loves Books


Guest Post

Hello,

There are two questions that everyone asks, when they hear that I’m an author.
“Where do your ideas come from?
This seems to imply that I’m either stealing my ideas from other people (I’m not. I promise) or that I’m likely to run out of ideas in the near future. Both options are terrifying and haunt my dreams now.
Did you always dream of being a writer?
The second question is easier to answer without breaking out in a cold sweat. No, I didn’t always want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress although there was a brief period where I thought I might become a nun much to the delight of my grandparents. The joys of a Catholic childhood. While I didn’t harbour any ambitions to become an author, I always wrote. I kept journals from the age of eight, I wrote short stories and incredibly bad poetry as a teenager. Writing was my way of making sense of the world. Sometimes, I have to sit and start to write before I can begin to understand how I feel about something in my life. My opinion is formed through my pen.
I studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin and it was here, walking on the same cobblestones as Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett did before me, that I decided I would try to make words, beautiful words, my career.
Life is not always so simple.
At 25, I started working as a fashion intern for the Senior Style Director at ELLE magazine in New York. There are no The Devil Wears Prada type stories – she was lovely and kind and supportive. Yet I wasn’t happy. Faced constantly with fashion’s obsession with extreme thinness, the anorexia that I had battled as a teenager re-surfaced and I relapsed.
It was January 2011. I was sitting in a Starbucks in Brooklyn, waiting for the Q Train to start running again. I was reading a trashy gossip magazine, poring over photos of celebrities with ‘circles of shame’ drawn around their cellulite, stomach rolls, sweat patches. There is a woman sitting near me who is eating a muffin and I am fascinated by her. How can she eat that muffin and seem so carefree? Why is she not having an existential crisis over the calories that are in that muffin?
I was hungry. I wanted a muffin. But I thought if I ate a muffin, I would get fat. If I ate a muffin, I would have failed.
Suddenly, a vision flared in my mind. It was bold, bright, beautiful. It was a young girl, standing in her bikini in front of a classroom while an older woman with a bald head was standing in front of her. The older woman had a red marker in her hand and she was drawing circles around the young girl’s ‘fat areas’ while the rest of the classroom chanted FAT. FAT. FAT. I grabbed my notebook and I started writing.
A world in which girls are bred for their beauty.
Why? Because women are no longer able to bear daughters. Their wombs will only accept a male fetus.
I sat in that coffee shop for two hours, scribbling pages and pages of notes but it wasn’t until March 2012, when I had returned home to Ireland, that I started to write what would eventually become Only Ever Yours.
I began sending it to literary agents in November 2012 and the reaction was instantaneous. Within a week, agents wanted to see the full manuscript. I had offers from five agents, some of whom were amongst the most well respected in the world. I had offers from a number of different publishers, finally signing with Quercus in May 2013.
Only Ever Yours was published in Ireland and the UK in July 2014 and my world has been irrevocably altered. While the awards and the rave reviews are gratifying, it is the reaction from readers that has been incredibly humbling. I receive letters and emails almost daily from women who want to share their stories with me and who want to tell me how my book has changed their outlook on life. That people have connected on such a deep emotional level with my work is something that I dreamed of but could barely hope for.
I truly hope that you enjoy Only Ever Yours. You can find me on Twitter @oneilllo to either message me or to read my increasingly inappropriate ramblings!

-Louise

Author
About the Author

Louise O’ Neill is from Clonakilty, in west Cork. After graduating with a BA in English Studies at Trinity College Dublin, she went on to complete a post-grad in Fashion Buying at DIT. Having spent a year in New York working for Kate Lanphear, the senior Style Director of ELLE magazine, she returned home to Ireland to write her first novel.

She went from hanging out on set with A-list celebrities to spending most of her days in pyjamas while she writes, and has never been happier.

Author Links:
Website│
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook


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Bout of Books 13 – Day 1—Book Survey


As part of Bout of Books, I’m participating in the first challenge. This one isn’t so much a challenge as a getting to know me kind of thing.

Bookish Survey

Today’s challenge is very easy and a great way to meet people and get to know your fellow readers! All you need to do for this challenge is answer the questions below on your blog, Twitter, YouTube, or wherever you happen to be updating your read-a-thon progress! Then come back and link up your answers (or answer, I know Twitter will be tricky with this so you can just link up one tweet here). It would be great if you visited other’s challenge answers and chatted with them, since part of this whole thing is creating a reading community, but it isn’t required.

The Questions:

1. How do you organize your shelves?

Oh dear! I don’t really organize my shelves. Most of my shelf space is taken up by braille books. Honestly, the seven Harry Potter books are probably fifty volumes–I’ll have to take a picture of just the fifth book which is thirteen volumes. My signed and won books I have on shelves or in my nightstand drawer stacked on each other. *Gasp* I hope to get either more shelves or get rid of some of the little kid books I have so I can make room.

2. What is one of your favorite books that’s not in one of your favorite genres?

Ooh, this one’s hard to answer. I guess if I’d have to choose I would go with Crazy Love: A Memoir by Leslie Morgan Steiner. It’s about her journey with an abusive spouse and how she managed to get out of the relationship. I usually don’t like memoirs, but I feel really strongly about this subject and really like how the book was written.

3. What is the last 5 star book you read?

Well, I’m still deciding on what to rate Saint Anything because part of me wants to go with five stars but the other wants four and a half. Anyway, I’ll go with Turning Pointe by Katherine Locke.

4. What book are you most excited to read during the read-a-thon?

I’m probably most excited to finish The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer because I like the plot and have no idea what’s going on so I want to see what happens at the end.

5. What book do you recommend the most?

Honestly! This is a hard question. I’ll go with this, Sarah Dessen, My Life Next Door, and All the Bright Places.

What were your answers to the questions? Did you like getting to know a little more about me?

Bout of Books 13 – TBR and Goals


Okay, so I’ve decided to join in #BoutOfBooks this week. I just finished two of three AP exams and have to study for only two classes. I feel that I’ll have the time to read and actually get things accomplished.

My TBR:

  1. Finish The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (330 pages left)
  2. Finish Miss Mayhem (about halfway to go)
  3. Read The Revenge Playbook

Other goals:

  1. Post book blitz tomorrow
  2. Write and schedule my review of Saint Anything

Are you participating? What do you want to get accomplished during the marathon?

Review: From the Ashes by Shelby K. Morrison


From the Ashes by Shelby K. Morrison
Publication date: May 3, 2015

Series: Legend of the Liberator #1
Synopsis: For eighteen years Aia Wynnald has lived a lie. Raised as a highborn in the Kingdom of Tharien, she’s filled her days with tutors and archery lessons. But simmering beneath her polite surface is a dangerous gift, one which she must keep a secret. Aia is a Bender. And in Tharien, Benders are feared and hunted.
When her unruly power breaks free with dire repercussions, Aia’s lifelong goal of independence shatters. As she scrambles to piece her life back together while evading capture, she disturbs a vengeful force intent on destroying the kingdom.
Now, with the help of an unlikely ally, Aia will decide the fate of Tharine. To rescue those she cares about will require accepting what she is. But can she risk becoming the monster she’s dreaded to save the very citizens baying for her blood?


Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

**I received a copy of this book on a read to review basis in exchange for an honest review.**

I really needed a nice, refreshing fantasy book with a different plot when I picked up this book and that’s exactly what I got. This book had everything: an original plot, well-developed characters, and rich world building that wasn’t overwhelming. However, there were some things I didn’t like about this book–well, mainly just one.

First, let’s start with the many things I did like. The number one thing I liked about this book was its totally original concept! It dealt with benders, people who could shape elements around them and bend them at will–think Last Airbender–and normal people who wanted the benders gone and out of their world. Yes, I know I just compared it to Avatar, but I say original because I’ve never seen the concept in a book. The way Ms. Morrison developed all of the bending abilities characters had, why they were being persecuted, and the rituals behind “cleansing” and “draining” them was absolutely wonderful. She developed the world and their beliefs as well as its layout and description/history so that it wasn’t overwhelming. Instead of throwing all of the information at you like some fantasy books, Ms. Morrison slowly introduced different parts of the world as they were necessary to the plot’s development.

I really loved all of the growth all of the characters, but mainly Maia (Aia for short) underwent throughout the story. At first, Maia had no idea what to do, but instead of sitting on her butt for someone to rescue her, she actually did something about it! Shocking right? Anyway, throughout the book Aia was faced with so many hard choices and had to weigh what she wanted versus what would help everyone the most.

Now, on to the things I didn’t like. 😦 For one thing, I felt that the book was a bit slow at times. I don’t know why, but I just wanted a little more action. As far as I know, I’m the only one who felt this way, so maybe there’s something wrong with me. In hindsight, I feel that the book piked up around the 40% mark because enough world-building and character development allowed the plot to turn more action-filled. I understand why the book picked up at the 40% mark as it was the right time, but I still wish there had been a little more in the beginning. However, once the book did pick up pace, it didn’t let me down and it kept the pace until the very end.☺

The other issue I had with this book is that I could guess some of the plot twists in it. Again, maybe that was just me. However, I really liked that even though I’d guessed some of the twists, they didn’t make the story any less interesting. There were definitely some twists I wasn’t expecting, but again, I really liked the twists the book took.

Overall, From the Ashes was a good start to a new fantasy series, but I was expecting more from it. I will definitely read the next book to see where the characters and storyline go.

Review: Bomb by Sarah Mussi


Bomb
Bomb by Sarah Mussi
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


I received this book on a read to review basis, but this in no way affected my opinion. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this.


When I first heard about Bomb, i was really intrigued by the premise of a girl who becomes a weapon of mass destruction and has to follow certain instructions from an unknown source. However, I’m disappointed to say that the book fell way short of my expectations. While the main premise of the book was great, I feel that the author really didn’t develop the characters, storyline, and background at all. To me, the characters felt one-dimensional and I didn’t care for their plight. I really wanted to feel bad for the situation Genesis, the main character was in because I can’t even begin to comprehend what it would be like to be strapped to a bomb. However, a combination of the writing style and lack of emotion the characters showed toward the situation made it virtually impossible to connect. The emotion Genesis showed seemed really–relaxed, or just not fitting to the situation, and made the book have a younger feel to me. The writing style also made it hard to read as paragraphs were constantly started for no reason and words were capitalized for emphasis instead of using other more intense verbs/descriptions. Don’t get me wrong, capitalizing and italicizing for effect is fine, but when an author constantly does it instead of using more vivid descriptions it really bugs me.

Along with under-developed characters, I felt that Bomb dragged so much and went around in circles. Again, I really like the premise of the story, but I felt that with the writing style the author used the book went on for a really long time. The pacing seemed kind of slow and unnecessary at times while at others it was hurried which made the book a little confusing to follow. However, I do like the way the author was trying to introduce other characters and questions that are arising in today’s world about extremism.

Lastly, I don’t know how I feel about the end. On the one hand, I liked how it left me with questions, but I also feel that it was really anticlimactic.

Overall, Bomb is a book with a great premise, but it fell extremely short of my expectations.